Saturday, December 28, 2013

Prompt Response #2: Hunter turned Hunted

Thomas Orde-Lees woke with a start. He rolled onto his side and stared idly towards nothing in particular. It was not only a new day, but the beginning of a new year. It was the first day of January, 1916, in the middle of the Antarctic continent. Orde-Lees climbed from his sleeping bag and stepped into the frigid weather outside his shared tent. Like the rest of the stranded crew of the Endurance, he slept fully clothed to keep his body from freezing in the night.

                Orde-Lees hurried to where Charles Green had fired up their blubber-burning stove. Green was the expedition cook, but he could not begin preparing the crew’s breakfast until Orde-Lees, the storekeeper, had issued him the daily rations.

                “Mornin’, Thomas,” Green said, nodding towards Orde-Lees. Green’s face was dark, stained black by the smoke from the Blubber-Stove. The blackened face seemed such a stark contrast against the white ice that covered the terrain the men traversed. Orde-Lees nodded back at Green, before fishing at the stores and gathering the daily rations. He noticed how low the crew had gotten on stores and pulled a paper from his pocket, on which tallies and figures had been written. After looking from the paper back to the stores, and finally back to the paper, Orde-Lees let out a sigh and shook his head mournfully.

                He delivered the morning rations to Green, and stared at the stove in a downcast manor. “According to my figures, we’ve got rations for another fifty days,” he said.

                Green snorted. “By the looks of the portions you brought me today, I’m surprised! Only fifty?” he asked mockingly. “Are you sure you couldn’t squeeze another couple weeks out of this stuff?”

                Orde-Lees frowned, obviously hurt by the comments. “I do my best with what we’ve got, Green! You could cut me some slack you know! So long as each man eats no more than two pounds of ration a day, it should last us fifty days! After all, I’m trying to be generous with the men!”

                “I’m sorry, Tom,” Green shrugged, “we’re all on edge. If only we had some penguin meat… or seal steak! We could supplement the rations. You know, give the lads something else to chew. As it stands, our meals are just so meagre.”

                Nodding, Orde-Lees agreed. “I know, Charles. But hunting has been scarce. We haven’t so much as seen a penguin the last few days! It’s so very odd… this time last year, game was abundant. Such a stark contrast for Nineteen-Sixteen, eh?”

                Green smiled. “That’s right!” he said. “It’s a new Year. Last year, we thought we’d be well across the continent by now. I guess none of us is a prophet.”

                Orde-Lees grinned at the jest, but sobered quickly. The thought was a discouraging one. The year had been full of many set-backs and not much progress. At least, not as much as the crew had hoped for.

                As the pair sat staring at the blubber stove and thinking over the past year, Frank Wild approached them and sat as well. “Mornin’, lads.” He said, stretching his palms towards the stove. “Bloody cold, isn’t it?” he paused and stared at the amassed rations beside the stove. “That’s not breakfast, is it?” he asked. Orde-Lees rolled his eyes before he stood and scanned the horizon.

Wild was second in command of the crew. The man was friendly and well-liked by the men. Green smiled at his jest now, and began placing the rations in pans for warming.

“We’ll be going hunting again today, then.” Frank said, still staring at the small sized breakfast. “We need something to supplement the ration with.”

Orde-Lees held up a hand. “I’ll go, Wild. I can travel pretty quickly on my skis. I’ll be able to cover more distance than some of the other men that way.”

Frank nodded. “Alright, I’ll send out a few of the other lads too, but you can go, Lees. You might as well leave right after you’ve finished morning grub. If we’re going to bring anything down, it won’t be while sitting around the stove.”

The chores were divvied up amongst the crew, and Orde-Lees was included in those sent out to hunt. He set off away from the camp at a quick pace, slowing when he’d gotten a sufficient distance between them. He used his ski poles to pull himself as he slid across the ice floes.

Orde-Lees had crossed a number of floes before he finally stopped to scan the horizon. His eyes flitted here and there, but he saw nothing. He was alone, just him and miles of ice. If he was to kill any game today, it had not yet surface from the water beneath the ice floes. After a few moments of watching the ice, Orde-Lees began his trek again, this time skiing across the ice more slowly and watching the floes carefully for emerging heads between cracks and crevices. He was so thorough in his search, it was mid-day before he stopped again. He allowed his eyes one last sweep of the horizon before snorting in a disgruntled fashion and turning to head back for camp.

                He skied even slower now, stopping frequently to look here and there for sign of life. But his hunt had been in vain. There was no sign of game, no matter where he looked. It was a powerful disappointment his stomach growled for lack of food, and the thought of a meagre dinner did nothing to help. As he approached the camp, he spied the makeshift tents and men going about their business in the ice and cold.

                Suddenly, Orde-Lees heard a splashing sound and he turned to see a round head looking at him from the exposed water between floes. The head was that of an enormous leopard seal and as Orde-Lees exchanged looks with the monstrous seal, he noticed the hunger in its eyes. He turned and fled, pulling on his ski poles with every ounce of his might.

                “Wild!” he yelled as he sped over the ice, “Wild! Help! Bring your gun!”

                Orde-Lees glanced over his shoulder and spied the leopard seal tearing after him, its mouth open as it ran. He could see the rows of sharp teeth in the creature’s maw, saliva dripping from between. The seal rushed after him, rocking in the characteristic way seals traversed the ice. As Orde-Lees pulled away as fast as he could, he could hear the sea leopard gaining on him from behind. In a few more bounds, it was sure to be on him and then he’d be the game of the day. But as suddenly as the seal had appeared, it left, diving between the floes and into the frozen depths beyond.

                Orde-Lees continued to yell for Wild as he hurried towards the camp. He began to calm as he noted the seal was no longer anywhere to be seen. Perhaps he had simply been too quick, too much of a hassle to catch. He was about to cross onto safer ice when the jagged opening just ahead of him splashed upwards and the leopard seal leapt onto the floe with a spray of chilling water. Orde-Lees gave in to panic and his calls for help became near unintelligible screams of fear. The sea leopard lunged at him, snarling, its jaws open as wide as they could. The hunter dashed back the way he’d come, not bothering to look back over his shoulder.


                Wild was in his tent when he heard the yells. He thought he head his name being called, before his ears picked up the higher pitched screams of terror. He grabbed his rifle and a box of cartridges before tearing out of his tent and towards the sounds.

As he crested a low hummock of ice, Wild could finally survey the scene for himself. He was shocked by what he saw: a terrified Orde-Lees forcing himself across the ice as fast as he could pull, and an enormous leopard-spotted seal chasing him. The monster was gaining on the man, leaving Wild little time to react. He leaped from the hummock and tore after them, running across the ice in an attempt to get within rifle range of the sea leopard. As he ran, Wild forced cartridges into the chamber of the rifle until he could load no more. He yelled at the top of his lungs, hoping the seal would turn from its pursuit of Orde-Lees to himself instead. To Wild’s relief, the seal took the bait.

Wild dropped to one knee, steadied the rifle, and fired. The bullet ripped into the seal’s carcass, painting the ice with crimson blood. But the seal still came on. Wild fired once more, yanking back the bolt and ramming it forward again. His second bullet also found its mark, but the seal never slowed. It tore towards him, racing full-bore. As the monstrous sea leopard closed in, Wild fired a third time and a fourth, both shots hitting the animal squarely, and both doing little to stop it.

The seal was now within thirty feet of Wild and closing. Its mouth agape, the rows of yellowed teeth arrayed for Wild to see. He steadied the rifle, his heart beating in his ears. Sweat trickled down his face and back as the rifle raised and lowered with his breath.

“Come on, now, Wild lad.” He said to himself “Make this shot count, or you’re dead man.”

Staring down the sights of the rifle, Wild exhaled and squeezed the trigger. The seal stopped and plunged to the ice, finally halted by death. Wild breathed in slowly and let out a sigh of relief. His stiff arms loosened and dropped to his sides and he stood to walk off the shakes that his body had contracted. Orde-Lees arrived, his eyes round and wide. There was a trail of blood from where Wild’s first shot had struck the seal to where it lay not far at all from where Wild had knelt to fire.

Orde-Lees kept looking from the dead seal to Wild and back. He was out of breath and shaking as well. “That was a close shave.” He said, his voice hoarse from his yelling and heavy exertion. Wild only nodded. He walked up and down the length of the seal his eyes never leaving it.

Orde-Lees paced it out, calling to Wild that the animal was twelve feet long. “Bloody thing’s a monster!” he exclaimed, giving the seal a push with his boot. “Green’s got his wish after all! This seal ought to yield plenty meat to supplement the rations with. We’ll be eating like kings!”

Wild nodded. “All I know, is I better get a bloody, massive slab of steak from this beast. If that last shot hadn’t brought him down, he’d be feasting on me right about now.”

“I’m just glad you showed up when you did, Wild. I might have died of heart failure if he didn’t catch me up first! He was fast for not having any legs! And clever, too. He tracked my shadow from under the ice and leapt out in front of me!”

Soon, a number of crew members, having heard the shots and cries for help, arrived at the sight of the seal. All of them were amazed by the size of the seal and a round of cheers went up when the story of the encounter was told.

The seal was dragged back to camp and butchered. When the men opened its carcass they discovered the remains of three smaller seals; several of the monster’s earlier meals. When the leopard seal’s jawbone was removed, it measured near nine inches across. The men gave it to Orde-Lees as a souvenir of the encounter. An encounter, he was loath to forget, souvenir or no. As far as Orde-Lees and Wild were concerned, such an experience was the nearest they ever planned to approach death.

(Written in response to prompt "Hunting Trip")

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Movies at Midnight

Well, at long last the second installment to the Hobbit film trilogy is finally here! I found this ‘sneak peak’ dealio and thought it probably the best paced one I’ve seen yet. It really sets the exciting mood for the upcoming film. I know I sure am eager for my viewing tonight!


It was just about this time last year that I was working insane shifts at my old job, having to be at my station at midnight and the such. That’s behind me now, thank goodness… But that means, unlike last year, I will be going to the midnight-premier showing of this year’s Hobbit film! Matty will be going too, as well as three or four of our friends. It ought to be almost more fun than last year’s movie!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Studs stick together...

My older sister and only older sibling got married on the first. Kind of a hectic day with odd annoyances prior to it, but it was very beautiful. Personally, it's nice to see a couple so loving of one another that the flaws are invisible to them. I see that kind of love in my parents too. My sister and her husband make a pretty cute couple, and I hope the day was as special as it was planned to be.

I agreed to be a groomsman, as did Matty, and we got to rent tuxes like legit gentlemen. Black jackets and black pants, with white shirts and teal vests... all topped with a shiny, blue bowtie. Pretty yummy, let me tell you.

Before we returned our fancy get-ups, we decided to take a couple photos. They turned out well enough I dubbed them needed on my blog, and here I post them.

I believe the Tuxedo agrees with me...
Those vests were too divine...
After-party look...
A little too much sparkling cider, perhaps?
A dynamic duo of sorts...

Friday, November 15, 2013

Chainmail (Post #2)

Back in ye olden dayes, soldiers following the banner of their lorde into battle would wear a cap of maile upon their wooly pates to protect their domes from the hacking and slashing the enemy would inflict by flailing about sharp and pointy objects.

Said caps were called Coifes, and they would form a sort of hood for the wearer. Such apparel was vital in a world where a man's life was only a sword-blade's length from being snuffed out. Ring-mail, or chainmaille, was cheaper to produce than plated armor, and thus was more readily available to the common soldier as it was more affordable on his meager paycheck.

This day in age, one would be far more likely to see a fellow bustling about in a hoodie than a gentleman dressed in mail armor. But because of my incredible fascination with the age of the knight and castle-fortress, I decided to weave my own suit of mail. I started with the Coife, because I had a feeling its shape would cause it to be one of the most difficult aspects of the suit. Also, it being a smaller item, I hoped it would be a fairly straight-forward and quick item to weave. I was proven incorrect in my assumptions time and time again in the process of weaving this particular garment. But although it was a trial of sorts, at long last I have completed my Coife and there shall be much rejoicing!

Right... eh... moving right along...

It weighs some 11.2 pounds complete, and while heavy, is surprisingly comfortable when worn upon one's head. I wish I had kept better track of how many rolls of wire went into this piece, but I think it was six or seven 100-foot rolls of galvanized wire which I then twisted into rings.

I will say, it's pretty impressive holding it in your hands. And to think such a supple, while protective, piece of apparel is made up entirely of small, metal rings of steel. Amazing...

I model the armor, wearing the impressive and shiny Coife atop my noble brow. 'Tis a masterfully woven bit of mail, that. Now comes the daunting task of weaving the next piece. I've decided the Hauberk is a good choice. And I know that will take an immense number of rings to weave... but I feel it will be a fairly more straightforward piece, as it will have fewer odd curves to fit in.

Of course... I've been wrong before. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Prompt Response #1: Brothers in Arms

Garus glanced about the battlefield as he mopped the sweat from his brow. Their lines had held in the midst of their grand charge, chasing their opponents from the field. The enemy was now scattered like so many startled birds caught unaware as those that remained on their feet ran from the battlefield.

Garus tugged at the sleeve of his mail shirt, straitening it. He wiped the blade of his sword clean and sheathed it at his hip. Today had been no less than a glorious victory for their numbers. They had quickly dispatched some great number of their foes and chased the survivors from the fields. Yes, today had been a remarkable victory.

“Julius,” Garus exclaimed, “We’ve won! We are victorious, my brother. Our enemy has been vanquished upon this field of battle!” As the soldier turned, he found no one standing beside him. His smile faded and he searched frantically from one ally to the next, hoping for some man to turn around and for him to be Julius. But none did. Garus called out for his brother, that he might answer him, telling him that he was alright. But no reply reached Garus’ ears. Panic had already set in and Garus grew frantic in his search.

Garus halted. Finally his eyes rested on the face of his brother, but not in some happy reunion. The young man lay on a cart among other corpses. His body buried slightly by so many more; dead like him. Garus rushed to the cart, shoving bodies away so that he could reach that of his brother. Blood was crusted all over where Julius had been struck on the side of his head. His eyes were closed and his lips were drawn taught. In the excitement of the moment Garus had somehow not seen as his brother received the fatal blow. Yet now, as he looked down at his brother’s lifeless form, the gladness the soldier had experienced in their victory was lost. Such things paled in comparison with the life of his brother.

Garus let his head droop. He touched his brow to that of his brother as tears began to slip from his eyes. The realization that his brother was dead had struck the soldier heavily and he wept. Victory, no matter how incredible, was not worth his brother’s life. For that matter, nothing was.

The soldier rocked the body of his brother to and fro as he cried. The hot tears raced down his face, burning paths through the grime and blood that was caked thereon. His grief was immeasurable. The body he held in his arms was flesh and blood of his own. They had shared so much more than simply a name. And now, his soul had departed and his body would soon be no more than food for the worms of the earth.

Garus carried the body of his brother away from the cart, walking; stumbling from the carnage of where the two armies had clashed in the throes of battle. Where he was walking was entirely superficial, but he wasn’t about to leave his brother in the pile of mangled corpses on the wagon. His brother, his own flesh and blood, deserved more than a soldier’s hurried burial. And Garus would see that his body’s resting place was one of respect and honor. The price of victory was indeed a bitter wine.

(Written In response to Prompt “Medieval Tragedy”)


Monday, October 14, 2013

Writing Prompts

A friend of mine and writing buddy suggested that we should really be posting more actively on our blogs. His suggestion was that we pitch prompts to one another, and write either prose or a poem inspired by the prompt. There will be no restrictions in place, aside from word count. The piece, if prose, can be no fewer than 400 words. Basically, that’s all there is to it.

Those who enjoy my literary endeavors will more than likely find these Prompt-inspired posts intriguing, since generally they’ll be tiny novelettes posted for your reading pleasure. This exercise ought to be an excellent practice in literary form, even in such a small scale.

Another friend already picked both his and my prompts for the week, so you can expect a post sometime soon concerning my first.

I’m very excited for this whole thing. I feel like it will be a healthy reprieve, and keep me writing constantly, even if only small sequences. You’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for the installments to this challenge.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

That Darn Oil Filter...

Today was a day off from work, and days off from work usually are days where I can attempt to work on one of my own projects. My trusty Sidekick needed an oil change, and I had already picked up all the needed supplies for such a change sometime earlier last week, so I was all set. After a slow start to the morning, a coffee, and a couple donuts, I slipped into my jumpsuit and got to work.

It was raining today, as Autumn has officially arrived in Washington, so I pulled Suzi’s hood into the garage so that I could stay mostly dry during the process. Draining the oil pan went smoothly. I didn’t spill a drop on the garage floor and in no time the pan was empty, so I moved on to the oil filter. The oil filter was quite the separate matter though. For some reason, I’ve always had trouble getting oil filters off the cars I work on. But Suzi’s always give me particular trouble. It doesn’t help, though, that the filter is in this tiny little empty space which hasn’t enough room to fry a cat. Thankfully, my dad has this oil-filter wrench which, in most cases, works splendidly at loosening up particularly tough filters. But I have this problem where I never really know which way to twist the darn thing. And after getting elbow grease all over everything, I realized, much too late mind you, that I had only succeeded in tightening the filter a couple quarter turns more, which made it only a couple million times more impossible to get the filter to release its hold. I yanked and I pulled, I pulled and I yanked. At some point yesterday I jammed my thumb, and every time I lost my hold and bashed my thumb against something hard It’d hurt like nothing else. I kept trying the loosen the thing just growing angrier as my thumb grew more and more sore. Then I lost my temper and punched my tires. I worked a sweat up and down, to the point where I had to take off my jacket and roll up my sleeves. But that filter was on good and tight and wasn’t about to let go.

As I sat and cursed at the ratty thing my brother sauntered into the garage to check on me. I’d been out there for a couple hours at this point and he was wondering what the hold up was. I’d changed the oil in my Sidekick a multitude of times (I used to drive just under a hundred miles a day and was doing oil changes at the end of just about every month.) and I had the process down pat by now. I cursed at the filter a couple more times before turning to him with a sour face and explaining what the trouble was. He shrugged and asked if he could try. Of course he could! Sure, I usually like to figure out my problems on my own, but when I’m having a lot of trouble with something, sometimes it takes passing the buck to whoever’s unfortunate enough to walk by at the time to make me feel a bit better.

So my brother gave the oil-filter wrench a try. No dice. I handed him a big, ol’ pair of channel-locks. Nothin’. Then I pulled out a biggest, baddest monkey-wrench I could find and he tried tightening that sucker down on the oil filter. And even though he swore he saw the filter budge a bit every couple tries, to me it only looked like we had succeeded in uglifying that oil filter until it looked like it had been in the middle of two head-on collisions, a T-bone crash, three side-swipes, and a rear-ending. It had dents and scratches like nothing else. But since my brother was the one breaking the sweat and not me, I rolled my sleeves back down and pulled my jacket on again. Then I threatened that I’d spend the money I was going to use on his Christmas gift on a new tool for getting this ridiculous oil filter off and he redoubled his efforts. Just about all my morning and part of my afternoon had gotten sucked into this usually simple task and I was getting desperate. But the filter still didn’t want to budge.

Finally, I told him to give me another try at it, and I slid under the car with the filter wrench. It first it seemed like things were going to go as they had before, but then I felt the filter twist just a tiny bit. I returned the wrench to starting point and tried again, this time putting a little extra effort into it, and again I felt the filter budge just a bit. With wild excitement, I wrenched on the filter a couple more times, rewarded by several squeaks and much progress. With only a couple more turns I was able to unscrew the awful filter with my hands and then it was off. I leapt up from under the car, embracing my brother and shaking his hands in appreciation. Sure, I’d gotten the filter off. But I was certain that he had loosened it up for me. He went back inside to clean himself up while I installed the new filter and filled up Suzi’s oil reserves. All that went as smoothly as usual, and my Sidekick was ready to rumble.

Moral to the story? I guess think really hard about which way the oil filter needs to turn before you try loosening it. And make sure you have a sibling or a friend (Or, even better; both…) within close proximity to pass your menial labor on to should you get aggravated.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Summer's End...

Wow! It has been far, far too long since I last updated. Honestly, about the only reason I don’t post updates more frequently is because not a lot of things have happened this past month. Work’s been much the same as it usually is. Although, a couple hands of our staff recently found employment elsewhere and will be leaving us soon. It’s weird. In the ten months I’ve been with the company, the hands sure have changed pretty frequently. I feel like it’s a totally different workplace these days.

Writing for me has mostly been in another short story. This one is set during modern times, or in the near future and is very relatable for me as the writer. I love writing fantasy and pieces of historical fiction, but writing something set in a period of time I understand better than others is a reprieve of sorts. We met for a couple writing meetings and decided on a new meeting schedule, although we’ve broken it already and will unfortunately do so again this week, but that just gives us time to work on extra content for the next meeting I suppose.

As for my art, I’ve only been doing a bit of sketching here and there. Nothing incredibly serious, but some fun pieces all of which I have been happy with. I’m mostly just doing my best to keep that drawing muscle in shape.

Also – my chainmail is coming along nicely. The coife is all but finished and I’m looking forward to moving on to the hauberk.

More recently, it’s gotten colder of late. Autumn seems to be officially here. I’ve had to wear a sweatshirt the last couple days at work, and only a couple weeks ago I was wearing shorts and we were all complaining about the sweltering heat. The temperatures have dropped, and so has the rain. The heavens have opened up and it has been pouring this last week. I find myself wishing we had had some sort of warning. All this rain came so suddenly!

Hopefully the time I post an update, I will have something substantial to post about.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Break the Silence

A lot of people, including many of my blog's readers, know how much I love voice acting. Many also know how, eventually, I'd really like to make a living, or at least part of one, through voice over. People are constantly asking me if I'm actually doing any work in voice acting.
Well. I certainly am.
A year ago I attended a week-long retreat called The Guild. It was hosted by Lamplighter ministries and its goal was to cause young, talented individuals to realize that God had gifted them with a life, and gifts, and a call to use all of that for His Glory and the furthering of His kingdom. I met so many incredible people, learned so many incredibly insightful things, and basked in the presence of like-minded teachers and students. It was nothing less then life-altering.
But what came of this life-changing retreat? Well... the hope, was that students leaving the Guild would join in partnerships to co-operate on projects. That their combined passions would ally themselves, forming masterpieces of quality and excellence.
One of these co-operations is a documentary film titled Break the Silence: Echoing the Voice of God through Dramatic Audio. And you can learn more about the project and its aim at this link. At that link, you can also donate to the project. This is a big step for the team, and we could use any and all the help you can give, either by donating to the film, or through prayer.
My involvement in this project is as the narrator for the film. But you can also hear some of my work via either the promotional trailer or a number of the audio bios on the site. So be sure to check those out while you're there.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Today's Exam...

Well now. It’s been a while since I last found myself in bloggersville. Part of that is the fact that I’ve been working a lot these days. And then part of it was also that I was studying hard for a CLEP test I was hoping to take sometime soon. Many already know that I have decided to CLEP my college degree, as in my case it is a more cost effective way to earn my college degree. The particular test I’ve been studying for though, I’ve kind of been putting off. Partly I’ve been putting it off because it will be my first and frankly I’m terrified, and also partly because I just haven’t felt ready to take it. I’ve taken a number of practice tests, some of which I’ve passed, and some of which I’ve failed. Recently, I felt very encouraged to finally take the test, so I filled out an application, and called in to make an appointment. The paper-work was filled out, and my name was on the calendar. All I had to do was wait. And all I did was study and worry. Wednesday, August Eighth was my testing date. Yep, today was the big day.

So I drove some 40 miles to the testing center, praying and fretting the whole way. I was very, very nervous. I didn’t want to be late, so I left much earlier than needed. I arrived with time to spare, got signed in, met the proctors and such, and sat down to take the test. But… well… the computer fried.

Turns out the testing center’s computers had only just gotten a major overhaul the day before, and didn’t actually have all the needed software installed as well as other minor problems. Communication had been buggered so the facility had no idea that they weren’t actually set up for tests. At least not until I and another student attempted to use the computers.

So I drove all the way to the testing facility for… well… for nothing. Needless to say I was peeved. I tried my very best to be polite and understanding. I of all people know how frustrating getting treated like dirt for something you have no control over can be. I thanked them for their time and for doing what they could, and headed back to the parking lot. But once I reached my car all semblance of calmness left me. All I could do was make guttural growls and stomp around. I almost threw my phone, but thought better of it and threw my keys instead. I shook my fist, and felt like kicking something in or punching something out. I spoke with my mom on the phone and she tried to calm me and I hung up with her, and climbed into my car where I immediately broke down. I guess the stress of the exam finally caught up with me and I just had to vent it. So I cried and prayed. I just asked Christ what He was doing to me. What was I supposed to do next? What was He teaching me? Then I wiped my eyes and drove home.

The long drive gave me some extra time to vent I suppose. But I was incredibly disappointed that the drive out to the testing facility was basically for nothing and that this test… well, it’s still lurking out there. I still have to take it, and there’s still the possibility that I’ll fail miserably. My prayer when I climbed out of bed this morning was that I would be a light and a witness, no matter the outcome of my test. I never figured I’d miss out on taking the test entirely! I just hope I responded in a Godly way that was mature and glorifying.

I guess I get a couple more weeks to study for my test after all. I really just wanted it done and over with, but apparently God has other plans. Hopefully I'll be able to take it soon.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Airport...

The girl shivered as she sat on the carpeted floor. The floor of the airport was hard and uncomfortable and she was cold. She glanced around at the people who rushed past or came and sat in the rows of seats within arms’ distance of where she sat.
In her one hand the girl held tightly to a boarding pass and passport while her other hand was empty. Her clothing was thin and worn, giving her little warmth in the chilly airport. She turned her head and glanced out the window at the planes as they taxied up and down the runway in the dark. It was the middle of the night and the girl was tired, as well as hungry. She could barely keep her eyes open, despite her growling stomach. But she wouldn’t allow herself to fall asleep for fear of missing her flight. The girl was immensely lonely. Not a week ago her aunt had given her the ticket for the flight and now she shivered in an airport, waiting to take a trip to somewhere entirely new.
The girl’s aunt was quite poor, barely able to support herself, let alone her young niece. So she had saved, for years, a large enough amount to purchase a passport and plane ticket to send the girl to live with her grandparents in another country. It was a place foreign to the girl, but hopefully a better place for her to grow up, with more opportunity. As she sat on the airport floor now, though, the girl felt very alone and anxious.
A man rushed past to reach his flight’s gate. He was late to his boarding and worried that he might miss his departure entirely. It had been a pleasant vacation he had just recently enjoyed; a satisfying reprieve from work, but all too soon he’d be back to his old grindstone. As he hurried along, he spied the girl curled up on the floor. Her frightened and lonely face seemed to leap at him from the crowd of faces in the airport. The sight latched onto his brain, remaining there, unwavering, even as he hurried past and to his gate. His heart throbbed as the sight pricked him with pity. His legs stopped moving and he turned and looked back at her. She was alone. She looked cold and tired. She was probably hungry. He stepped towards her, approaching slowly. He stooped low.
“Are you flying alone?” he asked her.
She startled. Her mind was thrust from her faraway thoughts and back into the present. The girl glanced about, making sure the man was speaking to her, but his brown eyes were focused on her. She nodded and he smiled.
“You look cold,” he told her. He rose and glanced around quickly and said, “I’ll be right back.” Then he walked away briskly and headed for the nearest gift shop. He stepped inside and grabbed a bright-red sweatshirt, pausing only long enough to check the size on the tag. He smiled nervously at the woman behind the counter as he paid for the piece of apparel. Then he hurried back out of the shop, absentmindedly leaving the receipt behind. He flipped through his wallet and pulled out several large bills which he shoved into the sweatshirt’s large muff-pocket. Then he hurried back to where the girl was curled up.
“Here,” he said kindly, handing her the sweatshirt. “That ought to keep you a little warmer.”
The girl sat up and pulled the sweatshirt over her head. She slid her arms into the warm sleeves and hugged the warm fleece. She lifted her eyes and smiled at the man. “Thank you,” she breathed and he nodded. She wanted to ask him why he’d bought it for her. But he rose quickly.
“I need to catch my flight,” he told her, glancing at his watch and looking worried. “Have a nice flight, and good luck,” he told her before hurrying off towards his gate.

“Last call for flight 121,” the lady at the boarding ramp said into the loud-speaker. She scanned the crowds, hoping to catch a glance of someone hurrying to her gate. She spied a man making his way towards her in a mad flurry. As he approached the counter he thrust his ticket in her direction.
“I’m not too late for the boarding, am I?” he asked between gasps for air.
She smiled and scanned his ticket before handing it back to him. “Nope,” she said with a chuckle, “you’re just in time.”

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fourth of July Fireworks

Just some of my favorite shots from last night's firework show. And a closing shot of my customized tennies...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day 2013

Celebrate your independence and freedom.
Celebrate your history and beginnings.
Celebrate your America.
But never forget those who have kept,
are keeping,
and will continue to keep our country free.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The boom where the bass hits

Cheshire Cat rides wherever I go... from the top of my antenna.

I really do love my Suzuki. But she's never had any stereo functions worth writing home about. All up until recently anyway.

When I bought the car, the stereo didn't work. Sometimes it would randomly turn on, but for the most part it would just sit in my head-unit staring at me with it's LCD screen-panel blank. I have a thing for good music, so it was only a matter of time before I bought a nice stereo. Upon installation I found the problem with the old stereo was the poor wiring job one of the previous owners did. So with a much more professional wiring job, a new stereo was installed and I could then rock on.

Well... sort of. After installing the new stereo I discovered the bad condition the speakers were in. The rear two made a kind of bubbling, growling sound. The front two were alright, so long as you didn't turn the tunes up too loud. I just gritted my teeth and dealt with it though, because at least I had a stereo that worked.

But about a month ago I installed a new set of speakers in my car. The sound was instantaneously better. But that wasn't enough for me. While I was at it, I figured I might as well put a subwoofer and an amplifier in there too (I mean while I was spending money and in the mood I might as well!). But while sub' boxes always sound great - they take up a lot of space and I didn't want to surrender all my cargo-space to a monster speaker and its powering equipment. So, I started thinking about where I could install it all, and still have space to haul equipment and gear. I decided the best place would be the tailgate.
By mounting the whole kit on my tailgate, it meant everything would take a fraction of the space normally required. So after a lot of planning and considering, I finally got the whole deal figured out and installed. I'm really happy with how it all turned out. And quite pleased with the sound. The Sub' hits fairly hard!

The cords move freely to keep from pinching and I still have plenty of room.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Well, if you know me very well, or you've read much of this blog, you have at least a small idea of how much I adore J.R.R. Tolkien's books. They are continually an inspiration to me and my writing. More so, perhaps, than the work of any other author.

Another man was very inspired by the work of Tolkien and that man was Peter Jackson, the director of a trilogy of films based on Tolkien's Lord of the Rings stories. Jackson's recent film endeavor has been to create a trilogy of motion pictures based on Tolkien's literary work The Hobbit. Last December the first installment hit theaters with a flourish and fans flocked to their nearest cinema in order to catch a showing. (Or two...)

The next installment is to be released sometime later this year and only just recently a trailer was publicized highlighting a bit of what will be showcased in the upcoming film.

After watching the trailer, once again I find myself very excited for another Peter Jackson film release and the next installment of his latest motion-picture trilogy. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Sunset off California's Long Beach...

Yeah, I know I already mentioned the sunset in my last post... but I love them so much I wanted to post specially about it. Because, really, it was just so gorgeous.

Those palm trees add so much atmosphere... 

It was a lovely set, what with the perfect coloration and all. Hard to not see all that bundled beauty there. Back at home, I already miss that California sunshine.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Daft Scotsman hits the beach

Well, my clan surely does love to go on family vacations together. We don’t always get to take them each year, but this year after receiving a wedding invitation from some friends down in California, we decided to make a really big deal out of the whole ordeal and travel down to Cali as a family (Minus one…) for a week. It was an unforgettably fun time, with incredible experiences which are sure to be sweet memories for the rest of our lives.

I had to put in for the time off from work of course. And I’m really glad I took care of that some three months ago or so, because I don’t think I would have gotten it if I had submitted the paperwork any later. Work’s been kinda’ crazy and I’m a pretty well-loved employee, so it wouldn’t have been easy getting the time off on short or shorter notice. Nonetheless, I did get the thumbs-up to go, and I kind of counted down the days up ‘till my departure. My co-workers were all pretty bummed that I was going to be away for a week, but I was pretty excited. The day before I left, this song kept running through my head.

When Wednesday finally rolled around we bopped down to Sea-Tac much too early in the morning. The flight down to Burbank was actually pretty basic. I love flying, and jet liners can be tons of fun, but the Seattle to Burbank flight was just not all that eventful. Getting a family of nine with all our carry-on luggage and… whatnot… through airport security was all sorts of fun, though. You have to read that last sentence with a voice absolutely dripping with sarcasm. Because really, it was insanely stressful. Checking as much luggage as you can, before you even reach the security checkpoints, is the smartest way to travel. Perhaps not the cheapest, but for sure the smartest. Anyway – we all made it through security and reached our gate with plenty of time to spare, so we hit Starbucks to keep from hitting the floor. About the time our coffees were gone it was time to board the plane and off we flew to Bob Hope’s lively and tiny little airport in Burbank, California. Like I mentioned the flight was uneventful. No gremlins on the wings, no crash landing off the coast of a deserted island, and no bogies on the horizon. Smooth flight, smooth touchdown. And then it was the mad scurry to gather the crew into the rental van. We visited Grandma first, which was lovely. She took us for a walk around Glendale and took us for lunch at one of the coolest Mexican restaurants ever. The atmosphere was delightful, the food was incredible. It was a good time. We walked Grandma back to her house and then took off for the condo Mom and Pops had reserved for our week-long stay in Cali. It was situated in North Hollywood and turned out to be a charming enough little place. I’m not the kind to go about taking pictures of all the rooms, but it was cozy little den and suited us rather well.

Matty finds the switch for the ceiling fan...

It was a nice fan...

On Thursday it was off to Disneyland. I had never been, and neither had a one of my siblings, so we were all absolutely bloated with excitement. Pops made record time and we were there in something around an hour. (Really – that’s a pretty short drive for our family as we’ve grown accustomed to longer commutes.) We found a nice parking spot and were in the park not long after, with pops already feeling the burn in his wallet. Entrance cost to The Happiest Place on Earth is a little over astronomical. Basically put: getting in ain’t cheap, son. From there we kind of just meandered the park. Most of us were just shell-shocked with amazement as we staggered around. And I’ll tell you, the place oozes immense quantities of charm. The rides are adorable, the themes are fantastic, it was a lot for our poor, over-stimulated systems to handle. We rode on a lot of rides, stood in a lot of lines, ate a lot of sugar, absorbed a lot of sun, and absolutely over-dosed on amusement. People are always telling me that Disneyland is quite over-rated but I find myself more privy to believe it under-rated! I had so much fun!
Just... so... magical...

Bethy and me waitin' on the bathroom-goers...
We also spent a fair bit of time shopping around the park. Despite the honestly ridiculous price tags, a number of us were dead-set on bringing home wearable souvenirs to flaunt. The three eldest ended up purchasing sweatshirts (As well as a couple antenna toppers for me…) while the younger folk in our company chose toys and plushies. All items were priced as to leave the purchaser lame and blind by the time the transaction was complete. But while I continue to complain about the pricing of pretty much everything about Disneyland, I have to continue to reiterate the amount of sheer enjoyment I got out of the park. Because really – it was an incredibly fun way to spend an afternoon. Between the gorgeous weather and the over-powering charm around every turn, it was nothing but unforgettable buckets of joy. The best word to describe it all? Magical.

LEGO Hulk at the LEGO store just inside Disneyland...

Matty, Hannah, and Me in line for Space Mountain. (Our favorite!)
We spent most of Friday with the family of an old friend of Pops’. They were very gracious and generous hosts, and just really good people. All enjoyed themselves as we told funny stories and heard about Pops’ and his pals’ many crazy adventures from his Cali days. It was a good day which came to an end all too soon.

One of the primary reasons we even went on this hair-brained adventure was because our family had been invited to a wedding by some long-time friends of ours. It made for a little more difficulty in packing, as we had to be sure to bring appropriately fancy attire and all that implies, but we got it all figured out in the end. Saturday popped up right in the middle of our wonderful trip and that meant the wedding was upon us, so we headed off to the house of the same friends who invited us to wash and iron our wedding clothes and dress for the evening. They had their pool all ready for us when we arrived, so we all went for a quick dip. I enjoyed myself so much I entirely forgot how easily my white, sun-deprived man-flesh burns in direct sunlight and not until dressed and awkwardly making my way around the wedding did I realize just how well the sun had done its dirty work on my chest, back, and shoulders. After the happy evening came to a close and we’d made it back to our condo pad, I shrugged off my clothes to find my throbbing torso glowed red in the low-light. Needless to say, sleeping was far less comfortable from that point on. As were seatbelts, backpacks, and piggy-back rides. The wedding had been a pretty venue though. Catered by In-n-Out Burgers… And thus a very yummy venue as well.

Sunday morning was spent at Grace Community church. Somehow I expected it to be a bit bigger, from so many people telling me always how huge it was supposed to be. The services were packed with hundreds of people, but somehow it just didn’t feel as big as I had imagined. The service was nice enough though and spoken from the heart. After church we went out to Travel Town to check out the choo-choos and get some pictures. The place has changed since last I was there. Basically the entire park has been safe-a-fied as to keep younglings from injuring themselves and thus just about every train car or engine is off limits for all but observing from a distance. Also, nearly all of the miniature trains have been removed or something, because I remember there being a lot of them in all shapes and sizes, but I only saw three equally-sized tracks. Basically everything awesome about Travel Town is gone or changed. So now it’s just plain, old bore-o’town. The mini-trains for riding on were still there, though, and that was a fun aspect. Except for the fact that it’s supposedly free, yet they twist your arm for a donation of some kind. Jerks. Pops is way too generous. If it were me, I would have told them to go pound sand. After we filled up on disappointment we headed for the observatory from which one could see the iconic Hollywood sign. Upon arriving, though, we discovered that everyone and his mother decided that that very afternoon was an excellent time to steal our idea, and the road was lined with hundreds of cars. No parking. Bomb-out. Instead, we drove around with Mom and Pops as our tour guides filling us in on the significance of different buildings and places that had once been very, very familiar to them.

Hannah and I spied as many Mini Coopers as we could during our drives.

Monday was spent chilling at the condo. Grandma came for a visit and we chattered a bit. Then she said goodbye and we loaded into the van and headed out to our friends’ place (The same place where I received my awful Sunburn…) for supper and fun. It was an enchanting evening, really. Though I decided not to swim this time around and instead tried my best to burn my legs so that they’d match the most of me. (It didn’t work… my legs are tougher. They’re kilt legs…)

We spent Tuesday at Longbeach. Browsing the shops and sitting in the sand. It was a beautiful day, albeit a little breezy. I loved every minute of it though. We ate at a little taco joint which has the best fish-related Mexican food I’ve ever had. Our clan just about cleaned them out of chips and salsa though. Also – Hannah found a dead cockroach in her dish… which was an interesting ordeal. It was yummy food nonetheless!

Long beach...

From the pier...
Oil rigs are so cool...
Gorgeous Californian sunset...
Wind-blown hair and a sunburned face...

Almost gone...
Hannah is such a beach-girl...

The next morning meant packing up and heading to the airport. After fighting our way through the ticket-booths and security, we made it to our boarding gate. On the plane, though, finding our seats somehow got rather complicated and we ended up shuffling around a bit. Of course during our trip my Zune had to throw a little fit, which meant I had no music to listen to on the flight back to Seattle, which only forced me to pay attention to my book and burn through some seven or eight chapters. (That’s really good for me… I’m a slow reader.) Getting onto that plane was a really sad thing for me, though, in more ways than one.

I certainly was glad to get home to my friends. But I had made so many fond memories in Cali, I didn’t want to leave those places and times behind. I also had fallen in love with the gorgeous weather and was sorry to return home to rainy Washington state. I also have a sinking suspicion that this was probably the last family vacation we’d be taking together. Already Sarah had been absent so in a way it wasn’t truly a family vacation, but the rest of us had been together and had had so much fun. It was saddening to think this group probably wouldn’t be traveling together again anytime soon, if ever again.

It was an amazingly fun trip. And I’ll remember the times we had and the laughs that we shared for the rest of my life.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Me? I love parties. I don't really know what it is about them that attracts me, but I'm kind of a big party fan. And while "the more the merrier" is often my motto, it doesn't have to be a big, massive, crowded, body-mass where you can't hear yourself think (Let alone carry on a conversation with someone!). I'm cool with small-sized parties. And two person parties can often be incredibly fun. I'd like to think that wherever I go, I bring a bit of a party with me. Kind of like a party delivery service...

Anyway - semi-recently I came across this hilarious comic page by Anthony Clark. Many may find it not the least bit funny, but I found it humorous primarily because I relate with party cat on so many levels.

Anthony's other comic-strips are equally funny. Check out the whole real here. And party while you're at it. Man... it's been too long since my last party. Probably about time I fixed that.

On another note, my previous laptop's video card bit the dust. And while I realize that I don't really post often, hopefully thanks to a new laptop, I will be able to post more frequently. Cheers! And go throw a party!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Rantin' 'bout window cranks...

I'm a writer. And sometimes we writers only get contentment out of laying down a rant. Because while complaining is horribly unattractive, writing it out can be surprisingly satisfying.

I drive a 1996 Suzuki Sidekick. It's a lovely little car, really. And while she has her quirks, I still enjoy her quite a bit. But, she has one quirk which is quite irksome. Her front windows don't roll up straight, they lean a bit, and one has to slide the glass a bit and then crank the handle a bit, slide, crank, slide, crank... Ugh!

This can be challenging when driving, as customarily one drives with at least one hand on the steering wheel. Somewhere around four months ago I was driving to work, and needed to roll my window back up. Instead of stopping my car to fiddle with the window, I decided to thrash down on the crank and force the window up. It had worked previously a couple times, so why not try again?

Well, this behavior proved to be very naughty. I was rewarded by hearing a sharp crunching sound. Oh the joy! And the window crank was proven utterly useless. Well, useless at rolling the window up. But I thought maybe it had just gotten knocked out of alignment, so I rolled it all the way down in hopes that it would re-engage, and I'd be able to roll it back up. No dice, son.

So there I was, driving a near-hour drive to work, at two-o'clock in the morning, the entire way with my window rolled as far down as it could go. I turned up the heat, but it didn't really help any. Later that evening (While I was sleeping...) my dad pulled off the door paneling and got the window rolled back into place, so that I wouldn't have to worry about folk breaking in and stealing my stuff. My dad's awesome.

Fast forward a bit, I finally decided it was time I fixed that window. So I discovered that the 'regulator' was the part that was broken (Stripped out by the force I put into thrashing on that crank.) and that I could get one for about forty bucks on eBay. I made the order, the piece arrived, and it sat in my car's boot for the next two months. A couple sunny days inspired me to break out my elbow grease and get the darn thing fixed. Because I really like driving with my windows down when the weather's nice around these parts.

So. I pulled out the replacement part, collected my tools, turned a radio on really loud, and got to work. An hour later, I had gutted the door, removed the old regulator, and was scratching my head and wondering why the sodding replacement part wouldn't fit. Was it the wrong part? It was the wrong part, wasn't it! Ah - man!

The guy I bought the part from clearly stated 'No Returns or Exchanges' and my buyer protection through eBay was only with 45 days... so I was stuck with the part. The part I couldn't use. Dang. Sidekicks come in two versions. Two door soft-tops, and four door hard ones. I think this part is for the two door version, where-is, mine's the four door one.

So... I called up a salvage yard that supposedly specialized in Suzuki automobiles, waited on hold for ten minutes, asked if they had the regulator I needed, and they said they could have it in a couple days. Really - I wanted then and there, but what could I do? So I made the order. The hundred and eight dollar order. At the end of the week I still didn't have the part, nor had I received a call about my order, so I called to find out if they had it. The guy on the phone accused me of not being patient so I kinda' just hung up and pouted. I'm impatient, huh? You had me on hold for ten minutes before even asking what I needed, and you accuse me of being impatient? Bugger you!

So yesterday I drove out to the yard, told the guy he was rude, and had him check up on my regulator order. He had my hundred bucks, and I'd driven forty-five minutes out to his yard, he'd better give me some sodding service! He ended up being pretty good about it, even taking me out into the yard to go through doors. But to no avail. They didn't have my part, and the folks they had ordered through hadn't even shipped it at that point. So I politely requested my money back and headed back home.

And now here I am. My only bet is ordering the regulator online, because no-one within an affordable driving distance has one they could sell me. The best deal I can find is about eighty bucks. Which, quite frankly, sucks. I can buy two automatic, power window regulators for that much! So I'm wondering if it isn't more worth my time and money to just switch out my locks and windows to automatic ones. But what a project that would be! Ugh... Five months ago I never even knew what a window regulator was. Now I feel like I wish I never had had to learn! Bah!

So... if you're looking for a window regulator for your 96 Suzuki Sidekick, I have one I can sell to you for eighty bucks. Oh! And it won't even work! What about that? Sound like a deal? Yeah. I thought so too. Alright. I'm done ranting.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Not to be even the least bit confused with chain-mail which I consider pretty ridiculous. Just sayin'...

Those of you who don't know, chainmail was a thin, flexible armor worn by soldiers in the medieval periods. It was woven from chains of rings, hence the both clever and witty name. Chainmail was less expensive and easier to make than plated armor, so it was far more widely worn by military personnel. It also helped in filling gaps between the plates of armor suites. Basically, chainmail was your go-to-guy when you climbed from your straw mattress and scratched your head about what to wear to the impending battle that awaited you later that day.

Some folk go all 'olde' by spelling it with an extra 'L' and 'E' tacked at the end, and good on them for it. Wonderful show, and what not. But it doesn't really matter, and barely anybody knows what you're talking about in that case.

But what's the use of all this idle rambling? Well... when's there ever a use for it? The point (Because yes, despite what you may be thinking at this point, there really is a point to all this.) is I've been meaning to weave myself some chainmail for several years now, but kept being distracted and never really looked into it. But semi-recently I sat down and did myself a bit of research. Turns out, it's really not that difficult to make a bit of the stuff. And I picked it up pretty swiftly. So for those interested. I'll give you an idea of the process I use to make chainmail. Most of the tools and things that I use I bought at the Ace Hardware store where I work. Also - because I'm an employee there, I have a pretty out of sight discount which is incredibly handy when I have DIY projects like this one.


First, I built this little rig. It's made of an old two-by-four I found and a steel rod I purchased at Ace. The rod is 3/8ths of an inch in diameter and something close to a yard long. A shorter rod may have been more manageable, but it works well enough.

A drilled a hole big enough to slide my twelve-gauge wire through into the rod. Easy enough, actually, despite the rounded surface of the rod.

Before inserting the wire, I tighten a cordless drill onto the end of the rod. Then I slide a length of wire through the hole. Back in the middle ages, folks didn't have power tools. But I think the smithies of old will forgive me this shortcut. (It's not the first, and I doubt it'll be the last.)

Then I run the drill on a slow speed, collecting the wire on the rod. Pictured is only a small length. Usually I run wire 'round the length of the rod, so as to get as much rolled in one go as possible. Because really, in my opinion, this is all the most boring part of the job. I wear a nice pear of leather gloves while winding the wire, so as to keep from losing any fingers.

Once wrapped, the wire needs be cut on both ends. I try to preserve as much wire as I can, so I usually cut pretty close to my coils.

The result is a coil that very much resembles a long spring. Oh - what fun! I've never actually played around with these much, though, because I don't want to bend my wire. Getting it wrapped so close down the length of the rod is a task in and of itself, and I'm opposed to fooling around and ruining what I just put amounts of effort into.

Gawsh - it's cold out in that garage! Back in the warm house, I break out my bolt-cutters (The ones I got at Ace...) and clip away at the spring-like-thingy. I wear gloves for this job too, because they provide my palms with cushion. Because clipping twelve-gauge steel wire is tough work, son.

When finished, one has a pile of rings, all with an interior diameter the same as their steel rod. In my case, that's 3/8ths of an inch. The pile in the image is only an illustration. I get a lot more rings out of my springs than that. I think the pictured spring gave me something close to two-hundred rings.

Now the fun part begins, yo! The weave I've been using is the four-in-one weave. Basically, every four rings are attached by one central ring. In the picture, the five rings on the left make up the 'four-in-one' on the right.

It just makes sense to me, to make four four-in-ones and then weave those together.

The pattern continues. One ring for every four. Two four-in-ones make up the length on the right.

And again, one ring for every four. I use a pair of pliers per-hand to twist the steel rings into shape. (One which my dad gave me about a lifetime ago and one I bought at Ace Hardware.) On small bits like this, it's not difficult at all. But when working on larger lengths, the steel will start to get heavy.

 The bit on the left is four four-in-ones woven together. The one on the right is, you guessed it, four of those woven together. (So... then that's... four four four-in-ones?)

The length on the left in this illustration is the four four four-in-one pictured in the last photo. And the length on the right is only two of those. For as much fun as I find this to be, it's really tedious and made much easier by listening to a totally rad' playlist all the while. Which I do. I haven't finished weaving anything wearable yet, but I'm working on it. Hopefully I'll have my coife (Headpiece like a hood, usually worn under a helmet.) worked out and finished soon. Chainmail is awful fun to fiddle with, too. I know that probably sounds really random, but just fashion a small length and you'll be unable to put it down. It just begs to be swished around and shaken and dropped and... well, and worn. But I'm getting there!