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One Hundred Books for the Princess

September 27, 2011

You may realize that I participate in a medieval group, endeavouring to learn old skills and make artful things. My branch undertook a group project, and I decided to make it a tale, sent to another…

Greetings, Master Cathal Sean from Halima al-Rakkasa.

The tale of “One Hundred Books” is a fine tale, O he who rules the scriptorium. I shall give you my version of it forthwith.

‘Twas a fine late afternoon of the Hartwood August “Armada”, a mere six weeks past. In the fading heat of the day, amidst the distribution of Kjartan’s mini-crossbows, much discussion arose of shire-sized endeavours, the forms they might take, the people they might involve, the skills they might require.

Then did Master James suggest the making of books, many books, and he being one who has taught no few of us the skills of Coptic bookbinding, naturally did talk flow to such an endeavour. As we explored the concept, we realized that even those of us who had taken his class were somewhat lacking in complete comfort in the needed skills, whereupon Master James offered to teach us again, as often as it would take for the learning to “take”.

For these skills to be well-shared, many books were needed to be made by many artisans; being that Her Highness Lenora of Tir Righ was present at our discussion and Coronet was in the offing, the purpose became clear: Books for Tir Righ Largesse.

Stepped forth then Her Ladyship Doireann and His Lordship Kjartan with the offer of a wood chest to hold the books. Discussion sprung up anew… How many books would it take to fill such a chest? Perhaps… One Hundred!

Led by Master James (skill and enthusiasm), Seneschale Marina (leading by example) and Mistress Cecille (A&S and organizer), the Cry was, “100 Books for Largesse!

Thus it was.

Showing a book - largesse is cool.

Photo by Meagan - "Largesse is Cool", a possible quote from artisan Scathach.

It came to pass that many hands came forward to make Coptic books in many colors of covers, leaves and stitching, in two sizes (and 5 Oriental bindings). The small chest was made, painted with the populace badge of Tir Righ.

Lady Elspeth designed and printed on her hand-press bookplates, one for each and every book, so that all would know that these were given by the hands of Their Highnesses of Tir Righ to those whom They would favor. The bookplates late come, those last few hours before the presentation, everyone cut and pasted like maddened creatures to get them completed before Court! It was wonderful madness!

Those who participated in this project presented this gift of largesse to Their Highnesses Alden and Lenora in court at September Coronet, with device and banners flying in the warm breeze of the day. Even the dogs wore barding in the Hartwood colors.

It was a magnificent day when the Shire of Hartwood determined to undertake the project, and a magnificent day when it was complete. May the sun continue to shine on such efforts of united creativity.

Thus ends my tale; if it does not please, it did not happen.

yours in service,
Halima al-Rakkasa

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Tech VS. Touch

September 14, 2011

I’ve always said that too much technology between people cripples the natural empathy that develops within an affinity group, whether that is a family or a special-interest group.

Spending time with others, talking with them, seeing their facial expressions, physical contact both deliberate and accidental, moving within each other’s space (“Pass the butter, please?”), affects the brain in a profound way that increases one’s sense of satisfaction with life.

Argentine tango is my way to deliberately increase my sense of satisfaction in life by spending time with others of my affinity group (tango dancers), talking (with everyone) and keeping in contact (dancing and the occasional contacts that come in conversation).

On the other hand, dancing is fun! I get to dance with lots of men who know how to hold me! And want to! 😀

I may have to enlarge on this line of thought…

“Gas out”? Well!

August 16, 2011

1600-1629 CE Embroidered-Camel at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Wading and even swimming in the social internetworking pool can be a little tedious with the variety of re-posting that occurs. Perhaps a smaller circle of friends would make it somewhat less repetitive. Lately, all the posts have been about not buying gas on a single -day-. That stuff and nonsense made me snap… Maybe I’m too logical for my own good. May I say something? Oh, wait… I live here. I -will- say something!

Do you really want to do something about those high gas prices? Then don’t do anything involving gasoline products! That’s right! Don’t drive a car, don’t use a gas lawn mower, don’t ride a gas-using bus, and don’t, whatever you do, take an airplane. And check on how your electricity is created. You may have to walk or bike a lot.

Do this for one full, uninterrupted month, and you -will- affect the oil companies’ bottom lines, especially if you can get a few (thousand) friends to join you in this noble cause. A day is not enough; these guys don’t do their accounting by the day, but by the month and by the quarter, so that is your target. Don’t stock up ahead of time or catch up later because then all your deprivation will be for nought.

If you are serious about affecting the big oil companies, then you have to make a big commitment.

I dare you.

Copy this to your status if you agree!

August 16, 2011

Again with this annoying reposting virus! “Here’s a human rights issue to get up in arms about! Copy and paste this to your status if you agree!” And if you don’t “agree”, you are obviously the scum of the earth, the source of the problem, and the instigator of all the ills of the world. To not “agree”/repost/copy-paste-to-your-status is to seem anti-social, the antithesis of the Ideal Facebooker and a general social outcast!

Why all this “post this to your status if you agree” nonsense? Are you feeling insecure about your beliefs/feelings? Want someone to agree so you don’t feel so lonely in your closely cherished, well-meaning, ideals? You feel helpless about atrocious situations, but, gee, here’s a keyboard to copy&paste a wee paragraph about it… again… without doing any real work or research that could actually make a difference? Oh, please don’t tell me to sign another petition that goes nowhere!

And then there are the nostalgia posts of “I rode my bike without a helment and I survived,” and “I was raised to have respect for my elders,” which is all well and good when you are face-to-face with someone to share that nostalgia. But to post it to be disseminated hither and yon? Why? Seeking kindred souls amongst the anonymous faces of the Internet who will never truly understand you anyway?

Even if I agree with the stance you take, why do you insist on attempting to guilt me into copying you like some second-rate banana? Oh, you didn’t mean to send out emotional blackmail? You didn’t intend to bully me? Read your words again, as if for the first time.

If you really like these kind of posts, I’m guessing you go for chain-letters, too, interminable things that tell you to send mail/money/recipe to someone you don’t know and inundate 50 of your friends with the same letter requesting them to do the same. [sarcasm on] I am -so- sure this will change the world![sarcasm off]

Perhaps you, a reader who is a non-reposter, might have an opinion of your own, or possibly words of your own! Heavens! An original thought!? How outre, how… unique! How dangerous to society! How necessary!

Reposter! Go use your own words, at least in part! Stand up for what you think, believe and say! Remember that lip service is just that and nothing more; if you really want to affect the world, get out there and -do- something -real-.

One more thing… actually, several…

Spurious posts that I want to put out to see if anyone salutes:

People must be allowed to breathe oxygen! If you agree, copy and paste this to your status for at least an hour. Let’s see how many people believe in our right to breath air!”

From http://creeva.com/2011/01/11/copy-paste-repost-mentality/ … because it’s a spurious status that I -am- tempted to repost:

“Dear facebook friends – no matter the cause or reason, I will not copy and paste your status and make it mine – copy-paste if you agree.”

Although I happen to -like- inspirational quotes in amongst a person’s posts, I thought some of these descriptions were apt:

http://observant-mind.blogspot.com/2010/01/facebook-frustrations.html

And here is someone who has a way with words:

http://everyonesanidiot.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/93-of-you-wont-copy-and-paste-this/

OK. I feel better for getting that out. For now…

Adventures in Kale Chips!

August 2, 2011
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I don’t consider myself much of a cook. I find little joy in the daily chore of ensuring my body has sufficient fuel to function and function properly. My sense of food adventure is also limited; no shellfish for me (allergic), and nothing out of my prairie upbringing has appeal, like squid. Pineapple makes the back of my throat burn. And some things just register as “icky”. My apologies to all those who enjoy such delicacies.

On the other hand… I was not raised with spicy food or food seasoned with more than salt and pepper and the flavours given by nature, like chicken broth and bacon. Yet, I like curry; not hot curry, mind you, but curry with a little zing and a lot of flavour. And I like food flavoured with rosewater; yes, I had to get over that “soap” mental block, but soap was/is scented with food products, so I’m still working on getting used to orange blossom water (can you say, “Camay”? I knew you could!).

Over this past year I experimented with kale chips. Or maybe Kale Chips! I was introduced to it, plain and salted, at a medieval event; it’s just as addictive as any junk food!

Since I like kale anyway (Portuguese style potato and kale soup, kale in curry, stir-fried kale seasoned with soy sauce), it was a short step to chips.

My first forays were simple: prep kale and pop into the oven, experimenting with different temperatures, and varying the spices from plain to paprika to chili powder. But today…

Today I had great massive amounts of kale! Today, the experiment!

I found the oven method was very time sensitive: a moment too late, and the kale was burnt and bitter. Lower the temperature, bake longer, and, well, I’m still hovering over the oven to save my chips. Then it occured to me: dehydrator!

My parents, eons ago, gave me a dehydrator, one of those stacking deals that runs on electricity. A hot day like today, such an appliance can run -outside-!

So to the experiment.

Recipe:
Kale Chips

  • bunch of Kale – give it a good rinse, strip the stalk out of the leaf (like stripping thorns off roses), and dry thoroughly so the oil sticks
  • Olive oil – about one tablespoon (measuring spoon) of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil (may as well be good oil, since it plays a major role); put it into a big bowl
  • Season – about one teaspoon (measuring spoon) of spice, or more of something with less bite, mixed into the oil
  • Mix – rip kale into 3-4″ pieces, and toss into the seasoned oil; mix very, very well to ensure leaves are well-coated
  • Dry/bake – spread leaves on the dehydrator trays, or, for the oven (set to 300 deg. F) on parchment on non-insulated baking sheets; only a single layer; the dehydrator takes about 2-ish hours for me, and the oven will be about 20-ish minutes (turn at least once half-way through); don’t overcook, but remove from heat as soon as the kale is crispy, before it browns

That’s pretty much it.

Oh, and all the kale? I experimented with seasonings.

  1. 1 tsp commercially-made Cajun Spice (excellent!)
  2. 1 Tbl each fresh parmesan cheese and engevita yeast (hm. might be better if dressed after baking)
  3. 2 tsp za’atar blend (excellent!)
  4. in the past, 1 tsp paprika plus a good sprinkle of salt (v. good!)
  5. in the past, 1 tsp chili powder (excellent!)
  6. in the past, 1 tsp dried dill plus salt (v. good!)
  7. I’ve heard of using an Herbs de Provence blend
  8. I’ve heard of using soy sauce with the EVOO
  9. I’ve heard of using balsamic vinegar with the EVOO

It has a kale-ish flavour, even without the spicing, so it may still be an acquired taste. And it has good healthy stuff in it, especially if you chose to use a dehydrator rather than an oven.

Make lots. If this appeals to you, you won’t be able to stop at just one!

Have you tried other spices? How’d they work out?

Tangotangotango…

July 29, 2011

A friend saw a clip of some Argentine tango, the style I dance. She said, “Milonga is like that video you posted a while back; very smooth and flowing, right? I’d always pictured Tangos so rigid and forceful. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that before, it looks really beautiful!”

So I had to respond, since we see so little of the Argentine tango (AT) that is danced by normal, everyday, person-next-door sort of people.

Milonga is a simple one-two rhythm, lots of walking. Depending on the music, it can be a little cheeky, and sometimes it’s fast. I -love- the energy that it brings and can give.

Vals (waltz) is smooth and flowing, always. It has a one-two-three pattern. One of my favorite steps for it is an intermediate level, where we go round and round. It’s also challenging for me to get it right the first time! It is also the most elegant.

The tango rhythm is … tango. It’s the most expressive of them all, changing with the music and the words and how the dancers are feeling at the moment. The interpretive possibilities are incredible, especially if you are willing to dig into your own psyche.

So this is the Argentine Tango as it is danced by “the people”, us, you and me. This is the tango taught by Valley Tango.

It’s another one of the those dances that is easy to learn but challenging to learn well; I think it was Martha Graham who said something about the freedom to dance fully came only with the self-discipline to learn to dance well… and that’s where I’m going!

F2F VS. FB

July 2, 2011

Last night I was involved in a most interesting conversation after a dance show where Steve commented that he was cutting down his Facebook friends list. To summarize, he felt obligated to respond to every person’s post; since he had little time to spare to respond to so many posts, he decided to trim his list down to a minimal number. Very minimal.

And that got me to thinking… which can be dangerous, given the side trips my mind can take…

There are many people whose company I enjoy. I find great pleasure in being in their presence, and delight in the conversational turns. My world would be less enjoyable if those people did not inhabit it.

However. (And this is where we enter the dangerous shoals where conscious and unconscious meet…)

There are degrees of friendship that are not easily defined, especially when we want to sort them out according to Facebook limitations.

There are some friends in my life that are not on the Internet. Shocking, but it’s true! Indeed, the only interactions we have are face-to-face (F2F), in-person, giving us -relatively- short periods of time to interact socially. If I want to have details of their lives, I have to ask, and even then the details will be missed. Oh, how many times have I thought, “I should’ve asked about their …?” Unless I call, maybe long-distance, there goes another lost opportunity to get to know them better. On the other hand, if/when you call, it could be considered a measure of how important that person is to your life.

Then there are a few friends who are “connected”, but only marginally. They have an email address, and might manage to remember their password once a month, or once a week, to login. If I want news, I can ask via email but must expect to wait a while to hear back. So that is another set of folks where effort must be applied to maintain a friendship.

Then there are the online inhabitants. You, the people that are -seriously- connected. Oh, there are so many of them! And connecting with them all (including -you-) is overwhelming!

There are the friends that are truly only acquaintances. We have something in common, but I don’t impact their lives nor they mine. I like them and am glad to know them, but there is no depth because we have no shared history.

There are the friends that I enjoy spending time with in our various social venues: medieval club, tango, bellydance, textile arts. We have a connection through our common interests, and I treasure these friends. I would be saddened by their loss. On the other hand, how much do I -really- want to know about their inner selves?

There are the friends that I have a connection with on a more personal level, usually beginning through activities or shared experiences. We want to know what’s happening in each other’s lives because we care about each other’s successes and triumphs over failures. My life would be darkened by their loss.

There are the friends that I have a deep connection with (Hi, sis!) who I am delighted to learn about their daily experiences, trials, tribulations and joys. Well, maybe not minute by minute, tho’ I have been known to, on occasion, indulge. If I were to lose them, the wound would last until the end of eternity.

The only way to maintain friendships
, real friendships, not mere Facebook friendships (“I have 1263 friends!”), is to communicate. That means listening and responding to people (posts, emails, letters, phone calls, F2F conversation). It means giving your time to them…

I asked one would-be FB friend how she kept up with her 546 FB friends, and I received no reply; I’m sorry to disappoint you, my dear, but our friendship will continue to be on the acquaintance level. To me, friendship, even a FB friendship, entails some responsibility to interact. (Granted, there are times the best I can do is “like” posts. Life being what it is.)

To all those who have sent me a “friend request”: Unless we are already communicating on something beyond a superficial level, we’ll have to chat whenever we meet in person. ❤ you anyway!

So… F2F VS FB? My opinion is the former must precede the latter, and even then a Facebook "friendship" is not a given.

How about you? Is everyone a "friend" to the same degree? If so, what do you consider your boundaries? If not, how do -you- deal with the degrees of intimacy?