Near as I can tell, pottage is stew, but with grain in it. I gather that it was a primary source of nourishment in England throughout our period.
I found an Elizabethan-era recipe online, but decided to go with "inspired by." Seriously, I expect the only real recipe was "take what's on-hand, throw into pot, cook." So for dinner last night, I made -
Teleri's Chicken Pottage
1 lb chicken, 1" dice
2 small-to-medium turnips, 1/2" dice
1 large onion, 1/2" dice
About half a pound of carrots, 1/2" dice
Chicken broth to cover (I used 48 oz box o' broth)
1 cup mixed whole grains - I used half and half steel-milled oats and bulgur wheat (and a tablespoon of barley I had left over)
Herbs to taste
In a large stewpot, melt butter. Brown chicken. Add onion and sautee for a few minutes. Add rest of vegetables. (I also threw in some leftover Brussels sprouts. I think chopped cabbage or kale would make a good addition.) Pour in broth until everything is covered, then some more for the grains to absorb. Add grains and herbs. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook 1 hr.
The turnips got way mushy after an hour of cooking. They should either be cut up larger, or added later. (Or the overall cooking time shortened.)
The soluable fiber from the oats gave a really nice silky mouthfeel to the chicken broth.
I used two bay leaves (probably not period for my time/place) and three sprigs of rosemary from my shrub. NB: In the future, chop rosemary. The leaves will cook right off of the twigs and I don't like eating them whole, or fishing them out one by one.
Finicky husband, who would probably not generally touch cooked oats or bulgur with a 2' long ladle, approved and had seconds.
A long, long time ago, I did a Girl Scout badge on "Collections" that required that we sort, mark and log our collection somehow. I had a rock collection, and went through putting dots of Wite-Out on all my mineral specimens, then numbering them, then recording the numbers/rocks. It wasn't a great system - I couldn't sort the rocks by type, and I didn't like marking them up.
I'm thinking back to that because I'm trying to get my brain around how to archive my stuff. I guess I'm spoiled, and I want the full functionality of a database. Want to see all the garb I've made? Poof! All the Pentathalon entries? Poof! All the poems I have entered into contests? Double filter, poof!
I don't think this blog/website has a native database function. Google doesn't show one, certainly, nor does their main page suggest that functionality is available. So I'm left to invent my own way to sort things.
My 'Original Works' page (were I to update it...) seems all right for the bardic stuff, and the Class Notes page (ditto...) works for the class notes. I guess a similar approach for the static A&S would be to make thumbnails of pictures of the items, and link them to posts/pages. It gets unwieldy as the number of items gets large, but scrolling down the infinite page isn't so hard. If I follow the other pages, I'll break it into sections to allow for somewhat simpler browsing.
Mehhhh, I don't like that it doesn't extend well. But even with the section headings on the Original Works page, I sometimes have trouble remembering where I put the link to one thing or another. And what's obvious to me isn't necessarily obvious to someone browsing through. All on one page may be the best option out of a pile of sub-optimal options.
I managed to volunteer for a retreat at church which is the same day as KASF. Guess I don't have to worry about Pentathalon this year.
I discovered FabicMart.com. They were having a super-sale on wool suiting, and I scored some lightweight "cornsilk"-colored herringbone twill. I thought it was a solid, but as it arrived today, I see that the warp and weft are different colors (white and 'cornsilk'). I keep putting 'cornsilk' in quotes because it looked like a warm butter yellow online, but is really a cool, almost greyish light yellow. Still, it's fine. I have 3 yards of 61" wide fabric. Some of it is destined for a new version of my Harley Psalter bag.
I'm trying laid and couched work in a wool version of the battle flag. Not sure I'm getting it right - do the laid threads go all the way across? I'm getting confused between what I'm seeing online and what I vaguely remember Mistress Aenor showing me, in between classes at a University, like four years ago. I will ask Baroness Janina, next I see her.
I found Heroic Age, a peer-reviewed free online journal specializing in early northwestern European studies. Since the Early Northern European Working Group starts meeting this month, this is a happy coincidence.
My Chalice final round piece.
According to Dr. Wikipedia, Mnemosyne was not just a Titan, but also a river (or a pool) in the Underworld. Most people drank from the Lethe, the river of forgetfulness, but the souls of those initiated into the mysteries could find Mnemosyne and hang onto their memories of their lives.
This hit me as a powerful metaphor for living with a loved one suffering from Alzheimer's or another form of dementia: one soul drinks from Mnemosyne, but the other drinks from the Lethe.
We laughed and loved our whole lives long
Up in the lands of light
Now we awake, together still,
In a realm of endless night
I take your hand as we wander on
And yet I feel no fear
Wherever these paths lead us to,
As long as you are near
We come upon the river Lethe
Its water dark as ink
The ferryman, he looks at us,
And he says that we must drink
In life, I was initiate
to mysteries and dreams
I know that I should seek nearby
A hidden flowing stream
I find it, taste it, and rejoice,
And call you to my side
When you don’t come, I turn to see
You kneeling by the water wide
I cry out for you to stop
But I am far too late
Drops of water on your lips
The gods laugh at our fate -
I, I drank of Mnemosyne
But you drank of the Lethe
Now you walk in far-off fields
While I follow wrapped in grief
I rush to take you in my arms
To caress you and to kiss
If love can truly conquer all
Perhaps it can heal this
But I see no memory
When I look into your eyes
You say: Beautiful stranger, who are you?
And I bow my head and cry
The crossing on the ferry,
You are bewildered and afraid
I hold your hand and comfort you
Til we reach the shining glade
You thank me with the brilliant smile
I remember all too well
You run to dance in paradise
And leave me to my hell
A shadow fell across me then
So I turn to look and see
Lord Hades’ stone-faced cold regard
As he stops to measure me
"You think yourself so clever
You think yourself so wise
Did you think that you knew better
Than the King of All That Dies?"
I saw his queen behind him
With her eyes so sad and dark
I saw at least one other
Knew the reasons of my heart
It is bitter to be forgotten
But I swear a sacred oath
Until our time here’s at an end
I’ll remember for us both
For I, I drank of Mnemosyne
But you drank of the Lethe
Now you walk in far-off fields
While I follow wrapped in grief
It was a most satisfactory showing, even if I didn't win anything.
My Beowulf-with-lyre went splendidly. I realized on Friday, in the car, that I actually could get through my entire selection confidently, even if perhaps some of the words were not spot-on. In performance, I made two errors - flipped some words around in one case (minor, and I didn't even blink as I covered) and a worse one where what was supposed to be a sentence came out as a random clause. I didn't try to fix it and just bulled on. Woo! Judging sheets were uniformly positive. All told, that's very much the sort of thing I've been driving toward since 2007 or so.
I was selected to proceed to the final round - there were only three of us, and everyone was fantastic in different ways. Don't envy the judges their decision. I performed my piece I wrote for the event, "I Drank of Mnemosyne," the music for which was composed on-site and which I still didn't have solid as I performed it. Considering that it was essentially improv? I'm pretty dang pleased. Better, at least two gentles complimented me afterwards on the impact of the lyrics. Lord Ulfarr from Stierback won the chalice of chocolate for his song remembering his first Pennsic - it was far more polished than mine, with a MUCH more interesting melody, and he sang it exceedingly well. Kudos!
Similarly, the banner did not win in A&S, but the woodcut that did TOTALLY deserved it. It was fabulous. The feedback for the banner was positive, ranging from "somewhat above average" to "well above average." For the first time possibly ever, my documentation was ranked consistently lower than my craftsmanship! Considering that this is the first embroidery I've done since... college? Twenty years ago? and the first time I've ever done couching at all, I'm pretty pleased with that. Also, the banner rocks, and I'm pleased to have made it.
The hang-up on the documentation and authenticity seemed to be (if I can judge the few sentences of feedback) whether or not my goldworked banner was appropriate, or if it should have been made of humbler wool. That's fair - I used Beowulf as my basis for making a golden standard as a status object, since so many of the other gift-objects in Beowulf have direct evidence as archaeological finds as well. But, like the heralds say not to use fiction to source your name, one could argue that this wasn't the strongest basis for an artifact.
My seven-year old had a pretty good time of it, except for during the bardic round one, which was unimaginable boring torture for him. Ponte Alto has a great basket of toys and a small wooden castle which amused him for literally hours, and he played a bit with some other kids. We had an emergency iPad tucked away in case of critical boredom, but we didn't have to get it out. Hurrah!
I don't like working until the last minute. I wish I'd realized sooner that I had a scope/timing mismatch, here.
I am calling the embroidery done. I eventually did up it from 2 strands of thread to 3, which gave better coverage than 2 but didn't look as puffy as 4. Now the parts worked in 2 strands look a little thin. Well... too bad. I don't have the time to do any more than fill in the most obvious places where the ground showed through.
Since the St. Cuthbert pieces were lined in red silk, I think I'll use my leftover violet silk (from the Kentish gown) for the backing. But I do like the pennants white rather than violet - violet clashes with the red embroidery. I'll leave most of one side open so people can see the reverse. That's a thing for embroidery, right? Not sure if I should make the ties of white linen or violet silk. Silk is actually way strong. Also won't show dirt as fast as the linen.
Got a spear head from my dad for the display. Maybe. The thing is enormous. Still need to scratch out notes from the Durham embroideries book. And finding my CD of the Bayeux tapestry would be better than using the sketches I made of banners a decade ago. Why can I find the freaking sketches and not the CD?
Bleah. I have a good chunk solidly memorized, not so solidly rehearsed. Another good chunk... not so solid. Experience tells me to cut myself off and go with the part I'm confident with. I don't like that - I want to do the entire selection I had planned! And it's so close! - but no, seriously, I do this to myself every freaking bardic competition.
Waffling on use of instrument. There's a definite wow factor, but I'll be able to gesture more without, I think. Also fubar'ed up my shoulder on my flight yesterday and not sure if I can even physically handle the instrument. WHY.
Clearly I need to start working out again.
I Drank of Mnemosyne
So yes, the original piece, in the off-chance I make it to the final round. I actually have most of a draft somewhere. Not a complete draft, and the music was mushy last I could remember what it even was. It'll probably come back to me when I see the words. It ended up ballad form instead of verse-refrain, which I'm fine with.
On golden banners
Beowulf. Seamus Heaney, trans. Norton & Co.: NY. 2000.
Describing a king's funeral ship:
They decked his body no less bountifully
with offerings than those first ones did
who cast him away when he was a child
and launched him alone out over the waves
And they set a gold standard up (Tha gyt hi him asetton segend gyldenne
high above his head and let him drift (heah ofer heafod
to wind and tide
--- Lines 43-49
Descibing Hrothgar's gifts to Beowulf:
Then Halfdane's son presented Beowulf
with a gold standard as a victory gift (segen gyldenne sigores to leane
an embroidered banner; also breast mail (hroden hilde-cumbor
and a helmet...
--- Lines 1019 - 1022
Wiglaf inspects the dragon's hoard:
And he saw too a standard, entirely of gold (Swylce he siomian geseah segn eall-gylden
Hanging high over the hoard (heah ofer horde, hond-wundra maest,
a masterpiece of filigree; it glowed with light (gelocen leotho-craeftum
so he could make out the ground at his feet
and inspect the valuables
--- Lines 2767-2771
Beowulf: A New Translation for Oral Delivery. Dick Ringler, trans. UW-Madison TEI Edition, posted May 2005. http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Literature.RinglBeowulf
The same three passages:
Finally the Danes affixed a golden standard above him
...and a banner of gold to mark his triumph...
God Wiglaf saw a great standard blazing in the gloom above the ring-hoard, its gold streamers gleaming brilliantly
Beowulf: An Anglo-Saxon Epic Poem. Lesslie Hall, trans. D.C. Heath & Co.: Boston. 1892. Accessed via Project Gutenberg at: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/16328/16328-h/16328-h.htm
And a gold-fashion standard they stretched under heaven, high o'er his head
A golden standard, as reward for the victory, A banner embossed
And there he saw lying an all-golden banner, high o'er the hoard, of hand-wonders greatest, linked with lacets: a light from it sparkled
On gold embroidery
Jill Ivy. Embroideries at Durham Cathedral. Robert Attey and Sons: Sunderland, Great Britian. 1992.
To be continued...
Three suns done and outlined in red silk. Whew.
Now, my original plan was to do the background in gold, too, like the St. Cuthbert vestments. One problem: the vestments are a colored figured on a gold ground. I have gold figures... so a colored ground would make more sense, yes? I should have probably outlined with gold, filled with red, and then done the background in gold, if I wanted to go for maximum gold use.
And minimum silk embroidery. I am crossing my fingers that I will be able to fill all that ground with silk in time. Mmmmaybe I will start carrying four strands instead of two? That would make it go faster. I'll do a quick test to see how it looks.
I will try to pick up a bigger embroidery hoop tomorrow. I can't fit the whole work in my little 4" one, and it's doing bad things to the goldwork when I squish it in the hoop, even if I'm careful. Nothing hideously deforming, but it's puckered the fabric a little. And the $2 it will cost me to get a bigger hoop is trivial compared to the number of hours I'm putting in on this.
I'll try and do pictures soon. But I have to take a break tomorrow - Halloween costumes are done, but I need to finish my son's shield.
Oh, and in trying to decide how I should continue, I thought to Google "oriflamme." The reconstructions show a - guess what? - red banner with a golden sun. Woot.
Grazia's comment on my last documentation post reminded me very much of grant proposal presentations. You're damned if you do, damned if you don't. Start by explaining your ideas? "We don't know what you're talking about, give us some background." Start with some background? "Get to the point, tell us your ideas."
And different reviewers are different. Grazia said she got feedback that judges didn't like flipping back and forth from her Background section to her Methods/Materials. But I know when I go to do some judging, I like an overview of what the item should be, before I see what the item is.
So I wonder if a really high-level overview, in an easily digestible format, would help people like me, without putting off people who prefer to get their "should be" alongside their "as is"?
I put this together for the 'star spangled banner' I'm working on. The image is a detail from the manciple of St Cuthbert, which is serving as my primary source for embroidery technique:
(Please nobody take those summaries as gospel truth because I threw this together from memory as an experiment, to see how it would look.)
I think I like it? The "PowerPoint"-esque format seems to help push toward simplifying and picking out the most important things to put down up front, to prime the reader for any detailed discussion to follow.
How about for something less concrete?
Needs some work, but seems viable.