September 3, 2010: Sunday Miscellany

Sunday afternoon, and I feel fine. Well, fine, but kind of odd, actually. You see, I’m not really sure what I should be doing. I’ve had a good day, and I’ve gotten quite a lot done so far.

I woke up early, and started my day i the kitchen. I fried some sausage for breakfast. Next up was setting some chicken pieces out to thaw, and finally I mixed together the ingredients to make Velveeta cheese dip/soup. I’ve had the urge to make that for several weeks, and finally got the needed supplies. Once that was going in the crockpot, I was ready for the second part of my Sunday ritual: The Shaving of the Head.

I took a quick shower, and then it was time to put a fresh blade in the razor, lather up my face and head and go to town. I can’t really describe how good a freshly shaved head feels. What I can describe is how I feel when my head is shaved, and that is, “I feel good”. I try to shave it every weekend, and when I do, I feel better about myself throughout the week.

I spent the next couple of hours doing my weekly review and planning. I’ve been refining that process ever since I first read Getting Things Done by David Allen.  I have found that I need that weekly review and planning time. The Review comes first, and it reminds me of what I had and had not accomplished during the previous week. Knowing that tells me what I need to focus and concentrate on in the coming week.
The next step in the process is spend some time with Google Calendar. Blocking out the hours I’ll be at work is the first step. Then I make a list of any other meetings I want to attend, or tasks that have to be done during the week. These tasks and appointments are listed in the tasks section of Google Calendar. The final step is to copy everything into the notebook I take everywhere with me. I also do a daily review, which is pretty much the same process just on a daily basis.

I spent the afternoon getting reacquainted with several old friends: Jean Valjean, Javert, and the rest of the cast of Les Miserables. You see, about 15 years ago a good friend/arch enemy introduced me to that show, and for the next several years that score and Jimmy Buffet’s music was damn near the only music I to which I would listen. It’s a well known fact that I have a special place in my heart for stories of redemption, and the redemption of Valjean is one of the better stories in that genre. I found the 10th Anniversary version on Itunes and just had to have it. I loaded it on my Ipod and then spent a glorious hour or so outside, just enjoying the weather and listening to great music.

Friday October 1, 2010: Thoughts on Coronation

My plan for this weekend was to attend Coronation. We all know how that plan worked out, but I did spend a lot of time today thinking about the event. Specifically, I was thinking about what makes Coronation such a pleasant event to attend. It is one of the kingdom level events, and that always draws a larger than normal turnout. This means, of course, that when you are at Coronation you get a chance to visit with, talk to, and generally hangout with a larger number of people than you would get to do at a local group event.
All events, once they actually start, follow a set pattern, or rhythm, and Kingdom Events are no different. Tonight people will be arriving on site until quite late, the last will probably come through troll sometime between 1:00 and 2:30 AM. Tomorrow will start with the kitchen crew making breakfast for the attendees, and at some point there will be, probably, a Royal Breakfast. The real activities will start some time around 10:00 with the first of the morning Courts.
Coronation is all about the old, or current, King and Queen stepping down, and the  Prince and Princess stepping up as King and Queen. The ending of  a reign is not a sad thing, but it is an ending. The current Royals will have a final chance to present awards, and quite a lot of those will be given to the royals entourage, or to people that have helped them significantly during their reign. Then, in Gleann Abhann anyway, the King “dies”. Sometimes the Queen as well. Sometimes from poison, sometimes fro foreign assassins, and in the case of Havord’s second or third reign, by members of their own entourage. It’s a great bit of schtick, but it does have a very real symbolic meaning. The Kingdom is without a king. The former Queen, leaves her crown on her throne, and departs along with her entourage, taking with them the former king’s body (usually). At this point the knights of the kingdom come forth to guard the thrones, and the crowns, until the new king is crowned. The knights are the guardians of the kingdom in the absence of a king. The first of the morning Courts is now over.
After a short break, usually just long enough for the Prince and Princess to get changed into their finery and assemble their entourage,  the second morning court will begin. The Prince will approach, occasionally being challenged to their right to the crown by members of the Peerages, or the Kingdom Seneschal.  After asserting his right to the crown, he will crown himself. Next his consort will approach, and she will be crowned as Queen, by the King. Next their entourage will approach, and take their places, and the real work of the second court will begin. That work can best be described as “oath taking”.
The Oath of Fealty is another very important and symbolic part of the SCA, and I’ll go into more detail about it in another post, For now it is enough to say that the oath will be repeated several times tomorrow morning. First the Peerages. Some Kings call each Order separately, some choose to call all three Orders at the same time. Next to take the oath will be the Kingdom Officers, followed by the Landed Barons. Finally, the rest of the people will come forth, take a knee, and take the Oath. Over the years I have taken the Oath of Fealty as a member of an entourage, as a kingdom officer, and as a member of the general population, and in the near future I’ll take it again. Each and every time the experience has been a moving one.
Once the Oath Taking is done, the court will proceed with a few awards, but not a lot of business. Most of the business of the new King and Queen will take place at the afternoon or evening Court.
Once the second Court has concluded, the rest of the day will be taken up with a couple of different tournaments; usually for to chose the King’s Champion, and Queen’s Champion. Of course there is often a number of meetings of various Orders, Peerage Circles, and other groups. But those will be the subject of a different post.

September 29, 2010: A New Plan

Just one more day in this month, and much to my surprise I have to say it has been a pretty good month. I realize in looking back over the goals I set for the year in January that I’ve not gotten anywhere near  attaining those goals. That is Ok, a plan never turns out the way you think it will, and a big part of life is accepting that. So, no, I’m not where I thought I would be, but I have made a great deal of progress, and I am really quite pleased by that.

I have been particularly pleased with the September Face Book theme; posting 3 things a day that make me happy. I won’t claim it was always easy, but so far I have managed to post something every day, and I honestly think it doing so has helped change my outlook. When you are looking for reasons to be happy, they are remarkably easy to find. I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to decide on a theme for October, and I think I’ve decided to pursue a variation of something April suggested: Roctober. Each day I’m going to post a song, and probably part of the lyrics to that song, that inspires me. Or maybe just a song I really like.

I’ve also been trying to decide on a theme for this blog, and I’ve finally decided on a three part theme:

1. Autobiography: One post each week will continue the autobiography I started earlier this week. The project interests me mainly because of all things I realize I don’t know about my family. Don’t get me wrong, I do know a lot, but as I’ve started to write what I know I come to realize what I don’t know. This will give me an excuse to ask some family members some questions.

2. Library: One post each week will be about books; books that I have found to be inspiring, or thought provoking, and in some cases books that have just made me angry. Gods know I’ll never run out of things to write about, as I’ve been in love with books of all kinds since Mrs. Kokendorfer taught me to read in the first grade.

3. SCA: Over the last 8 years the SCA has been a VERY important part of my life. Hell, it’s been my main source of social interaction. I for the last six years I have been pursuing a definite goal, and at this point I am not sure where I stand in pursuit of that goal. I do love the SCA, but sometimes I really, REALLY wonder why. So, I’m going to explore that. Things I love about the SCA an what it represents, and what I don’t like. I’m NOT going to use this as a platform to rant and rave, but I am going to use it as a way to express my thoughts, feelings, and goals. My hope is that doing so will help me gain some clarity.

So, that is the plan for Cormac’s Corner going forward.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The month is coming to an end, and I feel good. I’ve got two days to attain quota at work, and I think I can do it. If I miss it, it won’t be by much. Such is the life of a person in the collections industry.

So, not a lot to talk about tonight. I don’t particularly feel like working on my autobiography; mainly because I need to do a bit of research first. When I started that project the other day, I was amazed at how much about my family I didn’t know. For instance, I know both my maternal and paternal grandmother’s had siblings, but I’m damned if I can tell you the names of any of them. I know my parents met in high school in O’Neil, but I don’t know “how” they met. I wonder if Mom remembers? I’ll have to ask her.

I’m looking forward to the second half of this week; mostly because Coronation is next weekend, and I’m really looking forward to attending that event. I’m looking forward to seeing SCA friends, and spending time in my preferred make believe world, but mostly I’m looking forward to seeing Michele.

On another subject entirely, I’ve enjoyed my September Face Book project of posting 3 things that make me happy each day. I’m now in the process of trying to decide on a similar project for October. I’ve been thinking either listing a book daily, or making the 101 Song Play list, with associate videos. Now that I think about that more, I really like that idea.

I’m also looking for an ongoing theme for this blog. I might do the book subject here. One post each week to be used for the autobiography, one for the autobiography, and one for ….something else. Maybe thoughts on the SCA. That sounds…intriguing. Better yet, books and movies that changed my thinking. Yeah, I like that idea. A lot.

Autobiography 2: O’Neil

In my last post I described how my parents came to be in O’Neil Nebraska. I realized later that I had not described the town itself.  I never actually lived there myself, but I did spend a lot of time there. My family make the drive from Omaha two or three times a year to visit Grandma B (I’ll attempt to describe her in the next post), and while we were there we would not only visit Grandma, but also visit a lot of my parents friends and relatives from their time in O’Neil.

I’ll start with the boring facts of the town. O’Neil Nebraska, the county seat of Holt County, is a town of  of 3700 people according to the 2000 Census. Those people make up just over 970 families. This is a SMALL town. I mean there are apartment complexes here Memphis that have larger populations.

O’Neil was founded by John O’Neil in the late 1870’s, and is the official Irish Capital of Nebraska. To this day they still have a large Saint Patrick’s Day parade and celebration. The town is located near the eastern limits of what could be described as “North Central Nebraska”‘; roughly four hours drive from Omaha.

This is a town dedicated to agriculture, all the businesses in town are dependent, either directly or indirectly, on the agricultural economy.  It is a small, small town, geographically. It is possible, literally to walk from one end of it to the other in a short period of time. Most of the businesses are located on one main street. There is a public highschool and a Catholic high school .  Several small protestant churches, a large Catholic church, a  small hospital,  and the County Court House, and a couple of pubs, and that’s about it.

The most important thing to remember when describing O’Neil is that it is a small town of the High Prairie.  It is located in the Elkhorn River Basin and the town is flat. Very flat. To the west the Sandhills start, but those are long, low, rolling hills. It is possible to see a LONG way down the road. Unlike the the South East, the land is not naturally forested. The only natural tree growth you will find in that part of the country is along streams and rivers.  It is pretty country, but very hard to describe. I’ve been in the south for …..well a lot longer than I would have believed possible, and after all these years I’m still amazed by how claustrophobic I find the land to be. The heavily forested land and frequent hills  of Mississippi, Tennesee , Alabama and Arkansas bring the horizon in way to close. To close for me, anyway. I like to be able to see the sky.

Next time I’ll attempt to describe Grandma Butterfield. What an amazing woman.

Autobiography 1; September 23, 2010

One of the ideas I’ve been thinking about for a while is using this blog to write an autobiography; a way to understand who and what I am by examining where I came from and who I was.  I don’t know if it will be of interest to anyone but me, but I figure, what the hell. I have to write about something, and I am the subject I know best.

Now, this will be MY story. Other people will be described, obviously, but they will be described through my perceptions, and memories. I’ll will be as honest as possible, and I’ll try to be as accurate as possible, but please remember that everything I relate is being shaded by my own point of view.

So, with that in mind, let’s get this story started….

Many years ago, more than I care to remember, when I first started a blog on Live journal I had to enter a description when setting up the profile, and I came up with  this, “I am a Nebraskan refugee currrently living in Memphis. I’m an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, an avid reader, and I appreciate good music, good friends, and good conversation. I do not suffer fools gladly, and do not like those that let others do their thinking for them. The most profound bit of philosophy I have ever heard is this: “If you can make another laugh, you have made the world a better place”. Seven years later, I still think that is a good description. I mention it here because of the first five words, “I am a Nebraskan refugee”.

You see, my family, my people, are not from the South. My people are the people of the Great Prairie of Western Nebraska, and the cornfields of Iowa and Illinois. That’s where the story starts. Specifically, it starts in O’Neil Nebraska, and it starts with my parents.

CormacMom was born in Holt County Nebraska on May 9, 1944.   A t the time  Grandpa and Grandma Butterfield were farmer’s and the family lived approximately 30 miles from O’Neil, which is the largest town in Holt County. When Mom was five or six, to be honest I’m not quite sure how old she was, Grandpa lost the farm and the family moved into O’Neil. Grandpa got a job as  truck driver, hauling gravel for the county, and Grandma (who to this day is one of the most impressive people I’ve ever had the honor to know) took care of the four kids.

CormacDad was born in Havana Illinois, and I quite frankly have no idea what county it’s in. Grandpa Fletcher was a farmer that raised turkeys. Grandpa Fletcher didn’t own his land; he was more a “farm manager”. He  and his family lived on the farm and ran it, made all the decisions, etc, but the farm was owned by someone else. When Dad was 16 his father took a job a similar job for Tri -State farms, and moved to O’Neil.

The stage was now set.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

You know, for not actually leaving the house, and for rarely leaving my computer desk, I’ve had a very productive day. I LIKE productive days. I like feeling like I’ve accomplished something.

I woke up around 6:30 and took my shower. The first load of laundry went into the machine, and I started cooking. Now that I think about my Dad often used to spend an entire day cooking. He would fire up his grill, and cook all day. I didn’t use the grill, but I did make a batch of breakfast burritos, which went into the freezer. Next up one crock pot was loaded with beef tips while another one was loaded with chicken breasts.

While the two crock pots were bubbling away I got busy doing my weekly review and planning. That went remarkably well; I had a remarkably good week last week. I did achieve the largest number of my goals for last week.

Once the chicken was done it got shredded and a batch of Non-Breakfast burritos were made and frozen. When the beef tips and potatoes were done they also got packaged into single serving containers and frozen. I won’t have to cook all week.

I spent the afternoon finishing laundry, and making jewelry.  Oh, and spending a butt load of money. Thanks to the internet one can spend a lot of cash without ever leaving the house. From I Tunes I purchased 3 different Celtic Woman CD’s, and from Amazon a couple of fountain pens, a couple of books, and couple of bottles of ink.

Yeah, it was a good day.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sometimes you just can’t avoid things any longer. This afternoon appears to be one of those times. You see, one of my goals for this week is to write three blog posts. The fact that it is now late Saturday afternoon and I’ve only written one so far kind of indicates that I’m behind schedule. However, as much as I want to accomplish my goals for the week, I really didn’t feel like writing this afternoon.

I’m not real sure why I didn’t want to write today. Maybe because there are to many things I want to write about. I have this idea of writing my autobiography. I even went so far as to use Google Calendar to research what day of the week I was born on. Turns out it was a Monday.  My life began on a Monday. That explains quite a lot. Got some other ideas about the things I’d like to write about as well, just haven’t taken the time to develop them.

Bah. I’m not in the mood to do this today, but , and this is important, I’ve made this blog post, and can mark it off my list.

Wednesday – the Halfway Point

The week is half over, and by all gods great and small, I’ m all right. Hell, I’m better than “all right”, I could say without boasting that I am pretty damn good. Nothing particularly good to write about, but (and this is important) nothing bad either.

So, I was watching episode 2 of the third season of Sons of Anarchy this afternoon (I do SO love TIVO) and I was trying to decide why I like this show so much. It’s a show about an outlaw motor cycle club; the main characters are criminals.  Much like the Shield, The Wire, and The Sopranos, there are no real heroes, and I liked all those shows.

This surprises me, because in all of those shows, none of the main characters are  what would be generally described as “good” people. Society normally doesn’t label men that routinely engage in violence, sell drugs, or illegal guns, as “good” people.

But then I realized that all these shows are about very specific subcultures that exist within the larger culture of our country: the subculture of a mob family, an outlaw motorcycle gang,  a rogue police unit, or, in the case of the Wire an investigative unit and the criminal organization they are investigating.  While the larger society might view the actions of the people within that subculture in a less than positive light, the members of that subculture themselves, have a very, very different set of values.

I don’t really know where I was going with that, but it was an interesting line of thought.

Anyway, the week is half over. My bills are paid, a (very) little bit of money has been deposited in the bank, and the rest of the week is before me. I’ve not logged into my WOW account for almost two weeks, and I’ve been spending the time making jewelry.

I’ve also been consciously avoiding spending money as much as possible. I’ve not bought any snacks from the vending machines at work for five consecutive work days, though I have bought diet cokes: they don’t count as snacks. Of course, if I may brag a little I can say that I’ve limited my spending on diet cokes to one bottle a day, as opposed the four or five I had been drinking. So, thats a good thing.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

It is roughly ten minutes until 7:00 PM on Sunday evening. Another weekend is drawing down, and frankly, it’s been a good weekend. Mind you, I haven’t done much, but what I have done, I have thoroughly enjoyed.
So, what did I do? Well, I stayed up very late Friday night watching the final episodes of NCIS, Season 7. I do truly love that show, and I was impressed by the way the season ended. I took a break to call Michelle and another break to talk to Deahe.
I spent all day Saturday doing two things: Working on jewelry and watching television. That day was dedicated to season one of Sons of Anarchy. Completed two knight’s chains, and experimented with a couple of different weaves. Today, Sunday, was dedicated to finishing my laundry, weekly review and planning, and season 2 of Sons of Anarchy. I couldn’t believe how the season started, and the finale of the season was even more impressive. Like the Shield, and the Wire, SOA is a brutal, brutal show. It’s got a lot of great writing, great acting, etc, but it is just damn brutal. A very interesting portrayal of a definite subculture. Those that live in that subculture have their own code, own definition of what is and is not honorable, but they do live by that code. Most of them try to be honorable according to their culture’s definition of those concepts. Interesting, and thought provoking.