Buried On Mars

Good Grief

I’ve been away from the blogs for a while, and wasn’t sure if I’d ever come back. Although I was planning on a small hiatus as my husband and I embarked on the first vacation we would take in 7 years to Portland, Oregon, little did we realize our 4-day trip would end up being a soul-crushing months-long journey through hell.

October 20, 2017 was the day my family’s world came crashing down when my father-in-law, Chris, died from a brain aneurysm. Late on the 19th, my husband and I received word from my mother-in-law that he was on life support; we had just parked our rental car at the hotel in Portland. Trying to process the news after having just spent a 5 hour flight from Toronto, with a three-hour time change and having to orientate ourselves around Portland in darkness during a torrential rain storm will remain a very dark memory for me. Talking to a distraught wife and mother brought it to a whole other level. She called us home to Sudbury, Ontario, to say good-bye, but seeing as how we were in Portland 3800 kms away, we were the furthest away we could have possibly been – we might as well have been on the moon! Immediately, a plan was underway to take the next available flight home to Toronto, which wasn’t happening until the next morning. We spent an agonizing 4 hours trying to get some shut-eye in between weeping. Chris died early the next morning. We were not able to say goodbye to him in time, and that remains the worst feeling.

We got up at 4 in the morning Pacific time, and headed to the airport. The direct flight to Toronto we hoped to take was packed, but we managed to get a flight that connected in Vancouver, B.C. With some time while we waited to board, I got us some terrible coffee and weird salty pastries for us to eat, while I made the sombre call to my own parents about the awful news. Through the grief we somehow managed to compose ourselves as we navigated customer service lines, security and even as we boarded the plane. How weird grief can be. I had brought six tissue compacts on this trip, thinking the hubs’ sinuses might act up. Never had I thought we’d be using them to wipe away tears.

We spent a miserable 4.5 hour flight from Vancouver to Toronto in middle seats one row apart. Two flights, two stints through security and many hours later, we landed in Toronto at 5 PM EST time. We grabbed our car from the lot, drove the 40 minutes to our house to pack up dark clothes, ensure our large goldfish would have enough food for over a week and grab whatever food we had in the fridge for the 4.5 hour ride north to Sudbury. Aside from the coffee served in-flight, the hubs and I hadn’t eaten, nor slept. Our pack was what one could call a hobo lunch – sliced bread, lunch meat, apples, bag of chips; everything separate, none of it put together. We were barely out of our little town when we busted open a pack of nacho flavoured Paqui chips; organic, gluten-free and very tasty. As we ate, we began to think about Chris and his love for junk food. He would have loved these chips! The trip up north was dark and lonely…much like how we were feeling.

Chris was a very special person who touched a lot of lives. A loving and supportive father, I saw through my husband and sister-in-law what it meant to have a father in the true sense, having lost my own when I was under 4 years old. Together, Chris and I had some fun things between us that meant the world to me. We both shared a love for Crossword and Sudoku puzzles, Maynard’s wine gums, and running for takeout. Whenever we’d have a reno project to work on, it would always begin with Chris and I writing a list for the lumber yard in a Tim Hortons parking lot. “But, first, coffee!” he would say. I cherish the times we had together.

Retired from Inco, he was still always busy working. He was a handyman: a carpenter, an electrician, a plumber…he loved to fix electronics, from old computers, to the local church’s bells, to building and repairing robotics. Chris had a genius mind; the guy could build from vision and have it come to life. But more than that, he knew exactly what tools and equipment he needed to make his ideas happen. Everything he did was for his family, friends and community, and that will never get lost on me. My house is filled with his handiwork from our gazebo out back to our bathroom reno, to our new kitchen, to that hallway closet light he installed during his last visit this past August. He taught me how to hammer a nail and shingle a roof…and to never fear getting your hands dirty.

I wanted to share the last text my father-in-law sent me that links my WordPress life to my private one in a real way:

“Dear Sarca,

Your mother in law has been getting emails from a Sarca at WordPress…I had no idea who “Sarca” was until now!!! I have just started reading, and am very impressed with your Caught Me Gaming blog! I will now read every post. I can’t promise to know everything you are talking about, but just know, dear daughter, I have now subscribed and I am reading.

Love Dad. oxoxox”

Friends, I can’t promise I’ll be writing consistently for the next bit. These days, life is moving pretty fast: there is a lot of travel and family time in the mix which is pulling me away from doing the things that I write about here. Grief also takes its time releasing its clutches. I am pretty sure we’re in for a difficult Christmas this year, but I am thankful for the closeness and warmth of family.

Thank you all for keeping me in your subs through my absences…I’ll return slowly, but surely. A special thank you to my blogging friends who reached out in the dark hours to send condolences, prayers, gifts of coffee, and offers of help – you are close to my heart. Thank you.

I’ll see you all soon!


The Hubs Has Started A Film Review Blog!

Hi All!

Some shameless promotion here: I am excited to present a special project by my husband, Kevin (a.k.a BuriedOnMars). He has started his own blog on WordPress, focussing on Blu-ray film reviews.

In his first entry, Kevin talks about the history behind watching movies and what the focus of the blog will be. My movie-watching shenanigans might even somehow squeeze into his blog post discussions in some way considering a lot of the time, we will be watching together (now if that doesn’t make following his blog worthwhile, I don’t know what will! Tee-hee!):


Please, friends, check it out and give him some blogging love!


Enjoying a Game Swap as an Unfocused Gamer

Last weekend, I went to the Barrie Game Exchange, in Barrie, Ontario, a venue where vendors (who are gamers themselves) sell off pieces of their retro gaming collections to other gamers. Haggling for the best price is on the table, and there are possibilities of swapping out games for other games of equal or lesser value.

I am very new to this whole swap meet experience. It being my third, it might sound unusual of me to say this, but I have not caught the game collector fever like some other people I know, and don’t really have a desire to seek out hard copy retro games from a bygone era (SNES, Sega, Atari, etc). My focus is predominantly casual adventure PC games for the most part, and not necessarily in physical form. At any rate, most boxed PC games are no longer for sale in physical format; but are available online via sites like Steam, GOG and Big Fish Games. I think nothing of thinning out my stack of games if I have played a game and don’t like it or I get tired of it. That said, I do have a stock of games that I haven’t played, including boxed PC and Nintendo DS games, but I wouldn’t say I am out to collect every game in that format.

My intention of going to a game swap was initially to keep my husband company, as cramming into a room full of strangers for an afternoon (some of which can be smelly and sweaty…) is not really my idea of a good time. But, having weathered three of these now, I can say I have found ways to survive enjoy my time while attending. The last couple of swaps have been fun, especially meeting up with other members of the Cartridge Club (of which I am a member) who have turned into friends over the past couple of years. Now, I am actually looking forward to the next swap meet.

My very first swap meet was the Barrie Game Exchange last July 2015. I was only planning to keep my husband company, but before we headed up to Barrie, he said that I should compile a list of games to look for while at the show. This would engage me in the whole swap experience. This was difficult; I was honestly blanking out on what games to look for. Along with the challenge of not collecting games, odd boxed PC games was the first thing that came to mind, and my husband said that likely no one would be selling those (Yeah, yeah, boxed PC games are dodo birds, ok, yes got the memo…). So what do I do then? I got some random games together on my list, but didn’t really find anything that time.

It was the second gaming swap meet: the Waterloo Game Swap last September 2015, when I got my act together. Beforehand, my husband had me play some SNES and NES games in emulation to pique my interest in searching for some games in that platform. Specifically, I started getting an interest in Kirby and decided to focus on that character’s games. I went into the Waterloo Game Swap, armed with a small list of games. I didn’t leave with much, but at least that gave me games to look out for.

My list for last Sunday. I write notes on paper, then take pics of them with my phone. I do this a lot. 😉

Last Saturday, in preparation for the Barrie Game Exchange, I armed myself again with a list of the Kirby games I had (because it is A LOT shorter than what I don’t have!) and what I didn’t. Along with it, I compiled a list of desired crime and adventure Nintendo DS games. Since my experience playing Unsolved Crimes on the system, I have been chomping at the bit to find some more rare titles like it. Again, not to collect per se, but to play.

We had VIP tickets to the game exchange, which allowed the first 65 people access to the tables a half an hour ahead of the rest of the crowd. This was great, to be able to scope out the tables before the deluge. It also allows you to test out your haggling skills before the pressure of crowds  upsets your smooth haggling flow. My skills were rusty going in, to be honest. And, unfortunately for me, some vendors were not open to haggling at all. “Nope, that’s a fair price.” No, I can’t go any lower.” They wouldn’t even knock $2 off. A couple of tables didn’t have their prices at the ready and were actually checking prices online. I hate that. Come on, folks, this is not eBay, and I am standing right in front of you. That being the case, I moved on to other tables that would more reasonably accept my patronage.

A challenge I faced was knowing what was a good deal. I don’t have much of a gauge where that is concerned. Prices for games have fluctuated wildly over the years, and no two games are created equal. To that end, one game’s price at the Exchange could be $20 at one table, and $8 at another. It was wild! I would ask my husband about prices, but we weren’t always together. That said, most things I bought were going by my gut. Am I willing to pay $10 for this, $15 for that?

I had some good fortune on the Nintendo DS front. My first purchase of the day was Kirby’s Mass Attack for the DS, sold to me by a couple of dudes from my hometown of Sudbury who are also running a gaming swap in Sudbury in October, and invited us to come up. Among other DS purchases, I got the Legendary Starfy (never heard of it before), Kirby’s Canvas Curse which looks cool, Pokemon Ranger and a crime game called COP: the Recruit. The priciest game of the day was a rare DS game called Electroplankton, a game I had never seen before ($30, fetching $60 on Amazon).


The last half an hour of the show is often a good time to get a deal on some games. I had my eye on a Mario Picross game for the GameBoy for most of the show, and decided last minute to purchase it. The very last thing I bought was Alone in the Dark for the GameBoy Color for $3 (any good?).

There was also a vendor at the Exchange selling super cool gaming mugs. I picked up one depicting a Pac-Man eating coffee beans for $10. Awesome!


Overall, I am quite satisfied with my finds. I think for the next time I will pay attention to the going rate of some of these games, so I can go in better armed.

It also appears that this year will be quite active in terms of these game swaps – coming up:

Waterloo Game Swap in May 29, 2016, (Waterloo, Ontario)

Durham Video Game Convention June 5, 2016 (Oshawa, Ontario)

Barrie Game Exchange in August (Barrie, ON)

Northern Game Expo in October (Sudbury, Ontario)

[YouTube] GirlfriendVS Mega Man 2 (NES), with special guest, Sarca!

Yep, call me Norma Desmond! I’m a big staaaaah with an NES controller!

Back in the Fall, my husband and I taped a small project, engineered by YouTube channel, GirlfriendVS. It was a collaboration which included four other YouTube channels, Round2Gaming, the Cartridge Bros. (P1 and P2), and finally my husband’s channel, Buried On Mars. The theme: Five couples, one game. Each YouTuber got their significant other to play the NES game MegaMan 2 – a game none of the girls played before, with the goal to see how far they could get in the game. It was a little friendly competition among the girls and it was great fun!

How did Sarca do?

The full video has just been released. Watch to find out! 🙂

Visiting and Reminiscing Over a Box of Stuff

Greetings from Sudbury: The frozen snow-covered Nickel Belt of Northeastern Ontario!

Visiting family and friends feeds and recharges the soul. There was plenty of reminiscing about the “good ol’ days” which included visiting with my sis. Alot of laughs. Good times! Going home and receiving boomerang gifts also keeps visits interesting… You know, the stuff you left behind when you moved out, but that now that you are out of the house and established in your own place, the parents seem to find tchotchkies and wimwams that were once yours, and BOOMerang! they hand you a box full of random crap to take home with you so you can pitch it. It had been awhile since I got one of these from my parents…I haven’t lived at home in 21 years. I’ve been married 14 years. What could possibly be left? Dust bunnies from 1991?

Visiting my parents is always a good time. They’re elderly, and have been retired for years. My mom looks great and is in generally good health in comparison to other women her age. My Step-Dad is near-deaf and has an infectious sense of humour. Between the two of them, it’s fun to engage in an innocent story with them, that easily degrades into a yelling match because my Step-Dad can’t hear you. Hilarious! We always have a good time with them. I’ve known him most of my life and sometimes I think he still sees me as a 10 year old. He was present pretty much during the awkward formative and gawky teen years. He always takes an opportunity to remind my older sis and I of some of the old times we had as kids. Embarrassing and not. This visit, he was full of surprises.

To start, I used to have a huge Archie comic collection. When my Step-Dad heard that Archie Andrews was going to die in a up-and-coming comic book, he presented me at Christmas with the Death of Archie comic edition! He made a point of going to the local comic book store to pick up that edition for me. What a surprise; I’ll be cherishing it!

He then found my sister’s Game and Watch handheld Mario Bros. game in a random drawer. My sister bought the little video game in France in 1984 when she was on an exchange, so its instructions are in French. This arcade game has Mario and Luigi in a bottle factory, and I remember it being a ton of fun. My sister gave her blessing to gift the game to the hubs, the big retro game collector, which was generous and awesome! Thank you, Sis!


Then, my Step-Dad surprised me with a box full of my 21-plus year old crap. BOOMerang!

Here – he said. You’ll want to take this home.

It was a shoebox full of cassettes – full albums and cassette singles, to be exact! 22 in total.

Paula Abdul’s Straight Up, Milli Vanilli’s Girl, You Know It’s True, even Zappacosta’s Letter Back, a song I have no memory what it sounds like, nor do I recall buying. I know some of these are my sister’s. Some albums include my sister’s copy of Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual, Canadian 80s sensation Candi’s album and Power Station’s self-titled album (that wound up being sans cassette, liner notes only).

I also got returned to me Linda Ronstadt’s Lush Life, a BeeGees cassette, and the soundtrack to the Travolta / Newton-John classic film, Two of a Kind. Runner up for greatest cassette re-gift goes to Hooked On Classics! which was my mom’s go-to jazzercise musack in the 80s. Some of these albums were obvious re-gifts to us as unsuspecting kids by adults who didn’t want The Merrymen of Barbados stinking up their collections. Most of those were never listened to, or maybe my kid self made it past the first song; otherwise rotting away in our cassette case rack.  I don’t know what I’ll do with any of these (except some gems). I honestly thought I had thrown these away. I mean, Milli Vanilli? Eh.

I also was gifted a sh*te photie of myself swimming in 1991. In panorama. Eh.

Included was a couple of keychains – one emblazened with my real name, and one that says, “This girl really knows how to party!” (Not). Hello, Sudbury landfill.

Anyway, the shoebox ensued a lot of laughs and reminiscing which is never a bad thing. Thanks, Step-Dad! Some good times spent with family on Christmas.

Hope you all had a great Christmas Day with your family!

Merry Christmas, Sarca!

Christmas came early to the house of Sim…my Christmas Amazon order came in today!

The hubs and I did something a little different and unconventional this year. We decided to allow ourselves to buy our own Christmas presents. We had a price limit imposed, and we each went to town…virtually-speaking – he on eBay, me on my wish list on Amazon. I know it doesn’t sound very romantic to some people, but the hubs wanted retro video games and knows what he wants and where to get them from…and I knew what I wanted, so there. The holidays can be so stressful, and this is the perfect solution to the spousal gift-giving problem. Seriously, it was perfect for us!

And look at all the loot!

Corner Gas Full Tank (Complete Series)
NYPD Blue Seasons 6 and 7 (YES!!)
Graphic novels, New York Drawings and Sleepwalk and Other Stories by Adrian Tomine
As well, I added Quebecois graphic novelist Michel Rabagliati’s Paul Joins the Scouts (from the “Paul Got a Summer Job” series)
Last, but not least, The Tragically Hip’s Fully Completely Limited Edition CD, DVD and booklet! (Drool!)


So good!

One little snafu, though. My copy of New York Drawings arrived damaged, so now I get to exchange it. Looks like I have a bit of a procedure to go through with Amazon. Wish me luck on that adventure!


And on a different note, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank a couple of peeps from my WP email circle that graciously gifted me some great stuff:

Thank you to Brian Z for sending me Ray Lyell’s Desert Winds on CD. It was very nice of him to think of me when he found it. He sent it to me without wanting anything in return. Thank you so much!

Then, a couple of weeks ago I got a package in the mail – full of smurfs!


Aaron from keepsmealive caught wind that I have a smurf figurine collection from the 80s…and found me a whole box full of more smurf figurines! These are Happy Meal Smurfs released to promote the new Smurf movie that came out a few years ago, so they are bigger in size than my vintage smurf figurines. Some of the smurfs Aaron sent are pretty rough looking, and we joked between us how he sent me dirty smurfs, haha! (I’ve since washed some of them). A big thank you to Aaron for this surprising and thoughtful gift.

At any rate, I am officially on my Christmas vacation. I will be doing some traveling up to Sudbury and hopefully get to spend some quality time with my Mom, Step-Dad and the rest of my fam whom I haven’t seen in a year. That said, I am going to take much needed time off to recharge and renew for the New Year.

To my good WP friends: Mike, Aaron, Heavy Metal Overlord, 1537, Deke, Geoff, and Brian – it’s been fun (and hilarious!) getting to know you guys. Best wishes to you and your families this Christmas! Give ‘Er x-mas-style! \m/ \m/

To the gamer guys on YouTube: The Cartridge Bros, Ram Vox, Duke and his kidlets from Retro Nonsense, Dean Lasagna, JRock, Lo, and anyone else I missed…Merry Christmas!! See you on Twitter!

And to my followers and faithful readers of Caught Me Gaming: Janna, Donna P, Jen, Gretchen, Angie, Bradley, Yvonne and anyone else I missed – thanks for your support. Merry Christmas!

See you all soon! Now I’m off to drink some coffee and Baileys!

Buried On Mars Vs. Super Mario Bros

Shout out time!

My husband, Buried On Mars’s newest video series called “Mars Vs Super Mario Bros” is up on his YouTube channel, and it’s awesome! (Okay, I know I sound biased…but it is good!),


Anyone who grew up playing Super Mario Bros and tried to complete it can identify with my hubs’ plight as before now he never has finished the game. In fact he has complained how much he sucks at Super Mario Bros.

Does he complete the game? Does he throw down his controller in frustration?

Grab yourself a coffee and ice cream, and follow his journey.  Watch all four videos, starting here:

(By the way, that’s my voice you hear at the start of his videos).