Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Summertime Distractions

In our leisure we reveal what kind of people we are.”


We even
did the local
Academic summer is wrapping up for our family. My son starts school on Aug. 10 so they can run Standards of Learning tests for half-year courses before the yuletide holidays, when apparently kids these days void all the recently acquired scholastic knowledge from their brains. As a dad summer is a double-edged sword: on one hand, I get to spend time with my family on day trips and vacations; on the other, I’m distracted by everyone’s constant demands along with yardwork (a seemingly Sisyphean task). So I’m looking forward to easing back into the school-year routine and returning to projects, tapping some of the energy we found on numerous day trips and pleasant diversions that inspired our interests in history, media, and games.

We made the most of our summer, even given our continuing precautions in the covid pandemic. We wore masks according to CDC guidelines and we bailed on at least one activity because the covid levels were in the high zone. Still, we managed to enjoy many (though not all) of the more public activities in which we typically engaged in the “Before Times.” My son and I took weekly day trips to various old haunts to break up our leisurely summer pace. Two trips to the regional used bookstore allowed us to turn in unwanted books, games, and DVDs for credit to buy books, games, and DVDs we wanted. (I’m particularly happy with the used copy of Memoir ’44 I found so I have both an extra set and one I can use for a massive Overlord game.) We made a trek to Fredericksburg to buy new sneakers for school and swing by the local game store, Your Hobby Place. We visited several museums and historical sites, finding inspiration for further reading and, of course, games. We’d visited the National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center many times before, but not since the pandemic began; we enjoy seeing familiar aircraft and discovering new ones (many on display from the main museum in downtown Washington, DC, as it remains closed for renovations). Even though we’ve been to the National Museum of the Marine Corps several times, too, we always discover something new among the immersive exhibits (and it always reminds me to work on my skirmish rules for kids to run a Belleau Wood game).

The week before school started we took a mini-vacation to Williamsburg, VA, staying a few nights to enjoy some of our favorite sites. We visited the Mariners’ Museum in nearby Newport News, walking the deck of the replica USS Monitor, examining artifacts recovered from its submerged wreck, and marveling at the detailed collection of ship models. It got me excited for running an ironclads game with Bob Cordery’s Gridded Naval Wargames at an upcoming convention in October. We spent two hot, sticky days wandering Colonial Williamsburg, including finally taking one of the fantastic ghost tours, talking with the military interpreters about British light infantry, learning more about the experience of enslaved people, and hearing about the dynamic between colonists and Native Americans. A visit always gets me in the mood for French and Indian War and American War of Independence wargaming (and I’ve been wanting to field the Battle of Monongahela in 54mm for a while...).

Alas, playing analog games as a family has taken a back seat constant yardwork and my son playing Roblox 24/7 – something I should expect with a tween – though at least he’s engaged and interacting, even if it is in a tiny, creative electronic world. We did manage to try out a few games, including Love Letter: Jabba’s Palace, OGRE: Objective 218, and Shobuan interesting abstract game we found at a store we drop in on during our travels; my son and I are tied in our record of wins. Our Friday family movie nights, however, remain seemingly inviolable. Between films we own on DVD and those we can watch on streaming services we had plenty to entertain us every week in our ad hoc basement home theater. We indulged in series like Moon Knight, Kenobi, and Ms. Marvel; Disney Plus has been (and will continue to be) a staple in our household since the pandemic began, catering to several of our media fandoms.

Now we return in the heat of summer to our school-year routine, which gives me some time each day for writing, game design, and other related pursuits while juggling household obligations. Waiting in line to pick my son up from school afternoons gives me time to catch up on reading. Establishing the academic routine offers another opportunity to re-establish traditions like family game night Thursdays. Weekends become less an extension of the chaotic summertime weekday chaos and more specific time to set aside my pursuits and relax with family activities. Goodness knows I have piles of projects waiting for my attention, long-overdue work maintaining my online presence and Griffon Publishing Studio titles, occasional posts for Hobby Games Recce, and some strategic objectives to work toward.

It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.”

Thomas Aquinas

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