Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Memories

Another Staycation

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We were able to getaway in town this weekend, leaving Jackie to take care of animals at home. Cyndie and I went off to spend a couple of nights at her parents’ house in Edina. Fred and Marie were headed for a cruise in Germany with friends of theirs, and we provided transportation to the airport yesterday.

Before that, we snuck out for a convertible cruise through our old Eden Prairie stomping grounds. The fabulous September sunshine provided ideal conditions. We stopped by a park to visit folks gathered for an EP fundraising event and enjoyed live music performed by Wondercure, some life-long friends.

After leaving the airport, we headed past an even older neighborhood of ours in south Minneapolis to hook up with more EP friends. We strolled with Paul and Beth along the Linden Hills streets for dinner near Lake Harriet.

Back at their house, we were treated with other-worldly dessert creations from a nearby bakery.

It all feels so cosmopolitan!

How did we come to deserve such richness of life, friends, and food.

It is not lost on me how much the remarkable warm September sunshine and blue skies contribute to making a day seem so positively regal.

Our experiences would have been much different had it been cool, gray, and wet.

I’m just sayin’.





Written by johnwhays

September 9, 2018 at 9:35 am

Photo Explained

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Mary was the only one to question the picture I tossed into yesterday’s missive about my aging, regardless how fiendishly intriguing I was trying to be. I consider the night that photo was taken to be one of my masterpieces of creative interpretation.

A little over thirty years ago, when I had only my father as a reference to what my future appearance might become, Cyndie and I received an invitation to a very special event celebrating her mother’s birthday.

On the occasion of Marie’s 50th, there was going to be a rousing sock hop dust-up on the reserved second floor of the highfalutin Jukebox Saturday Night nightclub in downtown Minneapolis. Of course, the theme was “The Fifties!”

We were to come all dolled up in our best 50s getup.

So, I did.

Then I acted genuinely shocked and embarrassed when I walked in and found out I had misinterpreted the theme.

Didn’t fool Marie one bit.

For some reason, none of the guests whose years were already into the fifth decade seemed all that impressed with my attempt to appear their age. Especially as they stood dressed as if they were wearing outfits they had saved from high school or college thirty years earlier.

Obviously, I wasn’t quite as cute as I imagined myself to be.

Frankly, that fact hasn’t changed as much as it probably should have.

For the record, Cyndie tells me she was wearing one of her mother’s dresses from back in the day. I just thought she was trying to look fifty, too.

<*Ducking and running…*>



Written by johnwhays

September 5, 2018 at 6:00 am

Partly Smoky

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Cyndie and I drove up to the lake last night. It was a long day in a car for her, because she started the day yesterday up at the lake. She had gone up on Wednesday with Melissa and daughters, in an original plan to have me drive up to join them Thursday night, but that changed when a memorial for Charlie Weller was announced for Friday.

Charlie was the husband of Cyndie’s close high school friend, LuAnn (Miller). The revised plan had Cyndie riding home with Melissa and the girls yesterday afternoon, taking a moment to freshen up from beachwear to something more appropriate, driving us through afternoon traffic to Eden Prairie from our house, and then heading back to the lake from there, after paying our respects.

LuAnn and Charlie were dating in high school, not long after Cyndie and I had begun our relationship, so my memories of Charlie are wrapped in fragments of events that I haven’t thought about in decades. Even driving on roads in Eden Prairie, now approaching only six years distant from when I drove them almost every day, was feeling a little fractured.

I had to ask if we turned right or left at the intersection by the House of Kai restaurant to get to the funeral home.

In our haste to pull off this plan, we left out one pertinent aspect of determining the optimal route back to northwestern Wisconsin. I was tempted to try the old way we always drove when our kids were little and we regularly made the trip on back roads, but construction and traffic made the city portion an unwanted annoyance.

We paused for dinner at Jake’s to give traffic more time to thin out.

In the end, we chose to skirt the metro area on 494 and head up toward Stillwater to cross into Wisconsin on the new bridge. The resulting country roads we picked provided a rich reward of light traffic, gorgeous rolling hills and spectacular scenery.

We chuckled over the MPR radio weather forecast of “partly smoky” from the many fires burning out west, but when changing stations to our old favorite WOJB as we got far enough north, we heard the same phrase used again. Maybe it is an actual authorized weather service term.

It sure made an impact on the setting sun. It was looking dusky a lot earlier than the actual time of sunset. I held up my phone through the open top of Cyndie’s convertible at 7:52 p.m. and experimented with capturing it at 60 miles an hour.

Then I tried zooming in. It looked like a cartoon drawing of the sun.









The optics of my iPhone seem to have added special effects without my input. Yes, that’s the sun glowing through the smoky sky.

Between the funky looking sun, my grasping at recollections of interactions with LuAnn and Charlie back in the 1970s, and finally, unexpectedly stumbling upon a portion of our old back roads route, but from a different point, my mind was feeling partly smoky.

“We’ve been here before…”

Yes, we have.

And now we are up at the lake again this weekend.

Ahhhhh. I remember this.



Written by johnwhays

August 11, 2018 at 8:44 am

Sibling Dinner

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My Hays siblings don’t gather often, but whenever we are all able to be in one place at the same time, it’s a real treat. Last night, we met at Elliott and Wendy’s house in Richfield for dinner.

The weather was HOT and HUMID at the beginning of the evening, but just as the grill was getting ready for cooking, heavy rain began to fall and that cooled things off a little. Elliott braved the downpour, beneath his hanging umbrella over the grill, and prepared chicken and burgers. The rest of us were to bring the sides.

The delicious coleslaw and a spicy white corn concoction that Judy and Mary brought were dwarfed by the massive collection of desserts that they and Cyndie laid out on the table.

It ended up being a little dinner, and a LOT of dessert.

I particularly enjoyed some of the reminiscing about the different memories of mealtimes when we were young. I asked if there was pressure to clean our plates, because I don’t remember any, yet have always tended toward that behavior. Apparently, there was some history there. Mary recalled Auntie Kay was one source of that message.

I remember our father at mealtimes asking if there was a fire, or “Where’s the fire?” in the sideways manner of getting us to notice how fast we were eating. Elliott said that eating fast offered the best chance of getting any seconds.

It’s been a heck of a lot of years since we were all kids eating around the same table, but for a few minutes last night, I enjoyed a glimmer of some of those times with my brothers and sisters.

I feel very lucky to have such wonderful siblings.

What’s not to like? They remind me, in so many ways, of me.



Written by johnwhays

July 13, 2018 at 6:00 am

Leaky Tree

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I’m reporting from a remote location this morning, having stayed a night in the cities to attend an event honoring students and staff at the old alma mater. Instead of driving home, only to turn around in a few hours to drive back to work, I spent the night at Cyndie’s parents’ house in Edina.

It was a real treat to see some of the accomplishments of the present-day people at Eden Prairie public schools. That is where both Cyndie and I graduated from, as well as both of our children, and where Cyndie worked as high school principal for several years.

The number of young, new-to-me faces of staff being given special recognition by the Foundation for EP Schools last night was inspiring, yet caused me to become acutely aware my advanced age. The years of our involvement seem like a really long time ago now.

At the same time, a few of the music teachers present were the same people who taught our children, and they were excited to pass along greetings to their former students. So, I guess it wasn’t that long ago.

It’s all relative, isn’t it?

Cyndie sent me pictures and stories of the antics of Cayenne sneaking through one of our web fences, twice!, yesterday; the chickens came in the barn and totally ignored the cheep-cheeping chicks; and the chicks are another day happier and healthier.

She also captured this picture of an impressive dual-pronged sap-cicle on a branch of one of our young maple trees. I don’t know why this one is leaking at that spot, but there is no mistaking the fact that the sap is flowing strong.

Syruping season is here.

It may not feel like spring yet, but when the pure maple syrup starts getting boiled down around these parts, nice weather can’t be far off.

I’m feeling ready for some of both.



Written by johnwhays

March 22, 2018 at 6:00 am

Past Blast

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Yesterday, a co-worker pointed out that it reached 80° in March six years ago. I had no recollection whatsoever about what I was doing in March of 2012, but I pointed out that I have this handy-dandy online journal that allows me to easily check.

The blast from my past that appeared on my screen was very interesting to read, in relation to some of the current challenges and discussions Cyndie and I have been having lately regarding what lies in store for us and Wintervale Ranch.

I am moved to re-post what I wrote for March 29, 2012:

Dream Hesitation

What the heck do I know about owning a horse farm? With the brains of this organization off gallivanting around Boston right now, it is I, your humble correspondent, who am on the front line of decision making. Yesterday, we received the first batch of properties from the realtor we met with a month ago, and I noticed some things about the listings that triggered a little apprehension in me.

“Do we know what we want to spend?” she wrote. Um… no. Well, that’s not true. We would like to spend nothing, but I assume that is not going to bring the results we are hoping for.

Private sewer? This property has a private sewer. Oh, just what I always wanted, a sewer of my own.

One property had a lot of acreage, but within a flood plain. Do I want to open that box?

Then, there are all the improvements we did to our home of 25 years. Looking at this first list of potential properties, I see all the things we’ve already done here, needing to be done all over again. Oy. Siding, insulation, gas fireplace insert, gutters, windows, garage door and floor, new driveway, landscaping, kitchen remodel, bathroom upgrades. Did I mention siding?

And, of course, now we are going to have all the walls and ceilings here repaired, freshly painted, and new carpet installed! How many of you can see John deciding to stay here and rent a stall in a stable nearby for Cyndie to have a horse?

Cyndie is the true dreamer of our team. I’m just a tag-along. I fill in some of the creative blanks, but I also tend to drag in a bit more realism (read “pessimism”) than she wants to hear. I guess we are a good balance, eh?

It doesn’t feel right trying to do this without her around.

But, hey, don’t let me get you down. This is just a normal phase of my processing things. I’ll get over it. Seriously. And, Cyndie visits again in about 3-weeks. In just a few minutes of arriving, she’ll have me back up on our dream cloud and we’ll be designing our little paradise together as if it is what my whole life groomed me to be doing.

Meanwhile, maybe I should sneak out to visit the horses she tends to here, on my own, and just stand near them… see if I can hear what they have to say. I could use a dose of their wisdom.

. * . * . * . * . * . * .


It is so interesting for me to read that, especially the end. I had zero experience with horses at that time.

We did end up designing a little paradise together, and it has felt like what my life groomed me to be doing. At the same time, it feels jarring to read my pondering about staying put in our old house and renting a stall for keeping a horse when questions have been popping up recently about the viability of our current situation.

The past really does provide an interesting reference for the present.



Written by johnwhays

March 8, 2018 at 7:00 am


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Written by johnwhays

January 19, 2018 at 8:43 am