Ragnarok Stole Everyone’s Soul

… But the event’s feast gave EVERYONE life.


First, my thanks:
To Abbey May, Adeline, Adella, Astridr, Johara, and Sarafina — You all are amazing. Without you ladies, feast would have been a hot mess. Instead, we had an incredibly filling meal that really did make everyone’s day. Everyone poured a lot of love into making Feast, and, really, that’s what it’s all about. Sarafina, thank you so much for stepping in when Johara needed to get checked out. I truly appreciate it more than I can properly express.

To Nicolaa, Cartooth, Raja, Sierra, Avery, Ragnil, and Gillianne — Thank you for being incredible servers and putting up with my last minute changes to the order of the menu.

To Siobhan — You are an incredible feast herald, and your colorful words are certainly a boon to any meal! Thank you for being flexible and understanding when I needed to adjust the order of things that went out to ensure everything was properly cooked.

To Cella and Epona — Thank you for both trusting me and also encouraging me to do a feast that was anything but period. Ragnarok is, indeed, the event that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and I’m glad that I was able to live up to that.

To Her Majesty, Katherine Vivian — My thanks is two-fold for you. First, for being the inspiration for this year’s Ragnarok feast. Second, for traveling across the kingdom to visit us in the back 40 of the Midrealm. You’re an incredible person with a lot of heart and soul, and I think I speak for many of us that we would be delighted to have both you and Alric back out here again if ever you feel up to the trip.

To those who attended Ragnarok’s feast — Thank you to everyone who came out and sat feast. Without you, there literally would be no feast. Thank you for the standing ovation for the kitchen crew. I know, for me, it spoke volumes and hit me to the core. It reminded me of why I volunteer to organize feasts.


The Feast Book


(Click the image above to download/read the recipe book.)


My Unabashed Event Report

As I’m sitting at work with a large iced coffee in-hand, I still feel delightfully overwhelmed by the event this weekend. There were so many good points to it, even with the challenges we faced in the final hours leading up to service.

I’ve mentioned this before, but the SCA is my extended family. I have lots of people in the Society that I love a great deal, but, more importantly to me as a Feast Steward, is that I love to cook for these people. My attitude is this towards food and hospitality: If you sit at my table, I want you to know and feel the love and care that goes into each dish. The bits of laughter, of the passion I feel for making sure people don’t leave my table hungry and that everyone is happy with what they’ve had. I mention all of this because it’s so crucial to this weekend’s feast. 64 people got to come in and sit at my table, and my crew and I made sure that everyone was fed until they couldn’t eat any further.

We received a standing ovation for feast. Before that happened, I snuck out of the kitchen, jug of cold water in hand, and sat off to the side, watching everyone chat amongst themselves and eat until they were happy and full. I saw lots of happy, smiling faces across the populace and head table. Lots of empty dishes come back to the kitchen. There is literally no better feeling than knowing you’ve made someone’s day with a good meal.

When the feast crew and the servers were called up, Her Majesty gifted me with a small first aid pouch and a paternoster made with her heraldic colors, and the crew and servers were all given pewter spoons for their service to the feast hall. For me, the first aid kit and paternoster were incredibly thoughtful gifts and definitely tongue-in-cheek, given the events of the day (which we’ll get to later), especially because I’m a first responder and 911 Dispatcher in my mundane life (though she knew neither of these things at the time).

Master Alexander de Seton also gifted me with a small token of an owl carved from rose quartz. I believe the owl is one of his personal symbols, but that it is made out of rose quartz is even more symbolic and special to me, for rose quartz is a stone that embodies love. For me, food is love made tangible.

Leading up to service, we had some things come up that led to some on-the-fly changes that kind of made things a bit more “fun”:
– Over the last year, the site renovated the space, meaning that where there were previously utensils, there were none. Lots of things that needed mixing on Friday night got mixed by hand: sweet potatoes, cornbread mix, chicken marinade, salad.
– The site’s convection oven is dead. As in wouldn’t heat… So, we used a lot of charcoal (8 large bags, to be specific) and 2 bottles of lighter fluid.
– Because we were using the big ass grill next to the hall, we couldn’t entirely control the temperature of it. The bottoms of the cornbread all got charred. Adella had the fantastic idea to ball them (because the cornbread was still moist) and serve them over a bowl of corn.
– Mom’s turkey fryer is woefully small. I could only fry 3-4 pieces of chicken at a time. Johara brought a huge ceramic-lined pot to use, so that got used on top of a portable burner. If this happens again where I need to deep fry things, I’m totally asking Godryck if I can borrow his burner and will be bringing my big 5 gallon stock pot out, too.
– While pulling chicken from the oil pot, Johara got splashed with hot oil on her left hand. We made her go to the ER to get it checked out, so I lost a person. Sarafina happened to be on site as part of Ayreton’s entourage and thankfully stepped in to help us finish the rest of feast before service.
– In the course of “oh shit, we have a lot of chicken to finish”, we ended up finishing the chicken with cooking it off on the grill just to make sure it was fully cooked all the way through. It was. And it was delicious and tender.
– We ran out of white sugar. I seriously underestimated how much sugar we would need for feast, so that was a thing. What ended up happening is that we had some brown sugar left over from making the sweet potatoes, so that went into the sweet tea. It worked.

After service was done and thanks given to the kitchen crew and servers, the kitchen crew went outside to have some of what was left over and, y’know, eat and have fellowship because, in the words of Astridr and Sarafina, this meal took them to church.

I love these people. They made this an amazing experience, even with all of the challenges. And, if that’s not what soul food is about, I don’t know what is.

I Get Around (To Fighter Practice)

Sundays bring with them multiple options for fighter practices: Either head south to Grey Gargoyles, head Northwest to Jaravellir/Northshield, or head Northeast to Ravenslake.

Today, mostly because I knew I was mildly low on spoons after work last night, I chose to go Northeast to Ravenslake. And I’m glad I did. I haven’t been up to Jara’s practice (yet), but every practice I go to offers something different. Today was mainly working on polearm with a bit of endurance tossed in. All told, I was in armor for about 2 hours. I know that doesn’t seem like much, comparatively, but it was decent for me. I tried a new option for fighting garb (my Carraig Ban coat), and I know I’ll have to wear more padding on my shoulders.

It took a bit to let my headspace disengage from its normally wound coil, but when it did, I moved a lot more smoothly. Even though I still have a lot to learn about fighting polearm before I can authorize in it, I felt comfortable and natural holding it, which hasn’t been a “thing” up until recently. I need to make or buy a new shield. Center grip heater shields are not something I work well with despite that being what I have the most experience with. I think, unless I’m fighting melee, I might switch over to sword or axe and buckler. Tzvi also mentioned maces, which would be a fun weapon to fight with in a melee, as well. And I also need to make my dagger. Still.

Got some good feedback on polearm from both Gintaras and Sir Ix, and it definitely helped, getting to practice putting those skills into play.

So, yeah. All told, good practice.

And, then, after practice, I went out to dinner with most of the folks who were at the meeting and practice. Good conversation, good company, decent food. I stayed out WAY too late, but it was totally worth it to spend time with people I don’t get to see often enough.

Building A Better Tiger: Day 1

Starting Weight: 313.2 lbs
Goal Weight: 250 lbs

Starting A1C: 10.1
Goal A1C: 7 or less

So… This is a hard post for me to write. I’m going to start chronicling my journey to become healthier and more fit overall, and that includes some pretty (to me) scathing looks at my lifestyle choices and the like at present.

As much as I’d like to be perfect in how I view my relationship with medicine and food, my lifestyle is anything but. I make poor decisions all the time, often justifying them for this reason or another. I don’t exercise as much as I’d like to, blaming my irregular schedule. I don’t take my medications all the time like I should. My weight keeps ping-ponging between 305 and 315 pounds, and hasn’t dipped below 300 in quite a few years. I hate how my work shirt hangs on my body and hugs every little curve.

For the last 4-6 weeks, I’ve been excitedly awaiting June 1st to switch my diet over to a low carb, high protein diet… And I did nothing tangible to prep for the day. I mean, I did, but there’s no solid plan right now. I’m kind of just flying by the seat of my pants. My sleep schedule was also thrown off yesterday, too, which doesn’t help matters. So it goes. Today is a new day and an opportunity to do better.

I have mixed feelings about gyms and exercise. I do currently have a gym membership with Planet Fitness, mostly because they are one of the cheaper options out there AND they have an incredibly strong culture of not being judgmental. However, they are also 30ish minutes away from home. I’ve been only twice. I keep thinking about discontinuing my membership there because I’m not using the facilities that I’m paying for, but at $20/month, I can justify keeping it. Maybe I’ll get off my tail and go sometime. My main goal, right now, is to keep working on the Zombies, Run! Couch to 5K program that I started. It’s something that I can do in the mornings right after work on either East or West Campus, plus I like listening to Danheim while running/walking with it. So, that’s what I’ll be doing in the months leading up to Pennsic.

Heavy Fighting. This is something else I keep having mixed feelings about. My headspace isn’t where I need it to be when I fight. I know that’s mostly due to not going to practices consistently. I need to figure out a fighting schedule that works for me, whether it’s going to the Grey Gargoyles/Clovenshield Fighter Practice or going to the local Carraig Ban practice. I miss Wednesday night practice, too, but with working Wednesday nights, it’s not really a viable option right now.

Food. For the most part, I try to make good food choices, even when I eat out. It’s hard, though. I’ve got a sweet tooth, and I know it. It’s also difficult to commit the time to doing meal prep each week… But it’s something I need to do to ensure this venture is successful. Portioning, I know, is key. Something else for me to work on. I also REALLY need to start using MyFitnessPal more consistently. I did really well the last time I did… I’m also considering doing the subscription for it so I can track my carbs more easily.

Medications. Generally, I’m pretty good about taking my medications. However, I’m not, also. I often ignore taking my medications on my days off. It’s a bad habit that I need to break. I may need to start using a pill organizer to make sure I’m keeping up on that. I hate taking my insulin, too. Actually, I hate using a needle on myself. It hurts more often than not. I do want to talk to folks and see about getting a Continuous Glucose Monitor so I can keep better track of that.

So, there’s all that. There’s a lot of things I need to work on overcoming to be successful in this venture, but I’m confident I can do it. Hopefully.

There’s also a headspace component to this because I’m basically flying solo in this. Support is distant (literally), so that’s a bit difficult to deal with, but it is what it is. Onward and forward.

The Chains That Bind — Part II

 

The other night, I finished the squire’s chain that I had been working on, made from the remnants of a spool of aluminum that I didn’t just want to get rid of, and posted this on Facebook as a comment to my Knight, Sabah:

Sabah, I’ll be handing this off to you at Ragnarok. Feel free to either give it to one of my house brothers who may not have a squire’s chain yet or keep it for whenever we formalize our mentor-dependent relationship.

In either case, it is made of imperfect rings to symbolize that we are all flawed in some way and will have many lessons to learn on the path of Chivalry.

The rings are all hand cut and formed by me, representative of the work and passion that goes into the path to becoming a fighter and person worth being recognized by the Chivalry.

The chain is light, but still bears weight to remind the bearer that one should be mindful of their deeds, words, and actions.

Sabah also requested that I make a segment for him to give to one of his Men-At-Arms who lost their chain on the first day it was given to them, which I have and is now sitting in a bag waiting to be given to him with the necklace.

The Chains That Bind

Sir Kith made a post the other day about a set of Knight’s chains that have imperfect links, symbolizing that those who have become members of the Chivalry still have flaws because they are human, not Gods, and still have opportunities to learn.

I’ve picked up chainmail as yet another skill in my lexicon of things I do in the SCA. As I’m making this chain, it is filled with little imperfections: links that may not close completely, some small burrs (that will eventually get filed or tumbled off), nicks and scrapes to the rings from me working them, imperfect cuts due to them being coiled and cut by hand.

This has become a personal project of passion for me. A squire’s chain that represents the lessons and reminders that the wearer (be it myself or another) will learn on the path to Knighthood.

A Year As A Willow

I wrote this post a year ago after an incredibly long, exhausting weekend. I should have probably posted this a year ago, but I didn’t think about it then.

I’ve also been somewhat inspired by Andreas/Drew at http://www.apapermuse.com and his SCA posts to start chronicling my more notable SCA experiences.


It never fails that I am called into court for whatever reason while I’m running around during feast prep. It’s becoming a “thing”.

Mid-stride, while returning to the kitchen from stirring carrots for feast, I hear my name called, so I drop the raised foot, pivot, and approach the dais and give proper respect to the assembled Baronages and kneel in front of Rachel, who is holding a Regency Court for Their Majesties William and Isolde. Cue Drew grinning with mischief and Aggie, Jeff, and Epona all looking at me. There is no doubt that I am loved and appreciated, and the feeling is reciprocated in spades.

I was inducted into the Order of the Willow, an armigerous award order for those who have “demonstrated proficiency, but not yet mastery of one of the peaceful arts” in the SCA, the medieval reenactment organization I spend most of my free time with.

I’m not sure if you can see it in the scan, but the open book says “We Love You” on it. When I finally got to thoroughly look at the scroll after feast was done and everything was being broken down, I about cried when I saw that. The SCA has been a ridiculously positive influence on my life, and I’m glad that I’m able to pay that back and forward.

I love you guys, too.

Words by THL Andreas Blacwode/ Drew Nicholson.
Calligraphy and Illumination by THL Gillianne/ Christine Wallrich

Let’s Talk About Goals (In the SCA)

I recently shared a post on my Facebook about goals in the SCA and mentioned that I should really write mine down at some point.

So, here we go:
– I strive to be as prow as the Knight. Confident in my abilities as a fighter both on the list and on the field. Striving to be better than the previous day, always looking for new people to learn from and to be challenged by. Recognizing that injuries and illnesses are part of life and that my body needs rest just as it needs to be worked.

– I want to be as giving as the Pelican. Willing to lend a hand where I see it needs being lent AND also knowing when it is better to let someone else help out instead. Knowing when to take a breath and delegate to ensure that the thing gets done and someone else gets the experiences I have had.

– I want to be full of knowledge like the Laurel. Constantly seeking new ways to do things. Always learning something new and dabbling in it enough to know if I want to do it more often. Being willing to teach as readily as I am willing to learn.

– I want to be as graceful as the Master of Defense. Recognizing that one needs to be flexible in our ever-changing Society. Representing the underdog among equals.

Ultimately, I simply strive to be better than I was the previous day. That I can continue to learn from my mistakes, learn new things, and can work towards enriching the SCA and playing the game the ways that I know how.

Rumchata Cheesecake

Ingredients:

150 ml of Rumchata

12 oz bag of white chocolate chips

2 Prepared Graham Cracker Crusts

Prepared Cheesecake Base (Philadelphia makes a fantastic one)

Extra Creamy Cool Whip

Cinnamon Sugar to garnish

Instructions:

1. Set up a double boiler using a heavy pot and a Pyrex bowl. Fill the pot approx. 1/3 with water and heat water to just below boiling.  In the bowl, place your chips and 100 ml of Rumchata. Place the bowl over the pot. As the chips begin to melt down, stir the Rumchata and chips together, creating a smooth mixture.

2. Pour half of the ganache in each crust, spreading so that it creates an even layer, then place in the fridge to set for 20 minutes.

3. While the ganache is setting, add your remaining Rumchata to the Cool Whip and stir to blend. Put aside in the fridge until ready to add it.

4. Once the ganache has set (it shouldn’t move about easily if the pan is tilted), add half of the cheesecake base to each crust and spread so it creates an even layer.

5. Add half the Cool Whip to the top of each cheesecake, spreading evenly.

6. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over each, and serve or store in the fridge until later.

Letters to Pennsic – Aug 7 2017 (AS 52)

Dear Mistress Acelina,

I must confess that my heart is full of joy and pride at hearing of the chivalry and courtesy that the Dragon’s youngest warriors are displaying, possibly more so than our esteemed Crown. And even more so that you are once more being called to guide them on their journeys! These are exciting times, indeed!

I have been lucky thus far to work with Gareth on training some enthusiastic fighters in Carraig Ban who are slightly younger than myself. Their thirst for battle rivals my own, though I seek more now to temper mine with tenacity rather than simple prowess. I am hoping, too, that I can encourage Sirs Sabah and Robert Downey to come out and assist with their training, for I am certain that their experience will help hone both the blades and minds of those who wish to learn from them.

I visited with Baroness Epona today in her home, which is not far from my own, and she is alive and well. We spoke at length about her upcoming elevation to the Order of the Pelican and I gave her a small token to wear on her chains. I once more conveyed my regret at not being able to attend such a joyous occasion where I would see not only she, but Baron Gareth be recognized for their contributions, but they both understand — the Watch demands me to be present, and present I shall be. Lady Johara also visited during that time, so I was able to enjoy both of their company and see that they both are in relatively good health.

I admit that I was overjoyed to hear that our kingdom’s champions were victorious today in battle. I know that Brynn is excited at the opportunity to fight for the Midrealm as a newly minted Combat Archer, but please ensure that he is properly rested and healed from his injury before he fights. I do not wish for him to enter Valhalla before his time.

You mentioned in your last missive that you are planning on playing one of your instruments this week. Do you have a particular time that you will be performing, or just as the feeling moves you?

My turn on the watch is nearly through. After I sleep for a bit, I shall begin working on new garb for Johara and Sabah, and packing for my own journey later this week.

With all fondness,
Samii

Letters to Pennsic – Aug 5 2017 (AS 52)

Dear Mistress Acelina,

Today was an unseasonably cool and supposedly drizzly day on the Western front. I ended up roasting some carrots and tossing them in a butter and honey whiskey sauce, and roasting off some zucchini and summer squash for lunch earlier since the day called for a heartwarming meal.

I heard from the missives of several others earlier that it was cold and wet at War today. Hopefully, the weather passes into less humid and drier conditions for the armies that are gathering. I hear that there is another day of so of revelry where all parties are at peace before everyone takes up arms.

I must confess that my heart beats with the sound of war drums in my ears and I am longing to stand next to my friends and family and take up arms. But such is the way with fighters, as I’m sure you know. I am passing the time until everyone returns home with crafts and chores. There are scrolls to paint, clothes to sew, leather to tool.

In a week’s time, I will be on my way to curate a market in the Barony of Sternfeld dedicated to the celebration of our animal companions. It will be my last time in this role, and it is bittersweet. However, as I mentioned, the war drums call to my heart and soul, and I shall be able to answer them more readily in future years.

May your days be dry and filled with enjoyment, and I gleefully await your next missive!

Samii