Rather than write this one as if it were yesterday, I’ll just wrap up a two-day report. I’ll warn you, it’s long, but please enjoy… there are photos at the end! *grin*

Sun Jul 17 – The dinner party last night was really fun, although somehow JJ neglected to tell me it was a *birthday* celebration for True. If I’d known that, I would have at least brought a card!!

It was kind of fun getting to see people from every walk of life who’ve been friends with True over the past 20+ years. Some were from Faire, some from the SCA, some from the story-telling community, some family, some just friends, and all in all a collection of people who have no problem meeting new people at a party. I noticed this from the moment I walked in. I wasn’t sure how well everything was going to go since I knew so few people. But it was one of those times where all the conversations seamlessly blended and included everyone and anyone who wanted to join in.

I brought my black linen cotehardie (long dress) with me, to add the “riding slits” so I could use it for fighter practice (sword fighting) the next day. I didn’t know we’d be sitting outdoors so much, so it was a challenge to thread a needle by tiki torches and outdoor firegrill firelight. But I successfully opened the right seam from floor hem to just below my hip, and hand stitch the edges neatly.

The party itself was a lovely dinner party. One of True’s friends just recently earned some big chef’s certificate thing (I wish I’d paid better attention and could remember the name of it) and her cooking was absolutely amazing. True’s wife, JJ, went absolutely nuts with the presentation and the service, and it felt like a fancy high feast. The salad was made with some wonderful crab, and although they said the dressing was a horseradish concoction, I tried it anyway and absolutely loved it. I couldn’t have told you there was any horseradish in there, at all. It was almost like a thousand island dressing, but no relish or heavy sweetness. But a similar consistency.

This was followed by a potato leek soup, supposedly chilled, but it was just the perfect temperature of warm. Also exquisite, and by then some really yummy bread (a cracked wheat?) had made it to the table so it was easy to “lick the bowl clean” with torn off hunks of bread.

There was a bit of a pause, which I think should be part of any multi-course feast. You get a chance to let everything settle, so that by the time something else is served, you actually have room for it. By now everyone had been enjoying wine, raspberry beer, and raspberry mead, so now it was time to tell stories about True. There were some hysterical stories of mixed weapons scenarios—some festival where different history groups got to choreograph the lawless Western cowboys attacking a train, getting sacked by the good guys, who got sacked by the guys with the black powder group, who got sacked by the guys with swords, who got sacked by… You can see how this must have looked to the paying tourists at the festivals!

A song or two and another story or so later, the main entree arrived—beef, or chicken, or both served like a shredded stew over toasted bread, carrots (thinly sliced in ribbons) and some amazingly fresh green beans, practically just picked off the vine. Whatever her chef training was, it was masterful.

We all retired around the fire in the backyard, and some of the guys put on a little skit just for True. He’s a bard, you see, and has joked about being the Bardic King someday. So four guys dressed up in early Celtic great kilt form, processing in with verse and song, and crowned him with a Burger King paper king’s hat (Fantastic Four, by the way) and presented him with a 20-year old scotch as a scepter. Then they sang/chanted an original “You Are The Bardic King” song which had us rolling on the floor laughing. It was too wonderful!

Finally, the dessert arrived—a chocolate layered *confection*, served with those tiny little champagne grapes, sliced strawberries, and a fresh spring of mint. Yummers. This was amazing.

We sat around telling stories and socializing until the wee hours—I left around 1:30 am, another friend of mine told me Sunday he didn’t get home until 2:30. We did have coffee before we left, but two cups of coffee were not enough to help me stay awake all the way until Dayle’s house, even though it was probably only a 35 minute drive. I just couldn’t make it.

I got a little more than a third of the way there, pulled off the road near a gas station (to remind myself to fill up when I woke in the morning) and got about four hours sleep in my car. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my car? *grin*

I woke up finally around 6:15 am, reorganized and straightened up in my car, filled up the tank, and headed finally to Dayle’s house. One of the best reasons for staying at her place when I’m in town is that I have a key and I can just sneak in, even when people are in bed asleep. I felt bad that she’d pushed the coffee table out for me to use the pull-out bed in the media room, but fortunately she hadn’t already put the linens on and all that. So I put the room back together again, and meandered upstairs for a shower and a fresh change of clothes. I brought my laptop in and caught up on some email and got to listen to the radio (streaming internet) until Dayle wandered down for breakfast and tea. Bless her heart, she had enough leftovers to feed me breakfast too (whee!) and we had a lovely time chatting over tacos/burritos. Packed everything up, and headed off to church.

It was nice to get there early, and the more I get to things on time, the more I like it. Service was lovely, and very relaxing. Then it was time to change into my “fighter clothes” and head back to the park.

I got there a little early only in comparison to all the other “heavies” fighters. So I had enough time to open up the left seam on the cotehardie and stitch both sides closed neatly before everyone else was ready to start practicing. We didn’t have our big group stretch, but Tina and I spent some time stretching together before going on the field.

Today’s practice went really well, especially having some time to spar with Gerhart. He’s a knight, and has been king once here in our kingdom. (I even got to serve on His Court, as one of the ladies in waiting to the Queen.) They recently moved into our little shire, and having him on our fighting field has been amazing. And Eichling, a greatly renowned fighter, has been coming to some of our Sunday practices too, which has just been fantastic. I didn’t get any time with Eichling this week, but my time with Gerhart was astonishing helpful.

Now, I only have a helm, a sword, and my new fighter dress. There is *nothing* that will motivate you more to stay out of range than wearing no armor. Maybe more practices should be done out of armor, because it certainly made me move around a lot! Gerhart was very careful never to hit me, except on the helm, but had lots of great tips about how I could learn to fight better. Most notably, I need to learn to exhale on every hit, to help avoid the “hold your breath” method of attack. And throughout his advice, he mentioned that these were either things he wished someone had taught him from the beginning *or* these were the very things he was currently working on. I got to borrow Eoghan’s “zen buckler” which is a really small round shield that you hold very far out from your body, and I really like it a lot. I need to either build one myself or find someone who can help me build one for something in trade. That, and I need to get my armor put together!

After all that, I still had one more commitment to run off to. You see, I’m helping to found a new community chorus in our county, and I have the key to my church which is where we meet and rehearse. Oh, and I’ve sort of accidentally become the conductor of the group. *grin* There’s only about a half dozen singers right now, and we’re doing some planning and strategy for promotions, recruiting, fundraising, music selection, rehearsal schedules, rules for membership, and performances. This fall we’ll start our actual rehearsals, which will be held on Sundays from 6-8.

Mon Jul 18 – This means I’m either going to have to get enough sleep on a Saturday night, have a place to crash at 8:30 on Sunday nights, or figure out how to make the entire drive back home after all my Sunday commitments every weekend. Because I certainly did not make it all the way home last night.

I made about 30 minutes down the road, and finally just had to pull over to sleep. And even though I got about 7-8 hours sleep, I really did not feel well when I got home at 5:30 am. So I called in sick, wandered upstairs, and passed out. Good thing I did, because it was a migraine day. I managed to take some migraine meds and pass out again, wander out for brunch, and come back home to collapse with naseau after eating. *sigh* I clearly pushed myself too far on Saturday. Four hours sleep, *in my car,* is not enough for a full Sunday. (Yes, Dayle, I know. I know.)

So, around 3:30 this afternoon I finally felt well enough to be up and about, so I made three more trips to the new apartment with a car full of boxes of things. My new place has my bedroom window facing the street. So I just popped off the screen each time and passed things from my car through the window into my room. It’s silly and fun, but ever so efficient. I got all my fighter gear put away, the rugs from the park vacuumed, some of my sewing and crafts boxes moved, and most of my closet and clothing moved. It seems a little weird to move all my clothes, but the motivation is to make myself go over every day with more stuff. So when Sunday comes and we rent a U-Haul, all I need to move is the big furniture. I really don’t want to have to move furniture “around” my stuff, but have all my stuff already out of the way.

Now I’m catching up on email and website tasks, my journal, and eventually going to be as early as possible. And that’s that. Hope you enjoyed my stories! Now, for the promised photos: Me, in my new fighter cotehardie and Me, smiling through my helm:

new fighter dress smiling through my helm