It’s not seen as much in modern day: the medieval concept of community and trade. I’ve been thinking about this a lot in the past week or so, especially since my husband’s big reveal of his anniversary conspiracy.

In the SCA especially, this community spirit is alive and well, and trading goods and services works just as well as cash or PayPal. My husband has been trading trim and belts that he weaves for different goods and services for months, but it wasn’t until recently that I saw the enormity of what can be accomplished with fair trade.

For my anniversary gifts, some of them were obtained through volunteers to make the things, but some were obtained through trade. Chris, bless his heart, made a TON of belts and trim, both for my garments and for others to make things to go with the garments. It wasn’t just the traded goods that spurred others to make stuff; these people care. In the SCA, it’s a family.

I’ve heard the phrase “chosen family” in reference to the SCA dozens of times throughout the year I’ve been playing, but it’s only now truly hitting home how much of a family it is. There are people I barely know who stood up and said “Sure” when my husband asked for dresses (made by Lady Mariette of the Barony March of Mons Tonitrus–apron dress pending hand embroidery by Lady Illaria), or a Viking naalbinded hat (made by Willa McCafferty of the Barony of Tyr Ysgthir), or custom Viking brooches (made by Eric the Bald)…I could go on, but basically, these people were willing, some for a near stranger, to take time out of their busy lives to make something for a nice gift. It’s pretty cool. Here are just a few of the things that have been made/are being made for li’l ol’ me:

Since I’ve started the embroidery, I’ve started contributing here and there to the community aspect as well. I’ve done tiny coats-of-arms to finish the ends of belts that my husband made for gifting or largesse. I’ve done a commission piece for a kindhearted person who deserved something nice. I’m doing embroidery right now for a trade for temple rings to match the brooches shown above. Here’s a sneak peek I “stole” off of Facebook (temple rings also by Eric the Bald of the Kingdom of Atenveldt):

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How cool is that? And all I have to do is make an embroidered bag and sew some trim on it, something I’m more than willing to do for such a giving individual. It fills my heart to overflowing to see this type of community in the SCA that has, for me at least, been absent in mundane life. Even outside of SCA-related activities, our chosen family has been there for us. Recently we had nearly half a dozen SCA friends over at the new house, all sacrificing part of their Saturday to help finish some wiring on the house. They didn’t need to. They could have said “no”…instead, they came on over, some bringing their own tools and supplies, to help, for nothing more than some pizza and sodas/bottled water.

I am taking this time to extend my eternal thanks and gratitude to this chosen family, to tell them that they matter, that they’re appreciated (even if I don’t always know how to show it), that their efforts have touched me.

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Split decision

Posted: April 14, 2018 in #design, Art, Crafting, embroidery, SCA, Sewing

Well, I’ve gone and done it again; I’ve given myself a task that is going to end up being harder than it really has to be.

The thing is, I got involved in a new embroidery project that, while not too complex, is turning out to be more involved than maybe it should have been. It’s partly my fault; I was given “creative license” on the commission (those words are dangerous for an artist lol), so I thought “hmm, how can I give this image more pizzazz?”

Eric the Bald 2

It’s a pretty cool device but….Yeah, I wanted to kick it up a notch. So, being me, I googled “knotwork bear claw” to see what I could find that might be prettier. This is what I finally decided on:

bear claw 2

It’s freakin’ cool, right? Except I chose to make it six inches wide, and I have to fill in all those lovely lines somehow. Chain stitch would probably be the quickest, most efficient stitch of the ones I currently know. Probably.

But split stitch is so much neater and prettier.

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Yeah, I’m filling in all those lines with teeny little split stitches, because I tend to make small stitches in general. So far the outcome is nice….but it’s slow going. The end product will be amazing, but I’ve given myself a handful as far as work comes. Still, I am trading this project for a pair of Viking temple rings worth $80, so I guess I should do $80 worth of work myself, right? Fair is fair.

This is gonna be so cool, though. 🙂

I admit it. I’m a wuss. A coward, even.

Well, maybe not a coward. It’s not that I’m “afraid” to go back to exercising with my friends…or am I?

One thing’s for sure: I’m definitely discouraged. Between the month or so we all took off to prepare for Estrella war and my work schedule, I was off the wagon for too long, causing me to regain almost all of the weight I had worked so hard to lose. Couple that with the new exercises that we’re doing that require more coordination (which I highly lack) and you have a recipe for relapse. I just can’t make myself go anymore. I think about it. I try to psych myself up for it. But in the end, most days I end up staying home and wallowing in self pity.

Am I doomed to be obese forever? I used to be skinny; as early as ten years ago I was skinny. Then the move to Arizona happened, and the stress of not knowing if I’d have a job and having to make new friends got to me, and I stress-ate like a madwoman. I moved into an extended living facility (basically a hotel that has a pseudo-studio apartment for a room) and it was a lot of frozen dinners for me. That didn’t help. Then I met my husband who feeds me quite well, and I just ballooned. It’s been an up-and-down battle for years, one that I feel like I’m losing.

The most recent weight gain is the most depressing yet. I had worked so hard to lose that 10+ pounds only to have almost all of it back within a couple of months. I almost feel like “What’s the point? I’ll just gain it back in weeks the second I stop this” and I’ll end up quitting. I guess I kind of almost have quit already. I have no more motivation, no drive. I’d rather sit at home and wallow in self pity than get out there and exercise with friends.

I guess I’d better sign off for now. The cats keep walking across the keyboard in an attempt to get their morning wet food early, and I’m tired of deleting the jibberish they type.

When it comes to anniversaries, my husband doesn’t fool around. Yesterday (two days before our five year anniversary) he surprised me with a commissioned Viking underdress, overdress, and apron dress. He also told me that there is a naalbinded hat waiting for me (it’s a type of Viking “crochet”), a veil coming, and a Viking coat in the works, all from different SCA craftspeople. The underdress and overdress need some alterations (I need to stop eating so much fast food lol), but I was able to get a picture.

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The dresses are made from real linen and silk, the trim is silk (handwoven by my husband), and there will be a hand embroidered sword that will be placed between the two swans.

I kind of suspected something like this was coming when he asked where I kept my copy of my measurements a few months ago. Nothing suspicious at all there 😉 I had pretty much forgotten about it though, until he took me to our friend’s house last night, showed me the dresses on the hanger, and said “Happy anniversary!” Gotta admit, I was a bit slow on the uptake and thought he was telling our friend happy anniversary until he pointed out the swans on the dress.

Since not all the pieces of the puzzle are finished, it will be another month before I can probably wear it. The friend who made the dresses needs to add some width to them and she’s having foot surgery today, so that will have to wait until she’s recovered enough to work on them again, and the coat is still in progress (because the friend who’s making that is quite busy, but heck, it’s almost summer in Arizona so there’s plenty of time).

I think this is the most elaborate anniversary plan he’s come up with yet–and we’re only five years in! I had better step up my gifting game if I’m going to compete. 😉

There are also Viking brooches with swans on them that have been made for me (to pin on my treasure beads and pin the straps of the apron dress), and to trade for some Viking temple rings with swans I’m going to collaborate with my husband to make an over-the-shoulder bag for another SCAdian who does the metalworking. I’m going to embroider and make the bag, my husband is going to weave trim for it that I will then sew on before delivering it.

Once this is all done, I’ll be all Viking’d out! Lol

Gutless

Posted: April 4, 2018 in Thoughts

I had the perfect opportunity last night–a couple of times, actually. I could have told my seneschal that I didn’t want to do social media for the barony any more. I could have told my baroness. But did I? Nope. I chickened out every time an opening presented itself.

Why can’t I just admit to them that I don’t want to do the job any more? I guess it’s that I don’t want to let anyone down. I also don’t want to leave my barony in the lurch. Clearly no one else wants the position, because I’ve asked for someone to step up as a deputy an no one’s biting. Am I doomed to just stay stuck in this “dead-end” job indefinitely?

Oh, I enjoyed it at first. I felt so important, being an officer for the barony and being in charge of making sure things got posted to Facebook and (when I remembered that I created the account) Twitter, but now I’m filled with anxiety and dread any time I see a notification from a baronial account on my phone. It shouldn’t be like that. Sadly, though, it is, and aside from stepping down I don’t know what to do to relieve that anxiety and dread.

I’ve asked the kingdom social media officer if I can talk to her about it, but she wanted to talk face-to-face at the next event–which is this weekend. So I should’ve told my seneschal and baroness what was up. Especially considering my seneschal is also my good friend and rapier teacher. I should be able to talk to her about anything, but that guilt of leaving the barony in the lurch is eating at me almost as much as the anxiety.

The kingdom officer has assured me that the previous social media officer for the barony (my husband’s harasser) won’t ever get the position back, but I still worry. I can’t picture anyone else wanting the job, so basically I’m sitting in limbo “job-blocking” her from coming back to it. It’s not the best way to be.

All in the family

Posted: March 26, 2018 in family, Home, Stress

Family drama: part two.

Well, my husband had a talk with my mom today about my sister, and apparently whatever got up her butt just happened to explode last week, because the stuff she’s been complaining about has been going on for five years. Yeah, pretty much since I started having to do laundry at Mom and Dad’s to save money over the apartment laundromat, I’ve been disturbing her life and turning things upside down.

The new story isn’t about how I’m treating Mom but how my visits make my sister feel. She feels uncomfortable in her own home (Mom and Dad’s home, but she lives there). She doesn’t like us coming over to do laundry whenever we please (never mind that I always ask Mom if it’s okay before I come over), I don’t hang out with my sister like I used to (except I try to ask her if she wants to do stuff and she never joins in), and I “don’t seem like I care” about her (despite the fact that she hides in her room the entire time we’re over there and I make an effort to go to her room and ask how things are going).

Keep in mind that these things have been the same for five years. Since my husband and I moved out of our friend’s house and entered apartment life. The timing is freakin’ weird though. I mean, we are roughly a month away from moving into our own home where we will have our own washer and dryer and no need to mooch off Mom and Dad (if that is indeed what she thinks is going on). A month. And she chooses now of all times to start bitching? This is going to be a nonissue soon. We’ll be able to visit without our motives being called into question. Or will we?

I’m so mentally exhausted over this. I can’t win. Just because things are going right for me for once I’m suddenly this evil bitch.

Now that I now the “real” cause of my sister’s disdain, I was hoping I’d gain some insight as to how to smooth things over. No such luck. I am still as clueless as ever. Do I even bother? Will this blow over once I’m not invading her space anymore? Should I try to go over there sometime and talk to her? For some reason I don’t think that’s too bright of an idea. She has her viewpoint on things, and skewed though it may seem to me she’s set in her mentality. This has been stewing for so long that she has warped reality to fit with this viewpoint. Five. Years.

Why didn’t she speak up sooner? Why let something like this fester, and why bring it to the surface when the offending behavior is about to subside?

This house can’t be finished soon enough. Now I have to find someplace else to do my laundry for the next month. Don’t want to make my sister feel uncomfortable in her own home. Or something.

So done.

Well that was unexpected.

There I was, filling out a form at the rheumatologist’s office, when all of a sudden it hit me: I’ve been mild to moderately depressed for a good two or three weeks and I didn’t even notice.

I should have noticed, but I guess I’ve been so busy it just snuck up on me. I haven’t been super interested in the usual stuff, and that should have been a big sign. Combine that with the fact that I ran out of my meds, and it’s hard to believe I didn’t put two and two together. (Not to worry; all the meds are in the process of being refilled.) It just wasn’t until I checked the box stating that I have been experiencing depression that I even gave it a thought.

I guess that’s kind of a good thing, if you look at it a certain way. I was doing well enough for long enough that I almost–almost–forgot I am bipolar. Almost. So much else was going on that “bipolar” and “depression” kind of simmered on the back burner while I dealt with the now.

(Hubby just asked me what I’m writing about. I told him, and he has properly scolded me for not taking my meds.)

To prevent further issues, I have had the pharmacy put my meds on auto fill. Clearly I can’t trust myself to keep track of that kind of thing right now.

One thing that hasn’t surprised me is the increase in arthritis pain and stiffness lately. I’ve gotten out of the habit of exercising a couple of times a week and it’s taking a toll. Work schedules don’t allow for much exercise though, at least with my friends’ current regimen. Their best days and times happen to occur on the longest work days of the week for me, so I don’t get the opportunity to join them often. When the opportunity does arise, I’m usually so exhausted–both physically and mentally–that I just don’t have the drive to go. My joints have noticed the lack of exercise. Oh, how they have noticed. I can’t sit in one position too long or my knees get really stiff and uncooperative. Just this afternoon, on the way to the doctor, I got out of the car at a gas station and almost couldn’t walk inside. My left knee was so stiff and painful that I had to limp most of the way into the store and a little bit inside before I regained adequate range of motion. Not quite to “handicap parking”-level loss of mobility, but definitely not my norm.

I think I have a psychiatrist appointment next week. Better brace myself for the inevitable lecture on keeping up with my drug regimen. At least I am aware of the problem before I go in. I can try to remember not to automatically tell the doctor that everything is “fine.”

You’d be surprised how easy it is to slip into that automatic response no matter how bad things actually are. It’s become customary to say that you’re “fine” when someone inquires how you are doing. We don’t want to burden friends and family with our problems, we don’t want to sound like we’re whining, or whatever the reason happens to be. I have to get over that enough to let my doctor know what he needs to know. He can’t help if I don’t let him know there’s something going on, after all.