Top Ten for Pennsic 47- “confessions of an addict”

It appears I missed last year entirely, I’m guessing due to being between moves with no computer, but I’m back at it this year because the list is good!  And this one got started then left in drafts for a very long time.  It is now well past Pennsic but the observations still stand.

In the tradition of posting a list of top ten moments from Pennsic, I am sharing from all aspects that I loved then adding notes for my own tradition of setting goals and objectives each year as Pennsic is my SCA “new year” so to speak…

10. Camp Set up was done in record time this year– in part because we had another barony added to our camp and more hands at the ready. Camp common tent, kitchen, shower, sheet walls, even the woodshed were all done by Sunday evening. As it should be. We are all here on vacation after all and my classes started Monday. The years that camp setup extended through half of the first week we’re painful enough for me to start thinking of building a vardo and going out on my own.

Opening ceremonies postchat time, photo by Amani

9. Down time. Yes, I do have some at Pennsic. Especially the first week as I slowly disconnect from the rush of the every day, recover from long work days leading up to Pennsic, and slow down, just slow down. It is a luxury to reset your circadian rhythms, wake when you wake, enjoy frog call and bird song, music and drums. To leave technology and instant communication away so no one can reach you unless they make the effort to find you in person. This reminds us of our natural mode of communication and it feels so right. Despite the heat or wet or mud of some years, the slowing down is always there and is made so much more valuable by having two weeks to let it fully take effect.

tent view

My Favorite View to wake up to in the morning…

8. Bearing the memory of those we have lost, most recently Baron Taliesynne Nychymwrh yr Anghyfannedd Llanrhyddlad, otherwise known by me as Papa Taly, whose household I was honored to be a part of- Unycorne’s Hospyce. Taly received his AOA the year I was born and was one of those SCA founders that had always been and would always be, albeit he now watches us from among the stars. He had a quiet demeanor and eyes that belied the strength and power within. I wanted to write something for Taly but my thoughts turned more toward where we have come from, how we weather the current winds of change and turmoil, and where we are headed. Thus I shared this new piece at many circles with a dedication to Papa Taly, the Herald who helped me find my name, who laughed at my enthusiasm for clothing and getting “the look”, for wild places and their secrets shared, the joy of plants and botanical latin, the brightest light of our elders.

In the space of a moment when time falls away and the mist of memory rises,
You find yourself in the vast halls of a place, surrounded by your chosen kindred.
Each of them sees their own halls around, each wears their various raiment,
Their interests and arts are as many as they yet sharing has brought all together.

Are you awake or is this a dream? Touch, taste, and smell all you see.
For each gentle you greet with a smile and embrace tells you that this dream is real.

The vault of these halls was lifted by those whose vision and toil came before us,
they wanted a place for virtue to thrive and the weight of the world to escape.
In goodwill they opened the doors to their halls and welcomed all as nobles,
with wisdom and joy these builders of our dream crafted the halls of our elders.

Who were the first to give us this dream? Their imagination still surrounds us.
With their service and art they made manifest this fantasy that you can feel.

Now greet each new gentle to join in our game and welcome them into our halls.
Clothe them and feed them and teach them our arts for one day they to will be family.
Our young know the joy of play become real and keeping the magic of childhood,
they learn at the knee of the masters of arts and grow in the joy of service.

How strong is a dream that lives past today? Five score years and still blooming.
Chivalry, courtesy, honor, and love. Our gifts to a new generation.

Now the old and the young, the page and the peer may dance and sing together,
weaving the magic of a place called the dream where values bind us together.
When threatened our halls from within or without, we’ll rally and stand as one.
And raise up our voices to far magistrates that righteousness may yet be done.

Are you yet willing to fight for this dream, to ensure it dwells not in darkness?
Well, the choice it is mine, and the choice can be yours, to carry the light of our elders!

Lady Faye in 16th C Turkish clothing holds up a printing block to demonstrate block printing.

Teaching block printing at Silvertree Souq, photo by Amani

7. Teaching and learning are what got me involved in the SCA in the first place and keep me engaged and planning. This year was a big teaching year with the Dressed for the Sultan classes and workshops leading up to Atlantia’s current reign, it is always fun when someone gets the populace excited about something that you already love to do and you get to share! It seemed fitting to add this class to the usual lineup that I have been teaching at Pennsic. This year the “Are you wearing a tablecloth? Intro to Greek garb” and the “Greek garb make and take” were not as full so I may feel less guilty about retiring them eventually. The “Coaching and the Art of Constructive Criticism” class was also more lightly attended albeit with some good discussion but I feel this is so needed that it should stay, maybe with a revamp for more discussion and practice. The “Dressed for the Sultan intro to 16th century Ottoman Turkish clothing” class was packed and folks kept filling in, albeit some left after the first hour to get to other classes. The difficulty here was getting through the many slides of lovely pictures, which worked well for only half the attendees that read the description about bringing a mobile device to follow along with the slides. I will probably offer this again but need to either print more photo books or request an evening slot for the projector to work well in a tent. This year I also added yoga classes with a coteacher although I ended up leading the bulk of them. This was before dinner yoga in the Atlantian royal camp. I need yoga at least every other day anyway so I probably will continue to offer this and it was so much fun to have some brand new yogis that discovered how this could help resolve the pain of setup and walking miles per day. I also added a demonstration/class for block printing textiles at Silvertree Souq where they were offering blocks and silks for sale. We may keep some drop in printing sessions for next year.

Teaching yoga at Atlantian Royal Camp

 

6. Displaying for the known world Arts and Sciences was a first for me but lots of fun to share Ottoman Turkish clothing with so many people, from those for whom it was new and surprising to those who were delighted to find it in the display to those who actively saught me out. I tried again for a predominantly visual display that would encourage others to make more historically accurate middle eastern garb. My clothing rack included samples of several construction and decoration techniques labeled and arranged from most accurate to most expedited.

pennsic display

5. Performing was not new but different, especially on the main stage of the performing arts tent. I joined the bardic arts expo again this year with 2 pieces and later that night was part of the “Not your typical Atlantian thugs” concert. I knew I wanted to share Dierdre’s song in the Atlantian concert as it is written by mistress Rosalind who was not able to attend pennsic this year. This was the first piece of hers that I learned after she requested I sing some of her music a few years ago when first she heard me sing. It spoke to me and is one that I had not heard others performing. For the afternoon expo I was undecided but wanted pieces big enough to fill the tent. All morning “Oh Death” kept creeping into my head as if Anne were tapping me on the shoulder and requesting I sing her song. So this was my first piece of the day, followed by “As I Roved out” to round up two period pieces for the expo (master Richard was saying I should do more period pieces and I had to remind him that originally that was all I ever did). It felt like my stage performance was far and away better than anything I did around a fire. I may just take up the challenge from Scholastica and do a full set of my own on the stage next year. You have been warned.

4. Exceptional Work was seen throughout the war both in acts of service and in the arts. I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the A&S display and the little bit I got around to see was fantastic. I especially loved being next to baroness Tala with her display on the research and creation of the tughra for our current sultanate. People loved her interactive display with layered transparencies to show the layers of the tughra. It was also lovely to see friends recognized for their work and two peers raised that I know personally, Mistress Molly and Sir Irwin and both were surprised!

3. Finding a Cause was a surprise to me but gives me something actionable to do in the coming years.  I had spent some time learning about the CAWS (Cannon Advanced Warning System) from Baroness Amani who created it as an alert system via text prior to each cannon blast for those with PTSD or other sensory issues.  Volunteers stay next to the cannon team to send the text alert out just prior to the blast.  If you were not aware, you can sign up for this service or to volunteer or donate to the CAWS at Silvertree Souq.  Sadly, this system has not been adopted or promoted by Pennsic as a whole. BUT IT SHOULD BE.  Why?  It has been made clear that some people really love the cannons and they will stay.  BUT Some of us who don’t even have battlefield noise related PTSD still jump out of our skins when it goes off and even that adrenaline dump really isn’t as bad as a child having a meltdown or someone who has a legitimate medical issue.  They can’t just “get over it”, they can’t always “walk away” or “calm down”.  I personally witnessed and heard about several very severe reactions from Veterans who were not made aware that cannons were even on the site, much less that they would be going off multiple times per day.  This is unacceptable in a society that values courtesy and the veterans that make up a large portion of our society definitely deserve so much more than just courtesy.  I saw many other issues related to ADA and inclusion for those with disabilities that I will be following up with as well but I want to start with a simple list and I ask you to lend your voice to the cause.  I will be making more requests through the year, especially in winter when I have down time but we need to contact those is charge of Pennsic planning on the SCA side, the BOD, and the Cooper’s Lake staff to request some simple changes that will make vacation more of a pleasure and less of a hell, even for a portion of the time, for some of our members.  These are my initial ideas that should be very simple, easy to implement, and maybe just need someone with more leverage than I to ask for them or many of us to increase the volume!  Feel free to send me other suggestions.

-Request that a prominent notice is posted in the registration tent at least that “Cannons are used on site and fired from the battlefield many times per day.  To receive advance warning of Cannon firings, sign up for CAWS at Silvertree Souq or Nordic Traders” (even better if CAWS sign up was an option at gate or on registration)

-Request the simple modification of an air horn signal just before cannon firing- this is done at other wars for the equestrian community and I would think we value our vets as much as our horses.  This small consideration would warn those that aren’t signed up for CAWS ahead of time.  (If this is a budget issue I will personally supply the air horns)

-Request that a Cannon warning and information for CAWS be included in the site book prominently.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Image result for caws pennsic

Finally, the top two…

So, why confessions of an addict? These last two are what I crave, and chase, and obsess over. What keeps me up at night and motivates all the work.

2. Chasing the magic is what I call the hunt for the 10 seconds that makes it all worth while. There were a few magic moments this year around bardic circles, resting in my tent through a rainstorm, watching a fire alone in the wee hours of the last morning, dancing, and in sharing fellowship. The Baron and Baroness of Bright Hills hosted a fabulous party for their last war as landed baronage that was full of fellowship and laughter and opportunity to get lost in the music of Ishtar and dance for my home group that for the most part didn’t know this was something I did. 😉  The Delores bardic broke up early with heavy rain but under their common tent I had a chance to reconnect with the amazing Master John Lyttleton and sing for him and thank him for helping cultivate this voice in me. I also was able to deliver the Laurel Kaftan to Mistress Rowan Berran McDowell and she was ecstatic. This one was a labor of love and I never once wearied in the 80 hours of its making because it became a meditation on the kindness and encouragement she has shown to me and so many others over the half of my SCA time that I have known her.


1. “Brain on fire” is what I call the excited, can’t get to sleep, buzzing of ideas that comes from spending time around creative people.  The people I can geek out with and who understand both the magic of the “aha” moment and the spark of a new idea or a totally new take on an old idea.  I was not tired at all driving home this year because I had brain on fire and was churning out ideas and audio recording them while I drove.  This is the “high” that I chase while the moments of magic are the “flow” that is also found when performing or expressively dancing or intensely absorbed in a project implementing a new idea- when time flies and next thing you know it is the end of the day and you haven’t stopped to eat.  It may not be good for the blood sugar but it certainly acts like a drug and one that I don’t mind saying that I am totally hooked on.  And I want more.  I will keep on working to have more moments of both.

Goal for this year- Continue “upping my game” but this year I want to focus on my level of performance because now I have felt some moments of best and I want more of that also… also working on my masterwork project, it is coming along in baby steps but needs presentation which thanks to lots of ideas I now have an idea for. 🙂

Objectives-I want accountability and feedback so feel free to challenge me to any new piece this year and let me know how to make it better!

Memorize one new song a month and prepare it for best level performance*. (continuing 4th year, getting a good repertoire now just need a list to remember what I remember)

Work up one story per month and prepare it for best level performance*. (failed on this one last year due to life but I’m back at it and some stories may work for real life to)

*Practice best level performance- breath control, planned and practiced projection, pitch, emphasis, emotion, dynamic range- until it becomes ingrained. (now practicing 5 hours per week so this is improving)

Complete one piece of garb each month. (continuing and working toward the masterwork)

Complete one non-garb sewing or other craft project each month. ( working on this one, starting with trying to do at least 3 repairs or special cleanings a week)

Work more on historical dance- specifically adding at least 2 hours of practice per week. (new this year)

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