Monthly Archives: January 2015

To Twirl or not to Twirl

Those of us that are tennis enthusiasts have been avidly watching the Australian Open.   The world’s best tennis players are strutting their stuff in the first major of the year.  As the tournament shifts in to the later rounds, the quality of play becomes increasingly intense.

These players are world-class athletes.  Tennis at that level demands dedication, conditioning, power and skill; as well as the ability to perform at a high level under incredible pressure.  I can not think of another sport that pits two individuals against each other for hours at a time–in front of a crowd of thousands of people in the stadium and another million (or so) watching on TV.   (In contrast — no one has ever come to watch me play — even when I played a match 2 blocks from my house (humph)).

Women tennis players have not always made equal prize money to the men.  Billie Jean King and others worked hard to improve conditions and compensation for women, and wow – the women have responded.  From Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, and more… women have raised their level of professional and sheer athleticism to heights that were virtually unimaginable not so many years ago.

Professional Tennis players are young and extremely fit–which makes them more attractive than your average demographic.  I’d certainly be lying if I said the only thing I admire about Rafa Nadal was his lefty forehand.  These guys and gals work out and you can’t help but notice the results.

Which all leads me to the Eugenie Bouchard controversy.  For those of you that have not been following professional tennis in recent years, Eugenie is an incredibly talented young player from Canada.   During the post-match interview after one of her wins last week, a male reporter asked her to ‘give him a twirl of her skirt’. Really?  After her display of athleticism, skill and power, you are mostly interested in her skirt?  The request was as cringe-worthy as someone asking Roger Federer to take off his shirt or flex his muscles for the camera.

Eugenie’s best response will be on the court.  The woman has game.  And, maybe next time she’ll give the clueless reporter a closeup of her backhand instead of a ‘twirl’.

 

Interesting Times

I’m told There is a proverb:  May you Live in Interesting Times.

We gave mom a beautiful send-off last Saturday. She would have loved the flowers, the music, the pictures, and the testimonials.  There were tears and laughter.  In tribute to her life-long passion for music, we had several beautiful songs by wonderful musicians; including a couple pieces by the chamber choir that Guzzy is part of, and I joined them for the benediction

It was a very well-attended service, with relatives and old friends, some of which I  haven’t seen in decades.  Unfortunately, I was so busy with the logistics of the service that I didn’t get a chance to talk with everyone.

We invited everyone to our house afterwards and I was able to visit with those who came out.   A big shout-out to Dan who (as promised) was the host with the  most — making sure that guests were greeted and beverages were flowing; so I could chill.  We ended up with a TON of leftovers from the official luncheon as well as a big ham we cooked for the occasion.  People left our house with zip lock bags with pounds of food in them.

The 21 month-old grand-girls did very well with all the commotion of the day and with an abbreviated nap.  We enjoyed a more relaxed day with them on Sunday.  Dan and I babysat for a few hours so their parents could go out for dinner.   They do keep everyone hopping!  I once read that watching small children doesn’t require a lot of concentration, but it does keep you from concentrating on anything else.  I think that sums it up quite nicely.

Little X1 was particularly charming–wandering about the house, saying ‘hi’ with a big smile.  She also played several songs for us on the piano.   Both girls will frequently hand me a book and then back into my lap.  Little X2 is  prone to dramatic melt downs when things don’t go her way.  Usually she can be cajoled into a better mood with some cuddling and/or play time, but not always.   For awhile she and her sister enjoyed ripping petals off a couple flowers – and X2 thoughtfully pressed some of the pieces into her ear.  Sometimes you have to make your own fun!

Everything was supposed to be back to normal by Monday morning.  However, in the wee hours I got violently ill. By the time I am writing this (wee hours on Tuesday)… everyone in my house is very sick.  After about 24 miserable hours, I am starting to feel a bit better; but Guzzy and Dan are still down for the count.  It’s rotten timing – Guzzy has end-of-semester papers due and finals, and Dan has an important interview in the morning.

2015 has certainly been interesting thus far.  In fact, I am hoping it gets more dull for awhile.

 

To the Woman on the Treadmill

Please stop.

My heart missed a beat as I saw you on the treadmill the other day.   While it is possible you suffer from a metabolic disorder, or advanced cancer, or some other life-threatening illness; the most likely cause of your skeletal appearance is anorexia, and my heart breaks for you.  Your body needs to preserve, not burn, precious calories.

I hope there are people who do know and love you that are also imploring you to get help.  I hope that you are able to quiet the horrible, awful ED voices long enough to seek help–perhaps you are already doing so; but were simply unable to resist the ED-driven urge of the treadmill on that particular day.

You are important.  You deserve a full and rich life, free of ED.   But….. please stop, at least long enough to ask for help.  Call your mom, your dad, your sister, your best friend.  Call NEDA…  call or email me (paulaponders1@gmail.com).   Recovery is hard–but it IS possible; and it is worth the journey – because your life matters.

10 Things to do in January in Wisconsin

1.   Shovel Snow.  Or in my case, I enjoy watching my husband dispatch the snow from the warmth of the living room.  He doesn’t seem to enjoy this as much as I do.

2.  Look Outside.  It was very pretty on the 2 days of sunshine we’ve had so far.

3.  Take down the Christmas tree.  This is a major project at our house, resulting with jamming the now bare tree into the snow in our backyard where we enjoy  seeing it for a few more weeks before it succumbs to gravity and wind.

4.  Catch up on Reading, preferably with a cup of cocoa in hand.  Sign up for Goodreads and start keeping track of your reading; because like everything else in our modern lives, reading isn’t ‘real’ until you’ve left a record of it on social media.

5.  Play indoor sports, such as indoor tennis or pickleball or even yoga:  A change of clothes is recommended before going outside–nothing quite like the unpleasant shock of being outside in subzero weather with a sweaty bra.  In the absence of a fresh change, a bulky winter coat can mask whatever you choose to wear (or not) underneath.

6.  Plan something for the spring / summer / Fall.  Thus far I have kicked off planning for a NEDA fund raising walk in the fall and a family reunion for the summer.  I am also tinkering with the idea of going to tennis camp this spring.  It is nice to plan activities in warmer locations or for warmer times of the year.

7.  Buy a new winter coat.  They are on sale in January – they’re right next to the swimsuits

8.  Watch football and/or the Australian Open.  I will  watch the Packers in the playoffs with my husband, and he will watch some tennis from Down Under with me.   What blows my mind is that there are (many) people willing to pay large sums of money to sit in Lambeau Field in Green Bay Wisconsin in the middle of January to watch a football game.  People are funny.

9.  Watch some movies or binge watch a series on TV, preferably curled up with a loved one by the Fireplace. (At our house, we have named our space heater ‘The Fireplace’. )

10.  Do an outdoor / snow / winter sports.  I am told these can be fun.

Resuming

Life goes on, even as we grieve.

I spent time today catching up with many aspects of my life that I’ve neglected over the past several weeks.  As I waded through my backlog of emails, I was surprised to discover that my senior womens’ tennis team has completely fallen apart in a deluge of attrition.  For the first time since I’ve qualified to play as a senior, I find myself teamless.   There are only three teams left in this particular league, and I have made inquiries… but thus far no one is breaking down my door to add me to their team.

On the plus side, I discovered a local venue for pickleball by reading through the Quarterly newsletter that our village publishes.  One of my husband’s (few) character flaws is that he doesn’t play tennis.  Last year, in search of a physical activity that we could do together, we took some pickleball lessons and played a few times at a local tennis club. Pickleball is a lot of fun and easy to learn.  On Sunday mornings, they would kick the tennis folks off a court and put up some pickleball nets. However, demand exceeded supply and the courts were usually quite crowded with lots of wait times; so over time we quit going.

So, I was really happy to discover an indoor venue mere blocks from our house with open play on Tuesday evenings (as well as many other times that are best suited to retirees).   Tonight we showed up, paddles in hand, and played several games.  We generally feel pretty spry among the Pickleball set and we more than hold our own among the more experienced players; although  I am prone to misjudging the paddle length, since a pickleball paddle is much shorter than a tennis racquet; resulting in the occasional whiff.

Sometime over the course of the last couple of weeks, my husband and son celebrated a birthday,  it was Christmas and then it was New Years. Football was played.   I am a month into a new job, but it doesn’t feel real yet.  The last month has been an absolute blur, as I am (once again) reminded that despite the best laid plans, life has a way of surprising and gobsmacking us.

We still have unopened presents under the tree.  I’m sure it will all get sorted out….. eventually.

 

The Vigil – Final Chapter

Thursday, Jan. 1st.  We did not think mom would live to see 2015.  Mom has been much the same for the past week– unresponsive and near death.  She has not had anything to eat or drink in  two weeks.  I hold her hand and gently sing to her.  Her breathing is shallow with many periods of apnea.  I spend an uneventful night in her room.

Friday,Saturday:  More of the same.   My brothers, dad and I all visit regularly – but no real change.    My oldest daughter expresses that it seems odd to be going about their family’s holiday schedule  even as grandma lay dying.   Life goes on, even as we grieve.

Sunday, January 4:  Family is with mom throughout the day. She slips away peacefully in the late evening.  My dad, husband, brothers,and  sisters-in-law all gather at Hospice.  While there is sadness, the prevailing sentiment is relief.  She is (finally) at peace and free of the suffering that has dominated her last years on earth.   Many of us believe she is in a better place, free of pain and suffering.  My brother conjectures that maybe she can lobby for the rest of us to join her in heaven some day.

We sing Amazing Grace as her body is ushered down the hall onto the funeral home vehicle, with our long-distance sister singing along via phone.

Rest in peace mom.