Like a Painting

The Birka 2024 Fashion Show theme was announced. Illumination and Marginalia. So I set out looking for a painting to emulate.

I turned to the illustrations in the copy of the Genji monogatari held by the Harvard Art Museums. It’s not currently on view (I did get to see it many years ago in person), but there is a wonderful digital collection. This is an album of 54 illustrations for the chapters in the Tale of Genji, painted by Tosa Mitsunobu.

Image courtesy of the Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of the Hofer Collection of the Arts of Asia

I specifically thought of the illustration for Chapter 20: Asagao. This particular image I’m familiar with because I thought for a small amount of time that it could be used to document a blue kasane no irome, color layering. You can clearly see the lady in the upper left wearing a lightening blue combination. But this illustration is from the early 1500s and therefore not an accurate source for the Heian period. I have been on the hunt for a documentable blue combination for years. This Fashion Show would give me a reason to make a blue kasane, but I wouldn’t feel right wearing it again without proof Heian ladies wore it. It’s important to me that I be able to wear anything I make for as much time as possible.

So I looked at the page girls rolling snowballs. They were wearing color pairings. These seemed more appropriate to mimic, and a giant snowball sounded like a great time for an event that has been affectionately called SCA-con. I chose to wear all three colors, as a riff on yuki no shita, under the snow. This combination is usually shades of pink under white with a blue-green hitoe. For my version I used my red cotton hitoe, pink linen ginu, and a to be made white uwagi. For the snowball, the biggest white beachball I could find.

I already had red and pink layers, and the pieces of a white layer cut out. All of these were made or cut out following information provided by Saionji no Hana on her website. Only my handsewn layers are made according to the Jidai isho no nuikata. It’s something I’m working on slowly as I build a silk wardrobe. I have 3 pattern styles in my wardrobe currently, my cotton, linen, and synthetic war garb, the silk set I was gifted, and the items made for my travelling outfit.

When making the white layer, I found that one of the pieces was stained and had to be recut. Not a big deal, as I have more of the poly peau de soire satin. Yes, it’s a synthetic. It looked nice and it’s what I had. I’m not going to enter it into an A&S competition, it’s for a Fashion Show. Silk is expensive. I encourage everyone to do their best with what they have.

I managed to get most of this garment complete in time for Birka, everything but the bottom hem. It’s still not done and I’ve worn it twice more. So here’s a bit of advice for people, wear it anyway. Really. I would have been heartbroken if I didn’t wear that outfit. My whole event was centered on the Fashion Show. So I wore it anyway. And I’m so glad I did.

Enjoy some pictures of me in the hotel room.

Note the loose, or not tied back hair. This was specifically because the page girls were depicted with loose hair.

The snowball is so big I had to partially deflate it to get it through the door and out of my room. Totally worth it though. So many kids had their eyes just go to saucers as they watched me roll a giant ball through the hotel and down the “runway”.

Here is a photo by Justine Weston from the Fashion Show.

I had a great time, and was chosen as the winner of the Early Period category.

I’ve worn the ensemble with my blue-green silk hitoe, in a more appropriate color scheme for yuki no shita.

The white uwagi has taken on some fairly awful stains, and the unfinished hem is shredding a bit.

I’ll serge the dirty hem, launder the garment, and provided that doesn’t ruin it, I’ll hem it up properly and adjust the collar to be a bit shorter. If too much is compromised from staining, I can repurpose the fabric into a kosode or a karaginu. And if it dies a horrible death, I think I have enough fabric to remake it. It has brought me joy, and that is enough.

I realized only too late that I should have had someone record video of my entry so I could share it on the YouTube channel. But I did make a video with the pictures I have and talk a bit about the ensemble. Click here to watch the video. It’s my first costuming video for the channel. Exciting!

An Award of Arms in a Bavarian style

Award of Arms for Reinald of Bavaria

C&I by THL Sugawara no Naeme

Words by THL Agnes Marie de Calais and THL Sugawara no Naeme

Silent treads the Tyger when in service, yet still his step is heard. Oh crafter of Honey’d mead, golden like the sun upon the bay at noon, one who works diligently to deftly wield sword and shield on the field of battle for the glory of the Realm, those who quietly toil for the benefit of the Society are worthy and deserving of praise and promotion.

We Ryouko’jin, Demon King of the Three Heavens, and Indrakshi Rani, Bengal Queen, do elevate Reinald of Bavaria to a Lord of Our court and award him arms, Quarterly per fess embattled vert and sable, in chief two wolves rampant, a point pointed Or, to be borne by him and him alone. Done at Our Northern Region War Camp on the second day of the seventh month, AS LVII, in the auspicious Year of the Tyger.

This was another wonderful collaborative wordsmithing effort. I’m grateful to THL Agnes for taking my initial words and elevating the entire piece with her elaboration and eloquence.

The recipient has a very specific persona, so I drew heavily on that for this award document. The source I chose is The “Codex Manesse”, also known as the “Great Heidelberg Book of Songs” which was created between around 1300 and 1340 in Zurich. Here are the pages/spread I used:

I altered the image so that the depicted person was wielding a longsword, which is the favored weapon of the recipient.

I redesigned the horse’s barding, the shield and tabard to reflect the recipient’s arms as this is an Award of Arms. The calligraphy was done by creating my own ductus from the manuscript.

Next I added the painted and inked capitals.

Yellow color blocking, and some detailing.

Grey color blocking.

Most of the horse. I missed the belly on this pass, oops.

Green color blocking, grass detail, and I also got the horse’s belly done.

Black color blocking, armor detailing, reigns.

Outlining. Almost a little cartoony, but the exemplar does the same. I remember being told as a young scribe, not to do this. Maybe that person hadn’t seen this source?

Next I added the blue and gold.

Added the red. Touched up details. Finished award document.

This one pushed me a little in the calligraphy department. I’ve been assured this has made it to its recipient. I hope he likes it.

Order of the Silver Crescent

This was my first Order of High Merit assignment. Seems Signet saw my other work and decided to bump me up a level from Awards of Arms and other Silver level award documents/scrolls.

I decided from the start I wanted to gild the document in silver (for the crescent) and gold (for the crown). I also wanted to be a little heavy with the gold in general. I reviewed my recipient’s wiki and decided on a late-ish period Italian theme for the them to match her persona.

Research commenced.

I found a piece in a book of hours I liked and I decided to try a new poetic form, terza rima.

Mirrored image from a book of hours. Scrolling vines in red and blue with flowers in red and leaves of green.
Digitally altered/mirrored image from a book of hours. Scrolling vines in red and blue with flowers in red and leaves of green.

Once I had a rough draft, I sent it over to Her Excellency Aislinn Chiabach who made a few tweaks, and then I made a few more. Eventually the words read thus:

“Words reached Our Sovereigns’ ears of this gentle’s deeds
Given so freely, she never seems to tire
Her work knows no bounds, of this you can believe.

Devoted local leader tending the fire
Providing many labors for all the parts
And minding the hearth of Stonebridge’ Shire

She’s a deft hand in promotion of the Arts
From local lands to country, she will work from
Her noble center, giving of her whole heart

A faithful servant to the Eastern Kingdom
She’s led folk in the path of aid, great and small
All the long day until the work had been done

Over years, it can be said, she’s heard the call
Sitting gate, demos, cooking, and more there is
Teaching the Knowne World at War, she gives her all

Great Sultan Mohammed and Wise Brenhines
Corotica lift Arabella De Mere
to the Order of the Silver Crescent for this

Steadfast service to Shire and Sovereignty fair.”

The words required more space than the inspiration page, so I digitally altered it.

I traced the image onto paper, smoothing the introduced transition and included the lines for the calligraphy

Using a lightbox I traced the image onto pergamenta.

Next it was time for gold. I applied miniatum provided to me by a fellow scribe, THL Aaradyn.

I let it dry, then breathed on it, and eventually had to give up and add modern adhesive on top of the miniatum. Then I went bananas with the gold leaf.

After the gold I applied adhesive and silver leaf. The first go was not great.

I tried again with better results.

Next I hand blended several gold inks to create just the right shade and applied the calligraphy.

I painted the green areas first

I painted the yellow and white sections next. A lot of the yellow is a base for more gold.

Red next.

Then the blue bits

Highlights were applied to the reds and blues and veining on all the leaves

And then, more gold and some fine red line work to finish out the document.

My favorite part – all the tiny gold dots! Even though I had trouble with the miniatum adhering, I love the raised texture it gave to the document. I had fun with all the gold, and I know the recipient loves it, which is the best part.

Coronation Backdrop

At Otter’s Welcome in May of 2023, I was approached by Their Royal Highnesses’ Chamberlain, HE Hillarious Clock Werk. He asked if I would be willing to design something, perhaps create a backdrop that would be used at Coronation and likely throughout Their reign. I knew then that I would be out of town at Coronation, and he said that that wasn’t a problem and also that nothing needed to happen before Pennsic.

After Pennsic, this project picked up.

TRH’s have a Discord server for coordination, and I read everything that was in reign theming so I would be prepared with an idea for the first Coronation meeting. TRH’s wanted “a light in the dark” and the aurora borealis as the overarching theme. I immediately had the idea of the aurora in the shape of a tiger across an ombre night sky and set about researching.

I thought I found a tiger constellation. I was wrong. What I did find was the domain of the White or Eastern Tiger, 1/4 of the sky in star maps. TRHs’ both have celestial bodies in Their arms, and Tir Mara, the Northern Army and the Southern Army all also have a star or stars in their heraldry. Plus Coronation happens during an eclipse. In my mind, the design was obvious.

In the meeting, I listened carefully to TRHs’ wants and desires. I treated it like I would a theatrical design meeting. Her (then) RH had a very helpful photoshop image. What They wanted was incredibly similar to the design I had come up with. I laid out my ideas. His (then) Highness gave His permission to move forward. 

I folded everything together and created a rendering for the next meeting.

After the rendering was approved, I set to work. I ordered all the paint I thought I would need, and I was lucky enough to be able to use some materials from my place of employment (I work for a top regional pre-Broadway theater). I sewed the drop to 11’ x 11’ to suit the frame available for it, including a flat felled seam and turnbacks, and added grommets. I was in a respirator for a lot of this as we had nasty fumes in the shop from our usual theatrical work.

I prepped the floor with paper and stretched the sewn drop on top, stapling it down. The paper prevents the drop from sticking to the ground.

I labeled the edges for the different colors of paint.

I primed the grommets with direct to metal paint and then spray primed the drop with the lightest color I planned to use.

Next I painted a gradation of 7 colors from black to pool blue. I had hoped I could scumble paint the transitions.

I sprayed the colors at transitions when I realized the scumble was not working.

This plan did not work out well enough. I left it to dry overnight.

The next day I over sprayed the drop with a few different mixed shades, and this finally looked like the ombre of my rendering.

After it dried, using my star map with a grid and a tiger outline on top, I chalked in the images.

I painted The Royal’s signifiers first. For Her (then) Highness, I eclipsed half of her signifier in recognition of the eclipse. The main symbol stars are all in the heraldic style, and the “regular” stars are all just dots of white, like a star map. 

Tir Mara’s star got a little lost, being blue on black, so I lightly outlined it in white.

I then started on the tiger. I used two shades of purple and a dry brush technique to create the “aurora”. You can see here that the Northern Army star is becoming occluded.

After that dried, I mixed a pale yellow, intending to follow that with a greenish yellow to pull the image closer to the usual colors of the aurora. But then I looked at the backdrop and realized that if I used a darker yellow/gold instead, I would have the tiger aurora in East Kingdom colors. This didn’t really deviate much from my rendering, but I really liked the difference, so…design choice on the fly. I also decided to move the Northern Army star.

After reinforcing the paint on the other symbol stars, I stopped. I considered adding in a few more small stars, specks to imitate the rendering’s splatter dots. But I knew it was time to stop. So I signed the drop with my chop in the lower left hand corner.

When I got home, I posted a picture to the discord which met with approval.

After sleeping on the idea, I decided that the drop was indeed complete. It matched the star map. I felt no need to add dots for stars not on the star map. Knowing when to stop is important, and it’s usually a decision I struggle with on scrolls/award documents.

I cut tie line and pulled the drop from the floor. There was minimal sticking! Hooray!

It took about 55 hours of work, not including dry time, design through painting. 

The one detail I’m the most proud of is the Tir Mara star. It sits on the star map in the location of Andromeda, and I think that’s wild. This star is also sometimes referred to as the “Tiger’s Eye” which feels very appropriate.

I changed the location of the Northern Army star as its original location got covered by aurora. It’s meant to be roughly placed as the tiger’s heart, but like I said, I had to change its location. It’s a star that is part of a constellation known as the “Tiger’s Net”.

The Southern Army stars roughly correlate to a constellation known as the “Tiger’s Stride”. These little details make my heart happy.

TRMs’ signifiers are placed in such a way that they should be almost directly above Their thrones, and my hope is that the other three star placements, which run north to south geographically, will also be able to be seen with the thrones placed in front of it. That’s part of why the drop looks a little like the northern part of the sky/top of the drop is more crowded than the southern part of the sky/bottom of the drop. After seeing a few images from Coronation, this mostly works out. The Southern Army stars (and essentially the entirety of the bottom half of the drop) were obscured by retainers and champions. I knew this would be a factor and I wish I could have thought of something a little better. However, south is south, and that’s where that constellation is.

I’m very pleased with how this design became reality. It matches my rendering in the best ways. The timing I planned for it was accurate. I have been actively working on time management of projects, and it was nice to get this one right. 

It is a deep honor to be asked to create something that will be used to reinforce the reign theme, and especially something as important as the backdrop for Coronation. I’m grateful to Their Royal Majesties, King Matthias and Queen Feilinn, for trusting my skills and talents to make this large piece of art for Them and the Kingdom. I’m grateful to His Excellency Clock Werk for suggesting me for the job and asking. It’s really nice to be able to use my mundane skill set to fulfill part of my fealty to the East Kingdom; I swore my art in times of peace. This is quite literally my fealty on display.

Update: At Crown’s Arts and Sciences Championships, Their Royal Majesties named me Artisan to the Crown. I am humbled and grateful.

Now my attention turns back to sewing…


It has been too long since my last update. I’ve done things, I’ve stalled on others, and I’ve of course taken on new projects. Today I need to work on prioritizing the new projects with the old.

Pennsic was…a lot. Now that I’ve been once, I can see how to do it better so that I can enjoy myself more. I met wonderful people and had a lovely time teaching my Pilgrimage and Power class during war week and having it fully click for me. Unfortunately, this was a magic working of having the right amount of people in the class, as it relies on Q&A. I’ve taught it again since, and it was not the same experience. There must be a way to capture some of that magic. Unfortunately I didn’t record that session. I did record both of my classes during peace week, but the sound is garbage.

I also have news. I have asked Mistress Albreda Aylese to be my Laurel, and she has welcomed me into her household. I now have two new belt sisters and a house brother to share joy and sorrow with, to learn from and to support and receive support. My Gleann Abhann Laurel, Maitresse Alysia, fully supports this new relationship. I think I heard Albreda mention something on the day of the belting about me not taking on so much. It was one of those aside comments that I may have even misheard, but it stuck with me and I’ve been wrestling with how to move forward with projects as I am still or again stuck. I also have the new project of embroidering a new obi with a scallop shell on one end to represent me and where I’m coming from, and my previous guidance, and a feather on the other end to represent my new Laurel.

Let’s get to task. It’s time to prioritize. And frankly, writing my projects out like this really helps. Like reshelving books (this will make sense later).

My Genji Project is sitting idly, waiting for me to do more work. I’m currently in the midst of Chapter 14. The translations are read, the summary written, notes streamlined. I just need to focus in on the analysis part of the script. I will have the next episode written, recorded, edited and uploaded no later than this Sunday, October 1st. That will mean an almost two month hiatus of not posting. I had slowed it to one chapter per month, and have missed that date. And I feel guilty about that.

Samurai training. I did manage to authorize sword and board, left handed. But I didn’t fight or scout at Pennsic. I had a panic attack instead and wasn’t able to contribute. I haven’t been back in armor since. My wrist injury is relatively well healed, but I do have PT to do for the rest of my life. I think it’s time to make weekly practice a habit. at very minimum for the socializing part. I also have plans for training myself up physically so that I am a better fighter and so that I’m healthier in general. This includes a core workout combined with some footwork drills and the 100 day pell challenge. 100 days, 100 blows. Running a 1-6 (7) drill satisfies the strike requirement. By the end of the 100 days, I should be able to generate some power, and my body shape should start to change a bit. For the big goal, my body shape will have to change more than a little. I’ll need to be in better shape than I was as a college athlete (I was a pole vaulter at Uni). So it looks like I’ve cooked up a nifty little 100 day challenge for myself to get started again…October 8th is 100 days until my birthday…But it would be nice to finish before then…

Poetry. The great thing about having this blog and laying out my projects as I so often do, is that I don’t lose project ideas. Rereading my last post, I see my Kokinshu idea, and I find that I need it. I’ve still been struggling with my poetry. Maybe that’s not accurate. I’m not writing daily. I do occasionally write poetry. Frequently even, in the right circumstances. I attended the peerage ceremonies of two of my dearest friends. It was not difficult to write a tanka for each of them. I tend to write with ease while camping and travelling. And especially when feeling a large emotion. But I want a challenge. I want to grow. So I’m going to start up my Kokinshu challenge. Probably October 1? I’d like to lump this in and make another 100 day challenge to go with the pell challenge, but there are so many more poems than that in the Kokinshu… It wouldn’t be unlike me to continue a poetry challenge past it’s date.

Those are my always projects. Research. Combat. Poetry.

Let’s turn to deadline driven projects.

Backdrop. I have been asked me to create a backdrop that can be used at Coronation and create/reinforce The reign theming for Their Highnesses with the intention that it can be used at multiple events. This one has to be finished in 2 weeks. I’ve gotten approval on the concept art and have purchased the paint. Tomorrow I’m sewing the canvas to size. Next weekend it gets painted, and gets grommets and tie line. I’m nervous about this one as I won’t be at Coronation to see it installed and used for the first time.

Auction Ensemble. I hate that this is still on my plate. I feel horrible at having taken so long. This is the project I am focusing on finishing ASAP. The recipient has been beyond flexible and kind. No more excuses. She gets top priority. This means I need to clear my studio (dining room) from all of the event stuff I haven’t put away since AUGUST so that I can sew. You heard that right. I have yet to recover from Pennsic in August, and I’ve been to two events since then, one in a different Kingdom, and had a regular camping trip. Sometimes I don’t realize what exactly I’ve done until I write it out. Regardless, time to sew.

Letting things go.

I can’t be an active scribe for a while. My Deputy Seneschal responsibilities are ramping up. I already have a lot on my plate that is or should be maintenance tasks, and those take up a lot of time; 3 to 4 hours a day is a lot when 19 hours of most of your days is otherwise spoken for. And I can rarely fit a scroll/award document in without feeling entirely overwhelmed. So I think I need to step back. I’ve been able to discuss this with one of my Laurels and I’m sure the other would agree with her on me stepping back from something. I know that the Kingdom has a backlog of about 100 award documents. As these are low stakes when it comes to deadlines, I’m thinking of becoming a backlog scribe until I step down as Seneschal, about 4 years. I plan to ask for my first assignment in late February. Maybe I can make it a mission to clear the backlog. No, not on my own…but I do have an idea for a scribal event…

This doesn’t quite sound like letting things go…

Shelved Projects.

I’ve worked on a concept with my therapist. I don’t really get overwhelmed by my ever increasing to be read list. The book gets a place on a shelf, and I know that one day I’ll get to it. And I frequently pull these not read books and flip through to find a reference, so they do get used. The concept is to think of my projects like I do my precious books, something I can lovingly put away for later. Thinking of my project list in that way took a weight from me. Now I’m looking forward to occasionally picking one up, and have no guilt about setting it back down. Eventually, I’ll get to pull it out and finish it, but until then, it gets shelved. And I also know I can build more shelves if the ones I have get crowded.

Annotated Bibliography. I want to make an annotated bibliography so that others can more easily find a source to help them. This includes using all the bibliographies in my papers and documentation and class notes as well as books literally on my shelves and the online resources I regularly use. It seems a little funny to put a bibliography project on the shelf.

Netsuke/Inro. His Excellency Master Aquel gifted me a netsuke charm/bead in the shape of a tiger on the day I was inducted into the Order of the Moon. I was charged with the task of making the proper inro to go with the netsuke. About a year later, I had the idea to carve the panels of the inro with a tiger. Aquel was delighted with the idea when I got to tell him. At Pennsic I met a friend at the moon viewing party I hosted who had made an inro to contain his phone! I also bought two books on netsuke. This gives me a potential direction for the tiger inro. But for now, this project is on the shelf.

Classes. I’ve taught my GRWM and Pilgrimage and Power classes many times now. And will again if asked. I’m quite satisfied with the Get Ready With Me. That continues to develop organically as I learn more and acquire period correct cosmetics. I still need a better handout for the Pilgrimage and Power class. I’m just not satisfied with it. I’m also developing classes based on my Genji Project research. And I’m increasingly asked to teach tanka classes. I’ve done tanka basics as a private workshop, and I think I’d like to teach a class that covers the various forms of syllabic Japanese poetry. An intro to waka class, maybe? But none of this is active. All shelved and ready for use when needed.

Hiogi – I had a good discussion with someone who has tried his hand at making one. My supplies still sit, literally on a shelf, waiting.

Karaginu mo. This one is harder. I have a karaginu and mo that were gifted to me. I still want to line the karaginu. But I also want to make full karaginu mo. Handsewn, silk… I think I’d like to make it in the kobai no nioi kasane (pink plum layering combination) as this combination can be worn year round, but is best in the late winter/early spring (New Year). The weight of the silk I plan on using (taffeta) means this should really be worn in the late fall through spring. This project will require a large number of garments. Kosode, nagabakama, reworking of my hitoe – I need to fix the sleeves, and I’d love to print the appropriate design on it faking a damask, 5 uchiki/ginu each in a different shade of pink, an uwagi, a karaginu and a mo. It’s a lot of silk. And though everything above the hitoe should be lined, I only plan to line the uwagi and karaginu, leaving the uchiki/ginu unlined.

Wardrobe Organization. I’ve made progress on this front! I now have a spreadsheet with all of my garb and my partner’s, minus what we bought at Pennsic. I still need to mend or amend several garments, specifically the sleeves on several kosode. And I only made it through Pennsic with the use of modern cotton juban in the place of asetori and kosode. I need to remedy that and make lots of underwear.

Things coming up, getting picked back up…

Language. I stopped studying. And I need to pick this back up. I don’t want to be a bad guest in 2025/26 when I visit Japan for the first time. And I have bigger goals. This will probably get rolled into my 100 days of challenge coming up.

New Project! Kosode Workshop. I would like to see more attempts at pre-17th century Japanese clothing and less use of modern kimono in the SCA. Many people have expressed interest in a hands on workshop to learn how to make kosode. I have offered to facilitate this. I have the ability to host maybe 4 people in a hands on workshop at my home. If we can manage some of the work in a hybrid form, that would help, and I could host maybe 6 people, knowing that no one would likely have a finished product at the end. Unless it was over 2 days? Grr. This one’s harder, but I want to facilitate something this winter.

Events. Coming up I plan to attend Crown List and Birka. Possibly Bhakail Yule. Maybe 12th Night? I also have an idea to hold a scribal event centered on the Kingdom’s backlog of award documents. Probably in the second quarter of next year, but anytime before I step up as Seneschal as I can not autocrat once in that position.

One complication. My birthday party.

My birthday party is a big thing. I had a lot of disappointing birthdays as a child, so I’m making up for it as an adult. With lots of theater. Fun decorations. Heavily themed. I haven’t held one since 2020. 2024 will be my first party since the pandemic. I’m turning a chandelier into a jellyfish to celebrate! This will require a lot of prep that will eat into the final half of my 100 days of challenge.

Working on this blog and website is the last thing I’ll add to the list. The bibliography is one part of that, better class handouts is actually another, but I also want to revamp my travelling outfit page to show how my impression has changed over time, and hopefully help someone else skip the early steps when they attempt that ensemble.

Maybe I should list what the 100 Days of Challenge entails. Pell work. Core workout. Footwork. Pushups. PT. Kokinshu Challenge. Language studies. (Let’s not forget that I do something toward my Genji project everyday already.) Those are the things I want to accomplish every day for 100 days. And then I’ll have my birthday party and take a break. Why do all this? Because one of my words for this year was challenge. Because I want to end the year strong physically and emotionally. Because I feel the need to prove to myself I can. Because I want to celebrate my birthday with a big feeling of accomplishment. And because I’ve put some of these things off for too long.

Laying everything out helps. As usual, it’s a whole lot. But I feel less overwhelmed, and a little more capable. And I’ve already adjusted when I’m going to do things as I realized some things have deadlines and dates that cannot change.

Time to get the studio prepped. I start sewing again on Tuesday.

100 Days of Challenge start this weekend.

Fighting Overwhelm

I’ve been struggling with my poetry since February or so. I thought I needed to focus and decided to try more historically focused tanka.

But nothing came.

So I tried focusing on happy or joyful tanka.

Again nothing came.

I thought getting back into the daily habit would help.


So I find myself having only written a dozen or so tanka since February. I feel frustrated and … empty. And I’ve been putting some things together through therapy. I firmly believe that my current state of overwhelm and my lack of poetic voice are linked. Once I get some things squared away, perhaps after the stress of Pennsic is over, maybe I’ll write again. I even have a fun new project idea, pull a poem from the Kokinshu, an early anthology of waka dating from the Heian period, and write a tanka either in response or inspired by that poem.

Oh, and I published a book of poetry. The Path: 21 Tanka. ISBN: 9789357690959
On Amazon at:

But the joy of that was short-lived. A small bright momentary flash in the dark.

Massive overwhelm is affecting everything. Being injured only added to it. I hurt my wrists in early April at work and have been limited in what I can do. I’ve finally received a treatment that should have me back to full function in the next few days, so I’m hopeful.

This has greatly hindered my Samurai training. I haven’t been able to pick up and wield a weapon. And I’m not yet authorized. Rain and problems with my contacts ruined my plans last week. But, my armor is situated and I may be able to authorize this week. The injury didn’t just slow down my training, I struggled physically and emotionally as I adjusted to using my nondominant hand which was slightly less injured than my dominant. And I couldn’t keep up.

Much to my chagrin, the auction commission is still sitting. One garment is completely cut out now, fashion fabric and lining. So progress. And now that my wrist should be better, I hope to finish the first garment by next weekend. The second garment requires a mock up, so I think I’ll go buy some red cotton for that instead of using the white I have. If it turns out well, I’ll have a pair of haribakama for myself. Once the auction items are finished, I move on to Pennsic Prep sewing.

And sewing’s not the only bit of prep for Pennsic. Besides Samurai Training so I can fight, I’m also going to need to do a bit of studying and prep on two of my classes. I’m teaching my Heian Get Ready With Me: Travelling Outfit back to back with my Pilgrimage and Power class. Twice. I’ll need to create a simple handout for the GRWM (a list of makeups and clothing terms?) and the P&P class needs an updated handout. Both of those things need to be uploaded here so I can allow people to scan a QR code to get to the handouts. In conjunction with those classes, I would also like to redesign my travelling outfit page on this website to show the progress I’ve made over the years with this particular ensemble. I’m on version 2.5. And I think I’m going to try to record my classes for my YouTube channel.

My Genji Project is in the throws of major change. I can’t keep up the pace. The “pause” didn’t work. I didn’t get caught up, I have no cushion and I’m struggling. I’m still determined, but I’m also just struggling with absolutely everything. Right now I don’t know when my next episode will air. I started the project when I was unemployed and I could give it all my time and the pace was fine, but I’ve lost 40+ project hours a week to my full time job that I used to spend on this. I’m considering adding a week’s break after each chapter to spread things out a little more. Right now I just need to get the next episode, Chapter 13, read and scripted. I can usually power through the production side in 5-6 hours, the research side takes a lot longer.

I did finish the Order of the Silver Crescent award document that I was assigned as of my last update and have taken on another (Order of the Silver mantle) due next month. Everything is due next month. At some point I’ll get images of the completed Silver Crescent and the Award of Arms from last year posted.

As Baronial Largesse Coordinator I’ve hosted 2 largesse nights, and need to host at least one more to finish the firestarters we made at the first 2 nights. We just need to add little paper notes so people know who they’re from and what to do with them.

I haven’t made it to many events. Birka was a challenge as I had to stay more away from people than I would have liked. I was hosting grandmother’s 90th birthday the next weekend and couldn’t risk getting sick, so I missed out on a lot of the part that I really needed as I avoided those not masked. I did have one person tell me that they read my blog and was incredibly flattered. We’re now friends on Facebook and I look forward to spending time with her again. And with a little help I was able to transform a hotel room into a vigil space for my dear friend, Laureata Fiore. I dropped an award document off at Coronation but didn’t stay due to severe anxiety and forgetting my meds, and I attended the local Otter’s Welcome. I still have Northern Region Warcamp and Great Northeastern War as potentials before Pennsic, but they’re looking less and less likely. That time may need to be redirected to more Pennsic Prep. After Pennsic I plan to attend Carolingian 50 Year and then I travel to Gleann Abhann to my former Barony of Grey Niche for the elevation to Laurel of my dear friend Mahsheed. This happens at Gleann Abhann’s Kingdom Arts and Sciences event, so I’d like to enter something, likely just a display. I don’t know what I could make with the amount of time I’ll have (about a month after Pennsic).

I have started working on a plan that will see me make a full silk kasane, kobai no nioi (deepening plum pink). It is a gradation of dark to light pink appropriate year round but especially fine at the end of winter/beginning of spring. It’s the springboard for my winter/spring wardrobe in silk. Though it is planned as an abbreviated version using a single layer of silk taffeta rather than being lined. It saves half the fabric, and if I ever decide to line them later or turn them into the lining, I can. So far I’ve gotten swatches and have the fabrics in mind. The next step will be saving up for the huge order of silk, about 35 yards. This is a long term project. I intend to hand sew all of it. I’m trying to decide if my rank would allow for “figured” middle layers – using either brocades or block printed silk for the ginu/uchiki. I don’t think it does. That is likely Royal Peer level, and I barely qualify to wear kurenai much less murasaki. This project is part of my plan to eventually hand sew full karaginu mo from silk. I’ll still need nagabakama, uwagi, karaginu and mo. But I’m letting myself get carried away dreaming of kasane…

In actual news, I stepped down from Deputy MOAS for the Barony and stepped up as Deputy Seneschal. I have a little under 2 years to learn the job.

My touchstone words for this year are Balance, Challenge and Growth. I’m struggling with the first, trying to rise to meet and set new of the second, and I feel the pain of the last. I have a lot on my plate, and that could certainly count toward my overwhelm, but it doesn’t add up to enough to put me in the state I’ve been. Or maybe it does and I’m underestimating the amount of strain I’ve put myself under. Either way, I’m working on it in therapy.

Year of the Rabbit

The New Year has come and brought significant changes. I once again have full time employment with the theater I was previously attached to, and this opens up a lot of possibilities that were not feasible before. Stability is thrilling. And I absolutely love my work as a scenic carpenter.

I chose three words to be my touchstones for the year. Balance, which has been my word for several years now; Challenge and Growth.


My Genji Project continues. I had been able to keep pace with the schedule until this week. I started with only a 2 week cushion, and in hindsight, this was a mistake. I got to the point where I was recording the main chapter videos and editing them to throw immediately onto YouTube. For chapter 9, I pulled an all-nighter. And I couldn’t continue that way. The quality of the videos suffered, and I really just couldn’t pull another all-nighter. So I’m taking a break from uploading videos. I’m still going to do the work and get new videos ready, but I won’t upload again until April 1, so I can regain a cushion.

Scroll Assignment! I accepted a scroll assignment. It’s for an Order of High Merit due at Mudthaw on March 25. It’s going to be a 16th century Italian piece. I’ve picked the hand, the calligraphic style, and I have a line on the word structure, I was advised of a popular rhyming scheme for the period. I think I’m going to use English and not translate this one. I have a few more days to pick an exemplar for the illumination and then I move into production mode. This will be my first piece with real gold leaf, I’m finally going to do it.

Auction Offering: I’m going to have this project, a lined robe and hakama, finished by April 1. If I can manage it a little faster, I’ll be able to hand it off in person to the very patient recipient at Mudthaw.

Samurai Training. I’m back at it. Slowly ramping up through March while I finish the scroll and auction commission, and then rattan combat training becomes my main focus (outside of the Genji Project, of course)


I now have a list of events I’m going to try to attend leading up to Pennsic. Mudthaw (maybe), Coronation, Balfar’s Challenge, War of the Roses, Southern Region War Camp, War of the Pearls (maybe), Northern Region War Camp, Great Northeastern War and Pennsic.

Pennsic prep has begun as well. I have alterations to make to most of my garb, and a few new items to make. And I have classes to plan. I’m thinking of teaching my Pilgrimage and Power class, and 2 variations of my Get Ready With Me (GRWM) class, one for a travelling outfit and one for a courtesan’s ensemble. My current thought is to teach each class twice, once during peace week and once during war week.

And since we’re talking Pennsic prep, as Baronial Largesse Coordinator, I need to do something to ensure there is enough largesse for Pennsic and Carolingian 50 Year. To that, I’m going to host largesse crafting nights once a month (in lieu of the A&S night I had been thinking about). The first meeting will be virtual, and the rest will be hybrid.

Reflecting on 2022 and Planning for 2023

It’s come to the end of the year and I’m wondering, what have I accomplished? It feels like there hasn’t been much, but that can’t be true.

In January, I was still Consort’s Champion of A&S.

February saw my last addition to Meet the Artist Mondays. I also co-autocratted the East Goes East (a virtual event which received a commendation from the BOD) and taught two classes at the event.

In March, I completed a scroll for my successor and stepped down as Champion. I also represented the East at Gulf Wars in the A&S Champions War Point, and learned I can completely hand sew a kosode in less than 24 hours.

At Coronation in April, I began retaining for the Royals and displayed my 24 hour kosode. At the Feast of Fools event I was named First Poet of Carolingia. Later that month I performed a tanka at a bardic challenge.

May saw me inducted into The Barony of Carolingia’s Order of the Moon, an A&S award.

In June I created an AOA award document. It didn’t go out, as the person missed court, but they may have it by now, I should check with the Signet.

In July I finished several pieces of garb for TRMs. This was specifically for Opening Ceremonies at Pennsic. I created 3 kosode for HerRM and a bonus obi, and a kosode and obi for HisRM. I also taught 3 classes at GNEW.

August was spent prepping the Genji Project for release. There is so much behind the scenes work in this project’s ongoing presentation.

September saw my Genji Project come to life and take over my life.

In October my channel exploded to over 100 subscribers.

November saw the Genji Project steaming along and I also successfully completed the annual #TankaChallenge. And I wrote a book of poetry. Hopefully that will go to press soon.

It’s now December and I’m still excited about my Genji Project. I’m learning a tremendous amount and trying to share that through my videos. It’s a grueling schedule, and I’ll admit to being behind, but it’s so satisfying to share Genji with the world like this.

Throughout this year I have continued to write a tanka everyday and share them on Facebook. I’ve also struggled with keeping on track with my language studies and samurai training. And I’m disappointed in having to turn down my last scribal assignment. My last outstanding item is a sewing project. I volunteered my sewing skills for the auction to benefit TRMs. I have a lined ginu and a pair of shortened nagabakama to make as soon as I can.

In the next year, I plan to continue writing tanka everyday and to keep working on my Genji Project, one chapter at a time. Once my auction items are complete, my sewing will focus only on mending and prepping for Pennsic. I also plan to focus on samurai training. The only two events I know I’m going to are Birka in January and Pennsic in July/August. And I want to fight at Pennsic. If I can get a good routine going, I’ll pick up a backlog scroll assignment. Oh, and I want to host a virtual monthly A&S night for my Barony.

I certainly have plenty to keep me busy in the new year. And I’m satisfied with what I’ve accomplished this year. It really helped to list everything. I feel that I have done enough.

Pursuing Opportunities

A friend sent a private message to me with an opportunity. Write 21 poems in 21 days and the company will publish a book of your poetry to be available through them and Amazon. Royalties and all rights remain with the author, and the buy in was fairly small. And it started in 2 days.

How could I not?

So I wrote a book. The Path: 21 Tanka. My first book of poetry. I say first because I already have plans for another. But for this first book, it took a day to come up with a concept. I knew I didn’t want 21 random poems. Several themes presented themselves to my imagination. My first idea is being reserved for book number two. My next idea struck like lightning and another option came along after having written out the first. I went with the lightning strike.

I was able to use previous work (some published on social media in my daily tanka posts) in combination with new (never published) material. Once I had the poems in order, I asked a friend to look it over. She offered the feedback I needed, and I was left with something I’m very proud of.

I don’t know when it will be available for sale just yet, but I’m really excited for it.


So it’s been two weeks. The channel is growing and the Genji Project is taking up most of my free time. I’ve even added to my studio gear with a pair of soft box lights.

Keeping up with the channel is quite a bit of work. And I’m dreading part of it. Advertising. No, I’m no where close to monetizing the channel, that’s unlikely to ever happen. And I don’t mean posting to facebook about new videos, that’s easy. There’s another place. A perfect place.

I’m a member of a google group, Pre Modern Japanese Studies. Other YouTube channels have been shared to the group, so I know it would be ok to post there, these people are exactly the right audience. But I’m terrified. I’ve seen posts that Royall Tyler has commented on. ROYALL TYLER. Genji translator. My favorite Genji Translator. He’s in this group and might see what I’m doing. This group is full of serious academics, and I’m incredibly intimidated. I know I need to do it. And I will, but for another few minutes I’m just going to be scared about it.

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