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20 July 2014 @ 10:11 am
are up to when not attending SCA stuff.

These days only a handful of people on my friend's list still post, and I find that I miss reading those sorts of posts. I suspect that there are still SCA people using LJ, but I don't happen to have them on my friends list. If you are still here, and would be ok with a long-time SCAadian, currently living in Drachenwald, reading your journal please comment here, or, if you prefer send me a private message, or add me to your friend's list.


PS, I will post this on the few SCA LJ communities I a member of, even though all have been quiet for ages, in hopes that there is someone out there listening. My apologies to those of you who will thus see it multiple times. However, if any of you know SCA people who aren't a member of any of those communities, yet still post regularly, feel free to ask them if I can add them to my list...
19 July 2014 @ 10:05 pm
It turns out that we are taking turns getting hurt working around the house. On Wednesday lord_kjar and I finally had time and energy to do some work for the earth cellar project, so we filled in dirt and gravel behind the walls that we had built up before the Medieval Days at Hängnan, and then we moved a few large rocks into the places they will go so that we could concrete them into place the next day. We were nearly done for the day, and decided to move one medium sized rock (read just small enough that he can lift it, so long as he is careful about technique), to the place between the stairs and the door for the earth cellar.

That spot isn't under the large wooden frame we have set up over the wall in progress, so we couldn't use the pulley system that we have been using to move the large stones into place, and, since the rock was that small, it didn't seem worth using the tractor. Therefore he just picked it up and started moving it into place. I asked if he wanted help, but he didn't reply and kept moving.

A few seconds later, as it was nearly where he was going to put it, it slipped out of his gloved hands, fell away from him, bounced off of the large rock it was going to be put next to, and then back towards him, catching the end of the middle finger of his left hand between that rock and the large one on the other side. Luckily, it only bounced off of him and continued its slide into the spot it was being aimed at, so he didn't get caught between the rocks (and he had already been pulling his hands up and away the second it started falling, so it only hit the end of the one finger). Also luckily, nothing was broken, and it looks like he may get to keep the finger nail. We got ice onto it right away, and there was a bit of bleeding from alongside the nail (which is good, because that meant there wasn't a lot of painful swelling under the nail, since the blood had somewhere to go).

It is healing fine, and while he still can't do things like play violin (which requires a fair bit of pressure on exactly that part of that finger), he was able to do other projects around the house today, so long as he was careful not to bump that finger.

So he spent a chunk of today driving tractor and moving stones around. We have finally started building up the flat area near the driveway where we will be putting that new out building we bought last autumn. So he has driven up a fair few large stones to surround the area and hold the dirt in, and then he filled in the area with many scoops of dirt till it looked around large enough and kind of level. Then we carried over the bottom four logs for the shed and laid them more or less into place, putting the ends on piles of stone till we found the right height to make them all level. This gives him a good visual to know how much more dirt needs to be brought up to finish making the under-floor area.

However, in the process it was my turn to hurt myself. Because of his injured hand he was carrying his end of the logs one-handed. They are not small logs, so I needed both hands to hold them against my waist as we walked. Sadly, one of the logs wasn't balanced well for either of us, and started to roll/slip. As a result he lost his one-handed grip and that end fell to the ground, which caused my end to first fall from where I had been holding it against my waist down to my hip, where it landed with sufficient painful force as to make me let go of it and let it fall to the ground.

I fetched one of those little blue ice box things from the freezer, tucked it into the waist band of my trousers, and we finished up the job. It doesn't hurt at all at the moment (three hours later), so long as I don't try to move any muscles connected to the hip. However, I have been fighting off some sort of cold for a couple of days--it hasn't gotten bad enough to be bothersome, but today my body wants to cough a bit, but every time I try the abdominal muscles pull on the bruised area on my hip, and it hurts. I predict that tonight's yoga will be interesting.

However, if all goes well tomorrow, we will be able to do that concreting of those stones that have been waiting patiently for us since Wednesday. If only it weren't so hot...
19 July 2014 @ 01:06 am
Our field has a fair bit of chamomile growing on it, especially in the area where the tractor did lots of driving during last summer's edition of working on the earth cellar. Since some of it had started to flower by the time we got back from the Medeltidsdagnara I decided to try picking it and drying it in the food dehydrator. Therefore I asked Google, who said one just plucks the flower heads off the steams with one's fingers. This sounded simple, so I gave it a try. What Google failed to mention was that in our yard many of the chamomile plant stems and flower undersides are home to an amazing amount of tiny black bugs. This resulted in my fingers turning a brownish black from all of the squished bugs. Have I mentioned that I am not only squeamish, I also have a minor phobia about squished bugs? EWEEWWWWWW! I cannot recommend picking chamomile with one's bare fingers.

Luckily, if one then puts the flower heads into the salad spinner and fills it with water, then drains it and re fills it a number of times (plus adding a fair bit of salt to the first batch of water, since Google said that was a good way to kill any bugs that might be on the flowers) it doesn't take long before all of the little bugs are gone. Then I could spread the flowers in the food dehydrator, and about 8 hours later (perhaps some amount less--I kind of forgot to check again late in the day) I had nice dried flowers, which I have put into a glass jar for storage. I also made some tea, which tasted fine.

When I complained to lord_kjar about the grossness factor of getting squished bugs on my fingers (never mind that they are so tiny one can't actually distinguish their bodies) he suggested trying the berry picker. This sounded like a good idea, so today, after the batch of stinging nettles I had in the food dehydrator had finished drying I went out to the field again, this time armed with a berry picker with closely spaced metal tines. That worked perfectly! It easily plucks the heads off of the flowers (often more than one at time, depending on how close together they are), and it leaves most of the bugs on the stem, which is much narrower than the spacing of the tines. It still took several rinses to be certain that the flowers are bug free, but so long as I don't see any squished bugs, I am ok with that.

This week's harvest now totals: two batches dried chamomile, two batches of dried nettles, one batch of nettles in today's soup, and some number if fresh strawberries and smultrons eaten. The berries are only just getting going, so until today I have managed to eat everything that is ripe without bothering to bring it into the house. I could have done that today, but decided that it is time to start freezing the strawberries, so the half of a yoghurt bucket of strawberries went into the freezer and the smultrons (wild strawberries) went into my muesli for breakfast. Yum! It will be a while yet before the raspberries or black currents are ready...
Today was reasonably productive--I managed to finish putting away everything from the event, did four loads of laundry, and spent a fair bit of time on projects.

This morning's project was replacing the (somewhat embarrassing) paper and duct tape liner for the nice wooden box in which we keep pins with one made of wool. I had made the paper one right after we bought the box, so that the pins wouldn't scratch up the wood, and to have something between the pins and the hard drive magnets we use to keep them in the box. Now the magnets are sandwiched between two layers of wool, and the box is fully lined. This took just over an hour and was clearly a task that I could have done at any point in the last year or so, but I had so much other stuff that really was more urgent, so I never got to it.

I also put in another hour or so stitching on my beard--the bottom part of my chin is now nicely covered. It is starting to look like it really will be possible to finish this before the event I need it for (just over a month from today).

And this evening I finally managed to start the embroidery part of the embroidered applique that is going onto the sexy viking cloak I started sometime before November of 2012 (I know this because that was the month I mentioned the "cloak in progress" in an email to a friend). I have no idea how many hours the first few steps of the cloak took (basting the lining to the main fabric, sewing the tablet woven trim to the cloak edge, and doing a tipple row of decorative running stitch around the edge of the fabric), but so far I have put in about eight hours into the embellishment, just over three of which were spent embroidering the face onto the cat.

I also watered the berries and ate the 10 or 20 smultrons (wild strawberries) that have ripened in our yard. Yum!

lord_kjar was also productive today. It was his first day back to work after his summer vacation, and while there he got to talking to one of his colleagues, who has been doing a major project in his yard. The colleague has had a problem with deep puddles forming on his yard every time it rains, in part due to the clay rich soil and regolith in his yard. Therefore he has installed a drainage system, and in the progress generated a large pile of dirt, stones, etc. that he wanted to get rid of. He had planned on shoveling it onto his trailer and hauling it to the part of the tip (or "dump" for the Americans who read this) one load at a time. However, that was going to take a long time, since he would need to load the trailer one day after work, haul away that load the next, and then repeat. So lord_kjar said that he would be willing to bring the tractor over and help out, in exchange for being able to take the dirt back to our place instead of sending it to the tip.

Therefore, as soon as he finished eating dinner today he attached the giant trailer to the tractor and drove off. He returned a couple of hours later and dumped the dirt (which totally filled the giant trailer!) onto the area that we plan to put the new shed once we re-assemble it. He would have promptly smoothed out that pile, but I noticed that there is a bunch of still green sheets of grass in the pile, and the part of our yard we leveled last autumn still doesn't have much grass growing on it, so I suggested we wait and give me a chance to rescue the newly imported grass and see if it is willing to grow in our yard.

His timing was perfect though--after he dumped the load the storm that had been threatening to arrived started rolling in. I had just enough time to sweep the last traces of dirt from the bed of the trailer before it started raining (with thunder and lightening) hard enough that had the dirt still been in the trailer it would have quickly become mud. So we went inside, and shut off the computers so that any electricity surges from the storm wouldn't be an issue, and he took a nap while I did the above mentioned embroidery.

Now it is way past any reasonable bed time, so I should put down the computer and do my yoga (which will be my first exercise of the day--I appear to have forgotten the plan to go for a walk) so that I can head to bed and get some sleep.
13 July 2014 @ 11:36 pm
This week I have been at the Medeltidsdagar held at Hängnan, the open-air museum located a 7 minute drive from my house. This is a fun event that is an interesting mix between an SCA event and a public demo, and it is put on by both the SCA and LARP groups in the region, who join forces to provide lots of entertainment for the visiting public during the days, followed by our own stuff in the evenings. (Note that the membership lists for the SCA and the LARP groups up here have a very large overlap, so it can be hard to tell that there really are multiple groups involved in this event.)
the four-day event was lots of fun, despite the heatCollapse )
While we were sitting at the feasting table Saturday night the conversation somehow turned a direction that caused me to say "I want a minion!", whereupon the 19 year old across the table said something to the effect of "I could do that", and I happily sent him to fetch and carry stuff the rest of the event. Of course, being me, I am not just taking advantage of his youth, energy, and enthusiasm to accomplish stuff, but I am also taking care of him. He had had a minor eye injury some time back that has resulted in his eye getting tired and sore towards the end of the day, so that he has to close his eye (which gives him a somewhat silly resemblance to Odin). This caused me to remember making eye patches for the pirate-themed birthday we attended the first year I was in Sweden, and to further remember that I had tucked mine into my SCA jewelry box.

Since it was right about the time of transition between too hot out to wear wool, to cooler temps and the advent of the evening mosquitoes I went back to the tent to add some more clothes and while there checked the box. Sure enough, I still had the eye patch, so I brought it back to the feast and gave it to my minion. However, making it fit him involved needing to send him back to my tent to get the sewing bag, so that I could use a needle to thread a new, longer, piece of yarn through the wool patch (my head is much smaller than his), and then sending him back to the tent afterwards to put the bag away. He hadn't thought of using an eye patch before, but was pleased to report that his eye felt better fairly quickly after using it, since the eye could truly relax.

Since he is a good minion, and eager to be useful I decided that I need to be a good master and provide him useful SCA stuff too. Luckily he is short and slender, so I was able to provide the next minion perk straight away after the event. I hadn't brought one of my older tunics (seen in this photo) to the event, since I don't wear it often anymore, since it is so loose on me. It is made of a lovely linen twill, and the embroidery (which doesn't really show in that photo) on the neckline is a knot-work Viking style dragon in green split stitch.

I thought it would probably fit my minion, so I asked his driver if he would be willing to do the short detour to my house to see if it would fit. Since they had a three hour drive to get home the driver was perfectly willing to do a 7 minute detour, and they followed us home after the event, where I cooked up a quick pot of soup for everyone (and the driver lay down in the guest bed for a nap while it was cooking). It turns out the tunic fits my minion as though it had been made for him, and I am pleased to give it to him. However, I did attach a catch--if he ever cuts his hair off, he has to give back the tunic.

This is because over the course of the weekend the topic of him contemplating cutting off his hair had come up on a number of occasions, and every time it did everyone present said "No!!" (especially me). The boy has incredibly thick curly beautiful long brown hair that is even thicker and nicer than clovis_t's hair was when I first met him. (I compared--I divided the minion's hair in half, and half again, and it wasn't till it was in sixths that all of my hair combines to a thicker rope than just one section of his.) He is, of course, welcome to do what he wants, but there will be more consequences than just getting short hair (which, in my world, is quite a bit of punishment already) if he does cut it.
The past few days have been a nice mix of relaxing and productive. We have put in 2 to 4 hours a day on the earth cellar. Adding such large stones to the walls means rapid progress in height with not so much time needed, and, assuming that we do a bit more today, we can easily get the wall on the up-hill side pretty much done before we depart for the local Medieval Days tomorrow. This is a good thing, since there had been a fair bit of erosion this spring with dirt falling into the hole from the sides, and I would prefer that we don't lose enough to put the flag pole into danger of falling before we finish this project.

Luckily, we were smart enough last autumn to cover the walls and the band of gravel fill behind the wall and before the dirt with plastic tarps. This means that all of the dirt that fell landed on the tarp, and has not worked its way into the gravel. We have decided to keep the tarp--it will remain as a divider between the gravel and dirt all the way up. This makes working on it easy--we fold the tarp back over the dirt as we add more stones to the walls, and as soon as a layer of stone is in place we add gravel between the stone and the tarp, and dirt between the tarp and the part of the ground that wasn't disturbed when we dug the hole.

Granted, there is no guarantee we will work on that project today, since we also need to finish preparing for the Medieval days. I baked buttermilk flatbread (starting with churning butter from cream) the other day, and today I want to make some hais, so that I have snacks to eat at the event. I also need to print the forms for the A&S display/contest as well as pack garb and projects for the event. At least the event is close enough (4 km by way of the forest trail, or 7 if we take the car, which we will, since we have so much to carry), that we don't have to worry about packing--we just take one load over, set up the pavilion, then go back for the next load...

I plan to keep my phone on airplane mode the whole week, so that the battery lasts and I can keep using the log program and consult the calender as to when I should be where. But this means that not only will I not see email or other internet messages till I get home, I also won't get text messages or phone calls. But then, no one ever calls me anyway, save for people who will be on site, so it should be fine.
04 July 2014 @ 12:13 am
We aren't doing any real travel this summer, but we did start lord_kjar's summer vacation with some short adventures. His summer holiday started last week Monday, and he spent the first two days being one of the folk musicians being filmed playing music etc. for a movie (I used the time to finish that paper, which I already mentioned here). Then we had a couple of days mostly at home, doing various tasks getting ready for the big projects we wanted to accomplish this summer (but he got called into the office to help out for a bit of that time, anyway--the disadvantage of not actually traveling during one's vacation--they can still reach you at need).

Then on Thursday, after we spent the morning cementing a large stone into the earth cellar wall, we hopped into the car and drove to Tällberg, a tiny village nearly as far south as Skellefteå, and a bit inland. These days the village is mostly summer houses belonging to one family, but back before the 1930's people lived there year round. Apparently in the 1930's the government paid farmers to give up their farms and move to the cities, so that there would be more workers available for the factories. This village was one where people took the offer, and then, years later, when the forest service decided to sell the houses, the family bought them back to be used as summer cottages. We know some of the younger people in that family from the SCA and "Lajv" (LARP.

These guys were some of the first to do Lajv in northern Sweden, and, since their family had a bit of land, they decided to build a(nother) village on that land upon which to hold events. Every so often they get their hands on an old timber house that someone else wants to get rid of cheap (or sometimes free if you haul it away), and they add another house to the Lajv village. This year is one of the years they are building a new house, and we were invited down to join them.

Since this sounded like fun to us, so we spent from Thursday afternoon through to Sunday afternoon living in one of their summer houses in the original village, and most of those days, walking the 1 km up the road to the Lajv village to work on the new house in progress. The others spent hours there each day building, but I only did a little work there--the rest of the time I spent at the summer house working on sewing more hair to my beard that I need for the Viking-themed Lajv event that will be held on this site in August. Since I was based at the house I also made time to cook meals for the others, so that food was ready when they got home from a day of building, and I think they appreciated it.

In addition to those projects we also went into Skellefteå twice that trip. Friday night three of us went in to the opening concert for the Spelmanstämman (gathering of musicians). lord_kjar joined the other musicians from the Luleå nyckleharpa group, and they were the second performance of the evening (the other two of us in the car for that evening just enjoyed the show (and, of course, I worked on a sewing project whilst I listened).

That concert was held in a large church, which has some statues from the Middle Ages. One of which was a Madonna (long since missing the babe in her arms, along with the hands that once held him), who dates from the 12th Century, and is wearing a bliaut! I didn't expect to see such a statue in northern Sweden, though the church flyer says that particular statue "probably comes from Germany".

The next day we returned to the church because a friend of ours was doing her confirmation, and everyone staying at the summer house (five of us), agreed to go to that and then check out the market at the Spelmanstämnan. I was not very comfortable attending a religious ceremony, but since we were in a group, and I had sewing to work on, I opted to sit with them and stitch. Granted, I stitched for part of the time, then went out to the car, got some food from the ice chest and enjoyed second breakfast, and then wandered back in after I got cold (it was windy that day) and stitched a bit more before the event was over. Then our group joined the family of the girl getting confirmed for fika at the cafe on the cute little island near the church before heading to the old town for the market. It was nice to see everyone, and fun to visit with them all.

Our plan had been to come home Sunday evening, but by Sunday morning I was itching to head home and get to work on the earth cellar again. I suggested this, but lord_kjar really wanted to stay and keep building the timber house. Therefore we compromised and stayed till lunch, and then we headed home.

For the trip south we had taking the main highway south, then turned inland to the Tällberg. However, for the return trip we decided to take the scenic route by following the little dirt road upon which the village is located further inland until it hit a paved road, and then took that road north. This village isn't that far south from Hemmingsmark, the village where lord_kjar grew up, so it was easy for him to guess correctly at each intersection we then came to, since all were labeled with the name of the next town or village one would come to, and he recognized all of the names. But I am glad he was driving, since it took several roads before I recognized the name of a village.

It turns out that going that way takes only 1 hour and 34 minutes, which was surprisingly quick, considering that taking the highway (which has faster speed limits) all the way to Skellefteå takes about 2 hours. However, while one can't drive as quickly on the little roads, it is a more direct path than the highway, which tends to follow the coast line.
01 July 2014 @ 12:05 am
Today has been productive. Since I came home from our mini vacation (remind me to post about that later--it deserves its own write-up) with an email from my colleagues at the Mine saying that they were happy with the paper draft and I could go ahead and submit it to the journal I spent the morning at the office. It took about 3.5 hours to get the submission togetherCollapse )
Then I biked home and lord_kjar and I added re-bar to the frame for a concrete slab in the shed (which we had build the day before). The slab will be holding the huge lathe that we got from his dad when we picked up the tractor and the huge trailer. It has been sitting in our carport awaiting its move to its permanent home, so we are finally preparing said home for it so that we can get our carport back.

After that we counted the bags of concrete we had available, agreed that the 18 bags are NOT enough for that lathe base, and drove to the store to get more. Last time we did this be borrowed a trailer from the store, they loaded half a pallet worth of concrete bags (20 of them) onto the trailer and charged us about 1000 SEK to take them home (it isn't an option to put more than 1/2 a pallet worth of concrete onto the trailer at once). This time they said that they are out of that size bag, but if we want there are huge bags available. The huge bags hold the equivalent of a full pallet worth of the small bags, and so is much too big to put onto one of their trailers.

Therefore we went home and he got the tractor and huge trailer and went back to the store, while I took a nap. I slept for nearly an hour, and woke up on time to make a serving of oatmeal in the microwave and start eating it before he got back. Luckily, I was able to finish eating in the time it took for him to lift the bag off of the trailer and get it moved onto a pallet so that we could carry it into the shed. (He could lift it down using the carrying straps it comes with to dangle it from the forks, but the door to the shed isn't high enough to put the bag, which was well more than waist height, and as wide as a pallet, through like that, so instead he carried it on the forks from underneath.)

By this time it was 17:00, so rather than stopping to cook him dinner too, we opted to start to work straight away, since we wanted to be done with it before it got so late that the noise of the concrete mixer was too much.

We quickly settled into a routine: I would fill two small buckets (the kind they sell for normal house cleaning tasks) with dry concrete. He would pour them into the concrete mixer, and I would start filling the buckets back up again while he added water to the mixer. I normally had time to fill one of the two buckets before he had added enough water, and then we would carry together the large concrete bucket into the shed and dump it into the form. Then I would go back to the other shed and fill the second small bucket with more dry concrete while he spread out, shook, and smoothed the concrete we had just added. He normally finished that task about the time I had finished filling the small buckets, and we would dump out the wet concrete into the large bucket and set it aside while he emptied the next two dry buckets into the mixer and the whole process repeated again.

It took 27.5 batches of concrete done this way to completely fill the frame we had prepared, and now it is happily drying. In a few days we will have the fun of trying to get the huge lathe through that small shed door and onto the platform. That last half batch we used to start cementing together bricks to create a back wall to the large concrete rings that have been built into the earth cellar walls as interior cabinets. By the time we had done that and cleaned up 4 hour and ten minutes had elapsed since starting.

If I were sensible I would have called it a day there. But no, instead I took a shower, baked a cake, washed the mixing dishes while it baked, and started a load of laundry. That laundry should be done in another 15 minutes, and then after I hang it to dry I can do my yoga and head to bed. Tomorrow I need to re-do the submission again--somehow I missed out noticing that I need to add my own damn line numbers to the document--they don't do it for me (by the time I saw the email saying so I was too tired to turn on the work computer and deal with it) and he needs to do some work as well--one of his colleagues needs to fix some computer stuff on a system that can't be shut down whilst fixing it, and since lord_kjar has way more experience with that type of job than the colleague, he agreed to give up a bit of vacation time to help out.

Then we can get back to work on the Earth Cellar in progress while we wait for today's concrete to finish drying.