Monday, September 5, 2016

Story time reflections

Once upon a time, there were six young children lost in the woods. They had grown up together in a small town at the edge of the woods, but that town was a place of filth and refuse that never truly came clean. Agreeing that they had to strike out on their own to start a new life away from that town, they packed their bags and meager belongings with a few sandwiches. Slipping away with the smallest of goodbyes, they hit the road out of town and walked deep into the woods to cross and find a better life.

As they traveled, the children shared their hopes and dreams for the future and what life they wanted now free of their old town.

"I want to find a place that will let me become a warrior of renown, someone that people will sing my tales for years to come." Thus spoke the first child, and the leaves shook and heard his call.

"I want to live life as one party, traveling from one camp to the next and meeting all the new friends I can." Thus spoke the second child, and the squirrels chit tweed and heard his call.

"I want to be an artist, to bring to life the images I see in my mind, and work for what I want without being beholden to others." Thus spoke the third child, and the bubbling spring flowed fast and heard her call.

"I want to fight the good fight, to work hard for my gain and end the day with a new meal every night. I want purpose." Thus spoke the fourth child, and the wind picked up and heard his call.

"I want a place to call home, to make my way free and have a family." Thus spoke the fifth child, and the birds took to the air and heard her call.

"I want to create something lasting, to help support a great work or some building to have that satisfaction." Thus spoke the sixth child, and the flowers slowly opened in the sunlight and heard his call.

After a time, the children crossed the wood and entered a new kingdom. There they met wonderful people, new friends who took them into their homes and let them sleep a spell in exchange for a few chores around town. There they met the new King and Queen, freshly crowned and ready to make new friends as well. The children decided that this was a place they could call home, and began to settle. They met new friends, new faces, and the influence these good folk had on them helped shaped their growth. As they started their lives, those dreams they shared in the wood began to come true in ways they never could have imagined.

The first child picked up the blade, and though skilled as he was it was his way with the pen that quickly won him renown. His tongue and quill became sharper than any blade he could wield, and there were stories told of his prowess in battle true...but these tales of valor and honor came from his wordsmith skill and the lightness of soul it takes to master speechcraft. Thus, when that first King and Queen came back round to rule the land again the child found his dream had come true. 

The second child did indeed spend his time traveling from camp to camp, traveling to meet new friends and celebrate life. As he traveled, he learned new tales and shared them as he went. He found a love for the bardic arts, studying multiple musical arts and sharing his joy of life to every tent and cabin he found himself. Thus, when that first King and Queen came back round to rule the land again the child found his dream had come true. 

The third child quickly became an artist of renown, earning the respect of the various guilds and rank within. She found joy in creating art for the sake of art, but her heart truly soared when she did art for the sake of another. She dedicated herself to art for the sake of others, raising others up. In the joy of others she found life, and bent to task. Thus, when that first King and Queen came back round to rule the land again the child found her dream had come true. 

The fourth child did find his fight, and his skills with the blade became well known. But his skill became known not for combat, but the kitchen. He worked hard, he ate well and he learned to value his work for others. Dedicating himself to art and work for others, he found purpose. Thus, when that first King and Queen came back round to rule the land again the child found his dream had come true. 

The fifth child found the family she sought, a good man to wed and a doting child to have at her knee. Her family would not simply be them, she would soon discover a whole family who flirting about as the butterfly to take her under their wings. She found a home working the sewing rooms and scribal halls, and was happy. Thus, when that first King and Queen came back round to rule the land again the child found her dream had come true. 

The sixth child found great success with his ability to see what needed to be built, and to create works that others needed. He rebuilt and redesigned a whole tavern and town postal service, he inovated a new method to share festivals held throughout the land and found happiness. All this was good, but still his soul did not know satisfaction. It wasn't until he had wed and held the son he helped bring into the world that he truly knew joy, and the greatest thing he would leave behind as a legacy. Thus, when that first King and Queen came back round to rule the land again the child found his dream had come true. 

In the end, all the children found that their dreams had come true in one fashion or another, and all rested well and in happiness. They toasted the King and Queen, the first ever they remembered having, vowed to continue to support the magical kingdom they had found which made dreams come true.

And they lived happily ever after.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sunday Topic: Religion and Spirituality

Religion -

1) the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.
2) a particular system of faith and worship

Spiritual -
1) of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.
2) of or relating to religion or religious belief

See? There is a difference!

I've always seen a difference between the two, and understood my need for them in separate manners. Religion is the structure in which I express my spirituality through the lens of culture/time/current ethics or morals. Spirituality is the core truth, the message and the importance it has on me. Spirituality is the code/the message, Religion is the way the message is presented and the ritual I use to express it.

Religion shifts and changes with the culture and time that uses it. Christianity today is vastly different than Christianity 100 years ago, or even just 50 years ago. The message/truth/code/guidelines/expression of reality that Christianity proclaims hasn't changed; what has changed is how we interpret it and how we express it. Christianity in America is different than Christianity in Germany, same day but different culture. At the heart, both cultures draw upon the same information and resources but due to the lens of society interprets it vastly different.

Spirituality however, that is something I feel a bit more fundamental. It is the thing we understand in our hearts as right, it is the moral/ethical code we follow to be a better person. It is those beliefs we have that defy explanation or assumption, it is the way of living that feels right. These are fundamental cores of our nature, the things that are "real" to each of us. These have to be expressed, they defy our understanding in an animistic way, and thus we create filters to understand them. These filters are built out of our cultural heritage and thus the message will change...into Religion.

Can you have pure spirituality and no religion? I think some people do, but they are rare. Isolated monks, spiritual guru's hidden in the wilds, these are people who have no tie to culture or the times and express their spirituality through an unfiltered/less tainted lens. But for the rest of us, our spiritual needs become expressed through the religion we choose to follow. I think it's a good thing to understand that.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Artist Life

Artist Life is...

. Being unable to eat, sleep or even control your breathing due to the INTENSITY that you feel you must create art.

. Being nervous about spending $0.99 on an app that will provide a few hours of entertainment, but you cannot pull out your credit card fast enough for a multi-book binding of three 14th Century cooking manuscripts for $100.00.

. Having to pause moments of your day to jot down notes or ideas, as brief bouts of inspiration hit due to random circumstance.

. Meeting a fellow artist, and spending hours just enjoying the shop talk and sharing of knowledge with a new friend. But when someone asks you later who you were talking to...not remembering their name because you realize you forgot to ask it,

. Hating the things that people praise the most, because you feel the praise is unjustified.

. A whole host of superstitions from years of work that infect your every move when creating art. Examples being specific chairs you must sit in to write, temperature/humidity to compose music to, just the right amount of clothing in the right spots to feel inspired to write.

. Seeing the world in a completely alien way than most of the population...and the learning to cope with that separation. 

. Flying into a rage because you could not properly explain to your loved ones the vision you have, the artistic mindset you wish to impart.

. Weeping at the chance to spend weeks of your life slaving away on a project that will perhaps only be experienced by people once, to be put on display for a majority who will never know the pints of blood poured into the task. 

For me, the biggest thing is seeing the world differently. And it's not so much a physical change in what I see...I see the boats on the water just like everyone else. It's just so much more than that.

I see the boats on the water, water stained gold and red with the light of a dying day. The water surges up the side of each ship, bleeding the promise and dreams of deeds done that day before becoming swallowed by the black night and the promise of death. Each ship drifts along, sailing despite the dying day, continuing its journey despite setbacks because it is confidant that with death must follow a new life and a new day. Some boats are pure of heart, some shadowed in an inner darkness reflected out, some striving for that purely human element of the middle which we must all arrive in. Some sails are unfurled to learn what it can of the knowledge of wind, some lowered to trust their own steering of the rudder. Always sailing, forever along the ocean of life and death. 

This is Artist Life.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Recipe: Miso Soup

This recipe posted here is the one i used to make my miso soup served in my Fall Coronation 2015 feast. It got many rave reviews and asks about a recipe, so I figured as I am working on more regular blogging I will share it here! The recipe is broken down to serve 5-10 people.

Miso soup


3 quarts water - I use standard tap water here, nothing fancy
1 quart of fish stock - This one is a bit tricky, and will depend on how crazy you wanna go. For the stock, I made it from lightly boiling tuna. You can of course buy fish stock in Asian grocery stores (or the odd Publix wth a large international selection), but I made it fresh.
1/4 cup dashi granules - Can be purchased in any Asian grocery store
1/4 cup miso paste - Can be purchased in any Asian grocery store, but I have seen at Publix and Whole Foods!
Salt to taste - I used sea salt, but use your favorite salt here!
1/2 pound fresh cold wakame - I have only found this is Asian grocery stores, but I've heard this can be found in Whole Foods as well.


In a large pot with a well fitting lid, add in water and fish stock. Bring to a rolling boil.

2) Once water and fish stock have reached a rolling boil, add in dashi granules. Stir for one minute, until granules are fully mixed in.

3) Once granules have been mixed in, add in wakame. Stir vigorously, until the wakame is broken up and softened.

4) Whisk in miso paste, until water has turned one solid color. Drop heat to a simmer, fit tight with a lid and let simmer for 25 minutes.

5) Remove lid, stir to mix up wakame that may have settled. Sprinkle salt to taste, serve hot.


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Writing Commitments

So when I first started this blog YEARS ago it was to help stimulate my creative flow. It shifted to focusing more on SCA, with my personal writings and musing being sprinkled around. I want to write more, to invest more into my writings. Honestly, life has kept me away from many things including my writing habits, but I want to change that. I am committing to 2 blog posts a week, one on Sundays and one on Thursdays. If I feel like updating! If not, I will be sticking to my commitments.

I want to get into writing, and having a desk and a desktop to do it on now will make life easier. I have a lot to catch up here and document, so here's to many more posts! See you guys on Sunday!

Filk: Do You Wanna Enter Art/Sci?

This is a filk that my best friend and sister for life Ever co-wrote, late one night in between Facebook messenger. It's gone through a few edits, and I'm sure it will go through more, but as I cannot sleep and want to update the blog...ta-da!

Do you wanna enter Art/Sci?
To the tune of "Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?"
Do you wanna enter Art/Sci?
And document our every move?

We review our every source we find, check all the words we write until our papers prove!

We used to be so social, but now we're not. I wish we could have more time...!

Do you wanna enter Art/Sci?

It doesn't have to be at kingdom...

Go away you two!

Ok bye...

Do you wanna enter art/Sci? And be authentic as you can?

You will get all sorts of cuts and scrapes, with Middle French and poison dust to drive you mad!

Just trust us.

It can be so lonely, all these dusty books, just reading the same old things!


Page flip, page flip, page flip, paper cut!

Please, won't you just try if? Laurels are asking where you've been.

Come out and try you're hand at it, you've got a real talent, just let it shine!

Art/Sci's really easy, we believe in you, please just give it a try...?

Do you wanna...

Enter art/sci...?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Challenge Approaches!

I have a new challenge, recreating the Castle of Love. It's gonna be big, it's gonna be epic. I am madness for attempting this, but goddamn will it be amazing when I pull it off.

Here is a description of the dish, from Du Fait de Cuisine:

10. For a lofty entremet, that is a castle, there should be made for its base a fair large litter to be carried by four men, and in the said litter must be four towers to be put in each quarter of the said litter, and each tower should be fortified and machicolated; and each tower has crossbowmen and archers to defend the said fortress, and also in each tower is a candle or wax torch to illuminate; and they bear branches of all trees bearing all manner of flowers and fruit, and on the said branches all manner of birds. And in the lower court will be at the foot of each tower: in one of the towers, a boar's head armed and endored spitting fire; elsewhere a great pike, and this pike is cooked in three ways: the part of the pike toward the tail is fried, the middle part is boiled, and the head part is roasted on the grill; and the said pike is sitting at the foot of the other tower looking out from the beast spitting fire. One should take note of the sauces of the said pike with which it should be eaten, that is: the fried with oranges, the boiled with a good green sauce which should be made sour with a little vinegar, and the roast of the said pike should be eaten with green verjuice made of sorrel. At the foot of the other tower an endored piglet looking out and spitting fire; and at the foot of the other tower a swan which has been skinned and reclothed, also spitting fire. And in the middle of the four towers in the lower court a fountain of Love, from which fountain there should flow by a spout rosewater and clear wine; and above the said fountain are cages with doves and all flying birds. And on the heights of the said castle are standards, banners, and pennons; and beside the said fountain is a peacock which has been skinned and reclothed. And for this, I Chiquart have said before, I would like to teach to the said master who is to make it the art of the said peacock, and this to do courtesy and honor to his lord and master, that is to take a large fat goose, and spit it well and put it to roast well and cleanly and gaily [quickly?], and to recloth it in the plumage of the peacock and put it in the place where the peacock should be set, next to the fountain of love, with the wings extended; and make the tail spread, and to hold the neck raised high, as if it were alive, put a stick of wood inside the said neck which will make it hold straight. And for this the said cook must not flay the said peacock, but take the pinions to put on the goose and take the skin of the rump of the peacock where the feathers are held all together; and when it goes onto the goose, to make good skewers to make the said goose spread its tail as properly as the peacock if it were alive.
And on the battlements of the lower court should be chickens skinned and reclothed and endored, and endored hedgehogs, and endored apples made of meat, Spanish pots made of meat all endored; molded figures, that is: hares, brachets, deer, boars, the hunters with their horns, partridge, crayfish, dolphin, peas all molded and beans made all of molded meat. The curtains of the said castle which go all around the castle, should be so large hanging to the ground that one cannot see the bearers of the said castle. And the said curtains from the ground to two feet up should be painted with waves of water and large sea flowers; and among the said waves should be painted all sorts of fish, and above the said waters and waves should be galleys and ships full of people armed in all ways so that it seems they come to attack the said fortress and castle of Love, which appears to be on a great rock in the sea, of which people some are archers, crossbowmen, others are furnished with lances, others with ladders to lean against the said fortress, these climbing and those descending and pushing the others off, these divided and other things, these hard pressed and those in retreat, these being killed by arrows and those by stones.
And within the curtains should be three or four young children playing very well, one a rebec, another a lute, psaltery, or harp, and others who have good voices to sing appropriate, sweet, and pleasant songs so that one is aware that these are sirens in the sea by their clear singing.
And the peacock which is mentioned above, which by the advice of me, Chyquart, is the result of artifice, take it and clean it very well and then dry it well and properly, and spit it and put it to roast; and when it is nearly roasted stud it with good whole cloves well and properly; and if the surface is spoiled put it to roast again. And then let your lord know about your trick with the peacock and he can then arrange for what he wants done.
Oh yeah...
This is going to require a huge amount of planning to accomplish. Stay tuned for a wild ride.


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Improving the game? Or snobbery?

One of the things I've been struggling with the last few weeks is that balance between wanting to improve my personal/local "game" and not wanting to be a snobbish asshole who demands elitism. Much of the argument is internal to be fair, but when it starts to affect my outside worldview I worry about crossing the line.

I've been on a personal kick to improve my game for the past few weeks. So much of my fun has been in losing myself in another time/place, but as I've played longer in the SCA it's become tricky. A lot of these limitations are mine, where I focused so much on food I did not develop as well in other areas and those moments began to remove me from the fun. I grew self-conscious of my patched together miss-matched outfits, I was embarrassed at my lazy attempts at heraldry, I couldn't find my personas way out of a paper bag with hazily touched upon studies. I realized this was something that was troubling me, and I have finally started taking the steps I needed to up my game.

Come Fall Coronation I should have a total of 6 new outfits for every occasion, and flags of heraldry to represent myself and my home proudly. I'm converting my personal kits to have a more period look, putting my spices into jars and looking into transporting my gear for all seasons in period style containers. I'm really excited to bring myself to a better personal game, and that in turn has inspired me to share more of what I love and help others raise their games as well.  But in expanding my view, I've noticed myself feeling almost...snobbish or frustrated with others who don't seem to want to even try. And I try not to let it affect me too much, but still...

A conversation in regards to feasts brought this up again today. We strive to have a period presence in everything we do, but with food it always seem to be a struggle. Why? I just don't understand it, and I get frustrated when I see menus which are not even pretending to look period, or hear people telling me I shouldn't care so much about it. I do care, and I get frustrated that so many others don't. But on the other hand, I haven't gotten a bunch of crap for how I've looked or camped if it wasn't up to par with the others around me.

I'm just stuck in a loss as I puzzle this, how to address it. I now the first step is to improve my own game, but how to I enhance and improve the game around me? How do I help others make those next steps, even in thins they perhaps dot see a need to do? 

Am I working to improve the game, or am I just a snob?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Homestead Journal of Christopher Köch Part 2

Staying at home alone, in our large estate, is quite boring.

Today not as much was accomplished as I would have liked. My nights were plagued with waking dreams, I could not settle myself to rest and relax. Perhaps it's that fog of war that hovers over our land, latest news is the army has fully arrived and entrenched themselves in for the fight to come. Perhaps it is my wife's new pets whom do not understand the common decency of a quiet movement at night. Alas.

More organization was done today, another few crates opened and distributed around the estate. The cleaning staff was directed to clean up several small chamber pots and remove trash from the interior, and as always my linens needed cleaning and directions for storage. I think tomorrow I will speak with my grounds keeper, my carriage could use a polish to remove the pollen and several topiary features will need to be shaped and cared for. Lunch was a simple meal, in silence again for a third day since my lady wife left me for war.

I think I will rest for a bit before meeting with the nobility again. Yesterday was a challenge, but today should be much improved.

I wish my blade was running through a villain right now.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Homestead Journal of Christopher Köch Part 1

It is a strange feeling, not marching on campaign with my Kingdom. Last year was the first year that I fought alongside my cousins in Trimaris, and this year I sit at the homestead while my darling wife travels forward with the merchants to sell her wares and expand her knowledge. I am proud of her courage to travel so far from home with so little of the household, but I will admit my heart longs to be alongside her.

Alas, with this call to war I am stuck on the homestead. Changes in the nobility have changed my roles and duties to them, and with such great upheaval I must remain and see that my holdings are protected. I have many rivals in court, and I will not see any harm come to my income. I have also acquired several new animals to help grow my holdings, they require breaking in and adjusting to their new environments. And with the latest expansions to our home and the repairs that need to be overseen...perhaps it was a blessing from God that I did not march to war.

I have heard that the army is assembling over the next day and soon Trimaris will be prepared to engage any who come out way. This good news brings joy to my heart, I can only hope the messages from so distant a travel continue. 

Today has been the start of my work on the homestead. I oversaw the cleaning staff do a deep clean of the kitchen and bathing chambers, and the new animals were deftly put through an exercise routine before being fed and watered. I ensured that all fabrics would be laundered, and gave direction to the house staff in instructions for storing them. After that I had a business lunch with a few other merchants in the Barony, we organized export trade goods between our two groups and I gave insight on a tavern menu they were still struggling with. 

Now I hitch my horses and go to court to continue my work and negotiations with the new nobles I find myself having to work with. They are good and skilled, but we are both unsure of each other. I pray to St. Christopher for safe travels, and to St. Paul for the patience I know I'll required today.

Tomorrow will be another day, and a better one at that.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Facing the mirror

St. Val's feast had me facing something terrifying. I was uncomfortable the whole time, anxious and nervous. I think this feast was the hardest thing I've done so far, because I had to face my greatest challenges in it. I had to face myself during this, I had to face my own failings and mistakes. I had to realize my own limitations, further more I had to realize when I was sabotaging myself. This feast helped me realize all that.

Long time ago, I was that gifted kid in class. I was the one who was ahead of every lesson, I could pick up and sight read music for nearly any instrument, I was reading at a college level by 5th grade and I was always on top. I didn't have to try, I didn't have to really work to be successful. Not until 7th grade, I ran into my first challenge then when I was put into the 8th grade advanced math course. Suddenly I had to try, I was just...average. I failed.

I couldn't handle it, the failing. I began to think that maybe I wasn't smart, that I couldn't do all these things. That I was just this fraud...that my life to that point was wrong and a lie. So I stopped trying. I started holding back, I chose to take no action and let things just happen. I began to rationalize that if I didn't actually try then I would never really know how well I could actually do or know how badly I could fail. I took the easiest route, I avoided challenges and just let myself fail through inaction rather than make an effort.

I did this for so long, that it just became my MO. I took the easy roads, I let the chips fall where they may instead of trying and I just let life rule me. I made so many poor choices through inaction, that I began to believe my own bullshit. Even when I joined up with the SCA the second time, what I did while fun was no real challenge to me. I could it without trying. So I did things for fun, and nothing was amiss. Then I hit Fall Coronation 2015.

I devoted a year of my life to that feast. I studied Japanese culture, I read their mythology and history from pre-history to Edo. I learned about their poems and their songs, their wars and heroes. All of this so I could understand a new cooking style, to understand a culture that was incredibly foreign to everything I've known. I got to the feast after a year of work...and I did a good job. I made plenty of mistakes, the list if I were to get into it would be huge if I were to be frank, but it was still a damned good feast. It wasn't my best, but for the first time in a long time I really tried and while I didn't quite reach that top gold rung I got a good silver pedestal. But everyone else...I couldn't escape the praise. I couldn't escape the constant well wishes and the regular compliments, and the more praise was heaped at me the more I began to resent the feast. I hadn't been the best, I had just passed, why was everyone making a huge deal about my failures?

I started another downward spiral. I started to rethink every success I had over the last five years and began to tell myself that even my easy successes had just been failures that people didn't realize. As I began to work on my next feast for St. Val's, I couldn't focus. Even working with a fantastic partner, I did not put anywhere near the effort I normally did into it. I expected to fail, I expected that it would be ruined and thus I put almost zero effort or work towards it. I just couldn't muster the energy to care.

Then I was suddenly forced to care. St. Val's was to host Art/Sci, and I had to look at the 3/4 completed project I had left in rambles and face the fact that it was me who ensured it couldn't be entered. I had to fave the fact that the feast was going to be hurt because I didn't support my comrade, and my friends were gonna have a bad night because I was selfish and didn't want to admit that I lacked such confidence in myself. My friends know I have such little ego, so when I looked into the mirror that day the next thought that came was akin to a slap in the face.

I looked into the mirror, and realized I had been holding back for years because I was too afraid to really try. I had never really tried at anything for years until fall coronation, and I was willing to throw that all away. 

I was a flurry of work from that point on. I pushed myself to recover for lost time, I improvised recipes on instinct and potions/flavor profiles on just a fundamental understanding. Hell, I recreated a recipe I had eaten 2 years ago based on memory of taste/texture and a few tips on assorted chickpea recipes I found online. I gave it a real effort that last little bit of time, to just be good again. I made a huge number of mistakes, but I had a great team member supporting me and a great crew to work with all day. I faced my fear of failure instead of hiding, I gave it a real try for my friends sake. 

We did a real good feast, hot food was hot and cold food was cold. Everyone liked the taste, and everyone had plenty to eat. I had a great co-Feastcrat who worked with me to make a great experience. I had a great hall steward who did a fantastic job of organizing the hall and servers. I had great friends who supported me and helped me get through it. I got a chance to look in the mirror and realize that if I actually tried...if I put real effort into my passion without fear of failure...that maybe I could have my best feast yet.

I feel good. I got hurt, I got knocked down. But for the first time I realize that it's my fault for the pain, and now I can stand back up and keep moving forward.

An Crosaire has always been a place of beginnings, of renewals for me. Seems like it did it again.