Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Pickleball!

pickleball paddle
A couple of years ago I read an article in the local newspaper about pickleball. Touted as the fastest growing sport in America, it looked like it would be fun to play. I have to admit that I was a little turned off when they mentioned that it was a good sport for older people. And then I realized I am an older person, whether I feel that way or not. Pickleball was invented back in 1965 by some men in Bainbridge Island, Washington. One of the men had a badminton court in his backyard, but they couldn't find the rackets to play. Instead they used ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball. The game has elements of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton. You play on a court with a lower net, using an over-sized ping-pong paddle and a whiffle ball. There is some dispute as to whether the game was named after the family dog, Pickles, or whether it was a reference to Pickle Boat, which has a mixed crew. Here is a fun piece that NBC News did on pickleball.

I didn't give the game too much thought until one of our friends began to play it a lot. Earlier this year, my local recreation center offered a pickleball clinic, so I decided to check it out. One of the USPA Pickeball Ambassadors was there to conduct the clinic. Who knew, right? I have to say, I enjoyed learning how to play the game. There are many, many locations throughout St. Louis where you can play pickleball. Our center began offering play on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, which don't work out for me because of my small group weight training. I was delighted when they added Wednesday mornings, as that fits nicely with my schedule. The locations provide all the equipment, so you really don't have to invest in anything until you see if you like it. Most people eventually purchase their own paddles since the ones provided are always wood and not recommended for serious play.

I have now played in Affton and Shrewsbury as well as in Webster Groves, and most of the people are quite nice and not overly competitive. A few of the guys will try to make you eat the ball, but that is the exception rather than the rule. My experience has been that during the day I bring the average age of the room down, but at night I am definitely one of the older people on the court. Depending on how many people show up at any given time to play, you can get a great workout in. I know that I perspire more playing pickleball than I do working out in the gym. I am so happy to have an additional activity to add to my workout schedule so that I don't get bored.

Play ball - pickleball, that is!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Spring Beauties

In honor of tax day, I began my morning by spending two hours at the Missouri Botanical Garden. It is truly my happy place, and I haven't been able to get there for a couple of weeks. In the spring I like to go at least once a week as things are changing so quickly there. My friend and I tried to go last Friday, with the intention of eating lunch outside on their terrace followed by a walk in the garden. We could not even find a parking space, so we went somewhere else instead.

But the garden opens early on Wednesdays, so I was there at 8:20 and it was glorious! I was able to stroll at a leisurely pace and take as much time as I wanted with my photos. After 9:30 it was much more crowded, particularly with school groups, so I was out of there by 10:15. As a fellow photographer commented, "With all the school groups, it is time to get the hell out of here and get a drink!" Amen, Mr. Shutterbug, amen.






Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Clean Up Crew

tree crew
We were fortunate to be able to find a tree service who could come on Saturday and remove the fallen oak. It was an added bonus that he was a couple hundred dollars less expensive than the next higher bid. He came recommended by a neighbor, and his company is insured so we felt comfortable accepting the bid. Our neighbor was having concrete poured for his new walkway and steps on Monday, so it was imperative that the tree be removed before then.

the aftermath
The tree crew made short work of getting the limbs off the car so that it could be moved out of the way. Unfortunately the large limb somewhat crushed the roof of the car. I am not sure it will be feasible for it to be repaired. Speaking from experience, if the insurance company decides to total the car, no one wins. I hope they can fix it. You can see from the top picture that the excitement in the neighborhood drew quite a crowd. I'm sure these guys aren't used to having so many people watch them work. They finished up by mid-afternoon, and nothing was left but all the gouges in the grass.

Mirassou Moscato
It was nice for us, too, that the work was done on Saturday. We had nine people over Sunday afternoon for Easter dinner. It was such a beautiful day that we were able to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine. I mixed up a batch of Moscato Limeade Punch from a recipe that I found on Real Housemoms. It is really good, but I felt like it was a little heavy on the limeade flavor. So I added an additional half bottle of moscato to the pitcher. It went from good to great! In my estimation, Mirassou makes the best moscato, so I always have a couple of bottles in the wine rack. This was a tasty punch recipe that I will be making again.

My niece brought a layered taco dip appetizer, and my nephew brought deer sausage and cheese. I balanced that with a veggie tray. I prepared a ham, scalloped potatoes and rolls, and my sister brought baked beans and deviled eggs. She also made an adorable cake for dessert. I am not a personal fan of peeps, but the cake was really good underneath all the peeping. It was a Hoppy Easter, for sure.

Easter Cake