On this Middle Child Day I am pleased to report a study that says that middle children tend to be artistic and creative, not just more independent, peacemakers, efficient and mellow. Let’s appreciate Middle Children! Of course, that was Wednesday, and I didn’t finish the letter yesterday. Today is Left Hander’s Day. It’s also my brother Bob’s birthday. As long as someone is remembered, they are not gone.
We are back from Pennsic, and I have succumbed to the all-too-common bit where after a stressful extended period, you get a cold just as soon as it’s over. I sometimes manage to avoid that by promising myself that even without a cold I will rest and not plunge into trying to play catch up, but instead nibble at the backlog, and put a priority on recovery. This year it didn’t seem to work, so I’m doing the resting and “nibbling” with itchy eyes, sore throat; yesterday I was in the hurricane like sneezes phase, today: coughing! Swell. (I should mention that the link above, and this one are clips from ABC filming Pennsic this year- in this case, the marketplace shows ours at around 2:30, but more exciting, Arab Boy blowing glass.)
Kat got the cold first and is also not doing so well, while Willow is just achey and exhausted. As you might guess, the house is a wreck and likely to remain so for a while. This is sad since the plumber is coming over today.
We are enjoying the green-ness (and rain) up here. This year was supposed to be another “wet” Pennsic with lots of rain. They even closed off some of the lower-lying camping areas expecting them to flood. Someone was probably doing weather witching because there was NO rain this year. There were a couple of light sprinkles on the first Sunday, and one storm that went past us- but as we watched on the weather apps, the storm split and went to the north and south of the campground. (Spectacular lighting show, though.) I feel really sorry for the farmers down there. When it rained all day yesterday we hoped some of it hit Western Pennsylvania.
Here’s a picture of the new Caravan, with the trailer- and one showing how we can have only one seat in the back (although we’d already taken out the cooler which Kat had beside her. I finally remembered to snap one as we were dropping the recycling off on the way out of Pennsic. It’s in front of the columns they put people in whenever there are too many to just sent through as they arrive.
Since when we got in Friday night last year, we weren’t allowed to go in to our booth (about 400 feet away), this year we left on Friday, spent the night in an hotel about 6 hours out from home, 3 hours from Pennsic, to arrive in the morning. While we weren’t surprised to discover that with the van and full load our milage went down to 10 mpg, I forgot that the trailer slows us down as well. I’m not sure how that works since the speedometer read 65 most of the way, but six hours became eight (plus rest stops), and Saturday morning, three hours became four. So we got there just after one and spent until about 4:30 in those lines. There are 8 lines, that hold about 25 cars each (some with trailers), and when you come down to it, they get everyone through pretty quickly all things considered. It occurred to me that people were doing much the same in line that they’d be doing all week, sitting in the sun chatting with friends (only in cars not tents). Many got out chairs, others even wine (or water). We chatted with several friends, and some people who fell into the category “do we know you, or have we just seen you around Pennsic for 20 years?”.
At some point, bored, I called Megan to let her know that we were in, and she told us that our booth had a severe list, so we were worried as well as hot for those three hours. When we checked in, we discovered that Yes, it was listing (I’d say about 10º), but they’d set it on a small hill, and cranked the front jack up way too far. Once we lowered that and Willow put the jacks under the corners it was fine. A length of bright yellow embroidery floss hanging across the window made it easy to check. That’s why we have the jacks- to level it. (That, and the built-in ones were allowed to drag and broke the first year.) Willow borrowed a bottle jack from Arab Boy and it was so much easier than the scissor jack, we bought one for ourselves on the next town run. Also- as she’d suspected for years, having an extra jack made it simpler to lift. Megan quipped that it looked like the tractors had taken all our booths through a mine field. The (vertical) boards on the back of our booth were all pulled out- indicating that they’d lifted the front high enough that the back was dragged along the ground. Cindy said she knows the drivers go too fast, and always tells them to slow down. I told her I’d pay more to have her hire drivers who didn’t break the booths each time. (I’m not sure that’s true for everyone.)
Cindy said she saw our booth leaning all the way down from the storage field, and the wheels were smoking from rubbing on the floor, and had to fix it before they moved it back. So when John from Three Bears Camp (who’s helped us so often in the past) came by, he offered once again to lift it so that the wheels wouldn’t rub on the floor. He did, and we’re thinking next year of replacing the leaf springs which he says are shot, and will be a fairly easy fix. With the listing problem (I still think it was mostly the place they parked it), we had to put off having Quinton install the lifts for the center section of the roof. It would have been the perfect year for that since there was no rain and we still haven’t figured out how to wall off the open sides when the roof is lifted, but until we see how Cindy likes the current fix, we didn’t dare move the center of balance any further upward.
When that was done John helped us put together the new, sturdier booklet display. Rather than slotting together it we’ll have to screw and unscrew it, but I think it will be much nicer, and if we keep a little battery powered screwdriver with it, not much more difficult. John also solved another crisis- I’d moved my license from my purse to the pouch I wear around Pennsic for checking in, and it went missing. Somehow it had fallen through the floor and was under the booth, probably when I dump the pouch on top of my chest to put things away at night. It probably feel behind the chest, then down the wall and through the floor. What a relief!
After leveling the house and doing the initial “lifting the wings” bit, we unhooked the trailer and did the first town run. We were looking forward to eating at Kings- our favorite diner. They have, or rather, had, Frownies- brownies with a grumpy face in frosting. Sadly, they’ve changed management and those are gone, along with all the great diner food that we’d come to love and expect. Now it’s a “Pittsburgh” theme, which seems to mean adding french fries on top of every dish. Weird. After driving, baking for three hours in line, stressing over the house, shopping, etc. we were VERY grateful when Corrine offered to let us sleep in one end of her tent that night.
On a later town run we tried Eat n’ Park which I think we’ve avoided simply because of the name in the past. Apparently they have cookies called Smilies which were probably the inspiration for the Frownies, and they have the expected diner fare we used to get at Kings. I always thought Megan was saying “Eaton Park”, but am pleased to discover it- cute name and all. We probably did more town runs than usual this year because it was so hot and Kat really needed the air conditioning- and Willow and I didn’t mind it either. As a matter of fact, the first week she usually had a basin to keep her feet in to cool her off- which I’d use to water the plants in the mornings.
In the morning we finished setting up, and were actually able to do a few sales on Monday. This was the first year that all our paperwork was settled and we could just go without running around. It was great.
But every year one leaves something behind. This year it was the flash-drive with the booklets/ class handouts on it. I left it in the computer. I called home Friday from the hotel and John spotted it immediately, popped it into a mailer, found the address for Coopers Lake on the Pennsic Website, and had it in the mail for a Saturday morning pickup. Sadly, apparently those don’t go out until Monday morning, so we needn’t have rushed. (grump!) (That’s why I was carrying my license- they don’t let you have your package without checking that you’re who you say you are. I’m good with that.)
I will also mention that the hotel the Vista Heights Inn in Henrietta, NY was too cheap. The first thing Willow did when she got into the room was lift the mattress to check for signs of bedbugs. Also, Expedia hadn’t even forwarded the reservation to them. They did have a room, but it wasn’t pleasant. When we got to Pennsic, Willow called, cancelled staying there on the way back, and booked a Red Roof instead which cost twice as much, but didn’t make us cringe. The biggest issue with that was she was using her phone to search and when the sites she was checking had pop-up windows, it prevented her from finding much of anything. Very frustrating. Considering how many people use their smart phones for this sort of thing, you’d think websites would take that into consideration. She finally just started using the phone to call call any hotel and find out if they had rooms. But that’s the end, not the beginning.
This year the medallions were small, red and octagonal. They looked like the rabies tags you get for your dog (or stop signs). Willow didn’t have any tiny metal tags shaped like that, so she made the doll medallions out of red posterboard, which could be trimmed to shape and was too hard to rip. We do hope that next year they’ll be something oval, round or square again.
Someone found a cache of old medallions in storage and they are selling them to people who’ve lost theirs and want a complete collection- the money going to site improvement. The improvement I’d like most is paving Bow Street, but that’s not going to happen while there’s a gas line running under it that may need work at any moment.
Mice seem to have gotten to the hose that connects the propane can to the stove, but luckily Willow had a spare on hand. As we got those nice window-boxes last year when I was teaching The Anglo-Saxon Garden, I stopped at the garden center to see if they had any herbs again. (There were no morning glories available to climb the front pillars this year, sigh.) “No herbs”, but they had yarrow, foxglove, lavender, gillyflowers, hen and chicks and several other plants the Anglo-Saxons called herbs, although we consider them flowers. I brought them home, and hope to get them into the garden as soon as I don’t feel dizzy when I lean over. (Did I mention I have a head-cold?)
Kat spent much of Monday on Willow’s green coat that got damp and green dye hit it again- I’m guessing from the dyed fur. We didn’t think that there’d been that much rain, but there were several things not yet in the tent, under a tarp, and apparently that wasn’t good enough. Thank goodness Kat has developed preternatural abilities at getting stains out of things.
Because I was so foggy this spring I’d put in to do the series on the Anglo-Saxon Context, an idea I’ve had for a few years. In the Renaissance you can find letters and books and pamphlets, but not so much in the Dark Ages. We rely heavily on archeology, dendrochronology, pollen and tooth analysis, that sort of thing, and compare those to the few remaining documents. We also look at what went before, what came after, and what was going on in contemporary cultures. So the series was about that. Monday I covered Rome- both Roman Britain and the Roman Empire as it continued through the Anglo-Saxon period. Tuesday was Celts, Wednesday was Franks (Carolingians and Merovingians), Thursday was the Vikings (Danes and Norse in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Scandinavia), and Friday the Normans (boo hiss). The first week (“Peace Week”) the classes were down in the Pennsic University tents, the second week (“War Week”) I gave them in the 12×12 pop up behind our booth. Actually, this year it was beside Alizaundre’s booth because the way they placed things this year didn’t leave room for it where it was last year.
My first class had 20 people in it, and I was really nervous because all week there were 20-30 people in each class; but whether people just don’t want to walk away from the class tents, or they are busier on War Week, we only had a half to a dozen, so they fit (thank goodness!). The RunValdr classes were in the little tent too, and I also did a couple iterations of the old Anglo-Saxon Medicine workshop. I have so many old ones, I think doing one repeat a year is probably a good thing.
I was a bit embarrassed to have to tell the people who came to class the first week that the handouts weren’t available, but they were sympathetic, and did come buy them when the flash-drive showed up (Thursday) and I had handouts for Friday’s class.
I also had to fall back on honesty when Denis de Dijon showed up. The plan was that I was going to have the portrait of him and his lady done to deliver at the war this year, and I hadn’t even started it. He also apologized, as they were going to send pictures of them in garb, and hadn’t gotten to getting those reference pictures taken and sent to me. I felt I should have been in contact and reminding them to send them, but he was quite charming about it. I got pictures of their faces (but not garb) last Christmas and thought I should have at least that done. Both of us had had a hard winter and were very understanding. His lady didn’t come to Pennsic this year, but perhaps when he gets home they can send the pictures, and I can finally get to it. Since he’s paid up front, it’s really weighing on my conscience.
He’d forgotten that they were paid up, so he had extra spending money- and went right over to the Limners Guild (under new management) and bought a sheet of purple parchment (or maybe it was vellum. Vellum is specifically calfskin, parchment can be calf, goat or sheep- so now you’ know). I’ve seem pictures of calligraphy, usually in gold or silver, on dyed parchment, but have never tried it.
I set up the “studio” with my desk and miniatures and sample book, but frankly, other than re-oiling the desk didn’t do anything with it this year.
Sales were pretty good this year, even on Midnight Madness. This was probably helped by getting a new string of lights- just a lightbulb every 10 feet, but it is a lot easier to hang and seems to make enough light. We hope to hang a dish (looking like a period hanging lamp) underneath each bulb which will deflect the light upwards toward the roof and not lose too much illumination. We’ll see. Our clever plan to shut up shop at 7:30 for supper and an early bed time foundered on the heat that resulted in most people beginning to wander through the market right about then. So, as in previous years, we shut up when it got dark.
I saw several queens go by (come buy). A lot more than I’d noticed before, but then, I also don’t run the shop much. One of them quipped when we pointed out that we gave the discount to queens and the people sewing for them “So now I’m a discount card?”. But we noticed that the seamstress paid full price for what she bought for herself. SCAers are wonderful!
I enjoyed watching the moon waxing to full, then waning, and coming up an hour or so later each night. I love sleeping outside with the mood shining on me. Again, as in previous years, as the war went on, the ropes of my bed got a bit looser, meaning that I would sink in more deeply in the middle, and have to throw myself out over the edge when I got up. But that’s a small price to pay for such beauty. I could wish that I would be able to see the stars (and the moon clearly) when I’d taken my contacts out. On the night of the full moon I actually jumped when I woke up in the middle of the night and saw something black moving near my bed. Last year we had a nocturnal visitor of the skunk variety, so now we try to make sure that our trash is always emptied before we go to bed. I thought it was back, but it turned out to be nothing but my shadow, so black against the light of the full moon. I actually jumped at my own shadow! How trite!
Willow’s birthday was on the 28th, and we picked up a cake at the Giant Eagle. (It looked something like a tower with embattlements- this year they had cookies frosted to look like knights and ladies and kilted scotsman- they really know who’s coming!) Her friends Elena, Kat, “Chibi” Amy, Brianna, and Morgan came by (after White Wolf and Phoenix closed), and we played Cards against Humanity, and had a great time. Willow dislikes that her birthday comes during Pennsic now, and decided to put it off until we got home. This meant that when she opened her presents, several that would have been handy at war were sitting wrapped on the kitchen table while we were at war. Oh well. I did take the stack of Prince Valiants I got her, because reading Prince Valiant at war is a good thing.
Other than classes, most of what I spent time on was the “Arastorm’s Merchant Appreciation Award”. Part of me resents putting money into the advertising. This year I spent more on the announcements in the paper as went into the little chest of “gold” that the winner (Arab Boy) won, and I spent extra to put the ballot into the merchant booklet. I cannot tell you how often I heard “I never heard of it” and “I don’t read the merchant book until the trip home” (which I’d feel worse about if it weren’t true for me as well). I use it to look people or goods up- not browse it for ideas. I have plenty of ideas of what I want to spend my money on all by myself! I figure that the advertising money is what’s going to make people think about merchants. My theory is that if you challenge people to pick “only one” from all the great numbers of really cool merchants, you’ll start to realize how many there are, and stop thinking of them/us as “Bloodsucking Merchant Scum”. Merchants are craftsmen, teachers, and artists; they create incredible stalls, and make materials and items available that you couldn’t get anywhere else. If it weren’t for the Marketplace, Pennsic would not be a town. Arab Boy, who we are lucky enough to be across the street from, blows glass on site! Thomas the Lapidary makes (and repairs) jewelry, Martha Blair and I do portraits, the gentleman down at Potters hall throws authentic pots all war, as well as building a clamp kiln and firing the pots in it, inviting people to come help and learn how it’s done. House Mirandola teaches how to use authentic art supplies in the back of their tent, and Megan has spent 18 years making the Limner’s Guild the source for parchment and other unique supplies. Look at the booths some create! Arab Boy, who we are lucky enough to be across the street from, blows glass on site! We get to watch him make globs of red hot glass into cups, vases, and other cool things. He’s even got benches for people to sit and watch! Smiths and leatherworkers, hatters and costumers, weavers and bowyers, you name it, we’ve probably got it. Even (and I hesitate to say “even”) the people who resell materials like cloth and trim, spices, and musical instruments are making things available that you can’t get anywhere else, and who’ll teach you which item is right for your persona! (Can you tell I think merchants are awesome?)
This year we put up five belts for our friend Taz who’s been learning leather stamping and casting the decorative studs that go on belts. Five belts is not enough to bother with a merchant stall, but his situation is about how most of the merchants started out. You learn something cool, you want to do more, you have too many things you’ve made to give to friends, so you figure if you sell them, other people will have them, and you’ll have money for more materials and tools. That’s how the Pennsic market started!
And yet, some people actually think the merchants are “only in it for the money”. Hence my contest. Sadly, it takes more than a little time to distribute the ballots and collection boxes around the market place, collect them again, and deliver the compliments to the merchants. (We encourage people to let the merchants know what they’re doing right and pass them along. It’s my favorite- and least favorite (because of the walking) part. I think the compliments mean the most. One poor merchant who hadn’t heard of it was confused, she thought I was asking for a donation. People often ask merchants for donations, and she’d had five requests already this year. (People seem to think that before it’s sold, an item has no value!) People seem to think that we make a lot more money than we do! Arwen (who sells marvelous spice blends) won the Award last year, and could have won again, but deferred to Arab Boy. I heard far too many people say “I can’t pick”. But I suppose that’s why this idea needs a sponsor. We didn’t get our first ballot cast in our box until the second week!
I started thinking “I couldn’t sell ice at Pennsic.” This is actually probably true. People pay kids to bring ice out to their campsites, usually they have wagons so they can take 100 lbs at a time (some campsites are a mile from the Cooper’s store where it’s sold). The first day I saw a couple of boys, around 8 and 10 I think, with a cart. One said “This is what we’ll do all war!” the other said “yeah, make money!” and the first responded “and spend it!” and they started talking about what they were going to buy. I also overheard a couple of adults commenting on the ice entrepreneurs “My son made $600 last year- in a week! I don’t make $600 a week!” but would he really want to pull a 100 pound load a mile in 90º+ heat all day long even for about $10 an hour? I doubt it. Still, I wonder about these kids. Technically, anyone under 12 is not allowed out of sight of their parent/guardian. The kids who sell the papers may get a share of the cost, but their parents have to walk their whole route with them. It may be that the staff at the cash registers are not checking to see that every ice seller has a babysitter with him. Anyway, how much would YOU pay to not have to walk a mile to get a block of ice for your cooler? We only have a few feet to walk, so we get our own, but I can see it worth a decent tip to have a kid fetch it for you.
We go to the store before each meal to pick up milk and ice (as needed), and often get fresh hot rolls from the bakery. Other than that my shopping list this year included a pair of turnshoes (I got red, Kat got white), this year’s Lady Tudor Glitz (31 years and still funny) and Claus’ new offering, a new colander from the potter, some furs, a piece of leather, a “year’s supply” of linen, and of course I checked out the bookshop, glassware, and jewelry at Raymond’s Quiet Press.
This year Raymond asked me to contribute to his new website. He wants short (60 second) informational pieces about his brooches at such, and his man shot several midweek. We’re planning to do a few more at Birka. A 45-60 second snip is easy to make one point, such as “which way up do the brooches go?” Willow was looking for sandalwood perfume, and had to pick between several variations, got cloth and a new knife. She also got a new Kumihumo book, loom and more of those clever bobbins. She Kat got fabric for several cos-plays for the upcoming year because the quality and prices are better at Pennsic than NH stores.
Oh, news! Megan has sold the Guild of Limners after I think 18 years. Now she will just help Claus sell his toys and enjoy classes and other fun stuff. Because of this they’ve finally cut a window looking out into their “courtyard” that Claus has been thinking about for at least ten years for a cross-breeze. Apparently security trumps comfort. This year his funny book was Geriatric Pennsic- which I really related to (and there are certainly plenty of others out there). My favorite was that we used to pick where we camped by how flat it was, how many trees, or where our friends were. Now we look for a short distance to the privy (for those midnight calls of nature)! Oh yes! His leper dolls continue to sell well, and this year Honour was making Greenman dollies as well as her authentic poppets- she had the girls put custom faces on them for her customers. It makes me a bit sad that humor (the lepers) sell better than authenticity.
Most of what we noticed was the Siege Cooking Contest. She doesn’t simply give them foods that are on her personal “safe to eat” list, but also tries to have interesting things like chevon and elk and strange dried fish. There are points for presentation and authenticity and lack of waste (it is supposedly a siege, after all) as well as taste. This year’s winner was a girl who had no stove, so Honour let her cook on hers- and she was so good, yet pathetically insecure. She had a wonderful boyfriend who kept reassuring her that everything was fine, and part of the prize was a stove. The runners up were a group of kids who lost some points because someone in their camp had swiped the jar of olives that they were supposed to use. (Honour cut them some slack on that.) We’d like to think it was a simple mistake. They won our old round table. We bought a new one from the basket man this year and didn’t need it any more- it had seemed a good idea- lovely thick round table, with detachable legs for packing, but it always wobbled too much. I feel a bit guilty, but maybe they’ll figure out a better way to make it stable.
This year as Honour was getting foods ready, her hand, which she’d whacked a week before suddenly hurt really badly, and it turned out she had broken it without realizing. She was sent off to the hospital and we feared she’d be gone for days, but no. The VA told her to simply “don’t move it for two weeks”, and they didn’t even put on a cast- which would certainly have helped in that regard! Luckily Honour’s nephew and his wife had come to help her and really were helpful. Gratia got Alizaundre’s booth mostly painted and it looks so much better! Typically, for Honour’s luck, chaos had erupted at home as well, (which may explain why she ignored her aching hand), she had a home inspection where the man told her “you have too much stuff”, so her Quaker friends helped her empty almost everything into the RV, some of which wasn’t supposed to go, and some of what was supposed to come (like her tent poles) didn’t make it. Chaos is her lot in life, it seems. She certainly deals with it with better grace than I could. She did many classes, including Waste Free Garment Cutting and Care and Feeding of your Sewing Machine. I caught a bit of that one, and am amazed at what a magnificent teacher she is- so clear and patient. I always worry that I’m going too fast and not finishing the points I’m trying to make. She also filled in for one of my RunValdr classes I’d forgotten about when we went on a town run!
Medieval Miscellania is also for sale (Corinne’s place, down the street- she sells a bit of everything, plus making and renting pavilions). We’re all getting older and it’s not as easy as it used to be… to lift and carry and organize what seemed do-able 20 years ago. Thank goodness for all the young people who we hope will be ready to take over- although they may not be eager to take on our stores, but will probably have new ideas of their own. Although Megan has passed on hers.
I was fairly “accident prone” myself this Pennsic. I burned my hand on the bale of the cauldron while I was washing the dishes the first day, and had to keep ice on it for the next several hours (which meant finishing washing up one handed). It’s really frustrating to wash all the dishes to put away clean while packing up, and still have to wash them all again when you take them out- but the mustiness of 50 weeks of storage (and possible passage of tiny mice feet) makes it seem appropriate. While oiling the desk I got a splinter that must have hit a nerve or something- it was really uncomfortable, and neither Kat nor I could get it out, but when Willow got back from a town run, she cut it down and got it out. Then on Thursday I thought I’d switch from my open toed shoes to my turn shoes, since I was going to be walking all over, and tiny stones can get in the open toes. But I’d left the shoes by the bed, and walking over to put them on, caught my little toe on the box with the “garden” in it. Since it didn’t stop hurting after a day, I’m thinking I probably broke it. But since the treatment for a broken toe is generally to wear sturdy shoes or tape it to the next toe, there’s no point in doing more. During breakdown I felt like I was not holding up my end of the workload, not being able to walk or lift heavy objects, so the girls had to do all that, but guilt is a pretty useless commodity.
What was different this year? The weather was dry- that’s really rare. The numbers were low- Speculation says that some people stayed home when they heard their traditional camping areas weren’t going to be available. They seem to have a new water system. There was hot water all the time. It surprised me several times. I automatically turned on only the hot, and it came out REALLY hot! All these years they’ve never had hot water except in the middle of the night; if there was hot water when I washed my hands on a “wee hours” privy run, I’d grab my towel and go down to shower. This year, not only was there hot water during the day, there were also no lines- I could go right in, even at 7 am. There was something about six cars for each group getting in early- but since we go to the merchant area, that had nothing to do with us. Also they moved the picnic tables out of the middle of the road in the Food Court- they were on one side, so people on scooters or with wagons could actually fit on the paved part of the road. It’s not a big thing, but I liked it. The Town Criers were not in evidence. I’m not sure if they didn’t get enough volunteers, but I only ever heard one- and that at a distance. I miss them. Also, they used to have sandwich boards where people could post announcements, and they eliminated the general use ones (“party boards”), and only have “official” boards. There were a lot of rules about those- for example, any posters on them were supposed to be “landscape” not “portrait” orientation, although they didn’t seem to be when I looked. Nothing with a merchants name could be posted- so I couldn’t post the locations where people could vote in the Merchant Appreciation contest. Frankly, other than the “official” announcments: wash your hands, park your cars, remember your medallions, etc. which I don’t think we really need, the only other thing on the boards were flyers for performances (commedia dell’arte shows, “Who’s line doth it be?”, Merchant of Venice). What needs to be on the boards the daily schedule, especially with any changes or up-dates. I am sure I could make those changes if I was willing to go do the work. That’s the thing, it takes a LOT of work to run an event this size. I think there was a point for volunteering this year, although I don’t know if that’s new, and one for the arts. Combat contests have more points, but it IS a war.
It was so hot we were going through a gallon of water a day each plus tea, gatorade and limeade. The heat wasn’t as bad as some years, but it was in the 90ºs for most of Peace Week, and 80ºs for most of War Week. I’m not sure why, but for the first time in my life my ankles swelled, and I didn’t like it. (The computer informs me to prevent it in the future, I should stay out of the heat, not sit or stand for long, and not be old or fat. Thanks!)
While the girls ran the shop, between my projects, I made breakfasts, cold lunches, and dinners. Each of us kept a full pitcher and cup beside us. It was easier the second week, because my classes the first week were at 9 am, and I had to rush off to the Pennsic University. The second week the classes were at 5 and 6 and right there. Since we’ve gotten home I’ve continued to put together cold plates of cheese, fruit, crudites and meat, although here they eat by there computers not their stations. Willow spent a great deal of time making lovely necklaces, as well as giving out her doll and bear medallions. This year the Doll Meet was the last Thursday, and the kids Doll Meet was the last Friday- both at 9 am. There should be NOTHING 9 am after Midnight Madness! Also, Willow points out that she doesn’t have to deal with children “I have a note.”. This (and I think, exhaustion) was why she didn’t work at Lost and Found this year- the lady running it this year had an infant- generally in a sling (when I went by to check for my license). The lady who ran it last year died. Last year she’d been eagerly anticipating knee surgery so she’d be able to dance and be more active again, but had complications and died. We heard this from the previous Lost and Found officer who did NOT take it back this year- but suggested that Willow might be interested in doing it next year. I think that depends a lot on how much energy she has next spring.
Right now she’s busy stitching her fleece blankets because she sold two while at the war, and another when we got home.
Another thing I did this year was haul my old bones all the way out to the Battlefield where they had the Order Meetings on Sunday. It’s a duty when you are in an order, and I tend to miss them because I don’t know when they’re scheduled. I checked at information point, but while they have all the booklets, as they say- “we only know what they tell us”, which is apparently sporadic. No one told them when the EK order meetings were. Or where- in the past they’ve been at the East Kingdom Royal Encampment. This year, they were in the tent on the Battlefield. When I got there, there was a court- running late. Someone was being knighted. When they cheered at the end it seems he was one of three, and another was sent off on vigil. I actually had a nice chat with the Queen and she is VERY committed to giving awards to those who’ve earned them (as I mentioned when I wrote about the 7 courts at Great Northeastern War).
In the end, since the court pushed the order meetings up, I stayed for the Maunche and Laurel meetings, but left before the Silver Crescent order meeting. I was meeting the girls in the Food Court because Sunday evening is our knight out at the theatre. Scheduling is hard with so many things going on at once. The booklets have different schedules for Courts, for Battles, for Classes, for Performances, etc. I think we need a universal schedule, although I fear that is not really workable because there’s so much going on. I expect they don’t do it because you couldn’t fit it on a page. You might be able to put it on a computer, but then people would probably be looking at it on their smart phones, and I’m not sure that would work well because of the size. Still, I think we need to figure out some way to be able to figure out what is happening when without checking a half dozen different schedules. And they should really get the information to information point and the paper! In theory, the final court- I really like that one because they do the “Pennsic Countdown”. Everyone stands and stays standing as they count backwards “Pennsic 44, 43, 42…” so when they get down to “Pennsic 6, 5, 4,…” there aren’t that many people left. I get a kick out of being one of them. I also like having Kat there since she’s been to 28 (and doesn’t look old enough to have done). Sadly- that one was scheduled for 4 pm, and when Megan and I headed out to go there, we discovered that it was all over, and we’d missed it. Poot! I also spaced the Arts Exhibition, which was that afternoon. I’m not even sure what category that would be. It was probably in the paper if I’d done more than glance at it.
But Sunday night we like to go out to the Performing Arts Tent (and traditionally eat at the food court beforehand). We saw Moonwolf, followed by Effenwolf, followed by I Sabasiani. Moonwolf sang the favorite Ballad of Pennsic 4. He asked at the beginning how many people were there who’d been at Pennsic 4 and I only saw me and one other (where was Megan?). At the end of the song, when he mentions trading $50 for a pair of dry socks, people threw socks up on stage. “When did this turn into the “Moonwolf Horror Picture Show?” he asked. Effenwolf sang our favorites, and some new songs from his new album (which we ran out and bought the next day): Raised by Nerds. The high point of the Commedia dell’Arte was that Zed Fable (Kiaya’s husband) was in it- as Pantalone. We didn’t notice until he’d taken off his mask at the end.
One of the biggest things at Pennsic is seeing old friends. Morgan Kuberry and Alex were there this year. His wife sent him without her and the baby, and I fear he looked rather like he was missing them. Marieke came by and gave me a book Wake in psudo-Old English. I’m looking forward to it, but my brain is too fuzzy to deal with it just now. (I find it a bit confusing, by the Norman Conquest, I should think they’d be about halfway to Middle English. I’ll let you know more when I’ve read it.) I saw Maria and Charlie- no Robert this year, he’s getting married. Gavin and his lady came by- they’ve had an adventure this year! Last winter a pipe broke in their house flooding it, and they have only just now gotten back in, the repairs were so extensive. He said it’s been much like camping at Pennsic in their temporary housing (and of course, there’s still more dealing with insurance company to do). I saw Ewan at his shop and while waiting in line to get in. Suliman and Gisalla I only saw on the fly as they were really busy- she got plugged into the spot of a merchant who didn’t make it this year. We hope that this is the next step to getting her a permanent spot at Pennsic. Wolfram came by- he’s worried about a friend in an abusive relationship, and that’s so hard. You can’t force someone to escape, and sometimes you just have to watch them suffer, and that’s always hard. I got some spherical glass bottles from him because they weren’t hand blown and I won’t be terrified to use them. (Willow got some leather scrap and made them carrying nets.) Lyon came by and told me he’d seen a rabbit come right up to him when he was talking about Ælfwine, so we have to wonder if that was a sign. I saw Ki-lin, who told us that Baron Cooper is in hospice now; a bit later I heard that he and his lady did come to visit for one day, although he was in a wheelchair. As much as we may gripe about things we’d like to work better, the Coopers (and Wilbers) provided a wonderful place for us to play our game and their generosity has made Pennsic possible. While all events are special, having streets that we come back to year after year makes Pennsic more a real town than we get at most SCA events. There were other people as well, but sadly, I forget their names, although I enjoyed the conversations. Of course mostly we talked with the other nearby merchants- the ladies from the Dancing Pig, Kat and Elena from Hobbitronics, Galen from Hobbitronics and Galen from the Game Gnight, Honour, Claus and Megan. We met new people too- there were some brand new Anglo-Saxons from Stonemarche I’m looking forward to meeting again, although I don’t know their names yet, a father/son pair Alfgar and something Germanic. There was a strange fellow who came by dowsing with his spatula- Grill Ninja he called himself. Brian fought for me in the Lady of the Rose fencing tourney (which he can’t in the LotR Tournament because you can’t have people in your household).
On Friday night we had our traditional Corned Beef Dinner with Cabochons, Maison Rive and Hobbitronics. An added bit of excitement was added this year because at about 7:30, right after the selling closed, all the power and water went off in the camp. (OK, the store had a generator to keep their lights and more importantly, refrigeration, going.) But rumor has it that something hit something out on I-79, and a whole substation blew. Luckily for us, Honour had some lamps- I’d never gotten around to putting up the oil lamps this year and didn’t want to get into all the clean-up for just a couple of days. So we ate and went to bed- which was probably good for us anyway. The power was back by morning, so it was all good.
(I’m embarrassed that I totally forgot my camera until we were packing out. Sorry.)
On one of the town runs (to Staples) I did by myself I stopped at Stonemarche encampment on the way home and spent a comfortable couple of hours chatting with Deirdre and Jocelyn and other Stonemartians around the campfire. (I borrowed someone’s chair. Frankly, it’s the getting up and down from the ground that really bugs me about court in the battlefield tent. I am reminded that standing courts are more authentic, and one of the things that Ælfwine and I tried to institute, but there are a LOT of us these days old enough that sitting down is a better option, and a court with no seating seems wrong. I stand (or sit) corrected. That was if not the full moon, close to it, and walking home was beautiful. I passed lighted pavilions with people laughing and chatting inside, campfires, as I went through the market a couple of the shops were open, but the people inside were gaming or socializing. The “pirate ship” was lighted up beautifully. It’s worth intentionally taking a late night walk just to soak it all in.
The printing guy at Staples (Nathaniel) recognizes us at this point. I made a mistake on the order- I checked to see that all the different things I’d printed from the flash drive were there, but not that they’d printed as I wanted. I know better than that! Having checked and OK’d them, I didn’t think I should go back and complain when the formatting screwed up some of the handouts (the big problem was that it made four of them have an extra page with only one line on it- at 11¢ a page, it adds up). I hope that having done that AGAIN, next time I’ll remember to brink a hard copy to copy.
Actually, we are toying with the idea of going to the 50th Year Celebration. It’s a very long drive (nearly a thousand miles), in late June, so we’d be getting back just in time for GNEW and Pennsic and have no prep time. IF I got all my class handouts done during the winter/spring, and IF we had no new garb to make, and went to the Dragon’s Horde and Blake’s in June instead of July, we might be able to manage it. It’s another thing we are thinking about. I am not sure if the 50Y has classes, but if there are, I’d probably want to get in no them. The Merchant Coordinator dropped a flyer off at the booth, so we’re pondering it.
It always seems that we only get really settled in after about a week, and the second week is interrupted with Midnight Madness, and now is cut off on Friday, so I tend to feel that there should be more days. Friday (after presenting the Merchant of the Year Award to Arab Boy) I was feeling that way as we did our final shopping run- getting the rattan for next year’s Golden Sword, and 10 dozen socks from the Basket Man. Then I went over and ordered this year’s arial photograph and got an SCA sticker for the new car, and suddenly- and surprisingly- I felt done. I was satisfied. I’d gotten the things I’d wanted to get, done the things I wanted to do, and was ready to go home. I’m not sure that’s happened before, and I treasured it.
I didn’t send any post-cards this year, although Willow did a bunch of them. Mostly that’s because my address book continues to be depleted. I really don’t have many physical addresses since the computer crash more than a year ago. But what would I say anyway: “It’s really hot, but we’re having fun. Such and such a battle (I didn’t watch) happened today.”? They only had three new postcards this year, and frankly, I want ones that show more than battles or a sea of tents. Show me landmarks: Gates, Troll, Lost and Found, Chiurgeons, Security, Pennmark, Food court, the Performing Arts Tent, the Cathedral, the Bluefeather (or other) balls, Horde Hill, Casa Barducci, Opening Court, the Fools Parade, maybe something from the Thrown Weapons, Archers or Fencing battles. I would LOVE to see a parade of all the people who’ve fancied up their scooters, or of the wagons people pull their children in- some of those are amazing! I”m sure that the crowd scenes are so people can circle “that’s where I was”, but I find them boring. Heck, I’d rather see Thaddeus’ fountain (which has live goldfish), and Tristram’s little dolls occasionally dabbled in it. There are so many cooler things at Pennsic than battles! (In my never humble opinion- and I DO like the battles.)
I tried to call John every day, and he told me about the little that happened here. Mark took him out to lunch one day, and three of the chickens got out. He found the partially eaten body of one, but we just heard another outside- he saw it but it was too quick to catch. We hope it will want to come back to roost in the familiar place. He also told us that they’d just repaved Pinnacle Road and there was a bump now- then yesterday they came by with some gravel and smoothed it down for us. I was thinking we’d have to do that ourselves.
He also warned that a some of the chickens had escaped, and he’d found a dead one. Last night I could hear one of the escapees clucking around the front of the house- but John couldn’t catch it, and I’m even slower just now. So I have hopes we shall be able to recapture her.
Since we got in, we’ve spent a lot of time on the computers- catching up with many friends. Lyrion had a heart attack scare, but after a lot of tests (she said she feels like a pin cushion), she’s OK, Debby Ellis tells us her cancer scare is looking like it’s mostly a thing of the past-a very successful treatment, yay! Wally is doing better after his heart attack and getting his arteries reamed out (or is it veins?). He looked at the wet spot in the back hall and thought of something none of us had- there’s a broken pipe under the floor that’s squirting water UP at it. So today Richard, our plumber, came to fix it. (It was actually quite mysterious- he has no idea where the water’s coming from since he already turned off the pipes to the studio- which should be the only ones on that side. He turned them off more, and I’ll let him know if it keeps getting wet. I wanted to go downstairs to remove the cobwebs and anything that would be in the pathway to where he needed to work, but this is probably the worst day of the cold (Kat’s beginning to feel better) and I am dubious about the stairs. I hope it’s not awful. On the car front, Robert (our mechanic) is has said that the old van is no longer going to make any long trips, but he needs one for around the yard and would like to buy it from us, so that’s nice. Willow’s car needs repairs before it can be inspected, so she’ll probably take the Caravan up to Maine next week. Oh, and I mentioned having problems with the computer last week- yes, it did turn out to be the modem. And I lost two pounds over the war. Better than gaining I suppose.
And so back to bed. I expect to feel fine in a couple of days.
So- what have you been up to?