Norse Runes

I want to learn Norse. The precursor to such languages as Danish, Icelandic, and Swedish.  The two main dialects had diverged by around 1300AD or so into two main groups,  East Norse and West Norse.  East is the Danish/Swedish version and West is the Icelandic/Norwegian.

No matter which way you slice it, I’m pretty much Norse.  My mother’s side is Swedish, my Dad’s side is Scottish, but further back is Dutch, and all those came ultimately from the Norse, so I suppose if I’m going to decide to get obsessive about anything, Norse would be the most logical.

I’m hardly being obsessive for its own sake, though.  I’m trying to develop my Norse personae for the SCA, and in doing that I decided I wanted a better understanding of the language.  There are pages all over the internet where you can find the Norse “alphabet”, called the Futhark (so named after the first six letters of the language.)  This is further split into Elder Futhark and Younger Futhark, and I’m going for the Elder as it has more letters/sounds available.

Anyway, so while I can find the Runic alphabet plastered far and wide, that does nothing to understand the language itself.  So I went looking to see if there was any place to actually learn *Norse* on the internet.  Turns out, there is!  Very basic, of course.  I won’t be composing scientific dissertations in it anytime soon, but as a very rudimentary yet eloquent introduction to the language, I could hardly ask for better.

Of course, I’ve also been trying to memorize the Elder Futhark as well, which isn’t too difficult.  Many of the letters are similar enough to roman letters that it’s easy to make the association.  And I’m finding that reading them in a transliterative style isn’t all that difficult.  In fact, today during a meeting I was trying not to fall asleep in, I ended up making the following doodle:

 

list

…that’s my shopping list.

It says…

Shopping list
_____________
toothpaste
(v)inegar  [there’s actually no ‘v’ in Norse, so I used the ‘w’ instead]
dishsoap
bleach
===========
fabric dye
mustard
deep blue

It doesn’t say these things in actual Norse, of course, merely transliterating English into Norse runes.   But they say the best way to learn a new language is to make it as immersive as possible, and while I can’t exactly pack up and head to Sweden to find someone to chat Norse with me, I can practice reading and writing the letters. 🙂

I’m also doing more hand sewing again, and have sewn a populace badge for my local shire to wear on my belt.  (The SCA branches are split into several types of “chapters”, the smallest ( or one of the smallest) is called a shire. Populace badges are basically heraldry that says “I’m from here”.  Think of it as traveling to another state or country and displaying your home state/country flag as an indication of where you’re from, and that’s the general use of a populace badge in the SCA.)

It so happens that the Shire of Midhaven falls within the mundane county of Skagit in Washington State.  Among other things, we are quite well known for our tulips.  Like, we rival Holland.  Our populace badge for the Shire is, therefore, a tulip.  The tulip itself is white, on a blue background, and bordered on both sides by a white stripe then a black stripe.   I dusted off my applique skills and decided to sew up my badge.

I’m extremely proud to say that every last stitch was done by hand, and the back has a loop for passing my belt through.

Shire of Midhaven populace badge

Shire of Midhaven populace badge

Now that I’ve finished mine, I’m making two more for two of my friends who live here as well.  The second tulip looks much better than this one (it isn’t leaning) so getting better with even the small amount of practice.  The third should be just about perfect at this rate 😀

And in the grand tradition of collecting hobbies, I’m also going to be attempting scribal and illumination arts soon.  I want to take some of my more ‘medievally flavored’ poems and songs and put them onto illuminated scrolls, so more artwork and painting will be in my future, as well as learning calligraphy.  I already have a pen and ink set, so I just need to practice drawing the shapes of the letters.

For those who can’t quite picture what I’m talking about…

This was an award given me by the Baron and Baroness of Dragons Laire (a somewhat larger branch than a shire, and located not too far away.)  The date of AS 41 equates to 2006.  AS stands for ‘anno societatis’ or ‘Year of the Society’ and counts from the beginning of the SCA.

Yep.  I certainly do like collecting hobbies. 😀

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What’s That Smell?

I decided to make incense.  Sort of like how I woke up one morning and decided to make paper, I decided to go around the house and pick yummy smelling things like rosemary, lemon balm, cedar, and lavender flowers and grind them up into incense.

Fresh ingredients: rosemary, lemon balm, cedar, lavender flowers

It wasn’t entirely spontaneous, I had been looking up websites for two days how to do it.   That’s not to say I exactly *followed* most of the instructions, but I did look them up.  The most helpful site (and the one I actually followed closest) was this one, but mostly I just got my mortar and pestle (I’ve always, always wanted a green marble mortar and pestle set, and I finally found one at the thrift store!  And since I don’t know what ever may have been ground it in before, I’ll use it for apothecary endeavors!)

 

Green marble mortar and pestle with dried hibiscus flowers

 

I’m making non-combustible incense (sometimes referred to as incense of the ancients) which means it isn’t shaped into sticks or cones, you can’t just light it and have it smoke.  It’s the pulverized blending of various woods and herbs and left in a semi-powdered form so it must be added to something to make it burn.  You can do this in a variety of ways, either get some incense charcoal disks, put it in an incense warmer, or sprinkle it into a fire (though the fire’s own scent will likely overpower any small amount or mild fragrance so it would take a very strong scent or a lot of it to get this method to work.)

From my beading days, I still have a handful of little sealable bags, so I can store my newly pounded, ground, pounded, ground, pounded and ground herbs, flowers, and woods.  And believe me, it takes a lot of pounding and grinding, especially the cedar bark, to get to a mostly powdered final product.  I may be developing some blisters on my hands, and no doubt my shoulder will remind me of this tomorrow.

Most of the instructions say to blend your ingredients and then wait at least two weeks before burning it for best results, so I won’t – alas – get to test the fruits of my labors for a few more weeks.

Fresh pulverized lavender flowers

 

Along with the fresh ingredients I had around the house, I also have a host of already dried herbs – such as white sage, chamomile, and green tea – or other fresh ingredients – like clover or dandelion – that I’d like to try as well.  But that will have to wait.  My hands are a little raw and I want to heal before I go pounding and grinding and pounding and grinding again.

Lavender, hibiscus, cedar, and rosemary, ready to be stored, tagged with the contents and date of bagging for future reference.

I’ll have to experiment quite a bit between the raw smells and the burning scents they produce, as they aren’t always exactly similar.  I’ll also have to do some experiments with which burn well together, and what ratios I should use, though I suppose if I were smart I’d follow the already tried-and-true recipes found on the internet.  But I like finding these things out for myself!  Besides, there’s too many things I want to try that I don’t think anyone has before.

Or they did try and it failed miserably, which is why you don’t find things like green tea and hibiscus incense.  But I’m going to make it anyway!  I can’t wait!  I hope it turns out okay…

A Sheep Date

This is the poem I had initially intended to write for the poetry prompt yesterday. It needed more than I could give it yesterday, but after a (surprisingly) good night’s sleep, it just flowed out. So this is my ode to my dear friend, and inspired by her picture:

 

https://i2.wp.com/s3.roosterteeth.com/images/BaghdadBean51d239eb475cb.jpg

Picture of my friend, Sgt. “Bean” Clayton, on her ranch.  Reposted with permission.

A Sheep Date

Woolly touch that creates a connection,
A gaze held between two sets of deep eyes, –
Picture of peace, of quiet reflection;
Beauty defined beneath Oregon skies.

A moment’s respite from the herd chasing,
This testament to the animal wife,
With one leg braced, the other embracing –
The shepherdess understands sheep is life.

These are the dreams I desire when I sleep:
Lakota dancing with Navajo sheep.

Photo Challenge

we drink because we’re poets has also issued a photo challenge:

Last week we looked at the Chinese element of Fire…this week we will look at Water…not the Chinese element, which I’ll talk about much later, this time I want just Water.

 

So I would like to humbly submit: water at my house

put words here

Like the cross section of a tree,
You can count the rings
On the sides of my water barrel
Down to the rocks at the bottom.
I’m sure the tomatoes won’t mind
A few rose petals in their drink.

She asked why I believed in angels. I replied, because I've seen them.

She asked why I believed in angels.
I replied, because I’ve seen them.

All the diamonds in the world Would scare suffice When what is longed for Is water and ice.

All the diamonds in the world
Would scare suffice
When what is longed for
Is water and ice.

Rain collects on leaf In the palms of green hands and Strawberry blossoms

Rainfall collected
In the palms of green hands and
Strawberry blossoms

May I interest you in a cup of tea?

May I interest you in a cup of tea?

 

The Ultimate Question

He settled onto the couch to watch the news like he did every night.  I went to the kitchen to make dinner, like I did every night.  I put a pot of water on the stove for the rice and started to chop vegetables for the stir-fry.

“Honey?” he called, “Can you bring me a beer?”

I suppose some people would have had an opinion on that – that I should have told him to get it himself – but it was just how we were.  I never felt like I had to take some kind of indignant stand; and besides, I enjoyed it.   I supposed I’m old fashioned, in my own way.

I made a small tray of sliced meat and cheese and brought it out with his beer to hold him over until dinner was ready.  He gave me a kiss and told me to sit with him for a while but I insisted the rice would burn so I slipped from his needy grasp and went back to the stove; the news was his thing, not mine.  I usually found it too dull or too filled with bad news to be worthwhile.

The vegetables sent up a billow of steam and sizzles as they hit the wok and I stirred quickly before putting the cover on it and checking on the rice.  He had never been much of a rice person before he met me, but I had been raised with it at every meal.  Sometimes the stereotypes are true.  We got the culinary ones out of the way early on; I cooked on our first date.  He teased me about my rice and I said I was fresh out of watermelon.  I asked if he would ever try tofu and he said only if they start making it in fried chicken flavor, and before we knew it we were in love.

My friends said he was too old; his friends said I was a gold digger.  All our friends said we moved way too fast.  I moved into his apartment at four months, and just after a year we found this house.  It was a little more than we had expected to pay, but we took it; he because it was close to work, I because of the kitchen.  The hardwood floors, two bedrooms, and a view of Puget Sound was just the icing on the cake: it was like a dream.  No matter what anyone said, we were happy.  That’s all that really matters, isn’t it?

From the living room I heard a clatter of the plate hitting the floor.  It didn’t sound like it broke, so I just called out to ask if everything was okay.  The answer I got was him rushing into the kitchen and grabbing me around the waist.

He gave me a spin that had me wiggling to get free and protesting his sudden behavior.  Then he knelt down and took my hand and I realized what was going on.  When said those marvelously beautiful words, I knew what had just happened.  “David, will you marry me?”

I confess, I squealed like a six-year-old girl right before I started choking.  Not like a little inhale that catches in your throat, but the kind of choking that makes you double over and gasp for air.  His eyes went wide and he grabbed a glass of water, holding it for me as I tried to take a few sips to wash out whatever had gotten in my throat.

Then he held me close to his chest and repeated his request, words whispered in my ear and sending shivers up my spine.

“Yes, yes of course!” I said, tears streaking down my face which I wiped at in vain.  “Dammit, William!  Yes, I’ll marry you!”

“R74 passed,” he said.

I laughed at that.  “I would have married you any way.”

“I love you,” he said, and I echoed the words back to him before he caught me in a kiss and pressed me back against the counter.  I could tell what was on his mind.  I think mine had already jumped ahead to who I wanted to invite and where it should be held.

The San Juan Islands were beautiful, and how can you beat a ferry ride to kick off the honeymoon?  I was distracted from impromptu wedding plans by his mouth on my neck and I melted into his touch, letting him carry me off.

Twenty minutes later, the fire alarm went off.  I burned the rice.  But of course, I didn’t care.

“There’ll be plenty of rice at the wedding,” he said as we threw opened windows and fanned the smoke from the stove.

“Oh no, that’s bad for the birds,” I said, trying to salvage something of the meal.  “Bubbles.  Let’s have bubbles.”

He came over and closed his hands around mine, drawing them away from the pans.  “Come on.  Let me take you out to dinner.”

I looked into his eyes and said, “Sweetie?  I want kids.”

He laughed and said, “I’m not sure where they serve those.  How about Thai instead?”

“Okay.  But kids, after.”

“Whatever you want for dessert is fine with me,” he said and grabbed our coats.

Some people don’t get us.  But we do, and that’s all that matters.

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To Each Generation, Trials

The woman behind the counter looked intimidating even before I approached the window.  She looked at me over the edge of her bifocals and waved me forward impatiently as the bracelets on her wrist jingled and the flowery blue pattern of her blouse tried to lull me from thinking of her as the first gate – guarded and barred – standing between myself and a marriage.

“May I help you?”

“Um… yes I-”

“Please speak up!”

“I’m here for a marriage license?”

The piece of paper was slapped on the counter and woman used the tip of her pen to point to various boxes, lines and statements.  “You fill this section out; your fiance has to fill this section.  Don’t leave any blanks.  You both have to sign here.  Read these instructions, check this box and both initial here to indicate you have read and understood them-”

“What if we don’t understand them?”  She gave me a look that said volumes: if I didn’t understand them, I had no business getting this piece of paper.  I swallowed hard and said, “Just wondering.”

She ignored the interruption and turned the page over.  “Here is where your two witnesses sign – they can be of any gender – here is for the person officiating, and here is for the notary public.  The notary must witness the signings.   Bring the completed form and a check made out to the City of Colville in the amount of two-hundred and fifty dollars.”  She thrust the paper toward me.  “Any questions?”

I shook my head and she looked around me.  “Next!”

Slinking back from the window, I put the paper in a folder and tucked it into my bag, leaving quickly.  I knew what assumptions the woman had made just by looking at me, and it bothered me.  It bothered me that she thought she knew who I was going to marry.  It bothered me that if she had really known, she’d have refused to give me the paper.  Even knowing the opposition to it being made legal, even knowing what to expect, it still bothered me.

I walked home, mind too filled with thinking to subject myself to the crowd and clamor of the bus.  I walked passed old married couples rocking on front porches and young married couples with children in tow and all I could think of was wanting to look just like them, wanting that pure, sweet love to be mine.

In my mind, I chastised myself saying I already had it.  I had that love; I just couldn’t show it like they did.  I wasn’t allowed to.  Most might just look the other way, but it was those few who wouldn’t just be angry, they’d get violent – those were the ones you always had to look out for.

It wasn’t enough that they had their wives, they had their 2.3 kids and house with white picket fence and 40-hr per week jobs and a car in the driveway.  It wasn’t enough that they had everything they wanted, they still had to keep it from me.  Through their speeches of “You can love whoever you want, but don’t make me agree with it.  Don’t let my kids see it!  They might grow up to do the same thing; you’re corrupting our youth with your unnatural ways!  You can’t call it marriage, it’s an abomination!” they tried to shame me, threaten me, prevent me from living my life just as they lived theirs.  I still didn’t understand how they could feel so threatened.

Was it only my imagination that I felt their eyes on me, judging me even now as I walked faster to get home?  My heart throbbed in my ears until I had shut the door, leaning back against it to shut out the invisible assailants.  And there he was, my David.  Everything in the world I wanted, everything that made my eyes light up and my life worth living.

He scooped me into his arms and kissed me and for that moment, the world was right and nothing else mattered.  But as always, moments pass, as did this one, and I took the folder out of my bag and took the paper out of the folder.

“Are you still sure about this?”

I nodded.

“I love you.”

And that made it enough.  We filled out the paper, checking all the boxes and filling in all the blanks.  Tomorrow it would be legal.  Tomorrow we’d go to the courthouse.

Nothing could ever have prepared me for being in the middle of that angry mob.  I had seen it on TV in other places, but nothing can really make you understand what it feels like to be in the middle it; like standing in the midst of a dry forest that hasn’t seen rain in years, and you can feel the torches closing in around you, a breath from setting you ablaze and nowhere to run.

I had worn a new dress, done up my hair, put on a little makeup and polish, and looking in that mirror, I felt beautiful.  It wasn’t to last.

The crowd was already there when we got out of the car, walking toward the courthouse doors.  There were two police officers by the doors, but it was clear they had no intention of breaking up the mob.  My eyes were fixed on those doors, though, and I gripped his hand as we started to walk.

There were signs telling us how much God hated us, how we’d burn in hell.  Signs saying we were abominations.  Women screaming insults tried to block our path but I just kept walking forward.  Someone spit on me, someone poured a drink over my head, someone hit me with an apple.  I kept walking.  Someone ripped the veil off my head, someone tried to hit me.  I knew the whole time he was getting it worse, sheltering me as much as he could.  I kept walking.

By the time we reached the doors, I looked more like a victim than a bride.  The crowd stayed just at the edge of the steps; seemingly they had been warned ahead they could abuse us as much as they wanted outside, but if we went inside they had to stop.  Looking back at the crowd, I couldn’t help the tears that formed as David urged me inside.

The police stayed at their positions, but I could see the contempt in their eyes as we passed.  It was hard knowing that if I had been marrying another woman, they wouldn’t have cared one way or the other, but because I was marrying a white man, I might as well have been the devil himself, and then remembering that only sixty short years ago, they were where I was.  I didn’t understand why they couldn’t support us now, why they had forgotten already how hard they struggled for their own equality, only to help in denying us ours.

I prayed that my children would be raised in a nation where it didn’t matter the color of your skin, it only mattered how much you loved one another.

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Weekend Watercolor

I painted this weekend.  Quite a bit.  I’ve scanned my favorite 5 in to share.

Red Trees

I really like this pallet.  The reds and golds have captured my interest, which is why this is now the third iteration of this particular pallet.

Irish Mother Earth

A gift for my sister.  She loved my Mother Earth painting so much, I painted one just for her, with her Scot/Irish red hair.

Navajo Churro Sheep

A dear friend of mine raises Navajo Churro sheep.  They’re absolutely gorgeous!  If I had a spinning wheel I’d buy pounds of it to spin!  As it is, I’ll have to console myself for now with just painting pictures of them.

Palm Sunset

Generic sunset from a tropical beach.  Showing this now, but it was an offshoot of the inspiration for the next picture, because I want to save the best for last:

Concrete Sunrise

This.  This is my favorite so far.  This was the view out my kitchen window this morning at 6:30 AM when I went down to get a glass of water.  The sun was still behind the mountains, but the sky was just beginning to grow light, and the trees and hills were perfectly silhouetted against it in black.  It was so beautiful I immediately went back upstairs and started to paint it.