Thoughts From The Gameroom

The ramblings of a Euro-gamer from South Dakota

Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Walnut trees get holistic healing and I learn something cool

Posted by sodaklady on July 17, 2013

It all starts with the 2 walnut trees we have in our yard. They are each about 30 feet tall and give wonderful shade. But they have also been a nuisance for one reason or another every season of the year except winter. This spring they started misting sap from the leaves. On father’s day, as we sat outside with our 2 grown children, you could see it in the sunlight like a fine rain. Everything underneath it was sticky: the grass, the patio, the patio furniture, the honeysuckle plants.

Walnut tree

Last Friday, I was having a crumby day and it was suddenly made worse when I noticed the back porch, the patio and the patio furniture covered in little six-legged bugs. I texted a picture to my husband and both my son and daughter, hoping someone would have a clue, or that they could find someone else who had a clue. Nothing useful.

The post at the top of the steps was covered in happy little crawlie things.

The post at the top of the steps was covered in happy little crawlie things, constantly on the move.

As would any good technophile today, I headed online looking for 6-legged, black and orange/red bugs and found nothing even close. This is how I found myself spending the afternoon with broom in hand, sweeping into mush as many crawlies as I could. When Richard came home he called one of the local firms that handle yard care even though hundreds of dollars to spray our trees was not in the budget. There was no one available who could help until the next day. Of course.

Just before bed, I gave it one more shot online and looked for pictures of beetles since they have six legs, and eureka!  The good news is that they are ladybird (also know to some of us as ladybugs)larvae; the bad news is I spend the afternoon turning a couple hundred of them into smears because these are the good guys; the cavalry come to the rescue in the nick of time.

Here's several ladybugs as they begin emerging from their larval stage. The tiny white dots are the aphids, their prey.

Here’s several ladybugs as they begin emerging from their pupal stage. The tiny white dots are the aphids, their prey.

So instead of trying to kill them, I’ve been watching their development. And impressing my daughter when she came by with the schoolroom right in our backyard.

I think these are the larvae of another variety of ladybug that is yellow rather than red.

I think these are the larvae of another variety of ladybug that is yellow rather than red.

I also found that the ladybug larvae will have backup soon in the form of lacewings. I found the eggs hanging from the underside of the leaves. If not for the article I found, I would have assumed they were a bad thing.

Lacewing eggs. Would you think this was a good thing if you saw it in your tree?

Lacewing eggs. Would you think this was a good thing if you saw it in your tree?

And for my patience, a ladybug landed on my hand. I managed a quick shot just as it was taking off.

Ladybug taking off

I don’t have the skill to take amazingly good photos but if you’re interested in this subject, I recommend Back Yard Biology where I found the first picture of my creepy-crawlies, and  the Wikipedia entry for Coccinellidae.

And as a final thought, or lesson, I’m so glad that we didn’t buy some chemicals and start spraying willy-nilly, killing off mother nature’s pesticide with the man-made kind. I much prefer the natural cure for what ailed our trees.


Posted in Nature, Personal | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

A Personal Post–Not IBS, FM

Posted by sodaklady on February 1, 2013

It seems that every other person now, from youngest to oldest, has a problem of some sort with some food product. Allergies, Lactose intolerance, Celiac disease. I want to share my story of another, less well-known problem in hopes of saving someone else from the many years of pain and embarrassment that I’ve had. After 30 years of trying to figure out what was the problem with my digestive system, I finally have an answer–Fructose Malabsorption.

My problems began almost as soon as I became pregnant the last time, a change in my all-so-regular bathroom schedule. It wasn’t much at first, an extra trip to the bathroom shortly after my usual daily bowel movement. By the time I was 5 months pregnant, I was usually running to the bathroom several times every morning–and I do mean running. I hoped that after having the baby I would get back to normal.

Instead of normalcy, I developed a new symptom which eventually was discovered to be gallstones. O.k., I thought, I have the gallbladder removed and everything will be fine again.


Nothing has been fine in that department for all these years. For me, the lack of a gallbladder can make greasy foods trigger a bout of diarrhea, but I could deal with watching my intake of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Unfortunately, careful monitoring of greasy foods did not make the problem go away.

I tried watching the milk products, thinking I was lactose intolerant but that wasn’t it. I tried pointing my finger at various other things but nothing seemed to make a difference.

I eventually developed another symptom: painful cramping which can last for hours and totally wear me out. On a really bad day the cramping can trigger nausea and I absolutely hate throwing up while sitting on the toilet!  For want of a better label, I call my problem IBS: Irate Bowel Syndrome.

Last November, after several good days, I had a really bad one but I had eaten almost the same things. Once again, I turned to the internet looking for an answer–this time salt is on my hit list. The search led me not to an article about salt and IBS but two separate articles, one about salt and high blood pressure and one about fructose malabsorption and IBS. I started reading and nodding my head, yep, yep, yep. That sounds so familiar! And I had had something with honey in it the day before. Only soda (can you say high fructose corn syrup?) and applesauce have more fructose than honey.

So here’s the deal. Fructose gets to the small intestine where it is picked up by transporters, the mini-vans of your digestive system. If there aren’t enough transporters for the amount of fructose, this unabsorbed amount then travels to the large intestine–probably in the back of a pickup truck–where it causes many kinds of trouble. It creates an osmotic load and is fermented by the good bacteria in the large intestine. In other words, it pulls in moisture which causes diarrhea, and the fermenting causes gas, bloating and pain. It would seem I’m a little short on mini-vans.

Now I’m trying to get a feel for what I can eat, how much fruit can I tolerate before the pickup trucks start loading up. Sugar is no problem as it is sucrose, one molecule of fructose and one of glucose. When these two travel together, they’re more easily absorbed.

Two small slices of canned peaches did me in the next day. A lovely, tasty balsamic vinegar-brown sugar reduction I made also did not go over well. Ice cream with candy pieces has enough HFCS in the candy pieces to kick it over the edge.

The biggest offenders aren’t fruit but the liquid sweeteners:  high fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses, agave. Look in your cupboards, check the ingredients on the pre-packaged food. It’s amazing how many items have one of these sweeteners, even stuff you wouldn’t think of like some peanut butters. Smucker’s makes their jams with HFCS and corn syrup instead of sugar so I have to stick to my homemade jams and apple butter but how much? A couple of teaspoons has been as much as I’ve used and so far so good.

It’s a work in progress and I still have bad days as I experiment, but I have almost no really bad days. I miss some things like apple with peanut butter–half an apple one afternoon came back to kick my butt the next day. And I need to learn to eat some vegetables that I have resisted in order to replace the vitamins and minerals I’m not getting from fruit.

This hasn’t been an easy post to write but if I can help one person discover what is causing their distress and save them years of pain, then it’s been worth it. There’s quite a bit of info online about Fructose Malabsorption, but you first have to know to look for it.  Now you know, assuming you’ve read this far.  😉

Posted in Personal | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

Teach Your Children Well

Posted by sodaklady on December 26, 2012

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday with their loved ones. We spent time with our son and his girlfriend, and our daughter. We had lots of fun and laughs but, as happens on the rare occasion when we all get together, we also discussed serious topics. This year we inevitably turned to the Newtown, Connecticut shooting.

The discussion was mainly focused on the NRA, schools, and generally what could be done to prevent this from happening. I think the answer is not to look at how to prevent such horrors, but to ask what causes someone to do such an unthinkable thing? What is it in our society that promotes this kind of thinking?

I grew up in the 60’s. That’s not so terribly long ago and yet it’s an eternity when you look at the giant differences. We would never think of talking back to an adult unless you were looking to get a slap in the mouth for your trouble; we behaved in public or could look forward to a whack on the butt; we knew that an A on our report card meant we earned it and an F meant we were in trouble; we might play “cowboys and Indians” with toy guns but we also knew that when our beloved pet died, it was forever. In short: we learned there were consequences to our actions, for good or ill.

We raised our children the same way, teaching them that their actions would have consequences for them. In the late 80’s when they were about about 4 and 8 we took them to Mt. Rushmore with another couple who had four small children. While we were sitting in the cafeteria someone came up to us and complimented us on how well-behaved our children were.  What a feeling, to hear that the little people that will someday be the ones in charge of the world are worthy of praise from a complete stranger.

Somewhere along the line we’ve become so concerned about child abuse that we’ve taken it to an extreme, disallowing parents to show these impressionable creatures that being bad is not allowed. We had a man and his wife over one time, the man to help my husband put up walls in our unfinished basement, the woman and their son to socialize. The boy was about 2-3 years old and whenever he would misbehave, his mother would say, “I’m going to tell your father”, “I’m going to get your father up here”. Not my style of parenting at all but I let it pass. Until. The boy mouthed off to his mother and pointed his tiny index finger at her. I reached out and took that hand and calmly told him that we didn’t do that here; that he should show his mother respect. He was shocked, I think, that someone would actually show him there was a limit to his bad behavior and he was a good boy for the rest of their stay (which was their last, thank goodness). Was I wrong? My house, my rules.

I’m not saying everyone should beat their misbehaving children–I never used a belt or switch on my kids, maybe because that’s what I grew up with–and a “time out” works for many kids. But we need to set boundaries and make sure they’re followed or there will be consequences.

Children should once again know that they earned good grades rather than being given a gold star for everything so they don’t feel inferior to some of their peers. Children should have specific chores to do around the house so they learn responsibility. Even at 3 years old, my kids had to pick up their toys; that’s not too much to ask, is it? We love our children and want them to love us back, but we must also be aware that what they learn as children will carry over into adulthood.

Is this the answer? I don’t know. Maybe we’ll never know what goes through the mind of someone who takes a weapon into a public place and shoots everyone in their sight. Maybe the answer is something as basic to human nature as having a pet as a child, something to love and who shows you its love everyday no matter what. Wouldn’t that be nice?


Posted in Non-gaming, Personal | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

A Quick Look At 2011

Posted by sodaklady on January 1, 2012

I’m not going to do a traditional post listing every game I played this year; I think that’s boring to write so it’s probably boring to read as well. But there are a few things of note that I wanted to mention.

As far as board gaming goes, this has been a stellar year for me. In the middle of June our group of three expanded to four with the addition of Dave. And a great addition he is:  funny, smart, a gracious winner as well as a good loser, and willing to give anything a try.

Richard and I discovered the crayon rail games this year and logged an amazing 53 plays of Martian Rails. In fact it was the final game of the year, played on New Year’s eve as we waited for the year to close. We also played Eurorails 22 times. That’s a lot of crayon rails!

Two other games that got more than the usual number of plays was Defenders of the Realm and Power Grid, both with 11 plays. Defenders of the Realm was played mostly 2-player, while Power Grid has become one of the group’s favorites. Along with Ra: The Dice Game, it will never be turned down.

Cori's Wedding

A bring-your-own-umbrella wedding in the back yard.

On the personal side of the year, our daughter, Cori, got married in a lovely steampunk ceremony in the back yard, in the rain. It was the highlight of the year and will be remembered by everyone in attendance as one of the best weddings ever.

The less wonderful part of life also visited us this year; we lost my mother in July, one of our cats in September, and our Corgi in November. Those were probably the worst six months I can remember in a long, long time.

And so… a new year begins and I wish all my readers a new year filled with hope and love and laughter. And may this year be better than the last.

Posted in board games, Personal | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

May Day Blizzard

Posted by sodaklady on May 3, 2008

April showers bring May…blizzards!?! Yeah, in the Black Hills that can happen. We woke on May 2nd to every window in the house being coated in snow and some with a thin coat of ice underneath. My husband opened the side window on our bow to scrape off a peep hole for us to watch the weather.

View through bow winder

We also had no electricity from roughly 3 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Not really a big deal since we have a wood burning stove as an alternate heat source and a camp stove to make instant coffee. The rough part is that our housing development has it’s own well and pump house so without electricity we also are without water. That sucks. My appreciation and respect goes out to those who go out into such horrible weather to get the electricity back on as soon as possible.

About noon the snow let up but the wind continued. Cori and I took our cameras outside to document the shapes since it was already starting to melt! Truly, it no sooner stopped snowing than it warmed up a couple of degrees and started to melt.

Path from back doorWe took quite a lot of pictures but here’s a couple that really show how nicely the snow drifted.

This is the narrow path from our back porch, around the garage to the wood shop/Cori’s loft area. The lumps on the left are 2 chairs and a short table; on the right is a glider swing and the gas grill. The door to the garage is just outside of view before you get to the swing so this is our main door and had to be kept shoveled. Unfortunately, it’s also the side of the house that gets the biggest drifts. And Mother Nature laughs.

Drift along the windbreak treeline

This drift was our new view out of the bow window. The three rows of trees that were planted as a windbreak did their job well. A couple hours of “warm” air left the overhang drooping.

Tucker on the porchHere’s our Corgi, Tucker, also checking out the aftermath of the blizzard. He’s cute as heck so I thought I’d add him, too. The snow piled next to the landing is about 3 feet high and is the result of shoveling off the steps during the storm.

Today is beautiful and sunny. Richard and I started it out with shoveling off all of the walks and patio so we wouldn’t have a lake later today.

Now I’m looking forward to Cori’s friends coming over again to play with the zombies some more. Yes, they’re definitely hooked!


Cori decided to create in snow this morning when she got up.  She started with a 4 foot high pile of snow at the end of the driveway and created the Wicked Witch of the West, “melting, melting”.  I was very impressed when I went out to see it.

Wicked Witch of the West, meltingShe had some trouble since the snow was melting so fast.  The witch’s right arm was originally up to her face but fell off and had to be re-attached in a more stable position.

Is this cool or what?

Posted in Personal | Tagged: | 7 Comments »