A Handful of Vomit & Pork Belly

I don’t make plans. See here if you don’t believe me or understand why.

I have children. Children derail anything and everything.

Got that?

A trip to Grand Rapids was necessary today. A long trip. Going to Grand Rapids is not something I do lightly, as I hate all of the traffic. The people are a mixed bag, but I can deal with the crowds. The traffic though, hate it. On top of my list for the long trip, find pork belly.

Despite living around several farms, I cannot for the life of me find pork belly. Lots of people who swear they sell pork belly, but to date nope. Thus I have to travel to Grand Rapids to the Downtown Market. I like the Market, a reasonable butcher and fish monger. Good cheese shop and other goodies. Problem for me is that the Market is not really a market, but what people with too little knowledge, too much time and money think is a market. Everything is too packaged and too clean to be a real market, more like a different kind of grocery store. But they have pork belly.

Then the child vomited. All of a sudden. No warning signs at all. Standing near the meat counter…BARF. Being a parent, I do the following:

  • try to comfort my child which is where the screen of my “military grade” phone cracked
  • try to contain the mess, which is how I ended up with a handful of vomit
  • try to, and I shit you not, get ANYONE from behind the counter to do something more than ask, “Can I help you with something in our display?” No shit. Tried to sell me meat while my kid is puking.

To many perfect people and families walk by with that look of “oh my look at those poor (not poor as in sympathetic, but poor as in not dressed like us, people.” Finally, an adult behind the counter sees the problem and assists, but by then the kid was off to a bathroom and I cleaned up the mess. Fuckers!

But I got pork belly.

A trip to the nearest pharmacy for some stomach meds hoping that it takes care of the problem and we are off to the next stop, Rider’s Hobby Shop. Way to much money and one almost vomit incident later we, the adults, debate the merits of returning home or heading to Momma Lee’s. Consulting with the child, go to Mama Lee’s because I need ingredients to cook a lot of stuff. In case you are curious why we didn’t go home after pork belly, the sick child had been looking forward all week to Rider’s and would not be deterred…not even by a second almost vomit.

Momma Lee’s, like clock work. Let’s put food in all of us. What happened next is not a testament to Denny’s…the car stopped, the child bolted, the parents said wait, the child exploded all over the empty parking lot.

Now we head home. Something I haven’t mentioned is that we need rain. Very dry around here. Want to guess when it rained?

If you guessed when the kid had to vomit, we pull off the road, I join him outside the car, and then the sky opens up. Soaked and feeling miserable, the child fell asleep less than a mile later. The rain stopped a half-mile after that.

At home the child feels better, which really is the important part of the whole story.


Bass Thump Bass Thump Woot Woot

Thumpity Bumpity Woot Woot


Chapter 5 is killing me.

Really, what was I writing?

I wish I knew, Chapter 5 of Puddles and Whiskers is getting an overhaul. A massive overhaul. I know what I wrote, I even know why I wrote what I wrote, but as of today I am not happy with what I wrote. Entire paragraphs of “descriptions,” have the note, “Expand, add detail, and fix.” The opening to the chapter is so vague to be worse than a bland description of a location, I have no idea how the location fits into the city as it is written. So I am fixing it.

Then there is the dialog. Ugh! I hate books with bad dialog and I just read my own. I can’t hear the voice of at least two of my characters in the words I wrote. So I am fixing that as well.

Thumpity Bumpity Woot Woot

Frustrated I left town for a few hours. I took my writing with me and that did not help until I zipped the folder up and let all of the information float around my head while I looked for a gift for a friend, picked up a game for us, and generally enjoyed the day.

As parents we have two more days of freedom. After that SUMMER! That means kids at home. We have a vigorous list of ideas for the summer, but the initial start to summer is always slow with the kids at home and being “bored.” For the next two days, the adults are going to do adult things (yes that too) because once the kids are out of school the cost of doing anything goes way up and there are plenty of places we go where the kids will not have fun.

So wish us a happy two days of freedom. 🙂

Bumpity Thumpity Woot Woot

You are sitting at a traffic light. The windows are down on the car next to you. The rap music is up. Every loose part on the car is shaking with each BOOM of bass. You have already made up your mind about the individual and their music, don’t lie, you have. My reaction is amusement, because there is a person with more money than sense and a future filled with “WHAT? I can’t hear you.” And it was their choice. So I am amused.

So I have a smile on my face because the scene is funny to me. The bass is thumping, the rapper screaming, the light goes green and


comes from the car. Not WOOT WOOT in a deep manly voice, but in a someone grabbed the rapper by the balls, squeezed, and squeezed again to get that “perfect” note.

Smile even larger.

For the rest of the day in my head is

bumpity thumpity (yes those words) WOOT WOOT

this is my jingle of happiness. When my tacos fell apart, bumpity thumpity WOOT WOOT and taco disaster was AOK. Stuck at a light, bumpity thumpity WOOT WOOT. Get home and resume editing…

bumpity thumpity WOOT WOOT

Chapter 5 will be AOK. 🙂

Games We Play: Con Games

Hope everyone is having a good Memorial Day and remembering why there is a Memorial Day and no it is not a national day to get drunk, eat hot dogs, and party. We are doing our part here at home.

When we went to Motor City Comic Con we took a few games with us, but due to the hectic pace we kept we were unable to play more than a game or two. This time because C4 has shorter hours we packed several games including a new one, We Didn’t Play Test. Before that some suggestions from us about games and travel.

When packing games here are some things we learned:

  1. Smaller games are better, think pack of cards big
  2. Make sure the games do not have a lot of small parts
  3. While you hope this won’t happen, if something should get lost or damage make sure you are okay with that
  4. Quick games are better than long games, people are tired and distracted
  5. Packing more games is not better than packing a few good games
  6. Have games that interest as many people as possible
  7. When playing in public get used to all sorts of interest from passerby’s

For C4 I packed, Get Bit, Star Realms with Colony Wars, Roll For It, and We Didn’t Playtest This. All of them are self-contained, small games, that fit in one bag. Further, if something happened to them I could get another copy at worse.

Here is what happened:

Roll For It is too much for very tired people. I know, a game where you roll dice and match pictures can become frustrating when the dice won’t roll the pictures. Tired people get frustrated quicker, see where this is going?

Get Bit is a great little game, except when people play in a easy to recognize pattern. Then Get Bit becomes repetitive and boring.

Star Realms was the favorite of the trip. We taught two people how to play and they loved the game. I expected to play a game or two, at most. We played every day, a couple of games each day. We even played a quick game before C4 opened on Sunday. Star Realms is an extremely well designed game making games close and keeping everyone engaged. Adding Colony Wars to allow 4 players made games more interesting.

We Didn’t Playtest This was…the adults expected a lot more. The kids had no clue what to expect. The gamer in me hoped for more and got what he expected. We Didn’t Playtest This is played as such, deal two cards to each player. On your turn draw a card from the draw pile. Pick a card and place the card in front of you. Follow the instructions on the card in front of you. That’s it.

Here’s the rub, the goal is to win. Many of the cards are instant win, everyone hold up 1 to 5 fingers, those with an odd number lose. Now, if we were drinking, this probably would’ve been fun. As it was there were no drinks and there were children. Children and adults don’t like instant lose over and over and over again. So here is my recommendation, IF you are looking for an extremely quick game (longest game was 4 minutes) to carry around, you are not looking for things to make sense, fun cards to read (the cards are very fun to read), then pick up We Didn’t Playtest This. Otherwise stick with Cards Against Humanity.

Learning By Living

In an effort to convince myself that I am really am on the mend, I spent the day out with the family. A beautiful day of driving to and fro observing the colors and wildlife, although are cows and horses wildlife? For this purpose, as we drove past, yes they can.

I think I have mentioned how having a home, not an apartment, is a constant learning experience for us. I am hoping that by the second go-around with the seasons we will be ready, for example having gone through one winter here I know the following:

  • Get the windows sealed in October
  • Purchase at least 150 pounds of salt before the first snow fall, we have a HUGE driveway
  • Purchase a snow blower, but allow the snow to compact a bit before blowing the driveway
  • Purchase a third shovel, because three people shoveling is much faster
  • Put at least 70 pounds of sand in the trunk of the car for the ice rink that the driveway can become

We moved in at the very tail end of summer last year, thus have no frame of reference. All I know from last year is mow the lawn in stages to avoid collapsing from exhaustion. However, since the warm-up began we have learned the following:

  • We should purchase some form of riding lawn mower, not because we are lazy, but because almost 2 acres is a lot and instead of having to mow for a month and a half or so, going to have to mow for at least four months
  • A hose is a necessity
  • A second rake is a necessity
  • Lots of charcoal for grilling, lots
  • Opening one window does nothing to improve the internal temperature, however opening a second window on the opposite side creates optimal air flow, fans are not a necessity
  • Outdoors is fun when you don’t have to share your backdoors with neighbors less than twenty feet away, thus lawn furniture is a must

I know we are missing out on several other things, I watch the neighbors do “stuff” and I know we are not doing what they are doing, so I wonder what do they know that we don’t know…I guess we will find out over the next few months.

So while we learn we continue to enjoy our time here, the kids attempted to fly kites, mostly running around dragging kites, and we cooked out. Both of these things are activities we have not had an opportunity to do or see and both, especially the kids playing outside, make us smile…even if the kites crashed into trees, were drug along the ground, or in one bizarre case ended up wrapped around one child’s neck…don’t ask us how and we were watching.

500 And 1 Words At A Time: Storyteller Takes A Day Off

My apologies if you came here looking for your noon (ish) fix of Puddles and Whiskers, Nail Clippers, or the soon (ish) to be restarted Worldship Horizon. Typically I have a week’s worth of posts ready. I schedule all of them on Sunday or Monday for the week, weekends excluded, and keep on working. This week was different.

I do not know how many days you can stay indoors without much contact with the outside world before you start going a little crazy, bonkers, cabin fever, or whatever term you like. My record is now five days. Due to Barb’s schedule, I have essentially been home with the kids for five days and nights. Yes, I have seen her off and on and I have been out in public, but nothing of long enough duration to break the spell of being stuck at home. Sorry, picking up the kids with a borrowed car or checking the mail again with a borrowed car, is not the same as having a day (read several hours) away from the house interacting with the world.

I will spare you the gory details of my descent into paranoia and anger as cabin fever set in. Instead, I will focus on the cure for cabin fever. Yesterday, after ensuring there was a fun post, I left the house for a long time. Staying in writing and reading is good. At least I think it is good for me, allows me to focus on the task at hand which is producing good content with an eye on the prize of a book or two. The downside is that I am not interacting with anyone or anything other than the kids and the characters in my head. From a writer’s standpoint, interaction and observing interactions is where I get character exchanges.

In public I see all sorts of behavior that I can then turn into bits for a story or a quirk of a character. The exchange between a table of people and a waiter becomes a scene of Puddles and Whiskers at NiHo’s enjoying a bowl of noodles. Watching two gamer uber-enthusiast nerd out until everyone around them is turned off becomes Devin and Chaz. Nothing is easier than writing about life and I needed to see some of that life, because in my head, where the characters live, things were starting to get stale.

What did I do? I went out to as many places as I could and I watched what happened around me. I interacted with as many people as I wanted, not always with the best results, but that’s life. Most of all I got the cabin fever out. I recharged my batteries. I found some new material…lots actually. And once the weekend is over, hey I still have some relaxing to do, writing resumes.

Make sure that you get out and about; interact with the world, observe the world, enjoy the time away from the computer, and write about it. Easy and fun. 🙂

A Day of Rest

On the 7th day, despite needing to unpack, they rested. Okay, it was another rebellion, this time lead by my body who said, “Enough!”

Break 1The realization that we have moved has not sunk in completely yet. Part of me is still stuck in move mode, which means “go-go and don’t stop” until the work is done. Move mode also comes with dick mode me, where I expect…no demand…everyone work as hard as I am working. This is not possible. I should realize this, but in move mode I want one thing, the move done, and until the move is done I remain in dick mode. A break was necessary for me to switch off and move into Unpack Mode.

Unpack mode is a slower more methodical process. However, in two days I have blitzed through more boxes and stuff than I can count: kitchen done, pantry done, laundry room done, living room done, books done, and games unpacked. A lot unpacked and yet I saw more and more.

Break 2So, my body said nope.

Which meant taking a breath, letting everyone who I had been working hard know today was a day off, and figuring out what to do. We stepped out for a bit.

But before we left, I made rice and prepped for kabobs. Cut up some vegetables and meat, nice thing about kabobs minimal prep compared to some dishes. This grill thing is a lot of fun, saves on dishes, and is getting us to expand the diet again. Plus, I need to practice with the wok before my debut. Speaking of practice, tomorrow I plan on making some Kung Pao chicken for lunch. I don’t know if the kids will eat it, after all there is a red sauce (red means spicy around here), but they may enjoy watching me use a wok or be able to dial 911.

We didn’t go anywhere special; picking up odds and ends to solve various issues around the place along with some sides for tonight. An interesting issue has been the floors. Prior to here, we had carpeting, here we have wood floors. While the kids love sliding around the rooms, I prefer to have something down on the floor for heat in the winter and to give the kids less room to shoot from one end of the house to the other or at least a “softer” place to land when the inevitably fall. Nowhere special was a break and taking a break was the point.

Another break, we broke out Rivet Wars and played a few games. I will write about Rivet Wars in its own post later when we play a few more games, but first impressions fun and quick.

Break 3Back to the day off. 🙂

Scratching That Shitty Chinese Itch

Everyone has their shitty stuff. Things in this case books, movies, and food that they enjoy even though the quality is not…well not that good doesn’t apply because despite the word shitty the stuff is enjoyable, good, edible, fun and so on…how about less than optimal? This leaves room for improvement and does not imply that shitty stuff is bad or the bottom of the barrel.

Today was all about shitty stuff. What kind of shitty stuff? Chinese food for one. Big Rapids does not have shitty Chinese. Big Rapids has outright bad Chinese food and not bad as good, but bad as in I do not recommend that anyone eat the Chinese food in town. Take the hour to drive elsewhere. For the record, shitty Chinese is Chinese food served in malls, really shady Chinese restaurants in strip malls, and most Chinese takeout that I have had. The food is always shiny with thick gloopy sauces and while the food shares names with other Chinese or Chinese-American dishes has a taste that is similar amongst all shitty Chinese places and unique to them.

Shitty ChineseOrange Chicken, honestly that is what the menu said; menu in the sense of five pictures of shiny food with prices slapped over them. I have only seen orange chicken like this at shitty Chinese places. It does not look like that when I make it at home. It does not look like that when I pay around $10 a plate. For less than $6, it does. And you know what, it was AWESOME!

Shiny, thick, orangish flavor, thick breading, and chicken. I love this stuff. I won’t make it home, but every once in a while I crave it. In a similar way that I don’t eat fast food regularly (this is NOT a regular time of our lives), but every once in a while I have to some. A craving for shitty Chinese is worse, because there is none in town…you know, the itch you cannot scratch and all of that, but only better in the original Klingon.

itch pagh scratch SoH

-Thank you Klingon translator, but come on mice, Roman, itch and scratch? Get with it Klingons

The sauce was so thick and sticky that instead of using chopsticks to pick up clumps of rice, I dipped and dunked orange chicken balls into the rice. Maximum effort, I tell you, and so mouth pleasing good. Did it taste like orange chicken? Only in the same way as a frozen TV Dinner taste like home cooked meal; there is food and it tastes like “food,” but not like real food. Only in this case, AWESOME!

And the rice, fried it was not, but good it was. Totally not clumpy, which would have been handy, but the sauce took care of that. That egg roll, could have come directly from the freezer to fryer, I don’t care it was exactly what this shitty Chinese itch needed to be scratched. Healthy dollops of hot mustard and damn that was good. 🙂