Siege Diaries 11/19/2020

Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt:  Will I accept the situation and still fight to do and be good?

I like this particular prompt, because it specifically addresses the conundrum in the word “accept.”  It doesn’t mean “give up.”  It means acknowledge the facts of the present and deal with their consequences in the present.  Maybe a somewhat trivial example–but let’s take masks.  I don’t particularly like wearing them, but I accept that they have a function towards the common good in the current environment.  So, my thinking goes, why not make the best of the situation?  So I have decorative masks, including several with fabrics I like, one with a patch of a Lancaster, another embroidered with my SCA device, and another embroidered with Shostakovich’s signature, along with several I’ve purchased, including examples with airplanes, Rush, and superheroes.  Not only do they make me feel better about wearing a mask, they show others that I am past complaining and denying and actively dealing with the realities of life. 

Yesterday I received word that Claire Boudreau, the former Chief Herald of Canada, had died.  Several months ago, she had rather abruptly retired and her replacement stepped up with very little pomp–which, in an office that’s all about pageantry, was surprising.  I had wondered whether there was something deeper behind the abrupt switchover besides “COVID-times,” and this would seem to indicate that there was.  She was by no means anywhere near elderly.  Enough of that–here’s a little of why this news hit hard.  Mme. Boudreau (who in fact could have been addressed as Dr. Boudreau, as she held a PhD in medieval history from the Sorbonne, with a thesis focusing on French heraldry) was our guest at the Known World Heraldic and Scribal Symposium several years ago.  About that time the Canadian Heraldic Authority had been getting a lot of attention from SCA heralds for their amazing heraldic designs–modern, yes, but with a gorgeous aesthetic far removed from the bad civic heraldry many are used to.  When we won the bid to do KWHSS, I had included in the proposal the idea of asking someone from the CHA to come speak to us.  I had to get out of my introvert mindset and write a letter asking if someone could come speak to us, while at the same time not sending them screaming away from the massive pack of geeks that are SCA Heralds.  So I screwed up my courage and wrote a letter to Mme. Boudreau.  To my great surprise and delight, not only was the CHA willing to send someone, she wanted to come herself, and since it could be expensed as a conference speech, there would be no fee required (I love government agencies!)  We did comp her a room for one night.  Initially we assumed she’d just come down, give her speech, and be on her way, but no–she was super interested in how we ran our College and how heraldry worked in the SCA. Long story short, she went to a variety of sessions (including the Principal Heralds’ session) and came away hugely impressed with how the College operates, particularly the quick turnaround time on the submissions process and how much a team of unpaid volunteers was able to accomplish.  There was much commiserating over challenging clients and general geekery about design principles, particularly during her presentation, when she walked us through the whole process the CHA uses, and there were oohs and ahhs at how gorgeous and clever many of the designs were.  It turned into a mutual admiration society. We also had examples of some banners and other heraldry on display, along with scribal works–and the latter caught her eye.  As a result, at least two local SCA scribes now do work for the CHA.  She later shared her PhD dissertation with us, and we had hopes that maybe someday, we’d have another chance to invite her to speak again.  That, unfortunately, was not to be.  But I cherish what time we did get.   

And there is a personal story as well.  I made Mme. Boudreau a thank-you scroll based on a period grant of arms, which was presented after she spoke.  She had rode the train down to the Toronto area, so she asked if I could hang onto it because she was afraid it would get crushed on the ride home, and mentioned she’d send for it.  A few days later, the postal outlet let me know I had a package.  When I went to pick it up, the postal clerk was hugely curious as to what I’d received from the Office of the Governor General.  It was a huge, flat, wooden document shipping container, the kind the CHA uses for sending completed grant documents to their clients, and was, of course, return postage paid.  Here’s the document I created:


A friend posted Mme. Boudreau’s actual grant document, which is below.  Her device is exceedingly simple, but surrounded by two rainbow-striped panther supporters incensed (as panthers usually are) and a third, blue panther as a crest and the motto “Ardente”, which means both “burning” and “passionate.”  


Eternal Memory, Mme. Boudreau. You will be missed.