Friday, August 31, 2001

Oh, I feel so much better about Autumn Rose after going to do setup tonight. It is so nice and peaceful at that site--not peaceful in a rustic, county-park-like way like at Poor Man's, but more like in a quiet village when everyone is home and asleep. We have some nice banners sewn, all in polyester lining fabric, which isn't the least bit period but turns out to be the flutteriest, prettiest fabric for banners on bamboo poles. Now we just need the wind to pick up a bit. (Of course, now that I've said that, we'll have a tornado tomorrow night or something. I'm such a jinx.)

Seriously, the weather is supposed to be gorgeous: 74 during the day, upper 40's at night (all right, so that part isn't so gorgeous, but I have a lot of heavy clothing and blankets I can wear, plus I'm bringing over The Cloak That Ate Cincinnati). We are so pleased, considering the deluge of Saturday night last year, that it seems it'll be quiet this year. I'm just happy at the idea of not being hot.

Speaking of, that's not fair, it was comparatively cool most of the time at Pennsic, or so I'm told. I had nothing to compare it to. But there were stories of 108 degree heat indexes from the previous week, so we felt pretty lucky that it hovered between 75 and 90 the whole time we were there.

But, to get back to what I was about to say, speaking of Pennsic, Rochl has done a fabulous job in posting her Pennsic photos (many of which pertain to my experiences too) on her Rochl's First Pennsic page. The first photo is of the very south central part of our encampment, showing Griffin's Gate (the yellow drawbridge), and part of the Principality Pavilion, which I love very dearly: a view I will always be happy to see. And it just gets better from there. I won't detail every photo on the page and how it came to be (especially since she has some I wasn't around for, dance and instrumental music mostly), but suffice it to say, we shared enough experiences that if you want to know what I did at Pennsic, Rochl's page functions pretty well in answering that question.

Whew. Getting excited about the event was a much-needed pick-me-up to round out this day. When the highlight of your day consist of browsing the Highsmith catalog looking for slatwall panels less than 23" wide, with a detour to help someone find photos of Kiss' last tour date in Madison, even hanging pennants with friends is a big boost to one's fun quotient.

Going through my head tonight: Master Efenwealt Wystle's song, "Fair Lady Atlantia". I wonder if it's considered an anthem there, like "Shield My Kinsmen" would be here. (Efenwealt seems to think so.) I would love to learn it to prove I have been outside the Northshield. Granted I've never been to Atlantia, but it's got to be a good place if it can inspire a song like that.

Eew. I have three big fluid-filled blisters on my hand from hammering in tent stakes. (Wait! Strike that! No! I do not mention my health or medical status on this page! It tempts people to use my webpage as a medical information resource! This is a bad thing! I have no blisters! Not a single one! No! That would be awful!) It's worth it though, I'd say, to be able to move into the tent tomorrow evening as though arriving at a hotel (except without the elevator, pool, or ceremonial imprinting of the credit card).

Tomorrow night: event in full swing. We can do this! Yeah!

Wednesday, August 29, 2001

Sleepy tonight. Hormones and stress are catching up to me. We are all a bit nervous about Autumn Rose. The psychology of our Shire always changes too, right before an event: we go silent with horror picturing what will happen if anything goes wrong. Nothing will, of course, but the possibility washes over us like a bath in flat Coke. All the posts on the listserv are reduced to terse sentences asking who is taking care of this, who will be bringing that, did anyone remember to call so-and-so, what are we going to do about such-and-such? Which is fine; if we ever need to communicate clearly, it's now. But it only seems to increase the anxiety.

I should be sewing pockets on the tops of banners. Am I? No. But I did wash platters, do a load of laundry, do dishes, clean out my purse and my basket, and...okay, that's all I did.

So what is this Rock Star movie thing? A guy who makes his living imitating his hard-rocking idol is tapped to replace him in the band? Why does this sound like a film which was previously made in France, called "Face a Face" or "Y'a Pas de Masque", and involved a woman who sings jazz and works in the mines in Brittany, who is suddenly summoned to Paris to take a job with the hottest swing band in town, and falls in love with the drummer? Not that such a film exists--I just saw so many of those in my years in French classes, I feel like I can reconstruct them from their American counterparts.

I feel fractured today--not all here. I ate a hot dog for dinner that made my tongue feel funny--too many nitrites or something. I took an allergy pill and am hoping it'll go away soon.

Tuesday, August 28, 2001

Choir starts tonight (the website hasn't been updated in ages, and the group photo is from two years ago, so don't bother looking for me). I went over last night to our rehearsal space to help stamp/collate music. There seems to be some good stuff (Barber's Reincarnations, a great big grand book of opera choruses, a Dominick Argento piece) and some stuff I can't really judge yet.

We are also all getting Oxford Books of English Madrigals for the May Feaste fundraiser concert, which will be a madrigal dinner this year, but unfortunately I just discovered it may conflict with the MLA Annual Conference (which doesn't have a website yet, the slackers). We'll see how that pans out, I guess.

Suprised myself this morning by finding my sapphire ring, which I had taken off to load dishes Thursday night before Pennsic, and misplaced. I lifted up a small pie plate I had used to hold paint, and had left upside down to dry after cleaning, and there it was. Of course I wasn't looking for it, just looking for a place to put the pie plate that wasn't so much in the way, so I wasn't looking right at it when I uncovered it. The visual effect was interesting--my eyes flickered back to the counter to see what I'd found, and it was as though it suddenly flashed into being after having spent two weeks in another dimension. Weird...

Monday, August 27, 2001

Good weekend: I helped (all right, attempted to be helpful to) Owen (dressed as Ben ;) ) with his in-process recording project, which looks like it will be to drool over when it's done, but will never get done if the guy does not let up on himself. He is his own worst critic. Yes, I could hear plenty of mistakes on the takes he played for me, but he was wincing and growling and clutching his head at things I didn't even notice. I wanted to tell him there's no such thing as a perfect performance, and perfection is no more period than recordings! But I held my tongue. It never does any good to berate someone who is already berating himself for something else. Found that out the hard way with an ex (hi, Dan!).

It was fun to be there though. The boardinghouse looked exactly, precisely as I pictured it. He and Margaret live in one bedroom and the cluttered attic, and then the tenants have individual rooms and share a common living/dining area and kitchen. It's as unique a place as the people who live there. I love it.

The 'sing thing' was fun too. Finally got to meet Brendan, whom I (of course) did not recognize until someone named him, and I jumped up to give him a hug. He is SUCH a talented performer and funny guy. There were four or five other people there, some I knew and at least one who was new to me, plus a couple of the tenants stopped by (Brendan's playing is infectious; people come running to hear). We did a lot of fun post-revel type stuff and Owen played his Anglo-Saxon lyre, which is always a treat. I hope to host one of these sing things myself soon--probably longer-format, since I am more geographically isolated than anyone in a large Barony. Perhaps October. Which means I had better get cleaning the apartment now. ;)

There was a huge crowd at the Ettrick Fun Days parade yesterday--I made 120 flyers and we ran out in the first three blocks of the parade. Cybele and Brigid then became parade heralds, shouting about the "Medieval Faire" to take place in Galesville next Saturday. I was wowed when two 8 or 9 year old girls came out from where they were sitting with their families and shyly held out their hands for me to shake them, saying, "Nice to meet you...I'm Amber and this is Mary...and this is Stephanie and Jenni and Sarah..." They must have viewed me as some sort of princess. It's so cute how kids think politeness must be an ancient thing, since only their parents seem to champion it. If Mom says to say "please" and "thank you", well, those must be true medieval concepts. Anything slightly older or more formal than usual must be historical in nature. (And your prom dress must be highly appropriate as medieval garb. Ah, but now I'm grousing...) If you think about it, this may possibly give these kids a leg up in the SCA, where politeness is always a good thing!

Autumn Rose is coming upon us like wildfire. I feel bad that I was gone during some of the preparation time, missing a populace meeting because I was on the way back from Pennsic. As the only person from the Shire who attended Pennsic, I suppose they might feel inclined to cut me some slack this year--but if I go every year, they may not continue to feel that way. I guess we'll see. I volunteered to be go-fer woman and serve where needed this year. It will help the Shire that since His Excellency Niklos, Lord Heir of the Northshield, will be accompanying his Lady wife to the event, they will have their full complement of household staff and hopefully will not need a ton from the Shire in terms of royalty room guards, runners, Court staff, etc., though of course we will be at the ready if needed. Thank G-d for a well-appointed site with kitchen, feast hall, a whole hall just for Royalty space, covered outdoor spaces for gatherings, etc. We probably could not pull off the event in a primitive space.

Friday, August 24, 2001

One relatively quiet evening, out of many non-quiet ones in the past few weeks. I am taking the opportunity to do very little. Actually I'm listening to Randall Thompson's "The Peaceable Kingdom" on headphones, for the sake of a more peaceable heart. So far it's helping a little. I have nice memories of singing that piece in Marshfield. It's one of the finest examples of American choral music, if you ask me. Which you didn't. I don't care. It's my webpage.

I was going to go out for a walk, but I just glanced out the window to find it coated in raindrops, so I'm thinking that's probably not going to happen. Oh well. I like relaxing in my apartment too.

Tomorrow: going to the Twin Cities to help Owen start his recording. If you ask me, it's high time. Apparently there is also to be a sing thing at Owen & Irene's tomorrow night, I hope not in my honor or I might just get a big head ;) , but I'm glad to provide the excuse for such goings-on. I think it'll make me feel better to do some good Northshield sittin'-around-on-the-floor-and-singing. Like I didn't do that all last week at Pennsic...!

I was trying to think if there were any more remarkable Pennsic memories I needed to share. The details are starting to get subsumed under the normal drudgery of life. There are mostly just disjointed impressions left. As usual, I felt totally at home under the Principality Pavilion, at Court and other times, and felt totally alienated at Middle Kingdom court. A friend of mine, who I thought, based on some incorrect information from someone who supposedly knew, was going to get a nice award, did not get the award, and I was completely embarrassed and mad at myself for having implied that I knew something that I could not have known, and misled him. Then I looked out over the crowd, looking for someone I recognized, and saw just the hands of someone working on one of the kumihimo kits I put together. Turned out it was Flori, but even before I saw her face it made me feel like I am not totally hopeless: sometimes I do small things that are right. (Only gave away 3 kumihimo at Pennsic, all to Northshielders. Oh well. Next year, more for strangers.)

The shopping was truly wonderful, but I didn't really indulge my shopping passion that much. I got a purple raw silk Italian gown for only $60, with pretty green ivy leaves embroidered on it. Its support is not too heavy, making it a nice 'hot day' or demo gown. Of course it needs to be shortened, and is open down the front so I suppose I will have to find a way to attach an underskirt to an empire-waist gown that opens in the front. Sheesh. It's a fixer-upper. I also bought a nice leather purse, large and rough-hewn enough to serve at SCA events when I don't feel like carrying around my massive basket. What else? A few books, one with free-form embroidery stitches for ideas. Agate rings and chip necklaces for dubuses. A hand-cast brass fleur-de-lys cloak clasp for my red cloak (yes, the cheap pewter clasp on my very first piece of garb has finally broken!). Gifts for a few friends in the Shire. A light linen-cotton veil (which I promptly wore the wrong way for the Archery muster). A kit for doing gilding, which comes with only 3 sheets of gold, so I am thinking of waiting until I have a C&I Laurel cornered at an event for moral support to even try it.

Found a merchant called "Griffin's Gate". When I informed her that not only is there a Griffin's Gate at Pennsic (the drawbridge that leads over the ditch into N19, Northshield's camp), there is a song about it ("...and Griffin's Gate calls you again", I believe by Wilhelm), the proprietress was amused and said she would have to come see her namesake.

Overall I was so impressed by the variety and quality I found at the merchants'. Some of the garbmakers had obviously been using commercial costume patterns (saw far too many of those fake tudors with the bodice that's too short even for the model on the envelope, and gapes between the bodice and skirtband), but many were using fabric in very beautiful ways. There was also fabric for sale, but then, I intend to get to S.R. Harris before the fall sets in, so I did not think purchasing fabric at not-so-lovely prices was a good idea--especially knowing I'd have to store it safely for the rest of the event, then cart it home. The quality of garb I saw at two places, Angevin Treasures (that's Master Efenwealt and his wife's booth) and Black Swan Sutlery/Historic Enterprises, was just head and shoulders above the glitz seen at most of the other booths. Now that I've had a chance to look seriously at the quality at both places, I would not hesitate to spend wads of money at either. Maybe I'll save up and splurge next year...?

I liked Pennsic. The physical discomforts of being outdoors did not seem to get magnified by the amount of time I spent there, as I thought they would. Allergies were bad from the start, but didn't really get worse over time. I never got the Pennsic Plague (thank G-d) and usually slept fairly well (thank Alissende for the cool camp cots). We ate VERY well, again thanks to Alissende and her pressure cooker, and had friends willing to pick up some water for us when we were nearly running out. Not to mention the FABULOUS Northshield private hot showers. A person could think she was on a cruise ship or something!

Overall it was pretty painless. But it must be stressed that, having made it successfully through one Pennsic, I am now commencing to be frightened of the next one. Not as frightened as I was before this one, but still. You never know! Next year could be the one where the mosquitoes get resistant to whatever chemicals they douse the campground with, dysentery goes around the camp, the rain stops only for the hail (and they both stop for the tornadoes), the bell tower falls on the King of the Midrealm, and there's a rabid raccoon going around biting Northshielders. Welcome to my world: there is always something new and exciting to be afraid of.

I don't think I have yet plugged The Brunching Shuttlecocks here. TBS is a small and non-chaotic humor site that seems to be the work of one person, Lore Fitzgerald Sjoberg, with perhaps two other contributors who may or may not be his alter egos. Daily (or a reasonable facsimile thereof), L. Fitzgerald posts a humor piece for your enjoyment. The most recent ones are linked from the main page, but clicking on "More..." for any given category leads to a chronological archive of pieces.

Recurring features include:

  • "Good or Bad?", in which readers take a quick survey about which of ten unrelated things are good and which are bad (the most recent one includes St. Petersburg, albino snakes, and paperweights with a scorpion or tarantula inside), then get to see their votes add up
  • "The Ratings", where L. Fitzgerald picks a category of things (for example, Dante's Inferno punishments, Tomy pocket games, or bar appetizers) and gives them a short critical review and a grade from A to F. (Have you ever wondered how Auto Redial stacks up against Flash among the features found on your phone?)
  • "The Self-Made Critic": movie reviews from a guy who obviously loves movies, and who waxed very enthusiastic about my favorite movie of this year
  • "Lore", a comic strip with no plot, about a guy with no hair

There are lots of pieces that don't fit into one of these categories, too. Despite the site coming mostly from one person, the humor is varied enough to entertain and keep me coming back. It's also less overwhelming than a visit to, say, The Onion, or's humor pages, where a person barely knows what to tackle first. (Not to cut down on The Onion, one of my favorite publications in the world. But I still prefer the printed version, which brings me back to high school, and discovering this new little silly newspaper that would actually publish my stupid stuff and didn't ask what it meant...)

TBS isn't large. It won't overwhelm. Why does everything have to be served in monster-sized portions these days? So anyway...go visit The Brunching Shuttlecocks and have an appropriately medium-sized amount of fun.

Thursday, August 23, 2001

Had an adventure last night: at the prompting of Christian, I went to Minneapolis for the Wednesday night Nordskogen meeting. Somehow the conversation went from "I'm going to be in Rochester for a conference towards the end of this week, want to hang out?" to "So you're going to drive three hours one-way on Wednesday night to come to the meeting, right?". Still not sure what happened. But it was worth it to see the look on people's faces when I came in, to greet people who are just getting over Pennsic like me, and to see folks I hadn't seen in awhile, like Rosanore, Mikey, and others.

This isn't the first time I've driven a distance on a whim to be with SCA folks (heck, I've done it twice just in Windhaven), but it was the first time I've been at "social practice", as we used to enviously call it in Falcon's Keep. I used to say Falcon's Keep thrived because of the goodwill and togetherness generated by its monthly moots. Well, apparently Nordskogen thrives on these chaotic charming little weekly gatherings of, oh, 100 of one's closest pals. We drove up to the road to the site (a community center) and Chris said, "By the way, yes, all these cars are us." We had to park two blocks away. I felt a touch intimidated.

But that didn't last beyond the doorway. I mingled, passed around Autumn Rose event flyers, talked with several people I hadn't talked with in awhile (including a remarkably relaxed post-war and post-reign Viscountess Yasamin), was tackle-hugged by Owen (and then listened to his newest "I've been alone in a car for 15 hours" theory, regarding the Bardic traditions of Northshield, Calontir, and Ealdormere), told Rosanore what a cool person she was, watched Etienne teach dance, then debated over whether I really felt we could stop at the Malt Shop with other folks when I had to be at work at 8 am today. (I didn't, but we stopped anyway and I shared a chocolate malt with Rosanore. Didn't get back until nearly 1. Don't worry! I'm awa......zzzz....huh? What? I'm here. Don't poke me.)

Had a request to travel to the Cities this weekend and help Owen start his recording. Don't have to ask me twice. Although of course I'll need to be back for the demo in Ettrick Sunday, I will honestly do almost anything to miss the Gundersen Lutheran company picnic Saturday afternoon. Not that that's my only excuse for going up.

Wednesday, August 22, 2001

More about Pennsic. It's going to take me weeks to remember everything I wanted to post here about Pennsic. Bear with me.

Bardic stuff at Pennsic is fabulous in several different ways. Depending on which parties you go to, you can hear some of the Society's most famous and most entertaining bards, and if you get the Bardic Press Gang to stop by, you don't even need to leave your encampment. Perhaps my favorite bardic moments of the week were when the Press Gang came in during the Northshield Open House party Thursday night. Mistress Morganna, Cerian, Garraed, and several more I recognized from earlier in the day, were among them, and they stopped for quite awhile at our fire and did some extremely entertaining stuff--and got Wyndreth to sing, though of course you can't stop Northshielders from joining in when she does that. Dahrien seems to have gained a teacher in Morganna, who several times shouted at him, "Sing from the diaphragm, boy, or you're gonna hurt yourself!". During the time they were here there was a little fun jockeying to see who of the NS folks would sing. I sang "Song of the Northshield" (which has definitely emerged from its long dormant period), prefacing it as my "Oh geez some days I wish I were Wyndreth" song. (I think a lot of people there could identify with this.) Ysolt and I sang her "Donneuald and the Virtuous Lass" and I remembered at the end that I was singing the wrong harmony to the chorus, but oh well, fifths are more period than thirds anyway, right? (Okay, maybe not for that piece...)

I was so proud of Mateo, who had been singing quite a bit at earlier bardic circles during the week, and happened into the middle of this one. Don't recall exactly what he sang Thursday night, maybe his Northshield Rapier song, or the "Midrealm Sailors" song, I don't know what it's called. When he was finished, Mistress Morganna sputtered a little bit, in an impressed kind of way, and asked loudly, "And who are YOU?" Not knowing the first thing about whom he was addressing, he took her hand, bowed, and said, "I am Mateo Montero de Madrid, dear Lady, who might you be?" She introduced herself as Morganna. I will probably need to e-mail him and fill him in on exactly who he was talking to--and congratulate him on having attracted her notice.

Myself, I had attracted someone's notice earlier in the day. I sang in Garraed's Bardic Exhibition, which was open to anyone, and which had pretty bad attendance--maybe 15 people at any given time, most of whom were waiting to perform. I stayed for all 4 hours even though none of my Northshield pals showed up (except for Dahrien, who happened by halfway through my performance), and I had no kumihimo to work on. I was motivated, you see. I need wider exposure to other SCA bards or I will never broaden my, or the Northshield's, bardic horizons. Still, it was warm and a couple of times I fell asleep...

...but I digress. A couple of hours into the performances, I did my set. After pondering, I chose "Mose Salio de Misrayim" since Wyndreth liked it so much, and "Song of the Northshield" because by jingo, I wanted to spread some Northshield starshine. Some of my OWN Northshield starshine (though I don't doubt that there would have been people there happier than clams to sing along with "Shield My Kinsmen"). Turned out there was a music Laurel there who had planned to do a song to the tune of "Mose Salio", but changed her set at the last minute! Talk about a coincidence. I vaguely remember hearing someone gasp when I was about halfway through the first verse--that must have been when she realized what I was singing.

I did pretty well, if I do say so myself, and afterwards Lady Marian of Heatherdale--THE Marian of Heatherdale, now Mistress Marian of Heatherdale as of Friday night!--came to where I was sitting and gave me a ring, and told me that I have marvelous presence and a lovely voice. I sputtered. I grinned. I blushed (and I never do that). She said, "Oh, and I'm Marian of Heatherdale." I said a vehement, "Well, I know...!" and instantly felt about eleven years old, and embarrassed to the core. The only other person of 34 performers to whom she gave a ring that afternoon was a four-year-old girl who got up and did an adorable song about Robin Hood. I am still floored by the recognition, and still wearing the ring. I may be wearing it for awhile. She did several sets at the Exhibition, and when I walked in she was singing "Bow to the Crown", made famous in the Northshield by Master John of Inchingham and by THL Alexandr's singing it to his consort in Coronet Tourney in Coldedernhale. Wow...just one of those priceless moments.

Another priceless moment came Friday night when some Press Gang members pressed us into going to a Bardic Volleyball competition, between two friendly Baronies the location/names of which I don't recall. The idea was that one side would challenge the other to come up with a bardic performance on a theme, and then that side would have to do the same. I did not get the impression that this was still in force when we arrived, though, because a lot of people were lining up to sing/tell stories simply because they needed to leave soon and wanted to perform. Owen wanted me to perform, but did not think a Northshield song was appropriate. I was going to get up and do "I Love My Love", one of maybe two memorized pieces I have. (For those who don't know that song, it's my "not-appropriate-for-the-quiet-camping-area" song, the one that regularly gets the mundanes across the river mad at us at Poor Man's. High, loud moments, and I push them. It feels good.)

However, the caliber of the performers--and the fact that I knew only the people I had come with, Owen, Dahrien/Mysie, Drust, Lawrence, and the few Press Gangers--meant that I was getting a bit intimidated (not to mention, feeling chilled wearing only my cotehardie in the cool evening). So Owen leaned over and suggested we do "Stella Splendens" together. I grinned at him and said, "Stealth Northshield song!", and he grinned back. So we sang it. It brought a much-needed period musical note to the gathering, which had been mostly stories and rambling 18th c. folk songs before that. Soon after that we left, proud of what we had given to the gathering.

More Bardic, and other, Pennsic notes tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 21, 2001

Oh, wow.

Not only did I survive Pennsic, I learned what Pennsic is. I experienced/sweltered/ate/sang/slept/nestled/enjoyed/disliked/danced/met/thought/learned/watched/listened...and so much more. I owe so much to Alissende and Rochl for being my friends and making sure I did not get lost, set myself on fire, starve, etc., but I also discovered that what I loved at Pennsic was different from what they loved. Here's what I loved:

  • Singing. Much singing. Bardic, choral, mustering, standing-around-in-the-Food-Court-and-singing-along-with-some-random-instrumentalist. Choir was okay (good music, so-so conductor, nice fellow singers, rather good concert). Bardic was better. I intend to expand on this point later (tomorrow).
  • Shopping. Now are you surprised at that? I did find that if I tried to shop alone for an extended period of time, I got a little overwhelmed and felt I was being unproductive.
  • Eating. Everything tastes better when you're tired and hungry. That fruit ice stuff was incredible.
  • Nestling with my friends and the Northshield.

I think this last was confusing to Alissende and Rochl. We would be out in the evening, after eating dinner or after a concert, hanging out, perhaps looking for one of Rochl's many instrumentalist friends from the Known World Dance Symposium, or walking through the merchants. And suddenly this wave of homesickness would come over me. I would become convinced that all my Bardic friends were sitting around the fire back at Northshield's encampment, singing things I wanted to hear, and that I could not miss one more minute. And I would say, "You know what, guys, I think I'm going back". And so I would, and when I'd get there, there'd be maybe two people at the fire, but when I sat down a little of that Poor Man's Pennsic bardic magnetism would take over, and soon there'd be five or six, then ten, then a dozen. Singing, listening, talking, joking. Bliss...I need these times to keep going and keep loving the SCA.

I had not intended to be at musters. I'm not a martial person in general. But the first muster gave me a chance to help lead singing (difficult and hard on the voice, but an interesting opportunity) and to sing alongside the former children of the Middle, Ealdormere and Calontir. I was secretly (all right, not-so-secretly) proud to hear so many filks among the singables of those Kingdoms. Northshield's songs are original. You can't, just cannot, beat "Shield My Kinsmen" as a national anthem. And between two of the singinest Kingdoms in the Known World, they didn't. However, it was neat to hear them try, to march behind the banner to the fort, see the Opening Ceremonies, and feel proud of where I live. Having liked that muster, I marched along with muster for the Field Battle and the Archery muster, too, but the general tone was a little less inspired, and we were marching quickly enough that I got winded and wasn't doing very well with the singing. I did feel glad to have helped Owen lead singing. Seems no matter what Owen asks me to do, if I accomplish it, I automatically feel proud.

Classes were only okay. I went to two classes, taught by people I knew by name and respected (and still respect), but now I am not quite so in awe of them--neither is much of a teacher. I might have learned more by going to their respective websites. There were others I had intended on going to later in the week, but for various reasons didn't make. I am not going to beat myself up over this. It happens. When I think of $550 conferences I've attended and taken a whole afternoon to go shopping, skipping scheduled sessions, I don't feel quite so bad. This was my vacation, after all.

I did meet quite a lot of cool people, both in and out of the Northshield. I reiterate: the SCA is all about the people. I had never met Edwin before (what an excellent poet!), or Robina, who obviously shares my hero-worship complex about Owen (she had to leave Saturday morning while he was away helping move hay bales, and was in tears knowing she wouldn't be able to say goodbye). Drust and Earnan are very enthusiastic newbies who helped out by constantly being up for Bardic stuff, even if no one else was. We had very neat-o neighbors from Caer Anterth named Toshikage, Grace, and Melisande, whose stove broke so they came over every evening to cook dinner with us and hang out, and helped us get additional water when we ran out. Merouda (with Poopie the Pirate), Etienne, Jen and Wulfwaru from Shattered Oak, and others dropped by for extended evening hang-out sessions. I went walking and shopping with Wyndreth and Vlad--I'm liking Vlad more and more over time. I told him about my SCA Cooks poem and inadvertently punned in saying it wasn't ready to share yet, it was still marinating. He then went into a ten-minute spate of food-related puns ("Oh, it's still in the oven, is it? Sometimes you have to let it stew..." etc., etc.) that had us all about to throttle him. I can definitely see some of what Wyndreth must enjoy about him. Of course I got to hang out a bit with old and new-ish friends: Bronwen/Ben, Lance, Leaina, and more. (Took a walk down to Horde Hill with Lance at 1 am Thursday night, in a warm fog. He wanted to show me where he lived. Now I know I've said I'm not into one-night-stands, but eventually I hope to finish a walk with Lance by being invited to stay over...or at least getting a really good kiss, none of these little pecks. He's just intensely cute.)

You probably realize by now that I could talk about Pennsic until dawn. But I'm getting sleepy, and the posting limit is probably approaching, so I'll continue tomorrow. One more thing though: I did discover that I have readers (beyond Sarra, who sometimes even writes me to respond to stuff she sees on my webpage). Colin McKinney whispered to me during Court that web-journal etiquette demanded that he confess to following my page. I was very flattered to hear it. Later on, I was a little alarmed, when I mentioned that I thought Saeric's haircut wasn't disturbing but that his shaving his facial hair would have been, and Owen said he knew I wasn't fond of facial hair changes--I hadn't liked his, he knew because he'd read it on my webpage. You could have knocked me over with a feather. After all the things I've written about him...! So Owen, if you're reading this, well, buddy, you knew I was an open book. You also knew I was your biggest fan. So, please continue to read. I refuse to stop talking about you. Doesn't everyone need a place on the Web where they can go to read about how cool they are? ;)

Thursday, August 09, 2001
It's looking like the rain will arrive at Pennsic tomorrow (yay) and then scatteredly Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Okay. We can deal with this. I know! I will bring my umbrella! That'll keep us safe!

I'm at that panic point where I know there are going to be things I'll forget, but I can't think what they might be. I am tempted to call Alissende and worry in her ear, but she is so determinedly easygoing about all this ("I've been canning! We'll be fine!") that I don't think it would make me feel any better. I decided not to go grocery shopping; I'll stop on the way into Madison tomorrow night and get some bottled water and apples and snacky stuff at Whole Foods or something. Instead I'm going to take a walk in the newfound coolness that came after the rain today. Need to get my walking muscles in gear...!

Watching the little itty bitty Presidential address. I am astounded to hear the President attempt to rationalize how he can be enthusiastically for stem cell research (is he possibly deeply in love with a stem cell lobbyist? Or entering the early stages of Alzheimer's?) and virulently against research in cloning. Artificial lines are being drawn here. Supposedly it's okay to do research on human embryo stem cells "once the life or death decision has been made" (Mr. Bush, have you really just left yourself open to anti-abortionists who think you are encouraging use of aborted embryos for research? What kind of strategist are you?), but wrong to do similar research into cloning using cells that few would consider biologically viable (hair? skin? We all lose millions of those cells every day).

Now that I hear the discussion of his silly little address, it sounds like he will allow only the very most limited use of human embryo material, that which has already been discarded. This is the MOST arbitrary part of this issue that I've seen yet--is he really attempting to limit federally-funded research to existing cell lines, when he knows darn well the private sector will be happy to develop many more cell lines and they will find their way into the public sector? What will his rule accomplish? Nothing. It's his little attempt to look principled on national television.

I can't involve myself in presidential politics since this last election. The whole thing, process and outcome, left an ugly sour taste in my mouth. When I heard there was a presidential address tonight, I immediately thought, "Clinton!", then had to deal with a moment of confusion and sadness when I remembered who the President is right now. (Why didn't I think "Gore!"? Well, he was never President. Not officially, anyway. ;) ) It's just depressing. When I catch myself feeling sorry for myself, I like to visit the Bush Countdown Clock and watch the seconds tick away. It's so soothing...

I wrote something I am very proud of on Wednesday morning. It's my first sonnet. Eventually it'll find its way onto my webpage, in the Bardic Book, but it has a function to fulfill first. I've only showed it to two people, one of whom waxed very enthusiastic about it, one of whom hasn't replied to his e-mail. When it comes right down to it though, there are only three people whose opinions matter, and they have yet to see it. I am going to work up my courage to present it to two of them at Pennsic. Wish me luck...

Wednesday, August 08, 2001

A blog I like: The Daily Dave, not quite daily but close enough. I like his sense of humor. I like his iconoclasm and curmudgeonly style (though admittedly it could get old after awhile). I like the sense that although he is willing to share more-or-less random thoughts, he is not going to drag us on a willy-nilly trip through his life and friends. Like, for example, I do. ;)

How funny that a man might not be aware that there are women who won't leave the house without makeup. I know plenty of women like this. My own mother has been known to refuse to get out of the car until she puts on lipstick (and it isn't just a lipgloss addiction, like mine).

Personally, I haven't worn any makeup, except for theatrical purposes (once...I'm not much of a theatre geek), since I was in high school. Early in high school. Perhaps even middle school. I have vivid memories of wearing cobalt-blue mascara, brown eyeliner, and varying my use of a set of four eyeshadows (pink, gray, purple, green...GREEN...oh good lord...) according to what I was wearing. Never wore foundation (I was too grossed out by some friends who glopped it on, patting it over each zit like putty until they had little mountains calling attention to every spot of acne). But I also recall blush. And beautiful lipstick from L'Oreal (12 years of studying French and I have yet to discover the meaning of the name L'Oreal) that was kind of light pink, with irridescent stuff in it that made it glow pink and blue at the same time. In fact I never had enough money to buy that lipstick, but gawd, did I want to...!

I never touch the stuff now, any of it. It's disgusting. It smells bad, is full of chemicals, and gives me acne. Worse, I feel that a woman in makeup is a walking admission of low self-esteem: she hears from the world that she is worth nothing unless she is attractive, and she accepts that and literally buys into it, in a way that the whole world can see. That's bull. I am attractive if I feel attractive. Putting fake coloring agents on various parts of my facial anatomy does nothing to help me feel attractive.

But I've always known about women who couldn't leave the house without makeup. Yup, it kind of amazes me too, but it's no longer a suprise. The world is full of amazing and wrong things, isn't it?

Tuesday, August 07, 2001

Yowza for Pennsic: It's still looking good. In fact it's looking like we'll have the satisfaction of saying, "Golly, how funny that it stormed all day Friday, we were still at work in Wisconsin that day, we missed the whole long until your clothes dry out?" ;) Countdown 4 days until I leave!

In all honesty, it's not that I can't wait to be at Pennsic. It's that I can't wait to be with my Northshield friends. Really, I think one of the best things about Pennsic will be spreading Northshield starshine, so to speak. I want to represent my Principality and be a good example of what we are. It was very sweet of Christian to say what he did about me in Calontir, to thank me for being me and for being charming and representing my home, because that's exactly what I hope to do at Pennsic.

On patriotism: those who know me, know I have never had a strong patriotic streak. I like the United States because I live here and it works for me; I like Wisconsin because it's beautiful and the people are nice; I like Madison because of all of the above and because it's my home and has a lot of great and fabulous things to offer. I am proud of these places but I'm under no illusions about their downsides, and about the failings of their people. And complain? I've been known to bend a few ears about things I see going wrong.

Truth be told I feel the same about the Northshield. But I am more inclined to be rah-rah about the Northshield because I am just now feeling that I know its people well enough to claim them as my family. People really do need something bigger than themselves to feel part of, and for me, it's not really the SCA (large unfeeling organization that makes possible what we do, but does not inspire what we do), but the logical regional counterpart that encompasses the areas where I've lived, and in which I am likely to get to know a large percentage of people: the Northshield.

It really is, like so many other things in life (including librarianship, but that's another rant) all, totally, completely about the people. They're my friends, I know them; they are mine, I am theirs. And if I didn't have that (as I didn't when I was in Calontir a few days ago), I wouldn't have anything worth my love or patriotism--all I'd have would be a sort of curiosity and abstract admiration. (That right there, plus my usual unreasoning fear, describes my first year and a half or so in the SCA. Glad I came through to the other side!)

Pennsic practical notes: two people in the southeast corner of WI who have already driven out and back, to drop off supplies and help with setup, say that overcrowding was already evident over the weekend. There is a rumor that there were more people there on the first Sunday than there were last year on the middle Sunday. I'm sure it's just a rumor, but it's scary nonetheless. They did say that our Lord Mayor (I love having a Mayor for our encampment, it's so Renaissance London, so Puss in Boots) is drawing and re-drawing campsite lines, negotiating for more land with the groups who share N19 with us, and generally being tireless in his pursuit of a well-organized encampment with room for all. Can we get this guy a Purple Fret or something? I am so impressed.

Monday, August 06, 2001

Countdown 5 days until I leave for Pennsic. Check out the forecast for the nearest town to Cooper's Lake, Butler, Pennsylvania, here. So far it looks excellent: clicking on the extended forecast from The Weather Channel shows that from the time we get there (Saturday night the 11th) until at least Wednesday the 15th, it's supposed to be sunny with a high of 79 and a low of 55. Who could ask for anything nicer? And I'll bring my cloak after all--I'll need it at night, looks like!

Hallelujah--Pennsic is looking like it might not be insurmountable after all.

A post-script about a peculiar reaction I had to the event: I left North Wood County Park at about 10:45 in the morning yesterday, arrived back in La Crosse at around 1 pm, stopped at Office Depot to get some paper and other supplies, got home a little after 2, checked my answering machine, got some food in me, started the laundry, got the car unpacked, then rested a bit on my bed and read.

At about that point, maybe 3:30, I suddenly got so sleepy that I was almost scared. I got up and moved around to see if I could clear my head, but it wasn't working. So, I brushed my teeth, got some more water into my system in case I was dehydrated, undressed and went to bed. At about 11:30 pm I woke up and could not believe I had slept so long. I switched the laundry, went to the bathroom, and wondered what to do now. For about two hours I tossed in bed and thought about the event, Pennsic, and stuff I need to do this week at work. Then I fell asleep again and didn't wake up until 5:30.

My interpretation: 40 hours straight in extremly hot, humid conditions, coupled with 2 nights sleeping on a cot with no support, costs me 4 extra hours of sleep (conservative count, assuming I'd normally need 8 hours, and assuming I didn't get a wink during 11:30-1:30, which is probably not correct). My conclusion: thank G-d I took off Monday the 20th after Pennsic. I may need that day just to sleep.

Well, I survived a weekend at Poor Man's Pennsic. Actually it was a shorter weekend than I would normally spend at that event (didn't want to take Friday off because I am taking so much time off next week for Pennsic). I arrived about 8:30 Friday night, and was off-site by 10:45 Sunday morning--I didn't even stay to clean up the site and go to Cousin's Steakhouse for a mid-afternoon lunch, the way I normally would. The event was incredibly hot and humid--I have never seen weather like that before at Poor Man's. There were perhaps four total minutes of breeze during the entire event; otherwise, just hot and wet and nothing but. Weather reports put it at about 90 to 95 all day, with 85% humidity. Nights weren't much better, maybe down to 75 with the same ridiculous wringing humidity. I never even unpacked my sleeping bag!

I was right in anticipating that I would be "Bardic Woman" at this event. In fact it got embarrassing sometimes (as when Lord Ed, deep in his cups, said over and over again in his 100-decibel voice, "You are IT, you are the Bard, my grandkids wouldn't even come to a Bardic Circle unless you are there, you are the best"). But it is also a nice feeling to be a little in-control, to know that my estimation of what is needed in terms of music or Bardic activities is important to others. For example, the Friday night circle was in Loud Camping, and was almost completely drowned out by Obsidian Flame's constant (and not very accomplished) drumming. Saturday after Court, completely tired out and still digesting dinner from Cafe China in Marshfield, I stayed and sat with Sarra and Kudrun under the Court tent and relaxed; people kept coming up to me and asking where the Bardic Circle would be, and I kept saying I wasn't sure, thinking the autocrat was going to move it after our complaints of the previous night. Turned out she hadn't. But because I never got up, and more and more people kept sitting down to talk with us, and I had my Bardic book with me, well, as the sun went down, it developed into the Bardic Circle. And it was EXCELLENT (despite missing some Bardic friends who had day-tripped and hence were already on the road--their loss if you ask me). Lord Mateo is always fun to listen to, Ingrid the Crafty is a Bardic force to be reckoned with, and I had enough people making requests of me that I never had to worry about what I was going to sing. Then we got to watch the equestrians on their midnight ride in the moonlit field. Tons of fun. May all Bardic Circles be like that.

I do have to say that the two FK ladies in charge of watching the A&S Challenge area were entirely useless. They did nothing to help set up or take down (besides putting out some of FK's entries), they sat on chairs near some of the FK entries the whole time, and talked exclusively to their friends or other SCA folk, never even making eye contact with any of the mundanes. When I was there, I went into salesperson mode, and gave people the spiel about what it was they were looking at--because it wasn't the least bit obvious. (A couple times I was approaching the A&S tent and overheard someone as they came out saying, "That's kind of a weird raffle..." or, "What was all that? Did you see where we were supposed to get tickets?") But when I wasn't there, G-d forbid either of them should lift an eyeball, finger, or voice to make clear what our purpose was. One of them agreed to make change, and by the end of the day Toki had only $9 of the $10 of dimes he had contributed for change-making. I was just disgusted. This was NOT OUR EVENT. I would have understood if FK couldn't have spared anyone to help out; we would have been happy to pitch in. But to assign people who refuse to help, merely as a gesture, is at best careless, and at worst a gesture of bad faith ("we don't really care about this competition, we can't make it a priority, so let's make it clear we aren't going to assist them and maybe they'll take the hint and we won't have to worry about it next year"). I know my former Shire well enough to know that it isn't the latter. But in my irritation, it is tempting to think that. And no one else in my current Shire knows FK like I do--so I wouldn't blame them for thinking it.

Other than that, really a nice event, as usual. Poor Man's never changes much. Despite everyone's being slightly out of sorts due to the weather, the bardic circles were good, the new Ship Battles for the rapier bunch were excellent fun to watch, and the A&S Challenge did ever-so-slightly better in terms of total $ than last year (and had some great stuff too). Court was very nice--I got to watch Wren get her AoA. It is lovely to see my recommendations taken to heart. And I got to sing in Court, which certainly doesn't happen at large events, where there is more to be accomplished, and more/better Bardic luminaries on hand to entertain if needed. Owen noted that His Highness Kenneth had partaken of Lady Alex and Lord Janvier's hospitality earlier that day in the form of a shower at their house, so he asked that I sing "Alexandra's Castle", which I did, and which was well-received. That song seems to go over better with each performance. Also, I did induce Christian to day-trip in, which I hope was worth it to him because the Jara Music Guild didn't make it, so he was left to do music stuff by himself. I stuck with him to try to build up an audience, and also because he is fun to listen to. He is really extremely talented. Anyone who can get me to like singing "Greensleeves" merely by playing guitar along with me is capable of miracles. ;)

I'm still a little physically off today, probably from the environmental change (though right now it's hot and humid enough in the Clinic lobby that I feel as though I'm still at the event!). But I think I feel a little bit more able to face Pennsic after surviving such heat and discomfort this weekend. This week: finishing the teal t-tunic, packing, grocery shopping, and more panic abatement efforts. These are my mantras: I can do it. I'll have fun. I don't need to be as scared as I am.

Thursday, August 02, 2001
So far, a relatively quiet morning. Actually, a relatively quiet week, overall. At home, I've been painting a scroll blank for the A&S Challenge (countdown two days!), making another kirtle in teal green and pink, and packing for Poor Man's.

I've also been making kumihimo sets to give away. I am currently out of cardboard for looms--can't believe I tossed out that Baker & Taylor box the books came in yesterday. They use a good quality box at B&T. Tuesday night I put together four skeins of yellow rayon and a cobbledy mix of all the rayon and cotton purples I could find, as a thank-you gift for Christian for taking me to Calontir last weekend. (Yellow and purple being, of course, Calontir colors.) Last night I did a plainer one in craft thread as a giveaway: red, purple, and two shades of orange. I would like to do a couple more tonight if I can find more cardboard. Poor Man's is a public demo, after all--maybe it would woo people if I gave away free kumihimo (especially people who are already standing at the A&S display and looking closely enough to catch me working my own loom).

Looking forward to Poor Man's. The tenor of the event has changed since we started attracting royalty. Not in a bad way either--any way we can increase pomp & ceremony at such a traditionally informal event, is A-ok with me. You honestly can't beat the site, though: gorgeous wooded county park, complete with stream and swimming hole, pastoral clearing in which fighting/equestrian/hound coursing takes place, and of course the biggest darn SCA demo in Wisconsin (one year, someone estimated 800 people came through!). Also, I admit to a selfish enjoyment of singing in Falcon's Keep bardic circles--these are the only bardic circles where I am deemed Bard In Charge, as in, "Oh, Eliane's here. Now the bardic circle really starts." (I try not to encourage this; there are other bards in Falcon's Keep, but I confess there is something gratifying about being The Bard. After all, I'm one of several in Rokeclif, despite having been chosen Bard of Rokeclif last year.)

The one thing that would be convenient would be a permanent structure in case of rain. The last couple of years the rain was just rain, drizzle to steady to dry to drizzle again; no storms. A person can deal with that (though I ruined a pair of shoes each year). Storms would be another story altogether. My first impressions of the SCA came from my very first moot in September of 1997, which happened to be the PMP wrap-up moot, where everyone spent 1/2 hour going 'whew, we survived' and telling horror stories of torrential rains, two-foot flooding, and having to lash a tent to a tree after catching it blowing across the campground. I can't handle that. I have Pennsic in a week; I am conserving my emotional energy. If it storms this year, I am going to be back in my car so fast, I may not even have time to get wet. ;)

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