Saturday, May 25, 2013

Dear Diary: Changes in Latitude

May 24

Dear Diary,
For most of our trip on the Rhine River we have been traveling through Germany. Along the way we saw many beautiful villages and imposing castles.  We learned that first class citizens settled on the western banks of the river. Heathens and barbarians were known to inhabit the opposite side. Therefore, most cities of any size are found on the west.
Regardless, amazingly large castles were built on both sides of the river, many constructed a mere 800 years ago... or 900 years ago ... or maybe even more! They were strategically located on craggy outcroppings with outstanding views of the river and surrounding lands.  They employed redundant security measures - including wet and dry moats, things with spikes, narrow slits of windows for launching attacks and rooms that were only accessible by rope ladders that were pulled up out of the way. Yet, despite these, and other strategies, these seemingly impregnable fortresses were attacked and destroyed... rebuilt,  attacked and destroyed again.... rebuilt... a cycle that continued through the years.
As we sailed up the river our guide would point out a castle and provide a bit of history; here you see the "insert name here" castle. The first mention of it was in "insert long ago date here". It was owned by the "insert ancient family name" and it was destroyed by the French in the 1600's. Each castle's litany followed the same path, ending with, "destroyed by the French".  
Yesterday we visited Strasbourg... a French city. A French city on the west bank of the river - a city with it's own rich heritage... with people having their own opinion about their ancient roots! They were proud of their record of conquering all of those castles we saw along the river!
Oh, well. Changes in latitude... changes in attitude!

Dreaming

Friday, May 24, 2013

Dear Diary: Whining

May 22, 2013
 
Dear Diary, 
Today ve learned about the wintner and the grape wines he grows.  The wineyards are built along the steep banks of the Rhine.  The tour guide explained that the wintner's job is not an easy one as he probably has to wisit each grape wine seven times, and vith the steep slopes no machines can be used. I can't wait to show you some pictures! Spring has been late in coming to this part of the world, too, and in some areas the grape leaves are just beginning to emerge. 
Ve wisited the Castle Vollrads vinery for a vine tasting, and to learn the history of the schloss, a castle that a family lives in, instead of a castle used for defense.  The Vollrad family has occupied the schloss and farmed the lands for several hundred years. The family lived in the castle tower for 300 years before moving into the more conventional grand buildings in the 1300's.  
This winery bottles a variety of Reislings. Dreamy found them quite tasty! This area of Germany produces almost nothing but Riesling, and our tour guide pointed out the scholl where the Riesling grape, and wine, was first developed.  
  Well, hmmm, I seem to be a bit sleepy, hmmm... wine, wine, wine!  
 
Time to do some dreaming!  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dear Diary: Deja View

May, 20, 2013

Dear Diary,

Today I walked into a delightful European marketplace in Cologne, Germany, as the tour guide prattled on. He mentioned the market is only used at Christmas. I had one of those surreal flashes in my brain, picturing booths with displays of European sweets and treats.  I could almost hear the high power tension z-z-z-zap that accompanies the colorful image that overlays that of the empty cobblestone plaza. I had been here before! This was really déjà vu.
My blog friend who writes A Horse Crazy American in Germany had previously shared blog posts about Cologne (http://horsecrazyamerican.blogspot.com/2011/11/christmas-markets-in-cologne.html) Many of the photos she shared were things I  now saw on my brief stop in Cologne.  
What fun to see it all come to life!

Dreaming

Monday, May 20, 2013

Dear Diary: From Sleep Walking to Street Walking

May 18, 2013

Dear Diary,
Today was all about exploring little areas within Amsterdam.  In the morning we walked through a market - it covered several blocks of one street and a Church square. What fun it would have been to shop there. The breads looked yummy.  There were several cheese vendors. There were veggies of all kinds. White asparagus is in season at this time of year. Vendors had fish and meat; sweets and treats; all kinds of wonderful things to eat.
The population of Amsterdam is about 800,000. There are 600,000 bicycles! I watched a young mom, having just shopped at the market, stuff the panniers on her bike with her purchases, lift her toddler onto a wooden plank just behind the handlebars. She backed the bike out of her parking area and straddled the bike as she turned to awkwardly lift her preschooler onto the back fender, legs straddling the panniers. We noticed that cars and trams yield to pedestrians, the bikes yield to no one. We were told that if you hear the bike's bell, it is probably too late!
We took a canal boat tour. It is nice to see the city from the water... even if we couldn't hear much of the narration. There were some very rude passengers on board and it took all I could do not to tell them to be quiet. I didn't want to start an International incident! I guess they weren't interested in learning about what they were seeing. I'm not sure why they bothered to pay money for the tour. However, it was still fascinating to maneuver through several of the canals and to see such a variety of homes, many, like the B & B we stayed at, dating from the early 1600's.
The owner of the B & B, Carlos, made reservations for us at a very typical Dutch restaurant for dinner. Then we took a stroll to the famous Red Light District.  It was rather sad. It was very crowded with tourists... like us. The ladies of the night stood just inside full-length doors, trying to entice customers.  Many of the doors had their curtains drawn. I did get one quick picture of the swans. Carlos explained that the swans and ducks prefer one of the canals in that area because it is shallower and they can bottom feed. 
Then we hiked back to our home away from home, hiked up the twisty-turny steps - all four flights! And called it a night. The B & B is a charming townhouse. It is 4 meters, 20 cm wide and 20 meters deep. (One of the owners explained that when you are working with something that narrow, the additional 20 cm makes a difference!) The owners have 4 charming bedrooms they rent. They share a sitting room on the 2nd floor with guests, and breakfast is prepared in a tiny kitchen and served on the first floor. 

Tomorrow we'll board the boat,
Dreaming

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Dear Diary: Hey, Do You Have the Time?

Friday, May 17, 2013
Dear Diary,
Does anybody really know what time it is? 
I don't.
Does anybody really care?
Great lyrics from Robert Lamm of the band Chicago...  He professes he got the idea from a fellow at a movie theater. I'm thinking maybe he was experiencing his first day dealing with jet lag during a trip abroad. That's how I feel! My body says it is one time. My watch says it is another.  I wake up when I should be going to sleep. I want to sleep when it is time to eat! 
On top of that, it rained today, so it was ugly and grey, and because we are so much further north (in Amsterdam) it stays lighter far later. I have no idea what time it is... and I guess I am too tired to care!
Today we visited the Keukenhoff Gardens. Even in the rain, even in the last days of tulip season, they were spectacular! After the garden tour, and after enjoying a round-about route back to our room (I can't say the "L" word... You know the one I mean?), we met up with my brother and his wife. He had scouted out a place for dinner and we enjoyed a wonderful meal. 
So, finishing on a other musical note, this time from "Hair":
Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in,
The sunshine in.....

Goodnight Diary (it is night...get it?)

Dreaming
PS: I can't seem to post pictures with the technology that I have. I'm working on it. But, with the time confusion I'm a bit tired, and my brain is a bit confused. Maybe tomorrow! For now, just picture a Salvadore Dali clock as an illustration for this post!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Dear Diary: The Dream Begins

Thursday, May 16

Dear Diary,

My dream began with a trip to the local airport. My friend, aka "the house sitter" dropped us off and our adventure began. (She asked if I could please refer to hers as my friend, which she really is!) The airline was calling for folks to check their carryon luggage. Since we were  traveling overseas, and were carrying "must haves" in the event our full size suitcases went astray, as sometimes happens, we were more than reluctant to let our carryons out of our sight. Mr. Dreamy must have made an uglier face at the airline attendant than I (although how that could happen I know not) for I know he wasn't in the mood to try charm, but somehow the stewardess relented and by the time I got cargo for the trip out of my carryon and sent it down to the dungeon... er... luggage bay, and found my seat, there was Mr. Dreamy smiling as he cocked his head to point out his carryon nestled  in the bin! As it turned out, there was a 'miscommunication' among the flight crew and there were plenty of empty overhead compartments. So as I write while awaiting a connecting flight in Paris, I wonder if my carryon and our other luggage will make the connecting flight, or whether they will have their own adventure!

With love,

Dreaming

PS: Do you think I am correct in interpretting the sign in the baggage area saying, "Alle Baggage is Gelost" as having nothing to do with our word, "LOST"???

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dreaming....Again!

Be quiet.

Tip toe.


Shhh.... very quiet!


Dreaming is enjoying another dream.


Don't wake her up....


She'll tell you about it later.


OK?!




Photo Credits:

Monday, May 13, 2013

I am THE Best!

Anny Mous says so!
(anonymous)


She leaves me comments all the time!
She says my blog loads faster than any other!
She says she admires the time I put into my blog!
She says the information I include is awesome!
She says my blog is an excellent read!
Oh, and by the way... 
I can buy emu boots from her at a great discount!

I bet you are jealous ;-)

Maybe not. 


Photo Credits:

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Six-Word Memoirs: Mom


Now:   I talk. You listen. I know.


Growing up:    That's nice, now clean your room.


Do you have a six-word memoir of your mother you'd like to share?

Happy Mother's Day to all.






Inspired by Larry Smith, editor of SMITH Magazine, the 'home' of the six-word memoir project.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Tucker Talks: The Day the Pig Died

Hiyah, there. Tucker here. I have a something I wanna say. 
Will you listen to me?!


It's about my pig.
It was a cute pig.
It made sweet oinky sounds.
I had my pig for almost two years.


WHAT?

You think I did this?

...to my sweet pig?


Do I look guilty?

Unh uh...


I don't think so.

I think you should be talking to interrogating Gypsy!


Thursday, May 9, 2013

You're Going to do What? Where?



Ominous looking thing, isn't it?
This is a breast biopsy needle.
Shudder!

You may recall my experience with lumps under my arm.
 It was decided I should consult my physician.
She suggested I go see a surgeon.
The surgeon suggested I get another ultrasound.
The radiologist, upon seeing the ultrasound,
suggested a needle biopsy.

Piece. Of. Cake.
I mean, how bad can it be?
They numb me up, 
and poke a needle into my armpit to sample the lump.

No one told me that the 'needle' was the size 
of those little straws you get in your fancy drinks!
I think I'd rather have a martini, or two... or three five!

No one told me how deep the lymph nodes are. 

Poking, pushing, prodding...
Snnnappp!
Sample taken.

Pushing, prodding, poking...
Snnnappp!
Another sample.

Repeat procedure...

six times.

Ugh!

I walk out of the procedure room...
only a bit shaky,
only a bit uncomfortable;
with steri strips holding me together
and tape holding the steri strips on
and a wad of gauze and more tape keeping pressure on...

Then I wait.


Wait.



Wait.

The doctor who performed the deep drilling
in my arm pit called.

The good news...
There were no cancer cells in the samples.
There were no markers for lymphoma.

Phew!

The not-so-good-news...
The only material he acquired was calcified stuff.
He didn't get any other type of tissue.
He has no idea what is causing me to turn to stone,
and suggests we try to find out what is going on.

To be continued.....
When I know what is going on!


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hometown Hero

hero |ˈhi(ə)rō|noun ( pl. heroes )a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities: a war hero.
My 'Hometown Hero' isn't a man. But, she should be recognized for her courage and certainly for her outstanding achievements. Her performances on American Idol have brought her notoriety and judging by the turnout for her recent visit home, including a parade and a concert, in the eyes of many she is nobility. My 'Hometown Hero' is Candice Glover. 
If you have the opportunity, please vote for Candice tonight!
Candice lives on St. Helena Island in the South Carolina Lowcountry; Land of majestic oaks draped in veils of Spanish moss,Cicadas singing in the sultry summer afternoons, high humidity and mosquitoes.

I lived in the Lowcountry for 34 years, which is why I am claiming Candice as 'my' hometown girl. OK, so my town was a bit south and west of St. Helena, but I lived in the same county and my work often took me out to St. Helena... so, doesn't that count?
St. Helena is a barrier island. It is surrounded by marshes, and the waterways are the highways for local shrimp boats. 
The economy on the island is based on fishing (shrimping) and agriculture. 

I have fond memories of taking my boys to the strawberry fields on St. Helena.(Well, maybe the exception is the time CS threw up on the way home!)


What St. Helena lacks in economic opportunity, 
(15% of the households earn less than $15,000 annually*)
they make up for in a rich heritage.

St. Helena is home to the Penn Center, 

one of the first schools for freed slaves.
St. Helena has art....
And, St. Helena has music!!
Crowds turned out in droves to greet Candice on her return home. Even in the rain! 
The Mayor of Beaufort, SC, the county seat, was asked by American Idol producers to give a key to the city to Candice. He stated, "We have a key, but we don't need it because our hearts are open to all, so a key is not necessary."
A more fitting statement couldn't have been said!
Southern hospitality thrives in the lowcountry.The 'key' is actually a basket made of marsh grasses. It was made in the shape of a key and then painted with typical lowcountry scenes by a local artist. 
Totally unique... just like that area of the south!
Please take the opportunity to vote for Candice tonight!
After this evening's performance you may vote online at: http://www.americanidol.com/vote. Votes may also be called in or sent by text.
Picture credits:TreesMap
Shrimp BoatsAgricultureStrawberriesPenn CenterArt GalleryCandiceParadeKeyVote
* Estimated per household income

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch: Tulip Tuesday

Holy Tulip Tuesday.... I can actually sit a spell and chat with Patrice and her friends on her porch today! Patrice reports that it is spring in her neck of the woods...
I am crossing my fingers...
and declaring that it is spring here...
finally! 
At least this is the first Tuesday in 6 weeks where we haven't had snow on the ground, or when we weren't expecting snow later in the day!
My spring has been about tulips. I love tulips. Perhaps it's because I lived in the south where tulips were nigh impossible to grow. Two years ago we planted a variety of Dutch bulbs, and last year I dug up and separated some tulips that had magically appeared in my garden, having been planted many years ago by some previous owner or renter. This year it has been all about protecting the tulips from our 'spring' snows and temperatures in the teens.
I became adept at tent making. This lovely tent was constructed and deconstructed 4 times. Each time the component pieces were moved a shorter distance away!


Here is the tent on April 9

Here we are again on May 1

But, the end result made practicing my
Girl Scout skills well worth it...


QUESTIONS
1. How many load of laundry do you do each week (about)?
2. Where do your household pets sleep? If you have no pets, please skip to the next question.
3. What is your favorite thing to listen to while you drive?
4. Do you have to do a big clean-up when you have company, or are you always ready for guests?
5. What's your favorite breakfast food?


Here are my answers to Patrice's questions. You can join the chat, too, by responding in comments on my page, or on Patrice's page, or by linking your blog to Patrice's blog.

Answers:

  1. Oh, my gosh! Thanks for reminding me. I started a load yesterday and turned the machine off because the dogs were going to eat dinner. They are afraid of the washing machine and won't go in the laundry room, where their bowls are, if either the washer or dryer are running! Oh, but I digress, I average two loads of laundry a week. When I had the horses I probably had to run at least one extra load as horse dirt magically jumps from horse to human in a heartbeat!
  2. Tucker and Gypsy have beds in our room. They don't discriminate about who's bed is whose. Tucker is the funniest sleeper. If when he gets too warm he will move to another location. So he is on and off the bed all night. When he lies down... he groans, a long drawn-out pleasurable groan. It makes me smile to hear it.
  3. I switch between an oldies station and NPR when I drive. When the car was a major part of my day, driving hours for work, I would listen to books. I kinda miss that now, but I generally spend so little time in my car now, that it would take too long to get through the book. By the time I got near the end, I would have forgotten the beginning ;-)
  4. We always have a 'rush-around, throw things in cabinets, wipe off the counter' type clean up when folks are coming. When my house is neat and clean I swear I'm going to keep it that way, but before I know it, the horizontal surfaces have acquired piles of stuff, dog hair clumps sprout on the rug, and tumblefluffs roll on the floor in the breeze created as we walk by. 
  5. If I didn't care about my size, I would eat French toast made with thickly sliced cinnamon bread, and coated in panko bread crumbs. A sweet vanilla sauce on top would be heavenly. Knowing that I wouldn't stop at one piece, and that if I happen to have a loaf of bread like that in the house, I'd be compelled to make it every morning, I just don't buy the ingredients. Instead, I limit myself to a piece of oatnut bread, toasted, or a small bowl of granola. Most mornings I make Mr. Dreamy one egg, over easy. I've become masterful at flipping the egg, and sliding it onto the plate, without using utensils.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week! 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Someone's in the kitchen....

I was going to write another post about pickleball, talking about being in the kitchen (the no volley zone); but I figure you are probably pickled enough! So, I'll talk about a recent adventure in my own kitchen instead.

On one of our recent snowy evenings I decided to make ravioli.  First I made a basic egg pasta. The last time I made ravioli pasta I had a terrible time rolling it thin enough. Then I read that the dough should rest for 20 minutes or so. Wow! What a difference it makes in rolling it out. The dough wasn't nearly as tough.


I decided to make a mushroom filling.  I cut up about 6 ounces of Cremini and Portabello mushrooms and a medium sized shallot. These were sautéed in a bit of olive oil. I added about a 1/4 cup of Port and let it cook down. After cooling the mixture for about 20 minutes I added 4 ounces of cream cheese and 2 ounces of freshly grated parmesan cheese. I used this mixture to fill the ravioli.


The ravioli dried for about 20 minutes. 


While I waited for the water to boil and the ravioli to cook, I sautéed more mushrooms and sweet onion and then added Port to make a reduction as a sauce.


And, you might ask? How did it taste? 
Mmmmm.... it was dreamy!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Know the Score

I am going to continue to explain (make an attempt to explain) Pickleball... so you will 'know the score' when it comes to the sport!

Several of you have asked about the equipment. Pickleball is played with a solid paddle that is a bit bigger than a ping-pong paddle. The combined length and width can be no more than 24 inches. Most paddles are 8" X 15 3/4", but some manufacturers have thinner, longer paddles. The ball is like a baseball size wiffle ball. The one for outdoor play is made of heavier material and has smaller holes.

I just bought this paddle



Once you begin playing the game, you need to have an idea of how to score. Trying to explain it in a blog post is going to be challenging - almost as challenging as keeping track of the score in a game!

"OK, It's two-three-two...No. No. It's three-two-one...
Or is it one-one-two? Can we just start all over?"

Scoring is so puzzling... they even have a T-shirt that jokes about it!

The game is played to 11 points (except in some tournaments) and, like many sports, must be won by a margin of 2 points. So, scores can, and do, go higher.

Each server announces the score before each serve. He will say three numbers:
The first is his team's score.
The second is the opponent's score.
The third is a 1 or 2 to tell if he is the first or second server on his team.

Other than the first service of the game, both players on a side have the opportunity to serve before the serve goes to the opponent's side. Therefore you have server 1 and server 2. For some obscure reason, the inventors of the game thought it would be more fair if only one person has the opportunity to serve on the beginning round of the game, so the beginning score stated by the server is 0-0-2. The team has no points. The opponent has no points and the second server (who is really, in the case, the first server) is getting ready to serve. (Can we make this any more confusing?!!)

Only the serving team earns points for errors made by the opponent's side. Errors might include hitting the ball into the net, hitting the ball outside of the court lines, or missing the ball. If the serving team makes an error, the service is lost and moves to the next server, whether it is the 2nd server on that team, or the 1st server for the opponent's team. No points are scored for either team.

So... let the game begin! Dreaming and Tucker are pitted against Mr. Dreamy and Gypsy. Dreaming will serve. She announces: 0-0-2.
A hush comes over the crowd.
She serves. It is good. The ball bounces and Mr. Dreamy returns it into Tucker's court. He lets it bounce and returns it to Mr. Dreamy. Mr. Dreamy gets excited and tries to slam the ball. It gets stopped by the net.
The crowd stomps their feet and cheers!
Dreaming exchanges places with Tucker and announces the score. It is now 1-0-2. Her team has one point. Mr. Dreamy's team and no points and she is server #2 (even though it is the beginning of the game and she is really the first server!)
Gypsy is in her 'ready' stance. (She's a Border Collie, what more would you expect?!)
Dreaming serves into Gypsy's court. The ball is returned. Tucker gets excited and grabs it before it bounces. Error! The serve moves over to Mr. Dreamy's side.
The crowd makes a collective sigh.
Mr. Dreamy announces the score: 0-1-1. His side has no points. Dreaming's side has one point and he is server #1.
.
.
.
.
Do you get the picture? So, at some point Mr. Dreamy might announce 5-1-1, which would mean his side now has five points, to one point on Dreamy's side. If Mr. Dreamy's side doesn't score a point, let's say one of them hits the ball out of bounds, then the service would move to Gypsy. She would announce 5-1-2. Five points to one, and she is the second server.

So that is how the game is scored.

On the court, it often sounds like this:

What's the score?
I don't know.
Do they have 3 or 4? 
I can't remember!
Hey, do you guys have 3 or 4? Oh... 5?!
OK, 2-5-1....

Keeping track of the score is almost as challenging as playing the game - although playing is much more fun!








Friday, May 3, 2013

Stand Here - Move There

According to Dreaming's Evolution of a Pickleball Player, the first premise of pickleball is to

know where to stand.... and when to move.

The pickleball court is about 1/4 the size of a tennis court. This is a bird's eye view of the layout:


When your side has the serve, both players usually begin by standing behind the baseline. The first server is the person on the right side, and he must not step on or over the baseline during the serve.

When your side is receiving the serve, the receiver is the person diagonally opposite the server. The receiver may stand wherever he/she wants, but usually will stand behind the baseline. The other team member stands close to the "No Volley Zone" line, on a diagonal, so she or he can watch the serve and determine whether the serve stays inbounds. Only the serve goes to a specific player. After the serve, the ball may be hit by either player.


In this picture, the person on the lower right of the picture served the ball to the person in the turquoise shirt. Mr. Turquoise shirt returned the ball, and the player on the lower left looks like he either just hit the ball, or is getting ready to hit it. Notice that Mr. Turquoise's partner is standing up by the no volley line. Other than the serve, which must bounce within the diagonally opposite player's court, somewhere between the no volley line and the baseline and between the center line and the sideline, subsequent shots may be hit anywhere inside the boundary lines on the opposite side of the net, even in the no volley zone.

Both the serve and the first return must bounce one time on the other side of the net before being hit. Therefore it is important for those players to stay near the baseline until the second volley is hit. Then it is usually advantageous for players to move up to the no volley line. However, one of the early learning challenges is that a player is not allowed to stand in the 'no volley zone' or, 'the kitchen' as it is called in my group, unless the ball bounces within that area before a player steps in and hits it. Notice how the players in the picture below are at the no volley line, with the exception of Mr. Red.


Another facet of knowing where to move is to remember that the server on the serving team moves from the right side of the court to the left side, and back, until the service is lost. So, the server's partner must move from one side of the court to the other. However, the receiving players do not switch sides.


Here's another action shot. In the picture above I believe that the server was on the far side of the court in the light shorts. He served the ball to the fellow in the black shirt. The black shirted guy returned the serve and is moving forward to be in an optimal position to hit the ball being returned by the guy in black shorts. The players on the far side will most likely move closer to the net when the shot is completed. 

Have I confused you? Lost after the first paragraph? I was lost for the first week of playing. My ever-patient partners were great at reminding me where to move. Sometimes I still need reminders!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

On Being Pickled

- or -
The Evolution of a Pickleball Player

I was introduced to Pickleball on our recent visit to Arizona. I discovered an active group of pickleball players in my home town. So, although April's A to Z challenge may have kept me busy... what really occupied my time was playing pickleball - whenever I could! I find the game to be fascinating... and as addictive as a bag of potato chips! Every time I play I want to play one more point, and then one more game and then another. I miss a shot and I want to play some more to see if I can make that shot the next time. (OK, yes, I am a bit very competitive, but I am not the only person who recognizes this addiction!)

I think that learning to play pickleball is a journey. I see myself evolving. I am slowly changing and I am in the process of acquiring skills each time I play. I guess it is a pickling process! Although, that is not how the game acquired its unusual name. According to the USAPA the game was named after Pickles, a Cocker Spaniel owned by one of the co-inventors. Apparently Pickles liked to take the ball, and so the game was called, "Pickle's Ball" and over time was shortened.

However, maybe there is more to the evolution thing than I thought....


Since someone has designed a T-shirt that seems to say it all!

Stages of an evolving pickleball player 
(according to Dreaming)


  1. Know where to stand - and when to move.
  2. Know the score - and how to score.
  3. Stay out of the kitchen (Can't wait to tell Mr. Dreamy about this one!)
  4. Watch your opponent making the shot; watch the ball; and move your feet. 
  5. Know when to hit and when to let it fly (out of bounds).
  6. Place the ball. Make your opponents move. Watch for open alleys and use angles.
  7. Know how to hit soft or hard and develop a spin, a dink, a lob and a drop.

If I can develop the skills I listed above, then perhaps I will be less likely to make unforced errors. Unforced errors are, in my opinion, stupid, stupid, stupid mistakes... and I make far too many of them, far too often. Just ask my partners!

I'm sure there are more stages to my development as a pickleball player, but since I'm not there yet, I don't know what I don't know! Regardless, I'm having a ball!

Flat Malia came along to play pickleball with me when she visited. 





Wednesday, May 1, 2013

April Recap: Challenge, Friends and Dreaming's Doings

April went by in a flash. The A to Z Challenge kept me on my toes and kept me busy while the snow was blowing outside. Yes, I did say snow!

April 16
We had a visitor!
Flat "Malia" came in the middle of one of our storms.
I made her a snow suit so she could play in the snow.
It was too cold to stay out for long!

We have had crazy weather, with weekly (Yes... I do mean weekly) snow storms! And not to be outdone, May is coming in with her own storm. We are expecting 4-8 inches of snow. It began last night and will run through today. Our poor plants - although I am sure they like the moisture, each storm has come with bitter cold and blowing snow.

April 10
Snow covers the tent I made over our tulip bed.

The same tulip bed on April 28.

 Tulips that I dug up and divided last year dot another garden.

I covered as many perennials as I could to try to protect them from the 20 degree weather. Hopefully rain that came at the beginning of the storm may have created ice blankets for the buds on our trees. A few have tried to leaf out and were burned badly in other storms. We'll just have to see how things go. There isn't much I can do about it - fretting won't help a thing! 

Between snow storms we have had some wonderful weather. We found time to take a few bike rides.


We saw Mr. Red Fox on a bike ride through a Denver area neighborhood. He was enjoying the fine spring day, too! It was so warm, he was trying to sneak a drink of water from this drain pipe.

We visited the zoo. This 450 pound silverback was on a quest to find spinach that had just been placed in piles throughout his enclosure.


I took Clyde to see my dad. Clyde is the sweetest Golden Retriever. He belongs to my house sitter friend.

Dad seemed to like the fact that Clyde wanted to warm his toes!

We also went to the Botanic Gardens. The snow storms and cold weather burned a lot of their plants, too.

Despite the freeze, there were flowers out and the bees were in a frenzy to harvest nectar.

The A to Z Challenge was great fun. It was a challenge, for sure! Trying to come up with something for each letter of the alphabet was tricky, and by sticking to the topic of our motorhome trip, it was even more of a challenge. I have included links to each of my blog posts below, just in case you missed one or two!


Reading others' posts for the A to Z challenge was the fun part of the challenge. I enjoyed randomly visiting different blogs and seeing what the blog author had to say for a letter. There were 1656 participating blogs by the end of the month, so the possibilities seemed endless. I "met" new friends, and I have also had new friends follow me. I'd like to welcome the new challenge followers. You can find out more about them by clicking on their "Member" icon on my sidebar, or visiting their blogs. They include:
Rowena who writes Designs by Row
Phillip who writes Ariel's Jottings
Sopphey Vance
Judy
Damyanti who writes Amlokiblogs
and
Sylvia Ney

A to Z Challenge Posts

I. Iron-y
J. Jump
R. Rally
U. Uh-Oh
Y. Yes
Z. ZBV

So I bid April good-bye, and look forward to May and whatever she will bring. Happy spring to you!

Moving Day

Or... Things That Go Bump in the Night We let the moving company know that we were ready. We waited. Anxiously. Finally we ...