Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Diary Entry (LONG)

Last Monday: Started cooking for jtdiii's Pelican vigil. A couple of months ago, Catrin asked me to co-ordinate this vigil, and that's mostly what I've done, but I wanted to make one or two things myself. Since John doesn't do much by way of sweet, we were focusing on a relatively savory vigil, with just a few sweet dishes (mainly from ladysprite) for the rest of the crowd. So I took this as an excuse to make Marinated Mushrooms and Onions, a favorite of mine. (The onions always go begging, but *I* like them, so I always toss a couple in.)

Last Tuesday: More cooking. Today's project: Count Fernando, His Stew. Me being me, I am of course tweaking the recipe liberally: lots of sauteed mushrooms instead of the carrot, for example. But the core of the recipe remains -- sautee everything in the bacon fat, and use reasonably good beer for half the liquid. Made a couple of quarts, then put them in the freezer so that they'll keep well at the event.

Last Wednesday: Dance practice. A generally good time, although midsummer apathy made it a bit inefficient. (Mara is largely out of agenda for the year, so there was a lot of "what do folks want to do now?")

Thursday: Last steps in vigil prep -- large numbers of hard boiled eggs. Next time, I'll remember to check The Best Recipe before doing something like this: their recipe for boiling eggs is much easier than Irma's. (I haven't made hard-boiled eggs in about ten years, so I had no idea of the timing.) Also, clean mushrooms and toss them into the veggie marinade. The onions really want to be in there for a week, but the mushrooms should only have about two days.

Friday: Off to the event. msmemory and I had long ago decided to head up early to beat the traffic, and I didn't see any reason to change that plan, so I took the day off from work. Decided to take my car instead of hers: it's smaller, but we have the roof-rack, and she's beginning to drive a little so I wanted to leave her car for her if she wanted it.

It's astonishing how much crap I'm capable of bringing to a weekend event. Less than it would have been with both of us, of course -- I didn't bother with the air mattress, the bed, and of course any of her stuff. But I still filled the car to shoulder-height with stuff, not to mention all the poles and rugs on the roof.

The drive was largely uneventful. I stopped a couple of times, nervous about clonking noises coming from the roof, but as far as I can tell there was nothing really wrong: the lashing job just wasn't very good, and the poles were clattering against each other slightly. Started listening to Brothers in Arms on the way up, which helped the time pass quickly. The only complaint I can lay about the directions is that they were almost too detailed for a person driving alone: I had a couple of moments of "need to read the next two paragraphs within the next mile!". But I'd rather have detailed and accurate directions than the usual vague descriptions.

Got there well before dark, and found oakleaf_mirror's encampment without difficulty. Got a couple of people (especially Duncan) helping set up, so putting up the pavilion went quickly and smoothly. Settled in, and went off to the ball. This was nicer than I'd expected, actually: a pretty decent mix of dances, including a few Italian dances (which mostly wound up populated by our dance practice, no surprise). I turned out to be the only person present who knew Villanella, so I pushed a dancemistress through it. Got to dance a little with ladyariadne, which was a nice change of pace; I should find a chance to visit Stonemarche's dance practice one of these months. The barn's floor is springy, so galliards were fun.

The ball ended at 11ish, and we schmoozed for a couple more hours after that. Fortunately, msmemory had suggested that I bring a candleabra, and I brought the huge one: that wound up providing most of our light. Did a little stargazing -- the stars at GNE are always spectacular. Then to bed, which proved remarkably cold: I had to mummy myself, which I rarely do even at Pennisc, with my sleeping bag and head towel meeting somewhere around my neck. Didn't sleep especially well.

Saturday: The big day. Woke up kind of blearily, but then got my ass in gear. Tossed all the personal stuff in my pavilion under my cloak in the corner, where it could be decently inconspicuous. Set up the pavilion as a proper vigil space -- well, okay, more as a living room reception, but I suspected that jtdiii would prefer it that way. Began getting out the food. ladysprite showed up with the Digby Cakes and Gooey Gingerbread Balls (mmm), and we put out a couple of tables.

The actual sending to vigil was slightly chaotic. I had found out from jdulac that they'd be sending to vigil from the battlefield before the woods battle, but that was about all I knew. So several of us went and hung out there for a bit. The Royals strode out onto the field, and a bunch of fighters swarmed around them, so I figured they were Exhorting Them To Battle. Eventually, I wandered into earshot, at which point Ernie called me aside and asked, "Where are the candidates?" So I asked the various apprenti to go run to the Carolingian Baronial encampment to roust everyone. gyzki got there first, so Their Majesties had some fun ribbing him before sending him off; his vigil was in the Baronial encampment. Then came jtdiii, who I led back to our encampment.

The vigil went reasonably well. I had *lots* of help from many people, both in providing of good food and running the thing. Food included the above stuff made by me; cherries and various cheeses provided by dreda (including a Stilton that everyone agreed was exquisite); the gingerbread and Digby Cakes from ladysprite (the latter were very much the hit of the vigil, and went steadily); stamped Pelican marzipan cookies from mermaidlady and marzipan subtleties made by tpau and learnedax (slashed-and-poofed garb, a Pelican cloak, and an ever-so-cute and remarkably detailed Pelican in its piety); sausages from cristovau; nuts and wine from hawkegirl; drink syrups from Zil; Curious Preserved Asian Stuff and the ever-important Diet Coke from Ki-Lin; and probably several things I'm forgetting.

Once things were up and running, I did several partial laps around the encampment, finding Peers and telling them about the vigil. Found Li Kung and Ygraine, who had brought the pop-up canopy for elizabear (who couldn't make it at the last minute). Eventually realized that I'd better point people at gyzki's vigil while I was at it, although unfortunately not until after I'd talked to Master El, who scolded me for not telling him. (El has known him for about as long as he's been in the SCA, I gather.)

Took a chance to stop by gyzki's vigil, schmooze and answer some questions. This is another of those cases that's really weird for me, since I've basically considered him one of my role models since I started, so giving him peerage advice felt strangely backwards. (Although not quite as odd as passing my Laurel medallion on to Mara, which was just plain bizarre, since she'd taught me to dance in the first place.)

Anyway, hung out for the afternoon. jtdiii was mostly good about sitting still and letting people come talk to him, although he did escape for a few minutes to go over to the other vigil. He also caused great amusement by making a corset design for rufinia in the middle of his vigil; all agreed that this was singularly appropriate. I declared things over at 4-mumble, so that he could go change before court. Around that time Toshi (sorry, Iheronimus) showed up, and we spent a while hurriedly making sure that all the ducks were in a row. I wound up acting as the Pelican sponsor, so I changed into a proper doublet for court.

Court was reasonably pleasant, although rather inefficient. Their Majesties initially requested that people not applaud awards, then completely undid that by starting to do so themselves. They clearly had some communication issues -- there were several instances where they were trying to chat with the recipients of the AoAs, and the candidates were a bit baffled by what They were saying. Note for everyone: when writing recommendations letters, triple-check your facts and make sure you express them clearly. The Royalty will usually be taking what you say at face value.

Before court started, we watched the clouds looming up; not long after, it began to rain. So His Majesty decided that we should reverse things, with the audience inside. (They were on the front stoop of the Barn, initially facing out, with the audience on the lawn.) About an hour later, he decided that the rain had stopped, and it was hot inside, so reversed it *again*. All of this was understandable, but we lost about twenty minutes to people tromping in and out of the Barn.

Long court, about three hours, mostly AoAs for people I didn't know. Only surprise among people I *do* know was aquamonkey getting her AoA. (Which should have happened ages ago, but everyone had sort of assumed she already had one. I should know better than to make that mistake.)

Peerages were at the end, as usual. They sent Julien de la Pointe off to a late Laurel vigil. gyzki's ceremony was fun and appropriate. He had a small procession into court, with Peregrine reading some verse. Everything was nicely appropriate. His cloak was a simple norse design, with a subtle Laurel trim woven by tpau; instead of a medallion, he got a cloakpin with Laurels on it. The scroll was magnificent, a long bit of skaldic verse that was read in fine dramatic fashion by herooftheage.

jtdiii had new garb for his elevation (which of course he and Gisela were still putting finishing touches on during the vigil); the codpiece caused much amusement to the Royalty. (I got a pretty good picture of his hat hanging from the codpiece.) Kobi was very amusing in the Chivalry sponsorship -- sort of Arlecchino Does the Peerage -- particularly with the point that staring down spears and swords is nothing compared to staring down directors. I decided to go for Building as the central theme of the Pelican sponsorship, so I talked about him building costumes, garb, encampments, bridges, boats, and anything else that needed building. Came out decently well, although my voice cracked once or twice in the middle.

(General note: I took photos of most of the interesting bits of court, which I can make available to interested parties. Mostly not high art, but I got pretty good shots of most of the awards.)

Court ended around 8pm, and we made dinner. The Ferd Stew was well-received, although I regretted that several campmates couldn't eat it due to the bacon. (Fortunately, there was enough other food that no one starved.) Much food was consumed, but we kept trying to drag people in to eat more. Marinated chicken was tasty, and the blueberry gingerbread for dessert was delightful. (Once someone got up the nerve to cut it, we went through about 3/4 of it in five minutes.)

It began to rain towards the tail end of dinner. I don't know precisely how I knew that this one would be bad, but I did -- years of Pennsic experience, I suppose. Whereas we'd gotten lots of cute little showers previously during the day, this time the skies opened up. Lots of lightning, a fair amount of thunder, and bucketing rain. We discovered that the popup canopy, while lovely and convenient, wasn't very waterproof, and all of us inside got a bit dripped on. (Except ladysprite, whose relationship with Thor was apparently helpful.) Discussion wandered far and wide, largely on the subject of names. The consensus was that hfcougar will be assigned the name Gertrude von Blau unless she comes up with something better soon.

The rain lasted an hour or two. Afterwards, the pirate group next door began to get their annual party off the ground. A lady wandered through our encampment looking for it, and we discovered that she actually lives in Carolingia. She apparently doesn't do much SCA aside from GNE, and her friends are all local to the event, so she thinks of herself as Malagentian, but she actually lives in Salem, so we encouraged her to come visit dance practice sometime. (It was around this point that I pointed out that the encampment was roughly equivalent to dance practice, which several people apparently hadn't noticed.)

Once it was fully under way, we drifted over to the pirate party. ladysprite got to see typical SCA drumming and ME dance for the first time in its proper environment; I was pleased to see that she could intuitively distinguish the ladies who knew what they were doing. After a while of that, we drifted back to our camp for a bit more schmoozing, and thence to bed. Slept a little better -- it was less cold, and I was more exhausted.

Sunday: Up Bright and Flipping Early again -- I wasn't able to sleep much past six, which is pretty unnatural for me. Chatted a bit with tpau and learnedax as they headed out quickly. Breakfast started with shortbread and OJ, courtesy of ladysprite -- that did much to get me started properly. Mostly just hung out for a few hours in the bright morning sun, as the rest of the camp woke up. Various and sundry breakfast, especially pancakes for the second day running, thanks to oakleaf_mirror.

matildalucet pulled out her doumbek, to see how the rain had affected it; ladysprite, curious from last night's party, asked if she could play around with it. There ensued about an hour of people tutoring her on how to hold it and hit it, and how the rhythms worked. No surprise, she proved naturally adept at it (as an experienced dancer, I knew she had a clear understanding of how to manage a beat), and by the end she was mostly holding the beat steady, even varying her drumming style a bit as she went. This made a fine audio backdrop for packing, as I emptied out the pavilion.

Closing ceremonies were at about 11am. They were fairly informal, as usual -- the King and Queen didn't show up, so the Prince and Princess played presence. Bridge won the war, 8 points to 5. Malagentia won the shopping point (although Bridge came close), one rapier point and I believe all of the arts points. Caryl won the cordial competition (indeed, it came out as a tie between two of her entries). It turned out that ladysprite had accounted for fully one-seventh of the Queen's Favors submitted on our side. The autocrat was congratulated for his work -- apparently, he had originally been the deputy autocrat, but the main one got called up to Iraq.

Afterwards, changed into mundanes for packing the car. Did the roof-lashing more carefully this time, so there would be no shifting. (The right approach is basically a running stitch attaching each pole to the roof rack then looping over two. This results in everything tied down tight, with string between each pair of poles so they don't bonk each other so hard.) elizabear's new canopy proved small enough to just sit across my back seat, which was very convenient.

Drive home was uneventful -- got up to the introduction of Mark Vorkosigan. (I've heard enough about the series that I could spot him right off the bat.) Unpacked the roof, but a bit too tired to fully unpack the car. Dinner from Bertucci's. Spent most of the evening reviewing photos, telling msmemory about the event, and so on.

Monday: Laundry. Since msmemory isn't allowed to lift heavy stuff, laundry duty is mine for the next month. She came along to tell me what goes where. Watched the next-to-last episode of Horatio Hornblower, which we've been watching our way through for several weeks now. I'll miss that series when we're done: it's fascinating seeing its influence everywhere from Star Trek to Barrayar. Also, the beginnings of a backache that hasn't gone away yet as of this writing. As usual, there was just a small initial twinge, which caused all my muscles to gradually lock up as the tension spread. *Sigh*; well, at least I have enough experience with this sort of back pain to know how to treat it.

Tuesday: Accademia. We got about halfway through Austria Gonzaga. Much discussion of the music, which is kind of weird -- it's written in four, but actually pulsed in six, with the result that it's a bit oddly syncopated. Once we figured out the fine musical details (thanks to some help from Caroline), we made the dance work with the music, but it's going to take some getting used to. Decided to stop before the sciolta, so that we could spend some time reviewing other dances. We'll pick up the rest of Austria after the break.

Upcoming events:

Tonight: Last dance practice of the year, sadly. Normally we would go to the end of July, but trying to come into town during the DNC would be insane.

Sunday: Tickets to the Flying Karamazov Brothers, assuming msmemory is up for it. They're always a fun, silly show, with good music and Much Juggling.

And then the summer gets *really* quiet for the next month. Time to recharge the batteries, and make battle plans for the new year...

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