ThinkWell
Issue #3 early August 1991 (A.S. XXVI)

SOME LINKS HAVE NO DESTINATIONS
AT PRESENT; SORRY!



Index to Classic ThinkWell
and envelope art




Other Issues:

#1 | #2 | #4 | #5
#6 | #7 | #8 | #9
#10 | #11 | #12
#13 | #14 | #15
#16 | #17 | #18
#19 | #20 | #21

Notes on this issue
coming soon


ThinkWell is a journal for the exchange of ideas among members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc. It is an independent, private publication, and not representative of any group or subgroup within the Society
COMMENTS ON THINKWELL

[from someone who receives very many other newsletters:] It's the only one (Kingdom newsletters, A&S newsletters, even TI. . .) I read cover to cover and think about afterward. [from someone who read Bright Ideas… and the first two ThinkWells all within one week:] Until recently I had been primarily (and, unilaterally) concerned with the care, feeding, transportation and building of ONE household. Beyond this I was complacent, letting others do the over-all work, simply reaping the benefits of their efforts. Now I shall, at least, TRY to do better and think well. Much motivation is provided me by your articles and information therein contained, all saying, "Well…THINK!" Thank you. Just received my second issue of ThinkWell and love it! Keep up the good work. I've just completed a rather rigorous ingestion of ThinkWell #2, and find it to be better than most Hollywood sequels of recent memory. (Which is to say, I think that the promise of Numero Uno is both realized and advanced in Round Two, which I guess bodes even better for the still-gestating Number Three). It looks like you've gotten together a pretty interesting assortment of people with a good diversity of interests. Well, it's not exactly the McLaughlin Group, but it'll do. Sending 2 copies is a great idea…[When ThinkWell #1 came the reader put it on the nightstand with catalogs to use for reading-to-sleep purposes:] Before I had finished ThinkWell, not only was I not sleepy but I was composing a list of friends who would greatly enjoy reading such a publication. Within the next 24 hours I had not only given away the one extra copy you sent but had shown it to four more.

I'm grateful that Justin du Coeur mentioned ThinkWell on the Rialto, a computer network for SCA discussions. The notice was interesting and I got two subscriptions the same week. Part of what he posted was "All in all, it looks like a project destined to work out—the second issue is busy and interesting. It's certainly not for everyone here, but I'd bet that most of the active posters would love it." Thank you! —AElflaed

HOW I MANAGED TO REIGN THREE TIMES AND STILL AVOIDED BECOMING A DUKE
(Sir William the Lucky)

To understand the situation, we need to start with a bit of history.
When I first joined the SCA, the Order of Precedence fit on a single sheet of paper. It included:

  1. The Crown
  2. Great Offices of State (all six of them)
  3. Dukes
  4. Knights, Masters of Arms, and Masters and Mistresses of the Laurel
  5. The Ladies of the Rose
  6. Grants of Arms
  7. Awards of Arms
The title of Count was used by a few (but certainly not by all) of those gentlemen who had been King once.

The Ladies of the Rose included all those who had been Queen. And, yes, they did rank after those with Patents of Arms. The title of Duchess was used both for those who had been Queen twice and for the current lady of a Duke; the title of Countess was essentially unused.

Now at one point in the early 1970's, Duke Siegfried and I were sitting around his living room discussing the state of the world. (He, at that point, was keeping the Order of Precedence.) And we got started on the unfortunate manner in which a couple of members of the Chivalry (to use the term for their rank, though not for their honor) were treating the Ladies of the Rose. (Like lowly scum, not to put too fine a face on it.) And we said to one another, let us put those ladies who have been Queen twice up with the Dukes, and also add a section for Counts and Countesses. From which you may deduce (correctly) that most of those who were behaving badly did not hold either rank. And so, unworried by our total lack of authority to make such changes, we did. (And that, boys and girls, is why there are Duchesses and Countesses in the SCA.)

Now we have (currently) three nominally equal orders of the peerage in the Society: Chivalry, Laurels, and Pelicans. (In many kingdoms one or another is the prestige order, and thus the hardest to achieve. Which one it is varies.) But. The path to greater precedence leads only through one of these orders. To get to the rank of a royal peer, someone had to fight good. This, it has long seemed to me, is obviously NOT RIGHT; what might be done about the situation is less obvious. Still, one does what one can, even if it is just to decline to be a participant in the problem. So, after my first reign as King I declined to become a Count. (I can already hear someone out there saying, "But last Issue he was listed as a Count!" Just be patient.) Still the problem remained.

Now the West was in the habit of holding an annual Arts & Sciences "Pentathalon" (which actually required entry in more like ten or twelve artistic fields, but "Multi-athalon" is such an ugly neologism!). And so one reign I put out for comment the idea of creating an Order to be given to the winners, this Order to rank in Precedence with the Counts and Countesses. Predictably, there was much comment. However, some interesting patterns emerged. In general, the fighters were indifferent; the belted fighters inclined to be in favor; and the Counts and Dukes were more inclined to be in favor. (With exceptions, of course.) On the other hand, the non-fighters tended to be opposed (frequently with the explicit reason that the fighters would not stand for it!). The only two really strong opponents were both Mistresses of the Laurel—one of whom was not living in the Kingdom at the time, and rather than writing and arguing against the idea, wrote instead to the Board of Directors and demanded that they forbid me to do such a thing. (The Board declined to get involved.)

So, after weighing the responses, it was done. This still did not allow for service to be rewarded properly, but it was a step I thought. And so I accepted the title of Count. But, since there was still no way except via fighting for someone to attain Precedence equal to a Duke or Duchess, I still declined that rank. (Some years later a king came along who removed the Order's place in precedence. Since the lady who wrote to the BoD was one of his Queens, one might suspect that she had some say in the decision; then again, it may have been a simple matter of like minds. I considered abandoning the title of Count at that point, but since I wasn't making any particular use of it anyway, it did not seem worth the hassle.)

NERISSA MERAUD DE LA FONTAINE (West): I LOVED reading Lucky's perspectives! (issue #2) Images of one of his visits here (Oerthe) , where he sprawled, rather than sat, on the throne and twirled the "field" Crown around on one finger like a hoola-hoop kept coming to mind. I've always known that his view of things was different, but ThinkWell finally let me see just how different. [He's the one who pel-laureled me (yes, at the same time), and because of the way he handled the situation, he's always been my favorite king.]

KINGDOM DIFFERENCES & REGIONAL TRAITS

MASTER GEOFFREY d'AYR (East): W.t.Lucky comments "Thus in the eastern kingdoms one can hear. . .long paeans to the awesome power and dread majesty of the King and the Crown"; well, yeah! We don't give Kings and Queens as much inherent respect as they get further west, so instead we let them have lots of pretty titles and honorifics. There is a sort of unalloyed cynicism about royalty that many of us in this part of the world feel, and have no shame in showing. Then again, look at some of our past Royals! OY!

DUKE GYRTH OLDCASTLE OF RAVENSPUR (Atlantia): RE: William the Lucky's comments on page 3.* In my 17 years in the East and Atlantia (King twice, Kingdom Herald for two years, and Kingdom Court Herald for seven years) I never heard "long paeans to the awesome power and dread majesty of the King and Crown." The right-coast view of monarchy is that the king may do whatever the people allow. For whatever reason, the history of the eastern SCA is chockablock with bad reigns. Our kings have done a much more thorough job of testing law, custom, and people's patiences with the result that law, custom, and people's patiences have adjusted. It is the Western Rite kingdoms that bow to empty thrones in pro forma respect. The eastern SCA tends to judge monarchs as individuals, not as symbols. The eastern SCA prizes variety over tradition (e.g. Each time a peer is created, a scroll is made, or monarchs are crowned, the text of the ceremony is new and different).

NOTE FROM AELFLAED, THE ASPIRING MODERATOR: Even within a kingdom I have seen, heard, and been involved in knock down, drag out "discussions" over what is and isn't, what does and doesn't happen. It is possible that William saw/heard things Gyrth didn't, or something Gyrth considered innocuous struck William as profound. It happens all the time.

As an etiquette suggestion, I propose that any "Western" folk or offspring who travel in "Eastern Rite" kingdoms should not bow to those thrones, and any Eastern types should avoid passing right in front of Western kingdoms' thrones, because the appearance of anyone, particularly a peer, breezing in front of the throne like it's nothing important causes many in my neighborhood and surrounding kingdoms to think the person is a disrespectful boor.

When I was growing up a Baptist kid in a severely Catholic town, I thought it the goofiest thing that when the school bus passed in front of dinky little San Pedro church which only had one service a month, nearly everybody on the whole bus would make the sign of the cross. When I got older and was conscripted by Catholic friends (what other kind could I have in Española?) to come and lead the musicians for the folk mass (9:30—the big one—and you won't be surprised to know that I chucked some of the 1967 goop for some nice rounds from around 1620), I would go around the outside, rain or shine, rather than cross without genuflecting in front of the altar in front of 300+ little old ladies in black lace veils (and most of their relatives). If I had faked it, 300 little old ladies would have said "She's not Catholic." That's what little towns are good for.

The SCA is a huge little town. If Bish goes to Atenveldt and bows to an empty throne lots of them will know he's a foreigner and wonder why he's bowing to their throne. If he doesn't, lots more of them will think he's discourteous. Cut around the back of the hall, Bish no shortcuts for you. I'll likely do the same if I encounter any empty thrones east of here I'll cut around the outside, rain or shine, rather than go against my ingrained behavior, or risking being thought a nut.

JUSTIN DU COEUR (East): William's comments about the differences between East and West regarding the King are a little overstated, but largely correct, I think. The major inaccuracy is that we don't really play up the pomp of the Monarchs all that much, and when we do, it's sometimes in jest. But yes, the Royalty tend to get treated with a grain of salt around here; the ones who get great obedience from the general populace do so because they are well-respected, as much as because of the hat…

Master Hagar suggests that the difference is largely due to rebellion. I'll suggest that it's more a question of early geography. The "East Kingdom" was originally pretty much defined as New York; the groups more than fifty or eighty miles away turned into relatively independent baronies. This seems to have led to relatively feudal attitudes, with much of the populace paying more attention and respect to their barons than to the king. And this appears to continue down to the present day… (Bish? Does this seem realistic to you?)

I'll add one more "geographical" consideration that shapes a group: population density. Carolingia has sometimes been accused of being a bit isolationist: that is, people from the barony don't travel much. But there's a simple reason for that: we've got an estimated population of 300 locally, in an area only about an hour's drive from end-to-end. Thus, there isn't any need for people to travel, unless they consider (as I do) travel to be virtue unto itself, because we do just about everything in-barony.

(Have other large baronies had the same problem? Have you managed to do anything about it?)

MASTER HAGAR THE BLACK (OUTLANDS): Having lived in several kingdoms (at several times during the SCA's development), I have seen this phenomenon [different kingdom cultures] first hand. I think that some things can be "normalized," but you are never going to achieve a state where all the kingdoms are equal in all respects. It is often a very different thing to acclimate yourself to an entirely different SCA culture when you move, especially when you are having to acclimate yourself to a new culture during the rest of the week as well (for example, moving from the San Francisco bay area to South Carolina…) The people who have the most trouble making the adjustment are the ones who either don't understand going in that the different areas of the SCA are different, and so don't prepare themselves for a change, or those who are so "nationalistic" about the way of their own homeland that they spend most of their time telling their new SCA companions about how much better it was in the "old country," and trying to make their new home over in the image of the old (which tend to annoy the residents of their new home!). It is all fine and good to be proud of the kingdom in which you live, and of its traditions, but at the same time I have yet to live in, or even hear tell of, a kingdom that is so perfect that it cannot learn something from another.

MELISANDE DE BELVOIR (Atlantia): Your comments on first impressions of new groups struck a chord with me, too. I grew up in Philadelphia and moved from there to Washington, DC, which I didn't find to be terribly different in character from home. But when I first started to travel farther south, to the Carolinas, for example, I began to understand about "southern hospitality." Courtesy to ladies has a different feel in the South than it has up north.

I'd also like to mention the "dime-a-dozen" peer syndrome; I've tended to find that people are a lot more impressed when a new peer moves into town if there are only one or two peers already there than they are in a place like Storvik, where you can hardly spit without hitting a peer. Sometimes it gives people a very unpleasant first impression when people are less impressed with their accomplishments than the people back home were; it's important for everyone to keep these things in perspective.

AMADEA DA STRADA DRAGONESSA (Caid): Kingdoms and local groups, too, will change according to the life stages their members are passing through. A group whose majority of active members are single, a few years out of college with no children, no mortgage or major job responsibilities is very different from a group comprised of couples with small children, houses to pay for and maintain, and jobs that have matured to management which require more than 9-5. I have experienced this in my life and family and have seen it occur in others'. Here's a new topic: SCA children. . . [This part of the letter appears under "Children" later on—a topic Duchess Melisande also brought up, in #2.]

GEOGRAPHICAL FACTORS

MISTRESS NERISSA MERAUD DE LA FONTAINE (West): On the subject of "mountain ranges vs travel," here in Oertha we have a slightly twisted version of travel difficulties. There are basically four groups in this principality, one in Anchorage (from whence I travel), one in Fairbanks (350 miles/6-8 hours by car for me or an hour/well over $100 by commercial plane), one in Juneau (which cannot be driven to, the options are driving 5-6 hours THEN taking the 4-or-so hour ferry trip or flying 2 hours/$300+), and one in the Mat-Su Valley (which is only 60-70 miles by car). With these logistics (and our twice-annual Coronet tourneys rotating among the four groups) in mind, I was bemused to read [in something from another kingdom] that people in that area were balking at driving over an hour to get to an event. No, we frankly don't travel between groups here as often as is probably "healthy" for a principality, but we all travel as often as we can afford either the time or the money (which is usually what it comes down to). Here it's not so much mountain ranges as just plain geography (too much of it between one place and another. The Crown has been good about visiting all four (or at least two of the four) groups on each visit, and the Coronet does a good job of visiting the other three groups as well. In the beginning, the vast majority of peerages were made in Eskalya, since we were the biggest group and the most direct air route for Crowns from "Mainland," but those things have evened out with time.

Mistress Nerissa's letter crossed in the mail with Issue #2; she wrote back again:
As an Alaskan, I've always had to deal with the Mainland's concept (modern-world, mind you) that it's somehow a shorter distance and/or less expensive for me to go Stateside than for someone from there to come here. I was tickled to see Master Hagar's comments reflecting somewhat the same concept.

AELFLAED OF DUCKFORD (Outlands): This section and the one above are becoming more and more fused, but that's fine. This applies to Justin's point about baronial travel above and also Hagar's distance formula—that two groups an equal distance apart are each as far from the other. I've lived in a small shire (a founder of a dink shire—never over about twelve active, mostly my own friends and relatives, and it died when I left) and a big (way over 200 active, if not all paid) barony. I also lived in the mundane towns involved. There are very many more reasons to travel from a small town to a large city than there are to travel from a large city (in our case 400,000 or so people—not as large as some other readers are in, but the largest in the state is the largest in the state). People from the small town travel to go shopping, to movies, to restaurants, the zoo, museums, the state fair, the airport, etc., all the time—they have no choice. Conversely, the people in the big city might travel out to each small town once or twice in their lives unless they have relatives, and when they get there they see the one thing they came to see, they eat, and there's nothing else for them to do. In a way, then, socially and practically, it's "closer" (more convenient and more sensible) for half of a shire to pack up (in one van, as we used to do) and go to a big event in a big barony, than it is for half of a barony to pack up and go to a small event in a small shire. One time a large portion of the barony did come to our shire. It was hard to feed them all. People were on floors everywhere at night—not enough crash space when the native population was way outnumbered. We couldn't offer anything they couldn't have gotten at home except newness and appreciation for their slightest assistance. We learned more by going to the whole barony than by having part of the barony come to us.

Before you get too objective and practical in measuring maps, you might consider this true-life testimonial from someone who grew up in a small town and moved to the city (both real-life and in the SCA).

GEOFFREY d'AYR (East): For years I've been nagging my home group to get out and visit more; sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. When you drive 200 miles to go to an event, and it's a lousy event and the people you crash with are rude and the local Peer makes bitchy comments about your garb/armor/whatever, you are sure you don't want these people to visit you in return! Of course, I've been to that event, and later discovered that they were really nice people having a really bad day that day; but a lot of people don't have my (ahem!) forgiving nature!

NEW TOPIC * NEW TOPIC * NEW TOPIC
SCRIBAL BACKLOG
Baroness Jocelyn Crokehorne (An Tir)

An Tir is yet a young kingdom, but already we have the most stupefying backlog of award scrolls to be issued. An informal survey shows an approximately 700 YEAR backlog! One suggestion that's being considered is that the "promissory" given at the time the award is bestowed be all the recipient gets, unless he or she wishes to commission (yes, PAY) a scribe to do a scroll. This ensures that you get high quality, you get what you want (commissioner input assumed), and the scribes get more than a "gee, thanks" for what is sometimes many months of research and work, and many dollars worth of tools and materials. It's hoped that this would provide greater incentive, and the challenge of obtaining prestigious assignments may inspire more people to resume, increase, or begin scribal work.

This system would change the role of the kingdom scribes' guild more toward that of a clearing house. They might, for instance, get the right scribe in touch with the right customer (keeping a list of those qualified in Sanskrit, for instance), train new scribes, locate materials, and keep track of scroll assignments. They would also probably continue to provide the records needed to make scrolls. Refinements to this system might include still producing scrolls for royal peers only, for peers only, etc.

As with any change, some may feel threatened by this proposal, and there's been heated controversy. Do other kingdoms experience this massive scribal backlog? If so, what are they doing about it? Any helpful thoughts on the matter will be forwarded for review. [I'll reserve comment for #4, because #3 is getting so long already, and to give other people a chance to respond first. From rumors I've heard of the requirements to be a scribe in An Tir, and to earn the privilege of producing a scroll for the kingdom, it may be a problem unique to An Tir. How are scrolls handled in other kingdoms? —ælflaED]

NERISSA MERAUD DE LA FONTAINE (WEST)

Mistress Nerissa is the Corporate Arts and Sciences Officer. Several of her comments appear in this issue, and I thought you would be interested in some of the autobiographical info she sent:

"I keep referring back to issue #1 and #2 and wondering if I should be trying to put my 2¢ in at all. Reading the well-traveled opinions of mainland SCA folk makes me feel as though my SCA experience, for all its length (13+ years), is pretty limited. Something like the girl who went to Catholic school throughout her life transferring to UC Berkeley in the late 60's.

"My primary alphabets are OP/OL (received together, and I'm actually starting to use my ‘Mistress' title occasionally). Though my entire SCA life has been spent in the West Kingdom, Oertha, I've never been to a mainland Kingdom event (did go to a Middle Kingdom Imperium-wide brewing seminar some years back, to teach a couple of classes and visit a friend who'd moved there, though). Have been MoAS/SCA since July of 1989, have edited Sources and Resources since early 1985, and finally have my office collection down to TWO the Corporate post and librarian for my barony. Currently make my living as a dressmaker, specializing in historical reproduction, and am working toward opening an store-front for the retail sale of textile art supplies, fabrics/patterns, and an eclectic array of history and craft books/magazines. My persona is early 17th century French (which succeeded my original 7th century Arabic Jewess merchant)."

WHO PRONOUNCES ‘SCA' AS THREE LETTERS, AND HOW MANY PRONOUNCE IT AS A WORD, RHYMING WITH ‘BAH'?"

GWILYM MOORE DE MONTFORT (Seneschal of An Tir): I think most, if not all, in An Tir refer to the SCA as "S-C-A" as three letters, like UFO. SCA like "scaw" is a sound that is harsh on the throat and not pleasing to the ears.

GYRTH OLDCASTLE OF RAVENSPUR (Atlantia): I believe that SCAdian is a term invented by Markland (with derisive connotation). They use it to describe those other people in their hometown. I have always said ess-see-ay. SCA (one syllable) is a Midrealm invention, or so I've always believed from my Pennsic experience.

GEOFFREY d'AYR (East): Unless I've been hearing wrong, most Easterners say the three letters (S.C.A.) but refer to themselves or others in the group as SCAdians. Very few use Ska as a three-letter word.

AELFLAED OF DUCKFORD (Outlands): I've heard it used by people whose accent is such that it doesn't rhyme with "bah" so much as it sounds like "scab" with no "b." There is an "a" sound which doesn't exist in all English-speaking areas. I've known people from St. Louis, Chicago and somewhere in Wisconsin. They all had that sound which I don't have (and they used in in the middles of "Chicago" and "Wisconsin"). That's the "a" I've heard in "sca," so I too will suggest it may be limited to the Middle Kingdom.

JUSTIN DU COEUR (East): I'll agree with Bish: generally "Ess-See-Ay," with a person referred to as a "SCA-dian" (with a long "A")…

ETHNOCENTRICITY

MELISANDE DE BELVOIR (Atlantia): The essay on ethnocentricity raised a couple of issues for me. I firmly believe you were right when you suggested that one's initial impressions of the way things are (or ought to be) in the SCA determines what one believes once one is established in the SCA. I, for example, was largely introduced to SCA philosophy at the knee of one of our leading proponents of the Authenticity School. Consequently, the pursuit of authenticity seems to me to be a worthy, and indeed, important goal for participation in the SCA. Although I choose carefully the areas where I focus my pursuit of authenticity, in those areas I am adamant. I leave other areas to those with more interest and/or talent for them. That is to say, it's all I can do to sew a straight seam with a sewing machine and a seam guide, and I don't spin, and I can't afford the linens, wools, and silks I should be wearing, so I don't make any pretenses to authenticity of clothing. But I don't bring chocolate chip cookies to events, I don't drink Coke at events, and I'd rather die than call out for pizza to be delivered to the Pennsic Troll Booth.

I certainly think it's true that the twelve kingdoms have equally valid, but different, cultures. In fact, I think the Corporation does the kingdoms a serious disservice when it seeks to homogenize the customs and conventions of the various kingdoms. I recognize the desire to provide such services as the corporate insurance policy, and I think that's a Good Thing. But I wonder at what cost those things should be provided. It would be easier for fighters to visit other kingdoms and play if there were universal policies on fighting conventions and armor standards, but how much is lost when the history of each kingdom is dismissed for uniformity with the other kingdoms? For example (and here I speak at something of a disadvantage, since I am not a fighter), hardwood spear shafts had been in use in the East and Atlantia for a number of years before the Society Marshal determined that they are not safe.    [1] To the best of my knowledge, there had never been an incident where anyone was hurt, or even almost hurt, by a hardwood shaft. Some other kingdoms expressed concern about them, so they were banned everywhere. The question, then, is how to preserve and celebrate the flavors of the kingdoms. Perhaps ThinkWell can help, as people are better able to communicate with each other across the borders.

AMADEA DA STRADA DRAGONESSA (Caid): I have participated in the SCA for almost 18 years. I have seen a lot of growth in the SCA both in individual members and the group as a whole. Your article on Ethnocentricity was one of my favorites in issue #1.

ANONYMOUS (Somewhere)    [2] : I have seen too many people come to my kingdom using the line about their own home kingdom and the result is a kind of social blacklisting. Many accept newcomers and take the good and leave the bad, while many others will ignore anything good a newcomer from another kingdom has to say because they make statements like "Where I come from we do it this way, and I think it would work just as well for you." In reality it is not an issue of which cultural regions are more or less accepting of new ideas, it is how those ideas are presented.

AELFLAED OF DUCKFORD (Outlands): I think the suggestion in both my original article and William the Lucky's response was that most kingdoms are more favorably inclined toward one or two kingdoms than they are others. In my own kingdom (lately, in the groups I run with—let me qualify this to mush) suggestions of "In Calontir they. . ." are better received by the audience than the same statement using "Atenveldt" or "Ansteorra" might be. Next year, next decade, things may be different. This has its parallels in real life too. In 1970 it was very cool to be from or go to India. Not so good in 1991. Now Russia's cool. Five years ago Australia was cool. France is respected by very many countries, but don't try suggesting anything French in England, where they resist even pronouncing "ballet" right.

GEOFFREY d'AYR (East): W.t.Lucky mentions an apparent bias regarding Westerners; I agree that that was true at one time, but question whether it still is. I remember years ago (ca. 1975-80?), there was such a degree of prejudice about Westerners out here. People didn't travel as much then (or at least didn't visit other SCAdians as much) and much of the East experience with The West was on the corporate level, which at the time was much more closely mixed with Society personae and politics. In addition, the few visits from "representative Westerners" up to that time has been less than inspirational; at least when I was growing up in the Society, I heard horror stories about the obnoxious, insensitive brutes who visited here!  [3]

So the East was pretty chary about accepting, or even being polite to, people from the West. But in recent years, having had our own BoD and Corporate Officers stalking among us; with the separation of "church and state" (i.e. corporation from society  [4]); and with the greater mixing of peoples from all over, I think that prejudice has pretty much died out. I asked a few friends who've been in the SCA for 2-3 years and they say they never heard of such a thing!

GUNS & KNIVES Duchess Melisande de Belvoir (Atlantia)

The discussion (in #1, under regional differences) of banning guns at SCA events interested me a lot and amused and frightened me a little. I'm from the East Coast, where people don't walk around carrying guns in holsters, and I'm glad they don't, but even if it were customary here I wouldn't expect to see someone in a houpelande carrying a gun. In fact, we in Atlantia have had a related discussion about knives, which are much more of a problem in our chosen milieu. Specifically, the debate revolved around children (and adolescents!) and edged steel. Certainly, the vast majority of young people are responsible and can be trusted to keep their belt knives sheathed until they come to table. But one foolish child running with a naked blade, or one hot-tempered adolescent (and adolescents are notoriously hot-tempered!) on a bad day could mean tragedy. Presumably, it should be the responsibility of the parents to determine whether the child is competent to carry a knife safely, but not all parents can be trusted to make objective decisions about this kind of issue. Do I want to trust that my son will be safe with a child whose parent thinks it's cute for a five-year-old to carry a knife? (Answer: No, I do not.) Interestingly enough, the major spokesman for the party that did not want to establish a rule against children carrying knives was a young man who had virtually grown up in the SCA. His contention was that he had always carried a knife and had done so safely and responsibly. It was difficult to persuade him that not every teenager is as level-headed as he was, that we're dealing now with more and younger children, and that as the SCA gets larger, some of the care we used to take of each other is being spread too thin to cover all eventualities. The same forces that caused the SCA's move off the Registrar's back porch and into a real office mean that we will have to legislate things we might once have regulated through less formal means.

HAGAR THE BLACK (Outlands): Though I am not a gun owner myself (nor do I have a desire to be), I have no argument with those who carry guns to events and leave them locked in their car (whether they're required to or not), or even if they are well secured in someone's pavilion. I do, however, have a problem with those who carry guns on their person at events, even hidden within the folds of their garb. We had a problem with a man in Atlantia who did this, and dropped the gun onto the floor in the middle of the hall on at least two occasions that I know of (once in the middle of court). It didn't go off either time (which guns are occasionally known to do when dropped), but there were a number of people who were not amused. Now (he claimed that) he was licensed to carry the gun, but even so, this was obviously improper handling of the weapon.

CAMPAIGNING FOR PEERAGE

MISTRESS NERISSA MERAUD DE LA FONTAINE (West): A knight takes on a squire and it is assumed that the squire is dedicated to becoming a peer. Though in many kingdoms the apprentice/protege situation is either very much quieter than squiring or simply non-existent, apprentices/proteges are also assumed to be working toward peerage. This is right and proper.

Having done it myself, I find nothing improper about setting goals for oneself and applying the appropriate amount of energy and diligence toward achieving them. The problem comes in (and, I suppose it's simply a matter of taste or manners) when the individual makes a media campaign out of it as well (whether taken to the extremes of print or simply mentioning it loudly at every opportunity).

There is, after all, an ATTITUDE associated with peerage that implies a certain amount of humility be maintained. I realize that not every peer personifies this attitude, but in my mind each and every peer should be concerned primarily with raising our SCA quality of life (be this in display, in physical prowess, in teaching, and in serving). This is not achieved by blowing one's own horn, either before or after one becomes a peer.

GYRTH OLDCASTLE (ATLANTIA): I must agree with Duke Artan. I, too, wanted to be a knight when I found out about the SCA. My activities were focused to that end. I pray that nothing I did was dishonorable or discourteous, but aspiring to a noble goal is only ignoble if the aspirant behaves dishonorably or discourteously.

GEOFFREY d'AYR (EAST): I agree with Master Hagar that the first clear distinction is "…whether you mean campaigning for yourself, or campaigning for another person." The person in question would have to be awfully damn' good and truly deserving/neglected for me to approve of their self-directed campaign for an award at any level.

Master Hagar also comments: "If you aspire to the pelican (at least openly), it is considered…death to your chances of ever attaining it." I don't know that that is true in the East; having a strong desire for the Pelican is considered a mite perverted perhaps, but not intrinsically wrong. The times I've known there to be controversy in that field wasn't because the person was publicly known to want the award, but because they had been obnoxious about it!
           ON A RELATED TOPIC: Duchess Melisande (my SCA "daughter"—Hi Kid!) brings up Mistress Eowyn's question—do awards encourage people to keep doing a good job or to work for more awards? Yes and no. Getting a pat on the head has its place and value. I have to say in all honesty that I've been playing SCA for quite awhile now; I've gotten every award possible for a non-fighter. And I'm still in there autocratting, teaching, holding offices and all that, but at times I do grow weary and ask myself WHY.  
[5]

JUSTIN DU COEUR (East): I'm going to flip over to playing Devil's Advocate here. I'll start out by saying that people who are actively campaigning for awards generally grate on my nerves in a big way, but I'm going to argue the other side. I'll also provide a caveat that I am not fond of the award system in general, and would love to see about 75% of it abolished.

First point: everything being said in this discussion really applies to any award, not just peerages. Nowadays, it takes longer to get an Award of Arms (in many places) than it took to get a Peerage fifteen years ago. "AoA fever" is, in my experience, a considerably worse problem today than "Peer fever."

Now, all this said, I think that it's rather unfair to be so down on the folks who do campaign for awards. The SCA award system is a marvel of cognitive dissonance. On the one hand, it is the only conspicuous method of rewarding Good Works. (Yes, there's also the joy of doing the work and the respect that one can get without titles, but to someone with low self-esteem—that is, a large fraction of the Society—those subtler rewards seem like a hollow reflection of Awards.) On the other hand, we are told that it is somehow bad to want these awards.

The pain this has caused is wondrous to behold. I have seen many friends go through phases of believing themselves to be somehow evil and nasty people, because they wanted that award. Because the people around them are getting awards for doing less work. Because they resent a system that is, intrinsically, a bit unfair.

Now, I'm not saying that we should go and make the system fair—I haven't yet heard a proposal for making the SCA "fair" that wasn't completely half-assed. But look at what we've got. The award system in inherently subjective. We have people who (subjectively) believe themselves due for awards. And now we go getting angry at them for resenting their lot?  [6]

Award Fever is unfortunate, but it is built right into the way the system works. Instead of resenting these people, and trying to hold them back, we need to help them get past that fever, and convince them that awards are not the be-all and end-all of the Society. Telling them that they are wrong to want these carrots that we've put in front of them is simply going to burn them out on the Society, as has happened so many thousands of times before…

(And yes—I went through this, for my Arms. The trauma of that experience did a lot to shape my attitudes towards Life in the SCA…)

[Please note that ellipses in Justin's writing are his expression of written speech, and not a mark of my having left out anything. I need to invent a mark to show when I leave something of his out. I'll ponder. —ælflaED]

AELFLAED OF DUCKFORD (OUTLANDS): Aspiring should be secret, not public, that's my main point. If it can't be secret (becoming a squire is a pretty definite move) then I prefer people to act and speak in as humble a way as possible, and avoid speaking directly about the peerage in question. Before Artan jumps on me about the word "secret" let me suggest "subtle," "guarded," "not apparent." I prefer someone's desire for knighthood to be deep in his calmest soul, rather than in his eyes or other easily excited parts.

RELATIONSHIP OF KNIGHT TO SQUIRE

GWILYM MOORE DE MONTFORT (AN TIR):
I recently asked a knight if I could be his squire. I have only fought five times in my life and that was six years ago! I am currently working on new armor and plan to fight for fun. In An Tir I have heard that fighters ask knights or knights will ask a potential squire, either way seems to be fine and considered polite. I was asked to submit my request again via calligraphed and illuminated scroll and then he would think about it. I see this as a wonderful way of making sure the fighter knows how to read, write and knows something about the arts. It makes for a well-rounded knight, if the fighter ever achieves that position.

The comments that Bish and Sir Aedward make are both valid. It depends on the individuals as to the outcome of the relationship. I know of many Squire/Knight relationships that work and many that appear to be nothing more than the "old boys network." It is unavoidable in any society but hopefully the good guys will outnumber the bad guys. And, as Master Hagar said, "…as long as both of them understand and agree to the terms of the arrangement…"

GEOFFREY d'AYR (East): Thanks to all who wrote (in #2); it's nice to get some perceptions out there on this question. From all I know, I've never heard of there being a tradition of knights have to ask squires or vice versa in the East, but I could be wrong.

I loved Sir Aedward's response. I've often thought of trying to become someone's squire with no interest or intent in fighting but to learn (as best as someone this ornery can) service. I never have because the only knights in the East whom I have felt I could serve and would be comfortable being served by me don't want non-fighter squires!

I wish his idea of the relationship was more accepted, especially up here.


The following was written by Amal' a Jabal Hamrin, a subscriber from my own barony, after she read the section in ThinkWell #2 about knights and squires. Although she had been active with a household for about three years she found what I wrote about Gunwaldt's squires "new and inspiring." Just after reading that, she heard Duke Koris give a lecture to knights, squires and other fighters on "Goal Orientation." That night she awoke at 3:00 a.m. and wrote this:
HONOUR and CHIVALRY
(the legacy of Knight to Squire)

Honour bound each Knight must be
or the Kingdom could, possibly, fall
for the Heart of the Crown is the chivalry
of those bold men who fight best of all.

They lead us in battle
where we stave off death's rattle,
‘til our throats raise that victory cry.

Oh, we shall follow such men
to fight bravely with them
and their glory is partly our try.

I am greatly inspired
by that Knight whom I Squired.
As a god to me, is what he is.

And, the footprints I leave,
I sincerely believe,
merely deepen those footprints of his.

He shared all his knowledge,
his wisdom and skill,
'til, instilled in my Will
is the twin of his Will.

He taught me, from decades,
of all he had learned
but, what he freely gave me,
by me must be earned.

…now, the prayers of my vigil
are shared with each friend
as my years of apprenticeship come to their end

His chain and white belt
are bestowed unto me
and, the red belt goes onto
my squire-to-be.

For the circle continues,
as always shall be,
and LEGACY HONOURS THE NEW CHIVALRY   
(7)

July 1991 Hope Hamrin [Amal' a Jabal Hamrin (Outlands)]

GYRTH OLDCASTLE (ATLANTIA): I offer my folks almost nothing in hard, material benefits. My coin is words and example. I have had ten squires in 12 years. Each was as different from the other as possible. The only constant was my commitment to be available to them whenever they wished. I don't believe that any of them regret being my squires (at least not a lot.)

Quick story: Rumors, we get rumors. One time a rumor floated to my Clan (cf: Eeeeeevil Oldcastle Political Machine) that "Gyrth had ordered all his vassals to fight in Crown Tourney." The immediate and accurate response of Countess Elizabeth was, "The only thing Gyrth ever ordered was pizza."

RE: My father-in-law's (Bish) comments on page 14 [of #2]. I am a knight. I have four squires who are knights and they have another three squires who are knights and one who is a Crown Prince as I write. Among us we have been Earl Marshall, Kingdom Herald, Kingdom Seneschal, Kingdom Master of Arts and Sciences, Chancellor of the Kingdom University, Baronial seneschals, heralds, knight marshalls, a pelican, a laurel, a gaggle of kingdom service, arts (and even martial) awards and autocrat of a score or two of events. We even do the dishes sometimes. In-laws can be such a pain.  [8]

DUKE GYRTH OLDCASTLE (ATLANTIA)

I am Gyrth Oldcastle of Ravenspur, dux, miles, et litteratus. (That's how people who could read and write Latin signed themselves back home so you knew they wrote the letter themselves.) I come from the place the Vikings landed in 1066 and the place they straggled home from. I've been a king in two different places, but I retired and they gave me the title Duke. I like how it sounds so I use it. When I was king of one of those places, a foreign king knighted me. I helped out my successors there by being their herald for a couple of years. I'm too fat because my wife cooks too well. She likes to run things too and she's done that a lot so she keeps me busy. I still teach young whippersnappers how to use a sword, but alas find less and less time to do it myself. So I have retreated to my books and serve as Chancellor of my King's university. I am surrounded by my relatives and friends who form my Clan; they put up with my quirkiness and oddness out of what I believe to be profound compassion and pity. All in all it's a good life.

[Along with this letter I was thrilled to receive a preview (the last chapter) of Gyrth's Fundamentals of Oldcastle Sword and Shield, a book prepared for sale at Pennsic this year. If I were you, I would buy one. This may be the most philosophical chapter (it's Chapter 13, "Late Night Loose Talk") or not, I don't know, but it's wonderful. I don't have permission to quote until after Pennsic, but when I can I will. -AElflaed

P.S. If you can only afford one book at Pennsic, buy mine. If you can afford two, buy Gyrth's too. Get Cariadoc's while you're at it. They're each $10 and worth every last cent. (Any more subscribers have a book I should plug?) On second thought, buy Gyrth's and Cariadoc's at Pennsic. Get one of mine mail order later, because it will be a slightly improved version.]

PEER FEAR

MISTRESS NERISSA MERAUD DE LA FONTAINE (West): On being "scared of peers"… while I've heard a fair amount about it from some of my officers and others with whom I correspond, we don't seem to suffer from the problem here (Barony of Eskalya). There are no resident Dukes or Counts, but we have 5 multiple-Viscount/ess pairs, 4 double peers, 8 singles. Our chatelaine has always had a good deal of influence with the newcomers (it being her job), and the past two at least have made an effort to point out the peers to new folk and say "These are the people to talk to if you have questions or want to find something out. They will help you." We are not a formal or snobbish lot, although we don't always make an effort to approach newcomers ourselves.

GEOFFREY d'AYR (East): Oh yeah, we bad, we bad. Being pecked to death by Pelicans is a favorite East Kingdom fear; Laurels, of course are Born to Bitch; and Knights are basically safe, as long as you don't mind having an un-housebroken, fully grown St. Bernard around.

Seriously, I think that Evil / Wicked / Mean / Nasty peers are a form of folk-tale that gets passed on from generation to generation (in the SCA a generation, by me at any rate, is ca. 2 years of SCA activity), almost always among non-peers. It also takes the form of "them vs. Us"; a common saying throughout much of the East is: THE LAURELS OF CAROLINGIA THINK THEY ARE AS GOOD AS THEIR CLOTHING. Except in Carolingia where the saying is: BUT WE ARE! Which, oddly, acknowledges the fact that they really do tend to be, as a group, exceptional costumers.

For reasons that I choose to believe are complimentary, I have often been introduced to newbies as "The approachable Peer"; I suppose because I don't take it very seriously and often take it very sarcastically. Either that or a lot of other peers in the East really are as obnoxious as I've heard!

AELFLAED OF DUCKFORD (Outlands): I seem to hear consistently that people who don't know me are afraid of me and people who know me really aren't. The problem may be, then, figuring out how to get peers and non-peers to know each other more easily. Any master plans forming? Little tricks?

"WISHES TO REMAIN ANONYMOUS" (Could be from your kingdom):  [9] If peers are so quick to take credit for every good thing that happens (no matter how much they were opposed to it prior to finding out it worked) then they should be willing to take the blame for every bad thing which happens. Right? Yes, peers are also individuals but the word peer makes/causes them to be a collective, undivided single whole ego that results in the perception they are all the same. It takes the efforts of individual personalities to prove otherwise.
[Elsewhere in the same letter:] I have travelled to many parts of the known world and to this day I think some peers feel you should not speak to them unless you are spoken to.

DUKE GYRTH OLDCASTLE (Atlantia): I, like many others, have been around since before stew. I think of myself as 300 lb of loveable goo. Yet, too frequently for it to be a coincidence, people who get to know me tell me that they were scared stiff of me when first we met. Part of this is the Clan thing. Part of this is the newcomer's self-induced awe of SCA royalty and ex-royalty and peers. I do not think that snooty is the word, rather it is part of the TEMPORAL PROBLEM .

RE: TEMPORAL PROBLEM: This problem runs like this: I am a member of the SCA, but I'm only in the SCA a very small number of hours in a year. We function like a small town, but we are worse than Brigadoon. At least in Brigadoon, everyone shares the same time and place; in the SCA, I can be very active (2 events a month/1 or 2 practices a week) in the very same place you are active and not know you at all. This is very possible where I live. The Barony of Storvik has about 300 people, five weekly fighting practices, a multitude of other workshops, meetings etc. Even for peerages, how many hours of actual contact does the average peer have with the average candidate? Is it enough time to form a reliable judgement about the person?

BECOMING A PEER
AELFLAED OF DUCKFORD

I've had two thoughts this month. [Well, actually I've had more than two thoughts, but I've had two creative and original thoughts. (It's only getting worse.)] Thought #1 is an analogy for me myself to use when I'm asked to advise on whether someone should be a peer. Rather than think of it as a reward for past accomplishment, and rather than think of it even as the traditional "recognition of status attained," I'm going to think of it as hiring someone on as a full professor in our university. If I think of peerage as a permanent (tenured) position, and peers as those whose actions, knowledge, attitudes, etc., will define the level of excellence of our ongoing educational endeavor, I'll be better able to say "no" about people who are not good examples in one way or another, who are not active enough to stick around for many years afterward, who won't continue to learn and grow, etc. It doesn't mean I'll want them to be all the same. Some professors are best at lecturing, some at research, some at writing, or advising and inspiring. The same range of differences exists among peers.

Thought #2 was a flash of insight as to why many laurels and pelicans so resent the chivalry. The going "excuse" is that knights have jazzier ceremonies. I think that's way, way off the mark. My new theory is that it is possible to be a very good knight without being very intelligent. It's not easy (or maybe not even possible) for someone who isn't intelligent to do the sort of research and production required of laurels, and near impossible for someone who's not intelligent to become a pelican. It's possible—and common—for guys of average intelligence to be real-life war heroes, to save children from drowning, to be steadfast, honest citizens with happy kids, nice-looking yards and cars that don't pollute. Similarly, in the Society, a guy who's no genius might be one of the most talented of fighters, and that coordination could extend to dancing, and he might be charming and kind and reliable and honorable to the very core of his being. He could be a perfect knight without being really smart. This is not to suggest that there are not genius-types in the Order of Chivalry, because every reader here knows there are (some of you are those guys). It's more that the chivalry is open to a greater range of test scores, as it were, making it a less elite group. That makes it doubly irritating that when discussions of "equality of peerages" come up, it's rarely couched as "are the knights as good as the laurels?" but "the laurels really are the equals of the knights, you know." If I had gone to St. John's College, I'd hate to hear someone from UNM say my school was as good as theirs was, and I'd probably be hesitant (nauseous) to say that theirs was as good as mine. [Since I went to UNM instead of St. John's, I can say that, I guess.]

AEDWARD OF GLASTONBURH (Meridies)

Since you seem to think it will be interesting, a list of titles & Assorted Stuff (In the Order of Importance to Me, if I had to start giving stuff back, from most to least important):
Flower of Chivalry from the Ladies of Bryn Madoc
Order of Chivalry from the Ladies of The South Downs
Award of Arms
Founding Territorial Baron, Bryn Madoc
Order of the Dreamstone (Baronial Service)
K.S.C.A.
O.P.
Order of the Argent Lily, Meridies
Order of the Meridien Majesty
Order of the Sovereign's Pleasure (x2)
Order of the Weaponsmasters, Meridies
Order of the Bough (kingdom service)
Court Baronetcy, Meridies
Grant of Arms

AElflaed's nearly-inevitable response: Well, yes, I do think it's interesting. I was rearranging my own list in my head, to make a sort of "personal order of precedence" as you did, and was surprised to find that my Grant of Arms is one of my favorites. I'd've listed it near the top, but nothing above being a Walker of the Way of the Outlands (it's a being-an-example-to-follow award, given only once per reign or less, since the dawn of the Outlands, when it was still a region. I got one after we were a kingdom). I'm the premier of my barony's arts award, and that's a nifty high-on-the-list item. Countess, Lady of the Rose, Viscountess & Lady of the Dove—I would give those up first because I didn't personally earn them. I did work as princess and queen, but I would've gotten the titles even without working and, frankly folks, both times it was a vacation compared to the jobs I'd been doing before. Without intending any disrespect to the noble gentleman who won tournaments in my honor and earned me those titles, I'm more proud of the pelican and laurel I earned through long and hard work. (Gunwaldt was there being my greatest support on much of the work for both of those, too, though, always helping me with mailings, autocrat support, helping me run the singing group, understood when a letter was so crucial it was worth staying up until 2:00 to get it written right and mailed out, etc.)

With my new theory about peerage being like professorship (it's back in this issue somewhere), maybe I consider being a Countess like having an honorary degree and it's fine but a tad embarrassing. Being a member of the order of the Laurel, though, is like being a music professor and that's more fun for me. (Maybe the Pelican is a School of Management teaching post. Hmmm.)

CHILDREN

AEDWARD OF GLASTONBURH (MERIDIES): It is natural to assume that those folk who are parents would have long since bestirred themselves to see to the welfare of our next generation of medievalists. Yet, it has been my experience that (and this seems typical of much of the management style of the SCA as practiced in my neck of the woods since A.S.XI) demand for a service had to be created in advance of the service being constructed to meet it. Put another way, programs for youth in our corner of the SCA have been conditioned upon the rise of a body of young ones whose somewhat aimless wandering at events demonstrated a need for such programs.

A youth service award (roughly analagous to an AoA) has been in place in Meridies for a number of years, and a Goslings Guild has waxed and waned for at least half a decade. (I need to state for the record that there have been individuals in the Kingdom whose work on behalf of children over the years has been of the highest quality, and whose devotion can scarcely be questioned). In fact, with the patronage of the current Crowns and the most active slate of activities in the history of Meridies, we seem to be in a golden age of awareness as to the needs and desires of our children. Our Royal University has spun off a component Grammar School, our Kingdom newsletter has a section set aside for young folks, and there have been some good-faith explorations of setting up nurseries at events.

As for trying to accommodate families financially, in addition to the Kingdom policy of structuring event fees around age (babes-in-arms free, and generally 12-and-under at half price), some local groups have further experimented with charging larger families no more than the equivalent of three adult fees to attend, with the remaining family costs being absorbed by the host group. This has been done in an attempt to foster and encourage the family environment and aspect of how we play the SCA in Meridies. We have also experimented with the idea of early feasts for children, though this idea is far from institutionalized.

AELFLAED OF DUCKFORD (OUTLANDS): I have two small children who are native Outlanders.  [10] It has been suggested to me over the years by various people that I should not take them to events, that they should not wander around and play as children are wont to do (supposed to do), that certain events are not "good events for kids," etc. I have heard people say of their own children or others' such things as "Of course kids don't have to be in costume" [WRONG] or "I brought plastic toys because that's all we had." (Would they bring plastic plates, forks and cups because that's all they had? No, they'd get something appropriate.)

My children have always been members, and they've always had costumes. There have been times when the site had cactus or rocks that they wore less-than-ideal shoes, but adults were doing the same and for the same reason. They've run around with toy swords covered with foam and duct tape, but adults were doing the same. The rules say "anyone" can attend, not just any adults, and so the rules about costume and behavior apply equally to grandparents and children. Yet I've seen children—and sometimes the children of autocrats, and of peers—running around in blatantly mundane clothing, with no hint of the medieval (Masters of the Universe pajamas come to mind, and crop-tops and dayglo beach shorts).

I somewhat disagree with super-specials for large families. When people have children they need to expect it to cost them in every area. On the other hand, my oldest who's just turned five has never eaten more than a handful of food at any feast, hardly uses the toilet (certainly diaper-babies don't), and has never received a prize that equalled the cost of his site fee. He's never destroyed anything. For the treasurers and autocrats among us, he's a cheapie. Locally, we've sometimes charged 50¢ per year of age for an event where adults are being charged $8 or $10. That way even tiny guys are charged something, and there's no sharp break making it worth arguing over or lying about somebody's birthday. A five-year-old is $2.50; a ten-year-old is $5. If your gate personnel hate it, it wouldn't be too surprising, but it also could give you some good stats on how many of what age attended, for future planning.

It has occasionally been my experience that those saying "there should be children's activities" really mean "I wish there weren't any children here—keep them isolated from me."

When a sufficient number of children come together, if they are provided with safe period toys, their unsupervised play will rival any other activity on site for authentic reproduction. Children playing jump rope, circle games, hide-and-seek, follow-the-leader, Robin Hood, or taking their toy swords into the bushes to find "bad guys"—all this beats the heck out of sitting at plastic folding tables, coloring photo–copied pictures of castles with Crayola crayons.  [11] The first is often seen as "nothing happening," and the second as organizational behavior to be rewarded. [This is quite like the argument concerning arts at "non-arts" events. What's the best way for children to re-create what period children might have been doing?]

When an event provides activities for children, that's admirable. When they don't, parents and children should be prepared to figure something out on their own. I've been collecting wooden and metal animals, cloth balls, beanbags, small period-style dishes, tiny wooden boxes, rattles, bells, simple musical instruments, various wooden toys from other cultures, napkin rings for stringing or stacking or rolling, since I knew I was going to have the first baby. I take them to nearly every event. Many have been lost or broken, but I've been prepared for that. I watch at garage sales, thrift shops and flea markets, for replacements. Other people have thoughtfully given my children some great period toys as gifts. When we've failed to take the basket of toys I've seen sticks, pine cones, napkins, benches, other children, people's puppies, daddy's gauntlets, etc. provide entertainment. Some of those are not the safest things on earth, true, but if you watch some real-life kids on a normal day in their own yards, you might see them doing things which seem dangerous. (Watch some real-life adults, anytime, anywhere.)

As to particulars mentioned by others, parents should take snacks so kids aren't hungry. Even at home, kids eat more often than adults, and hungry people are cranky people. Hungry kids are cranky people who have no idea why they're cranky. Adults should feed kids early and often.

I dislike the term "smalls" to refer to children. The word "children" is itself very old—so old and honorable in English that it maintains an ancient plural form going back to Anglo-Saxon days, seen now only in a few words like "brethren" and "oxen." "Child" is listed in the OED with 10th century examples. Please pass the word that "children" is one of the most medieval words we'll use all day, and "smalls" is right down there with "farspeaker" and "feast-O-crat" and "fire chariot" and other terms that make us seem goofy and ridiculous to outsiders (and to discriminating insiders).

NERISSA MERAUD DE LA FONTAINE (West): First of all, I am not a parent. But Eskalya, which was largely a collection of couples and singles when I got in in the late 70's, is now primarily families. There are standardly family rates for events (which usually assume two adults, one child, and everyone else is free). Our food-oriented autocrats almost always provide a snack table for those who either have forgotten to provide munchies for themselves or are busy running the length of the hall crashing into people's knees (no, I'm not talking about fighters) that they need continual refreshment. Feasts in general are being slated more toward 6-7 pm instead of the former 8-9 or later.

MY problem is not with children but with parents. Very few of them come to an event and expect to continue to be parents (watching over their young and providing for them) for even a small portion of the time. Most unload their gear and do not interact with their children at all (except at dinner, and then not always) until they gather them up to go home. I resent living in a day-care center; I don't think it should be necessary for me to discipline other people's children, but I don't appreciate being run down crossing the hall, not being able to hear conversation or entertainment over the sounds of shouting children, and having to remove items that do not belong to them from the hands of children who have not asked permission to touch (much less walk away with) someone else's property. Yes, we have a Page's group, and those who wish to participate seem to enjoy it. But Pages' training lasts for less than an hour at each event. We've tried the separate children's area, with the parents supposedly taking turns watching them so they all get a chance to enjoy the event but, more often than not, one of the adolescents ended up being babysitter, due to lack of participation. I would personally appreciate some cooperation on the part of parents and/or their households to keep the screaming, racing around the hall, the scattering of TMNT [12] memorabilia, and general lawlessness down to a dull roar. Providing period toys (tops, rag or straw dolls, yoyos, [13] wood blocks...), drawing or coloring pictures of castles and dragons, learning to play an ocarina or other simple musical instrument, playing appropriately period games, telling or listening to period (or period-esque) stories, learning/singing songs…any or all of these activities (if indulged in by parents with their children at events) would not only enhance the medieval atmosphere in general, but would provide our children with both the personal attention and the skills to feel like they belong in this world their parents like to live in. Children need to be included in our re-creation, not set free to entertain themselves while the adults pretend they don't exist. I, for one, would have a much better time at events.

(As a note, I am about to become an SCA aunt—the other female member of our small household is due to give birth in late August. I expect to indulge my "inclusion" theory with my new niece/nephew, and see how it works.)

[NOTE FROM AELFLAED: Nerissa wrote this after I'd written the one above, and without having seen mine, so although they seem like dialog, it's coincidence. Mistress Nerissa admits in her letter that this is based on things in her own area only, but I've heard similar complaints from other places. Sometimes I think the people just don't like kids, no matter how well behaved. Other times I've seen kids who are really hard to like. Some parents are smarter than others, and some have a lower tolerance for noisy activity (at home and away). When the parents are autocrats, and in peers' circles, and running tournaments, it sometimes happens that they are trusting in the fact that fifty adults know their kids well enough to call them by name and tell them to calm down if necessary. Some childless adults kind of enjoy or at least accept this, some resent it.

The dynamics of all this in a forest camping situation are worlds different than in a large hall with no side rooms and cold weather outside. Even adults can get testy in a too-crowded hall.

I've been childless and a parent both, and have long wanted to write something (maybe for C.A.) about children, not just one's own, but ideas for autocrats and friends and for toys and gifts for kids, and games, and costume patterns, and historical trivia. I have a file of notes. If I didn't have any kids, I would've done it by now, but if I didn't have any kids I would never have thought of it.]

AMADEA DA STRADA DRAGONESSA (Caid): [Amadea wrote without having seen Issue #2, so her comments do not follow on Melisande's, but are a different aspect of SCA children.] Here's a topic: SCA children—those who entered the SCA as toddlers (with their parents, of course) or those children whose parents were active members when they were born. I have noticed some interesting traits are peculiar to my boys or found commonly in SCA children. To Matthew and Brendan SCA garb is not "costumes" but tourney clothes that one has along with school clothes, Sunday clothes, and play clothes. Costumes are worn at Halloween and are of cowboys, spacemen or furry creatures. Teachers, of course, tell us the boys always have the most interesting stories to tell during share time. I make sure that the teachers know something of what we do so they are prepared for these stories. Speech pathologists say the boys have excellent vocabularies for their age. One puzzled therapist said she'd never heard a 3-yr.-old use the word "weapon" and know exactly what he was talking about.

The boys are very outgoing and seem to accept new situations and places with ease, making themselves at home almost anywhere.

My youngest has taken to introducing me as "My mom, the Baroness." I get a few puzzled looks but as he has an articulation problem most people think they misunderstood.

I think the SCA is good for children in that it is a good example of people who do things. Very few couch potatoes survive for long in the SCA. Even though most of us are out of school, we continue learning. We do personal research, attend local or kingdom sponsored seminars and practice skills or crafts to increase our own expertise. We learn new things and share what we learn with others.

Even though we have no close-by family, SCA friends have been a good substitute. Although as this kingdom has grown and lost that "Kingdom Family" feeling, it has been replaced with smaller groups. It's important for the boys to have someone they feel comfortable with and trust besides mom and dad. I am not sure what we would do without our SCA family.

AELFLAED OF DUCKFORD (Outlands): My kids say "SCA clothes" and "SCA costumes." If they see me or Gunwaldt dressed for a meeting and we didn't dress them they jump up and say "Where are you going? Are you going to the mountains?" The older, who just turned five, is getting good at knowing which toys and clothes will be good for SCA events and which won't. The last event we went to I put sweat pants on him, and he said "These aren't good medieval pants," and took them off and wanted a pair of green thermal underwear pants on instead. I didn't argue with him much. They looked pretty good with the costume. They always want belts, and they want them tied so the ends hang down.

WHAT ARE THOSE CHAINS REALLY ?

WILLIAM THE LUCKY (West): I lean toward Duke Artan's position. A peer is a peer whether or not he happens to be wearing the symbols of his peerage at the moment. If I am not wearing my chain, it doesn't not mean that I am (temporarily) not a knight. Nor does it mean that I am not currently in fealty to the Crown.

It may mean that I am fighting, and do not desire to get my neck injured by a sword tip catching in the chain. Or that I gave it to someone who was being knighted recently, and have not yet acquired a new one. Or it might mean that I am doing something where the chain would be in the way. Or it may mean that I left it in the van. Or it might even mean that I am wearing my Laurel or Pelican medallions and do not desire to "load up." (I have had friends suggest that they can tell when I am primed for trouble when they see me wearing all three bits of peerage neckwear at once. If so, it is mostly subconscious.)

This does not mean that symbols are not important. Wearing the symbol of a peerage (or any other order for that matter) is not necessary for someone to be a member. On the other hand, wearing the symbol of a peerage which one does not hold is not proper behavior (even in the absence of sumptuary laws). This usually flares up over white belts. Opinion is fairly clear that if you have a single belt which is white and which you wear with every outfit, you had better be a knight. On the other hand, if you have an outfit which has silver trim, and you make a belt of that trim as well, only the most fanatic (usually a non-fighter) will hassle you about it. Most opinions (in this kingdom) range between these two.

In sum, peerage comes from the Crown, not from the symbol. . .

[NOTE FROM AELFLAED: My own comments in Issue #2 must have been overly vague, because some of those who wrote responded as though there were people actually wearing things they didn't have the right to. I know of no such case anywhere, but was only speaking of having them stashed away in secret at home.]

As a slightly related side note, one of the peculiarities of fighting in the West is the number of knights who do not wear their white belts at practice. If someone is wearing one either a) it happens to be the belt which holds his body armor together, or b) he is newly knighted (most likely within the last six months). This is not a matter of trying to conceal anything from anyone—most everybody at practice knows who the good fighters are, even at a practice with three or four dozen fighters. It probably started out as an attempt to keep the belt clean, but by now it is something of a habit if not a tradition. To the point where some of our trainees are confused by expressions of surprise by travelers from elsewhere. (The way you see things around you is the way things always are and ever should be. Selah.)

GEOFFREY d'AYR (East): I have never HEARD of anyone in the East accumulating accoutrements of >any order, peerage or otherwise, in anticipation like a dowry chest! Out here the tradition has usually been that those near and dear to the intended victim commission or acquire the necessaries when the Crown warns them to make sure X is at such and so an event and "dressed up nice for once!" ….

What makes it feel like magic is the "ceremony" and the "symbols" and the assemblage of your new equals. And everyone deserves to feel that magic [as opposed to "field peerages" with no preparation, witnesses, or nice ceremony].

ENHANCING ARTS

MELISANDE DE BELVOIR (Atlantia): Simply, I would like to change the question—Why should the position of arts in the SCA be enhanced? Rare indeed was the artisan or civil servant in the real middle ages who was so ennobled as is the case in the SCA. Rulers were fighters, or paid for fighters. If authenticity is a goal to be sought, as I believe it is, then it is inappropriate to select a sovereign for artistic merit. Further the choice of a sovereign that way leads not only to the question of who should judge, but also of how one art can be judged against another. This problem is endemic in SCA arts competitions, and I am not convinced that arts competitions are a Good Thing under any circumstances.

MISTRESS NERISSA MERAUD DE LA FONTAINE (West): Your soapbox "Enhancing Arts" closely parallels my own. I have, in fact, an actual rant on the subject that is a part of my Corporate A&S manual. To me A&S IS the SCA, for without it we would be players without costumes, scenery, props, or even scripts. Ideally, the only formal competing for recognition that goes on should be on the field of honour, if re-creation is what we're doing. A&S officers activities would then be non-event classes/workshops, country fairs with things for sale, articles and papers printed in newsletters, and lots & lots of encouragement and acknowledgement. I would dearly love an SCA in which as a matter of course everyone took note of who was doing what as an artisan (and asked if necessary to locate the creator of a work) and made sure the appropriate persons were aware of these efforts. I would love to play Captain Picard and "make it so." But there are areas in which, if the competitions and the displays and the rest of the arts-specific behaviors vanished (as inappropriate to a re-creation atmosphere), artisans would languish for lack of recognition. It likely would not remain so forever, this is true, but I would hesitate to "banish" such behaviors outright all the same.

As a matter of record, many kingdoms are shifting their A&S emphasis to displays (rather than competitions) and activities like Laurel Prize Tourneys (wherein the Laurels examine works, talk to the artisans, and award those whose works particularly please them with small works of their own making). [14] The object seems to be exposure without someone literally "grading" your work. And the objections that many have to competitions are NOT philosophical at all, but simply that they do not like their work being judged and found less than perfect ("attitudes" among judges notwithstanding; that's another ball of wax entirely).

GYRTH OLDCASTLE (Atlantia): As a knight, I have received enough grief from non-fighters about the lack of "respect" they get to last a lifetime. The largest difference between the knights and laurel/pelicans is one of opportunity. Finding venues for fighting is not difficult. The Pelican universe has certain well-defined niches for its devotees: the seneschalate, other offices, autocratting events, etc., but these opportunities are less than for fighters. And there is no practically no niche for artists…except that there's an unlimited stage. Outside of performing artists, craftspeople must find their own arena and figure out how to "sign" their work gracefully and unobstrusively. That's why people like competitions. "Oh, whose is this?" As Viscountess Katlin points out, arts are everywhere. It's name tags that are missing.

In the East and Atlantia there are more Kingdom level arts awards recipients than any other award. Is this true in other kingdoms as well?

[from AElflaed: Do you mean more kingdoms arts awards than other kingdom-level awards, or than any other awards?

It seems every place I know about has more belted fighters than laurels, and more laurels than pelicans. I think it's partly because fighters really need other fighters so they try to get every warm body in armor; artists are a bit jealous of other artists, but since they primarily work as individuals, there's an unlimited opportunity; and pelicans pretty much have to get involved in the civil service, which is limited to the number of offices, events, publications and special projects in any given area.]

GEOFFREY d'AYR (East): Bravo Viscountess Katlin Savrasova! Yeah, what the Lady said!

For my part, let me say that I personally dislike "Arts Competitions" mostly based on personal experience, and tend to resent people being touted for arts awards on the grounds that they "scored so many points at X Arts Competition." (Well Lah-di-dah! Who judged them and do I respect that person's opinion?)

HOW IMPORTANT IS SCA MEMBERSHIP?

MISTRESS NERISSA MERAUD DE LA FONTAINE (WEST): Since there hasn't been a time when I haven't held an office, I've been card-carrying since I first started playing and figured out that there was a corporate membership to be had. But I would prefer to reward those who participate over those who pay dues, if that's the only criteria. I personally know folk who honestly can't afford memberships; there have been times when it was a tight situation for me. Re-creation is what we're here for, and while dues-paying folk keep the superstructure of the SCA together, without the participatory people (dues-paying or not) we wouldn't exist as a group. Besides, recognition of non-members for their efforts might make them feel more like they "belong," which may in turn encourage membership. [15]

ANONYMOUS: I disagree with anyone who feels paying for a membership should not be a requirement. The two (The SCA Inc. and "the Society") are not inseparable and since the SCA is a legal entity (a corporation) and since all SCA activity stems from that corporation and the corporation's ability to make the activities within the SCA "legal" then those who partake of the services (it can be argued that being associated with the SCA as a non paid participant has its direct and indirect benefits) then the person should pay for those benefits by being a paid member.

The SCA is a hobby (except for those few paid employees it has )   [16] and if you can't afford the SCA you should either get a more affordable hobby or reconsider your ability to have a hobby! [the writer describes the job held as a teen to earn money to be in the SCA, and maintain a membership] I am by no means rich now and can sympathize with anyone who has a limited income, but no one is forcing you to play to an extent greater than your ability to pay. The first thing on the shopping list should be a membership, and if one can't afford the $20 that person can't afford the SCA.

GEOFFREY d'AYR (East): Oy! You are both right. Cariadoc is right that many people pays their money and then sits back waitin' to be entertained. They may be fully paid up members-in-good-standing, but so what?

On the other hand, somebody who has done much work in service, fighting, or art and isn't a member does seem to show a lack of commitment to the structure. Now, Cariadoc is, mundanely, off in the Libertarian end of the political woods, and I think his response is colored to some degree by his innate distaste for Central Organization. You and I, AElflaed, having invested many years in BEING Central Bureaucrats, have a bias in that direction.

Cariadoc is right in much of what he says, and so are you, within your own belief structures. I think this is one of those questions like Papal Infallibility that depends on your own belief rather than a consensus of Right and Wrong.

[AElflaed's response: At least the three of us agree on Papal Infallibility, eh?]

JUSTIN DU COEUR (East): Okay, I'll preface my views by saying that I have always been a paid SCA member; I sent my $20 off to California the evening I joined, and have only lapsed occasionally and briefly due to procrastination.

That said, I strongly agree with Cariadoc and disagree with AElflaed. AElflaed seems to assume that membership is, in and of itself, important. Why? There is one and only one reason I can see to be an official member: part of your dues goes towards paying the insurance policy. That being the case, I generally encourage everyone who actually goes to events to pay their dues.

But that's it. There's nothing sacred about being a member. I consider it idiotic that the Corporation regards membership as so important that winner of Crown Tourney can be disqualified (after the fact) because his membership accidentally lapsed. It's not a moral imperative. It's part of being a Good Citizen, but it's a very minor part. The Laurel Kingdoms are not the same thing as the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc.; they're a good deal larger and a good deal more interesting. Let's not get so wrapped up in the mundanities that we forget why we're here.

AELFLAED OF DUCKFORD (Outlands): HEY! If you're not going to agree with me, be nice. (Even if you do agree with me, I guess you should be nice.)

"Idiotic" is too strong a word to use here. Kings are responsible for knowing what the corporate policies are and for knowing Corpora. The way and place that corporate policies and corpora changes are announced is in the newsletters and T.I. (half of your membership money is actually subscription money, and those subscriptions are subsidized with part of the other half). Same with officers. They need to know what changes or announcements are made at kingdom or corporate level. When you say "accidently" lapsed, what are you thinking? There was a case in your own kingdom years back of someone who was a member the month of the tournament and was not for the next ten months straight, and wouldn't have been if someone hadn't caught on. That's a heck of an accident. (Ask Bish for names and dates if you want them.)

Without insurance we couldn't use any national forest land, and probably couldn't use many state or city facilities, or scout camps. There are scattered places which still have facilities which don't require insurance. They're lucky. Insurance is probably less than $1 of your $20 (Hilary, correct me if I'm wrong).

Often when people express the opinion that the membership doesn't get them anything, it's only because they don't know what the membership gets them.

If a prospective member writes to the SCA and asks for information, it costs money to answer that letter, especially when they receive a newsletter (which they usually do) and it goes first class, in an envelope, along with a membership form, stock clerk order form, informational letter and map of the kingdoms. Your group benefits from this, because people who are smart enough to go to the library and use the Directory of Associations often make more productive members than those who were out bumming around and happened to pass by fighter practice.

When you write to the board of directors to complain about something (as many of ThinkWell's readers have done) or to compliment them on something (which many fewer of our readers have done), it costs money to copy your letter and mail it with the packet to the board members, to acknowledge its receipt, and to get a response to you and a copy into the file.

Having the board spread geographically over the Society rather than just from the West Kingdom costs a large amount of money in airfare and postage. I think they've gone too far now, having not a single member in the Bay Area, but I wasn't in on any of it so there it is. Do you think it's worth the savings to the corporation to limit board membership to people who can drive to the meetings? (I personally liked the practice of having three always near Milpitas and thereabout so those could provide crash space, transportation, etc. for the other four who flew in. It saved three airfares every time.)

If you call the steward or the registry with an emergency problem and you have to leave a message, the Society will pay for you to have your call returned. It's sometimes cheaper than paying for the mess that might ensue if you don't get quick official backup on whatever horrible thing might be worth calling about (and there are some doozies).

The Stock Clerk carries some really wonderful publications at cheapo rates. They ultimately pay for themselves, but the initial cost of printing something like the Known World Handbook comes out of general funds and is paid back. This keeps the things from being subscription-in-advance only. Over-runs on T.I. and C.A. being for sale later have really made a huge amount of internal information available to new members. (If you haven't seen the calendar, I'd like to say that it's worth more than they're charging. It is wonderful.)

The cost of membership pays for much more than insurance. You may have figured out some way to separate the kingdoms from the corporation in your mental model, but remove that official newsletter from the workings and how long would it last?


(The submittor credits the following as being taken from "Rushlight," the collected fables, anecdotes and sermons of Bulrush Magna. The author has given permission.)
CHIVALRY, COURTESY AND HONOR

The seeker asked, "I have heard people speak of Honor, Chivalry and Courtesy. What are these things and are they different things or are they only different names of one thing?"

And Bulrush Magna answered thusly:

"Yes and no. The three, the Code of Honor, of Chivalry, and of Courtesy are three aspects of Goodness and therefore are at heart the same. On the other hand, for the sake of clarity we give names to the different manifestations of Goodness in our world and therefore these three are different and distinct things."

The seeker said, "I do not understand."

And Bulrush Magna continued, "Also Honor, Chivalry, and Courtesy can be called, as I sometimes do, the Code of the Spirit, of the World. and of the Self or the Person. This means that each aspect applies to and is also directed to a different object and subject."

The seeker said, "I still do not understand."

Bulrush Magna spoke on saying, "The spirit is what is inside—one's dreams, standards and aspirations. The World is what surrounds us—the nature, kingdoms and issues of great import. The Personal, the Self, is concerned with the small things of the Spirit, the world and of the Self—all the little things that make a difference."

The seeker said, "I still. . ."

And Bulrush Magna replied, "Well then, let me tell you a story. A pouch is lost at a tournament. One woman organizes the populace into a search party, setting areas and creating teams so that the search will be done well and easily.

"Another woman, hearing the call, leaves her meal half-eaten to join the search.

"A third woman, alone and unseen, finds the pouch open and displaying its contents, two hundred dollars in tens and twenties. The woman's wain threw a rod on the journey to the tournament and she has no money to repair it.

"She snatches up the pouch and runs to the center of the encampment crying loudly as she goes, ‘I found it, I found it,' and returns it with joy to its owner, never thinking to take the money and hide the pouch.

"These three have displayed the essence of the three Codes: the first Chivalry, the second Courtesy, and the third Honor."


In what ways has the SCA affected your mundane life
for the better?
for the worse?

GWILYM MOORE DE MONTFORT (AN TIR): …by providing me with opportunities to test my management skills before using them in mundane settings where it will REALLY matter. The SCA has affected my mundane life better by letting me put "Regional Vice-President, SCA etc…" on my resumé. I have made many friendships I would not otherwise have had and people in the SCA tend to be more accepting of a stranger who is a member than not. The SCA has affected my mundane life for the worse by causing me to always look for a job with weekends off and I have delayed finishing my college education in order to hold offices in and for the SCA. WILLIAM THE LUCKY (WEST): Well, first off, I was introduced to the lady to whom I am now married by people who I met in the SCA. The chances that we would have met anyway are microscopic at best.

The biggest psychological change to my life starts from the fact that when I first encountered the Society I was painfully shy. As in, the largest group I could get up in front of and even get words out was three people I knew or one that I did not know. By now, I get up in front of hundreds and natter on. It is still not my favorite way to spend time, but at least it is possible. Which has certainly made my professional career a lot easier.

NERISSA MERAUD DE LA FONTAINE (West): Participation in the SCA has shown me the extent of my endurance (how many things can I do at once, how many offices can I effectively hold at one time, how many hours can I devote to medieval activities), the limits of my patience, and what exhaustion REALLY feels like. It has also helped me to learn how to say the "N" word (for non-pelicans types who may not understand, it's spelled "n o") [17] —though I still have relapses. After five years as local chatelaine, I'm able to speak about almost any aspect of the SCA and middle ages extemporaneously in front of groups of any size and any age without having to read from notes, do research ahead of time or be nervous. I can pack everything we need for a weekend event outdoors umpteen miles from anywhere in the back of the Saab and still be able to close the hatchback. My research skills are constantly improving, as are my letter-writing skills (to say nothing of my typing speed and proficiency with my software of choice). Essentially, I've developed and honed a lot of useful, practical skills (including some not-so-practical for the 1990's, like making bobbin lace). And without my SCA involvement, I would probably NOT have had either the experience or the interest to be running my own business as a dressmaker / textile artist / specialty pattern & fabric vendor.

Aedward of Glastonburh (Meridies):

  1. My parents have had the suspicion that I was certifiable confirmed.
  2. My non-SCA friends want to know "Why do you people work so hard to have a good time?" (This question was asked by a friend who had been seduced into attending the first coronation of Meridies, an event that had a lot of dedicated SCAers asking themselves much the same question).
  3. Without the SCA, I'd have never been given the opportunity to see how many thousands of creative ways I could contrive to answer the ubiquitous question, "Are you in a play?" (True story: while attending a large demo on the plaza in front of the state capitol in Nashville, TN, a group of SCA folk prepared to present a miracle play to the mundane audience. One of the audience asked "Are you in the SCA?" whereupon, without missing a beat, Duke John the Bearkiller deadpanned, "No, ma'am, we're in a play.")
  4. I've had numerous opportunities to total up the money put into this hobby over the last 15 years, and wonder why I didn't just save it and buy a defunct European Duchy instead.
  5. All of my life has been enriched by the people I have met in the Society, and by the Society's serving as a vehicle which challenged me to keep exploring my limits.
  6. In spite of the hassles, it's been a helluva lot of fun, and I have friends I have met through the SCA that I will have for life.
  7. All of the above.
All right, now let's see yours. . . . .

AELFLAED OF DUCKFORD (OUTLANDS): I have a better understanding of human behavior, interactions, management, etc. From autocratting, I can organize a birthday party like nobody's business.

  • I've learned about bulk mail,
  • non-profit corporations,
  • forest service policies,
  • city policies concerning parks and community centers
  • school demos
  • zoo money-making activities
  • I've learned calligraphy (and have made actual mundane money by it)
  • learned all about paste-up and printers, and have used that knowledge for many mundane projects
  • have learned to sew without patterns, and have designed mundane clothing for myself, including a maternity skirt I'd never seen anything like anywhere ever; without having made so many costumes I never would've tried it. make Halloween costumes for kids without even breathing hard
  • I saw places I never would have seen except that I went to an SCA event or meeting:
    • San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland
    • Phoenix and Tucson
    • Houston
    • Pennsylvania (various parts)
    • Washington D.C. (three times now, thanks to two Pennsics and a board meeting) Due to an extended break-down (engine rebuild) I've seen the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress (for day, after day, after day).
    • historical sites in Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky
Before I was in the SCA I'd only been places where I had relatives. I had never been east of the Mississippi. I had never been to Denver. I would never have gone to Salt Lake City, and I've been there a dozen times and done the amusement park and all the Mormon historical tourist stuff.

[Except for slight changes to make it make more sense, the above is as it was sent to Eowyn in April when I sent her back a copy of her own book of questions with my answers all over it.]

PLEASE NOTE that a couple of people's "worse" stories have been omitted (mine included) for reasons of space and uplift. Maybe later, if things get so funny we can use some ‘tragic relief.' Some have to do with divorce.

CALL FOR TRIVIA

ARE THERE MORE TRIPLE PEERS THAN THESE? (KSCA or MSCA, Pelican and Laurel) [additions since #2 are boldfaced]:

Raymond the Quiet Outlands
Stefan of the Wanderers Outlands
Steffen de Loraine West
Hilary of Serendip West
William the Lucky West
Lars the Fierce Calontir
Trude Lacklandia West Laurel/Aten other
Henrik of Havn West
Siegfried von Hoflichskeit West
Robert of Dunharrow West
Jon FitzRolf West
James Greyhelm West
Elriin of Hrassvelg West
Khaalid al-Jarad West
Edward of Gendy An Tir K&L/East

My error—sorry—I have been informed that Mistress Leah de Spencer, Atenveldt, whom I listed in Issue #2, is a double peer: pelican and knight. *oops* (Sorry, Your Excellency.)

WHO HAS RULED MORE THAN ONE KINGDOM? [additions since #2 are boldfaced]:

Christopher of Hoghton
(the only ruler of three)
West/Atenveldt/Outlands
Cariadoc East/Middle
Finnvarr East/Middle
Gyrth Oldcastle East/Atlantia
Melisande de Belvoir East/Atlantia
Frederick of Holland East/West
Lyn Whitewolf Atenveldt/Caid
Jonathan de Laurfson Atenveldt/Ansteorra
Willow de Wisp Atenveldt/Ansteorra
Albert von Dreckenveldt Middle/Atenveldt
Selene of the Sky Middle/Atenveldt
Aaron Brek Gordon Meridies/Trimaris
Branwyn Meridies/Trimaris
Verron Meridies/Trimaris
Ronald West/East
Michael of Bedford East/Atlantia
Carissa of Burgundy East/Atlantia
Bertrand de Flammepoing East/Atlantia

Artan, I can't find the notes
I took when you gave me more by phone.
Oh darn; you need to write me a letter.


IS THERE ANYONE WHO HAS BEEN KING and PRINCIPAL HERALD
(not at the same time)
BESIDES THE FOLLOWING TWO?

Gyrth Oldcastle
Frederick of Holland


COMING IN THINKWELL #4

New Topic from Justin du Coeur:
"Peerage vs. The Peerage Orders"
If peers are someone set up as role models, should there be the opportunity for peerage (i.e. patent of arms) other than through one of the existing orders of peerage? Read his arguments and questions in detail as soon as I have room.

Next issue will also include parts of letters I already have, since I had to quit somewhere.

THINKWELL TRIVIA

As of July 31, ThinkWell has 40 subscribers, in twelve different kingdoms. The breakdown is: West 4, East 4, Middle 2, Atenveldt 1, Meridies 3, Caid 3, Ansteorra 1, Atlantia 2, An Tir 2, Calontir 1, Trimaris 1, Outlands 16 (11 from my own barony, which I find flattering since not even all the local pelicans have seen ThinkWell yet).

Mark Waks (Justin du Coeur, of the East Kingdom) put a notice over the Rialto computer net, for which I'm grateful, and which got me two new subscribers within the first week.

I've been notified that after I have three issues to show I can get a free mention in T.I., so the range of responses should broaden in another few issues. If you're reading and you haven't written yet, don't let me rush you (unless you weren't doing anything better anyway, and in that case what are you waiting for?)

I might break even by the next issue, and if I get ahead I'll send out more freebies. If you have people to recommend for a potential future free-sample list, please send names and addresses. Thanks!

CORRECTION
from Duchess Melisande

One small correction on the Trivial Pursuit-ish questions I sent you—the original was designed by Duchess Ysabeau along with Duke Gyrth Oldcastle of Ravenspur and me. Gyrth and I revised it. It should be noted, by the way, that the answer to "Can you eat eggs and milk on days of abstinence?" is "It depends."

THANK YOU from AElflaed

I hope you're having fun with this publication. I'm having so much fun personally I'm nearly feeling guilty about it! I've been to SCA classes on all sorts of subjects but I think I'm learning more from this than I've ever learned in one place before.

PLEASE SEND ME NAMES AND ADDRESSES OF PEOPLE YOU WISH WERE CONTRIBUTING TO THIS WHO AREN'T, AND I'LL PASS ON THE REQUEST.

EDITORIAL NOTE:

I won't use double titles (Duke Sir, Master Sir, etc.) so if you wrote one and it disappeared, I got it.

I'm taking capitals off lots of things, so if you'd noticed your spelling changed to only that extent, it's because over the years I've decided that capitalizing "King" in passing references is no good (and I used to capitalize pronouns for royalty, but I've left that for particular gods I think might be reading, or for formal letters to kings). I've been inconsistent on "laurel" and "pelican." I'm more likely to capitalize them than "knight," which is not an adopted and ambiguous term but means what it means (not a tree, and not a bird, but a knight). Western letters seem no more likely to capitalize "King" than Eastern, by the way, and I pulled it out of both.

I know that in good old period days spelling was variable and Anglo-Saxon, being of the Germanic persuasion, was more likely to have capitals on words than modern, Frenchified English.

Most of you didn't notice, and most of the rest don't even care, but there are four or five of you…

In This Issue:

HOW I MANAGED TO REIGN THREE TIMES AND STILL AVOIDED BECOMING A DUKE (Sir William the Lucky)

KINGDOM DIFFERENCES & REGIONAL TRAITS

GEOGRAPHICAL FACTORS

SCRIBAL BACKLOG

NERISSA MERAUD DE LA FONTAINE

ETHNOCENTRICITY

GUNS & KNIVES

CAMPAIGNING FOR PEERAGE

RELATIONSHIP OF KNIGHT TO SQUIRE

HONOUR and CHIVALRY

GYRTH OLDCASTLE

PEER FEAR

BECOMING A PEER

AEDWARD OF GLASTONBURH

CHILDREN

WHAT ARE THOSE CHAINS REALLY ?

ENHANCING ARTS

HOW IMPORTANT IS SCA MEMBERSHIP?

CHIVALRY, COURTESY AND HONOR

In what ways has the SCA affected your mundane life for the better? for the worse?

TRIPLE PEERS

WHO HAS RULED MORE THAN ONE KINGDOM?

KING and PRINCIPAL HERALD


Copyright © Sandra Dodd 1991, 2006


Notes   
and missives: