Saturday, September 27, 2008

Taking A Vacation

Travel Troupe leaves tomorrow morning for a week in Brazil. I'm looking forward to seeing a soccer game, going to the beach (even if it's raining), eating lots of meat and most importantly - spending lots of time with my friends. I'm even looking forward to the plane rides - I really need a nap! The break from work will be nice, too.

I am sad to be leaving Frankie, Georgie and Al behind. Frankie and Georgie are going to spend the week playing with their friend, Gia, so hopefully they won't miss me too much. Al will be moping around the house with no one but our roommate to keep him company. Poor kitty.

History of Travel Troupe:

Paris- 2004

Costa Rica - 2006

London - 2007

Stay tuned for lots of Brazil 2008. Have a great week!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Gilmore Adventure Race - Preliminary Results

The preliminary results are in and Storming the Castle came in second out of five teams in the female 2-person team category!! Woo hoo!!

The full list with times and points isn't posted yet, so I don't know how we did against the teams in the other categories. Hopefully they will post that info soon!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The NHL Used To Be More Fun

The hockey season has started! Not surprisingly, my crappy Coyotes are 0-2 so far. Luckily, pre-season doesn't really count. It won't be long now until I'll be getting even less sleep thanks to DVR and the Center Ice package.

But no matter how much I love to watch hockey, it's no longer the same. It was way more fun when I used to be a Pack girl (originally called the Puck Patrol). Back then I got to be on the ice during intermissions, in the stands shooting t-shirts from the gun during TV timeouts, and I was thrilled to be a part of it all. I was Pack Captain my second season and then in the middle of the season, the game ops coordinator left and I was offered his job. I begrudgingly hung up my uniform. I maintained my duties with the squad, but I also oversaw all the promotions, pre-game activities and intermissions. I ran around with a radio and looked important. And most exciting, since I didn't have to be in the stands cheering with the crowd, I got to watch every game from the glass in the Zamboni tunnel. It was AWESOME. (Too bad the pay was so low that I had to take out a loan to pay for the gas to get to the arena).

But then the NHL lockout came and with it a big fat layoff for me (also known as a financial reawakening). When the lockout ended, all the management in the organization changed and I was not brought back. My bank account was happy but my heart was sad. And though I still love hockey and I love the's just not quite as fun.

This picture is from the inaugural Puck Patrol season. Wow, these uniforms were ugly! We didn't take professional photos the first year. The whole Puck Patrol program was treated like a red-headed stepchild by the organization. This was at Phoenix's Saint Patrick's Day parade with Charlie Simmer, the color analyst for the Coyotes back then:
Things got a little better the second year- we got much cuter uniforms and had official photos taken for the website:
This was at a promo event for something or other. I loved these red uniforms. I still have one if you want to borrow it for Halloween:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lessons in Adventure Racing

Alternate Post Title: Having Fun Storming the Castle!

Wow! Who knew that hiking and biking and running and orienteering non-stop for five hours could be so frickin' fun? I hate running - it's boring and pointless. I hate biking - it's scary and I'm bad at it. I LOVE adventure racing! Go figure.

Saturday was the Gilmore Adventure Race in Prescott. Our team name was Storming the Castle. If you have to ask what that refers to, I'm sorry, but you and I can no longer be virtual friends. Warning - the rest of this post is a long, detailed and potentially boring account of the race. If you aren't interested, it's enough to know that I HAD SO MUCH FUN!!! You have my permission to scroll down and just look at the pictures.

The race was divided into 5 checkpoints - 1 by foot, 4 by bike. There were 2 mystery events and a boot-camp type wall to scale at the finish line. To find the checkpoints, we were given a topo map and coordinates. We had to plot the coordinates and then find the destinations.

The race started at 9:00 am. The hike checkpoint was at the top of a mountain. We took a trail up but made the (incorrect) decision to head down the mountain via a wash. This proved to be quite a bloody task as the mountain was covered with bushes that would tear your skin for just looking at them funny. This is Irene's leg after the race. So, the going was slow and painful, but we finally got back on track - somewhat demoralized and convinced we were in last place. Adventure Racing Lesson #1: If there is a trail, even one that appears to be a longer route - TAKE THE TRAIL!

The first mystery event was to put together a puzzle of numbers. Irene and I rocked this challenge and were happy to see lots of people at the puzzle stop. We actually beat a lot of people there (surprising after our hike-down-the-mountain debacle) and then passed a couple of teams doing the puzzle.

We plotted our next two coordinates, hopped on our bikes and raced off to the next checkpoint - B1. I was very pleased that the route to the checkpoint was a dirt road - even I can ride on a dirt road! This B1 checkpoint was easy to find at a crossroads. We turned at B1 to head toward the next checkpoint. We kept bearing left as the road on the map showed and we kept ending up in dead-ends at the entrances to people's homes and ranches. The road was supposed to continue underneath a railroad tracks. We could see the tracks but there was no way to get to them. WTF? Lesson #2: Don't trust the map! New roads are built all the time and the maps might not be updated to show this!

Irene was in charge of the plotting and map-reading, as she is much better at this than I am. When I took a look at the map, I saw that the point she plotted was not exactly on the crossroads - the road appeared to be another 3o-40 yards past B1. Irene had figured that her plotting was just a bit off. I suggested we assume her plotting was correct and thus we needed to go past the first checkpoint and look for another road. By this time there were about 6 other teams who had come up to where we were stopped to discuss and look at the map. We were nice and told them that all the turns ahead led to dead-ends. We left them to make their own decisions with that info and retraced our route - and yep! There was the correct road just past the first checkpoint. Tricky little scoundrels those course-makers were! Lesson #3: Trust your plotting!

Getting to the next checkpoint, B3, was torturous. The road was uphill, extremely washboarded and we were riding against the wind. Have I mentioned that I hate bike riding? We beat most of the teams we had been bunched with to the checkpoint, so we were first to the mystery event. This event involved a ceramic tile with strings tied to each corner. We had to dip a coffee can into a bucket of water, place the can on the tile, and with each of us holding a string in each hand, we had to maneuver the tile and can to a water jug. The trick was that the tile had to be centered over a long, windy rope and if the tile swung too far over the rope, we had to go back and start over. If you spilled your water, you had to go back and start over. It took about 5 trips to fill the water jug. Well, it took us 6 trips because I got antsy right at the end of trip 3 and spilled our water can. Frick! There were 5 available event stations. When we were working, the other four were filled and a line formed with teams waiting their turns. It was awesome to know we were ahead of so many people!

Irene quickly plotted our next two checkpoints. Did I mention that she is a mapping genius?? B4 was the next stop. There were 3 ways to get there. The easiest route was to go back down the hill and take a path that went straight along the railroad tracks. Whee!! Down hill was nice. We got to the path by the tracks and it was gated and padlocked. Ergh. Event rules stated you cannot go through a locked gate. So we continued on to the second route. Frick! Another locked gate!! The options now were to go back the 2 miles we'd just come from the mystery event (uphill and against the wind again) or head back to our transition area and try to come at the checkpoint from the back. We talked to a few other teams in the same predicament and we all headed back to the transition area. We were able to get to B4 that way, but we went miles out of our way. If we had known what road we had intended to take ahead of time, we could have seen that those roads were locked and it would have saved a lot of time. Lesson #4: Plot all your coordinates at the beginning! And then remind yourself of Lesson #2: Don't trust the map!

The route to the checkpoint was a little trail that was really hilly and very sandy. I walked my bike a lot. I hate sand! Checkpoint B9, our final checkpoint, was miles away. We had to go back over all the hills we had just come over. Very depressing. By now it was 12:30. The race cut-off was 2:00. Irene was starting to get bummed out because we had wasted so much time. I kept pushing for us to just finish! I really wanted to go over that wall! Soon the path we were on turned into a rocky trail. It was horrible - I am horrible at steering and I swear I went over every large rock instead of around them. I finally got off the bike and ran along behind Irene. Thankfully she was pretty tired by then and wasn't going too fast. :)

Then we missed the checkpoint flag. The flag was in a tree at the bottom of a hill. I can barely ride my bike while looking at the path - there is no way I could ride it AND look up into the trees, so I saw no flag, only lots of rocks! Irene knew that we had gone too far when the path started to turn north. Another team came from the trail ahead of us and they told us that they'd gone too far and were coming back to search for it again. The good karma we threw out with helping people at the B1 checkpoint paid off. Lesson #5: Help others when they need it and the favor will be returned.

Thankfully, we didn't go too far out of our way, but Irene had really hit a wall. We stopped for a moment, she ate an apple and then started to feel better. I was starting to panic because it was 1:00 and I really wanted to go over that wall! And finish before the cut-off time, of course! We biked back to the finish line and we passed teams who were still heading to that last checkpoint. Yay! We weren't last! It took us about 25 minutes to get back to the wall and the finish line.

Before the wall, we had to go through this tiny tunnel. Teams in front of us were attempting to scale the wall. Each team had a length of rope as part of their required gear and all the teams were using it -to varying degrees of success. I am very proud to admit that WE ROCKED THAT WALL! The boys in the background of this picture commented that we did it faster than any other team and that we were the only team to not use a rope. They probably also mocked us for not bothering to take off our packs or our bike helmets, but I'm cool with that because I'm so proud of us!! Turns out the skills you learn in high school cheerleading come in handy sometimes! I climbed up to stand on Irene's shoulders, grabbed the top of the A-frame and hoisted myself up to a sitting position. She grabbed my foot and pulled herself up and over. Voila! We finished at 1:30 - ahead of at least a few other teams! Yay! Lesson #6: NEVER give up!

But "finishing" this race doesn't actually mean it's over! The second part of the race was freestyle navigation. We got another map with bonus checkpoints already plotted. You got extra credit points for each checkpoint you went to - as long as you returned by the 2:00 pm cut-off. We headed back out - Irene on her bike, me running. Did I mention I hate bike riding? The bonus checkpoints were really far away and widely scattered. We managed to get to one checkpoint that was up a dry creek bed - I do enjoy rock-hopping! It was then 1:45 - we made it back at 1:55.

Hooray for Storming the Castle! What an awesome experience!! This was the second-most fun I've had in a long time (because trapeze is seriously the most fun I've ever had ever!) When it was over I couldn't stop smiling! I was sooo excited! I can't wait until next year!!! Jamie - can I borrow your bike again next September?

Until then, I don't even want to see another bike!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mini Updates

  • If all goes as planned, Sable will be going to her new home tonight! Pat's friend came to meet her on Wednesday. She liked him, he liked her and he was able to control her on a walk. Yay for big strong guys!
  • I'm leaving tonight to go up to Prescott for the Adventure Race. My bike training sessions were definitely too few and far between. Irene is a saint to do this with me. Jamie is a saint for letting me wreck borrow his bike. I'm quite nervous about this race - wish me luck that I come back in one piece.
  • One week until Travel Troupe goes to Brazil! Yippee!!
  • I apologize to anyone who I offended with the below posting about my black heart.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My Black Heart

I am annoyed by children in the office. I know that some people (those whose hearts aren't black) are happy to see little tykes waddling down the halls and toddling around their daddies' offices. I, however, am distracted, annoyed and given to fits of outraged disgust at the mere presence of those little fingers and snotty noses. There can be all sorts of office noise going on - printers, phone calls, chatting secretaries, elevators dinging, etc, etc and the one noise that will rise above all to grate on my nerves is the ga-ga-goo-goo of a baby. Today there were two of them. Granted they were a happy duo which is better than a wailing singlet, but god help me - I just wanted to grab them from their mommy, put them in the elevator and hit "Lobby". Bye, bye babies.

Perhaps if they would let me bring my dogs to work, I wouldn't be so cynical about them bringing their children to work.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Anniversary Pictures

It is our anniversary tradition to return to Heritage Square where we got married and take pictures. My favorite pet boy, Jamie, joined us about halfway through to take over tripod duties. These are some of my favorites of this year's session.

This is when Jamie joined us. Pat broke his pose to give Jamie a big wave.
As part of the tradition, we try to wear something that represents our previous year together. Last year we brought our wakeboards, the year I made the Coyotes Pack we wore Coyotes jerseys, etc. This year we celebrated the little things that drive us nuts about each other. I'm driven nuts by the fact that Pat bought cowboy boots. And likes them. And wears them. Ugh. Pat is driven nuts by my incessant soccer schedule. He thinks seven games a week is excessive when I could be spending more time with him. I say that he can come play soccer if he wants to see me more often. This is the Rosson House. We weren't actually married in the house since that would have cut down our attendance from 150 to 15, but it sure is cute!
After the photo session we went to see a movie with Pet Boy Jamie and our friends, Steven (Pat's best man) and Elaine. I don't see many movies at the theaters so this was extra fun. We saw Burn After Reading. Loved it. And this is our anniversary present (and Christmas present and birthday present) to each other:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I CAN Keep a Secret!

This is Kevin.
He is the boyfriend of my sister, Anne. This is Anne.
In June when I was back home for the family reunion, Kevin told me a secret. I'm sure you all know that there is only one secret that a sibling's boyfriend would be willing to share. That's right - he was gearin' up to propose! He said, "Pretend this is a picture of Rachel," (his daughter) and he showed me a picture of the ring on his phone - with Anne and my parents right there. I said "Oh, Kevin! She is SOOO pretty! You are very lucky to have such a special little girl." And then I kept it to myself. Not a peep to my parents, my other siblings, not even Pat. Yep, that's right - I kept a secret!

Three months later, Kevin has popped the question, Anne has answered in the affirmative and soon Rachel will be another grandchild to add to the family, which will hopefully be enough to keep my mother off my back for a little while longer about my decision not to breed. Oh, and there will be a WEDDING! I love weddings!

Welcome to the Little Diamond family, Kevin! Congratulations to you both!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I Am My Own Rescue Organization

Anyone want a German Shepherd?

A few weeks ago I returned Sable (Disable), the slightly sketchy shepherd, to the Humane Society. I told them about her behavior issues being a little bit more than "kennel stress". I should have kept my mouth shut. In the end, Sable did not pass the behavior evaluation and was therefore not approved for adoption. The Humane Society contacted all the possible rescue organizations - they were all full and could not take Sable. The H.S. even had the police come out and test her for police work, but they found her to be too environmentally focused so they couldn't take her. All roads were leading to a dead end, pun intended.

I just couldn't let her be put down, so I contracted with the Humane Society as my own rescue organization. They spayed her and signed her over to me. I'm now searching for a home for her.
Sable on a table

Since coming back to live with us about two weeks ago, Sable has seemed to regress instead of progress in some areas. She is no longer tolerant of Frankie (which may not be entirely her fault as he is no longer tolerant of her, either). She still likes Georgie. I now keep two separate dog households going - which is tedious and somewhat difficult. Sable has also become very dog-reactive when we are out walking. I don't know if this is a symptom of her regressing or if it's just that with the cooler weather there are now more dogs out for walks. Either way, it's hard for me to control her when another dog is in the vicinity. I'm building up very strong arm muscles! On the plus side, she has not gotten up on the table since she's come back.

I signed her up for obedience classes that start on Monday, but I don't think I will be able to control her around the other dogs, so I'm going to hire a trainer to come to the house instead. I'm not a big fan of that kind of training, but I could use the help and I don't think her current state of reactiveness will be conducive to learning in a group class. I'm going to take Frankie to the class in Sable's place - maybe the structure of obedience will help teach him that we are a team out on the agility course and that he is not a one-man show.

I've got a potential home lined up for Sable and I'm crossing my fingers that it's going to work - I'm crossing them so hard that they are starting to cramp up. A friend of Pat's, a big strong guy who likes to run and hike, is going to keep Sable at his house while we are in Brazil. If he likes her, he will keep her. He has no other dogs, so this would be a good situation for her. He lived with a friend of mine for a few months when he first came back to Phoenix. She has 2 large, somewhat crazy, kind of naughty dogs and he loved those dogs, so perhaps Sable is his type of gal. Wish us all luck - me, the friend and Sable - that this situation will work out!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Nine Years

Nine years ago today, I married this guy:
Isn't he cute? He's also fun, understanding, inquisitive, eager, open, honest, goofy, willing, easy-going, helpful, tolerant, trusting and trustworthy. And he loves me. It's been a good nine years.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Teaching Smokers and Irresponsible Dog Owners a Lesson

A couple stories from the good ol' days:

When I was a senior in college, Christy and I shared a house with a guy we knew from work, Chip. There was also another roommate, 2 significant others, 6 dogs, 4 cats, a ferret and multliple tanks of fish and snakes, but they aren't relevant to this story. By the end of the year, Chip was no longer someone we would consider a friend. One weekend, Chip decided to have a party. We agreed to the party with one rule - no smoking allowed inside the house. Christy just got brand new This End Up furniture that week, in preparation for our moving out. The last thing she wanted was brand new cushions ruined with nasty cigarette smoke.

The party was big and loud and annoying, but really no big deal. We stayed upstairs and didn't have to deal with any of the people. I eventually went to bed and I think I even slept a little, until I smelled smoke. Not the oh-no-the-house-is-on-fire smell of smoke, but the those-bastards-are-smoking-in-the-house smell of smoke. I was pissed!! Christy's brand new furniture! I was gonna kill Chip! So, I promptly got out of bed and went immediately stomping down the stairs ready for a tussle. I was so mad that I didn't even bother getting dressed first. I stalked into that party... wearing only a t-shirt and panties... and I said absolutely nothing, but I grabbed every single couch cushion, even the ones people were sitting on, and took them upstairs. I'm pretty sure I had to make two trips.

Nothing says angry like a half-naked girl stealing people's cushions right out from under them! And, boy did those smokers learn a lesson that night! Now they know that if they want to smoke then they must sit on hard wooden seats. So there!

Dog Poop
If you have a dog, you are responsible for picking up its poop. It's that simple. Except, for some people, it's not that simple.

I was in my living room one day and I saw a girl jogging with her dog. The dog pooped in my yard. The girl studiously pretended not to notice -- which was strange since she had to slow down her pace til she was practically jogging in place -- then continued with her run. Oh, no you don't, missy! I got a baggie and went out and picked up the poop. I then got in my car and drove around the neighborhood until I found the runner and her dog. I pulled up, got out and approached her. She looked surprised and even stopped running. I said, "Hey, your dog pooped in my yard and you didn't clean it up, so here you go," and I handed her the bag of poop. Which she took. Without another word between us, I got back in my car and drove away.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Photos from Pinetop

After the agility trial, Pat and I stayed in Pinetop on Sunday night with a plan to go hiking on Monday. Neither of us felt much like hiking since everything was so wet - most annoyingly our shoes and every pair of socks we packed - which for me was EIGHT pairs! For three days! I'm telling you it rained A LOT. Instead, Pat and I drove around the White Mountains area and took in the views of some lakes, the ski mountain and an old, burned out lumber mill. Here is what we saw:

It was all quite beautiful, well except for that very creepy doll with the blanket and stuffed animal in a high chair in the abandoned warehouse - that was just weird. But the best sight I saw that day was this, indicating that I had happily returned to the very welcomed hot, hot Phoenix weather:

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Agility Trial = More Humiliation

Frankie is so frustrating. I swear he is good in practice, but then we get to a trial and he is just horrible! I've got some nice video that I will post soon of Frankie running at top speed going through every tunnel he can find, while off-screen and nowhere near my crazy dog, you can hear me screeching "Frankie, HERE!" The Frankie Say Relax t-shirt that I was wearing just didn't work the magic I was hoping for.

We ended up Q'ing in 3 out of 10 runs. Two were gamblers runs, which is Frankie's only real agility talent. The main point is for your dog to complete as many obstacles as he can in a 30 second time frame. Each obstacle is worth a set number of points - jumps are 1, tunnels are 3, etc. Most people design a course for their dog to follow that will maximize their point collection in the time allotted. Personally I just let Frankie run willy-nilly since he's going to do so anyway and it seems that I still qualify every time. Setting a course for him would be a waste of time as he obviously believes that his course is better. That tunnel - the one WAY on the other side of the course? Yeah, to Frankie that looks like a good place to start. My lack of control and horrible handling are so frustrating, but at least I get to take home a ribbon or two.

We did Q in one of the jumpers courses - which is comprised of all jumps (clever name, huh?) so there are no tunnels or contacts to distract him or any weave poles for him to completely blow off. This once, I was able to corral Frankie enough to keep him on the right course. When he does listen to me, he is one of the fastest dogs out there. They compute the dogs' yards-per-second and Frankie's YPS was 5.62. Only a few dogs were higher than that and they are 1) border collies and 2) in the advanced classes. And that is why I keep doing it - once I can consistently keep him under control, I will ALWAYS win. And I like to win. Now if someone could just teach me to keep him under control!

I had a number of people tell me how much they like watching Frankie run. What they really mean is that they are glad it's my dog who is providing the comic relief, not theirs. I'm sure it is fun for them to watch him completely ignore me and zoom all over the course every time he goes out there. Oh, the joy he exhibits! But for me, it's just embarrassing. I have been doing agility with Frankie for two years now. The first year everyone blamed his crazies on being a young dog. He is now FOUR - plenty old enough to PAY ATTENTION! And I swear, he really does do well in class. Like my wakeboarding experience last week, it is frustrating to want something so bad, to practice so much and to still really suck at it.

It rained all weekend. It was nice for the first 2 hours of the trial both days, but then Mother Nature had other ideas and dropped boatloads of rain on us. On Sunday, it was so bad that they postponed the trial for a couple hours. It cleared up momentarily and then the rain started to pour again. Lots of people gave up and went home. Those of us that stayed had to pitch in double-duty to run the show. I ended up being ring crew for just about every run other than my own. I was pretty much impervious to the rain by that time because I was wearing this lovely outfit:You can't see it, but instead of socks I am wearing poop bags to keep my feet dry, too.

Other than the weather and the humiliation on the agility course, it was a good weekend. My friend Vickie only needed one more Q to get the top agility honor - the Merit of Excellence - and she got it and it was awesome! She cried, I cried, she got to do a victory lap in the rain, everyone was happy. A few other teams have earned their MEX in DOCNA, but Vickie and Kaylie are the first team to start from the beginner level and work their way up. The others were grandfathered in at a higher level due to their titles in other venues. Ironically, the only run she needed to Q in was gamblers (perhaps Frankie could give them some pointers). See Vickie's video here:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Three Things That Should Never Happen In August

1. You should never be able to see your breath.

2. You should never have to turn on the heater in your car.

3. You should never wish you had a pair of gloves.

Unfortunately, all these things happened this past weekend. We went to Pinetop, AZ for an agility trial and it was C-O-L-D!!