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.

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

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

Letters to Pennsic – Aug 2 2017 (AS 52)

Dear Mistress Acelina:

The weather in Carraig Ban is less ominous than that at War today, though still hot and a touch humid.

I picked up fabric yesterday to start working on my clothes for Fall Crown, though I have zero desire to start working on anything just yet. Not for fear of mis-cutting something (though that’s always a worry), but just simply because the day is quickly getting away from me. It’ll pass and I’ll take care of it eventually.

On my way home, I took some of the less traveled roads between Ayreton and Carraig Ban. The crops will soon be ready for harvest and there appeared to be a lack of bandits. I avoided the waterways, however, for I hear there are tax collectors that prowl the banks relentlessly, or so Sir Sabah has mentioned.

I think that I shall lie down for a bit and maybe take on a bit of cider while I enjoy the last bits of leave that I have until tonight when I am on watch again. Carraig Ban’s towers require constant vigilance in the event that travelers call for aid, and I am grateful that Their Excellencies Hillary and Gareth have allowed me to remain in Her Excellency Epona’s territories and be of service while they sort out their disagreements.

31 Fight Challenge – Fight 1

Today, at the Canton of Rokkehealden’s event Day of Playe 2, I had my first fight of 31.

Many thanks to Siobhan, as MiC, for providing me space to hold the field, and to my friend Zygarr for the first fight of the challenge.

When I arrived on site, I wasn’t sure if I was going to armor up or not. My right shoulder has been bugging me a bit since Tuesday afternoon and I didn’t want to reaggravate it, especially with Swine and Roses coming up next weekend. After a bit of chatting with folks and being prod a bit by both Siobhan and Zygarr, I armored up to fight.

Zygarr just built a new greatsword a couple of weeks prior and wanted to try it out, so I grabbed Nameless (the smaller and lighter of my two greatswords) and we danced. We did 4 rounds of pickups, with each of us taking 2 of the rounds as wins and then having a discussion about greatsword form and headspace following it. Mostly, though, that 20 minutes of fighting did more to restore my confidence in my abilities with my weapons and armor than the last few months of practices have, and that is invaluable to me, especially as I’d faced several bouts of imposter syndrome recently.

1 down, 30 to go.

Be The Knight

There are a lot of things that are swirling about in my head regarding the SCA as of late. It’s where I hang my metaphorical hat when I’m beyond done being a responsible adult and 911 Dispatcher.

The pervasive thought in my head currently has come up because of a parade I’m walking in tomorrow for the 4th of July with some of the Barony of Ayreton members. I asked a question a few days ago: garb or armor? I received responses mostly leaning towards armor, and I agree with them, but for my own reason that representation matters.

To some kid, tomorrow, I’m going to be their knight. And so is my friend, Saraswati.

To some of these kids that will be along the parade path tomorrow, we will represent to them that they can be anything they want to be, even a knight. And that’s huge. That’s what The Dream is about, to me. Being the inspiration to someone when they need it, even if they don’t realize it.

That is why, despite the fact that I am at work tonight and will get zero sleep before the parade, I will armor up tomorrow morning and walk in 80+ degree weather with my Baron and Baroness and members of the Ayreton populace.

Because I’m going to make some kid’s day when they see me in my red tunic, black pants and boots, and silver armor. Because representation matters so very much in this day and age. Because the simple act of me playing the part will give someone hope and make them smile, even if it’s just for a little bit.

So, I’m going to gear up and act like a knight despite being so very far from that goal within the Society.

My Thoughts on Peers

I find it fascinating that many of my SCA friends have been discussing what makes a Peer, or what are Peer-like qualities, at the same time that I am reviewing my own journey thus far and where I want to go from here.

The Peers that I generally tend to affiliate with, I didn’t know were Peers when I met them. They are humble, kind people who don’t need to flaunt their prestige. They’re folks I can share a beer or a glass of wine with over a conversation, and have in many instances.

They’re decent folks themselves and try to encourage others to follow their moral compass for the good of the individual, the Society, and humanity as a whole. They understand that many hands make a task easy (most times).

They’re teachers and students all at once. They seek to expand their knowledge of people, themselves, their craft, and other crafts where they may not show mastery in. They understand that not all lessons come from our elders, and that younger folks have as much to give in their own ways.

They understand that they’re human — they forget, they get angry at times, they hurt, they share joy, they make mistakes, they forgive. And they do not hold the human condition against their fellow person.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As for myself, I personally think I have a while to go before I’m able to competently teach anyone else about my craft (leatherwork), but it’s also fun for me to experiment (see last night’s failed circlet attempt and my first run of my vambraces) and try to figure out what makes things work well. Okay, so that applies to cooking, as well. ;-P

I try to remain humble. While I’m fiercely proud of being recognized by my Barony and Kingdom for the things I’ve done, titles mean jack and squat to me. I’m Samii. Nothing more, nothing less. I know I’ve got a lot to work on and I’ve got miles and years to go on my journey.

I try to remain open to learning and improving. It’s the only way I’ll get better at anything. And, well, though I may be relatively proficient at a few things, I can always find new ways to do them that produce better results or just simply make my life easier.

I try to take experiences with a healthy dose of salt. Even negative experiences offer the silver lining of an opportunity to learn and grow. Crow is often best seasoned with salt and a little beer to wash it down.

I try to remain positive. Always forward. Forward always.