Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Memories

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.

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Written by johnwhays

November 19, 2020 at 7:00 am

Painted Skies

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One of many fond memories I have of home during my adolescence is the variety of magazines that showed up in our mailbox. I’m guessing I have my father to thank for this. Weekly, I paged through Time, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated for exposure to the latest images and trends. I remember exploring Popular Mechanics, or was it Popular Science? Probably both. There was Reader’s Digest and a few along the lines of Good Housekeeping, likely for Mom’s benefit, to which I paid a little less attention.

For a spell, there was Arizona Highways with its glorious pictures of colorful western sunsets. I suppose that contributed to a perspective that Arizona was the place where that happened. Obviously, that perception has carried through to now because that magazine came to mind when Cyndie offered me photos she took of yesterday’s sunset and this morning’s sunrise.

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Beldenville, Wisconsin. Land of painted skies…

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Written by johnwhays

November 14, 2020 at 10:18 am

Here Goes

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‘Tis the season. The aromas and the flavors of November have arrived inside our house. My ongoing challenge to control gastronomic excess for the good of my hemoglobin A1c and my waistline love-handles intensifies significantly as my childhood favorites show up in amazing succession.

Chex mix and pecan pie appeared this week to start the month with intensity.

I’ve noticed these hold a much greater draw for my cravings than all the scones and hand-pies Cyndie has been baking for the Berry Farm lately. As delicious a treat as those are, I wasn’t exposed to them growing up. That seems to be the key difference in the intensity of the attraction.

Oh, those childhood flavor memories.

Mmm mm good.

Yesterday, at sunset, I was tasked with tending the chickens into the coop because Cyndie wasn’t going to be home from errands until after dark. That’s not usually a big deal, except this time we have the ailing Australorp who had vanished on me.

Earlier in the afternoon, when I looked in on the brood, I found all the young ones romping in the vicinity of the barn. As I cooed at them and chirped my falsetto chicken-dad love-speak, I heard chicken feet running through the leaves in our woods. It was two of the adult hens coming to make sure they weren’t missing out on treats.

Only two hens.

Where was the Australorp? I searched and searched but found no sight of her. Uh oh.

Of course, I assumed the worst. When she didn’t return to the coop at sunset with all the others, I called Cyndie, in case she would know any other places to look. After begrudgingly closing up the coop for the night, I headed up toward the house. Since this was the direction the two hens had come running from earlier, I decided to detour behind the shop garage for one last look.

In the low light of dusk, the black silhouette of our Australorp stood out distinctly against the lighter background or our neighbor’s harvested soybean field. She was standing out in the open all by herself, poor little thing.

I have no idea if she didn’t return because she couldn’t or because she didn’t want to, but she obviously still isn’t well.

She didn’t warm up to my approach, but she didn’t run away, either. As I slowly talked my way closer and closer, she moved enough that I thought maybe I could walk with her back to our land. She got a few feet into the woods before I decided to just pick her up and carry her.

We’ve given her electrolytes with the hydration but didn’t have any antibiotics. Cyndie is heading to the feed store this morning to see what she can find there. We would like to offer our precious hens whatever support we can.

This morning, Cyndie pointed out the fact that this was the bird that survived an encounter with a fox a few months ago. We don’t know what internal injuries she may have dealt with at the time that might compromise her ultimate longevity.

My inclination this morning is that I might take some Chex mix down to share. She won’t have childhood memories of it, but still, it tastes like an elixir of love and life.

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Written by johnwhays

November 7, 2020 at 10:15 am

Dream Visit

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It’s a mystery to me, one which I believe equally that either of two possibilities could be true. When a deceased person makes an appearance in my dreams while I am sleeping, is it because my mind conjured up the occurrence or because the spiritual nature of the passed soul placed themselves into the perceptions going on in my mind?

On Wednesday night, or actually, in the wee early hours of Thursday morning, I was having a series of fantastical dreams. At one point, I found myself seated in a booth common to many eateries, with Cyndie beside me and her mother across from me, and then Cyndie’s dad, Fred, showed up, sitting on the corner opposite from me.

It is the first time I have dreamed of Fred since he died in June.

I was shocked to see him, and incredibly thrilled. He seemed to acknowledge my reactions, flashing an impish grin as I scanned Cyndie and her mom who remained oblivious. I was so moved with his presence, the rush of emotions made me want to cry.

It being a dream, and my body essentially paralyzed, I couldn’t get myself to act on the urge.

My question lingers; did my mind choose to create this scenario of Fred’s spirit appearing in my dream or did his supernatural essence actually show up to connect with me?

Either way, it brought me a lot of joy in the moment, joy that lasted all day long and expanded each time I described it to people.

Of course, the best was when I had a chance to tell Cyndie about it.

While he was seated, he took a swig from what appeared to be a beer bottle. He looked really happy to me. The thought occurred to me that he could probably have a beer if he wanted in his afterlife. Fred had been sober about as long as Cyndie and I have been married. He drank a lot of non-alcoholic beers, but I don’t recall him ever looking as happy about it as he looked when tipping that bottle in my dream.

Did my brain conjure all that up? Maybe. Since I don’t really know, I’m happy just relishing the great feeling the dream provided.

It did nudge up the emotions of missing him a bit more than before, but the fun of seeing him again, and his looking so perfectly happy and mischievous was worth it.

Missing Fred is something that a lot of us are adjusting to and will linger long. If we could meet him in our dreams at will, I suspect it would happen more often than it does.

Maybe that lends a little credence to the possibility that appearances of lost loved ones in our dreams is more their doing than our own.

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Written by johnwhays

October 23, 2020 at 6:00 am

Cake Mistake

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Missing ingredient? She swears not. Wrong ingredient? Confident there wasn’t. Overfilled pans? Can’t say it wasn’t, but both to this bizarre degree? Hard to pin down.

Cyndie tried an unfamiliar recipe to bake a vanilla cake for Julian’s birthday. Since it was an untested recipe, she decided to conform strictly to the directions, a somewhat uncommon mode for her.

It didn’t take long to suspect something was amiss.

The batter was boiling over in the oven. Both the six little bunt shapes and the square pyrex pan.

There was nothing very cake-like at all in this failed birthday bake-xtravaganza.

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Old ingredients? Nope, she said.

Baking powder or soda? Both included.

Did you mix up the amounts? No.

I want her to try again to see what happens. She has no interest in going near that recipe ever again.

After a quick visit to the grocery store for more supplies, Cyndie went for a layer cake.

It didn’t boil over.

Happy Birthday, Julian!

(And Happy 39th Anniversary, John and Cyndie! It’s a gorgeous blue-sky September day today, just like that day in the garden was on the shores of Lake Minnetonka.)

I don’t remember the weather 32 years ago, because we were indoors in a hospital room. I do remember driving 2-year-old Elysa to the hospital to see Momma and meet her new younger brother.

September 19 is a special day for our family.

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This year, we celebrate it with a tinge of sorrow in the shadow of yesterday’s passing of Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Here’s hoping she will still be guiding us all from her continued heavenly perspective.

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Written by johnwhays

September 19, 2020 at 9:47 am

Himalayan Memories

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A dear friend who was a precious member of the Himalayan trek I did back in 2009 recently visited us and left me with her illustrated edition of Jon Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air.” I had read this book about the deadly 1996 season on Everest when it was first published but had not seen this version with all the photos and graphics.

David Piper took this shot of me overlooking Namche Bazaar

Thinking I would breeze through and just look at all the pictures, I unexpectedly found myself powerless to ignore the text. After an attempt to skim some of the reading to refresh my memory failed miserably, I gave in and absorbed every last word, at the expense of sleep and a few daily tasks.

I simply couldn’t stop reading until I reached the end.

Of course, the early portions of the descriptions from Kathmandu up to Lukla and then the villages up to 13,000 FT elevation resonate deeply with my first-hand experience and bring a rush of vivid pleasant memories flooding back.

I clearly remember the specific spot Krakauer describes when the rocky path first arrives at a vista with a view of the peak of Everest.

The adventure travel group I trekked with had a tag line that “Everyone Has an Everest.” While re-reading “Into Thin Air” I have found myself understanding better than ever how to apply this thinking more often to everyday life.

It doesn’t need to be some epic accomplishment. Reading the intricate details of the goings-on in a guided expedition to reach the summit of Everest reveals how important each little step is, maybe even more important than the few abbreviated minutes they are able to allow themselves to spend at the top.

As well, the critical value of coming back down after the pinnacle is achieved, which is the only thing that will allow a full realization of the accomplishment.

So it can be in our everyday lives. Each thing we do in an effort toward our goals holds value like the preparations individuals make in an Everest expedition.

It’s not simply the destination, but the journey that should be valued in our day-to-day mini-expeditions.

The journey both there, and back again.

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Aerial History

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With much appreciation to my son, Julian, for his pointer to a precious University of Minnesota online historical aerial photograph resource he stumbled onto yesterday, I dedicate today’s post to my siblings and cousins who will most likely enjoy this more than anyone else.

I immediately searched for images from my old Eden Prairie homes. I started looking at our house on Cedar Ridge Road, but the big fun was exploring views of Intervale Ranch on old County Road 18.

Check out the place in 1960:

I have cropped this to include Fullerton’s and McCartney’s houses for reference, and the gravel pit across from the driveway of our house.

You can clearly see the center circle of our driveway, the tennis court, the barns, and the house on the hill that was the Superintendent’s quarters where the family first lived while our grandparents were in the main house.

Just seven years later, it looked like this:

Look how much bigger the gravel pit is. You can see the divided highway that formed the barrier between us and Braemar Park. I’m pretty certain that the final excavation of the surroundings was already underway, based on the pathway cleared between the outer barn and the highway.

Here is a closer zoom focusing on Intervale:

Can you find the chestnut tree?

And finally, here is a wider pan to show more of the surroundings:

This gives the added reference of 494 in the bottom of the frame, much of the golf course, and –with the stark white roof– the Braemar hockey rink.

You can also see the rest of the expanded gravel pit.

Remember how hilly it was around there? From the satellite view, it is really hard to get a sense of those dramatic features. I believe we have photos of the construction of the north/south divided highway that was County 18 at the time that are dated 1962. I find it interesting to consider the changes that happened in the seven years between these images.

Cyndie and I have been at Wintervale for seven years now. In October it will reach eight. Luckily, I’ve already been collecting the overhead satellite views of this property.

Hopefully, there won’t be any divided highway installations coming into the pictures in our lifetimes.

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Written by johnwhays

July 7, 2020 at 6:00 am

So Little

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There are days when I want nothing more than to be standing again in the high Himalayas gazing at surrounding peaks and the valleys between.

These days I find plenty of solace in the wide-open spaces of our rural paradise where the variety of skies provides endless fascination.

It serves to remind me that we are so little and the universe so vast.

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Written by johnwhays

July 2, 2020 at 6:00 am

Music Memory

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As a latter-baby-boom fan of record albums, I have a number of milestone music memories from my coming-of-age years moving between middle school to high school in the 1970s. Admittedly, having four older siblings as in-home influencers contributed greatly to my exposure to music that was older than my years. The burgeoning rock scene of the Woodstock era was a little beyond my 10-year-old self, but the allure of the music was well-established by the time I reached my mid-teens.

Cyndie and I were recently gifted with access to Apple Music by our kids. The welcome message from Apple points out my song collection is now 60-million strong. This is a gift the kids will have a very difficult time surpassing in the future. Maybe a fiber-optic line of unlimited data access to our home in the rural countryside could top this, but that’s pretty far beyond the ability of individuals to achieve.

As it is, we are able to sip new downloads through a tiny straw on our current data plan.

However, my connection at work offers an alternate avenue for adding songs to the library on my phone. Yesterday, I downloaded the America album, “Holiday.” That record was released on my 15th birthday at a time when my interest in their acoustic guitar sounds and vocal harmonies was very strong.

It was to be my time. New music that was current to my adolescence. However, reality didn’t quite match my expectations. The band was evolving and I was disappointed.

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I liked the way they looked on their first album. I am embarrassingly influenced by album cover art. (Duly noting the incredible insensitivity of the somber indigenous tribesmen behind the gleeful white trio under the dual-meaning “America.”) The old-timey photo on “Holiday” didn’t appeal to me one bit.

The new album had less strumming acoustic guitars and more theatrical clarinet.

I tried to like “Holiday.” There were a couple of songs that wowed me, but the majority didn’t, despite listening to it over and over again. When I moved from LPs to CDs, “Holiday” didn’t get replaced. I haven’t heard most of these songs in 40-some years. Now, with the convenience of digital access, I get to revisit my youth.

Listening to the album again triggered a lot of memories. Riding in the back of a station wagon packed with teens and someone turning up the radio for the song, “Tin Man” and shooshing everyone because “John’s song” was on.

But, I wanted “Horse with No Name” and “Riverside” not “Sister Golden Hair” and “Muskrat Love.”

Luckily, at the time, I also had “461 Ocean Boulevard,” the return of Eric Clapton to recording after recovering from a 3-year addiction to heroin.

I’m looking forward to mining more lost gems and their associated memories of my youth among the other 60-million songs that hopefully include a wide variety from the 70s.

Thank you, Elysa and Julian! This was a brilliant choice for a gift for us both.

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Written by johnwhays

June 16, 2020 at 6:00 am

Unidentified Obfuscation

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It starts to get hard when you reach the point of not being able to hear yourself think. The little boy in me who has never grown up occasionally shows up to ask me why I’m so quick to forget about the bliss of being four or five years old and getting lost in some harmless pursuit. The answer is always the same.

It’s not that I’m quick to forget. I’m just slow to remember. Present-day life tends to do that to a person.

An awful lot of years have passed since I sprawled on the floor making truck sounds with my mouth as I rolled Matchbox cars along the borders of our large Persian rug.

The recent stress of the day-job continues unabated amidst a boom of business that started at the same time as the global pandemic and its havoc on world economies. It is proving to be a brain-scrambler of significant magnitude.

Last night the ranch received an impressive sample of the remnants of Tropical Storm Cristobol in the form of wave after wave of soaking rain. I think it might make the landscape pond overflow. [wry smile]

We are hoping that the deluge won’t drown any of the plants in Cyndie’s gardens.

She served up another delicious salad last night with all the greens coming from plants she is growing. This time I remembered to take a picture.

The asparagus isn’t ours. They’re store-bought. I can only hope someday our wisps of skinny stalks will someday reach such mammoth proportions.

Much to our surprise, rainstorms seem to improve our connection for Zoom meetings, and last night I was able to participate in conversations with an international collection of members of my beloved virtual community, Brainstorms. (Ward, it was a treat to see and hear you!). For almost an hour my connection flashed instability only three times, but never once dropped my connection entirely. That was a first.

The normal mode for Zoom gatherings by way of our cell connection out here in the countryside is to freeze up frequently and get dropped/reconnected multiple times until I give up and sign off.

The last time Cyndie was in a Zoom meeting during wild weather, she enjoyed similar success. The signal must like having all those raindrops in the air. Who’d uh guessed?

The little boy in me would have, probably.

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Written by johnwhays

June 10, 2020 at 6:00 am