ursula: (Default)
The Gift in Sixteenth-Century France reads like two books: one is a theoretical exploration of the way gifts function in societies, in a "mode" parallel to the economic exchange of money and goods, and the other is a collection of details about everyday (and elite) life in early modern France. From the reenactment perspective, the details (followed through the bibliography) are a treasure-house of potential: étrennes are presents given at New Year's, usually to children and servants, but étrennes might also be poems for friends or patrons; Gaspard de Saillans wore his fiancé's blue taffeta garter tied about his neck. The discussions of patronage and the theology of gifts are interesting but incomplete: each could be a book of its own, mayhap is somewhere else in Natalie Zemon Davis' work.

Book One and Book Two of The Power of One by Bruce Courtenay each end with revenge, or perhaps it would be better to say cosmic retribution. I would have preferred less tidiness, a more sprawling bittersweet conclusion. From scene to scene the story, about coming of age in 1940s South Africa, revels in mess; shit, blood, and casual racism are taken in stride, while sadism requires intricate resistance.
ursula: (bear)
[livejournal.com profile] ornerie wrote:

I wanna see photos of the dress!!! :D

In fact, there were several layers of dress.

dresses )
ursula: (bear)
I told [livejournal.com profile] gwacie:

We could play the [livejournal.com profile] reasie game. What do you want to hear about first? Ceremony? Food? Clothes? People? Wise advice?

She replied:

Start with the vigil :) Did you do a formal vigil? With a tent and things?

The question itself makes for an interesting bit of inter-kingdom anthropology: if I hadn't talked to [livejournal.com profile] sue_n_julia, I might not know what you mean about the tent. Vigils in An Tir are pretty free-form: usually there's a spread of food and the opportunity to talk to the person on vigil, sometimes in private, sometimes in a big group, but there's no real standard, and no requirement to keep non-peers from hearing the secret knowledge. "Formal" to me means "research vigils for knighthood and do the rituals involving a formal bath and clothing of a certain color". Since I was basing my ceremony on the Golden Fleece ceremony, and members of knightly orders were already knights, I didn't feel the need for the ritual bath. Instead, I made lots and lots of food.

food, people, advice )
ursula: (bear)
Spring Thing is Sunday afternoon in Sylvan Theater on the UW campus. This is the college SCA group's annual "hang out in the park and give an award" event. Please come!
ursula: (bear)
My Laurel elevation will be Saturday afternoon at June Faire. Right now, royal court is scheduled for 4:30 PM. Following [livejournal.com profile] aelfgyfu's example (twice is a tradition, right?) the 'vigil' will be in the early afternoon. It will involve fifteenth-century snacks, some hemming, and the wisdom of peers. Carousal will follow court.

Please let me know if you can make it, if you want to camp with us, if you need a ride, and if you'd be willing to bring food and drink.
ursula: (bear)
I have a beautiful scroll which needs to be signed by Thorin & Dagmaer. Their designated signature-forging-scribe lives in Portland, and we haven't managed to connect. Would somebody be willing to put me in touch with [livejournal.com profile] parlor_games directly?
ursula: (bear)
It's now confirmed: my Laurel ceremony will be at June Faire, which runs May 30-June 1 in Port Gamble, WA, a ferry ride from Seattle. If you've never been to an SCA event and are at all curious, you should come to this one: it's a demo in the daytime, so there's lots of stuff geared toward new people and the general public, and in the evening there will be a party. If you're already in the SCA, then you know you should come.
ursula: (bear)
As of final court at Kingdom Arts & Sciences, I'm on vigil for membership in the Order of the Laurel (the SCA's highest arts and sciences honour, if you're not familiar with this stuff). [livejournal.com profile] glasseye and I had already checked out of the hotel, so [livejournal.com profile] aelfgyfu had to lure us to court ("It's just in fifteen minutes! We're only waiting for Her Majesty to make a phone call, no, you probably don't want to walk past her right now . . .") and thrust a tunic at me.

Now I have to plan a ceremony. I'm thinking I will research actual induction ceremonies for fifteenth-century knightly orders. Things to do:

  • Talk to Their Majesties and choose a date for the ceremony between now and July Coronation. (June Faire?)
  • Write a poem for Their Majesties.
  • Get my hands on a copy of the statutes of the Order of the Golden Fleece (Boulton says they discuss the induction of a new member at some length), and translate the relevant sections.
  • Think about clothing. (Some women wore the regalia of the Order of the Garter; can I find a picture?) Anyone want to help me sew a mantle?
  • Scroll? (As a "copy of the statutes of the Order"?)
  • Talk to [livejournal.com profile] glasseye about "admission fee" (part of admission to the Orders of the Garter, Golden Fleece, etc.)
  • Party!

on passion

Dec. 11th, 2007 12:03 pm
ursula: (bear)
In a conversation about SCA recognition, [livejournal.com profile] ayeshadream wrote:

    I had a deep discussion with a friend about this the other weekend who was visibly upset about how a competition turned out. I said so long as they do what they're passionate about then nothing else matters.

"Follow your passion" is fairly common advice in the SCA, in any small-liberal-artsy context, in life. I find it mildly alienating. I am never that certain about my emotions, nor that focused in my enthusiasms. Of course there are broad themes (playing into my SCA activities are affinities for grammar, for checking out too many library books, for teaching, writing, repetitive crafts), but I know full well that there are all sorts of ways to satisfy my interests. There's an alternate world where I quilt, run the website for a small literary journal, and study classical Chinese poetry, and I'm perfectly happy there.

I use the SCA like a lens. I'm motivated by conversation, by the gaps in conversation, and sometimes (I admit) by the wish to show off. I enjoy formal competitions, because they provide structure, deadlines, concrete goals. And you know what? I do want to be a Laurel when I grow up. I don't want to be a Laurel to the exclusion of sanity, or a real job, or rereading Jane Austen and petting the cats. But sometimes a little bit of ambition can be useful.
ursula: (bear)
Here are the results from my earlier poll on criteria for name comparisons. I've included information about the rules as they currently stand, and put a group in bold if its response agreed with the current rules.

poll results )

Unsurprisingly, heralds are more likely to agree with the rules as they currently stand. For cases like Hob vs. Robert, this makes sense: onomastics geeks are more likely to know and care that Hob is a nickname for Robert. But why do Ronald and Donald seem too similar to some heralds, and easily distinguishable to everyone else? My hypothesis is that most people consider similarity in sound and similarity of meaning together: if two names sound similar and could be construed as two different descriptions of the same person, a conflict seems reasonable. The Rules for Submissions say there's a conflict if two names sound too similar or come too close in meaning.
ursula: (bear)
Just in case you're not aware of this, the SCA registers names. The SCA guarantees that a registered name will be "unique": of course, the meaning of unique is a complicated issue, especially when we're talking about plausible names for medieval people.

This is a poll about what you think uniqueness ought to mean. This is not a poll about whether names should be unique, nor is it a quiz on the rules as they currently stand; it's a philosophical exercise.

[Poll #1098571]
ursula: (sheep)
Questions from [livejournal.com profile] slysidonia. Comment if you'd like five of your very own.


1. Who are your favorite Poets and why?

Horace, for versatility, audacity, lyricism by definition . . . I'm taking a graduate poetry workshop right now, which makes me very aware of how much I don't know about poetry in English. One measure might be whose books are prominent on my shelves: Theodore Roethke, Ted Hughes, Elizabeth Bishop, John Donne. Another measure of allegiances is the list of poets I am meaning to read, or read more of: Pope, Milton, Louise Glück, Wordsworth, Alcuin, Venantius Fortunatus.

(If you wanted a poem, here's a pretty hilarious example of how *not* to critique poetry: assume that the poet means everything the speaker says, even when the speaker is a flower.)

2. Why did you join the SCA and what keeps you there?

Friends, men with long hair, excuses to make stuff; to which I now add, excuses to get weird books out of the library. I like the worldwide social network. I like being appreciated for my academic bent. I like meeting people who have nothing to do with academia.

3. What is your idea of a perfect evening out?

Good food, good drink, good conversation? And for true perfection, there should be absolutely no fretting about transportation: no people who want to drink but have to drive, no taxis getting lost, no anxiety about buses or trains which stop running at a certain time.

4. Tell us about the Hobbies you have.

Let's start with things that aren't hobbies: reading and cooking. To me the word "hobby" has this aura of extraneousness, a suggestion that, no matter how intensely you may be involved, you could substitute a different activity entirely without any real change in self. The hobbyist's approach to food, in particular, I find both fascinating and disconcerting: why, yes, for dinner last night we did make mushroom-lentil soup with chanterelles and organic carrots and garlic and sage and porcini flour (that powdery gold), deglazing the seared mushrooms with red wine, but then it was wet out & I'm sick & we had to eat something.

So what is engrossing and yet extraneous? Right now, knitting and the SCA, I suppose. In some ways, it's more fun to think of potential hobbies: embroidery and folding paper cranes have taken the same space in my life as knitting in the past, along with a bit of netting. Naalbinding? Sprang? Quilting? (Patchwork Ottoman silk star pillow-covers!) Weaving, if I had the space for a loom (tablet-weaving strikes me as privileging the annoying fiddly parts of the operation). Maybe spinning. At the moment, RPGs are more potential than actual hobby, but a good game with the right people could tip me back into obsessiveness, or I could get semi-serious about writing for games. I could edge further into artsy science-fiction fandom, too.

5. What one luxury item would you buy for yourself if you got an unexpected windfall?

I am actually expecting a windfall, in the sense that a substantial fellowship check ought to come my way sometime this quarter; part of that money is earmarked for a new, lighter laptop. So maybe I'd just buy a nicer laptop. Maybe [livejournal.com profile] glasseye and I would have dinner someplace unsuited to a student's budget. Or maybe I would buy a chunk of gold, since suddenly I'm in the market for a ring . . .


Oct. 6th, 2007 08:23 pm
ursula: (bear)

Painted heraldic plate
Originally uploaded by ursulageorges
Does anyone have an image of a fifteenth-century Milanese man?


Here's a plate with [livejournal.com profile] glasseye's heraldry I painted. It doesn't have as many flowers as the original, which gives it an unintended Art Deco effect.
ursula: (bear)
This is the text of a lecture on Boethius' Arithmetic I'm planning to give as a single-entry at Kingdom Bardic. Anyone want to check my translation? The lecture proceeds as a series of glosses on Boethius' text, so you don't need to worry about the statements in italics-- any weirdness in that Latin is his, not mine.

lectura )

and in English )

Entry made public January 2008
ursula: (bear)
"Gorby and the Rats" is a fourteenth-century Persian poem with a strong element of political satire about a cat who decides not to kill a rat because he's full. The rats decide the cat must have changed his eating habits, and seven rat princes bring him a celebratory feast. Here are two descriptions of that feast, from two different translations:

    Gorby and the Rats,
    trans. Omar Pound
    copyright 1972, 1989

    One brought wine,
    the next, a whole roast lamb,
    another, sweet raisins from his estate,
    the fourth, seven dates as big as mice,
    the fifth, a bag of fragrant cheese
    which was to have been his New Year's feast.
    Another thought yoghurt would bring peace
    to his digestion,
    and the seventh, proudest of them all,
    carried above his turbaned brow
    a bowl of great price, heaped with pilaw
    nightingales' wings
    almonds and rice
    decked with sweet lemon rind and spice . . .

    A Tale of Cats and Mice of Obeyd of Zaakan
    trans. Mehdi Nakosteen
    copyright 1971

    One bore upon his palm
    A flagon of the seasoned wine,
    The next a plate of roasted lamb,
    The third a tray of raisins sweet,
    The fourth a plate of Persian dates,
    The fifth a cake of cream-rich cheese,
    The sixth a loaf of whole wheat bread,
    The last of noble chiefs,
    A bowl of saffron rice,
    Well steamed with spice and lemon juice,
    Upheld on head with balanced care.

I don't know why one translation has yoghurt and the other has bread. Nakosteen says in his introduction that he has changed some details to make them more familiar to Western readers, so my best guess is that he believed yoghurt was unfamiliar to everyone except hippies?

I decided to put together a similar feast for Saturday dinner at July Coronation. We brought wine (Shiraz, for the name, though I've no reason to believe the modern version has much to do with Persia. We had an inexpensive Australian version with a penguin on it. It was pretty good for the price), raisins, sugared dates, and goat cheese. I drained the whey from some plain yoghurt and replaced it with a bit of cold water-- this sweetens the taste, and there are a number of Middle Eastern recipes from our period which call for more aggressively drained yoghurt as one of the ingredients. We weren't up to a whole lamb, but [livejournal.com profile] aelfgyfu brought lamb kebabs to grill. The pilaw was the most complicated. Modern Persian pilaw is made by partially cooking the rice, then steaming it with a slurry of butter and yoghurt at the bottom which makes a crunchy crust called tah dig. I've read discussions of sixteenth-century Safavid Persian recipes which mention the partial-cooking technique, but I don't know whether tah dig is modern or not. I decided it was plausibly Timurid-- the fondness for butter in Ottoman cooking seems related to the Ottomans' nomadic roots, and the Timurids likely had similar influences-- and served my pilaw with toasted almonds and with lemon rind slivered and boiled to remove the bitterness. (Next time I'd use more rind-- I only bought one lemon.) Since [livejournal.com profile] glasseye is vegetarian, I didn't worry about nightingales' wings, but roasted chicken or quail might be tasty another time.
ursula: (bear)
[livejournal.com profile] aelfgyfu and [livejournal.com profile] hanksan have just opened The Historic Workshop, an online store selling reproduction Magyar dress ornaments, forged hinges, brass knitting needles, and so on and so forth. In the less-historic recreation category, [livejournal.com profile] sablebadger is selling hand-turned wands.
ursula: (Default)

pink dress, green sleeves
Originally uploaded by ursulageorges.
Here are the sleeves I made (and [livejournal.com profile] pandorasbox' lovely kirtle) at the Feast of Saint Bunstable.

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