Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘remembering

Cake Mistake

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Missing ingredient? She swears not. Wrong ingredient? Confident there wasn’t. Overfilled pans? Can’t say it wasn’t, but both to this bizarre degree? Hard to pin down.

Cyndie tried an unfamiliar recipe to bake a vanilla cake for Julian’s birthday. Since it was an untested recipe, she decided to conform strictly to the directions, a somewhat uncommon mode for her.

It didn’t take long to suspect something was amiss.

The batter was boiling over in the oven. Both the six little bunt shapes and the square pyrex pan.

There was nothing very cake-like at all in this failed birthday bake-xtravaganza.

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Old ingredients? Nope, she said.

Baking powder or soda? Both included.

Did you mix up the amounts? No.

I want her to try again to see what happens. She has no interest in going near that recipe ever again.

After a quick visit to the grocery store for more supplies, Cyndie went for a layer cake.

It didn’t boil over.

Happy Birthday, Julian!

(And Happy 39th Anniversary, John and Cyndie! It’s a gorgeous blue-sky September day today, just like that day in the garden was on the shores of Lake Minnetonka.)

I don’t remember the weather 32 years ago, because we were indoors in a hospital room. I do remember driving 2-year-old Elysa to the hospital to see Momma and meet her new younger brother.

September 19 is a special day for our family.

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This year, we celebrate it with a tinge of sorrow in the shadow of yesterday’s passing of Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Here’s hoping she will still be guiding us all from her continued heavenly perspective.

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Written by johnwhays

September 19, 2020 at 9:47 am

Proximity

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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

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Written by johnwhays

August 18, 2020 at 6:00 am

Himalayan Memories

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A dear friend who was a precious member of the Himalayan trek I did back in 2009 recently visited us and left me with her illustrated edition of Jon Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air.” I had read this book about the deadly 1996 season on Everest when it was first published but had not seen this version with all the photos and graphics.

David Piper took this shot of me overlooking Namche Bazaar

Thinking I would breeze through and just look at all the pictures, I unexpectedly found myself powerless to ignore the text. After an attempt to skim some of the reading to refresh my memory failed miserably, I gave in and absorbed every last word, at the expense of sleep and a few daily tasks.

I simply couldn’t stop reading until I reached the end.

Of course, the early portions of the descriptions from Kathmandu up to Lukla and then the villages up to 13,000 FT elevation resonate deeply with my first-hand experience and bring a rush of vivid pleasant memories flooding back.

I clearly remember the specific spot Krakauer describes when the rocky path first arrives at a vista with a view of the peak of Everest.

The adventure travel group I trekked with had a tag line that “Everyone Has an Everest.” While re-reading “Into Thin Air” I have found myself understanding better than ever how to apply this thinking more often to everyday life.

It doesn’t need to be some epic accomplishment. Reading the intricate details of the goings-on in a guided expedition to reach the summit of Everest reveals how important each little step is, maybe even more important than the few abbreviated minutes they are able to allow themselves to spend at the top.

As well, the critical value of coming back down after the pinnacle is achieved, which is the only thing that will allow a full realization of the accomplishment.

So it can be in our everyday lives. Each thing we do in an effort toward our goals holds value like the preparations individuals make in an Everest expedition.

It’s not simply the destination, but the journey that should be valued in our day-to-day mini-expeditions.

The journey both there, and back again.

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Aerial History

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With much appreciation to my son, Julian, for his pointer to a precious University of Minnesota online historical aerial photograph resource he stumbled onto yesterday, I dedicate today’s post to my siblings and cousins who will most likely enjoy this more than anyone else.

I immediately searched for images from my old Eden Prairie homes. I started looking at our house on Cedar Ridge Road, but the big fun was exploring views of Intervale Ranch on old County Road 18.

Check out the place in 1960:

I have cropped this to include Fullerton’s and McCartney’s houses for reference, and the gravel pit across from the driveway of our house.

You can clearly see the center circle of our driveway, the tennis court, the barns, and the house on the hill that was the Superintendent’s quarters where the family first lived while our grandparents were in the main house.

Just seven years later, it looked like this:

Look how much bigger the gravel pit is. You can see the divided highway that formed the barrier between us and Braemar Park. I’m pretty certain that the final excavation of the surroundings was already underway, based on the pathway cleared between the outer barn and the highway.

Here is a closer zoom focusing on Intervale:

Can you find the chestnut tree?

And finally, here is a wider pan to show more of the surroundings:

This gives the added reference of 494 in the bottom of the frame, much of the golf course, and –with the stark white roof– the Braemar hockey rink.

You can also see the rest of the expanded gravel pit.

Remember how hilly it was around there? From the satellite view, it is really hard to get a sense of those dramatic features. I believe we have photos of the construction of the north/south divided highway that was County 18 at the time that are dated 1962. I find it interesting to consider the changes that happened in the seven years between these images.

Cyndie and I have been at Wintervale for seven years now. In October it will reach eight. Luckily, I’ve already been collecting the overhead satellite views of this property.

Hopefully, there won’t be any divided highway installations coming into the pictures in our lifetimes.

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Written by johnwhays

July 7, 2020 at 6:00 am

He’s Free

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In Loving Memory

Fred R. Friswold

21 Jan 1937 — 24 Jun 2020

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Written by johnwhays

June 25, 2020 at 6:00 am

Music Memory

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As a latter-baby-boom fan of record albums, I have a number of milestone music memories from my coming-of-age years moving between middle school to high school in the 1970s. Admittedly, having four older siblings as in-home influencers contributed greatly to my exposure to music that was older than my years. The burgeoning rock scene of the Woodstock era was a little beyond my 10-year-old self, but the allure of the music was well-established by the time I reached my mid-teens.

Cyndie and I were recently gifted with access to Apple Music by our kids. The welcome message from Apple points out my song collection is now 60-million strong. This is a gift the kids will have a very difficult time surpassing in the future. Maybe a fiber-optic line of unlimited data access to our home in the rural countryside could top this, but that’s pretty far beyond the ability of individuals to achieve.

As it is, we are able to sip new downloads through a tiny straw on our current data plan.

However, my connection at work offers an alternate avenue for adding songs to the library on my phone. Yesterday, I downloaded the America album, “Holiday.” That record was released on my 15th birthday at a time when my interest in their acoustic guitar sounds and vocal harmonies was very strong.

It was to be my time. New music that was current to my adolescence. However, reality didn’t quite match my expectations. The band was evolving and I was disappointed.

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I liked the way they looked on their first album. I am embarrassingly influenced by album cover art. (Duly noting the incredible insensitivity of the somber indigenous tribesmen behind the gleeful white trio under the dual-meaning “America.”) The old-timey photo on “Holiday” didn’t appeal to me one bit.

The new album had less strumming acoustic guitars and more theatrical clarinet.

I tried to like “Holiday.” There were a couple of songs that wowed me, but the majority didn’t, despite listening to it over and over again. When I moved from LPs to CDs, “Holiday” didn’t get replaced. I haven’t heard most of these songs in 40-some years. Now, with the convenience of digital access, I get to revisit my youth.

Listening to the album again triggered a lot of memories. Riding in the back of a station wagon packed with teens and someone turning up the radio for the song, “Tin Man” and shooshing everyone because “John’s song” was on.

But, I wanted “Horse with No Name” and “Riverside” not “Sister Golden Hair” and “Muskrat Love.”

Luckily, at the time, I also had “461 Ocean Boulevard,” the return of Eric Clapton to recording after recovering from a 3-year addiction to heroin.

I’m looking forward to mining more lost gems and their associated memories of my youth among the other 60-million songs that hopefully include a wide variety from the 70s.

Thank you, Elysa and Julian! This was a brilliant choice for a gift for us both.

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Written by johnwhays

June 16, 2020 at 6:00 am

Unidentified Obfuscation

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It starts to get hard when you reach the point of not being able to hear yourself think. The little boy in me who has never grown up occasionally shows up to ask me why I’m so quick to forget about the bliss of being four or five years old and getting lost in some harmless pursuit. The answer is always the same.

It’s not that I’m quick to forget. I’m just slow to remember. Present-day life tends to do that to a person.

An awful lot of years have passed since I sprawled on the floor making truck sounds with my mouth as I rolled Matchbox cars along the borders of our large Persian rug.

The recent stress of the day-job continues unabated amidst a boom of business that started at the same time as the global pandemic and its havoc on world economies. It is proving to be a brain-scrambler of significant magnitude.

Last night the ranch received an impressive sample of the remnants of Tropical Storm Cristobol in the form of wave after wave of soaking rain. I think it might make the landscape pond overflow. [wry smile]

We are hoping that the deluge won’t drown any of the plants in Cyndie’s gardens.

She served up another delicious salad last night with all the greens coming from plants she is growing. This time I remembered to take a picture.

The asparagus isn’t ours. They’re store-bought. I can only hope someday our wisps of skinny stalks will someday reach such mammoth proportions.

Much to our surprise, rainstorms seem to improve our connection for Zoom meetings, and last night I was able to participate in conversations with an international collection of members of my beloved virtual community, Brainstorms. (Ward, it was a treat to see and hear you!). For almost an hour my connection flashed instability only three times, but never once dropped my connection entirely. That was a first.

The normal mode for Zoom gatherings by way of our cell connection out here in the countryside is to freeze up frequently and get dropped/reconnected multiple times until I give up and sign off.

The last time Cyndie was in a Zoom meeting during wild weather, she enjoyed similar success. The signal must like having all those raindrops in the air. Who’d uh guessed?

The little boy in me would have, probably.

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Written by johnwhays

June 10, 2020 at 6:00 am

Similar Theme

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My visit yesterday to the Previous Somethings archive fed an urge to explore my media library from the earliest days of this blog. I found some images from eleven years ago which interestingly correlate with our life in the present.

Back in May of 2009, we were still living in Eden Prairie, MN, on a fraction-of-an-acre corner lot. At that time, we had no inkling we might be selling that house and moving within a few years. Back then, we were…

…building the frames for a raised garden!

This week, while I have been occupied with the day-job, Cyndie has decided to go a little further than the initial terrace we worked on together in the last few weeks. She framed in a few more spots for select plantings she’s decided to add which will need more space.

Another old photo I found was taken up at the lake place in Hayward. The month of May brings out a carpet of trillium in the woods up there that we totally adore.

Last night, Cyndie brought me a picture she took of one that just showed up in our woods at Wintervale.

We have been trying to bring a few trillium back with us from annual visits to the lake in May and have been transplanting them into various locations in our woods. I don’t know if we’ll live long enough to see them flourish and spread like they do at Wildwood, but each time I spot one here brings me great joy.

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Written by johnwhays

May 13, 2020 at 6:00 am

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.

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Newest Ramp

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Chicken ramp is now up to version three. I’ve given up on the cutesy woven willow branch ramps because they don’t hold up to the abuse of the elements and the apparent urges of critters and/or chickens to pull them apart.

It feels a little sad to be getting around to fixing this just days after the loss of five hens, but there are still three birds who are going in and out of the coop and I have decided to remedy the design flaw of passing through the drop zone for snow sliding off the slanted roof.

The new design approaches the chicken access door from the side, keeping it just inside the drip line off the roof.

Cyndie said the first chicken to exit the coop this morning after the door was opened had to stop abruptly to figure out the turn, but then walked right down.

I watched the Wyandotte who is becoming broody approach the new ramp from the ground yesterday, driven by her strong urge to get back inside and park in an empty nest box. She stopped where the bottom of the old ramp would have been and stretched her neck up as tall as she could with a look of incredulity as she inspected the strange alteration.

Then she flapped her wings and hopped halfway up from the side and scrambled up through the opening.

I’m anxious to see if the snow will drop just beyond this new ramp since that is the primary reason I changed to the side entry, but hopefully, that test won’t happen for many months.

Seven years ago today, the first spring after we had moved here, we received 18-inches of wet snow that wreaked havoc on trees and branches. I will always remember the sound of snapping limbs that resembled rifle reports cracking all around me within the otherwise sound-deadened thick blanket of white.

It was very distressing.

I will happily wait until next winter to see how the newest version of the chicken ramp works when melting snow drops off the roof overhang. By then, we should have round three of purchased chickens established, as Cyndie has already placed an order for all new breeds. Delivery is much delayed and breed selection was rather limited due to very high demand.

I guess a lot of people are in the market for the comfort of having their own source of eggs at a time when going out in public is being discouraged.

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Written by johnwhays

May 2, 2020 at 8:35 am