When last we left our hero, it was Last Sunday, just before the Demo Prep Meeting at MIT. This was a get-together for the various guild heads, so that the Chatelaines should brief us on how the demo was going to run. It was a reasonably pleasant and productive session -- they were well-organized, so things went efficiently aside from occasional sidetracks into discussion and suggestions.
(Speaking of one of those sidetracks: I was ruefully amused to discover that The Officially Verboten Topics At Demos, according to the SCA's new corporate-mandated policy, are Sex, Booze, Religion and Households. It's a delightful example of why we shouldn't let Corporate make policy. The first three actually make some sense. Sex is always a touchy subject, and Booze and Religion are the topics on which most SCAdians are likely to misrepresent official policy. But Households? I have to believe that this is a reaction to the fact that, in some Kingdoms, Household == Politics, so it's a fraught subject to discuss at demos there. But here, the policy just looks goofy. This should be a Kingdom-level restriction, not a Society-level one. But I digress...)
Monday was Council, which was pretty uneventful. The only particularly interesting bit from my POV was that I observed this -- the semi-annual Event Scheduling Meeting -- and declared that there should be a December Ball. There was a big hole in the winter anyway, and we haven't had a dance-centric event in a while, so it seems like a fine opportunity. I already have a prospective autocrat who is interested in running it, so I'm hopeful that this will work out.
(To be honest, it wasn't *quite* this spontaneous. I'd been chatting with Eleanor after Coronation about the schedule, and that was when the idea first came up. But it was mostly a "Let's put on a show!" type moment.)
Tuesday was Accademia. It turned out that Phelan has been using our room in the off weeks to do Buffens rehearsals -- he wanted to do a high-end performance for NEFFA. However, this week was the last chance to rehearse before NEFFA, and they needed a dress rehearsal. So we let them have the big room, and switched to the triangular room by Commedia instead. We practiced a few dances, pulling pamelina in towards the end. Next time, we're going to do more practice/reminder, having found that we don't even remember Barriera well at the moment. We had a bit of discussion of the Palio, and are talking about possibly doing a performance piece or two; we'll see.
Over the course of Accademia, a consensus emerged from somewhere that the head of the group was supposed to buy everyone ice cream. I successfully deflected that, only to have it mutate into the ranking person present buying everyone ice cream. So I acquiesced, and we all went down to Tosci's, where I only wound up buying a few people ice cream, as it happened. I had forgotten just how good Tosci's is, especially at the original store. I had Chocolate Sluggo, which is my favorite death-by-chocolate ice cream; Aaron and ladysprite had a lime sorbet that I can only describe as a "sippin' ice cream", it was so intense. We need to do this more often.
Wednesday was Dance Practice. This was fun while it lasted, but I punted out early due to exhaustion -- the insomnia was kicking my butt pretty fiercely all week, and peaked that day.
Thursday was the meeting of the Order of the Moon, the Baronial arts order. This was pleasant, but underattended to say the least. I'm not sure why -- msmemory and I speculated afterwards that the attempt to hold the order meetings on separate nights may have backfired. Hopefully we can turn this around: we simply didn't have a broad enough cross-section of the Barony there for me to feel like we were able to talk informedly enough.
Friday night's date was at Carambola. I have no idea why we don't go there more often -- we've just never gotten into the habit, but it's awfully good. I had a "braised" duck dish that I would really call a soup -- essentially Duck Choo Chee as a thick soup. Great stuff: it's my favorite type of curry in the world, and the presentation felt like official authorization to drink the curry sauce, even after I'd run out of duck.
Saturday was The Demo, very much the big event of the month. While Carolingia does scads of demos every year, they've tended to be strictly college-focused -- we've fallen entirely out of the habit of doing non-collegiate demos. So this was new and different: a fairly large-scale demo, held out by the bandstand on Boston Common. jdulac and I had been idly talking about having a public demo in April since the fall, but dreda and rising_moon took the bull by the horns and made it happen.
Overall, it was a rousing success, the best demo we've had in many years. (Possibly the best since the MegaDemos, long long ago.) The weather gods cooperated, so we got a lovely, sunny day -- perhaps 5 degrees cooler than I might have wished, but still decent shirt-sleeve weather. The result was that there was lots of foot traffic wandering around the Common, and much of it came over to see what we were doing.
I think the Barony collectively acquitted themselves well. Pretty much everyone was on their best behaviour, remembering to talk to the public and draw them in, rather than simply chatting with their friends. We had about a dozen activities on show, and all of them got a good deal of attention.
I wound up running the dancing and (of course) the games table. The dancing went reasonably well, although we were dealt a few reality-checks here and there. We had been asked to dance up on the bandstand, on the theory that the elevation would make us more visible. In practice, though, the bandstand is just so big that we weren't all that conspicuous on it, and the stone dropped the temperature by about five degrees, so we decided to do our second set down on the grass -- that proved more comfortable in terms of temperature, and made it a little easier to drag members of the public in to dance. I got a good crowd of folks up and dancing (thanks, all!), and lots of folks (especially ladysprite) worked hard to help the public get through the dances.
The games had been a concern, since my attention was split, but went well enough in practice. laurion and asdr83 were only able to attend for a little while, so we started off the afternoon with him running some bocce and then her organizing a game of seven-sided backgammon; both did nicely at getting members of the public to come over and ask questions. The gaming table itself got more than its share of foot traffic, because it was central and unshaded -- as I'd suspected, being the one table without a sunshade meant that more people actually came and looked at it. Fortunately, umbran had set up his chain making there, and ladysprite and Eowyn both spent a fair amount of time near the table, so they were able to deal with basic questions and grab me when more specialized ones came up.
Following the Demo, I collected msmemory and we headed over to Wadsworth House for hfcougar's birthday-party-slash-post-revel. This was a pleasant, laid-back party, exactly the right way to unwind after the Demo. There was pizza, there was Apples to Apples, there was cake, and it was Good.
On Sunday morning, we rendezvoused with new_man, mermaidlady and lakshmi_amman at The Blue Room. new_man has been telling us for ages that this is the best brunch around, and we finally had a good day to try it out. I'm well impressed. It's not a particularly traditional bunch (the scrambled eggs, hash browns and pancakes are way down at the end of the buffet line), but it's a really fabulous lunch buffet, with a diverse set of dishes. I especially liked the ribs (good spicy back-kick) and the octopus salad (served on tortillas). Not cheap, but it falls into the elite category of Restaurants to Bring My Dad To.
Following that, we wandered over to Harvard Hillel for chaiya and hakamadare's wedding. This was as lovely, eclectic and fun as I'd expected, and really drove home what a broad cross-section of folks they know. The SCA was broadly represented, including folks who haven't been to an event in many years (including Sigmundr, my sometime roommate Don and, most surprisingly, Catherine at Cottington), ranging down to Squirmy (who, at negative a few days old, was clearly the newest SCAdian present).
Various SCA folks participated in various ways. hawkegirl and family played the wedding march, on a variety of string instruments. goldsquare wound up heralding, and read the English half of the ketubah, which was penned by Rhonwyn. Towards the end of the day, the best man asked members of the community to step forward and say something about the couple; I decided to jump in there, and said a few words.
We wound up going in mundanes, despite it being an all-periods wedding. It's hard to express precisely why, but my court garb just doesn't feel like a *celebration* outfit to me. It's what I wear when I'm running balls or attend 12th Night Court, and it's all about Duty for me. Whereas my suit with The Vest of Many Colors is precisely about celebration (which is probably why I mostly wear it to weddings). It was interesting to note that more of the fen seemed to be in garb than the active SCAdians -- not sure precisely what that means, but it's probably worth reflecting on. I *suspect* it's a function of age, but I'm not sure.
Other high points included the ceremony itself (an excellent mix of ritual and happiness, very right for the couple), the scrapbook -- magic markers and cardstock were given to everyone as a fun version of a guest book -- and the wedding cake, a homemade affair with cats on top. I had a slice from the chocolate half, which was a marvel of dark chocolate, more intense than I've ever had commercially.
And thence home, for a well-deserved collapse. This week, I get back to a somewhat saner schedule, fortunately, and can start dealing with the House project...