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Becoming a Squire

"I swear to serve you on the field and off, as you so require."
"And for my part, I swear to help you and train you to become the warrior you wish to be."
There was a trio of newly created squires that evening, Jonathan and Adhamh swore to Duke Radnor, while in the same ceremony Sir Patric de Grey and I exchanged oaths, making him my Knight and me his Squire. We had talked about it for a few months before, so I was expecting it, but they put off the ceremony until the last night of the event, leaving me to wonder if it was going to happen or if something had changed. But then they called us to them and we all spoke the words. It's difficult for me to describle the feelings, but there is this sense of connection, chains of tradition and the rightness of place the come from speaking the words in firelight.
So now I wear a red belt, made from the baldric he wore as a squire. And every time I put it on I think about what it means. I was, and am, honored to serve such a great knight. He is an excellent teacher, not just in Combative Arts, but also in Chivalry, Honor, and History.

CrossFit Victories!

I can totally do a handstand now! Against the wall, for now, but a handstand nevertheless!

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It wasn't the strength, I had that already. It was getting over the mental block. I took a class at Grassroots to be able to do it, and I did! And now I'm going to teach Kelly, who is very envious.

England!

It's taken me awhile to write this one, but in May, I went to England with my family and it was amazing.  I've always wanted to go, as I've had a fascination with England since I was small.  My sister Erin was coming back from a year studying anthropology in Finland, and with a stop-over at Heathrow, my mom and I figured it would be the best time to see the country.

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I've only been a tourist overseas once before - Costa Rica.  And in many ways, coming to England felt very much like coming home.  The language, the people, the culture, the history, it all felt really familiar.  Walking around the streets of London and feeling the deep time connection of history was just amazing.  And since I am a medieval aficionado and huge history buff, it was extra awesome.

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This is me, my mom, and Erin outside of Westminster Cathedral.  We saw a lot of cathedrals, which I really enjoyed, because even though I'm not Anglican, I have a lot of personal and family ties to the Anglican church.  Evensong, in particular, was totally amazing - it's a beautiful, musical service, and attending it in a cathedral gave me a deep sense of continuity and tradition.  I can see how these services and rituals give a nice rhythm to one's day.
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Unsurprisingly, we went to a lot of museums too.  The British have stolen a lot of stuff, and they put most all of it in one place - The British Museum.  And you can go see all of it, for free!  I'm pretty sure the countries they stole it from are still pretty pissed off about that, but as a tourist, it was great to see a bunch of historical artifacts in one place.  Above are the Elgin Marbles.
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This is the White Tower in the Tower of London.  When we went inside, at the top there is this hall, where William the Conqueror's cooking fires have etched into the wall the original roofline.  It's hard to describe how I felt, seeing that.  This is the historical marker of one of those world-changing events.  He radically changed the history of Europe, and thus, the world, and seeing the remains of the these things that happened a millennia ago, brings this incredible perspective to the world.  It made me feel humbled.
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Seeing the display of arms and armor in the White Tower, and thinking about all the people who have fought throughout the years for what they believe in, for their friends and family, for even naked ambition and gain, it brought me a sense of camaraderie with the past.  And it gave me inspiration on what to do with my armor.
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This is Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster taken from my seat on the London Eye.  It was, of course, awesome to see everything from this view.  Also, it made me think about House of Cards, which is pretty funny.  You can't see this scene without Rule Britannia running through your head.
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This is Canterbury Cathedral, where we heard Evensong.  This was my favorite place on the whole trip.  My paternal grandmother is a Canterbury, and also an Episcopal priest, so this had special meaning for me.  The cathedral was just beautiful.
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I recognize that taking selfies with ancient relics is probably a bit gauche, however, I really liked the Black Prince.  Dude is my homie.  He was the flower of English chivalry.  He almost reunited the English and French thrones.  He lead armies against the French when he was 14.  And he had some digestive trouble, toward the end, which I so feel him on.  So, we're totally bros.  I loved being able to visit him.
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It just so happened that it was the Canterbury Cathedral Garden Show that day, so we got to participate in high tea with the church ladies of Canterbury Cathedral.  Was there ever anything more British than high tea with the church ladies of Canterbury Cathedral during a garden show?  No, never.  It was the best.

I'm so happy I went to England.  I'm so glad I got to spend time with my mom and Erin.  I was equally happy to return to the U.S. and be greeted by Kelly at the airport, with chocolate chip cookies, and lots of hugs.

Fighting in the Crapaud

I've never been a good tourney fighter. For years this built on itself, where I would be nervous about a tourney, and then do poorly, and then be upset at myself, and then be nervous for the next one. It was vicious, and I didn't have the right words to express my feelings, the right person to confide in, or the right people to practice with. Fighting in tourneys is supposed to be fun competition, but it was making me feel useless and embarrassed.

Last night I entered a tournament, the Crapaud, for the first time in about ten years. On the way down to the site I was able to open up a bit about it with the ever amazing aquestrian. Some of the old feelings were dredging up and I was afraid of embarrassing myself in front of her. She listened, really listened, and then dispelled my fears. Just like that.

After warm ups, when we were circling up for the toasts and challenges I looked over at aquestrian locked eyes with her and felt myself center for the upcoming fights. The first fight is a challenge fight, and so I challenged someone I didn't know, a man named Lucius, buoyed by my feelings for aquestrian.

Surprising aquestrian is hard. Really, really hard. So the look on her face when I walked over and presented her with flowers during the salutes was doubly sweet. The crowd seemed to enjoy it as well, but the part that meant the most to me was the connection we felt as I knelt before her.

The fight with Lucius was good. We had a brief rally and then both threw the same shot. His aim was good, mine wasn't, so down I went. After the fight he came over and we spoke about the fight, and discussed what is throwing off my aim. I now have a few drills to practice.

In the second round I pulled Thorfinn, King of the West. The fight lasted maybe two seconds. aquestrian took a video of it, which I will post later. I closed and threw a wrap, he blocked it and threw a blindingly fast flat snap and down I went. His shot happened in two frames of the video. Two. It was a bit discouraging, but I thanked HRM for the fight, and remembered that there is a reason he is King. After all, at least half of his fights were just as fast.

And after that I had fun watching the fights and remembering why I love this. The people, the fighting, the honor and courtesy on display. I love all of it and I love sharing it.

And then, after the fighting was over and Thorfinn won the tournament, he made me La Fleur. It is a month long title that the winner of the Crapaud gives to the fighter they believe showed the best example of chivalry in the tournament. It's hard to express how humbling this was, to receive such an honor from His Majesty. I felt the weight of the heavy chain the medallion hangs from, and the weight of all those who have held the title before me as I knelt before him. I felt the weight of promise, expectation, pride and humility.

Next month I will travel down to the Crapaud to pass off the chain to whomever the winner chooses. I hope to do it honor until then.

Oh yes, pictures will be coming.

Baked something for the neighbors - 43

I wasn't planning on it, but I ended up making bacon wrapped almond stuffed dates for the neighbors. The fridge died, so I suddenly had 20 pounds of grass fed beef and 2 pounds of bacon to cook Right Now. My awesome neighbors lent me fridge space, so I gave them some snacks!

More things! 78, 26, 89 and 41

And here is the second half of the out of date update. Pictures behind the cut! Read more...Collapse )

Christmas Cards, Road Trip and a Jacket

I have a lot to catch up on. Here are a couple. Read more...Collapse )

Ha!

My journal has been hacked by a small person, who would like to tell you all how cute I am in my pajamas.

#4 - Earthquake Kit and some others

A little while ago and picked up some supplies for an earthquake/emergency kit. I ordered a couple of handcrank/micro-USB emergency radios so I think I can now check it off.



I spent some time with Mike last week, playing Arkham Horror. I do love AH, even if it is the most ridiculously over the top Ameritrash game ever. We didn't finish, and it wasn't looking so great for us, but it was still a good night.


On Halloween we watched the classic silent film Nosferatu. Pretty much everything you hear about it is true. It is well done, there is great work done with lighting and establishing shots, Max Schreck is creepy. On the down side, it has several slow points that don't hold your attention well. Overall, well worth watching.
I recently finished catching up with the History of England Podcast. I've been enjoying learning the stories behind some of the names that I knew, like King Cnut, Elanor of Aquitaine and Richard Cœur de Lion. It starts with the Roman retreat, and he has made it as far as the beginning of the reign of Edward III, in 104 more or less weekly episodes. You can tell the guy doing it is having a lot of fun and is really into the subject matter, with just a bit of goodhearted pro-Angle and anti-Franc bias. The first few episodes are a bit rough, but he quickly brings up the quality. He focuses a bit more on the major nobility than I would like, but does dip into major social currents and the life of commoners from time to time. If you're interested in history, particularly the stories of the nobility, check it out.