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ZOOMba with Ching

Posted on April 12, 2020 by under Zumba.    

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, businesses began shutting down because everyone was ordered to stay home and limit non-essential activities for the safety and well-being on the community. That resulted in the gyms closing and me being laid off by the YMCA and furloughed by VASA Fitness. I had no classes to teach and nowhere to go for several weeks. I saw some of my friends teaching online classes which seemed to be well-received. I really didn’t want to mess with it at first because it seemed kind of a pain to set up but one of my friends kept asking me to do it so I finally caved.

I did a trial run at first last weekend. That went better than I expected and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t realize how much I missed teaching my classes until then. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to go all in and signed up for a paid ZOOM account. Otherwise your online video meetings are limited to only 40 minutes and once I get going I can’t really stop. I’ve found that I have to dance for at least a full hour to get my fix.

We did a short 40-minute trial run last weekend on Saturday and then did a full hour class on Sunday. Since then I’ve committed to teaching free online Zumba classes via ZOOM based on the following schedule:

  • Tuesday 5:30 PM
  • Thursday 5:30 PM
  • Saturday 9:30 AM
  • Sunday 4:30 PM

I’ve completed my first week of offering free ZOOMba classes and, other than the technical issues, I’ve really enjoyed them. I found that they give me purpose and something to look forward to each week. I’m still experimenting a lot with the video and sound, which hasn’t been perfect but it’s better than nothing. And, I’m really enjoying it. I think others are too.

My friend Karen even came over and danced with me yesterday. We maintained our social distance of course. Here are some pics…

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Don’t mind the trash. I’ve been doing these in the garage.

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Here are some short video clips that Brian got of us dancing yesterday.

Karen was such a trooper and she did amazing. She even stayed and did the Bruce Lee Abs Challenge workout with me.

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I started the Bruce Lee Abs Challenge the day after our 30-day stay at home order began for lack of things to do. I started with level 1 and gradually advanced to level 2. I’m hoping that I can move to up level 3 this week.

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The past three weeks of not being able to leave the house have been really rough. Basically the only things keeping me sane are the garage pickleball drills, abs workout, and now ZOOMba. I can’t wait until this pandemic is over because I really miss my routine. I also miss seeing all of my friends.

I hope y’all are doing alright during this crisis. Until next time. GNG.

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Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

Posted on April 12, 2020 by under Hobbies.    

I’ve been missing pickleball so much that I caved and ordered a portable net for playing and drilling in the garage. Here are some pictures of my awesome new net.

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The wheeled carry case is my favorite. It’s makes for greater portability.

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Here’s a pic of the net fully assembled. Even though we have a three-car garage, we have a ton of crap in the third-car bay so the full-sized net barely fits in there.

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On the plus side, it’s pretty easy to assemble and dismantle.

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Brian and I measured the driveway and, unfortunately, it isn’t quite long enough for a full pickleball court so I haven’t been using my full-sized net.

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However, my portable net set also came with a mini net which is perfect for wall drills in the garage. I’ll occasionally go in the garage and hit against the wall for a few minutes or practice my drop shots. It’s not the same as hitting with another person but it’s all I’ve got right now.

My friend Karen visited yesterday and we actually got pretty good use out of the mini net. Other than that, I’ve really been the only one playing with it. I wish Brian would hit with me but he still has his other hobbies so for now I’m all alone. All I have is the wall. Unless, of course, someone wants to visit.

Until next time. GNG.

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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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