As I sit here still only contemplating the unloading of my car, Pennsic XXIX already seems so very far away. The fourteen-hour drive home from Cooper’s Lake certainly contributes to the sense of distance, but it’s more than that. We did so many things at the War, had so many great experiences that they’re already jumbling in the corridors of my mind like some really detailed, but already fading dream. It’s a dream I don’t want to forget though. So, before I lose too much of the detail, I wanted to share some of my time with those members of House Corvus who couldn’t be there.
I didn’t actually leave until about 6:00 PM on Friday, August 11th. I figured, since it’d take about fourteen hours to cover the 700+ miles, I should just drive all through the night. Arriving at Pennsic at nighttime does you no good at all. So, this way, I’d get there bright and early Saturday morning and be able to get right to work setting up my pavilion. Thanks to Robert and a bit of pre-planning; the drive up went very well. I was nervous about a dubious, slow-leaking tire, but it made it there (and back) just fine. With the car fully (and I do mean fully) loaded and well stocked with sugar-free Kool Aid and Atkin’s bars, I hit the road to Pennsylvania.
I actually made very good time. One of the benefits of driving late at night is that traffic is always very mild and even the few construction zones in NC en route went breezily by. I simply noshed the whole way (but never cheated on my diet) and stopped every few hours to stretch. Rockin’ dance CD’s provided a very pop soundtrack to the trip. Hey, you do what you have to!
At 6:30AM Saturday morning, I pulled in and went through Troll. Since I already knew exactly where we were setting up, I headed straight to N7 and was delighted to see that Rhiannon, Peter, and Michael had arrived only a little ahead of me and were up and about with Oshi and Sine. Unfortunately, the ground was so saturated with heavy dew, that we really couldn’t do any set-up. Still, we unloaded my stuff onto some tarps just to get it emptied. After all, I’d have to leave in only an hour or so to go back to Pittsburgh and pick up Medb Renata at the airport!
Any fears I may have had about our Pennsic set-up dissolved immediately upon hitting N7. I’m always so nervous about land allotment and we knew we were going to be fairly tight this year. But Oshi had worked everything out so that we had an absolutely luxurious camp layout. With all of our period pavilions going up on the perimeter, it allowed us a very generous courtyard and huge fire pit. With our Caidan guests Baron Frederick and Mistress Lyndia of Woodlyn already set-up, most of the Andoverians on-site, the shower tent, and kitchen all ready; the camp was already taking excellent shape!
After taking in some of the local color (just who was that drunk guy in our camp anyway!?!?), I headed to Pittsburgh to pick up Renata. She arrived safe and sound and we took off back to site stopping along the way for a few odds and ends. She was staying in Lady Alys’ pavilion, which she had sent up for Signy and Renata to use. By the time we got everything set up and I had everything in my pavilion ready to go, it was nearing dinnertime. Rhiannon made a great meal of hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill!
The camp already had so many great things going on. Sine had made even more of our spiffy pennons for hanging around the perimeter ropes and Oshi had made slick, new, blue poles for marking out our camp. Once we got the lanterns up, the banners in place, and the Gatehouse (thanks, Renata!), our whole House Corvus look was really coming together.
Also, just about everyone else in camp had been slowly arriving during the day. All of our Trimarian cohorts rolled in and the ever delightful Duke Merowald and Lady Sara set-up right next door to me! Although exhausted, I was really excited since I didn’t realize that virtually the whole camp would be on-site so soon. After all, the sooner everyone’s there and set-up, the cooler camp looks and the easier it is to get into Pennsic-mode. After a lovely hot shower (thanks Oshi and Frederick), it was all I could do to stay up, so I crashed. House Corvus had a busy agenda this War and it all started on the morrow!
Sunday morning brought Round One (ding) of shopping! I don’t think anyone denies that Pennsic has the greatest shopping opportunities in the SCA. This year was certainly no exception. While I thought that, generally, items were on the higher end than usual; it was still a treasure trove of goods and ideas. It’s not just about what I can buy but also what inspirations I get for new projects.
An exciting discovery was seeing our own Lady Signy gracing the cover to a brochure on period-fencing garb at the Gypsy Peddler’s shop! How cool is that? I know that she was bummed to have to sit out all of the fencing there. But, while she may be authorized to fight within Atlantia as a minor, Pennsic makes no such accords. It’s 18 only there.
Today’s highlight (and one the War’s highlights as well) had to be our House Corvus meeting this afternoon. During the meeting, Baron Frederick and Mistress Lyndia made a lavish presentation to the Household. Ostensibly, it was in gratitude for asking them to camp with us. But, it soon turned into an embarrassing (albeit joyous) display of their kindness and generosity. Their gifts included mugs, t-shirts, wine, spices, bumper stickers-- even a towel: all with the House Corvus badge! I was, frankly, bowled over at everything! Considering what a Godsend they were to our camp and how often they contributed in ways both subtle and gross, it was us who should have been on our knees! What a true joy to know such wonderful people. I presented Lyndia with a Laurel medallion fashioned by Mistress Megara and with a chord braided by Sine but it’s only a small token of the high esteem I hold for this Caidan couple.
That evening, Lady Demetria of House Andover made an excellent dinner and we entertained the first of a long series of dinner guests for the War. Tonight’s guests were the Their Excellencies of the Atlantian Barony of Bright Hills, Baron Temur and Baroness Ekaterina. Mistress Rhiannon and I made no secret that we had a hidden agenda to the evening’s repast, specifically: finding out if we could invite Lady Isabella Benalcazar to join House Corvus and become Rhiannon’s protégé. To our delight, they were thrilled at the idea and carried home several tokens of Rhiannon’s to take to Isabella. (Even as you read this, Isabella has already joined the House Corvus e-list and we’re planning just when her actual induction ceremony will take place-- probably Fall Crown Tournament). Personally, I think it was Demetria’s excellent dinner that made them so amenable!
Monday, the 14th was, by far, our most heavily booked day at Pennsic XXIX. With two sets of Royalty coming for dinner and the annual Corvus/Oldcastle Party later that evening, we had our plates pretty full.
First thing that morning though, I made a stop at the Panther Primitive shop on Merchant’s Row. I had noticed that the Gatehouse was pretty gloomy the night before, so I picked up a few new lanterns and these spiffy hooks to add more light to our entrance. Oshi, Renata, and I then headed off-site to town to shop both for our dinner and the party. Later that day, Sir Jason picked up the keg of Killian’s.
Once we were back, Messer Giuseppe set up his metal casting rig and worked on some of the St. Werbeaugh pilgrim’s medallions he’d been tinkering with over the past year. His Cuthbert crosses from last year were such a hit, I was glad to see him tackle something like this again! Lady Medb Renata gave him a hand with the finishing.
We got back from shopping just in time for me to quickly head up to the Lochmere encampment with Mistress Rhiannon for an Atlantian Pelican meeting. Unfortunately, Mistress Susan was still in town with Jason. The meeting was fairly uneventful but we did come up with a fun idea to get to know each other’s protégés. Southern belle that she is, Rhiannon suggested a cotillion, which we’ll be organizing for Twelfth Night in January! I can already hear Oshi groaning from here!
Speaking of Oshi, he did up an excellent beef stir-fry for our dinner guests Monday evening, the Crowns of Caid, King Guillaume and Queen Felinah and the Heirs of Trimaris, Prince Bytor and Princess Astrith. As always, time in Their company was a delight and we were even treated to a visit from Caid-Man and Crescent Girl. We were delighted to bear witness as they tackled the mighty injustice of an invading Serf’s Up and his Californicator! (You really did just have to be there!). Needless to say, the dinner was a great success and even prompted a visit from the Trimarian Crown to the Caidan Royal Court later that week so that They could meet Captain Trimarica! It also yielded a commitment from me to go out to Caid for their Great Western War where Lady Medb Renata and I will be Their Majesties’ guests. Way cool!
Immediately following dinner, we moved right into the annual House Corvus/Clann Oldcastle Party. Their Graces, Duke Gyrth and Duchess Melisande arrived early so that they could visit an old friend and House Corvus camp resident Duke Merowald. I guess the party was a success since our own Queen and Princess crashed it!
Tuesday morning saw me up bright and early. I wanted to walk out the entire route I was considering for this morning’s Third Annual Heraldic Walking Tour. This is an Atlantian-sponsored walk around the Serengeti that points out extraordinary uses of heraldry at the War. It is an awesome way to see what other people are doing and get some great ideas of our own. We also gave out certificates for extra-special displays. Lady Sine wove beautiful Corvus colored tokens as special mementos for camps as well. I think the tour went very well and was actually surprisingly well attended.
While scouting the route at 7:00AM, I bumped into His Excellency Highlande Foorde and former Sacred Stoner, Baron Konrad and received invitations to the Clann O’Choda party that night. While I couldn’t attend the party, it was great to see him. Later that week, he was inducted into the Order of the Pelican. But, that morning, mum was the word!
Immediately following the walking tour, which conveniently ended at the House Corvus encampment (hmmm, how’d that happen?), we started to set up for the Atlantian Heraldic Consult being held this year at House Corvus instead of Atlantian Royal. Mistress Alisoun and Mistress Rhiannon organized the whole affair with us merely playing host. Still, it was great fun to have the consult table in camp and we met lots of interesting people and worked on a lot of fun armory. Alisoun even put out a letter of intent right there at the War! It was very impressive. Since so many people in House Corvus are members of the College of Heralds, we were all busily involved. I had it pretty easy as all I had to do was draw a lot of heraldic artwork for the submitters. Definitely the coolest submission for me to draw was Signy’s “turtle rampant!” When I got home from the event, I already had one of the Pennsic generated LOI’s in my mailbox from Alisoun. Talk about a speedy turnaround!
That evening, our encampment hosted the cast party for Master Efen’s production of “Abelard and Heloise” at the Pennsic theatre. This was great fun as the cast and members of the audience sat around our fire and held an impromptu and intimate bardic circle. Being exhausted myself, I retired to my tent and drifted to sleep while brilliant, musical talents serenaded me from without.
Still, there’s no rest for the wicked and, come the dawn, I was up and about again! As most of you probably know, Wednesday is “Atlantia Day” at the War. It’s also Midnight Madness in the merchant’s.
For some of us, Atlantia’s traditional Royal Court had to be missed. Instead, that evening we were treated to a private class and fighting Q&A by the SCA’s most gifted fighter, Duke Paul of Bellatrix. Close friends of Frederick and Lyndia’s, we were blessed to have Duke Paul and his wife Mistress Susan of Bellatrix in our camp on an almost daily basis. Duke Paul even washed the camp’s dishes one night! As human beings, they demonstrate every erg of charm and graciousness that we’ve come to know from his son and daughter-in-law, Duke Stephan and Duchess Niobe. As a fighting instructor, Paul’s an inspiration! It was fun to see even the more experienced fighters in camp drift over and become mesmerized by his style and teaching. Whether Duke or Knight in their own right, they hung on every word! As House Corvus tries to recreate their presence on the fighting field, Duke Paul will undoubtedly be the sensei behind our lessons.
One of my dearest friends from Trimaris, Syr Karl Kyburg, arrived at Pennsic on Wednesday and he was also on the House Corvus meal plan. Of course, our camp never does anything organized on Wednesday’s because half of us have to go to and be involved with Atlantian Court. So, we went out to dinner that night at the Food Court. Hooking up with Peter, Rhiannon, and Michael, we also took in the first waves of Midnight Madness.
Of course, the first thing on all the fighter’s minds was fresh rattan for new swords! but we actually took in a lot of shops and picked up things right and left. One fun thing was seeing Rhiannon’s collar of maintenance in Master Lothair’s sample book at Drachenstein Treasures! For me, the find of the event was seeing Mistress Megara’s copper enamel cloisonné medallions for Atlantian orders on sale at Alisoun’s Silverdragon shop. The irony was not lost on me. I had transported a package for Megara to the War and delivered it to Alisoun. But I didn’t actually know that it contained this hidden bounty. Megara makes, far and away, the greatest medallions for Atlantian awards. In fact, it was under her tutelage that I made my own Pearl medallion. What a treat to be able to now sport a Pearl, Golden Dolphin, and Pelican medallion made by this wonderful artisan!
Thursday morning I had a meeting with Their Atlantian Highnesses, Anton and Emer to discuss aspects of Their upcoming Coronation, which I’m autocratting and Oshi is cooking. Later that same day though, House Corvus was invited to a wonderful luncheon put on by Her Highness, also our neighbor, and Baroness Sacred Stone! She laid out an amazing spread and it was so nice to just sit down and catch up. All of our Pennsic schedules had been so full that the simple joy of spending time with friends outside of camp had almost eluded us. My thanks to Princess Emer for giving us the chance to spend time in Her company and all our dear friends of Sacred Stone.
Dinner that evening was less joyous, though. Unable to attend our previous dinner on Monday, Their Majesties of Trimaris, King Gunnar and Queen Anastasiya had graciously offered to reschedule for Thursday along with Their Highness. I was delighted that They had gone out of Their way to plan a meal with me since, with few exceptions, I’ve had Her over to dinner annually at Pennsic since 1992! But personal politics crept into the evening and put a damper on my usual joy. In fact, the dinner had actually been sabotaged when someone from Trimaris suggested we make a specific dish for the Queen which, unbeknownst to us, she actually loathed. True to my personal experience though, She handled Herself with grace, charm, and courtesy and we made it through.
The unpleasantness and short tempers of Thursday made a Household meeting imperative Friday morning. Thank God we are the sort of people who can sit down together and air out our problems though. I thought the meeting was awesomely beneficial and productive! Frankly, it laid the groundwork for my greatest day at Pennsic!
Friday is our traditional steak and shrimp blowout where we eat those foods until we bust! Oshi and I went shopping and came home loaded with meat! Giuseppe cooked the steaks, while Oshi did the shrimp and it was awesome! SCA Ombudsman Maestra Francesca di Pavia joined us again this year and was the first guest to actually play bocce in our courtyard! To our delight, the King and Queen of Caid came by again and spent the evening with us as Duke Merowald and Lady Sara taught us two Morris dances in which His Majesty and His Grace could play hecklers! It was wonderfully fun and I even had the Kingdom Seneschal of Caid as my dance partner for the Evesham. This we did while other guests sat around the fire and toasted marshmallows and caroused. Merowald and Sara gifted Rhiannon and I with beautiful, medieval bells as tokens of gratitude for another excellent year in the Corvus camp and I vowed to make Morris-dancing bells for everyone next year! (And I will!!!). That evening we also had a Corvus circle and inducted Baron Peter Hawkyns! Saturday saw most of us packing up and breaking camp. It was an amazing week only to be topped by next year!
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