Wow, Summer is finishing up, fall is coming. The weather has been great. It got cooler last week, which wasn’t bad. We worried about rain over the weekend, but escaped that. The pink phlox are fading, and the nasturtiums have pretty much passed- I guess I didn’t pick enough of their flowers to keep them coming.
I’ve gotten more chard and radishes from my mini-garden. I have been watching some plants growing that I didn’t recognize. They were evenly spaced, so I figured I’d planted them. The notebook where I recorded my planting in the spring is deep inside the buried living-room where I couldn’t get at it. Finally it bloomed. It was a lovely white flower with a purple throat. I remembered that okra flowers look like that, and I wouldn’t deny the possibility that if I saw a six-pack of okra I might have planted them as a semi-ornamental on the side. Finally I posted a picture of it on Facebook and Sarah identified it as Datura/Jimson weed. It’s poisonous “Don’t eat it!”. Good to know. I have now pulled them up. I guess the seeds were in the dirt I had delivered. I had discovered immediately that it was full of lambs quarters. Ah well.
Last week I had Ellen Evert Hopman on my show, and she mentioned a book Invasive Plant Medicine: The Ecological Benefits and Healing Abilities of Invasives, I was able to get a copy used from Amazon and am now reading it. It’s pretty good. I’ve hated Ornamental Bamboo aka knotweed all my adult life, but it turns out it’s an effective treatment for Lyme Disease. There are benefits from others like Loosestrife and Kudzu as well. Purple Loosestrife is supposed to be better for eyes than eyebright, and smokey’s eye has gotten ugly again, so we’ll try it before shlepping him back to the vet. I was not surprised to see several thistles on the list, but was surprised to see wild roses and Plantain. Plantain we brought over from Europe intentionally, and it’s the number one medicinal herb! I suppose if you want your lawn to be all grass, it seems invasive, but I’d rather have plantain than grass.
The repairs and renovations are pretty much done, last Friday was the last day the guys were here. Don was putting poly on the counters, and Paul installed my foot pedals on the kitchen sink. The verdict is still out on whether this was a good idea or not. I figured that it would be like a shower control- you set the heat combination and then flip a switch to decide whether the water goes to the shower-head or the tub faucet. Sadly, we can’t bypass the pedal control, so to fill the sink or a pot of water, you have to stay on the pedal (or put a weight on it), which is really inconvenient. We’ll see which we do more over time. What goes in can come out. I have to say it is good for washing dishes. I’ve been doing a lot of that as I put the dishes on the shelves.
I’ve done some math- I think that the shelves in the pantry and china cupboard together came to about 190 linear feet and what we put in was 200- or maybe it was the other way around. It’s going to be close, either way, and one of the results is that as I’m loading the shelves, I’m also looking at what I am willing to “get rid of”. When we were unloading, it was pretty clear that three bins of tupperware is excessive. Certainly I can get rid of the tops and bottoms without partners, but it gets a little harder when deciding how many X do I need? At one point we used to sit ten to a dozen people to dinner on a fairly regular basis, now that only happens at Solstice. I used to cook for events, 30 pie pans (ten tables and a different pie for each course) made sense, as did several each of three and five gallon pots. So having five or six identical five to twelve-cup plastic storage containers was necessary. Now? Not so much. But, even though I don’t use them often, I hesitate to just toss my pie and cake carriers for the same reason I don’t want to get rid of my various cooking toys and gadgets. I like to use them occasionally, and they aren’t easily replaceable.
I’ll admit it’s kind of fun to decide where to put my pretty stuff. I figure the serving dishes get the shelves over the cupboards and the cooking, storage, and cleaning stuff can go underneath. Clearly, things you grab often goe on the bottom, and things used less often go on top, but also the top shelf is taller, so taller items must go up there. I was thinking of leaving the rolls of wrap, etc. in the bins we stuck them in, but since Don put a bottom sill (but no shelf) on the cupboards, getting them in and out may be hard. My most recent thought is to put the pitchers, salad bowls and condiment jugs on the first section. I also anticipate getting toward the end and discovering I need to slide EVERYthing over a foot in order to fit something in with things in the same category.
Currently I have a category on the countertop- the things I feel I don’t need to keep. It’s easier to let go of the cute “autumn leaves” set of plates when you can see that there are already eight sets of plates on the shelves. It WILL make setting the table more fun since it will be more easy to select what tableware will best complement the food. But I am running into the question- while sometimes one wants blue (or red, or green…) how many vases does one need? How many pedestal cake plates? And what to do with the beloved set of dishes that there are only four left? At what point does “that was my grandmothers” trump “where are you going to fit it?”.
Over the weekend someone came back to put an extra coat of poly on the counter because it takes a day to dry and we weren’t here. We were at the Harpers Retreat SCA event. The theme this year was SCA history, and when I was talking about which class I could teach, Sheena got very excited about my talking about what we used to sing in the early years of the SCA. When I got there and started talking, it turned out to be described as SCA songs- not quite what I’d prepared, but people liked it. Sadly, as so often happens, I was busy printing out copies of the songs while the kids were loading the car. It was the same site as last year with very elegant tree lined paths (they call them roads, and you CAN squeeze a car down them by straddling the path). The owners say they like us, but put the price up a thousand bucks, and said that if anyone drives their car onto the grass, we’ll lose the site. Good, I hope someone does. It’s incredibly inconvenient. Also, I understand (at least some of) the cabins were filthy. But mostly I have very bad memories of trying to get past those damned trees last year, and then between them (working hard to avoid catching the trailer on turns) this year. Because of the restriction, we brought the ox-cart with us, so people could use it to carry their tents and gear out onto the camping sward.
We also took the new tent for its first event. Ketil was 14’x16′, this one is 16’x18′, and boy, does that 2 feet make a difference! Remember that the weather forecast was predicting rain every day from Friday to Monday, and we had rain on Thursday and Friday, we set it up so that people could come inside, see all the tables, and yet we could, if necessary, sleep and cook and have all our stuff inside as well. When night came Willow did put her mattress on the area inside the U of the selling tables, while Kat and I ran ours across the back, and because the weather did hold off, we actually set our table outside for breakfasts and lunches, but it was wonderfully spacious. Willow was able to make necklaces on a table behind the selling tables. We did hit our target “take”, always nice.
Kat was running the Gold Key up on the porch of one of the buildings. In theory she wouldn’t need to be there all the time, but it seemed like whenever she came down for lunch or some other reason, someone would come running to get her to help someone. So she’s useful! On Sunday her position on the porch gave her a gallery view of the tournaments and court. While Willow helped Kat set the Gold Key up, I got the tent up “by myself”- with a marvelous crew of volunteers. Brian and Trevor had told me about two young men they would like to join Stormgard, and we’d have met them at GNEW had we not broken down. But they turned up as we were unpacking, and swiftly unloaded the trailer and van, and then helped us get the new tent up, and everything inside. (At the time, we weren’t sure that rain wasn’t imminent.) Their names are Connor and Kevin, and if they still fit as well in a few months, they may join Stormgard. I’m afraid that I was too strongly scarred by the horrible stories of “grabbing new members” to just bring any in to a household without careful consideration and chance for everyone to get to know each other.
We were set up next to Thor’s Hammer, so when we couldn’t spot our lantern hanging ropes, we were able to just buy some from him. We also picked up more of the “friction hooks” that hang on tent poles. Erik (I’ve called him Thor for years, but apparently his name is Erik, and he IS a descendant of Erik the Red), makes them for only $7 each, so I was able to replace the ones we’d had in the stake bag with Ketil, and told Dierdre to keep those.
Domenico was the Merchant Autocrat, and he was urged to have a “midnight madness” in the merchant area, but since almost all the tents were pop-ups, and not suitable for lighting, that didn’t happen. (Kate’s hanging lamps are always pretty, of course.) I’ll admit that had they been able to hang lanterns down the tree corridor, it would have been pretty, but they didn’t have them. I am pretty sure I have a cache of paper lanterns, (not that chinese lanterns are SCA period- but the technology is possible!) and I tried to remember where there were, but couldn’t. We’d forgotten to pack the bin of hangers for the Gold Key (making it pretty impossible to set them out), and Kat’s belt with her chatelaine, pouch and just about everything else. Luckily, and God Bless Brian, we were able to call and catch him, and he was willing to divert up to our house on his way, pick up the hangers from Willow’s display, and Kat’s stuff, and bring them. Crisis averted, thank goodness (and Brian)! And once we were set up and got some food in us, we just inflated our beds and crashed. How lovely to be horizontal!
It seemed like most of the classes were moved from one time to another- a banner painting class took over the Arts and Sciences area so I just had my Old Songs on the grass outside our tent. I think my main point was that when the SCA started, we didn’t know what we were doing. Many of our favorite songs- other than the ones we made up about ourselves, were from folk singers like Steeleye Span, or even the Clancy Brothers. I sang “The Quest” and “Rimini” (we did a LOT of Kipling!), and “Road of Kings” (from Robert Howard’s Conan books), and the “Song of Golias” from Silverlock, although I mentioned The Last Unicorn, I don’t think I got to singing “When I was a young man” (not sure). I talked about the Childe Ballads, and scholarly discussions of “Twa Corbies” and “Three Ravens”, and how we attempt to date old songs, and the source of “the Witch of the Westmerelands”. I meant to get to the Raven Banner and Song of the Shield Wall by Peregrin Windrider and Malkin Grey, because dammit, when someone’s going to write beautiful music, the tune must be respected, but I didn’t. I mostly did the shorter ones, including the “Twelve Days of Battle” (as an example of how an in-joke can become incomprehensible when people don’t understand it anymore- “The whole Herlathing” for the third day). I did get to “the Dark Horde Battle Song” and the “I am not a Ninja Polka”, but not “Catelan Vengence”. I did a little of “War is a Science” from Pippin– my first performance in the SCA (or maybe it was “the Seven Deadly Virtues” from Camelot.) Because there was so much to cover I didn’t sing all the songs all the way through. Thank goodness, one of the ladies who came remembered the tune to “Chastity Belt”- I could only remember the melody for the chorus, so I was able to share that one with them. (She also sang the Steeleye Span’s “The King” with me- that does need harmony.) I talked about carols, and our early kissing dances, and the origin of clove lemons in the SCA. I moved on to filking, and the songs that preserve our SCA history, and the several songs that are designed to have people add verses- from the “Mongol Birthday Song” to “Imperium Compound”. I fear the workshop rather petered out, as people left to go to the next class. I had about 160 pages of song lyrics printed out, so it’s not surprising that I couldn’t fit it all into one hour.
One that I didn’t get to that I’d planned was “The Kitten Raid”, but it did get sung later. During the cooks guild meeting on Sunday, Honour walked out of the hall. I was rather taken aback as she lives in Ohio now, and I’d have thought that she’d let me know if she were making a trip all the way back here. Also, she was all in black with her hair down, and I have to admit, I’ve been reading a marvelous book on dopplegangers and fetches, so I wasn’t sure she was really there. She was. She’d come out for her mother’s second husband’s funeral. She was very fond of him. That was on Saturday, and Sunday she had to drop her sister at Manchester Airport, so she figured she wasn’t going to get that close and not come to the event- and did. Later she sang the Kitten Raid for people, but I didn’t get her to write down the words for me. I will say that running through all the old songs was quite a trip down memory lane for me, and I’m still half back there in the early SCA.
The feast was fairly good. Sadly, the camp dining hall is designed for children and I remembered how painful it got last year on those picnic tables, so this year I took in my chair and sat at the end of the table comfortably. We sat with Anne of the Fuzzy Hat and her friends, and they took delight in serving me as the “grande dame” present. It was incredibly hot, and we took turns sneaking out for air. There was plenty of food, and it was good (although sadly, the braised beef was a casualty- ah, the downside of publishing the menu beforehand!). One dish I am still ambivalent about was the bacon and mushroom pie. It tasted good, but didn’t set up properly so couldn’t be eaten by hand, as a pie should (in my opinion). I couldn’t taste the apricots in the meatballs, but I think that’s a good thing. After dinner was the bardic competition. Both Connor and Kevin were competing, and I wanted to watch them, but by ten I was beginning to fade, no matter how good the music and stories. My favorite (and there were several) was a story by a lady who used to live in AnTir (Washington and Oregon), and offered what was an old story there, but she figured we’d never heard out here. It was the tale of a young squire who was asked to be at a war by his King, but was called up to participate in National Guard War Games. (This began to sound familiar.) He was assigned as a sentry on the top of an unscalable cliff one night, and was walking his post angrily swinging a stick he’d picked up, thinking about how he COULD be an the event, when suddenly one of his “enemies”, came up over the side and to his surprise, attacked him with another stick- in standard, and high quality, SCA fighting style. (OK, this sounded VERY familiar.) He was very surprised that the other guy was as good at this esoteric style of fighting. Later, when they were able to chat, he discovered that the fellow knew what An Tir and the SCA were. And told him not to be embarassed, because he was the King of the West. (OK, that part was different. I need to get in touch with Viz and get him to go over his version of what seems like the same story- except that he was the one who’d climbed the hill, and of course, he wasn’t king of the West.) But there were other fun songs and stories, and I had a good time.
While the Baron and Baroness (and the Heir- who is being called the Nexcellency) were out choosing the next Bard of Stonemarche, I was able to give my version of Moonwolf’s Ballad of Pennsic Four- with my perspective of how things happened. Connor did a couple of monologs from Shakespere, and Kevin did a credible extemporaneous speech that I thought was one, but by 11, I was exausted, and very happy to discover when we got in that Willow had made our beds for us.
The next day there was fighting (on the grass between the Gold Key and Gate), and to our delight, our own Frostulf won the Rapier Championship- he will be the rapier champion for the Baron(ess) for the next year. He is certainly photogenic. I was very embarassed. I was razzing Shannon, his lady, about her not liking to wear skirts, and hurt her feelings, which was especially sad because she was bringing me a huge pile of beautiful tomatoes and cucumbers from her garden. As the kids say, I’m not good at humor, and I feel awful about it.
Fighting was followed by court. I messed up again; I have not kept track of what awards I’ve earned. I know Megan and Morgan gave Ælfwine and I the special Order of the Foundation Stone, but Stonemarche has Cornerstones, Keystones, Millstones, and a bunch of other stones, and I’m not sure which is which, or if I have any of them. (I shall have to ask Aine.) Several years ago I was made the Principle of something with a lamp- but I couldn’t remember what it was called. They called for the Order of the Lamp of Apollo, but I was pretty sure there was no Apollo in the name- until Harold told me that this was the name that actually passed the College of Arms, and yes indeed, that was my order. Oops. One should really keep track.
I hate to admit it, but my medieval shoes are not as good for my feet as I’d like, and what with that and wandering around a lot, my feet were aching again by Sunday evening. I had many wonderful conversations (we chatted with Harold about music and the college of heralds for an hour in the morning), but when Willow checked the internet and it said that storms were coming in at sunset, we thought about packing wet canvas, and opted to skip the Sunday night bardic. Once again volunteers helped us break down with amazing speed, and a lovely lady even offered to take home the ox-cart so people could use it packing up Monday.
Monday we jumped right into working- I started moving the dishes that were on the dining-room table into the pantry, while Willow went out to get fleece for her fall con season (including two current commissions). In the evening, because the table was clear, she was able to start cutting out her blankets. She’d have probably started sooner if the table hadn’t been buried in dishes. Clearing it included washing most of them- if I can, I’m going to get glass fronted doors on the cupboards to reduce the dust on them. I don’t think when people have two sets of dishes they have this problem, but when you have 14 sets…. let’s just say I am becoming convinced that I don’t need so many.
Yesterday morning, Willow had an appointment with the Endodontist in Keene for a root canal. Root canals are apparently something for specialists these days. Since her appointment was at nine, and one comes early for paperwork, and Keene’s an hour away, we had to leave at 7:30. Yuck. She had TWO root canals (and will need crowns now), and didn’t get loose until after noon. They gave her anti-biotics, and anesthesia, and arnica against the swelling, and after gave her perscriptions for Naproxen against swelling, and codine against pain, but she’s been pretty much OK. She’s taking more arnica and Vitamin C to reduce the swelling, and so far says the worst part was the X rays. They had to do one before, one during and one after, and those cardboard slide frames always cut into ones palate. The endodontist also had a new gadget- a rubber wedge that kept her mouth open, that she liked a lot. I went along in case she was in no condition to drive herself back. She was fine, but we thought it was worth having back-up. She felt well enough to stop at the JoAnne store in Keene for more fabric.
Now we are gearing up for the first of the Pagan Pride Days. Must go do my show- tonight Ghosts! call in 619 639 4606 8-9 eastern daylight time!
Since Rosh Hashana has just started, I shall have yiddish proverbs for my sig quote:
What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t invent with your mouth.
You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.
A hero is someone who can keep his mouth shut when he is right. ~~~Yiddish Proverbs
Shana Tova U’Metuka!