Last Monday: Lodge. This was a Past Masters' Night, as is usual for our Lodge to do sometime around June. The idea is that we do a Third Degree (the Master Mason degree, which is the big one -- more and better ritual than the other two), with all the parts being filled in by sometime Masters of the Lodge. In principle this isn't totally foolish: the Third involves a number of roles that don't strictly map to the usual lodge officers, and it helps the PMs feel needed. (Indeed, several roles are basically "owned" by specific PMs, who have done them for years.)
Anyway, things did not go well this time around. Jeff (the PM who was running the show) had everything nicely lined up months in advance, with about 15 PMs involved in the degree work. Then, within the last week or so, about half of those (including the current Master of the Lodge, who was slated to do the lion's share of the work) cancelled, each for a different entirely-valid reason. So Jeff was left in a horrible panic right up until the last second, doubling and tripling peoples' parts all over the place. I wound up with Junior Warden (trivial) and Tyler (easy), along with the part I was originally supposed to do (the emblems at the end of the lecture work, which are one of the nicer little bits of speechifying in the ritual).
It very nearly turned into a comedy of errors: for instance, we just barely caught the fact that he had assigned Don two parts that would have required him to be both inside and outside the Lodge Room simultaneously. (And this is not a man who can simply run in and out -- like most of the PMs, he's 80ish years old.) And just as icing on the cake, the candidate showed up nearly an hour late, apparently due to problems with his ride. And the District Deputy showed up with business he needed to conduct.
In the event, it was a bit of a mess, but not as bad as it could have been. The advantage of the PMs is that they can roll with the punches: many of us know the ritual well enough to be able to pick up parts on the fly, and we worked out doublings that weren't crazy. Since the candidate was late, so was the start of the ritual, and therefore so was dinner; fortunately, dinner was lasagna, so it was no great tragedy that it had to sit a bit longer. The DD's business turned out to be 50-year-Master plaques for a couple of the guys: a pretty impressive distinction when you think about it. (That is, these are men who first became Master of the Lodge 50 years ago.) He was decently brief about it, but didn't react quickly enough when Milty Locke (whose picture is under the encyclopedia entry for "garrulous") asked, "Can I say a few words?". That cost us another ten minutes, in which Milty basically repeated the same story he'd told us all in the business meeting two hours earlier.
Anyway, long meeting -- I was there for well over four hours, which is exceptional for this Lodge. But everyone survived, and the candidate didn't appear to twig to how badly messed-up things were behind the scenes, so I'll count it as a qualified success.
Last Tuesday: Accademia. I was in charge, since Phelan was out. The study-session group has decided (somewhat by consensus, although at my prodding) to undertake a more serious trip through Caroso. We're starting at the beginning of the book and doing all of the dances that look easy enough to reconstruct quickly. We're still settling into this, but I'm hoping to do one or two new dances each session -- ladysprite is translating them in advance, and I'm blowing the music into Django, so that we can reconstruct efficiently.
I still need to run this plan past Phelan, who is still the Accademia head, but I'm optimistic: this first session went well. We reconstructed Alba Novella, a fun little ballo, and Alta Regina, a perfectly pleasant cascarda that we all agreed was just a bit too easy. (Which in and of itself says something about how far we've come.) Next up was Este Gonzaga, but I hadn't finished the music, so we decided to put that off until next time, and instead take the time to transcribe our reconstruction properly.
All in all, I think it was a thorough success. I'm astonished at how quickly we're now reconstructing basic Caroso dances: we did each of the above in about 20 minutes flat, so even with the usual Accademia inefficiency we got through them fairly early. And this project looks likely to produce real results, as well as being fun.
Last Wednesday: Dance practice.
Thursday: Shopping for Vinland Raids food.
Friday: msmemory and I drove down to the Cape. Weekly date dinner at Chili's along the way. (Mmm -- southwestern eggrolls.) We decided to punt on camping this year -- neither of us was motivated enough, so we stayed at a nearby Ramada. Not exactly a fancy hotel, but it was convenient and cheap. My only real complaint was the mattress, which was preposterously pocketed in the center: I wound up clutching the edge of the bed for half the night so as not to roll into the middle.
Saturday: Vinland Raids. msmemory spent much of the day attending svava, and pulled in tpau and rufinia to help. I mostly hung out with ladysprite (who was at her first camping event), having a pleasant afternoon as idle spectators. The fencers had a complex and fairly silly melee scenario set up, of pirates vs. villagers. The silliness arose mainly from the fact that Jack the Black was running it, and awarding extra points for creative cheating.
Curia was first thing in the morning, and was fairly routine. A number of law changes were passed (in far too much haste, IMO, but all seemed fairly minor so I let it be).
There were two courts. Morning court was the formal investiture of the new Barony of Smoking Rocks, which was nice but somewhat lower-key than I expected. (I did get a tad annoyed at Joram, who needs to learn that the herald should never upstage his Baron.) I was slightly disappointed that they had Yosef formally step down as Sheriff -- since he was (AFAIK) the last remaining Sheriff in the Society, I personally would have just redefined the title so that he could keep it. (Especially after msmemory gave me the idea of calling him "the dowager Sheriff of Smoking Rocks", which would be appropriately amusing.)
Evening court actually had most of the normal business such as AoAs. There wasn't any specifically Carolingian business, but ilikemytie presented an embassy from An Tir, which was a major success. One of the gifts was a teddy bear, which His Majesty took a great liking to and which became the centerpiece of the rest of court. After court, ladysprite and rufinia presented him with a Little Tiny Squire's Belt made out of braided embroidery floss for the bear.
We wound up eating with oakleaf_mirror and company down in the Skara encampment, which turned out to collectively have *vastly* too much food. We had brought enough for about six people -- as it turned out, so did almost everyone else, so we were desperately grabbing everyone we could to Come Eat, so we didn't have to take it all home. Quite a tasty spread: several people did fairly serious cooking (especially oakleaf_mirror, who has a fabulous new Coleman grill that I am seriously coveting), and we wound up having a good meal.
msmemory and I took off when the light began to fail, around 9ish, and headed back to the hotel. Went across the street to Friendly's for dessert, and were amused by Vast Hordes of Teenage Girls, who had apparently had some sort of dance recital that evening and whose families were collectively taking them out for ice cream. I felt rather sorry for the waitstaff, though, who really weren't prepared for a full house arriving at 10:30pm.
Sunday: Tooling around Cape Cod. We first went to a bread shop near the hotel in Hyannis: Pain d'Avignon, which was recommended in the Access Guide. The loaves seem good, although not really exceptional. Nice little shop, though.
We headed out to Chatham for lunch. We confirmed msmemory's worst fears: Coach and Four has indeed closed, and there's a diner in its place. This is a great loss to fudge-lovers everywhere, but we'll have to survive.
We wandered up and down the main drag of Chatham, and eventually landed in The Impudent Oyster for lunch. This is on Chatham Bars Ave, just off of Main Street, and proved to be an excellent choice. Unusually, we both ordered the same dish, which had gotten us in the door: the "unioshi rollup", a spinach wrap filled with fried shrimp, sprouts and wasabi mayo, which was served with a soy dipping sauce and a bean salad. This was a big win -- flavorful, filling without being heavy, spicy without being overwhelming. This sandwich alone is enough to entice me back to the Cape occasionally.
Afterwards, we finished walking along Main Street, went into a few shops, bought a few things (I finally picked up a set of Invisible Cards, a silly plastic deck I've had an eye on for a while), went to Chatham Candy Manor for some consolation fudge, and headed out.
We wound up driving more or less directly home after that; the only major stop was Isaiah Thomas Books, which got its own posting.
Monday, Tuesday: Both pretty quiet. Spent much of Tuesday finishing the music for Este Gonzaga for the next Accademia Study Session, and transcribing the reconstructions from last time into HTML. (ladysprite had provided me with nicely laid-out handwritten versions, so I really just needed to copy them.) I trawled D-Link's website, which turned out to have new WinME drivers for the stupid WiFi card -- after installing those, the laptop no longer crashes all the time. (Yay!) Installed HTML-Kit, a ludicrously complete freeware non-WYSIWYG HTML editor. Not bad, but we still need a good WYSIWYG editor for routine use. (We've been using Composer, but that doesn't seem to be available separately without installing all of Mozilla.)
Tonight: Dance practice.
Friday: Fly to Chicago for rickthefightguy's wedding. I expect the travel to be fairly dull (I'm taking cheapish but indirect flights, so total travel time is about five hours each way), especially without msmemory, but at least I can work on catching up on the comic book backlog.
Saturday: The wedding.
Sunday: Fly home.
Tuesday: Accademia. It occurred to me last night that this is a *fifth* Tuesday, so I have absolutely no idea what we're doing this week. I figure we should be prepared for a possible study session, though, in case Phelan turns out to not have any plans.