Archive for the ‘From Hrefna’s Helpful Hints’ Category

Healing Nicely

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Hi there,

As you know, I have been recovering from tendinitis surgery in my right hand. I am almost exactly 4 weeks post-op and doing well. I can type on the computer now for just a bit without any pain! Yea! I will be starting to post again soon, so please stay tuned, and thank you for your patience.


Tendinitis – Don’t Get It

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Hi all,

As some of you know, I have been battling tendinitis in my right (of course) wrist/thumb for a couple of months now. It is icky, don’t ever get it! I am under a doctor’s care, and was in a wrist/thumb brace for 6 weeks, then 2 weeks of thinking it was better, then 1 week of “Oh no! It’s going backwards”. Which brings me to today. I’m back in my wrist brace and in a bit of pain. I will be calling the ortho-doc tomorrow to get an appointment.

I apologize for not posting more, but part of what aggravates this specific tendinitis is typing and using a mouse. Sigh.

Hopefully this will get sorted out sooner rather than later. I thank you all for your patience while I am a patient.

Have a great day!

Lady In Waiting 101: Part 6 – Decoder Rings & Last Things

Monday, August 8th, 2011


Last, but not least…

Super Secret Stuff and Decoder Rings

Unfortunately, you really don’t get a decoder ring, unless your Royals have a great sense of humor. Lady in Waiting is a fun, interesting, tiring position. As Lady in Waiting you will hear and see things that you MUST NOT repeat under any circumstances to anyone; sometimes not even your significant other can know. This will be torture, but only for a short period of time (unless it’s something really juicy, then it’ll be longer, naturally). You are the representative of the Crown (or other Royalty/Nobility); your best behavior is strongly recommended. In this position you must act appropriately at all times at events (you can fall apart at home). You will be watched by everyone at all times.

In this position, you are also a go between, a stepping-stone, a major contact point between Their Majesties and the populace. You will be asked to introduce people to Their Majesties and vice-verse. If you have experience in the work force (especially a professional office) you will have no problems in this position. If you have good customer service or social skills, you will do excellent in this position. If you have problems talking to people, you will learn lots in this position.

Now for the “Super Secret Stuff.”

You will at some point be privileged to know about an upcoming award. You must not tell a single person about this unless otherwise instructed by Their Majesties. Example: Call and make sure Lady X gets her Lord to the event on Saturday, We would like to give him such-and-such award. You may only tell Lady X, no one else.

There will be times when you are in the Royal Ready Room and Their Majesties ask you to make sure Lord Y is at the event. You must discretely find out. The easiest way to do this is ask the local Baron/Baroness. It is common to see a Lady in Waiting talking to the local Royalty/Nobility. The populace usually doesn’t think twice about seeing that.

Also, you may be asked to find out if Lord Y has a certain award. The Baron/Baroness are good starting points, if they don’t know they can usually point you in the direction of someone who will know. Most times a Crown decides to give an award, they have already checked with the Order of Precedence (O.P.) to see if Lord Y has the award. Sometimes the O.P. doesn’t get updated or a report not sent in on time. Do NOT ask the person directly!

Helping the Herald

During Court the Herald may ask you to hold scrolls then hand them to him/her when he/she needs them. These are super secret. Unless instructed, you should not even look at them yourself. (This is a good way to surprise you with an award. Let them surprise you.) If you are uncertain if you may look at them, just ask the Herald.

Venting & Gossip

The last bit of “Super Secret Stuff” is Ready Room talk or gossip.

Anything said in the Ready Room stays in the Ready Room. Don’t even hint about it. That room holds the sanity of the Royalty for that event. They need to know that what ever is said in that room stays in that room never to be talked about again. The Ready Room is a place for them to prepare, unwind, snack, and breakdown if needed. The room is sacred and essential.

This is also a place you (and others) can talk to Their Majesties uninterrupted. This room is a safety zone. End of discussion.

One Last Thing…

Some Royalty have a dress code for their Court and Guard. It mostly boils down to DRESS APPROPRIATELY, no clothes that are too revealing, unwashed, or unkempt. Look nice, you are the Queen’s representative. If you have a question about appropriate dress, feel free to ask your Royalty, they’ll let you know what they expect of you.

Have fun with this position! It’s a real blast!

Hopefully Helpful,

Lady In Waiting 101: Part 5 – Secret Signs

Monday, August 1st, 2011


I’ve seen the signs. (Get me out of here!)

Your Royalty should get with their Head Lady in Waiting and Champion (or similar people) and let them know the “Get me out of here” sign. This will then be passed along to all the members of the court and guard and is not to be told to anyone else under penalty of death (or at least a good tong lashing)! Usually it’s an ear tug or a specific nose/cheek scratch. It means you have about 30 seconds to walk over and get your Royalty out of that conversation at that exact moment.

Don’t lie. A good example is, “Excuse me for interrupting, Your Majesty you’re needed.” (Or something along that line.) Do not get into details that cannot be substantiated.

It may just be that Their Majesties only need a bathroom break and don’t quite know how to get out of a conversation. Or they might be about ready to lunge at the person and just need to get away as soon as possible but don’t want to look like jerks. They certainly don’t want to hurt the person/people’s feelings. Be polite, but vague.

Part of your job as court and guard is to make your Royalty look as good as possible. If it’s getting them out of a sticky situation, rumor control, or just decompressing with them after an event so they don’t blow up.

Hopefully Helpful,

Lady In Waiting 101: Part 4 – Setting Up Court

Monday, July 25th, 2011


Have you found yourself the only one setting up a Court? Do you know what to do if you were? Well, you will now!

“Court? What Court? Where?” How to set up a court.

Most of the time, the Head Lady in Waiting or Champion (or the Herald or someone close to that position) will know how to set up Court. How to put the Thrones together, where to put the rugs and pillows and banners, what Their Majesties want to drink during Court, where to put the gifts they will be giving and receiving, and in some cases (outdoor events) where they would physically like court to be held. See your Head Lady in Waiting or Champion (or person responsible for Court regalia) for how to set up Court the way the Royalty wants it done. Don’t be afraid to offer to help.

Tasty Beverages

How to fill/refill a water glass quietly. This will take a delicate touch and a bit of patience at that particular moment. If the hall is quiet, be as quiet as you can. Do not let the water make splashing noises as it pours into the cup. If you can, wait until the Huzzahs or Vivats to refill the drinks. You can make as much noise as you need to at that time, but be conscious of the Huzzahs ending.

Most Royalty will let you know when they need a drink during Court. If it’s a long Court and they haven’t had a drink for a while, they may need one. It’s okay to quietly ask over their shoulder if they need a drink (sometimes it’s okay to ask if they just need a drink!).

To fan, or not to fan, that is the question.

If Her Majesty is too warm (as we all know it can get inside those big dresses), by all means fan her. If you do it right, you can get some of the wind going your own way too. If you are too warm, she probably is as well (unless you’re having a hot flash and she isn’t). If you’re unsure, ask her. If she want’s you to stop, she’ll let you know.

Hopefully Helpful,

Lady In Waiting 101: Part 3 – Chatting With the Crown, Part Deux

Monday, July 18th, 2011


Continuing on with last weeks topic…

Called Into Court, Are We? Hmmmmm…

When you are called into Court, be it for business or awards or shtick, it is polite to bow/curtsy to the Royalty who are in attendance. Be it a sweeping bow/curtsy or each receiving an individual bow/curtsy, it should happen. If you feel uncomfortable doing this (and depending on the Kingdoms customs) just bow to the King & Queen. If it is your Baron & Baroness or someone of lower rank and station than the King & Queen, but the King & Queen are in attendance, bow/curtsy to the King & Queen first, then the person/people who have business with you (unless they do not have Royal title).

When leaving Court, bow/curtsy to the people who had business with you (if warranted), then Their Majesties, then back away a couple of steps, turn and depart quietly.

Empty Thrones and the Royal Presence

In Atenveldt, it is customary to bow/curtsy to the empty Thrones if crossing their path, even when they are empty, to show respect. This can be done within 10 to 15 feet of the Thrones.

The Royal Ready Room or the Chamber of Secrets

The secret world of the Royal Ready Room… If you are on the court or guard, you will more than likely be in the Ready Room at some point. If the Ready Room has a guard, let the guard know why you are there, or that Their Majesties have specifically sent for you. The guard should know who is allowed in and out freely, but sometimes courts are very large and not everyone is recognized from the initial meeting/introduction.

As soon as you enter the Ready Room, you will probably be told where to stand or sit and what is needed/wanted from you. If the conversation is casual, you can pipe up and let everyone know you’re there. If you will be returning let the guard know on your way out. He/she doesn’t need to know why, but it causes fewer hassles on your return trip.


If you have been sent on an errand and Their Majesties are expecting you back, you may sneak in and deliver you message or item quietly, very quietly. Only the Queen and you (possible the other court/guard member) will know you were there.

Checking In?

If you are checking in for your assignment for that event, you will check in with the person in charge of the court (usually the Head Lady in Waiting). She will let you know what time your shift is, or what your duties are for the day/event, unless she has made arrangements with you off site. You should still check in though, just in case something has come up.

When you check in for your shift, quietly change places with the previous court/guard member. It is polite to let Her Majesty know you are there now and not the other supporter so she doesn’t turn around to say something to the other person and not find them there. Wait until there is a break in the conversation, or the people she is speaking with leave. Do not interrupt.

OMG! I just found out the Queen is a REAL person!

If you are talking to the Queen for the first time, remember she is playing this game as well. She has a real life outside the SCA, and is really just another person under that Crown. Respect her for her position, but don’t be afraid of her. Also, you will probably be introduced by the Head Lady in Waiting to the Queen, but if it’s just the two of you, introduce yourself. Most Queens love to know who’s helping them out.

Hopefully Helpful,

Lady In Waiting 101: Part 2 – Chatting with the Crown

Monday, July 11th, 2011


Today’s Lady In Waiting is about being around Royalty/Nobility. some people get totally freaked out around them, but they are people, too, just like you and me.

How to Approach and Attend Royalty/Nobility. “ I can’t talk to her, she’s the Queen!”
(Yes, I have actually heard that.)

Yes you can talk to her, she’s the Queen! That’s part of being Queen. I have found that Queen’s, Princesses, and Landed Baronesses want to meet their populace, especially if you’re on their Court or Guard. The Queen wants to feel comfortable with her supporters. That’s just what you are or will be, a supporter. You must get over your hat-phobia (fear of anyone wearing a shiny, pointy brass thing on their head). You won’t do them or yourself any good if you can’t even say hello. Knowing how to approach them may be the first step to a lot of fun for all of you.

Bowing/Curtsying, Just the Facts, Ma’am!

There are many different styles on bowing and curtsying. The basic bow is remove your hat and bend at the waist.

The basic curtsy is put one leg behind the other and dip as is appropriate for the situation or your knees, with your head bowed slightly. (This is covered more in depth in the Courtly Graces posts.)

Depending on the Situation, no, not the one with the abs…

There are different situations you need to be aware of at all times when approaching Royalty. Are they in a large or small group, by themselves, on the Thrones, in a Royal Ready Room? Have they sent you on an errand, are you checking in for your shift, or are you talking to them for the first time?

First and foremost, if you are within about 10 feet of any Royal it is appropriate to bow/curtsy/nod, even if they don’t see you. Someone will always see you. (Trust me on this one.) It will get back to your Baron & Baroness if not go up the chain of command, especially if you’re the only one who did it. You get imaginary bonus points for this, even if it’s in your own head.

Urgency Prevails – Large Groups

If your Royalty are in a large group of people and it is an urgent matter; by all means you may interrupt. (Urgent means one of their children is bleeding, or has broken a bone and needs to go to the hospital, or someone got stabbed and the cops are on the way.)

INTERRUPT NICELY! Excuse your way through the group from behind Their Majesties, and go through the current court or guard member who is attending. If at all possible, do not disturb the bulk of the group. If the matter is of a private nature let the court or guard member know and tell only Their Majesties. If it is something that the other court or guard members can know about, tell them and they can alert Their Majesties.

When Their Majesties turn to talk to you, you should always bow/curtsy/nod before you tell them your business (unless it is their children needing to go to the hospital. Most will prefer you not to bow at that particular moment.). If the matter is not urgent, do not interrupt, just catch them later.

Urgency Prevails – Small Groups

If your Royalty are in a small group or with just a couple of people (not court or guard members) go through the other court/guard members again to reach Their Majesties.

If you are not on the court or guard, it is customary to stand just outside earshot (about 5 to 10 feet away) and in the line of site of the people you would like to speak to. This goes for anyone.

When they see you, you may flag them down if you feel it is appropriate, otherwise just be patient. They will come over to you as soon as they can. Remember to bow/curtsy (if appropriate). If it is an urgent matter INTERRUPT NICELY, and apologize to the entire group for interrupting.

Alone Time

If your Royalty is alone, approach with severe caution. There is usually a good reason they are alone. They may have need of a private moment. If it is not an urgent matter, stand where one or both can see you, but out of hearing range. They will motion you over, or come to you. Be patient, it may take a while. If you feel at all uncomfortable, leave. If it is an urgent matter, INTERRUPT NICELY.

We will continue this next week.

Hopefully Helpful,

Lady In Waiting 101: Part 1 – Stuff You Need to Have

Monday, July 4th, 2011


I have been a Lady In Waiting or Head Lady In Waiting a few times, and I give a class on the How To’s of it all. I have been asked by Queens and Baronesses to share my class handout with them so they can give it to their Ladies In Waiting as a primer for their reigns.

In the next 6 posts, you will learn what it’s like to be a Lady in Waiting, including what should be in your personal baskets at ALL times, how to attend and approach Royalty, Nobility, and the Thrones, and basic Lady in Waiting Skills such as how to set up court, when and where (and how quietly) to refill the water glasses during courts, and other fun facts and duties.

Here’s the first installment.

What should be in your personal basket? “Why yes Your Majesty, I do have that.”

This is a list of supplies you should have in your personal basket at ALL times, for yourself as much as for your Royalty or Nobility. (Royalty refers to Prince/Princess & Kings/Queens, Nobility refers to Barons/Baronesses, from here on all are referred to as Royalty in this paper.) This is a basic list, if you wish to add more to your baskets, feel free.

Fan (or 2 – at least one that you don’t mind “loosing”)
Kleenex (small package)
Pens and small pad of writing paper (a couple of paper clips are good to have)
Calligraphy pen(s) (if dip pens, don’t forget the ink, if cartridge, don’t forget extras
Hand Sanitizer & Hand Wipes (very good for outdoor events)
Hair brush & bobby pins
Travel sewing kit (some hotels have these in the bathrooms)
Safety pins (get a little box and put it in a Ziplock, you’ll need them)
Travel soap, shampoo, & conditioner (hotel stuff is good, again)
Small 1st Aid Kit (disinfecting wipes, 1st Aide Cream/Gel, Band-Aids, allergy meds, Feminine Products, etc.)
Sunscreen & OFF
Ribbon (Kingdom or Baronial colors plus black & white)
Extra Snood
Chap Stick
Drinking Glass (for you) & cup cover if you have one
Personal Knife (this can be handy at feasts as well as for cutting the ribbon if your travel Sewing kit looses its scissors)

If your Royalty/Nobility have largess, such as coins of the reign (or bells, buttons, etc.) to give out as thank you tokens, see if you can have a small stash and give them out to people not on the court and guard who assist you with Royal/Noble duties. (Carrying/setting up thrones, pavilions, Royal/Noble regalia – especially the really heave stuff, etc.)

Basket cover of some kind, to hide the big mess that now lives in your basket. (I have a Basket-Man Basket with a wooden lid built right in. It does double duty as a little side table.)

Always, always, always bring a gallon of water for your Royalty/Nobility plus some for you. (Did I mention ALWAYS?!)

Parasol, if you have 2 bring both, one for you and one for your Royal/Noble. (Optional)

Finally, a small project for you to work on while attending and sitting in a casual environment.

(When I get home, my awards, belts, and favors reside on the top of my basket, that way I don’t forget anything.)

Hopefully Helpful,

Largess, What is it and Who can Give it

Monday, June 27th, 2011


I know I have spoken about largess briefly before, but I didn’t go into details about what it is ans who can give it.

Who can Give Largess?

Anyone can give a token of largess!

What is Largess?

Largess is defined as,

1. Liberal giving (of money or other valuables), something so given

2. Generosity of spirit or attitude.

Largess has been around for centuries. In feudal times it could have been a gift of land or freedom. It could have been a gift of a precious stone to a worthy subject, or an award of title.

Today in the SCA, largess can be anything from someone telling a volunteer, “Thank you for volunteering!” to a Crown giving a well deserved award.

I have spoken about my own experiences of giving largess myself. I usually give beaded jewelry that I have hand made. I have seen other give everything from hand made doilies to purchased strands of beads, and everything in between (including silver individually wrapped chocolate candies in a tear drop shape)!

The majority of largess I have seen has been at the Artisans Showcases at large events such as Pensic and Estrella Wars. The Peers (especially Laurels, but some Pelicans, and a few Knights) come around to each individual display and leave a token of appreciation or admiration. Largess at its best!

Some of these tokens of largess are handmade by the person bestowing them. Some are handmade by artisans who the giver has commissioned to have them specially made. Some are purchased from stores or on-site at merchant booths. Any of these are appropriate for largess.

Some largess is very special, indeed.

At Estrella in 2010, I had set up my little display area at the Artisans Showcase on Sunday. I was displaying my scribal arts as well as some of the porcelain Peerage pendants on hand beaded necklaces that I make, and some other SCA jewelry I had made from friends who had brought it out because they wanted me to display it (this is my friend who makes all my garb, and when she says she wants me to display something, I say O.K. and display it).

A lovely lady came in and looked at each and every individual display. On her preliminary way through, she had given me a little hand cast pewter pilgrims badge, about the size of a nickle. I thought it was really cool.

After she had made her way all the way around once, she doubled back and made a second pass through. On this second pass, she asked me for the token she had given me back. Now, before you get all up in arms and stop reading, I will tell you this story has an amazing ending that you don’t want to miss!

I said, “Certainly” and gave it back to her thinking she saw something “better” down the line and ran out of tokens, or something. I had a couple of other people at my display at the time, so I didn’t have time to analyze the situation at that moment.

After briefly speaking with the other people, I turned to see the lady who had asked for her token back was still there. She explained, “I took the little back because I wanted to give you “this”. She presented me with the most beautiful hand cast pewter pilgrim’s badge I had ever laid eyes on. It is about 2 1/2 inches in diameter with loads of punch work.

I said, “Oo! Thank you.” She then said, “Oh, your stuff is too cool, I have to give you the other one too.” and left the small badge as well. I think I was gobsmacked because I couldn’t say anything but “Thank you.” again. Before I could say anything else, she turned and said goodbye and was off.

Needless to say, I squirreled the big badge away for safe keeping, just under part of my display, and only showed people I knew really well when they came by and told them the story.

I told a friend of mine, Mistress Dairine, from Tir Ysgithr (Tucson, AZ), and she blanched. She said, “You don’t know what that is do you?” I said, “Obviously not.” She went on to explain that it was the winning entry from the Casting category in the Estrella Arts & Sciences Competition from the day before.

I was sitting right next to the Atenveldt Kingdom Minister of Arts and Sciences, and a very good friend of mine, and I asked him to confirm it. He said, and I quote, “Oh ya! I wondered why it looked so familiar!” (Insert eye roll here.)

I took one really hard gulp, freaked out a bit, and wanted to immediately fine the lady who had given it to me and appropriately gush, but I learned she had already left site to catch a plane back home.

This stranger had liked my work so much, she had given me a prize winning piece of art! This was certainly the best, most prized to me, piece of largess ever!

Later, I was able, through the magic of the internet and a couple of friends, to get her contact info and permission to e-mail her. I was able to get the back story on the piece, and learned she had planned on giving it at the Artisans Display. Her generosity so stunned me. I am forever grateful to her for such a wonderful piece of largess.

One need not be a King, nor a Peer, to give largess and to make someone’s day. If you can’t volunteer, please at least thank the volunteers you see. If you are able to give them a small token of largess, it goes a long way to make someone’s day.

Hopefully Helpful,