Don’t curse the darkness.

My friend Kat tagged me to come up with a quote for this week’s quote challenge, and since I never (well, almost never) turn down a challenge, I’ve spent the last hour or so thinking about the quote I’d use.

There are so many inspirational and thought provoking quotes to chose from that the task of picking just one is not as easy as I had thought it would be. Should I go with something philisophical? Would something from a song or movie be better? Should I delve into my library and come up with something from a book? Or, should I turn to the words of the few political leaders I have admired?

Well, it was easy to eliminate the words of politicians. There just are not that many I can honestly say I find to be inspirational. Songs and movies were somewhat harder to eliminate as sources. There are literally thousands of those to chose from ( Trust ,me, I keep a file of memorable quotes called Words of Power on my lap top and turn to it often).

In the end I chose a quote from a book; one that I find humorous and thought provoking at the same time.  I chose a quote that I find useful in several different settings. I chose one that  “speaks” to me, and sometimes I wonder what it says about me that I find this quote so powerful. With that introduction, I guess it’s time to reveal the quote;

“Sometimes it’s better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness” Terry Pratchet ( in Men at Arm )

I’ll write my thoughts on this later this week, and since I don ‘t know her, and therefore am interested in learning more about her, I tag the Original Sara to respond to this  quote

It doesn’t terrify me, I just don’t like it, usually.

You know, I’m constantly reminded that life happens even  when you are not paying attention. For example, I was not paying close attention last week when Kat put up the quote for the week’s quote challenge. I make no excuse for my tardiness in this matter. I simply resolve to pay more attention this week.

So, to the quote:

“Experience teaches us that silence terrifies people the most.” ~ Bob Dylan

Now, when I first read that, my initial thought was, “Bob, I do love your music, but after all the drugs you’ve pumped into your body, how can you remember anything you’ve been taught?”

But, that line of thought didn’t really address the quote, so I sat back, lit a cigarette, and thought about it some more.

The first thing I thought was that silence doesn’t terrify me, but I have to admit I don’t like it much. I can’t concentrate in a silent room. When I’m reading, writing, working on any kind of project at all, I need some kind of background sound. As I write this the television is running in the background. I’m not paying any attention to it, but it’s on. Later this evening when I’m assembling components for the Gleann Abhann chains I’m making, I’ll have Pandora Radio playing in the background.
When I try to work without that kind of auditory distraction I end up thinking more about the lack of sound than I do thinking about whatever I’m working on. I tend to get distracted more easily, and I actually spend less time working on the project at hand. However, if I turn on the television, or even better a radio, I can focus better. In fact, I can focus so well that often hours will fly by before I realize how much time has passed. This of course is a good thing, because during those times when I’m really focused I find that I get quite a lot progress made on whatever project I’m working on.
I don’t really know why this is. I think the background noise allows me to block out thoughts of everything but the specific project I’m working on. I know it doesn’t make any kind of logical sense, but it works, and you don’t mess with what works.

My second thought on the subject dealt with silence among people, or groups of people. Again, it doesn’t terrify me, but again, I don’t like it much. If I am in a group of people I’d much rather be talking with them than sitting in silence. I’d much rather be hearing their stories, or learning what their thoughts on a particular subject are and why they have those thoughts. I genuinely like most people (someday I’ll write about those few people I don’t like) and I like learning about people. Now, you can learn a lot about people simply by observing them, but you can learn so much more about people by talking to them.

My third thought went in a slightly different direction. There are times when it is good to be silent. When you are in a theater watching a movie, at Court during an SCA event, or a business meeting of your SCA group (or business meeting of any other organization you may belong to), or to be really broadminded, when other people are talking shut the hell up and listen to what they are saying. I can’t tell you how often I’ve had to bite my tongue in the above situations to stop myself from saying something like, “Excuse me, I know you two are enjoying your private conversation, but I’m trying to listen what the King is saying ( or the Seneschal, or a character in a movie, etc) so would you kindly STFU, please?” OK, I admit it, I have done more or less exactly that on a couple of occasions, but not nearly as often as I have wanted to. This is not rocket science folks; when someone else is talking, you listen, you don’t talk at the same time.

So, those are my thoughts on Bob’s quote. I hate to disagree with the man, but my experience is that silence doesn’t terrify me, I just don’t like it much, except when it is time to be silent.

Let’s talk about Candlemas….

Let’s talk about Candlemas. I don’t have anything particularly interesting to say on the subject of Valentine’s Day, the Winter Olympics, and I don’t have the vocabulary to talk about what a magical feeling it was to watch the Saints win the Superbowl last week, so I think Candlemas is the subject for the day.

Of the four events hosted by Grey Niche each year, Candlemas is the one dedicated to Arts and Sciences. The event is a single day event that features a lot of classes and a regional A&S Faire. This year, in addition to those activities there was also an Apprentice Challenge competition. There is usually no scheduled fighting activities, though there are often classes relating to some aspect of SCA fighting. The event is always held the second weekend in February.

This year’s Candlemas was autocratted by Mistress Vashti and Mistress Arielle, with the feast being handled by THL Zhara. Due to the fact that the entire Kingdom of Gleann Abhann has had an unusual spate of bad weather for the last three weeks, and due to the fact that more snow storms had been forecast for the weekend, we had a fairly large turnout for the event. Right at 10o people past through the Troll station.

The day started when we arrived at the Singleton Community Center about 7:45 AM. M. Vashti showed up about ten minutes later, and we were able to access the hall and class room areas. While Turlaugh set up the Troll station, I helped get tables set up for the A&S competitions, and get the class rooms set up. Once that was done, the events of the day moved quickly.

My class, the Theory and Importance of Site Tokens was at 9:00 AM, and I had a whopping one person show up to take the class. That was actually a good thing since I had never taught the class before. It was a nice, relaxed atmosphere to practice the presentation for the first time. I thought it went well, and afterward Karl, the one student, said I made effective use of my visual aides.  Positive feed back is always a good thing.

I spent the rest of the morning help work troll and doing what I do best, which is talking to people. I saw a lot of people that I hadn’t seen in months. That, for me, is always the magic of an SCA event; talking to people and seeing friends. I’d be very hard put to tell you what I talked about with all those folks, but I can tell you immediately, that I had a good time and that I enjoyed the conversations immensely.

Court was held right before feast, and, as usual with a Grey Niche single day event, the feast was held at lunch time. There were three notable things that occurred at court: Lady Alysia was awarded the Valiant Heart, Lady Johna was admitted to the Order of Denial, and (this should not have been a surprise, but it was) Baron Dagan and Baroness Mahsheed announced that they were stepping down at Beltaine. I hate that, I truly do. Dagan and Mahsheed have been truly wonderful in the role of Baron and Baroness of this group.

The feast was excellent, and the entertainment during feast was truly memorable. His excellency Baron Otto entertained the audience by playing his flute. Duke Sir John the Bearkiller and his “Crunk Boy Chorus” performed the filk “As Period As I Wanna Be”, and His Excellency Dulinn performed “Agincourt”, a truly hilarious filk to the tune of The Battle of New Orleans.

After the feast the classes continued until 4:0o PM. The last activity of the day was announcing the winners of the various competitions. The Apprentice Challenge and the Regional A&S Competition Champion were won by Her Excellency Anastacia (I probably mis-spelled that) from Grey Niche, and the Baron and Baroness Choice was awarded to Katrinka Whitehair from the Blue Flats.

And just like that, there was nothing left but the clean up, and a return to this modern world. Still, for roughly nine hours I was in a better world, with good friends, and I was having a great time. One can’t ask for more than that on a cold Saturday in February.

Looking for a new project

The first day of February, 2010. Jeez, I can’t believe how fast time moves the older I get. When I was a kid, the nine months of the school year took approximately three years to pass. These days nine months seem to go buy in 9 hours. It gets a bit annoying.

February will be a busy month. I have two SCA events I have to attend: Candlemas and Fighter’s Collegium. Candelmas is the first; it is February 13. Candlemas is not exactly my favorite local event; it’s a one day, class intensive A&S event. I prefer weekend events, but it is a LOCA event, and because my group is hosting it, I will go. Hell, I’m even teaching a class, and I will work the event. I think it is important for a group member to support all of his or her local group’s events. I’ve ranted far to often about members not supporting their local groups, so I can’t skip a local event without being a hypocrite.

The class I am going to teach is: The Importance of Site Tokens. I have every site token from every event I’ve attended in the last seven years. Most of them are not all that impressive, some are very impressive, and some are frankly amazing. They are all important, though, not because of what they are, but due to the memories they cause to surface when I look at them. Those three ugly beads on a piece of plain string are a tangible, physical reminder of the very first event I ever attended, Beltaine 2003. Holding this cast metal arrowhead on a cord brings to mind the first ever Hunt For the Prize, the Gleann Abhann live weapons event. This length of finger-loop braiding in black and gold cord? It’s one of many, many tokens my friend Sasha made for the first event I ever autocratted. Yeah, all of these site tokens are special, and when I’m having a bad day, when I’m in a bad mood, I’ll often take a few minutes and just look at my collection of tokens. I’ll pick out one or two, and think about the event where I got them. I’ll think of the tournaments that were fought, the people I met, the stories I heard, and the stories I told. After a few minutes of such reflection I will feel better. I’ll be in a better mood, and therefore better able to deal with whatever I need to deal with.

So, yeah, I think site tokens are important. As an autocrat, I think they should, in some way, reflect the theme of the event, and (this is important) I think they should be cheap. Cheap, however, doesn’t have to mean ugly. While I value all of my collected site tokens, I think that often they are afterthoughts for an autocrat that is dealing with all the other aspects of planning an event. This is unfortunate, because with just a little bit of thought, a little creativity, (don’t forget, our organization’s middle name is “Creative”) truly magnificent site tokens can be found for very little expense. So, that’s what my class is going to talk about: the importance of site tokens, and some cheap, creative ideas for making them.

The last weekend of the month is Fighter’s Collegium. That is going to be held at King’s Arrow Ranch in Lumberton. Not really my favorite site for any event other than Gulf Wars. However, the Grey Niche Gate Construction Crew is going to use that weekend to, hopefully, finish our camp’s Gate. It will be an odd event for me because I will not have any meetings I have to attend, nor any real responsibilities other than to hang out with my friends. I think I’ll have a very good time doing just that. The only thing I have to decide is whether or not I’m going to stay on site, or in a hotel. At this point I’m leaning toward staying in the hotel – the cabins at that site are just not all that impressive.

In other news, I’m looking for a new project. Very shortly I’ll be done with the fund raising project for the Grey Niche Gate. Once that is done, I don’t really have any big projects to work on SCA-wise, and I need one. I get bored when I don’t have a project, and frankly, when I’m bored, I tend to do REALLY stupid things. I’d like to another job for the kingdom, and I’d like to autocrat another event. I would really like to autocrat another kingdom event, but my group only wants to use a site that will not allow us to camp, and they (the group, or, more precisely, the members of the group that show up to vote on event bids) don’t want to travel to better sites to hold events. Since a kingdom event almost requires a site to have both a camping area as well as cabin’s on site, it’s kind of pointless to submit another bid for a site at Piersol. So, I either need to find another local site we can afford, that has cabins, camping areas, a kitchen we can use, a feast hall, good parking, etc, or, I need to find another group that would let me autocrat. Somehow, I think the second option would be easier to do.

What they have in common

I am participating in a “Quote Challenge” that my friend Mistress Sarah cooked up on her blog, Beerwithastraw.com, and the quote for this week is this:

“The best way to learn to be a lady is to see how other ladies do it.” –Mae West

Sarah said she wanted a male perspective, so she tagged me. I’ll have to remember to thank her for that at some point in the future. Yes, she’s due for a very special thanks. Oh well, I do like a challenge.

(Late Thursday night)…..OK, I’ve tried to write this post several times. In fact I’ve written it at least three times now, and I’ve not been satisfied with any of the posts. So, I’m starting again. Over the last 43 years I’ve had the to know several great Ladies. In some ways they were all very different; but when I thought about it, I realized they all shared some of the same characteristics: class, confidence, integrity, generosity, a sense of humor, and a genuine care for people. Each Lady demonstrates these traits in often very different ways, but they all share them.

“Class ” is defined by Dictionary.com as “Elegance of style, taste, and manner “, and that description works. Of course what a Great Plains farmers wife (like say, my Grandmother) considers to be elegant or stylish will be very different from what a women of New Orleans Society would consider elegant (like, say, Mrs. Dawn Murphy), but a whatever her definition, a Lady will act in a manner that shows her view of elegance, taste, and manner. She will do this without thinking about it; it is not something she works at, it is something she IS.

A Lady is confident in any situation. She knows what is going on, what she wants, and has a pretty good idea of how to go about getting it. She is not nervous, skittish, or afraid.

A Lady has a personal integrity that is unquestioned. She is trusted by all because she has proven herself to be trustworthy. Equally importantly, she expects others to do the same. She trusts people until they show they do not deserve to be trusted. What is interesting, because of that trust, most people go out of their way to not lose the trust of a lady. Well, that’s been my experience, at least.

A Lady is generous. I don’t mean just generous with her money, or possessions, but with her time and attention. While financial generosity is nice, the generosity of time and attention is even more important. When dealing with someone a Lady doesn’t make that person feel that she is in a hurry to be doing something else, or to be somewhere else. She devotes her attention to the person before her and makes that person feel important.

A Lady has an infectious sense of humor. She is quick to laugh, and quick to help other people laugh

All of the Ladies I have had the pleasure and honor to know have shared the characteristics I’ve already listed, and they have all shared a genuine care for people. They all like people, all types of people. Because they like people, they devote, their time, attention, generosity, and humor on the people around them. All people, not just their family or friends, but literally everyone. This care for and interest in people is real, and it is rare. People respond to this care. Because they are around someone that so obviously is paying attention to them, is interested in them, people tend to try to be behave better when they are around a Lady. A person in the presence of a Lady tend to cuss less, laugh often , and even people that are normally very shy, tend to talk comfortably and easily. They feel better about themselves, and because they feel better, they try to act better.

As I said at the beginning of this post, any woman that deserves the title of Lady, will display these characteristics in their own way, so it would be kind of difficult to point to any one person and say, “Go, observe her, she is a Lady”. My Grandmother, a woman of the Great Prairie was different in just about every way from Mrs. Murphy. Mrs. Murphy was also very different from Her Excellency Morgana or any of the dozen or so Ladies I’ve known in the SCA. But if you take the time to look beyond the differences, you would, I think see the things these Ladies all had in common.

Easing back into it.

So, I’m going to try maintaining a regular blog again. As my friend Sarah states, Facebook doesn’t really lend itself to communicating anything more complicated than what you are doing right at that moment, and that just doesn’t really appeal to me

I have not been active with this blog since August, but don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you, or myself, with a recap of what I’ve been doing since my last post. Some stuff happened. Some of it was good, some was great, and some of the stuff that happened was not so great. There were some good SCA events, and, of course, the Holidays happened – and they were truly great.

Instead I’m going to focus on looking forward; thinking and writing about what is happening now, what I hope happens in the future.

That is all for the evening.  There will be more in the future.

Cormac

Back in the Corner.

…I open the door slowly and look around. The layer of dust that has settled over everything in the Corner let’s me know just how long I’ve been away. Far, far to long. Oh well, no reason to dwell on it; I’ve been gone, and now I’m back.
I step inside, turn on the lights, and close the door. I drop my bag and get to work. First: fire up Pandora so I’ll have music while I clean. Raise the blinds to let some light shine in. Dust everything. EVERYTHING. Unpack my gear. Take  seat at my desk….

After only four and half months or so, the Bald Man is back. The story continues.