Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Maven Session = Humiliation Session

I signed up for the Maven Sessions for an opportunity to take a wakeboarding class from a professional wakeboarder. I was very optimistic that with a little coaching, a real boat and professional gear, this could be me:

Yeah, that wasn't me. This was me:

I was very close to this being me:
The whole experience was in turns annoying, irritating, depressing and humiliating. First it was annoying because the pro-wakeboarders were late. The event was supposed to start at 9:00 and they didn't even arrive to set up until 9:15. Then it got irritating. Of the 11 girls there to learn to ride, there were 3 children, 1 mom and 7 of us in my approximate age range. Who did I get to ride with? You guessed it - the 3 children and the mom, while my 6 potential wakeboarding friends went in the other boat. Then it got depressing as the first rider in my boat - a 10 year old girl - let us know that she was there to try to land {insert name of a trick I've never heard of here} for her next competition. Yep, she could jump wake to wake and do ollie-180's and more shit than I can name. Then when it was finally my turn, it got humiliating. I sucked thoroughly and showed a prodigious talent for being utterly uncoachable. My last attempt knocked the wind out of me, knocked my feet out of my bindings and snapped my ponytail holder clean off. I landed face down in the water and my fear of drowning caused a minor panic attack. Humiliating, I tell you.

It's so depressing to want something so bad and then to underachieve so completely.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


I'm wrapping up the two week foster period with Sable, the slightly sketchy shepherd. She breaks my heart every day. She is so loving, affectionate and willing, but she just has some issues - thus the nickname "Disable" - that will make her an unlikely candidate for adoption in a shelter environment.

First of all, she definitely suffers from canine compulsive disorder, which manifests itself both in constant spinning and excessive itching/chewing of her skin. She primarily spins when she is in the yard with me. If I leave her outside she'll stop spinning, but mostly that's because she's standing at the door looking forlorn and wishing I would let her in the house with me. Last weekend I spent about an hour in the pool on Saturday and Sable spent about 50 minutes of that time spinning. I have since figured out that if I put down a towel for her and show her her "bed", she'll relax on the towel for long stretches. Today I was in the pool for three hours (hello, skin cancer...) and she was only spinning for about 3o minutes of that time. Exercise also helps minimize the compulsive behaviors. I have been taking her for a mile walk every morning and two miles every night. Pat pointed out that the spinning really doesn't hurt anyone so it's not a reason to not adopt her. However, right now there are 117 other dogs to choose from at the shelter - why would you pick the one that is spinning so much that she looks like an escapee from the mental ward? And even though it's manageable, why would someone choose such a high maintenance pet? And with behavior like this, she won't last long in the kennels before the shelter staff needs to pull her for a break. Hopefully that break doesn't involve euthanasia.

Her second issue is the "happy tail", which is where she wags her tail so hard against the wall that the skin splits open at the tip of the tail and bleeds. A lot. This is also manageable by keeping her tail wrapped in gauze and surgical tape at all times. I re-wrap her tail every other day. I was doing it twice a day, but I eventually perfected the art of the wrap and the materials to use for it to stay on. Again, with 117 other dogs to choose from, why would someone want one that is so high maintenance?

Third, she has a tendency to bark at strangers. This is a good trait for when I'm walking her at night - I feel very safe with her - but it's not such a good thing when you're looking for a home. This is a big problem with shelter dogs. When she barks, she is very intimidating and she will scare away the adopters. Perhaps she is only barking to protect me and in the absence of someone she considers "hers" she'll be more accepting. She did accept me right from the get-go and the shelter staff seemed to like her, so I'm hoping this is the case.

Fourth, she's iffy with other animals. I have to constantly monitor her with the kitty. It takes a long time for her to warm up to other dogs. She now pretty much ignores Frankie and Georgie except for the occasional attempt to dominate Frankie, which usually leads to me breaking it up before a full fight ensues. Frankie is pretty much on high-tension mode 24 hours a day right now and will choose to be in a different room a lot of the time. Today was the first time she attempted to play with Georgie - the dog that all dogs like - so that's definitely a positive sign. However, the shelter likes to have adopters bring their dogs to meet iffy dogs prior to adoption to make sure they'll get along. But if it takes two weeks for Sable to be comfortable with a dog, that's really not going to work.

The shelter has a program called SAFE (Saving Animals From Euthanasia) where they take kennel-stressed dogs and place them in a permanent foster home until they are adopted. This would be the ideal situation for her but right now there are a large number of dogs already occupying the SAFE foster homes.

Now, don't get me wrong - there are a lot of great things about this dog, too. When I let her out of her crate in the mornings and after work, she melts into a large german shepherd shaped puddle at my feet, wrapping herself around my ankles and asking me to pet her belly. She'll curl up on the couch with you and put her big ol' head in your lap. She's loyal and protective. She listens well and learns quickly. She has gone from jumping all over me to get her dinner to a full minute sit-stay until I release her to eat. She walks nicely on a leash (unless she sees a cat) and I already mentioned how safe she makes me feel. She really could make someone a great pet - but the chances of finding the right someone are not high.

Perhaps you're wondering why I don't just keep her instead of releasing her to an unknown fate. Believe me, I've thought about this a lot and have stressed over the point. I can't do it to poor Frankie - he's my initial responsibility and Sable stresses him out continually. I can't do it to Pat - he doesn't like big dogs as it is and I can foresee a great deal of relationship tension if Sable were to stay. I can't do it to all the other fosters out there. Sable's not the type of dog who will allow me to continuing fostering and there are so many animals that need help. And I can't do it to me. Since Sable has arrived, I've not slept more than five hours a night since I'm getting up early to walk her and staying up late to walk her and to make sure I spend adequate amounts of time with her. Don't think I don't hate myself for my selfishness.

So, an uncertain future is what awaits her. And that's why she breaks my heart.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The F Word

Well, yes, there was that F word - but then there was a much, much worse one.

The soccer team we played last night has some vicious little latinas. One was particularly out of control. She boarded Leah, she kicked Christy (intentionally) as hard as she could and was just generally mean the entire game. Towards the end of the game she body-checked me, so I shoved her back. José whistled me for the foul. We were right up against the wall by their team's bench and they were all so angry and offended that I'd retaliate against their do-no-wrong player. A girl on the bench said to me, "What the f*ck!!?" and the player I pushed said "Yeah, what the f*ck, FOUR-EYES!".

Yep, that's right, she called me "four-eyes"! Hee! José gave her a yellow card.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Seriously, The Most Fun I've Ever Had EVER!

Tonight was my birthday party/trapeze class. I LOVED IT! I know I could do this professionally. It's a shame that I am probably too old. Do you think Cirque de Soleil will believe me if I tell them I'm 22?

It is well after midnight right now and I have to be up at 6:00 am tomorrow to take the slightly sketchy shepherd named Sable for a walk before work. However, I'm so keyed up and excited after tonight's super fun adventure that I know I won't be able to sleep. And I really wanted to get the video uploaded so that I can watch it a million times over the next few days! See how cheesy-happy I am here?! This is pretty much how I looked all night!
I was nervous that the class would suck - $65 and a trip to Gilbert is really asking a lot of my friends. I thought maybe we'd only get to fly back and forth a few times and I was worried that it wouldn't be much more than what you can do at the playground. Let me tell you -- my worries were completely unfounded. Watch below and see for yourself. The first clip was the first thing they taught us. The second clip was the second thing they taught us. No baby steps here. It was amazing!!! If the video keeps stopping, you might want to try it directly on youtube - click here.

Was it scary? No, I didn't think so, though a few people were mildly jittery after their first run. Was it dangerous? Well, maybe. Of the six friends that joined me at Trapeze U, three of them went home injured. Jamie pulled a hamstring/groin/or something after 3 runs. Kiri lost her grip on the second run and went flying and scraped up both her knees sliding on the safety net. Angela tore up her hands pretty good - blisters everywhere. But the waiver we signed says that participants "often break their wrists or ankles" so it could have been a lot worse!

For those of you who came out to play with me - I will get you the full set of your videos and photos as soon as I can - I promise! In the meantime, here is one of each of you:




And a group shot with our crazy-good instructors and Patrick, our fabulous videographer:

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Jill Needs...

Google knows everything - including what you need. Type your name and "needs" into google and see what you need.

Here is the list of what I need:
1. Jill needs a roommate.
(Actually, nope, I've already got one)

2. Jill needs our help...one more time...let's do it.
(Well, okay, I'll take whatever help the internet wants to offer me)

3. Jill needs to be spanked!!!!
(Wow. 4 exclamation points. But I think they got me confused with Kiri)

4. Jill needs to STOP LOOKING.
(Intriguing. I wonder what I'm supposed to stop looking for? Makes me want to go look for whatever it is!)

5. Jill needs love!
(What?! I thought everybody loved me already! Besides isn't this what dogs are for?)

6. Miss Jill needs to go out.

This made me wonder what Pat needs. Google says:
1. Pat needs a break.
2. Pat needs a disaster.
3. Pat needs help please.
4. I think Pat needs his meds adjusted.
5. Pat needs plans for Friday night around 10:30.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Woo-Hoo! It's My Birthday!

OK, today is not really my birthday. But as you know from the last post, I didn't have much woo-hoo in me on my actual birthday. And besides - all the fun celebrations are happening this weekend so as far as I'm concerned, it is still my birthday! Woo-Hoo!

Maybe I'm feeling so much better because I got all these yummy treats for my birthday. There's so much sugar in my system that it's physically impossible to feel down.

A friend of mine pointed out that 37 is a prime number and I'm still in my prime. Since "still in your prime" sounds like something you'd say to your grandma or great-grandma on her birthday, I was a little offended by the implication, but I'm going to run with it anyway.

Most people think their prime is in their early 20's, but I'm thinking my friend is right - my prime is now. My early 20's were pretty much a joke - I didn't do much of anything. I'm almost bitter about all the opportunities I wasted. The only two things I accomplished in my 20's worth mentioning are 1) getting my first dog, thus starting me on my lifelong path as a dog-person and 2) meeting my NFBFs - we've been friends for 16 years now! Yeah, I graduated from college, too, but that's neither here nor there. However, since then I am proud to say I have become a joiner of the highest degree. If there is something going on - I want to be a part of it. If being in your prime means living life to the fullest, then I am still in my prime.

In the past 10 years I have tried the following activities to varying degrees of success:
1. Swing dancing - this was my obsession for many years and through swing I met my husband, most of my Phoenix friends and Ashley Judd. We belonged to a "professional" troupe, we performed a lot, we competed, we traveled.
2. Hockey - it started with roller hockey on the tennis courts, then progressed to roller hockey leagues and then to ice hockey leagues. I never got good, but I played a lot!
3. Soccer - how is it possible that I never played soccer before I was 30? Not even in gym??!! When I was little, my best friend played but it never occurred to me to ask my parents if I could play, too. Now, I play on 7 teams a week.
4. The Pack (nee Puck Patrol) - the Pack is the spirit team for the Phoenix Coyotes. It's sort of like a cheer squad, without the cheering. We ran the intermission games, we shot t-shirt cannons, we hosted all the in-crowd contests and we got to wear cute little outfits. This is one of the things that I am too old to do now. Hell, I was too old when I did it at 31!
5. Rock Climbing - I've only gone a few times but I loved it! Unfortunately, I'm not ready to invest the time and expense it requires.
6. Agility - ah, dog sports! I did take one class more than 10 years ago, but my dogs didn't like it very much and then I spent many years with old dogs. Now that I have Frankie, things are good.
7. Wakeboarding - as you know, I LOVE to wakeboard. This is one of those things I wish I would have tried when I was young - maybe I could have been good.
8. Travel - This isn't to say I didn't travel before but it's been taken to a new level since the invention of Travel Troupe. We go abroad with our friends once a year. We've hit Europe and Central America so far. South America will be added in October. Woo hoo!
9. Book Club - I think I've expounded enough about this here on my website.
10. Fostering Dogs - I put a lot of heart and soul into these homeless pups. It's fun, it's challenging, it's time-consuming, it's tiring and it's so very rewarding! And I always get to have a new dog.
11. Adventure Racing - Again, I've covered this pretty extensively on here, but you should know I'm actively training for the next one. By actively training, I mean I took my bike out on the mountain for 20 minutes on Monday and I didn't die. By mountain, I mean the trail leading up to the base of the mountain.

Things I've tried that didn't really work out:
1. Rowing - despite my high hopes, this was short lived. Getting up at 5 in the morning to drive across town to show a boatful of people how uncoordinated I am really wasn't fun.
2. Roller Derby - I thought this was going to be the greatest thing ever for me. However, before you can compete, you have to practice. And let me tell you, skating in a left-handed circle repeatedly for an hour is so very boring! That was the end of that.
3. Tennis - I was playing every week for a while but my partner moved to California and now I just don't have any free time. Too bad though, because I do have a couple really cute tennis outfits.
4. Sign Language - I took a class. I sucked. I guess I won't be leaving my job to work part-time as an interpreter. Bummer.

And just when I was starting to think that I've done everything out there, I've got plans for two new activities this weekend.
1. Rally Obedience - I had thought this was only for purebred dogs competing in AKC, but an agility friend of mine told me about a venue that lets mixed breeds compete and they are having a seminar tonight. Frankie and I have a lot of work to do on obedience, but I think I'll sign up to compete in the trial in October.
2. Trapeze Class - Yep, that's right! Sunday night is my birthday party and some of my super-cool, non-height-fearing, lots-of-spare-cash friends are joining me for a trapeze lesson. I thought I'd get one or two people who were interested and instead SIX people signed up to play with me!! Check back next week for a recap!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


This post was supposed to be a big, jolly Happy Birthday to me, but I'm just not feeling it.

Do you ever have one of those days (or weeks) when you just don't like yourself much? When the sound of your own grating voice gets on your nerves? When you feel that the work that you do is subpar and the good you try to accomplish just turns to crap? When you just can't stop obsessing about something or someone and you know it's stupid, but you can't stop? And then when you try to bring the issues to light, even if just to yourself so that you can try to get over it, you just sound like a whiny ingrate, thus annoying yourself even further? No, you've never had that kind of day (or week)? Oh...um....yeah...me, neither.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Slightly Sketchy Shepherd Named Sable

I took Scarlet in to the Humane Society yesterday. Her adopter met us there. Yay - a happy ending for a stellar dog! Scarlet will have a little sister and a doting owner and a next door neighbor who provides afternoon play time for the dogs every day.

Lose a foster - gain a foster. The new one is a four year old German Shepherd named Sable. Her family lost their home and turned her in to the shelter. She's got bad skin and coat, she's undernourished and has recently had puppies. I am fostering her for two weeks while she recovers from kennel cough.

Sable is a little sketchy - she is OCD (she's a spinner). She is iffy with my dogs, not aggressive yet, but iffy. She obsesses over the cat. She is exceptionally strong, won't release toys and barks at strangers. I'm keeping an eye on the situation and hoping for the best. I'm going to alternate yard time between her and my pups for awhile and make sure the kitty is up on the counters before letting her in the house. (I've only got one kitty left and I need to make sure to keep him alive!!)

On the plus side, she loves her people like crazy. She immediately decided I was "her people" the minute she got in my car. When I got her home she wouldn't leave my side. She let me brush her and clean her ears. Later that evening I decided to give her a bath because her fur was pretty nasty. She loved it! She lay down on the grass and let me soap her all up and then stood nicely while I rinsed her off. She loves to cuddle and wants to be near me all the time. She goes in her crate nicely so far. I'm going to work on some obedience with her and definitely work on her OCD behaviors as much as I can.

Wish us luck! Pictures will be coming soon.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Good Night Sally

My deaf kitty, Sally, died last night and I'm sad. She was a nice, boring kitty, she lived a good, quiet life in a home that let her do absolutely nothing for 10 years, just as she wanted it. She died at her own chosen time. I was planning to take her to the Humane Society to have her put down on Saturday. It was her liver, most likely cancer. All her pretty pink parts had turned completely yellow in the past week. The vet said she was "walking on a tight rope across the Grand Canyon and the wind is blowing really hard". Well, the wind finally won last night and took away my lazy kitty.
Pretty kitty.

A yummy treat.

Sally didn't like the Santa hat!

This was about as active as she got:

She ruined all of our furniture. See the claw marks on this chest?

We loved her anyway.

Good night, Sally.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

It Looks Like a Q. Looks Can Be Deceiving.

My friend Vickie just sent me these pictures from an agility trial a few months back. Frankie looks like a superstar in these photos.

Great start!

I'm amazed that Vickie got photos with both me and Frankie in them. Usually I'm left standing by the A-frame and Frankie is zooming off 80 feet away going through a tunnel. But here, it appears as if Frankie is on-course. And he's getting a good solid contact - woo-hoo!
This one is particularly impressive because I am in front of Frankie. He hadn't yet left me in the dust. Or more likely, he had already finished zooming around his whole idea of a course and finally came back to be nice and let me have my turn at deciding where to go. And after all those zoomies, he must have been too tired to keep up with me.

Here he is, lickety-split off that teeter and over the jump to finish. It sure looks like a Q from the photos! I don't remember the exact results from this trial, but since we never Q, I'm pretty sure this run wasn't a Q. At least he looks good!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Slide Rock Will Give You a Big Wedgie.

Alternate Post Title: A Beautiful Day for a Birthday!

My ex-roommate Laura planned a trip to Slide Rock near Sedona for her birthday. It was a beautiful day as you can see! We slid down the natural water slide, though I took no photos of that part of the adventure. We jumped off varying sizes of cliffs, of which I took many photos. Since the sky was a clear blue, we teased Laura for worrying about the isolated thunderstorms that she said were in the forecast. We stopped teasing her when the thunder and lightning started.

This is Brad doing flips off the low cliff. He's pretty agile. The girl in the photo is responsible for this post title. After she jumped off the cliff she loudly proclaimed "That gave me a big wedgie!"

I'm not afraid of heights, but I am afraid of getting too deep in water and not being able to swim up to the surface. I once jumped off a 30-40' railroad bridge into a river and it was absolutely the scariest thing I've ever done. This cliff is more my speed, though I was still a bit scared to jump! (Maybe I am a wuss.)

Me and my boy collection:

Indiana Jones? Nope, just Craig jumping off the high cliff. I definitely did NOT attempt this one.

It took Laura a long time to build up her courage to jump, but she did it! She entered the water pretty much in the same position as she is here in midair. She got bruises on the backs of her thighs. I am not regretting my decision to pass this up.

We hiked further up the creek. It really was a beautiful day and a beautiful location!

Group photo:

I love this photo. The thunderstorms were rolling in, but the sun was still shining.
It was starting to rain as we took the obligatory "leaving Slide Rock" photo. I love summer rain in Arizona - it was a perfect end to a perfect day.

Click this picture to see the full album.
Laura's Bday at Slide Rock

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ava Helaine

My friend Nicole, the one who faints (literally, not figuratively) at the sight of a needle, the one who gets woozy when she sees a poster advertising a blood drive, had a baby yesterday. She said it was easy.

Pat's Smokyque

Pat bought a smoker. Because the big-ass barbecue grill, the little hibachi and the two camping grills he has just aren't enough for a manly man like Pat.
Pat had never used a smoker before. He didn't even know what kind of wood or charcoal to use. He didn't know what type of meat to smoke. He didn't know how to prepare whatever meat he chose. This lack of know-how didn't phase Pat one bit. He threw a party for the smoker test run. He invited people over for a smokyque, or if things didn't work out right, a pizza party.

Pat did a great job - calling my mom and doing some internet research really helped out! Here is the very yummy pork loin before we all devoured it. There were also two chickens and some sausages but they were gone before I got the camera out.The best part about this party was that it was Pat's party. Not OUR party, but PAT'S party. He invited the guests. He did the grocery shopping, he mowed the yard and cleaned up the patio, he set up the serving area and made the side dishes. I was a guest. Ok - I did pick up the dog toys that were all over the house and I made shrimp salsa, but my involvement was so minimal it was almost like I was a guest. Being lazy and lots of food? A winning combination, I'd say!

This is my friend Elaine. (Look at her adorable dimples!)
This is where my blue pool started turning green. 10 adults, 7 children, 1 dog and loads of sunscreen can really do a number on the chlorine level!
Next up for the smoker? A turkey for Thanksgiving!