Hi- it’s September 3 as I begin this letter, but I’m going to try to cover what went on a Pennsic this year. It’s already hard for me to remember, but I like the idea of a chronicle without too many holes in it, so I’m going to give it a shot.
Pennsic this year was from July 29th to August 12. Because of having been on Cipro for UTI for the second half of July, I did a lot less of the prep than I should have. As I began to come out of the fog, I decided to only write one page hand-outs for the classes I was doing: The Wild Hunt, The Evil Eye, Forest Law in England, the Anglo-Saxon Otherworld, and Anglo-Saxon Saints. I’d figured if there were classes for 12 days, and I didn’t teach on the Midnight Madness, and the Thursday after when we’re distributing the Merchant appreciation award compliments, that left 10 days for me to teach- one class at the shop, and one down at the university for each.
The topics were very exciting and I hope I can get to making booklets out of them. I also want to take the booklets I’ve got and send them down to Lulu where they’d be self published in a nicer format. (Sorry Staples.) I do think I’ll have to double check all the illustrations. Everything must be in public domain. What I put in an informational handout that I’m asking donations for copying costs on, is not the same as selling something.
I figured that as the Cipro finally wore off, I’d be less and less tired as Pennsic went on. Also that last week I checked in with the doctor, worried about a relapse (I didn’t want to be sick at Pennsic). But as Liz had predicted, after the UTI comes a yeast infection, cleared up in 3 days with Monostat. It has become a great comfort to me to talk to Liz about my health. She has seen a lot and can usually reassure me, often predicting what the diagnosis will be. We all missed the Lyme disease!
Willow and Kat went down to Boston on the 28th, visited with her friends, snacked, played Pokemon Go and generally had a good time. I was home printing out the handouts most of the day. The 29th, Friday, she packed up the trailer and van (her car was STILL not back from the shop), and we headed out around 2. We wanted to leave at noon. Between the late start and the poor van not being able to do the speed limit, we didn’t get in to our hotel until I think maybe four am, which seems an awful waste of beds. Still I was ready for it. On the way I got something in my left eye and it started hurting, so Willow drove most of the way herself. We got up way too soon, had breakfast and got in line at Pennsic Saturday morning noonish. And yes, we sat there for a couple of hours, but still, with thousands of people coming in, I think they did pretty well.
This year the tokens were “gold”, round, with two extensions with holes for the string. As things go, the tag looked like a Roman bulla, so not quite so disruptive to garb as many of the designs have been, and something Willow could fake on her dolls version of the medallions.
Because of the heat, Kat and I were both slowed down- Willow soldiered on, and I noted in my journal that in the Middle Ages she would probably have become a saint. We got the booth emptied- our beds out and the porch roofs up- only one mouse nest this year. It was put on a flat space this year, and we had to cut down some of the supports to fit the new space. Come dark we put the trailer away and went into Butler for dinner- where we met the Queen of Atlantia at Applebees, but didn’t feel up to the “stock up” run, and did that on Sunday.
Because of the general craziness of the Oval, there was space for the class tent right on Bow Street, and we bought a bunch of flowers to make it look good, including a rose bush. We’d brought morning glories, but they didn’t grow or bloom this year. In the afternoon there was a spectacular storm that we weathered as well as could be. Our neighbors had two tents go down. I had to rearrange my furs so the damp ones were on the outside, and made stew. I wanted to make toast points, but couldn’t get the oven to work.
Monday was the first normal day of Pennsic. I noticed that classes at private camps and after 6 don’t show up on the schedule and worried that maybe no one would notice mine, but that didn’t seem to be a problem. (I get way too sleepy in the heat, so schedule either at 9 am or 6 or 7 pm, so I can think clearly. Good thing too!) Except that while we were sitting down to dinner, a runner came up-I’d mis-read the booklet and that night’s class was at 6 not 7. Oops, they flagged me a golf cart and whisked me down there to a full tent (most of whom were able to stay late to make up for my tardiness).
That was not the last golf cart I used to get to the University Tents, although it was probably the easiest. Every year they try to improve how Pennsic runs, and this or last year they changed the way the “handicap help” carts work. Used to be if you weren’t up to hiking a half mile, or mile to wherever you were going, you’d flag down a cart (security has golf carts and walkie talkies) and they’d call a cart. It would come get you, drop you where you were going, and usually find out when you needed a ride back. There might be a wait, but you knew you didn’t have to walk it. Now admittedly, we are a town of 10K, and the rule is that no one asks what your medical condition is. You don’t need to tell them whether you just sprained your ankle, are pregnant or have a heart condition, you ask, they drive. Considering the numbers and that we’re aging (and sickening), I can’t imagine that most people will get rides, only those who know about it and take advantage of the service. The change is that now they figure that “anyone” can walk a block or so, so they’ve created routes that loop through the North, West, and South sections of the camp, and IF as they pass by someone flags them down, and IF they haven’t reached their weight limit (often 300 pounds- which means one heavy person), and IF they see and hear you, you can get a ride to somewhere on that route- which may require you to catch another cart on another route and then walk another block (in the heat) to get where you’re going, and then try to get back the same way.
I do not think that this is reasonable. If you’re going to say you’re helping people who are mobility impaired, you should do so, not make up a fiction that you are. And did I mention that it closes down at 7 and opens at 9, in other words, can’t be used (by me) to get to my classes. I got this from the guy who is running it (and hope I wasn’t rude, because I tried not to be, while still pointing out how it didn’t work. On one trip the cart I was in couldn’t make it up the hill where the parking was, so detoured, cutting off part of that loop. Hope no one was waiting. The driver was stopped and reprimanded by the organizer for detouring. On the last day there was a new cart that could take 6 people- except that it wasn’t allowed on any non-paved road in case it broke, because it was 3 times as expensive as the others. One time I was trying to walk and a bus stopped and asked me if I could use a ride, which I took. As far as I can tell the routes of the buses are the same as the carts, and the only difference is can the person mount the steps of the buses? This is supposed to “save gas” but I dislike the idea of them cruising the loops empty hoping to spot someone who needs them when they could wait and go straight to them. I dispute the theory that “anyone” can make it a block (on a sprain?) or wait a half hour for a cart to show up in the heat (with a heart condition) or more if the cart is at it’s limit, or what if it doesn’t come because it can’t make it up the hill? (as opposed to sending one that CAN when it’s available),
I am sure that whoever it is did his best to come up with a solution, but I am also sure that this is not it. When I caught one to get to a class, I had a half hour wait, then a half our circuit to get almost back to the start, and arrived at the class an hour late. People with mobility problems are supposed to build that into their plans? Or just stay in camp! I’m offended. Not enough to volunteer to spend two weeks organizing the program for ungrateful wretches like me, but offended. Explain to me why the taxi form woulds better than the bus form. I think they just haven’t got enough money to cover it.
I also went over to the war room to complain a couple times- Joanna’s husband had a cart and she had him drive me there. The full season campers used to work for the Coopers during the war- but now they’ve hired a “cleaning” company to maintain the bathhouse, and it’s often filthy. I was there once when they came in, the lady went into the shower section, saw that all the showers were full, and left. There were usually huge clumps of hair in the showers. Unacceptable. Then when Kat was doing the laundry once, one of them came in, asked “is this anyone’s clothing?” and when there was no answer from the people there, swept a pile of clothes from the table into the trash. Totally unacceptable. I don’t know what she was told to do, but you don’t throw people’s clothes away! Whoever they belonged to may have just gone upstairs to use the toilets (showers and laundry downstairs, toilets upstairs), or stepped out for a smoke. Kat, of course, picked them out and took them over to Lost and Found. At town hall they said that’s handled by the Coopers, and Joanna had her husband drive me there. He told me to call him for pick-up, but they wouldn’t let me use their phone. Go up to Security and you can call a cart there. By the time I’d gotten up the hill to Security I was staggering, and they asked why I didn’t wait for a cart. Apparently the war room is one of the “stops” for the handicapped carts, but either they didn’t know, or they didn’t care. I was ticked, and someone did drive me back “home”.
That was the first night I slept badly because I was aching. When it hurt to move my eye, I started turning my whole head, then my neck started aching, then my shoulder and back. I met a nice massage therapist, and we traded some of our stock for a massage- sadly it didn’t help (now we know why). For the rest of Pennsic I tried different OTC pain pills: Aleve, Tylonol, Midol, Excedrin, Advil, Aspirin, … whatever someone suggested. I have had little experience with them (my headaches usually last no longer than 5-10 seconds although they are blinding), and was surprised by the dire warnings that you mustn’t take more than 3 or 4 a day or you will kill your liver. I don’t want to do that. Sadly though, they usually only got rid of the pain for 2 hours, then you have to wait another 4-6 before you can take another. While waiting for the pill to kick in as soon as it was legal for me to take it, I noticed that the pills never kicked in at all. Frustrating! During the (90º) heat of the day the pain wasn’t much, but when it cooled down at night it came back. Luckily, I found that hot water running over the muscles unknotted them and I was often able to go to sleep as soon as I got back to bed (the shower house being ~100 paces from our booth). I am so grateful that the Coopers put in on-demand hot water. It was wonderful! They have one handicapped shower stall, and I’d sit there with the shower head on my shoulder, and it was great! Sadly, as the war went on it got to the point where I was taking 8-10 showers a night. Not quite “unbroken” sleep.
In an attempt to help, Willow restrung my rope beds with half slats, which took care of the hammock-y sag, and made it a lot easier to get in and out of. They also had to get up in the middle of one night and re-chock it, because being slightly crooked means your muscles have to tense to keep you from rolling, and that was bad for my back. It really did help.
The day she took it apart I missed a wonderful opportunity. I noticed that the mattress was in the shade so lay down to rest for a minute it looked so inviting. I should have put a sign on my chest saying “I aten’t ded” especially as I was dressed in black that day. I actually slept several hours. Good thing I was in the shade.
I fear you’d have to ask the girls if I was any use. I really don’t remember much of the war. My classes went well, but I didn’t go to any. Indeed when we went to our traditional Sunday night out, after the Moonwolf concert, I had the girls take me back home- they missed Efenwystle, but were able to catch I Sabastiani. That shows how distracted I was that I’d skip that.
I wasn’t able to cook as I usually do. John from the Three Bears camp came by, and he completed the wooden box/stand Willow had started for the camp oven. Someone also figured out what I was doing wrong so we could use it- but didn’t. Later he disappeared for several days- he’d gotten a detached retina, gone to Pittsburgh, had it sewed back on, and came back to Pennsic after. I was clearly not the only one dealing with health issues! And when Rose, from Hobbitronics, arrived, she’d just totalled (and rolled) her car. Honour got in after finally getting her rig fixed, to get a call from the VA saying she needed to turn around and drive back to get another biopsy, because her last one was irregular. Have sold nothing yet, she didn’t have the money to buy the gas to do that. After much calling back and forth, a doctor finally said that it wasn’t the emergency it had been presented, two weeks later was fine. She believes it’s just the sort of irregularity in fat cells that runs in her family. (She mentioned several aunts that had had dozens.) But no one deals well with the Cancer threat being thrown at them. There are ten thousand stories in Pennsic city, and this is just one!
Wednesday of the War Week is “Midnight Madness” a day of staying open late because Wednesday had been a dead day for sales. Now sales drop Tuesday and Thursday as people wait for and recover from Midnight Madness, and people expect special sale prices. With that example in front of us, some of the Bow Street merchants have instituted “Beer and Cookies Night” on Bow Street to get customers in. I think people are going to have to know about it before it attracts any customers. Maybe it’s an excuse for the people with kegs to have their friends come in and join them on a slow night. I’ll try to remember and bring cookies next year.
John Kuberry came for War Week, and I was supposed to have finished a favor for him to wear while fighting, but didn’t get it done. He had a (wo)man at arms with him (Emily)- crazy authentic kit as usual.
Kat, meanwhile, has designed a panther (from her arms) design and started putting it on a carry sack made out of a cloak she wore when she was young. It’s coming beautifully.
Willow discovered that Joanna, who used to run Lost and Found, was back, and signed up to volunteer there 2-4 every day. Even better, they moved it up to “Town Square”, across from the store where Information, Disability, and other functions are, so it’s a two minute not a ten minute walk. They have less space, but are back to the old (functional) slips of paper, and with Joanna there, the atmosphere is much more pleasant than under the lady who was trying to change everything. HER superior has some policies with which I strongly disagree- like looking into people’s Amazon accounts to find out who lost cell phones belong to. She says it’s the most efficient way to get a name and address but I prefer the old method of calling the number given and seeing if any of the lost phones ring when someone comes looking. (yes, you have to keep them charged) Joanna practically thinks Willow walks on water, and gives her tokens of appreciation including a lovely amber pendant and earrings. She keeps asking her to become deputy, and Willow refuses. She loves having a place to go where she’s not in charge of anything.
On the day of the Lost and Found auction, all the other volunteers were taken to that, leaving Willow to run Lost and Found alone. Not a big deal except for Kat and me because the auction dragged out to 6 hours (that must include set up and clean up). And STILL Lost and Found has no budget!
Her big purchase this war was a period (except that it glows in the dark) goblet from Arab Boy. I thought about one of his Prittlewell Prince cups in green- we have one in blue, like the original, and in red, because red. I think it would be cool to have a varied set, but keep getting hung up on that it’s not authentic.
Kat’s special war bling was an Anglo-Saxon disk chatelaine like mine, only in silver metal. (I don’t know that it’s real silver). Willow traded all our broken bits of silver to Thomas the Lapidary for it. I think he may have the ability to just fix them and make them worth something again, which we don’t.
Another thing that changed this year was Mystic Mail (the internet cafe) is gone, and the Coopers have put in their own, where the store used to be. It’s very convenient to go over there for copies (I didn’t make enough handouts, and even at slightly larger fee, it’s so much better than going all the way to Staples.) One day my clock had fallen and I got another runner from the University. Willow ran ahead with the flyers (no time to get a cart if you’re in a hurry), and told them I was coming and one of my introductory stories, then she ran back to CLIC (Coopers Lake Internet Cafe), and got 30 more handouts- that one was in one of the Big tents, and good thing!
We also bought a lot of meat rolls and other baked goods at their bakery, and got the wood at PennMart. They know their customers.
At some point during the war, the same (it seems) scammer that stole my identity two days before we left, got hers, so her card was shut off too. Luckily I’d been able to get a replacement, and we used our emergency card after that (need to pay that back off), but darn these scammers! I suppose it’s natural that if money is electronic, someone will try to get it electronically. They may even see it as a “victimless crime”. (jerks)
Willow did a lot of running for me this year. She distributed the ballots for the Arastorm’s Merchant Appreciation Award, and collection boxes, (this year we put them in different places), and she collected them again Thursday. She even rented a rickshaw so that she could take me down to Carolina Calicos to present the award, which was nice, and picked up the stave of rattan for next year’s golden sword. I did not go shopping this year, although the girls got out once while I watched the shop.
This is NOT the way to miss the war. Do you remember the story of Pennsic 9 when I got the flu and sent Ælfwine off without me and the girls but with 15 gallons of mead? He kissed me goodbye, then I remember him kissing me again and telling him he had to go and he said “I’m back”. THAT’s the way to miss the war. And we got the great story of ransoming Gavin out of it. This year I was there, but can’t remember much more than I do of that one. What is here is what was culled from my journal- and I can watch my handwriting devolve into that of an old lady/invalid, and get more disjointed.
By the second week we’d called home and made an appointment with Dr. Quirbach for Monday. We also reserved a hotel room with a jacussi which I used several times (although I think a shower is better). When sales finished on Friday night, we opted against the usual communal dinner and just packed. Maria and Charlie came by and massaged my back which made it feel good, and brought me some home brewed ale which helped put me to sleep.
Willow did drive all the way home herself, and made me a lie-down in the back with bedding over the chests. Most of what I remember from the trip was a beautiful double rainbow when we stopped once.
So that’s our Pennsic for this year. Let’s hope it’s as bad as it gets. I think it speaks well for our set up that it works even with a “man down” sick. Great admiration for Willow and Kat for pulling it off without me. Luckily I don’t think we had rain after that first storm, but I may have just spaced it.
Obviously, I didn’t take much by way of pictures, sorry.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results