A Classic Fall and The Fall Classic

Oct 24, 2019   //   by bwilber   //   Bob's Blog  //  Add a Comment

Greetings all, after another week has absolutely flown by. We didn’t go to any concerts this past week. Didn’t get on any airplanes. Didn’t really do much other than live a normal life, and it was great. It’s all going to spin out of control here soon, but that’s material for another few blogs. For instance, Barbara’s sister Kitty is flying in today to spend the weekend with us. That’s always good, because Kitty is a wonderful person who is up for anything, and that attribute means we usually come up with some fun stuff to do. Such as apple picking, which is on the agenda tomorrow. Then on Saturday, we have a dinner reservation at 5:00, at Kincaid’s in downtown St. Paul, and then we have three seats in the fourth row off the glass for the Minnesota Wild game at 7:00.

In the upcoming weeks, we’re headed to Dallas for my former PR colleague and all-time great buddy Elon Werner’s 50th birthday, which will be awesome. There will be cake, right? And while we’re there we’re having lunch with my longtime friend and former roomie Pete Delkus, and his wife Jacque. If you live anywhere near Dallas and watch TV, you should know who Pete is. He’s the chief meteorologist at WFAA TV. And a former professional pitcher. And a former Sauget Wizard, which is where we met many years ago. We stay in touch, and Pete wrote a wonderful foreword for my book “Bats, Balls, & Burnouts” but I honestly don’t recall the last time we’ve seen each other. And that means it’s been way too long. Looking forward to the whole trip.

After that, it’s the trip down to the St. Louis area to attend the “celebration of life” for departed friend Bob “Radar” Ricker. And after that it’s the Thanksgiving weekend trip to New York City to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Yet another thing I’ve never done in person before. As of right now, we have nothing on the schedule in December, but as you might guess that’s always subject to change. We’ll both be close to Diamond Elite with Delta by then, so maybe a quick “mileage accumulation” trip might be warranted. Who knows?

Fall colors are all over the place. (Click on any image to enlarge)

It’s autumn here, in all its glory. While I was on Kauai the whole place changed from summer to fall, and now it’s just a little past its peak for color. Still beautiful to look at, and hopefully the HOA contractor who handles the landscaping will wait until all the leaves hit the ground before they come and clean them all up. Last year they came on their appointed day but apparently didn’t allow themselves the leeway to adjust, and most of the leaves hadn’t fallen yet. Two weeks later, our yards were covered again. And yes, I know that letting the leaves just sit there over the winter is actually fantastic nutrition for the ground and the grass, but I’m not in charge of the HOA and a vast majority of the neighborhood likes them cleaned up. It’s a democracy, here in the St. John’s Village section of the Dancing Waters development.

We’re getting lows in the 30s at night now, and just today I was thinking that I’ve still got a number of winterizing projects left to do. There’s a slight chance for “plowable” snow early next week, and I don’t have any marker sticks in the ground. If the lows creep down into the 20s for a few days, I also better get the outdoor water spigots turned off and cleared out. I recall being late with that chore last year. And it’s the time of year to empty the hot tub, clean it, and refill it with 250 gallons of sparkling new water, so I’ll have to do that before I turn off the spigot. That water should get us through the winter, if I stay on top of the chemical balance. I’m pretty strict about that, because it’s not fun to drain the tub and refill it in the middle of the winter. Last but not least, at some point I’ll have to admit that summer is gone and put the winter floor mats in our cars. It’s all downhill from there.

Here at the ranch, our ongoing project with the back deck, the paver patio, and other things is still just that. It’s ongoing.

Al is here, working away…

As you might recall, when it got down to 27-below last winter, followed by waves of unseasonably warm weather followed by more crazy cold stuff, we had a lot of frost heave in the back. So much so that our grilling deck rose about 3/4 of an inch in one corner and we couldn’t open the screen door from the porch. Fortunately and thankfully, we work with two very reputable companies. Despite the fact we purchased this home seven years ago, our original home builder agreed to level the deck as a warranty item. And to do that, the great landscape company we worked with to build the paver porch, had to come out to take some of it apart so that the builder could adjust the way the footing works under the post that heaved up a little. Lots of coordination between two separate companies who both wanted to make good on the work they did.

The builder got the first part of their job done, and all that’s left is to put fresh lumber around the post and paint it white to match the others. Before that happens, Willow River Landscaping has to replace the pavers that had to be removed so that the new footing job could be done. It all has  to happen in order, and hard-working Al is here right now getting to work on that end of it.

So that footing. It’s apparently 60-inches deep. That’s pretty huge, but even at that size it couldn’t handle the cold and very wet winter. So here’s the trick the guys from McDonald Construction did. They jacked the deck up enough to trim the top of the post, leveling it back out. Then they dug out all 60-inches around the footing and put a heavy tube around it. They then filled the tube with pea gravel. Apparently this works. The gravel acts like ball bearings so that the post itself won’t raise up if we have any heave from the deep frost line. I have a hard time picturing how it works, but they said they’ve done this many times before and it really works. All I know is it’s a heck of a lot of hard work for guys who are all doing it as warranty work. Much appreciated, on my part.

My Big Fella, Buster.

Also here at the ranch, I can’t explain it but for some reason I’ve decided I like writing and working from the living room sofa lately, instead of down in my office. I think part of it is because Buster and Boofus like to hang out here with me. I finished another chapter a couple days ago and fired that off to my editor Greg, and my two assistants were never far away. It’s very calming to have these two nearby, even if Buster snores a lot. Like right now.

And, it’s an interesting time of year for sports, and I’m a sports guy (no, really?) Hockey season has started, the NFL is about seven weeks in, I think. College football is about halfway through their season, and the Timberwolves kicked off their NBA season in Brooklyn last night, beating the Nets by a point in overtime. And…  We still have baseball!

Even though the Twins were swept in the first round, at least they made the playoffs and they had a magnificent season that kept us on our toes and more than interested for months. As the World Series approached, I initially figured the Astros were a lock, just because of their starting pitching, but just before Game 1 the other night I looked at Barbara and said “I don’t know why, but I think the Nationals are going to win this thing. I just have a feeling.”

It’s just two games, but still it’s hard not to be impressed by the Nats. Yes, a number of teams have come back from being down two games to none, but losing those first two at home really makes it a lot harder for the Astros. They can do it. They are phenomenal group of guys, but everything favors Washington now. I have no horse in this race, and frankly would just like to see it go seven games, but I’ll be happy for either team that wins it.

Big Del circa 1970 with the prior Washington baseball team

And although I have really no connection to the Washington Nationals, I do very much have a connection to that stylized “W” on their hats and helmets. As seen in this wonderful old photo, my father was the bullpen coach for one of the last seasons in Washington before the Senators moved to become the Texas Rangers. I had that “W” on a lot of the stuff I wore, and used to draw it at the dining room table a lot. That was a wonderful summer, shagging fly balls in RFK Stadium. Balls hit by Frank Howard, Mike Epstein, Paul Casanova, and the rest of the Senators.

And then there’s our local soccer lads. Minnesota United is in their third year in Major League Soccer, and for the first two they were frankly, technically, “not very good,” especially on defense. This year they moved into their fabulous new stadium, Allianz Field, and improved so much it was hard to believe. They made the MLS playoffs for the first time, and although they lost that first playoff game and were eliminated by L.A. Galaxy, they really turned the Twin Cities on in terms of attendance and TV ratings. They sold out every home game. And within the last week two of their players were named best in the league at their positions. Ike Opara as MLS Defender of the Year, and Vito Mannone as MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. Minnesota United is now a major part of the Twin Cities sports scene. This season was a lot of fun.

Barbara is headed for the airport now, to pick up Kitty. Tonight they’re meeting a few of the other Woodbury women for Happy Hour. I’ll more than likely have the NFL on, since the Vikings are on Thursday Night Football. Gosh, are sports a huge part of my life or what? I don’t really think it’s a bad thing.

The Little Man took over the pillow

And to be fair to my little guy, here’s a cute shot of Boofus to wrap this up. Barbara put a little decorative pillow on the railing where the steps lead down to the lower level, as a sign to me that I should take it down there the next time I head for the man cave. Except Boofie thought it was put there just for him, as a comfy little bed. He’s too much. Love both these fuzzy guys to death. They give us a great amount of joy and love.

So this one was pretty much your standard “a whole lot of nothing” blog, but that’s probably better than no blog at all. And now you know more than you ever wanted to about frost heave, deck posts, and footings.

As always, if you enjoyed this installment (and how could you not when both Buster and Boofie make appearances) please click on the “Like” button at the top. If I get enough “Likes” I can buy them some new treats…

See you next week!

Bob Wilber, at your service and on the living room sofa.



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