Juneau Rules Explained

Generally accepted in many distinguished tennis circles here in Fairfield County, I recently came to learn that these rules – coined Juneau Rules by a friend because yes, I made them up – have been introduced to the Midwest by another tennis pal who relocated to Kansas City. They have apparently been referring to them as “Northeastern Rules” which is fine, but before things get out of hand, I thought I’d better get busy and get the actual rules officially published with proper attribution before someone else claims the invention as their own.

Each player gets 2 FBIs (First Ball In) that can be used at any time during their first service game. If a let is called on a ball that lands in the service box, it does not count against the FBI. The server should call the score and number of FBIs remaining so everyone is clear. Here in the Northeast, some players refer to these FBIs as “Juneaus,” but I imagine they spell it as “Juno.”
Benefits: Allows servers to avoid the temptation of hitting a big serve with a cold arm. Takes pressure off the server while eliminating the curse of the accidental great first serve followed by four double faults. Keeping track of “FBIs remaining” sharpens the brain for scorekeeping throughout the match and, I suppose, potentially fends off dementia.
Myths: It takes longer. While the possibility of dragging things out is real, it rarely happens. More often than not, players never use any of their FBIs. (What definitely takes longer, although truly the best approach, is when everyone warms up serves together beforehand.)
Suggested Strategy: Begin serving with a second serve to reserve your FBIs until later in the game when you may need them. If you need them right away, use them to warm yourself up or work out the kinks.


Same as Classic Rules except players over the age of 60 are allowed to carry unused FBIs into future games.

Sometimes It’s Better to Mask Your Feelings

I don’t need a mask that matches my outfit, I need a mask that matches my mood. And, since I only have to wear a mask while going out for errands, where I’m unlikely to run into anyone I know, why not try to improve my mood by having a little fun?

Some of these sayings are long time favorites and apropos of the times we live in. Others have been shamelessly lifted from greetings cards I’ve bought despite knowing I could never, ever send them to anyone I know and hope to remain friends. But they could be useful for a trip to the DMV or a place where the surly staff has been conveying equally mean-spirited messages without the use of a mask for years.

It occurs to me that masks may create that same sense of false protection that one sometimes gets in their car shortly before screaming insults or making rude hand gestures at a complete stranger. As an introvert, however, I find this idea of venturing forth with newfound boldness appealing, so don’t be surprised if you see me wearing one of these soon.


The Stuff That Happens When the Kids Come Home From College

This idea was inspired by my daughter Grace after she produced a fantasic drawing of all the equipment she needs to take on an upcoming trip to Alaska with the Juneau Icefield Research Program. In addition to the 60 pieces of ceramics, the house is littered with mountaineering gear — telemarking skis and boots, ropes, harnesses, gigantic water bottles, stuff sacs, pads, tarps, crampons and carabiners. More than I could imagine fitting into this cartoon, and fortunately, no need to do so as she has so brilliantly captured it all!

It’s too bad I didn’t have the energy to try to work in some of the dialogue surrounding the discovery of the bat or the forgotten dog on the doorstep because it’s all very funny, but I feared that the cartoon might become more about the ways in which I’m turning into my mother than about the impact on the household our children make with their return home.

A Guide to Cute vs. Ugly

My daughter Grace and I have been discussing this concept for many years and this seemed like a good way to catalog some of the amazing things I saw during a recent trip to South Africa with friends.

From the very beginning, the the upper two quadrants have always contained animals, typically baby animals, while the bottom two quandrants have contained people. So it should come as no suprise that the only thing I encountered (including four snakes) that qualified for the Ugly quadrant was an all-around unpleasant American woman who happened to ride in our Rover one day. After several failed attempts to introduce ourselves, we gave up. We never did learn anything about her, except that her husband’s name was Bob.

In hindsight, and after going through my 2,200 photos, I do believe that baboons might also qualify to be put in this most unfortunate quadrant, but it’s too late now.

The Great Game of Women’s Tennis

Tis the season to move this one up to the top of the Vlog.  Originally published 4 years ago, there’s not much I’d change here other than to perhaps add a square that sends one backwards if they fail to wear an adequately supportive sports bra, but that’s about it.

As previously noted, above is the prototype for a board game I’m developing. I’ve still been too busy playing tennis to actually test it out, but I hope that it simulates the wild momentum swings that often occur in a match among middle-aged suburban women, along with all the various on court and off court goings on that make it a most vexing, yet addictively wonderful and amusing sport.

To enjoy reading this gameboard, you should start at the bottom and follow the path up from there. If you click on the image it should let you zoom in in case you’ve lost your reading glasses. If that doesn’t work, let me know and I’ll ask my tennis buddy Karen to help me fix it.



Things I Do to Calm Myself Down

I have been told by countless people during my life that I am “calm.” Friends, co-workers, even complete strangers — e.g. Cliff Drysdale, the voice of tennis after only five minutes of observation: “Christine you are very calm, I want to see you get angry with that overhead” — will comment that I am calm. And to that I will say, not necessarily and certainly not always. That said, an avid thumb sucker from birth until the ripe old age of seven, I learned quickly the benefits of being able to calm myself by the best available means.

I don’t know what got me thinking about this now, but who knows, maybe an examination of my calming techniques might prove useful to someone out there in Russia, which, according to Google Analytics, is where the majority of my blog readers reside.

Most of these calming methods have both their merits and their limitations. Cooking, cartooning, painting, and as noted, playing piano can trigger great frustration at times if too many mistakes are made. As for music, I have a strong preference for J.S. Bach to take the edge off, but it’s not guaranteed. English Suite No. 2 in A Minor – VII. Gigue, for example, is so devoid of rests, it actually causes my heart to race.

Bird watching too can be instantly ruined by a flock of marauding grackles or worse, a lone and hungry sharp-shinned hawk – beautiful, but not exactly calming when it swoops in to nab a beloved cardinal. Sitting with our dog Ivy is always effective, but we no longer allow her on the couch and she often smells like, well, a dog. Sometimes I’m just too lazy to weed, clean, or take a walk, and wine comes with calories and other unwanted baggage that must be considered.

Twirling a curl is the most primitive of my personal calming techniques and perhaps most like thumb-sucking – an absent minded response to whatever’s bothering me, but also hopelessly short-lived in its benefits.

So that leaves us with the mother-of-all-calming-devices, especially now that 221 full episodes are available on YouTube: The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. It’s not just his voice, or his goofy remarks, but the clacking of palette knife on glass mixing pigments, the methodical swishing of the “liquid white” paint — something completely foreign to me despite majoring in painting in college – back and forth over the canvas with the 2” inch brush, the soft scritching of a fan brush dabbing spruce trees to life. All I can say is it works like magic every time, unless that is, he starts painting a lopsided, hokey-looking cabin at the last minute. Now that makes me crazy.

Why I Love Thanksgiving

This post really should be called “Why I Love Drawing.”


Click on drawing to see full size version.


What I like is that you can look horizontally at what a particular person (or dog) spent their time doing all day, or you can look vertically at what everyone in the house was doing at the same time. Thanksgiving was a perfect day to try out a cartoon-graph like this.

The only detail I exaggerated somewhat is Aunt Betsy’s red wool cap. She took it off for dinner.

View as PDF

Going Tennis Mental

Going Tennis Mental

This is what happens when the wheels come off the mental bus on the tennis court. There’s no question that tennis is a head game. Some say 90% of what it takes to win is related to mental toughness and the ability to stay present, focused and positive. I can tell you that once the ghost-of-the-blown-shot works its way into the picture, it can become impossible to rationalize that the reason you’re losing is simply because your opponent is a lot better than you are.

Imagine if sportscasters could get inside a tennis player’s head and present stats on their every thought, the way they do their every move, during a match.

mental stats 2 I would love to see that!