Friday, September 22, 2017


Here, at summer's end
I pace.
Peering out 
through the crack of a door,
opening the window
a bare inch to test the air,
still searing
with a sun bright
as a flashlight in the eye
when waking from sleep.

I am waiting
for the slow browning
of the grass,
the subtle shift 
to a darker hue
of tropics
and an ache of green
without end.

The first taste
has landed on my tongue,
fragile as a snowflake.
A breath of air
cooler when inhaled
than when exhaled.

Soon, there will be blooms.
Yellow and purple flowers
that explode on roadsides
and creep into
the corners of lawns.
This is the subtle Autumn
of the deep south.
It must be searched for
to be found.

And then will come
that first morning
when, upon stepping out the door
you remember
how to breathe
as humans do
and the gills of summer
will be packed away
for another year.

Then the natives
will tumble out of houses
to live their outside lives
of patio tables
and windows yawning wide
in a flutter of curtains
while something delicious
wafts from a far grill.

This is our season

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Beautiful Today: A Chrysalis of Another Color

Queen butterfly chrysalis in pale green, purple and green variations

Purple and green, lovely together.
A group of color variations showing green, pinkish white and pink. This group was from a few years ago.

Monday, July 10, 2017

In Memory of Michael Grove

Written July 2, 2017
Knighting manuscript page for Sir Gaheris based upon the Utrecht Psalter. Photo by Lisa Pompeo. Calligraphy and illumination by me.

I sit tonight, at this desk, alone but for kittens and my thoughts. It occurs to me how very lucky I am. My life is an odd thing, strangely shaped and it may not make sense to everyone. I strive to meet new people, have new experiences, hear new perspectives, and stretch myself to learn more about what life can be for myself, and what it is for others.

My schedule is often packed and I give of myself, my skills and my time when it can help another, no matter if they would or could return the favor. When I give of myself, I try to give those moments as a gift that needs no recompense but will be met with joy, and maybe even grace if I can muster it, if those gifts are some day returned. I don't think my choices make sense to everyone, sometimes especially to my family. To many it might seem strange that I know so very many people, and can find a place in my heart for them.

The inherent danger in having such a lush garden of friends and associates is that sometimes there are those that I will lose. I suppose it seems, on the outside, that I happen to know a lot of people who have passed away. Indeed, I have. Each time it takes a toll as a remarkable person leaves with our time spent together cut far too short. I cry. I ache inside. I grieve. But, no matter the pain of their departure from this world, I would not trade a minute of knowing them to lift the stifling veil of sadness that their passing has brought.

For in the knowing of them there was joy, friendship, laughter, tears, memories and lessons that are the essential components of the person I have become. As I travel this garden path of my life, I collect friends and acquaintances as others would gather flowers. It is those memories made with these friends that I press like Autumn leaves between the pages of my life.

Some future day, I will open up that page of my heart and that treasure will flutter out. I may laugh at a remembered jest, recite a line or song or verse, or I may just press that memory to my chest, inhale the beauty or joy or sadness that it brings and let the lesson which that person engraved upon my soul linger for a moment while I remember them.

Today, well, now it would be yesterday, we said our aching goodbyes to a remarkable man. Gaheris Vitruvius Gracchus was unlike anyone I have ever known and I do not believe that I will meet his like again. Although there is now grief, and a hole left in the space he once filled, I must still count myself lucky. I knew him. I will remember him. Some day I will turn a corner and a memory will rise up inside me, and on that day and every other where he crosses my mind, I will know that I made the right choice to carry him in my heart.

For I carry them all in my heart and where I go, they will always be. But for now, I will let the poets say it far better, and more succinctly than I might with my rambling words. Good night, and joy be with you all.


i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)


Sunday, July 09, 2017

Manesse Codex Laurel for Countess Grainne

Manesse Codex inspired page for my friend Countess Grainne. Depicted at the top are her friends, the peers who spoke for her at the elevation. (Left to right) Master Davius, Duchess Maisie, me, Mistress Gwenhwfyr and Duke Ardion. Peacock feathers in the corners are at nod to Grainne's heraldry, a peacock.

Below image is the same with a US quarter dollar for scale for reference.

I must have flowers

Finished commission for a friend that will likely end up in the ETSY store at some point. You can visit my other work at

Medieval Selfies, from Gulf Wars

Taking selfies at a medieval event is hilarious to me for some reason, but I often feel at my prettiest when I don all of my garb, my veils,  hair pieces, my beautiful gowns and get to be a 13th century baroness for a week. This past Gulf Wars was a lovely time.

Master of Mary of Burgundy Border

A leaf inspired by several pages from the Master of Mary of Burgundy. I was experimenting with changing background colors and botanical components to play with color and composition.

After calligraphy, it went out to Hon Lady Vivienne le Corbeau as a Triskele Trimaris.

Here's after calligraphy, added by Mistress Finnguala, I think.

Korean inspired tourney shield.

Add caption
Tourney shield for Duke Yoan Moon Yang. Acrylic on aluminum, with many, many layers of clear coat on top.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Beaded Veils and Things We Put on Our Heads

Pink and green totally matches.
13th century clothing isn't always super exciting. Personally, I prefer to use nice solid blocks of color for my under gown and cyclas so that I can mix and match my wardrobe to suit my mood, the event, the weather or whatever the daily augury suggests. I have a few gowns that are patterned or made with flashy fabrics, but for the most part, you'll find me in Manesse codex match-ups. 

The one place I can have a bit of fun is in the stuff that goes on my head. Veils, wimples, coronet, crispinettes, filets and more, but my favorite accessory is a silk veil with beads. Lots of beads. Perhaps, a shameful number of beads.

There is nothing quite like a long sweep of silk and a clatter of tiny pearls. The wearing of the wimple, veil, crispinette and coronet is simply the part of my dress that feels the most medieval since these items are so limited in modern appearance. Nuns, holy people, a few pagans and Muslim women  are really the only modern survivors of the middle age aesthetic of women wearing head coverings as a sign of modesty or devotion.

Last Judgement Triptych
by Hans Memling, c. 1469.
Veil w/pearled edge
Of course, in the middles ages, lots of crazy veil and hat styles knocked the modesty out of the equation, but still kept a woman covered... even if she had to duck through doorways because of the height of a hennin. Ladies also jazzed up the veil by adding ruffled edges and sometimes even heavily beaded edges. There are lots of paintings of beaded veils that come from the medieval and renaissance period sometimes showing heavy beading, intricate works and veils so gossamer you can read a newspaper right through them. 

I look terrible in pretty much any hat produced after 1915, so I'm glad I get to have a bit of fun with head coverings in my SCA experience. 

I hand bead and hem all of my silk veils. I do this because silk is way easier to get a rolled and lovely edge when hemmed by hand, I can't afford buying this work from someone else and because it helps me to reach back into the past and make a little connection. I sew veils mostly in the evenings. In my rocking chair as I watch television, talk on the phone or listen to audio books, my hands are busy rolling the fine edge of silk, working with thread and beads to create something beautiful.

The best part is when someone asks me where I got my veil and I can answer with a smile and a blush of pride that I made it myself. I'm not fantastic at sewing handwork, so making more veils and delicate pieces that add to my kit is forcing me to become better at sewing as I decorate myself.

Currently, I am adding to my collection by working on a pale blush silk veil with pale rose glass pearls. Also, new crispinettes are coming soon...

Michelino da Besozzo

A quick border inspired by a page from the Hours of Michelino da Besozzo.

I worked on this at a demo at Hoggetowne Medieval Faire and had to stop regularly to talk to Faire patrons or to eat proffered "Faire food". I did not attempt the deep friend butter, but I did watch a man go slowly green as he ate it. I think I'll just stick with painting and tiny hot

It did take about a solid 5 minutes of eraser use to remove all of the Faire grime.

Turned in to the Chart Signet for general use.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Stefan Lochner Gebetbuch

Border inspired by the Stefan Lochner Gebetbuch

Illumination my Baroness Maol Mide ingen Medra OL, OP

Turned in to the Trimaris Chart Signet for general Kingdom use.

The Dragon Ship

Inspired by: Viking Ship / Anglo-Saxon Illumin./ C11 Anglo-Saxon manuscript illumination, c. 1025–1050. Viking ship of war.

Turned into the Trimaris Chart Signet for Kingdom use at Hoggetowne 2016

Kale Adriane, Pelican

Inspired by: An illustrated and illuminated manuscript of Jami's Yusuf wa Zulaykha, signed by 'Ali Reza Al-Katib, Herat or Bukhara, Safavid, dated 982 AH/1574 AD

Limning: Baroness Lisabetta da Firenze, OL

Text: Baron Severin Visconti di Milano, KSCA

Calligraphy and Illumination: Baroness Maol Mide ingen Medra, OL, OP

I made her a special Goatse of her own. My gift to her.

Seamus mac Dhughaill, Knight

Inspirations: Gray-Fitzpayn Book of Hours and the Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer

Limning: Mistress Lisabetta da Firenze

Text: Master Simon Maurus of the Argent Quill

Calligraphy and Illumination: Mistress Maol Mide ingen Medra

Renown comes to those rare warriors whose
Indomitable spirit presses them ever forward,
Seeking to fully live in Virtue and with Honor.
Each battle, be it for Crown, Kingdom or Cause,
Against all forces is his Prowess and Resolve made evident,
Keeping true to that most ancient, noble Code.
Now, let all men know from the thistle highlands to our triune shores
In our fair Kingdom do We, The Crown Trimaris, elevate our good Seamus mac Dhughaill,
Granting him rank as a Companion of The Order of the Chivalry Trimaris,
Hereafter bearing this Patent of Arms, with all rights and privileges appertaining.
This, done by Our Hands on this 14th day of November, AS 50

Ardion, King
Lisa, Queen

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Butterfly Women

The caterpillars
just know the act of eating.
They offer no thanks

When the rain is full
of ghosts. Cold gems come falling,
tapping foliage.

A butterfly girl
knows no rest, no warmth, no thanks...
still the insects chew

Upon shining leaves
gathered in the blowing rain,
by hands, pale and cold.

Still, the keeper knows
her charges, someday, will show

When wings are unfurled
and a riot of color
lifts into the sky.

-Kristen Gilpin, 2016

Monday, September 14, 2015

Matthias von Greifsburg, Master of Defence

This piece is a strange amalgam of various German influences and I'm going to take a few moments to explain how I work on commissions and how these illuminations come to fruition. When someone asks me to do a peerage scroll, I very much want to make sure that they are an active part in deciding what art will live on their home wall forever.

Once upon a time, step one was packing a bag of books and meeting with the client. We would flip through pages and use dozens of sticky notes to explain what elements on each page were of interest. The magic of the interwebs has made my life a lot easier with Pinterest. So now, step one is working with the client to start a Pinterest board where we can both upload images that we think might be a good fit.

Sometimes the client picks a single piece they like, and sometimes I have a request to stitch several pieces together into a final illumination. At this point, I gather information like heraldry, favorite colors, and little nuances that the client would like to have included or about which they care deeply. In the case of this illumination the answers were something like: red, blue, gold, yay Teutons, my wife, my daughter, griffin, shiny. Yep, I can work with that. I also find out if the client want to know anything else along the way or just wants to be surprised at the end.

  • Layout: Gospel Book of Henry II
  • Central illumination: Martin Schongauer's The Eagle of St. John, c. 1450-1491
  • Figure design: The Codex Manesse
Then I start sketching, erasing a lot, sketching more, frowning at proportions and final sketching. Usually, this is where the calligraphy comes in if life is optimal. Sometimes the author is still writing it. Sometimes it is still in translation and you have to get started. Next is gold leafing followed by color blocking and detailing. In the case of this piece, the calligraphy was added last at it was painted in gold on top of the white paint. 


Hier im schoenen Trimaris / erzaehlt man sich solch' Wunder
Von lobenswerten Helden / und deren unzaehlige Taten
Im Dienste des Traums/ mit Leidenschaft und Talent
und vom unangefochtenen Adel von Don Matthias von Greifsburg.

Ein Beispiel zu allen Zeiten / Er fuehrte unsere Klingen in die Schlacht
Hoeflich und voll Gnade ist er / gegenueber dem Volk und denen an der Macht
Von vorneherein ist sein Sieg / im Kamp festgestellt
und seine Grosszuegigkeit gehoert aller Welt.

Wir, die Krone von Trimaris / mit Herz, Hand, und Verstand
an diesem 24. Tag des Mai / AS 50 vereidigen
unseren Don Matthias / als Meister des Ordens der Verteidigung
und uebereichen ein Patent des Wappenrechts mit unserer Hand.

To we in fair Trimaris / is many a marvel told
Of praise-deserving heroes / of valors manifold
Of service to the dream / of passion and skill superb
And the worthiness unquestioned / of Don Matthias Von Griefsburg.

A leader on and off the field / he took our blades to war
He's courteous and gracious / to all he comes before
Of victory in battle / his conclusion is foregone
And his generosity / never is withdrawn.

So do we the crown Trimaris / with heart and hand and mind
On this day the 24th of May / anno societatus 50
Name our don Matthias Master / of the Order of Defense
A Patent of Arms / does with this award dispense.

If you would like to see more about the creation of this piece:
Personae Dramatis

Limning, calligraphy and illumination: Mistress Maol Mide ingen Medra OL, OP
Translation to German: Mistress Mayken Van der Alst, OL

Tiny Terrarium

The wistful historical-loving scientist part of me has always wanted a terrarium for my home. I had dreams of Victorian miniature hothouses and collections of odd fungus and mosses.

Now, my scientific little heart is pleased. A friend gave me a small patina colored miniature greenhouse and a walk in the woods and division of a few tillandsias ended me up with enough species to fill my new terrarium.

Here's a nice close look inside:

Included species:
  • Fan-shaped jelly fungus (Dacryopinax spathularia)
  • Snow Fungus (Tremella fuciformis)
  • Common Haircap Moss (Polytrichum commune)
  • Pincushion Moss (Leucobryum albidum)
  • Perforated Ruffle Lichen (Parmotrema perforatum)
  • Resurrection Fern (Polypodium polypodioides)
  • Sphagnum Moss (Sphagnum)
  • Bartram's Airplant (Tillandsia bartramii)
  • Southern Needleleaf (Tillandsia setacea)
  • Air Plant (Tillandsia funckiana)
  • Wax Begonia (Begonia x semperflorens)
  • Violet Wood-Sorrel (Oxalis violacea)
  • Unknown bracket fungus (Polyphore)

I'll see how these species do in the terrarium and transfer anything out that seems to be flagging. I'll add more small species over time. Also, I need to figure out a lighting solution. Something like an LED lightbar that I can mount inside the cover would work nicely. We'll see what happens.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Graveyard Wander in Pennsylvania

During my recent trip to visit my sister and brother-in-law in Pennsylvania, we traveled to several graveyards to perform genealogical research. We visited the Washburn Street Cemetery in Scranton, Mount Carmel Cemetery in Dunmore and in the Fleetville Baptist Cemetery in Fleetville. 

Welsh text grave of Evan Lewis, died 1894
Washburn Street Cemetery is an old cemetery with a rich history of the Hyde Park section of Scranton and includes the graves of many of Scranton's Welsh coal miners and settlers. Here can also be found about 60 of the graves of the 110 victims of the Avondale Mine Disaster

The cemetery is partially in good repair in the newer sections, but many of the oldest graves are badly overgrown, tumbled over by time or vandals or almost entirely burried through settling. Finding anything in this cemetery can be a real challenge. 

The sections with the oldest graves can be found closest to Fillmore Ave or along the cemetery frontage at Washburn Street. There are hills, uneven ground, high grass and lots of obstacles, but the old stones are fascinating. Among the old graves, many graves written in Welsh can be found.

I was glad to see two people working in the graveyard doing upkeep, one on a tractor and one with a weed trimmer. Both were friendly and offered assistance.

Part of the "Old Section" of Washburn Street Cemetery.

Headstone for Savino Macchia, died 1920
Mount Carmel Cemetery in Dunmore dates to the mid to late 1800's and has burials that continue to this day. The areas of the cemetery from about 1930 onward are well ordered and records are on file at Mount Carmel catholic Church of Dunmore that can help you find the exact location of a plot of anyone burried from about 1940 to present. Many of the graves, even those dating into the 1940's are entirely carved in Italian, as this area was rich with Italian culture.

The older graves, however, have no records that remain. The oldest section of the graveyard sits to the far right of the cemetery. Some stones are worn smooth, some are gone, some have only iron crosses or a small stone that contains only initials of the deceased. 

One concrete cross has small stones pressed into it to spell the word MOTHER, but no names or dates are given. Unfortunately, all of the graves for which we searched either had no burial marker, the stone has been worn smooth, or the iron cross engraved with a name can no longer be read. 

Part of the "Old Section" of Mount Caramel. Most graves date from before 1910 in this section.
The Fleetville Baptist Cemetery was a lovely graveyard on the side of a steep hill. The entire yard was in good repair, most stones were upright and the cemetery seemed well cared for. With my sister's crazy luck, she found the grave we were looking for in just minutes.

Among the graves, I did get to find some lovely bits of nature.

Grass Pinks (Dianthus armeria)

Wood Strawberries (Fragaria vesca)

British Soldier Lichen (Cladonia cristatella)

Little Wood-Satyr (Megisto cymela)
Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis)