Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘relationships

Like Ships

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It’s funny how it can feel like I’m in a relationship with another vehicle on the drive home from the lake when it travels the same speed and direction as I am going. When they finally went straight through a roundabout that I turned south from, I felt as if I should send them off with some acknowledgment of the road miles we shared.

I arrived home yesterday around 11:00 a.m. and watched Cyndie prepare for a trip of her own. She left for a seminar in California, so I am on my own this week. We are like ships passing in the night lately.

Or, like cars on a drive home from the lake.

When she returns home at the end of the week, the plan is for us to head back up to the lake for the weekend. That will make three weeks in a row that I have been up there. I can’t remember the last time that happened.

It’s a treat, for sure, but it does require that I do the lawn mowing after work in the middle of the week and interferes with ever getting back to the lumberjack projects that linger in our woods unfinished. Small concerns, both of them, compared to the glorious beauty we get to enjoy up in the Hayward area.

I have a sense that a day is going to come when I will be facing long hours of labor with a chainsaw this fall. Too bad the hours of daylight get shorter as summer wanes. But, it’s the summer sunshine that is giving us all the more reason to be up on the water while the going is good.

You could say, the lumberjack projects and my attention to them are a little like ships passing in the night.

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Written by johnwhays

August 5, 2019 at 6:00 am

Zooming In

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You know me, I like to make full-framed photo art on occasion by zooming in on certain features. Here are three I captured on Saturday up at the lake.

We enjoyed some fabulously accommodating weather over the weekend, which came to a dramatic end just as we arrived back home to a powerful downburst of wind and rain. A tornado warning was issued for that very storm cell in the moments after it moved past us to the northeast. Thank goodness it didn’t form any sooner. As of this writing, I haven’t heard any damage reports from neighboring properties further along the path.

If I were to zoom in a little bit on our immediate family, it might reveal some exciting news that was shared at dinnertime on Saturday night. Julian and Allison announced they are now husband and wife. It wasn’t entirely spur of the moment since the couple, who have been together for seven years, applied for a license in advance and prescheduled an appointment with a judicial officiant, but the result is equally surprising for those of us who love them.

The deed was done Tuesday and they went to work like usual the following day.

Ain’t love grand!?

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Written by johnwhays

July 29, 2019 at 6:00 am

Latest Observations

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Okay, I admit it. I am officially getting old. In the good ol’ days, my lovely wife luxuriated in the summer heat while I sweltered. We rarely turned the air conditioner on, preferring to let all but the most humid of summer days fill our living quarters for her comfort.

It’s no longer like that today.

I walked in the door yesterday and immediately sensed she had turned the air conditioner on again, after we had opened up the house on Sunday night. It was cold enough for me that I needed to put on long sleeves.

I am now the one who gets cold while Cyndie is too warm.

It reminds me of the decorative flowers Cyndie planted around the grounds. The petunias appear to be perfectly happy, but the marigolds haven’t changed since they were put in our soil. Maybe the marigolds were old.

Or maybe it’s just been too cold for them.

Last weekend was basically our first real heat of the summer. Progress for many of the growing plants around here is looking rather stunted, now that I think about it.

The old saying, “knee high by the fourth of July” is just not happening this year. Fields that did get planted are all maturing just about as fast as Cyndie’s marigolds.

Our wild raspberry bushes looked like they weren’t going to bear fruit at all until just recently. I haven’t seen it for myself yet, but Cyndie says they are just starting to blossom with hints that there might be a lot of berries. I love her optimism, but I fear the amount and size of berries are more likely to be less than impressive, given the stunted growing conditions.

Maybe I’m not getting old. It’s probably just the type of weather we’ve been having.

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Written by johnwhays

July 2, 2019 at 6:00 am

Sad Laughter

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It wasn’t funny, but we found ourselves laughing over the absurdity. I feel a need to rationalize this tale of Cyndie’s-and-my-collective-failure, with more detail than is probably necessary. For those who prefer a “too-long; didn’t read” synopsis: Cyndie sold our ATV trailer, but I had no intention of letting it go.

The confusion between us goes back in two phases: to last year, when I sold our old lawn tractor, and to our current “passing in the night” level of connection lately.

I will give her credit for remembering that there was a trailer I told her we didn’t need anymore. That would have been last fall, when I sold it, along with the old Craftsman lawn tractor. Unfortunately, last week, when she was preparing to sell anything that wasn’t permanently affixed to the barn, she came upon the ATV trailer.

She thought it was the one I didn’t need.

I wrote that she converted the barn into an equine boutique, but among all the horse care products, saddles, and tack, there was fencing equipment, pitch forks, a 100 gallon stock tank, …and a trailer. I didn’t notice it at first.

So, the day after she gets the barn all set up, she flies to Dallas for a conference, notifying me that I had two appointments to cover, for people interested in our sale. I described this at work: My wife went out-of-town, leaving me home alone, and scheduled two appointments for women to come over and give me money.

The response was, “Isn’t that illegal?”

The first customer arrived Thursday night and spotted the trailer that I hadn’t even noticed was there. I told them that wasn’t for sale, and we joked about my wife selling things out from under me. Later, while pouring through multiple printouts of items and prices that Cyndie put together, I found that she did  list the trailer for sale. I was flabbergasted.

She got home in the middle of the night, Friday, and as I wrote yesterday, the morning was all about the weirdness of the fraudulently purchased packages. (One more arrived in the mail yesterday.) While Cyndie was in the middle of frying eggs for breakfast, there was a knock at the door. It was a shopper for horse stuff.

I stayed in the house, grateful to no longer be responsible for trying to price Cyndie’s sale for friendly strangers who want a better deal. A short time later, Cyndie returned and I good-naturedly asked if she sold anything.

There it was.

She sold the trailer, among other things.

“WHAT!!”

I blame myself for not moving it out of the barn immediately when I discovered it. But, it was wedged behind a table of items and I didn’t want to mess up her wonderfully arranged displays. I should have put a sign on it that said, “Sold.”

I should have brought this up for discussion the moment she got home. While we cursed, whimpered, and laughed over what had just happened, I could see the moment she figured out the trailer I didn’t want was the other one. Understandably, she feels just awful now.

That trailer would have come in handy for a couple of chores I did yesterday.

We’ll probably use some money from her horse stuff sale to buy a replacement for the trailer she sold.

I’m trying to laugh about it, …to keep from crying. Sometimes, life imitates sitcoms.

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Written by johnwhays

April 28, 2019 at 6:00 am

A Discovery

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Portrait of the author after hand-shoveling around the barn doors this morning.

We received a walloping amount of snow overnight (between 10-11 inches) and strong winds are creating epic drifts. It will be a monumental day of digging out. Luckily, I wrote most of today’s post yesterday afternoon. I’ll give a more complete report on the details of our winter storm recovery tomorrow…

Meanwhile:

After waking up too early yesterday, resorted to random searching Google while awaiting the return of sleepiness. I simply typed the word, “love,” and happened upon an article from 2014 about living happily ever after in a long-term relationship.

In lieu of the Wikipedia definition of love, I clicked on the headline, “The Secret to Love is Just Kindness.”

That title included two things that I value the most: love and kindness, together with the enticing word, ‘secret.’ How could I resist?

Eventually, I drifted back into a dream-filled sleep, but not until after I had gained great insight, and felt totally convicted, about moments of my behavior. After breakfast, I read the article to Cyndie. She had the same reaction as me.

We have been married for 37-years, and somewhere in the middle of that span of time, dedicated a few years to marriage-saving couples therapy. Basically, our sessions went like this: we entered the hour looking to have our therapist “fix” the other partner, and left each time having learned more about ourselves than we sometimes wanted to know.

The years since have been better than I ever dreamed possible between us. How could this ever be improved upon?

Now I know. Despite all the work I have done toward seeking optimal health, specifically, not taking on any of the several deplorable traits of my father, I am very clearly a product of my parents. (Luckily, I did inherit plenty of Dad’s finer qualities!) In the midst of any project I undertake, I will find myself doing the “air-whistle” my mother often “phoo-whewed.” I am also all too adept at seamlessly replicating Ralph’s ability to be a sourpuss.

Cyndie is sweet enough to tolerate the random –and I’m hoping, mostly subtle– air-whistling (song-breathing?) habit, but she never deserved the boorish behaviors she has endured in our marriage.

In my depressive years (multiple dubious skills of which I no doubt picked up from my father), I could totally relate to the line in John Prine’s song, “Angel from Montgomery:”

How the hell can a person go to work in the morning
And come home in the evening and have nothing to say.

I knew exactly how that is done. Ralph did that to my mother so many times it became normal and accepted. It was no wonder that I could recognize when he’d imbibed to inebriation. He was suddenly chatty as could be with Mom.

From the article in The Atlantic, I now understand how divisive it is when Cyndie’s bids for connection are met with my lack of engagement. The kind thing to do when someone seeks connection, is to turn toward them, not away. For some reason, I have an uncanny skill of treating the one person closest to me at home, with a cold shoulder, something I would hard-pressed do to a person in public.

“There’s a bright red cardinal out the window!” Cyndie might report.

If not silence, I might offer an uninterested, “Okay.”

She hadn’t asked a question, so did it require an answer?

The healthy thing to do for a relationship –one that I want to thrive for a lifetime, not just survive– is to meet all of her bids for connection with kind attention, even when I don’t necessarily feel like it.

Even if it is limited to telling her that I just don’t feel like being kind right now, that would be a connection.

Actively being kind to our partner’s bids for connection, especially the trivial (ultimately, not-so-trivial) ones, seems the healthy way to nurture a thriving life-long relationship.

That isn’t a mind-blowing insight, but it was an eye-opening self-discovery for me that resulted in a quest for greater love.

Onward, on my quest toward optimal health…

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Project Love

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There are some situations that provide me with enough incentive to complete a project in a fixed amount of time. It is apparent that I do better when given a firm deadline. The last couple of months have been a challenge for me to not write and share images of progress for a special carving I have done, because it was a secret.

The deadline has now passed and the secret is out. I carved a heart for George and Anneliese out of a chunk of the old ash tree we cut down last fall.

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Starting with a section where the trunk split into two branches, I trimmed the shape with a chain saw. The next shaping was done with an angle grinder.

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As I’m often prone to do, I wanted the end result to be a mix of unfinished and extremely polished surfaces. An added bonus was the incidental flat at the bottom, which allows the heart to appear to stand on the point seen from the front.

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One of the pleasures of this project was the number of opportunities when I was able to work out in the warm sunshine while refining the shape and honing the smoothness. I chose to apply a beeswax and orange oil wood polish and conditioner as a finish to bring out the grain.

Yesterday, we were finally able to present this literal heart-felt gift for the occasion of the wedding. What a joy!

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The culmination of a summer’s worth of creative design and loving contemplations.

A symbol of a love of many layers, great depth, multifaceted, both rough and polished, cracked, shaped, intricate, beautiful, balanced.

Simply, true love, in the symbol of the heart shape.

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Written by johnwhays

August 27, 2018 at 6:00 am

All About

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Cyndie. This Weekend, it’s all about Cyndie as we celebrate the milestone of her 60th birthday. With Jackie tending to animal chores at Wintervale, Cyndie and I are submersed in the loving energy –and I do mean energy– of the Friswold family. We are staying at her parent’s house in Edina, MN, but have twice in a row found our way to downtown Minneapolis.

Last night, it was dinner and music at the Dakota, where we ate like royalty and swooned over Shawn Colvin‘s very personal solo guitar song performance.

This morning, Cyndie is sleeping in. My brain is busy trying to process the onslaught of activity, memories, and emotions –not to mention distractions of mental and physical preparations for my biking and camping trip that starts on Friday– conspiring to confuse me over whether it’s all about Cyndie, or all about me right now.

I had the great pleasure of starting the day yesterday riding bikes with Cyndie’s brother, Ben. He rode over from about a mile away just as a rumble of thunder rolled over us.

We took pause inside to watch the radar long enough to see we would have a perfect window of opportunity after a very short wait. The tiny disturbance sliding south of us was just a precursor to the precipitation that would arrive in the middle of the day and hang around for the afternoon.

While the sky was watering the earth, more of the Friswold clan gathered for lunch at Jimmy’s restaurant near our old Eden Prairie stomping grounds.

After a little nap before heading out for the night, attention turned to a gift brother Barry presented to Cyndie. Her jaw dropped when she saw her younger face on the cover of a memory book of pictures he had spent many loving hours to produce.

Just as she finished a first pass through the overwhelming collection of memories the images trigger, we stood to witness Justify run for the triple crown. Then eleven of us headed out for dinner and the concert.

With noted local musician and song-a-day YouTuber, Zachary Scot Johnson opening the show for Shawn Colvin, we were treated to a range of guitar-accompanied stories, providing me with a second recent prompt to wonder whether I am still a guitar player, or not.

A variety of reasons have combined to allow months to pass without my spending time with fingers on frets. I am inclined to blame my yet-to-be surgically treated arthritic left thumb as the primary culprit for the hiatus, but deep down, I have a sense I may be giving that more credit than is due.

Somehow, while distracted with too many of my own concerns rarely focused on accomplishments, I have been granted the chance to flutter around the bright light that is Cyndie for 44-some years.

It makes for a tangled web that isn’t so much all about her or me in the end. It really has become all about us.

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Written by johnwhays

June 10, 2018 at 8:35 am