Thursday, 29 March 2018

Call for Commentary: Nominees for the SCA Board of Directors

The Chairman of the Board is asking for members input. Your opinions matter! Follow this link to go to his post on the SCA webpage. Have your say, or nominate someone.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Beer and Roaming in Little Burgundy: Part Two

Part Two: 

A Tale of Two Tickets

As part one came to an end, I was headed up a steeply inclined snowy street in Montreal. I had a healthy glow, thanks to a liquid lunch and a wicked case of windburn. Only a few blocks lay between me and a free solo show from Einar Selvik, front man of the Norwegian band Wardruna.

Scarlet faced, sweating profusely and swiftly running out of steam, I trudged on through the snow. Every time my pace slowed, I thought of the line to get in, sped up again and leaned into the hill. Soon, I could see the Grey Nun residence peeking over the top of the hill. No line around the block and time to spare. Again, I had made it. 

Side entrance of the Grey Nun Residence

Inside, there was a line of about 30 or 40 people stretching down a long set of stairs into a tiny stiflingly hot foyer. Attempting to catch my breath I suddenly caught my reflection in a window. Dripping sweat, face bright red with eyes looking more than a little crazed. I tried to blend into the walls and not think of all the people and the fact we were crammed like sardines into the foyer. 

The crowd was fairly uniform, dark clothes, leather, some in full garb and even some with faces painted with runes. The line grew, past the inner door, then the outer door and soon around the block. Groups of students would crowd down the stairs occasionally on their way outside, nervously eyeing the growing horde of hairy leather clad fanatics and doing their best to ignore us. Then, mercifully, the line began to move.

After shuffling up the stairs and into the hall I managed to grab an aisle seat with a decent view. I had my project bag with me and brought out my lucet, I figured working on a cord would relax me; it didn’t. Stuffing the snapped cord back into my bag I saw some people changing seats in the second row. There was a vacant seat; no one jumped up to grab it so I pounced. Then we all waited and waited some more. A hush came upon the room as the man of the hour made his way up to the front. He was introduced and the talk began.

Having seen several videos of similar events I was anticipating the music, but more excited to hear the stories he had to tell. Growing up in Bergen, learning about history, the Sagas and of course, how he came to the music. He explained how it wasn't enough to simply re-create, or re-enact a musical tradition lost to history, but to breathe fresh life into it and create something wholly original and new.I tend to go on about this group and its members. I do listen to other music that’s similar, but Wardruna has always had a special resonance for me. 

My father’s side of the family comes from a town called Bodø, it’s just north of the arctic circle in the Nordland region of Norway. My own Norwegian heritage has been something I’ve always been proud of, but my knowledge of the culture and people is lacking. Listening to Wardruna influenced me to start reading the sagas and to learn more about my ancestry. It was the push that started a chain of events that led me to the SCA and to Montreal.

I sat enthralled, as a man only a year older than myself described how he had to build his own instruments, or have them built because they didn't exist outside of a museum; if at all. He described some early attempts, which in his words ‘sounded like shit.’ He was friendly, humble, often made jokes and the audience was giddy for it. We were treated to some bukkehorn playing, which was of particular interest to me as I had brought my own along. I had wanted to have it with me as a sort of moral support along the way.  
In the foreground, a bukkehorn used in the concert. Background birch lur.
The talk continued. Conversation veered toward modern difficulties with publicly displaying runes and Norse symbols and then quickly back to early Scandinavian adopters of Christianity.  Then he picked up a Kravik lyre and asked if we wanted to hear a song. People cheered and he performed Fehu, I’d only heard the album version with the entire band, but the solo version gave me gooseflesh. It was magical(the clips can't do it justice), there’s no other word for it and I know how that sounds, but it was just magical. Later, we were treated to a beautiful rendition of Voluspa  that left me and the rest of the crowd speechless. 

Time seemed to evaporate and soon the talk was wrapping up. There was thunderous applause, the first of many standing ovations that would happen that evening. People were making their way up to the front so they could talk to Einar, but I was far too shy to try anything like that and made for the exit.

Now I had to head back the way I came, thankfully downhill, and then several more blocks to the Corona theater. Pulling a tunic out of my bag I quickly changed into garb and patted the inside pocket of my jacket to check that my second ticket was still there; it was. I struck out into the cold dark night to begin the two kilometer trek to the Corona theater.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

2018 Trillium Exchange Survey: Ealdormere Pride

Calling all artisans! 

I came across this post from Emelote of Calais on Facebook today.
The theme for this exchange is Ealdormere Pride, in honour of our Team Canada athletes at the Olympic winter games this year. We would like you to create items to show off our pride in Ealdormere. It can be LOUD and PROUD or subtle and delicate. Please make sure you let your artisan know which you prefer. 
Delivery is June 30, 2018 at Trillium War, we will also have our regular check-ins throughout. (April 7, May 5, and June 2) The Survey will be open until March 9th or when we have 30 people, whichever comes first.

If you're interested in participating, the survey can be found here.

Monday, 5 March 2018

The Academy of St. Clare of Assisi: Even More Stitches in Time

Our neighbors to the south are holding an event that may be of interest to crafty Ealdormereans. The event page can be found here . The Æthelmearc Gazette has a great article on the event that can be found here. Do all the things!

Friday, 23 February 2018

Beer and Roaming in Little Burgundy: Part One

Part One:

The Rocky Road to Wardruna 


Earlier this month I had the good fortune to see the Norwegian band Wardruna in concert on two occasions. I was even fortunate enough to attend an intimate session with their front man, Einar Selvik. The band uses traditional instruments and natural materials to produce music that has been lost to the ravages of time. They endeavor to make music that is not just a recreation of bronze age or viking music, but something that is much more. I've been inspired by this music to build my own instruments and to learn to play a medieval bowed lyre called a Jouhikko. This is the story of my journey to see the band. 

We had stopped at the Husky Hound Dog, the Pilot needed fuel and so did we. After ordering a gargantuan burger with everything but the kitchen sink the conversation turned to financial matters. My father was sharing some good advice, things were looking up and then I started to replay the events of the past few months in my head. The long wait was over I was on my way to see Wardruna in Montreal. Suddenly, a dreadful realization dawned on me; I had forgotten my ticket.

I'd remembered to pack extra socks and underwear, even my bukkehorn and Wardruna songbook. I'd left my ticket on top of my fridge, where I'd put it so I wouldn't forget it. Now I have two souvenir ticket stubs.

It’s at this point in the story that a clever narrator would say something like ‘And it was all going so well.’ This isn’t that kind of story and it hadn’t been going well. I’d spent the previous four months in anticipation of this concert. I was terrified of being in a confined space with so many people, but my own neuroses were about to take a back seat.

Like any responsible motorist, I wanted to make sure my car would be able to make the trip. That's was when things got complicated. A simple winter tire swap and inspection turned into a dumpster fire. Technical jargon aside, it would take several visits and lots of dough to get the car ship shape. When it came time for the second visit a new hiccup emerged. Something was very wrong with the transmission. With less than two weeks till the show, my car needed a new clutch and that was its death knell.

Tickets bought and paid for. Reservations at the Hotel Bon Solei made and by this time non-refundable, but no car to get me there. Public transport seemed the way to go. It'd be expensive, complicated and terrifying, but the simplest choice. It wasn’t as if I could conjure up a new car before the show, or could I? What started as a hypothetical search bore real fruit in the form of a 2011 Honda Pilot and I would take delivery the day before I needed to depart for Montreal.

With my Dad as co-pilot, of the Pilot, the trip was a sure thing. Even forgetting my ticket couldn’t dampen my spirits. The universe has ways of telling you 'Hey! Loosen up, things could always be worse.' In my case, the universe served me a gargantuan hamburger at a truck stop. It just happened to be delivered by a waitress who's face had been badly mauled by a dog; things can always be worse. 

The priority now was to get to the Hotel and sort out the ticket situation. The freeways of Montreal were not in a helpful mood. Huge chunks of the Turcot interchange were missing and it looked more like a war zone than a road work project. Traffic snarled to a standstill as we got close to the city, but we made it.

Home . A one star hotel above a gentleman's massage parlour and across the street from a 19th century catholic church.

The Hotel Bon Solei was on the top floor of a historic bank building, it was cheap, but clean and comfortable. More importantly, if had free Wi-Fi and I started to make arrangements to get my ticket replaced. I’d have to wait till noon the next day for the help line to open. If all went well I’d pick the ticket up at 2pm when the box office opened. 

It was a waiting game now. We had a gentrified neighbourhood full of pasty shops and cafes to roam around and roam we did. My sister had once lived close by, but much had changed in the years since; I blame the hipsters. One thing that hadn’t changed was the scrumptious food and top notch coffee. My father and I found a little café to eat at a few blocks from the Hotel and spotted a pastry shop to get breakfast at the next morning.

Things were looking up, so naturally I was waiting for the bottom to fall out; it didn’t. Breakfast the next day was beyond reckoning and with bellies full of coffee and puff pastry the roaming continued. Pricey boutiques and dimly lit hipster bars were plenty, but peppered throughout were antique shops and art galleries filled with opulent trinkets and ostentatious bits of home décor.

Eventually noon rolled around. Thankfully, payphones are plentiful in Montreal. Unfortunately, the one I ended up using was partly buried in a 10 foot high snow bank. The news was good, not only would I get a replacement ticket, but they’d waive the reprinting fees too. The waiting game began anew and it was time to rest and regroup at the Hotel Bon Solei.

The twin spires of Saint Cunegonde Church were a great landmark to steer us back to the hotel.

Both my Dad and I were a little tired from trudging up hills in the ankle deep snow. Soon I discovered I had quite the windburn, my entire face was a vivid scarlet and I had more roaming to do before the day was through. After I picked up the tickets I would have more time to kill before Einar Selvik was giving a talk and solo performance at Concordia University's Grey Nun Residence. The plan was to get the tickets and find someplace to get a beer to celebrate. As luck would have it, there was a rather nice pub called the Burgundy Lion right beside the box office.

Luck was being awfully kind by the time we arrived at the Corona Theatre box office. My ticket was there and they were doing sound checks for show inside the theatre. I had goosebumps, the realization set in that I had made it and no one was more surprised than me.The time had come for beer, two pints of Murphy’s Irish Stout and a Habs game on the big screen. I didn’t care much for hockey, but my Dad was chuffed to bits. Then I discovered the extensive selection of scotch on offer at the Burgundy Lion. 

Some bars have a small sidebar on the spirits menu devoted to scotch, this pub has a small novel organized by regions with chapters for independent distillers and some for staff picks as well. We settled on an experimental IPA cask from Glenfiddich and a cask strength BenRiach. They were transcendent and my scarlet wind burned face now had an even healthier glow to it.

With a belly full of cheer I parted from my father and set off to walk up another snowy hill. If I was going to make it to the Concordia show I’d have to be quick, it was a free event and there was bound to be a line up. I headed off towards Rue Guy and the steep street that lead to the Grey Nun residence. I wasn’t there yet, but I had made it all the same.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

2018 is upon us. Now what?


The first week of the new year is quickly drawing to a close. The winter months conspire to limit travel and activity; apart from shoveling snow. What do you want to see from the Gazette in the new year? Let us know.