Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘friends

Fun Surprise

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What could be more fun than getting together with life-long friends and heading out on a beautiful spring evening to see a Minnesota Twins baseball game at Target Field? I’ll tell you what. Discovering that your cousin from Duluth, whom you infrequently see, is at the same game and then sleuthing out his location to surprise him for a brief visit during the 7th inning.

Yes, that became my adventure the night before last. My son, Julian, brother-in-law, Steve, and four other Eden Prairie friends gathered downtown to see the Twins play game 2, of a 3-game series, against the LA Angels. It was a gorgeous night, and a delight to be out with treasured peeps to check on a team that has achieved an impressive amount of success recently, as compared to what Minnesota sports fans usually face.

As per today’s de rigueur trend, one of the guys snapped a phone selfie with the rest of us mugging around him for the shot. In an instant, our whereabouts were broadcast over the internet, where my sister, Judy, happened to see it. How many other spectators were simultaneously sharing pictures of their night at the ballpark? Well, it turns out Judy also found a post by our cousin, Charles Moulton, revealing his spectacular vantage point from behind home plate.

Suddenly my phone pings me with a message from Judy, showing me that our cousin was at the same game!

I could tell from the view in his image that we were on the same upper deck level, so Julian and I walked that direction to see if we could connect.

Since Charles had no idea we were at the game, I knew we had the upper hand in surprising him, as long as we spotted him first. It didn’t take long to confirm a sighting. He was in the first row, on the railing, and there just happened to be two open seats beside him. At the close of the sixth inning, we stealthily made our way down to the row behind him and then climbed over the back of the seats, asking, “Are these seats open?” without waiting for the answer he was politely offering.

He gave me a glance, as I smugly focused on him and not the field down in front of us, which subsequently induced a second look.

That’s when I was granted the ultimate reward of the surprise, as his face revealed the transforming expression of recognition and delight. We both had our sons with us, so there was also a meeting of second cousins. It was a real treat and a special bonus to an otherwise fabulous outing.

The Twins deserve some credit for putting on an exciting finish for the home crowd, despite the fact it was because they allowed the Angels to climb back from 4-0 to make it a one-run game. A big throw from center field to home for a lead-saving out gave us all much reason for revelry.

To top the night off, the sudden downpour of rain that popped up, waited until the game was over and we had made our way out of the stadium.

It was a wonderful week-night outing, topped with a special surprise that definitely qualified as my idea of fun!

Thanks, Judy!




Written by johnwhays

May 16, 2019 at 6:00 am

Downright Summery

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Warm, sunny days have been few and far between this spring, which makes yesterday special, relative to the competition. It was almost hot, at times, and there was enough sunshine to get burned, which I did a little bit, after sitting on the deck with our visiting friends, Jeff and Renee. We celebrated Jeff’s birthday with some berries over Cyndie’s homemade pound cake slices, and a lesson in the cribbage board-game, “CrossCrib®.”

Out of respect for those who were on the wrong end of an overwhelming scoring feat of 31-0, I’ll let the losers remain anonymous, but Jeff got a sweet birthday present in the win and I enjoyed the perk of being his partner.

Seeing our guests roll down the driveway on their motorcycles was inspiration for Cyndie to pull her convertible out for a thorough polishing, while I assembled and installed the pump and filter in our landscape pond.

I found Cyndie very agreeable when I suggested we celebrate my waterfall accomplishment with a convertible ride to the nearest Dairy Queen for a treat.

The buds on trees are hinting that leaves aren’t far off now, and we drove past several lawns being mowed for the first time, marking visible milestones in this year’s hesitant transition out of winter. Walking Delilah across the hill of our back yard, I quickly discovered our grass is definitely in need of a trim, too.

After a melty ice cream treat, Cyndie got us home just in time to turn on the 145th Kentucky Derby horse race and see a historic ending. In a first for the Derby, the first horse to cross the line in the muddy slop was not the official winner.

After race stewards reviewed the running, they disqualified Maximum Security for interference, bestowing the victory on 65-1 long shot runner-up, Country House.

The first leg of the Triple Crown is in the books. Can summer be far behind?



Written by johnwhays

May 5, 2019 at 8:40 am

Another Thought

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Well, tomorrow brings another thought. And, yesterday’s tomorrow, is today’s today. I have another thought this morning about how I might respond to the milestone of completing ten years of daily blogging. What if I did it for ten more? That’s another way to look at this interesting opportunity.

It has definitely become a comfortable habit that continues to offer me multiple benefits, and occasionally, surprising rewards. Also, by writing about my life every day, I avoid accumulating a build up of some wild idea about someday writing an autobiography.

I should try an experiment where I choose a memory from my past which I have already chronicled here years ago, and write a fresh version to compare how different they might come out. Last night, Cyndie and I met our friends, Barb and Mike for a fine dinner out in Red Wing, MN. One of our conversations touched on the fact that memories get reshaped a little each time we recollect them.

One way I have been contemplating a recognition of ten years of Relative Something is to mine the archives for a variety of gems from years ago and repost them anew. I’ve also begun seeking possibilities for resurrecting a couple of my old “games.” One involved guessing images from an extreme closeup, and another required readers to conjure their own picture in their minds from a description I write. A day later, I provide the picture I was describing for comparison.

Meanwhile, there is no shortage of new stories worth telling happening every day around here. The flooding wasn’t catastrophic for us, but it still caused me more anguish than I care to experience. I think part of that came from the fact that Cyndie was dealing with it alone, while I was so far away at work during the days.

The days of rain have passed and the return of below freezing nights has eased the worst of flowing water for now, but there is still a ton of snow yet to melt, so who knows how long this will last.

The horses were absolutely heroic in allowing Cyndie to guide them out of the barn through the standing water without panicking over the scary reflections and sounds, of which they have had little exposure in their time with us. They’ve dealt with a lot of mud over the years, but rarely, if ever, been asked to traverse water over their ankles.

Oh, the horses.

Man, we are going to miss the horses.

There will be much to write about with the pending re-homing of our herd, but it’s hard for us to even think about, let alone put into words. Maybe that contributes to my pondering the idea of ceasing to write.

If you know me, that is a pretty unlikely result. Writing is how I best process my thoughts.

Here’s to the possibility of ten more years of somethings you might find relative.



Written by johnwhays

March 16, 2019 at 10:11 am

Good Friends

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While clearing snow off the deck to allow full access to the grill and make a path to the wood shed, I spied our sunflower over the railing. It obviously looked a little worse for the wear, but seeing it triggered welcome memories of summer.

We needed more wood because our weekend plan involved hanging out with friends around the fire. It was even foretold in a fortune that appeared in a cookie Cyndie and I split.

Why, yes, we will! And we were! George and Anneliese came yesterday to spend the night. Cyndie cooked up a meal of grilled pork chops with pineapple that seemed to echo summertime more than it did the depth of winter we are currently enduring.

Yesterday’s fresh five-inches of sugary powder snow fell with heavy intensity for most of the afternoon. Today dawned a picture postcard perfect snowy landscape.

Last night, we mostly ignored the snow and celebrated joyful memories of the months George and Anneliese lived in our basement. The boys pulled off a come-from-behind victory in CrossCrib and Anneliese won the nightcap card game of Bikini, like she always seems to do.

At a time when Cyndie and I are contemplating significant changes to life here, it was extra special to have a chance to relive some of the precious times we have enjoyed along the way.

Good friends are an essential part of most of our best memories, aren’t they?




Written by johnwhays

March 2, 2019 at 10:05 am

Saturday Thinking

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It’s a gorgeous winter day today. Seriously cold outside, but wonderful to look at. I don’t know why we find ourselves wondering this morning about where else we might choose to live, if we didn’t live here.

We are pondering the details that would allow us a return trip to visit Ian and family in Portugal.

If we didn’t have animals, we would have a lot more freedom to travel. If we lived closer to family and my workplace, navigating every single event in our lives would be dramatically more convenient.

Maybe grieving opens us up to such thinking. Cyndie is processing family photos and documents in preparation for a funeral service tomorrow for an aunt whom Cyndie had been assigned the responsibility of power of attorney. Caring for her aunt has consumed a majority of her attention for the last nine months.

Back in 2012, when we found this place, one of my early impressions was that we had discovered the place where I would live the rest of my life. It is very conflicting to contemplate the possibility of alternatives.

At the same time, I have gained a keen sense of how everything is always in a constant state of change.

I’m feeling a little lost lately about a question of why we were so lucky to have ended up here with our precious animals and the glorious land and healthy forest, if it wasn’t to share it with others through the cost-offsetting venture of Wintervale Ranch & Retreat Center.

We’ve fallen short of managing to build a revenue generating operation that would allow us to afford running the place without being employed somewhere else for too many critical hours per week.

If we haven’t accomplished the dream we envisioned years ago, what do we do with what remains?

I’m uneasy about the weather effects our warming planet is dishing out and wonder about how to deal with the results. I don’t like the thought of how jumping on airplanes at every whim feeds an industry that, though relatively small, has a disproportionally large impact on the climate system.

One Saturday morning won’t provide the answer to such a complex situation, but it is a chance to put our thoughts together in a kettle to begin simmering. Not that these thoughts haven’t already been simmering for a while now. Maybe we are just turning up the temperature on this kind of thinking today.

And, feeling fresh grief, for the end of another life.

It is really cold here.

We have a fire in the fireplace and our music playing from a random mix of my entire iTunes library.

It’s a Saturday morning, and Cyndie and I are thinking, occasionally out loud, together.



Written by johnwhays

February 9, 2019 at 11:29 am

Gonna Ride

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What else would I do? Eight months ago, at the end of the 2018 Tour of Minnesota week of biking and camping, I contemplated the possibility that it might have been my last long bike tour. I just don’t get out on the bike like I once did in years gone by.

The Tour of Minnesota is limited to 200 riders and the registration opens February 1st. It fills up fast, so I needed to make a decision yesterday about what I will be doing in June this year. Will I ride it again?

The significant factor inspiring my desire to do it another year was seeing the names of friends and acquaintances who had already registered. I jumped in at number 141, and many of the people before me were the key reasons I have returned for around 20 tours since I first took the bike camping plunge back in 1994.

It’s the dozen people who have become precious friends, and the community of over a hundred treasured like-minded adventurers whom also return, year after year, to ride long miles and sleep on the hard ground, through good and bad Minnesota weather, that draw me back.

Another factor in my decision was the thought that I have no other expedition adventures in mind if I don’t choose to do the tour this year. How would I cope with not having an adventure trip to look forward to?

With Sue and Paul Schurke in a park after a day of biking

This year we will pedal from Grand Rapids, MN up to Ely and back. I’ve got a real soft spot for Ely, MN. That is where Cyndie and I learned winter survival skills from Will Steger at his homestead back when we were in high school. Ely is also where we took our children for a 4-day lodge-to-lodge dogsled expedition with Paul Schurke.

Paul was a member of the Steger expedition to the North Pole and he is also an alumnus of the 2008 Minnesota bike tour, back when Jim Klobuchar was the illustrious Conductor of the ride, so I’ve pedaled miles on the road chatting with him.

How could I not sign up for this year’s Tour?

I’m definitely planning to ride the Tour of Minnesota again, and I’m looking forward to communing with friends, old and new, who share an affinity for this kind of biking and camping fun in June.



Written by johnwhays

February 2, 2019 at 11:27 am

Flying North

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Today, we fly back to winter, just in time for a blast of snow and Arctic cold air to put an exclamation point on the end of our 9-day visit to Florida. We ate like royalty, played cards, laughed, shopped, explored, watched movies and never wore mittens once.

Yesterday, maybe as a primer for our return, the temperature hovered on the cool side of comfortable, compressing our outdoor activity to a couple matches of bocce ball and a walk back to the house before the next rain shower.









Barb was the difference maker in both close competitions, despite the missing sunshine that would have allowed for much more relaxed muscles during tosses.

We expect to arrive to the Minneapolis airport in the late afternoon today, and hope to drive the hour toward home without suffering any delays that may result from snow-covered roads.

Whether I will be able to execute my usual commute across the Twin Cities in my return to the day-job tomorrow morning remains a mystery, at this point.

The forecast (as of late last night) is rather ominous:

The predicted high temperature on Wednesday could remain in the double-digits (F) below zero. That will be the warmest part of the day.

One tiny shred of consolation about coming home to this brutal weather, is the fact that the polar vortex pushing down into the middle of the country will have an impact all the way to Florida. Cyndie’s parents had us put the insulating cover on their pool last night, in preparation for the cool week ahead.

Good thing we are going home, so we don’t have to suffer in any of the cold Florida weather they will be dealing with down here.

It’s all relative, isn’t it?



Written by johnwhays

January 27, 2019 at 7:00 am