(I picked Leathercraft Day from todays holidays because I’d just seen the word Whittawer go by on Grandieloquent Word. Looking back I see that it means a person who makes white leather or harness-maker or saddler who uses it. Cool word.)
The stock are blooming today- pink and white, they smell lovely. I have a picked a vase of them and Queen Anne’s lace, and it is sitting on the table in the midst of things we are still unpacking. I like pretty even when there’s chaos. Having got back from Pennsic, the girls both seem to have gotten a cold- you know, the way people do when a great stress has just happened (and I seem to be getting the first symptoms- so I didn’t bother finishing the letter Wednesday, napped in the afternoon, and went to bed early to finish Thursday. It seems to be working.) Thus we are getting re-organized more slowly than usual. We have the plants and the cooler unpacked, and the laundry done, but the trailer still needs to be gone through. There was a great deal of rain and humidity and I want to make sure that everything (like our tablecloths and garb) is totally dry if it’s in deep storage.
As I write I am just back from going to the Doctor and getting a steroid shot in my foot. I only wish I’d done it before we went. Not being able to walk easily around Pennsic makes it hard to participate fully. Let’s hope it works as well as last time! (15 years ago) As an odd side note, it comes with Novocain, and my teeth started tingling- I guess they recognized the medication going into my body and got worried. I keep telling them it’s in my foot, cutting the swelling in my plantar facia. When the novocain wears off, I expect that reaction will go away.) My body is weird.
The last letter was July 25th, so it’s been a while since I wrote. July 26th was our wedding anniversary, and we still have the tradition of eating summer fruit and blueberry muffins on the day after, even though Ælfwine isn’t around. The 28th (Saturday) was Willow’s birthday, but we got on the road on Friday, so she opened her presents here, and we pretty much ignored her actual birthday. She got some new patches for her coat, a new bra, some e-books and Kat got her a iridescent makeup that made her squeal, so that was good. We kept trying to organize a gathering at the war, but we couldn’t get people together at the same time.
I had hoped to get the booklets for my classes done early this year, but having taken on WAAAY too big a subject with the Witchcraft trials, I realized mid-day Thursday that I wasn’t going to be able to finish it, and gave up on it. It’s THIIIS close, but not done. (I didn’t totally give up- I took a lap-top to try to finish it there, but while there didn’t even get it out.)
This year, Michael Short, who’d towed the trailer/ stall/ booth/ building down to Coopers lake for us lo- these many years ago, caravanned with us this year. I rode with him as a relief driver, and we followed the girls and our trailer. Since neither Michael nor I are good with driving after dark, the plan was to leave at 8 am and get there around 8 pm. The theoretical time for the trip is 9 hours, but we’ve discovered that we need to add 20 minutes to each hour when we’re pulling the trailer, so 12 hours (plus rest stops). Sadly, we got off late, and didn’t get to the hotel (in Grove City, just north of Pennsic) until after midnight. Luckily Jersey barriers do block most of the headlights.
You may have no idea what a huge deal it was for Michael to have brought it down for us. At the time it seemed just a question of weight, the car we had at the time probably couldn’t have handled it. Lugh made it, and channeling his inner Ælfwine did the whole thing with post and beam construction, solid wood, square nails, etc. The roofs- top and side were done with clapboards, which we hoped would shed the rain. Sadly, the angle is almost flat, so it didn’t, and we have since changed it to a fiberglass roof that looks like “tile”. Let’s just say we made some mistakes. In adapting our original plan to what was legal to take on the road, it was reduced from 10 feet wide to 8 feet, and that changed the proportions a lot.
Michael offered to tow it behind his truck. As you can see there are awnings or “porch roofs” that are hinged to the side. When we’re there, we push them up and support them on 2x4s. At the time we were going for everything authentic. For the trip Lugh rigged it up with a bumper with lights, and we had a trailer license. He tied a huge tarp over it and tied the side flaps down. Allow me to say that I didn’t hear about any of this until years later when Ruadh was telling the story at Harpers! Michael didn’t mention any of it to us, except to say that he was sorry he’d lost the tarp and some of the shingles had come off. Oh my. The story takes a half hour at least to tell well, and yes, it included losing the tarp. And the ropes that held the side roofs down. At some point they began to flap like wings. At another point Michael smelled smoke- the tarp or the rope that held it on had wrapped around the axil- they had to cut it off with a knife. The friction was setting the floor on fire. And the wind was blowing roof clapboards off as they drove. We’re lucky it didn’t cause accidents. There was more, but I don’t want to ruin the story in case you ever get a chance to hear it. Suffice it to say that the only thing Michael said to us afterward was that the weight hadn’t changed the gas milage as much as he’d anticipated, and he returned $20 that he said we’d overpaid. What a gentleman! You can imagine how shocked I was to discover what had really happened on the way down!
So when he was looking for a relief driver for this trip, we jumped at the opportunity to do something to partially pay him back for what he’d done for us! Also, he’s just a nice guy, talking to him for twelve hours was hardly a hardship. Frankly, he’s a good listener and I think I talked most of the way.
We’d reserved a room at the Super 8 in Grove City, and when we stopped for supper, Mike called ahead and got the next-to-last room, since he wasn’t going to get to the campground while it was still light. The rollaway we’d asked for wouldn’t fit in the room, so Willow just grabbed a pillow and a cover and collapsed on the floor, asleep almost as soon as she hit it. (Michael and I had been switching off, but SHE had no relief driver.)
Saturday (Willow’s birthday) we got up a bit later than we’d hoped (having gotten to sleep later), and went the last 10 minutes down the road, and whisked through “Troll” by 11. Oh, heavens! The tags were ORANGE this year! Well, better than the year they were green and got lost in the grass so easily! Michal went off to set up in handicapped camping (he spends much of the war volunteering at the handicapped point), and we went to discover how our building had come through the winter. Once again they’d placed it 12 feet back from the road. I have no idea why- we keep telling them not to, and they keep doing it. I think being set back contributes to people not seeing us as the tents on either side are right at the edge of the road, and it reduces the area in back- there was only about 8 feet between Honour’s tongue and ours- I have no idea how the tractors manage it.
Everyone was setting up at the same time, so trying to find room to put cars and trailers when there is no room when everything is up is a challenge! I think it’s because it’s hard to find a spot to unpack from that everyone tries to get in early, so we all are there at the same time.
We are now used to the routine, and we got the booth up on it’s jacks and the wooden porch supports out, everything out of the booth, and scrubbed it down. This year raccoons had gotten into our house (and Claus’ and who knows how many others of the stored ones) which meant a lot more chaos within. (They CHEWED up some of Claus’ wooden toys!) We got the trailer empty, the kitchen set up, dropped the trailer at trailer parking, and went into town for food. We get bread, cheese, produce and some meat. This year we saw a bunch of pink roses at the florist area- reduced to one dollar. We figured they might not last long, but for only a dollar how could we lose? They lasted the whole two weeks!
The next day we finished getting set up. We washed all the dishes, because you do. The mice like to nest in the padding we put around them. At least this year there were none still in the nests. [After the jacks and porches, set up consists of: Willow attaching the steps, putting up the cloth sections of the roofs, attaching the electricity, hooking a hose to the water supply and set up the washing area (we use a plastic table for that), take the papers to the Merchant office and get tags for the electric and our car (merchants are allowed to come back on site more easily), set the stove up with propane, set up the kitchen shelves, make the beds, put up the trestle tables, drop the herbals Willow made at Auntie Arwen’s, and make the town run. The washcloths and towels we use to pad the dishes also require a laundry because of mice and 50 weeks of storage, but we don’t get to that the first weekend.] We did another town run Sunday because we had forgotten to stock up on Gatorade, and also classes started Tuesday, and we had classes scheduled at our booth. I was eager to replace the class tent that had collapsed in a storm last year. There was only one pop-up left at Lowe’s and that was nearly $200. I like teaching, and it’s really convenient to teach up behind the booth. I’ve been encouraging other neighboring vendors to teach there too- to make the investment in money and allocated space worth it. This year Alizaunde taught several classes. Kat Stark taught sewing with Saris, and the fellow from the Dancing Pig did a round table on Vardos (gypsy wagons). Also they only let you do eight classes in the University tents, it’s usual to repeat a class once in the first and the second week, and I can do more when I do some up at the booth. This year I’d scheduled Witch Trials, Vampires, Anglo-Saxon Children, Make your Own Runestaves, and RunValdr (to which I added a class on reading runes after the making Runestaves class).
Luckily when I checked about renting one of Katea’s tents at Medieval Miscellanea (they put them up and take them down- sadly it would have been $500 a year), Katea was selling a screen house, and let me have it for $100. Most Pop-ups are 10×10, our last one was 12×12 (which may have contributed to it’s collapse in the storm), and this one said 13×15. Also, it’s hexagonal. I figure the 15 foot measurement is corner to corner, and the 13 foot is from one flat side to another. A lovely thing about it is that the sides are 6 feet long, so we can fit one of our benches along each side, and a table across the back, and seat 12 people with room for more in the center. (Official class tents are usually 20×20 or bigger. It’s a good thing that not as many people come to the classes in “private camps”.) It’s a modern tent and goes up and comes down really easily. I had help getting it up from Leon, one of Ælfwine’s squires who was working for Katea. His daughter, now grown, came by and helped Alizaunde at one point.
One thing that stands out in my memory this year is the ants (one thing we got on our second run was ant-traps). I don’t want to kill something living in it’s own territory, but when it crawls up on my counter, table, bed and body, I want them GONE! Ants who come up into the house at home, I’m perfectly willing to kill. At the war, I’d just like to repel them. We tried sprinkling cinnamon and peppermint around (we had those on hand), I’m not eager to try putting cucumber and lemon peels around, because that would look slovenly, but if it went on, I might be willing. The worst was finding them in my bedding!
Cindy came by on Sunday to tell us we needed to get the trailer fixed again, we asked for specifics but she told us “It’s a bad house.” The guys who tow it don’t like it. I suspect it’s because it’s tall and heavy. When we checked into it at the “War Room” (allow me here to heap praise on John of Three Bears who ran down to check it for me and talked me through how to deal with it.) it needed the jack replaced. Again. This is the third time we’ve had to replace the jack. The guys with the tractors must be dragging it as they tow, which means they aren’t bothering to raise it all the way. If they break it through negligence, I am wroth that we have to keep fixing it. How much damage is it going to take just sitting out during the war, and sitting in the back field all winter? It’s got to be damaged during the transport. But they are indemnified against any damage they do, and I’m severely put out. In all honesty, I put off going to the internet and getting a list of welding places, and calling them until Saturday, but that was OK, because most of them were closed, and we had to schedule someone who could come on the last Saturday, when we could take down the kitchen so the welder could get at the jack. This time it’s a two-ton jack. We’ll see how long this one lasts. I am not convinced that they don’t just hate our “bad house” so much that they drag the jack on purpose. What do they think we can do, take off the wood and change it to plastic? I’m sorry making buckets of money is so hard on them!
But Pennsic is for friends, and that’s why we go. The first we saw was Brenna, who burst into tears as soon as she saw us. A dear friend had died this spring, and she was hoping Willow would paint a shield for the Viking Ship memorial. Every year the people over at White Wolf and Phoenix make a replica Viking ship (I think about 4 feet long) and people can come and paint the arms of those SCA folk who’d died that year to put on the ship. Willow did one for Brenna’s friend, and I did one for Dorio. Dorio is our Baron, and as we were leaving we heard that he’d died suddenly. I understand that his car was already packed for Pennsic. We still don’t know what happened. Cathy Peacock, another barony member died recently, and this morning as I write this today, I got the message that Dan Curtis died, last I’d heard he was recovering from an operation.
Because I don’t go on fb much I missed the memorial for Dorio at the war, but I did get to the one for Kenric, thanks to Steffan who came just to attend it. It was held at the EK tent on the battlefield, and finished with an Royal Court awarding him posthumously companionship in the Order of the Pelican. Apparently Ivan had been ready to give it to him, he’d been polled for and everything, just before he died (in a kayaking accident this spring). I don’t know if it helps, but it feels good for the kingdom to have awarded what was earned. I don’t much care for funerals. I don’t think they do what I feel they were intended to do traditionally- to make a rite of passage, placing the person in the category of Dead. I think we blur the edges too much in the modern culture, and I don’t think that’s good for us. I DO like the Viking Ship burning. I think that helps. People can put on the shields of their dead friends, there’s a procession to the lake, the ship is set on the water and burns while people watch and sing songs in honor of the dead. I haven’t been since Ælfwine and Aonghais, but I’m glad they continue to do it.
Before I go one with what we did this year, let me tell you about our neighborhood. We are on Bow Street, which starts at the bath-house and ends at Midrealm Royal encampment. Tristan Alexander sells art at the Magic Mirror. I often stop and chat with him in the evenings. Willow has known him longer, she used to love to go look at his art when she was little. Across from him, on the oval (the “island” formed by Bow street and the Great Middle Highway), is Medieval Miscellanea run by Ketaea. She makes and rents and sells tents, and lots of other stuff- you can never tell what she’ll have. It seems like every year she injures herself- this year I think she broke two toes by getting tangled in her bedding! But she just pushes forward. Another thing she does is donate crutches and wheelchairs she collects over the year to the Chiurgeons. Next to Tristan is a place I think is actually called Shiny Sharp Pointy Things. We get our knives sharpened there. Then there’s a Bowyer, who is the one who made the footstool I got when my leg got infected one year. That’s where Bow street curves. On the outer corner is Odyssey Coffee House, a gathering place where, sadly for Kat, people do smoke, so she has to either rush past holding her breath, or go around the oval the other way. Coffee addicts love that they can get coffee there, because how many people can make coffee over a campfire? They also sell mocha slushes that are lovely, and we usually have at least one every day, except that this year it was so hot that the machine couldn’t keep the ice granules cold. They described it as “only half an ice-cream headache”, but when you are looking for a full one, a cold mocha milkshake is not what you want. Sometimes they sing at night which is either lovely or annoying depending on what’s on the program.
On the corner on the oval is Circle Works. This is the place I got the curved brass pins that hold my straw hat on even in the wind. For some inexplicable reason, they didn’t sell, and she doesn’t make them any more. Mostly what she sells is beautiful brass hair ornaments- things to hold your hair up, cages to go around buns, etc. They also do hair-braiding, and Kay does massage- that’s what she does at home. I had her work on my foot during the war, but it didn’t do the trick, although there was another man there who said she’d stopped his Plantar Fasciitis, and I think it was helping, but just not enough.
Next to them is the Dancing Pig Pottery. We have a tradition of getting one every year and paying in coin, but didn’t this year. Last year our wooden plates had gotten bad, and we replaced them with ceramic (saving enough of the wooden ones to stack between them in storage), so we can deal with that. They have a yurt out back- as it was going up we saw that the ground cloth was from a plastic Sheetz (gas station) sign. We were all amused. They do tons of business because she has beautiful and clever stuff- this year the mugs saying “she persisted” were popular, as well as ones saying “Tears of my Students” (popular with teachers), and blood of my enemies. They are next to us.
Across the street and running all the way between Odyssey and Yoseph is Arab Boy’s Historical Glassworks. This year they expanded even more, and had not only glass blowing, and stained glass, but the glass bead making classes. They don’t teach the glass-blowing, but they have seats and people can watch as he does it all day, and even reserve pieces he makes (after the day to have the controlled cooling down in a big box). We get to watch him all day, and even at night, and it’s pretty cool.
Beyond him is Yoseph and Alsoune, he sells beads and she sells silk. They have a lovely dining area where every Friday they have Shabbot for some of the Jewish friends. Beyond them is Hobbitronics, which sells incredibly sturdily made garb, and teddy bears who also wear the garb. This was started by Galen waaaay back when, and is now mostly run by Kat, who makes the garb. She’s the one who made the patches for the soothsayers guild. Since we hadn’t paid her yet, she took it in stuff from our shop in the grand old merchant tradition. Her sister Rose is a professional harpist- I think she actually lives on busking which is amazing. Willow always gives her about fifty of the doll tags that she makes to put on the teddy bears. Footes pottery used to be beyond them, but they moved this year, I think mostly because of the expansion of Historic Glassworks. There’s an armor dealer I don’t know on the corner across from Midrealm Royal.
On our other side is Charles (I forget his shop name). This year he had a girl with him who’s father was a wood turner. There were some gorgeous pieces, and Honour got me a couple as gifts. He also sells the gorgeous stuffed dragons and goblin (I think they are more like sculptures than stuffies) made by one of the ladies who works at Circle Works. He seems to sell whatever he finds that people might want to buy. Beyond him is “the Caravan”, a bunch of vendors we don’t know, except as acquaintances. On the other side of the oval, bordered by “low road” although we call it The String (across from the old Barn, where there used to be courts and dancing, and now holds “PennMart”) is Honour’s Maison Rive, which is gradually becoming nicer and nicer. On one side of Honour is the Limner’s Guild- in a tent now, since Megan sold it so she could retire and just enjoy Pennsic, on the other is a new leather merchant, Galen, the game merchant who took over from Sallamallah, wasn’t there this year. Things do change. Beyond them is Claus’ toy shop and usually Megan’s trailer, but that’s a different story. And that’s our little neighborhood. As you see, we mostly know the other merchants, but others come to see us.
Megan’s trailer apparently “needed renovating” this year, and she hired someone local to do the work, but somehow the Coopers wouldn’t let him get at the trailer, so it didn’t get done. (They have a long standing problem with requiring work on the trailers, but not letting us get to them.) Willy loaned Megan his little house, and that’s where she was staying this year, but then people started complaining because her service dog Bella was barking “too much”. Her last dog, Vito died last year and Bella is still quite young and in training. Megan was working with another lady with a disability dog, helping Bella get used to the chaos that is Pennsic, but Bella is still young, still in training, and also still a terrier. She gets excited and jumps up and down and barks. Apparently whoever is in charge of disability dogs thinks that “a service dog never barks”. Someone told me that they had noticed that the reports of bites during War Week (the second week) were always about dogs who’d been reported for barking during Peace Week (the first week), so they decided that any dog reported three times for barking had to be barred from the site I think they could have built in a little more leeway to take training and age into account. Megan’s heart was broken. This is her heart place. Her doctor has written her a prescription for “SCA take as needed” because he’s seen that she’s healthier when she does more SCA. She wasn’t able to get here last year because of health problems, and was so looking forward to just playing her harp and seeing friends. Then they “kicked her dog” (off). She said she was ready to die; frankly it terrified me. This is a woman who has always done what she intended to do, whether buying a narrow boat or crossing the country in a red convertible, and if she didn’t change her mind, I knew we were going to lose her. She is still alive, although she has pneumonia again. (Dennis has warned her that she doesn’t get the free set of steak knives if she has pneumonia in every state…) But she’s getting the IV antibiotics, which means she’s trying to stay alive again. This is a great relief for her many friends and fans. Next year Bella will be older and I’m sure better trained. But a lot of us were very worried, especially after so many other deaths. I suppose part of that is that the SCA population is aging, but still. When you know them, it’s hard not to take it personally.
I could mention the weather- it was brutally hot. It’s been hotter, but this year the humidity was running between 70 and 90% most of the time. When it did rain (there were occasional thunderstorms, and sprinkles that just laid the dust), it was a relief (to me). I’ll admit that when it rains, the customers do scurry off to make sure their tents are closed and not leaking, but it still took some of the moisture out of the air. I mostly slept under only a sheet, and got up to shower at 6, then went back to bed for an hour or two. My hair would still be wet by evening. Even though we have mostly linen garb, sometimes that was too hot, so we picked up some gauze and sewed that into new peplos and wore those for most of the rest of the war. Kat was drinking about a six pack of gatorade plus a six pack of coke plus water each day, I don’t think I was drinking enough. I got sort of stupid in the mid-day heat. (Must remember not to let them schedule me then.)
We learned a new “life hack” this year. Put a foam “pool noodle” between the rafter of a tent and the roof, and it prevents the rain from creating little pockets that fill the roof and need emptying after the storm. Not particularly medieval, but very useful!
Willow had to spray paint her metal doll tags orange this year to make them match the official ones. Luckily Claus had a can of orange spray paint he didn’t want. I think she also put an extra hole in each one, and used a paint pen (trying to inscribe the design into the metal tended to chip the paint off) to put on the number and Athelmark snowflake on them. She didn’t have to make an extra batch this year because they moved the doll meet ups to Peace Week instead of War Week, and she missed the kids meet. When she put Xander’s tag on him, she noticed that this is her tenth year making doll medallions. I mentioned it at the paper and there was a brief write-up about her project. In another article the same day, they wrote about some of the merchants who’d been around longest, and we got mentioned because we can track our selling back to AS 14 (Pennsic 9?).
When she was done with that, she started making me a cushion for me chair. It’s large- made of Burgundy wool, with an appliquéd laurel wreath (also in wool), and all the decorative stitching (and tassels at the corners) are in gold colored wool. She stuffed it with feathers from a leaking featherbed we had in the loft. The cushion is gorgeous. For a couple of days the back yard looked like a chicken had exploded there, but I offered Lucia (Leon’s daughter) five dollars to pick it up for me. After a few minutes she got a bunch of friends and they made short work of the task. At the end the youngest asked if he could keep the feathers. Figuring (and reminding them) that they, of all people, now knew how hard it would be to clean them up again, I said they could have them. As they left one of them showed a remarkable self awareness in remarking: “Of course, we are teenage boys, and sometimes make bad decisions.”
Next Willow put her attention on painting fans. The queen was receiving on Monday and she finally got the Parasol she’d painted for her at the EK50 to her, and a collection of fans with Eastern tigers on them. Fans are the best largess for a hot summer court! I think it’s pretty cool that we have managed to develop a pattern of people giving the Crown stuff for them to give away. Very medieval!
Early in the war a gentleman came by and the usual conversational gambit “How’s your war going?” “Different than last time” “When was your last war?””Pennsic One.” OK, zero to full “fan girl mode” in about a half second, I get a chance to find out more about the early SCA! Turns out the gentleman was Rakkuri, the seventh king of the East. I had heard that he’d dropped out of the SCA while on the throne, and got to ask him about that, and he denied that he’d dropped out, and while his reign was 8 months- reigns were VERY irregular in those early days, (3 months, 10 months, 8 months, 3 months, 9 months, 4 months, 8 months, 3 months) which sort of argues that there wasn’t anything fishy going on. Apparently he was terribly saddened by the betrayal of a friend, but that happens. We talked about El, and Aonghais (who he didn’t know had died), and Cariadoc and Jehan. I suggested he go out to the “countdown” at final court and blow them all away. Later in the war I bumped into Cariadoc and Jehan and told them he was there. I also had a lovely chat with Signy, who been at Pennsic One as well. We are all aging, and sometimes it’s hard to recognize people since I still think of them as when I met them. I chatted with the last of the original owners- I think both Baron Cooper and Baron Wilber have died, and one of the ladies. She recognized me, and I recognized her, but not whether she was Betty or the other one. I suppose it’s been 41 years! `
John of Three Bears came by again, bless him. I seem to think he’s a rocket scientist or something like that in the modern world, but he grew up on a farm and likes to do things with his hands, and has helped with many things, like re-roofing the booth. I think he wants to teach his boys how to do handyman work. This year all we had for him was fixing Kat’s bed. A leg had fallen off, and he added a footboard, so it stays together better. We’ll have to add a headboard next year- we stack the beds during storage, and another leg fell off. The right length screw is so important! Chatting with another merchant we’ve known for years, from Mideast Magic (I think of her as that nice red haired lady, but noticed that this year she’s mostly white), she told me how she noticed someone putting ice in the 5 gallon igloo water dispenser she keeps out front of her shop. Apparently someone does “Drive by Icings” for the people who put those out. That’s the SCA I know and love!
Tuesday of Peace Week we distributed the boxes and ballots to the people who were putting them out for us for the Merchant Appreciation Award. I’ll admit I didn’t get to putting ads in the paper this year except one announcing the end of the voting, at the end of Midnight Madness, and once announcing the winner. This year we had boxes at Raymond’s Quiet Press, Royal Blue Traders, Calontir Trim, Auntie Arwen’s Spices, Likely Lotus, and Egil’s woodworking. We got more votes this year- people are beginning to know about it; not as many as I’d like. Arwen won again. I think because her folk aren’t hesitant to ask people to vote, and if they are there, they’ll think of how great her spices are! When there’s only a single merchant, I understand being hesitant to say “would you like to vote for your favorite merchant?” because it could seem self serving. I would REALLY like to see a lot more votes for people where it’s not their booth, but I’m darned if I’m going to pay people to vote! The point is to get people to think about how much the merchants add to the war!
Saturday morning Æthylhawk did a class on Anglo-Saxon cooking down at EK Royal. His technique was much as mine, look at the various foods they had available, the cooking techniques they had available (which we know from archeology), and then spice to taste from available spices. He also talked about how to deal with modern feast populations who sometimes have allergies, or gluten intolerance, etc. since his well known for dealing with these issues very well. Cariadoc came and pushed his old refrain that it’s not authentic if it’s not from a written source and if they didn’t have cookbooks in the time you are recreating, you should use the ones from 3 centuries before or 5 centuries after, because “good tastes will have lasted”. It was SO nice to hear Æthylhawk arguing back at him, although I don’t think any of us will convince him if he’s still saying so after 40 years. (Really? How much can you tell about Elizabethan cooking from modern cookbooks?)
On Sunday there was the Arts Exhibition. They’d reminded Laurels to get out there and offer encouragement to the artists, and it does take guts to sit there and have people look at what you’ve done! I made a bunch of wax seals with my laurel wreath stamp and ribbons- very cute! But I dropped the bag of them somehow after looking at the first table. I was discouraged, the floor of the big “hall” is concrete, and my feet already hurt, and I was tempted to skip it, … but so many cool projects! I just told them how much I liked there work, and have pretty much convinced myself that if I do it next year I’m passing out pieces of chocolate. Where do you put the beads and other tokens people give you to say “your work is impressive”? Beads you can string, but the other things? I’ve taken to putting them on the Christmas tree. At least chocolate, you know where to put it.
In the evening we closed shop and went to the Theatre. (Performing Arts Pavilion) We watched Moonwolf, Efenwealt Whistle, and I Sabastiani “The Greatest Performing Arts Troop in the Entire World!” When Efenwealt sang “Holding On” I wept, thinking of how Megan had her home ripped from her over a bureaucratic addiction to rules. Blowing my nose (as quietly as possible, I saw that the girls were also wiping their eyes. And Moonwolf finally got the new album out! Yay! Jeanne had her debut in I Sebastiani as the wise servingwoman. (“Behave or I’ll take this poison!”) it was as delightful as always. I took my new cushion down, and it really helped deal with sitting in a folding metal chair for three and a half hours!
During the year I’ve been not reprinting my booklets since I have the idea that “all I have to do” is edit them, make sure they’re properly footnoted and send them off to Lulu to have them made into little published books. I think people would like them better, and I’d feel better about them if they were footnoted. But I haven’t gotten around to it, so I was down to two or three for most of them. So I got a small print run (2-5 more of the low stock), hoping for more sales. Not so much. oops. I also had to get more RunValdr stuff printed, which is why I bothered looking at the inventory.
I had about 25 people in the Vampires class, and the Witch hunts classes down at the Pennsic University, only a handful up at the one up here. I got confused- I had the same two classes Thursday and Friday and got the days mixed up, and waited for the class up at our tent while they were waiting for me down at the University tents. (Blush!) Most of the 10 people who came to the how to make your own Runestaves class didn’t actually know the runes, so I added a rune-reading class later on in the war. Anglo-Saxon Children wasn’t well attended, which isn’t bad because I didn’t have a good work-up on it. One of the ladies who comes to all my classes (from Atlantia) told me she’d gotten her Laurel in Anglo-Saxon studies this year! Yay! I put up signs telling which classes are happening in the private tent, but we need to organize everyone and have them in the official class schedule. The hardest class to get to was the one at the bottom of Runestone Hill. They’ve put some class tents down there, which much be great for the people down in the “bog” or around the lake, but getting back up “Heart attack hill” was more exercise than I’ve had in a year!
Honour came to war alone this year, she had Nicholas (not her grandson) as a helper, and a man called John Carpenter doing building on her booth. This year she got a extension with an awning so she doesn’t have to pull everything in when it rains! Sadly, with Claus gone, she didn’t have the call for her poppets (he turns them into lepers. People are far more likely to buy a leper doll than a cute dolly for their kid.) Also her sewing machines all broke- and I think she had five at the war this year. I don’t want to say that woman is a bad-luck magnet, but she seems to get more than her share. She only collapsed once from forgetting to eat and drink once this year, though, and that’s an improvement.
I was hobbling around as best I could. Passing Circle Works I overheard someone say “plantar fasciitis” and stopped to ask. She’s a massage therapist and had cleared up the gentleman’s and he was pain free. I had her work on me every three days, and got better, but not all the way well (hence breaking down and trying the steroid shot when I got back). I’m not the only one not walking. Brian (who was also in a champions battle of some sort- I saw a picture) was on a quest to get Arwen down to Casa Barducci one night, I think he rented Arab Boy’s rickshaw to make it happen.
Midnight Madness (Wednesday) is the beginning of the end of the war. Having stayed up until Midnight, most merchants don’t open until nearly noon, and most customers don’t come out before then either. I had a class at 9, people dribbled in all hour. Next year, I’ll have to be careful about that. It also makes it hard to pick up the ballots from the merchants where I left them, and I have to tally them to get the results into the paper by noon to get into Fridays paper. Auntie Arwen’s won again this year. I gave them the box with $50 in “gold” dollars, the plaque, and scroll, and made the public announcement after the Soothsayer’s Guild Meeting on Thursday afternoon. Arwen’s splitting the donation among her staff. When I was done I bumped into to “little” Patri and his lady. I hadn’t seen him for years and it took me a while to believe it was him. He and Dan are of an age, and he really looks like he’s in his thirties, so I didn’t recognize him, even though he does resemble his father. They are having a baby, and promised to bring it round so I can play with it next Pennsic!
Oh, and a lady came by with the metal “coupon” Ælfwine made for the MDA auction. She hadn’t been to the war in 10 years, but had been meaning to bring it back to us. Willow punched the hole for the year. It is good to have it back. Ælfwine was cool. I also bumped into Kami and her lord at Arwen’s- she is getting (just got) hand fasted (right after the war).
Thursday night we had a pleasant game of Cards against Humanity with Amy and Kat, Brenna was down at the ship-burning and we sort of crashed before she got back. She did come up as we were putting things away. Kat shared her list of “things overheard at Pennsic” with her, and her friend from the paper was amused, so they may be using that idea in the Independent next year. But as I said, that’s the end of the war. Last day of classes. Friday sales end at five, and there aren’t many. I pushed myself to deliver the compliments that came on the ballots with the Merchant Appreciation contest. I also heard from Janine Marie when she was available to go to the ECT, and sent out my registration- under the deadline I hope.
At five we started breaking down so that Fred the Welder could get in to put on the new jack in the morning. We didn’t do badly, but did hit a wall. The heat and humidity really took it out of us. But that’s when the sore throats hit- Kat Friday, Willow Saturday, so I think they caught something. (Between the stress and available germs, not surprising.)
Fred the Welder was there at noon, and got the new jack on fairly quickly. We had the jacks out from under the corners (that’s the last step in packing) by five. Went over and helped Michael put his yurt on his trailer. (This time the lights worked. The U-haul he had on the way down, they didn’t!) We got a hundred miles or so along the way home before stopping for the night. DID find a hotel (although more expensive than I liked, but Saturdays are more expensive than Sundays). Honour’s big thing these days is collecting donation for Palladin’s pantry. They collect food and tents, sleeping bags etc. and bring them to the homeless. There were a couple of trucks that had already made several runs before we left and would be back for what she collected the next day. This is a beautiful thing.
We bumped into Raymond the Quiet and his daughter at the breakfast at the Best Western, and headed out. Had to make frequent stops, as the pizza Michael had eaten for supper the night before didn’t agree with him. We had lunch at a diner where the food was delicious, but the service was so slow it cast us an hour and a half for lunch! Then there was an accident somewhere (I remind myself that whoever had the accident had a worse day than we did) and creeping along at 10 miles an hour caused Willows car to overheat, flashbacks to the trip to GNEW! But this time once we’d cooled down (two hours later) we were able to move on. When we left Pennsic the gas was well over $3.20 a gallon. We watched it go down to $3 in NJ, and $2/75 in Massachusetts! Sadly, we did not get in until past four. We convinced Michael to crash on our couch, even though he REALLY wanted to get back to his own bed.
Since then we’ve been slowly slogging our way through unpacking and getting back to normal. I think I started to get the cold but dealt with it my way: took a nap, got up, had dinner, back to bed and slept until I woke up. The girls seem recovered, and are packing for PopCult Anime Con this weekend.
I’m trying to get through two weeks of back mail (bills), email (argh!) and get everything put away (quick before East Coast Thing). The intent is to buckle down and finish the booklets for the Witch hunts and the Vampires. Another hope is that I’ll be able to start walking again soon. At this point I just want to not get the cold, and get the house into some semblance of order.
Until next week!
“We are teenage boys, we sometimes make bad decisions.”