July August 7th, 2013
When last I wrote we were getting ready to go to Pennsic- oh, were we busy! The week was very hot, and I was dealing with the pre-Pennsic prep (packing, writing workshop handouts), trying to get ads into magazines for the conference in November, and dealing with the house renovations. Those went on without us, so that when we got home the bathroom was all done (except for lighting and my deciding how to paint it. The floor is white tile, and the walls and ceiling primed with white. Wally put in new wood trim that matched the sink so well, we just had them stain it to match. We also went the extra $100 or so to get a new white toilet rather than the old green one with the lid that didn’t match. I am fairly excited about it.
John kept the raised bed garden boxes watered while we were gone, and the plants are growing. Mostly it’s still radishes- which I apparently didn’t plant deeply enough, and so far they are not bulbing up. Oops. The hollyhocks seem to have suffered from the paint having been scraped onto them- or maybe the ladders. They’re looking poorly. The Queen Anne’s Lace, goldenrod, black-eyed-susans, and other summer flowers are all blooming, except in the back yard where it’s still pretty brown. I guess it didn’t rain much here either. We had gorgeous weather at Pennsic!
I mentioned last time worrying that my scratches could turn into cellulitis again (thank goodness, it didn’t). On the other hand I got the worst case of poison ivy I’ve ever had. Our green goo helped, but it wasn’t the magical “stops it in it’s tracks” effect we’ve come to expect. So I was pretty uncomfortable at the beginning of the war. I even stopped at the Chiurgeons to have them confirm that it wasn’t anything serious, (since I hadn’t recognized the cellulitis that other time), and not only did the doctor confirm Poison Ivy, he called his trainees over to see what “typical” poison ivy looks like.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Willow packed the trailer and van in a few hours- she’s VERY good! Please rest assured that in this picture she is being silly- dancing- and didn’t put the trailer down on her foot! As usual, the last thing to get done was me and my hand-outs. Since everything else was done that may be why we pushed it and decided to leave Thursday night instead of Friday. This year Pennsic was pushed to a week earlier (which feels much earlier to us since we remember when they moved it from the first two weeks of August to the last week of July and first week of August to accommodate students and teachers since some schools now start at the end of August. This year there’s going to be a Fireworks convention the second week of August- I’m not sure whether it’s at Cooper’s Lake or just nearby. Apparently every campground in the county is filled to overflowing with the participants, and they wanted an extra week to get our trash cleared out before they got there. This year they put specific instructions in the booklet about getting your campsites cleared (You’ll be held accountable if you leave anything on it, and if you’re afraid someone else will dump their trash on your cleaned campsite, take a picture of it, and leave it with security to prove yours was clean.) Personally, I think this is a good idea, and everything would have been cleaner had they been putting that in all along. I see no reason people can’t clean up after themselves. They also decided that everyone had to be out by noon Saturday! No sales after 7 pm Thursday! Friday is nothing but packing! I remember when the War was Saturday and Sunday, and now those days aren’t even included! And they didn’t add a day on the beginning for what they took off at the end, they instituted a Draconian policy of “no one allowed on site until Saturday unless you have to be there”. We figured since our trailer/booth was there, we could get in Friday night, so we headed out Thursday, after our traditional Chinese dinner, and with reservations in Port Jervis at midnight, so we’d be there early enough to set up in the light.
We had a minor adventure in that there was a lot of construction, and the trailer slowed us down more than anticipated, so when we pulled in at 2, the place I’d chosen (rustic cabins) had closed for the night. We found another hotel, and I called Robert (my mechanic) up to ask if the slowing was worrying. He told me that if we’re running the air conditioning, that’s extra strain on top of the towing, so after that we only turned on the AC when we were going downhill, and the van was fine after that. Good tip. Since the trip is up and down a lot, it meant we could cool down often enough that it wasn’t uncomfortable. It may even have been better for Willow who really doesn’t like air conditioning.
We made our way across I-80, stopping to get some fellow SCAers some gas when they’d run out. We knew they were SCA because they were in garb. Apparently they put it on to attract other SCAers- great thinking. The rest of their household was 5 hours behind, and the young man’s mother (in Long Island) had innocently told him that a policeman would be by within 15 minutes to help him. Sigh. When we got that part of the story that’s when we decided to bite the bullet and go down to the next exit, get a gas can for them, got back to the previous exit, and come round again with it. I do hope that the gallon we got them was enough- the next exit was about 10 miles down, but they had a small car. After that we stopped for lunch, and Willow came up with a new household motto: “First we save the day, then we eat.” I can get part of it into Old English: Ærest we dæg agreddan, æfter we etan. (I am very much dubious about the grammer, and really, most of the words.) But as a motto, it works for us. When we stopped there were other SCAdians there in the restaurant who recognized us even without our garb.
We got to Coopers Lake late enough that we were a bit concerned about being able to set up, only to be diverted with everyone else, up to the top of the battlefield where the Fort is, and told to walk down the half mile to the “Troll”, where we could be “trolled in”, but would still not be allowed to enter the campground, but could walk back and stay in our cars, or go find somewhere else to sleep. Since we were up there, Willow pulled out the satin banner I’d started for Ælfwine a decade ago, and posed on the ramparts- filking the “angry men” song from Les Miz (sing the song of angry merchants) Others joined in, and enjoyed her shtick. We checked in, and I also checked in with the Merchants Office (since it was right by “Troll”), and griped about the walk, so Cindy immediately grabbed a golf cart to take us back to the car. Her solicitude was appreciated, but I’d have preferred to stay in our own booth. We found a very nice Days Inn in Butler where we do our shopping, but were not amused by having to spend an extra $100 that we hadn’t planned.
Saturday morning we were allowed in, and set up very efficiently as we’ve gotten used to it. Sadly, the roof had leaked again, and there was some mold and damage that needed scrubbing, and more work. But we turned to and got things sorted out pretty well, greeted old friends and settled in. We could sell as soon as we were set up (one concession), but my latest communication with the PA Department of Revenue was that I was in arrears. This seemed confusing since I had sent them money. The short story is that they have an internet site on which you put how much you sold and how much you owe, and pay it electronically, but if you are late, there’s a late fee, and they don’t tell you how much, only mail you a letter saying you can’t sell until it’s paid. You can pay there, but there’s no place to do it. The sad part of the story is that I spent several days on the phone with them, drove to the office in Slippery Rock where it’s been for years to find it closed, drove down to Pittsburgh to deal with it, and then spent a couple of days doing phone tag trying to get it settled. I will say that the people, once you get in touch with them through many layers of voice-mail, are wonderfully helpful and kind, although there’s a huge variety in what they know, so I got a lot of different versions including one lady who discovered that they were scheduled to mail out the notice that I was delinquent in five days- to my home address- and I could pay it then. The last lady who talked me through it even pointed out that in the week since the paper I was working with was printed, interest had accumulated, and if not for her I’d still be blocked from selling because I’d have owed them another seventy two cents or something like that. The computers don’t care how much it is, they work in binary. Finally, we were able to sell legally. I can tell you I am SO motivated to never have that happen again!
Meanwhile, since we couldn’t sell, John, the nice man who’d fixed our doors last year came by to see if they were still working (they were, and we were happy about that). Since his lady had enjoyed his being paid in silver from our trays, he offered to help with our roofing issues. We decided to use the days until I’d gotten the taxes worked out to fix the roof. John brought a friend and two of his sons, and we ran into Butler and got some roofing that we think looks like tile. At least, as I put it, its SCA PERSONA is tile. I preferred the wood, but I do think this will be more waterproof. It also will make it lighter, which the Coopers who have to drag it into position will like. We also plan to replace the front section of roof with canvas since that works so well for the kitchen area in the back.
If all goes as planned, next year John will install the hydraulic lifts to raise the center section of the roof, and we will, I hope, not have to do remodeling every year any more.
So- we opened for sales, and we were quite gratified by the number of people who came by before we could sell and asked when we were going to open.
Our neighbors were pretty much the same as they have been since we moved. Yosef, Alsoune, and Elspeth are across the street in Silver Dragon, Odyssey Coffee, with their incredible Mocha Slushies are down at the corner, and Arab Boy is blowing glass between them and Yosef. Galen, Kat and Rose run Hobbitronics on their other side, and Foote the potter (at Feet of Clay) beyond them. On our side of Bow street, Charles has given up on selling and seems to have spent most of his time working Security this year- but is enjoying it a lot more than selling. Since he went away, the caravan of various merchants on the end of the oval had hoped to expand, but the Coopers set our booth and Honour’s closer than we guess they should have, so they were hard pressed to fit into the space left for them. Nice folks though; they let John borrow their ladder to do the roofing. Dancing Pig Pottery is still on our other side- but due to the miss marking, there was an eight foot wide clear space between us which was a real blessing when it came to the construction. It gave us space to put everything while the “porches” were being re-roofed. Let’s hope next year we’re back over closer, and they get the space they hoped for. (I have pictures of our street, but am worried they’d clog up some email systems- they are posted on facebook https://www.facebook.com/Tchipakkan/photos_albums look in the Pennsic 42 album.)
As I said, Honour’s booth was, if not tongue to tongue with ours, I am amazed that the tractors were able to get them as close as they did- they were maybe 10 feet apart. Next to her, Galen runs Game Gnight where Sallamallah sold his games for decades, then there’s Claus’s Toy Shop, Megan’s Guild of Limners, and Mattie’s Fabric Dragon. Corrin’s Medieval Miscellania, down at the end, also hosts Kris Spinsters wool, Domingo’s jewelry, and Chris’s embroidery. We on the oval are a pretty close bunch, and that’s where a lot of our socialization happens. We should also include Master Tristram- although Thaddeus couldn’t make it this year, which meant the garden with fountains didn’t get set up, and Cloak and Dagger, where we get our knives sharpened. The oval is full of craftsmen, and I think we’re Cindy’s favorites, but I am probably biased. There are a LOT of other incredible craftsmen (and women) everywhere I look in the Pennsic market.
One major thing changed this year- the coopers barn has been taken over by Pennsic Mart. There the Coopers sell produce, some meats, breads, snacks, propane, even plywood and 2x4s. One end has a small restaurant bakery. Claus noted somewhat sourly (since that’s what he gets to look at all war) that we’ve been asking them for years not to put the dumpsters there, and as soon as they put their business there, the dumpsters were moved to the side. Still- hurrah that they are gone. And the lovely man who draws labyrinths in chalk wherever there’s pavement was doing it again this year.
This year Willow finally completed her project of taking the slats out of her bed and drilling holes and stringing it up as a rope bed. She also took apart the too-wide futon we’d brought down for my bed (mice had rather damaged its predecessor) and chopped off the extra batting, and sewed it up so that it fit. We have rather lovely beds. Next year we think we will not screw the kitchen counter to the booth but make a new, free-standing table to go over the trailer tongue. Each year there is variation in how tall it is, and this year we were able to tuck one set of shelves under a side, which was very convenient.
I really enjoy our dining area at the back of the booth. We have four lamps hanging over the table, and this year we got a tablecloth to cover it. Between 7 and 8 (depending upon whether I have a nine am class or not) we get up and breakfast on some of the wonderful breads from the Giant Eagle bakery, with butter, jam, honey, or cream cheese and milk. At lunch we may gather again for bread and cheese and fruit, sometimes with a bit of sausage or cold ham. (If the shop is busy, we’ll take our plates back to where we’re working. Kat has embraced the roll of “the girl in the window”, and Willow has created a workspot for herself under the east wing. In theory my place is by my desk under the west wing, but I spent far too much time trying to catch up on my handouts this war.) I try to make something more substantial for supper- stroganoff or something grilled, with salad. We actually do drink about a gallon of water each a day- partly as water, partly as lemonade or hot or cold teas.
The classes I did this year were Anglo-Saxon Trade and Travel, Anglo-Saxon Coins, Anglo-Saxon Sex/Gender Roles, as well as RúnValdr. There are now about 1338 classes at the Pennsic University, so they encourage people who can teach from their camps to do so; indeed they only allow each person 4 classes- plus as many as he or she is willing to teach from his camp. When I got there I got the Anglo-Saxon Sex class moved from our back yard- even though it was bigger than expected- to the PU tents. When I did How to Dress like a Prostitute, I got over an hundred attendees. I also had one RúnValdr moved to the evening, and (there were 4 repetitions- 3 in the morning) and one AS Sex in the morning, because sometimes you can’t go to a class because you’re busy with other things- and morning or evening may be better. I also discovered to my amusement that if you “Like” the Pennsic University on Facebook, you can get updates on additions, deletions and changes sent to your smart phone (or computer). I find that a useful use of anachronisim, having bustled down for a class to find it cancelled more than once. When some folk missed the updates, and showed up at the original time, we added another iteration of the AS Sex class, although if they missed the first change, I’m not sure they’d catch the addition. Still, some people came.
The box of booklets went missing during packing and we got 5 each of the ones I had on flashdrive or masters made at Staples. I fell in lust with a 1887 book on Anglo-Saxons in the used book sellers (Haunted Bookshop), and decided that if I sold enough of my booklets to cover the $125 price tag, (and it was still there) I’d get it. I did. I am hoping to get to finishing the subjects I studied up on this year because several people came by hoping that I’d produced them- and I keep selling the old ones, so the coins and travel and sex would probably sell too. I just have to find the time.
It occurs to me that two letters may not be worse than one in this case, and my goal this week is to recover from the exertions of the war. I have pointedly avoided being on my feet (which still hurt- I’m going to have to look into getting a GOOD pair of shoes and see if that helps), but all of us are still pretty wiped out. At any rate, going to bed early seems wise, and I can finish letting you know about how wonderful the war was, and what we did on the way home and since then tomorrow.
More adventures to come.
“First we save the day, then we eat.” Stormgard Motto