Archive for August, 2016

The Zen of Pickleball

August 19, 2016

The word “Zen” comes from a form of Buddhism that emphasizes mediation, self-contemplation and intuition. In a general sense, as applied to subjects like cooking or golf, it means highlighting simplicity and intuition over conventional thinking or fixation on goals. How does this relate to pickleball?

I starting playing pickleball last summer. It’s the only sport or exercise I actually enjoy and look forward to. The Pinewood Country Club’s resurfaced pickleball courts are a pleasure to play on, much easier on the knees and feet than a concrete court.

The investment to play is modest, a racket that looks like a ping pong paddle on steroids ($30-90) and whiffle balls ($10 for six.) I definitely suggest a graphite racket over a wooden racket. The latter is much heavier and hard on my wrists. The type of ball depends on whether it’s an indoor or outdoor court and the court surface. Now we’re using neon yellow-green indoor outdoor balls that seem to give the best bounce on the court. The attire on our courts include leggings, jeans or basketball shorts and golf skirts. In other words, regular clothes. More information is available from the USA Pickleball Association. (

The group that plays at the Pinewood Country Club courts are fun and friendly. People who have never played before are always welcome, though you do need to be a country club member or guest of a member. We are sometimes a raucous group, which adds to the fun.

Pickleball is played on a court one quarter the size of a tennis court. We play doubles, so there are four people on a court at a time. The game is a mix of tennis and ping pong. There are rules, but they’re not hard to master. We switch partners after every game and try to pair a good player with a beginning one to make it fairer.

Although I am not a competitive person, some of the pickleballers are. They are sweet enough to enjoy playing with me even if I miss shots. (I don’t run on the court as I fall about once a month in my regular life. I don’t need to add more incidents.)

What does pickleball do for me? It gives me an hour of thinking of nothing but the game. I get into a meditative state in that the cares and worries of my regular life fade away. I focus on the ball and hitting it, but not on the winning or losing. It’s a time to complement others on good shots, serves and saves. I do laugh when I get a tough shot back over the net, surprising everyone, including me.

I’ve gotten better, graduating from an “Oh my, are you kidding? beginner” to a regular beginner. Sometimes my team even wins. I have an extra racket for friends who visit, who usually love the game. We play every morning at 7:30, whoever shows up. When the days get cooler, we’ll start at 8:30. Hope you’ll join us.


Single Grand Parenting Can Be Exhausting

August 8, 2016


I have three granddaughters and one on the way. They are the joys of my life. Abby, who is nine, came up for a week in the middle of July. We had such fun going to the movies, crafting, reading, and swimming.

I had both Abby and her sister Savy, age five, come up for four days during the first week of August. Two is so much more than one! They are quite well-behaved. I also had an extra dog, Lilah, whom I was dog sitting. The first day we got up to Munds Park in time to go swimming. Savy insisted on applying her own sunscreen.

Savy and sun block

Since they are both excellent swimmers, it was an easy task to keep an eye on them. I didn’t even have to wear a bathing suit. Good thing, because I put all my suits in one place at the end of last summer and I have no idea where that place is.

Their food choices and mine overlap just a little. I made cheese crisps for dinner with celery and strawberries and cherries on the side.

My dogs usually wake up about 5 or 5:30 in the morning. Lilah had spent the night with Abby and Sparky and Louie were with me and Savy in the queen-sized bed. Alas the dogs did not sleep any later than usual. Abby is allowed to stay behind, but Savy had to accompany me on the morning walks. Abby got up too, concerned about missing out on some fun. The girls were thrilled to meet a ginger cat on our walk. The cat was not afraid of them or the dogs. We played with the cat for a while and then continued on our way.

Tuesday mornings are when my writing group meets. Vie Armour was hosting, and she had a room set up for grandchildren, so the girls were content to watch movies and do puzzles.

They were able to get in a short swim before the siren went off. Savy was super freaked out! I comforted her and she calmed down. We all took showers and then it was off to Joann Anderson’s to make peanut butter and chocolate fudge.


Making fudge with joannThey enjoyed the afternoon, especially petting her three cats. Unfortunately, we forgot to take the fudge down to the valley so I am stuck eating it all.

After making fudge, we headed to Flagstaff to shop. Our first stop was Old Navy where I used coupons and discounts to buy them quite a few outfits. They chose matching dresses, too.


It was raining very hard but we managed to go to their favorite store: The Dollar Store. We spent quite a bit of time there and I spent sixty dollars! Ten of that was my stuff. They were thrilled with the scarfs, headbands, pens, flashlights, Chinese lanterns, cups to put in the freezer to cool drinks, and much more. That night they tried on the ladybug headband, broke out their light sticks and bubbles, and Savy fooled around with her flashlight.

The next morning. I took time to drink my tea and read the newspapers. Mr. Hotstuff joined me on my porch. The girls amused themselves. Abby made flowers on the top of pens using brightly colored duct tape we’d bought the day before at the Dollar Store. Savy colored in a giant portrait of Tatiana, one of the Disney princesses. Abby made a frame from duct tape and put it up on the guest room wall.

We drove down to Cliff Castle Casino and bowled. From 9:30-11:30 on weekday mornings it’s only $1.50 a game and $1.00 for shoe rentals. We played three games. Abby won one game and Mr. Hotstuff won two. We splurged on lunch and milkshakes at Johnny Rockets and then stopped by a farm to get corn.

I managed to trip on my way into the house. I was bleeding on my arm, hand and maybe my knees. I elected to jump in the shower and wash off the dirt and pebbles. Mr. Hotstuff was kind enough to stick around to see if I was hurt enough to go to an Urgent Care Center. I wasn’t.

The rest of the afternoon Abby, Savy, and I vegged out. We’d been going full speed for several days and it was time to rest. We did go to Patio in the Pines for dinner and watched the rain.

On Thursday morning we packed and picked up the cabin. I was hosting my book club at ten. I loaded my car with all of our gear and delivered Abby and Savy to Joan Roff’s house. They love her and enjoy spending time there. I rushed back to set up for the meeting.

After we finished discussing The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende, I straightened up. A neighbor from the valley was staying at my cabin for the weekend while I went back to Scottsdale. I corralled the three dogs into the car before picking up the girls from Joan’s.

As we started down the mountain, disaster struck. One of the DVD players died so they had to share one. Abby and Savy had been on vacation with their parents for the ten days before I picked them up. So now it was two weeks of being with each other 24/7. There was bickering, crying, horseplay, and laughing all the way home. Of course we had to stop at McDonald’s for lunch and a bathroom break and for gas. I’ll admit I was relieved when the movie we were going to see wasn’t playing at a convenient time. I met my son Nick at Desert Ridge to deliver the girls.

It was a wonderful four days but I was mentally and physically exhausted even though Abby and Savy are very well behaved and able to amuse themselves for long periods of time. If I was married, there would have been another grandparent to share the joy and lavish attention on both girls at one time. But then again, I’m not sure I want to share my granddaughters full time. There’s such a short period in their lives when they’re thrilled to be with Granny Annie. Bu I do hope to have each one up for a week next summer, separately, and a few days of them together.