Al Batt: I hear their voices as I do play-by-play

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Echoes From the Loafers’ Club Meeting

This carpet is filthy.

How can you tell?

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I saw a clean spot.

Driving by the Bruces

I have two wonderful neighbors — both named Bruce — who live across the road from each other. Whenever I pass their driveways, thoughts occur to me, such as:

• You are getting old when people talk about you in front of you.

• There is a second wind. What is the exhaustion that follows the second wind called?

The cafe chronicles

The usual gang of nitwits had assembled for lunch. They were men who would eat anything to get to the pie.

“Black coffee or defibrillator?” asked the waitress. She chuckled long and hard.

One Loafer was so hungry, he abandoned utensils to eat his mashed potatoes and gravy, but not grousing.

The server added, “Oh, stop your complaining. I was baking pies before you were born.”

“I reckon this pie must have been one of those,” growled the diner.

That didn’t stop him from wearing the smile of someone enjoying a delicious pie.

Doing play-by-play

I was watching granddaughter play softball. The girls on both teams were exceedingly skilled.

I found myself doing the play-by-play in my mind. I endeavor not to mumble or even move my lips while doing so. Why do I do this? Because of the Milwaukee Braves.

I listened to Earl Gillespie and Blaine Walsh describe the Milwaukee Braves games on KDHL, 920 on the AM radio dial, for years. Joe Adcock or Frank Torre at first, Red Schoendienst or Felix Mantilla at second, Johnny Logan was the shortstop, Eddie Matthews manned third, Hank Aaron, Wes Covington and Andy Pafko patrolled the outfield, Del Crandall caught, and Warren Spahn, Lew Burdette and Bob Buhl were on the mound. An uncle gave me a cigar box so that I had a proper place for my baseball card collection of Braves players.

I kept score using a scorebook that I’d fashioned out of a notebook.

When I do my silent play-by-play of softball games, I hear the voices of Gillespie and Walsh.

Don’t tell anyone.

Shedding pounds

I addressed some holes in my game by going for a walk.

I encountered a friend who asked, “How much weight have you lost?”

I’d lost over 60 pounds of insulation. It wasn’t part of a Ponzi scheme. It was cancer.

He asked me if I was still working. I told him that I was doing some, but had to cancel 54 speaking and teaching gigs from May 11 to the end of the year.

That reminded me of speaking in McAllen, Texas, a few years ago. At the hotel I bloviated at, there was an Herbalife convention. Herbalife is a weight management company offering products sold by independent distributors. The hotel was filled with people bearing buttons reading, “Lose weight now. Ask me how.”

I’ve thought of procuring one of those buttons.

When my friend asked that question, I’d just completed a few days stay in the Albert Lea hospital. I shop local and hospital local. It would have been more fun being in the hospital had I not been there, but the staff was beyond nice. Most of my interactions were with nurses and nursing assistants. Without exception, they were kind, caring and competent. They listened. I was never unhappy to see them. There are more stars in the sky than I realized.

Is there any advice I could offer? Advice is as hard for me to give as it is to take, but here it is. Always remember that not being sick feels wonderful. Enjoy it and offer a kind word and a listening ear to those unable to enjoy good health.

Nature notes

On an expedition to the end of our driveway, I looked for birds, mammals, insects and plants. I stopped to investigate a gooseberry plant. I ate green gooseberries often when I was a boy. I didn’t have the patience to wait for them to ripen. I tried a green berry last year. It was so sour, it fused my toes together.

With much of the nesting season past, birds have quieted. Some are molting. Migration beckons. I could almost hear the Clash singing in the background, “Should I stay or should I go?”

Killdeer flew over. One called, “Killdeer, killdeer.”

Another cried, “Deer, deer.”

I figured the second bird was tired. I say “Uffda” often as a term for a sensory overload, but when I’m tired, I say just, “Uff!”

Meeting adjourned

Mark Christenson of Columbia Heights sent this, “Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.” — Albert Schweitzer