What a week!

I hit the halfway point of my writing challenge at the start of the week.

Actually, not much happened out of the ordinary. But compared to most of my weeks during the past year and a half COVID days, a lot did happen.

Here’s a quick rundown:

I hit my goals for NaNoWriMo this week.

I managed to fit in posting blogs and reading other bloggers worked around my novel writing.

I played lots of ping pong and I sense some improvement.

I went to the Podiatrist and found an In-N-Out only 30 minutes from our house.

I had my first meeting as the official newsletter editor for our HOA. I met three new people who will be working with me to get the newsletter written and produced.

I took Olive the cat to the vet for shots. I had to find a new vet, since she hasn’t been to one in Arizona. I am not a person who regularly takes the cat to the vet. First of all, Olive hates it. She cries incessantly in the car and then she shudders and shakes. She doesn’t need to go to the vet if she’s not sick. But I called the place we boarded her in August to make a reservation for a trip planned in December. They told me one of her shots had expired. We both survived the trip to the vet, barely.

I talked to several of my old friends on long phone conversations after reading the article I posted on the importance of friendships. You can read that HERE if you missed it.

I went to my first NFL game in person.

Today I’m headed to our farmer’s market to get treats for Thanksgiving-week guests and my dad.

cat on a patch of grass in the house
Olive cat on her patch of grass next to pots of cat grass.

Happy Friday!

Have you noticed your weeks getting busier? Is it because we’re leaving COVID behind us? What makes your weeks busier? Or did I just have a one-off week?

The great ping pong war

ping pong balls above a keyboard
I found my missing ping pong balls in my husband’s office.

The friendly games of ping pong between me and my husband took a highly competitive turn with a sprinkle of shady dealings with ping pong balls yesterday.

I like the brand of balls named Kettler that came in the box with our ping pong table. They don’t have a lot of bounce. They are soft to the touch and I have a better feel with my paddle. I’ve mastered a serve that I discovered on the Youtube video on killer serves. It’s a tricky little serve that barely makes it over the net and bounces a bunch of times away from the opponent. It only works with the Kettler balls for me.

My husband likes ping pong balls from a brand called Stiga. They have a lot of bounce and I can’t control my shots as well. My return flies off the table without bouncing when my husband has a fast, strong serve. I lose a ton of points that way. In fact, I think I only lose because of the Stiga balls.

“That’s fine if you want to win that way,” I told my husband.

“What??”

“That you feel you have to play balls you know I have a difficulty with. If winning is that important to you.”

He switched to my Kettler balls on the next game and I skunked him 7 – 0.

When we finished the match, I had a plan in my mind. I raced to my laptop and ordered more Kettler balls on Amazon. When my box of 60 balls came in, I’d remove the Stigas and hide them in the casita.

My husband approached me while I was ordering and looked over my shoulder.

“Are you going to order my balls, too?”

I shook my head no. Definitely not.

He tried to log onto Amazon on his computer. But he doesn’t know the password. And no, I didn’t give it to him when he asked.

“I called our daughter and she is ordering my ping pong balls,” he announced.

We played another match, and my Kettler balls were missing. Later that night I walked into my husband’s office and found a nice little pyramid of them resting against his keyboard.

Stiga ping pong ball
My husband’s preferred brand of ping pong ball.

Do you and your spouse get competitive in sports or games? What games or sports to do you play together?

The Perils of Ping Pong

ping pong ball in a cactus
Our ping pong balls land in the most precarious places.

We’ve had our ping pong table for several weeks now. We’ve had fun playing casual games filled with laughter. Now my husband wants lessons. There’s a ping pong coach nearby who offers private and group lessons for all ages and he hosts tournaments. The coach is a national champion.

I suggested before we take the leap into instruction, maybe we should google the rules. I did yesterday and made a discovery of two rules we were breaking. First, we play matches to eleven and take turns serving every five serves. The official USA Table Tennis rules says two serves, not five. That’s easy to correct.

The second rule we were breaking is how we serve. This is a game changer — or game stopper. We were serving by putting the ball in the palm of our hand and sweeping the ball off. The official rules state we are to toss the ball at least six inches up in the air before striking the ball on its way down. Uh oh. This is no easy feat and takes a large dose of hand eye coordination.

I learned to serve with the ball resting on my hand as a second grader. I wonder if my dad taught me this method because he didn’t know the official rules? Or, was it because I didn’t have the ability at a young age to manage the ball toss and he wanted me to have fun?

In any case, this new serve made both of us really uncoordinated and frustrated. After practicing serve after serve, we both managed to get a few serves to hit the table. But it set us back in the fun department.

I told my husband I was done for the day and I headed off to the Casita for some “alone time.” I got out my laptop and began viewing YouTubes on “Four Killer Ping Pong Serves” and “How to Improve Quickly at Ping Pong.”

He walked in 30 minutes later and started laughing. He was doing the same thing in our bedroom on his laptop. We had been watching the same how-to videos secretly to gain the upper hand.

It’s not like we’re competitive or anything, right?

Ping Pong table on the patio.

Have you played ping pong? What kind of serve do you use? Do you think we need to follow the rules or play the way we want to have fun? I’m a rule stickler and my husband wants to play the way we used to. Is one of us right?

Let the Games Begin!

Kettler Cabo ping pong table on the patio
Our new ping pong table with a view.

We had a ping pong table gathering dust at our old home. We went back and forth on whether we wanted to move it or not. Our movers showed up with too small of a truck, they had to find a Uhaul to complete the move — so that set the nail in our ping pong table’s coffin. We donated it to Angel View Crippled Children’s Thrift Shop.

It had some good years of use. We raised our kids playing ping pong. We had relatives and friends over to play. The swim team played at our house. But lately, it had sat folded up in a corner in our garage.

Once we moved, I didn’t think about ping pong until our August beach vacation. At the park above the beach there were two concrete ping pong tables. My husband and played several games a day. We’d laugh so hard and it kept our heart rates going.

Summerland ping pong tables in a park
Beach ping pong at the park on concrete tables.

Then we went to Berkeley for a long weekend to visit the kids. My son found as an amazing airbnb that had a ping pong table in the living room. We played with the kids every evening. My son who had shoulder surgery had to play left handed and he was still beating us. It turns out that at his former job, they had a ping pong table at work. He played hours with someone he said was very good. It will be interesting to see how he does when his shoulder is healed and he plays us right handed.

airbnb with a ping pong table in the living room
Ping pong at the airbnb.

After the beach and Berkeley trips, I decided to order a new ping pong table. It would have been so much easier if we had kept the old one, but that’s like crying over spilt milk. We researched tables and decided we wanted one that was outdoor and could stand up to weather. I was so disappointed when it was delivered!

ping pong table in a box

The ping pong table arrived. Now about that “some assembly required.”

I’m usually pretty good at assembly required projects, but this one had me spooked. My husband cut open the box and there were multiple plastic packages of bolts, screws, nuts, etc. numbered starting at 40 going through the 50s, jumping over a hundred and ending at 128. My first step in assembly is making sure all the parts are there. I got out the instructions and they listed all the parts — but the numbers started at one and were consecutive — contrary to the contents in the box. I noticed the same type of screws in multiple bags. It completely overwhelmed me how to start.

My husband said, “Let’s send it back.”

I googled our area and ping pong tables. I found a game room guy. I called and asked if he’d assemble the table.

He said “Yes, next Wednesday for $450.”

My husband said, “Like I said. Send it back.”

I texted our realtor and asked if he knew anyone to assemble ping pong tables. He told me to use a website called Thumbtack.com. Good advice. They have service professionals at reasonable prices to do whatever you need. We found an affordable person who turned out to be a nice young man in his early 20s who assembled our ping pong table just like that for a fraction of the cost of my first quote.

So now I can say “Let the games begin!”

What fun activities do you like to do on vacation and at your house? Do you play ping pong or pool? What else do you do to stay active?

Do you like assembly required projects? How do you approach them?

Highlights from our weekend in the Bay Area

Golden Gate Bridge from Marin Headlands

Marin Headlands view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Pug at Bettes.
My daughter’s pug Waffles at Bette’s Oceanview Diner. Bette’s is another must.
ping pong table in airbnb
Our amazing airbnb complete with sauna and ping pong table. The ping pong was nonstop with our kids.
airbnb luxe bathroom
My son hanging out in the ridiculous luxe bathroom in the airbnb. I could write a full post about this place.
morning glories in Berkeley
Down the street from the airbnb. Gorgeous neighborhood and morning glories.

Our son found the airbnb for us. It was half the price of a tiny hotel room. I can’t wait to come back. It’s the bottom floor of a two-story house in a gorgeous neighborhood and only one mile from where our kids live.

I haven’t been a fan of the Bay Area. I don’t like the homeless, the damp, the filth that one thinks of when visiting San Francisco. Fortunately, I didn’t see any of that the entire weekend. Only when we’d drive, I’d see the homeless encampments along the freeway and under overpasses. The problems exist, but not where we stayed. I think that’s part of the problem, the people who are in charge aren’t adversely affected and can look the other way.

I do want to go back. The weather, food, the airbnb and of course hanging out with our family was amazing. My view of the Bay Area has changed for the better. I can kind of understand why my kids want to live there.

What places have you visited that you never want to go back? Where are your favorite places to visit?

5 takeaways from vacation

The beach at Padaro Lane, California
Afternoon beach walk.

As my days of vacation dwindle, I find myself focused on what makes me happy. I have a finite number of days — and I want to make sure I don’t waste them. I’ve decided I need to takeaway the optimism I’m feeling on vacation and stir it into my daily life.

I’ve listed what makes me smile on vacation:

ONE

I’ve discovered I need beach time every day. A walk on the beach in the morning. An hour or two in my beach chair reading in the late afternoon. I’m not sure how to incorporate beach time in Arizona, but maybe more visits to the lake? Or, maybe it’s time outside in nature.

TWO

I’ve found satisfaction from writing and working. During the last year of shutdowns, I lost motivation. Freed on vacation, I did an interview and had a story published and it gave me a charge that I haven’t felt for awhile. (Most likely I haven’t felt it because I haven’t been writing and submitting my work.) Clear answer to this. Write more often and submit my work.

THREE

Another thing that I enjoy is playing like a kid. On our morning walk, my husband I discovered the park below our house had two permanent ping pong tables. I love ping pong. My husband loves ping pong. We had a ping pong table in our garage at our old home that got covered with dust with years of neglect. We didn’t move it to Arizona. I foresee a ping pong table on the patio.

Summerland beach park ping pong tables
Concrete ping pong tables at the park above the beach.

FOUR

Reading is a big part of my vacation days. I read on the beach, I read in the middle of the day. I read at night. At home, I can definitely find more time to read.

FIVE

Drawing. As a kid, I spent hours drawing. I drew trees, houses, people, flowers. I loved to sketch. I was very judgmental of my work and felt I wasn’t any good at it. Especially when I compared myself to the two kids in my class who were “artists.” The teachers and kids would ooh and aah over their works. I took drawing and art classes in college as electives because it’s what I liked to do. On vacation, I brought a sketch pad and when I couldn’t find pencils or charcoal, I ordered a small set on Amazon. I like to sketch my surroundings here. I can take an art class, watch youtubes or keep on sketching at home.

Horses on Summerland beach
Horses share our morning walks on the beach.

What pleasures do enjoy on vacation that you can incorporate to your daily life?