Reflections on Five Years.

    Five years ago this weekend (April 27, 2002) to be exact, my life changed in a rather amazing way. Yep, that was the weekend I attended my first SCA event in the Barony of Grey Niche. My first SCA event ever, in fact. There are very few times in my life that I can remember with such precision the day my life changed. Of those few instances I can’t think of any other ones that were such pleasant changes.
I remember that day perfectly. A warm spring day in Memphis. Sunny in the morning but by late afternoon it had become overcast, and it rained for a few minutes. I’ve since come to understand that it is fairly common to have rain at Grey Niche events. I attended the event with someone who is quite frankly not worth thinking about now, and we didn’t know anyone in the group. However, everyone we met was gracious and welcoming. We arrived on site around 10:00 AM and were trolled in by Caitriona, Turlaugh, and Lucca. I didn’t know their names at the time, and had absolutely no idea how important those three people would become to me in the next five years.
That morning she attended a class on coif making taught by Doc and Vicky, and while that was going on I watched some of the fighting. Later that afternoon I watched a very pretty lady fly a rather unique kite, and quite literally before I really knew how much time had passed it was time for court. To this day I can remember the looks of joy on the faces of various people as they received their awards. I still love court, I love seeing that joy. It was at court that we met the first two people who’s names I knew in the SCA, Lady Blue and Brendan (of course I still think of him as Neal cause that’s how he introduced himself first.) They sat in front of us in court and Blue heard me ask about one of the banners. She turned around and explained the heraldry. After court they invited us to join them at feast, and later took us to a party at the Shadow Legion camp.
As we drove away from the site that night, I knew deep in my soul that whatever happened between SWMNBN (She Who Must Not Be Named. Yeah, I know it’s juvenile, but believe me, it’s necessary), I was going to be part of this organization forever. Without really knowing it, or being able to put into words at the time, I had found a place, an organization, that felt like home. I had found something I truly wanted to be a part of. I’d not yet heard the phrase, but I had found the Dream. The following Tuesday we went to the first business meeting. Even that was not enough to shake my desire to be part of this group. Seven months later She was gone, and that was probably the second best thing that happened to me that year. She was gone, but I stayed with the Society.
So, what has changed in the last five years? Well, for one thing I’m not nearly as ignorant about the Society, or the way it works as I was then. I’ve learned a lot, and most of it has been a pleasant learning experience. I’ve also discovered that I have no great desire to engage in any time of combat other than verbal combat (and I’m always ready to do that, just for the fun and intellectual stimulation of a good debate). I’ve also discovered that I’ve no talent or drive to develop any talent in the A&S fields. I admire the work the artisans do, and I admire the skill and dedication of the fighters, I just have no desire to join in. I do, however, like to make it possible for the fighters or artisans to have events where they can participate in whatever activities they want to participate in.
I have discovered I’m a service junkie. I LIKE to go to events and work. Whether it’s one of my own groups events, or another group’s event. I like feeling that I’m part of something larger than myself. I particularly like working troll, for that job allows you to meet everyone. But my real joy, the thing I like more than anything else is to autocrat events. I love planning them; going from an idea to a plan, to the schedule, and finally to the weekend of the event and seeing it all come together. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; there’s no feeling in the world that can match the feeling an autocrat gets when someone comes up to them as they are leaving site on Sunday and thanks them for a good time.
I’ve discovered that like any group , or organization, there are a fair number of people in the SCA that are gossip mongers, or drama seekers, or just plain non-pleasant folks in the SCA. However, if dealing with the unpleasant folks is the price I have to pay to spend time with the multitudes of really good SCA folk, then it is a price I’m more than willing to pay. I’ll pay it gladly.
What else has changed? Well, my social schedule is much more crowded now than it was five years ago. At the time most of my friends, all of my family, lived out of town. I chose many years ago to not make a habit of associating socially with people that I work with, so most of the time I’d only get to see my friends every few months when I’d take a road trip, or they would come into town. Now? Now I see good friends a minimum of three times a week. That may be the most important change.

Ok, it’s late, and I’m tired, so I’m going to end this here.

C

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Coronation Wrap Up Continued

Shortly after their last piece of cort business, their Majesties died. King Padruig had been attacked three times by various assassins during court, and each time the knights of Gleann Abhann protected him and stopped the attackers. When he realized the knights had done their job Padruig had a heart attack. Queen Linnet died of heartbreak. The reign of the third King and Queen of Gleann Abhann was over.

The step up court of Havordh and Mary Grace was memorable mostly because of Sir Luther’s Knighting ceremony. The words spoken by the members of the various peerages were inspirational, the  presentation of the sword, spurs, and belt were all inspirational, but when the Queen asked, “who has his chain?” and his brother stepped forward and said , “The knight’s chain is a heavy burden, it requires a strong man” I new something truly special was about to happen. Sir Uther then pulled out a heavy gold chain and holding it before Luther said, “this was Sir Lee’s”….I don’t think there was a dry eye in the hall.

After the morning courts the day went quickly. We opened troll again for a couple of hours. I helped getting the  Gleann Abhann Royal Pavilion set up on the fighting field. Helped Linnet decorate the hall for the ball. Something interesting had happened to Linnet; since stepping down as queen she seemed to have more energy than a shrew on speed. She was zipping around everywhere.  I think the term is “happy relief”. Spent most of the afternoon in or around the halls talking with or plotting with people. Quite literally before I knew it the time had come to set up for feast and go to the afternoon court. During afternoon court Viscountess Marion found out she was going to sit vigil in the near future to be elevated to the Laurel and Sarah found out she was going to be doing the same thing for elevation to the Pelican. The reaction of both ladies was memorable. Sarah in particular was gone. Her body kept moving but Sarah was someplace else for several minutes. I woulnd’t have missed that for anything.

After court we had an excellent feast prepared by Mistress Vashti and crew. The lamb stew was particularly  good, but the beef and barley remove was my favorite. During feast several subtleties were presented; the list tree was amazing but the real show stopper was the ram that Lisa had made. Truly a work of art.

After feast I simply hung out and talked to people. Talking to people is what I do best, and what I enjoy most.  Very late that night before finally going to bed I got to spend some time talking with both Jane and Linnet. That was a lot of fun. Gave me some things to think about.

Eventually I went to bed sometime between 1:30 and 2:00 AM. Slept for seven straight hours.  Sunday was clean up and pack out. The process went surprsingly quickly and we were leaving site right at 2:00 pM.   Not bad at all.  As we drove out of the gate I said, “I’m tired, my feet hurt, and  (since I had been sweating heavily as we cleaned up, it’s a fat guy thing) I stink”. Before I could say another word, Turlough said, “yeah, another great weekend, another great event in bag.”

It was a great weekend.

Cormac

What a weekend.

Hmm…something must be seriously wrong. I’ve not posted anything in 12 days and no one has given me any grief over it. Very, very strange.

I could give a rather boring recitation of my activities over the last twelve days, but it would bore you, my beloved readers, and more importantly, it would bore me. Instead, I’m going to tell you about my weekend. The Gleann Abhann Spring Coronation ROCKED!!!!

Before I get to the actual event I want to spend a little time talking about the job of reservation steward for SCA events. In the last few years I’ve had the great honor of being the autocrat for four events, co-autocrat for one, and I’m currently planning on autocratting Candlemas ’08, and if we get the bid co-autocratting Beltaine ’08 with my peer, Duchess Linnet. At all of the events I’ve autocratted I’ve been blessed with a staff that quite literally worked various pieces of their anatomies off. Their hard work made it easy for me as an autocrat. Until this event, Spring Coronation, I had never served as the reservation steward, or resocrat if you prefer. My gods (all  of them) I had no idea how hard a job that is. I’m seriously considering sending a dozen roses to all the people that have served as reservation stewards for me. It was unbelievable, and since it was my first time to do the job, I screwed some things up. Nothing to serious, and the problems were rather easily fixed. I’ll know more, and do a better job at Orc Wars this fall. I’ve already committed to the autocrat of that event to handle reservations for her, and after that I will never volunteer to do that particular job again. I’d rather wash porta potties with a tooth brush. Just not my toothbrush, you understand. I urge all of you that read this that have been an autocrat at an SCA event to go find the people that handled your reservations and thank them. I know I’ll be doing so.

So, moving on to discussing the event…..

We hit the road south at 9:00 AM, after picking up several coolers full of feast materials from Mistress Vashti, and headed to the site, which is between Jackson and Vicksburg MS. No problems on the drive down, but as we prepared to turn left onto Berrry road, a turn specified in the directions, a rather large sign said “Bridge Washed Out”. This was enough to make various orrifices pucker in all three vehicles of our little caravan. Fortunately a quick call to the camp provided alternate directions, and we got to site without any more problems.

For those that have not yet seen the HS Jacobs Camp I can only describe it as the most perfect SCA site I’ve ever seen.  The dorm style cabins are comfortable, clean, relatively new, and air conditioned. The semi private rooms and private rooms are truly great, and of course they all were sold out very, very quickly. However, what makes the site truly nice from an SCA point of view is the feast hall. The hall is divided into to large rooms separated by a covered breezeway. Though the two events that have already been held there limited their feasts to 150 people the dining hall could easily sit 300. The kitchen is incredible; the various feastocrats I’ve talked to all loved  the kitchen. The hall where court is held is just across the breezeway and could sit a couple of hundred easily. It is so nice to have the two rooms because it means you don’ t have to tear down court to set up for feast. You don’t have to tear down the tables from feast to set up for the ball, etc. etc. You set up your feast gear, meander over to the court hall, sit court, then meander back across the breezeway for feast. Of course, it is necessary to tear down the chairs from court in order to have the ball, but that takes a grand total of maybe ten minutes.

Once we got on site I set out to lable the private and semi private rooms with the names of the people that would be staying in them. I also posted the lists of people that had reserved space in the dorm style cabins, but I kind of wonder why I bothered. There was a lot of switching going on so that folks could bunk with who they wanted to. I think next time I’ll just post a list of the dorm cabins with blank spaces equal to the number of beds in each cabin, and ask people to sign in where they will be staying when they troll in.

People started arriving around 4:00 Pm, and kept arriving in a rather steady stream until we closed troll for the evening at 1:00. I spent the rest of the night in the feast hall in case anyone showed up and needed to know where they were bunking. Only one person did, but I got to spend several hours talking with good friends.  Around 4:00 Am I finally got to go see Luther in his vigil tent and spent a few minutes talking with him.

Saturday was a very, very busy day. I spent a couple of hours back at troll until we closed it down while the step down court of Padruig and Linnet took place. That was…… That was an emotional court. Several awards were given, and seeing the look of joy on people’s faces as they receive an award they didn’t know was coming is always great, even if I don’t know the people receiving the award. When I do know them, it’s just so much more emotional. The shock on Jakob’s face as he recieved his AOA, and the greater shock as he was informed the circlet had been Turlough’s original AOA circlet is a memory I’ll never forget The look of surprise when Lady Caitriona became The Honorable Lady Caitriona was  priceless. The stunned look when Turlough saw that Onyx Chalice the Queen was holding was beyond priceless. However, the most emotional part of the morning came at the end of Padruig and Linnet’s court.
They had called House Beaumont before the thrones to receive the scroll for the Argent Keystone award that House Beaumont had received at Gulf Wars. That particular award is given to a group or household that has done great work for the Kingdom, and house Beaumont, who just happens to be led by a lady I consider  to be a very great friend ( and my emergency backup peer), and just happens to be made up of a lot of folks that I also consider to be very good friends, was the first House to receive that particular award. I was proud of them, of my friends, as they received the scroll that THL Caitriona had painted for them. Then I heard the Queen ask the members of House Beaumont to stand back, and heard her ask the herald to call forth the House of Three Dragons.  I don’t really remember walking up to the royal presence, but our founders, THL Luca, THL Caitriona, and THL Turlough were kneeling in front of the king and queen, and all of the rest of us in rough semi circle behind the founders. The several members of House Beaumont that also happen to be members of House Three  Dragons were still there, and the Three Dragons became the second group or House to receive the Argent Keystone.
In the last five years, since I joined the SCA I’ve have been humbled by every award I’ve ever received. I’ve been proud of every award my friends have received, but I have to say that I have never been more proud, nor more humbled than I was that morning. I was proud of my House, I was proud of my friends. …..Words fail me. I cannot adequately describe what I felt. The scroll that Vicountess Miriel had done was  simply stunning. I can’t imagine how long and hard she had to work on that.

Ok, it’s late, and even though it’s been three days, I’m getting emotional again just thinking about it. I’ll finish posting about the event tomorrow.

C

Charlie made me do it.

Charlie made me do it…..
And to be perfectly honest, I’m to lazy tonight to actually write about my week since the last post.

So, here goes……

If you read this, if your eyes are passing over this right now, even if we don’t speak often, please post a comment with a memory of you and me. It can be anything you want — good or bad. When you’re finished, post this little paragraph on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) about what people remember about you.

C

Do I Look Like Dear Abby?

It is Sunday evening again. Specifically it is now 7:21 PM on Sunday evening, and I find that both pleasing and surprising. Surprising in that it is already almost 7:30 PM on Sunday; the weekend has gone so quickly. Pleasing in that despite the fact it has gone by so quickly I’ve had a really, really good weekend. There was a bit of an uncomfortable issue but it was a small one, and it didn’t last long.
So, what made it so great? Several things actually. For the first time since well before Gulf Wars and for the last time until at least the end of May there was absolutely nothing I had to do this weekend. The weekend was all mine. That’s a very odd occurrence. I made the most of the time by staying up very late playing Warcraft on Friday night. I didn’t get home from work until about 9:30 Friday evening and I logged into the game at about 10:00 PM. I played until 3:30 in the morning before logging off and going to bed.
Normally if I’d stayed up that late I would sleep very late. Like till noon. However I was wide awake by 8:30 in the morning. Not only was I awake, I was full of energy. The kind of get out of bed and do something kind of energy that I don’t have often in the morning. MY time was wasting.
So, I got up and spent a couple of hours reading while the laundry was running. I’ve got a new Jonathon Kellerman novel that kept me entertained for a couple of hours. Not great literature by any means, but entertaining. I did about four loads of laundry so I’ll have clean clothes to wear to work tomorrow.
After the laundry was mostly done, I took a shower and got dressed before running some errands. First was quick trip to the post office to check the Baronial mailbox. Picked up about ten more reservations for Spring Coronation (feast space sold out, folks. There is still dorm style cabin space). After the post office it was time to go by Sam’s club where I purchased two hundred 6×9 envelopes that I’ll use for making the reservation packets. I plan each packet having the site token, event schedule, a receipt, and a trash bag. Turlough and I stopped for lunch at a convenient chinese restaurant.
I got home and logged the newest reservations and made a very preliminary stab at assigning cabin spaces and making room assigments. Whild doing so I the somewhat pleasant thought that I could make a fortune for my Gulf Wars Shopping fund by being willing to take bribes to not put some people in cabins or next to certain other people. I could make a fortune, I think.
I spent some time talking to people on line, and and generally goofing off. Watched Pirates of the Caribbean 2, and The Departed on DVD and generally had a good evening.
Today has been more of the same. I did sleep late this morning, just because I could. I guess I crawled out of bed at about 10:30 am. I was feeling energetic, so I started doing some housecleaning. I must admit I didn’t get very far, but I did make the effort. You see, like most SCA folks, I’m a pack-rat. I am also a bachelor, as is my landlord/roommate. Housework is ever high on our agenda, and the house is full of stuff. I mean, FULL of various types of stuff. We are not ….organic slobs, you understand. There’s nothing funky growing, etc, but the house is so messy I’m not really comfortable inviting people to the house. Normally this doesn’t bother me, but lately I’ve decided to try and reassert some control over the house. Today, feeling full of energy, I decided to tackle my bathroom. I can now say that after an hour of battle, a battle I almost lost, the bathroom is now cleaner than it has been any day since I moved into this house almost four and half years ago. Tomorrow, I plan on tackling one corner of my room. I figure if I concentrate on one small area at a time I should have the whole house done by Mid 2010.
The only real issue I had this weekend was some discomfort with a couple of phone calls I received. One yesterday and one today. Normally I like it when people ask me for advice. Normally it makes me feel good. However, in these two circumstances , both of which involve personal relationships (as in not SCA relationships, affairs of the heart type relationships) I was distinctly uncomfortable. On one hand I was glad that the people involved trusted me enough to tell me their problems, or thought I might have some good advice to give. On the other, and much bigger hand, I was distinctly uncomfortable hearing some of these details. For one thing I was overcome in both cases to tell the people I was talking to “Quit acting like you are in the seventh grade”. That would have been wrong, of course, because the people I was talking with were genuinely upset, real emotions they were dealing with. On the other hand, anyone who knows my particular history in dealing with affairs of the heart know I am probably the least qualified person in the world to offer advice on that particular subject. So, I basically just sat and listened. Gave what very little advice I could, and generally was glad when the conversations were over.

C

Serving Time

I feel like I’m serving time, just waiting for the weekend.  My work week has not been bad by any means. Nor has it been particularly good, it’s just…kind of there. I’m ready for it to be over, but then I was ready for it to be over about 8:00 AM Monday morning.
So far the highlight of the week has been the SCA Business meeting last night. Those that read this that are familiar with SCA business meetings will recognize how surprsing that statement truly is. Usualy business meetings are about as much fun as attempting to herd particularly psychotic cats (of course I’m of the belief all cats are psychotic, but I digress). A lot got accomplished last night. Turlough caused several dozen jaws to drop by announcing that after eight years as Grey Niche’s Sheriff he was stepping down. That’s right, the man famouns for working troll from open to close is stepping down. The gods know he has earned the right, and he will probably still work a shift or two at troll, but he won’t be working ALL troll shifts any more.
I submitted my bid for Candlemas ’08. I’ve never done a class intensive event before, so I’m looking forward to it. Marisa is going to be the autocrat, and Miriel has agreed to be the classocrat. The theme, assuming I get the event, will be “A Day In The Life Of The Middle Ages”, and in addition to the martial track of classes, I’d like most of the classes to be about the day to day arts and sciences of the period. The things that made daily life possible, not necessarily about the merely decorative arts. I’m probably not explaining that well, but I hope you get the idea. So, any one interested in teaching, please feel free to contact either myself, or the classocrat.
The other event I wrote about  in my last post is one that Her Majesty Linnet will be bidding on after she steps down in a few weeks. We made a lot of headway in filling potential staff jobs at that event as well. I hope she gets that bid, it sounds like a fun event. “The Tournament of the Torc”, a weekend of a high tournament, with all the associated pagenty. Classes and A&S competitions in line with the theme.
What else? I guess the other major discussion of the meeting was about setting up a committee to begin working on doing whatever needs to be done to get permanent land status for the Barony at Gulf Wars, and for raising the funds necessary to to build whatever structures need to be built in order to make that happen. That is a committee I hope to serve on.
I guess that’s it for today. Probably as boring as listening to GWB try to speak a clear sentance, but it’s all have today.

C

Spring Time Sunday Morning

Ok, this was supposed to have been posted yesterday, but I apprelty hit “save” instead of  “publish”.

I just realized that since I started blogging again on a semi regular basis that I am no longer starting my posts with a quote from a song. I may have to get back to doing that.

Well, it’s Sunday morning. Technically, it is afternoon (12:19 PM) but since I’ve only been awake a couple of hours it is still “morning” as far as I’m concerned. My last post was Wednesday, I think, and the rest of the week was pretty good. There is not really much to write about Thursday and Friday, so we’ll skip to Saturday.

Saturday was the day of the Barony’s annual Theign and Acanthus event. This is a one day, “unofficial” event. Unofficial in the sense that it doesn’t get listed on the kingdom calendar, there is no admission cost, and the meal is a pot luck affair. There is an Arts & Sciences competition and the Theign Tournament. The winnner of the Theign tournament is not necessarily the person chosen to be Theign, that honor is determined by the Baron and by the gallery of ladies watching the tournament. They choose the fighter that best displays the characteristics of honor, respect, prowress, chivalrous behavior, etc. etc. By the rules of the tournament a member of the chivalry cannot be chosen as Theign. The Acanthus competition requires only minimal doccumentation, and the Acanthus, like the Theign, cannot be won by a Laurel (which is good because none of the Grey Niche laurels bothered to show up yesterday, and of the entries, only one was by a belted apprentice). The competitions are designed to encourage people, to inspire them.

This year Theign and Acanthus was held at a new site, a Millington city park very close to the Navy Base. The site was quite pleasant: nice pavillion, clean restrooms, plenty of parking, and we had the park to ourselves. I didn’t see anyone else in the park all day. There were about 65 people that attended. Eight fighters took part in the tournament and at the end of it the position of Theign was taken by Lord Caedmon of Jorvik (I think I spelled that correctly). There were six or seven A&S entries in the Acanthus competition. I particularly liked the point Charlie was trying to make with her entry. No laurels bothered to show up so the competition was judged by Her Majesty Linnet along with Mistress Jane Beaumont and Dame Brenna. Marisa was chosen to be Acanthus due to her very tasty recreation of a period recipe for roasted chicken.

The day was pleasant, cool, but not cold. The rain held off until after the tournament, and when it did fall, we were all able to stay dry in the pavillion. There was a LOT of food, and soon to be Sir Luther manned the grill all morning. Since I’m not a fighter, nor one that enters A&S competitions, I spent the day doing what I enjoy most: talking with friends. Ancyra reminded me to send her my SCA resume for the deputy Chamberlain job I’m interested in. Charlie and I spent a lot of time talking and making plans for upcoming events. THanks to Gresch, Charlie is apparently making plans to use me for an archery target. I think I managed to talk her out of that. I hope so, she’s a pretty good thought. I also talked with several other people about various projects I plan to be working on the coming months. I’m going to be busy, and I like it that way.

After the day in the park a bunch of us gathered at Gresch and Ree’s house for the rest of the day and evening. Turlaugh, Ulfrun and her son Hakon, Jakob, Brenna, Padruig and Linnet, Diego and Lindsay were all there. Padruig brought some truly delicious barbeque, and as usual at their home there was enough food to feed a small army. We talked and laughed until late in the evening. Very late in the evening. I managed to finish the belt I was working on for my soon to be protege sister, and it met the approval of my peer, so that is good. Linnet and I also discussed an event idea we want to do. She wants to autocrat Beltaine 2008 afer she steps down as queen, and has an idea for a really cool event. It will take a lot of preparation, and I’m going to be her co-autocrat (well I will be assuming she gets the bid). We need to find a feastocrat, and a couple of other staff people, but I’m confident we can do that without to much trouble. I’ll post more about that later, as the project develops.

All in all, it was a truly wonderful day. Ulfrun and William of Glenn Lyon did a great job running the event. I was particularly impressed since it was the first time running an event for both of them. I shouldn’t have been because they have both demonstrated over and over that they work their butts off at events. I was with my friends, both at the event and afterward, and I came home very, very tired, but also feeling recharged. Revitalized. Happy, very, very happy. I hope all that read this had as good a day as I did.

Cormac