Monday, November 19, 2012

Trophies for everyone!

At Le Club's Turkey Tourney on Friday night, Rohit and Todd easily won their draw. For their victory, they each received a turkey and a ginormous trophy.

I like how big the court looks here. There is really a lot of it to cover, but RJ and Todd did so decisively. Well played!

In other news, Kelly and I lost our first match 6-0, 6-2, to Anfin and Haley. It does give me some consolation, though, that there's a long list of players who have lost to Anfin and Haley. They are very tough.

Speaking of consolation, Kelly and I still had a shot at winning the back draw. We played Rachel and Tricia on Saturday and didn't have a great start, falling into a 5-2 hole. But with decent play and some cute nicknames, we chipped away at our deficit and won the set 7-6.

An hour and 15 minutes for the first set. Ouch! Fortunately we won the second set 6-1.

After a short break, we played — and won! — our second match. I was thrilled to receive my slightly oversized trophy. Really: Trophies are way better than turkeys or t-shirts. Turkeys get eaten and t-shirts fade, but trophies can collect dust forever.

Here we are with Kim and Lisa, who won all three of their matches — including one against Anfin and Haley. Thus their spectacular trophies. Well deserved. Congrats on your impressive victory!

It was a good but tiring weekend of tennis. Rohit is contemplating the fate of his frozen butterball (his words, not mine), so we're all looking forward to a victory dinner. Cheers, everybody!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Holiday ornament wreath

I've been wanting to make an ornament wreath for years — years! — and have finally done it. I'm not especially crafty, but this was a really fun project. Glue guns are the best!

For a supply list and instructions, check out "Naomi knows: How to make an ornament wreath" in the Bead Style Bead Room.

Then you, too, can cross that off your holiday bucket list.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Overheard at Kim's 50th

Kim walked into her 50th birthday party at Le Club and gave a little "Hey, what's up?" shrug. Easy-breezy, maybe because she's been claiming to be 50 for the past two years. Here she is with her mom, Rosemary, who's lovely and gracious — very much like Kim.

Then we did not see Kim for a little while because we went to play tennis. I had a blast getting schooled by Lisa, Kristen, and Tash. We managed to keep Tash on the court for the full hour and a half. Good times.

I felt like a kid in a candy store — or maybe more like a kid at a birthday party — when I saw the smorgasbord of food: pizza, pizza, pizza (seriously, there were so many pizzas, but my favorite was the buffalo chicken one, thank you Scott and Nora), wings, salads, chips, popcorn, candy, cake, and even adorable shortbread cookies shaped like teapots.

I have to give props to Jane C., who not only helped me frost cupcakes but also made the glossy, uniformly shaped chocolate letters. She also carved the little comma, which we included for symmetry as well as grammatical correctness. If only you could see it....

When I asked if Kim would hate having a bunch of candles, Mary said yes. "So we have to do it," she said.

There were so many people and so many conversations, it's hard to sum up. Instead, here are a few things I heard at the party. They are as close to verbatim as I remember; I'm going for "truthiness" here:

"My grandma's 82 and her boyfriend is 55."

"If I were 90, I could see dating someone who's 75."

"Let's get a picture. Tash? Tash! Put down the food."

"You cannot quote The Wire."

"I didn't know we were doing candles. That's why I ate the P."
Kim: "Why didn't you just eat the rest and ruin my 'birthday'?"

"We didn't get schooled on the court. We got spanked."

"You don't have any compassion now that you're 50?"

It was tennis and dinner and pretzel M&Ms with lots of fun people. It is only through tennis that I get to go to parties on Monday nights — a beautiful thing.

So thank you, Rebekah, Mary, and Glenna for throwing a great bash. Kim, you too. We couldn't have done it without you!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cupcakes and earrings

It has been a crazy week.

We're designing for 365 Earrings — the math of which works out to 90 or so per editor. I just finished designing mine! This afternoon will be spent writing the story.

And recovering from the carb-laden snacks and lunch I've had today. Cathy organized a cake walk to benefit the United Way, and everyone at Team Bead Style baked cupcakes. Which also meant that everyone at Team Bead Style ATE cupcakes.

Yellow cake with cocoa frosting, carrot and red velvet with cream cheese frosting, and chocolate with white chocolate frosting. All in the past two days.

Plus I had a bagel with cream cheese for my morning snack. And this for lunch: crackers and cheese, chips and dip, Chex mix, Helene's homemade baklava, plus a brownie for some color and antioxidants.

All of this carb production is for a good cause, though. I also learned something new this week: I am not good at making chocolate letters. Why did I choose a serif font?! Plus, Keith's birthday is not even until next week.

So this may not be a time of learning new skills, but of simply getting the job done. TGIF....

To add to the manic atmosphere, Pops has been acting out lately. She dumped the kitchen garbage and ate a burned blueberry chocolate chip pancake and the top of this carton of buttermilk. Too many carbs for her too?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Apple crisp

I left work early on Friday in a rush to make an apple crisp for our team party. Luckily my mom came over to help me peel all the apples. I also borrowed an apple slicer, which saved time.

I used Zestar apples and reduced the sugar — no complaints, but personally I prefer tarter apples. Back to Granny Smith, methinks.

You can serve this with vanilla ice cream (so as not to disappoint Rebekah) or whipped cream (which Tash might have an extra serving of). Your call.

Apple crisp
Serves 12

1 cup oatmeal
1 cup flour
1½ cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup butter
6 cups apples, peeled and sliced
Dash of salt
Nutmeg (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and butter. Blend them together until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is well distributed throughout.

Place the apples in an even layer in the baking dish. Sprinkle with about a half-teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of salt.

Top the apples with the oatmeal mixture and sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a dash of salt.

Bake for 40 minutes until golden brown. Cool for at least 15 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. May be stored at room temperature in a covered container for three to five days.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tennis 2012: Le Club team party

Friday night our 4.0 team celebrated the season at Jessica's house. Her husband, Dennis, grilled a tenderloin — a huge chunk of meat. Red meat and red wine (especially together) are two things that always remind me how good life is.

It appeared that cheese was the unofficial theme of the evening. Glenna brought cheese, cheese, and cheese (I don't remember the three kinds, except that I ate them all while we drank wine on the patio). And Rebekah made cheesy potatoes and a potato salad — a bit of a digression from her assigned side, hummus.

Jessica's home is beautiful, and we ate dinner by the fireplace, with Goldens Copper and Toby wandering by to check out the scene. At some point, Kim jokingly suggested that we each say something nice about each person in the room.

Rebekah got really into this, raising and waving her hand: "Ooh — and Ann: I really like how you set up courts and you include everybody!" She was not even deterred by Kim and Mary singing Kumbaya.

In the spirit of good sportsmanship, I'll be a team player. Here goes:

Ann: I'll always remember that you gave me my first shot at 4.0 and my first experience with combo. Thank you for always being so generous and welcoming.

Glenna: You have incredible poise and truly know how to calm people down. (I wasn't joking about how helpful you were at the first match.) I also respect your forehand and knowledge of cheese.

Jessica: I love your decisiveness in managing a team of strong-willed women. Thank you for captaining a great season and hosting a wonderful party. And someday I hope to hit as many down-the-line shots as you do.

Kim: We already know you're a great tennis player. But I knew we'd be friends when we talked about sandwiches and sleeping pills after my first match. I love being your token Asian friend even though I'm only good at basic math.

Kristen: In addition to having an enviable game, you never lose your mind when you play tennis. This is truly impressive and I've learned a lot from your calm, no-nonsense court presence.

Mary: You are one of the funniest people I've ever met: the garage jokes never got old. And I'm impressed by anyone who tells their opponents, "I'm not going to play a third set."

Nora: You give spot-on advice in matters of the heart. Our talk at Western was one of the high points of my season. (Of course, the way we got treated at Western was one of the low points, but why focus on the negative?)

Patrice: How lucky was I that we got thrown together four seasons ago? So many of my best tennis experiences have been with you, and you're a dear friend, Nooni.

Rebecca: You are a great player and so unbelievably cheerful. Really, I would not believe it if I didn't aleady know you from high school. And thanks for supplying the entire team with Gatorade at the Milwaukee Country Club match. You're a good egg.

Rebekah: Your excellent backhand is rivaled only by your cheesy potatoes. And your enthusiasm about this blog is so encouraging (writing can be a lonely pursuit — much less so with an audience).

Sandy: You're a terrific player, but I am even more blown away by your team spirit. You go the distance to support your teammates, and you never have an unkind thing to say about anyone (even if you did nickname me "Mother").

Tash: On and off the court, I admire your dynamic and dramatic personality. And I applaud your courage in drinking both beer and wine. Regardless of the college sayings, the grain and the grape make a daunting combination.


Monday, September 10, 2012

On book keeping

"Smart people always have a lot of books and games," my friend Mary said. I am pleased to say that she announced this while perusing the bookshelves in my living room.

In case you're wondering, Mary is a person with a lot of books and games. She will soon be tackling The Art of Seduction — which is not a self-help book but a chilling analysis of human nature. Good thing she'll have Atlas Shrugged as a beach read.

So what does it mean that I decided to pare down my collection tonight, before settling in to watch a jillion episodes of The Wire?

This project started because I decided to dust the shelves. To really truly dust, that is, to get the dog hair out.

Books are amazing things. They're like music, transporting me to a certain time in my life. So I want to remember what I've given away. It's odd, trying to hold on to what I'm letting go of.

Sure, I'm keeping some books for the sake of vanity. Like Small Is the New Big. I have not read it, but I think that having a Seth Godin book makes me look au courant in my thinking.

But I'm also keeping Love on a Rotten Day. In addition to giving hilarious rundowns of different astrological signs, it reminds me of Scorpio Heather, who suggested I read it. We met at a TV show taping five years ago, and I love when people recommend books that I'd have never found on my own.

I don't always do so well when I choose my own reading material: I'm giving away a few financial and business books in pristine condition. Maybe these tomes had one intriguing idea, but I couldn't slog through most of them. Same with some of the dog training books. Papaya can't read them anyway.

It's with mixed feelings that I'm parting with The Managed Heart and one of my Norton anthologies, books that were so much a part of my college experience. But I'm not giving away all of my old texts. I'm still hoping to read The Odyssey.

And then there's my grad school days. Keeping: Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion. Giving away: Anger: The Struggle for Emotional Control in America's History. Yes, I've always been interested in emotions. In studying them, that is — not in having them.

I can't bear to give away How Emotions Work. Even though I was probably the worst research assistant ever (I can recall only one accomplishment: finding a Freud reference about a dream), Jack Katz wrote, "To Naomi, In fond memory of your help in making this monster."

I'm also keeping the children's books — both copies of The Giving Tree were gifts — and everything Philip Roth and Oscar Wilde. Mine is a library filled with hope and cynicism.

Goodbye, my printed friends. You'll always be in my heart, if not in my mind.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Love and large-link chain

I was thrilled when Jocelyn asked about this copper bib from my Etsy shop and offered to send photos for my portfolio.

She already had her dress picked out for her rehearsal dinner, and she wanted a necklace that wasn't too long. This works perfectly: I love the contrast of the copper and the mint green.

She also looks stunning in the pic with Ben on their honeymoon. They both look so happy! I would be, too, if I were in Turkey, Italy, and the Greek Islands.

Jocelyn and Ben live in San Francisco and met five years ago at work. Of course I had to ask about the proposal.

"Last summer we were driving down the 1 on the coast and stopped for a day of hiking in Big Sur. Halfway through the 9-mile hike in a place with an amazing view of the ocean, he read a poem he'd written that chronicled our relationship and ended with the line 'So marry me — just say you will.' And I did."

I'm always touched when I see people wearing my jewelry, especially when it's on a special occasion. So thanks, Jocelyn. I wish you and Ben joy as you walk through life together!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Irish Fest 2012

Working at the Irish Fest marketplace, Denise and I were glad to graduate from the floor to the booth. The booth is always the best place to be because you can eke out your own little space to talk to Fest-goers. And you get a chance to catch up with the regular volunteers, some of whom devote four days to the Fest.

The highlight of my shift was talking to an elderly man. A bit shaky, he was immediately drawn to — believe it or not — the leprechaun hat on the mannequin. "It's too small," his wife said when he tried it on.

I got a size large for him. Slowly, he put it on. "Is this the only one?" he asked.

We had at least 10 in each size, but I told him I could hold on to it while he looked around. "His name is Fred," his wife said. He looked at my name tag. "Naomi," I said. "Oh!" he said, laughing at I couldn't say what.

I wrote "Fred" on a sticker and put it on the hat, leaving it near the register.

He came back a few minutes later. "You put my name on it!" he said. I helped him tie the green pompoms under his chin.

To see someone so genuinely excited about a leprechaun hat, I got a little misty-eyed. There is something about Irish Fest: the beautiful weather when the days are getting shorter, the slightly melancholy music, the familiarity of shepherd's pie and reuben rolls with Denise, and now, the pure joy over a crazy hat — well, all of these things make me grateful for this one day a year.

I hope you made it to Irish Fest, too!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Unions and reunions: Colleen's 50th birthday

Colleen's 50th birthday party had it all: lots of food, booze, and generations of family and friends. Plus she celebrated another milestone: A wedding! She and Kevin tied the knot a few weeks ago, and the gang is thrilled for them. Congrats!

Rob and Patricia threw a party with free-flowing champagne. (Though I love champagne, I saved myself for the end-of-evening Maker's Mark.) After seconds on the grilled steak fajitas, I had just enough room for the homemade German chocolate cake — and a taste of the banana fudge cake, too.

Colleen and Patricia are both enthusiastic dogsitters and adopters. Yet the night also held many reunions. Bailey was happy to see Chris — but Rob and Patricia knew not to be worried. And here's Doug cuddling old, blind Cisco.

Sigh. That would be the last time most of us saw Cisco.

Colleen just notified us that he is gone. In his obituary, she wrote:

Cisco I pray the the table in heaven has a chair pulled out so you can jump up and dine to your delight. In heaven my father has many mansions, I also hope he has many electric fans to handle your gas.

Love and gas: Could there be any truer words about what dogs bring to our lives?

But enough about that. This is a celebration! Cheers, Colleen and Kevin. And Cisco, too. It has been a month of milestones, and we're glad to be sharing all of them with you.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tennis 2012: Le Club, Week 8

Le Club vs. Le Club. I looked forward to this match because it's Yvonne's team, and she is one of my favorite tennis people — a great competitor and a supportive teammate. So I knew it would be a fun night.

At #1 singles, it was Jessica vs. Laurie. Their match took more than two hours. Two. Hours. After two hours of slamming the ball back and forth, Laurie ultimately took it, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6. Jessica, that was an amazing effort — you really stayed in it after a tough start.

Kristen (#2 singles) was sitting and calmly eating a sub when Patrice and I came off the court. Because she'd been on Court 10 and we were on Court 3, I didn't get to see her play. "How did your match go?" I asked. "Good," she said. I found out later that her score was 7-5, 6-0. Nicely done, Kristen — and I like the quiet humility. Which, come to think of it, is totally you.

At #1 doubles, Tash and Rebecca won, 6-2, 6-4. I was two courts away from them so I can't give any details. Though, I do recall that Tash had a migraine. Way to play through it! Sorry I wasn't more observant about the match — though, did I hear Rebecca yelling at herself? I wish I had hung out with both of you for a post-game interview. Next year I'll do better!

At #2 doubles, Mary and Rebekah stayed tough, winning 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. They had some really great, aggressive points (love it!). Plus, it's impressive to take the last two sets after losing the first. Nice mental toughness and skilled play!

At #3, Patrice and I were also put to the test. At first, we had trouble with Irina's angle shots and overheads. And the pace seemed slow until we figured out their one up/one back strategy. Oh-kay! Down 1-4, we came back to take it 6-4, 6-4. Nice job, Nooni!

Great job, Team, on the 4-1 win — a strong finish to the season. By the way, both Le Club teams finished with a 22-18 record and 41 sets lost. We did lose fewer games (367 to their 406). So numbers-wise, we were evenly matched.

Reluctant to see the season end, I lingered at Le Club. I caught up with Kelly, mingled with Nora and Kim and the Highlander men's team, watched the Olympics, drank red wine, and ate peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Finally I could not stay any longer.

But at least I'll get to go back tomorrow to play some doubles. So I'll see you soon, Teammates.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

On memories (mixed doubles)

Team Fontimoto played our last match of the season on Friday night. The results: a 6-3, 7-5 loss in Kenosha. Despite the score, the match was mostly fun. We held serve when we were down 5-4, so I'm proud of small achievements like that.

Going into the season, my goal was to have a .500 record or better. Jim thought this was aiming low, but I don't, given that 1) we didn't meet until an hour before our first match and 2) I don't consider myself an especially skilled mixed doubles player.

You win some, you lose some.

I do wish we hadn't ended our season with two losses. That was tough. Especially because I felt we were starting to play better.

True to the primacy and recency effect, I remember the first and the last matches. Especially the first. In the last few weeks, there were also some memorable moments in the middle: wailing at the missed overhead, cookie halves, jokes about back pain.

During our last pre-match conversation, we talked about Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston. I'm Bobby: modestly skilled and a decent producer. So Jim is Whitney, all emotion and raw talent. "She's dead!" he said. (Don't worry, I don't see you going out like that. It's not a perfect analogy.)

And like Bobby and Whitney, the season was bittersweet — as most are. But I was glad to be your partner. Congratulations on your debut, Whitney! We're expecting great things from you.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

On discord (mixed doubles)

The challenge of playing an opponent twice in one season: Don't let your baggage get too heavy.

Even though Jim is a "What happens on the court stays on the court" player who doesn't hold a grudge, we had lots to talk about after our match.

Oh, the regret after our 7-6, 2-6, 1-6 loss to Patrick and Deb. Oh, the recrimination.

It's tough to be competitive and then get blown out — all in the same match. Whereas in our first meeting (where they dominated 6-2, 6-1), we could at least laugh at our underwhelming performance.

This three-setter felt a lot worse, even though the score was better.

On Monday, Jim described our post-match vibe: "If we were married, then Friday night, we went to bed angry."

But I realized something, too. Tennis will never be more important than friendship. Or fun. Or sportsmanship.

Tomorrow's a new day. And a new match.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tennis 2012: Le Club, Week 7

In yesterday's twist of fate weather-wise, the temperature dropped more than 20 degrees by the time we arrived at Milwaukee Country Club. (Which was good, because I don't do well if it's above 100 degrees — as anyone who played with me on Monday night can attest.) After starting our matches, it rained.

Sigh. Small talk. Waiting.

Finally we got to play.

Despite the stop-start nature of the weather, every match was decided in straight sets. Our team lost, 2-3.

At #1 singles, Jessica lost 6-2, 6-3. What I love most about you is that you're not an excuse-maker. Like in your assessment of your opponent: "She was good." Undefeated, even.

Mary played cardio tennis earlier in the day and then #2 singles indoors at North Shore. Too much exertion in anticipation of a heat advisory? Not for Mary. She won, 6-4, 6-2, because she decided she wouldn't play a third set. Way to dominate at singles. Again!

At #1 doubles, Kim and Kristen gave their opponents a challenging match. Their opponents ultimately took it, 7-5, 6-1. Incidentally, Kristen was the only one of our teammates who wore white. Um, when did this become a rule? Clearly there's some etiquette I am not privy to.

At #3 doubles, Tash and Rebecca played phenomenally. Rebecca ran all over the court — was it the Gatorade? Their opponents hit overheads right at Tash and she just volleyed them back. No problem. Terrific win, Team Tashbecca, and wonderful that the last match ended on a high note.

I wish our match had gone longer. Patrice and I tried really, really hard at #2 doubles. We lost the first set quickly. Our only lead was at 1-0 in the second set. We actually made the rallies longer, trying to lob and outdo them with consistency (until they made a mistake, and then Nooni would put away an overhead). They were up 5-4 but we won the next game. Then they were up 6-5.

At 40-30, they hit a forehand volley winner to win 6-2, 7-5.

After our first set shellacking, we could've just given up, but we didn't. So even though "We can't win them all" is but small consolation, I am really happy with our determination and effort.

And Sandy, thanks for trekking to MCC to cheer all of us on. Your encouragement and analysis were really helpful. Now if only I could get you to be the team blogger....

Sunday, July 15, 2012

To-ga! To-ga!

Luke and Linda chose July, the month of Julius Caesar, to celebrate their 50th birthdays. The theme: the letter L (the Roman numeral 50, get it?).

Linda looked beautiful — and not a day over 29 — in a gauzy white number that will be wearable beyond the Roman party circuit. Sandy and Jeff bought complementary toga costumes — a smart and time-saving move. Some guests converted sheets and curtains into togalicious togs. One idea I may have to try: using a fitted sheet, which gives a nice drape.

I myself did some strategic bunching, pinning, and tucking, realizing that a toga is a two-person job (have you ever tried securing something on your back?).

L&L also set up a make-your-own toga station and a Roman backdrop for photos. They have creative friends who showed up with hats shaped like a Caesar salad and a coliseum. One guy brought a fan with a photo of JLo's ex.

Marc Antony!

It was a great party. There is something about being dressed in a bedsheet that strips away all pretenses. We hung out in the driveway, backyard, and front yard enjoying Caesar salads and Arnold Palmers (or L&Ls: Lipton and lemonade).

The night ended with fireworks. Roman candles, of course!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tennis 2012: Le Club, Week 6 (the team)

Our team hosted Pleasant Valley yesterday, earning a 4-1 win.

Thanks to Jessica and Mary for staying late to give me match details and discuss the merits of not drinking beer. Sorry this is so brief, but Rebekah's jonesing for the recap and I have to get back to my day job.

At #3 doubles, Ann and Nora battled a tenacious team and lost 7-5, 7-6. Matches like that are so exhilarating and heartbreaking. I saw only a little bit of your match, but I know you fought hard.

At #2 doubles, Kim and Glenna finished their match quickly with a 6-1, 6-4 win. So Kim must have felt okay despite the Kopp's cheeseburger and malt an hour before the match. Glenna, I did get a few glimpses of your picture-perfect forehand. Congrats to both of you on your decisive win!

On the #1 court were Patrice and me. You can read about it in a separate superlong post. (Rebekah will tell you that I've included every thought I had during the match. The match took 2 hours and 20 minutes. What can I say, I had a lot of thoughts.)

At #2 singles, Mary told her opponent, "I'm not going to go three sets" and "You don't run an old lady back and forth." Her opponent, who is also a friend, obliged: Mary had a 6-2, 6-1 victory. Nice job on your total domination.

At #1 singles, Jessica won the first set 6-2. She mentioned footwork, "an amazing volley" (only one?!), and an "I'm too old for this" moment. (Were all of those during the same point?) Unfortunately, her opponent retired with a strained calf. A real bummer. But Jessica, I know you would've controlled the match, like you always do.

Okay everybody, thanks for all the support. Kristen, Sandy, and Rebekah, it was so nice to see friendly faces in the crowd. I started this season feeling anxious about how it would go, but I didn't need to worry. This team makes me feel totally at home.

Tennis 2012: Le Club, Week 6 (Team Noonimoto)

At #1 doubles, I recognized one of our opponents from a match last year: Linda was tall, aggressive, and confident — and strong in the warmup. Her partner, Pam, was consistent and had terrific touch volleys.

On Court 7, we fought to take the first set, 6-2. The score did not reflect how competitive they were.

Down 2-4 in the second, Patrice and I tried not to get frustrated. "I was here on Friday, down 2-4," I said. "We can get the next four games." We had accomplished such things in the past.

But they toughed it out, started hitting more winners, and took the set 6-3.

During the break, Nooni and I strategized. In the first set, she had mentioned our maturity as an advantage. Totally! Staying calm and poised would help us. We talked about being resilient between points — something that our pro Jayson had drilled us on. It is hard to play a long point and then refocus for the next one and the one after that.

And I had practiced this when I played singles with Sandy on Sunday. Sandy is one of those players who forces you to play your best, and I needed every advantage I could get. Thank you for preparing me for this match.

Linda and Pam were up 3-2.

Here's where some of the details get fuzzy. I do remember seeing rows of people standing at the windows. I recognized Glenna's patterned tennis skirt when I went to retrieve a ball. But I couldn't look at her. I didn't want to lose focus. And how could she help me telepathically?

I do remember this: We tied, then were up 6-5. Then they won the next game.

Bummer. We couldn't close out the set when we had the chance. But we had to move past that, because we were still in the match.

This was my first tiebreak of the season. And it had been over a month since Nooni and I played together. Good thing we've played so many tiebreaks (and she had played one earlier this season at 8.0 mixed, and won).

Linda and Pam were tough. Changing servers and sides so often, it was hard to get into a rhythm. We were down 5-6. Match point.

Patrice served — and won — the next two points. How's that for poise and resilience between points? 7-6.

Time to switch sides again. I exhaled. I have to remember to breathe during really competitive moments.

Patrice returned serve. I don't remember how we won the point, just that we did.

6-2, 3-6, 7-6. A comeback.

After any given match, you can say, "That could've gone the other way." It's rare to have those nights where you dominate or get killed. Most matches become wars of attrition, where you just try to grind it out and chip away at your opponent. Tonight was one of those nights.

A satisfying win for the maturing Noonimoto.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

On our differences (mixed doubles)

On Friday night, we played the same Bluemound opponents as before. They were playing much better than they did in our last match.

Chan served and volleyed effectively; I couldn't pass him by driving the ball crosscourt. And Juliet served really well: a low, flat serve that was hard to return.

So we lobbed. And Jim volleyed over their heads. We took the first set 6-2.

And maybe got a little too relaxed in the second set. We had already forgotten how competitive they were in the first; even though the set score wasn't close, many games had gone to deuce.

They were up 2-0 in no time.

Not exactly the tennis performance I'd intended for our friends — Lisa, Jane, and Phil came to cheer us on. But hey, at least Jane heard Jim swear only once.

A side note about getting ready for this match: I had tried to take care of myself — ran earlier in the week, played tennis Wednesday, rested Thursday. Jim geared up by switching to light beer. He also played singles, practiced his serve, and baked snickerdoodles.

And yet I did not want to play a third set. Even though we were on the air-conditioned Highlander courts, I felt a little off — maybe from the days of 100-degree heat.

Instead I talked to Jim about how well he was playing.

"Your turn," he said.

Clearly he had recovered from an earlier overhead that he'd hit out, after which he fell to his knees, wailing.

Ah, the drama.

I laughed. "We've all done that." I myself do it regularly (miss overheads, I mean, not laugh at my partner).

After the changeover, I said, "Maybe I shouldn't have laughed." I laughed again. "Or maybe not continued to laugh," he said.

Now we were down 2-4. Full speed ahead for Jim: "We're gonna get this game quickly, then I'm gonna win my serve." He has not quite caught on to my one-point-at-a-time approach.

But even though those things didn't happen quickly, they did indeed happen. If anyone can overpromise and then deliver, it's Jim.

We broke Chan's serve, then I held serve for a 6-2, 6-4 win.

A first for us. It's hard to believe you can have a comeback win — until it actually happens. Until you get it done, point by point.

Cheers to all that is possible!

Monday, July 2, 2012

On staying calm (mixed doubles)

On Friday afternoon, Jim sent me a jubilant email — albeit in a tiny font — that he had practiced his serve the night before and no pressure, but we needed to win the first set.


I'll admit, I was not in a huge we're-the-number-one-court mood that night. Probably because my back had been hurting since my singles match the week before. Ice, stretching, and Advil hadn't helped.

But I felt better when we warmed up. Calm.

Once we started playing, we found that our opponents had some enviable strengths: Scott moved well and had unbelievable angle shots, and Julie was tall, powerful, and difficult to lob over.

We took the first set 6-4. Early in the second set, we labored over one game — multiple deuce points — but lost.

I tried to stay calm.

"Poise," I said to Jim.

As in, let's keep it together and not beat ourselves up over lost points or lost games.

This is much easier said than done. But I try to follow the proverb: Never cut with a knife what you can cut with a spoon.

We hung in there.

We were up 5-3; they were serving. Match point. I turned to look at Jim.

"Don't look at me like that!"

Like what?! I turned away.

We lost the point.

But we won the next one. Match point again. I had a feeling we were going to win — right then.

And we did! Or rather, Jim did. He returned the ball, they hit it back to him, he hit it again, and they made an unforced error. A great point for me to witness.

Feeling really proud of our effort, I got a little choked up. But I snapped out of it when he said, "Now can we high five?"

Yes, Jim. High five. You played great!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tennis 2012: Le Club, Week 5

Our team faced stiff competition at Western, resulting in a 1-4 night.

The win: Kim and Kristen at #3 doubles. Because you were on the farthest court, I didn't get to see most of your match. But I was standing right there when Kristen put away the overhead on match point. 6-4, 6-1. Well done! Post match, Kristen stretched while Kim applied Stila lip gloss. Kristen, nice poise as always. And Kim, way to look pretty and kick ass.

Playing indoors, Sandy lost the first set 6-3 and did not feel well, retiring at 1-1 in the second. She had been up 3-0 in the first set — clearly a competitive match. Sandy, we are all rooting for you personally (as well as on the court). So rest up and take good care of yourself.

At #1 doubles, Tash and Rebecca's opponents were tough — especially the lady in yellow — and took the first set 6-2. But Team Tashbecca (Team Retasha?) fought back, losing the second set 7-5. I thought they played admirably and didn't quite understand why Tash was beating herself up over the loss.

I had gone to my car and then over to Court 3, so I missed what happened in the second set. Then I saw Nora's writing in my notebook: "2nd up!! 4-3." So now I get it. Down 5-6 and losing the match on a deuce point, I totally get it: That second set was within reach.

By the way, that is not a judgment. I'm just saying, I know how losing a close one can torment you in a different way than being overmatched.

At #2 doubles, Mary and Rebekah showed their tenacity: In the first set, down 0-3, they won the next two games. In the second set, down 1-4, they also won the next two games. I admire this so much — the spirit behind the scores. 6-2, 6-3 only tells part of the story; you two gave it your all. No one could ever ask for more.

We all wondered what was happening with Jessica, who doesn't like having an audience and was toiling away indoors. When she came off the court, she was frustrated with her 6-1, 6-3 loss. But I will say this: You had to have given your opponent a decent match because it took almost two hours. I know you don't roll over for anyone.

Overall, I had a fantastic time. Really! There I was, watching the team play on a sunny, 80-degree night. Western has great viewing. And I got a chance to hang out with Nora. So even though it was a tough night for the team, I feel grateful to have been there.

So I raise my glass of overpriced chardonnay to you. Cheers!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

On timeouts (mixed doubles)

Yesterday Team Fontimoto played the Kenosha team at Le Club.

Jack, one of our opponents, wanted a shorter warmup because he wasn't feeling well. He did not look well, either, which was disconcerting.

Jim and I had played ping pong and hit some ground strokes, so we didn't mind the abbreviated warmup.

Once we started the match, Jack looked like he was going to pass out; he sat down during every change-over. Jim was willing to let him take as long as he needed.

If only there were a rule on such things.

If only we had known it. I mistakenly thought a player was allowed 10 minutes.

According to the USTA, it's three minutes. You can take one during the warmup and one during the match.

But who keeps a stopwatch with them during a match?

To Jack's credit, he did not seem to take three minutes on a regular basis. Nor did his illness did not stop him from wailing on the ball.

I suggested Jim move back when I served to Jack. Team Jim found this emasculating. "I'm willing to get hit," he said. Still, his ability to compromise trumped his pride, and he humored me. Just so you know, asking him to move back was a reflection of my girly serve, not his skills.

I got frustrated only once (and no, it wasn't when he said I should eat a whole cookie instead of just a half right before the match). But it's okay, because we're getting to a point where he ignores me only occasionally during a match and things usually work out just fine.

We got aced and we got passed, but we stayed in it. We won 6-1, 6-3.

Now we're back to .500.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tennis 2012: Le Club, Week 4

Yesterday our team took four courts against Mequon! Let me preface this by saying that all of this recap (except the scores) is hearsay; I didn't get to see any of the matches.

At #1 singles, Jessica won 6-3, 6-0. As someone who's been lulled by the moonball rally only to watch her slam a down-the-line shot past me, I know that she controlled the match — probably the entire time.

At #1 doubles, Kim and Kristen also had a resounding win, 6-1, 6-3. Really nice job. You're a terrific team and I wish I had gotten to see you play. You seem to finish your matches quickly; if you dragged them out, I could at least see you. (Joking.)

At #2 doubles, Tash and Rebecca stayed tenacious to take a three setter, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. Unfortunately the only thing I heard about this match was that Tash took a bathroom break. Good to know that we're allowed 90 seconds. As a side note, it is nice to be on the same team again as Rebecca. You're still the same funny, bubbly person that I remember from high school.

At #3, Mary and Rebekah fought hard but lost, 6-1, 7-5. Having played them, this is surprising (Rebekah's pace, Mary's angles). Rebekah, help me out with some details here. This is possibly my worst recap ever, as it is almost entirely speculation.

One court left. Me at #2 singles.

SPOILER ALERT: The rest of this post is all about me.

Starting with my mood: I was so nervous that I could barely eat lunch. But I went to Jose's anyway, figuring it was time to get back to my match-day routine of Mexican food. My co-worker Mike said I'd be fine once I started playing. He's a musician, and he said, "You just have to get through the first song." And my co-worker Jane, who's a marathon runner, reminded me to visualize my match.

Just before the match, I got more pep talks. Carol told me to keep my poker face, Sandy encouraged me to enjoy the match, Trish said I was scrappy. All good things — confidence boosters.

Once the match started, I was happy with the relative isolation of Court 10, far from the viewing area and away from the rest of the team. Not knowing how any of my teammates were doing, I could focus.

My opponent was a hard hitter and really strong in the warmup. I had trouble keeping the rally going. But once we started the match, I felt really good. I got through the first song.

I took the first set, 6-2.

Then she started making fewer errors and hitting more winners, and I lost the second set, 6-2. I was still going for it, but she was out-playing me.

I went to splash cold water on my face ("Tomato face," Mary said).

But Mary and Glenna coached me. Here's what I can remember:

"What's her strongest shot?"
"Forehand down the line."
"What's her weakest shot?"
"I don't know!"
"Moonball her. Slow it down." And, "Backhand, backhand, backhand."

Possibly my favorite piece of advice: "You're not tired." Uh, I was really tired. But I felt good getting back on the court. I was not going to implode while they watched.

(It's just a thing, but I've always wondered if whoever takes the second set is the favored player; momentum is on their side.)

Somehow I stayed with it. I was up 4-1, then 5-2. Then I won the next game.

The most amazing thing happened during the match. Sure, winning was great. But so was feeling like myself on the court again. I think I got a little lost at the beginning of the season, but now I'm back.

So, my dear teammates, if I seem self-involved in this blog post, cut me a little slack. I'll get back to doubles (Team Noonimoto!) and then I'll also have plenty of time to witness your successes. Thanks for all of your support. This was one of the highlights of my tennis experience.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

On losing (mixed doubles)

Last night, Team Fontimoto suffered a loss: a 6-2, 6-1 drubbing against a team we should have at least been competitive with.

Though Jim and I only met at our first match, we played well in our three-set loss against a really experienced Le Club team. And even though we were nervous in our second match, we won decisively. So there was reason to be hopeful (or in Jim's case, insanely confident).

At last night's match at Hart Park, we couldn't blame the sun, the heat, or the wind. I was well hydrated. And Jim had done his burrito-and-pills ritual.

Our opponents had good sportsmanship; there was nothing crazy about them that got in our heads. But between Patrick's arsenal of shots and Deb's consistency, we made lots and lots of mistakes.

We agreed that we sucked. Which is too bad, because we don't suck individually or as a team.

Over on court 2, Gina and Barry lost a nailbiter. Like us, they lost the first set, 6-2. But then they came back to take the second set, and they lost the third set in a tiebreaker. Very, very competitive, and everyone on the court played well. Even brilliantly, at times.

Post-match, Gina identified my problem. (Or at least one of them.) Apparently I've gotten used to winning. Probably because the past year was really charmed: Patrice and I had a great 3.5 (and 4.0) season, and I partnered well with Kim and Kristen at combo.

Here we are, in a new season. New opponents, new partnerships. And more losses than I am comfortable with.

More losses than Jim is comfortable with, too. At the end of the night, we apologized to each other. I hope we never have to apologize again. Onward, as I've said before.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tennis 2012: Le Club, Week 3

After Rebekah's request for a recap, I decided to blog about our team's matches. (Rebekah, I appreciate your enthusiasm, considering that you already know the results.) So here's my lightly editorialized summary of our meeting with the Badger team:

At #1 singles, Jessica lost a tough match, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3. Someone mentioned that your opponent used to be a 4.5. Tough, I'm just saying. You are terrific in those marathon matches (as we all saw last week at Highlander).

Sandy got her first 4.0 win in decisive fashion: 6-0, 6-1. Though you did try to trick us by reversing the color of the scorecards, the entire team was excited once we caught on. We are really proud of you!

At #1 doubles, Tash and Kristen won, 6-4, 7-6. Nice win against a solid team! I was too nervous to watch the tiebreak — not because I doubted you but because I have just been extremely high strung lately. (It could be something about Court 7.)

At #2 doubles, Mary and Rebekah cruised to a 6-1, 6-3 victory. It's good to see the two of you playing together. Mary, I love your all-business style of play. And Rebekah, I'm glad the "little surgery" you gave yourself helped your thumb.

On the third court, our opponents took it 7-6, 1-6, 7-6, but Ann and Nora were so tenacious! This is only my second year being teammates with you, but I've already seen so many triumphant tiebreakers. (One of the greatest was Jane and Nora at State combo playoffs, down 9-8 and coming back to win. I just love that!)

We celebrated our 3-2 team victory with really, really good sandwiches and, of course, booze.

If you want a reminder of Weeks 1 and 2, we went 0-5 against Oconomowoc High School and 4-1 against Highlander. I'll spare you the recaps because, well, that would be so two weeks ago. Instead, I'll look forward to more good times as the team historian.

Cheers, teammates!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

On my nerves (mixed doubles)

After an 0-2 start to the state league season, I was nervous about my mixed doubles match. Jim's "We need to win this week" email was a nice change from his previous "I'm doing this for fun" approach — but I wondered whether I could keep up with his winning attitude. After playing sluggishly at our last practice, I knew I needed to bring my A-game effort, if not my A-game.

Arriving with plenty of time to warm up, I did not feel panicked. Le Club has a ping pong table, so I relaxed and got my hand-eye coordination going. On the warmup court, I noticed that one of my racquets played better than the other. Good to know.

Then it was time to take the court for our match. Off we went to Court 7, where Team Noonimoto lost a tough match on Tuesday.

I opened my tennis bag and immediately forgot which racquet I preferred in the warmup. I'm going to need to work on this, because I have two of the same racquet but bought them four years apart. The old one played better for a while but after getting it restrung for Nationals I'm not sure anymore.

You can see how this could make a person crazy, the forgetting something so basic.

When I told Jim I was feeling nervous, he said, "You won't remember this tomorrow." The prospect of a blackout was reassuring. (Though, when I later asked what he meant, he couldn't explain: "I was nervous too.")

Our opponents were my dentist, who is also a marathon runner, and his partner, an aggressive volleyer. Jim and I disagreed on which of them was playing better. Not the best start.

I double-faulted a couple of times and had to resort to dinking my serve in. Jim played great despite his own nerves. I tried to high-five him once but he blocked me with his racquet: "We don't do that." (I am not a high-fiving, fist-pumping kind of player but I'm working on it. Once or twice per match, okay?)

Somehow we took the first set.

I was still nervous.

More cryptic advice: "It's working." This reminded me of combo playoffs in February, when Kristen said I couldn't be that nervous if I was able to hold serve. Sidebar: It would make sense that I'd be nervous in a playoff match, right? But why in mixed doubles, especially when I managed my nerves in the first match? So many questions.

The good news: Team Fontimoto got our first win (6-2, 6-1) despite my intense anxiety and not-so-intense play. Onward.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Strain for the Brain

The cloudy weather couldn't dampen our spirits at the Strain for the Brain Run/Walk.

Battiola's Brain Busters was 88 people strong, with lots of Dan and Mary's family and friends. Mary sent out plenty of encouraging pre-event emails that got us pumped.

Our tennis group hasn't celebrated any milestone birthdays yet this year, so aside from the good cause (raising money for brain tumor research), it was also a nice chance for the gang to all be together again.

When I Googled "walk a 5k," I found a nine-week training program. Unfortunately I did not train for nine weeks. Good thing Patrice reassured me that it would pretty much be strolling and then going to lunch.

Pre-race, I hung out with Michelle, who signed up last minute as part of our team — thanks, Michelle! We chatted and listened to the national anthem. (Sidebar: We've heard many renditions of the national anthem in our Bucks games together. This was a really great version.)

The runners got to go first, so we cheered on Doug and Beth. I didn't see my friend Dave, who finished the run in 26-something minutes. Very impressive!

Then it was time to walk. Michelle went to walk with her friend Mary (not to be confused with Mary C. or Mary A.).

The first half hour was great. Then the 3.1 miles started to feel a bit long. My shins were getting splinty but luckily Mary A., Katie, Billy, and I chatted our way through the path at Veteran's Park. The water stops and high fives from the event volunteers added to the team spirit, as did Dan and Mary doubling back to walk us in.

After a few photos, it was time for more lifting of the spirits at O' Donaghue's. Over sandwiches, reuben rolls, and mozzarella sticks, Team Triple B mixed and mingled. Jess told us about some of his new tennis friends in Michigan. Doug held forth on the subject of buffalo wings. I even had a chance to meet John, Dan's college roommate in 1978. We talked about how Dan always makes everyone feel welcome and happy.

So Dan, cheers to you. Thanks for getting us all together and sharing your awesome company at the after-party. We'd all do 3.1 miles for you again. Anytime.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bride Rush: A simplified checklist

In November, Bride Rush published my article, A Simplified Checklist, about how to plan a quick wedding.

(And no, I was not planning a quick wedding. I first worked with Anita Malik, the Bride Rush founder, when she was the publisher of East West magazine.)

I had fun interviewing wedding planners Nancy Liu Chin (who's a sorority sister from Cal!), Darlene Wilson, and Lisa Stoner. They have such a wealth of knowledge and experience, the article practically wrote itself.

Lisa also blogged about the article in her post, Wedding Planning — It's All About Heart.

Nanu, Darlene, and Lisa, thanks for all of the great tips!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Celebrating Papa's 12th birthday

We took Papa to the vet on Saturday. He gave her an antibiotic but thought her troubles were more a case of anxiety.


In honor of her birthday, my parents bought a seat cover for the car. Pops likes gifts she can eat, but she also has a great time shredding wrapping paper. They stopped her when she punctured the box.

She's doing much better now, so I let her play with her birthday gift: a rubber barbell filled with treats. (Instead of new chewy treats, I stuck with biscuits that don't upset her stomach.)

What a toy!

She dropped it and picked it up, ran around with it, and tried to chew the ends. Sometimes she looked dejected, pushing it away.

She could not open it. And this morning, the treats caught in the middle of the tube were still there.

Game on, Pops!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Happy 12th birthday, Papaya!

Today is Papaya's birthday. She doesn't seem like she's 84 yet, but she hasn't been feeling well lately.

This is the third day of her stomach issues ("gastrointestinal urgency," my dad calls it). Poor girl.

We've started mixing her food with canned pumpkin. The new toy filled with chewy treats will have to wait until she's feeling better. The good news is, her appetite hasn't suffered at all — always a reassuring sign.

Maybe this wasn't the birthday she'd hoped for, but I gave her some extra snuggles. And a trip to the vet tomorrow will give us some answers. Happy birthday, Pops!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Goodbye, Indian Wells

Goodbye, mountains and palm trees. I'll miss the view.

Goodbye, happy hours with pasta and wedge salads. Thank you to the people at the table next to us who recommended the ribs.

Goodbye, Mercedes guy at the gas station. Your personality made you "devilishly handsome" (Chris' words).

Goodbye, Charles from Phoenix. Congrats on your win at Nationals!

Goodbye, Victoria and Maria. Seeing the #1 and #2 players battle it out was inspiring (and humbling).

Goodbye, John and Roger. It was so cool to see Isner (appearing in his first final) play one of the world's greatest. Even R. Kelly was singing it.

Goodbye, streamers — or "spaghetti" as Roger calls them. I'll miss the brilliant colors on center court.

Goodbye, friendly volunteers. How I loved those golf cart rides to the gate.

Goodbye, teammates. Even though I'll see you back at home, this was the last time we'd play together.

Thanks, everyone, for the memories. Even though I don't like saying goodbye, I'm so glad I got to have this experience. Let's do it again soon!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dinner at Nationals

At the player dinner, I ran into the husband of a woman on the Mid-Atlantic team. Our teams had been in the same flight, and he was so nice that I mistakenly thought he was part of our group.

While talking in the buffet line, he told me who was advancing to the finals.

The Northern team.

The Northern team! Not the Missouri team we played yesterday, who beat us 3-0.

Since the draw wasn't posted, I had no way of knowing how close it was. But Pam and Debbie, your showing in the tiebreak had to have been a spoiler. Way to take a set!

Let's just say the universe made sure things turned out the way they were supposed to.

And by the way, extra kudos to Yvonne and Gina for their victory against the team that won our flight. Cheers, everyone!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Friends and family (or Nationals, Day 2)

Today was overcast but we managed to get our matches in before the rain.

Captain Char said that if the Missouri team swept us, they'd be in the running to win the flight (and advance to the finals).

Even though the late-morning weather was mild and the winds almost non-existent, Team Noonimoto had a tough time with the St. Louis ladies.

They came out strong.

They were tough.

I thought about what Barry said yesterday, about how it would be great if you could make all your mistakes in one game. Unfortunately I felt like I found new and unusual ways to make mistakes (short lobs, tentative backhands). Our opponents were very adept with getting in and volleying winners, as well as with keeping shots in play from the baseline.

We lost 6-3, 6-2.

But it was comforting to know our friends and family were there. Tim, Charlotte, Yvonne, and Gina, you've been unwavering in your support. After a match, consolation means just as much as congratulations. Thank you for staying!

And Yukie and Joel, it was so nice to see both of you. (Joel came from San Diego, braving fog, high winds, and mountainous driving with a new transmission and gently used battery.) Your company and the shrimp tacos at Don Diego's helped mitigate the pain of losing.

Regarding the results, our 4.5 team lost. Our 4.0 team lost in a super tiebreak, 10-8. Tune in to see what happened next.

Friday, March 16, 2012

3.5 at Nationals

Okay so I did not play on a court with bleacher seating. But our friends and family set up chairs next to us, right outside the fence. It's really amazing, after a point is over, to be able to see Chris give me a thumbs up or hear Tim's distinctive "Noonimoto!" coming from the corner.

Our match was against the Mid-Atlantic team (from Virginia). The warmup was great — maybe because we got six balls to play with.

Once we got started with competitive play, though, the pace of the game felt really slow. We weren't having great rallies but tried to keep strategizing. I was nervous, as were our opponents. They broke my serve at the beginning of the second set and were playing more aggressively, capitalizing on some of our too-short lobs.

Still, we could hear our teammates Yvonne and Gina cheering us on. Before the match, Gina said, "Stay calm." That was the best advice anyone could give. (Does panicking ever help?) I could also hear Yvonne saying "Good try" after I missed a shot. So supportive.

Patrice and I won, 6-4, 6-2.

She almost cried; I did not cry.

She could not believe I did not cry. ("I think you're in shock.") We did spend lots of time hugging and taking pictures.

Then we went back to the hotel to get ready for the next match. Even though we weren't scheduled to play, we suited up in case they'd need us as last-minute subs.

Speaking of subs, my victory lunch was a huge meatball sandwich from Togo's. Oh, it took me back to my college days, when their meatball sub was the best hangover cure ever.

By the way, we've managed to avoid the stomach virus that has caused some of the pros to drop out of the tournament. Thanks, Rick, for the good advice — "Don't drink the water" — and for offering to be our team physician. Actually I could've used some help with the heat rash I've developed. If only you or Shappy were here. (During a heat wave last summer, I got a rash and tried to have them diagnose it at the Silver Spur. Doesn't that sound like the setup for a joke? "A gastroenterologist and an urgent care doctor walk into a bar....")

Anyway, Patrice and I went back to the courts to watch our teammates take on the Northern team (from Minnesota... um, how exactly do these sections work?).

Yvonne and Gina had to wait for a court even though they were scheduled for noon. They volleyed. They lobbed. They stayed calm. And won it 6-4, 6-1, against a really strong team!

Confession: I did get a little choked up when I realized they were going to win it — practicing together these last few days, seeing them play so well, and then witnessing their success — I was so glad to be there!

Rafa at the BNP tournament

It's 5:40 a.m., way too early to be up. But Patrice and I are playing at 7:30.

Last night we saw Lopez and Nadal upset Fyrstenberg and Matkowski. We sat in one of the nosebleed sections and I held on to my seat. I'd forgotten about the weird vertigo-like sensation I get in the upper section, where it feels like I'm pitched forward. Once I calmed down, I could enjoy watching Team Spain dominate the match.

After some shopping on the grounds with Patrice and Debbie, I watched Simon and Isner on the jumbotron, listening to Dave Matthews and Journey on level ground.

I'm glad to playing on a court with bleacher seating! I'll check in after the match.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Almost Nationals

The last two days started with breakfast outside: omelets made to order, pancakes, fruit, pastries. A nice perk (minus the aggressive birds who will eat right off your plate).

The hotel feels very Melrose Place, with the rooms overlooking the pool. And Patrice and Tim are only three doors down, which makes this place even more homey.

The courts are usually empty at mid-day (and fill up early in the morning), so we hit with our teammates Yvonne and Gina at 11. It was reassuring to shake off our initial sluggishness. I am also experimenting with V-8 juice as a pick-me-up. Hmm.

My dilemma du jour: Sunglasses or not? The frames mess with my peripheral vision on my backhand. But it's also hard to serve into the sun. I'll let you know how it goes.

Three straight days of sunshine, pool time, and tennis — love it! Tonight we're off to see the pros play at the BNP.

Thank you for all of the good wishes and good advice. Kelsey, I love your Rob Schneider-like "You can do it!" Jen, you were right about the self-tanner. And Tom, enjoy your break from Noonan and me this week.

I wish you all could be here. But I'll check in tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hello from Nationals

We're finally on our Nationals trip!

After getting up at 4:30 a.m., we were barely awake for our connecting flight in Chicago.

When we finally touched down in Palm Springs, the first thing I noticed about the airport was the brightness in the Sonny Bono Concourse. The second thing was the town's penchant for naming streets after celebrities (Gene Autry, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra).

We checked into the hotel and then grabbed lunch. Even though I was ready for a nap, Patrice and I decided to go hit at the hotel's courts.

We gave up after an hour. The ball was slow and so were we.

But it was still a luxury to play tennis, sit at the pool, and eat dinner outside. A good Tuesday.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Combo state playoffs

Our Le Club combo team competed at state playoffs this weekend. In the craziness, I didn't get any photos. (This one's from when we won our flight playoff at Highlander.)

Even though we're not advancing, there were many highlights this weekend:

• Patrice forgot her tennis skirt, then bought a black and green outfit without trying it on. I unknowingly bought the same outfit in red. We will look like Christmas if we ever wear them at the same time.

• Rocki's phone call to Ann, joking that she couldn't make it to her match on time.

• Kristen's reassurance during our first match: "You can't be that nervous. You held serve." Thanks, Kristen!

• Jane and Nora being down 9-8 in the super tiebreak (one point from losing the match). But then they won the next three points. Mental toughness!

• Lunch at Panera with Patrice, Kristen, Carol, Jill, and Cam.

• That Cam rolled bread into little balls and Jill sliced the brownie into tiny pieces so she could share with all of us.

• Kim's text: "I deserve to be there so play well." Followed by, "Ok — that message was supposed to read 'you' deserve to be there. How 'I' came up is weird but it is right next to the 'u'... I hate this phone. Good luck to all of 'u.'"

• Carol's one-handed backhand volley. Wish I could do that!

• Nora inviting us for a post-match glass of wine. Nora is always offering wine (and pizza).

• Saturday's victory dinner with Patrice and Tim at Mama Mia's.

• Trish and Patrice won all their matches. The entire season!

• Ann hugging us at the end of our matches. And one last time. "It was a good run," she said.

Cheers to my combo friends! I enjoyed all of the practices, pizzas, and playoff matches. I hope we can do it all again soon.