home is where the tent is

All right. I’ll admit I overpacked.

I thought I would need a lot more than I ended up using. I thought I would have time — and light! And comfort enough to do things like sew and practice my calligraphy. Which is not to say I lacked for comfort, exactly, but after a long, eventful day I wanted nothing but a chair, my cloak, my warmest clothes, and Genevote’s campfire. Thus, next year I will bring only my silly little weaving box, because weaving is quiet and repetitive, and my sewing kit for repairs. I will tote the A&S stuff to actual A&S/social meetings, where it does the most good.

We arrived while the morning chill still lingered. Putting up my tent worked me into quite the sweat, and that was with help, because the last time I’d done it was last year when I bought it! Also, I’m shorter than my rig. Note for future reference: the logo on the rain fly goes in the front, over the door. Blessings upon Her Excellency, our Elisabetta, and there was a third good gentle who I want to say was Jared but my memory is an eldritch thing. Even I don’t quite know how it works. So I stripped down to my chemise, changed my green layer from under to over, put on a light belt to keep me hoiked up out of the mud, redid my lips (what? The Baroness Isolda always decks herself out in style), and went to get my archery equipment inspected by the utterly lovely Baron Edward, one of several in from out of town to be fair judges of our competitions. We had a few ends of practice; I shot well from twenty, but must work on my distances. If you ask me there’s no better way to spend a midday.

Ruaidri and Cadifor’s lunch was marvelous. I made myself a wee chicken sandwich out of a bun, a little butter, and some of the chicken, and I had a brie tart. They admitted they’d got Nezhah’s pie crust recipe off her, and I must say they did a good job with it (having adored said crust at Three Ravens). After lunch, out I went, bow in hand, to see what His Grace had cooked up for our challenge. Elisabetta knows perfectly well that Khalek’s got a sense of humor about these things; she did warn us! Sure enough, the challenge came from a Mongolian folktale… with a Thescorrean twist. We were to shoot the seven burning suns while missing the swallows that flew before them to taunt us. If we shot a swallow, that arrow did not count. Hugin and Munin soared among the suns; to shoot them put one out of the competition. Bob sat in the lower left corner under his shade. To shoot him put one out and the archer in question owed His Avian Excellency the drink of his choice. Eldjarn took the day, his son not far behind him. Those two would be deadly on a battlefield.

After archery, I found Elzbieta, at which point it was decided I would experience my first Court from behind the thrones (cue dramatic music). I suspect after that my blood sugar swung a little low, what with all the water and no Pepsi, because I put my head down in my tent and woke up an hour later feeling like a minute had passed. Better to have got my head down, and drunk all that water — see, Howard? I was good! — than to wind up a casualty of heat again. I was a little muzzy for a little while, but Eldjarn and Dad set me right. Bless him, Eldjarn was an uncommon comfort when I had that weird woozy feeling. I shook it off, hit the porta-john for what felt like the dozenth time that day, and rejoined the world of the cogent. I think my body liked the water, because I lost, like, three pounds of water weight. I should drink more in order to counteract bloat. Seriously, my kidneys got kicked back into gear. Who knows? I’m probably walking around dehydrated all the time.

Court! I popped my infinity-hijab-headrail over my head, and my simple brass circlet, and ditched the belt. I carried scrolls for Elzbieta and even got to read a couple, including Adelheid’s for her service. I was glad to be able to read hers. She has these wide-open arms that welcome us all in, and this happens to be what I think of as my “anniversary event” (it was my first with Thescorre a year ago). Adelheid and Erica were both there and both as darling as ever, by the by.

I also got called before Their Avian Excellencies, oddly enough. Twice that time: for being on the Brute Squad (that is, in service to my lady Adren via her Head Minion, Howard), and for achieving the rank of Archer.

Court adjourned, we marched back out to the campfire. I was camping with Genevote, Kat, Adren, Sue, and Howard on his knoll in the trees a respectable distance from the ladies. 🙂 My stomach wasn’t quite up to the task of eating yet, so I took out a shoebox, cut notches in the short ends, and strung white twine for warp. I have a gorgeous skein of yarn in Adalyne’s colors, so I wove that using a pine twig for a shuttle. Night had begun to draw in, so I put on my blue gown over the top of my others, and my Technicolor Dreamcloak. I trapped as much heat as I could, that I might better enjoy the evening’s bardic competition.

Elisabetta went first. She and Fridrikr sang together. She has a remarkable voice, and it is no mean feat for yours to be the first notes of the evening; it may have been at least ten years but I do remember what that was like. I also know that the kindness of your audience and your directors and teachers makes all the difference. Dad went next, then if I recall correctly KaĂ°lin, Sidious (what a name!), and Carlo. And when I thought the coast was clear, I went to get my own “little book” with Vixy and Tony’s beautiful “Persephone” called up, and I sang.

I had told Fridrikr earlier, with a bit of a deer-in-the-headlights look on my face I’m sure, that I didn’t think I’d be entering the competition but I was sure my father had something up his sleeves. I didn’t bet on the competition running a wee bit longer than I thought it had, because the next thing I know Fridrikr’s saying “Elen, come with me” and lo —

— I won.

I know. Way to bury the lede.

Were Their Excellencies aware I would not be able to sing at Pennsic? I did decline at first based on that, and they nodded, considered it, and said “We still want you to be our champion.” So be it! We have enough events coming that I’m sure a local songbird is still a songbird worth owning. I think I must have gone a dozen different shades of red. I was and am completely bowled over. I’ve only ever sung that one in the car or the bath, and I adore it to bits. So I went back to the circle as Elzbieta reconvened Court. I didn’t bother to go back to my seat. I mean, they were going to call me back over. And, still blushing, still verklempt, I accepted the passing of the regalia from a man whose skill is legendary. I’m pretty sure I kept it on until I swapped garb for PJs later, which, heck, my PJs that night looked like a woman’s thobe and sirwal anyhow.

After that it truly was all fun and games. I sang one more, the gender-swapped version of “Jenny Be Fair”, and since the ice was long since broken, I hammed it UP. Oh, that is one of my favorites ever. It’s even better when I can point to Dad on “and me father was the cause!” And then I did change clothes, when the night fell proper. I slept in my kaninchen and my faux-fur mitts, and oh yes socks. Socks are good to have. For once I was the toastiest person around the fire. Cover head, cover feet, cover hands, layer up: best way in moderate chill. Ailith — I think that’s how she spells it — sat and chatted with Carlo, Genevote, Sue, and was Kat awake? Edwardmund (it’s surely one of those, she said) leaned over by the fire, sleeping, and somewhere a little farther out Sidious was positively ensconced in a chair. I hated to bother him, but I’d rather hear a somewhat cranky “Yeah, I’m fine” than no response, you know?

Fun science fact: when you inflate a bed in the heat of the day, it will lose some of its plushy goodness and your hip will scream at you in the night. That’s okay. I got a good seven hours of sleep, which was all I needed because Saturday worked me hard. Sunday morning brought a leisurely breaking of camp. We just… sat, ate and drank our breakfast, talked, and eventually packed up to go. Breathe in, breathe out, move on, isn’t that the lyric?

I came home filthy, a touch sunburned (inevitable but not as dire as if I’d not got my dad’s sallow undertones to my skin), and bug-nibbled, so I washed, exfoliated, and relaxed the rest of the day. Long, long nap. Giant lunch. I regret nothing. It does dawn on me how overstimulated and overconnected I might be. By the time I’d spent a day, night, and half a day being physical and out of touch, I’d adjusted. Coming home, it’s this blaze of screens and sounds; I didn’t even put in a CD or turn on Pandora for the drive, which is weird for me. Why do I need the screens and sounds outside that environment? Why was being mainly disconnected unsettling to the point of anxiety? Something’s interesting about that transition. I’m back to normal, but normal feels unhealthy.

Tomorrow will be interesting w.r.t. post-exertion fun. Move through the fibro and it will eventually try to make you sorry, but I’m not going to be sorry. I’m just going to take it easy. I’m clean. I’m cosy. I’m content. I have exactly two major worries right now, neither of which is anything I can control, so I put them as far from my mind as I can and trust to the universe that things will come right. And I think of all the songs I might write this year.


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