This post is part hobby update, part real-life interlude. Come along, if you wish, and see how Comrade’s Wargames has been enduring the last, apocalyptic days of summer.
Some readers may know that I live in western Oregon, an area of the country that is beautiful, lush, and quiet — most of the time. Every now and then, wildfires come calling. This is the western United States, after all, and even though western Oregon has a reputation for being gray and rainy, the fact remains that most of Oregon’s climate is dry for a large part of the year. Global climate change is only worsening that trend, I’m afraid.
So, wildfires caused by lightning strikes in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains blew up on Labor Day weekend, fanned by an unusually strong wind system, and quickly grew to thousands of acres. These fires were unique because they began moving toward the Willamette Valley, home to the largest population centers in Oregon. Oh hey, I live there too. Right here, where the purple arrow is pointing.
So things were pretty dicey for a few days. Smoke and ash blanketed the entire valley, including my home. Here’s a look at my neighborhood on the morning of Tuesday, September 8. It looks like something out of a Resident Evil video game.
And here’s the accumulated ash on the hood of my car.
We watched the news nervously for a few days, and had our go bags prepped in case we needed to hit the road. But the fires stayed mainly in the forested mountain canyons and never ventured down into the major cities in the valley.
The air quality, however, was another story. For nearly two weeks, the air in my neck of the woods was worse than what you’d typically see in someplace like Beijing. Of course, the smoke and ash coincided with a visit from my mother-in-law, so we had to spend the entire visit indoors, with the HVAC running full blast to have a modicum of comfort.
Being trapped indoors for a week gave me an opportunity to putter around with another new hobby: food preservation! I have a little backyard garden, more of a garden patch really, and I was excited to try my hand at canning some food for storage. The tomatoes here came from my garden, and the peppers were a gift from my friend and fellow gamer John, who moved into a new home that had a backyard garden overflowing with produce (courtesy of the previous owners) and graciously allowed me to harvest some crops.
Take a look at my haul from John’s garden. Wow! Every color of the rainbow. What didn’t get pickled and canned has already been consumed by my family.
I am terribly proud of my meager pints of preserved tomatoes and peppers, and I plan to increase my garden space next summer. Please do me a favor and check back in 4 months to make sure I haven’t gotten botulism after popping these bad boys open.
Between fires and being trapped indoors and all this food prep, you might think I would have had zero time for my miniatures hobby. Incorrect! In fact, retreating to my workshop/office became an important daily ritual for me during this fairly stressful time. I managed to finish six of these fantastic chunky resin dwarf models from Scibor Monstrous Miniatures.
They are really tremendous sculpts, full of character, and perfect as elite warriors, thanes, sergeants, or lords.
For my army, they will hit the table as hearthguard, sworn bannerdwarves to King Nicodemus, the Anvil of Dawn. Huzzah!
See? I managed to squeeze in a bit of a hobby update amidst all this real-life stuff. There will be more to come soon, as the Year of Fantasy marches on!