Story 1Dec2022: Welcome to Advent Calendars

The snowstorm and snowmageddon did not happen this Thursday morning. It was a letdown as that would have been an excellent way to start December, but I did not miss the messy commute. We also have the Nike Emergency contact system to keep us informed. It did not send out a message last night, so I know it was unlikely we would be facing snow.

My rushed morning includes exercises to stretch my lower back and help me be more flexible. So I was on the floor this morning trying that out. Afterward, I read my emails, texts, and messages for work and from my personal accounts. I got showered and dressed after a breakfast of a bagel-like bread product with cream cheese and a banana with liberal coffee.

Another case of coffee was delivered today, liberal equal exchange coffee. I sent Barb, Susie’s sister, some for Christmas–not much more expensive than sending some myself.

I arrived at work before 8 and then embarked on a voyage in Zoom of hours of status meetings. I asked some questions here and there, and unfortunately, I just made the meetings longer without helping much. But I have been told that folks like my questions, so I carry on.

I slipped out after the meetings and headed off to see Susie at the hummingbird house. I had no meetings left in the early afternoon; I would not have to rush off. Traffic for a Thursday was lighter than I expected. The thought of snow had apparently driven people to work from home and stay off the roads. The road electronic status sign threatened an $880 fine for not having chains–Beaverton Finest was ready to enforce the law. I put the socks in the cargo area, the only traction devices allowed on my SUV XC60 Volvo 2018. It is against the law to travel without traction devices, at least in a vehicle in light snow. If the state announces a snow emergency, the Volvo must wear socks; they cost $220 to cover all four wheels.

Without wearing socks, I arrived safely at the hummingbird house in Air Volvo (that is, none on the Volvo). Susie was in her chair and festive with a Christmas sweatshirt keeping her warm. We got her Micky and Mini Mouse advent calendar and opened the first door, a chocolate star. I broke off a tiny piece and let her eat that. Susie complained that her tummy hurt–Jennifer told me Susie ate her oatmeal, fried potatoes, and Ensure. Susie was full!

On my iPhone, we called Susie’s mother, Leta, on FaceTime and had a lovely chat. Leta was starting to decorate the inside of her house with Christmas stuff. I stayed for forty-five minutes and then left with a kiss. Susie was happy I was able to stay longer.

I headed to Bethany, not far, for lunch and then my Physical Therapy appointment. I went to the Bethany Public House, sat in the bar, and connected to Nike’s network. I had lunch, choosing their cowboy chili and a diet coke (beer is for after work and weekends) while watching the second half of the World Cup games. Japan pulled off an impossible task, I thought, of beating Spain. Germany won its game but failed to make the knock-out 16. It was a good lunch, and I followed along at work and answered some questions.

Off to PT. I had a new guy, Michael, and also Leo. They worked me over and are working on making me more flexible. They recommended a go-slow plan as I had trouble with pain after the exercises, and some of their stretching of my back was uncomfortable. I did ride their bike for five minutes. I had more pain later, so I decided to go slow and not do any more exercises today. It is not supposed to hurt.

I drove home from Bethany without incident or the need for socks (but I have them). I reconnected with Nike and followed along for a while. I rested a few times to bring the pain, which got worse an hour after the exercises (sneaky pain is what Michael called that).

I made a ham and cheese sandwich with a pickle and coleslaw leftover from Popeyes (I got the large amount as it is not more expensive than their small size). I then worked on my Dungeons and Dragons adventure, finishing the start-up text and working on encounters. I am improving the text, making it a bit harder, and using all those tricks I used before.

The way to write good encounters for Dungeons and Dragons and role-playing games is to break the rules–not what you would do in a board game! In this case, I have created my own version of creatures, and some are actually puzzles for the players to work out–nothing standard. Just how do you get rid of this horror is their challenge. Some don’t go away easily. Next, I create great adventurers by using themes, usually three themes. They guide the way I assemble the monsters, traps, and treasures to be found. The players typically work out a few of these patterns and enjoy decoding what is happening.

Previously, I wrote an adventure that broke the rules by having the whole adventure be a dream and that characters could not die, but when they would have, they started over at the start with all their equipment. This was an advantage–it created strange dynamics. I could use overpowered traps and monsters, and they would get multiple tries (deaths) to find the best way to beat the trap or monster.

I decided at 8ish to head to Wildwood to write the blog. I wanted a beer and some social interaction after all the writing. So I had a dark beer and wrote this blog. I also put out the recycling and trash. My back hurt. Yes, time to go slow.

Thanks for reading.

For Advent, I will pick out a song as an Advent Calendar:

Christine McVie, the singer and songwriter, passed away–so it seems fitting to give her the first slot. Happy Holidays!

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