Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Shamefully delinquent WWXI musings
Or, The summer of leisure continues

Warriors and Warlords XI was...different, with me being part of the staff for the first time. Still good, still magical in spots. But different. You know how I always say there are things I don't need to know in the SCA (mostly having to do with Nordskogen politics)? Well, I think there are things I didn't need to know about WW. But knowing them didn't ruin my experience. It just made it different.

That having been said, I was extremely pleased with how the bardic activities went. This was my role on staff, running bardic stuff. The Feedback Session, which I worried myself into a tizzy over during the weeks leading up to the event, went so well you'd think I'd sold my soul to something dark. Of the five feedback providers I had lined up originally, only two could make it (grumble), so I sat in as a feedback provider too. Originally I was going to just be an emcee. But this worked okay, and I didn't feel that weird giving feedback. After all, I wrote the feedback guidesheet; I better have known what to do/not to do as a feedback provider.

We had 7 performances, from all types of bards. This feedback session was just for critiquing performance technique, which allowed us to ignore poetry scansion, modern weirdnesses, etc. that we might have felt odd critiquing. Kudrun, Cerian and I got a groove going where we took notes, then talked informally about the performance. And each person seemed satisfied, even happy, with the comments. I doubt I would have been able to be that composed listening to feedback on my performance. This started out as an experiment, but turned into yet another reason to be proud of the bards of the Northshield. Everyone hopes we do it again (NOT during Bardic Madness), and Will, who has been appointed bardic guy for WWXII, has asked me to run it again there. I most certainly will.

I was not worried, but slightly apprehensive, about the Bard of the Middle contest. I needn't have even been that. The King and Queen are nothing if not regal on the thrones, and they gave smiles, tokens, and personal thanks to each participant. Owen and Wyndreth assisted by advising Their Majesties. The performances were good, not great, but chalk that up to nervousness and the fact that we didn't even have a scheduled time for the contest until ten days beforehand, so many people didn't get adequate time to prepare. In the end, I think the right person won (you should have seen the grin on Owen's face), and the rest of the competitors seemed to feel the contest went well. When the only criteria is "King/Queen's whim", no one needs to feel bad if they don't win. My opinion only.

The evening bardic circles were wonderful, as usual, even if Thursday was a bit slow to get off the ground. I did discover that the torchlight heavy fighting tourney, scheduled to start about the same time as the circle on Friday night, was held just across the green from us...and involved a cadre of enthusiastic drummers. Dratted drums! Dratted heavy fighters! Is it too much to ask them to hold an armored tourney, hmm, I don't know...on the battlefield?! Not that the drums wouldn't have carried all the way from the field! I dunno. If I were a heavy fighter, I think the drums would throw me off my rhythm when fighting. But that's just me, and I'm not a fighter.

Someone flirted with me during most of the time at the circles, which was surprising both because when you're in "bardic circle host" mode you aren't thinking about that sort of thing, and also because of who it was. Let's just say it was unexpected and not entirely unwelcome, but a little perplexing. That's all I'm going to say about him.

I noticed Dolan from Calontir talking intently with Cerian Saturday night. I had intended on broaching the idea of Bardic Madness Calontir with Dolan at some point in the next year, but it's entirely possible that Cerian accomplished that for me. Cerian & I will have to talk at Pennsic (I didn't get a chance to ask him what they had discussed).

Um...Pennsic. Yes, it approaches. I'm traveling with Iohanna and Serafina, people I've never traveled with before, but I hope it'll be fine. I adore Iohanna; don't know Serafina really, but Iohanna says she's a kick to travel with. In all likelihood it will be fun. I'll bring my Reduced Shakespeare Company cassettes. Those are always a winner on long trips.

As for the prospect of camping in Pennsylvania with 11,000 of my closest friends, I just keep thinking this: I couldn't possibly be more depressed this Pennsic than the last one. It can only go up from there. It can only go up from there. It can only go up from there...

Last week was the last week of UW-Madison Summer Choir. I must say I really enjoyed it. We did the Brahms Liebeslieder (I figured it out: in all, this was the fifth time I've done them, in part or in whole, and the second time in Summer Choir) and the Liebeslieder Polkas of PDQ Bach/Peter Schickele, which are a hoot. The conductor, Bruce Gladstone, is excellent--possibly the best I've seen in that particular highest-ranking-conducting-grad-student position. Jamie Armstrong, who conducted Madrigal Singers when I was in that group in grad school, was wonderful but sometimes had trouble making his vision understood. Once you got to know him you sort of understood "Jamie-speak", but newbies were often frustrated. Bruce has no such problem. He has a continuously clear idea of what he wants from us, and a continuously clear way of communicating it. And he wasn't afraid of humor in performance, which is not true of many of the best conductors, unfortunately. I liked working with him. I hope I'll get into Madrigal Singers in the fall.

This week, I've been pretty much off-schedule, getting stuff done at home. It feels good. Colin (hi, Colin) once said I was one of the more domestically-inclined people he'd met. (Obviously he never saw the state my last apartment was in for the last couple of years I lived there!) Sometimes I agree. It is a joy to just hang out, get laundry and dishes done in a timely manner rather than letting them back up until I don't have the clothes or dishes I need, cook on the stove (no microwave yet, and no real rush there), get some kumihimo done, take walks, and contemplate the upcoming SCA events and the occasional job possibility with a clear head. Well, as clear as my head ever gets, anyway.

Kumihimo note: I just received Shirley Berlin and Carol Goodwin's new book, Sixty Sensational Samples: a kumihimo collection and have been drooling over it since I opened the box. You can order it here (I got it right from Carol, but this is the only web-based source). I made my first braid from it last night and am delighted. I can't wait to try more. Hopefully I will even make it to the hardware store sometime soon to get more counterweights so I can try some of the 16-bobbin ones. The one I tried was 12 and you could tell the counterweight was just this side of adequate; it won't handle 16, and the system I tried with batteries in a baggie was just too unwieldy. I need more nuts. (Nuts? Isn't that what those things are called that screw onto bolts? Anyway, those things.)

My apprentice sister Robina came into town unexpectedly yesterday. Since I'm not really on a schedule this week, I dropped everything (everything consisting of some kumihimo bobbins I was winding and a vague plan to go out for a delightful coffee drink at some point) and we hung out for awhile. She suggested going to the zoo, so I checked out the webpage and discovered the buildings were already closed (they close at four) and the grounds would close at 5. So we skittered down to Vilas for a brief walk around the grounds before they closed.

Luckily the best things at this particular zoo are either outside, or readily visible from the outside. The sea lions were making the most appalling gargling noise by floating vertically in the water, treading until the corners of their mouths were just under the surface of the water, and roaring. We left them and went to see the giraffes, who were enjoying a dinner consisting of a bale of fresh hay dropped into a metal basket on the wall. They looked clean and very huggable. We saw ducks, noisy flamingos, black swans, a large shaggy irritable polar bear, and a black bear whose favorite pasttime seemed to be lying pressed against the door between his enclosure and the polar bear's, peering through the tiny gap under the door and listening intently. We spoke for him: "I want to be a polar bear...he's so glamorous...why do I have to have this black fur? It's so hot in the sun. The polar bear's got it made. Everyone loves him...I love him..."

Robina had to drive back to Dubuque after dinner, but it was still fun to have spent a few hours with her.

All right. This is getting lengthy, even for how long it's been since I last posted. I'll wrap up. This weekend: Newcomer's Day in Windhaven. No camping, just me observing newbies and pondering my new role as Principality Chatelaine.

Friday, July 16, 2004
More early music immersion
Or, Summer storms drive the library
I'm in the Kohler Art Library, which I decided back in library school was my favorite library to spend a bit of spare time in.  It's peaceful (esp. today; it's Maxwell St. Days on State St. and the library is deserted), well-laid-out, has windows, and comfy seating.  It also has a lot of great art books, including tons of calligraphy/illumination resources.
But today I'm taking refuge here.  This afternoon was the participant concert for the Madison Early Music Festival, which I don't have the funds to attend but I did buy a $50 concert pass.  The concerts have been wonderful and copious.  Two friends from the Rose Ensemble workshop are involved in the Festival and I've gotten to hang out with them a bit. There's another concert tonight, which is why I haven't gone home for the evening.  But the heavens burst forth in a summer storm right after I left Humanities, so I ducked into the Elvehjem and here I am.
The library closes in ten minutes so I'm just puttering around on the computer, checking e-mail and such; no time for a detailed look at the library's new C&I materials.  I will need to come back next week.  You see, I got myself a community circulation card and now I can check this stuff out!  (insert sound of cheering here)
I know I haven't done a W&W report yet.  I'm doing my bardic area report for the autocrats soon, and want to get that done before I jump into memories and start writing them up.  Suffice to say that everything went absolutely beautifully.  And that I wish wish wish I could always camp right next to the bardic circle.  It was so convenient.  The autocrats made the bardic circle area a no-camping zone this year; this was a great idea, and I got an exemption since I was running bardic activities.  But someone from Nordskogen will be running bardic next year, so I will be exiled again.  *sigh*  Maybe I can seize it again in 2006.  I am tempted.  But probably I'll be appropriately generous and find some other Jararvellir person who's ready to do the task.  It was not a difficult task for me, and anyway I run bardic stuff all the time; someone else needs the challenge, and I need a different challenge.  (Info point?  Hmm...)
This week has been lovely.  Went to lunch and then swimming with Mom on Wednesday.  The pool at Sleepy Hollow is much nicer than I expected.  We had a blast.  I hope I can get her to come over once a week or so.  It's no fun swimming alone.
All right, I'm noticing that the sun has come out, and the library closes in just a couple of minutes, so I'll be on my way.  Don't want to anger the library staff (who knows when a staff position might open up here, and they'll remember me as the irritating woman who types up until 4:44 when they close at 4:45).  I WILL be posting a W&W report soon.

Sunday, July 04, 2004
Countdown 4 days to WW
Or, Time to open up the Rubbermaids...

It occurred to me that it's been since Pennsic last year that I last looked in my smaller blue Rubbermaid tote. This is the one where I keep miscellaneous supplies such as batteries, bug spray, a lighter, camera film, a can opener, etc., and since it's so full of little things that I wouldn't want to have to pull apart and store in 15 other places for the rest of the year, I never unpack it. But I usually don't go 11 months without looking at it...! I certainly hope I didn't leave anything foodlike in it...

This is easily the longest I've gone into a summer without camping first year in the SCA. Yeeps. Come to think of it, unless you count last weekend's Autumn Rose feast preview at Sarra's, the demo for 4-H last Sunday, or the Bardic Buddies thingy about six weeks ago, this is the longest I've gone between SCA events in about five years.

Checking my calendar...

It's been seven weeks since Crown/Investiture. As Owen would say: "Oh, my." Wow. I don't know quite how I feel about this. I've certainly been active in WW planning (I've been to almost all of the work nights), I've been at Jara Choir when I've been in town, and I've been doing SCA crafts of various kids (made a bodice, kumihimo, beadweaving, etc.) But no actual events.

I suppose I shouldn't chastise Michel in Iowa for never attending SCA events and 'playing SCA by e-mail'! Well, uh...actually, he never comes to anything. At least I've been participating locally.


Last weekend at Sarra's was fun. I got to hang out with Bronislava, Giles, and Kudrun (who was interested to hear some of the stuff I'd brought back from the Rose Ensemble workshop a few weeks ago). The Roman-themed feast for AR should be amazing. The lamb roast alone is pretty remarkable; I didn't even taste the cheese squares, but everyone else raved over them. And you wouldn't believe the salad you can make out of simple romaine lettuce with some olive oil, olives and lavender buds. I might have to try that one myself at home.

Sarra told me about some Japanese candy she got at the local mall, in the Anime section of Suncoast (no longer Suncoast Video, btw; the only actual videotapes they still carry are exercise videos!). So we went over to the mall Sunday to look. I believe this was my fourth visit to Valley View Mall ever, despite having lived in La Crosse for four years. I like the concept of malls, but the merchandise seems so monotonous, even (especially?) at the nice ones.

They had discontinued the candy section, but had a few extra things, including these "yogurt candies", which are actually little fruit-flavored tablets that dissolve into powder on your tongue. I used to buy these as larger, individually-wrapped candies at an Asian store (darned if I can remember which one) but hadn't found them in years. So it was a joyful and sugary reunion with one of my favorite weird foods. Sarra was also immediately hooked. I've ordered more from the above link, as well as some ramune candies, which may or not be the same thing in different packaging. We'll see.

I just like the name, "ramune". There's a librarian whose name I used to see a lot when I was going to Midwest Chapter-MLA conferences, whose first name is Ramune. I always thought it was pretty. In Japan it seems to be a corruption of the English word "lemonade" and means a sweetened soda water.

Aside: a quote from a page where I found a short bilingual discussion of what ramune is, among other Japanese beverages: "I don't know what 'slushies' and 'God' are." Join the club, bud. I daresay one precedes knowledge of the other. ;) (Apparently the Americans were using the word 'slushies' as an American-specific descriptive word for a Japanese dessert, and they say there is a Japanese coffee drink called 'God'.)

Went to American Players Theatre in Spring Green last Weds. night. (The place is way more established, respected, and fun than the overly-simple website implies. 25 years old this summer!) I saw London Assurance by Dion Boucicault, whose French name belies his Irish upbringing. I liked it. The play itself was not my absolute favorite type of thing (Victorian comedy of manners) but it was beautifully done, from costumes to scenery to some vibrant acting from old standards as well as newbies. The bugs still get bad in the outdoor theater, but they have finally built real restrooms (I could have cried for joy when I saw them; I have memories of standing in line fighting mosquitoes for the porta-potties) and even a walk-in gift shop. I don't recommend the picnic dinners, though, unless you really, really like pesto mayonnaise.

The weekend after WW, I'm going to their 25th Anniversary party, then staying for Twelfth Night that evening. When I saw that play last year in Mpls., it was the period-practices version of the Globe Theatre Touring Company; Orsino had this gorgeous Irish accent that had all the women in our group swooning in our seats. I'll miss that! But I'm sure this will be a special performance for completely different reasons.

One more thing: I'm applying for a job at this place, which is upstairs from the library school in Helen C. White on campus. I think it sounds like a fascinating job, and it's half-time, which I'd really like. We'll see how things pan out.

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