Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘inspiration

Fine Love

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I was clinging to life yesterday, what with an intermittent drippy nose and a congestion headache invading my otherwise stellar health, and from beneath my snuggly blanket, I kept hearing lyrics from a John Hiatt song, over and over in my head.

I’ve seen an angel or two before
but I never asked one to be my wife

Cyndie and I have taken turns caring for each other over the years, and when it’s my turn to be the patient, Cyndie becomes an angel of mercy for me.

She took this picture yesterday morning that gives the impression of some kind of energy emanating from our barn. I expect it is a couple of dissolving jet contrails that painted the morning sky in such dramatic fashion, but I’m happy to imagine that it means something about our place.

Love is one of the pillars by which we live our lives, and it continues to inspire our imaginings of what might be possible on our precious property in the rural countryside. The last few years have been a struggle, in a variety of unrelated ways, not the least of which was the passing of our herd-leading horse, Legacy.

The ongoing painful dysfunction of our government that for over two years has been providing a daily scourge of depressing results hasn’t helped, either.

Cyndie and I are in a bit of a holding pattern as to what comes next. It was a response to her discoveries working with horses, and our time spent with Ian in Portugal that brought us to this property. I was happy to join her in this adventure to unknown possibilities.

Back to John Hiatt’s song…

I left my map way back there baby
I don’t know where we are
But I’m gonna pull my pony up
Hitch my wagon to your star

“Real Fine Love” Written by: JOHN HIATT Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group


I’m not sure what comes next, but it seems to me that it would likely have a focus that emanates from that barn.

Whatever it is, it will be infused with a real fine love.



Written by johnwhays

January 5, 2019 at 9:52 am

My Being

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I stood alone
among the trees on the hill
just outside the house
in the cold
for a moment
to look and listen
the great outdoors never disappoints
there is no fight for recognition
things just are
smoky wafts of breath rise with every exhale
resounding quiet slowly begins to yield tiny sounds
a titmouse
finch or sparrow
pecking the skin
of a nearby tree
a squirrel
moves in fits and starts
along a route
obviously used many times before
a breeze
rolls a crispy brown leaf
across the top crust of old snow
my being here
on a winter Sunday
has little influence on these woods
yet the land
the trees
and breeze
imbue a universe of energies
that inspire
my being




Written by johnwhays

December 30, 2018 at 8:15 am

Trail Inspirations

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After a second visit on Saturday for pure maple syrup and pancakes, Cyndie enlisted the artistic energies of visiting Williams girls, Ella and Sarah, to decorate some of the new blocks before we placed them on the trail.

It’s a bit of a shame that their designs will all too quickly be subject to the abuses of plodding muddy boots and paws, but that won’t stop the creative exclamations from still offering glimpses of inspiration to passersby.

The 60 new blocks paved another 8.5 feet of sloppy trail, but we’re still going to need a lot more pallets if we want to cover the length of perpetually wet ground down there.

The picture I used yesterday to show the blocks on the trail was from October of 2016. Yesterday, Cyndie took a picture with the newest blocks in the foreground, which is actually viewing in the opposite direction from the first image.

It’s not an exact comparison, but I like seeing one next to the other.

Can you see how far in the distance the old blocks run in the picture on the right?















Reminds me a little of the yellow brick road. Oh my!




Written by johnwhays

April 30, 2018 at 6:00 am

Leaning Over

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The heavy rock that took five people to lift into place on the boulders at the center of our labyrinth has survived the worst that winter tossed its way. It didn’t fall out and roll to the ground. However, it did lean over to a significant degree.

I think it might be a metaphor for how Cyndie and I feel after the number of challenges we have faced in the last few months, starting with the unexpected death of our lead horse, Legacy.

Just as we began to think we were coming to terms with one thing, another challenge would blow in on us. It all pretty much tipped us over to a similar degree. It occurred to us, more than once, that one way to avoid falling to earth would be by simply choosing to jump down of our own volition.

It’s funny. In a way, it took a leap of faith in the first place to get where we are today. Now we have wondered about taking a leap right back out of here, to be done with the struggles confounding our original vision.

The thing is, as crucial a part of our dream as Legacy was, I don’t want his dying to linger as the insurmountable disturbance that extinguished the flame of possibility for good. It doesn’t do proper justice to him or his name. Losing Legacy can be a powerful lesson for us to grasp and embrace.

Really, anything we might accomplish going forward, will be in honor of him and all he contributed here.

This past weekend, for the first time since he died, we witnessed the three chestnuts execute a completely unexpected “Emergency Response Drill.” It was a big deal to us. Legacy, as herd leader, used to initiate these surprise escape drills at feeding time as a way to see he could get the herd moving in a moments notice, even if it meant leaving their food.

They all run away with a full-speed urgency that implies all lives are at stake. At about ten paces away, they pull up short, turn around to assess the situation, and then walk back and finish eating.

It’s invigorating to watch, especially when you just so happen to be standing in the vicinity with a manure scoop, at risk of being inadvertently trampled by their frantic departure.

Neither Cyndie nor I spotted who initiated the drill, but simply knowing the herd is resuming their group behaviors was comforting. I don’t know if this will culminate in a clear establishment of a new leader, but I’m pleased to see they are working on some kind of arrangement.

Cyndie reported that the mares initiated another drill yesterday, while Hunter just happened to be rolling on the wet, muddy ground, which forced him to abort his plan and get back to his feet, pronto.

Yes, they are definitely working on something. Poor guy is outnumbered now, so I won’t be surprised if either Cayenne (who has always behaved like a big sister with him) or Dezirea end up filling the role as primary head of their household.

We’ve all been pushed over a little bit since the start of the year, but we haven’t hit the ground.

Knowing the horses are working things out, and having a brood of new chicks to fawn over, helps provide inspiration for us to visualize righting ourselves and doing Legacy proud.

I think we are making strides toward steadying ourselves to lean into whatever might unfold next.



Written by johnwhays

March 27, 2018 at 6:00 am

What Led?

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The weeks that have followed the unexpected death of Legacy, our Arabian gray who was the herd leader of three chestnuts, have been made even more difficult by some extreme winter weather, the death of a colleague and friend whom Cyndie worked with during her years as Principal of Eden Prairie High School, and now signs of some laminitis lameness in Hunter.

Among the many contributing factors listed for laminitis, we found that hormonal imbalance caused by stress of moving a horse or the loss of a field companion spoke directly to the situation effecting our remaining three. Sadly, this recent heavy snow accumulation, followed by the dramatic thaw, has added another risk by making the uneven frozen footing in the paddocks hazardous for bruising or mechanical damage to the cellular bond between sensitive laminae and the hoof wall.

On top of these issues, this weekend Cyndie and I were smacked with the reality that her car is in need of cost prohibitive repairs. Logic indicates it is time to shop for a different vehicle for her.

Roll all these issues together and our grieving minds both came to a similar thought: has our dream of making Wintervale Ranch into a functioning business met with defeat?

Life was a heck of a lot less complicated for me when I lived in the suburbs and only had to deal with maintaining the house and our tiny lot. I hate to admit there are aspects of that which look desirable in comparison to our current situation.

Our unpredictable and decidedly inadequate combined incomes do not make shopping for a replacement vehicle as simple as it once was for us. Right now, shopping for a different car seems to be a tipping point for our analysis of this whole crazy move to the country to build a self-sustaining retreat and learning center.

What led us here in the first place?

We found ourselves revisiting the series of inspirational events that sequentially fueled our passion and groomed our decisions. From the magical trip to spend two weeks with Ian Rowcliffe in Portugal, to Cyndie’s apprenticeship in Linda Kohanov’s Eponaquest workshops, to our discovery of this gorgeous property and log home in west-central Wisconsin, the mid-life transition we embarked on seemed supernaturally ordained.

Where is that inspiration now?

Instead of the surprisingly achievable answers and solutions that have blessed us in response to all the incredible challenges that arose throughout the early years of this adventure, we are increasingly noticing a lack of income-generating response to our offerings and an increase in stressful difficulties with our animal partners.

Obviously, the most dramatic stressor being Legacy’s sudden death.

Just like all that has come before, we know there is a lesson for us in this. Even though he is gone, Legacy still has something to teach us.

At the center of it all is, love.

We grieve because we love and experienced a loss, but loving is how we got where we are today.

We believe it is possible to rediscover the love and inspiration that guided us here and we are seeking to re-attune ourselves to more of the surprisingly achievable answers and solutions that have graced our journey thus far.

What led us here is exactly the same as what will lead us to what happens next.

Please keep your seat belts fastened and your arms and hands inside at all times for the remainder of this wild ride.



Saturday Morning

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It’s just another Saturday morning. Yesterday is over and tomorrow hasn’t happened yet. I’m tired, like so many millions of mornings before, but more aware of it than usual. Is it a physical tiredness, or mental fatigue? I think the answer to both is, yes.

I’m tired like I must be another day older. I guess I can’t argue with that. Older, I am.

I’ve got Trey Anastasio’s self-titled 2002 album playing straight through, in the order it was presented. It’s become an anomaly for me to let recordings play the way I listened to them when I was a kid, one side of a vinyl LP and then the other.

Now days, for me, it’s almost always a computer-generated “mix-tape” of songs from the complete catalog in my iTunes file. That has its own rewards, but it produces a different result, for sure.

Music is like food for my soul. Sometimes I eat just because there is food in front of me. “See food,” I call it. I listen to a lot of music in the same way, consuming it just because it is there. I like to assume it nourishes me adequately enough, but sometimes my mind must develop a craving for tunes that will give me something particular I need.

I want to hear a song I love, an instrumental performance that thrills me, or a composition played so inspiringly that I get a shiver up my spine.

It is a phenomenon that is difficult to manufacture. There are a lot of intangible aspects fueling the outcome, most of them in my head.

It’s odd that I picked one album this morning because I usually get what I seek by way of spontaneously building a custom mix for the moment and letting one song feed the next in a climb to satisfaction.

I’m thinking I might try that next, but the single album mode served to get my tired old self started this Saturday morning.

As I write that, Trey is singing, “Push on ’til the day, push on ’til the day, push on ’til the day…”

With no firm plan of action for the weekend, I look forward to discovering what unfolds.

Pushing on!



Written by johnwhays

January 27, 2018 at 9:56 am

Sunday Two

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Wintervale‘s November version of the Second Sunday event is coming up this weekend. The theme Cyndie has prepared involves “Gratefulness Collages.” In the month of giving thanks for our bounty, I expect the creative arts project will most likely be well augmented with bountiful offerings from her kitchen, too.

Materials are supplied, but if you’ve got any interesting old magazines lying around, feel free to donate them to the cause.

As of last night, the forecast for Sunday looked sunny, which would be nice for an afternoon stroll to see what inspiration the horses might offer. Of course, the chickens will be eager to say hello, too.

They love company as much as we do!

Make sure to let us know if you plan to stop in for a visit between noon and 3:00. Cyndie’s contact information can be found at the link for Second Sundays, above.




Written by johnwhays

November 7, 2017 at 7:00 am