Style Post #8

Vintage Haiori!

This vintage Japanese jacket (haiori? Am I spelling that right?) is one of my favorite pieces of clothing. Purchased from my friend Marixsa I’m in an on-going quest to pair it with the perfect outfit. Last time I wore it, I had a black faux wrap dress under, and black goes with everything, but I’m liking how the burgundy color of this eShakti dress brings out the warmth of the print. I’ve added an annular broach at the neck of the dress (I frequently do with this dress, that neckline is asking for a broach, isn’t it? and this trifoil broach from ThorThor’s Hammer is one of my favorites too.) I couldn’t find a mask that matched well, so went with black pinstripes (from JoAnn’s).

What I like about this outfit:

The silk! OMG, this jacket is just a pleasure to wear. The heavy silk drapes so well and let’s face it, nothing is like silk like silk. I also love the colors of the pattern. It’s also great at keeping me warm despite the over-zealous building air conditioning. The jacket’s sleeves provide a handy hiding place for items (like your ID card) if you don’t have pockets, but I prefer to keep them empty for proper draping so the eShakti dress having pockets is a definite plus! I like the color of the dress, I think it’s one of those universally flattering colors, and I think that it’s a flattering cut with the sash tie waist and a-line skirt. It’s also a very comfy knit and doesn’t require ironing. I feel this outfit gives me something very formal and business appropriate that still showcases my personal style and interest in other cultures.

What I don’t like about this outfit:

Sadly, the eShakti dress zips up the back. *sigh* why do so many cute dresses zip up the back? I get that a back closer is necessary for the high neckline, but honestly I’d rather a front opening. back openings also involve buttons or hooks and eyes at the top which invariably catch one’s hair. Thankfully the jacket protects my hair from being caught by the hooks and eyes here. I kind of wish the hemline was a tiny bit lower (it’s just past knee length, which does look cute with the length of the jacket, however.) The jacket does not get very dirty, however eventually it will need to be laundered, and I always dislike having to take items to a professional cleaners.


Weekend Update

Saturday we had a family reunion planned. I admit, I was dreading it. The weather report was rain and I hoped that it would be cancelled… alas, no.

I dragged my feet all the way. The husband had intended to go to the SCA event, however the rain meant that archery (the thing he was really looking forward to!) was cancelled and there was an announcement of a Covid positive person at the last meeting so the whole thing felt riskier than it did last week. So, he got to go with me to the reunion picnic. We got Pumpkin Spice Lattes in route to reward ourselves for going.

It wasn’t that bad; I did like chatting with my cousins from Chicago, Meghan and Brittany. I understand the urge to have a family reunion, but also I think they should’ve waited until the Pandemic was over to do it.

Sunday we were remarkably productive. We went for a nice long walk in the morning, then ran out to the library and got take out for lunch from our favorite diner. We did DDP Yoga, omg, I’m out of shape. But, did feel good for doing it! And there was much puttering around the house. I caught up a bit on my Inktober drawings. Also I pulled out my old sketchbooks to look for a sketch I had done of Jennifer Howard… I found four, actually. All dated 1997 or 2000. I snapped pictures and posted them to the memorial facebook group. It was something, looking through my old sketchbooks. Cringing a bit at mistakes I made, but some of those drawings are really quite good.


Thursday Gratitude

I have much to be grateful for, including:

  • A relatively meeting free day
  • I have a nice home, I really like it and all my stuff fits in it
  • I have a husband; so many people never find their partner.
  • I grabbed something for lunch this morning, thank you morning Gracie, noontime Gracie appreciates your thoughtfulness!
  • I forgot there was a stress management webinar today. Yay! always needed. Thank you past me for signing up for it.
  • I have a therapist appointment tonight
  • Had a friend reach out to me, that’s awesome.
  • I went and got an afternoon coffee from Fluffy Duck. A moment to be grateful for coffee shop proximity.
  • Both Amy and Candice kitty were in my lap at different times this morning. One almost wants to wake up earlier to have more kitten time in the morning. Almost. I still like sleep a lot.
  • I am feeling better today than I did yesterday. that’s something.

Weekend Update

After last week’s long weekend, two days seemed awful short!

I left work on Friday tired and grumpy… and realized as soon as I stepped out of the building that I had forgotten to change my shoes. My sneakers were up under my desk, my heels were on my feet. I paused a moment, considering… do I walk all the way around the building, go in and get my shoes or not? (I can go out the back door, which is the closest to my parking lot, but I can’t go in that door.) I decided no, my husband and home was waiting. I was going home. So it was not a happy foot weekend wearing my mary-jane’s for walks.

On Saturday I declared I wanted to go shopping for a new journal. I only had one page left in my diary so a new one was necessary. The husband and I went to Barnes & Noble and indeed, I found a journal I liked. It was also fun to walk around a book store for a bit. I also picked up a Jane Austin I didn’t already have (A collection of excerpts and short stories or drafts, you know, not the novels.) We also stopped for coffee and doughnuts, as one does.

I really wanted to use the hot tub that evening… but there was rain. Eventually I found a spot between raindrops to soak for 15 minutes, heh.

Sunday was rather booked; I wanted to go to Archery practice (noon to two!) The husband and I took a long walk first. I was a little late getting to practice (“You don’t have to be there right at noon!” said the husband. heh.) Well… soon as I got my bow strung… it started raining. If I’d been there at noon… I would’ve gotten to shoot more. I hung out with Gwyneth while Cadfan and Gladius, adventurous gentlemen that they are, shot in the rain. Once it let up I joined them for a couple ends, though it was just after 2pm by then! Glad I did do some shooting anyway.

Afterward, Cadfan came over our place and gave the husband and I an Iaido lesson, which was fun, if tiring. (Also, the sun came out and it was beautiful… it’s like the rain gods just don’t like archery?) We went over much of what we learned in our first lesson, like… how to put on our pants, heh. But we also went through our first kata and the pieces of it. Drawing the sword, stepping, sheathing, etc. It was starting to feel less awkward by the end!

In all, a good weekend. I didn’t sleep well last night (as usual on Sunday night. Work anxiety has a way of perking up and I did less well at beating it down and sleeping than last week.) So I’m tired and crabby today.


Jennifer Howard

I met Jen Bocchicchio (JenBo) the very first week of Freshman year in college. Her dorm room was two doors down from me and she was so friendly and enthusiastic and outgoing. We were instant friends. Early on she told me how I had to meet her friend Jenn Howard. She was JenBo’s best friend ever. I don’t remember exactly how long after that I met Jenn Howard, she went to a different college than we did so it was one of those rare occasions when college schedules lined up. She was much anticipated and heralded, after all, but at last we met and we also became fast friends. She was outgoing and friendly and enthusiastic. She (like JenBo) was in the SCA so I imagine she was at those early events I attended. Her SCA name was Jaguar.

After college while my sister Marie and I struggled with living paycheck to paycheck, Jenn Howard became a fixture of our social lives. At one point we were all working at CWRU. We’d hang out evenings and weekends. We were living in Little Italy and Jenn had a great apartment on the third floor of a house in Lakewood. When her landlord was out of town, Jenn was allowed to use their hot tub. So whenever the landlord was out, she’d invite friends over. Me, Marie, our boyfriends were invited a few times. We’d watch a movie and go for a soak in the hot tub. Those few nights stand out in my memory. Long talks about important and unimportant things. Jenn’s laugh. I remember we were down in the hot tub once and the boys were all up watching The Abyss and Jenn laughing about how silly they were. Who watches a boring movie when there are women in a hot tub??!

There were late night food runs, our one big party (for our 22nd birthday)…

Somewhere along the way she became “My wife” (I really don’t remember how that joke started, but we had fun with it.)

Anyway, we drifted apart. Marie and I got better jobs and moved into a better apartment. Jenn stopped doing SCA and didn’t work at the University anymore. I started dating the man who would become my husband. I really didn’t see Jenn much after I got married. Jenn was always more outgoing and more social than me. She set up gaming nights and coloring book nights, and she frequently invited me. I made it to one, but generally I was too busy or just too tired to go. (And being generally antisocial didn’t help. When in doubt, I stay in my hobbit hole!)

Over the weekend I heard she was missing. I was shocked, to see a face I know on a missing person’s notice, but I wasn’t too alarmed. I guess I’m an optimist. I was sure she’d be found, there’d be some hilarious story to explain what happened…. and then on Wednesday I got the news, she was dead.

I can’t quite believe it. It seems so wrong…. she was so full of life and personality. (Tigger was her favorite for a reason, she was loud, proud, bouncy!) I really feel bad for JenBo, who is out of town. I wish I could hug her and cry together that our friend is gone. I’m waiting for news of the memorial or how it happened, caught in the uncomfortable place between discovery and grief.

Jenn, I’m sorry I didn’t show up more often. I miss you, and I will never forget you.


Thursday Gratitude

Feeling sad, found out a friend of mine passed away. Life is fleeting and precious. Still… it is important to stop and be grateful for what we have.

  • I am grateful for the friends I made and the memories of the good times we had.
  • I am grateful for the love and support of my husband
  • Candice kitty came and laid down next to me this morning, purring.
  • Traffic was light this morning and I got a good parking spot despite being behind schedule. (I was still on time to work, not that anyone really would know if I was late or not as I’m the only one in the office today, but I hate being late so I am glad I was on time.)
  • Bath & Body Works
  • I really am grateful for the long weekend with my husband for our anniversary. I’m glad I have the free money to spend on frivolous things like a new necklace and glad we found that doughnut place.
  • Hey, 17 years of marriage. I am very grateful for that.
  • Cat pictures
  • I got to chat with Adam earlier.
  • Strangely, I’ve been sleeping well lately. It may be the cooler temperatures, or maybe I’m just getting better at telling my brain to shut up and let me sleep? I hope the later, as that bodes well for the future!
  • The Fluffy Duck Cafe


Style Post #7

What can I say, I like gray! I’m wearing a long gray plaid flannel circle skirt (with pockets!) I made myself paired with this great gray drape sleeveless top my sister Marie gave me as a gift and once again this great lace jacket from Passport to Peru. A nice long necklace from Brighton and my favorite gray beret. Also this fun “Day of the Dead” mask from Beau Ties (as you can guess from the name, they are primarily a neck tie company, so neck-tie wearers, check them out for matching ties and masks!)

What I like about this outfit:

Color scheme is on point. I feel very “me” in this. Though maybe a bit casual for work. I like the pockets and the skirt is nice and warm. I particularly like my painstakingly hand finished hem that would be just as nice had I run it through the machine, eh? The lace is very feminine and comfortable.

What I don’t like about this outfit:

The waist on the skirt folds over, boo. I could inter-face it… maybe a stiffer fabric? But… it’s a small flaw. Also the cotton flannel does stick to itself a bit so shaking the skirt out is a thing.


Weekend Update

I took Friday and Monday off of work for a long weekend for our Anniversary, and I needed the break!

On Friday the husband booked us both massages with a massage therapist. We headed out early to REI, but my heart wasn’t in hiking shoe shopping. We did find a doughnut shop nearby, Duck Doughnuts, where they made the doughnut to order! YUM! Hot fresh doughnut was a pleasant discovery! And I also popped into the Brighton jewelry store and bought myself a necklace. This cheered me up for no known reason. It is a pretty necklace though! And our massage appointments were very good. My shoulders! ow! I should schedule a follow up I think.

We continued our quest for Pumpkin Spice Lattes, visiting Luna Cafe at Cedar-Fairmount and Pheonix Coffee in Coventry. Both lovely shops. Luna was hopping! and both very tasty. Pheonix’s harvest spice latte was the most mild and subtle of the lattes we’ve sampled so far, with its hint of honey. Luna’s was yummy, but we’re still holding out that Starbuck’s was the yummiest.

On our Anniversary we went to Squire’s Castle and had a little hike. The Castle was busy! Lots of people taking homecoming photos, apparently. Lots of young kids dressed up posing. But a quick hike up the hill and we were alone with nature. 🙂 Alas, there’s no convenient loop trail there, so we hiked up as high as we cared to, and came back down.

On Sunday we went up to Golden Gate so I could buy the husband his belated anniversary present (I’m such a bad wife! I decided what to get him, but had trouble finding time to go get it!) Thankfully, he liked the shopping trip. He LOVES Bath & Body Works and enjoyed being there while I picked out his present, and picked out a few more items himself! The traditional gift for 17 years is apparently wine, so I got him wine and booze themed soaps and lotions 🙂 Bourbon body wash, Backberry Merlot hand soap, Champaign Toast lotion, etc. 🙂 (He got me two bottles of wine, heh.)

I finally used the yoga video I checked out of the library and returned it. And:

Knitting Update:

I finished the shawl! Huzzah! at long last! I finished casting off, wove in all those ends and blocked the thing. When I was blocking it, I had two breaks and runs! ACK! It took about ever pin I own to pin it out to block. The change in size pre-blocking and post was dramatic! Finally, once it was dry I knealt down and used a needle and extra yarn and fixed the two breaks as well as I could. My back was sore! I need more yoga and massages I think, if I’m going to crawl around on the floor with pins so much. Anyway, very pleased with the shawl, and the red yarn is super soft!

Circular shawl in red wool which took five hundred years to knit, approximately.

Friday Autobiography – My first Pennsic

This weekend is my wedding anniversary, so I suppose I should be writing about that, but earlier this week I had a dream where I was telling someone about my first Pennsic War, and I feel the need to write about it.

The Great Pennsic War is a very large SCA event which happens annually in Pennsylvania (Thus the “Penn” in the name.) I found the SCA my freshman year of college, thanks to JenBo, who lived a few doors down from me in our dorm and who enthusiastically recruited me.

That summer, between my freshman and sophomore years of college, we decided to attend Pennsic! JenBo, Lynda and I. It was to be my first REAL SCA Event (our college group had had a little feast thing in the spring.) We had a tent. I scurried to come up with something to wear. JenBo took me to a thrift store shopping. I bought a pink prom dress which I altered by taking out the zipper and putting in metal grommets for lacing, pounding them home on JenBo’s porch stoop. Ah, silly me! I also had a white 1970s romantic dress with puffed sleeves and lace (it also zipped up the back). And my first sewn garb; a black broadcloth tunic and blue polyester drawstring skirt to go with it. We had gone to the closest fabric shop to campus, which was in Amish country. Lots of choices of blue and black. The neckline was too big, the sleeves too wide, I pinched and stitched the waist in a couple spots to try to give it some shape, and it was entirely hand sewn, of course, as I had no sewing machine or access to borrow one.

JenBo and Lynda showed up at our house in Perry to pick me up. My meager offerings were added to the spacious trunk of Lynda’s car (or was it JenBo’s car?). I remember I brought a frying pan, this becomes significant later. I had almost no money beyond the entry fee.

We got to the War, and I signed up to be a full member of the SCA right there at the gate (You got a discount on the entry fee!) It was Pennsic War 22. August, 1993. It was hot. I didn’t have a hat or sunscreen that I remember. I had a summer sausage and a chunk of cheese and a frying pan. We had a green tent, similar to the sort I remembered camping in in my youth. I had made a sign for it on poster-board with our SCA names. JenBo was Tatziana Yuriovna, Lynda was Gwyneth Falconne and I decided to use Margaret… I knew it was a medieval name (thanks to the Medieval history class I had just taken last semester!) and it had the benefit of being my middle name already. We attached our poster to the side of the tent facing the road so everyone would know we were there. 🙂 (The poster-board poster did prove impractical, it fell down, got rained on and generally did not last, but I was terribly proud of it for its short life!)

There were a few others camping with us from our small college SCA group, including our seneschal Konrad Fuchs, who was also a fighter. (We were so excited when he went off to battle, we ran around camp to find something to tie to him as a favor, poor lad walked off with ribbons streaming behind, heh.) I remember finding all sorts of classes to take, learning to belly dance in our camp from one of the other ladies who had taken a belly dance class. A passing man on the road gave us each a bangle bracelet. (I still have it, by the way, a simple thin bangle, not expensive, but it was a big deal to me at the time!) I went to the Barn nearly every night to join the dancing.

Our seneschal said we should all try to volunteer, so I went to water bear for the Wood’s battle. When I got there, they said they had enough people on the Midrealm side, and sent me over to the East. I was so eager to please and do a good job; I remember jumping up and rushing forward whenever the hot fighters came out of the woods. I was probably frickin’ adorable. Two Eastern ladies who had been water bearing with me decided to adopt me. They were from Clan Ochoda, an Eastern household. They marched me back to my camp to collect my things, telling my friends I was now Eastern property. It was all very amusing. Our seneschal said they could have me, but the dress I was wearing belonged to the Midrealm! ha. Much laughter was had.

The Clan Ochoda ladies said I was now Pillage (They discussed other names, Booty was rejected as people may want to ‘shake the booty’) apparently they had kidnapped a young lady the last year who had a similar name. Anyway, it was all good fun. They set me up with a spare pup tent and lent me a cloak and fed me and generally treated me well.

I checked in with my camp the next day and Lynda said she was going to run home to shower and wash clothes. It seemed a great idea so I joined her. Lynda lived in Ashtabula, not a long drive. Unfortunately, we had a car accident on the way back to site, a fellow ran a red light in front of us. Lynda’s car had a bench seat in the front, and she is considerably taller than me, so her knees were smashed into the dash, and mine only got bruised (though the red paint of the dashboard got onto my white dress making me think for a moment that I was bleeding!) While we waited on the street corner, there in who-knows Youngstown, a random lady asked me if I was in a cult. I had to laugh! The police arrived and we were wisked off to the local hospital to be checked out. My collarbone was x-rayed. The police officer noted that he always knew when people actually were wearing their seatbelts by the bruised collarbones. We ended up back at Lynda’s house and somehow JenBo was contacted (not easy in those days prior to cell phones!) to pack up the rest of the belongings and transportation was arranged. I know JenBo had a car too, maybe they both drove down? Anyway, I was sad I didn’t get to go to court and wear my fancy pink dress. Also, my dad’s frying pan was never recovered. (He was quite irked by that!) I did not know the value of a good cast iron skillet. Mea culpa.

However, that Pennsic lives in my mind as a happy time. I have to think part of it was just being 19, on my own, and… feeling valued. Wanted. Accepted. I was impressed by everything, everyone was so cool and smart! I was hooked. Sadly, our seneschal did not come back to college the next semester and so the little group almost fell apart (I took over as the seneschal, desperate to keep it going!)

I regaled my sister Marie with tales of how awesome Pennsic was and dragged her back with me as soon as I could; her first Pennsic was even less well planned than mine, we had no where to camp and no tent! ha! Anyway, I did try to re-connect with the Clan Ochoda ladies, but it was awkward and the magic of that first Pennsic was gone.


Thursday Gratitude

Today I am grateful for many things:

  • My wonderful husband
  • burts bees lip balm
  • crisp fall weather
  • My black hat
  • Remembering to post gratitude 😉
  • My sister-in-law Mary-Beth’s birthday was Tuesday; really glad to have been a part of the small, cozy family gathering. It was more fun than I thought it would be and I hope Mary-Beth enjoyed it.
  • Connie, my work bestie.
  • I survived all of my meetings yesterday and made it to the SCA meeting in time to cuddle a kitten ❤ Kittens are the best! Also, we found homes for almost all of the items we brought to the meeting (it was the annual swap meet garage sale meeting.)
  • I found the courage to reschedule the meeting that was scheduled on my day off. I was agonizing over how to attend the meeting on the day off… which ruins the point of the day off! Go me.