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It’s Been a While

Posted on July 24, 2021 by under Food and Drink.    

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Brian and I went to Nortons on Sunday. Partly because we needed dinner but also partly because are on a mission to complete our #WICKEDBREW tour.

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Neither of us were all that hungry so we just shared a basked of really bad for you, fatty fries. I wanted some s’mores for dessert but we actually got too full. Part of it was I had some hummus and spinach dip at the pickleball benefit at Chicken N Pickle before swinging by to pick Brian up for dinner.

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Brian had a stout (pictured above, first pic) and I had a beer slushy.

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Nortons is closed on Mondays so Sunday nights are usually pretty busy. We had to wait a few minutes to be seated.

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I actually really like Nortons. We will probably go back another time when we are more hungry. This weekend, we mainly just wanted to get our cards stamped.

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Until next time, GNG.

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Making New Friends

Posted on July 23, 2021 by under Community, Hobbies.    

My morning pickleball play group recently hit an all time high. We broke records this morning when we had enough players for all six courts at Edgemoor. Actually, there were 24 confirmed players and, at one point, we had two more in the waiting list.

When I started my early morning play last year, I never imagined that there would be this many people wanting to get up super early to play. I thought I would be lucky to get three others to play with me. Last year we often did get eight players but never in my wildest dreams did I think that I could fill up all six courts at the park.

Morning play has not been without its challenges…

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Play last year at Seneca Park went relatively smoothly but this year our group grew to an average of 8-12 players and some of the players at the park didn’t understand. Because we would often run past the 7 AM hour, even though there were empty courts, they felt like they should be able to rotate in. The challenge with that is because we play a ladder or king of court format, we need an even group of players so we can’t just have random people joining and leaving. There has to be a set number of players for a specific period of time.

First, people complained that I was hosting “private” play at our public parks but, honestly, the only reason that it was private was I was mainly only inviting the people who I knew were open to playing that early in the morning. Since people complained about the games being “private,” I decided to open them up to everyone on Playtime Scheduler. But even that wasn’t sufficient. Please were still unhappy that we were playing at the park. Probably because we were having such a good time and they weren’t because they had to wait for games to finish because they didn’t have an even number of people? Who knows?

Anyway, making the play public is when things really exploded. We ended up with an average of 12 players and sometimes 16. This morning, we hit a record-high of 24 (although I did have three no-shows so we really could only fill five of the courts — which worked out because there was a group of ladies that showed up and they needed the remaining court and, had everyone who wanted to play shown up, there would not have been an empty court for these ladies to use).

Since making the games public, I have met so many new people who I have never met or played with before. Y’all know how much I love meeting new people so I’ve just been eating it up. And then sometimes you meet someone so amazing that you just want to be part of their growth.

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EXHIBIT A: Tony Mathews (left) with me and Cameron Tucker and Tyler Smith (in the matching shirts)

This picture was taken at the Wichita Metro Crime Commission benefit tournament at Chicken N Pickle last Sunday, July 18. I had only met Tony a couple of days before but the morning that we met was the same day that I found out from Erica that she couldn’t play with me in the tournament. Tony just happened to be at the right place at the right time and I had a lot of fun playing with him that morning, so I invited him to play in Erica’s place and, as luck would have it, he just happened to be available. It turned out to be a good thing too because he raise way more money for our team than I did.

Anyway, Tony is going to be amazing. He’s only been playing pickleball for two months and he is already really good. It won’t take much to get him to the highest level. I expect his progress to be a lot like Meredith’s, where she basically learned to play the game and within months was competing with highly skilled players.

I’m going to get on Tony’s good side now so that, when he hits the big time, I can say I knew him when. LOL.

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On Monday morning, I had the opportunity to meet and play with a young man from Hutchinson, Kansas named Bo Tolbert. This guy is amazing and so much fun to play with. He was looking at getting some pickleball instructor certifications but most of the programs require you to be 21 or over so he can’t do it until next year.

This kid is going to be on his way up, too. He’s a great player now and I can tell that he’s still growing and has the potential to get even better.

Now that I’ve been playing pickleball for a couple of years, I’ve met all sorts of people — all ages, genders, race, people from various backgrounds. I’ve been people who have been playing a long time and others who have only recently picked up the game. I’ve met a lot of players who started playing and immediately got really good (Cody and Meredith) and others who have taken some time to develop their game and others who are still at the same skill level as when I met them a couple of years ago (and there’s nothing wrong with that — some people are content to play with their same play groups and don’t desire to play in tournaments so once they get to a certain level there is no longer that same need or drive to improve).

I am particularly enviously of people who pick up the sport and are instantly amazing at it (ex-tennis players and other really athletic people whose previous sports backgrounds translate well to pickleball) because my progress has been long and arduous and slow as molasses. However, I try to remind myself that it’s not a race. Some people will get there first and some people get there later but, if the desire is there, they do get there eventually. I think the key is to continue to make progress and I feel like that’s what I’m doing. Every day that I play I feel like I am better than the time before. I may not be exponentially better but even the slightest bit of improvement is progress.

So anyway, I’m just going to keep on truckin’ and eventually maybe I’ll wake up and all of a sudden I’m awesome. Ha! Not likely to happen but that won’t stop me from trying. Until next time, GNG.

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Feeling Spontaneous

Posted on July 22, 2021 by under Food and Drink, Travel.    

Brian and I were feeling spontaneous this past weekend and decided to drive up to Topeka. We had to reschedule our nail appointment but Saturday was truly the perfect day to do it because the pickleball tournament portion of Sunflower State Games was going on. It basically allowed me to kill two birds with one stone. Brian has never been to Wheel Barrel, one of my most favorite restaurants in Topeka, so I could take him there and then also catch some Sunflower State Games matches.

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I got a pic with Kim Knotts and Karen Fox to prove that I was there. 😉

I tried to watch as many matches as I could but Brian was getting hangry and put his foot down so we finally had to leave and go to the restaurant. I texted my friend Tom who lives nearby and he met us at the Wheel Barrel.

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Tom is a regular at the restaurant. He even has his own beer mug on the wall labeled “Tom Terrific.” We were already seated when he arrived. When he came in, the server greeted him by name and when he came to sit at our table she was like, “You didn’t tell me that the friend meeting you is Tom!” I made a mental note to drop his name on future visits.

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It was great to see Tom. It’s been too long. Anyway, here are some pictures of the sandwiches that Brian and I had.

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I had the Monte Cristo which is one of their award-winning sandwiches while Brian had the Hangover sandwich, which is everyone’s favorite.

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The Wheel Barrel has amazing sandwiches and they also have yummy cocktails. Brian didn’t drink because he was driving. I think we will have to return sometime when we are staying overnight.

There are a few more restaurants that I used to frequent when I spent a lot of time working in Topeka that I want Brian to try so we will definitely need to make another trip. For now, we can cross the Wheel Barrel off the list.

Until next time, GNG.

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Dinner at River City Brewery

Posted on July 20, 2021 by under Food and Drink.    

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We are on a mission to complete our #WICKEDBREW tour before they run out of shirts! The other night, I picked Brian up after my Aqua Zumba class and we went to River City Brewery for dinner. It was a Thursday night but the place wasn’t busy. At least not when we first arrived.

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We were mostly there to get our cards stamped and neither of us were all that hungry so we just shared a soft pretzel and a pizza. We like to get the Kansan because it’s all meat and there’s no veggies, so nothing for us to pick off.

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Brian had just opened a bottle of wine at home so he didn’t feel like drinking beer. I had to take one for the team that day and do the drinking for our stamps.

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Thankfully, our server recommended a super delicious beer that was right up my alley. It’s called the raspberry sno cone. It was both refreshing and delicious and I didn’t mind having to drink two glasses of it one bit. I probably could have had a third had it not been a weekday. RCB makes such good beer.

Speaking of beer, Haus of Brews is back this year. RCB is one of the local breweries that regularly attend. I believe they are going to participate again this year. If you enjoy drinking beer, you must pencil this date in on your calendar – September 25. We are still looking for some sponsors. You can find out more here.

Until next time, GNG.

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A Day with Lauren and Pat

Posted on July 17, 2021 by under Hobbies, Travel.    

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend Lauren Stratman and Patrick Smith’s pickleball clinic at held at the Oklahoma City Chicken N Pickle this week.

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Lesli Toubassi, Will Williams, Bill Schantz, Dan Harris, Barbara Clark and I all made the trip. We got to ride in the fancy schmancy Chicken N Pickle van, which is actually super nice and roomy. The van has tall ceilings. I can stand up all the way and not reach the top. All 6’7″ of Michael Harris almost fits.

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The Oklahoma City location is a lot like the Wichita one. They are all very similar really with slight variations to the layout.

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I do prefer the court configuration in Wichita but the covered outdoor courts at the OKC location are quite nice. Specially on a hot, sunny day.

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Here are some snaps I took during the clinic.

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We also took a group photo.

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And some fun photos like this Pat sandwich one.

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And one with both Lauren and Pat.

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There wasn’t really anything new or earth-shattering at the clinic. Much of what we covered were things I had learned or heard from other people already but we did have some super fun drills. I recommend doing these clinics with your doubles partner or a friend so you can learn the drills together and can do them regularly days and weeks and months following the clinic.

It was such an awesome day and I am beyond grateful that I got to participate in it. Until next time, GNG.

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