peteyfrogboy: (rook)
I make three welds:
I have no heart that beats
But that's my pulse:
The center of my being,
The reason I exist,
And yet
It is not really what I am.

One hour each night
They stop my beating heart
To oil the gears,
To tighten all the screws.
I treasure
Every second
And I dream
Of leaving here
To see the world,
To see at all.

The people here
Complain sometimes
That work
Is not their life,
And wish they could
Go back to school
Or go to Spain
Or kiss that girl
They saw once
On the bus.
I want to tell them,
"Do those things!"
To make the choice,
To risk,
To leap,
To fly.
To have such dreams
And let them go
Would make me weep
If only
I had eyes,
For I would be content
To get to
peteyfrogboy: (rook)

I like to make these cookies to take to Pennsic because heat and humidity only makes them chewier. I usually omit the nuts and add dried cranberries or other dried fruits.

Molasses Cookies

Cook Time: 10 Minutes


1 ¼ cups sugar

½ cup shortening, melted

2 eggs

6 Tablespoons molasses

1 ¾ cups flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups quick oats

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup nuts

1 cup raisins


Whisk together wet ingredients in large bowl.

Mix or sift together dry ingredients in separate bowl.

Add to ingredients in large bowl.

Add raisins and nuts and mix until evenly distributed.

Drop by teaspoonful on greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 400º for 8-10 minutes

peteyfrogboy: (rook)

Each time my Queen is on the field
The Royal arms are lifted high.
The ancient bloodline stands revealed
Each time my Queen is on the field.
She draws Her sword, she bears Her shield,
And goes forth, unafraid to die;
Each time my Queen is on the field
The Royal arms are lifted high!

Written in honor of HRM Sorcha Heronchaser of Meridies, and all other Queens who share the joy of the battlefield.

Mirrored from Lorenzo's Workshop.

peteyfrogboy: (rook)
Photo courtesy of Terrill Johnson

Photo courtesy of Terrill Johnson

A week ago at Menhir, I had the pleasure of announcing the impending elevation of my good friend and foster apprentice Ginevra Brembati. I can take no credit for her many talents, only for encouraging her to put them on wider display.

Mirrored from Lorenzo's Workshop.

peteyfrogboy: (rook)

I heard a tapping at my door
And sat quite still and silently,
As startled as a rabbit for
I had no inkling who might be
Beyond that portal, barred and locked.
What face out there, that I might see?
Who stood without and loudly knocked?
The tax man come to take his due?
The comely lass with whom I’d talked?
A noble and his retinue?
A criminal with greedy grin?
These things and more went racing through
My mind as I stayed safe within
This shuttered home, this castle keep,
Protected from what might have been.
The noise that wakened me from sleep
Was gone as fast as it had come,
Returning me to silence deep.
My nerves, they jangled, then went numb;
I watched the door, but saw no clue
Of where my visitor was from,
Or why they made the journey to
Arouse me from my evening’s rest.
The fear I felt before now flew,
My heart slowed down within my chest,
And left me only with regrets
That I’d not risen to this test.
Could I be like the man who sets
His sail to go out on the sea
And seize its bounty with his nets,
Though he knows not what there might be
Among the fish in shining heaps
With spines to prick him, stealthily?
The clutching miser only keeps
What money he had at the start,
And, since he sows not, never reaps
The rich rewards that risk imparts
To those who bravely venture out.
I sit alone and guard my heart,
With loneliness I banish doubt,
But treasures I will never find
If I have no one else about.
So safety I must leave behind,
And bet my coin on something more.
Put on my shoes, make up my mind,
And set sail for a distant shore,
As I come knocking at your door.

Mirrored from Lorenzo's Workshop.

peteyfrogboy: (rook)

My lady’s heart seems to be carved from stone
Too adamant to mark with any tool;
I sweetly speak, abide by every rule,
And still, at evening’s end, I am alone.

What have I done? For what must I atone?
I give a dance, a glance, a shining jewel,
Yet though she smiles and dances, this poor fool
Has not the means to make her heart his own.

But no, it is no stone, it is the sea,
So beautiful, so boundless, and so deep.
Upon its waves a man must boldly sail
To distant lands of gilded mystery
And bring back naught but what it lets him keep;
No man can own the sea, only the tale.

Mirrored from Lorenzo's Workshop.

peteyfrogboy: (rook)
A colony of ants has but one queen
And all the drones act only by her word;
Disloyalty is nowhere to be seen,
No grumble of complaint is ever heard.
  The faith of ant in queen is swiftly spurred
  By simple nature all throughout the hill;
  Can it be found in men who have free will?

Why should a man submit to one above
To follow orders calmly with a smile?
When ties are close, he may serve out of love,
But what about the endless rank and file?
  The lure of money may work for a while,
  But soon enough that sweet taste will go sour
  And purses will run dry that purchase power.

The ant knows in his heart the queen is true
And never would she contemplate deceit;
With such strong faith he works the whole day through
Or goes to battle, never to retreat.
  Though there are rules, a man knows he can cheat,
  And so suspects all others may as well;
  This taints his faith like poison in a well.

So what, then, is the cure for this distrust?
What balm is there to soothe the burning doubt?
The man who wishes to be followed must
In every action take the highest route.
  To earn the faith of men and gather clout
  By promises kept day by day until
  His honor grows high like the ant-queen's hill.

To lead or follow well, each is the same,
Though one is at the top and one below;
Each keeps faith and brings honor to his name,
And with each word and deed his fealty shows.
  For fealty goes both ways, as wise men know:
  The queen alone can't have her will fulfilled;
  A single ant won't know what he should build.

Mirrored from Lorenzo's Workshop.

peteyfrogboy: (rook)

The yoke of the cioppa was taken straight from my farsetto pattern, expanded a bit to account for layers worn underneath and little ease to get in and out of it. Looking at the source image, I decided that the pleated section would start just under the armscye, which made things nice and simple. I guesstimated how big I wanted the final hem to be, did some math based on the number of pleats I wanted, and came up with 4″ wide finished pleats at the bottom. Since they needed to be round, I planned for them to start at 6″ wide, with the extra taken up in the tucks and the curvature. I did some similar guesswork on the width of the pleats at the top, which came out to 3″ for each of the 24 pleats. This is the same ratio I’ve used in the past, so that was reassuring. Despite the lack of precision in the design phase, everything ended up lining up exactly where I needed it to go.

If none of that pleating stuff makes sense, there’s an explanation of what I’m talking about in this handout.

Here’s a picture of one of the panels:

IMG_0841Here the edges are basted together (they will be run through the serger after the pleats are sewn), the pleats are marked out, and one of the tucks has been basted. The basting stitches along the line of the tuck keep the layers together so I don’t miss one when I sew it. The top and bottom edges have also been turned under and finished already. Once all the panels are complete, they are sewn together at the edges and stay tapes are installed:



Mirrored from Lorenzo's Workshop.

peteyfrogboy: (rook)
I don't know if I've posted this before, but if I did I didn't tag it properly, so here it is again.

I introduced [ profile] adelavanbrugge to a lot of new foods when we got married, but she brought a few new things to the table as well. Most of them came from her Grandma Crockett's kitchen, including this one. As usual, measurements are wildly speculative.

Wilted Lettuce

1 head of lettuce, cut into bite size pieces (green leaf or romaine is good, or spinach)
1/2 lb of bacon (or more, or less)
2 green onions
1/2 t. salt
2 t. sugar
3 T vinegar (white is traditional, red wine is good, an extra splash of balsamic will not go amiss)

Fry the bacon until it is crispy. Often we will go ahead and cook up a whole pound of bacon, saving what we don't use for later sandwiches or other leftover bacon implementations.

While the bacon is frying, put the chopped greens in a large bowl. Chop up the green onions (I grew up eating the green part and throwing the white part away, she was the opposite; I say use both) and add them to the lettuce. Sprinkle with salt and sugar. These measurements especially are a guess. It's hard to put in too much sugar, but too much salt will ruin your day. You can always add more later.

Remove the bacon from the pan. Chop or crumble however much you want and add to the bowl. Remove all but a few tablespoons of the bacon grease from the pan. If you are feeling health conscious, you can supplement the bacon grease with some olive oil. Add the vinegar to the bacon grease (carefully!) and return to medium heat. Simmer the mixture for a couple of minutes until your kitchen smells like vinegar. Pour the hot dressing over the salad and toss vigorously.

This makes an excellent side dish for many things, but more often than not we just put the bowl between us and attack it with two forks, sometimes with a side of pork chops or other non-vegetable. I can't remember if it makes good leftovers, because it hasn't lasted that long in years. 
peteyfrogboy: (writing)

My lady, you are like a rose,
A bloom of scarlet at your lips
And curves upon your rosebud hips.
As any worthy gardener knows
The rose is best that upward grows
Upon a trellis strong and true
So that it will not go askew.
And so, my rose, it’s plain to see
That I was clearly made to be
Entwined forever more with you.

My lord, your gardener astute
Would know which plants are worth their weight
And which are but to decorate;
The rose is pretty, bloom to root,
But in the end, it bears no fruit.
No climbing rose am I, you see,
But rather like an apple tree.
And your strong wood may serve me most
As, say, a bench, a fence, a post;
For my part, sir, I shall stand free.

This is a decima written in response to a poetry challenge. 

Mirrored from Lorenzo's Workshop.

peteyfrogboy: (rook)

I’ve been wanting to make a new cioppa for years now. The first one I made was an experiment using an unfortunately orange cotton print and some kind of nasty fake fur. The second was made of heavy grey upholstery velvet with bag sleeves (more on those later) that fell victim to the displeasure of a cat. The third was made of white satin and is still in service, though the pleats are unattractively flat and creased.

I was finally inspired to start working on a new cioppa by the works of Francesco Pesellino, particularly the Story of Griselda. I had found need of a way to fasten the center front of my previous cioppe, but with no obvious closure visible (and only a hint of a center front seam at all), I had used hooks and eyes. In this image, however, there are clearly cioppe with buttons! I decided to focus on the figure in the center of the image (the grey cioppa with white trim), which can also be seen from the front in the full version of the painting. The pleats start quite low on the chest, and they are relatively wide compared to other examples.

The main way I intend to deviate from the Griselda cioppa is the sleeves. There are a number of different types of bag sleeve, including one on the far left of another Pesellino painting, but I have always been enamored of a certain pair of sleeves from a tomb in Antwerp. They’re a good bit later and not Italian, but I don’t think they’re unreasonably outside of the realm of possibility.

I’ve started on the body of the cioppa already. The primary fabric is a charcoal grey wool suiting, interlined with cotton flannel and lined with red linen. The guards are synthetic burgundy velveteen. The heavy wool I used to use for lining my pleats is sadly all gone, so I am attempting to use burlap to serve the same purpose. Time will tell if this was a good idea or not.

Mirrored from Lorenzo's Workshop.

peteyfrogboy: (rook)
In the movies, there are usually a few places where people have managed to survive the initial onslaught. Let's look at these.

First, we have the military base/science lab. This is a fortified compound that can keep the hordes out without really having to try too hard, but they don't really want to let you in because they have finite resources. Are you a soldier or a scientist? If not, get lost. Sure, sometimes they might help you out, but most of the time they are jerks. Even though they aren't in any real danger themselves, they never have a solution for the bigger problem. Who are these guys? They are the 1%, and we are not them.

Next we have the hermits. They live far from civilization, and the zombie apocalypse has barely affected them. They are self sufficient, and though their lifestyle may not be as fancy as the world before the hordes came, they're really not that worried about it. These guys aren't even really a metaphor. It doesn't matter if the fears are given flesh or not; they have separated themselves so far from the rest of the world that they don't care. If you want to come live with them, cool. Hope you like farming.

And then we have the survivors, the rebuilders. They've holed up in a hospital or an old school, banding together in the ruins of civilization to try to make a stand. They're afraid, but hopeful. They've recreated society on a human scale, where everything happens face to face and you know who you can count on through personal experience. These are the peer lenders, the Kickstarters, the Occupiers. Their barricades may not hold, but they're trying to find a way to survive together, rather than going it alone.
peteyfrogboy: (rook)
So last night it finally occurred to me why the modern zombie genre has become so popular. I've heard some vague notion that zombies represent consumerism or something like that, but that never really rang true to me. Perhaps everyone else got this already, but I think what the zombie horde represents more than anything else is insecurity, primarily financial insecurity. Credit card and mortgage debt expands like the multiplying horde of the infected. Student loans will stalk you to the ends of the earth, and canot be killed. Is there a medical emergency lurking outside the door, waiting to leap on you and gnaw on your skull? Maybe not right now, but someday it will get you. One day one of the monsters will find you, and your life will be over, reduced to mindless shuffling and moaning as you pay and pay and pay until someone mercifully shoots you in the head.

The genre also focuses on lack of faith. More often than not, the government is the ultimate source of the zombie plague, and if they do anything about it, they are covering their own asses, not helping you. They'll nuke you along with everyone else. Science is in the same boat. Even religion, which can at least keep vampires away with a properly wielded cross, is useless against the modern zombie. There is no knight in shining armor or cavalry coming to save us. All our heroes have feet of clay, and stagger along with the rest of the hungry masses. This is how we feel about the world, and this is what makes the image compelling.

So if the zombie genre is simply a reflection of our own fears, why is it so popular, more so than standard horror tropes? All of these fears are invisible in the real world, and the zombie gives them tangible, rotting flesh. While we feel completely powerless against the faceless collection agency, at least the zombie can be thwarted with a baseball bat or shotgun, at least for a while. The zombie apocalypse survivor is not just the hero of the libertarian and gun nut, but the secret hope we all have that there might be something we can do to fight back against a world that seems hopeless and always, always, always out to get us.
peteyfrogboy: (rook)

Five pilgrims made their way upon the road;
From shining dawn to gloomy dusk they strode
On narrow lanes and ancient highways broad,
Through thoroughfares and pathways seldom trod.
A silk-clad noble walked with staff so fine,
His loyal servant always next in line.
Two sisters followed, standing always near;
Alone, a blonde-haired lady held the rear.
When evening came, the the group would sometimes stay
The night in stables, bedded in the hay.
Their hosts would offer food in charity;
The pilgrims would accept it gratefully.
One sister was with child and hungered more,
For her meal was split with the one she bore.
The one who walked alone, with golden hair,
Would always offer up some of her share.
They crossed over the rocky mountains’ height
That tested their endurance and their might.
Down a ravine the servant lost his staff;
The lady gave him hers and had a laugh.
Between two towns, as sunset crept to dark,
Three highwaymen thought them an easy mark.
They drew their swords and circled for the kill;
The sisters quailed, the servant froze quite still.
The noble called out to the lady fair
Then threw his gilded staff up in the air.
The lady caught the shaft of sturdy wood
And twixt the pilgrims and the bandits stood.
They laughed and charged, their blades raised overhead;
She struck three times and smote the robbers dead.
She asked the noble, who seemed not alarmed,
“Why give your staff to me and be unarmed?”
“Your pardon,” he began, “but your disguise
Is not enough to hide you from my eyes.
For fortitude you’ve shown, and charity,
Compassion, honor, and humility.
Though you’ve no armor, nor a sword to wield,
You bear six roses white on your red shield.
I know your army lost a battle near
The place where our new pilgrim did appear.
You home lies down this road but two more days,
And have no fear, I’ll not give you away.”
She smiled then, the unmasked knight in red,
And walked on where the pilgrim’s pathway led.

Mirrored from Lorenzo's Workshop.

peteyfrogboy: (rook)

A youth,
In truth

To think of
What he loves
From above
   In his mind;

His appetite
Is brought to light
So that he might
   Look for and find

Volition and grace
Enough to displace
Desire, and embrace
   The prudence of age.

Heart empty of strife,
He'll cleave to a wife;
The book of his life
   Will fill page by page.

Then looking back
He'll see a lack
Of song and sack
   Upon his lips.

Yet he knows
He foregoes
All of those:
   If he slips

He may


This poem is written in a style similar to that used by Stephen Hawes in The Conversion of Swearers (1509) (the second poem in the collection)

Mirrored from Lorenzo's Workshop.

peteyfrogboy: (rook)

Once the banner was dry, I cut it out just outside the gutta border. This also took quite a while, especially with a curious kitten nearby. I left the hoist end for last. Before cutting it, I tacked down a length of twill tape. Then I cut the silk off flush with the tape, folded it over, and sewed it up on the machine. Five more pieces of twill tape were cut, folded in half, and sewn down for ties:
banner-07 banner-08
The final part was the pole. I had originally planed a much longer pole, but one of my expert advisors said that ten feet was sufficient. I procured a 10′ piece of 1 1/4″ diameter poplar, cut down to 5′ lengths, and applied a coat of tinted polyurethane. I searched around for something to make the connecting sleeve with, and eventually found a 1 1/2″ chromed brass drain pipe that was just the right length. Here you can see both sections of the finished pole:
The sleeve was just a touch too big for the pole, so I wrapped a few turns of duct tape around the top end of the lower pole. This made a very snug fit, but just to be sure I drilled a hole and put in a galvanized nail to keep everything together. I also put duct tape on the bottom of the upper pole, but not so much that I couldn’t get it back out easily. I may add a retaining pin or bolt later, but for now I’ll just leave it as is. For the very top, I got a screw-in finial (If I had more time I would turn my own, but I doubt I’ll get lathe access before war). I wanted to make sure the banner wouldn’t slide down the pole, so I made a little hook out of some scrap 22ga steel left over from casket hardware. I drilled a hole in the end of the hook so the finial would hold it in place. That should be enough to hold the top tie in place when it goes on the pole.
banner-10 banner-11 banner-12 banner-13
Here is a picture I managed to get of the finished product outside:

Mirrored from Lorenzo's Workshop.

peteyfrogboy: (rook)

The next thing I needed was a frame to stretch the silk on. I had an idea in my head and hit the Home Depot to get the parts. I was planning to make a 2′ x 9′ banner, so I wanted a 3′ x 10′ frame. I found 3/4″ PVC pipe in 10′ lengths, and the nice lady at the HD cut it to the lengths I needed right there. I wanted it all to break down into small enough pieces to go in the car, so I got two 5′ lengths for each long side of the frame, two 3′ lengths for the ends, and six 3′ lengths for legs. This would put the frame at a nice working height. The long sides were connected with a “T” connector, with a leg holding up the middle. I wasn’t able to find corners that had 3/4″ sockets on each point, but I found them with 3/4″ sockets on two points and a threaded socket on the other. There were threaded connectors that fit into that and had 3/4″ sockets on the other end, so that ended up working out in the end. If you look carefully in the later pictures I think you can see how it all goes together. To stretch the silk, I got a bag of rubber bands and two 12-packs of 3/4″ binder clips. I wasn’t sure if that would be enough, but I think it worked out. Serafina had offered her new house for a weekend household workshop day, so I figured that her basement would be an excellent place to do the painting. We set up the frame in a room that was just barely big enough to hold it:
Once the silk was stretched out, it was time to start going over the design with gutta. Serafina had gone to Dick Blick to get dye, but was only able to find fabric paint. We took a field trip to Binders, where we were able to find a kit that had all the stuff we needed. Thus armed, we got ready to apply the gutta, only to find that the gutta in the kit had congealed into a gummy mass. As luck would have it, the “3D paint” she had gotten on her first run was pretty much the same stuff, and black, to boot:
We started at either end and worked toward the middle. Following the lines was much harder than we thought it would be. There was a lot of “it’s okay, it’ll be 20 feet in the air and flapping” going on. Applying the dye was pretty much the easiest part. There were a couple little whoopsies where we went outside the lines a tiny bit, and one near-disaster when I tripped while holding an open dye bottle, but mostly it went smoothly:
Here you can get a better look at how the silk was attached to the frame:
It was getting pretty late by the time the painting was done, so I took the banner home and did the dyeset rinse the next day. I would not recommend this, as there were some faint greenish marks on some of the white areas, which I presume was transfer from when it was folded up. Nothing really terrible, but something to avoid for next time.
After the rinse and wash, the colors were a bit faded, but still plenty visible:

Mirrored from Lorenzo's Workshop.

peteyfrogboy: (rook)

I saw her once and touched her hand
And danced with her a little while.
With but a bow, no gestures grand,
I saw her once and touched her hand,
To follow gladly each command
Not from her crown, but from her smile.
I saw her once and touched her hand
And danced with her a little while.

Written for HRM Thyra Eiriksdottir of the East, with whom I danced at Pennsic when she was Princess.

Mirrored from Lorenzo's Workshop.

peteyfrogboy: (rook)

I have been wanting a silk banner (standard) for years and years, but I’ve been putting it off. I finally decided that it was time, so I could have it for Pennsic. We’ve had a pile of silk for ages (from Dharma Trading, I would guess), so that part was already taken care of. I’d worked out a design sometime last year, and tweaked it a bit to come up with my final plan:


The motto was the translation I found on the interwebs for “Just Do It” (Google translates it back as “only make”, which is close enough).

I originally thought I was going to lay the design out directly on the silk, but reason intervened and I did the layout on paper instead. Three sheets of poster board and two sheets of charcoal sketch paper gave me just enough room to work out the design across a couple of folding tables:


I taped the paper down and went about my layout with compass, straightedge, pencil, and Sharpie. There was a fair amount of trial and error, so I’m glad I made the wise decision to save the silk for later. I printed out full scale samples of the text so I could get an idea of the size I needed. Instead of trying to trace the letters directly (hard to do through poster board), I rigged up a double pencil to draw the letters out freehand:

banner-06Once the design was finalized, I taped down a pre-washed length of the silk and transferred the design in pencil:



The layout was probably the part that took the longest out of this whole enterprise. It certainly took a lot longer than I thought it would. I’m glad I took the extra time, though, as I think the final product was just about what I wanted.

Mirrored from Lorenzo's Workshop.

peteyfrogboy: (rook)

Recently, Countess Judith of Northumbria asked me to write a set of sonnets for the Masque she was planning for the Drachenwald 20th Year celebration. Each poem was to introduce a particular dance performance, and I was given a particular subject for each from Classical mythology and history. I had to do at least a little research for each one, which was quite educational. They were written to be performed in the following order:

  1. Gifts of the Gods
  2. Penthesilea
  3. The Loves of Aeneas
  4. The Sabine Women
  5. Rome and Carthage

Mirrored from Lorenzo's Workshop.


peteyfrogboy: (Default)


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