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In the next few weeks my name is going to be a bit more high profile at work. I shall of course greet this with my usual bemusement, but also some degree of pride. The pun isn’t intended for the first of the reasons – I’m featuring in a couple of videos talking about staff networks, and especially the LGBTQ+ Staff Network.

It’s part of a wider week focusing on and advertising the networks, and should be going live in a couple of week’s time. Filming it was a bit of fun – and while it’s mostly aimed for an internal audience, there are plans for an externally facing campaign as well.

The other thing is for a piece of writing I was invited to do around mental health and my experience working through and being supported in recent years. I approached it with my usual flat affect and detailed approach so have been going back and forth with various people to agree on trigger warnings and signposting for readers to support materials.

Someone has even called me brave, which is a bit flattering, maybe. There’s some complex processing I probably need to do there, but I’ll deal with that if I need to.

So, fun and games all round…

Day Off

I’m working this weekend, so I took advantage of a lull in planned meetings and events to claw a day back, have a lie in, and then catch up with Lady T for coffee, chips, and putting the world to rights while sat by the river.

We’ve not caught up too much this year due to several bouts of illness, so a gentle afternoon felt very overdue. As part of our respective rock and roll lifestyles we talked about kids, partners, mental health, fairy tales, and all the gossip about people the other person doesn’t know and is unlikely to ever meet.

Not a bad break to the routine. Tomorrow I’m back to the usual meetings, shenanigans, and quiet plotting of the day job…

Keeping Positive

At last, it’s the weekend. For some reason my sense of what day it is has been a bit out of whack the last few days, so it was nice to consider a lie in this morning. Grocery shopping and a trip into town with Lady M were a good alternative.

I took the opportunity to try the car’s fully electric mode today for the drive as well. I’ve mostly been driving in various configurations of hybrid modes, but this seemed as good an opportunity as any to try some new ones. I’m happy to report a smooth ride.

And then my mood crashed this afternoon for no greatly discernible reason – because of course it would. So I’m back to actively reminding myself of perspectives and keeping as level as possible. Yay.

Here’s to some sleep.

NPCs – The Eladrin

I got a bit sidetracked making the Winter Eladrin assassin for last week’s game and enjoyed reading about how these elves physically and supernaturally change as their emotions ebb and flow – changing them into one of four distinct types each time they rest. These overwhelming emotions correspond to seasons:

Spring eladrin are flighty and happy, positive and lighthearted. The Summer eladrin is brave and powerful, bringing confidence and righteousness. The Autumn eladrin are kindly and full of good will, while the Winter eladrin are mournful and morose.

So I may have had some fun in Heroforge to make some tokens up for future adventures as the faerie realms and the nature of stories weaves into the regular game. They seem to be a useful piece of the storytelling puzzle that change their appearance and nature as much as you might expect of creatures of such an inconstant realm…

Writing and Reinvigoration

The recent leaps in writing lore backgrounds for the regular D&D group has reignited my interest in telling stories in other media, so I went digging in my emails yesterday evening for the serial number for my Scrivener installation. I had to do a rebuild of my laptop a month or so back, and just hadn’t got round to putting it back on. Various conversations I’ve had over the last few weeks around writing kept pivoting back to Scrivener as a useful tool, so I decided to take the hint. It also helped that someone in the D&D community has put together a template and tools for Scrivener for creating adventures. The link therefore came full circle – or something like that.

The first thing I did? I opened up my novel, took one look at how complicated the first paragraph was and spent ten minutes reordering the first two thousand words. My next priority when I get home will be to roughly plot out the missing bits between where I got to and the endgame scene roughed out and start plugging away at it.

A gentle push in this direction also came from a chance conversation with one of our weekend staff which veered into writing and groups in the libraries – and the enthusiasm by this person for writing and creativity just clicked a lightbulb in my skull. Time will tell what comes of it – but apparently the sum total of writing in this blog comes to about twenty five thousand words – or about half a nanowrimo. Perhaps that’s something I should gear up to try this year properly for the first time in well over a decade.

Anyway – one more thing for my hyperactive grasshopper brain to bounce around..!

Resuming Normal Service

What a long and wonderful weekend, despite the worries and anxieties – and that was just the cub. We had a grand get-together to celebrate my parents’ birthdays. Food and drink were plentiful, hotels were comfortable, and the train strike was cancelled in time for the Charleesi to make an appearance too.

Various chat channels are now filled with a variety of candid and staged photographs, and the roads back yesterday were considerably better than they were on Friday evening. This meant there was actually some daylight when we got home – though tiredness meant that not a lot of it was seen or made use of. I took today off to recover anyway, just like the last time we wandered up there, and I’m glad I did. Next week is in theory shorter, given that Easter is happening, but I’m working the Saturday and will no doubt have a lot to fit in.

That’s not a doom and gloom prediction, just a knowledge of how much is going on – and appreciating I also have a number of catch-up meetings booked with my staff.

The author on the right, and the boy on the left - both cropped hair and in suits. The author is grinning, the boy is pulling a face

The boy and I even looked an approximation of human – it was his first time wearing a suit and going to an event and for all the face-pulling he enjoyed it.

Today has been quiet therefore – with grocery shopping, games on the xbox, map making, reading, and general chatting with people on the agenda. Here’s to a reasonable and productive week to come

Day on the Road

We’ve headed out for a celebration today – and that meant an afternoon on the road among roadworks and the usual Friday afternoon traffic shenanigans. We would have been off sooner, but the cub decided that he would rather play in the local park with his friends than come straight home and jump in a car. I can’t say I entirely blame him – he’s very nervous about meeting a lot of people in my family for the first time.

Still, we kept busy with the perennial favourite of ‘I Spy’ – with no more than the usual assortment of swear words, and with a game where we made up words from the letters in the registration of vehicles ahead of us. The latter game got quite tricky as we got into a traffic jam and the seemingly impossible task for people of knowing how to merge lanes.

All is well and good though – we’ve travelled and arrived, and are settled in our rooms. Tomorrow will bring jollity and probably some last-minute shopping as the cub has had a growth spurt.

And just as an end of day wind down, here’s a set of tokens and portrait for a charging minotaur done in Heroforge (of course):

Plans and Catch-Ups

Its been, dare I say, a fairly productive morning, and hopefully that will continue and I haven’t jinxed it. I’ve been in discussions around setting up a dyslexia awareness talk in mid-July at one of my libraries with the aim of providing support and signposting for families where there is a new diagnosis or the thought that there might be need to investigate. We’re aiming it then to try and tie in with end-of-year school reports when this might be part of some families’ conversations.

I’ve also had a catch up with our corporate sponsor for the LGBTQ+ Staff Network to talk about recent initiatives and how we can look to drum up engagement across the organisation, as well as encourage people within the network to take part in contributing to events and initiatives. It was a good gathering of minds and marked as ever by lightness to balance the serious elements. It’s always nice to hear that people look forward to our meetings because of the smiles.

Just one more meeting to go – a catch up with the managers in my group to compare notes, pass on information and let off steam. We might even have a look at the rotas.

Non-work related, I was also out last night for a rare evening excursion while everyone else was busy – catching up with Lady G and putting the world to rights in a quiet pub corner while ignoring sports coverage on big screens nearby. I had forgotten how nice it is sometimes to just step out for a couple of hours as a break. It was also two for one on burgers so it was a cheap night which is always a bonus.

Right, lunch finished, back to the grindstone

Slow Starts

It took one of my members of staff mentioning it this morning for me to realise that the clocks going forward for summer had thrown my internal bodyclock out. I’m so used to waking with daylight at a given time that the hour’s shift has been very noticeable. I’m pretty sure that’s why I’m feeling woolly-headed and out of sorts today.

Well – it could be another head cold trying to get started, admittedly, but that’s usually not something that makes me yawn and rub my eyes. As tempting as it was to stay in bed, I’ve done the adult thing and got myself to work instead. I’ve picked one of my smaller libraries with staff parking (a rarity), and ensconced myself in the back room to prepare for a meeting and pick off quick-win tasks. Out front there’s been a school visit and the sound of children being children has been a quiet backdrop to the morning.

It’s quietly productive times like this that are easy to overlook when thinking about job satisfaction. I don’t work in an office environment so don’t have the quiet bustle of being around other people. Sometimes that makes the day go quickly, and sometimes it can be unhelpful. I’m very much aware that I have a short week this week as I’ll be travelling for a family event during it, so I’m focused on setting things going that I can come back to, and on tying off loose ends.

With that said, I don’t think its particularly different to many other people’s working week where their work environment isn’t directly involved with frontline customer service. I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this – perhaps just a gentle acknowledgement that sometimes its okay to just let the day tick by, appreciating when things are generally proceeding with only the occasional nudge here and there. It makes a gentle contrast to when everything needs to happen in a hurry or change direction rapidly in response to an external factor.

Here’s to quiet days in the office

Deck of Worlds Arrived

At long last, and mostly down to disruption to services due to strikes around the Christmas and New Year period, I have got my hands on the Deck of Worlds. Its the result of a Kickstarter I backed last year by the same team who created the The Story Deck. Both of these boxes of prompt cards are now sitting very proudly on my bookshelf and will be getting some use over the weekend.

The entire concept is that there are different cards for types of location, something significant there, an adjective or property that can be applied to either, a peculiarity of the region, and something that is happening there. These can be shuffled and interpreted in all sorts of ways – and in particular I think they’ll be useful for world building in my games.

As an experiment I ran through the cards and came up with a combination that I turned into the following description:

In a windswept forest lies the ruins of a forge and workshop that legend declares to have once been the home of unknown gods. When the wind whips round and the moon is bright, the sound of roaring flames still lingers here. Animal life that comes close to the ruins seem to become confused while near, but soon recover when they leave.

I then fired up Dungeon Alchemy and created the image in this blog post – showing a clearing in a hilly forest. Within it lies the ancient forge, bits of fallen masonry, an abandoned temple building behind it, a well and an overgrown path leading away into the forest. I’ll post the finished map when I’ve added a few more trees and bushes along with some ideas for encounters. I might even use a version of it in one of the D&D games I’m currently running as it has turned out rather well I think.