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  • I’m sitting here in my usual Saturday morning contemplation. I have too many choices arrayed before me. I consider them over this first cup o’ joe.

    It’s a beautiful, coolish morning, after last night’s deluge. The temp has come down about 10 degrees from what it’s been lately. I could go out back with “joe”, some water, and my kindle in its super-tank-waterproof-protective-case (been through 4 or 5 kindles) and ease into the Jacuzzi for my morning reading/contemplation/meditation time. Or, I could do that in my sky chair swing on the carport, then go for a nice Saturday morning bike ride along the W & OD trail that runs right down below us here. Or, I could just go crawl into my cave downstairs, and catch up on Cowbird. I haven’t had the time to do nearly the daily reading I normally do there, and I have several stories banging around in my head, clambering to get out of there and down on paper and up on Cowbird.

    Too many choices this early. Let me take another sip of coffee and contemplate. I like the bike option, but I can’t think about it too long, 'cause if I do, it will get too late to do it right. On a Saturday, when the temperature is right, you gotta get out there early, or you deal with some serious traffic congestion. Yes, even the W. & O.D. Bike Trail is not immune to the DC Area traffic congestion issues. In its case, we’re talking walkers, joggers, other bikers, skaters, all out doing the healthy thing along the ol’ W. & O.D. I don’t get out there nearly as much as I’d like to.

    The W. & O.D. is the old railway for the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad. Back in the 60’s or 70’s, they turned it into a bike trail. In one direction, you can take it all the way into DC, and I have. Takes about an hour and a half to get there, and about 2 – 2 ½ hours coming back. The last several miles going there are all downhill, but coming back you pay the price. In the other direction, you can go all the way to Pittsburgh, between the W. & O.D. and other trails that it connects with. I haven’t taken it all the way to Pittsburgh….yet! There’s a whole network of trails out there. A whole world I haven’t yet explored, but eventually plan to.

    As for this morning, I haven’t made it out of my comfortable easy chair in my cave, yet. Sometimes, it’s as much thinking about life as it is living it. I usually prefer the living it part, and then thinking about it afterwards. Recapping. Exploring the connections. All of that.

    That’s where I don’t quite understand, or get, the whole Virtual World experience thing. Not that I don’t think it’s probably cool as all get-out - I am quite sure that it is. If people like Alex and Fred and Jaga get so much out of that experience, as they all report that they do, I have to consider that there must be something to it, and I do. I just don’t get it. Might be another new world to explore, someday.

    Much as I enjoy thinking about things, and creating word-pictures and connecting things in my mind, there’s still this larger part of me that just needs to get out there and live my life, feel it, experience it, physically, be in the mix, get knocked the hell down by life at times, dust myself off, lick my wounds, and pick myself back up. Thus, my love for softball. (Yeah, Katie, you smelled this one coming!)

    I played Thursday night and last night. My legs have an ache that won’t go away, especially my right knee area. Thursday night, I was stretching a single into a double, and picked the worst possible time to get indecisive about whether I was going to go in standing up, or slide. I would up sliding, but just a tad too late. The infield dirt didn’t have a whole lot of give to it, and my right leg didn’t feel like sliding along with the rest of me, which resulted in the ugliest slide you’ve ever seen (until Erik did an even uglier looking one later coming into third base – I thanked him for getting me off the “ugly-looking-slide” hook). I was safe, but only because they decided to throw the ball home to try and nail the lead runner. When I came up short of the bag, I kind of crawled to it, and when they threw the ball away, the third base coach is yelling “go to third, go to third”, and I was sitting there on second saying, “F*** you, I’m sitting here for a minute”, the second baseman and shortstop getting a good laugh about that.

    But, I love these aches and little pains softball creates. They tell me I am living – physical reminders that I’m out there, doing it, defying the old age odds, mixing it up with these 20- and 30-somethings on the field of play, and holding my own. God knows, if I thought I could do it without causing some permanent damage, I’d be out there playing tackle football still, for the same reason. Unfortunately, that’s one thing that my age will not allow. When I thought I’d broken a few ribs after playing tackle without equipment at age 29, I retired from that sport.

    Last night, it started pouring rain 5 minutes before our first game was scheduled to start. The umpire consulted the league office, with their Doppler weather monitor, and announced that we would play when this little outburst let up. And, we did. Got the first game in, between intermittent rain delays, and the field remained playable througout. Steve had me playing shortstop, which I haven’t played much of this year. I was dialed in at the plate all night, raking line drives to all fields. After circling the bases about halfway through the game, it occurred to me that I had forgotten to take my inhaler before the game. Of course, Liz was sitting right there when I finally took it. “I thought I heard you wheezing out there, Pete. You need to remember to take that!” Liz is the one who first detected my asthma, in a dugout diagnosis that proved to be right on. She’s a nurse, and knows her stuff.

    Right before the second game started, the deluge arrived. Within 2 minutes, we were in a lake. The Ump called the game off, but we were there, in the lake, and our cars were hundreds of yards away in the parking lot. We tried finding shelter in the dugouts, but there was no avoiding it – the dugouts filled up with water, the rain kept coming, and so I just grabbed my gear bag, my cooler bag, and started trudging through the lake and the downpour. Made a stop halfway at the rest rooms, then realized “Dang it, I forgot to pack my bats in my bag!” Had to trudge back, through the deluge and the lake to the dugout, several folks trudging the other way helpfully letting me know, “Forgot your bats, Pete” – yeah, thanks guys. Then, Steve comes walking along with them, and says “I woulda brought them to ya, Pete.” Yeah, I shoulda known ya would.

    Made it to my car, feeling very much like a drowned rat, soaked to the bone, still having to change out of my cleats into my sneaks, fortunately I just happened to have a dry T in my car to change into. A real mess….and yet, I wouldn’t trade that night for anything. Here’s my thing – I just don’t see how I would have that experience in a virtual world? I just like the whole physical experience of life. I need to feel it. There was some little kid out behind our dugout, just having a ball playing in the rain and the mud-puddles, rolling around in it and doing what kids do.

    Maybe I just never want to grow up. Well, this is my last shot – think I’ll go hit the W & O.D., while the hittin’s good.

    (Photo taken by Maryrose Bridgeman with my old Polaroid, of me hamming it up with a flying football catch)
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