Requirements and Responsibilities

“On a Greyhound thirty miles beyond Jamestown
He saw the sun set on the Tennessee line
He looked at the young man who was riding beside him
He said I’m old kind of worn out inside
I worked my whole life in the steel mills of Gary
And my father before me I helped build this land
Now I’m seventy-seven and with God as my witness
I earned every dollar that passed through my hands
My family and friends are the best thing I’ve known
Through the eye of the needle I’ll carry them home”

Last Sunday I took part in the  first meeting of the committee that has been organized to review and update the official Baronial Policy of the Barony of Grey Niche. There are five of us that are going over the policy and updating it. When we are finished we will present the updated policy to the group at a business meeting and, hopefully, the group will vote to accept it. If not, the committee members will go back to work and incorporate any suggestions we get from the group. Sunday was the first chance we had to meet as a group and work on it, and quite frankly I was surprised by how much we achieved in the four short hours we worked on it that night.
I mention this because one of the subjects that we had to talk about for the longest that night was the difference between the requirements  for participation in the group, or for participation in the SCA itself and the responsibilities of participation. I’ve been thinking about it all week, and I’m still not exactly sure what caused the … wasn’t really an argument but a disagreement about the issue between myself and a very good friend. I think part of the disagreement may have been due to the fact that I used the wrong vocabularly when stating my feelings. I also have to admit to the fact that I truly enjoy a spirited debate. Hey, some folks like to strap on armor and get beat with rattan swords; so it’s not so unusual to admit to liking the verbal sparring of a good debate among intelligent people. This particual debate was, for me, particularly thought provoking, and I’m going to describe the basics of it here, because I would truly be interested in knowing what those of you that read this think about the matter.
At the most basic level, it was a difference of belief about the requirements of membership and participation in the SCA and the responsibility or duty, of those participating  in the SCA.  If you think about it, at the most basic level, there are very few requirements for participation in the SCA. To attend an event we require that people make an attempt at period clothing. Other than paying site fees and filling out a couple of lines of paperwork, that’s it.  . One is not even “required” to be a a member of the organization to participate in SCA events.
Now, as  one moves beyond the most basic level of participation (which I should define as showing up at events and watching the activities), the requirements for participation increase. If one wants to be a group officer one must be a paid member. If one wants to enter most A&S competitions one is required to not only produce the piece to be entered but also the doccumentation that goes with it, etc. etc. If one is a group officer there are the requirements of the office to deal with; attending meetings, filling reports, etc. etc.
Now, the disagreement started when I made the comment that I thought it should be a requirement for those participating in the SCA to be familiar with group policy. Unfortunately, I realize now, that was a really bad choice of wording. What I really meant was that I think it should be, and is,  the responsibility of those participating in SCA events, whether they are paid members or not, to at least be familiar with the policy of the local group. To be clear, I don’ t expect this of someone coming to their first event, or a relative newcomer. No, I was referring to somebody that has been participating for several months.  I expect it of someone that actually plans to stick around for a while.
I do not think it is wrong to expect somebody that is participating in an organization to be familiar with group policy. And that’s an important point; I said “familiar”. I don’t expect them to know it by heart, to have memorized it. I don’t expect them to be “rules lawyers” ( A particularly annoying kind of twerp that pops up in every kind of organization. No offense meant to real lawyers intended).  Frankly, I can not understand why anyone participating in an organization, any organization, not wanting to be familiar with the general policies of that organization.
Of course, in thinking about this over the last few days, I first had to figure out why I felt as I do. That’s simple, the SCA has given me so much; friendship, a sense of belonging, so very much, and it has asked so little of me. It is my responsibility, my duty, if you like, to be familar with the policies of the Society, and of the local group. It is, to my mind, the very least I can do. As one becomes involved at something more than the most basic level one’s responsibilities increase, just as one’s requirements.
In this case, I think the responsibility comes from the individual, not the organization. It should, anyway. So, the question then becomes, what are the responsibilities of people participating in the SCA? What should those responsibilities be? What should the requirements for participating in the SCA be? I would truly be interested in hearing your thoughts and opinions on the matter.
I apologize if none of this makes much sense.  I am still trying to figure out how I feel and think about the whole issue. I realize that I could have, should have, presented the subject in a clearer manner.


Taking a stab at the quote challenge

“Mother, mother Ocean,
I have heard your call,
Wanted to sail upon your waters,
Since I was three feet tall”

So, some friends of mine are having this quote challenge thing on their various blogs. It is designed, I think to give them something to write about, and and way to share or express themselves in some rather interesting ways. Over the weeks they’ve been engaged in this challenge I’ve greatly enjoyed reading their posts each week, but until today I’ve only felt able to write about one previous quote. Then I got home today, and read this:
““A good friend can tell you what is the matter with you in a minute.  He may not seem such a good friend after telling.”
I have to admit that kind of rocked me back  a bit. Those words got me thinking. Quite frankly, those words got me remembering some conversations with some of my true friends over the years. Some of those memories were actually quite pleasant. Some were not so pleasant at all.
I showed that quote to one of my oldest friends as we were talking on line this evening and he was concerned that it seemed to say that a true friend was negative. I didn’t get that feeling at all. To my mind the quote says that a true friend has the courage to risk a friendship when he/she deems it important. It also says, to me, that a true friend knows you well enough to see behind, beyond, whatever fronts one puts up.
I’ve been on both sides of that situation. I have been the friend that risked losing a friendship because I felt I had to say something about what a friend was doing, or about to do. It is not easy, nor should it be, but it is sometimes necessary. And I have lost friendships over doing so, but I still think I did the right thing. I’ve also been blessed to be the one who has been told I was screwing up in a rather spectacular fashion by good, true friends. Friends that truly had my best interest at heart, despite the pain their words caused. It sucked, truly sucked, at the time, but looking back on it now, I  thank them for doing so. I sincerely hope that when or if I am faced with being the one doing the telling that I have the courage to do so. I also sincerely hope in the much more likely situation that a close, true, friend is in the position of telling me something they think I need to be told that I am smart enough to realize that their goal is not to hurt, but to help.


I’m DONE!!!!!!!!!

“Christmas memories of happy years gone by
They come back to me and keep me warm inside
Good ole Christmas Memories
Oh, they mean so much to me
Oh, Those Christmas memories, make me cry…”

Brace yourself, my friends, for the Bald Man is about to engage in a little bragging. I love Christmas, I really do. I always have. When I was a kid Christmas was, thanks to my folks, a truly magical time. In many ways it still is. Yes, a lot of the stuff associated with the Holiday season that begins with Thanksgiving and ends with New Years Day is enough to drive the sanest person completely batty, but Christmas, the day itself, is still a joyous day. I realize that not everybody feels that way; and I realize that I am truly blessed by a great family and great friends that make that feeling possible.
What I do not like is the actualy Christmas gift shopping. I am not now, and never have been a good shopper, at any time of the year. During the Holiday Season, when one is looking for the “perfect” gift for a friend or family matter, I’m a really, really, lousey shopper. I admit, compared to some, I have it easy; the only people I have to shop for are my mom, my sister, my brother in law (a new addition to the list, they just got married in September), and a member of our SCA household (we do a secret santa thing and draw names instead of trying to buy for all of the members). I do not participate in a gift exchange at the office since I don’t like the people I work with enough to associate with them if I’m not getting paid. So, it is a short list, I admit, but I usually have a very hard time deciding what to buy for people. Of course it doesn’t help that most of the folks on my list are not real helpful in giving ideas on what they would like, at most it is something like “oh, I’ll enjoy whatever you get”. This is, of course, absolute twittle. Add to that the fact that do to some spectacular mishaps in my early twenties I am no longer allowed to even consider getting Mom or Kris clothes for gifts, and the fact that I’m still getting to know my brother in law, and you begin to see the problem I face with the holidays.
So, where does the bragging come in? I’m getting to that. It is only the Monday after Thanksgiving, and I’M DONE!!!. Well, mostly done; I have not actually bought all of the items, but I know exactly what I’m going to get everyone. The SCA Household member is getting a gift from the Gleann Abhann Cafe Press store (it actually arrived today). Kris just recently started a new job and mentioned when last I spoke to her she mentioned a couple of things she could really use, and I know exactly where to get them (and I’m fairly sure she’s forgotten she ever mentioned them to me. Steve, the new brother in law mentioned recently that he was looking for a new fantasy author to read, and in the same conversation that he had never read anything by Terry Pratchett. So, he’s getting four Terry Pratchett novels, one for each set of main characters that Pratchett features in his Discworld Series. That leaves Mom. She is, in many ways the toughest one to buy for, but I think I’ve got her gift figured out as well. She has many, many crafting hobbies, and in the past I’ve gotten her various things relating to whatever craft she was playing with at the time. However, her interests change rather quickly, so usually by the time I’ve gotten something for her to use, she’s moved on to a new interest. So, this year, she’s getting a gift certificate to Michaels. That way she can get whatever she’s currently intersted in. I admit that is kind of taking the easy way out, but so far it’s the best I can come up with. So, with all of that decided upon, I should be done picking up the various items by Thursday. I can, for the first time in years just enjoy the rest of the holiday season.

Sunday Morning

“I know that I will never be politically correct
And I don’t give a damn about my lack of etiquette
As far as I’m concerned, the world could still be flat
And if the thrill is gone, then it’s time to take it back
If the thrill is gone, then it’s time to take it back”

Friday afternoon, while pretending to work, I made a list of things I wanted to get accomplished this weekend.  There are 16 titems on the list, and so far I’ve accomplished three of them. My deadline for getting all of them done is 3:00 this afternoon. That is when I have to leave my hom ein order to attend a meeting. Can we say it’s going to be a busy morning and afternoon? Yes, I think we can. Just in case anyone is wondering; yes, writing a blog entry is one of those list items.
If one doesn’t consider the 300 minutes I spent at work, was a very pleasant day. I came home from work and promptly took a rather long nap. I love guilt free, afternoon naps. I don’t get the chance to have them very often. To be clear, I take a lot of afternoon naps, but very few of them are guilt free. I then spent a couple of hours puttering around my room while sort of half watching an extemely wierd movie called the Devils Rejects which is directed by Rob Zombie. I like slasher flicks, and I don’t have a problem with extremely violent movies. In fact, I rather like them. But Devils Rejects was…for some reason it was odd. Kind of disturbing. Not as disturbing as Hostel (that is a movie that has no redeaming virtues), but close to it.
Late yesterday afternoon I went shopping. Now it is officially the Christmas shopping season but I have to admit I was not shopping for Christmas gifts. I’ve got most of my Christmas shopping done, so I was quite selfishly engaging in retail therapy for myself. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to do that relatively guilt free, and I have to say I enjoyed it.  I bought three computer games that I cannot yet play due to the fact my computer is rather old. However, I’m going to be upgrading within a month or so, so I’ll have them when the new machine get’s here. I bought a new case for my Ipod (and let me just say that Ipods are one of the neatest inventions since the original Sony Walkman), and for some reason I can’t quite yet figure out I bought two small flashlights; one red, and one black. Yep, I bought flashlights in the Gleann Abhann colors. It seemed like a good idea at the time. As did the box of 200 sheet protectors and the box of four three ring binders. SAMS Club can be a dangerous place.
After the shopping spree I ended up at Chuckie Cheese Pizza for the birthday party of one of our local Baronial Members.  I’ve not been in a Chuckie Cheese for close to 15 years, and I can honestly say not much had changed. However, there were a lot of folks there, lots of friends, and while there were no games that anyone over the age of 12 would find interesting, (and there were no games that I enjoyed so much when I was regularly going to arcades), I did have a good time hanging out with friends. I was glad I went, but I do have to admit, the singing rat disturbed me. Greatly.

I have become a traitor to my heritage…..

Jimmy, the musical prophet sang…..
“As the son of a son of a sailor
I went out on the sea for adventure

and Cormac adapted….
“As the son of a son of a farmer
I went south as my dad got smarter”

I am the grandson of an Iowan farmer. Specifically, I am the grandson of an Iowan Turkey  farmer. That’s right, until he retired my grandfather raised turkeys. On average he raised over 100,000 turkeys a year. Needless to say, my family always had a couple of turkeys in the freezer.  I grew up eating turkey. Where most families have turkey once, or maybe twice a year, it was not uncommon for my family to occasionally cook a turkey just to have sandwhich meat. Then, of course, there was also turkey and noodles, turkey soup, turkey steaks (steaks cut of turkey breasts breaded and fried), hundreds of ways to prepare turkey, and all of them mouth wateringly good.
Of course, the turkey was ALWAYS the center of both the Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners. Oh, we had all the side dishes as well: the corn casserole, the green bean casserole, the (disgusting) sweet potato casserole, the home made bread, they were all present, but the bird was the star. What did not feature in our holiday meals was ham. We never had ham at either Thanksgiving or Christmas. In fact, until we moved south when I was 16 my family didn’t eat ham at all, other than as pre-sliced sandwitch meat. Oh sure, occasionally we’d have pork chops, or a pork loin roast, but never a large ham. Kind of odd, but it’s a fact.
Why do I mention all this? Well, let me tell you. For the last three years I’ve been blessed to spend Thanksgiving day with some of the best people on earth, The Members of the House of Three Dragons. Most of the household members gather at Gresch and Chiere’s home, and all of us bring some kind of dish. I make the corn casserole, Luca usually brings a broccoli, rice, and cheese caserole, and there are deserts galore. Gresch usually fries a turkey and (this is what I was getting to) bakes a ham. In fact, we usually have so many people that he fries two turkeys and cooks two hams. Now, the turkey is always good, but, may the souls of my ancestors forgive me, I think I’m finding that I actually like the ham more. I’m sorry Grandpa, but it’s true. I know you are dissapointed in me, but you’ve been disappointed in me since I told you that not only was I not going to become a minister, but I also had no intention of moving back to Nebraska or Iowa.

It’s a day late, I know, but I hope you all had as wonderful a Thankgiving as I did. I hope you were all surrounded by friends and or family.


The Crowning of a King.

What a fantastic weekend. What an amazing time.

My journey to the third Gleann Abhann Coronation began at 2:30 PM on Friday November 16th. I had departed the office promptly at 2:00 PM and was home by 2:20. Thanks to packing up the night before all we had to do was get the tubbies in the back of the truck and go. Jim and Gerald were already loaded when I got home. We were headed south and truckin’.
Long drives can be either excruciatingly boring or they can pass by so quickly that one never notices the time passing. This trip was very much the type that was over far to quickly. Jim Hanno is an SCA newby, only been to four events, but he loves the organization, and Gerald and I spent the time telling stories, answering questions, and the three of us had a great time. We stopped for dinner at a Western Sizzlin in Jackson (a word of advice, skip that particular restaurant), and then continued on to the site. We arrived about 8:30 PM.

We quickly got checked in, got changed, and spent the time before the 10:00 PM court engaged in the time honored SCA technique of hanging out and talking with friends. I am truly blessed in that I can go to any event within Gleann Abhann and find good friends to talk to. Before I knew it it was time for the Prince and Princess’s entourage to line up and process in for Their Majesties 10:00 PM Court. First time I’ve ever had the chance to stand behind the thrones, and it was a different experience.

The purpose of the evening court was to tell THL Uther Von Ziemer that he was going on vigil and would be elevated to the Chivalry on Saturday. The look on his face, oh it was priceless. He has worked so long and so hard for that. I truly cannot think of anyone that would have been a better choice for the first Knight of Gleann Abhann. Judging by the sound of the cheering from the audience they shared the same opinion. At the end of Court Their Majesties Havordh and Mary Grace escorted Uther to the vigil tent, followed by most of the court audience. I stood in line for about 45 minutes before I had the chance to go in and talk with Uther for a couple of minutes. That man has been an inspiration to me for several years, and I was so happy for him.

I spent the rest of the night just talking with folks. Magdalena and I spent several hours trading stories. At times we were joined by her husband Robert, or by Gerald, or any one of many, many others. At sunrise we were drinking coffee and watching the camp slowly wake up. It was time to start preparing for the day.

First step of preparation was changing into the garb I had commissioned from Caitriona for Coronation. Lady Caitriona is a genius with a needle, thread, and sewing machine. The garb she made for me looked great. It is not often that I feel that I look good, but I did that day.

Soon it was time for Havordh and Mary Grace to step down and for Padruig and Linnet to assume the thrones. Because I was part of the entourage that was marching with Her Majesty Linnet I didn’t see His Majesty Padruigs part of the ceremony, and I wish I had. From what I’ve been told it was well done. I know her part was impressive. The morning court saw the presentation of some well deserved awards but the most special part of it was seeing Uther’s elevation. Damn, that was cool.

The rest of the day was spent attending to their Majesties. It was a different kind of work, or service than I’ve ever done before, but I enjoyed it. I’m going to enjoy being part of their entourage. The royal lunch was followed by moving thrones to the field so that they could watch the various champions tournaments. Then it was time to move thrones back to the hall and prepare for the afternoon court. During that afternoon court there were some more well deserved awards given and some truly impressive presentations of gifts. Then clear the thrones out and set up for feast. Feast was very good, particularly the stuffed pork loin. After feast back to the cabin to change and prepare for the Revel. The lady that set up the decorations for the Revel did a beautiful job of decorating the hall. I admit, I didn’t stay long at the ball as I’m not much for dancing. More time was spent hanging out, and before I knew it I found myself back at the cabin. It was midnight, and I was dead on my feet. Time to go bed.

Sunday morning I woke up early and went searching for coffee. Fortunately there was a huge pot of it going in the main hall. I got some coffee, and some breakfast. While Their Majesties conducted their Curia most of the members of the entourage started loading up the trailer with all the kingdom property: thrones, banners, pavillion, something like seven different swords of state, feast gear, list ropes, etc. etc. Add to that what seemed like two tons of gifts, and it all took a while. But the work was split up among several people, and it all went quickly. All to soon we were done, and it was time to get on the road for home. Another great event was over.


It’s only Wednesday……this is not good

  ” There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ship’s smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re sayin’ ”

It’s only Wednesday, but already this has been a strange damn week. Tuesday I got sent home from work after two hours. I was coughing and hacking so hard that I couldn’t talk for more than a minute at a time. Unfortunately my job kind of depends on my ability to talk. So, I went home. The coughing calmed down rather dramatically late Tuesday night, so I thought I’d be able to go into work tonight, but I developed a toothache that was/is trying to kill me.
See, on Sunday I had managed to break off a part of one of my molars. The molar in question was mostly filling anyway, and the inner corner of it broke off. It didn’t hurt Sunday or Monday. Started hurting last night. Hurt worse today. I can’t get in to see my dentist until tomorrow. So, I called in sick to work again today. I was able to get into the dentist long enough today to get an x-ray done and be told I need a crown. What frigging joy. I hate, I mean seriously hate dentists. What kind of person wants to make their living with their hands in someone else’s mouth? Fortunately I have dental insurance, but the damn crown is still going to cost me around 450.00.  So, a .75 cent bag of KC Masterpiece potato chips is going to end up costing me 450.00, plus at least an hour or two worth of agony in the dental chair of torture. Did I mention this theory I have that dentists are all escaped nazi war criminals?
All in all, I guess you could say I’m really, really looking forward to the weekend. This weekend will see the crowning of Gleann Abhann’s third King and Queen; Earl Sir Padruig dubh Chlogad and Countess Linnet Macleod. I got to talk to Linnet a bit today. I was just checking to see if there is anything I could do to help her prepare in the last couple of days, as  a good protege should. I was informed that she is more or less prepared for everything at this point, but she would really need my help once this weekend was over and they were actually the sitting royals. I’m looking forward to this, I’ve never been part of an entourage before. Should be an interesting to see a different part of the Society. A chance to serve in a different, and new (to me, anyway) manner.