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Barons' Feast

Posted on 2016.04.27 at 20:40
OK, I will admit it. I’m getting a little bit nostalgic. This past weekend marked the last Barons’ Feast where Giles and I wear the coronets of Gyldenholt. And as much work as it is (which I will NOT miss), I’m going to miss being able to share my foodie vision in this particular venue.

Typically, I have put together a menu from different sources – often either from a similar time period but different countries, or all of one country, but different time periods. This is the first time in ages that I can remember doing everything all from one cookbook. And ya know, if I do say so myself, I’m pretty damned proud of the results. Every dish seemed very well received, and people were receptive to try even things that were a bit different.

Here are the dishes that were made and served:

Date/raisin fruit “Cornet” (a rolled fruit-pastry)
Home-made farmer pork and sage sausage
Tort of fresh peas, favas, and haricot beans
Tort of asparagus
Nut and cheese tortellini in sage/butter sauce
Turkey meatball soup
Sourdough Bread & herb butter
Salat
Bread points and dates
Home-made cheeses – mozzarella, brie, and aged cheddar
Charcuterie: duck prosciutto, pepperone, boar sausage
Stuffed nut/garlic cabbage leaves in wine and butter sauce
Fingers of beef & pork braised in grape must skewered on rosemary skewers
Stone fruit crostatas

So now, for the final weeks of our tenure as Barons, we look forward to finishing up some of our long-term projects for the Barony, enjoying a few more events with the rest of the Barony, and then passing the torch to our heirs. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the job of landed nobility in this crazy little club of ours is NOT an easy job – it really isn’t. But with the right people and the right mentality, it can be truly magnificent. Gyldenholt is such a wonderful group. It is truly an honor to represent the Barony, recognize people’s efforts, and to encourage everyone to enjoy playing in this big, crazy family of choice.

Long Live Gyldenholt!






Advice

Posted on 2016.04.19 at 12:30
With the key turning in the door, I instantly feel a sense of relief just being back in my own home and away from the office. Oh, what a crazy day! Back-to-back meetings, intense phone calls, deadlines, emails, and the occasional head-thunk after fixing someone else’s screw up. But there’s still so much to do – housework, exercise, making dinner, errands. Sigh. Seeing my hubby, we give each other a kiss and ask about each other about the day. As I begin unloading the annoying details of my day to just get the frustration off my chest, he says the one thing that makes my hands roll up into fists – he gives me advice.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!

Don’t try to tell me how you *think* I can fix the problems that I understand better than you do!
Don’t interrupt my venting!
Don’t treat me like I am incapable of handling my own life!
Just let me blow off some steam so I can get on with my day. Is that asking so much?!

When I have explained this very type of situation to pretty much ANY of my female friends, almost unanimously they laugh and tell me, “oh Joe. You are SOOOO the woman in the relationship!” Yah… ok. I get it. And I’ll embrace it. And over the course of years, I have had to learn that when my hubby or someone else says, “Have you tried…” it really is their way of trying to make the situation better. Yet, to me, it is nearly impossible not to hear, “You are an idiot and need me to tell you what to do.” I don’t know why I have such trouble listening to or accepting advice, but I do – particularly when it is unasked for.

So with that in mind, I’m going to try to do some self-therapy here by freely dispensing some unsolicited (im)practical advice to everyone out there in the world wide interwebz:

1. Allow yourself to do something completely and utterly stupid and ridiculous from time to time. A silly movie or cartoon, for example. A weekly dose of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” can do wonders to help banish the overly serious.
2. Talk about your mistakes. Heck, post them! Offer yourself up as an example of what NOT to do. Sew a sleeve on wrong? Admit it and laugh over it! Burn the rice by leaving the heat on too long? Fess up! Nobody is perfect! And laughing about it with friends is so much better than internalizing it and beating yourself up for just being human.
3. All things in moderation… except on those days when you really need to go whole hog. Let’s face it. Most days just call for a little bit of chocolate. Other days call for the whole candy bar. You can’t be young and pretty and skinny forever. Life is too short not to allow yourself to (over)indulge now and again.
4. Walk. Too often we drive – even when the destination is close by. Take advantage of the fresh air and just take a little walk. And while you’re at it, stop to smell the roses, listen to the birds sing, and say “hi” to the people you pass on the street.
5. Learn the language of your significant other. Just as my hubby hears “I need help with my work problems” when I vent about the office, and I hear, “you are incapable of fixing your own problems without my help” when he offers advice; it is crucial in a relationship to recognize that there are three points of view: What that person means to communicate; what that person actually says; and what you hear spoken. While those three things are connected and related, rarely are they identical. Learning to translate is the key to a happy relationship.
6. Allow yourself some “me time”. While everyone is different and requires different levels of people-interaction, we all need some time to just be by ourselves. Now and again, treat yourself to some quality time with yourself.
7. Listen to a song or an album you haven’t listened to in a loooooooong time. It may sound hokey or strange or cheesy now. But maybe it’ll take you back to a fun time in your life and gift you with some wonderful memories that you haven’t experienced in a while.
8. Know the difference between a “Friend” and an “Acquaintance”. The former are your family-of-choice who help define you as a person. The latter will drift in and out of your life at random and can completely leech your time and energy if you allow it.
9. Nurture. Whether you be a parent or a pet-owner or a gardener or a sibling, there is something so rewarding and redeeming about taking care of someone/something else. Its good karma, and just plain nice.
10. Laugh! Life is too short to be serious all the time. So crack a joke and try to get a smile off of someone. Maybe your joke will get some laughs. Maybe it’ll fall flat. But who cares? At least you are showing them (and yourself) that you don’t take yourself too seriously too often.

So please, feel free to agree or disagree with the above silly list of unsolicited advice. It reflects no more or less than some thoughts going through my hungry mind over lunchtime. But it is, nonetheless, a good reflection of how my random-mind works. Have a great day everyone!

Letters of Recommendations – an SCA post

Posted on 2016.04.06 at 12:50
Greetings all y’alls out in the interwebz. Within the society, I am honored to be a member of two orders of peerage, the Laurel and the Pelican. As part of the responsibility of this order, it is my job (like all other members) to seriously consider candidates who are called to our attention. And this isn’t always particularly easy. Why? Well, for several reasons really. But before I expound like I usually do, I want to put out a caveat.



I do NOT speak on the behalf of any of the Orders!!!!!! What I offer here in this post is simply my own opinion. You may agree with me. You may disagree with me. But it is nonetheless, my opinion. And as we all know, if you get two peers into a room together, you will have at least three strong opinions!



In some ways, I truly envy the society’s oldest and newest peerages, the Order of Chivalry and the Order of Defense. Why? Because they have much more of an even-playing field. While I’m sure both orders might discuss some subtle nuances to the fighting arts, in both orders they are really discussing one key thing – does this candidate show the same mastery of marshal prowess that the rest of the order expect? Everybody in both orders fights (or did fight at the time). They are all masters of what they do. And they all have that in common.



The Order of the Laurel is not quite so easy. Why? Because while we are all artists, you might have a dance master sitting next to a costumer sitting next to a cook sitting next to a potter. Let’s face it – there’s not a lot of commonality there. Now hopefully, if a candidate is nominated and that candidate’s skills lay in the area of costuming, hopefully the costuming laurel will take the lead, and the other laurels whose skills are in other areas will keep an open mind and listen carefully to the information provided by the costuming laurel. But every now and again, there is a candidate who comes up who does something totally different than everyone in the room who is evaluating the candidate. So… what do we do? Well, other than doing some preliminary research and/or reaching out of kingdom to maybe get some insight from experts out there in the Known World, we may be wandering around in the dark. So we pull together as best we can and look at the person in terms of what we would expect of any laurel – does the person teach? Are they known and well-respected for their art? Do they share their research? And, probably more important than anything, is the art something mediocre? Or does this person create things that make you stop and go, “WOW!”? While evaluating someone for the Order of the Laurel isn’t necessarily always easy given that we are not all subject matter experts in art form X, the art itself speaks volumes and gains attention in and of itself. Why? Because magpies that we are, our favorite color is shiny. And unless the candidate in question lied and acquired items made by someone else and tried to pass them off as his own (which as rare as this is, HAS happened in our club), that person often has earned renown for her/his art.



But then… there is the Pelican.



The Pelican is, IMHO, the single hardest thing to really evaluate with any sense of quality. Why? For lots of reasons, really. The Pelican is the order of peerage for service. So obviously, whomever gets the pelican should be known as being a workaholic, right? Well, sometimes yes and sometimes no. After all, some jobs are very public, and others are not. There are some people that you just always see working. Those are the ones who work at court (a very public venue), or they frequently sit at gate (another very public venue) or running lists at events, etc. But then there are the other things. You might not know Lord Bob. Lord Bob may very well be quiet. And even if you attended that event last week, you may never have even seen Lord Bob. But here’s the deal. The event almost didn’t happen. There was some crisis in that the site ranger did not have the right paperwork. So Lord Bob took off early from work on Wednesday to drive across county to bring his own copies of all the paperwork into the ranger office and talk him off the ledge. During the event, you may have been having fun over at the main field. But Lord Bob was busy in the kitchen rewiring the stove so that feast could be prepared. If it hadn’t have been for Lord Bob, the event would have been a disaster! But instead, you had fun. And even though you were at the event, and very observant, there is no way you would know all the things Lord Bob did – unless someone tells you. Thus, the order relies upon information from the public at large.



But here’s the problem that I run into as a Peer. If I had no visibility to Lord Bob’s actions, I don’t know about him. That doesn’t mean I did something wrong. It just means I’m ignorant about what he did because of circumstance. So help me out. Tell me about what he did. But please… please, please, please… BE SPECIFIC!



If you find yourself determined to try and make a difference and get someone recognized for that thing that you believe they should be recognized for, please do me (and yourself and the candidate) a favor – don’t be fluffy in your letter. Provide facts and details. Because without them, I cannot in good conscience cast an affirmative vote. To help illustrate my point, here are a couple of possible examples of the types of things I have read or heard about candidates, and the concerns that I have:



“Lord Bob is always working at every event.” - Um, ok. That’s nice. But what does that mean? What types of things does Bob do?



“No matter what, Lord Bob is always busy.” - I’ll bet! But here’s the thing – busy doing WHAT? Busy doing something that actually needs to be done? Or busy creating work to look busier than he really is? There are people who work hard because the job needs to be done. Then there are people who create work so that they can play savior of the day by having done the work of this project. After all, it’ll make a great addition on that Pelican-resume, right? Ugh. Please help me to discern the difference between a true worker-bee and someone more interested in a pat on the back for work that nobody needed done in the first place.



“Lord Bob serves with a smile on his face.” – While I recognize that being nice is a peer-like quality, this also doesn’t tell me a thing about what work he actually does. I don’t cast an affirmative vote based on how much someone smiles.



“Lord Bob does so much for his Barony.” - Really? Like what?



“You never see Bob because he is always off working.” - There’s lots of people that I don’t see. Does that mean that they are all just off working? Or are they, I dunno, just not attending the event?



“Lord Bob has been seneschal for four years” – OK. While that at least gives me something, tell me about his tenure. There’s lots of people who have held offices. But did they actually do a GOOD job? Or just hold the position? Yes, there is a difference.



“No matter what, Lord Bob is always involved in something.” - That’s not necessarily a good thing. There are a number of people I know in the SCA who always hold an office or run things… and I really, really wish they wouldn’t. Why? Because they are terrible at what they do and someone else always has to come along and clean up their messes. An impressive SCA resume is not necessarily a testament to quality work.



“I can’t tell you what he does, but I can tell you that if he didn’t do what he does, we would all notice it and be all the poorer for him not being here.” - This is almost a direct quote that I have heard more than once. Come on… Seriously. Spare me the fluff! If you are championing for someone to be made a pelican, but you can’t even tell me what the person has done to deserve recognition, don’t waste my time.



“Lord Bob got his Crescent years ago and has still been working strong ever since.” - OK. While it is good to know that there is a history of work, I still don’t know what the work is. Further, there isn’t a checklist or stepping stone. It isn’t like X amount of years after one award, one should get another. That’s not how this works! That’s not how any of this works!



I know that some of you out there in the land of the interwebs might view some of the above points as sounding overly critical or jaded. But believe me, they are really important points. Of all of the peerages, the Pelican is, I believe, the most vulnerable to fluff. Could one be fraudulent when it comes to his/her fighting ability on the heavy or light field? Perhaps – but I think it is going to be pretty hard to pull the wool over the eyes of an order focused on the one-main-thing. Could one be fraudulent about one’s art in front of the laurels? Yes. It has happened in the society. But for the most part, it’s pretty hard. There is so much scrutiny involved in evaluating an artist – including the teaching aspect.



Could one be fraudulent about one’s service record? Or could someone else BS the order about one’s service record? Frankly, yes. And while I am not saying that anyone has, there are many times where I have either read a letter of recommendation or heard someone speak on a candidate’s behalf, and I feel like I am having the wool pulled over my eyes – and that is not a comfortable place to be. So how can we avoid situations like this? Avoid fluff. Be specific. And please, provide facts. That will help me do my job much better.

Exclusion

Posted on 2016.04.04 at 18:11
I’m having a conundrum and I could use your help sorting this out in my brain. The topic? Exclusion – under the right circumstances, is it acceptable? Ever?



I was thinking about this yesterday. My hubby and I went out to dinner. Picture it – great atmosphere, nice mood lighting, wonderful food, wine…. And then the sudden and continuous SHRIEK of a toddler at the table over from us while his parents ignored the toddler to finish their dinner. It was then that I remembered reading an article not long ago about a restaurant that was coming under fire from parents because it billed itself exclusively as an adults-only restaurant. The premise behind the concept is to help create an environment where people can go out to a romantic dinner without having the atmosphere compromised by the sounds of screaming children. Do I believe that all restaurants should be like that? Certainly not! But I have to admit, as an individual who enjoys foodie experiences and does NOT enjoy the sounds of Other People’s Kids acting up; the concept sounds just as delicious to me as many of the entrée’s. Add on another concept – it is their business. If they want to open their business only to a particular clientele, shouldn’t that be their right?



But then I began to think about it. What about the bakeries out there who refuse to make wedding cakes for same-gender weddings? Well, in all honesty, I support that. I know that may sound rather surprising to some, but the fact is – it is their business. And I don’t believe a bakery is REQUIRED to take all the business that potentially comes its way. If an order is too big, they can refuse it. If it is not worth their time, they can refuse it. If the request for the cake decorating is, by their standards, vulgar – they can refuse it. So shouldn’t they be able to refuse doing a cake for a same-gender wedding? I think so. Just as I have the right to boycott them. Heck, a church doesn’t HAVE to perform wedding ceremonies for just anybody. And ya know what – I support that.



And then we have things like gay bars. Let’s face it – the vast majority of bars out there are straight bars. Shouldn’t gay bars have the right to be exclusive? One of the most annoying things in the world is when a gay bar full of gay men being gay men suddenly turns into a zoo where the gay men are like animals on display because a bridal party shows up. The bride-to-be and her “Woo Girl” bridesmaids show up and act like they should be able to cut in line and be the center of attention because there is an upcoming wedding. Excuse me?!!!! Um… NO! I have seen a number of gay bars that tell such parties to leave. And frankly, I support that! This is OUR turf. Go “Woo” in one of the many, many, many other straight bars that are all over the place! The same goes for a Lesbian bar. I don’t think men should be allowed to go into a lesbian bar. Why? Because it is for women! That’s why!



BUT… (and here is my conundrum) I recognize my own hypocrisy. Because if I saw a business that said, “We don’t serve Jews” or “No blacks allowed”, I would immediately get on a soapbox and do everything in my power to bring down such a bigoted business. And don’t even get me going on trans people and bathrooms! For cryin’ out loud – we just all want to pee! If it were up to me entirely, there would just be a huge bathroom for people! So why should a gay bar be allowed to kick out a bridal party, but a restaurant shouldn’t be able to kick out a black couple? Uh…um… uh… CUZ! That’s why! (And ya… that’s the best rationality that I can come up with).



I’m really super-duper confused right now on this issue and could use some help and clarity. I know that allowing exclusion can and does open the door for bigotry. But is it necessarily an all-or-nothing situation?



Some churches (or temples or mosques or groves of trees) absolutely ARE exclusive. But is that necessarily a problem?

Some bakeries don’t want to bake wedding cakes for same-gender couples. But is that necessarily a problem?

Some restaurants won’t allow people to bring children under the age of seven. But is that necessarily a problem?



To me, this really isn’t a black and white situation. Like so many things, I think there is a huge gray area. But I can’t decide for myself exactly where there should be a line.



What do y’all think?

Election season

Posted on 2016.03.30 at 12:08
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I truly detest election season. Seriously! I think election

season really puts the spotlight on some of the WORST of human behavior when it comes to

what people say when standing in front of the mic. So often, what is spoken is so fluffy.

Candidates typically spend less time talking about HOW they will affect change, and more time

talking about how important it is that the change happen and that they will make it happen.

And people applaud! People cheer! People shout their names! And I feel like I’m the only one

in the room standing there confused asking to anyone who might know, “Um… HOW exactly

does s/he plan on making that happen? Anybody????” Yet the worst part is that the gullible

majority eat up such fluff like cotton candy.

Then there is the bad-mouthing. Rather than just limiting one’s speech to what s/he plans to

do if elected, there is often the trash-talking of other candidates. This isn’t limited to a single

party – most of the candidates do it. I give Bernie credit. For the most part, he has risen above

name-calling and dealt with people respectfully. The other candidates? Not so much. It is

childish. It is juvenile. I detest it. So why do they do it? It gets them votes. Because the

gullible majority eat that up like candy.

And then there are the two words that I truly DETEST hearing more than anything when it

comes to politics – “The Lord”. Please let me be very clear – I am not opposed to Christianity or

any other religion for that matter. Believe as you believe. Practice your faith as you want to

practice. But for crying out loud, KEEP YOUR RELIGION OUT OF MY POLITICS! Too often, we

have candidates who try to cash in on the gullible majority who just happen to be of a particular

faith. And in acting like some sort of religious champion, they push for change that happens to

align with the philosophies of their religion. That is NOT ok! You see, we have this thing called

separation of church and state, and we do that for a reason – to protect everybody. And just as

I get annoyed to see an American flag in a church or temple or synagogue; I get annoyed

whenever I hear a prayer before any kind of government deliberation. I don’t care what the

religion of our next president as long as s/he does not use that platform to push a religious

agenda. And in the debates, it becomes very, very clear when we have candidates who are

playing the religion card. But why do they do it? It gets them votes. Because the gullible

majority eat that up like candy.

I fear for this country in a lot of ways – and not only because I think we have very few truly

good candidates in the pool, but because some of the really scary ones are being so heavily

supported by so many people who, obviously, have eaten too much candy.

Reflections on a Birthday

Posted on 2016.03.29 at 12:35
Last week, I turned a brand spankin’ 48 years young. And as I often do around particular milestones, I became a bit reflective. What has this age brought me, aside from bad knees, less bounce-back, and a bad reaction to drinking coffee?



Well, truthfully, the vast majority of life is pretty danged good! Case in point – I really didn’t want to do anything special on my birthday. Why? Because life is pretty crazy fun most of the time, and every now and then what I really, really want is to just stay home and putter around. Having just come back from my trip to Gulf War and New Orleans, and feeling fairly spoiled rotten, what I was craving was the sense of accomplishment. And by coincidence, my “to do” list was pretty full. So on my birthday, which coincidentally was my flex day off from work, I got up early and hit the ground running working on cleaning things, running errands, striking off annoying “to do’s” from my list left and right, all while looking at the clock and mentally saying, “Go, Joe! GO!” And by the time dinner rolled around, and I was sitting around the dining room table with my hubby and our roomies, I felt hungry, tired, and pretty incredibly fulfilled.



And now? I’m just content – very, very content. The yard looks beautiful and relaxing. The flowers are blooming. Projects in the house are underway. We are winding down our tenure as Barons. I have health, energy (most of the time), and a willingness to be fun and silly when the time calls for it.



Life is good!

I was so excited to go to Gulf War this year. I missed last year. I miss my peeps from the East Coast. I enjoy the event. And heck… NEW ORLEANS! People asked me if the weather would be an issue. I didn’t think it would. Oh Joe… silly silly Joe.

As the time for vacation neared, I was saddened to learn that more and more people that I wanted to see wouldn’t be going – deaths in the family, car troubles, money, job issues, etc., etc. Don’t get me wrong – real world MUST take precedent. But it still bummed me out. But at least I would be heading to Gulf War, right?

Arriving in New Orleans on Tuesday, the sky looked mostly sunny, and the weather felt pretty good, actually. Being that I lived in the south, but moved away, I was worried that my gills would have completely closed up. But as soon as I got in my rental car, stopped by a drive-through daiquiri stand, and shopped for provisions, my solo journey to war began. Arriving on site, I registered and then travelled onwards to my destination – the Rose and Crow – a wonderful tavern name for the home built by two of my dearest friends/family members, Octavio and Mairi-Ceilidh. Despite the house not yet being completely finished, it was a heck of a lot more stable and orderly than the on-site hotel (affectionately known as the Bates Motel) ever would have been!

In no time at all, I found myself unpacked, hugging people that I haven’t seen in a while, getting changed, and onwards to site. While I absolutely love Caidan events, I often feel very “on duty” at them (often because I am). So yes, it felt absolutely wonderful to be able to attend a big event where I had NO responsibility, NO commitments, and nothing that I had to do. I didn’t check the schedule. I didn’t read through class listings. I didn’t honestly want to tempt myself to make up a schedule. I just wanted to kick back, relax, and enjoy myself. And I did! I guess the weather gods were just teasing with their threats of bad weather. Oh Joe… silly, silly Joe.

By Thursday, the sky had turned a nasty shade of gray, and it looked like rain was pending. I didn’t particularly mind, because it was St. Patty’s day and we had the option of skipping things and just staying at the house and getting toasted, right? Oh, but no. Trimaris was holding court on Thursday, and the gang wanted to go. So we did. Heck, I didn’t mind. Even with the threat of some drizzle, I found myself comfortably under Duke Bytor’s pavilion, chowing down on delicious Italian wedding ham, and washing it down with Guinness from the keg. Now THAT is the way to do court! Sensing that the weather was going to turn fairly sour, TRM Trimaris were doing what appeared to be speed-court. Scrolls would be given out later, and the idea seemed to be finish up before the weather turned. And it seemed like a great plan… until….

KaBOOM!!!!!!! I don’t know if the lightning actually hit somewhere in camp, but the single bolt that flashed blinded me. And being so close, there was no delay to the deafening thunder that accompanied it. Ugh! This didn’t seem to be a particularly safe place to be! But then… it got worse. Without warning, the heavens opened up. The rain didn’t start to trickle and build up. It was like the dam burst. And to make matters worse, out of nowhere, gale force winds began knocking things down – including the pavilion I was under. I cannot say with absolute certainty that it was a tornado that hit. But I lived in the south long enough to know the signs. Massive cyclical wind. Major storm. Changes in sky color. That just signals one key thing – HANG ON!!!!!!!!!!

As people scattered, I found myself under the canopy of a pavilion with Lady Sarafina She was holding onto the support pole, as the flap of the canopy danced around in the wind until I pulled it in. Ah… memories of sailing. If we didn’t hold it down, the whole thing was going to go. And frankly, at that point, that fabric was the only thing between us and the rain…. No. It was no longer rain. It turned into Hail.

HOLY BUCKFALLS! Wind! Rain! Lightning! Thunder! And now HAIL! What were we to do? Scream? Cry? Be upset? No… we’re troopers. She is Trimarian. I survived Trimarian Toronation all those years ago (even though one of my vehicles was damaged at that event). So we did the only thing we could do – we giggled our way through the storm until things started settling down.

In the aftermath, people scattered about to help those who needed it. I helped others transport people back to the house to get people settled. And then I headed back to the Trimarian camp with others to see what needed battening down, what needed moving, etc. The house where I was staying turned into a bit of a refugee camp, as I knew it would. Why? Because Octavio and Mairi Ceilidh are some of the most generous, caring, compassionate, and kind souls I have ever known – and that is just what they do.

So after the storm, I (like several others who were at the house), gorged myself on corn beef and cabbage (it was St. Patty’s Day, after all), and toasted to the fact that we all survived. If things break, they can be fixed or replaced. If items get wet, they can be dried out. If mud splashes on your clothes, they can be cleaned. The fact is, we are resilient people. And rain, wind, hail, etc., will not put a damper on our fun! In fact, looking back at that whole scary moment under the pavilion, I realized something very very important –

through it all, I did NOT spill my beer – not a drop! I can only assume St. Patrick himself would be pleased.

SCA Thug Culture

Posted on 2016.03.08 at 12:43
Before I go into depth on this post, I want to put out three very important caveats:


1. I am NOT picking on any one specific individual. I’ve seen this type of behavior happen time and time again for going on three decades.


2. I am NOT telling anyone what to do.


3. Above all, I mean no disrespect to the SCA Order of Chivalry. It isn’t my Order and I have no power to fix the problem.



OK, now that I have gotten all that out of the way, I will go into the meat of this post. I started playing in the SCA in 1989 in the Kingdom of Trimaris. I don’t think I had been in the society very long when I witnessed my very first Knighting ceremony. A Knighting is very rich in its symbolism – the vigil, the belt, the spurs, the chain… everything is rich in its history (both in terms of European history as well as in our own 50-year tradition). And the ceremony contains a very key element that is what I would like to address – the bu

ffet.


The buffet (pronounced like the parrothead singer, as opposed to the all-you can-eat variety), is a very important symbolic gesture that takes place at the conclusion of the ceremony. While each kingdom (and possibly each reign) might do it a little bit different, the wording at this point is almost always the same – “May this be the last blow you receive unanswered”. And with that, the person delivering the buffet hits the candidate, and the knighting is complete. This part of the ceremony is an important one, particularly because of the wording. It highlights the point that the candidate is now a defender of the weak, a skilled fighter, and a force for the greater good. After the buffet, any hit given is expected to be returned. Yup…Lots and lots and lots of symbolism. Something that many people do not know is the fact that the ceremonial dubbing with the sword is also a form of buffet – symbolic, rich in imagery, and quite old in practice. Either form of the buffet can make for a wonderful symbol – and that is the point I hope to make - the buffet is SUPPOSED to be just that – a symbol. It is NOT supposed to be a seriously hard hit used to demonstrate the manly strength of the person throwing the punch or the manly ability to accept pain!!!!!


From the very earliest knighting ceremonies that I attended in Trimaris, I saw some buffets that disturbed the crap out of me – seriously BIG guys knocked out cold and laying on the ground, black eyes, concussions, and in one case that I know of, the new Knight needed to have reconstructive surgery to his face because of the fractures to his eye socket. WTF?!


I don’t CARE if the Knight and Squire agreed beforehand to do this.

I don’t CARE if it is traditional in your neck of the woods.

I don’t CARE if the other Knights might think you are a wuss if you don’t.

This type of behavior is NOT what the buffet was meant to be.

This type of behavior is NOT how knightings were done in history (and if I am wrong, I invite members of the chivalry to provide me with documentation to the contrary)

In short, this type of barbaric practice is not, not, NOT ok.


Now, before anyone gets super offended by what may be perceived as a pacifist view, let me be clear. I am not against the buffet taking place during the Knighting ceremony. Au contraire. But it is a symbol. A hard shove or open-handed slap is fine. But it should NOT be an out-n-out bar-brawl punch. I am also not saying that we need to curtail the violence of armored combat. Heck, if someone joins the SCA and decides to armor up and fight on the field, he or she needs to know the potential is there to get hurt – just like in any marshal art. If a fighter gets all upset because of the bruise on his or her side, the reaction he is most likely going to get from me is, “Well, maybe you should have blocked better.” But that is the key – out on the field, each fighter is theoretically equal, and is supposed to be able to defend himself. The buffet is the one time where that is NOT the case. And since the candidate is NOT supposed to defend himself and NOT supposed to hit back, giving him or her a super-hard punch that knocks the candidate’s block off is simply not cool.


Why do I care? Simple. If this were just a one-time occurrence between a knight and his squire, I wouldn’t like it, but I would just brush it off as some ridiculous practice between two good-ol-boys. But it isn’t that simple. Each time it happens, it codifies the practice into the culture of the SCA Chivalry. And that is where I take issue. It sets the expectation to a newcomer that if he or she wants to fight that that is the kind of thing that is going to happen. And that is uncool. Not in a society that emphasizes honor above all.


I have no doubt that there may be some members of the Chivalry (or more likely some wannabe members of the Chivalry) who may get really pissed off at me for publicly calling attention to this practice. And if so, so be it. I am not posting this upset as a peer, or as a former landed noble, or as a current landed noble – I am posting it as a concerned member of the society who loves my current kingdom and despite my disagreement with some of the customs and traditions, still loves his previous Kingdom. And I implore you all – please STOP this practice. Please stop it everywhere.

In a society based on honor, WHERE is the honor in punching your squire hard enough to give him a concussion? Think about that. Think about that long and hard.

On Bullying

Posted on 2016.02.18 at 12:25
I don’t like bullies. Like many people I know, I was an awkward kid who just didn’t fit in, and I suffered bullying early on. I didn’t know how to fight. I didn’t understand what was happening to me. All I knew is that at various times in my childhood, I found myself terrified – absolutely TERRIFIED by bullies. So now, as an adult who much prefers adulthood to childhood, I am pretty darned sensitive to when I see bullying. And no - I don’t like it. But part of being an adult also means taking a breath and learning to recognize the difference between someone who is being a bully versus someone who just has a different perspective or opinion.


A “Bully”, as I see it, is a person who intentionally uses intimidation or guilt or some forceful tactic to get his or her way, at the price of suppressing you or your belief. And as the politically correct pendulum swings to the extreme, I have run into situations (more than a few as of late) where supposed anti-bullies use nothing less than bullying tactics to try and persuade me to see things their way. And if I don’t, all hell breaks loose. Ironic, no?


To help illustrate this phenomena, let me give you a hypothetical. Let’s say that I have a co-worker named Jane. Jane is professional and perfectly competent at her job. She is also very much a feminist. Sometimes we get along (which is normal). Sometimes we butt heads (which I believe is also normal). Sometimes we will chat around the water-cooler, and she will tell me about situations where she has been mistreated because she is a woman. Based on the information that she gives me, I agree with her. Under those circumstances where I agree with her, she tells me that I am a good guy and that I am an ally. But then, one day, she is up for promotion. But so is Larry. And in the long run, Larry gets the promotion. Sally is furious because she is convinced that she was passed up simply because upper management wanted to hire a man instead of a woman. I calmly point out to Sally, “Ya know… Larry has more experience. I don’t believe he was promoted over you because he is a man. I think he was just better qualified than you.” EXPLOSION!!!!! Suddenly, I’m no longer a good guy or an ally. Suddenly, Sally tells me my “privilege” is showing and I am “man-splaining” things to her.


Excuse me????? So basically, as long as I agree with Sally EVERY time she says something is sexist, I’m fine. But when I have the nerve to disagree with her, I am being a chauvinist, patronizing, and making excuses for other men.


What the proverbial fuck?!!!!!!!


To me, feminism means standing up for equality. It does NOT mean always agreeing with the woman’s point of view in a conflict. And to attack me for disagreeing by using the sexist angle is in my opinion nothing less than the very sexist bullying that Sally professes to abhor. (Do you want my lunch money while you’re at it?)


Where am I going with this? Simple. In my everyday dealings with friends and acquaintances, there are bound to be disagreements. So I follow the practice of discussing such disagreements like adults. I keep an open mind and consider things from another perspective. Maybe I didn’t have all the facts? Maybe my wording was clumsy and could be interpreted in a negative way? Maybe there was some misunderstanding? But sometimes, after the discussion has gone on and I have looked at things from different angles, my opinion just isn’t going to change. After further evaluation, I still feel exactly the same as I did before. That doesn’t mean I’m being stubborn. It just means that I don’t agree with you – no more and no less. You prefer Pepsi. I prefer Coke Zero. It’s just that simple and not a big deal to me. But INSISTING that I am not listening to you, or that I am being insensitive or sexist or chauvanistic or privileged etc., simply because I don’t agree with you is not cool – SERIOUSLY NOT COOL! And it is one of the few things that a person can do to me that is likely to get the door slammed in his or her face. Why? Because it is manipulative, and not something that I appreciate in the least. I am not going to live my life by your self-imposed rules. And if you don't like it, you can choose to lose sleep over it, because I won't be.

Bullying is not cool – even if it is done by those who were bullied in the name of those who are frequently bullied. Don’t resort to bullying. Try adulting instead.

Valentine’s Day 2016

Posted on 2016.02.16 at 12:34
As you know, this past weekend was Valentine’s Day. Other than it being my sister Tina’s birthday (which makes me happy), I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day. Why? Because I really don’t like the idea of a holiday pressuring you or me or anyone else into having to do something that we may or may not do any other day of the year. I don’t like sending cards on Mother’s Day. I don’t wait until Veteran’s Day to show appreciation to our military. And I don’t believe in putting money in someone else’s pockets to buy something nice for my hubby just because the calendar says to.


Now, having ranted a bit, I am pretty pleased with myself for surprising my honey this past weekend with a very special gift – a ring that my maternal grandfather passed on to my mother, then to my father, then to one of my sisters, and then to me. It had quite a history, and a lot of damage. But thanks to the wonderful artistry of our local jeweler, Theresa’s, the ring was restored. And now, my hubby has it.


I received quite a number of “Awwwwww, how cute!” comments from people, which I really appreciate. And a lot of people I know act like we are some sort of calendar-couple, which I also appreciate. But I have news for you. Our relationship is not perfect. I don’t think any relationship is. Our relationship takes work. We’ve had our ups and downs. We’ve had our great times. We’ve had our tears. But through every low that we’ve hit, we’ve worked through it and gotten stronger.


I look back to the early days of our relationship. Many of you may not know that I took a completely foolish (by all accounts) leap of faith by selling my home, quitting my job, not having a plan, and deciding simply to leave my home in Florida to come to Southern California to move in with this guy that I really only knew through phonecalls and email. Control freak that I am, doing this was one of the craziest things I’ve ever done! Add on that I was leaving a quiet and orderly home for a house with (at the time) 3 dogs, 7 cats, 5 people, and a LOT of dirt, clutter, and repairwork still needed. UGH! In fact, it was (and still is) the house that led to some of our biggest arguments. I remember very distinctly one time just losing it because I felt like I had no say in anything. Here it was, I moved out here to be this guy’s partner, and he was so strong in his opinion about absolutely every aspect of the house that there was just no room for my input. I was able to deal with that for a little while. But as the days went on, and I realized that I was going to be stuck in a Victorian home for decades (and Victorian is NOT my aesthetic!), I realized I was going to have to fight to at least have *some* input in the process. Why couldn’t he just compromise? Why couldn’t he give in? One night, I don’t even remember what the catalyst was, but I remember we got into a screaming match about cabinet knobs or something like that. I was in tears, and he just looked shocked that I was so upset. But by the end, he learned that I needed to be able to have some input into things. Yes! Victory!!!!! Simple, right?


Well, not exactly. You see. This was just an account from my perspective and from my emotions. Only in hindsight can I really appreciate how important that argument was. You see, knowing my hubby as I do now, I know that as a kid, he didn’t exactly get things his way either. Growing up in a very conservative family with everyone having their roles, the kids didn’t get things that were anything but necessities. But if dad wanted it, dad got it. This led to resentment. And by the time Paul reached adulthood, it was his turn to finally get what he wanted. So when he bought the Claycomb house, this was his time! He could finally get the things he wanted, how he wanted, and not have to go through someone else for permission. Most of his friends pretty much just said, “Wow, neat!” which further empowered him. Hearing, “no!” was not something he was used to…. Until I came along. And in looking back, I know that at the time, I did not really understand or appreciate JUST how much of a gift Paul was giving me in allowing me to assert such a strong say in a dream that was his before I ever even entered the picture.


So yes, we’ve had to argue about things. Yes, we’ve gotten flustered with each other over ideas or projects. But when we have, we have managed to take a break, and then discuss, and then get back to things, settle the issue, and move ahead with a plan. And ya know what? That is really what has made our relationship work.


Does this mean we don’t have any more arguments in the future? Certainly not! We have unknown adventures in the horizon! But I have confidence in us. I know that even when we bicker, we grow. THAT, boys and girls, is the reality to a relationship. Is it easy? Certainly not! Nor should it be. But it is sooooo worth it!

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