Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Choir was nice tonight. I was feeling sort of heavy and tired when I got there, from a rather busy day, but within an hour I was really getting into it. We are preparing for May Feaste, our springtime fundraising dinner/performance. Meaning: we're doing a lot of SCA-period (and slightly post-period) music. There is a Byrd motet (no...not his "Ave Verum Corpus", which is probably my favorite piece of music ever, but the one we're doing is nice), several throwaway-type madrigals (has anyone ever figured out the point of "Since Robin Hood"?), and a rather trite English translation of one of the most poignant songs about homesickness ever written, "Innsbruck, Ich Muss Dich Lassen".

We've sung that last in the Northshield Choir and also in the Known World Choir at Pennsic last year. Regardless of its real meaning, to me it'll always be about leaving an event where you've had a wonderful time, and knowing you have to descend back into 'the real world' until the next event. It sort of grates to sing it as part of May Feaste, especially in bad English translation, but apparently there is some tradition to doing this particular English version, where we surround the audience and sing it from memory. Sort of our "Health to the Company". I suppose it's good that we have an actual piece of Renaissance music for our farewell song, rather than something someone wrote one year that doesn't even sound period. But...I just wish we could do the original German lyrics too. Who would know they didn't mean the same thing as the English lyrics?

Anyway, after rehearsal tonight, I stayed late because we are trying to arrange a small-group performance of some kind. There will be time to do some 'strolling minstrel'-type performances in solo or small-group mode, and also some small-group opportunities during the concert. I got together a group and suggested "Matona Mia Cara", which is SO much fun when you actually know what it means, and we rehearsed for ten minutes, only to have four people return from the next room and say, "Wait, WE were just practicing that in English!". (Eeew. No one has ever written a singable English translation that even hints at the silliness of the Italian lyrics. C'mon, it's a German lancer who knows less Italian than I do, standing under an Italian lady's window and trying to persuade her that he's worth spending time with. He doesn't mince words either; ask me sometime what "Mi ficcar tutta notte, urtar come monton" means!)

So we abandoned the idea of singing "Matona", and began looking through the songbooks instead. It turned into an hour of just trying stuff out for fun: "Margot, labourez les vignes", "Lirum Bililirum", "Au Joli Jeu", and we also saw how fast we could do "Il est bel et bon", which apparently I don't have as well memorized as I thought. But I can do it pretty darn fast! In the end we decide to do "Au Joli Jeu" and "Il est bel et bon" for May Feaste. As a former French major, I am very gratified by this!

The guy in charge of the performances also encouraged me to play "strolling minstrel" during the dinner, and asked if I would start out the dinner period with a solo on stage. I thought a minute about what I could do, then came up with "I Love My Love". I've done it twice at SCA feasts from memory (once in a huge feast hall with no acoustics) so I know I can handle it, and it has impressive high parts. Can't wait.

This evening ended up quite a bit more fun than your average choir rehearsal. I would like to do more fun medieval/Renaissance music sightreading, both in and out of the SCA. Got to keep those sightreading muscles exercised, and anyway, it's a great social activity. Wonder if there will be a choral sightreading session at Pennsic this year? I'm afraid to inquire on the Minstrel list, knowing that someone will suggest, "Maybe YOU should set it up!". ;)

Going to Nordskogen's Wednesday meeting tomorrow night. No particular reason, yeah, that's right, no reason whatsoever...

Sunday, April 28, 2002

What a wonderful event they put on yesterday in Jararvellir (Madison, WI). I couldn't even begin to say everything that impressed or delighted me about the event, but here were some highlights for me:

  • The weather stunk (at one point, there was nearly horizontal sheeting rain) so we were all in one large room. And it was unheated. What did I say in the last post about being in an unheated building, and how that would be a flashback to my very first event in Jararvellir? It was an instant flashback. However, it just went to show me that my perspective has really changed in 4 1/2 years. Instead of feeling cold, alone, and vaguely sick, I didn't stand still long enough to feel cold! Every other minute there was someone else to hug, or the excitement of singing, or something else to keep me warm. And the togetherness of being all in one large room was really nice. And anyway, I had my flannel chemise and huge cloak, so I was okay.
  • I hit the merchants for the first time in awhile. Got a set of wooden cutlery that I plan to decorate with woodburning, three Kinder eggs (thanks Tatiana!), a John Inchingham tape (the first one, with all the great Rapier Rat stuff), and two Owain Phyfe CD's that I plan to ration for the next year or so. Successfully stayed clear of the Pearl Man, who gets a disproportionate amount of my money every year at Boar's Head. I nearly tried on a nice green gown made of soft cotton batiste with really pretty trim, but the woman was asking $75 and quite frankly, it wasn't really worth that. I need to start thinking about Pennsic garb though.
  • The Choir had 17 people report to rehearsal, including newbies like the young tall guy from Jara--Faris, I think his name is--and my bardic friend Cerian, both of whom have wonderful voices and sightread with no problem at all. I try to make it a practice to be aware of which of my bardic/musician friends reads music and which do everything by ear (e.g., Ysolt: reads, Dahrien: by ear, Owen: somewhere in between, depending, etc.). But I was totally wrong about these two. What a nice surprise. We sang two pieces in our little mini-concert, and somehow Chandler got the Queen to stop by for the concert. We made her cry! She came up to talk to us afterwards and give us tokens, and said, "Filk is fine, but period music is better." I couldn't agree more.
  • With Flori to hold my hand and provide moral support, I sang my Coronet piece for Elashava, who seemed very charmed with it. I'm glad I got to perform it for her after all. Rosanore will do great as my stand-in at Coronet next week, but of course everyone interprets music differently, and if I am the one competing to be Bard of the Northshield, I wanted Her soon-to-be Highness to hear my interpretation too. Later on, at the post-revel, someone requested to hear the piece, so I relented and did it with Flori accompanying with a Middle Eastern beat on my bardic book. We got into some groove there. People seemed really impressed. I was happy.
  • Courts. Whoah, amazing courts. There are a few things I can't reveal, but within a week the people concerned will be made aware. Very happy things though! Things I can discuss:

    • Christian got a much-deserved Evergreen ("So much for that Willow you wanted," I told him, grinning, and he could only grin back...the Evergreen is the next step up from the Willow!).
    • Chandler got the Saltire for conducting the Choir. I gave him a standing ovation.
    • The Jararvellir Music Guild got a Royal Augmentation of Arms. Owen whispered to me, "How many Middle Kingdom guilds have a Royal Augmentation of Arms? You're looking at 'em." They also got called up into Northshield Court but I was not sure for what reason--we don't have a group arts award in the Northshield.
    • My own Shire of Rokeclif got awarded the Hearthstone for the wonderful welcome we gave Niklos and Aramanthra at Autumn Rose. (Sarra was standing in Court as retinue for Elashava, which she did with much aplomb and presence, when we were called! I was so proud of her! YAY Sarra!) Another group also got the Hearthstone. More about that in about a week.
    • Queen Alys Katherine. The Queen is cool. She is a slightly older lady with what seems like a long history in the SCA (Owen tells me she was the 1st and 3rd Chatelaine of the Middle Kingdom) and a matter-of-fact style that doesn't preclude a sense of humor or a touchable heart. When I heard she was a high school Spanish teacher I wasn't surprised--she reminds me of Madame Wagner, my high school French teacher. She paid excellent attention through the rather longish Principality and Baronial courts, participating in some of the shtick, and then touched all our hearts with an admission that she is originally from the geographical region covered by the Northshield, and that she loves to be here and expects that we will one day be a great Kingdom. Needless to say, she got a standing ovation for that...!

  • Our part of the "groaning board" (continuous food service all day) went really well. We had six roasters of soup, a boatload of bread, spiced butters from our partners in Coille Stoirmeil, and a lot of goldfish crackers, most of which was gone by the end of the dinner period (except for all those goldfish crackers...anybody want some?). I felt sort of bad that I didn't participate much. I was tied up in choir, then talking to some people I needed to wrap some things up with, until 5, then had to get up to the performance stage at 5:45 for our choir performance. So I alternately served soup and ate soup for the intervening time. Luckily we had help from former Shire members now living in Jara.
  • A fabulous post-revel ensued at Cnut and Roisin's house on the north side of town. I got to sing "The Highwayman" along with Roisin, which is a post-period piece but pretty evocative all the same. I am still exercising Ysolt's advice from several years ago, that I "just start singing, they'll listen": at one point things sort of degenerated into aimless conversation, and people seemed not to be paying attention. So without prelude, I launched into "She Moved Through the Fair" and in three notes, there was total quiet in the room. I must admit to getting a thrill from being able to command a room like that, even at a bardic post-revel, where people expect singing and pay fairly good attention to it. It's a selfish thrill, yes, but I hope I deserve to feel that way every so often.

I know I'm forgetting some stuff I wanted to put here. There are also, like I said, a few things I can't discuss. Some secrets are a pleasure to keep, I'm finding, and yet there are some that are torture. Right now I have two pleasures and one torture. Give me a week and they will all come out in public.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

Tonight I volunteered to do valet parking at a charity dinner. What I thought would be a boring task turned out to be fun, as our group also got a free gourmet dinner (and I do mean gourmet--probably the best meal I've had since the last time I visited Madison and my parents took me to that great cafe with the fried spinach and duck breasts). I got to drive a Cadillac, a Town Car, a couple of minivans of various types, a teal-blue PT Cruiser, and a little black Ford Contour. My favorite to drive? Oddly, the Contour. Mostly because the woman who owned it was 4'10" so I didn't have to perch on the front edge of her seat to reach the gas pedals (I'm 5'1")! Also it drove nicely. The Town Car also had its good points--it drove like butter, but was entirely too long for my taste.

Saturday: the first outdoor SCA event of the season, Three Decades of Fish in Jararvellir, the Barony where I was born (Madison, WI). This is the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Barony, and by extension 30 years of the SCA in Wisconsin, since Jararvellir was the first SCA group in Wisconsin. It is supposed to be about 43 degrees tops in Madison on Saturday, with rain and wind, which makes me sad, but I think there is at least one enclosed building on site. And if that building isn't heated, well, it will be a repeat of my very first event in Jararvellir, just a couple of months after I joined the SCA, a Pas D'Honneur in one of those cow sheds on the Coliseum grounds in Madison, where I froze my butt off. That event led directly to the creation of my first piece of garb: the dark red polarfleece cloak. Darned if I was going to freeze like that at another event. This weekend I'm bringing the honkin' big cloak, the one that weighs 40 lbs. and once kept me warm outside, all night, in Minnesota in January. I will be warm, dammit.

Owen says his stuffed loon, Claire, can come visit me for the next few weeks. Claire has a personality all her own. She has a whole set of head-position expressions ranging from curious to quizzical to ironic to listening intently to gazing over your shoulder to dreaming to irritated to loving. She has red eyes, which is sometimes cool and sometimes a little frightening, depending on how I feel at the moment. And she has white fur (I mean, feathers...represented by especially soft stuffed-animal fur) on her breast, that enough people have stroked so that it's getting a bit grayish from contact. It's still soft though. Her beak is bent at the tip (both on the top and bottom halves) from kissing people, and occasionally falling over on her face.

Falling over is her favorite pastime: she has a peculiarity of not being able to sit upright on a flat or even surface, only uneven ones like laps or piles of songbooks. Owen is the only one who can get her to sit upright on a table, which he accomplishes through much determined squooshing of her little loon body until her feet splay out from under her and her bottom flattens out temporarily, long enough for her to sit still and stunned for a few moments. Then I pick her up and soothe her with a hug. Poor loon sweetie.

When my sister and I were little, and we'd go on a car trip with Mom & Dad, they used to solve the problem of "She's on my side"/"No, I'm not" by getting out a laundry basket and telling us to fill it with our "friends": our dolls and stuffed animals. Then the laundry basket would sit on the back seat between Ellen and I, right on top of whatever fictional boundary would have separated her side from mine. (I still say Ellen used to gain more room by shoving the basket towards my side at any opportunity. But let's let sleeping dogs lie, shall we?) We had our favorites: Piccadilly the polar bear, Plucky Duck, Siamie the panda, Spinel the Potbelly Bear, a stuffed Pooh bear that we decided was our token disabled animal (he was developmentally disabled), and more. Ellen coveted mine and I coveted Ellen's, but on these trips we were pretty generous and both played with all of our "friends". They talked, sang along with the radio or Mom's Barry Manilow tapes, waved out the back window at fellow travelers, and cuddled with us.

My current bunch of stuffed animals, kept on a bookshelf in my bedroom, doesn't include any of these classic "friends"; this collection started in high school. They are mostly gifts from others; some are Beanie Babies (singularly un-cuddly and hard to relate to as stuffed animals, if you ask me). But sometimes I begin to have the same feeling for a stuffed animal that we used to have for our "friends". I feel that way about Claire. Call me juvenile, call me silly, you'd be right. But I do adore Claire.

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

I just received my package of Yachana Jungle Chocolate (scroll down, then click on "Learn More" or the picture of the little girl next to the listing for Yachana). It's a tiny little package (2 oz.), but worth the $5.95 plus shipping, in a couple of different ways: 1) they donate 1,145 square feet of rainforest to a conservation agency for each package you buy, and 2) it's GOOD, weird, unusual food. (See the description of me at the top of this page if you need reminding of one of my favorite hobbies: weird food.)

This is not your average chocolate. What they do is they roast cocoa beans, split them up into smaller pieces, tumble them with cane sugar and pineapple juice, toss in some pieces of dried pineapple, and put the whole kit and caboodle into a bag and sell it. The result: little pieces of largely flavorless, but appealingly crunchy, cocoa bean with a tasty sugar coating that feels slightly cool on the tongue as it dissolves. With the occasional chewy bit of pineapple. This stuff is addictive. I have eaten half the bag since opening the package 45 minutes ago--and I know better than to eat anything, much less pineapple or chocolate (two of my big heartburn triggers), after 8 pm. I may be sorry in the morning, but it's worth it tonight.

Got back tonight, just before Choir, from a trip to Wausau for a statewide professional conference. This particular conference is like coming home for me, because I know virtually everyone who comes to it, either from other conferences, from our regional consortium (our region being northern Wisconsin, folks who have far more in common with each other that with, say, Milwaukee), or through my current or former jobs. Everyone seems glad to see me, and seeing them brings back happy memories of other conferences, of projects we've worked on together, or of e-mailing each other to get advice or commiserate about some problem. And some of the attendees are also personal friends--my friend Michele, who works in Oshkosh and whose mom was part of the project I worked on at my last job; my former boss Peg, and my friend Tammy who was the only other health sciences outreach librarian in Wisconsin besides me (until we both switched jobs; now we are both in Consumer Health, albeit she is in Chicago at our regional medical library).

The classes were excellent, taught by some of the best teachers we have in our area, and the conference site was fabulous--if you're ever in Wausau, try to stay at the Stoney Creek Inn. We had a massive suite with a fireplace and big-screen TV, and the food was wonderful--every time we turned around, they were feeding us another snack. (I realize that makes us sound like baby birds or something...!) All the technology worked, and we were never too hot or too cold. That alone is pretty remarkable. You probably agree if you've been to a lot of conferences.

When I got back I had another phone message from an SCA friend. There is something so nice about talking to SCA friends on the phone. We get so hooked into e-mail in this organization, that it's hard to assimilate what it must have been like when there was no Internet to facilitate SCA communication. If you lost your copy of the newsletter, pre-Internet, you just plain didn't have a way to find directions to the next event. You probably had to dig out your most recent Shire or regional directory and call someone up and have them read you the directions. In the process you talked about whatever came into your head: the best restaurants to eat at on the way, who needs to be recommended for their award of arms, why So-and-so isn't a Laurel yet, who won the tourney two weeks ago, what kind of new songs you've been learning, whatever.

Maybe you were even offered a ride, so you could then move on to that most hallowed of SCA traditions: the long involved friendship-making talk in the car on the way to a faraway event. It still slays me that I drove everywhere alone for the first 2 1/2 years I was in the SCA. What the heck was I thinking? I guess I got so used to driving through northern Wisconsin alone for my work, that it was simpler to jump in the car and drive four hours away for the weekend, alone, as I had been during the week. Now, I try to give someone a ride, or ride with someone, whenever I can.

I do have to say that if I had not travelled for work, it would have taken me much longer to be comfortable traveling in the SCA. No such luck with camping, though. That, I had to get used to all on my own, no help from any other area of my life!

Time to put in some work on Bronislava's garb. A bientot.

Sunday, April 21, 2002

Went shopping this afternoon...not 'fun' shopping, which might mean surfing Amazon or other fun shopping sites, strolling down State St. in Madison, or sipping coffee while I page through the latest Coldwater Creek catalog looking for something I can afford. No, this was "oh-my-G-d-I-forgot-to-take-my-dry-cleaning-in-in-time-to-get-it-back-before-leaving-for-the-conference" shopping. At the mall. As my friend Chris says, "Oh, you mean, the college kid's fall-back: if I can just keep buying new clothes, I can avoid doing any laundry for a whole semester!" I'm not trying to avoid cleaning my clothes, I'm just forgetful.

So I spent two hours at Valley View Mall in Onalaska today, wondering why everything looks so much alike. There is even a line of clothing at JCPenney called "Uniform". They aren't uniforms, they are actually rather nicely made clothes. But the fact that anyone would name a clothing line "Uniform" just underlines that fact that everyone is supposed to look pretty much like everyone else these days. Makes me gag a bit. Just a bit. Then I realize that that particular periwinkle color that I absolutely love is still fully in vogue right now, and I can get anything I want in it: sweaters, dresses, skirts, shirts, shoes, even a bra and panty set....Sometimes, fashion is on my side. Infrequently, but still.

We had a Shire populace meeting at Hong Kong Buffet this afternoon, just as an experiment. Quite a few people had other committments and as a result, only six showed up and we fit easily at one table. It wasn't the most structured meeting we ever had, but it sure was fun.

Tonight, I made a few phone calls and did a little sewing (I did a fitting on Bronislava's dress after the meeting and she liked it--now I just have to finish it). I should probably get to sleep sooner rather than later. So, signing off.

Saturday, April 20, 2002

I'm not at the event in Nordleigh, but it's been an SCA weekend thus far nonetheless. Last night I arrived home from work at 5, checked my phone messages, then drove down to Coon Valley for dinner at DiSciascio's. (Had that amazing veal al francese, where they take the veal, bread it in egg batter, and drown the whole thing in butter/lemon/wine sauce. WOW. I just finished the leftovers and it's just as good the next day!) When I got back about two hours later, I had three phone messages from SCA friends--and before I could call any of them back, two more SCA people called. So I spent the next few hours talking to SCA friends! What could be better? Well, all right, I know what could be better.

Today I slept until 11, lay around in bed for an hour listening to Whad'ya Know, got up and had lunch, took a shower, checked my e-mail, and that brings us to now. I have lots of stuff to get done this weekend, but I haven't started on it yet. Bad, bad me...oh well. I'm having fun all the same. I think I may have some ice cream before I get to work.

There is supposed to be snow and sleet this weekend. I plan to be imperious and ignore it. What is this, North Dakota? In fact, I do believe this weekend is the 5th anniversary of when I was snowbound in my apartment for 48 hours with my Mom in Bismarck. Ask to hear that story. I am always happy to tell it. Telling stories about the bad old days always cheers me up.

Thursday, April 18, 2002

I'm not going to the event this weekend. Yes, it looks like fun. No, I don't have the heart for more driving, not after however many hundreds of miles last weekend, esp. since I am getting up early Monday morning for a conference in Wausau. And I have stuff to get done before Three Decades of Fish, the event on April 27 in Madison.

I'm really looking forward to that one--much singing is in the works. The Northshield Choir will be performing, plus there is a performance stage open all day and I promised to do ten minutes worth of music. No idea what I'll do. I'll see what feels best in my voice that day. Odds are also good that the Jararvellir Music Guild will be playing (it is, after all, Jararvellir's event) and that there may be a bardic post-revel of some sort. Being in Madison (actually Stoughton, but close enough!), singing lots, and being outdoors on a (hopefully) gorgeous Saturday, well, what could be better?

I wrote a new thing! (Actually I've written two new things recently, but the other is being reserved for Mistress Rosanore to debut at Coronet.) Someone posted to a bardic listserv I'm on, saying that they thought it would be fun to take their devices and blazon them in poetry. For those who don't speak herald-speak, a device is like a personal coat-of-arms that you wear on clothing, put on your belongings, paint on a banner, etc. The blazon is simply the heraldic words describing the device.

Once you have an Award of Arms, you refer to your device as your arms. And in the SCA, there is even a vast and nebulous College of Heralds that examines each device submitted, makes sure it follows heraldic rules and isn't too similar to someone else's, and grants their elusive approval--or sends it back complaining.

Virtually everyone on the list came up with something almost immediately. I also noticed that everyone treated it as a challenge, in the sense that we use the word 'challenge' in the Northshield: just see if you can come up with a response to the challenge, nobody's competing or picking apart anyone's work. This, I like. So, not wanting to be the only one not to take the challenge, I decided to jump in even though my device hasn't been submitted yet. (My friend Lady Aryanhwy said it would pass; she also said she had documentation for my name somewhere so I could send them in together, but we rarely cross paths at events these days. Maybe I'll see her in Jararvellir next weekend. I trust Ary on heraldic stuff--she just stepped down as Rouge Scarpe Herald of the Middle Kingdom.)

The blazon is: Azure, on a pale cotised argent, a gillyflower gules. (In English: A shield-shape with a blue background, with a thick white stripe down the middle, a skinny white stripe on either side of that, and a red spiky flower in the very middle of the big stripe.)

The poem:

On a field of brightest blue,
See a stripe of whitest hue:
Vertically it stands
With, on either side, a line
Of argent also, drawn up fine
Like two silken strands.

Blooms a flower, red as wine,
Narrow petals subtly shine,
Gillyflower clept,
In the center of the pale.
Heralds, prithee do not fail
My arms to accept.

I guess I'll have to change the last two lines if it ever gets accepted by the College of Heralds! Yeesh, thank goodness for RhymeZone Rhyming Dictionary, or I'd never have come up with a rhyme for 'clept'. Not looking forward to finding another...! (Maybe I can still use 'accept' in some way. We'll have to see. I'm not writing it until it passes--don't want to jinx things!)

In other news, Mr. Harr, my high school choir teacher, has found the blog entry I wrote about him back in June of 2001. Apparently his brother brought my webpage to his attention. Mr. Harr says that I managed to validate 25 years of his career for his brother! Well, I like to be helpful when I can...! I am mildly embarrassed to know that he has seen what I wrote (well...it is on the Internet for all to see, so I guess it was only a matter of time), but very touched and glad that it meant something to him. He had some lovely things to say and was very appreciative of my memories of his class. Apparently he is still doing the music thing, singing with the Detroit Concert Choir and occasionally filling in at area high schools in Grosse Pointe, MI. He ended up by saying, "Hope you keep making music." Oh, always and ever. Music is lifelong.

You can see I'm feeling better right now. The thing that triggered my blue days earlier this week is not going to go away, but I've done everything I can about it and now I just have to accept it. Sure doesn't seem quite so awful, though, with the passing of PMS time!

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

I feel better today, at least more productive. Don't worry about me, like I said.

Half-watching a MASH episode while I type. Hawkeye is being his normal alternately sarcastic and sweet self, towards a woman doctor from Sweden who is perceived as being controlling. Oh...now, just when they've agreed to stop feuding and have some sex, she has to leave. Why I'm telling you this, I'm not sure. I like MASH a lot more now than when it was first on. I don't think they make TV like that anymore.

Not sure yet whether I'm going to the event this weekend. We'll see whether I feel like it. I have some projects due at the event in a week and a half (garb for Bronislava, kumihimo tokens for Their Excellencies) and it wouldn't hurt to stay home and work on them, and get some serious good sleep. On the other hand, they're having a masquerade ball at the event. Oooo.

I don't know. For the past couple of years I have been convinced that every event I miss is a tragedy for me: all kinds of great things take place, all kinds of cool people are there, and I'm not! But for this weekend, I just can't summon up that feeling. I know it'd be a cool event to go to, but I can picture myself sleeping in, taking a long shower, sewing through the warm parts of the day, getting some reading in, then maybe going to a movie in the evening, or not. What's up with me, that I wouldn't want to drive only two hours to a nice fun little event like this?

I do feel depressed about missing Coronet, though. It'll be the first one I've missed since "ours" (yes, I still call it that, even though I no longer live in Falcon's Keep and anyway, Coronet is a Principality event and doesn't really belong to the hosting group), where I got my Award of Arms. All kinds of good memories from Coronets. I'm very sad about missing it. Even though Kontzel and Ruadhan's wedding will be very fun too.

So...way to grind to a halt. I think I have nothing more to type tonight. Sleep well.

Monday, April 15, 2002

My hormones are all out of whack today. I sort of feel part depressed, part paranoid, and part angry, with very little reason for any of them. Did you ever feel like, after you have waited your whole life for people to care what you thought, to listen when you talk, and to show a preference for your company, in the end it's all a joke, and they don't really care or respect you? That pity and irritation are really the main things people feel for you? And that anything honest you could say can only make it worse, ten times worse? Do you ever wonder whether you are doomed to let people down, and why you bother trusting yourself for even ten minutes?

Don't worry about me. I'll be okay once my period comes. I'm going to sign off before I say things I shouldn't say on my webpage.

Sunday, April 14, 2002

Good weekend. Went to an event Saturday in Eau Claire. The Shire there, Shattered Oak, surprised all of us by running a very successful and fun little event at a high school in town. This was their first event in awhile, from what I understand, and apparently the Shire has grown enough recently to provide plenty of hands to work. At least half the event staff, including the autocrat and feastocrat, had under 9 months of SCA experience behind them! Very, very cool.

I went to a class on Bardic Arts in the SCA by Mistress Wyndreth, which she meant to be sort of a free discussion on the topic. It was interesting: this was the second class taught by Wyndreth that I have attended, and the second class where one particular class participant seized the conversation and babbled on about her own narrow sphere of interest throughout the class (different participant this time, though). Poor long-suffering Wyndreth. She is so nice, so talented, so well-known, and so knowledgeable that she attracts all types, even the types who cannot keep their mouths shut during someone else's class...

They didn't have any entertainment set up for during Feast, so Ysolt and I put our heads together and came up with some stuff. She loves Owain Phyfe's music, and I knew "Since First I Saw Your Face" was one of her favorites--she sang it for head table at Boar's Head feast. So I suggested we do that in some sort of harmony. She didn't know it was a 4-part piece! (Blame Owain Phyfe, I guess, for taking a perfectly good 4-part homophonic madrigal and stripping it down to one melody line.) I had the music in my Bardic bag since we are doing it in the Northshield Choir this season.

We went out in the hall and discovered that if she does the soprano line in her range, and I do the alto line an octave up, it actually works pretty well. Because she has a louder voice than mine, people assume her line is the melody and I'm accompanying. A lady from Shattered Oak came up to me afterwards and said she thought the blend was lovely, and that the woman who sang alto had a wonderful full low voice. I had to break it to her that I was singing alto, and in this case, the wonderful full low voice was singing soprano!

Then Ysolt did "I'll See Your Six" and got lots of laughs in the right places, Benegar (her son) did a cute filk about cows, and I did "Bonny Portmore". Apparently Wyndreth had never heard me do that piece, because Sarra grabbed my arm afterwards when I had sat down, and said, "Look, Wyndreth's crying." No one has ever cried at anything I've sung before. I jumped up and gave her a huge hug. The ring she gave me at Hare Affaire feast last year for doing "Mose Salio de Misrayim" was cool. But tears are a far greater tribute as far as I'm concerned.

Her Dread Highness Aramanthra, while I was singing, paid some of the finest quality attention that I have ever seen. Remember how I feel about attention? It's one of the most precious things one person can give another. The people who are best at it, that I have seen anyway, are mostly Laurels (Aramanthra is a Laurel in cookery). I think when you receive your Laurel you must also have to take a class on 'paying rapt attention to people practicing the arts and sciences'.

In other news, I found out that many of the bards of the Known World--all right, many of the bards that I know in the Known World--will be descending on Northshield Coronet on May 4. People from as far away at Calontir and Ealdormere. Yet another reason to be sad that I'm not going. Don't worry, I am going to have a spy dispatched to take copious notes and, if he is true to his word, a friend from the eastern part of the Principality is going to videotape the Courts for me. (Court is my FAVORITE part of any event!)

I am, however, looking forward to Kontzel and Ruadhan's wedding, which is the reason why I am not going to Coronet. I went to Cross Plains today for a fitting of my bridesmaid's dress and was pleasantly impressed with the design. The gowns are dark green satin, jewel-neck, short-sleeved, and fitted through the bodice with pleats that open up at the waist and flare into the skirt. Somehow the pleats take all focus off the waistline and the belly. As I could have predicted (through long, long experience with buying and fitting clothing on myself), the shoulders were floppy on me, which worked out well because the neckline did not work--it was far too low, the neckline on the pattern having been re-drafted prior to delivery to the seamstress. So the seamstress pinned up the shoulders to where they should be, and voila--the neckline magically settled in an appropriate place.

What a lot of driving this weekend--I don't even want to guess how many miles. All worth it.

Thursday, April 11, 2002

Have gotten so much done recently, and none of it involves cleaning. Hmmm...

Last night I cut out all the rest of the parts of Bronislava's garb, and put together stuff for the event this weekend ("Come the Revolution" in Shattered Oak, mundanely known as Eau Claire, WI--apparently this is their first event in ages that wasn't simply the Principality coming in and running something that they decided to host. It should be a lot of fun.).

I also put together a kumihimo kit using some skeins of silk floss I had sitting in my craft box from the last time Jararvellir hosted Coronet--about a year ago if I remember correctly. Not too charmed with the floss. It's thick and plump, which means it makes a kumihimo braid that looks just plain chunky, as if it were meant for kindergarteners--which this particular kit may well be, but it shouldn't LOOK like it. Also it isn't very glossy, which sort of defeats the purpose of using silk in kumihimo--you want it to look shiny, like in the photos in the books. Finally, I didn't notice I was spending $2 a skein for only 3 yards of silk, which, since I was using 4 skeins for a 16-thread stitch, meant I had to cut down each thread to just a few feet. This braid will be barely long enough for a keychain. Oh well. Hopefully the person who gets it will be duly excited to get real silk...

I also finally sat down and wrote a handout to go with my kumihimo kits, with directions, diagrams, a bibliography, and ideas for using the finished product. Of course I am just now realizing, after having printed up three for existing kits, that I forgot to put a copyright notice on them. Well, they will just have to be public domain, huh? Anyway, I think they look nice and will hopefully be helpful for kids trying to make sense out of the kits they have just been given.

Someone on the Northshield Hall list posted this link to Lost in Translation, a cute service that translates English text into 5 foreign languages and back again to English in between each. Yahoo's Babelfish does the translating. This is really neat--the results page even shows you all the intervening steps so you can figure out where the translation process went seriously wrong. For example, I put in two lines from the chorus of one of my favorite of Mistress Marian of Heatherdale's songs, "Bow to the Crown":

Bow to the crown, bow to the throne,
Then bow to the one whose favor you own.

At the end, I got:

Surrounded with the part outpost, surrounded with the this thrones,
then also surrounded of this those the preference they have them.

At some point, I think starting in the French step and going on down the line, the system mistranslates 'bow' to 'loop' or 'circle' and then spins 'circle' into 'curved', thence into 'surrounding'. This is such a graphic depiction of the problems inherent in machine translation. I love it.

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Long day, longer week (which follows, logically, but it seems like longer than three days thus far). I spoke at a service club today (in a work capacity) and enjoyed presenting, but didn't like how they took the opportunity to recruit me. No less than three people came up to me to give me a pamphlet outlining all the great things about being part of this club, and tell me that I was always welcome to come back to the weekly breakfast meeting as their guest. Then I also got a mailing from them at work later today.

It was 7:30 in the morning while all of this was going on, and I was all doped up on fried potatoes, eggs, and breakfast meats. Otherwise I would have had the presence of mind to say, "You know, I'm already part of a local service club. Maybe you've heard of it? It's call the Society for Creative Anachronism. We teach community members about historical European arts and other medieval pursuits."

Reminds me of when I was in Bismarck, in reverse: I volunteered for three days in a row for the Jaycees' haunted house, which was in the basement level of a parking garage and, incidentally, very spooky and very well-done. Why? I didn't have anything better to do. At the end of three days, only one person actually talked to me at all, let alone discussed the possibility of my coming to a meeting. And that person was not my boss, who was originally my connection with the event. Maybe she felt uncomfortable recruiting someone she supervised. Having spent a year being supervised by this person, my feeling is that she just didn't like me enough to want me in the group. And the group in general just didn't understand how to use friendliness as a recruiting tool. Basically they sipped cocoa, stood around and discussed future fundraising plans while ignoring me. In the end I decided I didn't want to join (to be fair, part of this was that someone told me Jaycees came from J.C.'s, which stood for Junior Christians. Not me, boy.)

Sounds like I'm not happy one way, and I'm not happy the other, right? I don't like when they ignore me, and I don't like when they fawn all over me. You know what it is? I just don't like service clubs. They are granfalloons.

Remember the concept of the granfalloon, from Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut? I was a heavy Vonnegut reader in high school. Now I can't remember what most of it was all about. Evaporated. Poof. Cat's Cradle was my favorite, and I actually do remember a few concepts from that book. A granfalloon is a group of people who identify with each other for a reason which has nothing to do with their actual interests, substance, or natures. Vonnegut gives the example of Hoosiers, who are people from Indiana. Two Hoosiers meeting on a plane between California and New York will be so glad to meet up with each other, they will be practically trembling with excitement. These could be people who share no common interests, have no common acquaintances, and are nothing alike. They still consider themselves to be part of a group that means something to them, just because they both live in Indiana.

Service clubs are granfalloons. The only thing these people have in common is that they are all in a service club. They do a lot of nice things for the community, but nothing they do really stirs me; it all seems so humdrum, so let's-put-on-jeans-and-help-out-at-the-Little-League-game NORMAL. It simply doesn't interest me. It has no flavor.

You are welcome to consider me narrow-minded. But that's my opinion, and if you didn't want to read my opinion, you wouldn't be looking at my webpage. ;)

Sunday, April 07, 2002

In the SCA, one of my jobs is that I'm a Chronicler: that is, I do the newsletter for my small Shire. My friend Sarra, a fellow member of the Shire of Rokeclif, is showing a prodigious talent for what I would deem true Chronicling: writing down and making available information about the great deeds of those in the Society. In particular, she writes down the happenings at Court, where the Royalty of our Principality and Kingdom recognize SCA members for their accomplishments, and indulge in frequently hilarious, often touching shtick and monologues. I love Court and Sarra has caught the bug from me.

But of course she went me one step further: she writes down what's happening while she's there, and then makes her chronicles available on her webpage. Any good librarian knows, it doesn't matter how great the information is if no one can get to it. Talk about easy access! Her webpage is at: http://www.geocities.com/renzee364/index.html. Currently she has up some of her writings (including a lovely poem about our local camping event, Autumn Rose), and two court reports: Boar's Head in Dec. 2001, and Nordskogen Twelfth Night in January 2002. I have no doubt that more will follow. This stuff makes great reading if you were there, and even if you weren't, you can catch some of the flavor of what happened that day.

We did a rather nice La Crosse Chamber Chorale concert this afternoon. I noticed that the conductor (Paul) was really enjoying the live acoustics in the particular church where we did the concert. He was stretching out all the last notes for double the normal amount of time, listening to the quality of the sound. In most pieces this merely irritated me (I need to budget breath at the end of a song; adding time to the last note means it's iffy whether I will have enough breath to make it until he cuts us off). But we really nailed "Weep, O Mine Eyes", which is my favorite of the many English Renaissance madrigals. And as Paul pulled the last note on...and on...and on...it was like time stopped: no rhythm, no more looking ahead to the next measure, wondering what I was going to have for dinner, getting distracted by audience members coughing; Paul had even stopped waving his arms and was just drawing out the note with one hand.

Miraculously I had enough breath, and along with the breath I felt a kind of peace well up. It was like a tiny reprieve from thinking ahead or back. Just for that moment, as long as the chord lasted, I didn't need to worry or think or know about anything else. Nothing else mattered but riding on this wave of sound. I suddenly realized, "Oh--THAT'S what people mean when they say we should live in the moment, be present." I was present. Normally I have no talent for that. It was an unexpected and sublime moment.

Next time I complain about what a time drain choir is, somebody remind me of why I do this, huh?

Anyway...I've been doing e-mail stuff all evening. I should probably go around and make sure all my clocks are changed, then get some sleep.

Thursday, April 04, 2002

Spring cleaning time, mostly during the day today, but also at home. I will have to get the home cleaning done a little at a time, but I started with part of the kitchen tonight. Really, I should be doing a little cleaning every day anyway, so this is the way to go. Now, if it would just stop snowing.

Actually it didn't snow at all today, for a change, but it's still cold enough that it's on the ground and it isn't going anywhere. It's time to feel springy, dammit. Where is my SPRING?

Found some lightweight turquoise linen on Phoenix Textiles' website tonight and, gosh darn it, I broke my New Years' resolution by buying 6 yards for a Pennsic tunic. Hey, now, don't yell at me, it says it has an extremely soft hand! Where does one need soothing fabric more than Pennsic, the ultimate medieval sensory overload event? Maybe I should just but a dozen yards and swaddle myself and my living space in it at all times.

Speaking of Pennsic, we got our Pennsic books in the mail today--only people who went last year get them. These are the little booklets laying out policies, rules, activities, etc. for this year's Pennsic War near Slippery Rock, PA. How neat is that? You know you've arrived in the SCA, not when you go to your first Pennsic, but the next April when you are one of the 13,000 lucky people who get a personal mailing inviting you back. ;)

Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Huzzah for my friend Lady Rochl from Jararvellir, for webbing her Dance Seminar photos! That's me holding the music for the impromptu singing of "Belle Qui Tiens Ma Vie". I love the fact that, after several years of singing that piece whenever it is danced at any event, I can no longer sing it alone: people come up behind me and sing along. In that particular case we even had multiple parts: Chandler is singing tenor, and Tsire from Calontir and a nice Lady from Pentamere are singing alto, while me, Chiara the Pink, Alienor, and Eve are singing soprano.

I also love the last photo. Yes, our future Princess carries around a blue stuffed animal of the large blue Monsters Inc. variety as her bodyguard. And he is armed with a spoon. And: notice the Viking chest that is now traditionally used by the Lord and Lady Heir to the Northshield. This was Toki's work, made for the first Falcon's Keep/Rokeclif Arts & Sciences Challenge in 2000, and the woodburned compass star plaque attached to the side is my work. I was never that great at durable goods (wood, metal, etc.) but I am proud of that little plaque. It took almost as long to draw as it did to burn. And it proved to me that yes, high school kids DO need to pay attention in geometry class; at some point you will want to draft something with scientific precision, and it will be so gratifying to realize that not only do you still have the compass and the protractor, you still know how to use them. ;)

Lord Virithos (a Northshield exile, just over the border in the Midlands) has also put up his photos of the event I missed this past weekend, Road to the Isles up in Mistig Waetru in northern Michigan. The King and Queen were there--this was their last visit to the Northshield this reign; they are stepping down April 13. I wanted to go, but couldn't think of a reason--besides a fun event with nice people--that I would need to be there the week after I autocratted Dance Seminar, and besides, that's a honking long drive from here!

I see that the proto-incipient Shire of Skerrstrand, from Marquette, MI presented themselves to the King and Queen, which is neat-o. I have been hanging out on their listserv and am so impressed. Do you know, on that one busy weekend in May (Mermaids and Quest), two of their members have decided to eschew the "local" event (three hours away) and put in an appearance at Quest for Camelot in Schattentor, in Western South Dakota. That's maybe an 11-hour drive from here--and Skerrstrand is perhaps 6 or 7 hours further northeast from where I am. Wish I could offer them crash space, since I'm on the way, but I will be out of town at the Medical Library Association conference.

I think that's SO cool that they are going to drive 18 hours to be at Quest. What better way to demonstrate the Northshield's vastness than to travel it? I advised them to put up a HUGE sign saying, "Proto-Incipient Shire of Skerrstrand, Marquette, Michigan", with a smaller sign underneath, "We're from REALLY far away!"

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