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Birthday Dinner for a Pretty Lady

Posted on October 23, 2020 by under Food and Drink.    

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We joined our #VacayWithJayJay pals last weekend at Abuelo’s. We had dinner in honor of Reniece’s 42nd birthday.

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Here are some pictures of our food.

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I think we had 24 or so people that night. They already had another 20 top in the patio so we had to sit inside. We couldn’t all sit together but they put us in the same section, just in separate tables. It worked out just fine. It was great catching up with our vacation buddies. Also great to enjoy Abuelo’s food again. It’s been a while.

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Breakfast at the Beacon

Posted on October 20, 2020 by under Food and Drink.    

We couldn’t do our normal Saturday morning Queen of Courts play last weekend because there was a Wichita Cancer Foundation pickleball tournament/benefit event at Chicken N Pickle. We would have been able to play outside like when the Sons of Pitches rent out the entire indoor facility for their corn hole tournaments but it was super windy on Saturday. We ended up canceling our play time.

I am so addicted that I couldn’t go without playing so I ended up going to Nahola that morning. Karen met me there. It was actually really fun. I finally got to play with Ryan Wolf after not having seen him for months. Also met and played with Zach Nguyen (Matt Nola’s men’s intermediate league partner) for the first time. It was a fun change of pace from my usual Saturday morning routine.

I was starving after pickleball so Karen and I met Brian and Brooke at the Beacon for brunch. I hadn’t been there in forever. The food is great and reasonably priced. It really should be a regular spot for us. I think we just forget about it because of all the other great breakfast options we have around town.

Here are some pics of our food…

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I don’t know why I bothered taking a picture of Brian’s biscuits and gravy. They’re usually not much to look at. LOL.

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Everything else looked good and tasted just as good as they looked. I ate way too much. Anyway, my most favorite part is my hot chocolate topped with gobs of whipped cream. I love their hot chocolate at the Beacon.

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That’s all for now. Until next time. GNG.

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Sunday Fun-Day at CNP

Posted on October 16, 2020 by under Hobbies.    

I had the worst time at open play last Sunday but the rest of the day was good. Every now and then I will run into people who I absolutely hate playing with. This was the case last Sunday. We were doing winners stay and split format so then, on the next game when me and my partner split, and I ended up having to play with this guy who refused to stand at the non-volley zone (NVZ aka kitchen) whenever I was receiving. Whenever he was receiving, I would stand at the NVZ line like a normal person. Whenever I was receiving, he would stand clear back behind the baseline with me. So then after my return, we would both be running up to the NVZ which is the most moronic thing ever. I had no idea if he just learned to play that morning or what so I urged him to stand right behind the NVZ line a couple of times. Both times he just brushed me off and said, “I got this.” Maybe he was offended that I dared to tell him where to stand? Guys can have huge egos that are easily bruised sometimes. Anyway, I have no idea but it was more than just annoying — it frustrated the shit out of me. So finally I tried to explain why he needed to be at the NVZ line when I’m receiving — basically so that if the open that has a third shot that floats too high, he can just smash it and end the point instead of us both still running up and getting caught in the transition zone (aka no man’s land). I flat out told him he was giving up our advantage by standing behind the baseline every time I was the receiver. His response was, “Is there a rule that says I have to be up there? What if I’m better back here?” Well, everyone has a different playing style but there is a specific strategy to pickleball. And, I have to admit, it was at that moment that I judged him.

There are players who are just starting out and may not be familiar with the rules or strategy of the game but then there are players who have been playing a while and think they know how to play but they actually play like an idiot. And his response told me he belonged in the second bucket and I didn’t want to play with him after that. If he wanted to play like an idiot then he could find other players who wanted to play from the baseline him. As for me, I wanted to play pickleball and so I missed every single shot I had including my serves just so I could get the game over with and play with a normal person as my partner instead of this guy who thinks he’s playing pickleball but he’s really not.

There are people I do not enjoy playing with (like people who bang everything and won’t make an effort to drop the ball even though their strategy is clearly not working) but never have I ever gotten so frustrated with someone that I threw the game. Until that day. I think I was more frustrated by the fact that I actually tried to help. Had I not made an effort and been summarily dismissed, I probably would have been completely unaffected. Or maybe I got up from the wrong side of the bed that day and I was just in a stinkin’ bad mood. Who knows? But it was nothing that a few mimosas at Brunch and Bingo couldn’t fix.

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My friend Karen came out to Chicken N Pickle partway through bingo to have lunch so we ended up staying for part of the Chiefs vs. Raiders football game. We shared a table with a lovely couple, Zach and Abigail, who I had actually met months before when I talked them into taking my Aqua Zumba class at VASA. This was before the pandemic. They were at the pool swimming laps (practicing for a triathlon) when it was about time for my class and I convinced them to stay and try Aqua Zumba.

I don’t always recognize people out of the gym and most specially if I meet them at the pool because their hair is often either put away or in a swim cap and people always look different with their hair done. Anyway, after sitting and chatting for a bit, Abigail asked me if I worked at VASA because she said I looked familiar. It was then that we made the connection. Zach and Abigal are so cute and fun. At one point the DJ started playing Pour Some Sugar On Me and they both started singing a long and I was like, “Whoa! How do you guys know a song that came out well before either of you were born?” Apparently, Pour Some Sugar On Me is a staple at most wedding receptions and these two have been to a few of them. I don’t really watch football but I had so much fun hanging out at Chicken N Pickle with Karen and these two that I’m actually looking forward to the next game day.

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Abigail noticed our shirts and asked if we were part of a group so we had to explain the significance of the #TeamModel shirts. In short, we’re not part of a group or a sports team. We’re just a couple of fan girls cheering our guys on while they’re playing in a tournament out of town which we were both very sad about not being able to attend. However, our paddle heads did make it to Cincinnati thanks to Lauren McLaughlin of Live with Lauren (and No Smoke Productions) fame.

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Karen also went with me to Mulvane to pick up some shoes from mom. It was the perfect day for a drive in the convertible.

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This nice lady at the rec center let us play with her cute puppy, Remi.

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Incidentally, we met another dog named Remy later that night when Tom and his girlfriend brought their dog to Chicken N Pickle.

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I think I actually posted these pics already. Oops!

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League that night was so fun, which made up for how much I did not enjoy open play that morning. Part of what made it fun is because Tom finally made the switch (#MakeTheSwitch) to Electrum. Now he’s not the odd man out in our group photos. Also, we did not have to play Karen and Han that night. They seem to be the only team we cannot beat, which I still don’t understand.

The three main teams jockeying for position in our Sunday night league are Psycho L’s (Tiffany and Donnie were Dropping L’s last session but they wanted to be Psycho for Halloween), Not Today Freddy Krueger (Karen and Han), and then Asian Invasion of the Pickleball Snatchers (me and Tom, thus the bloody hand snatching the pickleball on our shirts). Karen and Han’s team name is really just Not Today but they added Freddy Krueger at the end for the Halloween effect. I wanted to keep the Asian Invasion team name so Tom and I could still wear our matching red Asian Invasion shirts but I added the “of the Pickleball Snatchers” as an homage to the Invasion of the Body Snatchers movie which Tom has never even seen and is completely unfamiliar with because he’s too young.

Anyway, these are your top three teams this session. Maybe it seems boastful of me to put my team up there but Tom and I did win the league last session so there is that. Except, Karen and Han didn’t play last time and they are the one team that really gives us trouble and, again, I don’t understand why. We can usually beat Tiffany and Donnie in two pretty easy sets (like 11-3, 11-4) but Tiffany and Donnie beat Karen and Han in pretty much the same fashion. Yet, Tom and I usually always lose to Karen and Han in much the same way. It is completely baffling. I joked to Karen that my team’s best case scenario is for Psycho L’s to eliminate Not Today on tournament night so that we wouldn’t have to deal with them. LOL.

Whether we are winning or losing, I always have fun on Sunday nights. I think it’s because I prefer playing mixed doubles and also the level of play is challenging. Also, Tom is a great partner to have because he lets me handle my business most of the time but he also doesn’t hesitate to poach and step in at just the right time whenever I find myself in trouble. I’m not sure who our matches are against this weekend but I can’t wait play! Until the next blog, GNG.

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Meet My Friend Steve

Posted on October 13, 2020 by under Hobbies.    

I met Steve Vetter through my friend Jon who I met at the West YMCA after one of their tournaments. Jon was there to spectate. I went to check things out after my Zumba class because I had just learned to play pickleball and I wanted to see some more advanced players play. Jon stayed to play a few games with us. I knew he was really good (but, at the time, I had no idea how good) so I naturally wanted to play against him because I’m always up for a challenge. In the middle of our game, I remember seeing him say something to his partner. I couldn’t hear it from the other end of the court but it was probably something like, “Watch this!” And then he served a really sick, crazy serve that had a lot of spin. I managed to return it somehow, much to his amazement and mine. I thought he was showing off and being a jerk but honestly he wasn’t even playing for real. He was just goofing around with us beginners.

Fast forward three months or so later. I went to teach my early morning Saturday Aqua Zumba class at VASA but, after waiting a few minutes and having no one, I decided to go check out pickleball at the Bel Aire Rec Center before my 10:30 AM Zumba class in Andover. I ran into Jon again there. There were only two others there and they were beginners. Jon was super nice and didn’t try to kill us. He made sure play was enjoyable for everyone. It was after that day that I tracked him down and friended him on Facebook.

Months later when I posted in the Pickleball Forum (the big pickleball group on Facebook run by Aspen Kern) that I needed a partner for Atlanta (which didn’t happen for me this year after all because of COVID) and was getting flack from people telling me I should do some local tournaments first, this random guy Steve chimed in and defended me. I sent him message thanking him for the support. He basically said, “You’ve done a lot for the Wichita pickleball community and my friend Jon tells me you’re at least 3.0 so don’t listen to those people and play in whatever tournament you want.” That was my first interaction with Steve and we became friends shortly after.

I didn’t really get to play with him because he is super advanced (because the higher level players don’t really mingle with the mediocre people) but I did get to watch him play with the other competitive guys in their league at Chicken N Pickle. We often joked about the Secret Society of the Super Elite Pickleball Players and how they just play with their own group. Anyway, at the beginning of the year, Steve took time off from playing pickleball following his wrist surgery.

A couple of months later, when he was ready to start playing again, he reached out to me to set up some matches because he wasn’t ready to start playing full out and wanted to ease back into it. At the time, I was mostly doing open play so I naively told him to just come to the park and we would let him rotate in. He told me he usually just played with a small group of four so he would prefer something more like that. I had no idea how much of a “diva” this guy was at the time. I would quickly learn this was just the beginning of all sorts of specific conditions that he needed in order to play.

Realizing that opportunities to play with a player his caliber were few and far between (for instance, I remember only having opportunities to play with Jon once every 3-6 months), I was prepared to do whatever it took to set up these games. He wasn’t playing in any pickleball leagues at the time so we would play mixed with my friend Ryan (from Rotary) and Tiffany on Wednesday evenings at Chicken N Pickle and then we would play mixed with Karen and another guy (sometimes Mason, sometimes Kyle, sometimes Rick – just whoever we could get) on the weekends at Seneca Park. We played weekly (sometimes twice a week) while he was “rehabilitating” and I took full advantage of this time because I knew that, when his shots were back and he was fully recovered, he would resume playing with the Super Elite and I would never get to play with him again.

This period of “recovery” for Steve was also a growth period for me. They say that you have to play better players to get better and this is absolutely true. The thing is, you don’t really have access to play with better players unless you are friends with them, so this period was really beneficial for both of us. Steve was easing his way back into the game and I was learning (and growing) a ton. I was also taking weekly pickleball lessons from Chris Heck around this time (which we had started at the beginning of the year) so I could be “more fun” to play with. It was also around this time that I realized how much of a “diva” Steve could be. Not only did he prefer to just play with a specific number of people (rather than open play), he also prefers not to play two days in a row, and he hates playing outside because of the wind and the heat. The temperature can’t be too hot or too cold. The conditions have to be just right for him to play.

Anyway, once he was back to his former glory, he went back to playing with the higher level players that he usually plays with and he joined a couple of pickleball leagues, and so we don’t get to play as much anymore (specially since the conditions also had to be “just right” for play). We still play every now and then but not as frequently or as regularly as before when he was in “pickleball rehab” as I like to call it. So, when he texted me out of the blue last week asking to play the next day, I figured out a way to make it happen because I really didn’t know when another opportunity would present itself.

I had already scheduled play with Cameron and Mikayla Tucker and Andy Bloyer at the Mulvane park the next day but, since Steve said he wanted to play and willing to play with anyone and even drive to Mulvane, I quickly scrambled to find three others to complete a group of eight. Karen Fox, Kim Knotts, and Mark Smith were the other three players who completed our group.

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Here’s a picture from that night last week in Mulvane. I wore my brightest green shirt because people wearing green shirts that match the ball is another peeve of his. Steve doesn’t mind it as much in rec play but absolutely hates it in league and tournament play. I did it to be funny. Anyway, my friend Karen sent me this text the other day. I don’t think people intentionally wear green to match the balls but now they might just to push his buttons. LOL.

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I feel like I have come a long way since the beginning of the year. Mostly because of the lessons with Chris but also from playing mixed doubles with players like Steve who are way better than me. It’s given me a bit of confidence and I’m actually less apprehensive about asking higher level players to play these days. I was feeling really ambitious recently and even asked Jocelyn’s wife to play with me in the competitive womens’ league at Chicken N Pickle. She is like ten levels above me but I had no qualms asking. The worst they can do is say no, right?

An then when I found out that Tony Swantek was subbing for Patrick in the mens’ league on Wednesday, I asked him to stay and play a couple of mixed games with me, knowing full well that mixed is not really his thing. I couldn’t believe it when he agreed! When I got home that night, I texted my friends Jon and Steve and Chris in our group chat. I told them that I got to play mixed with Tony as my partner and could finally cross this off my bucket list. Steve, who can be a smart aleck, immediately replied with, “You must have a bunch of boring things on your bucket list!” I was so happy, he couldn’t burst my bubble no matter what he said.

I don’t know if Tony agreeing to play a couple of games with me made the difference but, randomly, out of nowhere, Steve asked if I still wanted to play with him in the next round of competitive mixed league. I’ve asked him a few times and he has always said no. Anyway, I’m not one to pass up this chance so of course I said, “Heck yes!” Below was his response.

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There were a couple of hours between the two messages because I was tied up in meetings and I’m thinking that I should have replied right away to lock him in. So I guess, if we’re playing together, there will be no matching outfits and just one social media pic (if at all). Leave it up to a lawyer to negotiate specific terms. Since I don’t want to miss out on this chance to play in a mixed league with Steve, I suppose I’m agreeing to it. Even though he is taking all of my fun away.

Anyway, you’ve read about my friend Chris Wilson and I’ve also written about my friend Karen Fox a few times, so I thought it fitting to introduce you to yet another pickleball friend. Until next time, GNG.

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Because Dogs are Cute

Posted on October 12, 2020 by under Babies.    

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Meet Remi (above) and Remy (below). What are the odds that I would meet two dogs with similar sounding names on the same day?

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Because dogs are cute, we’re leading off this week with a dog post. I just love dogs. Specially puppies or little ones. Happy Monday, everyone!

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