Archive for the ‘SCA’ Category

Unapologetic

I was going to go to the Y for another murderous upper body weight lifting workout when I opened my bag and realized I had not swapped out yesterday’s cold weather running gear for clean, not soaking wet, short-sleeved, indoor appropriate anything to wear.

Rather than wear soaking wet, long-sleeved, outdoor, dirty clothes to lug around heavy weights, I bagged on my workout and decided to go for a walk. I headed east on Main Street and decided since I had my camera with me that today was as good as any day for another round of Photos Around Richmond. I think I only do this in January, when the city itself is not especially pretty, and when the weather is not especially fabulous, but then I am unlikely to waste a perfectly beautiful lunch hour trundling around with the camera.

As I headed east, I decided the top of the hill on Main Street where Rte. 5 and Main St. intersect would be my destination. Being a non-native Richmonder, I am not sure whether this is actually Church Hill or it is one of the other hills (I have also seen it labeled Union Hill on a map). Either way, this is where I was going. This is the hill I run up on my hill training days.


And this is how it looks from the runner’s perspective as you are just getting started going up.

Fortunately, today I was not running up the hill, just doing the aforementioned trundling (in 3 inch high wedge boots…my feet are very unhappy with this poor planning on my part). From almost the top, looking east, you can watch the James River drift lazily by.
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Looking back west, I could visually measure the almost exactly one mile between my current spot I was standing and the building I had walked from to get there.
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This gentleman is looking out over the City from atop his very tall pedestal.
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Everything below seems very tiny from my vantage point. I feel both insignificant and very large at the same time from up here. Cars look like Matchbox toys from up here and I can see all the way to the Chesterfield Power Station that is south of my house along the James River.
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And then I took this.

It is the first picture of myself since I turned 30. Unadulterated. Unaltered.
I got to the top of the hill feeling distinctly and intensely unapologetic about who I am. I did something silly today and wore some silly peacock feather earrings I bought for $2 last week. I like peacock feathers and I liked the earrings, and I didn’t care if they were fashionable enough to wear to work. I was feeling a bit rebellious and wore them.

Even more rebellious are the little stud earrings in my upper ear cartilage. I can’t remember the last time I wore earrings in those holes at home, much less to my rather conservative workplace.

I wear glasses. I have crows feet (too many years of playing outdoors in the sun without sunscreen). I have never intentionally plucked a hair out of my eyebrows. I don’t frequently wear makeup. The smile lines around my mouth have gotten very deep since I lost 120 pounds. My eyes can’t decide if they are blue or green, or gray. I do all kinds of unfashionable things, like wear my hair almost to my backside and only bother to color it once a year or so anymore. Or wear peacock feather earrings (actually, I think that is fashionable for the 13-17 year old age group right now…). I keep my toenails painted 100% of the time, but I have worn polish on my fingernails maybe 4 or 5 times in the past decade.

I run. I knit. I cook things my family likes to eat (we are having grilled Bessie Cow tonight!). I sing badly, but sometimes I do it out loud anyway. I sew poorly, but have enough basics to keep Byram and I at least somewhat decently garbbed in the SCA. I excel at washing dishes. I can plunge a toilet like no one’s business. I am either a horribly conservative democrat or a ridiculously liberal republican, depending on what day of the week it is when you ask me. Or maybe more accurately, I am a libertarian who appreciates some law and order, but really just wants to be left alone.

And you know what? I love all of those facts about me. I even like that self-portrait, taken at an odd angle with an odd, Mona Lisa-like look on my face. I love who I am and I don’t want to apologize for that.

Speaking of love…meet Melpomene.
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I am right at the half way mark with it and my progress has slowed (so typical of me). I came up a little short on yarn because I used larger needles than the pattern called for, but it worked out just fine. The first ball ran out just as I finished the last repeat of Chart B, so I just began the decreasing charts (Chart D) next and skipped over the middle point (Chart C). There should be no change in the effect on the shape of the scarf, just shortening its overall number of repeats.
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I adore the soft, solid texture the stitches create. I love the simplicity of the garter stitch short row sections, and enjoy the not too challenging, but not mindless twisted stitch patterns as well. I find the whole thing to be very soothing on my frayed nerves these days. The rich hue of the blue helps too. It’s a shame, but I couldn’t get a good true-to-color shot of the blue. Yesterday’s late afternoon sun threw off the color, and today’s lack of sun washes it out to gray when it really is an unapologetic sapphire blue.

The Story of Corrie

So, my Corrie Vest kit arrived back around September 13th. Only a couple of weeks before Coronation and before the Warrior Dash and Montpelier Fiber Festival weekend. I dove straight into knitting it, just going with it.

For whatever reason, stranded knitting goes extremely fast for me. I think it has more to do with keeping highly focused and the frequency with which the pattern changes, and less to do with the actual technique. I am much more likely to set a plain knitting project down for just about anything than I am to set down a fair isle project because I don’t want to get lost where I am in the pattern. Also, I am more likely to say “Just keep going until you change that left hand yarn.”

Closing in on Coronation, I was knitting a couple of hours per night, but the weekend of the event itself, I was barely able to knit at all. In the back of my mind was this fleeting fantasy that maybe the sweater could be done in time for me to wear it to Montpelier, but you have to understand that it seemed impossible at that point. I had steeks and short row shaping, and purling in pattern and 3 needle bind offs in my future, most of which I was completely unfamiliar with.

But I didn’t let go of the little idea in the back of my head.

So I knit. And knit. And knit. Fiendishly knit.

Tuesday night last week, another knitter looked at it and agreed with my assessment that completion by Sunday was exceedingly unlikely. But I kept knitting.

By Thursday, I had completed the body of the sweater and it was time to steek. I found my sharpest sewing scissors, my silk sewing thread, which I then quadrupled, and started backstitching along each side of my cuts. That took a good long while. Then, after pacing around, wringing my hands, forcing back a nervous tear or two, and 3 or 4 false starts, I made the very first snip. The world didn’t end. The sweater didn’t instantly unravel or turn to dust in my hands. So, I kept going.

Snip, snip, snip. One stitch at a time, one float at a time. Snip. Snip. Snip.
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When it was totally cut, I had a beer and didn’t look at it again until morning.

Friday was a desperately slow day at work, and I knew I was 90% of the way to home plate. With the race on Saturday morning and going to the State Fair on Saturday night, I knew Friday was my do-or-die day to finish the vest if I wanted to wear it to Montpelier on Sunday morning.

I picked up and knit the first armscye with my longest 2.75mm circular needle was which just too long and uncomfortable to knit with. The shorter, 24″ one was holding the live stitches on the neck line, so rather than go on to the second armscye like the instructions said, I went ahead and picked up and knit the neckline with the longer needle, freeing up the shorter one for the second armscye. Worked like a charm. I left work about half way done with the second armscye, and, probably to my family’s dismay, proceeded to knit through our lovely dinner at the Mexican restaurant, knit in the quickly darkening backseat, and cast off while we were waiting at the pharmacy for some medicines.

I broke the yarn in the dark in the car, and we came home from our evening out and I displayed my now finished sweater vest.

When I pulled it over my head and it fit perfectly, I could have cried.
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I wove in some ends while Grace was in the bath and while Byram was putting her in bed. The whole body is woven in, but I still have a lot of loose ends around the upper left armscye and the back of the neck. That was fine. I could wear it like that.

And I did. I wore it to the State Fair on Saturday night.
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I wore it around the house.
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(Grace took the photo which partially accounts for my completely amused expression.)

And best of all, I wore it to Montpelier on Sunday morning.
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One of the highest compliments I think a knitter can receive is to go to a fiber-centric festival and have people look at the knits you are wearing and then be shocked when you tell them that yes, indeed, you did handknit that vest. When seasoned knitters gasp with delight, you know you have done good work.

I wore it to work yesterday along with my Warrior Dash finisher’s medal. Almost no one at my office understood the importance or the pride I took in each of my hard-won accessories, but I knew.

This past weekend will go down as the most insane and wonderful weekends in my memory. In fact, the whole month of September 2011, will be firmly stuck in my memory as one of the most extreme months of my life, between beginning with an extended power outage, a wonderful family BBQ over Labor Day weekend, fun in the mud at Coronation, fun in the mud this past weekend, and lots of ups and downs in between. Onward now into October, my favorite month of the year usually, and I am particularly looking forward to a week off from work next week. I opted for a “stay-cation” to get my house in order and hopefully some personal time to recover from the insane summer and get my head and heart ready for the holidays to come.

The Social Credit Card Account

I am still firmly in autocrat mode here. Even though Sapphire is finished, the books aren’t closed yet, and now I am hip deep in getting ready for Warfighter, and also spending brain power on thinking out an event for September, whatever form it takes on. As an autocrat, I function on a theory I have developed over the years of autocratting and staffing SCA events. I call it the theory of a Social Credit Card. It actually can apply to life in general, but the SCA provides a powerful microcosm to play this theory out in very fast and real time.

In general, if you are playing nicely with others, serving the Society, contributing to your group and your kingdom, you are building credit on your “social credit card.” You might make occasional minor withdrawals on that card when you mess up, do something like file an officer’s report late, leave trash for others to clean up at an event, or drive where you shouldn’t and mess up the ground or worse, get stuck in the mud at an event. Those are just some examples of minor things that happen to pretty much everyone, and your Social Credit Card takes a little hit, but if you don’t screw up too frequently, you should still be flush.

The fastest way to drain your Social Credit Card account without doing something that gets you banned from the group permanently is to autocrat an event. The primary job of the autocrat is to find people who can work with you and with each other to make all the moving parts of an event move together in something resembling harmony. This means you have to have to ask people to work for you, and the bigger and more complex the event, the more people need and the more work you have to hand them. The great thing is that people generally want to work and will help you if you ask (remember, they are building their Social Credit Card accounts up), but every time you ask, you make a debit on your account. And every time you ask someone to do something else after they finish the task they have already done for you, the debit gets a little bigger. And every time you ask someone to do something really hard or something you know they really don’t want to do, the debits start getting pretty big.

By the end of Sapphire, there were people who probably wanted to run the other way every time they saw me coming in their direction with the look on my face of “I hate to ask this, but…” My SCA Social Credit Card was near or maybe even over the limit by noon, last Monday.

I am not trying to suggest that you shouldn’t “spend” anything in your Social Credit Account. I mean the opposite actually. The SCA really only exists through events, through real live, personal interactions with one another; not through online chats and Facebook. So, I believe that to have the SCA, you have to have events, and that means someone, somewhere, has to spend their Social Cred to make it happen. Like real money, you can hoard as much as you can get your hands on, but if you never spend it, it doesn’t really do anything for you. What I am saying you should treat the goodwill of others as a resource as valuable as money. You need the goodwill of others around you to thrive in the SCA. I cannot stress this enough. No one in the SCA operates in a social vacuum, not even our most severe introverts.

This theory doesn’t just apply to autocrats. It applies to Royalty, who must ask a lot of favors of a lot of people, but they have more ability to soften the blow to their Social Credit. It definitely applies to Landed Baronage who must also ask a lot of a lot of people, and have a similar ability to soften the impact on their credit, but the timeframe is a lot longer for them than for the Crowns. You must tread very carefully as a Landed Baron when it comes to your Social Credit Card. It applies to group officers too, particularly to Seneschals, who have to ask people to do things all the time, but have little or no way to rebuild their Social Credit until their term is over.

Like I said, I think of the Social Credit Card as a general life theory and one that I think we all abide by on a relatively unconscious level, but it is something I have become keenly aware of over the years. And if you ever wondered what I was thinking about on all those mornings I was awake at 0400 or thereabouts, this is exactly the kind of stuff I think about, and it is the kind of thing I hope future autocrats will think about too.

Feedback

This is strictly SCA related.
Feedback on the proposed laws regarding “Symbols of Rank” has been requested. I have drafted and sent a letter to the feedback email address listed on the FAQ page. The letter, in its entirety is below, and it free and open to the populace to read and consider.

If you have an opinion on the proposed changes to Kingdom law regarding symbols of rank, I urge you to consider submitting your feedback, but it is vital that you do so with respect and courtesy.

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Greetings unto Your August Majesties, Michael and Seonaid:

I am writing in response to the request for commentary on the proposed changes to §§ 13.2 and 13.3 et seq. of the Great Book of Law.

I would like to begin by saying that while I am impacted by the proposed changes, I do not find myself particularly outraged or passionate about the matter, and I have no strong emotional response to the proposed changes.

That being said, for the following reasons, I do not support the majority of the proposed changes.

A. The Laws Create More Problems Than They Are Intended To Solve

As I understand it, the main problem needing to be solved is that there are so many gentles walking around wearing symbols of rank or regalia that new members of the Society are have difficulty distinguishing between the ranks and understanding precedence.

It seems to me that this is more of a problem of education than of regalia. It should fall on us, the longer serving members of the Society, to reach out to those who might be confused and introduce them to the finer points of regalia and heraldic displays. This would not only engage newcomers in discussion and allow them to feel more included, but would educate them and could even provide the opportunity to change the culture regarding regalia as the Society goes forward.

There are a number of problems that these proposed changes will create. First, there is the issue of enforcement. The College of Heralds is being asked to enforce this, but many of them are Baronage of the Court themselves, and none that I have spoken to support the changes. If the changes go into effect, the end result will be one of two things: either they will be ignored and unenforced altogether, making this entire discussion moot, or they will end up somehow being enforced, but the nature of the Society is such that enforcement will be uneven; some people will be called out, others will not, and inevitably, drama will ensue. The creation of drama where there was none does not serve the Society’s best interests.

Second is the issue of the grandfathered symbols of rank. People will still wear their grandfathered symbols of rank and coronets made before these laws will be passed. Further, “legacy pieces” will be gifted to newly created Court Baronage, and so the non-compliant coronets are not going to disappear. What you will have will be a second “tier” of Court Baronage whose coronets might fall in line with the proposed laws, but it still does not fix the stated problem of “Symbols of rank serve two purposes: 1) a mark of distinction for the bearer of certain achievements, and 2) the easy recognition of those achievements, particularly by newcomers to the Society.” (Emphasis mine) We will still have to fall back on the education issue I brought up above.

B. The Proposed Changes Lack Popular Support

Whether a law is popular or not is not a benchmark of its overall worth. In this case, however, I am not hearing, in general, any popular support for the proposed changes. When a law does not serve to correct a serious problem, and it does not enjoy at least some popular support from the Populace at large, then it is doomed to failure, either in being ignored and unenforced, or being enforced on people already unhappy with the laws and creating drama.

Further, in lacking popular support, it is highly likely that sometime in the future, a new King will be crowned who is opposed to the laws and will either repeal them or try to “fix” them to make them more palatable.

C. A Particular Group Appears to be Targeted

Whether it is actually the case or not, it appears that Court Baronage are particularly singled out by the restrictions. Checking the Atlantian Order of Precedence, I can see that as of May 20th, 2011, there are 471 award recipients. That is a huge number, but as I see it, we should count ourselves lucky to have so many people who have served their Kingdom so dutifully and for long enough to have earned such recognition. I do not believe that more people wearing beautiful and medieval regalia denigrates or cheapens the rank, honor, or achievements of anyone else.

In summary, I see these proposed changes as being generally unnecessary. The stated purpose for the proposed changes, as stated on the FAQ page, states:

Symbols of rank for awards and Orders have existed in the SCA for a long time. They encompass more than just coronets. Examples include white belts for Knights or embattled coronets for Counts/Countesses. Some kingdoms go so far as to regulate cloaks, collars of state, chains, spurs, medallion hangers, banners, and on and on. We have chosen to be less restrictive, while still providing a basic set of guidelines that follow our Kingdom traditions.

Just because other kingdoms have enacted very specific regulations and standards for regalia is not a good reason for Atlantia to regulate symbols of rank, however less restrictive those regulations might be. If the purpose is really to make things less confusing for newer members, then I do not believe a law is needed when simple education and communication would be more effective and beneficial to the Society and its newcomers as a whole. The proposed changes already have and will continue to cause distress and mistrust among the populace.

During my tenure as Baroness of Caer Mear, the question I would ask myself before attempting any significant change of policy or tradition within the Barony was “How does this benefit the Barony and its People?” I believe the same question has to be asked in this case. How do the proposed changes benefit the Kingdom and its Populace? Do the overall positives outweigh the negatives?

That is for You, Your Majesties, to decide.

In fealty and respect, I remain,
Mistress Melisent la Rusé, OP

A Care (Caer?) Package To Myself

This is all strictly SCA and Sapphire related. Feel free to bypass if you came looking for knitting.

I had a funny thought today. When I autocrat an event, I like to set myself up with a little “Autocrat’s Care Package.” It is nothing more than some goodies to get me through an event. For my first ever event, it consisted only of a Whatchamacallit candy bar and a 2 liter of Mountain Dew, but that was a one day event.

The last time I ran Sapphire, my care package consisted of a carton of cigarettes, a 24-pack of Mountain Dew, beef jerky, Oatmeal Cream Pie cookies, and several 32 ounce bottles of blue Gatorade. No, it was not healthy, but health wasn’t a huge concern back then in general, and even less so over a 4 day marathon of activity. It was intended not only to give me lots of energy (calories), but to feed my mood (no one wants to deal with a cranky autocrat), and to be stuff I can eat one handed while swinging a sledge hammer or driving the golf cart. That was not ALL I ate over the weekend; that is why I refer to it as my Care Package.

I was doing a run down in my mind of what I would pack in my Care Package this year, and it really dawned on me that I have to go back to the drawing board now. No soda. I haven’t smoked in almost 5 years (I quit six months after the last Sapphire I ran). Oatmeal Cream Pie cookies (or Fudge Rounds, for that matter) are a one way ticket to Dump Town, and beef jerky, while theoretically the perfect food, simply doesn’t digest well in the pouch.

Since this is the first event I have autocratted since my surgery, I really have to think: What works for me now?

I will keep the Gatorade, as long as it is the low-cal G2. I needs me my electrolytes.

I think I will get some of those Beef Nuggets, instead of ordinary jerky. They are a little softer and easier on the pouch, great for protein and easily can ride around with me all day without fear of spoilage, but higher in sodium and I have deep suspicions about the preservatives used in them.

I think a pack or two of the Starbucks DoubleShots has to come along since there is not a Starbucks within 20 miles of the site. I also really like the Starbucks DoubleShot Energy Drinks. Mocha and Coffee are my favorite flavors. And somehow, they seem less threatening than say a Red Bull.

I will probably pack several Chobani 0% Greek Yogurts in the cooler. They are the perfect breakfast or fast snack. Tons of protein, some sugar (without causing dumping syndrome), and travel very well.

Then I think I will round out my Care Package with some string cheese, and a can of deluxe mixed nuts (no peanuts), or that really yummy pistachio blend trail mix I found last year.

A bag of some kind of good, bite sized chocolate might still make its way into my package. I may be beyond candy bars and oatmeal cream pies, but some extra dark chocolate, perfectly portioned into small servings, will go a long way towards smoothing over ruffled feathers and peaky nerves, all without making me sick.

The last thing in my care package will not be food related. And it might not get touched all weekend. But if I happen to find myself up at 4:30 am, like I did last time, where all I did was get up from my 3 hours of sleep and sit in camp in silence, while chain smoking, I think this year I will get into my care package and pull out my running shorts, running tank, and trainers, and cover a mile or two around the site. Will I have either the time or energy? Chances are good that I won’t. But if I do, nothing, and I mean nothing, no chocolate, cigarettes, caffeine, or drugs, legal or otherwise, would do more wonders for my brain and stress levels than to run in the quiet early morning around the event. And while throwing those things in a bag and dragging them with me costs me nothing, even if they never get looked at, having the time and inclination to go for a run, and NOT having my gear, would put me in a serious funk.

What a difference 5 years makes, yes?

Most Anything But Knitting

I am not knitting. At all. I haven’t knit a stitch in a week or so. Right now, I am in autocrat survival mode and my world is pretty much nothing except schlepping through my 8-5 work day, then juggling parenting and event planning, before crashing into bed, where I then dream about the event until about 4am when tossing and turning begins until I stumble out of bed bleary-eyed at some point before dawn on many mornings.

My primary source of stress relief is working out, mostly running. My long runs are up to a 3.5 mile loop around Belle Isle a couple of times a week, and my short runs are over 2 miles these days. Tuesday nights are for yoga and pilates after the living room is vacant. Wednesday is my rest day from running; I lifted weights at the Y yesterday. Last Wednesday, I climbed the stairs of my building a couple of times, then took a long walk. On the weekends, I am trying to make sure I get some kind of activity in, even if it is just long (60 minutes or more) slow walks. One day a week, I like to hit a treadmill for a very fast run, and for a break from only running on sidewalks, pavement, and graveled trails.

Much of my time is spent reading about nutrition, resting, recovery, cross-training, and injury prevention, or studying Google Earth maps of the areas I frequent to map out runs.

Introducing yoga has been an attempt to prevent injury and ease muscle soreness. I have never loved yoga, but I am developing an appreciation for the benefits, if not quite a love for the activity yet. I have noticed in only 3 weeks practicing it, my flexibility is starting to increase, and I have noticed that my soreness decreases about a day after a yoga practice. I am considering adding a second practice to the week; maybe making one specifically pilates and the other one specifically yoga, instead of mixing up the two.

In June, I am going to send in my payment not only for the McDonald’s Half Marathon, but I am going to sign up for a formal, professionally-coached training team.

They meet on Saturdays at 8am, and I am going to flat out miss the first two weeks of training because I am going to be in Slippery Rock, PA, both weekends. There are at least two other Saturdays I am going to miss as well; probably the Saturday of Fall Coronation, and the weekend immediately after it when I am running the Warrior Dash race at Berkley Plantation. Not much I can do about that. I hate the idea of missing 4 weeks out of the 14 week training program, but that is life.

This really sums up my whole life right now. When not doing one of the things I mentioned above, I am playing ignorant online games that involve a monkey popping many thousands of balloons and imbibing more than I should. I believe both the Bloon-Popping Monkey obsession and the imbibing will come within more reasonable parameters by the end of the month.

Otherwise, I am going to end up posting some weird YouTube videos about “winning” and my Supermonkey Goddesses, and the next stop will be some kind of Booze/B’loon rehab center, looking like Amy Winehouse after a party, sharing drink recipes with Lindsey Lohan. If I had tiger blood coursing through my veins, this would be okay, but I don’t. So…moving on.

Chances are good you won’t hear much from me between now and June. Forget the Post A Week goal. Forget knitting. Forget writing and better blogging. I have an event to run and several hundred people who are counting on me to make sure they have an excellent Memorial Day weekend. See you there or most likely I won’t see you until June.

Honored

As often as I have been writing, you would not think my goal of at least a Post-per-Week would be in jeopardy, but this week, I am at a bit of a loss for words.

I am in the SCA and have been for over 10 years now. Finding the SCA and becoming completely enveloped in it was probably the defining moment of my life to this point, because the SCA opened the door to my marriage, my daughter, my life in Richmond, and is even responsible for my knitting. It is responsible for pretty much all the travel I have done in the past decade, and allowed me to go to places and do things I never would have had the opportunity to do otherwise.

My passion in the SCA is armoured combat and for many reasons, mostly excuses, I am not a fighter right now. The other passion of mine in the SCA is just having fun, and early on, I learned that the way I like to have fun was to be around my friends, who were all having fun doing stuff like making events happen, putting out food for a couple hundred other friends, and stuff like that.

I learned it was fun to go to events, but we have to have events to go to, and someone has to make those events happen, so I learned how to be a Big Picture Person (I am not and never could be a Detail Person), and I learned how to draw a big picture, and how to apply Detail People to the picture, and keep it all together and somehow, the picture always became an event.

I learned that it was fun to see my friends when they walked in the door, so I sat at the Gate of some events. Money is scary to me, but being the first smile SCAdians might see when they walked on site raised the “fun quotient” over the “Scary Money quotient.”

The kitchen is one of the most fun spots at an event, but I am not really into cooking on a large scale. However, since I ran the dish washing station for the Student Dining Hall and cleaned up after a few thousand college kids at my college for financial aid, it turned out that washing a few dishes for a couple of hundred friends was no big deal. Besides, I kind of dig calling myself the scullery maid.

I even thought it was great fun playing in the mud when I was pushing cars out of the mud at a few really nasty events, earning the nickname Mud Dauber.

And here is where my words fail me.

In the past 4 months, my friends, who have all been so busy showing me how to have fun and do stuff over the past decade, got even busier. About 4 months ago, Their Majesties asked a group of people if they thought I was worthy of joining their ranks. Apparently, they thought so, and Their Majesties were so minded to include me with that group, the Order of the Pelican.

The Order of the Pelican is one of the three bestowed Peerages within the SCA, and according to the Atlantian Award Recommendation Site, it is “[g]iven to those subjects who have provided exceptional and unremitting service over many years.”

For 4 long months, my friends have been keeping this to themselves, all the while busying themselves to make sure that the vigil and ceremony would be an incredible experience for me, one that met my wishes and one that was special for those who took part in it. There are epic tales about the Saga of the Dress. There were hoodwinks, hijinx, and cloak and dagger games.

On Friday night, somewhere around 9 p.m., Their Majesties put me on vigil near the list field, under a full moon, while my friends sang around a fire and ate delicious food put out by my cooking friends. People came and talked to me until about 1 a.m., and said some very nice things about me.

Saturday morning, I donned a stunningly made and fitted dress, the “mud dauber” brown wool I picked out years ago, and in a ceremony before the assembled populace, was decked in the accoutrements of the Order, swore an oath of fealty to the Crowns of Atlantia, and was elevated to that Peerage.

Again, words fail me.

I am not able to express how much last weekend meant to me. How much I appreciated every detail. How much I appreciate that they all went through a bit of stress and probably no small amount of frustration as they dealt with me and my tendency to be obstinate, while I was blissfully unaware of all the activity taking place around me.

I cannot express it the way I want to, I cannot repay them, and thank you notes don’t really cover it, so that means I have to pay it forward. I just hope I can and that I can do my friends justice.