Tuesday, November 27, 2001

Almost a week between postings--did you think I had fallen down a well? Well, no. Just been busy. Thursday I went to the Dells and hung out with Mom, Dad, and Ellen all day. We found the ONE open fudge shop in the Dells, and relaxed, window shopped, and drove around the rest of the time. Dinner was only okay--this is perhaps the first time in my life I haven't had turkey for Thanksgiving. We ate at the Fields restaurant, at the Wilderness Resort. It's a lovely restaurant but my Thanksgiving steak with green peppercorns was a bit overdone around the edges. That'll teach me, right? I do want to find out how to sautee brussels sprouts like that, though. I have a feeling it involves butter.

Over the weekend I went home to Madison to hang out. Ellen and I ate at Wasabi, our favorite Japanese restaurant, right next door to where I used to live on Gilman and State St. Then I made the mistake of bringing her into Tropic Jewel, the huge bead store next to Wasabi. She had never been there, and about ten minutes into the visit, she had the same inspiration that hits everyone who enters Tropic Jewel: I bet I could make some jewelry out of these beads. It was all over at that point. She spent even more than I did (which was a feat in itself) and came home with some great silver, grey, green, and multicolored beads, some soft-flex wire, jumprings, and clasps, which she made into a really nice array of necklaces before Saturday night was out. It was fun to watch her get inspired.

I did some assorted shopping, notably indulging my hobby of unusual foodstuffs at the big oriental grocery on Park St. No, not Midway--everyone thinks of that when I mention this store, but this one is on the other end of Park, near the Beltline, in the strip mall where the Public Library has a branch. It's not the best neighborhood, but you can't beat this store: I lost count of the countries and cultures represented before I was halfway through the store. Filipino, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, Indian, Mexican, Cuban, Jamaican, Thai, Brazilian, etc., etc., etc.! Everything is dirt cheap, which makes it easy to try new things. When a can of sweet corn and tapioca in coconut milk is 95 cents, hey, if you hate it, throw the whole thing out and make a mental note not to buy it again. I got some more of those small Japanese jelly cups with pieces of konjac suspended in them--couldn't find the peach kind I got last time that was so good, but I got two packages of assorted fruit flavors. Konjac must be a miracle fruit, to take on so many different flavors.

Mom and Dad have totally overhauled their concept of really GOOD dining since meeting their friends Andee and Murray, who live down the street. It's heartening to see that people really can change. ;) Dad suggested we have dinner Saturday night at Restaurant Magnus, which is probably the best restaurant I have ever been in--and possibly the most expensive. Everything was exquisite: I had carpaccio so thin I had to scrape it off the plate, with olives and pumpkin seed oil, and roast quail on root vegetables with chiles and wine sauce. The chiles were wonderful--the deep dark flavorful kind, blanched and blended in with the root vegetables. A little hot, but not too bad.

Alissende and I and her son had brunch Sunday morning at Country Kitchen, which was fun. He's a nice kid. I never made it to the Music Library like I said I would, but I'm not worried--I'm not hurting for music right now. Instead I browsed some stores near East Towne, got a mocha at Victor Allen's (wait...forget I said that; Alissende just started working at Steep 'N Brew! Whoops.), and stopped for fresh bagels at Bagels Forever for breakfast this week. Then I dropped in on the Jararvellir dance practice at the Union, which is always fun. Afterwards a few of us (Nawson, Francesca, Rochl & me) went to Kabul for dinner; believe it or not it wasn't my idea! Rochl really likes it now, since I took her there in the summer. Kabul is still overall my favorite restaurant anywhere (plus, I can afford it!). We had a fun dinner and I got back really late.

So, I had my Madison weekend, short as it seemed. Now all I want to do is go back. *sniff*

This week is sort of ho-hum. Working on the White Birch; working on plans and MIDIs for the Northshield Choir for our Boar's Head performances. Not sure what's up for this weekend, though I can tell you I need to get a LOT done on Owen's garb if I'm going to have an undertunic to try out on him at Boar's Head. I think Sunday is my work day for that. There's skating on TV and snow is predicted.

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

See, my trip to Bardic Madness South this past weekend has already inspired me. I was lazily paging through my copy of A History of Private Life: Revelations of the Medieval World, which is a great exploration of what primary sources can reveal about the everyday lives of people in the Medieval and Renaissance period, and my eye stopped at this passage:

In urban bourgeois families [...] where girls were strictly supervised and not permitted to discover the world except through the window, romance often began with a glance. Innocent young girls fell for young gentlemen merely because they happened to pass by. (In Palermo in 1280, the daughter of a pharmacist, while 'stationed at the window with other ladies', made the blunder of falling for the king himself.) [p. 288]

My first thought was, that's mean. Probably this girl was completely sheltered, hadn't been out of the house more than a handful of times, except to go to church. She was needy, she was lonely, and she fell for someone with a heroic aspect. How was she supposed to know he was out of reach? My second thought was, hey, I've felt like that...

...and so I wrote a song called "Notte a Palermo", speaking in the voice of the girl. Actually it's sort of a depressing song. She doesn't even see the King until the fourth verse (out of eight total), and it ends with her saying that she doesn't observe at the window anymore, so she has not seen the King again, but she is resigned in her torment to love one whose heart can never be hers. There are four little two-line choruses, variations on two questions of how/why love comes to her in the shelter of her home, and how she will live without her heart.

I like the sentiment. It's very human. Love steps around the bounds of logic and seizes us and shakes us, and if we're smart we don't even try to explain it, we just change our plans to accomodate it--even if there's only a vanishingly small chance it will end happily, and even if we're young and stupid and want someone totally impractical for no good reason. But the song itself doesn't strike me as pre-1600 (certainly not 1280!), and the tune I came up with is even less so--sort of 18th century English lament style. (Not that most people will notice at your average SCA bardic circle.) I also am a little ticked with myself for not making it more Italian. Because I have been thinking about it for three hours and picturing the paintings in the book, I picture everyone in Romeo and Juliet garb, the whispering of olive trees, the warm wind with the scent of wild roses, etc., but that doesn't really come out in the song. I love the trappings of SCA period Italian culture, I wear an Italian Ren gown like a goddess, so why couldn't I paint what I see more clearly? Darn it...

Well, I did say I'd talk more about Bardic Madness South (and I don't have to be up early tomorrow, thank goodness, so I have a little while to do so). I was surprised at how many people I already knew, or at least recognized, at the event. Although there were really only five of us from the Northshield, I recognized a lot of people from Pennsic and from my two recent Calontir events, a couple of people from the Pennsic Bardic listserv I'm on, and dozens from events in Caer Anterth (Milwaukee), especially Mistress Thea and Master Robyyan, Giannetta and Teleri and other Pippins, Mistress Amelie who was at my first Bardic Madness, and the couple who do ren-faire busking who were at RUM.

Strangely I felt at home, even though this was my first event in the Middle Kingdom that wasn't in the Northshield. People are right when they say that the Middle Kingdom is not necessarily an evil, foreign entity we can't relate to. These people were good to us, and obviously considered us to be family--even the guests from Calontir and Ealdormere, who seem to see Northshielders as Midrealmers who might someday soon stumble out of the nest and fly as their Kingdoms have, not strange foreign people from a new land. Everyone starts from the assumption that we're alike, we're known to each other, we have a history. It was a very calming thing.

Wonderful, wonderful music, and even the quality of the stories was better than I'm used to. I had never heard Alan Fairfax--wow, is he a good storyteller. There was an excellent man with a Japanese persona who told adorable Japanese animal stories (yes, I gave him a kumihimo kit before the night was over--he had heard of it, but had never done it). But what was really striking was the quality of the period music, even though the instrumentalist were somewhat sequestered in their jam room and didn't participate much in the challenges. The choral music especially was amazing. The Pippins performed a whole bunch: "If ye love me", "Exsultate justi", and lots more. Mistress Amelie's group did some incredible choral stuff too, notably a sweet, sad rendition of "Una sanosa porfia", a song I had printed out and sitting on my computer desk for months last year, and never did find a situation to sing it in. We even formed a pick-up choir in the afternoon and quickly whipped up "El grillo" and a trio version of "Hark, all ye lovely saints", which, it turns out, don't need no steenkin' basses or tenors. ;)

I guess it's obvious that I did sing, despite my throat still being in poor repair after last week's cold. It probably wasn't the best idea to sing so much, esp. since someone forgot to tell me that Cerian has three cats, until we arrived at the post-revel and I started hacking and sneezing. (Remember, I hadn't had an antihistamine in three days due to the cold...thank goodness Simonetta from Calontir saved my life by lending me a Claritin! She said I owed her a visit in return. That'd be fun.) By the end of the night I tried to sing "Lady of the Northshield" and had to start three times, just to get any voice to come out. Well, like I always say, nothing keeps me from singing...and that's sometimes not a good thing.

Thanksgiving tomorrow. I'm meeting Mom, Dad, and Ellen at a resort in the Dells at 2pm, an arrangement which reflects the fact that I'm working Friday this year. I intend on sleeping in, taking a walk to get my metabolism going, doing some embroidery (I'm working on Owen's garb), and leaving around noon. Should be a nice day.

Sunday, November 18, 2001

So much to report about Bardic Madness South...but I'm not going to get to it tonight. We were up until 4 last night and then up at 8. You do the math. I am about to go to bed, but I will say that I heard many things that surprised me, many things that delighted me, several things that made me cry, and such talent, in such a concentration, from so many faraway places, that I still might cry remembering it, if I weren't so sleepy. Maybe that makes me more likely to cry. *pause to mop up sudden flood of tears of happiness onto computer keyboard*

I was also right that one of the best parts of the event would be driving with Owen and Dahrien. They are, as my sister would say, da bomb. (My sister had a polar bear stuffed animal named Piccadilly or Piccy--I believe I remember naming him--when we were both pretty young. A couple of years ago we were reminiscing and I was reminding her of my favorites of our stuffed animals. She didn't remember all of them, but when I brought up Piccadilly, her face lit up. "Piccy?" she said. "I remember him, he was great! Piccy's da bomb.") They were such fun travel companions. Basically, except for giving me my own bed in the motel rooms, they treated me like one of the guys, and didn't make me feel like the junior member of the traveling team, though I've been doing the SCA and bardic stuff for quite a bit less time than they have. Nor did they seem ill-at-ease, as married people (not to each other...two married guys, married to separate women...okay, I'm digging myself into a hole here, moving on), carting around and rooming with a single woman and even indulging in the occasional bit of flirting.

Anyway: I discovered two things that I did not know, or at least, two things that I did not know out of many things that I discovered and don't think are quite right for publishing on my webpage:

1. Dahrien has the most ordered mind of anyone I know. This makes him great for giving precise, pleasantly modulated driving directions. It also makes me nuts when I'm trying to have a friendly argument with him because a) his precision shows me exactly the spots where I am unclear in my own arguments, and b) his orderedness makes it tough for me to follow, because by nature my brain doesn't take things in order--it jumps around until it gets lost and can't pick up the thread in a logical manner anymore. Do you ever get the feeling I might have a mild case of attention deficit disorder?

2. Owen is easier to talk to than I thought, and thinks more of me than I thought he did. This is among the nicer realizations I have had this year. Makes my autumn, I'll tell ya.

Enough for tonight--I'm going to quick unpack my travel bag and choose some pajamas. The cold front just came through, dropping the temperature in my apartment by five degrees in short order, and dumping a bunch of rain outside that's still falling. I can't wait to curl up in bed. Maybe I'll pick out some stuffed animals to cuddle with. It seems like a night for that kind of coziness. Oh, for the comforting presence of Piccadilly...;)

Next entry: the event, and the $100,000 question: did she sing, or did her vocal chords succumb to the creeping crud cold that started Wednesday? You'll just have to tune in and find out.

Thursday, November 15, 2001

The cold is creeping down into my throat on little cat feet--no laryngitis, no discolored stuff being coughed up, no wheezing, just itchiness. I'm not sure as of yet whether I'll be singing by Saturday. At least (thank heavens) the sneezing has stopped. All I know is, I'm sleepy--normally I wouldn't be thinking of going to bed at 10:15, especially on a night when I don't have to be up early the next day. Really though, I'm not worried about the cold. I had a checkup today (pure coincidence) and Katie--have I mentioned how much I enjoy having a primary health care provider named Katie?--said of course, it's just a cold, nothing to be done but drink liquids and maybe take some echinacea. (Rats, I forgot, I was going to check out echinacea in the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database before I left work. I don't trust anything else, and of course it's not available for free on the 'net. Oh well...)

Well, if I can't sing, at least I'll look good. I'm wearing the purple cotehardie again. I think the new gown may make it onto my short list of garb I just plain feel good in. And I'm ready to teach my class on developing a bardic book. And I'm bringing all those adorable little bone boxes I got from Fire Mountain for way, way cheap, to give away as tokens for the challenge I'm sponsoring (still waiting to hear which one that is!). And I just can't wait to see all those fabulous bards in one place.

Even the drive will be fun, and productive too: I have one strip of oak leaves drawn up in white pencil on the green raw silk for Owen's garb. That one strip will probably do the cuffs really nicely; when I get back I'll take the measurements I will hopefully remember to get this weekend, and alter the pattern I drew up for Giles to fit Owen, then draft the contrast facing directly from the pattern piece so I can start embroidering that too. And with any luck, I'll have it done by 12th Night...

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Just in time for the best bardic event of the season, I'm in the early stages of another cold--the second one this fall. I think it may be time for me to institute double handwashing for myself, if I don't want to spend all winter like this! I was fine singing in the New Music Concert tonight (just got back) with the La Crosse Chamber Chorale; my voice has perhaps a touch of that late-onset problem that I get when I'm sick, but otherwise nothing has migrated into my throat yet. With any luck it won't. This morning it was just post-nasal drip; tonight I'm in the sneezy stage (I even sneezed on stage, luckily during the interval when the percussionists were re-arranging their instruments before we had begun). I really, really, really want to be able to sing Saturday--it's Bardic Madness, after all! Everybody and their Laurel is going to be there! Not to mention the Pippins--it won't be just bardic, it'll be choral too! If I can't sing I'll still go, but I'll sip water and pout all day. I'm warning you, throat. You be good now...

Off to revise my "Building a Bardic Book" class handout. But first, I will be bringing a box of kleenex over by the computer. No sense sneezing all over everything.

Monday, November 12, 2001

Wow...GOOD Coronet. Can I just say, if there's anything cooler than a Mongol and a Roman reigning together, it's Japanese and Jewish personas reigning together. I KNEW there was a reason why I, a good Jewish girl (in mundane and SCA life), have been obsessing over Japanese kumihimo braiding for the last year or so...! Let me elaborate: the next Prince and Princess of the Northshield will be Lt. Kitakaze Tatsu Raito and Baroness Elashava bas Riva, both of the Barony of Jararvellir. (Yes, I was perhaps the first one brave enough to say it at the event: the Nordskogen streak is over.)

Not that I saw most of the tourney. We had choir rehearsal after lunch, which was fun despite being crammed into a small office room, with our poor conductor standing on the desk so we could all see him...! Of course we were back to see the semifinals. This was the first Northshield Coronet in which there were members of the Viscounty looking to repeat, so to speak: one couple, and one Viscountess fighting for a different Lord (and he for her). None of our illustrious former Prince/sses ended up in the finals, though the Lord fighting for Viscountess Isabelle did (so technically, so did she). I don't know what this means except that I'm happy we are continuing the tradition of letting someone new have a chance.

Waaaay good Choir performances at Feast. We got a standing ovation after "Shield My Kinsmen" (when have we not? Chandler somehow found the only possible way to make a legendary song better without obscuring its glory. It's an amazing arrangement.). I was more nervous than even I thought I'd be, before my solo performance. As I said, it was the first time I had sung from memory in front of that many people. Somehow it wasn't as big of a deal to do it at Bard Wars a few months ago--I didn't know most of those people. This was a bigger feast, and a bigger deal: the whole Northshield (or a representative enough sample that it didn't matter if it wasn't quite the whole Principality, it still felt like it). Added to which, I had extra time to work myself up, since Feast went rather slowly...not the slowest Feast I'd ever been at, but close. Delicious, but slow. So anyway...

...I actually think I did pretty well. I got some nice applause. I felt sweaty and nervous up there, and sped up towards the end, but didn't forget words or break the vocal line at all. Several friends said I sounded great. Several friends said I looked nervous and they could barely hear me. (Thanks for the support, guys.) The Princess grabbed me as I went by in the hallway after Court and said she thought my song was wonderful. THAT was nice.

The rest of the event was a lot of fun. We found a nice place to deposit our stuff, near Mysie and Dahrien, and hung out with them and others during unoccupied moments. I gave two kumihimo kits to newbies from Stromfels (anything I can do to help out Stromfels, I want to do...I don't want them to lapse into inactivity), and a nice 12-strand heart kumihimo kit in royal blue rayon and gold floss for the Principality raffle at Boar's Head. (The author of the heart braid page even gave me permission to include a printout of her instructions.) I got lots and lots and lots of hugs, some from people that I didn't even know felt like hugging me, but apparently they did this weekend. (If I ever stop getting hugs from my friends at events, THAT'S when I stop participating in the SCA.) I bought a lovely book of medieval depictions of animals, and two strands of gorgeous potato pearls in a pretty creamy color, from the Pearl Guy from Caer Anterth. And how can I forget the post-revel, where I felt like I was coming home again (my third post-revel at that site, a nice martial arts studio in downtown Duluth), and we sang and sang and sang. And did "Shield My Kinsmen" twice. *happy sigh* Boy, did I need to feel good about life this past weekend.

Next weekend: Bardic Madness South in Indiana, which I am REALLY looking forward to, not just because I am taking Friday off and will have a long weekend (though that's nice), but because I get to drive with Owen and Magnus and Dahrien, and see people I think are just EXTREMELY wonderful like Mistress Amelie and Cerian and Garraed and John Inchingham, and I get to TEACH, which is just icing on the cake. I'm teaching my "Building a Bardic Book" class, meaning I need to overhaul the handout this week, to include additional info and not to be as Calontir-centric as the original was.

In the meantime: tomorrow evening the La Crosse Chamber Chorale is singing in the UW-La Crosse New Music Concert, doing (of course) the bizarre Dominic Argento piece on translations of Catullus, "I Love and I Hate" (what a turnaround from the piece I did at Feast Saturday night, "I Love My Love"!). Hey, at least I'm in voice from the weekend.

Thursday, November 08, 2001

The cotehardie is done, hallelujah, ah-MEN. What a lot of hoo-hah. How do I always manage to drive myself crazy over a dress I want to have ready for a certain date, and finish at the tenth hour...not the eleventh, mind you, but the tenth? Just in time to breathe a sigh of relief, eat a malt cup, and think...eeeehhhh, it's not as nice as I would have wanted it...

No, no, no. That way lies madness. I think it is very, very lovely. Here's a description, for those of you who may wonder:

It's a bluey-purple linen/cotton cotehardie (sort of like a princess-seamed dress, for those not versed in medieval-speak, only without the princess seams), fitted in the bodice, with a flared skirt that begins relatively high on the waist, and flares, and flares, and flares. It is 21 1/2 feet around the bottom of the hem. I measured (and just finished sewing the hem, so I've been to every inch). The sleeves are fitted, and go about to elbow-level, then become integrated tippets (these are long fabric strips that flow down from about elbow-level, falling almost to the ground, and tempt male friends to grab them from behind and pretend like they're reins ;) ). The sleeves/tippets are fully lined in red silk douppioni, edged in gold topstitching. There are 37 red enamel buttons down the front, each with a tiny gold snowflake ringed with arrows that kind of looks like a compass star if you aren't looking too carefully. And--well, that's it. I'm going to try to wear it with the white muslin underdress I made for my very first cotehardie 2 1/2 years ago, and the linen-cotton veil I got at Pennsic; we'll see how long that lasts. I have a strangely-shaped head, apparently. Things slide off of it.

So anyway...looking forward to the event. I'm sort of nervous. I'm going to sing at feast, alone, from memory. Now say what you will about bards needing to be able to sing from memory. Memory is my plague. Almost every time I've tried to sing in public from memory, I've forgotten the words in the middle--always when doing songs I wrote, which seems ridiculous, I know. The embarrassment of having this happen is mostly gone by now, but I'm very conscious of everyone looking at me up there and feeling sorry for me, which I do NOT like. It is NOT the reason I'm up there. Music needs to be coming out of my mouth, and if it isn't, something is wrong.

I can count on only three or four songs from memory, and I'm doing one of them, "I Love My Love", at Feast. Now, I've done that one twice in the last few months, both times to great acclaim, once from strangers and once from a dear friend whose opinion is important to me, so I ought to be able to sail through it on the confidence earned during those performances. Ideally, anyway. In practice, I worry that I'm getting too cocky, thinking too little about it, and dooming myself to failure. And after all that worry, of COURSE my memory is impaired *sigh* Can anyone doubt that there's an emotional factor in memory?

Anyway, I'm going to do it, and hopefully do it well. This is my fifth Coronet, the second anniversary of my first one, in Falcon's Keep, and also the second anniversary of my getting my Award of Arms. It's taken me this long to feel like I deserve that award. Now, I'm working on deserving my other two. It's the beginning of the rest of my SCA life...!

Monday, November 05, 2001
It turns out I was remembering wrong: It's not "buttons and &@!*#$ buttonholes", it's "buttonholes and @%#*$& buttons". All 37 buttonholes took me just over two hours last night. I spent three hours tonight sewing on buttons, and still have five to go. The good news is that they look gorgeous. I am not ashamed to admit that the best part of my new Coronet gown is the only part I didn't make by hand. ;) The bad news is...well, I still have five to go! Incredible! They never end. I think the amount of time it takes to sew on buttons increases to fill the available time. One of those metaphysical things...

Feeling a little sad tonight. It's a combination of hormones and other things. Various kinds of stress are getting to me lately. Work things.

Sunday, November 04, 2001

You'll never believe it! In just a few hours tonight, I got the sleeves sewn on, and put in--and CUT--all 37 buttonholes. I'm right on schedule *sigh of relief*. I have the gown hanging right now, on one of my garb-only hangers (thank goodness for those foam covers they put on hangers at my dry cleaner's). Tomorrow: all the buttons go on, by hand of course, and then it will hang all through Tuesday day and night, and Wednesday, so I can start the hem Wednesday night. And probably not finish it until late Thursday night. I haven't attempted to measure all the way around the hem, but I can tell it's more than a full circle. Good thing I used lightweight cotton/linen--I can only imagine how much it would weigh in brocade.

Wait--I almost forgot, I made THAT cotehardie last winter. ;)

Current cotehardie status: body assembled, sleeves prepared for attachment to body. All draped expectantly over my sewing table. I stopped at Hancock Fabrics Friday night and bought twelve more buttons; I have yet to sit down and total up the button supply, but I suspect it's up around 45 or so, which is plenty of buttons (and &%#!@* buttonholes) for me. Tonight: attach sleeves, begin buttonholes (no WAY I'll finish them tonight, but I need to make significant inroads).

Yesterday I got up at what we all agreed was an ungodly hour of the morning (5:45) and drove myself, Sarra, Giles, and Toki to Eau Claire for the Northshield Althing. Toki and Giles spent the whole trip good-naturedly picking on me and laughing at me as I pouted in response. It is actually sort of nice to be picked on by people who I know aren't serious or trying to make me feel bad. It was a good group to drive with, and it's lovely to have a car that accomodates four without having to compromise in how far the front seats are shifted forward or back...!

The event itself was nice. I do have to say that it was not well-attended. There were probably only 35 or 40 attendees--contrast that with Coronet (next week), which normally approaches 400 people, or the official paid membership of the Northshield (around 1250). I suspect they place the Althing in Eau Claire out of a misplaced sense that it will be conveniently central for everyone. In reality it's only convenient for the 5 or 6 (out of 32) Northshield groups which are within a 3 hours' drive from Eau Claire. I hate to cite the old grievance of Nordskogen-centrism, but it sure is convenient for them (depending on where they live in the Cities, only 1 to 2 hours away). For us it was a comfortable day-trip at just over 2 hours. (We were even able to post-revel a little at Wyndreth and Vlad's, which was fun and didn't activate my cat allergy to the extent that I thought it would.)

I could have mis-heard, but at one point I thought I heard Leyla say she was pleased that the Althing had drawn people from all over the Northshield. If that was what she said, it's the first ignorant assumption I've ever seen her make--there was no one there from the North Dakota, Manitoba, Ontario, or upper Michigan groups, and only one person there from South Dakota--and she was there because she was running the event. Attendance from Wisconsin wasn't even that good--I saw three or four from Jararvellir (including the Baron and Baroness, bless 'em), two from Windhaven (because they're on the Kingdom Exploratory Group), three from Caer Anterth (one because she's Principality Seneschal), 6 or 8 from Shattered Oak who were mostly stuck in the kitchen all day, two from Coille Stoirmeil, and two from Stromfels (because their event was cancelled when the Althing conflicted with it!). And five from Rokeclif. Yay for us. But yay especially for Nordskogen, which made up much of the crowd (and, needless to say, all the royalty).

Enough complaining, though. Overall it was such a smart and efficient day of discussion. I was so impressed with Marwen in running the KEG discussion. She really knows her stuff, and has a great attitude. "We're going to do this Kingdom thing right, because if there's one thing I don't want, it's to look like a schmuck," she said several times. "I'm not going to look like a schmuck, folks, I'm going to work hard and so is everyone else, and we're going to do this right." Viscount Alasdair had some inspiring things to say about how if we take our time and approach becoming a Kingdom with baby steps, we will be a model for other groups who want to make the Principality to Kingdom transition. We won't just do it, we'll do it well and we'll be prepared. I like that.

Leyla directed the whole day's discussion (outside of the KEG portion), and did a fabulous job, as usual. Why isn't this woman in charge of a Fortune 500 company? (Well, I realize she's busy being Princess right now, but that's over soon, right? ;) ) She still manages to have a lot of humor, energy, and insight even after nearly a year (a year minus 6 days, right now) of all the hassles, problems, confusion, hard lessons, and disillusionment that comes with being a member of the royalty in the SCA. She brought up pertinent issues, listened to everyone's perspective, recognized everyone in turn in a fair manner, and politely cut off people who re-stated their point too much.

I had intended on listening to others' points of view and then posing my own questions if there were things I didn't understand or though others hadn't thought of. As it was, I didn't even need to be the voice of the small Shires to counteract the Nordskogen effect--Irielle from Stromfels, whom I hadn't seen in ages, was there to do that. In the end the discussion sounded so good to me, and was so informative where the KEG discussion was concerned, that I never did speak up. And I don't feel sorry for that at all. I truly enjoyed being there and hearing the voices I heard. And I finished three kumihimo kits while I listened, and took notes for Marwen during the KEG discussion. So I didn't come away empty-handed.

Today we had a research day at La Crosse Public Library, which was not terribly eventful, but nice. I picked up some design books for inspiration in illumination and embroidery--just inspiration at this point, no particular projects in mind. Gavin brought two friends who had not been to anything SCA before, so I talked with them a little about what we do. The Falcon's Keep Coronet t-shirt I was wearing became a conversation piece. ;)

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