Sunday, July 29, 2001
A lovely experience: I got back this afternoon from Calontir's Kingdom Arts & Sciences Championship, held in the Barony of Lonely Tower (Omaha, Nebraska) in Calontir. Christian turned out to be a very good person to travel with: friendly, even-tempered even when sleepy, insistent on paying for things, and very musical--we had great music the whole way. We did sort of run out of things to say in spots towards the end of the drive today, but then, it's a LONG drive (~7 hours). Also I have never been good at distinguishing the uncomfortable silence from the silence resulting from feeling comfortable enough with someone to stop talking for awhile. Like many SCA members, I am (and will always be) STILL working on my social skills. ;)

The event was very nice, in a spacious and well-air-conditioned (thank goodness) Masonic Hall in downtown Omaha. In absolute truth, the actual event did not really fire me up that much. I have never been a fan of A&S competitions (in the Middle Kingdom they're called "Faires"...give me a break, if you're going to have people competing, it's a competition). Every time I explain my feelings to someone, they do their best to present all the positive aspects of these competitions. I agree that there are many positive aspects, and that the Arts & Sciences are dead central to what we do in the SCA (even, heretical thought, more central than armored fighting. Oooh! Now I've said it.)

I just don't like the competitive aspect. I don't want to compete with others, which is the inherent meaning of a system that assigns numerical scores. I am not in the SCA so I can put my heart and soul into a piece that I love, and hear that it is a 4. Or even a 5! All I'd be able to picture would be the people who got 4's and how I would feel if I were them. And if I got a 2 in something, or a judge found a hole in my documentation, or a judge was having a bad day and made a comment that I took to be inconsiderate or ill-informed, that'd be even worse. I am a person who gets a lot of compliments in the SCA, but I have a problem taking constructive criticism. One ill-aimed comment, a markdown in an area I thought I had covered, would return me to my first W&W and the growing conviction that I could say nothing right, that I would never know any of these people, that I was doomed to be confused and unnoticed forever.

I don't think this sort of competition has no place in the SCA, just that my place is not at A&S Competitions. That having been said, I saw some really amazing projects. Gorgeous hand-dyed wool yarn, some hand-spun, in rainbow hues. Two glass tankards, one painstakingly diamond-etched, one painted brightly with glass paint. A hand-carved wooden plate for making prints, with an assortment of prints made from it on different types of paper. I even got to help with Christian's Laurel's performance. She is this wonderful smallish woman with a gorgeous light soprano voice, who did an incredible performance of a Byzantine chant in Greek. Not what you hear every day! It was haunting and floaty and beautiful. I got to be a 'backup singer' (shades of the Pips!) doing a shifting drone note along with two other ladies, when they discovered one of the trio of backups could not make it to the event.

One thing I must say (and said publicly on the Northshield Hall list just now): it really brought home to me how much my experience of the SCA is made up of my experiences with people in the SCA. Just like I enjoy a bardic circle more if my bardic pals are there, I did not find Court to be half so magical without those wonderful Northshielders I am so used to seeing before me. It just didn't make me happy or make me cry the way Court in Northshield does (can be Midrealm Court too, as long as it's in Northshield and hence the matters at hand pertain to Northshielders). It was fun, it was lovely, it was interesting. It was not mine and it did not gratify my heart. It was like the SCA with all the trappings and none of the personal knowledge, connections and love that make it worthwhile to me. It was someone else's dream. I REALLY missed the Northshield.

'Nother topic: I sort of see the point of the Laurel-Apprentice relationship, or at least one way to conduct it. Christian expresses it like this: he really wanted a Laurel who would feel informal friendship towards him, but would not feel uncomfortable making suggestions or telling him he was on the wrong track. (Christian on the wrong track--I can't imagine that happening, but I suppose it's all in the point-of-view. This guy is SOME musician, and SOME SCA member, and SOME kind of human being, and here I was generously thinking I should put him in for a Willow. He's already got the equivalent of an Evergreen from Calontir. I think he's as close to a Laurel as almost anyone I know who doesn't already have one. And he casually compared us today by mentioning that so-and-so is "at about our level musically"...OUR level? I have years to go before I compare to a person like him, musically or otherwise. I am WAY humbled.)

The person I'm interested in apprenticing to (who is not Christian, but he wouldn't be a bad idea either, come to think of it) would, I suppose, feel free to make suggestions--he has in the past, anyway--but I think we are too much part of each other's fan clubs for him to come right out and say "That's not going to work", or "I think you better change your attitude". Maybe he would simply find a better way to state it; anyone familiar with human psychology knows it is better to humbly offer someone an attractive alternative, than to come right out and ask them to stop doing what they are doing! And he knows what I like--let me sing and I'm happy. The effective teacher must know the student's motivation, no? I guess maybe I need to think more about what I would want out of a Laurel-Apprentice relationship, at least so if he asks me what I'd want, I'll be able to answer intelligently, instead of just blurting, "You're my idol, you're so cool, please please let me be your first apprentice!". ;)

Thursday, July 26, 2001

Lumina: still gorgeous, still riding great. I have this fear that one morning I'll come down to my garage and find it exploded into a thousand springs, panels, pistons, gauges, and unidentifiable plastic parts. So far, no sign that this will happen, but something in me can't believe this whole new-car thing went SO well. Hard to believe!

Anyway...this weekend, I've been invited to Calontir's Kingdom Arts & Sciences Championship by an aquaintance from Nordskogen, who will be driving and everything. Although it's in Nebraska (yeeps) and I'm driving with someone I hardly know (but do trust), I think it will be fun. We will be staying with Christian's Laurel, who apparently is a vocal/choral music Laurel (never met one of those before--even the Peers in the Northshield Choir are either Pelicans, Royal Peers, or Laurels in something else, like Rosanore who is a dance Laurel). He says she is also a bookstore owner who has a huge home library. I hope to make friends. ;) The drive time will certainly give me enough time to finish edging the linen towels that Sarra embroidered for our local A&S challenge with our neighboring Shire of Falcon's Keep, and do some kumihimo besides. Countdown eight days to Poor Man's Pennsic!

Monday, July 23, 2001

My new teal/forest green Lumina is now out in the parking lot, getting wet along with all the other cars out there. (Rain! Yay!) I really like this car. I bought it Saturday morning, drove it to Galesville for the Trempealeau County Fair demo yesterday (and had my first pangs when it got a little mud-spattered), and drove it to work for the first time this morning. Hard to believe I got so much car for under what I was planning on paying: I set a limit of $16,000 and paid about $14,750 including tax, title, extended warranty, & trade-in. I'm happy with it. I'm even getting used to the terrible stereo. ;)

This morning I also mailed my applications for Principality Chatelaine (do you believe that I just nearly typed 'Webminister'? Nope, that was LAST year.) I have some hope that I've got a chance. Was having a nice conversation about the possibility at RUM, with the current Chatelain, when the previous one walked up to us, so we asked him what he thought. Both seemed very positive about the idea. I think I am beginning to be known as kind of a social person, and I think that's the type of person they want as Chatelaine. Would you ever have suspected I'd fit that bill, back when I was a second-grader with no friends? Anyway, the deed is done and we shall see whether I get this position. Although I talked about some of my convictions and ideas for the position, I kept an idea or two in reserve, in case they ask me to write an additional letter detailing my ideas, like they did when I applied to be Webminister. If I don't get it, I'll know I gave it my best.

Made a quick kirtle gown in white with yellow trim, to go underneath the gauze tabard I made a few weeks ago. Pennsic garb. Realizing that I am not going to get a lot more garb done before Pennsic, I asked Alissende & Rochl if they would be interested in a Wednesday-of-War-Week laundry run, and they seemed positive about this. I mean, I'll bring every chemise I've got, and it'll easily last through Wednesday, but along about Thursday things would start to get a bit rank. Plus, if it rains, we are in real trouble keeping clothes dry and clean. (The messiest clothing comes about when it rains steadily, dry paths get muddy, and pretty soon you have mud up to your knees on a gown that's 4 yards around the bottom. That's a lot of muddy fabric--and a lot of discomfort for your poor cold wet feet & legs!) If I'm lucky, I will get one more gown made, probably the same kirtle (with some alterations to the neckline--the pattern I have is altogether too wide in the neck, nearly off-the-shoulder) in a slightly more substantial, non-see-through fabric, for times when I need just one layer, or for bed/walking to showers. I'll have to see what fabric I've got. Or maybe go shopping...hmmm!

Friday, July 20, 2001

It's dark out again--what the heck? It's 3:47 and it looks like 10 pm out there. It better rain again--we need it.

I am getting a new car, or rather, another program car like I did the last two times (all those years ago). They are giving me $2,650 on my lovely adorable little Corsica, and the satisfaction of knowing that they want to sell it on their lot, and won't send it away to be sold to a less upscale dealer or for parts. (Meaning: I get to wave goodbye to it in the lot everytime I pass it, until they sell it. Good. I don't like my goodbyes abrupt.)

So what am I getting? I tried out the green Lumina, which is really more of a forest green than bottle (the bottle green one turned out to be an Oldsmobile Alero with 50,000 miles on it, so it wasn't really what I was looking for), and fell in love. It's a 2001, 9,500 miles on it (it was a rental in Florida), $16,500 used but I'm getting it for $15,400 minus the trade-in and plus the tax/extended warranty costs. It's a larger car but fits in my garage (I tried it out!), drives like a dream, and feels comfy and smooth in driving and not at all tinny (it's got a nice big engine). The interior doesn't feel like a big car, and yet it has the amenities of a big car: bench-style seats (no buckets! YAY!), lots of footroom, big trunk and big glove compartment, rough-and-ready air conditioning, and a general feeling of solidity. The stereo is pretty bad but, let's face it, I lucked out with both my Corsicas in getting high-quality factory stereos included; it stands to reason that six years later, they have adjusted their basic stereo quality level down to save money, expecting that most people will spring for a nicer stereo either at the dealership or at a car stereo store later on. I will probably do the latter if I find I am not getting used to the poor-quality stereo. At least it has a cassette player, in the meantime.

Tonight, after going to dinner and a movie with Kristen, I am going to do the ritual clean-out of personal posessions from the Corsica. When I think of all the stuff that has been resident in that car for years and years...! It's going to take awhile. I may bring down my boom box and listen to moody music while I work. Mem-ries...light the corners of my car...;)

Thursday, July 19, 2001

Today it's been dark all day. About 10 am it got even darker and then poured for about 20 minutes. Since then, nothing but humidity and cloudiness. [Since I started writing this, the sun has come out again in earnest. Ho hum, back to sunshine.] If we need the rain, can we have it for a little while? This 20-minutes-at-a-time deal is profoundly unsatisfying.

I was just asked to become the main editor of the Wisconsin Health Sciences Library Association newsletter. It's kind of funny--all week I've been thinking mostly SCA stuff, it being a relatively quiet week at work, and then I get bonked on the other side of the head by a professional organization. Thwap! Hey Jennifer, getcher mind off the SCA for ten minutes! Time to be a newsletter editor again. It ought to be fun, actually. All I need to do is come up with a template, do the layout and additional design as needed, solicit articles, and stick 'em in the format. The other two members of the committee are liasons to the web committee and they will take care of distribution, since apparently we are no longer doing a print version of the newsletter as of January 2002. Really makes you think: it's a long, long way from printing out borders from Print Shop on Mom's dot matrix and manually typing inside them, as I did with the MaTTY Chatter for my temple youth group in high school, to a completely virtual newsletter such as the one I will be doing. And yet, not so very long a way, in some ways. Technology can play so many different roles. What other tool is so versatile?

Vapid musings on technology aside...I have decided not to go to the event in southern MN this weekend, even though I suspect some friends will be there. It's only about 2 1/2 hours away, but I need a weekend to myself to work on A&S projects for Poor Man's/Autumn Rose, sew for Pennsic, and maybe, just maybe, clean my apartment a little. Besides, it's supposed to be 95 degrees until Sunday (is that not great? It's going down to the mid-80's in time for our demo at the Trempealeau County Fair in Galesville on Sunday). I plan to be inside Saturday as much as possible.

Got a cashier's check in the mail for $13,000. (There's an opening line, huh?) It was Dad, sending me the money for the bond that came due last year, in preparation for me to buy a new car. I have pretty much decided what I want (Chevy Malibu, despite the Barbie-like name). We test-drove it a couple of weeks ago when Dad was visiting. The one thing I wasn't crazy about was the front bucket seats, which are not terribly comfortable, but I'm sure I can get used to those. Last night I drove by and they have two at the moment: a gold one with gold trim and leather seats, which I'm sure is quite a bit out of my price range, and a nice dark blue one without those touches, but with more features than my current car (which isn't a difficult feat, frankly).

The dark blue one looks like the one for me. I hope to test drive it again either tonight or Saturday, to see how I feel about it when Dad's not around to influence my opinion. If I hate it, I hate it, and at least I'll have the money and can decide on something else. There is a dragonfly-green Lumina with 9,000 miles on it for $15,500 on the lot right now, that was calling to me when I walked through last night...too much car for me, I know. Luckily when I test drive it, I can also test it in my garage, to see if it fits. There are perks to living next door to a car dealership. ;)

My big hurdle is getting myself to turn in my current car, which I love and which has been through a lot with me. I have memories of the day in December 1995 when I went to the Zimbrick holding lot to say goodbye to my totaled first car, clean it out, and get it ready for the salvage place to come take it. Somehow this is even worse, getting rid of a car just because it's getting old, not because it's had the front smashed in. And contemplating replacing it with a car that's the same color is somehow comforting and guiltifying at the same time, as though I'm in denial that I'm even buying a different car..."No, see, it's still Nuggie, my ol' blue Chevy, it's just that she's had a nip here and a tuck there..." There were two Nuggies, the red Corsica and the blue one, both named after the license plate (NUG-192). I don't think there'll be another one. I think I might need to come up with a new name for the new car, no matter what I end up getting.

Wednesday, July 18, 2001

I'm still floating from the weekend, but slowly coming down to earth. This is Installment #2 of "What I did at Warriors & Warlords this weekend". What an incredible event...

It's my opinion that the new site is fabulous--it makes me feel so much more at home than the site in Osseo. Last week I was mentioning my history with W&W and how I had some bad feelings about the first one I went to, which was during my first year of participation in the SCA. I got lost, I was hot, I didn't know where I was welcome, I couldn't find my car....Well, I think during the following two years I might have been sort of under the shadow of these early misadventures. Because the following two years were fun, but this event was easily the best I have ever been to. The new site seems to have wiped out the bad memories.

First of all, it's lovely. There are TREES (glory hallelujah...I sometimes thought I had returned to North Dakota when I went to the campground in Osseo), wide and easy-to-follow paths/roads, water spigots everywhere, real bathrooms (if not very well-cleaned, but I am told they weren't quite prepared for the sanitary needs of 1,150 people), and--most importantly for me--you can see most of the parts of the site from the main center area. I could see all the way to the edges of the site from my tent: from Royalty Row on the other side of the pond, to merchants beyond the concession area, to the main stage and the camping areas beyond it. If I had to, I could draw a map of this site from memory! But I never did find my way around the old site, as I've told others. Mistress Cassandra, one of the autocrats, came up to say hello on Sunday as we were packing up, and asked if I had gotten lost during the weekend. I grinned and gave her a huge hug and one of my chip necklaces, and said, "Not even once. Can we have the site again next year?"

Mysie says the site is very similar-looking to the Pennsic site, in terms of vegetation, terrain, etc. This gives me a little more of a mental picture to plan with. I also heard non-Northshielders comment that W&W seems to them a lot like Pennsic used to be, and this seemed to be a positive comment--as in, "I wish it were still like this...this is really pleasant". That made me feel proud.

Let's see, what else was I going to talk about? Oh yes, court reports. I have a Willow sister and brother: Kudrun got her Willow Saturday night at Middle Kingdom court (actually she was called into court Friday, just before me, but was still at work in Ettrick). Turns out I had a Willow campaign going for her, and she had one going for me, and neither of us had any idea! Heinrich from the Jara Music Guild also got his Willow, which I thought was neat, as he's a relatively quiet person who is not very well-known, and such people don't get recognized for their work as much as those of us with big mouths. ;)

Other things I was happy about: Chandler, the conductor of the Northshield Choir, got inducted into the Evergreen, or as it's known to many of us, "That one Order that was created so they could give Owen another award without having to Laurel him" (grumble grumble...many already know my opinions on that topic. I do believe it's a needed Order however, and happen to know of another friend who is going to be inducted at Pennsic. My lips are sealed.) Lady Alexandra got a Northern Cross (richly deserved too, even though she already has a Guidestar, the original name of the award), her Lord Janvier got his Cavendish Knot for fencing, and my friend Bronwen's Lord, Benedict, got a Cavendish Knot as well. It was a big event for awards in my circle of friends.

(Part II of this entry): Purchases: A string of really nice potato pearls for cheap cheap cheap, a straw hat and a length of Calontir Trim to tie it on with (I started to get worried about my scalp burning), some wonderful chocolate lip gloss (yes, mundane addictions do play a role in the SCA for me!), and a gorgeous W&W t-shirt in five colors. They're just beautiful this year. Knights on horseback. I'm bringing it to Pennsic to wear off-site. I decided not to spend my traditional $40-50 at Calontir Trim, since I am rather flush with trim from other years and from S.R. Harris' recent trim boom. I do like Baron Andrixos ("The Trim Guy") a lot, though. He spent some time at the Bardic Circle and gave us some good Calontir songs. He has a cool beard and this great jovial, knowing smile, kind of like if Santa Claus lost 100 pounds and had a thing for beer and could sing.

The Northshield Choir turned in another stunning performance, this time with maybe 40 or 45 audience members in attendance (at least doubled from last year, but that wouldn't have been hard to do). The Friday rehearsal went well, with a few distractions due to being stationed outdoors. This location also posed acoustical, well, we couldn't hear each other. A lot of people don't realize how important hearing is to singing. A choral singer who can't hear the other singers is like a car that refuses to believe there are other cars on the road, and drives off at any speed in any direction without regard to the danger of hitting other drivers. (Okay, without the danger of hospitalization, insurance hassles, or death. But you get my analogy.)

The Saturday rehearsal was moved twice, and ended up in a small roofed platform area near Royalty Row, which completely charmed us by actually having acoustics! Suddenly we could hear the basses. The women started swooning over the sound and the basses looked rather self-satisfied, while Chandler shouted "Yes, yes, YES" over the great sound he was getting. A passing fighter stopped to say that Chandler's arrangement of "Shield My Kinsmen" was exactly what he wanted to hear as he was walking back weary from the battlefield. Owen says we got a standing ovation in the shower line in the nearby restroom building (I wasn't aware there were any seats in the restrooms, but hey, if he says they were standing for us, I'm willing to take that as a compliment). I think we sounded best in that little roofed area; if I'm still in charge for next year, and W&W is still at that site, I'm going to request it as our rehearsal area. After that, the performance was just icing on the cake. Of course people never seem to get the period stuff--the applause is not from delight but polite appreciation. So what else is new? We'll do it anyway. But everyone loved "Shield My Kinsmen".

The Bardic Circles were excellent, even better than usual. Friday night was my favorite, but they were all good. I especially enjoy them when my bardic friends stick around and make it seem like home (Owen, Dahrien, Rosanore, Charissa, Chandler, Deirdre, etc.), and also when we have illustrious guests like Andrixos and John Inchingham, and other non-Northshielders who feel like they want to share. (Yonka the Calontir Mud Maiden is quite talented as a bard, it turns out.) I convinced my friend Wren to sing something alone, instead of the wonderfully creative harmony she had been adding all weekend, and she did a great rendition of "Shule Aroon"--just gorgeous light butterfly sound to her voice. I want to hear more from her. Mateo was there all three nights and did some non-period stuff that was lovely, in addition to performing a new song he wrote about the Rapier Guild in Northshield, which I thought was great. I got in good performances of "The Story of Janvier and Alexandra" (while they were at the circle!), "Sing Me a Song", Owen's "Evensong", "La Nouvelle Alienor", and helped re-direct after a rather silly song about beer by doing "Alle Psallite" with Chandler and Rosanore. There's no way to recall everything that impressed me. If I'm not mistaken, though, the Northshield bards are getting better with time.

After the event, Dahrien and Mysie invited Sarra and I to go to lunch over by the Big Orange Moose in Black River Falls (which I had not seen before, despite having participated the night before in a bardic presentation of a stuffed orange moose on an orange moose pillow to Mistress Wyndreth, from Lady Cybele). Owen and his lady drove up as we were preparing to leave and ended up coming with. While we all wolfed down sandwiches and ice cream at Perkins, we had some nice discussions. Owen proposed the idea of having quarterly Bardic Circle things, not really events but more sing-a-thons, at people's houses: for example, we might begin with breakfast at 10 am Saturday, do what we please all afternoon and evening, then finish with breakfast or lunch Sunday. Mysie immediately offered to host one, which sounds like a fabulous time to me (the Bardic Barracks hospitality is legendary, and besides, I know how to get there!). I offered too. I think that'd be about ten times my normal weekend allottment of fun.

Wrapping up now, before I make this entry ten times longer than I had originally intended...whoops, too late. ;)

Sunday, July 15, 2001

I have something to share, something I received in Middle Kingdom Court at W&W on Friday:

"May it be known by all that We Brigh, Royal Patroness of the Arts, and Bardolph our King, wish to bestow upon Eliane Halevy the recognition of being made a companion of our Order of the Willow for her excellence in music composition, performing at events, costuming and illumination for Northshield while teaching others and helping at events. We bestow upon her all rights and responsibilities attendant upon this rank and the right to bear the badge: Purpure, a willow tree eradicated OR, without let or hindrance from any person. Done this fourteenth of July AS thirty six while sitting on our thrones at WW8."

Getting my Crwth gave me the security of knowing I was among friends, those who admired me. Getting my Willow is something else altogether. I know it was my friends who recommended me for this award, my Shire and my advocates, in some cases the same who recommended me for the Crwth, but this is a Middle Kingdom award, one that many think puts a person on the road to the Laurelate. It scares me, but in an exhilarating way. It seems to be settling on me with a certain weight in addition to the honor.

It also seems unfair, and brings up questions, some of them stupid doubts, others I consider valid. For example, last night's Bardic Circle was exactly two years after my very first. How can I be ready for this? In what way am I excellent? Why did they lump so many things into my Willow (costuming? Illumination? When have I claimed excellence in these areas?)? I thought a Willow was in one activity or area. What are the responsibilities of the Willow? I feel them suddenly very keenly, without even knowing what they are. Do I need to teach more? Take students? Write more music? Do more service? Can I just keep singing, which is what I really want to do, and hope that what got me the award will make me worthy of it in time? I just got to feeling like I was deserving of my Award of Arms along about this year. How long is it going to take to live up to this one? When others see fit to honor me with awards, how can I be sure I don't let them down--or myself? I guess it just scares me to think I'm on a road, without knowing what road it is, or how I can follow it and my own road at the same time.

Completely apart from doubts or responsibilities, it was supremely wonderful to receive this honor. Women's Court on Friday was full of my friends, who crowded around me for hugs afterwards while I tried with partial success to stop crying. Lady Roxelana, with whom I had a nice conversation about A&S at Spring Fling a couple of weeks ago, did my scroll, with much gold leaf and a big purple initial--not exceedingly period looking, but gorgeous. I got to hug her right away, which made me cry all over again. The Middle Eastern theme of the Court that day prohibited men from attending, but just as I was wishing Owen were here for this, he came through the crowd of ladies; turns out he'd seen the whole thing from the hill near the stage. He gave me a cryptic compliment about how I am among his favorite bards and he thinks that I deserve this recognition and more. More? What more could I have asked at that moment? I had my Willow, all my friends around me, and a whole weekend of singing ahead of me. Heaven. I didn't really want to think about what he meant. I just hugged him again, thanked him, asked him if he'd recommended me and then told him not to answer that, and said that such a compliment meant the world to me, coming from my very favorite bard.

So many more things to say about this event. So many other moments that meant a lot to me. I sang "La Nouvelle Alienor" in front of the assembled populace, and the Lady for whom it was written, while we waited for Middle Kingdom Court to start...not sure who requested me, just that there was a call of "Eliane, Eliane" and I was totally freaking. I didn't know what to sing so I brought my whole Bardic Book up to the front of the Principality Pavilion; Mistress Rosanore saved me by suggesting that song. Truth be told I think it's one of my best. I owe Rosanore about a pound of chocolate. ;)

"Sing me a Song" has been liberated from limbo...this is a song I wrote for Coronet last November (2000), and was supposed to sing after Court that day, but my singing was completely covered as everyone clangingly folded up their metal folding chairs to make way for the processing. That kind of destroyed my inspiration for awhile. Despite the fact that Master John Inchingham seemed to like it when I sang it after Boar's Head last year, the song has kind of languished. I did it at Bardic Madness and got a loud round of indifference. Last night however, His Highness Kenneth was there, and performers did several war-themed songs. I couldn't help but think he might remember my from Bardic Madness. Familiarity can be a good thing in an audience, you know? So I asked everyone to pound on stuff for percussion and launched into it. Finally people seemed to respond well. Sarra gave me a big pound on the back to say she liked it, and people went "woo-woo" like they do after something they really like. That night I stayed up in bed (probably waking up Sarra) scrawling ideas for other things. Between the Willow and "Sing me a Song"'s success, I think my mental cork has been pulled. Let's see if I can write anything good for Pennsic.

More tomorrow night. It's hard to believe I'll be back at work tomorrow. W&W is so overwhelming, physically, emotionally, and mentally. I hope I remember everything I wanted to get down here. Court reports (I wasn't the only Willow of the weekend), Northshield Choir, more bardic stuff, a few purchases (yes, pearls, but the silk guy wasn't there, so I don't know where to get fabric for Owen's tunic), post-event fun with friends, and how we liked our tent. Memories are made of this...;)

Tuesday, July 10, 2001
There is a reason that both a) underwear that is stuck up inside the crack of your butt and b) shoes that fit in between your toes are called "thongs". The similarity being that both are UNGODLY UNCOMFORTABLE. I bought a pair of (shoe) thongs to use as shower shoes at W&W and am trying them out right now. I can barely take a step; just sitting here at the computer wearing them, the insides of all four concerned toes are throbbing. And I threw out my beach shoes last year at Poor Man's because they stunk so bad. I'm in trouble...

Maybe I'll stop by Shopko or something on the way out of town and get more beach shoes. Or maybe I'll just suffer with these. It'll certainly cut down on my showering time significantly, though it will take me quite a bit longer to get to and from the actual showers!

Found a recipe, or rather sort of an engineering procedure, for homemade rosewater, here. I'd pictured simply boiling rose petals in water or something, but I guess that would make rose tea, not rosewater, and it'd be an unsightly brown or something. Instead, this procedure involves basically distilling as you simmer. And it means I have to buy a brick. I can count on, well, zero fingers the number of times I have ever needed a brick, until now. Anyway...the rosewater will be for the group Arts & Sciences project our local Shire is doing for our A&S challenge with the Shire of Falcon's Keep. I would explain further, but don't want to give away secrets in case there is a Keeper spy reading my webpage! ;)

Countdown two days to Warriors and Warlords, or, "How to spend three days camping in funny clothes with 1,200 of your closest friends". This is by far the largest event that happens in the Northshield, I'll wager larger than any Coronet, Crown, or Coronation we've ever hosted here. It freaks me out to think that, overwhelming as it is in its scale, it's only 1/10th the size of Pennsic. This will be only my fourth W&W. It's amazing to me to think back on the W&W's I've been to. More than any other event, they help me remember the progression of my development in the SCA:

  • 1998: I day-tripped from Marshfield, leaving my basket and water container in the Di Cellini "hotel" (large tent with corners curtained off to form rooms). Basically walked around all day. Stumbled on a dance class and met my friend Rochl for the first time. Bought dinner from a vendor before realizing that Falcon's Keep was having a big potluck and was happy to let me eat, even though I hadn't brought anything. Loved Court, but was hot and tired by that time. At night, visited the Pickled Fish, walked in circles trying to find something to do (I saw the Bardic Circle, but assumed I was not welcome), saw people looking happy and contented and wondered why I was unable to feel that way. When I finally decided to go home, I wandered in circles in the dark (no flashlight) looking for the parking lot. Finally found the car, indulged in a quick cry, and drove home feeling like much of the day/evening had been wasted.
  • 1999: My first camping event. Those who are counting will note that it took me nearly two years in the SCA to get up the courage to camp, and I did so with a friend who let me use her tent and basically camped with her boyfriend the whole weekend. Also went to my first class at an event (this is nearly criminal): Lord Christian's class on Medieval Mathematics. First performance of the Northshield Choir, which completely energized me where SCA music is concerned. Went to my first bardic circle (this is REALLY criminal), sitting behind some other people, and got up the courage to sing the one song I had written--Honor and Joy--and began a tradition by forgetting the words to the second verse. Sunday morning, the Scorpion story takes place (ask if you want to hear the Scorpion story; this is one of the few stories I tell at Bardic Circles, the idea being, when in doubt, make fun of yourself.)
  • 2000: Camped with the Keep, even though I had already moved to Rokeclif. This is the storm year, known not-so-affectionately as "Wet and Wild" or "Windy and Waterlogged". I still have flashbacks to the feel of the wind lashing at me through my tent, the sound of the rain spattering on the tent roof, the sight of lightning through the white nylon, and the smell of the gravel-turned mud on absolutely everything. This is also the end of about a year's time during which I went to all kinds of events alone for the first time, and began to know who was who and what was what in the Principality. The main result of this was that I spent W&W running into people I knew and loved and wanted to talk to, but I had booked myself almost completely up with things I wanted to go to, meetings I needed to be at, etc. So I was pretty busy, and felt much more at home even despite the confusing site and bad weather. Got to sing a LOT. Second year of the Northshield Choir, and the year I started doing MIDI files to help others practice.
  • 2001: yet to be seen. New site, so everyone will be lost and confused, not just me. I have booked myself nearly solid from 8 am to late night on Friday, but have purposefully left part of Saturday afternoon open for shopping. Part of the booking is, of course, the three Bardic Circles. Last year, the Saturday Night Bardic Circle was cancelled due to monsoon-type rains. I am hoping that the SNBC this year is very large, like my very first Bardic Circle at WW two years ago. Then, I feel like I'll be able to look back and see how far I've come. It'll be a milestone.

I am looking forward to the event. Sarra and I will be camping in our new tent, which I won't even have to put up, since she is going to arrive early and do it. I'm not afraid of W&W anymore--not afraid of the people who know so much more than me, the busy whirl, the confusing site, or the weather (all right, I'm still kind of afraid of the weather, but trying not to think about it). Although I've made miles of progress since I began going to W&W, my fearlessness is not due entirely to that. What has caused me to stop obsessing over W&W is the fact that, in just under a month, I'm going to Pennsic. And fear of Pennsic is enough to overshadow any other fears I might have in just about any area of my life. ;)

Friday, July 06, 2001

Okay, all right, disregard EVERYTHING I've ever said about tentage in this blog or elsewhere. I have found the medieval tent I want. Here it is: Extremely beautiful painted tent from King Rene d'Anjou's Le Coeur Empris, 15th c.

I guess if that's my ambition, I should start looking now for a suitable gold fabric paint, eh? Not to mention, I'd better start saving up for the pavilion!

Nice July 4th. My first quiet day doing nothing in quite awhile. I slept in, finished a book in bed, then got up and had an irrestistible urge to clean the shower. It was getting bad enough that I had to take a scraper to certain areas. Eeeeeewww...

I then successfully avoided doing any other cleaning all day and evening. I updated the Northshield Choir webpage and wrote some e-mail. I did kumihimo. It was extremely relaxing. People should have every Wednesday off. I'm sure we would make up for it in additional productivity after the beneficial rest time. Don't you think?

Oh no, another of those Crescent Jewelers advertisements is on, in which the current owner (about 24 years old) is magically paired with his dead grandfather in reprises of commercials from the late '70's. Am I the only one who thinks these are in terrible taste? The doddering grandpa drawls out a greeting, then the grandson repeats his greeting and goes on to do the rest of the commercial. Very Natalie Cole.

Tonight I dived into preparations for the A&S Challenge that's going to take place at Poor Man's Pennsic/Autumn Rose. This'll be the second annual challenge, and I want us to keep the title here in Rokeclif again. Nothing against my former Shire of course! Once a Keeper, always a Keeper...but right now I'm also a Cliffie.

Anyway, tonight I began a pouch for the Accessories category. I took the small redwork embroidery I did the weekend of my cousin's wedding, set it in strips of red cotton twill (Marshfield Furniture fabric! That stuff is going to last forever!), made a backing and lining out of matching brown twill, and sewed the whole thing together along with gold satin cord trim. It's just a bag shape now, but I'm going to put three gold buttons to close the top, then belt loops on the back. What's it for (besides the A&S challenge)? It's the prize for this year's Bard of Rokeclif contest. Maybe the winner will see fit to pass it on, or maybe they'll continue the tradition of making/buying something as a prize. (If you recall, I didn't get the prize last year, as a gentle from Jaravellir tied with me in the contest, and the royals decided to give him the prize and me the title. I had absolutely no problem with this.)

On to sleep. Tomorrow night, I have a lot of cleaning to do. Or I can decide that my apartment will remain a pigsty, as I assert independence from my dad, on the weekend of his visit. Yeah!...wait, no. My apartment is just gross. I'll do some cleaning.

Tuesday, July 03, 2001
Hello and welcome to Part II of "Jennifer's Madison Weekend". I'm Jennifer and I'll be your hostess...

I want to mention in passing what the heck I am doing with all the expensive embroidery floss I purchased in Mt. Horeb. Someone reading the entry below might conclude that I'm a rabid embroidery-holic and am producing huge amounts of Laurel-worthy needlework. This would be, in fact, untrue. What I am doing takes even more embroidery floss than embroidery does. I'm learning kumihimo, a medieval (actually, pre-medieval) Japanese braiding technique (more pictures here; a short bibliography is here, but it doesn't list the excellent book I got, "Beginner's Guide to Braiding: the Craft of Kumihimo" by Jacqui Carey). Although the books and photos feature gorgeous polished wooden stands over which one gently lays orderly strands of shining silk, I use a technique introduced to me by Lady Sadbh of Falcon's Keep: a cardboard disk loom with a hole in the middle and 32 cuts in the edges to grip the strands of floss, which I wind onto cardboard bobbins. This has the advantage of being 1. portable, 2. cheap, and 3. an easy gift for complete strangers who admire the cord and seem interested in learning how to make it. I graduated from cheap cotton embroidery floss to lovely shiny rayon floss, which unfortunately frays a little on the cardboard looms, but maybe I can experiment with different types of cardboard for future looms. Lady Sadhbh taught us a simple 16 strand stitch that even young children can do. I am discovering that there are hundreds of other stitches, made with varying numbers of strands, some simple and others fiendishly difficult, each of which gets different results if you arrange the colors in a certain way. And Jacqui Carey's book only presents the 8-strand stitches! I have a ways to go.

All right, that wasn't so much in passing as it was in depth...!

Sunday, after Mom and I went to Moulin Rouge, I went down to the Union for SCA dance practice. I mostly went to humor my friend Emily, also known as Lady Rochl, who loooooves SCA dance (and helps run the practices). But, since there were several new people that day and we had 8 dancers plus Rochl to play the music on her recorder, I ended up having a good time. They were teaching Italian dances from about the same period as my high-waisted Italian gowns, and I would have given anything to be in garb, but of course no one else was, so it was no big deal. These dances aren't particularly athletic except in spots, so I felt like I learned something while not completely wearing myself out.

Then Emily and I went to dinner at Kabul, during which we shoveled in couscous and talked nonstop. I was realizing that I had not actually sat down to talk to her in months and months--I've just seen her in passing at events. If we're going to be in the car together for 17 hours one way on the way to Pennsic, I figure it's probably a good thing to get reacquainted now!

After that, we arrived late at the Jaravellir Baronial business meeting, which was a trip and a half, seeing people I see all the time at events, only they were in mundane garb. I didn't even recognize the Jara WW autocrat, whom I know I must have seen many times. I'm sorry, I was confused by the ponytail and the baseball cap! ;) One of the members suggested brightly that Jaravellir put in a bid for Bardic Madness in 2002, and this suggestion was met with much excitement and approval by the group. That right there changes my opinion about Rokeclif putting in a bid for BM 2002. With Castel Rouge, Rockhaven, and now Jara in the running, there's no reason to rush (and possibly compromise the quality of our bid in the process) to get our bid in this summer. I am changing my vote to 2003. Granted, it's up to the Shire, not just me, but since I'm going to volunteer to autocrat, I think I get some say in it. ;) In any case, many of the Shire folk seemed to say 2003 was their preference, so I think it'll work out for everyone.

I had a pleasant quiet weekend in Madison: nice sunny drive down Hwy. 14 Saturday morning, shopping at the Farmer's Market, then Mom and I drove to Mt. Horeb where she said there was an excellent shop that carried silk floss and other specialty threads. I spent $75 without truly realizing it was adding up so fast. It was kind of embarrassing too, in that I found out about this from Mom, because I was experiencing some gastric distress (maybe it was a bad cheese curd at the Farmer's Market?) and had to leave to go to the restroom across the street twice, so she paid the bill for both of us. I later wrote her a check while she made clucking noises over my extravagance. Really, I think I might need to curtail the crafts spending if I'm going to have any money to take to Pennsic with me.

Saturday night we went to see the big fireworks show, Rhythm and Booms, which was excellent as always. Mom's friend Andee is an excellent cook and brought a whole assortment of cold salads and dessert breads to go with KFC. I was gratified that this year, they seem to have finally decided that that terrible "I'm Proud to Be an American" song is too cheesy even for the north side of Madison, and left it out of the soundtrack. They did finally get a set of howitzers to go with the 1812 Overture, however--and the howitzers blew very large smoke rings over the pond. Who could ask for anything more? ;)

Sunday I slept in, then I took Mom to see Moulin Rouge. Seeing it again was a tad anticlimactic, after having gone nuts over it after the first viewing a month ago. I paid a lot more attention to the music, however, having pretty much memorized the CD version of the soundtrack. I agree with the person on a web discussion board who said that there is another CD's worth of music in the movie. Besides glaring CD omissions like "The Show Must Go On" and the hilarious version of "Like a Virgin", there are snippets of at least four other songs that could have been expanded fully for a CD version, as "Complainte de la Butte" and "Because We Can" were for the CD I purchased. Not to mention the instrumental stuff played over the final credits (not a medley, but original music from what I can tell). Also, between the trailer and the informational film snippets at the official website, the CD, and the somewhat fractured rendition in the movie, I count 3 completely different arrangements of "Come What May": the CD's pop-ized major key version, the movie's minor-to-major version that gets sung through a montage and part of a scene and then quoted in the finale, and the one I hear only in the trailer/website snippets (not anywhere in the movie or CD) which seems totally minor and has a completely different riff underneath it. I'd buy a new CD with the movie and trailer versions.

All right, I'm going to take my own advice and continue tomorrow with the remaining details about the weekend. Yes, they're SCA-related. How on earth did you guess...? ;)

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