Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘friends

Birthday Game

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On the occasion of a 50th birthday, many people choose to go big. Our friend, Doobie Kurus, took the number 50 to a wonderful extreme, tying it to the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers’ third football game of the season. He bought 50 tickets for friends and family and hosted a spectacular tailgate party four and a half hours before the game.

Yesterday was a hot September day that carried a possibility of an afternoon thunderstorm. Cyndie and I wavered over preparing for rain or not, ultimately opting to carry rain gear based on the thinking that having protection would likely mean we wouldn’t need it. That was easier than finding Cyndie a maroon shirt to show the spirit of University colors.

I am proud of her ingenuity in crafting the look of the University mascot, Goldy Gopher, on a maroon tee shirt that has an image of Julian’s cat on the front.

Doobie was serenaded with a “Happy Birthday” song by a subset of the marching band that was making its way through the rows and rows of tailgaters. His daughter, Emma, plays saxophone in the band.

For Cyndie and me, much of the activity brought back our pleasant memories as band parents during the years Elysa played one of the big bass drums in the drum line.

I felt compelled to greet a few of the current members of the drum line as the band began gathering for formal inspection before pregame performance.

After the game, which Minnesota won by almost reaching the number fifty against Colorado, 49-7, Doobie arranged for us to get on the field where we milled around before posing on the 50 yard line for a final portrait with the birthday boy.

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While visiting with Doobie, I learned the actual day of his birthday is tomorrow, the nineteenth of September. He’s in good company, as tomorrow is Julian’s birthday and Cyndie’s and my 41st wedding anniversary.

It was quite a day. Felt very celebratory and somewhat exhausting for all that good food, high heat, endless sunshine, walking, standing, and communing with close friends and fellow Big Ten college football fans.

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Written by johnwhays

September 18, 2022 at 10:23 am

Last Hurrah

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Taking full advantage of immersing ourselves in the last Sunday of the summer season up at the lake, we hiked, swam, boated, feasted, visited, and began putting away water toys. Hosting members of Friswold’s adopted family, the Birgens, we had added reasons to wander the grounds and socialize with fellow “Wildwooders.” Wildwoodites? Member clans of the incredible Wildwood Lodge Club (WWLC).

The holiday weekend inspired an additional reason to gather members, so Cyndie and her mom invited everyone to our place for a 5 o’clock cocktail party with socializing around the fire. With flashback memories of the way it was done when Cyndie was a kid up here, that fire was then used to cook burgers for our dinner.

In another throwback to a bygone era, I got out my little travel guitar and “strumgled” [strummed and struggled] a few songs from the cobwebs of my fading memory. It was sufficient to punctuate the culmination of a fabulous day at the lake honoring the last events of summer.

Today, the Birgens will head out on the last leg of their journey, taking their youngest, Jonathon, to his first year of college. Cyndie, her mom, and I will linger one more night and head home tomorrow.

In the wee hours before dawn this morning, our gentle slumber was serenaded by the wistful echoing calls of an owl in the woods outside our window. It truly feels like we are experiencing summer’s last hurrah.

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Written by johnwhays

September 5, 2022 at 8:47 am

Impeccable

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friends
a milestone birthday
fine dining
The St. Paul Grill
impeccable evening
shared Caesar Salad
signature dressing, baked croutons
Salmon, perfectly done
topped with seven spice butter on a bed of sautéed spinach
what a sauce, a jamboree of flavors
shared sides
Hash Browns
with bacon and white onions
Asparagus Spears
perfectly, perfectly cooked
Creamed Spinach
two bites of her Bourbon Pork Chop
one of his fries
a bite of her Filet
medium, with mushrooms
three shared desserts
bittersweet chocolate, whipped cream, caramel drizzle, ice cream, more chocolate
immensely satisfying
did I mention
impeccable?

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Written by johnwhays

August 24, 2022 at 6:00 am

Mostly Cloudy

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Some days are so low-key that the excitement of solving the Wordle puzzle is one of the noteworthy highlights. Actually, amazing life events sometimes play out unexpectedly in the midst of an otherwise bucolic ambiance of a quiet cloudy day at the lake. There are only three of us occupying the big log house this weekend. With the cool temperature and cloudy sky doing a lot to set the tone, we didn’t have any lofty ambitions about pursuing laudable accomplishments.

Midmorning we received a precious invitation to join with other Wildwood families for a gathering of the Whitlock family next door. They were doing a memorial spreading of ashes for their patriarch, Bill, a founding member of the Wildwood Lodge Club. Afterward, families represented gathered on the Whitlock deck to catch up and share memories.

It was the kind of visit that could have gone on forever except they had a dinner plan. We three returned to our place for dinner and a mix of tv dramas in front of a fire.

Some sunshine would have definitely painted the day with a greater urge to be out but the surprise opportunity to commune with people we dearly love was a bonus that truly blessed an otherwise understated day.

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Written by johnwhays

August 14, 2022 at 10:20 am

Other Pursuits

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With my left quadricep still complaining about being overworked, I took the day off from cycling yesterday and power lounged much of the morning away on my own. I enjoyed the opportunity to catch some Premier League football on television which also provided a chance to nod off and rest more than just my leg muscles.

Paul and Randy did a short bit of biking before Randy headed back to the Cities. After some of the golfers finished one round, other pursuits beckoned. Ultimately, everyone who wasn’t still on the golf course migrated toward the lake. An attempt at water skiing was interrupted when the speed boat under-performed, behaving like the engine couldn’t get enough air, fuel, or both to keep up with demand.

Attention shifted to the pontoon boat and a three-hour cruise around the lake materialized.

The phone-camera selfies all became “us-ies” and David K and Steve kindly shared a couple of group photos capturing the fun. The vague possibility of stopping to check out Powell’s restaurant on the far side of the lake, “maybe for a drink,” became an excuse to have dinner out.

While the threat of rain lingered throughout the day, the few sprinkles that occasionally fell hardly got anything wet, including the drips that fell as we waited for our meals to arrive.

Back on shore as day turned to night, the benches around the fire pit were put to good use and old Derek & the Dominos songs played through a bluetooth speaker as a perfect evening for hanging around a fire transpired.

It was a day that served as an excellent example of how to spend leisure time on the lake. Sure beats workin’.

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Written by johnwhays

August 7, 2022 at 8:04 am

Three Biketeers

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Day two of Paul’s, Randy’s, and my biking-instead-of-golfing adventures up at the lake place was a grinding success. Did I say grinding? I meant grand success. Honestly, the conditions were better than average, practically superb for the combination of riding we had in mind. My only issue was that my legs felt odd at the beginning of the day and as the afternoon progressed the muscles kept threatening to cramp up.

I’m guessing I taxed myself a bit too much on our opening day gauntlet of rocks and roots navigating the Makwa trail. Instead of allowing for a day of recovery, we three biketeers set out midmorning for some smooth riding on the road bikes. Once again, I demonstrated my penchant for having my sense of direction reversed.

My intended route would have basically formed a rectangle on the map but I missed one turn while rolling along and chatting with the guys. Remaining oblivious at the time, I was surprised to reach a “T” with McClaine Road again, which we had turned from miles before. Our route had circled back.

Knowing I’d missed a turn we reversed direction and backtracked. I was mistakingly looking for the Chief River Road I wanted on our right. When we came upon it –and of course, it was farther away than I thought it should be– I discovered my sense of our position on the planet was backward again and it was a left turn, not a right.

The rest of the road ride was without confusion and we enjoyed a triumphant return to Wildwood where we found the sign was showing a new skew of its own.

We switched to our off-road bikes again for the afternoon and I finally got my first exposure to the CAMBA trail loops by the hospital, appropriately named, “Hospital Trail.”

It lived up to the reputation I had heard for a couple of years that Hospital Trail would be much more to my liking. Sharing a variety of the fun features of the more aggressive Makwa trail near us, the Hospital trail in Hayward offers a few loops that meander through a nice section of pine forest. There are a fair number of hairpin turns but it has far fewer sharp changes in elevation or complicated rock obstacles and almost no tree root hazards.

It probably shouldn’t have been as taxing on my aging leg muscles as it was but for the rest of the day I found myself tetering perilously close to having my quads and calves seize up at one wrong move.

Pickle juice, I was told. No, I erred by asking for a scoop of two different flavors of ice cream from West’s Dairy. The serving size in the cup could have fed a family of five. I ate it anyway. Raspberry Delight with Mint Chip.

It’s what a biketeer would do!

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Written by johnwhays

August 6, 2022 at 9:19 am

Riding Makwa

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That was a heck of a ride to start my long weekend of biking in the woods of the Chequamegon area, especially since I haven’t been on my mountain bike for what feels like forever. It reminded me why I am more of a road rider at this point in my life.

I’m up at the lake again, this time as a member of an annual golf weekend that two of Cyndie’s brothers co-host. Since I don’t golf, I serve as companion to any former or part-time golfers who are also cyclists. Arriving early enough yesterday to sneak in a first ride with Randy and Paul, we picked the Makwa Trail as the nearby familiar option.

One of the main advantages of Makwa is its lack of any long or severe climbs. Other than that, it provides a brutal dose of unending roots and rocks on a meandering single track that taxes strength and forces constant quick navigating decisions. There are countless hairpin turns and tricky obstacles that show up right when the elevation makes a distinct change. Talking to self, “Do I go over this rock or around it? Should I downshift before I hit these roots? Do I have enough strength to recover from careening off-trail, holding tight as I muscle the bike back on course?”

It is, in a word, exhausting.

In a sentence, it is exhausting with several moments of fun rolling that don’t actually last long enough to catch my breath before rapidly finding myself holding on for dear life again to muscle through the next challenge.

We drove to a spot near the middle of the full Makwa length to start our riding toward the north trailhead. My computer logged it as being over 8 miles of trail. We opted to ride a parallel gravel fire lane road to return to the car. That distance was somewhere around 5 miles. That reveals approximately 3 miles of extra twisting and turning on the singletrack.

What it doesn’t expose is how much more effort it took to conquer the rocks and roots of the singletrack compared to the much smoother graded gravel.

Back at the lake, a soothing swim did well to help me forget how exhausted I was during the ride. We then dined at a nearby restaurant before driving to town to meet up with a majority of the golfing crew at Angler’s Bar. Festivities continued back at the “cabin” vacation home which kept many up much later than common sense would dictate.

I will be lobbying strongly today for a jaunt on our road bikes this morning before we return to the woods in the afternoon for more off-road punishment, I mean, fun.

I forgot, …why is it I don’t golf?

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Written by johnwhays

August 5, 2022 at 6:00 am

Superb Escapades

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Superlatives. Yesterday was as wonderful as the day before and served to amplify the pleasantries we enjoyed tenfold. The weather helped to accommodate anything and everything we found to do, including replacing an ailing screen door.

It looked simple enough until the door Mike and I picked up at the lumber yard in Hayward proved to be an inch taller than the one we were replacing. It appeared the old one had been cut down to fit so we borrowed a circular saw and did the same thing. After much searching, we found an old can of still viable stain and successfully completed the unplanned project.

We also received new insights about our trees from an arborist whose services were enlisted to analyze the health of trees around the group of properties that form the Wildwood Lodge Club, of which Cyndie’s family are long-time members. Near the end of winter last year there was a storm that brought down a lot of big branches and a few trees. The size of some of the limbs was enough to inspire seeking professional advice.

Between those events, the day allowed for paddle board and kayak excursions, we swam and sunbathed, and played a mini-tournament of games. Horseshoes, ladder golf, corn hole bag toss, darts, cards, and an encore round of “Fishbowl,” the triple-game of Taboo, Charades, and Password.

On a walk around the property, we twice enjoyed a close encounter with a doe with three very young fawns. They did not stray far after we came upon them the first time such that we found them again, a little further along in the woods where they were munching on ferns.

Cooking dinner on the fire was so good on Friday that we ended up doing it again yesterday.

Today will be a smidgeon less superlative as we adjust to the early departure of our friends, Barb and Mike as they head back for time with their grandkids this afternoon.

Superb, nonetheless.

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Written by johnwhays

July 31, 2022 at 9:48 am

Lake Fun

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We enjoyed wonderful weather for anything we wanted to do at the lake yesterday, starting with a run to town to buy a replacement screen door for one that wasn’t holding its shape anymore. Yes, we measured first but upon arrival back at the house, we discovered they sawed an inch off the old one to make it fit.

Had to borrow a saw that will allow us to complete the installation today.

Gave us a chance to hop on the pontoon and venture out on the lake for a picnic lunch.

After some beach time and swimming, we played cards out on the deck. I built a fire in the firepit for cooking a flank steak dinner.

That gave us a chance to finally sit on the benches I built from wood left over after our deck rebuild at Wintervale, which Mike helped us accomplish.

Topped off the evening with a triple-game that Barb introduced as, “Fishbowl.” Each participant writes a word on three pieces of paper and tosses them in a bowl. You form teams and take turns playing “Taboo,” charades, and “Password,” reusing the same batch of words each time.

You’d think that would make the solutions easier, but the belly laughs came from how many times people goofed up despite the obvious answer if we don’t stray from the 15 choices we created. Simple pleasures.

We are having tons of fun! Now it’s time for a waffle breakfast before cutting the bottom inch off the new screen door…

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Written by johnwhays

July 30, 2022 at 8:40 am

Not Kidding

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I wasn’t kidding around when I described the drama of my getting stung on Tuesday. Whatever it was, there is a chunk of flesh missing from the middle of the large inflamed area on my back.

This is how it looked last night, over 24 hours after the bugger got me:

I should probably have been researching anti-venom or something. On the other hand, maybe it will give me a super power. I mean, a new super power, different than the other ones I already had.

Cyndie suspects it could have been a horsefly bite. I’ve already been bitten on the back by a horse and that didn’t give me any new senses. I’ve never experienced this reaction from a horsefly before and now I’m thinking I don’t ever want to experience it again.

As luck would have it, I can soak my back in the lake for a few days again, starting this afternoon. Due to Cyndie’s good sense to plan well in advance, she locked in multiple weekends with our house/farm sitter throughout the summer that have us up north two weekends in a row this month.

Actually, I will be enjoying three weekends in a row because I plan to join two of Cyndie’s brothers and a bunch of their golfing pals in Hayward the following weekend. I will be biking with anyone who chooses to skip one of the rounds of golf, most likely in the woods on my mountain bike. No battery to save me on that machine.

That would be a good time for the insect bite to give me a super dose of extra stamina and climbing ability. On one hand, I hope the residual effects of the wound are long gone by that time, but on the other hand, I could use all the help I can get when pedaling the off-road bike on the hilly trails in the Chequamegon National Forest.

This weekend we are driving up with Cyndie’s mom and will meet our friends, Mike and Barb Wilkus for a few days of water worship and good eats.

Further progress on the driveway shoulders will have to wait.

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Written by johnwhays

July 28, 2022 at 6:00 am