Monday, April 27, 2009

Heaven's A Poppin' Now!!

Frankie Manning died. I am sad. I am at a loss for words to express how much of an impact he had on my life.

Frankie had more charisma, energy and enthusiasm for dancing and for life than anyone I have ever met. He was an amazing man! He danced til the end - at age 94! I love Frankie!!

If you don't know, Frankie Manning was one of the original Lindy Hoppers at the Savoy Ballroom in the 1940's. In the 1980's and 90's he brought the Lindy Hop back, traveling all around the world teaching workshops. You can check him out here in a 1941 movie called Hellzapoppin:

Frankie Manning came to Phoenix to teach a weekend workshop every year for the past 12 years or so. It was at Frankie Manning Weekend 1999 where the photo above was taken. It was taken right after Pat proposed to me. Our dance troupes had performed a few routines and in the last routine, in front of 300 people, Pat stopped dancing, got down on his knee and took a ring out of his pocket. Then Frankie took the stage and led us all in the Shim Sham. That old man sure could move!!

Frankie also taught at Swing Camp every year. For seven straight years we went to Catalina Island the first weekend in June. It was an awesome tradition and it was a blast. The instructors would perform at the big Saturday dance. Even in his late 80's Frankie was doing lifts. I'm telling you, that man was the everything!

I miss the swing days. And now I miss Frankie. His infectious laugh and awesome smile will forever be an inspiration to all of us who met him and learned from him.

Keep swinging, Frankie Manning!

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Baseball, baseball, baseball. Baseball on Saturday, baseball on Sunday. This was a weekend of baseball.

My little intern Tom plays baseball for the Arizona State University Club team. Saturday was their last home game, so the whole marketing department planned to make I Heart Tom shirts and big "GO TOM" signs and utterly embarrass the poor kid with yelling and cheering. Little Intern Tom is happy that all those plans were just big talk. It ended up being just me and Nathalie at the game, no fancy t-shirts, no signs at all. We did yell and cheer though! Especially when Tom hit what ended up being the game-tying run in the 9th: Hurray, Tom!! They ended up winning. Nathalie and I believe it was the good luck vibe we brought to Little Intern Tom.

Oh, and "little" Tom is actually quite tall:
On Sunday, I went to the Diamondbacks game with Pat, Jamie and Christy. NFBF was initially invited but he turned me down because he was already going with all the kids for Little League Day. They sat way up in section 319. We sat way down low in the dugout box area - nice!

Christy and Pat (This picture of Christy cracks me up because she's simultaneously trying to smile and get caramel out of her teeth):
Me and Jamie (no caramel):
I didn't have a caramel apple, but I did have a chocolate chip cookie as big as your head.
Just like with Saturday's game, I brought the good luck vibe. Taking a cue from Little Intern Tom, the Diamondbacks tied the game in the 9th. They ended up winning in the 12th - which was a very significant win. Significant for me anyway. Why? Because Jamie was so convinced that they were going to lose that he said "If the Dbacks come back and win this, I will play soccer again." Hee! Get out your soccer shoes, Jamie! We really need you on Sunday! He actually owes me two leagues - perhaps he shouldn't be so cocky with his baseball knowledge. He also told me that if a runner didn't run, he'd play soccer again. The runner didn't run. So, Jamie, the game time is 8:40 on Thursday. See you there!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Stuff White People Like: Book Clubs

My book club is very WHITE. Who needs diversity anyway? As a matter of fact, we like to celebrate our whiteness with white themed meetings.

Example 1
We just read Devil in the White City by Erik Larson - a dual story about the World's Fair in Chicago and a serial killer. The food theme was Taste of Chicago and the dress theme was white - like a P.Diddy party. And here we are, white as white can be. A bunch of white girls in white. The long browned hair girl who looks kinda Hispanic in this picture? Nope, she's white. But she is Jewish, does that count as diverse?
Oh wait, here's our diversity! A white girl wearing black!

Example 2
A few months ago we read Blindness by Jose Saramago. Everyone in the book goes blind and their blindness is white. We decided that all white food would be appropriate:

Example 3
We put the white in White Trash.

White Trash was the theme for The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. The book is about a race car driver. He's not NASCAR, but car racing is car racing, right? Our white trash food - McDonald's (served in the bag, of course), pizza, wings, Oreos, hot dog corn bread muffins, and stuff made with lard:

While Jagermeister, the ubiquitous white trash beverage staple, was offered, Kiri chose the very white trash combination of wine and oreos. Ew. Classy!

Who is this non-white girl? It's Grace! She was in our book club but ditched us because we were too white.

Just kidding! She moved to California and now cries herself to sleep every night from the emptiness and loneliness she feels since she left our book club.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me was one of the defining albums of our high school years. And because of this and because there were 3 of us, KM3 became the name for my threesome of super-cool high school friends for Saturday's Women's Adventure Race.

Maysoun came from Manhattan and Laura came from Chicago to compete with me. It was a blast spending the day with them and showing them how fun adventure racing is!

I made shirts, though I didn't do a very good job:
The race was held at Saguaro Lake. It included hiking:

and biking:
and rafting:
For poor Laura, it also included puking, but I have no photos of that. She puked on the bike ride and she puked on the lake. Poor girl! We thought perhaps it was morning sickness, but a later test proved that theory to be wrong. I guess the combination of Thai food, Mexican food and a whole lot of heat and sun (of which there hasn't been much of in Chicago lately) were the culprits. But despite feeling like absolute crap, Laura hung in there and did the whole race!

Hey! Do you know what these are:
That's right... SAGUAROS!

Do you know what these are:If you answered SAGUAROS, ding! ding! ding! You are right again!

The race also had some mystery events. On one of our first orienteering treks we had to fill a bag with 40 pounds of sand and bring it back to the transition area. After the mountain biking and hiking portions, we had to walk on plank skis around a cone. This took much concentration!

Later we had to load up a sled with 4 of the sandbags and pull it around the cone and back.
Then we had to take a 5 gallon bucket and fill a 32 gallon garbage can with lake water until the water overflowed. The clue read that you could not displace the water with a non-living thing. Filling up the can:
Displacing water with a living thing:
The rafting section came after this. I took the solo raft and Maysoun and Laura took the double. Perhaps I suck at rafting or perhaps the single raft and the kayak paddle were not compatible equipment, but it was very slow going. Finally, Maysoun tied my raft to hers and she paddled the three of us back to the finish line. What a superstar she is!

And speaking of finish lines, we came in 3rd for our division! We got medals!
This is where I should probably mention that there were only 4 teams in the 3-person division. We were 12th out of 16 overall. Not quite as impressive-sounding as 3rd!! :) I should also probably mention that Christy and Leah beat us by 50 minutes (!) and came in 6th in the 2-person division!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pardon the Hiatus

I know your life has sucked for the past week without the regular entertaining updates here at A Little Diamond. I apologize for the delay. My high school friends have been in town and we've been quite busy doing things like hanging out and catching up and getting 3rd place in our division in an adventure race.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Adventures of I LOVE KAYAKING

Look at this! I'm kayaking! And I'm having fun.
Trade in a river for a lake, a cold day for warm sunshine, an inflatable monstrosity for sleek, hard plastic and crap oars for cool black ones.... and magic happens. It turns out that I DO like kayaking. Add in a dose of good friends and the most beautiful surroundings you can imagine and you have the ingredients for a perfect day.

It really was a perfect day. I LOVE KAYAKING!

Here is my dose of good friends...such a willing and adventurous bunch!
The fun started before we even got in our kayaks.

Once we finally got in the lake, we found that the kayaks took a little getting used to. The water was quite cold and we really hoped we wouldn't end up in it. Craig was a bit nervous at first - well, quite scared actually, of tipping over and falling into the cold lake.
Here is Pat in an inflatable monstrosity. He wanted a more stable kayak to ensure that there would be no tipping himself over into the really cold lake.

Laura went with the sleek, hard plastic. Unlike the rest of us, she was not scared of falling in. As a matter of fact, after about an hour of kayaking, we stopped at a little beach to eat and hang out and she went swimming. Intentionally! Crazy.
David and Iren got a double inflatable monstrosity. The inflatable kayaks are very slow and very hard to maneuver. It was even harder in a double, but they did great!

We kayaked for quite a while. I have no idea how to measure water distance or kayak time, so I have no idea how far we went, but I can assure you it was not 9 and a half miles like I did two weeks ago. Perhaps this was also a part of why today was so much more fun than last time!

On our way back, we stopped to do a little hiking. David, Iren, Laura and I climbed to the top of this hill. Wow, what a view! I love Arizona so much! This was an extra dose of the most beautiful surroundings you can imagine.
Be careful where you step or you might step on this.

I was about an inch from squishing this poor guy. For a moment, I thought he was dead, but then he slithered off the trail.

A pretty successful trip so far... no one got bit by a snake and no one fell in the lake!

As we neared the dock and waited for our slow-poke friends in the inflatable monstrosities to catch up, Laura and I tested Craig's strength. We both grabbed on to the back of his kayak and made him tow us. He actually got up some speed and we went a fairly good distance. It took all of his effort. When we finally gave in and let go, an exhausted Craig leaned back in his kayak to rest. Not such a good idea! Kayak tipped! Ha! Craig fell in! Hilarious!!
And then the fun was over much too soon. This was one of the best days ever! I love my friends, I love Arizona, I love weekends, I love that I have the ability to go adventure-seeking and what do you know? I love kayaking.

We went out to eat on the way home where Laura memorialized our wonderful day.

And for those of you who stop by my blog just to see what the pups are up to...they had some fun today, too. We went for a long hike this morning and though there was no bunny chasing, there was some lizard chasing. They are happily curled up in various spots around my feet right now.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


There's this really big guy who plays soccer. Seriously, huge. I come up to about his shoulder. I think his name is Mike. Tonight he took a shot, a really HARD shot and I blocked it. With my face. I didn't block it on purpose, I didn't even see him kick it. The only thing I saw was a ball in my face. If I had seen it coming, I would have ducked.

But I didn't see it coming and I didn't duck. It hit me vertically square between my jaw and my eyebrow on the left side of my face. I don't remember falling, but I must have because I was on my back feeling completely numb and I was unable to move my lips to speak. I thought for sure that I had a broken cheek bone or lost some teeth at the very least. Ouch!!

Ha! Nope. Nothin' but a teeny, tiny little scratch on my eyebrow from my glasses. My glasses, which went flying about ten feet, weren't even broken.

I am indestructible. Good to know.

Take note.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I Am A Good Friend

I know it's gotta get a little old playing games with me because, well, you know, I always win. It's not my fault that I am better than you.

But because I am a good friend, on Friday night I let someone else win. The game was SuperSpeed UNO. I started off the first few rounds in my usual place at the top of the leaderboard, because well, you know, I'm better than you. But then I let my competitive streak lie low and let someone else take the limelight for a while. Sarah and Wayne (who aren't nice like me) did not reign in their competitive spirits and they showed no mercy on the table.

SuperSpeed UNO is a dangerous and cut-throat game. We considered the night a success as there were no trips to the hospital. However, Wayne did suffer a sprained pinky finger, courtesy of Sarah, and there were multiple shouts of "Hey! No elbowing out!" If any game needed a referee, this was it!

In the end, after some whole-table plotting against Sarah (that sadly repeatedly backfired to screw poor Jen), the last crazy hand shook everything up. I allowed Brent, the nicest player in the game, to take the victory. See, aren't I a good friend? Sarah got second by two measley points and I fear she is still wallowing in bitter defeat. And Wayne? Maybe I'm not that nice of a friend because I am now going to gloat....YEP! I beat him. Ha!

My good-friendness didn't stop on Friday. Nope, my generosity and all around awesomeness carried over to Saturday. See - everyone knows I hate kids, right? But then how can you explain this picture? Me surrounded by a bunch of kids and .... smiling???It's because I'm a good friend! The NFBF's had a birthday party for their daughter that included a neighborhood treasure hunt with clues and games. I agreed to let my house be a stop on the hunt and to be the activity monitor. You read that right. I willingly gave up part of my Saturday to spend time with a bunch of kids. Wow, I AM a good friend!

The two teams each had to put together a Winnie the Pooh puzzle before I could give them their next clue. I am so Phil Keoghan.

As if that's not enough...then I drove all the way across town to entertain a bored Laura with a game of Scrabble. And that is where I drew the line. I can't be nice all the time. So I trounced her. Sorry, Laura!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Pets Are Famous

Check them out!

If you are looking for dog walker/pet sitter in the Phoenix area, give Jen a call. She's the best! Mo, Frankie, Georgie and Al all love her. I think Pat does, too, but that's a different story...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cosmically Glum

I've been feeling cosmically glum for the past few days. It seems that whenever a bad mood comes around, bad things start happening, making the bad mood even deeper and darker. It wouldn't have taken much to push me over the edge yesterday, but it seems like the badness just wouldn't quit.

First, I was in Scottsdale doing venue site visits and I got a fricking parking ticket. I wasn't parked illegally, but apparently I have neglected to put my registration sticker on my license plate so I was ticketed for parking an unregistered vehicle on Scottsdale city streets. Don't you think that my tags are a matter for the DMV, not for the City of Scottsdale? Ergh. I hate Scottsdale. Come to think of it, the last time I was in a mood this bad, I got a speeding ticket in the mail that day. God, I can't afford to be in a bad mood!!

Then, I went hiking with the dogs when I got home in an effort to exercise away my bad mood. We were finishing up the hike, it was getting dark. There was a bunny on the trail that I didn't see, but Frankie sure did. I should have been paying closer attention because I know that all the bunnies come out to play at dusk. Frankie pulled the leash right out of my kayak-blistered hands and took off running. It was terrible. When we are at obedience class that dog has an amazing recall. He even does ok at the park with kids and other dogs around. But with a running bunny as a distraction - no way. He did not respond to my calls. He was gone! It was almost dark out, I couldn't see or hear him. Gone! I tried not to panic as I trailed after him, but my heart was beating a million beats per second and I was on the verge of tears. Thank god for Georgie. Who knew that she has what it takes to be an excellent tracking dog? She was pulling as hard as she could trying to catch up with Frankie and the bunny. After about 10 minutes of scrambling through the brush along a dry wash, she led me right to a forlorn Frankie, staring sadly into a hole. The bunny escaped. I went home feeling stupid and stressed from the scare.

And finally...I didn't eat lunch yesterday. I was leaving the office early for the site visits, so I just ran out of time. No problem. I was planning to go to the mall to get my glasses fixed later and any trip to the mall means I get rewarded with Chick-Fil-A. Mmmm, yummy. I was looking forward to this all day!! But I get to the mall Chick-Fil-A is now closed. CLOSED. It took much will power not to lay down in the fetal position, moaning and rocking right there outside of Hot Topic. Ok, this might be a little thing that would hardly make a blip in a normal day, but with everything added up, I am totally broken hearted.

And cosmically glum.