Sat Aug 6 – One of the great things about the history club that I do is that sometimes we’re not just strictly historical. We have quite a bit of silliness, too. Our annual Pirate Tournament is a great example of this. It can make me a tiny bit reluctant to answer the typical question, “What are you guys doing?” since we’re not representing the best of history when we’re in our pirate garb. But it is one of the more enjoyable activities we have every year.

I spent a good portion of my morning working the “gate” where participants signed in for the event, signing waivers, paying their site fees (that help pay for the park rental fee, etc.), and get their tokens of participation for the day. In history there really were both Spanish and English who landed on the coast, claiming this “Island of California” for their Crowns, so in addition to the “generic Pirate” theme of the day, it was also an opportunity to pit the English against the Spanish. Most of the armored combat for the day was set up in team scenarios, which made it very different from our typical single-elimination or double-elimination competitions.

I also spent a major portion of my day taking photos of the activities, the combat, and the costumes. My camera battery ran out early, and unfortunately I hadn’t charged my spare battery. But Dayle was kind enough to help take photos all afternoon, so we’ll probably combine photos from several sources when we post the albums on the shire website.

After the event, many of us went out for a “revel” at a nearby restaurant. There happens to be a sports bar in the area called “Pirates Grub N’ Grog” and they’ve been gracious enough to set aside the side room for us once a year for a rolicking good time. One of the guys locally does Balloon Animals as part of his modern living, and has entertained us at this pirate revel for three years now at least. His balloon inventions are stunning, and we had a great time together.

I met a guy at the event who also happened to sign (American Sign Language) and he happened to sit near me at dinner. I felt so inadequately trained in ASL and could barely keep up with the signed half of the conversation, but it was a good kick in the behind that I should be still studying on a regular basis. I’ve let my ASL studies slip lately (and my life-goal is to be fluent someday). It turns out that Amy, who was also staying overnight at Dayle’s, not only lives near me down south but knows of a free ASL class and has been meaning to go to it. So we’re making plans to go to class together, which should jump-start my studies again. I miss it. I miss the community, and I miss my junior-high best friend, Mary. She’s actually written me a short email recently, and I hope to hear from her more again soon.

Most amazing though, I received several gifts at the tournament from friends who wanted to replace some of the spinning supplies that had been stolen several weeks ago. First my friend Astra gave me a spindle made by a guy named Otuell (so naturally I’m calling it my Astra-Otuell spindle). It is an absolute dream, with a carved/turned dark wooden shaft and a cast brass or bronze weight on the bottom that is a six-spoked wheel. Astra also gave me a portion of some dark brown (natural) wool which I began on the Astra-Otuell spindle. Oh! This spindle just keeps spinning and spinning and spinning with the least effort, and is so incredibly easy to use. Everyone I met who spins now wants one. It is just amazing!

Lynn also surprised me by giving me a spindle she made from a ceramic drawer pull, and a niddy-noddy that she decorated with wood-burning. And finally James gave me a Chinese silk-brocade purse/pouch. I’d forgotten that there was a Chinese silk-brocade drawstring bag in the whole list of things I’d lost, and I’m beyond thankful and overwhelmed with the generosity of my friends.

Apparently some of my friends have been passing the word on some email lists (that I am not a member of) and sharing the list of all the things that were stolen from me. I am just astonished that so many people felt the loss too, and have been scheming to surprise me with gifts. The love in this society is so great, and I am so incredibly fortunate.