Monday, May 24, 2004
Hope springs eternal
Or, I think we are often meant to be where we are at any given moment
I slept in today, went to Teaism for lunch, then went to two sessions (including one on consumer health collaboration which was excellent, and one on Iraqi libraries which made me want to go out and buy medical textbooks and send them there). Then, to La Tomate for dinner with a very fun dine-around group, then wandered back to the hotel and wondered what to do this evening. Available movies didn't look good; I had seen Stateside last night and nothing else looked interesting. On my way down to check my e-mail, I ran into my roommate, who tried to convince me to go to the OVID-sponsored dance party in one of the big ballrooms, but I told her I really wanted to check my e-mail and I was tired enough not to want to dance.
So a half-hour later, I was still trying to figure out what to do with my evening. I wandered over to the OVID party out of sheer desperation and stood just inside the door, watching people dancing. (It's fun to watch librarians dance. Some of them actually can dance. It's not a high percentage but it's growing over the years.) A medical librarian from one of the Madison hospitals, someone who hadn't been at the WHSLA conference last month so I hadn't seen her in awhile (but with whom I was friendly from past conferences), came up to me to invite me to dance and ask how I was. I didn't feel like dancing so I demurred, but asked her how things were, and we talked a bit (with difficulty over the loud music). She mentioned that things are a little crazy at her library, with a big construction project looming and having just been told that the library may be moving.
At this point, three minutes into the conversation, it dawns on me that this is one of three major medical centers in Madison, and the only one into whose consumer health plans I have not inquired. Duh. So I asked if the move/reconfiguration will involve any consumer health services. She said "Yes, actually..." and gave me a look like it might be too complex to go into while we were shouting over loud techno music. So I said I'd give her a call after we were both back in Madison. She said I should definitely do that. She was getting motioned out to the dance floor by friends at that point, so I let her go and walked back out of the party--after spending a grand total of four minutes, but making a contact I really, really needed to make.
I am so pleased with myself...even if it never pans out.
Now: I'm going to go upstairs and read and snuggle with Colleen, who is very tippy without her voice box (it's her center of gravity) but really wanted to come with me on this trip, so she agreed to leave it behind. Every time housekeeping makes up the room, they put her gently at the top of the bed in the cleft between the pillow. She feels very well-cared-for!
Saturday, May 22, 2004
From the Barony of Storvik
Or, I haven't shopped yet!
Not seriously, anyway. I wonder if there's something wrong with me.
I'm at the annual Medical Library Association conference, this year in Washington, DC, home of many lawmakers, many museums and increasing numbers of Starbucks Coffee outlets. It's hot but not muggy, and neither in the conference space; the room is humid, but livable. I like being coldish while I sleep. It is not coldish in this room.
So far the conference is your average conference. This morning I took a class on communications strategies in consumer health services, with a teacher I already knew (I had taken other classes with her in the past, and she is the column editor for my Journal of Hospital Librarianship article).
Michele was an excellent teacher as usual, and although I seemed to have more consumer health experience than most of the people in the class, I still learned a lot and found it interesting. I guess I never thought about the fact that people who have been medical librarians for ages and are used to doing pretty straightforward searches and ILL for doctors and hospital employees, are going to be flummoxed the first time someone comes into their new consumer health library and says, "I just found out I'm going to die. There's nothing they can do. I need you to find me a treatment." People would read the teacher's examples and say, "Oh my g-d, do people really DO that to you?"
I had to laugh (privately) because Michele had obviously culled only the more horrid tales for class examples. You know, the guy who asks about aphrodisiacs and then leans over and sniffs you and says, "You seem like the type of person who likes sex...lots of sex...", or the woman who reads that a certain disease is actually much more serious than she realized and bursts into tears at your reading room table. The really tough-to-deal-with stuff. But you know, we do have to talk about it. Sharing horror stories can be helpful and cathartic. Then people who are new to consumer health can go on and open their consumer health libraries and hopefully face their own fears, at least in the face of what their patrons are going through. I always felt that it was fine if I was freaked out by a patron or his/her request, but I needed to show a professional side to the patron because in all likelihood, they were even more freaked out at that moment than I was. Do they need me gibbering and stammering all over the place? I think not.
Anyway, the large and businesslike Washington Hilton (which doesn't get a link because they're charging $245/night once you include tax) is nice. Everything seems fairly logically and comfortably laid-out for the conference, though I did get lost in the exhibits earlier this evening. (It's okay. I got free.) My roommate is from Singapore and has been studying at the University of Pittsburgh for the last few months. She is extremely nice and has some interesting observations on American culture. I don't think she gets Colleen, but then, few people do. ;) She gave me a neat supplement to Mom's birthday gift. I won't say what it is here, but I've never seen one before.
Marcy & John (Marcy was too young when I was born to be called "Aunt Marcy", and to this day she and her husband are just "Marcy & John" even though they are 20 years older than me) took me out this afternoon, to lunch at a hotel and then to the Sackler Gallery where there was a wonderful exhibit on decorative arts in medieval Islamic Spain. Owen sent an e-mail this morning recommending it, just in time--I printed out info during the class break and we went. Check out the ivory pyxis on the main page. It's twice as stunning in person. There were dozens of different types of painted pottery, elaborately woven silk, and four gorgeous illuminated manuscripts of various types (a Christian antiphonal, Hebrew micrography in knotwork formations, and gold ink scrollwork). It was definitely worth a visit. It made me want to paint.
It's after 11 and I have a 7:30 CAPHIS executive committee meeting tomorrow, so I'm going to head upstairs where I'm sure my roommate is already asleep.
Thursday, May 20, 2004
Back from the cold
Or, Camping to conferencing in one week flat
Early last week I had this feeling. It was quite strange. It said, "We gotta go to Quest for Camelot." I'm used to making somewhat spur-of-the-moment plans; I'm just not used to some inchoate inner feeling telling me to do so. So I figured, all right, let's see what I can do.
Long story short: I dumped my plans to day-trip with Eithni and Iohanna to Midrealm Coronation, and embarked on a 6-day round-trip odyssey to western South Dakota. In mid-May. With friends who were kind enough to put me in their Jeep alongside their 5 1/2-month-old baby boy and drive me 10 hours each way, plus putting me up at their home in Rochester for a night on either end. To a Wesleyan church camp just outside of Rapid City, where an unheated room awaited me.
I make it sound so bleak! It was truly a lovely event. The new site is closer to town and has better indoor spaces, including a homey feast hall and fully-appointed, plush-seated auditorium for Court. Though it was about 45 degrees the first night (and not much warmer the second), I had brought plenty of blankets and I didn't freeze, though I would have been wise to bring my electric heater. And the rain didn't begin until early morning Sunday. During the day Saturday it must have gotten into the 70's and the sun shone.
Saturday morning I took the pilgrimage, which was arranged by a fellow I hadn't met before who walked us down the gravel road, regaling us with tidbits of information about pilgrimages and what we might have seen/done on the road. Christian and I sang "Stella Splendens", and Mistress Rowan from the Outlands sang some pilgrimage songs she knew. Master Julio's new lady took a dramatic turn as "the woman slain by brigands"; a guy popped out of the woods carrying a club and pretended to kill her. I thought I could save her by offering her a "magic biscuit" (I had key lime meringues in my basket); she thanked me, but didn't get up, so we had to leave her behind. Then she materialized by the side of the road on the way back with her hands clasped in prayer, playing a saint. ("It's a miracle!")
The pilgrimage was an interesting re-creative exercise, though short (about half an hour). While we were walking, I had a couple of magic moments where I felt like I could have been on a real pilgrimage in the 1400's. Except, of course, when a car would come down the road, and the leader would announce, "Carriage..." *sigh*
I was worried there wouldn't be enough bardic folks there, since many who had come last year couldn't make it; I needn't have worried. (We even got Count Tarrach to hang out at the circle late Friday night; I sang Willie of Winsbury and he sang along quietly, then enthusiastically praised my version. Wish I could take credit--it's 97% Connie Dover.) Ingus, Aleksandre, Colin and Charissa, Christian, Fiona, Mistresses Rowan and Guernen from the Outlands, and several newbies rounded out the bardic fun. And when we arrived at the circle Friday night, who should I find there but Owen, my own Laurel, who after telling me Wednesday he probably couldn't make it, hopped a Friday afternoon plane and showed up without telling anyone!
Some of the fun bardic moments weren't even at the bardic circle. I got to sing for Her Majesty of the Outlands (which song? Well, Viscountess Elashava was attending Her when I walked up. So, guess which one Shava requested.) At Court, Tarrach led "Lifeblood", which got everyone singing. We sing in groups a lot in the Northshield, but not usually en masse. It's an inspiring sound.
Ingus, with whose family I had ridden to the event, presented a poem to His Majesty of the Outlands, on the theme of "why the Stag and Griffin fight". It was beautifully done and read, and appears to have triggered two remarkable happenings: Prince Hrodir spontaneously named Ingus as the Bard of the Northshield, and King Giovanni declared that the Outlands would fight at Pennsic not for the Midrealm, but for Northshield (which fights for the Midrealm, so it's kind of six of one, a half-dozen of the other, except that it's a big symbolic gesture). Owen said, eyes gleaming, that Northshield had had household allies at Pennsic before, but never an actual Kingdom. It was amazing to see it happen.
I also had a nice time hanging out with Ingus and his wife Katja and baby Ian. Ian is this butterball baby with fuzzy blond hair, an intermittent grin and an insatiable appetite, followed inevitably by spitting up on everything in close range. I was glad to be able to help out by holding the bottle in the back seat so Katja didn't have to break her shoulder blade leaning back from the front seat. He did a lot of sleeping, a lot of staring entrancedly at me (and Aleksandr when he joined us on a Chinese food/ice cream run Friday night), and an astounding amount of eating. Overall he's a very good baby--just demanding in that way that babies are: he wants attention, he wants food, he wants to be changed. Like his parents, he didn't seem to care if he was cold; they are both walking furnaces. I'm sure they were warmer than I was at night, and they were camping.
Anyway, I had some wonderful conversations with Ingus and Katja. The driving seemed to fly by. We listened to Hector's Red Album and the new Ealdormere Bardic Kitchen Party CD, and sang and ate cookies and enjoyed the baby. They invited me to ride with them for next year--I hope this means I wasn't too much of a burden.
I still don't know why I was at Quest. I was hoping some great happening would drop out of the sky and prove that I was fated to go on this trip and be out-of-town unexpectedly for nearly 6 days. No such luck. Now I'm not that much of a metaphysical person, but it's still mildly disappointing, to hear the call so clearly and then never find out why it was so important that I go. Maybe it'll become obvious with time?
Anyway, I do have to say that I'm glad to be back (and warm). I've slept entirely too much over the last few days, but still managed to spend some time enjoying/cleaning the apartment (yes, I still love it) and running errands, including getting a haircut. Not a bad idea, considering it had been three months since my last one, and I'm leaving Friday morning for the Medical Library Association conference, where even if I don't intend to look employed (No suits! None! They're staying home!), I do want to look at least halfway well-groomed.
Tomorrow afternoon I leave for Milwaukee, where I'm going to spend an evening doing some of the world's most serious bead shopping at the Marketplace Preview at the Bead & Button Show. This will be my first time going; I'm not going to any classes, but I'm sure I'll spend more than I ought to at the Marketplace. Five hours of trillions of beads! I can't wait.
No concrete plans for my time in Washington, DC. I'll hang out with my Aunt Marcy and Uncle John on Saturday after my CE class--that should be fun. I've been to DC a couple of times in the last five years, so there's nothing that I have been waiting ages to see. (I still have my costume notes/sketches from my last visit to the National Gallery, which has an unparallelled collection of Italian Renaissance art.) I plan to do a lot of winging it, have some good meals, be a good little CAPHIS Secretary, and generally enjoy myself.
One of the great things about going to library conferences is that no self-respecting professional organization would deny its conference attendees Internet access. In fact it's usually very nice comfy Internet access, available 24 hours. So, don't stop e-mailing me--I'll get it, I just might not have time to write back.
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
I have acquired a 'ship!
Or, Weekend of significant happiness
Northshield's first Crown Tourney/Investiture: it was Friend Soup. Just about everyone in the Principality I care about, and some from outside the Principality, were there. Windhaven's stroke of genius was in holding the event at a combined hotel/conference center, where 800 people could hole up together for the weekend and ignore the rainy weather. The Regency Suites has a cavernous atrium, with all the rooms arrayed vertically around it; attendees brought their personal, household, and group banners and hung them from the railings.
It's hard to describe the feeling at this event. You know how after W&W you have this feeling that the Northshield lives and breathes, that it's home and not just some artificial construct? Well, it went up a notch at Crown. The music was that much better. Court was huge--Royalty from Ansteorra, Calontir, and Ealdormere joined the regular bunch on the dais. The hotel has a Victoria's--so lunch was not just lunch, it was a homecoming to my favorite Italian restaurant in the world. The choir sounded more solid than usual. The tourney hall was decked with banners, not just tacked up on the walls wherever anyone could reach, but hung from the rafters (including a beautifully printed set of three banners in tribute to the Bards of Northshield, with excerpts from a dozen bardic pieces).
Everyone seemed a notch more excited, happier to see everyone. The hugs weren't just hugs, they were a silent "Do you believe we're actually here?". Strangers in the elevator became friends by the time they reached their floors. Papa and T'ressa stopped in the hallway while I was sitting with a friend, just to pinch my cheeks and call me pretty. Almost every set of Royalty and every set of combattants/consorts had a herald to shout or sing their praises as they processed in. The seneschals of all of Northshield's groups marched in after the new Prince and Princess, looking prouder than I'd ever seen them. Even people I know as relatively cynical were looking downright giddy.
The tourney? Well, you know I'm not much for tourneys. I have a lot of trouble identifying fighters and telling when a blow has landed. To me it's guys hitting at each other, the noise of blows, and then eventually someone falls over. But this tourney...we were all there. Owen once pointed out the "one-narrative" aspect of the last few bouts of a Coronet Tourney. We're all there, we're all witnessing history, and it exists because of us. It's a principle we both apply to Bardic Madness; that's why nothing is scheduled to conflict with the challenge periods.
We were all there. We watched as three Viscounts (one also a Count) and one Wild Card (as Mikey so charitably put it) fought for the chance to be Northshield's first King. The tension was high while the Wild Card was still in. I kept turning around in my chair because it was giving me a tummyache to watch. Once he was out, the entire room took a collective deep cleansing breath and looked with delight on the final two: Tarrach and Siegfried, knights held in great esteem by all.
I looked around; I happened to be sitting with the Jararvellir contingent. I asked someone near me: "Well, what's the hope? Do we want a Jararvellir reign?" They answered me with the old Madison Muskies salute, applause with the arms held out in front, with the hands held horizontally, one on top of the other, with a chanted "Let's go fish!". All right. The Barony's happy.
I looked up and Siegfried leveled the killing blow. The Barony shouted; the Principality applauded and yelled. Jararvellir became a happier and prouder place. And Northshield knew their future first King and Queen: Sir Siegfried von Kulmbach and Baroness Bridei nic Gillechattan. This man was the first Prince I knew in the SCA! "Prince Ticklemonster", who gave Daffydd and Gwyneth's Ian his Dragon's Treasure at my very first event. (Ian, now about a foot taller, stood as retinue behind Siegfried in Court that night.) How could the day get any better?
Hear the words and will of their Draconic Majesties, Alasdair and Guenievre. Long and often have we heard of the skill and sharing that Eliane Halevy hath demonstrated in the Bardic Arts through her beautiful voice, gentle demeanor and eager sharing of her knowledge, so do We this day invite her into Our Order of the Evergreen. Done by our hands on this Eighth day of May, Anno Societatis XXXIX, at Northshield's First Crown Tourney, in Our Barony of Windhaven.
This was given to me during evening Court at Crown/Investiture this past Saturday, by the hands of Alasdair and Guenievre themselves. This is a grant-of-arms-level Order and so...yeeps, I have changed rank. I used to be a Lady. Now I am an Honorable Ladyship. The really cool thing is that Alasdair gave me both (I got my Award of Arms from Alasdair and Isabelle at Their last Principality Court as Prince and Princess of the Northshield, in 1999).
No, the really cool thing is that I have wanted this for awhile now, but they caught me during a moment when I was not thinking how nice it would be to be called up. It was a long Court in a day of two long Courts. I was sitting with my friend Dolan from Calontir, up front as usual. During Principality Court they had called up the Order of the Crwth to hand out these really beautiful hand-cast pewter Crwth badges that Christian had commissioned from Dahrien. Then they inducted Fiona of the Harp, which was cool.
So I was sitting and idly playing with my new Crwth badge and trying to think where I'll display it. (I stitched it to my Interchangeable Bardic Hat, at least temporarily.) And then they called me up. I have only sporadic memories after that. The Queen hugging me for a long time. Getting my scroll, which is set in a handmade wooden bardic book with a leather spine and latch. Seeing a camera flash and thinking, "Oh good, someone's getting a picture of this". Turning around and wondering where all that applause was coming from. Going down to my seat and being ambushed as I sat down, by Sarra, unable to keep from hugging me right away. An Evergreen behind me welcoming me to the Order. Remembering about twenty minutes later that the Queen had put a necklace around my neck; fishing the pendant out from my cleavage to discover a delicate golden pine tree about half-an-inch tall.
It's just...wow. I'm still trying to live up to my Willow, and they give me this. I am freaked out, but in such a pleasant way, let me tell you.
This scroll won't go on the wall, though. Gevehard said I'm supposed to use it as a bardic book. It's almost enough to make me want to seriously study calligraphy so I can write things in it that look halfway nice, instead of scrawled in my chicken scratchings...!
Scrolls are precious things. Today I went to a local art/framing gallery to get a couple of things framed: a little calligraphed proverb I got at an art fair in Bismarck and never did frame, and my Northern Cross scroll. The framing person behind the counter (rather cute guy, interesting tattoos, subdued manner) listened with interest while I told him why the scroll is precious. He asked about the SCA and, when I said I was interested in frames that look vaguely medieval or renaissance-ish, he kept offering me frames with laurel leaves until I had to explain what a Laurel is in the SCA! He then picked out a frame made of marble-look resin in the shape of crenellated brickwork, lined with gold on the inside edge. I took one look at it, grinned, and read to him: "As a castle strong is built one stone at a time..." Turned out he hadn't even read the scroll--he just thought it was a neat looking frame! I went with that one.
This place is a bit more expensive than I had hoped, but between the cute framer and the great service, if the framing turns out well, I'll take my remaining three scrolls there too.
My choice for this weekend was to travel out to western South Dakota for Quest for Camelot to be all Northshield-y and hang out with the Outlands bards, or to head south to Chicago with Eithni and Iohanna for Alasdair and Guenievre's last Court at Midrealm Coronation. After this past weekend: no real choice. I called in favors and begged the autocrat for lodging, and tomorrow, I'm on my way to Quest to be cold (it's supposed to be highs of 50-60 and lows in the 30's), bardic, and Northshield-y. I may be nuts, but I have my wool socks, my flannel chemise, and my Honkin' Big Cloak, and with the help of my friends, I'll survive. Ideally, I'll survive and have fun.
It's late...I'm expecting a phone call early in the morning, so I'd better get my sleep now.