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First Word

From this past summer's Pennsic XXXIV right up through last weekend's Feast of Saint Andrew, House Corvus members have been busy and on the road! I think Adeliza and ١rgrÝmr have probably logged the most SCA miles (though Gryffyth and Victoria have got to be right up there!), but we've all been working hard to support events throughout our various spheres of travel. Lord knows, it takes a tremendous effort to attend SCA events and I always understand when someone takes the periodic hiatus. But, I think it's important that we remember and appreciate the extraordinary efforts that many members of House Corvus make to support their local branches, their baronies, their kingdoms, and the whole of the Society. It doesn't just help sustain the Dream we all share, but it also makes obvious the dedication that House Corvus brings to the SCA in helping it to thrive.

I don't think that I joined the SCA because I had nothing better to do with my time. Just the opposite, in fact. My life is extremely rich with distractions both subtle and gross - an eclectic panoply from which I rarely, if ever, grow bored. And yet, even after all of these years, the SCA remains an integral part of that. Don't get me wrong. I often question just why I stay. It would be so easy to quit. I watch with horror as people get shot down on various order lists. Apparently Beatrice shouldn't get a Golden Dolphin for her work with equestrian in Atlantia because she pissed some people off. Gosh, none of us have ever done that! And poor Julianna gets torpedoed by the same three liars on each and every Pelican polling.

Regarding the former, I don't know Beatrice well enough on a personal level to have an opinion about her social graces. Of course, they are irrelevant when judging the body of her work. And regarding the latter, anyone and everyone with even the smallest ounce of personal honor knows of Julianna's worthiness. But, you know what? Even that's irrelevant.

Seeing deserving people recognized for their efforts is a fun aspect of the Society. But it's not why I joined. And it's not why any of us are here - well, decent folk anyway.

It's so easy to get caught up in that. But when you first came to the SCA, you never heard of a Golden Dolphin, a Pelican, or an AoA. The lure of those trinkets didn't get you to come to events and the dangling of those baubles in front of you shouldn't be why you stay. To be honest, from the incessant bleating typified by those same order lists I've already mentioned, it's become all too obvious that these "honors" actually strip away the joy that accompanied so many of us when we first joined. I used to get angry (and sometimes I still do despite myself). But, to be honest, it's a tragedy that's befallen some of these people and they warrant my pity, not my ire.

So much of the negative commentary I see online regarding any watch list rarely has any true impact on my personal evaluations. I note it, to be sure. But, I also look at the source. The negativity almost always come from the same people and they almost always reference some personal irk. One always disguises her pet peeves as "negative service," but it always comes down to the same thing: she just doesn't like them. For others, it's plain that they just didn't feel that the candidate smiled enough while they cleaned up other people's sh*t. But, universally, these comments seem to come from people who long, long ago stopped making a difference.

Now, they sit in judgment of those who have volunteered to pick up the burdens they abandoned years (sometimes decades) ago. And, interestingly enough, they never seem to offer the advice or mentoring one would expect of a peer. I've yet to see a single critic offer what they would have done in a person's stead. Instead, the decision the actual, working stiff did was just wrong. If it weren't so disheartening, it'd be laughable.

So, why do I bring it up? Because we're not them! And if I ever see one of us going down that road, I will grab you by the shoulders and shake you like a British nanny.

We stay in the SCA because we still make a difference. And that's what makes us so very different from so many of our critics. Do we sometimes make mistakes? Of course we do. When you make decisions, some are bound to be the wrong ones. But what matters is that you're out there making a decision - taking on something that requires you to make choices: right or wrong. Obviously, I'd prefer that you make the right ones! But I'd still rather see someone in Corvus try and fail than simply not bother to try at all. (And don't go quoting that Yoda crap about "do or do not, there is no try" because we all already know that Yoda was a big, fat liar himself!).

The bottom line to all of this is: remember why you joined the SCA. There is so much here to enjoy! As in all things, it all comes down to believing in yourself and never quitting -- hanging on to those joys that brought you here in the first place. They're still here. Each and every one of them.

So, to kick off your year off right, my recommendation to you is to pop in your Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers DVD and listen to Sam (Sean Astin) give one of the most inspirational speeches since Kenneth Branaugh's 'St. Crispin's Day' speech in Henry V. And the next time you wonder why this or that hasn't come your way in the SCA, the next time you feel rejected, or frustrated, or disillusioned with either the SCA or life, in general -- replay those words in your head. Believe in yourself and what you bring to House Corvus and the SCA. You wouldn't be here still if it weren't real. And, as long as you're willing to continue growing, learning, and adapting to circumstance -- as long as YOU NEVER GIVE UP -- tomorrow really will bring about a better day.

While I won't be able to make Wyvernwoode's Hero of the Chalice event over New year's like I so often try to do, I will be traveling to Trimaris for their Spring Coronation (April 1st, no fooling!). It's being held near Ocala, which I'll probably just day-trip it, but if either Rowan or Medb would like to ride with me (or anyone wants to come visit!), let me know. --BRAN

Corvus Congratulations!

On December 17th, 2005, Robert K. Smith (our own Lord ١rgrÝmr inn Kyrri) received his Bachelor's Degree in Applied Sciences at Western Carolina University. House Corvus members THL Adeliza of Bristol, Dagar BlŘdaxe, and Lady Alessandra Ruscello were on hand to participate in Rob's hard-earned achievement.

Everyone in House Corvus joins Adeliza in celebrating Rob's graduation! We wish we could have been there! But, if you would like to see some of the photographs that Adeliza took at the ceremony, just visit this link to her online photo album at:

Adeliza had this to say online: "١rgrÝmr is a real live social worker now! We expected a small graduating class due to it being the Winter ceremony, but boy were we wrong! The house was packed!

"Jana and I laughed at each other as we swabbed off our teary make-up on our sleeves! We cried like babies when Xan graduated from Kindergarten, yet we brought not one tissue or napkin with us for this?!

"Afterward, we went to a local Japanese restaurant and ate ourselves sick on unbelievably good sushi. Then on to an awesome party at Chris and Sue's house. There couldn't have been a better end to a more perfect day. ١rgrÝmr ended the day surrounded by wonderful loving friends!

"So, thank you all for your support and love! Now we move on to whatever is next, which is a bit up in the air, but in very good ways. See you all soon, somewhere!!" -- ADELIZA

Speaking of the Future...

Hey! It's me [Isolde]. I just wanted to say hi and let everyone know that school's going fine. We have finally made it to exam week, and after that, I have one more semester before I graduate (May 2006)! Come on May!

The classes I have been taking this semester are: Substance Abuse, Violence in Culture, Self Defense, Social Diversity (ugh!), Critical Thinking (ugh!, again) (You can probably tell, based on my responses, that I'm not too fond of these particular classes), and Technical Writing and Research.

The Critical Thinking class was way too liberal and I didn't really care for the Social Diversity class. The English class (Technical Writing and Research) really kicked my butt in the way of work. It sort of reminds me of the senior project that I had to do my senior year of high school, except of course that the senior project is not as career oriented as the technical report is or as complicated in format.

My report topic was on police vehicle stops. The research and putting the paper together was the most tedious part, but hopefully my hard work will pay off when I do my presentation. The fun part about that is that, for my demonstration, I will be conducting a mock vehicle stop on another student in my class.

My criminal justice instructor, Mr. Fay (the cop), will be helping me set that up. He loaned me one of his police shirts, plus I will be driving a police cruiser. A-B Tech has about four or five police cruisers that BLET uses, two of them are unmarked cars (gold and red). The red one is equipped with lights and is the car I will be using for a prop. Mr. Fay is also allowing us to use his pickup truck to use as the violator vehicle (he says it looks like the perfect "thug" vehicle). I hope everything goes well. Wish me luck! -- ISOLDE

Checking In

Hello all - sorry so silent the past few months, but this semester has REALLY been kicking my butt. At least there's only 7 more months to go before I can get my life back and get around to seeing everyone again.

I had hoped to take the month out of school to catch up with folks, but fate has intervened - guess she decided I needed serious rest, instead of just being out of school. I have to have surgery on my left foot on Tuesday afternoon (endoscopic plantar fasciotomy for the medically inclined, carpal tunnel for the foot surgery for the rest). Since all the other treatments have failed, and since I've got to be off my feet for almost a month, best to get it done now then go through more foot pain during the last semester of school and find a nursing job that will let me be absent for a month.

I'll be stuck at home for the first two weeks, and probably away from the computer for the first week itself, but if you get bored, please feel free to give me a call or come by (but call first - don't know how good the drugs will be!) if you like. There's only so much of being stuck in the house alone with the dogs and cats that I can take, and if they take my crutches, I'm done for!

So please accept my apologies and regrets that I won't be able to see you guys over the break under my own power, and know that I'm thinking of you all.

Courtly Virtues

(kűr't?-s?, ME. courtesie, from O.Fr. corteis, c.1225)

Common courtesy can manifest itself in a wide variety of ways. it might be as simple as a friendly greeting or even a slight smile or nod. More often than not, however, it is much more complex. After all, courtesy does not necessarily come naturally to people. For human beings, our first and most natural instinct is self preservation or, more simply, selfishness. That impulse to see to our own needs before others can often preclude more common courtesies and considerations. Courtesy is thus a learned behavior. It develops with our social skills and grows with a person's maturity. It involves becoming sensitive to other people's needs and wants. Because this requires some effort, one must actually choose to be courteous.

The word 'courtesy' is commonly bandied about in our society. We know what it is, the technical definition of polite behavior anyway. But just how is that definition put into practice? Though this is certainly not an all-inclusive list, here are some examples of how to practice the Art of Courtesy:

Speak positively of others. Remember your mother saying this to you as a child, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all?" What a powerful statement. Sometimes things really are better left unsaid. Be encouraging and supportive of others. It only takes a second to say, "Wow, good job!" Yet doing so can really make someone's day. If you are giving feedback on something, this is especially important. Saying something like, "The (fill in the blank) isn't very good quality," is far different than saying, "I really like your color selection. Continue to work on your consistency and keep up the good work!" We should all try to build each other up rather than tear each other down.

Assume not. We all know what happens when we do. It's a dangerous pastime when you start to second-guess the people around you. Do not presume to guess what another person is either thinking or feeling. They may have things going on that you are not aware of, so try to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Patience is a noble virtue. Avoid defensiveness. Do not react in anger to a situation. Keep a level head. Even if someone snaps at you, don't snap back. Allow them to cool off, then go talk to them. If you always take the high road, you shall never go wrong.

Take the high road. Avoid sarcasm and moral judgments. Rise above the commonplace, and remember to exude nobility. If you practice the chivalric virtues, you shall always retain your dignity and your honor and, even better, you shall never be embarrassed. If need be, use an "edit button" to censor your words, especially if you are feeling "less than gracious." Another good idea is to have a mental rolodex of responses to flip through so you can find one to use for which you won't have to later apologize.

Remember, we are all assumed to be of noble birth in the SCA. Choose to be noble. Choose to practice both grace and courtesy. Find those ways to honor yourself as well as the person with whom you speak. It can sometimes be difficult to find examples of true courtesy in our modern lives. So often, people are too harried or focused only on their own needs to think of everyone else around them. In this Society, at least, let us all strive to practice those virtues we claim to hold so dear. Isn't that why we play this game in the first place? --JULIANNA

The Stamp is in the Mail

It started with a post to the House Corvus List from Master Eldred about custom postage. It was followed up by Lord Raimondo with the specifics on just how such postage came to be. Master Bran and Baroness Sine has the exact same thought at the same time... House Corvus stamps! You know we had to at least check it out. So here's the result: a custom made, House Corvus stamp just for you! Of course, you'd better use it fast since first class postage goes up on January 1, 2006 to thirty-nine cents. You'd think they might have mentioned that while ordering the stamps!

Corvus Calendar

2nd - Sine and Oshi's Anniversary.
3rd - Atlantia: UnEvent in Nottinghill Coill (Greenville, SC).
3rd - Caid: Gyldenholt Yule in Gyldenholt (Huntington Beach, CA).
4th - Bran's Birthday.
4th - Giuseppe and Giles' Anniversary.
5th - Bran & Robert's 13th Anniversary.
6th - Robert's Birthday.
7th - Julianna and Luqman's Anniversary.
10th - Atlantia: Feast of Saint Andrew in Tear-Sea's Shore (Cordesville, SC).
10th - Ansteorra: Stargate Yule in Stargate (Houston, TX).
18th - Victoria's Birthday.
25th - Christmas Day.
31st - Helena's Birthday.
31st - Trimaris: Hero of the Chalice in Wyvernwoode (Brandon, FL).

1st - New Year's Day.
4th - Krystyne and Michael's Anniversary.
7th - Caid: Twelfth Night in Calafia (Encinitas, CA).
9th - Adeliza's Birthday.
11th - Julianna's Birthday.
11th - Trimaris: Kingdom Fighter Practice in Darkwater (Kissimmee, FL).
14th - Atlantia: Kingdom Twelfth Night in Dun Carraig (Hollywood, MD).
28th - Caid: Gyldenholt Unbelted Tourney in Gyldenholt (Fountain Valley, CA).

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