April Updates

Life was a whirlwind in April with spring break, the long-awaited start of in-person school for Griffin and Maggie, three birthdays (plus Piper’s), a cabin visit, and much that I’m forgetting. Lacking the time to write everything up in detail, here’s a selection of photos to remind us of these many events.

Bonus! Two videos.

Oliver practicing on his balance bike.

Piper leaping into the very cold lake.

Oliver’s Dungeon

In the late 1970s and early ’80s, maps for Dungeons and Dragons adventures were often printed in blue ink, ostensibly to prevent easy photocopying. (Photocopier technology has evolved since then.) A cartographer that I follow on social media, Tim Hartin, sometimes produces “old school blue” maps, hearkening back to the early days of the hobby.

I follow a thread where Tim posts a free map every week. It’s called Turgenev’s Friday Freebie Maps. I’ve been following it for years, enjoying his retro map style. (Tim Hartin, incidentally, is a big name in the industry, often producing maps for D&D adventures, such as CandleKeep Mysteries, published this past March.) A few months ago, Oliver saw me looking at one of these maps on my phone. He asked me about it, so I started explaining the symbols and whatnot. We got in the habit of looking at one or more of these maps every night as part of our bedtime ritual. We would read a book and then look at a map together. Oliver became very good at reading the maps, pointing out secret rooms, traps, statues, and even the occasional sarcophagus or other exotic, multisyllabic feature.

I recently saw that Tim posted a map that he was also offering as a print on mugs, t-shirts, and the like. I thought it was fun, so I bought a version printed on a tote bag. (We can’t have too many totes in this house.) Here’s the original post:

After receiving the bag, Oliver was astounded that one of the maps from my phone had appeared on something in real life. Maggie, nearby, didn’t immediately understand how to read the map, so Oliver excitedly sat down on the kitchen floor and gave her a lesson on old-school D&D cartographic symbols. I snapped a photo and posted it back on Tim’s thread. Here’s the shot:

Tim then sent me a direct message telling me that the post made his day and asking if he could produce a custom map as a “thank you” to Oliver. Um… Yes, of course! I mentioned that Oliver especially loved secret rooms. A few hours later, I received this fantastic map, replete with numerous secret chambers (the “S” symbols are secret doors):

Oliver’s bespoke dungeon.

This brought a lot of joy to our family, and I know that Tim Hartin was also warmed by the experience. The internet, for all its ills, is definitely capable of adding some light to our lives.