A Day in the Life

Homeschooling and Medieval Living

Males Order Brides

Hello everyone!

I know it has been forever since I have posted and I do apologize. Life has just gotten in the way. I am working part time and I have taken up a new hobby – drama. Well, it isn’t new and it is much more than a hobby. It all started with my daughter…

My daughter will be 17 in June. This means a couple of things. Firstly, it is her last year in our homeschool curriculum. Secondly, it means that she must now look at what will come next in her life. These two things have kept the both of us very busy lately. I asked her what she wanted to do with her life. She said she likes to write and build/design things. But she is definitely old school. She would rather work with her hands than on the computer. Now this shocked me to death. This comes from a girl who spends hours on Skype/Minecraft/Mass Effect/Skyrim/etc. She plays with her friends online constantly. At one time, she wanted to work  for Bethesda. She still wants to do that. But, more than that, she wants to build sets for plays/movies/etc. We have been on a “Behind the Scenes Look at…” kick lately. We watched the one for Game of Thrones (even though we both hate the show) the other week. She said “I really want to do that.” OK. So, being the VERY supportive mother that I am, I began to look for local theatres where she could hone that talent and passion.

Through my searching, I found a local theatre that seemed perfect – Azle Arts Popcorn Players. They were holding auditions for their upcoming melodrama. They were in desperate need of technical and backstage crews. When I told Meaghan about it, she said she would do it if I auditioned for a part as well. I love drama and have wanted to be on the stage for as long as I can remember. But, some excuse always kept me from it. So, I said I would.

We showed up at the theatre early. I had arrived with knowledge about the play (“Males Order Brides…or Big Harry Deal’s Scandalous Scheme“) and the part I wished to play (Starr Billings). I auditioned and she volunteered. Turns out our passion was recognized. I got the lead villain and she is now THE tech crew. She will be running the lights and sound. Yay!

There is only one bad part to this – I have to provide my own costumes. The play takes place in 1870. The female villain is an actress/con artist who plays five other roles – a schoolmarm, saloon hostess, grieving aunt, society matron, and a prospector. Meaghan has been helping me with my costumes. Pinterest and Google have become our best friends. We now have a bustle and it looks great. I will be posting our project here soon. So, it looks like the both of us will be very busy. But it is a good kind of busy.

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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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Eddie Izzard’s Force Majeure Tour: Win Star World Casino (Review)

Eddie Izzard

Eddie Izzard on his Force Majeure World Tour

“Let’s start with human sacrifice,” Eddie Izzard said as he strode on stage. He was decked out in a gray suit, high heeled boots and painted fingernails. He calls himself an “action transvestite.” He is also a comedian. He performed to a sold out crowd last night at the Win Star World Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
Izzard mentioned at the beginning of his act that he had just flown in from England that day. He said his act sometimes has intermissions but this one would not. He would just plow through. “So if you have to go to the loo, just go. Or if you want to move around a bit, you can do that too,” he said. This brought a series of cheers from the audience. His energy and enthusiasm lasted well throughout the two-hour show. He was never still, bouncing and dancing his way through much of the act. He gleefully acted out bits that should have been included in the London Olympics: namely the Dressage and Burgle event.
The high point of his act was when he retold the saga of Mr. Stevens from Catering. Some call it the Canteen Sketch. He has done versions of this sketch in other tours, with additions and minor changes. It is a well-loved piece. He ended with an Ode to Mr. Stevens. He sung the final stanza to the tune of “America the Beautiful”. This brought on a spontaneous sing-along from the crowd.
Most of his material was new from gold-digging moles to jibes at various languages and accents. He injected his older bits with some new jests and observations. The crowd still roared with laughter at each familiar bit. He then performed bits of his act in both German and French. He was very surprised when the crowd understood and laughed at the appropriate parts. “The Oklahoma-Texas border gets German.” He worked the crowd rather well. He even stopped at one point during his performance to ask the audience “Now where was I?” He then waited until he received the appropriate answer. He is like a hyped-up man with ADHD. He would go off-tangent much of the time. But he always came back around to the subject at hand.
He ended his show with a “happy holidays” sign-off. When the crowd gave him a standing ovation, he returned to the stage as if he never left (almost in mid-sentence). He continued on to talk about The Lord of the Rings for a bit. Then, he signed off for good. All in all, he gave as only Eddie Izzard can – frantic comedy done right. Bravo.

Eddie Izzard will finish his Force Majeure Tour in Australia. His complete touring schedule and other information can be found at eddieizzard.com.

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School Choice Week

schoolchoiceweek.com

National School Choice Week is January 25-31, 2015.

“National School Choice Week (NSCW) provides an unprecedented opportunity, every January, to shine a spotlight on the need for effective education options for all children. Independently planned by a diverse coalition of individuals, schools and organizations, NSCW features thousands of special events across the country. The Week is a nonpartisan and nonpolitical public awareness effort.”

I recently came across School Choice Week while I was researching for my homeschooling book. I took a good look at the website and I spoke with a customer service representative. The site is basically a place for organizers and schools to sign up. I looked for events happening in my area through their nifty search engine. I found four events in my state. The one in Dallas is an open house for a Catholic school. All the others were over 200 miles from me. Although there is a great event happening on the steps of the Capitol Building in Austin, it’s a four hour trip.

As soon as you open their site, a chat window opens up and a CSR asks if they can help you. It was a little annoying at first. I told her that I was a homeschooler and I was interested in helping out the cause somehow. She said I should be an organizer and directed me to the homeschool section of the site. When I arrived at the site, I noticed the form for organizers to fill out. So, I filled it out. If approved, I will receive a complimentary box full of goodies such as scarves, posters, fliers and more. I am not sure what I will do with all the goodies if I get them. Do I just sit at a table downtown during the School Choice Week and talk up homeschooling? That would be odd. Most people would ignore me or think I was three fries short of a happy meal.

Does anyone have any ideas about what I could do with all this information? How can I get the word out that there is a need for effective education options for children. I guess I could set up on the steps of the Fort Worth court house. I would love to do this locally but my town is so small. We have a tabernacle in the middle of town. I guess I could set up there right next to the farmers’ market. “Hey! Have a flier with that apple. Support education and farmers at the same time!” Maybe. I would love to get your feedback. Just leave your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks! BTW, this will take place January 25-31, 2015.

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NaNoWriMo – Help or Hindrance?

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every November 1-30. It started in 1999 as a motivational tactic for a group of young writers. It has since blossomed into a national non-profit organization. Today, there are over 300,000 participants who all agree to write at least 50,000 words by 11:59 pm on November 30. According to their website: “Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.”

The good about NaNoWriMo:

1. It encourages adults (and youth) to write. During the first couple of years of homeschooling, my kids absolutely hated writing. This would have been a great tool to use with them. Since I found out about it last year, I have used their tools and resources to nurture a love of writing. My daughter now writes fan fiction – and loves doing it. I am still working on my son.

2. It creates inspiration. At the beginning of 2013, I had a dream of writing. It didn’t have to be a novel. I had already written several short stories. A friend of mine introduced me to NaNoWriMo late that October. I signed up that November and wrote my little heart out. As hard as I tried, I could not finish that novel. I just cannot write crap intentionally. I have to revise as I go. Then, I revise again. And again. I finally made it to chapter three. Yay me! That is still a far cry from a complete novel, but I digress…

3. It helps my depression. Up until November, I was depressed and had no energy. I normally love to read and write. But, the depression had a strong hold on me that year. NaNoWriMo and my friend J helped me out. I signed up and sat down with J. We put together an outline for my novel and I began to write. I talked with the NaNoWriMo community and I had a goal. I tend to become obsessive over things and this was no exception. I wrote like a gal on fire. I still revised like crazy. I re-wrote more than I wrote. But it was all good. I had purpose and I was ecstatic.

The bad about NaNoWriMo:

1. It encourages bad writing. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to simply write. This allows a lot of drivel to make its way to the page. Revision usually culls the crap. But, revision is not encouraged. Participants are told to simply write – anything. Some writers become so obsessed with meeting the 50,000 word deadline (and, thus, winning NaNoWriMo), that they forget all about revising.

2. It sets the writer up to fail. It encourages writers to write, write, write. This is good. Then, the writer finishes that novel and sends it off to a publisher. The publisher will either accept it or not. Rejection letters are a common thing among new writers. But let’s suppose that it is actually accepted by a publisher. Now you have a book out there that is not being read. So much emphasis is put on writing, that reading takes a back burner. What was the last novel you read? I think I may be the exception. I just finished reading my fourth novel in a month (and that is a bit low for me). Getting a book published doesn’t really mean much if there is no one to read it. For more on this subject, check out Laura Miller’s article at Salon.

3. It makes my stress/depression worse. OK, so I was really manic for a month. I didn’t finish my 50,000 words. I spent so much time revising that I felt like a failure. I had little to show for all my hard work. I had spent a month of writing furiously and I only had about 3,000 words to show for it. December saw me spiraling downward again. I felt so low – again. It has taken me months to really snap out of that feeling of failure and hopelessness.

I have thought long and hard about NaNoWriMo. Do I want to participate this year? I think I will but not to the extent of last year. I will not even register this time. Instead, I am just going to write a little every day (and revise, revise, revise). I will not try to finish that novel in a month. I will work on it. I still only have 3,000 words. But that is just fine with me. It will get finished eventually. I have my own goals in life. I have taken on a couple of freelance writing gigs. That is way more than I had last year. Since writing is my only income, it makes a world of difference. That novel is not going to pay my electric this month. So, I will work on it between actual paying gigs. I think it helped me begin my writing career but I won’t rely on it entirely anymore.

What do you think of NaNoWriMo? How has it helped you? Feel free to comment about your experiences with it. I love to be enlightened.

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Apple Blossoms

We think of the harvest as coming when the apples are ripe in the fall, but apple blossoms provide their own kind of harvest, in ephemeral moments of beauty.

What moment of joy or beauty have you harvested recently?

Yesterday, I was able to attend an SCA meeting. I have not attended one in months. Since I have a new closer route, I was able to pull it off. I saw many friends I have missed. I also won a door prize (the movie “Ironclad”). It was an awesome night.  We talked about Gulf Wars and worked on the meal plan. My friend Sybil french braided my hair and I laughed so hard. I have missed being able to be with my friends. I used to go to events and meetings and other activities. Lately, I have not been able to because of lack of funds. I have to borrow the gas money just to get to work. I am hoping this closer route will be better and I will no longer have to borrow money. We will see.

Anyway, to concentrate on the positive…

My friend Aingeal said that she had some garb for us. That is great! Now I won’t have any gaps in my wardrobe.  And my friend Floria offered me some garb in exchange for my working for her at Gulf Wars. I can’t wait until then. We are going to have so much fun! I have such wonderful friends. I love them very much! They invited me to Scribes and Illuminators on Sunday. I am going to try to go. I will also drag my kids along. Meg loves to paint and Iain likes to visit with everyone. We usually sit around and paint scrolls. When someone in the SCA is called into court to receive an award, that person receives a beautiful scroll to go with it. These scrolls are hand-painted, scripted with calligraphy, and tailored for individual people. It is very time consuming but worth it. The last award I received was the Sable Crane. There was a gorgeous scroll that went with it. It was done all in Celtic design. I created a persona I use for the SCA. The SCA re-creates the era between the Fall of Rome and the death of Queen Elizabeth I. When you join, you choose a name and persona of someone who might have lived during that time. I chose Caiterina O’Hara, born 810 AD in Sligo, Ireland. So, when I received a scroll in a Celtic theme, I was overjoyed. Someone took the time to create something so precious just for me. The picture below shows this scroll. I have also included a photo of Their Royal Majesties Aaron and Amelot of Ansteorra. It was such a wonderful event. I have really missed them. For more info on the SCA check out the link in the upper right. Want to know even more? Feel free to contact me or comment here. I love talking about it. It is a passion of mine.:)

Sable Crane scroll and pendant.

Sable Crane scroll and pendant.

I accept a service award from Their Majesties.
I accept a service award from Their Majesties.

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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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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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What We Won’t Touch

From the Daily compass:

What we are reluctant to touch often seems the very fabric of our salvation.”
― Don DeLillo

Who are you reluctant to contact or acknowledge? How might they be an agent of your salvation?

OK, I can really see how the Daily Compass goes with the CLF. It all revolves around a theme. This month it is salvation. I wrote on this a bit yesterday. I am a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. It is a medieval re-creation group. I am a youth officer for the Kingdom of Ansteorra. I think I have been avoiding my friends in the SCA. I did not realize this at first. But I really have. I feel guilty that I do not have the gas/money/transportation to attend meetings. I feel horrible and disappointed that I cannot make the meetings/get-togethers. I really miss them so much. I avoid them because it hurts too much. But I really do need to contact them. They need to know what is going on. I think that if I just talk to them, it will begin a healing process that I really need right now. I need to get what I can done and ask for help with the rest. I have really been shirking my duties as a Kingdom officer. I don’t attend events and I have not done much work. I really need to talk to my Kingdom seneschal and let him know what is going on. I can alleviate many of my problems if I just ask for help. It is so hard to do that though. It makes me feel weak. I try to be as strong as I can. I get so frustrated that I can’t do everything. That feeling makes me depressed. Then, I get nothing done. It is a vicious cycle. So, I need to stop being upset and do something about it. Today, I will email/call everyone I need to in order to get back on track and get my work done. There is an event coming up called Round Table. It is a semi-annual kingdom-wide officer meeting. I was going to go. Now, it looks like I won’t be able to attend after all. I was so looking forward to it. I just can’t find a way to make it there. So, I will find someone who can go for me. I have not missed a single one since I took office. I teach a class and have a forum discussion. The last class had one participant. It was awful. So, maybe it won’t be a bad thing for me to miss it. I don’t know. I will just see. I will talk to an SCA friend of mine and see what she thinks. She always speaks her mind and gives great advice. I have my salvation in sight. I can feel the tension starting to fade already. It helps to get a game plan together. I look forward to the healing with anticipation and gratitude.

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