Philosophy by JRR Tolkien

I think I have talked before about our house fire several years ago and the outpouring of support by good friends we had and good friends we didn’t know we had yet.  It was literally a transformative experience for me.  Recently, a good friend related some experiences they had at Pennsic and of course there are other crazy experiences in the world.  What once seemed like a world getting safer has become a world that seems to be getting more dangerous.

Aside:  I read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings every summer for probably close to 11 years.  It is surprising what phrases of hope can be found in these books.  Recall, the world is one on the brink.  A great evil that was thought gone has resurfaced.  Also recall, JRR Tolkien had recently (when he started writing the LotR at least) come from WWI where some of the worst atrocities man has done to man had occurred.

I find some interesting insights in these books. In particular, these two quotes stick with me.

“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. ” Gandalf to Galadriel.

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” Gandalf to Bilbo.

Aside:  Outside of the craziness of Pennsic and the SCA, another good friend who recently had a heart attack just told us that she will be fighting breast cancer now.

So what are we do with this world?  One where hate is not afraid to show its face?  One where friends thinking they are safe become another crime statistic?  One where the vagueries of fate and genetics can strike good people?

Again Tolkien gives us an example.  Frodo and Sam are at one of their lowest points.  They must get to the heart of evil to do their quest. They must get into Mordor but the way is barred.  They produce a vial of water that has captured the image of starlight.  Special water and special starlight to be sure but at its real essence just water and light.  It is their faith that this is enough.  That is, if they can believe it is enough then it is enough.

The other main example is Frodo and Sam themselves.  They are hobbits.  They are not particularly strong.  They are not particularly wise or skilled.  To some extent, they are not particularly brave.  Gandalf tells them as much.  I can’t find the exact quote but it was to the effect, “if you knew what you were getting into, you wouldn’t volunteer.” Yet they volunteer anyway and it is Sam’s devotion in pure friendship that ultimately saves the day.

We are small.  We might be afraid.  We might lack wealth or power.  But we can have faith.  We can have friendship.  We can give each other those small acts of kindness and love.  Be the light you wish to see in other.


Home is where the flatland is

I was going to title this “Home is at 37 ft above sea level” but then I learned that home is on average 764 ft above sea level and that doesn’t convey what I want to talk about.

This weekend I went to visit my oldest son in Roanoke VA.  It was good to be on the road which is something I miss.  It was good to travel with my wife which is something I love.  It was good to see my son and his fiancee.

The trip however, oy vey.

Going to Roanoke, we went through Dayton and down through southwest Ohio through West Virginia.  It was an okay drive.  I can’t say that the landscape of southwest Ohio was inspiring.  It was along a US highway instead of the interstate.  But West Virginia terrified me.

The road twists and turns.  How people take though turns at 70+ mph is beyond me.  At home, if went off the road, the worst that would happen is plowing into some guys corn field.  Here?  It is 100’s of feet or more down a cliff.  Not only does it twist and turn, it goes up and down to dizzying heights.  Going through Charleston WV, there are houses and apartments on higher mountains yet.  Are these people part goat?  I am sure the view is good but how do you not fall off?  As we remarked, the sky was too small and the land was too big.  There was a neat little artisan/craftsperson’s shop along the interstate though.

I did spend some time growing up in Virginia but it is a different place than Roanoke.  On the whole, I wasn’t impressed.  Supposedly, the area is about the same population as home. Geography makes it hard to go places.  I felt like we had to go around and around to get anywhere.  Services were smaller too.  For instance, their farmer’s market felt way smaller than ours.  The restaurants were similar.  I also felt that the people were not as friendly.  Maybe it is a midwest thing.  We went to Star City Games, the biggest Magic the Gathering store in North America.  I was not sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t what I was expecting.

We stayed one night and then left for home.  We decided to go home through Kentucky this time.  Again the terrifying mountains but they quickly leveled somewhat into rolling hills. Then for some pure beauty.  Jaime and Eleanor, and the rest of the Flame, you guys have a really pretty barony.  There was still some up and down but the roads were mostly straight.  That bluegrass is very pretty to look at.  And the people were friendlier.  We stopped for the night in Louisville.  Unknown to us, there was a classic car show so we were lucky to find a hotel room but we did.  People were lined up on the streets to see the cars.  A truck was urged to revv and spin out.   I doubt the crowd wanted to see my mini van do the same 🙂  On the advice of friends we went to Ramsi’s Cafe on the World.  Parking was difficult but on the residential street behind it, there was some good spots and very pretty old brick houses.  We should have been warned that there was a bookstore next to it 🙂  It was there that we found the Midwesterner we know and love.  We chatted with the clerk at the bookstore.  He dated someone from Champaign and loved the area.  We asked about breakfast.  Several people in the store insisted that the only answer is Con Huevos.  They were right.  The food was good at Cafe and Con Huevos.  Definitely going back to Louisville again some time.

All of this is to say that after spending the first 20 some years of my life moving every four years then spending the next 20 some years of my life in one spot, I am definitely a flatlander Midwesterner now.

SCA Life, tablet weaving

My love-hate relationship with tablet weaving

Before we got into the SCA, my wife and I went to Ren Faires more and we (mostly she) made our own clothes.  To help with that process, I decided to learn tablet weaving.   I figured, people have been doing this for 10,000 years, surely I can figure it out.

Needing help with those clothes is what brought us to the SCA.

I don’t mind weaving but there are certain things I don’t like.  I don’t like warping my looms.  That takes a lot of time and I often do it wrong.  Even for patterns I have done before!  Simple patterns are good for me.  I can get lost in the 4F/4B and etc.  But patterns which require turning certain cards and not others quickly frustrate me.  And of course, those are the interesting patterns!

I have finished my last round of glass and I said I would work on my garb.  I need to make new garb and accessories and those things need trim.

I am trying to decide what trim to make and trying to find patterns that I like and actually like doing.  My universe is small.  I have even considered buying some trim from others who (hopefully) enjoy doing the more complex patterns.  But the other part of me wants to do it myself.  So simple patterns here we come!

Wish me luck!

Here are some of the trim I have made in the past.


Overthinking glass bowls

Sometimes, when you make stuff, you overthink it.  When you find the real solution, you kick yourself because it is so easy and so simple, how did you not see it before?

Case in point, fused Roman bowls.  Fused Roman Mosaic bowl

I made one such bowl as part of a pentathlon.  I tried to approximate making “millifore” to make a small bowl.  It was a giant pain.  When Lucretia was elevated to the Laurel, I made this for her.

I used a different method to make this bowl.  Lucretia’s Fused Roman Mosaic bowl   I cut strips of glass from a square sheet.  Follow the link for the process.  This again was a bit of pain.

I then wanted to try for a more “roman” type shape, a high sided bowl.  My local glass shop couldn’t slump it properly over the model.  There was a lot of glass folding in on itself.  So I tried to make bowls like Lucretia’s again.  I don’t have photos of the process.

But as I was driving to the glass shop, I figured out the problem and why this way is a pain.  I was overthinking the problem.

Let me lay it out for you.   To make the flat plate in the “old” way, I had to cut strips of various sizes to fit a 9″ circle.  I had to nip the ends to make it fit.  Pieces were irregular in width.  I had to spend several hours across different days to make all the pieces fit.  I thought, there has to be an easier way to get pieces into a circle.  The answer is obvious; start with a circle.

So last night, I cut the pieces for two new bowls in about an hour.

First to choose the glass.  I choose these from my stash.

Then cut them into 9″ circles with my strip cutter.

There is a nice trick to break out almost perfect circles.  Once cut, you flip it over on a soft surface, like a towel, and use your hands to gently (or sometimes not so gently) propagate the crack.

And you get this



I also need a substrate between the two sides so a thin layer of clear glass serves for that.

  I tried to show the score line in the glass.  I am not sure you can see it.

Then you take the strip cutter and cut the circles into strips, ~ 0.5″ wide.


Then chose the parts from each to make the flat that will be fused.


There will be one on each side.  Turn the one set upside down and stack.



These are now ready for the kiln to be fused into flats then slumped over the bowl mold.  Viola!  Fused bowls that in the Roman style.


SCA Life

It is the simple things

This weekend was Simple Day.  It was a very enjoyable weekend.  And I re-learned, it is the simple things that matter.

  • The joy and ease of setting up camp with additional hands.  Quickest ever.
  • The joy of seeing a local group doing local things – begging a macaroon, giving out a baronial award, enjoying each other’s company.  That kind of thing.
  • The joy of good doughnuts.
  • The joy of watching parents and children enjoy the day together (mostly looking at you Adam).
  • The joy of a new(ish) person to the SCA meeting and geeking out with so many people.
  • The joy of managing to perfectly peel one egg.
  • The joy of walking into a room like you are Norm on Cheers!
  • The joy of hugs from close friends.  Especially Llew.  He gives good hugs
  • The sad joy of hugging friends who are hurting and hoping that it helped.
  • The joy of the blessings of the weather gods
  • The joy of chatting with friends about just whatever.
  • The joy of unexpected gifts from one’s SO.
  • The shame-faced abashed joy of forgetting that one has not ever introduced one’s SO to their Majesties and subsequent ribbing that resulted.
  • The joy of people using the photos you took at profile pics.
  • The joy of teaching eager students
  • The joy of learning that one’s efforts are worthwhile (apparently my vinegar makes good cheese)
  • The joy of good food, good friends, and good song.
  • The joy of meeting new people and remembering their names!
  • The joy of going home again after a good weekend.

Simple Day is probably not all that simple to run but it is the simple things that matter.


Froderick goes to Simple Day and then runs away

SCA Life

What the Filk!

So refer back to “the (bardic) circle is unbroken”

The (bardic) circle is unbroken

if you need to.

I have dabbled in a few things.  Andreas offered to proof some poems I wrote.  Still waiting Andreas.  So much for Norman efficiency (I jest).

I have two very tentative starts on two filks.  I can normally make a line or two fit but my humor is a brief thing.  After attending the Martial RUM in June 2018, I had dinner with Dai and Lindan (Bill and Brenda Sutton).  Part of the conversation was on writing filks and Brenda offered to give me a hand.

The first filk is based on the Grand Pubs of Yorkshire.  I was sad to learn that it is not a period or even close to period song.  I might sing the original some time.  It is a nice piece about beer and home.  I can relate to that.  The filk will be the Grand Pubs of the Known World and I started doing some research.  Of course, Verena and the Drunken Duck will appear in it.  I understand that there is the Broken Harp in Calontir, The Cock and Bull Tavern in the West (I know that song too), The Green Dragon at Gulf Wars, and the One Paw Tiger.  I may not be able to get everything in but I think it will be pretty good if I can.

The second filk is based on Gaelic Storm’s Girls Night in Galway.  I did the original scan on that shortly after it came out.  Girls’ Night in Pennsic.  I had to ask around about what that entails.  The only time I heard about Girls’ Night at Pennsic was the first time I went to Pennsic.  I believe Katerina and Roana went out and invited Gertie.  Not sure what trouble they got into so I asked Roana about it.  A lot of this filk will be similar to the original but hopefully fun.



Froderick goes to Martial Rum June 2018

Froderick helps work Gate with Dai and Magrat. Don’t fill up on donuts buddy, we are on a diet 🙂

Froderick helps work Gate with Dai and Magrat. Don’t fill up on donuts buddy, we are on a diet 🙂


  Froderick looks really happy to help with teacher sign in with Eleanor and Audette.


    Froderick help Emer with the teacher goodie bags.


   Froderick is like, “Hey Oswyn has some amber just like that! Did he steal it from you?” Saldis gives him the sideeye.


  Una and Rose with Froderick. Equestrian Champion and KMoAS? Some high rollers that Froderick knows.

   After taking Seto’s Leadership class, Froderick is ready to be General of the Midrealm Army.

  And when he does become General, Froderick wants some armor like Honor’s new kit. Honor before Victory indeed!

  Getting measurement taken just in case.


  Seto stressed that both rapier and heavy were important. Froderick tries some 2 v 2 with Adam, Cecily, and Alexander. At least, Adam’s feet are safe.

             After explaining the lilypad ceiling with respect to the Middle Kingdom’s Army, Froderick decides that Thrown Weapons might be more his speed. Mary tells him he did a good job.