Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Hard to miss hard court dedication at special place

This morning, George was to speak at a dedication for the new hard tennis courts at The Holyoke Canoe Club. He got the project started, donating $10,000, and others followed his lead and reached the goal of $25,000. I did my little part. He said some 60 people donated. Anyone who donated could cut a piece of the ribbon. 

When they reached the goal, he had said, with a big grin on his face, that he felt like George Bailey from A Wonderful Life. 

Apparently enough people said they wouldn't attend that the celebration this morning would be under the limit of 50 people set by the governor. I thought of going. I really wanted to. But concerns about my funky immune stopped me. He is always there, so I think I will go over this afternoon to ask how it went. 

I did a Serenity Yoga Studio yoga class (at home) during the time of the celebration. The teacher lives nearby, and next time I might do it at her house. I gave Maddie a good walk first so that she wouldn't come and try to sit on the mat with me. She seems to like to do that. I like it when she lies down beside me but not when she hogs, or rather dogs, the mat. 

George has helped me so much during all of my comebacks. It's not just the tennis. It's having the clinics – summer camp for adults. I told him I don't know if it's improving my tennis, but I come for the fun. He said it is, so I'll take him at his word. It's figuring out a way, this year, to have socially distant watermelon during breaks and place our chairs far enough apart and telling stories. We both talk about our fathers and tennis. "My father always said..."

My favorite of my own is, "Don't kid yourself how good you are when you're hitting with the pro." George says it's not totally true because he often hits us hard-to-get balls.

It's the breeze and the river and his "air-conditioned court," the one closest to the river. 

It was telling me not to take more than one step when I first came back after my fourth stem cell transplant, because that's all I could do. If you didn't know him, you would have been insulted by the way he said it..."Don't go for that ball, you won't make it." 

When I got to the point of being expected to get more balls, if I missed one, I would joke, "but I was in a coma." That would have been 11 years ago, when the coma was in the recent past. One day when the coma was farther into the past, I said, "I guess I can't use that excuse any more." So I stopped. 

In any case, he was a big part of this story I wrote for espnW.com about how tennis helped me recover from leukemia.


Well, I guess I forgot to post that one!

Later in the day we went over and hit some balls and sat on chairs at the hard court and heard about the dedication. The idea is that these courts will be playable further into the cold weather than the clay courts. If the inside season started now, I wouldn't go in. I would of course miss tennis in the winter. If things change, maybe I would change my mind. I look kind of silly in this mask in the photo but I took the photo after tennis at Longmeadow High School courts with a little explanation of why the smell from this kind of mask brings back bad memories of wearing these when I was severely immunocompromised. Hey, this is kind of related to tennis: something I wrote about backhanded compliments. 

Sunday, August 9, 2020

'There's no crying in tennis'


In my opinion, the goal of a volley drill is to keep it going, to practice control, not to win a point. You don't want to hit a pouf ball because you need momentum, but you don't want to slam it either. I probably shouldn't have said anything, but I did on Wednesday when the player on the other side of the net was playing speed ball. We got nowhere near the number of volleys that George wanted. I don't remember exactly what I said, but it was something along the lines of "I think it works better to hit it more slowly." Or maybe it was, "I think it works better when you don't hit it as hard."

Her response: "I'm here for me too."

Say what?

She was not one of the regulars. I actually know her from Friday night mixers and team tennis, and we have a good rapport, so I didn't get why she was so edgy. (I was going to say hostile but that's a little bit much.) People understandably don't like to be told anything by anyone except for the pro. I get it. But at least have a better response than "I'm here for me too." It didn't make any sense. Who knows, maybe it bothered the writer in me. "Here for me too" doesn't work if you're not keeping the ball in play.

A friend (who we love) who doesn't live here anymore hit it equally hard in drills, also to the point of defeating the purpose. If we pointed it out, she would just say "I can't hit it any other way!" or something like that. Nobody got defensive and nobody got upset. We would just laugh.

In any case, on Wednesday, we rotated soon after. In two rotations, I ended up next to George and opposite the hard hitter and another player. One of her first balls hit me hard in the arm. My skin is very sensitive, and my sympathetic nervous system is probably over-reactive. I had to fight back tears. (There's no crying in tennis!) I grabbed my arm and gave her a look. "I said I'm sorry. It wasn't that hard," she said. I didn't hear the sorry part but I don't doubt it. But wait...the "It wasn't that hard part" wasn't necessary. It hurt, so it was hard enough. When we rotated again, I walked off the court to collect some balls and collect myself.

That left three in the next rotation. My spot would have been against the hard hitter. "Ronni doesn't want to hit with me," she said to them, loudly. It sounded like playground talk. One of the others called over that she would hit with me instead. I actually wasn't avoiding her...It was hot, we had been there a long time, and I was just taking a break. But the drill called for four people and I didn't want to mess it up, so I went back and hit with the other person.

It all ironed out by the end of the morning. But it was not your usual magic day at the Canoe Club. I thought I would get black-and-blue but at least that didn't happen.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

(Not so) long ago and far away

I made a book for Katie with pictures from our California trip Feb. 20-24, under the wire before the lockdown. We both looked at the glow on our faces in the photo with Nancy, Serena, Goldie and baby Leo on Stinson Beach, our last stop before we came back, and said how happy we looked. I used the photo for the back cover. I leaned the book, with the back cover facing out, on a table in my dining room, instead of putting it away. 

 In perhaps a Freudian slip, when I went to write that we said how happy we looked, I wrote sad instead of said. Sad, because who knows when we will be able to do something like that again. And because it seemed so innocent to hand a phone to someone on the beach instead of darting away like we would have to do now. 

Back in the real world in dermatology land, I am treating two spots with Efudex, the chemotherapy cream that patients love to hate. The one that is the least problematic, an actinic keratosis on my face, is red and angry (that's what it's supposed to do) and the one that is actually a skin cancer (squamous cell) on my chest, is not doing much. 

I wrote a little something on how getting to the dermatologist can be a pain. It just came out but I wrote it before my latest visit, when I finally did it right. 

You wouldn't think that the lions, Patience and Fortitude, guarding the 42nd Street library would have much to do with neuropathy, but I wrote this post connecting the two. The connection occurred to me while I was running and needed a distraction from the pins and needles in my feet.

Missing live theater, I also wrote about virtual ways to stay connected to theater during the pandemic. 

I have a thin skin, literally and figuratively, so I got very upset the other day when someone told me that I was not as appreciative as I should have been when the neighborhood ladies brought me food after my first stem cell transplant. She said instead of being gracious, I had told some of them i didn't LIKE the food.

That was 17 years ago.

I'm not sure where that came from.

And I'm not sure where some of these sayings come from, but I was sick as a dog. I doubt I said I didn't like the food, but even if I did, whoever was bothered could have given me a break. I probably said I couldn't eat the food, because the rules after stem cell transplant are no food cooked outside your house, due to possible contamination on someone's counter or in transit. Or maybe she got this report after the food deliveries were OK, but under strict guidelines about what I could and couldn't eat. 

But hey Callen turned three and Nell turned five last month.

I hear Nell is working on her two-handed backhand with the tennis racquet I gave her.

You heard me say that I'd never see my grandchildren, right? 
So, some things are more important than what someone might say about you.