“The Lost Librarian’s Grave” Horror Anthology

I have been setting the wheels in motion toward starting a small press where I publish speculative fiction in e-book and possibly print formats. The first effort will be a short story anthology with the unlikely title of The Lost Librarian’s Grave. The collection will feature stories of “doom, sorcery and premature burial,” which are themes dear to my Chaos Lady heart.

I put together three front covers this afternoon and thought I’d share them and ask which (if any) works the best. I would very much appreciate your opinion, if you have one! As usual, if you click on an image you’ll see a larger version.

My next moves involve working on another WordPress site specifically dedicated to my publishing efforts and also some writer’s guidelines so I can put the word out to writers, who might be interested in sending me their work. I will smile favorably on science horror, dark fantasy and the like because there are many dark jewels that are horror stories, mined by solitary dwarves, hideous in their waxing greed … tales of loss and murder plucked on harps by spurned lovers wringing out their hearts in songs of revenge and regret, and weird fantasies of sentient, well, you get the idea.

The plan is to release The Lost Librarian’s Grave in late September or early October. Such tales seem apropos for the upcoming season.

Painting-wise, I’ve started putting together the “Paint the Crap You Already Own!” round-up. These round-up’s end up being pretty sizeable so I’ve found the best and most fun way to do them (like publishing as it turns out) is to work a little on them each day.

The Summer Solstice Painting Challenge

This painting challenge ends on June 20th.*

It is time for the next painting challenge with the second annual “Paint the Crap You Already Own!” painting challenge just ended. So I thought I’d announce a May-June challenge before I get started with the “Paint the Crap You Already Own!” round-up.

For this challenge, I’m looking for pictures of whatever single model you think is the best one that you finished anytime between May 3rd and June 20th, which just happens to be the summer solstice at least in the northern hemisphere where I live. You may also do a diorama for this challenge.

By “best” this can mean whatever you want it to mean: the best paint job, the model you like the most, or any other criteria you wish to apply. The reasons are yours but remember there can only be one best model.

For example, Toad here is one of my favorite miniatures not because of the paint job but because I like the miniature and I’ve built up a fondness for him using him a lot as I have in games of D&D as well as a marker/mascot for my Nurgle army back when I was playing a lot of 40K.

Rules of the Challenge

  • The challenge closes at the end of the summer solstice: June 20, 2021 at midnight (your local time).  If you can’t get your pictures posted by that date, it is fine.  Just post them as soon as you can.
  • A model is eligible for the challenge if it is completed between May 3rd and June 20th, 2021.
  • I’m looking to only see a single model per artist for this challenge. Instead of a single model, you may complete a single diorama for this challenge.
  • Questions and/or ideas?  Let me know in the comments.

* Photo of “Stonehenge in your face” by Simon Wakefield. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.

“Neglected But Not Forgotten” Painting Challenge Round-up (March 2021)

The challenge for March was for people to dig into their pile of models and paint something they had owned for at least a year. I think most miniature painters, who have been at it awhile, have no general shortage of such models. the collector’s bug tends to hit model builders pretty strongly, no matter what they generally like to paint.

Many thanks to the eighteen artists who took part in the challenge. As always, in many cases, if you click on a picture the link will take you to a larger view. If I have accidentally omitted anyone’s work, please let me know and I’ll add you in. I made a list of everyone and checked it trice but you never know.

Steve, of Dreadaxe Games, begins our round up with his rendering of the mighty Inquisitor Coteaz. Steve says he “bought this figure maybe 9 or so years ago,” so it is neglected and then some.

Coteaz has a lot to recommend him: two-handed eagle cyborg mascot, lots of special abilities that made me weep real tears back in 5th edition, his magic hammer, and apparently a stern but calming demeanor. The inquisitor apparently helped Steve, in a small way, through a rough patch, which you’ll have to read about in his blog if you want to know more.

Marouda says that she is fairly new to miniature painting but she isn’t new to artistic endeavors in general and I think it shows in her work. She saw this challenge and Monster March, put on by Path of an Outcast. Between that and Azazel asking, “are you going to paint a model?” she decided that she was. After all, what is the worst that could happen, she thought.

I’d say it all turned out very well with this trio. The first is Giant Iguana from the Bad Squiddo Shieldmaiden Kickstarter from 2018.

This treant is far and way my favorite of Marouda’s work. She did a great job on it and I like the base very much as well as all of the vegetation extras she added to the miniature. The beard is a nice touch and I think adding the crown of green is much nicer than the bare branches of the unmodified miniature.

As you can see, the treant is pretty good sized.

Finally, Marouda painted this rather grotesque Maggotcrown Bonesack, produced by Reaper miniatures. She points out “how easily this miniature crosses genres,” and based on her picture below I’d have to agree with her.

Azazel, of Azazel’s Bitz Box and a most prolific painter, comes in this month with 13 entries. We’ll take a look at his five Dungeons & Dragons-based offerings and see the rest at the end of the round-up.

These four cute (but murderous) frog people are called Grung, from the “Waterdeep Dungeon of the Mad Mage” board game. I like the bright lime green Azazel used for their skin, which he details in his post.

They are “assassins” with the bowfrog being an “elite warrior.”

Muiral the Misshapen is another miniature from the Mad Mage set. Muiral was a warrior, who engaged in magical studies that in hindsight he probably should have avoided. He descended into madness, turned his odd experiments on himself with the result you see below. Azazel was going for a “boiled lobster red” with this guy. I’d say he most certainly achieved that effect and then some.

These goblins are from The Legend of Drizzt board game. Besides having pretty D&D board game sessions, with all of these sorts of miniatures that he as painted over the years, he also has a great collection if he feels like doing a tabletop roleplaying campaign.

Azazel painted this shadow dragon, Shimmergloom, which also from the Drizzt game.

Finally, from the Tomb of Annihilation board game, come a trio of Zorbos. They are apparently vicious koala-looking beasties that can take on some aspects of their surroundings to make themselves more formidable in combat. For example, they could take on the aspects of a stone cave they are in to increase their general toughness.

That is all well and good, but I do have to say these three don’t look terribly vicious. I’d say they’ve probably eaten too much bamboo and eucalyptus and just want a nap.

Eric, of Candore et Labore, painted this Warhammer Carnosaur, which was “epoxied together and primed black with cheap Walmart spray paint,” just before his wargaming group dissolved in the early 2000’s. So this beast has been hibernating for a long time indeed, which seems appropriate somehow for an ancient dragon.

I like Eric’s choice of colors for the dragon and love the base.

The carnosaur missed out on being “the big bad center piece of a bunch of large reptiles” for Eric’s youngest son’s army but I’m sure the beast is a lot happier in its new home than it was ratting around the bitz box for 17 years!

Blaxkleric (or Blax the Kleric), of Fantorical, offers up a White Gorilla produced by North Star Military Figures as part of their “Frostgrave” range. This beast is “known to leave their nest deep in the ruins of the Frozen City in order to hunt, these formidably-sized animals ‘are not above eating human flesh.'”

Blax also painted this steathy-looking FedSec Trooper from Crooked Dice Games Design Studio. He obtained the figure from “their now out-of-production Federated Security Starter Set,” and painted him to evoke a “Federation trooper” from the BBC science fiction television series Blake’s Seven.”

Daniel, Infinity player and local Imperial Guard Commander operating out the Santa Cruz Sector and Infinity player, painted this older sculpt of Gabriel DeFersen from Infinity by Corvus Belli. Gabriel “is one of the last templar knights,” who were broken up this time for the sin of creating artificial intelligence. Daniel relates that Defersen does well in games and has “got all the based covered” but you’ll have to pay a premium for his utility.

Does he seem a little disgruntled or is it just me?

Dave, of Faith & Steel, is adding some walls to his gaming table for his upcoming WW2-based games. This gate and accompanying walls are produced by Rubicon Models. As you can see from the pictures the walls will block line-of-sight nicely. Plus they’ll be good for any battles fought in Melbourne, Australia where “it is just about a law to paint ironwork green.”

I wouldn’t mind a gate like that at my house and, yes, I’d paint it green.

Marvin, of Suburban Militarism, painted these ten 1:72 scale Saxon soldiers, produced by Mars. Each line of five models represents a regiment “of the Saxon army during the Great Northern War.” The front rank in the picture below is “the Kurprinz Regiment.”

The fellows in blue are “Martinière’s Grenadier Regiment.” Check out Marvin’s post if you want to read more about his historical sources (or lack thereof) for the uniforms. As he says, oftentimes “details are scarce,” and he had to use his own judgment.

Marvin painted two more regiments before the month was through. The men in the front rank, below, represent Zeitz’ Regiment. They were “apparently disbanded in 1705 just prior to the Saxon army’s heavy defeat by the Swedes at the Battle of Fraustadt the following year.”

These models represent Hayn’s Grenadiers. The red and yellow piping on the back are Marvin’s “own invention.” He relates that “as key source Daniel Schorr wrote that it was unknown whether the battalion even wore grenadier caps.” Whatever the case, I think they work well with the rest of the uniform.

Marvin’s final offering for the challenge is this 54mm Worcestershire Yeomanry sergeant circa 1900. This piece is one of his “54mm Yeomanry Cavalry Project.” The model was manufactured by Mitrecap Miniatures. Marvin reports that Mitrecap’s source material for this model is 50 Years of Yeomanry Uniforms by R.G. Harris, plate No. 29 by Edmund A. Campbell.

John, of Just Needs Varnish, added two more models to his vast (I’m sure) collection of armored vehicles: a Czech S-I-d tankette (the one on the left) and a French R35 light tank. The Czech tankette is 1/72 and the R35 is 1/75 scale. John writes more at length about these models in a later post for any who are interested.

We’ll conclude our historical foray for the painting challenge with a bit of historical fiction by Mark, of Man of Tin, who refurbished some very rusty figures after watching the 1967 comedy film, The Magnificent Two, which is “set in the fictional 1960s South American ImagiNation of Parazuellia.” He decided the figures would make a good pipe and drum band for his Parazuellian Womens’ Revolutionary Army, complete with a reviewing general.

You can check out Mark’s post if you want to see the condition of the miniatures before he put refurbished them. He writes more about their uniforms in another post.

Tom Douglass, the owner of Dragon Den Games in Stockton, California, tackled a large project this month in the person of Mortarion of The Death Guard. He had fun and it was “easily the biggest project” he’d ever done. The daemon primarch was smaller than the imperial knight he completed last summer but a lot more detailed.

Tom had fun with the base too, adding “extra skulls and goo” and so forth. He even “made sure to always add everything in seven’s because how could I not?” Good man. How not indeed!

Despite completing the mammoth task of putting together and painting Mortarion, Tom still had some painting left to do for March. Some of his friends are “starting to pick up Tyranids,” so he painted up a mob of termagants. He had worked on the models some years ago and wasn’t happy with them. So Tom redid them using the new Games Workshop Contrast paints, which do seem to be perfect for batch painting things like termagants.

Wudugast, of Convert or Die, completed four miniatures for the challenge. They’d make an unlikely group to be thrown together by fortune for a time in, say, a The Magnificent Four or The Dirty Quartet type of scenario.

Wudugast doesn’t know the origins of this Orc Champion, but he’s had him for more than a decade now. The model does remind him of the work “produced by Rackham for the – sadly defunct and much missed – game Confrontation.”

Larsen van der Grauss was “released as part of the Kill Team: Rogue Trader set” and as “a Lectro-Maester” within the Adeptus Mechanicus. This “means he’s a prospector charged with seeking out new sources of power for the forge worlds.” The sculpt certainly isn’t lacking for detail!

This Data-Scrivener is another representative from Necromunda and an example of “futuristic hackers who specialize in stealing data from the hive’s ancient cogitators and manipulating them to suit their purposes.” Wudugast decided to paint the figure when he saw it in the House of Artifice book.

Corwyn the Hunchback is the last of our quadrumvirate and probably my favorite sculpt, mainly because I have a thing for evil magic-using types. He’s another neglected model having remained unpainted “since the late 2000’s,” and is an “evil shaman from Rackham’s Drune Kelt range.” It has taken quite some time but as Wudugast wrote, “the evil old bastard is finished at last.”

Matt, of pmpainting, painted four miniatures for the challenge. The first is Lord Karghoul, produced by Hasslefree Miniatures. I agree with Matt, who wrote that Karghoul “certainly has that ‘evil warrior vibe about him.”

Matt also painted this Space Goblin Commando by Reaper Miniatures. He wasn’t sure what he’d do with a space goblin commando but named him Globrik. Matt thinks he might go back and do some more work on him but isn’t sure if he should “try to tart Globrik up or just get on with something else.” I’ll be curious to read what he decides to do.

This Post Apocalyptic Hunter is my favorite of Matt’s four offerings for the challenge, who he has named Trevor. I’m not sure if this chap looks like a Trevor or not, but there it is. I thought he did a good job on the urban camouflage. The mask is a bit of freehand that I thought was an effective addition to the piece.

This is the metal version of Reaper’s Aina the Valkyrie. Matt acquired the miniature in late 2019, got it 70% painted and then “kind of just gave up.” He isn’t sure why. I particularly like the hair and also favor the shiny scale armor.

The kit gives one the choice between a spear and a sword for Aina. I think Matt chose correctly because I think it would have looked a little odd for our valkyrie to brandish her sword while she has a second sword in the scabbard. One could say it was the sword from an enemy or something else, but I think it is just better to give her the spear.

Plague Gardening painted this Princess Leia miniature from West End Games. He bought the model in 1987 and has completed her after “an impressive 33 to 34 years in my collection.” I think he did a good job with the shading for Leia’s white robe. He painted her base white to go along with his other Star Wars models, which you can see in his Princess Leia post.

David, of Scent of a Gamer, started painting this wizard “maybe 20 years ago.” The model was a freebee “on the cover of a White Dwarf magazine,” which he bought several copies of to “get as many different wizards as possible.” This is an interesting piece: I like how the wizard’s clothing sort of evokes something of a fantasy European Renaissance look juxtaposed with a beard that looks like he’s been using his magic to travel back to Bronze Age so he can hang out in Sumer.

Dave Stone, of Wargames Terrain Workshop, finished his wing of four land speeders. First up is this Land Speeder Tsunami. I think that the freehand work on the vertical stabilizer adds quite a bit of interest; especially when several speeders are displayed together.

Dave also did quite a bit of painting for his Battlefleet Gothic fleets. I don’t know too much about the game and I’m not terribly familiar with the ships, but I do know a Space Marine battle barge when I see one. This one is from the Night Hawks chapter and give him four barges.

Next up are four Strike Cruisers. There are “normally six in a fleet” but Dave’s Night Hawks “lost two to the warp.” Maybe they’ll turn up someday. Hopefully they won’t be painted pink and have grown lots of waving space tentacles or pointy bits during their wanderings. You know, after all, how impressionable these space marines can be at times.

These ships “are the three classes of escort ship” put out by Forgeworld “to use instead of the Imperial escorts.”

Dave tells me that these are also imperial ships, but that another version was released for the Eldar, which “were a lot sleeker.” I think these ships would make appropriate-looking logistics and support vessels.

Finally, we have a Desolator-class battleship, which Dave painted for his Emperor’s Children fleet. With five of these battleships, his chaos space marines have quite a formidable long range (if what I read about them is correct) threat going for themselves.

Tamor, of Dragons of Lancasm, painted this Hero Quest “gargoyle.” Tamor puts the name in quotes because he thinks the miniature is in fact a “second-rate Balrog.” I feel the old school balrog-bloodthirster vibe going on with this guy too. I also agree that this miniature would make a good “terrain piece, and potentially a construct (animated statue).”

Our balrog used to have a whip that Tamor carved off.

He also painted three squads of marines for his Space Crusade cooperative board game.

Finally, Tamor finished this orc. “He’s a bit paler than his brethren because he’s apparently been hiding with my skaven for at least a decade.”

Heretic 30K painted these ten miniatures – five heroes and five villains – from the Marvel Crisis Protocol starter set. He received them as a Christmas present in 2019 and they have been “collecting dust” until now.

Captain America’s shield is looking very crisp indeed!

“The figures are 40mm scale which makes them quite a bit larger than what most people are likely to already have in their modern terrain collections so it is handy that the starter includes a reasonable amount of scatter terrain too.”

Heretic had to assemble and paint the terrain as well.

We conclude the painting challenge by coming back to Azazel and his eight further entries. The first is a Varghulf Courtier from Citadel. Depending upon which lore you read, the Varghulf are “powerful Vampire Lords who have devolved into a permanently animalistic and bestial form,” or some type of ghoul-like creature.

Azazel painted a number of miniatures for Growing Hunger expansion of the Last Night on Earth board game. The first group of survivors are Kenny the Supermarket Bag Boy, Amanda the Prom Queen, Sam the Diner Cook and Detective Winters.

The next pair of Growing Hunger survivors are Mr. Goddard the Chemistry Teacher and Jade the High School Outcast. For Jade, he used “some of the Goth chicks I used to know in my own youth.”

The final pair of survivors are Stacy the Investigative Reporter and Victor the Escaped Prisoner. Azazel painted Stacy’s notepad to look like a tablet “to bring her into a slightly more modern timeframe” and because it would be fun to “see if I could make it look good.” It certainly does add some nice detail and a touch of verisimilitude to the model.

Azazel also completed this duo from Marvel Crisis Protocol, Rocket and Groot. He did some extra work on the bases “in order to really mess up the sidewalk where it’s been smashed in and smashed through by Groot’s extended arm.”

That extended arm thing is nifty.

I think it is cute that the angry raccoon’s weapon is much larger than he is. I suppose being a “master of weapons” he can handle it no problem.

I really like this Thrasher Snail by Reaper. Although I’m not buying miniatures very often these days, this is one I’d like to own. (I might go so far as to ask for it as a birthday present this year.) The production model comes with a bunch of what Azazel calls (and I agree from what I see) “poorly-cast flails.” I think his solution of using a “lovely twisted unicorn-style horn” was a much better solution and if I ever get this miniature I’ll do something similar.

Love the shell.

Next up are “Lucius” and “Seth” from Zombicide. I like how the game includes a “zombified” version of each character, which, as Azazel points out in the comments, “can be used as action versions, wounded versions or just extra-nasty zombies in various games as needed!”

We conclude the round up with “Ross” and Phil” also from Zombicide. I particularly like the zombified Ross (aka John Goodman) for some reason. Probably because I like the actor. Azazel relates that the idea of characters as zombies was “to let players who had been killed keep playing.” They never used those rules and instead “played with however many survivors the scenario called for and doubled up when there were more survivors than players – and then we would just hand off a character if someone was unlucky enough to die.”

Well done, Azazel. Thirteen entries and thirty-six completed models. Not too shabby at all!

Much thanks to everyone who participated in the “Neglected” March challenge. The next painting challenge, for May and June, is going to be “The Summer Solstice Painting Challenge,” which begins in May and closes on the Summer Solstice (first day of summer), which is June 20th at midnight (your local time). The idea will be to exhibit a single miniature or diorama that you think is your best or you like the most, which you completed between May 1st and June 20th.

I am thinking of doing a dragon-based painting challenge for July since my mind has been turning to all things draconic lately. I’m looking into to doing a Kickstarter-based anthology of short stories along the theme of dragons. It is all currently in the research and planning stages for now but I’ve been moving forward with the project a little each day.

Work Outs: April 11 – 17, 2021 (Quick & Easy, Vegan Curry using Patak’s Rogan Josh simmer sauce)

We have a number of meals, that I make during the week, that we often cycle through because we like them, they are reasonably healthful, and most importantly — they are quick and easy to make. A winning combination! One of those weekly meals is a curry of some sort. This week I used Patak’s Rogan Josh Curry sauce.*

One has a lot of flexibility making these curries. The ingredients I used this time around was based on what I had available. You can easily change the quantities or use different ingredients altogether. Much like with the Hoover Stew and the Chickpea Tangine, this is a very flexible meal.

Yogurt is a nice addition if diary is on the menu.

Ingredient List

  • One 15 oz. (420 grams) jar of Patak’s “Rogan Josh Curry” simmer sauce.
  • One cup of dried TVP. I used “Just Like Chicken brand” by Whole Provisions, but any type will do.
  • One 15.5 oz. (434 gram) can of green peas. (Fresh or frozen are nice too.)
  • 3 oz. (84 grams) of Chickpeas
  • Four ounces (112 grams) of Sliced Bella or White Mushrooms
  • One ounce (28 grams) of Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • One medium or large Onion, chopped.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.
  • (Optional) One to two ounces (28 – 56 grams) of Sliced Almonds
  • (Optional) Harissa sauce to taste.

The list above is what I added based on what I had in the refrigerator. What you use and the amounts can vary depending upon what you have on hand and what you enjoy eating. For example, if you like meat I think chicken, pork or lamb would go very nicely with this meal instead of TVP. I am also thinking vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli would be nice additions as would a green onion garnish.

How to Cook

  • Reconstitute TVP according to package directions. In general this involves mixing together equal amounts of dried TVP and hot water and then microwaving for about 5 minutes. Then check the consistency and allow for more time until the product has reached the desired softness.
  • Sautee onion and mushrooms using your oil of choice or even just a little water in a non-stick pan if you are trying to avoid the added calories. (I used olive oil spray.)
  • Add in all other ingredients except the sauce and mix them together. (I included half of the almonds and then sprinkled the other half on top as a garnish.) Add the sauce and mix again.
  • Cover and simmer until heated through.
  • Serve with rice or naan. We had some garlic naan on hand, so I used that.

I discovered Harissa a few months ago courtesy of Shinta Simon of Caramel Tinted Life. It adds a decent amount of spiciness and a deep, red color to whatever you add it to.

I find it particularly useful because my husband likes extremely spicy food and I like food mild to medium. This recipe today I would characterize as medium to my palate, which to my husband would be hopelessly mild. So I mixed two tablespoons of Harissa into his portion, which jazzed the meal up considerably and made both of us happy.

I add a side of yogurt when I want to to ameliorate the heat between bites and add some tang and character to a meal.

Mon, April 12th

  • Morning Walk: 3 miles, after which we did a little balance work.
  • Captains of Crush Gripper (Trainer, 100 lbs.):
    • (Set 1): Left = 4 mm x 5 reps, Right = Closed x 3 + 2 reps
    • (Set 2): Left = 4 mm x 3 + 2 reps, Right = 2 mm x 5 reps
    • (Set 3): Left = 4 mm x 3 + 2 reps, Right = Closed 3 + 2 reps
    • (Set 4): Left = 4 mm x 4 + 1 reps, Right = Closed 3 + 2 reps
  • Pinch Grip Lift (Hub): 15 lbs. x 10 sec, 15.25 lbs. x 2 sets x 10 sec, 15.5 lbs x (left 3 sec, right 10 sec)
  • Arnold Presses: 35 lbs. x 6 reps, 30 lbs. x 3 sets x 8 reps
  • (Super Set) DB Lateral Raises: 10 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps +

Calories: 2113, Protein: 139 g.

Tues, April 13th

I went down to the court at the bottom of the hill near where I live and shot some hoops for about 30 minutes with an almost new-looking basketball I found at the thrift store. I made a point to run around to keep my heart rate up. I worked on some drills and concluded by playing Horse against myself. (I won.)**

Calories: 2127, Protein: 140 g.

Wed, April 14th

  • Morning Walk: 2.26 miles.
  • I did one set of the MV Workout with my 10 lb. mace. I had to hike my hands up the handle of the mace a bit on the barbarian squats. My eventual goal there is to do those with my hands gripping the bottom of the handle. I didn’t have to with the 360’s but I really felt them in my hands and forearms.
  • After this I did: Swing & Catch and Alternating Swing & Catch, Mace Bicep Curls, Mace Reverse Curls, Taekwondo Leg Extension/Snap Kick Exercise. Did 10 reps (each side) for each exercise except for the kicks, where I did 20. Also worked in some dynamic stretching.

Calories: 2413, Protein: 154 g.

Thur, April 15th

  • Afternoon Walk: 4.58 miles.
  • I did some work with both my 1 and 2 lb. indian clubs.
  • BB Bench Press (full stop): 75 lbs. x 4 sets x 8 reps
    • It has been over a year since I have bench pressed with a barbell because of the gyms closing down for the pandemic, so I was very conservative with this exercise.
  • Incline Overhead Tricep Extension: 15 lbs. x 15 reps, 20 lbs. x 3 sets x 12 reps
  • Captains of Crush Gripper (Trainer, 100 lbs.):
    • (Set 1): Left = 4 mm x 5 reps, Right = Closed x 4 + 1 reps
    • (Set 2): Left = 4 mm x 3 + 2 reps, Right = Closed 2 + 3 reps
    • (Set 3): Left = 4 mm x 3 + 2 reps, Right = 2mm 6 + 1reps
    • (Set 4): Left = 4 mm x 3 + 2 reps, Right = Closed 1 + 4 reps
    • (Set 5): Left/Right (Guide Gripper, 50 lbs.) = kept fully closed for 30 seconds
  • Board Hand Holds (each hand): 1.75 lbs.
    • Pronated: 2 sets x 30 seconds
    • Supinated: 90 seconds

Calories: 2113, Protein: 124 g.

Fri, April 16th

  • Morning Walk: 2.19 miles. Afterwards, we did some balance work. Calories: 2321, Protein: 132 g.
  • Full Squats: One set of 30 reps, then 70 reps (rest-pause as needed) = 100 reps
  • Dead Bugs (2-ct): One set of 37 reps, then 63 reps (rest-pause as needed) = 100 reps
  • (Super Set):
    • Standing Cable Leg Curls (ea. leg): 20 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
    • Standing Calf Raises: 4 sets x 20 reps
  • I followed along with the “30-Minute Recumbent Bike Workout” video on the Vive Health channel, which I’ve done a few times now over the past couple of months. During the workout the presenter has one get off the bike three times and do some squats. For my three sets I did 10 Cossack Squats for the first, 10 Leg Extension Exercise (each leg) for the second, and finally 20 Taekwondo Front Snap Kicks.
  • I worked a little on foot dorsiflexion with the cable machine and then did the Muay Thai “Front Teep” lesson on the globalmartialarts.university site.
  • I concluded the workout with some stretching and Yoga poses, including the Cat-Cow and Cobra poses, which both seem to do good things for my spine.

Sat, April 17th

  • Sandbag (100 lbs.) and Fitness Rock:
    • (Set One) Picked up bag from 16″ platform and walked it outside (40 steps) to the tailgate of our Land Cruiser.
    • (Set Two) Picked up bag from tailgate (~31″) and held in bear hug hold for 45 seconds.
    • (Set Three) Picked fitness rock up from ground and threw it up and back, over my shoulder with the idea of building explosiveness. I did this for 8 repetitions.
    • (Set Four): Sandbag Bear Hug Hold: 45 seconds.
    • (Set Five): Threw fitness rock over shoulder x 8 reps
    • (Set Six): Picked up bag from tailgate and walked it 40 steps back to where it lives inside of our basement.
    • (Set Seven): I walked down the street with my fitness rock on my shoulder, to the yellow 5 mph speed limit sign and then jog-walked back uphill to my house. (I switched shoulders a couple of times.) The trip took 3:07 minutes.

Calories: 2250, Protein: 106 g. (My weight didn’t change from last week. My total loss thus far remains 32.0 lbs.)


* If eating plant-based is important to you, then I recommend carefully reading the labels with these products. Some of them have milk products and some don’t. Many of the labels on these sorts of products list them as “vegetarian,” which includes lacto-ovo vegetarian eating, which can be problematic if like my husband you are trying to avoid dairy.

My husband started laughing when I showed him Patak’s simmer sauce. I wondered what could possibly be funny about a jar of curry sauce when he said, “I wonder what Worf would think of eating this brand?” “Very droll,” I replied. “Perhaps you should ask him the next time you talk to him?” “I’ll do that,” he said with a nod and wandered off.

** I didn’t cheat. Not badly anyway.

Dragon Egg Gazette, Issue 4

Issue 4: April 22, 2021

A student newspaper that was part of the “Enchanted Forest” D&D campaign. 

From the Dragon Egg Public Library

by Biri Blackwing & Thulunil Ummair

  • “No One Ever Fails in a Universe of Tables,” by Noah Burton. Published by Outlook Springs, Issue #1.
    • An interesting, short poem. Although this runs counter to classical elfish aesthetics, we appreciate how the poet develops the idea of “tables” and packs a lot into eleven lines. Thulunil says that the poem would be even better if the theme was developed over a couple of hundred pages but I think it is perfect just the way it is!
  • “Curiosity,” by Mingpei Li. Published by Outlook Springs, Issue #5.
    • A science fiction poem that looks at the Curiosity rover from an angle of mortality. I liked this one too and think that outer planar human poetry is super keen. Thulunil said that he “didn’t get it at all,” but what do you expect from a guy who thinks that being “only” couple of centuries old is young?
  • “3 Minutes” by Adam Walker. Published by Daily Science Fiction.
    • We had to look up what an “app” was, among other words, but we both enjoyed this story. Both of us like studying magic, so we can appreciate the unintended consequences of one’s creations and spells. Just like Miss Huethea Elmoira said in her Practical Divination class, “Be careful when you look into the future. You might want to know … just not when you think you do!”
  • Sharpe’s Prey by Bernard Cromwell.
    • Jenn of The Tragic life and thoughts of an Inquisitor, wrote a book review of Sharpe’s Prey. The book is the fifth in a series by Bernard Cromwell, following the exploits of one Richard Sharpe during the Napoleonic Wars. I won’t say too much here except that I thought the book was a fun page turner and it was enjoyable seeing how Sharpe was both similar and different than the character in the television series. Check out Jenn’s review if you want to read an in depth treatment. This isn’t a book I would have naturally picked up but my dad enjoys viewing historical fiction in general and the Sharpe television series in particular in his scrying pool, which was how I learned about Cromwell’s work.
  • The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
    • A classic bit of short fiction that we both enjoyed as children. I recently picked it up again when Thulunil said he wanted “to write a reverse Gift of the Magi story.” I wasn’t sure what he meant by that, so I put in my request to the Outer Planar Extra-Library Loan Department and got my claws onto a copy of the original.

A Short Interview with Ranger Garinthor’el Starsinger

by Biri Blackwing

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.  What is your full name and how long have you lived in Dragon Egg?  I hear you’re a wizard!  

Garin: My full name is Garinthor’el Starsinger, or that’s the translation of my familial name.  I was born in the Elven city Halcyn’or.  It’s several weeks journey from Dragon Egg.  My talent in the arcane arts was apparent even as a young child, so my family brought me to the Enchanted Forest 80 years ago to learn from the mages here.  The ingenuity with which they apply their art is most admirable.  My stay was meant to be short, perhaps a decade. However, the stars foretold a powerful portent that I must remain in Dragon Egg.

Ranger Garinthor’el Tinulindë

Q: For how long?  

Garin: The stars have yet to reveal that.  

Q:  What do think about being a magician helps you the most in your work as a ranger?  

Garin: Well, of course the arcane arts are ideal for the position of ranger.  While others have only the strength of their limbs, I wield the power all creation.  

Q: Who has been your greatest, positive influence in life so far, that affects your work as a ranger?  

Garin: The stars are the greatest influence in my life, young Biri.  Also, the half-elf lieutenant, who heads the arcane branch of the rangers, has been very helpful.  His expertise in wielding magic in the midst of combat is most impressive.  

Q:  What has been your greatest obstacle as a ranger?  

Garin:  Getting used to the rather short lifespans of the Dragonkin.  Just about the time you get to know a fellow ranger, they retire from service.  

Q: How do you like working with Special Squad Three?  Some people have started calling them “Fafnir’s Rangers.”  What do you think of that?  

Garin:  Hrrmmph … ‘Fafnir’s Rangers’ indeed.  A reckless lot.  The stars clearly foretold of dire outcomes, but they went on heedless of my warnings.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re a delightful bunch, just too reckless with their short lives.  

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to add on a final note?  

Garin: If you have any pull with the merchants guild, ask them to import some superior vintages of Elven wine.  

Q:  Thank you for the interview, Sir.  

Garin: You are welcome.  I hope my insights will be enlightening for your readers.  

Classifieds

Túbal, of Túbal Villar – Virakotxas, is interested in selling his nicely painted Dark Angels. He has listed them on Ebay and provided a link to the auction from his page. The auction ends during the day on Wednesday, April 28th, 2021.

Our own Ann Wycoff, of Ann’s Immaterium, is holding her second annual “Paint the Crap You Already Own!” Painting and Hobby Challenge. The idea is to paint a model that you already owned as of April 1, 2021. It can be something old or something pretty new. This is a hobby challenge so you don’t have to paint models. You can do other things too that have nothing to do with painting miniatures. The challenge ends on May 2, 2021 at midnight (your local time).

Staff

Biri “Wondermist” Blackwing, Editor-in-Chief
Thulunil Ummair, Assistant Editor
Ann Wycoff, Contributing Editor/Outer Planes Correspondent

Reblog for Túbal Villar: “First time trying to sell my painted stuff… Dark Angels for sale!”

Túbal Villar is selling some of his painted Dark Angels on Ebay. I thought I’d share his post on the chance someone out there is looking for something along these lines.  I think they are well painted and even if you aren’t in the market for some marines, enjoy the pretty pictures. 🙂

— Ann

Túbal Villar - Virakotxa

https://www.ebay.com/itm/164825718664

Sad to a degree, but needed in the current situation… Both economical and space-wise…

A bit of old and a bit of new… Starting at 50€, it will be my way to measure the market, the interest, and worst case scenario, I could get the same unpainted stuff for more or less the same.

So if anyone is interested, or knows about anyone who might be, needless to say, it would be much appreciated if you share it. It is expected to end in seven days from today.

Whatever it happens… I’ll let you know.

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Work Outs: April 4 – 10, 2021 (Golf Ball Spider)

I’ve been posting pictures of salamanders, slugs, scorpions, and of course spiders off and on and of these worthy, little critters my favorites (I don’t know why) are spiders. This short video of a spider was taken one town over from where I live. So far as what kind of spider it is, guesses include a Calisoga, which is a genus of spiders also known as “false tarantulas,” or perhaps Titiotus californicus. Someone else said it was a “redwood spider.” I’m not sure exactly but I do know I’ve seen a lot of these around and about so they are pretty common in our area.

I do like that the person, who took this short video, took a picture of the spider crawling next to a golf ball to give one a sense of scale. Enjoy!

When I was a child I used to keep pet spiders and that started when I found a spider that had apparently lost some of its legs and seemed crippled. So I set it up in a terrarium with the idea of giving it some kind of chance for a life.

Much to my surprise one day I thought the spider had died but in fact it had been hiding in its little spider burrow under a fish tank decoration and molted.* Not only did my spider friend present me with a fancy husk, it had grown all of its legs back.

Once the weather turned nice again, I released my rehabilitated friend back into the wild. I was sorry to do so but I thought the spider would have a better, if possibly much shorter life, living out in the world than in a cage.

I kept a scorpion under similar circumstances some years later and was pretty surprised when it turned out the scorpion, unlike the spider, didn’t grow its legs back. (At least that one didn’t.) My experience with the spider had caused me to assume it would.

Sun, April 4th: Calories: 2064, Protein: 109 g.

Mon, April 5th

  • Morning Walk: 3.35 miles, after which we did a little balance work.
  • Captains of Crush Gripper (Trainer, 100 lbs.):
    • (Set 1): Left = 6 mm x 5 reps, Right = Closed x 1 + 4 reps
    • (Set 2): Left = 6 mm x 5 reps, Right = 2 mm x 4 + 1 reps
    • (Set 3): Left = 4 mm x 4 + 1 reps, Right = 2 mm x 4 + 1 reps
    • (Set 4): Left = 4 mm x 4 + 1 reps, Right = 2 mm x 4 + 1 reps
    • (Set 5): Left 2 mm x 1 + 4 reps, Right = Closed x 1 + 4 reps
  • Pinch Grip Lift (Hub): I have never done this before so I worked up to a couple of sets holding 18.5 lbs. to see where I was at. The next time I do this I’m going to try a slightly different grip to see if it makes a difference.
  • I did a full body warm up with some dynamic stretching, indian club and mace work. Also also practiced an alternating hands version of the Swing & Catch with the 10 lb. mace.
  • Standing Leg-Assisted Pull Ups: 4 sets x 8 reps
  • Standing Ring Rows: 5, 7 reps; went to about 45 degree angle to make it easier and did 10, 12 reps
  • DB Curls: 25 lbs. x 4 sets x 8 reps
  • KB Russian Swings: 35 lbs. x 4 sets x 8 reps
  • Cross Body Hammer Curls: 15 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps (Added in some hand pronation on the last two sets.)
  • Face Pulls: 12.5 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
  • I finished the work out with some stretching and yoga poses, including Cat-Cow, which is my current favorite.

Calories: 2178, Protein: 151 g.

I hope you enjoyed the video and pictures of Golf Ball Spider, who lives the next town over from us. The person, who took the video and extracted the pictures, kindly gave me permission to use them but declined a video or photo credit.

Tues, April 6th

  • Dead Bugs (2-ct): One set of 37 reps, then 63 reps (rest-pause as needed) = 100 reps
  • Full Squats: One set of 30 reps, then 70 reps (rest-pause as needed) = 100 reps
  • (Super Set):
    • Standing Cable Leg Curls (ea. leg): 20 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
    • Standing Calf Raises: 4 sets x 20 reps
  • I followed along with the “30-Minute Recumbent Bike Workout” video on the Vive Health channel, which I’ve done a few times now over the past couple of months. During the workout the presenter has one get off the bike three times and do some squats. For my three sets I did 10 Cossack Squats for the first, 10 Leg Extension Exercise (each leg, Taekwondo) for the second, and finally 20 Front Snap Kicks (Taekwondo).
  • I worked a little on foot dorsiflexion with the cable machine and then did the Muay Thai “Front Teep” lesson on the globalmartialarts.university site.
  • I concluded the workout with some stretching and Yoga poses, including the Cat-Cow and Cobra poses, which both seem to do good things for my spine.

Calories: 2356, Protein: 162 g.

Wed, April 7th

  • Morning Walk: 2.33 miles. We concluded with a little balancing work.
  • I did two sets of the MV Workout with my 5 lb. mace. Then I worked on the Swing & Catch and Alternating Swing & Catch, kind of mixing the two together now that I’m getting better at doing it. As always I was careful not to swing the mace near my face.
  • Finally, I worked on the Muay Thai left jab and front teep using various targets (for the teeps), such as trees, one of the tires of our Land Cruiser (for low strikes) and practicing my footwork over various surfaces (rocks, pavement, leaves) and going up and downhill as well as the usual flat surfaces.

Calories: 2104, Protein: 151 g.

Thur, April 8th

  • Morning Walk: 3.33 miles. We concluded with a little balancing work. Calories: 2252, Protein: 124 g.

Fri, April 9th

  • Morning Walk: 2.19 miles. Afterwards, we did some balance work. Calories: 2321, Protein: 132 g.

Sat, April 10th

Calories: 2250, Protein: 106 g. (I lost 2 lbs. this week. My total loss thus far is 32.0 lbs.)


* My father varnished up the husk and I kept it in my room on a shelf for years. For all I know it might still be somewhere in my ancestral home though my old bedroom was repurposed a couple of years after I flew the nest, so it might have ended up in the trash.

For those of you who have the itch to watch a spider molt (speed up in places!), well, your wait is over.

Work Outs: March 28 – April 3, 2021 (Hoover Stew)

We saw this recipe for Hoover Stew from The Wolfe Pit and I thought it might be amusing to make a pot of it. As chance would have it I had all of the ingredients on hand, including some plant-based hot dogs, since my husband has been eating plant-based for quite some time now.

Apparently Hoover Stew was one of many pot luck type of recipes, popular in the United States during the 1930’s, where the idea was to feed a family very cheaply. It was named after the American president, Herbert Hoover, who was in office when the Great Depression kicked off in 1929, which was a worldwide phenomenon.

Kudos to hubby for repairing the handle on my favorite pot with J-B Weld!

I mentioned Hoover Stew to my mother and she said she had it and many variations like it under the common rubric of “Pot Luck Stew” where the ingredients were simply whatever was on hand. She said they called it “Mulligan Stew” if there was a lot of potatoes in it, which there commonly were since my grandparents grew potatoes commercially up until the mid-1980’s.

So it seems to me that this recipe for Hoover Stew is simply a base that can be varied greatly depending on what you have on hand. My mother said they most often had it with beef because hot dogs cost money while they had large quantities of beef because they raised cattle. I knew this because I ate much of this sort of thing growing up too, both because my mother had learned habits of frugality and because money was tight in our family, as it was for many, during the 1970’s.

I followed the recipe from The Wolfe Pit using the ingredients listed below, but you can add pretty much anything you think will work and omit anything you don’t like.

Ingredient List

  • 16 oz. box of Elbow Macaroni
  • Two 15 oz. cans of diced or stewed tomatoes (with juice, if any)
  • 15 oz. can of corn (with juice)
  • 15 oz. can of cannellini beans (with juice)
  • Eight hot dogs
  • Optional: Bouillon to taste. I used Better Than Bouillon brand “Roasted Garlic Base.”
  • Optional Wolfe Pit extra: Granulated garlic and onion to taste. Fresh would be good too, I bet.
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste. I also used Italian seasoning. (The video presenter instead used tomatoes that came with spices.)

How to Cook (more or less following Wolfe Pit directions)

  • Cook elbows for about half the time it says on the package. Drain but do not rinse.
  • Add tomatoes, beans, and corn to pot you cooked the pasta in as well as whatever spices you want to use.
  • Mix in pasta and hot dogs. The presenter just added them in cold, but I pan fried them first to give them some character.
  • Add some water if needed. The idea here is to have the finished product resemble something like a stew but not so much water that it is like a soup. Also, you’ll want to have some liquid to help finish cooking the pasta.
  • Simmer until heated throughout and pasta is done however you like it. (We like it al dente.)

We thought Hoover Stew wasn’t bad though I can see where it would be bland if one didn’t have some spices on hand. I might try making it again but instead of hot dogs using TVP. I think it would also be good with chicken, beef or pork and any kind of vegetables, such as say broccoli or cauliflower. Whatever you have sitting around, really. I’ve got the remains of a package of edamame that is just itching to go into a pot luck stew!

Sun, March 28th: Calories: 2596, Protein: 153 g.

Mon, March 29th

  • Morning Walk: 2.98 miles.
  • I spent much of the day doing yard work. I was tired enough that I decided to hold off on the weights until tomorrow. My hands were pretty warmed up though from all of the hacking, cutting, toting and hewing so I did some hand work.
  • Captains of Crush Gripper (Trainer, 100 lbs.):
    • (Set 1): Left = 6 mm x 2 + 3 reps, Right = Closed x 3 + 2 reps
    • (Set 2): Left = 6 mm x 3 + 2 reps, Right = Closed x 2 + 3 reps
    • (Set 3): Left = 6 mm x 2 + 3 reps, Right = Closed x 1 + 4 reps
    • (Set 4): Left = 6 mm x 1 + 4 reps, Right = Closed x 0 + 5 reps
  • Board Pronated Hand Holds (each hand): 1.75 lbs. x 4 sets x 30 seconds. The pronated grip works the thumb in an interesting way.
  • I worked the Muay Thai “Jab” lesson and also did a set of 100 left jabs. Then I did the “Cross” lesson, which touches on the right cross punch. Afterward I worked on Taekwondo White Belt Drill #1. All of this comes from the globalmartialarts.university site.

Calories: 2088, Protein: 150 g.

Tues, March 30th

  • I warmed up with some miscellaneous yard work and mowed the Lower Fifty. After that I did some more warm up work with the indian clubs and steel mace.
  • Arnold Presses: 35 lbs. x 8 reps, 30 lbs. x 3 sets x 8 reps
  • (Super Set) DB Lateral Raises: 15 lbs. x 4 sets x 8 reps + following exercises 10 lb. mace (ea. side):
    • (Set Three) Grave Diggers x 15 reps
    • (Set Four) Pike Push Ups x 10 reps
      • I’m not satisfied with my form on these. I’ll have to do some research.
  • Dead Bugs (2-ct): 36 reps + 64 reps (rest-pause as needed) = 100 reps
  • I worked on some Muay Thai footwork and the left jab. I did some upper body stretching to end the workout and a little more stretching in the evening.

Calories: 2208, Protein: 120 g.

Wed, March 31st

Morning Walk: 2.29 miles. Calories: 2257, Protein: 162 g.

Thur, April 1st

Morning Walk: 2.9 miles.

I took an hour archery lesson in the early afternoon to see what I needed to work on after over a year of not shooting (except for last week) what with the range being closed and all. I had a lot of things I needed to address but I think we did make some progress.

The instructor let me stay and shoot by myself afterwards for about a half hour. I shot a somewhat harder target (though still not a particularly difficult one) than last time. I had some nice rounds and some pretty ugly ones too but I did have this one round where I did very well indeed. It was as if I had been touched by the breath of Artemis and was pulling a +3 bow and letting fly with +2 arrows. Now if I could just bottle that moment!

  • Captains of Crush Gripper (Trainer, 100 lbs.):
    • (Set 1): Left = 6 mm x 4 + 1 reps, Right = Closed x 0 + 5 reps
    • (Set 2): Left = 6 mm x 4 + 1 reps, Right = 4 mm x 4 + 1 reps
    • (Set 3): Left = 6 mm x 4 + 1 reps, Right = 4 mm x 4 + 1 reps
    • (Set 4): Left = 6 mm x 4 + 1 reps, Right = 4 mm x 4 + 1 reps
    • (Set 5): Left = 6 mm x 3 + 2 reps, Right = 4 mm x 4 + 1 reps
    • (Set 6): Left = 4 mm x 2 + 3 reps, Right = 2 mm x 4 + 1 reps
    • I did better than usual with my left hand but worse with my right. Although I didn’t feel fatigued after my archery session, I suspect my right hand was a little tired from all that shooting.
  • Board Pronated Hand Holds (each hand): 1.75 lbs. x 4 sets x 30 seconds. (Thirty seconds rest between sets.)
  • Did a little stretching in the evening.

Calories: 2252, Protein: 124 g.

Fri, April 2nd

Afternoon Walk: 4.76 miles. Calories: 2254, Protein: 142 g

Sat, April 3rd

Afternoon Walk: 5.25 miles. Calories: 2986, Protein: 153 g.

(I gained 0.2 lbs. this week. My total loss thus far is 30 lbs.)

Planted Some of our Accountant’s “Giant Green Plants”*

The other day was a very busy day, taken up mostly with the annual bureaucratic ritual, here in the States — The Finalizing of the Yearly Taxes.

The proper ablutions were made, rituals conducted, precedents consulted, and paper clips numbered. Requisite forms, charts and tables were anointed with holy oils and two teardrops shed by an ancient billionaire in 1929, decanted from an emerald bottle cut from a living gem, carved in ancient days by a now forgotten, blind member of an exclusive guild of artisans.

Finally, the dread offering was sealed with consecrated typewriter ribbon cunningly harvested from a cold iron Olivetti, and runic red tape, then borne by hybrid conveyance by this solipsistic acolyte to our personal priestess/accountant, who administers and protects our Vast Financial Empire.

Such are the fiscal rituals this time of year in these United States….

Our accountant, as would be expected from her exalted position, is Lady to vast estates and oversees many minions from her walled latifundium kissed by the mighty Pacific. I pulled up in my old, ratty, falling-apart-that-refuses-to-die-because-of-its-indominable-machine-spirit Land Cruiser, got out, and wandered about admiring the landscaping as I do every year while I’m waiting for her to shimmer out of her home office and greet me.

I planted these not too far from our front door.

I was scooched down in the act of sniffing at a patch of succulents when my accountant made her entrance.** I stood up feeling kind of like a character out of a Jeeves & Wooster story. To avoid making what should be a short story longer, we conducted our business and she offered me a couple of the plants that I had been examining earlier.

I transplanted the plants to new homes in our yard as you can see in the pictures above and below.

I asked her what variety of succulent these plants were and she answered in that tone of voice, dripping with ancient wisdom, I have grown used to over the years, “Giant Green Plant.” That sounded ok to me, so I’m guessing the scientific name would be something like Magnaherbam virentem, of the Family Plantae of course.***

I thought I’d try an experiment and plant a cluster next to one of my smaller redwood trees. I know that succulents are by and large pretty hardy, but redwoods have a reputation for killing lesser plants that misguidedly take shelter beneath their lofty boughs. I did my best by loosening and turning the earth and clearing away the accumulated weeds and debris. So I did my part and the rest is up to this small Giant Green Plant.

I’m thinking of going by the garden store soon and grabbing a spray bottle of stuff that supposedly keeps the deer away but doesn’t harm the plants. I have no idea if the massive deer population that frequents our backyard will like our new additions or not, but I do want to give my new succulents every chance of success.


* I was going to include this in my upcoming weekly workout report but after I finished typing it I thought text had enough bulk to stand on its own rather than being a subtext in my typically already long workout posts.

** They didn’t really smell like anything.

*** EDIT (April 15, 2021): Someone from the internet narrowed it down to being an Aeonium or “tree houseleek,” which according to Wikipedia, “is a genus of about 35 species of succulent, subtropical plants of the family Crassulaceae.”

Work Outs: March 21 – 27, 2021 (Mountain Lion and Ring Necked Snake)

I thought this short video of a mountain lion out for an evening stroll was interesting, given that it was taken near my neighborhood. I see their tracks all over the area. In my yard, on the hiking trails, their signs are all over the place if you look for them. There are the more subtle signs like tracks and scat, but occasionally we come across carcasses and things like legs of deer sitting in the middle of hiking trails.

A few years ago I saw the yellow eyes of one gleaming from behind our propane tank one evening when I was coming back from a evening of gaming. I gave the cat the high beams and it got the hint and ran off. Not too long after that we installed some motion-sensitive lights in part to greet our friendly, feline nocturnal visitors.

Video used with permission. Videographer declined video credit.

The only time I’ve clearly seen a mountain lion in the wild during the day was many years ago when we were hiking up near Folsom Lake, which isn’t too far from Sacramento, California. (The capitol of the state.) He was sitting on a huge boulder on top of a rise along the trail we were hiking on. It was kind of funny because he was sitting there cleaning himself and took awhile to notice that we noticed his presence. Then all of a sudden it seemed to dawn on the lion that we were watching him watching us and he jumped up all frightened and offended before shimmered off into the wilderness. Funny how they have many of the same mannerisms as house cats, albeit giant ones. The memory reminds me a bit of one of our past cats, Nero, but many years would pass from this incident before Nero would be born.

Sun, March 21st: Calories: 2912, Protein: 172 g.

Mon, March 22nd

  • Morning Walk: 3.27 miles.
  • Captains of Crush Gripper (Trainer, 100 lbs.):
    • (Set 1): Left = 6 mm x 3 + 2 reps, Right = Closed x 2 + 3 reps
    • (Set 2): Left = 6 mm x 3 + 2 reps, Right = Closed x 2 + 3 reps
    • (Set 3): Left = 8 mm x 6 + 2 reps, Right = Closed x 1 + 4 reps
    • (Set 4): Left = 8 mm x 5 + 3 reps, Right = Closed x 1 + 4 reps
    • (Set 5): Dynamic Training with the Sport (80 lbs.) gripper. I did 20 reps with each hand. I closed the gripper all 20 times with my right (barely) but couldn’t close it completely with my left after 10 reps.
  • I warmed up with some dynamic stretching, the 5 lb. mace, and did some work with indian clubs. Then I did the MV-2 Workout with my 10 lb. mace. I did standing 360’s instead of kneeling and I did the chest press from a horse stance, from the MV Workout, because I forgot that I was supposed to do overhead presses instead.
  • I concluded the session with some Cobras, Cat-Cow Pose, and Downward Facing Dog. I also added in some Triangle Pose after reading “8 Easy Yoga Poses for Everyone” by Health Tips Now.

Calories: 2015, Protein: 138 g.

Tues, March 23rd

  • I helped my husband with his early morning workout by doing some medicine ball passes and rotational work. I also followed along with his post-workout static stretching routine.
  • Later, I warmed up with some dynamic stretching then reviewed Taekwondo “White Belt – Class 1” (focus on front snap kick and low block) on the globalmartialarts.university site.
  • Cossack Squats: 10 reps. This was the first time I got 10 without having to use a hand for balance/assistance.
  • KB Goblet Full Squats: 35 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
  • BB Romanian Dead Lifts: 65 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Calf Raises (alternate seated and standing each set): Seated, One Leg 15 lbs. x 2 sets x 12 reps, Standing 2 sets x 20 reps

Calories: 2121, Protein: 151 g.

This cutie is a ring-necked snake (diadophis punctatus), which belongs to the Colubridae family. According to Wikipedia, this is the largest family of snakes and has representatives on every continent except Antarctica.

Someone in my area took this picture and was kind enough to give me permission to use it, though she didn’t want a photo credit.

I’m not surprised that ring-necked snakes are in our area once I read that they enjoy dining upon salamanders, earthworms and slugs, which we have aplenty in the redwood forest.

Wed, March 24th

  • For my warm up I did some dynamic stretching, worked with the indian clubs a little and then performed one set of the MV Workout with my 5 lb. mace.
  • I did one round from the Candy workout. The full workout is five rounds of 20 Pull Ups, 40 Push Ups, and 60 Squats. Regular pull ups and push ups aren’t happening for me in yet so I modified things where I used the 4th step on my cellar stairs to do incline push ups and for the pull ups did seated, leg assisted ones, which are an easier progression to eventually doing full pull ups. I did Hindu Squats instead of the easier (for me) regular squats.
    • A couple of useful pull up videos: One by Jeff Cavaliere about some of the technical aspects of pull ups, and another detailing progressions by Jessica Estrada.
  • (Super Set):
    • Alternating Sets of Seated, Leg-Assisted Pull Ups & Chins: 4 sets x 10 reps
    • Face Pulls: 12.5 lbs. x 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Sandbag (100 lbs.) and Fitness Rock:
    • (Set One) Picked up bag from 16″ platform and walked it outside (40 steps) to the tailgate of our Land Cruiser.
    • (Set Two) Picked up bag from tailgate (~31″) and held in bear hug hold for 45 seconds.
    • (Set Three) Picked fitness rock up from ground and threw it up and back, over my shoulder with the idea of building explosiveness. I did this for 8 repetitions.
    • (Set Four): Sandbag Bear Hug Hold: 45 seconds.
    • (Set Five): Threw fitness rock over shoulder x 8 reps
    • (Set Six): Picked up bag from tailgate and walked it 40 steps back to where it lives inside of our basement.
    • (Set Seven): I walked down the street with my fitness rock on my shoulder, to the yellow 5 mph speed limit sign and then jog-walked back uphill to my house. (I switched shoulders a couple of times.) The trip took 3:07 minutes.
  • Calories: 2266, Protein: 157 g.

I went to the local range and did some archery on the 24th. My poor, neglected recurve bow hasn’t seen any use in over a year now because all of the local venues have been closed and are just starting to open back up.

I was pretty rusty and mostly shot at one of the easier targets. I was kind of all over the place but I did have one round where everything seemed to come together and I shot ok. I think I might take a lesson next week and see about fine tuning things.

I thought about putting in some targets on our property last year. We have plenty of room but I know the neighbors wouldn’t appreciate it too much. We have good relations with everyone around us and that could all go away with one misplaced arrow shot into someone’s backyard. So I decided to take a break and I’m not sorry I did. Getting back to archery now is fun since I haven’t done it in so long.

Thur, March 25th

  • Morning Walk: 2.9 miles.
  • Captains of Crush Gripper (Trainer, 100 lbs.):
    • (Set 1): Left = 6 mm x 3 + 2 reps, Right = Closed x 2 reps + 3 reps
    • (Set 2): Left = 6 mm x 4 + 1 reps, Right = Closed x 2 reps + 3 reps
    • (Set 3): Left = 6 mm x 2 + 2 reps, Right = 2mm x 6 reps
    • (Set 4): Left = 6 mm x 3 + 2 reps, Right = 2mm x 5 + 1 reps
    • (Set 5): Dynamic Training with the Sport (80 lbs.) gripper. I did 30 reps with each hand. I closed the gripper 20 times with my right (barely) and then did 10 more reps with the Guide (60 lbs.) gripper. I reached failure with the Sport, with my left hand, at 12 reps and then did 18 more reps with the Guide.*
  • I followed along with the Muay Thai “Stance,” “Footwork,” and “Jab” introductory lessons on the globalmartialarts.university site.
  • Recumbent Bike: 35 Minutes, Interval Training. Level: 4 – 8, Speed (rpm’s): 70+ recovery intervals, 75+ higher resistance intervals, 100+ sprints. I did the “Intermediate Recumbent Bike Endurance Intervals Workout,” video put out by Sunny Health & Fitness. The presenter was Sydney Eaton. The workout was interval training with increasing resistance each set, ending with eight 20 second sprints with 10 seconds rest in-between each round.
  • I ended with some stretching and made sure I did some Cat-Cow, Cobra and other poses and stretches, which seem to help keep my back loose. I also made a point of working on maintaining my side-lunge stretch and worked on the arms portion of the Cow Face pose, which I do a little every day now. I also worked in some stretching while I was watching my pot of Hoover Stew simmer. (I’ll post a recipe about that in a week or two.) I finished off my stretching with a few minutes of Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani). I have done these with the legs apart in various ways to stretch out the inner thighs for kicking and such, on the advice of a massage therapist I went to years ago, but never this way. It felt pretty good.

Calories: 2254, Protein: 142 g.

I get the impression my neighbors think my dooryard sandbag and rock work is a little weird.

Fri, March 26th

  • Morning Walk: 1.96 miles.
  • Later in the morning, I warmed up with some dynamic stretching, indian clubs and a little mace work.
  • Dead Bugs (2-ct): 35 reps
  • DB Curls: 25 lbs. x 3 sets x 10 reps, 1 set x 8 reps
  • (Exercise Complex: FOUR ROUNDS)
    • Push Ups (2nd cellar stair using handles): 3 sets x 8 reps, 1 set x 4 (2nd stair) + 4 (3rd stair) reps
    • Bench Dips (straight legs): 2 sets x 8 reps; Reverse Tricep Pushdowns (str. bar): 30 lbs. x 2 sets x 12, 15 reps
    • Side Crunches (ea. side): 4 sets x 8 reps
    • DB Hammer Curls: 20 lbs. x 12 reps, 25 lbs. x 8 reps; Alternating Cross Body Hammer Curls: 25 lbs. x 2 sets x 8 reps
  • I worked on the Muay Thai “Jab” lesson on the globalmartialarts.university site.
  • Had a nice chiropractor visit and did some stretching in the evening.

Calories: 2370, Protein: 163 g.

Sat, March 27th

  • We did some medicine ball passes and such.
  • Exercise Complex: FOUR ROUNDS [Hindu Squats 20 reps, Standing Hamstring Curls (cable) 20 lbs. x 8 reps, Walking Lunges (light knee touch) 8 reps} +
    • (Set One) Muay Thai style jabs: 50 jabs
    • (Set Two) Box Pattern Footwork (Muay Thai): 15 boxes each way.
    • (Set Three) Taekwondo White Belt Drill #1: 20 times
    • (Set Four) Cossack Squats: 8 reps
  • Finished with a quick complex: Wrist Rolling (plates): 10 lbs. x 1 time up and down, Wrist Curls using wrist rolling set up (10 lbs. x 20 reps), Plate Hold (pronated for thumbs): 5 lbs. x 30 seconds, Static Finger Extension Hold (5 lb. plate): 30 seconds
  • I reviewed the Muay Thai “Stance,” “Footwork,” and “Jab” lessons on the globalmartialarts.university site.
  • Afternoon Walk: 5.35 miles

Calories: 2672, Protein: 150 g. (I lost 0.6 lbs. this week. My total loss thus far is 30.2 lbs.)


* The idea of performing a set to muscle failure and then brining the resistance down a little and immediately doing more reps until failure and so on is called a Drop Set.