Friday, September 14, 2007

Bank Transfers!

Good Grief
, the amount of "fee" that is extracted on both sides of the world is incredible. Not only do I end up paying the $35 on my side, but also, because the bank that handles international wires, extorts another 48 EUs out of the merchant I'm doing business with, I get "zapped" for another 36 EU. This unfortunately makes it hard to work with small craftsmen. The pain might have been less transparent if they had a paypal account or something. I'm not blaming the merchant, I'm his first US customer and they've been very up front and have a solid reputation. They were just as surprised as I was. Usually European banks do a 4-6 EU fee, but for some reason the US and another country, he didn't mention which one, get trounced in the exchange.

Somewhere in the background I can hear John Cleese in an old Schwep's ad saying, "Do you have a word for highway robbery?"

Global Economy my....@$$@#*&*%#!

I'm starting to wonder what this is going to cost to get my bauble shipped to England and then to the US.

Current mood: perturbed.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

In Memorium

Today marks the 6th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon, and Flight 93 which crashed in Shanksville PA.

Special thoughts go out to Carl "Max" Hammond's family. He was on Flight 175, and to Nick Bogdan's family. I did not know Nick personally, but he was part of a circle of friends that intersected with my circle of old high school friends. I believe he was in the North Tower and about to head home. My thoughts are with his wife, Dorothy, and their two children.

A red, white, and blue ribbon, faded a little from six years in the sun, still hangs from my review mirror, a tribute to those who should not be forgotten. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone, in every country, who was touched by that day.


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Riding in a dress

onday I took my first ride on my horse wearing a replica of a 15th century Burgundian gown. Sorry, I didn't think to have my camera with me. It would have just been one more "thing" to deal with, as my husband was going to test out his updated armet at the same time. Any how, I did this on a modern, western saddle. It is no small task to mount in a full skirt. There's no slit in the skirt, so I did what a lady in the USS told me to do.

With my husband Bob acting as valet, I unceremoniously hiked, thank goodness I was wearing jeans underneath, my skirt up and flung the mass of fabric over my left arm, stepping up on my 18" mounting block, I grasped the reins in my left hand and the cantle in my right, placed my left foot in the stirrup, and threw my right leg over. Once I was safely in the saddle, I released the bundle of fabric, letting it fall to either side of me. Bob helped me adjust my skirt. While I felt a lot like the Wife of Bath (Ellesmere Manuscript Canterbury Tales at left) with my legs on either side of my horse, it was not a "bad look", though I think I would have preferred the more lady like aside position. I was sorely tempted on several occasions to fling my right leg over that western obstruction known as a pommel. However, my biggest concern was that very same pommel, which I eyed constantly as I rode around the ring. I just had the horrible vision of the dress getting caught on the horn at some point and...well... horrible vision covers it pretty well and I had no desire to become a kite for my horse. Fortunately, nothing bad happened, but Phantom could sense I was nervous about something and the fact that the gown tickled her flanks, did little to ease my nerves as I felt her skin twitching.

My dismount was just as lacking in grace. I couldn't do "around the world" and dismount facing out. I had to do it in the current fashion of bring my right leg over and slipping to the ground facing the horse's side. Just something about that pommel again and possibly getting that hem caught. I had no desire for a cowboy's death. Though that's usually involves stirrups and being dragged over merciless terrain.

It did raise a few questions:

I have to wonder how mounting was accomplished in the 15th century. The saddles were not like the ones we have today and I am relatively sure a certain level of decorum was practiced so as not to "flash a little leg". Women did not have access to the riding attire of later days. It was definitely the era of full skirts. I've added an image from the "Mort d'Arthur" from the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris to show the aside pose. The manuscript is mid-15th century and the saddle seems to be a common form of regular riding saddle with "eared" cantle.

So, I find myself asking...

Was a platform used? It is unclear as I haven't seen in contemporary (to the 15th century) art that shows a lady mounting.

Did the ladies companion give her a "leg up"?

Again, I haven't seen it in an illustration, yet. So far, I've only seen ladies already in the saddle and haven't come across any passages of etiquette for valets or companions assisting the lady in the saddle.

Or did they just do it themselves from any natural or man-made object that could be used as an impromptu mounting block?

I really don't see them just "hauling" themselves up there, even though there is a passage in "The Saddle of Queens" that discusses one lady's attendants being required to mount unassisted from the ground. I don't have the book to hand at the moment, but will dig out the passage and see what the primary source is for the comment, if it's available. Some early 20th century books weren't big on footnotes. *sigh*

It will bear some experimentation and probably a horse of smaller stature than my own mare to know for certain. Another thing to add to my "to do" list.