Archive for November, 2016

Regular readers of this little corner of madness will be aware that I’m a historical re-enactor. As part of that, my husband and I have a small business that caters to our fellow re-enactors. It’s little more than a hobby right now, with just enough income to pay for our supplies and attendance at events. Sometimes we come home with a little more than expenses and that goes into the kitty for as-yet-to-be-determined outlays.

The hubby plays with metal. He’s a blacksmith who uses a charcoal forge and beats steel into submission. He makes all sorts of camp necessities such as stakes and hooks; accessories for open fire cooking like tripods, trammels, and utensils; armor bits (we do pre-1600 Europe); and just about anything else he can think of. His long term goal is to move into larger items like doors, gates, and stair railings and work full time for himself. The biggest obstacle to that is work space, or lack there of. Working out of a residential garage in SoCal suburbia doesn’t exactly lend itself to expansive projects. So he putters away at what he can for now, as we work toward our long-term goal of leaving California. Here are some of his projects:

Decorative items:


Hand hammered broaches in brass.



Hand hammered broaches in copper & chainmail chain in mild steel.



Twisted torc in mild steel.



Simple penannular broach in mild steel.


Camp items:


“Portable hole” in rebar and mild steel. Because the gophers never put a hole where you need it.



“Gravity hook” in mild steel. The jaw goes around a tent pole and then you can hang items like a lantern or coat from the hook.



Ridge pole hook in mild steel.





Trammel in mild steel. Large hook over a horizontal pole and hang your cooking pot from the small hook. Adjust up or down using the holes. The closer to the fire, the hotter the temperature.



Long handled soup ladle in mild steel.



Long handled strainer in mild steel.




Simple elbow cops (armor for your elbow joint) in mild steel.



Viking boss (hand protection for a shield) in mild steel.




Blacksmith tongs in mild steel.


And while my husband is outside playing with metal, I’m inside playing with string. I do various forms of needlework (cross stitch, black work, embroidery), and narrow-wares weaving working a lot in wool and silk because those were the primary fibers in our period of study. I sew our costumes using mostly linen and cotton because they are so much nicer to wear in our lovely desert climate than wool would be. I call myself a survivalist seamstress – I sew well enough to do basic garments, but don’t have the talent or desire for the more complicated stuff like full Elizabethans or Landsknechts. Here are some of my favorite projects:



Cross stitched game board in cotton.



Blackwork pouch on linen in silk with glass beads.



Blackwork pouch in cotton.



Cross stitch with cotton on linen. Viking apron for my wedding dress (still in progress 14 years later!).



Embroidery in and on cotton. I braid all my own cords and make all my tassels.



Cross stitch in and on cotton. Pouch, bookmark, needle book and scissor fob. Braids and tassels hand made in cotton also.




“Patriotic” belt tablet woven with wool.



“Spider” belt tablet woven with wool.



“Strawberry” belt tablet woven in wool.



“Fishy” belt tablet woven in cotton.



“Diamonds” trim tablet woven in silk.



“Ladder” trim tablet woven in wool.



Chirurgeon’s (Medic) belt tablet woven in cotton.



“Flaming Squire” belt tablet woven in wool.



Special projects:


Large pouch embroidered and cross stitched in and on cotton. Donated for a raffle at specific event.



Large pouch embroidered in and on cotton, with appliqué. Donated for a raffle at specific event.



So that’s some examples of how we avoid the real world around here. Hope you enjoyed them. I’m off to my next project, already overdue, of course, but, hey – I’m an Artiste!




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It’s been a bitch of a year. Spend your time with family and friends, instead of spending your dollars on material goods. No one gets out of here alive, and it could be over in an instant. Don’t squander the one thing you have to give that is second only to love. Give the gift of your time to the people that really matter, not the CEOs…


No Shopping on Thanksgiving


Happy Holidays and Blessed Be.

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When last we saw our intrepid explorer, it was the middle of May. Plans had been made for the Memorial Day weekend. Bills were paid. Car was running. Life was offering us a plateau, a little downtime from the bullshit of the last few years.

I should have known better…


A few days after I posted my last May entry, I get a call from my husband in the middle of the morning. He carries a gun for a living, so I always worry about such calls. But since he was actually on the line, and not his boss or the police, I figured it couldn’t be too bad. He tells me he has been hurt in a work-related vehicle accident, and he’ll be heading home once all the paperwork is handled. Just a little banged up, nothing serious, he says. Relieved that he didn’t have to prove his marksmanship on some idiot who’s watched too many heist movies, I get myself out of bed (did I mention I’m not a morning person?), and pull myself together so I can handle whatever’s coming. Because, much like Monty Python’s Black Knight, men never accept the full extent of their injuries, and my former Marine is a big baby when it comes to pain.

I get another call a couple hours later. He’s finally made it home, but needs help getting out of our truck. Forcing myself out into the microwave that is Southern California, I meet my husband at the driver’s side door, where he is oozing out with the grace and agility of a sloth on downers crawling through molasses. His left arm is purple from wrist to nearly shoulder, and swollen to the point of bursting. He’s hugging it close to his body. Forcing one of those “I’m so fucked up” smiles, he says the adrenaline has finally worn off and he’s hurting more than he expected. He has paperwork for the worker’s comp clinic. Being my usual supportive self, I tell him he’s an idiot for not allowing the emergency personnel to transport him from the accident site. One of the best trauma hospitals in California was just a few miles away from there. He was worried that it would cause too much of a problem for me, as the hospital is over sixty miles from home one direction, and our only working vehicle was parked at his office twenty miles from home in the exact opposite direction. We’ve been together over fifteen years and he still hasn’t figured out that I’m a big girl who can problem solve better than most.


So we go into the house and I help him get out of his gear. He can barely move in any direction and breathing is nearly out of the question. We shuffle back out to the truck and I drive as carefully as I can to the clinic. Every tiny bump or shift causes him fiery pain. The clinic is in better condition than most workers’ comp places I’ve seen, but that’s not really saying much. He has to stand because the waiting room chairs are made for midgets and there’s no way he could get out of one once he was in it.

There’s only a physician’s assistant on duty. And while the PA is careful with his enunciation, his English is still difficult to understand. To his credit, a couple questions into the evaluation and he realizes they can’t help my hubby there. They are used to handling cuts, abrasions, and sprains – the usual work related injuries. The PA suspects broken ribs. He says we need to go to the emergency room. Back to the truck we go.

By the time we reach the hospital, it has been over five hours since the accident, and my husband has had no pain medication, no food, and no help. It’s almost an hour before they take him back to be evaluated. They ask me to stay in the waiting room while they get him situated. I wait another hour. When I finally get back to him, he’s hooked up to an IV, a heart monitor, has had x-rays and a CT scan, and tells me they’re going to admit him. Yup, it’s broken ribs, plus there appears to be minor damage to the left lung they want to keep their eyes on for at least overnight. This will make his third hospital stay in four years. I put on my brave face but inside I’m ready to throw up from the stress.


The accident happened when a Lexus SUV driving way too much over the posted speed limit plowed into the side of my husband’s work truck. He was a passenger in the back of the truck, where there are no windows, so he had no idea what was about to happen as his partner pulled out of a driveway and into the travel lanes. The force of the impact was so great, the truck – in the neighborhood of 20,000lbs. GVW – spun across two lanes of traffic, a center turn lane, two more traffic lanes, and bounced to a stop on the opposite side of the road. My husband was bounced pretty badly, too. He was sitting in the delivery seat, belt engaged, doing inventory stuff when he was flung sideways into the crash cage around the seat. There are only a few inches between him and the cage, plus he’s 6’3” and 300+lbs, so you’d think any sort of damage would be minimal. You’d be wrong.

The impact was so sudden and violent, body meeting crash cage resulted in multiple broken ribs, bruises shoulder to knee, and a contusion on his left elbow that immediately swelled up to the size of a grapefruit and turned all sorts of purple. His arm had been caught between him and the cage, causing essentially crush damage to both it and his ribs. X-rays showed no breaks in the arm, but the ribs were another matter. They weren’t just simple breaks. They were misaligned pieces of gravel at multiple points on multiple ribs front and back. The doctor called them comminuted fractures. And there wasn’t jack-shit that could be done to help them heal beyond sitting around and waiting.

The hospital released him the next day with a prescription for Percocet and told him to see his regular physician. After a few calls and a little finagling, we were able to get him set up with the occupational health specialist in our family doctor’s medical group. The workers’ comp adjuster was actually nice and knowledgeable and willing to work with us. Since hubby was admitted to the hospital, the payments would start immediately, instead of the usual seven-day waiting period. When you’re surviving on only one person’s paycheck, that week makes a huge difference.


So we began a four-month odyssey into Fix the Broken Marine. Sadly for my husband, he doesn’t have the receptors most people have for narcotics. That means all the usual prescribed pain relievers did nothing for him. A mixed blessing, I suppose, given the spike in opioid overdoses these last few years (“By The Numbers” – Department of Health and Human Services). But that left him with just prescription-strength Motrin and time to wade through it. He spent the first six weeks sleeping sitting upright in his office chair, feet up on another chair, arm in a sling, bi-pap machine hooked up to a battery because it was just easier than crawling around under desks to try and find a power outlet.

The pain kept him from being able to do just about anything. If you’ve never had broken ribs, just try to imagine every breath, every movement, every pulse of blood through your veins sending fiery pain through out your system. Anything he wanted or needed, I had to get for him or do for him. He is not a demanding patient – in fact, he probably did much more than he should have for himself. But it still took a big chunk out of my day to make sure he was taken care of, and sent our summer plans packing into the great dumpster of Shit Happens.

It was the last week of August before the doctor released him to (severely) restricted duty for work. It was another month before he was finally released for full duty. Over four months from the initial injury, because ribs turned to pea gravel take their sweet-assed time healing in middle-aged men. Thankfully, worker’s comp handled all the expenses for doctors’ visits, prescriptions, therapy, and even the mileage related to all those things, as well as covering lost wages, so we weren’t out anything tangible. Just time. And a little sanity, because here he was home all day without the slightest chance of being out in the garage playing with his anvil, so the Internet and the wife had to keep him occupied. We ended up woefully behind in production for our side business, but we had some great conversations while he recouped, and that’s far more important to me.

So, yeah, 2016 will go down in history for major suckage. Should have known it would when David Bowie returned to the mother ship. He always was several steps ahead of the rest of us…


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In my thirty-seven years of participating in the United States democratic process, I have been satisfied with some results and disappointed with others. Never have I been sick-to-my-stomach-afraid. Until now.crowd-of-purple-minions

Afraid for my LGBTQ friends.

Afraid for my friends of color.

Afraid for all of us women.

Afraid for our veterans.

Afraid for our seniors.

Afraid for us non-Christians.

Afraid for the homeless, and the mentally ill, and the disadvantaged, and the drought stricken parts of the planet where climate change is doing its worst damage because it snowed in New York so it’s all really just a liberal hoax.

Afraid the majority made a terrible mistake.

I know there are those among my circles of family and friends that don’t understand why I feel this way. They are convinced the right choice was made. They see a savvy business entrepreneur where I see a vacuous conman. They see a return to “traditional values,” where I see a regression in human rights. They see a bright future led by a charismatic leader, where I see Germany in the 1930’s. They see me being a liberal stooge who has bought into the rhetoric of a stronger tomorrow together, and I see them buying into the hateful conspiracy theories force fed them by the liars at False News. Neither side seems to be able to see the middle ground.

I was hoping for the universe of Star Trek, but instead we’re getting the Hunger Games. All the people who literally died to help gain equal rights for women, minorities, and the LGBTQ community are spinning in their graves right now.

I’m sorry if you’re one of the people who can’t see why what just happened here is scary as shit. I’m sorry facts mean nothing anymore, why screaming a lie at the top of your voice over and over again carries more meaning than the truth brought out over years and millions of dollars worth of investigations. I’m sorry hate and fear and anger seems to have won out over love and hopefulness and kindness.

My husband has said this is just the death throw of the extreme conservative right, kicking and screaming on their way out the door. He may be right, but I’m looking at 50 years of civil progress that could be undone in the next few years by those kicks and screams – as people who believe in gay conversion therapy, that women should be punished for having an abortion but the guy who was also involved goes on his way unharmed, that God wrote the Constitution, are now in charge. If you’re a white, Christian male, you’ll be fine. But I wanted EVERYBODY to be fine, and this year’s election results leave little hope of that.

So I’m going to be afraid and angry for a while. I’m going to hug all my friends and family who may be threatened by the Trumpocalypse, and cry a little to wash all the anxiety chemicals away.

But I won’t just lie down and take it. I’m a writer, and words have power. And this Crone will be using her power for good. It’s even more important now that we stick together and voice our beliefs and fight for what we think is right. It is not the time for violence, but it is the time for action. I will write, I will vote, I will stand in peaceful protest – whatever I can do to make my beliefs known and to support those of like mind. I invite you to join me, however you can.

And to those who think you have “won” and put us liberals in our place:

  • Be careful what you wish for…
  • Never piss off a Witch…


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