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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.

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