This weekend was Vinland Raids, down in Smoking Rocks. Carolingia collectively (us included) has a bad habit of rather ignoring the shire to our south, but this time assailed it en masse -- between Royal Armored Champions and two Carolingian peerages happening in court, a lot of folks made the trek to Cape Cod.
Prep and Packing: As previously mentioned, msmemory and I were planning a shindig for after Court, and had shopped with great gusto. We're altogether too used to running parties on behalf of clubs and such, and having a specific budget, but this time was just for us. So we spent Thursday evening wandering the aisles of Bread and Circus, grabbing one of those, three of these and a handful of the other thing. She wanted Oreos, so we got some of those. (Well, no -- Bread and Circus doesn't carry Oreos, presumably because they aren't organic or such. So we got official Newman's Own Knockoff Oreos, which presumably are made with organic Sweet White Goop instead.) I wanted fig newtons, so we got those. We got indecisive about the crackers, so we got three different kinds. And so on; it got pretty scary.
Once home, we made a couple of pies and bottled the mead. She had put up a batch of her famous Meady Pop a few weeks ago, and got a new toy or two to make the siphoning easier. (Essentially a specialized pump and valve for the two ends of the siphon.) We made quick work of the bottling, winding up with about 20 bottles of nice bright pink mead. (Pink? Yes -- six bags of cranberries in three gallons of mead.)
We both took Friday off from work, and dedicated it to getting to the site -- which was good, since it took about eight hours all told. I marvel at the fact that we can now take more stuff to a weekend event than some folks bring to Pennsic. Fortunately, tpau took some of the groceries down for us, and after spending the morning getting the last pieces and assembling a new roof rack, I was able to put the big stuff up top.
Friday evening was fairly quiet. We got to the site at about 5:30, and was informed that all Carolingians were to report to Sutton Hoo. The site turns out to be enormous, but very spread out. It's a scout camp, covered almost entirely with impenetrably thick woods, with campsites scattered widely throughout. Sutton Hoo was about as deeply into the grounds as you could get, close to the battlefield. We worked with tpau, learnedax and outlander to get a corner set up for us, claimed some space for Orlando and Gwen (who were coming on Saturday), and went offsite for our traditional Friday evening date.
Saturday afternoon was largely spent walking around the campsite -- my feet hurt a bit, but I told myself that it was good practice for Pennsic. We wandered up to the merchants and bought some garters from Luc. I actually kind of like the look of the period pants I'm wearing now, but the knee socks keep falling down. The rest of the day was a succession of experiments in trying to keep the garters themselves from slipping down, of course.
Royal court was a bit of a comedy of errors. As we watched the clouds slowly growing thicker, the rumors of court getting moved from its original site (the camp's amphitheatre) also grew. There was a persistent rumor during the day that it would be moved to the fencing field (for no apparent reason), but in fact they decided at the last minute to move it up to the battlefield, since Royal Champions was running late and they wanted to get underway. So we all trouped up to the battlefield, chairs in hand, and set up -- just in time to get yet another announcement that we were about to get clobbered by a storm, so court was being moved again, to the feast hall. At the other end of the encampment, of course.
(In the meantime, the performance of the Carolingian Buffens Team got yanked from court. I wasn't actually surprised -- having a full performance during court had struck me as a little odd from the beginning -- but I was cross that they hadn't made the decision earlier, so the Buffeneers could find some other opportunity to perform. After spending a couple of months rehearsing, not getting any performance at all was kinda rude.)
Court: Anyway, the feast hall turned out to be minuscule. They set up perhaps 80 or 90 chairs, and maybe another 40-50 people squeezed in around the cracks. Orlando and Gwen wound up sitting behind a Royal banner that someone dumped in front of where they were sitting on the floor. Carolingia collectively took the first four rows of seats, partly because we have a lot of court junkies and partly because of the awards.
The awards were fairly normal, with lots of AoAs (mostly folks in Smoking Rocks) and a few mid-level awards (including a well-deserved Manche for Giselle). The peerages came at the end. Manfred von Halstern was the first Pelican, because they did a pure gotcha for him -- as far as I can tell, he had no idea it was coming until the Order was called in. Then came the Carolingians. Catrin was second; she had been told about a week ago, so she had a little time to prepare. Her son Greg escorted her in (Nicolette having made a really fabulous heraldic tabard for him). msmemory acted as her Pelican sponsor, and did quite nicely: a moving and strong recommendation.
Anyway, I was the last of the Pelicans. I've known it was coming for months (the consequence of sharing an email account with the keeper of the polling lists and the Royalty being a smidgeon careless about where things get addressed to), and had insisted upon getting a writ so I didn't have to play the "oh, I'm so *very* surprised" game. Still, there's nothing quite like getting called in.
The Rose sponsor was Countess Elspeth. She's an old friend (I was best man at her wedding), so she seemed like a good choice. The Laurel sponsor was Countess Mara, to whom I was not-exactly apprenticed way back when; she talked about what how I would have been considered if I was actually living in period. (An interesting approach, which she also used as Rose sponsor for Catrin.) The official Chivalry sponsor was Master Kobayashi, another old friend -- I'm a regular at his monthly poker game, which he obliquely alluded to.
The one surprise was that, after Kobi, Sir Kenric insisted upon getting up and speaking. He's one of my esquire-brothers, the only one to become a Knight. (The generality of the Silverwing style shows most in the fact that Steffan's esquires have so far turned out one Knight, two Laurels and four Pelicans.) He had become an esquire of Steve's after I got my Laurel, and said that he had always considered me one of his models of chivalry. That I hadn't seen coming, and it managed to get me pretty teary-eyed.
The Pelican sponsor was of course Steffan. Unfortunately, he couldn't make it to the ceremony (being a pharmacist by trade, his schedule is pretty strange, and his luck in being able to be at his esquire's elevations has been pretty bad). He sent word, though, and had it read by Baroness Avelina (another esquire-sister, and the current Brigantia Principal Herald of the East). It was classic Steffan -- formal, correct and very detailed. I know him well enough to know roughly what he'd say, but it was still very touching: I was hearing his voice instead of Avelina's, and it felt very much like a graduation ceremony. I may have gotten my Peerage 10+ years ago, but it took this ceremony to realize that the relationship's always felt a little incomplete to me.
Steffan also sent along his medallion. It's a plain SCA-standard token, but it's one that he's been wearing for a bunch of years (since he gave his previous one to msmemory, IIRC), and carries a lot of weight. I don't usually do the medallion thing, but I think I'll wear this until I find an appropriate person to pass it on to. The cloak was made by Gwen, and is a lovely red velvet shoulder cape with pelicans couched on. There's something terribly appropriate about it -- for my Laurel, Fiametta (my first apprentice) made the garb (including the cape) that I got the award in. The symmetry felt very right.
Party: During court, the developing drizzle turned into all-out rain, so I didn't feel as bad about the fact that they had moved us to the hall. (If nothing else, it would have been tragic if the lovely scroll from Sara the Lymner had been damaged by the wet.) msmemory and I were getting kind of nervous about the party -- having brought six tons of food, we really didn't want to have things fizzle. Fortunately, Colin and Adelaide had just bought a new, utterly gigantic pavilion and set it up at the front of Sutton Hoo; they volunteered to let us use their living room for the party. So we grabbed Eliz' easy-up tarp that we had set up near ourselves, carried it down to the pavilion, and set it up as the "kitchen" for the party.
Lots of folks came by (and a lot of them helped up set the party up). There was much eating, drinking and schmoozing. The cranberry mead was a great hit, as Meady Pop usually is. A bunch of folks defied the weather and got a roaring fire going in the firepit; when the rain was mild, I wandered over and hung out with them. 'Twas a fine time; we still only managed to eat about half the food, but not for lack of trying.
Wetness: During the night, the on-and-off rain turned into Mondo Serious Rain. We layered up heavily against the cold and wet, and set to breaking camp. That took a couple of hours; by the end, I (and pretty much everyone else) was soaked clear through. Oddly, though, it wasn't a bad time. It seems that being stuck out in the rain tends to bring out my inner eight-year-old. I had thought my inner eight-year-old had long since gone through inner puberty and left for college, but apparently there's still a bit of him deep down.
The biggest problem, really, was that svava and Roland (who's presumably around here somewhere) were sitting there, happily cooking Smoked Meat Products while the rest of us were packing. By the time we were packed, msmemory and I were agreed that the very highest possible priority was to find a Denny's or a Friendly's or somewhere that we could get our USRDA of grease. So we hit the road, and found a lovely little "breakfast restaurant", which provided just what we were looking for: eggs, pancakes, bacon and dry bathrooms to change our clothes. (One of those Pennsic truisms is that you should always leave a dry set of clothes in the car. It's only useful once every five years, but oh man -- when you need it, you need it.)
Books: Finally, since we were on the Cape anyway, we went and did the thing that all right-thinking people do there: we went book shopping. We went a ways further down the Cape to a nice little used bookstore with a decently good history collection -- not as good as Mac and Moore, but different in its focus. And then we came inwards to Isaiah Thomas books, possibly the most disorganized-but-fun used bookstore I know.
I picked up: The Paston Letters (a classic primary source, which I don't think I have); Agrippa's Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy (fun and strange, and I'm always a sucker for primary sources); Jost Amman's Standebuch (an illustrated book of trades from the 16th century); a neat edition of the Bhagavad Gita (with transcription, transliteration, translation notes, translation, and interpretation of each verse, which just appeals to the Laurel in me); Chambers' Notes on the History of the Revels Office Under the Tudors (a slim book of obscure cool details); a second copy of Motel of the Mysteries to give to Gwen (it being perhaps the best book I know on the subject of historical reconstruction); and the one I've been wanting for too many years: a complete copy of Burton's Arabian Nights (just because). Spent way too much, but I can't feel too guilty about spending money on books.
And thence home, where we unloaded the critical stuff, ate cheap Chinese food, and typed this up whilst the thunderstorm degaussed (gaussed?) the television set. Anyone know how to fix that? The surreal colors are trippy, but will get tired quickly...