Monday, August 22, 2005
I'm back.

Something has obviously changed about me since last year, because I made it through more of Pennsic than usual (Saturday night to the following Sunday morning, more than a week) without having a period of time in which I felt I shouldn't be at Pennsic. Not a single one. I'm a bit flabbergasted at this. It doesn't really square with how I have been feeling in general lately. Maybe I...needed my time at Pennsic this year? Or maybe I'm just finally used to Pennsic enough that I can enjoy it all the way through!

All I know is, the entire event has left me quietly euphoric. Other years have been good, last year was great, this one was on another plane altogether. Nothing much seemed to go wrong the whole week. The heat wasn't unbearable, the nights were perfect, the moon was full, the rain was brief. I had put together a schedule that included a class or two a day, and made it to only one, but that one turned out to garner me a new friend (hi, Gideon, if you're reading this). My classes went beautifully and were both well-attended (maybe 14 Tuesday and 7 Thursday, including Mistress Amelie). My voice stayed functional and even good-sounding all week--Ivhon told me Friday night that he thought I was in particularly good voice. ("Keep talking like that and you're going to get a candy necklace," I warned him.) I got to see Lorelei's concert and Marian's concert and Moonwulf's concert. Valencia got a Crwth at Northshield Court, and Owen and Edwin debuted a new song about Queen Fina's smile. And the bardic circles--oh, the bardic circles...

It's hard to explain what I like about sitting around a circle with a bunch of other people, it really is. It's the center of several different events for me, Pennsic included. The sparks rise and the moon shines, and someone sings something they memorized from a favorite recording, or wrote ten years ago, or wrote yesterday. The quality of the performances in general has gone up even since last year (either that or I was just happier in general, and saw things through that lens). I loved hearing Silence and Michael Alewright (who has a new "rude song", well, rude for him, it's only got the one rude word) from Aethelmearc, Dolan and Mikal the Ram from Calontir, Guernen from the Outlands, Dorigen from the East and her new "Welcome Home" Pennsic song (which I woke up singing this morning), an incredible cadre of Midrealm bards like Verrix and Lorelei and Swiftrunner and Purple, Ealdormereans like Emer and Garraed and Eleanor, and more that I'm forgetting. As for the Northshielders, Flori sang Will's "The Griffon Flies at Dawn" a few times, Valencia impressed all who heard her and was a bit on display this War (though I do believe she enjoyed Pennsic), Owen performed a bit (mostly at the Northshield circle, but he also hung out at others), Alexandre did Sephardic songs, and Mateo did some fabulous performances.

My perception was that there were more storytellers in general this year, but mostly talented ones; I got to hear Toki Redbeard for the first time, who genuinely impressed me (and also has a very adorable smile, though he is not at all single, I gathered...sigh), and others I admire like Naga and Maraha and Alan Fairfax, who is now Master Alan Fairfax! (Research Laurel, not Bardic Laurel, but I claim him for the bards anyway, and I doubt he'd be offended to read this.)

Ingus' songsheets were really useful at the muster before Opening Ceremonies. People took all of my pile almost before we could start singing! The muster happened just like it was supposed to: we arrived first, then Ealdormere, then Calontir, then the Outlands, all singing up a storm, and the bards gathered in a knot, excited to see each other, and moved between Kingdom columns singing each others' songs. When the King and Queen of the Midrealm--who, by the way, are bigger supporters of Bardic than our own current King and Queen, something I had thought never to see in my lifetime--emerged from the Midrealm Royal gate, the bards gathered in front of the gate and sang "Sons of the Dragon". I knew when I saw Queen Noelle crying as she watched us sing, that this would be a good War.

(Another dead giveaway was that Calontir and the Outlands threw their support not behind the Midrealm, but behind Northshield. Twice as many direct Northshield allies as we had last year. I am so pleased to see this trend growing.)

Purple's new Midrealm song, "Where are the Dragons", caught on like wildfire; when he got up to sing it to open Midrealm court Thursday night, with a chorus of six Northshielders and two Midrealmers to help (alas, his voice was a bit the worse for wear at that point), half the audience was singing along. This song keeps touching people, and stays in the mind; at least four mornings at War, I woke up singing it. I think Purple should be very proud. Not that he had time to be proud; he was working his butt off all of Pennsic with various duties. But when he showed up at the Apprentices' Bardic on Friday night, wearing camp clothes and proclaiming with a yawn that he was finally "off duty", I told him how proud we were of him.

In general I had a schedule somewhat akin to what I used to have when I was unemployed: basically, I slept about 2am-10am, give or take. Mostly take, and mostly on the going-to-bed side; twice I saw the sky lighten and heard birds. Damned birds! (Sorry, Colleen...) This meant I missed all those classes that started at 10 or 11, but it also meant I had more energy to stay up late at the bardic circles. The prick of shame (and of heat rash; my tent is canvas, but still gets up to about 106 degrees inside at the peak of the day) I felt at getting up at 11 a couple of times was followed by relief that I could stay up late that night singing. Wednesday I turned in early (midnight) because there was no bardic circle claiming my attention, and because I was teaching at 10 the next morning. The overall result was that bardic was both the focus and the high point of my waking hours. (Oh yes, and I never did get pancakes for breakfast, because the merchant selling them was no longer serving breakfast by the time I got to the food court. So? I can make pancakes at home.)

My allergies were, if anything, worse this year than previous years. My nose, eyes, and ears still itch horribly, I'm sneezing regularly, breathing through my nose is seriously obstructed, and I have some raw spots where my nose is kind of kleenexed-out. This with my regular dose of Zyrtec (lest people think I am some sort of natural-cure fanatic who doesn't treat her allergies with antihistamines). I had the bottle with me; I probably should have doubled the dose to help control the allergic symptoms, but those are more than $2 a pill and insurance doesn't cover it. So I tried to stick it out. Note to self: next year, double up allergy medicine, or buy a gas mask!

My beautiful tent has a hole in the corner. Or, I should say, Sarra's and my beautiful tent has a hole in the corner. I kept a towel over it so it wouldn't admit bugs or rain, but it did admit a good bit of both over the course of the week. (Nothing was damaged.) Sarra, I'm going to patch it--I bought a good canvas patch kit, with glue/canvas/needle/strong thread, from Panther Pavilions. But the hole is nearly 6 inches now and goes beyond the original tear along the seam of the corner reinforcement. So we'll see how the patching goes. If it helps, the hole is on my side, not Sarra's...!

I'm running out of mental energy. So I'll end this for tonight. Here, to jog my memory next time I write, are some things I still want to write about in detail:

  • Riding with Don Mateo
  • Using the world's silliest pickup line
  • The Knowne World Choir
  • What it's been like to come home
  • Things I bought at the merchants'!
  • The Lost Boys' party on Friday night
  • Spending time with Michael Alewright, and his insights
  • My class
  • The Northshield bardic circle
  • The each and the every

Good night.

Monday, August 08, 2005
I had another dream that I was working at Gundersen Lutheran, helping out with HRC staffing for a day. As per usual for these dreams, they had switched everything around and re-done forms in nonsensical ways, so I couldn't find anything. Also they assumed I was back for good, while I thought I had been requested to help out for one day, and guiltily kept trying to remember to call my current boss and let her know I'd be out for the whole day.

A patron asked for some information but wouldn't tell me on what topic. We finally agreed that I would give him the MedlinePlus URL and he would look it up at home (he was youngish and said he had high-speed Internet at home). But I couldn't find the MedlinePlus bookmarks so I had to scrawl it on a scrap of paper.

Then I had to break it to my former boss that I could only give her this one day, and had to go back to Madison that night. She was disappointed in me. I remembered why I left in the first place. Then, strangely, a really talented guy performing poetry in Middle English was in the lobby, gathering a crowd, and I was recruiting him for the SCA.

Also Melinda had dyed her hair and had long blonde banana curls. But how is that relevant?

In other news, five days until I leave for Pennsic. I actually feel more-or-less prepared. Yesterday I ran a laundry marathon, cleaned out my toiletries bag which has been accumulating schmutz and hair and superfluous lip glosses for two years, and finished the embroidery on a new sideless surcoat. Nothing left but hemming now.

I also revised my class handout (after locating it) and arranged CDs I'll need. I'm realizing that it's really a rough overview of info about Sephardic music, rougher than I thought when I first taught it in November. But for an hour-long class at Pennsic, where people's minds aren't very focused anyway, I think it's just right.

Question to self: do I start the class by playing the Efroni Choir singing Yehezkel Braun's arrangement of "Porque Llorax"? It is where I learned the tune and fell in love with it, but it's quite a modern arrangement, and the recording is a bit shrill. And an A&S tent at Pennsic won't hold in the sound like a room in a church. Classes all around us will hear it. I'll have to think about that.

Good things will happen at Midrealm Court, Thursday night of War Week, I am given to understand. I'm not saying how much I know, but I know it has something to do with the bardic community. So, bardic friends, either be there, or watch the news from War to find out what happened.

I feel guilty: I missed Poor Man's this past Saturday. The main reason for me to go would have been the Northshield Choir fun sing at 10, and that would have meant either a) camping (NOT this close to Pennsic, thank you) or b) getting up at 6 am Saturday. I did neither. I had another weekend with nothing much going on, instead.

This was the fourth one in a row. Mom is mildly concerned with me and took me to a movie on Saturday--Must Love Dogs, which I thought suffered from the common misconception that a single woman has to be constantly looking for a man, driven by the perpetual fear of dying alone. The lack of chemistry between the leads only made the situation worse. I adore John Cusack, but for some reason I always think of Diane Lane as playing about ten years older than she is, and so I didn't buy her as being my age, though I think she is. Okay, IMDB says she's six years older than me. But I see her (illogically) as playing about 45, so she didn't really work for me as a young divorcee who's still hoping to have children. Anyway...

Yesterday I used a quickly-expiring coupon to buy a copy of Picaresque by the Decemberists (which group seems to be the spot where my college friend Greg and I overlap in musical taste, oddly). Good stuff. The first track, "The Infanta", grabs you immediately, with a driving rock beat but images from a Spanish royal processional in the 1500's. I think it might be the type of thing an SCA member either hates or loves, depending on how far they are willing to take the whole thing away from their SCA experience. Me, I'm fine with enjoying it outside of the SCA. It's rock music, friends. And it's good.

Stephanie Miller and her staff are back from vacation! This redeems my week. I notice not only is everyone (callers and Jim/Chris) demurring discussion of her interim replacement--Johnny something, I dunno, I've blocked out his last name--she has not even thanked him. This is fitting; he was awful. Humorless, angry, spitting, mean. I wouldn't blame her for just never mentioning him again.

Yahoo Weather's extended forecast for Butler, PA is showing thunderstorms from Sunday to Wednesday of next week (which is where it ends, so it could go longer than that). This isn't the least bit funny. I'm going to purchase a new box of big honkin' trash bags, I think, and hem the new surcoat high-ish so it's not dragging in the mud. And put stuff in Rubbermaids as much as possible. And do something about the hole in my tent. (Just a bitty hole, at the seam of one of the corner rope points, but getting bigger. Maybe just a piece of plastic sheeting impaled on the corner pole?)

I'm just hoping we can set up before it rains...

Do I seem a little fatalistic today? Yes, well. Sometimes that's how I feel.

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