A Day in the Life

Homeschooling and Medieval Living

Mosh’s Take on Sir Terry Pratchett

The following is from a friend’s blog. This is that friend I mentioned in an earlier post. He introduced me to Terry Pratchett back in 1995. Thanks Mosh for all that you did for me.  You can visit his blog at http://www.moshblog.me.uk/

BINKY? PRATCHETT’S HOURGLASS IS EMPTY… BUGGER

Terry Pratchett enjoying a Guinness at honorar...

Terry Pratchett enjoying a Guinness at honorary degree ceremony at Trinity College Dublin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A man with a big scythe and mounted on an impossibly white steed arrived to pick up the soul of one Sir Terry Pratchett, aged 66 today. Pratchett, for those who’ve lived in a literary black hole for the last thirty years or so, was the genius behind the Discworld novels and all the history, back story and associated paraphernalia with the fantasy land he’d created.

I was introduced to Discworld by a handful of friends at school who latched on to them a little earlier than I did – Indy and Richard were the main guilty parties if I remember correctly. From reading The Colour of Magic I was hooked.

Annoyingly Terry Pratchett was a hugely prodigious author, chucking out a couple of books a year which made collecting his works quite pricey. On the other hand, they were almost without exception work paying for. Some of my favourite reads of all time flowed from his wonderfully creative mind, including Good Omens which he co-wrote with Neil Gaiman.

What made his work stand out, to me, was the way he wrote rather than what he wrote. The fantasy world he created was as good as any other which flowed from the pens and keyboards of many an author but his humorous style was second to none. With a bevy of pop culture references in his novels (annotated guides appeared on the internet many years ago which I downloaded, printed and promptly lost while at university), there was an extra layer to the stories which gave them an extra level of re-readability.

What I truly appreciated about him, though, was his eagerness to engage with his readers. Along with Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett took to the internet with aplomb in its earlier days as a publicly accessible network and regularly posted on alt.fan.pratchett, a newsgroup on the old usenet system. I remember him asking questions about the physics surrounding someone randomly teleporting from one place to another, and the input from respondents was used in (I think) The Last Continent.

He regularly did signing tours and would sign anything and everything he was given… with a different quote in each. I attended two signings in one day in Leeds many years ago, between which I think he signed about 15 books I had. Each one annotated “Best Wishes”, “More Best Wishes”, “Son of Best Wishes” and so on. He added drawings and stamps to his repertoire as the years went on.

And then he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

One of the most active and creative literary minds of our generation was being eaten away from within. A more cruel punishment for a person I cannot imagine. Yet, despite this, he ploughed on. He still had stories to tell and no damn debilitating mental condition was going to stop him.

Utilising copious notes and voice recognition software to allow him to keep track of the plots while writing as quickly as possible, and with the aid of friends and family, his output slowed but did not stop. Did he need to write more to pay the mortgage? No. He wrote because he was good at it, enjoyed it an – most importantly – other people got happiness from something he did. And also to piss off the Alzheimer’s, a condition he called an “embuggerance”.

And now that creative mind has ceased to function. News was released some months ago that his daughter Rhianna would take over the Discworld when her father passed, and on her capable (trust me, I’ve read some of her stuff) shoulders that responsibility now lies.

Thank you, PTerry (sic). Thank you for seventy-plus novels of laughs. Thank you for being one of many people who engendered in me a genuine love for the written word and how beautifully it can be crafted.

Enjoy that final ride on Binky. Such a brilliant moniker that we named our last dog after him. I just wish your hourglass had been that bit bigger.

A Just Giving page donating to the Research Institute for the Care of Older People (RICE) has been set up in his memory: https://www.justgiving.com/Terry-Pratchett/

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RIP Sir Terry Pratchett 1948-2015

Sir Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett on an archive picture. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe/Eamonn McCabe

There are two authors who made a great difference in my life and now they are both gone: Douglas Adams and Sir Terry Pratchett. Both of them introduced me to England and a wonderful man who is still a great friend. That same friend took me to see Terry Pratchett in 1995. We went to a book signing at a small local bookstore in England. Mr. Pratchett not only signed my book but he also spoke with me at great length. He asked me how I was getting on in the new Discworld game. He also asked me what my favorite book was. Even after the book signing, he stayed around and chatted with everyone there at the store. I remember him signing everything he could. He signed books, computer CPUs, even people. That is one of the greatest memories I have of him. I really felt like he was an old friend. Every time I read one of his books, I can hear his voice speaking those words to me. I will truly miss him. I will spend today re-reading my favorites and sharing fond memories of him with my family. I will miss you greatly PTerry!

Here is the official announcement as posted on PJSM Prints:

“It is with immeasurable sadness that we announce that author Sir Terry Pratchett has died at the age of 66.”

Larry Finlay, MD at Transworld Publishers:

“I was deeply saddened to learn that Sir Terry Pratchett has died. The world has lost one of its brightest, sharpest minds. In over 70 books, Terry enriched the planet like few before him. As all who read him know, Discworld was his vehicle to satirize this world: he did so brilliantly, with great skill, enormous humour and constant invention. Terry faced his Alzheimer’s disease (an ’embuggerance’, as he called it) publicly and bravely. Over that last few years, it was his writing that sustained him. His legacy will endure for decades to come. My sympathies go out to Terry’s wife Lyn, their daughter Rhianna, to his close friend Rob Wilkins, and to all closest to him.

“Terry passed away in his home, with his cat sleeping on his bed surrounded by his family on 12 March 2015. Diagnosed with PCA1 in 2007, he battled the progressive disease with his trademark determination and creativity, and continued to write. He completed his last book, a new Discworld novel, in the summer of 2014, before succumbing to the final stages of the disease.

“We ask that the family are left undisturbed at this distressing time.”

To read this message on the web, go to http://www.pjsmprints.com.

There are times in life when people must know when not to let go. Balloons are designed to teach small children this.

– Sir Terry Pratchett

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Writer’s Group

Tuesday night I attended a holiday party thrown by the local writer’s group. I called up the contact person to ask about where and when they met. She invited me to their annual holiday party – even though we had never met. I have been dying for some adult conversation with other writers so I accepted. She said I could bring someone. My husband was my plus one. We had a wonderful time. There were all sorts of interesting people there – published authors and newbies alike. I even found one woman who shares many of my views on life and politics.

While there, I found out the following about the group:
– Every meeting starts with each member reading aloud eight pages of his/her manuscript.
– The members can write/read about anything under the sun (no matter how offensive it may be).
– Any other member reserves the right to leave if they become offended (although, in the last six years, that has never happened).
– All opinions must be constructive and polite. Destructive criticism of any kind is not allowed.

I really love the group I have found. While getting ready for the next meeting, I have managed to finally finish and polish my first chapter. I intend to read it at the next meeting. I am so excited. I just cannot wait. I really look forward to getting reviews and advice from published authors. I think a writer’s group can be really helpful to new authors. They offer the advice and support that so many of us are missing. There are so many famous published authors who really hate writer’s groups (Dean Koontz for one). But I am willing to give this one a chance. I will attend my first actual meeting on January 6, 2015. They meet the first and third Tuesday of every month. So I will write more about this group that week. But at least for now, these people have inspired me to write more and love doing it.

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Hack and Attack

I have been introduced to a new ARG (Augmented Reality Game). It is called Ingress. This game was created by Niantic Labs, a subdivision of Google. I have never played an ARG before. I have been researching them lately. They are very fascinating to me. Here is more about my current obsession…

According to its Wiki, Ingress is “a near-real time augmented reality massively multiplayer online pervasive game created by Niantic Labs, a start-up within Google, originally for Android devices, and since July 14, 2014 for Apple’s iOS. The game has a complex science fiction back story with a  continuous open narrative.

The gameplay consists of establishing ‘portals’ at places of public art, landmarks, cenotaphs, etc., and linking them to create virtual triangular fields over geographic areas. Progress in the game is measured by the number of Mind Units, i.e. people, nominally controlled by each faction (as illustrated on the Intel Map). The necessary links between portals may range from meters to kilometers, or to hundreds of kilometers in operations of considerable logistical complexity. International links and fields are not uncommon, as Ingress has attracted an enthusiastic following in cities worldwide amongst both young and old, to the extent that the gameplay is itself a lifestyle for some, including tattoos.”

I am not so into it that it has become a “lifestyle” for me. In fact, I just like to take out portals when I am in the area. My husband and I usually travel together. Luckily, we are in the same faction. There is a green faction called The Enlightened and a blue faction called The Resistance. Each faction vies for control of portals throughout any one area. My husband and I are green, but live in a blue-dominated area. We are working to change that.

This game is a great social outlet. There are various Google+ groups for faction members of certain areas. They arrange meetups, raids and such. It is great fun. It reminds me of Geocaching. We still do that on occasion.  I will write more about that in another blog. I love games that force you to get out and actually do things – get to know your community and surroundings. I homeschool my kids and I work from home. So this gives me a chance to get out and meet people. And (unlike the SCA) it is free. The game/app is a free download and I usually make stops along a path that I am already traveling.

Check out this game! We can always use new recruits – as long as you choose The Enlightened. 🙂

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About J

At the age of 13, I hunched in a desk at the back of the seventh grade social studies classroom. I had been enrolled in this school for a little over a month. This was the seventh new school in as many years. I stared down at my history book and tried to make myself invisible. You would think I would be used to being the new kid. I had been a “navy brat” most of my childhood. But, I never got used to it. I glanced at the crowd of hair bows and backs, determined not make a friend this time. Every time I did, we moved. So what was the point. It was better to just sit there – invisible.

Then, she walked in. She was almost a head taller than me. The florescent lights shimmered off the golden flecks in her bobbed hair. She stood withering in front of the class, looking down at her delicate clasped hands. Another new kid! Yes! The teacher introduced J to the class. J took her new book and worked her way to the seat next to me.

“Hi!” I said.

“H-hello.”

“My name is Sonja and I am new here too! If you like, I can show you around and sit with you at lunch.”

“OK. Thanks.”

Later on, we sat with each other at lunch. It turns out that she had been attending a near-by private school. So, she actually knew a few of the kids. We talked about the differences between private school and public school. I told her about many of the schools I had attended, along with the difference between base housing and civilian housing. We had a great time that day. I had spent so much time trying to make J feel welcome that I totally forgot about the fact that I didn’t want another friend.

Fast forward thirty years….

I stood in my kitchen, wondering what to make for dinner. Dinner was actually the last thing on my mind, to be honest. I was thinking about how bad I felt (still recovering from the flu), mom’s doctor appointments, chores I needed to complete, bills that needed paying, and about a hundred other depressing things. I didn’t know how I was going to get everything done, feeling as I did. Then I hear a special ringtone “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh. It’s my best friend calling!” I answer with a “Hello friend!” It’s J! “Hey chica!” she says. And, just like that, my worrying thoughts melt away.

We spend the next hour talking about everything going on in our lives. Even though there are hundreds of miles between us, we still talk as often as we can and we keep in touch. She has always been there for me. She was there for my divorce, my second wedding, the birth of my first child. Through everything, she held my hand and told me I was awesome. She loves me unconditionally. Her shoulder gives me strength, her voice gives me encouragement.

There are many reasons why I chose to write about J today. You see, it is very hard for me to make friends. I have LOTS of acquaintances, but only one real BFF. Also, I have no siblings. She is the sister I never had. No one really knows me like she does. So, she means everything to me. I treasure everything about her.

The other reason I write about her is that today is her birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY SISSY! I love you with all my heart!

This blog is dedicated to you….

 

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Writer’s Block, Flighting Idea Syndrome and Other Pleasantries

This is from a fellow blogger, with permission. You can check out her blog at creativityisdefiance.wordpress.com. She is a great writer!

Creativity is Defiance

I imagine that many bloggers would consider themselves writers. I haven’t posted any of my real writing on here, but I suppose that writing a blog post is similar to writing a story (be it a short story, a novel, a poem, etc.)

I consider myself a writer but, as I’ve said before, it’s less than a profession but more than a hobby. However, I, like most writers, often encounter problems while writing. We’re all familiar with writer’s block. I refuse to believe there is a writer who has never experienced writer’s block. That writer does not exist.

I, myself, suffer from what I have dubbed “Flighting Idea Syndrome.” Many of you may also suffer from this debilitating disease without even knowing it. Flighting Idea Syndrome (FIS) can be characterized by the sufferer exhibiting symptoms similar to Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). You can never stick with one…

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Gulf Wars and the SCA

Me in a period Viking costume

At Gulf Wars, I become Caiterina O’Hara, in Viking costume

Today, I will delve into my love and passion, the SCA. The SCA is the Society for Creative Anachronism. From the SCA website:

” The SCA is an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe. Our “Known World” consists of 19 kingdoms, with over 30,000 members residing in countries around the world. Members, dressed in clothing of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, attend events which feature tournaments, royal courts, feasts, dancing, various classes & workshops, and more.”

In March, I will be attending my fifth Gulf Wars. Gulf Wars is a week long event where the members of the SCA gather together in Lumberton Mississippi to enjoy the classes, combat, and fun of the Middle Ages. There are usually about 4,000 people in attendance. It usually takes place during the week of spring break (this year, March 10-17, 2013). You don’t have to be a member to attend, but you do receive a membership discount. For the week you are there, you must wear an attempt at pre-17th century clothing (that we call “garb”). There is a Page School for children ages 5-12. We also have teen activities nightly and a Wee Ones quest for those under five. For the adults, there are classes, dances, parties, chivalric combat, rapier combat, archery, hounds, falconry, jousting, shopping, bakeries, food merchants, bardic circles around the fire, fancy courts, and much much more. It is the most fun my family has all year.

I have been asked by several newcomers what to expect at their first Gulf Wars. So, I am including my experiences. Keep in mind that this view is from a member of Staff. It will be different for a fighter, royalty, artist, or virtually everyone else. This is my typical week.

My family (consisting of my husband, my 14 year old daughter, my 11 year old son, and myself) usually arrives early (the Friday before) and we help with set-up. When we arrive, we go to our encampment area (about a mile from the main activity area and Page School) and set up our tent. We usually camp with a group called Loch Ruadh. This is an SCA group based in Benbrook, Texas. Our tent is a 10 X 20 garage pavilion that we bought at Sam’s (for around $200). I love it. It looks medieval without being a real pain to put together. There are some who camp in an actual medieval period tent. They are gorgeous to look at but rather expensive (usually around $1500). Then, we unload our van and set up camp. We take the normal things you usually take camping. We have our cots and bedding, tables, chairs, camp stove (with two large propane tanks), ice chest and box with food for the week, lanterns, garb for the week, and toiletries. After set up, we then go to see the Event Steward. This is the person in charge of the event. This year, it is Master Erik of Telemark. He then lets us know what all needs to be done on site. My entire family pitches in. My husband usually helps set up pavilions. I am the Page School Department head, so I go to inventory and sign out the supplies for the Page School. My daughter acts as runner and messenger. She is 14 and knows the site layout well by now. She also looks for her friends from last year. My son is 11 and usually helps me out  at the Page School. We will continue this routine until the Page School opens on Tuesday morning.

We usually take a break on Sunday and help out at the front gate. Site officially opens at 7 am on Sunday. So, we all get dressed up in our fanciest garb and help out at registration. My husband and I sign people in. My daughter answers questions and directs people. My son runs doughnuts and coffee to the volunteers and those standing in line. We usually have so much fun that we usually don’t leave until well after lunch time. I would love to stay even longer but I have the Page School to check on.

On Monday, we help out around camp. Many Loch Ruadh people get there on Sunday or Monday. So we help them set up and get camp all laid out. We have a communal kitchen and dining area. We set up the tables and make them look pretty.  We visit with friends and enjoy ourselves.

On Tuesday, I arrive early at the Page School pavilion. I get ready for our 10 am opening. I make sure that the coordinator for the day (my friend Nan) is there and ready to go. At ten, we sign kids in and direct them to their table. This year we will go see the opening ceremonies (a parade with pageantry and horses), followed by medieval indoor games. We break for lunch from 12-1. After we sign everyone back in at one, we have outdoor games until three. After the kids are all picked up, my kids and I head back to camp to check in with everyone. I like to hear how they spent their day. Terrence usually fights with the other chivalric fighters. My husband usually hangs out with the blacksmith and learns how to make some beautiful tools. He will also help build a period building. Many others take classes on weaving, scroll painting, book binding, costuming, woodworking, cooking and many others. At six, we gather for our communal meal and visit with each other. Afterwards, my family heads down to the Page School for teen activities. On Tuesday, that includes an SCA 101 class. This class teaches them what the SCA is all about. There will be talks on youth combat, Arts and Sciences, and service within the SCA.

On Wednesday morning, I check in at the Page School to make sure things are going well. Then, I see if there are any classes in the Arts and Sciences area I want to take. If not, I go to Merchant’s Row and visit with my friend Floria at the Spinning Toad. She sells cloaks and garb at her shop.  I usually work some for her in exchange for free merchandise. There is a lot of bartering in Merchants’ Row.  My husband takes the kids for some archery and they usually stop off and watch the combat for a bit. My daughter goes off in search of friends. After dinner that night, we head back to the Page School for the Teen Scavenger hunt. They will walk around site and get various people to sign their bingo sheets. They have to find people like “Someone who has been to every Gulf War” (this is the 22nd one) or someone who is a Knight, or the King of Ansteorra, etc. While they do that, I attend Midnight Madness. It takes place from 7-11 pm. There are great bargains to be had. It is sort of a huge retail party on Merchants’ Row. We all meet back at the Page School around 10 to see how everyone did. We give out prizes and have a great time.

On Thursday, I again check in with the Page School before heading off to classes and meetings. There is also archery, the siege target competition, rapier combat, classes, and jousting. While we are out, we usually stop in at the bakery for the wonderful fresh baked meat pies and pastries. There is also a place that has the best peanut butter, jelly, and bacon sandwiches. They are a lot better than they sound. The water bearers give them out to all the combatants. The fighters need the protein to keep them going between battles. We then watch as various battles (with over 1000 people per side) rage on. I stop in at various pavilions and visit with several friends from other Kingdoms. (The SCA is a world-wide organization. Therefor, there are people there from as far away as Australia and Canada. I love hearing their stories from home.) That evening, we return to camp for dinner and companionship. We look at all the finds from last night’s Midnight Madness and hear various war stories. After dinner, my husband and children go off to teen activities (Open Gaming) while I attend Ansteorran Court (my home kingdom). During court, many friends receive awards and make announcements. Then, it is off to pick up the family and head home for some story-telling and singing around the camp fire. There are many traveling bards at Gulf Wars. They usually stop by our fire for s’mores, warm drinks and song.

On Friday, the Page School has a Meet and Greet with the hounds. The teens have an Equestrian 101 class. In the afternoon, there is the great Ravine Battle. Thousands of men and women rush the ravine to come together in a deafening array of clanging armor, clashing swords, and swishing arrows. It is definitely a sight to behold. This is followed by more archery, shopping, classes, and dinner at camp. After dinner, we go off to the Teen Social. The teens gather for games, chatting and visiting. Those interested in dancing will attend the Grand War Ball afterwards. For the adults, there is the Known World Party with a Roman theme. Then, it is a walk back to camp to rest and visit.

On Saturday, I have officer meetings while my husband works on woodworking and blacksmithing. My daughter hangs out with her friends and my son watches his dad at the forge  (across the street from our camp). We get together for lunch at the cafeteria, then head off for the volunteer raffle. At four, we attend the Great Court and Closing Ceremonies. Afterwards, we head back to camp for dinner. I like to go dancing after dinner, so I head up to Bede Hall for the last ball of the War. Later, we all gather around the campfire for more singing and story telling. This will be our last night at war and the atmosphere is somewhat melancholy. We all talk about what went well and what we need to do to make next year even better.

Sunday morning sees most of us up early for packing and loading up. My husband gets our van (from the parking lot nearly 2 miles from us) and comes back to load it.  At nine, I have a post war staff meeting. Afterwards, we help everyone with last minute loading and tying down. We all head out as site closes at noon. It has been a lovely war and we can’t wait until next year.

For more information on this event, check out the website or comment below.

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Under the Pier

When we walk on a bridge or pier we see the “right side,” the side designed for traffic, the side meant to be exposed to the world. But what holds us up is the unseen underside, the structure that makes the rest possible.

What beliefs are so foundational for you that you rarely think about them?

First, I strongly believe that a child should be allowed to form his or her own belief system. Ethics should be taught by parents and family members. But, the core beliefs should be chosen by the child. I am so tire of people thinking my son should have short hair and act brutish. For one, he is only 11. Secondly, he loves his waist length hair. He is not into sports. He is a very friendly, loving, sensitive boy and that is fine. My daughter has short hair, wears jeans and t-shirts, and loves to climb trees. She is fourteen. I love them both just the way they are. I have taught them what is ethical (right and wrong) but I have let them choose their own beliefs. It is fine with me if they turn out Buddhist, Pagan, Christian, UU, or even atheist. It is their choice. I cannot and will not choose it for them. I heard one woman say that she was Christian because her grandmother was. That was her only reason. I asked her if she did some research before she chose a faith that was right for her. She said “Sure. I went to a Methodist church, a Southern Baptist Church, an Episcopal church, and a Missionary Baptist church.” I found that very funny. Why? When I was searching for a faith that I could depend on I did my own research. I spoke with a couple of Jewish friends about Judaism. I attended a Catholic church for a couple of months. I also tried attended a Pagan circle, a UU church, a Methodist church, a Missionary Baptist church and spoke with several Buddhist and Humanist friends. I finally stuck with Unitarian Universalism. But it took me a long time to find that fit. I broadened my horizons. I did not just look within one religion. And I love a good challenge. I love it when I am faced with an issue that totally rocks my foundation. It makes me think long and hard and decided where my faith really lies. I want my kids to be the same way. I want them to chose a faith because that is where their heart lies – not because that is the belief I told them they would have.

My other belief is that everyone should be treated equally – period. This means I totally uphold civil rights, women’s rights, and gay rights. I think that gay couples should have the right to marry and carry insurance on their partners. It is not about being gay or straight. It is about loving someone so much that you want to spend the rest of your life with them. Hetero couple receive insurance and other spousal benefits. Gay couples should too. I also think that we should not judge a book by its cover. I used to do that. I met many Christians who treated non-Christians so horribly. I could not stand all the persecutions that were going on. I saw what groups like the Westboro Baptist Church and the KKK did to people. It made me ill. I then bagged all Christians into that group. I was wrong. The first UU church I attended was First Jefferson UU Church. The minister there was Christian and a UU. I was shocked. I listened to many sermons by him. They were astounding. I slowly began to change my view. I can no longer link all Christians together any more than I can link all Liberals or Hindus or Buddhists or Pagans together. That just leads to bigotry and hatred. This is what I mean when I say not to judge a book by its cover. Do not judge one person because of their faith, gender, race, or sexual orientation. As the UUs say, “We need not think alike to love alike.”

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Human Salvation

“The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility.”

–Vaclav Havel

What have you seen lately that gives you faith in the possibility that humans could save “this human world”?

What is altruism? Well, according to Google, it is “the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.” I could not think of any altruistic happenings so I Googled altruism. I found an interesting story about the “Layaway Angels”. Apparently, around Christmas time, there were several people nationwide who walked into a local K-Mart and paid off various layaways. They did this completely anonymously. Things like this happen more often than people think. I used to work at a doughnut shop in a small town. So many times, someone would go through the drive thru and pay for the person behind them. They said they were “paying it forward”. My mother has been in a restaurant eating her dinner. When she asked the waiter for the check, he said that her bill had already been paid. this has happened twice. These may seem like such small gestures, but the mean so much to both the giver and receiver. I think altruism, and through it Salvation, are alive in the world. I also think it will be people like those here who will save this human world. I have received so much when I am down. Last night, I was feeling lonely and a little down. My finances are in bad shape and I really needed a friend to talk to. Out of the blue, my best friend calls me. She took the time to think of me and let me know that she loves me and thinks I am wonderful. I love her so much. She had no idea that I needed her. She just called because she loves me. In yesterdays post, I wrote of my mother. I wrote how she gives and loves like she will never be hurt. Both of these women have shown me first-hand how kind and loving people can be. These two women have been my light, my rock, and my inspiration. I will try to do right by them. I will be as altruistic as I can. I will be a beacon and I will be a part of the salvation of this human world.

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Studying Salvation

From the Daily Compass:

There is no one way to salvation, whatever the manner in which a [person] may proceed. All forms and variations are governed by the eternal intelligence of the Universe that enables a [person] to approach perfection. It may be in the arts of music and painting or it may be in commerce, law, or medicine. It may be in the study of war or the study of peace. Each is as important as any other. Spiritual enlightenment through religious meditation such as Zen or in any other way is as viable and functional as any “Way.”… A person should study as they see fit.”
―Miyamoto Musashi

What practice moves you toward salvation?

OK, so the theme this month is Salvation. But, I feel as if the Daily Compass is a bit repetitive. What do you think? But, I will answer this. I am trying to keep up with the Daily Compass and really think about salvation this month.

I participate in an historical recreation group called the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc (SCA). I have played in the SCA off and on since 1988. I first found it in high school. My friends George and Talyn told me about it. They said there was the really cool place they went to every Wednesday night to hang out. They would sit around, watch knights fight in armor and talk about the middle ages (and other things). I thought I would give it a shot. I really wasn’t doing anything else so why not. I picked them up and we went to the rec center on Fort Monroe (in Hampton, VA). Fort Monroe was open to civilians and it was a beautiful backdrop to the meeting. We arrived at a two story rec center with two gyms and a game room. One gym was full of huge, burly men in various types of armor (leather, steal, etc.). The sounds of rattan weapons hitting steal rang throughout the building. I could hear the grunts of exertion and smell damp leather and sweaty men. The other gym was a little different. It contained men and women in lighter bits of armor. In fact, they looked more like costumes from the Three Musketeers.  They fought with rapiers instead of duck-taped covered rattan. the fighting style seemed more refined and plotted. Instead of heavy bangs, I heard light pings as the blades met. Then, Talyn took me to the game room. In it, there were teens and adults. All were sitting or standing in groups. There was a din of activity. Some were playing pool, some were playing cards, and some were mingling with friends they had not seen in a while. I was introduced to a Chatelain (the person in charge of new comers). She told me all about the organization and what they did. She also told me that if I needed a costume (called garb) or feast gear (medieval-looking bowls, plates, etc) to let her know. Her job was to make sure that all new people had what they needed to have fun and enjoy themselves. She told me about events that would be going on and the various local get-togethers. It was so much fun that I came back the next week, and the week after that. I was given a beautiful dress with bell sleeves, a plate, a bowl, and silverware. I went to my first event (that experience I will save for another blog) and I was hooked.

Later (Spring of 1990), I moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas. I found the group there and got back involved. I have been involved ever since. When I move, I find a new SCA group. The people are amazing.  My parents (and other non-SCA people) just don’t get why I do it. Some think I am nuts. I started out with this group and I have stayed with this group because of the people. I love them and I love the historical study. I have even taken on a Kingdom Youth Officer position (Minister of Children). In this position, I manage the Ministers of Children for all the local groups in Texas and Oklahoma.  It is daunting sometimes, but it is worth it.  I am a workaholic anyway. Since I have no work I can do from home, I do my SCA stuff. I plan youth activities for events, I contact my local officers, write reports, file, create presentations, update our website, write and teach classes online (gotta love Moodle), and write code (for said classes and website). It is a lot of work, but I love it.  Whenever I get stressed or upset, I turn to my SCA work. It is my balm, my cushion, my salvation.

I accept a service award from Their Majesties.

I accept a service award from Their Majesties.

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