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First Word

Itís all about the dirt.

I fly a lot. You all know that. At the close of each month, I take off for the airport about 45 minutes North of our apartment here in Houston. Itís pretty much a straight shot on Highway 59. The drive is actually a nice one. Not so long that I get bored. Not so short that I donít have time to relax and admire the scenery. Itís very peaceful. Driving in Houston has that effect. I always have to remind myself that itís the fourth largest city in America. Nothing here, whether it be the people, traffic, or urban sprawl even hints that it is in the same category as Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York. Both the city and I are blessed that way.

Despite its grandiose name, the George Bush Intercontinental Airport is fairly small and low key. I like it that way. It helps, of course, that I fly out of the small terminal that houses USAir (as opposed to the enormous complex that serves as Continentalís main hub). I always enter the same parking lot, shoot past the first few levels where the amateurs park and go straight for the fifth floorís spacious and empty slots. Plus or minus a half dozen spaces, my car rests for a few days near the lifts that carry me to the departure floor.

Since USAir has no direct flights to Orlando from Houston, I go via Charlotte every single time. So, while Iím actually going to see my grandmother the last weekend of every month, I also get to pay homage to the city that has served as my home longer than any other in my life. I credit Charlotte as the nearest major port-of-call, though we all know itís Davidson that truly served as my home base all those years. But fourteen miles seems far too trivial a measure to quibble over. And I could just as legitimately credit all of the Carolinas as inspiring me in equivalent ways.

While living there, I discovered love for the first time in my life. Oh, Iíd had crushes aplenty in my youth. The obligatory high school girlfriend, a smattering of erstwhile trysts here and there. But, it was in the Carolinas that I learned what love was really all about.

And there was so much more! I came in to my own there. Life stopped being about family experiences or anything connected to that (upon reflection) rather small existence. Donít get me wrong. Iíd stack my life, even to age eighteen, against the majority of people Iíve ever known, even in the fullness of their maturity. But, in teeny, little, diminutive Davidson my world became huge!

Ever since that initial whetting of my intellectual appetite, Iíve crammed my life full of people from every possible perspective and place. I think itís fairly safe to concede that my life has been... diverse.

Even when presented with such a figurative smorgasbord though, I find myself drawn to those certain dishes that, no matter how often I sample them, I always seem to crave. Those foods that regardless of their presentation will not only satisfy my desire, but actually guarantee my continued passion for living. After all, you can call it lasagna, stuffed shells, cannelloni, whatever... But pasta, tomato sauce, and ricotta cheese cooked together will be good! Thatís all there is to it. People can be like that.

While I would stop short of likening people I know to pasta or cheese - all of the people in my life seem to blend together and satisfy in that same manner. Each of you is a different ingredient in House Corvus. But when you blend together, youíre manicotti for my Soul.

Abandoning that analogy as surely as I pass on a complimentary pack of Milano cookies the stewardess invariably offers when I travel, The plane starts its descent. I look at mile after mile of pine trees and rolling hills. It could be anywhere I fly. To the casual observer, thereís very little to distinguish the rural areas of North Carolina from Texas, Alabama, Georgia, or New Jersey for that matter. But one look out the window says, ďYouíre back. This is me. And Iíve been waiting for you.Ē

I know Iím in Charlotte. Not because of the buildings. Not because the plane is starting to land and I know thatís where Iím changing flights. I know because I see projects being built at the cityís edge. Highway construction of some sort or another. More extensions of the bits of I-85 that some man is working on like his father, and his father before him. There, theyíve stripped away the trees, the asphalt, the arbitrary surface details. Underneath it all, is the unique, red earth of North Carolina. ďYou know me!Ē it screams. And I canít help but smile every time I see it.

And itís you. At least how I see you.

Your surface details are different. People might mistake you for any one of a dozen people theyíve seen at an event. But scratch your surface, and there is the distinct character of someone in House Corvus. Youíre made up of that rich, red stuff. And once someone sees beneath your surface, theyíll be forever changed but what theyíve seen. As surely as that real Carolina clay stains everything it touches, the mark Corvus leaves on people is equally indelible.

Itís a blessing.

Thereís a beauty in each of you that is nothing less than profound. Itís why youíre in Corvus and why I canít help but smile whenever I think of any one of you. Even when Iím far away, circling in the clouds, dreaming of our next time together; I look out the window, see past the surface, and smile for love of you. After all, itís all about the dirt. --BRAN

Corvites in Print!

Order your copy today!

There can be little doubt that everyone in House Corvus knows that the Hon. Lady Siobhan nic Dhuinnshleibheís name is synonymous with spinning. Few of us have not been inspired by her passionate pursuit of her art. From her founding of Atlantiaís spinning guild, the Companions of the Silver Spindle (now going multi-Kingdom) right up to teaching us kumihimo at Gulf Wars XIII, Siobhan turns the rhythmic clatter of bobbins into a siren song. Her dedicated fingers weave fibers into a joyous net that captures our hearts and imaginations, inviting us not just to marvel at her works but also to join in and create a few of our own.

Members of House Corvus and, indeed, the whole of the Society have been blessed over the years to have Siobhan right here in our midst to both teach and inspire us. Now, she brings that same enthusiasm and wonder to print in her first book: Dyeing Is Not Alchemy! A Beginnerís Guide to Theory and Methods of Natural Dyeing.

Starting with a brief history of dyestuffs and dyeing, it walks you through the process of selecting your fibers, choosing your dyes, and tinkering with recipes to achieve your goals. Calling upon her vast, personal knowledge and experience, Siobhan fills the book with helpful hints and tips for working your own fibers. It also takes into consideration the use of historical dyes versus modern dyes. An insightful bibliography and complete index finish out this excellent guide for beginners.

While bringing her expertise to bear in this scholarly endeavor, Siobhan never loses the warmth and charm that we find so infectious in real life. She even mentions both the Society for Creative Anachronism and House Corvus in her biographical notes! In what most would consider to be a wholly personal achievement, Siobhan shares the moment with all of us, her extended family. Indeed, her classification of House Corvus as a ďNotoriously fun groupĒ couldnít be more true. Of course, we all know that itís her own involvement with Corvus that helps to make it so! Siobhan is already hard at work on her next book on fiber arts. Thank you, Siobhan, for creating this little treasure.

Copies of Lady Siobhanís book can be purchased online at The Bellwether, an online store that specializes in fine fiber art supplies from the Pacific Northwest for $15.00. The URL is Another online store where you can obtain a copy is from Carol Leighís Hillcreek Fiber Studio for $19.95 at the URL You can also order your own copy direct from the publisher at: World In A Spin, 4036 Indian Manor Drive, Stone Mountain, GA 30083. They also have a website at Lastly, you might order it from your local bookstore with the ISBN 0-9745529-0-9. Get your copy today!

Is Anybody Out There?

SETI, or the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is a scientific effort seeking to determine if there is intelligent life outside Earth. SETI researchers use many methods. One popular method, radio SETI, listens for artificial radio signals coming from other stars. SETI@home is a radio SETI project that lets anyone with a computer and an Internet connection participate. You can participate by running a free program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data.

The SETI@home program is a special kind of screensaver. Like other screensavers it starts up when you leave your computer unattended, and it shuts down as soon as you return to work. What it does in the interim is unique. While you are getting coffee, or having lunch or sleeping, your computer will be helping the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence by analyzing data specially captured by the world's largest radio telescope.

For Windows systems (95/98/NT) you'll need a computer with at least 32 MB of RAM, the ability to display 8-bit graphics in 800x600 resolution, 10 MB of disk space, and an Internet connection (dialup is OK). You can even use SETI@home on a laptop that is connected sporadically. You can download the program/screensaver free from their site at: Oshi turned me on to this and itís very, very cool!

The Raven in History

MHC-61 - USS Raven

The USS Raven (MHC-61) is the 11th ship of the 12 Osprey class coastal mine hunters, which are named for birds of prey. Osprey class are the world's largest mine hunters to be constructed entirely of fiberglass and designed to survive the shock of underwater explosions. Raven's primary mission is reconnaissance, classification, and neutralization of all types of moored and bottom mines in littoral areas, harbors and coastal waterways. It is equipped with a high definition, variable-depth sonar, and a remotely-operated, robotic submarine used to neutralize mines. The ship is also armed with two .50 caliber machine guns.

The ship was commissioned on September 5, 1998 at 1000 hours in Baltimoreís Inner Harbor. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes of Maryland delivered the ceremony's principal address. Mrs. Dorothy McDowell Smith, wife of retired Adm. Leighton "Snuffy" Smith, Jr., former Commander in Chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe/Commander in Chief, Allied Forces, Southern Europe, was the ship's sponsor. In the time-honored Navy tradition, Mrs. Smith gave the order to "man our ship and bring her to life!"

Following its commissioning, the USS Raven joined the U.S. Atlantic Fleet with Lt. Cmdr. Sam Howard, a native of Mount Holly, N. J., as commanding officer. The ship was homeported in Ingleside, Texas, with a crew of six officers, and 46 enlisted. Propelled by two 800 hp turbocharged V-8 engines, the ship is capable of reaching a speed of 12 knots. The Raven measures 188 feet in length, has a beam of 36 feet and displaces approximately 914 tons when fully loads.

Its emblem has a lot of very interesting elements. Purpure, a stylized horned mine Or, on the shield overall a raven close regardant to dexter upon a Naval officer's sword and cutlass saltirewise points up Proper. The purpure refers to use of that color in the poem The Raven and other works of the late American author Edgar Alan Poe, now buried in Baltimore, MD. The stylized mine highlights the USS Raven's mine warfare mission past and present. Crossed sword and cutlass emphasize teamwork and reflect the contribution to readiness made by everyone assigned. Its namesake, the raven, underscores the ship's commitment to mission.

From a wreath Or and Purpure on the crest, a demi-sun in splendor superimposed by a stockless anchor Sable bearing on the shaft an ancient spearhead Proper, overall an arc of three mullets Azure. The sunburst highlights the U.S. Navy's worldwide deployed presence under a sun in the sky by a clever raven according to native American lore. The stockless anchor, used by the previous USS Raven, symbolizes the present USS Raven's firm hold on the finest traditions of the Navy. The spearhead symbolizes the mine warfare force's mission to be the first to enter dangerous waters. Three blue stars commemorate battle stars earned by the previous USS Raven (AM 55) (1940-1967) during World War II for conducting mine clearance at the approaches to Utah Beach at Normandy, and before other engagements in the Mediterranean Sea.

The motto is a scroll Or doubled, and inscribed "HERE AM I, SEND ME", Azure. A biblical character's answer to a call of service taken from Isaiah chapter six, verse eight. It highlights USS Ravenís willingness to serve without hesitation in whatever capacity she is called.

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