Tuesday, May 24, 2016

From Calm To Clamor

Last year I spent searching for engrossments. Ways to connect and feel purposeful, alive. 

Labor day I visited close friends and others in November. I decluttered the house. I went shopping at Kris Kinder, helped with Lonely Tower's 12th Night Event and attended the Clothiers Symposium. I started this blog, took up Tai Chi and found my way through spring. 

Then boom. The last six weeks have been nuts. I've had as many things to do as I did the previous six months.

Since April 1, I traveled to visit family and friends, revamped my craft room, created an award scroll, taught a class and helped with another class. I had good out-of-town friends visit

I still have a poster to make, catch up the Lonely Tower Roll of Arms and prepare for camping at Calontir's Lilies War. All by mid-June.  

Lonely Tower's Roll of Arms
Active Members Heraldic Devices

Of course, neither time period discussed includes daily life things like funerals and family holiday celebrations, taking dogs to the groomer, walking two miles most days, my doctor visits, and occasionally being a Granny-Nanny. Those just happen.

Thankfully, I have learned to pace myself. Barring any major intrusive event, I will survive and thrive.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Lonely Tower's Scribal Gathering

May 8th Lonely held an afternoon of scribal classes. Mistress Aiden came from out of town to present Lord Kahlil his auction winnings, a scribal start up kit. It included books, paints, pens, tools, and other materials. A real haul. 

M. Aiden and Ld. Kahlil

Kahlil spear-headed the scribal afternoon which included the introduction to Kahlil's starter kit, how to use them for calligraphy and illumination.
Mistress Aiden taught calligraphy, Master Rolf, Honorable Lady Astrid, and I taught painting and design skills.

One on one instruction was available for inspiration. 

Sharing and learning new skills, whatever the level of the student, is heartening. As taught in yoga, "Every teacher is a student; every student is a teacher."

7 SCA Peer Mentoring Expectations

I've apprenticed to two different Laurels in the SCA and live more remotely than many in Calontir. It's why I've considered peer mentoring at length. 

When asked, my answers depend on who's asking. Still, I have turned over in my mind the essence and aspects of floating a peer-associate boat . 

Proximity--The closer the better. There should be a possibility to connect more often than at SCA events. You don't have to live in the same town, but I would limit travel to day-tripping, three hours one-way tops. You want to spend more time sharing than driving, to bond and work as mates. 

Respect--Each must know and respect the other to succeed. Without mutual respect, the student won't take the peer's advice seriously. The peer's guidance may seem inconsiderate. Does the student consider the peer's craft, service and deportment appropriate? Does the peer feel the student exudes learning desire and caring? 

Honor--Reputations rub off on close associates and each person's behavior reflects on the other. Do you share compatible moral codes? Who does each visit at events? Even before a formal announcement, repeated connections are noted by others. The relationship should be a blessing for all, and the community too.

Learning Environment--Do both have available time and compatible schedules? Does the teacher know what the student wants to learn or where to find it? How is criticism shared and taken? These considerations float the association boat and make learning possible.

Goals--Mutual goals are important to any relationship. What does each want from the association: skill knowledge, authentic encampment or an event pal? Goals set the boat's direction.

My opinion: I wouldn't take an apprentice if hanging out was their only goal. I would gladly welcome them and offer hospitality.

Length of Commitment--My experience leads me to believe there should be a designated length of time.  Both should re-evaluate renewing the commitment annually or agree to automatically disassociate. Sort of an escape hatch.

Household--My experience is the siblings in the household build a close relationship, sometimes closer than with the peer. For a joyful household, a bond must form for them to become shipmates. How can each of you build that? What consultation is asked and given to take a new member?

These and similar questions take time (perhaps a year) for each and all to consider and test, together and separately, prior to associating. Except for honor, I could make concessions. Sharing and weighing the details sets the boat's direction toward its port.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Nan's Early Days

My daughter Denise has a birthday next week. Just to annoy her I'm posting early pictures of her.

This was taken in 1981. A rare photo of me with her. I'm usually the one behind the camera.

This one was taken on a visit to Omaha with her paternal Grandmother, Gloria. Denise is about 2 years old.

An early birthday party. Denise is in the red shirt up front. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Reconnecting With My Family

I was on the road again. This time, reconnecting with my family living near Minneapolis. I seem to be doing this a lot lately, so check out my other reconnections here and here.

My brother Gene was 84 years old Tuesday. The reason for my visit. I wanted to hang out with him. He walks three miles every day at the Burnsville Center enclosed mall. So I did too. Gene goes at a clip almost too fast for me and I'm 14 years younger. He's done that for years. Now he walks it in two sessions, half in the morning, half in the afternoon. A great role model for me.

Later, we met with his friends who also walk the mall at 7:00 AM. That's me in the patterned shirt.

After a short road trip to a quiet country cemetery to view cherished family's graves, I took him to El Azteca for lunch. It has the best Mexican food I've ever eaten. Their margaritas are tinged with an orange flavor mellowing their taste. I ate up their piquant chile relleno telling Gene, "I so want to come back here the next time I visit. Their food is amazing!"

I've never seen this either. Your waiter prepares guacamole from whole avocados as you like it right at your table. 

Wednesday included another early morning walk at the mall and some errands. Later we stopped by Cub Foods to visit with the friends he's made who frequent the store. I met some of them when I visited four years ago on my last trip here. 

My trip's grand finale was Gene's birthday party, a day late. It was at Casper's...Restaurant. 14 family and friends met for happy hour and shared good food.  

Have a look at a few of my many celebration pictures.

No birthday party ends without eating cake and singing happy birthday. 
Even with Gene's vocal protests.

And Gene's wonderful smile. The one I always remember.

My plan is to return again sooner and more frequently. Four years was four years too long.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Mother's Memories

Last Sunday was Mothers' Day, May 8, 2016. Here are a few relevant pictures. 

Me about April 1980. Very pregnant.
That's my really-you-want-a-picture-of-me-like-this pose.

Looks about 1981. 
Denise now eating baby food.

Denise as a Brownie and me as the 
troop leader, 1987.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Denise with our pet ferret, Pretzel. 
Love that happy beaming face.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Reconnecting With More BFFs

Wow! This has been a year for reconnections and recollections. I recently visited Kansas City to visit long time friends and now Arnoud and Gillian have come to visit me. We were the closest friends before they moved to Texas in 1998.
I can't begin to write about all the many friends' names' recalled, and stories shared, both former and recent. I think we talked non-stop for three days.

One day we met Dolan and Kezia to enjoy Omaha's Old Market.

Returning to my house we shared snacks and drinks, more life histories and listened to Dolan sing his Reign For All Time. (Of course, the YouTube video doesn't do his singing justice.)

Arnoud, Gillian and I also ate out several more times and toured Omaha together. 

One day Arnoud went to see Bellevue, NE, where they lived before they moved away. Gillian and I lazed around my house and talked girl-talk. 
We both missed our long bonding soul-mate talks.

Their last evening here was to attend another friend's wedding. As they left for Miele's wedding we shared how nice it was she got married so we three could deeply share and reconnect.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Is Handwriting Doomed?

With digital devices' development and pervasiveness, educators have long promoted ending handwriting instruction. Something I cannot fathom or condone.

Handwriting is not an archaic communication tool to be scrapped for modern keyboarding. Handwriting's motions creating letters, words and sentences stimulate the brain in a way typing does not.

According to Psychology Today's Dr. William Klemm, Ph.D.learning handwriting successfully develops controlled visual tracking and high-speed neural responses to the corrective visual feedback loop. (That's a mouthful.) He predicts:
In short, learning cursive should train the brain to function more effectively in visual scanning. Theoretically, reading efficiency could benefit. I predict that new research would show that learning cursive will improve reading speed and will train the brain to have better hand-eye coordination.
While computers and TV can be educational, Klemm also reports in another article, when letters are not made by your own hand memory-creation lessens. (And I found more; check out this blog, or NPR's comments.)

As a scribe, a calligrapher and illuminator, I predict more people will seek us out to do what they didn't learn, to write. I've already been asked to do this for simple Christmas gift tags, but that was for beauty's sake. What about skill and ability?

I'm concerned the troubles my grandkids may experience. Ben may have difficulty learning caused by digital devices and short-forms used in schools. Charlotte's artistic creativity may be dampened. They are both so wonderful at what they do either would be tragic. Not writing in cursive is one more detriment for their generation and era.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

How to Be Unique When Feeling Ordinary

I understand each of us is different. Still, I have this niggling feeling what I've done is mediocre.

Shakespeare said, “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”

That is uniqueness. 

To me, it feels like a goal out of reach. Do you ever feel like that?

When I create, I create from my own fervor, skills, and values. No one but me has that same combination. So wouldn't my creations be unique too?

And wouldn't any ideas and tips I share, based on my experiences, be unique, too?

Then, how did I escape the ordinary? 

Looking at what others did in the SCA some 20 years ago, I wanted something recreated I hadn't seen done before. I wanted a page from the Manesse Codex painted. Even before I found scrolls and scribes, that's what I really wanted.

Poor perspective painting of a castle, moat, and trees.
My Early Illumination Showing My Persona's  Home
I couldn't find anyone to do it. So I learned to do it myself, on my own, with only a high school art training. 

Without an actual plan. My initial efforts were pitiful. 

As time went on I researched illumination history and methods. My research taught me my approach and skill. Eventually, I created pages from the Manesse Codex and then I was hooked.

My method of work developed and my art was being noticed. I found other illuminators and we shared ideas. 

I was nudged by friends to take risks. First calligraphy and then a complete scroll. Slowly I became part of the Calontir Scribes Guild. I found other illumination styles I was drawn to paint.

Along the way my uniqueness arrived, by doing the work and discovering what I liked best.

As a novice, I hardly understood what painting was. My first attempts seem crude now. Using gold-leaf, or vellum was way out there. My goal was to paint what I treasured and coveted the Manesse Codex.

My next goal was to contribute. Each reign I gave Manesse-style illuminations to Their Majesties. I made prizes and bookmarks for 12th Night gifts. This never was practice. It was fun. 

And the most fun I now have is teaching what I've discovered. My "Playing With Period Pigments" class.

That's how I hit upon my uniqueness. Projects that energized me, made me feel alive. And they're still my fireball passion today.

When you learn a craft, whether fighting, service or artisan, your uniqueness develops in the honing process. As they say, do more of what you love. Trust your unimaginable uniqueness to emerge.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

TBTh: Lonely Tower's Fashion Walk Through History, 1990s


Lining Up
In the early 1990s the Barony of the Lonely Tower put on a demonstration at Oak View Mall that included a "Walk Through History" fashion show. These photos are from that show. I have attempted to organize them by approximate clothing era, earlier to later.





My 10 Favorite European Illuminated Manuscript Inspirations

For your viewing pleasure, I give you my 10 most artistically inspiring illuminated manuscripts. Not all are lavish, but all encourage my creativity. I hope they do yours too. 
  • Book of Kells created c. 800, is a calligraphy masterwork and pinnacle of Insular illumination. Regarded as Ireland's finest national treasure, its extravagance and decoration complexity combines traditional Christian motifs with ornate swirling patterns. Humans, animals and mythical beasts, knotwork and interlacing patterns in vibrant colors abound.  At least three different scribes wrote its supple Insular majuscule script. 
  • The Hours of Catherine of Cleves is the greatest Dutch illuminated manuscript. Its 157 miniatures are by a gifted master, active around 1435-1460, now known only as the Master of Catherine of Cleves. He is considered medieval northern Netherlands finest, most original illuminator. The everyday objects he displayed on the pages' borders are in a style ahead of its time. And no two are alike.
  • The magnificent Lindisfarne Gospels was written and illuminated in the late 7th century by the monk Eadfrith. It combines richly coloredMediterranean, Anglo-Saxon, and Celtic motifs with text written in Insular script. It is the best documented, most complete Insular manuscript.
  • The Luttrell Psalter is online as a virtual book at the British Library. I've googled images here. Commissioned by a wealthy landowner in the first half of the 14th century, it is painted in rich colors with gold and silver. Its vitality and borders entwined with bizarre fanciful drolleries make it wondrously humorous and unique. The book is an image trove if you are interested in everyday English life. 
  • The Maciejowki Bible is a 45 folio medieval picture Bible illuminated in France's northern counties around 1250. Its unique history caused it to have paintings of Hebrew scripture events, set with 13th-century French scenery and customs, depicted from a Christian perspective, surrounded by three text scripts in five languages (Latin, Persian, Arabic, Judeo-Persian, and Hebrew).
  • The Manesse Codex illuminations are what first enticed me to become a scribe. Also known as the "Great Heidelberg Book of Songs", it was created in Zurich around 1300 to 1340.The manuscript is famous for its colorful full-page miniatures, one dedicated to each of 137 singers.  The illuminations display the poets in an idealised manner performing courtly activities. The codex also has a comprehensive ballad and poetry collection in Middle High German language. 
  • Hildegard von Bingen's Ruptsberg manuscript. This "Renaissance" woman was creative and knowledgeable. I haven't found any heavily illuminated works online, but the manuscript link shows her illumination. I am enthralled by her medieval mandalas, a spiritual art form that originated in India.
  • The Sherborne Missal is an early 15th-century manuscript, the largest and most lavishly decorated English medieval service book to survive the Reformation's destruction. Besides the religious services, it has 48 naturally portrayed birds, most identified by their Middle English names. Some names I even recognize. It also contains seldom seen patron and scribe portraits and inscriptions naming them.
  • The Visconti Hours isn't directly online as others I've listed. If you don't buy the facsimile I've googled some images. It is a fanciful, richly decorated Book of Hours painted by two very different illuminators in the late 1300s. Giovannino dei Grassi and his workshop painted the first folios for Giangaleazzo Visconti, despot of Milan, but the Duke's death in 1402 interrupted the work. Belbello da Pavia completed the manuscript for the duke's son, in 1412. The book's inventive forms and scintillating colors, extensive use of gold leaf, silver, and lapis lazuli make it an absolute treasure. 
    • Winchester Bible is a lavish Romanesque illuminated manuscript produced between 1160 and 1175. Its folios measure 583 x 396 mm. making it the largest surviving 12th-century English Bible. With 468 huge pages and each bi-folium taking an entire calf-skin it probably took over 250 calves to make. Except for a few entries, the manuscript is the work of a single scribe and probably took four years.