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  • I’m hard pressed to remember a finer first day of November than yesterday. Getting an extra hour of sleep was a great way to start. Then, I had a scheduled massage in town at a massage place we’d been wanting to check out. We both had massages scheduled, but Kathy came down with a cold on Friday, and had to cancel hers. I determined to make the most of mine for both of us. It hit spots I didn’t even know were there, so it met the challenge! As usual, I slept through a good half of it, but the dreams I had were quite interesting.

    Since it had been raining earlier, I couldn’t put all of our halloween decorations away. I’d gotten ambitious Saturday and dragged most of our halloween decorations down from the attic and put up those that were still working, which was enough to make for a spooky, (but not too spooky for the little guys), front yard and porch. It’s been a number of years since I’ve even had time to put them up. The last few years, we were too busy tending to extended family needs, or away on vacation right before halloween.

    I typically went overboard buying candy – I’m that guy who still believes that there’s nothing “fun” about “fun-sized” candy bars. I get the real thing – full sized, like they gave out when I was a kid. Call me “old school”. I always loved halloween, and try to make it truly fun for today’s kids. They all seemed to appreciate the yard art and real candy bars. We got more trick-or-treaters this year than in recent years, but I still had a ton of candy left. Looks like the folks at work are going to be putting on a few extra pounds! I’ve got half of it packed up and ready to take in, today.
  • None of the teams I like to watch play football were on T.V. (Steelers – my team; Redskins – I always like to watch them not live up to their hype, or live down to their negative hype; Eagles – my NFC team), so I decided to walk into town to get my hair cut. It was an ideal day for a walk, absorbing all the fall colors and smells as I strolled along. This “steps-counting” app on my phone has me choosing to walk a lot more, as I shoot for 10,000 steps a day. I managed close to 13,000 yesterday, for a total distance of 6.57 miles.

    While I was out picking up some take-out for dinner later on, Eric texted me asking if I knew anyone else who could play ball tonight – one of our ten cancelled. “How about Jack?” I’ll be playing against his team Thursday night, in my last games ever. Maybe I could play with him tonight in my penultimate games? He was supposed to play with another squad, but eventually discovered they had enough without him, so he filled out our roster for the night. As Jack said in a text back – “you’re either with me, or against me” – but I figured out how to do both!

    The setting for my penultimate night of my 11 year softball career couldn’t have been more appropriate. We played on a field at the far eastern edge of the county that I haven’t played on in years, but one I had played on a lot my first few years. It took me back, playing there again. As the evening progressed, huge banks of fog began to roll in from beyond the outfield to make it hard to even see the outfielders from the infield, lending the night an eerie feel, as a ball would leave the infield and disappear into the fog soup. It was hard to tell whether the outfielder had caught it or not. I was glad I wasn’t umpiring, that’s for sure!
  • I was catcher the first game, ringing up a lot of “steps” racing the batter down to first base, to back up the first baseman in case of an errant infielder’s throw. I love how it freaks them out, sometimes – this 60-something dude matching them step for step down the line, something they usually are not expecting. I managed a couple of solid line drive hits – not bad after a two month lay-off from playing. We managed to hang on to win the game by a single run, holding the opposition to one run in the last inning to seal it – not an easy thing to do in softball.

    In the second game, my finale with the Diamond Flames, I was playing in probably my 400th or so game with this team. (I've played a lot more than that with all the other teams I've played on, combined). The "Flames" were the first team I played with when I started playing organized ball again at age 50, and I managed them for ten years. Eric inserted me in the number 3 spot in the lineup, and had me play right field. The same lineup spot and position my childhood baseball hero, Roberto Clemente, played in.

    With all of the fog out there, I kept expecting Shoeless Joe Jackson to appear out of the woods beyond the fence, or maybe even Roberto himself. The grass was so wet from the rain earlier in the day, your feet were soaked by the 3rd inning, and when the ball landed on that wet grass, instead of bouncing, it just kind of slithered, as one ball did beneath my glove, but thankfully, Mike T. had my back in right center, and held the runner to a double. I misjudged another ball that sailed over my head, after I’d cheated in a little to dare the batter to hit one my way. I sure wasn’t doing Roberto justice with my play out there, but I did manage to make a nice grab on another fly ball that I almost ran too far in on, reaching out over my head and behind to make the routine look spectacular.

    At the end of the game, in which we lost by slaughter rule (down by 15 or more runs after 5 innings), after all the players had cleared the field, the memories had been recalled, and the Team Jersey signed by all the guys was presented to me, I tearlessly said, to no one but the empty field and the fog still rolling in from right field, “I’m the luckiest guy on the face of the earth.” And, I am.

    Yeah, November, which is my favorite, and the penultimate, month of the year, is off to a grand start!
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