August 6th, 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.
Because of stopping sales on Thursday, we were able to let Willow help at Lost and Found on Friday and still get out by dark. (Everyone had to be off site by noon Saturday.) I think we may have dawdled a bit because it did get dark before Willow crawled under the house to pull out the jacks and we had to light the propane light for her to see. I was saying goodbye to Alizaunde who had somehow hurt her knee- she guesses from not wearing her braces for a couple days because she’d ripped up her leg on some hardware cloth, and couldn’t have the compression on them. She says she hadn’t gone that long without her braces in years, so maybe that’s what they’re for. Willow did some healing on her knee, then I did, and as I was finishing I heard a small crash and Willow swearing, and saw a figure dash off toward the bathhouse. I called Kat and got no answer so figured that Kat had gotten burned putting the propane lamp away. I was almost right- Kat was taking the last load to the dumpster. SHE had hurt both her right arm and left hand (she lost strength in her strong hand, and dexterity in her dexterous hand) and had been in pain and less able than usual all day. I, having spent Thursday walking the ballots around, and then pushing to get out to the closing ceremonies, was tottering on my throbbing feet, so of course, Willow had to be the burned one. She applied cold, then we went down to the Chiurgeons to see if they had any silvadone. They didn’t but we got her a can of cold soda, and headed off to find dinner and an hotel. Felt badly about leaving Honour and Alex on their own, but we were all pretty useless by then. Luckily, we felt better after a long night’s sleep.
We’ve gotten so used to stopping at a museum to see a great exhibit (starting with when the Bog Mummies came to Pittsburgh) that we’ve started looking around for something to break up the trip home. This year we went to Penn’s Cave- not perhaps up there with King Tut, but at least we didn’t have to park a trailer in downtown Philly. Also, the diversion only took about three hours. And the cave was very cool. Since it was literally cool- 54º, and Kat had dressed for the hot spell that was going on when we left, we picked up a hoodie for Willow to wear this winter, and Kat to wear in the cave. The tour is a boat ride- about 55 minutes long, and the cave was sometimes lighted, and some details the tour guide, Dave, showed us with his flashlight. He told us that something isn’t considered a true cave unless it gets totally dark inside, and far enough in, it was totally dark. Personally, I liked the places where colored lights enhanced the rock formations. Also he told us that during the rainy period last month they had to close the tours because the level of the water was two feet deeper. Does that mean it was raining THROUGH the soil? We did get dripped on during the tour. They warned us not to touch the walls because we’d damage the cave, and Kat asked if that’s what they’d say if we came to one of the parts where we were warned to duck- “Don’t damage the rocks with your head!” They also have a wild animal park and we did see the deer grazing. I’ve always wondered if they let the predators in with the prey species and let natural selection take place in those “animal refuges”. I can’t imagine most predators would be sufficiently easy to spot to make them tourist attractions in any sort of natural environment. But perhaps I need to go to one. I know that when Dad went to Kenya on Safari he regretted not having a zoom lens on his camera because of how far away the animals they were showing tended to be. I also think that my feet felt much better after going down in the caves- an energy effect of all the limestone perhaps.
We stopped for supper at a restaurant Willow had seen on Man vs. Food, called Granite Steak and Lube. It’s famous for chicken wings (and fried pickles), and we each took a different type. Sadly, Willow also drank three huge glasses of sweet tea and that’s probably what sent her to the bathroom where it all came up. She hopes no one thought it was the food. We got in about 1:30 am, unloaded the perishables, and went to bed (as soon as Willow had changed her bedding and turned her futon.
Willow went out Monday for milk and a few essentials and got the first local corn of the year. It was as delicious as expected but I was a little sad because this is the first time in years I haven’t had goats to whom to feed the corn husks. I’m also saddened by the sound of chopping and grinding from the orchard above us. Apparently they are chopping it down and chipping the trees. I guess a new housing development will go in shortly. Sigh. Are we supposed to buy our apples from Washington?
Remember I told you that we had two weeks of mail waiting? This is it: I’m still going through it. And this is what it looks like unwrapped. (squee!)
Currently the handymen are painting the front doors red, and have worked around to the back of the house. Paul (who does most of the electric) has got most of the lights working that had stopped- in Kat’s room, in the pantry, in the bathroom, etc. It’s amazing how we just learn to put up with things that we don’t know how to fix. I am proud to announce that, after I picked up the wire to replace a lamp cord I think a cat had chewed, I rewired the lamp myself! Paul has a little gadget that buzzes and blinks to show if a wire is hot- so I let him do anything connected to the house circuits, but I did the lamp and now it works. Go me! Since they’ve been so efficient, it looks like we will have money to put shelves into the keeping room. I am NOT looking forward to taking everything out of it so they can, but it will be a great opportunity to get rid of stuff I shouldn’t be keeping anymore. Speaking of work I don’t want to do, I do hope that I’ll be able to get the guys who finished the hallway floor to sand and finish the kitchen, dining and living rooms. It looks SO good. Of course if I do that I’ll pretty much have to repaint the kitchen- but that can be WAY later.
Sadly, the fumes from the paint or maybe the filler they used on the door where some dog gouged it trying to get in is giving me a nasty headache. It seems that the more careful you are to remove toxins from your life, the more strongly the ones remaining have an affect. I wonder if it’s like someone who’s shouting a warning getting hoarse and figuring they won’t bother any more if no one is listening when it didn’t seem as bad before. It’s confusing. We need some dirt and germs to keep our immune systems working. Vaccines are based on the idea that if your body recognizes the interloper it will fight it off better. Historically, people would take small doses of poisons to build up a tolerance to it. Yet with allergies, it seems repeated exposures make the allergy worse. Human bodies are complicated.
Today I asked Paul what he was doing, and he’s made and is painting wooden brackets to hold up the gutter. Some years ago when our basement was flooding, Wally suggested we get gutters and that stopped the flooding. When they re-did the roof, they discovered the metal brackets had rusted, so they figure wooden ones will last better. So they made them. I love these guys!
Not surprisingly, we haven’t watched many movies in the last couple of weeks, although the girls did watch Brave the Thursday before we left. I had seen it in theaters and loved it, but they didn’t go when I did, and I got to listen as I worked and also enjoy their laughter and enjoyment as they watched it for the first time. Brave is one of the best movies Disney has made lately. We have to get a copy, and I think Willow wants a Merida action figure- but it has to be one that looks like Merida in the movie. A lot of the dolls have the same faces with just different hair and eye color and clothes. Given the wonderful differences they put into the characters, I can’t imagine how they can let the people who make the merchandize blow it so badly. It’s like the Monsters Inc character. I’ve wanted a Sully doll since the first movie came out. But I don’t want a PLUSH Sully, I want one with shaggy hair. They put a lot of work into making Sully furry. The stuffed Sully’s I’ve found so far have all be like velveteen. Sully is shaggy. I found one with good fur, but the face was wrong. Sigh. Willow and I are both fussy, but we aren’t too big to play with dolls.
“First we save the day, then we eat.” Stormgard Motto
“So long and thanks for all the fights”-
this was on the back of the P42 booklet. It’s a reference to “So Long and thanks for all the fish.” In the Douglas Adams (5 vol.) trilogy The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Many things this Pennsic referred to this in-joke. 42 is put forward in that book as the answer to “Life, the Universe and Everything”. The design on the badges was a pot of petunias thinking “Oh no, not again”. There were others references as well, and I am left wondering how many of the ten thousand or so attendees were getting these jokes. Not that Adams isn’t popular, but I am ambivalent about subjecting the entirety of the population of Pennsic to a SF joke. A medieval joke, sure! But just because it’s fun doesn’t mean it belongs at Pennsic. Perhaps when trying to pick something the organizers were suffering sleep deprivation and decided, “oh, hell, why not?”
Back to my normal chaotic life next week. May yours be just as interesting as you want.
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, across from Arab Boy- 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.
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.
Sorry about my disjointed organization. I am really tired. My job for this week is to stay off my feet, recover, and get through back mail. When I’m recovered enough I’ll get back into working on the house and get into gear with the con. In my efforts to stay off my feet, we didn’t unload anything but the perishables from the car until Wednesday, which meant that my journal didn’t come in for days, and that’s how I keep track of what’s going on. You may think I have a wonderful memory, but in fact, like Indiana Jone’s father “I write it down so I won’t have to remember it.” (or maybe because that helps me remember it). Mother was a great maker of lists, and so am I. I think that some people just recall things better when they write them down. On the other hand, I remember that when I was in school I generally remembered better what was going on in class by the drawings in the margins than in my notes, and I know that when I look at a sculpture or painting or embroidery, I remember what I was listening to or talking about while I did it. So it may not be just the written word that does it. It may be simply a visual/kinetic function. I bet there are studies about that somewhere….
At any rate, to continue my sharing about Pennsic wonderfulness:
I forgot to tell you that when Willow got the Chinese food for our last meal here, Yummy Yummy, the Milford Chinese restaurant we’ve been going to had changed management again and this one ran it into the ground so badly that it had closed. So we went back to China Star, where we’d first started until May and her family (who ran it) left, and it’s now got good food again. And chickens in the yard, which I find appealing. I told you about the back yard being cleared, but not that I was sad because apparently we’ve lost at least three of the cherry trees I was hoping he’d be clearing around. I was expecting him to use a brush hog or something, and he just used some huge scary machine, which was quick, but he didn’t clear AROUND the trees, and I’d hoped he would. Maybe I can get something to clear around them myself (as I should have been been maintaining them all these years).
Other things we did while “getting out” was print more “pirate quote game” quotes that Kat cut and rolled and tied up in those quiet days before we started selling. I am always amazed how people are willing to trade a quarter for a scrap of paper. I’ll admit that the quotes are fun, but I still have trouble thinking about spending money on a little prize. (However, Kat has pointed out I do buy novelty ice cube trays, and that is similar- spending money on silliness because it makes you smile.) During the “rest” period since we’ve gotten back Kat has finally gotten around to watching Firefly to get more quotes for the Science Fiction Quote game. (and we’re just now trying to get into Arisia and Darkover).
I also forgot to mention that once down there, while chasing about trying to get ready for sales, we stopped at a diner called Kings (a western PA chain) at which their signature dish is a “Frownie”, a brownie with a frosting sad face on it. They also have HUGE portions- Kat got beef tips on noodles, and I got chicken Alfredo- normal size, and I’d serve the portions we each got to a family of four! I can only imagine what the large size would be!
We also stopped to pick up some more floss for Willow. She decided that her “work tunic” was too beat up. We always put a set of garb aside to wear during set up. While some people like to wear jeans and t-shirts while setting up their camps, I’ve always felt that when you’re at an event, you wear garb. You can wear fancy garb at court, and old grubby clothes in the kitchen or for carrying wood, but at an event, wear garb. They worked in these clothes, so can we. Willow’s been wearing one of her father’s old tunics, and made herself one in green. She designed some otters in Celtic style, and those are around the neck, and she’s putting waves around the sleeve and skirt hems. (This may take a while. Kat is wearing the one I embroidered marigolds down the front back in `76 I think. That took me all year.) I’m still adding motifs to my “green shirt”- even though I don’t fit it any more. (I can dream- and I did lose 3 pounds while out there.) She won’t take a picture of it because it’s “not done yet”.
She worked on it each day while she was at Lost and Found. She discovered last year that she loves Lost and Found, but she’s also determined not to end up running it (wise child). I worked there for a few years, and it is a great place. So hopeful! People turning precious stuff in, people being reunited with their lost stuff. Even when they haven’t found it, there’s always hope. There’s also a fun attitude- they have a box of marbles, for the people who say they’ve lost their marbles. The lepers used to come by and ask if we’d found a nose or finger or ear, so one year I picked up a few plastic ones at Halloween and had them to offer them to identify if they could. Those seem to be gone, but Willow found a box labeled “Virginity”, (there’s a section for items lost last year), and inside there was a flower. But it’s a useful place, I feel good about it. They get a lot of feast gear and jewelry (things that you leave behind, or fall off). There’s a special section out on the battlefield for weapons and armor. Once someone brought in a tire that had apparently fallen off a car while it was driving. Someone brought in a whole chest. I remember a king coming in- he’d lost their battle flag (oops). One thing that’s changed since I worked there is that with the prevalence of cell phones, now they can now call people if they leave their cell phone number on a “lost item form” and they believe it’s their item that’s been turned in. We used to have to use heraldry. (Licenses, kept with wallets in a locked box) are returned through security and “troll”.) Willow did most of the calling since we have unlimited calls, and the other L&F folk were running out of minutes. Mistress Johanna, who runs it, loves her because she’s so competent and pleasant. I think it’s a natural place for a finder like Willow. She’s good at remembering the items she’s seen go by. We decided to make sure she had time to work Lost and Found the last day when everyone is packing up and discovering both things they don’t recognize, and missing things that they thought they knew where they were. That last day is crazy, but at least they have it. When I was working there, they packed up L&F for the year the day before the war ended!
Aside from Lost and Found, Willow made the mini-site tokens for the dolls (and teddy bears). She traded some to Hobbitronics for a huge pile of beeswax, and gave them free to anyone who asked. She also made jewelry, and helped Kat run the shop. (I’m not as good as they are at sales.)
I didn’t get to do as much art as I’d hoped- knowing I was busy I took less art supplies- sadly, I was missing my large charcoal pad and the gentleman I’d drawn two years ago brought his wife back to get a matching sketch. And they want me to do an oil painting for them. So that’s a good thing. But we didn’t take the ceramics, except for the ones we took out of the kiln the day we left. We thought we’d packed them, but took the wrong box. We have had two, and while packing Willow grabbed the one that contained the Loom Weights (I figured, women out there are using warp-weighted looms with hand spun thread, but weighting them with sacks of rice or bottles of water because they can’t find loom weights- they’d want them. So far I have not been proven correct. Interestingly, I read a paper this year that indicates that the reason we may have so many loom weights around is because they may have just buried a woman’s loom when she died rather than have someone else take over the project. We DO know that there was some level of magick associated with spinning and weaving, so maybe it depended on just what she was weaving. I will admit that I made a mistake when I made these out of white stoneware. I should have used cream or brown- people keep thinking they look like powdered donuts. Still, it was a disappointment to open it and discover we’d left the cookie stamps and other ceramics at home. I did only one other sketch- but really, it was because I was so busy doing other stuff.
It’s hard to remember what I was doing because the time flew by so swiftly. I know I spent a couple of days on the lap-top trying to finish the handouts (not whole booklets, just something with a bibliography and some basic information to give people), and only managed to get the Anglo-Saxon Coins done. For the others I actually brought the modern device to class and used it to feed me my notes. For me that was very embarrassing.
I did four RúnValdr classes, three of the Anglo-Saxon Sex/Gender Role classes, and two each of the Coins, and Travel & Trade classes. None of them was huge- not even the sex class- probably because they asked me to call it Gender Roles rather than Anglo-Saxon Sex. It WAS about sex. The penitentials actually got into fairly specific discussions about everything from positions to participants, although when the Normans came along, they got squeamish and descended to euphemisms, which makes research difficult, and must have been a bitch to use in confession. (To talk about it was an occasion of sin, so not only were you committing another sin in confessing it, you were also involving the priest in a sin because he was hearing it. It got pretty ridiculous.) I guess the most interesting aspect was that there were no laws about most sexual acts, only church rules against them. Rape was a property offense against the value of the woman to her group, but assault was against the woman herself- resulting in split payments.
I guess the key point to doing these classes is that in an hour you can only cover the very basic part of most subjects, so by the time I’ve done that, the hour is up, and I don’t really need to be an expert on them. It’s just a way to share basic information. Of course, what’s basic to one person is new to another, and that’s what makes the SCA so interesting: other people who get excited about the details of how people used to live! I caught a class on opus anglicanum- an embroidery style where they cover the surface of the cloth with a solid mass of gold thread, couched down so that all the gold’s on the front, not the back.
I should also mention that this picture, and a few others are from Eleanor, and some are Willows, and thank them for using them. I have spent hours since getting back from the war looking at the pictures other people took there. Eleanor’s pictures of the incredible stuff in the Arts and Sciences Display made me feel like a yutz for not going down to the new ugly metal barn where it was being held.
Some of the time I spent at the war was on my Arastorm’s Merchant Appreciation Award. I was rather disappointed- despite running display ads in the paper every day from the very beginning, and having voting places all over the market (Arwen’s, Wolframs, Hrimgynar’s, Renaissance Reproductions, Pillaged Village, and Ian Grove’s), we still only got 60 votes turned in. (Many people had taken ballots away with them saying they’d bring them back- I really think they were caught by the abbreviated war. We’d had to stop the voting Tuesday to get the results to the paper Wednesday to get it into the last paper on Thursday.) We’re all used to sales going to Friday.
Also we TOLD people that we weren’t going to count any votes for us- but we still got 12. (They count as compliments, not votes.) The winner Galen at Game Gnight, got 5. The rest of the votes were fairly evenly distributed. The idea of the “contest” is that I’m trying to get people to think about merchants differently, and in theory, if you have to pick one favorite merchant, you’ll realize that there are dozens who teach and do incredible crafts-work and have incredible displays and are helpful and kind and make Pennsic a better place. If it weren’t for the merchants, it wouldn’t be a town, it would be a bunch of people camping and fighting. (OK, the university makes a difference too- their final count of attendees in the classes indicate that about 10% of attendees went to at least one class a day. I think that’s about the same as the number of fighters and fencers who participate in combat every day.) But I’ll bet you that over 90% of people at Pennsic shop! Galen not only spends his day teaching people how to play medieval games, he also teaches hurly (a Celtic club and ball game) on the battle field. One of the comments on the ballots mentioned that the person had spent more time at Galen’s than he had at his own camp. (Some people really like games!) So Thursday, we presented him with the purse and a plaque that notes him as the Pennsic Merchant of the Year for P42. I’d like to think that will mean something one day.
Toward the end of the war Joanna of the Singing Threads sang us a song she’d written (to the tune of the Ballad of Lizzie Borden) that you “Can’t get a Laurel in the Middle Kingdom” (if you’re a merchant). She’s also seen how merchants are disrespected in the SCA; hers is the bards response. Many folk seem to feel that offering your skills and their products for sale somehow cheapens the skills and you, and you shouldn’t expect any thanks from the SCA, after all, you are getting money. Interestingly, she had actually filked it to “you can’t swing a broadsword when you’re in the forest”- one of Michael Longcor’s songs about Pennsic Four, and had never heard the Lizzie Borden version before. We were delighted to share it with her.
We did go down to see Michael/Moonwolf perform Sunday night, and he did sing that song although he said he didn’t want to. It’s a favorite of the crowd- even though his version disagrees with both Ælfwine’s and Angus’ versions of the verse about Angus. I’ll give him the possibility that the parts from the people he knew may be more accurate. It seems he too has health problems and is no longer fighting. Neither is Finnvarr de Taah, and probably not Cariadoc. I saw him, and Jehan, and Signy, so I am not the person who’s been around longest by at least several years.
After the Moonwolf concert we went back home, grabbed a bite to eat and came back to watch I Sabastiani (“the greatest Commedia del Arte company in the Entire World”). This year’s tale of romantic entanglements and mistakes was unique in my experience. I became a bit suspicious when one of the troupe told Liam St. Liam that they’d saved him a seat right down front, and they spread large canvases over the stage. Then midway through the show some who weren’t on the stage brought out more lengths of cloth that they’d put over the laps of the front row (including Joanna and Scott). A bit later I saw them bringing one around the other side as well. One of the characters in this story was a cook, and he was teaching the young beautiful daughter to cook, showing how oil and water may not mix, but with flour make pastry. After intermission they brought out the kitchen tables again, and rather than cooking ingredients they were piled with pies. Real pies. I’m thinking the troupe had done a great deal of baking of shells just before the war, and then filled them with many cans of various pie fillings in many lovely colors: Blueberry, cherry, peach, an impressive array- and many topped with whipped cream. So it came as little surprise when everyone (in lovely white night dresses and caps) came on for the final scene, and to no one’s surprise, except possibly Liam, a pie fight broke out. The next day I went to his “Liam’s greatest SCA hits” class where he mentioned that the protective coverings had not reached him, and he had, indeed, not been forewarned. I don’t remember what he was wearing. I hope it didn’t get stained. Liam I think was chosen because he has a great sense of humor. I’ve never seen or heard of a pie fight in Commedia del Arte before, and now wonder if they had them or this was just a bit of silliness. (Joanna got to take one of the few un-thrown pies home.)
That was Willow’s birthday, and that’s about all we did for it. We did bring a few gifts from home- mostly copies of Prince Valiant, which didn’t seem to clash with the Pennsic feeling. We’d given her a few presents in the days before we left, and a few having been sent for in the mail were waiting when we got back. At the war I took the opportunity to pick up some lovely cashmere raspberry pink wool, and a batch of green dyed sheared “opossum” furs to trim them with. (She’d wanted to make a period coat in those colors.) Several of her friends at war wished her happy birthday, as well as many messaged her birthday wishes via smartphone. We also got a little cake from the bakery, which we ate the next morning. We’d gotten so used to going to sleep soon after it got dark, by the time we got back from the Performing Arts Pavilion we just threw ourselves into bed.
It was really hard for us to stay up until twelve for Midnight Madness, which was held on Wednesday- as usual- even though Thursday was the last day of selling. The whole point of Midnight Madness was to do something to spur sales in the middle of War week when they died off between the two weekends. Due to the abbreviated week, the timing was ridiculous this year, but I am hoping that we’ll get our last day back next year.
My first class was one of the first of the war, and I had over 40 people attending. That was Tuesday, I’d left John (from the Three Bears camp), with Hiram, Jeremy and Ian stripping the broken clapboards off the roof and came back to find it well on its way to being finished. They were fast! Willow had actually heard of the Three Bears camp, or had noticed it as they passed. They have an herb garden and a dome oven, a common dining area as big as our hall with chandeliers, and more. They also have a “good quotes” board. One that I had to have explained was from the six year old. Apparently after hearing about gluten intolerance, when the conversation turned to lamb fries/prairie oysters or whatever you want to call them, he announced that he was “testicular intolerant.” I got to see this when they invited us up to dinner. We had to wait for an evening when I wasn’t doing any evening classes, but it was lovely. They had dozens of dishes including bacon wrapped asparagus, venison, some Chinese dishes that were good but I didn’t recognize, and so much more that I had to invoke my rule that when your plate is full you stop even if there’s more good food that I haven’t tried (so I did not take this opportunity to try the octopus). If I can’t fit it on my plate, I probably shouldn’t try to fit it into my belly. It turns out that this is the camp where Maria and Carl stay and where Ælfwine went out to visit them every year while I stayed at our camp. What opportunities I missed! Carl/Charles seems to have recovered very well from the chemo and looks great- although he, as the rest of us, has aged. I keep expecting all my friends to look as they did when we first knew each other in the SCA. I was blown away by seeing Chris this year, he’s sixteen, the age Tamooj, his father, was when we first knew him. It’s not so much his face, but the way he moves reminds me of young Tamooj. I expect that’s why people keep coming up to Willow and addressing her as Arastorm or Your Excellency. I was never that blonde, but it’s flattering to have them expect me to still look like that!
Did I mention that when Kami arrived and saw my new roof she talked John into putting the same roofing on Alizaunde’s booth? Without the risible roof it was much more straightforward. She (Alizaunde) still wants to get roofs installed over the fold out floors, and preferably extend the fold-out floors to give her a better selling area. Alex came with her this year and was more helpful than he’s been in the past. I guess he’s maturing.
She spent most of her energy on the Siege cooking competition, and passing out tokens to people who garbed their children well. We each have our personal crusades. She also rescheduled several classes because she’d arrived late because of some bureaucratic mess at home. She has a camper, which in theory should allow her to go to events, but the gas mileage is so bad that she is hesitant to take it anywhere. I think she needs to get a moped to go with it. Then when she arrived, she discovered that a raccoon had gotten into the enclosed part of her shop and shredded her mattresses, and made a stinky mess over everything. So John and his crew also put hardware cloth over every possible opening to prevent a recurrence. Claus was one of her judges this year again, but I hardly got a chance to even peek at the entries because I was generally flying by myself. I think we both need to learn to schedule down-time! I hardly even saw Megan and Claus either!
I did manage to have a marvelous New Normal with Oberon Zell on the first Wednesday night. The first few days the Coopers Wi-Fi allowed me to get to the Internet on my laptop, but by the time there were five thousand people on site, it was impossible. Luckily for me the Magic Mirror is an Internet cafe- and even though they closed at 7 the first week, they opened to let me do the show. The next week they were open until 9, and I worried that I’d bother some of their other customers, but sadly, I didn’t even get on, or maybe I was on and off- I never actually heard my own voice, and I haven’t dared to check and see if they recorded the fiasco. The Mirror had power problems and no one was able to get on-line, so I gave up. I had no guest and was going to talk about magick in history, so wasn’t really terribly upset about blowing it off. I much prefer a dialogue on the show, although I’m good with talking non-stop for an hour during a class, so I suppose I’d have been OK once I got going. Next year I want to get Dr. Best who teaches classes on divination and magic and does readings at the war every year. I think a guest I could actually see would be fun!
We did a bit of shopping ourselves. Our big purchase was, of course, re-roofing the shop, but I also got a couple of books (big surprise), some new wrist clasps at Raymond’s quiet press, and a reproduction of the Prittlewell Prince cup from Arab Boy. (I broke the glass I’ve been using for years, sigh.) Willow also got a similar one- but from somewhere else. Kat got a Saxon style Gold Key for her badge of office. Because our wooden plates were actually furry when we got there, I picked up three metal plates at Wolframs for us to use. I think mostly what we got was fabric. JoAnne doesn’t carry as much nice linen and wool, and charges twice as much, so we stocked up for the year. Kat was mostly interested in fabric for her next cosplay, and I will admit that we are now spoiled. Polyester really isn’t as comfortable, so we want the right fabric. I got a lovely piece of rust colored fabric to wear over my teal gown, and a saffron veil to go with it (the two match different strands of amber I have). I really wanted to buy a pair of windingas (the strips of cloth that saxons wound around their legs); they’re now available from several merchants running from $35 to $100 a pair. Since it’s the equivalent of a pair of stockings, you can see why I’ve hesitated. I should probably make myself a set.
Having filled the barn with Pennmart, the Coopers have built another barn- this one is very much a modern metal shell, whereas at least the old barn has great wooden posts and beams. I am offended by it, and also it’s beyond the University, so I didn’t go down to see the Arts and Sciences display this year. Since I’ve gotten home I’ve seen pictures of some of the stuff that was there, and perhaps I should have gotten off my high horse and hobbled down there. I DID make my way out to the battlefield to participate in the countdown at the closing ceremonies- I’m SUCH a showoff. I wondered out loud why Cariadoc never went to them, and one of the girls pointed out that he goes to great lengths to keep his Pennsic experience medieval and to see who’s been to the most Pennsics (although he created the event) would be to get out of the medieval headset. Also, let’s face it, we are getting older, and even dying off. At least this year I had no friends for whom I felt a need to attend the Viking ship burning.
The last day we had our traditional Corned beef dinner. Kami had asked if I had one or she should bring one and I said yes bring one- figuring that if one of us forgot we’d still have one. We had two, so we had LOTS of corned beef to share. I’d expected Joanne and Scott, but they didn’t show, so we invited Galen, Rose and Kat from Hobbitronics, and a few others- I was so tired by then I couldn’t remember. That was Thursday, and I’d spent the day delivering the ballots to the merchants. Even those that don’t win at least get the compliments people wrote down about them. Merchants just don’t get to hear how much people appreciate them enough, in my never-humble opinion. The night before was midnight madness, and while most of the merchants opened late, I was up for a nine o’clock class anyway, and besides, it was the last day of sales! Not only did they stop us a day early, we had to stop before dark (which is when we usually bring the goods in). Phooey on whoever made those decisions! I blow a raspberry at them! Thweppp! Anyway, we brought out the available booze- tripped over a special limited edition of Captain Morgans. It was nice. People got a bit silly- but that’s really hard to tell from being over-tired.
The weather this war was incredibly good. We only had a couple of showers- remember, I sleep outside under a tent roof, (in the most incredibly comfortable bed at Pennsic!) and I didn’t get wet. We did discover that there are a couple places where the roof ends that we need a gutter and or downspout. One of the light showers was during one of my RúnValdr classes- in our back yard, so we brought the benches under the east wing, and didn’t open those displays. (and of course, it stopped raining).
I do want to tell you about Cormac More the herald who made the daily announcements. “Cormac More, Your voice at the war, waking you up every morning with soothing dulcet tones…” actually, he came through Bow Street about nine am, and I got to really enjoy it. Every day he said that the announcements were brought to you from a different source, the Chivalry, the Laurels, the Pelicans, Roses, then the Marshals, the Heralds, even toward the end I think Belly Dancers and Fencers. The heralds were described as “When you absolutely positively have to get it in eight or nine months” (which is the time it takes to get your arms processed). The last day I went to Odyssey Coffeehouse and got him a Mocha Slushie. He’d never had one, so I got to show him how good they were. We got about 20 or so over the course of the war ourselves. They are the new “Pennsic Crack”- what they used to call the whole chocolate milk from a local farm. They still have chocolate milk, but it’s not as good as that farm’s milk was.
So long, and do you know where your towel is?