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Thursday, September 5, 2019

From Pennsic, Onward (the year so far, part 3)

This year I dithered about attending Pennsic, but I ended up going for the second week of Pennsic 48. It was the 15th anniversary of my first Pennsic (2004), but only my 12th Pennsic because I've missed a few. It was a tight squeeze to get a week of War fitted in among my freelance writing assignments, but I'm starting to realize that I won't live forever, so I might as well go to Pennsic while I am still "young" and healthy enough to walk around and do things.

This year I did not take a single class at Pennsic University, though I had taken a full day of classes in mid-June at the most recent session of the University of Atlantia. Some Pennsic classes tempted me, but ... I had chores and shopping and chatting with friends who don't live near me in the "real world." Also, I did something I've sadly neglected doing for some years: I volunteered one afternoon at Heralds' Point. I colored device and badge submissions in the art tent and got some free ice cream for my troubles.


I went to a couple of evening balls, although I felt rather awkward at the first one -- not because of the particular dances, but because one of my camp chores was to refill the tiki torches, and my hands continued to smell of kerosene, no matter how much I washed them. I don't think anyone particularly avoided me, though.


The second ball I attended was Lady Sonya Flicker's "Reduction Ball," which started with dances for sets of large numbers of couples and ended up with dances for individual couples. Sonya, also known as Patches, made a new dress for herself, and she also brought along the "BEAR-on" and "BEAR-oness" of Storvik. (The real baronage were unable to attend Pennsic this year.)

Dance mistress of the Reduction Ball! 20190808_230648 The Bear-on and Bear-oness of Storvik at the Reduction Ball. 20190808_204053

While I was packing up my gear at the end of War, I felt rather wiped out. Once I got home (or started my "50-week town run"), I realized I had that kind of chest cold known as the "con crud." I hardly ever get sick, so I wanted to sit around and mope, but I had freelance writing to do.

Now that another Pennsic War is in the books, I'm looking forward to a few fall events. I'm even making a new dress for the next Coronation, which Storvik is hosting. (The dress will be the subject of at least one other post here.)

To kick off the season, Storvik had its first-ever information booth at the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (which is rather like an old-fashioned fair). Lady Sonya was in charge of our booth, and she did a great job -- we won second place!


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Two events, one site (the year so far, part 2)

In late April and early May I attended two very different events at the same site in the Shire of Spiaggia Levantina, mundanely known as the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

The first was the Shire's own event, Revenge of the Stitch, which is now in its sixth iteration, making it a truly annual event in my book. Some people, I know, would not find staying up almost all night to hand-sew linen very enjoyable, but it gets my competitive juices flowing, and I always learn some aspect of garb-making that had previously eluded me. This year -- my fourth such challenge -- I helped Meisterin Johanna's team make a houppelande with undertunics and hood for Master Richard Wyn in his heraldic colors. I was rather tired after the competition, but I did manage this "action shot" of Master Richard posing in his new duds:


Notice the leather shoes -- they were made during the competition by one of our six team members. I think we were the only team that made footwear this year. We didn't win, but I think Wyn (as he is usually called) looks spiffy in his new outfit.

Half a fortnight later, I was crossing the Chesapeake Bay again for Spring Crown Tournament. The rain held off, the competitors fought fiercely and cleanly, and Duke Cuan won his eighth reign. He and his consort will step up to the throne at Fall Coronation, to be held in Our Glorious Barony of Storvik. My friend Lady Kunigunde will be the autocrat/steward of Fall Coronation, which will have a 16th-century German theme, and I feel highly motivated to make myself a suitable dress for the occasion.

My friend Lady Meleri was the head cook for both of the Spiaggia Levantina feasts, and were they ever good! I could barely finish the last couple of courses at each meal. Meleri dedicated the Revenge of the Stitch feast to one of her schoolteacher colleagues who had operated a catering business on the side ... and who had just passed away from cancer, at a much-too-young age.

Just this past weekend, I attended the 30th edition of Highland River Melees, the signature event of the Barony of Highland Foorde, which encompasses the westernmost counties of Maryland (and is surrounded on three sides by the Kingdom of Aethelmearc). Two of my friends were "retiring" after serving as Highland Foorde's Baron and Baroness for the past five years. I talked with one woman who came all the way from Massachusetts to attend the event because she is a good friend of the new Baroness of Highland Foorde. I have a lot of experience driving between Massachusetts and Maryland, so I know what a haul that is!

During the afternoon, I took a class in using wire to make jewelry that isn't Viking-wire-knitted. Here are my results:


I posed these pins in the order in which I made them from top to bottom. Not a bad start, I'd say. :-) The bottom fibula had three beads at first -- a red bead between the two blue beads -- but the red one must have had a crack in it, because it fell off and got lost. Ah, well.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Only in Lithuania...

Some things about modern Lithuania just make me shake my head and smile. (Imagine the reaction people without any Lithuanian ancestry must have....)

For example, šaltibarščiai, or cold beet soup. I can take it in small doses, because I wasn't exposed to it while I was growing up in the USA, but real Lithuanians really, really love the stuff. In case you're wondering ... it consists of beets and dairy (buttermilk or cream), looks like Pepto-Bismol, and tastes like ... well, beets and milk. It's usually garnished with hard-boiled eggs and dill. You can find a recipe here or on many other websites.

So, imagine my jaw dropping when I stumbled upon a photo of these men's briefs on Facebook:

As George Takai might say: Ohhhh, myyyyy!! Especially note the strategic placement of the hard-boiled-egg slices. You cannot unsee that.

Even more amusing is Google Translate's English version of the product description:

Men's underwear with colds "Horseshoe". For real fanfare fans who are not afraid that the girl will want to eat them from the body. 😂

Apparently there's a whole website called that sells a full line of men's and women's clothing made with this kind of cloth that's printed to look like an endless supply of cold beet soup. (More details on the underpants: "The underwear is made of an elastic microfiber that is pleasing to the body and absorbs moisture and prevents skin contact. Such underwear will be irreplaceable on hot summer days, workouts at the sports club or just if you tend to get more sweaty.") You can get sweatpants, leggings, T-shirts, swimwear ... all in šaltibarščiai cloth that will make you (apparently) look like a cool, delicious summer treat.

Skanaus, indeed!

Monday, April 15, 2019

This year so far, part 1

We're now more than three months into 2019. So far I've been to a a couple of baronial business meetings and a few SCA events in other Maryland baronies (Lochmere and Bright Hills, specifically). At the end of March I attended an unofficial event, Storvik Performers' Revel, which is intended to be by and for performers to show off their skills in a relaxed setting (and to eat the food produced by a couple of talented chefs).

At the beginning of January, I marked the 15th anniversary of my first SCA event: Storvik Yule Revel 2004. That day I met so many people for the first time ... and, strangely enough, quite a few of them are still in my life today. I am definitely grateful for how those people have enriched my life.

This has been another one of those seasons in which Their Majesties Atlantia have seen fit to bestow some long-delayed Peerages and Orders of High Merit (Grant of Arms level) on people who should have received those awards in the past, but didn't for whatever reason. My friend Janina Krakowska, one of our former Baronesses of Storvik, received her well-deserved Laurel for embroidery; my friend Sonya Flicker, who organized the 2017 Known World Dance and Music Symposium, was inducted into the Order of the Golden Dolphin for service; and another longtime Storvik and Southwind friend, Tirzah MacCrudden, was elevated to Laurel at Ymir in February.

Also, Baron Stefan of the Barony of Black Diamond became a Laurel in dance, Baroness Wynne became a Pelican, and a longtime scribe, Baroness Daniela, became a Laurel for calligraphy and illumination. I could go on and on....

On the personal front, I've been plugging away as a freelance writer, so I'm not rich by any means, but this year may end up a bit more remunerative than the last. (*crosses fingers*)

In the news I've found a couple of items of interest to the Baltic region. First of all, a 5,000-year-old barley grain was found in what is now Finland. So people were doing at least some rudimentary farming in that area back in that time, not just killing and eating seals and fish.

The other news item garnered more press coverage than the little detail about ancient barley. The Smithsonian Channel showed an hour-long documentary on scientists who studied Casimir Pulaski's bones and concluded that he may have been an intersex person. Casimir Pulaski was, of course, the Polish nobleman who crossed the ocean, proved his cavalry skills to George Washington, got promoted to brigadier general, and was killed in Savannah, Georgia. (Pulaski's birthplace, Warsaw, was still part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth when he was born in 1745, so Lithuanians could theoretically claim him as well.) Pulaski has long been a hero to Polish Americans; when I was a kid, my neighborhood in my Massachusetts hometown had a Pulaski Playground, though I didn't learn about the origin of that appellation until I was a bit too old for the playground equipment.

Apparently, when Pulaski's bones were disinterred so that his memorial could be rebuilt, anthropologists found that his skull and pelvis were shaped more like a woman's than a man's. It took a while, but finally the bones were confirmed to be Pulaski's through a mitochondrial DNA match with his grand-niece. His baptismal record suggests he was "debilitated" (or something like that in Latin), so he may have had congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), which would have made his body produce excessive androgens despite female chromosomes. (I'm using male pronouns because he was raised as a male and probably considered himself completely male. Given the relative status of the genders for most of European history, it's not surprising that he was designated male, even though he might not have looked like a "regular" baby boy inside his diaper.)

In addition to the Smithsonian Channel show, the research was covered in the Washington Post and the Guardian, among other media outlets.

One final note: Thanks in part to a post in the Kingdom of Atlantia's unofficial Facebook group, I've been finding a lot more SCA-related blogs, so that they don't all fit in the Blogroll anymore. I'm going to start a separate page for lists of blogs and other interesting websites. That will be a work in progress, so please don't expect it to look organized right away.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Another "Restoration of Independence" Day

I've said before on this blog that Lithuania is the little country with two independence days. Today is the second -- the 29th anniversary of Lithuania's historic declaration of its independence from the Soviet Union (which ceased to exist less than two years later anyway).

Recently I read an online essay about what the Lithuanian revolution/restoration of March 1990 was really like. Heady days indeed -- and sharing the experience on television must have seemed extraordinarily amazing to viewers who were accustomed to nothing but Soviet TV.

I want to write an update-type post on my SCA activities, but that will have to wait until I finish my current crop of articles-for-pay.