Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tennis anyone?

The young and energetic Ratchet and I have been filling our mornings of late playing tennis.  I discovered this delightful game only about a month ago when my exercisey friend, the effervescent  Beck Bleu, ask me if I wanted to give it a try.  We like to have talk-and -walks around the town already in the name of fitness and we even tried racquetball a few times, which I actually enjoyed, but the habit never really kicked in.  And, if truth be told, my club membership has always been a little off and on over the years going along with my off and on exercise style-so that tends to affect play habits as well.

I've always liked the idea of tennis, and then when Becky taught me some of the rules I was intrigued to know if I could actually learn to serve the ball into the proper rectangle and figure out how to control my over the fence tendencies.  

Two weeks later, Ratchet and I having completely taken up the sport, haven't improved hugely at this juncture.  Granted I am a full grown novice.  He is ten, and has named his various serves (none of them being legal no doubt).  He has the "Samurai" which is a winding and swirling of the raquet, that looks a little like Tai Chi or something equally thoughtfull, twisting his wrist all around before he hits the ball.  And then, he does one called the Jedi, which no doubt employs the force at some point to serve the ball with his mind.  This doesn't always work perfectly for him.  
My favorite of his serves would have to be the "Old man Jenkins" though, because he uses his racket as sort of a low cane for a bit before releasing the ball and then "pop", as soon as he hits it he yells in a geriatric voice "Oh my back!"  which never fails to amuse me even though it teeters on the brink of being disrespectful to the elderly.   

I'm always just trying to perfect my grunt while giving just enough but not too much power behind my swing.  I'm afraid I took up the grunt sound in fun, but as it turns out, after trying to play tennis multiple days in a row, I find it's the only thing that gets me through the short hour.  What an exhausting sport!  And we don't even get too many actual volley's going.  We just end up chasing balls so much that all the "non- game playing" is even a pretty nice work out for the both of us. 

Instead of playing the whole time Wednesday morning, we opted to take a little nature hike at the end of campus behind the college soccer fields.  I remembered that back when I attended JBU  there was some sort of hiking trail behind the school. So we took off in that direction, water bottles in hand, to give it a look.  

We soon found a trail out into the woods that was sort of lined with wood chips so I considered it worthy for some "city style" hiking fun.  Not long into the trail however we came upon a brand new wooden bridge spanning over a beautifully clear running creek.  Across this bridge was a gorgeous and new looking lodge style house thats walls were practically all windows.  It also had this tiered decking situation with a couple of chaise lounges at the other side of the bridge from us and very much resembling private property.  

That was the end of that walk as we didn't want to impose on anyone's land in this most secluded location.  But, I was so confused as to what that big beautiful house was doing back there. Did this belong to Mr. Pollard, JBU's president?   It felt as all things in the woods do to me, like we were the first to discover this scenic area. And my inner realtor kept wondering how I could get to this house by street to investigate further.  With all the windows in it however, we had quickly become the scenery to whatever lucky soul might be inside the house, and I didn't dare do anything that hinted at trespassing and would cause myself yet another run in with the law.  

Yes, my friends, I said "another".   On Tuesday night I was nearly sited for disturbing the peace.  I was sitting in a gazebo at one of the parklike areas in our town cackling away with a couple of girlfriends in the 11:00pm-12:00am hours of the night when a policemen drove up and shined his flashlight upon us.  He slowly walked over expecting to catch some raucous teens up to a pile of no good and then broke into a smile when he saw three somewhat classy(well decent anyway) 30 somethings perched, ever watchful of bugs, upon the benches inside the structure.  I, ever the rule follower asked "Are we not allowed to be here?" in a squeaky timid voice.  And he chuckled and said "Oh no, you're fine.  We just got a call complaining that there was a whole lotta noise coming from over here, so I came to check it out."  We said how sorry we were but I, then completely scared straight, had to endure belly laugh worthy conversation for another hour or so, burying my face in the crook of my arm as to stay within the noise requirements of our little sleeping city. 

So you see why I didn't need any more trouble with the authorities.  I was a couple fingerprints from spending the night in the pokey as it was.  After a few minutes  of enjoying the view, we decided to go back the way we came and try to find another path that would lead us to a new adventure.  

And what more could you ask on a nature hike than to run smack into a natural waste facility.  We discovered as we tramped down tall grasses trying to follow some tire marks that had veered  off a gravel road on another corner of the soccer field, a strange looking domed structure a little ways in the distance.  This clearly was some sort of top secret project that the government had placed in our city, unbeknownst to the majority of our residents. Being hidden so cleverly near JBU, yet completely disguised by densely packed trees surrounding it in a conspiratory circle, this place truly smelled of controversy.  We of course soon found out what we were smelling was better described as disgusting than controversial as our noses were finally able to tell our brains what was going on.  

There in front of us were the round troughs of waste being stirred slowly with what looked like giant clock hands and moving at the same pace, so slowly they weren't appearing in motion at all to our widely gazing eyes.  There were other containers in use that all seemed to be containing poo at different stages in the defunking process.  The ones farthest from us had the driest and most soil-like qualities.  I imagined the great dome was a greenhouse type of lid covering and dehydrating all of the paper products into a giant stack of stationery that we would all be licking and sticking in the very near future- all the while wondering if the glue on it was made from old horses.  "That might be the least of our tongue's worries"  I thought to myself as my mind processed with the same murkiness of the plant in front of me.  

The most fascinating and laughable part of the chain link fence enclosed plant just happened to be right in front of us.  There was this thing that looked like a tiny oil derek that functioned as a the gatekeeper to the other larger structures.  It made this automated clicking sound that to me seemed very much like something Stephen King described in his Gunslinger series about a mostly abandoned "world that had moved on".  It was so unnatural in its clumsy movement; as though it was the only functioning thing  left from an earlier time.  There were no humans here, aside from the unauthorized Ratchet and myself. And as we looked down from the awful clunking machinery, we saw some rusty muck collecting grates attempting to cover something below.  But these grates were haphazardly placed with two giant sections missing, exposing a current of brown water flowing underneath.  As we stood with wrinkled noses, watching the current flow into the oil derek shaped pump, we started to notice lumps floating by and realized we could in fact be watching the excrement of all the different townspeople we knew gathering into this one singular place.  It could be OUR leavings that had traveled miles down the road to this odd clunky pump that would determine, with a wave past a dumpster, what would carry on or be stamped "to solid for treatment plant use" with the occasional toothbrush or cell phone that lost its usefulness at first contact with toilet water.   

This was all very strange to take in.  We know for a fact that waste must be managed.  Yet, as you see it in the process, it kind of makes you want to stop voiding all together.  I think it might have given me the feeling that one gets when going to a meat factory to watch the process that we so enjoy taking for granted.  I, for one, know that should I ever want to enjoy a hotdog or a chicken nugget again (but this may not be the time to entertain thoughts of food) I most assuredly should not go near the place that makes them happen. No, I may not be ready to fully explore that type of raw wilderness.   I'll stick with seeing the finished (well, not THIS finished) product of most things.  I am not one who can always appreciate the steps in between.  It's best to leave the "Dirty jobs" to Mike Rowe and the nice people who can stomach such transformations I think.  

Now, where was I?  Oh yes.  Tennis anyone? 



Jamey Clayberg said...

ha haa... good post lady. And again I thank the summer for putting you in shorts! (tee hee)

dive said...

Hee hee, Shan. So you'll be avoiding all brown and lumpy food for a while, eh?
Here's a task for you. Follow the outlets from the sewage treatment plant to the nearest river and see what you find there. You can bet your bottom dollar it will be fishermen. The outflows from these places are so full of icky nutrients that the local stretches of river are packed with big fish. So next time someone who goes fishing invites you over for a barbie, you'll know just what that yummy grilled fish has been eating.
As for tennis, I've spent this week with my fat ass embedded in the sofa, watching Wimbledon. I used to play tennis for the school and still play at the local sports village. It's a great game and I'm amazed that you're discovering it so late. Perfecting your grunt is a hugely important part of the modern game.
Hey, an anagram of the first "grunter" (Monica Seles) is "camel noises" … Go figure.

MmeBenaut said...

Geography (and tennis) aside, I'm thinking that the very clear stream near the beautiful house is actually recycled water ... Ratchet must have loved this expedition.
And I think that Jamey could be on the right track about those shorts. You have seriously long legs, Shan. Ratchet looks like he's going to be a tennis player. Don't forget to watch the Wimbledon finals.

Happy 4th July to you, Jamey and the boys.

Anonymous said...

I think the Chip's drive way is off of Villa View drive.

Shan said...

JC: Yes, my shorts rules kind of went out the window when the weather went above 80. tsk tsk When looking presentable I'll keep my longer short/skirt policies a little more hopefully. ;)

Dive: Yes, I many a meat grosses me out already but I have a fear of fish eating thats right up there with my frog phobia. So fortunately this info you are sharing will not affect me. Whew. And, that Monica Seles info is very bizarre but somehow I'm not surprised you know it. :)

Mme B: I would LOVE it if Ratchet played tennis...or golf. I don't know I like those individual sports I think. Right now he and J are in Tae Kwon Do twice a week. Good sweaty bonding going on there. :)

Anon: HA! LOVE IT! I'm checking it out. Thanks for the scoop. I'll be getting all camo-ed up and sneaking in from another angle now. Wicked smiley face for you {:-\ Well "wicked" didn't go so well on that one so you'll have to imagine the conspiratory grin.

Maria said...

Just a personal question: does your blood sugar get whacked out when you play tennis? I'm fine with most sports as long as I don't get too um...sweaty. But, I have to have that packet of sweet tarts pretty close by.

And I love that idea that you are almost a felon....

Shan said...

Maria: My blood sugar stays whacked out. But I know what you mean. It did get low when I played with my friend Becky and we had to quit early. I turn my pump off if I'm really working out non-stop for 45-60+ minutes. This so far has been a lot of quick starts and then lots of walking over to get our ball in the opposite court. I would have to have a snack in the middle probably if I played vigorously the whole time.

Exercise IS a toughy. So are flaming hormones-which keep the b.s. high a couple weeks each month. You would be ashamed of some of the levels I run at. It can be such a losing battle. That's why I empathize with your ailments. :)

dean r said...

hola shannon, jamey's right you got dem legs. and the boy's a photographer too eh? great post, I hope your fam had a wonderful weekend and look forward to seeing y'all soon. i love the nature walk around siloam, i think I MAYBE went by that place once, but I am not sure if you were on the city trail or just a path. anyway. sounds like wonderful siloam summer to me!

Tally said...

"the pokey"..........hahahahah! Oh, good times! I was thinking the slammer would actually give us some fun chat times, since we don't see each other much anymore. I mean how rough can the SS jailhouse be???

good job on the athleticism. impressive.

Sun-Kissed Savages said...

Watch out for snakes on that hike. My little Nature Boy "saved" Adelia from one not long ago. Big one. Seriously.

And that house-- yeah, they were all sitting there eating supper the last time we walked by. Oops. If I live there, I'd put a gate up on that little bridge!

Tennis-- I love the IDEA of tennis, although I've never really "played by the rules," so to speak. ;-) I would love to start practicing with my kids, seeing as how they all have rackets that we have never used! Sheesh.

I just have too much to live up to. My folks have tennis trophies coming out of their ears. And marathon metals, race ribbons, you name it. I'll be mediocre at best. I guess I just need to be okay with that. ;-)

Sun-Kissed Savages said...

Oh, and it was GREAT to meet you today. Honestly, I was totally clueless when you walked up. Heh. My memory is so bad that I forget people I actually know...so I was really thrown for a loop at first. When I realized who you were I didn't want to freak you out, by shouting "AHA!!!"

MmeBenaut said...

I'd forgotten about the diabetes Shannon, so I'm doubly impressed.
I think tennis and golf are great sports because the children are less likely to get injured or lose a tooth or end up with rugby players' knees.

Scout said...

Here I thought I was about to read about tennis, which I stink at because it involves physical coordination. And I was going to congratulate you on taking up the sport. Ew.

And "camel noises." hee hee Good one, Dive.

Jerri Dalrymple said...

Totally HHHEEEE-Larious! Loved it! (although I think I'll skip lunch now, LOL!)

Missy said...

You crack. Me. Up. I love the way your mind works, you criminal you. ;-)