Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Hiatus Redux

I need to write. But I don't want to blog.

I was in Port Angeles over the weekend. So much I could say...much of it (probably) intensely personal. Saw the bulk of my relatives from that side of the family. It's been 30+ years. To see my cousins (mostly second cousins), who were kids (in their early teens...maybe) now as 40-something year olds. Some are nigh unrecognizable. Some are completely recognizable...but their lives are not. So much change.

The "celebration of life" for my uncle was about what I expected. A hell of a turnout. More food than I anticipated. A LOT of cheap beer (Rainier, or "Old Seattle Lager" as I think it's now called). Maybe. Who knows...it wasn't marked. Nothing too sloppy...decorum was observed (as much as it ever is). Respectful. Dancing was confined to the floor, rather than up on the bar.

Saw my aunts...both of them. Amazing. If you know the family history.

My kids were ogled over. My daughter played Elvis songs on the piano ("Suspicious Minds"). Diego got to shoot pool with his parents.

My wife and children had a blast. Made connections. Already making plans to go back.  

They remember the good. They didn't observe the six police car standoff/bullhorn negotiation outside my  hotel window that lasted between 3:30am and 8:30am. DV guy. With a dog. Didn't want his dog to get shot. Fortunately no shooting. I went back to bed around 6ish, figuring the cops would evacuate me if necessary. So Port Angeles. 

[for...reasons...the dog and I spent Friday night in a different room from the rest of my family. We were all together Saturday night]

The waitress at the hotel restaurant regaled us with the whole story while we waited for our breakfast order. Seems she hadn't seen that much action since a few months ago where a wedding party got a bit rowdy and started throwing furniture off the balcony, and an "active shooter" situation developed.


Sunday we drove out to Ediz Hook ("the Spit"). I stared at the ocean for a long time. My kids skipped rocks in the mirror calm Harbor side.  I could stand on those bluffs and look at the ocean and gray for days, with the Olympics at my back...gorgeous those mountains are, especially seen from Port Angeles Harbor on a clear day. Calm harbor and gorgeous mountains...grey ocean and crashing waves. Glorious, both ways.

I could live in Port Angeles. But I wouldn't raise my kids there.

In politics, Washington is considered a "blue" state. But really, the only blue part of the state is western King County, i.e. Seattle. We just outnumber the hicks and cowboys east of the cascades, the money-grubbing business tycoons in Issaquah and Bellevue, the military hawks in Snohomosh and Pierce county.  All those areas are red-red-red (maybe a little purplish recently since Trump is such an asshole). But the peninsula isn't red or blue. It's gray. Gray like the ocean. Gray like the sky. Politics? They just closed the pulp mill in 1997 after sixty years. Is my kid on meth? Pregnant? Both?

My wife at my uncle's (large) gathering: "I am the only non-caucasian here...I feel a bit intimidated." Me: "I am sorry you feel intimidated. It's Port Angeles...they don't care." True enough. By the end of the night she had decided she loves these people. I see why. They are lovable. Also heartbreaking. In much the same way as my Montanan side of the family is. But it's not the same...it's a different type of heartbreak, a different type of melancholy.

When (what we now called) Americans pushed west of the Mississippi, they were a certain type of folk. They were not "adventurers" in the D&D sense of the term. But they were an outcast of a particular sort. Well, of many particular sorts. And they settled those western areas as they could and as was convenient. Some were quicker than others. Some kept moving...all the way till they hit the ocean and couldn't go any farther. 

You see this in the Northwest...don't think of California in this regard. California was settled long before the "pioneers" ever got there (remember: it originally belonged to Spanish Mexico before being sold to the United States). Oregon and Washington were different. My father's father homesteaded in Oregon, he and his six brothers hunting and fishing to help the family survive. During WW2, they enlisted in the army where their skill with rifles earned them medals in Europe...quite a change from when they'd been bullied as youths for their German heritage. My grandfather, a staff sergeant, earned a Purple Heart in addition to his Silver Star...he joked (??) that he was shot by his own men for being a German.

I don't know why my grandfather, Ed, moved to Port Angeles. But he did, and he lived there the rest of his days. My grandmother...and her mother (my great grandmother) both left and returned and lived out the rest of their lives on that gray coastline. Of my father's generation, he is the only one to have moved away...his youngest brother just died there, and it's likely that his other siblings will as well...some day. Probably someday sooner than any of us would like.

My mother has cancer. Just confirmed that today. Rough.

Back in July of 2014, I announced a temporary "blog hiatus" in order to attend to my family. The hiatus ended up not lasting very long (less than two months before regular posting resumed) and had much to deal with the major changes going on in my life at the time...new baby, new country, new situation...and getting my head screwed on right. I've had far longer breaks from blogging since then...in 2018 I went more than four months (between July and November) without a post.

But I'm announcing another, purposeful blog hiatus. I want to focus my energies on something creative (i.e. a writing project). And my time is so limited. And that's GOOD that my time is limited (because I have an active life, attending to my family and whatnot). But it IS limited. And I really, really, want to create something.

Creation, not destruction. Joy, not melancholy.

SO...I'm putting the blog on hold for a while. I hope to be back by April. We'll see if I can stay away...the call of the blog-o-sphere is nearly as seductive as the call of the ocean.


  1. Being on a project myself, it's eating up my blog time. I'm trying to throw a moment in here and there, to be relevant, but honestly it's hard to get my mind off the book.

    I'm going to ask that you do something like what I'm doing on my patreon just now. As you work on your project, throw up a paragraph on your patreon, or here. Just a paragraph. No new writing. Don't explain the context. If all we see is a random description of a room, that's more than enough to know your working and that it's great.

    1. I’ll see what I can do, Alexis. Let me try to get something worth excerpting.

      (Ha! Surprised “excerpting” is a word)

  2. Good luck JB! We'll see you when you're back, and with something shiny to show us!

  3. I'll allow it. I am getting ready to move so one less thing to distract me.

    Joking aside good luck and can't wait to see what comes out of the hiatus.

  4. My condolences Mr. Becker. We hope to see you back soon.

  5. Glad you got to visit with family that you hadn't seen in forever and a day. That's pretty cool.

  6. Probably out of place to ask here in comments, but had you seen anything about Stephen Marsh (author of Expert set with David Cook) is working on his own B/X Companion. Says his draft will need to be split into 2 books given its size (one of the books needs to be monsters alone). He talks about it in his FB group: The Marsh Companion Project.

    1. Huh. I have NOT heard about that, but it sounds pretty groovy. While both Dave Cook and Steve Marsh are credited with the Expert set, my understanding is that Marsh did the bulk of the writing with Cook doing the editing and layout.

      That being said...two books? Seems a little excessive. There are some 75ish different monsters in the Expert set (my Companion has about the same) taking up about 16 pages. The Basic set gives more than that in fewer pages. I'll be interested to see how it turns out (i.e. I'll probably buy it), but I'd RATHER see a single booklet with a suitable, accompanying adventure module...a la the original B/X sets.
      ; )

    2. I shot an email to you with further info on the group's latest update, and a link to the group if you are interested in checking it out or even giving some valuable input.