First - This was the finest Pennsic weather EVAR! Second, thank you Alexandra van den Berg! I couldn't have done it without you! Period. An incredible combined beauty and cutesiosity quotient blended with a work ethic that won't quit. Wow! IT's probably a good thing I'm not 40 years younger and single or I'd become a Mormon in a heartbeat. Well more of that as I move along with my story.
Alexandra showed up at my house the Wednesday before Pennsic and loaded the car for me. For those of you who don't know I have a bad (very bad) back, bad feet, and bad hips. So I can't lift, can't bend, and can't stay on my feet for longer than about ten minutes at a pop. We left Danbury early Thursday morning and drove straight through to Cooper's lake arriving around 4 after a stop at the Grove City outlet center to wait out the rain. My tent was in a storage locker west of Cooper's Lake so we put up Alexandra's nylon tent and called it a camp. Then off to Cranberry, PA, and a Japanese hibachi style restaurant. I won't give you the whole story here but if you want to hear it, ask some time. Suffice to say that the 5 young men who shared the table with me kept staring at Alexandra obviously wondering why this beautiful young woman was with the old dude wearing the Vietnam Veteran's baseball cap. The cook asked her if I was her Daddy and she casually said no. Then he tried pouring saki down her throat and I firmly told him that she didn't drink alcohol. He kept asking, "He not your daddy?" I had my arm on the back of her chair and at the end of the meal she leaned back and placed her head on my shoulder saying she was soooo full. I saw the guys staring at us so I gently rubbed her back and she all but purred. I couldn't resist, so I looked at em, grinned and winked. I'm sure they're still wondering. Thursday night was hot, hot, hot, but we managed to sleep somehow.
Friday saw Hedewigis Ockenfussin and Amanda Brizendine arrive and when they heard that we'd had dinner at a Japanese hibachi restaurant the night before I knew where we were eating that night. Again the cook (different one) dubbed me, "Daddy," and was calling Hedewigis, "Mommy." But the food was great!
Saturday Hugh Mannity arrived and then came Joe Grieco (Cormac) along with his wife Cheryl (Aurelia) and daughter (Francesca). Francesca came out of their tent wearing a pair of goggles looking like a Minion from Despicable Me complete with goggles and a necklace with a stylized E that looked like Gru's G.
From this point on things begin to blur. On Monday the rented tents showed up along with a mobility scooter for me that Marlin Sensinig at Tents for Rent delivered for me. I picked up the scooter on the battlefield where they were delivering our tent and got as far as Curry road when the batteries died. I assumed they simply needed a charge so, after Hugh helped me get it to a charging station we charged it enough to get back to Herald Squared (our encampment). To skip ahead in the story, it turns out one of the two batteries was dead, Marlin had two new batteries shipped to me and everything worked fine from that point. That scooter granted me an incredible amount of flexibility and mobility and allowed me to really manage all my duties and get around rather than being anchored to a 50 foot area around my tent. It also made me the fastest runner in the crowd for fetching and delivering messages when needed. Hugh dressed it up with barding and a stick horse's head along with whinny and galloping sounds. It was a hit with kids and adults. I'm hoping someone got pictures of it. I hated leaving Bucephalus at Pennsic.
Bjorn and Morgen (John Slack and Sally Dwyer) showed up early in the week but had to leave on Wednesday as John had a work commitment to teach a class via the web and needed a solid web connection. Besides, the client paid for the hotel room and it meant hot showers!
Arrrrrgh! Showers! We laid out the equipment for the showers and sometime, somehow, in the midst of unloading and setting up EK Royal, our hot water heater, the new one I bought last year, grew legs and disappeared. Fortunately Mistress Eleanor Fitzpatrick (Patricia Cross) had a unit and lent it to us. This means I'll have to buy two new units next year. *sigh* Countess Morgen and Cormac were our resident plumbers and got the unit working. It wasn't as flawless as last year as we suffered some leaks that never got quite fixed but it was workable and a treat after a long, sweaty day.
I picked up Acelia (Alisha Isaacs) at Slippery Rock's answer to a bus "station." She was the third foundation for my triumvirate of "Indentured Servants." Without these three young women the camp would have been in serious trouble. They kept it clean and tidy, did all the daily chores and worked well together. I'm hoping they all became fast friends. I came to know and love all three by working and living in close proximity with them during Pennsic. At no time did we have household fights, squabbles, or even spats. And not just the girls but the whole encampment. All worked together. We worked hard, we played hard, and laughed long, loud and often. I don't recall a Pennsic where I laughed this much. It was great having them all around me. Add Rich Wilson to this mix and you have some serious fun and occasional insanity.
Yes, we even drank some but at no time did anyone seriously over indulge. We had margarooties (made with Da Coach's Supr Sekrit™ ingredient. We had Whookah! Juice, we had JD Godfathers (each on a different night), and all had laughter as a chaser.
We all joined ICOD's meal plan and they went out of their way to take care of Acelia's food allergies. Camping with ICOD was a joy. Mistress Jovonna is a joy and, to top it off, Baron Jibril (Dale Frederick) who was the ICOD Chief of Staff, was knighted later during war week.
The scooter allowed me to do some serious shopping. Proud acquisition time: The only thing I got for myself was a new pouch with my augmented arms painted on it.
I found a lovely garb for my bride and Hedewigis helped me pick out an under-dress for it. I also found some nifty small forks/knives/spoons that so captured me that I bought one for almost my whole Herald Squared family. All except Hedewigis, I found another pilgrim badge for her collection. I love giving presents. Can't explain it, I just love doing it.
I got to see some of my girls, Angelina (Angela Pettengill), Maria (Erika Falle), Alethea (Alison Toscano), Katherine Ashewode (aka Pocket Bard - Julie Golick), Marion (Lynda Brooks), and a new student, Etain (Erin Cabana), at various times, and even got to spend time with them individually. Thursday evening of War Week, Hugh took some photos with me and a few of the girls and that was a special treat for me.
I'm going to skip ahead to Wednesday of War Week and EK Court. Cormac put my chair in a wagon along with some others and had them all taken to the big circus tent on the battlefield where Court was to take place. Of course my chair went to the front row and I had Alexandra (who'd never been to court before) and Acelia next to me so I could explain a bit about what was happening and do a bit of play-by-play as court progressed. To be brutally honest I really miss being a court herald but I don't know how well I could hold up these days.
Earlier in the week Mistress Brid (Lindy Sanford) and Danny Bronson had written a letter to the Queen petitioning her to induct Sir Osgkar Wood (Stephen Straut-Esden) into the Queen's Order of Courtesy. They'd had others sign it but Danny and I decided to do it right so I went out, bought some sealing wax and used his signet ring along with mine to add our arms to the was seal on the petition. I signed my name and for the first time ever used my titles (2nd Tyger of the East, Pelican, etc.) on an "official" SCA document, because I felt that strongly about it. I even offered my glove should she decide to grant our petition. She did it! And he now owns my glove. Earlier in the week he had given me a patch which was a replica of the Award of Merit which was given by George Washington which served as the only combat award given out during the Revolutionary War and is the direct ancestor of today's Purple Heart. When he gave it to me I broke down, had some instant flashbacks, went into my tent and cried quite a lot and tried to collect myself. Giving him my glove felt "right."
Kayleigh McWhyte (Beth Regnier) Received her Pelican and that was another highlight for me. I got to harass her husband throughout the ceremony - that always brings me joy. (I only torment friends. I'm very polite to people I don't know or don't care for.)
Jibril got sent off on vigil. A fine man and well deserved.
But the highlight of court - When Sir Tanaka Raiko (Hank Salvacion) was made the 17th Tyger of the East. The accolade carries no precedence, gains no rank, has no real privileges, and garners no special medallions, signets, or heraldry. Yet it is the single highest honor that can be bestowed upon an individual in the East Kingdom of the SCA. I am honored (and often embarrassed) to be the 2nd Tyger of the East because of the people who came after me who should have so obviously been honored prior to me. And I am so proud to be in such distinguished company. I've known Hank for a long time and am very proud to call him my friend. (His wife, Sophie, is also a GREAT massage therapist!) I got to have a few quiet moments with Tanaka the following morning just after Jibril's knighting ceremony, just to let him know how proud of him I was. Then I taught him some of the Tyger's secrets like our secret name for one another and the secret name for our "club."
Friday was incredibly hectic. We started working as soon as we awoke. We had to get the camp torn down, our own gear put away and carted off to our new Herald Squared storage facility. We want to keep our private camp stuff separate from EK Royal's equipment and supplies so we've taken to marking everything. Then we had to get the wind walls torn down, the front entrance taken down and put away, and the Royal Pavilion had to come down, too. All tables and chairs had to be accounted for as well as all the other rented items. We came up short a few rented chairs, I'm hoping those turn up or we'll have to pay for them.
As I said in a FB post, lots of folks showed up for setting up the encampment but no one showed up for tear down. We even bought paid advertising space to ask for help. Nothing. No one. It was up to the folks from Herald Squared and ICOD to do it all. And without ICOD it would have been all but impossible. Led by Gregor, the King of the East, it all got done and put away in the trailer. ICOD fed us, helped in the heavy work, and did some major lifting and toting with calm, dignity, and good humor. I owe them a lot for all that work. I hope the next Royal Household is as helpful and accommodating or EK Royal could turn into a very serious nightmare. Having Pennsic end early didn't help, either.
Alexandra and I left around 8PM Friday night and drove about two hours then got a room, took hot showers (ladies first) and crashed. At 4:00AM I woke to a pounding heart and feelings of a panic attack. Then realized I'd taken none of my bedtime meds including my long acting insulin and my blood pressure meds. I couldn't remember where the BP meds were but the insulin was in the fridge. So I woke her to tell her I was going downstairs. I got outside the hotel and went to the car but couldn't remember where I'd put my pill box so I yanked out the bag that had all my meds, still in original bottles, and turned to see Alexandra walking toward me. She was worried I might have a problem either finding the meds or getting back to the room. I managed to get the pills dosed out, take my insulin and pills and get back to sleep. Then, promptly at 7:30, I proceeded to get a cramp on the inside of my thigh. I barked like a whipped puppy and shot out of bed to try to walk it off. Of course that woke Alexandra and started our day. A few hours later I started to flake out so I let her take over, moved to the passenger side of the car and passed out. I woke up a couple of hours later feeling much better and then drove the rest of the way. Alexandra has discovered that she's both fascinated by and has formed a love/hate relationship with the peg game they place at the tables in the Cracker Barrel restaurants.
We got to the Pecanderosa around 3:30 and she unloaded the car virtually single handed, moved stuff over to her truck and took off. Again, I owe her so much for taking care of me for two weeks. Between Amanda, Acelia, and Alexandra I've never been so mother-henned in my life. I kinda enjoyed it. None of them my ever become my students or protégés but I will always think of them all as "My Girls," and I love them deeply.
If I've forgotten to thank anyone please don't take it as ignoring you or being ungrateful, chalk it up instead to a poor memory and post-Pennsic tiredness. I only got home today and I'm trying to get this done before I got to my own bed with She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed for the first time in over two weeks. Thanks to everyone who made it one of my best Pennsics ever. Very probably t*h*e best. It was certainly the best weather. Thanks to the guests that made sure we lived up to the highest levels of hospitality. Thanks to the bards who stopped by to entertain. Thanks to the friends, old and new, who took the time to come visit and share with us. Thanks to all who worked with and for us. Thanks to everyone who volunteered to make Pennsic what it is.
And especial thanks to Hugh, Cormac, and Hedewigis for being such stout friends and thanks for my family in Herald Squared for making me feel so loved. As much as I enjoy being home I already miss my family. I love you guys. Let's do it again.