Elise Kingston's Journal

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Thursday, July 10th, 2014
5:25 pm - ARRGH!
Today is Thursday. I wasn't supposed to work today. I should have had this morning to a) wash my husband's fighting clothes and b) do birthday party prep. I should have had this afternoon to shop for piñata-fillings, paint a dragon with my son, fold clothes, and mow the lawn.

But no.

I have a bookkeeping client. The client has a project. Actually, they've had the project thrust upon them. I thought it would be easy. I did the initial prep work before Lilies and gave the list to the receptionist/girl friday, fully expecting it be done before I got back. It wasn't. Moreover, the project was not as simple as I first thought due to serious filing deficiencies in the office. All of this translates into me having to go back into said office today and finish work on it some more. I thought it might take me an hour. HA! It took me all day - from 9:15am (when I arrived after dropping Lex at VBS this morning) until 4:45pm when I finally called it quits (minus the half hour where I went back, picked up Lex and bought him a Happy Meal from McDonalds). ARGH!

And I feel really bad for Lex, too, since it meant he was stuck the client's office all afternoon. On the upside, another administrative assistant in the same building had brought in a box of Bionicles that her grandson had outgrown, so at least Lex had something to play with.

Unfortunately, I'm not stressed and rather panicked about getting things done.

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Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
4:34 pm - There will be a Piñata
Two layers of paper mâché down, and a dragonesque form is appearing. I figure I need at least one more. I want it survive being filled with candy, but not too hard to break. Wings and legs will go one next and if I set up a way to post pictures, there may even be blog post!

I love my son.

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Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
1:26 pm - "Lord willing and the creek don't rise"
The above is a stereotypical rural American expression of intentionality. I heard someone say it at Lilies two weeks ago. I'm thinking of it today because it is really coming down out there! This is the second big storm in as many days. Our CrossFit box flooded during yesterday early morning storm. I hope it doesn't do it again today. I stopped at Target yesterday morning and they had fans going in part of the store; apparently they had a little flood, too. Fortunately we did not, neither in the cold room, or around the laundry room drain (the two places I worried about). But thinking about "... and the creek don't rise" part reminded me of a time it did:

When I was at Ozark, I woke up early one Saturday morning because there were voices in the hallway outside my dorm room. That was unusual because (as I suspect continues to be the case), young adults like to be out late on Friday nights and sleep as long as possible on Saturday mornings. I threw back the covers and swung my feet out of bed ... splash! There was a good two inches (at least) of water on the floor! I had a ground floor room in the dorm at the bottom of the hill our campus was built into. From the back door of our dorm we looked across the flats of the soccer fields over to a wooded area and little tributary called "Turkey Creek". The rain the day before had caused to rise, overflow its bank, flood the soccer field and my dorm room. Well, probably a combination of that and water flowing downhill from the parking lot beside Boatman hall - a parking lot with a wooded hill on one end that tended to turn into a shallow, fast-flowing river with any heavy rain. We called it the "Wadi al-Boatman" *Sigh*

The water was already receding outside, but it needed some encouragement inside. Large brooms and industrial fans were brought it and we all got to work. Unfortunately, I had been storing my class notes in a banker's box under the shoe shelf in my closet - on the floor. I had a boyfriend at the time with a third floor room and no roommate. He kindly strung clotheslines back and forth across his room and hung up all my notes to dry.

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Monday, July 7th, 2014
4:37 pm - The Simple Woman's Daybook - Revived
For some time I've been thinking that I had inadvertantly dropped some things out of my 'Daybook', so I today I went back to the source checked. Yeah, I'd dropped a couple. They are restored. So, without further ado:


Outside my window... currently it's bright and sunny (yay, my theme!) BUT it was cloudy and rainy earlier this morning. In fact, I was awoken around 2am by a torrential downpour. Eventually it became a thunderstorm, but it wasn't the thunder that first roused me from slumber. It was just the rain. It took me a minute to realize why that worried me; then I tore downstairs and out to through the garage back door to haul in the futon I'd left on the back deck to air out. Ooops. Returning inside, I heard a most frantic noise. Loki was at the dining room sliding door. He must have slipped out when Ben (our houseguest last night) when out back before retiring for the night. I let him in and then worried about Beo. I called at back the front and back doors and then at the front a second time. He came running out from under the neighbor's trailer. Poor kitty boys.

I am thinking... not terribly cohesively. I'm kind of feeling blah. After the nocturnal cat & futon rescue operations, it took me at least 40 minutes to get back to sleep. However, the thoughts I have are revolving around what to make for supper, what needs to be done for the party on Sunday, about last night's rain, domain names for a blog ...

I am thankful... for a delightful, almost 5-year-old in my house. Today he went to VBS in the morning, laughed with me about exploding a hot dog in the microwave at lunch, read some BOB books, and worked on bead mosaics for well over an hour while singing made up songs. Now's he out on the swingset, still singing. He's really a delight.

In the kitchen... it's mostly clean. theagentx texted me a while ago asking about dinner thoughts. I'm mulling a "meatless Monday" with things I have on hand and won't require shopping.

I am wearing... dark skinny jeans, my Doctor Who/Brave TeeFury shirt, the usual rings, grey cotton socks, silver-tone stud earrings, and my hair is in a single braid. No make up.

I am creating... a blog post! Mwuhahahaha!

I am going... to have to get moving on the party prep for next Sunday. Nobody in town has an How to Train Your Dragon plates or napkins. I'm running with Pinterest ideas! However, there needs to a pinata and I need to make that.

I am wondering... why one friend has such extensive food allergies and if anything can be done. It makes me sad every time I read her posts. She is such a cheerful person in person. I wish I would just make this all disappear for her.

I am reading... still grabbing snatches of The Forest Laird and The Renegade here and there. This afternoon I was flipping through a couple Michael Smith cookbooks looking for inspiration. I also still have both Hold On To Your Kids and The Culturally-Saavy Christian on the go.

I am hoping... the kids all have fun on Sunday.

I am looking forward to... Brouhaha on Saturday and Alexander's party on Sunday afternoon.

I am learning ... well, re-learning, how to naalbind.

Around the house... tomorrow is cleaning day. We finished unloading the trailer on Saturday so we could use it go pick up a new patio table (the old one having sucumbed to the weight of snow falling off the roof last winter). The house is mostly presentable. I do need to sit down and sort paper. The neverending tyranny of little pieces of paper! Unfortunately, on-line stuff is worse for me. Out of sight, out of mind ...

I am pondering... how "pondering" is different from "wondering"

A favorite quote for today... "Authenticity is not about perfection. It's not about right and wrong. It's about the quest. Finding the spirit of the dish. The integrity of doing it the way it's always been done with the same things that have always been used." ~ Michael Smith, Back to Basics
He's writing about risotto, but it occurred to me the sentiment applies to historical costuming as well.

One of my favorite things... archery

A few plans for the rest of the week: Did I mention I'm planning a birthday party? I also want to make a "Hiccup" tunic for Lex for Brouhaha. Wednesday is bookkeeping at Iain's. Lex will be at VBS every morning this week.

A peek into my day... hmmm. I'm not sure what to write here. Isn't the whole thing a peek into my day?

(add your picture here) -- OK, add to my plans for the week setting up a photo account somewhere.

The blog this comes from: http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/

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Saturday, July 5th, 2014
8:50 am - About the 4th
My brother, fox_sejant has a gift for understatement. This was his Facebook post yesterday (yes, I peeked for a few minutes this morning):

"238 years ago a meeting was held. The results of that meeting were ... dramatic."

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Friday, July 4th, 2014
10:03 am - 4th of July
Happy 4th of July to my American friends, stateside and abroad!

Not particularly surprisingly, I have "Yankee Doodle Dandy" stuck in my head and it keeps making me think of my freshman (Grade 9) band teacher, although I can't remember if ever actually played that song in band that year.

The weather is noticeably cooler today. Summer cool. It would have been nice for last weekend, when we were camping, medieval-style, at War of the Trillium! It was nice of the organizers to hire an ice cream truck, but I'm afraid standing in line for an hour to get a cone for my wee boy did me in. I would have been better off without! I think I'm going to suggest that if they do that again next year, they get simpler ice cream: stuff that can be purchased and distributed quickly rather than a long menu of things like root beer floats and banana splits that take a lot of time to prepare, and leave everyone behind the person ordering waiting that much longer in the hot, hot sun. And maybe call the truck for 2 or 3pm, rather than noon.

OK, Alexander & I have an aggressive day of house cleaning planned ... well, at least I do. He's currently "tidying" his room by playing with the wooden tracks he's supposed to be putting away :)

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Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014
4:56 pm - The Three-Legged Stool & What I Don't Know
Once upon a time I had a dream of writing a 12th century costuming book, since, to be honest, there's not really a good one out there. Then I got caught up in all that I don't know and my two binders of notes are sitting in a Hobbit tote bag in the library awaiting the return of motivation.

In the meantime I've recently become re-interested in Norse women's clothing (thank you, Pinterest!). Two weeks ago at Calontir's War of the Lilies, Duchess Lethren & I sought out a class that was ostensibly on different styles of Viking-era women's dress. I thought it sounded like something I had been mulling over, namely how the seemingly ubiquitous Scandinavian style would have varied over the Norse world. Not so much. We excused ourselves after about 15 minutes because the "class" had started with "no one really knows anything" and quickly degenerated to "SCAdians are so much smarter than clothing historians because we experiment". It was very disappointing.

The teacher did have a point: there is very little archaeological textile material to go on. However, the way I see it, making a best conjecture (not just a guess) about what would have been worn in Scandinavia, and Scandinavian-held lands during the Viking era is a three-legged stool: One leg is archaeology. One leg is period art (like the Valkyrie figurines). One leg is written accounts. Take away any one leg and you're pretty shaky.

In some ways, the 12th century aficionado in me is jealous of the Viking age: The archaeology seems so much better! Still, I'm acutely aware of what I don't know. I spent last night re-reading Hilde Thunem's article on the Viking Woman's Apron Dress which Kada (in Storrdatha) has pointed out is a really good distillation of a lot of research. However, even Thunem points out places where she either thinks the source material is unclear, or admits she either may have misunderstood, or simply cannot access original reports because she cannot read German and English is not her first language. I, on the other hand, am limited because of my inability to read any of the Scandinavian languages (Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, or Icelandic). Thunem's article is very helpful, but I think for my own benefit I need to lay out the gaps in my knowledge, as far as I know, and attempt to fill them in, seeking out those who can read the languages to help me when I need it.

How many textile fragments are there?
Where are the fragments from (make a chart)
When are the fragments from (make a chart)
Specify the details of the fragments (size, material, colour, seams, loops, pleating, decoration, etc.)

Then, having done that with the archaeological material, as best I can, I need to chart the visual and textual material as well. Thor Ewing did a nice job of summarizing and narrating some of it, but reading "Viking Clothing" leaves me a lot of questions, too.

Last weekend at Ealdormere's War of the Trillium, I had a conversation with a nice lady named Raven from the Midrealm about some of things. One thing I came away from that conversation with was the idea that maybe it's OK to be creative, to play a bit fast and loose with the style IF you have a solid idea of what you're playing with first and don't mistake a "this looks pretty" reason with "this is from a grave" reason.

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Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
10:08 am - Post Camping Thoughts
We're not going to Pennsic this year, so now that Lilies and Trilliums (I refuse to call it "Trillies") are over, so's my SCA summer camping. That's actually a little sad :(

Now it's time for a little post-game analysis.

1. I have a child. This year he was four year old. Don't forget to pack activities. We own both a Kubb ("Viking skittles") and a Bocce (Italian lawn bowling) set and I didn't think to pack either of them. I did pack the Melissa & Doug ring toss game, but didn't think to take it over to mstress_elianor 's camp when we visited. Planning fail. Also, last year, I brought a craft: some felt cutouts for making animals. I forgot about that this year, but he didn't. It was almost the first thing he asked for after we got the tent set up.

2. I really must make a wider "front porch" for our tent. We're thinking about getting a new pavillion next year, but regardless, a little more hangout space outside would be nice.

2.b. I'm officially tired of the roman wall tent with it's 3' side walls. I hate having to stoop over to reach anything anything not in the center of the tent. I'd say I'm getting old, but frankly, my parents used cabin tents when they were much younger than I am now. I'm going with they 'they were smart; I've been stubborn' card.

3. Also tired of the snap together wire shelving. Short-term solutions aren't meant to be held onto for 10 years! Time to make one of these: http://www.nordicart.net/vikingShelving.html ... or something similar.

4. I really hate water in the bottom of the coolers. I especially hate coffee cream floating in water at the bottom of the coolor. Ick. Must manage that better next year.

5. I need to replace most of my shifts. They're worn out. I guess stuff that's only worn a couple weekends a month, and a couple weeks a year eventually gets worn out, too!

6. I never get to spend as much time on the archery range as I would like. Especially at Trilliums. This year the only time I shot was the Adult/Child shoot with Lex. I think I heard Larisa say that we came in 5th. I did shoot in the Rose Tourney at Lilies, but didn't do as well as I would have liked. I also did the 100 Arrow Shoot again, made it into the tourney, but was eliminated in 4 rounds. Lex only let me take him to the children's range at Lilies once. That disappointed me a little.

OK, Lex is asking for some blueberry water (thanks mstress_elianor for introducing him to Mio!), so I'm going to go take care of him. There may be more thoughts later.

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Monday, June 30th, 2014
6:20 pm - Tunguska Event
Copied from my "Think Geek" e-flyer today:

"Happy 106th anniversary of the Tunguska event

"It took a really long time to write these few sentences, because the Tunguska event is just so awesome, in both senses of the word, that we kept getting sucked in (although we don't buy the Black Hole theory). Scientists are still not quite sure what it was but the current prevailing theory is that the blast was created by a meteor air burst, much like Chelyabinsk event a little over a year ago. Except Chelyabinsk was amateur hour by way of comparison: Tunguska flattened trees over an 800 square mile area and created noctilucent clouds across Europe and Asia, making the skies glow at night. So next time you wish upon a shooting star, request that it doesn't create havoc on Earth."

I just love the last line.

(FYI, for those unfamiliar with the event: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunguska_event)

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12:14 pm - Things That Need to be Done
- unpack the trailer
- wash All The Things
- especially don't forget to give the camp stove a thorough scrubbing. Bacon may be Magical, but Bacon Grease is Evil
- put up the tents and make sure they are thoroughly and completely dry ... but maybe not today because it keeps threatening to storm
- put away All the Things
- buy a new futon
- (dispose of the old one)
- source, acquire, and hang proper blinds in library/guest room
- clean out outgrown clothes from Alexander's dresser & closet
- unpack the last of the books
- sort out boxes in the closet in the office
- move the old dresser into the cleared out closet in the office
- organize the hallway linen closets
- clean out the fridge
- paint the upstairs hallway
- hang SCA scrolls in newly-painted upstairs hallway
- weed what is left of the vegetable garden
- figure out how to encourage groundhog to vacate residence under the deck
- prep for Alexander's party!!! (Pinterest is my friend)

... there may be is more, of course, but these are in front of me now and lists help me focus

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Thursday, June 26th, 2014
11:07 am - 10 Years!

Happy Anniversary to my dear husband, theagentx !

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Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
9:34 pm - Attitude
Years ago, maybe my freshman year, one of my professors used a quote from the motivational speaker Zig Ziglar that has stuck with me:

"Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude."

To be honest, I've never read any of Ziglar's books and I never heard him speak in person (he died two years ago), but I often think of that quote. There have been times when it irked me and times when it was just the reminder I needed that attitude is always a choice.

I was reminded of that quote again today, and was prompted to look Ziglar up. I discovered another quote that seemed particularly apt to a certain pair/trio of related situations that have been on my mind:

"Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining - it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn't solve any problems."

And on that note I'm thankful for certain friends who have choose to take the time on a regular basis to post things that they are thankful for on social media. It's a nice reminder to me to count my blessings as well and not to focus on the broken.

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Thursday, June 12th, 2014
10:32 am - Language Disconnect
Riddle me this:

WHY do online translations from German to English fail so miserably?

I've recently been discovering German re-enactor websites and the Google Translate toolbar always offers to translate them for me (good, because my German is limited to finding the train station, ordering ice cream, saying thanks, and a Christmas carol or two). But what it comes up rarely makes sense. German has rules. English has rules. Tonnes of people speak both. They're related languages for heaven's sake! Why is this such a failure?

... except maybe that blogs don't use "perfect" German (any more than English language blogs use perfect English) and the combination of colloquial speech patterns and possible misspellings accounts for the jumble? Sigh. I don't German well enough to comment, but it's the only thing I can think of.

Today's example:

Das Fragment eines Trägerrocks aus Haithabu hat über dem Abnäher eine Zierflechte aus sechs Fäden in rot und gelb aufgenäht.

Rendered as:

The fragment of a carrier Rocks Hedeby has sewn over the darts a Zierflechte of six strands in red and yellow.

I know that a "trägerrock" is a "hanging dress" or pinafore, in this context the thing America re-enactors call an "apron dress" (and for which the Old Norse term is *probably* "smokkr"). And granted, that is probably specialized vocabulary, but interestingly the title of this entry is "Zierflechte vom Trägerrock aus Haithabu" which Google Translate rendered as "Zierflechte from Sarafan Hedeby" (a sarafan being a traditional Russian dress, similar in some ways to a pinafore or apron dress).

But I still don't know what a "Zierflechte" except to guess from context that it means "braid"

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Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
12:04 pm
“The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.”

― Elie Wiesel

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Monday, June 9th, 2014
10:49 am - On Humility
(What follows is a post I wrote to an SCA Arts & Sciences related email list. The question had been asked, "What degree of humility is expected or desired regarding the practice of art? ... At what point does sharing or talking about one's art become egregious?" This was my response.)

To certain extent, it is a loaded question because there are presumptions about humility and pride which depend greatly on context. I remember when I was very, very new to the SCA hearing someone talking about this very point. They said, if you aspire to be a knight, it's alright to openly say so. People will respond, 'that's a noble goal, go to practice, find someone to help you,' and other encouraging things. If you want to be a Laurel, it's alright to make it known, cautiously. Some people give you the same encouragement as a fighter, others will tell you that should only do art for art's sake. But if you'd like to be Pelican, Don't. Say. Anything.

Humility comes up in discussions for the Grant-Level Orders because it is widely considered a "peer-like quality". After all, Ramond Lull, in his 13th century work, "Libre del Orde de Cauayleriab (The Book of the Order of Chivalry)" includes it among the virtues of a knight. However, it is not a widely examined, or easily agreed up on virtue, either in our Society, or in modern society at large. Humility is given as the opposite of at least three other qualities: pride, hubris, and narcissism. While hubris and narcissism are easily agreed as negatives, pride is difficult because it is one of the those words that can be used both as a positive and a negative. So it might be worth taking a moment to define our terms.

Hubris is scornful, presumptuous pride; pride at someone else's expense. In the original Greek, it referred to actions that shamed or humiliated a victim for the pleasure of the abuser. Today, the word tends to be twinned with a lack of knowledge: either someone (often from a position of power or privilege) who boasts about what they have done without any real idea of how difficult it may be (or have been) for someone without their advantage to do the same thing, or someone who is blinded by their own arrogance, as in the proverb, "Pride goes before a fall." Thus arrogant statements are often dismissed as "hubris".

Narcissism is morbid or excessive self-admiration. It is not necessarily the same as self-promotion, however. Narcissism tends to be characterized not only by bragging (exaggerated self-promotion), but also by a lack of empathy, flattery of those who admire them, and resentment or attacks on those who fail to admire them.

Which brings us to pride. While, the first definition that Webster's gives for "pride" is "excessive self-esteem", it also gives, "proper self-respect", and "a sense of satisfaction in one's achievements, etc." So, if humility is a lack of hubris and narcissism, it could be argued that humility is, in fact, pride in the final sense given by my dictionary (I am, of course, ignoring the definition of a familial group of lions).

Interestingly, "Le Ordene de Chevalrie (The Ordination of Knighthood)", an anonymous French work contemporary with Lull, uses the term "simpleness" rather than "humility" which reminds me of a quote from C.S. Lewis (written during World War II):

"Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all."

So to answer your question, I think humility - true humility and not mere silence, or self-depreciation - is essential to the practice of art. It's a true estimation of what we have accomplished, whether good ... or not so good (yet). By all means share, that is what art is for! And talk about it? Of course! BUT with a sense of balance and magnanimity. The pride we feel in our art should be what fires our enthusiasm and makes people want to talk to us about it, not anything either pompous or whiney that makes people want to run far, far away. At what point does it become egregious? Interesting word, that. Originally it meant "outstanding" but sarcastic use in the 16th century inverted the meaning completely to "conspicuously bad". I'd say talking about one's art shifts from humble pride to egregious pride when it shifts from talking about the work to talking about oneself, or when it shifts from enjoying the accomplishment into narcissistic territory.

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Friday, June 6th, 2014
1:46 pm - Beach Music and Garb
The episode of "Jake & the Neverland Pirates" that Lex watched the other day featured a "the latest sound" music group, which is mostly a joke for the grandparents, I think. This afternoon he bounced around the kitchen while I was making his lunch ad-lib singing "Little Mommy, Little Mommy Girl" in his best early 60s Elvis/surfer do-wap voice, which amused me greatly. He has no idea (yet) who Jan & Dean or the Beach Boys were.

In other news, I'm having my annual, beginning of summer, I-hate-my-garb-and-I-nothing-to-wear (wail!) crisis. I'm sorely tempted to wear a salwar kameez or something else my laurel would consider non-garb to the event tomorrow. theagentx wants some new garb for Lilies which I have promised to make (a couple Bokstens and some brais) so he can go all 14th century with his knight. I also have a couple dresses to make for Moira. I've managed to "fix" a couple hand-me-downs for Lex, so he'll have garb (he actually outgrows his, so new stuff for him is a necessity. Kol has at least 7 perfectly serviceable tunics in the garb closet). I'm guessing my desires for a cotehardie and an archery dress will have to wait.

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Thursday, June 5th, 2014
12:58 pm - Unhappy Gardener
Argh! I just went to put the new tomato cages in the garden and discovered all of the kale, all of the lettuce, all of the broccoli, the parsley and half the carrots, all gone! As well, the peas and cucumbers are chewed off about two inches above the ground, and a new hole has been dug under the back fence. I don't know if I can get replacement plants this late in the season.

In better news, today's green smoothie is nice: collard greens, almond milk, pears and a teaspoon of cinnamon.

... but I really looking forward to using my own kale in my green smoothies. *pout*

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Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014
11:07 am - So I don't forget
Lex pronounces "breakfast" as "brefkisk". It makes me smile.

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11:02 am - Bothered by Coal
I'm bothered by coal this morning. I know much of what I'm feeling is an emotional reaction, but I also don't think I should discount my bother because of the emotional component.

I was watching an episode of "The Guardian", a legal series which was set in Pittsburg, PA, where the central story was about the main character trying to land a mining company as a client. Unfortunately, he discovers a large segment of the seam is on fire, underground, under a town where many of the miners live. One young woman he meets is pregnant, but also has pulmonary cancer, and the decision has to be made to abort the baby in order to start cancer treatments in the hope of saving the mother's life.

I just got so angry and sad watching it. I know it's fiction and they writing is designed to pull on my heartstrings. Still, it reminded me of what I read years ago about the mountaintop removal method of coal extraction. It reminded me of the controversy about the Coopers allowing fracking (hydrolic fracture mining) on the property they own adjacent to the campground where Pennsic is held (and Pennsic is only 45 minutes north of Pittsburg). It reminded me of the woman in Florida who is fighting the city over her right to live "off the grid" (with solar panels and private water filtration system rather than being hooked into public utilities) because apparently doing so isn't "up to code". It reminded me of those angry about wind turbines going up in the western part of Ontario. And it reminded me of the article I read yesterday (thanks to a link via philosophymom about the movie "Noah" (I haven't seen it yet, but apparently one of the evils, among many, that causes The Creator to want to destroy the world is that it's already been destroyed by strip mining).

That last bit is really what caused me sit down and write just now. Apparently some in conservative circles where upset by the movie because of its "hippie environmentalist" messages. I'm not sure I really understand that. Yes, the Bible does say that humankind is to have "dominion" over the earth (in Genesis), but Jesus also said that two commandments sum up the whole Law & Prophets: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and Love your neighbor as yourself. I'm not sure how causing an environmental problem (such as a pollution-generating coal fire) that is going to hurt other people can be ignored while claiming to adhere Jesus's teaching which include loving - caring for - those around us. Being good stewards of our environment and natural resources is part and parcel with loving our neighbors.

I, of course, am using a computer and thus electricity to write this. I hope today's electrons weren't coal generated, but I honestly don't have know way of knowing. As the blackout 11 years ago demonstrated, the grid is widely connected. While a large portion of Ontario's power is hydro, not all of it is, I don't know how much power goes back and forth over our borders. I hate to think that I'm a part, however small, of misery in coal-country.

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Monday, June 2nd, 2014
2:43 pm - A Simple Woman's Daybook
FOR TODAY Monday, June 2, 2014

Outside my window ... it's currently (at 2:27 in the afternoon) partly cloudy with lots and lots cumulus congestus clouds. I thought there were some cumulonimbus clouds early, but I don't see any at the moment. Nevertheless, I am expecting a thunderstorm. We're overdue and it was already 24 degrees Celcius when I took Lex to school at 8:45 this morning.

I am thinking ... about Gotlandic women's clothing of the Viking era ... about making a cotehardie, or four ... about Noah in midrash ... about literacy in the 1st century world ... about re-arranging my vegetable garden ... whether Disney's "Frozen" troubles me or not.

I am thankful ... that almost everything is out of the storage locker.

From the kitchen... Lex & I are on our own for dinner tonight, so I'm thinking sushi.

I am wearing... jeans, a blue T-shirt with shirring at the neckline, my usual rings and necklace, and gold stud earrings with a tiny chip of green glass in each. My hair is pulled back in a scrunchie and I'm barefoot.

I am creating... I decided to go back to basics and I'm trying a threaded-in kivrim pattern on my tablet-weaving loom. I've been having trouble with the pattern.

I am going... to Pikeman's this Saturday.

I am reading... more of The Forest Laird lately. Jack Whyte likes to give a LOT of backstory.

I am hoping... to maintain a good relationship with my son when he grows up.

I am hearing... the intro music for the "Frozen" DVD playing in endless loop. I should really go shut it off.

Around the house... Lex has new playset in the backyard! It's awesome. It also took theagentx , his dad, and his best friend an entire day to build. He says Lex better keep playing in it until he's ready to leave for university :)

A few plans for the rest of the week: Lilies garb (for four of us), archery practice, lots of bookkeeping ... *sigh*

~~ Here's the blog it came from:

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Saturday, May 31st, 2014
11:47 am - Amused
We're cleaning out the garage and of course discovering things.
So my son is currently sweeping the floor ... while wearing a hockey helmet.

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Friday, May 30th, 2014
10:37 am - School as Community vs. Student as Commodity
I'm frustrated today and my title pretty much sums up what I'm frustrated about. The notice that sparked this went up yesterday, but I didn't have time to write yesterday.

My son attends a Montessori Casa program ("Casa" is Montessori-speak for "Kindergarten" - Italian derivation vs. a German one). I picked the Montessori school in part because I like the philosophy of Montessori education, but - bluntly - in large part because they offered a half-day program and I think the Ontario public school's move to full-day kindergarten is misguided and wrong for (most) four-year-olds ("junior kindergarten"). So, along with a group of other parents (and a couple grandparents), I pick my son up at 11:30 each day after his morning of Montessori activities. The children, especially three boys in particular, really need to run - literally run - around for a bit at that point. They are four. So, that's what we usually let them do.

Now, I should mention that this Montessori leases space from a Greek Orthdox church. I believe that the classrooms were originally built as a educational wing for the church, but (like several other churches in the area including St. John's Lutheran) either their population of young families has dwindled significantly, or their approach to Christian education has shifted and they no longer use the space. So the grounds outside the school belong to the church. There is a small paved area right outside the door, then a small hill which descends to the parking lot (about five steps), and then a small grassy strip between the church's parish hall and the parking lot. It's not a big space, but it is enough for a small group of kids who we usually let play for about 15 minutes so (the aforementioned 3 boys, plus two others who aren't quite as energetic, and usually 2 girls).

However, yesterday a notice went up on the door informing us that parents were "socializing" and "not properly" supervising the children and therefore we were instructed to escort the children directly to their cars after dismissal and either go to a park or a private home to socialize. This really rubs me the wrong way. Yes, the parents talk, but I think this is essential to the sense of community that I understand is supposed to be a part of the Montessori way of education. From a Montessori-training website I read things like, "Developing and building a strong sense of community within your Montessori school is essential to the success of the school." Yes, programs (like the cultural night my son's school held, or the end of year picnic) are one way to foster community, but I think it's ill-advised to try to codify "community" to only those sorts of programmed activities. Real community is spontaneous. It is built by parents talking for a few minutes everyday after school. To direct us directly to our cars (to which my mind tends to facetiously add "Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200.") really feels like the school does not want community. They want to treat our children like packaged commodities - who show up, pay tuition, and leave.

Of course, there is the larger reason why we parents let our children run and play together: They need it. And let's be honest. There is not an adjacent park. If we all get in our cars, then that's the moment the rest of the day starts (home, lunch, errands, whatever) and we will all go our separate ways. Those 10-20 minutes right after dismissal are a chance for our children to build community, too. They are in two different classes, so they don't all interact over the course of the morning, and in their classrooms there is a real emphasis on doing your own work, so they don't have a lot of "free" interaction time there either. I love the Montessori encouragement of a child being able to pursue an activity/course of study for as long as they need to to "get it", but there also needs to be a balance to that - time to interact. Given that the families live all over the city, it's not really possible to have that "walking home from school" interaction that I grew up with. That time before we buckle the children in car seats is when it happens and the school is taking it away. This "lab time" when the children interact is vital, I believe. Maria Montessori herself wrote, “We cannot know the consequences of suppressing a child's spontaneity when he is just beginning to be active. We may even suffocate life itself.” (The Montessori Method, pg 88). Spontaneity does not only happen when choosing what book to pick up. It happens in real life, of which the school yard is a microcosm.

As for the "not properly supervised" bit - I take issue with that charge. We are all very conscientious of our children. We DO watch them. We are not ignoring them when we talk. However, children can and do run. They do things quickly. And without the children strapped to a maternal hip, there are always going to be times they do something that a parent cannot prevent, only respond to. Yes, there have been times when the children have run over to the storage trailer (not allowed), but the parents don't "let" them. As soon as it happens, one or more parents respond and corral the kids back. Yes, there have been times when one child pushed another, but again, it's not for lack of parental supervision. The parents (myself included!) always respond and try to use that "teachable moment". In this regard, the "not properly supervised" line really reads to me as "your four-year children are not acting like miniature adults and we don't like that" which bothers me considerably, especially from a school that is supposed to respect children for who they are.

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Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
11:12 am - Super Quick Post
I've fallen out of the Monday Daybook habit. Sorry folks. I'm sure my minutia was riveting. ;-p

It's Tuesday. It's house cleaning day. It's amazing how stuff seems to get dropped/shoved in odd places around the house over the course of a week.

Last Saturday was Ealdormere Crown Tournament. theagentx fought for me. He fought well at first, but unfortunately took a shot from Tiberius in his bad knee that pretty much knocked him out of the tourney. I wore the divestiture garb and got lots of complements, but it was HOT! That's the trouble with silk. I think I understand why saris are draped. My feel-good for the day, however, was giving away garb; Lex's old garb to be specific. I brought a bag with me and found homes for all of it with four other children: larger pants to Evander & Marioun's boy, one tunic to the son of a recent import from An Tir, the three T-shirt tunic/dresses and a pair of tights to a baby girl from StarLeaf Gate, and the remaining three tunics and four pair of smaller pants for Chris' baby who is due in August (it's going to be a boy). Now the problem is that Lex has precisely 3 tunics, one set of hose, and two pair of brais to get him through Lilies. He's not quite big enough for the hand-me-downs from Tatiana yet. So I need to get sewing!

OK. Back to folding laundry and then to pick up to boydle from Montessori. :)

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Friday, May 16th, 2014
1:05 pm - Since I should be sewing ...
I have some sewing I need to get done today, but I've paused to look up a flower detail and while I'm online ...

I've been on Pinterest for I think about two years now. It's kind of cool. However, my experience has changed somewhat recently. A couple months ago I pinned a picture of a particular actor in costume from the TV series "The Vikings". While the costume director on the show takes a lot of liberties (by her own admission), occasionally some of the costumes are quite good. This was one. I pinned it because if I cleaned up the details, it would make a nice, reasonably accurate early-period Norse tunic for SCA use for theagentx . However, my pin has now been re-pinned close to 200 times! Those pins are fairly equally split between costume boards of one sort or another and what can only be described as pin-up boards. Apparently this actor is considered quite a "hottie". Whatever.

However, I like taking a peek at the boards my pins get repinned to - after all, if you raided my Pinterest account, we should obviously be friends! ;-P The costuming boards are wide ranging, with some of them being "The Vikings" specific. However, I've found a gap: theagentx & I were watching an episode a week or so ago (since we don't have cable, we're behind) and an ensemble that the character Helga was wearing caught my eye: it looked like a green wool dress, with elbow-length sleeves over a pink linen underdress. I went looking for a shot of it online and I can't find any! I guess the Vikings-pinners don't care about Helga's roughly historically accurate costumes. They're all enamoured with Lagertha's "shieldmaiden" get-ups. Oh well.

In other news, summer can begin: I've been to Vincenzo's and procured a tin Plantain Coconut Green Rooibos. It makes the BEST iced tea.

I cut the grass in the front yard this morning. A week of rain made it quite thick in places. I might have to take second pass at it once the stalks that got flattened by the mower's wheels pop back up again. I've got the feeling it's going to look rather shaggy by this evening.

Lex has a PA day today and is home. Currently he's busy making Lego "inventions". That makes me smile. I needed to smile. Earlier he threw an absolute fit when I told him he needed to pause his LeapPad game to get his coat and boots on (I needed to pop over to a bookkeeping client because they called with a question) and he spilled my tea all over the end table, carpet and sofa. Good thing we're planning to rip this carpet out because I think it has a permanent stain. Fortunately my embroidery was zipped in a plastic-lined bag. Needless to say, Lex is taking a time-out from the LeapPad for the rest of the day.

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Thursday, May 15th, 2014
7:03 pm - Alexanderism
Holding up a spoon of vegetable soup:
"Mommy, would you hoof on this for me and see if you can un-hot it?"

("Hoof", of course, being his onomatopoeia for the way you blow on something to cool it down.)

I, myself, was not eating the soup. I was feeling righteous for having a green smoothie for the fourth day in a row. But I was willing to oblige.

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