Hi again: January 31, 2018
I hope you got a chance to see the eclipse- we were overcast here.
We had good weather for Birka, which was a pleasant surprise, since often we get blizzards. In fact we had several days of 50º weather, which surprised me. I figured we’d already had the “January Thaw”. It’s back in the 20ºs again though. We also had a couple days of rain, so the dry driveway is a great joy (until it snows again). John is pretty good about keeping the wood stove going, although not so good at getting it started.
Friday was spent packing the car and getting off to Birka. I’d meant to clean out the car Thursday, but didn’t get to it because I was finishing last week’s letter (oops), Friday morning I made some mini-quiches, and small mince pies, and blackberry muffins. Willow packed the car (I‘m good at it, but she is much better, and dislikes when we are messing around with each other’s plan, so I stayed out of her way.)
Birka opens to the public at 6, and Merchants were allowed to come start setting up at 3, but staff were allowed in at noon. Kat, who runs Golden Key, is staff. Our problem was getting our goods out of the van to make room for the 16 or so bins of Gold Key garb to bring up from the Storage down on Canal Street. So we unloaded enough, and they left me behind to use the seat. I got to try to check in- but I’d decided to leave my purse at home, since I didn’t have any money and wouldn’t be driving. Oops. I didn’t remember my SCA membership # and needed that. I saw someone else find his on his mobile, and tried to figure that out- which led to another round of drama as we tried to get into the hotel’s wifi. By the time I’d gotten close, the girls got back. They had theirs, and since our numbers are sequential, they worked mine out.
Kat had several helpers to unload the bins (although I’m not sure they helped hump the bins from the car). We’d bought a new handcart that does hold 4 bins at once- but it was still in its box, and we had to find a helpful gentleman with tools to deal with the bolts for us. (By the time we found one, all the bins were in.) Sadly, the helpers showed Kat why it is so many of us would rather do things ourselves than get help. Still, she has to deal with about a thousand pieces of garb, and they did get them all up on hangers. She also managed to find a custodian who listened to her and this year the curtains creating the changing rooms had a divider between them, and she didn’t have to pile up her bins and cover them with a cloth to separate the lords from the ladies! Once it was done, she could go back over and fix everything the way she wanted it.
Meanwhile Willow and I set up the Cabochons tables. We had another “need a tool” issue. In theory we keep a battery powered screwdriver in the bag with the pieces of the booklet display- as it screws together. It wasn’t there, but luckily Erik from Thor’s Hammer was across from us, and loaned us his. I put the soothsayers Guild banner up on our north side, and my banner on the south side. Our tablecloths are 8 feet long, and so are the tables at the Expo Center, so the ends would show, if I didn’t. Besides, this year I had the patches from Hobbitronics for the guild, and wanted people to be able to find us. We were all set up by five, collected Kat, and went over to the pub for supper. I had already started to ache in my feet, hips, back and head from the concrete floors and noise, so I had a beer. Well, technically, half a glass of ale, which had the intended effect of deadening the pain. I couldn’t finish my sandwich, but passed it off to Sarah, across the way. Ekke is in the middle of his Master something or other course (getting his captain’s license), where he will be able to get position as a first mate, and couldn’t make it down for Birka so she was alone. I have a feeling that she wouldn’t have eaten.
We opened (and so did Gold Key) from 6 until 10 pm, then we got to go home, for which I was grateful as my feet had started aching again. A few years ago we got some rubber mats for behind the table, and I think they really help, but they don’t do anything for the constant barrage of people trying to speak over the other hundreds of people in the room, plus echoing.
I’ve been at the Expo Center for a woman’s Expo, and there it cost $400 for an 8×8’ space. For that money they put down carpets and put up the pipe and curtains to create the spaces- and I have to admit it cut down the noise. But our tables were $20@ (so I guess you could get 20 for that $400 if they’d let you, although they don’t.) Also this allows a lot more variety. We have people with one table and with six. Most of the hall is laid out in 8 table “squares”, the other side of ours moved their 4th table in between to put all their personal stuff on, and it was very nice. Roderick and I exchanged some Ælfwine stories. (I’m not sure I’d have recognized him, I keep expecting people to look like I remember them from the 80s.) And with the curtains you couldn’t look up and say “oh, look there’s the Spice Guild, see their huge scales!” or other merchants we know.
I have no idea how people go through and see everything- I think there are about 160 merchants- and not all are in the Expo center- there are some outside it, and I think also in the armory. At one point I sat with the map and tried to work out a system. I tried zig zag, spiral, – they all would miss someone! Thank goodness I didn’t have to try! (We are over at B2, the yellow tables. I also marked the merchants we knew in our map- we know about a third of them! I am so happy because the bathrooms are about B, and I can get there quickly. For a few. Years we were down at B8, and since I know so many people, it would take me a half hour to get the (I’m guessing 150 feet) there!
This year I didn’t go to any classes- actually, there were so many guild and order meetings, there was no time for classes, so that’s fine. Court was at five, and as I’ve often said, I avoid courts with nearly religious fervor. One of my friends- Patrick, got inducted into the Order of the Maunche- and I sort of wish I had been there for that, but at the same time, when the several dozen people in the Order are there, I’m not sure that it helps to be there. He is a very talented craftsman, and I’m pleased for him! In the modern world he’s now got a silversmithing business.
One of these years I will remember to take a camera (or learn to use the one in my phone) and get pictures of my friends. I started jotting down a list so I could remember who I’d seen, but couldn’t keep up. And, as usual, keep forgetting names. I had a wonderful conversation with a lady who told me that she’d had a heart attack from Broken Heart Syndrome. Apparently this is a new discovery to medicine (if not to human experience). She’d lost several loved ones in quick succession, and had a heart attack, but to the surprise of the hospital, had no plaque build up. It seems that stress of this sort can make your heart beat so that it gets bruised against the inside of the ribcage, the bruising makes it swell, and that makes the heart attack. I remember how I used to get that painful heart banging when Ælfwine was doing the “cancer dance”. I knew it was because I was stretched too thin between him and the kids, and if I went to a doctor, all they could do was give me drugs. So I went to a Reiki practitioner, and got through it relatively unscathed.
Weehawk and George (?some saint or other) came by- I should have given him some assignment as his patroness. Rachel was there, but Friday she didn’t have her kids with her. I think it was her daughter who when asked if she wanted to stay with her Grandmother or go to the event said “It’s Birka, Mother!” with the assumption that that removed any option- and she’s five years old!
Willow did get a chance to go to the Fashion Show. She’d made a new outfit- we were pleased that it wasn’t too cold for it, because it will be great for summer. It’s a red chiton with gold trim and a blue underdress, and gold cord- with brass cuffs and tiara. This is the new SCA joke of having a perfectly reasonable garb that when you figure it out looks like a variation on a modern costume. The stars are simply tacked on and will come off for most of it’s lifetime. (Today, sadly, she stood too near the wood stove in a not natural fabric, and her overdress simply melted. A similar thing happened to one of Mother’s garments when I was a kid- it was a gorgeous fake fur “sweater”, and the first time she wore it to the ski lodge, when she stood with her back to the fire, the whole back fused into a grey slab. It was so sad. Natural fibers are the best. I was glad Willow got to show it off- it amused people when they recognized it. Also, she stopped by Gold Key and watched for 10 minutes while Kat ate her lunch. They keep telling Kat to close down for several hours, but even if she tries, people come to get her in order to return the borrowed garb. It’s not like they close the room- the heralds and Chatelaines tables are in there. At least she got to eat. I was a bit cranky because there are “guards” at the doors explaining to people that garb is required – but totally free at the Gold Key (at least on Saturday) and I still saw several people happily shopping, and insisting that they “were just about to leave” when I pointed out that garb is required and free. Grrr! I don’t like it on Friday when it’s not required, but I really dislike it on Saturday when it is, and people sneak through anyway, having been told!
Kuberry came by with his friends from their reenacting group- I traded him a mince pie for a Cornish pasty. I saw Megan and her new dog- Bella, and Claus go by, but I was talking with someone else and didn’t get a chance to chat with them. I did buy some spices I was running low on, and a horn over at Bear’s stall. We tasted the honey, but it was so strongly goldenrod, we opted to get some elsewhere.
Friday we escaped at 10, and had to get up (an alarm clock morning) to get out by 8, because Gold Key opened at 9, even though the merchants didn’t open until 10. Sadly, although we could close at 9 on Saturday, and Kat started packing Gold Key early, people kept coming in past the deadline to exchange garb for their modern clothing until 11, by which point the restaurants were closed- except for Applebees. Back when we left at 9, we could have a nice supper to celebrate our sales. (We did pretty well this year.) Willow and Kat had cleverly arranged to be allowed to leave the Gold Key bins in the gate room (I think it may have been used for Curia Sunday Morning.) so we could pick them up in the morning, and not try to get both GK and our stuff into one car- or take two cars. Hooray! We also had to wait a bit to put the bins there as there seems to have been a memorial for Kenric in there about then. I got to briefly say hi to Avelina (along with the rest of the kingdom).
I didn’t worry about an alarm as I didn’t expect to need one, but didn’t wake until about 11, so it was a bit after noon when Kat and I arrived at the hotel. The Reptile Show (that has been taking place on the Sunday after Birka for several years) was in full swing. We brought John, and it didn’t take us long to load the bins out into the van- although once they stacked them 3 deep and I almost ran over a small child with the handcart. I totally didn’t see her, but luckily people yelled and stopped me!
There had been a homeless person begging outside Applebees the night before, and there was a teenage girl outside the reptile show. When we got down to the storage place another homeless man offered to help with the bins for whatever we would pay him. Manchester is so full of homeless these days, and I just kept thinking of the beastly cold weather we had earlier this month with him living in a tent by the railroad tracks. He is grateful because the people in the nearby businesses have left him alone and not run him off. He used to work in manufacturing, but got “downsized”, lost his house, and can’t find a job. I can’t imagine the irony of living beside a place where people pay to store the extra costumes, furniture, and other excess STUFF, while you can’t find a job to afford an apartment and food, much less medical, transportation, etc. We did give him $5, and the leftover bottled water we’d taken to Birka. But I keep thinking “Are there no prisons? No workhouses?” We really should have a better safety net for people who are so close to disaster. They WANT to work. They want what we all want. I wish I could have done more.
While we were off doing our crazy hobby, Liz went down to watch Meg do hers: obstacle courses. They had one called Blizzard Blast down in the Boston area. Liz got several video clips of Meg hanging from things, carrying heavy objects, going over walls, and sliding down hillsides. All I could think (other than how fit she is) is how her hobby makes ours look less nuts. They seemed to be having fun, and Liz got to enjoy watching her. This week she’s heading out to San Diego to see Allison. She tells me she does intend to see the “best soon in the world” while she is there. Good thinking!
Kat’s gotten another new commission for a Loli dress. When we picked up the fabric, the saleslady overheard us talking and asked her if she had a business, and since she was able to show her business card, she now has a VIP card, which gets her an extra discount. Pretty cool!
Sadly, while buying the many colors of fabric for the latest commission, Kat’s kindle, on which she had stored her shopping list (I’m going to have to ask her to show me how to do that!) fell and the screen shattered! While finishing the shopping she was cutting her finger since you sort of have to swipe across the glass screen to make it work. Luckily, when Willow’s broke, I’d found a sale on the Kindle fire that made her replacement affordable, and since it was (I think) $60 for 1, and $70 for 2, I got two. The one on sale was 8” not 7”, and I didn’t particularly like the bigger size, so we unregistered me, and registered Kat, so that was really convenient to have! (I still haven’t gotten around to putting all my fiction on my old kindle and all my non-fiction on my new one (I figure non-fiction should be on the one with a search function), so I figure I really don’t need a third. (I do like the screen that lights up for reading in bed!)
I have to admit that’s pretty much all I can think we’ve done this week. I do still spend too much time on facebook. Not only do I keep hoping I will find out what’s going on in my friends lives- for example this week one of our friends had a near-miss with a tornado! It’s hard for me to resist reading the next article when a new fascinating one is right there whenever you finish the last. There’s the politics (which is stressful, but I think I have a duty to keep track of), and then fascinating new discoveries in science, history, sociology and more. I think it’s like reading magazines, but it’s the facebook algorithms that pick the articles rather than me subscribing to magazines I choose. OK, I will admit that I find the headlines often misleading- they over state to get your attention, and when you read the article find that it’s not a new cure for cancer, but a study showing some new evidence for a possible treatment. I REALLY dislike the health food “this herb is a panacea posts: I know the real virtues of honey, turmeric, thyme, and elderberry. Heck we are even taking Fire Tonic. It’s a vinegar tincture infused with garlic, onion, hot peppers, ginger, turmeric, cloves, horseradish, and hibiscus (to make it red). It probably burns about everything possible out, but it is as sharp as you might expect. (I add honey, but Willow just tosses it down as a shot.) I also enjoy humor, and shall we call it “cultural literacy”? People are biting down on detergent pods? Really? This week I also watched several episodes of Granny potty mouth
, a very funny lady who does a sort of a cooking show with a lot of expletives- but she’s funny.
To be honest, I am sort of avoiding facebook (at least for me- which does except my posting holds at Holidays that Might get overlooked), because there’s some pretty high feelings going around among people I know. It’s about the use of symbols, in the SCA- and elsewhere as well. In the SCA the Caidan King wore a Viking outfit with trim that incorporated Fyrfots- a variation of a swastika. People thought use of that symbol appeared to support Nazi ideology. I don’t see it, but many of my Jewish friends are very irate. When people objected, the king apologized, and said they wouldn’t wear it anymore. Those who objected said the apology was half hearted because it didn’t go far enough. I’m not sure what they want. They said they didn’t think of it beforehand, but recognize that it bothers people now and won’t do it again. But some people want them out. This isn’t that king, but a picture of another king with the same trim from a year ago. I have to assume that the difference is what has happened in the “real” world in that year. I didn’t even notice the yrfots, but the yellow parts of the design, but Kat tells me they make it worse, because some neo-Nazis use HH to stand for Hiel Hitler, which “confirms” that it’s an intentional Nazi reference. It’s created a huge discussion about whether even something authentic can be acceptable if it bothers people. I’m not going to argue for Nazis, neo-Nazis, or ignoring the trauma of the Holocaust. Nor am I going to argue that freedom if speech includes the right to incite to violence, or other sorts of hate speech. I don’t think we should “punch Nazis”, but I do think we should firmly tell them that they are not allowed to promote violence in public places. I really wish we had better guidelines for those in authority to help do that. In a related story, people are freaking over sweaters I think the Norwegiann Olympic Team is wearing with the T and Z* runes on them- (for Victory and Protection), and people are freaking because some Neo-Nazi groups have adopted Tyr (the T rune) in their symbolism. What, are we supposed to totally give up using any runes because the Nazis were terrible, awful people who did unspeakable things, and often used runes? Some Diné (Native American) artists have chosen to not incorporate their traditional “whirling log” into their work, but in my opinion if it’s on a banner at a Trump rally, it’s a swastika, if it’s on a Diné basket- it’s not a swastika, if it’s on a Hindu temple, it’s not a swastika, if it’s on a piece of trim on a viking, it’s not a swastika. You can tell what it is from context. I am not opposed to having people avoid wearing them to avoid upsetting people who are still traumatized by the horrors of the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis. I have read recently that somehow the trauma of slavery has become imprinted on the DNA of Afro-Americans, and I expect the same is true for Holocaust survivors.
There’s nothing wrong with kindness. I do, however, object to the idea that we should legislate that because one child has a peanut allergy, that no children bring peanut butter sandwiches to school, although precautions should be taken to prevent dangerous allergic reactions. Similarly, it’s appropriate for the Crown to set aside garb that could trigger a panic attack in people at an event- although I don’t expect that there are many survivors of Trablinka at SCA events. What I think are at SCA events are people who are very worried that in America today there are too many things happening that closely echo the steps the Nazis took to power. We have a leader who feels he is above the law, we have officials asking people to document their citizenship in public places, the government is trying to support a specific religious doctrine, the media has been discredited, and the forces created to “protect and serve” are being militarized, and allowed to indulge in racist behavior, and more. That is certainly scary, and thus, reminders of the direction our modern government seem to be taking could trigger a severe nervous reaction.
*it’s not actually a Z but a letter used to indicate a masculine ending to a word, and could also be an R, philologists argue about it, but don’t worry about it. It’s a Algiz or Eolh, and is used for protection. Tyr does make the T sound, but also represents the god Tyr who was the lawgiver and stands for doing the right thing.
Anyway, I’m not against courtesy to those who are suffering from PTSD (Post Trump Stress Disorder), and I am for taking a firm stance against the people who think this administration gives them permission to discriminate and abuse other groups, but currently on facebook people are so stressed about it, we aren’t having rational discussions, we are fighting, doing exactly what those who want to keep us from organizing against them want us to do. I’d rather look at kittens and pictures of people’s meals.
I’d also rather read- I continue to stay up too late reading the Haunting Danielle series- the lady who sees ghosts, and runs an Oregon B&B. The twists and turns never slow down, the hints are good, but I don’t always get them. The characters are appealing- unless they are meant not to be. This week I’ve read the Ghost of Valentine Past, The Ghost from the Sea, and The Ghost and the Mystery Writer. I’m really enjoying the series and highly recommend it. I continue to read the Encyclopedia of Drawing Techniques, and feel I really need to try some of them out. (Some I think I’ll never use as I don’t care for the effects- at least not the ones they use as examples.) I have also read a few more of Dad’s V mails. I am getting to know 19 year old Bob. He seems to be somewhere in the South Pacific, although I’m not sure where. He’s mostly interested in what’s going on at home- apparently his family took in another family for a while, and having them underfoot is driving Grammie crazy. 17 year old Dewey seems to have backed off on wanting to join the Air Force- for now, anyway. Liz reminded me of the head injury that probably meant he couldn’t be a pilot. When he was young (seven or so) he’d gotten hit by a car while dashing across the street to pick up a piece of ice from the ice truck for a little girl he fancied. In the last 10 years I had an X-ray get lost in the mail when going from one chiropractor to another in the same town, I guess whatever film they took of Dad’s noggin (whether as a child or during his induction) got lost somewhere between Augusta, Maine, and Boot Camp in South Carolina. I think he’d told me that before and I’d forgotten it. It’s fascinating to see how he writes differently to his father, his brother, and his mother. I also notice that he doesn’t have much slang that sounds differently from the way I remember him speaking my whole life.
I didn’t watch much this week- John Grisham’s The rainmaker seems to have been the final “courtroom drama” from when I requested a bunch of them. Rather depressing, since even winning, they lost. I saw the last two movies in the original Planet of the Apes movies: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, and Battle for the Planet of the Apes. It was clearly a civil rights metaphor by that time. John, who’s watched them with me, and I feel that it does look like after Battle Caesar may have changed the path of where the future was going, so that humans and apes could live together better. Or maybe not. It’s hard to tell what’s going to happen once a leader is gone. Both the old and the new series explored how hard it was to keep people (beings) who had been harmed from fearing and wanting to make sure those who’d hurt them couldn’t do it again, especially when they had the upper hand. Even as I wrote the letter a new exchange came across facebook about the Rune Sweaters. Someone who’d lived in Sweden during the 90s pointed out that they weren’t disturbed by memories of what Nazis did to their grandparents, they were afraid of what the neo-Nazis, who where the only ones they saw wearing the Thor’s Hammer and Runes, did to their friends. They were scared of the current users of the symbols. Can you “reclaim” or somehow cleanse a symbol that has been desecrated like that? The white supremacist nationalists have the bit in their teeth at the moment, and because the oligarchs have used their support to get in power, they aren’t reigning them in. I don’t think they really feel the same way, but I think they feel protected enough by their money and power that they don’t care what the lower classes do, and are willing to humor them. I might, like Lady Bracknell, suggest to them that this “reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution. And I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to?”
Well, I had more to say, but think I should close for the week. Please, do hit reply if you have anything. You want to tell me about.
” People who say money doesn’t matter are like people who say cake doesn’t matter—it’s probably because they’ve already had a few slices.” Limony Snicket
Next week holidays:
1 Baked Alaska Day, Candy-making Day, Serpent Day, Spunky Old Broads Day , Freedom Day
2 Crepe Day, Groundhog/ Hedgehog/ Marmot Day/ Candlemas, Heavenly Hash Day, Tater Tot, Kiwifruit Day, World Wetlands Day,
(First Friday: Working Naked Day, Wear Red Day, Bubble Gum Day, Give Kids a Smile Day
3 Carrot Cake Day, American Painter’s Day, Wedding Ring Day, “The Day the Music Died”
(First Saturday: Icecream for Breakfast Day, Barber Day, Take your kid to the library Day)
4 Homemade Soup Day, Stuffed Mushroom Day, Thank a Mailman Day, Create a Vacuum Day
(Superbowl Sunday, Popcorn Day)
5 Chocolate Fondue Day, Nutella Day, Disaster Day, Shower w/ a Friend Day, Weatherman’s Day
(Dump your Significant Jerk Day- 1st day of DYSJ Week)
6 Frozen Yogurt Day, Pay-a-Compliment Day, Lame Duck Day, Maple Syrup Day
7 Fettuccuni Alfredo Day, Ballet Day, Rose Day, “e” day, Periodic Table Day, Laura I Wilder Day
(First Wednesday: Signing Day)