Trick or Treat! And other nonsense…

Oct 31, 2019   //   by bwilber   //   Bob's Blog  //  Add a Comment

‘Tis indeed All Hallows’ Eve, better known as Halloween. I shall not be wearing a costume tonight, unless you consider me dressing up as Bob Wilber to be a costume. That’s one I wear every day. I shall also not be watching baseball. That realization hit me around the 7th inning of Game 7 last night. “This is it. No more daily doses of my favorite game until next spring.” This is when we start the countdown for when pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. It’s a tough pill to swallow all in just a matter of a few innings, and it’s a long winter ahead.

As I’ve stated, I did not have a horse in this race. I have great admiration for the players and coaches on both teams. But, as a lifelong fan and a longtime player, I can tell you that losing Game 7 like that, having a two-run lead going into the seventh and then seeing it disappear in a flurry of runs, and then watching your season come to end, that’s way harder than losing 10-0 and never coming close to scoring. Those games you just file away. Being ahead for six and then getting bombed hurts. The Astros won’t soon forget it. They may never forget it. It’s tough. I realize our 1977 SIUE Cougar Baseball squad was only in the NCAA Div. II World Series, but we were handily leading each game only to get caught and beaten in the late innings. It’s crushing.

The Nationals, on the other hand, will definitely never forget it. Right there, in the final three innings of Game 7, they showed what they have displayed all season. The ability and desire to never quit. It was impressive. Both teams were impressive. Zack Greinke and Max Scherzer were beyond impressive, and I’m sure the second-guessers are still wondering why the Astros pulled Greinke in the seventh with only 80 pitches and no sign of losing his command. He was masterful. I wonder about that, too. The bullpen obviously did not do its job. It’s not like they had to save him for Game 8. As for Scherzer, he’s obviously a warrior. He earned every bit of it, and if you saw the postgame stuff he was really emotional about it. Both guys left it all out there, I just think Greinke should have been left in a little longer. My 2-cents.

That Nationals win was for any of just old enough to have been a fan of the Washington Senators before they moved to Texas. It was for the more senior type of citizens who remember the first Washington Senators, before they moved to Minnesota. And it was for the wonderful Montreal Expos fans, who had their team yanked out from under them and relocated to Washington, to become the Nats. Somewhere, Youppi is crying. They might be tears of joy, but maybe not. And if the Youppi reference makes no sense to you, it’s easy to Google.

I’m figuring 90 to 95 percent of this will be ours to consume after tonight. (Click on any image to enlarge)

OK, back to Halloween. I think we have 36 or 37 houses in our development here in Woodbury. I should know that number, since I was on the Board of Directors for two years, but it escapes me right now. I do know this: Not one house in the immediate subdivision has a child living within it. This is a neighborhood for people who are empty nesters and who are downsizing now. We don’t like mowing the grass anymore, and shoveling the snow is not on our favorites list either. It’s an “older” neighborhood. Get off my lawn!

As you can see, I do have a bowl of mixed candy treats for any kids who come by. There may be a few. The neighborhoods near us, here in the master development that is broken up into subsections, are known as “traditional homes” because that’s what they are. Your house, your lot, your responsibility, so there are a lot of kids just a block or two away. They’re truly family neighborhoods. Whether those kids make the perilous journey over here to our gaggle of detached townhomes is always a question mark. The sure way to make sure they do is to not have any candy.

I made that mistake out in Liberty Lake once. Our first year there, we had a big bowl of candy and not one kid showed up. Again, demographically it was a much older neighborhood and it was gated. The next year, I was talking to the head of the HOA and she said, “Don’t bother. We won’t have any trick-or-treaters. We never do.” So I didn’t buy anything. And six kids came to the door. I had to apologize and tell them I was “all out” which was only a slight bending of the truth. I was never “all in” before that night. They looked at me crestfallen and in total disbelief. I still feel bad about it.

So, we’re fully stocked and will be prepared for the small chance we’ll have visitors. And then we’ll have plenty of leftovers to ration ourselves over the coming months.

It’s petite. Like a pumpkinette.

Do we have a pumpkin? Well, yes we do. Is it massive and creatively carved? Well, no on both counts. When Barbara’s sister Kitty was here over the weekend we went apple picking one day, and part of that was a hayride, and before we left the orchard we bought a small pumpkin. It’s little. It’s cute. It’s not carved. But last year we had about six or eight pumpkins on the porch and then had a hard freeze just a few nights later. Getting rid of those things was not only difficult, it was gross. So just this little guy. At least he signals “There’s candy here” to any costumed characters walking by.

We did have a wonderful time with Kitty while she was here. Lots of laughs, great food, and fun excursions. She loves coming up here, especially when we’ve cooled off but it’s still 90 in Orlando. Our 40s and 50s felt delicious to her.

And the fact she and Barbara hit the spa on consecutive days probably made it even more fun. Saturday was the big day, with the trip to Afton Apple Orchard starting it off. I’d never been there, and didn’t know it existed despite the fact it’s right by a golf course we’ve played a few times. I’ve never seen anything like it.

I guess you could walk the orchards from the main building after you check in and get your apple bags. You could do that. It would take you all day to see and pick half of it, but it’s theoretically possible. The entire property is phenomenal and almost too big to fathom.

Haven’t been on a hayride in a while. As in decades. Fun!

They have a table with samples of the various types of apples they grow, so you can cut a slice and see which ones you like the best. That allows you to concentrate on those selected parts of the orchard. That’s a good thing. Each variety has two or three rows of trees that are at least a half-mile long. They stretch on forever.

And to get out to the different rows of the various varieties, you ride the hay wagon. Much fun.

We made our choices and hopped on the wagon. When we got out to the two varieties we had agreed upon, we discovered a few things.

First, a lot of little kids come to the orchard. There were actually two school buses from Minneapolis in the parking lot. That’s a long drive in a school bus to hopefully pick some apples but I’m sure the kids had fun on that field trip.

Second, little kids tend to concentrate on the first trees they come to, so those trees were mostly bare. You have to walk deep into the row to start finding some trees with plenty of apples left on the branches.

Third, we were probably a week past the orchard’s prime. 90 percent of the apples were already on the ground and at least 70 percent of those that were still attached were split, or partially rotted. You don’t want those. The lady bugs can have them.

So, we persevered. We walked well down the rows and finally ended up with two bags full of perfectly good apples. I’d say we had 30 or more. And it was hard work. But it was fun!

All that’s left…

We had a busy night planned, so the next morning Barbara and Kitty got to work making two dishes of “apple crisp” which is also a thing I’ve never had, at least home-made. It was amazing. It was also last Sunday when this was created, and I just came down off the sugar buzz on Tuesday. Wow!

Then they made apple sauce, and I’m here to testify that real home-made apple sauce bears some resemblance to the stuff you buy at the store, but not much. It was also amazing. My wife and her sister can create masterpieces, and I told Barb afterward that just sitting in the room listening to them as they made this stuff was fascinating. Kitty is a really good cook, and could easily be a top-flight chef if she wanted to be. My line to Barbara was “I can’t believe she just knows all that stuff. I’d have to have five cookbooks open and I’d still screw it up, but she knew it all and knew the process, the order, and the cooking time and temp. That’s amazing.”

Obviously, the operative word here was “amazing.”  It was. We also had  picnic at a state park, saw two Bald Eagles up close, just staring down at us from a big utility tower, and then needed to get downtown for a wonderful dinner at Kincaid’s followed by the Wild hockey game, which they miraculously won. They’re not exactly, how do you say this… Good. They work hard, but they have a lot of veteran players near the end of their contracts and those guys are not nearly as fast as they used to be. Can I say it? The Minnesota Wild look old and slow, and that doesn’t fly in today’s NHL where speed is king. Oh well, we were lucky to see a 5-1 win and we had a great time.

I’ve also been making some solid headway on the new book, “How Far?” this week. I know it seems like it’s taking forever, but I’ve only been writing when the muse hits me and Thursdays are prioritized for this style of writing. The whole process has been fun, but I’m into the second half now and that’s a different kind of fun because the characters and stories are now intertwined instead of separate. You need to take your brain to a whole new level of writing to keep all that straight, but so far it’s been a fantastic thing. Character development is an art. I’m kind of learning it on the fly…

So it’s time for an apple. Am I crazy to love sliced apples with peanut butter on them? I don’t think so. I used to like caramel apples, but the caramel is so sticky and sweet. I love peanut butter (creamy only, please) and it’s the same sensation but it tastes better to me. Call me nuts.

I’ll be back next week with a full report on how many trick-or-treaters we had, if any. Will also keep a running inventory on how many leftover candies we have. We allow ourselves one piece of “Fun Size” candy a night, after dinner. I’m partial to Snickers and Reese’s Cups.

As always, if you perused this random series of words and appreciated the effort, please give me a shout-out by clicking on the “Like” button at the top. That’s like a cyber high-five, to me.

See ya.

Bob Wilber, at your service and now an expert on apple picking.


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