Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘memory

Time Ravaged

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More than I can remember in my lifetime, we have been cycling above and below the freezing point this winter, taxing everything exposed to the extremes. As I’ve written many times before, everything moves, including what is often referred to as “solid ground.”

Terra firma is not so firm a.

This is the current state of a base I installed for an outdoor sink on the backside of the barn.

It used to be level.

In some places, the ground sinks. In others, it rises up. And it changes back and forth about as often as the freezing and thawing cycle is playing out. Of course, the base in the image above never happens to return to level. Oh, no.

I have no idea what happened in our pile of limestone screenings. It looks a little like maybe it regurgitated all over itself.

A while back, Cyndie posted a bunch of our furniture for sale on the local neighborhood app. Quite a lot of furniture, actually. The app offered a suggestion that she could also post it on another app to be seen by more than just our neighbors. All it took was the push of a button. So she did.

Soon we had people from far and wide contacting us to ask if everything was okay. Why was she unloading all this furniture?

It’s nice to know concerned friends will check on us if we start showing signs of distress.

The reason Cyndie is looking to jettison our old furniture is that her mother is moving from the family home of many years into a smaller unit in a senior living community. We will be taking some of the precious furnishings that didn’t make the cut for her mom’s new home.

In preparation, we have already started to move things around in our house. We took possession of the old flat-screen TV that had been in her mom’s basement and put it up in our loft, replacing the smaller one we’ve had since it was our main television mounted on the wall in our Eden Prairie home.

Here in Beldenville, the old television was in a stand on a table. In a classic domino effect of one change leading to another, we decided to relocate that TV to the bedroom to replace a smaller one in that room. There, it will be able to be mounted on the wall again. That means I needed to find the old wall mount bracket.

I didn’t know if we’d even kept it, but Cyndie remembered seeing it on the top shelf in our storage room. With her direction, I found two of the three primary pieces. The ravages of time have taken a toll on my memory and I couldn’t recall if we’d detached the base plate from the wall when we moved out of the old house.

I actually started researching online to see if I could replace just the base plate before one last double-check in the storage room, where I was actually checking old packaging for information on the name of the wall mount manufacturer. That’s when I spotted a tiny corner of the base plate on a different shelf.

As far as I can tell, we actually do have everything needed to proceed.



Written by johnwhays

March 9, 2022 at 7:00 am

Exercising Memory

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My memories are fading, but as I revisit many of them, the details I review slowly grow more memorable and probably less accurate with each iteration.

I remember what my life was like before my eyesight declined to the point of needing glasses to see with functional clarity. Those memories often arise in response to needing to clean my glasses in the present day.

I remember how free life was before the coronavirus pandemic.

I remember when there were no personal computers.

I remember getting my first mobile phone when my workplace at the time made them available to all employees for personal use.

I remember how awkward it always felt to walk alone in front of the entire length of the high school bleachers on the way to get a bag of popcorn from the concession counter.

I remember how much I liked the popcorn purchased at those basketball games in the high school.

I remember using our basement for a kitchen in our Eden Prairie house while we were having the upstairs remodeled.

I remember putting a vinyl Crosby, Stills, & Nash record on the old hi-fi phonograph with the sliding glass woodgrain top panels when it was in the closet of my boyhood bedroom and then laying on my bed to listen until I fell asleep.

I remember when the impacts of the greenhouse effect on our planet were hardly noticeable and mainly the subject of scientific predictions.

I remember when we first set foot on the property we eventually purchased in Beldenville, Wisconsin. I will always remember walking one of the trails near the house and coming upon the gnarly oak tree that remains the most prominent.

I remember when the sky turned a deeper blue during the two times when air traffic was greatly reduced: After the September 11 attacks and when the pandemic lockdowns stopped almost all travel around the globe.

I remember the morning I called our health clinic to ask to be seen in my first step of treating my depression.

I remember how moved I felt after learning about the extent of hidden added sugars in processed foods that occurred with increasing frequency throughout my lifetime.

I remember tying one of my deceased mother’s handkerchiefs to a branch as a prayer flag in the Himalayan mountains around the highest elevation I achieved during the trek I did in 2009.

I remember my son inspiring me to start a blog to chronicle the trek I would be doing.

I remember learning I was an asthma sufferer during my physical that was required by the adventure travel company before the trip began.

I remember waking up stressed from breathing the smoke that had leaked from the woodstove all night when we slept in the lodge of the Sherpa sirdar guiding our trek.

What I can’t remember is any reason I started this exercise and whether or not I had a point in mind. Having a point would have come in handy when it came to reaching a conclusion.

This reminds me of how often I find myself laboring to come up with a closing line for daily blog posts.

Sometimes, I just want to “Say goodnight, Gracie.”



Written by johnwhays

August 12, 2021 at 6:00 am


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I don’t tend to notice
how the shadow
plays across my face
but I remember
the girl I spent time with
back in 1972
I’ve asked my favorite music
to tell me what I want to know
about the messages
I always missed
there’s a sadness
mixed within the gladness
for everyone we’ve kissed
and the light of every fading sunset
offers a salty sweetness
we can taste upon our lips
fragments of stories
unravel with frayed threads
and if you pictured me again
posing in the great outdoors
would I be dancing in the snow
or surrounded by leaves of green
under bright blue skies
or shades of cloudy gray
and would you happen to notice
the shadow
across the side of my face




Written by johnwhays

July 21, 2021 at 6:00 am

Depth Perception

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Whether it’s a movie or a particular song, or sometimes a tragedy reported on the news, messages with impact can hit us in the gut. I watched a program last night that touched a personal nerve in its depiction of a powerful memory I have about my experience of depression. It involves the illogical behavior of pushing someone away when what you actually want is just the opposite.

I would shun connection when all I wanted was to be connected. It’s dysfunctional, to say the least.

The healthy alternative to that involves reaching an authenticity that brings behavior and desires into renewed alignment. Say what you mean, mean what you say, then act that way.

It is a function of becoming perceptive to the full depth of what we are truly feeling. Learning to be entirely honest with ourselves and observant enough to direct our thoughts toward a healthy interpretation of reality.

There is also a valuable component of becoming aware to avoid fabricating perceptions that lack any evidence of truth. Don’t make shit up.

I am happy to proclaim the incalculable reward of profound joy and blessed peace of mind available to a person who learns how to treat their depression and do away with dysfunctional thinking. I owe a debt of gratitude to the medical community that contributed to my recovery over two decades ago.

Yesterday, Cyndie discovered the depth of our chickens’ disdain for carrots after tossing them some mixed vegetable leftovers.

A little while later there wasn’t a single scrap of anything other than carrots remaining. I suppose the overnight scrounging critters will be happy to clean up after them.

We’ve noticed that the processed chicken feed we put out gets passed over by pretty much all the wild birds along with our chickens in favor of anything else we make available. The chickens LOVE the cracked corn and mealworm snacks, so there is never any of that left lying around, but leftover or spilled chicken feed even gets passed over by the overnight scavengers like raccoons, stray cats, possums, and a fox that have shown up on the trail cam.

I had no idea they would have such a discerning palate.

I should give them more credit for the depth of their perceptions.



Completely Forgot

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My poor brain can’t keep up. I expect it must be dropping old information out the back each time I try to stash something new in the front. I was just blessed with an opportunity to discover that I had forgotten entirely about a very valuable lesson learned through experience. I even blogged about it at the time for good measure. Granted, this was from 5-and-a-half years ago, but still…

In a humorous message exchange yesterday with my friend, Rich Gordon, I thought he had me mistaken for someone else. He had asked “What’s the best stuff to use to lubricate my garage door springs? I saw you had a repairman over recently.”

No. No, I haven’t had anyone here recently. I guessed that he had me confused with someone else. My response was to answer with a smartass quip in jest, figuring he would notice he meant that for someone else.

When he came back to ask in all seriousness, we discovered the miscue. Rich questioned his sanity for thinking he had just read about this in my blog and that triggered my scouring the “Previous Somethings” archive for the time our door spring broke. I confirmed that I did write about it, just not recently.

I’m guessing the old post from November of 2014 probably showed up as an auto-generated link of similar post suggestions that Rich inadvertently clicked without realizing he was delving so far into the archives.

As I reread my old writing, I was embarrassed to see I had clearly pointed out the need to lubricate the garage door spring, but soon after, I completely forgot anything about it. Out of sight, out of mind, even though I use our garage doors almost every day.

The icing on the cake of this whole memory failure appeared in the comments under that original post. Way back then, Rich and I already had this same discussion about what to use for lubricating the spring.

Guess what just moved up near the top of my home maintenance “to-do” list?

Garage door springs are not something that should be included in the category of “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” chores. Somehow, I spaced this one out entirely. It’s nice to have gotten a laugh out of it, but there’s an element of nervous laughter threaded through it. The power of those springs and the amount of weight they are counter-balancing is not something to be trifled with.

Now, if I could somehow figure out what important detail just dropped from my memory after bringing the door spring back to the front, that would be just great.



Living History

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With the onset of this current global COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting financial repercussions underway, it is becoming obvious the incidents and impacts of these days will be noted in historical records for future reference. What is it like to live through national or global newsmaking events as they are happening?

I don’t really know.

And I’ve lived through plenty of them.

Life just seems to go on. People who don’t lose their lives or family members and friends find ways to adjust to temporary impacts on normal routines and employ a wide range of coping mechanisms to get on with doing whatever needs to be done. In the moments, it often doesn’t seem quite so historic on the personal level. It’s the collective impact of large segments of a population and the subsequent mass media accounting of details that tend to provide a bigger significance to things.

Even with that, being alive during historic circumstances never seems to feel as significant in the moment for me as I expect it should.

In my life, the impacts of newsworthy events haven’t been particularly acute. They are often shocking, such as the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster or the terrorist attacks against the United States in September of 2001, but none completely life-altering. Even for Cyndie, who was flying frequently in 2001, the change to her routine was short-lived with respect to the immediate grounding of flights for a time and then only minorly impacted after flights resumed.

I remember the 1973 siege of Wounded Knee by followers of the American Indian Movement and feeling like it was a significant event at the time, but it was really just a story on the news from where I lived.

As the 444 days of the Iran hostage crisis played out between 1979-1981, it felt awful to carry on with my activities as if nothing was amiss, but there really was no noticeable impact on my life beyond seeing a lot of yellow ribbons tied around trees in symbolic support of the hostages.

In 2008, there was what is now referred to as “the Great Recession” which just might end up comparing to the current financial “correction” in the markets. It’s possible we are about to experience the recession of 2020. Maybe it won’t be as “great.” I somehow plodded through the years surrounding the Great Recession with minor suffering. My net worth wasn’t so large that I had all that much value to lose and we were lucky enough to be in a position that our homeownership wasn’t threatened.

Somewhere in my collection of family history, I have the original “Quarantine” sign that was attached to my father’s home when he was [I believe] 12-years-old and contracted polio. That seems like a significant event for my father and his family, yet I don’t recall him ever mentioning it. The amount of subsequent paralysis he experienced from that was virtually imperceptible. Without my mother having mentioned it and giving me the sign the family had saved from his door, I wouldn’t have known.

I don’t really know what it’s like to live through historic events, even though that’s what I’m doing right now.

Maybe it’s simply like living the life that I’m living.



Written by johnwhays

March 10, 2020 at 6:00 am


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would you do me a favor
and loan me that smile
for as long as I can remember it
deep into the darkness
of hours and days
away from the laughter
that lights up your eyes
when we are happy
and in love
stupendously in love
but more importantly just





Written by johnwhays

October 9, 2019 at 6:00 am

More Boards

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Are you sick of reading about our deck yet? I’m afraid this do-it-yourself project isn’t one we can conquer quickly, so the subject drags on. Yesterday’s weather allowed us to get back out there and drive a few more screws, but working in short stints like this will result in the end achievement coming in weeks instead of days.

Today I’m back commuting to the day-job, so decking is on hold for a while.

Yesterday, Cyndie and I ran into a few hiccups that kept our progress from soaring ahead into brag-worthy results, but we are both perfectly satisfied with what we accomplished in the time we were able to be out there.

On the plus side, the battery charger that seemed like it wasn’t working on Friday lit up yesterday with a perfect flashing green LED. I don’t know what made the difference, but my drill driver was very happy to have two chargers feeding its batteries again.

The biggest hassle was losing one of the three spacer boards we had been using. It suddenly disappeared and despite searching for too long, there was no sign of it anywhere. I finally gave in and we walked to the shop garage to hunt for another spacer.

Fifteen minutes later, after dropping yet another spacer under the deck, Cyndie found the first one we had lost was hung up down there behind a joist.

At least that made sense for where it had disappeared to because I was starting to worry I had absentmindedly set it down somewhere when I stepped inside the house or thrown it down on the pile of old rotten boards without realizing it.

I have forgotten enough things lately that this seemed like it could too easily have been another lapse by my feeble mind.

Since that wasn’t the case, I’m giving myself a clean slate and ready to assume my memory is sound.

My body, on the other hand, will be happy to have a break from the weekend of hard labor. Now it’s back to trying to stay alert on the long commutes to and from work for a few days.

Instead of focusing on more boards, I will be managing becoming more bored with the hours of driving.



Written by johnwhays

October 7, 2019 at 6:00 am

Mental Mixups

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I’m not sure how a person can know when they are actually at the top of their game, but I have a pretty good idea when I’m not achieving peak performance out of my mind. The shortcomings have come in series for me lately in a repeating pattern that is becoming difficult to miss.

Although, missing things is one of the shortcomings I am noticing. The thing with that is, it makes me suddenly wonder if there are other things I missed when individual errors pop up. It gets my mind all mixed up.

Is any of this related to the song stuck in my head since Sunday morning? While making breakfast that morning, I heard Kris Kristofferson’s version of “Me and Bobby McGee.” Later in the afternoon, while I was mowing the lawn, it was Janis Joplin’s voice “ear-worming” over and over in my mind.


Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose…


I found it interesting that my mind jumped to Janis’ version, but not that surprising. It’s the one I’ve heard the most. What seems odd to me is how long it has hung around.


I’d trade all my tomorrows for one single yesterday…


Then my poor brain got stretched into next year. Did you know 2020 is a leap year and Christmas will be on a Friday?

(Just to emphasize my point, while writing that, I asked Cyndie if she knew 2020 is a leap year. She said, “You already asked me that an hour ago.”)

One of my challenges with the day-job is the need to function far from the immediate moments and plan the future. Yesterday I was forced to print out a calendar for 2020 to assign dates into January. No wonder my mind gets mixed up.

It’s a wonder I ever know what day it is.

On the way home from work yesterday, I forgot to get gas in the car.

I sure hope I haven’t forgotten anything else important this week.




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Words on Images




Written by johnwhays

August 13, 2019 at 6:00 am