What do I love to do? Tough question

A question posed last week by my therapist, and one I am still working on answering. There are levels and layers to the answer. I love to do a number of things, but many of those involve other people or are limited to certain contexts. And I think a large part of what he is getting at is to think of something I can carve out for me, essentially a hobby, that is not dependent on other people, that I can escape to if and when the need arises. Which creates a dilemma, because I am between hobbies at the moment.

When I was young my hobbies mostly revolved around role playing games and my various fantasy worlds. Which was fun then, but has lost it’s allure as role playing really is not as much fun unless other people are involved. My capacity to just sit and invent worlds, campaigns and characters for fun has not stuck with me over the years.

As I became more and more involved in table top gamin I learned to love painting. I spent a lot of fun time sitting and painting miniatures, and then building armies. I still enjoy some table top games, although it is mostly Blood Bowl as it requires the least amount of investment. But painting lost it’s hold on me, now it has almost become too hard what with failing vision (damn age) and tendinitis. Would that be different if I had a painting station in my home still that I could use? Maybe, but it wouldn’t change the physical challenges.

Playing Magic with Jimmy and his friends is fun, but that has really become a young man’s game, requiring more time and hustle to get the desired cards to build good decks than I am willing to invest. I still will enjoy the occasional game with them, but I doubt it will become the passion I once had.

Running is great, and solitary. But it is not something I can do every day, or just take off on a whim to do. It is more of a scheduled activity. And the same would apply to taking hikes or walks to some extent.

For a time photography seemed to be something that would get me going. And it still might, I am not sure I really gave it a completely fair shake. It is something that I could spend a fair amount of solitary time with. I think the biggest thing to make that the hobby I am looking for is gain some focus.

And that is pretty much it. I am leaving out 3 things on purpose. Music is an omnipresent part of my life, but it is not a hobby, I don’t listen to music just to listen, and I have not interest in attending concerts or shows. Books are always there, I cannot imagine life without them, as such I don’t consider them a hobby. And A/V entertainment (movies, television, sports) are not really a solitary thing for me, they are best enjoyed by sharing (at least for me.)

I guess all this meandering is more of an exercise. Searching for an answer to a question that I have not really come up with yet. For now my biggest diversion is the time spent playing blood bowl, and that is good for now. But there will be times between games and seasons when I need something else, specifically day to day, and I am still searching for that. 


I just like to build

Pondering hobby things today. I missed out on my Blood Bowl game last night, which put me in to a funk. And then I have been in a mental mode of thinking about Magic as well. And I think I have come to a conclusion, well more of an epiphany really.

At least in my hobbies: table top games, card games, books etc. I like construction and building. And this is one of the reasons I have found myself put off some of the table top games I used to play more. In books I like to read stories about characters building something, with a real goal in mind, rather than just pure action. And in some of my favorite series I have been utterly delighted when what appeared to be disconnected pieces of action all of a sudden found themselves coming together into a whole.

The biggest recent example is my Blood Bowl league. I enjoy the games, it is generally a pleasant diversion. But more than that I like the fact that a good chunk of the game centers around building and improving the teams. That with each game I can gradually change and improve the team. And that makes the game unique among most table top games. The other games I have played: Warhammer, Warhammer 40K, Clan War, Warzone, etc. do not have a concept of experience and improvement built in. So the building in those games is limited to the physical building: buying the miniatures, assembling units, painting, figuring out points. And that is generally fun, but has lost it’s appeal to me (failing eyesight, physical dexterity, space issues, probably all contribute to that.)

Magic has a big element of that. Tracking down the cards, or sorting from what you have. Then assembling and building a deck. Then, having completed that, fine tuning it by adding and subtracting elements. The games are almost secondary to some extent. Of course it is a lot different now, with so many sets and cards out there that it is nearly impossible to keep pace in building decks. Which is something I am running into playing with Jimmy & his buddies.  They are much closer to the new sets and find it easier to keep track, while I tend to get confused by what is out there.

If I had to track to this back I would say it comes from my Role playing roots. As much as I enjoyed playing, the idea of improving on the character, gaining new skills and equipment, that was what I enjoyed. In fact I used to drive some people nuts with how I would focus on that and show up for the next session having figured out how to add this or that.

Heck, part of the appeal of running to me is the idea of building (or rebuilding) myself up to new stages. Adding a new challenge, going just a little bit farther so next week I can go even farther. That is a constant challenge to keep it fun for me.

In the ‘real world’ I guess this is why I enjoy being a parent so much. I love helping and watching my kids gain new skills and ‘level up’. Watching Jimmy obsess over Magic, rushing to the local shop after school, is fun for me because I know that he is gaining new skills and experiences. Same applies to Danny and scouting, Emily and her various dolls, etc. They are all constantly advancing. It takes patience, but you know it will never be the same, there is constant change.

In the end, I just like to build, not literally, but to construct things and watch them develop. And that is just me, it is what I am. Some people are content or feel a need for stability. While I like routine, I only need it so it is easier for the things I am building to grow. Like keeping a garden weed free, or a workbench clean. That is what routine is for me: keeping the things that can stop the change and growth from occurring to a minimum.

Survived the cold week (so far)

-6° read my weather app this morning, or as I translated it: Really F***ing cold! I would like to tell you that I sucked it up and went for a run anyway. But I cannot say that. Which makes me feel good and bad. Bad because I really need a run, feeling sluggish after a fat too intermittent schedule the past 2 weeks. Good because few things irritate me more than people who walk around in shorts in weather like this, as if to show how manly they are, when in reality all I can think of is how dumb that is. So I wouldn’t want to brag about running and have people think I am one of those types.

Anyway, we made it to the end of the week. Not exactly tough for the kids what with 2 snow days to end the week, and as a result a second long weekend in a row (since last week was Thanksgiving.) But tough for us, especially when it comes to dealing with kids without the option of sending them outside. Jimmy tried playing outside yesterday, although I put a time limit on him, which wasn’t necessary as he came in before hitting that limit (sensible child.) Luckily our schedules worked out so there was not much missed work to take care of kids (I missed a half day, Kim didn’t miss any.)

For the weekend we don’t have a whole lot on tap. There are a couple of scout events that Danny may or may not participate in. And I have an eye appointment. But otherwise it is pretty wide open, without even a good movie to look forward to like last weekend. Looks like we will probably get in some games, watch movies at home, etc. and try to stay warm.

Still waiting to hear back from Jimmy’s teacher, not holding my breath on that, and know that the 2 days off could throw a wrench in things. It is the last weekend of college football and I imagine I will watch some. And Kim & I might sneak out for some more Xmas shopping (although we are about 80% done.)

Yep it’s all just the calm between the storm of Thanksgiving and the major front that is the Xmas and New Years Holidays. I guess I will just relax and enjoy it while I can.

Getting the month off to a great start with a great weekend!

Running, wrestling, frisbee, football, and soccer were all just a part of what made this a great weekend and a fine start to the month of birthdays. First of all, I know some people who downplay this, who claim it is just another day, and don’t even like to celebrate, I say Forget that (with another F word normally used)!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday, and I had a great time this weekend with family celebrating it in advance.  We also threw in an early family party for Jimmy, because he wants to have a sleepover for just his buds on his actual birthday. And because he understands that it makes sense for us to have the combined party as we get older. And to be honest it is special to me to celebrate our birthdays together.

I got the weekend off to a good start with a cold early morning 10K race. I enjoyed it, it was a very different kind of route than I normally run. From there I zipped up to watch Jimmy wrestle in his first tournament, ostensibly a ‘beginners tournament’. But as Jimmy found out, there are beginners like him, and ‘beginners’ who have been wrestling in clubs for a couple of years. But he still ended up 3-2 for the day (although the last was a forfeit), winning his last 2 matches.  And he learned a lot from each match, really getting a taste of what he in for.

From there I went home to finish cleaning and prepping for the party. And then once enough people showed up we went down and played Ultimate Frisbee. It was a fun time, Jimmy decided the teams would be split based on who was over and under 40. And I was reminded that with frisbee there is a generational difference, not everyone my age or older has spent a lot of time throwing frisbees. But we all had a good time playing.

Then we had the party, great food, good company. Watched some silent football, and then ended the night watching the Rapids win a great match 5-1, after winning a game of Farkle.  It was a good day (didn’t even have to use my AK.)

Sunday was initially spent getting some things done on the computer, then it was off to the mall for a Cub Scout event. Where I was thankful to our new technological age, as I was able to follow my Rams victory almost play by play using my phone (football on my phone!) Then it was home to watch what was an objectively great football game (if you like offense.) I would have enjoyed it more had it not been so close and it not been my Broncos that were involved. I was pleased that in the end ‘Bad Tony’ made an appearance and our depleted defense was able to come up with a play. And finished the day moving furniture so we could get the basement in shape for Jimmy’s sleep over.

There you have it, a fun, successful, enjoyable weekend. With athletic endeavors, both participating and watching. And family events of various kinds. A good start to the month, here’s hoping that the rest of the month goes off as well.

A lot to digest from the weekend

Lots of things to ponder and think back on from the weekend. Had a lot of fun. Enjoyed time spent with old friends. Had a special ‘proud papa’ moment. Now trying to get back into a better rhythm.

The Alumni weekend was a mixed bag. The parts of it that were focused on the people were great. I really enjoyed the time spent with lots of old friends and acquaintances. My plan to take things as they went with whomever was there was mildly foiled by the fact that at least half the folks there were old classmates and therefore it was easy to spend time with them. But, I couldn’t help think about the inequities of life as I sat in the school auditorium honoring former teachers and students and thinking how different that life was from the one I lead and the one I provide for my children. So that was a bit of a personal downer.

But I didn’t let that bring down my enjoyment of time spent with old friends. And that is why I attend these events every year. Because I get that chance to see people that I haven’t seen in quite a while and enjoy the time I spend with them. And often it is a slightly different group that I spend time with, which is the reason I often go every year, because it is interesting to contemplate who will be there, and then enjoy the time spent with those who do make it.

Kim and I did get some done around the house. Not as much as we wanted because Kim wore out from the weekend and started catching a cold. But we did move the big couch out of the basement, getting things set for moving the pool table back where it used to be and making the basement more hospitable for everyone. And we kept the house from getting destroyed despite the hordes of kids that hung around.

Last, I had a real proud Papa moment on Saturday (followed by another less obvious one.) We ran in the race up in Denver. I did well, didn’t beat my big brother like I hoped, but it was hard to get motivated to pick up the pace when I needed to. But, Jimmy did beat me and his uncle. And ended up coming in as the top male kid, which meant he got to get a special prize and go up to  the stage etc. after the race. He was pretty excited, and I was excited for him. Later that day we went to the Denver aquarium, and at the end there are some activities for the kids and Danny decided to to join Jimmy in doing a tree climb (this is unusual, Danny is not my athletic child.) And after some work, and encouragement he did manage to get to the top and ring the buzzer. I was pretty excited for him, because again athletic stuff is not his forte. So in the same day I got the chance to encourage and enjoy both of my sons athletic endeavors.

It was a good extended weekend. Lots of things to enjoy. Good times with family and friends. And some moments to cherish and be proud of in the future.

This upcoming weekend is gonna be a doozy

I’ve got a 3 day weekend, yay! So do the kids! And even Kim (although her days are slightly different.)!

“So you’re going to take the extra time to relax and not do much after last weekends craziness,” you might ask.

No, you would be wrong. Pretty much every day is packed with things to do. Even the kids will have some things to do. I’m gonna need Sunday afternoon to recover and then kinda wish I could do the same on Monday.

First, this is my high schools Alumni weekend. Second, we have a race in Denver of all places. And in the gaps on Friday and Saturday we are going to try and do some fun stuff with the kids as well.

I’m taking a different approach to this years alumni weekend. Often in the past I focused on those people I knew well in school, and fell into the old rhythm and groupings I had nearly 30 years ago. But 2 things have helped me break away from that. First, last year I spent a fair amount of time with some folks that I didn’t socialize with in high school and had a good time (I call this the Facebook effect as that has helped break down those class barriers.) Second, I learned from my 2 gatherings with college buddies over the summer and my visit to Spam O Rama that I need to relax more at these gatherings and just focus on the person I am talking to. It all really boils down to escaping from the idea that I need to spend time only with the people I was closest to 30 years ago, and that just isn’t the case.

Several months ago my brother sent an e-mail that there was a 5K in Denver that he was going to run in, and wondering if we might want to join him. Well it has reached the point where I think 7 (maybe) family members will be participating. From Dad down to Jimmy (I think next year I might see if Danny wants to start running.) And there is some competition going on, although I have made it clear that I will not get sucked into that, I run for fun, not competition.

And since we will be in Denver and have some time we decided that we will take the kids to the aquarium for some fun time. That’s always fun, I think the kids like the aquariums and zoos more than museums because the exhibits are dynamic rather than static.

So, school events Friday and Saturday night and Sunday morning, the race and aquarium Saturday morning and afternoon. That’s a pretty full weekend, should be fun.

It was a busy, high mileage weekend, not what I expected.

Danny mountain

I’m going to let this image speak for the weekend. Danny sitting proudly atop the rock at the top of the Palmer ridge trail in Section 16. We were on a Cub Scout hike, and the first 1.8 miles were really quite difficult, especially for little ones like Danny and Emily. Kim and I split our time encouraging the little ones. Well at one point in this tough climb Daniel just surged to the front and just kept hiking, despite some calls from other kids to stop and take a rest, he wasn’t stopping, not until we got to this point. I was really proud of him.


Here is the first group shot I took, once we had a few more kids on the rock, not the full group, but in this one at least you can see all 3 of our kids looking at me.


And last, all of the Scouts who reached this point in the hike. From here we decided to take the technically easier route down. Not quite realizing how much longer of a trek that meant. All told it was 5.5 miles, with a lot of climbing and up and down. But some gorgeous views. And the little ones made it pretty much the whole way. I was walking with Danny for the most part, and he was done at about the 3 mile mark, but there were no other options and I wasn’t carrying one child in favor of the other.

At the end I did carry Emily for a while, when Danny said that was okay (I think he realized how close we were to the end at that point.) This was a difficult hike for the kids, but I was real proud that they finished it.

That was more or less the end of the weekend, from there we grabbed a lunch and then went home and did nothing else the rest of that day.

Saturday was the beginning of my mileage. I ran the Classic 10K in the morning (more about that tomorrow on FreeRangeRunner.) The rest of the day I devoted more or less to trying to finish some projects around the house (but not the now very needed weed eating.)

That afternoon we relented and let the kids set up the hose on the trampoline. Which the kids enjoyed for the most part, until it reached this stage:

Emily frustrated by big brother (make sure to unmute this)

Sunday morning was busy. I got in a run, then we went shopping, then it was home to rush put groceries away, and then off to the hike.

All in all, it was a good weekend, but tiring. And I didn’t get around to tackling the project that most needed it: the weed eating. But maybe I can get some of that done in chunks in the next couple of evenings.