A "G-Rated Journal" That Even My Mother Can Read (because she does!)

Effervescence is a state of mind. It's about choosing to bring sunshine to the day.
Every person I meet matters.

If it's written down, I know it (If it's not written down, I don't know it)
If it's color-coded, I understand it (If it's not color-coded, I don't understand it)

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Daddy-do and me, 2010

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KWAR, Crown, Birthday, & Holidays

In our last episode, our heroine wrote: "Next update, KWAR. Later, Crown tourney. And this weekend Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year, which I'm sharing with friends on Friday and Saturday)." (giggle) Let's see how well I can sum up after another several weeks have gone by.

You may want to read this post in installments, which is why I've marked off headings for each new story and tale. Enjoy.

Fri Sep 8 to Sun Sep 10: KWAR - Known Worlde Academy of Rapier. I've finally come to a conclusion: I'm "permanent support staff" for my Rapier best friends. In any other context, you might call me a "Rapier Wife" with the exception that I'm not married. But in absence of any spouse, my extended family-by-choice (meaning all my best friends and their households) is like my significant other often. And KWAR was a wonderful example of how much I *love* this role. Meala was running the event, and arranged to have me serving "Coffee Bar of Splendoor" from the "Hospitality Suite." I felt bad about not being there Friday evening (because I was still scrambling to prepare and shop and pack), and I even missed court on Saturday morning (which was heart-breaking). But I got to host several friends as house-guests for the weekend, and I spent an amazing two days hanging out and making new friends and getting re-acquainted with old friends in the Suite. The Coffee Bar was also extremely well-received and appreciated, which made Meala and the entire Kingdom look good. (Several visitors from out-of-Kingdom, which means also from out-of-state, were impressed with the amenities we offered as hosts of KWAR. Really, really impressed.)

And Sunday night, nine of us relaxed with what we now jokingly refer to as "The Cast Party" late into the night. It was a wonderful silly evening, filled with camaraderie and good friendship, and the building of better friendships.

And a mutual friend from Northshield (the Minneapolis/Wisconsin kingdom I visited this summer) has won the bid to host KWAR next year. Is it a bad thing that I'm tempted to go, even though I don't fence? Wouldn't it be fun to be part of the support staff?? Hmm, very VERY tempting!

Sat Sep 16 (and Sun Sep 17): Crown Tourney - Again, best-laid plans, hmm? I was hoping to be on site Friday evening, set up my new camping (modern) tent, set up Coffee Bar, and be ready to serve Coffee first thing Saturday morning. But instead I woke up at 3 am, finished all my packing and shopping, got on the road actually driving before 5:45 am (still dark out), and made it up into the mountains east of Orange County by about 8 am-ish. The new tent is lovely, although the double-high queen-sized bed fills the ENTIRE tent, which is extremely funny. And in the wilds of the mountains, this only became problematic when I wanted to put all the food away in the tent so no critters would get into the boxes.

Coffee bar was a big hit, both Saturday morning and especially Sunday morning. Crown itself was lovely fun, and I'm thrilled that Edric and Faizeh are on the thrones now (currently as the Prince/Princess, with Coronation in early November). This is Edric's 4th time winning Crown, and although I've served on 5 courts so far in life, I've never served on one of Edric's courts officially (which is really weird since my ex- was his squire when he won the first time). I made certain to tell them both that I would be happy to do ANYthing they need for their reign, but that if they had too many volunteers and members of their potential courts, that I'd be okay if they didn't ask me. I've done back-to-back courts twice in life already (Luciana and Seanachie; Felinah II and Una) and after having served Kolfinna more than any other queen, it might be exhausting to do a third back-to-back. But for Edric and Faizeh, I'd do it in a heartbeat if asked. But it's all good. I have no burning need to serve from behind the thrones... I can serve them in a variety of ways from wherever. It's all good. *grin*

Sun Sep 17: Birthday Treat - Alan and Theresa got 4 tickets to the Hollywood bowl, to take me and a guest to see the Hollywood Bowl Symphony, Fireworks, and Special Guests: The Muppets! Sadly, Alan had to work (whimper), and since Eric's dating Vicky and I asked Eric to join me as my guest, Vicky was able to go with Theresa and me on the extra ticket. So Theresa and me, Eric and Vicky, we went out for dinner and the Bowl together and had an amazing time. And the strangest serendipity: My old college music percussion professor was performing in the orchestra! Twenty years ago, I auditioned as a percussion performance major and landed a small scholarship to his program. Even back then, he was a performer in the LA Philharmonic. Turns out the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra is made up from members of the LA Phil. And even back in our really-far-away seats, I managed to recognize him on the large broadcast screens, back there still performing as a percussionist. During the intermission, I dialed up the Hollywood Bowl website, found the list of orchestra members, and confirmed that it really was him.

Of course the Muppets were adorable, as was the singer who pioneered the role of Glinda in Wicked on Broadway, and the conductor was funny as ever. The fireworks were really well done, and the music was lovely. It made me have that brief twinge of "gee, I almost wish I made my living as a professional musician" but if that were true, I certainly wouldn't be doing the SCA or my other hobbies the way I do now. So, we each make our choices and choose our paths.

Mon Sep 18: My Birthday - I'm 38 now. Two years left in my "I wanna look 'hot' by my 40th birthday" weight loss and fitness goal. *hee hee*

I had a lovely dinner out with Jeff and Adrienne, and Adrienne and I enjoyed "Chocolate Mountain" for dessert (which figures later in how we celebrated Jeff's birthday the following weekend). Mom sent flowers and a framed piece of artwork (about chocolate). Jan sent a gigantic box of muffins and cookies. My roomie surprised me with a gorgeous potted orchid. And I had a wonderful, wonderful birthday.

Fri Sep 22 and Sat Sep 23: Rosh Hashanah - First, a big party over at Meala's house for what we call B'Nei Caid (pronounced: beh-NAY kah-EED) ... which sort of means the loosely gathered congregation within the SCA Kingdom called Caid. The B'Nei Caid group is really friends who are both Jewish or non-Jewish but interested, who have an email group to keep in touch and who occasionally throw parties for the Jewish holidays. There's little to no religion researched or re-created in the SCA (zero official religion, completely not allowed for official things), but the community built around shared interests means a lot to many of us. Meala threw a *wonderful* party, and we ate probably more honey than is recommended in an evening. *grin*

For the first time in my life, I got to experience going to synagogue with friends. Jeff and Adrienne hadn't found a home congregation here in town yet, and so we all went to a local synagogue for the first time on Saturday morning together. They didn't really warn me how long services can go (yoikes!) and at the five-hour mark it finally dawned on me to look at my watch. But we sort of did this to ourselves, since hardly anyone shows up at the beginning of morning services at 8:30 am... most people start arriving about an hour and a half or two hours in. There was a guest cantor for the opening of services, and I heard the distinct vowels of Ashkenazi Hebrew for the first time ever. This *definitely* peaked the interest of the linguist in me! Then the normal cantor and the "new rabbi" for the congregation finished up the second half of services together. I really liked the rabbi—he reminds me of all my favorite pastors over the years. I'm planning on giving him a ring to sit down to chat with him and meet him sometime. (Note for Mom: Reminded me a lot of Larry Dietch. Note for college friends from church: Reminded me a lot of both Marty Rietzin and John Bower.)

After a full 5.5 hours at services (whew!), Jeff and Adrienne and I went for a lovely lunch together, and then I went to my favorite deli and picked up dessert to celebrate Jeff's birthday. We had a lazy afternoon and slipped into Chocolate heaven (read: sugar coma) together, and celebrated another wonderful year of friends and family and life.

Sun Sep 24: Sunday Special Visit - Some of you know who I've been able to visit for the first time in years. This is an incredibly public internet journal, so I'm leaving out all the details. All of them. But I had the most AMAZING wonderful time catching up with an amazing young lady and two wonderful old friends with whom she's living. We chatted until all hours, and it was astonishingly wonderful. I can chat with more of you offline, offlist, if you'd like more details. Please do NOT comment on this visit or this person on my journal, out of protection for her. Thanks folks.

Okay, cryptic mode: OFF. Back to your regularly scheduled narrative.

Fri Sep 29 to Mon Oct 2: Yom Kippur Weekend - These four days blended together, so I'm going to tell the story a little bit blended.

Jeff and Adjin and I had Shabbat dinner together Friday night, just enjoying a quiet evening hanging out, and flipping through some of the cool art books I picked up with my birthday coupons. I found an entire 14th Century Ashkenazi Haggadah manuscript, reprinted in color with astonishing scholarly notes, translations, and transcriptons. The calligraphy and illumination is heart-stoppingly gorgeous. I've also picked up some other great books, and so Adjin and I just drooled over the pretty pictures together for a while.

Saturday was Angels Anniversary (a tournament in Los Angeles), and we were all "camping out" with the Inn. Eric/Marcos came down and crashed at Jeff & Adjin's for the night so that he and I could carpool in the morning (saving $8 parking fee). The day went incredibly well, and I got to entertain both the opening and closing courts. I also spent most of the day flipping through Baron Jason's "Mug Books" of photos of people and places at SCA events, helping caption the un-identified friends in the photos. Then nearly a dozen of us decided to do dinner at Jeff & Adjin's rather than a restaurant, through the majic of delivery and grocery store drinks. 3 of us went shopping for everyone's favorite drinks, then we all sat around enjoying Thai food or Chinese food (depending on the delivery).

Then Sunday evening at sundown, Yom Kippur was to start. So I spent my Sunday morning and early afternoon helping get Jeff & Adjin's house ready, since we were hosting the "Break Fast" meal on Monday evening for B'Nei Caid.

Look, many of you know I'm a complete weirdo. But I really love helping pick up, clean, organize, wash dishes, and all that. It's weird. But I figure "To Each is Given Their Gifts" and "To Whom Much is Given, Much is Required." Right? I love cleaning, I love helping friends, and I got to help clean up after our late night Saturday party as if I was right back at Estrella, helping pick up after a night partying at the Inn. (The Estrella Inn visited the Villa Saturday night after Angels. That's all I'm sayin'. *giggle*)

Once the house was clean, the kitchen was ready, and Adrienne and I had our respective shopping lists, we split up, finished all the rest of the shopping and prep, and gathered for dinner before services. Traditionally, observing Yom Kippur includes fasting for about 25 hours. So you eat a late afternoon/early evening dinner, then you don't eat again until after sundown the following day. Last year, I observed fasting for Yom Kippur without any understanding of the fast. This year, I'd learned a lot more about the entire holiday, and got a lot more out of the experience. And in some ways, it was astonishing to realize this has been a full year of studying and learning and researching what it means to be Jewish or to observe Jewish traditions, and to learn what Judiasm is really all about.

Can I just say to all my Christian friends and family that our understanding of Judiasm is anemic, at best? We really have missed a lot over the last several centuries, by not fully understanding Jewish heritage. I cannot recommend it highly enough: Spend some time. Research. Read. Ponder. Experience. Toss out your assumptions that you think you might know what it means. Learn from scratch all over again, and see what you'll be taught. I personally think it's life-changing, and worth every moment. And I'm completely in debt to all my B'Nei Caid friends, who've taught me so much this past year. I'm beyond honored to be part of your community, in more ways than one.

Okay, gushing aside. We had a wonderful dinner together, and went back to the synagogue for what's called "Kol Nidre" (pronounced kohl nee-DRAY) services, or the first evening of Yom Kippur.

On Monday, we went back for the morning services of Yom Kippur, and learned something about the new congregation. There were two services being offered at the same time: the Progressive and the Traditional. We opted for Traditional, having guessed that "Progressive" meant "lots of hand-holding and spoon-fed, guitar-led, modern kind of service." It turns out that was was labeled "Progressive" was probably typical of a Jewish Conservative service, from what we could see/hear through the windows as they met over in the "Youth Lounge." In the main sanctuary, we were in the "Traditional" services, which was led by the guest cantor again, and so it was very "Ashkenazi Davening" type services. Which was, um, quite the lovely experience. (Next year, we might consider the Progressive service, which might be more like what Jeff and Adrienne are used to.)

But at the end of the early morning half, the two congregations all gathered back together, for the "Yizkor" service which was started out by the rabbi's sermon or homily. Again, I really liked him. I could definitely enjoy chatting with him more.

We did have to slip out during part of the Yizkor (or after the Yizkor and before the, something else) because Adrienne's legs were really giving out on her. So we got her home, feet up, heating pad on, and finished getting ready for Monday night's Break Fast. Jeff and I considered going back for the afternoon N'ilah service, but we opted to stay home with family and be there for all the guests to arrive.

We had a good ten people or so arrive, and a most amazing, wonderful Break Fast together. I'm astonished at all that's happened since last year's Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and so it meant just that much more to me to "ring in the new year" with my friends and family. Even many non-Jewish friends were able to be there, from the household, from relationships, and it was just an amazing blessing to all be together.

Melissa and Saul and I wrapped up the evening over coffee until 2am, having some well-needed conversation and more silliness and wonderful friend time together. They rock.

Tue Oct 3: Lunch with Craigor - One leading thought in my brain, when it comes to career and work, is "never burn bridges." And this has led to some wonderful friendships over the years. When I was at the Navy base, I worked with Richard, and he still emails and IM's me regularly and catches me up on how some of our mutual friends are doing. When I was at the Marine Corps base, I worked with Jade and with Eric, both of whom I still email or IM or visit regularly. We still get together for dinner and/or drinks, and regular communication. And Eric's contacts were how I got my current job, and I've been able to get back in touch with other friends throughout the contract. Denise still phones me every now and then for dinners or drinks, and other friends still keep in contact.

When I was at the software company, Craig and I become best of friends, and you've seen him commenting here on my journal on occasion. Tuesday this week we finally got a chance to have lunch, and I visited the office itself before and after lunch. Everyone was very sweet, happy to see me, and I got to chat a little with my former boss as well as other co-workers. I even managed to remember Rhonda's birthday on Sunday, and Hope remembered my birthday back in September.

One of the best things about lunch with Craig was just getting to babble non-stop about the last two months. I didn't realize how little I've kept in touch with everyone, especially my lack of journal posts, until I caught Craig up on all my stories. So I apologize to all of you, and I'm making an effort to make this a more regular part of my weekly/monthly activities.

Thu Oct 5: Sweet Autumn Cooking - How could I have neglected cooking for the past three months? Granted, I know why my summer has been so weird. Got fired. Spent a month enjoying myself (going to Wisconsin) and job hunting. Got a job (end of July). Started new job, working from home (Aug & Sep to current). So I've been *at home* for three months, non-stop. Talk about your disrupted schedules.

So I've had no need to pack a lunch, or a dinner for that matter. I used to spend all my time on the road or just away from home, so I had an urgent need to pack food on a regular basis. Now, I'm never away from home. I'm *always* here (it seems). And "home" is less than a quarter-block's walk from a grocery store and a dozen eateries.

Good news: I cooked last night. A simple crock-pot carrot soup that turned out so sweet and warm and yummy that I had some for breakfast, and then had some for lunch. Yesterday evening I actually did "real" grocery shopping (at the store near home) and bought "ingredients" food instead of once-off meals. I did buy a tiny prepared salad, and enjoyed the salad with my bowl of soup over lunch. It feels like Autumn finally, with my soup, the cool air, halloween decorations going up at home or around the neighborhood.

And other good news: I managed to keep my weight off even when I wasn't cooking regularly. With just a tiny bit of food-choice and portion-control effort, I can maintain a generic plateau. Now, it's time to start the "just barely hungry" method, so I can continue losing slowly again. I've got just less than 2 years left in my current long-range goal, so time to kick it up a notch again. Exercise. Must find a way to start regularly exercising again. I really want to start walking, and also look into what the Y around the corner offers... swimming maybe?

* * * * *
Today's Blessing That I'm Thankful For: Melissa/Meala

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