Christmas was pleasant, and relatively low-key by our standards. I was just getting over the Flulike Thing (I note that some places now seem to be actually calling it "flu"), so was forced to keep it mild. What present shopping I did was all on Christmas Eve, since I had the day off and was able (barely) to get out of bed for a couple of hours and shop a bit. Fortunately, I'd given some thought to the problem, and was able to pick up at least several major presents efficiently. Mostly, I shopped at the Cambridge Artists' Co-op, same as usual (it is by far my favorite place to buy presents). And I got to try out the new tea shop across the street from it. I note that it carries bubble tea, which I'll have to try sometime (adespota keeps talking it up), but for now I stuck to a sedate green tea with roasted rice to give me back a little energy during the shopping.
A sign of how overwhelmed we've both been lately: we decided to leave the Christmas tree mostly bare. Usually we festoon it with ornaments to within an inch of its life, but neither of us had the energy for that. And frankly, we both concluded that a nice tree with just lights on it is pleasantly elegant. As usual, we put the tree up Christmas Eve, and took it down on 12th Night, long after most of them appeared on the curb.
Major presents included a couple of good knives from msmemory's mother (no hints intended -- it's what we suggested), and a video card from msmemory so that I can finally play Thief III. (Not that I've even had time to install the card since then.)
The big present, though, was an iPod. I've been talking about getting one for years, and so she decided to deal with it by buying me one. This is proving to be way cool -- among other things, it is finally motivating me to get off my ass and start seriously ripping my CD collection. I'm not going to rip all of it (which would be more than can fit on the iPod). Instead, I'm mainly ripping Road Music as I define it, a strange cross-genre amalgam of stuff with a good beat. I'm marking all of this into the genre of "Road Music" as I do so, so that I can simply have a single Smart Playlist for it, and put it onto shuffle play most of the time. (No, I don't want to shuffle *all* of my music, just the Road Music.)
(The iPod also injects a little bit of geekitude into going to the gym. It's a silly motivator, but I'll take what I can get.)
The laptop that I bought just before getting horribly ill proved to be a godsend. Being able to lie in bed while reading LJ provided me with a little distraction while I was sick. So far, I'm still pretty happy with the laptop. The screen really needs to be tilted at Just The Right Angle to be easy to read, but it works smoothly, the keyboard and WiFi connections work well, and the widescreen is proving more useful than I'd expected.
Christmas dinner was over at herooftheage's, and was quite pleasant. I decided to keep my distance from everyone -- I was feeling significantly better, but wasn't sure I was 100% past the contagious stage, so refrained from any hugs. But the dinner and conversation were lovely as always. We wound up sitting with herooftheage and Mara (on the occasions they sat down), damascene and Chip, baron_saturday and his lady (whose LJ handle I've forgotten), and siderea, who I hadn't had a chance to chat with in-person in too long. The food was all excellent, with a veal dish coupled with Latkes of Unusual Size as the particular standout. (And herooftheage's grandmother's peach pie, which was remarkably good.)
We decided to do a flying New Year's Eve -- we'd gotten invites to or heard about a bunch of parties, and decided to go to several of them. We started at Susan & Mark's; they were having a fairly quiet and relaxed evening, mostly attended by Rev. War folks who we got introduced to. Then on to keshwyn and mindways's, where we said hi to that crowd and chatted a fair bit with Dan and Viv. Finally, over to the Buttery, which was a true mob scene this year: the weather being exceptionally good, everyone came to the Buttery, it seemed. (Or at least, a large fraction of my close friends.) Hung out there for several hours, in a Deep Conversation about the quality (or lack thereof) of current television which sucked in a bunch of us. Got briefly shown a very cool board game that several folks were playing (a board game that ladysprite likes, even); I'll have to check it out.
Council was pretty normal. I'm glad to see that one side-project is bearing some fruit -- Lakshmi is now officially taking over as Webmistress, and has lots of ideas about how to make the Baronial website really hum properly. She did a detailed presentation of her plans, all of which seem to make good sense. My main contribution to this was just getting the right people talking to each other, but it's good to see it working out: Daffydd and I have both been running overly idiosyncratic websites, and that's become something of a hindrance to the smooth functioning of the Barony as the Web has become more central to peoples' lives. Lakshmi's plans are more conventional, but in an appropriate way, and they should make it easier to maintain the site properly.
Accademia last week was quiet, but productive nonetheless. oakleaf_mirror came back after a long absence, so we introduced her to several of the dances we've reconstructed in the meantime. And we reconstructed Conto dell'Orco ("The Tale of the Whale"), an easy and cute little dance that ladysprite had just translated and wanted to check out. (The original source appears to have a completely spurious line in the middle, so we needed to try out the dance to confirm that it works okay if we ignore that line.) Folks who were driven away by the excessive level of argument at Accademia might want to try it again -- it's settled down a bit, and become more civilized and friendly again.
After a couple of quiet weeks, the insanity began full-force this weekend, with Kingdom 12th Night. This was a fun event, truth to tell. It was held at Golden Hill, the church where msmemory grew up, which is one of my favorite sites: a rabbit warren of confusing little byways, but it has lots of rooms and it's prettier than most sites save FUSIN.
There was a *lot* of Court -- a good four hours, I would guess. They made one Laurel (Mistress Dresden, who was already a Pelican and thus didn't need a vigil), two Pelicans (one of them Luke's longtime apprentice), and two Knights. Fortunately, the santuary at Golden Hill is lovely, and large enough to comfortably seat the crowd of 400 or so that I think we had.
Both Knightings were interesting. I was struck by Oskgar's fealty oath -- it's not giving too much away to say that the precise wording was too close to a certain Masonic wording to be coincidence. Unfortunately, I didn't see him again before he had to go back to the hospital (I'm not sure of the full details), so I wasn't able to check into that.
Ankara's knighting was quite excellent. It was history in the making, and everyone knew it, but they let the ritual itself proceed smoothly. The Rite of Manumission was done properly, with nothing held back, which was apt. However, I don't think she got quite properly coached in how to deal with the aftermath -- she needs to push back a little harder when shoved. The ceremony ended with Duke Gavin declaiming as melodramatically as possible that he was the senior Knight present and had been waiting a long time for this day; that was then echoed by Master El saying much the same as the senior person, period. I'm afraid that Ankara looked just a tad poleaxed by it all, but she bore up well.
Of course, the highlight of the day for me was msmemory getting her Augmentation of Arms. This is one of those low-rank high-prestige deals that I am so fond of -- it carries no formal rank, but is generally only given to Peers who have gone truly above and beyond, so it means a lot. I'd had no idea that it was coming, which annoyed me a tad -- I would have gotten the word out to more of her friends -- but the moment was still wonderful. As is often the case, they didn't specify what the Augmentation *was*, which rankled Steffan (who rightly points out that you can't just give a generic Augmentation), so he and I proceeded to decide what it should be. (Pending msmemory's veto, of course.)
I wound up spending the heart of the afternoon in Peerage meetings, no surprise -- this is pretty normal for 12th Night. I noticed once again something that I should probably turn into an LJ article of its own: the Laurels are far more prone to philosophical discussion than the Pelicans. There's probably some deep reason for that, but it bears some thought.
Dinner was good, although not remarkable -- the main dishes were chicken with what I would guess to be an almond-milk based sauce, and roast beef with a killer pear mustard. There was a garlic soup that was quite decent, but needed to be hotter, and some fairly good gingerbread for dessert. We wound up sitting with Steve and 'Speth, Sallamallah and his lady, and Alethea, so there was good conversation with folks who I don't see often enough. Dinner was strongly entertainment-oriented; fortunately, the performers were pretty high-caliber, so this wasn't annoying the way it sometimes is. The most interesting bit was a performance of a Reynard the Fox play done in and around the diners: not exactly the highest level of literature the world has seen, but a neat bit of period theater that one doesn't often see.
Sunday was mainly traveling home, but first I had the curious experience of going right back to the site for mundane church services. msmemory's mother is still an active member of Golden Hill, so we took her out to church in the morning. Reasonably pleasant service, although I had to keep reading ahead to figure out which bits of ritual I felt were appropriate for me to join into, and which were best kept quiet. Might be the first time I've seen a baptism, I suspect. The sermon was done by the Bridgeport area director of Habitat for Humanity -- I hadn't realized that that was a nominally faith-based organization, but from what he said it's clearly very deliberately as ecumenical as they can make it. I was slightly put off by his implication at one point that getting fundamentalist Christians and UU members to work together covers the gamut completely, but decided not to concern myself with it too much. The core of his point was that they've managed to build 100 houses in and around Bridgeport over the past 20 years, and plan to build another 100 over the next 5 (which is pretty impressive when you think about it), and that they've managed to turn some war zones back into neighborhoods again.
This week is slightly quiet, although only by my insane standards. Tonight is Lodge -- it's Pizza Night, though, so it'll just be a nominal meeting before we all retire to the Leaning Tower of Pizza for dinner. Tuesday we're dropping my car off at the shop for a workover. Wednesday is dance practice. Thursday is a small party of the developers from work, who are hazing the expectant new fathers, and then heading over to hungry_tiger's to talk about Cold Storage.
And then there are the weekends. This past weekend was CT for 12th Night. Next weekend is NJ, for Carillon Investiture. The weekend after that is Arisia, in Boston. The weekend after *that* is Birka, in NH. Even by our standards, that's a tad loony. OTOH, it could be worse -- we could be the Royalty, who as best we can figure have scheduled themselves 12 weekends in a row without a break. It's lovely to see Royals who take the job seriously, but I do hope they survive the experience...