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Archive for the year 2020

Christmas Day 2020

Posted on December 30, 2020 by under Family.    

We had a really simple Christmas again this year, much like last year. Except, unlike last year when we didn’t even pull out our Christmas decorations, we actually decorated this year. And, David and Donna came up from Oklahoma and spent a couple of days with us. It was a simple, quiet, relaxing Christmas.


Here are some of my favorite photos from Christmas day.


Grandma loves her chocolates and her cookies.


This is by far my favorite picture of Brian because he never smiles in photos and I caught him in such a genuine moment of joy in this pic.


Our basement is always too cold so we got David and Donna each their own Comfys. Brian and I got these for each other last year and thought mom and dad might like them too. Specially for cold winter nights or even that time they were without power for two weeks.


We also got Donna a baby Yoda (really “the Child” but everyone else calls it baby Yoda) throw because she is obsessed with it.


Grandma always asks for a jumbo print calendar on her Christmas list so it’s always our job to get her one each year.


In keeping with the cold wintry theme, we also go Donna some comfy, knit slipper socks.


At 98 years old, grandma still has a great sense of humor.


She also loves her Christmas day mimosas.


Grandma also always asks for popcorn. David and Donna got them for her this year.


We got David mostly gun stuff because that’s what he’s into.


Part of the fun of Christmas day is trying on your presents. Here he is trying on his new cardigan from Donna.


I’m so glad that Brian and I recovered in time. I’m not sure what Christmas would have been like if we were still sick with COVID. It was a really nice, leisurely day with family. I hope everyone had a wonderful, relaxing Christmas day!

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COVID Ruins Everything

Posted on December 24, 2020 by under Hobbies.    

This last league session was the most challenging ever. My normal mixed league partner Tom decided to take a break and so I talked my friend Steve into playing with me. I so wanted to play in league with Steve that I even agreed to his demands – no matching outfits and only one league picture posted on social media.

Besides having a new mixed league partner, I also had a new women’s league partner. Having new partners is nothing new for me because I switch partners all the time. But this is the first league session ever that I actually missed league nights, which really tore me apart because I do not ever like missing pickleball if I can help it. The worst part is this was a short league session (only five weeks instead of seven) so I really only got play half of the league.

My mixed league was on Sunday nights so I couldn’t play on December 6 because my COVID symptoms started on Thursday, December 3, and, not only was I feeling very sick that weekend but we were also waiting for our COVID test results so we had to be in quarantine. Luckily, my friend Kim (Knotts) was available to take my place and it was a good league night because she and Steve won both matches that night. Since the two of them played really well together, we planned to have Kim play in my place again the following weekend for our league tournament. Michael approved it and everything. December 13 would have been the 10 day since my symptoms started and, while I technically would have been free to be out of quarantine, I didn’t think I would feel up to playing in a pickleball tournament (even if it is just a silly league one).

Anyway, fast forward to the following weekend and then Steve now has some COVID symptoms and is waiting on test results so he has to isolate. So then if neither of us can play our mixed team has to forfeit. I hated the idea of forfeiting. I actually thought about playing long and hard. I even asked my friend Chris (Wilson) to play with me but he couldn’t because it was on a Sunday evening. It’s a good thing he couldn’t play because I really shouldn’t have been playing anyway. Even though it was day ten and my quarantine was technically over I was not in any shape to play. When the doctor told us we would be free from COVID jail in ten days, I really hoped with all of my heart that all of my symptoms would be gone by day ten because what would be the point of being free if you’re not well enough to be upright? On Sunday I still had some body aches so, even though I told myself that our team would forfeit “over my dead body,” we really had to forfeit because if I insisted on playing it would have been literally over my dead body.

I heard that we weren’t the only team to forfeit on league tournament night. Only five out of the nine teams actually played on tournament night so three other teams besides us forfeited. So that’s pretty much how this last session of mixed ended.

The women’s doubles league was even worse. My partner and I only got to play together twice. And almost not even that. On the very first night of league, less than a couple of hours before our league match, my partner Anna texted me and told me that she tested positive for COVID. Thankfully, she was asymptomatic but she still had to quarantine. That meant she had to miss the first two Wednesdays. I managed to get great subs for those two weeks but I was so excited for this league session (as I am for every session, I suppose) that I even got special league uniforms for me and my partner which I couldn’t even wear for the first two weeks because she was sidelined. We finally got to play together on the third week of league, December 2, which is the day before my symptoms started.


But, hey! At least we got to take these fun pics.


Aren’t our uniforms cool? Even though we did only get to wear them twice.


Dawn filled in for me the following week because I was sick with COVID. We planned to have a sub lined up for me the following week because we weren’t sure how I would feel but thankfully by Wednesday, December 16, I felt up to playing. It was the thirteenth day since the onset of my symptoms so I was officially done with my quarantine and, unlike on Sunday when I didn’t feel well enough, I was actually feeling pretty strong on Wednesday.

On Monday (day eleven) I was feeling pretty good but I knew not to get too excited because I felt pretty good the first Sunday after my symptoms began (on December 6) and then the symptoms were back with a vengeance the very next day. I pretty much rode this crazy roller coaster where I was sick, felt better, and then felt sick again over the course of two weeks. I was very cautious on Monday because I wasn’t sure if my body aches (which were the worst of my symptoms) would return. My friend Ramona subbed my Zumba class that night and then I also had Sydney sub my 5:30 AM class on Wednesday. On Tuesday, I woke up and still felt fine. I felt better than Monday and so I thought, hey, I can probably play in the tournament on Wednesday night and so I did.

Pickleball with Anna

We didn’t win but it was great be reunited with my partner and we took a few more fun pics. Anna even took one for the team and wore the matching shorts I got for us which she didn’t like because she said it made her feel like she had a wedgie. The shorts don’t feel like that to me but, after looking at this pic, it does kind of look like I have a wedgie. I must just be numb to it. LOL.

Pickleball with Anna

My favorite part of our league uniforms is that it has our names on the back.

Pickleball with Anna

It was really fun playing with Anna. I wish we could have played together more than twice. Oh, well. That’s what happens when COVID ruins everything.

Pickleball with Anna

It was pretty much the same story on tournament night. Only seven out of the thirteen women’s doubles teams played. The rest of the teams had to forfeit for one reason or another. It was the same with the men’s doubles league too. It was so weird. Chicken N Pickle is usually abuzz with all of the pickleball players milling about and that night it was almost like tomb. There was hardly anyone there.

I promised Brian I wouldn’t overdo it but with hardly anyone there I actually got to play a little bit extra. Anna and I even played singles against each other while we were waiting for our first match. That was my first day back to playing pickleball and, with the exception of Monday when I taught my Zumba class, I’ve played everyday since.

On Thursday, Michael Harris put together a mixed group and we played for three hours. On Friday, I had a pickleball lesson with Chis (Heck) and then played in the 5:00 PM open play at Nahola before my 7:00 PM mixed play group.


On Saturday, my friend Chris (Wilson) and I played in the ugly sweater pickleball tournament at Chicken N Pickle. There were only five teams in the competitive pool (compared to twelve in the social pool later that day) and we only came in third but I had a lot of fun playing. Anyway, the top two teams were men’s doubles teams so I didn’t feel too bad. Chris actually got COVID right before I did and the day he returned to our Friday night play group was my first night off. We decided to call our team for the Saturday tournament COVID Survivors. LOL.

I finally managed to get into the much coveted Chicken N Pickle brunch and bingo open play so I played from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM on Sunday, followed by a few rounds of bingo, and then I hightailed it to Nahola for the 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM open play. I didn’t plan to play bingo and was just going to grab a quick bite before going to Nahola but Michael and Jeff talked me into it.

I figured instead of eating elsewhere I could just eat at Chicken N Pickle over bingo. I told Michael I would stay for one game. Michael walks by four rounds later and goes, “So much for only staying for one game. You might as well stay for blackout so you can win that Electrum Pro paddle.”

Part of the reason I stayed so long is I got to hang out with these two kool kats — Bill Schantz and Lonnie Lollar.


I stayed way longer than I should have and was actually 15 minutes late for the Nahola Open play but I’m so glad I went because we had exactly eight players and, not only that, this past Sunday was the very last open play at Nahola. They canceled open play indefinitely because of the rise in COVID cases.

I took a break from pickleball on Monday but I did resume teaching my Monday night Zumba class. On Tuesday, I signed up for “newbie night” which turned into the most awesome open play ever. They extended the “newbie night” deal to everyone so for $5 we got to play pickleball and have a free appetizer.

Yesterday Janelle invited me to play with her and Mel and Melissa at Nahola — except I misread my text message and went to Chicken N Pickle instead. I have never gotten from CNP to Nahola so fast!

And that brings us to today, Christmas Eve. I’m pretty much back to normal. Just in time for Christmas! And, while COVID ruined several plans this month (our poker tournament and my friend Lauren’s visit for starters), I’m really glad that we’ve gotten it out of the way and have immunity for at least 90 days.

Until next time. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!


We Both Got COVID and Survived

Posted on December 23, 2020 by under Health, Life.    

Besides the mandatory stay at home order earlier this year which I strictly followed, I pretty much continued to play pickleball with my normal play groups and teach my Zumba classes (once the gyms reopened). We weren’t going to parties or anything like that but I continued to pursue all of my favorite activities, including playing bingo at Chicken N Pickle on Sundays. Anyway, I was just thinking to myself, “Wow! I can’t believe I got through the whole year without getting COVID.” Well, the universe responded, “Not so fast, Chingy!”

I was feeling pretty lucky for not having contracted the virus but also wondered if I was one of those lucky people who had already had it but just didn’t have any symptoms. I’ve known a few people like that. One of them being Brian’s grandmother. She got COVID around the end of October and didn’t have any noticeable symptoms at all. Also, I’ve had some friends who were positive for the antibodies which meant they’d had COVID already and just didn’t realize it. I always thought I would be one of these lucky people until the day I started exhibiting symptoms and was proven completely wrong.

I play in a couple of pickleball leagues at Chicken N Pickle and, much to my friend Steve’s displeasure, everyone is pretty casual about the whole COVID thing. Naturally, we don’t wear masks while we are playing and sometimes we are pretty casual about putting our masks back on because we’re usually eating or drinking. And, throughout all of this, there’s a lot of socializing that happens. I mean, we’re not hugging on each other but we are chatting and visiting like normal.

Anyway, on Wednesday, December 2, my friend Brooke had another friend fill in for her for our competitive women’s doubles league because she wasn’t feeling well. I texted her the next day to see how she was feeling and that’s when I found out that she tested positive for COVID. Then I’m thinking, I’m not feeling great either and started to wonder if I had it too because we were together at bingo the Sunday prior. Anyway, I was due at the doctor’s office the next day on Friday morning so they could draw my blood and complete my lab work before my annual physical the following Friday, December 11. Brian reminded me that the doctor’s office couldn’t see if I have any symptoms or if I’ve been exposed to someone positive for COVID. I’m like, “Let’s see what they say. Also, if there’s a chance I have COVID then they really need to see me because I want to be tested.”

Sure enough they couldn’t draw my blood because the area where they do the lab work is kind of an open area and they can’t risk me infecting other patients. The nurse did say that our doctor could see us later in the in the afternoon for COVID tests. My symptoms were pretty mild at this point — just fever and body aches — and Brian didn’t have any symptoms yet but I insisted they test him as well because I was pretty sure if I had it then I’d given it to him already.

My symptoms started out pretty mild on Thursday and then getting a bit worse on Friday. They were so mild at first that I actually contemplated still playing pickleball with my normal Friday night play group and then having a poker tournament at our house on Saturday night. However, I didn’t want to responsible for infecting other people so on Thursday I pulled the trigger and let my pickleball friends know that I wouldn’t be able to play for the next two Fridays. One of my friends in the group, Chris, immediately replied with “Where are you playing instead?” Assuming that I was playing elsewhere and that’s why I wasn’t playing with them. I explained that I was exposed to another friend who tested positive for COVID and could potentially have it so I’m quarantining. And then my other friend Kimberly started freaking out because we sat together while we ate dinner after league on Wednesday night and she was worried that I might have given it to her. That’s the scary thing with this virus. You don’t know when you have it because sometimes the symptoms are so mild or they start much later so, unless you’re completely isolated, there is a huge risk of contracting it from someone.

Besides pulling the plug on the poker game, I had to let my friend Quinton know about the situation because he was originally going to stay with us on Saturday night. He was coming into town to play in the inaugural pickleball invitational tournament at Chicken N Pickle, staying for the poker tournament, and then spending the night at our house before heading back home. Anyway, since we canceled the poker tournament due to potential COVID exposure, I figured he probably wouldn’t want to stay with us that Saturday night. That was the other bummer about the COVID thing. I was going to spend Saturday at Chicken N Pickle, watching the pickleball tournament and livestreaming for those at home but I couldn’t do that because (a) I had to quarantine and not expose anyone else to the virus I potentially had, and (b) I was feeling really sick by Saturday and could barely function so I really couldn’t even if I wanted to.

Speaking of foiled plans, I also notified my friend Lauren right away about our situation because she was visiting and was going to stay with us Wednesday, December 9, through Sunday, December 13. If we had COVID then she couldn’t be around us. And, even if we did test negative, we would still be in the middle of our 14-day quarantine period because the symptoms sometimes do not manifest right away. Anyway, we had pickleball and dinner plans and all of that stuff that now had to be scrapped because, not only was I not feeling well, but I was potentially sick with a virus that could be fatal to some people.

So Friday afternoon we get tested by our family physician. Check out the video above of Dr. Hane doing the test on me and also on Brian, who was a big baby about it. Brian, because he doesn’t really have any of the symptoms yet, is convinced he doesn’t have it so we social distance at home by sleeping in two different rooms and also, whenever we watched movies, we sat on opposite ends of the couch. This goes on from Friday night to Sunday night when we finally get a phone call about our test results.


This is how far apart we were watching Mulan on Friday night.


Normally when I’m sick, Brian exiles me to the guest bedroom on the other side of the house but this time, since my germs were already all over the master bedroom, I got to stay in the master and Brian slept in our upstairs guestroom. Interestingly enough, this would have been the room that Lauren would have slept in during her visit. Anyway, Brian rigged up one of our video cameras to still keep an eye on me even though we’re sleeping apart.


Here’s a picture of us still social distancing on Saturday. Of course, by now I am super sick and Brian is still somewhat okay. We don’t have energy to do much of anything and we can’t really go anywhere because we are quarantining so we just watch movies all day. We watched Peppermint, which was actually pretty good, and The Prom, which Brian immediately regretted agreeing to watch once he realized it was a musical. To be fair, neither of us knew it was a musical. We just saw a short clip (one of the funnier moments in the movie – that’s how they bait you into watching) that was hilarious and we thought we needed something light after Peppermint. Anyway, Brian would rather not have watched that second movie (he’s not really into musicals with a few exceptions) but we survived.

When we finally get our results on Sunday night, I am so relieved. I mean, I felt bad that Brian was sick with COVID too but I was tired of sleeping apart and I was ready to be done with the whole social distancing inside our own house nonsense. Also, I was kind of glad that we were both sick at the same time because then we completed our quarantine in half the time. Had I been sick first and then Brian been sick after me then we would have had to quarantine twice as long. At least when we were done with our quarantine, we were done, and didn’t have to wait for the second round of quarantine to finish. Also, it meant we were in it together.

Oh, another interesting bit I learned during this time is that, when you’re positive, you only have to quarantine for ten days. Our doctor told us that ten days after the onset of our symptoms we were free to resume normal activities because by then we would no longer be shedding the virus and there was no more risk of infecting others. Of course, I’m thinking to myself, I better feel good in ten days because if I’m still feeling achy all over and can’t sustain an upright position for extended period then what’s the point of being free?

On Sunday, December 6, after spending most of the weekend horizontal, I actually feel pretty good and I was like, “Wow! That was it?” I thought I was done — but I was wrong. I woke up Monday and all my symptoms were back with a vengeance. The nice thing is, I’m working from home so I’m not exposing anyone to the virus, and I was in training that week so it wasn’t a tough week. There’s never a good week to be sick but there were worse weeks to be sick. As much as working remotely is a blessing because I didn’t have to quit working, the downside is I think it made my recovery longer. Most of my week was spent sitting at my desk, participating in training, when I really could have benefited from being in bed and resting — which is pretty much what I did every break and every lunch. Most days I didn’t even eat lunch because, not only did I not have the strength or appetite to eat, but it was quite pointless because I couldn’t taste things anyway (unless it was sweet). I lived on pineapple chunks and grapes the week I was sick because that was pretty much all I could taste. I could also taste Pepsi but I did my best to resist because soda isn’t good for you when you’re well and much less when you’re sick.

After the whole Sunday-Monday debacle whenever I had bouts of feeling well I knew not to get too excited because often I would feel better and then I would feel bad again. I was pretty much on this crazy roller coaster of symptoms all week. It wasn’t until Monday, December 14, that I really started to feel better. I didn’t know how I would be so I had subs lined up to teach my Monday and Wednesday Zumba classes that week but I actually starting to feel somewhat normal. Although, on my Monday, day 11, I knew not to get too excited because I had been on this roller coaster and I wasn’t sure if it was just another one of those brief moments of reprieve. I woke up on Tuesday and still felt fine and I was like, “Maybe it is really over?” On Wednesday, I still felt pretty good and so I made the decision to play in the pickleball tournament for my women’s league. That’s another blog on its own though which I will write about next.

Until then, I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe. GNG.


Mailbox Before and After

Posted on December 22, 2020 by under Life.    

Brian and I aren’t really big on getting each other Christmas presents. A few years ago we made the transition to spending on experiences rather than material things so we usually save our money for trips and other things. Our “go to” gift for each other is a couples massage at home with Jamie and Michael. It’s a luxury that we both really enjoy so it’s a gift that we typically give to one another for Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, and Valentines… in a addition to times when we just have to schedule emergency massages because our bodies need it.

Untitled Untitled

This year, in addition to our couples massage, we also got much needed tangible gift. Our next door neighbor recently moved their mailbox from our shared post to a free-standing brick one which then made our already dilapidated mailbox look completely off balance. We ended up asking the same contractor to come back the following weekend to also make us a brick mailbox. Thankfully, he was available and did a fantastic job. He also did some minor repairs on the rest of our brickwork around for just a little bit more. The darn earthquakes have been taking a toll.

Anyway, this is our big Christmas gift for each other this year — a new mailbox for our house. Doesn’t it look awesome?

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Online Virtual Mixology with On the Rocks

Posted on December 7, 2020 by under Events.    

I got to participate in a super fun online virtual mixology team building experience last week. I honestly didn’t even know this was a “thing,” but apparently, because everyone is isolating and social distancing because of the pandemic, people are finding creative ways to connect and experience things and now this whole industry has exploded. Here are some pictures from our fun virtual event last week.

Mix 1

This is Ariel Bruckner, Director of Beverage for On the Rocks. She led our cocktail seminar last week. She taught us how to make a couple of different cocktails using ingredients that they sent in a cocktail kit in advance of our event and then we all just provided our own spirits/liquor (unless we wanted non-alcoholic versions of the cocktails, which she showed us how to do as well).

Mix 8

We’ve had a few Hump Day Happy Hour events since most of us went remote (started working from home full time) and this one was the most well-attended happy hour we’ve had to date.

Mix 7

Everyone seemed to really enjoy learning how to make the cocktails.

Mix 11

Here are some pictures that my coworkers posted in the meeting chat.

Kim Savage Setup

This is my boss Kim Savage’s fancy mixology setup. Some people have very nice bar equipment and mixology tools.

Tom Setup

Here is Tom Grace’s bar setup.

Jared Rudy Setup

This is Jared Rudy’s mixology setup.

Jennifer Perry

And here’s Jennifer Perry’s.

Josh Mai Tai

This is Josh Belisle’s fancy setup. You can really tell those who enjoy making fancy cocktails apart from everyone else.

Alicia CC2

This is Alicia Grissom’s finished cocktail number one. Cheers!

Alicia CC

The first cocktail recipe Ariel showed us how to make was the “Champagne” Cocktail. Each kit came with everything you needed besides the alcohol (including detailed recipe cards) for two deliciously fun cocktails.


This is Kim Johnson’s “Champagne” Cocktail.

Kim Johnson Champagne Cocktail

This is the same drink made by Jessica Fundis.

Jessica Champagne Cocktail

For our second drink, we made a Blood Orange Mai Tai.


This is April Coultis’ mai tai.

April Mai Tai

I’m pretty sure Emily Marquart doctored her mai tai because it looks different and a lot more plentiful than everyone else’s.


Jona Urquizo’s mai tai.

Jona Mai Tai

Kim Johnson’s mai tai.

Kim Johnson Mai Tai

Here’s Mariaha Sweany’s mai tai. I had the same problem when I made mine. It didn’t make very much either. I think I may not have shaken the mixture in my cocktail shaker vigorously or long enough. I have some other theories too.

Mariaha Mai Tai

Here are Melinda Ivey’s finished drinks and her cute cat.

Melinda Ivey Drinks

Here are some pictures of my mixology setup.


I couldn’t make my drinks during the happy hour because Wednesday night is women’s competitive doubles league at Chicken N Pickle and we always play two matches. I had to wait until I came home from league to make and enjoy my drinks.


So here’s my “Champagne” Cocktail. I think it didn’t fill up my flute for a couple of reasons. I used a spoon to juice my lemon because I didn’t have a juice press so I don’t think I got as much juice out of my lemon as everyone else. Also, I didn’t want my drink to be too strong so I shorted my whiskey by an ounce, which on a skinny champagne flute can make a big difference on how far up your drink goes in the glass. I should have compensated by adding more of the sparkling apple cider to make up for the difference. I didn’t think of it that night, though.


These next two pics are of my finished mai tai. I had the same issue. I felt like it didn’t make as much. I think it was mainly because I didn’t get enough juice out of my lime because I did add the correct amounts of all the other ingredients. Also, I think that I didn’t shake my drink in the shaker long enough. And, Alicia said that I should have filled my glass with ice all the way to the brim.


Both drinks were really yummy. I plan to make them both again because I have enough of everything besides the star anise and the cinnamon stick garnish and you can easily enjoy the drinks without these. Besides making the drinks prettier, the garnish makes the drinks more aromatic but they’re enjoyable just the same. I am going to wait to make these again when I’m better though, and can actually taste these amazing cocktails because I fell ill on Thursday and I have absolutely no taste or smell right now.. Otherwise, it will be a waste.


As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I didn’t even know these virtual mixology events were a “thing.” It’s definitely a unique experience. I’ve been thinking about how to share the it with friends and family. Perhaps I could host my own personal event.

They say experiences make better presents than material things. We have several friends who enjoy drinking just as much as we do and I think this type of event or online experience would make great Christmas presents for them.

Until next time. GNG.

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