Posts Tagged ‘tennis

07
Mar
18

10 Reasons to Love Weyauwega: Location, Location, Location

I don’t want to leave anyone out of the conversation, so let’s assume for now that we’re all unfamiliar with the phrase “sweet spot.” In baseball terms, it’s the place on the bat where a player aims to connect with the leather and laces. In tennis it’s the space on the racquet with which Venus and Serena seek to smack the neon nylon and nap. It’s basically the area of any object with which you strike a sphere of some sort where the transfer of energy feels and sounds just right. Thwack. Snap. Pop.

In meteorological or economic terms, it’s when all features and factors of a given situation converge to create the optimum conditions for a specific outcome. Like when an entertainer is famous enough to command a high fee to put on a good show but not so famous that he or she can’t walk the streets without getting mobbed. Or when the weather is warm enough to be outside without a parka yet not so warm that one must disrobe completely to avoid drowning in one’s own sweat.

Which brings us to another point about sweet spots: some are bigger than others. In fact, thanks to the advent of wide-head racquets it’s easier than ever to hit the sweet spot these days. At least in tennis. And certain close-combat scenarios where the only available weapon is a Prince Textreme Beast O3 104.

In geographic terms, Weyauwega is our sweet spot. Despite having never heard of the place before 2011 when I started taking the newly-upgraded-to-a-four-lane US Highway 10 (with no annoying small towns or pesky traffic lights to slow you down) to visit my Auntie Chachi every week, I soon began to view the town’s exit ramps as welcome landmarks telling me how much time I had left in my journey.

Even then I had no idea of all Weyauwega has to offer. Situated on the other side of the hill that separates the town (population 1900) from Highway 10, it isn’t even visible to folks approaching from the east except for the steeples of its highest churches. It isn’t until you’ve already missed both exits that you can see a smidge of Main Street where sits the Wega Drive-In and the new Citgo station. As the saying goes: Blink and you’ll missed it

Still, it rapidly became our sweet spot in early 2016 when we started contemplating moving closer to Chachi. Positioning imaginary compass needles over key points on the map and then drawing imaginary circles around those points to see where they overlapped, we found only one town that fit comfortably between the town where the Jarhead worked, the town where the Princess worked, and the town where Auntie Chachi lived: Weyauwega. Thwack. Snap. Pop.

Although we bought our house a bit too late to do Chachi any good, since moving here we still consider Weyauwega our sweet spot. Situated between Stevens Point and Appleton, it is less than 35 miles from an array of grocery and discount stores, home improvement centers, convenience stores, our favorite realtor and our favorite daughter-in-law.

Even more important than Weyauwega’s proximity to all those things, however, is the proximity of our house to other key places in Weyauwega. Like the library (6 blocks) or the firehouse (4.5 blocks) or the tennis courts (4 blocks.)

Impressive, I know. Even more exciting, however, is our proximity to the county fairgrounds. At a mere 3 blocks from said venue, every August we can see the lights of the Midway and smell the scents of the 4H barns from our own front yard. If we want to, we can also watch the 4th of July fireworks from our own back yard. The view is better from the middle of the street of course (at least it will be until the Jarhead gets a good enough handle on the neighbors’ schedules and/or figures out how to trim or poison their trees without getting caught) but I, for one, am not complaining.

Even more important to me than our home’s proximity to the fairgrounds, however, is its proximity to the Weyauwega Senior Village. At a mere 7 blocks from said community I can already see the lights shining on my future front door and the covered porch from where I’ll smell the scents of the 4H barns every August after the Jarhead predeceases me (as the actuarial tables suggest he will) and watch the fireworks every 4th of July. It’s going to be grand. (Not the Jarhead predeceasing me part, of course; the part where I rise like the Phoenix from the ashes of my loss and go on to find the will to live one just 7 blocks from my current home.)

Perhaps the best part is knowing how much money I’ll save on moving expenses when I emerge from the fog of my grief. Oh, I’ll probably have to hire a couple guys to move the big things, but I won’t have to hire packers or haunt the grocery store loading docks begging for banana boxes. I’ll just toss all my worldly possessions into every suitcase, cooler, duffle and dumpster I own, and roll them down the street to my nice neutral-colored, one-story, two-bedroom, handicap-accessible flat. It may take several trips but I’m up for the challenge. And I’ll need things like that to keep me from wallowing in my sorrow.

So there you have it folks: yet another reason to love Weyauwega. I guess what they say about success in real estate is true for happiness and geography. It’s all about location, location, location.

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02
Dec
14

What Would You Do?

Despite numerous posts affirming my affinity for television, there is a great deal on the tube of which I am not a fan. Examples include soap operas, confrontational talk shows, decoy dynasties, and any and all sporting events that don’t involve figure skates, tennis racquets, or hockey sticks. In addition, I have no time for likes of Dog the Bounty Hunter, Dance Moms, Toddlers OR Tiaras, semi-scripted dramas featuring shallow, insipid, spray tanned people from New Jersey, or Real Housewives from any locale. And while I have nothing but love and sympathy for the 21st century’s version of Shirley Temple, there is little in the entertainment realm that would please me more than a TLC special entitled There Goes Honey Boo-Boo wherein we discover that her family has entered the witness protection program and/or been relocated to another country, planet, or universe where there are no cameras, cable TV, Internet service providers, or streaming video options.

I don’t mean to give the impression that I’m against reality television as a concept. In fact, I am a devoted fan of several reality programs; I just prefer it be educational rather than exploitative, and articulate instead of asinine. Which is why my favorite reality shows are typically found on The Weather Channel, the History Channel, and HGTV.

One exception is a program on ABC called What Would You Do? For the uninitiated, this is a program hosted by John Quiñones wherein actors are placed in public settings and paid to display some obnoxious behavior or other as cameras record the reactions of the ordinary people around them. For example, in one episode, an actor played a Muslim clerk at a fast food joint while another played a racist customer who berated and verbally abused him repeatedly. In another episode, an actor, playing a mom in a grocery store, tells another actor, playing her child, to steal a wallet out of another actor’s purse in full view of other customers. The goal, of course, is to see if anyone will intervene, and why or why not.

More often than not, the observers are shown doing the right thing by defending the wronged party, summoning help, or, in the case of the stolen wallets, reporting the theft to the victim and then offering the thieving mother money so she could purchase groceries. In each episode the scenario is acted out a handful of times, and each time John Quiñones ultimately reveals himself to those in attendance and inquires as to the basis of any action they did or did not take.

I enjoy this program not only because I like John Quiñones, dig social experiments, and love watching good prevail over evil; I also enjoy it because on several occasions I have found myself in situations where I felt the urge to intervene, and wondering—after either giving in to or resisting that urge—if I had done the right thing and whether others would have handled the situation differently.

On one such occasion roughly twenty years ago, I was in the lobby of a portrait studio of a large department store when I witnessed a boy of about four repeatedly mistreating his two younger brothers while his mother, with an infant in her arms, tried to complete a transaction at the counter. Time after time I watched this child—whom I immediately pegged as a budding sociopath and imagine now to be living at tax payer expense in a maximum security correctional facility for the crimnally insane—smack, kick, and push his siblings onto the floor as his mother stood just feet away facing the other direction. Unsurprisingly, given that they were barely one and two years old, these poor kids would cry out in pain, whereupon their mother would ask the older boy what had happened, and he would respond by claiming one brother hit or kicked the other, or had fallen onto the floor of his own volition.

After seeing this played out for about the sixth time, I finally decided something had to be done. And so the next time the older kid assaulted one of his siblings and then lied about it, I stood up and told his mother as gently as I could that the older boy had been hitting, kicking, and pushing his helpless younger brothers the entire time.

To my surprise, she did not react with anything remotely resembling surprise or gratitude. No. Faced with someone whose only interest was to protect two of her children from the evil lying within the other, this well dressed, 30-something woman looked at me with what can only be described as defeat, and acknowledged my remarks with only the slightest of nods.

I don’t know what anyone else would have done in that situation. And I since I doubt that ABC or Mr. Quiñones would ever pay child actors to abuse other child actors, I may never know. I can only hope I did the right thing, and that my actions gave that mother the motivation she needed to get the boy some help.

Another of my favorite programs is Deal with It, which is a game show in which people are offered money to behave in outrageous ways in public and in the presence of a friend or family member who is not in on the joke. The amount participants win depends on how far they are willing to take the situation, and whether or not they can “deal with” the reactions they are getting from their companion(s) and the people around them.

This show resonates with me because so many people in my acquaintance are, as the Jarhead puts it, bat crap crazy, and/or routinely do things that other people simply would not do.

Such was the case one afternoon as he and I sat down to lunch with two elderly female relatives. With the food—four hamburgers and four orders of fries—having arrived, we all began removing the buns from our sandwiches and applying condiments. As the Jarhead and I took turns with the ketchup and mustard, I noticed one of our companions reaching for a packet of strawberry preserves. Unsure as to her intentions, I kept my mouth shut—for a change—and then watched in stunned silence as she opened the preserves and began liberally applying them to her burger.

Having met this person only twice before, I didn’t want to embarrass her by pointing out what I was sure was a mistake if it wasn’t. More importantly, as this person was near and dear to our other companion, who was not particularly fond of me, I didn’t want to make an issue of the preserves and further damage her already dim view of my character and personality.And yet, I did not want to see this person unknowingly ruin her burger and then have to choose whether to eat it, order another one, or go without. Not knowing what else to do, I sat watching out of the corner of my eye as our companion finished applying the preserves, placed the bun back atop her sandwich, then picked it up and started eating.

To this day I don’t know if the old dear had mistaken the preserves for ketchup and failed to notice, if she had mistaken preserves for ketchup and pretended not to notice, or if she was simply someone who liked fruit with her meat. Deep down, however, as a fan of What Would You Do?, Deal with It, and its predecessor, Candid Camera, a part of me wants to believe she knew exactly what she was doing with those preserves, and was simply having a little fun by seeing if we could deal with it.

24
Jul
14

On Mended Knee

Today’s post comes to you live from the twin bed in my living room where I have spent the better part of the past three weeks since being discharged from the hospital following the replacement of my right knee. Yes, to my surprise and delight I finally found a surgeon who was willing to take on the challenge of repairing the knee that has plagued me in some form or fashion since about the time Herb Brooks was preparing to make history by leading the U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team to victory over the Russians at Lake Placid. For the readers who were not alive then or who didn’t follow the Olympics, and for you who don’t follow hockey–heathens!–that was a VERY long time ago.

To give you a bit more perspective, when I first started having problems with my knee, Ronald Reagan was in the white house, I could still rock a size 10 pair of Calvins, and I was still spending every waking weekend moment practicing jumps spins, and lunges at every indoor and outdoor skating rink in the western suburbs of Minneapolis. In other words, I have lived with a bad knee for three times as long as I was alive before I first injured it–which, incidentally, was while I was practicing spins, jumps, and lunges at Braemar Arena in Edina.

I continued to abuse the knee for the next two decades by playing tennis and volleyball, and taking part in virtually any and every high impact activity available to me at the time. It was as if I were literally daring the leg to fail. In the meantime, my muscles learned to compensate for my damaged tendons, cartilage, and ligaments, which allowed me to walk, garden, do aerobics, etc. in such a way that no one knew how much pain I was in or how close the joint was to giving out and leaving me in a heap on the floor. Over the past five years it finally got so bad that I could no longer ride a bike, climb the stairs without holding onto two walls and/or railings, or even sit down without sticking my bad leg out in front of me as if spitefully planning to trip the next able bodied person to come my way.

Today, however, I can walk up and down stairs like a normal person and at a gradually increasing rate of speed, can pick things up off the floor by–wait for it–squatting with knees bent rather than bending at the waist, and can ride my elliptical trainer without passing out from pain. In fact, apart from some residual tenderness at the site of the incision and the discomfort I am experiencing as my hamstring, quadriceps, and hip flexor stretch to accommodate my new and vastly improved range of motion, I feel no pain at all.

Sadly, all these great changes almost didn’t happen. This is because the first two surgeons I spoke to–one compassionate but aloof and the other dismissive and condescending–refused to help me. Both said I needed to lose 25 pounds before they would take my case, and referred me to another surgeon who would help me achieve my weight loss goals via gastric bypass. With all due respect to those for whom this was an option, I had to decline.

“Thanks, but no thanks, fellas,” I said. Because I have a metabolic condition that won’t be improved by reducing the size of my stomach, but by increasing my level of activity–which I would not be able to do unless and until I get a new knee.

Down but not out, I eventually took the advice of my lovely friend and neighbor, Carol, and scheduled an appointment with Dr.Jeffrey McLaughlin at the Kennedy Center for the Hip and Knee. Dr. McLaughlin uses a state of the art method of knee replacement that works regardless of the patient’s age, weight, or strength. Not only that, but the surgery takes only 35 minutes–as opposed to the three hours it would take with the traditional methods employed by Doctors Condescending and Aloof–the hospital stay averages 2 days vice 8, and full recovery averages 6 to 12 months vice 18 to 24. In short, this was a better deal. A no brainer, in fact.

And so, I went for it and, after less than 4 weeks, I already function better than I did the day before I checked into the hospital on June 30th. I am also sixteen pounds lighter–no doubt the result of the 4 hours of physical therapy I do each day, the effort it took to get around the house with a walker for three weeks, and the number of trips I have to take moving things from one place to another this week since I can only carry so many things with my free had while using my fancy new cane.

Make no mistake: these past 4 weeks have not been a walk in the park, a day at the beach, or anything remotely easy or pleasant; but all that inconvenience, pain, and physical therapy have paid off. So much so, in fact, that my left knee–which itself is in pretty rough shape due to degenerative arthritis and having to take up the slack for the right one for thirty years–is now begging for the same treatment.

Given how well things went with the right knee, I will definitely be back at the Kennedy Center as soon as my right leg has recovered enough to support the left one. And, as soon as I am physically able, I plan to schedule appointments with Dr. Aloof and Dr. Condescending, so I can thank them for turning me away. For had they not turned me down, like the gal who settles for the first guy who asks her out, I would likely have settled for less than stellar care, and would never have known there were other, BETTER fish in the sea.

P.S. The title of this post comes from the discharge packet provided by the Kennedy Center, whose employees are nothing short of brilliant.




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