Monday, April 4, 2011


As spring arrives, life gets busy.
I love this time of year. The new growth, the warmer weather (ahem...hear that Spring, you are supposed to bring warmer weather), the birds and frogs singing, the wasps and bees buzzing, the flowers blooming, the longer amounts of all energizes me. Gone is the lethargy that winter brings with it and the laziness of hot summer days hasn't set in yet (though I love summer the best).

Also energizing are the thunderstorms that roll across the sky.
Last night was the first bit thunderstorm of the spring season. There was wind, there was rain, there was thunder and lightning, there was even a bit of hail. I had run out to lock the gate here at the nature center, hoping to beat the rain. Right as I was getting back to my door I heard this awful racket, which was the hail hitting the tin roof of the barn across the parking lot from me. was loud.

I love not having to wear gloves, and a hat, and a scarf, and three layers of clothes, and a coat, and still I am cold.

I LOVED the 85 degrees yesterday and shake my head in disbelief when people complain about the heat. I despise being cold so much. I cannot fathom, and I try, disliking 85 degrees, the light sweat, the feeling of complete and utter warmth throughout, how breezes refresh.

I think some people must just be more comfortable with an absence of heat, and thus tolerate and even (gasp!) enjoy cold, while others like me, are only comfortable when there is an absence of cold, and thus tolerate and even (and here you are probably gasping) revel in hot weather. I have encountered more people who are the former than are the later.

This time of year is also when our senior students reach the pinnacle of their college career - they are finishing their senior research, they are getting jobs and acceptances to med-school, grad-school, vet-school, dental-school...and I am so proud of them .

Time to face this cool but wonderful spring day. It's funny, but I had intended this post to be a rather quick one, saying I am busy and my camera is dead (or at least really sick) so I don't have much interesting to post. And while interest may still be lacking, I guess I had something to say after all.

Have a wonderful, glorious day.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

SCA Garb

Blue woolen cote-harde with trimming and tippiting in process. This one is almost completely done.

Fabric for light blue Norman style dress. The coral is to be the underdress, though it is more orange than I thought it would be. The purple may be the lining for the long sleeves of the over dress. Not 100% sure of the color combination. What do you think?

The Purple Pavilion

I learned this past week that at foreign wars Calontir puts up the Purple Pavilions, which houses the royal thrones. It also becomes the living room of the kingdom. A place where people can gather and hang out. It's the location of where the Army waits to march to battle. Singing and storytelling are population pastimes in the purple pavilion, as is just general tom-foolery.People bring their chairs and put them in a big circle, but, other than the royal thrones, anyone is welcome to sit in any chair.

I wanted to get to know as many people in the kingdom as possible on this trip, and thus I spent a lot of time just hanging around the Calontir living room, working on projects, passing around water and pickles before battles, drinking, laughing, and having just a generally good time. No one questioned my right to be there as a new person to the group, they just accepted me in. I had several moments in the purple pavilion where I truly felt like I had come home.

My favorite moment in the purple pavilion was when someone was given a toy cross-bow that shot marshmallows, and she accidentally shot the Queen (names have been removed to protect the innocent and guilty alike, but no it wasn't me). The Queen quickly took control of the crossbow and began shooting around the Pavilion. It was so much fun!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I went to war and fell in love

This past week for spring break, I went to my first SCA "war". It was a week-long event at a campsite near Lumberton, Mississippi. Though to call it a campsite is a bit of a misnomer, as it was more like a good size village that popped up at this site - complete with battlefields, merchants, food vendors, a inn, an archery field, a dance hall and much much more.

I don't have a lot of time to write at the moment to get my thoughts and memories down on on "paper", but I plan to post throughout the week as I digest all that happened this past week. It was a more amazing experience than I expected, and that is saying something as I had heard wonderful stories about our Kingdom of Calontir at war (for my non-SCA friends and family, Calontir covers MO, KS, NE, IA, and a little itty-bitty bit of AR).

And I did fall in love - not with a single person, but with my kingdom of Calontir. Thank you to everyone for being so welcoming and accepting me as part of the group. Thank you also for making my first SCA war a terrific experience. I really look forward to hanging out with you all at future events.


Friday, March 11, 2011

How to fail at felting a hat

(1) Wash the load of towels in which you were going to felt said hat in cold water instead of hot.
(2) Neglect to actually PUT the hat in the washing machine with the towels.

Some days are just like that I guess. I was so excited to see how the hat felted I woke up at 4:00 (I went back to sleep for an hour before actually getting up). Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed.

The hat is now in the washing machine with the towels on hot water. Now I am waiting again.

For the record, this hat is the latest installment in both the Acorn Hat AND 100 hats project.

I am counting this hat as number 6 (disregard the previously numbered 6, it will get numbered when it get finished).

The purple acorn hat is number 4.

The light green acorn is number 5 (and aren't the broken washer and dryer in the front yard so classy!).

I am counting my red medieval hood as number 7, by the way, though not technically a hat AND I started it in 2010, it is head wear and it I did finish it in 2011, and it is my project. 

Isn't that washing machine done yet?

Friday, March 4, 2011


Whew, the first few days of March speed by at lightening speed. Here are some high-lights
(1) My pile of fabric for SCA garb got larger (and I now have more than this thanks to Mea). I still don't have enough clothes for Gulf War. Thankfully, tomorrow I am heading out to Hanne's place for a weekend trying on clothes and sewing. 

(2) I caught two of the mice who have been keeping me up at night and leaving me presents that I didn't want. We now have a happy snake at school who had a nice meal of fresh mice for the first time in his life. 

(3) Bubo the owl has moved into my office and is helping me get and keep things organized. Granted it is a slow process.
(4) I taught a knitting class for the Barony of Forgotten Sea. The project was a felted hat, referred to as the Acorn Hat. Here is the purple version, which is a lovely hat, but not quite how they wore them in the portraits in the 15th century. It's a little big.
 This little green version is more inline with the period sources I have seen (sorry I don't have links to them. Maybe later I can get those up)

I also had a great week in my classes. My students have been inspiring, my colleague fun, and I have gotten a lot done. It feels so good to be rid of the vertigo, I even did a Happy Dance yesterday, just for the joy of it.

New Trim for my Blue Dress

Thanks to my friend Briana, I have some beautiful new trim for my blue wool SCA dress. This dress is certainly a testament to the kindness and generosity of the wonderful people I have meet in the SCA.

The trim is GORGEOUS and the colors are so beautiful against the blue wool of the dress. I love how the pattern looks like little sunflowers, as my device will very likely include the sunflower imagine on it.

Thanks again Briana - I can't wait to get the dress trimmed out.

This was one of the things that lead to me doing the happy dance yesterday.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My new Owl pal

I found this adorable little owl at Target and he had to come home with me. He is living on my desk and he is my reminder to keep my desk (and hopefully the rest of my office soon) neat and tidy. He likes a nice tidy nest and will only stick around if I keep it that way.

Here he is on top of my sticker box.

Anyway, I think he needs a name - but I am terrible at naming things, probably a good thing I don't have children, I wouldn't know what to name them. So I am turning to my friends for suggestion. What should my new owl pal be called?

Yes, I know I am an adult and this is rather childish - but hey whatever works right? And yes, I put stickers on my college students' papers and yes if you are having a bad day and need a sticker, you can come by and get one.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

And Hello March

The first day of March has been a good day. In like a lamb. Finally was able to get out on the trials for a short walk. Photos to come shortly.

I have caught two of the mice whose scamperings have been keeping me up all night. Tomorrow they become snake snacks.

All for now.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Goodbye to February

Goodbye February. I must say I am not sorry to see you go. Between snow, vertigo, and cold, this February has been a down period for me. Though there have been high points at well, and I am trying to focus on the positive so we shall talk about those.

(1) My upper level ecology class is really gelling as a group - it's a great group of students and I am so happy to be teaching them.

(2) The crew out at the Nature Sanctuary where I live have been wonderful in keeping my drive and sidewalk snow free.

(3) Yesterday was really cool - the ground still covered in snow, making the lightening from the thunderstorm seem 3x as brilliant.

(4) Nathan bringing me a wing-back chair from the theater department so I can sit with my head resting in my office while having vertigo.

(5) Archery Started Back Up. WOOOOO HOOOOO!!! This makes me so so happy.

(6) Anne picking me up and taking me home from work when vertigo kept me from driving.

(7) My colleague Paul - got me lunch, helped me find the live traps to trap the mice, offered me rides when I needed them.

(8) A successful first Arts and Sciences meeting at my house for SCA.

(9) Family who love me.

(10) Middle Eastern Dance Class

(11) The most beautiful sunset tonight - omg the colors were GORGEOUS

(12) Janelle - who brought me candy for Valentine's Day and let me hang out with her over the weekend

(13) Mea and Don - who came over for sewing one night when I had vertigo and made me dinner.

(14) Mea - who always can save my sewing mistakes. So far anyway.

(15) Seeing possums in my yard

(16) Having facebook friends who will chat with me when I am lonely.

(17) My grad school friends who do the same

(18) Chocolate Ice Cream

(19) Peace and quiet and no one to get angry if I leave wet towels on the floor or put the eggs on the wrong shelf in the frig.

(20) Seeing my SCA friends at the Clothier's Event

(21) Learning cool and amazing things at Clothier's

(25) Don - who helped me out when my Radiator busted.

(26) A surprise email from an old friend.

(27) Being able to go to the store tonight and run errands. I feel like a real human being again!

 (28) The promise of spring seen in the swelling of the buds on the red maple trees.

So see - that averages out to one good thing a day. Spring is around the corner. Life is good, and I think it is about to get better.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dead Nettle (Laminum purpureum)

There has a been a distinct lack of plant talk on this blog. Time to fix that. Like most of us, I am desperately waiting for spring to come. More so today, as I am looking over the 6 inches or so of snow we got yesterday. It is a very pretty snow, being the first wet, sticky snow we have had. All of the tress and such are encrusted with the snow. I'll try to get some photos of that later. 

As I am longing for spring, I thought I would post about this cute little flower - the dead nettle (Lamium purpureum). Now if you are one of those people who worship in the cult of the lawn, and prefer the boring monoculture of a single grass species in a vain attempt to mimic a golf course, this plant is probably right up there for you with dandelions as a hated plant.*
But for me - I love this little plant. With it's cordate (heart-shaped) leaves and it's little lavender colored flowers that peak through the awnings created by the leaves. For those of us in the Midwest US, tt is one of the earlier blooming flowers in your yard, along with its sister henbit  (Lamium amplexicaule). Henbit has darker green, rounder leaves with deeper purple flowers. Sometimes you will see, early in the spring, a crop field that is covered in purple. It is these guys that are responsible for that effect. 
Both species are members of the Mint Family (Lamiaceae). Like all members of the mint family, they have zygomorphic flowers (i.e. bilateral symmetry), square stems, and opposite leaves. These two species are unusual in that they lack any strong odor like most members of the mint family. Many of our favorite herbs are in the mint family: oregano, basil, thyme marjarom, and of course peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint and all the other mints. 

Below is a little montage of photos I took a couple of years ago of Dead Nettle.

* I have very strong opinions about the waste of resources (especially water) and the amount of poisons that are put into lawns to create something completely artificial. Is it really worth poisoning the environment to have a monoculture of grass? And why is it that the monoculture of grass is the ideal for a yard? Why do we have this cult of lawn in America?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Mongols are coming! The Mongols are coming!

Well, they came and went.

About a month ago now, I went to an SCA event called  Mongol Invasion. It was a small event, but fun as it included indoor Archery, the first Archery I had shot at an event since Toys for Tots back in November. As a bonus I got see my friend Angie from college, who happened to live about 4 blocks from the event site. She was very generous in letting Leif, Truetvin, and I invade her house and stay her a couple of nights. She was a gracious hostess and made the most wonderful breakfast and dinner. She ended up coming to the event with her two boys and I hope they had a good time.

Leif was very kind in teaching the boys how to shoot.

As I mentioned above, the archery was indoors and we had to use blunts on our arrows to hit knock down targets from about 20 yards, maybe it was 15 yards I don't remember.

It was the first time I shot my bow in competition. I did not, however shoot my new arrows. Apparently knock down targets are harder on arrows than normal targets. I also finally got a some pictures of my blue dress.

There was also a incident with my blunts getting lost (yeah, I had put them in my purse for safe-keeping but I maintain they were in a different dimensional plane when I looked there for them), but thankfully there were a lot of great people there who let me borrow arrows.

I shot pretty well, for someone who only picked up a bow for the first time back in July. In most of the rounds, whoever shot there targets down first won. I would hit the first couple and then get nervous and lose focus, so I need to work on speed rounds and focusing.

All in all it was a fun day and I meet a lot of new wonderful people. I am especially thankful to Thomas, who when picking teams picked me first, which was a relief as I was certain, being the least experienced archer there, I would be the last kid on the playground.

Thanks to the Shire of Oakheart for sponsoring such a fun event. Can't wait for the archery events to start up in earnest. Leif, not surprisingly, won, though he had some tough competition.

Below are some other random images from the day.