Relative Something

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

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Another Staycation

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We were able to getaway in town this weekend, leaving Jackie to take care of animals at home. Cyndie and I went off to spend a couple of nights at her parents’ house in Edina. Fred and Marie were headed for a cruise in Germany with friends of theirs, and we provided transportation to the airport yesterday.

Before that, we snuck out for a convertible cruise through our old Eden Prairie stomping grounds. The fabulous September sunshine provided ideal conditions. We stopped by a park to visit folks gathered for an EP fundraising event and enjoyed live music performed by Wondercure, some life-long friends.

After leaving the airport, we headed past an even older neighborhood of ours in south Minneapolis to hook up with more EP friends. We strolled with Paul and Beth along the Linden Hills streets for dinner near Lake Harriet.

Back at their house, we were treated with other-worldly dessert creations from a nearby bakery.

It all feels so cosmopolitan!

How did we come to deserve such richness of life, friends, and food.

It is not lost on me how much the remarkable warm September sunshine and blue skies contribute to making a day seem so positively regal.

Our experiences would have been much different had it been cool, gray, and wet.

I’m just sayin’.

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Written by johnwhays

September 9, 2018 at 9:35 am

Project Love

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There are some situations that provide me with enough incentive to complete a project in a fixed amount of time. It is apparent that I do better when given a firm deadline. The last couple of months have been a challenge for me to not write and share images of progress for a special carving I have done, because it was a secret.

The deadline has now passed and the secret is out. I carved a heart for George and Anneliese out of a chunk of the old ash tree we cut down last fall.

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Starting with a section where the trunk split into two branches, I trimmed the shape with a chain saw. The next shaping was done with an angle grinder.

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As I’m often prone to do, I wanted the end result to be a mix of unfinished and extremely polished surfaces. An added bonus was the incidental flat at the bottom, which allows the heart to appear to stand on the point seen from the front.

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One of the pleasures of this project was the number of opportunities when I was able to work out in the warm sunshine while refining the shape and honing the smoothness. I chose to apply a beeswax and orange oil wood polish and conditioner as a finish to bring out the grain.

Yesterday, we were finally able to present this literal heart-felt gift for the occasion of the wedding. What a joy!

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The culmination of a summer’s worth of creative design and loving contemplations.

A symbol of a love of many layers, great depth, multifaceted, both rough and polished, cracked, shaped, intricate, beautiful, balanced.

Simply, true love, in the symbol of the heart shape.

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Written by johnwhays

August 27, 2018 at 6:00 am

They Did!

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Under a few timely peeks of sunshine, in the presence of family and friends, George and Anneliese exchanged vows in the front yard of their home yesterday.

We were honored to be included in the blessed events of the day. It’s all about love, you know?

There was a lot of love saturating the celebration of the bride and groom’s love for each other.

Cyndie baked love into her contribution of umpteen varieties of cookies for the post-ceremony reception feast.

It’s a good thing she did, because the cookies themselves didn’t last. The love goes on forever.

There was plenty of love added to the universe yesterday near Princeton, MN.

Did you feel it?

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Written by johnwhays

August 26, 2018 at 8:45 am

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A Narration

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One of our trails that DOESN’T need mowing.

While Cyndie was in the cities providing training for others this week, I was occupied with my usual duties at the day-job. Yesterday’s commute home was smoother than usual for me, probably related to the fact I’d left an hour early to get home and mow the lawn.

We are headed out-of-town again this weekend, only this time we will be visiting George and Anneliese in Princeton on the occasion of their matrimony. Have guitar, will travel.

That means I need to get the weekend projects done in advance.

The lawn was an interesting combination of shriveled brown remnants of grass and a thick green carpet of maturing crabgrass. More often that desirable, it was also a wicked source of dusty dirt sent airborne in an exploding cloud by the three spinning mower blades.

The weed growth sprouting from cracks in the old asphalt of the driveway had started to get annoyingly tall, so I even made a few passes down the middle of the pavement with the deck set as low as it would go.

At the same time, I had an insight that the miniature berms we built up around the uphill portions of the paddock fence line, do not need to be completely ignored by the tractor. With the deck lifted to the highest setting, I steered one wheel up on the high point of the ridge and rode along the length of it.

Whaalaa. It no longer looks entirely neglected. We usually use the power trimmer to cut those ridges, but over a long enough interval that the grass gets outrageously tall and looks absolutely neglected. Why didn’t I think of this before?

When all of our grass had been cut, I parked the tractor outside to be cleaned. A little compressed air did wonders on the layer of dusty dirt that was clinging to every surface. I blew it all airborne, one last time, where most of it had a final chance to end up clinging to my clothes and skin.

When I came in the house, Pequenita was so happy to see me, I thought she might give me a tongue bath.

It took a shower to scrub off the grimy silt that had coated my pores.

Cyndie arrived home with another glowing report of amazing experiences from her day. She was so amped up, especially for someone as fatigued as she was, her narration was delivered at top speed. It was cute.

Today, only two sessions to go for her, then we hit the road.

We are really looking forward to seeing George and Anneliese again, and we are excited to see their newly built home.

Walker Farms, here we come!

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Written by johnwhays

August 24, 2018 at 6:00 am

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Partly Smoky

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Cyndie and I drove up to the lake last night. It was a long day in a car for her, because she started the day yesterday up at the lake. She had gone up on Wednesday with Melissa and daughters, in an original plan to have me drive up to join them Thursday night, but that changed when a memorial for Charlie Weller was announced for Friday.

Charlie was the husband of Cyndie’s close high school friend, LuAnn (Miller). The revised plan had Cyndie riding home with Melissa and the girls yesterday afternoon, taking a moment to freshen up from beachwear to something more appropriate, driving us through afternoon traffic to Eden Prairie from our house, and then heading back to the lake from there, after paying our respects.

LuAnn and Charlie were dating in high school, not long after Cyndie and I had begun our relationship, so my memories of Charlie are wrapped in fragments of events that I haven’t thought about in decades. Even driving on roads in Eden Prairie, now approaching only six years distant from when I drove them almost every day, was feeling a little fractured.

I had to ask if we turned right or left at the intersection by the House of Kai restaurant to get to the funeral home.

In our haste to pull off this plan, we left out one pertinent aspect of determining the optimal route back to northwestern Wisconsin. I was tempted to try the old way we always drove when our kids were little and we regularly made the trip on back roads, but construction and traffic made the city portion an unwanted annoyance.

We paused for dinner at Jake’s to give traffic more time to thin out.

In the end, we chose to skirt the metro area on 494 and head up toward Stillwater to cross into Wisconsin on the new bridge. The resulting country roads we picked provided a rich reward of light traffic, gorgeous rolling hills and spectacular scenery.

We chuckled over the MPR radio weather forecast of “partly smoky” from the many fires burning out west, but when changing stations to our old favorite WOJB as we got far enough north, we heard the same phrase used again. Maybe it is an actual authorized weather service term.

It sure made an impact on the setting sun. It was looking dusky a lot earlier than the actual time of sunset. I held up my phone through the open top of Cyndie’s convertible at 7:52 p.m. and experimented with capturing it at 60 miles an hour.

Then I tried zooming in. It looked like a cartoon drawing of the sun.

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The optics of my iPhone seem to have added special effects without my input. Yes, that’s the sun glowing through the smoky sky.

Between the funky looking sun, my grasping at recollections of interactions with LuAnn and Charlie back in the 1970s, and finally, unexpectedly stumbling upon a portion of our old back roads route, but from a different point, my mind was feeling partly smoky.

“We’ve been here before…”

Yes, we have.

And now we are up at the lake again this weekend.

Ahhhhh. I remember this.

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Written by johnwhays

August 11, 2018 at 8:44 am

Now Ten

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I didn’t hear anything from Cyndie yesterday, before she headed to the lake with Melissa and her girls, so I’m guessing there was no sign of what happened to our two missing chickens. Now there are ten.

Before Cyndie left, she was very industrious and constructed quite a netted courtyard around the coop for the chickens, so they weren’t confined to quarters all day after all.

The second I got home from work yesterday, I hopped on the lawn tractor to mow all our grass, so I didn’t even chat with Jackie for more than a brief moment to make a plan for Delilah. From the looks of things, I’m guessing she probably assisted in the installation of the coop fencing.

While I was mowing, she headed off to her night job at a local pub/eatery until closing time, so it was just me tending to all the animals, getting them tucked in for the night.

It was a gorgeous August night. It feels a little like nature is at a plateau lately. Even while putting conscious effort into focusing on the immediate moment, there is an unmistakable hint of summer’s end teasing of what comes next.

While walking one of our trails through the woods, I noticed the view through the trees is already opening up beneath the canopy. The late summer shade of our forest has brought an end to many of the lower plants that had started out strong in the early season sun.

That shade provides valuable air conditioning which takes the edge off days like yesterday, when the heat index was climbing into the 90s. It felt a lot hotter while I was commuting through the cities on the steamy pavement than it did when I finally arrived home.

Ahhhh. Living in the country. Huzzah!

It’s a real blessing. But you do have to keep an eye on your chickens.

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Written by johnwhays

August 9, 2018 at 6:00 am

Machine Ghost

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I don’t know what it is about this place, but my laptop is showing mysterious behaviors when I try using it up at the lake.

It doesn’t make sense to me that it is related to the internet connection, because the symptoms appear so hardware related. It’s as if the touchpad is getting repeated input, despite not being touched.

Maybe it is picking up electrical interference from something here, but I don’t know what that might be. It’s happened in different rooms. Once it starts, relocating doesn’t seem to help. Shutting down and then rebooting sometimes works for a short while, but not dependably.

The phone hasn’t been affected, so I am finger-poking the screen to create this post.

We sat around the fire till late last night and saw stars in the sky, but this morning dawns with a foggy overcast. I need to knock sand off my bike and pack it in the car for the trip home early today, hoping I can get there with time left for the weekend chores I skipped out on with this unexpected getaway.

The many laughs have been well worth the modifications to my routine.

I’m looking forward to getting the laptop back home to see if normalcy returns like it did last time it showed this spooky behavior up here. What are the odds the ghost will travel all that way just to haunt one specific machine?

Don’t bother answering that. It was mostly wishful thinking on my part.

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Written by johnwhays

August 5, 2018 at 7:29 am