Ending the silence

I don’t know what to write. I’ve left this idle so long – I’ve tried to start again and again and I just… I fumble.

I should make excuses.

I should provide the reasons.

I should be witty.

I should engage like I did before.

I should be creative!

But alas, I stare at the blinking cursor, or I write a draft I will never publish. And then I close it up again and walk away. Time and time again.

I have a new character backstory for you! I have the start of a possible short story to tell. Maybe these items will get my posting again. Maybe I will fade back in silence.

Idle times make for itchy fingers, maybe this pandemic was what I needed – how morbid is that?

Hi there. I missed you. Maybe we can have this again? Give me another chance?

Living it Live

Such a tiny victory, and yet the one I want to write about!

See, I kept having events and obligations on Thursdays, and then Fridays weren’t as free as they used to be – my usual Critical Role days. I fell over three weeks behind!

On a TV show, catching up is easy, curl up on the couch for 45 minutes to an hour for each episode… but Critical Role episodes are generally 3-5 hours each, and tend to take a lot of attention to follow due to the lack of visual clues to what has happened. And CR has to be done at my computer, which is time I also need for other projects and pursuits (Anthem and Team Fight Tactics in LoL being the major distractions lately).

So even though the Critical Role Crew took a week off, last night I was still scrambling to finish that last episode before 7 PM, and I was almost there… when the internet started dropping over and over. ARGH!

I missed the intro, but I made it to the live episode, however Spectrum continued to refuse to cooperate (my internet provider) and while I did make it through the break, that’s when I gave up. Still, the ability to watch (most) of the first half live felt SO GOOD! A chance to sit up with my community, especially on the anniversary of a PC death, and share our thoughts and feels… just what I needed last night.

Clue By Four – misdirected

More stories from the Iron Dragon, a mercenary company in the Iron Kingdoms/Warmachine/Hordes setting…

Our current adventuring party have left the territory of the fanatic Protectorate of Menoth and taken a job from the Cygnaran Military. Goal is to investigate, incognito, four remote-ish locations in Cygnar for signs of life, signs of living (not undead) military activity, and signs of misappropriation of government funds. My character is my intimidatingly tall Khadoran (Russia-equivalent) gun-bunny, who is the reluctant leader in this as the only Lieutenant present, Ivonna Siriovna.

The second of these locations are a series of sea caves across the bay from the Ordic city of Five Fingers, known to be a wretched hive of scum and villainy – also the original home of my other character, Flynn Keller. Due to heroics undertaken while Ivonna was in the Protectorate, there is a sea wall in Five Fingers etched with the face of several company members, including Flynn. Luckily that was avoided during our team’s brief stay, because Ivonna does not think well of Flynn, who she refers to as “troublesome girl-boy” based on some interesting situation he got himself into. Ivonna would have been very confused, and probably mildly upset by that tribute.

So they make to to the sea caves in question, the team delving in to each cave they encounter, day after day, knowing this will take the better part of a month, at a best scenario. Some caves are empty, some have interesting finds. Some days, there’s no cave at all. Six days in we encounter a pair of nasty giant worm-creatures that spit burning steam, and after slaying them we explore the abandoned cave behind them, where a dead body has obviously lived to his end of days in scarcity. His dried out body lays in the room, and Ivonna is a very practical person so while the rest of the party examines the room, she uses the clue of the quill in his hand to find a letter on his person.

Of course, it is the last confession of Keegan Vasco, traitor to the crown of Ord, former marine, and betrayer of his best friend, Ian Gossyn. Of course I am, in my thick fake Russian accent, reading this outloud and trying not to choke. Because none of the characters in this room know what I, as a player, does – Ian Gossyn was the dead father my other character, Flynn Keller, sought to redeem the name of. A man murdered for being a traitor to the crown, who blamed his best friend Keegan of being the true traitor. The letter convicts both of them as less than upstanding and giving the undead country an edge over their own country, but also indicates a desire for redemption in the eyes of their god, Morrow – for both men.

And nobody in character in the room has any idea of this connection. So out of character I am laughing, gasping, and overwhelmed by the story hook we were just thrown. In character, we’re all making plans to give his personal effects to the church and just calling it a day. Oops!

Fifteen Years of Fun

Back in summer of 2004 a few friends and I started a tabletop RPG campaign, since Privateer Press had released a tabletop RPG setting for their Warmachine minis game. It was based on the D&D 3.5 rules Open Gaming License, so it was pretty easy to pick up for us with a little 3.0 and 3.5 experience.

Within the first couple of session the group grew a little, and we had a gang of misfit adventurer types in a world of Steam Power Fantasy – a little bit of traditional magic and old-world charm, a bit of steampunk Victorian styling, and a LOT of giant robots making the world a distinctly different thing from your classic D&D game.

One of those fine characters, Diego, came to us with a touch of madness and more than a touch of drive to someday venture northwards in the tradition of his family, to fulfill a mighty duty that the Lenska family was charged with. His magnificent sword was his birthright and his burden as it would someday drive him to the frozen wastes to unlock a secret.

Over these years our small ragtag adventuring party became a formal mercenary company, known as The Iron Dragon. The system was changed over to Pathfinder rules, with a one year interlude in the new Iron Kingdoms rule (but reverted to Pathfinder). Each of us developed three characters each to allow us to explore different corners of the world (but mostly to keep gaming even when a main storyline character was sans player). Three simultaneous groups at any given time, which means time in our world passed much faster than time in the game world, but 15 years in the real world still adds up to quite a bit in the game setting, and eventually the inevitable came to pass – Diego Lenska began his noble march to the dwarven lands where he sought to use his mystical sword as a key to activate one of the ancient and great Colossus war machines of untold power, to bring to life the destiny and secrets he had guarded. My little dwarf from the north marched with him, as the real world years ticked on and we dropped in on this group whenever possible, in a mighty journey delayed by the real world’s interference time and time again.

Finally Diego’s deal with a devil manifested in a complicated combat – our Curator ally, Gerlath, trying to summon in the fuel we needed to power our Colossus, my dwarf’s sweetheart guarding the fuel in question, and the powers of the demonic forces led by ‘He who’s hand held The Dagger’ – a powerful infernal force to be reckoned with – tearing us apart in any number of ways. The scope and scale of this combat itself even took months to manifest, but Sunday night we sat as a group and, despite the timeline traveling deep into the early morning hours, we were determined to see it to the end.

Around 3 am in our real time, we finally took out the last of the demonic forces, aside from the one last vicious (and mythic) lackey and of course ‘ He who’s hand held The Dagger’ himself. That’s when the villain determined that if he could not take the power, nobody would, and the forces turned to tear the cavern down around us to wipe us out for good. But the mantra “Wait… and hope” echoed from my diminutive dwarf as our ally Gerlath had instructed before slipping between the sands of time. So we held out, coming mere degrees from utterly losing hope in the face of a Prismatic Sphere around our lead enemy, and yet…

Yet despite so little chance of victory, the certainty of a TPK (Total Party Kill), and having one of our clerics fall into the grip of death not just once but in two successive rounds – thank goodness in a world where Resurrection is not an option there is Breath of Life – we waited… we held onto hope… and thanks to the efforts of Gerlath and Bullet Bill (the sweetheart mentioned before) we squeaked through in the end. Our prime enemy did escape through those cursed portals my dwarf just couldn’t managed to close, but we lived and won the day.

The big day. The one that really, truly, mattered.

This is what it’s all been building towards, for fifteen real years of friendship, through life and so many landmarks in our own timelines as well as that of our characters. I love this group of friends, and it’s been an honor to spend just about every other Sunday in their company, where half (or more) of every session is off-topic bullshitting and bantering, to see marriages – including my own – manifest, children come into the picture, and to know that it all ended in a win.

Long may The Iron Dragon fly. More than a mercenary company, in game and in reality it’s come to mean family.

Judge not…

Last Friday, on the way out to dinner with friends, we wound up in stop and go traffic because Friday at Rush Hour is always stop and go on the 405 freeway. The Toyota Corolla in front of us had a problem – his brake lights weren’t coming on!

This is frustrating, because it makes traffic changes just that much more unpredictable when you are the car following that problem. It was both side brake lights, though the middle light was also very dim and hard to see light up. My sweet spouse expressed that annoyance at someone who would drive along without resolving that kind of risky issue. I pointed out that it’s one of those cases where, as the driver, it’s hard to know it’s happening unless someone can clue you in – you can’t see your tail lights when you’re in the driver’s seat! The point was conceded, and we could not find a way from our position in traffic to let the other driver know, so we expressed a wish for someone to let them know soon.

Yesterday morning, on the way to work, I sat at my stop light as usual, waiting to get on the same reliable 405 freeway. To my right a car stopped short of the rest of his lane, parallel to me, honked, and yelled something at me. Okay, I roll down my window with a “What?” because he was clearly trying to relay something important. Well, those of you who understand foreshadowing already know… my brake lights (just the sides, not the top center) were not coming on at all. I thanked him, and nervously drove to work, unable to address the matter at the time. I counted on that lone center light, thankfully brighter on my car than on Friday’s Corolla.

On getting home my spouse had me hop back into my car and he was able to confirm that, sure enough, my brake lights needed some attention. My car was due for maintenance anyway, so I dropped her (yes, my car is a her) off at the dealership to get this resolved.

It made me realize that at the time we had that conversation my lights were likely already out. In fact, the car behind us could have been having the exact same conversation about us. And in the movie that is our life, the audience better laugh at that moment of dramatic irony!

I’m glad I didn’t judge that Corolla for driving with no brake lights… or else I’d feel really wretched right now.

Brainstorming – Cheshire Jedi

In September I’m going to Disney’s Halloween even at DCA! Better, I’m going with an amazing group who does stunning costumes every year. This year the theme is a mash up of Star Wars and Disney characters.

In my case, I am grinning at the chance to be a Cheshire Jedi (what with already owning a purple lightsaber!)

So now it comes to execution, since normally I rely on my mother’s sewing skills for a project like this, but it may be a good chance to try to learn some of my own. The basic outfit for a generic Jedi is generally an under-tunic or dickey, an over-tunic, a tabard and obi over that, leggings or pants into boots. Yes, I did my homework visiting the Rebel Legion’s guide to a generic Jedi. Seems like some basic sewing could accomplish this look, and if I alternate pink and purple in the layers, I created the striped look of the Cheshire Cat!

Easy, right? Not when you master second-guessing like I do!

To start with, I’ve wondered if I can cheat a bit, since my sewing isn’t top notch (or at all, really) – which means Amazon and other resources. Especially as one of my favorite dress resources, ElHoffer design, has a wrap dress that might be a great tunic! It’s raspberry in color, so I’m not 100% sure it’s the right tone, and is currently a preorder. Do I invest so much in a maybe? Will it even work for my idea?

Then I wanted to add a wig, to keep the purple/pink theme going! (And maybe ears, arm warmers, leg warmers… oh it goes on!) So on Amazon I finally narrowed it down to two – this or this… with a strong preference for the latter. So strong it was almost an order, until I remembered Epic Cosplay Wigs, a resource for better quality wigs with cool colors, though these are all single color so I’d have to decide pink or purple… unless I used their clip on ponytails or buns to have the second color. And so many styles! Curses, options again!

So how much do I work from scratch? What do I buy, if I’m buying? And when do I find time to work on this?!

A Faire Season

The weather is warming up, the birds are singing their birdy songs, and I am trying to pack my basket for tomorrow.

That’s right, the Renaissance Pleasure Faire is upon us!

This year I will not be found at Braids for Maids (unless I am visiting, which is likely at times), but instead at the Money Changers (Ancient Coins) booth. There was nothing wrong at Braids, it is very a “me” situation where I was finding my drive for doing good work on behalf of my friend and booth owner was causing me more stress than Faire was relieving for me. As I get older, and since there’s no camping, I’m finding I have to be more careful with what I demand of myself.

So a good friend commented last year that his booth could probably use a “booth babe” – utterly in jest since my garb is pretty modest – and we worked it out! It is a very relaxed environment compared to the bustle of Braids, and I want to see if this makes a difference for me.

Modest, but still beautifully blue! Thanks to Ian T Henry for this great picture!

I’ll mainly be out on Saturdays (and School Day Friday the 12th of April) if you’re looking for me. Sundays, if I make it, will be with my spouse as play-days.

It’s a fun look back at the past, with ale, turkey legs, and plenty of fine shows and songs to help pass the day (between shopping expeditions, of course!) I’ve taken a year off in the past and was left feeling sad and like I was missing out, so I hope this new booth is the balance I need!

Feline Half-Life

Yesterday was my kitty’s sixth birthday!

A rare picture where Pixie is not glaring at the camera –
she doesn’t like having her picture taken!

This precious little beast is definitely my cat, for all the terror and trouble she can be as a little monster. She’s also purring affection and cuddles with me, sweet grooming of my toes, and snoozing on my bed (well, our bed – she believes it’s hers, too) day or night.

Which is why it was a heart rending moment on her April 1st birthday that I came to realize I’ve already had half the time I am likely to have with her. What do I mean?

Cats, in my experience, live about 12 years. The numbers for a female indoor-only cat tends towards a higher number on paper (14 to 20) – but this is my first indoor-only cat so I tend to be a bit more pessimistic due to my indoor-outdoor model. At six, this means I can only honestly expect another six years with my spoiled baby kitty.

The future is uncertain. We could lose Pixie tomorrow. She could live to be a ripe old lady, beyond any of our expectations. Her recent decision to accept wet food – after disdaining it for five years – is good for her digestive system long term, but her chonky fat-cat nature is not great for the future. A little of column A, a bit of column B.

I do know that when I lose her, I’m going to be a wreck. This little furball has sunk her kitty-claws into my heart (as well as my arm last night) and is so special to me. Her antics bring me joy, even when she’s frustrating, and this is the first cat that is not someone else’s that I live with, or at best “the family cat”, but truly my kitty. I chose her, my spouse decreed she was mine, and she sold me on that over the years. So knowing that we’re moving towards the second half of that period was sobering.

Yet is also made the day more special, in a bittersweet way. We are the life she knows, and she seems to be a happy cat with that.

Except when I try to take her picture, especially after putting a flower on her.
Look at that glare!

What a Wonderful Con!

This year, in order to prioritize some other events, I couldn’t do the full weekend of WonderCon. But thanks to my dear spouse, it was agreed that one day would not break the bank (ha – he forgets the lures of the dealer’s hall!) and I could take Friday off work to cruise the con.

The Sunday before the event I decided I wanted to cosplay… something. So a quick brainstorm and I went from no costume to a femme Jack Harkness (of Doctor Who fame). Quick Target run, followed by a stop at Hollywood Suits for suspenders (the coat borrowed from the previously mentioned stellar spouse). Voila, the most dashing Time Agent that Torchwood has ever seen. Okay, I had to wait for the boots to arrive from Amazon, but it was almost a one day cosplay!

You can call me the Face of Boe…

With the time off request in, the costume assembled, and the paperwork to get my pass in hand, I was off!

As always I got there way too early on a Friday, so I decided the air conditioning in the lines was not strong enough for the coat, and outside I was getting occasional breezes, so I spent a couple hours admiring the cosplay displays! It’s one of my favorite parts of any convention. My fears that nobody would recognize good old Captain Jack were – as always – unfounded. Especially with the coat on, which meant it was staying on for the day. Toasty!

The dealer’s hall opened earlier than I expected, so before noon I was cruising the temptation chamber. An urgent text message home kept me from spending over $200 on exclusive and awesome (but too expensive) dice. I promised myself no spending until I’d walked the full hall… and I almost made it. Alas, +3 to Charisma had some outstanding dice boxes, one of which had a sparkly interior and was their last in stock… I couldn’t help it.

Then the floodgates were, okay, not entirely open but at least the funds were flowing a bit. I did splurge on a dress from Hero Within – it’s supposed to be Wonder Woman but read Captain Marvel to me! My only other really big spend was a print from Echo Chernik – she and I had some great conversations and I couldn’t resist her stunning piece called ‘The Choker‘ depicting one powerful princess in a desert slave situation… in a special limited edition that I still have yet to figure out where I am hanging it!

I set myself the challenge of collecting pictures of my Captain Harkness with as many Doctors as I could find – not just of the Who variety of course! So while I don’t have links and can’t share most of them, I have a wealth of Doctors – including Strange, Quinzel, Hammond, Jones, and so many more!

But at the end of the day, I found one of my favorite Doctors of the day… Damsel Cosplay AKA my friend Lacey as the 13th Doctor!

Anything Doc can do, Jack (or Jaqueline as the case may be) can do better, right?

I didn’t hit any panels, but it was a great day of Con Solo, meeting wonderful new people, taking pictures of cosplay I loved, having a silly and WonderConful time among my kind of people!