Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘friends

Meeting Judy

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Shortly after the first time I signed up to do this epic adventure of biking and camping for a week, I learned that a cherished coworker’s sister always did the Klobuchar ride. I’d never met any of my coworker’s family, but if they were anything like Bob, I couldn’t wait to meet them.

He was more excited than me about the potential connection, and spent a fair amount of energy drilling me on details of her name so that I would remember who I needed to seek out.

Of course, her name. Then, her husband’s name. Their last name, because it was her married name and different than his. He told me I could remember the last name because it was like a Minnesota Twins ball player’s name, only with an ‘S.’

He was seriously excited over the prospect of my meeting his sister on this trip. It was infectious enough that I became just as excited over the possibility.

However, there were a lot of other details I needed to think about. I had never done this kind of thing before. I was traveling with a teen neighbor whom I didn’t really know more than passing from his role as a part-time sitter for our kids. I was also perseverating over having the right gear and packing the right clothes, not to mention where to put everything.

Honestly, Judy’s name was not on my mind as Brian and I made our final visit to the car that first Saturday morning, prior to departing with our bikes. It’s a critical moment of the trip, because it’s the last time you will be anywhere near your vehicle for the rest of the week.

Take what you need, leave the rest. Ideally, stepping away fully prepared for what lies ahead.

As we walked our bikes between parked cars toward the swelling collection of other camping cyclists –all strangers, who would soon become friends– we came upon a couple going through their similar critical last moments with their vehicle.

In a flash of inspiration, upon noticing the man was using a 12V compressor to top off the air in his bike tires, I overcame my normal reticence to bother a stranger. I figured, we didn’t know anyone on this trip, so what better time to break the ice and get over the hump than to ask if we could use his electric pump for our tires, too.

Before I got to the end of my request, I saw that he was actually winding up the power cord to put it away. He was done using it. My brain quickly chastised me with evidence that my bad timing was the very reason not to bother someone you don’t know, blah, blah, blah.

I quickly apologized for inconveniencing him, but he just as quickly talked over my hesitancy and insisted it was no trouble. The awkward start had stumbled all over the more traditional polite practice of introducing oneself, so as we crouched over bike wheels and the buzzing pump, I thought to identify myself.

He responded, “I’m Ed Beckers.”

My eyes got big. I think he wondered what he’d said. My eyes got really big.

Knowing I had the upper hand, I played it for all it was worth. What were the odds?

“THE Ed Beckers!?” with increasing animated excitement.

Confused stare.

“Ed and Judy Beckers!!?”

A woman’s face peers around the car door at this maniacal stranger exclaiming her name.

My coworker’s sister and husband were the very first people we met.

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Written by johnwhays

June 18, 2017 at 6:00 am

Touring Today

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Image of the author captured during the annual June ride in 2009.

This morning, specifically, at the hour this is published today, I will be packing up my tent and preparing my bag for the luggage trailer. Our gear gets transported to tonight’s campsite by truck, allowing us to enjoy the luxury of riding with minimal added weight for the entire day.

It is the start of the 2017 Tour of Minnesota bike ride.

Since this is a vacation for me, I will be extending the break from my routine to include a pause in my daily blogging habit, but don’t for a minute think I would neglect to prepare in advance for posts to show up while I am away.

Similar to years past, when I have reposted a week of revisited “Words on Images” creations, or last year’s portraits of biking jerseys, I have created pre-scheduled posts to entertain you while I’m gone.

This year, as much for my sake as yours, I am going to revisit some of my history with this annual June ride.

Since today is the start of this year’s ride, I will go back to my start as a participant in what was then commonly referred to as the “Jaunt with Jim.”

The “Jim” was Jim Klobuchar, who at the time was a columnist with the StarTribune newspaper. I had been a fan of his writing for years, as well as a long-time cyclist with a curiosity about days-long riding and camping. 1994 happened to be the 20th year he was conducting these rides, which he convinced the StarTribune to sponsor.

Their promotion of the event caught my eye at a time I was ready to give it a try. With little needed effort, I talked a neighboring 16-year-0ld to accompany me for this maiden voyage.

We made a good travel pair, despite our age difference, which freed most of my attention for discovery of the new people and experiences on the ride. One of the main things I remember about that first ride was what glorious weather we enjoyed.

It being the 20th year of this event, the majority of participants seemed to be long-time veterans, which led to a wealth of stories from their archives about the trials and tribulations of carrying all their camping gear on the bikes in most of the earlier years, as well as the varieties of difficult weather they endured on multiple occasions.

In 1994 we had it easy. It was dry, with pleasant temperatures, and on the few days with wind, it was at our backs.

That helped to plant the seed of inspiration that led to our eventual return. However, the real kicker that sealed my fate of riding again with Jim’s group was the fabulous people we’d met that first year and the amount of fun they had together as a riding and camping community.

This amazing collection of people have become extended family for me. In the middle of June, I do everything I can to be among them again, no matter what the weather dishes out.

Tomorrow… Who is the very first couple we meet?

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Written by johnwhays

June 17, 2017 at 6:00 am

DejaVu Again

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With less than a week until I leave for my umpteenth annual Tour of Minnesota bicycling and camping week, planning is well underway. Surprisingly, we are also in the midst of planning for coverage to assist Cyndie with life and ranch chores while she recovers from a surgery.

With a totally unexpected speed usually associated with emergency procedures, the office of the orthopedic surgeon initiated an accelerated series of appointments leading to repair of Cyndie’s shoulder on Tuesday, just three days before I leave for my trip.

They got her fitted with a special sling to be used for days after the procedure, and on her way home she was able to squeeze in the requisite pre-op physical. Cyndie will be back on pain meds and placed on the disabled list for ranch management activities for weeks after her surgery.

And I will be on vacation for a week. Good luck with that.

It’s a bit distracting, trying to take a break from the routine, while faced with the knowledge my wife is unable to fulfill her own role, let alone cover for my absence.

The solution: Family and friends.

We wouldn’t be where we are today without them. Thank you, in advance, to all who are volunteering to take a shift covering our needs of Cyndie-care and animal care this week while I try to keep hours at the day-job and then leave for a week of vacation.

You’ll just love the chickens!

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Written by johnwhays

June 11, 2017 at 9:07 am

Objective Achieved

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Obviously, we have many objectives, and quite frankly –due in many ways to my lack of bringing projects to fruition– we have not achieved a great majority of them. However, if we were to focus on the dream of having chickens to scratch and spread piles of manure while eating bugs to help control pests… Objective achieved!

After dinner last night, Cyndie and I made a hay run to haul another pickup-load of bales from our latest supplier. We marveled over the phenomena of cultivating social capital to foster good will with the many service providers we have come to know in the area.

We are both intent on making the most of our limited time and work to maximize productiveness of the short hours available when I get home from the day-job. I squeezed in a couple of errands on the way home, including a stop at the repair shop that couldn’t identify any problem with the Kohler engine in my riding mower [grumble, grumble].

We settled on focusing his attention on the carburetor.

After squeezing in a very quick meal, we hustled to reach the hay farm at the appointed hour. Our new friend, Scott, entertained us with story after story while rolling bales perfectly into place for me to load. As I attached straps to hold down the bales, Scott tried a quick-fix to screw the rusted step-bar on the passenger side back onto the rusted frame, alas to no avail.

Then we chatted some more while half of me wanted to hustle home. The other half of me wanted to stay as long as he offered to visit. There have been very few, if any, interactions with folks that don’t involve some extended chatting. It’s really pretty precious.

It generates a social capital that we highly value. Projects can grow to take a fair amount of additional time, but the benefits of our interactions are always worth it.

The other errand I ran on the way home from work was to the implement dealer to see if they had any advice regarding the leaky gear box on our brush cutter. The last time I added gear oil, it seemed like it disappeared surprisingly fast. Then I spotted the dark wetness on the flywheel below and concluded the seals were bad.

An internet search on the subject was very entertaining. In classic form, I found multiple discussions where opposing views alternated with every other comment on discussion boards.

Corn Head Grease seemed to be a common recommendation. There were farmers who switched to grease over oil and hadn’t had a problem in 40 years. There were as many advisors who said absolutely don’t use grease, as it will move away from the friction points by the force of the spin.

Some wrote that they mixed oil with the grease to get the best of both worlds. The lubrication manufacturers strongly state one should never mix the two.

After twice scanning the offerings at the implement dealer, the clerk at the parts desk asked if he could help me find anything. At that same moment, my eyes landed on the answer to the question I was about to ask.

Farm oyl makes the very product I was hoping existed.

That’s one of those mini objectives, achieved.

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Written by johnwhays

June 6, 2017 at 6:00 am

Daylong Soaking

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In the hours that I had dreamed my friends and I would be enjoying the surrounding countryside from our bicycles, the atmosphere was crying cold tears. It was a cruel follow-up to the flash flooding we endured two days prior.

It rained and rained here yesterday. Sometimes waves of serious drops fell for a few minutes, but before and after them came a steady drool of H2O that mercilessly soaked an already over-saturated landscape.

Cyndie’s mud-swamped garden became more of a fountain of running water, moving her to proclaim the location a loss for her flowering vision.

We will contemplate a different spot for her dozens of perennial beauties, somewhere as eye-catching as that bend in the driveway, but not so directly in the line of drainage.

The afternoon lent itself to some serious power-lounging around the fireplace. I closed my eyes and happily entered dreamland on the couch, then woke up to do some virtual shopping and curious research on lawn tractors. I have found multiple ways to nurse along the used Craftsman tractor that we acquired with the purchase of this property four mowing seasons ago. I think it’s had enough.

I think the engine blew a gasket last Friday. Diagnosis and repair of this malady deserves someone more learned than me, and the time constraints I am facing. The grass cutting was only partially completed when the engine revved and the white smoke billowed. Growth is happening at maximum speed this time of year.

We’re gonna need a new mower fast. There is no shortage of water providing thirsty blades of grass with all they care to drink. The front end of our property needs mowing almost before I’ve finished the last rows at the back.

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The Unride

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So, today was to be the long-planned for warmup bike ride for the annual trip that happens in June. We’re doing mental preparation. The cold rain was enough to shut us down from putting ourselves through unnecessary misery.

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We ate, we laughed, we sat around the fire and soaked up each other’s glorious energy.

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The chickens were an attraction and the horses put on a pretty good demonstration of herd behavior for the morning audience.

I guess the non-biking camaraderie can count as preparation, because that is one of the major attractions of our week of biking and camping. Part of me can’t help worrying that dealing with this nasty weather is a form of preparing for what lies ahead. Instead, we are all preferring that I frame the rain and cold as happening now so it won’t need to happen later.

Come June, we are visualizing warmth, sunshine, and calm winds.

May it be so.

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Written by johnwhays

May 20, 2017 at 9:39 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Additional Steps

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You might think the title of today’s post refers to walking, after all the promotion we have done recently for our World Labyrinth Day event, but that’s just me being cute. The added steps to which I’m referring are in the realm of expanding the promotion of Wintervale Ranch and Retreat Center. We are slowly updating the pages of our Wintervale Ranch web site, and we have now launched into today’s world of social media.

If you are on Facebook, you can now follow Wintervale Ranch there, because we have our own page. That is where we will regularly share news on upcoming events and workshops.

Those of you willing and able could help us out in our quest to grow our online presence by “Liking” our page and sharing it with your Facebook world.

I’m told, this is how it works. We solicit others to like our page. Honestly, it feels a little contrived to me, but my sources have assured me this will be a familiar and accepted request to regular Facebook users. So, if it makes sense to you, we would love to grow a wide pool of followers from near and far.

“Relative Something” fans, do your thing…

And thanks, from Cyndie, me, and all of our animal family at Wintervale!

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Written by johnwhays

May 8, 2017 at 6:00 am