Sunday, June 30, 2002

The verdict on the Pie Snit: cute idea for an event, great idea for a feast, not the best site. (Photos up at:

The site was a community building in a small town not far from Black River Falls, WI (which is itself none too large). The site itself was actually rather nice (adequate space, clean, lovely kitchen with all the amenities, etc.) but it wasn't air-conditioned, meaning that we had to leave all the doors open all day to get any air (it was at least 90 degrees out all day). This meant: 1. It was hot (obviously), 2. it got very buggy at night without getting any cooler, and 3. my allergies were pretty bad because I was essentially outdoors all day. No one stayed overnight; when the bardic circle started shedding bards at about 10:30, several Shire members at once had the idea that maybe no one should stay, in this heat with all these bugs. In the end there were only three or four people who had planned to stay over who did not have an easy way to get home, and Shire members made sure they were going to be able to find someone to stay with, and then we went home too.

Looks like I started with the end, though. Okay, back to the beginning. The day itself was very nice. There were 47 people on site and it was about a quarter Rokeclif, a quarter Shattered Oak, maybe 1/8 Coille Stoirmeil, and the rest from all over. A carload came down from Mistig Waetru (including Cyveilog, one of Princess Elashava's rapier guard, who it turns out plays a mean tuba and sings in a lovely rich enthusiastic bass...yes, I recruited him for the Northshield Choir) and Dahrien and Mysie came from Caer Anterth. It was wonderful to have some time to hang out with them--they are definitely two of the most fun, most generous people I have ever met in the SCA.

After some hanging-out time, I went to Wyndreth's bardic discussion, which was similar to the last of her discussions I went to, except that no one person monopolized the discussion, so we all got some good talking in. I then hung out until the trivia contest, which turned out to be another of Kudrun's blockbuster projects: perfectly organized, extremely creative, and crammed with opportunities for humorous moments. Shattered Oak won, which was okay with us; somehow they managed to field an entire team, while we convinced Christian, Dahrien, and a friendly newbie from Falcon's Keep to play for Rokeclif. So I guess they deserved to win on their own merit.

Didn't get to see the pie-ing of Her Stellar Highness, though I did get to see Her and Her champions getting hosed down afterwards (sample dialogue: "Have you seen the Princess?" "Yes, she's over there getting hosed down."). I am liking Elashava more and more every event. Not that I didn't like her before. Occasionally someone asks me whether I had thought of using my Hebrew name as my SCA name, and I reply that I had, but then I went to an event in Madison (my second SCA event, I believe) and I saw this friendly woman with an alert gaze and a baronial coronet sitting up front. I liked her immediately, and when I found out her name was Elashava, that put an end to the idea of my taking on my Hebrew name in the SCA. Why? My Hebrew name is Elisheva. I didn't want anyone thinking I would usurp that gracious Lady's name.

I emcee'd Her Stellar Highness' concert, during which (among many other performers) I read "Music Like Silk" because I thought Elashava would like to hear a story about a Jewish persona, and I sang a filk of "Twa Corbies" with Kudrun, and (because I was sorta sad he was missing all this, even though I knew he was probably having a blast in Ealdormere) I sang Owen's "Song for Northshield" because that's one of my favorites of his.

Wary of grandstanding, that was all I was going to do, but Her Highness requested "Three Words" (which I wrote for her, after all), and how could I refuse? So, with Finn MacArt playing the drum, I sang the piece (not my best performance, but okay). As I was curtsying during the applause, out of the corner of my eye I noticed Dahrien popping up from his chair, running around the audience, past Elashava, and whoah, running right up to me, where he threw his arms around me, picked me up, and whirled me around in the air for about twelve seconds straight while I shrieked with laughter.

Damn, what IS it about this song that makes people react so strongly? I think if I knew that, I'd be in a better position to go on and write other things that people like. But I'm in the dark.

We had pie for feast, which is the biggest understatement of the century. We had about 45 pies for feast, perhaps 40/60% savory/sweet. It was the ultimate potluck feast, except with a theme and an easily portable, endlessly varied format. Sarra complained that too many people brought dessert pies, so that we had a lot left over; I told her it was still the most delicious, most varied feast I had ever been to, and she ought to write it up for Tournaments Illuminated. (If she doesn't, I will.) No one went hungry. I took one plate of food and nursed it all the way through feast, never going back once, and was stuffed to the gills when I was done. My pies turned out very respectably: you couldn't taste the wine or the ginger (or the waxed paper) in the Pye de Paris, which was my worry, and the Tarte d'Alsace had a very yummy mellow custard base and flavorful apples. I'm saving those recipes--in the end, they really weren't very hard to make.

Quite a fruitful Court for those in attendance: Sarra, Kudrun, Cybele, and I got Purple Frets. Go see my gorgeous scroll! Mysie did it especially for me, designed after a piece from the Barcelona Haggada! It's even on real vellum! It doesn't say much, but as Elashava handed it to me, she said "There wasn't room for all the things I wanted to put on this." It was a big surprise, and a very pleasant one. What made it really unique for me is that this is the first time I have gotten a scroll that was made by someone who knew me and was making it with me in mind. (Yes, I know the award is more than just the scroll. I'm still absorbing the award itself--give me some time to expound on my new favorite scroll!)

Also notable: Giles was inducted into the Order of the Iron Watch, Bronislava FINALLY got her Award of Arms (and a scroll that expounds in lengthy and humorous detail on why she is finally receiving this award, quoting here and there from my award recommendation for her), and several good gentles from elsewhere received AoAs.

Sarra is understandably frazzled after autocrating this event, but seemed to have a good time overall, for which I am thankful because I don't want to see her get burned out and lose the fun of the SCA in all the work. I think everyone had a great time, in fact. All day people were saying that we might need to do this again next year, and I'm sure all the Shire members were thinking, whoah, let us get through this event first, then we'll worry about next year. It is a lot of work, even for a relatively informal event. But it turned out to have an excellent fun-to-work ratio.

Friday, June 28, 2002

One pie down, one to go. Tonight was not without its little adventures...

For one thing, I have no corkscrew. This is pretty logical when you recall that I don't drink. However, it means that if I want wine I can cook with, I have to get the easy-open kind over by the vinegar that is labeled "red cooking wine", or I have to get screw-top Magen David. This time, needing something hearty I could use in a meat pie, I decided to pick out an actual wine. After some perusal of the absurdly huge wine selection at Quillin's, I spent a grand total of $7.99 on something called "Smoking Loon Syrah", with a lovely pastoral illustration of a loon floating on a lake and smoking a cigar. (This in twisted tribute to Claire the Stuffed Loon, who is with Owen right now, in fact probably going to Ealdormere with him for a special event tomorrow. Bye guys, travel safely and have a great time!)

It was when I tried to get it open that I realized I should probably have gotten a corkscrew. I tried using a nut pick, then a screwdriver, both of which only served to push the cork further into the bottle. Which wasn't a huge issue for me--I'm not going to drink the stuff; I don't care if the cork goes inside and never comes out, just so I can get 1 cup's worth out of the bottle for the pie.

What I forgot was that if you push a cork down the neck of a bottle, you build up pressure--pressure that then explodes when you finally push the cork past the neck and into the bottle itself. With a 'whoosh' I found myself and my kitchen coated in droplets of red wine. It's okay, the shirt is expendable--just an old t-shirt that I bought in North Dakota. Mostly it coated my glasses, and got into my hair and eyes. I got a few droplets on a gift I bought for a friend, some on the bag of flour, and (as I noticed some minutes later) a spatter on the ceiling, which was not easy to clean and involved me standing on a stepstool on my tiptoes and swabbing vertically with a towel dipped in Chlorox cleanser, muttering, "That recipe WOULD have to call for red wine..."

Anyway, I successfully made a Pye de Paris from the a recipe in the book Pleyn delit, a really great medieval cookbook that provides modern translations for all the Middle English recipes from original sources. I used a pie crust recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, not at all period (it calls for cooking oil!) but easy to make. The result is not exactly flaky, but it's serviceable.

It calls for an easy technique to roll out the dough: divide it into two balls, put each one between two foot-square pieces of waxed paper, and roll them out between the paper until they reach the edges. No flouring the counter, no trying to keep the rolling pin from sticking to the dough, no guessing when it's rolled out thin enough. To keep the waxed paper from sliding around while you roll, they advise putting a little water on the counter. All well and good for the pie bottom, which went right into the pie plate, but I forgot the top would be lying on the waxed paper for a few minutes while I cooked the filling. In a small bit of water. Which eventually effected a change in the waxed paper such that it became indistinguishable from the pie crust and could not be removed, nor even seen except as a faint glossiness on the surface of the dough.

How, you ask, did I remove it? Well, to be totally truthful, although I was peeling little bits off the top both before and after cooking, I never really was able to get it all. And you still can't really see it, though the glossiness is still there. I'm just hoping it stays disintegrated and doesn't become paper again and get all chewy when people try to eat the crust.

I am sooooo, so embarrassed...this is what happens when I try to cook. And there's still one pie to go, tomorrow evening (though this one will have only one crust, and I'm using a different recipe for the pastry). Wish me more luck than I had tonight.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

OY. Long day. I was up early this morning for a 7 am meeting, then went grocery shopping for pie fixings after work, then picked up my dry cleaning, then worked the entire rest of the evening on the White Birch. I even got the mailing labels printed. All I have left to do is to insert the current Northshield event schedule from the website, then print. Tomorrow after work I'll get the issue copied, folded/stapled/taped, and apply labels and stamps. Oh poop. I hope I have enough stamps...

Well, the issue isn't going out until Friday anyway, which is a day late but I'm not going to beat myself up. I mean, I have pie to bake! I'm making a Pye de Paris (now I'm humming "Pres de Paris" from John Fleagle's CD "World's Bliss", which is one of my favorite newly acquired recordings) from Pleyn delit, and a Tarte d'Alsace I found somewhere on the web--basically an apple cream tart. I bought 1 1/2 lbs. of 50% ground beef/50% ground turkey for the Pye de Paris (which calls for at least two of ground pork, lamb, and beef)--I figure, no one will know unless they read the ingredient list, and it will be a slightly less fatty and more healthful pie. Yes, the turkey is a new world bird. I comfort myself with the knowledge that one Shire member, who is perhaps not quite up on the whole pre-1600 theme we have going in the SCA, is going to be bringing a peanut-butter-chocolate pie. G-d bless her, it'll still get eaten, I guarantee you...!

We are ready for this event. Betcha Sarra doesn't think so, but I do.

Sunday, June 23, 2002

I hear from one of our Shire members who made the drive over to Tournaments of Chivalry that that event was indeed hot and muggy, and wet. Ten inches of rain from 4pm Friday to Saturday morning. At least they have buildings on site at that event, though. There were, as I understand, very few buildings at the That's Amare site. Still waiting to hear from friends who went to That's Amare; if it was as wet as I surmise, they are probably pretty shell-shocked right now. Hey, guys, write and tell me you're okay!

Went to the Shire populace meeting this afternoon. It was one of the largest meetings on record, 15 people, including a friendly lord and lady who live on the north side of town and moved here in the spring from Shattered Oak (Eau Claire). They seem very nice. It's exciting to have a few new people of any kind, let alone those who are already in the SCA and know what they're doing.

Silly me, I went in garb (what can I say? I was 'raised' in Falcon's Keep where all monthly moots were in garb.), meaning in this case, my blue skirt, chemise, and pink linen bodice that I made for my first W&W. I figured, I don't have to sing at a populace meeting, so I might as well wear a bodice that compresses my midsection. I forgot that it was 85 degrees out with 70% humidity and a fitful hot wind. So even in the shade, with a bottle of water and a place to sit, all my energy was gone after an hour and a half. Afterwards, people were sticking around to talk or do rapier stuff with Torquil. I gave Sarra and Bronislava a hug and went home, where I stripped and lay on my bed panting for 15 minutes before I could even consider doing anything else.

HOW am I going to get through Pennsic?

I just started reading Medieval People by Eileen Power. This is one of those books like The Year 1000: what life was like at the turn of the first millennium or Down the common: a year in the life of a medieval woman: a novel, that wants to approach the Middle Ages from the perspective of the common person. Eileen Power picks six 'common people', only one of whom (a 7th-century Frankish peasant) really strikes me as truly a common person. The rest are two textile merchants, a prioress associated with the same character in The Canterbury Tales, and the wife of the guy who wrote Le Menagier de Paris--easily the most famous period home economics book in SCA circles. And Marco Polo. Who was pretty rich and famous if I recall correctly.

Which is not to condemn the author for really wanting to get inside these people. She obviously has an encyclopedic knowledge of both the Middle Ages and the preceding centuries during which the Roman Empire was slowly being infiltrated by just about every non-Roman influence that existed. (The edition I have, from 1992, includes a really interesting short essay called "The Precursors" that deals with this time period and how it led into the Middle Ages. Sure makes me see Roman personas in the SCA in a whole new light.) She also has an appealing writing style that is more storytelling than just listing facts, and a real affinity for personal (she calls it social) history, those tidbits and facts that give us insight into the mindset, feelings, and everyday lives of individuals. And yet everything is fully documented, every word that comes out of anyone's mouth, every anecdote, every description of a place or building or person; and each time she makes a leap of logic or an assumption, she tells us that that's what she's doing. She knows her stuff, and when she makes anything up (which is seldom), she makes sure we're under no illusions.

Most impressive of all, this woman was writing this book in the 1920's, back when not only was there no SCA (all right, there were plenty of people doing historical re-enactment, but it wasn't lived and institutionalized the way it has been in the SCA), but it was probably pretty unusual to find a woman historian touting 'social history' and getting published (and, apparently, re-published). Much less one who could write. So far the book seems to be one long excursion into what we can know about individual people from the historical record. It doesn't seem to be much, but Power doesn't want us to despair of knowing anything, and she presents us with a cornucopia of ideas on how to reconstruct social history. This is hopeful stuff for SCA members.

Saturday, June 22, 2002

Feeling better now. I declined to go to That's Amare because of our Shire populace meeting tomorrow afternoon--there's no way I could have gotten back in time. Turns out I had also forgotten Sarra's movie night/birthday party Friday night, which would have had to be driving time if I had gone to That's Amare, which is held in Thunder Bay, ONT--about seven hours away. It would have been fun to go, but there is also something lovely about just knowing that it's going on.

It occurs to me that one of the characteristics of a true community is that any involved member, when taken temporarily away from the community, can still accurately picture and describe what is currently taking place there. If we call Northshield a community, which I do, then I am glad that it's gotten to the point where I can do this.

Right now, my Falcon's Keep friends and the Lost Boys, in addition to Prince Raito and Lord & Lady Heir Robert and Isabella, are wrapping up the William Marshal Tourney at Tournaments of Summer in Medford, WI, not too far from where I used to live in Marshfield. The sun has been beating down all day and some of the horses are looking a little tired, but the banners are still fluttering in the small wind. Alissende is watering her horse and telling her what a good job she did today. Court will be in not too long, if all the fighters hurry to get out of armor and clean up.

Far to the north, at That's Amare, it's a different picture. It hasn't been warm--barely 60. After a long day of letting everyone wonder and shiver, the sky is starting to show its true colors. Weather radios are out as everyone worries about the thunderheads growing overhead. Someone arrives back from a quick run home, saying that the radar map doesn't look too good--they're in for the biggest storm cell that's currently in North America. Some are already packing tents and belongings. It's up in the air, literally, what will happen to this event. Princess Elashava has been through umpteen storms at camping events, but never as Princess; she doesn't know whether to hold Court or to pack up the scrolls and Royal Presence and begone with her retinue.

Whoah. I had no idea that was happening until I checked the weather in Thunder Bay (you have to search on "Thunder Bay, Canada"; apparently The Weather Channel is not familiar with the province names.) The details are conjecture, of course, but the weather really does look that bad. Now I'm worried. And glad I didn't go, but mostly worried. My friend Deirdre (in this photo, with me and Owen) is autocratting That's Amare. She'll do fine, everyone will be safe (if perhaps a little wet in some cases), but I wouldn't be in her place right now for anything.

Makes me feel a little guilty for my day of leisure. I slept until 11, showered, read for an hour while munching on lunch, updated the Northshield Bardic College website, read some more, put together a couple of midi files and updated the Northshield Choir website, did the last of some beaded tokens with beads I got in Minneapolis, sat outside and read some more, and that brings us up to now. It's hot out, but my air conditioner is working almost too well--when I went outside, it was like lowering myself into a hot bath after a cold winter day.

I thought of going out to eat tonight, but have decided to cook up some veggies instead, some stuff I got at the Co-Op last night. (I stopped there to get some Sibby's organic ice cream for the bunch at Sarra's party, but they were all out. Guess when something is really good, word gets around...) Then I might go to a movie, or I might stay home and work on Sarra's birthday present, which I need to have finished by next weekend's local event. We shall see what I feel like doing.

Hope my friends are okay...

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

PMS has attacked me with relish in the last week, to the point where I'm sure my eyes look like something otherworldly from all the crying. But I'm better now (got my period). So, to anyone towards whom I was inscrutable, irritated, imperious, illogical, or any other "I" word in the last week, I'm sorry. I don't usually realize how bad it's getting until it's bad (usually until I start using up kleenex like a house afire). My apologies.

I also haven't really felt like posting to my webpage, understandably, or hanging out surfing the web. Truth be told, during my recent spare time I have been either shopping, moping, painting, or watching American Idol (yes, I know, so sue me, I never said I had great taste). So, I have no fascinating links to post, no heartfelt ruminations on the nature of art, music, love, or the SCA, no announcements of great and wonderful happenings or friends getting long-overdue recognitions. Do not abandon me, alas, dear reader; you are the pearl of my internet fishing.

Instead, just for today, go read Jessie at Perpetual Motion. She's a REAL writer and manages to make life as a student in a fixer-upper home with an attractive husband sound way more interesting than I can make the SCA sound. Maybe I should make up cute nicknames for all my friends like Jessie does (as if most of them don't already have SCA names...!). Sarra, you want to be "Dances With Leopards"?

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Not feeling that much like posting today, really, but looking back at the last couple of weeks, I have been doing about 1.7 gargantuan posts per week, which can't be very readable. So, I'm here. Hi.

This is fun: Fling The Cow, easily the simplest online game there is, in both a flash and non-flash version. I personally like the non-flash version since it feels more responsive to the actual motion of the mouse (which I'm probably just imagining, but I also like the little cow with the big eyeball on its tummy, so maybe that's really why I like it better). Sometimes you just need something mindless to do.

I am slowly getting stuff in my apartment cleaned up. Monday night I cleaned the tub/shower, Tuesday I did laundry, and tonight, I did a few minutes of walking around and picking up stuff that's been sitting in the same place on the floor for months. I need to do a lot more of that.

A library school student wrote me yesterday, asking permission to show her professor my "Top Ten Library Button Slogans" piece in an attempt to get an A. I don't know if it will do her any good, but I gave her permission. There is something nice about influencing the newest generation of librarians...even in this small, tiny, itty-bitty way. When she wrote to thank me, she said, "We need people in librarianship to keep a sense of humor".

Don't I know it.

Monday, June 10, 2002

Okay, I'm back and have to say: that was definitely the best event I've ever been to. (That doesn't happen as often as it did early on in my SCA career, but it still happens. When I go a few years without going to the best event I've ever been to, I'll know it's time to quit the SCA.) Woodland Romp was amazing.

Picture a peninsula on a small calm lake, densely wooded with old pines and birches. The peninsula is probably 150 or 200 feet across, so wherever you look beyond your immediate activity area, you are surrounded by water. There are three relatively new, sturdy cabins, each with a table and bench and fire ring, and a privy; no other buildings are in evidence. No matter where you are, you're in shade. A small amount of desultory rain the first night gives way to a calm, dry, room-temperature day Saturday and a cool evening Saturday night. (Of course it's cozy in the cabins.)

Now let me wrench you by going back to past tense. This was one amazing event. There were probably only 40-50 people on site, but it felt simultaneously as though there were fewer (it was so quiet and homey) and more (there was plenty to do, Middle Kingdom court, and a wonderful multi-remove outdoor feast). I taught my first kumihimo class and I didn't even have to put together kits--Beatrix from Skerrstrand prepared enough for way more than the 6 interested ladies who came to the class. (That beats attendance at almost all the classes I've taught in the SCA.) There were lots more classes too: edible plants, sling making, several different board and group games (including a really cool one involving knocking over small logs by throwing sticks at them), a bardic discussion, card weaving, and I know I'm forgetting something.

In the late afternoon we sat at the bardic area and Alissende, Owen, a couple of Skerrstrand ladies (Laura and Elspeth), and I noodled around with some songs. Now I like teaching "Alle Psallite Cum Luya", but it would be easier to sing the thing if everyone were simply taught one of the three parts at their first group meeting in the SCA...! (When I'm Princess...kidding, kidding! You can't legislate choral music. And anyway I am not budding royalty.)

I went to my first outdoor feast, in the waning sunshine. While they had made some of the feast ahead of time, at least four of the dishes had been cooked on site (no electricity, remember) or (are you ready for this) over the fire during feast. Two dishes were cooked before our eyes using handmade period utensils. Wow, wow, wow. Plus they served homemade ale, which I didn't try but which I'm told was excellent.

Singing report: while we were waiting for feast to begin, some people were getting up and performing for His Highness Tarrach. Owen sang, Anne surprised the heck out of me with a masterful performance of "The Water Is Wide", and I did "Three Words". Okay, I am willing to finally accept that I did something good with that song. That was the fourth public performance and each time, the reaction is the same: rapt attention, gobs of applause and shouts of approval at the end.

Later I called it "simple and slow", which I think it is, with its leisurely pace and Freshman-Studies-paper structure. Owen argued that even if I thought the structure was so obvious as to be simplistic, no other bard had yet thought of it, and he didn't know anyone who would have written that song in that particular manner. I dunno, if I'm going to be convinced it's a great song, I'm more inclined to be convinced by the popular acclaim.

And the baubles. A Lady from Donnershafen in Pentamere draped a string of pearls and garnets over my head and apologized that she had nothing more to give me (!). And His Highness gave me a silver-metal bangle that has the look of something not just handmade, but researched. (Remember, the guy is a past Middle Kingdom A&S Pentathlon champion...!)

I am beginning to see how medieval bards and other entertainers could be at least partially supported by boons tossed at them after they perform. Looking mentally over my collection of rings, armbands, bracelets, tokens, etc. received after performing, they're getting progressively more valuable. At a certain point I may be of more use to the Principality by selling this stuff and donating the money to the Kingdom fund. (Kidding. I would never want to part with a single one. Ever.)

Anyway, after feast came Court at the bardic circle space. It was Tarrach's idea to do Court as part of the circle, which I thought was an extremely cool thing to do. There are fieldside courts and feast courts, why not a bardic circle court? Several local gentles received AoA's, and Anne got a Purple Fret (YAY!); then Donnershafen had a banner to present, to remind Skerrstrand of their friends to the south. Ulfin told the story of how the group began and how they grew to want to be Northshield. Five ladies from Skerrstrand sang "Savage Daughter" (very well, I might add) and Ottar gave Tarrach some brass castings he had made. The entire attendance of the event was around the campfire as Court ended. All around us dusk fell and the fire became more attractive.

Then the killer bardic circle of the year began (or resumed, is more like it). There were a ton of stories--lots of fighter stories, since Tarrach, Vlad, and Kenneth were there. I sang "My Thing Is My Own" with Anne and "Pastime With Good Company" with Alissende (we harmonize pretty well together), and told the scorpion story, which got a few laughs. Tarrach sang a piece from memory, solo, which chased away the Bog Beaste (story of the event: the Bog Beaste roams the park, and can only be conquered by song and conviviality. We were more than happy to help out.)

Vlad requested a piece of Owen's, a Viking saga that he did by memory, that blew us all away. Now I love hearing Owen sing, but strictly on technique I think I am a better singer than he is. When he reads poetry, the imbalance is corrected FAR in the other direction. The man rivets listeners. His voice dances through the nuances of each line like a figure skater. He makes every syllable of every word work towards the impact of each verse. It's just...stunning. I will not say I want to learn to do that. I don't think there's any way I ever will. But I want to be able to do things that are THAT GOOD.

In the morning we left later than we thought we would because everyone was hanging out by the fire again, eating fruit and bread and talking about how well everything had gone. When we finally did get our act together, I found that Owen had offered to meet up with some others at a Country Kitchen on the way...where we ended up haging out for another couple of hours. (When I say we, I'm talking about me, Owen, and Will; we did the radio caravan thing, which was a lot of fun. However, note to self: do not tell Owen I miss Claire, his stuffed loon, while we are on caravan, because he will WAVE HER OUT THE WINDOW and nearly run into the car in front of him. AAAAaaagh! I'm sorry, I did not want ANY of the occupants of that car, fuzzy or otherwise, hurt!)

It was ten pm by the time I got home, and I was pretty itchy from not having had a shower in three days (Rustic camping. I forgot.) but it was worth every one of the 850 miles of the drive. It's hard to describe how well this event succeeded. The fact that everyone at the event wanted to be together at that bardic circle Saturday night, in that beautiful spot by the water with the song of the frogs to accompany us, with the last rays of the sun slanting through the still-new June leaves, speaks volumes.

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

More webpage schtuff this week: updating the Northshield Choir webpage with additional midis for parts to "Matona, Mia Cara", and creating the draft of the Pie Snit webpage. (That last is only a draft, remember!) That in addition to spending much of the day putting together the newsletter for a professional organization I belong to. I really do like tasks I can do more-or-less at my own pace, at the computer, focusing intently and pushing through 'till it's finished. Don't know why. At the end of a day like this, my neck sorta hurts and my fingers feel like they're typing of their own accord, but the time has flown and I know I accomplished something.

I've also been listening to RenRadio, a website that pushes an online radio station playing ren faire music. The variety is actually quite nice--it's not all sea chanties or bawdy lasses making veiled references to their lovers' sexual organs (though there's plenty of both on the playlist). Empire Brass has some stuff, there is a Green Linnet compilation, some good versions of dance tunes I know from the SCA, and even some medieval-flavored stuff here and there. Not enough choral music, but then, there is no such thing as enough choral music, to my mind. If your connection speed permits, this is a fun station to listen to while you are working at the computer, or doing other things in proximity.

It's also a nice way to get introduced to new music acts. For instance, I'm thinking I might buy the complete works of Minstrosity--they're pretty talented, and the complete works (2 recordings) will cost all of $29 including postage. I can think of more expensive pleasures.

Gearing up for Woodland Romp, waaay up north in Marquette, MI, in an area which has a brand new SCA group. This is their first event and they are all working like crazy to get it off the ground (I'm on the listserv, so I get to see the madness firsthand, or as close to firsthand as you can get via e-mail).

Thing is, they are doing fine. They think they don't know what they're doing, but they are more organized than we ever were for events in Falcon's Keep, and they have more people working on the event than we have in our whole Shire. A few days ago the news came out that HRH Tarrach, Prince of the Middle Kingdom, will be coming to the event. They did not panic. They indulged in some exclamation points, words written in ALL CAPS, and expressions of extreme surprise--but never once did they say, "What the heck? We can't handle this, what will we do?"

I'm really looking forward to the event. Several bardic friends will be there, the site seems like it will be lovely, and I get Friday off to drive up in a leisurely manner. Plus it will be neat to see Tarrach hold what I think will be His first Court since winning Crown. More importantly, it will be so much fun to see a small, new proto-proto-incipient Shire react to all this and hold their own, as I know they will, and be stronger for the experience. YAY for them and yay for everyone who will be lucky enough to be there this weekend!

Do I seem a little happy-go-lucky tonight? Guess I am. It balances out last night, where I was a little sad--not about anything in particular, just inclined to sit and sigh and feel subdued.

Sunday, June 02, 2002

Castle Fever was fun as usual--actually even more fun than previous years because instead of being alone or with one or two friends for most of the day, I had a whole host of folks to hang out with. This included four Shire members besides me. The configuration of the Castle Fever site is such that there are two double lines of pine trees, parallel to each other, framing the fighting area, with the archery area on the far end, camping on the other side of the pine trees on either side, and 'business' (merchants, troll, food, Royal presence) at the close end. All around this is a circle of forest (except for some mundane camping, and the campground offices, on the other side of the parking lot). You could hardly ask for a nicer setting.

All day we ignored most of what was going on around us, watched the fighting when we felt like it, relaxed, talked, did kumihimo (I gave one kit to an acquaintance), snacked (there were sesame-honey candies in a basket on my little table), and sang. Members of the Northshield Choir appeared one-by-one in the late afternoon and decided to sing; we even attracted a small contingent of listeners, notably when we did Chandler's arrangement of "Shield My Kinsmen" three times in a row.

As we ran out of things we knew we could reliably sing (there weren't many sightreaders in the group, unfortunately), someone brought out a bardic book and we were noodling around with a few songs. Ingus (who also taught his new Northshield song, which is fun) was flipping through his book and I saw "Traveler's Prayer", which he has apparently sung in 5-part harmony in the past, so I asked him to sing it with me. He claimed he would be singing melody, but what he sang almost never coincided with the part I know (which I assumed was the melody because the soprano sings it in the recording on John Renbourn's album of the same name). It sounded really, really neat. What made me feel good is that with someone to sing that song with, it's no longer a solitary pursuit. I learned it for my first Bardic Madness and did it as an a cappella solo, from memory, on a high stage in front of 125 people, with a cold white March sky glaring in through high windows. I was unbelievably scared. Since then I've never really been comfortable singing that song, because I always remember the trauma of that first performance. But I think it has now been redeemed!

Kevin from the Choir brought his dumbek, so with him accompanying, I did "Three Words" at an event for the first time (the previous two performances have been at post-revels). That song is getting better and better reactions each time I do it. I especially wanted Wyndreth to hear it, since I had given her the lyrics/sheet music in April but did not have a chance to perform it for her. Her reaction was especially gratifying: as others were saying, "Vivat!" "Wow!" "That's neat!" and clapping, she burst out with "Holy crap!". I started laughing so hard, I didn't hear what else she said--that was enough for me!

This morning I talked with Bronislava and Giles on the phone, who heard me do "Three Words" yesterday, and Giles said that I have to publish on my webpage that I did a song and it was phenomenal. He said I compliment other bards on my webpage when they do neat performances, so I should give myself the same courtesy. So, I am doing so right here and right now: I did good. ;)

Court was nice. The first part of getting to know a new Prince or Princess is being able to hear their words and see their faces as they perform the most public of Royal duties: holding Court and giving out awards and recognitions. This was one of Raito's first Courts as Prince and I think he acquitted himself very well. He is a bit of a contrast to our last Prince, Niklos--who yesterday sat in the audience with his large friendly dog and was his normal, jovial, slightly over-the-top self (now with a big sparkly silver Viscounty coronet, studded with gemstones--bee-youtiful!). But neither of them suffer from the comparison. Raito manages to come across as poised, friendly and (most importantly) sincere and genuinely glad to be doing what he is doing, while maintaining his persona's style of restraint and simplicity a la Japonaise. It works. This style doesn't make people laugh, cry, and get excited like Niklos did, but it certainly doesn't put us to sleep; instead it gives us a pleasant feeling of being ruled by a guy who is present in every moment, seeing everything that happens and glad to be where he is. Sort of a Zen reigning style. I like it.

In the evening we ate Feast, relaxed in the waning sunshine, then cleaned up all our stuff and put it in the car. Owen received an invitation to come sing something from some folks from Korsvag, who (of course) were at Coronet in May, and knew him from the great big endlessly cool happenings of that day (when he was Laureled). So Sarra and I went over with him and hung out for an hour or so, singing, talking, etc. I talked to a couple of enthusiastic bardic fans, who I had not met before but who promised to come to the bardic circles at W&W next month.

At one point Owen tagged me and I sang "Willie of Winsbury" from memory, stumbling only once (I can NEVER remember who speaks first, the King or the Princess, in the first three verses!). Then a lady requested "The Water is Wide", and I said I could probably do it with someone else, otherwise I'd never remember the sequence of the verses. So Owen and I did it together, only conflicting on words two or three times a verse ;) , and he only came up with one verse I had never heard before. I suspect he wrote it on the spot. That would be so like him...! (Kidding...he'd warn me before he did that. But the fact remains that I can't find that verse in any of the "Water is Wide" or "O, Waly, Waly" lyrics I find on the web...)

Then we realized it was coming up on 11:30, and decided to be on our merry way. I got in at about 1 and put my sun-tired eyes, and the rest of me, to bed. It was a day well-spent. A bonding day. And lots of fun to travel with Sarra again, even if it was only an hour each way...!

Needless to say, I slept in this morning, which merely continues the leisurely theme of this weekend. Right now, it's trying to decide whether it wants to rain. There have been some rumbles of thunder, more like undecided murmurings than decisive claps. I am going to see the new Star Wars movie with Giles, Bronislava, and Sarra at 4. I haven't seen a movie in something like three or four months. It seems like the logical thing to do during a weekend of leisure.

Oops--now it's raining. That's okay, I found my umbrella while cleaning out the car last week. Amazing what fits in the black hole underneath car seats...!

Eliane's Bardic Book

Eliane's Scribal Works:
medieval illumination

Photo Gallery

Short Library Humor Pieces

Jennifer's Favorite Books


Favorite Quotes

Ultimate Survey

Choral and Early Music MIDI files

E-mail me

Sign guestbook

Read guestbook