Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘remembering

Leaky Tree

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I’m reporting from a remote location this morning, having stayed a night in the cities to attend an event honoring students and staff at the old alma mater. Instead of driving home, only to turn around in a few hours to drive back to work, I spent the night at Cyndie’s parents’ house in Edina.

It was a real treat to see some of the accomplishments of the present-day people at Eden Prairie public schools. That is where both Cyndie and I graduated from, as well as both of our children, and where Cyndie worked as high school principal for several years.

The number of young, new-to-me faces of staff being given special recognition by the Foundation for EP Schools last night was inspiring, yet caused me to become acutely aware my advanced age. The years of our involvement seem like a really long time ago now.

At the same time, a few of the music teachers present were the same people who taught our children, and they were excited to pass along greetings to their former students. So, I guess it wasn’t that long ago.

It’s all relative, isn’t it?

Cyndie sent me pictures and stories of the antics of Cayenne sneaking through one of our web fences, twice!, yesterday; the chickens came in the barn and totally ignored the cheep-cheeping chicks; and the chicks are another day happier and healthier.

She also captured this picture of an impressive dual-pronged sap-cicle on a branch of one of our young maple trees. I don’t know why this one is leaking at that spot, but there is no mistaking the fact that the sap is flowing strong.

Syruping season is here.

It may not feel like spring yet, but when the pure maple syrup starts getting boiled down around these parts, nice weather can’t be far off.

I’m feeling ready for some of both.

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Written by johnwhays

March 22, 2018 at 6:00 am

Past Blast

with 4 comments

Yesterday, a co-worker pointed out that it reached 80° in March six years ago. I had no recollection whatsoever about what I was doing in March of 2012, but I pointed out that I have this handy-dandy online journal that allows me to easily check.

The blast from my past that appeared on my screen was very interesting to read, in relation to some of the current challenges and discussions Cyndie and I have been having lately regarding what lies in store for us and Wintervale Ranch.

I am moved to re-post what I wrote for March 29, 2012:

Dream Hesitation

What the heck do I know about owning a horse farm? With the brains of this organization off gallivanting around Boston right now, it is I, your humble correspondent, who am on the front line of decision making. Yesterday, we received the first batch of properties from the realtor we met with a month ago, and I noticed some things about the listings that triggered a little apprehension in me.

“Do we know what we want to spend?” she wrote. Um… no. Well, that’s not true. We would like to spend nothing, but I assume that is not going to bring the results we are hoping for.

Private sewer? This property has a private sewer. Oh, just what I always wanted, a sewer of my own.

One property had a lot of acreage, but within a flood plain. Do I want to open that box?

Then, there are all the improvements we did to our home of 25 years. Looking at this first list of potential properties, I see all the things we’ve already done here, needing to be done all over again. Oy. Siding, insulation, gas fireplace insert, gutters, windows, garage door and floor, new driveway, landscaping, kitchen remodel, bathroom upgrades. Did I mention siding?

And, of course, now we are going to have all the walls and ceilings here repaired, freshly painted, and new carpet installed! How many of you can see John deciding to stay here and rent a stall in a stable nearby for Cyndie to have a horse?

Cyndie is the true dreamer of our team. I’m just a tag-along. I fill in some of the creative blanks, but I also tend to drag in a bit more realism (read “pessimism”) than she wants to hear. I guess we are a good balance, eh?

It doesn’t feel right trying to do this without her around.

But, hey, don’t let me get you down. This is just a normal phase of my processing things. I’ll get over it. Seriously. And, Cyndie visits again in about 3-weeks. In just a few minutes of arriving, she’ll have me back up on our dream cloud and we’ll be designing our little paradise together as if it is what my whole life groomed me to be doing.

Meanwhile, maybe I should sneak out to visit the horses she tends to here, on my own, and just stand near them… see if I can hear what they have to say. I could use a dose of their wisdom.

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It is so interesting for me to read that, especially the end. I had zero experience with horses at that time.

We did end up designing a little paradise together, and it has felt like what my life groomed me to be doing. At the same time, it feels jarring to read my pondering about staying put in our old house and renting a stall for keeping a horse when questions have been popping up recently about the viability of our current situation.

The past really does provide an interesting reference for the present.

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Written by johnwhays

March 8, 2018 at 7:00 am

Legacy

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Written by johnwhays

January 19, 2018 at 8:43 am

More Memories

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I hope you will understand if I continue our memorial another consecutive day, but I only made it through half of the pictures I had collected when I composed yesterday’s post, and Legacy’s life was just too big to fit into one photo montage.

Actually, the steps of composing these posts is therapeutic for Cyndie and me in processing our grief, so indulge us another day of honoring Legacy’s recent passing.

Despite holding the important position of herd-leader, he sure seemed to have plenty of time for play and/or mischief.

He never missed an opportunity to nibble and disassemble fencing, gate chains, our electric fence charger, wheelbarrow handles, or any other random item left within his reach. Whenever I took on a project that was in or near the paddocks, he was quick to come over to perform an inspection.

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I repeatedly found myself mentioning to Cyndie that I had a supervisor watching over my every move.

If you look back at the first two pictures in yesterday’s post, there is a striking difference between the sleek look of his summer coat and his bushy growth for winter. When it came time to shed that long hair, we struggled to cope with the immensity of the event.

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Of course, no sooner would we get him cleaned up than he would go off to find the messiest possible spot to roll around.

In his role as herd leader, Legacy made a point of being the first to approach whenever I wandered up to the fence to take pictures of the horses together. Most of those pictures ended up being of Legacy with three horses behind him, but not always.

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One of the most precious things Legacy demonstrated was his keen sensitivity for visitors who may not have any horse experience, might be feeling anxious, or were too young to understand safety protocols. Legacy was often the first of our horses to volunteer for exercises with clients.

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He always took steps to assure every person received attention, not just when there happened to be treats being handed out.

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That being said, he was a major treat-hound when it came to that. The presence of treats may have been one situation where the herd’s best interests were dropped down a notch below his own. The day we brought out the bright red frozen treats, shown in yesterday’s montage, he commanded full, exclusive control until he had his fill. The resulting red lips were a real hoot.

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Legacy rarely demonstrated a need to demand respect, basically, because it wasn’t necessary. He was granted full authority by the herd. Delilah naively tested Legs a couple of times, but it was never a fair exchange. Equine smarts held the advantage in all of their interactions that I witnessed.

There were countless occasions when I watched the three chestnuts scrambling with each other to challenge a pecking order, but Legacy was above such shenanigans.

He left them alone as often as possible to work it out themselves, and they were always careful to avoid brushing into him while they skirmished.

There is an uncanny void in our midst which will be incredibly difficult to fill. Legacy can’t be replaced.

With all that he has done for us in our time with him here, Legacy’s wisdom and spirit will remain a permanent fixture, that’s for sure. We are incredibly blessed and so very lucky to have had the honor of him becoming an integral part of our Wintervale Ranch adventures.

For now, though, it’s goodbye physical Legacy, goodbye.

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Written by johnwhays

January 17, 2018 at 7:00 am

Photo Memories

with 2 comments

Legacy …  7/18/1996-1/14/2018

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Written by johnwhays

January 16, 2018 at 7:00 am

Remembering Legacy

with 48 comments

He was a consummate leader, our Legacy. He arrived to our care in September of 2013, master of this group of 3 chestnuts with which he had been matched. We quickly came to recognize his gracious control of the herd as their benevolent dictator.

In the last couple of months we noticed signs something might be up, hints that maybe he was aware the end was near.

Yesterday morning, Cyndie found him in very bad shape out in the pasture. He had been so uncomfortable he had wrangled out of his blanket, and thus ended up matted with balls of iced-up snow.

Whatever was causing him pain, it was now exacerbated by his nearly freezing in the overnight sub-zero cold. Cyndie was able to get him up and walking back into the paddock before coming to get me and contact our vet. Legacy was heroic about letting us attempt to get him warmed up and responding to some meds, but his age, and condition, and the cold all conspired to keep the interventions short of being able to extend his time.

After a couple of hours waiting to see if he would feel better, his behavior was very clear. The vet returned and gently guided us through the process of helping Legacy through this transition.

Before the vet arrived, we had walked Legacy out of the paddock to open space in front of the barn. He was pawing the ground in response to pain and so Cyndie walked him to pass the time. He did really well for a brief span, but then picked a perfect spot to stop and calmly lay down.

He curled his legs underneath him and sat quietly, no longer needing to paw in pain. He accepted our hugs and condolences and patiently awaited what was to come.

When the truck pulled up, Legacy laid his head down, as if fully aware of what came next.

His amazing spirit is threaded indelibly throughout every single aspect of Wintervale Ranch, right down to the outline of his face in our logo. There are so many amazing, beautiful memories we have and hold of his time with us. He is irreplaceable and we will be challenged to figure out how to manage the days ahead, guiding Dezirea, Cayenne, and Hunter through their grief, while struggling to cope with our own.

Thank you to all of you who are supporting us with your love and kind condolences. Send our horses love. They are visibly disturbed by his departure, yet they mustered strength to provide some loving equine understanding to Cyndie as the vet drove away.

Legacy, (7/18/1996-1/14/2018), we send you off with all the love you fostered here, and more. May your spirit soar!

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Written by johnwhays

January 15, 2018 at 7:00 am

Getting Married

with 4 comments

After six years of off-again, on-again navigating our growing relationship, Cyndie and I committed to cementing our connection in marriage. During a summer break when she was home from a graduate program at San Diego State University, we decided to begin the process.

I remember pausing on a bench in the 50th & France shops area where we asked each other, once and for all, if we were prepared to make this commitment. Then, we walked into a store to talk to a jeweler about making a ring that we designed ourselves.

We didn’t specifically speak about it again until I made a formal proposal in the form of a Christmas present I gave her at a Hays family gift exchange in December, 1980.

During the intervening months, I worked on a wax model of the ring, delivered it to the jeweler for casting, and asked for the blessings of our parents.

I’m pretty sure I surprised my parents by even asking. My father’s reaction was to say that I didn’t need his approval. Happily, Mom and Dad both offered their support.

Asking Cyndie’s parents, Fred and Marie, was a lot more nerve-wracking. All these years later, the thing we laugh about is that Marie was in the middle of untangling Christmas lights when I finally summoned the courage to utter the request for their daughter’s hand in marriage.

“You’re asking me now? In the middle of this tangle of lights!?”

Caught them by surprise, too.

I was incredibly relieved to find they were able to maintain their composure and avoided grilling me too hard about what the future might hold. Despite my worries, they accepted me as I am and gave me permission to marry their oldest child.

To this day, I have difficulty comprehending how they were able to process the reality of the events I had set in motion that day.

Marie was sworn to secrecy from that moment until I “officially” popped the question, but she didn’t know exactly when that would be. It was a wonderfully joyful night when we finally were able to share the news with Cyndie’s whole family.

I’m the fifth of six siblings, and my getting married was not incredibly dramatic in the grand scheme of other Hays family significant events. Cyndie is a first-born, their oldest daughter, and the first child to be married. I knew this was a big deal.

Beyond the amazing bond being put in place for Cyndie and me, the next biggest impact was that I was becoming a member of the Friswold family. That brought benefits and responsibilities that stretched the limits of my ability to grasp.

It is inextricably linked with the soul-connection Cyndie and I share. It is an honor of epic proportions that I am humbled to be able to claim.

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Written by johnwhays

December 23, 2017 at 7:00 am