Saturday, December 12, 2009

Yet more modern madness :)

Well, I decided to create a good voice account today. I had a bunch of reasons, and this wasn't the big one. However, G-Voice has its benefits, and this is one of them. If you want to call, feel free. You have two options. use the widget at the bottom of the screen, it will call your phone, and then call mine. or you can call the Google voice number in my signature line. Leave a message, I'll get it and do with whatever is needed.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Nordsteorra Herald
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

"Non unus step tergum"'

Google Voice - (405) 385-9214

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Feast Heralding

I seem to have stumbled upon something of an ill defined art as of late.

As a herald, I have always been happy to announce nearly anything that people ask. And at times I am usually the messenger for less than wanted news. People think I'm kidding when I say they should ware running shoes while doing wake up calls... trust me, the joke is on them half the time.

However, something that I am becoming increasingly asked to do is Feast heraldry, that is calling out the courses as they are served for each feast.

On its surface, its the simplest of heraldry. With the exception of a simple intro, most of your minimum wording is handed to you in writing by the cook.

However, as most people who know me will guess, I am not one to leave it as the simple stuff. As with any heralding job, I enjoy engaging the crowd, adding color and flare to any circumstance, and putting on the best show I can.

At this point, I think I have been heralding feasts for a few years now, but lately Ive been asked to herald them with more frequency. Though I am not complaining in the least. I think one of the parts that I really enjoy is the ad lib moments.

One of my favorite moments from Namron's feast was heralding the first course. At the time I had never heard of Welsh Rarebit. But one of the ingredients to Rarebit was beer. So, capitalizing on that, I announced the first course, and when half of the hall looked at me blankly, I said "And if you have no idea what Rarebit it, that's okay. I don't ether. But fear not, I have it on good authority that it includes lots of beer!" That quickly became a crowd-please announcement.

I got a good responce to the final course. "Hear ye! Hear ye! Hear ye! I bring news of things sweet and wonderful. I bring news of things sugers and spices and things to make children smile. I bring news... of cheesecake!" as much work as the kitchen put into a specific type of cheesecake, at that point the crownd didn't care. "Cheesecake" by itself almost got a standing ovation.

At Yule revel this weekend, the feast steward had me heralding a Russian meal. Two of the four courses had me stumbling over the names in a language that I had never even attempted before. One of them amounted to me stumbling over the word twice and ultimately saying "I'm not drunk enough to say this!"

But when it was all over, the steward was glad for the performance, and commented that she didn't really appreciate how much I actually enjoy heralding until I was out there and doing it. She wasn't surprised, per se, but I could tell she was somewhat taken about by how much I actually enjoy it.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Nordsteorra Herald
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

"Non unus step tergum"

Sunday, December 6, 2009


It has been a long time... too long.

Where to begin?

Well, for starters, my desktop took a beating around the end of September, and finally gave up the ghost. Not surprisingly, that seriously curtailed my ability to maintain my blogs. I'm more or less back up now, thanks to my wife's laptop (what this is being composed with).


And so much has happened.

Just for starters, I helped herald at Namron's Protectorate , and then the joint Skarrgard/Cheminoir "Harvest of the Axe" a few weeks later.

Then... well....

I got laid off of work. As you can guess, that always puts a crimp on things.

And No, I haven't had much luck looking, either.I'm still trying, and I still have some time lined up before the worst happens. But none the less, there it is.


Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Nordsteorra Herald
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

"Non unus step tergum"

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Just a little venting.

You know, I am perfectly capable of at least trying to work with other people, even those who diametrically disagree with me on a lot of things. Am I always successful? Hardly. As  a mater of fact, I'm willing to bet that I probably annoy or offend more people that I probably should, especially in the role of a herald.

I don't mean to sound crass about it, but there is a healthy measure of "oh well" involved with that type of conflict. When I can, I try and reach some middle ground, and probably just as often as not, no middle ground is reached and I just wind up grinding my teeth for as long as I am working with them.

But then... sigh

Then there are people who herald  with me who have absolutely no respect for the art, and their attitude just chafes me the wrong way, six-ways-till-Sunday.

As a voice herald, a lot of people depend on you to get them the information you are saying. In list heraldry, that includes, but is no way limited to giving the fighters their pairings.
But what a lot of people don't realize is that there are a lot of other people, who aren't in armor, who want to hear, or need to heat that information as well.People like sitting nobility or royalty, spouses, friends and children. A List herald has to make sure they try and be loud enough that all of those people can hear too. Sometimes they can't but the effort is usually appreciated.

I have tried for as long as I can remember to accommodate those demands on the list field. Like  giving fighters time to come up so they can hear me clearly. Or making sure to pronounce the names clearly and properly, or at least trying to, anyway.

When I do the salutes, I take special care to give each salute as much dignity as I can. If the fighter opts to make  a joke out of it, that is their right, and often times the salutes can be very dignified and humerus at the same time. But I have never let myself give a half-ass, half-mumbled charge of "yeah, salute whoever" or anything of that ilk. I have seen men take a knee and pray to a deity that is very real to them. I have seen fighters salute the sky, and explain a moment later that a loved one is over seas in a combat zone, and that the fight is dedicated to them. Salutes are so very personal, as a herald, I make sure to never undercut the dignity or honor of what someone might do after I charge them "Salute the one who's favor you bare."

Trust me, I expect best effort from the people I work with, but I have by no means forgotten what it was like when I first started playing. I don't chastise for human error, and I don't reprimand for mispronouncing a name. If you give it your honest best, I'll back you up all the way.

So, you can probably just imagine my internal reaction when I wind up heralding next to someone who just don't give a flying flip about some, or all, of the above. They go through the motions, fill the roll, and then sit down, looking for all the world like an unwilling high school freshman who got drafted into a bit part in the summer play.

Yeah, it doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out that I've run into one or two of those in the past little bit.

Ive already had some people ask me why I am so worked up over it.

Well, I am and I'm not.

I'm not walking around steaming over it. Its a headache, and an embarrassment when its happening, but I get to walk away, take a deep breath, and then move on.

But still... Every time I see it, I just have trouble shaking the feeling that we (heralds in general) just blew another opportunity to help make the dream that much more real for someone. I don't expect everyone to share my passion for heraldry, even voice heraldry. But Heraldry is about a lot more than just being loud, and when people forget that, I feel like they are disrespecting a lot of other things too, and a lot of other people.

The good news if that my next event is protectorate, and half the Barony are solid, hard working voice heralds. Say what you will about Namron, but I can't recall the last time I was disapointed by one of theirs. And Protectorate will be an awesome event, evn at its 'worst" it has never failed to make the trip worth it for me.

Okay... I got that out of my system.
Thanks for listening.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Nordsteorra Herald
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

"Non unus step tergum"

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Well, I have spoken with some of the powers that be and plan on making a showing at protectorate as a list herald. After my shoddy performance at my own group's event, I figured I should get back in the game a little and not let time add to my deficiencies

Also, above and beyond that, Protectorate is always a fun event.. I Remember traveling to Namron when advocating such a thing wasn't 'fashionable" in certain political climates. Even in the darkest of hours, people in that barony have welcomed me with hugs and smiles. And even those that aren't overly crazy about me usually had the decency to just let me be, I can't argue with that.

So, needless to say, I am looking forward to the event for a number of reasons, heralding being a big one, but far, far from the only one. 

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Nordsteorra Herald
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

"Non unus step tergum"

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Well, My plan this weekend was to go easy on myself, and be able to help watch my son while getting in a little extra heraldry.

I guess you could call it a success in that I wasn't running anything, but I think I am still recovering from the lasting effects of my past illness. I spent a lot of the weekend very winded, and at times nursing a throbbing headache.

But to be honest, being hot and tired is hardly a new thing for me, especially at events, so let me just get past the complaints and talk about Triumph itself.

My wife and I got to site early on Friday. So early, in fact that when we ran into Pete (one of the event stewards) my first words were “Don't tell me we [three] are the only ones on site.”

To this, he just shrugged, smiled and said “okay.”

Anyway, a little while later others arrived and my wife and I spent the majority of the morning pitching provincial pavilions and helping to set up the list field. By mid afternoon, (and after a happy-hour drink run to Sonic) people started to trickle into site bit by bit.

Attendance was something of an oddball thing this year. We had a lot of day-trippers, in fact, I wouldn't be totally surprised of as many as a third of the two hundred something gate count were Saturday-only people. Note: I'm, not saying that that is a fact, just having been there, I would not be surprised if that is what the numbers looked like.

As for heraldry, I did the morning wake up calls, like I usually do. Herald-in-charge or not, that is always fun. I tried to channel some of whatever inspiration I had at the last Samhain, and make the calls entertaining, or at least less obtuse than most eight am Saturday morning wake-ups are.

“Hear ye! Hear ye! Hear ye! Powers greater and less (or more) sober than myself have deemed this to be your morning wake-up call. Rise up, rise up and embrace the day that we can share company and joy with one another. If you recognize the tent you are laying in, than you obviously didn't drink enough last night. But that's okay, because you will all get a second chance tonight.

Know now that armor inspection for the heavy weapons tourney starts at eight thirty, and morning court will start at nine.

But also be aware, that both of these items could easy be subject to change at the determination of the people running them. So if any such changes take place, I do disavow all knowledge of this announcement, and therefor hunting me down and inflicting bodily injury will not correct the schedule.

Thank you one and all, and welcome to the First morning of Mooneshcadowe's Provincial Triumph of the Eclipse.”

I got more than a few chuckles out of the “disclaimer” part of my herald.

To be honest, the bulk of the day was quiet in terms of heraldry and the like, at least for myself. I wanted to catch some list heraldry for the Guardian tourney, but between wrangling my 4 year old son, and a splitting headache, that didn't happen.

However, that is not to say that heraldry was a lost cause. Allow me to digress for a bit.

The Blackhearts Fencing Club is a rapier group out of Calontir that comes down every year and just has an abject blast with us. They are good people, hard working, and a real hoot to hang out with. Each year I get to hang out with old friends and a few new ones from their club, and this year was no different. A young lady names Crystal and I spend some considerable time talking, and she voiced interest in learning voice heraldry before the heavy weapon's tournament. As much as I wanted to give her my short and sweet list heralding class, time and logistical constraints (AKA child wrangling) didn't allow for it. The good news, however, was that Lady Mave, another veteran herald, was happy to take a student for the hour and show her the ropes. And when it was all over, I got a good report on the effort. So that left me happy in many ways, and Crystal seemed satisfied with her efforts.

I did some site heraldry, and by afternoon, my voice was starting to burn out, so I was grateful for the break that came with dinnertime.

Now, evening court... hum... here is something I thought would be entertaining, but I drastically underestimated the situation.

I arrived just as court started, and watched the opening comments from the back of he crowd, all the while watching my son (4-years-old) play with a rambunctious pack of 7 through 13 year olds, and more or less hold his own.

His highness, Prince Own, started things off with a few comments, and then turned the court over to Their Excellencies Ian and Kalandra, Baron and Baroness of Northkeep.

Lady Adalia Vanderburg was heralding for them, and after a few very brief comments (and a few shameless event plugs) they turned to their herald to start their official business.
HL Adalia spoke, “Their excellencies do call Lord Ivo Blackhawk into their court.”

I would be lying through my teeth if I said that I was expecting anything involving me at that point, never mind an award from Ian and Kalandra when Owen was holding a Royal Court at our event.

I admit that I was actually a little worried as I walked up to the thrones, wondering what I might have done that would get me called up to a Northkeep court at a Mooneschadowe event.

I walked up, bowed to their Highnesses, and then presented myself before Ian and Kalandra.

“You requested my presence, your excellencies. And here I am.” I said to them dutifully. It wasn't a loud announcement, jut an acknowledgment to them of their authority.
Ian spoke up at this point. I don't recall the specifics, he was rather detailed, but he spoke about my heraldry for Northkeep, as a court herald, a list herald and a site herald. I wasn't overly surprised about the subject mater, I was rather up front from the word go about what I wanted to do as a herald, and how I wanted to do it while I was in the Barony. But I was just perplexed as to what in heck I was doing up there. I had a Sable Crane for my heraldry already, and I was sure a Thistle or something like that should come from Royal hands when royalty was present.
Then Adalia started reading from a scroll. Five words into it my jaw went completely slack and my eyes went wide as dinner plates.

They were giving me a Caistael Cridhe, the non-armigious baronial service award. I don't even live in the barony and I was getting one!

I've seen a lot of Caistael Cridhe's handed out, and almost always they went to people who lived in the barony. And as well they should, those are the people who work and cry and sweat and bleed for the group on a day to day basis. The bar should be set high for such a thing, and I was completely comfortable with the idea that it was a level within the barony itself I would probably never reach.

It looks like I was wrong, however. After the scroll was finished, Ian held up a small brass medallion and announced that it would be the first Caistael Cridhe to have a linage (more than one owner). Mine had been handed down from Her Ladyship Elizabeth De Calis, specifically to be handed to me. This means that the medallion itself now has a legacy, and it is up to me to uphold, and preserve that legacy.

Ian put the red loop of cord over my head, and then offered a very sincere thank you with a handshake and a hug. Kalandra did the same, and both specifically thanked me for my work for the barony.

I walked away from the whole thing...all four minutes of it, or there 'bouts, a little thunderstruck at the fact that I had gotten the award. I know, it sounds a little over the top to be so wrapped up over a non-AOA level award, but coming from Northkeep, the fact that they considered me one of them enough to give it to me at all is still something of a revelation. A good one, mind you, but still a big one none the less.

Anyway... moving on.

The next morning was, as it always is at triumph, dominated by the Rapier Tournament.
You know, as many times as I have done this goofy tournament, I was really mad at myself for how it went this year. Since I wasn't in charge of heraldry, I know my opinion only carried so much weight, but damn it, between my own screw ups and some less than stellar attitudes on the part of a few others, I was on the verge of just handing the cards back to the list mistress and quitting on more than one occasion. I didn't, and mind you I kept my opinions to myself at the time. But as a dedicated herald who got his start as a list herald, I don't think it the least bit inappropriate to have some standards for at least myself.

I shouldn't, and won't comment about anyone else here, but I, for one, was just totally disappointed with myself. It was amateur-hour out there for me. I was forgetting heralding orders, forgetting salutes, forgetting procedures... argh... I'm still steamed about it, and was ready to chew on nails Sunday night every time I thought about it. So, the rapier tourniquet wrapped up, and then came closing court. I know that's a fairly brisk summary of what was actually almost an hour by itself, but as far a substantive material for this blog, that really about covers it.

Hardly the glowing, shining review I gave last year for the same event, and I know it sounds like I didn't have any fun. In reality, I did have loads of fun. But this was just an off event because I didn't have a lot of heralding to do. And when I did... I was just not up to snuff this year.

Anyway... that's about all I really have to say on Triumph, this year, anyway.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Nordsteorra Herald
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

"Non unus step tergum"

Thursday, September 17, 2009

And marching off we go

I guess the best way to describe my feelings right now is to say that I am... out of sorts, if that makes any sense.

I've been heralding Triumph, at some level, for nearly a decade. I know I have been refereed to as "the" site herald for the event by more than a few people over the years.

This year, however, I'm not signed up for it. That's not to say I won't site herald. As a mater of fact, I would be surprised if I didn't jump in on that more than once this weekend.

Its been a while since I heralded a Saturday tournament, and I'm hoping to do that for at least one or two rounds this year. I do miss list heraldry at times, and this year I think I am going to make an effort to do some more of it.

Other than that?


I don't know. The weird part for me is that I am not signed up for a million things in advance. That was my usual MO for the longest time. If it was heraldry and I had a free moment, I was there. Now... its almost like my first event all over again. I'm not signed up for a single thing.

Well, except for Insegnante. I already told Reis that I was heralding that. And trust me, that is one tradition that I am in no hurry to break. The rapier community has been good to me over the years, for me to no give back would be completely selfish on my part.

Also... This will be my first year as a Regional officer. I know that that doesn't really effect what I do at Triumph. However, it is something new, and I have discovered that being a regional has its share of surprises and whatnots associated with it.

But anyway... that's my take on this weekend, at the moment.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Nordsteorra Herald
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

"Non unus step tergum"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Grand Assembly of Archers.

Well, its been a while, so I figured I should sit down and say something about Namron and Wiesenfeuer's Joint event; Grand Assembly of Archers.

As I understand it, the hope was for seventy five people to gate in. And that was considered a respectable mark because it was opposite of a new Medieval fair in Tulsa, and ultimately, it was during a not-no-minor wet spell that hit central Oklahoma that weekend. So, frankly, all the ingredients were there for a disaster. New event, plus crowded calendar plus rain... almost never fails.

So just imagine the shock-and jubilation--the autocrats must have felt when the gate count clocked in at 150. That's right, over 150 warm bodies, and well more than two thirds (at the minimum) were shooting that day.

It was honestly great to see. Some of those targets got turned into pin-cushion by the volleys of arrows that got sent flying down range. And for those of us who didn't shoot (I went down to support the archers and help out if needed) it was always good to see friends again, especially people who don't normally see that often. And of course, its always fun to see people in their element, and the archers were certainly in theirs.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Nordsteorra Herald
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

"Non unus step tergum"

Friday, September 4, 2009

This Northern Regional thing...

Well, I'm not going to say I'm sorry I took the job. Far from it, as a mater of fact. But I am a little surprised by some of the politics involved. Nothing earth shattering, mind you, but certainly eye opening on some levels.

in any event, Nordsteorra herald can, at the moment, be described as a little bit of authority and a little bit more responsibility. Frankly, I'm glad for the minimum of authority, the SCA works so much better if you persuade someone rather than order them. I'm a little disapointed at how easy it is to reach the dead minimum levels set for the office. I mean, I wasn't expecting sweeping power or anything, but the list of things I have to do in order to keep my boss happy is actually small.

Small enough, as a mater of fact that I am quickly seeing how heraldry could languish very quickly if more than the minimum is not done. Locally, its not like I have to give each applicant a 10 credit hour college course. But, I am responsible for making sure they get trained and educated if they ask for & need it. I'm already hatching some heraldry classes for my locals, starting with some warranting, but I would also like to talk about some more advanced stuff. I'm not totally sure what that will entail, yet, but I'm working on it.

And after that, there is my plant to get regular installments into local newsletters.

Frankly, that idea is sputtering like a poorly kept 1960s 4 cylinder. I don't know what I am going to do, but I am not giving up on that just yet.


Anyway, I am by no means even remotely discouraged with the office, just sizing it up not that I have it. It has its good points, and its not so good points, and even some bad ones. But I still think I can make a hell of a difference given a little time.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Nordsteorra Herald
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

"Non unus step tergum"

Monday, August 31, 2009

Enlistment, philosophy and cats.

Some random stuff, not really anything in any particular order, but stuff I thought was neat.

A few months ago when I was at 30th year, I ran across an old friend of mine (and a fellow herald). We got talking and she pointed out that she was now a protege, like I was. I congratulated her and asked if she was pursuing being a pelican, or if she was just looking to codify a strong friendship. (I asked about these two examples because, in broad terms I have found that these are the most common reasons people give when asked why they are proteges)

However, this individuel shook her head and said. “No, neither really. I just didn't feel like trying to map out my SCA career myself, so I decided to let someone else do my thinking for me for a while.”

To this I offered a little laugh. “Oh, I see. I think mundanely we call that enlistment.”

She laughed in return. “Enlistment... Yeah, I like that comparison. That's it to a tee. I enlisted.”

So there you have it, yet another approach to protegeship.

And today I was driving home when I saw a bumper sticker that just seemed to strike me as perfect.

“May God help me be the person my dog thinks I am.”

When I share that comment with a friend in Northkeep, he laughed hard, and then added. “You see, that's why I like cats, they make you earn their respect.”

think what you may, but he's got that last part dead on, in my honest opinion.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Nordsteorra Herald
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

"Non unus step tergum"

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Stepping up, stepping out, and leaving a few things behind.

Well, I think it is time I did some housekeeping, and set aside some stuff that was really complicating my SCA game more than it should have.

First of all, I am closing down, for the time being, my production of "The Blackfeather News". Click for details, but the short summary is that I'm not in a position to do the show justice right now.

Needless to say, I am probably going to pull away from a lot of the local activities in Mooneschadowe, and concentrate my efforts on my Regional office, Nordsteorra Herald.

Now let me be clear... anyone who knows me knows that I have clashed with a few locals over the past few years. However, this move has absolutely NOTHING to do with that. I applied to the NR office in order to serve the kingdom and the region. Right now, I feel that in order to do that, I need to pull back from local happening to a degree, and concentrate on my office.

And building on that, I am going to start making Namron's pop meetings again.

This became problem when Namron's pop meetings were moved to the same night of the month as Mooneschadowes, and I had to choose. Well, now, the situation had changed, and I don't feel that I need to make every Moonescchdowe Pop meeting in order to participate in the group anymore. There are still heraldry meetings, and A&S nights. And On dance nights (I don't dance), Master Robert and I are learning the game GO, and that is just loads of fun.

I really don't know where my current situation fit into where I want to go with my SCA career. Sure, I know I'm not completely off base, or anything. But right now, I see a lot of short term objectives, and not a lot of long term ones, so I might want to look into that some more. I don't want to loose side of my intimate goals here.

But with all that aside, I personally feel that I am in a position to make some big changes in the north of the kingdom. And those would be changes for the better, and changes that don't necessarily push against the way things are done, but rather open new venues for people to play the game that aren't quite so active right now.

Other than that... well, Life is moving on.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Nordsteorra Herald
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

"Non unus step tergum"

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Well, Master Robert and I tried our hands at Go this evening during a Mooneschadowe's dance meeting. The rules are, more or less simple, but the game is very, very complicated when you get down to it. Robert is no rookie at this, and I, myself, have never played it before. So this was simply a mater of learning from defeat, and I never really thought it would be anything else.

I do look forward to playing in the future, and on that note, I am interested in seeing who else in the north might be interested in playing a game or two with me when I am in there part of the kingdom.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Nordsteorra Herald
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

"Non unus step tergum"

Monday, July 27, 2009


That's how many miles I put on my car today.

71 of that was getting from my home to my office, and another 71 can reasonably be written off as "I would have driven that far anyway". But that still leave 124 miles that I detoured so that I could make it to Northkeep's populace and baronial candidate polling tonight.

I'm posting this for two reasons. The first is that some people asked me over the past few days what I plan on putting into the office of Nordsteorra Herald.

Well, 124 extra miles a month is a good tangible example of what I think this office should get out of me. And that isn't just me driving to the group. Its me being able to spend time with them, talk with my deputies and friends, and offer encouragement and parse for people who have done well for me.

I wish I could have a presence in Eldern, or Bonwick, or Adlersruhe. But the fact of the mater is that I can't, much to my dismay. For them, I will have to make sure that they get as much logistical support as I can muster, and I need to make sure to keep a good line of communication with their heralds, and their other officers. Heraldry doesn't take place in a vacuum.

But that doesn't mean that I owe the groups I already travel to one second less of my time now that I am a regional officer. Frankly, I feel that my travels have helped make me what I am, bothy as a person and a herald.

So, am I just driving 124 miles a month?
You could look at iot that way.

I choose to took at it as an investment. And let me tell you, so far I've gotten my money's worth out of it.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Nordsteorra Herald
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

"Non unus step tergum"

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A minor commentary on some parts of my life.

"non unus step tergum"

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Nordsteorra Herald
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Little update

I'll try and keep this brief. I really don't want to distract from my SCA topics, but at the same time, I have had a lot of people ask about this. As most of you know I underwent surgery six months ago for hemolitic anemia. The hope was that removing my spleen would alleviate the problem.

Well, six months out, and it seems that that is not what happened. I am jaundice again, though this time at a greatly reduced rate. The most telling feature if the whites of my eyes, which are yellow on the outside edges and moving in towards the iris. However, let me point something out, before my surgery, I it would take me less than three weeks to get this bad, and according to my last doctor's visit (three weeks ago) my hemoglobin (the red stuff that carried oxygen to my body from my longs) is still much, much higher than before the surgery.

It looks like my body will probably always be at war with itself. My immune system is still destroying Red blood cells, which is more or less what it was before before. HOWEVER... it is now doing it without a spleen. Practically speaking, we just hamstrung its ability to accidentally kill me. Before, the spleen was doing between 85% and 95% of the blood destruction. Without the prednisone, I would have probably suffocated on dry ground in less than six months. Now, whatever my body is doing, its doing it with a fraction of the ability it had before.

Now, the hematologist is thinking that my body may reach, or may already have reached some point of equilibrium where it can match the rate of red blood cell destruction with its own increased rate of hemoglobin production. If that turns out the be the case, I may spend the rest of my life with a slightly yellow ting to go with my scar and the bumps on my head (if you don't know what the bumps are all about, just ask). But let me tell you, even now, I feel ready to take on the word, so this is not the life altering, just-been-hit-with-a-baseball-bat type affair that it was before.

We don't know all the details yet, but the simple fact that I am not buttercup yellow from head to foot, and drop-dead-tired all the time (I've been off the medication for over 5 months now) tells me that even if this is something that never goes away, we are not talking about the life threatening cluster$&@! that it was before. (pardon my language, but that's how I really feel about a lot of that mess right now).

I know a lot of people saw me at 30th year, and saw that I wasn't doing so good. Let me alleviate a lot of fears now. First of all, I wasn't 100% to begin with, I'm about a third of the way to loosing the 97 pounds that the steroid hung on me while I was taking it, so that wasn't the best of circumstances. Second, as everyone who was there knows, it was bloody hot. I've never been particularly at home in the heat, but with everything else, medical, social, logistical and whatnot, the heat was the extra nail in the coffin. Simply put, 30th was rather scary for me, and very punishing. I didn't know how much of my pain and fatigue were due to a deteriorating situation and how much was due to me not being ready for the heat. with two weeks recovery time, I now now that it was more heat than anything else.

In any event, I am more or less healthy, and ready to make a hell of a splash as the Nordsteorra herald.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Nordsteorra Herald
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Long two weeks (Part 2)

Well, as most of you probably know already, I have been eying the Northern Regional Herald's position for close to a year now, if not longer. As a herald, I felt like it was one of the best venues available to me to help heraldry in the north. When The Nordsteorra office came open for application a few months ago, it didn't take long for me to take stock of my situation and decide to put in my application.

To be specific, I was ultimately one of two people who applied, though the other person is a dear friend.

As an aside; I will freely admit that one of the things that we both discussed was writing each other a recommendation letter. Though this sounds chivalrous, the real goal, at least on my part, would have been to totally mess with the Star Principal Herald's head. Heralds are like that at times.

Well, thirtieth was my interview, which was very much a low impact thing. I can't be sure, but I think some of the questions were meant as feelers so that Alden could decide what my agenda was. I was honest, and respectful, to be sure. But I didn't candy coat anything. I was very frank about wanting to see more voice heraldry in the north, including list and site heraldry as formal classes. But there was also a healthy bit of acknowledgment of the fact that I am still new to a lot of the administrative side of this, and that I would be leaning hard on those who came before me.

So, in the end, on the Friday before Redtape, I got the following e-mail.



First let me thank you both for submitting applications for Nordsteorra Herald.  Both of you bring excellent qualities and capabilities to the table, and next to appointing my own successor, this was probably the most evenly matched pair of candidates I've had to choose between for an office.  Thank you for that!  HL Emma, Incoming Star and I have discussed it, and we agree that at this time Lord Ivo is our choice to step into the office of Nordsteorra. 


Appointed, or not, I am very confident after talking to you both that you each have a desire to increase the art, service, and visibility of heraldry in our kingdom and I am sure that you will do just that.  I have a feeling, and I sincerely hope I'm right, that I will continue to see your names moving around the different CoH offices in years to come!


Thank you both again very much!


In service,

Alden, Outgoing Star


So, in short, I got the job.

And that was just before I left for Redtape.

Fortunately, Redtape was not the inondation that I was afraid it would be. A lot of good people were there, and a lot of people were glad to offer help to me when asked. As always, the College is full of people who want to help out, and are eager to watch out for one of their own. The Plenary meeting was interesting, and informative. It was fairly clear from the word go that HL Emma, the new Star Principal herald, has a specific agenda, and from what I have seen of the college, this is not a bad thing in the least. Like I have said from the beginning, Agenda just mean you have objectives going into a situation, regardless of what negative innuendo the word might have.

Unfortunately, Redtape was not long enough after 30th year, and I was still feeling a lot of the effects of the heat and the effort that went into 30th, so my energy levels were low at best, and by Nine PM, it hit rock bottom and crashed like a rock.

I woke up maybe an hour or so later, and made use of our host's laptop to check my e-mail account. That was when I first saw the Officer's e-mail account. Ansteorra is using a G-mail based system, so I'm familiar with the overall layout. The good thing is that the G-Mail system they use is simplified, fewer bells and whistles, and not a lot of fluff to distract from the job at hand. Overall, i like it.

So, with that, I conclude what was a very long two weeks worth of time.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Nordsteorra Herald
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Long two weeks (part 1)

Well, when I see a movie with a character running around all over the place screaming “its all too much”, I used to roll my eyes and say “God help me, would she just get a grip.” Well now I am in a position to feel a little... okay a lot more sympathy for the person in question.
The past three weeks have been rough on me. Rough in a good way, but still, rough is rough, and these were the embodiment of that definition.
Okay... where do I start? Oh, yet, let me highlight the project I have been working on. Right around the beginning of this month I was contacted and invited to interview the baronial candidates for the barony of Northkeep. The stated intent was to help make opinions and personalities more widely known across the barony so that everyone would be that much more informed during the polling.
I really don't want to go into too many detail, but if anyone is interested, the end results are posted here at my podcast website. I will point out that interviews are far, far trickier than I ever guessed they would be, and are much, much to actually conduct that a regular recorded show in my home “studio”. All of the candidates were wonderful to work with, and were phenomenal people to speak with on issues such as leadership, nobility and history. It was an honor and a pleasure to work on the project, and an absolutely amazing experience all together.
Oh, yeah.... that little event called “Ansteorra's xXx year celebration”.
As most of you will probably remember, I volunteered to coordinate list heraldry at the event back in August of last year. To be blunt about it, things could have gone smoother for me. Communication between list and site heraldry was almost non-existent meaning that my getting word out that I even needed heralds was an uphill fight against a mountain of circumstances.
I wasn't exactly at my best either; between the heat (104 was the coolest day I was there) and the fact that I was only six mouths out after surgery, didn't exactly bring out the best in me.
But, this isn't to say that the effort floundered. Quite to the contrary, there was something of a conspiracy between the tournament organizers, the fighters (light and heavy) and God himself that let me and my heralds actually manage to cover all of our bases. This is an e-mail I sent to the herald's list detailing my thanks to everyone.
Frankly, I knew I was in over my head when I got out of the [van]
Thursday night and was physically knocked back into my van by the
triple-digit heat and high humidity. I wasn't feeling 100% anyway, and
when I got to site that day, I was left wondering if 100% would have
been enough.

To be fair, the first people I need to thank are organizers of each
and every tournament. Without fail, these men worked with me so that I
had some handle on where my limited resources had to be, and where
they were not needed. When you have three tournaments going at the
same time, simply being told in advance that one of them doesn't need
heralds is a God send.

Then, I need to thank His Lordship Alden. Not only did Alden task me
with organizing the list heralds, but he was ready to help when I came
to him Friday afternoon on the verge of tears, overwhelmed by the
situation I already had, and terrified of what I was going to be
facing on Saturday when the rest of the expected attendees showed up.
I don't think that even Alden fully appreciates how dramatically
helpful his advice, calm composure, and well-though-out answers were
to me.

Alden... If you ever need a list herald, just ask. I owe you one.

Next.. Adena and her staff of water barrers.
Let me be clear about this. The temperature wasn't just triple digits,
it was dangerously high triple digits at times. I considered it my
personal duty to take care of everyone and anyone working for me.
Towards that end, when I pointed at one of my heralds and said “They
need water.” Thirty seconds later—if that-- it was in their hands. To
be frank, without the water barrers, Heraldry wouldn't have.

And now... the people who volunteered to work their tails off at my request.

HL Adalia.
Adalia was practiced at this when I first started butchering names a
number of years ago. By all accounts, I should have been taking orders
from her this weekend.

However, when I was in a pinch, it was Adalia who stepped in, took the
lion's share of weight off of my shoulders and said “Ivo, got get a
drink and come back in an hour.” And I could walk away knowing that
now mater what type, or how big the situation was, she could handle
it. But at the same time, she backed my calls, helped me where she
could, and didn't add conflict to chaos (something that is very easy
to do when people are hot and tired). A welcome addition to my team on
any day. Thanks!

Diana (and forgive me if I'm misspelling that name).
For anyone who noticed the rail-thin young woman who was marshaling
and heralding alternately during the rapier fighting on Saturday, take
note. Inside that featherweight frame is a lot of potential, and a lot
of perfectly good skill. While long time heralds like Adalia and
Myself can put on a theatrical flare to what we do, there is something
to be said for the rookie who is willing to stand up and just call the
list because there aren't enough people already heralding. It takes
guts to try, and it takes character to keep going after the inevitable
butchering of names. This young lady has both, and I look forward to
seeing her again, no mater what skills she pursues in the SCA.

When someone walks up to you and says they have never done this
before, there are three ways of looking at the situation. The optimist
says “Hooray, Blank slate!”. The Pessimist goes “God help me, I'll
have to teach this one everything.” And the pragmatist goes “Well,
lets see what he's got.” Depending on how cooked I was, I think I
caught myself (shamefully) saying all three of these things to myself
as I walked m'lord Arden through the basics of List heraldry during
the too-short gaps between rapier tournaments. I felt horrible that I
couldn't sit down and give him a proper walk-through talk, and then
walk him through the tournament process in something resembling a
calm environment. Instead, I was forced to take my typical ten minute
“on-the-job” training talk, and cram it down to about three minutes.
But guess what? Three rounds later, I saw Arden managing his own list
field, asking the right questions, making sure to drink water, and
staying in the shade, while the whole time conveying a calm expression
of professionalism. While I take full credit for teaching him he raw
information, it takes character to apply it, and it takes dedication
to stay with it as long as he did. Based on what I saw at 30th, I am
proud to call this man a fellow herald, and would be greatly honored
to call a list with him again some time in the future.

Another hard-working colleague from the north showed up on site in the
form of Lady Castellana. There is just something to be said for a
person who can project over a bunch of chatting fighters, and cry
lists for the better part of a tournament, no mater the heat. When I
was in a pinch, she was there, helping to shoulder the weight of the
job. For heralds, there are times where the best option available is
to just jump in to the fray, and hope you can outlast the situation.
Castellana was willing, and able, to do that on more than a few

One unfortunate sole I want to commend was m'lord Alexander; a teen
who was willing to herald, and wound up following me around site for
an hour while I tracked down help between tournaments. No sooner as I
started towards the rapier field than he was called away by more
pressing issues (I think his mother out-rank's me). But still, he
stuck to my side for the better part of an hour without complaint. And
that's worth noting.
Alex, sorry it didn't work out for you, but trust me, you don't have
to wait long in order cry a list at most SCA events. If you still want
to learn list heraldry, see if a local can give you the pointers you
might need. And then head to any event with a tournament, most of them
will be glad for the help.

Now, for the life of me, I must hold my head in shame for this next
part. Several people stepped up and helped to cry Crown tournament on
Sunday. Castellana being just one of them. Four others are men who's
names are lost to me, and for that I am truly sorry because they
deserve credit for their work. The bulk of Crown tournament was
characterized by list heralding over or through large crowds, in
oppressive heat with little to no shade close to the field. Most of us
were going on too little sleep at that point, and all of us got more
sun that we really needed.

I also want to make mention of the Landed Baron, (and Lion of
Ansteorra), who came forward and politely requested the honor of
crying the final rounds of Crown Tournament. I was told by many that
you are a master in this trade, and your performance did not
disappoint. Thank you for adding your skills to that day, and thank
you for adding another level to the dream with your cries. I look
forward to the chance to work with you again, should fortune grant me
that opportunity.

I not only think, but I am certain that there are names that were
probably cooked out of my skull by Sunday afternoon. If anyone knows
of these names, or is perhaps one of them, don't hesitate to say so.
You've earned that much.

List heraldry at 30th was, frankly, a lot of work, with not a lot of
people. Yet time and time again, people stepped up to the plate and
did their best. And often times, their best turned out to be well
above the minimum needed to get the job done. Each and every one of
these people brought the heart of a lion to their work. They stuck it
out, and saw things through. These are the types of people that The
Dream is built both on and for. To all of them, I want to extend a
heartfelt thanks for contributing so much to 30th year. The kingdom is a better place for your efforts.Thirtith year could have gone smoother, but it did come out on top, at least as far as list heralding went. It was an honor do serve the crown, and it was an blast managing the list heralding for the event, including the Crown Tournament on Sunday. However, crown did take more out of me than most events. Between the extremely high heat (like I said, 104 was the coolest high of the three day stretch) I got home on Sunday afternoon was was totally and completely burned out. And as busy as the week was (even with Monday off of work to recover) I was totally, and completely burned out. The week as pretty hectic on me, mostly work stuff. Nothing really unusual, just a lot more of the usual stuff than I was expecting.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Glory of Paperwork...

A while ago, when I started heralding  as a primary discipline in the SCA, decided to make a basic script for the Mooneschadowe Populace meetings. It doesn't mater how well you remember the script, I always liked having my papers with me so I could keep track of who was where, who said what, and who needed to say what. Well, since June of last year, I haven't been calling populace meetings, so those forms had sat in my bag and done nothing for the last 12 months or so.

Now, July will mark the beginning of a new administration here in Mooneschadowe, with a new senechal, and several officers coming up on the end of their terms in the next few weeks. The upcoming senechal, HL Sabine, contacted me, amongst others, today to ask about heraldic ins and out of managing a populace meeting. Most of what she wanted to know was represented in my sheet, so I admit it was a hoot pulling it out for her to use.

Its alwasy cool when something you made is useful to others as well.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Before I was a herald.

I just posted a new addition to my online personal library. This is a writing assignment I turned in during my sophomore year of college.  The story it tells about, as well as the period of time during which I wrote this were both well before I became seriously involved in SCA heraldry, and today seems like it was almost another world for me.

Read and enjoy if you so choose.
"Battle Cry"

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God save the King!"

Stillwater News Press article.

As I said in my previous post, the recent Midsummer festival event got the attention of a local news reporter.

The good news is that the SCA got front page coverage, and the public got to see the best face of Mooneschadowe and the northern region in general.

The bad news; a lot of the quotes attributed to me in the article are actually the words of a good and dear friends who was also interviewed, His Excellency Ian Dun Gillin. I'm not to terribly upset over it, and I have spoken with His Excellency Ian, who just happy that the SCA got good press from it. I just wanted to point out the error and give credit where credit is due.

In any event, here is the article.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God save the King!"

A Midsummer Festival

There are some events that are just fun, and there are some event that are fun despite of crummy circumstances. When the autocrats for Mooneschadowe's Midsummer Festival proposed the event to us back in, oh I guess it was January or earlier, I don't think any one of us even considered that the temperature would be above 95 degrees. Saturday, it reached 106, and it was one hundred percent, certifiably, hot.

And, not surprisingly, it was a small event.

This, however, does not preclude fun, or productivity.

Mooneschadowe pitched all of its pavilions on the open field near the Payne County Fairgrounds, and the area looked smashing because of it. The turnout was better than I thought it would be, though I don't believe we quite reached the break even number that we were hoping for. Still, a lot of long time friends showed up, as well as a bunch of new faces. Sir Jean Paul said the day before that he only anticipated ten fighters, and that eight of them would be Mooneschadowe. He wasn't too far off, we only had eight, and I think seven or six of them were Mooneschadowe. There was some rapier fighting, and lots, and lots of children's activities.

The lunch (part of the event fee) seemed to go over really well, and there was a constant line for the Italian soda's once they started up.

There wasn't as much heraldry as I think the autocrats really wanted, but when announcements had to be made, my name was on the short list of available people... Go figure.

I actually only made a few announcements, but I had a blast doing it.

I was asked by the fest steward to announce that feast would be late because they didn't want to feed the fighters before sending them out to thump on each other. I think my announcement went something like this:

“Hear ye, hear ye! In consideration of the fighters who are about to begin fighting, it is the judgment of the feast stewards that lunch will be delayed one hour's time. It is my understanding that providing the fighters food before sending them off to fight traditionally ends badly for the fighters, ergo we ask your patience on the subject.”

I didn't find it all too funny, but several people were chuckling after I was done, and the steward was grinning widely as she shouted to me “Thats exactly what I wanted, thanks!”

Another good moment; when the heat crossed the 102 line, someone pulled out a garden hose and a lawn sprinkler and asked me to tell everyone that it was available for the children. However, the announcement didn't go exactly as planned.

“Hear ye, hear ye! Unto all parents, be it known that a hose and sprinkler as been made available for the recreation of the smalls on sight...”

To this I was instantly cut off by no small number of adults saying “Only the kids?” or “What's the age limit?” and “Can I play too?”

I paused, shrugged, and then went on with. “... for the enjoyment of smalls of all ages on site. So, if you do not wish your child, sibling, or spouse to return to you sopping wet, it would behoove you to make your opinion's known to the lady who is supervising the sprinkler, as soon as possible.”

As I walked back into the shade, a lot of the fighters and adults were making comments like “Heck, wher'es the line?” and “You go ahead, son. I'm right behind you.” It was all very amusing.

A final foot note to the whole water thing, later on that say I saw a child standing in the stray of the sprinkler, and she was completely soaked. I doubt she could have gotten any wetter if she would have jumped into a pool. Well as I stood there and looked at her, I wondered to myself if her mother was aware of just how soaking wet she was.

Well my question was answered a moment later when I saw her mother walk out into the spray of the water to wet her wimple down.

Next thought: “never mind, I think she knows.”

I was recruited last minute, (think, 90 seconds warning) to herald the event's court for there excellencies Eldern Hills and Northkeep. I didn't exactly have my stuff with me, so I improvised, and worked with it. It wasn't a royal or baronial court, and Mooneschadowe didn't have its own Nobles, and I was opening the court for two sets of nobles....

Oh, and did I mentioned that it was bloody hot?

So, I just winged it with “This does now open the court held in, and for, the province of Mooneschadowe.”

This was the first, and probably only event I have ever been to where an award was given out for best heraldry. Ian did the honors with that, pointing out that a lot of people helped herald (and they did). But then he added that there really was one primary herald for the day, and guess who that was.

My prizes were actually very functional as a herald. There was a ceramic mug, one of those fake books that is actually a storage box, two pewter rings that I think I will use as signets, a heating pad, and a small pad of paper. All in all, truly practical things for a man in my field, so it was a touching gift, I must say. I think the book will be of special importance because I am very annoyed when I have to cry a court and carry an extremely mundane looking pad of paper up there. This will give me a cover for my mundanity, something I will be glad to have.

As an aside from the event itself, the public face of its location lead to an article in the Stillwater News press the following Sunday, and a number of people coming by to ask about us. All told, I think that the event effectively paid for itself with the publicity alone, regardless of what monetary shortcomings we might have had.

If I had it to do over again, I would suggest changes, but I certainly would look forward to seeing something like happen again.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A thing worth doing...

I have been told by a lot of people that anything worth doing, is worth doing right. More to the point, if its really worth doing, its worth fighting for. Sometimes fighting for something means going toe to toe with a human opponent. However, today, it mean going nose to nose with circumstance, and working our collective buts off despite a lot of shortcomings in the weeks, days and hours leading up to today.

So, let me less cryptic and put a name to the event in question.

Today was the first day of the Stillwater Irish & Celtic Heritage & Music Festival. On top of doing a demo, the SCA was also obligated to run Gate for the event. And this isn't an SCA gate, this was nowhere near as organizes, or polished, or calm. This was a regular, good old fashoned, mundane headache, with a tent out by the road, too few people, and 100 degree heat.

In total, we were supposed to run an demo indoors, and the gate outdoors, The Former really needed two really good people on it, or three average people at all times, and the later, which was inside, in the AC, really needed four or five people able to do things that attracted the general audience.

As it was, we had ten or eleven adults, (though not everyone was there all day) , and four kids (ages 3 to 10). And some of the adults really wenent in any situation where someone wanted to put them out in the heat for two hours at a time. This on top of the fact that the kids needed the obvious supervision.

So, this was not, by any streach of the imagination an ideal circumstance for us to take up the challenge.

Of corse, that dosn't mean that we didn't give it our damdest, and make one hell of a showing for it. I think that, al things concidered, it went exceptionally well. But we worked our tails off, and ran ourselfs ragged doing it.

So, in the end, a thing worth doing is worth doing right. But in this situation, it was also worth working until we were all bleary-eyed with heat and exhaustion.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Counting Down...

Well, Thirtieth year is coming up soon, and I am still on the docket as the coordinating list heralding for the event. My job is to make sure that everyone who needs list heralds gets them. On top of that, even through no one expressly said this to me, I also consider it my job to help train any prospective heralds who want to learn the craft.
I don't know exactly what to expect, I haven't been to a really, really big event in well over five years (actually I think its longer than that, but I'm not going to do the math to figure it out), and this looks like its going to be a hum-dinger.
Some good news is that that My wife, son and myself have secured a place to stay. I've already gotten some good-natured ribbing for this, but I am still on the men after surgery, and my son really doesn't need three nights of camping in July heat.

On some other news, Mooneschadowe is looking at a changing of the guard with a new senechal starting up next month. If you desperately want to know who it is, just look up who the local senechal is in the next blackstar, but I won't hesitate to say that this particlar woman is a boni-fied member of the Queen Elisabeth I fan squad. Considering the type of person said royality was, this partigular term should prove to be quite interesting (in a good way, I should think).

Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

Thursday, June 4, 2009

General update and such.

Well, no sooner do I get back in the proverbial swing of things that I am starting to feel too burned out to do anything.
Life is like that some times, or so I'm told. All things being equal, I'm actually going well, but I have been told that it could take another month before my energy levels are back to what they were before I got sick.
But still, I'm a thousand times better than i was six months ago, so that's less of a complaint and more a lazy lament ;)
Overall, I'm doing fine though.
In any event, I'm hoping to turn out the next Blackfeather News show this weekend. And at the end of this month will bring the deadline for applications for Nordsteorra Herald. I'm looking forward to seeing how that goes. (I turned my application in a while ago)

Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Okay, this is just cute.

No, its not heraldry, and not it has noting to do with loud people or court or anything of the like. However, as the man who runs this blog, I'm allowed to break my own rules (Did I ever set any to begin with?)


Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protégé to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Kingdom of Ansteorra
“God Save the King!”

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Baronies, Friends and Officerships...

Its always good visit Northkeep. Outside of Mooneshadowe, my longest standing ties have always been with the Barony, and I have a lot of friends there. I got there tonight after driving from my office in Oklahoma City (two hours and twenty minutes, all said and done). I arrived, and spoke with some friends and the like, just general chatter, the truth be told.

About three minutes after the populace meeting was supposed to start, the herald still hadn't showed up, so His Excellency started asking around to see who would fill in for Kevin. Well, I must the reaction was rather amusing. He walked up to Mistress Talanna and Lady Zahava and quietly asked who between them would like to herald. Talanna replied to the offer without even batting an eyelash. “I'm retired and she's (Zahava) on vacation. There... go ask Ivo, he's a herald!”

Okay.. yes, I will freely admit that that was one of those warm fuzzy moments for me.

The meeting went over well without any problems or real shocks.

Afterwords, I ran into a good friend of mine. I am specifically leaving his name out for a reason, But I will say he is a good herald and a good friend. We spoke for a bit, and he mentioned that he wanted to apply for the NR herald's position, but was holding back because he knew I had applied and didn't ant to get me mad at him.

I laughed hard at that and told him to apply if he wanted to. At the regional level, we need good people, and if I didn't get it, then that means there was someone better for the job. We talked a little more on that thread and came to an agreement; If I get the job, he becomes my deputy and backs me up. And if He gets it, I become his deputy and back him up, as well as learn more about the job. As far as I'm concerned, this is a win/win station for me; if I get it, I get it. If not, I get to be an active deputy and can be that much better prepared when I apply next time.

And besides, if I don't get it, I'll still have List heraldry at 30 th year, and a whole bunch of little stuff I can do here and there.

I'm actually liking life right now. And getting the Northern Regional heralds position isn't going to make or break that fact.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk

Protégé to Master Robert Fitzmorgan

Kingdom of Ansteorra

“God Save the King!”

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A game?

Some thoughts to ponder, if you want to.

Does a squire's accumulated physical training just go away every time he takes off his garb a goes to work?

Does a friendship formed on the battlefield of a melee event stop existing when those people meet at a bar after work?

Do the skills required to lead a barony, or a shire have no relevance when we walk into the board room, or the office, or the shop?

Do the improvements made in our character while we are in the SCA just vanish when we go back to the mundane world Monday morning?

Do the relationships formed in the SCA have any less relevance in our lives than the ones we form in the mundane world?

Ask yourself those questions a few times.

Now... ask yourself this.

Is it really fair to say this is “just a game”?

Lord Ivo Blackhawk

Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan

Kingdom of Ansteorra

“God Save the King!”

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A step back, and a step forward.

I have something of a eight month plan now, or at least thats the best summary I have for it.

I have decided to take a step away from my local group of Mooneschadowe, and try and become active in the overall Northkeep, Wiesenfeuer & Namron area. Included in that is a sincere hope that I can make it to a few of the Skorragarðr and Chemin Noir populace meetings. I would also like to be able to spend some time with Eldern hills before the year is out, but thats one heck of a drive for me. As far as the extended region is concerned... I'll do my best, and I do have some ideas, but I am only one person with a ' 97 Pontiac to get me where I'm going.

Like I said, I have a few plans and projects on the drawing board. A few of them I can't talk about, at least not just yet. I need to firm them up a little more before I let the world have at them. First and foremost, however, I intend to do some more teaching, namely in voice heraldry, but I also want to sharpen my book heraldry skills as well. I am also getting ready to start up The Blackfeather News again, and I hope to once more make that a regular resource for the North. Another big thing that is coming up soon is Ansteorria's 30 th year celebration (no promises that the link will work after August). I'm currently slated to head up list heraldry, so that will be a lot of fun for me, and if you, or someone you know, wants to cry a list or two for me, drop me an e-mail ( engtrktwo “at” gmail “dot” com) and we can coordinate.

God willing, I will be able to update my wardrobe by 30 th, I like what I have, but for the kingdom's birthday, I want to have a little better. I'm looking into hats at the moment, and I'm thinking of getting something with a long black plume in it (yes, its a pun off the Blackfeather News. But my name is Blackhawk, so what do you expect?)

Anyway, thats me for the moment, back in action and looking forward to having a hell of a lot of fun.

Ivo Blackhawk

Protege To Master Robert Fitzmorgan

Kingdom of Ansteorra

“God Save the King!”

Sunday, April 5, 2009

In the Hospital (Part one)

Well, if anyone is wondering why this took so long to post, I'll tell you right now that it is exceptionally hard to compose anything on the computer when the words on your screen spontaneously start jumping around the screen and doing the hamster dance (less music). No, I'm not talking about some new computer virus, but rather the mildly hallucinogenic side effects of hydrocodone on a man five days after surgery. So that kind of slowed me down a bit.

However, I figured after venting my frustrations and anger for most of the kingdom to read, I might as well put a bookend on this story and tell some of the positive parts of my tale.

The rescheduled surgery was for Tuesday, the second of March. This time, however it was for noon, meaning that I didn't have to show up before sunrise for registration. I was there the Monday before for lab work, and this time the lab techs drew about three extra vials of blood from me, just to make sure there was no repeat of the previous week.

So, Tuesday arrives and my whole family loads up and heads down to the hospital for the big event. I arrived early, signed in, and was shown up to the surgery waiting room. The volunteer who greeted us recognized my name and asked me “ weren't you in here last week?” rather bluntly. He wasn't being rude so much as just stunned as seeing a name twice in two weeks. We joked it off, and gave the man the summary statement of the previous week. He didn't say anything else, but I got the impression that he had heard more than he was saying. (Actually, I wont detail any of this beyond this statement, but throughout the previous day and Tuesday morning, I heard several comments that lead me to believe that hospital administration had made their presence felt in spaded after I had had words with a few of them the previous week.)

Anyway, to make a long story short, I was lead back into the surgical prep area and run through the same gambit that I went through before. I put away my things, changed into the drafty hospital gown, and then sat down on the bed to wait for whatever was to come. My mother, wife and son were all there at one point or another. Though after a while I directed them all back to the waiting room. It was taking me all I could muster to maintain my composure, and the stress of having to keep a smile in my face for my three-year-old son was really, really hard.

I would like to point out that a friend of ours from the SCA volunteered to watch our son during the middle of the day. Obviously, naming names here would be inappropriate, but they know who they are, and I extend to them my greatest and deepest thanks for helping my wife out during this time. By all accounts my son had an absolute blast playing with his friends, and for my family, not trying to keep a three year old entertained in a hospital waiting room was a God-send.

So, the hour approached and I got to meet the team once again, including the new anesthesiologist, and the same head surgical nurse. The anesthesiologist and I spoke briefly, and he said he wanted to give me a pain blocker before the surgery, it wouldn't do anything for the procedure, but would probably help me for a while afterwards. I shrugged and agreed, figuring that I had nothing to loose, and I wasn't in any hurry to feel any more pain that I really had to, within reason anyway.

Just about then surgeon came in and went over some last minute details with me. One of which was when he explained where the spleen was, and that mine was enlarged, about twice the size it was supposed to me. Well, I knew where the thing was, I had known that ever since I was told I would need to have it removed. However, the whole part about it being enlarged... that was news.

“Um... Doc, Whats this about it being enlarged?”

“Oh, yeah.” He explained. “We've known that since the ultrasound last month.”

I nodded, and recalled a number of other such proclamations that the man had made in the past. It wasn't that I was upset about the spleen being enlarged, it wasn't going to be a factor in a few hours anyway. However...

“Okay, an when were you going to tell me this?”

Understand that this isn't the first time I have asked the man this exact question. To his credit, he took on a slightly sheepish expression. “Oh... sorry.”

I just rolled my eyes. “You were saying.” Like I said... it wasn't going to be a factor one way or the other in a few hours anyway. And I had made my point (again) about how I wanted to be kept in the loop about my own treatment and condition. So, anyway, after the last minute pow wow, everyone went their separate ways.

A short time later the nurse came and wheeled me out of the prep room and into the operating room. While she was doing that I was relating one of the funnier stories from my time as a volunteer fire fighter, she got a kick out of it and the laugher helped me get past the nearly paralyzing apprehension I was feeling.

Anyway, that pain blocker I mentioned, its administered by injection directly into the spinal column, kind of like an epidural, but without the hose and all that. The nurse mentioned that she had gotten one before and that they didn't hurt too bad. I had to sit up while the anesthesiologist numbed the injection site on my back, in general terms it was about halfway between my waist and the bottom of my shoulder blades as I remember, but even then I was just guessing. The truth be told, the numbing injections weren't bad at all, I think a bee sting would be too strong a comparison. And I didn't even feel the needle that went into the spine itself (Thank God!).

However, when the anesthesiologist was done, he grabbed the sterile sheet that was taped to my back and yanked it clear in one swipe, taking about a square foot of hair with it. I nearly came off the table I jumped so hard.

“Hay!” I shouted over my shoulder. “ How about some warning next time!”

“Sorry” the man replied through some considerable laughter. “Forgot that that part wasn't numbed.”

The irony, and the humor of that hit us all about the same time and for a few moments all of us were laughing pretty hard at my expense, and I honestly was enjoying it.

So, they laid me back down, and a moment later the anesthesiologist told me he was about to administer the first round of drugs. I waited for what was probably a solid minute (I was counting the flashes on the digital clock on the wall, so I know I wasn't too far off) and then said.

“Are you going to hit me or not, doc?”

“Actually, I just did... about three seconds ago.” he replied.

That thought took about a second and a half to register with me. This was the moment that I had been terrified of for the months leading up to this. The fact that I was going to be rendered unconscious by an outside force was just terrifying for me, and here I was, all of a sudden face to face with that exact sector.

I only had one response, “Oh...”

The next thing I know, I'm looking at the ceiling of the ICU as I am transferred from one bed to another. There wasn't even any time perception in between the two images. As far as I am concerned, it was like having someone flip the channel on a TV screen. One second I am looking at the OR ceiling, the next I was looking at the ICU. Just like that, and in less (perceived) time that it probably took you to read the first sentence in this paragraph.

Now, while I was not conscious for any of it, I do know that I was hit with the first round of anesthetics just after noon I don't know what time I woke up, but I know it was late, probably after seven or eight PM. So, call it eight hours. I was so stunned by the suddenness of the anesthetic that I remember asking one of the people who was standing by me “am I done?” In retrospect, I don't think that their would be any other reason to put me in the ICU if I wasn't done with surgery, and I even remember thinking at the time that I probably was done, but still...

“Don't worry buddy.” a male voice replied. “You're all done, you did fine.”

To give you an idea of how lucid I was at that point I remember saying “Cool, I think I'll go back to sleep now.”

The truth of the mater is that I didn't sleep. My situation was too out of the realm of normal for my body to go back to sleep. My abdomen was numb, well most of it anyway. And what wasn't numb was tender, and sore. I was in a different type of hospital gown than I had been wearing when I went into the OR, and there were bandages across the left half of my belly. I had an IV in the back of my hand, and arterial line into my forearm, and a huge line into one of the veins in my neck. Oh, almost forgot, I had a clear plastic drain pipe running out of one of my incisions, and a pain pump and delivery line leading into another.

Add onto all of this a naso-gastric line. Don't know what those are? Well pull out your Latin books and cringe alone with me. Naso means Nose, Specifically its the same root as Nasal, and Gastric comes from the same root as Gastrointestinal... So yes, its a plastic hose than runs into your sinus cavity, down your throat and into your stomach. Its used to keep the stomach from producing too much acid while your under. I'll be the first to tell you, that of all the lines and wires they had me hooked up to, that goofy NG tube quickly earned its way to the top of my “get rid of” list. Just it by itself made breathing and swallowing tricky, and the latter became mildly painful when my sinuses realized their was something in there and started dumping mucus in response. Imagine a major head cold with ugly drainage, and you have a quarter inch diameter hose running down your throat.

Well, it was a long night. Best as I can figure, I was awake most of it, from eight PM on. I found the controls for the bed and raised myself up into a sitting position, almost fully upright. From there, I just sat still and looked at my surroundings for most of the night. I don't know why, but I didn't watch TV, even though there was a remote right next to me. Every half an hour or so, the blood pressure cuff on my left arm would automatically inflate, and the computer it was hooked up to would take all my vitals at the same time and transmit them to the nurses station.

About a hour or so after I woke up... give or take, I guess, my wife came in. By then it was late enough that she really only had time to say hello and tell me she was leaving. I learned that my son had already been taken home by my mother, and my wife had to follow relatively soon. We said out goodbyes, and I reassured her that I was awake, so the worse was behind us.

The rest of the night was a long, lonely one, but not unpleasant, considering the situation. I sat still, and just took in my situation little by little as time progressed. I probably dosed here and there, but I have a mostly coherent memory of the majority of the night, so I was probably awake more than not. The ICU had a strict policy against even activating cell phones or laptop computers, and there were no land lines in the rooms, so I was completely cut off from the outside world. Though I have to admit, I was so worn out at that point that holding a phone to my ear would probably have exhausted me in a hurry.

Dawn brought the next shift of nurses, as well as the ICU turning up their lighting. I hadn't noticed it before, but the ICU wing turned down most of the hallway and room lights during the night shift, kind of like on a submarine, where the overhead lighting is dimmed so that the crew has some sense of “day” and “night”.

It was at this point that I met Chris and Sheela, the two nurses who would be looking over me for the day shift. Chris kind of reminded me of a more modern B.J. Hunnicutt, not so much in appearance, but in attitude, and comedic timing. Not only was Chris a consummate professional in his work, he also went the extra distance to lighten my spirits, and try and keep a smile in my face when he could. When I had questions, he never hesitated to answer them, and when I didn't understand the answers, he never seemed bothered by having to explain himself a second time. Sheela was slightly less involved in my care than Chris was, though I think that was happenstance more than anything else. The two of them were responsible for three or four ICU rooms from what I remember, and all four of us had out own set of demands during the day. That being said, I did get to speak with and interact with Sheela a good deal as well, and she too was an excellent nurse, and also had a pleasant and uplifting sense of humor.

Some time during the morning, I think it was probably eight or none, Chris explained to me the pain scale that the hospital used. It worked on a one to ten spread, with one being no pain at all, and ten being the worse pain I have ever felt in my life. I explained that I was “aware” of the incision in my abdomen more than anything else. I wasn't in any real pain or discomfort at the moment, but it was there, and any movement or shifting on my part did cause some discomfort. We talked about it for a bit and kind of came to the mutual agreement that I was probably at a two.

About half an hour later, that number very (and I to mean VERY) clearly went from two to three. Chris had said that I needed to let them know when or before the pain reached four because the pain killers I was on would take about thirty to forty five minutes to take effect and I didn't want to wait too long and have to deal with a five or a six. I called him in and told him that I was at a three, and really didn't want to see what four felt like. Chris nodded with a smile and said “Okay, I think we can work with that.” He left and came back in about ten minutes later with my pain killers, and I can honestly say that I the pain never got to four.

My mother arrived later on that morning. I was thrilled to see her, largely because she was my only contact with the outside world at that point. I had no other way to check in on my wife and son, or find out what was going on outside the hospital in general. For someone who liked to be able to check on things in the news, and check in with people via e-mail and IM every little but, being isolated in a hospital room was a real shock to my system on a bunch of levels.

Keeping in mind that my mother was no stranger to hospitals (my grandmother and aunt were both long time nurses, I and both of my siblings were born via C-section, my father had gone through open heart surgery a few years before, and all of us had taken our share of trips to the emergency room for everything from fever to stitches), it was good to be able to sit there and talk with her about stuff I had noticed, questions I had that I didn't want to bother the nurses with, and just general chatter. It wasn't all about medical stuff either, one of the major advantages with my mother was that she was not unnerved or bothered in any major way by hospitals, which meant she could sit in the ICU with me and not be preoccupied by the setting.

Probably around ten or eleven, The respiratory therapist came in gave me a spirometer that was supposed to make me work my lungs and help dissipate the anesthesia that was still in my lungs. I was told that I needed to use the think every two hours. I was actually fascinated by how it worked. It had a mouthpiece on a hose, and what you do is inhale. Each of the two chambers on either side of the hose attachment are ported (have holes cut into it) at the bottom, and each chamber has a small piston in it. When you inhale, the pistons rise up, but they aren't an air tight fit, so you really have to huff if you want to raise them up any distance. The right cylinder was marked our in thousands of milliliters, and the left chamber was simple marked from “bad” to “good”.

I took a few huffs on the device, and managed a meager 2000ml. A lot of that was the NG line still in place, it made it hard to breath, hard to talk, painful to swallow, and all of the mucus building on the back of my throat meant that I really had a time just trying to get a good breath in without coughing.

I called Chris in at that point and plead my case to him. Promising him that if he got rid of the NG line I would be able to do much, much better on the spirometer, and I would probably feel a lot better too. He pointed out that the doctor had not authorized him to remove it, and that they still hadn't confirmed that my digestive tract was fully awake yet. However, he said he was willing to buck the Dr's orders (or lack there of) in an hour if he could sounds indicating that my upper intensional track was indeed moving fluid okay.

In short he was on my side, and that was good enough for me. I agreed to the term and quietly waited the hour, coughing and hacking the whole time as my sinuses tried to decide what to do about the NG tube now that they were fully aware of its presence.

Let me tell you, the check for an NG tube is just creepy. What they do is unhook the tube from the vacuum line, put on a syringe full of water, and then put a stethoscope over your stomach. The point is to hear fluid moving through your stomach when they push the water through. It dosn't sound nearly as unnerving as it feels, and when they did it I thought I was going to get sick just from knowing that the damn tube ran from my stomach, up my throat, and out my nose.

Anyway, the noise I made was evidently good, because a moment later Sheela came in with a towel and just pulled the whole thing (about three feet worth of pipe) out. Instantly, my breathing got a lot easier and I could feel my energy levels go up by half in a mater of minutes.

Not long after that Chriss came in and told me that they wanted to try and get me to sit up and walk over to the chair in the room. Partly so they could change the sheets on my bet, but mostly because getting up and moving around (within reason) was the best way for my body to begin its recovery. Chris and Sheela were bother there to help me, and with good reason. While Chris was not a small man in any respect, if I went over, it would take two of them to hold me up, and even then it might not be any more than just directing me into a controlled crash. Chris told me that I would get light headed the moment I sat up. He was right, as my head left the pillow I got hit with a very distinct case of vertigo.

“Well,” I commented as I sat up unsupported for the first time in about twenty hours, “the bad news is that your standing on the ceiling.” I pointed at Chris, whom my mind was very clearly showing me as standing upside down, along with the rest of the room (contents and all). “However, the good news is that you are still in focus.” This was significant for me because over the past few weeks, the side effects of my prednisone had gotten bad enough that every time I stood up, the world would stand on its head and go out of focus for a few moments. As far as I was concerned, this was an improvement.

Both I and the nurses were pretty shocked at how stable I was on my feet. I wasn't going to be climbing any mountains, or even stairs at that point, but I wasn't wobbly, and I wasn't getting tired seconds after standing, and those were both good things for a number of reasons.

I was able to stand up and walk the distance without too much held, and it felt good to sit down in the chair for a while. About half an hour later I went back to the bed. Right about then was when I picked up the spirometer again and decided to see how I did on it without the NG line. It was measured out on the right side up to 5000ml. I was told that I needed to get the piston up to the 3500 mark at least ten times every two hours. Well I put the mouth piece between my teeth and let out a long slow breath. I wont say that it was easy, but I put my mind to it, and a minute later I had pegged the piston at the 5000ml mark eight times, and hit the 4500ml mark the other two. Chris had said that as long as I hit the 3500 mark, the Doctor would be happy, so I figured that hitting the 5000 mark would make him ecstatic.

Somewhere in there Chris came in to check my incision. Up until, that point the whole thing had be covered by bandages. Before he pulled the tape up, he asked me if I was squeamish at all. I said that I wasn't; I had seen enough stuff in my life that I was confident I could at the very minimum keep my cool at the sigh of whatever was under the dressings. Well, he pulled the tape and gauze back... and I looked down at what was beneath it.

Let me tell you, an incision thats less than a day old and being held together by 22 staples just is a completely new experience when its your skin that the whole scene is displayed on.

“Um, Chriss...” I choked out. “can I revise my last answer?” God Bless him, the man understood my situation and put some fresh dressings over it after the check so I wouldn't have to look at it.

The next highlight of the day was the visit by the physical and occupational therapists. The two of them came in together, and at that stage they both needed the same thing, to try and get me to walk around. There was some preparation, mostly me trying to choreograph how I was going to move around when I was under strict orders not to stress or strain the left side of my abdomen at all. Anyway, once the planning was all done, I managed to get up under my own power, and start walking. One of the ladies was next to me, the other behind me. We had all agreed that if I went over, the best either (or both, to be honest) of them could even hope to do was get out of the way and make sure I didn't crush some by standard; neither one of them had a snowball's chance in hell of keeping me upright if my legs folded.

We stared towards the nurse's station (about twenty feet out of my door), and one of the women said “ we'll go that far and then come back and see how you feel.” Well, we got to the station, and not only did I feel fine, but my legs were really enjoying the chance to move around some. So I asked if we could do a lap around the ICU wing (I'm just guessing, but I think the distance was about a hundred feet, give or take. The both women seemed surprised at my willingness to walk further, but quickly agreed.

About halfway around the ICU, I feel my right leg start to tingle, something I long ago figured out meant a cram was about to form. I was standing with a wall on my right side, and my hand was free, so I knew that if I fell over, I would hit the wall, and probably stay upright. So, without saying a thing, and without warning either of the two women, I stopped and started streaking my right leg to prevent the cramp. As my foot left the floor, I heard an audible gasp from behind me. I turned and saw the occupational therapist with terrified expression and a sheet white complexion. “My god, I thought you were going to fall on top of me for a second.”

Have you seen the Geico “trust” comercial? (if not, click on the link and enjoy). Remember the very end, when the poor gecko is about to get flattened, thats almost exactly the expression (bug-eyed shock and all) that the poor woman had on her face.

Anyway, I apologized for the scare, and then continued on. As I passed the nurses station the second time (I intimately did two full laps around the ICU, much to the astonishment of the two therapists), one of the ladies behind the counter took one look at me in my hospital gown (which covers down to my mid thigh) and promptly declares “Strut those sexy legs, honey!” at a respectable volume.

By the way, did I mention that laughing with twenty two staples holding your abdomen together is an extremely painful experience.

By mid afternoon it was time for my mother to head back to Stillwater, so I gave her a message for my wife and bid her goodbye.

Just before six or so, the surgeon showed up to check on me. He asked how the respiratory therapy was going. I pointed at the spirometer and said “Its going fine, I've been maxing it out the machine.”

The man looked at me with an openly skeptical expression. Rather than argue with him, I picked up the spirometer and put the mouthpiece between my teeth. When I inhaled the first time, the piston went rocketing up the chamber like it had been shot out of a cannon. With that being my warm up breath, the following nine were a little easier, and each time the piston was sent slamming into the top of the chamber like a bullet. After ten reps I put the thing down and looked back at the doctor. He was standing there with a slack-jawed expression. Without another word he walked out of the ICU room and I heard him go over to the Nurses station. “Can you believe that? Fifteen years I've been doing this and I've never had a patient do that twenty hours out of surgery!”

With the evening came an open room in the general recovery wing. Chris and Sheela both helped me get my small accumulation of things together and loaded me up into a wheel chair for the trip over.

After I got there, I had trouble finding my cell phone, and I found out that a collect call dialed out from the hospital would cost my wife $15.00, though she could call me for free if she knew the number. Sheela, God bless her, loaned me her personal Cell phone and I was able to call my wife and tell her the the number to reach my room with.

That was, more or less, the last time I saw either of those two, and the last I saw of the ICU during my stay.

I'll eventually sit down and write about the next three days, but I think this is enough for one entry, don't you think?

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"