An Explosion Of Reading

I don’t like cleaning up after other people, read my family, however that is one of my many jobs as a stay at home dad. Before you click away, this is not a post about bitching about anything, especially cleaning. This is a post about reading. Yes reading.

While cleaning up I have picked up six books and I know when I go back to cleaning I will find more. We are a family of readers. We did not used to be a family a readers, we used to be parents of children who did not want to read. Those were sad times.

Barb reads one book at a time, I read several books at a time. The point, being both of us read and have read around the children all of their lives. Part of their bedtime routine used to be Barb reading to them Harry Potter and more. Lots of reading. I believe reading is important for everyone for every facet of life. Reading has so many benefits.

The children wanted nothing to do with books or reading beyond what was required of them-school or rules for a game on a card put in front of them necessary for play-see really specific.

Then something happened. I have no clue what or exactly when; one day no reading and no desire to read then BAM books everywhere. Maybe not that fast, but one day our boy who hated reading wanted to play Warhammer 40k and read the rules. The rules lead to a codex, then another codex, then another codex, and then books.

Our girl began reading before him, she picked up a book and ran with it. Awesome we had lots of books for her to read and at her pace we thought we had plenty of time before we needed to get more. DONE! Her pace went up dramatically, along with her retention and comprehension.

Her reading got him reading more. Then his reading upped her game and her upped game, upped his game. The bonus, a lot of changes around the house:

The television died, sure they still watch something from time to time, but the days of coming home and plopping down in front of the TV are over…for now.

Conversations are deeper, richer, more frequent, and not about whatever toy they want.

As a family we have three main vices: game stores, bookstores, and craft stores. The kids did not like book or craft stores. Now, and this just happened, birthday trips (a tradition of ours, the birthday person gets to go wherever they want within reason) are to bookstores.

Instead of no books or one book bought grudgingly, a stack of books for each child. Books are one thing we do not mind spending money on. We are rethinking that a tiny bit. 🙂 For her birthday, our girl left the bookstore with three books, she wanted the remaining nine in the series.

Faces in books, great conversations, books for us to read (read one of your kid’s books just so you can carry on a conversation), and more family activities, doesn’t get much better than that.

 

500 And 1 Words At A Time: So Many Stories

I am a storyteller.

I like to tell stories all of the time.

Telling stories is one of the reasons why I enjoy being a gamemaster more than being a player. I want to tell the stories that other people experience. More than that I want people to play through, live if you will, through the stories and by their actions impact, change, alter, and improve the story. Unfortunately, I have not had the pleasure of running a game in a while.

I also enjoy writing stories, regular readers are familiar with some of the stories I tell here. Some of the stories go some place, even if I am not sure where, most have a scene or three that I write out and then done. I have no idea why this happens. Perhaps just a tale to tell and nothing more.

Puddles and Whiskers is a story going somewhere, even spawning tangent stories and pulling in stories from other places. Worldship Horizon is going nowhere, try as I might, each piece I write is self-contained with no connection to anything else. Hero was the same way, the origin story of a superhero and once I finished that, nothing. Many of the stories involving Stroud before Puddles and Whiskers were the same way, a story told with little or no connection to the other stories other than the same setting.

In a way, there is a connection between many of the stories the city of Stroud. Stroud is a location I created, built, modify, and use constantly for all sorts of stories; name a genre and there is a story with Stroud in it somewhere in my files. There are so many stories.

I used to be happy with telling the stories or writing them down and moving on. Lately, as Puddles and Whiskers grows, going through drafts and revisions, story moving forward, I am not as happy with stories written down and…nothing. I keep finding stories, this happens when you have harddrives packed with them, that I read and think to myself, I have the skills to fix, correct, and maybe even add to this.

And I pause. Of course I can make old writing better, I went to school for that. After I improve the writing, then what?

Pause.

Lengthy pause.

Time to ponder, not necessarily a larger future for my writing mostly because of my insecurities with my writing, which is funny given that I share my writing daily here and on other blogs for the last five years. My pondering is more along the lines of is there such a thing as too many stories here. I know, my blog, my decision, but it has me wondering.

Knowing me, I’ll post a lot of them. Such as this sample…

“What a piece of junk,” Three-Tusk was never one to keep his opinions to himself, Wheez thought.

Wheeze shook his multicolored mane that flashed through several shades of red before settling on a deep red color. He looked over his right shoulder towards the back of the command deck where Three-Tusk operated the weapons console or at least looked like he was. In reality, he sat there staring. His porcine face, mouth open vividly displaying all three of his namesake tusks, at the vid-screen and the massive bovine merchant ship displayed.

How Hard Is It To Get It In The Box?

The past few days have been filled with professional writing for others, editing and revising for others, painting for others, and building furniture for others. You might think I am an altruistic person based on that statement and maybe there is some truth to that, but right now based on the last thing, building furniture for others, I feel irked.

For the most part I do not mind writing for others, I have over my time written a history paper-got an A for someone, a bunch of letters, some other assignment, letters of recommendation, and a few resumes. The times I mind are when people give me shit about what they asked me to write. That has not happened for a long time, thus I am not irked about any of the writing I have recently done. In fact, I am pretty happy with a couple of them.

Editing and revising also put a smile on my face, granted not as big of a smile as writing, who likes to edit after all? Put your hand down. I really enjoy assisting with resumes. Alas! No resumes this week, lots of emails and letters to people who I don’t know. Still enjoyable to take an idea or thought and craft it into something the person can send away knowing it says what they wanted. And I might add, my edited/revised work has a good success rate. 🙂

Our girl wants to join our games of Warhammer. However, she does not want to paint her miniatures or at least not those for her army. I can understand that, she likes to paint dragons, frogs, and princesses-there are no princesses in Warhammer 40k. And she also was under the impression there was no pink either. At her request I spent the week painting her Imperial Guard squad. I let her choose the colors and went to town. She has been geeked seeing them and she has impatiently asked for her tank (she had to have a tank) to get painted, that is my next job.

Painting has not irked me either. Sure, I would like her to learn how to paint her own miniatures like her brother is, but these things take time and she is enjoying painting other miniatures. Until then, she has a pink squad and soon tank to play with. Hers is hardly the first non-traditional colored army I have done, remind me one day to tell you the story of the bubblegum camouflage and the gamers who couldn’t cope.

What has me irked today is the non-adult furniture that is missing hardware. Without hardware what do I have? A pile of “wood” and shattered dreams. Okay the shattered dreams is a bit much, but the “wood” is not. Thus, while the children occupy themselves, I fume. The plan for the weekend, while Barb is at work, I build, organize, arrange, and then we play games when she got home. Now I have to tell her to avoid that pile of “wood” there and figure out if packing everything back into the “box” is worth it or just order the parts. Ugh.

Just ugh.

Nothing To See Here Unless You Live Here

Sorry if you came here looking for your mostly daily dose of one story or another. I am working on more for everything, which will make you happy later. Today however, is about adulting or at least a version of adulting I have heard about.

As you may or may not know we (collective Barb and I) finished 10 years of college (her 10, me 5). Five of those years were spent living on a college campus. Sure our living space was called “family housing,” but if you peruse past blogs you will come to understand that we had a larger dorm room with the various issues of living in a larger dorm room.

One of our issues, furniture. When we moved in we had nothing and thankfully my grandparents got us some starter furniture. That was five years ago and many many hours of abuse from the children. Honestly we did not think much about furniture other than “is that bookshelf going to collapse under the weight of those text books.” In fact, the most commonly purchased piece of furniture, bookshelves. When we moved, before the destruction and give away section of any move, we had 10 or 11 useable bookshelves. This does not include the many bookshelves who met their end under our five year assault of books.

We move here, where we are happy and slowly, but surely the place is built around us in a satisfying manner. We move the furniture that we had. Set up the furniture we had. And declared all was well. Focusing on Barb passing her licensing exam and the attendant garbage of post move we really did not give any thought to our furniture. And then we did…

Most of our furniture was college cheap furniture designed to last for a limited time and that time was closing in. What to do? A friend of ours suggested that because our circumstances were improving we purchase “adult furniture,” “We already have adult furniture have you seen our…oh you meant…nevermind…we got this…”

except when we started looking at real furniture and non-adult, but adult furniture two things stood out to me:

  1. real furniture is expensive
  2. non-real furniture often appeals to me more

I do not like or want to spend hundreds of dollars on a couch or entertainment center. I don’t. Furniture gets damaged in a house with two children and visitors. I don’t want to live in a museum where nobody can have any fun. I also do not like to spend hundreds of dollars on one item that I sit on or that a TV sits on.

More importantly, to me at least, the faux build it  yourself furniture such as Sauder looks better to me, perhaps this is because this is what I have looked at for years now, but more importantly than looks, has things I want that real furniture seems to lack. Extra drawers, doors, shelves, and such. Nothing major, but if I can get what I want and pay less, why not?

And here we are today, we picked up a lot of DIY furniture. Funny story, when we saw the stuff in the stores we really didn’t think about how it would fit in the home. We needed a new entertainment center, awesome, this one is a foot longer; sitting at home looking at where we thought it would go, “Crap, how do we make this fit?” So pardon our dust and the lack of a story for a day while we figure out where all of this non-adult adult faux DIY furniture goes. 🙂

500 And 1 Words At A Time: Things I Paint

I write a lot about how, for me, there are similarities between writing and painting. I show, on here, plenty of my writing, but it occurred to me that I have not shown much, if anything, of my painting.

Squads of space marines, orks, the cockpit to a flying vehicle, a tank that frustrated me for a day or two before it all gelled together, a space marine on a wolf because why not, and a picture of our new terrain on our new gaming table.

Painting them continues to be a learning experience where my skills are put to use each day and much like writing each day I paint better than the day before.

Throwing My Brain At The Wall

Every now and again, I have to vomit forth the things on my mind to clear out the clamoring and often competing voices. Oh, nothing major or earthshaking that I am aware of, just a lot of stuff going on in one moment of time and I need to clear the space lest the various things cause me to stop working. Some people might call this venting, ranting, a primal scream, or whathaveyou…me, just part and parcel of my head.

To start, other than some family stuff (not Barb and kids) which depending upon who (m) I listen to may or may not be a major event now or down the road, when I find out which I will let you know, all is within the expected range. Barb is working. The kids are schooling. I am writing and taking care of everything not covered by the previous two sentences. There does seem to be some changing of the weather sinus funk going around, but honestly if you knew my history with my sinuses, sinus funk is pretty normal.

The weather, a minor thing to be sure, is very odd even for Michigan, take this coming week: start cold, warm up, rain A LOT, then back to cold. Around this time of year, in the past, cold no rain was normal. Now I have no idea what to plan for because…weather. 🙂

A commenter on this post has gotten me thinking a lot about the cost of digital tabletop gaming products. It hasn’t been something I have thought much about until recently, which made the comment timing nice. Why haven’t I thought about it, because we settled into a few games and purchasing games is always something I do carefully…most of the time. However, recently with writing progressing well I have begun to think about publishing which leads to cost and then I made the mistake of looking into digital copies of books for Warhammer 40k, this did not make me happy. A PDF, interactive being a buzzword, is not worth 40.00 to me. This is not an unusual amount to charge for a PDF. A physical book is another thing, but a digital book, and maybe I am an outlier here, but I am a cheapass.

In other words, if I can’t hold it and put it on a shelf, I am not paying full price for a digital version. Sure I get to “own” it forever (or at least until my device takes a shit or a new version of the software comes along rendering my digital copy moot) and yes, it may indeed be “interactive,” but it is not a real physical object it is a copy of an existing object. Maybe DVD’s and Blu-Ray have spoiled me, but one of the reasons I still purchase a physical copy is because I get a digital copy for FREE. Perhaps game companies should ponder that model of sales.

Related to the above, and always on my mind is writing. I would like to write more, unfortunately my writing space is under destruction once again. This is not conducive to sitting and writing. This is conducive to writing a sentence and wanting to clean. I am hopeful that the Spring/Summer plans for destruction/construction will fix and improve my writing space, but for now…I am surrounded by a mess and it is bugging the piss out of me.

Ah…I feel better. Sure there is more, but I don’t want to bother you with painting, the various plans of destruction around here, summer plans, con season, publishing, writing, bills, and so on…not yet.

Open Driveway Events

A snow day is not a good day for writing. I know it sounds like it should be, but the kids are unexpectedly home which means they are “bored” all of the time. See where this is going? So while I wait for them to go back to school and you wait for Puddles and Whiskers or Chuck’s Tail, I present to you more edited Facebook (I post one of these a day except on weekends) fun, Open Driveway Events are fictitious business based on the reality of where we live. Enjoy. 🙂

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Swim, Ski, and Skate in one day at Open Driveway Events Three S Day. Thanks to Michigan’s fickle relationship with Mother Nature you, the customer, benefits from her capricious nature.

Show up early, bring a swim suit, skis, and skates. From open until 2 PM swim your heart out and your limbs off in one of our numerous swimming holes. Ranging in size from sitting pond to a lap around the U we have swimming opportunities for everyone. No running or diving though.

After 2 PM, if Mother Nature has her way, put on your skis and cross country ski over almost two acres of some of the most varied landscape you have seen. Small hills, small valleys, one steep hill, and tons of gopher trails will keep you guessing.

Nightfall, strap on your skates and take a spin on one of the frozen ponds, formerly swimming holes. Due to expansion, the frozen ponds will be one  sheet of ice stretch across the front forty of Open Driveway Events.

As a bonus, the snow is supposed to be heavy, so why not craft a snow sculpture to commemorate your day here.

Open Driveway Events is not responsible or liable for injuries incurred while swimming, skiing, or skating. For a small fee access to a towel, for a larger small fee access to bento lunch or bento dinner.

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On this wet, rainy day, where the rain seems never ending and the puddles are turning into ponds and soon into lakes Open Driveway Events is pleased to announce our 1st Annual Noah’s Ark Furry Two-By-Two Mixer and BBQ.

Show up alone or with another animal, walk the plank (hmmm…) make that walk up the plank where other furries await. Mix, mingle, co-mingle, and eat BBQ while riding out the rain. Unlike the ark, we are not limiting our boat’s capacity to two of each animal, as many as can fit and on almost two acres that is a lot of fur-ry space.

When the rain finally abates feel free to run, romp, and play in the new land…still wet and probably very puddly land with the furry friends you bonded with during the storm or over BBQ. Yes, that’s right because I am cooking and grilling there will be BBQ. Is BBQ and fur a good mix, probably not, but then again I’m just the captain of the ark and the cook for all who show up, in other words cleaning is another associates problem.

Finally, at the end of the night provided the clouds have cleared pick a spot of ground (still wet) and stare at the stars.

Open Driveway Events is not liable or responsible for damage to furry outfits. Please be responsible when eating BBQ.

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Welcome back.

After a weekend recharging the batteries, Open Driveway Events is happy to announce first of what we hope are many BBQ Star Viewing Events.

The great thing about our location, other than all of the dogs (great if you are a dog lover), is the relatively remote location, almost two acres of land, and very low amount of light pollution. What does that mean for you?

It means, if you like looking up, and who doesn’t, you can on a clear sky night see stars. Lots of stars. Stand just about anywhere on our almost two acres and stare up at the wonder of the night sky and ponder how in the hell this planet can really be the be all end all a lot of people think it is.

And if pondering and staring isn’t enough for you, enjoy some BBQ off our currently small grill. We have a very good cook, he reads a lot of cooking books and cooks a lot, and he is gearing up for a long and productive season of grilling and woking on the grill.

Come on out stare at the sky while cramming your pie hole full of delicious hot off the grill BBQ.

No disclaimers other than the usual, not liable for injury due to gopher holes, interactions with motor vehicles, falling objects, and burns from food.