It’s been 40 years, wow. There is so much I never thought I’d forget, but after a while it all runs together. If friends who read this remember something I left out, please let me know.
I first heard of the SCA at BU in 1970- someone showed me a newspaper clipping about a tourney in California. I wrote UCLA and asked about their medieval group, but eventually got an answer back: “The closest SCA to you is in NYC.” It looked really fun, but there was no way I was going to drive 6 hours for an afternoon. Later, I discovered that, unknown to the West Kingdom, Patri du Chat Gris was getting Carolingia started right about then.
In, I think, October 1973, (I know it was just after Pennsic 2) at a meeting of the BU Science Fiction group, I heard someone behind me talking about the tourney he’d been at the weekend before. I practically spun and leapt on him, demanding to know more. It was Barak Raz, and that winter we and 3 others started the Borough of Southbank; but the upshot was that I went to my first dance practice a few days thereafter- in medieval “garb” I happened to have around (I still shudder to think of it- think Irish dress with viking broochs over a “romantic” white nightgown as an underdress, and a Toledo sword in a sheath made of brocade covered cardboard tubes- but dear Marion of Edwinstowe was very encouraging, and I got better).
It was the October Dance practice at MIT- Baron John of Isleway showed the movie Ivanhoe, there was potluck food and the King (Angus Dubh) came up from the Crown Province. (drove those same 6 hours I wouldn’t for a couple hours of dance, although he probably made it in 4!) The Normans and Saxons were competing over who got more kisses in the “pillow dance” so I decided to become a Saxon since they were the underdogs.
A couple of weeks later, in November I went to my first event: The King’s Birthday. (Nov. 10) As with so many SCAers, I felt “I am home at last”. (I couldn’t see the things that were wrong, only the things that were so right.) I met the prince Asbjorn (I was introduced to the other finalist, Cariadoc, but I was pleased because the viking with flowing blonde hair was prettier than the hobbit-like duke). I performed songs from Pippin before the court with Eudaimon of Alexandros’ lady whose name I have forgotten (this is I would LOVE to have people help me fill in the blanks). I slept (under a bookcase) in the King’s apartment “the High Place”. It is necessary to note that this was in NY- just where I’d asserted was too far to travel!
Shortly thereafter Barak had a demo to get Southbank going, and I met Ælfwine Dunedain. Being a Tolkien fan, I was predisposed to dislike anyone who was pretending to be a variant of Aragorn, but since he turned out to be blonde, I forgave him for using the name Dunedain. (As he said, he was a Dunadain, not the Dunedain.) Meanwhile, I combined the Roman name Ara and the English name Storm into Arastorm, (in an attempt to make a Romano-Saxon name) so I shouldn’t complain too loudly. I still used Tchipakkan as a first name for years. (I’ve recently discovered that Arstorm is an actual period AS name. Close.)
We later figured out it took Ælfwine 8 days to realize he was in love with me (it took me 4 months, I’m slow), and he followed me down to the 12th Night (where he almost “assassinated” the visiting Andrew of Seldom Rest with a tureen of soup (by leaping up onto the stage with it, rather than walking all the way around the hall. This was before they had reservations, and there were so many tables that there there was no path directly to the high table.)
At the Valentines Day revels in Carolingia, Maria of Oxenford and I, along with Aelfwine, and Fernando Salazar, and my little sister Trish, started House Stormgard, with Maria and I as co-heads. That night I took the Queen home, and Maria got the King, and called me in the morning to tell me he’d accepted the house as a Sett of Clan Creachainn, with her as Cheiftainess. (I have to admit that it had been me, I probably would have done the same, although I like to think I would have insisted that she be co-cheiftainess with me.) I was pretty annoyed to be set aside like that, but consoled myself that the household still had my name.
Trudy Lacklandia had come with the King, first female knight by right of arms. She brought with her the Calafian Songbook- I think that inspired Lisa Goldenstar and Barak Raz to create the first East Kingdom Songbook. We did a lot of filking back then.
Avi Ormstein and his lady resigned as heads of the Order of the Golden Key soon thereafter, and I took over. As I recent new member, I created what I thought important- a New Members Guide: 4 sheets folded: it covered what the SCA was about, terminology, ranks-offices, etiquette, a map of the East Kingdom (then Carolingia, Barony Beyond the Mountain, the Crown Province, Bhakail, Merkwood, the Debatable Lands, and the shire of Choill Ohrda, which was run by Moira Maureen, who had just created the Ancient and Honorable Crowns for Angus and Alison to replace the previous ones- made of cardboard covered with tinfoil.) It also included a “how to make garb” section which I expanded into a garb booklet that was separate in AS 10. This also was the start of my crusade against the “automatic peerage” that came with stepping down from the throne. If becoming a Knight or Companion of the Laurel had a courtesy requirement, I felt the royal peers had to be held to that too. I kept writing the board, and finally they changed the rules to make it an additional duty of the Kingdom MOA to make sure that the prince and princess could play chess, dance, etc. I had been more concerned with the Courage, Honor, Loyalty, Generosity part of the courtesy requirement,and that wasn’t something one could teach.
My parents were delighted that I finally had a social life, so allowed me to offer “crash space” WITH BEDS, so I always got Royalty and Kingdom Officers to crash with me- which I’m sure helped me become known sooner. I remember staying up until 4 or later plying my guests (like Signy who’d been in for four years- since AS 4! THAT was an OLD member!) for tales of how the SCA started. I always said that it was my mother who should have gotten my AoA.
Angus (or rather his “uncle” Jamie Selkirk, as the King was quarrelling with Baron John) stayed with us in March over Carolingian University, and I painted his portrait, which I presented at last court. Aelfwine and I got our awards of arms then. Apparently they’d just been invented, mine was the thirteenth in the East Kingdom (Ælfwine’s was the 14th). The number of awards given withing the Clan was also a bit suspicious, if medievally appropriate <http://jducoeur.org/prec/chron/aonghais1.html> ). By this time Vizivald Selkirkson (yes, that Selkirk) had joined the household. In June Maria went back to the Middle Kingdom and handed over the Chieftainship of the Sett to Ælfwine. (At the time he was serving as Aonghais’ cup bearer.)
Ælfwine fought in our first Crown Tournament that spring (in Mirkwood, I think), and I sewed our first pavillion- black and red taffeta, with a break-down centerpole, so it could be packed in a VW bug. (Other people were using parachutes to make pavilions or using modern tents.) With all of Stormgard in it, we slept with our head in the food and our feet in the armor (or vice versa) and I immediately made an armor pavilion, and a cooking pavilion to go with it. By Pennsic 3, we had 5 tents (we naturally wanted a tent to ourselves, since we had our betrothal feast there). We planned to have our betrothal at our first coronation, and our wedding at our second, but my mother told me not to be silly, if I was serious about getting married, to pick a date. I even made poor Ælfwine ask my father for my hand.
After that first pavilion we went over to a Viking tent, and figured out how to make it open up from Viking tent into a booth, the first one of those was wool- very heavy in the rain. Then we built “Lebensraum”- the 15×30 foot two room monster tent, which lasted until we made the portable house. It was when I was first pregnant that I told Aelfwine I wanted a rope bed- which he made from the oak of our house- that once held 20 people. People were not used to beds at the war yet. Then we made the reproduction Osburg ship slat bed. At one point we planned to reproduce as much of the stuff from Sutton Hoo burial as possible to see how the mystery objects were used. Living the Dream.
It was at Asbjorn’s corenation Aelfwine gave him a glass drinking horn he’d blown in an MIT lab. Asbjorn was blown away- I don’t think anything like that had been done before. Sadly, it got broken that night during packing up. I suspect inappropriate tempering of the glass. But I’ve gotten ahead of myself.
The betrothal feast at Pennsic 3 was incredible. We lighted the area with lamps made by cutting the bottom off 30 honey jars (the first time I’d brewed mead in the 15 gallon aluminum barrel we used for years), and nailing the tops to pointed posts which we stood around the area. We put candes on them and screwed the jars back on for wind shields. We invited 50 people- including all the royalty, and had a feast. The bread I’d made for trenches saved us when the overloaded mail truck we were traveling in hit the guard-rail. When the police asked us why the back smelled like that (the sloshing mead) Aelfwine pointed to the 30 loaves of (thawing) bread hanging in a net hammock from the ceiling and said “fresh bread!” which made sense since I used bread yeast for the mead. We had incredible car troubles getting there due to it being a real junker (we really did put duct tape over the warn tires to try to make them last longer), and arrived at Friday afternoon, three hours before the feast was supposed to begin- sent around “there will be a slight delay” messages, and did it. There’s still some footage of Dashtina of the Golden Horde belly dancing there somewhere. The marriage contract specified that Angus would give me two full sets of armor, one for each of us (I still had dreams of fighting), and we’d give him our first son to be his page at the age of five. We gave everyone presents. I liked the knife we got for Queen Jessica of the Willows so much that I got one like it for myself which I used for 30 years.
A year later we had our honeymoon at Pennsic 4.
At the apartment (I think Saturday night) I joked that if they wanted to make armor inspections more efficient, they should make authorized inspection stations like cars get inspected. People could put a little flag outside their tents and everyone could go to their local inspectors rather than having to do it in one place. The inspectors could put numbered stickers on the helms to show who’d been inspected, then before the battle you only need to check the stickers, and the inspectors would have a list of who they’d done to turn in. Everyone laughed, but the stickers idea (which I thought was the intrusively mundane part of the idea) caught on. I still think having local inspection stations would be a great convenience.
This is going to take a long time to compose- let me just throw down some thoughts to fill in later:
It was ’79 when my arms got passed- I chose seme of serpents involved because I was involved in everything, but when it came back they’d changed the wording to embowed- THAT ticced me off! This was during my period as a herald. I was a marshal briefly- until they decided that you couldn’t be a marshal unless you’d been a qualified fighter. We sent in the application for Stormgard’s household badge back in AS 9, but while they passed the name, they didn’t like the image of the castle surrounded with lightening. Eventually, another group got the name Stormgard, so we won’t be able to officially ever get it now.
Started an expanded Intro to the SCA booklet in about `76- something that would tell new members everything they needed to know from garb to dance steps to making a tent. After a year Tamara Fitzgloster got tired of waiting for it (thank goodness!) and created the Known Worlde Handbook by farming out sections all over the Known World- go her!
One Valentine’s I was talking to Bishop Geoffrey about how I was so embarrassed whenever I saw peerage regalia and didn’t recognize the person- especially in the lists when people usually have their arms displayed, you should be able to recognize anyone wearing a white belt by their arms. Since it was the duty of a knight to teach his squires the arms of the other knights, it occurred to me that you can’t teach what you don’t know, but I lived in a barony with lots of artists. I made up a page of blank shield shapes, distributed them with the arms of the peers and groups to artists I knew, and was able to present the first East Kingdom Illustrated Armorial at Gyrth and Mel’s Coronation- April 1st, less than two months from the conception of the idea. I was pretty proud of that.
Over the years Stormgard grew and shrank- usually when a bunch of people budded off to start their own households. In those days when you’d been in a year or two you were an old member, so this seemed reasonable to me. Sometimes they also left annoyed. I had a tendency to assume that everyone was excited about my ideas as I was and too often neglected to ask for the help I expected, and they pitched in and gave. One of those times was the Steedmill Fair. Alia vasa Care married Sigismund, and Ælfwine and I made high Medieval garb to wear to their wedding, including a “heart shaped” hennin to go with my houpeland. When it was all done it looked awful on me! I decided what we really needed was a place where one could try on different hats to see which was becoming, then you could take it home and decorate it to match your gown.But we had no hatters- or commerce to speak of. So I decided we needed a Fair. We invited craftsmen to sell. We created a tavern. We even minted (lead) money, and to buy the food. Aris of Steedmill offered her fathers field to do it (hence the name). Sadly, I think he was expecting a movie production crew, to come and build a set, so a week before the event, he revoked permission for us to come. Luckily I was able to get a place at Curry College (where my sister was attending), and we pulled it off. But it was a lot of work. Sunday afternoon I realized that it was Ælfgifu’s first birthday. I’d forgotten in the autocratting chaos. (I suppose I ran the second East Kingdom Belly Dancing Contest and feast while carrying her around- she was about 2 months old at that event. She was about ten days old at Camelot, the event with the tall ships. Amazing child.
In `78 Ælfwine and I moved to NH, and were “given” the state to organize. We called it Branswatch- as if the Old Man in the Mountain as were the head of Bran the Blessed watching out over us. We traveled everywhere (in a VW rabbit), and there were soon groups in Anryvedudd (Dartmoth), Vatnaskvatstadir (the seacoast), and “Little Golden Folk” our area. (sadly, people thought we were talking about us and our kids- not bees). There were a bunch of new members, in the most awful collections of pickle barrel and carpet armor. I finally suggested that for $10 materials cost, I could make each of them a version of a Scottish Laine that would cover a multitude of sins. That Pennsic I think we had 15 or 20 young men in matching green shirts, looking a lot more impressive than they would have without. Not many people wore livery at the time, so when they saw the mass, they assumed that like Morgan Elandris’ boys, they were highly trained. (I also made everyone a “crest” to tape to the front of his helmet- a rabbit shaped white chocolate lollypop. A few came back ok, a few melted, and many were knocked off. Some guessed that they were helpful because people were trying to knock them off rather than going for the kill, and that gave them an advantage.) Not all of them were in Stormgard, but all were fond of Ælfwine and James. By this time they included Andre, Tamooj and Raphael. Ælfwine took squires, but as when he was knighted there were few squires, he never thought of promoting his squires, and I fear that the other knights figured that if he didn’t promote them, they weren’t ready. Unless like Gavin and Vizzivald, they won crown, his squires tended not to get knighted. Pity, because they were great guys!
Shortly after we started Branswatch, I realized that Viz was winning just about every tournament, and Ælfwine and Kobiashi were trading off second and third places. I figured it had to be really discouraging for a new fighter to know that he couldn’t even place going in, so I created the Golden Sword Tournament in which only novices would be allowed to compete (although experienced fighters could compete with them the better to judge their potential). It’s still going on, although sometimes there have been a lot, and sometimes even no contestants. )What I remember most from that first tournament were the black flies!) The prize has always been a sword blank because what else does a new fighter want? The Gold part came because a local business is a factory that manufactures stickers, and we were able to get rolls and rolls of metallic gold tape to cover the prize with, thus echoing the prize arrow in the Robin Hood tale.
In Spring `82 to the cheers of the Greenshirts (“Bunny Lord, Bunny Lord!”), Ælfwine finally won Sigfried and Wanda’s Crown Tourney, we’d get a chance to do all the things we’d been wanting to for all those years.
I hated that as Mistress of the Gold Key, seneschal, or just at demos, I explained to new members what it took to get an AoA or other award, and then when they’d done it, they got no AoA. I felt like I’d lied to them. There were so many really active, talented, worthy people the Crown couldn’t get to them all. The SCA was having growth pains. At this point the East Kingdom (not counting the groups in Drachenvald) had over 30 branches. We had about 12 active knights.
We sent out requests to the whole kingdom asking them for their advice on who was overdue for awards. I figured that if it was considered reasonable to make two knights per reign in a kingdom of 200, a kingdom of 1200 could reasonably expect to make 12 knights per reign if we were using the same criteria. People argued: “Our standards are higher than other kingdoms”. I didn’t feel that being unfair to your own people was something you should brag about. I collected three fat notebooks (about 3-4 inches thick each) of those recommendations, and we only gave awards to people who had lots of folk agreeing that the person was overdue, and giving specific reasons. I think we finally gave out a few over 200 Awards of Arms (which comes to about 8 a week). In order to keep courts shorter, we sometimes had the actual awards given by barons if there was one, and tried to create the custom of using the Court Barons to deliver AoAs to places where the crown couldn’t go if there was no Landed Baron. That would have given Court Barons a raison d’etre, but that didn’t work either.
We also urged the knight marshals to enforce blow standards against the knights in their baronies, but were educated: Even if we supported them, we’d be gone in 6 months, and the knights were permanent- if anyone stood up to them, they’d never get another chance at anything martial.
Another thing we did was create equivalent awards including Freewoman, Freedwoman, etc. It seemed a poor reward for excellent authenticity to destroy someone’s persona by changing their rank if what they enjoyed was doing a non-noble personna really well. I have no idea if that continued.
In September before Coronation I traveled to as many of the shires in the East as I could- there were so many that we had to double up with some close ones even though I was a different place each of 30 days. Alexander Sur la Mer drove me and the girls (Ælfgifu was 6, Ælfwyha was 3- even though Ælfwytha’s toilet training broke, I don’t think I realized what a stress it was for them.), Ælfwine would drive out and meet me wherever I was on weekends.
When we were on the throne, I got up, got the mail at 10, answered letters until about four, put them in the mail, went back and finished them, breaking to make dinner and for evening phone calls. Sometimes I didn’t finish until nearly midnight. I always wondered how women who worked manage, but part of the answer was that I did answer my mail and other Royalty couldn’t. I don’t have any idea what this did to the girls- it seemed so important to take care of the Kingdom, but obviously I wasn’t there for my kids. Diana started school that year, which probably helped her.) Alizaunde helped a lot with Ælfwytha, and the rest of the Branswatch folk and Stormgard were incredibly supportive.
October 3, 1981 Coronation was held in Bergental (this annoyed Jaelle of Armida when I wouldn’t let her cook the feast down in PA and carry it in her trunk up to reheat in Bergental). Aelfwine was carried into court on a shield- blew his line and said “It is I Ælfwine King of the East- I mean prince”.There was a lot of long flowing blonde hair: ours, Kathryne Goodwyn and Mara, Andros and Asbjorn,… we were pretty. Kathryn made our coronation outfits (apparently at some point I’d told her she could) and decided I wore too much red, so dressed me in green.
We wanted to create a more authenticl ambiance in court, so we tried to have courts where everyone would be standing (barring handicaps- of course dispensation would be given for hardship), and come forward when summoned. People thought that would be a hardship, so that they wouldn’t feel unfairly abused, we decided to stand ourselves, Sadly, just about everyone decided to sit to show their objection to being asked (to do things authentically). In the end it resulted in the Crown standing and the population sitting for most courts- the opposite of what we’d intended. We also let people know that we’d like it if those who liked to wear garb from many periods would wear dark ages garb to coronation. So there was a huge number of brand-new Renaissance gowns to show their contempt for our wishes. (Isn’t the SCA a hotbed of contraryism!)
Clearly, we tried to do too much, too fast, and the changes made people nervous. A final crisis hit with a winter storm. We’d scheduled a curia in RI, and 15 minutes out on the road, we knew that continuing would risk our daughters lives, and turned back. Sadly, Prince Hasdrubal had had to travel 10 hours to get there, so when the same storm caught him in CT, he kept on for that last hour or two, and both his trouble and risk were for nothing because you couldn’t have the curia without the king. I’m told he sat there muttering that he would turn over everything we’d done as soon as he got on the throne, and he nearly did- and I can understand it.
We created an archery award- the Order of the Pheon, but after the six we gave, it was disbanded and the Sagitarius created in it’s stead.
We made a treaty with the Kingdom of Acre. Ælfwine had been there when Andreas de Volpes had broken away from the SCA and created Acre after the drama filled Crown Tourney. (So, apparently was Romerez, and thus the movie Knightriders was born.) We thought it was high time to stop making those who came after us continue an old fight and made an agreement which continues that our kingdoms will recognize each others awards, and not impose taxes on each other. (I have no idea how that works with the non-member surcharge which it should cover.)
We also tried to heal the breach between the folks in England who’d thought about joining the SCA, but started feuding. When we spoke to both sides, both refused to deal with the other because the other was just “so rude”, mainly by not returning calls. So we lost that opportunity to get permanent SCA in England. This is where I became convinced that people are eager to take offense. (I know I was when I was younger- I tried to get a “crusade” going after Laighr had a curia the day after coronation because at the time the laws stated that one had to announce a curia weeks before having it, and he had sworn to uphold the law. I remember that this really bothered me, and it bothered me more than no one else was bothered. Thank God I mellowed!)
We tried to bring the Manche back from being a “mini-Laurel” or “pre-laurel” and back to what Tamara FitzGlostre had envisioned it as an award for people who are talented in multple arts by deliberately giving it to Arwen AFTER we gave her her Laurel for Soothsaying.
We found youth fighting in one of the NY groups and tried to spread the foam covered PVC weapons form to other groups- it was pretty wonderful, and I’m glad it finally took hold- of course, it spread through a lot of live action role playing groups as well.
Eventually I got to make my last stab against the “automatic peerage”. Fernando had declined to be knighted when he won crown- then, or just before, or just after, to make the point that his knighthood was his knighthood, not just a tack on for winning a tournament. I wanted to make sure that some of the bitchy women I’d seen on the throne getting peerages wouldn’t get them, so I figured that if I didn’t have one, it would at least console them that I, the person who cost them theirs, didn’t have one either. The Order of the Rose had been created to be the equivalent of knighthood for women who’d served on the throne, and I figured the Peerage could be attached to it- so we made it a polling order- so that the women (who’d been there, and knew the pressures) would be able to judge if someone should not be a peer. But all my attempts failed- they continued to attach the Peerage to the County rank, and make it automatic. The Ladies of the Rose graciously offered me the opportunity to join their ranks on three separate occasions, as I continue to hope that the rank of peer will some day never be automatic, but will always require meeting the requirements of Courtesy, Generosity, Courage and Loyalty I declined for over 20 years. Finally last year being urged again, I accepted the honor and am now a Lady of the Rose. I do wonder if anyone actually understood what I was attempting to do.
I really irritated many people when after we built the first “portable meadhall”, they were talking about giving me a Laurel for camping. Knowing as I did how very SCA it was (really, the inspiration was playmobil) I told them not to do it, thus also breaking the tradition of pretending that I didn’t know the award was being discussed. Many people seem to think that an award is a present, and want it to be a surprise. I strongly disagree with that.
First: it’s not period practice. I’m pleased that they’ve started telling people beforehand and allowing them to prepare. Second: it’s hardly likely that someone who’s worthy of a peerage either doesn’t know what it’s given for or what they’ve done themselves, so assuming you could surprise someone is foolish. I have to say that that particular Pennsic was one of the worst weeks of my life because of the stress. One of the things people wanted me to do was to “prove myself” by being someone’s apprentice. For one thing, my persona is not a craftsperson, my role is Head of Household, and I am supposed to know how to do everything that’s done on the estate well enough to oversee it- so I’m not a specialist. I specialize in my persona. I am an Angle, Father’s family old federati family from Diera, been there over a century, Mothers family from Kent. Ælfwine was second generation- his great grandfather fought Arthur, went back to Saxony, then his grandfather came back once Arthur was gone, and we went down to Wessex when Cenwahl did his invasion down there. Stormgard is a “Saxon bugh above the Celtic town” in Wilton. In our minds we think about Pennsic as traveling to a major market fair in the Londinium area.
I do want to learn everything- I’ve considered myself an student of runes to Arwen, an apprentice in Limning to Megan, an apprentice in weaving to Alizaunde- I’ll learn anything from anyone but I have no great need to be someone’s “Apprentice”.
I got a Silver Crescent right after doing the Armorial, and a Manche for camping impressively. I am a Companion of the Daystar– the Carolingian service award, and a something stone award at the first Stonemarche court. I think it was a foundation stone or Cornerstone, but there are no records, and now I seem to be down as having a Millstone, which I don’t really.
About the time we got off the throne, Branswatch was really close to being a Barony, but the SCA put in new rules calling for extra paperwork. So we agreed to leave the SCA in protest. Then each canton decided that they really DID want to be in the SCA, and each joined up separately- tripling the (increased) paperwork. It didn’t take long before we decided that it would be better to be one big group than 3 little groups, and rejoined as Stonemarche. What a waste of time and stress.
Stonemarche was big enough to be a barony, but Alicia and Johan were still really cross with Aelfwine and I, and played with the election rules, so that despite all expectations, we were not elected the founding Baron and Baroness. We were offered the option of being made the founding Baron and Baroness to acknowledge the reality of our having developed the group, but only if we agreed to immediately step down and hand it over to Megan and Morgan. This was bullshit, and we said so.
I hate all sorts of this kind of political manipulation, but sadly, since it was so clearly a case of it being something where we were the recipients, no one (but Ælfwine) believed that it was really the unfairness that had me so upset. We cut loose all the members of Stormgard because they wouldn’t support that battle, and I know that hurt their feelings, but I wish they’d had more faith in my motives. Eventually I realized that not being made Baron and Baroness was the best thing that could have happened to us, because we would have taken personally every problem that any one in Stormgard had or created, and it would probably have destroyed us- if not, it would have been bad for the kids, as our being on the thrones distracted us from them, only it wouldn’t have been just a half a year.
Xavier and Maria made me the Principle of the Keepers of the Flame– since dubbed the Lamp of Apollo. I never worked out what that’s for, luckily they did. Tamara Fitzglouster gave me a Court Barony– that usually means that you’ve done a lot of impressive stuff, but the Orders won’t take you, and the Crown isn’t comfortable with not giving you anything. I finally decided that if the Ladies of the Rose kept asking me, the point about automatic peerages had been made, and I joined their company at Pennsic in AS 45(?). In August of 2014 I was inducted into the Order of the Laurel for Anglo-Saxon Studies. I’m rather proud of the way that I adapted heraldic arms to a 7th c. aesthetic, and was thrilled to have my scroll be patterned after an Anglo-Saxon diploma.
I once counted the number of events and feasts I’d either autocratted or run the kitchen for and hit over 50. I didn’t stop for a while after that, so I think it is around 60. I think the last one I did was at a Goldensword in Canterbrook. There was no kitchen, so we created one, including the firepits from an old oil tank. We did a three course feast- and I served Friday supper, breakfast and lunch Saturday and Sunday, and mid-day Saturday the skys opened and we got about two inches of rain in an hour. Ekke shot a hole in the grill bottom so it stopped filling and the feast was only slightly late. I rather expected to get a Burdened Tyger for that since it was both a marvelous feast and created under adverse conditions, but when I asked the queen afterward why she hadn’t given me one for it, she said that it had slipped her mind (she was an avid equestrian and was very disappointed that the rain prevented her from riding- she didn’t even stay for Sunday). In one of my nastiest moments, I told her how much that hurt my feelings. Of the things in my life I regret doing, that’s one of them.
The other thing from my reign I regret is that we didn’t give a Laurel to a lady who deserved it. We had the scroll, the medallion, she was there and probably had had hints, but the Order of Fatima was being disbanded that day because of the infighting that had been going on within it, and we were asked not to give the award because that would anger the Companions of the Laurel who were already being slapped down by the Fatima disbanding, so please let the next set of Royalty give her the honor. We’d also been told that if we gave it to her, some of the Companions would make her life a living hell, so it would be kinder not to do so. (I am not saying that ALL members of the Order are discourteous, but do feel that those who are blacken the names of the rest. I am also not sure whether we did the right thing giving in to blackmail like that. I have sat beside many people through courts where they were given to understand that they’d be receiving an award and seen the pain that comes when they don’t get it. Our awards are worth only what the recipient believes them to be, they should not be allowed to cause pain like that.)
Marion of Edwinstowe once told me that if you started something and it kept going, you really started something. but if when you stopped doing it, it stopped happening, you hadn’t really accomplished anything. I think I really took that to heart.
Goody and I started the EK Exotic Dancing Guild, and I ran least the second competition- I don’t know if it lasted much after that. I wasn’t a founder of the the EK Soothsayer’s Guild, but joined early on and wrote articles for the news letter.
There was a period when I did a lot of scrolls. I think I sent about 40 blanks to Kathrine Stanhope one year- I liked it better when you just sent them to the crown. and you didn’t have to go throught the Clerk of the Signet.
I started the MDA fundraising auction at Pennsic and Sustained Death battle. That went on for ten or more years after I passed it on.
I did the “Heir Raising” series in Tournaments Illuminated on kids in the SCA many years ago. I’ve done several covers for the Birka booklet, and portraits of a few SCAers.
I’ve edited Toothpike: for a while; I was a deputy chronicler for Pikestaff. Pikestaff had gone to a 6 week schedule, so groups had a hard time scheduling events. This was a one page supplement of just a calendar going to seneschals and other people who really needed the updates every two weeks as I recall. It was when Tamara was Chronicler.
The Yearwheel was a calendar of all EK events- including the projected “traditional” ones. I went through all the old Pikestaffs from AS 6 onward and charted every event (when someone was complaining that someone else stepped on their “traditional” date). This was when I discovered that Pennsic 1 was the 3d weekend of September, Pennsic 2 the 2d weekend, Pennsic 3 the Ist weekend of September, Pennsic 4 the last weekend of August, Pennsic 5 the next to last weekend of August. At Pennsic 6 we got locked into the 2d weekend of August, otherwise we’d be fighting in the Snow by now!
“BFR” was the Branswatch newsletter- I put that out for several years. Got a good readership (93) over several kingdoms based on content. I was proud of that. I reprinted articles from other newsletters to get them better circulation (adding appropriate illistration). This was still in the days of pasting up. I based the design on Readers Digest- filled corners with jokes, cartoons, and anecdotes as well as news and articles.
The Nameless Chronicle was the “newsletter” of the Northern Principality we were trying so hard to create. Then Kathrine Stanhope told me it would never happen as long as my name was attached to it because I had so many powerful enemies- so I withdrew from that project (and have always wondered if she was right). I do think that there should be a northern Principality, not just region.
Back in the early years of the Rialto I used to spend way to much time on it- I started to create a series of booklets called In Period. (I guess I’ve never actually given up on it- I keep meaning to get back to it when I have time.) I conceived it as a series of orginially 60 (but with the potential to continue) Pikestaff sized booklets, one per period. Each would be written by someone who knew that period, and would contain information on what clothing, food, fighting styles, social customs, money, transportation, general political situation, etc. was like for that period. I hoped to get the SCA to run this- putting them out once per month as something people or groups could subscribe to, and selling them through the SCA one at a time for people who were interested in that period. I figured schools and libraries would also love the series and it could actually be good PR and potentially a money maker for the SCA. I was in process of writing an Anglo-Saxon one myself, and collecting commitments from other authors, but we got bogged down in what should go in each, and which would be the first, most important cultures to hit. It’s still a good idea. Maybe someday I’ll get to it, or someone else will do it.
I wrote the Stormgard Camping Booklet and the packing list was the most popular part. It appeared by its self for about a decade in dozens of publications. The booklet had everything from thoughts on camping garb, recipes, how to make several types of tents, beds, chests, & lighting. I recently found an old copy and am thinking of reissuing it.
I made a beehive oven with clay from the swimming hole at Pennsic one year.
Recently I’ve been sponsoring and running Arastorm’s Merchant Appreciation Award at Pennsic. My theory is that if you challenge people to pick “only one” from all the great numbers of really cool merchants, you’ll start to realize how many there are, and stop thinking of them/us as “Bloodsucking Merchant Scum”. Merchants teach, they are craftsmen and artists, they make incredible set-ups and make materials and items available that you couldn’t get anywhere else.
The link to my East Kingdom Wiki page is here.
The link to the Stormgard website is here.
The Stormbrew recipe: I can’t remember the number of times I’ve given permission to people to print this recipe.
Essay on Silver Chains and White Belts; Oct 91