On a Boat? Really?

Sunday mornings are sacred to John and me, yet not for the reason that immediately comes to mind. We’re not churchgoers. What we are, instead, are freaks about big Sunday breakfasts. Religiously so, you might say. We look forward to our weekly repast of omelets or French toast or pancakes, coffee and tea and fruit smoothies while perusing the Seattle Times from front page to funnies all snug and warm in our jammies.

jammies

We vary from our ritual only begrudgingly, so when neighbors invited us to breakfast one Sunday morning before they were scheduled to head back to their second home in California, we were stumped. We could think of no excuse to decline. Not even a little white lie would work. We live across the street from them and if we were to claim we had other plans, we’d have to leave the house — meaning we’d miss our cherished Sunday morning jammies breakfast, regardless, thus defeating the purpose of trying to salvage it in the first place.

We’ve briefly considered postponing our Sunday routine to Monday in cases like this, but truth is, it’s simply not the same. It’s the newspaper. Sunday’s issue includes the travel section, NW Arts & Life, the extended comics page in color, the New York Times AND Merl Reagle’s Sunday crossword puzzles, and the Pacific NW Magazine. Monday’s paper, on the other hand, is flimsy. Lifeless. Exhausted, no doubt, after the robustness of Sunday’s offering. There’s no enjoying a leisurely breakfast over such a lackluster rag. It’s Sunday’s paper, or nothing.

A day or two after accepting our neighbors’ kind yet mortifying invitation, we were hit with a second bombshell: the event’s venue had changed. The meal had been sabotaged by mutual acquaintances — boat owners who, for some reason, decided it would be more fun to eat in the galley of their fishing vessel.

bateaunoir-md

Granted, these people have a fine, fine boat. Beautiful, really, all shiny brass and teak inside. But the Queen Mary, it ain’t. Squeezing six breakfast guests into the eating quarters was cozy, to say the least, forcing the owners of the craft to remain standing in the tiny kitchen space. Plus, in order to quell the threat of a claustrophobic episode from any of the diners crammed inside, the ship’s owners left the hatch open. It was cold in there, an atmospheric condition that no amount of instant coffee was going to offset.

You know what was weirdest of all? We never left port. Eight of us huddled inside that boat, tied securely to the dock, for two long hours. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m a firm believer that the relative discomfort of serving a meal inside a ship’s galley makes sense only when you’ve actually traversed water.

Sitting in the fishing boat, balancing my plate of breakfast taco (I dared wrestle with only one), I looked around the galley and focused briefly on each couple, imagining how much more agreeable it would have been in any one of their warm, comfy kitchens. We all live mere blocks from each other, at the farthest, and only a two-minute drive from the neighborhood marina where we were being held hostage on that damn boat. Ahoy matey, this is asinine.

To atone for the heartbreak of missing one of our Sunday services, so to speak, the following week we did it up big. Or I should say, did it up pig.

pig

At the store where John works, they give their past-prime produce and vegetable trimmings to a local hog farmer who in turn occasionally brings them a freshly processed pig. Normally we don’t partake in piggie, but John knows I’m a sucker for bacon. I mean, c’mon, who isn’t? And because this hog farmer raises his animals the way it’s supposed to be done, John brought home a slab of bacon as a Sunday surprise.

I haven’t attempted to cook pork of any fashion in years. This time, not only did I burn it to a crisp in the pan, we then stuck the four pieces in the convection oven to keep them warm while we prepared the remainder of our breakfast.

We hadn’t noticed the oven was set at 450 degrees. When we opened it to retrieve our special treat, we were faced with four shriveled ribbons of dried pork briquettes.

They were delicious.

And best of all, we didn’t have to eat them on a boat.

Chopped Liver

Strike three, four, five and six.

umpire-and-batter-md

Or maybe it’s seven. I’ve lost track of how many part-time jobs I’ve applied for since we moved here. All I know is twice in the last week or so, I was turned down yet again. Neither rejection was my fault (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) but it still doesn’t do much for the ol’ ego.

The stinkiest part of it is that I really, honestly thought I had this last one. After a part-time professional organizer position fell apart — the owner of the company decided not to expand to this part of Washington after all (or so she said) — I emailed the folks who own an organic apple orchard just down the street from us to see if they’d be needing someone to work their hard cider tasting room come April. The wife replied quickly explaining they were “crazy busy” right that second, but she definitely wanted to talk with me.

Hopeful, wouldn’t you say?

In a subsequent email, she explained that while they already have plenty of help for the tasting room, they do have a large empty hoop house inside which they’d like to plant vegetables but don’t have the time to do it themselves. They wondered if I’d be interested in helping them plan a season or three and manage the crew.

Wow, how perfect does that sound for a former organic vegetable farmer such as myself, right? Wrong. See, I wasn’t the crop planner at the farm I co-owned. My husband John did all that. I, on the other hand, concentrated more on harvests and how much of this and that we needed for our bi-weekly markets, which I also worked. I did the bookkeeping, too, and payroll. I did them poorly (and I have a stack of correction notices from the IRS to prove it), but I did them.

First and foremost, however, my main role at the farm was as Princess. That job, I had down to an art. And oddly enough, I’ve yet to run across a want ad looking for one.

Nope, it appears what everyone wants is…John. For one thing, he’d be perfect for the apple orchard gig. He’s busy with his part-time job assistant managering the produce department at the groovy local foods store, though, and has no desire to give that up for a seasonal position, even one that seems almost custom-made for him.

Come to think of it, his produce department job was custom-made for him. He fell into it by answering an ad for part-time cashier and when the owners saw his resume, they created this altogether new position specifically for him.

Know what happened with my resume after I took it to a different local food store in response to their ad for part-time cashier? Nothing, that’s what. A big, fat nada. Not only did the owners not offer an even better, more streamlined job for me like John’s store did for him…they didn’t even call me to interview for the cashier job.

It doesn’t end there. John and I started playing pickleball at the same time yet not surprisingly, he’s much, much better at it than I. John’s a natural at sports, see. I’m, well, not. That’s not to say I’m lousy at the game — I can hold my own — but John has far surpassed my skill level. So much so that on a recent afternoon, a call came in on my phone from one of the Pros from Dover (as we refer to the most experienced players in the neighborhood) that went something like this:

Pro: Hi Jo. Is John at work today?

Me: No, he’s home.

Pro: He’s home? Right now?

Me: Yes.

Pro: Um, we’re up here at the court and need another player.

Me: Okay, I’ll tell him. It’ll only be John coming, though, because I’m not…

Pro: Great! Thanks! Bye!

I can’t say I was tickled pink at the implied insult, but I’ve never thought of myself as an athletic equal to my husband so it didn’t hurt my feelings really. I’m pretty much a klutz through and through, and am able to live with that.

The same Pro from Dover called again a day or two later, only this time it was about something other than pickleball. This time, she was calling to ask a question of me. Turns out, she’s on the neighborhood Nominating Committee and wanted to know if I’d be willing to run for a seat on the Board of Directors.

Well well well! How about that? Never mind that I have no desire to be on the Board — all those boring meetings — it still felt pretty good to think my name came up as a possibility. After all, in this community there are around 600 households from which to choose a nominee. Puffed with pride and feeling self-confident, I decided honesty was the best policy and told the Pro straight out that, while I was flattered, I was going to decline.

Apparently her policy is honesty too, as she immediately admitted it was John’s name, not mine, that originally came up in the Nominating Committee meeting. They just figured he probably wouldn’t have the time — being employed and all — making me, the unemployed one, a logical second choice.

So much for pride. And self-confidence. I’ll tell you what, though: one of these days, somebody, somewhere, is going to be in need of a princess.

princess

And chances are, when that happens they’ll offer John the job first.

Dancing Queen

Because I seem unable to form the word “no” anymore, I was recently recruited to be part of the Drill Team — a chorus line dance ensemble — at the upcoming Cape George Revue. Cape George, by the way, is my neighborhood. The Revue is its annual variety show. And the Drill Team uses — get this — actual electric drills as props. Who would have imagined that?

Yeah, I know. Pretty much everybody. Especially everybody who’s lived in Cape George for more than twelve months, it turns out, since the Drill Team always performs at the Revue. Different songs each year, happily, and different costumes…but always with drills.

Maybe I was enlisted because word has gotten out I don’t have a terribly full weekly schedule. While that is absolutely true, what the other Drill Team members are not aware of is that not only did they secure someone with ample time on her hands, as a bonus they’re getting a person with a background in professional dance. On an honest-to-goodness stage. With matching outfits and everything.

tap dancers

That’s me, on the far right. I was exactly as talented as I looked.

In fact, one year (because yes indeedy, I tapped my way to stardom several years in a row!), despite an instruction from the choreographer to STAY IN UNISON even if you know in your heart of hearts the other girls lost step with the accompanying piano score, I rebelled. Thing is, I was born with rhythm. Deep, deep in my soul. I wasn’t about to shuffle-ball-change on beat number 6 when I knew darn well it was supposed to happen two pulses earlier. No sirree. I clicked and clacked to my own inner drummer at that recital and was darned proud of myself for doing so. Never mind that at the end of the song I was headed stage left while the rest of the tappers remained smack in the center.

It was pure serendipity that the Cape George Drill Team found me, don’t you think?

There’s a down side to being chosen for the Drill Team, however, one I wasn’t aware of when the words “Sure I’d love to join” shot out of my mouth too fast to cram them back in: rehearsals are scheduled every Sunday for two solid months. Apparently, it takes a whole lot of dance sessions to memorize the steps (and drill moves) to Shania Twain’s ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman.’

I made it to the first rehearsal a week ago, right on time, drill in hand. We learned the moves for half the song in the 1-1/2 hour stint that had been set aside, after which the team leader announced she’d be out of town for this week’s session and thus would not be here to teach us the steps (and drill moves) for the remainder of the tune. Still, we were instructed to meet at the clubhouse as planned to practice what we’d learned so far.

I didn’t go. Not out of disrespect for the process, certainly, nor because I underestimate the importance of utmost perfection come Revue time. To be the creme de la creme at neighborhood variety shows, practice is essential. At least for the amateurs in the group.

Yet I’m no amateur. Not only do I have experience performing for an audience, I have experience performing for an audience while carrying a prop.

baton twirlers

Theater, you see, is in my blood.

Join the Club

I wasn’t one of the popular kids in high school. Too tall and lanky, too bashful, and yes I’ll admit it, too dorky. Almost always I was one of the last people chosen on a team in Phys. Ed. class, and the only clubs I belonged to were of the scholastic sort. No fashion club for me; no yearbook club or prom committee. I wasn’t invited to join and honestly, I wasn’t the type anyway.

Fortunately, my social life improved greatly once the horridly awkward days of high school came to a merciful end, and by the time I was settled into college I was able to let loose of most my inhibitions (being introduced to pot my freshman year probably helped). While I wouldn’t exactly say I flowered into a hipster — or more accurately, given the decade, a hippie — I was at least able to shed some of my earlier insecurities and felt more comfortable in group activities.

Still, I never belonged to a social club. The closest I got was when John and I became members of a racquetball club in the mid-‘80s, and that was only because we enjoyed the game and had no other option to play. When that came to an end, the only club laying claim to us as members was Costco. They’re not picky, those Costco folks. Pony up your annual membership fee and you’re set — tall, short, lanky, chubby, dorky, cool, it matters not.

Eventually we and our Costco cards moved up here to semi-retire. John’s a semi, at least, with his part-time job. Thus far I’m full-out retire, with local job creators not terribly interested in inviting me to join the employment club. I suppose that’s part of the reason, in fact, that when a neighbor asked me to be a member of her book club, I went for it. I figured if I’m going to be a retiree, I might as well behave like one.

Who would have imagined the slippery slope. Soon enough, I was approached about another book club — still in this neighborhood, yet with a completely different set of people. And although I made it clear to the woman who queried about my interest in her club that I already belonged to one book club and couldn’t possibly join a second, a week or two later I was handed a piece of paper with that month’s assigned book and the date and place her club was to meet.

I tried to pretend it didn’t happen. Shortly afterward I received an email from Book Club No. 1 and before I could say “I haven’t bought the book yet,” a similar email from Book Club No. 2 popped into my inbox regarding a different tome altogether.

While this was all transpiring, I did indeed read a book of short stories and a collection of essays.

books

Neither of them were assigned by the book clubs, of course. Those books, I ignored.

I’m starting to question whether I’m really club material.

Regardless, when the manager of the food bank invited me to a girls night out one Thursday evening — a club, of sorts — I kind of hated to say no. Not only do I admire the heck out of her, but she’s also a lot of fun and there would be other food bank volunteers there, people I wanted to get to know better. I decided it wouldn’t hurt to join in just this once. Besides, there would be wine. My resolve holds up only so long when you throw wine into the mix.

During the course of the evening, I found out these women meet for happy hour every other Thursday. It isn’t off the cuff; it’s a commitment. There are no prerequisites like book assignments, yet it screams social club nonetheless. What is it with the people around here? I spent the last portion of our get-together formulating an excuse to miss the next meeting.

A recent invitation to breakfast and a rousing game of Bananas (a mashup of Scrabble, crossword puzzles and elementary school) seemed innocent enough, so I set off that morning to join the four other women who’d be there. We had a great time. Lots of laughs. So much so, at one point the woman sitting to my right suddenly blurted out, “We should do this every month!”

Oh dear.

Not My Job

I used to be yogurt and drinks. Not alcoholic drinks, mind you. We are talking the Food Bank after all, and I can’t imagine handing each client a bottle of Jack Daniels, or even a six-pack of Bud Light. The beverages I was in charge of distributing were more along the lines of orange juice or cranberry drink, with a pomegranate kombucha or coconut water/green tea combo thrown in a time or two to liven things up.

Then the multi-millionaire bumped me. Such is the way of the monied, isn’t it? Thems that has, gets? To be fair, I understand the Food Bank manager’s decision to bring in ol’ Ritchie Rich — the quest for funding is a constant challenge in the world of non-profits, and it sure doesn’t hurt to have someone with overflowing pockets on your side.

This particular well-heeled fellow is the very one who purchased the old cannery building on the waterfront and turned the entire thing into a condo for himself and his wife. Fortunately, they left the exterior pretty much as it was so it continues to blend in with the other historic downtown buildings. That’s it there at the lower right corner, the pitch-roofed structure just on the other side of the pier.

waterfront

I’ll bet he has one hell of a view. And now, every Wednesday, he also has my yogurt and drink station at the Food Bank.

food bank sign

Truth is, I was a temporary fill-in at that spot anyway. The regular yogurt and drink person is spending the winter in Southern California and I knew all along that when she returned, I’d be reassigned. To which station, I don’t know. The manager will find me a permanent place somewhere, though, that much is certain. See, for some crazy reason, she’s thinks I’m the greatest. The Rolls Royce of volunteers. She decided as much the first day I walked into the joint, before I’d done a lick of work or uttered maybe a dozen words.

That she has no real basis for placing me on a pedestal (or in the case of the Food Bank, a cracked fold-out table) is something I don’t intend to argue with. I’ll take all the accolades I can get, warranted or not.

When Mr. Money Bags arrived on the scene, I bid a silent adieu to my yogurt and beverage table and spent the work day substituting for the vacationing computer check-in lady. It’s an easy gig — you sit at the front desk and on an Excel spreadsheet, type a “1” beside the name of every person coming to get food. (Even I’m enough of a computer wizard to handle it, and that’s saying something.) At the end of the day, the computer totals up how many clients came through.

Sharing the desk with me was 92-year-old Grace and her stack of paper print-outs with the exact information as on the computer. Every time I typed a “1,” Grace thumbed through the pages and felt-tip penned a red splotch beside the same name on her list. Why the duplication of effort? From what I gathered, simply to give Grace something to do.

Which would be great if her final total agreed with the one on the Excel spreadsheet. It didn’t that day — my tally was 273; hers came out to 256 — and Grace was convinced it was the fault of the computer (in other words, me). As all the other volunteers slowly filed out of the building, Grace and I sat firm while she recited the name of every person on her list who visited that day and one-by-one, I double-checked the computer to make sure I’d entered them all correctly.

I had. As Grace once more began scratching her numbers onto a piece of paper to try to find the error, my resolve wore thinner and thinner until I finally reached over and snatched her tally sheet, grabbed a calculator and added them up myself. When I showed her the total — 273 — she declared, “Yes, see? That’s what I had written down.”

It hadn’t been, of course.

I realize I should have been more patient. Yet patience isn’t one of my strong suits and besides, Grace talked pretty much nonstop while we shared that desk, meaning I had my head turned her way for a neck-breaking six hours with relief coming only in the seconds it took to search a name on the computer and enter the corresponding “1.” Still, once the aspirins I dry-swallowed as I exited the Food Bank took hold, I was able to appreciate how the experience maybe wasn’t all that bad. Maybe.

Next week I’m being moved to the bread table. It’s in the adjacent room, out of sight from my beloved yogurt and drinks, and I have to get to the Food Bank an hour earlier in order to sort the various bread products and arrange them on the shelves. At least I won’t be the front desk again, however, for which I’ll be most grateful.

Regardless, when Grace arrives and settles into her chair, I’ll sincerely bid her a fine good morning. At 92 years old, and having volunteered at the Port Townsend Food Bank every week since she was 78, it’s she who deserves the real accolades.

So thank you Grace, very much. There needs to be more people like you in this world. Could I ask you one little favor though? If I ever work the front desk again, do you think you could maybe take a few minutes beforehand and learn how to use the calculator?

Unworthy

There is no logical explanation why I should be intimidated by her. I’m not bashful by nature. Just the opposite, actually, unless you stick me at a podium in front of a large audience; should that happen, I turn into a quaking, tongue-tied buffoon. A one-on-one confab is usually no problem. Yet when I attempt conversation with this particular woman, I’m suddenly an awkward 14-year-old again, one who’s been forced to sit at the grownups’ table at the monthly church supper.

It isn’t her fault. From what I’ve gathered the two times I’ve been around her, she’s a truly lovely, unassuming person. Come to think of it, she’s the one who’s a bit shy. In a totally charming way. Which, of course, intimidates the hell out of me.

female doctor

Oh, and did I mention she’s an M.D.? She doesn’t practice anymore, however. According to her husband — a surgeon I’m perfectly comfortable with — she quit the doctor gig because of her slight shyness. It made it a little difficult for her to be a family practitioner.

You’d think that would bring the intimidation factor down a notch, wouldn’t you? To my perceived societal level? Nah. She’s still an M.D., whether a practicing one or not. Anyway, it’s not the doctor thing that throws me off, case in point her surgeon spouse and the fact that I’ve known plenty of people with impressive credentials. Ph.D’s, J.D.’s, C.E.O.’s, C.P.A.’s, S.O.B.’s, T.G.I.F.’s. I’ve chatted up any number of multi-initialed types without feeling the tiniest hint of an inferiority complex.

Heck, in our neighborhood alone I’ve broken bread with a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, a renowned Classical musician who conducted orchestra at the Lincoln Center, a professional artist whose photography has been shown in galleries around the world, published authors and more psychoanalysts than you could shake a stick at. (Although I wouldn’t advise stick shaking if at all avoidable — you might never hear the end of how your anger issues were your mother’s fault somehow).

It isn’t this woman’s physical appearance, either, that reduces my interpersonal skills to those of a trained monkey. I mean, she’s slender and pretty — more cute than beautiful, really — but I’ve been good friends with some real lookers through the years. In fact, I recently hit it off with a downright knockout who lives nearby. She’s ten years my senior yet when we’re together, she’s the one who turns heads. It doesn’t bother me. Much.

Whatever the case, I was determined to exude nothing but confidence in my next encounter with the charmingly shy, non-practicing M.D. She even opened the door by sending an email saying she hoped I’d make it to the New Year’s Day party we’d both been invited to. This was going to be my Big Chance to behave like a Big Girl.

buttons

It might have turned out that way, too, if I hadn’t worn my sweater with all different sized and shaped buttons.

She immediately complimented me on the sweater, and I explained it had been a Christmas gift from John. Isn’t it something that he buys most of my clothes for me! Yes, ha ha! My husband sure doesn’t buy my clothes! Smiles all around, buddies trading spousal stories. The muscles in my neck began to relax as I reached for my wine.

I noticed her look at it funny. Did she think I’d had too much? It was only my second glass, I swear!

“All those different buttons remind me of the curtains I’m working on,” she said, finally, her gaze slowly shifting away from the wine and back to my sweater.

“Oh, you make curtains?”

“Yes, I love to sew! You too?” She appeared hopeful, as if we’d soon be giggling over the intricacies of hemlines, or how best to cut along the bias.

“No, no. Not at all,” I disappointed. “In fact, one year my mother-in-law offered to buy me a sewing machine and I told her not to.”

“…oh.”

I smiled weakly and muttered something incoherent. Any poise I’d previously mustered fell with a splat to the floor.

Later, she showed a small group of us how you can hold your arms straight out from your body, and by placing one fist on top of the other starting at the horizon, be able to tell what time it is. “It works the same for everyone,” she explained, “since each person’s arms and fists are proportionate!”

Had I been able to come up with a good segue, I might have interjected a little tidbit of my own by pointing out the best way to get rid of hiccups is to get on your hands and knees and drink a full glass of water upside down. That likely would have only reinforced her opinion of me as a drunkard, though. A drunkard who wouldn’t pick up a needle and thread if someone had gashed their foot — on one of my many broken wine glasses — and needed emergency stitching STAT.

So instead, I chuckled with amazement along with everyone else and made a mental note to add “knows clever anecdotes about telling time” to the list of possible causes for my uncharacteristic timidity around this woman.

Who’s to say what she’ll come up with next time I see her. All I know is whether she announces she’s found a cure for cancer or the best way to wash windows without leaving streaks, I’m grabbing the first 14-year-old girl I find — preferably one with braces who has a huge crush on that cute boy in third period U.S. History class — and we’re headed to the mall for an afternoon gabfest at the food court. Quality time spent with an intellectual and emotional equal should be just the fix I need.

The Meaning of the Game

Playing sports is a positive activity, right? Good for the body, good for the mind. Gathering together for backyard volleyball, touch football or a rousing game of horseshoes also builds friendships by shoring up feelings of camaraderie through fair play and goodwill, no matter the outcome of the competition. As the old adage goes, it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.

Right. Tell that to Lance Armstrong. To Tanya Harding. Mike Tyson. Granted, these athletes had risen light years above the level of, say, a neighborhood pickup basketball game by the time their need to win led them to engage in such ruthless behavior (and ultimately topple them into infamy). Yet even on the neighborhood playing field, competitive sports often bring out the worst in a person.

racquetball

John and I used to play racquetball and I remember well how combative people could be, especially in the local leagues. The way some of them behaved, you’d have thought there was real live money stashed inside those chintzy plastic trophies. Of course, there never was. (What did you say? Oh…how did I know the trophies were empty? Um, heh heh. Somebody told me.)

It’s been years since we’ve partaken in organized sports. Well, besides John’s brief tenure in a regional basketball league. They played at nearby Leander High whose school song was “Meander in Leander,” an inspiring ode to mediocrity if there ever was one. No matter the motto, however, those games were brutal, as are pretty much all team sports whether professional or amateur. It’s human nature, I suppose.

So it should have come as no surprise when we were first exposed to the phenomenon at the neighborhood pickleball court. But surprise us, it did. I mean, we’re talking about a doubles game where each side whacks a whiffle ball back and forth with racquets only slightly larger than pingpong paddles. One where the rules, when written down, could fit on a cocktail napkin. Don’t get me wrong; John and I love the game. It’s just, you know, pickleball.

Consequently, we were taken aback when the ugly side of sports showed up at the court one day. Another pickleballer (sounds like the latest kitchen gadget, doesn’t it?) had made arrangements for that afternoon’s game, and we didn’t know exactly who all would be joining us. As we drove into the parking lot, there was only one other person there — a woman we’d pickled with once or twice before. We waved from inside the car. She stared back in what appeared to be disbelief, as if we’d just pulled up in a tiny Volkswagen and many clowns would soon pile out. Evil clowns.

“It’s you!” she exclaimed, horrified, despite the dearth of murderous clowns. We were struck temporarily speechless.

“I was expecting someone else,” she continued, her disappointment palpable. A little shaken, we stuttered the names of a couple others soon to join us. She turned to leave.

Yes, leave. Although she’d come to the court ready to pickle, when faced with the options of doing so with us or heading back home, she was choosing home. Just then our fellow picklers arrived and, confused by her hasty retreat, they attempted in vain to persuade her to stay for at least one game. Obviously, in her eyes, our motley crew was far too inferior for her to bother even stepping onto the court.

Okay, admittedly I’m no pro. I’ve noticed, in fact, that I’m probably on the losing side 85% of the time no matter who’s unfortunate enough to play as my partner. A telling statistic. But John is quite good — he takes to sports like a puppy takes to a new chew toy — as are the other two players who showed up that day. Miss Snooty Pants (I pride myself on maintaining the utmost maturity in all situations) would have had ample competition, picklewise.

Regardless, we’re not talking Wimbledon here. No one is playing for a silver guilt cup or sterling silver platter. John and I attended the latest neighborhood pickleballers potluck and awards ceremony, and thus had the opportunity to take a peek at the Grand Prize: a bouquet of brightly painted whiffle balls stuck into a pot to resemble a flower arrangement. It was as stunning as you might imagine, yet I’m thinking it might not bring quite as much at the corner pawn shop as that silver platter.

In today’s spirit of everyone deserves a trophy, all the neighborhood pickle players were surprised this holiday season with a beautifully handcrafted ornament, no matter their ball pickling skill level. Our resident pickleball instructor stealthily left the tissue-wrapped gifts at each pickler’s door.

whiffle ball

And that’s what I call good sportsmanship.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to run downstairs to grab a hammer and break into this thing in case there’s any cash inside.