Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘home

Isolated Festively

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Over a holiday weekend that historically would have us venturing sixty-some miles to the west three times in two days to mingle and nosh with Cyndie’s relations, the Christmas of 2020 in all its pandemic isolation reduced our travels to one time to exchange gifts at her mom’s house. Distanced, masked, and without risking a shared meal, our children met us at Marie’s house in Edina on Christmas eve day for the briefest of gift exchanges.

Little did we realize before setting out in the moments after our township road had finally been plowed around 11:00 a.m., we were in for some of the riskiest driving we’d experienced in recent memory. From local roads to the interstate highways, the surface was frozen and slippery. Almost every mile, sometimes more frequently, we spotted vehicles buried in the ditch.

Approaching a speed that would require the use of brakes in order to slow down was taking chances that threatened an unwelcome hell of post-storm autobody appointments, not to mention bumps and bruises, or worse.

Every overhead message board flashed warnings of crash delays ahead. As we waited in one backup, a full-size fire engine forced its way ahead and crossed all lanes to block the two left-most. We crawled ahead to where the sight of a big rig was perched on the cement barrier dividing east and westbound traffic, front tires high off the ground.

Later, another backup wrapped around a helpless pickup in a center lane, lacking enough traction to make any progress up the slight incline.

Cyndie’s expertly cautious driving got us there and back without incident.

Back home with presents in hand, we settled in for three days of isolation that Cyndie masterfully enhanced with wonderfully festive meals and activities, while simultaneously continuing to practice post-surgery regiments for her knee.

We ate like royalty and dined on some of her family holiday classics. Beef tenderloin with horseradish sauce, marinated carrots, out-of-this-world skin-on mashed red potatoes, and dessert of unparalleled greatness, cranberry cake with butter-caramel sauce.

We sat around the fireplace and worked on a new jigsaw puzzle from Marie that depicted chickens that looked just like ours. Cyndie poured herself into new books and I spent renewed time in my world-wide online community, catching up on reading and writing there.

A text-chain of family members helped us to stay connected, but there was no getting around the fact we were home alone together at one of the most family-gathering times of the year.

Somehow, maybe due to an urge to make it feel anything but just another day at home, Cyndie took interest in assembling the jigsaw puzzle with me, something in which she usually finds no pleasure. I chose to match her change in routine by deciding to skip building the outer border first, a step that moved me entirely out of my otherwise rigid norm.

We had a blast with the task, each finding great pleasure in the shared experience.

Quite simply, it helped to make the entire weekend feel downright festive, isolation be damned.

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Frosty Start

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After an initial scare of Cyndie’s foot not working for a day after her knee surgery, she has regained the ability to wiggle her toes and walk like normal. She is playing the good patient and raising and icing her knee while otherwise resting to allow for maximum healing. That leaves the walking of our dog solely up to me at the crack of dawn. It’s the least I could do for her since she has been gifting me the pleasure of waking up slowly in bed on weekends on a regular basis.

Delilah’s body clock does not like to sleep in.

This weekend I am getting a fresh dose of starting the day in the crisp pre-dawn frost of snowless December days.

The pandemic is contributing to a mind-numbing distortion of normalcy with a bizarre mix of isolation combined with displays on television and the internet attempting to make it seem like everything is just fine and Christmas will be the same as always. Advertisers can attempt to make us believe that, but beyond wishing it were so, I don’t think anyone is buying that ruse.

There are plenty of people who are investing energy toward making the best of a bad situation, and I appreciate that greatly, but believe it should be done without discounting the harsh reality of overwhelmed hospitals and high death tolls raging concurrently.

Without checking the authenticity of the reports, I am saddened this morning to see a change of data for the U.S. recording another death every minute to now happening every 33 seconds. (Graphic posted on CBS This Morning broadcast.)

This brings a glaring awareness to how privileged we are to live isolated from congested populations and to have our land and animals where we can get outside to breathe the country air.

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Written by johnwhays

December 6, 2020 at 11:33 am

Red Leaves

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On my drive home from work yesterday, I accidentally allowed myself to hear news on the radio as it blathered nothing but bad vibes, one after another. It knocked me for a loop that needs an antidote of something hopeful or some promise that better days for all might lie ahead. I can only assume that promise remains somewhere beyond the horizon because it’s not visible to me yet.

I am lucky, though. Home is a sanctuary with Cyndie and our animals happy to greet me when I arrive and the scenery around our house offering a soothing view.

Check out the maple tree leaves turning red over Cyndie’s gardens.

It’s an early adopter.

Surrounded by love in our paradise, I was able to leave the gloomy news behind for the time being.

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Written by johnwhays

September 18, 2020 at 6:00 am

Restorative Return

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We slept in our own bed again last night. It had been almost a week since Delilah had seen Cyndie and the reunion aligned entirely with the hypothesis that dogs perceive absence to be the equivalent of death and if a pack-mate returns, it is a miracle.

Cyndie reported that her gardens looked so thirsty for water that a few plants appeared within inches of demise. The labyrinth is a jungle. That will be our first project this morning. It deserves a double-team effort. I hope to get the rest of the grass mowed before predicted afternoon thunderstorms.

One highlight of yesterday was a call from our log home company announcing their plan to arrive tomorrow to begin preparing to reseal our logs.

Thank goodness.

We have seized the moment to eat breakfast in bed, catch up with our online accounts, and take in some favorite Sunday morning TV before setting out on our labors of the day.

Both the obituary and feature article for Cyndie’s dad made it into the Sunday StarTribune newspaper and she and her brothers continue their efforts to fill in the pages of the memorial website for Fred.

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The beginning of life-after-Fred is unfolding with not-unexpected fits and starts, but we are underway as best as we are able. Not doing too bad, if I do say so myself.

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Written by johnwhays

June 28, 2020 at 9:17 am

Grasping Hope

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I’m trying. Against an onslaught of gloom and doom coming from the extreme escalation of Middle East tensions by an impeached President who hasn’t been removed from office, I am trying to dredge up some hope for the triumph of peace and love around the planet. It involves squelching a feeling that my tiny contribution to the world is woefully inadequate toward fulfilling this dream, and as a result, futile.

We are back at Wintervale this morning, being smothered with love from Pequenita and surrounded once again by fields and forest, animal tracks, snow, and chickens.

There is a fire in the fireplace. I’m home for most of the weekend before returning to the regular routine of my 4-day work week and the commuting it involves.

We will be out for a little bit tomorrow to gather with Hays siblings for a post-holiday get-together that tends to happen only rarely.

Cyndie’s increasing role of support for her parents as needs dictate will shift a little as they prepare to return to Florida. I expect she will be taking an increased number of flights south in the coming months as a result.

Today we will try putting away Christmas decorations and clearing snow from the icy valleys on the roof, as well as shovel the deck and a few paths that I skipped when I came home to plow last Tuesday.

This place is such a sanctuary. It is hard to meld in my mind the peace here with unrest in other parts of the globe.

I will grasp for hopeful embers of energy to fuel an escape from worst outcomes being bantered about in the media and within the vengeful souls who have suffered offense. Somewhere in the universe, there must exist a remedy with power to forever sever cycles of violent revenge.

I tend to perceive it as, simply, the power of love. Obviously, it requires significant investment from all parties involved, but the secret (and not-so-secret) ingredient has to be love.

Unfortunately, love isn’t a very quick solution for the climate catastrophes of fires and floods that Australia, Indonesia and other parts of the world are suffering.

I don’t envy the task of mustering hope by the people living in the vicinity of major weather impacts.

It makes the blessings of our precious home all the more impressive.

Sending love as best I can!

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Written by johnwhays

January 4, 2020 at 10:48 am

Rehoming Horses

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In less than a week, they will be gone. Our three horses are returning to the home from which they traveled when they came to us back in the fall of 2013. There is an invisible gloom darkening the energy around here of late. It feels eerily similar to the dreadful grief we endured after Legacy’s death in January of last year.

Happiness still exists, we just aren’t feeling it much these days.

Cyndie spent hours grooming the horses yesterday. I found myself incapable of going near them. It’s as if I’m preparing myself in advance for their absence. This place just won’t be the same without them.

For now, we still have the chickens. With the snow cover receding, and hours of daylight increasing, they are expanding their range again, scouring the grounds for scrumptious things to eat from the earth. It is my hope that they are getting an early start on decimating the tick population around here.

After Cyndie said she picked seven eggs yesterday, I asked if we were getting ahead of our rate of consumption yet. Almost three dozen, she reported!

Spring has definitely sprung.

I walked the grounds yesterday to survey the flow of water draining from the melting snow. We are benefiting greatly from overnight freezes that have slowed the process enough that no single place is being inundated now. It was the heavy rain falling on the deep snow that led to the barn flood last week. We’ve had little precipitation since, and that has helped a lot.

There are a couple of spots where the flow has meandered beyond the modest constraints in place to facilitate orderly transfer, mainly due to the dense snow that still plugs up the ditches and culverts.

Water definitely chooses to flow the path of least resistance.

I can relate to that. It feels like our life here is changing course in search of a new outlet for our energy to flow. Part of me feels like there should be a rehoming of ourselves, except we have no home to which we would return.

In a strange way, it’s as if I am experiencing a similar avoidance of being with myself, like the way I couldn’t bring myself to stand among the horses yesterday.

If this is not the place where I belong, then I already don’t want to be here any more. Unfortunately, there is nowhere I’d rather be right now.

When buds pop, and leaves sprout, I will breathe in our forest air. That will help.

But it won’t be the same without our horses.

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Written by johnwhays

March 23, 2019 at 6:36 am

Same

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

November 29, 2018 at 7:00 am

Shocking Transition

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From this:

To this:

It was a 92° swing in a matter of a few hours.

Ouch. There is a reason they refer to below-zero temperatures as “biting cold.”

I can report that our pets were exceptionally well cared for while we were away. The horses were snuggled in the barn when we arrived after dark last night. Both Delilah and Pequenita were very excited to see us and offered a full dose of canine and feline affection, respectively. The chickens are hunkered down in their coop, which is what we will also do for much of today, by the fireplace in our house.

It was a great family vacation, and  it is great to be back home again.

Being away certainly helps me to better appreciate how much I love the place we call home. There is no place I’d rather live, even when the air outside is ridiculously, bitterly cold.

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Written by johnwhays

December 31, 2017 at 10:33 am

Welcomed Home

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Despite some fleeting moments of inclement weather early in the morning (after a really nice little thunderstorm in the middle of the night) our flight home was on-time and without incident. That part about no incidents is a little surprising because of the number of babies and infants on board.

I spotted the youngster sitting closest to us was under headphones and being mesmerized by programs on a tablet for much of the 3-hour flight. What a great invention when it comes to really, really wanting a child to be occupied for an extended time. Too bad that advantage gets offset by the greater number of times when parents would like their kids to be present and engaged with others in a moment when they instead choose the oblivion of a tablet.

When we landed in Minneapolis, instead of having George and Anneliese pick us up, we took a taxi to Cyndie’s parent’s house in Edina to borrow her mom’s car while mine is in the body shop for repairs. That had us on the road for home at about the same time I would normally be driving home from work on a Monday.

That’s one way to quickly put an accent on the fact we are not on vacation any longer.img_ip1904e

We were met at the door by a very friendly dog who seemed very happy to see us again. Before unpacking a thing, we changed into work clothes and headed out to walk Delilah and tend to the horses. Cyndie decided to put her recent gains in mobility to the test and grabbed ski poles to support her first foray into the snow and uneven ground of our trails. She had done some good walking on multiple surfaces and outdoors while we were in Florida.

We made our way to the horses and got right back in the swing of the usual routine.

Anneliese made a wonderful dinner, followed by a card game at the table, making us feel completely and warmly welcomed back to our home.

Just to get myself fully back into things at Wintervale, I did a little repair work on a problem spot on the electric fence. It was arcing something fierce at the insulator that Legacy had pulled off the t-post. Turns out he cracked it. It was a quick fix of swapping out the bad one with a replacement stolen off a post that wasn’t currently being used.

With that task accomplished, I felt like things were well in order after 5-days away.

Now we have new snow expected tonight and tomorrow, which will serve as a final punctuation mark to our welcome home.

No doubt about it, we are no longer in Florida.

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Written by johnwhays

January 24, 2017 at 7:00 am

Special Friendship

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We are richly blessed this year to have two very precious people sharing our homestead while they are in the process of relocating to Minnesota where they will be closer to family. Our combined situations have aligned such that George and Anneliese are helping us out immensely while we are giving them a temporary home-base for their varied activities.

Since Cyndie’s knee replacement surgery on the last day of November, they have been a key support in allowing me to maintain my early work shift by covering morning chores in caring for our animals. They have also been instrumental in filling in with meal preparations, grocery shopping, and kitchen management.

dscn5678eIt has been my saving grace.

Last night, Anneliese surveyed a few recipes and whipped out a spectacular dinner of barbecue ribs, sweet potato fries, spicy beans, pineapple slices and salad. It was a taste of summer on one of the colder nights of the year that warmed our hearts as much as it filled our stomachs and thrilled our taste buds.

We hit the jackpot once again, on the lottery of precious friends. Their companionship during this period of sharing living space together has been so rewarding that we find ourselves longing for them to return whenever we are home alone for too long.

There is a saying that you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family. Well, we seem to keep getting around that by finding friends that very quickly become members of our family.

Thank you, George and Anneliese for taking such good care of us while we are taking care of you!

Isn’t that just the way things should always go?

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Written by johnwhays

January 5, 2017 at 7:00 am