Sunday, July 27, 2003
New! Hot! Happenin'!
Or, Perhaps Provence

This weekend, instead of doing the things I promised myself I'd do (yes, I know, I wasn't going to put pressure on myself...I'll work on that), I made a couple of additions to this site:

I promised some folks that I would also put up my class handout from my "Building a Bardic Book" class. Gimme time, I'll get to it. That one will take more time/effort because it's already mostly web links, so I'll need to check each one as I go.

This week: the White Birch and some garbmaking, and if I have extra time, some more tokens for Princess Astrid.

In other news, I had a fun conversation with my mom this evening about a trip we might take. We're looking at a specific tour in Provence (the southeast part of France), which I like because it looks like you get personal attention, lots of free time, you don't have to eat some kind of pre-planned meal with the rest of the travelers every night, it's got a good mix of shopping/walking/museums/medieval stuff, and, well, it's Provence. I like its history as well as its more modern aspects. It's reputedly absolutely gorgeous, with olive groves and lavender fields and medieval castles and copious sunlight. And my mom and I both speak the language. Well, sorta. We've both forgotten more French than most Americans will ever know...!

We'll see how this pans out; we have some time to decide, since we're looking at Fall 2004 for this trip. I like the idea of having something special to look forward to in a year--besides Northshield's first Coronation, that is. (We aren't booking this trip until a date for Coronation has been selected! There is no earthly way I would miss that.)



Friday, July 25, 2003
Taking it easy
Or, Eliane acquires her dream gown

I've been taking it easy the last couple of weeks. What I said in April about pushing myself too hard? It's true. I'm realizing it more and more each day. Coming home and being able to say to myself, "Now, sit for awhile, read, watch TV, whatever", now that leads to some very civilized evenings. It didn't do me any good to watch each evening's minutes like a hawk, reminding myself of all the things I could be getting done, and when I got one thing done, I'd keep reminding myself of the other things I should have done. There's no winning with that attitude.

My favorite maxim: Cut others the slack you would like others to cut for you. I'm discovering that it works backwards too: Cut yourself the slack you believe should be cut for others. I wouldn't pressure any other living being to the extent that I've pressured myself for years. It would be ludicrous--and I'd probably be jailed for harassment.

Anyway...! Countdown a little over two weeks until I leave for Pennsic. I've already started packing, just because I like the feeling of having a large task begun early. Socks, undies, and toiletries are nestling in the large Rubbermaid, waiting to be covered with layers of chemises. And I'm starting a grocery list for edibles to bring with me.

I'm still brainstorming about what garb to bring, but since I'm driving alone and staying alone in my tent, I'll have more room than I have in past years to transport and store garb. (Yes, I'm bringing the portable clothing rack. I mean, really. A person doesn't leave handmade linen garb languishing on the dewy ground in the corner of one's tent.) I do have the new red linen Italian gown from Peacock Designs, with the black trim, to satisfy the requirement that we wear red and black at the Known World Choir performance (don't ask, it's something about a Vlad the Impaler theme).

I also recently acquired Peacock's Pyramus and Thisbe gown, a gown I have coveted for a couple of years every time I visited their website. By pure chance, the buyer happened to put it up for sale on eBay during a week when I was paying attention, and I managed (despite a few fellow bidders who seemed very avid to buy it) to have the winning bid. I didn't even spend that much on it--half what I spent on my Felix Needleworthy gown four years ago, if that gives Northshielders a ballpark idea.

And it's gorgeous. Simply incredibly gorgeous. It's a little rumpled in spots, but the velveteen is particularly crush-resistant and it doesn't smell or have stains. It's about two sizes too big for me, but I have been walking past it (it's hanging on my laundry closet door) for the last few days and considering options for altering it. I think the most practical way to solve the main three problems (too big around waist/bust, too big at shoulders, too loose in sleeves) is to remove the sleeves, take in the sleeve seam, tuck the shoulders, and take an inch or so off each side seam before re-attaching the sleeves. This will mean scrunching some of the side pleats together, but it looks like the seamstress left some extra space between the side pleats anyway, perhaps for this very purpose.

Needless to say, it won't get done before Pennsic. But who would want to wear dark red velveteen at Pennsic? (Watch, now we'll have four days in a row with 50 degree weather, hail, and people ending up at the chirurgeons' with hypothermia. This may also happen if I don't manage to get my wool cloak cleaned before Pennsic.)

I'm also hoping to work on a gown for the raffle at Autumn Rose before I leave for Pennsic, though it probably won't be done by then (I'll have a couple weeks afterwards to get it finished, too). I bought bright cherry red linen at SR Harris awhile back, planning a light Pennsic gown for myself, but in the light of day I discovered it was just a little too bright for comfort. Not fluorescent, but getting there. So I'll try out one of the commercial patterns I have, a princess-seamed square-necked thingy with big drapey sleeves, adding some gold lace and white/gold celtic knot trim, and it'll be one of our big-ticket items at the raffle.

May I remind my readers: have you been to The Hunger Site and its associated charity sites recently? Just by visiting the page and clicking on the buttons, you can give food to the hungry, help fund mammograms to detect breast cancer early, help fund health care for needy kids, preserve the rainforest, and feed animals in shelters. Plus they have cool things to buy; just by purchasing them, you earn more money for whichever cause you pick. My favorite is the Jungle Chocolate, which is crunchy chocolate nibs flavored with cane sugar, with your choice of brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, or pineapple. Individual bags are at the bottom of the page. They are doing freebies right now where you receive one or two small bags with various purchases, so it's not as expensive as it seems. Go shopping!




Monday, July 14, 2003
The magic comes home
Or, An event of firsts

Was there ever an event that is more home than W&W? The bardic performances flowed endlessly, the trees sighed around us, the moon lit up our bardic books and the visitors were darned impressed. It never got hot or cold. The sky was blue all day and starry all night. The bugs were logy and the mosquitoes had poor appetites. I had the tent to myself because Sarra was day-tripping. There was never anything in the world more delicious than Alissende's beef stew, and never better company than her and her solid, sardonic son. The wooden showers were incredibly luxurious. My new blow-up bed doesn't leak. How many hugs, how many new songs, how many tasks accomplished and choral pieces learned and awards given and wonderful conversations with friends old and new, can be packed into one weekend? I found out at W&W.

I now have a new apprentice sister, Robina, and my friend Giles is now squired to our next Prince of the Northshield. I also will soon have a student of my own, who surprised me with immediate, heartfelt and well-rehearsed acceptance when I brought up the idea. (Hi, Colin.) I'll be feeling my way through this student thing, esp. with how unconventional my relationship with my Laurel is. Basically I just want to be there for Colin and help him accomplish his goals, and learn from him. I'll give him my attention and see where it goes. And yes, if we do decide to do some sort of formal announcement or ceremony, I'll find a more lyrical way to state all that. ;)

A first: Sunday morning I was talking to Robina and suddenly turned my attention to a pendant hanging on a green cord around her neck. "Where did you get that?" I asked. "Isabella put it around my neck last night." I grinned at her and said, "I made that. That's one of my beaded tokens." And it was. It was one of the ones with the neat jade squares and the elaborate vermeil pendants at the bottom. Oddly, it was one I had made for Tarrach and Fina in red, green, and gold, so I'm not sure how Isabella got hold of it unless she got it from them. This was the first time I had ever seen one of my pendants around anyone's neck.

Robina immediately said, "Oh, I'm sorry, do you want it back?", proving again that she is one of the nicest people on the face of the earth. I laughed and said, "Never. They don't come back to me, they're gifts, and I can't think of anyone else I'd rather see get one."

Another first: Late Friday afternoon I went over to talk to Owen and found Mysie and Anje doing calligraphy/illumination at an improvised workshop on the ridge over the sand pond, with a nice view of the battlefield. I averted my eyes, figuring they were doing confidential Court scrolls. But after a few minutes of talking to Owen nearby, Mysie called to me, "Do you want to see what I'm doing with one of your scroll blanks?" Long story short: Viscount Sir Raito has received the bunny scroll blank as a King's Chalice scroll. I started crying when I read it and realized what it would be used for. I really did envision it as a simple Award of Arms scroll or maybe a Purple Fret. I am so honored.

I also finally got my Purple Fret scroll, the one figuring in the May 18 post below. It had traversed the Principality to get to me; Kudrun mailed it to Fiskr in South Dakota to see if I could get it at Quest, but it didn't arrive in time. It's a Mare Am scroll: Lady Malin and Lady Amye did it! It's a wonderful little piece.

Every evening, the bardic circle lasted until the wee hours in the morning. I don't know quite why W&W bardic circles are so wonderful. This year we can perhaps blame it on the stars, the full moon, the visitors from Calontir, the enthusiastic participation of several people who don't always prioritize bardic circles, but should; the Northern lights on Friday night, and Dahrien's expert patronage and coordination of W&W bardic activities. The fool who stumbled into my very first bardic circle at W&W four years ago, doing the world's most convincing imitation of a drunk, to sing his "Pickled Fish" song, is now doing some pretty sophisticated bardic administration--coming up with challenges, keeping a consistent bardic space organized and publicized, maintaining a constant presence at all bardic activities, and good-naturedly nudging things in the right direction when needed.

For all these reasons, I have asked Dahrien to serve as my Deputy Provost of Bardic Madness. This was something that popped into my head a few weeks ago; I waited to see how his role at W&W would go, then asked him Sunday. He mulled it over, then said yes. I didn't consult Owen first, but when I told him, he said a) it was a great idea and b) it's my prerogative to make these decisions now. It was very empowering to hear that. And it's good to officially have Dahrien's assistance as well as his interest in taking over if I should step down. I like it when I can see the future of a project laid out in front of me like a highway, and it seems to be paved with friendship and success.

It's hard to be back in mundane life after such an event. In fact I got a bit teary at one point Sunday morning, to see tents being taken down and people driving off, perhaps not to be seen again until next year's W&W. But the good thing about this event is that it strengthens Northshield's sense of coherence as a family, and that won't fade when the event is over. It just gets stronger every year. When we are there, we feel the power and beauty of home, and we all take that with us when we go. I've said it before and I'll say it again: the true gift of this weird medieval hobby of mine is the people. We are tied to the land, yes, but what really matters is what we do on it. We work, we sing, we fight, we laugh, we hug, we cry, we are proud and opinionated and loving and talented and compassionate and brave.

How did I get lucky enough to be a part of all this?




Friday, July 04, 2003
Celebrating Independence day MY way
or, That's more than I need to see of His Majesty

Like last weekend, I'm spending much of this weekend at home. I know, I know, the King is on progress in our neighboring Shire of Silfren Mere (Rochester, MN), but apparently they all assumed that since the visit was on a weekday, only locals would want to come. Bear in mind that it is the 4th of July. Weekday yes, workday NO. So, thanks to a friend's efforts in contacting the Royal Chamberlain, I found out at 12:03 today that the Silfren Mere progress visit is a t-shirt-and-shorts barbeque gathering somewhere west of Rochester--starting at 11 am. Sheesh, does me a lot of good.

Oh well. I don't know that I would have wanted to travel 2 hours one-way just to see the King in shorts.

So today is a staying-in, getting-things-done day. Not that I don't observe Independence Day. I celebrated the holiday last night by having Middle Eastern food at The Elite (in honor of the many varied ethnicities of Americans!), then coming home and having a reading binge (thanks to our valuable freedom of speech, leading naturally to the freedom to read!). Both things I might have done on any given pre-holiday evening, but let's invest them with patriotic meaning just for kicks.

Tomorrow I am finally going to visit Musicmaker's in Stillwater, which I have been hoping to get to for years. Their beautiful hognose plucked psaltery has always attracted me; now I want to hold one in my arms and play it, and see if I truly want one. They're not horribly expensive, but with the things I should probably purchase along with it (an instrument case, an extra set of strings, etc.) it starts to add up. Hence the fact that I haven't simply ordered by mail. Too much $$ involved to buy without trying first.

I plan some shopping and eating in Stillwater, possibly a visit with a friend, and coming home Sat. night. I haven't been to Stillwater in ages--I'm remembering an outfit I got there, that's been retired for several years now; that would place my last visit somewhere in 1998 or so. While at my last job, I was regularly visiting some of the northern Wisconsin tourist towns; there wasn't really a need to go all the way to Stillwater, which is in MN. But now, I fear I'm suffering from withdrawal from cute touristy downtown chotchke shops. I'm not impressed by the ones in La Crosse, and I didn't really have time to appreciate the ones in San Diego when I was there--which was my first conference in a year. It's time to hie me to Stillwater.

In other news, I have updated my Books Page slightly (or I will have, in all likelihood, by the time you read this), to reflect some of my recent reading.







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