Sandra Dodd

This morning I used an example about a friend not knowing that the
women's movement did her any good.
Separately, I found out this morning that a friend of mine died

I keep obituary pages for SCA folk who have passed away, so this
friend of mine is at the top of the list here:

And in making a page to keep photos and notes on, I looked around this
afternoon for what had been posted. There was a recent photo, and an
older one.

The second photo on this page has Karen, the one who needed to write
an essay in the late 1980's. She's the third woman standing--the
tallest one, in white with a white veil.

The dark-haired man with the chain mail is my friend Jeff. I mention
him sometimes. Karen was his girlfriend in those days.

The man kneeling in steel and leather armor is Leif (Bill Hammond),
who died yesterday in an accident at a power plant where he worked in

He was being knighted. The night before, I had been at Leif's vigil.
I had known him for years, and the vigil was in a tent I had made. In
that discussion with him that evening, and in a story I've told many
times in the SCA and to unschoolers, I came up with the "make the
better choice" idea that's helped me and others in those 23 years.
Leif was saying that he was worried about being a knight, but not
having a really medieval-looking camp. The two of us were sitting by
candlelight, in that tent I had made, which was well furnished. I
told him that our gear (mine and Keith's, and Steve's, and Marks--some
other friends he had specified as having nice camps) were always
evolving--that as we found better furniture or dishes or lanterns, we
replaced the less impressive bits. I said if he was going to buy a
tent and his only choices were canvas or nylon, to choose canvas. If
he had decided on canvas and his choices were orange or brown, choose
brown. And incrementally his camp would get better, if he always
made the more medieval choice.

Kirby was eight months old at the time of that event. I was going to
La Leche League, and Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings, and
learning to be a mom.

After years of using the "better choice" tool in the SCA and at home,
I mentioned that idea in a talk I gave in Sacramento in August 2002, I
told that story and recommended that if a mom's two choices were to
hit or to yell, choose "yell." And the next time, yell or speak more
quietly. And the *next* time... Think of two choices, and make the
better choice.

In the photo, the man being touched on the head with a spear (I don't
remember why they didn't use the sword) was Leif. That was within
twelve hours of the "make the better choice" night.

Sometimes ideas can be documented. But I didn't set out to document
it. Leif died yesterday, and a photo brought forth by another friend
includes Karen who wrote about the Women's Movement.

When Kirby was a toddler, we were at a medieval event in Colorado.
Kirby tripped over a twine divider, with stakes and with twine about
six inches off the ground, marking where they were going to put a
larger fence for the tourney field. I helped Kirby up and knelt down
and showed him the string he had tripped on, and showed him where it
was, and why it was there. Leif was standing nearby and heard the
whole thing. He came and told me I was a really good mom and he was
impressed at how I was with Kirby. Then he got tears in his eyes and
told me for the first time that he had gotten a girlfriend pregnant
when they were teens (I think he was 30 or so at the time he was
telling it), and he had never met the baby.

That's part of what gave me the deep knowledge that if one of my boys
got a girl pregnant, he would still be a father but might not
necessarily be able to be a good father, no matter how much he might
want to be there. That idea was discussed recently too, on this list
or in a chat, but I didn't mention Leif's tears and confession of
thinking of his unknown daughter when he saw others with their children.

I didn't expect all those things to tie in as they have with recent
discussions, and that photo. I think it's evidence that that living
a rich life with the expectation that sharing ideas will help people
in unpredictable ways will create and maintain a flow of benefit that
goes beyond the person, and beyond the family, into the larger world.


(here's an intermediate riff on the choice making: 1998 )