And Another One Bites The Dust! Oh Yeh !

“They walked as a group through the stone arches of the Dwight Davis Tennis Center in St. Louis, MO. The Magnificent Seven, dressed in black, carrying tennis rackets, wearing cowboy hats and a look of determination on their faces.

They walked through this arch as players and would leave as Champions.

The other Super Senior players who were gathered near the tournament desk stopped their aimless talking and watched as the Seven approached the desk......”who are they…where are they from?”

“We are the Nebraska O’Courts”

Rose, Kathy, Mari, Joleen, Yasuko, Marty and Captain JeaneBee smiled to themselves, “yes, we're here and we’re gonna do some major damage to your egos and your team's win/loss stats”

The day was made for tennis….mid 70’s, slight wind, beautiful blue sky…the Magnificant Seven were READY!”

Friday 9/11/2009 10:30 AM
The first and only match of the day was against Oklahoma

Court#1 – Joleen and Kathy Winner: Oklahoma 7-6, 6-7, 1-0 Tiebreak
Court#2 – Rose and Yasuko Winner: O’Courts 6-4, 6-7, 1-0 Tiebreak
Court#3 – Mari and Marty Winner: O’Courts 6-3, 6-1

Saturday 9/12/09 10:30 AM
The First match was against HOA (Heart of America)

Court#1 – Mari and Kathy Winner: O’Courts 6-7, 6-2, 1-0 Tiebreak
Court#2 – Rose and Yasuko Winner: O’Courts 6-2, 6-2
Court#3 – Joleen and Marty Winner: HOA 5-7, 6-3, 1-0 Tiebreak

Saturday 9/12/09 4:30 PM
Second match was against St. Louis

Court#1 – Mari and Kathy Winner: St. Louis 6-1, 6-7, 1-0 Tiebreak
Court#2 – Rose and Yasuko Winner: O’Courts 7-5, 6-2
Court#3 – Joleen and Marty Winner: O’Courts 7-5, 6-1

Sunday 9/12/09 9:00 AM
Final Match – opponents were IOWA

Court#1 – Mari and Kathy Winner: O’Courts 6-2, 6-1
Court#2 – Rose and Yasuko Winner: O’Courts 6-2, 6-2
Court#3 – Joleen and Marty Winner: O’Courts 6-1, 3-6, 1-0 Tiebreak

The Nebraska O'Courts won the right to represent Missouri Valley in the USTA National Super Senior Tournament held in Surprise, AZ in April of 2010. It was a hard fight, the other teams were strong and as determined as we were. This time, it was our destiny to win.

Success isn't something that just happens - success is earned

To my team…..You were wonderful, magnificent, steadfast, gutsy, not to mention darn good-looking. I am proud of you all and as your captain I take full credit for your success. (who said that threats wouldn’t work… dry bread, water and no wine until we win is a great motivator)

Our next challenge will be in Surprise, Arizona….The UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION National Tennis Championships !!! We will be facing teams from 50 states plus Puerto great is that!

Capt’n JeaneBee PROUD OF HER TEAM!

Post Script: This week we were notified by the USTA League Tennis Program that we were awarded the X-Treme Team Sportsmanship Award in the 7.0 Super Senior Division.

This award emphasizes fair play and a positive attitude. The winners were nominated by their peers during the tournament.

Salmon and Musky fishing

Ah, to be young and have a father who both loves fishing and has a nice, big boat to fish from. Our grandson Austin and his Dad, John Paul love to fish.

These photos were taken while on a vacation several years ago with friends who live in Port Washington, Wisconsin, about 25 miles north of Milwaukee and fish Lake Michigan nearly every week.....I should mention that when fishing on Lake Michigan, it really gives you peace of mind to be in a BIG boat.

Port Washington pierhead light as seen from Lake Michigan

It may not be possible to get seasick in a land-locked lake, but from experience, it can! ....bouncing around plus swinging sideways as the big waves hit will scramble all but the hardiest of stomachs! Of course, John, Austin's father smugly says "I've never been seasick in my life".......we cross our fingers that his time doesn't come when he's captaining a boatload of fishermen. (on the other hand, we secretly hope that he will get really seasick and find himself barfing over the side for 10 minutes or so....would serve him right for bragging!)

Austin is 12 years old (2007) and has been a fisherman since he was old enough to hold a rod. I can remember fishing in Minnesota years ago with 3 year old Austin bundled up in a life jacket bigger than he was. He wasn't able to handle a rod and reel too well, but he was a pro when he fished with a bamboo pole. He put quite a dent in the perch and rock bass population of Ten Mile Lake!
This 12 pound salmon was caught by Austin on Lake Michigan. He hooked it himself and fought it to the boat, but needed help with landing it. John and Austin usually fish for fun, they believe in "catch and release" and photos are all that they keep. However, this salmon made it to the dinner table....yummmmm, grilled salmon!!

On another fishing trip earlier this year, this small musky (muskellunge) weighing about 15 lbs was also caught by help from Dad this time. After a long and really fun battle, they boated it, took photos and then released it back into the lake. Musky's have a mouth full of lethal teeth and getting the lure out before releasing it can be a real challenge. Sometimes, the fisherman/fisherwoman has a shredded finger to remember the experience. John has the scars to prove it.

Cocker Spaniel Fred

We have a Cocker Spaniel named Fred. Fred is 10 years old and was a surprise "please take the puppy" from our daughter. Her neighbor was moving and their little cocker puppy was going to be sent to the Humane Society.....I know, I know, he would have been adopted in a New York minute. But I get so teary eyed when I see the dogs in the society's TV ads that I couldn't let him be sent there.

Nancy brought him over, and that was all it took....big brown eyes, a reddish blonde coat and a little topnotch of white hair....
We've had Fred for 10 years.....when we first got him, the question was "what should we call him?" His "real" name was Copper Valley Flintstone....a little too long for every day usage. We mulled a few "call" names, "Honey"...nah "Goldie"....too feminine "Red"....he's not an Irish Setter..etc, etc, etc. Finally Nancy said..."well, he just looks like a Fred" and from then on, he was "Fred, the dog"....
Ole Fredthedog got himself into a pickle last night....he has long ears with long, curly hair on them. Last night we heard the most awful cries of pain and barking from the back of our yard. We ran outside and there was Fredthedog, tangled up in one of the climbing rose bushes on the back fence.
The thorny branches were caught in the long hair on his ears and he had been spinning around trying to get loose but only succeeded in entangling himself even more. Poor Fredthedog was panting, whining and howling.
It was cold, 9:00 at night, dark and the yard lights didn't give us much light, but Ken and I managed to get him free...the plant clippers were in the garage (I think) so we got him loose by using a butcher knife to cut the branches and scissors to cut the hair that was wound around the rose Fredthedog has a lot less hair on one ear.
He was so scared, shaking and panting. And, since we've had a deluge of rain in Nebraska, the ground was soggy and was Fredthedog. We carried him to the house, wrapped him in a towel and hugged and talked to him until he calmed down.....he wasn't hurt but did have some thorn scratches in his ears.
Both the rose bush and Fred have lived peacefully together for nearly 10 years......hopefully they will live in peace for the next ten!

Fred will soon be getting a "friend" from our local Humane Society. Ever since seeing a heart wrenching story about the many kittens that are overcrowding the facilities and the dilemma the society faces, I decided we MUST adopt one. However I know very little about cats, much less about kittens, I have always had dogs, never a cat. So, I will be visiting Kitten Blogs & Articles for some much needed advice on how to raise a kitty.

Identity theft

Know a victim of identity theft? You're talkin' to one!

How would you feel if someone stole from you and infringed on your personal life....violated, angry, out for revenge? I am all three. Yes, I was a victim of identify theft!

Saturday morning I wrote check #2096 to the Madonna School here in Omaha for $20.00, a remembrance for a friend who had died earlier this week. I put it in my mailbox, put the little red flag up at about 1:00 for pickup. I had also put in a birthday card and money for my niece and a gift for a friend's new baby in Kentucky.

We needed some things at the store, so hopped into the car, 20 minutes for fruit, milk and bread doesn't take very long.

As we drove up to our home, I noticed that the mailbox was open and empty but the flag was still up. Strange, my mailman never comes this early and is very good about closing the box door and putting the flag down. I thought "I wonder if somebody took our mail....naw, couldn't happen"....I was wrong.

Sunday morning I decided to check my bank account online....whoa! what was this, a check for $625.00 had been cashed, and the check number was the same as the $20.00 check to Madonna School. All that the online description said was "ONUS CHECK WITHDRAWAL 2096". I called the 24 hour banker but all she could tell me was that a check had been cashed....and that I would be able to get more information on Monday.

Monday 8 am I was at the bank door and was taken to a personal banker. I told her that I did not write a check to anyone for $625.00 and needed to know who the check was made out to. But I was told I would have to wait until Tuesday when the checks arrive from the satellite bank. In the meantime, I had called the post office in regard to the baby gift which had a tracking number. They had not received, it was not picked up by the mail carrier....I made a report to the Postal Inspector General...don't know what that office can do, but it least I felt I was doing something.

Tuesday morning I went online and looked at my checking account....the $625.00 cash withdrawal was gone! First I thought "could I have made some dumb mistake and caused a big fuss over nothing"...

I went back to the bank and talked to the personal banker....she had tried to call me earlier. She said that the check had been altered by some sort of material that dissolves the ball point pen ink. The check was made out to (xxxx since she has now been released from prison, I will not give her name) and also a driver's license number. On the check she wrote what she had been "paid" for...two weeks of baby sitting husband and I are both in our 70's, no babysitting needed in this household.

This does not necessarily mean that the name and license belongs to the thief since I doubt if they were dumb enough to use their own. (wrong again! This was her real name...the police officer told me that they don't think they will be caught!) But... the bank had a THUMBPRINT and also a surveillance video of the woman. The check was date and time stamped by the bank at 15:55 - it took them less than 3 hours to wash the check, forge it,and drive to a bank on the other side of town to be cashed. They probably hit a few more mailboxes on the way.

As for my baby gift, a really cute pair of Winnie the Pooh pajamas, birthday card and several other pieces of mail...they are gone, never to be seen again.

Remember what I said about violation, anger and revenge...when this group/person is caught I will be first in line to prosecute. My life has been violated and I don't like it!!! I was very lucky that my bank cancelled the $625.00 charge on my account. It wouldn't have thrown me into bankruptcy or caused bad credit but it did cause some sleepless nights.

I don't feel safe writing checks anymore....and have learned NEVER to put the flag up on my mailbox when I put something in it. Its like a "come and get it" to anyone who makes a habit of helping themselves to another person's mail.

I often wonder about the other people who had their out-going mail stolen.  It would be quite a nasty surprise to receive a letter from your bank,  credit card or other lending agency saying that your monthly house payment, credit card bill, car insurance, etc. payment had not been received....and inaddition to that, you will be charged a late fee for non payment.

(note) Ms Thief and her partner were caught several days later with a backseat full of opened mail)  They were tried and sentenced to 4 years in prison... not nearly enough to make up for the stress and sleepless nights she caused us. Unfortunately the maximum penalty is up to three years in prison for mail theft and up to two years in prison for theft. And, I think she returned my Winnie the Pooh pajamas to the store for a full refund! grrrrrrrrrrrrrr )

The Road to Omaha . Rosenblatt Stadium CWS

This article was written in 2009...unfortunately, Rosenblatt Stadium was demolished shortly after the 2009 baseball season.  We now have a brand new, shiny stadium, but it will never have the flavor and friendship that those who attended the CWS at Rosenblatt remember.


Soon it will be June and the best collegiate baseball teams in the nation will be on the road to Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium to slug it out for the National Championship. This series is truly an event, with thousands of baseball lovers making the pilgrimage each year.
The eight 2009 CWS teams have arrived in Omaha and excitement is in the air (and in Rosenblatt Stadium).
  • Cal State Fullerton
  • Arkansas
  • LSU
  • Virginia (VA has never been in the CWS)
  • North Carolina
  • Arizona State
  • Texas
  • Southern Mississippi
W E L C O M E...... TO...... O M A H A !!!!!!
Usually Omaha's weather in June is hot......with maybe a thunder storm or two (we have REALLY loud thunder storms), and occasionally a tornado warning, but all in all you couldn't ask for better.

The College World Series is something every college baseball fan young or old should experience at least once in his/her lifetime. It's truly the greatest organized baseball atmosphere you'll ever encounter. Ballpark advertising is absent during the 10-day tournament, so the outfield wall and scoreboard contain only NCAA logos. The focus here is on baseball, and that's it.

Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium is located about one minute off of I-80, along 13th Street, in a residential neighborhood in Omaha, Nebraska, about three miles south of downtown. The Missouri River and Iowa state line are a mile from the ballpark which is easy to see from the Interstate thanks to its elevated hilltop location.

Large crowds attend the CWS games and the majority of them are Omaha and surrounding area fans. I was born in Omaha and grew up with the College World Series. I know how the locals feel about the players….we love having them here! We enjoy the boys of summer who come to play, we enjoy seeing the wonder in their eyes when they see the big blue stadium….they're the lucky ones..…they’re really here.

Imagine the thrill of driving across the Missouri River on Interstate 80, looking to your left and seeing Rosenblatt Stadium on the hill.

Ask any of the players who’ve played at Rosenblatt. In fact, ask any of the fans who have driven here to attend. Goosebumps and teary eyes are not uncommon.

HOME OF THE NCAA MEN’S COLLEGE WORLD SERIES – A big sign…yes, this is it!

You've really made it! You are the best of the it's time to show the rest of the nation that you deserve to be here!

Although all of the games always sell out, there are plenty of seats to be found, even if you only have the $6 general admission tickets for the outfield bleachers. There's a festive atmosphere outside the ballpark, with numerous vendors set up across the street selling food and souvenirs. The official Fan Fest occupies a large amount of space near the stadium's main concourse, where former Major League players often sign autographs after games. Occasionally a movie star or two can be spotted sitting in the stands.

A trip to Rosenblatt in June is one of those journeys that should be experienced by all.
Omaha Municipal Stadium was built in 1948 with a seating capacity of 10,000. Two years after opening, Omaha attracted the College World Series to their new stadium and Omaha has been a part of the CWS ever since. It's one of a handful of stadiums that still uses live organ music.

Unfortunately Rosenblatt Stadium will be replaced in 2010....the new stadium will be shiny and up-to-date....but will no longer have the festive atmosphere. The name will be changed.....depending on which major company wins the naming rights. Parking will be $10.00 and only NCAA items will be more little vendors nor mom and pop beer gardens.

If you want to experience Rosenblatt at it's best and take back memories of how it used to be.....plan to come in 2009 and possibly 2011 it will be too late.

As Omahans, we look forward to seeing your team play in the CWS in June. You'll enjoy shopping and the friendly midwesterners in Omaha and you’ll take back great memories. You'll realize what a vibrant city Omaha is. We promise that visits to the Henry Doorly Zoo, Boystown, the Old Market, the SAC museum, the Durham Museum and many of our other landmarks will make your stay in Omaha something to remember.

You’ll eat the best steaks in the world in Omaha's restaurants. Maybe you'll meet Warren Buffett at Gorats, his favorite steak house ( its not a "fancy" need to dress up)

And don’t forget to stop for an ice cream cone or the nationally famous “hot fudge malt” at Zesto’s. (in 2010/11 Zestos at Rosenblatt will be a memory....there's no room at the new stadium for an ice cream stand)

Largest Train Layout in the World

Trains are my husband's hobby and trying to make his layouts look real ... however he will never achieve the unbelievable detail of the Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg, Germany....its the largest model railway in the world

My Passion for tennis (1) - THE INNER GAME OF TENNIS - Gallwey

I was told that to create an interesting blog, I should write about things that I was passionate about, things that others would want to read or things that would raise questions in the mind of the reader. Tennis is my game of choice but yours might be golf, bowling or any other sport. The principles are the need to be "in the zone" to be a winner.

Tennis isn't just hitting a little yellow ball back and forth across a 36" high net on a green playing field. Tennis is outwitting your opponent as much as it is outhitting him. "What is he planning to do, hit a lob, a short crosscourt dropshot or will the ball come straight at me? If he does this, I will do that....if he hits crosscourt, I'll return down the line" Your mind is busy....too busy!

In 1974 W. Timothy Gallwey wrote The Inner Game of Tennis. Gallwey writes that "every game is composed of two parts, an outer game and an inner game. The outer game is played against an opponent and the inner game is the one that is taking place in the mind of the player. The player of the inner game comes to value the art of relaxed concentration and aims at the kind of spontaneous performance which occurs only when the mind is calm."

Throughout this blog, I will try to detail the lessons that I have learned as I go in quest of the inner game.

(click on the label: "My Passion for Tennis" to see the continuing articles)

Stay Away from My House

Our home is in a nice area of least we thought so. But crime happens everywhere. Maybe it's the are being lost and people need money. So, they steal it. A "you have it...I need it" mentality.

Our neighor's house was broken into last week...the thief threw a rock through their picture window and stole a purse that was sitting on a nearby table. The home owner had turned off the security system and forgot to reset the alarm. They have a dog (can YOU be sued by a thief if your dog bites him?) but it was in the basement family room with the rest of the family.

Does my liability insurance cover me if the thief was cut by the broken glass as he reached into the room to grab the purse? I suppose a "good" lawyer could say that it was "tempting" the thief because the purse was in plain sight so the homeowner was at fault. What if the thief had tripped over the water hose on his way to picking up the BIG rock....could the homeowner be sued?

He hasn't been caught yet, but his stocking cap was left behind. It caught on the broken glass as he reached into the room.....maybe his DNA is on it!

My Passion for tennis (2) - THE INNER GAME OF TENNIS - Gallwey

The problems which most perplex tennis players are not those dealing with the proper way to swing a racket. The most common has to do with knowing HOW to do something but not doing it. "When I am practicing, I play a match I fall apart", "I know exactly what I'm doing wrong, but I can't break the habit", "In a match I get so nervous I lose my concentration"

Images are better than your favorite pros, how do they hit the ball, move their feet or concentrate on the ball. They watch the ball so closely that they can read the print on the surface i.e. Penn, Dunlap, Match Point.

You tell yourself exactly what you want to do and then do your best to do it. But, sometimes trying too hard ends up with negative results. Then you chastize yourself, "you idiot, why did you hit that ball out", "Oh rats, that was a dumb thing to do" or "why don't you just hang up the racket and take up bowling" These remarks are usually said loud enough for your partner or bystanders to want them to KNOW that you don't always blow that shot and that you are actually a pretty decent player.

They may not hear, but YOUR mind then says to itself...."Yep, you're a lousy player and can't hit a forehand to save your soul" So, you then blow the next two forehands plus a backhand just to prove yourself right.

Think about the state of mind of a player who is said to be "hot" or "on his game"...Is he thinking about how he should hit each shot or better yet, why his serve is 100% "on". Atheletes know that their peak performance never comes when they are thinking about it. Someone "playing out of his mind" is more aware of the ball, the court and his opponent.

He is conscious but not thinking, not over-trying. He's immersed in the flow of the game and mentally guides where he wants the ball to go. This "hot streak" usually lasts until he starts thinking about and TRIES to maintain it. As soon as he attempts to control it, he loses it.

Want to test this theory? The next time your opponent is having a hot streak or is serving like Andy Roddick, simply ask him as you change sides...."You have a great serve...what are you doing to put so much spin on it"

Wham! if he takes the bait (and 95% of them will) he'll begin thinking about what he IS doing...stiffer wrist, tossing the ball lower, etc. and, suddenly it disappears and his streak will end.

NEVER make this particular comment/observation to your partner in the middle of a match. He or she may be playing "in the zone".

"Good shot", "nice lob", "good thinking" are OK.....your partner knew it and doesn't need to think "what did I do to make them good????"

My first model train

Hey there, I'm Ken, the other member of the family!

Christmas morning, 1948 will always be one that I won't forget....under the Christmas tree was my first set of model trains.....a Lionel engine and 5 cars!

For an 11 year old boy, that was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I loved trains but to really have a set of my own was too good to be true. Money was tight in our house. Although Dad had a good job in the office of the Armour Company in Omaha, NE, money was not something that was usually spent on toys! Especially something as EXPENSIVE as an honest-to-goodness set of Lionel trains!
Dad and I built a table out of scrap lumber and we set up the train layout in our basement. Both of us enjoyed running the Lionel and making scenery, mountains and anything else we could think of (and could afford the materials for).

Keeping my little brother out of the layout was a problem....once we found him sitting in the middle of the layout. He wasn't doing anything, just sitting there. I think he climbed up onto it and then was afraid to move. I was a lot more upset than Dad was....

The Lionel setup was my domain, I was the master of the controls, and my world was complete. UNTIL, I went high school (age 13 at that time) and discovered cars and GIRLS! My Lionel went into the box for nearly 40 years.

I have been retired for 8 years and 7 years ago joined a train club....the Nebraska-Iowa Railroaders. We meet monthly at either member's homes or at our club meeting place at Nebraska Crossing where we have some large permanent layouts set up.

The club is contacted frequently by shopping malls, train shows and other events that want to attract visitors. What little boy (or his father) can resist looking at model trains...they will stand for hours watching the ice loader push plastic ice cubes into a train car, a saw mill that cuts logs into wood slabs, and Mel's Diner where the car hops come out on roller skates, bringing food to the cars.

Our portable modules can be transported to the mall or wherever the display will be located. One of our favorite places is Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha, NE.

Lauritzen is a beautifully landscaped flower garden and is also the home of two huge retired Union Pacific engines. Big Boy 4023 along with Centennial 6900 are happily living out their lives in the garden spot of Omaha.

Big Boy 4023 - Omaha, NE .....................Centennial 6900 - Omaha, NE

Our model train club has a free exhibit at
Nebraska-Iowa Railroaders Club

Lauritzen Gardens Train Exhibit - Omaha, NE

Chicago Museum of Science and Industry

My husband’s hobby is model trains and we never pass up the opportunity to see train set-ups. In November we drove to Chicago to visit the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry….it’s not only machines but contains exhibits that were unexpected.

I had expected rows and rows of machines….wonderful for some guys, but not me.

But, we were surprised to find ourselves ingrossed in “the Baby
chicks Hatchery"– we actually saw a chick peck it’s way out of the shell and tumble into the world. Hmmm, wonder what they do with all the chicks that hatch?

Our grandsons had a great time....most of the exhibits were "hands on" and they played with everything from the Idea Factory to robots and flight simulators.

There were three displays that we particularly wanted to see…the U-505 Submarine, the Coal Mine and the Great Train Story. We saw them all, plus everything else we could possibly cram into in an 8 hour period. (wear your walking shoes, it’s a BIG place.)

The Great Train Story has a huge layout with 34 HO scale train engines and cars. The layout takes you on a cross-country journey from Chicago to Seattle through very realistic terrain and cityscapes. My husband was in heaven! He spent hours examining the buildings, bridges, mountains and tunnels as the trains chugged past.

“Ron, one of my club members has a train like that!” …”I had that engine but sold it”…”look at that Silver Zephyr!”

Speaking of the Pioneer Zephyr , the actual engine and several cars are housed in the museum. We took the free tour and sat in a passenger car (with lifelike statues) while the tour guide told us about the train's background. Our grandkids loved sitting next to the models -- they talked!

I HIGHLY recommend the museum to anyone who is visiting Chicago with youngsters....they (and you) will have a ball! Plus, they have some GREAT desserts in the museum lunchroom!
It was a day well spent!

31 clues to a lasting marriage

How many of these promises do you keep? When you stood at the altar before God and all those witnesses, you promised to love and honor your spouse.....but sometimes the little things get lost in the daily shuffle of life.

1. Start each day with a kiss
2. Smile often
3. Touch
4. Talk about dreams
5. Select a song that can be "our song" (ours is The Twelfth of Never )
6. Laugh together
7. Listen to his or her ideas
8. Encourage
9. Do it his or her way occasionally
10. Give a compliment twice a day
11. Call during the day if you are away from home
12. Hold hands in public
13. Cuddle
14. Ask for each other's opinion
15. Show respect for his or her opinion
16. Welcome the other person home
17. Look your best
18. Wink at each other
19. Apologize
20. Forgive
21. Be positive
22. Be kind
23. Talk about your love
24. Reminince about your favorite times together
25. Treat each other's friends and relatives with courtesy
26. Admit when wrong
27. Be sensitive to each other's sexual desires
28. Watch sunsets together
29. Say "I love you" frequently
30. End the day with a hug

31. Remember that unkind remarks can wound deeply and may never be forgotten

We've been happily married for nearly 50 years... I can honestly say that we keep almost all these promises. And... he's still my best friend.

My Passion for tennis (3) - THE INNER GAME OF TENNIS - Gallwey

Listen to the way players talk to themselves on the court. "Come on Marie, hit the ball in front of you" Most players are talking to themselves all the time, "move up on the ball", "keep it to her backhand", "bend your knees", "watch the ball". The commands are endless...its like hearing a recording of your last lesson playing inside your head.

Imagine that there are two parts within the same person. Self 1 (teller) and Self 2 (doer). Self 1 is full of instructions, do this, don't do that. Although Self 2 which includes the unconscious mind, nervous system and is anything but stupid, Self 1 doesn't trust him. So the player's cheek muscles tighten, his lips purse and he overhits the ball....and starts chastizing himself again.

By thinking too much and trying too hard, Self 1 has produced tension and muscle conflict in the body. Self 1 is reponsible for the error but heaps the blame on Self 2. As a result, the stroke grows worse and frustration builds.

Remember that Self 2, the doer, is the unconscious mind. Once Self 2 has hit the ball firmly, he knows FOREVER which muscles to contact to do it again......just let him do it.
Getting it together mentally in tennis involves the learning of several internal skills:

(1) learning to program your computer Self 2 with images rather than constantly instructing yourself with words

(2) Learning to "trust thyself" (Self 2) to do what you (Self 1) ask of it. Just let Self 2 hit the ball

(3) Learning to see "nonjudgmentally"....see what is happening rather than simply noticing how well or how badly it is happening. In other words, quit trying too hard.

Then there is the "master skill"..without which nothing of value is ever achieved...the art of concentration.

Candy fix....mmmmmm

Remember those old fashioned candies....names that you seldom see any more. Try these sites:

OK, I admit it, I like candy. When I was a kid, Hersheys was my very, very favorite choice.....those nice sized bars (either they have shrunk or my memory is getting bad) that MELTED.

Now this is a secret just between you and me. I would take a Hershey bar (wrapped of course) and stuff it into my back pocket to soften. Then after the bar was no longer solid, really nice and gooey, I would take it out and unwrap it. Yummmm, licking the melted chocolate off of my fingers and then licking the wrapper was one of the joys of my young life.

At 8 years came easily.

Super Seniors Winning Song!!!

The narrative was spoken by the oldest player..….me!

“This song is dedicated to the Super Senior tennis players in this room. You know who you are…’re the ones who walk onto the court to battle players who are sometimes 20, 30 or more years younger than you (don’t you just love the smirks when they see who they have to play…..and then find that our dinks, lobs and drop shots can be very effective.)

You come prepared with knee braces, elastic arm bands, wet towels, hats or visors. On hot days you may have an umbrella in your bag along with water jugs and Gatorade….plus an assortment of Motrin, Advil, Tylenol, Joint Flex and Ben-Gay products.

Tennis is our game….and a great one it is. From the time a child picks up a racket and smacks the first ball across the net to the time a senior serves an ace to win the match…….We’re out there! We’re doing it! *******

Song…(very loosely based on “I AM WOMAN” - by Helen Reddy and Ray Burton

We are Seniors that is true,
But my friends, we’re telling you
We can lob and serve and volley with the best.

All those youngsters that we play
Think that things will go their way
But we’ve seen it all before and we’re not fooled.

(Chorus) Oh yes, we are good and have wisdom born of age
Yes, we have our aches, but look at what we’ve gained.
If we have to, we can play anyone.
We can lob, we can return their serve!

‘Tho age 60’s come and gone, we’ve the will to carry on
And we’ve used our skills to help us beat the rest.
Look around this room tonight, smile and clap with all your might
‘cause you know that you’re the teams that were the best.

(Chorus) Oh yes, you are good and have wisdom born of age
Yes, you have your aches, but just look at what you’ve gained.
If you have to, you can do anything
You are strong, You’re unbelievable!


Today's match

Our Saturday morning tennis game was nearly cancelled due to bad weather. But, we (the four grandmothers!) decided to give it a try. It had been raining and sleeting all last night, and the streets were really slick. I know, we were really stupid, but who said tennis players were smart (grin).

My husband was definitely miffed when I told him that we were still going to play...."its too slick, you'll probably break your neck walking across the parking lot!" What does he know, his hobby is model trains and they safely go around a track in the basement.

We have two indoor tennis facilities in Omaha that we use, Miracle Hill and The Tennis Club. Both are in our area of town and are nice places to play. We generally play at the Tennis Club because they have a senior discount (aah huh, oh yeh, we're seniors)

My doubles partner was recovering from our "happy birthday" bash last night and would have been happier staying home, but we put the ole guilt trip on her "but if you don't play, we can't....its too late to find a fourth, and we've had this court reserved for a week".

Actually with the weather as bad as it was, we were the only people playing anyway.

Maar and I have been partners for about 6 years.....we call each other Mutt and Jeff.
...she is tall and I am short.....her name begins with M and mine with J. Friend Maar is a determined player who is always taking lessons....I'm not sure if they are doing that much good, but she has a great forehand, which, if it stays in the court can be counted on to win the point, or at least give our opponents something to worry about.
I'm short but fast and quick. My claim to fame is that I have very good anticipation and can almost always be where the ball is. That works when we play against people who have normal strokes....I can usually tell by their stance which way the ball will be hit.
However, some players stand one way, look and hit the way can you tell which direction the ball will take. They have never taken lessons, just picked up a racket and start slugging away. These are are the people you really have watch when don't expect the ball to come your way, and suddenly! There it is! In your face!
All in all, Maar and I make a pretty good team. We've won a lot of tournaments together.......we're both 3.5 now......when we were young and spry, we were 4.0s!
Today, however, neither one of us could hit the broad side of a barn....I must have left my forehand back in the car since I certainly didn't have it with me. Wham, the ball would veer to the left, then the next shot would go wild into the net. I generally don't get too upset with my game, but today.....UGH. A few bad words were quietly uttered now and then.
Maar had a minor headache (oh yea) from the wine and cake last night...mostly the wine. So she wasn't up to par either. Jo and Meg were at the party too....their games were a bit off also. Actually we all should have stayed home. Late night, good food and freely flowing wine does not add up to a great tennis match. Fun tennis maybe, but definitely not good tennis. But, you are only 65 once! So we helped Maar celebrate hers!
We played for an hour and a half....and then tried to go home. Darn, the rain had dripped into the door hinges or around the door and the door was frozen shut. We couldn't get out of the tennis center......any other time that would have been kind of funny, but not today. It took two of the employees to pry the door open (hope it wasn't ruined) and off we went.
Home?? Of course not! we went to Starbucks.

Omaha's Darkest Hour - the Von Maur killings

I wrote this on December 6, still lingers in my mind and heart. On his television program on January 7, 2009, Dr. Phil interviewed the mother of the shooter, Robert Hawkins and one of the victims

Robert Hawkins needed help. But didn't get it. The result was a terrible day in Omaha and 8 people, Angie Schuster, Maggie Webb, Gary Joy, Janet Jorgensen, Gary Sharf, Dianne Trent, John McDonald and Beverly Flynn all fell victim to Robert Hawkins' deadly rampage on December 6, 2007.

Omaha, Nebraska, my home town, was suddenly the center of world-wide news. The kind of news that you don’t want to hear, the kind of news that you hope you'll never hear.
I live ½ mile from Westroads in the western edge of Omaha, NE and was Christmas shopping with a neighbor when I received a frantic telephone call from my husband…”where are you? Are you at Westroads?” “Someone was shot at Von Maurs”. At the time, I thought that this meant that one person had been shot. I was wrong.
Fear and panic had entered our lives. My first thought is “where are my children and my grandchildren?” "Please God, let them be all right!" "What is going on?" "Who is doing this?"
We could see the police helicopters circling the mall and hear the sounds of police and rescue sirens screaming down Dodge Street, the main thoroughfare passing the Westroads. Our telephone rang constantly, our daughter from Chicago, our friends from Georgia and California, everyone who knew that we lived in Omaha. They had seen the news on CNN and other news broadcasts and wanted to be sure that we were not involved. Later I had dozens of emails to answer…”Yes, we’re all okay”.
On December 6, 2007, shortly after 1:30 pm, a young man dressed in camouflage clothing and armed with an SKS assault rifle opened fire among holiday shoppers in Von Maurs, an Omaha department store at the Westroads Shopping Mall. Witnesses at the mall described the gunman as very tall, having a military-style haircut, wearing a camouflage vest and a black backpack and carrying a rifle. Police later recovered the rifle believed to have been used by the gunman.

The question remains, "how did he manage to bring a rifle into the shopping mall?" This was not a handgun which could be concealed in his pocket.....he was wearing a vest ....not a long overcoat which could have hidden the rifle. He had parked his vehicle in the parking lot and entered the mall....he looked around for a
few minutes and then went back to his car. This was recorded by security cameras.
A few minutes later he reappeared at the entrance to Von Maur Department store's main entrance. This time he was carrying a bundle wrapped in a black hoodie. Although this was seen and noted by security personnel, they didn't think anything was amiss.
After entering Von Maurs, he turned to the right and rode the elevator to the 2rd floor, the took the escalator up to 3rd, unwrapped his assault rifle and began firing.
Eight people were killed and at least five others were wounded. Two are in critical condition at a local hospital. This was Christmas shopping time, mothers and children plus hundreds of others were sent into terrified panic. What went through their minds..."where can I hide", "I've got to protect my children", "is this a terrorist attack", "please, please, somebody help me".
The festive sounds of holiday music playing throughout the Westroads Mall were suddenly punctuated by rapid gunfire and screams. The witnesses described the horrific scenes; multiple people gunned down in the store’s customer service department, others on a floor below, shot as they were looking up an escalator toward the chaos. It was believed that between 20 and 30 shots were fired.
The gunman came off a third-floor elevator and began firing shots into the ceiling. Once the shooting started, employees and customers rushed to hide wherever they could, in storerooms and other rooms off the shopping floor. Others had no chance, one man was shot as he stood looking around in bewilderment as frightened shoppers ran past him. Others in the customer service and gift wrap department were shot as they tried to run to the back of the store.
Police said the call of an active shooting at the mall first came in at 1:42 p.m., and within 6 minutes dozens of Omaha police, Douglas County sheriff's deputies, off duty officers, FBI agents and officers from area police departments responded and sealed off and closed the mall. The Omaha office of the FBI is less than a block from Von Maur, and the office of Homeland Security was also close. They were there in minutes to provide assistance to Omaha Police officers.
But, by that time, Robert Hawkins had already killed 8 people and wounded 5....and had killed himself.
"At 2:12 p.m., officers located the body of the shooter, Robert A. Hawkins. He had taken his own life".
Less than an hour before, the troubled teenage gunman had given a note to the family that he had been living with. In the note, which was turned over to authorities, Hawkins wrote that he was "sorry for everything" and would not be a burden on his family anymore.
More ominously, he wrote, "Now I'll be famous."
SOURCE: 12/7/07 Omaha World Herald
NOTE: Omaha Police Sgt. Jeff Baker was in the first group of officers at Westroads Mall. Although he can't describe certain details because of the police investigation, he offered this account:

In excess of 100 mph on the Interstate 680 en route to Westroads, time still seemed to crawl. A feeling of dread crept over me with every update given on the radio.

Shots being fired in the mall????

Upon arrival and armed with a shotgun, I entered Von Maur not knowing what I'd encounter. Twenty years in policing, 10 as a supervisor, didn't adequately prepare me for what I was about to see.

It was surreal...the smell of gunfire in the air, like the aroma of firecrackers you shot off as a kid. Shall casings on the marble floor. Mortally wounded gunshot victims.

People running past, crying. sheer terror on their faces. Others frozen and cowering under displays and in fitting rooms. Abandoned baby strollers, ladies' handbags, dropped cups of coffee and Christmas shopping bags littering the floor throughout the mall.

An alarm shrieking from overhead speakers, only partially drowning out Christmas music being played. And all the while, you're searching, guns at the ready, certain the bad guy is going to pop up from a clothing rack and kill one of you before your buddies can react and fight back.

It was surreal, like living out a horror movie. the mall swarmed with incoming officers from Omaha Police Department and other agencies.

I used the radio to warn responders that we might have a suspect on the loose with a high-powered rifle and that we had to lock down the mall. There's no time to sit and ponder options. You have to rely on your training and the officer next to you. so we broke into search elements to track down the suspect.

All the officers involved knew he had to be stopped and we were aware it was entirely possible that any one of us could be among those who would not go home to their families that night.

I experienced a wide array of emotions. Anxiety. Frustration. Sadness. Anger.

As the hours wore on and various personnel finished the task of clearing the mall and evacuating shoppers and employees, I felt exhaustion. Being at such a high state of alert for so long is taxing and I could see the emotional and physical drain on the faces of a number of police officers, federal agents and firefighters on the scene.

I got home about 9 p.m. roughly 13 hours after starting my shift. The first thing I did was hug my wife and tell her that I loved her. Then I prayed before managing about three hours of broken sleep.

Omaha shed its innocence, our own 9/11, and while this tragedy won't beat us as a city, I think Omahans will be forever changed by what happened.

It goes down as a dark day in our history, an abomination, the most senseless act of brutality I have ever seen.

My Passion for tennis (4) - THE INNER GAME OF TENNIS - Gallwey

If you think about your own highest moments or peak experiences, you will also remember them as moments of great pleasure. When this happens on the tennis court, you are concentrating without TRYING to concentrate. You feel alert with an inner assurance that you can do what needs to be done without having to "try hard". Quieting the mind means less thinking, calculating, judging, worrying, fearing, hoping, trying, regretting, controlling or distracting.

Quieting the mind is a gradual process involving the learning of several inner skills. The first skill is to learn to let go the inclination to judge ourselves and our performance as being good or bad. Watch the face of a hitter and you'll see expressions of judgmental thoughts occurring in his mind. Frowns after a "bad" shot, self-satisfaction after every shot that he considered "good."

The best example of a quiet mind that I can think of is Venus Williams. When Venus walks on the court, she's wearing her "game face". If she double faults, hits a ball into the net, or misses an easy forehand, her game face doesn't change. She isn't judging herself, isn't thinking something demeaning to herself. If she serves an ace to win the match, her game face stays the same, it doesn't change (unless its the US Open or Wimbledon). These judgments are our personal ego reactions to the sights, sounds, feelings and thoughts. When the mind is free of any thought or judgment, it is still and Self 2 can do his job..."get the ball over the net"
In the game of tennis there are two important things to know, (1) where the ball is and (2) where the racket head is. As soon as you picked up a racket and began to learn the game you were told to "watch the ball"....its simple, you come to know where the ball is by looking at it. You don't have to think "oh boy, here comes the ball; its clearing the net by about a foot and coming really fast. It should bounce near the baseline and I'd better hit it on the rise". No, you simply watch the ball and let the proper response take place.

You realize the importance of knowing WHERE your racket head is but you can't look at it to know where it is because you're watching the ball. You must FEEL it...feeling it gives you the knowledge of WHERE it is.
Learn where the racket head is at the point of bounce.....without judging whether it is too high or too low...don't let Self 1 frantically say "get your racket up" or "you've dropped the racket head". Then Self 2 has no magic phrase that must be repeated and can concentrate without thinking.