Family Visit

My brother is in town this weekend with his family. Since they live in Florida, we don’t see them often. The time and cost of travel between the opposite corners of the contiguous USA are a bit prohibitive. Last summer, we went down in August to the heat and humidity. We fed a giraffe at the zoo, among other fun activities. This year, they are up here with us.

We went blackberry picking yesterday and will see if we can bake a pie with our haul tomorrow before the heat hits. My nephew ate his obligatory serving of berries along the way. While the pickings were not the best this year, I have seen them much worse. I estimate we have about two pies worth of filling in the refrigerator.

Today, my sister-in-law is casually running a half marathon. She was up early Friday morning to get in an eight-mile jaunt as a final preparation. I’m pretty sure I could walk a half marathon distance in one day. My legs would hurt the next day, but I could do it. I can’t imagine running that distance, though. Running the mile was unpleasant for me back in school, so I’m in awe of the drive it takes to complete these races.

She might have gone for the full marathon, but we have plans to attend the Sounders game tonight. We need to pick up a new Sounders shirt for my nephew, as he has grown out of his first one. Maybe I will get them to try some local brews along with the food trucks at tonight’s match. Unfortunately, the best beer place is all the way across the stadium from the food trucks, but maybe the new bar will be open and have some good selections.

Tomorrow we are having a BBQ with friends and family. My brother still plays online games regularly with a handful of the guys from our group. Most of them will be coming to do some catching up over burgers and brats. My parents are also bringing my grandmother, so she will get to spend some time with her other great-grandson on our side of the family. I hope they take some great memories with them when they leave.

OL Reign – 3 Reasons to Go

The OL Reign moved to Seattle again this season, which removed the final barrier for me grabbing up a couple of season tickets. I brought my niece and nephew to a few games and we all love the experiences. It is a shame that, as big as soccer is in Seattle, even more people are not yet taking advantage of great players in their own backyard. So, here are a few reasons to buy tickets to a National Women’s Soccer League game today! 

(Disclaimer: I am no expert, just a fan. Take all of this with that grain of salt.)

1. Great Soccer 

On every team and in every game, you will see multiple national team players and probably at least two world cup champions. I find it difficult to pick a favorite player on the team, but I usually return to Jess Fishlock. Check out these moves from the pride match: 

My niece liked Tziarra King and Alana Cook in the games she attended, and my nephew got excited watching Phallon Tullis-Joyce make saves. I could go on to list the entire team, but you can look them up here or, even better, comment with your favorites. Right now, the OL Reign are undefeated at home this season (yes, I knocked on wood), and they look to continue the run.

2. Value Entertainment

I call it ‘value,’ but you get more than you pay for with these games. All the great soccer and amazing players are available for your viewing pleasure at a reasonable price. My seats are only four rows back, nearly at midfield, and they are less than half the cost of my Sounders seats further back. You can purchase tickets for as low as $17 each, and they are all in the 100- and 200-level sections right now.

In addition to the game, you get performances by Reign City Riot, the OL Reign band. The band also marches out to the main concourse steps after the game, with the drum line playing the entire time. Then, for special events, they often have additional small performances from local artists or groups.

Another plus about soccer games is that you can easily plan your day around them. They are about two hours, start to finish, every time other than playoff/championship games. I usually grab a bite in Seattle before the game, but you can easily plan something afterward.

3. Support & Inclusivity

To be fair, I have zero scientific evidence to support this part, only my own experiences. Looking around at the games, at all the people attending with friends, partners, and families, you feel at ease and welcome. I only tick one diversity box, but I sincerely hope others feel the same as I do. 

Another piece I will mention here is related to the phrase ‘representation matters.’ I hear it all the time, and I support the concept wholeheartedly. Course correction requires a concerted effort beyond simply turning the wheel straight. I felt the lack of women leaders and role models highlighted when I was young, but the monumental weight of representation did not hit me until I witnessed the impact on my niece and nephew of seeing the OL Reign play. 

They have an awareness, acceptance, and expectation of greater equality than I ever did. We are not where we need to be, but we are clawing in that direction one generation at a time. I hope these and similar experiences help them stand a little taller and reach across barriers a little further than I ever thought possible. Take the kids in your life, and share the strengths and accomplishments of these players with them. 

Call to Action

So, with all these reasons and more, go to the website and make plans to attend a game (or two, or more!) this season. Get out there, watch some soccer, and have some fun. If you don’t know the game, I’m sure there are some new friends around your seats to help you out! 

To Sounders season ticket holders, the team is offering a discount in their latest Full-90 email for tickets to the 7/10/22 rivalry match. 

Happy Father’s Day!

Another busy week in the books! Tuesday, my sister and I took our dad to the Sounders game against the Whitecaps. The odd weeknight game was a rescheduled game from when The Sounders were battling for the CCL championship. We had some BBQ sandwiches before the game and watched our team win 4-0 while missing many of our usual starting XI due to international play.

I had some trouble hitting the button to take the picture, and ended up dropping it as my finger found its mark. I considered this pic “close enough” to not bother trying again. I’m very bad at selfies.

Yesterday, I headed up to Seattle for another two soccer games. The Sounders played again at noon, with The OL Reign playing later in the evening at seven. I went to this extended double-header with a friend of mine. His wife said that his getting to go for thirteen hours of soccer and fun was his father’s day gift.

Between the two games, we had five hours to kill. The two teams put on a pretty cool little event outside the stadium with local vendors and games. We hung out until the crowds died down a bit, then grabbed some of the food and a picture with the CCL trophy. I did not snap a picture of the BBQ Pork bun that I had, but I did find the website for the company serving them: Umami Kushi. I would describe it as an Asian/Cajun culinary fusion. My friend and I both enjoyed them.

Picture with the CCL trophy!

I had already changed into my OL Reign gear for the next game. (Friend only cropped out for privacy!)

This morning we went for an early Father’s Day lunch with my family to celebrate. All of the activity is why I’m late getting my post out this week, but sometimes life gets in the way. My manuscript is also back from the editor, so I still have to look at all those edits and get the book into KDP to order a proof copy! I really need another long weekend…How long until Independence Day?

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!

Coulda Been a TPK

First, I would be remiss if I did not start this post by saying, “The Seattle Sounders are CONCACAF Champions League Champions.” Wednesday night, I joined nearly 70k others at Lumen Field for the game.

It was amazing! Suspenseful until the very end. Full of heartache and drama. Filled with career performances. The opposing fans were energetic and awesome as well. Great food, great friends, and a great game!

Go Sounders!

Back to Undermountain

The day after the Sounders game was my monthly D&D session. We busted out the tacos, margaritas, and dice bags for a rousing game of role-playing!

Not Everyone Makes It

In a prior session, the group snuck past a Xanathar’s Guild (XG) outpost to do more exploring of level 2. They ended up finding barrels of dwarven ale and rescuing a young man. Those two events kicked off another round of creative strategizing.

XG knows the groups’ faces and will attack them on sight, but they—hopefully—did not also have a kill-order out on the stranger the party saved. If they dressed him like an XG member, he might be able to, safely, get in for a delivery and get out again.

While some of the party patched up a few cuts and bruises, Ashe snuck back to a potential ally they affectionately gave the code name “Invisidrow.” At the same time, Hudson went to retrieve the keg of beer they opened earlier in the day and doctored it with some poison they had on hand.

The plan was to deliver the ale, referencing the other XG captain on the level, whose name Invisidrow previously gave them. This time, he also agreed to lend them five of his wererat minions for the fight. After enough time passed for those in the XG camp to drink the ale, they would bypass the two beholder zombie watchdogs, charge forward, and open up on them.

It worked brilliantly!

A few of the humans stumbled around, a little drunk, and the wererats kept the bugbears occupied. Urg ran to the middle of the room and cast an area of effect, war cleric, damage spell. Rose and Valorik fought to keep everyone off Urg so his spell would remain up as long as possible.

Something alerted the zombies, and they started floating down to join the fight. Hudson called out a warning, and they doubled their efforts to eliminate the humanoid opponents.

Turn Undead sent one of the zombies fleeing, but the second shot a discintigration ray right at Valorik. He staggered against the blow but remained on his feet to keep fighting. Soon enough, only the zombies remained. They took them out, one at a time, dodging multiple rays.

As another blast came his way, Valorik said, “I am at peace with this.”

The ray hit, but instead of turning to dust, he ran in fear.

Finally, it was over.

They searched the room before continuing to explore to the south.

A little later, Ashe listened for movement beyond a closed door.

“Sounds like animals,” he said.

“Let’s find out what kind,” Urg said as he opened the door wide.

Three ravenous owlbears picked up their heads and charged.

The sight freezes the group in place, and Ashe barely got off a couple of arrows before the beasts barged through the doorway, biting and clawing.

Valork went down.

Ung went down.

Rose took another round before she, too, fell.

As they lay bleeding on the floor, Ashe and Anakis tried desperately to kill the creatures and keep their friends alive. Hudson flashed forward with a sword of shadow and flame even as one of the owlbears started to drag Urg off into the other room.

One down.

Another.

As the fallen gasped for breath upon the ground, the three combatants charged forward and eliminated the threat. They scattered, rushing to stabilize their comrades, only to find Urg had already breathed his last.

With tears in their eyes, they carried their fallen, dead and unconscious, to a secure location. All thoughts of exploring further faded; they are headed back to Waterdeep.

What a Week

Last weekend, I polished three more chapters of book three to send to my alpha readers. It kicked off a busy bunch of days for me, most of which subsequently had little to do with my writing. Work has been long hours packed with deliverables and meetings. 

If you don’t know much about working in finance, the first two weeks of the month are usually busy. In the first week, accounting is closing out the books with all the final transactions coming in. This week, week two, is when the data makes its way to us finance analysts for performance analysis.

I spent much of the week working through variances and presenting performance to various people in the organization. The rest of the week, and my long workdays, were driven by some capstone project presentations. These are fun because I get a chance to work with new company leaders kicking off a new role, but they are also draining.

Each one lasts one and a half to two hours, and I attended four this week. 

That all adds up to a lot of people. I am exhausted, and it is shaping up to be another busy weekend. Tonight is a Sounders game, and tomorrow a Reign game. I will be having fun watching soccer this Easter, and I will have to take my mom out later for missing lunch. 

The Sounders won their game on Wednesday evening, which means they are heading to the CONCACAF Champions League Final. The second of the two-game series will be played in Seattle, and I’m excited to attend with some friends in early May. It should be a great game. 

With all of this going on, I have two updates for you before I sign off for the weekend:  

  1. The book cover for Hidden Sanctuary is done! I will be sharing it with my newsletter first (probably tomorrow or Monday), so sign up on my homepage today if you don’t want to wait a month to see it on the rest of my accounts!
  2. The Hidden Sanctuary manuscript is with my beta readers, and my editor is lined up. If my current progress holds, I will release the paperback around the same time as the ebook. Fingers crossed!

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter Sunday!