anarra: (heliand)
In theory, this is a blog where I can share stuff regarding medieval crafts or history or the SCA.  Actually, I've been ranting about modern stuff lately.  But Merry Christmas Eve--here is an entry on Things Medieval.  Well, pre-medieval actually.

The Heliand is a Gospel of Jesus Christ written in Old Saxon. It was composed by an unknown priest in the early 9th century.  It was probably written during or just after the reign of Charlemagne.

But this was not just a translation of the Gospel into Old Saxon.  No.  This was a re-telling of the Gospel in terms familiar to the Saxons.  The author transformed a Mediterranean monotheistic message of love and harmony to resonate deeply with the Germanic Saxon polytheistic warrior culture without changing Jesus' message.  Genius.

Charlemagne was brutal to the Saxons.  He took them as hostages then killed them when they went back to worshiping their Gods.  He cut down their sacred groves, passed laws that penalized paganism with death, and generally converted them to Christianity at the point of a sword.

The author of the Heliand evidently disagreed with this approach.  There are subtle digs that equate Charlemagne, the unwanted foreign overlord of the Saxons, to Cesar, the unwanted foreign overlord of the Jews.  The author seemed to think that the Saxons would of course choose Christ over Odin just given a clear message that would convince them.  One they understood.  No swords necessary.

He seems to have succeeded.  Father G. Roland Murphy, who did a fantastic job of translating The Heliand, posits that the German tradition of the Warrior for Christ came from the Heliand and the depiction of Christ's Warrior Companions therein.

But on to Christmas, the Birth of Christ.

From Father Murphy's translation:
Then there came a decree from fort Rome, from the great Octavian who had power over the whole world, an order from Caesar to his wide realm, sent to every king enthroned in his homeland and to all Caesar's army commanders governing the people of any territory. The decree said that everyone living outside their own country should return to their homeland upon receipt of the message. It stated that all the warrior heroes were to return to their assembly place, each one was to go back to the clan of which he was a family member by birth in a hillfort ... The good Joseph went also with his household, just as God, ruling mightily, willed it. He made his way to his shining home, the hillfort at Bethlehem. This was the clan assembly place for both of them, for Joseph the hero and for Mary, the holy girl. This was the place where in olden days the throne of the great and noble king David stood for as long as he reigned, enthroned on high, an earl of the Hebrews. Joseph and Mary both belonged by birth to his household, they were of good family lineage, of David's own clan.

Father Murphy notes "Notice how this part of the story replaces the reference to Quirinius, governor of Syria, with army commanders governing occupied territories exactly the situation of the defeated Saxons. And the last line is evidence that even as early as the Dark Ages, Europeans needed extra reassurance that Jesus came from noble blood."

Read more... )As horse-herders watched their herds by night; an angel of the lord came down and glory shone around.... )
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This isn’t medieval, but it angers and confuses me anyway.

My wife is just now eligible for Medicare.  She has health coverage through my employer.  My employer and I pay all the costs associated with this coverage *and* I pay additional taxes on the imputed earnings (the health care premium my employer pays for her coverage).

So we try to opt her out of Medicare Part B coverage since she already has equivalent coverage.

And we can’t.  Not without paying a very large penalty when she finally does opt in.

Why not?  Because Medicare only allows you to opt out without a penalty if you are covered by your employer’s insurance (she isn’t) or you are covered by your spouse’s employer’s insurance (thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) we’re not ‘spouses’ in Medicare’s eyes, even though we are utterly and completely legally married—with a marriage certificate to prove it. So much for States Rights!).

This is irritating for several reasons.

DOMA aside, how many other 65 year old people out there are covered by insurance not provided by an employer or a spouse’s employer?

  • Members of the Writers Guild of America.  The Writer’s Guild is not their employer, but they do provide Medical Coverage.
  • Ditto for zillions of other professional guilds, societies, organizations and unions.  Heck one of the reasons for those guilds, societies, organizations and unions is to provide a group rate on health insurance for members!
  • People who’s employers cover Domestic Partners—both same and opposite sex.
  • Private pay insurance in general.  Maybe your children are paying your premiums.  Or you’re doing it yourself because you found a really good deal.  But no, you have to either pay for both, or drop your really good deal or pay a penalty when you get Medicare in the future.

So the result of this is that the Federal Government is going to pay for my wife’s health care costs when my employer could be doing it instead.  How’s that for responsible fiscal policy?  Not that my employer is going to mind much.  One less person to pay premiums for.

And to top it all off, not one single piece of literature that we’ve been innundated with for months mentions that “spouse” means opposite-sex spouse only.  They all say she’s fine as long as she’s getting coverage through her “spouse’s” employer.  No fine print that says “spouse must be of the opposite sex from you”.  Not even with tens of thousands of legal same-sex marriages out there right now.  No.  We had to figure that bit out on our own.  ARGH.

And a waste of government money, too.

Why can’t the law state that if you provide proof of equivalent coverage, from whatever source, you can opt out of Medicare Part B until you lose that coverage?  Who cares where the coverage is coming from?  Just provide proof you’ve got it.  Makes much more sense to me.

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Carol and I taught the Bayeux Embroidery class! (See page 31--warning .pdf).  We had a lot of fun.  The students had a lot of fun.  They learned stem stitch, couching and laid work and had a nice lesson on the events of the year 1066--illustrated with sections of the Bayeux Tapestry--with a nifty handout to take home (if I do say so myself).

We brought examples of the Bayeux Embroidery stitch technique--one of them on a piece of linen the width of the original so the students could get an idea of the actual size.  We brought woad, weld and madder to show the dye stuffs.  We brought examples of dyed wool and wool combs and a drop spindle to show how the embroidery wool was made.  We recommend Paternayan tapestry wool if you're not going to dye and spin your own.

Janet and Carol are going to teach this class again in the Spring.  It will be on a Wednesday in May at Manchester Community College. Actual date not yet determined.

This was such a fun class I hope I get a chance to teach it again.  Perhaps for another Adult Education organization.
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Many of you probably know about the Bayeux Tapestry.  It isn't a tapestry at all--it's a 230+ foot long embroidery. So I call it the Bayeux Embroidery.  It's all done in only three stitches--Stem stitch, laid work and couching.  That covers a lot of ground with not much wasted thread on the back.

It was commissioned by William the Conqueror's half brother Bishop Odo of Bayeux.  It was embroidered soon after William took the throne of England on December 25th, 1066.  Consensus seems to be that it was embroidered in eight pieces at various nunneries in England; though the technique is very Scandinavian.

There are lots and lots of Viking-style ships on the Bayeux Embroidery.  It's one of the main contemporary sources for what they looked like.  There's even a faering on there (well, a small afterboat--it could be a faering!)

Janet and our friend Carol were going to teach a class on Bayeux style Embroidery at a local community college this month; but Janet can't make it so I've been drafted instead.  I've been spending the weekend putting together a handout about the technique, materials and colors of threads; and a longer one on what happened when and by whom in 1066.

I know a lot about the Battle of Hastings and what lead up to it, of course. The Battle of Stamford Bridge on September 25, 1066 is often reckoned to be the end of the Viking age--with Harald Hardrada of Norway the last Viking King.  But up to now I've only been explaining 1066 in two minute increments to interested people at faering demos.  (The secret of Viking navigation is that they didn't have to be at work on Monday.  This leads to a quick-and-dirty 2-minute lecture on why William was trapped on the wrong side of the channel all summer and Harold was out of position when he finally sailed across--with huge consequences to both the history of Western Europe and the English Language.)  Tackling a two hour class that's part how-to-do-embroidery and part history of the Battle of Hastings is a whole other kettle of fish. And when we did a run through of the class last weekend I realized I needed more than quick-and-dirty 2-minute lectures.

So lots of reading and pasting and writing and finding good illustrations.  I learned a lot, too.  I knew that King Harold's brother Tostig had been with Harald Hardrada at the Battle of Fulford and the Battle of Stamford Bridge.  But I hadn't known that probably Tostig talked Hardrada into the invasion.  And I hadn't known much about why Tostig would fight against his brother (Tostig was removed from his post of Earl and exiled due to mismanagement and murder and Harold was the one who oversaw it. Though the decision was forced by the thegns of Northumbria.)

I also learned more about exactly why William felt he had a claim to the English Throne. And how close he came, multiple times, to failing in his invasion.  And also why Pope Alexander II endorsed the invasion. (Probably as a result of Normans ... misleading ... the Pope.)

It's been an enlightening weekend and I can't wait to teach the class!
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Today is the 9th anniversary of the Attack on the United States by Muslim extremists.

And they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.  We have lifelong US citizens, who presumably think of themselves as patriots, actively advocating abandoning our dearly held and hardly fought Constitutional rights.  Rights that thousands of US soldiers have, so they tell us, died to protect in Afghanistan and Iraq.

So on the one had I hear these folks telling me and every other American to Support the Troops!  They're putting their lives on the line to protect my freedom!  And from some of the self same people I hear Ban the Koran!  Stop the ground zero mosque! (Which is neither at ground zero nor a mosque.)

I'm having a tough time wrapping my head around the idea of being told to support those who vow to uphold and defend our Constitution by ... advocating withholding Constitutional rights.

In the face of controversy to burn the Koran as a perverted way of commemorating September 11, we went to a candlelight vigil this evening to oppose burning Korans and support the Park51 project.

The Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford was a particularly appropriate place to hold such a vigil.  Built in 1876, it is the first Jewish temple in Connecticut and required an amendment to the state Constitution to build it.  Back then only Congregationalist churches were allowed to be built in Connecticut.  No Methodists, Catholics, Baptists, Jews or Muslims allowed.

We haven't progressed very far, I sometimes think.


On a brighter note, this morning we also went to see the M. C. Escher: Impossible Reality exhibit  at the New Britain Museum of American Art.  (This being American Art evidently by virtue of the fact that two New Britain residents saw it in Greece and are also members of the NBMAA.)

It was fascinating and has many different kinds of art from all periods of Escher's career.  Well worth going. I'm very glad those two people saw it in Greece and brought it here.  It moves to the Akron Museum of Art in Akron, Ohio next.

Scanfest!

Sep. 8th, 2010 01:54 pm
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Labor Day Sunday we took the Skogar Þrostur to Scanfest, held at the Vasa Park in Budd Lake, New Jersey.  We used to live in  Hackettstown, just down the road from Budd Lake, so we told friends we were going to be there and Bron and her daughter Rowan and Gudrun and her son PJ came and helped us with the boat.  PJ was great!  He taught a several boys to spin wool.

Scanfest is a really fun festival.  There are a lot of Scandinavian food booths, selling things to eat that day and also food imported from Scandinavia. There are many vendors that sell Scandinavian crafts and Nordic themed clothing.  We left the boat to our friends for 45 minutes and did a bit of shopping.  We found a birch bark box for Janet to use as a sewing kit in her work basket, straw Christmas Tree decorations sewn with red thread and some laser cut wooden Christmas tree decorations.  We ate Swedish pancakes with lingon berries and had some almond and raspberry tart that I'd never had before but was wonderfully delicious.

And they had a wife carrying competition--their first.  The winner got his "wife's" weight in beer.  Contestants didn't have to carry their own wives, they could borrow anyone's or even a woman who wasn't a wife.  We had a ring-side seat and oh, boy was it fun to watch!
Wife Carrying at Scanfest 2010

But mostly we talked to people.  Which can get repetitive in a blog since the main thing we talk about is the Skogar Þrostur and the Gokstad ship and Viking ship building techniques.  We love doing Scandinavian festivals.  Lots of people at these festivals have been to the Oslo or Danish ship museums and know about boats.  They ask the most interesting questions.




Afterwords the six of us went to dinner at Janet's favorite Italian restaurant in Hackettstown.  (My favorite Indian restaurant was closed due to a fire back in March.  Sob!)  We talked and had a great time. Rowan was five when we left Hackettstown and now she's almost 13 so getting to know her more grown up was fun.

We've penciled in the date for next year--always the Sunday of Labor Day.  If you can go, go!  It's great fun.
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Janet and I are also members of The Longship Company, a non-profit group that 
owns a faering that ours was based on and also a 40 Viking warship, the 
Sae Hrafn (Sea Raven).

The Longship Company is based in southern Maryland and the Sae Hrafn is 
berthed at the Calvert Marine Museum.

Voyages are FREE, just tell them you're coming.  (longshipco@hotmail.com)  Also, 
if you tell them you're coming and then can't make it, please make sure you tell 
they you are not coming so they don't wait around for you.

Bring two liters of water per person, a lunch, sunscreen and a hat.  Viking 
clothing is not required.  21st century boating clothes are completely fine.


Below is their fall schedule:

In case any of y'all are in the Tidewater this autumn (or just feel like a 
good sail):
 
All voyages are now from the Calvert Marine Museum.  We enter through the back 
gate by the boat shop.  Please call to confirm voyage; subject to change due to 
weather and other conditions.  All times are for crew assembly.
Sept. 12; Sunday 12:00 - Voyage
 
Sept. 25; Saturday; Viking Day at Calvert Marine Museum- Reenactment, displays, 
lectures, whatever we can do that is safe and educational.  Short voyages (maybe), 
blacksmithing, interpretation, etc.
 
Oct. 2; Saturday, 10:00 – Voyage
 
October 9 – 10, Sat. & Sun.; Patuxent River Appreciation Days – Skeleton crew needed to 
interpret the ship to hordes and herds of visitors!  Too crowded to sail, but a great 
chance for interpretation and recruitment.
 
October 23-24 -  Hastings 42 (Markland's 41st anniversary)  Battle reenactment and general 
good time held at Kings Landing Park. Possible overnight voyages to sail the Sae Hrafn up 
and back. Possible afternoon and early evening voyage on weekend.
 
Nov. 6; Saturday, 10:00 – Photo voyage; with power boat as chase, tow and photography-boat.
(For this voyage, Viking clothing would be required.) 
 
Nov. 21; Sunday, 12:00 – Voyage (Autumn colors and cool weather for rowing and sailing; a 
delightful time of year.)
 
Dec. 4; Saturday, 10:00 final full voyage and downrigging for end of season and haulout.
 
December 6 – 18; row to Washburns' Boatyard for haulout and trailer to winter quarters.
 
 
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Back around the year 900 anno domini, a very wealthy Norse man was buried with a full panoply of grave goods. These included the Gokstad ship—79 feet long, 17 feet wide, and could hold a maximum crew of 70 people—and also included three smaller boats: a 6-oared boat (seksring), a 4-oared boat (faering) and another boat which is rarely described in the literature because it was not as well preserved as the other two.

The Skogar Þrostur is based on the Gokstad faering boat.

 Along with his own small armada, the man in the Gokstad grave was buried with many more goods to see him into the next world:

  • Three iron fishhooks
  • What might be a back pack—possibly for hunting.
  • A two-sided game board made of oak with playing pieces made of horn.
  • Pieces of horse harness
  • Six cups and a plate made of wood
  • Twelve horses
  • Six dogs
  • The earliest known Peacock found in Northern Europe

What wasn’t found:

  • No sword
  • No jewelry
  • No gold
  • No silver

The grave was robbed of such things long before archeologists excavated the ship.

So what can we deduce from this? The man in the grave was probably a King. Maybe Olaf Gudrødsson from Vestfold who, according to the Heimskringla, died about then.

The Norse had portable, knock-down beds. And tents. They used sledges to get around on the snow, with horses to pull them. Even very wealthy men liked to fish and play board games. He might even have liked to cook, though most people think the cooking gear was part of the camping goods. The Norse may have liked to hunt for sport—-the possible back pack has a drawing of what may be a deer and is certainly a dog on the lid.  Not to mention the 6 dogs sacrificed to follow him into death. They imported things, probably even live peacocks, from vast distances.

And most stunningly of all, they built breathtakingly beautiful ships. The lines of the Gokstad Ship are the most beautiful, classic, simple, and proportioned I have ever seen. Vast numbers of stylized representation of not only Viking ships, but of ships in general, use the Gokstad prow as a model.  Stunning.


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We went to the Viking Festival at the Scandinavian Club in Fairfield, CT and I want to post just a little bit before we collapse in damp puddles of exhaustion. 

It RAINED just before we packed up. I don't think the back of the van has ever been this wet. It's full of wet sail, wet sheep skins, wet bedding, wet table cover, wet cloak and I brought the wet Viking clothes in and they are running through the washing machine now.  Janet's feet are wrinkled still.

But we had a GREAT time.  We talked to a lot of people and they asked wonderful, interesting questions.  Carol Skog, the event coordinator, did some great publicity and now we're all over the web.  Below are two articles announcing the festival and we were interviewed several times so there will undoubtedly be articles later reporting on it.

Article on the festival with a photo of Janet and the faering boat.  Photo taken by Jeff Krug at an SCA event on May 22, 2010 called The Daily Life Schola.

Another article with the same photo by Jeff.   Note that although we are members of The Longship Company we were not at the Viking Festival in that capacity. We were there as just us, Vinland Longships.  But sometimes news gets reported oddly.

A story written on Saturday about the festival.

Anyway we had a great time. We hope they do it again next year.  They liked us a lot.  We liked them and the site and the people who came to the festival. 
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The Skogar Þrostur will be at the Scandinavian Festival at VasaPark in Budd Lake, New Jersey on September 5, 2010.

 

There will be music and dancing and vendors, exhibits, lectures and FOOD!

 

There will also be demonstrations of Hardanger embroidery, paper cutting, woodcarving, hand weaving, and bobbin lace.  Gosh, if we weren't going to be busy all day demonstrating with the Skogar Þrostur we’d be watching all of this.

 

The Leif Ericsson Society’s ship, the Norseman will be there, too.

 

Come see us both!


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The Skogar Þrostur will be featured at the Scandinavian Club in Fairfield, CT on August 21 and 22, 2010.  We will be running an educational demonstration of Viking Faerings, history, ocean going capabilities of longships, material culture and much more from 10am to 5pm on Saturday and from Noon to 4pm on Sunday. 

1352 South Pine Creek Road, Fairfield, CT 06824
Entrance Fee $10 Adult, $5 Senior, $5 Teens 13-19, Children 12 & under Free.

Also demonstrating will be the Gladsheim group of Vikings North America with their Viking encampment, Lynn E Noel, interpreting Icelandic sagas, and there will be food, games, horses and bagpipes! (Yes, Vikings were in Scotland and Ireland!)

Come by and see us.
 


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On May 8th we went to the Vinland Games SCA event near Harrisburg, PA.  We brought our Viking Faering boat and spent the day talking about Viking boats, Viking history, Viking culture and Viking boats.
 
We had a fantastic time.  There were many other classes besides our Viking Faering class and we attended the “Diet and Nutrition among Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Viking” class by Lady Ragnveig Snorradottir which was thorough, fascinating, and packed a very dense amount of information into an hour.  
 
Nutritional information from middens, fecal waste, pond pollen, skeletal and dental remains.  Fascinating!  And some of it has relevance even today.  Dental structure changes in developing teeth as babies are weaned from breast milk to cereals with fewer protiens happened back then just as they happen today. She got through all her material clearly and boy did we have to pay attention to so much information in an hour!  Wonderful class.
 
Carowyn Silveroak taught a glass bead class that I couldn't attend, alas. But I saw the beads she made and brought as examples for the students to look at, and what a dizzying variety she's made since I taught a glass bead class in Silver Rylle years ago!  They run the gammut of time periods and techniques.  Lovely work.  She's even been making her own miliflori.
  
The feast and dayboard were delicious!  What a splendid spread.  I was told this was Ketterlyn der Wilde's first feast as head cook and she did a wonderful job.  Day board, the main feast and even a special feast for the "Odin's Table" where spaces were auctioned off to raise money.  Everything was delicious and it all looked well researched for a Viking feast.  And hot, too, despite a problem with the electricity in the kitchen.
  
The people in Blak Rose are friendly and hospitable.  We felt very welcome.  Friderich Swartzwalder autocratted a fun and informative event with great food and lots of activities for everyone.  Huzzah!
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I am not going to ComiCon this weekend in San Diego.  I’ve never been to ComiCon in San Diego.  But I’ve been to many other Science Fiction conventions with hall costumes and quirky in-jokes on T-shirts (I have one with a photo of Pluto inscribed with the number 134340 that says “They’ve given you a number and taken away your name.” and if that’s not an obscure in-joke I don’t know what is!  Or someone named Maureen Johnson who recently twittered Neil Gaiman in response to a photo of him wearing a black and white Hawiian shirt “Seeing these photos, I think there is a whole line of Gaiman inspired beachwear now waiting to be made. Please call it Sandman.”  Ba-dum-pcha!)

 

Anyway, ComiCon.  For some reason the Westborough Baptist Church decided to picket ComiCon.  Evidently God Hates Mags.

 

Lots and lots of people get frothingly angry at WBC.  Or at least they do since they’ve been picketing the funerals of soldiers killed in Afghanistan or Iraq.  Back when they were only picketing the funerals of people murdered just because they were gay, not so much.

 

But I didn’t think at a Science Fiction/Comic/Media convention that the fans would get frothingly angry.  No, all that anger and disgust at these clueless evil bozos would be transformed in to mockery.  Derision.  Ridicule.  And in-jokes.  Because, really, that’s the best way to deal with clueless evil bozos.  Mock them until they have no influence at all.

 

So behold!  The fans at ComicCon protesting the WBC.  Beautiful.

 

http://www.comicsalliance.com/2010/07/22/super-heroes-vs-the-westboro-baptist-church/?sms_ss=facebook

 

I’m trying to decide which sign is my favorite.  The Star Trek: The Next Generation guy with his “God Hates Jedi” sign?  The “Magnets:  how the *%$#! do they work???” sign? (I’ve wondered the same thing myself) or Jesus with his “God Loves Every Body” sign.  I think I’ll go with that last one.


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Ana Ilevna and I are members of The Longship Company. They are based in southern Maryland and have a faering boat, the Gyrfalcon, that was one of the models for our faering boat. They also have a 40 foot war ship. 12 oars and a crew of up to 24.

(That's a photo of me standing in front of the Gyrfalcon at the 40th anniversary of The Battle of Hastings, which was Markland's inagural event way back when.)

Their website is www.longshipco.org

Here is a tentative schedule for Summer 2010. The voyages are in the 40 foot warship, the Sae Hrafn. (Sea Raven).

Sunday, June 6th (D-Day) 1:00- Work Session and Rigging Preparation 

Saturday, June 12th, 10:00- Uprigging and Shakedown Voyage 

Saturday, June 26th, Annual Meeting and Proposed Evening Cruise 

July 9, 10 & 11, Fri-Sun; Camp Fenby, Sponsored by the Longship Company; a medieval arts and crafts weekend at Oakley Forge and LSCoNEO
Camp Fenby is a weekend of camping out and learning things. Lots of Medieval crafts happen and a crab feast on Saturday.

 Sunday, July 18th, 12:00 Voyage 

Saturday, July 31st, 10:00 Voyage 

Sunday, August 15th, 12:00 Voyage 

Saturday, August 28th, 10:00 Voyage 

If you plan to go, please e-mail and tell them so. If you then don’t go, please also e-mail and tell them so they aren’t waiting around for you at the dock. 

Bring 2 litres of water per person, sunscreen, a hat and lunch. Voyages are in 21st century boating clothes, not Viking garb, unless specified.  All these voyages are in normal clothes.


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Edit:  Mrs Jones has evidently stopped her chemotherapy, which wasn't helping any more according to her doctors.  I'm so sad.


Read Diana Wynne Jones.
 
You’ve never read a more interesting, diverse, and imagination-filled author.  Her books are wonderful, playful, serious, insightful, fun and interesting.
 
If you like her stuff, go to her web site (http://www.leemac.freeserve.co.uk/) and e-mail about it.  I’m afraid we may not have much time left to tell her how wonderful her stories are.
 
A list of her books is here:
 
And she wrote Howl’s Moving Castle. If you haven’t seen the Japanese Animation Film of this book, go do so immediately.  It’s fantastic!
 
I enjoy her books so much. Am delighted to see there are still a few I have not read.  She writes for every age and both sexes. Her imagination is boundless and whimsical.

Sail

May. 15th, 2010 11:08 am
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The sail that came with our Viking Faering boat, Skogar Þrostur, has a lovely blackbird (her original name) painted on it.  But the paint is very stiff and makes the sail hard to handle.  So we bought another piece of canvas to make into a plain white sail which will take very little time to do except that the sewing machine no longer works!  ARGH!

It's an older, more-rugged-than-these-youngsters sewing machine and has worked well for donkey's years.  It's sewed all my nephews' Christmas stockings and many, many, many childhood outfits for my stepdaughter.  The machine seems to be OK but the pedal no longer works and now we'll have to find a sewing machine repair person and find out how much.  Sigh.


I realize a boat is a hole in the water into which one throws money; but we haven't actually spent any money on the boat.  We've bought a plastic portable garage, and ground anchors after the garage blew into the back yard, had the trailer re-wired, the front of the trailer re-welded and the tires on the trailer replaced and now the sewing machine.  It's ridiculous.

Just wait until we get around to re-painting the boat!

It's a good thing we LOVE doing demos so much it's all worth it!
  The demo in Blak Rose was so much fun we can't wait for next weekend at the Daily Life Schola and to find more venues.
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On May 8th we, alas! had to miss The Workshop In The Other Room field trip to visit goats and nurseries, because we went to the Vinland Games event in the Shire of Blak Rose.  We brought our Viking Faering boat and spent the day talking about Viking boats, Viking history, Viking culture and Viking boats.
 
We had a fantastic time.  There were many other classes besides our Viking Faering class and we attended the “Diet and Nutrition among Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Viking” class by Lady Ragnveig Snorradottir which was thorough, fascinating, and packed a very dense amount of information into an hour. 
 
Nutritional information from middens, fecal waste, pond pollen, skeletal and dental remains.  Fascinating!  And some of it has relevance even today.  Dental structure changes in developing teeth as babies are weaned from breast milk to cereals with fewer protiens happened back then just as they happen today. She got through all her material clearly and boy did we have to pay attention to so much information in an hour!  Wonderful class.
 
Carowyn Silveroak taught a glass bead class that I couldn't attend, alas. But I saw the beads she made and brought as examples for the students to look at, and what a dizzying variety she's made since I taught a glass bead class in Silver Rylle years ago!  They run the gammut of time periods and techniques.  Lovely work.  She's even been making her own miliflori.
 
I handed out some fliers with the class schedule for the Daily Life Schola next week (http://www.bbm.eastkingdom.org/Bowmansrest/schola.html). We may get a few people from down there to come--they sounded very interested.
 
The feast and dayboard were delicious!  What a splendid spread.  I was told this was Ketterlyn der Wilde's first feast as head cook and she did a wonderful job.  Day board, the main feast and even a special feast for the "Odin's Table" where spaces were auctioned off to raise money.  Everything was delicious and it all looked well researched for a Viking feast.  And hot, too, despite a problem with the electricity in the kitchen.
 
The site was lovely.  I think it would make a great site for a Crown Tourney or Archery Championship. There are acres of space, an archery range, a playground.  There's an ampheteatre where court can be held.  The hall can hold a feast for about 75 people.  There are even shower stalls.  Parking is a bit tight but I'm sure that can be worked around.  The kitchen is not industrial; but I think Ketterlyn proved that a delicious and hearty feast and dayboard can be made in that space.
 
The people in Blak Rose are friendly and hospitable.  We felt very welcome.  Friderich Swartzwalder autocratted a fun and informative event with great food and lots of activities for everyone.  Huzzah!

Soap!

May. 13th, 2010 07:56 pm
anarra: (Default)
April 17, 2010
We went to Old Sturbridge Village and watched them make soap. It will take fewer ashes than I thought. So here's what I think will work. Not sure when I'll actually DO it, though. I want to get notes down so I'll remember. (AEflgiva, I will not be doing this in May. It's sodium hydroxide lye and water for that. But I will write this down on a handout and discuss. Can't do this in a one hour class! I will at least bring a container of lye water to float an egg in to show everyone.)

Punch a hole in the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket. Fill the bottom two inches with straw. Fill it the rest of the way with ashes we saved this winter. Pour boiling water over the ashes just until a little bit drips out the hole. Let sit for 5 days.

Then pour a gallon or so of boiling water over the seeped ashes. Collect the brown lye water in quart batches. Put a fresh egg in to see if it will float. If it does, and the bit that sticks up out of the water is about the size of a quarter, then the lye is strong enough. Keep collecting lye water until it loses strength.

Add 3/4 of a pound of tallow or lard per gallon of lye water and boil for a looooong time. Stir every 5 or 10 minutes. When the soap has reduced to a pancake batter-like consistency, test to see if it's saponified. Dribble a bit on a plate and see if it feels and looks like soap. Too gray and greasy and it needs a bit more lye. Too crystalline and crumbly and it needs more fat. If it looks and feels like soap, then try dropping some in a glass of water. If it holds its shape and does not leave a greasy film on the water, then whisk briskly. If it suds up, it's ready.

If you've used lard, then stir in 1 cup of salt per original gallon of lye water. Stir until salt dissolves. This will harden up the soap almost immediately to a a gooey consistency.

Let sit overnight.

The next day, remove soap from pot and discard any lye water remaining under the soap. Cut off any obviously icky bits off the bottom. Re-melt sap in the pan and then pour into a cloth lined box (or other mold). Let sit until hardened.

If you use suet or tallow, you probably won't need to add any salt to harden the soap.

In the 19th century, housewife advice books advised burning bones and egg shells in the fire place to add calcium to the ashes. Calcium will also harden the soap like salt does. Another piece of advice was to soak your salt pork fat in water to remove the salt before using it to make soft soap, or your soap would harden due to the salt.

Salt removes water and so hardens the soap.

In the 19th century and earlier soap was mostly used to wash clothes. Also for shaving. Not as much for washing bodies. I wonder if it was used to wash fleeces? And I need to do some research into medieval soap as I have done almost none. I assume it was used mostly for clothes, too.
anarra: (Default)
Saturday March 13, 2010
I seem to have made kefir, a drinkable yogurt. Not what I had in mind.

I'll leave it heating longer; but if it doesn't behave itself by bedtime it's getting the whey drained out of it.

Not sure what went wrong. May not have heated the milk hot enough the first time. Or perhaps it was still too hot when I added the yogurt culture.

On a brighter note, Thai for birthday lunch. Yum!!
anarra: (Default)
Friday March 12, 2010
Bought plain yogurt tonight for the cultures. Milk heating now. On Sunday I should have my own yogurt!

It's got to cost less than buying little 6 ounce pots. And I can drain off some of the whey to make it Greek style if I want. And sweeten it with berries.

Lots of Indian recipes call for yogurt. Saag Panir, here I come!

Debating whether to talk about yogurt in the cheese class at the Daily Life Schola in May. Probably not. Though Roman 'cheese' included what we would think of as yogurt today. I made Roman fried honey balls for the cooking class two years ago using Greek yogurt as the 'cheese' since it made more sense than cheddar! :rolleyes:


Janet made Spanish bread last night. It makes three loaves so she did one plain, one rosemary, and one olive and walnut. This is the recipe she's going to use for the wood fired brick oven at the Schola. The rosemary was really good. Next time the plain goes into a bread pan so it makes better peanut butter toast.

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