Spring Spears

While I was at Ealdormerian Coronation, Spring Fling was held in Lonely Tower. Because Their Majesties were interviewing baronial candidates for Mag Mor, they couldn’t come up to Coronation with me. I suggested that They hold the interviews in Ealdormere, and those candidates who showed up would have proved their commitment, but surprisingly, They didn’t agree with me.

Even so, I got to go to a “Spring” event, this one Spring Spears in Calanais Nuadh. This happens to be the group where Bhrngari, my ex-wife lives, which means I was excited to go and see her. She and I get along much better now that we are separated. She’s great in many ways, and now I get to see them without focusing on the little stuff that isn’t so great, which unfortunately I often did. She’s also a very good cook, and she got rave reviews about the food she prepared for the inn.

Anyway, I stayed over at Katrine and Eric’s the night before the event and Katrine and I daytripped the event. Eric wanted a weekend off because of a party. Like I’d do something like that. Huh. 😉

Calanais is a group known for archery and thrown weapons, with few fighters. In fact, Troy Halfallen, who hasn’t lived in Calanais for some time, drove 3 hours to run the fighting. I was exhausted from the trip to Ealdormere so I decided to help marshal. Stupid me forgot that marshaling is more exhausting than fighting. I ended up much more tired than I would have.

Nonetheless I had a great time. Troy and his wife ran the list and the heralding, and Master Waldryk (www.waldryk.com) and I handled the actual marshalling. The fighting was usually very fun to watch, with the one exception of one fighter. Also, an old gaming buddy of mine who recently started back into the SCA is really starting to fight well, and that was great to see. The bout between The Dongal and Donato was especially fun to watch. They were fighting with matched huge maces, and His Majesty suggested the victory be to five kills. This turned out to be one of the best bouts I’ve ever watched, and it was also extremely funny. They pounded the hell out of each other for our entertainment.

I must admit, though, I was very disappointed in the quality of insults and cursing. One of the tournaments was supposed to be where you had fun calling out an opponent, insulting and cursing and bragging about one’s own prowess. This had the potential for lots of fun and silliness. In the end, Waldryk and I were the only ones doing anything with that. We were very disappointed. Surely Calontiri can insult better than that :).

The highlight of the day was feast for me. Not so much the food, though the first two removes were tasty. The third one had three kinds of salmon. Uck. Anyway, Dongal and I got to talking about fighting and he started talking about what he tries to do when he fights. A lot of people don’t realize quite how much he thinks about what he does, but he’s a very smart fighter. I am looking forward to learning everything I can from him.

Overall, it was another fun day in my life in the SCA. I didn’t get to spend as much time with Bhrngari as I wanted, though she did bring me jerky (wooohooo), nor was her new boyfriend able to make it and I want to meet him. However, the day was a lot of fun. It’s a great thing that at every event is someone who I really like but don’t get to see very often, like Waldryk and Troy.

Ealdormere Crown Tourney

Time to catch up on SCA stuff. A couple of weeks ago, my mom and I went to Ealdormerian Coronation. Mom needed a break from her newspaper (www.kansastraveler.com) after the Spring Issue was published and I wanted to go see Ed and Gen’s coronation. Since we also have relatives in Toronto and Guelph, it also gave us a chance to meet up with them.

The trip up was good, we did in fact meet with relatives as we stayed in Toronto for two days. The only sour note was the Best Western in Toronto, which was hilariously bad in their service, insisting we could get internet access in our room even though we couldn’t, not being particularly nice to us, and topping it off with the maid service not noticing that the previous tenant in our room had left an adult magazine in it.

The internet access, by the way, was terrible in both of the Canadian hotels we stayed at, I’ve certainly never had that much problem at any hotel in the states. Not sure if that’s a small sample size issue or a commentary on the internet in Canada.

Anyway, the event was held at a campsite in Kingston, Ontario. The weather the week before had been great, so naturally it was a cold wet day for Coronation itself. This meant the fighting was indoors. I would have vastly preferred to have fought outdoors nonetheless, as the air inside the hall was very thick and hot, but I don’t know as it would have mattered. I fought very poorly I thought, winning some bouts but not moving as much as I am used too.

Oh well, no big deal, I still had a great time fighting. Hereward even armored himself up specifically so we could fight, and we had 10 or so bouts, it was great. I also fought in the two tournaments and even though I fought poorer than I hoped, I held my own, well, except when Sir Evander just made an awesome feint that I totally fell for :).

Coronation itself was interesting, especially given the chance to see some interkingdom differences. I did notice that their Queen’s Champion Axe has the same head as ours and found out later that they were created at the same time. Their Champion’s Axe, however, is 5 feet long and the Champion can stand it on the floor. Bah, I say, given how heavy our Axe is and how we have to hold it.

Mom spent the day wandering around taking pictures. She also took a class on calligraphy, something she’d done years ago before either of us had heard of the SCA. She has some good pictures of me fighting, which is nice, since Ashendari never takes any pictures of me (just kidding). She had a great time, something I was kind of concerned about given that I was there seeing all these people that I don’t get to see very often and this is my activity, not hers.

Speaking of which, it was great to see everyone. Ed, Gen, Medb, Hereward, Adrielle, Mahault, Petrie, Gwerydd, Gaerred, Nicolaa, and a whole bunch of others I’m not recalling at this time. I bleed purple and I love Calontir, but I treasure my Ealdormerian friends greatly and I am so glad I’ve had the opportunity to spend time there.

Ed and Gen honored us at feast by asking Mom and I to sit at head table, something I had never done before. Mom has now gone to two events and must now think that she gets to sit at head table every other time :). It was a wonderful honor and I greatly appreciated it. I was struck, however, by what head table implies for royalty. Head table is not an unmixed blessing, as the separation means that you have fewer people to converse with, and for someone who likes to talk as much as I do, that’s something. It’s fascinating to me how something that everyone sees as such a major thing is in fact another sacrifice that the king and queen have to make. Being Champion has showed me time and time again how many little things that sitting royalty, responsible caring sitting royalty, gives up to make their subjects happy. I knew that this happened prior to being Champion but I have been surprised at the scope.

After the feast, which was tasty but was very long, we got a chance to do some singing. I don’t think Mom had ever seen me sing before, and it was nice. Bardic circles, of course, another example of interkingdom differences between Calontir and Ealdormere. I love to sing, but I’m so used to everyone joining in, which is not always the case in Ealdormere.

At feast Gaerred sang Sons of the Dragon, which of course I love and had to join in with. There were a couple of other people standing and helping and afterwards one lady complimented me on my voice. I had my usual uncomfortableness at compliments that was exacerbated when she introduced herself as Mistress Marion of Heatherdale, otherwise known as Heather Dale, an incredible singer with several great CDs and the owner of Amphisbaena Music (www.amphismusic.com). It was very uncomfortable but also very cool that someone like her said that.

At the Bardic Circle, I sang a few times, making sure to sing my version of Cursing the Normans for Edward, who has a Norman persona. I also did probably the best version of The Wanderer I have done thus far, which I was really pleased about.

We both had a great time and I’m contemplating the next time I’ll be able to visit up there. Not sure when that will be, obviously with school starting in August I’ll have to be more responsible and cannot just on a whim head on out to Canada, but I’ll definitely make sure I show up periodically.

Then we had to go home. The drive home was actually very interesting as we ran into snow from London to Lansing. Heavy snow in parts. Also interesting was the border guard with a sense of humor, which doesn’t always happen.

Bridgestone/Firestone Sucks

Just thought I’d say that. I purchased a 2005 Toyota Sienna LE AWD on October 18. They come with Bridgestone 380 Run Flat tires. Since they run about 50-60 miles when they go flat, the car doesn’t come with a spare nor a place to put one.

These tires have a bit of a problem, though, they wear out very quickly. So, quickly, in fact, that Bridgestone Customer Support says that they have no mileage warranty. None. They do say that if the tire doesn’t get to what they reasonably expect, they’ll likely replace it. That level, by the way, is 20,000 miles and if you get to 30,000, like I have, they say you’ve done well.

In other words, they expect the consumer to pay $1,200 every 20,000-30,000 miles. On an average, then, they expect the consumer to pay about $5,000 every 100,000 miles. Boys and girls that is .20 cents a mile. That does not seem acceptable to me nor to Toyota, who is looking into this. These tires were new in 2004 on their cars and it seems likely that I’m fairly high on the leader board on mileage. I’m not the only one who has complained about the short life span, especially since Bridgestone does not seem to have warned Toyota enough that Toyota salesmen know about the issue.

Which makes sense, given the cavalier attitude of Bridgestone when I talked to them yesterday. Too bad, guess you have to get more of our product. Huh.

Personal Stuff

I’m currently making entries from the Flat Branch Saloon, a brewpub in Columbia that has wireless. It’s a good place.

Happily though, I may not have to worry about it much longer. I have put in a bid on a house here in Columbia and I believe it has been accepted. Of course, it won’t be a done deal until I get the keys, but I’m excited and much more confident that by the end of May, I’ll have my own place.

I love to drive. I’ve averaged over 1000 miles a week since 1 January, 2004. It’s been great and I’ve gotten to see and do a lot of wonderful things. Being a vagabond has been fun and cool and neat.

Being a vagabond is also exhausting. I will treasure having a home and so many small little things that come with it.

Since years ago the earth enshrouded
My lord in its darkness and I left there grieving
In search of a hall, a sharer of treasure
To find one – wherever – far or near, who knew maybe of mine
Or who was willing to further a friendless man

I’m tired of lashing sleet and snow allied with hail. I want and I need my hall. And now I see the silver lining that has been in the stormclouds of this Wanderer’s soul.

Fyrd Retreat

Still catching up, I’ll cover the Fyrd Retreat and some personal stuff today.

First, the Fyrd Retreat. It is almost impossible to explain the impact and importance of a Fyrd Retreat. No other kingdom has anything like it, that I’ve seen. This is not to say that retreats by other groups aren’t important and in many cases very similar, but I suspect that participants in those retreats also have issues describing what they mean.

In the SCA, the Fyrd is unique. I believe it to be the only AoA level polling order. I do know that the Scarlet Banner and Stag’s Blood of Ealdormere and the Outlands, though their creators were influenced by the Fyrd pale in comparison. This is not a reflection of the quality of people and fighters in those orders, merely that the orders themselves have not evolved in the same way as the Fyrd have.

There is a brotherhood to the Fyrd that other AoA and most GoA level fighting orders lack. When I was Ealdormere talking about the Fryd Retreat a couple of summers ago, there were only two people who I felt understood the depth of feeling, Hereward and Adrielle. This isn’t surprising since we created an award specifically for Hereward that Adrielle has also received that says that were they to live in Calontir, we would consider them part of the Fyrd.

So, HRM Katrine, Eric, and I left Celidh to proceed down to the Fyrd Retreat, a four hour or so drive. We got there just before ten, but there was much left to be done. Usually a Fyrd Retreat has hanging out on Friday night, fighting and lounging on Saturday day, a good potluck type meal, and then the important part, the discussion of what’s important about the Fyrd and partying that happens on Saturday night. We got there in time to take part in some of that discussion. We each asked what was the single word which describes the Fyrd, my word was responsibility. It has always been a major thought in my mind that as a Fyrdman I have a greater responsibility, as my actions reflect not only upon myself but upon over 400 brothers and sisters. This is a responsibility I have borne since 15 February, 2002, and once I will bear the rest of my life. This can only be a good thing for me as a person.

Iggy also suggested we tell everyone our most important memory that we’ve had since the previous year’s Retreat. Mine, of course, was the rainy evening at Estrella when Katrine asked me to be her Champion, one of the greatest moments I have ever and will ever have.

The rest of the evening devolved in the silliness and fun of 40 drunken brothers and sisters. It was great. I can’t explain it more than that.