Sunday, October 27, 2013

Plans within plans

Things I want to write about:

. Review Legendary and it's 2 expansions
. Discuss Pokemon (because I MUST catch them all)
. Marriage
. Tudor Feast 2015 and the madness it has become
. Wings of Revelation, the working title for a new game I'll be running
. SCA randomness

Thing's I'll be writing about today:

Nothing, because I don't have time before work.

In all seriousness, I do have a lot to talk about. I just wish I had more time to write during the day! I think I'll make a point of taking an hour or so after I get off work this eve to dedicate time to writing down what I think and feel or observe.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me

So, tomorrow is my 27th birthday.

A friend asked me if I was where I thought I would be a decade ago. I thought about it and realized that I wasn't, but that was OK. They asked if I would be OK not having some big birthday celebrations, be given hundreds worth of presents or even have a party of some kind to celebrate my date of birth...but I'm also really OK with that too.

I have the best friends a man can ask for. I have some wonderful adversaries as well, because life shouldn't be boring. I have family, both blood and chosen, whom I know will always be there for me regardless of how much of an ass I am. I have a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, and more forms of entertainment than I know how to shake a stick at. I got a job I love with bosses I adore, even when they drive me nutters. And I have a loving fiance' who is everything I could want or need in a partner, even if it took me a while to realize it.

So yeah, I'm no where I thought I would be a decade ago. But I'll be damned if I'm disappointed, life has just gotten better and I know the future will be even brighter.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Reflections on a Feast

So, it's been a while since Fall Coronation. Usually I try and write quickly after an event to capture my mind and my thoughts, but this event led me to sit and ponder a great deal. I learned a lot of things, both in skills as well as personally, and my emotions were a roller-coaster the entire time. Perhaps at a later date I'll share my "No shit there I was..." story for you all to enjoy, but maybe after some more time has past to protect the innocents (and me) from angry wrath :p. In between paragraphs I'll post pictures of my feast, because I'm pretty proud of it.

I never truly understood how good of a cook I was until this weekend. I know that sounds egotistical as shit, but anyone who honestly knows me is aware I am my own worst critic and am the last person to praise my work. Even after hearing my feast had sold out before the event even started wasn't enough to make me feel pride in my work, Jake can attest to my panic and concern at disappointing over 100 people with my "just ok" food. I just don't compliment myself well, so when things start to go tits up I know in my gut that I'm going to be a failure. Its an issue I struggle with during every creative work, but I've heard most artists suffer from the same so I'm not too stressed about it. But after this weekend...I dunno, something changed.

I was in a terrible space on Saturday, mentally as well as with my feast preparation. Things were going wrong everywhere, ingredients were not working and to me it felt like I had clearly not practiced enough. At one point I had a breakdown, needing to call Andi to get some kind of help through the woods I was clearly losing myself into. We were both struggling over the phone to figure out a way to solve it, when a single piece of information sank into my brain and suddenly I had it. It was a moment of clarity, where there wasn't sound or dark or loss...I just understood what I had to do.

From that point on, I was running on instinct. I've never butchered an animal before, but I knew how to do it. I don't know how I knew, I just knew what knife to use and where to cut to get my desired outcome. Thank goodness Squeaky gave me some tips on presentation for cutting purposes, and James Collins helped me make life a lot easier when my brain was acting stupid near the 2am mark. But I just knew what to do. And that happened for me all day Sunday. Problems rolled in, and I knew the answers before I had even thought about them. We had a problem, Andi or an of my other horde of Laurels would toss them at me and we were able to bounce ideas off each other until the problem was solved. It was like a dance, it was just a perfect swell and crest of music.

I learned I was a pretty good cook. Not just in actual knowledge, I knew enough about the processes instinctively through training to know how to fix problems or roll with any punch that got thrown at me. I knew when to ask for help, I knew when to take hints and to follow the advice of my peers. More importantly, I learned I could trust myself. When the chips were down, when I was forced in the corner...I found out I could trust myself to handle the pressure as best as any human can and produce a pretty excellent product. That's a pretty valuable lesson right there.

Besides all that fun stuff, I really did learn a lot of great things this event. Finding out you chose the right people to be friends and family with was nice, especially when they let me scream and stomp then give me booze and push me back into the kitchen. I also learned how to butcher a whole animal, the joys of that I cannot begin to describe, and how to remove eyeballs (far less joyous, more...curious). I learned that no matter how much you prepare, shit will go down and you have to deal with it. I also learned you cannot please everyone, and one person not properly reading your menu and thus complaining about allergies is totally not my problem. It also seems that I say unintentionally hilarious things in the kitchen when I am focused ("The 19th chicken rides the pig!") and many people will believe that I will serve eel for dessert.

Tomorrow I'll finish my what went right and wrong posts, until then thank you for your support. Yes even you, the one on the left.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Board Games and Personalities

I know, bad monkey for not posting every day. things have been hectic here, gonna be doing some double posts till I catch back up.

So, I like to game. I do table top gaming such as Dungeons and Dragons, I play video games like Mario or Skyrim and often times I play card and board games. Poker and Monopoly are played, this is true, but I find my taste in games to be a bit more geeky and eccentric. I love games like Cosmic Encounters, Gloom, Settlers of Catan, 7 Wonders and a whole host more. These are part of a wave of "geek" games, systems based on geeky/nerdy concepts or unique rule system that I find absolutely adorable and cool.

Over the last few years, I have played many games. Now that I have a decent paying job, I can actually afford many of these games myself, and get to enjoy them on a far more regular basis. I have found with my friend and I, our personalities and even our attitudes tend to shift and change depending on the game we're in. I find it amusing and also fascinating to watch a normally quiet and simple person go to a frothing rage monster once they get a set of Cosmic cards in their hands, or see the inner goth bloom with a good game of Gloom.

I'm gonna do a simple review of two of my favorite games here, and some amusing notions on how we tend to suddenly act and change while playing them.

Cosmic Encounters - This is the original geeky game for me, the one that drew me into the world of board gaming and fun. The premise of the game is that you are one of over a hundred alien species (or 2 aliens together, if you use the variant rules) trying to conquer the galaxy. You have your own home system of planets, and you must use your alien powers and various cards drawn from a deck to conquer your enemies home systems. The first person to 5 foreign victories wins.

This game is difficult, I admit, but so much fun to play. Picking an alien can be daunting, and it takes several games to really get a firm grasp and understanding of the rules. It took me 4 or 5, and there are STILL some aliens I have never played and thus don't truly understand the rules for. If you get a game of experienced players however, watch out for some awesome fun times. The game can get very aggressive and heated at times, make sure to take breaks after the game is over to avoid issues.

We tend to get very aggressive and violent during this game, for some reason the concept of galactic conquest just makes people violent. We tend to get loud, lots of arm flailing and cursing happens. Even those of us not normally aggressive will become very dominant and headstrong, and its almost comical the bloodthirstiness that will radiate from Sarah's eyes. We can't play this game too much though, we've given it the nickname "the game that ruins friendships" for a good reason.

Skytraders - This was actually a random purchase, recommended to Jake by a game store owner, and I have found it incredibly awesome and fun. Its a long game though, so be prepared to play this for the long haul. The premise of this game is that you are one of 5 airship captains in a steampunk world, and you are attempting to gain control of the Skytraders guild. You do this by buying and selling goods, earning gold, influencing the market value of said goods and buying guild influence. The first person to the center of the guild influence tracker wins!

This is a game that once you sort all the pieces is actually really simple. You have limited movement, you must buy goods and sell them in other cities, and later you must roll dice to see which market goods you control. The buying and selling is straight forward, and I find the market phase rather exciting. So, you take your 3 dice and roll them. The numbers they land on correspond with a specific good. You now have the ability to make the price go up (thus more expensive to buy or sell) or make the price go down (thus cheaper to buy and sell). You have two minute to negotiate with your fellow captain on who will back what, and its always intense and a lot of fun. So much fun, in fact, we regularly forget to buy guild influence while playing!

Now you'd think with an aggressive game like stock market control we'd be just as ruthless as Cosmic, but you would be surprisingly wrong. When we sit down to play I always insist of drinking tea (because were civilized captains) and we all take on an air of sophistication. We have to work together at times to push the goods up or down as we need, and that need to find common ground and agreements makes us much more careful about being ruthless to another. There is a combat mechanic for fighting each other, but we so rarely do it I often don't even bother getting the ship combat upgrades in favor of ship crew that helps me buy/sell better. We act like proper steampunk airship captains the entire time, which causes no end of eyerolling from Lana or Sarah.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Things you didn't know until you needed to...

I have found there is a HUGE list of things that have been neglect in my education, and things I am just starting to learn I needed to know These are things I find very frustrating, not a bad frustrating mind you but still frustrating nonetheless, but I will struggle though them.

First off, no one accurately prepares you for success. Like, honest to gods I have never been prepared or ready for the kind of success I have found with my job right now. They always say hard work, loyalty and dedication will pay off...but when was the last time it truly did? I haven't been taught what to do with rapid and frequent success, never prepared for it. I still don't know what to do with it, but I'm just rolling with the punches right now and taking it one day at a time.

Also, it gets talked about all the time but no one can really prepare you with moving in with your future spouse. So much needs to be covered and figured out, so much needs to be accounted for but it all needs to be done with zero education and training. We're sorting through all of that as a couple, but its a step-by-step process. For us its been a mixing of the geek cultures, combining our media and gaming habits has been odd.   We both have separate lives worth of things, so who's things get put where and displayed out next to what? Figuring out how to start the process of combining bank accounts, consolidating our various personal lives and how to sort out each others families...we're learning as we go but I sure coulda used a course on this in college!

Also...weddings. Like, holy shazbot there is no education on planning anything wedding related. There are a million "ultimate guides" out there, and I keep seeing a lot of dollar signs adding up. It is frustrating that a modern wedding costs so much, neither of us come from rich families and are looking at paying for it ourselves (which leaves only 6000 for everything). And so many options, so many variables to account for that you had no idea until you started the process. It feels like my wallet is being held hostage for the sake of love, and makes me fussy. There's still more to delve into it, and maybe this wedding planner will be a boon, but I hate feeling like I'm being fleeced and am supposed to grin and bare it. I wish I knew what right options to take, what right way to go about things so I felt like I wan't just about to be screwed.

Life is going great, please don't take this the wrong way. I just wish I felt more prepared for these experiences that I'm going through, more ready to handle them. I think I'm doing pretty well all things considered, and handling it all well. But the Boy Scout in me always wants to be prepared!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Moving, ugh

I am exhausted form moving, and will be posting more tomorrow.

The last 24 hours have been a lot of pain and struggle, but we made it in and got everything into the apartment. The big unpacking is next, which sounds easier than it is. The place is nice, and I plan on doing some before/after shots once the rooms are in reasonable enough shape and not filled with boxes. I have been building furniture all day, which means fewer boxes have been unpacked but more places to put the unpacked items as soon as I'm ready.

Tomorrow will be a longer day, including the details of our chat with the wedding planner and more talks on the challenges and such of moving in with my fiance'.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Starting in July...

SO, I'm gonna be doing a writing exercise in July because I wanna try some new stuff. I'll be blogging once a day on a variety of things, either creative works or my life or even whatever I feel like talking about. I wanna write, and giving myself a requirement to blog once a day I think will help with that.

So stay tuned, as I blog once a day every day in July!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Short Version:

I proposed to Sarah on 6/24/2013 after a series of events led me to understand she was the one. I successfully surprised her, surprised myself and genuinely made her the happiest woman on the planet for a brief point in time. Also, almost drowned.

Long Version:

In May, about 2 weeks before TMT, Sarah and I were spending some time alone. We were making up from a fight I had been a jerk during in the usual young adult fashion; in the dark, loudly and doing discrete things that should not be mentioned around small children. During such activities, an accident happened with protection on my end. After assessing the situation, we discussed ways of settling it and how to best cover both ourselves.

This was over in a record short time for me, with minimal pain and fuss. No panicking, no worry, just a calm assurance that we had taken all the correct steps and things were to be OK no matter what. We had a frank discussion on the topic of children and what a surprise pregnancy would do for us at this point, and moved on. We slept comfortably in each others arms, and the next day went about our business. For those of you who know me well, this is a very odd occurrence which I noted myself later the next day.

I usually have a small panic attack later after the situation, but regularly when a high-stress situation occurs I have a fucking panic attack. I noted this odd occurrence, and for the life of me couldn't understand my concern. I have had accidents in the past with other women, where over-vigorous activities have led to such things, and in every one of those instances I panicked. I thought about everything that could go wrong, was going wrong, and how this was a disaster. This time I didn't, and I was honestly confused.

Flash forward two weeks, to the Friday of TMT. I had honestly put the incident out of my brain, forgotten it had even happened and moved on, when I got a text from Sarah as I was on my way to the event. She said "Hooray, all safe!" Now...if you know my darling woman at all you know she has a terrible habit of continuing a conversation we stopped WEEKS ago like nothing happened. This often results in a deer-in-headlights stare from me and a slow blink until she responds to catch me up. I gave the phone such a stare, and typed back for her to clarify and explain. She replied that her monthly cramping friend had arrived as scheduled, and we had no need to be concerned about a surprise baby.

I reread the text three times, to fully understand what she said. I found a great pounding in my chest, not one of excitement but of sorrow. I realized I had tears rimming my eyes, and I was honestly incredibly upset. And then I was angry, because I did not know why. I pulled off onto the side of the road in the middle of the Ocala National Forest and just sat on my hood, trying to process what I felt. Why I felt sorrow and loss at her text, instead of joy and reassurance. I sat and thank for a good long time, until I came to understand why I felt that way.

As a child, I always wanted to be a father and have a family. Everyone else wanted to be doctors, lawyers, spacemen, soldiers or the like. I was simple, I just wanted a good job I could be proud of and a wife and family. Its been my driving goal since I was younger to find The One for this to happen with, and it had never happened. What I realized, sitting out there alone surrounded by nature, was that I felt sorrow and loss because I WANTED to have that family with Sarah. That she was the one I wanted to be my wife. I had never been so sure of anything in my life, and knew I had to move heaven and hell to make it happen.

As soon as I arrived onto site, I burst into action like I normally do at SCA events and did not have as much time to think and discuss further with folk my revelation and plans. I told my best friend Ever how I felt and why, I got hugs and congrats from her then the important question of "so when are you gonna do it?" I honestly had no idea of the when, but I knew that I needed to do this the right way; I needed a ring and it had to be perfect. I left the event with a renewed sense of purpose and a plan, find the ring then find the perfect time to ask her to marry me.

At a friendly gathering of trusted friends a week later, I made a vow and promise that within 1 year I would be engaged to wed Sarah. I had no idea HOW I was gonna pull this off but I just knew I had to make it work. I began to fret about money, but decided to worry about the fiances later till after I had found the ring. A few days after the gathering, Sarah helped me with the process of refinancing my auto loan (I have a credit score of 608 now, I am super stoked for that) and I was approached about a credit card. I've never had a credit card before, nor have I ever been approved for one, so I was wary about getting one. But seeing as I wanted a house in a year, and you need a minimum 2 lines of credit for a house, I figured applying would be worth the shot.

I was approved on the spot for a card with a 5,000 limit and you could have blown me over with a feather. THIS was how I was going to afford the ring, and it would be beautiful and perfect and good. I was on pins and needles for the card to arrive, finally I couldn't wait any longer and asked Lana to do some basic ring scouting with me. I had no sense for jewelry, so she would be a boon, but it turn out I needed her more for moral support than I needed on jewelry advice! The second ring the gentleman showed us called out me, it just looked so perfect and sparkled and I could picture it on her finger! But I am not known for making rash choices, not on this purchase, and wanted to see all the others recommended. I settled on that ring, but was forlorn because I had NO funds with which to put any kind of down payment on it.

Thankfully the gentleman was kind and could see how attached I was, he accepted a 20 dollar hold for a week which Lana happily covered for me. I was on pins and needles as I wanted for the card to arrive, I confided in my father my plans and he was quite overjoyed as was a mother at my choice and plans. When the card finally DID arrive, I was activating it on the way into the store to pick the ring up I took an hour break because I couldn't stand waiting any longer, I NEEDED to have that ring in my hands.

When I saw it in the tiny box, I could not have been more proud (nor more anxious) of my choice. It was fucking perfect, and I knew without a doubt this was the right choice. I was paranoid about the ring, I didn't want it to get lost or stolen so for 4 days I kept it in my pocket and on my person at all times. I still had no idea how to propose to Sarah, I wanted it to be just the most perfect thing for us both. At first I thought about waiting until Christmas, but then I realized that I did not have the patience for that. I had been planning on Fall Coronation, but then once i saw that ring I knew I couldn't wait those months. I had high hopes for proposing on the day we moved in together (July 1st) but when I heard she didn't have the day off my plans were back to square one. I wanted to do something special, so I arranged for a day off I normally worked to take her out.

Sadly, work is work and I was suddenly having to work the day I planned to propose. I explained the issue to my boss, and he let me leave work 5 hours early to pend time with Sarah to propose. He gave me some great advice, gave me a hug and wished me luck as I dashed out the door on Sunday to pick up Sarah. I had decided to take her to my hometown, show her where I grew up and where the events that shaped me occurred. It was an emotional time for me, so much tragedy from my past welling inside. I still had no idea where I was going to ask her, I felt that the moment would come to me. Thankfully, it did.

We were both still awake and not hungry, so I decided to take her to Sims Park. Its a lovely park where I grew up, right near downtown and by a punch of cool historical sites. As I was showing her the park, it started to sprinkle. I thought the rain would hold off but before we knew it the water was coming down in buckets and we were both soaked and drenched. I joked about drowning as we ran to recover in someplace dry, and we took shelter in the concert stage to wait for the water to lessen. As I looked around the stage, remembering everything i had done here so long ago I knew that it was the place.

Even though I was sure of my choice, I was still nervous and tense as all hell. This was a HUGE thing I was doing, and though I was confidant in her answer I couldn't help shaking my panic. I told her about all the big life choices I had made there; how I decided to work to support my mom and sister there, how I chose to leave for Orlando and allow my sister to go to Japan, how I made the choice to leave the town forever and return to Orlando for  new life after I graduated. That the stage was a place of such importance to me, that nearly everytime I was up there I made a choice that changed my life forever. I knew it was now or never, and right on cue the rain slowed down enough o we could talk without yelling.

I took her to center stage and held her hand. I kissed her and apologized, told her I was Tenant Doctor sorry ("I'm so, so sorry") that my last name did not end in an A (running gag, she wanted to marry a man with the last name A so she could say her initials spelled S.E.G.A). She was totally confused as I dropped to one knee, fumbled with the box and opened it facing her so she could see the ring. I asked her to marry me, and the surprised/joyful look on her face was worth all the effort and the near drowning. She said yes, repeatedly (like 7 times in rapid succession) and about knocked me over to grab me and kiss me and take the ring.

So that's the long version, and I couldn't be any happier.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Gathering of the Clans - Learning Time

This past weekend was my locally Barony's annual Gathering of the Clan event. This tends to be a silly/relaxed event, a lot of fun and games are had here and a good time overall. This was my first attendance at it actually, I missed last years due to a work conflict so I was looking forward to the fun and games. I had a lot of fun overall, and am always pleased to see my friends receive awards for their good works, but I also found myself learning a lot of things this event.

Here's my list of things learned, transcribed from my notebook. If I feel I need to expand the details, I will.

. Always plan ahead. Do not assume help will come, either get it yourself or plan to do the task without it.

. Do not overbook. If people have to be at certain places, make sure they don't have to be in 3 places at once. Set a good pace.

. Always take time to sit and answer questions, you never know who will decide to be chatty and you may just discover a new friend.

. Don't forget to put your contact info on your class hand-out :p

. When doing a Feast, you WILL hit a wall. You WILL hit a point where you're lot in the weeds and having your meltdown. Since you know that will happen, have someone be in the Feast prep team who's sole job is to get you through that breakdown point. They will save that feast and make sure you get back on schedule.

. Always triple check your portions, make sure you have enough ingredients!

. Roll with the punches. Some dishes may need to be scrapped mid meal, others may need to be rearranged  That's ok, that happens. That's not a hallmark of a bad cook, that's the reality of working in an unbalanced system called life.

. Cue cards for each dish, including ingredients, is a gold idea. Stealing that.

. Always carry personal spice and ingredients, you never know when emergency flour is needed!

. Sometimes, no matter how many times you double/triple check with someone, people forget things. Don't sweat it when they do, and just be ready to have their back when they need it.

. Faith is terrifying with thrown weapons. Do not piss her off when you re in a 70 foot radius.

. When you have the opportunity to put out a fire, do it. When you have the chance to tip the scales, tip them. When you can rush to catch the vase, catch it. But above all, remember that when you do these things you do them for chivalry and honors sake; not for the sake of notice or reward or praise.

. There are times that I forget Eva was a Queen of the East, but she will always find a way to remind me through her generosity and kindness and decorum.

. Pre-planning, pre-planning, pre-planning. Organize the web page, advertise the merchants, put the merchants in a good place for foot traffic, put everything where you said you would.

. Always assume that they will not follow your directions, follow behind to ensure compliance.

. "But the Baroness said" is a way to earn a smacking.

. Amalric is hilarious when drunk.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Trimarian Scribes

The smell of coffee and fresh cooked eggs woke Morie Gray before the quick peck on her cheek. She shifted in hopes to catch a glimpse of the delivery man, but she knew her dearest was already off and running to his next task. How Christoff could care to wake so early on a holiday weekend was beyond her, but the perk of delivered breakfast was enough to cause her reason to rise from beneath the blankets and off the rugs. She quickly dressed, the Scottish attire was perfect for the Trimarian climate due to its breathing room and ease of dressing, and she stumbled towards the center of camp before her fellows could.

Portioning out the breakfast to her companions, Morie let her mind unfog as she tried to plan her day. She knew that there was some scribal work to be done, but it would be nice and leisurely transcribing work. Giving a smile and a plate to those who stumbled out of tents, she was wide awake by the time the others had begun to eat. "Good morning James, good morning Milesenda. Sleep well?" She asked.

James gave a grunt and a nod, going first for the black gold in a cup before even considering the eggs. Milesenda gave him a knowing look and happily takes a bite of the breakfast. "We did, but James got significantly less than the rest of us. Per usual." She teases her husband, who's gruff look is melted by the soft kiss to his brow. 

"Bard work lasts until the last fire circle drops, which wasn't till nearly 3am." James responds sleepily, though life was fast coming to his eyes as he began his second cup of coffee. 

Morie shook her head and laughed at her friends morning ritual, it was the same every long gathering. This weekend was known as the Trimaris Memorial Tournament, a several day affair celebrating the founding of the kingdom. Christoff had already dashed off to feed the masses, no doubt the Archers were in service to the gate boundaries or to the Wyvernwoode Excellencies, and who knows what Adriano had gotten himself into this time. Later this day heirs to the throne would be selected, proving the line of succession was strong. A grand feast and court would need to be held, thankfully Milesenda had already prepared all of the scrolls needed.

At least, this was the assumption. That was quickly proven false as Adriano came sprinting from the direction of the royal encampment, red faced and out of breath as he arrived into camp. James sighs and grabs a piece of toast, shoving it into his mouth and speaking around it as he buckles his sword belt  "Alright brother, what trouble are you in now?" He teased, then took a bite of the bread.

"Trouble? No, there was a simple misunderstanding last night involving a Gypsy and an Italian woman. See she, the Gypsy, thought I was flirting with her and proposing a marriage contract. Not that I wasn't flirting, but that's not the point I - I am totally off topic." Scowling at his sword brother and trying not to smirk at the friendly laugh, he grabs a swig of water to refresh himself. "I bring a message from Her Majesty, the Queen of Trimaris, to Milesenda. They need a Grant of Arms scroll for high court this evening."

Milesenda's eyes grew wide and from her mouth issued forth a set of rather unladylike words thankfully in French Morie had been meaning to learn the language, but she didn't need to know French to understand that her friend was rather upset. "A Grant of ARms, in this kind of notice!? I don't have enough ingredients for ink, I'l need to construct a new brush or three, I'll need to barter for the parchment..." Standing up in a panic, she dashes for the tent to start gathering her pouches and harvesting materials.

Adriano blushed apologetically at delivering the news, but soon sits down to share breakfast with James as they discuss the adventures they both had undergone last evening. Morie sighs, they just didn't understand what was needed for this task but she wasn't sure they ever would. Their boasting stories between the two brothers were bad enough, that Norsemen story they both insist on retelling couldn't possibly be true, she had given up on trying to get them to understand or have them believe the work went into a scroll. Alas, she knew Milesenda couldn't go this alone and went to get her gathering pouch as well as well as her trimming shears. It was going to be a long day.

* * * * * * * * *

The sun had just begun its climb across the morning sky, and Morie and Milesenda were already running full sprint. Chimera are difficult as it is to approach, temperamental creatures that are best avoided whenever possible, but in the early morning at least they can be caught sleepy and off their guard. A quick snip from Morie's scissors got the needed tuft of fur for 5 brushes, but had awoken the creature with a start. Ducking behind a large rock, they both pant and catch their breath as the beast hunts for them. 

"Why do we need this particular hair again?" Morie pants, looking over to Milesenda and speaking in a hushed tone.

"Nothing paints as fine, nor smooths gold as clean. It the properties of the hair, almost like silk. We need it to spread the green ink anyway." Milesenda responds promptly, trying to retain her ladylike demeanor while sweating and out of breath.

A roar as the creature bounds towards them causes both the women to dash off and running, heading back towards the trail. Tired of running, Morie pauses and stops next to a large stone easily the size of a small child. Bending down and grunting, she hefts the large rock high into the air and as the chimera dashes forward she drops it on the beasts lion head. The animal crashes down, stunned, and Milesenda jogs back to her friend. Giving a low whistle she looks to the young Scotswoman. "Where did you learn that?"

Morie shrugs, wiping the earth dust off on her lower dress. "Highland games, you get really good at lifting awkward and heavy objects. Also, sometimes Scottish men need reminding that no means no." 

Sharing a laugh, they both bend down to the unconscious animal. No point in wasting a good prize, and the mane will grow back fast enough.

* * * * * * * * *

Morie tiptoed towards the great beast, swallowing hard. Standing up to an overgrown cat was one thing, walking close to a sleeping sea dragon  was something entirely different. She looked back at Milesenda, who was busy keeping the beast enthralled and asleep with her voice, and hoped the dust wasn't as bad as yesterday.

Milensenda knew there was a nest of sea dragons nearby, but she imagined there would have to be swimming involved to catch ones attention. This one was busy basking in the sun along the beach, unaware of the two ladies as they approached the three-headed creature. The sea dragon was soothed and comforted by the sound of a female voice, its why the mermaids were able to tame so many, but it took a lot of singing and the french woman was getting parched. "Please get the scale we need, I can't sing like this all week!" She shrilled melodically.

"Dragon scales are naturally resistant, I need to pull one right this instant. Sing something soothing so, the pain does not wake him oh" Morie sang back, trying to emulate Milesenda's voice but jarring in a minor chord. The beast stirred and threatened to wake, and Morie froze. Looking in panic, she waffled on dashing back to safety and looked towards the other for comfort or assistance.

Milesenda could sense and see the beast stirring, and shifted her voice to sing a soft song about the Sea King to bring the beast back to slumber. A heavy eye on one of the three heads began to open, but the power behind her words had the noble creature slowly drift back to its restless slumber. Singing with a sound of relief, she watched as Morie carefully yanked a single green scale from the beasts side and quickly scramble back. Milesenda kept singing till they crested the hill, then dashed back to safety away from the water.

"Where did you learn to sing like that?" Morie asks, shaking her head in disbelief.

"Besides having a bard for a husband? Battle scribing requires a wide variety of skills, to harvest the rare pigment ingredients." Pausing as she checks the list, she sighs in frustration. "I do not want to barter with dwarves for more gold..."

"Right? They just don't appreciate us, I think its the lack of beard." Morie adds sagely.

* * * * * * * *

The two ladies drug themselves back into the scribal hall erected on the site, the other scribes could see the work they had gone through that day and sympathized. After a brief lunch the real work began, the drawing and the word etching to craft the masterpiece Her Majesty had requested. Pausing mid-afternoon for a break, the other scribes all brought out their barter items to trade. Morie's haul of chimera hair was a big hit, easily traded for Elvish quicksilver and giant hair the others had brought with them. Trading supplies was always a happy experience, especially when the rarer inks are brought out.

Come the court that evening, the scroll was awarded with great fanfare and welcomed tears from the recipient. Morie and Milesenda relaxed back in their chairs, hands tired and sore from the frantic writing and drawing that had been done all day. Leaning over to kiss her and take her hand, Christoff smiles at his sweetheart. "That's an amazing piece of work love, do you think you could whip something up like that for me tomorrow? See it is a friends Peerage anniversary and..."

His words trail off and he falls silent at the glares threatening bodily harm from both Morie and Milesenda.

" know, I could not ask that of you.." he grinned sheepishly.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Some Thoughts on Peers, Associates, & Their Relationships - A Response

So my friend Illene, Baroness of Darkwater and a pretty nifty lady, posted this article today in her long forgotten blog (on a side note, hopefully this means she'll start blogging more!). It's a long one, primarily dealing with SCA shtuff but a good read if you have the time to scan through it. I was originally going to discuss my N1Z project today (for more info head to ), but I felt like responding to her blogpost and answerin the question poised by her.

Here's a question for those of you brave enough to read to the end - what do you think makes a good peer, and/or a good peer-associate relationship?

Seeing as I am an apprentice to a Laurel here in the SCA, I felt inspired and almost required to find an answer for this question. I mean, before I took the belt from Mistress Madhavi I sat down and spent time figuring out what I wanted from our peer-associate relationship and what I wanted out of a peer. Hell, it was a question she required me to answer before taking me on as a student! But more often than not, this question is one that's never really asked or visible  to others outside of the peer or associate. I guess it can be seen as a private thing, but for me I find it a fascinating share and a great discussion topic.

As to what I think makes a good peer...they are a well-grounded person who has a passion for their focus and a desire to hare their knowledge. A good peer is someone who doesn't rest on their laurels, but someone who continues to learn and grow to be the best peer they can be for the kingdom. It is someone who understand that they have just as much to learn from teaching an associate, as their associate has to learn from them. Someone who understands that breaks need to happen and in the end its just a hobby, abet a fun one. Someone who will be like family towards their associates, because in a way they kinda are becoming as close as.

Side tangent, I'm personally not into the calling your peer Mom or Dad thing. Not that I think there's anything wrong with it, I just know I have enough mommy/daddy issues that I wouldn't want to put unrealistic expectations upon my Laurel for their behavior issues :p. Madhavi, at my belting, called me her little brother and I am happy enough with that.

As for a good peer-associate relationship...its whatever works for the peer and associate. There is no correct answer, because each relationship is going to be different to better serve the needs of the individuals involved. What I need from my Laurel (and what she needs form me in return) will be vastly different from what my friend Jake needs or my friend Lana needs. The best relationship is one what is fulfilling on both sides, both peer and associate are getting what they need emotionally/mentally/spiritually from the relationship and everyone's happy. If those aren't being met, then it's clearly not going o great now is it :p.

As an example, I like to tease and rib at my friend Jake for how he went about getting his yellow belt from Illene. For him, it was a formal process. There was a student contract, a big gathering of the Pelicans house, formal declarations and swag. For the belting it was done in front of a court with more fancy words and formalities. That's what works best from him and his peer, so that is correct. However, that's not what would have worked for me and Madhavi and it's something we both snicker about on occasion. I asked her on the way to a party at Gulf Wars to be her student, we later sat the next day watching her daughter fight and discussed it and what we both wanted/what it meant. We shook on it beneath that tree, and moved on with the process of getting to know each other. She asked me to take her belt while we both sat in the Ocala kitchen eating food, and later I was belted in a small private gathering of close friends and mentors. No formal words, no declarations or signs, just simple honesty and emotions and signs of mutual trust and respect. And that worked for us, that was the right thing for us.

So, for those who are reading this I highly suggest you hit Illne's blog and read it. Then answer the question poised, because I wanna snoop in and read your answers as well to learn and grow more ;).

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Maybe its just me...

...or maybe I'm just too picky.

I've started all the planning for my Fall Coronation feast, and it once again brings me to wondering if I'm too "demanding" or too "picky" for my own good. I tend to have very specific visions and goals and ideals for things that I do, and too many times I feel like I'm the odd man out for having them :/

Now one thing I know I am is incredibly CDO (it's like OCD but the letters are in alphabetical order, as they should be) about much of my life, and many of my friends can agree wholeheartedly that I like to over-plan  But I guess...I dunno. I don't think it unreasonable to begin planning as soon as possible, and to plan with all the information available. With the Fall Coronation feast, I was told the theme of the event was to be decided upon the culture/time period of the Crown Tourny winner at TMT. And I'm sorry, but 4 months is NOT enough time to plan a Kingdom level feast even if its something simple like English food. So when I set out to put down my menu for the bid, I did it with full mind that I would not be changing the menu much by prep time.

So I know that I'm doing a 14th century feast, French in design with dishes coming from Le Menagier de Paris. Some of my dishes may change during my prep work in the coming months, but going forward I know that I want feast hall attire and entertainment to be stylized after the 14th century French feast halls. That means doing a lot of research into great halls and feast hall designs for my event, researching how food was served and in what order, how music was presented and entertainment was provided ..then me slowly going mad when I am forced to rely upon others.

I know it's only been a few days, but I still don't know from my autocrat how many people I am serving. Without that number, it makes it hard to start dish prep and testing. I'm going with a number at 125, more than that and I'm unsure I could have people comfortably move through the hall to provide nourishment. I'm already moving on art and design for the hall, I've got a bunch of links and info to send to my friend Lana who is really good at translating my explosions of creation into a thing that will actually work. My friend Ever is already on board as my Hall steward, as soon as I can formalize the ideas I have for serving and presentation I'm hoping he'll really enjoy them. I have 3 wandering Minstrels, roving and personal entertainment for each table so the whole hall doesn't have to have its conversation disturbed by entertainment. 

All in all makes me I too picky? Like, I admit I am VERY demanding and focused on what  want to see in a hall, or what/how I want things served, or what I want performed and when. I know I'm very hands on and very micro-managing, and I guess I just worry that my style will turn people away/is the wrong way to do things. 

Ah well, back to my research! As an aside, here is an example of 14th century Great Hall, a scaled recreation of the great hall in Yorkshire. While English in location, at the time there would have been a strong French influence in the upper nobilities designs and french tapestries would have been hung on the halls:

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fall Coronation 2013: Feast Prep

So, it turns out that the bid was awarded and Darkwater will be hosting the 2013 Fall Coronation. I am terribly excited, and terrified all at once.

Why terrified? Because I will be doing one of the Feasts for that weekend, one of our busiest events for the year.

This is a big opportunity for me to really flex my muscles, to learn and grow, to really shine and show the populous a fantastic time. I want to do a French feast, its popular food and allows room for a lot of creativity, and I want the feast hall to look good. I'm in the process of redacting all of my recipes, I have redacted versions available to me should I want them but I want to really own this and wanna redact them myself.

Not a lot to say at the moment, besides how honored and excited I am. And nervous, did I mention the nerves? I'm sure this blog will host a lot of my musings on the topic and other things in the coming months ;)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

War Journal of Christoff Koch

So, last year I did this for a couple days of War and this year I ended up doing it for all but the last day. Basically I blogged about each day of War from the perspective of my persona. I'm reposting them all here, to save for posterity and my own happy memories. Long post ahead, I hope you enjoy the read!

* * * *
Part 1 - 

The journey to the great Gulf War has begun, and as I was this time last year I am a flurry of emotion.

I finished my work in the kitchens in a prompt manner, the head cook was impressed with my diligence but gave a knowing laugh as he knew I was excited to be on my way. The remaining supplies are being packed into the wagon as I write, and within the hour the horses will be spurned onward to begin the long trek to our destination. It was with a heavy heart that I must leave my brothers and sisters behind once more, but the Cantons must be protected in the Armies absence and I know they will perform admirably.

Adriano has left ahead of us, once again managing to wriggle his way into a situation he was unexpecting. The sly weasel has found himself ensnared by the beauty of our fair Princess, pledged his loyalty to her name and has become head of her personal guard (all with the permission of his Lady of course). He is off near the vanguard of Caesars army, marching with the royal heirs and no doubt getting himself into a trouble that will require me to extract him from.

While my heart is heavy at leaving some behind, I am overjoyed to be spending the time with my Lady. She has been unable to attend to me on such journeys before, last year she even spent much of her own gold to send me on my way, and we have both been looking forward to spending a great deal of time together this year. I am eager to show her the Shrine, the Fort and of course the tavern. I think she is more interested in meeting all the scribes and spending her hours locked away in the libraries.

While I cannot fight in this years army, I am glad for what spent my coffers and filled my time instead. Mistress Madhavi has been a patient and kind teacher, and though a language barrier can still exist making it difficult to communicate at times we have grown closer over this past year. She has taught me much, and showed me where to learn much more, and has promised to introduce me to HER teacher as well as her fellow apprentice sisters who will be in attendance. Intimidated, I am just a little.

The wagons are packed, the sun has begun to set and the great drive towards War has begun. I pray that St. Martin keep watch over me as we travel, and that our trip be a safe and prosperous one.

- Christoff

Part 2 - 

The first day of War has unofficially begun, and already a flurry of activity has overtaken the Kingdom and the various parties who have traveled to partake in the combat and festivities!

We were able to drive through the night, pausing only to change horses as ours grew exhausted. A small tavern served as the supper, I believe it was called Hamburg's King, and while not the best quality of meat it filled the belly and warmed the body. We were able to arrive at the rear of the slumbering army near the witching hour, we slept a nervous and fitful sleep and before we knew it the sun had risen and the call to war was sounded.

What a sight, the crowds gathered to support their causes! The army of Trimaris proved fearsome in might and sound even at the wee hours of the morn, but perhaps that was simply the sound of their stomachs as I and my fellow cooks rushed to sate their hungers. Old friends were reunited and new friendships have already begun to form, it is nice to compare notes and meet friendly faces from all over the Known World.

As my Lady has chided me, I have already found work. Though not a fighter yet, I feel it my duty to aid King and Kingdom in any way I can so the task of supporting the armies is one I can take to with a zeal. Assisting Corwyn with his fighters encampment was a pleasure, getting to meet his fellow brothers in arms is always a delight. Several Baronies required assistance with different measures, even the Royal Household required my aid and I did not disappoint. My friends and brother have already chided me on my "quests", but I pay them no mind.

I have made my big purchase for War, a new basket, and am currently sitting in camp awaiting supper to be served. My Laurel has chided me for spending time writing instead of being social, it is wonderful to see her in such good spirits and she has already begun to fill me with beers and go at length to their crafting and purpose. I will set my quill down for this evening, and write again in the morrow.

Part 3 - 

A long day to report in, but in the end a happy tiding for all.

The storm blew through the night, one that raged and battered every tent in the encampment. The rain poured in sheets across the whole of us, the canvas concaved and expanded with each gust of wind. It seems that twelve hours of constant pounding storms would prove more powerful than even the tightest water seal, come the morning much of my ladies and I's bedding was soaked. Thankfully the garb and other needed supplies were dry, but this did not cause my lady any less panic or concern.

I do adore my lady and worship the ground she glides above, but when it comes to camping she is quite the storm of trouble herself. She is better suited for the perfumed halls and a quiet scribes library, not the loud and heavy war encampments that we find ourselves surrounded by. The ropes have been a challenge enough, but the storm proved too much for her. She was frightened by the high winds and pouring rains, come the morning she was a wreck with the wet bedding.
To make piece with her, we hitched the horses and went deep into the Burg of Hattie's to acquire clean and dry bedding. We met with my Laurel and her husband at a small bakery, sipping warm drinks we discussed much, and returned to the War encampment soon after. Sadly most of the day was spent in recovery for not just us but many similar camps, even the merchants themselves were busy cleaning broken pottery. It seemed that a great cheer was needed, and the Green Dragon was just such the place.

Ahh, the Green Dragon. There is no where on earth such a place like this. The stone floors echo with the sounds of battles fought, and the tables stained with the drink of friendship and boast. Tonight Mistress Miriam Heather o' the Dale chose to perform for the War effort, her own Kingdom making her comfortable in the cold and wet environment. The tavern was filled to bursting, many chose to simple sit outside and catch the snippets of sound when then could no longer stand inside.

As the evening drew to a close, my lady and I returned to camp to enjoy the company of friends around a fire. A wonderful discussion was started by my Laurel and a true wise woman simply known as Wolfmom; from religion to Kingdom history, no subject was left untouched. I write these words now in the glow of the dieing embers, absorbing the lessons and getting to better know my fellow kinsman. Many drinks have been shared, lessons learned and stories told. I hope my family back home does well, I hope to sleep before the dawn because tomorrow is the big day. Tomorrow, battle will begin.

Part 4 - 

Ahh, the day has finally arrived! The field of battle has been prepared, the armies mustered and the eager merchants looking to capitalize on the whole affair have flocked from all the known world. It is a good day to be a Trimarian!

Thankfully this morning started far
simpler for my lady and I, no flooding of water or blustering wind to contend with. The heavy chill of winter settled after the storm, I'll admit I was displeased with the light covering of ice on much of the encampment gear. A slow start, and I found myself traveling down to join my Emperor and Empress for the Grand Processional. I escorted Honorable Lady Ever to join me, we would march in the great parade while my Lady Mora would spend the day toiling with inks and learning new jewel crafting skills.

Of course things are never so simple for me and upon arriving I was greeted by a nervous Baroness, my own in fact, who explained to me the great banners of the Emperor and Empress were missing! Cursing the tricks of Calontir, such a deed as hiding the banners is not unusual for the bard kingdom, Ever and I sprinted frantically towards the royal encampments to see what we could do. Aiding their Imperial Majesties majordomo, we located the banners and hung them from a war-torn spear. Sprinting back across the length and breath of the camp, we arrived to find that we had been promoted to head of the processional!

Such a thing is not uncommon to me, but the surprising turn of events had Ever a touch confused. We quickly applied our war faces and marched with dignity and poise behind the Prince and Princess, leading the assembled to the great fortress within the center of the battlefield. The walk was several miles, through the town and across the field, but it warmed the heart to hear the triumphant cries of Vivat from Trimaris and her allies at the sight of us.

The fortress was imposing, its stone walls and wooden ramparts loomed over the assembled crowd. The gravity of the situation had settled on the crowd, and as the heralds began their calls you could hear the hearts pound from the populous. Excitement was electrical, spreading like a strike in a dry field, and the crowds leaned in and awaited the great doors to open to reveal the royalty. Each Kingdom sent forth their best bards, proclaiming the virtues of their houses, to the applause of the assembled.

I'd say my favorites were the great Kingdom of the East ("she who summons the sun with her smile, to warmth and wrath") and our rivals the great Kingdom of Ansteorra ("The great calendar of the ancient mayans ended to signal the rise of the black star across the known world"). Such elegance and poise from them all!

At last the time for alliance declarations had arrived. Both Trimaris and Ansteorra stood at opposite ends, and each royal house spoke and chose whom to ally with then stood with them to declare their loyalty. Both the Middle and the East made interesting choices, the Midlands chose to split their army in half to support both sides while the East had their armed fighters support Trimaris and their rapier/archers support Ansteorra. My Laurel whispered from behind her veil that there are rumors of aggression between the East and the Middle Kingdom, talk of an upcoming war, and both are striving to seek support from all the kingdoms by displaying their prowess for all to see.

After the announcements of the allies, the armies began to muster and prepare for war. The nearby town was a central point of contention, the easiest access to the Fortress for the Trimarian forces lay in liberating this town from Ansteorran rule. The townfolk fled, happily willing to watch the fight from the safety of the nearby hills, and the Trimarians filled the town. It seems the Ansteorrans had tried to fool our forces, thinking to trick us into lowering our guard, but our brave generals would not allow us to relax. As the Ansteorran tide surged in, the Trimarians held fast and kept them at bay. We are a people used to hurricane winds, the hot air of an opposing enemies feint would not cause us to bend. Our Empress left shortly before the battle began, she had some secret mission to undertake with the archers and I pray St. Christopher keep her in his hands.

While we secured victory over the town, it seems the rapier fighters felt it necessary to pause for a drink in the local tavern. I choose to blame Adriano for this, he was on Princess guard duty, and it seems a few choice words about our Trimarian heirs statue had swords drawn in anger to defend her honor. I am not sure if anyone technically won the sheer number of duels that began...nor am I certain they cared. I do know that they all stumbled out drink on battle and expensive wine, and half chased their Ansteorran counterparts out of town. I hope Adriano has not overstepped his bounds, there is whisper of a plot against the Princess as well as a rival to her heart.

The tavern calls for me, and there are bardic circles to join. I rest my pen for the night, secure in knowing our Trimarian forces are protected by God and our works are seen as good. Hopefully God will see the drinking adventures I have planned for myself as good as well.

Part 5 - 

If I were to attach a label to this day, it would have to be the revenge of Ansteorra. Mistress Madhavi and I hitched up the wagon and traveled into the Burg of Hatti's to pick up supplies for camp as well as the Queens Tea the following day, but the war continued to rage without us. I heard word of what happened from Adriano, and after sorting out the bardic fluff added for retelling I was able to piece together much of the battles.

While the main Trimarian force kept nipping at the flank of the Ansteorrans, the Empress herself personally led the archers of the army into the ravine just before the fortress. A garrison of Ansteorran archers were kept there in supply, a legion used to reinforce the fortress should it come to siege, and thinning their ranks and routing them was required for success. The Trimarian archers fought bravely in defense of their Empress, but they lacked the bloodthirsty and single-minded focus the Ansteorrn forces had in their eyes. The moment that Empress Brenna took an arrow to her shoulder the Trimarians rallied. Led by Captain Corwyn, the army rallied to their Empress and encircled her protectively. Withdrawing from the ravine, they chose the life of their queen over victory. While we lost the battle, the Ansteorran forces were cut down by half and severely weakened.

Out on the field, the Princess had chosen to lead the witty rapier fighters to chasing the Ansteorran forces. I chided Andriano on being cocky, the Trimarians had so routed the Ansteorrans that they felt chasing them out of not just the tavern but onto the open field may have been a good idea. It seems the Ansteorrans had a bit more sobriety to them, and turned and pounced on the fencers as they ran jovially onto the field of combat. I admire the rapier folk though, they laugh and delight at the thought of combat and eagerly toss themselves into the fray. It seems the Ansteorrans were not willing to "play", they struck back with a vengeance that quickly lead to the Trimairans surrounded. If not for the quick thinking of her Highness and the Don's of the Kingdom we would have lost an heir, she personally challenged the Ansteorran Princess to a duel. The Don's of both kingdoms ringed the battle while the whirling dervish blades struck at each other, the distraction allowing the remaining men to slink off down into the ravine for safety (where they met with the forces of the Empress in a strange twist). Sadly the Princess was struck in the side, first blood was drawn and the Ansteorrans won the duel. So impressed with her courage, the Ansteorran Princess allowed them to leave the battle lives in tact and then sent her forces after the Trimarian's licking their wounds at the edge of the ravine.

It is here that I once again am witness. I had the misfortune of being the one to report to Caesar the losses both, as well as the wounding of his Empress and heir. Great was his fury and great was his stature as he rose from his desk and swore to make the Ansteorrans pay for the insult. Gathering the Prince and a team of guards, he rode hard and fast to join his troops. He grabbed a rapier blade and swore the Ansteorran's would not leave this field of battle alive, rallied his men and allies and personally led the charge into the Ansteorran forces.

The fighting was brutal and intense, neither side giving much ground, but the Trimarians had one thought on their mind: victory. Caesar himself never stopped running, back and forth he ran through the lines giving commands and words of encouragement. It was not until the Prince himself wounded the Ansteorran Princess, a blow struck for his fair lady, that they realized they had roused the 3-headed dragon into the fury of the hurricane. They retreated slowly at first, then faster and faster till the Trimarians were the only ones standing alive.

The battle had finally been won, the rapier forces and the archers of Ansteorra were wiped clean or too wounded, but there was still more battles to be fought and won. So caught up in the fever of excitement, in the war camps all the merchants kept their stalls open till after the midnight hour and sold at extremely well rates. Much gold and spoils were spent, and my fellow craftsman who did not fight found wonderful treasures.

I admit that I may have been a bit overzealous in my own pride, and followed too well the command of my Laurel. She instructed me and a few others to, ahem, "acquire" linens to use for a grand breakfast tomorrow. She had not packed enough, and many dinner parties were going on that night so they wouldn't miss a few dining linens to use to clean hands and lips. While my companions got a few each, I may have "acquired" the whole lot from Meredies. A good laugh was shared by all.

The victory party calls to me, I can hear the drums pounding as my fellow Trimarians celebrate the victory this day. I think I shall enjoy a glass with my brothers and sisters.

Part 6 - 

Another exciting day in camp, but this comes from not the fighters on the field but from us artisans and other camp followers. It seems rumor has spread that the Ansteorran forces feel their camp followers craft better than us, and we shall not allow the gauntlet to remain untouched!

Countess Dulcia, Wolfmom the Wise and Mistress Madhavi spearheaded the "attack", Countess Dulcia gathered the best artisans she could muster and put them to task at sewing or cooking or crafting their masterworks to display. Mistress Madhavi and Wolfmom the Wise worked on feeding the artisans, while I was a good ways away preparing my own plan of attack. Though not yet prepared to enter a war of art, I was tasked by Empress Brenna with hosting the Queens Tea. This is a special meal for only those of the Royal blood from around the known world, and I was entrusted with the honor.

Of course I had to make thingd complicated on myself, this being a royal command from Empress Brenna meant I was serving roman food! I studied the cooking roll of Apicius and translated several recipes from the original Latin, and those were the dishes we dined upon. Countess Sybilla gave me a terrific compliment, and a Laurel from Meredies (unaware of my linen theft thankfully) said the dishes were to the caliber she herself would craft. The food was well consumed, I like to feel my meals inspired the champions battling before us to suceed as Trimaris won the champions tourney.

The artisan gauntlet was thrown and Trimaris gleefully picked it up, smacked Ansteorra with it then gilded it in platinum. Even those of the collected kingdoms of the known world could not deny our artisans superiority, and we were declared the artisan champions. There was a great cheering from within the camp, one the carried over encampments for miles around. Sadly this good Wa did not transfer to our military battle for the day. We lost the field battle, but this was an expected and planned for loss owing to our disadvantages.

We Trimarians are not used to wide open fields of combat, ours is a land of small spaces and narrow passages. These large field battles put us at a distinct disadvantage, terrain we're not able to train for and fighting the mounted cavalry of Calontir. We held our own well, but knowing we had minimal chance at victory allowed us to strategically retreat back to the bridge. We may have lost the field, but Ansteorra has gotten cocky and are not prepared for what awaits them in the next battle.

Caesar and Empress Brenna hosted a royal court later that evening, not only to rally the people but to announce awards of state and recognition for those they felt worthy. It was a beautiful court that ended in a wedding between the Prince and Princess (officially solidifying their claim to the Imperial throne). Countess Dulcia was inducted as a Lancer of Trimaris for her duty in serving as "general" of the artisans on short notice, and Honorable Lady Thallassia was given the Crowns Order of Gratitude for her works during the War to date. I was honored by being inducted into the Order of the Emerald Seas for my work with the Queens Tea, and my brother Adriano finally had his award of arms verified and is seen as a Lord in the Kingdom of Trimaris and beyond.

After court I traveled to the viking encampment, to join my Laurel in the mead hall and share drinks and stories with her friends. I met an old friend of hers, a Norseman who's name roughly translated into English was Mad Dog, and we shared several pints of his homebrew and told stories of wars past and hopes for the future.

The fire burns low here in the meadhall and another bard has begun to sing. I feel I shall end my journal entries here, and hope my letters reach you safely and with due haste. The mead calls to me, and I feel honor bound to drink enough for those at home.

Part 7 - 

I pen this entry while assisting a member of the Princes guard in keeping the Prince "dignified", he has enjoyed greatly the spoils of victory this day and has fallen far into his cup. And he should, today has been a glorious day of combat and victories for many.

The day before the Ansteorrans had pushed the Trimarian forces back to the bridged then camped for the night, thinking they had trapped us and cut us off from the remainder of the encampment and thus our supplies. What they seemed unaware of was this was our ideal environment, a small enclosed space where the superior Ansteorran numbers did nothing and our generals could display their tactical brilliance. In the morning light the Ansteorran forces began to march on the bridge, and the Trimarians grinned and awaited the black star slaughter to come.

The night before, Jarl Ari and General Takamatsu came up with a brilliant tactic to crush the Ansteorran forces. Armed and ready, the Trimarians braced themselves for the tidal wave of enemy forces. As combat was engaged, the front shield men crouched low and kicked their shields out. The angled point forced the enemy shields forward, exposing the upper bodies of the surprised foes. Though this angle did not allow our own front line to strike, it opened up for the sneak attack. Behind the front line, the second line grabbed and swung hard the claymores they had hidden low, slaughtering the whole front line of Ansteorrans. As the claymores came down, the third wave thrust their speartips forward, balanced on the edge of the front lines shields, and took out the second line seconds later. The Trimarians moved forward over the Ansteorran dead as the claymore's swung again. Within less than a minute the front three ranks of the Ansteorrans lay dead, not a Trimarian was lost, and the enemy suddenly became afraid of the trap they found themselves in.

The second surge onto the bridge ended just as disastrously, as did the third. Captain Corwyn had devised a type of throwing mace, the few remaining archers of Ansteorra had no idea what it them when a large metal mace was suddenly thrown at them with deadly accuracy. The archers of Trimaris had their revenge, led by the Empress they rained death from the walls of the bridge upon the back lines whom thought themselves safe. Five times the Ansteorrans tried to take the bridge, and five times they failed.

At this point the Ansteorran forces tried to go beneath, into the ravine in hopes that the uneven terrain would aid them. They were mistaken, for the three-headed dragon chased with a reckless abandon after the enemy and fought with a ferocity not seen since the days of King Tyrbrander. The battle was fierce and hard fought, the Ansteorrans realized their mistake and their trapped state at the bottom of the ravine and fought like men facing certain death. It seemed to last for hours, but the Ansteorrans finally extracted themselves and fled to the fortress for safety. We had triumphed that day, and it was proper cause to celebrate.

My own lady triumphed that day as well, a labor of herculean proportion was set before her and she succeeded amazingly. Caesar, the morning before the battle, set her to task to finish writing the war book referred simply as The Codex. This would be a record of his words, of the words of the men fighting and the names of all who fought on behalf of Caesar. This was a great honor, any scribe should feel blessed to partake in its work, but this monumental task was given to her with only a single day to complete. She worked through the day, bent over her desk and writing at a feverish pace, but before Orion had crossed the sky in his eternal hunt she had completed the task.

I must pause my writing here, the Prince has decided he needs more liquid in his cup and we must send him to bed lest he be unable to fight in the morning.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Queens Tea Post-Foodum: Success!

I know I know, War has been over for like...2 weeks. I've been a busy beaver with work, which I'm sure will be its own separate update soon, but finally I have a day of rest filled with nothing but time and here I am writing my post-foodum on the Queens Tea. This was my 5th SCA cooking project, in my opinion a real step up from everything else I've done. A year ago in February I did my first meal, cooking a lunch for a revel in  the Canton of Swampkeype, and a year later I am cooking for the current and formal royalty of the Knowne World! It was a great experience, full of good friends and great time, and a wonderful learning exercise for me in my development!

Things that went well:

. Pre-planning - Once again I am impressed dramatically at how pre-planning and prep work in advance can really help bring a day together. I had all of my recipe's on my laptop which I brought up, I was able to reference them on hand without having to worry about paper being lost or damaged outdoors. Having my test cooks done in advance meant I knew roughly how long each dish would take to cook and prep, which meant I could organize my time efficiently.

. Bringing extra - One thing I learned from Chalice is that it is better to over prepare when it comes to equipment. I had extra knives, extra trash bags, cleaning equipment and other such on hand. Last time I brought just as much as I needed, instead of planning for extra, and I came to regret that as the day went on. As I had extra of many items, as my needs increased for the day I was able to meet them fairly well. Having my back-ups was a super idea, regardless of how much extra space it took up in my car :p

. Note taking - As silly as it sounds, this blog and my obsessive note taking has been such a huge help I can't even begin to describe. Every mistake or success I've made in the pat year I've documented here or there, every lesson learned I've transcribed somewhere between these two sources for my own reference material. Having these around has been a major boon, I can reference all my past experiences to solve problems and plan ahead. I'll admit most of my day-to-day experiences are in my notebook, it's just easier to carry around then my laptop, and I'm hoping that I'll have time soon to transcribe what I've been doing in that onto the blog.

. Networking - Not a common positive I'll grant it, but it was a huge boon to me all of the friends I've made and people who have sought me out to be friendly with. I've met so many wonderful and amazing people, people who have taught me so much not just about cooking and the SCA but about myself and who I could be as a person. These are some great people who have aided me in my endeavors, and with whom-out I would be in some desperate straights. Having all this talent, these intelligent minds and these capable hands willing to assist at the drop of a hat is such an important part of my success I cannot begin to state it enough. I have a dream and idea, and these great folks make it happen.

Things that didn't go so well - 

I don't wanna say these things are a failure, because the food was great and everyone loved it. All these thing are things can be improved on, things I could have done better or things that I know not to do next time :p.

. Outside cooking concerns - Ahh, nature. I adore it so, yet she can be a fickle mistress when it comes to relying on it for any cooking endeavors. The high winds robbed my coals of their heat faster than my test cooking experiments had done, and even though I had purchased a little extra charcoal to cook with it just wasn't enough and we had to use Madhavi's portable propane cooker to finish the chicken. The high winds also made prep difficult, I had a habit of losing plates and napkin to the breeze. The cloudless sky out of the blue also made the harsh sunlight break down on my assistants, Madhavi and I both agreed that next year to invest in a pop-up for comfort.

. Reliance on "time" - This is my biggest sticking point, because it's how I've been all my life. Things operate on time, they happen at the time decided upon and if things change you're notified in advance. I do my best to be flexible and ready to roll with any punches, and I am generally really awesome at that, but I still can't help my nerves or the jarring sensation I feel when things suddenly change on me out of nowhere. The 5 minutes till start time change of location had me in a tizzy, but I just have to learn to recover and bounce from these changes better without letting it panic me that everything is ruined.

. Scheduling myself - I am a person who likes to stay busy, even my free time I tend to occupy with mental tasks like rearranging rooms or organizing books, and I can have a bad habit of over-scheduling myself. When I take on too many tasks, I know things start to suffer and I lose sight and focus. My work life was evolving faster and more complex by the day then I could imagine, never did I suspect 3 promotions in 3 months, and that took away much of my focus. On top of planning this I was organizing a LARP weekend, working every day of the week, focusing on spending as much time with my girlfriend as possible, dealing with family headaches, working on learning retainer duties for my newest Excellencies and learning the ropes of a Canton A/S job. It was too much at one time, and I did it to myself by giving myself too much stress.

All in all, I had a great time and learned a lot about cooking and about myself. I got compliments from the people I fed and from those who got to work with me, they understood how nervous I was to be a supervisor and not a direct cook! I had a blast working with so many talented and gracious folks, and cannot wait for my next cooking adventures!