Thursday, August 29, 2002

I'm tired...my back upper right tooth hurts..and it seems to be irritating my nasal passages too, because I am extremely stuffed up but only on the side where the toothache is. It's even making me sneeze. And the drainage is irritating my throat, which hasn't been great for the whole singing thing. Tuesday night at Choir (yup, we've already had two rehearsals) I sat out at least half of the rehearsal. I can only hope it'll abate a little for Saturday, when the Northshield Choir has a rehearsal and a couple of performances as part of our local Shire's annual event, Autumn Rose. And I want to be able to do some bardic performance too, maybe not a ton, just some folk songs to draw in the mundanes.

Went up to Galesville tonight for site setup. The mosquitoes aren't as bad as they've been in past years. At Autumn Rose, I turn into a decorating freak: I hung homemade pennants and banners, helped rearrange furniture in a couple of the buildings, swept the Troll area, hung my Miscellaneous Length of Vaguely Celtic-Appearing Tapestry (henceforward referred to as the MLVCAT, pronounced just like it looks) in front of the house where Viscount Niklos and Viscountess Aramanthra will be staying, and assisted Brilliana in stapling the autumn leaf garlanding to the pillars of the Troll shelter. Tomorrow a lot more will take place while I'm at work, and then I'll go over afterwards.

Sleep is, unfortunately, more important right now than blogging, so I'll sign off here. Probably you won't hear from me until Sunday night, after the event. And then I have Monday off! Tentative plans include some mall shopping (something I don't do often) to find outfits appropriate for the upcoming Jewish holidays. Probably some videos from Family Video too. Oh yeah, and sleeping...!




Monday, August 26, 2002

My apologies for the tardy appearance just now of the late-Saturday-night (=Sunday) post below. FTP was suddenly not working, through Blogger or otherwise. It turns out not only are we encouraged to use our hostnames when FTP'ing to Geocities, apparently we are now required to use our hostnames when FTP'ing to Geocities. I checked my mostly-spam Yahoo account to see if Geocities had attempted to notify me of this. Nope. No notification whatsoever. I only discovered it when my FTP settings on Blogger stopped working late Saturday night, and the only fix that worked was changing my FTP hostname. The customer service e-mail I sent Sunday has gone unreplied. Besides an ad-free website, what exactly am I paying for here?

*grumble*

I currently have the first toothache I think I've had in years, since The Summer Of Extreme Amounts of Dental Work. That was 1991, also the summer I worked at Vic's Popcorn on State St., and if you think their popcorn doesn't have hulls, you obviously haven't tried to suck them out of your temporary caps for hours on end. Pretty amazing to think that a person like me, with horrible teeth, has managed to go eleven years--more than a third of her life--without so much as a toothache.

It's a tribute to my dentist, who has been with me much of my life, and who did the excellent work that has kept me toothache- and dental-work-free for eleven years. Understand, I hate dentistry, but have always needed it pretty bad. After Dr. Peterman asked my parents to take me elsewhere when I was five and had thrown one too many tantrums in his office, I spent twelve years alternating between a pediatric dentist I hated (not as much as I hated his kids, whom I spent a summer babysitting, but that's a whole 'nother story) and not going to the dentist at all. When I came to my senses in college, I asked my mom whether Dr. Peterman was still in business. "Of course," she said, "he still cleans my teeth and Dad's." "Do you think he'd take me back?" I asked timidly. "I don't know. He may not remember the tantrums. It's worth a try." So I called and made an appointment. When he came in to do my examination, he grinned that inimitable, blindingly white Dr. Peterman grin that had always stuck in my mind and said, "Yer not gonna cry now, are ya? Not gonna pitch a fit?" Indeed, he remembered.

Luckily, he's mellowed with time, just like I have. He isn't exactly happy when I whimper or weep while he drills my teeth, but I think he feels lucky that I'm not screaming and banging on the furniture anymore. I think it helped that The Summer Of Extreme Amounts Of Dental Work probably paid for his boat. Since then I have gone in for checkups every year when I'm home for Yom Kippur (I hope G-d understands...healthy teeth are important for me, and I don't go to all-day services, so I might as well go to the dentist while I'm in Madison). That's why I'm not particularly worried about the toothache--in just a couple of weeks I have another appointment.

We have a routine all worked out: his hygienist Peggy kibitzes with me all during the cleaning, then he breezes in to look things over and jab my gums with the sharp metal cavity-seeking device and say things like, "So, your mom tells me you're living in North Dakota or something now, right?" (Hey, the guy's not paid to keep up on my life details.) I correct him, he apologizes, says a few cryptic things to Peggy about a level I on the right mesial, looks at my x-rays, tells me that I'm doing great, just great, keep it up, and breezes out again. And my insurance pays for the whole thing.

There are things in my life that are good. Having good dental insurance is definitely one of them. Dr. Peterman is another. Why else would I still be returning to my hometown 170 miles away to go to the dentist? I'll be sad when he retires.



Sunday, August 25, 2002

If there's anyone reading this who isn't aware of The Straight Dope by honorary librarian Cecil Adams and his cadre of volunteers, go now and see. This is the online presence of Cecil's weekly column, which I first became addicted to in the weekly newspaper Isthmus in Madison in high school. I have since bought most of his books, which come along every January on Trivia trips--not necessarily as reference sources, but they're useful as entertaining brief reading for team members.

On the website, there's a new featured article daily: Cecil tackles new questions, brings back old ones that are still relevant and sharp, and his able assistants offer their own bits of research. For example, current questions include:


  • Are women paid less than men for the same work? (This is a relatively simple question; it was the analysis that was important in this article, and he did okay, proving himself a realist rather than an optimist or pessimist.)
  • Which came first, Dick or "dick"?
  • Why do we twitch when falling asleep? (I didn't think this was particularly well-done, not explaining why the twitch happens in the first place, just what types of conditions or stimuli have been observed to co-exist with the twitch. I have had this happen to me when none of the named stimuli/conditions were present.)
  • What's the origin of "ahoy"?
  • Why are some belly buttons "innies" and others "outies"?


These are fairly typical. I have, in a couple of cases, used Cecil's articles to help in reference question research; if you know how tough I am in choosing reference sources, you know that's a pretty good compliment. He's irreverent, sarcastic, and curmudgeonly, but gets to the bottom of a question better than your average research generalist, and does it without talking down or leaving stuff out. Plus he chooses a ridiculous or stupid website to feature every few days in the "Weird Earl's" department. (Be warned: these are often more appropriate to view at home than at work.)

Currently drinking the last of some Berry Fanta I got at a rest stop during the trip home from Pennsic last weekend. Color: bright turquoise blue. It's so blue, it turns my tongue blue. It doesn't taste berry-like to me--it almost has a Blue Curacao thing going, esp. since one of the ingredients is concentrated orange juice. I can't decide whether I like it or not.

Today was the first blank day I've had in a month--nothing planned, my time was my own. I slept until noon, then got up and worked on Autumn Rose site tokens for a bit. Then I settled down to watch the movies I'd rented Thursday night.

Maze was really good, a story about an artist with Tourette's who falls in love with his best friend's girlfriend while the friend is out of the country. It's a beautiful love story, and the main character is really well-acted--Rob Morrow obviously has more talents than would fit in the doctor character on "Northern Exposure". Having spent his whole life fighting with himself for control, Lyle has to deal with feelings he never asked for, totally a surprise to him, while the girlfriend character is slowly identifying the same feelings in herself. He's one of the most likable characters I've seen in a movie in a long time.

Songcatcher was even better: an atmospheric portrayal of a musicologist who, turned down for a professorship because she is a woman, travels to spend time with her sister in Appalachia. She discovers the local performance of folk songs which turn out to be related to the English ballads so popular at the time. She also discovers (and would that I could discover the like in the course of my work!) a love interest played by Aidan Quinn, O he of the flowing black hair, berry Fanta blue eyes, and sturdy physique.

Now I have had a thing for Aidan Quinn ever since Desperately Seeking Susan, back when I really had no idea what constituted a good movie, but adored Madonna as part of the early 80's music scene. He's not at his best as a mumbling mountain man, but he does okay--and the scene where they kiss for the first time is gorgeous: 5 am and she is half-undressed, having heard scary sounds in the forest on her way home from a party, and removed pieces of her clothing to appease the mountain panther she assumes is chasing her. Suddenly he is standing in front of her in a clearing in the small light of dawn. She is tired and confused and scared, doesn't know whether he has been making the noises to fool her, or whether she was actually in danger. She screams at him and beats at him and he does the same, inarticulate, and then they sort of gradually seize each other. Next scene, bright sunlight, he is walking in just his pants and vest, helping her collect her clothes, denying he made those noises to fool her, and they're both laughing.

All right, let me move out of my reverie and into the next movie: Dead Funny, which I saw part of a few weeks ago in the hotel room in Appleton when I was there for Carrie's wedding. Since Andrew McCarthy's role in St. Elmo's Fire, as the neurotic nebbish who confesses his love to the woman he idolizes (and gets her in bed for his trouble), I have sorta liked the guy. He doesn't have a lot of range, but almost all of it is painfully cute. Dead Funny isn't funny (or a very good story), but he's at least cute in it. None of the characters are very interesting, the abundant foreshadowing all goes down the drain in the end, and the surprise ending is more abrupt than surprising. I found myself picturing it as a stage play, since most of it (including a lot of the flashbacks that tell the story of Viv and Reggie's relationship) is set in one apartment. It had its nice moments, and some pretty good dialogue, but in the end it made me vaguely uncomfortable.

During this movie marathon, I took the velvet sideless surcoat I got on sale from Chivalry Sports and removed the terribly low-quality glitzy mylar-gold and fake-pearl trim (the pearls were falling off at an alarming rate) that it had come with. Then I added some yellow/black/white geometric trim from S.R. Harris to the neckline, discovered that I didn't have enough of that trim to go around both armholes, and brainstormed ideas for what to do in that area. I had to do something, since the cheap mylar/pearl trim left marks on the velvet where it was attached. So I located the book of embroidery stitches I got last year at Pennsic, selected a nice-looking one, and spent a few hours embroidering it in yellow pearl silk around one of the armholes.

Since it's black/white/gold, this can only be my Coronet outfit. Once the embroidery is done, it'll just need to be shortened (it's maybe a foot too long--this was obviously meant to be a puddles-on-the-floor-length gown, but that's not a very safe length for someone who can trip over the front of a skirt that's six inches off the ground) and to have a new white underdress. I have got to get to that new underdress sometime soon. Having recently viewed all my chemises in the strong light of day after their return from Pennsic and subsequent laundry, I believe I can now objectively say they are all stained, fraying schmattes (Yiddish for 'rags'). You know you've been in the SCA for awhile when your garb is just plain wearing out!




Thursday, August 22, 2002

I'm not quite caught up on all my laundry. This morning, the only nylons I had available to wear for work were a pair of thigh-highs I bought by accident about a year ago. So I spent the day in thigh-highs. I am favorably impressed, I must say. They're non-binding, they stayed up, and they didn't get baggy. It probably helped that I wore a pair of bicycle shorts over them. I do have to say that never before have I worn hosiery that makes me focus quite so keenly on my inner thighs. Hmmm. Maybe that's the appeal...

Anyway! New topic. ;)

The Family Video store on the corner of Victory and Mormon Coulee Sts., which I can see from my front window if I crane my neck, is finished, up and renting tonight. When I left for Pennsic on the 9th it was just a roofless amalgamation of concrete brickage! As we drove up Sunday night on the way back I noticed it had lights; the next day it had shelves, and tonight, by golly, not only does it have videos for rent, it even has early-20's new-hire employees on the phone trying to convince Rocky Rococo's to bring them free pizza in honor of opening night. ("No, seriously, man, we'll give you a TON of free rental coupons.")

I walked over at 8:45 tonight (because I can simply walk over, about as quick as walking over to the bathroom to floss) and was met at the door by four new hires, bright-eyed, each wanting to give me a tour. So I let a young man in a polo shirt with a "Family Video Team Member" pin point out the free kids' videos and the Nearly New section and explain the half-price deal, while I sort of smiled at how nice new things are. Then I picked out three videos for this weekend (two Nearly New, one catalog), for which spent a grand total of $1.50. Even if the half-price deal weren't in play, three videos for $3 is still not too shabby.

Seriously, I like Family Video a lot. When the one in Marshfield went up, it took me about a day and a half to abandon the mom-'n'-pop place on the north side of town that USED to have the bonus stamp program, then dumped it suddenly just before I qualified for a free rental. Family Video has good prices and a huge inventory, and titles you've never heard of and you can't believe exist. If you want to see movies that never had trailers on network TV, walk through the aisles of a Family Video. They have crappy movies you barely remember from the summer you were 11, sitting there beaming at you from the shelf, only slightly faded, ready to bring back the feeling of being 11 and having no idea what constitutes a good movie. Oh yeah, and they also have good movies--lots of them. But they're valuable for the trips down memory lane.

Someone nice named Lara, who is also in the SCA, has signed my guestbook (that's the view page; click here to sign it). She claims to be a stick jock (someone who primarily does armored fighting) and says she found it neat to get a perspective of the SCA from the arts and sciences side of things. It never occurred to me that I was representing the A&S community in my weblog, any more than I would be representing my workplace, my apartment complex, La Crosse, etc. I mean, I love A&S, but have real issues with the A&S Faire/Competition format, and have actively decided not to try certain arts/sciences because I am prioritizing others. And (as you can see from the last post) I am not necessarily in line with the current thinking even in my primary area, the Bardic Arts. (I'm cautious, what can I say?)

Still, I guess I at least can give a non-A&S person an idea of what some of the issues might be in an artistic community. Except for the risk to life and limb, our art incorporates some of the same issues as armored fighting: we take risks with our honor and reputation, we have stellar moments when it seems we can do nothing wrong, we compete against each other for glory, we cooperate just for fun, we argue over the basic tenets of what we do and the details of how to get there, and because of our love for what we do, we end up being friends, sometimes the closest of friends. That's the SCA. You find your passion and it brings you closer to the people you love, or introduces you to new people to love (ideally, both). Whether you're writing poetry or bonking other people over the head with sticks, it's all the same. (Except you can't get to be Queen by singing. Dammit.)

This bit of SCA philosophy brought to you courtesy of Acme Thigh Highs, where our motto is, "Wow, you have really soft inner thighs..."




Monday, August 19, 2002

I'm listening to Master Efenwealt Wystle's new CD, "All That Crap". 18 tracks into a 17-track CD (don't ask) I am wondering what it is about the Kingdom of Atlantia that helped produce this guy. I love his first album, even the somewhat silly pieces, but this CD goes (I think) a tad over the line in places. Most places. Not that that's all bad! With pieces entitled "No Holds Bard", "Greensleaze", and "The Friendly Pirate Song" (which touts the exceedingly vice-ridden life of your average friendly pirate), obviously this guy is a champion of crass, a genius of gooey, a duke of dirtiness, a baron of bodily fluids. My initial opinion: I won't be listening to this very often, I won't be gifting my friend Sarra with it, and I won't be writing the Northshield Hall to recommend that everyone in the Principality buy it. But I will keep it as my guilty pleasure and listen to bits of it every so often. Quite frankly, it's a pretty good antidote to the overly serious style of a great deal of the bards of the Known World.

I have no sense of humor of my own, so the best I can do is borrow, and appreciate that of others, where I can. ;)

More about Pennsic: I really, really enjoyed traveling and camping with the people I did. Owen and I traveled in my car and camped together; Earnan, Flori, Perizada, and Lawrence caravaned with us in two other cars, and camped with us too. We had handheld radios that were invaluable in keeping us in line and together. In more than 30 hours of driving together, even through Chicago, I think we were separated by more than one car maybe only four or five times. We never managed to get out of range of each other. It worked beautifully. And I bonded a bit with some of the younger travelers, in particular Perizada, who (and I don't think this will offend her) tries to come off as a curmudgeonly sort but really has a heart of gold and an adorable giggle. (Not as adorable as Flori's, but respectably adorable all the same.) Coming home, I told Flori and Perizada the story of Ann Hamon's Mobile Duck Corps at the WI Reference and Loan Library (which story I will be happy to tell on request), and I think the story finally found the right audience!

I suppose I should say a word or two about what it's like to camp with a friend of the opposite gender, with which I'm not involved. In three words: not a problem. Once we agreed on a few standards of modesty, and arranged the tent so we each had a side to ourselves, it worked. We never even had to lower the curtain to divide the tent in two--we just didn't change in the tent. I would sleep every night in the chemise I'd worn that day, then wear it to the shower, carrying the next day's chemise/undies/bike shorts, the next morning, and come out clean and changed. One thing's for sure, you can't beat camping with a close friend. Those late-night talks, recapping the adventures of the day, are priceless. And it's very nice to have someone to look in the eyes and say "Hi!" to as soon as you wake up. Starts the day off on the right foot, you know?

An aside: I think there should be a service where instead of having to wake up to an alarm's beeping or the radio, you could contract with a service that would place a video screen and speaker in your bedroom. At the requested time, someone with a pleasant face and demeanor would come on the screen, and you'd wake up to their voice saying, "Hi there...are you up yet? It's nice out. Come have some oatmeal. There's lots of hot water for a good shower. Good morning!" and their face smiling at you. It wouldn't be a videophone--they couldn't see you, so if you were sleeping in the nude or engaged in unspeakable behavior, you wouldn't need to feel inhibited or embarrassed. But they could hear your response when you pressed a button, so you could say back to them in the same spirit, "Hey, good morning! Sleep well? Oatmeal sounds good. Is the rain over? Looks sunny to me...", to complete the experience.

Just an idea. Anyway...

One of the Pennsic things that I feel both good and weird about is that over the course of umpteen bardic circles, ten hours of bardic forum discussions/classes, and a goodly dose of just-hanging-out-and-bonding-in-the-food-court this Pennsic, there appears to be forming a sort of Bardic Cabal. Bards from eight or nine difference kingdoms (but mostly Ealdormere, Calontir, and the Middle) seem to be building a consensus group on bardic activities in the SCA, which conversely functions as a peer (small P) group and friendship group. On first glance this is a nice thing; everyone, even (or perhaps especially) bards, can use a circle of friendly people who appreciate what they do. On second glance this is still a nice thing: As Owen commented to me on the way back, there are things that we as a communicating group of bards can do to advance the cause of the bardic arts in the SCA in general. On third glance, I become uncomfortable with the appearance of exclusivity in the group (hence my application of the word "cabal") and my worry that by becoming friends and defining ourselves as a group of great bards, we are by definition making others feel that if they are not part of the group, they don't count and aren't on The Track to Stardom. Or, dare I say it, The Track to Laurelhood...

(Oooooooooohh. She said it.)

I was included by default, as Owen's shadow and soon-to-be-apprentice. (The man was swimming in star power this Pennsic, good jeepers creepers, it was frightening to watch.) Even so, I did notice that there were some in the group who would not talk to me or look me in the eye until they had heard me sing, and some not just until they heard me sing, but until they heard me sing "Three Words". The power of a good song can be scary to its singer. Unfortunately, in this case, their reaction says more about the listeners, than it does about the quality of my song.

I'm looking forward to seeing my new bardic friends, and hearing their voices again, at The Known World Bardic Congress & Cooks Collegium in October, which is too long to say and is usually referred to as "Bards 'N' Cooks". Sarra and I will be flying to Toronto for it. There'll also be lots of opportunities to see some of the same people over the next year, too (for example, the two Bardic Madnesses). As I told Owen on the drive back, I will be watching this group of bards like a hawk even as I participate in it. I want to see: a) inclusiveness of others even BEFORE they open their mouths to sing, b) less of a "wannabe" attitude on behalf of the younger bards than I saw at Pennsic, and c) more sheer love for what we do.

If this group grows into its cabal-ness and becomes more of a force for clique cohesion than for good, I will not be associated with it.




Sunday, August 18, 2002

Got back about an hour ago from Pennsic. First observation: boy, does it feel weird to type on a computer keyboard after nine days away from computers...

On looking back (admittedly not from much distance yet, but we'll see how I assimilate things over the next week or so) I think I had a good war. (For non-SCA types: no, your favorite pacifist has not gone completely bonkers. Pennsic is a war between the Middle and East Kingdoms, even if in most aspects, it resembles an outdoor worldwide convention rather than an actual war.) I say that I think I had a good war because I had some miserable moments. It will take a few days to process all of it enough that I can say whether the miserable moments were worth it.

Some were inevitable. It was hot--really hot. I never even found out quite how hot. It would have been useful, in retrospect, to swing by the chirurgeons' tent once a day to see what the current and predicted temperatures were. I had been expecting highs of 80-87 every day; the day we got there, a bank marquee in town said it was 98, and I laughed because it didn't feel anything like 98. I still think that estimate was high, but I wouldn't be surprised if highs were in the 90s rather than 80s for at least 3/4 of the time. At times it was intolerable (the tent, the porta-privies, and some of the classroom tent structures were like ovens for good portions of the afternoons and evenings). Many, many times I sat (or walked) and sweated and thought, never again...I don't want to be this uncomfortable for this amount of time ever again.

There were a couple of times when I felt I was in the wrong place--not that I had been wrong to go to the event, but that I had to leave where I was immediately and go back to the Northshield encampment. One of those was after the laureling ceremony of Garraed Galbraith, a 'star bard' from Ealdormere. This was Wednesday night, after Northshield court (which was brief and on time, allowing me and others to get down to the Barn in plenty of time for Ealdormere court) and before the announced big-bang-up-wow Northshield party and bardic circle. Before Ealdormere court, a lot of the Ealdorbards (as I have come to know them) plus a bunch of bards who were either participating in the ceremony or had hung out together at previous bardic activities earlier in the week, plus me (luckily I knew the chorus to both songs), got up to lead everyone in a couple of traditional Ealdormere songs.

You would not have believed the sound. The whole audience was singing along in eight-part harmonies, not to mention a good proportion of the bards of the Known World. We raised the roof. There were tears streaming down my face towards the end. I won't say I've never heard such a gorgeous sound before--a rendition of "Row, Men, Row" at Dahrien and Mysie's house a couple of years ago sticks in my mind--but never actually at an SCA event, much less before Court in an extremely non-conducive acoustic space. That was a good kind of crying. That was crying because I felt so lucky to be participating in something of such extreme and joyful beauty.

Then I cried during the ceremony because it was so well done and so many wonderful moments were scattered across it: Garraed's students telling what they knew of him and why they trust and admire him, nine bardic Laurels of the Known World speaking of why he is their peer, Gwerydd reading the poetry on his scroll while he stared in disbelief at the fully functional lute which is his scroll, etc. That was, if not precisely a beneficial kind of crying, one I'm willing to deal with.

Then I looked up at all that was happening and a different template superimposed itself on the situation. For a moment it was both Sarnac and Jolecia (King and Queen of Ealdormere) and Alys Katherine and Valharic (King and Queen of the Middle) up there. We were both in Pennsylvania and Fargo, ND. It was now and it was May. Owen could have been about to get up and receive the same accolade as Garraed, as he did at Coronet in Fargo in May when I could not be there. What I had wanted more than anything to see, Owen's Laureling, was again as real to me as a phantom limb, hacked from my body, would have been--not at all real, but ten times as painful. My heart was broken all over again.

I looked around me and except for the bards waiting in the aisle with me, Mysie and Dahrien, and the few people I knew who had participated in the ceremony, I knew no one. This was not my Kingdom. I did not belong here and I didn't want to stay another minute. But because we were close to the end of Court and I was in a spot where I would have been conspicuous if I fled, I pasted a dreamy look on my face, hoped everyone would assume they were still tears of joy for the moment, and waited. When Court ended I got up, launched myself first into Dahrien's arms and then Mysie's (where I worried both of them when my defenses against more crying failed suddenly), then said, "I have to go home", and made record time back past the store, across the street, through the food court and the merchants, across the Serengeti to the Northshield.

By the time I got there, I had been walking for long enough that the tears were mostly dry. I set about arranging chairs for the bardic circle, not meeting anyone's eyes. I felt ashamed for not enjoying Garraed's Laureling for what it was. I felt weak, which for me is a remarkable thing; for most of my life I have accepted that I am weak, and so to feel any less strong than usual is a source of real shame. I felt worried that I would never enjoy another bardic Laureling again. When the chairs were in place and the circle begun, I'm afraid I indulged in some grandstanding, doing four pieces, including a circle-breaker (funny and well-written on Gwerydd's part, but not well-placed) with Gwerydd and her sister Eleanor. None of this was particularly reprehensible; it was the spirit in which I did it that was bad. It was that part of me was angry at what I had had to go through, and wanted to have my way at the circle. Which is understandable but not very noble. When it was all over I felt I had sung well, but done some nameless violence to myself and to the listeners at the circle by grabbing the limelight.

All of this was just to elucidate one of those moments when I was in the wrong place, when I was miserable, and what the sequelae of this were. The worst part about those moments is the way they make me act, the things they make me say and do. Of course I wasn't myself--who is themselves at Pennsic, with the heat and the elements and the stress and excitement, and the poor food and hydration and sleep habits? But there are only so many times I can invoke those excuses. Sad to say, I won't be able to look back with happiness on that night.

Which is not to say I didn't have other nights on which I can look back with pleasure. Hopefully I will have time this week to recount some of them, too. For right now, I need to switch the first load of laundry (the towels, which were still wet from rain Friday night) into the dryer, unpack my overnight bag, gargle with some salt water (did I mention I caught a nice summer cold starting late Friday afternoon, now descending into my throat?), and go to bed so I can start processing this experience.




Wednesday, August 07, 2002

That 10-day forecast again. It's looking like we won't see a whole lot of sun next week, but with any luck that won't mean just rain. Overcast I can deal with. Pouring down rain is another matter. (I have re-packed my boots, just in case.)

I'm nearly packed. The clothes are picked out, one of the rubbermaid totes has been closed with the hope that it won't be opened 'till Pennsylvania (yeah, right, but a girl can dream), I made three kumihimo kits tonight, washed the car, got cash at the bank, paid all my bills, and went to Shopko for a few items. Tomorrow night: the fabric store, and cleaning out the inside of the car, which is harder to do than cleaning the outside of the car, because it involves actually removing and discarding all the candy wrappers and directions to long-past events and notes to myself and empty water bottles etc. etc. etc. that sully the interior. And I gotta do that myself...because some of it, I might need. (Carrie's mailing address is in there somewhere, and I need to send her a wedding gift!)

Have you been reading Overdue, the comic strip set in a library? Thursday's isn't very interesting, but I see the glimmer of romance in Wednesday's, between youth services librarian Tamara and tree serviceman Chuck, who is, yes, wearing a woodchuck suit (his business is called Woodchuck Tree Service). Why is he wearing a woodchuck suit in the library? He was drafted on short notice to play the Teen Summer Reading Program's mascot, Buddy the Book Beaver, when the real Buddy (sick from being shipped live in a crate to the library) was kidnapped by nudist and animal rights activist Ned. (Woodchuck, beaver, what's the difference, and can today's teens really tell? Apparently not.) Chuck is stuck inside the woodchuck suit because the zipper broke. Why he's still at the library after three weeks, I don't know (and I REALLY don't want to think about how bad he probably smells by now...)

If it sounds like this strip has some promising characters and scenarios, it sure does. I'd enjoy it just for Dewey, the cynical, pragmatic young reference librarian who has the gall to refuse to read a patron TV schedules over the phone: "My job description doesn't say 'T.V. guide'". But it also attempts to have plotlines, none of which are dealt with in much depth right now, but maybe that'll change. A subplot about an older librarian who adopts a baby girl from China is brought up quickly and used for about two gags, and that's it. And Buddy's still inexplicably around, and judging from the hearts drawn around his head in Wednesday's strip, he's developing quite the crush on Tamara. We'll see where that goes.

I think I can handle this whole Pennsic thing. It won't be the same as last year, but it'll be good.




Monday, August 05, 2002

It's a pretty evening: the stars are out, and it's maybe 66 degrees, just cool enough to feel refreshing but not make you shiver. Would that every night at Pennsic could be like this. I remember last year, there were some nights where I would have lain naked and sweating on top of my sleeping bag if I could, and some nights where I bundled up under every last piece of fabric I had. I gather that's normal for Pennsic. If that's normal, I'm hoping we don't have any true extremes this year. It's so hard to come to any conclusions from the 10-day forecast, except that indeed, as it is here, it is currently 66 and clear in Slippery Rock, PA. The next few days look gorgeous; then it looks like storms/cloudiness and low 80's from Sunday on. All we had last year was drizzle; I'm not up for storms.

Hear that sound? That indefinite crackling or smoldering sound? That's the sound of me fretting. Fret, fret, fret. And that intermittent sound of frenzied sock-clad footsteps and cloth being pushed into plastic containers? That's my occasional packing moment. Pack, Eliane, pack. (Thus far there are too few of those packing moments. That's going to need to change.)

This past weekend: much fun. I day-tripped Poor Man's Pennsic, and stayed at the Stardust Motel in Marshfield when I wasn't at site. I don't think I quite recommend the Stardust. When I drove up to it, I cast a longing glace across the street to the Park Motel, which had a much more respectable look to it. The room was humid and slightly smelly, as though it were closed up for part of the year. But the bed was comfortable and they had gobs of cable channels.

Poor Man's was lovely. It was only a slightly warm day--maybe 75 degrees, mostly sunny. I spent most of my time either with the Choir or with the Tor Aerie folk, who were there to perform a masque. Yes, a masque. Basically: a shortish theatrical production incorporating choral and vocal singing, dance, instrumental music, and poetry. This group of friends and acquaintances rehearsed for three weeks and came up with this gem of a performance, directed by THL Christian d'Hiver, with Owen as Sir Orfeo the harper king and Eve as his queen, who is spirited away into the underworld to dance with the fairies, causing a chain of events with an eventual happy ending. I knew I'd have an urge to jump up and join in, so I took Perizada's black-and-yellow parasol and shielded Her Highness during the performance, which gave me something to focus the other part of my attention on. (I need to multitask.)

Everyone was just amazing. Much of it (and all of the singing) was done from memory, and all the dancing was perfect; three people that I hadn't known to have much interest in dancing did a flawless Buffens (with Owen, who does dance, and well) with pretty painted wooden swords. And the ENTIRE company sang "Rest, Sweet Nymphs" (re-tooled as "Rest, Sweet Queen" as the Queen's consolation song) in the original four parts, including quite a lot of people whom I'd never heard sing anything choral before and I know they don't read music. I would like to know how they all learned that piece, because whatever technique they used might be helpful in the Northshield Choir.

In the evening I went with a large group of people to China Cafe in Marshfield; rode over with the Nordskogen contingent, and back to site with the Jararvellir contingent. The buffet was only okay. They have started putting crabmeat (fake, of course) in the velvet corn egg drop soup, which is enough to make me boycott a Chinese buffet. At least it's big honking disc-shaped pieces, so I noticed it before I would have taken some and eaten it...!

The bardic circle was nonexistent before I got back; then Ruadhan, Kontzel and I, plus Wulfric and his new lady (yay! Wulfric has a lady!) and various wandering folk, planted a tiki torch over by the parking lot and dragged up a picnic table and some chairs. It was an odd spot but did collect some people. Not the Falcon's Keep folk, who I assume were over in the quiet camping area, but someone said that was not a bardic circle area because bardic is too noisy. Well, fine, after four years of doing bardic there, it's finally too noisy. So we chose another spot. Then it started to rain. So we all packed up and I went back to Marshfield. Where I watched Saturday Night Live and was glad I wasn't camping. ;)

Sunday I drove over to the Twin Cities for a demo being put on by Nordskogen. For a group that doesn't have to do demos to recruit people, they do pretty nice demos (if a bit muggy and buggy, though neither was their fault). Tor Aerie put on the masque again (I got to play tambourine/drum and sing along!), some rapier fighters strutted their stuff, Mistress Cassandra displayed some of her gorgeous gowns, Colin and Christian played dance music so we could dance (and I did, and only tripped over my own feet once; even helped one of the Boy Scouts learn "Toss the Wench"), and Owen and I did a tag-team bardic show: he did his William the Marshal recitation, we did Chandler's new song, I did "When I Was In My Prime", and then we did Stella Splendens together. In the in-between times we drank lots of water--we were sweating up a storm--and I showed kids how to do kumihimo and handed out my last two kits and a sheaf of handouts. Then a bunch of us went to Applebee's. I got back about 11 and slept really, really well.

I'm listening to the new CD from Mistress Wyndreth and her apprentice, Aelfreda (or as we know her, Goonie), mundanely known as Karen Kahan and June Zenner-Tyrell, who live not too far from here in Eau Claire, WI (that's the Shire of Shattered Oak, the next shire North of here). I sure hope this is being marketed at Pennsic. It's true there'll be a glut of new recordings out--Owen's, Hector's, Morgana's two, Efenwealt's--but this one deserves to be out there with the rest of them. To their credit, Wyndreth, Goonie and Rheltyr (Goonie's husband and the recording engineer) have worked hard to get a nice website up about their recording, which is more than most of the others have done, though Efenwealt has a smallish page on his site about his new CD and Hector is marketed on Mistress Marian of Heatherdale's Amphisbaena Music site.

This week: I need to buy some brown and white fabric, go grocery shopping, study the Pennsic Choir repertoire some more, make a list of (growing number of) things I need to buy or find or pass on for various people at Pennsic, clean out the car, take it through the car wash, finish the laundry and pack my remaining chemises, make some kumihimo kits, call my parents, charge my cell phone, and get lots of sleep. That last one is important...!



Friday, August 02, 2002

Been an okay week, and tomorrow it ends (as weeks usually do on Friday). It ends with my going off to Marshfield, where I lived prior to moving to La Crosse, for Poor Man's Pennsic. I'm not camping--I'm actually hotelling. I mean, motelling. After all, I never got to stay at the Stardust Motel when I was living there (who stays in motels in their own town?), so this is my opportunity. Mostly I don't really care to camp so soon before Pennsic, plus I agreed to be at a demo in Minneapolis on Sunday afternoon and I didn't want to have to clean up and put away the tent and all that before the demo. It will be so nice to sleep in an actual bed...not that I don't do that at home, but I've camped at Poor Man's for the last two years, and I just don't feel the need to do it every year.

It will be a fun event though, esp. for music stuff. My friend Christian is directing a masque--yes, a real live masque, complete with dancing, acting, singing, and instrumental music, as a performance during the demo portion of the day (and then again at the demo in Minneapolis Sunday). I can't wait to see it. I'm totally jealous that there are going to be choral performances somewhere in the Northshield that I can't be part of, but obviously I wasn't there for the rehearsals, so there's no reason they should let me sing. Except that I know the music...*sigh* Okay! I'm going to bring some M&M's to eat during the performances so my mouth will be otherwise occupied and I won't be tempted to sing along.

We are leaving for Pennsic next Friday morning the 9th. I'm not ready, not even working very hard to be ready, just treading water as I'm sucked into the Pennsic vortex. I haven't even packed for this weekend yet, but that's not going to be tough--I just need to grab two outfits of garb, pack underwear and such, and make sure I have beverages and snacks for the day. Most of which I can do tomorrow evening (it's only two hours to Marshfield, and I doubt if I'm going to go over to site tomorrow evening).

Had a nice conversation with a friend from Ealdormere, Gwerydd, this evening. She is a wunderkind (I think 19 years old) who is one of the most incredibly talented poets I've ever met. She reminds me of Aryanhwy, the first person I ever met in the SCA (she was on the other end when I called the number on the flyer I picked up at the public library), except cheerier and currently more involved in the SCA.

And now, I'm sleepy and out of things to say. See you on the other end of the weekend.







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