Well, So Much for That. Also, Sewing.

Sometimes I struggle with sleeplessness. If I have an obligation, I cope until the obligation is met and then I slug it up until it is time to go back to bed. If I don’t have an obligation, I still get up, because sleeping all day assures me that I will have another terrible sleep night, but, instead, I slug it up all day, even though this may cost me personal plans.

Today cost me personal plans. ::sigh::

It’s been quiet around here for nearly a year because my school workload is crazy heavy. School will be ending soon, though, so I want to take at least a little bit to follow up on the creative things I enjoy doing, and have not been able to do with any regularity since 1 May 2017.

First off, last year’s garden was terrible. There’s just nothing else to be said about it. One of the strawberries I was so jubilant about in May of last year died in the ground and I am waiting to see if the other will come back this year. The alpine strawberries should be back, as should the 2 or three varieties I bought from Steins several years ago. Will the old variety strawberry that made it through last summer make it through the winter? We shall see, as I have been too busy to check the garden for what is coming up.

I know, right?

It’s 3/24, and I have not already spent hours examining every corner of my property for items that may be poking their little heads out of the ground. It’s cold today, and I am already tired, so am not likely to go looking today. Another slug-it-up activity I should try to accomplish today is going through my seeds and deciding what to plant this year.

Because I have not done that yet. Not only that, but I bought NO NEW SEEDS this year.

I KNOW, RIGHT? Don’t you want to ask who is writing this? This pod person at the keyboard is surely not your old goofy friend Admin.



… and I need to keep track of what I did, because I do not know when I will next construct an outfit.

Man, it must be more than a year, now, since I acquired some patterns for kirtles that I thought I might like better than my current set. Specifically, I purchased Burda 7977, Burda 7468, and Butterick B6146.  Meet Butterick B6146.


View B, with very minor alterations, makes a suitable, simple kirtle for just about any era. View A is suitable for eras that use sleeveless, fitted kirtles.

So of course I screwed it up.


These are the pieces one needs, laid out. Pretty simple, 5 pieces, easy to eliminate the back opening and move the opening to the side. The red linen-like material does not have a directional pattern, so no need to account for that; the dress took about 4.5 yards of 55″ cloth.  I cut the dress out in accordance with the size that the fitting chart told me I would need.

That was my first bad decision.

I decided that I wanted the neck to be squared off instead of v neck, which worked out to be a giantly fortuitous decision later in the process, but was not without its problems.  This alteration was easy to make; I just cut the center front and the center back panels straight across at the top of the piece to the center fold line instead of following the v opening of the pattern. Hopefully I will remember what that means if ever I make this again.

I also made a change to the back center panel by placing it on the fold instead of cutting it as two seperate pieces–again, eliminates the zipper, and lacing from the side will be easy to add.

That would be exactly all of the changes I made.

Sewed it together, put it on for adjustment. Okay, I expected the pattern to be a little bit big on me, because they usually add more ease to the pattern than a person usually needs in order to wear the clothing comforably; this allows a seamstress to take the pattern in rather than dispose of something too small.

But this? I was drowning in it. I was sewing by myself, and so had to adjust it by grabbing handfuls at the back and repeatedly sewing the back seams in and in and in; I ended up adjusting the pattern in by 6-8 inches. I did not adjust the side or the front, because I could not get them adjusted in a way that did not alter the way the front hung. One of the consequences of this was that the back neck got so screwed up that if it had been a v-neck rather than a square neck, the dress might have been beyond my poor skills to repair. The straight neck let me just adjust the neck with the seams. And I did not add a lacing opening, because this just pops over my head. Opening it up is going to upset the hang of the dress at this point, anyway.  Hey, you know, just because I sew does not mean I am any good at it.  I own up to my weaknesses!

Unfortunately, I messed up when I sewed the facing into the neckline, but that was my poor skill. I can fix that, I just have to decide how I want to do it.

So, it is now done enough to wear, I just have to wear a partlet of some sort over the neckline, of constantly have someone tuck the facing in for me.

I intended to make this a Donna Troy dress, and I decided that I would stamp the yellow stars on the dress, but the curve of the dress makes it pretty near impossible to stamp a chevron comprised of mullets of five from the hip to the center front of the dress, so I’m either going to have to make a different Donna Troy dress, or I am going to have to applique the stars.

I set it up to wear, and have it hanging for whatever next SCA event I can actually manage to get to.


The current set up has two black pin-on sleeves (impossible to see in this picture, but they are pinned on to the red sleeves), a yellow partlet (since I can’t manage yellow stars), a black belt, a linen coif, a medallion, and a off-white cotton chemise.

So my thoughts for the next time I use this pattern (and I will, because I still have 6 yards of red, 11 yards of black, and three yards of yellow linen-like cloth to experiment with and this is really an easy, fast pattern) are that I will just go ahead and cut it to a smaller size, use the v necks as cut, sew the facings in on each piece and just deal with the seam bulk that will create, possibly french seam the dress (because one does not sew linen without finishing the seams, and the zigzag method I used this time dragged a bunch of linen threads into the bobbin mechanism, screwing up my machine), and if I decide to decorate the linen by stamping it, I may have to do this as an all-over pattern while the cloth is still flat.


I think I am going to try to make something from every pattern I have that I can currently use. I will never use the pattends I bought in the 70’s and 80’s again, I am afraid. I would like to have a new wardrobe, and it seems like a good idea to use my patterns and cloth before I spend more money on ready to wear. I can see what I still like, sell or donate what I don’t, and lighten my physical possession burden by tossing out the useless, donating the clothing I won’t wear any more,  and selling the “will never use.”



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They have arrived, and are having their pre-planting drink.

These are from Baker Creek, with Old North Sea in the tall container and Scarlet in the smaller one. The stories behind them are nice, and they may be as close to the Renaissance strawberry mentioned in the UMASS Renaissance Garden as I will ever get. Alas, it’ll be next growing season before they can be tasted, but still. I just have to decide where to put them.

Hell, my asparagus bed is now 4 years old, and it still does not produce a whole lot. Out of all the roots I put in the ground, only 6 came up, and they are so randomly spread through the bed that it’s always going to be an interplanted bed. I certainly can’t spare that much space for six plants.

I have been watching One Yard Revolution lately, and I am so glad to find him. He has some lovely self planting beds, JUST LIKE ME! Sometimes, I think I am the only person who does that. I am going to have to clean up the self-seeding that occurred in the side yard a bit, though, as I want them to be a little more ordered, just for the sake of the neighborhood aesthetics.

Posted in Forest Gardening, Green, SCA | Tagged , ,

Restless, and photo collage documentation.

So, I was hoping to get my garden started. Not in this venue, but elsewhere, I have been busily bitching about how poor 2016 was for gardening, and I’d like 2017 to be better. There have been lots of lovely days upon which I could have gotten started, but the lovely days have never yet coincided with an opportunity to actually garden.

Yesterday: sunny and warm. Today: Rain and snow mixed. Such is my life.

Well, I confess, I did get about 3 minutes of gardening done. I managed to pull out the tomato cages, deconstruct the carlin pea tower, get red of some dead stalks, and find some things that re-seeded: oak leaf lettuce, salsify, collards, chicory, land cress. So I can start with the harvesting; there are plenty of baby greens to be had, and the jerusalem artichoke is not yet out of the ground, so I can dig some of those roots.

The strawberries are coming back, and the raspberries, gooseberries, and rhubarb are all growing again. The garlics, onions, bloody dock, alesfoot, creeping bellflower, lovage, dandelions, and probably a few other things are all poking around in the back yard and the gardens, so even if I don’t get anything in the ground during the early planting season, I will still have nice salads.

But none of that really gets seeds in the ground. I’ve decided that I have an entire 16th c garden with seriously unusual exotics in it, as the plants I have and the reseeding I allow have turned my garden plan full of regimented and contained beds into a sort of demented green delusion. The beds are going to be wild and woolly and I think I will plant a lot of garlic and onions around the sides of everything to keep out the rodents.

So, to amuse myself while the rain pisses all over my plans, I worked on another garden project I have been futzing around with for years.

Oh, yes, you know it’s all Scadian. You know it.

I have been working on a google photo album I am calling Plants for a Past (you know, like an unambitious version of the absolutely marvelous PFAF database) for people who might like to try growing a Renaissance kitchen garden.

It’s pretty unwieldy; I’d like to cut it down to a photo page per plant. SO I made a few collages. It’s going to be a while before all the plants I want to include are collaged and essayed (ha, I verbed those nouns!), but I did get SOME done. Here, I will show you:

By Elise Boucher/Merouda Pendray. Because you care about that, right? Broad Bean collage featuring a photo of the plant growing in my garden, the packet of seeds I used, and a period picture of the plant to demonstrate its availability before 1601.

The collages are like perfectly encapsulated pieces of shorthand SCA documentation. I showed you that I found the plant(Broad beans)in a pre-1601 reference, I showed you that I obtained a reasonable cultivar for that plant (Broad Windsor Fava [1]), and I showed you that I grew it successfully.

A&S documentation goes on about a lot of other things, too; it’s clear that when I am done with writing out this project, I will have written another free online book, to include one (possibly 2) transcriptions of 15th-16th C. garden manuals. But the collages are just about demonstrating what you might see in a 16th c. garden, and they don’t need all that.

Here are the other ones I got done:

By Elise Boucher/Merouda Pendray. Awesome, eh? Nasturtium, a New World plant that quickly crossed the ocean as “Indian Cress.”

Collage by Elise, Research on cultivar by Ruth Goodman. I just read her book. Carlin Peas, a pre-1601 cultivar of field-type pea.

By Elise Boucher, who masquerades as Merouda Pendray Tomatoes

I had a hard time limiting myself to just these three period references, because there are a surprising amount of pictures of ‘maters in the late 1500’s. I presume it is because they were exotic and pretty. Just as an aside, I chose this variety of heirloom tomato to represent the 16th C. tomato because it is delish and because it is Italian. The Italians were eating tomatoes well before the English.

Merouda me ficit! Good King Henry

MMmmmm Merouda me ficit! Scarlet Runner Bean, another New World transplant.

There you go. I only have about a million more collages to make.

[1] Martock is supposed to be an older cultivar that Broad Windsor, but I also have to keep in mind plant yield, Wisconsin versus English growing seasons, and availability, since the purpose of documenting my massive A&S garden project is to allow others to replicate what I did. Besides, go find Martock broad beans in your U.S. garden store or through a major online retailer that ships to the States. Go on. I dare you. Give up? Okay, I know what to do. Go join Seed Savers Exchange for 35 or so bucks and find someone who has some they can sell to you for a combined cost of about 6 bucks… Or use Broad Windsor Fava. 🙂

Posted in Forest Gardening, SCA | Tagged , ,

Death to 2016 II

Welcome 2017, and already you’re starting to look like a mirror image of 2016. This makes me sad.

I have reached about the end of my ability to deal with 2016, and if 2017 is just going to be 2016 part two, Imma hafta redefine my coping strategies.

The first thing I am planning on doing is making my Internet usage about what interests me and what I enjoy instead of about social media. I really preferred my Internet usage before the advent of Facebook. Facebook has not been beneficial. Blogging is dead, and the social media that has replaced it is vacuous and angry. I just don’t have enough life left to be involved in that. I have “broken up” with Facebook in the past, but it’s really hard it to end that relationship. It has definitely replaced almost all forms of social communication. If it isn’t Facebook, it’s snapchat, or instagram, or whatever the new thing is.

I feel like a decade of my attention has been swallowed by social media. It didn’t enhance my creativity. It didn’t improve my relationships. Hell, it did not even leave me a blog full of naval staring and the occasional decent piece of creative nonfiction. I started participating in Facebook in 2007, and I looked back at my initial posts; they were generally just little funny one-liners. At some point it became about sharing funny things that other people had shared with me. And then politics happened.

Politics is probably when it all went to hell. It was a fucking train wreck, and I could not look away.

Well, I don’t wanna play anymore.

As I said, it’s hard to break up with Facebook. At this particular point in time, I’m limiting myself to looking at it for about half hour every couple of days, mostly to see if there’s any news with friends and family, or if there is any events that I want to attend that have been announced on Facebook and no place else. Over time, I hope to develop a strategy for my news feed that works for me, instead of sucking away huge portions of my life and energy and interests. That is what Facebook is designed to do, after all. Oh, they don’t see it that way. It’s supposed to keep you in touch with your family and friends, and if they push a few products into the experience, what’s the harm? Whatever its wonderful intentions in its early stages, it’s now just another marketing tool. Like all marketing tools, it is supposed to manipulate you, and I just don’t want to be manipulated anymore. I’m done being used. I’m done with being used by giant corporations that want to sell me crap, and I’m done with political organizations that want to sell me outrage.

So, when I think about what interests me about the Internet, I find myself dragged back all the way to the activities I pursued in my earlier usage. I like blogging. And yeah, blogging is dead, nobody’s gonna hear this, blahdy blahdy blah blah blah, but that is okay. A decided advantage of this is that when I express my political opinions, nobody’s going to argue with me. I enjoy political discourse, but at this point in time, there’s no discourse, there is only a conversational equivalent of the battle of Verdun.

Posted in Junk Drawer | Tagged , ,

The Ninth of January, 2017.

I knew she was sick, but I did not know that she was that sick. Moraig has passed. That is an event that is worthy of the persona blog, don’t you think?

It is a new year, and I want new events for it. I want to stop fucking around on the internet. I never do anything useful any more. I just read shit. And if I was sitting in my living room reading fiction or biography or whatever, I would count that as time well spent, but I have not been reading such things on the internet. On the internet I pintrest and I look for recipes and other boring stuff like that. I mean, I like to cook, and canning has brought me a good deal of joy (and a ridiculous amount of work; only the fact that I can have things I would not otherwise eat keeps me going. I don’t waste my time with green beans and such; those are better frozen, anyway), but a lot of this time is spent on fucking mommie blogs, and I really dislike those. Or “Lifestyle” blogs.

Ye gods and little fishes.

Okay, can I talk for a minute about how much I dislike reading a lifestyle blog? I did not hate them, at first. They just seemed like a pretty way to share what was going on in a given person’s projectland. But then… The damn things fucked like rabbits and now there are billions and billions of these blogs, all full of people stealing each other’s recipes and claiming to have a genius hack for your ice that will totally blow your mind and change your life. And, ta-da, the genius hack is “use an ice cube tray” or some other banality.

And Jesus Hortense Christ, the ads. The blinking and blinking and the spinning and spinning and the script-failing and the script-failing: seizure inducing. Any second Kirk the Jerk is going to pop up on my screen and go bat shit crazy from all the spinning and blinking and script-failing.

Don’t get me started on the comment sections of these things.

It would be fair to say that these are not really blogs. They are really more a single-author pamphlet series published on the internet.

And I am digging through pages and pages of bad photography and ads to get to the two or three paragraphs of meaningful content, wasting my time all the while.

So I’m going to start thinking about the last place I was happy with my Internet participation, and start rebuilding from there. It’s easy to make a New Year’s resolution list. It’s even easier to fail to complete them. So I’m not gonna bother with a resolution this year. I’m going to have a plan.

Posted in Junk Drawer

Ah, aging.

Me: Your hair is so beautiful.

Thorvald: Yeah, but there is less of it.

Me: That’s like saying my figure is beautiful, there is just more of it.

Posted in SCA | Tagged

A November Tuesday

Ed Note: Hillary has just been officially named the candidate for the democratic party. This entry is almost 10 years old. I resurrected it because, 10 years on, racists have no filters–they just open their mouths and use their fists. I pray that Hillary will win, simply because I read the memory recorded at the end here, and I believe firmly in the ending statement. Too, the bootheel is crushing us all, these days. I am still committed to living in a culture that does not have these awful problems. Floretta, my dear Floretta, is gone now, but even today, all these years later, I still hear her weep.

by Merouda – November 7th, 2006.
Filed under: Tagless.

Please remember to vote today. If you are in one of the several states voting on banning gay marriage, please vote to stop such ridiculous laws. The Wisconsin amendment is particularly heinous, in that not only does it try to outlaw gay marriage, it is also designed to strip away rights from just about anyone living in a “cohabitation” state. No more right to visit your partner if he’s ill–you’re not family. No more possibility of life insurance on your partner’s policy. And so forth. The Wisconsin law is pretty much designed to force those who can marry to do so and destroy those who can’t.

Wisconsin also votes on the death penalty today. Please vote against this as well. It’s not a deterrent, it’s more expensive than life imprisonment, it is not fairly imposed, and, in the name of all that is divine, it’s a cruel and unusual punishment–something that is Constitutionally forbidden. I can not understand the mindset that allows some of the people in this debate to condemn those who would strictly interpret the Koran and the inadvertent evils such things lead to while at the same time promoting some Old Testament justice as the only way to protect our people.

The other day, I was discussing these issues with a woman on my caseload–elderly, poor, black, ill. I mentioned this to her, let her know that one of the reasons I object to the death penalty is that it is far more likely to be imposed on a black man than anyone else. To my chagrin, this woman looked at me, grasped my hand, and began to weep. “You’re such a sweet girl,” she said.

And I sat in my car, after that visit, horrified. Horrified. HORRIFIED.

My ghod, I don’t want to live in a culture where people of color spend their whole lives so ground under the bootheel of wealth that the idea that someone of the majority race might see the injustice and desire redress is so foreign as to seem a fantasy.

1 Response to November Tuesday

  1. Oh, honey. I see those attitudes down here in the south and it wears me down so much. When are we ever going to cease to live in a culture of “us and them” and start to live as just “us”?

Posted in Social Justice | Tagged