500 and 1 Words At A Time: Holiday Writing

Ah December holidays.

Bane of most gaming groups. Over my lifetime more gaming groups and campaigns have ended in December than any other month.

Bane of scheduled writing. At least for me December has been the bane of regular writing for me.

Weather. Trips. Shopping. Decorating. Cleaning up the weather, trips, shopping, decorating, and most of all cooking, lots of cooking.

I cannot think of another month in the year where so much happens or leads into the month. Thanksgiving drives right into December where people start thinking of Christmas and New Years. This leads to decorating, shopping, and making plans for visits with friends and family.

If you have children, which I do, distractions increase exponentially. There are regular school days-drop off and pick up; half days which make no sense given the nature of snow days (school gets 7 snow days, often uses double digits, but instead of turning half-days into full days, extends school well into summer); special events such as holiday concerts which when you have children in different grades can mean more than one day spent in a concert; sick days; and blah blah blah…

The gist of the story is that today while you are reading this and I wrote this I spent this time not doing:

  • Shoveling the rest of our really long drive way.
  • Pricing snow blowers for our really long drive way.
  • Reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

Writing more Puddles and Whiskers; I have four pages of notes and questions answered, I need more than five minutes to put it all to paper/screen in a meaningful manner. Fun story, for those following the Puddles and Whiskers story, I found a hole in the story. The hole is small, but stands out now that I found it. An early reference to Eth later turns into information Eth could not provide. Quick fix, rename character and leave Eth in place for rest of story. I’m not into quick fixes when I am in the process of expanding the story, so new character is in the process of getting a larger scene along with several other small scenes.

  • Playing games and interacting with the children or getting them outside with a shovel to assist with the really long drive way (have I mentioned our drive way is really long?)
  • Writing more game material for the companion game to Puddles and Whiskers.
  • Visiting with friends, although the snow filled really long drive way will need to be addressed before this could realistically happen.
  • Making rice dressing for sushi.
  • Making sushi rolls.
  • Cleaning the house.
  • Folding laundry.
  • Cleaning off the deck.
  • Salting just about every surface.
  • Hanging more Christmas lights, although I may not do that because you can read by Christmas light.

I think you get the point. I am hoping that per every other year, the week before Christmas and after New Years all of the distractions and calls for my time evaporate as I would really like to have more time to write.



Holiday Knee Not Writing

Back from break, but not back from break with new material. Hold on, don’t rush to judgment. I spent the holiday exactly like I hoped and wanted, doing nothing related to writing at all.

Barb made a Thanksgiving feast: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, brown-sugar glazed carrots, salad, glazed sweet potato slices, cranberries, apple something or the other (while I cannot remember the name for the life of me it tasted great), and rolls. All made at home, nothing out of a box.

The grandparents and a friend came over on Thanksgiving. A word of advice, if trying to find our place do not use mapquest, you will get very lost. Other than lost, the day was great. The grandparents saw our place, got to listen to the boy play the trombone, eat great food, and listen to our girl discuss her love of birds, her love to catch birds and teach them tricks…mostly pooping in other people’s yards. By the end of the night, everyone was well fed (overfed in several instances), and happy.

The next day, Paul stopped by for a few hours of conversation and more food. Barb made a lot of food. Another overfed instance or two throughout the day while talking about the nature of life, philosophy of the ancients, and how we could become better people. No, we talked about video games, movies and lots of fun things. Our boy did not entertain with the trombone and our girl kept her bird capture and poo plans quiet.

Now, at some point during the weekend I injured my knee. Not the knee on the leg with the ankle Shawn White messed up…okay, Shawn White’s snowboarding game and I must point out, I did win the game…but the other leg. I have no idea what I did, but it hurt a lot. I had to stand to relieve the pain or sit with my leg up. Getting into bed or the car, major pain.

So overfed and knee pain, the rest of the weekend passed watching football, hockey, the occassional food show, although the longer Food TV is on the further away from prompoting food they seem to get and closer to promoting their brand, which seems to be “stars” and crap merchandise. I pulled out the writing a few times, but nothing clicked. Just not the time.

If there is one thing I heed when writing is “not the time” mood. Forcing writing, to me, is worse than not writing at all. I didn’t want to fix forced writing. Thus, I spent until an hour ago, not writing. I thought about writing, particularly how to address a section of the game that gave me problems before the break. And the break worked, today once the writing started, the section flowed.

So here I sit, leg extended, hoping I do not need to get up anytime soon, writing once again. 🙂

Hope everyone had a good holiday.

My Favorite Holiday

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

No other holiday comes close for me.

I enjoy watching the kids open their presents and that really has been my favorite moment of any Christmas, but a day later nothing has changed other than more toys lying about.

New Years was another excuse to party, but those days while not necessarily gone (the party has changed) the situation hasn’t been setup for parties of any kind for a while. Thus New Years is an excuse to…well nothing different at all.

I like my birthday, okay I love my birthday, but retail marginalizes Halloween in ways I cannot stand and with children the day is supposed to be about taking them trick or treating…except we live in a region where the weather is unusually cold, wet, snowy, or a combination of all three.

Thanksgiving regardless of where we live is always good. A day of great food, mediocre television, thank deity for video games and videos. And, when opportunity permits a day with friends and family. It took us a few years to convince people that Thanksgiving would be our day. We would not travel anywhere. Instead people travel to us for great food and companionship.

Our best Thanksgivings, the place where we lived filled with friends. Our worse Thanksgivings, just us. The difference? The volume of noise. Best and worse still ring out strong in my head with fond memories of things I was thankful for that year. Top of the list each year, the people at the table, my family and friends. Without them I would not be the man I am today.

This year is no different. While this year has not gone the way we planned, hoped, ore even expected. There have been more deep downs than exultant highs, this year has been about the people around me. Support, words of encouragement, listening, and all of the other ways people let other people let one another know they care. That is the thing that stands out most to me in the plus column, big and small people I know showing they care.

For those who like lists here is my list of things I am thankful for, off the top of my head.

Friends and family without you I would not be who I am there would be less walls, guidelines, reasons to do more, and fun.

The place we live, after five years of some of the most hellish conditions we have ever been in (and I lived out of a car for a while) this place while not the prettiest on the outside (getting better every month) has been the happiest we have been in a long time. The children play in the yard, doing all of the things children do or used to do-bikes and kites. No longer do they dread going home, they want to come home so they can play outside or inside (really crappy weather today).

Time to do, five years of college lead to a sense of non-stop go-go do and do a lot of things that while in the interest of college were not necessarily of interest to me. Since graduating, I have started to learn to take and make the time to do for me. This change resulted in some changes in…a lot of things, this blog for one thing. Speaking of which, I am thankful for you the reader. Hopefully you are enjoying the change and finding value in what you are reading.

As I said above, this year has not been a good year for us, but we have stuck together persevered and continue to move forward. While my list of things I am thankful is numerically small, it is of great value to me: people, place, time, sense of self-satisfaction and worth. Those are priceless.

Enjoy your holiday, however you celebrate it, take a few moments to think about what you are thankful for and I will see you in a few days with more Puddles and Whiskers among other stories in Stroud. 🙂



Return To Wrath Of The Righteous

I believe every Labor Day is a gaming marathon for us. I may have to go back thru posts to make sure, but I seem to recall playing games over long weekends. This Labor Day is no different, we are marathoning Wrath of the Righteous. In our last attempt we made it as far as Adventure Deck 2 before calling it quits. The whole experience being frustrating with a lot of scenario redos and changing of characters to cover deficiencies. So we quit with plans to come back later.

A lot later. Which is where we are now. Last night we finished up the last scenario for Rise of the Runelords without any major hassles. After everyone, but me archived their characters for potential later use, we moved onto character selection for Wrath. Why didn’t I archive my character, because Ostog is fun, he is cool, but he is a one-trick pony. A really good at his one-trick, dealing and taking damage, but not a character I wanted to carry on with pony.

People new to Wrath were warned about our previous experiences with the introductory set of scenarios. Particularly, Elven Entanglement, which we felt was particularly brutal. The gist of the warnings, Wrath of the Righteous is going to be difficult with a lot of unexpected surprises. And that is how we found ourselves with a Paladin, Hunter, and Inquisitor. The kids, who we thought would join in, declined citing our warnings and their memories of previous attempts.

How can I put this…it was cake walk. I have no other words. Instead of a sense of mounting frustration and irritation, we breezed through the introductory scenarios. I am typing this during a break between introductory scenarios and Deck 1. I did do some searching of the Wrath FAQ I found an answer to a couple of questions that had bothered us during our first play through. These answers, such as the one about Elven Entanglement, made our play through smooth.

So into the whee or wee or wei or…nevermind hours of night/dawn we played. The closest we came to dying was during scenario 3. Just a bad combination of Demonic Horde, followed by Demonic Horde, followed by Arboreal Blight or some three turn combination which caused a lot of damage to the Hunter and Inquisitor. The Paladin, due to a lucky break was on the location with the villain, a ton of armor, and worked through the location deck while the two wounded characters capped their locations.

I’m being called back to the table, before I go, Puddles and Whiskers along with the three shorts I posted earlier this week will all get some revision love. Have a good holiday.

Happy Fourth of July

Taking a break a today.

No packing.

No thoughts of packing or moving other than the thought to write the above sentences.

We may play some board games later.

The day has that lazy, take your time, enjoy the moment feel to it and there have not been too many of those sense graduation. I’m going to take advantage of that.

Enjoy your day and see you tomorrow.

Happy Holiday.


Sick & Grounded On Presidents Day

I’m eating cake and ice cream. No, it is not anyone’s birthday nor a celebration of any kind. I just happen to be feeling better. I’m still sick, just not as much as yesterday. Witness I am awake now. I am typing now and I am eating cake. Today is President’s Day or what I am now calling, yet another day off school for my children. Years from now when the question is asked, “What happened to our youth?” I can point to this year as an example of when education seemed to take a backseat to snow days and other days off.

By my rather unofficial count the kids have had seven days off due to snow. Winter is justing starting around here which means more snow days are coming. On one hand I don’t mind not having a single week where the kids have not been home one or more days a week [sarcasm], but on the other hand how are they expected to do well on all of the standardized tests if they are not in school to learn and have some consistency. Personally I believe consistency is a part of education for children, more so than adults. Children need that routine to enhance the learning process because quite honestly the world outside of classes is way more interesting and distracting.

Which may be why the children are grounded today. For those who do not know or remember what grounding is, grounding is when the parent has had enough of the kids bullshit and makes them sit in one place and “think” about what they did that pissed off the parent enough to consider grounding as a logical alternative to some other form of punishment or when talking it out has failed.

A few months ago after an “accidental” falling off the bed, the children were told no more playing on the beds. I’m not sure how jumping from one bed to another while throwing stuffed animals at each other constitutes “accidental” or anything other than training for some lame reality show, but the end result was one child falling off of a bed and all of them claiming it was an “accident.” Being a rational, on occasion I can be rational, adult, there was a talking to where the parent stipulated no more playing on the beds and the children nodded their heads in agreement. Since that time there has been one warning when the parent caught them about to play on the bed.

Today was the wrong day to have an “accident.” Once again, they were playing on the beds. Instead of jumping they were playing a variation of dodge ball using stuffed animals. And as expected one child fell off the bed with a resounding thud followed by “ow” and “It doesn’t look that bad.” Keep in mind I am sick, thus my reaction time was not its usual precognitive “I smell children screwing around” level. Which is why I reached the scene of the “accident” as they were in the clean up phase consisting of the injured child covering up the injury and the debris being hidden under the bed.

Of course there were the usual bits of banter…

“It was an accident,” before I even said a word.

“What did you do wrong?” I asked.

Silence as the children look to one another, hoping one of them will talk.

“Playing on the beds?” I ask, knowing the answer.



“We’re not supposed to do that.”

“What should I do?”

“Tell us not to play on the bed.”

“Has that worked?”


“Then we will move to grounded for the rest of the day.”

And that was the lesson for the day. Somehow I have a feeling they may have gotten more out of going to school for the day. But what do I know, I’m just a parent.

500 Words At A Time: Holiday IV: X-Mas

Every holiday has been affected by our being in college and specifically living on campus in Big Rapids, none more than Christmas. Due to a long and contentious history, Christmas has not been my favorite holiday, not even on my top 5 list. Then I became a father and slowly began to enjoy the holiday again. Then we moved here…

There is nothing about Ferris that diminishes Christmas holiday, but there is. In other words, the school has not dimished the holiday, but the things associated with the holiday have. Not sure what I am talking about? Read on…

The students: The student population makes living in a small town with limited options a pain in the ass in the first place. That the students have to leave over the holiday break is a great thing, however, before they go they try to cram in one or two last parties, which can make for some interesting times around town and on the roads. On a minor note, because students are not in town they do not decorate or do much in the holiday way.

The geography: Big Rapids cannot help being where it is today, the decision to found a town one-hour, at minimum, from everywhere with good shopping was made long ago. Being an hour-away from any shop that is different from those in town does have a diminishing effect on the holiday spirit, “Do you want to go shopping for the kids? Great. Where? I’ll block off four hours.” (1 hour there + 1 to 2 hours to get around new location and shop + 1 hour back)

The small town: I am enjoying the small town atmosphere. I am not enjoying the small town shopping options. We can shop at Meijers, Walmart, and…well that is it for big stores in town. There is a Gamestop, a Sears (more an outlet than a full sized store), and a couple of specialty shops. To shop requires traveling (see above) or ordering online. Travel is a pain due to having to block off the time, we are trying to shop without the kids. Online ordering, my usual go-to, turns into a clusterfuck around here because the school or housing, not sure which, insists that packages shipped via the Post Office go to the office for pick up (I say insist because in five years they have not installed large package boxes at the mail pick boxes). If the office is working as it should, picking up a package is relatively quick and easy. This is the holiday season, thus EVERYONE has packages arriving which leads to the clusterfuck. Add on reduced hours over the break and online ordering can be problematic.

The travel: As I wrote above and in other posts we are in the middle of nowhere. Travel to shop is one thing. Visiting the relatives becomes a major operation that has yet to go well. The nearest relative is three to four hours away and the kids…if you have kids and have taken a long car trip you know where I am going; from which one is going to get car sick to the constant bickering and whining.

The money: Our budget always goes to shit this time of year. This is just the nature of the beast that is going to college in the manner we have chosen. We want to do more, like we would do before we moved here, but with limited funds comes making difficult decisions, which means holiday shopping.

The net result is that each Christmas since moving here has been smaller and smaller. The old me, says, this is the way it has always been. The parent in me, who was just starting to enjoy the holiday, wants to go back to the way it was five years ago. The adult in me, says a few more months and hopefully next Christmas will be better than any of the five here.