Wow.

Today has ended wonderfully in two ways:

1. I am composing this while sitting on a plane en route to LA, watching FX on the little screen in the seat, reading Tweets as they post. I indulged a little and paid for in-flight Internet. I plan on posting to Instagram. This amazes more than just a little.

2. While both cruising through the airport and then waiting in the aisle for other passengers to take their seats, I looked up to see none other than Paul Wesley stuffing his bag into an overhead bin. It is no secret that I have a teenage sort of affinity for the Vampire Diaries and its assortment of stars, especially since they’re in and out of Atlanta all the time. So I had the expected reaction, which was to lose the capacity for speech, become very unbecomingly flushed, and start shaking. And so even though he was four inches from my elbow, I made embarrassingly furtive glances in that general direction and continued to my seat, replaying the scene in my head a few dozen times, except with a far braver me in it. (That me was charmingly complimentary.)

Who knows? Perhaps a similar opportunity will present itself in the future, and I will do something more than send a creepy, stalker tweet from twelve rows back in an airplane. Future and past me are so much braver than me right now.

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Not-so-productive weekend

This weekend I accomplished the following:

  1. Wrote an extremely long, confusing rundown/how-to on shopping for SCA purposes in Indian shops
  2. Saw Underworld: Awakening with Jennie and T. It was worth the matinee price, but I’m glad I didn’t see it in 3D. I will likely see the next one (and the movie strongly suggests that there will be a next one).
  3. Ate all the sugar ever and lost at Apples to Apples at Jennie’s b-day shindig, which was thoroughly awesome. D and N brought waffles from Waffle House. Like, 10 of them in their own individual containers. With butter. And syrup. SO AWESOME.
  4. Made it past the first round of the big toothy thing at the Sealed Grounds in Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (actually, I did very little aside from directing WH while he beat all the hard stuff; I mostly just collected bugs and rupees).
  5. Bought a reasonable amount of interesting foodstuffs at the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market, which is like a destination in itself for food shopping. Among the things I purchased: fresh ramen noodles, dried kiwi, and a Lion bar (which was promptly eaten).
  6. So while it looks as though I did things this weekend, my house is still a mess and I still have to put photos into the behmoth of a document that I created. I have permission to use the office projector, so that’s good, but getting the images I need for said projection may be a challenge. Oof.

Bonus for Monday: new Vampire Diaries episode streaming on CW online! I consider it to be the Twinkies of the tv world – you know it’s not terribly good for you, and yet it is still delicious.

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Proof that it happened.

Jennie has been chronicling the epic birthday party over on her comic.

Should you miss the updates, links to the strips that have posted so far are here, here and here.

And here’s the pinata, direct from YouTube:

That one was the one full of candy. I’m still finding wrapped jawbreakers in my front lawn.

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Turning 30, and other events

I was told that next time I get those number candles, because 30 single candles make my cake look like a bonfire.

Honestly, I didn’t expect it to go that smoothly.

Okay, so I did sort of expect that, but I also expected to be depressed and totally, violently against becoming an official adult. I don’t remember where I thought I’d be with my life at this point, but I know it wasn’t exactly here. I think I expected to have some sort of ridiculously wealthy husband and two kids and a vast array of galleries showing my paintings.

At the moment, I’ve got an awesome, but not particularly wealthy husband, two cats, and I haven’t painted anything serious in several years. Not quite what I envisioned. I do have many other wonderful things that I couldn’t predict. I have a great job with a group of talented, smart, crazy people. I own my own home. I have a marriage that turns 7 in December (this is a big surprise; I had figured I’d get married at 27 at the earliest). I have lots of lovely things that I’ve sewn and bound and created, even if they don’t get seen by lots of people (I’m not giving up on that art dream yet).

I’ve got two blogs and a Twitter account with over 400 followers. Me, the kid who was really awkward and had maybe three good friends. Thank you, internet, for being what face-to-face interaction never was for me (I’m getting better).

Anyway, that’s not the point of all this. The point is that when I realized that I was turning 30, I made the decision to celebrate in the most appropriate way possible, which was to have a birthday party for my inner 6-year-old. It was the best idea I’ve ever had in the history of all my ideas. For six hours, a bunch of grown people, dressed as children, got all sugared up, watched cartoons, played silly games and enjoyed the crap out of ourselves. We played Candyland. We played Jenga (which I learned was very telling of my youth, since it came out in 1985 and was The Coolest Board Game at my grade school). We ate pb&j. We broke two pinatas. Eventually, everyone wandered home, sick on sugar and cheese, and I still have a gigantic balloon arch (made by T, the overachiever) sort of listlessly withering away on my porch, because I am too sentimental to throw it out.

Bizarrely, I feel more like an adult now than I did before. Maybe it’s because I got all that kid stuff out of my system, or because I acknowledged that being an adult isn’t all about being grown up. It’s about making the decisions you make because you own those decisions, even if the decisions involve being 6 for a day or watching Being Human until three in the morning or eating leftover birthday cake for breakfast.

(Photos when I get them back from A, who was kind enough to document the crazy party.)

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Happy Halloween!

Hope everybody is having a lovely time being in costume. I’m enjoying it immensely.

Halloween is weird, where costumes are concerned. I dress in costume upwards of 20 times a year. It’s a pretty regular occurrence for me. DragonCon is, obviously, the biggest costume time of all, and so that sort of takes care of that for a while.

But then Blogless Lea’s husband and I host a Halloween party every year, and so I’ve got to come up with yet another, and it needs to be good (can’t have the host looking shabby in her own house, now can we?). Last year I totally copped out and did an incredibly tasteless “witch doctor,” which will never again see the light of day. It was a last minute, I’ve-got-to-decorate-all-the-things costume.

This year was another sort of last-minute costume, but was even harder to figure out because we didn’t do a theme party, and we held it on a Friday. So the costume needed to be (a) quick and (b) quick. We did a regular, run-of-the-mill Halloween party, and so I thought, “I have long hair and the knowledge of several spooky 60s-era television shows. I can do this!” A trip to the thrift store and fabric store and wig store down the street (not all the same store), plus about 30 minutes with a sewing machine yielded this:

(Yvonne De Carlos, you’ve got some competition.)

Husband worked late at the costume shop (as you might imagine), so I didn’t have a Herman to go with my Lily, but maybe there’s hope for future events. Anybody want to do a group thing at the ‘Con this year? It’s obvious who I’ve got dibs on.

I had on bat-covered leggings as well, but you can’t see them. It’s quite possibly the most comfortable costume I’ve ever made, and may actually see some use at DragonCon (in a total reversal of the usual arrangement).

If anybody who went to the party wants me to post photos of other costumes, let me know. I’ve got a few, but don’t want to embarrass people.

So then after that was the club and dancing, and then another party, and yesterday I spent some quality time catching up on the Vampire Diaries so that the new episodes make a little more sense. It’s kind of amazing how un-guilty I feel about that now that my house is really really clean.

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I’m not dead yet!

I think I’ll go for a walk!

Like on over to Twitter…

That is to say, I’m around but life is such that I only have the attention span for short, 140-word posts at the moment. I’ve got a hopper of stuff that needs to get out there, and it will, but in the meantime, go follow me on Twitter!

TWITTAH

My selfish, egotistical, and yet awesome-if-it-happens goal is 1000 followers just from being on Twitter. I know. It’s crazy. I’m no Drunk Hulk.

So maybe 500 by the end of the year? Also likely an overly ambitious number, but I’m determined.

(And happy belated Dhanteras, early Diwali! Got my rangoli kit and a bunch of diyas. I’m set.)

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What I’ve been doing

Aside from sewing, that is. I get the sewing done, and then there is this:

okay guise now it's 1a.m. so stop updating

Vote for me on cheezburger.com! Or not. Whichever.

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Not so scary, actually.

My photoless project du jour is for an upcoming SCA event, and is allowing me to do some pattern testing. I did my Mughal angharka in four different ways for myself (each time learning valuable info), but then found a miniature that shows the ties in the front of the lady’s version (!). So there will be a fifth for me, hopefully the most accurate of the set. I’ve also wanted to make a version for general consumption for some time, and Wonder Husband needs garb for said upcoming event. I’m using him and his obviously different measurements (it would be so weird if we were the same size and shape) to pattern up a man’s crossover jama, and see if my pattern translates well to my theory about how the measurements work and how the whole thing can be modified to fit various body types.

So far, I’ve got a paper pattern done and have fit one of the sleeves. Tomorrow evening I plan on stitching together a muslin so he can try it on and we can see how it fits.

If all goes well, I’ll put together documentation for a nice, hand-sewn version (as yet to be completed), enter it, see what feedback comes out of that, and hopefully put together instructions for a fit-to-wear pattern. I can think of lots of people who might like a comfy Mughal outfit (lots = maybe 5; I’m being optimistic).

Woo.

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Actual crafty-type stuff!

I so wanted to post this sooner, but it was supposed to be a surprise, and now it has been gifted, so there you have it.

I have a very dear friend who was elevated to the Order of the Laurel DragonCon weekend, and the days up to the Con saw me madly crafting. I think I posted the Ramirez costume already, which took up a goodly bit of time (and looks great, so totally worth it). But that was broken in the middle by two weeks of even more frantic crafting, as I realized that I finally had money for the materials and was looking at a really close deadline.

The now-Laurel in question is Mistress Madhavi, the only person in the SCA (that I know of) who is researching the exact time and place I am, specifically Mewar in the mid 16th century. Actually, her persona is from Jaisalmer, and mine is from the Udaipur area, but the culture is pretty similar. So when I heard that she was going to be elevated, I knew exactly what to gift to her.

Remember all those angry patka posts I made? No? Okay, so maybe they were just frustrated emails sent to Madhavi. There was anger! Don’t get me wrong, I’m fond of patkas, both the under-pagh Sikh version and the ornate Mughal belt version. But when it comes to a woman’s patka, there has been much staring at paintings trying to figure out what in the world that thing could possibly be.

(Miniature from the Caurapancasika, or Tale of a Love Thief, 1570)

OMG WHAT I DON’T EVEN.

No, seriously. If you know WTF is going on with the white pointy bit in the front of her skirt, please do let me know, and send along your documentation as well. I love conjecture, but I have conjectured just about all there is to conjecture (and then Madhavi has done quite a lot of her own, besides, before I even got to conjecturing).

Actually, most of recreated Medieval Indian costume is based on this sort of painted conjecture, supported by a few extant descriptions of garments. The climate and culture just doesn’t support a lasting textile preservation tradition, as things got burned or rotted away in the tropical climate or were reused to make other things. For example, the gold threads in fabric are still pulled (or melted) out of garments and used to make jewelry, new threads, etc. So it’s a challenge.

Our current working theory is that this piece of white material is somehow tucked into the front of the ghagra. It’s either woven with lots of gold or embroidered with lots of gold. The men’s patkas from the same period are often heavy silk and brocade. They’re also embroidered. So I bought the nicest piece of shantung I could find (not too slubby!) and did the thing I have the ability to do, which is to embroider.

I had some really great gold ribbon, which I sewed on, and then I couched four gold laurel wreaths into the top of the folds, and chain-stitched a red stripe between the gold bands and the laurel wreaths.

(Madhavi had seen my test piece, which was on red silk, and had requested red on the final piece.)

The inner folds:

Close-up of one of the wreaths:

(One of the wreaths has two chain-stitch filled leaves, as I had originally intended to do that but determined that it was overambitious considering I was sewing this at 3 a.m. the day before I mailed it out.)

And unfolded:

In the end, it was maybe three feet longer than it needed to be, top-to-bottom, which ended up being good, since she wore it to the elevation ceremony. Normally? Not a problem, except that she wasn’t a Laurel until she was officially elevated at the ceremony, and therefore not allowed to show the wreaths yet. No problem! Being a resourceful lady, she tucked it in with the plain end on the outside and voila! Fixed.

She had sent me an email asking me to make a book for her as well, and I was happy to oblige. One small problem, though – I make Islamic (read: Mughal) books, and she requested a Hindu book. To compound the challenge, the book she wanted was based on the miniatures the blasted patka came from (I kid!), which are single pages dispersed and then re-collected. Nobody really knows how they were bound. Or at least nobody who I could find knows. I am still researching. Instead, I emailed Kannanbala, who had done a palm leaf manuscript or three, an ancient Indian binding style (still used in temple scrolls from Tibet to Tamil Nadu). I modified this one slightly, as the Caurapancasika paintings lack the center string hole and are a totally different dimension. Luckily, the local Home Depot sells nice 1/4″ oak planks that I was able to sand down.

Unsanded but cut:

And sanded:

I used a file and fine-grit sandpaper to get these nice and smooth. I later discovered that smoothness is not necessarily a prerequisite, though I imagine people appreciate it over splinters.

Madhavi had recently designed her arms, so I put those on the covers.

The water lilies:

And then the green bar and crequier (tree of life):

(Sorry, am not so up on the heraldry-speak today. I’d look it up but I’m enjoying being lazy.)

The small red spot in the inside, mimicking the red dot on traditional manuscripts:

And finally, created lucet ties and small silk tassels to hold the whole thing together. The insides were loose heavyweight 100% cotton sheets that I cut to size. Yay, paper cultures.

Close up of the tassels and their gold tops:

And everything together, ready to drop in the mail:

Oh! And I waxed the book with beeswax, to seal it and give it a nice smooth shine.

Actually, I ended up enjoying both parts of this much more than I anticipated, partly because they were gifts for someone I really like, and partly because they were just so fun to make! I will be making  myself a patka in the near future, and binding more books. I’m also digging tassel-making. Expect to see more of that as well.

Next project is some new garb for Red Tower, and a sekrit project for Mistress Adela, which I should’ve finished by this past weekend, but so did not have the energy for. She knows it’s coming. I also have plans to make one of each style of Mughal coat, for both men and women. Busy busy busy!

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DragonConzzzzzz

There was another exciting event that happened this weekend, but the photos of my contribution to said event are saved at home, and therefore inaccessible until later.

(Photos for this post will be added this evening. Please do check back!)

But whoa, DragonCon. Extra “z”s are intended to indicate my level of alertness following the weekend. As you can probably tell, that level is not so high!

Firstly, I want to acknowledge that despite all my pessimism regarding the line for registration, it moved incredibly smoothly. I got my badge early in the morning on Thursday, with less than 5 minutes wait time once they opened the room (!). I brought cards and water and snacks for Matt and I while we waited, and none of those got used. Instead, we had a brief and very sleep-deprived conversation with Chief and Yahia, who had been awake all night, driving from Ohio and camping out on the sidewalk. Sort of like cards only completely different? Yeah. Afterward Matt got himself a monthly parking pass and we parted ways, he to save some woman having an epileptic fit, me to frantically finish sewing my Ramirez costume and pack ALL THE THINGS. Jennie came over briefly to have lunch, and then went of to unload her stuff at the artist’s alley.

OH THE FRANTIC PACKING. Amazingly, I only forgot one thing, which was the Ramirez pearl earring (small item, big thing to forget). Underwear? Check. Socks? Check. Toothpaste? Check. That evening, after checking into the hotel, M came over and helped sew my costume trousers, and we all gorged on Thai food. It was great. And I had a finished costume (I spent the time gluing trim to my hat)! Thanks so much to M for being an awesome friend.

We hung out at that weird skybar thing in the Marriott later on. It was already way crowded, and folks were costumed and we people-watched for a bit. L showed up with her husband and we chatted until Jennie declared herself to be Le Tired and we all crashed in the room.

Forgive me if I forget details in the remainder of this account, because things were very busy and very overwhelming. The Con gets bigger and bigger every year, but my desire to be not in crowds does not diminish, so I lose track of what goes on a bit.

Friday we got up and got dressed. Otter wore her sheer blue jingly outfit (this is an important detail), and I did a low-key Indian gaslight, which actually turned out to be my most lovely version of this so far. I’ve been gifted a copper brocade choli, and I have a sari with copper borders, so altogether with my jewelry, blue satin corset and copper colored juti, it’s a really nice ensemble. I like this costume. Because I’ve made an effort to retain as many Indian costuming conventions as possible, it’s a very organic outfit. It’s draped differently every time, and never looks the same way twice. I’m hoping the idea catches on and inspires more people to research India. So far, no luck, but I’m optimistic!

WH and I did some wandering, and then he was off to a panel as I went to change into the Ramirez costume. OH MY THIS GROUP WAS AWESOME. I met the rest at their hotel room, borrowed some gauntlets and off we went to be shiny. I totally forgot the claymore I promised, but ended up being the only one with a sword anyhow. Honestly, though? The Kurgan and Connor are recognizeable enough without, and together we rocked it.

We had some very excited photographers, and people were even more excited when we pointed out Candy. So awesome. Expect a repeat next year. I even got interviewed for a webcast! I don’t know if my footage made it in, but it was fun.

Then came dinner, which I honestly don’t recall all that well, except that maybe it included food? Oh! Wait. Azio. That’s right. People, don’t be fools and order the entrees. The appetizers are, well, appetizing and quite sufficient. Yum roasted mushrooms. Then we hung out and people watched before going back to the room to ready ourselves for the kilt-blowing.

So. Jingly outfit? In the morning, on the way to breakfast, we spotted Misha Collins (Supernatural actor) jogging, and Otter casually said, “Hey” at him. She went to a Supernatural panel later, in her jingly outfit, and that outfit got her a spot on Mr. Collins’s lap for a good portion of the panel. From there on out, people were recognizing her everywhere as either “jingly boobs” or “that girl from the Supernatural panel.”

Kilt blowing was nuts, with some minor incidents (overenthusiastic guys, a drunk being escorted away by the police), but for the most part pretty tame. We had a great group of surprise helpers, who made it so incredibly non-stressful. I have no idea what to do with myself when I’m not doing things myself, and was so happy to have people getting waivers signed, checking IDs, and doing crowd control. It’s so far from the early days of unruly crowds in the Marriott lobby. Like, whoa. We had a microphone! The posters went over very well, and will certainly happen again, but updated.

Six hours later, I woke up, put on garb, and rushed to the parade area, where we stood around a lot. I got to chat with a really interesting guy, who had the most incredible Italian WWII military costume (one of 30 reenactors in the US, he says) and had spend some time living in India. I will be friending him on Facebook later. Then came parade marching, with some minor snags (literally) as we discovered that our banner poles were just tall enough to get caught on the streetlights.

After that I honestly don’t recall what happened, except that we ogled celebrities, met Carrie Fisher, and did a quick perusal of the various shopping opportunities. Seriously. I have no idea what I did, except that it was evidently not terribly memorable. I was in costume? I think I changed clothes? Later we met up with friends from Chicago and had our favorite cheap Chinese buffet. Said friends made some stiff drinks and then it was off to the room to change for night 2 of kilt blowing, and husband went home.

Where the night before at kilt blowing had been mostly low-key (aside from the Goblin King serenade, which was indeed lovely), the second evening was not. We had an additional 10 participants, plus one surprise participant. In the form of Obby, Jennie’s boyfriend. In a kilt. Proposing marriage.

No, really.

They vanished for 20 minutes afterward, while we all cleaned up. Did I mention that awesome group of helpers? Awesome.

Aaand then there was more crashing in the room. Oh, sleep. I love you so.

Sunday was another day I don’t recall so well, but I do recall that we slept in, and then Otter and I went to breakfast, and I helped Lea (no blog yet! I think she’s working on one?) with her Persian Dance class, which had approximately 20 more people in it than I’ve ever seen (she confirmed that this was the largest she’d ever taught). Whoa! Then was a photoshoot of costumed superheroes, and running into Duke Max (his first con ever), and more celebrity ogling. I did manage to change clothes, as did WH, and wandered around as a 1980s Bollywood star for a while. I got my photo taken with Ming the Merciless. Then we all trundled off to Ted’s for a delicious dinner before more people-watching. Millicent, who I just met, was a good sport and accompanied me to see Jefferson Starship. It was everything it sounds like! One more Mischa Collins sighting, then back to meet up with Jennie for the drum circle, at which we danced a little and then escaped, it being brightly lit and not at all what we expected.

I wore garb again Monday morning, leaving a pile of luggage for WH to take to the car, and sat on a panel (on a panel!) informing people of the Silk Road cultures and the SCA. I met a lady who engaged me in conversation about the international community and the research we do in the SCA, and am feeling much better about what I’m doing, from the perspective of cultural appropriation (in that I’m not as self-conscious as I was).

So then came the Eureka panel, which was lovely even minus Wil Wheaton (in the words of one Sheldon Cooper, WHEATOOOONNNNNNN!; not sure why he wasn’t there, but it was great anyhow), and then a change of clothes, and some wandering with WH. Ate a mediocre lunch. Met Norman Reedus, who is a really really nice guy. Helped Jennie load out. Bought some art. Hung out with Fyvel for quite a while. Popped in on a hookah party, and picked up some con crud. Finally, we went to La Fonda with Fyvel  before dropping him at the airport.

That evening, I had intended to unpack and clean a little. Instead, I fell asleep at 7:30, and didn’t wake up until 11 the next morning. Jennie and I had a nice, quiet lunch at the Farmer’s Market while buying groceries, and I spent the rest of the day catching up on Bollywood films. I can now recommend Dhobi Ghat (excellent film), and Aisha, which is an acceptable adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma.

This weekend is Coronation and Lady Adela’s elevation to the Order of the Laurel. I plan on doing some serious lazing about.

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