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Life During COVID-19

Posted on April 5, 2020 by under Life.    

I feel like I’m in the middle of a horror film. Never in my entire life did I imagine we would be living like this — fearing for our lives, unable to leave our homes. It feels like the zombie apocalypse minus the zombies.

Since I’ve been working from home the last two weeks and we’re not supposed to go out for non-essential activities, I’ve pretty much been stuck at home 24/7. It’s been driving me crazy. I’m so glad that Kirk and Alicia organized a ZOOM night for us. We’ve had two of these virtual get togethers since the start of the stay-at-home order and they’ve been my lifeline.

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Brian set ours up in the basement so we could connect the computer to the big TV and see everyone’s video better than we would on our tiny computer screen. He was so excited that we were actually the first ones on. Actually, we were both looking forward to it all week. We even got a special bottle of wine just for the occasion.

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In all seriousness, it’s actually a bottle of Sequoia Grove (one of our favorite wines). Brian just printed a funny label to put over it.

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It was a nice evening so Jay and Becca set up on their back deck.

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Clockwise from top left in the below pic: Alicia and Kirk, me and Brian, Jay and Becca, Jared and Hazel, Justin and Tina, and Marc and Reniece.

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On the first night, we were joined by our #CostaRica2019 #VacayWithJayJay pals plus a couple of friends of the Shorts – Jarred and Hazel. It was like a mini reunion.

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We played virtual Cards Against Humanity with the group and it was super fun. I usually get crappy cards but I actually got the perfect card to play for this round.

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Here’s another round that I won.

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We had another get together the other night. We were supposed to dress up like where we wanted to go after we are all set free from the travel ban and stay-at-home mandate. Only Alicia and I really participated though.

I wore one of my Sofibella pickleball outfits because going to play pickleball as soon as we regain our freedom to be around other people is first of my list of things to do. Alicia wore her “Corona Beach Party” shirt because the beach is her first stop. Having Corona on the shirt was perfect though, because Coronavirus is the reason we are all in this mess.

Brian considered wearing his Star Trek shirt because he said he wanted to be off-world, but he was lazy and just stayed in his robe. He rationalized it by saying that’s what one of the characters wore in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

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Here’s the group from the other night. We were minus Tina and Justin and Jarred and Hazel but still have enough people for games.

We played Cards Against Humanity again, which Brian won, and then also some Pictionary. Pictionary was really challenging but a lot of fun.

Oh, I forgot to mention Alicia’s sister AJ joined us both times too. Her husband who is currently stationed in Las Vegas got off work too late for us to meet him the first time but he was able to join this time around. He seems like a nice guy. Hopefully we can meet him in real life when we all get through this.

For our next ZOOM social we’re celebrating a bunch of birthdays — virtually of course. So we’re moving the event from Friday night to Saturday night. I may not have Zumba and pickleball anymore but at least I have one thing to look forward to each week. Alright, everyone hang in there. Stay heathy and safe. GNG.

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My Final Days of Freedom

Posted on March 28, 2020 by under Hobbies.    

I tried to get as much playing in as I could in the weeks leading up to the 30-day stay-at-home mandate in Sedgwick County. Several of our usual haunts had already shut down and there were only a couple of places left to play.

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I played at Hoops, which isn’t even a place I would normally play at, a couple of nights. One night with the guys and then the next night with my girlfriends.

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The night I was out with the girls, we decided to go to Stearman Field for dinner after. Here’s a fun #SocialDistancing pic that we took out on the patio.

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Here are some pictures of dinner.

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It was a Thursday night, a week before things got really serious. But even then, we were being very careful. We disinfected the balls carefully between games, sanitized our hands, and practiced good social distancing.

The next day, I spent six hours at Nahola. I had my final one-on-one training with Chris, played the Friday night open play from 5-7 PM, and then played in Debbie’s 7-9 PM private game. I was trying to squeeze every bit of pickleball I could play, fully expecting that my days of playing were numbered.

Nahola followed the other gyms and eventually closed also but they honored our reservations for the weekend. On Saturday I played with Debbie, Cameron, and Tommy and then on Sunday I played with Debbie, Tiffany, and Amy. I had a great time but it was bittersweet because I knew these were going to be my last games. We knew that it was only a matter of time before a 30-day stay-at-home order would be issued for our community.

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The best thing about playing that weekend was running into Lori Belew at Nahola. She gave me her Mid-South tournament shirt. I was so thrilled. She’s one of my pickleball idols and to have something that came from her felt truly special.

The funniest thing to happen that weekend was when Tommy, Debbie, and I went to grab a bite at Merle’s after pickleball. Donnie and Tiffany happened to be there. They were already seated at a booth when the server asked if they were waiting for their pickleball friend to show up. They were regulars at Merle’s because this was a favorite spot after Friday night pickleball. I had never gone with them because I usually go straight home after.

Anyway, the server told them that their friend (Debbie) just walked in with her two kids (me and Tommy). That was hilarious! We had a kick out of it.

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Here’s a picture of my club sandwich that day. It was delicious. It had been over ten years since I had been to Merle’s. My friend Jan first introduced me to the restaurant and we went there a few times for lunch back when we worked together. I had also been there a couple of times for bar poker years ago (back when bar poker was thing) but Brian doesn’t remember it. There were several restaurant closures in the last month. Merle’s was one of the few places that remained open.

The five of us had a great time eating and visiting. This was the last time I got to spend time with Tommy, Donnie, and Tiffany. I know I’m being overly dramatic but I really miss playing pickleball and I really miss my friends.

Debbie and I made plans to do some drills on Monday night but something came up and so I didn’t play. We did get together for drills at Seneca Park on Tuesday night. We ran into Dave and Lori Belew and they were just hitting back and forth. They weren’t expecting anyone else so the four of us ended up playing together. They even gave us pointers and feedback. It was so much fun. That was the last time I played pickleball because the next day the 30-day stay-at-home order for Sedgwick County officially started.

It’s only been four days since my last pickleball game but it feels like four months. I think the situation is exacerbated by the fact that I’ve been working from home for the last two weeks. I haven’t been out of the house since the stay-at-home order began and I’m absolutely going nuts. I am so ready for all of this to be over and for things to return to normal. Until we are all free again. GNG.

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Meeting the Legendary Jack Oxler

Posted on March 20, 2020 by under Hobbies, Life.    

Jack Oxler is a name that comes up quite frequently in our little pickleball community because the Wichita people are so very proud of Jack and legendary achievements. When I first started playing and had the opportunity to meet and play with some of the more seasoned pickleball players they would always ask, “Do you know Jack Oxler?” Immediately followed by, “You need to meet him.”

I’ve actually wrote about Jack before without even meeting him. It was about a year go at Chicken N Pickle when I met one of his friends. So many people know Jack because he used to live in Wichita before moving to Kansas City. Even though he doesn’t even live here, his name comes up a lot. Matt Wright, one of the biggest names in pickleball, even mentioned him during a Q&A at Chicken N Pickle a few months ago. Currently Jack is the Director of Pickleball and one of the teaching professionals at the Kansas City Chicken N Pickle. I didn’t think I’d ever have the opportunity to meet him unless I made a trip to KC for a pickleball lesson.

But then fate intervened. A few weeks ago Aaron Trost, the former head of pickleball at the Wichita Chicken N Pickle, moved to San Antonio to run the pickleball program at that new location. They hired Michael Harris to replace him and brought Jack Oxler down to Wichita to train the new guy and show him the ropes. Jack offered some lessons while he was in town. Of course, they were all during the day from Tuesday through Thursday and, when Michael first posted the info in our Facebook group, none of the times worked.

On Tuesday I found out that my lunch meeting on Wednesday got canceled so I actually would have time to squeeze in a lesson but all of the appointment times were taken at that point. I still wanted to meet this guy in the flesh because tales of his pickleball and tennis prowess are legendary so I thought, even though I couldn’t book a lesson, I could still have lunch at Chicken N Pickle, meet him, and have him sign my special pickleball paddles. I didn’t want to go up there unannounced and unexpected, though. People already think I’m a weirdo. I didn’t want to provide yet another example of me being weird by going up to a total stranger and asking for his autograph. But then I recalled that, in his how we got started with pickleball story, Matt Wright also mentioned Chris Heck. Chis Heck is another local pickleball pro who is magnificent and happens to be my friend. I’ve been taking lessons from Chris since January and we have now officially moved into friend status and with him being my friend I asked for my first friend favor — to give Jack a heads up that I will stop by Chicken N Pickle at lunch because I’m dying to meet him.

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And so that’s how it happened. I finally got to meet the great and legendary Jack Oxler. And, I got his autograph on my paddles.

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He is much shorter in real life than I expected, even though I’d watched enough YouTube videos. I just assumed it’s because all the other players are super tall. I always had it in my brain that I would never be any good at pickleball because I’m not tall enough. Meeting Jack gave me hope. I can be amazing even with the height disadvantage. Of course, Jack is very talented and skilled so he’s in a special category but now I’m thinking maybe it’s not so bad being short. If I continue to learn from Chris (and Kayla and Lucy and others I’m taking pickleball lessons from) and work hard, I can compete with players at my level and maybe even beat them despite the height disadvantage.

I’m hoping that Jack will return to Wichita and offer some lessons again. If not, I’m hoping to make a trip out to Kansas City at some point to schedule a session with him. I just want to get his perspective — short person to short person. LOL.

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Jokes aside, some of my friends (Jenny, Amy, Beth, and Debbie) got to learn from Jack while he was here. I took some pics of their session when I was at Chicken N Pickle for lunch that day.

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A bunch of us got together for a group photo with Jack before I went back to work. From left: Beth, Jenny, Debbie, Jack, Tammy, Amy, Jack’s mom, and me.

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After their lesson, they all stayed and played some more pickleball. Of course, I had to go back to work before returning that night for the Intermediate Women’s Doubles League Tournament. I usually stay to watch the Competitive Men’s Doubles League. This was actually a record day for my friend Debbie because she stayed to watch the men play too. Their tournament lasted past 11 o’clock that night. She spent over 14 hours at Chicken N Pickle without ever leaving that day.

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Brian came out to livestream the league tournament that night. Debbie got this picture of us. I later realized that she got Jack Oxler in the background looking very James Bond (Daniel Craig without the tux).

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Here’s a better pic of us with Brian looking at the camera this time.

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It’s always great when Brian can come out to capture videos and do a livestream. You can watch some of the videos we captured that night in this post. But I digress, it was so great to finally meet Jack Oxler. I’m hoping it won’t be our last encounter. Until next time. GNG.

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Winter League Tournament

Posted on March 19, 2020 by under Hobbies.    

This is a picture of Bananas (left: Sammi and Tommy) and Bread & Butter (right: Kristina and Adam). They are the winners of the Monday night Intermediate Mixed Doubles league at Chicken N Pickle this season. Bread & Butter took first and Bananas took second. Cobra Kai (our team) unfortunately only took third despite a really great undefeated regular season. I guess you can’t win them all.

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Our first match was against Carpe Dinkem. It was easy enough. However, our second match was against Bread & Butter and, even though we beat them in the regular season, Kristina and Adam both came to win and played very well.

Here’s a video of our match against Bread & Butter. What sucked about this match is it was only our second one and it sent us into the consolation/opportunity bracket (otherwise known as the losers’ bracket).

Here’s how the match against Bread & Butter ended.

The downside of the losers’ bracket is instead of playing best two out of three games to 11 points, win by 2; we then had to play only one game to 15. We had fewer games and much shorter matches.

Here are a few of the opportunity bracket matches we had as we tried to claw our way back up to the winner’s circle.

We finally defeated all of the other losers and had to battle it out with Bananas for the opportunity to duke it out with Bread & Butter one more time. This time for the championship. We had beaten Bananas before and are fully capable of beating them but they got the better of us that night and beat us 15-12.

It was a really disappointing finish to an otherwise stellar season. I badly wanted to win the tournament so that we could say we were undefeated in the regular season and also the winners of our league tournament but we just couldn’t pull it off. I must not have wanted it bad enough. We ended up finishing in third place. (Better number three than number two, I suppose.) Bananas went on to duke it out with Bread & Butter (#FoodFight – JK) and Bread & Butter came out on top to win the league tournament. They went completely undefeated that night.

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In other news, the top two men’s doubles teams ended up battling it out for first place in the Competitive Men’s Doubles League on Wednesday night. Matt Conrad was out of town so his son Lakelin filled in for him. He was great too but Patrick Smith and Jamie Lynch ended up winning, which is what I predicted. I actually predicted the winner of every single match in the winner’s bracket and I only missed predicting the winner of three matches in the consolation/opportunity bracket. Needless to say, I smoked everyone in the bracket challenge. I even beat out Aaron Trost (the former league director) and Dan Leddy and they work there! LOL. The league winners each got $20 gift cards to Chicken N Pickle and my prize for winning the bracket challenge was a $50 gift card so I still felt like a winner. I would have liked to have won both (Intermediate Mixed and the bracket challenge). I knew my partner Renee and I had no chance in hell in Intermediate Women’s Doubles League so I’m not even talking about that one — LOL. It was a fun but sucky league season for me overall. I’m refraining from playing in any more leagues for the time being.

Anyway, let me leave with you three hours of amazing matches from the Competitive Men’s Doubles League. Enjoy!

Until next time. GNG.

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Jenni and Adam’s Wedding

Posted on March 18, 2020 by under Events, Family.    

I’ve been a little bit scatterbrained lately because I am utterly consumed by my pickleball obsession. Anyway, we forgot to put Jenni’s wedding on the calendar and I thought it was on a Saturday — like most normal weddings. I found out two days before that it was on a Friday, which happened to be my favorite pickleball night because I get to play for four hours non stop at Nahola. I usually try to get there shortly after 5 PM for the competitive open play from 5 to 7 PM and then I stay for the private group that my friend Debbie sets up from 7 to 9 PM.

Needless to say, I was not too happy about missing Friday night pickleball. However, it’s not everyday that your sister gets married so Brian and I opted to attend the wedding. I’m really glad we did because it was a beautiful wedding and I would have regretted missing it. Here are some pics…

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Oh, I did get my pickleball fix in on Thursday night thanks to my friend Mark. I whined on Facebook as soon as I found out I wouldn’t be able to play on Friday night because of the wedding and Mark booked a court on Thursday night. We got to play for a couple of hours at Chicken N Pickle.

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I love when things fall into place and I get to do everything without having to give anything up. Like the nights I can teach Zumba or Aqua Zumba and also play pickleball. This time, not only did I get to teach my Aqua Zumba class and then play pickleball after but I didn’t have to skip Jenni’s wedding the next day.

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One of the best things about weddings is seeing friends you haven’t seen in forever. After that, we met up with Jay, Becca, Mama Dill, Tina and Justin at the Port. Jay, Becca, and Mama Dill were at the wedding with us but weren’t quite ready for the party to be over I guess. So we went to karaoke night. Everyone had fun except for Brian. He hates karaoke. LOL. Until next time. GNG.

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