Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘history

For Sibs

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This one is for my siblings. First of all, if any of you have seen the movie, “The Meddler” and not told me about it, I will be very surprised. Second, I am tempted to urge you to watch the flick, but Cyndie and I both experienced such conflicted reactions to it that I’m inclined to suggest you use the hundred and three minutes of your time for something more constructive.

Our general reaction was along the lines of, “Meh.” We like Susan Sarandon and J.K. Simmons a lot, so their acting was a reward. We chose to add this to our Netflix queue after the trailer for it caught our attention in the previews segment on another movie we had rented. The premise wasn’t particularly gripping for either of us, but we thought it looked like a light and funny flick.

The movie was okay, but we didn’t love it, except for this: a bullseye.

Not just the bullseye, but for us, it’s also what led up to the penultimate scene that had us so gobsmacked over what we were seeing that we couldn’t contain ourselves.

We were basically tolerating how the movie was plodding along for us until J.K. Simmons’ character mentions his chickens. He pulls an egg out of his pocket to show Marnie (Susan Sarandon). They go back to his place and walk in the chicken run where he introduces his hens by name.

Eventually, he offers her a half-carton of eggs to take home. This resonated because Cyndie has cut cartons in half like that to facilitate picking the four to six eggs at a time that show up in our nest boxes throughout the day.

We were tickled by all this, but had no clue what writer Lorene Scafaria had in store next. In this case, the slow development of scenes which had underwhelmed us in the first part of the movie made us sit up in awe over what we were witnessing.

Now alone at home and contemplating this new “friend” Marnie has met, she opens the little carton of eggs and pulls out the blue one. Cyndie and I already know what this is all about, but we had no idea it was going to be conveyed so brilliantly.

Butter in a frying pan. A slice of bread. She picks up a glass and presses it on the bread to cut out a hole. She fries up a perfect version of what our family called a bullseye.

Then she stands at the counter and takes the first bite. Obviously, this is an egg like no other she has ever tasted before in her life. Lorene Scafaria directed a perfect depiction of savoring every bite. Susan Sarandon knocks it out of the park, sopping up every last drop of that egg with the fried bread.

Now that I write this, I think the whole movie is worth that one scene.

You guys should check it out.

p.s.: Guess what we had for breakfast this morning.

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Written by johnwhays

December 1, 2018 at 10:41 am

Intentional Community

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Wow. Similar endings in both World Cup games yesterday, in that, the final results were determined by penalty kicks. I only got to see parts of both games, due to a special meeting of the Wildwood Lodge Club association members in the morning, and then our trip home in the afternoon, but what I saw was highly entertaining.

There is some work needing to be done to maintain the soundness of the aging lodge building up at the lake, which will require significant financial commitment. At the same time, after over 50-years of existence, the association is facing the aging out of the first generation. Financial burdens are beginning to fall on the multiple sibling families that make up the second generation members.

We are facing some big decisions as an intentional community, about what the six expanding families’ long term wishes and dreams are for the future of this communal vacation paradise.

I walked portions of the property in the early morning on Saturday and captured the some of the quiet beauty.

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I’ve written about Wildwood before, but to summarize for newer readers, it is an association of now 6 families that share a central lodge building, play field, tennis court, gorgeous beach, and boats. When the old fishing resort was purchased by 11 families in the 1960s, it was a number of small, mostly primitive small shacks surrounding the main lodge.

Moms and kids would spend most of the summer there, with dads coming from the Twin Cities for the weekends. Families would rotate cabins throughout the summer and often dined communally around the main fire pit in the central “triangle” on their peninsula of Round Lake.

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In the 1980s, when the member numbers had dropped to seven families, the maturing clans elected to split the property into separate plots in order to allow for enhancements to the living accommodations, while also providing equity for the investment by individual families.

Meanwhile, all the traditions and celebratory community activities from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and for a decade or so, New Year’s Eve, played out with emphatic zest.

It was intentional community at its best. Kids and dogs, and all the good and bad that happens with outdoor space, a lake, and time, became the joys and concerns of all. With this precious group, there were always a lot more joys than there ever were concerns.

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Saturday, in celebration of the mid-week 4th-of-July holiday this year, we broke out the red “bats” shirts and the blue “mice” shirts to split the community into two arbitrary teams for a mostly typical array of challenges for dominance.

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There was a relay race, water-balloon toss, three-legged sack race, shoe kick, watermelon eating contest, and finally, a water scrum to move a greased watermelon across the opponent’s line.

The day of games was topped off by a grand feast in the lodge for dinner, all prepared, served, and serviced by a combined effort of member families, kids included (to varying degrees of success).

Now the community is needing to address what the next version of Wildwood Lodge Club might be?

There are many variables involved, and few, if any, right or wrong decisions to be made. That presents us with a significant challenge.

If Wildwood is to remain some version of its former self, it will involve a big commitment from all the members.

In my mind, big commitments are what it takes for “intentional communities” to survive and to thrive.

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Written by johnwhays

July 2, 2018 at 6:00 am

So This

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I admit, I have never done this before. I have never been as old as I am today and faced everything that November 2017 is presenting. Is that why this season’s onset of freezing temperatures feels more jarring than ever before? My blood is definitely not winter-thick yet.

Maybe I’m off my game because of how unsettling the last year under the current U.S. leadership has been. The increasing turmoil of extreme storms from the warming planet has definitely contributed.

Sometimes, looking back for reference provides some insight on present day issues, but there are so many unique technologies now woven into our lives, it feels difficult to compare events from decades ago. This weekend, our Netflix queue offered up a documentary DVD about the Freedom Riders of 1961.

I was two years old at the time of those civil rights dramas playing out in the deep south. I suppose the white supremacists at that time were terrified their racist version of society was being threatened.

It has me trying to fathom how history might perceive people and events of 2017 some fifty or a hundred years from now.

The next movie that showed up was a documentary about the Rwandan cycling team that rose from the ashes of genocide that country experienced in 1994. Nineteen Ninety Four. I wish such human carnage wasn’t something that still occurs.

It all serves to put my travails in perspective. Feeling weak against the cold air? I’ll get over it.

I can go out and hug our horses, absorb some of their warmth, and see if I can pick up some of their energy and perspective on the present moment.

They can help me to breathe and get back to grazing.

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Written by johnwhays

November 20, 2017 at 7:00 am

Powerful Stuff

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For the last week and a half I have been doing my best to catch the PBS broadcasts of the 10-part documentary film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, “The Vietnam War.” It is a dizzying experience. Even though the presentation is spread over two weeks, it compresses so much history and so many perspectives into each segment that the incomprehensible reality it depicts leaves me dumbstruck in a foggy haze of then and now.

As often happens for me, the review of significant historical events that happened during my lifetime, especially about those of which I successfully accomplished an embarrassing level of blissful ignorance while they were occurring, has a way of disrupting my self perceptions. I get a real sense that I would have been a very different person in my ensuing years if I had given certain events more of my attention.

At the same time, part of me has a sense that I already am that different person I seem to be imagining. I don’t know how it works. Did I mention it is dizzying?

I was certainly old enough to perceive the war in Vietnam as pointless and unwinnable, and thus developed a negative opinion of the political and military decisions being made that prolonged our participation.

This comprehensive documentary is educating me about details of the Vietnamese struggles for independence, the US fears of communism, and the corruption on both sides of the conflict. I value highly the opportunity to hear the perspectives of participants from the other side, which this film presents.

There is one additional aspect that is contributing to an overwhelming feeling this film is giving me. There are an uncomfortable number of moments when the depictions of the drama that played out fifty years ago (plus and minus) resonates uncannily with stories in the news today.

One example being the collusion by Nixon with a foreign government to influence his being elected. Sound familiar?

How could we ever let someone get away with that again?

I wish I knew.

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Written by johnwhays

September 27, 2017 at 6:00 am

Keeping Calm

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I’m trying to keep calm and carry on. In the past, my prescription for maintaining a positive outlook about the world included turning off the broadcast news. I would, instead, get news from sources which allowed a choice over the content. I could pick what I allowed to infiltrate my thoughts. That involved scanning headlines of online publications or perusing the local paper at the day-job.gnews

It’s not working so well for me anymore.

There are less and less headlines that don’t have something to do with a certain kleptocracy in process.

Now I am struggling with the option of isolating myself completely from the news of the day and focusing on whatever positive happenings I can cultivate from my immediate surroundings.

I can choose to associate with healthy people. I can commune with people who aren’t phobic about things they misunderstand, or are uninformed about.

But something is eating at me about a potential risk in that choice.

Should I turn my back on what is really happening in the world?

Looking back at some horrific outcomes that have played out in history has me wondering how I could live with myself if I chose to turn a blind eye in the way many others did at times when hate and fear became the rule of law.

Today, I’m sending love to those who are poor, suffering, oppressed, at risk, and afraid, even though I’m choosing to not read the latest headlines about their present predicaments.

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Written by johnwhays

January 29, 2017 at 10:45 am

Days Happen

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dscn5459eDespite our lofty plans and petty concerns, time marches on. Days happen, one right after the other. The present moment unfurls and that quickly becomes history. Last night, I was struck by a reference in a PBS Frontline story to research done in the archives for information from 1977. Was that really that long ago?

I guess so.

Today I am struck anew by the amazing place where I now reside. As the year 2016 nears the twelfth month, we have become ever more normalized with our rolling hills and areas of hardwood forest. We have slowly developed new trails and arranged sections of fenced pasture. It is becoming a reflection of us and the animals now living here.

In the relatively short time we have been here, the neighborhood has changed noticeably. We are currently in the final weekend of the annual deer hunting season, an event that has quieted significantly compared to our first years on the property.

dscn5458eI’m not sure why there is less activity visible this year on the properties adjacent to us, but it’s been nice to have fewer sights and sounds to trigger Delilah into the fits of unnecessary outbursts she feels called to deliver. I wish I could attribute her good behavior to a continued maturation, but evidence hints otherwise.

It’s quite possible that her presence alone is a factor in relocating local hunters to more distant acres, although she isn’t chasing all the deer off. We still see them around with regularity. More likely, what has moved the hunters away is the combined activity of the horses and humans roving around here along with her on a daily basis.

Life is happening here everyday. And as soon as I chronicle it, the stories become archived in the “Previous Somethings.”

Time marches on.

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Written by johnwhays

November 26, 2016 at 10:29 am

Don’t Miss

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If you are a fan of popular music and the art of multi-track recording, don’t miss this documentary currently showing on PBS!

soundbreaking

aboutsoundbreakingWe stumbled upon the second episode last night and became instantly entranced. I always marvel over seeing that someone made the effort to record video —and subsequently save for later discovery— of surprisingly authentic moments of activity, like musicians working on a song.

Who thought to record video of these bands before they knew the group would turn out to be worth the effort?

This show renews my appreciation for the amount of creative manipulation behind all the recorded music we get to hear. It’s something that is too easy to take for granted.

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Written by johnwhays

November 16, 2016 at 7:00 am