General: I'm rather tired and burnt-out at the moment. My conclusion from September is that I can cope with doing about seven demo-like-objects (demos, activity fairs and first meetings) in a busy month without going nuts; unfortunately, I actually did nine. With any luck, we've given the boroughs a good enough kickstart that I won't have to overdo it like this next year. Also, hopefully we can get more organized in advance, and get more help -- while several people (especially hfcougar) helped a lot, I'd like to get more people involved and doing at least a little. In the meantime, I need to take a few weeks off to just relax and get my head together, before starting in on the next major stuff.
I'm contemplating a notion that siderea suggested to me a while back, of writing a series of articles about a variety of SCA-culture subjects (how it all works), and sending them more or less weekly to a dedicated mailing list. (A sort of FlyLady for SCA.) Tell me if you think you'd want onto that -- I'm going to want to gauge interest over the next month.
Wednesday: Dance practice. It was fun, and good to see some of the new members there, but our gender balance is fairly well hosed at the moment. We definitely need to get some more guys -- hopefully the new fellows from Duncharloch will stick around. Having new ladies is excellent, but I think we neglected the experienced ones this week.
Thursday: Dinner tonight was another Cook's Illustrated special: their version of Fried Rice. msmemory described it as "Chinese Jambalaya", which is a fair description: the base is Oyster Sauce instead of Tabasco, but the concept is the same -- rice with shrimp, sausage, pork and other fine impurities. A little strange as fried rice goes, but quite tasty, definitely a keeper.
Friday: msmemory had an OES funeral in the early evening, so our date was a late one. We went down to Sato, and indulged in large quantities of sushi. Must remember that their crispy-fried scallop appetizer is a big win, with enough roasted garlic. (It is very hard to get a dish that has enough garlic.)
Saturday: Coronation. I took a bunch of court pictures; to try out the LJ Pics service, I've uploaded a selection and linked them below.
We got up bright and early. No, that isn't true: it was much too early for it to be bright. I am not a six AM kind of guy; I'm sure that ladysprite will have no sympathy whatsoever, but morning really isn't my thing. Fortunately, we were in agreement that coffee was a necessity, so we went and confused the mundanes at Dunkin' Donuts. (We didn't really freak them -- mostly, they seemed to assume that we were on our way to an early Halloween party -- but we did get some strange looks.) We weren't sure about how well-stocked the Royalty Room would be, so we picked up Munchkins and a Box O' Joe for it. As it turns out, were weren't the only ones to do so (indeed, the morning of Coronation looked very much like a DD commercial), but better safe than sorry.
The site turns out to be lovely. I'm sure that there is a lot more of it than we saw, but even a fraction of it sufficed quite well for an event that came out around 550 attendees. And it reportedly wasn't horribly expensive, so hopefully we'll be able to use it again.
Parking was a major concern. The day before the event, the site decided to give us half the site, and the Cub Scouts the other half; the result was that our assumed overflow parking evaporated. We managed to squeeze everyone in, although just barely, due to hard work by Jack the Black and others directing folks to park in tight.
The court site itself was a very nice amphiteater cut into the side of a hill; according to Steffan, it bore a strong resemblance to the Welsh Law Courts, so he was much taken with it. It had twin firepits flanking the thrones; I was slightly disappointed that we didn't light them up, since it would have been dramatic even in daylight.
I picked up a "site token". These were a Rozi special. She was actually charging for them this time ($2 each), but they're lovely -- miniature Viking axes cast in pewter. She actually cast them around thin wooden dowels, drilling holes in the dowels so that the axe-heads would adhere. I spent much of the afternoon doing little tomahawk chops with the little thing.
Last court was fairly normal. There was lots of business, but a few items stand out. One was Yevsha receiving a Court Barony, which apparently caught him completely flat-footed. The scroll was written in the form of the standard I Sebastiani director's spiel ("You lucky, lucky people..."), and the coronet is utterly spectacular: a Julien le Point plate coronet in a style that looks reasonably appropriate for Yevsha, worn over a hat made by mermaidlady (and Lakshmi?). Other major business included Roz (one of the major court heralds) getting an Augmentation of Arms (arguably the second-highest award in terms of prestige), and Ernie getting the Tyger of the East (arguably the highest). Ernie was also described as Royal Regalia, which I think is amusingly appropriate.
The actual claiming of the throne was appropriate, and relatively dramatic. To begin with, the weather cooperated in fine fashion: the morning gloom was, as someone described it, "fine Viking weather". Ambassadors for Thorson entered, to claim the throne, then signaled with a chain of horns for the entourage to enter. The entourage itself was an immense parade, all decked out in Viking finery; svava was carried in on a shield (albeit looking a tad nervous in the doing). Thorson and Svava demanded the throne, offering Kelson a noble seat in his native lands if he relented. Following the assumption of the throne came the usual fealty oaths; these were normal, but Their Nibs did a nice job of customizing their responses, instead of just using the same boilerplate each time. Finally, we broke for lunch.
There was no official lunch being served; fortunately, Nordenhall was selling a reasonable collection of stuff. I had a cholesterol ball (a Scotch Egg) for my main lunch. Late in the afternoon, I had a dessert of a "Turk's Cap" (a meringue with a Hershey's Kiss at the center -- not period, but tasty).
The core of the afternoon was taken up by a long Laurels' Meeting. I can't talk much about that; suffice it to say that there had been a controversy that needed airing and clearing up. In the end, the meeting was actually somewhat productive, ending with some consensus that it would be a Good Thing if the Laurelate met more often. I issued two implicit challenges, pointing out that such meetings were really going to be much more useful if they promoted some sense of identity among the Order, rather than just being face to face discussions of pollings, and that such meetings would only happen if individual members took the initiative to run them, rather than waiting for some authority figure to do so. Both of those seem to have been taken up: several members are talking about running get-togethers at upcoming events.
After that, I eventually found Harald. I'd been searching for him all morning -- he was in charge of the Viking Games, and I was the one with the boards, of course. He wound up borrowing one of the Tafl boards for a presentation he and Godith were making to the Royals: he's making a carved Tafl board (not yet finished), and she made a lovely set of glass playing pieces for it. Very neat stuff...
That was about all I really did during the midafternoon. I was horribly tired by this time, and not capable of stringing three coherent thoughts together. Fortunately, First Court came along, so I could play spectator for a while. This was introduced by a skald giving a very nice poetic description of Thorson winning the Crown; that was both appropriate and dramatic, although she was clearly nervous as all-get-out.
First court had a bunch of normal business. The one major item precedence-wise was a Pelican for Duchess Jana, which actually came pretty early along. The other notable element was that it was a Very Good Day for the Hawke family -- all four ambulatory members received some sort of award, and Thorson came into court with hawkegirl's hawk on his arm. (It got restless, so she had to take it shortly after, and it spent most of court sleeping on her arm.)
After court was a rare official meeting of House Silverwing. Steffan had taken goldsquare into the household at Pennsic, making him the first new member who wasn't a formal student of Steffan's in many years. So Steffan wanted to have a formal welcome ceremony; he chose a Welsh model, giving goldsquare his protection, and then passing his hands between those of the existing members. Nice little moment, although I wish more of the household had been there for it. Did drive home that we're actually going to have to poll the local members of the household next time there's a formal Council vote, though. Steffan also gave me an official House Silverwing baldric for moments when the house needs to act with a common identity, which was quite neat.
After all that, things proceeded apace towards dinner. Adhemar had been the court herald, and I will credit him this: more than anyone else, he knows how to keep a court zipping along. He had been told that things were running late (court started most of an hour late), and dinner needed to be on time, so he had whipped through the business. It is a mixed blessing -- I think it comes off sounding a tad perfunctory when he goes into that mode -- but he did manage to get things done in plenty of time for the 7pm feast.
The feast itself was lovely, of course -- Luke was the head cook, and can always be counted upon for a meal that is filling, interesting, tasty and authentic all at the same time. Particular highlights for me included the duck soup, which was delicious (although, sadly, the duckskin got waterlogged); venison sausage which was interesting, but I fear a tad bland; and a simple dish of bacon, ham and leeks that was utterly to die for. The bread was worth mentioning even though it wasn't homemade -- it was huge loaves from Pain d'Avignon down on the Cape, which msmemory and I had been to but never thought about using for a feast. They apparently deliver locally, though (pickup at Whole Foods), and get the seal of approval from Marion, so it's worth keeping in mind. Sadly, I was too busy during dessert to grab a bite of The Pink Stuff, which was apparently some violently-colored mix of yogurt and raspberry that met with general approval.
The reason I was too busy was because I had gotten volunteered to run kitchen cleanup, which kept me busy pretty much the whole time. I ducked out for 10-15 minutes for each of the two courses, but was otherwise in the kitchen continuously from 6:45 until crosslet and I finished mopping the floors at about 11:10.
Fortunately, I got a good deal of help. Worthy of particular note were dreda, rising_moon and Ki-Lin, who spent practically that entire time doing dishes and cleaning pots -- never the most fun job, especially for three hours. Lots of others came in, especially once dinner started to wrap -- I don't have a complete list, but I recall offhand that cvirtue, new_man, Lakshmi, mzkero, Alison, tpau, learnedax, Kayleigh and a couple of folks I didn't know all did a lot of work. An epic feast involves epic cleanup, but in the end I think we managed to leave the kitchen properly spic and span.
(Also fortunately, the site is exceptionally well-suited for cleanup. The dishwashing station is a full three-sink affair, with industrial-grade instructions of how to do the washing here, then rinse there, and finally soak in the sanitizer solution there. That was a blessing, and helped everyone's sanity. But we still wound up sink-limited, due to the sheer number of dishes to clean. Next time we use this site, we need to do some research, and figure out exactly how to run the industrial dishwasher well in advance -- this would only have helped with a minority of the dishes, but it would have permitted at least a bit more parallelism.)
I was the last one out the door of the hall, which was appropriate; msmemory and I departed straightway, since it was already past time to close the site. We headed over to the postrevel at The Dark Place for a little while, but didn't stay very long -- I was exhausted, and the party was collectively fairly drunk and beginning to droop. (Being the sober one at a party where everyone else is drinking is usually less than totally fun.) Got home, and finally hit bed a bit after 1am.
Today: Slept in, which went a little ways towards my sleep debt (although I need a lot more). I'd intended to get down to tpau's garb workshop today, but the timing just didn't work -- by the time I was finally coherent, I really needed to focus on putting together the music for this week's Accademia, which took a few hours. I think it sounds right, but I'm not sure about the repeat structure of Amor Costante. The text says that there are six repeats, but the music claims that there are thirteen, and includes a sciolta that isn't totally apparent from the text. (And the descriptions of the dance verses don't look long enough to support a double repeat of the music for each time of the dance.) Well, we'll see what it looks like when we reconstruct the dance, and I'll fiddle with the music if I need to.
Upcoming: A busy but normal first week of the month.
Monday: Going-away party for Carlos (our original QA guy at work), which is conveniently being held at Flattop Johnny's, so I'll do that before Council.
Tuesday: Accademia. We're going to work up Bassa Colonna and Amor Costante.
Wednesday: Dance practice.
Friday: Cooking for Falling Leaves. No date, because msmemory is going down to Kingdom Crusades in Atlantia with the Crown.
Saturday: Falling Leaves. I'm helping teach a few games at Casa Moomba, and will generally be bouncing around introducing people to each other.