Saturday, December 26, 2015

Overwhelmed and underproductive: Winter.

In theory, the concept of winter is excellent. Rest and reflection. A winding down of activity to allow for the shedding of old and outdated energies and the preparation for new ones. Cool.
Lifeline events for the three main
protagonists and antagonists.
It just under six feet long.
Which is awesome for the earth, because she (or he, or it, depending on the earth energies you have in your area) will automatically start up again when THE TIME HAS COME. 

I, however, will not. I have to kick start that shit every year and it gets harder and harder each year. And the longer the breaker, the more energy it takes getting started again. Kind of like an ocean liner or a semi. Better to leave it running in a low-ish power state because getting it started again is a real bitch.

Now that most of the holiday nonsense is over I can get back to making my habits habitual.

Line of rulers,
 timeline history of the kingdom,
map (I have a bigger one),
house and guild symbols,
And inspirational symbols.
Here are pictures of some of the things I've been working on that are related to my book. I also have pages of written notes both for the novel and for possible short stories.

I've been writing a bit too.

But I feel I need to pull back a little, go back to a commitment of at least fifteen minutes a day writing, but this time focusing on things that are NOT my book.

Soooo...the blog entry is not going to count toward that. But I feel a written statement of this affirmation is necessary. Also, this pictorial evidence of my work-in-progress actually being worked on is affirming for me.

I have found that when I do some non-book writing and then go back to my book writing, I feel renewed. Sometimes when you stare at the same three chapters for two weeks they start to seem repetitive and dull.

Things that can be discussed for this writing practice: SCA research for my persona, Valdis Skjaldardottir. I still need a specific time period for her. The Norse settlements and expansions - and yes, invasions - covered a broad area and a time period over over 200 years. Though two hundred years does not seem like much in the broad scheme of history, there was much variation in through the time and the geographical areas. 

Valdis Skjaldardottir:
Who is she?
First attempt at an approximation of Norse dress. I needed it fast for an event, that's why it's so simplistic. The next one will be better, proper fitting, proper fabric, proper pattern. But there is a huge variation in styles just for the apron dress and there are supposed to be brooches, which I couldn't afford when I was making it. The under tunic needs work, it was already too big when I made it and I've lost weight since then.

I need armor and arms for my heavy weapons combat training

I want to study basic things too, things common to the whole breadth of the SCA time period that will also help me bring my writing to life, like knowing how to build a proper fire: what wood is best, how much is needed for a small campfire through one night,
 lighting it with flint and tinder, how to heat water and cook basic food on it (like a bird or rabbit) on it, how to keep it going, and how to properly put it out when you are continuing on your noble quest the next day. I need most of the same information for fireplace fires too, both of wood and of charcoal. Those I also need to know how to bank to keep them from going out.

Then there's food: both for camping and living, medicine, grooming, clothing, care and use of horses, and on and on and on. There's plenty of blog entry material right there.

I also have a green belt test coming up for my martial arts class, there's some angst there. I'm trying to train for it. I've been limping along in my fitness goals, but the green belt test is a fixed goal, it's thirteen weeks away. Time to buckle down.
A lady and her knight.
In closing, I will leave you with this picture. I don't know who it depicts or who painted it, if anyone knows for sure (as in you can give me a link for authenticity) please tell me. I'm usually not into the "damsel and her knight" ideal, as the damsel usually had almost no control over her own life and what the hell is with these dresses? What are you supposed to be able to do in those dresses except stand around and look pretty? But sometimes the depiction is just too painfully beautiful.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

I never made it to the print shop.

Self: Oh. My. God. That story is amazing. I just sat here for three hours writing this short story. This is a pretty damn good story, I think. And look, I have nine more ideas!

Myself: Well, I think it's way over the top. I know we like melodrama, but come on...

Self: Shut up. It's perfect. Well, sort of perfect. It's okay. Damn it, maybe it is too much. Is it too much?

Myself: By the way, we were supposed to go to the print shop today. Now we can't go, it's too late. And we're on call tomorrow.

Self: Shut up.

Myself: Do you even know where you could submit this to get it published? Magazines? Anything?You don't, do you.

Self: I hate you.

I can't believe I wrote a short story. I severely dislike writing short stories. I'm not good at it. Short stories are too....SHORT. They resolve too quickly. But if I can get some short stories published I might have a better chance getting a book published.

And I was whinging to myself this morning that maybe we could do what my husband told me to try, taking out a piece of my book and expanding it. I thought "But there's nothing there that's really a story with a beginning, middle, and end that can resolve quickly enough to be a short story. There's too much interconnection."

'Cause that's how I roll, with connections.

Also, I didn't want to give out snippets of my actual book. I'm very protective of it. I want it published all at once.

In the story.
And then my Muse threw something at me (I think it was a rock. A little rock.) and I sat down and wrote for three hours.

I have a full first draft of a story plus several really good ideas for others and a few that may not work but sound good. Ten stories in all.

Guess I'm going to the book store after my last day at work on Sunday to look for magazines that publish fantasy stories.

Write, edit, rewrite: that's how the story goes.

Do you ever have the nagging feeling you're supposed to be somewhere?

It's nine am and I'm not at work, at the Massage Envy Spa at which I was employed. Barring holidays, I have worked 9am -2pm for two years.

So, I finished NaNoWriMo. I won! That just means I successfully completed the 50,000 word goal. Printed out it's 100 pages, plus a few hand-written pages I haven't gotten to yet because I've been working on the map of my world and the life timelines for the three major characters to show major life events and intersection points.

I need the map to show nexus power points, rivers, boundary lines for the various barons' territories, etc. Helps me plot who did what, where, and why. Just drawing the map has helped me with the political plot line (as opposed to the romantic plot line, which intersects at various points), because that was very weak. Basically it was, "The duke tries to take over because reasons." Now the dukes plans have been going on for awhile

I have this nagging twitch that I should actually be at the computer starting my first rewrite, but these timelines and maps are important. In fact I keep jumping up from writing this update so I can fix something I just thought of. I need to firmly establish dates and places so I don't confuse myself. I need to know exactly when events happened so I don't have a, "Hey, earlier they said they didn't meet until a year ago, now it's two years?" I don't like when that happens. Sort of pulls you out of the world of story.

Oh and family trees for the three major characters and the three strongest supporting characters. And I still need to work on the history timeline of the realm, that's important too. When the historical invasions, wars, and peace treaties happened, when major cities were established, when the major keeps and castles were built. Also when the magisters guild was established.

So I am working on the story. These will all help me do the rewrite much more quickly, being able to reference a timeline instead of digging through pages of notes.

Now I'm going up to town to see about possibly having my rough draft bound, maybe spiral bound, so it will be easier to type from.

I'm really doing this. I really am writing a book.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Productivity. I haz it.

Just over par for NaNo word count for today and it's only 9:00 am. Par for day six is 10,000 words finished and I'm currently at 10,398. I'm taking a break. Still lots and lots of hours in the day to get ahead on count just in case.

I'm going to have a pumpkin doughnut and play Dragon Age for a bit.

My posse's on Xbox.
Dragon Age: Origins property of Bioware.

Wading in the shallows, swimming in the deeps.

My characters are changing. They are evolving, a little bit at a time, into people. It is strange to me, I invented them; I could feel them standing next to me, living and breathing. But now they are...faceting themselves? I guess? My characters characters and demeanor and outlook and personality are changing.
Let's go a bit deeper, shall we? Into the unspoken.

I believe their evolution bodes well for my novel. It's easier to overlook absurdities in plot when you're characters are real people, with real reactions and not each a paragon. If my protagonist characters live out my personal ideals in full they just aren't believable.

Good on you, characters! Way to be team players!!!!! Momma wants to severely cut back on her day job! If I can at least make what I am making now (which is not a great deal, I only work three days a week) I can afford to leave my main job, then I can concentrate even more of my energies on writing. Use up some of the eleven story ideas I have. Make a decent salary.

An atoll. I'm not sure what this lifeless atoll has to do with abundance.
But the ocean is significant. And pretty.
Lately I have had the feeling that the waves of chaos are carrying me towards certain change. There have been a few times in my life when I have had (what seem to be to me) very strong signals that a certain way is clear.

I've had a bit, lately. Okay, more than a bit.
I've also had that unsettled feeling that something bigger is coming.
Some days...most days, I feel so strongly that this is what I'm meant to do. I am a bet hedger; I rarely think in absolutes. I am a hesitater, a safety first girl. But I know I am meant to do this. Not I could do this. Not I should do this. Not even I can do this. I feel I am meant to do this. It is a certainty, that if I write and keep writing I will get published.

I am meant to be a writer of science fiction and fantasy, spanning several sub-genres. A published author, with an agent and everything.

Then...other days...I wonder if I'm just freaking delusional. a person standing in the mist. That is an odd silhouette.
Evocative, yes? Of what I'm not sure.
I need it to work on my subconscious a bit.
I need to go put pants on. I'm a secondary LMT at a chiro office, scheduled to work Fridays but if there's no one on my books I can just stay at home on-call. The office is only eight minutes from my house. But to be a conscientious on-call employee I should be wearing my work clothes while I work on my real work.

The chiro job I'm keeping. If I am able to leave my main job I'd still upkeep my CEs for my massage therapy license and my liability insurance. That's my bet hedge, staying nominally employed in my current field so that if I do need to look for another position I won't have a gap in my resume. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

BODY, SHOULDER, AND GROIN ARMOR: Because bruised ribs take weeks to heal.

Today's study in SCA heavy weapons combat gear is torso and groin protection. See page 13, section E. at the link.

I'm not doing too, too many pictures today because I need to finish this before my first client and after that client, if I have no other client, will be dedicated to my NaNo writing.

Body, Shoulder, and Groin Armor:
1. The kidney area and the floating ribs shall be covered with a minimum of heavy leather worn over .25 inch (6 mm) of closed-cell foam or equivalent padding.

Torso injuries will fuck you up. I've had a rib injury, a good knee blow to the left floating ribs dug up underneath and it took a week and a half at least to move without stabbing pain. I couldn't sneeze properly. It hurt to take a deep breath. Pleurisy, an infection of the lining of the lungs, can be a complication of broken ribs. My husband thinks I had a broken rib. I do not, I think it was only a bruised rib. It didn't hurt that much...well, as much as I surmise a truly broken rib would hurt...and it was mostly healed in three weeks. Okay, maybe four weeks. I was pissed I didn't get a visible bruise though, for as much as it did hurt.
Kidney belt: Windrose Armoury

Okay, enough about my bruised rib. There's also kidney damage to consider. Kidney injury can cause kidney failure. Left untreated you may have permanent kidney failure, which means life-long dialysis or kidney transplant.

All for want of a kidney belt. I think $200 is cheap when you consider the alternative of a lifetime of disability or possible death.

At this point I will I have read about the less expensive ways to make this protection. I like this one, so it's the one I'm talking about today.

There are also full torso protection items like combination steel back and breast plates, called a cuirass. There's a coat of plates or a brigandine, which are both leather garment with steel plates riveted on. They differ in the the size of the steel plates.

There's also lamellar armor, small leather plates laced together. I like this one particularly, just because I like the look but also because it's much closer the the period of my persona which is eighth or ninth century Norse, if you're just tuning in. I just now found this amazing resource for plastic lamellar plates and they have a suit builder, plug in your measurements and go and you can even set it for female measurements, WOW I AM NOW SUPER STOKED! I would prefer leather but this is a very nice alternative. A gambeson would be needed IMO, a sort of padded coat.

An example of lamellar body armour.

2. For men, the groin must be covered by a minimum of a rigid athletic cup (e.g., an ice hockey, soccer, karate, or baseball cup) worn in a supporter or fighting garment designed to hold the cup in place, or equivalent armor.

Haven't most of you gentleman worn a cup? Did they make you wear one in high school gym class? I'm sure you probably have your own resources for figuring that stuff out.

3. For women, groin protection of closed-cell foam or heavy leather or the equivalent is required to cover the pubic bone area. The wearing of a male athletic cup by female fighters is prohibited.

It was recommended to me by a young lady who knows what she's talking about to use the women's hockey shorts. I got the compression shorts which I find quite comfortable, but you can also get them in a loose boxer style.

4. Separate breast cups are prohibited unless connected by or mounted on an interconnecting rigid piece, for example, a heavy leather or metal breastplate.

It is my understanding that this rule is made because the separate breast cups can break apart, dig into your chest, and cause serious injury. That's just stupid. Don't do that.

Well, despite the inclusion of "shoulder" in the regulation heading, there was no explicit instruction for pauldrons or spaulders. As I have only six minutes left until my client gets here, we'll save that for another time.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

I don't how to ride a horse.

Er, that is, the more advanced mechanics of the activity. I know the basics. And done them. I don't know if you can really call that riding though. That's more like, I'm sitting on the horse and the horse is following it's friend on a track it's been on a thousand, thousand times before.

But how it feels to really ride, that I don't know.
Stunt rider.
That...will probably never be me.
But you have to admit, that is badass.

This lack of knowledge is making my current scene difficult. It's very difficult to write a fantasy novel without having people ride horses, unless you want to have people walk everywhere...and really, is that realistic? I know they did it in LOTR, partly, but you can travel so much faster on a horse. It won't make any sense if my group wanders around on foot.

Horses require care though. Feeding. Shelter. I don't know how to write about any of those things, I suppose I could just leave them out, but it will make it less believable.

I find it highly amusing that I can write about fighting with some small authenticity, but not horse back riding. I know how it feels to get hit and to hit someone, what it's like to be shoved into the wall, kneed in the ribs, and picked up and body slammed. Now, I don't know the extremes of a real fight, the extent of the pain, but I know the feel of the actions.

But I don't know about a basic method of transportation used by humans for thousands of years.

The solution is obvious yet unobtainable.

Take riding lessons. But riding lessons cost money. I haz no extra money at all, at all. And not time. But mostly it's the no money thing.
This photo is NOT a stunt rider, just a crazy Spaniard.
This photo was taken at a Las Luminarias festival.
I would call out Ramirez on this, but he's actually Egyptian so....

Well, I'll just have to muddle through and make the rest of the book so awesome that it the lame bits about riding get ignored and I'll make enough to take riding lessons.

No fire, thanks. I'll be perfectly happy to ride an impure horse.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Where did all this rope come from?

PSA: Googling the simple two word phrase "holding back" WILL net you a goodly number of Rule 34. I'm just sayin'.

It's the second day of NaNoWriMo, herein to be called NANO, or NaNo, for the obvious reason that it's less clunky and good lord, I'm dealing with enough clunky of my own making right now.

Thirty days, 50,000 words. Average 1667 words a day, you're gold. You win. Winning being completing the first draft, or 50,000 words of your first draft. After my first day of writing 1804 words I'm wondering how people cram a whole book into fifty thousand words. I have just two scenes and they need extensive addition. My inspiration comes to me in dialogue mostly and that's how I'm going to plow through, so lots and lots and lots of scene setting will need to be added later.

Oh my gods, wanting to go back and edit. Getting the dialogue and emotional junk down is the "easy" part. Not going back to add scenery and tweak the dialogue to perfection is kill-ing me. But if I did that I'd have perhaps four scenes by months end. And four scenes ain't a book. Unless you're super skilled and I, as yet, am not.

Pictured: Not me, but it's definitely how I feel, holding myself back from editing.
The above is apparently Killian Jones playing Captain Hook in Once Upon A Time. I never saw Killian (whose name I am stealing for my lists) because I didn't watch past the second season. Not because it wasn't good (Robert Carlyle as Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold is gloryful) but because I just can't seem to get the hang of television anymore, even on DVD.

My fictional writer declines to come out and play first thing in the morning, even with story notes to embellish. The caffeine must permeate the layers of my brain to the core to flip the fiction switch. But I have the need to hear the clickety-clack, so a blog entry does not go amiss. Stream-of-consciousness self-examinational bullshit is easy at six am. Fortunately I'm fortunate in the fact that today is Monday and I have plenty of free time, needing only to stop occasionally to switch over the laundry, My wonderful husband is all-the-way-May supportive of my dream to become a writer, but he does need work clothes to go to his job which pays the bills until I become slightly rich and a teensy bit famous. Really I'd settle for just earning what I earn now, but writing instead of being an licensed massage therapist.

Anyway, there's laundry and I should get some pell practice in at some point and dear god, the cat just laid a stink bomb in her pan and it's wafting over my desk as I type. I have to go clean that (literal) shit up stat. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Leap before you look, because the ground is a long way down and you'll just psyche yourself out.

I just signed up for NANOWRIMO.

I have now terrified myself.

I am crying. I am that terrified.

Okay, I've stopped now. But I'll start again in a few minutes. Hey, I have today and tomorrow to get over this.

I may need to throw up at some point. I'll let you know if that happens.

Well, my fortune cookie did tell me to stop worrying and take a chance. I just wrote about it yesterday. Even the title for that post, which I just sort of threw up there from my subconscious, is a sort of the essence of what NANOWRIMO is supposed to be about. "Don't mind the dull bits. They can be buffed out."

Calculated, if I can write just 1667 words a day, I can get to 50,000 by the end of the month. That's the goal, a rough draft of 50,000 words.

1667 words a day. Practically nothing.

Yeah, let's think positive. Sixteen hundred sixty-seven words a day is practically nothing. I have over 8,000 in notes already. That's approximately sixteen percent finished! Yay!

You probably won't see me again for a month. Everything else has to be put on hold, including SCA research.  Morning writing practice won't be posted anymore, because shit just got REAL.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Don't mind the dull bits. They can be buffed out.

You're not helping, fortune cookie.

My running science experiment is on hold.

I had my knee hyper-extended for me in second class last night. Just a bit, but it's enough to making running a bad idea.

I was sloppy last night, really bad form. Lot's of flailing. My instructor was nice about it, he nicely pointed out I was getting angry. I didn't feel angry. I mean, it didn't seem to me I was angry, not at him, just frustrated. I feel like I'm not making any progress. My poor blocking and dodging skills are really holding me back. There's no real way to fix that except blocking and dodging and I have zero place and time to practice that. There just isn't any.

It feels like there's a disconnect in my brain. Something that doesn't allow me to react with the appropriate block or dodge. I see the move coming at me: kick, jab, cross, roundhouse, whatever...but I just move some random part of my body.

And so this morning, I am more frustrated. Part of me actually has the drive to go out and run. I want to do something I know I can execute and improve on. Actually wanting to go out is so rare, it's killing me not to do it, but my common sense knows that's stupid with a capital S. In fact it's stupid in all caps. STUPID.

I know I have to stay in. I know this. Injury is bad. We're starting grappling cycle, I missed the last two grappling cycles, one due to injury, one due to family stuff that took all my energy. Now I am FINALLY getting to take the actual cycle class, as opposed to learning things here and there in second class.
Dick's is the place where the cool hang out.
My favorite home furnishings store.

I need a bag. I need some space. I need a bag and some space and to not have my knee hyper-extended today. I need to not go in to work in Algonquin anymore.

For a long, long time I was never sure what I wanted. Most of my life. Know I know what I want, almost exactly what I want, and I can't get to it. It's within sight, but out of my reach.

I just have to keep going. There's a way around these hurdles. There has to be.

Because really? This is nothing. I have a copy of "I Am Malala" sitting on my nightstand. I haven't even read it yet. I can't handle the emotional roller coaster right now. But having Malala looking at me every day when I wake up reminds me how good I have it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

RUNNING: My love/hate relationship.

So. I run. I started running for a very specific reason. The main protagonist in one of my best story ideas runs and loves it. The opening scene is kick-ass,  it opens with her running barefoot through the corridors of a space station.

If I'm going to write about running I want to know what it's really like. I hadn't run for a long, long, LONG time and I'd never enjoyed it in the past. Fortunately for me, there's a program called Couch to 5K that can baby-step a person along to running a 5K. It worked well, I ran the Gobbler Gallop last year. I left off running last winter because I have a hate/hate relationship with frigid cold and couldn't afford decent compression pants and one of those super neat face hood things that make you look like a ninja.
Gobbler Gallop 5K, November 2014

And I found it very difficult to get back to it after the winter was over. Since it warmed up enough this year I've been very sporadic about getting out there.

But I can't seem to love running. Part of the reason is I have a genetic condition called beta thalassemia minor. Short explanation, it lessens the amount of oxygen my blood carries. That sounds a bit scary, but with the minor form it's mostly an inconvenience. But I'll probably never achieve the pace I want, because my blood just doesn't carry enough oxygen when I demand more. Right now I'm sort of stalled at 13:30 on a good day.

Insert inspirational platitudes here.
This is my white belt level shirt I got when I started mixed martial arts last year. We attain belt levels and you can buy the belt if you want, but the instructors prefer the level shirts for the mat. It's hard to see the mission statement below the words martial arts. It says, "Moving Beyond Limits".

 I know I can still train up and get somewhat faster than 13:30 , but it's very slow progress, so running doesn't give me the instant gratification of martial arts or heavy weapons practice. Doing an submission hold into a take-down, punching someone in the face or landing a good roundhouse, hearing that armour ring when you land a good blow with your stick...that's all an instant gratification. Even RECEIVING all those blows is a high.

I have only once achieved a runner's high, the endorphin rush. No, wait...twice.

Chasing the dragon: dolled up like a clown to do
pell work in the back yard. Even in this get-up,
that tree never saw me coming.'s what I do like about running. It's the way I feel afterward. I feel wrung out. I feel whole-body sore and clean inside, like I've burned toxins out of my brain. I don't usually feel that way after MA class or weapons practice. Even if I'm exhausted after those sessions, I feel jittery and high, always wanting more, more, more. Sometimes I don't sleep well afterwards, because even though my body is exhausted my mind is high as balls on adrenaline.

So, this wrung out feeling I get after running, which I love, has to be achieved through thirty minutes of shoving my body over the ground and through the air for no immediate gratification and the bitch at the back of my brain HATES it. do I conquer her? I can't rid myself of her, she's part of me, she gives me courage to do other things.  How do I cage and muzzle her long enough to get what I want? How do I make myself want that wrung out feeling as much, or more, as I want my adrenaline high?

Today I tried to concentrate on improving my form. As you can see in that top picture, my form was mostly shuffling. Really that's just jogging. I need to push myself harder to maintain a more upright posture, relax my upper body, pick my damn feet up, and make my strides longer.

Science the shit out of this.

Maybe that will work. One can but try. Because the running will improve my endurance on the mat. I've achieved purple belt level and now it gets tough. No more group testing. We'll still be doing end-of-cycle checks, but they won't be for belt levels. When I go for green belt it'll be me against the class in a specific series of skill tests. I participated in someone else's test last month, as an opponent. It was really tough on him and he's fourteen year old with a black belt in another discipline.

Also I want more endurance for heavy weapons combat. That armour is fucking heavy. I sweated through a gambeson (it's like a quilted coat, it goes under everything else) last week, that's a lot of sweat. And until I really know what I'm doing I can't risk wearing anything lighter.

That's my deep dive for the today. I'm hoping the lead instructor will be teaching tonight. He just got onto the police force so sometimes he's not there, but when he is we usually have second class and that's where shit gets real and it's awesome.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

NECK ARMOUR - Because breathing and not being paralyzed is awesome.

Today's morning writing practice will be a discussion of the neck protection required for SCA heavy weapons combat. I'm not feeling nearly as wordy today; I have a lot to do. Meeting my son for lunch and we're going to see The Martian.

D. Neck Armor
The neck, including the larynx, cervical vertebrae, and first thoracic vertebra must be covered by one or a combination of the following and must stay covered during typical combat situations, including turning the head, lifting the chin, etc.:
1. The helm
2. A gorget of rigid material
3. A mail or heavy leather camail or aventail that hangs or drapes to absorb the force of a blow. If the camail or aventail lays in contact with the larynx, cervical vertebrae, or first thoracic vertebra, that section must be padded with a minimum of .25 inch (6mm) of closed cell foam or equivalent
4. A collar of heavy leather lined with a minimum of .2 5in (6mm) of close cell foam or equivalent.
--The Society for Creative Anachronism, Marshal's Handbook

Let's define a few of the unfamiliar words.

Gorget -

 (pronounced GOR-jet or gor-ZHAY) — Armored collar made from hinged plates or laminations. - Medieval Lifestyle 

They can also be made of leather, as long as they meet standards. 

Brigandine Gorget
Windrose Armoury
I like this one. I  like it very much. I don't know why. There are plates on the underside of that leather, that's what the rivets are for. But I'm unsure about the fact that it ties instead of buckles. You can also get a kit to assemble yourself, which I would love. I really like the idea of making my own pieces as much as possible. When you make something yourself and put your effort and sweat (sometimes even a little blood, you know I'm arcane like that) and energy into it, it's fully yours. If I could cut all the pieces myself it would be even better.

Hm. I think I've seen buckles on other websites. Maybe I could replace that tie with a buckle.

Brigandine Gorget
Windtree Crafts
Has a buckle on either side AND comes in red.
No kit option though.
Stainless steel gorget
Wintertree Crafts
Eh. I just don't like it as much,
though it's definitely the least expensive option for ready made..

Aventail - A flexible curtain of mail that attaches to the inside of a helm and covers the neck and shoulders. Can also be worn simply buckled around the neck.

Camail and aventail appear to be used interchangeably in many places, but when I searched for the images the camail is definitely more of a hood, although a mail hood is a coif in many of the definitions pages I've found. Confusing. The pictures I chose show basic neck protection but they can drape all the way down over the shoulders, past the shoulder joint.

Camail - also called a mail coif.
I think it's supposed to close up more around the neck.
Can't find photo credit.
Steel Mastery
The leading medieval crafts manufacturer in Ukraine.
So...not buying anything from them, shipping would be too dear.

Would my persona have worn any of these? Probably not. Gorgets are a much later period item. But the bosses (and common sense) say neck protection, so we have neck protection. 

I'd prefer the brigandine leather option. Can feel the leather under your fingertips, can you smell it? That's a beautiful scent.

Monday, October 26, 2015

HELMS: Because blunt head trauma is inconvenient.

Today we will combine morning writing practice, heavy weapons research, and persona research. We're having a threesome.

Yeah. I went there. Get over it.

I need to learn about all the pieces of armor required for practice. I need to know what those pieces are and what they need to be composed of for practice and also I want to know what the historical look and use. Thirdly, I want to know if it is relevant to my persona. For a properly researched persona, you keep to the materials and styles found for your people and region. One has slightly more leeway with a Norse persona, given their propensity for travel, trade, and good ole 'taking stuff off that dead guy who doesn't need it anymore now that they've killed him'.  But there is still a line of authenticity I don't care to cross. I would still have to stay within my time period and within the geographical boundaries of Viking raids and settlements for that time period.

Semi Custom Armor Norse Ocular
from Aesir Metalworks
I don't know if this meets all the standards.
Enough of that. Let's talk about HELMS! What is a helm? Armor for the head. Why don't they call it a helmet? Well, I suppose some people do. But in order to distinguish from the modern day usage of helmet, as when referring to motorcycle, bicycle, or sport related safety equipment, I'm going to stick with helm.

We'll begin with the SCA requirements for a helm (see page 11 on that link). Your brain is important. It helps you read blogs, drive cars to fight practice, and do some type of work for which you get money with which you can buy things made of leather and steel. The SCA would like to keep all it's members happy and healthy because sharing a love of historical minutiae and the desire to bash your friends with large sticks is just fun, dammit. Therefore, the SCA requires people wishing to participate in heavy weapons fighting to wear a helm meeting minimum safety standards, to keep everyone's higher brain functions functioning, so everyone can keep having fun. You will wear brain protection and fucking like it.

This handsome specimen is a
Basic Viking with Ocular Helm from
West Coast Armoury.
I don't know if this meets all the standards either.
As there is loaner gear available, I'm not purchasing a helm anytime soon because they are expensive and I want to make sure what I'm buying is going to meet standards. Don't buy stuff just because it's pretty, people. This adage applies to just about anything. Also, just because some individual on eBay says their stuff is legal don't make it so. In both the safety meaning and in the "totally not stolen out of someone's gear box at the last event" meaning. So I will save my pennies and consult with more learned people before I shell out for that helm.

Now. What did the Vikings of the 8th and 9th century wear into battle to protect their head? Not much, according to the researchers at Regular fellows probably didn't wear anything more than their regular hats to keep them warm. Only the extremely wealthy could afford to own armor looking anything like the helms on this page. And commonly they didn't look like these. They were more of a metal bowl, to my eyes: "...during the Viking era, helmets typically were made from several pieces of iron riveted together (right), called a spangenhelm style of helm. It's easier to make a helmet this way, requiring less labor, which may be why it was used." 


"Because iron was difficult to make during the Viking era, it was expensive. As a result, helmets were expensive and thus not common. Anyone who could afford one would certainly want one, but not too many people could afford one. Helmets were prized and carefully preserved, repaired as needed, and passed from generation to generation. Some may well have been used for centuries before the iron became too thin and weak to provide any real protection." - article, Viking Arms and Armor: Viking Helmets

"How rich a Viking was determined his defensive weapons. A rich man might also own chainmail and an iron helmet. Chainmail was difficult to make and no doubt quite expensive. Helmets were basically an iron bowl that protected the head, and many had a nose piece to protect the face. Poorer Vikings without access to chainmail wore thick, padded leather garments which gave some protection from edged weapons." - article, Viking Weapons and Armor; Defensive Weapons.

What's the last word for today on helms for persona? Overlooking the fact that my persona is a woman and Viking women just didn't do that...if you were rich you could have a helmet. It wasn't inaccurate to the period. If you were very rich, it might even resemble what I would need to wear on the field. Cool. I love it when a plan comes together.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Friday 5 for Oct. 23, 2015 - Consumables

Friday 5 on Sunday because I only have twenty minutes before my next client and I need to get in morning writing practice. Can I do this? If I leave out the pictures, maybe.

What dehydrated foods (meant to be consumed that way) do you enjoy?

What level of enjoyment are we talking? I can eat meat jerky of most kinds. It tastes good. But it gets stuck in my teeth and I don't like the aftertaste of the spices. Can jerky be made without the spices? I'll have to look that up.

Dried fruit. I really like dried fruit. All kinds, but dried cherries and peaches are the best. You have to watch that though, even with no added sugar the naturally occurring sugar content is high.

What’s your favorite dish made by stuffing one food with another?

Hm. Cheese and mushroom ravioli. I don't know if that's my favorite, but it's pretty good. Blue cheese stuffed hamburgers are very, very good.

What’s your favorite dish made by rolling something up?

Hm...favorite. Cinnamon rolls, maybe. Enchiladas! Cheese and green chile enchiladas. But not enchiladas and cinnamon rolls in the same meal. That does not sound appetizing at all.

What’s a meal you frequently consume primarily because the cleanup is quick?

Toast. I eat way too much toast. And a quick sort of quesadilla, where I take a small whole wheat tortilla and sprinkle it with shredded cheese and melt it in the microwave.

Raw vegetables fruit are very fast prep and cleanup too.

What’s a food that’s made much better because of what you sprinkle on it?

Hm. Popcorn is terribly bland without salt, but not inedible. I'd say it's much better with salt. But not too much. I love old-school popcorn. I make it on the stove top. I'm really good at it. I taught my step-daughter how to do it, she makes it all the time. I have a special way of making it. I'm not giving it away. My step-father taught me how to do it. Actually, I just watched him and copied, I don't think there was any formal lesson involved.

Ha! Two minutes to spare!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Hey. Do you ever wonder why we're here? A unified concept which is other than the sum of it's parts.

Did you ever experience a fundamental shift in your perception of yourself?

I'm all deep and stuff today. I'm trying not to go too deep and scare myself. I do still have stuff to get done today. Run, laundry, dishes, tai chi and karate class, grocery shopping. Start thinking too much first thing in the morning and I'm useless for the rest of the day, walking into things and not listening to people because I'd rather be writing. I haven't been to tai chi and karate in two weeks due to illness, I have to be there and pay attention today. I'm supposed to be focusing on developing six self defense moves for various directional attacks, incorporating the moves practiced in the si yu lung kata.

No. I never wonder why we're here. Semper Fi, bitch.

So let's get on with it, because if I'm going to make myself go run I need to do it soon and not use the fact that it's too close to the time we have to leave for class as an excuse.

I've always found the concept of gestalt interesting.

Gestalt - a configuration or pattern of elements so unified as a whole that it cannot be described merely as a sum of its parts. {source}
Just a tilt of the head can change your perception.

A collection of physical, biological, psychological or symbolic elements that creates a whole, unified concept or pattern which is other than the sum of its parts, due to the relationships between the parts (of a character, personality, entity, or being). {source}

Borrowed from the middle high German word gestalt meaning shape, form, figure, image (of a person), a person, or character. {source}

When I am doing things I know I am meant to be doing, I feel different. My body feels different. I feel like...the actual DNA of my body is changing. 

Yeah, I kind of feel ridiculous saying that out loud. But can I help it if it's true? I can not. Denying a personal truth isn't good for your soul. 

So I'm doing more things I know I am meant to be doing and feel myself changing (slowly, very slowly) and trying to disregard the fear that comes with the idea that I'm being selfish somehow by doing things I like.

When I was searching for images for "gestalt" I found this quote from Ida P. Rolf. 

I find this next bit fascinating.

Dr. Ida P. Rolf developed a form of structural integration bodywork, now called Rolfing. "Rolfing Structural Integration works on this web-like complex of connective tissues to release, realign and balance the whole body, thus potentially resolving discomfort, reducing compensations and alleviating pain. Rolfing SI aims to restore flexibility, revitalize your energy and leave you feeling more comfortable in your body.

Essentially, the Rolfing process enables the body to regain the natural integrity of its form, thus enhancing postural efficiency and your freedom of movement."

I'm a massage therapist, so I'd heard of Rolfing, though I've never experienced it. When I was in school some of my instructors had received it, it can be quite painful I'm told (freeing up things that have been stuck for a long, long time can be excruciating) , but ultimately exhilarating.

So I randomly landed on an image for a quote by a person, who created a system of transformation, which is related the work I do now, speaking about an idea I've been thinking about for awhile. Because the work I do now is...not as fulfilling as it should be...I'm attempting a transformation to a thing that feels more right, despite the fact that I have very little idea what I'm doing.

I find all these connections transformative. This action coming together with that realization, painful, scary changes that you do to yourself that ultimately leave you free.

Okay, enough estorics for this morning. Time to go exert myself.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Who's your Viking daddy? or What's in a name?: Part 2.

As with Part One of this fascinating quest, any thing in bold italics is a direct quote from The Viking Answer Lady's site. 

Today we look at the second part of my Viking persona name, the patronymic which tells people who your daddy was. Sometimes they used the matronymic, telling people who your momma was, but that was rare. 

The simplest explanation is, if your father is Thor and you are his daughter Ragnhildr, your name is Ragnhildr Thorsdottir.

The more complicated explanation is that it's more slightly complicated than that. There might be slight changes to the genetive case of the patronymic (I think I'm using those words correctly...don't quote me). 

For example, the name I like best for my father is Skjoldr, "Identical with Old Icelandic skjold, genitive skjaldar, "shield." Skjoldr is the name of the mythical founder of the Danish kings, a son of the god Óðinn. [Go big or go home, baby. My first name of Valdis is totally vindicated.] It appears in use as a human name in Njáls saga." [Okay, fine. Whatever. Ruin my fun.]

Since Skjoldr ends with -dr, the ending -r will change to -ar for the genetive case and...for some reason not explained the 'o' would change to an 'a'. So my partonymic would be Skjaldardottir.

So there's the explanation of that before we start wading through men's names. There are many more recorded men's names than women's, so the lists are quite long. I'm going to start with the 'j' names first. Because 'j'.

Wow. That's it? I was hoping for an
actual crest of boar hair. Lame.
Reconstruction of Valsgarde Helmet
Jorkell - Jorkelsdottir: The first element Jór- is from the OW.Norse noun *jórr(derived from Primitive Scandinavian *eburaR), "wild boar," originally with a sense of "wild boar" but coming to mean "prince" because of the boar-crested helmets such men were said to have worn. The second element -ketill, originally "kettle" but meaning also "helmet" or "chieftain with helmet." Names with the -ketill second element often have a side form using -kell. [So...Prince with a helmet. Or...something.]

Kali - Kaladottir: Occurs in OW.Norse as both a personal name and a by-name, Kali. Derived from the OW.Norse verb kala "to freeze, to be cold." [Hm. Nope.]

Einarr - Einarsdottir: The first element Ei- or Ein- comes from *aina, "one, alone, single." The second element -arr has several possible origins. It may be from *-harjaR, "army leader, general, warrior", or from *-warjaR "one who wards, defender", or from *-gaiRaR"spear." The name comes from *Aina-harjaRand is directly related to einherjar, the word for the warriors in Valholl. [Well. A single warrior. A lone fighter. That works.] One of the most common names in Iceland and Norway from the earliest times. Also found in Denmark as the runic inscriptions æinarennar and in Danish Latin sources as Enarus. Anglo-Scandinavian forms include Ainar, Eineri. The name Einarr occurs in many sagas. [I sort of like this one. Despite the fact it's terribly common.]

Leikr - Leiksdottir From OW.Norse leikr "play, weapon-play, battle" or may represent a short form of masculine names inLeik-, -leikr, -lakR. [Heh. There ya go. I sort of like this one.]

Naemr - Naemsdottir From the OW.Norse adjective næmr "quick at learning", "one who is very composed and confident". [I like this one, it's a sort of positive affirmation deal. The 'ae' in this name is supposed to sort of crammed together when written properly and I'm not sure of the pronunciation because I don't understand -heh- the notations on this page.]

Okay. I think that's enough. 

Oh, hey. Have I told you how amazing this song is? I can't stop listening to it. I need her album. That's Elle King's Ex's and Oh's

I think I'm torn between Skjaldardottir and Einarsdottir. I like the 'skj' together. I just like the way it looks written out, but it's hard to pronounce. Have you every lived with a last name that's hard to pronounce? I've had two, my maiden name and my first married name.

Is 'Einar' any easier to pronounce? I think it is. And really, my opinion is the only one that counts.

So the options are Valdis Skjaldardottir or Valdis Einarsdottir. I just the Googled the second name. There is a real person named Valdis Einarsdottir on Facebook. I don't want a real modern person's name.

Okay, Valdis Skjaldardottir. to pronounce it? Hm. More research. Yay!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Epiphany! I hadz one!

Last Tuesday I went to my very first heavy weapons practice session, which was awesome. Awesome. Awesome. AWESOME!!! There, that conveys the appropriate amount of awesome. I went again last night but last Tuesday was my first time ever, so that's what I'm writing about. Also, I started this post last week and want to use.

So, back to last Tuesday. I got strapped into loaner armor. Let me tell you, having people pull stuff out a box and someone says "That won't fit her, she's too little," is fun right off the bat.

My new friends helped me strap and buckle things into place. It's a little disconcerting having people dress me, sometimes more than one person at a time. But it has to be worn correctly for safety and comfort and some of those straps and buckles and pins are hard to reach by yourself. The necessary coverage is head and face, neck front and back, kidneys, groin, hand, wrist, forearm and elbow protection, and knee and thigh protection.

The picture below does NOT show what I was actually wearing, it's just a very clear picture of most of the essential pieces. The picture below also does not show the helm. The helm has to be "...constructed from steel which has a thickness of no less than .0625 (that is, 1/16) inch (1.6 mm), or of equivalent material." There's eight more requirements the helm has to meet on construction and protection, I won't list them all. That's from the Society for Creative Anachronism's Marshal's Handbook.
Brain bucket and groin protection not shown.
Photo: Her SCA Blog
The photo shows plastic armor (don't let the word plastic fool you, I wore some borrowed plastic armor last night that was very thick, hard as a rock, and very nicely shaped to the female form as well), but you can wear leather and steel too, as long as they meet the safety requirements.

Pictured: A pell.
Well, that's exciting, eh?
Thank you, Cunnan.
I was given a rattan sword, at least I think it was rattan, there's options there too and it was covered with duct tape and a round shield it was red with...some kind of yellow wreath? I can't remember, anyway it was pretty but super heavy and then I got to start learning some moves! They taught me the correct way to hold the shield and the sword, the correct way to swing, a simple pell exercise called a 1-6 drill I can do to practice movement and create muscle memory. The drill is about half way down the page on that link if you care to see it. I don't have a rattan sword yet, but I can use the heavy foam I got from martial arts class I can use. Don't let the word foam fool you either, it's a sword for practicing movement but if you get smacked with it it hurts.

I don't have a pell but as you can see it's basically a pole. Since I'll be using a foam sword and focusing on movement and form, I can use the pole for my laundry line or the large tree I have in the back yard. Though I don't know how the tree will feel about that, but it's not like I'll be removing bark or anything. I can strap on as much of my martial arts gear as possible, use the kick pad we have that is shield shaped (complete with straps) and practice moving around in a somewhat constricted fashion while I do my pell work. I'm going to look like a complete idiot, dancing around my backyard decked out in MA safety gear, wearing boots and gi pants, and using a red foam sword to hit a tree.

I can hardly find a fuck to use on the possible apparent idiocy of my appearance to my neighbors. In fact I can't find a one. I'm just fresh out of fucks. 'Cause I spent them out on the grass the past two Tuesdays, sweating through a borrowed gambeson and getting smacked in the helmeted head with a rattan sword, which was ridiculously awesome.

Zevran Arainai's catchphrase (one of them anyway): "We are ridiculously awesome!"
Thank you, Bioware.
Don't look for images of Zevran unless you are prepared to see things you can't unsee.

Anyway, wasn't I supposed to be talking about an epiphany? Yes. I was. So one of the instructors there, a gentleman whose persona name is Duncan, was attempting to explain to me the difference between fighting range and reach and how the fight's in your head. So I understood the words he was saying, and the initial concept - yes, fighting with your hands is different than fighting with sword-type stick. Or a stick-type sword. I understood that. But later, while I was driving home from work the next day actually, it came to me sort outta the blue. While I was thinking how much goddamn fun I'd had and how I wanted to this forever. 

I have to stop thinking with my hands. Because that's not where the action is.

Hm. I'm not explaining it right. You move the sword with your arm and hand and body, but the impact is way out there, near the end. I'm used to knowing how to land the blow from my hand and it's a good deal different when the end of the sword is where you end the blow. 

Still not right.

It was not quite this extreme.
Okay, STILL not explaining it right. You'll just have to take my word for it. I had an epiphany and totally understood something that I didn't before. So there. Now. Implementing this new understanding is still going to require quite a bit of work.