Sunday, July 24, 2005
I've been reading over e-mail from the last couple of weeks or so, going back to the days just after WW (why am I reading back e-mail that far back? Don't ask) and there's a thread of people remembering their fondest memories of WW. So here's some of mine:

--Hearing his notes echo from the (smallish) hills around the campsite when Ingus showed up at the Bardic Circle
--Having Astrid tell me that the sentiments in my Bard of Jararvellir song were "perfect, right on the money, just perfect"...okay, she was a bit in her cups, but still
--Sharing some cold, sweet Rainier cherries with Alissende by the fire late Wednesday night, as she inaugurated her new copper fire pit
--Seeing faraway friends that I know wouldn't miss this event, like Andrew, Dolan and Purple, and flattering myself that I had something to do with convincing them to come in the first place
--Watching tons of new bards perform
--A burger when I needed it (thanks Purple) and some delicious honey chicken when I needed it (thanks Clara) as well as gorgeous food from Alissende and Damayanti
--Seeing the smiths actively enjoying Bardic, and knowing how far things have come since we used to complain about them banging away 'till all they are our patrons, and some are pretty bardic themselves
--Getting to go up in Court twice (Crwth/Edwin and Briget's Flame/Robert the Stout!)
--Chandler doing his Fly with the Griffin round in Baronial Court
--Wednesday night quiet: the site was one big room, air still, a few happy voices drifting through the trees, and we were all about to embark on this event we love

But in the interest of balance, here are some not-so-fond memories:

--Carrying the Rubbermaid tub with Iohanna's laptop and printer to and from my tent every day. Yes, I know there wasn't a better way to keep it safe, but that doesn't mean I had to like it
--When we couldn't get the printer to work and I was afraid I'd have to cancel the Privy Press
--SAND (did they buy a beach and have it trucked in?)
--Feeling slightly weirded-out at Choir (I still don't know why)
--Insulting Purple late at night without meaning to (I'm sorry)
--Feeling like I was totally useless to the Barony because I was too hot and sleep-deprived on Sunday to do anything except pack slowly, talk with friends, and leave late
--Feeling like I was recruiting my friends to do the "dirty work" of my Privy Press job
--Starting the weekend with someone telling me to move my tent, however well-intentioned he was
--Missing Chiara's performance of a Troubadour song in the A&S Showcase
--How tired I was for the whole week after the event...I guess I'm getting old

But I still would never miss this event. It really is magical in so many ways. It is "Northshield Home" in a way that even Coronation/Crown isn't. It's us and it's ours and we live as Northshield there better than anywhere (yes, even N19--I am always conscious there of all the people who aren't with us). It's hard to explain.

They are moving me again at work. The position that's been empty, a circ. assistant, that enabled me to move into the little cubie in Circulation, has been filled...or rather, the higher-ups have decided to take someone they had working at DPI, meld her job with bits and ends of things that have remained unfilled at R&L for the last few months, and send her out to work with us--in my cubicle. From the tone of the announcement, I didn't get the impression that this was the ideal solution, but that's par for the course at R&L these days--there are hiring restrictions up the wazoo. I don't know what's harder on the staff: the gradual whittling away at our resources over time, or the cuts that come all at once. Thank heavens for rational guidance from the managerial level at R&L--the two Marys and Sally are awfully good at what they do.

To be frank: I don't regret staying there as long as I have. It's peaceful, I'm good at the work, I'm keeping up skills like MARC cataloging and database searching, and people are nice to me. I'm still looking at job openings, but nothing I am qualified to do is coming up, and so far my supervisor hasn't given me an end date, so there's a good chance I'll be staying until they run out of money for me.

In fact I'm heartened by the fact that the Marys brought me over on Friday to look at my new cube. It's quite large and it will be all mine--no sharing, configured to my specifications, etc. Seems like they are going out of their way to make me feel comfortable, I assume because they feel bad that this is my second move in nine months, but quite frankly as an LTE, I fully expected to be put wherever there was room, to share a cube, etc. So their helping me out with a nice new cube makes me feel wanted. Which gives me hope that if a position ever opens up, I might...possibly...still be wanted.

I've spent the whole weekend basically alone, and unlike other weekends where I felt stagnant and weirded-out at the end, it felt nice this weekend. Saturday I went to the new little Farmer's Market by the Dept. of Transportation building, just down University Avenue from me (incidentally, the building where I took my drivers' test...both times). They have a good location there, and you can tell things are building even though this was only the second week. Some sweet cherry growers (the cherries are sweet, not the growers, though they were very nice!) were there from near Green Bay and I restrained myself from buying out their stock. The cherries are small, probably a function of low rain levels this year, but sweet. Well worth it.

(I have a cherry addiction that started before WW, and it's cherry season. The big sweet ones are my favorites. I believe I've had four cupfuls this weekend. Somebody stop me before I buy more.)

Went out to dinner with Dad last night. Yesterday was my parents' 38th wedding anniversary. Mom is in New Hampshire for a Union for Reform Judaism retreat, incommunicado due to bad cell phone reception. Dad was in remarkably good spirits though (apparently they celebrated last weekend). We went to Boston's Gourmet Pizza and didn't have pizza, though Dad suggested it. "Mom would kill you," I warned (she's always mad at him for never wanting to have pizza when she's hungry for it). The restaurant is nice: good food, friendly service, half-orders of yummy pasta, and a surprising and refreshing lack of miscellaneous Americana wall tchotchkes. Ironic that the lengths to which chain restaurants go to seem homey and original--i.e., covering every wall with canoe paddles, high school class photos from 1936, sports and movie posters, unidentifiable wooden tools, and enamel soft drink signs--are the very things that bother me about chain restaurants, and their lack attracts me. I'd go back.

Last night and today I read, did kumihimo, and watched videos. Discs 3 and 4 of Season Two of West Wing, and Bride and Prejudice. My very first Bollywood movie! I thought it was only okay. Jane Austen fans should see it for the novelty. But the bad dubbed singing was enough to make the whole thing fall to pieces, in my untutored view.

By the way, that whole bursting into song thing that my friends have mentioned about Bollywood movies? It DOES happen at the drop of a hat--it's no exaggeration. Fully-staged Broadway musical dance numbers spring into being for no other purpose than to tell us, "It's good to be alive, thank you for bringing your wedding to town!". By that scene with Lalita and Darcy on the beach, when they panned around and a full 75-person gospel choir in navy blue robes came into view, I wouldn't have been surprised to see singing aliens descend from the skies in beeping UFO's. Anything goes in Bollywood, apparently, including having said gospel choir slowly close in on the two lovers in a long birds-eye view shot (while Colleen and I helplessly giggled and shouted, "Run! The gospel choir is trying to kill you! Run while you still can!"), only to disappear just as they're about to smush the lovers right into the sand. In general: I find I like movies set in India more than I like actual Bollywood-style movies. It wasn't bad enough to be funny, but it wasn't good enough to be enjoyable. Rent Monsoon Wedding instead and save yourself the headache.

Good news: I have a rider for Pennsic. Clara is still deciding, but she just got a job at Hancock Fabrics (SCA seamstress' heaven! Lucky chick.) and she doubts she can get the time off. Mateo posted a request for a ride on the Jara list and I jumped right on it; I knew if I waited too long I'd end up either a) driving alone, which I did in 2003 and which is not a lot of fun, or b) finding no excuse to say no to someone I might hate driving with. I think it'll be nice driving with Mateo. And I've been wanting to expose him to some period Spanish music for years now....Well, when I drive, I play whatever music I want! Captive audience, my good Don!

I appear to be going through a short period of time in which I've come to terms with going nowhere in life. When you're going nowhere, at least you get to look around more, get to know where you are, and maybe decide you like it.

Monday, July 11, 2005
I am so tired...

But I'm quietly pleased over how WW went: in general, and specifically in the areas that I participate in. To zoom in more:

The Privy Press was fine, despite my forgetting to change the day in the masthead for Friday, so that we had two Thursdays and a Saturday. The computer worked perfectly; the printer worked fine once we reset the grounding on the power outlet 150 feet away (remember, computers have batteries, printers don't). I was blessed with put-up people including: Angela from Rockhaven and her friend Tomas, Colin, Sarra, and the Willowy Norns (my name for the bunch of teenage girls who roam the campground in packs during WW). The Norns did not particularly understand how to tuck the top flap of the sheet protectors over the opening, so we did have a few damaged after the first round of porta-john cleanings. But no rain, so the ones outside were undamaged.

My recommendation for next year is that the Privy Press position be split into 1) editor and 2) posting person, who helps post the Press as well as finding/organizing walkers to post. It may seem like this is just another instance of proliferation of WW officer positions, but splitting this job in two means that two people with only a couple of hours to give per day can accomplish it without much stress. This would open up the job to people who would not otherwise want to take on an actual staff position. I could not have done both jobs (even trying to organize the put-up team meant the typing/printing went slower than it should have), and I felt guilty pressing friends into service to post for me. It would have been easier if there were a posting person who would take care of that so I could concentrate on typing/printing/hardware troubleshooting.

Next year I want something I can do mostly before the event, so I can teach a class or two at the event, and not be late for Choir rehearsals. Maybe I'll ask if I can do the site booklet.

Choir went well. Purple may be agonizing over the fact that we had to drop one of the pieces, but the fact is that we have pretty much never had a Northshield Choir concert at WW where we didn't have to drop one of the pieces. The Jara Choir may feel upset too, since we practiced the dropped piece a lot, but overall the NS Choir was relieved to see it go. The rehearsals moved along at a fast clip, and apparently I missed the Sat. morning conductor frustration moment (I was finishing up the Press). I think we accomplished a lot and had fun. We were even outnumbered by the audience at the performance (not by much, but still). Purple is going to conduct the Choir for the next year. This pleases me.

Bardic went well overall, but there are some organizational issues that will need to be addressed. However--this is no longer my job! That was last year. Bardic is an area of WW where we have a really good depth of past coordinators: almost every past coordinator, going back to well before we moved to the new site, still participates in bardic at the event, so the current coordinator of any given year knows (s)he will have a store of people to ask for advice, favors or circle management should (s)he need to be away from the circle. Will did beautifully this year, introducing some community-building activities like a Welcome Tea and Bardic Bye-Bye. Sarra is hoping to be the coordinator for next year and she will be fabulous. I can't wait.

I am now the Bard of Jararvellir. This would please me more if there had been anyone else from Jararvellir participating in the contest, but it still pleases me quite a bit. If I can't be Kingdom Bard because our Kings & Queens persist in ignoring the Kingdom Bard tradition, well, this is the next best thing. It's a big honor to serve my friend Eithni and it means a lot to me to be the Bard of my hometown Barony, where I was born and raised. Oh yes, and I get to stand in Jararvellir courts now.

The song I wrote for the contest, which I wrote in about 50 minutes last Monday night, is about what a Queen gives up in order to reign, and what she gains from it. It's not my best work, but I sat down with Owen for some suggestions early in the event and he reassured me that it doesn't suck. Bridei and Astrid both thought the sentiments were right on the money, so at least I'm not spreading misinformation about what it's like to be Queen. Surprisingly, people reacted well to it Saturday night (Dolan said it was his second best of mine, after Three Words) so I guess it really does have minimal suckage. I'll post it to my Bardic Page sometime soon.

This year I was very pleasantly surprised to see so many new people performing, as well as so many people simply attending the circle and enjoying it. These happened Thursday night and kept happening. A standout was Julian the Foolhardy, whom I have vaguely known for years, but who apparently has had a bardic blossoming recently. Owen said this started at That's Amare two weeks ago. I hope it keeps up because I think he's one of those people with both the excitement and the talent to become an important part of the community.

The Jararvellir Choir's newbie, Clara, performed a whole bunch too, which pleased me a lot and everyone else too, since she has a gorgeous voice and really good performing skills. She wants to be part of House Greyfeather, interestingly. I didn't get to hear the whole conversation between her and Chandler but I bet it's a done deal. She fits in really well with them. I don't believe I have ever been lonely for a household until I heard her and Chandler and many other Greyfeathers discussing the possibility. I mean, I have my own household as one of Owen's apprentices, but we're not one of those camp-together, work-together households; geographic diversity as well as our diversity of interests prevent that. And even before I was apprenticed, I was never interested in joining a household; I lived in Shires so small they felt like households themselves. But in a largish Barony I can see the advantages: someone to camp with, someone to celebrate birthdays with, someone to work on projects and hatch schemes with. Lucky thing I have friends (SCA and otherwise) in Jararvellir that I can do these things with.

The physical aspects of the event were sort of grueling. It didn't get very cold at night (my clock said 60 at one point, but that's the lowest it got) but it was hot during the day. How hot, I don't know--it felt like about 90 most of the time. It was dry, so the dust was getting everywhere; you should see my black work shoes, they look like they've been to Pennsic. Carrying Iohanna's computer/printer back and forth from my tent to Information Point got very irritating along about Friday afternoon. I swear the campground owners bought a sand beach in South Carolina and had the sand trucked over to spread on the paths--in the worst spots, they were like a sandbox in consistency, which makes walking pretty hard.

Despite my pricey Whole Foods shopping trip Tuesday night, I never really got enough food into myself at the event. I ate up most of what I had, as well as three lovely dinners from friends (chicken/vegetables with Alissende Thursday, honey chicken with House Greyfeather Friday, and beef stew with Alissende Saturday). And I sucked down water every opportunity I got. But I was usually mildly hungry and thirsty no matter when, no matter what I was doing. It was the heat, and all the walking, and lack of sleep--I even got a visual migraine while doing the Press on Friday. I'll have to really watch myself on that at Pennsic.

What really made my event was something that happened Friday evening. At Baronial Court, Ivetta van der Brueggen got called up for a Nordskogen award, but she wasn't in attendance. The Baroness asked if someone would run and get her since her campsite was nearby. Her friends did that "should I go, no, you go, I dunno" murmuring thing. Then a small girl of maybe 5 1/2 jumped up and ran to get her.

Well, I had 5 new bone rings from Turtletrauben burning a hole in my purse. I went up to the little girl after Court and said, "Hi, I'm Eliane, and I want you to have this ring because I think it was cool that you went to get Ivetta so she could receive her award," and I gave her the smallest of my new rings.

The little girl looked up at me and said, "I'm Storm and I want you to have this," and held out her hand. I took from her a small hard bundle of green paper.

I thought this was one of those things that young children don't understand: they want to give a gift back to someone who gives them a gift, but they don't get that you can't just give them whatever's in your hand: a gum wrapper, a rock, your mom's car keys, etc. So I said, "Wow, thank you, Storm! What's this?"

"Open it," she said. "It's wrapped up."

So I pulled aside the paper, and in my hand was a small tumbled chunk of rose quartz with a golden pendant bail on it.

I was flabbergasted and said, "When did you get this?"

"I bought it for you," said Storm.

I tried to explain that that was impossible since we had only just introduced ourselves and had never met before, but here Storm was mildly confused and stopped the conversation to go hopping off with a friend. Her mom was nowhere in the area (or if she was, she wasn't recognizably mom-like) so I started telling my friends who were milling about after Court what happened.

By the end of the weekend I must have told this story 20 times. My friend Andrew the Tinker from Skerrjastrond made me a lucet-cord necklace with a friendship knot in it, to suspend the pendant from, and it looks just lovely. I am so proud to be a part the SCA, which not just allows but encourages people of all kinds and ages to commit random acts of kindness towards others. In 25 years we may have a Queen Storm and I hope I can serve her with half as much generosity and graciousness as she showed to me on Friday night.

By Sunday I felt inspired and elevated by the event, but completely worn out physically. So I took my sweet time cleaning up, stopping to talk with folk as they were leaving, forcing water, and not pushing myself. Surprisingly, the tarp under my tent came up mostly clean, with just a few leaves sticking to it. (This is what happens when the event has no rain, I guess.) By 3:30 I was on my way out. I ate at the Flying J buffet in BRF and then toddled home. Once home, I unloaded the car (at least the stuff that didn't need to be stored in the garage/storage locker, which I'll get to tonight), took a shower, perused the mail for anything urgent, and tumbled into bed, to sleep for nearly 11 hours straight. Guess I needed that...and it wasn't enough; several times today I felt that same tiredness. I'll get to bed early tonight.

A fabulous event. I owe a lot more people thanks than I usually do. How will I thank them?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Tomorrow: off to WW. I don't know why I'm so nervous about this event this year. I've been spending every spare second arranging and rearranging stuff in Rubbermaid totes. Once I pick out garb (after posting this) I should be set for the event, all ready to go, but I won't convince myself of that until the event's already over.

I think part of it is that I've never done the Privy Press before--Iohanna only invented it last year, for something to do at the event. (The autocrat needed something to do at the event. In one way I understand that. In another way I just drop my jaw to Iohanna, once again, the woman who can do anything.) I find myself mulling over the hand motions needed to remove an old issue and insert a new one into the secure-top sheet protectors I bought. Each one is going to take at least a full minute, not counting the walking from privy to privy. There'll be over 60 on site and I only have a very little tiny bit of help with posting (Sarra will help on Saturday morning). And I can't move ten feet at WW without getting waylaid by someone I've been wanting to talk to, or haven't seen in years. I am going to be very late to a couple of committments...alas. These things happen. This is a hobby, after all. Right? Right? Why isn't this making me feel any better?

A symptom of this weird nervousness is that I've bought a dozen different food items to donate to three or four different activities needing food. I was at Whole Foods tonight and I couldn't seem to stop thinking I needed more, even though most of the stuff in my cart was being purchased for donation. What am I, Daddy Warbucks? I can't afford to cater the Bardic Tea right now any more than I could last year. Finally I reined myself in, and kept to things for myself for the rest of the shopping trip.

All this made for a very weird holiday weekend. I was depressed and edgy at M&D's on Sunday, when we had a little just-the-four-of-us gathering in honor of Dad's birthday (tomorrow) and Ellen's birthday (June 23). So weirded out was I that I forgot to give Dad his present, or either of them their birthday card. My family put up with me, which is kind of more than I expected of them, but they were apparently all in a supportive mood. We played Apples to Apples and a game Ellen brought called Man Bites Dog, which was only okay, but then most games pale in comparison with Apples to Apples.

We lit fireworks--very atypical of my family, but Ellen bought them on the way back from Devil's Lake on Friday, and what were we going to do, snub her? So we lit these sparklers that were about ten times the size of regular sparklers, and waved them around, and jumped when the black sparkler poopies fell off onto the lawn (which was thankfully wet because Dad had had the sprinkler on earlier). Dad nearly wrenched a knee trying to get those snake thingies lit (if you think the sparklers produce poopies, you should have seen the snakes) and we got to see him jump as a string of firecrackers went off, very quickly after he lit them. The whole visit actually turned out fun. I didn't quite expect that. Lots of laughing.

I'm still nervous. Last year's WW was really very, very lovely. I hope this one's the same. That's all I want: conditions that are roughly the same. Oh yes, and I want Iohanna's computer and printer to keep working through the entire event, or at least through Saturday at 9:30 am, which is as long as I need them to work.

And I do NOT want to be late for Stick Night tomorrow evening! *Going over to the WW website and printing directions, just in case*

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