Last Saturday was the semi-annual Greenwood Isle Picnic. It was a tad small this time around, for no particular reason that I could find -- lots of little conflicts keeping individuals away, rather than any one big thing. But I have to say: y'all who haven't been coming to this really ought to give it a try. It's always a pleasant afternoon out, sharing food and stories and generally having a good time. Our events are so often busy and stressful that it makes a lovely change of pace to just hang out and be with folks.
That said, if we were going to have a small session, this was the time for it. When we got there, we discovered that the residential quad was full of "The Simmons Cup". Far as we could tell, this is some sort of post-Potter innovation, getting the various dorms into various little athletic competitions with each other. Fond though I am of a green full of cheering women, it would have kind of cramped our style, so we chose one of the little grassy knolls between a couple of buildings for the picnic, and had a lovely (if slightly cool) afternoon of it.
Note to self: Stilton is a very good thing to bring to picnics, and a little goes a long way.
The following day was May Day, which was full of good memories. In general, it was a delightful little event on an absolutely smashing day -- the weather was about as good as you could ask for, and that brought out a lot of folks who don't make it to a lot of events. In very loose order:
I was playing deputy Chatelaine for the day, and I have to say it was more fun than I was expecting. The advantage of being the official newcomer-welcomer is that there's no uncertainty to it: it is my responsibility to go talk to the people who I don't recognize, and it's somehow easier when I know that. Wound up spending much of the day talking with around eight new folks, most of whom seemed to be enjoying themselves. My thanks to all the activity heads at whom I pushed newcomers -- I think everyone was quite welcoming, and did a lot to help folks get acclimated.
ladysprite's Baronial Artisan competition went quite well, I think, with (IIRC) five entrants and several more people just putting stuff out for display. The hit of the day was the Fools' Guild entry of "Self-Replicating Period Mousetraps" -- a pair of almost unbearably cute kittens who drew lots of people over to the table. That said, the real entries were really excellent -- as I'd hoped, I was in no danger of winning. (I entered my carving experiments to show the flag, but I think it was the weakest of the entries.) I gather that the folks doing the judging had a very hard time of it, between several really great items on display.
Due to Life issues, we never did manage to get something together for the auction; fortunately, new_man had things well in hand, parlaying the items he did get into a very good windfall for the NMS fund. The highlight there was probably the Queen buying asdr83's scarf. (Her Majesty is reportedly fond of shopping as recreation, and apparently perked up when she heard about the auction.)
Court was longer than usual, since Her Majesty was there -- she was largely having a nice day out, but got in a modest Royal Court along the way. I will undoubtedly forget some significant items, but I particularly recall learnedax getting a Daystar, ladysprite getting a Terpsichore, oakleaf_mirror getting a Silver Crescent, and peregrinning getting a Writ of Summons for the Laurel. (To be presented at Pennsic, as is appropriate for someone with a lot of cross-Kingdom friends.) And in less-official business, I took hfcougar on as my first official Protege -- we've been talking about that for the better part of a year, and finally got around to making it real.
I came into the Commedia performance a bit late, and missed the opening setup. So I came in to see some of the usual characters clearly on shipboard (lovely physical humor, really evoking the rocking ship), and then getting shipwrecked. Okay, says I -- fairly ordinary scenario. And then out comes Dottore Gratiano with his daughter Isabella, lamented how they were stranded on this island 11 years before -- and I finally twigged to what was going on. Fun performance and a good spoof of the Bard, with more good physical bits throughout (especially with Pamelina and Fritz). I'd say the only weakness was that the ending was a bit abrupt -- it felt like the pacing was slightly off at the end.
For dinner, we did a Falling Leaves style potluck. I'd been a bit skeptical -- potlucks sometimes fall apart when they aren't strongly publicized and led, and this one had flown a bit under the radar. But in fact it worked well, with a decent variety of food and just about the right amount of it shared around.
Everything ran a ways behind schedule: the event was fun but a bit overscheduled, and nothing got dropped. Which was mostly fine, except that it meant that Commedia finished after 7pm, and it was about 8:30 by the time we started the dancing. I can't say I was overjoyed by that, but I wasn't surprised either -- I could tell by noon that the schedule was doomed. So I ruthlessly slashed the dancing down to a single set, since I was pretty sure that most of the remaining people would vanish during a break. Things were small, but we had decent fun, and got everyone out of there at a decent hour.
Today's day out was Laurel's Prize Tourney, in Bergental. msmemory and I went our separate ways for the weekend: I've been long since committed to Laurel's Prize (heck, I helped talk them into holding it), but she went off to Crown Tourney with the bulk of Moomba. I regret having to miss lakshmi_amman's birthday party (Happy Birthday!), but generally had a good time of it here.
Being unable to choose which of my arts to challenge in, I decided to do both, and had both a games challenge and an arts one; each was to do a full reconstruction. When it came down to the wire, the only entrant on the games side was mikekn -- Galen had been intending to enter his Kugelach work, but Life intruded. Still, Mike made up for it with a delightful reconstruction of Losing Loadam, a game I've been meaning to reconstruct for years now. The game turns out to be rather odd, and I went digging into the primary source to see where Mike was guessing, but no -- every detail of the reconstruction is well-supported in the original.
Suffice it to say, it's a specialized trick-avoidance game, where the top cards (ten to ace) are worth points, and the objective is to not be the first person to get to 31 points. This makes for a surprisingly subtle game -- while I got a handle on the tactics fairly quickly, it's going to take some practice to figure out the strategies. (For instance, I believe it is sometimes worthwhile to eat a court card, in order to avoid having to later take a high-value Ten.) On top of that, it is unusually explicit in allowing mistakes, and even cheating: the rules imply strongly that you don't need to admit that you've lost until and unless someone catches you at it. (I suspect herooftheage would be dangerously good at the game, since it rewards a strong memory.) It even has a weird trump rule: the trump isn't revealed until the first time someone renounces, and then gets hidden again so you have to remember it. I'd bet that, overall, it makes a remarkably silly game when one has had a couple of drinks.
(Which reminds me: Mike, any objection to me starting to teach the game up here? I think the reconstruction is sound enough that I don't see any reason to wait to start playing it. And can you email me a copy? I neglected to grab one for my bag before leaving.)
Anyway, having only one entrant made things easy over there, and I gave Mike my latest project: my first foray into whittling, a heraldic-style chess rook. That was a fun excuse to try something I've been meaning to do for a long time. However, the decision was much harder on the dance side.
Both ladysprite and besslibby entered dance reconstructions, and both were great. On the one hand, ladysprite entered a new reconstruction from Caroso, with a musical arrangement and discussion provided by udalrich. The dance looks to be quite cute -- not too complex and very flirtatious. (I excused her from the performance part of the challenge, owing to her recent knee surgery -- she'll do a performance when she's up for it.) They had to work through some interpretive problems with the music, which made this dance a more interesting problem; I called in Mistress Deonna to vet the musical decisions, and she agreed that they appeared sound.
On the other hand, besslibby entered a reconstruction from Il Papa, one of the more obscure but important period dance sources. It was a "sheep-to-shawl" reconstruction, starting from the original MS -- it's one of the only projects I know in the SCA dance community that's as exciting as ladysprite's Caroso translation. The dance doesn't have music, but at almost the last minute she realized that the dance appears to be a derivative of one of the Domenico-repertoire ones. That's really quite exciting, since that makes this a particularly important transitional piece, and she wound up organizing a performance of the dance using the music from the earlier source -- not a perfect match, but close enough to lend support to the theory that they are the same dance.
After vascillating a number of times, I eventually gave the prize to ladysprite (an IOU to compose a dance in her honor) -- I believe she'd been working on hers a bit longer, and that showed in a somewhat more detailed presentation. But both dances are really great work; I hope we can get both polished up to the point where we can introduce them into the Baronial repertoire. In all, the entries to my challenges lived completely up to my hopes: good, no-holds-barred reconstructions, suitable for publicizing more broadly around the Society.
Once that was all done, the bunch of us (me, rosinavs, ladysprite and umbran, besslibby and cristovau) repaired to Friendly's for a much-needed dinner. (My only complaint about the event was that the food mostly ran out while I was working on my challenges, so I was rather hungry.) And thence home -- while I'd intended to get to the Wadsworth Cinco de Mayo party, I'm just a bit too pooped. (I never sleep well when my lady is away...)