Short Update

Blog’s been quiet. Mostly because I’ve been doing more with my mundane life than with anything SCA related. So here is just a brief list of what I’ve been up to:

Spinning. I teach spinning with a local fiber shop and had a student there. I’m also spinning in order to naalbind Scarp a hat. More on that when the yarn is finished. There will be a tutorial.

Accessibility/disability stuff. I’m working as accessibility porter for a major local event and that required some research before I went to see the site on Sunday. I still need to do a proper write up for the website. I just haven’t yet.

Maldon and I aren’t on speaking terms at the moment. We may be friends again shortly. But right now I can’t even look at it without wanting to light the world on fire.

Becoming a Dependent Or Not

Becoming a dependent or taking one is a big decision and not one that should be entered into lightly.

That being said let’s get this disclaimer out of the way now. This is another one of those “Aethelflied is a poor example of being smart, do this better than she did.” I lucked out with my Laurel. I picked him because I was new, I knew I wanted to be a bard, and he was the first bardic laurel I met. First laurel I met actually I think. I just kind of turned up and started poking him about being his apprentice before I really knew what that meant. Luckily it turned out to be a good fit. My Bossman is my Bossman and I wouldn’t trade him for the world. But this could have gone very, very, differently.

So, what do I mean by being a dependent? I view being a dependent as having a mentor, whether that mentor is a peer or not doesn’t really matter for the purposes of this post. There are four official classes of dependents – apprentice, protege, squire, and provost. Those are for when your mentor is already a peer (apprentice/laurel, protege/pelican, squire/knight, provost/master of defense). If your mentor isn’t already a peer what you call yourself is kind of decided on by mutual agreement (student, yoeman, man at arms, caddy, minion, ect) but for the rest of this post? You’re a student.

There are several questions we’re going to address, namely: What are the pros and cons of becoming a dependent? Why is this a big decision? Do I have to? What should I look for in a mentor? Should I take a dependent? What am I getting into here?

What are the pros and cons of becoming a dependent?

Lets start with the pros since I’m a good news first kinda girl. Having a mentor gives you someone invested in your progress, someone who will help you achieve your goals in the SCA to the best of their ability, it gives you name recognition, it gives you a cheerleader, a personal teacher, and someone to advocate for you. Having a mentor also gives you a brake peddle and reality checker. Yes this is a pro, trust me.

Cons: you are tied to this person. Pick a mentor that’s a bad fit and life goes downhill quick. You have name recognition, which means if anyone has a problem with your mentor (for whatever reason) that is likely to rub off on you. Some people may also find working primarily with one person limiting, particularly if that person is not as active as they used to be.

Why is this a big decision?

You will be working closely with your mentor for (in all likelihood) several years. Yes this is our hobby, but this is the person who is going to see you at your worst and your best. They get your rough drafts, first attempts at whatever craft, get to explain the mechanics of why that shot you’re trying to throw isn’t working, ect. My laurel is blessed for his patience. I don’t think he’s ever actually seen me cry over a piece, but he has been subjected to some pretty awful poetry. I’ve heard picking a mentor likened to getting married or becoming a foster child. There will be fights, disagreements, ect. Make sure you approach someone you can handle getting criticism from, since it’s their job to give it to you.

Do I have to?

NO! If you’re on a peerage track you may hear things like “If you want to become x you really need a peer”. But no, you don’t need to enter this kind of relationship if you don’t want to or don’t feel comfortable. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you need to be in a peer/dependent mentor/student relationship or else you’re not doing this right. There is no right. This is a hobby with made up titles.

What should I look for in a mentor?

First and foremost: look for someone you respect. Both for their work and skill, and that you respect as a person. Otherwise you won’t be able to trust that they A. know what they’re talking about when they give you feedback or B. want to take their advice.

Find someone you’re comfortable working with. You’re going to be working closely with them. Make sure you want to work with Them not just their name.

Find someone who is comfortable helping and teaching you. There are some awesome people out there, who know what they’re talking about, are lovely people, but aren’t comfortable teaching. Don’t ask them to step into a role that they’re uncomfortable in.

Now the other side of the coin:

Should I take a dependent?

Firstly examine your reasons for wanting to. Do you think you can help someone excel in their chosen craft? Or do you want a dependent because that’s what people who reach your level do? Remember this person will be working closely with you for some years. If you aren’t positive you’re ready to be responsible for someone like that, I’d politely decline. You don’t have to have dependents to be a “real” whomever.

Secondly is this person a good fit for you and yours? Your dependent will more than likely become a member of your SCA household, they will become SCA family. Is this someone you want to welcome into your household and family?

Thirdly, are you willing and able to advocate for this person? Part of being a mentor means (to me) pushing your dependent’s work into places where it will be seen and recognized. It also means both advocating for you dependents on polling lists, AND advocating against them if they aren’t ready.

Fourthly, how active are you? If you’re not as active as you used to be you may want to reconsider. Make sure you have the time to devote to this.

What am I getting into?

You’re getting into a mutual partnership. Which, like any other partnership, has give and take. You’re pushing and being pushed, guiding and being guided. You’re getting to watch and help someone else discover things that make them light up. You’re getting someone else whose achievements you get to be proud of. You’re getting a privilege and a responsibility.

Also, if you’re like my Bossman, a lot of bad poetry and polite ways to say “maybe you should look at editing this”.

Coronation Post

Yesterday was East kingdom coronation. It was a day of All. The. Feels. For the last six months our kingdom has followed with love, been led with love, and had love as an example. Our outgoing king and queen devoted so much time, energy, and affection into this kingdom, that it was infectious. They were incredibly beloved as rulers and yes I cried. Watching them give each other their respective ciphers (a high honor given out at personal discretion of the king or queen in thanks of service to them or the kingdom) was incredibly moving.

And I had to follow that.

With a dead bunny.

Thanks shinyboss emeritus, love you too.

So let me back up with the dead bunny. Everyone remembers beastie right? My dead entrail reading rabbit?  Of course you do! Beastie is the thing that will get me wordfame because who even does that?! Me.

So Thursday morning I see a message from upcoming shinyboss. To be fair he’d sent it the night before but I was already asleep. The basic gist was “You can say no because it’s short notice, but wouldn’t it be cool if for B+C’s stepping down you could do some soothsaying?”

Yes, yes it would be cool. Yes, yes it is short notice. Yes, yes I am a crazy person. I wrote an 8 line poem in quick and dirty saxon verse (the metrics are wrong, a discussion of why will be another post):

“Peace was promised to – proud world King.

But I warn of war – worthy crown.

Soon comes clash of – crimson spears

Drums beat battle cries – blood to stir.

Peace was promised you – Pray, take it!

Power must pass – prince must take 

the eastern throne – through his might

your fair lands remain – fierce and strong.”

The intention was to stuff an index card in Beastie and just read it because writing and memorizing and having a poem performance ready in 48 hours is the sort of thing that paid professionals do when they have no other day job. I am not a paid professional. I am, however, a crazy person with an inadvisable amount of coffee. I’m also an improv bard that thrives on this sort of last minute ‘wouldn’t this be awesome’ type of thing.

There was an index card in Beastie, just in case. I didn’t read it. Guys? Do not look to me as an example. Value your stomach lining, drink less coffee, demand reasonable deadlines.

I did my bit, then outgoing shinyboss-in-law called for her own rabbit. I’d made her one and given it to her last week. Seeing her use it made me want to do a tiny little glee dance. But I was supposed to look terrified or something since she “hadn’t liked” my prophesy.

“This means we shall have dinner! And this…! Oh. Um… well. This is awkward.” Best. Line. Ever.

They finished up their final court, released their retainers, their guards, and their champions. They called for Kenric.

Time for performance number two. Kenric (new shinyboss) had requested something Saxon for his processional from my laurel and bardic Aunt a few months ago. Said laurel wrote a poem of how Kenric won crown tourney in the style of Battle of Maldon. I’m  not posting the words, since they aren’t mine and I haven’t asked permission to. But when Grim posts them somewhere I’ll include a link. We performed the poem in alternating verses, Grim started, I joined him ect. Auntie Aife played harp for us. It worked beautifully if I do say so myself. I’m proud of us.

Kenric and Avelina were crowned and suspended court in order to sit in state to accept oaths.

Performance number three. Last Sunday I had the brilliant idea to recite my oath of fealty in Old English, because, again, I’m an over caffeinated crazy person. I decided not to memorize it because finding, translating, and memorizing, a one minute piece in a foreign language that I’m still not comfortable with was beyond the abilities of even my coffee pot. Auntie Aife lent me a wax tablet that I could press a copy of my oath into.

Fealty oath (edited by Wendy Hennequin with really helpful pronunciation guide and recording provided to me by  Molly Eskridge. Thank you ladies, I owe you one.)

Be Beag-gifa Drihten þe þeos meaht-healle halig healdeþ, ic Kenrice ond Aveline

wylle beon rihtu ond treowe, ond ealle þe lufien wylle lufian ond ealle

þe forescynien wylle forescynian, be æ Eallwealdendes ond diht worulde. Ne nylle ic

mið worde or dæde, don þe mislicien, swa swa mec wurþien swa ic earne ond þas

annese wurþien à uncer forewearde þa ic hiera gewille gecierrede ond swa sægd in



By the Ring-Giver Lord whom this might-hall holds holy, I will be to Kenric and

Avelina right and faithful, and love all they love and shun all they shun, by laws of the

All-Wielder, and the order of the world. Nor will I with will or deed, do that which

displeases them, so as they will honor me as I earn, and they honor this agreement,

when I to their will submitted and said so in court.

I read it, I am proud I got through it, I think they liked it. I think they may like it more after they get a look at the translation rather than just getting the Old English version. But I forgot to include the modern english version in the wax tablet yesterday and didn’t have it memorized.

After doing that I finally got to go get water and eat something. Dayboard was AMAZING. Everything I tried was really really tasty and I want recipes.

To open the second half of Kenric and Avelina’s first court the Queen’s bard and I read the roll of kings (as is traditional). I am thankful and blessed that my counterpart is a herald and so had a copy of the phonetic roll of kings. Even with this beautifully prepared guide I still bobbled a couple names. Trying not to feel bad about that. I’ll get them right in 6 months when I have to do this again.

The rest of the afternoon is a bit of a blur. I ran out of ability to deal with people about halfway through their majesties sitting in state and spent the rest of the day in low grade panic and hyper-vigilance because, well, PTSD and anxiety, and 600 other people around me. I don’t think it was obvious but then again I wouldn’t know what I looked like from the outside.

Random Highlights:

  • I was given an award of appreciation for my help with weaving trim for cloaks for their outgoing majesties. I now have a lovely pendant that gets to live with the rest of Aethelflied’s bling and will be worn with pride. This was utterly unexpected and the effort to not cry was herculean.
  • I am now the proud owner of a large cardboard box of fiber toys. I haven’t had a chance to fully go through these new treasures yet as I had to send them home with a friend due to car packing tetris.  But I’ve got a box loom now, and books, and STUFF!
  • I also now have a large bag of weaving yarn. I’ve got gods only know how many yards of dyable weaving wool and some cones and some skeins of linen. I haven’t gone through it all yet since it went home with my laurel for a precautionary freezing. Because wool moths suck and you only need to get them once to be over cautious with every other new wool you get.
  • New shinyboss announced his intent to bling me out. Because I am a saxon woman. And he has bling he wants to make but can not wear because he is not a woman. I am 100% ok with being a saxon doll and pointing out to anyone who stands still long enough that my king made me a thing.

Here’s to six months of Saxon Shenanigans.

Something completely different!

As it says on the tin this has nothing to do with sewing, or bardic, or really anything SCA appropriate. Other than scadians live on coffee and chocolate and baked goods are awesome. To that end I give you:

Death by Coffee Cookies. 

You read that right. Now. Let’s get to it. You will need:

1 cup (2 sticks) of butter

4 Eggs

3 cups of plain white sugar

16 tablespoons of coffee (I make mine with Deathwish, because Reasons)

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

5 cups AP flour

1 1/3 cup cocoa powder (I use dark chocolate, because again, Reasons)

1/2 table spoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon Auntie Arwen’s Turkish Coffee Spice (technically optional, so if you don’t have it don’t worry.)


To make:

Cream together butter, sugar, eggs, coffee, and vanilla. In a separate  bowl mix together everything else. Slowly add your dry goods to your wet goods. Beat on low until everything is well combined and it looks like thick cake batter. Chill for half an hour.

Preheat your oven to 400. Drop tablespoon-ish sized globs of chilled batter on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool 5-ish minutes on the pan so they can set before moving to a wire rack.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Aethelflied’s Oath of Fealty

Next weekend in coronation. Oaths of fealty are a thing, therefore I’m writing one. Here is the source speech I’m working with (edited to add Kenric and Avelina’s names and replace ‘he/him’ with ‘they/them’):

By the Lord before whom this sanctuary is holy, I will to Kenric and Avelina. be true and faithful, and love all which they love and shun all which they shun, according to the laws of God and the order of the world. Nor will I ever with will or action, through word or deed, do anything which is unpleasing to them, on condition that they will hold to me as I shall deserve it, and that they will perform everything as it was in our agreement when I submitted myself to them and chose their will.

The above is from from Liberman: Gesetze der Angelsachsen, p. 404. I have only found the citation, not the actual source. However I only have a week to do this, memorize it, and have it ready to say before the thrones. Now, I could just memorize that. But this is me we’re talking about. Nope, I’ve translated it into this (because I can’t find the above in the original language, only the modern translation):

Be segncyning æt hwa Þes heall gesegene sy, ic æt Kenric ond Avelina béo riht und trewrædenn, ond bróðorlufe à hie bróðorlufe ond forescyne à hie forescynaþ be æbebodu Eallwealdend ond diht eorðe. Nà æt ic mið gewill or dæde, geond ciwde or dæde, ácumendlicnes se hie geunblissaþ ágitaþ gelác, on árædnesse æt hie se eaht mec swà ic earne, ond æt hie se ábygest à uncer forewearde Þa ic hie gewill ábýge ond gecenne.

Literal translation of the above:

By ring-giving generous lord that to this mighty-hall holds holy, I will Kenric and Avelina be right and faithful, and love all they love and shun all they shun, by laws of all-knowning all-mighty God, and order earth. No will I with will or deed, spoken word or deed, anything that they unhappy find will-do, on agreement that they will honor me in how I earn, and that they will all our agreement/understanding honor, when I their will submitted and chose/declared in court.

This is the goal anyway. I still have to send this to someone who actually knows what they’re doing with Old English (I do not, yet). I am probably butchering it. But I’ll take a butchered attempt over having no plan at all. We’ll see if I memorize it or if I’m up there reading off a card.

Court as Performance Art

Yesterday (Mudthaw) was the first event that I spent the whole day as King’s Bard. I started the day out tired, cranky, out of the ability to people, and feeling like I didn’t know anyone. I did know people, don’t get me wrong, but this wasn’t an event I’d ever been to before, I had nothing assigned other than standing in court at the end of the day, and this was the first time that I wasn’t able to just tag along behind either Grim, Aife, or Toki. Nope. When people were stopping me to talk, they were stopping me. Which is a whole other kind of surreal. But not what I’m here to write about today.

No, I here to talk about my elementary school music teacher, Mr. Bordinaro. Trust me I’m going somewhere with this. Mr. Bordinaro introduced me to the idea of performance; though I didn’t realize it at the time. He spent a month, every year, teaching us Phantom of the Opera. Some of my fondest elementary school memories are listening to this animated Italian man explaining what was happening during Point of No Return, or explaining the Phantom’s first appearance. I’ve forgotten what the question was that led him to make a specific comment, but the comment itself stuck with me:

“It doesn’t matter if the Phantom’s exhausted, has done this 80 times already, or really doesn’t want to. The people in the audience aren’t, and haven’t. So he goes out and flips his cape just as dramatically as if it were his first time doing it. The audience deserves no less.”

Welcome to Aethelflied’s philosophy on standing in court.

Yesterday I was tired, cranky, anti-social, and having a mid to bad pain day with my back. I had my cane. All I wanted was to find a corner and  hide in it or go back to bed. Court rolled around and I really really didn’t want to.

But I’m not standing up there for me. I’m not standing behind the thrones just to look pretty and make sure everyone sees and knows my face. I’m up there for the effect having people behind the thrones gives the populous. Yes I could complain about it, skip it, glare daggers about having to go, ect. But those people who come to court? Don’t deserve that. They didn’t wake me up at 2am or take a bat to my spine. The people who get called up to get well deserved awards don’t deserve to have their moment with someone sighing and checking their watch.

For me court is a performance. My part is little, I’m not overly fond of it (standing for more than 10 minutes at a time without moving hurts, and I’m an introvert that doesn’t like being started at) but this is still the part I took and agreed to, which means I need to go out and do it and look like there’s no where else I’d rather be.

The audience deserves no less from me.