Monday, December 09, 2013

House portrait 8 x 10"

with two detail shots

Weekend roundup

It was a pretty nice weekend. Friday was freezing rain, sleet, and snow, so some of the afternoon was spent sledding down the small hill in our front yard. 

On Saturday, Kim and the girls drove to Ohio for a cookie-baking-oriented outing with Mom at my cousin’s.  I worked on another house drawing while they were gone, but on Saturday afternoon I attended a “meet-up” at a house not too far from my neighborhood.  It was a board game meet up with some members of the Louisville Atheists and Freethinkers. I am normally averse to any sort of in-depth interaction with strangers, but I figured if I wasn’t going to indulge my passion for board games with like-minded individuals at a home not for from my own, I may as well write off being social at all.

The people I met were very nice, and I had a good time.  I stayed long enough for three games.  First, we played Dominion, which has been a hugely popular card game for eight years or so.  I’d been wanting to try it, and I wasn’t disappointed.  I only played one game, but I was impressed by its cool elegance.  I certainly will be (finally) getting it for myself soon.

Second, we played Shadow Hunters.  I enjoyed that, too, but I sort of felt like there was some little part of the game’s theme that wasn’t “clicking” for me.  I get that the game is “about” some players being supernatural monsters, some players being hunters of supernatural monsters, and some players being independent unaffiliated people with their own victory conditions—all of us stalking each other in the woods.  However, the  manga-tinged artwork,  the Euro-style wooden cylinders used as player markers and counters, and the player-fighting-player interaction all seemed like a slightly odd mix, and I felt like something was being referenced (a certain anime series? A movie? Fairy tales?) that I didn’t quite know about.  Regardless, it was a fun, fairly easy to learn game, and I’d play it again.

Last, we spend quite a long while playing Cards Against Humanity, which is by design a sophomoric, politically incorrect, limits-pushing card game in the vein of Apples to Apples.  Certainly fun with the right group of people (and if you suspect you are NOT a member of this “right group of people,” you are probably correct).  I enjoyed it, and I’d have fun playing it with certain of my friends, but I can’t see ever owning a copy.

And then I finished watching season 2 of “Game of Thrones” while eating Chinese take-out.

Thus passed my weekend.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Putting up the tree. Record snowfall for today's date. Secretly working to help finish off the girls' Halloween candy. Good day.

Snowball fight

I am being pelted

Saturday, November 30, 2013

X-wing Miniatures match

I finally set aside some time today for space combat with my friend Paul and his sons. We played for probably 90 minutes before we had to break up for other appointments. No ships were destroyed, though some were badly damaged, due to players learning to maneuver, and the fact that these were sort of beginner ships with no heavy armaments. I look forward to another game.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Just mentioning

In case anyone wonders what kinds of things I wish I had, here are a few I can think of right now:

A new garden hose
A pinpointer for the metal detector
Board and card games:
-Space Cadets: Dice Duel
-Memoir '44
-Expansion for the Carcassonne board game, called Inns & Cathedrals
I am interested in four different expansions for the Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures game:  TIE Expansion, B-Wing Bomber, TIE Bomber, TIE Advanced

Friday, November 15, 2013

Noisy fall

 I was walking across the parking lot here at work on a pretty day recently, when I noticed clattering from the small wooded area between the lot and the road.  At first I thought it was birds or squirrels in the trees, but after stopping to watch, I realized if was the noise of leaves dropping.  There was no breeze at all; the yellow and orange leaves were just falling at a steady trickle, and rattling through their unfallen brethren on their way down. As still and quiet as it was in the neighborhood, the noise was comically (to me) loud.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pen & Ink house portrait, with detail

Here is another house portrait done with black walnut ink.  Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to scan the drawing, and instead used my sub-par little camera. The detail shot turned out better because you can make out the texture of the line work.

This drawing is 11 x 15 inches on Bristol paper.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I finally got to play Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures when I met up with Pat and Ed last weekend. I had been wanting to play for almost a year, finally got the game in recent months, and finally had the time to break it out.  Pictured are the three ships in the core set, but I have others for bigger battles.

We played on one of the tables at the Starbucks in Barnes and Noble.  The table was a little smaller than the recommended 36” x 36” field, but it worked out fine and did not feel cramped (except on the second table where we kept all the game pieces; that was crowded.)  After my X-wing took out the TIE that Ed was in charge of, we decided to throw in some reinforcements and brought in two TIE interceptors and an A-wing to mix it up a little.

We were still getting the feel for the rules, so it was a pretty easy-going affair, and I had a very good time. I am eager to play more.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pen and ink house portrait progress

 Another progress photo. I think this is coming along quite well, and hope to have it completed in the next few days.
A note: I am having trouble getting this image to display horizontally.  If this picture is up on its end, then you know I didn't figure it out and gave up trying.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Mushroom in the Compost

Actually, there are a bunch of them. I think they sprung from the timothy hay dumped out from the rabbit cage. They are sorta cute.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


I had to move slowly because she is skittish, and try various tricks to get my phone camera to focus, but with a little effort I took a decent picture of the black and yellow garden spider gracing the front of our house.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


I noticed today while driving through Anchorage that they are re-doing some of the sidewalks.  Along Lagrange Road, there is a stretch of a couple hundred yards where the sidewalk has been dug up, and low mounds of dirt are hilled up.  It caught my eye because it seems like an interesting place to metal detect.  Since it is right along the road, there would be lots of trash there; but they also dug sort of deep, maybe 8-12 inches, so there is probably some old stuff exposed.  That's an old neighboorhood, more than a century, and the school is close by, so plenty of kids probably have walked along there over the years...  Unfortunately, I am not able to go out detecting right now. 

Cheese & Crackers

There have been a number of times in my life that someone has asked me what I am having for lunch, and I have responded, "Cheese and crackers," and they have expressed concern that I am not eating enough. 
"What else are you having?" he or she would ask.
"Just cheese crackers," I say.
"How can you eat only cheese crackers?"
"What do you mean?"
And they would elaborate a bit: "Well, cheese crackers just don't seem filling enough."
This never makes any sense to me.  I tell them that if four cheese crackers aren't filling enough, I eat eight.  If eight aren't filling enough, I eat twelve.  Shoot, I bet there are times I've even eaten more than sixteen.  What is their problem?  They don't mention the nutritional content, just their belief that cheese crackers (or peanut butter crackers) aren't "filling enough."  Anything is filling if you eat enough of it.
If I had a quarter for every conversation I've had similar to this, I bet I'd have enough to buy a pack of Kraft singles.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

High tee

Get a load of this ski slope that becomes part of the golf course in the summer. That's teeing off from a high position. I was told the opposite is true on the back of this protrusion, Mt. Brighton.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Natural History Museum at the University of Michigan

I could have spent all day in this one room...tons to look at and read. However, with hungry and slightly bored children, and a mild hunger- and allergy-related headache of my own, we took in a quick overview and headed off for other activities and pizza.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mice and Mystics

I’m still obsessing over board games.  It’s pretty bad, in a distracted, non-productive way.  And by bad, I mean I even enjoy reading board game reviews, rules discussions, people’s top ten lists, that sort of thing.  I don’t get much chance to play, partly because I just have too many hobbies and interests.  When I have time to play, it’s mostly with close family (wife and daughters), who aren’t generally “into” the sorts of long-playing strategy games that I am most interested in, though I appreciate and enjoy lots of other types of games, too.

On the Fourth of July we met up with some friends and played some games; the most involving was simply blackjack, played with poker chips, which was a nice hanging-around-and-chatting game.  We also went through some trivia cards.  Although they are not my favorite genre of games, this sort of thing makes me want some more party games to play with family and friends at get-togethers.  I recently read about a “werewolf” style game called “Resistance” that sounds great; I’d also love to try “Cash ‘n Guns,” although the cost for that game is very high, perhaps because it no longer in production. (Another problem with that game is that it centers around everyone pointing foam guns at one another, which might be excessively violent for certain people’s tastes within certain contexts, but among my adult friends I think it would be great.)

Over the past few days I finally managed to get my board game fix by playing Mice and Mystics with Erin.  I bought a copy a couple of months ago and had not had a chance to play it, but when I asked last week she jumped in.

The game is fairly simple as far as its basic rules, but is given a pleasant complexity by the players’ ability to make a wide range of decisions, the variability of the game board, and the long-term nature of the game’s story line.  If players choose, it is a heavily story-based game, proceeding through “chapters” that tell a story in which the players are humans who have been turned into mice and must accomplish missions to thwart the plans of an evil sorceress.  Gameplay involves moving one’s mouse figures across castle room tiles and defeating enemy rats, roaches, and other critters in combat.

After some though, I picked up the game based on: 1) Many reviewers said their children really enjoyed it; 2) Lots of adults really enjoyed it; 3) it has simple elements of strategy and combat tactics, appealing to the miniatures gamer in me; 4) the game components and artwork look appealing and well-designed.

I was a little worried that my immediate family would be turned off by a game in which the heroes ran around killing rats with swords, since we are such a pet-rat-heavy family, but thankfully the game rules and story line are not explicit when it comes to the bloodshed.  You can interpret “defeating” your enemies however you want.  If a mouse-player is defeated, he or she is captured, not killed.

Erin and I finished the first chapter last night, and she seemed to really enjoy it. Jill jumped in a played a little, too, and was interested on-and-off in the proceedings.  It went well, we won the chapter, and Erin said she wanted to keep playing to see what happens next, so I am very happy!

I’d love to pick up another game sometime soon, but it’s hard to decide what.  I think Ticket to Ride will probably be next, since it’s high on so many people’s top ten lists of family games AND games every gamer should own AND “gateway” games that would be enjoyed by non-gamers.  I even just heard one game reviewer call it one of the very few games that he would call “flawless.”

Sometimes terrible photos have a charm all their own. In my opinion, anyway.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Independence Day

 July 4: Rained all day. Went to parents' house with lots of family; great homemade ice cream and birthday cake; great brats, hot dogs, and vegetables; fun drawing contest; fun visit; went to friends in the evening, played games and talked; did sparklers after dark when rain let up.
July 5: Attended Old Fashioned Fourth of July celebration at Peterson-Dumesnil House in Crescent Hill. Rain threatened the whole time; ate ice cream; listened to live music; looked at art & craft booths; accidentally met up with some friends; our girls and their girls danced and played; watched fireworks while it sprinkled; heavier rain didn't start until drive home, late.
All-around success.

Painting gladioluses

I’m working on a commission that I’ve decided to do primarily with acrylics.  I’ve used acrylics for many purposes, and use them frequently, but I actually haven’t attempted many complete “works of art” with acrylics alone.

This is not a photo of the commission work, but rather a smaller painting that I’m working on alongside of it, only in acrylic.  A couple of years ago I did an acrylic landscape that I was not satisfied with; this will be only my second full acrylic painting (not counting murals) since, oh, probably 1987.

This is also my first flower painting since 1987. Ironically, the last floral I painted was also the first full painting I had ever done with oil paints.  I don’t normally go in much for flower paintings, but I love the glads that bloom in our yard each year and have sort of wanted to paint them.  Also, I hear they are popular, and I’d like to have another painting to display at the art fair later this month. (That’s another reason I chose acrylic: oils would never dry in time for the art fair.)

Friday, July 05, 2013

Seven-year-old's art

...She had this listed under "Invention's," but I think would file it under "What the hell?"

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Feeding alpacas

 Thanks to my sister-in-law, Pam, we got to visit an alpaca farm for an alpaca party.  Don't you want a dozen for your back yard?

Monday, July 01, 2013


I decided to go for a walk in the woods at lunch, and then encountered wildlife before I even left the building.

Friday, June 28, 2013


finally tossing out these old canned goods.

Old watercolor sketch

 Last night I was going through a box of stuff and found this little tree (about 6 x 9") that I did while playing with some watercolors.  I can't remember when I did it, but I think it was two or three years ago (Don't be misled by the date at the bottom, I put that on last night as an approximation.)  I had been searching for this, but couldn't find it and thought I must have given it away.  It's small and not sophisticated or great in any way, but it's one of the few things I've done with watercolors in decades and I liked the result.  I have been wanting to try watercolors lately, or use inks or acrylics for watercolor effects.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A striking example of storm damage to a tree

My family and I were out on Saturday, and as I pulled into a parking spot on one of our stops I noticed that the oak tree in front of me had an odd, tall gouge running up its side about eight feet or so. It looked like a single giant claw had run down it. I wondered if it was lightning damage--I couldn't think what else would cause it--so I walked over to take a look.

Moving around to the other side of the tree, about 90 degrees around, there was a similar gouge, but this one ran up as far as I could see into the canopy.  I thought it was very impressive!  The bark had exploded off; there was shreds of it scattered for dozens of yards all around. Some of the wood beneath it, the blond part, was blown out, too, in thinner strips about an inch deep in spots.  I thought it was pretty cool.

Sycamore & Butterfly Bush

 Both of these are walnut ink on paper.