Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I know I haven't posted anything in a while. This is because my brain is empty. Completely empty. I've been stressed and grumpy and preoccupied lately. I think about things I could/should post but then I dismiss them because I really don't have anything of substance to say. I am a classic case of BLAH.

But because I feel completely guilty, here are some mini-updates to keep you mini-ly updated.

  • We still have Chico. He was neutered, had lots of teeth extracted, had his cherry eye fixed and his hernia removed...all at once. Lots of procedures for a 7 pound dog. His eye doesn't want to heal, so we are keeping him a bit longer than planned, giving him drops and enjoying his company. The shocking news is that he has stopped humping! I've always thought that by middle age a humping dog would not be affected by neutering because humping has become a habit as much as an urge. But I guess I was wrong. Frankie is happy about that.
  • Pat's hockey team is so good that they have been kicked out of the C league and moved up to the B league. And this happened even before playoffs! The championship game is this Saturday. I think it will be funny if they lose. Will the other team have to move up the B league instead then?
  • Our roller hockey season is over. Thank god. It was fun to play again with the old team...but damn....roller really sucks after making the switch to ice. If I ever play hockey again, it will only be on ice.
  • My birthday sucked. My birthday weekend (the Oyster Race, see post below) was good, but the actual day really blew.
  • My work is the most stressful place to work right now. I won't go into the full specifics but I will say it's not the job or the work itself that is stressful.
  • I haven't won the lottery yet. And I really want to. Why isn't a great degree of wanting ever enough?? Jeez.
  • I looked at the agility trial schedule and it appears that I have something already planned for every trial weekend this fall...stuff like my sister's wedding and a trip to New Orleans (see below). Ergh. Frankie won't compete again until December or January.
  • Christy and I have decided to compete in the Championships of the Great Urban Race that we qualified for in the Phoenix race (read about it here). The event is November 7th in New Orleans. Anyone out there know much about New Orleans? Feel free to pepper me with your knowledge.
  • I returned the Blackberry Storm. I gave it three weeks and I hated it as much at the end as I did at the beginning. I'm pleased to say that the nice guy at the Verizon store took it back with no hassle. I dropped it twice in those three weeks and it looked a bit beat up.
That's it. It's past midnight now. I need to go to sleep. (But I don't want to...cuz once you go to sleep, the next thing you're awake and you have to go to work again. And that is depressing.)

Monday, August 17, 2009

More Denver

The Denver trip wasn't only about the Oyster!

On Friday during our city explorations in preparation for the race we saw this cool mural.
We stopped to make the acquaintance of this little fellow. A squirrel after my own heart. Mmmm...Hershey's chocolate!
And we stopped to smell the flowers:

And there were naps (NFBF and Pat enjoying a bed made for short people):
For me especially, there was lots of sleeping. I was emotionally hung over from my sucky birthday and add to that the big race and you get a very tired Jill. Bed early on Friday, nap on Saturday after the race, bed early on Saturday and COULD NOT get up on Sunday. I think I was in bed for 10 hours straight. When you compare that to the five or six hours of rest I get on a normal night, that is practically an overdose! I even contemplated skipping the Sunday fun, in favor of MORE sleep, but I felt guilty for missing out on Denver when it was only a weekend trip. So I dragged myself out of bed and we went to the Aquarium.
Where we saw....
Tigers? Yep. Tigers.

There were also turtles...
and seahorses...
and sharks!
Kiri loves the shark.
And then there was an outside the fence visit to the petting zoo where Kiri queried the not-so-well-versed animal lady on the differences between Alpacas and llamas (which Kiri pronounces Yama. She's probably right because she's way smarter than me, but it still sounded funny.) There was also a Hockey Pat conversation with the car rental people. Fun times, gang!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Denver Oyster Race

Saturday was the big birthday celebration - Storming the Castle competed in the Oyster Adventure Race in Denver! YAY!

First of all, a big, giant, huge, over-sized THANK YOU to everyone who donated to my "Buy a Clue" fund!! Because of your super-duper generosity, we earned both available course clues and they both proved very helpful. Without your assistance, we might still be out on the course. One of the clues we received was actually the full clue to our last destination! Sweet!! We were able to figure out the puzzle the night before. We then went to the destination - the Three Dogs bar - for dinner on Friday night to be familiar with the route.
Second of all, thanks to Christy and Kiri, my fabulous teammates. Extra-special thanks to Kiri who showed up in Denver with the assumption that we were racing the Half Oyster (15 miles) when I had actually signed us up for the Full Oyster (30-40 miles). Oops. I guess my communication on this point was slightly flawed! And on top of that, her flight on Friday night was canceled and she couldn't get on the next flight out. She ended up being put onto a flight to Salt Lake City with a stand-by seat on the connection to Denver. Luckily she made it, so I didn't have to kill her. :) And I also need to thank her for putting up with me and Christy. I doubt that we are very much fun to race with...
Third of all, a big WOO HOO to my NFBF, our team assistant. He helped me learn my way around Denver in a few short hours on Friday. More importantly, on race day, he was the man with the knowledge - directions to our locations, answers to our clues and, with stellar eavesdropping/friend-making skills put to use on the teams ahead of us, he even had some of our destinations plotted and ready to go before we even had our clues in hand. He was the true super-star of the race! Here he is lounging in our transition area, on the furniture he "borrowed" from the hotel pool for the day:
And let's not forget Pat. Um....thanks, Pat, for watching a movie on your ipod while you were supposed to be keeping NFBF company in the TA.
I jest. Pat was actually very instrumental in our good showing in this race. This is because it was PAT who bought the Double-Stuff Oreos and brought them to the race. And every 30-40 mile race needs DSO's!! Kiri fueling up:

Me fueling up:
Mmm, Oreos!

Now let's get on to the race itself.

Onion, Yellow squash, Spelt, Tomato-basil penne, Energy drink, Romaine. The first clue was to bike to a farmer's market and purchase an item that starts with every letter in the word OYSTER. I got excited at one stand when I saw rhubarb because we still needed an R. Yay! Upon closer examination, it wasn't rhubarb at all. It was chard! Ergh. One team overheard me call it rhubarb and grabbed some to buy it. I had to play nice and tell them it wasn't really rhubarb. "Chard!", he exclaimed. "How do you spell oyster with Chard?!?!?!" The vendor kept trying to sell us an eggplant since everyone else had bought an eggplant and Christy kept telling him, "We don't need an E!!!" Finally he let us go. We needed the R and he was out of radishes, so we moved on to the next stall for the romaine. Whee! It only took us about four minutes to get in and out of the market.

The next clue was to run to this hotel by the stadium, climb up the stairs to the top and look out the windows of the 360 degree-restaurant to find our next clue. We saw the Merrell flag at the Children's Museum across the highway (the colorful building on the left in the picture). Once we got there, we had to (got to!) go down a 50' slip-n-slide complete with dish soap and a hose....just like when were kids, but better! There was no hill like that in my back yard! Whee!!

We then had to do something in the river that didn't quite turn out like they had planned. We were supposed to have one teammate navigate up the river in an innertube, or some type of flotation device to a designated point where a second teammate gets in the tube and floats back down. The third teammate could help push, pull, paddle. But somehow, all the racers were just carrying the tubes and running up the river and the second teammate was running back down the river. Maybe it was because the river was so shallow? Or because the volunteers weren't enforcing the rules? I don't know - but no one was in their neither were we.

The next clue sent us searching for Chipotles. There are four in the downtown area and we needed to find the correct two. Knowing that Chipotle was a sponsor, Kiri had pre-mapped all of the Chipotles in the vicinity so we knew right where to go. Yay, Kiri. Signs in the restaurants directed us to the water vendor sponsor of the race. When we got to their distribution plant, we had to wait in a big, long line to complete our task. We met some interesting people while waiting in line:
The task was to unload a big cart of 5-gallon water jugs and carry them across the parking lot and fill a new cart.There were 30 5-gallon jugs. 5-gallon jugs of water are very heavy!! Carrying 30 of them was very difficult and time-consuming!This would have been a good time to have a big strong boy on our team who could carry two jugs at once like the boy next to Christy. But, we did alright!We took the light rail back to the 16th Street Mall area and headed back to the TA. Our next clue was to get Denver's version of the New Times (I can't remember the paper's name) and find the Oyster ad to tell us the location of the next clue. NFBF had already picked up one of these papers earlier in the day (he's amazing!!!) to help pass his time. He already had the ad located and the clue to the destination solved when we arrived. Yippee! We were to bike out to a cemetery and take our picture with a statue they showed on our clue. Biking to the cemetery:Yes, Kiri's seat is very high. This is because the easy-adjusting seat adjusted a little too easily. Every 5 minutes or so, the mechanism would loosen and the seat would fall all the way to the frame of the bike and then start turning sideways. Finally when she set it this high, it stayed put. We overshot our destination a little bit and came in from the back side of the cemetery. We had to lift our bikes up and over a barbed-wire fence to get in the cemetery. This felt somewhat illegal. The statue was easy to find because it was so tall. Looking sexy in our bike helmets:To save time, we left via the entrance to the cemetery like normal people who don't break into cemeteries by climbing over fences....and we were promptly lost. We found ourselves in an industrial area where it seemed that every road led to a highway on-ramp. Uh-oh. We should have gone back out the barbed-wire fence route! Our predicament was even more of a problem because the cemetery was so far from downtown Denver that it was off our map. Uh-oh. However, with some good Kiri/Christy intuition, we headed in the right direction and got back on the bike path without losing too much time.

The last clue was the word puzzle that we had already solved, so we were able to drop our bikes and head out to the bar. Poor Kiri. At this point, her knee was hurting so badly she could no longer run. She could barely walk fast. But she kept going and going and didn't give up. Yay, Kiri! We did a quick name-that-beer puzzle that was supposed to involve beer-tasting but for us involved only guessing, and we were immediately headed back to the finish line!

Storming the Castle heading in - 5 hours, 7 minutes and 24 seconds!

Here we are as the volunteer checked our last passport and checked us in. We did it!!

Woo Hoo!! We did the Full Oyster! The pain and exhaustion felt very similar to doing the half-marathon, but this was way more fun! I can't wait to do it again next year!

And just because I think this picture is is the croppped version of our time:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me




I hate getting old.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Not Too Proud to Beg

My birthday is coming up! Yay!

I bet you've been wondering what you can get me. You wouldn't believe how many emails I've gotten asking that exact thing! Well, wonder no more! I have the answer....

As you may know, this year's birthday activity is The Oyster Urban Adventure Race in Denver. It's a team event and involves running, biking and various surprise urban adventures. It's a strategy type race that will make teams run-bike-paddle-climb- and perform other crazy athletic stuff in a race around the city, while answering clues and completing tasks.

Since my teammates (Christy and Kiri) are awesomely smart and athletic, we have a chance of doing really well in this race! However, we need more help. And this is where the blog post title comes in.

The race is a fundraiser for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Each team is responsible for at least a $100 donation in addition to the entry fee. $100? you say. No big deal, right? Maybe not...but what I really want is $300! Or better yet, $500! For $300, we can "buy" a course clue. At $500 we can "buy" another course clue. And despite the fact that we are awesomely smart and athletic, WE NEED THESE CLUES! If we raise even more we can "buy" teammate byes, where one teammate can sit out on a task. This could come in really handy if, for example, I'm asked to hit a volleyball or catch a baseball. We'd be there all day before that would happen!

Won't you pretty please support my ultra-competitive nature and donate to this awesome cause?? (Ok, Ok, we all know the cause is completely secondary to my competitive nature!) I don't even care how tiny your donation is. For example, if you were thinking about sending me a card for my birthday, forget that and donate the $3 to the "Buy Jill A Race Clue" fund instead. If you were going to take me out for dinner or make me cookies or buy me candy or whatever...nix that idea and put the $10 toward the "A Winning Jill Is A Happy Jill" fund. Or, if you really, really like me, you can donate $25, $50, $100 or more to the "Its Only Fun If I Win" fund.

And if you don't even know me, other than in cyberspace via A Little Diamond, don't go thinking you are exempt! Maybe it's time that you start paying for your entertainment. Surely, if you've wasted a few minutes of work time more than once on my blog, it's gotta be worth a dollar or two to you, right?? :)

By now, I'm sure you're wondering how exactly you go about donating to the "Buy Jill's Continued Friendship" fund. It's easy...just follow these simple steps:
1) Go to this website:
2) Click on "Donate to a Team"
3) Enter the pertinent info:
Race City = Denver
Team Name = Storming the Castle
Whole Team or Individual = It doesn't matter. We are all one and the same! Unless you want to make a point that you like Kiri or Christy more than you like me...
4) Fill in your personal info, your donation amount and your credit card info
5) Bask in the glow of knowing that you made me happy and that you are on my Super-Cool Preferred Friend List.

The race is Saturday, August 15th. All donations need to be in by August 14th at 4pm. might as well click the link now and do the donatin' thing before you forget!

If you'd rather just hand over some cash to me the next time you see me, that is cool, too. I promise I won't use it to buy candy.

If you want to forward this on to your friends and family, that would be awesome!!

Thanks! You're the best!

Your not too proud to beg friend,

(Disclaimer: I know times are bad, the economy is down, no one has any money...and therefore, I will still be your friend even if you don't donate to my race.)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Another Special Birthday

Today we continue the madness of birthday August by celebrating a very momentous day.

My NFBF is 40 years old!!! I looked and looked for just the right picture to go with this post, but decided to go picture-less, seeing as I would just be blurring out his face anyway. :)

Steven got a paintball party. Pat got a whole flippin' cruise! Christy and I are planning a trip to New Zealand in two years for our 40th's. What are we doing to celebrate such a momentous day? We must be doing something great to honor such a great best friend, right?


NFBF is being obstinate. (No one does obstinate better than my best friend!) He says he doesn't want anything for his birthday and he doesn't want to do anything, either. He doesn't want to play games, he doesn't want to go on a trip. He says he went on a cruise and that he's going to Denver. But that's just stealing Pat's b-day and my b-day parties in an effort to get us to shut up. We want to celebrate with him in the way that he wants to celebrate...but he's not talking.

I love my stubborn friend! Even when he's being stubborn. :) My NFBF is the best!!! He has been a constant in my life for 17 years (I think it's 17...NFBF, is that correct??). He has made every day of each of those years better just by being in my life.

Happy birthday, NFBF!!

Monday, August 3, 2009


It's the month of non-stop birthday madness. Happy belated to the Cookies' little Ava. She is one now! Almost a real kid! Mr. Cookie is also celebrating a birthday. And, don't forget, it's MY birthday soon! Hurray! Well, hurray for my birthday, but boo-hiss on being old. Yuck.

Today is Laura's birthday. She is just a baby at 26.

Happy birthday to the girl with more rules than anyone I know. Because of you I will never leave my tent door open! I will always respond to email invitations. I will not play Scrabble at your apartment. Etc, etc.

Smile! It's your birthday!

And full-on Laura!
Happy birthday!