This week has been hot. I am sort of melting- wearing far too little clothing for my body type, so I hope no one comes to the door. I was out this weekend and able to appreciate some of the season. I especially noticed the various apple trees growing on the roadside. I figure if they are on the FAR side of a stone wall, they were probably planted, but if they are on the near side, they probably grew from a core being tossed out of a car window, and good for them! Most are still green, but some are beginning to show color, and they come in many sizes and shapes. If I had more time and energy I’d try to pick some of these volunteers to see what an uncultivated apple tastes like. Did you know that in the old days, they used to travel around with slips from the good apple trees for people to graft onto the hardy roots that were growing? I love the image of a horse and wagon with slips in damp cloth in the back, clopping from farm to farm so that people could get Spys, or Macs, or Jonathans, or whatever they wanted instead of whatever grew naturally.
At Harpers this weekend I did a weed-walk and we found lots of herbs: plantain, coltsfoot, bee-balm, dandelion, wintergreen, but no jewelweed, even down by the lake. No poison ivy either, so that could explain it. It is growing all over the back yard, as is goldenrod, and the New Hampshire asters are beginning to blue up the yard too. I fear the lettuce has all gone to seed. Wouldn’t it be lovely if it reseeded itself for next year? But I don’t expect it to do that.
The big happening this week was Harpers Retreat- an SCA event. Luckily it was only an hour away from us. Willow didn’t feel up to it. It turns out the girls really actively dislike camping. Sadly for them, I am really slow at picking up clues about things like that and they had to come out and tell me. Willow is still trying to recover from that wretched cold she got in Maine, and wasn’t up to it, but Kat felt she had to go as Mistress of Golden Key. We’d reserved for all of us, so Willow drove over on Saturday and was able to have the feast (more on that later), then she came back on Sunday and took Kat home so she could sleep in her own bed that night. I stayed, so I was able to go to the open Bardic Circle. Saturday after the feast they had the Bardic Circle where people were competing for the roles of Baronial Bard, Baronial Warrior Bard, and Children’s Bard. I think it’s great that they have those, but don’t like competition, so didn’t go to that one. Instead I just hung out with Ekke and Julia, and Kat and I (theoretically) got to bed at a reasonable hour. Not so Sunday. I didn’t get to bed until after two then.
There were some wonderful performers- Alfgar, the young Saxon I met at the war, sang the “Dwarves song” from the Hobbit movie (his brother and father accompanied him). Someone else sang “Song of the Shield Wall”, and another version of it translated into modern language. Since there was no need for strict authenticity, someone did “Mary Ellen Carter”, one of my favorite songs. There were instrumentals (which as Ruadh says don’t get enough respect), and stories and jokes. I did one of each- I sang Kipling’s “Lelage” from Puck of Pook’s Hill (after someone else did “Oak and Ash and Thorn”), and after midnight I did O’leary (was closing the bar). I was somewhat bemused because there was a call out for Kythe to sing Lily the Pink, and yet no one seems at all interested in “The King is a Fink” (which used to be inevitable). I don’t even know if there are verses for the recent Royalty. Sadly, I don’t know enough about them to write any! I was really annoyed to hear that Catherine du Fay’s song “Megan is Baking Today” has become traditional at some Renn Faires WITHOUT attributing it to her! The final verse is “oh you can sing one verse, or you can sing two, or if you’re inclined you can sing them all through. My only request is you give me my due: I’m Cathrine du Fay, and I wrote this…as you pass on your way to the sea.” That’s not hard is it?, but they just leave the last verse off! I am irate on her behalf! Authors deserve credit for their work! (Speaking of which, I discovered a wonderful “filk” of the Gilbert and Sullivan patter song from Pirates: “Modern Fundamentalist” by Marcus Bales, which shows a brilliant adaptation of Gilbert’s complex rhyming (as well as a wicked wit).
Another thing I discovered when I got home was a new meme going around the SCA facebook pages- people take a favorite picture of someone and caption it with what they do, ending with: “I am the East”. I did one for Kat, and want to make one for me- but have to photoshop one of me old and me young together so I can say “I have been the east for a very long time”.
Personally, I am loving this meme- most people put their names on their pictures, so I am able to get good pictures of friends- with their names. It’s like flash cards for me! And I admit that I probably spent a day looking at them, well, most of a day.
The thing is that I seem to have gotten conjunctivitis- or maybe I just got dust in my eye, anyway my eye hurts too much to wear the left contact, and that’s the one that is set to distance. Did I mention that? Thursday I went to the eye doctor and they gave me special contacts that are supposed to squish my eyes back into the right shape- like braces for my eyes. I immediately got a headache but it went away after a few days. I’ll get my bifocal contacts again later, but meanwhile I’m doing these adjusting ones. I was nervous because I thought they might just pick one distance, but they gave me one distance- good for driving, and one close, good for the computer, so I can do the things I need to do.
Only right now, I can’t wear the distance one, so no driving until I can again. Luckily, it feels much better today than yesterday. But yesterday I didn’t do much, especially because I was afraid to touch anything, in case I might leave conjunctivitis germs on them and pass it to the rest of the family. So I sat and looked at memes. Today, since the eye isn’t dripping all the time, I’m wearing a patch to keep from touching it. I wanted to share an image, but I’m not looking my best so I used the “heat sensor” effect. I doubt the computer actually does sense heat, but it sure feels like that’s an accurate representation- outside it is HOT, and I’m OK, sitting here with a fan on me.
I should say more about the event because it was so lovely. The feast was great. Maria and Xavier are back to trying non-baron stuff again, and did the cooking and organized the servers. They tried to organize by having everyone set up their feast gear between 1 and 3, so that we could just go sit down at 5. Sadly, not everyone got the message. I’d sent our feast chest down to Kat, asking her to set it up. Corwyn (who was the autocrat) had put Gold Key in the foyer of the feast hall, so I figured she could just nip in and do it- there wouldn’t be many people borrowing garb at that point. (Without Willow, I was running the booth alone, and the Arts and Sciences coordinator even sent the people who came to my classes over so I could teach without leaving our tent. A helpful gentleman offered to run it down, but I guess he didn’t pass the message. And we weren’t the only ones. When it was time for the feast, they had to add two tables and add people to “full” ones. About 20 more people than they’d expected! But they got us all in, happily, we got onto the table with Frostulf and Estefania. I really think that if we get used to the idea of setting up a couple of hours early so just about everyone does it, it will be a good system. I just have an horrible image of the kitchen crew rearranging plates to get the food spread across 25 tables, not 22. And how did they track that some tables had 9 and some had 8 or 7? And some had allergies or required the gluten free dishes? Well done!
They started with antipasto trays, then had pasta and breads and spreads. I thought it was odd to serve them together, but it’s apparently an Italian tradition, and seemed to work- good way to fill people up before the meat course. That included Chicken in a sauce, Salmon fillets, and Roast beef- which they brought out as a roast and carved as would have been done. The servers all had matching tabards and towels over their shoulders and processed in, bowing before distributing the bowls. There was also soup, rice, armored (cheesy) turnips, peas, and salad, and tarts and cookies to finish. Given the number of unexpected people, I was impressed. There was plenty of food. On the antipasto tray there was one of everything for each of us- from dolmas to mozzarella balls (more of the pickled carrots and lamb meatballs). The servers kept the pitchers full of delicious mint drink and ice water (which I managed to spill all over the table- oops). I’m glad Willow was able to make it.
The site (Camp Takodah) was lovely, although the new Barony signs are really hard to see and I gave Corwyn a hard time about it (before I found out he agreed). They have plenty of cabins, fields and function halls, and a nice kitchen. I hope we go there a more. Kat and I opted to not take the stove, just a cooler with bread, cheese and fruit, and we got lucky and Tom drove us up to Keene for a warm mean Friday night. I’d have tried, but was grateful for his help. Aside from the herbalism class I did one on divination. I was scheduled for one on Anglo-Saxon food, but if I did it I don’t remember anyone showing up. Willow got there Saturday just in time to help one lady use the square to charge some jewelry.
Having only the two of us there, and separated as we were- me in the merchant area and Kat down at the Gold Key, I needed help putting up and taking down, and it appeared! Wonderful people who’s names I am trying, but failing, to remember helped- beautifully. They even were good at sweeping the tent floor, and balancing the load in the trailer!
One unusual thing that took up space in the car was Mark’s stuff. Mark has decided to go from two storage lockers to one, and John and I went over to help on Thursday. On the outside was his SCA gear, and he decided to just keep one set of garb to visit, but pass the rest along. So we took a huge pile and put it out and everything but a couple of sets of kneepads and a broken cot were taken. Not surprising, there was a sleeping bag, a tent, folding chairs, garb, swords, pouches, axes (went to the throwing weapons people). Oh- and Sunday night there was a thrown weapons with glo-sticks contest (“What could possibly go wrong?”) I meant to go see, but never got away from the singing. All in all an excellently pleasant event. I even got to try to help with clean-up which I haven’t been able to do lately, since we usually have to rush home. (Of course, that might have been the source of dust in my eye.) Anyway, it has all found new homes, and that’s good. Frostulf fell in love with the swords and may come down to help Mark clean to recompense- if schedules can be worked out.
Another thing attached to the Harpers day was that we located several things that were still in the trailer after the war, like my red shoes and the box of books. Willow also sewed the trim onto my new blue linen coat sleeves while she was there (she hadn’t brought any handwork), and I sewed it down the front during the bardic. It looks great!
Yesterday Willow went to the seashore with her friends Raye and Joannie. She had a great time and didn’t get burned. Came back with a HUGE seashell.
Having found the book box I’ve read a few of the Prince Valiants that I gave Willow for her birthday, and the little book What was their Life? East Anglia. It’s an old book, (so old that they didn’t have the year it was published anywhere I could find it- I’m thinking early 50s) and some of the information is not current. I think it was intended for kids; the information is all presented as seen by a traveler, so it’s easy to take. There are lots of images (although they have the older reconstructions of the lyre as a harp and the helmet) which I liked a great deal, especially the image of the procession of goods to the grave ship. The author has chosen 656 a.d. as the burial- a year after the battle of Winwæd on the concept that the East Anglian King Æthelhere’s body would not have been recovered and early theories had the burial as a before they found chemical indicators of there having been a body. (Current theory holds that it is the grave of Rædwald, Æthelhere’s uncle.) There were a few other small updates modern historians would make (women didn’t wear paired shoulder brooches anymore except in Mercia), but it’s a fine little book. I hope to find more in the series.
I also read The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant. It is, of course, not unadventurous, but rather falls into the category of heros who aren’t ambitious or flamboyant, but are just nice guys who get into situations where they have to do more than they’d want to do. In this case, he was killed by a vampire who didn’t hang around to show him the ropes, so he just continued doing accounting (with allergies to sunlight and silver- so he works at night and watches a lot of videos). He encounters werewolves at his high school reunion, and then zombies at a LARP, and shape-shifters when he tries to spend Thanksgiving in Las Vegas. Along the way various folks in the paranormal community attach themselves to him because he’s a nice guy, and help him out when things become adventurous. Having a good mind as well as the moral highground helps. I enjoyed it enough to get the sequel Undeath & Taxes.
I did a bunch of updating on the CTCW website, and Brian managed to fix a glitch that was really causing problems for me, but I never managed to find a guest for my podcast tonight and have no idea what I’m going to talk about. On the other hand, I have four of our speakers scheduled for upcoming Wednesdays, so that’s good. Also I think we may have enough workshops at this point to fill the reduced (three room) schedule. I’ll have to check.
I got a call from Ben Conant, a gentleman I spoke to at Dad’s funeral who’s hobby is working on the Richards geneology. There are still folks out there who have Maine accents and it took me back to my youth! I also called my Aunt Patty, who he was trying to get in touch with. When she dies, my generation is going to be the oldest in the family- that’s a sobering thought!
Jane is still moving- most of the stuff was done over the weekend and now it’s the little stuff that is so hard to deal with. I can only sympathize from here. Megan also day-tripped to Harpers, she’ll be heading off to England again soon. She called me Tuesday morning to share that Aiden ni Lyr had died. Damn- she was in OUR generation, younger than me, I think! She also introduced me to the I am the East meme, so that was cool.
As usual I am totally disoriented by the long weekend and all day yesterday thought it was Monday, and thought today was Tuesday until I started the letter. And it takes SO long to get through checking email when I get three or four days behind. SO MUCH JUNK MAIL! Having caught up on that, today I’ve removed at least a dozen computer generated (most seem to be mailchimp) ads from my inbox today. Arrgh! How do they get our addresses, and why do they think anyone is going to buy anything from them when they are so annoying? This does not strike me as good marketing. “Hello, let me get you angry, now buy something from me.” Doesn’t make sense to me!
Well, I need to go do a podcast… until next week! (I took pictures at Harpers, but can’t figure out where I packed my camera- maybe next week I’ll post them!)
“Such things have often happened and still happen, so how can these be signs of the end of the world?” Julian the Blessed
Faith is the innate knowledge of the fundamental rightness of all things, whether positive or negative.- Process Precept