Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘relationship

Our Day

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A day after we celebrated Julian’s birthday with a family dinner at a Bloomington restaurant, Cyndie and I claimed yesterday for ourselves in honor of our 41st wedding anniversary. Our animal sitter, Grace, was on the calendar to free us up to do whatever we wanted. In the end, we both wanted to stay home and work on our property.

I am thrilled that our first accomplishment involved clearing small stumps, roots, and rocks in our north loop trail that have prevented me from being able to mow that section as low as desired for our walking trails. I’ve been wanting to take care of this nuisance issue for two summers.

In the afternoon, we focused our attention on the labyrinth. I brought down our new favorite tool, the electric push mower to give it a fresh cut.

We rearranged rocks and pulled weeds, addressing only a fraction of the total that is deserving of attention. The progress looks so good it has us both wanting to get back down there again soon to continue the beautification.

Just as we were about worn out for the day, we looked up to find the horses had wandered back to hang out in our proximity. That was all the invitation we needed to stop what we were doing to go hang out with them.

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Throughout the day we reminisced about our wedding day back in 1981, an outdoor service on a day with very similar weather to what we were enjoying yesterday. I remember the trees were starting to turn colors, similar to what is beginning to happen here this week.

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Written by johnwhays

September 20, 2022 at 6:00 am

Morning Scenery

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I got absolutely skunked by Cyndie in our rematch competition of CrossCrib yesterday. Four or five hands and I didn’t score a single point. In one case, she had 40 points before I counted my hand and the points in the crib. No contest from the get-go. I used to pride myself in defensive play but that ploy was entirely insufficient against her cards yesterday.

Cyndie also outdid me in capturing fabulous images of the early sunlight on a walk with Delilah while I exercised my world-class lethargy, staying in bed longer than I care to admit.

Wait. Did I just admit that?

Gorgeous.

It is my great honor to be given the privilege of featuring them on my blog.

Thank you, Cyndie! I’m happy to give up CrossCrib success against you forever if you will keep giving me access to your photo library. 🙂

As if I had any control in that.

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Written by johnwhays

August 28, 2022 at 9:35 am

Opposing Forces

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What triggered the thought in my head to ask, I do not know. My mild compulsion to seek order and repetition in my daily activities leads me to reset some things while often completely ignoring others. Really, the majority of my efforts for order are preemptive, enacted with the intent of easing future tasks.

One example of this is rinsing pans, dishes, and utensils instantly after use to avoid foods drying to the surface and becoming more difficult to clean later. Another version is clearing snow to a distance beyond the edges of the driveway or walkways to make it easier to clear future accumulations.

However, not all my impulses are entirely practical. This one is probably more aesthetic.

Recently, I noticed that I have repeatedly been adjusting the entryway rug inside our front door to pull it off the sill. I figured normal traffic or possibly an exuberant dog was causing the rug to slide up against the door, so I kept moving it back.

Then, for an unknown reason, I experienced a vivid moment of intuition that led me to ask Cyndie if she moves the front rug up against the door sill.

“Yes,” she said. “I do.”

Aha! We have been unknowingly operating at cross-purposes, doing battle back and forth with opposing intentions.

She was thinking about catching debris from dirty boots on the rug, so she surmised there should be no space between the rug and sill. I said we could just step onto the rug when we come inside.

Something in me senses the rug should be spaced away to avoid possible interference with opening the door.

Cyndie and I are very different in many ways, so it shouldn’t be all that surprising that we were working against each other in this regard, but it is always humorous to discover little details like this when we have been living together for over 40 years.

Our opposing forces may be part of our mutual attraction and balance the many ways we are alike. There is something to the adage that “opposites attract.” It’s rather magnetic, isn’t it?

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Just Me

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Starting today and lasting for a little over a week, it’s going to be just me managing the ranch as Cyndie is flying today to visit her mother in Florida. I’ve been through this solo routine many times but instead of that making it easier, I think the last few times have increasingly revealed how connected Cyndie and I have become at this point of our lives.

Throughout the last week, we have been watching the athletic Olympic performances available on NBC together. It won’t be the same all by myself. I have been frustrated over the number of events, especially hockey, we haven’t had access to that have been broadcast on USA network.

I will particularly miss her editing service for these blog posts. She continually provides helpful feedback on my writing that always makes my posts read better.

Tending to the animals is always half as much work when we share the duties. Now I only have Delilah to help me with the horses until Cyndie returns and what Delilah does down at the barn is never really all that helpful. Mostly, she starts barking a lot if she thinks the horses are misbehaving.

Delilah did a great job of alerting us about someone showing up at our front door yesterday. It was one of the local coyote hunters asking if they could cross our land during a hunt. I made sure to get his contact information this time, in case we have future evidence of the pests lurking on our land.

Surprisingly, Delilah didn’t get riled up over the sound of the hunting dogs cutting through our woods. Later, when I took her for an afternoon walk, she was very interested in all the new foot and paw prints in the snow. I heard a couple of gunshots while the hunt was active, but did not receive any word about whether they were successful or not.

It just eventually gets quiet, the pickup trucks disappear from the road, and the horses stop looking all spooked. At that point, I feel safe to take Delilah outside again.

Now it’s going to be quiet around the house for the next nine days.

Not that I’m counting.

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Written by johnwhays

February 14, 2022 at 7:00 am

Well Kept

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Keeping most things neat and tidy is one area where I am happy that Cyndie and I tend to agree. Overall, we strive to avoid allowing items to pile up around the property unnecessarily. If something can fit in the shop-garage, barn, or hay shed, it should get put away regularly. Brush piles should not exist indefinitely. That’s why we have a chipper!

Now if we would just get around to using it one of these days.

It’s interesting that we both independently agreed about allowing the knocked-over tree to remain in the paddock for a while after it fell. Likewise, that we each came to the same conclusion when it came time to remove it.

The old scratching post is now just a pile of cut-but-unsplit firewood.

While I was making the afternoon pass through the paddocks to scoop poop after serving up the horses’ feed pans yesterday, I felt a sense of satisfaction for the pristine confines we provide them. Cyndie and I are in firm agreement about regularly cleaning up manure from within the paddock fences.

We leave it where it lands out in the fields, but under the barn overhang and throughout the rest of the paddocks, we pick it up daily. It’s a way to reduce the throngs of flies that manure attracts but it also offers a level of respect to the horses that they get to live in a cleaner environment.

It makes the space more inviting for us to spend time communing with the herd there.

You know the old saying… cleanliness is totally loveliness!

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Written by johnwhays

September 28, 2021 at 6:00 am

Cheery Morning

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Neither Cyndie nor I are naturally fond of waking and getting out of bed in the morning. It tends to occur begrudgingly. I don’t view the occasion as being the opposite of not waking up at all, but rather of lingering in snoozeville and remaining snuggled beneath the warmth of our blankets and pillows. A much-preferred alternative.

Alas, pets demand and deserve timely attention first thing in the morning and Delilah must go out and the chickens want out of their coop for some breakfast.

This morning, against our everlasting preference, we both triumphed over the angst of getting up and entered into cheery histrionics while clumsily dressing and narrating and orating our comical foibles. I’ll just say, I’m not the one who has mistakenly ended up with bottoms on backward or inside out. I can’t claim that virtuosity with tops, however.

It was a beautiful day outside, reasonably mild in the hours preceding an expected bout of ice and snow on the way.

The chickens were all in fine form and very talkative while emerging from the coop to greet the day.

No sign whatsoever of sharing our hesitancy about greeting the day.

They continue to mature and are showing signs of dialing in the art of egg-laying. We received a 1-in-1000 double yolk the other day. By the looks of the size of the shell, that appeared to be an uncomfortable object to pass for a new layer.

Made for a doubly-delicious bullseye breakfast, however!

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Written by johnwhays

January 30, 2021 at 11:00 am

Big Think

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I’m not sure about the trick of living in the moment while trying to make big decisions that have the potential of dramatically changing the rest of my life, but that is the reality that simmers beneath my every minute lately. As Cyndie slips ever deeper into focusing her time on caring for her parents, decisions being contemplated have the potential of defining whether we will stay on this property or go.

There is a challenging balance in a committed relationship of cultivating what we want together as a couple while also honoring each of our individual desires. That would be made a little easier if we both definitively knew what it was we wanted the rest of our functional years to look like.

I had no idea that our empty-nest years would lead to the gorgeous property we found that became our Wintervale. The seed for this dream originated from a supernatural meld of both Cyndie’s and my interests and experiences, but I would not have arrived at this point without her energy driving most of the outcomes.

That same inclination has me leaning toward following her lead again as her focus has changed, despite my heart increasingly being gripped by the sanctuary of the forests and fields, and beautiful log home where we’ve been living for the last seven years. If I could figure out a way to afford it, I’d stay here even if she moved in with her parents –sighting the year we lived apart when she moved to Boston as a case study precedent– but that might be at odds with achieving our best long-term joint effort.

Neither of us knows how well our health will hold out, how climate catastrophes will impact the coming years, whether our meager retirement accounts will protect us from the next recession, or what future life events will demand our attention, but those unknowns are all lumped into our thinking as we consider the big “what next.”

I want to also include the simple joys of standing still in the woods and listening to the natural sounds that surround me. Breathing in the forest aromas and feeling the reality of temperature and precipitation against my skin. Walking over the rise in our open fields to feel the wind when it blows, or the stillness when it doesn’t.

At the same time, I’ve lived in town and know the conveniences associated. I would welcome the opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint and return to riding my bike more than driving my car.

I tell ya, living in the moment of planning the future is one heck of a big think.

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Written by johnwhays

January 12, 2020 at 8:57 am

Different Sense

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I suppose this is related to the concept of “opposites attracting,” but living with someone who perceives the world differently from you has a way of complicating otherwise straightforward coexistence. Several times in the last week, Cyndie’s and my dramatically different abilities to sense smells has been made vividly obvious.

She brought a horse blanket into the house to be mended the other day. When I stepped inside after a day of work, I immediately commented, “It smells like a barn in here!”

She didn’t notice it.

Friday night, she put a pork roast in the slow cooker before going to bed, to let it simmer while we slept. The longer it cooked, the more intense was the appetite-triggering aroma that filled our home. When my slumber was interrupted by a full bladder in the wee hours of the morning, getting back to sleep amid that incredible smell, was like trying to go to sleep while someone continuously knocks on your door.

I couldn’t do it. Cyndie barely sensed the aroma.

There are other differences –or opposites– that tend to have greater significance. The way we process grief, and the intensity with which we experience it, is a particularly hefty one of late. The horses aren’t even gone yet, but the mental anguish over rehoming them started way back when the idea of doing so was first brought up.

The torment over their departure is deeper than just coming to grips with them no longer being here, it delves into the original vision that brought us to this land in the first place.

The difference in the way Cyndie and I perceive this whole development, and the varying degrees of processing our personal grief over it, can make for a difficult… life together.

It would be great for me if I could just deal with all of this my way, but then I would miss out on life lessons that are the gift of living in relationship with another person.

Cyndie and I got to where we are today, together. We intend to get to where we are going next, the very same way.

We’ll discover it together, even though she doesn’t smell half the things I do.

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Another Anniversary

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It’s our thirty-seventh this year. I’ve been writing and posting daily on this blog for over nine years, and every time September 19 comes along, the topic of the day has acknowledged Cyndie’s and my wedding anniversary, and Julian’s birthday.

I have an annual habit on September 18th of navigating the “Previous Somethings” drop down feature in the right margin to pick the month of September, and then clicking on the day “19” to read each of my prior interpretations of the occasion. It’s a little repetitive, but at least the number of years changes in each post.

I’m not sure what the primary focus of a wedding anniversary is supposed to be. One obvious choice is the ceremony and all that was related to the events of the day.

Another logical area for consideration is the milestone of years. 2018 marks the accomplishment of our 37th year. Is the anniversary a time to review all that our relationship has enjoyed or endured over that period of time?

On that note, which gets more attention? The best of times or the obstacles hurdled?

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How about examining ways the relationship has changed over the span of time? I’m pretty sure we know each other better now than we did in the early years. Although, we continue to surprise each other and discover new insights as a function of the changes continually occurring in ourselves year after year.

I suppose the most popular detail deserving attention is a revisiting and rekindling of the romance that drew us together in the first place. I fear there may be a few laws of physics that tend to overrule best intentions in that realm.

As noted, Cyndie and I have an additional blessing to enhance our celebration of September 19th. This year it involves one of those round numbers that garners extra significance because it ends in zero.

Happy 30th Birthday, Julian!!

At this point in the father-son relationship, I’m thoroughly enjoying how much more like a brother you seem to me. I never imagined I would enjoy my children as adults as much as I do.

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Counting our many blessings today!

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Written by johnwhays

September 19, 2018 at 6:00 am

The Note

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In the fall of 1974, a group formed to attend an October session of Bill Gothard’s Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar at the Civic Center in downtown St. Paul. Cyndie was not only in the group, she offered to drive. It would be my second opportunity to spend time in her proximity and she was a powerful blip on my radar.

On the second to last night, after we pulled out of the parking ramp, a 3-ring binder that someone left on the roof of the car slid off, hit the road and burst into a cloud of pages. What a disaster.

Without wasting a second, Cyndie choreographed a controlled response where we pulled over safely, everyone jumped out (probably dangerously) and chased down pages. Shrieking and laughing, we saved every last page and made it back into the car without further incident.

We drove on as if nothing had happened.

It was such a combination of out-of-control chaos, yet at the same time, calm, controlled recovery, that I struggled to comprehend what I had just experienced. Cyndie didn’t show any sign of stress over the situation. I was captivated by the mastery of her response to the calamity.

I ended up in the passenger seat directly behind the driver in a station wagon packed with bodies. Suddenly, Cyndie’s arm swung around and the huge parcel she carried as a purse landed in my lap.

“Hold this while I drive.” I was instructed.

I’m not sure how I managed it in that car full of rowdy teenagers, but with little light and less space, I decided to write her a note to express how taken I was by her impressive handling of the event and the screaming car-full of panicked kids.

It was a little scrap of paper that I slid into that huge bag, wondering if it would ever be found.

Wanting to convey that I was falling madly in love with her, but not knowing her well enough to justify it, I remember ending it with the precautionary qualification.

“Too mushy?”

The following day, the last one of the seminar, I learned Cyndie did indeed find the note. She handed me an envelope filled with multiple handwritten pages in response.

We were sensing a similar vibe.

Sometime after that, we went on our first date. My mom dropped me off at Cyndie’s house and Cyndie drove us to the Southdale shopping mall. I was fifteen years old, she was sixteen.

Cyndie saved that note I slipped into her purse. Last time she pulled it out again to show me, I had a hard time reading it. I don’t know exactly what that was about. I’m probably just too old now to deal with the fifteen-year-old version of myself.

I’m so grateful that she was able to accurately interpret what I was trying to say that crazy night in the seat behind her in the car.

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Written by johnwhays

December 22, 2017 at 7:00 am