Category Archives: Family

Yule 2013

2013-yule-wreath

I’ve finally come to terms with Christmas, replacing it completely with Yule in my heart and mind. Now, “the Christmas season” is something else entirely. Black Friday both repels and fascinates me. Watching the riots and fights and “mob shopping” on youtube has become a thing for me. But when proper Yule finally comes around and the Yule Wreath goes up at my folks’ house, all that negativity goes away. Hopes, dreams, and promises for the coming year… it makes me feel so good.

2013-yule-goat

This was the 2013 Yule Goat. Unfortunately I didn’t make him early enough that he stayed with us throughout the whole holiday season, as I believe is traditional now, but he was still a fine goat. There was a lot of trouble with cars starting right before Yule and lasting throughout, but everything that needed to be done eventually did get done.

2013-yule-goat-watchingMa and Pop watching the New Year’s Bonfire in the snow.

2013-yule-goat-startedMoments before the previous picture, the Yule Goat and Yule Wreath finally getting started. Every year I forget that Kansas has a steady wind that is decidedly uncooperative with anything to do with matches. Note to self, and to anyone else who wants to do this: make a little hole in the pile of straw beneath the wreath to get the fire started. The wreath itself will go up quickly, starting the goat.

2013-yule-goat-goingOnce the goat gets started on the Helheim Road, it doesn’t dally. This image is my new desktop! It was a lovely bonfire.

Our family had some setbacks this year, but our luck is strong and our wyrd well guarded. We put 2013 to rest in grand style, and are moving forward into 2014 with hope and strength.

Reviresco!

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2012 Year in Review

So here it is 2013, so time for another “year in review” blog!

spring-magnolia-001

Circle of life, and all that.  Here’s my magnolia tree early in the Spring. The lovely flowers bloom for about a week, then fall like snow.

Speaking of which, I spontaneously composed a poem to my friend Rod one day while we were on campus texting each other, late in our last semester at KU:

Cherry blossoms drift
softly on two travellers
trading cricket songs.

I remembered that just now while looking at the picture above, so I thought I would share it on RA.

KU-Kendo-Party-2012

That’s the KU Kendo/Kumdo Club, or most of us anyway, gathering for the end of year party. It was really nice, with a pile of great food, some very nice plum wine, and lots of good conversation! I didn’t play kendo nearly enough in 2012, which is something I plan to correct in 2013.

KU-Grad-001

AND I FINALLY GRADUATED! The most exciting thing to happen in 2012, hands down. That’s me and a friend from my non-fiction class, a Mr. Tim B. Rod was somewhere behind me and to my right, as he graduated too. I don’t normally go in for that sort of thing, but when we all put our arms around each other and sang the school song, it was all I could do to keep from crying like a child. A happy, happy child.

KU-Grad-003

KU-Grad-002

Some shots after the graduation ceremony. I carried different things to the ritual to remind me of who I was and what helped me achieve my goal: the pin and cords from Phi Alpha Delta, a 1″ button with the “dancing rudeboy” on it, a couple of dice, a Valknut carved from bone gifted to me by a friend from JBK, and, of course, my oxblood Dr. Marten boots. I don’t wear those much anymore, but damned if I was going to walk down the hill in anything else.

grad-photo-watermarked-001

This is the proof for my official graduation photo. As you can see, it came from Jolesch Photography. I have the full sized version, but I didn’t feel like scanning it just now…

hansel-and-gretel-001

New additions to the family: Hansel (on the right), and Gretel (on the left.) They are brother and sister cats that Ma picked up, and they settled in quickly, as you can see. It was very sad when Bob passed away, and the house just seemed so empty without a cat. Ma and Pop hadn’t been without a feline in the house since 1980, or so. I’m glad Ma adopted these two.

hansel-001

Hansel, doing what he does best.

graduation-party-001

OK, so I thought I was going to a generic summer family gathering. I thought the balloons that read “congratulations!” were sort of strange when I was walking up the stairs, but I was honestly surprised when I walked through the door and everyone yelled, “SURPRISE!” These wonderful, generous people had put together a surprise graduation party for me, and I was completely unprepared for it.

graduation-party-002

And they got me this awesome Dungeons & Dragons themed cake! They are awesome people, and I’m glad I have them in my life.

rotc-001

What else I’m glad to have in my life are my two sons! My youngest went to his first ROTC summer camp in 2012, and I picked him up that morning to drop him off at the school. Seeing him in his ACUs (or whatever they call them these days) put a lump in my throat. He looked all grown up and serious, and I suddenly thought to myself that he could be heading off for the Army in just a couple of years, rather than a summer camp. It’s a sobering thought. I couldn’t be more proud of him, though.

don-rotc-summer-camp

My and Pop drove out to Fort Riley to watch their final assembly. I can’t imagine that me and my mates looked much different that the above when we were at Fort Benning, all shaven headed and painfully young…

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Did I mention how proud we are of him? Because we are. Very.

house-001

This summer I began cleaning and fixing up the house. I started with the porch, because it had got pretty shabby. I’m going to finish up this summer, and over the winter I’ll be fixing up the interior. I may not get to leave “the Kansas Rectangle” as soon as I’d like, but while I’m here I’m going to make the best of it. It’s funny, because for years I couldn’t wait to finish college so I could shake the dust of this place off my feet, but now I’ve got a real solid life here. Before I wouldn’t have hesitated, but the deep connections I made after I got over my antisocial phase really make me think twice about heading off for the coast like I’ve been talking about. Maybe leaving Leavenworth would be enough, but for now my house is a really comfortable home, and I love my neighborhood (even if I hate the town it’s in.)

grandmas-table

Speaking of fixing up the interior of my home, I’ve got some interesting antique furniture, the above of which is probably my favorite. It’s on loan from my parents, not really mine, more of the family’s. This library table was pulled out of the river in northern Alabama following a gigantic flood upriver. Apparently there was a lot of stuff in the river because of it, and people were salvaging some really good furniture. My great-grand father fished this out for use, and later on my two uncles, Shorty and Jud, refinished it for my grandmother. When Grandma died Ma collected some things of hers to remember her, and this table was one of them. I’ve also got on loan from the family an antique bed frame and matching vanity, also former belongings of Grandma. It’s nice to have her things close and to use them. I miss her every day, and love her very much.

secretary-001

A recent acquisition, this secretary was only $20 from a local consignment store. It’s in pretty rough condition, but I like to think of it as character. It’s now a smoking station for my pipes and tobacco, and I love it. This photo was before I cleaned it up much.

ma-pingpong-001

Enough about stuff, here’s Ma representing the Environmental Protection Agency at the 2012 Kansas City Corporate Challenge. She’s an ace ping pong player (ping pong-er?), but unfortunately met another ace in the first round, and didn’t go further. So no medals this year, but I’m super proud of Ma.

6th-edition-release-001

What would an RA blog post be without mention of my hobby life? This is a snapshot I took at the midnight release of the 6th edition of Warhammer 40,000. My beloved Chaos Marines got a new codex in October, which I was very pleased with.

glorious-while-it-lasted

Yes, I am pleased with the new edition of both the game and my faction, even though I can no longer use the unit pictured above. Khârn leading a unit of twin Lightning Claw Chosen with Mark of Tzeentch was just too fun for them not to make illegal or ineffective. First 6th edition tweaked the melee weapon rules, making LC AP3, then the new codex said that ICs with different Marks than the unit can’t join them. And also MoT works different now. So there went my favorite answer to Grey Knights, and now I’m stuck with Abaddon/TDA retinue, or plasma Chosen, neither of which are nearly as fun. But, on the other hand, the new Baledrake has kept me happy.

Chaos-Apothecaries

Here’s the very last conversion I did in 2012, speaking of hobby. The new Chaos Marines codex gives us Marks separate from Icons, which is cool (though it sucks that Icons lost the deepstrike guidance ability.) I’ve been using the Icon of Excess for different troops to help keep them alive in the new, shoot-y game, and having a model that confers FNP just screamed Apothecary to me. Because this makes more sense to me than a magic flag that nobody esle can pick up once it gets dropped. And the Iron Hounds aren’t into the Ruinous Powers anyway. Also, my lawyer advises me that I must say that those models are copyright Games Workshop, because I used GW bits to make them and all that…

friends-001

I’m bad about keeping connections, but I do try. Here I am with some old friends last Autumn, Amanda M. and Joe E. Even in the wild parts of my life I managed to make and keep decent friends, and they are two of them I have a lot of love for. I have a lot of great people in my life. Some of them I see every week, some of them I only see rarely, and some of them, unfortunately, I really don’t get to see at all anymore. Such is life, but I always have my family and friends with my in spirit, wherever I am.

Yule-Goat-2012-001

Speaking of great friends, I did Yule with Mike L. and his family, who are always generous and kind to me. For New Year’s we had the usual Yule Goat and Yule Wreath. This year I think we made the best Yule Goat yet. I say that every year, but that’s because we’ve been getting better at it every year. It snowed on New Year’s Eve, so it was nice and seasonal, though it kept guests away on account of the roads. It had stopped by the time we got to my favorite part:

yule-goat-002

2012: it was a very good year!

In the interest of tracking these sorts of things, here is some information about the blog itself:

top-5-posts-2012

RA isn’t really a gaming blog, but the gaming posts are the most read thing I do. The unboxing I did for the Battletech 25th Anniversary Introductory Box remains the most popular thing ever, probably because I list every mech included, which is the sort of thing I would want to know if I were going to buy it. Which is, of course, why I included it. In an attempt to make my blog hobby relevant, and pursue site hits and all that, I’ve got a review of the Reaper Bones minis that I’m working up, too. That will probably be a good one for visits, too.

top-searches-2012

Homemade Camper made the list of top searches again. WTF people?

reader-locations-2012

My readers are from every-damn-where. Everywhere that people care about 40k, anyway. Most of my readers are looking for conversion ideas, is my guess.

monthly-stats-2012

And here is the chart for 2012. Not bad, considering I didn’t really post much this year. My popular posts were all from 2011, I think, when I was much more diligent about hobby blogging.

So that’s the 2012 year-in-review. It was a great year, and I’m looking forward to 2013. I know it’s going to be a good one too!

Reverisco!

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Filed under Budo, Event, Family, Iaido, Kendo, Learning, Personal Reflection, Right Living, The Heathen Gods, University of Kansas

200th Post & Some WIP 40k Painting & Modeling

This is my 200th post on RA, so of course it has to be a self referential reflection.

Here’s the stats for RA so far:

I started in August of 2009, went through several site reorgs, spiked in July 2010 when I was blogging from Cambridge in England, then climbed back up to those levels after I accumulated enough hobby posts to interest random people from the internet and now I’m sitting at 600+, which was where my Cambridge journals spiked in 2010.

My post about what’s inside the Battletech 25th Anniversary box is a popular search. Less so but still a regular search is my unboxing of the 4th Edition D&D Essentials “Red Box”. And for whatever odd reason a lot of people search for “home made camper” and wind up reading about when I went to the 10th Annual Greaserama Car Show. My 40k modeling and painting posts drive most of my non-subscribed traffic, and following on that are people looking for posts about Asatru/Heathen holidays. Today somebody came here after searching for “fat sensei”, and I’m still puzzling that one out. My kendo and iaido posts, as sadly as infrequent as they’ve become (due to my busted knee and busy school schedule) pull in regular traffic too, but much less so than my hobby posts.

This isn’t a terribly busy website, as far as blogs go. There are folks who get 600 hits in an hour, probably, but I don’t care. It’s not about that for me, but it does indicate a healthy amount of activity and at least some levels of usefulness. This is a vanity page for the most part, an online journal and blog of my own activities, but here and there people do find it worth looking at, so that’s good. It also gives me something to do, and a soapbox, however small, for certain varied opinions of mine.

Enough of that mess, here’s some Warhammer 40k models I’m currently working on:

So last night was Halloween, and anybody following this shouldn’t be surprised when I say that the Iron Hounds are a Halloween inspired warband. It’s my favorite holiday and I really dig orange/black, so why not? I thought it appropriate to kill some time today to work on my Chaos Sorcerer before the son came over to help me carve pumpkins and hand out candy. His paint scheme is more in line with what my very first scheme for these guys was, which is orange all over with black trim instead of the quartered scheme. I decided to make him different since he’s a unique and important part of the warband.

Astute observers may also have noticed that my character names have all been directly taken from or inspired by by-names for Odin from the sagas. This fellow’s name is Forn Grimnir, which means “Old Masked One”. I named him so because 1. he is the original corrupter of the Iron Hounds mentioned in my IA; 2. he sometimes recruits by traveling through Imperial space masquerading as a Loyalist Librarian; 3. he’s a generally mean, sneaky, treacherous old man.

Here he is with a base coat and initial wash:

The Bolt Pistol is magnetized and was painted for a different model, so it’s just there as a prop right now. I really like the horn he wears on his hip, which comes from a Space Wolves sprue like his head (which I’ve trimmed the braids off his beard):

His Force Scythe is from a WHFB Vampire Counts Zombie Regiment box. It was originally going to be a spear, but I saw the scythe and thought that was just too cool not to use. I use the heck out of WHFB bits in conversions:

The trim is going to be black on the chest piece, the skull on his right knee will also be black as well as the trim around the jump pack intakes and the decorative Iron Halo he’s got. Why a jump pack instead of wings, you ask? Because I thought it would fit in with the Iron Hounds better that way, and the “Storm Crows” Raptor squad was conceived of as a retinue for him so I didn’t reckon he would need to be able to fit into a transport.

I’m probably going to field him along with his protege (Brynhild the Jealous, my Fallen Sister of Battle Aspiring Sorceress from earlier in this thread) against my friend’s Grey Knights. I’d like to give him a taste of his own medicine with his ridiculous psyker attacks every round. He’s got a psyker enclave that can generate a high strength AP1 psychic attack every round. Very nasty. Let’s see how he likes one of them turning into a Spawn and eating his mates.

Now I gotta fiddle me up a Spawn…

And speaking of Halloween, here is a photo of me and my son posing with out Jack-O-Lanterns from last night:

As an Asatruar/Heathen I celebrate Halloween as a part of, or at least hand in hand with, Heathen Winternights. I’ll be attending an actual Winternights celebration next week (postponed from this past weekend) with some “free holding” Heathens. I was to attend another Winternights with my friends in Tyr’s Helm Tribe two weeks ago, but an acute case of gastroenteritis kept me home all weekend. Nasty stuff, but I’m over it now. Except for the paying for it part. Life is hard when you’ve no insurance sometimes. But anyway, my personal Halloween tradition is to carve my three Jack-O-Lanterns the day of Halloween as the sun is going down. They sit on my porch all night guarding the homestead from baneful wights, and in the morning (or when I wake up) they get a shot of liquor and a journey to the spirit realms via hatchet execution. One of my Jack-O-Lanterns is always the traditional “triangle eyes” type, and another more religiously motivated (that’s supposed to be Odin with the one eye there), and the third carved by whatever whim moves the family member assisting me. Often Ma carves with me, but the children have come over in the past, as my son did this year.

Moving right along…

Sitting around fiddling with some parts the other day I went ahead and started modeling my Noise Marine cult squad. I figure that their Aspiring Champion is a good start for tonight, because I’m tired and don’t feel like doing a bunch of drilling and whatnot for their sonic weaponry options.

So anyway, here is Anton Valentine, leader of an as-yet-unnamed squad of Noise Marines employed as auxiliaries by the Iron Hounds:

A pretty straight forward conversion, he’s mostly CSM with a WHFB Beastman head and, just for giggles, a SM chest plate with an Aquila on it as an allusion to the Emperor’s Children:

I gave him the option of mounting a Doom Siren, but fixed him with a Power Sword. The magnet on the base there is for a Melta Bomb if I decide to give him one while making a list:

And that’s that.

The Iron Hounds are almost completely modeled so far as my squads go. I want to make a couple of Apocalypse formations from Space Marine datasheets to represent their well funded flexibility, but the core warband is pretty much able to be fielded as is (minus paint). And it’s only been over a year and a half since I started on them. And a new codex is rumored on the horizon.

Ah well.

Reviresco!

This is a work of “fan fiction”, and is not authorized or endorsed by Games Workshop Ltd. For a fuller explanation of copyright see this website’s legal disclaimer concerning third party intellectual property.

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Filed under Faith, Family, Hobby, Modeling & Painting, Personal Reflection, Right Living, The Heathen Gods, Works In Progress

Ending the Summer of 2011

Having got into a rhythm of life again after settling down and squaring myself away, I found myself once again at the Kansas City Ethnic Enrichment Festival, just like last year and the year before that.

Once again the Kansas City Kendo Club was hosted by the Japan-America Society, of which I am involved with both organizations. The 2010 report linked above does a fairly thorough job describing what this event is like, so I won’t repeat any of those details here. I will say again, however, what an awesome festival this is, and I can’t recommend it enough. For the kendo demo we had so many people that we filled the entire length of the stage. All those people also meant that I spent that much more time on my knees (and my very bad knee, which still needs surgery) and the stage they set up at this event is as hard as any I’ve ever knelt on. The pain in my knee, combined with the near full muscle exhaustion in my buttocks from kneeling in a raised position to keep stress off the knee, occupied my mind so much that when it was my turn to stand up and demonstrate a waza I forgot that I hadn’t put my kote on. Drakey sensei had intended us to show how to hit the kote, of course, but he didn’t call attention to my error. Good guy that he is he allowed me to maintain face in front of the audience, and since my partner in this had no armor it worked seamlessly into a demo of how guys without armor can participate in practice. I didn’t even realize it until my second time to get up I almost stepped on the kote, stopping to put them on for a one ippon match against Shane.

So all that went down fairly well. I had somewhere else to be that day, so I didn’t get to stick around and sample all the delicious food that they have there. I also heard the rumor that this would be our last kendo demo at the festival, at leas for a bit. Each country only gets one cultural demonstration, and we’ve been doing this a long while. The Olathe Ki Daiko group, shown here in this video from 2008, often demo at the same Japanese cultural events that KC Kendo does, and are who is rumored to be taking the Japan spot over from us. They are always a popular group with audiences, and I always enjoy watching them myself. If you read this before the 24th of September you should head over to the annual Greater Kansas City Japan Festival at Johnson County Community College and catch one of their concerts or workshops. Or for any of the other good reasons to go to the GKC J-Fest, which are many and varied.

Pictured above is my first practice of the semester with the KU Kendo/Kumdo Club. Though my knee makes it very difficult to practice sometimes, I look forward to another year. Participating in club life at KU has helped make my school experience a great one. Out of the several clubs I was interested in and tried out, the strain on my time has forced me to accept that the kendo club is my only real club. While I look forward to graduating, I know I will miss the KU club (though I could still participate as a guest, and probably will from time to time).

This is my son Donovan, of whom I am very proud. He is a member of the Leavenworth JROTC Pioneer Battalion, and this was taken after the obstacle course event for their Organization Day inter-company competitions, of which I have some pictures on Facebook. That event was really fun, and everyone was exhausted at the end of the day. They started off with a dodge ball competition, and the winners faced the parents and cadre in a fun game that ended in a bench clearing free-for-all game. All the kids were really enthusiastic and everyone looked like they were having a great time. This is the sort of thing that makes all the diapers, thrown food, tantrums, and other frustrating child rearing experiences worth it, this sudden moment when you realize that your little boyo isn’t so little anymore, but has been replaced by a fine young man. Good stuff.

This is Drífa and Tomo, my feline companions. They are all tuckered out from rampaging through the house and wrecking anything not screwed to the wall or hidden behind a closed door. Included here because, hey, I like them.

So that’s a summary of what it’s like to end the Summer and start the Fall around here.

Life is good.

Reviresco!

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Filed under Budo, Event, Family, Kendo, Learning, Personal Reflection, Right Living, The Heathen Gods, University of Kansas

The Sky Wyrm

This is a short story/poem/thing that I wrote for the Kansas City Heathen pubmoot last May. When I started writing it I didn’t know exactly what it was going to be, but I had a theme and a format in mind and just went with it, inspired directly by the same tornado weather in Leavenworth that hit Joplin, MO so hard. I read it aloud to a Heathen audience in the form of its first draft, still unsure what the final thing was going to be, so that’s how I present it here. It suffers some punctuation issues, but at the time it was the least of my worries. I had promised to bring original material to read, so I went with it. Conceptually it touches on a couple of Heathen ethics: garth, kith/kinship, personal responsibility that sort of thing. I later hit upon the idea of making an Asatru children’s book, probably a PDF type thing to download from this website and distributed among friends. We’ll see where that goes, but in the meantime here is the original form:

✦   ✦   ✦   ✦   ✦   ✦   ✦   ✦

Mother! There was a stranger on the road,
Who cast a wary glance behind
And clasped his hands to pray for deliverance
For a Sky Wyrm he witnessed
Destroying his home and he fled
Warning all of its approach
weeping for his loss.

A stranger you say? Upon the road
leaving behind him everything
bidding you pray to the gods for deliverance
from a disastrous thurse, and weeping.
Did you see the dark tail whirling?
Did you feel the wind blowing?
Did you hear the gusty howling?

Mother I saw with my own eyes,
following his wary, fearful look
while he prayed to the gods and ran
Saw the dark tail whirling,
felt the wind begin to blow,
heard its gusty howling.
Shall we pray to the gods for deliverance?

Your father you know, is out in the fields
his weary eye turned to work
laboring to feed and clothe us
Bring him word of the Sky Wyrm
As we travel homeward to shelter.
Your hands grasp his and his work
and bid him take shelter.

Mother I brought him word
lifted his weary eyes to the danger
laid my hands beside his and ready
prepared him for the Sky Wyrm.
He is heading home and safe
as you have bid me see to.
Shall we pray to the gods for deliverance?

Our tenant, you know, is out in the wood
her weary eye turned to work
my true friend she is and constant
Bring her word of the Sky Wyrm
As we travel homeward to shelter
Your hands grasp hers and her work
and bid her take shelter.

Mother I brought her word
lifted her weary eyes to the danger
laid my hands beside hers and ready
prepared her for the Sky Wyrm.
She is heading home and safe
as you have bid me see to.
Shall we pray to the gods for deliverance?

Our neighbors, you know, are at the market
their weary eyes turned to work
buying and trading and crafting
the goods of the whole community.
Bring them word of the Sky Wyrm
As we travel homeward to shelter
Your hands grasp theirs and their work.

Mother I brought them word
lifted their weary eyes to the danger
laid my hands beside theirs and ready
prepared them for the Sky Wyrm.
They are heading home and safe
as you have bid me see to.
Shall we pray to the gods for deliverance?

Our kin are heading for shelter,
Our kith are readied for trouble,
Our community is prepared for danger,
Let us see to ourselves, then,
now we are home and sheltered
grasp our work to make ready
and endure the wrath of the Sky Wyrm.

Mother the Wyrm has passed
the sky is clear and calm
though our alarm was great
the dark tail whipped the field
the wind ravaged the wood
the gusty howl scolded the market.
Shall we pray to the gods for our deliverance?

Your father has gone to the fields
to slaughter a beast for the fire,
And our tenant to fetch a casket of mead.
Our neighbors have gone to the market
to bring fruits and vegetables.
With your hands prepare our hall to receive them
to celebrate with the gods among us.

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Filed under Faith, Family, Folk, Right Living, Stories & Poems, The Heathen Gods