Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Love

Holiday Afterglow

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A particularly precious aspect of family gatherings over a holiday is the physical assembling in collective display of love and affection for each other and the sharing of our immediate concerns and joys. I am greatly blessed to be a member of Cyndie’s family and together we are humbled to be parents of two incredible individuals in our daughter, Elysa, and son, Julian.

The previous two days were filled with hours of family time, regardless of the growing threat of the highly contagious coronavirus spiking once again around the world. We will serve as examples of the full vaccination/booster combinations to constrain any possible infections from severe illness or forced hospitalization if sickness arises in the days ahead. We hold no confidence that the latest omicron variant was completely absent the whole time, despite the lack of any symptoms or known contacts in those present.

Out of an abundance of caution, not all family members chose to participate in-person, in order to protect those with greater vulnerabilities to the threats of infection.

This morning, Cyndie and I are warmed by the residual energized emotions of heartfelt sharing with so many relations we dearly love.

My body feels hyper-nourished and a little over-sweetened by the feasts we gleefully enjoyed. Man, this family cooks and serves regal holiday meals.

The time shared at the home of Cyndie’s mom in Edina was a bit more emotional than usual due to activity underway to prepare the house for sale and the thought process and physical work of transitioning Marie to new living space at Friendship Village in Bloomington.

The next few days will involve intense effort by many hands to replace Christmas decorations with a much more austere simplicity in preparation for the realty company to film the full walk-through for online “open house” reviewals.

I will do my part by holding down the ranch so that Cyndie can offer her full-time attention to helping her brothers carry out the herculean task of processing in just a few days, lifetimes of accumulated family possessions.

In a perfectly timed gift after my final day of commuting to a day-job, Elysa gifted me the perfect shirt reflecting one of the responsibilities that will become an enhanced focus of my increased hours available to manage the ranch.

The EFRU has gained a new full-time member and I couldn’t be more proud.

I feel great pleasure every time I push our wheelbarrow out of the barn door and under the overhang with a calm greeting of, “Housekeeping!” for our horses to know what comes next. It doesn’t hurt that they smartly recognize what usually follows the tidying up of their accommodations. That is when their feed pans are served up.

Today is my half-birthday. December 26th is always a day I feel rather celebratory in the afterglow of Christmas magic.

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Artful Listening

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The universe is telling each one of us everything we need to know. Hearing the messages clearly is a trick because the chatter of our own minds serves as both a running distraction and a unique conduit for what the world is telling us. Sorting between the two is no simple task.

I can’t count the number of times I have found myself in the location of a tornado warning and not suffered a direct hit. Too many of those times I have neglected to go into the basement, choosing to stand at a window to observe instead. Hearing survivor stories from the incredibly damaging outbreak Friday that killed scores of people leaves me humbled.

Storms of old are no longer a safe reference for storms today.

Perception is not always reality.

That looks like old man Christmas leaning up against our house but what is up with the size of that tree he is holding?

If the tree is as big as it looks, Mr. Kringle must be HUGE!

Of course he is. His magic covers the world. His message to us is overflowing with peace, joy, love, and goodwill.

Don’t let our busy minds obscure the meaning.

Listen to the love. Send extra doses of love to the victims of the December outbreak of deadly tornadoes across portions of South-Central United States and the Ohio Valley.

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Written by johnwhays

December 14, 2021 at 7:00 am

Believed

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loving you
is a habit I developed
from repetition that started
when I saw you the very first time
that I remember, anyway
when my heart rippled
involuntarily
and new feelings arose
from cells throughout my body
it wasn’t possible for me
to not be in love with you
not until later, anyway
when I began to get
in the way of my own healthy growth
building imagined realities
my brain willingly believed

but unraveling phantasmic strands
that disrupted true love
rekindled old feelings
and I discovered that old habit
was still hanging around
still growing, in fact
beyond limitations
my brain willingly believed

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Written by johnwhays

November 27, 2021 at 10:03 am

Twenty Questions

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I’m not going to number them, so you’ll have to count if you want to find out if there really are twenty. It’s just that a question came to mind during my morning commute yesterday and I found myself mentally careening down a rabbit hole of not-necessarily-related questions that went on for so long –pretty much the rest of the way to work– I figured it deserved to become a blog post.

Now, if I could only remember what it was I was pondering so deeply in that westbound commute at almost zero-dark-thirty. Oh, that sentence triggered a memory of feeling really grateful to have been able to drive west in the morning and east in the afternoon during most of my working life. I’ve avoided fighting the daily glare of sun in my eyes while driving.

Speaking of being triggered, a song lyric during the morning commute got me to wonder, do people know who it is that taught them how to love? Or how come some humans can play instruments faster than my ear is able to discern? Have you ever heard Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper play Tall Fiddler? Wow. Seems pretty fast, until they suddenly go even faster.

How come I’ve never been able to get my left and my right hand to work together at breakneck speed to hit the correct notes at the correct time on the strings of my guitar? That’s just black magic to play that unrealistically fast and actually produce recognizable melodies with every note presented, if only for a micro-fraction of a second each.

When it appears like our dog is trying to bite the cat, is it possible to know which of the two was the instigator? Does Delilah suddenly start barking at something outside our house because of a sound she hears or some canine sixth sense that tells her there is an invisible thing out there that needs to be barked at?

Actually, I think it’s become a learned behavior that she is unconscious about. There was once a squirrel up in the big tree towering above her kennel outside. She barked up at it, logically. Unfortunately, now she barks up at that tree every time we put her in the kennel, regardless of any squirrel sightings. Does she associate being in the kennel with needing to bark up at the tree? Apparently so.

Are digital HD subchannels radio’s best-kept secret? Is it weird that one radio or television station is actually multiple stations?

Is there a general age break where the reference of something being bigger than a bread box no longer makes any sense? Maybe it has been replaced with, “Is it bigger than a video game console?” Of course, I have no idea if game consoles have a general size at this point, but I have seen pictures of people opening wrapped packages of the latest impossible-to-get hot item that have me thinking there might be.

Have you noticed how Cyndie’s photos have been more interesting than mine for the last few years? I am very lucky that she shares them for use on my blog.

Does it matter if I don’t offer answers to all the questions I am bringing up? Can you tell when my posts run a little long? Who’s counting words, anyway? It’s all about how long it takes to read, not how many words there are. You just skim the sentences like a speed reader after all, don’t you? What words catch your eye enough to slow you down and really read a full paragraph?

Without knowing any of the answers, it still just boils down to the question that started it all, do you know who taught you how to love?

I heard the question in a song.

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Written by johnwhays

November 18, 2021 at 7:00 am

One Thing

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Or another. I was thinking about writing “The Thing” for the title of this post in a riff off the idiom, “Here’s the thing.” My software indicated I’d already used that title once before on Relative Something. I try not to reuse titles if possible. Seriously, though, I was thinking, “Here’s the thing…”

Did you know Alec Baldwin hosted a public radio show and podcast interview series by the title, “Here’s the Thing?” I didn’t.

Makes sense though. That’s a great title. I tried a couple other pairs of words and found I’d already used them, too.

I prefer the pattern of holding my titles to two words, but after more than ten years of blogging, it gets hard to come up with a unique pair.

Whether it’s one thing or another, here’s the thing… I never expected that one day, I would live in Wisconsin.

Maybe I should have titled this post, “Never Expected.”

There are innumerable things I never expected to experience in my lifetime. I never expected I would witness stupidity being proudly espoused as publicly as is common in this day and age.

I never expected the burgeoning of private military companies into global powerhouses offering services to nation-states.

I never expected that I would be alive during a years-long global pandemic that would cause the amount of death COVID-19 has, even though I had read books and watched movies about similar biohazardous calamities.

I never expected private companies would create space crafts with reusable propulsion modules that make pinpoint landings on floating platforms in the ocean, especially modules with video capture abilities allowing public viewing of the feat from multiple angles.

I never expected to find out microplastics are everywhere, including inside both animals and humans.

I didn’t expect that so many things imagined for science fiction stories would become realities, ala Star Trek communicators and today’s smartphones. I never imagined that mobile phones would be able to rival cameras to the level of making professional-quality movies.

I remember thinking touch screens would never work. Folding screens? Not possible.

I don’t want to think of how many other things I deem not possible will become reality in my lifetime.

During my technical career in industry, I was on a development team that designed a custom machine for making coated optical discs that the customer boasted would be able to fit an entire volume of encyclopedia for viewing on a computer screen. Even as I worked on the electronics and vacuum chambers of the machine that would make this possible, I struggled to fathom the enormity of digitizing all the information in those books.

I never expected to come to the realization about how much human suffering results from religious conflict when simply loving others solves conflicts, heals wounded souls, and sows peace for all.

I never expected so many of you to read the words I write.

Here’s the thing, overcoming depression opens a world of possibilities.

This I know: It’s always one thing or another, whether you expect it or not.

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Precious Moment

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There wasn’t anything particularly special about my taking on the afternoon chores after work yesterday, other than it is usually Cyndie who fills that role on days I commute to the far side of the Twin Cities. She was on adventures of her own in the Cities yesterday, so I changed clothes when I got home and took Delilah out for a walk.

The rain shower I had driven through to get home had moved on but it had soaked things enough that the trees were subsequently dripping almost as fast as drops fall from a rain cloud.

Delilah veered off the trail in pursuit of some enticing scent. I had no intention of following her and stood my ground until she figured it out and retraced her steps back to me. She is so funny in the way her face communicates that she understands the drill and quickly resumes her position on the trail ahead of me, as if to demonstrate doing so was her plan all along.

When we came around to the barn, she marched inside to the spot we always hook her leash to and waited patiently while I tended to the horses.

They were all calm and quiet, and a little wet from the rain. After I dumped manure on the compost pile and came back to collect their empty feed pans, Swings approached me at the fence. I offered some scratches and a little loving attention.

She soaked it up and stayed engaged with me for an extended session.

The longer she lingered, the more I wanted to love her up with scratches and massage.

It became difficult to tell who was doing the loving and who was on the receiving end. The warmth was definitely flowing in both directions.

It was a truly precious equine moment.

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Written by johnwhays

October 8, 2021 at 6:00 am

Outliving Dad

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The reason I easily remember the last time I saw my father alive is that it was my wedding day on September 19, 1981. Forty years ago, October 2nd was a Friday. Just out of college with a degree in education, Cyndie had unexpectedly nabbed a job with the Edina Police Department and I had yet to find employment. That Friday, on our first week home after our honeymoon, she was on a ride-along with a patrol officer.

I was home alone for the first time since we’d been married and the guys at the station found it humorous at first when I needed to contact her in the middle of the shift.

“Is it an emergency?”

“Well, sort of.” I was in a state of shock over having received the news in a phone call from my younger brother. “My dad died.”

Cyndie came home early from that ride-along shift.

Myocardial Infarction. My dad was 62.

On October 2nd, 2021, I am 62, a fact that seems to mean more to my doctor than me when it comes to my ultimate longevity. But I can’t deny a certain level of awareness about reaching this milestone.

I’ve spent the last forty years navigating being married, working a technical career, and raising children without my dad available for advice or guidance. Now I will embark on the rest of my life journey without having had his example of being an old Hays man.

After Cyndie and I returned from honeymooning up in the woods on the North Shore of Lake Superior, with a stop in Hayward for a couple of nights on the way home, we were taking our very first steps navigating life together in an unfamiliar rented duplex on Cedar Avenue near Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis.

A few days into our first week, it occurred to me that I should pay a visit to my parents before my dad took off for his weekend jaunt “to the lake.” The little fishing cottage on the north shore of Lake Mille Lacs was his version of heaven, I think, or simply a place he could go to be away from, well, the rest of what he found depressing at home.

It was Thursday afternoon and Mom said, “You just missed him.” He got a jump ahead of weekend traffic leaving on a Thursday. I would never see my dad again.

The story I was told is that it appeared as if he had pulled the bedcovers back, sat down on the edge of the bed, and fell back, dead.

This was six months after an initial heart attack that he described to me from his hospital bed as being “a pain I would never wish upon my worst enemy.”

That description helped inspire me beyond merely not wanting to be a depressed alcoholic like him, but not wanting to develop that classic beer belly and clog my arteries with an unhealthy diet. My doctor thinks that still might not be enough. He worries about my genes.

Other than having my older brother, Elliott for a sibling reference, I am now in uncharted territory.

I hope you are taking good care of your ticker, E.

Mine is just a little uneasy today over all the remembering. I expect its got plenty of mileage left, though. I work to keep my heart filled with plenty of love, both coming in and going out.

Thanks, Ralph, for everything you have taught me, in life and in your sudden death forty years ago today.

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Written by johnwhays

October 2, 2021 at 6:58 am

Thinking Contrarily

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The coronavirus variants are causing the pandemic to not go away as much as people wished it would. When not worried about a wildfire or flash floods ravaging homes, the threat of COVID continues to linger large in people’s minds. Some folks have decided to think contrarily about protecting themselves from the virus. Instead of accepting a free vaccine that is the prevailing solution for the pandemic, they decide to pay someone for a livestock dewormer.

Instead of thinking about how to protect their children from a threatening contagious illness by wearing a mask indoors, they choose to focus on how oppressive it is to be told to wear a mask and begin imagining that wearing a mask is actually harmful to their kids.

I get it. I have contrarian tendencies, myself. I choose to wear my belt so the buckle is on my side instead of front and center. Because, why not?

I’m wondering if the concept of virus variants prolonging the pandemic couldn’t contrarily be applied to variants of love that can improve the health and well-being of the human race.

What if oppressive regimes the world over were to become influenced by a new variation of love that morphed into one that overwhelmed their pillars of greed, power, and control?

What if a new mutation of common sense were to evolve and imbue the minds of people who have difficulty thinking for themselves or find it hard to recognize when a grifter is fleecing them?

What if domestic house cats overcame their urge to bother sleeping humans during the wee hours of darkness when sleep is so precious? Okay, that one is really a stretch, but there could be some variation of that tendency that is less crazy-making, couldn’t there? Please?

If thinking contrarily about controversial subjects can lead to some insane results, it seems only logical, being a contrarian, that thinking contrarily about non-controversial subjects could lead to some increasingly sensible and practical results.

A contrary decision to something good doesn’t have to be bad. It could contrarily be better than good!

Let’s put our contrarian tendencies to good use and find new ways to morph love into a continually more effective influence on the world at large.

Let love be the world religion. No dogma. No doctrine. Just L. O. V. E.

L.

O.

V.

E.

I want to hear about variants of love that are more contagious than any previous love we experienced before.

Let it command the lead story of newscasts and fill front-page headlines.

Unstoppable spread of unbelievably contagious love!

Contrary to the norm, let it be that people grow to respond with more fascination and interest to headlines like these than to the negative stories of old.

Can you say, “enlightenment?”

Oh, you contrarian, you.

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It Seems

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It seems to me today that I can’t add anything that you don’t already know. What would be the point of describing how oppressive the hatch of mosquitoes has been since the last long ago rainfall? Despite how fast the grass around here grew after that last dosage of water from the sky, I ended up deciding not to cut it, because the days have been nothing but hot and dry ever since. I didn’t want to stress the grass at a time it was again enduring another stretch of hot, dry weather.

Maybe we’ll get another batch of moisture on Friday, but I can only imagine what that will do for the mosquito population. I’m thinking about mowing this afternoon when I get home from work.

As I turned the last corner onto our street coming home from work yesterday, I was passed by a farm tractor coming from the opposite direction. Then another and another. Ten, then twenty, maybe thirty in a row. Every variety of manufacturers, some with a single passenger beside or behind the driver looking almost board, many with flags attached. A few had cute canvas canopies over the top for shade.

I guess that was something you didn’t know about. I certainly didn’t know anything about it. Some sort of parade out in the wide-open countryside on a Wednesday afternoon when few people might be around to notice. I didn’t see any signs to convey a message. Maybe they were headed somewhere to congregate and make a point. Protest at the steps of the county courthouse over the lack of rain?

My positive momentum is fatigued due to the constant waves of angst flowing from Afghanistan / Taliban / Wildfires / Earthquake / Tropical Storms / Delta Variant / Mask Mandates / Booster Shots / Political Blame / Shouting Matches / Criminal Trials / Sick Pets and every other challenge to peace and harmony that is vibrating so strong these days.

A certain feeling of guilt over the blissful beauty of our immediate surroundings needs to be processed before getting on with the beaming of healthy love out into the universe from the heart.

When I walked up to the paddock gate Tuesday evening to see the fallen snag first hand, Light responded to my presence instantly by purposely crossing the length of the small paddock toward me to make a brief connection. She inhaled my scent, paused, and looked around. I extended a hand to offer a scratch but she had stopped out of my reach. She breathed in again with her nose on my hand, then slowly moved on to join the rest of her herd near the overhang.

You probably didn’t know about that exchange, either.

Seems to me, the old adage about writing what I know tends to work out even when I don’t realize there is anything new about which to write.

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Written by johnwhays

August 19, 2021 at 6:00 am

Warm Reception

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For the past four days, Delilah has been up at the lake with Cyndie. Yesterday, after work, Cyndie’s mom, Marie, met me at our house and I drove her car up to Wildwood. Based on the affection I received from Delilah upon our arrival, our dog must have really missed me.

I was a little surprised by how much she wanted to be in my space. When I got on the floor with her, she tried to sit on my lap. I may have to take back some of those mean things I’ve said about her now that she is showing me some love.

A little later in the evening, she showed she hasn’t lost her penchant for barking at the world around us. I can never tell if it is something she hears or something she smells that suddenly startles her up from a cozy curl-up on the floor with a flourish of energized barking toward whatever the trigger was.

Maybe her dog-shouting will dissuade the geese from perching and pooping on the floating platform in the water at our beach. Cyndie reports her experiment of a plastic owl perched on the raft already seems to be helping.

Some extra barking can’t hurt.

The geese don’t receive near the warmth of a reception I was awarded when we got here.

Speaking of awards, we polished off the evening with a viewing of the NBC prime-time feature of Olympic competitions. The USA women’s beach volleyball pair won gold just as we were all beginning to run on fumes, very ready to head for bed.

Delilah had already found her way to her “den” in a crate draped with a light blanket cover.

I would say that all of our beds offered us warm receptions when we finally got around to falling on them.

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Written by johnwhays

August 6, 2021 at 6:00 am