Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

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Spectacularly Pleasant

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We were blessed with a fabulous summer-weather day for our Wildwood Lodge Club annual Fourth of July games. Things started a little slow, with a pickup wiffleball game occupying some of us, while the rest of the folks made their way to the lodge.

The flag was raised to a recorded version of our National Anthem.

Shoes were kicked.

Also, water balloons were tossed (thrown), wet sponges were passed, bodies were spun, and watermelon was handlessly gobbled. Yes, it gets messy.

Greased watermelons were then wrestled toward invisible goal lines.

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Finally, a feast was shared in the lodge.

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After dinner, I played a little guitar around the fire to cap off a spectacular day of events.

The most difficult part of this precious weekend is facing the return to reality that happens today. We drive home this afternoon in a line of holiday traffic to resume our normal weekday duties.

I suppose the plus side of that is, it tends to make days like these all the more special that we get to experience them.

This year will go down as a particularly precious Fourth of July weekend enjoying summer games up at Wildwood with all the families present.

I look forward to dwelling on it for as long as circumstances will allow.

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Written by johnwhays

July 7, 2019 at 8:23 am

Real Joy

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We are up at the lake for our US holiday weekend closest to Independence Day and large numbers of family are in attendance. That makes for special times. Even though the earth is shaking in California and stupid statements fly in Washington, D.C., our attention is localized in the here and now.

Last night the cousins and friends gathered around a table for a rousing game of “Catch Phrase” which blossomed into a classic manifestation of unbridled joy.

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It’s as much fun to watch as it is being a contestant.

Today, the seven families of our Wildwood Lodge Club will congregate at the lodge for a flag raising and National Anthem followed by a parade up and down the driveway. Then, the games commence. Fierce competitions of coordination and silliness between teams labeled “bats” and “mice” as we toss balloons, kick shoes, and gobble watermelon.

Next, there will be a massive community feast in the lodge and maybe a few fireworks after dark.

Laughter abounds throughout it all.

Extended family, and friends and neighbors who have always been close as family, sharing time and activities together in the glorious lakeside summer sunshine.

Even though there are harsh realities in the world, moments of our freedom and independence can be celebrated among smaller communities who know how to show love to others and be loved ourselves.

We are very lucky, and I absolutely cherish these times when we get to be at the lake with the people who know us best, experiencing real joy and sharing so much genuine love.

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Written by johnwhays

July 6, 2019 at 8:37 am

Look Closer

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Just as soon as I go spouting off about there being few raspberries on our bushes, I discover that I was wrong. While mowing the lawn yesterday afternoon, I noticed the potential bounty that Cyndie was referring to the other day. Closer inspection revealed a good number of future berry blossoms developing on bushes in a variety of locations around the yard.

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The fruit might be ripening later than usual, but it does appear that there could eventually be a similar yield to last year’s big volume. That would be a real treat.

I rushed home from work yesterday to mow in order to be free to head to the lake this afternoon for the annual weekend of 4th of July games at Wildwood.

As I mowed past the fence-post where our rain gauge is mounted, I noticed an inch of water collected there. Our yard is an interesting mix of spots that are very wet and spots that look like they are starting to get too dry. Why is it always one or the other extreme around here?

Delilah will stay home this weekend with Maddie, who is caring for our animals while we are gone. There will be a full house up at the lake, and plenty of neighbors will bring their dogs, so we are going to simplify our visit by leaving Delilah behind.

I hope there won’t be too many fireworks popping off while we are away, so Maddie won’t have to endure the endless barking that Delilah does in response to the sounds. Of course, there’s always the possibility that the dog will behave like a little angel when someone other than us is taking care of her.

That kind of thing has been known to happen… However, I won’t be holding my breath in anticipation.

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Written by johnwhays

July 3, 2019 at 6:00 am

Recovery Day

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After an incredibly full day on Saturday, yesterday was a blink of doing next to nothing and seeing the minutes on the clock disappear just as fast. I don’t understand how that works.

The morning dawned with a gusting wind just ahead of a very dark thunderstorm, which forced Cyndie and me out of bed to race around picking up things that had been left outside at the end of the celebration evening. Once things were in order, Cyndie offered me the choice of going down to open the coop and feeding the chickens or going inside to feed the dog and cat.

I felt like feeding Delilah and ‘Nita required less thought, so chose that option. Seconds later, the rain began to pour down. Cyndie got soaked.

Two storms moved over us yesterday, but neither seemed particularly threatening. However, after the second one, Cyndie discovered that the top of one of our big oak trees had snapped off and was tipped down across the shortcut trail to the barn. I refused to take a picture because there was no way I could capture the actual detail of what happened. It’s too big. There’s no angle to show the actual size. It’s in the middle of so many other trees you can’t discern which leaves are which.

That never stops Cyndie.

Dealing with that new calamity will have to wait. Yesterday I squeezed in a nap and slowly chipped away at rediscovering order and routine from the aftermath of Saturday’s big event.

Let’s relive a couple of fine moments again…

I knew that we would continue straight on that road, but was all too happy to pause while the details were confirmed. At least I didn’t call for a wrong turn at this junction.

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It was a very happy birthday celebration and it was a great honor to be able to share it with my treasured friend, Paul Keiski.

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Written by johnwhays

July 1, 2019 at 6:00 am

Epic Ride

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It started out nice enough at six in the morning yesterday. Five riders rolling through Paul’s Linden Hills neighborhood, fresh and ready for the symbolic 60-mile bike ride from Paul’s house to mine. None of us had asked for a day with a heat index at or above 100°F.

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But that’s what we got. I’ll just say this: it was the kind of heat that saps your energy while you are just sitting there, let alone intensely exercising. I’m not going to mention the error in judgment I made in the last miles near home when I said to go right when we were supposed to turn left.

I blame it on oxygen deprivation. I plead insanity.

On the good side, it was brand new pavement that rolled smooth as silk.

We paused in Prescott, WI for refreshments and the ice cooler turned out to be a treasured perch.

At one point, Paul stepped out of the Holiday Station store and gushed, “Have you been in the beer cave?”

Three of us hustled in to check it out. Oh. My. Gosh. There was a temperature drop of about sixty degrees. I thought, “This can’t be good for me,” but it sure was refreshing. We walked around the stacks of bottles and cans for a while and dropped our body temperature a shocking amount.

As I stepped out of the cooler, I asked the attendant, “What do we owe you for ten minutes in the cooler?” She just gave us an odd look and shrugged us off.

We finally arrived at Wintervale in the waning moments before almost 100 guests were expected to start arriving. I’d share pictures with you here, but I didn’t take any. In fact, even though I don’t drink any alcohol, most of the afternoon and evening is pretty much a blur. Hours passed like minutes, I barely had a chance to complete a thought in conversation, and I had a wonderful time basking in the glow of love bestowed upon me as one of the birthday boys.

Thank you to all who showered us with love yesterday. I’m feeling particularly blessed and looking forward to laying low today in recovery from riding for hours in humid heat and finishing the day with a massive dose of social interaction.

I’m almost feeling my age this morning.

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Written by johnwhays

June 30, 2019 at 9:37 am

Party Day

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It’s the big day! I’m gone biking by the time you read this, with Paul and three friends, Dan, Bill, and Brad, on our way from Minneapolis to Wintervale for the gala celebration of Paul’s and my 60th birthdays.

We’ll have 60 miles under our belts and be ready to party before guests start to arrive, if all goes as planned. The only thing I forgot to bring with me to Paul’s house yesterday was my water bottles. Luckily, they had a couple I could borrow.

We are hoping to ride early to beat the expected heat. Happy 60th to us!

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Written by johnwhays

June 29, 2019 at 6:00 am

My Turn

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Today it is my turn to join the club of 60-year-olds. Sixty years ago today I showed up as the latest addition to the Hays clan. Luckily, we tend toward not remembering our moment of arrival, but I bet I was kicking and screaming until that warm blanket swaddled me tightly. By my calculations, I have just completed a third stint of becoming a twenty-year-old.

I’m pretty confident that I am twenty years smarter than I was when I reached forty.

I will always remember the spectacular celebration of my fortieth birthday, because my life-long chum, Paul Keiski, and I combined our adjacent birthdays with a plan to thwart our wives trying to hold a surprise party for us. We announced a plot to do a nighttime 40-mile bike ride figuring nobody would be crazy enough to participate.

Turned out there were a lot more crazy people than we accounted for, so a fabulous group night-ride became an annual necessity for years after. That night when Paul’s birthday ended and mine started, we decided we had each ridden 20 moonlit miles by that point, so together, forty had been achieved.

Now, twenty years later, we gave in and let our wives plan a celebration event. I fear it may dwarf either of our weddings in terms of their efforts to prepare food, beverages, and entertainment for a wedding-sized guest list.

Once again, Paul came up with the perfect antidote for too much party. This time we are going to do all the miles.

Turns out, the distance between Paul’s house and Wintervale Ranch, location of the joint-birthday gala, is sixty miles. He suggested we ride our bikes to the party.

Count me in!

Pedaling from the biggest city in Minnesota to our country sanctuary is symbolic in more ways than just the mileage for me. Joining Paul for the journey is icing on the cake.

It is a precious treat to be sharing the process of aging with a pal to whom you’ve been connected since grade school.

Happy Birthday to Paul (yesterday) and me (today)!

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Written by johnwhays

June 26, 2019 at 6:00 am