Thursday, April 17, 2014

we are of the age

My father died at the age of 54 from pancreatic cancer. It was devastating and difficult and while he took his last breath his family stood at his bedside holding his hands. He was not alone and he died surrounded by love. It was a beautiful September day, bright blue skies and sunny. Unusual for Newfoundland. This moment in time is seared into my being like a brand on the skin. He was young and so were we, it was an unexpected death, he went before his time, or so I was told over and over at his memorial service.

Since that moment my families, both of them, have more or less remained intact. As though the gods, having decided that this particular trauma was enough for the time being, had left us alone. Now the past few weeks that has changed. And once again I found myself in a hospital with all the familiarity and uncertainty it brings when a loved one is in need of medical attention, a looming heart surgery and the possibility of not being on the planet in corporeal form anymore.

We are of the age when parents start to get sick, become frail, break down. When unexpected phone calls mean holding one's breath, when the waiting begins for that terrible what if, because it's no longer a what if but a when?.

We are of the age when we need to learn, if we have not already done so, how to let go, how to prepare, how to cope with the knowledge that the table may very well be set for one less. It's the moment when everything changes, as it always does.

we are of the age....

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

apprentices are not servants

I have three apprentices. They are all remarkable, wonderful women. We have a fun relationship because I am not a demanding laurel. I think that firstly, it's a hobby so it should be fun and secondly they will go at their own pace and learn as they go. We check in with each other to make sure things are okay and they have all been told that I am the person they should come to if they have problems within the SCA ( or even outside of it) especially if they have problems with other people no matter what because talking about it before reacting about it is the better choice. The general sentence goes " IF you feel something has gotten out of hand, or you feel uncomfortable about it and you want back up or whatever come to me and I will deal with it." And mostly they deal with stuff on their own because they are all smart, grown women who know their own minds but it's nice to have backup and I think it helps them to know that if shit goes sideways I've got their backs. We have a fun relationship because this is a hobby. And while my job is to teach, to foster, to protect and be an all-around den mum we all know that ultimately for us it's about friendship first.

They are known as the Dark Side minions. This started long before the Despicable me movies because I'm a huge star wars fan and I also play in the 501st which is the Imperial side of things, the tag line for that club is "Bad guys doing good" so the nickname of minion was theirs from the get go. Now with the cute little yellow minions running around the big screen stealing people's hearts it's taken on a larger than life sort of meaning but ultimately it is still a personal thing, an in joke, a term of deep affection between us and we've talked about it so that they know if they don't like it, if they don't want to be called that they can just say and it will end. They are minions in the most fun sense of the word. What they are not is my band of personal servants or slaves.

The latest incident of someone saying to one of my girls "You're a minion so you can do this!" really pissed me off. Firstly ... just no. This whole attitude is wrong. An apprentice no matter what cute name they get labled with, is NOT now not ever anyone's servant and if anyone would like my apprentices to do something for them then they should ask politely. Ailitha, Gunhild and Saraswati are people and should be respected as such. They do things for me because THEY want to not because I have told them to or demand them to or because it is expected because that is not now nor ever the case. So if other people see Ailitha doing my feast gear for me it is because she has asked if she could, we have discussed that she does not have to, and she has reiterated many times she likes to do this and I have told her how grateful I am for it but I DO NOT EXPECT HER TO DO THIS. I expect her and her sisters to be brilliant, to shine at their respective arts and crafts and above all to have fun.
So this is my message to the SCA universe. Apprentices and all of their counterparts are not servants they are people who have a special placement within the hierarchy of the SCA.  As for my apprentices, well they have all been told they have the right to say no if they do not want to do something, respect that answer no matter how much it annoys you, if they tell you you have crossed a line then back off, they have all been told they should stand up for themselves because that is part of the learning process. In short they are not to be mistreated, abused or made to feel as though they are under anyone's thumb especially not because we use the term minion. If I ever catch or hear of anyone doing that to any of my girls again I assure you I will come after you like an angry mother wolf.

Monday, January 6, 2014


As soon as we knew that our most awesome of friends Prothall and Cecilia had won crown we also knew we'd be heading up to Sweden in January for the coronation. It booked out fast. We managed to get my apprentice, Ailitha to come and the decision was to all drive up together. She arrived the day before and then on Friday, after manic packing on my part for 2 days straight Marcus can home from work and at 3pm we packed the car and got on the go.

Usually I take pictures of this but I stuffed the camera in a different bag. Oops.
We drove up to Puttgarten and got on the ferry to Rödby right away so that meant no break in the journey then drove through Denmark up to Copenhagen and over the massive bridge. In difference to the last time we drove up the Sweden for a coronation it was mild and mostly just a bit drizzley not a raging blizzard. We still managed to get lost.

We arrived on site sometime after 9pm and after the 1st round of hugs found our respective rooms and started the unpacking process.  Our awesome room mates rearranged  their bedding so that I could have a bottom bunk and Marcus could sleep on the top one over me. ( thank you) Once dressed in Garb it was off to another time and space.

Friday was about presents. The first one was the tablet weaving starter kit from Mervi ( who is co author on a fantastic book about it applesies-and-fox-noses) and to my delight and surprise this included a copy of this very book which is awesome and then Mistress Katheryn gave me her tablet weaving loom. The generosity of my friends is always astonishing to me, I don't ever expect presents but it's wonderful when that happens.

Later on Sir Gilliam brought me a bottle of his amazing mead ( Dark Side mead complete with the appropriate pictures on the lable) and I told him I'd have to get him back, he said that's okay because I was doing his scroll, bwahahahaha I just smiled and said yeah some time... knowing full well that I had finished his long awaited knighting scroll and that he'd get it at the event but he did not know this. The mead will come with us to Feast of fools. He also introduced me to my evil twin. He regrets this. We sat in a delightful round with people we'd never met before and some we don't get to see very often and had a great chat until we decided it was time to sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

Marcus in his new viking garb

Saturday's highlights were breakfast, court at which we had great seats so I could take photos of the Knighting ceremony and stuff! becoming Queen's Companion and being given a key to the "royal room". lunch, Hanging out with great people, getting an amazing lesson in tablet weaving from Katheryn, the realisation that I understand a HELL of a lot of Swedish even if I can't speak it. The duchy party, conversations about cats, then sitting with the best people at feast and laughing so hard through almost all of it that people thought we were "on something".  SALMON...don't touch the salmon. Chocolate mintu, conversations about everything, meeting more new to me people. Eventually I ended up quietly slinking off to sit with HRM and make tea in the lateness and chat until we were so tired neither of us could do more than yawn. I slept very well.

Sunday I was up early so toddled down to sit in the breakfast room and munch on yummy pancakes and drink coffee and chat with Mary which was lovely. As more people awoke and came in the conversation expanded and was awesome...eventually the husband and minion joined us. After that it was time to pack and slowly make our goodbyes. 

On the way down to the bridge we decided to eat on the way maybe stopping in Malmö and I remembered that Cecilia and Prothall had planned to meet up with some folks there and have lunch so a quick phone cal later we had lunch plans in Malmö. After much confusion with the parking ticket thingy we found everyone in the train station and had a fantastic lunch  which sort of extended the event, after watching Russia score the 1st goal in the bronze game of the juniors we hit the road for home. Caught the ferry with plenty of time, purchased chocolate mintu and then made it home where we proceeded to flop on the couch and watch Alias.

Today we had an easy start, ate a big brunch and watched Despicable Me 2 with minion#1 and then she also hit the road to go home. Soon it will be back to reality with a bump.

 It was a brilliant event and I really want to say THANK YOU to all the people who worked their asses off to make it so wonderful.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


is a melancholy month for me. It's the month my dad died and it's also the month I always feel I should be starting something new, like school. I was a student for so long  ( 9 years of post secondary) that it's kind of ingrained into me September = school. I get restless and kind of peevish and above all melancholy. I must admit if I still lived in Canada ( and had the dosh) I'd probably be working on another degree and probably linguistics but here I'm not sure what I want to do so we've kind of left it alone. Now we can't do that any more, I can't do that any more. I've reached that "I'm bored out of my mind." stage. Let's face it house work isn't that big of a challenge and being on my own almost all the time, as much as I enjoy my quiet, is not always the healthiest thing. The recent week long visit from my minion and surrogate kid showed me what I'm missing. That contact to another bright spark who helps stir imagination and gets me off the couch. So himself and i talked about this last  night because it's showing now, that sadness, that restlessness to do something more, to be something more and the solution is pretty simple. A bicycle and language courses.

A bicycle so I'm more mobile than I am now. We live in the back of beyond as far as German public transportation standards go and while I love to walk 6km to the nearest bus stop is too much even for me. But I could easily cycle to the local train station and from there go anywhere. ( that has rails). So maybe this weekend we will go bicycle shopping and see what's available and sign up for a Japanese language course because right now that's at the top of my list and it has a bit of a time limit. There's a Japanese artist coming to Fedcon next year and I'd really like to be able to say at least the very basic to him without a translator. After that on my list is Swedish, and then to get my French and Italian up to speed and after that who knows tho Russian is also on that list. So this is my small list of things and even just planning helps to alleviate some of the stagnation I currently feel.  

The bottom line is I really miss university and in my heart I'm a forever student.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Dark Side

In a discussion I have been having with a dear friend of mine, to answer a question or rather a comment he made about a comment I made on why I don't enjoy the SCA that much any more this was my reply.  I had spoken about the fact that I seem to spend more time avoiding the SCA and many people in it than enjoying events for what they were.

It's not the closest Scadians that make it unpleasant but rather the general message that gets spread around through the social media's comment sections etc.... Read the comments on facebook and you see that often one of the things that gets said is "I wish we could banish all modern things" and then the argument goes on from there. Usually citing cameras and photography as one of the big no nos. Well I have a big issue with this particular pet peeve because this is also my hobby and my time away from home with friends. I like to have photos of the events to remember them by but, now, every time I pull out my camera I wonder who I will be offending. If I have conversations with my friends about modern day things I wonder the same thing. I've been doing a lot of thinking about this over the last few years, especially now that we are a part of the 501st, and I have something to compare to.

The level of "Spoils my dream" statements have gone through the roof in the last few years and I get fed up of this. Whose dream are we talking about? I don't run around complaining about the people who push for correct 14th C or complain about the fact that some of these people who whinge also smoke, drink coke, wear glasses...etc... we live in the modern world and some things will just be a part of this. It's called the Society for CREATIVE ANACHRONISM for a reason. There are plenty of far more accurate and period re-enactment groups out there to satisfy people's needs. If the SCA doesn't fit these needs then why not branch out instead of complaining or worse trying to conform the group to the individual.  Except the issue is when people do branch out, join other medieval groups they get shit on for doing so because their time is not longer 100% given to the SCA. Personally I think being a part of more than one costume / re-enactment group is healthy. It gives you multiple perspectives and more options to learn, see things from a different point of view, but other people don't seem to get this and they bitch about this as well.  Really right now there's no pleasing people.

The SCA was never a "dream" for me it was a place I met great people and relaxed while wearing a costume. Somewhere along the line it stopped being a costume and became a little bit more which was nice but now I no longer feel as comfortable in the SCA as I once did.  I feel marginalized because mainly this is a weekend hobby for me and mostly what I want to do is relax and spend time with my friends that I don't get to see all that often in a setting that is often gorgeous. Instead, now, I find myself having to defend my point of view, or trying to tip toe around people who get insulted because I talk about my normal life with friends I have not seen in ages, or because I brought out my camera. It's become a lot of work to try and fit in which is a little ironic since it used to be the place were misfits and outsiders were welcome.
If I hear the sentences "because it's not period", or "it's spoiling my dream" one more time I think I will just explode.

I also find that lately I am surrounded by certain people who bring out the absolute worst in me because their behaviour, lack of manners, the tendency to make everything about themselves and go overboard on the one-upmanship just pisses me off. I find myself looking at who will be attending events to see if I actually want to be in the same space or not. I realise this is my problem and not theirs but the root cause is friction brought on primarily by the reasons stated above. I don't play SCA to win. It's not a game with a score card to tick off how many awards you have or how much your pointy hat weighs. I'm not part of the in crowd or the out crowd but I have a circle of close friends and the option to gain new ones. There is no level up power button, no hacks no cheat codes, there is participation and fun. Lately it's felt like fucking highschool all over again. It's become mean and judgey and I'm in there too, which I hate, because on a normal day I don't give a rat's ass about any of this shit and I certainly don't want to be "that" mean, stuck up bitch who only talks to certain people. Some people, however, seem bring out that side of me even if it's not always visible. I know how I'm feeling and I don't like it. We joke about the dark side but this is really it, the SCA definitely does have a dark side and right now it's pretty rampant.

Of course the other side of this coin is people complaining about the fact that standards have gone up and that this is unfair. That they don't have the ability or the money to dress the best like the rest. I have to scratch my head at this. It's not hard to get a period look and feel inexpensively. So this jealousy is poisoning so many things we do. Instead of being happy for those who have the abilities and the wherewithal to create gorgeous, seriously accurate garb, scrolls, armour etc... we have people whining about how unfair it all is that they can't keep up. Since when did we as a group become so concerned with keeping up with the joneses? For me it's not what you wear or how blingy your garb is it's how you act, how you treat other people and the respect you give to those around you no matter what. Somewhere along the line looks, awards and possessions became more important than thoughts, actions or deeds. Instead of whining about how unfair it all is that you don't have X why not ask someone to help you? People will surprise you by how much they want to share and most people I know in the SCA LOVE to help where they can me included. ( though I often need reminding because my brain if full of holes and I forget)

It used to be the various facets of the SCA worked together and the various factions could at least get by without being so openly mean to each other but this has changed a lot mostly thanks to the openness of social media. The expectations have risen and so have the standards which I find perfectly okay as long as the extremists don't ram their version down my throat. This is all make believe and it's not really relevant to the everyday real world. A king/queen/peer in the SCA has no royal / peer significance in the day to day world. The abuse of power when one is in a position of power is ridiculous. There's a certain level of meanness that has risen over time, especially when one starts holding an office or getting more involved. Also the converse is true, as a peer I'm not infallible, and I don't know everything about everything. I don't always want to work at an event and if I don't have my scribal stuff with me this is not the end of the universe. I've spent my fair share of events tucked away doing scroll work or kitchen work, or cleaning or something and while I enjoy doing that at times sometimes I don't want to. I don't bring my kit when I want to just do other things. It's not a crime and it doesn't make me a lazy laurel but I have heard just those words pointed at me. There is no check list of what anyone SHOULD do at events instead why not just pitch in and ask if you can help rather than bitching about the stuff that's not getting done. The "I'm on holiday so I don't have to work" line is probably about the most selfish thing I've ever heard at an event. Dude...we're ALL on holiday.

For me, ever since I joined the SCA, it is mostly about being with similar people in a culture that was more open and friendly, the learning of unique skills and the extras were icing on the cake. Now these have become the requirement and the simple there to have fun part has been marginalized. Mostly I feel as though I no longer have a place in this club and going to events is stressful. Far too many people spend far too much time focusing on getting awards, being important ( whatever that means) and amassing power. ( all perceived) I can't tell you how many times I've heard people wish they were "important" or had award X, or get insulted when person Y isn't made a peer or doesn't award X. It's ridiculous. None of these things make a person important anyway.

I think the people who desire to immerse themselves in the absolute medieval are to be lauded but not when they try to enforce this on others who are not necessarily interested in this aspect of the SCA. Some people have a very clear idea of their SCA persona and that's great but others don't and nor should they have to. There is no rule that says you must have a perfectly honed persona at all. And then within these factions is the snobbery about what type of persona you are. Because persona is not like persona. You see that in the people who try for something different ( east Indian, Japanese, Middle eastern) They are also marginalized because what they do is not conforming to the medieval "norm". See...Highschool.

So essentially I've had enough because mostly when I go to events or read through the SCA facebook groups and forums it's like being drawn and quartered by all the various people who want the SCA to go their way. I think when that happens it's good to step back and get some perspective, some breathing room and maybe do the smaller side of thing to enjoy the hobby. It's not about awards or the shiny it's about the people and the fun. I wish more people would remember this including myself.

CEII Saturday

Normally when we are away from home getting me up and out of bed and ready for breakfast is a rough process. Not this time and  M asked on more than one occasion "who are you and what have you done with my wife?" I was up and ready to go before he had even opened his eyes.

what to wear what to wear.....

Saturday Morning the Deathstar appeared.

breakfasts were awesome fun events all by themselves

Once we had done the breakfast thing it was time to get to the event and be in costume. Saturday was the main photshoot day so I wore my tusken. There were 4 female tuskens there which tells you how rare this particular costume is. As you can see we had a lot of fun. Especially at the big 501st photo shoot.

Meanwhile in the other hall......

Saturday saw me step in and take on stand duty to fill in when someone didn't show up. It was awesome! I cannot recall the last time I laughed quite that much. I generally don't volunteer for stuff in advance because sometimes I get ill from migraines and then can't fulfill my obligation so this was a nice moment. It was the last hour of the day before the big dinner and one of the major speakers was also on the main stage so my stepping in gave someone else a reprieve. We had fun!

After the stand was closed down for the night it was do a quick change to get into our unofficial Squad uniforms and off to the 501st dinner. This was probably one of the highlights of the event. So many 501st members and honourary members in one place from all over the world making it pretty amazing. I got the surprise chance to spend a little pocket of time chatting with Steve Sansweet and his partner Bob who was very nice ( and politely ignored my inane babble because I was all hyper. ). The food was good, the drinks flowed freely and even though it was hotter than hell it was a pretty fun event.

Coastal Hammer squad with honourary member Steve Sansweet

Temura Morrison  ( Jango Fett) singing

Jeremy Bulloch ( Boba Fett) watching Temura ( Jango) !


All in all it was a very crazy, hot, wonderful busy day.....

but wait...there's more to come...

Thursday, August 8, 2013

CEII day one

It's 1 of Star Wars Celebration Europe. I got up early, I usually am awake early so this is not unusual. No headache - check, no massive abdominal pain- check, looking forward to the day check. So I got up, stole wifi from Marcus and browsed facebook then after that I was bouncing about like a mad thing.

We had arranged for breakfast for around 8 so we showered and made our way down to the nice breakfast room. It was surprisingly empty except for our friends Claus and Andrea. On the tables were printed out Imperial and Rebel cogs and the excitement went up a little more. I always love hotels that serve fresh fruit as well as the usual cereals and the coffee was hot and good. Breakfasts with a bunch of people all going to the same event are so much fun. An hour later we were back in our room getting ready for the 1st big day.

We went with no costumes on Friday because it's good to get the lay of the land without being stopped for photos and also learn where everything is without the disability of trying to peer through a mask. While lining up for our tickets we met up with friends, chatted about the 501st and generally got excited ( more so if that was even possible). At 10 am the doors opened and the line moved, we waited around a bit since, in difference to London the lines here moves very quickly. And then we stepped through the magic doors into the wonderful land of Starwars....

There were a lot of people though not as many as would be there on Saturday and it was pretty amazing what we saw.

 Many of the props were fan made, in fact most of them were and it was astonishing to see the detail and love that went into them. We spent a lot of time, like kids in a toy shop, just staring longingly at things....

There were a lot of merchants, though not as many as I had expected still more than enough to satisfy the hard core buyers ( which we are not). I saw some things I would loved to have bought but really just cannot justify spending 300 euros on. So it was enough to look and smile at everything starwarsy and iconic.

We tended to spend a lot of time near the 501st area. It's where most of the people we know were hanging out and it felt like a safe haven.

We have taken our time with the whole integration thing I think. We both feel a bit burned out by our other costume hobby so the 501st was a hobby to get away from our other hobby.  But that's changed. Right from our very first official troop until now slowly we have been getting to know people, especially people in our own squad. I like to hang out with people, period I don't much care where they come from but I notice a gravitation towards the Nordic Garrison mainly because we always go to Legoland in Denmark and have a lot of fun, and we hang out with the Swiss garrison because really without them we would probably have never gotten off our asses to get the 1st costume done to join up. What took us both a long time was to get to know our own squad within the German Garrison. Partially because we didn't go to a lot of local troops and partially because the troops were limited to certain costumes or bad timing for us.  But slowly that changed too and we've found ourselves part of the group in a small way so it was especially nice to see so many all in one place and really get to talk a bit more as well as put faces a to forum names.

What I remember about this day was being overwhelmed. So many people and so many things to look at it sort of blew a fuse in my brain. One of the highlights of the day though was when we swung by the artists row and stopped to say hullo to one of my favourite artists ever, Tsuneo Sanda. His work is stunning and his use of colours never ceases to amaze me. We met at Fedcon a few years ago and since then we've kept in touch. I wish I could speak Japanese so that we could just talk about art which we tend to do when we meet but it's always through a translator. At CEII his translator was a wonderful woman who did a great job putting my rapid fire babble into Japanese sense. He was genuinely happy to see me which I didn't expect at all, he sees so many people all the time that I didn't expect to receive such a lovely warm welcome.

I look kinda teary eyed because he has just given me an incredibly lovely present. Totally unexpected and then he asked for pictures. After this moment I wandered about in a daze because I was a bit shell shocked. Marcus thought it was all terribly funny and sweet that his wife got all fan girl and speechless.

The rest of the day just sort of happened but it's a bit of a blur. In the evening we ended up back at the pub to meet friends for supper which eventually led to us meeting up with them at a pretty sweet sushi bar. We stayed until late but eventually headed back to the hotel because Saturday promised to be even more....

Sunday, August 4, 2013

what I meant to say was...

I had a big post done about CEII but it turned into something else I didn't want to get into right now. we go again.
CEII was amazing. It was, in fact, probably one of the best experiences of my life. I rode a 5 day high of delight and excitement that I swear I have not experienced since I was a whole lot younger than my current jaded old self. Trying to figure out why this was exactly I go off on all sorts of tangents and really it's like trying to explain the meaning of life to a rock...or something.

I think the combination of meeting extraordinary people who all share the common love of Star Wars and geeky stuff along with the fact that it was a HUGE event plus some rather extraordinarily unexpected wonders that happened which made it special. I'm going to leave it at that.

packed and ready to go!
Day 1 Thursday:

Having spent the day before packing and sewing I wanted to get on the go early. This did not happen as we had last minute shopping stuff to do and Himself needed a hair cut. We left the house around 1 ish and off we went to Essen. I grumbled a bit because I wanted to be there a bit earlier but no matter. The trip down was easy. We missed all the staus and the bad weather. It was fun getting Facebook pms as updates from our friend Claus and before we knew it we were at our hotel. The Ruhr Hotel Essen.

almost there...not quite...
This is a smallish ( around 40 rooms) family run hotel around 15 minutes walk from the convention centre. Checking in was funny because the first thing that was commented on was that we were the people who couldn't decide how long we wanted to stay for. Ha ha. 1st we'd only booked  Friday Saturday, the weekend, then we added Sunday night then realized on Wednesday that we'd forgotten about staying on Thursday, luckily for us they had room still open for Thursday night. They made sure we got the same room all the way through in spite of the 3 x we booked. Super friendly doesn't begin to cover it. The room we had was spacious and in the back of the hotel. #23. All the while this is going on people we know are also showing up. It was a huge reunion in the hotel lobby much to the amusement of the staff.

After all the back and forth, the walking to find the convention centre we headed out, wearing the appropriate t-shirts ( a must) to the brauerei pub where the meet and greet was to take place. This pub, as a nice as it was, needed serious lessons from a Munich beer garden. The service was pretty abysmal, they were totally under staffed and they, even though they had been warned,  had no idea how to cope with the mass of people that showed up. Dudes, the 501st and the Rebel Legion + friends are huge. But this was the case, it turned out, for pretty well the whole area around the Messe. No one expected the 501st, the RL the droid builders etc... we are legion and far too many for all the local eateries.

The meet and greet was great. So many familiar faces and a lot of new ones. I stepped way out of my shy zone and bounced about like Tigger on uppers. I was so hyper and excited. It was fun and silly and I got to talk to new people, meet new people and probably scared new people who were wondering who was the crazy red head and why is she talking to me....But really it was cool to actually get up the nerve to openly say Hi I'm Fiona who are you... and start from there. I saw people who really didn't know many people and they looked a bit lost. I know and remember what that feels like. For me, at least, this was a great way to meet new friends. You can usually tell after a few seconds if people don't want to engage and then you say nice to meet you and move along.

the meet and greet!

The pub just couldn't handle people standing around and not sitting at the table. They stopped giving bar service because ..well I don't know why actually.... and would only serve you if you were attached to a table.  We managed to get 1 beer order in and then given the state of the service added a second one which much to Marcus' chagrin came fairly quickly so he was left holding two beers as I still had not finished my first one. This was okay tho because it meant when our friend Jasmine arrived and was sad-panda-face because she wanted a cold drink and it was impossible I could gladly give her the beer meant for me. We rescued her with beer...this is a good German tradition I think. Anything for a squad mate! After a few hours of non-existent service and only1 beer we skipped across the street to a very nice Italian place and ate with our Swiss Garrison Friends. This was one of the only places ( also the sushi place) that did not run out of food and still managed to serve it in a decent time frame.) After food we went back to the pub and just mingled.

All 4 of my Tusken husbands were there so we took a silly picture.

Tusken husbands #1,#2,#3,and #4

Cards were traded, patches were swapped, stories were told and the excitement ramped up a notch for the big day tomorrow.  I think we wandered off at around midnight-ish, because it was very warm and we were kind of tired and tomorrow was going to be pretty busy.

Back at the hotel we settled in to sleep but not before I set up the fan we'd brought with us...a trick we had stolen from the people sleeping in the room across from us at DW20 and boy were we glad I had done this. Essen was in full on heat wave and the lovely hotel did not have A/C.


Day 2: TBC....

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

It's 4 what?

In a large, rectangular ship's container open at both end we stood watching as the plane, huge and heavy, flew lower and lower. It seemed to take forever but in seconds it was there, one of the huge jet engines, spinning and sucking, tipped and fell downwards while the rest of the plane flew over us.

"Run!" I yelled, grabbing you by the arm, and we ran into the maze of brightly coloured, painted boxes passing for houses. We ducked behind something vaguely grey and brick like while the world exploded in brilliant white light. I looked over at you but there was no one there. 

I wake up to find myself bathed in the remnants of a moon, waning and setting into the woods beyond the lake but its light, so bright I think I've left a light on, startles me. I get up because now that I'm awake I have to pee, the dregs of adrenaline from trying to escape the downed plane's engine still leave me shaken.

It's 4am and now what?

Monday, March 4, 2013

nothing save a horizon..

I've been thinking a lot about death lately. It happens this time of year. Always around the first 3 months of a new year we lose people and as I get older I see more and more that my friends as well as myself are clobbered by loss. It's hard to lose people we love but I can't help thinking about what death does to the living especially the not related to, acquaintances of, or the folks that knew the name but never really knew the person who have died.

As the world becomes more connected and with more options to connect it gets harder to draw the lines sometimes between what is private and what isn't and death is rarely private these days. It often gets leaked or announced before the actual family is ready to have this done and then once it's out it seems to take on a life all of its own whether the family wish it or not, death is very public and everyone wants to somehow feel connected, be a part of it somehow.

One of the things I find most interesting and often a little sad is how death turns people into total hypocrites. I remember from way back a kid I knew died of sudden and unexpected causes, he wasn't well liked but once he was dead he was the most popular kid on the block. I was puzzled by this behaviour because it seemed so odd. Everyone knew who his friends were and who hated him yet after he was dead they were ALL suddenly his friends. I wanted to know why this wasn't the case in life. He was a peripheral acquaintance of mine, his real friends were my friends but his life and my life rarely intersected. I was sad to hear he had died and I attended the funeral which was open to all, it was a packed church, but only family were allowed at the grave site. After the funeral a bunch of us hung out and shared stories, well mostly I listened because I didn't have any stories to share.

I see this often, this need to suddenly be a part of the dead person's life after the fact. The need to memorialize, make larger than life, and somehow connect to the one who has gone is a puzzle for me. Why do we do it? Especially if the person in question wasn't well liked or well known? And if the latter why did the people who are suddenly mourning the terrible loss not do more for the person when they were alive?

I have known death my whole life, mostly as a peripheral thing, people died in car accidents, parents of friends, grandparents overseas, uncles and aunts never met but occasionally it touched home as well. School mates I liked and played with. there one day, gone the next, brain cancer, bone cancer, accidental drowning, you name it I've heard it. Pets also died, beloved dogs, grumpy bad tempered cats. Things die. This is how it goes so why the fuss after the person is dead?

I often wonder what the immediate family must think of all the extra notice and fuss, all the memorials and sudden need to  be a part of it. Did they want this all made public as well? Do they want all the tributes and the fuss, the constant reminders that their loved one is gone. I remember when my father died, he was 54 and I was in my late 20's. It was a bad time for us because I wanted to be free of parental bonds and he wanted to protect, we hadn't talked a lot and when we did it was tense. He died before we could resolve this, before we moved out of this phase onto the next so it was hard. And weird. He wasn't there anymore. I was lucky in some respects because I had to return to school very shortly after he died and only came home for the memorial service, the church was packed. My dad had a lot of friends and knew a lot of people who really liked and respected him.

I remember one young man coming up to me at the reception afterwards, he was a member of the CLB band and told me my dad would be missed and it was a terrible loss. I think I shrugged. I told him he was dead but as long as we remembered and told stories of him he was not gone, not really. It was in that moment I understood, when it comes to death, I'm pretty pragmatic. This doesn't mean I don't grieve or mourn or miss him like crazy I did and still do but this is life and the world never stops turning. I am however grateful that facebook and web blogs and twitter didn't exist at the time because I think it would have driven me crazy. It's a personal thing, the loss of a loved one and now a days it seems to be more about what the masses think and feel in a very public sometimes very ugly way. Someone once told me that death makes great liars out of people. This truth is oddly ironic since death is about as true as it gets. I understand the Irish and their wakes. Get plastered, tell stories and remember.

It seems to me that we would far better serve people by being kind to them while they are alive rather than waxing poetic after the fact. The dead don't care and as for the living, well I'd be inclined to ask the immediate family and closest friends how best to serve the memory of the departed before anything else.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The art of artiness

It's been a busy month for art for me. I have a quite a list of things to do so I started by doing stuff I don't do all that often and that is the acrylics in the Re-Cycled series. The Re-Cycled series is straight forward. How do we reuse old computer bits in a productive way? It began before recycling the junk for its hoard of precious metals was a thing, when the US was sending it's electronic garbage to any country that would accept it. I thought this was wrong and sort of stupid way back when and lucky for me because of that way of thinking I was able to stock up on a ton of computery bits and make art from.

The Re-Cycled project is fun because I don't much care what other people think of it really it's for me. I get to play with colour and computer bits and experiment and have fun which is why nine time out of ten the painting titles are puns.

This leads me to the "I have a singular sense of humour" portion of the blog... nine times out of ten no one gets the puns so I guess that's a big fat fail on my side but I don't much care about that either. 

You're reading the words of a woman who thinks the funniest joke in the universe is "Where does napoleon keep his armies?"

"Where?" you ask already knowing the answer will make you wish you hadn't.

"Why, up his sleevies of course!"

So you see ...I tell a lot of visual puns through the Re-Cycled series.


Well mainly because it's fun.

This piece was inspired by a kid's joke I read on facebook a while back.
The title is "Where do astronauts go to drink?" I'll let you guys figure it out.

I'm a big fan of colour and combining colour with the right computer piece. I like to use gold leaf as accents because there is a significant amount of gold in computer components and before someone got smart, we threw that shit away...seriously.

This particular piece is a statement about the ever changing universe of tech and computers. It's called "Windows Obsolete" everything I used ( except for the canvas and paint)  is a part that is now scrap, considered obsolete and useless, as is the programme the image was based on. (Win 95)

Computer tech and geeks like the art because they identify the bits and they sometimes identify with the bits too, "I remember when I had to fix so and so's computer because that blasted chip broke..." There are stories within the stories and every time someone tells me a story that my art made them remember it's a gift.

I personally think computer innards are gorgeous and someone somewhere sat down and designed each and every piece which is also a form of art. I like to think that, all puns aside, I place their art on a pretty platform and make it my art too. making something that was once expensive and used that became obsolete and scrap to something unique and maybe even beautiful. Of all the art I create this series is the one most people like the least and I get that. It's abstract and sometimes a bit childish but for me it's an important statement that just because one set of users discard the materials as junk someone else somewhere will find it to be magnificent. That someone in this case is me. And if I am the only person who gets my silly puns then that's okay too.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Money Pit

the week off was productive.

- trees felled and shrubbery pulled up
-log-holder made and space for the logs to stack cleared
-sandbox / dumping area for garden refuse GONE!!!!
-porch cleaned, old coat rack mirror thing removed, bookshelf removed, and the walls repainted ( the new show cupboard now must wait for a replacement door)
- Hall closet gutted and repainted , new hook rack mounted and unused coats removed to be sorted out.

many many trips to the Baumarket were made, many viewings at furniture shops were also done. I'm all shopped out.

but January so far has been productive which is a good thing since we have a LOT to do.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

2013 so far

It's been busy. Last year we bought this house which meant we inherited a jungle of a garden that no one has really taken care of for the 10 years before we moved in and our attempts have been mainly scratching the surface.

so far...
We missed going to coronation because work is insane this time of year for M. Heard there were a few interesting things that happened and it looked fun. We almost never get to go to 12th night because of work unless it's near by. Am looking forward to this year. Some changes coming up and ThorvaldR and his GF Tofa are a lot of fun. Crown tourney will be big since the couple coming in will be crowned at 20 years, though it's this king and queen who will get all the organizational stuff to deal with. So am happy we have an experienced king in place.

the goal will be to make some new garb and overhaul the Signet office big time. It's in dire need of some serious changes to streamline the process better.

501st events will be insane this year. We already have lego land DK and CEII booked, we're thinking about Legland DE as well as Bayern park( tho that remains to be seen) Plus what ever small events come up. We definitely need new costumes.

CEII is going to be fraking huge but then again so is Fedcon and we're booked for that as well which means no double wars again this year since now both events happen at the same time. I don't miss medieval camping much and given that the Sheraton is very nice and just over the walkway from the con hotel I guess I can safely say I'm getting old(er) because I like my bathrooms private and my showers hot and my bed without insects and cold.

Dirk has added a new con this year Galaxy con which we are thinking about seriously...James Edward Olmos is the star guest and I'd really like to hear him speak but we'll have to see.

The house ( better known as The Money Pit) needs new windows upstairs and the bathroom renovations need to GET STARTED ALREADY. We also as mentioned above have begun work on the le jungle. Saturday saw a mass action of tree felling and wood chopping and underbrush and shrubbery clearing. Good that we ordered a dumpster to get rid of it all. Of course I'm not as fit as I once was and a day of physically hard labour does me in so today I spent much of it on the couch dozing.

so far...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Art and peer pressure

So I succumbed to peer pressure and now have a facebook page for my art. I post pictures and talk about it. Feel free to look / join.

just pinch me...


I must admit, extremist statements like "Ban all modern things" really bother me. The SCA started as a backyard BBQ for friends to celebrate a graduation and people enjoyed it so much it continued and spread. It was fun based not accurazi based.
The no
t so accurate issue the SCA had has changed quite a bit because in order to survive and grow it had to. The level of "periodness" we have in this kingdom is very high when compared to others and there are a whole lot less modern things than there could be but let's examine that statement for a bit. "Ban all modern things"

This would mean I could not wear my glasses because they are in their current form very modern. There would also be no hearing aides. Or pretty well anything made with an industrial machine ( so most of the cloth many of us use because that too is modern. Most people don't have hand made period style foot wear so we'd be running around barefoot.

Our current bathrooms and facilities are also VERY modern so we'd have to do away with those, as are the kitchen equipment. And let's not forget about electricity - very modern.

No clocks or watches ( and heaven forbid anyone have anything digital near by)

No coffee. No chocolate on site either. No toothpaste, no nice smelling shampoo out of a convenient plastic bottle or deo, and no telephones in case of emergencies. Not hot running water for showers and dishes....

The list goes on.

The statement "Ban all modern things" is extreme and not very helpful. The SCA is a mixture as Annika has said and quite frankly Drachenwald is probably the most period kingdom out there but the SCA is not a die hard re-enactment group. There are plenty around, the Company of Saynt George comes to mind.

These folks are incredible at "getting it right" and if this is the sort of no modern things a person is looking for then I would suggest that groups such as this are perhaps more suitable.

One of the great things about the SCA was the nice mix of accuracy mingled with the modern, Anachronism. That which doesn't belong in the place and the time. The middle Ages as they SHOULD have been.

Making vast sweeping and extreme statements like ban all modern things needs to be carefully examined because really that encompasses A LOT of things.

It's nice when an event strives to get it right but I think it is also important to remember that one person's version of fun is not the same for another. That for some people the SCA is a hobby and a social thing not a museum exersize in living in the middle ages. Most people do their best to not be too glaringly modern but since we don't actually live in the middle ages but rather the 21st century the modern will intrude anyway.

As for "living the Dream". I certainly do not Dream the SCA, I go to get away from my modern life, to relax, to see my friends, have a nice time and if I'm really lucky learn some cool stuff. I would ask that people remember this and it's not a Dream for everyone it's a hobby with many people doing many things one of which is taking pictures to remember the good times by and given the number of times I get asked to share my photos of events I'm thinking many other people are also happy with this too.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

a curious discussion

on going on facebook concerning art. Time vs value. The underlying statement being that the more time spent on a work of art the more value placed on said piece. I find this a rather odd way of thinking I guess because my own styles mean I work very fast, this includes the medieval stuff too. So does the fact that I spent less time on a work of art than someone else lessen the value of my art vs theirs simply because I A: work faster or B. have a style that doesn't take as much time?

I find that while adding time into the art value equation is valid and necessary for determining monetary value )( ie. for sale) in the end it should not be the only factor and simply because one person spends less time on a work of art than another does not lessen the actual value of the art in any way shape of form especially as art is subjective anyway. I went to art college and have that piece of paper, I went to college and have a degree in Art history too, I put my time into the school system to work through the academic side of this, I also work at being an artist pretty much on a daily basis with various techniques and materials. In essence I've done my time so why is my art less valuable than another person's simple because of the number of hours spent on it?

I find I get rather ticked off with the whole discussion. I'm lucky in that I don't have to live off my art but that doesn't mean I am any less of an artist. I've been selling work since I was 15 but I chose to go a different route in terms of actually making a living. Does this choice devalue my art? Is what I produce less than what someone else produces because I don't live off it or spend as much time making it? I also choose to give a lot of art away ( not including the sca stuff) because in doing so I am giving gifts of my talent, my art and above all else my time. Giving art away doesn't lessen the value either, it's a gift from me to said person.

I have to walk away from this particular conversation because I get tired of my art being devalued simply because I didn't spend a magical number of hours on it.  If hours spent is the only factor we will use to place a figure value on art then I will always be on the low end of the list. I rarely sell my art because trying to put a monetary figure on it is impossible, giving it to people as a gift is priceless and it makes people happy which for me is far more important than money.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

ja ja move along...

I have not posted in ages this is because I am insanely busy, even though I feel like I accomplish nothing and what I really want to write I shall have to think long and hard about how to word.

in the mean time...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Everyone who has ever been into space and seen the world from that high up says the same thing, how small we are, how fragile the world looks. Precarious is always the word that comes to my mind when I read or hear comments like these.

We inhabit a small space, really the Earth is small, and we're protected by this thin layer of atmosphere, when you look at pictures from space it's like a veil of gauzy pale blue. Dandelion fluff. Fragile, precious. And we human beings who like to think we rule the universe with our money, politics and our important lives are really blips on the map. Momentary fragments that vanish in a cosmic blink.

Someone once told me, when I got all bent out of shape over something trivial though it felt huge at the time to think; Will anyone care about this in a hundred years? If the answer is no, then let it go.

Sound advice that's incredibly hard to follow some days.

We live our lives. Good days and bad and we forget that there is just so much more than us. So. Much. More.

When I was very young I remember thinking I had to go outside to watch things happen because if I saw it from behind a window it wasn't real. The glass changed my reality and at 8 years old that was quite some perception. Open windows and open space. I was a strange little Scottish girl with weird ideas on how the world worked.  I have not really changed all that much.

When I was ten and we moved to northern Newfoundland I remember one night staring up at the brilliantly clear sky in awe at planets and stars wishing that whatever it was that made me see all of this magic never left me. I never wanted to change. Of course I did, but that ability to see magic in everything stayed and I am very grateful. I never wanted to be one of those frowney faced grownups I saw all the time, I never wanted to be like the two women I once shared a class with who were so old and so stuck in their ways even though they were not really much older that I was at the time that not only were they unhappy but they managed to infect everyone else with their unhappy as well. I, who am descended from gypsies, never ever wanted to be like that. I wore crazy clothes, wrote mad poetry, stuck my tongue out in every photo and drank beer with my mad, fab prof never ever wanted to be like that. It didn't win my any popularity contests but I didn't much care.

When my dad died it was earth shattering in so many ways there are not enough words to describe them all. People die every day but when you stand and watch someone's last breath leave their body there's no coming back from that. Gone. forever. And the lesson I took away from this was that life is fragile. In the blink of an eye everything changes. There is no going back. Ever.

Lesson learned. Every single day things change. People I love will die, will be hurt, will know pain. It sounds very drama llama I know but this is the state of me. I am aware everything changes all the time and even in the happiest of moments there will be sorrow. You cannot have one without the other. Change, as much as I hate it, flail against it, dig my heels, fight, curse and swear will happen anyway. It's given me a low tolerance threshold for bullshit, rudeness, jealousy and all the other garbage that feeds our demented egos into doing really ugly things. I don't put up with crap, I speak my mind though mostly I try to be polite about it( not always) and I don't really care too much about what other people think, especially about me. No really I don't. Like me, hate me or ignore me I do not care. I am a tiny blip on a tiny planet hanging precariously in space. In a hundred years no one will even know who I was. Only right here right now matters.

After my father's death before his memorial service when I was away from home, back at school and feeling very very alone I remember lying in bed crushed by the depth of loss. I learned, in the dark, to breathe and let the sorrow wash through me, to allow it to be and accept it for what it is. This is a moment, accept it and move on because you can only go forward. I still experience these odd points in time where an unbelievable, overwhelming sadness takes my breath away but I close my eyes and let it journey through me until I can breathe again and walk on. One step at a time. Suck it up buttercup. Push through the pain and go forward.

Now 4 years shy of 50 I know my journey on this planet is pretty much half over if you calculate that most people live to around 90 ( give or take). I'm on the down side of the hill and I'm okay with this. I don't regret a thing. Not one. Every single step I have taken, every single hard lesson learned, kindness given and received, loves lost and found have led me to this moment, right here right now and it is a good place. It won't stay that way, nothing ever does, but in this moment, in the sunlight and the morning quiet I know that every second, good or bad, is precious and that I am lucky. Incredibly lucky. And I am grateful for all of it.

They tell you to cherish each day, to live each moment as though it would be your last. I don't take this to mean be manic and go around doing amazing things etc... I take this to mean be aware. Life is short. Words have lasting power. Stop for a moment and breathe, watch birds fly, smile at a stranger, be kind, mind your manners and remember to say thank you. In the end I think we all want the same things, to be loved, to be noticed, to matter.

You only get one shot. Make it count, you know.