An August Update

It’s going to be a busy rest of the month. But, let’s start with a bit of catch up on July’s progress.

I finished the super secret project, a Tang inspired award scroll. I hope you enjoyed the progress photos and reading about my process.

In the same court in which that scroll was presented, I was honored with two awards, the Sovereign’s Order of Excellence and the Order of the Maunche. You can watch that portion of court at timestamp 44:22 of this video on the East Kingdom’s YouTube channel.

1000 Tanka – Current count is 816. There are just under 3 months left. I’m writing two poems per day, and I’ll need to write at least 3 for 20 or so of the remaining 84 days to hit the mark.

Awakened from sleep By a sudden hard downpour Rain against shutters

Interrupted dreams fading As the storm batters my mind

Language – I had been using two programs, but this past month I mostly used Duolingo. I need to get back to using Rosetta Stone daily as well. Also received some advice on getting practice with a native speaker, though I don’t feel ready for that yet.

Consort’s Champion – The Sovereign’s Champion and I have decided to start a series of bi-monthly Facebook posts, Meet the Artist Mondays, to spotlight Artisans of the East. That link will take you to the first post. In the next few weeks, we’ll get a wiki page set up for the series so that those who do not use Facebook can also read the posts.

Coming up:

Travelling Outfit 2.0 – The project is coming out of time out and I’m going to race to finish it. This will mean fixing the sleeves of the hitoe, making the red kake-obi, and creating a kosode. I’m racing because I will need it for an event next month. Also, I’ve discovered through the book that I acquired that the kosode’s length should be about a foot past floor length. (It’s tucked up for wear/walking) I do not have the yardage for that, so that will be another little thing that isn’t quite right with the outfit, but it will be as close as I can make it.

I have two events this month, and one next – in person events. At Bjorn’s Retreat on the 14th I’ll have the great privilege of standing in court as Champion for the first time. And then on the 28th, Coronation. And for September, Harper’s Retreat where I have volunteered to teach two classes, Introduction to Japanese Women’s Clothing (working title) and Pilgrimage and Power – The Travelling Outfit. I’ll be working on those handouts for the next few weeks. I’ll also be attending a virtual event in September, Falling Leaves, where I’ll display my finished kosode.

Now it’s time to get to work, there’s a lot to do!

Struggling

Content Warning: Discussions of mental health.

In the information on my splash page I state, “I fight anxiety and other challenges.” Right now those other challenges, and the anxiety, have me struggling. And it’s all been a little too much. My projects are suffering. I’m suffering. And I’m entirely overwhelmed.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still doing things. But it feels like dragging myself through mud filled with broken glass. I’m slowed to a painful pace in everything I do. And everything takes so much more energy than it should.

I’m going to have to let as many projects as I can sit idle for a while, though not many can.

Saishi – The first is my Japanese Hair Accessory class. I’ve postponed the class for a few months. I’d like to get some more research done before I feel comfortable speaking to actual people on the subject.

Bardic War is entirely done. Which is a huge relief. Unfortunately the recording of the Original Poetry warpoint seems to have disappeared from Facebook. I did record my portion, just in case though. More on that in the next section. The best news is that the East/Atlantia alliance won the war!

Laurels’ Challenges are essentially done. Helping to set up pages for entrants was fairly quick and easy. I will need to meet with each of the Laurels for the challenges I entered in about a week. You can find my entries here. The recording of my performance for Bardic War is also available on that page.

Consort’s Champion of A&S – I have a discussion later this week with the Consort’s Bardic Champion for a potential joint initiative.

1000 Tanka – not a project I can stop, nor do I want to. Writing poems is often very cathartic for me. They serve as an outlet for my emotions and creativity. I find writing them helpful for my mental health. So this stays. Current count is 626.

The writing desk sits Patiently waiting for me To pick up my brush

There are more poems to write, Another story to tell

Samurai Training – this is also something I will not be giving up. Physical health is vital to mental health. I’m still struggling with my injury, but I get stronger every day.

Language – it seems that I’ve moved to a Monday through Friday schedule for this. Unit 3 milestone today and then off into unit 4.

This blog. Not something I want to give up. I may not get the posts up exactly when I want to, but they will go up.

Secret Project – I have one secret project that I can not put down that is the source of a lot of my stress. I talked it through with a wonderful friend this morning and have a clear plan for my next few steps. But this project tests the limits of my skill and that has had me paralyzed with fear for over a month.

Listing it out you may not wonder why I’m still so overwhelmed. Perhaps it has something to do with not being willing to make some projects idle? But there are also things on my plate that are not SCA/Heian related projects. I have responsibilities to my family that can not be put down. There’s also still a pandemic going on. And I’m still reeling, months later, from both the death of my companion parrot and the loss of my job. Both have me in tears daily. I wish I was exaggerating.

So, yeah, I’m struggling. And I’m still doing my best.

It Feels Good to Finish

I get to mark a few things off the list this week starting with Bardic War.

Bardic War – My live performance of Original Poetry is complete. I have no idea if I’ll ever know how I scored, but I’m proud of the job I did. It hasn’t been posted to YouTube yet, but it can be seen on Facebook. My performance is at minute 33. The A&S warpoint will go live on YouTube later this week. I’ll post its link when it’s available.

Laurels’ Challenge – Officially done with the entrant part.* I entered into (1)The Planning Stages – for this I created a document explaining how I planned my travelling outfit complete with pictures of my first longhand notes. (2)Stretch That Comfort Zone – for this I created a small write up of how I planned for the performance and how I felt before and after. (3) Solo Performance/Bardic War Performance – this one required that I share a bit about the process and a performance. (4) Period Poetry – for this one I submitted a brief description of my inspiration for the 3 poems that I wrote for my performance:

Delicate branches Exploding in pink blossoms Brighten the garden

One wonders what Spring whispered To prompt such a sudden blush 

***

One hesitant bloom Unnoticed amongst the rest Waits, undecided

It knows Spring can be fickle And tomorrow might be cold

***

The occasional Chill of early Spring will be Forgotten quickly

The gardener is patient As he goes about his work

Once the website goes live I’ll include a link.

1000 Tanka – Current count: 600.

Language – I’ve learned how to say a thing is clean or dirty, whether something smells good or bad and I know that feet are called ashi.

Samurai Training – Definite progress! I’ve been upgraded in the difficulty of my physio exercises.

Consort’s Champion – the official handoff of regalia is complete. I know that we had already done our recording, but we appeared “in court” at the recording session this week. I actually wore my regalia, a sash and a collar of office during my Bardic War performance. His Majesty Alberic praised me for the job I’ve been doing so far as Champion in waiting (Poetry Month Challenge). There were a lot of big feelings. This will be in the June 13th court. And now back to that * I put on Laurels’ Challenge. Being Champion makes me a Kingdom level A&S officer. As such, I have the privilege of helping the Ministry of A&S when called upon. My first bit of helping will be setting up webpages for a number of entrants to Laurels’ Challenge. It’s going to be fun work because I’ll get to see a few of them before anyone else.

Momentum

I hope the bit of momentum I have after completing a couple of things can carry me through and help me finish a bit more.

Travelling Outfit 2.0 – I finished the new sleeves on the asetori. I may take a pause on this project for a little while.

Consort’s Champion – I met with the outgoing champion and received the regalia. My partner filmed the handover, and then edited it with some music. I think it’s magical. It’s been given to the webminister. I’ll post a link to the court it’s used in when it goes live in June. It was very surreal to do something in garb with another person.

Bardic War – My documentation and entry video have been submitted for the A&S war point. I’ll post a link to the YouTube video after it airs with timestamps. For the Original Poetry performance, I recorded a full dress (except glasses) performance and had people review it. The overwhelming response was to increase the pause between my verbal documentation and the poems, and between the tanka themselves. I was more critical than the people I asked for review. This will be a live performance streamed live on YouTube on the Bardic War channel. Original Poetry is slated to start at 9am this Sunday the 16th of May and run to approximately Noon. I do not have any idea where I will be in the order.

Laurels’ Challenge – I need to continue to fill out the document I’ve started for the planning challenge and create a framework post for the stretch your boundaries one to be filled out with final thoughts after the performance. I’ll need to read over what kind of information is wanted for the bardic performance and original poetry challenges. 4 challenges may seem like a lot, but 3 of them center around my the three poems I wrote for the Original Poetry warpoint for Bardic War, so it doesn’t feel like a lot.

Language – Slow and steady wins the race.

Samurai Training – I think I’m getting better. I’ve been able to accomplish all of my exercises staying in the “sore” range of sensation. More professional help tomorrow.

1000 Tanka – Current count is 581.

The rhythmic tapping Of the handle of my brush On the writing desk

Words marching to my heartbeat Advance across the paper

Responsibility

All hobby progress stops for mundane needs. It has to be that way. There were things I just didn’t get to this week.

Samurai Training – My age is playing a larger factor than I thought it might, I guess. I get injured more easily and sleeping wrong put my shoulder out of commission for days. But I say this not for sympathy, just to acknowledge that it will be harder now than it would have been 12 years ago when I first authorized to fight. And that’s ok. It’s going to take time to get into the kind of shape I have to be in to fight heavy list in the SCA. And even if I discover it’s not really for me, I’d prefer to get into shape now and stay that way. I’m not getting any younger, but being in good condition will help me live better and longer. Currently I have an hour of exercises of physical therapy, a two mile walk and a light calisthenics routine every day. I’ll probably add yoga back in soon.

Consort’s Champion – The Poetry Month Challenge is now complete. There were 62 participants who wrote more than 450 poems. There were 7 people who wrote to each of the 30 prompts and a couple more who only missed one or two. I’m very impressed. I also created an East Kingdom wiki page so the poems could be easily found and read. The page just provides links to the individual Facebook posts, though a Facebook account is not needed to click on the link and read the poems. This Saturday I’m meeting with the outgoing Sovereign’s Champion of A&S to do that in person, in garb recorded hand off. That should be a lot of fun. And a little stressful.

Bardic War – I got the confirmation emails about the two war points I’m involved with. I have one week to finish things for submission on the 8th. I still need to practice the poems in front of people. I hope I can manage it all.

Laurels’ Challenge – No progress aside from a little thinking.

Travelling Outfit 2.0 – No progress.

1000 Tanka – Current count is 557. I wrote this one for the end of the April Tanka Challenge and the Poetry Month Challenge:

A month of poems Drawing now to a finish As the last day ends

Gathered words released in lines Meaning given to phrases

Language – I’ve missed a few days, but I’m still determined to learn.

All in all I’m a little overwhelmed and I’m feeling a lot of pressure. There’s a lot to do on a short time frame. There are people counting on me, so I’ve got to do my best.

The Project I Don’t Talk About

No, not the secret one. This one. This blog.

It’s a project in itself, and I haven’t really thought about it that way. It’s been a component of a project, but once version one of the travelling outfit was complete and I transitioned the blog to weekly project updates, I never stopped to think that it had become it’s own project.

And I’m struggling a bit keeping up with it along with all of the other projects I’m juggling.

I’ve stretched myself quite thin.

Here’s the weekly update:

Travelling Outfit 2.0 – I’ve pulled all the stitching from the piece outside of the edge finishing. That seemed like a smart thing to leave. I’ve decided not to take in the side seams. Next step is to press and then cut the old sleeve into the two new sleeves (which is just cutting it in half). It’ll be tricky in a few spots attaching the sleeve without removing the seam finishes from the side seams and armscye. I’ll attach the sleeve to the body and then sew the asetori closed from the part of the sideseam under the arm that was previously (erroneously) left open through to the sleeve cuff. Then I’ll finish the seam. I’m still undecided on the collar. That’s not quite right. I don’t want to do the collar, but I will, at some point in the next few months.

Consort’s Champion – We’ve set the date for the change over of office. It will happen in a recording session in May for June’s court. Nobildonna Fiore and I have plans to do an in person, in garb, recorded hand over of regalia. Poetry Month is drawing to a close. This is the final week of the Challenge. I’ll need to get in touch with someone in the webministry about creating an East Kingdom wiki page that can host the links to the Facebook group posts.

1000 Tanka – Current count is 527.

The quiet beauty In sadness that slips down cheeks Brushed away by sleeves

Emotion escaping from An otherwise serene form

Samurai Training – I’ve started a low impact exercise routine in combination with walking. So far, so good.

Language – I recognized a couple of words in music this week. It was a little thrilling.

Bardic War – I plan to practice and then record a performance, upload that as an unlisted YouTube video and share the link with a few people for feedback. I also printed out the rubric for the A&S warpoint and have begun reviewing it and some supporting documentation in preparation for rewriting my documentation. They require translations to be included in an appendix. So I’ll have to figure out how to format that, as well as actually write out all of the translations.

Laurels’ Challenge – I scaled back to four. Three of them are essentially fulfilled with the original poetry for Bardic War. The other is a write up of how I planned travelling outfit version one. I’ve started that and still have all my working notes.

Too Many Projects?

Well, I think I’ve gotten myself into it this time…

I’ve added projects to my list. I know I wasn’t supposed to, but, well, you see…

Bardic War – This is two-fold. (1) I volunteered for the A&S war point and need to reformat my existing documentation into the preferred format, I think I’ve mentioned this… (2) I was asked to also perform some period original poetry. This will be a live zoom event in May. I’m already super nervous. I don’t enjoy performing, but I felt it my responsibility as a Champion to do what I could. SO… Because tanka are quite short, I thought it best to compose a conversation between lovers and perform three to four poems in a back and forth. I have three tanka and my verbal documentation written so far. That may be it. I may have composed the right things. I need to perform the poems for friends via video and get feedback.

Laurels’ Challenge – There are a number of these that I would like to meet. I have to send an email by this evening to put myself in for the challenges I’m interested in answering. Most of these tie in to existing or already completed projects. That is not to say that it will be easy or not take very much time, because it will be difficult to meet all of the challenges and it will definitely take a good amount of time to do so.

Travelling Outfit 2.0 – The asetori is sitting, languishing, as I decide whether to take the side seams in or not and whether to redo the collar. The side seams may not be necessary, but the collar is wrong and will never lay quite right as it is now. I still hate the idea of ripping things out of this garment. With Pennsic officially postponed for another year, I will not have to have it ready for that war point. So there is at least that.

Champion – Poetry Month: more than 50 poet participants and 250 poems so far. It’s eating up more of my emotional energy than I had anticipated. Still very worth it. I had the suggestion come in this week to collect the poems for an East Kingdom wiki page. It will be a lot of work to do, but if my poets are interested, I’ll do it. This would be an after May project though. I’m trying not to add too much to my already overflowing plate…

1000 Tanka – I hit 500 and wrote this to celebrate:

Five hundred tanka Written in less than six months Halfway to the end

And now to repeat the work And write the next five hundred

Language – Today I will hit my second “milestone” in the program (Rosetta Stone).

Samurai Training – Professional help has been enlisted for my injury recovery and I keep adding exercises back as able. I’m going to attempt running again this week…

Saishi Class – I added a period source for the class, a comment from Sei Shonagon’s Pillow Book from the First Day, or New Year celebrations. “This is the day when members of the nobility who live outside the Palace arrive in their magnificently decorated carriages to admire the blue horses. As the carriages are drawn over the ground-beam of the Central Gate, there is always a tremendous bump, and the heads of the women passengers are knocked together; the combs fall out of their hair, and may be smashed to pieces if the owners are not careful. I enjoy the way everyone laughs when this happens.”

I also found a reference about a guard who was poorly powdered and added that to the Heian cosmetics research I have also started. I found some wonderful tidbits in articles, including a 97 page Master’s Thesis by Rebekah S Hunter entitled Aesthetics of Womanhood of Heian Japan. I’m looking forward to diving in to it at some point soon. I have a feeling I’ll be able to add information to a number of my research projects and classes that are in the works. After all, what’s the point in learning something if you’re not going to share it?

Teasing Out Progress

I’ll be honest, I don’t feel like I’ve gotten much accomplished this week. I know I did a lot, but… I helped a friend everyday for more than a week which ate a good chunk of time, and I’m working on a special project that has eaten up quite a bit more. Eventually I’ll be able to share that project, but it will be a couple of months. I’ll say it again, I need to buckle down, do more, and make my projects even more of a priority. I have a lot to do, and I want to get as many things done as possible while I still have the “free time” of being unemployed. I make no apologies for the sarcasm. I would much rather be making theater happen than trying to figure out how to pivot to a different career.

The end is coming And I try to be prepared To do more with less

My industry still slumbers And I’m left empty handed

Travelling Outfit 2.0 – The to-be asetori is now sleeveless. It’s taking longer than expected to pick out all the stitching as I was sewing with much higher stitches per inch than necessary. It also took several days of courage gathering before I was willing to start. This garment was my very first fully hand-sewn one, and it was hard to start ripping out seams I worked so hard on. Of course, I realize this now, days later. Hindsight. It should be easier to “fix” garments moving forward. The good news is one of the sleeves was cut on the selvage edge so I won’t have to hem the cuffs.

Saishi Class – Trying to wrap my head around these notes. I feel the need to reread the paper on historic hairstyles, I may have missed something, and I definitely didn’t take good enough notes as I can’t find any in my main document.

Language – Japanese lessons continue apace. I’ve almost gotten all of the hiragana down, just a handful more cards in my flash-card deck to learn. My pronunciation is getting better, and I think I’m ready to start watching television programs in Japanese. I was also given a link to a resource that provides Nara era poetry, line by line in the original and transliterated into romaji. I’m looking forward to digging into that.

Training – This is frustrating. My hip seemed to improve, but that may have been a result of halting the high intensity workout. I was able to walk just over 2 miles yesterday. Tomorrow I get to line up physical therapy. Fun.

1000 Tanka – I’ve started writing 4 or more tanka each day again as I’m sharing poems in 4 places daily. Current count is 473.

It is not a choice,  With sunlight comes the shadows Yin balanced by Yang

The trick is in maintaining A delicate harmony

Champion – My Poetry Month Challenge is going very well. I’ve had 34 participant poets and they’ve written a combined 149 poems as of yesterday. I’m thrilled with it. There are a handful of poets who have posted each day of the challenge so far. I’m quite tempted to make up some small tokens of appreciation for them, but I don’t know what. A special thank you message will have to suffice unless I come up with something I can make 6 or so copies of. I’ve also been sitting in on the recognition recordings for court. It’s lovely to see people get recognized for their hard work and contributions. And I’ve been able to wear a gifted set of robes. They were given to me almost 3 years ago, so it’s really nice to be able to wear them for the first time, even if no one other than myself and my partner get to see them. (I don’t know if I’ll be visible at all when the recording sessions are edited for court as I am just in the “gallery”). I intend to do a photo shoot wearing them at some point. The difference in weight between these airy silk robes and the linen and cotton of my war robes (the robes I wear at SCA War events that I can drag in the mud) is astonishing. The silk feels like nothing, and the others just feel SO heavy.

Wearing silk robes and having made historically accurate robes along with refolding a number of my war robes has gotten me thinking about how I want to proceed in what I wear to events. I’m not happy with my old war robes, most of which are well over 10 years old at this point. The cut is slightly wrong, the fabric is absolutely wrong…and I don’t know quite how I feel about wearing them again. I do need robes to wear to wars, but it feels so awful to wear things that are wrong and then have to explain that while very pretty, my outfit isn’t right/historically accurate. I need advice. I think I’ll ask my Laurel. Lots to think about while I continue working on other projects.

I’ve added a page to this website for my scribal projects and I’m working on a page dedicated to the Travelling Outfit that I hope to finish by the end of the month, we’ll see as I have a number of things I’d like to finish by the end of this month…

Progress on Projects

I’m enjoying this format of posting on a project by project basis.

Travelling Outfit 2.0 – I’ve hesitated in this. I’m finding it a little difficult to begin taking the sleeves off the to be asetori.

Champion – The poetry challenge for April has begun! And it’s going really well. People are posting poems and I’ve received a lot of positive feedback. It’s lovely. I also started attending the recording sessions for court. It was fun and I look forward to attending as many as are available!

Saishi Class – I’ve started to organize the notes into an outline. The structure of the class is starting to shape up, and I’m happy with what I have for an opening.

1000 Tanka – Current count 423.

Sometimes I wonder What I’ve gotten myself in And if I’ll get out

Sometimes projects feel too big It takes courage to finish

Training – Still recuperating. The PT seems to be working and I’m hoping to ease back into it soon.

Japanese Lessons – I’m learning more everyday. I can reliably count to 12 and I can read close to 100 hiragana characters.

Project by Project

Travelling Outfit 2.0 – Finished reading the 45 page paper. Wow. This was an amazing resource to find. Here’s a nugget, the kake-obi, that’s the red sash worn across the shoulders (I had used green in the first version) is used as an indicator that the woman was essentially warding off taboos. It says to everyone, this person has gone through the appropriate purification rituals. So I’ll need to make a red one to be accurate.

A bright red sash tied At the back to guard against Loss of purity

A powerful talisman For the travelling pilgrim

Also, there is an upcoming (virtual) inter-kingdom war, Bardic War. I have volunteered myself for the A&S warpoint. I don’t know that I’ll be chosen, only 12 are, and this is from the East and her allies, so there’s no guarantee I’ll make the team, but it definitely felt like the proper thing to do as Consort’s A&S Champion. This means it’s time to get moving on the physical part of the project. What is now the kosode will be altered with different sleeves and a shortened hem to make it a proper asetori. I have exactly the right amount of barely cream coloured silk taffeta to make the actual kosode. The hitoe needs it’s sleeves altered to remove the extra half panel as I can not back that up with research. I’ll need to make the red kake-obi and possibly a few himo (narrow ties) so that I’m not using scraps of fabric to hold my garments closed. I’ll use linen to make the kyohan (shin protectors). The last thing will be to take a new set of pictures. I intend to finish all of this by May 1. May 8 is the deadline.

And the great news from a trip to the fabric store, I was able to purchase the red silk I need for the kake-obi and also managed to get 7 yards of a light silk taffeta in white for my summer hitoe.

Saishi Class- I think the next step for this class is to organize my notes and see what I actually have. I’ll probably be able to hone a second round of research after that assessment.

Kumihimo – I’ve finished the second cord! I kept a 3 inch piece for my weaving journal.

Two bundles of maroon and light grey cord, tied around the middle, sitting on a small light grey drawstring bag

Japanese Lessons – I’ve finished the first of four sections.

Training – I’m off training for a little while. I injured myself, or aggravated an old injury. It will take a bit of time to recover properly, and then I’ll be back at it.

Injury feels like Having one’s wings clipped after Just learning to fly

Failure is part of success Sometimes you have to be still

1000 Tanka – Current count at 396.

Champion – And in other poetry news, I’ve announced the challenge to the kingdom to encourage everyone to try their hand at some poetry for the month of April. I’m looking forward to the lovely things people will write.

Petals fall like snow Littering the ground in shades Of bright pink and white

Oh plum, the first to blossom, Could you stay a while longer?

And the Meet the Champions Panel is now available on YouTube!