Monday, December 26, 2011

Oh no, Papa, not the harness!

Watching a few episodes of The Dog Whisperer, my parents and I admired Cesar's ability to handle dogs. Sure, Papaya went through an extended naughty phase, but we counted ourselves lucky that she never freaked out at toasters, skateboards, or other dogs. I prided myself on how our walks seemed to calm her down and curb undesirable behavior.

Pops does still have her share of bad habits. When she's in the car, she likes to stand on the armrest, peeking forward and licking the driver's face.

So my parents bought her a harness that attaches to a seat belt. (Pops did not get excited about this gift.) We adjusted the straps and my dad took her for a walk — 'cause you can also clip it to a leash! All good.

When Pops and I left my parents' house, I buckled the harness into the center seat belt. She didn't look pleased but laid down anyway — submission! — and was silent during the ride.

So imagine my surprise when I opened the back door to let her out.

She was sans harness. What the? It was still strapped to the seat belt, but she had escaped. My fugitive dog had been completely and quietly disobedient.

Not to be deterred, I gave it another try today. I adjusted the straps, put her in the harness, and clipped her in. Then I started the car, turned to look at her, and watched her bend her front leg to slip out of the entire contraption.

Animals 3, Naomi 0.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A holiday tale: Baked goods

For this year's gifts, I made mint brownies.

Whether it was the minty cream cheese filling or the chocolate frosting with Andes pieces, the winterfresh bars were a hit. No complaints at Highlander, work, or Jen's baby shower.

I also tried a new recipe: peppermint bark brownies.

They were more fudgy and less cakey than the winterfresh bars, but the peppermint bark topping was nice and crunchy. It's also less work to make only one kind of batter and skip the frosting step. So each of the recipes has its appeal.

I dropped off a plate of peppermint bark brownies on the back step at my neighbor Jody's house. A couple of hours later, she called to ask what was in them: her dog, Harry, had eaten every single one. As well as the aluminum foil that covered the plate.

Even though chocolate is toxic for dogs, he was okay. Phew.

The next morning, I dropped off a plate of peppermint bark brownies on the back step at my neighbor Lori's house. She does not have a dog.

I received a card from Lori, thanking me for the gesture:

"A funny thing... I came home, saw the bag from a distance. As I got closer I saw cupcake holders on the ground. 'Something' got in the bag and ate the goodies. The plate and card remained. :)"

I'm glad it's the thought that counts, because cupcake liners littering your porch make a pretty lousy gift.

Harry and the squirrels must really like peppermint bark.

Animals 2, Naomi 0.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesdays with Willie

I haven't seen Willie since he dropped me off at the airport. In 1994.

We're back in touch again thanks to Facebook.

Over coffee yesterday at The Grove, we caught up about the goings-on at the Japantown Benihana, which is where we met. Ah, the joys of waiting tables.

Willie has the distinction of being one of my only Japanese friends. (I told him this was a trip to see my ethnic friends. No joke.)

Speaking of ethnic stuff, he told me an unsettling story about how, after watching the Japanese version of The Ring, he got a bloody nose. (If you've seen The Ring, you'll know why this is disturbing.)

Post coffee, we decided to walk. Willie walks everywhere. Really. He can walk for nine hours with just a couple of food breaks.

I like walking. But living in Milwaukee, I'm out of practice, even with having a dog.

So I was unprepared for the San Francisco hills. Some blocks have steps built into the sidewalk but they're still difficult — even with Willie yelling, "Feel the burn!" I think we took this photo on Fillmore and Jackson. I can't recall exactly; I was lightheaded from the altitude.

Luckily Fillmore flattens out and we could take a break by stopping at Citizen Cake. I picked up a few things, and Linda and I ate cupcakes and cookies for days! Also, she took me to El Farolito, which had a line out the door and some of the best tacos ever.

But I digress.

Many things have changed since 1994: Cal football games are at AT&T Park, the Hard Rock Cafe near my old apartment closed, and businesses no longer use plastic bags (for real, Walgreens?!). It's a lot to process.

But to be able to take the 38 Geary, meet up with an old friend, and wander around the city, I am glad that is still the same.

Cheers to my Japantown friend!

Tuesdays with Lizzie (and Alexandra)

It's been a while since Liz and I hung out. In fact, the last time we met for lunch was also a Tuesday in mid November at Rose's Cafe. Four years ago!

Things have changed. Now she and Michael have a beautiful baby, Alexandra.

Alexandra is such an easygoing baby. At 9½ months, she already seems to have a great sense of humor — can't you tell from the photo? — and some adorable tiny teeth. She ate yogurt nibs and a little polenta while Liz and I caught up.

After lunch, we strolled around Cow Hollow and laughed about stuff like taking the bus and what "walking distance" really means. We passed The Bus Stop (no relation to "taking the bus") and what used to be Cal's. After almost four hours, we finally parted ways.

I think we covered all the big topics: work, relationships, babies, siblings, parents. And of course a bit about our sorority sisters and who we've kept in touch with.

Liz, thanks for making time for me and for another wonderful lunch. See you on another Tuesday soon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Football and G Phi B

Ruth is a diehard Cal fan: she knows the team stats and once asked Jeff Tedford if he would meet her parents (jokingly, it would seem). So of course we went to the Cal vs. Oregon State game on Saturday. It was a nice kickoff to my northern California vacation.

We ran into Julie, another Gamma Phi — who's also a diehard fan and season ticketholder — and her son, Ben. At one point he looked at the scoreboard and asked, "When is it going to be higher than 7?" At 4 years old, he is already learning what it means to be a Cal fan. It's not the face paint, it's the waiting for the team to score.

As Ruth would say, "Heavy sigh."

But it turned out to be a good day for the Golden Bears: a win at their last home game!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tennis: Midwest champs!

Since our tri team won the state playoffs, I’ve had trouble thinking about anything but sectionals.

I had done everything I could to prepare: A lesson with Tom. Body sculpt and cardio. Practicing against different opponents, including Shappy and two guys in Bob’s drill for 3½ hours last Sunday.

Saturday finally arrived.

At 9 a.m. I met up with Patrice and Tim to carpool. We enjoyed non-stressful conversation during the drive, punctuated by Char calling from the other car to ask where we were. An hour and 45 minutes later, we arrived at the Tinley Park Chipotle.

After a leisurely lunch and another phone call from Char (“Where are you? Where is the Dixie exit?”), we arrived at the Homewood-Flossmoor club.

The place was abuzz. Four men’s teams were competing at sectionals. For the women, there were only two teams: Wisconsin and Northern Michigan.

Carol said that meant we had a 50% chance of advancing. I saw it as Patrice and me being responsible for 33% of the team’s fate.

Both were true.

We checked in. Got t-shirts. Thought about whether to pay to use the courts to warm-up. (Nope.) We listened while a USTA official announced the rules. All of our doubles teams walked onto the courts at 2:00.

I was nervous. And glad to be on the court farthest from the viewing. The 10-minute warmup blew by.

We got out to a quick start, 4-1. They brought it to 4-2, then 4-3. On a critical point, I missed an easy putaway. Ugh! (Really. That’s what I said.) So frustrating. But I decided that that was going to be the most emotion I showed during the match.

At some point it was 4-4. Not good.

But we refocused. We didn’t do much talking, but we took the set 6-4.

In the next set, we were up 3-0 but down 30-love. We came back to win that game, then the next two.

The server called the score: “15-40. Match point.” I’ve never played against anyone who’s done that. What an odd little mental thing. It reminded me of when Jess and I played a tiebreak in a social match and he said, “All the lessons, all the hard work, it all comes down to this.” He was joking but we lost.

Match point.

An overhead by Patrice. 6-4, 6-0.

I started crying. Patrice gave me a hug and then we shook hands with our opponents. We stayed on our court a couple of minutes after they left. We usually use the time to talk about the match, to calm down before going back to the socialness of the team. But there wasn’t much we needed to say.

Tim was there with high-fives and hugs when we came off the court.

Two courts left.

Mary and Pam E. were playing a nailbiter on the 4.0 court. They split sets and started a super tiebreak.

Tim, Patrice, and I reminded each other of the score after every point. Mary and Pam were up 4-2. And got to 7-4, 8-4, 9-4. We clapped and cheered even though they could not hear us through the glass.

They won. Patrice and I started crying. More hugs from Tim. We tried to quietly congratulate them when they came off the court; our opponents were still around.

From court 1, Char gave us all a thumbs up. She and Pam T. lost a close match — it really looked like they were going to take the second set. They are both tremendous players; this was Pam's fourth sectional playoff this year. And none of us would be here without Char!

Thus, my tears. Being on this team has been an amazing experience.

And it's not even over. Nationals will be three days of tennis at Indian Wells. Pack your bags and come cheer us on — won't you want a vacation in mid March?

One last thing: Thanks for all the good-luck emails and phone calls. And for saying, “I think you’re going to win.” I knew that we could, but it did not feel real until it actually happened.

Now it does. See you on the courts!

Friday, November 4, 2011

My birthday at O'Sullivan's

I love November. Minus the changing weather and daylight savings time malaise, there are always at least three fun things that the month holds: my birthday, Thanksgiving, and the beginning of Christmas decorating.

This year's birthday drinks were at O'Sullivan's, a place I go to only occasionally but which is conveniently located. I really miss Sluggo's, but there was an altercation involving the tennis group so we don't go there anymore. Sad. I loved celebrating there, in a listen-to-Journey-and-use-coupons kind of way.

Actually, Pat drove to Sluggo's first to make sure they hadn't just changed their name to O'Sullivan's.

I arrived at 5:00 — on time — and sat by myself for 15 minutes with my ale. It felt like longer.

I questioned whether "No RSVP necessary" came across as "You don't really need to stop by."

But then Terry and Cathy and Keith and Craig and Drew showed up and suddenly it was not overly ambitious that I had staked out a table. Happy hour, indeed!

Patrice made pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes (yum!) and we also enjoyed fried foods. And I got a balloon and a ginormous cookie. Don't ever underestimate the impact of a balloon or a ginormous cookie; they both make you feel loved. (And so does a bottle of single-malt scotch. Thanks, Mary and Stacy!)

This birthday celebration was terrific. Work friends, Milwaukee friends, tennis friends, friends of friends. Thanks for being there. You make aging fun!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Deb's milestone birthday

On Friday we partied at Shappy's house in honor of Deb's 50th birthday.

Shappy grilled a turkey, and there were delicious side dishes like squash risotto. After dinner, he wove through the crowd and served Godiva shots in teensy martini glasses that Terry carried on a tray.

Tons of Deb's friends from tennis and sailing came to share in her celebration. And we all mingled. Colleen, especially. She told Larry, "Honey, the bathroom is locked." Only she doesn't know Larry; she meant to tell Kevin. Good thing it was a friendly crowd.

Patrice couldn't make it to the party, but she made sure the gnome continued on his travels to Deb. He hung out in the dining room watching the festivities (here he is ogling Sandra). The journey continues.

We stayed for hours (at one point, Terry was in the corner of the kitchen, gnawing on a turkey bone). It kind of felt like Thanksgiving but with way more people.

Happy birthday, Deb! You were one of my first friends at Highlander, and I wish you the best for your next 50 years. Cheers!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A party for Jess

Jess will be leaving us for the greener pastures of Michigan for his new job. So on Friday we toasted him farewell at the Feldmans.

By the time he arrived (it was a heavy evening of partying for him because his work friends gave him a sendoff), we had all signed the posterboard card with heartfelt messages. Sandy, who gives new meaning to the term "graphic artist," added a map of Michigan that looked phallic but which she claims was not. And the steak-eating, tennis-playing T-Boners also used some colorful language.

Grillmaster Doug cooked up lots of burgers and hot dogs, and we sprawled out in the kitchen and living room watching the Brewer game.

After dinner we played ping pong in the basement. Brian won a close best-of-five, Hans schooled me, and Doug and Shappy discussed the legality of various serves.

I love house parties. Carol said she felt a bit partied out (partly due to the string of milestone birthdays in the last year). But I love hanging out with all my favorite people in one place. Particularly if that place is the home of somebody in the tennis gang.

A few years ago, after a few of us had been at a bar, Doug decided we should do a late-night pop-in at Jess' place. He was undeterred by the fact that Jess hadn't picked up his phone — several times.

When Jess opened the door, he was wearing a navy blue robe and rubbing his eyes. But you know what he said?

"I think I have some wine."

Because that is the kind of person he is — always making you feel at home, whether you're an uninvited guest or his partner on the court. Jess, we'll miss you. But we wish you the best. And because I hate goodbyes, let's just say, "See you around."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Oh no, Papa, not the doilies!

Yesterday I came home from work to another tableau: Papa rearranged cake decorating supplies in the living room.

She shredded, she chewed, she showed no remorse. Surprisingly, she did not try to eat the edible alphabet letters, which confirms my theory that no one wants to eat those.

On a nicer note, Michelle helped me with the desserts for Jess' farewell party. She's a great troubleshooter when it comes to frosting. Thanks, Michelle!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ladies who lunch

Today I met up with Joanna for lunch in Kenosha.

When we worked at Nevin's, we used to eat lunch together often. Usually at the Fish Market — red beans and rice for her, something fried for me. Occasionally we would have dinner at Pete Miller's or drinks at The Mark, but we hashed out most of life's dramas over lunch at the Fish Market. (Or at Nevin's at table 41, Joanna said.)

That was 15 years ago.

When we caught up a bit at the Nevin’s reunion last summer, we talked about doing lunch.

Sure, Applebee's is a far cry from our fine-dining and almost-fine-dining days, but it was easy to find. It's good they sat us at a four-top because the appetizer sampler plate is very large. We ate mozzarella sticks, spinach and artichoke dip, quesadillas, and wings like we were still in our 20s.

We talked about everything — friends, family, boys, men, kids, dogs, happiness, the dramas of the day. There was so much in the present to catch up on, we didn't spend much time reliving the past.

And there is something so great about a friend who says, "I am going to give you some unsolicited advice."

Almost five hours later, we were still talking in the parking lot. Which is where we shot an entire series of photos where we accidentally cropped ourselves out. But this was my favorite.

Cheers to another great lunch. There's nothing like unsolicited advice from an old friend!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Brownies, brownies, and party, party

Two parties, two batches of brownies. I stayed up late baking on Thursday and Friday nights.

For the alley party, I made brownies from a David Lebovitz recipe that Yukie said was her favorite.

Yes, they were good. But in an anticlimactic turn of events, my batch was among three that were brought to the party. Meh.

I also baked a batch of cheesecake brownies, another recipe from David Lebovitz. (Someone resourceful would've just made two batches of the same brownies.) This dessert had to be top notch, as Jean had instructed us to bring one of our special dishes.

Carol said they were good. But really, could any cheesecake brownie be bad? Is there a standard?

Jean has a beautiful house with a great patio for entertaining. Doug grilled a variety of meats, but I was proud of myself for having only one plate of food: a Hebrew National on a poppy seed bun with rice and buffalo chicken dip.

After dinner we moved inside and talk turned to the group's upcoming Florida trip. There was mention of geocaching and nude beaches. But Dan was skeptical: Apparently the trip usually consists of tennis, eating, drinking, and talking about how great everyone is at tennis. For a few days in a row. (This sounds like a really fun trip! Why have I never gone?)

Summer feels like it's truly over. But there will always be tennis and brownies and parties. And on a good night, even some scotch.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tennis: State champs!

This weekend, Patrice and I had playoffs at Lowell Park for our tri-level team.

On Saturday, Terry and I went to see the team win the first match: Gina and Yvonne won in straight sets after being down 5-4. And Pam and Mary came back from 5-1 to also win in straight sets. I was blown away by how relaxed but aggressive our teams were. Amazing!

It was great to see Jan and Nan and Jody and Patrice, too. They were there for senior and mixed doubles playoffs. Even the entourage is hardcore about tennis — next year I'll remember to bring my own lawn chair.

On Sunday, I arrived in time to see Patrice and James win their match. It was the third one they played in two days, but they did not look tired at all.

Then it was time for Patrice and me to play. Tim was there to cheer us on, and as we walked to the court, he said, "Did you eat Qdoba?"

Gasp. I did not.

I was nervous in the warm-up. But I've gotten used to that feeling. Fortunately I felt better once we started the match. Though we took the first set 6-1, we knew our opponents had more in store for us. Patrice had played — and lost to — one of the women the day before.

I didn't know until after the match, but Patrice told her, "I'm going to kick your butt." Which is very NOT Patrice, by the way. She thinks stuff like that but doesn't say it.

But she doesn't make promises (or threats) lightly. Though the woman hit a lot of winners in one of the second-set games, it was just not enough to overcome Team Noonimoto. (Okay, I will never use that nickname again.)

After winning the second set 6-3, we stood on the court talking. I was in shock. Patrice has been to Nationals (as have many of our 4.0 and 4.5 teammates), but this was my first playoff game.

And everything about it was wonderful: Playing outside on a beautiful September day. Hearing people applaud. Seeing our teammates Mary and Debbie come back to win their match. And now I even have a lucky towel that says 2011 Wisconsin State Champion on it.

After team photos and a gift for Captain Char, Patrice and I sat on the curb talking for a couple of hours. Her sister and brother-in-law drove up and said we looked like teenagers.

Finally it was time to end our fun, victorious day. To celebrate, I got a patty melt, fries, and a raging headache. Dehydration sucks. But that's my only complaint about the whole experience.

Next stop: Sectionals in Homewood, Illinois. Go Muskego High!

Ron's pig roast 2011

Ron's annual pig roast is always a gluttonous affair. This year's theme: iPig.

The event did not disappoint.

I had a barbecued pork sandwich, broccoli salad, potato salad, pasta, and brownies with M&Ms. Ron's aunt also baked a delicious apple pie with Jack Daniels. Somehow I managed to skip the cake, a tri-level number with a pig on it.

On this year's invite:

"Technology is at its best when you can feel completely natural doing absolutely nothing that requires physical exertion."

Mission accomplished. I didn't manage to snap as many photos as I'd wanted. I definitely wish I'd gotten a photo of our host. But Ron must have been moving and mingling too fast for me.

Ron, instead I'll just say thank you for your generosity. And congratulations on the successful rollout of iPig!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Friends and fried food at Tosa Fest 2011

Having spent some of our formative years in Wauwatosa, it was fitting that Denise and I dropped in at Tosa Fest on Friday night.

Over chicken tenders and sour cream & chive fries from Saz's (me) and a pork sandwich and Diet Coke from the Chancery (her), we caught up about friends and work.

And also cars. Specifically, how hard it is to say goodbye to a car. (No disrespect to the Corolla, but I still miss my Legend. Thankfully Denise bought an Acura, which she calls Barney.)

We also ran into my neighbors Kristie and Paul, as well as Butch and his wife, Pat, who offered to share their mini doughnuts with us.

We decided to walk over to the Dale's Donuts truck and order the cinnamon sugar minis. They are indeed made on the spot — and were so hot we had to put napkins around the bag to carry it.

Enjoying beautiful weather and piping hot doughnuts with a friend — a great start to the weekend!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Irish Fest 2011

Another Irish Fest come and gone.

On Friday, we worked at the souvenir store at the north end of the Summerfest grounds. Because of the department-store-ish setup, we were more like t-shirt bouncers lurking at the fringes. It was a challenge to feel useful, but we got to step up and work the registers later that night. Way better (I love to do math in my head!).

We spent Sunday at the Marketplace, safely hemmed in by stacks and stacks of t-shirts. Here we are with the best sellers this year (this I determined from my tenure at the corner of the booth).

Then it was time for food. Per tradition, Denise had reuben rolls. I had a better-than-average shepherd's pie on Friday: the potatoes were swirled atop the ground beef. Yum! Next year I'll need to remember that it came from Trinity. And tonight I had a loaded baked potato.

Eating at a picnic table by the lake, it was hard not to mourn the ending of summer. But I wouldn't give up the fun of the fest, so I'll look forward to doing it again next year. See you there.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tennis: Honey Badgers team party

The Honey Badgers journeyed to the Firefly to celebrate our season.

We ate. We drank. We reminisced about our matches — the ones we won, the ones we didn't. That is my new euphemism: winning and "not winning." "Losing" is such a harsh term, and doesn't seem entirely accurate in describing us (unless we're talking about the Princeton bageling, ouch). It was a terrific season!

And a memorable party. Dianne, thank you for the heartfelt words. You are so gracious!

And everybody, thank you for the generous gift card. I'm going to use it for a lesson with Tom. Honey Badger needs a more consistent serve!

Some of the HBs couldn't be there, but Patty and I have party favors for you: notes from your teammates about what they admire in your game. Whether it was one word or many, I hope they'll be reminders of how you've contributed to our team's success.

I will miss you, Honey Badgers. Sure, we'll play permanent court time and maybe a tournament or two, but it's just not the same as seeing each other every week during the summer.

Not only did I love the excellent tennis, I also loved getting to know you better. I will miss all the phone conversations late at night, in the morning on my drive to work, and even occasionally during work.

Thanks for giving me lots to blog about. I'll also miss the strange exhilaration of staying up late after matches so I could make my Thursday morning deadline.

I can't wait to do it all again next year.

Go team!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mixed troubles

Though I've loved playing lots of tennis this summer, one thing I've missed out on was Monday Night Tennis. For MNT, Jean organizes four courts of mixed doubles at Brookfield Central.

Tonight, a few minutes into hitting, it started to rain. Almost everyone decided to go for an early dinner.

But Terry and I stayed and played against Dan and Mary.

"Safety first" — i.e., not running for a ball because the court was slippery — ensured that this wasn't the best tennis ever.

Mary asked, "Are you going to blog about this?" She was kidding, but I like a (moderate) challenge.

It continued to drizzle. The balls got waterlogged. Oosh.

But this being my first Monday of tennis this summer, I was glad to be out there hitting badly. (If you're wondering, Dan and Mary took the set, 6-4.)

So then we went to Hooters. Apparently Becky wanted to "try something new" last week, and this was also the choice tonight.

We sat at the same table as last week. I think we even sat in the same seating arrangement. My burger was just okay (better than the buffalo nuggets and stumpy fries I had before).

When Kevin and Colleen arrived, he said, "We're here to meet a bunch of morons."

The hostess said, "The tennis people are over there."

Mediocre tennis and mediocre food? Sounds like an okay Monday to me.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tennis: Honey Badgers final 2011 match

Tonight we trekked to Oconomowoc Lake Club for the last match of our season.

It was a night of sunshine, tennis whites, and only a few mosquitos.

At #2 singles, in only her second match of the season, Melanie was the first person to finish. She played with a lot of poise — and topspin! — and won 6-4, 6-2. Melanie, you did great tonight. Congratulations on your perfect record! And thanks to Mike and Katie, who also came to cheer her on. (Katie, I also enjoyed hanging out with you and hearing about who else you're playing tennis with!)

At #1, Kelly did her best against the opponent she played five weeks ago. Though she didn't come away with a win this time, she played hard and I could tell both players had a great time out there. Kelly, your sportsmanship is commendable (and reflects well on all of us!).

At #1 doubles, Jean and Marilee won in straight sets. Marilee has played with five different partners this season and adapted easily. Thanks for being such a flexible and versatile player! And Jean, way to end your season with a strong finish. (Sidebar: If you haven't already, be sure to congratulate Jean and Jan on advancing to playoffs with their senior team. Go Senior Honies!)

After losing the first set, Dianne and Sandy took the second. They played riveting tennis. I couldn't figure out what was different about Sandy tonight. I thought it was the sunglasses; Patty said, "She put her competitive face on."

We were having so much fun hanging out, Dianne had to shush us. (Sorry, Di. We were in our own little world.) It was so exciting to see you both excel against a very competitive team. Top-notch tennis and sportsmanship to match — a fitting end to your season.

As the sun was setting, Beth and Colleen were giving it their all. After losing the first set, they brought the second to a tiebreak. And won it! You two showed great mental toughness. Colleen, I loved how you hit sky-high lobs. And returned them, too! And Beth, way to fall down and get right back up. Literally. You are such a resilient player. Even though your opponents ultimately won the match, it was inspiring to see how hard you made them work for it. Very honey badgerish!

Tonight we also celebrated Colleen's birthday, the year of which she would not divulge ("It's not a milestone," she said). So we hung out in the clubhouse and reminisced while Colleen read birthday cards at arm's length.

Happy Birthday, Colleen! And happy end-of-season, Team!

Our season overall: 31 and 19, for a solid second-place finish.

Tremendous year, Honey Badgers! I'm looking forward to celebrating with you next week.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Papaya as a puppy

I received this photo yesterday and it made my day.

Having adopted "Maiah" when she was 8, I had no idea what she'd looked like as a pup.

In the summer of 2000, Jason and Jessica adopted her — when she was only 12 weeks old. Look at her tiny tail and big feet!

She grew into her features, as dogs do. The pads of her paws are no longer pink and I can't pick her up, but she's still every bit as adorable, with the same white socks and quirky smile.

Now she's 11 years old — 11 and a third, really. I took this photo today.

Bundle of joy to bundle of oh boy: Doesn't she look like a mutt capable of dastardly deeds? Yet I'm really lucky that Jessica and Jason gave her to me. She is a great character!

Maiah-Papaya, you have always been loved.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tennis: Honey Badgers’ loss

I knew Princeton would be challenging, but the fact that we beat them on their home courts in our first meeting had given me hope.

At #1 singles, Sandy truly put up a honey badger fight — and came away with the closest match of the night, a 7-5, 6-3 loss. It was wonderful to see you and Wendy talking afterward about what a great match you had. And you aced her a couple times? Tremendous!

At #1 doubles, Patrice and I had our first loss of the season at 3.5. Being down 5-0 in the second set, I said, "Any ideas?" And she said no and laughed. That actually made me feel better. And then we won three games! I wish we could have played longer and taken it to a third set; there is no one else I would rather strategize with. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to you, but I hope you weren't plagued by nightmares about Jan crazily piloting a pink couch.

Becky and Jan, Carol and Jean, and Lisa, I didn't get to talk to you about your matches — after our team lost, maybe we didn't all feel like sharing the specifics. (If you did, we can still do that!) I will say that Jean, I'm glad Amy didn't take out your eye. She definitely has some honey badger qualities, too.

Patty, the homemade nuts and caramel brownies helped ease the pain. But I especially appreciated you staying late and talking. Not as much fun as our Sunday brunches, but sitting in the near-dark having someone to reflect with was just what I needed.

Beth, Dianne, Katie, Colleen and Kevin, Dan and Mary, Eric, Terry, and Jennifer, thank you so much for cheering us on. I know there are many things in life other than tennis, so it meant a lot to me that you were there.

My friends also deserve some props. Chris, I appreciate the good wishes and conversations about Biofreeze. Hal, thanks for the many Mexican lunches. Kelsey and the jewelry Janes, it's so thoughtful that you ask how things are going. Kelsey, I loved all the fist pumps, good luck texts, and "You can do it!"s. And Keith, you are the best for dropping off wine. I'm lucky to be surrounded by terrific people in tennis and in life.

Yes, this was a tough night. At 29 and 16 (compared to Princeton's 37 and 8), we are now out of the running for playoffs.

But I am so proud of our team and our efforts. Everyone played hard. And if we were going to get swept, who better to do it than the team that came in second at state last year?

As always, onward!

Go team!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tennis: Honey Badgers’ seventh team win

Honey Badgers win again!

Tonight was our second meeting with Le Club. This time, we played on the air-conditioned courts at Highlander — such a relief in this ridiculously hot weather.

Yesterday, I saw Jody, Le Club's captain, win a singles match for our 4.0 team (yay!). I tried to get her to drink beer afterward so she'd be hung over, but she did not fall for it. And I had only one beer.

What I love about Jody is that she is casual and friendly — sure, bring the lineup on a post-it! — but she wants to win. (Just ask her teammates on any of the five teams she's on.)

She and Jessica played #1 doubles against Jan and Becky tonight. They cruised to a 3-0 lead.

But then Jan and Becky, who also want to win (always!), decided to radically change their game. Instead of power hitting and volleying, they started lobbing. A lot.

Team Jecky came back to win it 7-5, 6-3.

What I really admire is their ability to change their game. That is a difficult thing to do — especially to keep at it when you're down. So, phenomenal job, both of you — not just at winning, but at respecting and trusting each other enough to forge ahead with something different.

On the second court, Sandy and I played together and won 6-1, 6-2. Any anxieties I had about playing with a different partner disappeared as soon as we started the warmup. Sandy is a terrific partner. And tonight she was also really good-natured when I yelled "Bounce it!" (i.e., she let it bounce and did not refer to me as "Mother"). Seriously, she is having an incredible season, and I felt lucky to share in it tonight. Thanks for letting me play the deuce side, too. Mother loves the deuce side!

After we finished our match, I hung out upstairs.

Jean and Carol split sets. Terry and I saw Carol walk past us before they started the third. We waved, but she didn't see us. She was in a zone. I didn't get to talk to Jean, but you can always expect her to bring the fight. Maybe because she tells you in emails that say stuff like, "I'll be there, ready to win!!!"

The Le Club ladies played hard — fantastic volleying! — but the red team triumphed over the blue. Later, over some celebratory wine, Jean put on her Honey Badger shirt and gave Carol some crap about her serve. Jean is apparently fierce to her teammates as well as her opponents. But hey, it works! She brought her unique brand of motivation to last week's three-setter and won that one as well.

Good job, Carol and Jean! Another W for you.

The longest matches: singles.

At #1, Lisa played the same opponent she played last time. They are both really strong players. She was down in the third set, 4-1, but changed her strategy. (I love learning this stuff in the post-match powwow!)

She got two more games before Carolyn won. Singles can be a lonely game, but you really stayed in it tonight. Way to compete: 26 games!

And then there was one.


She and Zara played long, long, long points. While we were standing behind the glass watching, Jessie (from Le Club) walked away to get food. She came back and they were still playing the same game. I figured that they must have been at deuce. Zara took the game.

But Katie hung in there.

She stayed calm, even though her dad was watching and all the other matches had ended. And she did not look tired. At all.

Great job, Katie: You have amazing stamina and mental toughness, to have come back from a first set loss to win it! We're all proud of you.

Thanks to everyone who cheered us on. It makes the whole experience even better, seeing our friends and family (Terry, Dave, Molly, Lynn, Joe) cheering us on. Kelly, I love that you stayed the whole night and shared in our success. (And Patty, thanks for accepting my obsessiveness. I'm glad someone does!) Love the team spirit!

After our eighth week, we are 29 and 11.

Go team!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tennis: Honey Badgers’ sixth team win

The Honey Badgers journeyed to Pleasant Valley tonight.

The ladies from the valley of pleasantness were kind, but they weren't about to hand over any matches. I wouldn't expect anything less from a team that's been to Indy three times.

That said, Lisa was the first person off the court, after a 6-1, 6-0 victory. Way to go! (Your opponent told me she wished you made more unforced errors. Obviously you didn't. You were her first loss of the season.)

At #1 singles, Kelly put up a fight: 19 games before her opponent closed it out. It was a top-notch effort against a consistent hitter (who's also playing 4.0).

And though I doubt a cliché will make you feel better, I'm going to put it out there anyway: Have faith that it's never over till it's over. Really. The next point is always up for grabs, so know that you can win it. Keep fighting the good fight! (Okay, two clichés in one paragraph is overkill. But I've had to repeat them all to ease the pain of the 6-2, 6-0 drubbing Patrice and I suffered last night. "Lesson in humility." "Learning experience." "Will make me a better player." Yup, I know them all. And Beth, thanks for your calm reassurance sans clichés.)

Now back to the matter at hand:

In doubles, Colleen and Marilee played on a different court than assigned and forgot to update the score cards, but it all worked out: They rallied to win, 7-5, 6-1. It was amazing to watch their combination of aggressiveness and patience — and how they got into a rhythm of the right shot at the right time. Well played!

Dianne and Sandy also played a great match: After losing the second set, they won the third.


No question, they wanted to win. Love it! You two are solid as partners and as all-around teammates. And great work at staying undefeated, even with different partners.

The last match to finish: At #1, Jan and Jean played a nailbiter.

They volleyed. They lobbed. They split sets.

Jean compared Jan to her 4.5 mixed doubles partner, saying, "Ron would have gotten that."

Somehow this motivated the power hitter in Jan. After being down in the third set, they came back to win it, 7-5. Holy Honey Badgers! It was brilliant tennis; their opponents played well, too, which makes the victory even sweeter.

Post-tennis, we shared subs, salad, key lime pie, and cream puffs. The PV team is a gracious group, and I enjoy the ritual of sharing a meal.

The hard-fought victories have brought us to our 25 and 10 record.

Go team!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tennis: Honey Badgers’ fifth team win

Another team win!

We played tonight's match indoors at Bluemound, which to me is one of the toughest places to play. Being indoors is great in the winter, but when it's summer and the fans make noise without really cooling, well, that depletes my energy.

But enough about the conditions. Here's the rundown:

At #1 singles, Kelly gave it her best against Peggy. I did not see the match, but I could tell from her face afterward (red!) how hard she had worked. Kelly, we love, love, love your effort and your stamina.

On the second court, Katie won her match 6-2, 6-1. She is a quiet winner, our Katie, stealthily beating her opponents. Though I'd love to know her secret, there's no point in overanalyzing what works (subtle fist pump here).

At doubles, we all had decisive straight-set wins. Patrice and I finished at 6-1, 6-1. I felt like we were more like ourselves tonight with set-ups and put-aways. And I even ate a chicken crunch salad for lunch instead of Qdoba. Crazy, isn't it?

Beth and Colleen won 6-1, 6-2. They also won when we played the Bluemound team at our first match. I didn't start blogging until the week after, but their win that night was a bright spot in our overall team loss. Glad to see history repeat itself! You make a good team.

Dianne and Marilee, who have both played with several different partners, won 6-0, 6-1 in the dungeon, the separately enclosed court. Nice! Marilee subbed for Sandy, who had a suspicious story about an injury while fixing the over-algae-fied pond. (I'm just kidding. Sandy, we need you healthy. Glad you rested tonight.)

Sandy's injury didn't keep her from coming to cheer us on. I love that. Lisa, thank you, too, for staying to the end on a busy work night. And Jean, you put my worry to rest with your willingness to be a last-minute sub.

All of us — our opponents included — are Highlander members. Three years ago, I was on their team. They were my introduction to summer league and permanent court time. There were book clubs and parties. We go way back.

So it's a crazy tangle of emotions, because I never want my friends to lose.

But the season goes on. And our record improves to 21-9. Cheers to all my teammates, past and present.

Go team(s)!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tennis: Honey Badgers’ fourth team win

Last night we continued our streak with a team win over Oconomowoc Lake.

Kelly, our #1 singles player, cheerfully played outside on the lone available clay court. Though the court conditions weren't ideal, she toughed it out and won in straight sets. Great consistency and tenacity!

At #2 singles, Melanie made her team debut looking relaxed and confident. She also turned in the night's most dominant performance at 6-0, 6-3. We're all proud of you, Melanie!

Carol and Jean played hard and stayed focused to stave off a late-match rally from their opponents. They won, 6-4, 6-4. And Carol, way to finish with an ace!

At #1 doubles, Colleen and Jan split sets. They were a very competitive team and played terrific tennis. I had to leave for Summerfest but wish I could have stayed to cheer them on. Patty later left me a voice mail: In a valiant effort, they lost the third set. But taking it to three sets against a solid team: great!

Awesome focus and play on all of our indoor courts — even with Doug wandering by and yelling, "Honey Badgers!" A couple of times. Our mascot is very vocal.

I stopped at Brookfield East to catch the end of Marilee and Sandy's match. I missed the comeback of the night (well, unless you count Hall and Oates): They were down 5-1 in the first set and won it 7-6 (tiebreak score was 7-2, if you were wondering). Then they took the second set, 6-2.

Way to go, both of you. And in your first match together!

Halfway through the season, our record is 17 and 8. Our team just gets better and better.

Go team!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Oldies but goodies: Hall and Oates

I've never been to Summerfest when there were so many people at a side stage.

I wandered away to get some reuben rolls and when I came back, I couldn't find Keith in the masses of people watching fireworks. Thankfully we met up at Saz's and found some space near the t-shirt stand.

Hall and Oates are totally worth seeing, even if you have to go to a 10 p.m. show on a school night. Totally!

I had really tried to get a group together. But when I asked my work friends if they like H2O, most of them shot me down (some more politely than others):

"I like to make fun of Hall and Oates."

"No. Do you?"

"I guess I wouldn't change the station."

"I don't know. Do I?"

Sure, there were some promising answers. It was heartening to hear "My friend and I used to always go to the bar and play Private Eyes" and "I anticipate screaming like a 13-year-old on The Ed Sullivan Show during a Beatles appearance."

In the end, the huge crowd and a star sighting made me feel better. "Even Barry Alvarez loves Hall and Oates!" Keith said.

The time flew by in an 80s flashback. I could barely see (particularly the diminutive Oates, even in his melon-colored shirt), but I loved hearing Maneater, Family Man, Sara Smile, and Adult Education. There was only one song I didn't recognize, something from the 70s. Otherwise, it was one great tune after another.

In their first encore, they played You Make My Dreams — one of my favorites, that toe tapper! For the second, of course, it was Kiss on My List. If I were taller, I would have seen Oates play the guitar with his teeth.

The final song was — clap clap — Private Eyes.

Going to an H&O concert should be on your bucket list. Their music is one of the best things in life.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tennis: Honey Badgers’ third team win

Tonight we traveled to the cavernous building that is Princeton, to take on the top team in our flight. Before our match, they were 13-2. They went to playoffs last year.

So we had our work cut out for us.

After doing some juggling because of schedules, I emailed Patty and mentioned different lineup options. "Stay with your first instincts," she said.

I kept the original lineup, putting Patrice and me at #2 doubles.

So, did you know that Princeton has low ceilings? Yet I could not stop lobbing. I'm sure the people watching from the viewing area upstairs were puzzled by this. I know I was.

Amy slammed plenty of overhead winners at us. And yet somehow we got through it. (It's not that I say this casually. I just couldn't tell you specifically what we did to get through it.) But we did: 7-6, 6-3.

Becky and Jan took their court in three sets. They are so terrific together, and I knew Becks would have her game face on when she called to tell me she arrived an hour early. (Okay, it was by accident, but still.) I never, ever underestimate the two of them as a team.

And Sandy! Not only did she win in straight sets, she came back from a 4-0 deficit in the second set to take it 7-5. Wow! Could you do that in your first singles match of the season? I love the spirit and toughness!

Beth, Marilee, and Lisa, kudos for going out there and playing honey-badger style. You had to take on the best of the best, being in the #1 spots. We know how tough that is (I've had to play Wendy twice — unfortunately, she is a honey badger, too). Way to play hard!

And Carol and Dianne and Patty, thank you for staying till the very end and sharing cake for Beth's birthday. There was lots to celebrate.

Tonight was truly an achievement: Four weeks into the season, we are the only team to win against Princeton. The only!

I'll leave you with a reminder — the good luck message that Jean, who couldn't play tonight, sent all of us before the match:

"You can beat 'em. Don't forget who we are. The fierce, fighting Honey Badgers!"

Go team!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

An eventful night of tennis

Tonight's match — like most — had great shots, unforced errors, energy, fatigue, the usual highs and lows. But also a lot more.

Patrice and I started our match outdoors at Western. It was a muggy night — lots of rain during the day — and I said, "At least my muscles will be loose."

When I went to retrieve a ball after a point, I slipped and fell on the muddy grass. Good thing my muscles were loose. (Patrice fell earlier today, too, riding her bike in the rain.)

And my toe hurt. Not from falling but from tripping on the couch on Saturday. So it felt great to fall and not get injured. Seriously, I was grateful!

We won the first set. Then the skies rumbled and our opponents Julie and Karen suggested we nab an indoor court before anyone else did.

Inside, we lost the second set. They were up 5-3 when it was my turn to serve. The lights went out. In the dark I said, "30-love." Maybe this would also be a reprieve for my serve, which had gone into hiding.

We took a break waiting for the halogen lights to come back on. Ann, our captain, offered me an Advil.

A few minutes later, we resumed play at 30-love. We won that game but lost the next one.

The third set, we were either tied or down a game. I tried not to get nervous when they were up 5-4.

Then we were up at 6-5. I could hear people clapping. For us, for them. Did we close it out? No. Julie held serve.

I'm getting a lot of experience playing tiebreakers. Finally, almost three hours after we started, we won and shook hands with Julie and Karen. And when we came up the stairs, the first thing we heard was the Western team telling us, "Great match!"

It was even better being able to celebrate with our teammates Ann, Jessica, and Jody. And Carol, thanks for giving me the emergency tape for my toe.

Our first 4.0 win! But no time to relax. We'll have another tough match tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tennis: Honey Badgers’ second team win

Sometimes the score tells only part of the story.

Tonight our team won four courts against Le Club. Though we did this in straight sets, the scores don't always reflect how hard we had to work.

But first, a little backstory. I’ve known Jody, the Le Club captain, for years. Occasionally our mixed teams have crossed paths or we've met up in a tournament. But we also play together on another team — and it’s an odd relationship to one day be teammates and the next day, opponents.

But Jody is used to this, as she has tons of experience captaining and playing on different teams. Last week she cheered for Patrice and me. Tonight, she and Suzy were our opponents.

And how!

Patrice and I won the first set, then saw our efforts slip away into a 4-1 deficit in the second. My Gatorade wasn’t kicking in, either. I still made a lot of unforced errors. (Also, the very large pre-match lunch at Jose’s may have slowed me down. You know what’s great about Qdoba? Portion control.)

At some point, we arrived at 6-all. The tiebreak was a blur. I don't mean it went fast, I mean I don't remember it. This was the most exhausting match I've played in almost two years. But we did it! And next week, Jody and Patrice and I will again be on the same team, encouraging each other.

Two courts away, Carol and Jean launched their own comeback, rallying from a 5-2 deficit to take the first set 7-5. Then they won the second. Two words: mental toughness.

On court 2, Jan did not disappoint in her season debut. Becks commented, “She’s a wonderful player and she kicked me in the butt.” Not literally. They got it done together, 7-6, 6-4. Great job!

At singles, Katie took a straight-set victory: 6-1, 6-1. Impressive! Katie, I wish I had gotten to see you play.

Lisa took Le Club’s #1 singles player to three sets in a match that lasted two hours. That is a heckuva long time to be playing competitive tennis. Fantastic, Herculean effort!

I was so focused on the post-match Jimmy John’s and cookie assortment, I forgot to record scores. Colleen, thank you for doing that and giving me some time to hang out with our friends. Ron, Matt, and Abbey, it was also nice to know there was someone else rooting for us. I loved that you were there.

Go team!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tennis: Honey Badgers prevail

Here's my recap of tonight's match. I'll try to do them weekly — though, no promises. (I already missed last week.)

So, without further ado: We had a team win — four courts! — against Pleasant Valley.

All of our doubles courts won in straight sets. Dianne and Jean, who never play together, were especially impressive in their 6-0, 6-1 victory that took less than an hour. Tremendous!

Becks was our 11th hour sub after Marilee couldn't play. She and Beth have years of experience playing together, and neither of them was thrown by the last-minute change. Becky clearly did not have first-match jitters (as I did), and Beth has won both of her matches. Yay!

I'm also thrilled for Katie, who won her singles match (also in straight sets). Katie is not one to toot her own horn, so if you see her, tell her what an awesome job she did!

Lisa had a tough match at #1 singles — she played great and battled her opponent in the longest of tonight's matches. It was a terrific effort, and the second set was extremely close at 7-5.

Our team had been assigned court 1 and courts 5 through 8. At one point on court 8, a player was down. I couldn't do anything about it, as I was three courts away and in the middle of a match. Still, it was not a good feeling to ignore someone in distress. But I knew Patty saw what happened, and she never flips out about anything — including when Sendik's didn't have our food order ready — so I knew she could take care of the situation. (It turns out that the player was from another team and had started cramping in an epic third set.)

Tonight was something of a strange night, marked by moments of thunder. (Literally. Glad we played inside.) Also, Patrice told me I looked tired. I was! It turns out Gatorade is not a magical elixir.

Thank you to Carol and Colleen, who stayed until the very end. We can't always play spectator-worthy tennis, but knowing someone is rooting for you does make a difference. And this team plays together, parties together, and prays together. Colleen and I don't pray, but she knows what I mean.

Go team!

PS: I should give credit to Doug, who gave us our team name. If you didn't already know, the honey badger is immune to snake bites and bee stings. It overpowers bigger, stronger animals. It can also run backwards (something I'd love to be able to do). See where we're going with this?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Addie and Dustin's wedding reception

On Friday, Jane and I went to Addie and Dustin's wedding reception at Mikeys (mi•key's), which is a great space right down the street from Elsa's.

Addie looked gorgeous in her dress, just like in their surprise Florida wedding.

She and Dustin are a perfect match: both of them are fun and adventurous. The first time I met Dustin, he was wearing a teal t-shirt and parachute pants — at my 80s-themed birthday party. This is a guy who really knows how to go for it in life. Who else could get Addie to go on two dates in one night? Theirs is one of those "We knew it right away" love stories.

Dustin’s brother Jordan, who had worn a mesh half-shirt and acid-washed jeans to the party, regaled me with post-party stories. The gist: He had gone to a few bars and people were not friendly, but he hitched a few rides to ultimately end up in Walker's Point. Thumbs up!

And now back to the reception: The boys and Addie had constructed a photo booth, complete with props. This provided much entertainment as the Kalmbach girls (Addie, Serene, Kristin, Jane, me, Lindsay, and Alison) crammed our way in. It will be interesting to see if the sword or goggles made it into any of the shots.

Later I sampled the crostinis, crudites, and cakes. Yes, cakes. So many cakes, they didn’t all fit in the picture. I ate two pieces (a welcome respite from my anti-sugar campaign, which is a story for another time).

Fun night, fun people. Cheers, Addie and Dustin!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Turning on a dime

My friend Mary often says, "Life can turn on a dime." I agree. Things can change quickly, in any direction.

But the dime itself, how often do you think about it?

At my tennis lesson today, Tom had me practice my serves. Which I needed lots of work on — they were terrible on Saturday. ("What's with the Zembinski arm?" my friends asked. "Really?" Dianne said after I double-faulted for the zillionth time. The serves were not good.)

So Tom walked away and came back with...

A dime.

He put it under the tip of my ring finger while I held my racquet. My fingers had been flying off the grip when I served.

Not anymore! My serve has turned on a dime. (And with a dime.)

Sure, I could bend my legs more and swing harder and control the toss better. But hanging on to the racquet is a good start.

Thanks, Tom!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Oh no, Papa, not the batteries!

Papaya ripped open packs of batteries, scattering some in the kitchen and playing with others in her special place in the living room. (It doesn't look like she ate any. Phew.)

When it comes to chewing and shredding, Pops is something of a DieHard herself.

But Papa, enough with the super-charged playtime.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Good to be back

I haven't been blogging or playing tennis lately, and I've really missed both.

Yesterday on court 3, Rick, John, Carl, and Fred were playing doubles. One of them said, "You're here for a comeback!"

It was a warm welcome as Tom K. and I walked onto court 4 — he wisely kept me away from the "show courts." This was my first time playing tennis since injuring my arm in February.

A comeback suggests a good result, and I wouldn't say that things were quite so grand. Tom tried to fix my backhand grip, letting me know what he could and could not live with. At one point, he asked what I was thinking about as I was hitting. "Just trying to get the ball back." Such modest goals.

But my K-Swiss with nubby laces, the smell of not-quite-new tennis balls, seeing my Tuesday night group (whom I play with only once a month anyway) — all of it seemed new. And all of it was great.

Like coming home.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Patrice and the gnome

It was time for the gnome to continue his journey.

I've been wanting to redecorate my living room, but the gnome's been perched on the bookshelf behind the couch, watching my every move. Also, he's very heavy.

So now he can live with Patrice and Tim, and she can pass him along at the next milestone birthday — which we think might be a couple of years away unless we add new people to the group.

On Monday, we had a mellow celebration with nachos, potato skins, cupcakes, cosmos, and gumballs — all good birthday treats. There were cards and gifts and a few off-color jokes, which we explained to Shappy.

And though we kept it low key per the birthday girl's request, apparently a lot of people at tennis said "Happy FIFTIETH birthday!" Not so low key.

Good thing Patrice has a good sense of humor. Happy birthday, Partner!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Three things at BeadStyle

It's a busy week here at work.

First, I wanted to share my newest cover design. I've always loved Lucite, so it was a no-brainer to do something colorful for May. (Well, maybe not quite a no-brainer, as I tend to over-deliberate on everything.) I'm also becoming a fan of orange and yellow and am trying to work them into my wardrobe without looking like a pumpkin or bumblebee.

Another new thing: I've got an online column about jewelry. Check out my first "Naomi knows" at BeadStyle's Bead Room.

Last, it's my eight-year anniversary at Kalmbach this Thursday. I will be maniacally baking cupcakes and navigating the challenges of cream cheese frosting. I could really use some help with the frosting (too runny!), so send any tips my way.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Jewelry and gelato

On Friday, Kelsey and I taught jewelry making classes on High-Interest Day at Washington Elementary.

It was fun and a bit easier than last year, when everyone got done stringing at the same time and we had to finish a bunch of necklaces in just a few minutes.

Fortunately we had the brilliant idea of finishing one end of the wire before we handed out the kits — which saved time and resulted in fewer dropped beads.

Still, the kids kept us busy.

One of the first things we heard: "I didn't want jewelry! I wanted gelato."

After we introduced ourselves, one of the boys raised his hand. "I need help," he said.

Also overheard:

"These look like marbles. I'm just sayin'."

"Are you a senior?" (This to Kelsey, of course, not me.)

And my personal favorite, as a fourth grader laid down in the corner:
"Do you have nap time?" (No.) "Then why do you have an awesome carpet?"

Good thing kids are resilient and move on from disappointments like dropped beads and no gelato. Everyone — including Kelsey, Jenna, and me — had a great time, just like last year.

Afterward, Kelsey and I had lunch in the gym: sandwiches, chips, and dessert — caramel sea salt gelato.