Saturday, August 24, 2013

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Among the trees(story)

To say that we live just doesn’t seem right.  I eat I move. I drink.  I even sleep. But… it doesn’t feel right. 

753 days ago I woke up in the garden alone and covered in dew laying on a path of bricks.

671 days ago I saw the first other person I had ever seen among the perfectly manicured hedges.

623 days ago I talked to her.

543 days ago she talked back.

217 days ago we met someone else.

30 days ago I watched them both die.

Yesterday I found a weapon.

There are things I’ve learned about this place; where to find food, where to drink, where to sleep out of the rain.  There are things I’ve feared, starving, loneliness, dying in a spurt of too bright blood.  There are things I’ve fled from.  I don’t know if they can be killed but I guess from a logical point I don’t know yet if I can be.

Today I’m going to find out.

I crouched among the bushes at the end of the lane.  The garden here was less shrubs and more like a college campus.  Large buildings that I couldn’t enter surrounded by bushes and trees spaced enough to give an open park like feel but still provide a good amount of shade.  The brick paths from the maze area ended just before my current position and turned into a softer asphalt that was still much harder than any dirt or grass surface.

I clutched in my hand the pistol I had found.  I had ten bullets in the clip.  Like all the writing in this drearily perfect place I couldn’t read it.  Every time I looked at it the words seemed to change slightly from what I remembered from the last time I looked.  I only even know the pistol works because I fired it last night twice to test.  The noise of the shots were devastatingly loud in the quiet of the garden.

From where I was I could see the slight trail of blood my enemy had left.  It led up towards the clocks and bridges.  Not around the lower half of the campus where the fruit trees were but through the pines, near the lemonade stand. 

It still bothers me that there is an empty lemonade stand there with one full pitcher of fresh lemonade.  No matter how many times I empty it or break it or hide it the stand is always perfectly there the next day…with a fresh pitcher.

But that doesn’t matter.  The trail does.  It winds past the grass across from the stand and down over the first bridge.  I follow running from tree to tree.  Hiding and glancing from cover to follow the trail.  The bridge poses a problem.  It isn’t one of the covered ones but only one of the early more plain wooden arches.  No cover there and too long in the open.  I’m afraid I’ll be seen.

The thought occurs to me that I should just turn back.  But where would I go?  Everyone I knew existed is dead now.  NO.  Turning back isn’t an option.  I gather my all too fearful soul and sprint over the bridge pistol gripped tightly turning my head wildly to see if I can catch sight of my enemy watching me.  I see no one.

On the first Island I pause.  I wasn’t seen.  The trail goes on.  I follow and each bridge I cross becomes less and less of a barrier.  The fear of the open conquered by the boldness of repetition.  Amazing to me how fear fades backwards so easily for some things and yet stays so sharply vigilant for others.  I once tried wading through the water here.  The thought still makes me tremble.  Bridges really are the only option.

Towards the middle, where the clocks tick but don’t chime every hour, I find a new brighter trail of blood.  My enemy tried to wash off the blood of my companions and got a lesson about the water here.  This new trail of my enemy’s blood leads away from the clocks towards the catalogue, where all the plants have unreadable placards placed next to them.  At least now I know my enemy bleeds.

I’m eager now.  I follow at a rapid walk.  Weapon held at the ready.  Now I’m no longer just a tracker.  Now for the first time I feel like a hunter.  I will find my enemy and I will get retribution.  I will live.  I may die after this brief moment of life but I know I will live.  I will not be a servant to my fear.

The trail cuts through the catalogue like a straight edge, brushing past plants and placards alike with a driving urgency I follow.  Down through the gate to the flowers.  Past the flowers and out towards the orchards where the paths turn into dirt.  There among the cherry trees I see my enemy.

My gun comes up to the ready.  I draw aim and with a slight intake of breath and a prayer I act.  The mechanical force of my finger activates a chemical response and a physical result.  The sound shatters the orchard’s whispering breezes.

The gun fires.

My enemy turns; and I can see shock and anger.  I have declared my stand and engaged.  I did not run like our friend.  I was not killed unknowing like my companion.  I no longer passively wander among the garden. 

My enemy engages.

The gun fires many more times and is silent.

A body falls to the ground spurting too fresh blood and the breezes again claim their rightful rule over the sounds among the trees.  The spreading pool ripples silently as a cherry blossom shaken by the action lands in the crimson stain.

Friday, June 7, 2013

My garden, it grows.

I still haven't been in the mood to write, but I am quite pleased with my container garden this year.
Pictures ...

Miniorc's tomato plant. Four baby tomatoes so far.

Orclette's strawberry plant. She's actually gotten quite a few and has enjoyed being able to pick them, wash them off, and then eat the product of her labor.

Overall view of our front porch. Damm thinks it looks messy, I think it's not messy enough. I'll eventually have a jungle of a garden when I have the time and space.

Friday, May 10, 2013


I haven't felt much like writing, journaling or even texting. I'm guessing this is another phase of numbness, another step along the grieving path. The grief is a part of me now, something I let out every once in a while so that it doesn't build up too much.

I wrote something in my journal one day after going to church on Sunday. Church was hard during the singing. It's as if I'm staring at heaven, knowing Cayden is there and how good it is, and it uplifts and breaks my heart at the same time. I've been savoring this poignancy since it is one that does not overwhelm me and it is a source of hope.

The Orclette asked me the other day why I was still sad, why I still had days where I struggled to function normally. I told her that it would never truly go away, but that she and Miniorc were sources of joy for me.

It has to be a rough time to be a friend to someone, after they've lost someone. I'm fortunate (not really fortunate, of course, since I'd rather it not happen at all) in that my friends understand grief. There are some who still look as though they don't know how to talk to me, but there are others who understand, who don't flinch when I talk about my memories of Cayden.

I have better days and weeks. I'm not always morose, in fact quite the opposite. I know I'll see him again, that he is safe. During our Sunday service last week during the singing I saw, in my mind's eye, if you will, a little boy that looked like Miniorc but not quite. I couldn't focus on that image too long, and I don't know if it was me, merely thinking about what he looked like, or a vision, but it is comforting. As it says in the Bible,

"The last enemy to be destroyed is death." 1 Corinthians 15:26.

And it is Friday.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Maker's Diet: it makes so much sense.

For those of you not familiar with Joel Rubin's The Maker's Diet it's a Creationist lifestyle that parallels the Primal/Paleo lifestyle (they both end up at similar ending points but are based on different premises). I've talked about it but never actually read his book (I think I skimmed it at one point). I'm still not through the whole thing-I read a chapter yesterday filled with terms I hadn't heard before and came out of it knowing only that phytates are bad. The rest of it went over my head.

The book was written to illustrate Rubin's fight with Crohn's, which he very nearly died from and now has no symptoms of. He tried every diet out there, visited numerous legitimate doctors and also tried numerous quack ones. No one could permanently help him. Once he came across this Biblically-based one he jumped into it feet first and had an amazing transformation. He became convinced that many of our illnesses stem from our modern diet-something which many people nowadays are becoming convinced of, Christian or not. He wrote the book and started a company (blah, forgot the name and the book is in my kitchen and I'm not in my kitchen ...) in order to help people who had issues that weren't being fully treated by modern medical practices (he does emphasize that the medical world is very necessary, especially emergency care, but that adequate preventative care is almost non-existent).

What I find fascinating is the plan's basis on Scripture. Not just Genesis-there is a diet out there called based on that book but I found it unlivable-but the entirety of the Old Testament. The emphasis is on the foods God made for us: vegetables, fruit, dairy from cows or goats, seeds, legumes, fermented stuff, and kosher meats. Rubin points out that the ancient Israelites were spared from many of the diseases that plagued people groups around them (unless they were actively ignoring God, which did happen frequently) due to the advanced hygiene instructions (for the time, and they even apply to modern times) that God had given them. He goes into quite a bit of detail, delving into different academic realms to illustrate his point (i.e. anthropology and archaeology). That part of the book I totally understood.

One thing that both Damm and I won't be giving up, and which Rubin proposes one should, is caffeine. I drink two cups daily and then switch to decaf. It's not that I couldn't live without caffeine-I could, and have-but that it's part of my morning ritual. Damm simply isn't going to give up caffeine. Another thing which he cautions against is tattoos, but his approach is different from any I've heard before. He cautions against them because of possible blood infections (which definitely can happen if you don't use a reputable and responsible artist) and possible nerve damage of tattooed skin. It's too late for me, and his advice probably wouldn't have stopped me anyway, but it's very interesting.

So I'm excited. I love Mark Sisson's blog and will continue to read it (and other Primal/Paleo sites), but I simply cannot agree with his starting point (which is basically that humans evolved from a non-human state). Rubin's stance is that we were wonderfully created with loving detail by God, as He said in His word, and that I agree with (not trying to preach here, but it is what I believe, and I would be remiss if I did not write about it).

Friday, April 5, 2013

I have found yet another side effect to having had a MC (not sad, just frustrating). Paleo diet, anyone?

I mean, other than the emotional and physical weirdness that occurs and that is completely normal. What I didn't expect was to suddenly gain three pounds and then not be able to take it off. I'm currently nine pounds heavier than I was pre-Cayden.

At this point if I expressed my angst most people would say not to worry about it, that I've been through a trauma and it just takes a while to go back to normal. I know this. It doesn't really help. For me, and I'm sure for countless others, getting back to normal, whatever that was for you, is a way of reasserting control in a situation that is out of your control. So it is hard to accept that yet another thing is not up to you, especially when you've had eating disorders in the past like I have (which is another way of trying to assert control over something). I won't return to those habits-God pulled me out of that way of life for a reason-and fortunately I have a set pattern of how to lose weight to return to: the paleo lifestyle.

I've done more reading on the subject and found some new blogs, new perspectives. Did you know you can subsist entirely on raw meat? Peggy the Primal Parent (who wrote the blog) is absolutely fascinating. I read about her experiences eating paleo during pregnancy and came away truly inspired. Of course, being inspired doesn't really help when you're in the throes of morning sickness (I'm not, but I keep on reading about this stuff. Haven't truly let go yet.). I've hit the whole9life website (the co-founder is pregnant and also writing about her experiences) and have started reading Mark Sisson's blog posts again (for awhile I couldn't read about meat. It was almost as bad as smelling it). And I've returned to my old favorite foods: eggs, bacon, eggs and bacon. With a few other things on the side.

We've also decided to be outside as often as possible. We bought an annual pass to a nearby park and have gone hiking there (photos of the Miniorc and Orclette hiking up a storm coming soon). We've continued walking to our favorite coffee place (about a four-mile round trip). My parents and I have taken our cool new jogging stroller (it's awesome-I'll take photos of it some day) out into the desert for some resistance training and my little container garden is coming along nicely. I'll take photos of that as well one of these days.

So, happy Friday. I'm always excited when this day comes around, because it means I get to #1 sleep in and #2 play outside. I think I had some sort of Vitamin D deficiency this winter because my cravings for sunshine have been pretty strong and I found it necessary to supplement. I might also need to buy some sunscreen that isn't expired ...

Friday, March 29, 2013

Our night with the arrested dudes. Or rather, in the ER.

Have I shared the story of how I took the Miniorc to the ER for the worst diaper rash case in history? He had just been born. My mother and I were exhausted (Damm was in AIT) and perhaps not thinking entirely rationally. He had been uncomfortable, crying and not sleeping. When my mom changed his diaper she saw blood, so of course we were in full emergency mode. I had no idea who to call so we went to the ER, where we found out it was a diaper rash. While we were there, though, we got to experience the antics of someone completely drunk or high (not sure which) who was bursting through room doors all over the ER. I had gone to the bathroom so it was just my mom and her newborn grandson when he came through our door. I don't think she's viewed that ER in the same benevolent way again.

Anyway, back to the present time. Damm has been having excruciating headaches. He described it as a 10 on that 1-10 scale (hah. Sorry love, I've been through labor, and they told me my pain couldn't be a 10). Then yesterday he began to get dizzy, numb and also nauseous so he scheduled a doctor's appointment. She told him to go to the ER so we dutifully went and prepared to wait. And wait. And wait. I decided I had been quite spoiled by the many times I had brought the Orclette or Miniorc here, as they had been given a room immediately. When we finally were brought back, we got to share the room with a rather dubious looking character and his police escort. By the end of the hour I could tell his story better than he could, since he seemed to be on something and got various words confused (and he kept repeating the same things). He also broke down crying every five minutes or so. Fun, yes? And he wasn't the only one being escorted. The ER we frequent (and I do mean frequent; I recognized many of the personnel) seems to be where the police bring the ones needing medical attention.

At this point Damm finally was sent to various rooms to be tested. They did pretty much everything, and then we waited anxiously, since his symptoms could describe any number of things, many of them scary. When our PA came in and said he knew exactly what was wrong he almost looked jolly. I wondered if maybe he didn't get to give good news very often? Turns out all Damm had was sinusitis. His right sinus cavity is completely blocked/and infected. He's been put on steroids and antibiotics and we're hoping that maybe we've discovered the root cause of the fatigue he's been feeling, since he's not been able to breath out of his nose for years and sinus troubles can cause that.

So that was our fun and entertaining night in the ER. Not quite how I had envisioned spending my afternoon/evening, but now that Damm knows what's wrong he's relaxed (he had, as I'm sure many of us do when we have strange symptoms, convinced himself that something was seriously wrong) and we have good insurance to pay for the many expensive tests he underwent. And I have an amusing anecdote about the man who kept telling the police officer his life's story over and over for more than three hours.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Continuing on.

Did you know that Mary, mother of Jesus, personally takes care of the babies in heaven? The Orclette informed me of this fact a couple of weeks ago. It startled us at first-not being raised Catholic, we simply didn't talk or hear about Mary other than at Christmas-but then we agreed. Who knows? And her statement was beautiful, since she merely assumed that Jesus, who loves us, would want his own mama to take care of Cayden since we couldn't. She's come up with a few other tear-inducing observations as well, and also a song, which I had to ask her to stop singing. We had just visited his grave and I simply was not able to handle the refrain of "I love you Cayden". But it too was beautiful.

And here we are, nearly one month afterwards. We are back in our routines and it has helped. The concerned looks and hugs from people have stopped, which is good, since now I'm not prepared to handle them. I veer wildly from joyful to depressed with little warning. I've had a few panic attacks; nothing too serious, I've always been able to talk myself down from them. I've read that this is normal and due to hormonal fluctuations, which is reassuring, since it means that it will eventually stop. In a way this inconsistent emotional state is worse than continual grief, since I have no bulwark prepared for it.

And what truly has helped are these little guys, who need a somewhat stable parental unit:

(Writing thank you cards to their great-grandma, which probably didn't get sent out given the events that occurred after these were made)

Friday, March 8, 2013


As you may have surmised from the previous post our third child has preceded us to heaven. At our thirteen week appointment they couldn't find a heartbeat. They rushed me into the ultrasound room to take a closer look. It was one of the hardest things I've had to do, since I knew I was looking at my dead baby. Damm wasn't there; we hadn't had any inkling of anything being wrong so I thought it was just going to be a routine, in-and-out thing. It was a Tuesday. Friday we went into the hospital so they could induce me. I asked for another ultrasound, not because I thought they were wrong but because I knew I would have nightmares if I didn't make sure. Once again, no movement, no blood flow, no heartbeat.

So they put the little pills in and we settled down to wait. Once the pain hit I asked for drugs because I didn't want to feel anything. For six hours Damm and I sat together, trying not to feel or think. Then my water broke and I did too. All the emotions I had tried to control became uncontrollable. I asked Damm to read verses to me from the Bible about heaven. Then our midwife came in and was able to pull the baby out. I asked to see, dreading it but knowing I needed to. I think that was another worst moment; I vaguely remember sobbing the words "Oh God" and then "don't let me drop him" (they were able to determine it was a boy" as they gave him to me to hold. We took pictures, they took pictures and it's something I don't think I will ever share. He was perfect; I could see all ten minuscule fingers and toes. Then they left us to recover and to monitor my condition. An hour or so later I asked to see Cayden again. I hadn't been able to say I loved him or say goodbye when I had first held him. They brought him in, four inches long and weighing barely anything wrapped in a little knit hand towel. We said goodbye, I said I loved him, and then I asked them to take his body away. Once they determined everything was ok with me they discharged us. I asked for an Ambien so I wouldn't dream.

Then another few days of torture began. We scheduled his funeral for the following Thursday. Dreams, horrible ones, haunted me and I didn't want to sleep. I didn't feel like I could properly grieve until after the funeral. The day of the funeral I held myself together remarkably well. It was very small, very beautiful and just what I wanted. The baby area looks like a butterfly garden. That night the dreams stopped; I knew Cayden was safe in heaven and also safe on earth. The grieving, the kind that only time can try to subdue, has just begun.

People ask me how I am. I say I'm functional. Really, though, only Tolkien suffices:

“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep...that have taken hold.” 
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Return of the King

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Caoilfhionn Cayden Wauson

Caoilfhionn meant Fair.  Cayden meant Fighter.  But for the rest of my life Caoilfhionn Cayden will mean the sound the desert makes when it cries for you. 

I didn’t get a chance to meet you.  I didn’t get a moment to greet you.  I never held you in my arms.  I miss you though I never knew you.  I weep though I never heard you. 

God, take my child with you.  Raise my child like I never got to.  Teach my child like I wanted to.  Love my child like I do.

Caoilfhionn Cayden Wauson 
Born in heaven but not on Earth.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Frontier Letters(Story)

This is intended to be a drawn out story told through the correspondence of a young soldier on the frontier.  The grammar is intentionally bad for a multitude of reasons.  One because I am not taking the time to check it.  Two because the soldier isn't supposed be well versed in letters.  Three because of One.  Hopefully unlike all my other projects this one will actually proceed and not end up unfinished.

Dear mum,                                                                     17 February 23

I arrived in Friendless yesterday evening.  there is not much here.  just a few streets and then the barracks.  I have been assigned to the third boat squad of A company and will be patrolling as soon as tomorrow.  They issued me a rifle, a uniform and 2 canteens.  I am expected to provide my own knife and like I mentioned before I left I will be being paid 13 silvers a month.

  I am not entirely sure that the Sgt even knows I am here but he at least pointed me to a cot to sleep on and told me where the privies are.  It is weird.  Because there is water everywhere the whole town sits up on stilts and everything has a wet damp moist feel to it.  At the same time tough it might as well be a desert.  We have to import drinkable water from a nearby safe-spring and we never know if we will run out.  there are extreme precautions made regarding out water supply and many of us are assigned guard duty throughout the night to prevent sabotage.  Outside of water and ammo the only concern is making sure the boats are maintained and that we keep the town secure. 

Besides soldiers there are I guess about 100 civilians in this town.  So when you add the three companies and the supply folk at the fort we might get 300 souls total in the area.

The enemy won’t attack such a number directly I am told but I’m repeatedly assured that they will quickly attack us whenever they can once we leave the safety of “shore” and patrol the deeper waters or thicker forests.

Each of them holds a different set of challenges.  In the deeper water areas there are “things” that live under the water and if disturbed will rise and attack boats.  On the other hand in the thick forest areas the trees are close enough together as to block our visibility and force us to get within touching distance of the branches, which holds the danger of vermin, ambushes, and man-eating vines.

But don’t worry.  I know that only 3-4 soldiers are lost each month and that if I keep my head down and follow orders I will make out all right.  Two years out here and I can save enough to go to school and become a doctor like you always wanted me to.

With lots of love and respect,
Pvt. Karold
3rd Squad A/32/8th River 

Dear mum,                                                                                24 February 23

Last week went well.  I went on several short patrols and am getting comfortable maneuvering the boat and keeping in formation.  I haven’t seen anyone die or get lost since I’ve gotten here and in fact am starting to think that everything will go extra well.

It is difficult to realize how thirsty you are getting because everything is so moist and foggy here but if you don’t remember to drink water regularly you can just pass out.  It happened to me once that I started to get dizzy but Corporal Dawson noticed it and beat me soundly for not drinking regularly.  I have since made it a habit to drink every half hour.

The water around Friendless is so ugly and foul that I cannot imagine why anyone would want to live here much less why our nation desires to protect it.  Everything I own is perpetually damp and I really miss seeing the sun or clouds. 

I am supposed to go on a longer two day patrol next week to investigate one of the so called “tree ponds”.  They are not really ponds but are places where the tree roots have grown so close together that they make natural little valleys or ponds above the water where you can get fresh water and can make camp without fear of falling into the water.  Several smugglers have made allegations that it is being used by the rebels as a base of operations and they are sending a company out to investigate.

I am eager to find and fight the enemy and also to get past the “newbie stage”.  They have been breaking in our company because we are the “new company”.  So we don’t get to go on the long patrols and see action.

With lots of love and respect,
Pvt. Karold
3rd Squad A/32/8th River 

 Dear mum,                                                                                        3 Mar 23

Still haven’t seen combat yet, but have now seen a man die.  We were returning from a fruitless search of the treepond when our scout spotted a trail in the water.  We adjusted course and in the process Pvt Umbrage took his skiff too close to a low hanging branch and the vines just reached out and grabbed him.  The men nearest him quickly pulled up and cut him free using their bayonets but by the time he was free the poison set in and he was starting to turn purplish orange.

The Lt said there was nothing that could be done for him and they shot him and towed his skiff back to Friendless.  We had a brief ceremony at the Chapel and then put him on the pyre and sent his body to join his soul. 

It was shocking how quick he changed from a living person to a dead thing.  The other soldiers have assured me over and over that although the poison would have taken several hours to kill him it would have been extremely painful and there is absolutely no cure for it after that point.  I have resolved to memorized the signs for the deadly vines and will commit myself to avoiding them even when caught up in the excitement of the hunt.

A small package of his effects was compiled to be mailed to his family along with a letter from the Lt.  As for his weapons and ammo they were split among the rest of us as evenly as possible with an eye towards the ones who need particular items.  I received his bayonet as my rifle did not have one.  His skiff will be set aside for the next batch of new recruits.

I am grateful that it wasn’t me but feel bad that it happened and feel bad that I’m happy it wasn’t me.  I am no longer so blissfully positive about my time here and desire that you pray for me at every opportunity.

With lots of love and respect,
Pvt. Karold
3rd Squad A/32/8th River 

 Dear mum,                                                                                  10 Mar 23
We were shot at this week a couple of times on patrol.  No one was wounded but one skiff was holed and had to be towed back.

The first time I simply dove for cover on my skiff and although I was thinking desperately of what I should do I found myself frozen unmoving when the last shots faded away.  Corporal Dawson gave me a firm thumping for my lack of action that night and I swore to make certain I remedied that fact in the next engagement.

The second time I spun and fired blindly towards the sound of the shot.  Repeatedly.  Once again I received corrective guidance from Dawson as I had apparently been stupidly wasteful of precious ammo.  In this case however the Scouts were able to recover a trail and we followed it for about six hours to no avail.

I cannot see how they can follow a “trail” left on water but they have demonstrated it repeatedly without failure around the waters close to Friendless and I’ve been regaled many times about their superb tracking abilities by the other soldiers here at the barracks.

I finally received the first of your letters, the one dated from January.  There is about an 8 week delay in sending and receiving letters and I can see that you sent it while I was still in the Basic Rivermans course.
I am glad to hear about Ole Clever and hope you and the family continue to enjoy the springtime weather.  Say hi to the Sun for me. 

I do not know when I will next be able to write as we are preparing for a longer expedition and I may be gone all week long but be assured I will remedy that with my next correspondence.

With lots of love and respect,
Pvt. Karold
3rd Squad A/32/8th River 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Creating life is hard.

And I'm not really creating it, just observing as my body does what it was created to do. We are out of the first trimester, into the second. I really, really need to go by the doc's office and get the drug testing done that they now require before my next appointment. I don't want any funny looks. And when did drug testing become a normal thing? And why do I have to go to a separate office? This is why you forego all doctor's appointments til you're eight months pregnant (like I did with Miniorc, although it wasn't by choice) and then they panic and only make you come to appointments. No blood testing, no wandering around the HUMONGOUS complex trying to find room numbers. Stupid heads.

So some pregnant bloggers I read do this picture posting thing every week of how big they're getting. I won't be doing that. It weirds me out when people merely observe that I'm "showing" now. I still feel like they're somehow calling me fat or that they have x-ray vision and they're peering into my insides. Not logical, but what do you expect? And I really hope you weren't expecting a cohesive, logical blog post because right now I'm incapable of making one. Words are hard too, especially if people expect you to put them into the right order. Fortunately I live and work with people who are good at guessing.

I have gained two pounds. I'm tracking this time because I've gained quite a lot in the past and I want to see if I can keep it down to what they deem "normal". Don't worry, I'm not being crazy and dieting or exercising fanatically. And I'm aware that I do have to gain some weight. Why do people always freak out when a pregnant person mentions she's trying not to gain too much? Especially if that person has already admitted that she gained 50-60 pounds both pregnancies? Obviously we are not dealing with someone who doesn't want to eat. But no, freak outs happen. "You're eating for TWO! You HAVE to GAIN WEIGHT! NO DIETING!"

I'm stuck with books that are like Terry Pratchett's and movies/shows that are like The Big Bang Theory. I am too empathetic when I'm not pregnant to deal with anything serious when I am. I did laugh when one blogger I read (SortaCrunchy, she's great) wrote about how emotional she was and how she had to turn off Dexter because it got too bad. And I think she's still watching Once Upon A Time. I can't touch those shows with a ten-foot pole, especially Dexter. I guess that means I'm super-empathetic. It's all those history classes. Too many things that they do in entertainment shows have been done in real life for me to find them amusing anymore. On the other hand, if you follow that link and read about how Les Mis was too much for her, I had no difficulty sitting through Les Mis, because the young men were completely idiotic AND Eponine should have gotten the stupid young man she fancied. I say idiotic and stupid because their plan to overthrow  the monarchy was laughable and their reading of the mood of the French people completely wrong. And Cosette had no personality whatsoever.

Anyway, that's enough rambling from me. If you didn't understand something don't worry, I get that a lot. Usually I can tell by the facial expression. It gets that slightly confused and desperate look that doesn't want to upset the pregnant lady by letting her know she said something unintelligible.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Informed High Level Officials

 me:  "The Obama administration has crafted a legal argument for the targeted killing of a U.S. citizen if an "informed, high-level official" decides he is a ranking member of al-Qaeda who poses "an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States,""

 him:  Oooo, I like this
But I think it doesn't cover the middle ground

 me:  yeah what if I decide someone is a threat to my cookies?

 him:  If the "informed, high-level official" only believes them to be "an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States" I think he should have the right to throw a black bag over his head, put him in the back of a van, and move him to an undisclosed location for questioning
We wouldn't want to kill an innocent after all

 me:  hrm...
would he personally have the right or would it have to be done by another non-informed, lower-level person?
Because the more people you tell the less secure you are

 him:  Well of course he could delegate

 me:  (oh btw speaking of killing people and not telling them.... check out misfits.... warning mature audiences only)
can he delegate the decision?

 him:  As a highly informed person he could delegate the whole process to whoever he wanted

 me:  because if I'm an informed-high-level-cookie I don't want to spend my time making decisions about small fry

 him:  Exactly
Heck, if there seem to be a lot of these people he might even make a department out of it
Of course it would have to be off the books, wouldn't want spies finding out about it

 me:  also what defines high level?
shoelace length?
my shoelaces are really long and lots of people try and take my cookies and I've got a department of little kids to delegate to

him:  Duuuuuude

 me:  I'm sure they've thought of all these things already though.  It is probably on the post-it that fell off the document that they gave to the guys who leaked the info to the guys who would write about it

Monday, February 4, 2013

Reading Beyond Courage

The book by Dorthy Cave regarding the Battling Bastards of Bataan.

Debating buying this.

Wanting to buy Warmachine or Warhammer.

Not wanting to paint ANYTHING.

And that is about it.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

We are awake again.

You know, my memories of being pregnant with both the Orclette and Miniorc are mercifully dim. I say mercifully, because I remember enough to know that if I well and truly remembered the experience I would have had Damm snipped the moment the Orclette was born. I think it's that way with quite a few people, although I know a few who claim to love the experience. In case it's not clear, I don't love the journey. I understand the necessity and I'll bear whatever I need too but really, I love the end, when you finally get to meet the little person and life, which has sort of been on hold, goes forward again.

We are almost out of the first trimester, and this experience has been different from the first two. With both the Orclette and Miniorc I was a bit tired, but nothing like the bone-crushing weariness I've had with this one. For several weeks I would make it home from work, stagger onto the couch, and lie there prone until I fell asleep an hour or two later. Now I am able to participate in activities again, and we even went on a 4-mile jaunt this past weekend. I've had some nausea but nothing like what I had with the Miniorc. I was still able to function, although my diet subsisted of chips and cheese for a while. Now I just have indigestion, which probably won't completely go away. Isn't that lovely? At least I can eat eggs and drink coffee again.

Another change is that I'm already wearing different clothes. It's not all maternity; I found quite a few shirts that are drapy and yoga-esque that will fit perfectly for months to come. My jeans still fit but only because they're low-rise. The clothes I wear disguise my figure fairly well but the stomach has expanded (I despise the word "bump". Don't ask me why, I just do). This is taking some getting used to, since I don't remember having to transition until I was four months or so with the Orclette and Miniorc.

My job is going well. You might remember me being pleased that it involves lifting up to 50 lb boxes. It still does, but I have started modifying some of what I do. The heaviest things I let others deal with or I ask for help. The recommendation that I not lift anything over 20-lbs made me laugh, since 20 lbs barely feels like anything to me. 40 lbs is the limit I have set for myself for now, with the expectation that I might need to adjust further on down the line. The flurry of "Be careful!" from my co-workers has eased a bit as they've seen me carry along with no difficulty.

And there you are. Isn't being pregnant fun?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Dec 22nd 1944

It is the turning point of the battle of the bulge.  As we stand right now I think we are looking at what will eventually turn into a massive US victory.  The US only has about half of its total troops on the board and seems to have successfully obtained containment on their breakout.

Bastogne held by virtue of the German player's attention being elsewhere.  Just long enough for the 4th armor to arrive and the 101st Airborne to come back and provide support.
 In the center, just East of Manhay was where the greatest threat was felt.  Two turns ago the SS panzers had exploded out 20 miles past the US line.  Over the next two days the Germans would get caught up with fighting the troops of the 82nd Airborne and defending a city that wasn't really worth it.  As a result the US forces were able to come to support the Airborne troops who were slowing the panzers down.  And here we have an effectively sealed gap.
 To the north US forces have held the majority of the German army at the river and are well equipped to continue holding until the rest of the pocket starts to collapse.
 Here to the east we can see that the Germans do have some more men working their way west but it will be a case of too little too late.
Because on the far west even the British are starting to get into the action and more men are rushing east to reinforce the center gap which you can just see in the top right of the photo.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

School schedules and such nonsense

This semester I am ONLY taking 13 hours.  Which is a great relief.  But surprisingly enough the school load has expanded to fill any gap in work that I might have been experiencing.

I am taking the following courses:

Leadership development
Leadership development lab
Undergraduate Research in Radar.

Due to my participation in an organization that takes a lot of extra non-school-related time up I found myself with a two page paper due the first day of class and spent the three days before that working on organizational things 10 hours a day.

I have a 10k word document that I have to finish editing and proofing very soon this next week, a project I have to oversee for some sophmores, a three page paper due Tuesday, 30 pages of the radar book left to read, and three papers that I have to read(average of 27 pages)[Paper 1, Paper 2, and paper 3 is along the same lines.]

None of this is terribly critical but it is a lot more reading than I'm used to by the third day of classes.  Even as an engineer.

I'm both completely thrilled at how awesome the topics are and overwhelmed by how dry each paper is :P.

Yay for Radar classes.

Wulfa is busy trying not to be tired/sick all the time while working 40 hours a week.  She is just now starting to feel better and get her energy back which is thrilling to me because it is nice to talk to her before she goes to bed(Two weeks ago she was sleeping close to 11-12 hours a day and I'd go days where the only conversations we'd have were "have a nice day at work" and "babe wake up from the couch you need to go to sleep in bed").

The munchkins are growing by leaps and bounds and completely overwhelm me with how awesome they are .  Eldest is almost ready to do "fun runs" and is always wanting to practice running so she can talk her Grandma into running with her.  Second is our cuddler and wants attention and to do EVERYTHING that Eldest does.  And for Third, we saw a heartbeat last Tuesday, which was yay.

This semester is much happier than last semester and I'm hoping it stays that way.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Battle Analysis: Tolvajarvi

The following slides are from my Battle Analysis this semester.  The picture in the first slide is from the cover of the game "A Frozen Hell" and the black and white maps are modified from the book "The Winter War: Russia’s Invasion of Finland, 1939-1940by Robert Edwards.  The terrain map is also from the war game.  A great deal of the statistics are quotes from his book.  The only material that is mine is the analysis and the slide arrangement.  This paragraph is only to explain up front which material is mine and which isn't. 

"Irg" pretty much was the same as National Guard or Militia Units.  They had almost no combat experience before this war and were drawn up only as Finland slowly realized how screwed they were.
 The Russian advance seemed at this point to be completely unstoppable.  There was simply too many men, too little supplies and no fortifications to stop them.
 This is NASTY terrain.  Horrendous.  Here as an interlude are some pictures from the internet about this terrain:

 And here we have our heroes running for their lives, throwing up feeble resistance and retreating across that tiny little land bridge.

It doesn't do much good.  Cheerily here come the Russians and drive the Finns from the peninsula, the large island in the middle of the lake and to the far side of the lake. 

LTC Pajarvi was a bad-ass.  I am in awe of the man.  He had a weak heart, he suffered from like 3 near heart attacks in this week long battle and yet he kept pushing himself to the bring of exhaustion making absolute certain that his men were in the right place with the right attitude at the exactly right time.  

His night raids completely destroyed Russian morale and organization while giving the Finnish troops some good news for a change.

The Russian troops were in poor morale to start with.  I mean hell, they had been told they would be welcomed by throngs of cheering communist sympathizers....not sniped at by the White Death, while trudging through waste high snow along booby trapped roads that cross the ice swamps that time forgot.

Then all of a sudden they smell sausage dinner and flip off their leaders and go eat something warm for a change.

And here you get to see LTC Pajari again.  A Russian REGIMENT has just stormed his soup kitchen flanking his defensive force and cutting him off from his relief.  What does he do?  He grabs a rifle and about 100 of his staff and they pin the REGIMENT in place until his relief can arrive.  This is less than 24 hours after he personally led a midnight raid across a frozen fog covered lake against an enormous Russian force.

And here is where the tide turns.  You know in movies where the good guys see some improbable hero stand up and charge the enemy and they all expect him to die...but he doesn't?  He survives just long enough that they begin to realize they might stand a chance?  That is exactly what frail ol'Pajari did.  And his men start to respond.

They drive back the regiment eating their dinner.  A young LT grabs a company and decides to ambush a battalion and succeeds.

The center position holds against a belated attack from the main Russian force.

And then the next day Talvela and Pajari counter attack and drive the Russians back.  Once they start to retreat back the route is on.  

Over the next few weeks the Finns will advance for the first(and only) time in the war.  Several Russian Divisions will cease to exist.  Wiped out to a man.

Edwards described the victory as this:
"...for a scratch unit, hastily assembled and critically short of equipment, to have routed and effectively annihilated two entire Soviet divisions was a feat of arms unparalleled in modern war, indeed it more properly belonged in the same order of importance as Thermopylae".

 This bit is only to explain the analysis to follow.

And there you have it.  Hopefully this will make you intrigued enough to read Edward's book or play the game.  I enjoyed them both and learned a lot that I had never even heard of before playing this game.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Frozen Hell

 So if you haven't been able to tell I've been posting over the past week/weekend about war games I played over the past year.  This was the second TCS game that me and Wulfa's dad played and I have here two photos from the two games we played.  Unlike Bloody Ridge(48 hrs), and Korellia(10 hours) this game is massive.  Absolutely massive.  I felt like we clocked around 120 hours each time we played it.

Just like Bloody Ridge this game requires you to write orders and abide by them.  And like bloody ridge one side is very good at implementing(the Finns) and the other sucks at it(the Russians).

In both games I played the Russians.  In the first one(seen above) I absolutely dominated.  Unfortunately this was because I was reading the rules exactly as written and was abusing a key watch tower to use my artillery to demolish the Finns.

The second game, seen below went a lot slower as we(after a short chat with the designers) adjusted that rule and forced me to spot for my artillery up close.  I still think I would have won but the game ended on a draw as we were forced to take a 2 month hiatus due to school overwhelming me(he's retired he can play anytime :P unlike me).

Still I had a lot of fun and this game led to me learning a WHOLE lot about the Finnish Winter war of 1939 which was and is AMAZING.  Seriously if you love hearing about how a bunch of rag-tag underdog farmers stand up against 7 to 1 odds with equipment nearly a century old vs an empire with crack new equipment ....and win.  Then read about the Winter War.

The Finns lost territory in the settlement but ask Poland, the Balkans, and the Baltic States..... what they got was nothing less than a mind blowing victory.  Screw Asia...never fight a land war in Finland.

Also, buy "A Frozen Hell" and play it.  Lots of fun if you like highly detailed, crappy terrain, slog fests at -20 degrees Celsius over frozen lakes rolling with fog.


Over winter break it snowed.  Which is a pretty rare thing around here.

The munchkins wanted to play in it so during the night they placed plastic buckets outside to try and capture enough for playing snowball fights.

It worked out pretty well for them and resulted in about an hours worth of outside snow fun before the cold and wet got to them and forced a retreat inside for coco and cartoons.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bloody Ridge

This is a picture of the much more complicated Tactial Combat Series(TCS) game system from multi-man publishing.  This is the smallest TCS map and resulted in a game that took approximately 48 hours worth of game play(split up into about 8 six hour sessions).

In this game system you have to write orders in advance and then roll to see if you can implement them and your tactical moves have to follow and abide by your strategical written and implemented orders.  Which leads to the occasional fits of frustration when your opponent has done something clever and you keep failing the implementation to counter it and he is free to exploit the hell outa you.

In this particular game the Japanese Player(yellow tokens) must be aggressive and plan way way in advance.  If you do not attack from as many angles as possible as the Japanese(they start on the far left of the picture) you will find yourself where the player in the picture is....with far too few troops to take the ridge and the US artillery ripping you to a thousand little pieces.

The US player on the other hand has to spend the first few in-game days in utter panic.  He has amazing implementation rolls and good troops but only two battalions vs three Japanese regiments.  They will hide in the jungle, flank you and choke you out.  If they kill your artillery it is probably game over for you as that is really the only thing you have that can stop them with any reliable success rates.

We played two games.  The first one the Japanese player completely screwed up his orders and was in an un-winnable position by the fifth in game hour.  The second one lasted the full game and looked like it would be his victory but once the US got all of its artillery it wiped out two whole regiments in about four barrages.

Probably the shortest and simplest TCS game around.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Korellia'44 review

I got this game for my birthday/Christmas present from the in-laws.  We played it two times over Christmas and a third time over new years.  In terms of game play each game seems to run about 30-40 min a turn with a full game on average lasting 14 turns.

"On Average" is easily calculated thanks to the type of game that this is.  You see unlike every other war game I've played with Wulfa's dad this one has a variable number of turns.  To the right bottom you see a small box with numbers and a marker.  This represents Stalin's patience.  Each game turn the Russian player rolls 1d6 and on a 3 or lower Stalin loses one point of patience.  At zero patience the game is over and you count victory points(The red hexes).

Without that randomness this game is a walk for the Russian player... you just meander forwards slowly and your troops out number and overwhelm the Finnish(who the entire game will have meager resources and be running around sniping at the Russians).

But with the patience system the intensity is kicked up.  You know you have to move your troops quickly, you know that each delay, each failed battle is you losing the war significantly....each successful boss roll is a reprieve, each failure devastating.

There are four ways to get more boss points(you start at 3).  Two consist of getting rid of troops, and two consist of capturing the first two finish defensive lines.

Since you start at 3 points then by about turn 6 if you haven't captured the first line it is game over.  If you did capture it then by turn 8 if you haven't captured the 2nd line the game is over.

And those two lines together only count up to 10 points... of the 20 you need.

The one game we completed, I was playing Russian and on turn ~18(we weren't counting) I had 94% of the map and just barely had 21 points.  And it wasn't a guaranteed victory...I still had two boss points but he still had reinforcements and might have taken some of the VP's back.

Absolutely love this game and recommend it to anyone at all who plays war games.

As a note it can easily be played as a 3 player game if you split the Russian army into two players who are playing as a team vs the Finns.  The game mechanics which limit interaction between the armies make this a simple adjustment.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Dec 16th 1944 Near the Our River

The weather is bleak wintry fog soup with a side of nasty.  US air is grounded and no one is expecting any movement.  Then the guns begin drumming from across the river and suddenly nightmare weather gives way to nightmarish numbers of German troops on a counterattack.

The US forces near the Our River just a day's march north east of Bastogne are overwhelmed as 8 infantry divisions and 5 armored divisions come pouring across the river.

Four brigades of artillery are dissected like dead frogs due to lack of infantry screens and the middle of the front collapses.  The 106th is quickly pushed to the river and only about half its strength makes it across.  The 14th Cav brigade that was acting as advance scouts is lost, presumed dead.

To the north near Eisenborn and Kalterharberg the 99th and 2nd infantry divisions begin a careful retreat hoping to hold on until the 5th and 7th Armor Divisions and 1st ID can arrive.

To the south the 28th ID is driven off the line but manages to maintain its strength if not its battle lines.  In the extreme south elements fall back to Ettlebruck as they begin to be separated from the rest of their Division.

A few garrison units move up to try and delay the German breakthrough but without more US reinforcements the future looks glum.

My in-laws moved here back in like March of last year.  One of the plusses from their move is that we have been able to play board games regularly and in between semesters we've been able to get through quite a few.

Here is the game we are currently playing on Day 2, Mid-day, German Turn, US Barrage phase.  I'm about to respond feebly with my artillery(I am the US) after he has burst through the feeble defenses I start with.
The green lines are my basic planned defensive lines now after his break through.  If you click on the image and look closely you will see light green counters(US), grey counters(Germans) and black counters(SS).

The blue circles are the supply depots that I have and will be attempting to defend.  The Grey lines are my perception of his planned attack vectors.

He rolled quite well on his first turn and managed to wipe out entirely 4-5 of my artillery units before they fired a shot.  Additionally he overran several of my blocking infantry leaving the middle of the map wide open to exploitation.

I am pretty concerned because compared to the previous games we've played this one seems like a pretty bad position.

I have a TON of reinforcements coming though and I've been advised the German player is playing uphill in this setting.

Still.... that's a LOT of Germans with no-one to stop them.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The difference between Should/Rather and Am.

What I should be doing right now:

Rewriting/building my engineering capstone project's code from the ground up in order to make it more organized and clean.

What I'd rather be doing right now:

Cheerfully finishing up the last pages of an amazing novel that I just wrote*.

What I am doing:

Writing a blog post.

Saturday went splendidly in the manner that I overslept, but still went to work.  When I got to work I became very grouchy for being at work and not getting work done fast enough.  Then I came home to my house where everything is dirty.

So now I'm in the garage trying my best to ignore Matilda from the living room and trying not to be a complete #($* about how much I don't like this house or the stuff in it or my weekly schedule(lack there of).

I tried to look back at the early portions of this blog to see if I had always been as downer as I have been recently and I can't really tell because this blog was originally a game based blog it is really hard to tell.  Although I am fairly blarghed by the content of my early posts and how just ...... I'm not even really sure what to use to describe it.

*I haven't written a novel.  I just wish I had.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Another post.

At some point last year I stopped writing.  I was so caught up in my depression over finances, school and the future that I just stopped doing things.  I cut my reading down to nearly nothing and wasted a huge amount of time with tv and internet and saw my grades suffer, my house suffer, my kids suffer and generally all my output drop to negligible levels.

That isn’t to say I failed at everything but 2012 was definitively not a banner year for me.  And then to end it I started this winter break with turning 31 and feeling that I had done NOTHING with my life so far and how sucky I must be to be THIS OLD and not have a clue what I was doing.

I mean everyone else at this point has their masters, their own house, and perfect kids right? HAhahha.
So I shouldn’t have stopped writing.  Even with it not being my strongest point it gives me a chance to do something that doesn’t involve math and isn’t an assignment but is at least slightly productive.  It is like meditation for the non-meditating engineer.

My non-new-years-goals are to get back to the 180lbs I was in august and to get back into shape.  It is appalling how quickly depression and stress will take away your muscle and replace it with fat and sleepyness.

Additionally I want to get a 4.0 semester again and I really really want to land a decent internship that pays enough for me to afford to send the kids to their grandma’s for a few weeks this summer.

And well.  I guess that is enough.  OH wait…the story writing.  I want to write a full story.  Kinda like nananvavnblog whatsit that all the cool kids do in November but broken up over a year.

yeah that is about it.  Nothing much more.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Back to posting.

I’m at the park with the munchkins and wondering to myself if they should have been forced to wear a jacket or if it is perfectly reasonable to let them run around in long sleeve shirts if they aren’t feeling cold. 

I mean they are pretty obviously cold right now.  Except any mention of leaving makes them swear they aren’t cold. 

Well bother. 

I took my jacket off to show that I’m not cold so my parenting choices are valid because I’m not wearing  jacket while they are cold. 

I figure when I get so cold that I cannot focus any more it will be time for us to go.  And then we can go to the local bookstore and get hot chocolate.

A complete wonder to me was a joint blogcast/podcast whatever you call it.  Anyways this joint enterprise had Wil Wheaton, John Scalzi, Patrick Ruthfuss and the Bloggess all in one big bunch and a few things struck me.

First, all of them are about 10 years older than me.

Second, they all have kids.

Third, they all expressed a large amount of difficulty in handling life, the universe and everything.  Basically they went over how they felt like they sucked but then they got over it and became awesome.

Oh and the fact that all the people I consider awesome hang out together online in things like this. 

Which blows my mind. 

And they all seem so personable and normal and not a bit…. like the snobbish professor types I had imagined.  (well except the bloggess and wil wheaton… I imagined him as he is in big bang and I imagined her as someone akin to well… someone Lorelia Gilmore crossed with Cruella Devile’s fashion sense). 

And instead they simply seem like the cool kids who are just enough older than me that I can learn from them without them being my parents.

I was greatly cheered by this because secretly I rather constantly believe I suck and am failing at well everything unlike all the successful cheerful perfect people around me that have no problems at all I’m sure.


Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year's? What New Year's?

I was barely cognizant of the fact that New Year's had occurred. The reason? There's a third little orc taking all he/she needs from me and leaving me beyond tired. Tired enough to fall asleep on the couch at 6:30 p.m. and not even be interested in waking up til well into the next morning, although I have to get up at 5 a.m. (blah). Otherwise we're fine, although we did have a bad two weeks there. I was ready to take whatever kind of medicine they would give me if I could eat something other than cheese and bread. I shall be delivered of this little orc sometime in the latter half of summer.

And there. That's over with. I don't like making big announcements. I have yet to tell my workplace, although today might be the day since I have doctor appointment's coming up next week (again, blah). If I have to hear again how I shouldn't lift anything heavy because of my delicate condition my temper might suffer. What's heavy to one person isn't necessarily heavy to another. It's a case by case basis, and the sudden freedom to tell the pregnant lady exactly what she needs to do is something I don't look forward to.

But I could spend all day griping (I'm not the happiest pregnant person historically). Happy Friday!