An Apology To Mother Nature

Dear Mother Nature,

I’m sorry.

I do not know what I am sorry for as I have no clue what I may have done to earn your ire, but your ire is plain to see.

I know that I should not trust the heretics who claim to predict what you all mighty Mother Nature can and will do over the next seven days. I allowed their honeyed words to poison my eyes and other senses. I believed their silvered words of warmer, spring, and sunshine when only you oh benevolent one Mother Nature can make these words true.

That allowed their lies to bedevil me, to trick me, to deceive me has caused me and mine great inconvenience. Had I only listened to my senses I would not have crossed Mother Nature. Low, in her wisdom she has sought to correct each of my transgressions.

With the assistance of my daughter we established a windmill, light-up flower shrine to Spring before Mother Nature was ready to announce Spring, she punished us with snow

Seeking to better our cooking options we unwisely purchased a new grill, Mother Nature punished us with three days of rain and snow

Thinking Mother Nature’s wrath had passed, we built the grill, two more days of rain

Surely, Mother Nature has passed enough judgment upon us; unfortunately, hearing the sly words of the weather heretics speaking in her name, we purchased three “perfect” pieces of steak to grill; five days of rain and cold weather

Understanding I have displeased Mother Nature, I await better days, unfortunately my time with the weather heretics was not over and I listened to their toxic words, convincing me that warmer days were arriving soon I had the furnace turned off, we have been cursed with cold weather since…the glares and accusations from family hurt more than any hailing would

Attempting to please Mother Nature with our devotion to her cause we purchased a bird feeder, the cold weather remains, birds eat all of the food, and crash into the windows from time to time

I have no idea how much longer Mother Nature will remain angry with me for my transgressions; I have turned away from the untrustworthy weather heretics pretending to preach what glorious Mother Nature will do over the next seven days and have returned to the old ways of looking out my window and stepping outside. Until she removes her ire from me I await, patiently, better days

With sincerest apologies, your devoted weather watching patient believer who is very sorry for crossing your path by listening to the weather heretics and establishing signs of Spring before you were ready to announce Spring yourself hopefully you find this apology sufficient, if not send me a sign of what penance I need to perform to enjoy your magnanimous beauty and bounty.


Life On Almost Two Acres

“Good news for those of you who could not make up your mind or who wanted to swim and skate, our open driveway is now skate AND swim.

We have a nice skating loop that starts in the street and goes around to…well the street. Plus, we have multiple swimming locations near the skate loop, front yard, side yard, and in the back forty. Plenty of options for everyone.

Just remember, not liable for cars sliding into you, no life guard, no diving, no running, BYOS, and for a small fee towels, bentos, and access to a phone can be provided.”

That is my status update for the day. Yes, I have Facebook. No, I do not post memes (someone else’s thought), cute cat anything, political stuff, or well to be honest, anything at all other than links to blog, instagram, and something else.

Now that you know how I don’t use Facebook (connect with past why? Network, what a joke). Allow me to explain in that continuing vein of life here on Almost Two Acres because each week of each season is a new lesson. I like learning.

Our driveway is dirt and U-shaped. Our driveway has several holes or pits and lots of ruts. During the summer when we moved in we did not think anything of them other than potential watering hole, avoid with car, and wondering if that is where the mosquitos came from. There was talk of filling in the holes, but we had so much to do that we decided to wait.

That waiting may have been a mistake. No, it was a mistake. The holes and ruts filled with snow. The snow melted. The melted snow or water, froze making ice. The ice is slippery. The ice allowed snow to piled ontop. The on top snow melted. Making more water. The ground froze. The water went nowhere forming a giant initially U-shaped skating rink. That ice melted and spread, turning the U-shaped skating rink into a vaguely oval shaped pond…that froze over.

All of this was okay and someone nice to look at. Except, we needed to walk on it and drive on it and park on it. The skating rink spread from the front yard to the road, the garage, and to the walkway. The ice got thicker and conditions reached a melting point (ha) yesterday. High temps caused more melt, which did two things:

  • melting ice flowed to the sides of the rinks forming deep pools and snow in the side yard and back forty melted and formed new pools. These pools of water are ankle deep in some places (that is deep for snow/ice melt in a yard to people (us) who have lived on a campus for 5-years).
  • water on ice is double slick. So slick that our car got stuck on the ice. I could not take out the trash or check the mail.

People said salt. Great, but salt melts ice and melted ice is water, water flows to low areas (read the pools), which means the pools of water spread and when freezing happens the net effect is nothing changed. As of right now, we have most of a skating U-shaped rink, lots of pools of cold water (polar bear dip anyone?), and plenty of plans to spend a good chunk of spring thaw filling in holes and ruts to ensure next winter the only thing we have to deal with is snow and regular ice.


Kindness of Strangers

I think I have mentioned that we live on almost 2 acres of land. That “almost” is important…for people who do not live here…important in that 2 acres is a lot and almost is not that much. Speaking or writing as the person who has to mow the lawn with a push mower and that takes three days if I don’t want to die in the process, the difference between 2 acres and almost 2 acres is not important to me.

Related to mowing is shoveling the snow. We have a deck, steps, a long walk way and an even longer drive way. The drive way is actually a U-shape. Before the first snow fell we discussed how we (meaning me) would shovel the dirt driveway. We even sought out experts all of whom suggested rather emphatically we obtain a snow blower.

We have a shovel, how bad could it get?

The stupid-ironic part of the above sentence is that after a summer of mowing the lawn, I should have known that a snow shovel was a stupid idea. However, in my defense, we had lived on a college campus where while the snow removal bordered on the obscene and liable; meaning a snow shovel was enough.

First snow, we busted our asses off in shifts to clear a single path to the street.

Second snow, a friend gave us a second shovel, thus we busted our asses off together to clear a single path to the street.

Between the first and second snow, our maintenance man brought his plow around and cleared out the U-Shape. That was awesome and totally unexpected.

Third and fourth snow, lite enough nothing we needed to take care of; our maintenance man thought differently and plowed again. Totally awesome.

That was the extent of the kindness of strangers we expected. We are new here. We have made some contact with neighbors, mostly waving because…almost two acres. Around us we have seen lots of kindness. A man across the street uses his snow blower to clear the snow for an elderly neighbor. Every snow. I even think he mowed their lawn, but given the nature of lawns here it could have been his. Still the thought is pretty awesome.

For the last five years there has not been a lot of kindness of strangers. Students keep their heads down and interaction was pretty limited. Not just us, but all around the court.

So imagine my surprise…let me back up, today we woke up to at least 4 inches of snow and needed to clear the snow to get out. My boy and I in our snow gear with shovels in hand started clearing the snow. Snow continued to fall and I was pretty sure we were making reverse progress when the neighbor and his snow blower arrived.

A smile, a nod, a handshake, and several thank yous later our driveway was clear of snow. Kindness of strangers.

Cookie Days and Snow…Lots of Snow

cookie-days-1 cookie-days-2 cookie-days-3 cookie-days-4 cookie-days-5 cookie-days-8 cookie-days-7 cookie-days-6We have so few family traditions that are easily explained. The easiest and most well known (feared if you work in the kitchen with Barb), is Cookie Days. Two days in December when Barb bakes cookies. Lots of cookies. So many cookies that two planned days has stretched into four days one year. This year is special, we are away from the college, in our new place, and watching lots of snow fall onto the yard.

While Barb bakes, the kids decorate, play inside and out, hope for a snow day, and I work on expanding Puddles and Whiskers even more. Good times. Enjoy pics from Cookie Days. 🙂


Robotech RPG Tactics & Other Unwanted Games On A Snow Day

It’s snowing.

That right there should be more than enough of a post for the day, but there’s more.

While cleaning out and packing up the game closet I stumbled upon the failed Kickstarter Robotech RPG Tactics. I call it failed because the game is bad, the miniatures are passable, but more importantly, closing in on three years (maybe even over three years) I have not gotten all that I paid for. You can read any of the Robotech RPG Tactic posts to read about my experiences with the miniatures and game play. You can even read some thoughts about the whole process, but honestly I had forgotten about the damn thing other than to read the weekly “We are doing something, but nothing we can tell you about” or “Here are some pictures of stuff we may or may not be doing” or my favorite “You are mean to us” spam emails from Palladium.

Just because numbers amuse me here are the latest numbers from Forar who keeps track of these things:

  1. Days since Wayne said he’d give us a full breakdown on the status of all the pieces: **270**
  2. Days since the campaign ended: 1,050
  3. Days until the end of 2017: 638

To make sense of them: 1.) is the last time that a person “with information” said that he would provide a breakdown or update the status of the project. You know like a project manager (if they have one) would do. 2.) is the amount of time (in days) since the Kickstarter was closed. 3.) is the current projected potential possible presentation of the remaining items from the Kickstarter. Keep in mind we are still in 2016.

Ah well. Guess this is the new gaming business model. 😦

Finding the box of crap (my words) got me thinking what to do with the numerous games that I purchased while here that a.) we didn’t like and/or b.) don’t want to move. Having moved a lot there are a few items that I am very selective about moving books and games, because both are heavy and take up a lot of space in relation to their size. Thus, when looking at a walk-in closet filled with games, the first thought in my head is, “Crap. I don’t want to move all of this.”

I have gone through a couple rounds of keep and not-keep. Unless the not-keep was a complete waste of time I have kept the not-keep stuff. I know, what is the point of making piles of keep and not-keep if you are just going to keep the not-keep? The point was, I did not know or even have a clue what to do with the not-keep stuff.

  • Selling on ebay is a pain in the ass.
  • Do not mention Craig’s list to me.
  • The local gaming group has no money nor interest in over 100 games; I would gladly sell them all of the games cheap and offered them
  • The local “hobby store” is run by a fool and his powerless to make decisions lackeys. I should know, I took a small batch of books I didn’t care about to see what happened. The employee had to call the owner at work (yes, you read that right the hobby shop owner was at his other job) and while waiting for the boss to call back, suggested I leave my stuff and they would get back to me. My counter was, “If this was a drug deal, this is the part where you get shot in the chest for trying to screw me.” The boss called seconds later, low-balled me, but as I said, I didn’t care. Took my cash and am waiting for the place to go under.

Which leaves me with a bunch of unwanted games. The problems of moving in a small town.


500 Words At A Time: First Weeks & This First Week

Math time.

Don’t look at me that way. Math is fun with a capital FU; see my previous 500 Words about Math and me if you don’t get the joke. 🙂

Five years with two semesters equals 10 first weeks (5 x 2 = 10). That would be 10 first weeks. First weeks are always different than the rest of the weeks of a semester. First weeks can either be really awesome or really disastrous. The correlation between first weeks and the quality of a semester does not exist.

I have had first weeks that rocked; I was positive that my semester would be the best ever, only to have the semester go down in flames. I have had first weeks where I wanted to pull out my hair and run around naked proclaiming to all who would listen, “The end is nigh! The END is NIGH!” Only to have the semester come around to something resembling great. This, my 10th and final first week of college, has been something of a mixed bag.

The off-part of the mixed bag has been the weather, the grounds crew, financial aid, and a friend with a bum knee.

The weather and grounds crew: As some of you may have heard, it snowed here. Snowing in and of itself is not a bad thing. The bad thing is how people drive in snow and how the grounds crew attempts to remove snow. From waiting until the snow is packed, turns to ice, and then waits for more snow to fall before burying cars, blocking access to the bus stop, making odd piles of snow, and failing at keeping handicapped spots and walkways clean. Snow is also problematic when it creates a snow day for the children. The purpose of school for children is to give me a mental, much needed mental, break from them. I did not get that as they had a snow day, a half day, and scheduled half-day. My sanity has taken a Cthulu sized hit.

Financial Aid: I have written before that the financial aid office here is awesome and I stand by that statement. That does not mean that I want to visit them. However, I did have to visit them. Thankfully, the worker who knows me was there was able to expedite my problem. Still having to visit financial aid is like having to visit the doctor, you only go because something is wrong or you think something is wrong, you hope for the best and expect the worst. I got the best, but it was still an out of the ordinary visit.

Friend with bum knee: We have a friend with a bum knee. She is not the problem. My schedule gives me the free time to assist her with getting to and from school, which as a plus for me is a ride/drive to and from school during winter. A problem has been local doctor appointments that I can best sum up as a complete waste of time to downright dangerous-the doctor who told her the medicine she was one was the exact same as a medicine she is allergic to. Another problem has been the grounds crew and snow (see above), she is using crutches and because of the snow and grounds crew inability to remove the snow missed four classes.

The on-part of the mixed bag has been good first class, time to cook and make bento boxes, a friend to spend time with, financial aid, and the ability to be home for the kids and family.

Good first class: Despite the snow that kept the friend from classes I was able to go to one class of my own. I sat in on the class conversation, my role is assistance with portfolios. When appropriate, and not, I commented on things and explained some of my expectations and challenges ahead for the class. I also got to watch the facial reactions as they flipped through my print portfolio from last year-complete with erotica, bondage, chastity cat, and a good recipe. 🙂

Time to cook and make bento boxes: A reduced schedule and a self-driven class schedule (this is part of that) has given me the time to get back in the kitchen and make multiple bento boxes. Now I get feedback from more than Barb on the food and reactions from people nearby. One of the things I have been able to work on has been tamago with flavors, such as spinach and nori.

A friend to spend time with: What does a friend has bum knee and  who cannot get around town do with her off time? She spends it with me shopping, eating food I cook, and playing Killer Instinct. Having a second adult around has reduced the inherent sanity loss from kids being home all of the time.

Financial aid: See above, but for a recap, financial aid was very helpful and made my day even as it was an interruption to the day.

Home for the kids and family: The best thing about this first week has been my ability to be home when the kids needs me, to make food, and take care of issues when they arrive without having to juggle classes.

Not a bad start, knock on wood the semester only gets better.

500 Words At A Time: Shades of Weather: Winter


Every where is snow.

And the timing of the snow could not have been worse.

Yesterday, there wasn’t much snow and the school systems were closed, leaving me at home with the kids after a long weekend. Chattering and bickering away they eroded the shores of my patience and sanity. The big light at the end of the tunnel, they would go back to school today…

Unfortunately, before heading to bed the weather person warned of a snow storm to end all ages, okay not that bad. The gist being enough snow would fall that we were positive that we were going to awaken to a giant pile of snow blanketing the house. Imagine our surprise when we woke up to find no additional snow. If you imagined a parental happy dance, you would be correct; children gone for the day.

Snow Day 1Then I turned on the news to learn that the big storm had not passed us by. Instead the storm slowed down and was expected to hit around the time that the kids went to school, Barb was on the road to her rotation, and when I needed to be out and about. Stupid storm. For the hour before the kids needed to be on the bus, one school system after another closed, just not their school system. It did not take a genius to see that the kids would be at school when the storm hit.

And it did. I had to wipe snow off of a friend’s car twice before leaving the parking lot, which despite a pass through by a plow had at least a half-inch of snow. The roads were no better, rarely are on campus. Found a parking spot and went to be an assistant, which went well.

I step out to walk the short distance to the car to see the tail end of a traffic accident. That got me thinking drive carefully. If that had not, the foot of snow I was walking through to get to the car did. Wipe down the car two more times and off to the races. A really slow race where even at slow speeds everyone drives badly.

Big Rapids is a small town, on a clear day on any one of the hills around town you can see from one end to the other, not today. It was interesting to only be able to see one fast food restaurant at a time all the way home: Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Big Boy, Gas Station, Burger King, Qdoba, Panera, and finally McDonalds (that is also a “culinary” tour of this town) before making the turn home where I got stuck like I do every year, right outside the pharmacy building; one last winter FU from the building I love and loathe.

Snow Day 2Snow was falling so fast and hard that the plows could not keep up. I parked in the only spot I could find which looked like I drove headon into a snowbank. An hour later and the car looked like a snow bank. The campus was so bad that our friend on crutches had to cancel attending classes because she could not safely get around to her classes.

Remember the children who went to school in a snow storm? Shortly after looking out the window at the snowbank car email and phone notifications that the schools were having a half-day. Remember that parental happy-dance, it stopped. The kids got off the bus, trudged through the shin deep snow, and after depositing that snow in the doorway proceeded to chatter and bicker my sanity away.

As always, the weather is a factor for this place and our experiences, when the snow falls life gets messy and so does the campus.