Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘remembering

Old Images

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I was exploring old images and came upon these shots from 2013, our first spring on this property. We were in the process of installing new fencing to create the paddocks outside the barn and trying to build the hay shed.

That spring was so wet the main post holes that had been dug for the hay shed sat filled with water week after week. I remember thinking the pole shed might never happen.

It pains my brain to think about all that I DIDN’T know back then. Somehow we forged ahead to eventually get where we are today. It involved a lot of making things up as we went along. Looking back on it, I’m happy now for all the wild ideas we entertained back then.

Makes me wonder about what things I might not know today that in ten years could become our everyday.

Probably hovercrafts.

At the same time, it always feels presumptuous to assume I’ll be here in ten years.



Written by johnwhays

January 31, 2023 at 7:00 am

Lonely Walk

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I took a walk on the perimeter trail through our woods yesterday for the first time since Delilah died. That path was getting footsteps (boot steps) up to three times a day with Delilah to give her exercise that would expend her high energy. Sometimes I wasn’t all that interested in making the trek for a third time in a day, but I never regretted the opportunity once I was out there getting my own exercise and experiencing our precious wooded acres.

Without Delilah needing to be walked, I have been avoiding wandering our trails, partly out of respect that it was her thing and she isn’t with us anymore, but also because it would poke at my grief over her passing. Yesterday, I decided to trek through the crusty snow for the first time in almost three months to see if any trees have fallen or what wild animal tracks might be visible now that there isn’t a dog living here.

There were a few branches down and several spots where limbs burdened by snow had tipped over, now frozen in place. No large trees have come down in all the winter weather we’ve received thus far.

It was a lonely walk and it did poke my grief.



Written by johnwhays

January 15, 2023 at 11:30 am

Thrown Back

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The other day I was hunting for the U of MN site that offered access to a library of historic aerial images and found several different views of the farm my grandfather bought back in the early 1950s. ( That property was called “Intervale Ranch” and the name became the inspiration for our choosing “Wintervale” for the land where Cyndie and I now live.

My family was living there when I was born in 1959. The farming was mostly done by then and the barns and nearby surroundings became a large playground for my siblings and me. 

Looking at the various images I found of that land has thrown me back into years I recall fondly. The weather I experienced for the first ten years of my life seemed like a reliable and relatively consistent pattern of seasonal transitions. For all I knew, that’s the way it had always been and would always be.

Hah! Ten years out of the incomprehensible span of time from the forming of planets to the human-influenced environment of Earth we are experiencing today. I expect the naiveté of youth is why that time of my life seems so envious now.

In the most recent ten years we have experienced increasing instances of rainfall during winter months (instead of snow) to the extent it is no longer a bizarre occasion.

I was also thrown back to fond memories of the media commonly on in our home. There were a mere five channels of broadcast television to watch. Walter Cronkite on the national news. Dave Moore on the local station. Boone & Erickson on the radio. If you wanted to know if school was closed due to a snowstorm, you listened to WCCO radio. After they gave the ag reports, they’d read the alphabetical list of communities with school districts that were closed or running two hours late.

On my transistor radio in my bedroom I would tune in KDWB or WDGY to hear the latest hits of popular music.

We moved from the house on that property to a neighborhood of around twenty houses when I was ten years old. It was my first exposure to the fact that the world wasn’t as static my young perspective believed.

Slowly, but surely, television changed, personalities came and went, and I grew into my teenage angst.

In a way, nothing holds a candle to the first ten years of my life for the bliss of being surrounded by my family on the remnants of that farm near the border of Eden Prairie and Edina in Hennepin County, Minnesota, U.S.A.



Written by johnwhays

December 11, 2022 at 11:27 am

Finally Connected

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Ten years ago today, October 18 was the very day of our arrival to this property we call Wintervale. Hoorah! I looked up our property on the county site and grabbed a couple of images from the widest span of dates available.







On the left is the year 2010 which was two years before we purchased the property. On the right is from 2021 according to the county.

I prefer the images our friend Mike Wilkus provided from his recent flyover.

I was hiking the north loop trail with Delilah, waiting for the arrival of our in-home broadband internet installer to finally connect us to the world of streaming content, and spotted this scene of pine needles carpeting the ground.

I’m sure glad that tree isn’t over our landscape pond.

As can be seen from the view perspective of Mike’s photo above, there are cultivated crop fields around us, keeping us aware that we live among farmers.

Yesterday the closest field to our south was being harvested. Something tells me we aren’t in the suburbs anymore.

That’s quite all right with me, …especially now that we are hardwired with fiber optic broadband.



Any Day

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Lately, I have noticed I am experiencing a pang of underlying guilt over not being fully aware of what day of the week it is. It is commonly expressed that the absence of a work schedule in one’s life will bring about this phenomenon of losing track of the days. It’s truly a luxury to not know. I feel rich beyond my means when I find myself basking in the gentle breezes through the trees at the lake on a Sunday evening when the majority of weekend vacationers have returned to their homes.

There were days throughout my years of gainful employment when I suffered under the pressure of showing up day after day for the grind of my multiple different day jobs. At the same time, I found myself rather well-suited to such a routine of scheduled days. I mostly looked forward to seeing people and tending to whatever business situations required attention.

I wasn’t very fond of being told the toilet wasn’t working in one of the restrooms, but most other issues were useful fodder for doing what I had been hired to do. It’s a bit of a shame that some issues continue to show up in my overnight dreams. Saturday night it felt like I worked hard all night long through multiple dreams. I was trying to train a new employee while simultaneously attempting to cope with other side issues and periodically straining to figure out why I was back at work again after having been gone for so many months.

I found myself semi-lucidly questioning the dream whenever I surfaced toward consciousness through the night and then regretting when a return to deep slumber brought the same dream back to right where it had left off.

During my working years, I had moments of envy for the people I knew who no longer noticed what day of the week it was, but I don’t recall ever begrudging them that luxury. Now that I have achieved that same privilege, I feel bad about celebrating it when so many others still have to log their time.

Facing the undeniable shared challenges of showing up on the first day of the work week. People compare stories of what each other’s weekend entailed and commiserate over the concept of a week ahead. Then, the survival strategy of lauding the midweek milestone of “hump day.” Finally, the thrill of reaching the last day of the week with its lure of soon-to-be-reached days away from the job.

This morning is simply another “any day” of the week for me. Cyndie will be staying up at the lake longer this week and I am driving home today with her mom. I’ll be on my own for a few days at Wintervale before heading right back up on the same day that Cyndie gets a ride home with a friend.

We’ll be like ships passing in the night on any old day of the week.



Written by johnwhays

August 1, 2022 at 6:00 am

Album Collection

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If I were ever to venture from this moment to visit and romanticize a period of my history, I would gladly focus on the pinnacle of my young experience, and it would have everything to do with vinyl LP record albums of my most adored recording artists.

My parents and older siblings all had records and I became familiar with listening to the music and studying the intricacies of the covers and printed inner sleeves. I would guess I was in my early teens when my sister Linda offered to take me to a record store so I could pick out an album of my very own.  My first.

I recall having no clue what to pick and walking up and down the aisle looking at too many choices of which I knew nothing. When I happened upon one in the front of a stack that had a brightly colored sticker touting a hit song, I decided that was the one I wanted. I’d heard the song on the radio, Black Sabbath’s “Ironman.”

When I grew old enough to know better, probably only a year or two later, I realized that choice was barely on the fringes of my genuine interests. Of course, interests evolve. I ventured in a few odd directions that seemed a stretch for me over time, but the constraints were more financial than musical tastes. Albums didn’t come cheap and it was prohibitive to buy an entire LP for interest in just one particular song.

If you didn’t own the record back in the day, you were at the mercy of a radio station to play a song you wanted to hear. Dropping my dollars on an album and bringing it home to break the seal of the clear plastic wrap was a momentous occasion. After setting the needle on the outside edge of side one, it was time to study the images and soak up every word on the jacket.

There is no experience like it today. Not when almost anything you can think of is available in a search of the internet.

The album art was almost as much of an experience as the quality of the music emanating from those vinyl grooves. Or is that, vinyl groove?

My first job after high school was selling records at the local mall. That broadened my exposure to new music and gave me the ability to bring home promotional albums I wouldn’t otherwise have bought.

When Cyndie and I got married, our similar but surprisingly rare number of duplicated albums merged to become one precious collection. That treasure was pared down drastically when digital music became the norm and I sold off all but one hundred gems that were either rare or meant enough to us we couldn’t part with them.

Yesterday, Cyndie pulled them out with a mind of continuing her momentum of purging possessions that we aren’t using. I’m considering pulling out my old turntable to find out if the belt on it is functional at maintaining 33 & 1/3 RPMs.

As much as I’d love to once again hear the music from old records I never digitized, I think I’m finding it even more pleasurable simply seeing the artistry of all those classic album covers another time.



Written by johnwhays

March 23, 2022 at 6:00 am

Time Ravaged

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More than I can remember in my lifetime, we have been cycling above and below the freezing point this winter, taxing everything exposed to the extremes. As I’ve written many times before, everything moves, including what is often referred to as “solid ground.”

Terra firma is not so firm a.

This is the current state of a base I installed for an outdoor sink on the backside of the barn.

It used to be level.

In some places, the ground sinks. In others, it rises up. And it changes back and forth about as often as the freezing and thawing cycle is playing out. Of course, the base in the image above never happens to return to level. Oh, no.

I have no idea what happened in our pile of limestone screenings. It looks a little like maybe it regurgitated all over itself.

A while back, Cyndie posted a bunch of our furniture for sale on the local neighborhood app. Quite a lot of furniture, actually. The app offered a suggestion that she could also post it on another app to be seen by more than just our neighbors. All it took was the push of a button. So she did.

Soon we had people from far and wide contacting us to ask if everything was okay. Why was she unloading all this furniture?

It’s nice to know concerned friends will check on us if we start showing signs of distress.

The reason Cyndie is looking to jettison our old furniture is that her mother is moving from the family home of many years into a smaller unit in a senior living community. We will be taking some of the precious furnishings that didn’t make the cut for her mom’s new home.

In preparation, we have already started to move things around in our house. We took possession of the old flat-screen TV that had been in her mom’s basement and put it up in our loft, replacing the smaller one we’ve had since it was our main television mounted on the wall in our Eden Prairie home.

Here in Beldenville, the old television was in a stand on a table. In a classic domino effect of one change leading to another, we decided to relocate that TV to the bedroom to replace a smaller one in that room. There, it will be able to be mounted on the wall again. That means I needed to find the old wall mount bracket.

I didn’t know if we’d even kept it, but Cyndie remembered seeing it on the top shelf in our storage room. With her direction, I found two of the three primary pieces. The ravages of time have taken a toll on my memory and I couldn’t recall if we’d detached the base plate from the wall when we moved out of the old house.

I actually started researching online to see if I could replace just the base plate before one last double-check in the storage room, where I was actually checking old packaging for information on the name of the wall mount manufacturer. That’s when I spotted a tiny corner of the base plate on a different shelf.

As far as I can tell, we actually do have everything needed to proceed.



Written by johnwhays

March 9, 2022 at 7:00 am

Measured Gait

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When I was a kid in school, I noticed there were others who walked with their feet angled toes-in or toes out and it led me to think the same thing could happen to me. It didn’t look right to me. I didn’t want to walk like that. As a result, I tried consciously aligning my feet with the seams of the floor tiles as I walked down hallways in hopes the practice would keep my gait from becoming misaligned.

How I place my feet as I walk hasn’t been something I constantly think about, but stepping straight ahead in line with those tiles did become a permanent memory that I’ve returned to thinking about many times over the years.

Fifty-some years and too-many-ankle-sprains-to-count later, I’m beginning to notice my right foot “toes out” a little bit in the prints I leave behind in the snow.

What I found interesting yesterday after I noticed my old footprints on the trail was that when I put conscious effort into paying attention to place my right foot straight, it felt like I was toeing it way too far in.

I’m not talking extremes here. The amount of difference is very small. A fraction of an inch. It’s fascinating to me that such a small percentage of change would feel so much larger than it really is.

This kind of correction reminds me of my never-ending quest to achieve an even pedal stroke on my bicycle. I’m decidedly right-side dominant in my pedaling which contributes to a “wobble” of the bike as I unconsciously push stronger with my right leg.

I dream of expending equal power with the push-pull of each leg, but if I’m not specifically thinking about it or I start to get fatigued, I can sense my effort becomes lopsided.

At least I never have to worry about the position of my feet when I’m clipped into the bike pedals. While I wobble down the road on my bike, my toes on both feet are always pointed straight ahead!



Written by johnwhays

March 8, 2022 at 7:00 am

Remembering Winter

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It has been a couple of years since we’ve had horses over the months of freezing temperatures and blowing snow. I’m finding it a little comical that neither Cyndie nor I remember how we handled the nuances of our barn chores during the winter months.

It’s not difficult to make it up as we go along, except for the nagging knowledge that we already had a smoothly functioning routine once before. Seems like we shouldn’t have to start anew.

Yesterday, we found the waterer was freezing up, leading me to believe one or more of the heating elements are failing. At least that is a new problem because we never needed to worry about that before.

Manure management is a little wobbly. Sometimes, frozen poop is easier to scoop up. A lot of other times it isn’t. I keep telling Cyndie we used to leave it all in place until spring but she doesn’t remember it that way. The difference, I believe, is that we haven’t received much snow yet and we can still roll the wheelbarrow around. She’ll be happy to leave it all when/if real snow begins to accumulate.

I’ve reminded Cyndie that we plowed a path from the barn to the compost area and only scooped under the overhang and in the stalls over winter. Since we don’t have any snow yet, the obvious limitations aren’t there.

I’m already trying to recall my routine of resuming active composting after winter releases its grip. Those of you who keep dogs in your backyard in places where snow covers the ground for months know what the ground looks like when the snow first melts. Multiply that mental image by the volume four horses produce.

We are getting hit with seriously cold temperatures and aggressive winter winds already. The unknown element of snow accumulation remains to be revealed in the weeks ahead.

I’m waiting to find out if this will turn out to be a winter like the snowy ones I remember most from the recent past.



Written by johnwhays

December 7, 2021 at 7:00 am

Contrasting Visuals

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I’m so happy that Cyndie carries her phone on walks and shares the views she captures. This first one has the cool effect of blurring around the center focal point that adds energy to the scene.

We have reached the time of year when there are a lot more hours of darkness than light but she didn’t let that stop her and I love the murky mysteriousness of this next one.

There is a lot of action in some of those tree trunks. I don’t quite understand the source of light behind those clouds. Was it really just the last traces of sunlight so many minutes past sunset? I cannot confirm.

A couple of other shots she showed me from the night walk revealed the snowflakes that were blowing around at the time.

It was brought to my attention that this happened seven years ago:

That was when Cyndie rolled the old farm pickup just a few days before she had hip replacement surgery. When responders fretted over her painful limping, she had to tell them that was how she walked even before the rollover.

In contrast, now I’m thinking about what we’ll be taking pictures of seven years from now and how different it might look.



Written by johnwhays

November 12, 2021 at 7:00 am