Break from Pennsic for a moment

Yesterday i called Borders to see if a special order finally came in. I ordered it about a month ago and as i was at Pennsic when it should have come in, decided to check on its status. A previous order got cancelled somehow, but not by me, so now i double check.
But it had arrived - "Prehistoric Music of Ireland" by Simon O'Dwyer.
Basically an overview of the Archaeological finds of musical instruments found in Ireland from the Stone Age to Early Medieval Period.
Already it has added details that i was unaware of regarding the construction and playing of the Bronze Age cast Trumpets and the Iron Age War Trumpets. One pipe dream is to start contruction of a sheet bronze War Horn this Winter ( still need to build work tables and such for the basement )
It may be awhile till the next post. I am about to break a long standing personal rule and install a computer in my home. I need to have a friend look at what i have and see if it is even adequate for what i have in mind. That and buying whatever equipment i may need and shopping aroud for an internet provider may take some time. Hope to be up and running by October at the latest.

Pennsic XXXVI - continued

The only other negatives aside from weather and 1950's monster movie insects were associated with running into a former girlfriend.
I did the courteous thing and invited her to dinner at the encampment. It was the night that i was responsible for cooking the main meal, and as there was alot for the number of people in camp this wasn't a problem.
The meal was Puerco Pibil ( Yucatan slow-roasted Pork ) I used the recipe that Robert Rodriguez included in the "10 minute cooking school" short included in the extras on the "Once Upon A Time in Mexico" DVD collection.
Very spicy, even without the Habanero Peppers ( didn't have these, couldn't find them at the local food market, so i used Bird's Eye Thai Peppers. Only slightly less hot ). On a bed of Basmati Rice. Drinks were a variety of Beer and Hard Cider.
So as the stuff is slow cooking, i go to deliver the official invite myself. So i deck myself in PreChristian Celtic Finery ( Lots of throwing sharp and pointies, a small shield, braccae, bog shoes and various bits of jewellery, specifically a really nice silver torc. )
Everything went well until she introduced me to the group she was with.
I was not-so-subtly insulted. I did not rise to the bait and ignored the ignoramus. When i called her on it later, she allowed as to how it was very deliberate.
Returned to camp to continue waiting. The food itself was good when we took it off the fire, but probably could have stood another 30 min./hour.
She showed up and after intros all around, very noticably ignored me unless directly cornered into conversation. Then she took a different tack, and tried to recruit me into entering a submission to the art gallery that she is associated with. When i didn't bite, things got chilly.
I could be wrong, and likely am on some of the fine details, but her world and the people in it are defined by what use they are to her.
The good thing of this is that i need never extend myself to her past saying "Hello, nice to see you" again if i choose not to. So the last hook is dislodged, rusting, to the streambed. Yaaa. And there was much ( quiet ) rejoicing.
Next: Atlatls and Shopping

Pennsic XXXVI - continued

Now for several of the less than pleasant bits.
Aside from a very brief period on Wednesday the 8th. and Friday/Saturday the 10th./11th.( which were gorgeous ), it was wetter than SouthEast Asia.
The most unpleasant aspect was the constant dampness; humidity well over 100%. Nothing was or remained dry. So, Wednesday all of us in the encampment "Vestgard & the Green Witch Village" dragged near everything out of our tents to air dry once we saw that the Sun was not just a myth. We were camped down in the area known as "The Swamp", one of the low spots in this huge campground. But it is in the trees, and often there is a breeze. It is usually at least 10 degrees F. cooler here than anywhere else. The high ground North of the lake, especially the area called "The Serengetti", is ferociously hot: It is very nearlly impossible to remain in a tent up there after about 9:00 AM. for the heat of the sun which drives temperatures up to well above 100 degrees F.
It cleared about Noon on Wednesday. But about 3:00 PM we started hearing the rumbling of distant thunder. We thought we had time.
Then there was what at first was a low grade roar that we heard. It was getting closer. Pretty much at the same instant, all of us realised that what we were hearing was the rapidly approaching rain front of Monsoon strength.
All of us scrambled, throwing everything back into our tents, dry or not.
Some of the area normally given to our camps use was taken by a neighboring group because the administration of the campground was doing leveling and grading of the area they use. Some of their tents were in the drainage ditch that runs through block W20. under normal cicumstances even during rain, there is no standing water here. But is is clear looking at it that is is basically an overgrown, dried stream bed.
Inside of 10 minutes, three, maybe four tents were about three feet under water. I grabbed a shovel and headed across the road ( culvert connects the low spots ) to the out flow to the creek, and with another persons help ( whose camp on that side of the road was also under water ) excavated the ditch to the lowest level of the stream bed. After about 10 more minutes the water level was down to about 6 inches.
In many spots gravelly mud was almost mid-shin depth.
A note on this for the future: Basically a week of solid rain and/or damp conditions does not make for happy feet. After awhile, even if wearing sandals, you'll develope blisters. Shortly after that, your feet will not ache so much as the skin stings constantly, making walking *very* painful. And you'll be doing alot of walking: this campground is huge.
I am usually less squeamish about things with more than four legs than most people. But this taxed my tolerance. Wasps almost 4" long - i ain't exagerating. Cicada Killers. Know how i know? They were *carrying* ( and dwarfed ) Cicadas. Beetles of incredible variety, Earwigs of a size hard to credit, Wolf Spiders literally the size of Tarantulas.
Thanks to a diet high in Garlic ( In Italian Food, to me, no-such thing as too much ) and Spices, i am proof agaist most Ticks and Mosquitos. So the five bites i have are obviously from Skeeters that like spicy food. This did not prevent every multi-legged thing from insisting on sharing my tent. Sorry, when a Wolf Spider dances on your face at 2:00 AM, you really need to die.

Pennsic XXXVI

I got back from Pennsic ten days ago - Saturday, August 11. It has been twenty years since the first, and only time prior to this that i was there - Pennsic XVII in Summer of 1987.
I may back and fill-in information of my first Pennsic. That experience, even though i was there less than twenty-four hours, helped to cement my opinion of the SCA.
some of my prejudices against the SCA are still firmly in place, if not stronger than before. Others, have disappeared or at least been modified by the new experience.
Overall, this time around was about 90% positive. Most emcampmentrs that i visited were very welcoming: People were polite and considerate. Usually the first words out of someone's mouth, after initial introductions, was along the lines of "Are you hungry; do you want some thing to eat? Something to drink?" At the slightest sign of assent, a beer would be slapped into your hand ( Guinness, no less; at least in the Celtic Camps ) and you would be piled with food to tax the healthiest appetite. And very good fare it was -
Spareribs, steak, beef, chicken ( can you tell yet that i'm not a vegetarian? ) Shrimp, potatoes, corn on the cobb, Stir fry veggies and more varied desserts than can readily be numbered.
More later.............

Two points of interest on I68 in Maryland - continued

The wildly convoluted lines of the strata were caused by the pressures of the push of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge against the North American Plate. But to my eye the lean of the strata toward the East would indicated a push from the West, or middle of the North American Plate. This seems to be odd as there is no Plate Boundary closer than the Pacific Coast.
The visitors center is at the base of the cut, and a protected path offers access to partway up the North side of the cut for a closer view of rock layers. I wish that i had more time to stop and see this up close. Not sure how old this section of sediment is, but there might be fossils. Oh, and a correction: it is Sideling Hill, not Seidling Hill.

The other sight worth taking in is the town of Cumberland, Maryland which I68 passes through. Or over as the case maybe. At this point, I68 is an overpass which arcs over the town. Cumberland reminds me of the town i live in and the small city just North of me, but more so. Cumberland is built on a series of steep sided hills or small mountains, less precipitous than the spires of rock seen in Chinese Landscapes but the effect is rather similar. The town also seems to spread down into the sharp sided valleys.
There is one hill in particular on the right ( North ) side of I68 that caught my attention as i passed. The area of the top of this hill looked to be somewhat small, no more than a few city blocks in extent. But it had at least four separate Churches, with as many distinctly styled steeples. I wondered what this would look like with the red-gold of the setting sun washing them. One of the prettiest towns i have ever seen.

On Route 40, in Pennsylvania there is a stupendous incline. So potentially dangerous that freight truck drivers are offered an alternate route. This drops down toward the West at a grade that seems to be over 10% and goes for about ten or more miles before leveling out sufficiently for the speed limit ( for trucks ) to be lifted from ten miles an hour. Needless to say the view is breathtaking; what can be seen that is between keeping the car on the road which snakes down the mountain in a series of tight curves and switchbacks.
Checking the map, this area is in all likelyhood the Southwestern side of Mount Davis, the highest elevation in Pennsylvania.

Two points of interest on I68 in Maryland

Aside from minor depression, i did see a few things heading out to Elionwyr that were wonderful. In an effort to save near non-existant spare cash and avoid the $8.75 toll on the Pa Turnpike ( faster yes, and scenic in its own way but you pay for Speed ), i decided to take 81 South into Maryland where i picked up I70 West to I68 West.
The first thing i noticed was that the topography is a lot more dramatic than anywhere in Pennsylvania that i've ever been; the mountains steeper ( if not actually higher in elevation ) and the valleys deeper. The entire drive presented incredible vistas going out to the limits of vision.
On I68 heading West, you'll see from miles away a sharp cut in a distant mountain, bare of any vegetation, like a tiny portion of a Southwestern canyon dropped on top of an Appalachian mountain. Eventually you'll realise that I68 goes through this gap. It takes longer to get there than would seem apparant, testimony to the size of this.
Seidling Hill is impressive enough that the highway commisssion actually built a visitor center. Why they didn't just drill a tunnel through this mountain is beyond me; it would have been easier. But the cut, to my eye at least 200 - 300 feet deep, and possibly more, laid bare the strata of the stone. Different colors, mainly tans, orangy siennas, and brick reds predominate. But not a nice stacked layering or a straight incline. Something powerful was at work here: the layers are curved and humped like the equaliser print of a dramatic piece of music.
More later

Back to work; Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho...@#4%&8'n Grrr

More rain here; suits the mood which is low key and sad. I never get to see the people i care about enough, and anymore, leaving to come home feels like exile. I meet very few individules, fewer that i resonate with. And whether this sounds arrogant or not it seems to be true if only for myself, from my perception: those that i love either never were common or we are going extinct. Regardless, they are scattered and thin on the Earth. A part of Purgatory or Hell is being separated from those you love.
Elionwyr had to work; alot. Everyday as a matter of fact and they bounced her schedule around. Fiendish, We hatessss it forever! But i did get a tour in daylight of the Castle and was duely impressed by the ammount of work that went into not only the structure ( actors corridor ) layout but the sheer detailing and layering of props. She also played a video of the first house a few miles away in a neighboring town. From what i understand, the local town government shut it down. A crying shame because the interior really was creepy and looked like a *very* elaborate set from a high end movie.
Also, i finally got introduced to BPAL imps. I've been puzzled reading some journals about these. I remember Raging Bunny, and some Piraty fragrance that seemed to have coconut in it. I may actually try some of these eventually. I usually figure frequent showers are enough for a good or at least neutral scent. I can't readily see myself wearing Old Spice or Tag; the advertisements are enough to turn me off.
In fact, i packed the car yesterday morning before Elionwyr woke up. When i left, i wanted to leave without a backward glance. We hugged and clung abit before breaking contact.
"Take care of yourself."
"You too. We'll talk soon."
And i was off. All the way back to the Hills North, i kept getting powerful waves of scent from whatever she put on. Some must have rubbed off on me. Even after i got home, and laid down for a nap ( not tired per se, just mildly depressed ) i got olfactory echos. It was some small comfort.
But now, i sit at work ( the only place of access to a computer ) getting ready to wade through electrical diagram layouts. Sigh..............

ID4 2006 Weekend

Heading out tomorrow to visit friends. A massive cookout/party thrown by someone i know through historical reenactment. Berthorga,( "Daughter of Thor" not her actual name ) is a member of the Ostvik Viking Group that i met a few years ago at the Marching Through Time event held at the Marietta House in Glenn Dale, Maryland.
So, i pack the car tonight after i get home from dinner with friends. I'll be carrying a cutting stand, empty gallon jugs and a modest supply of sharp and pointys.
And best of all, i'll be seeing elionwyr ( *dances* ), one of my favorite people! Need to bake some brownies tonight/tomorrow and mix up a dark chocolate sauce. I recall from her jounal that she had a ( thwarted ) desire for a brownie sundae a few days ago. I can do this.
bouncing with anticipation!

Celtic Fling, etc. - Part III

To pick up the story from where it was left off yesterday:
I saw Barb at Dave's stand. I already knew from a conversation earlier that week with a friend who lives in Maryland what to expect appearance wise. Seems my friend in MD. was vending at a Pagan event the previous week and ran into Barb, who has lost considerable weight and was sporting really short hair. Dominating theme of conversation: Barb's favorite subject - Barb; the font of wisdom, desired of anything with male equipment. The be-all, end-all.
She has lost weight and yes, her hair is short. 'Side from that i didn't see much else, never looked directly at her. The easiest thing would have been to walk away and come back later after she had left. Ego took over however and i walked up - i have been going to these events for a long time, alot longer than ever i met her or was dating her. To walk away would have felt like a Monty Python "RUN AWAY!, RUN AWAY!" ( though as a stand in for the Black Beast of AAARRRRGGGH, she's a ringer ) I started talking to Dave.
When i'm around people i either do not like or trust, i keep at least enough attention on them to know where they are at relative to where i'm at. Paranoid force of habit. Out of the corner of my eye, i see Barb talking to Deb in soto vocce tones. Barb keeps trying to maneuver so that her back is to me. Folks, the body language says it all even if you can't hear the actual conversation or read lips.
I mention to Dave that i'm doing a decent job of ignoring her. Shortly after this i notice a book on Gaelic Swordsmanship that i've never seen, pick it up and start to read.Anyone who knows me well enough knows that chances are sooner or later, my nose will be in a book. I can lose myself very easily by reading. At about this point i notice her move up on my left. Now, to make it clear, the following was not done maliciously: she punched me lightly on my left bicep ( i guess to get my attention ) and said some kind of general "Hi, how are you" or somesuch.
Honest to god, the only thing i can remember thinking was "Dont touch me; you don't have the right." I looked up briefly, said "Hi." and went back to reading.
I did the bare minimum requirement of civility; i acknowledged her existance. That's all that was required, and even that was generous. I did not want to invite even the possibility of a conversation. I read until i knew she had cleared off at least from me, and started talking to Dave about the book.
At which point Deb comes up and rounds on me with "Why were you so rude to your ex-girlfriend?" I was caught off guard and said something to the effect of "ex" being the operative word. "Well she meant something to you at one time." I'm not conveying the heat she put into this, more than seemed to me than was required or necessary.
"Why are you giving me shit about this?" Any follow up i would have said was curtailed by Dave hushing us both with "Not here!" Deb stalked off giving me a truely evil glare.
"What the fuck was that, Dave?" Stony silence followed by another "Not here!"
Here's the thing: David knows both Barb and myself, he also knows that we dated each other. Deb never to my recollection ever met Barb in my company, so the only way for her to know that Barb was an "ex" was if Barb told her during the five or so minutes after i walked up to the stand. Even if my memory is faulty, and she did know already, that was out of line and involvement in a situation that wasn't her business. The only justification i'll offer for my own actions is as follows: i have very cogent reasons for never wanting to speak to the woman ever again. I do not wish her dead. I wish her her life - over there, away from me where i do not have to deal with her. And as an aside we are not dealing with youngsters here. Age wise, i'm not old but i will never see thirty again and she is eleven years older than i am.
All in all, a minor unpleasantry, like a turdling dropped with a splash into my martini in place of an olive.
the rest of my visit to the Celtic Fling was good if clouded abit.

Celtic Fling, etc. - interlude

But wait, Artful; there's more. I'll deal with the encounter tomorrow.
I'll take this opportunity to address something from afew back.
The Camulod Chronicles by Jack Whyte started about ten years ago with "The Skystone" and runs to eight current volumes; the last, "The Eagle" might be released in Britain, but as of the last time i checked, no release date is listed for the USA.
Yet another retelling of the Arthurian legends, the prose is contemporary, but good. And time was taken to tell the story completly by looking at the problem of "How do you survive the End of the World?"
Sometime around 370 to 400 AD, Rome withdrew the last legions from Britain to defend Rome itself. This left Britain, a province that had become domesticated for close to four centuries, open to invasion and plunder by Angles, Jutes and Saxons from the East, across the Channel; Irish Sea Raiders ( Scotti ) and the unconquered Welsh Tribes to the West; Picts from the North. Woefully unprepared to defend themselves, society crumbled pretty quickly devolving into individule territories ruled by warlords, all surrounded by the aforementioned groups.
The Skystone starts with this period and details the development of The Colony, the place that will eventually become Camulod ( Camelot ). None of the familiar names from Arturian legend show up yet, being at least another generation in the future. the main character is Publius Varrus, a retired Legionary who takes up the vocation of Blacksmith for the nascent Colony. In large part it is also the story of finding and working a different metal than just Iron. Aside that is from a truely bizarre account of the forging of Excalibur in the second volume.( the creation of a fifteenth century Longsword in Dark Ages Britain, and the construction particulary of the hilt bears *no* relationship to how *any* swordhilt is constructed. )
The rest of the books deal mainly with Merlin and Uther, cousins of the premiere families of the Colony. Merlin's voice provides most of the narration throughout. There are scenes of startling ugliness and disturbing brutality ( i'm thinking of the early part of the second volume, "The Singing Sword" in particular. )
The latest volume, "The Lance Thrower" introduces us to reworking of Lancelot, and is the first well known character ( aside from Merlin ) that is focused on from the characters viewpoint.
Overall, amoung the best retellings/reworkings of the tales of Arthur that i have ever read. Up there with the "Dragon Lord" by David Drake, "The Firelord" by Parke Goodwin and "Arthur Rex" by Thomas Berger.