Adversity, And Then Time For Some More Travel

Feb 13, 2020   //   by bwilber   //   Bob's Blog  //  Add a Comment

It is the middle of February. Not sure what else to expect. (Click on any image to enlarge).

Welcome back, frozen faithful and all you others who are someplace where it’s nice and warm. This might be a bit of a short one today (you’ll understand that when I get to the second part of the “adversity” topic) but we have some ground to cover. Yes, it’s the middle of the afternoon and we haven’t gotten up to zero degrees yet. That’s not really adversity, I guess, but it’s certainly something that has an impact on what you do and where you do it. Tonight, we’ll be back down to -16 or lower again, but we have a rapid warm up scheduled for Friday into the weekend. We may hit 35 on Saturday, and compared to this deep-freeze that will seem balmy. You will, indeed, see Minnesotans running errands in shorts or light jackets.

We are getting there, in terms of the overall seasonal weather, though. The days are getting longer, and now it’s no longer totally dark just after 4:00 pm. Sunset is now closer to 5:45, and I noticed yesterday that the sun is shining into different parts of the living room and dining room, as we approach the Vernal Equinox in just about a month, and the tilt of the planet shifts the sun’s perceived location in the sky. All of that is good. More sun means more melting and warmer days. A higher sun means more melting, too. At some point, even if we do get those pesky April snow storms (don’t say “blizzard”) it goes away pretty fast because we have so much more sunshine.

Current conditions in Woodbury, Minn

And Spring Training has started, so that’s the surest sign that another winter has its days numbered. We’ve had a couple of snow storms recently that added to the total on the ground, but the new company our HOA has contracted with for snow removal has been doing a great job.

They have a  team of people with regular shovels to clear our walkways and porches. They have one guy with a walk-behind snow blower for the sidewalk. And then there’s the talented dude who drives the tractor for our driveways. It can pull snow away from our garage doors, with a big “box” attached to it, and it then acts as a giant snow blower to clear the rest of it away. They can do the entire neighborhood in just a few hours, although they usually wait until the snow has stopped before they get started. They also try to time it so that the Woodbury city crew has plowed the street before they do our drives. Otherwise, they clear our driveway and then the city trucks plow us back in with the big equipment. It’s working out well. We haven’t always been pleased with the contractors the HOA has hired, but this group does a great job.

So there’s that, but I also have a more immediate adversity story to tell. Barbara is in New York and Baltimore this week, so I had a ton of errands to run yesterday. When I was at the grocery store, stocking up on my bachelor provisions, I remember thinking “Hmmm. My stomach doesn’t feel so great” but I ignored it and passed it off. When I got home, around 4:00-ish, I was feeling pretty sketchy but I had a lot to unload and put away so I just kept going. Once I had all that done, I think my body and brain conspired to say “OK Slick, now we take over.” It was pretty awful for more than a few hours. Luckily for me, it appears all I had was a little 24-hour bug and today I’m feeling much better, other than the part where I feel like I got hit by a truck.

After the really bad part, I had a feeling I’d have a hard time sleeping. I still felt terrible. That can be a really hard thing when both Barbara and I are here because neither one of us likes to put the other out when we’re not feeling well. Generally, one of us will “go into quarantine” in another room when the other is sick. Being here alone wasn’t any fun, but at least that meant I could utilize one of my go-to routines when sleepless nights happen. At any time, I could switch to a “change of venue” in the house to see if I could fall asleep there. Whether it was the master bedroom, the living room sofa, or even the home theater downstairs, I could change where I was without worrying about bothering her. That helps from a mental perspective.

I’ve been a lifelong insomniac, and I’m not using the “lifelong” term loosely. Since early childhood, I’ve often had a hard time going to sleep. It used to drive me crazy when my sister Mary and I would be told to go to bed and she’d be sleeping as soon as her head hit the pillow. Even as a seven or eight year old, it was common for me to toss and turn, and then get very frustrated, until after midnight! Insomnia is not fun.

But when I’m alone, I can just chill out. No need to worry about waking up sister Mary, or any other roommate I’ve ever had. No need to worry about bugging Barbara when she really needs her sleep because work is so demanding. So the whole “frustration” part of it chills out a lot. I know I was awake last night until at least 4:30, but I just relaxed and didn’t worry about it. That makes it bearable. And I did change venues a few times, just to see if that would help. Around 4:00, I was laying there and I actually felt my stomach feeling better in a hurry. It’s was noticeable, and a huge relief. I know there’s a stomach flu going around that puts people down for a week or more, so once I started feeling better I put it all aside and went to sleep. I didn’t sleep great, but at least I got some.

And here’s what you hear late at night and into the morning when it’s -12 outside. A lot of house noise. Pops, groans, creaks, and other stuff I couldn’t identify. It was 35 degrees as late as noon yesterday, but the bottom dropped out of the temperature and the house was reacting to that. When you’re up until after 4:00, you hear it all. Boofus and Buster lifted an ear once or twice, but I guess they’ve heard it all by now.

As for the insomnia, I once saw a specialist when I was living in Kansas City running the indoor soccer team there, and he gave me a ton of advice on having bedtime routines. You have to follow them, and the worst thing you can do is just say “I’m not tired, but I’m going to bed now.” Once that first doubt creeps in that you’re not falling asleep, you’re toast. I know it’s hard on Barbara that I feel the need to follow those routines, but I really have to. I have to be totally tired and nodding off before I go to bed. No TV in the bedroom! And no iPhone in hand once in bed! Usually, I can go right to sleep, but last night was way more physical than mental, so I just rode it out. Now I’m feeling a lot better.

Father Bailey. A truly great man.

And the last mention of adversity has to do with the man in this photo. This is Father Bailey, who was President and Principal at St. Louis U. High when I went through that amazing school. He passed away back in 2006, but today was the anniversary of his passing and the school sent out a social media blast so that we could all remember him.

I wrote about this in my book “Bats, Balls, & Burnouts” but it’s great to put a face to the story for all of you now. When I got to SLUH, I struggled with the advanced curriculum and very difficult classes. The Jesuits were fair, but they were tough and they demanded a lot from us. Frankly, much of it was over my head, and I came as close to flunking out my freshman year as you can come. I’m sure, looking back on it, I had A.D.D. and that didn’t help when the classes were really tough and really dry. Father Bailey had a HUGE impact on me. He saw something in me that most of my teachers did not. He believed in me. He knew I had a lot of talent in some areas, but would never be a master of math and science.

When I was at my lowest and about to give up, he said, “I believe in you. You’re smart. You can do this. I want to ease you into a curriculum that better addresses the terrific skills you have. Anyone who can write and communicate, and take over a room like you can, probably isn’t going to need all this advanced trigonometry and calculus. I doubt you’ll need much in terms of physics and other advanced science. Let’s make you the best at what you’re meant to be.”

Within months, I’d raised my grade point average to a solid B+ and it stayed in the B+ to A- range until I graduated. A lot of those other teachers dismissed me as an underachiever in their particular classes, and I guess I was. Father Bailey spotted something in me and refused to let me fail. He changed my life. He was a great man. He was special.

And now what about that mention of travel?

We haven’t been doing a ton of that since Thanksgiving, but it’s about to ramp up again in a big way. First, by the end of this month we’ll be heading to Florida for a week. First stop Orlando, to see the gang there and the Twincesses, who are growing up so fast it’s hard to fathom. Then, Barb and I will head down to Fort Myers so that she can see her first-ever Spring Training game. We’ll be at the Twins home game on the first day down there on the Gulf Coast, and then will make the trip up to Bradenton so she can see that classic ballpark and her hometown Pirates, before heading back home from Fort Myers. Sounds like fun to me!

After that, a quick trip out to Denver to see all the Doyles out there, especially niece Erin, her husband Eric, and their adorable little girl Maci, who was basically still not much older than a newborn when we last saw her. Looking forward to seeing the whole gang out there. It’s always fun, although this trip will be short. I think Barb’s sister Kitty might be coming out as well, which is great.

And then the big news. (Drum roll please…)

It’s cat-sitting time again in Kauai!!!  Mary texted me the other night about their plans to come to the Mainland to see kids and grandkids, and asked if I’d be interested once again. I could barely type “Sure!” fast enough. It’ll be the end of April into the middle of May, and not only is Barbara coming out for the final week but one my nieces, Mary and Lonnie’s daughter Lauren, is as well, with her boyfriend. They’ll cat-sit once they get there and we’ll move over to the Sheraton across the road, but it will be fabulous to spend time with Lauren and get to meet her guy. I’m such a giver. Family asks me if I could possibly do them a huge favor by coming over to Kauai and I never hesitate. I mean, you have to be there for them, right?

So that’s about it. I need a nap. I never did get the license plate number off that truck that hit me last night. Feeling way better now though, so I’m thankful for that.

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See you next week! Now time for that aforementioned nap…

Bob Wilber, at your service and really now understanding how important Father Bailey was to my life.


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