“Well begun is half done.” — Mary Poppins

The title of this post is a quote that has always confused me. What did Poppins mean by that? Was it another way of saying “If you’ve started well, that’s nice, but you should get to work and finish the rest?” Or maybe was the world’s most magical nanny trying to say, “If you begin with correct steps and a positive attitude, you’re already halfway to the finish line?” I’m not sure which, but maybe it means that both interpretations are equally valid, and I like them both, so that’s all right.

Welcome to my blog!

I’ve gone by many a name, so I won’t trouble you with the whole list, but you can call me Bee. Among other things, I am a member of the SCA, the Society for Creative Anachronism. For now, I’ll shorthand the explanation by saying that we’re a group of history buffs who adore dressing up as medieval people and doing medieval things. In the Society, I’m known as Lady D’vorah bint Da’ud.

For me, the fascination with history is a bit different from what I got to experience in my earlier life. In school, from kindergarten and on up through college, what I mostly learned about was the headlines. Generals, kings, presidents, civic and religious leaders, wars, riots, exploration of the world (primarily by old white guys), major inventions or scientific discoveries… And those things are cool, and all, but for some reason, history classes both interested and bored me, and I really couldn’t put my finger on why. Not until relatively recently, anyway.

You see, to me, history isn’t those things. Those things aren’t history, they’re what interrupts history, diverts it, alters it. Yes, it’s important, but these things are aberrations in life. They’re not life. Life is life.

Think about how you spend your life. Do you spend it leading armies into war, discovering world-changing technologies or new lands, spearheading a genocidal movement (G*D forbid), becoming monarch of a nation, starting or ending riots, writing new holy books and starting new religions?

Probably not.

Even if you’ve actually done any of these things, it probably only took place once or twice in your life, at the very most. No, you spend your life doing what the vast majority of humanity has done since “human” became a thing. You probably wake up, perform some sort of morning ritual (brushing your teeth, interacting your family or other home-sharing people, possibly some form of spiritual pursuit such as meditation or prayer, maybe a workout), then go about the business of earning a living and then protecting what you’ve earned. Maybe you have offspring. Maybe you make something, or perform some service for others. Maybe you engage in some sort of formal or informal educational endeavor. Likely, at least some part of your time or energy is devoted to establishing, maintaining, or ending interpersonal relationships, such as friendships or romantic entanglements. But that’s basically it, right? You spend your life living it.

That’s history.

That’s what I spend most of my free time learning about and doing. I like knowing how people lived from day to day. What they wore, what they ate, what they believed and what it made them do, how they thought, how they behaved in various situations, how they made the various physical objects that were a part of their lives. Everyone from monarchs to religious leaders to the lowest of the servant classes had certain expectations of the world, and the world had expectations of them. Everyone had things they owned, things they used, both in their personal lives and in their various professions. That’s what interests me the most. That’s what I like to think about, and that’s what I’ll be sharing within this blog.

Some of my focus will be on the ideas of history, and the ideas that come to me when I contemplate history or learn something about it, but also a large part of it will be about the things I make, or at least try to make, in my pursuit of greater understanding of historical living. The latter of these two concepts is called “material culture,” the study of the physical objects used within a given culture. That’s what this blog will be used to elucidate and explore. Basically: I make things out of stuff, and I’m planning on showing it to you.

There. Now I hope that this blog is well begun. But I hope it’s not even close to half done.

PS – Pretty soon this blog will actually have a theme. Right now it’s kind of ugly. I know, I know. Let that stand as the first “mistake,” and trust that some beauty will eventually follow. 😉