I think this will be another short letter, as it’s been another quiet week. (Unless I run off on many tangents as sometimes happens…)
The weather has been beastly hot, and humid. That combined with lack of car has led to most of my “activity” being on the internet. I’m hardly getting outside at all- I did bring in a big bunch of pink and white phlox- accented with purple cone flowers and queen anne’s lace. I was disappointed that they’d faded a lot before the girls got home.
Kat and Willow got back Sunday night, after a lovely week at Camp (in Maine). Joannie and Raye were there the whole week and Avi got up for the weekend. They skinny dipped, ate, did art, did some fireworks, ate, did art, went out on the boat, ate, did art, Played cards Against Humanity, did art, went to the movies, ate, did art…. They did notice the spirit (or whatever entity guards the camp) again, but they’ve gotten used to him. This year they dealt him into the CAH game- and he got some great combinations. Avi got Willow a water lily she brought home. One night they had Baked Potato Salad and I got Willow to share the recipe:
Chop thin-skinned potatoes into bite sized peices (about one per person) do the same to half a red onion.(just the one!) half-to-quarter about two fresh cloves of garlic a person. Chop one fresh jalepeno to each five potatoes- this is totaly to taste. Toss these ingredients in olive oil with salt and pepper (I use garlic salt) put in baking pan, wrapped in foil into an oven at 400 for about an hour, While it’s baking, start frying bacon. As much as you like.
Once the potatoes are cooked, peel back the foil, and throw your favorite shredded cheese on top, and the bacon then put it back into the oven to melt. Serve garnished with sour cream, then slip into an inevitable food coma.
They saw Liz and Charley and Amanda, but mostly were there to rest, and did. Sadly, they seem to have found a new virus to play with, and are both pretty pathetic right now- we had to cancel their appointments. Just going out to drop Willow’s car at Winkles to get repaired and inspected wiped her out. I am stuffing them with vitamins and orange juice, and John’s made soup. Isn’t it nice to live in a world where colds are simply uncomfortable and inconvenient, not potentially life threatening?
I am thinking historically for two reasons, reading (at the end of the letter as usual) and going to an SCA event this weekend. I had Willow’s car for emergencies- but going to an event doesn’t qualify, so I asked for a ride, and got one from Jocelyn (our Baroness). It’s been a long time since I’ve done ride sharing (as we’re always full), but it was fun. We got to chat, as one doesn’t usually at events, and I found that she has been in both the Peace Corps and the Military, and used to be in Mountain Freehold when it was starting up- knew both Tearloch and Kami. Jocelyn even recently recognized Kami on facebook from her description of her horse! I don’t think non-horse people really get how close people get to their horses. We link them in our minds to cars (or motorcycles) which last 10 years or so, but a horse can live for 30 years, and you have to interact with it daily, you can’t just leave it sitting the way we do with machines.
The event was the Equestrian’s Champion and Thrown Weapons Champion event- luckily for me only about 45 minutes away (Jocelyn had to drive 2 hours just to get to my house.) That wasn’t the draw for some of us. At court the Crown made four new peers. Since these “awards” are treated as gifts they are kept secret until announced and I have recently been expressing my (long standing) objection to this practice. Not only is it not authentic, it’s inconvenient as well. In period, a new knight’s parents would make preparations a year in advance – unless it was a surprise battlefield knighting- and invite all the friends and neighbors, and have new armor made (with equivalent preparations for less martial awards). For us it would be only fair to give people a chance to invite friends and make new clothes. Thank goodness that at least these days they usually give a Writ a week or two beforehand. Still, if you aren’t in the immediate circle who’s told, you don’t know.
I didn’t know, for example, that the Laurel they were making was Lord Terren of Tir (Jay Witcher) the harp maker.
You may remember a few years ago Honour and I went up to northern Maine where someone has built a Viking Hall (and is working on a longship)? That’s him! I was so psyched that he was getting it! I don’t think he remembered me, but I remember him. And was so excited when during the ceremony, the Lady of the Rose who “spoke” for him was Diana Listmaker- the lady who started the SCA. Apparently he used to be in the SCA out on the West Coast and she sent a praise poem for him! Admittedly, he started in the 70s (40 years ago?) but he’s personally built over 1100 harps and other musical instruments.
Also honoured were Xavier and Maria, our previous Baron and Baronessa, who were elevated to the Order of the Pelican. (a few of these pictures I took, but several are from Shannon who posted so many that were better than mine I’ve used those instead.) I was most amused that the King had a hard time figuring out how to put on her new mantle. OK, given the gorgeous way they were dressed, and that I had from the War until September last year to get my gown and banner ready, perhaps writs do give us enough time to prepare. But a big part of the ceremony is putting on the regalia that friends have donated. Back when we were on the throne we thought we were doing well if we had a belt, chains and spurs for the knight, or a medallion and a scroll. As I understand it, the East Kingdom does much more gorgeous scrolls than other kingdoms (but that may not be true, I don’t go to courts in other kingdoms). Ours are certainly gorgeous. Anyway, I was amused when the King had a hard time trying to figure out how to put Maria’s Italian robe on her. There is a LOT of variety. As usual, it had a beautiful embroidered Pelican on the back.
Xaviers was a hood, and Siubhan’s was leather- suitable for rain, but maybe not, Æthlyhawk and embossed designs all over it as well as the central design in the center back, which was then painted (by their daughter). It’s gorgeous, but I was a little afraid she’d melt given that it was about 90º at the time. She was wearing a gorgeous gown with her arms on it, and looked SO medieval!
He’s the one who has taken up casting and cordwaining (gilding leather) and we put his belts out on commission for him at the war. Sadly, I couldn’t find them to return them before the event- I fear they are deeply buried in our goods in our trailer. Siubhan Wallace is his lady, and apparently all those years ago Ælfwine and I had given her her AoA and I got to speak for her at her Peerage elevation in my role as Lady of the Rose. Over the years I’ve gotten to know and really like a LOT more people than the few for whom I can consistently remember their names. I suppose if I went to court more often, where they make a point of using the names, that MIGHT help me remember them. But I worry that it would not.
With four elevations, there were three vigil tents (Xavier and Maria shared one), and someone quipped that it was the “Peer lunch plan” as it is usual for their friends to put out a buffet during the vigil. When vigils started, people were generally set in a tent by themselves to think about the duties of a peer, then peers who knew them started dropping by to offer words of advice, and their campmates started offering food and drink to those who were waiting (because these are generally one on one). Now it has become traditional to have a lovely buffet- and a book in which people can put their good wishes, and often someone has to make a list to organize who goes in next. I was around 25 on Maria and Xavier’s list, fairly far down on Siubhan’s and I was embarrassed to be able to just go right in to Terren’s. Because he’s so far to the north, I don’t think many people get a chance to interact with him!
Pelicans are also a bit problematic, while arts you see blow you away (and I don’t think anything most of us do can approach Terren’s skill and how he’s made an impact both inside and outside the SCA with his craft), the Order of the Pelican (if you don’t know already) is given for when someone has worked SO much in the SCA that people feel that they had better say something.
When I joined they were still giving the occasional Order of the Laurel for service. It was for when someone would have been made a knight, but their contribution was non-martial. But then they separated the Laurel from the Pelican (the medieval myth is that the Pelican will pierce its own breast and feed it’s young its own blood), and recently they made another order (The Order of Defense) for combat that wasn’t tournament style- for the peer level archers and siege weapons folks. Since it’s so new, and since the older tradition has made it “de rigueur” to have someone from each order of peerage speak at an elevation, the poor 3 or so first Companions of that order are in VERY high demand since there are so few of them to go around. (There are over 400 Companions of the Laurel in the East, and I think around 60 Ladies of the Rose.) As a matter of fact, at this event, aside from selecting the Champion of Horse, (and thrown weapons), they also created the first members of the Order of the Golden Lance, an SCA wide equestrian award. (I think it’s Order of Merit level- like a Silver Crescent or Golden Rapier, which I find odd because they call the recipients Ogres (Order of Golden Rapier?). I’d personally like to see the Orders, peers included) all be made specific to the Kingdom, although recognized as equivalent across the kingdoms. I don’t think a Knight of the East is the same as a Knight of the Middle, and it would be sort of cool to let people be inducted into more than one Order of Knighthood.
Other than court and the vigils I just sat around and talked to people. I had a fascinating conversation with Li Kung Lo (the archer) about venoms. It seems he used to be a rattlesnake catcher. Why does that even exist? Apparently even with anti-venom, people used to sometimes die after a snake bite until in the 70s it was discovered that snakes have a monthly cycle during which their venom changes from neurotoxin to a different kind of toxin (I forget now), so they have to use some venom from different times of the month in the anti-venom so that it will work because you don’t know what part of the cycle the snake that bit you was in. Who knew? And we talked about the effects of brown recluse spider bites. I think we’ve all heard the venom is supposed to soften up the inside of the spiders prey so it can suck it out easily. Apparently that’s the kind of bit the recluse has, and while we are big enough not to be killed by it, it still liquifies the tissue wherever we got bit, leaving a dent- which sometimes needs reconstruction if it’s an important place. It occurred to me later, that we were chatting inside the tent where the lovely buffets were set out, and maybe some of the people who were getting food may have been less objectively fascinated by this conversation than the two of us were. Oops. It reminded me of the stories we’ve been hearing about the Guinea Worm since Jimmy Carter said it’s eradication was his dying wish. (I was wondering other than discomfort what the parasite did, and it seems it can cripple the victim if it is in a joint, or blind them if in an eye.) Again, really gross, but wouldn’t it be great if he can get his wish? Apparently creating public awareness of how it spreads is really what’s needed. Clean water wouldn’t hurt either.
I had much less gross discussions with Brid about early Irish Christianity. Hanging, as I do, with so many neo-pagans, I keep running into confusion about how magical folkloric practices don’t mean paganism persisted. Christians do psychic healing and use magic as taught by their older relatives too! I was first attracted admiring a gorgeous beaded veil she was wearing and she said it was made by a “apprent-ege” (combining apprentice and protegee). “Why not just say Client?” I asked hot off my readings about Rome, and she was pleased. “That’s what I call them, but no one else seems to recognize the term.” Classical studies are apparently dismally under taught.
I impressed myself by packing lightly- only my workbasket (with lunch), and my chair. I left behind projects and changes of clothing, and so many other stuff I’d usually take, and still managed to survive (and fit much better in Jocelyn’s car)!
(This image is me speaking about how long Siubhan has been working.)
The rest of the week was quiet- John and I got out once. Mark came by and took us out to lunch at Crackerbarrel. I have been trying to catch up on everything I’ve let go all spring and summer. I’ve finally learned to get into the CTCW website, we have 18 program proposals, about a third of what we need. Jane’s gotten the word- her house goes on the market on September 5th, so she is packing like a demon, stopping to look at whatever updates I send her is her “breaks”, and I am trying to not bog her down. Maryalyce is being incredibly supportive and I’m thrilled to have heard from all the folks who offered to handle departments last year and are still willing to do it. Still, we’d better find old and new speakers PDQ.
I’m quite relieved to discover that I can actually start doing this without going into a panic attack as would happen earlier in the year. It’s ironic that when it would have been easier and more appropriate to get done the things we need, it was harder for me than it is now. Ah well, the mysteries of the human mind/emotions, eh?
It’s been quiet since the girls got back too, since they’ve been so sick, poor things. I see them at dinner (due to my conviction that food/nutrition makes things better) and have been feeling guilty at dragging them downstairs. Yesterday Willow and I did go out to drop off her car, and pick up the first load of stuff from the van. It’s official, I’m selling it to Robert- he can make it go enough for local drives, but not enough for us, and we’re hoping that the money he’s giving us will pay for the repairs on Willows car. I also went out for my annual eye exam, the doctor seemed pleased, but my contacts were three years old (apparently manufacturers think you should replace them every 12-18 months), and I need new ones. Sigh. We had to be brisk because there were major storm warnings- they wanted us to “get off the streets” (or at least not drive through flooded bits), and Willow and I both laughed when we waited for the rain to let up a bit and were still both SOAKED in the 5-10 feet between the car and the door. At least it cooled things off a bit.
What else? I’ve been checking in on upcoming events: Twilight Covening, Celebrate Samhain, the two surviving Pagan Pride Days… (I guess people are not so worried about discrimination against pagans anymore- cool!) Liz called sometime this week and told me about allowing one of her friends to rearrange her living room the way he liked it for watching the games this fall. She had not anticipated how much having the furniture out of place was going to drive her nuts. “I was fung-shwung” she quipped. (from Feng shui? I will have to remember that phrase- it’s perfect!
While I was resting up (read sick) after Pennsic I read the second series from Caroline Lawrence- the Roman Mystery Scrolls. These are equally well researched and written, but are aimed at a younger reader, so they are practically short stories. The hero, Threptus is an orphan living with a freelance soothsayer- he’s psychic and can do augury (birds) but the sight of blood makes him pass out, can’t do auspices- (reading entrails) which is much more remunerative. I found them amusing, but wish she’d write for adults. I also whipped through the first four books by Robert A Bell Jr. (Cases from the Notebooks of Piny the Younger). Wonderful characters and very well researched, and each chapter draws me on to the next with a final paragraph or line like “Master, there’s something that needs your attention. There’s a body in the bay.” I’ve broken down and bought the next one on kindle, even though I’m still not used to the idea of buying electronic versions. It strikes me as a good idea ecologically, but I’ve lost so much in computer crashes, that I have to remind myself that once I’ve read it, I’ll probably be happy that I don’t have to store it- even if I do like it and lose it at some point.
On the other hand, I’ve been trying to read Pagan Magic of the Northern Traditions on the kindle and have found it crazy-making. In theory, you can search for things in an e-book, but you can’t just flip back and forth easily to refer to the index or notes or maps, and I find it really frustrating to try to deal with. Fiction, fine, but not research books. Also I can’t flag things to refer back to. Feh. I’m also reading a really good book Witchcraft, Intimacy, and Trust: Africa in Comparison. It’s an anthropology book, so so far I haven’t detected any sense that the writer actually believes that the witches can do anything. Still, whether one believes in psychic phenomena/the body mind connection or not, the sociological interactions in the accusations and expectations of witchcraft are real, and need to be integrated into any study whether it accepts the abilities or not. When people blame the people with whom they are closest for things going wrong in their lives, it’s important to understand how that works. How can we understand anything if we don’t understand the lies we tell ourselves? This book covers witchcraft in Africa, Europe, Brazil and Oceania, and pointed me at more information on the field of African Witchcraft. Colonialism and Globalism are really important (as we can see from the recent stock market corrections). I’ve tried for years to find more than glimpses to explain why people would change religions (if there wasn’t a weapon pointed at you, and frankly, I think that’s not a reliable indicator of an internal position other than “I don’t want to die”). It’s right up there with the idea that torturing someone is going to increase the truth you get out of them. The words, sure. “What do you want me to say?” But accurate information? I think not.
Well, I have to get ready for the show tonight. Once again I have no guest so will be babbling about, I’m not sure what yet. I’d like it to be something that would promote the conference, but
(This is a picture of Xavier doing homage to the Crown. I understand that we need to protect our eyes, but as much as I admire Queen Etheldreda, the cowboy hat throws me off. Gotta love the Royal Pavilion though.)
Quote for the week from Atul Gawande in Being Mortal:
The Dying Role and its importance “People want to share memories, pass on wisdoms and keepsakes, settle relationships, establish their legacies, make peace with God, and ensure than those who are left behind will be okay. They want to end their stories on their own terms. This role is, observers argue, amoung life’s most important, for both the dying and those left behind. And if it is, the way we deny people this role, out of obtuseness and neglect, is cause for everlasting shame. Over and over, we in medicine inflict deep gouges at the end of people’s lives and then stand oblivious to the harm done.”