Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘pandemic

RS Interview

leave a comment »

Relative Something just landed a scoop interview with *the* John W. Hays delving into a variety of topics he was willing to discuss with us. Out of respect for his personal privacy, we are leaving out the questions he declined to answer. Here are some selected excerpts where we talked about the pandemic…

RS: How are you holding up under the stresses brought on by the coronavirus pandemic?

JWH: Hanging on by a thread? I say that as a question because, even though I am coping rather well, it feels a bit shaky much of the time. I am acutely aware of a diminished buffer between my sensible self and my flip-my-lid self as I go about my days. A total meltdown looms large on the fringes of every day. It’s just grace that has allowed me to keep from blowing a gasket over the simplest of foibles, like a napkin slipping from my lap or inadvertently catching my toe on a perfectly flat floor surface and suffering that universal “D’oh!” feeling.

RS: Have you heard of anyone in your immediate circle of friends and acquaintances who have tested positive for COVID-19 since the virus began impacting the United States?

JWH: Not at the closest level, despite several reported situations and symptoms that triggered reasons to be tested. None of those have become known positives that caused me concern about a need I should self-quarantine as a precaution. There have been some reports of second-person or third-person cases, and just recently dear friends in another part of the world who have the virus, so it doesn’t feel very far away from me. I still take my temperature every morning and log how I’m feeling on the COVID Near You site. So far, so lucky, is the way I interpret my days of being spared.

John & Mike socially distanced in the great outdoors, autumn forest bathing.

RS: Do you ever think about how the last seven months might have been different if there hadn’t been this global pandemic?

JWH: Maybe in a few fleeting retrospective moments, but really, that’s a luxury that serves no purpose. The harsh realities we are coping with every day leave little space in my head to go there. Equally, it has sapped much of my energy toward looking ahead to plan anything in the future. Despite my attempts to remain as positive as possible, I all too easily fall into a “what’s the point” despondency about making any plans until the virus is under control.
Luckily, I have Cyndie’s precious energies enriching my life with her willingness to make some things happen. With masks on our faces, we have achieved several socially distanced get-togethers with some key people who have helped to keep me from becoming a complete shut-in hermit on days I’m not at the day-job.

RS: Will the pandemic affect how you vote this year?

JWH: We already voted! So, no. For the previous election, Cyndie was going to be out of town, so she requested an absentee ballot. It was so flippin’ convenient that I ordered one for myself. It was a no-brainer for us to go that route again for this election, except, with the very noticeable disruptions in our Postal Service recently –including delaying the delivery of our chicks, which cost the life of one of them– Cyndie chose to drive to the home of our township clerk to hand-deliver our ballots.
I don’t know that they’ll be properly counted, but I’m satisfied that we did our part to get them there. We’ve been reciting a mantra of “Fifty-Blue-States” to envision a landslide so obvious that a certain person finally gets the message he has to accept the results. However, just last night it occurred to me that 50 blue states would be so unbelievable it would serve as a justifiable reason to question the results.
I just hope the popular vote is what determines the outcome and not an electoral college or the Supreme Court.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the Supreme Court could put an end to the pandemic? Declare the coronavirus unconstitutional!

RS: Hard to object to that.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

October 15, 2020 at 6:00 am

File Transfered

with 5 comments

Without further delay, I now present the first recorded audio of one of Rocky’s early crowing practices:

.

.

Cyndie reported that this was his third of three calls he made on Tuesday morning.

You gotta agree, that sounds pretty cute, eh?

It’s going to be interesting getting used to having a rooster for the first time. Seems like not a day goes by that we don’t learn something new living in the country.

Yesterday, Cyndie reported that she hand-delivered our completed ballots for the November election to our town clerk at her home. We have successfully voted! Glad to have that civic duty completed early. In so doing, Cyndie met our town clerk for the first time. It’s only been 8-years since we moved here.

I guess it could be seen in a good light that we haven’t had much need to be interacting with local officials for any reasons.

With the pandemic looming large throughout the entire summer, we have seen very little of any nearby neighbors.

Wintervale Ranch may not be receiving a lot of visitors lately but soon the neighbors will be hearing a lot of crowing coming from our little patch of paradise.

I look forward to learning what winter has in store for us. I suspect many hours will be spent sheltering in place.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

October 1, 2020 at 6:00 am

Final Rest

with 4 comments

Under the wearisome pall of constraints in place due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Cyndie’s family orchestrated a laudable graveside service for a small number of family and friends to say final goodbyes to her dad, Fred Friswold, under a mostly cloudy but otherwise dry Saturday. Masks were required and reasonable social distancing requested for the limited 30-minute window of time allowed by Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis.

We were instructed to arrive at a precise time and remain in our cars until ushered in a parade of vehicles to the gravesite.

The Friswolds have a family plot where Cyndie’s grandparents, her aunt, and her sister have now been joined by her father’s ashes.

In an unfortunate but inconsequential oversight, the canopy ordered to protect from possible rain was missing. The threat of precipitation waned as the appointed hour drew near and by the time we stood as a scattered group to hear various readings and prayers, there were a couple of brief openings in the clouds that revealed blue sky and bathed us in sunshine.

A flock of wild turkeys idly wandered past as if we weren’t there.

Masks served to catch many tears.

From the cemetery, we all drove to the University of Minnesota where the staff of the McNamara Alumni Center –the building Fred and two alumni buddies were instrumental in shepherding to existence– provided a pandemic-constrained space for a meal and program.

It was a day for which I’m confident Fred would approve, partially because only a fraction of the people who would have gushed over his greatness were able to be present so to do.

He touched a lot of people’s lives and impacted exponentially more who never knew him.

I appreciated hearing three different perspectives from people in his world of financial guidance to the YMCA and U of M, as they revealed to me how little first-hand exposure I had to anything but his home and family life.

Fred died in June from a cancer diagnosed the previous December which only compounded preexisting heart and lung ailments. He was clear-minded and fully aware right to the end. In the months since he died, the new reality of his being gone from us was settling in. Yesterday’s events have served to punctuate anew the depths of how much he is missed.

It’s a shame the end of life celebrations are so difficult to hold during a pandemic.

Cyndie’s family did a fine job of achieving all they possibly could under the circumstances.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

September 13, 2020 at 9:06 am

Proximity

leave a comment »

.

I remember when we used to hug
and shake hands
even though I can’t remember
the last time I did either

despite the best hopes
for some version of successfully eating out
it is getting harder
to visualize how restauranting
will ever again work for all participants
in some new form of normal

all from that invisible virus
that kills more people
than morgues have space for
while unknown numbers
present no symptoms at all

and we can’t tell who has it
from who already may have had it
from who will get it next
and masks scare some folks
while angering way too many others

and the earth doesn’t seem to notice
people are pandemic-ing to and fro
as it unleashes new hurricanes
fires, and tornado
and fire-tornados
as if everything was still normal

I remember when we didn’t worry
about shaking hands and giving hugs
but I really struggle trying to remember
what it was like
to be unconcerned about proximity
to everyone else

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 18, 2020 at 6:00 am

Just Everything

with 4 comments

What really gets to me is this: everything! I mean, one minute the threat du jour is murder hornets and the next it’s not. Really. Are they a thing, or not? Can someone just make up their minds on this?

Oh, let’s start playing professional sports games again, except for the teams with too many players testing positive for coronavirus. They can go on quarantine. Those who play can just be careful and take appropriate precautions, except for the baseball teams that opt to do a bench-clearing brawl.

Have you sneezed into your facemask yet? Lovely. Just lovely.

Whatever happened to ethics commissions? Are they still a thing? I heard some politicians don’t even release their tax returns anymore so the public has no idea where financial improprieties may be happening. I guess nothing matters anymore. We can all do whatever we want. Except if you are black, or poor, or an immigrant or your mere presence causes discomfort to small-minded people who have one specific narrow view of how the world should conform to their perceptions.

It’s no wonder this video his so perfect for everything we are facing this year.

How’d that distance learning go for you last spring? It’s a good thing the schools will have a back-to-school plan all worked out by fall so parents don’t have to worry about …everything associated with having school-aged children during a pandemic.

For that matter, everyone should spend a little time with Julie Nolke and her explanation to herself about the pandemic. It’s only been viewed almost 12 million times since April.

I admit I’ve watched it over and over. How does she perform this scene so convincingly? Probably just riffing off the other actor.

Why do white supremacists get so angry when they see BLM protests? Can’t they just feel sorry for other people who disagree with their racism? I mean, if they truly are superior, can’t they just pity the rest of us?

I tend to feel sad and maybe a notion of pity for people who profess their allegiance to hate groups.

In contrast to that, I am feeling a certain sense of outrage over the systemic strangling of our US Postal Services and the abrupt mid-pandemic rerouting of coronavirus data reporting away from the CDC to a private technology firm. It happens right in front of everyone’s noses. A few news stories mention the audaciousness of the questionable actions, but that’s about it. Oh well. That happened.

Why do there never seem to be any consequences for the craziness that flies at us faster than we can drink it all in?

Maybe in the end we will discover the antidote for coronavirus IS the murder hornets.

I want to write a song like the one above that elementary music teacher, Liz of makeshift.macaroni  did.

About everything.

.

.

Mixed Mind

with 4 comments

It’s a battle to maintain a positive, hopeful outlook amid a pandemic that our government has failed to effectively manage, which has our economy teetering on the brink of collapse. Meanwhile, Cyndie’s garden extravaganza can be described as nothing but a bountiful success and our new brood of rambunctious chicks inspire visions of a wonderful future.

My mood of the moment has been swinging wildly between hope and despair.

Federal secret police snatching protesters in Portland? The White House disrupting coronavirus reporting to the CDC? What is our government up to and why does there seem to be no way to enact checks and balances that once protected our democracy? Why is it that the current President has been allowed to keep his financial interests secret all this time?

Last night we lucked out once again in the stormy weather lottery. We were spared even a hint of destructive wind in the moments after warnings and radar images indicated a tornado was headed in our direction. We have yet to hear any reports of whether the vicinity around us was impacted negatively.

I can report the lightning bolts flashing dramatically in the clouds overhead were more frequent and numerous than I have ever witnessed before in my life. The constant rumble of distant thunder never once appeared to match the immediate flashes occurring directly above our location which baffled my understanding of the way things work.

I cannot fathom what actual energy was at play to generate such a dazzling display of countless electrical arcing bolts without the usual accompanying impacts of typical thunder. Just one night prior, we suffered two BOOM!s of thunder that scared me into a clench of inadvertent reaction that lasted three times as long as the explosion of thunder itself. The worst of those incidents surely was one that struck somewhere close enough that light and sound were simultaneous.

I can’t say for sure because I was attempting to be asleep at the time.

The warming of our planet assuredly is unleashing greater intensity of local storms, but each time we escape unscathed I feel a moment of hope that our destruction is not imminent. Tornadoes can be devastating, but they can also be relatively precise as to the areas of impact.

That is a little like deciding to raise free-range chickens in an area that includes foxes, coyotes, possums, skunks, feral cats, occasional passing mountain lions, neighboring dogs, and marauding raccoons.

It mixes my mind.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

July 19, 2020 at 9:57 am

Stinky Year

with 2 comments

Look at it this way, today it is the fifteenth day of July, so we are halfway through the month that comes after the midpoint of the year 2020. All this whining about 2020 being so problematic will be over before you know it. We can stop wondering about what the next calamity could possibly be and start marveling over how we got this far without throwing in the towel.

Unless you happen to have school-age children, that is, and have no idea how to cope with more distance learning in the fall. Or if you got sick with the coronavirus. Or you are out of work due to the pandemic. Or lost your medical insurance because you no longer have a job. Or you can’t pay your bills because you didn’t qualify for financial assistance.

In the wee hours before waking yesterday, I experienced the most vivid dream where I found myself in the midst of my high school classmates in something of a reunion gathering. I am curious about what threw my mind into that reconnection with my school days. In classic dream fashion, by daylight, I lost the gist of what I was thinking and feeling about the situation while the dream was underway, but was left with the vague pleasure of having been among peers I haven’t seen lately.

Maybe it’s a mental defense mechanism for escaping the shelter-in-place mindset of the pandemic.

Cyndie has been up at the lake for the last two days and she took Delilah with her. It has been refreshingly calm at home on my own after the day-job. The cat and the chickens don’t ask for much from me, so it has felt like a little vacation.

Of course, the pesky wildlife hasn’t taken any time off. For two nights in a row, I found our kitchen compost bin had been abused and separate access panels forced open so they could ravage the rotting goods. Last night, I wrapped it with a ratcheted tie-down strap to secure the doors from opening.

Let’s see the little raccoon claws loosen a ratchet mechanism.

Yesterday morning on the drive to work, a young-looking fox trotted across the road just around the corner from our property. Luckily for us, that enemy-of-hens was headed in the direction of a neighboring property where egg-layers roam freely.

Later, as my car approached a fresh road-kill, I centered my tires to miss the mess and held my breath. Before I even started to resume breathing, I felt the acrid fumes in my nostrils. I was afraid to inhale, but I had to.

Fresh skunk. Reeeally fresh. Ow.

At least 2020 is over halfway to the history books. The whole year seems to have a general stink to it.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

July 15, 2020 at 6:00 am

Just Love

with 4 comments

Certainly, there could be worse things to keep coming back to, but my mind has begun to develop a healthy habit of naturally settling on thoughts about sending and receiving LOVE amid the swirl of good and bad circumstances that wash over us with unrelenting regularity.

We learned last night of an unexpected death among our extended family, all too close to the time of Cyndie’s dad’s passing that has everyone already raw with grief. The increasing infection rate of the coronavirus pandemic is pressing firmly against the frustrations of being locked down for months and disrupting dreams of resuming some previous activity.

Plans for the fall are far from settled as to whether schools will be able to open safely and entertainment venues will figure out a way to host events.

It is almost becoming a physically painful thing to not be able to hug people, on top of the ever-awkward absence of a genuine handshake.

Still, we are showered with ongoing blessings that become more precious with each pause for acknowledgment. The gestures of condolence that have arrived in the last two weeks have warmed our hearts.

Last Sunday, Cyndie and I worked on preparing the brooder for the anticipated arrival of 12 new day-old chicks this month. As hard as the loss of birds is on my tender wife, she couldn’t stop herself from ordering more. New life is coming to Wintervale again!

Summer is in full swing in all its glory around our land, regardless of the recent loss of some big trees. We’re preparing to host travelers we’ve not met before from my virtual community, Brainstorms, in the days ahead. We offered a free parking spot for their small RV on their trek home that is taking them right past our neighborhood on the interstate.

I keep imagining how pleasant it would be if the news media took several days off from mentioning anything a certain person says or does and simply focused on news that matters without any distractions or fabricated drama. I do struggle to muster enough love to offset the disturbance that rolls out of the nation’s capital like the irritation of a lingering dead skunk smell.

The high heat and excessively oppressive tropical dewpoint temperatures are hanging around lately even longer than skunk odors, which is definitely exacerbating the angst of those who lack artificial cooling in their homes.

There is good and bad roiling around in a weird mix. What can we do to cope effectively but love?

Just love.

It sure can’t hurt to try.

.

.

— special love goes out to Carlos today for his sorrow and loss —

.

.

Written by johnwhays

July 8, 2020 at 6:00 am

Many Feels

leave a comment »

Time moves fast and time moves slowly even though it is always moving at the same pace. Our feelings are doing the same in the days immediately following Fred’s passing. Grief processes slowly, but comes on fast and furious in waves. Luckily, laughter comes just as fast. The Friswold family has plenty of laughs. In fact, I would say they are predominantly laughs.

Cyndie and I have been sleeping at her parent’s house –I hesitated writing that, avoiding the change to referring to it as her “mom’s house”– along with Barry and Carlos. Other immediate family have been showing up throughout each day and we have enjoyed the trials and tribulations of crying and laughing our way through the essential steps of what all families face after a death.

Hugging. If only we could hug all the precious people who have been stopping by with gracious gifts of sustenance and well-wishes, and more importantly, the shared sorrow of loss at the thought of no longer being able to hear Fred laugh again.

Curses to the coronavirus.

I truly hope we will be spared the tragedy of inadvertently experiencing a rash of COVID-19 spread among any of us in our moments of weakness when we give in to our emotions and reach out to touch each other, be it ever so briefly.

We’ve got the obituary figured out and submitted to run in Sunday’s Startribune newspaper and been in communication with the reporter who is also writing a feature remembrance.

Much energy is underway to populate a specific website we have created for Fred. See Fred Friswold Memorial.

Planning some manner of memorial service or celebration of life is proving maddeningly difficult under the current health constraints of the pandemic.

So many feelings all at the same time. Very happy-sad.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 27, 2020 at 11:10 am

Return Appearance

with 6 comments

It is challenging to chronicle the uncertain timing of the otherwise inevitable end of the life of a family member. In-person, a question often lingers over whether the latest departure salutation might actually be the last goodbye. Cyndie and her brothers have been rotating days of tending to their father in his hospice-care phase of life for several months. The task is now being transferred to professionals at a nearby hospice facility, unfortunately, under the current constraints of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

It appears we have reached timing now measured in a matter of days, possibly even hours.

A hospice facility is a precious place. I had a great experience at a home where my mother spent her final days and our family was able to gather around her. It breaks my heart that we will be unable to do that for Cyndie’s dad. Visitation is very limited to protect everyone from the coronavirus.

I scanned some of my past “Words on Images” posts to see if something might grab me in this moment and chose “Appearance” from just about a year ago.

.

.

.

Sending F.R.F. to a higher plane with beams of love and peacefulness…

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 24, 2020 at 6:00 am