Sunday, March 10, 2019

I'm Moveing

If you haven't figured this out yet, I'm moving to Wordpress. I've also changed the blog's name to An Itinerant Scribe. I think that title better describes what I write. 

Although I've moved everything thing I'm still trying to figure out all the ins and outs over there. To help us all I will leave this site here for a few months. I won't create any new articles here. 

You can be sure I'm not quitting. I'm just moving to a more functional platform. I hope you follow me there. I'll miss you if you don't.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Slowing Down

I'm sorry to write this but I'm slowing down. Going forward you won't see as many posts from me. I have a new job that is taking more time than I expected. And my eyes get fuzzy when I write for too long at one time.

Presbyopia is a drag. 

You'll still to find a post from me here each week. So I'm not leaving you. I'm just slowing down. Hopefully not to a snail's pace.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Making Your SCA Life List

How many times have you sat with your SCA friends listening to stories about their experiences and creations? Did you wonder where they got the idea to do such a thing? How they even began to figure it all out? 

One way to create distinctive life experiences - SCA or otherwise - is to have a Life List. I had never considered one until the idea was given to me at my Laureling vigil. I wasn't even sure what it was.
A collection of scribal works.

Life Lists have been around forever in various forms. Generally, they're similar to the popular Bucket List. But a Life List is more than things to do before you die. It's a game plan for grabbing your dream life. An activities to-do list, each entry tingling and thrilling your thoughts. 

What does a Life List have to do with the SCA? 

Many of us have dreams but fail to write them down. Writing them down takes you a step toward achieving them. In a list, they act as a buttress to strengthen and support you in your purpose. When you struggle with direction or want a personal SCA guide your Life List becomes your compass.

There is no one way to make your Life List. Although it begins with giving yourself time to consider your expectations. What do you want to do in the SCA? To have? To be?

Some entries may be desirable habits like “stay hydrated”. That's a personal ambition to have for a war or even a busy event. A goal, but not something to impel your future efforts. 

A Life List gives you measurable intents often ones not followed by others. Over time it chronicles your adventures and dreams. Those you achieved and those you have yet to do.

What things might you put on your list? 
  • Books you want to read
  • SCA foreign events to attend
  • Craft materials to try
  • Historic places to visit
  • SCA people to know
  • Skills to learn
  • Historic things to recreate

You can try those on for size. Even better come up with your own. Create a list of SCA dreams and experiences you wish to have. Then write down the steps you think you'll need to accomplish each one. Ask yourself "What will you need to learn and how will you do that?" 

Which direction will you take?
As you think this through remember, the idea is to aim high and unbound. Ask yourself “What do I really want to do?” Don't think about your money, family, or ability. This is meant for the future you. Who knows what you will be then. The fewer limits you place on your plans, the better guide you create. 

Still, this is nothing more than a list. There is no pass or fail. Realize though some items may have many steps to reach an end result. Be sure you celebrate each one you accomplish. Tell others what you've achieved. 

Whatever you put on your SCA Life List, remember it’s not a bucket list. It is your list for living. You may even find it leads you in unexpected directions.

Related Prior Post:
Do You Have Creative Goals?

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Easy Does It SCA Scroll Creation From 2018

Last year about this time I gathered together my prior posts I'd written about scroll creation. The post was Easy Does It: SCA Scroll CreationThough I didn't plan it, the posted links round-up made a scroll creation how-to table of contents. And it's been a very popular blog post.

Since then I've added more, In case you missed any, you can see them below. 
Between last year's list and this one, there's a lot to take in. Please realize my offerings are not the only way you can do things. Create your art with your style and skill while striving to make it appear as a long lost page from a medieval illuminated manuscript. And take joy in what you create.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

A "New Craft" Learning Experience

I've told you before that I think each scroll is an experiment because from beginning to end it's a string of options. A learning experience all the way. Well, my "new craft" entry into last week's Baronial Arts and Science's Championship was one also.  

My New Craft Entry
I wanted to make a clove-infused skin-care product from Gervase Markham's 1615 book English Housewife, the chapter "Of Physical Surgery". A recipe I discovered on Metressa Jadwiga Zajaczkowa’s extensive herbcraft information website

"To make an oil which shall make the skin of the hands very smooth, take almonds and beat them to oil, then take whole cloves and put them both together into a glass, and set it in the sun five or six days; then strain it, and with the same anoint your hands every night when you go to bed, and otherwise as you have convenient leisure."

I wondered about Markham’s almond beating thing. How would it compare with simpler infused clove oil production methods? How would the quality compare? I determined to try it out.

I bought slivered almonds and pulverized them with a mortar and pestle for 30 min. Then added 20 crushed cloves putting it into a tightly sealed glass jar. I put this jar on my south-facing window ledge. 

After six days passed when I checked there wasn't any oil to see and definitely none to strain out. I'd planned this to be the guide for some clove infusions. I had high hopes but it didn't work.

I guessed the slivered almonds were compromised during commercial production or in Markham's time they used a different type. So I contacted Lonely Tower’s food and garden ace HL Cristina la Ambeler. She agreed the almonds were a different kind and told me the other type I might use were bitter almonds. So that's what I did. I bought them on Amazon and then repeated the process using them.

The difference between bitter and sweet almonds is 
  • Sweet almonds are produced by the Prunus amygdalus var. Dulcis tree and do not contain poisonous chemicals. 
  • Bitter almonds come from the Prunus amygdalus var. amara tree and contain poisonous hydrocyanic acid (HCN) oils. 
While some people make their own medicine from the bitter almond’s kernel its serious safety concerns mean its use must be controlled. 

After letting the pulverized bitter almond clove mix rest in the sun for six days you could tell there wasn't enough oil to stain out. So another disappointment.

The remaining products would be easier to make because they were oil infusions. Infused oil is made by soaking flavorful plant parts in a solvent such as water, oil or alcohol and leaving its chemical "essence" behind. The term infusion is also the name for the resulting liquid. Infused oils were used in period medicine by soaking plant parts in a solvent for weeks or by heating them gently. 

I next made a simple cold-processed infusion by putting 20 cloves in a small jar and adding two ounces of oil. I used sweet almond oil because it was the closest thing to what you found in Markham's recipe. I placed the small jar in the same, usually sunny window ledge. After six days I strained the oil discarding the cloves. Easy-peasy product creation.

Later I made a heat-processed infusion. I followed the same formula as the cold version except I put the small jar in a crockpot half filled with water to make a temperature controlled double boiler. I set the crockpot on high, checking it frequently for safety sake and let this steep for three hours. I then strained out the cloves. This was a slightly more complex process although it would have been even more so had I done it under medieval-like "cooking" conditions.

For my last product, using two ounces sweet almond oil I added 10 drops of clove essential oil. I closed the jar tightly and shook it well and let it rest overnight. 

That was my first foray into medieval skin care product creation. A comparison experiment where I learned things are not always what they seem. My efforts with Markham’s recipe didn’t go well. The heat and cold clove infusions fared better. And the modern essential oil mixture turned out to be the comparison tool rather than Markham's recipe - as I planned.

Both infusions took on a slight clove aroma and taste. Their moisturizing ability was good as expected from the sweet almond oil. The essential oil method was, of course, the easiest to make and could also be adjusted in strength if you chose. The one I liked the best was the heat infused oil.

This project didn’t turn out at all as I planned. It became an experiment in process comparison rather than that of several medieval products. A learning misadventure.

Related Prior Post:

Related External Source:
You can find this entry's documentation on Google Doc.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Alice In Wonderland Baronial Revel

Potluck delight
Each winter the Lonely Tower holds a cold weather indoor revel to find the Baronial Arts and Science's Champion. To shake our revels up a bit the HL Cristina la Ambeler - organizer and current A&S Champion - gave it an Alice In Wonderland theme too. She asked you to reflect the theme through your period attire or potluck food. 

Competitions are the greatest learning and sharing opportunity you have but at this revel you found more than that. Cristina gave you fun and imagination if you played along. The spread was a sight with delightful sweets for your eyes and palettes including a magical tea sandwich checkerboard.

The Mad Hatter visiting from Mag Mor
visiting with Their Excellencies.

By tradition, the current A&S Champion sets the challenge for the competition. This year the challenge for each entrant was: 
submit two entries–a sample of something you excel at, and a sample of something you are just learning. It doesn’t have to be the first thing you’ve done in this area, but the closer the better.
Cristina did not specify a documentation requirement. In the Baronial newsletter she gave her reason saying:
 “Any art, any skill, is worth the time and effort to engage in. For this reason, I have left off the documentation requirement for the competition in a lure to remind people that there is joy in learning and a thrill in creating, no matter the origin of the exercise."
Because of this year's duo challenges, I chose to enter along with three other creative artisans. Lady Wulfþryð Maynes, Lady Batilda Rabbitt, and Lord William Radulfus. Three competitors with strong entries. A tough challenge for each of us.

Lady Wulfrith's embroidery and block print
 with her handcrafted cheese.

Lady Batilda's handmade beads and cord

Lord Williams gameboard
 and painted picture.

My calligraphy and clove skin-care experiment.

Lord William Rudulfus and his
Lady-wife Krystin i Lund playing a board game.

While the populace members socialized and worked on projects ...

....Cristina with the Baron and Baroness - Augustin le Blind and Aleit de la Thomme - looked at each entry carefully. 

But wait there's still time before court for games and door prizes. Perhaps just to keep you on your toes a search for white rabbits, large and small. And is anyone up for indoor Flamingo Croquet?

By tradition, our revels are highlighted by a Baronial Court. A time Their Excellencies present awards and make announcements. Sadly I missed its photos because I was standing in court too. 

The Baron and Baroness announced their Baronial Fighting Champion would be Sir Bjarm Rorikson. And they asked me to serve as their Arts and Sciences Champion for the coming year. 

That was quite a shock to me. I thought my clove experiment had totally gone awry and tanked my chances. You just never know how a competition challenge will turn out. Or a Baronial Revel for that matter.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

St. Augustine Road Scholar Wrap-Up

Day 5, January 18th, 2019

As expected this day began with the option-heavy catered breakfast. The difference was it would be my last chance to visit with my new Road Scholar friends before leaving for home. It felt like I was leaving family members after a holiday gathering.

Today's speaker was Eddie-Joyce Geyer travel writer and frequent event speaker. She gave us a fun talk - "Hats off to History" - using hats from each era to illustrate the history we'd just explored and learned. A condensed and clarified story of St. Augustine's 450-year history that now absorbed us too.

Eddie-Joyce Geyer is second from the left
each of us wearing one of her hats.

I took this Road Scholar(RS) tour as an experiment to test its tour service quality and to escape Omaha's frozen winter. I was attracted to this one because St. Augustine's history begins before 1600 as does the SCA's focus. This tour didn't disappoint.

St. Augustine is a charming city who's Spanish architecture makes you feel you're visiting a foreign country exploring historic times. It surprised me. I didn't expect St. Augustine's fascinating, diverse history. It is such a lovely town.

The Road Scholar presenters made the tour the great learning adventure it was. They are experts in their fields and have a passion for their expertise. A plus for me was most were reenactors. My favorite speakers were James Bullock, Carl Halbirt and Charles Tingley who stood out for their knowledge and presentation style. 

You learned so much about Henry Flagler the Standard Oil founder and railroad builder, his amazing hotels, churches, and philanthropy. You discovered new historical truths. Did you know St. Augustine's people had a Thanksgiving feast before the pilgrims? Did you know 14 colonies fought in the American Revolution? I didn't before this trip.

But there's more to a tour than speakers and museums. There are organizational necessities too.

Our hotel, the new Courtyard Marriot, was changed on short notice due to water issues requiring the hotel to close for repairs. It was planned to be the quaint Hilton Garden Inn. The Marriot was an extra block away from the beach two blocks from the Atlantic ocean. I still walked there and talked with local people.  And met one friendly black labrador dog. The hotel itself was modern, stylish, and comfortable with our meeting room on site. Although I was slightly disappointed that it only had a shower and no tub.

On this tour, you road small vans to and from the old town center and a trolley for a city tour. The bus trips were short - if the bridge wasn't up - so we made good time-use and saw a lot. Had I chosen a later date the hotel would have been closer to the old city and skip the bridge altogether. But the tour's cost would have been more. 

The daily breakfasts provided you hearty catered selections. And as I've written to you before our main meals were varied and scrumptious with several options from which you chose prior to the day.

Ruth Kurlandsky our tour leader was not a Gen Xer. She was one of us. She even moved to St. Augustine after taking a Road Scholar tour there. She was gracious, patient, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and friendly. And always cared about our personal comfort and safety. One of our members - unfortunately - had a medical emergency. Ruth took the opportunity later to tell us about the Road Scholar Assurance Plan so we knew if you if needed in an emergency medical evacuation or an escort home was provided.

The 28 people on my RS tour were friendly, interesting life-long learners and history explorers. These long-lived 18 singles and 5 couples, 20 women and 8 men mixed, talked and easily shared their life stories. And we came from 11 different states. The long lost family I just met.

I loved my Road Scholar experience and have already scheduled my next trip. I plan to tour Philadelphia with them in October. I still have my flights to schedule because I do that myself, not through RS. I'll be more careful with them than I did for this trip. All my struggles on this adventure were at hub airports, both arriving and departing. 

I'm excited this Road Scholar tour proved this solo Elder Chick can travel and feel safe. It even lets me leave the details to capable, caring experts. Their tours aren't a collection of "Wow, isn't that pretty!" photo op stops. Judging by this one they're well planned and executed learning adventures. This one took you back in time through St. Augustine history. 

I know this has been a different series of posts but I needed something different in my life. Something to lift me from the dreary cold. St. Augustine's magical warmth and milieu was the perfect place. 

Related Prior Post:
Road Scholar Trip To St. Augustine Parts 1 2,  3, and 4.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

St. Augustine Road Scholar Trip - Flagler Day

Day 4, January 17th, 2019

After breakfast and Ruth's usual announcements the morning speaker was Mary Harkness Flagler - known today as Margaret Kaler. Margret is a "Tale Teller of St. Augustine" and as the first Mary Flagler, she told us colorful stories about the life and times of her dear departed husband Henry Flagler

I know this era is way past the SCA pre17th century time period, but history and its material culture are ever fascinating. A few items like those you see here have found their way to my living room showcase. Family heirlooms and personal collectibles.

Henry Morrison Flagler (1830 – 1913) was an American industrialist and a founder of Standard Oil. Through his swanky Florida hotels and their connecting railway, he developed Florida's Atlantic coast.

We then boarded our tour bus for the Lightner Museum with its rich Gilded age exhibits and history, housed in the former Alcazar Hotel built in 1888 by Flagler.

So many fascinating, unique, ostentatious items for you to see. 

Whole rooms restored.

Our docent-led tour ended with a view of the former Alcazar Hotel's swimming pool with its three-story-high ceiling.

View across the pool area.

Today you can dine seated on the floor of the former swimming pool as we did.

I was lucky to have a little free time at the Lightner to photograph more exhibits. I wanted to see their brilliant cut glass exhibit because I have a dozen pieces myself. I had never seen so many sparkling glass items in one place. My picture doesn't do it justice.

I saw those lovely items but when I turned to leave I was astounded to see that many more on another display. Unbelievable to me.

So unbelievable I walked up a floor to get this overhead photo including both displays.

I also ran across this huge lampworked glass item - one of two actually. This photo I took for my glassworking enthusiasts in Calontir.

I took a picture of the Lightner beer stein collection. Another family interest.

And a snap of this odd handmade hooked rug now a wall hanging. Someone had an attitude to actually design and hook this message. 

If you can't see all the letters the rug reads: 
Inlaws are rodents in human guiseWho eat me out of cakes & piesOer hill & vale & rivers & rutsThey gather for dinnerI hate their guts

You may be thinking "that's a lot of pictures of things". And it is. Realize I haven't posted them all and I didn't take all I could. The Lightner Museum is an imposing immense material culture treasure trove. A delight for someone like me who grew up with a few similar items in my house.

View from the Lightner Museum across to Flagler College

After our delicious lunch at the Lightner's Cafe Alcazar - there was no bad food on this trip - we walked a few blocks to the Memorial Presbyterian Church

The church's present sanctuary was given and dedicated by Flagler in 1890 as a memorial to his daughter Jenny Louise Benedict who died from childbirth complications. Flagler and many of his family are entombed in the family mausoleum at the church.

The original church - our docent told us - served more needs within the community than religious service. During the Civil War, the Union army used the building for military purposes resuming weekly services after the war.

She explained the beautifully carved lectern-bell's purpose was to enhance the speaker's volume. It kept the sound closer to the listeners and preventing it flying up to the high vaulted ceiling.

After the church, we walked back to Flager College. On the way, I spotted this cool white bird freely walking on the shrubs unafraid of the people nearby. Wish I knew what it was.

The college once was Flagler's first luxury hotel the Ponce de Leon Hotel. He built it in 1888 in a Spanish Renaissance architectural style - a Moorish, Gothic, and Renaissance elements blend heavy in ornamentation and ostentation.

The entrance garden is lushly green and gorgeous.

The inside is as gilded as the Golden Age comes.

Gilded entrance ceiling.

Our docent explained that back in the day when people checked in the hotel Gentlemen went to pay and Ladies retired to this resplendent salon to relax and refresh. The men paid the bills after all.

Clothing and menus from the day.

Road Scholars in the Flagler College dining hall.

Next, we went to see where the Flagler students and bygone guests dined.

More gilding, but note the heraldic arms on the ceiling over the windows. 

The ceiling in the next hall is just as ornamentally amazing.

The Hotel Ponce de Leon served eighty years as a luxury resort hotel and Florida tourist mecca. Its role was impressive then. Today this gorgeous place is a college and heritage tourism site continuing its impact on our nation daily.

We caught our ride back to the hotel to rest a bit before another wonderful evening meal at La Cocina International Restaurant. We ate there on our first evening and I anticipated another of their savory meals with relish. It was our tour's last evening meal in St. Augustine together.

Related Prior Post:
Road Scholar Trip To St. Augustine Parts 1 2, and 3

External Related Sources:
General Research Resources
Hotel Ponce de Leon: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of Flagler's Gilded Age Palace

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Road Scholar Trip To St. Augustine Part 3

Day 3: Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

After breakfast, this day began with Dr. Ann Masters interpreting the voices and people of old St. Augustine by her poetry and her talk "Floridanos, Minorcans and Cattle Whip Crackers". She described each group and how they lived lives in such close proximity that they knew each other and their ways. She revealed and then dispelled their cultural myths finishing with the cultural drift found through their marriages. Their lives overlapped to become the heritage roots of St. Augustine today.

Next, we boarded a tour bus for the Fountain of Youth. Not the Harry Potter version. This one is an archeological park located on the original site of the Nation’s oldest city and the area first explored by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513.

On our arrival, we met Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles - known today as James Bullock - who was our walking-tour guide. Bullock is known in Florida for his talk called "Many Flags/Many Colors". As Menendez, he told us about his life and his experiences. 

Menéndez's crew sighted land on August 28th, 1565, the feast day of St. Augustine of Hippo. That was 55 years before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, and 42 years before Jamestown. They landed shortly after founding the settlement they named San Agustín (Saint Augustine) in the former Timucua village of Seloy. The location of the settlement was chosen for its defensibility and proximity to the freshwater artesian spring, The Fountain of Youth. 

If you're in the SCA and looking for a persona connected to the New World you could be a Menéndez's crewmember or a person from San Agustin. Life would be hard for your persona and you probably wouldn't be noble but you'd explore and learn about our early history.

To begin our visit we learned about the water and we each drank from Ponce de Leon's still flowing Fountain

We passed by many exhibits including this Timucuan village where we again saw Aimee Nichols who earlier gave us our first talk on "St. Augustine Before the Europeans' Arrival"

 "This place marks the site of an ancient Indian village called Seloy in the sixteenth century. Archeologists believe after making excavations on the ground that Indians had lived on this site for centuries before Ponce de Leon landed in this vicinity in 1513" as the plaque says.

At every turn, we saw peafowl, both colorful and white. I was fortunate to find this one showing off in full array.

Black Smith Exhibit

We continued our walk along beautifully tended paths to see other exhibits.

Giant clay "barrels" used to collect rain.

Although - except for the gift shop -this is where we ended the tour. It is where a chapter of New World history began. 

After the Fountain of Youth, we had the afternoon on our own. We could stay in the park or take the tour bus back to the historic district. I chose to take the bus to find a local coffee shop and eat a ginger cake or two and sip smooth coffee.

I then wound my way to the Villa Zorayda house and museum built by Franklin Smith in 1883 as a winter residence. It was designed as a 1/10th scale portion of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, a Moorish castle.

This tour was separate from the Road Scholar offerings and was guided by a recorder you wore. While you're not supposed to take pictures I broke the rule to show you I was there. Be sure to look at this Zoryada Museum link for more awesome photos. The place is a treasure trove of Smith's unique collecting interests.

I then went for a tasting-tour of Whetstone Chocolates of St. Augustine.  It was more than eating chocolate. You learned the difference between chocolate types and how they are grown and made. You also discover how they pick out and combine the flavor and texture influencers. Trade secrets were revealed if you listened carefully

And yes this tour also ended in the gift shop where I bought what is suppose to be "gifts" for my family. Maybe.

I met the bus at 4:00 PM at Constitution Plaza for a ride back to the hotel. I know many on the tour were staying in the area to see the tail end of the Nights of Lights winter light display. 

Me on the beach in January
Omaha weather is 20 degrees colder.

I chose to go to the beach instead because I grew up with a similar light shows around Kansas City's Country Club Plaza. Nothing is more memorable than a night-ride around the Plaza as giant snowflakes fall through the uncountable twinkling lights onto your tongue.

I finished my tour-day with a scrumptious Pink Beetle burger with sprouts and avocado slices at Obi's Fillin' StationI'm a sucker for both sprouts and avocados. Their crispy fries were also the tastiest you can find.

The evening was lights out early for me with more to follow tomorrow.

More to follow. Ta, ta for now.

Related Prior Posts:
Road Scholar Trip To St. Augustine Parts 1 and 2.

Related External Sites:
Ponce de Leon's First Voyage to Florida  
Timeline Of Significant Events At The Fountain Of Youth Archaeological Park
Floridanos, Menorcans, Cattle-Whip Crackers: Poetry of St. Augustine - -ouTube video