Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘holidays

Love Lots

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My tendency is to downplay the import of special dates. That isn’t meant to detract from the days themselves, but to point out the benefit of celebrating the gist of each special day on every other day all year long. Our birthday marking a year passing could be celebrated every day because each day is a year beyond 365 days before.

Of all the days I should really adopt as deserving my attention, the day celebrating love should really be the primary one. At the same time, of all the special days assigned a particular day on the annual calendar, love is probably the one more appropriately distributed across all other days to the end of time.

February 14 is all red hearts and gushing over crushes. I’m all for doing that every other day just as much.

Grow your love today for yourself and others. In so many ways, there are no “others.” We are one.

We should behave as such.

Every day.

Love you!



Written by johnwhays

February 14, 2021 at 10:22 am

Like Christmas

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One week away and it’s occasionally feeling like Christmas is drawing near, except it’s as if it is on the other side of a blurry sneeze guard.

Cyndie and I tolerated a COVID Thanksgiving all by ourselves as well as can be expected. Doing so again for Christmas just a month later is proving to be a little more distressing. Plans are being considered to choreograph separate socially distanced and masked visits but every option is a frustrating variation of the same fiasco.

Why is it so hard to take a year off from normal activities?

I find taking a long view makes it easier for me to accept, but it comes at the cost of glossing over more immediate events. It’s a defensive mechanism, I suppose. I don’t feel as much stress over the loss of normalcy this Christmas when I’m framing the isolation as a step toward having life back to usual next year.

I am prepared to do absolutely nothing with no one for as long as it takes to reach the point where pandemic is no longer a thing.

The day that the use of face masks is declared a thing of the past will feel like Christmas, no matter what month it is at the time.




Written by johnwhays

December 18, 2020 at 7:00 am

Flashing Back

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I was looking for an image last night and found myself exploring a folder of photos from five years ago this month. Brings back memories.

My, those horses kept that pasture well-manicured.

It is interesting how we adjust our lives to the changing circumstances swirling around us in each given moment or situation. I’ve already forgotten the daily routine of caring for our horses. It’s been 20 months since we returned them to their previous home and herds. They are dearly missed, but I certainly appreciated the freedom from managing concerns about hay and wild weather and daily manure scooping under the overhang.

We still nurture dreams of finding a way to make our pastures available to nearby rescue organizations during summer months in the future.

There is a big void here without the presence of horse energy vibrations.

Now we allow the chickens a greater amount of our attention and this year of 2020, with its protests, pandemics, and politics, combined with the final months of Cyndie’s dad’s life, have commanded a bulk of our limited mental resources.

It’s invigorating to think back to better times and remember how different life was only a half-decade ago.

With the pandemic spreading unchecked we are in for a strange couple of holidays this season. Home alone is taking on a whole new meaning.

I think I’ll be diving into multiple flashbacks of Thanksgivings and Christmases throughout my life in order to distract from how odd this year has turned out.

Do you wonder if all the U.S. Thanksgiving Day Zoom gatherings will bog down the internet next week? If ever there was a time to have “smell-o-vision” built into the app, the aroma of the turkey feasts wafting from kitchens around the country would be a particularly valuable addition to the virtual family visits.

Trust me, if I could share the incredible smells when Cyndie bakes my mom’s sweet bread bun recipe (Gramma Betty’s Buns), I certainly would. It’s too much for one man to consume. I’ll be on aroma overload.

Come to think of it, that just might be a way to overwhelm the coronavirus. I need to contact the vaccine research people and let ’em know I may have stumbled on to a solution that doesn’t require insanely cold freezers during distribution and storage.

With Cyndie’s tendency to bake enough for millions, we could be looking at a way out of this “stay at home” protocol much sooner than currently predicted. Although, one side effect to note, I think I gain weight by simply breathing in the scrumptious smell of these fresh-baked morsels of goodness.



Written by johnwhays

November 19, 2020 at 7:00 am

So Christmassy!

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Christmas morning with Cyndie’s family is all breakfast and presents, on a grand scale, both. After getting lavishly fed, we headed downstairs to find 23 people’s-worth of presents around the tree.

It doesn’t take too long for Santa’s little helpers to distribute the packages around the room.

Then begins a cacophony of ripping paper, saving bows, exclamations of surprise/love/and delight, and many voices talking all at once.

As quickly as possible after everything was opened, I needed to slip out for a return trip to the ranch, where Delilah was patiently awaiting some attention. She was very grateful to have a chance to get outside to do her business. I granted her as much time and freedom as possible, trying to make up for the many hours she has been left alone in the last few days.

She seemed to think it made for good opportunity to hunt critters that live in the grass beneath the snow.

“Wha-aat?” she says after we get back inside. “I’m a good girl!”

After I got her fed, and darkness moved the chickens into the coop, it was time for my second drive of the day to Edina.

The Christmas feast which included salmon and beef tenderloin, easily justified the added driving.











Cyndie stayed at her parent’s house overnight Monday and all day yesterday to help with preparations.

Christmas 2018 was definitely a day that felt wonderfully Christmassy in our family! The added blessings of having Norwegian relatives joining in the festivities was icing on our cake.



Written by johnwhays

December 26, 2018 at 7:00 am

Festivities Underway

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The week after the winter solstice has become a time of amplified car commuting in my mind, ever since we moved an hour away from family in the Twin Cities, to rural countryside in western Wisconsin, where we have animals that need tending.

For some occasions, we have been lucky to find sitters to live in our house and care for our horses, chickens, and dog, but holidays are a tough time to ask others to do the job, at the expense of their own family gatherings.

Generally, that means we do the hour drive to participate in a few hours of holiday festivities, and then duck out early to make the hour drive back home again. Although the commute has become second nature for me to get to the day-job, the short time between trips each day around Christmastime makes the driving seem much more significant.

And, on Christmas day, we do it twice in one day.

It is not ideal, but it is always worth it, on both ends. We never regret time spent with our animals, and the time with family is forever priceless.

This year, we have an added bonus of relatives visiting from Norway. That wouldn’t be my relatives. The Fisknes family are from the Ravndal clan on Cyndie’s family tree. Cyndie’s great-grandmother was a Ravndal. We drove out to Eden Prairie last night to greet the family of five who are initially staying at the home of Cyndie’s brother, Steve.

After Christmas, the plan is for them to spend a night or two with us at Wintervale.

We don’t have oodles of snow to show off, but that might just change right in the middle of their visit. Precipitation is coming, but there is a sad chance it could be rain and snow mixed. Yuck.

The horses are enjoying the lack of snow cover during their brief forays onto the frozen grass of the back pasture. Yesterday, when I opened the gate for them, Delilah and I lingered in the field with them to appreciate the moment.

All three horses emptied their bladders in quick succession, and then followed that up a short time later with a rambunctious roll on the ground. Seemed like a very business-like routine in preparation of an afternoon of free grazing.

I am getting prepared for some free grazing of my own. Our kids will visit us this morning for our little personal family Christmas brunch, and then we drive to Edina for Christmas eve gathering with Cyndie’s cousins on her mom’s side.

I will sneak out early to drive home. Christmas morning, I finish chores and drive back for the Friswold gift exchange extravaganza.

The festivities are definitely underway.



Written by johnwhays

December 24, 2018 at 8:11 am

Wishing Again

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I wish one thing didn’t necessarily come at the expense of another.

I wish it would snow.

I wish it would stay dry and warm.

I wish time would just stop.

I wish what comes next would hurry up and get here.

I wish I could see the world through horse’s eyes.

I wish there was more peace on earth and nothing but goodwill among all people.

I wish nobody ever learned how to hate.

For all the thankful, heartfelt, and peace-loving salutations that saturate our days around the winter solstice, I wish the December holidays of every religion would last all year long, even as I long for all the hullabaloo to be over and done with.

I wish people would be a little less certain about our understanding of the universe and a lot more accepting of mystery.

I wish we could all laugh a lot more than we cry, even though some of us also cry when we laugh.

I wish you all the very best this holiday season.

May all your wishes come true!






Written by johnwhays

December 22, 2018 at 10:59 am

Countdown Begins

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Prepare for blast off. Make sure your seatbelts are fastened, seat backs forward, and tray tables are in the upright position.

‘Twas the day before Thanksgiving and all through the house… Airports are busy and homes are gaining inhabitants. It’s a short week of work in front of a long weekend of gathering with loved ones.

Oh, and food. We are under a dangerous consumption advisory, after all. I’m ready to commence snacking.

Cyndie and I will be spending Thanksgiving with her family at her parent’s house this year, but we are traveling in shifts. She heads over there this afternoon to begin preparations, and will spend the night with her mom and dad.

I will tend to things at Wintervale tonight, then in the morning, after animals are all fed, I will head west to join the Friswold clan for turkey-day festivities. There is a Vikings/Lions game that will be a great compliment for large portions of Chex-mix munching. The Thanksgiving feast will follow the football.

As if I’ll have room in my stomach.

Then I race back to the ranch to show some Thanksgiving love to our horses, chickens, dog and cat. Pequenita has been practicing for her post-Thanksgiving lounging on my legs in the new recliner. She seems to know the drill.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Hays relatives whom I won’t be seeing tomorrow, and also to all of my readers here and abroad.

It’s just the beginning of the grand holiday season, so prepare for the long haul. Consume in moderation and take good care of yourself so you will be fit and inspired to share love and happiness with everyone in your circle of influence.

If need be, your seat cushion is available for use as a floatation device.



Written by johnwhays

November 22, 2017 at 7:00 am

Advance Warning

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The WDOA has issued the following High Level Alert:


WDOA26 WRLC 171120

Wintervale Alerts Service Beldenville WI
529 AM CST Tue Nov 21 2017

Including the city of Beldenville
529 AM CST Tue Nov 21 2017

3, 2018...

* WHAT...High calories occurring. Plan on incredible food conditions,
  including during the evening meals. Additional treat
  accumulations of 2 to 3 batches per hour are expected. Quantities will
  fluctuate with periods of heavy servings throughout the alert duration.

* WHERE...Pierce County, especially in the areas of Cyndie's kitchen.

* WHEN...Until 9 PM CST on January 3, 2018.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS...The most delectable treats will appear whenever
  Cyndie is in the vicinity of her kitchen. Be prepared for irresistible
  aromas and disappearing room in stomachs at times of intense baking.


A Dangerous Consumption Advisory for seasonal foodstuffs means periods of 
high calorie appetizers, entrees, and desserts may lead to self-control difficulties.
Be prepared for off-the-charts satisfaction, and use caution while chewing.


Written by johnwhays

November 21, 2017 at 7:00 am