Ok- I didn’t get the letter out Wednesday. Oops. The camera connection is still not working. I have no idea why not. I was able to grab the pictures Willow took with her phone and the one I took with the computer. I really wish I could figure it out. I hate not knowing why possibly more than not being able to do a thing.
We had a dusting of snow today, not much. John did shovel the driveway. Willow had dropped her car at Winkles because the power steering went away, and we went over there and traded cars. Mine was due for an inspection- it needed one hole patched. The hopeful news is that Steve thinks it should last another couple of years (with work). It’s the final years, the “end of life care” that are most expensive. Luckily with a car, there isn’t so much emotional resistance to putting it out of its misery. After the trade off the girls took the Birka garb that had been loaned out over to the Laundromat. It’s easier to do multiple loads a once.
I think Willow is exhausted and coming down with a cold (this is not unusual after sharing air with over a thousand other people in an enclosed space!) . Getting ready for and recovering from Birka was pretty much what we did this last week. Last Wednesday Willow got some white 90 inch wide cloth. We’d found some at the Manchester Jo Ann’s after the pre-Birka Curia, but only three colors. So she tried on-line and couldn’t find it, then at the store we usually go to. Since they at least had white, she got some of that and dyed it saffron. The old tablecloths had gotten very disreputable over the years, and our thought is that we can tell people “look on the red (or blue or gold) table” to help them find something. On the other hand, we usually just take them there, but still they look good. We are planning to block print them next. Thursday Willow hemmed the selvage ends, but when we got there it turned out 90″ was a bit too wide. Also the three yard lengths, when pre-washed, shrunk to about eight feet four inches- and the Birka tables were 8 feet long. Willow switched one of them out so that there was a way for us to get into the hollow square of tables. The fire marshal has gotten very picky about people not pushing the tables so that the paths between them are narrowed, and the “plan” leaves no exits. They used to plan for a space to get inside, Two spaces on either side of the square, but now SO MANY people want to sell at Birka they cram us as tight as possible. I’m not sure what other squares did. Ekke and Julia were across from us, and we shared our square with some very decorative young “vikings” and potters I’d bought a tea pot from at Arisa once.
Willow has been making Kumihumo cords for the royals. I think they wanted 12 each of whatever you donated. (I think it’s sort of a display of conspicuous consumption, each royalty gives a bunch of gifts to the others, and what they give shows off what their kingdom can do.) When she’d done that she then made the bead necklaces that she sells for $10, and gave a dozen of those to the lady collecting them for the gift baskets, although she had to finish making the last of them at the booth Saturday morning. Anyway, getting booty and giving it to the Crown who then passes it out is very Anglo-Saxon! I’m sure they were impressed.
Friday morning we were wondering if we could manage to get it all into the van (not a real VAN anymore). While Kat had gone through the bins she needed another because even though she discards some stuff that’s not quite as good, she gets donations at nearly every event, and needed to add another bin to fit it all in. We left some of our goods behind, andThursday night I sorted through our sock bins and got them down to two. But somehow (we suspect Tetris magic) Willow got all the goods AND the Gold Key (with a mirror and two racks) into the car. (The sock bins were on the roof bag.) We were very impressed.
Sadly, as Kat unpacked, she missed several items she knew were supposed to be there. (like the knockers for the ladies and lords changing areas), and when we got home Saturday night we discovered that we’d not packed the 4 bins we take to normal events. Birka has over a thousand people, so a LOT of loaner garb is needed, even though the SCAers wear their own. We never know what size, or style the new members / visitors will be. There’s nothing like having garb that makes you feel beautiful or dashing to make the SCA appeal to a potential member! I got to watch Kat in action, and she was wonderful! She helped people find garb they liked and looked good in, and the ones I watched left with big smiles on their faces!
Gold Key could set up at noon, and at 3 merchants were allowed to start setting up. We discovered that our new wide table cloths were a bit too wide, so had to trim them (and will have to re-hem them.) We got set up, and then went off to the pub in the hotel for supper. Selling started at 7 (and Gold Key opened). Sadly, because many of the merchants are still loading in, the decision has been made that garb is optional, so there are a lot of people in non-garb around on Saturdays 7-10 pm. Others wear “party garb” (one fellow was walking around in a kimono and Elizebethan ruff and what looked like the prince’s coronet, which terrified me). But we made it through somehow, left at 10, and located the missing GK bins as soon as we got home.
I did my shopping Friday, so we could take it home. I needed a new bone spoon, and so did Willow (after a few years they get brittle and break), and we always get honey at Birka. I got a couple gallon pails- one summer and one fall batch. We brought a flat of water to counter the way hotels dehydrate you, but when I went to grab my cup, it was broken, so I bought another- this one says BIRKA on it in Runes. Jane had requested a “Pink Pussy Hat”, and I was knitting one on the way up, but when we were set up and I checked my bag, the needle the knitting wasn’t on was missing. So I went over to the woodworker (he sells wooden knives, as well as cutting boards, wands, staffs, clocks etc. Yes, they cut- he keeps carrots and celery there to prove it!) and got new knitting needles, and Willow went out to get a few things we’d needed- including some fluffier pink yarn, which worked up very quickly, and I was able to hand over the hat to Lydia (Jane wasn’t able to make it, so Lydia was selling Auntie Arwen’s Spices.)
In the morning we were out at 8 and Willow was selling, and Kat was dressing people by 9. I went to a meeting of the Herbalist and Apothecary’s guild. That was fun. Then at 11 New Members point had a tour of Birka to show them everything- the fighting, the fencing, the merchants, “Birkastan” (the belly dancer’s room), where court would be…. Since the Chatelaine was going to answer questions, I sat at the table while she was gone. I was a bit worried, I may know SCA HISTORY, but what do I know about the current SCA? Mostly people wanted to know where the free costumes were loaned out (and I got to see how good Kat is at her job.) Sadly, her deputy didn’t show up, so she didn’t even get a lunch break. In theory, they say that the Heralds point and Gold Key close during court- but while the heralds will be at court, people want to borrow and turn in garb all day long without a break, so that doesn’t really work. The staff had box lunches- Kat got one, and there was an extra, that they gave me because of helping with Information Point, and I shared it with Willow which was really helpful for getting us to 10 pm.
At 2 (I think) there was a meeting where the Crown Prince and Princess explained new Silver Awards to the Peers. This was really good because I’d never heard of them, and didn’t understand them. The simple explanation is that the higher awards, grants and patents of arms, are each split into different polling orders: Laurel, Knight, Pel., etc., and Maunche, Crescent, etc., but below that used to be the Award of Arms, which was the first thing you got once you’d proven yourself to be an asset to the SCA/Kingdom. They’ve simply decided to put specific awards onto that level. The best part- in my view, is that if it takes (as it often does these days) fifteen or twenty years to get your Kingdom level award (Tyger’s Combattant, Golden Rapier, Sagittarius, or whatever), and you get your AoA in 3-5 years, you could earn the arts award, and the service award, and the fighting award sequentially, so that people who are contributing can get thanked for their work and talent without a decade or more wait until they earn entry to a “hot shit” Polling Order. Anyway, a bit later I ran into Brian and he’d been given the Silver Wheel. I’d have had no idea what that was, except for the meeting. They are called Silver Brooch (arts), Silver Wheel (service), Silver Tyger (martial arts), Silver Rapier, and Apollo’s Arrow. I’m grateful for the Prince and Princess explaining it. They also made a big point of feeling that everyone should get awards when they earned them, even if it means “Meow, meow, meow, three hour courts”. This is a phrase that I heard several times for several people; I think it means that everyone whines about the three hour courts, to the point that the whines all run together. But I’m with him, if they are earned, they should be awarded! Someone asked him if possibly Barons might be asked to help with the Silver Awards and he said that they hadn’t “taken that off the table”. We’ve been trying to get that happening since the 80s, so I hope that these Royals manage! (Maybe get it down to 2.5 hour courts!) And maybe people who’ve busted their butts, been officers, and solid parts of the SCA won’t wait 10 years like Brian (or 28 like Alizaunde) to get their AoA!
The thing I will probably remember from this Birka is talking to friends. One lady who I KNEW I knew, but couldn’t remember her name came and sat down with me at Information Point and after about 10 minutes I admitted I couldn’t remember who she was. It was Ianthe in Katherine Goodwyn’s Yorkist gown. I still think of her as the 20 year old I met her as. (Heck, I think of Goody as the golden lady I first met. Funny how your mind does that to you. Luckily it amused her. So I got to see lots of old friends, and new ones- Rachel brought her twins she had this summer. Daffyd was at Heralds point- he’s fighting cancer- so far successfully. (And on a sad note, Argus, who I did not know well, but knew like you knew people you “saw around” and he was a young man- thirties or forties- died day before yesterday suddenly. The whole barony is reeling from that.) A lot of the people we know best are merchants now, maybe that’s what happens when you know how to make more cool stuff than you can use, and want to sit down for most of the event. Personally, I’d prefer a chance to actually sit down and talk to someone for an hour or more, not just “how are you doing?” in passing. But it’s like weddings and funerals, not much of a good time to socialize.
We got to talk to Avi, and she brought Sue and the kids. Trevor came too, with his new girlfriend, and the kids went off with them a few times. I’m a bit cross with him because even having been warned by Avi that Bianca and Kalin are NOT like he and Tom were, and aren’t ready for swords, he got them some anyway, then didn’t feed them. It is hard to remember that your kids are not “mini-me”s, but still, he’d been told. Kaylin got a Jacobs ladder and the merchant taught him to do tricks with it I’d never seen before! It’s always cool to see something new when you’re in your sixties.
Everyone kept telling me how good I looked, and I am beginning to see a bit of movement in the right side of my face. I may not be actually SMILING, but there’s a bit of dimpling there. (You can see the Gold Key bins behind me- Kat has to sort in the newly washed bits, and create her best pick for the one bin each for men, women, and children for more sane sized events.) I also put on my new hat. The honey, spoons, saffron, and new hat were what I went to Birka looking for. I had planned on another one with black fur, but while I was trying them on, the black made my complexion look washed out, and the white made my hair look drab, then the lady who makes them offered this one in aqua, and it really brought out the color in my eyes, and made my skin look pink and healthy, so I’m good! I will definitely be keeping a closer eye on this one!
I also picked up some white rabbit furs for Kat, who was stuck in Gold Key, so she can make herself a fur hat that will match her fur trimmed coat. I also got more black rabbit furs to extend the trimming on my coat. Willow wore her wool coat for the first time. I don’t know if she’ll ever put the green fur on it that I got her- since it already leaked onto the fabric before it was even made. But better there than on an innocent piece of fabric (unless it’s a matching green).
There were three courts (in a desperate attempt to keep up with acknowledging all the stuff people do), and that rather depleted the vending area around 5. Technically we were cautioned not to start breaking down until 7, (although some started pre-packing), and were told to start at 8 and be out by 10. No problem- EXCEPT that of 7 luggage carts, 5 were missing! One assumes someone had brought them up to their rooms to make sure that they’d have them. (WHY? When if you’re in the hotel, you’re staying overnight, and won’t need them until morning. We’d left our dolly behind to save space, so Fia, the autocrat, made a list and sent a helper around with each of the two remaining carts helping merchants pack out as quickly as possible. Somewhere the cloth bag we’d made to hold the clothing rack for Gold Key disappeared. Who knows where? We wrapped it in trash bags and tape, and will have to make another.
With the four extra bins, Willow asked Avi to take 3 home for us, and gave away one we’d brought by mistake with spools of thread for weaving. Four in, four out. But it didn’t work. After packing this time, there were 3 bins that just wouldn’t fit in. Who knows why? It was so frustrating. Finally Fia asked Kris Spinster if she could take the last of the bins home in her truck, and she said yes. So we got out. Tired and aching and hungry. Willow described the Expo center as Hellish, and I have to agree. The concrete floor makes my feet hurt- even with the padding we put by our tables. My back hurt, the echoey noise means everyone has to yell over everyone else to do business, resulting in sore throats and headaches. As the week has progressed, Willow and I have both started coughing. This is hardly surprising when you are sealed in a room with over a thousand strangers. Sigh.
We went to Applebees on the way home, Brynna and the folks from White Wolf and Phoenix were there. We got home just after midnight and I went straight to bed without even posting the holidays, and slept through until eleven. The next day I also slept over 10 hours, so whether fighting a virus or just exhausted, I was wiped out by this weekend- and so were Willow and Kat.As planned, we did nothing. (OK, I did catch up on the holidays, and John drove me over to Market Basket because the grocery list had gotten too extensive.)
The next day Willow dropped her car off at Winkles (the power steering had gone away), but also had an eye appointment at Costco, so I drove her there. She liked the doctor and we saved enough to cover the membership with that visit alone. Sadly I hadn’t yet eaten breakfast- so tried to fill up on the samples they give away. Then I dropped her off at Avi’s, and came home. Kat had vacuumed where the Christmas tree used to be, so John was able to bring in all the bins.
I was bummed that we hadn’t had Chinese food for Chinese New Year on Saturday, so Monday I made fried rice, sesame chicken, beef with mushroom and broccoli, and Chinese sausage with spinach. I am getting much better at Chinese food with practice. Tuesday the girls had appointments with Dr. Gunning, after which they went to Walmart to get the new meds. I wish they worked better than they do. They may help, but depression and anxiety are still major factors. At least their therapists acknowledge that politics create real stress for people.
February first was a new, just created, holiday called “No Politics Day”. One day for no sharing our fears and anger on social media. I wasn’t going to mention it this week, but since I managed to not get the letter done on Wednesday, it’s Groundhogs Day, and fair game. We saw in the past century that you can’t just ignore people who are being nasty and hope they’ll give up and go away. (Are you listening school administrators? Ignoring bullies doesn’t make them stop, it lets them win!) We have to resist when people are doing things that are WRONG. The so called “Muslim Ban” was poorly conceived, and clearly biased since it includes Muslim countries who didn’t participate in the 9-11 attack, but the ones who did, but with whom Trump has business dealings, are exempt. It’s everything that isn’t great about America, but immediately the Judiciary pointed out that he’d done it wrong, and it wasn’t legal. But the Homeland Security forces are ignoring the Judiciary. The Checks and Balances system is what is supposed to keep our three part government from being dominated by any one of them. But if the Judiciary isn’t respected, we are in trouble. But the thing that bothers me worse than that is that on the White House web page, they CHANGED THE WORDING ON THE BILL OF RIGHTS! They changed People to Citizens. No, you aren’t allowed to just change the words of the Constitution to whatever you want them to be. People are going to go to that website assuming that it’s accurate because it’s the FREAKING GOVERNMENT, and trust it, and it’s wrong! That’s not good. Telling the press to only print what the President likes or be fired is wrong. But worst of all, in my opinion is that when the Democrats started doing to the Republicans what the Republicans had done for the last eight years, they CHANGED the RULES, so that they could vote in the absence of the Democrats and approved the Health and Treasury Secretaries. No, you can’t change the rules just because you don’t like the outcome. Unless, of course, you have a dictator who will support you, and he has a private army that decides which laws they choose to obey. This is getting scary. (Or as Trevor Noah of the Daily Show said “perhaps it’s time to ask my doctor if Abilify is right for me.”) Yup, politics is stressful these days. Can we do anything if one side is willing to follow the rules and the other side isn’t? I’m worried about a massacre at Standing Rock. You can protest and say “that wasn’t legal afterwards, but if they’ve already shot people dead, that isn’t going to help them much. Last week I was just grooving on the fact that at the Women’s march, there were no spelling errors on the signs. Being right isn’t enough. OK, enough politics for now.
So after the therapist, I went to the acupuncturist. It’s taking a while, but I will get better. I am going to be 65 next week. I shouldn’t expect to have the vigor I had when I was 35 (but I do expect it). It’s been a half a year. I’ve watched the Beau lines on my nails grow out- and they are reaching the part that isn’t stuck to the nail bed. If the Lyme disease made Beau lines, you know it was serious. I am wondering if my hair will recover. Hair (in theory) grows six inches a year, so maybe in ten years, the hair that was weakened and fell out will be replaced. I can hope. I’ve thought about it and think that Lyme is a disease, but that the Bells Palsy is an injury do to the disease. I also hope I can heal from that. But I have to get used to being old. That’s really weird. I don’t FEEL old, but intellectually, I know I am. (And sometimes my back and feet feel old.)
So, we are hunkering in. Eating comfort foods, taking vitamins. Mark comes over sometimes and reads to me while I putter around the kitchen.
Good news, Maryalyce has found us a hotel for CTCW: the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa. The sort of bad news is that it’s in the Hudson Valley- four hours away for me (four hours from Boston, four hours from Baltimore). But she’s doing almost all the work, so that’s pretty good! It looks like I won’t be speaking at the Mensa RG this year, and I don’t think I can afford to go to the Dowsers Conference. I’ve looked into IONS, and wow, we really are not charging that much! I just wonder how to get people from these other groups if we don’t go there and talk our event up to them!
What have I been reading this week? I finished Wicked Bugs (really cool!) and started Wicked Plants by the same author. Somehow the plants all seem to leave me with the notion that you really shouldn’t eat, use, handle plants with which you aren’t familiar. Bugs you mostly avoid anyway, so it’s not that big a deal. I read three more Rabbi mysteries: Saturday the Rabbi went Hungry, Sunday the Rabbi Stayed home, Monday the Rabbi took off. The characters are the best part, very human, although many of them are really not very nice. The plots are amazingly complex, and I rather don’t like the way that we aren’t really presented with all the evidence before he explains his line of reasoning. But I do enjoy the idea of thinking about things carefully.
I watched the recent movie Hercules, with the Rock, and liked it very much. They did the usual thing of suggesting that he was simply a very strong man with good friends, not a demigod, but it wasn’t done in the “we’re too smart to believe that primitive stuff” mode, but simply “this makes sense”. I decided to watch the old movie Baby Geniuses because I liked so many of the stars: Kathleen Turner, Christopher Lloyd, Peter MacNicol, Dom DeLuise, and Kaye Ballard. It was on the cutting edge of special effects as they CGI’d the babies mouths to make them appear to be talking. I might have been looking at it because I’ve been listening to Carnival recently. GREAT musical, I don’t know why it never made a movie. I can sing all the songs and this week looked up the occasional lines I have had trouble understanding. For example: the line: “Play on her harpsichord and perpetrate her rape” in A Sword and a Rose and a Cape. I was never able to catch that one. Ballard was in the Broadway versions as Rosalie. The love song “It was always, always you” (during which the male is pushing swords into the box in which the female is sitting and singing) is perhaps one of the most bizarre love songs ever!
OMGoodness! It’s gotten late again.
For goodness sakes, TDS is asking for the password to use my mail account but isn’t taking the one in my book! I will have to fight this out in the morning!
Until next week,
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The Important thing is not to stop questioning. Albert Einstein