Faire-Folk™ Greenroom

Monday, November 1, 2010

12:59AM - Renaissance Festival: Seventh Weekend 2010

Final Weekend… and in the true spirit of things, I think I got about six hours of total sleep. But it was awesome, and there was coffee – and as I’ve been off the bean for months (except for the very occasional treat) the coffee was well and truly effective. Goddess bless the Tassimo that lives next to the toaster, as it requires no skill. Machine on, disc in, mug under, push button – WHAMO! Coffee! It’s a miracle. Sure Jesus turned water to wine – but this turns water to caffeine, which I find infinitely more useful.

The weather was perfect – chill and awesome. I really have to thank Ma Nature for blessing us with a wonderful run, then giving us such a lovely sendoff. The leaves crunch in drifts underfoot, the light fades fast, and it is undeniably autumn.

Of course all the non-Fest people make the same comments: “Wow, last weekend, huh? Bet you’re glad it’s over!”

It always seems like such an odd statement. If it was a chore I hated, I wouldn’t be out there doing it. Yes, I’ll be glad to have a day my alarm clock doesn’t go off. I’ll have two extra days to do things and far fewer things that need to be done (once all the “Hey! Fest’s over! Come to my gathering!” parties die down). I’ll have room in my trunk for groceries again, and perhaps within the next two weeks I’ll be able to cough up all the dirt that has lodged in my lungs (though I suspect the glitter will be there forever).

But there will be no more “Swing Low” in the mornings, no more light dappling through the trees and slanting across the grounds in the afternoons. I’ll have to resist the urge to chat with every kid in a stroller just to see them smile. I won’t duck through the backstage curtain right smack into conversation of epically weird and deranged proportions. No more random live music or warm welcomes from people I barely know; no more lovely hearth-cooked food or spinach pie. Life goes back to boring. How can I be glad that the most interesting thing I will be able to say about my weekends is that I did five loads of dishes?

I usually hit a wretched depression in October when my Brigadoon disappears for ten months. I’m hoping to fend it off this year; there are lovely things in the works for Irish Cottage. I have some fantastic ideas for Following the Desert Sun and plan to dive into that right away. There are plans to get together with a few of my closest Fest family in the off-season. It’s just – right now it’s hard to believe it’s over.

I can’t even really come up with highlights; the last weekend is always such a blur of last minute shopping, hugs farewell, and frantically soaking up wonderment to brandish against the coming dark of winter. I had two pieces of spinach pie. I caught Final Vilification Tennis (though much tamer than in years past). I stood on a bridge-rail with Taffy and greeted patrons in the chill of morning. I huddled in front of the hearthfire with Christine, Ann, and BJ, chatting and laughing and plotting as an excessive amount of Lady Gaga blared from the DJ in the special events tent. (Oh, I miss the Blue Barn! At least then the music was far away and those of us who wanted to have a quiet Cast Party could do so!) I spent twenty minutes trying to find my car in the pit – and had to wait for the ice on the windshield to melt so I could drive home. I had my fortune read, indulged in one more pretty hair toy, and put war braids in BJ’s hair to complete the Mel Gibson/Reaver/Uruk-hai look he was doing for Vil. (Burlap kilt and a blue handprint across his face – mark of the privy monster!! Hammed it up in the privies a bit later as he and I were trying to get it back off him…) I ripped a metric ton of tickets from patrons coming in at the last minute – and cried when Master Shakespeare said that we are such stuff as dreams are made on. I composed a song about holiday lights on a privy roof (oooh! You can see what you’re doing! Even better than breaking the seal on the roll of privy paper in the morning) and laughed at Jac’s final announcement and the choice of song he put on the stereo after:

Closing time
Every new beginning
Come from some other beginning’s end



Had a lovely post-run dinner with Bill and Autumn, toasted a successful year, returned to site for camaraderie and music, and got into a severe attack of the giggles with Autumn over “juicy porn – now with midgets and bacon!”, the true definition of a BLT, and the ineffectiveness of caffeine-laden ass-flavored berry juice. (I did mention I’ll miss all the epically weird conversations, right?)

And then, with Orion low over the horizon, drove back to a world of mortal concerns and dreams of August.

Good night, sweet Festival.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

9:30PM - Renaissance Festival: Sixth Weekend 2010

I'm desperately sick of hearing management complain about how attendance is down (is it? dude, the place was PACKED, and the number read at Talent Show for Saturday's attendance was hardly a record low) because of the entertainers. Apparently every week there are a handful of letters that come in from parents enraged that the entire world isn't G-rated for their kids. Obviously this means we all suck. Never mind all the people walking out the gate at the end of the day with huge smiles on their faces, saying they can't wait to come back next year or next weekend. Never mind the kids that are wheeled out crying or cling to my legs, all protesting that they don't want to leave. Here's a lesson: people who have a complaint are far more likely to pick up a pen (or type an email) than people who are happy. They bought a ticket with the expectation that they would be entertained. If they are entertained, they got what they expected, and don't figure that merits a letter congratulating us on doing our jobs. (Much like management often doesn't notice when we do good things unless we're a select few people - hint, hint.) I even observed part of an exchange from my post at intake gate where a patron was thanking every single cast member on his way out. One of them encouraged him to write the office and tell them how much fun he had, and he said, "No, man, I don't need to - they KNOW you're awesome!"

No, no, sadly, they don't. But what are we supposed to do, beg every patron to write, with tales of woe of how all we hear at Cast Call every morning are complaints? Oh, yeah, THAT leaves a good impression!

So, for humble consideration, a few other things that might cause a drop in attendance:

- People are broke. The number of households down to one (or no) income is staggering. Let's face it - Fest is expensive. Tickets are $20-ish for an adult (no matter what time you come in) - just to get in the gate. If you're there all day to get your money's worth of entrance fee, you'll need food - which is expensive and there isn't much of it in an order. Rides cost money. Shows pass hat. Most of the crafts are expensive. My own parents haven't been out in years because even when I still had comp tickets in my contract to get them in the door, they felt bad not having the money to tip the entertainers they know aren't getting paid much (if anything) or buy from the shops instead of just browse.

- Management/ownership doesn't show much respect for the site. Hall of Masters has been boarded up how many years, now? The roof is missing in places, it's a huge building, and it's right at a prominent crossroads. All of the chainsaw carved statues are gone; same with the Meeting Crosses. Queen's Tea Tent. Big Corporate Tent that took up the entire Shepherd's Green this weekend. Seriously - they couldn't replace the Chapel (why should they, I suppose, when people will still pay to get married in a vinyl tent), but they could afford to build the King's Dungeon? (Oh, that costs money to enter, too.)

- For a large portion of the population, telling people they suck doesn't inspire them to greatness. It inspires them to depression and hopelessness, especially when delivered in a mass format like Cast Call. You feel like no matter how much you do, it's not good enough and you'll be scolded anyway, so why try? You create what you envision - so if you tell a cast that they rock and encourage them to go out and kick butt in their own awesome way... guess what they'll do? I'm not saying all entertainers are awesome... and yes, some people will slack. But those are the ones who will slack no matter what, and maybe they ought to be reprimanded in person instead of punishing the entire class.

Thus endeth my rant.

On to fun stuff.

Highlights:

- The weather was awesome. Rained a bit on Saturday morning, but quit right around Cannon and did not return despite predictions to the contrary.

- Picked up two extra readings on Saturday at Troubadour Stage. They had a couple grid spot openings and kindly invited me down. I find it works well as a reading venue, and for the second spot I had a lovely conversation with a couple whose son is in college and highly inclined towards the creative bent. Another couple from the second reading tracked me down for my 3:00 at Irish Cottage, which was flattering to say the least.

- Front Gate shifts both days. It's fun to chat a bit with people on their way in - especially since my shift starts about two hours before the show ends, frequently people want to get the most bang for their buck and are looking for suggestions on where the fun is at that time of the day. The only exreme challenge of intake gate is that people keep sneaking up behind you trying to go out the in door. My favorite excuses:

- But I'm coming right back!
- But I'm not coming back!
- But the exit line is long and I don't want to wait! (it really wasn't - and it was moving quickly)
And, best of all:
- But they won't let me go out the other door with my beer!

(At least that one I can blame on extreme inebriation, as the couple in question was too drunk to even hold their half-full cups level. Gods help the people on the road with them...)

- A cup of ramen noodles in the dark of Pavilion while waiting for Talent Show to start. Extra cool points that Erin sat down to have her dinner and keep me company. This had the happy side effect of learning that there's a booth in Cartwheel Cove that does amazing salads and wraps for about $5. Bonus points: it's an independent. Guess I know where I'm sending everyone now...

- Talent Show. You never know what you'll get, and this year was a pretty good batch. Most people kept their intros short. Although a couple acts went on a bit long (especially interpretive bunny dance, which stopped being funny years ago; last year the guy nearly got booed off the stage by the greater part of the cast, but he just won't let the bit die), most people went by the adage about leaving the audience wanting more. I especially loved the song the young lady who had been gifted the guitar wrote and performed for her benefactors. It sounded like it should've been ont he radio - and she's 12! WOW! Also - there's always one person/group each year doing something I've never seen up there before. This year it was a lady with nunchucks. Smokin'!

- Watering parade. Most of the crew was busy with the corporate party on Sunday, but towards the end of the run we're not in high demand anyway. Two people, six pitchers, and we wound up with half of one left (pitcher, not person). And that was the warmer of the two days.

- Brother Seamus concert in Cottage on Sunday. . Dee and Corwin were part of the band I schilled for my rookie year, so it was a nice bit of nostalgia to see them tucked in the corner to the right of the hearth. The more things change...

- The patron who came into Irish Cottage on Saturday and was intensely interested in the historic aspects of life and the building itself. We get a number of those - it's one of the perks of the place - but this one asked before he left where else on site he could go and find out more about the Renaissance. We encouraged him to talk to crafters about their art, and hopefully he did. It's always nice to find people who appreciate the nuances and aren't just there for alcohol and a themed shopping experience. Don't get me wrong - shopping is great. Supporting crafters is great. But with all the mass produced stuff out there now, I wonder if a lot of people no longer realize that the people owning the shops make the stuff in them?

- Scrubbing pots. I know helping clean up is not a glorious task. However, no pot could be as bad as the one I was told to clean at my last Clann Tartan event where some genius decided that leaving leftover oatmeal over the fire all day would turn it into bread - yet somehow was not rewarded for her genuis by having to deal with the fruits of her labors. (I mentioned it was my LAST event, right? Yeah.) Also, there is a period-looking scrub brush. With a handle. And Molly had been soaking the pots for quite a while already, so the whole thing can hardly be considered work. (Maybe that's why I enjoy cleaning pots this year... it seems so pleasant by comparison...)

- Ian McFarlan. He's a musician friend from years past - didn't get to chat long, but it was nice to see him in the lanes again and have a chance to say hello.

- The Bloody Big Corporate Tent - though not a highlight in a good way. Dude. Seriously. They complain that entertainment isn't visible enough, and then they do THAT? Fawna had to re-do part of her show, and the sheep herding demonstrations were cancelled entirely. Not to mention, damn thing was just unsightly. They go on and on about the need for us to be authentic, evict modern slang from our language, and hide anachronisms, but the multi-tent complex with the fake translucent windows is obviously okay. I say again: dude.

- Furries - omgwtf. Full-body furry suits and everything. One was a cheetah; one was (I think) a fox – though the fur was all bright cartoony colors, so it was a bit difficult to tell. I'm not here to judge - as long as everybody involved is a consenting adult, I don't care. But let's just think about the practicality issue. This is a Renaissance festival. It's packed with people, irregular terrain, and low obstacles like hay bales, trash can frames, and small dogs – and overhanging tree branches (which I know from personal and painful experience can flip you ass over teakettle if you run into them at a velocity). I've never worn a furry suit, but I imagine one's peripheral vision must be absolute shit in those things. Can't really go in a store - those tails would knock EVERYTHING over. Sitting down at a show would be rude – anything that bright would detract attention from the actual act, who are trying to make a living. The ONLY reason to show up dressed like that is so you can walk around and have people stare at you and have your picture taken with kids. Or something. And if that's your thing, hey, you paid your $20 at the gate - have fun. But in the meantime, I hope you don't feel the need to eat, drink, or pee...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

11:36PM - Morris Blessing Ritual

For those who haven't been fortunate enough to watch the Morris site-blessing, I have rounded up a few videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXe0QL2t6Bk - video's shaky on this one, but the sound is clear and lovely (once you get past the initial airplane noise...)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCCM7zsNYLg - better view of the actual dance, and I love that it's right next to this street with cars going down it

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abewt3EWE-c - sound's pretty well crap on this one, and the video's a bit fuzzy - but as it's shot in a forest (or, at least, a lot of trees) it gives a better feel for the eerie beauty of the ritual.

Monday, September 20, 2010

8:48PM - Renaissance Festival: Fifth Weekend 2010

A weekend of absolutely delightful weather. Saturday started off a little on the too-chill side, even with my coat, but it soon warmed to perfection. Didn’t have to take my coat off either day. Oh, bliss. Maybe if I’m very lucky, it’ll stay like this for the last two weekends of the run.

Highlights –

- Glorious music abound. Lorelei was visiting on Saturday and kindly sang the “Meadowlark” song for me – my Fest season is now complete. (In general it was wonderful catching up with her; I miss having her around the Cottage twice daily.) The Canterbury Travelers came in to serenade the Cottage as well, and I must say I miss the transcendent harmonies of proper madrigal songs. On Sunday a couple of Molly and Da’s friends were visiting, which also filled the house with lovely music.

- Dregs in the Dark. I know this falls under the “glorious music abound” category, but as they were kind enough to put on a more-than-two-hour show for their devoted Ren family, I feel I ought to call it out separately. I sat in the window facing Upson Downs, BJ and Hawkins on the bench below me, and reveled in not only the music, but the sense of community that filled Mac’s Pub. (Also, the lovely 12-year Bowmore that Hawkins kindly shared from his flask. Mmmmm my favorite.) Their new fiddler is awesome, and I can’t wait to hear more of her. Their set list spanned from what Tim so frighteningly dubbed “blowing our zombie wad all at once”, to originals (which includes the zombie wad), to more traditional stuff like “Lukey’s Boat” (“Lukey’s boat is painted gold – happy birthday, Tim, you’re fucking old!” would’ve put us all on the floor laughing if we hadn’t been squished together like very happy sardines) to more modern stuff like “Hotel California”, to traditional mixed with modern (I’m still not fond of “Old Dunn Cow” – but it’s much better with the addition of “Eye of the Tiger,” some of the score to Star Wars and the theme to Inspector Gadget - you know you’re among geeks when the whole crowd chimes in with the “oo oo!” at the appropriate time). I still haven’t seen the actual Firefly series (just the movie), but my goosebumps get goosebumps listening to everyone sing “Burn the land and boil the sea – you can’t take the sky from me!” With the quarry expanding to slowly eat our parking lot (and who knows what after that), buildings falling to age and neglect and being replaced by tents, and people we’ve called family for years leaving our ranks through death or disillusionment or circumstance… it felt like an anthem as we huddled in that stone building amid candlelight, packed too tight to feel the night’s chill. I saw people with camcorders, so I’m hoping this gets put either on a CD (because I’d totally buy one) or offered free on their website they did with Angelina’s farewell concert (we miss you, lady!!).

- Good food. Molly made beef barley stew on Saturday and Ulster stew (contains beets, turns your hand red – hence the name) on Sunday. Nom Cottage food nom. And perhaps it says sad things, but I enjoyed the hell out of scrubbing the pots after.

- Watering parade. It’s cool, we didn’t go through much – but hey! We’re there to serve!

- Entrance gate in the evenings. It’s slow, sure, but I like slow. Exit gate makes my head explode.

- Contact juggling. I’m starting to suck less. Marginally. Brilliance will not happen by the end of the year – but in the meantime I’m apparently one hell of an awesome advertisement for the stained glass booth on the corner where I got my marble. Each day I get at least half a dozen people asking where they can get one.

- Unlosting patrons. I still did a decent bit of this, though I spent most of my time entertaining folks in Cottage.

- Shopping. I finished off my list. GO ME!

- Full moon site wander. ‘Nuff said.

The only downside is that I started coming down with the ick on Sunday – everyone was going a bit slower and sounding a bit lower, and by the end of the day I was getting that feeling like I’d swallowed crushed glass.

Fest crud. Boo. Not as if I’m surprised – but still. Boo.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

1:16AM - Writing Questions Meme

The extremely awesome K.V.Taylor had this on her blog and wanted other authors to come out and play. Since she was kind enough to endure not one but TWO early drafts of Towards the Fates, I owe her big. So, here goes...

1. Tell us about your favorite writing project/universe that you’ve worked with and why.
I love the whole Renaissance Faire world (obviously!) because it challenges me to look more closely at things I've come to take for granted over the years. Every time I'm at Festival I notice another tiny detail and think, "Oh, crap, why didn't I put that in somewhere??"


2. How many characters do you have? Do you prefer males or females?
I'm scared to count. Not all of them live in my head (thank goodness!) but enough do that it's getting crowded up there...

I used to think I liked writing girls best - but I've been doing some stuff from Tanek's point of view lately and enjoying it quite a bit, so now I think I'm about equal. I just have more experience with girls.


3. How do you come up with names, for characters (and for places if you’re writing about fictional places)?
Most of them show up and announce themselves. For the rare times they don't, I have about ten baby name books to leaf through until something sounds right. (I got my first book when I was still in junior high. My mother forbade me from taking it with us to public places, which I didn't understand until many years later.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

10:01PM - Renaissance Festival: Fourth Weekend 2010

Anniversary of the kitties coming to live with us on Saturday. Yay kitties! I made sure to give Barb and Randy both hugs and thank them for trusting us to care for two of their little furry blessings.

Weather Report: Beautiful and cool on Saturday – a bit warmer on Sunday; the sun baked my brain a bit by the end, but I wasn’t sweating oceans, so I’ll take it. The site was still soft and a bit puddly from the week’s rains, but nothing that would eat a small child.

Highlights:

- Guitar Karma. One of the brilliant things about the musicians at Fest is how supportive they are, not only of each other, but of anyone who shows a musical aptitude. For example, the Fandazzi fiddler has been in Cottage several days to give fiddle lessons to a couple of the young lads from the Fawna show. The idea behind Guitar Karma is that a lot of musicians have been on the receiving end of that sort of kindess at one point or another – and, also, possibly on the receiving end of a gifted instrument. Jay (who has been around damn near since the dirt was new), in his Old Skool Awesomeness, took up a collection from folks (not limited to musicians) and presented a gorgeous twelve-string guitar to one of the young ladies of the Fawna show, who shows quite an aptitude and talent, but has been playing on a kid-size guitar. It was sweet to hear her getting to know her new friend up in Cottage’s loft. I just wish I’d known about the collection in time to kick in a few bucks.

- Moonie. I’ve heard about his show from a number of people, but he hasn’t been at any of the festivals I’ve visited. How convenient that he should come spend a weekend at mine! His reputation is entirely justified – to the point that I actually bought his DVD, which I can’t say for any other show I’ve seen.

- Contact juggling. I’ve always wanted to learn to do this but had lousy luck with my acrylic ball. On a whim I bought an oversized marble (roughly the size of a golf ball, maybe a little bigger) and started practicing with that. I have to say it works much better for me. I spent a big chunk of the weekend practicing as I walked from Point A to Point B, in between escorting patrons to wherever they were trying to find. (The majority of them this weekend had misplaced the Jousting Track. Huh.) By the end of Sunday I could usually get it to roll from the palm of my hand to the back of my hand and back – almost all the time without dropping it on my right hand, and about half the time with my left. I’m okay with dropping it a bunch – I realize this is part of the learning process – but my backside and thighs are a little displeased at the number of times I squatted down to retrieve it. Ow. It was cool how many people were encouraging of my very beginner efforts – rennies and patrons alike. One fellow who is quite good at it himself was kind enough to give me a few pointers, so we’ll see if that helps next weekend.

- Front Gate Shifts. I was on entrance gate, which I find I like much better than exit. Yay for people who breeze by to chat while I’m standing around with a lack of incoming patrons. Double yay for the ones who bring (or drop) cookies. The slow pace of incoming gate at the end of the day is largely responsible for my progress in contact juggling.

- Vilification Tennis on Sign Language Saturday. There are few things funnier than watching a really good interpreter sign some of the stuff those people say. Wow. Really, really makes me wish I’d stuck with my classes and gotten my degree/certification/whatever in sign interpreting. (Wish I’d stuck with the public school violin lessons, too… que sirrah.)

- Watering parade. Nothing real exciting there, but I still like doing it.

- Readings. They went well both days – on the second I had a nice conversation with the mother of one of our rookies. It’s always fun hearing a different perspective on our show.

- Shopping. I experienced much shopping excellence. Even better, it was all on behalf of other people, so I didn’t have to feel guilty about coming home with a bunch of stuff. I’m especially proud of the T-shirt I scored… one of my writer buddies has a character who is a king and a womanizer (although oddly lovable despite it) and absolutely needed the shirt that says “Once a King, always a King, but once a Knight is never enough.” The ones I've seen so far have been simple white lettering on a dark blue shirt - but they changed the design this year to be this calligraphy stuff that's harder to read at a glance and has a distracting grey crest in the background (maybe overall cooler, but definitely not appropriate to this particular character). I asked last weekend if there were any of the old ones left, and the booth worker I talked to said there weren't. Nevertheless, I found two in a large at a different booth. Hopefully she won't mind the slightly roomier size, but if she does I can always nab one of the new ones in a medium (supposing I can find a medium as I was having trouble finding those too).

- Fandazzi show. Caught the last half of their show with Autumn, who hadn't seen it. I like the new three-man bit they've added with the flaming quarterstaff-type poles. Very cool.

- Community Kitchen. Alice the Cook at the Guard Encampment runs the Community Kitchen - basically she does cooking demos with the intent to feed as much of the cast as she can. Those who can do so chip in ingredients and/or cash, and any cash left over at the end is donated to a food shelf. Good karma all around - and good food. I generally eat at Irish Cottage and leave the Community Kitchen stuff for others, but BJ couldn't quite finish his, so I helped out. Yum. (I'm doubly grateful that they exist because I was gifted an incredible number of enormous cucumbers from a coworker and don't have the jars to pickle them all. This meant the remainder could fill hungry rennie tummies instead of going bad.)

- Foxtail with Hugs. On Sunday BJ and I played foxtail for half an hour or so on Shepherd's Green. It was a good time-fill before my reading, as I didn't want to get involved in something and have to extricate myself and hurry back. This game became extra fun when Miss Fiona decided that she was going to try to race the foxtail every time we threw it. No way little four-year-old legs are going to outpace a thrown rock, but she gave it her all - and gave a big hug to whomever was on the receiving end. Fiona hugs are some of the best hugs on the planet... and hopefully all the running caused her to sleep well when she got home.

- Hugs in general. I'm not a huge huggy person - more than some, for certain, but mostly just with people I know to a decent extent. (Not that there's anything wrong with being a hug slut, of course.) One of the many lovely things about Festival is that there are a lot of people I know to a decent extent out there, and they're all excellent huggers. I think the world would be a better place if there were more hugs and cookies. (This reinforces my intent to turn four at my next birthday.)

- Morris site-blessing ritual. I haven't caught their site-blessing every year, but it humbles me every year that I do. Time drops away and my soul stills, and a distant part of me is sad that I will never, ever be able to capture the full beauty of their dance with prose. They walk by like a line of ghosts, and those following fall into step with the music's rhythm, and my heart breaks for all the people shut tight in their shops, talking and blaring music, oblivious to the miracle beyond their doors. It's strange watching them dance the next day (from the middle of the circle - thank you Morris Men for your lovely mojo!!)... like talking with a selkie after seeing them in seal-form. Their tune will haunt my dreams for the rest of my life.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

2:37PM - Renaissance Festival: Third (Labor Day) Weekend 2010

The weather gods took pity on us this weekend and granted us three days of cool temperatures. I never took my wrap off on Saturday; I’m not sure it even hit 70 degrees. Oh, bliss! Sunday and Monday were good as well – low 70’s. It sprinkled occasionally on Monday, but the serious rain held off until after Cannon had blown and folks were packing up. My only complaint is that the weather didn’t even slow the mosquitoes down. I have fewer bites than last weekend – but that’s probably because I didn’t stay after, so more of me had multiple layers that a mosquito could not penetrate. Still, the little suckers are just vicious this year!

Highlights:

- Un-losting people. I say it every week, but the maps suck. Chances are in any stroll from Point A to Point B I’ll run into at least three people who need directions. If they look really confused, I just take them wherever they’re going and chat them up on the way. It’s not the big or flashy brand of entertainment, but I flatter myself to think it’s just as important. (Personal soapbox: not everyone out there loves big and flashy, dammit. We quiet people have our place, too.)

- Morning gate. I tried something different and played out front instead of joining the musicians. Not sure if I would’ve thought to try it if I hadn’t forgotten my recorder (all three days – I suck), but it was fun. I got to pull out some of the lines I used to use when I was staked out in the Secret Garden back in the days of Neighborhood scheduling – they’re best for people who won’t stop to play. I found it amazing how many people will take a picture of you just because you’re standing on the railing of a bridge. Or who ask what would happen if they pushed you in. (You’d fall and hit the rocks – DUH.) Also interesting – not one person threatened to push me off the bridge, but Taffy got it repeatedly. As I find it unlikely that they were more frightened of me than him, I can only concluded that chivalry isn’t dead after all. Hooray for that, at least. Next time someone asks, I’m going to say, “He’ll flail and pull me down too, and that would just make me cranky.”

- Drinking straw! Yay! Elandah leather had them in again, and there was even one wrapped with grey thread that had a unicorn charm on it. I match myself. I am so cool.

- The Bronze Jeweler’s booth. I adore their stuff, so when I’m there it’s always fun to stop and ogle – and point out to anyone browsing that really, they can’t live without one.

- Post-parade water distribution. We’re a little obsolete on the chillier days, but I still like playing my part to keep people upright, hydrated, and ready to play. We don’t go through nearly all of the ice, but Cottage always seems to need more in the outdoor water tank, so I’ve taken to just hauling it over and dumping it in when we’re finished.

- The Ratcatcher’s wooing of the Queen Mum. I love watching good improv actors at work, and that bit was very well played out. They knew where they were going, they had a basic idea of how they were going to get there, but the middle was too spontaneous to have been heavily scripted. It kept the audience giggling and drawing closer to see what crazy thing these people would do next – no awkward dragging lulls in the plot, no one looking around as if to say “oh, crap, what next?”, everyone playing into whatever the others were doing. I really miss having a good entourage with whom I could do that stuff. (Oh for the Cottage of my youth! – though I do love this incarnation to pieces, I’ll always miss having a pack of sisters to play with.)

- Helping around Cottage – cooking, carrying, watching the place, and other such stuff. BJ and I washed the dishes on Monday, which made me silly amounts of happy. Emily came in and played, and it was lovely to hear harp music in Cottage again. (Side note: I know exactly two people named Emily, and both of them play the harp. Not sure if that’s an odd coincidence or just Fest. After all, how many people in the regular world do you run into that play harp?)

- Sitting net at Vilification Tennis. Autumn hadn’t been to one of their shows in a very, very long time, and as we found ourselves child-free for a bit of time, I dragged her over. Favorite insults for the weekend: “Your mom’s so fat that not even Dora could explore her!” “Your mom’s so fat she IS the Adipose breeding planet!” and “Your mom’s so fat that when she went to Hogwarts, the Sorting Hat put her in the House of PANCAKES.” (Disturbingly enough, the first and third came from the new member, who is the ripe old age of fourteen. I nearly peed myself over the Sorting Hat insult. The second, for those keeping score, is Chrysto’s.)

- Catching a Dregs show – again, Autumn hadn’t been, and obviously this needed to be rectified.

- Having an adorable four-year-old with curly blonde hair come running from forty feet off, arms spread wide for a hug. Repeatedly. It’s really hard to think anything’s wrong with the world when there’s a kid who’s that happy to see you. Bonus cute points when she did it in a slightly-too-large wool cloak, and her black hat (also a bit on the big side) fell off half-way to me. Miss Fiona is one hell of an awesome ego boost. (Side cute: the last time she did this was at Front Gate. She had some little gold junk jewelry rings, and I asked where she got them. “Someone gave them to me.” “Who?” “Oh, just a human.” Then, with a mischievous grin, she held out a little glass pebble that could only have come from Twig. I oohed appropriately, despite trying very hard not to crack up about the human remark.

- After hours at Cottage. Good company, good chat, laughter, and candlelight. And pizza.

- Festival weather warning system. On Monday evening I got a warning that there was a storm a-comin’, and to pass the word that it was supposed to be a bad one. I love the ripple effect of that – even with cell phones and all that fancy gadgetry, there were still lots of people that didn’t have a clue until they were told.

- Chatting with a Morris dancer during one of my readings. I pulled out the Morris bit from Towards the Fates in his honor, and it was neat getting his take on what it was like to do the Fest-blessing ritual.

- Closing Gate all three days. The second two, blessedly, I only had to watch one gate and there was someone else watching the second. I think it might be because two people slipped by me with alcohol in their mugs on Saturday – but really, when the crowd is thick, it’s impossible two watch two gates AND give hand stamps. It’s entirely likely that the offenders slipped out while I was telling someone else that they couldn’t take theirs beyond the exit. It does amaze me how many people, when told that they can’t take alcohol outside, promise that they’ll finish it by the time they hit their car. Um, yes, you will. Before you leave the premises, even. Because your car is beyond the gates, and I just told you that you couldn’t leave with stuff in your mug. DUH! But it’s also lovely how many people smile and thank us for the lovely day – and how many kids stomp out complaining that they don’t want to leave yet. Means we must’ve done something right…

- The fellow standing next to his lady (who was finishing her booze before leaving – given how much people pay for it, I’m amazed anyone dumps it). He was dressed in a brown pinstripe suit, a tie, a brown trenchcoat, and red converse. I wished him a good journey to his TARDIS, and the smile on his face could’ve lit up Times Square. The hair and face weren’t even close, and it’s a subtle outfit… most people would just think he was odd for wearing a suit to somewhere with so much muck. Those red converse really made it, though, and if someone is going to take the effort to do more than just throw on a T-shirt and jeans, they deserve to be treated as whomever the hell they choose to portray. I wish I’d seen him earlier – it would’ve been fun to see if he’d actually play or if he’d just worn the outfit. (Wish I’d looked at his companion more closely, too – I think she might’ve been blonde, but I’m not sure if she was geeky enough to wear something Rose-esque.)

Monday, August 30, 2010

7:42PM - Renaissance Festival: Second Weekend 2010

Rookie Year: Oh no! My sleeve has a rip! I must patch it immediately!!
17th Year: Oh, hell. My pants split up the crotch. Well, if I wear dark underwear and watch how I sit, they’ll make it another weekend… I can sew them up when I go to Mom & Dad’s on Thursday.

Conditions Report:

The weekend was hot. Nasty, icky, wiltingly hot – although at least the humidity wasn’t too bad. And there was a decent breeze. On the other hand, it hadn’t rained in a really long time, so the breeze made the place a dust bowl. Also, the mosquito population is horrific this year. The vicious little mutants are usually only a problem after the sun goes down and the patrons clear out, but the bloodsucking beasts were attacking in broad daylight. I have sixty-seven mosquito bites and would like very much to crawl out of my skin.

The highlights:

- Foxtail with BJ on Sunday. My aim has improved. Drastically. Yay me. Also, BJ scored a field goal while tossing from under his leg. I am not nearly that cool.

- Rescued a damsel in distress. A lovely bellydancer (though I’ve yet to meet one that wasn’t) came up to BJ and me as we were parting ways after our game of foxtail and asked if I was a musician. Recorder at my belt, I had to admit occasional bursts of musical aptitude. BJ admitted to being a drummer. Apparently her musicians had flaked on her, and she needed to perform for Queen’s Tea – so BJ and I agreed to provide some improv backdrop for her routine. Thankfully she was cool with punting – BJ drums for dancers on a regular basis, but it’s been a long damn time since I had to play something that wasn’t from the British Isles. It was fun in any event, and when we’d finished she suggested jamming sometime. I find myself looking forward to the prospect.

- Gate shifts both days. I’ve never done Gate before in an official capacity, so I thought I ought to give it a shot in case I need to write realistically about it. Plus, it’s a paid gig, and a little extra cash doesn’t go amiss now that I’m not part of a musical act that passes hat. I was on the exit gate both days – first day was a bit more dull, just wishing people safe travels, thanking them for coming, and making sure no one left with booze in their mugs. Sunday was more chaotic – I was the only one for two gates, so it’s a bit of a trick to keep an eye on both of them. Thankfully Sofia Panini and the Concierge were there doing stuff as well, so they could lend an extra set of eyes - and some backup when people would decide that it wasn’t actually necessary to listen to the short chick no matter how firmly she put her foot down. Though, to be fair, most people are tremendously cool about proving their mugs are empty, letting someone sniff to be sure the contents aren’t alcohol, or chugging/dumping the remainder of their beer. On Sunday I was also Keeper of the Hand Stamp, which happened to be three flamingoes. Apparently Trinket likes flamingoes – or, at least, finds them amusing. Or just likes to say “Flamingoes for everyone!”

- Readings both days went well. I experimented with a few scenes I don’t usually use on Saturday and was pleased with the results, so I might add them to the list of stuff to use. On Sunday I got into a lovely conversation with a young lady who wants to start writing stuff. As much as for me writing has always been a compulsion – do it or go mad – over the years it’s gotten to be just part of what I do an who I am. I love it. I have days where I feel brilliant and days where I feel like a complete hack, but I’ve gotten used to those swings. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing or telling stories, but I do remember the point at which I decided to be serious about the whole thing. (Fifth or sixth grade – I was the dork on the side of the playground with a notebook and a pen.) It’s so cool to be reminded of the energy and enthusiasm that sets us all on that path in the first place – when things are new and you have no idea if you can pull it off, but by the gods you’re going to try!

- Watering parade. I’ve discovered that I can two-fist the pitchers, which is handy when people are filing in from parade and don’t have time to wait in line on their way to the Royal Reception. Unfortunately we’re down to five pitchers from the seven with which we started… I’m hoping it was an opportunistic patron because the thought of a rennie who knows what they’re used for running off with the things is just unconscionable. Not that stealing is good in general, but bonus loss of karma points if you know it’s endangering someone’s health in the process. A bunch of stuff is missing from Cottage, too – including the big yellow cooler thing that used to hold the water jug. And the bellows for the fire. And a bunch of the drinkware. And granted, it was all missing last year, too, but it still pisses me off.

- A bit of photographic serendipity. Amber Moon (shop by Front Gate, carvings of amber and bone – beautiful stuff) has a bin of art prints in the back, and out of curiosity I flipped through them. Imagine my surprise when I ran into a lovely framed photo of a couple of kids I know. They’re the sons of a couple former rennies with whom I am friends. I inquired as to who had taken it and the fellow behind the counter said that he had. I said it was extra neat because I knew the kids, and it was a perfect picture of them. He said that was great, as he’d snapped it last year and didn’t know who they were, but had hoped that if he put it in the bin that someone would recognize them and be able to deliver it for him. I happily volunteered. What are the odds? I love it when the universe clicks together like that.

- Watching ducks eat while I put on my morning dose of sunscreen. They’re Peking ducks, so they’re white, but Trinket adores ducks and so this entertained her vastly.

- Un-losting many patrons. It might seem like a small thing, but those maps really do suck, and I remember what it was like to get completely turned around when I was first out there. Being able to remove that sort of hitch in someone’s day so they can get on with the business of having fun (or make it to their show on time) gives me a happy, glowy feeling. Plus, my sense of direction sucks, so it’s nice to be the one on the giving end of the directions for a change.

- Helping cook around Cottage. Meat pies – yum. And, of course, while there, good stories and playing with patrons who walked through. It’s fun to hear what their favorite parts of their days were. There was one couple from Hungary who was visiting their daughter (who played translator). It always amazes me when people come from distances like that and choose to spend one of their days at Fest. (One group of people from my gate shift were from Nebraska and had spent Saturday at Bristol in Wisconsin and Sunday with us. Which was hardcore in its own awesome way.)

- Wine and cheese party after hours at Pagan Oaks. Alcohol is one of those expenses one can easily do without, so we’ve been doing without it… but it was fun to sample a bunch of stuff and get mildly tipsy on it (BJ brought some sort of pumpkin wine – odd and delightful and did not, thankfully, taste a thing like pumpkin). The cheeses were also lovely – although, as a pity, I don’t know what most of them were. I was chatting with Autumn and Bill (the Younger) when from across the camp I hear a fellow call, “Hey, Meghan, are you a vegetarian?” – apparently Miss Fiona had decided that I needed a plate like everyone else had, and so had enlisted the aid of a nearby adult to assemble one. And thought that sausage should be part of it. I’m not a vegetarian (largely because I’m far too fond of bacon), but I love that people think to ask stuff like that at Fest. The company, of course, was even better than the edibles, and Bill, Autumn, and I capped the night with a ramble around site while we chatted about geeky stuff and days gone by. Also, I managed not to fall headlong over any of the trash can frames – though I maintain that the one sitting right in the middle of the patch of bright full-moonlight was only attempting to appear innocent and would’ve leapt at me if I’d gotten any closer than I did.

Still, I had fun. Lots of it. Enough that despite the infernal itching, I’d happily go back and do it all again -- although this time I wouldn’t trust those stinking all-natural mosquito repellant bracelets. I wore two and they did NOTHING.

Friday, August 27, 2010

7:45PM - Renaissance Festival: First Weekend 2010

It’s been a long year.

It’s been a poorly-written soap opera of a year, actually – though I won’t inflict the details on those fortunate enough not to have lived them. Plus – I think I’m a little old-school in that it weirds me out to go into great detail about my personal life on the internet. (The joys of homeownership are exempt as they are funny, and funny should be shared.)

I wasn’t quite sure how I’d feel about Fest. I walked through the last half of last year in a blind haze. I did the best I could to entertain folks and pretend reality didn’t exist, but I don’t actually remember much of it. I wanted this to be a good year, but people can be strange around you once Bad Stuff Happens (many were last year, although I discovered some friends I didn’t even know I had, which was awesome) and I didn’t like the thought of that stuff intruding on my happy place.

Still, I was offered my contract to do book readings/signings again, and there is a force of inertia behind my participation… and, honestly, I really, really needed to be surrounded by wonder and beauty. Hugging a friend, making a patron smile… I needed a purpose beyond the corporate grind.

And so I found myself on Opening Day packaging copies of the short story CD twenty minutes before I needed to leave. And still wasn’t in costume. At least I hadn’t needed to make a new one, but obviously that meant something else had to get finished at the last minute.

A wall of fog waited for me when I opened the garage door, and I cheered. I just wanted to run into the driveway to give it a big hug – except of course that hugging fog doesn’t work so well. I drove to Fest with a huge grin on my face, and given the day’s start, I found myself playing the Now Vs. Then game.

Rookie year: Contract signed and turned in during Academy. It’s one page, front and back, and basically says “Show up, do your thing, don’t hurt people, don’t be dumb and get yourself killed, and if you are dumb and get yourself killed, it’s not our fault.”
17th year: Contract signed and turned in on Opening Day. It’s ten pages of legal jargon I have to read twice to understand. Then there’s the Harassment Policy, the Insurance Waiver, the Rules and Regulations, the Costuming Guidelines…

Rookie year:Pass picture is taken in Academy. They splice it together with a little piece of paper with year numbers on it and laminate the whole thing to a chunk of yellow plastic and hand it to me. I’m grinning from ear to ear in the photo even though I’m sweating to death -- the Student Union where Academy is held has no air conditioning. I’m wearing my peasant-ish shirt because I thought it would be appropriate.
17th year: I realize a week before Fest opens that I ran out of punches on my pass. I browse though my .jpg files from last year trying to find one where I don’t have an idiotic look on my face. I email it to the offices; they’ll print it on a piece of plastic and hand it to me at Cast Call. In the picture I’m wearing a flannel shirt because it was comfortable.

Rookie year:I pack a cooler full of pasta salad and all sorts of other things to eat, even though I know I’ll get fed at Irish Cottage. I’ll be running around, and I’ll need the energy!
17th year: I boil two eggs on the way out the door. I’ve got a few granola bars in the car. I know I’ll get fed at Irish Cottage, but really, if I run around a little extra and don’t have time to grab a lot of food, it wouldn’t be a bad thing and maybe I could drop a pants size by the end of the season…

Rookie year:I iron my brand new costume bits before packing them carefully so they don’t wrinkle too badly. While I iron, I listen to Fest tapes and sing along with the songs I know.
17th year: I pull my costume bits out of a trunk where they’ve been wadded since last October. I give profound thanks that not only can I find all of them (well, except the wineskin… where DID that go??), but they all fit. More or less. They’re completely wrinkled and the stains stopped coming out a couple years ago – but that just adds to the look, right?

Rookie year: I ride to Fest the night before in my friend’s powder-blue station wagon, which is held together by the faith of youth. Of course it’ll get us there! Betsy’s a good old car, and she always gets us there! Fog is beautiful and abundant; we take the back way and watch it tumble across the road.
17th year: I drive to Fest the morning of, riding in my (reasonably new) car, praying nothing under the hood suddenly fails because I really can’t afford repairs. The back way is all suburban sprawl, now, so I take the new(ish) freeway – which is largely through countryside. Fog is beautiful and abundant.

Rookie year:Oh, crap, gas went up to $1.05 a gallon! Well, we still need to fill up. Hey, put in that new Loreena McKennitt cassette – “The Visit”!
17th year: YAY! Gas went down to $2.65! Good thing I hadn’t filled up yet! While it pumps I’ll click down to the Loreena McKennitt mix (seven albums total) on my iPod (which is smaller than a cassette – and you don’t have to flip).

Rookie year: We park in the field behind C-gate and sprawl on the top of the station wagon to star-gaze with friends. I am amazed by how many stars you can see out in the country where there aren’t many lights. Our parking spot was a long way from anywhere, but I don’t care.
17th year: The field behind C-gate is a hole being mined for rock. We’re supposed to park in the pit – but we don’t have parking passes, so the traffic director won’t let me. I wind up parking by Front Gate, which I haven’t done since before I was a rookie (and the spot was much farther out then) – but am glad it’s close. No chance to look at the stars – but the casino’s lights bleach a lot of them out anyway.

Rookie year:I’m here! It’s Cast Call! Yay! I made it on time! Wow – look at all those people; I bet they’ve been here forever! How will I ever learn all their names? I wonder if they’ll play with me…?
17th year: Yay! I’m here! Ten minutes late, but it hasn’t started yet anyway. Wow – look at all those people! And – her! That lady! And that guy over there! I still don’t know what their names are! And – oh, those must be the rookies! I wonder if they’ll play with me…?

Yes, the fog put me in an awesome mood, but as soon as I saw everyone in costume chatting away, I almost did a little dance. Fest was here – a year full of possibility and hope. No matter what happens, some things are constant as the tide. Yeah, Fest changes. A LOT about Fest changes. The guy who is the boss of all of us is even wanting to change “Swing Low” to some other song because we’ve been singing it thirty years and he thinks it’s time to freshen things up. But the benches are still shitty and uncomfortable, and the hugs are still warm and welcoming. Despite everything, my Brigadoon is back, and all is right with the world.

Amusements from Cast Call:

Most people didn’t have their passes punched. Or their packets of stuff (comps, food books, parking pass). The Boss Of Us made everyone who needed something stand up and number off to four, then split office hours into four sections and assigned one to each number so everyone wouldn’t be there at once. The disorganization wasn’t surprising. What was funny was that for a bit everyone thought he was kidding about counting off by numbers. And then BJ started cracking jokes about the number game from Storm. I’m vain enough to find that flattering and funny.

All the assistant office people are in red shirts. So are all three people in the knife-throwing act. You’d think at a Renaissance festival you’d run into enough Trekkies that SOMEONE would’ve told them this might not be such a great idea…

The rest of the weekend was fast and wonderful. Some highlights:

– Front Gate song went for half an hour the first day (the pain! THE PAIN!), though less the second. The Muppet hands still make me giggle.

- I signed up to be one of the water bearers at the end of Parade. The plastic pitchers are sooo much lighter than what we used to use at Cottage when post-parade was still on the Green. They hold more water, too! People are still just as grateful, which is almost sad… after all, I’ve got the easy job. They’re the ones that just walked the entire site in the blazing sun.

- Re-discovered that Gypsy belts are magnets for little girls. On several occasions I wound up captive to a small child making the bells jingle, then watching them burst into fits of glee when I’d shimmy and make the whole thing go off at once. It inspired one child to run in circles singing the spontaneously created “Ding Dong” song, after which she segued into her ABC’s. I can see why Twig the Fairy loves what she does.

- Discovered that the broadsheets are actually inside the programs this year. I like it – very slick looking, and it means the patrons only have to carry one thing. Usually you’d get one member of the group with the map, one with the broadsheet, and about half the time they’d get separated so you couldn’t refer to the map (crappy and inaccurate as it is) when trying to explain where someone was going. The program itself is slim – much moreso than in years past, but at least there is one this year. For the last couple seasons they’ve just handed out the brochure. I assume this was intended to save money, but to me brochures seem more like a promotional item you’d get at a hotel’s Local Attractions stand. I thought it looked half-assed and unprofessional to hand them out at the gate, though I never heard anyone actually say anything about it, so maybe it was just me. In any event – love the new format and hoping they do it again next year.

- Helped around Irish Cottage – cooking, chatting with patrons, joking with other cast-members. Knocked the rust off my historical knowledge of Our Irish Cottage vs. The Real Thing (I love it when patrons get curious). At one point a lady (in costume; don’t know if she was cast or playtron) poked her head in to ask if those were our kittens trying to escape from the picnic basket. They belonged to the show on the front lawn, but as everyone from the show had gone on a wondander, we were the closest thing to Responsible People In Charge Of Stuff. Investigation turned up three small black-and-white fuzzballs in the picnic basket (lid had been bungee-corded shut; one kitten was trying to squeeze through a hole in the wicker that was only big enough for his muzzle). The kittens were in the state one would imagine them in, given the excessive heat and the not excessive air circulation of a picnic basket. We fetched some water and spent the next while wetting them down and trying to get them to drink. One of the three had to have the water taken away before he glutted himself and barfed; the other two required coaxing, but by the end all three were doing well by the time their owners returned. We wetted down the rabbits, too, but they weren’t interested in drinking from the cup, so we could only hope that if we got them wet enough they’d lick some of it off themselves. They, too, were looking a bit more lively by the time their owner came back. I’m very grateful to that person (didn’t learn her name) who came up and asked us… I’d never thought to check in on the animals since they weren’t mine. I guess the universe does make sure the right people come together to take care of the helpless, sometimes, though I feel bad that they were suffering and I was twenty feet away and oblivious. Guess that’s a lesson to me to open my eyes more…

- Played local guide for a many families of patrons trying to find one place or another. I think I need to check out a few minutes of the new acts, as I got broadsided with a couple of the questions.

- Sat as part of the peasant net for Vilification Tennis. Lots of fun new insults, some of them from a fourteen-year-old girl who had commendable projection and delivery. She adds a fun dimension to the show – proves that it’s not just us jaded grown-ups that are warped!

- Reading/signing spots went well. It took me a bit to get my groove on, and I think I need to make a sign that says the CD offerings are NOT audio-books. I’d figured that marketing the three novels on one CD would make that obvious (every audio-book I’ve encountered is a several CD pack for ONE book) but maybe people thought I had the rest of the set in the back somewhere.

- Happened by Vagabond as Finn was singing “Mystic Lady” (one of his originals from back when I was a rookie) at the stained glass shop across from Cottage. This is awesome because the guy who owns the shop plays fiddle beautifully; I close my eyes and pretend it’s Tremayne. (Style’s not quite the same, but still.)

- Caught a bit of the Robin Hood/Sheriff of Nottingham show-down at the end of the day. I’m still getting used to the new cast (my brain keeps insisting that the Sheriff ought to look like the old Sheriff; Sir Guy ought to look like the one we mugged back by C-gate, etc.) but I enjoyed the show, stage combat included.

- Played foxtail with BJ in one of the open areas near Bad Manor… awesome end to the weekend. I will say, in all fairness, that he is a billion times better at throwing than I am.

- After Cannon a while we wound up plopping in the shade of the Information Booth and chatting about random stuff while people would come, join the conversation for a bit, and drift off. I love the winding-down feel of the end of the day. Eventually hefted myself to my feet, gave BJ a hand up, and we wandered with Jim down to C-gate. BJ headed to the campground, and Jim and I just about got down on our knees and worshipped the bus that meant we didn’t have to walk the rest of the way to the pit. Except then we would’ve had to get back up, and neither of us were sure we could.

- Drove home, took a glorious shower, and fell into bed.

Overall, the weekend was a complete raving success. For most of it I was grinning so hard that it’s amazing my face didn’t crack in half and fall off. And you know it’s good when you don’t even mind that you’re sweating to death.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

5:58PM - Three Days for Weekend Three

Weather was a bit bakier than I prefer, but not as hot as it's been in years past, and not downpouring rain, so happy things there.

To get the obvious out of the way first, my three favorite names for the new parking situation in the gravel quary:

1. Death Valley
2. The Dust Bowl
3. Never-Never Land (as in: second car to the right and straight on till morning)

And, of course, one can't forget the joke: "Minnesota Renaissance Festival - where parking is the pits!"

As another somewhat business-related aside, I'm always a little stunned to find performers who are put out by folks who dress up and come out as Capt. Sparrow and similar characters (although Jack is by far the most popular at the moment). Yes, it did get a little silly when the movie first came out and you could spot fourteen of them in a walk from one side of the grounds to the other. When you think about it, though - they're just like us. They want to put on fun clothes and play make-believe for a while. They support our fantasy. Why shouldn't we support theirs? I've heard the argument that it's because they're playing somebody else's character... but so are the entertainers who play hobbits, and I've not noticed people looking down on them.

(Personally I'd love to see someone come as Capt. Barbosa or Will Turner or Elizabeth, just for variety, but I suppose they're not quite as immediately identifiable.)

I'm also saddened by the term "Twig-wannabe" for folks who come as fairies. Don't get me wrong; I adore Twig. I love watching her work, and I think she is a magnificent example/portrayal of the Fae. But all of Faery is not one person, no matter how amazing, and I've always gotten the impression that the Fae would take umbrage at being pigeon-holed.

Sure, the costumes might not be the best... whether it's Jack, Xena, Fae, or other - but over the years I've seen some participant costumes that weren't any better.

Just my opinion, of course, but I spent enough time in the public school system being scorned that I hate to see people take the time to put on their best stitches in hope of being invited to play only to get looked down on by the very people they admire.

(Not all characters in my books share this opinion, of course - but they're not required to.)

Anyway - random exposition aside, here are the tidbits from the weekend:

- Holy crap a lot of people read my taller half's livejournal. Many thanks to all who flagged me down because of it.

- I find I don't miss the Falconer stage so much now that the Fandazzis are there making magic. That area seems like it was made just for them. (I will, however, forever hate the King's Dungeon.)

- I chatted with an artist who had been at Fest since the very beginning - and was gifted a copy of the coloring book he'd drawn back in 1976, full of pictures of the landscape back then. (This was after BJ bragged about getting one and I drooled, so he offered to introduce me.)

- The Dregs have a zombie chicken song. I now have it stuck in my head. (Buck buck buck brains!)

- It always surprises me how grateful people are when you offer to take the place of the person behind the camera so the whole group can be in the photo. Such little things can bring happiness.

- Recognition by a group of patrons I'd played with earlier in the day is such an ego boost - always nice to know I made an impression!

- Peasant Rolling Grovel is just as much fun as a spotter as it is as a groveler

- The Four Pints Shy CD is awesome - their recording of "Honest Man" is worth the price of the album right there.

- Playing with patrons that come through Irish Cottage - and of course the denizens of the cottage itself - is one of life's great pleasures

- Pounding the snot out of some cinnamon in a mortar is very cathartic. yay percussive therapy!

- The highest form of recycling is re-use. I delivered a broken and dirty Nuk to Como Cottage to hang on their Gator Trophies display (are pacifiers like Pringles for gators?)

- Lorelei visited! Yay for the rafters ringing with "Meadowlark" once again.

- It's fun to torment Taffy (in a good way) as he patrols the Free Beer Tasting show (Or, at least, I assume it was a good way. He didn't complain.)

- I got bit by something that left two small puncture marks on my left forearm and caused it to swell in a mildly alarming way. Thankfully a Ziploc bag of ice from the First Aid folks seemed to take care of the problem

- I bought both books in Dana Baird's Spellkeeper series. I can't wait to read more about the Intrepid Ellie!

- Kids are endlessly entertaining. I played with a little princess and her long balloon, which I dubbed a pink snake and said she must be very powerful to have charmed it to do her bidding. She wound up chasing me around with it, which seemed to amuse the hell out of her parents.

- On that theme, I also played with Fiona for a while - and I am now finding collateral glitter in all sorts of interesting places. (Damn stuff migrates.) She's such a little sweetie and full of hugs. On Monday for my reading I set up my books on the floor and plopped down cross-legged behind them, and she recognized story time when she saw it and parked herself in my lap. She proceeded to determine the playlist by spontaneously picking one or another of them up and saying I needed to read from that one next. This reduced deliberating on my part - quite welcome as my brain had entirely left the building by then. She also helped me pack everything up, and I told her I needed to hire her as a roadie. Her mom said I could pay her in brownie bars, which sounds good to me.

- I am forever humbled by the unswerving belief my family (both blood and chosen) has in me - especially when my own is acting like a poorly aligned shopping cart

- Even when the floorboards are different, the broom is different, and so is my garb... sweeping Cottage's floor still feels the same

Thursday, September 3, 2009

7:25PM - Weekend Two

The parking gods were gracious and produced a better spot than the one I had last week, although that is apparently short-lived. The Powers that Be are unhappy about the amount of parking lot the participants take up and how that really needs to be going to patrons. So they're going to be putting us all in the pit on the other side of the campground, with shuttles running until ten in the morning, a few more around noon, and then some after final cannon. They realize that some people have medical, etc. needs to not be parked there, and so 22 people will get passes.

Um. only 22 people get to have problems? How's that work? I understand that a lot of people will make crap up just to not have to park down there (can't blame them) - but it seems to me that if there are, for example, 54 legitimate issues (medical or otherwise), that somebody should go over to the Xerox machine and run off a few more passes. What if 25 people with those handicap parking passes show up and want one? Three of those people get to just not be handicapped anymore? I can understand wanting more parking for the patrons, but perhaps the Fest's owner should've thought of that before he agreed that the people from whom he's leasing the land could blow bits of the lot up.

I have a feeling that this will be as big of a cluster as the last time they declared pit parking. You'll notice it went back to the regular spot.

That was the only real blip on the Fest radar, though - for which I am grateful, as I'd had a crappy and stressful week. It was wonderful to feel it all melt off as I rumbled down the gravel road.

And these are among my many blessings:

Friends to hug and share my excitement - especially BJ and Toni and Taffy and Angus and Angelina and Rachel and Ingrid and Jeff.

Vilification to make me laugh.

Stories from Dana Baird to fill my head with wonder - really, really, go to her reading at Irish Cottage. The bit about the Intrepid Ellie is not to be missed.

Standing on the hill behind Mac's with a couple friends, giddy with joy and possibility and waving to the parade as it passed.

People to listen to my stories - and who like them enough to want to take books home with them. And then come back wanting the next one.

The late afternoon comfort of Irish Cottage, listening to music I haven't heard in years and had forgotten how much I loved. It was strange and wonderful and sad all at once to hear a young man in a broadcloth peasant's outfit sing "The Keeper" in the place that still echoed with the multi-part ghost-harmonies of my Cottage sisters. (Not that "The Keeper" was ever a particular favorite, but it is one I've never heard elsewhere.) I miss mornings of brushing my hair into braids as I watched the wind rustle through Tinker's tree and listened to Mother Superior telling another terribly off-color nun joke - or even just re-tell the one about the leprechaun asking if there were "any wee little nuns about me size". I long to climb up in the rafters and sprawl there to let the music waft up at me from below, to hear Kindred and Gallowglass and Lorelei again and smell Auntie Brie's signature Misty Dream cooking on the fire. Instead I sit in the seanchai chair and think how strange it is that I've actually earned the right to park my butt in that esteemed seat - and to have others offer it to me when I walk in the door.

The kind lady at the exit gate who found my wayward hat-plume and shoved it in a hanging basket of flowers so it wouldn't escape until I returned to fetch it.

Discovering that the candle holders at Cottage aren't vanished - they're just not on display due to a desire to have a more period (and thereby, less candle-festooned) look. That I can understand and highly respect. Just knowing they're still in the house makes me feel better.

Stunningly perfect weather on both days: sun slanty and warm across Festival's grounds on Sunday, making me want to curl up like a cat in a patch of it somewhere and take a nap; wind brisk and a little chill on Saturday - just enough to make me consider the wisdom of a cloak.

The chuckle of a patron at a joke I've just told - even when it's not a particularly good one.

The triumphant grin of the girl-knight on the sliding joust as she got the ring on her lance.

Hearing a band that's been out there as long as the trees sing "Follow Me Up To Carlow" as I was passing the Mead Booth

The knowledge that there are places in the world where a sunset or a song will always remind me that there is beauty in the world and that everything turns out okay in the end, no matter the pain in getting there.

Friday, August 28, 2009

8:50PM - Weekend One - much belated

Let me explain... no, it would take too long. Let me sum up:

- The weather was nearly perfect - warm but not too hot. I think it was mid-70's by afternoon on Saturday. Sunday was warmer but also had more of a breeze. A few more clouds might've been nice, just to take down the glare, but overall we were utterly blessed.

- "Swing Low" was glorious - there's something sublime about standing in the front row and feeling all that music and tradition surround you. Sunday was a little odd - instead of everyone moving up to the stage, they had us just sing from the benches as there are a ton of large props up there now and there are some concerns about the stage's stability with the load of the entire cast on it at once. It was kind of odd, but I suppose will eventually become the new normal. BJ made a funny observation, though: typically those who didn't want to be joiners would just hang back on the benches. If we're all singing from the benches, will the rebels storm the stage?

- Cast Call: kudos to Carr - as every year, there are crafters that are cranky because entertainers are entertaining in front of their booths. We're now supposed to let him know who's giving us hell so he can go tell them to put on their big girl panties and deal. Dude. The entire site is covered in craft booths. If we're not supposed to perform in front of any of them. where the hell are we supposed to perform? (Or as he said - "Look around you. Welcome to Our Shire.")

- Parking sucked. The mining company has blown up the entire lot between the campground/C-gate entrance and First Aid gate. This space has typically been full of rennies. Still, it didn't suck as badly as it could have; Saturday I was only as far out as the B-gate end of Legend Stage, and right next to the road. This made First Aid gate and B-gate equally inconvenient and meant that my car was completely covered with dust from all the cars rumbling by on the gravel road. But considering I'd expected to be somewhere out in the middle of patron parking, it could've been worse. On Sunday I upgraded my situation a bit: same aisle, but only three cars from the top.

- I'd forgotten the beauty of trees and grass covered by a fine layer of dust from passing cars.

- Opening Gate was fun; that Muppet hands thing makes Trinket very happy. Every time. Happy is a good way to start the day.

- Cannon experienced some technical difficulties on Saturday morning, resulting in something that sounded much like a cap gun. Apparently one actor made a crack to the assembled patrons about it being all we could manage in these difficult times. and then begged, when the difficulties continued, "Oh, for Christ's sake, would someone just fart already??"

- There was a little girl on Sunday who noticed Butch's picture in the program - and then realized she'd just seen him. She went scampering back to get his attention, excitedly pointing between him and the brochure as if to say "You're real!" (She might've actually said it, but I couldn't hear over the music.) Such a small moment, and utterly cool.

- Getting to hug friends I haven't seen in months is one of the best things about Opening Day. Even when I not only haven't seen someone for ten months, but haven't really thought of them, I find every year that I'm happy to see their faces.

- Phoenix's tree is completely barren of leaves. I imagine it won't be long before someone decides it must be removed. This saddens me greatly. There are many wonderful trees on site, but I loved that one especially.

- Cottage is under new management, and the folks there are quite fun. Beware Ma's cuss jar, though - regular infractions cost a quarter, and a big one costs fifty cents. Still, it felt good to peel a few spuds and play in the old stomping grounds. which is once again my assigned stage. Half a lifetime later, I'm back where I started. There's something poetic about that.

- I can't believe how empty Cottage is. I'm not talking people - I'm talking props. I know the Persons In Charge have always brought a bit of their own collection, but there were bits I remember unpacking every year from the Cottage bins that weren't there at all. I didn't see the brass platters or any of the candlestick holders, for example, and I'm pretty sure there used to be more cast iron for the hearth. Sad that Cottage gives so much to all who enter and yet some people apparently feel the need to take even more. The missing candle holders broke my heart the most, and I'm not even sure I could explain why. Amusingly enough, there's one large mug made of wood that's still atop the hutch, where I left it somewhere in my second or third year. Apparently no one else wanted it either. I started laughing when I saw it and had to explain myself to (the new) Ma, who declared that they'd all been debating who'd left it there. I said it belonged to Cottage; I'd left it there intentionally. I was just amused that it had become a fixture.

- The Cottage folk did a cool thing with white pearlescent seashells across the mantle - you don't think about it, but a lot of Ireland is coastland. Depending on what county the house is in, that would be entirely reasonable. They've also sorted them out into two types to play on the leather chessboard (cool idea!) and occasionally they'll gift the shells to patron children. There was one who swept the floor while her grandmother was looking at something on the lawn and ended up taking home one of each kind for being such a wonderful help; this thrilled her beyond measure, and she promised to return later in the day. (I'm not sure if she did, but it certainly wasn't for lack of desire.)

- (The new) Da plays the flute beautifully.

- I find it interesting that as much of a blast as I have with Trinket on the street, I find it very nearly impossible to not be Bryn in the Cottage. Guess I'll have split personalities this year.

- The book reading/signing went well - had a small but appreciative audience both days. I'll have to ask to have my listing changed from "Megan Brunner - Book Reading & Signing" to "Faire-Folk Novels - Book Reading & Signing" because as much as I would like to have JK Rowling's awesome amount of name recognition, I'm not quite there yet. On the other hand, it meant that probably no one noticed that my name wasn't spelled right anyway.

- It's wonderful to hear snatches of music as I walk the lanes - from old favorites and new.

- There's a woman telling stories under Tinker's Tree this year - "Fawna - stories from the Deep Forest". She has a bunch of animals (including a hedgehog!) and though I haven't had the chance to sit down and listen to her, she seems to hold kids enraptured. Good one to suggest to any families wondering how to entertain their young'uns.

- We have some new privies. They are a dark green, have copious holes in the floor for the muck (and worse) to run to the ground instead of puddling where you want to stand, include a very substantial lock that it's not possible to accidentally flip open with an errant pouch when turning around, and have a flatter tank area - the better to put a shoulder sack or other such on. The main downside is that there is no coat hook in these, although that could be somewhat remedied by bringing one's own S-hook and hanging it on the pull bar on the door. Also, it would benefit from a shelf, which I've heard some privies have but I have never personally seen. Overall, I like the upgrade.

- Yay for Vilification Tennis! Favorite new insult: "You're so stupid that if you were a Time Lord you'd fly around in a reTARDIS." (I almost peed myself laughing)

- Yay for un-losting people. Still Trinket's favorite pastime, with the possible exception of dancing in puddles. There were, however, no puddles in which to dance. This miracle may be placed firmly at the feet of the grounds crew, as it rained for the entire week previous and by all rights should've been a quagmire out there. Yet there weren't even slick spots - just soft mud, which is actually quite nice as it makes for less pained feet at the end of the day.

- Yay for six more weekends to come back and do it all again!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

9:01PM - Two! Two happy Faire-Folk updates! Ah-ah-ah!

Towards the Fates is live!

All the color issues have been resolved, and it's safe to order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or whatever retailer you prefer. Purchasing links & ISBN numbers can be found at:

<a href="http://www.faire-folk.com/orderinfo.html>http://www.faire-folk.com/orderinfo.html</a> Of course, if you plan to be at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, there is another option - which brings me to happy update #2! I've been asked to read from, sign, and sell my books at the MN RenFest this year! From what I understand, it will be one half-hour spot a day at the Irish Cottage, and it should be listed on the schedule that's handed out at the gate. I am thrilled at the opportunity and hope everyone who is able will stop by... and bring a friend! The more the merrier, and then I won't look like (more of) a loony (than I usually do) reading to the walls. As a side note, this year I have officially been a rennie half my life. I find it fitting that on such a momentous year (well, okay, momentous to me) I wind up back at Cottage, right where I started. Things do run in cycles, don't they?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

11:53PM - Real Office Assholes

(format shamelessly ripped off from the Real Men of Genius commercials)

Today we salute you, Mr. Obnoxious High-Volume Speakerphone Man!

*Mister Obnoxious High-Volume Speakerphone Man!*

You don’t have a lead foot – you have a lead finger.

And it’s stuck on the “VOL UP” key.

*Where is that solvent?*

You either think your cube is soundproof – or that you’re just that important.

Either way, your neighbors can hear every word.

So can the secretary.

Three floors down.

*No need to gossip!*

Conference calls, voice mail messages – even that conversation with your adorable son.

Your personal calls are personal – to the entire office.

*I didn’t need to know that!*

So take another sip out of that corporate-branded coffee mug, Oh King of the Overshare, because you really put the “dick” in “diction”

*Mr. Obnoxious High-Volume Speakerphone Man!*

Current mood: creative

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

10:49PM - Book Three - SUBMITTED! Also, a funny story about life

Well, my I's are crossed and my T's are dotted... and if they're not, it's too late for me to do anything about it.

The final copy of Towards the Fates has gone to the publisher's!

It would have gone a week and a half sooner, but in the grand tradition of things, something came up.

With Into the Storm, my computer busted mere hours before I hit send, necessitating a frantic trip to a computer store not far from Witch's Hat Tower where a tech goddess disguised as a mortal managed to resuscitate my laptop.

With this book, it was the internet, and the timing was beyond belief.

My brilliant Photoshop Guy, Brent, has a newer version of the software than me (and probably a far more twinked computer) and I'd been having trouble opening the files he sent. Back and forth we went until we hit on the solution. I can sometimes check my mail at work and caught the auto-alert from Facebook that he'd sent me a message to check our FTP site. I cannot, however, get FTP from work, so I had to beg my partner to have pity on my impatient self and download and send me the files as I knew I wouldn't survive the curiosity for another four hours.

I got the files, nearly cried in joy at their beauty... and then got a phonecall from my partner that the internet had gone down, stranding all of my interior art on the server.

A few days later we found out that "gone down" actually meant "the insane neighbor in the unit behind us decided the cables in the garage were unsightly, and so removed 15' of them."

A week and a half of fighting with Comcast later, someone finally came out to drill a hole under our driveway in order to run a new cable through, as the neighbor kept swearing he'd called Comcast back, and Comcast kept swearing he hadn't.

So the drillers came, we got internet back (although only because the cable is run through our patio doors; the people to drill into the house won't arrive until the 23rd) - and promptly lost phone connection.

Initially we suspected that a line had been severed; not so - apparently we just needed to unplug every phone in the house, wait five minutes, and plug them back in. Who would've guessed? Still, I'm a fan of the simple solution.

I'm an even bigger fan of the automated phone call we got at seven that evening, saying that our service ticket had been closed, and that if we were still experiencing difficulties we should call back. So, basically, "Hi, we're calling to say that your phone is working. If your phone is not working, please call us." - although of course if our phone was not working, we wouldn't have gotten the call to tell us that it ought to be.

And hence this long and (hopefully somewhat) amusing post just to say this:

Stuff submitted! YAY!

Also, artwork pretty: go see! http://www.faire-folk.com

Thursday, April 30, 2009

2:00AM - It seemed like such a good idea at the time...

It started off so innocently: it was 1:45. I woke hungry. There are hard-boiled eggs in the fridge.

And then I thought, wistfully, of how they always taste better when they're fresh out of the pot.

So I put them in the microwave.

I have a friend whose mom blew the door off the microwave by trying to cook an egg, but somehow I thought it was the shell that did the deed.

It wasn't.

My microwave was in tact when the process completed, although thank the gods I decided to go for a spoon instead of just biting in. I immediately discovered:

- A hard-boiled egg recently subjected to a microwave will go off like a firecracker when pierced by a spoon

- A hard-boiled egg recently subjected to a microwave is very, very hot

- I really should've put my glasses on before attempting this experiment.

I stumbled to the bathroom, blinded, and started flushing my eyes with water. When the pain subsided enough for me to open them, I was relieved to find they were just red and I had not suffered any major damage. I did learn something else:

Few things will give me the giggles at 2 AM quite like the sight of myself covered in exploded hard-boiled egg. Face, hair, pajammas (thank goodness we had the windows open, so I wasn't sleeping in the nude) - everything.

And then, staggering back to the kitchen, I learned something further:

One of those few things that will give me the giggles at 2 AM more than the sight of myself covered in exploded hard-boiled egg is the sight of the KITCHEN covered in exploded hard-boiled egg.

Ho.Ly. Crap. I kid you not, it looked like a bomb went off in there. Eggs have a deceptively high volume for their size, especially when it's reduced to bits the size of Nerds candy.

I think there could be military applications for this; I really do.

Weapons of Mass Stupidity, anyone?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

10:12PM - How I Love Garage Sales - Let Me Count The Ways

I've heard that smell is supposed to be the most powerful memory trigger out there.

For me, it's weather. Most weather (except snow) reminds me of Fest, but that warming-up of Spring? That reminds me of garage sales.

Had my first major outing of the season. I knew it would be a good one when my first stop scored me three lava lamps and a HUGE oriental rug, all for $20, from a really cool long-haired guy with a Celtic knot necklace.

The other more practical scores (new humidifier, a couple work shirts, etc.) are boring to anyone except my household, I'm certain, but I must say that I made the best haul since my beloved garage sale partner departed for the west coast.

Not one but TWO musical instruments followed me home.

#1, for $15, a mandolin - but not. It looks for all the world like my bow-back mandolin... except that it has twelve tuning pegs. The nut only shows eight grooves, the plate at the bottom only has eight prongs for string loops (or would if a couple hadn't broken off), and the neck isn't any wider than my current mandolin's. But the head, aside from being longer to accommodate more pegs, doesn't look as if someone put the head from a 12-string guitar on it or anything. Perhaps it had a repair job at some point from someone who only had mandolin parts available? I'm truly stumped. It does need a decent bit of repair work (new nut, new plate on the bottom, small crack on the back probably due to drying out, about half the inlaid rectangles on the edge have fallen off) but to my untrained eye it doesn't look like a lost cause. The woman said it was a family heirloom, but that no one had the time or inclination to do anything with it. I couldn't bear the thought of someone picking it up to put on display as an antique curiosity, so I promised I'd get it repaired as soon as I have the cash. At least with me it'll have other instrument friends.

This brings the tally in our house up to: 3 fiddles (2 full size; 1 3/4-size), 2 mandolins (if you count this one), 2 acoustic guitars, 1 electric guitar, 1 cello, 2 bodhrans, a set of pennywhistles, a set of recorders, 1 lap harp, 1 bazouki, and countless random percussion-type things (shakers, blocks, bells, tambourines, zills, etc.)

One might notice a particular gap in this array - which was filled by my other score:

#2, for $50, a Casio CTK-551 electronic keyboard, with stand, stool, AC adapter, and a handful of books (including the manual). From a random google, the keyboard itself cost about $200-$300 new back in 2000, the stool still sells for $20-$40, the stand goes for another $20, as does the adapter. No idea about the books. So I'm feeling pretty swanky about this. I was trying to teach myself piano in junior high and enjoyed it a lot, but moved on to more portable instruments once I started Fest. The piano still lives with my parents, of course, so I've entirely lost what skill I had. This looks like it's designed for the idiot beginner, though, so I have hopes of surpassing my previous abilities in short order.

It was a good day.

Current mood: cheerful

Saturday, April 25, 2009

1:46AM - D'oh!

Well, that was brilliant.

I drove to the grocery store, got there, and realized that my snack-holder (purse) was still at home.

Crap.

Drove home, grabbed it, drove back to the grocery. Thought, "you know, it might be wise to just leave a credit card hidden in the car for times such as these." Reached into my snack-holder.

Discovered that my wallet had fallen out at home.

/facepalm

I gave up at that point. Obviously there is a higher power at work here that does not want me fetching groceries tonight.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

12:34PM - Update - Towards the Fates (Book 3)

It's been far too long since my last update on Towards the Fates, the third book in the Pendragon Faire Trilogy. My profuse apologies for that - but I can never quite think of what to say once the first draft is done. (I'm editing! Still editing! Yup, editing. Not done editing, but closer!)

For those curious, my editing process generally looks something like this:

Draft 2 - I try to smooth stuff out before subjecting others to it
Draft 3 - Incorporates edits (based on Draft 2) from a few select folks who know my stuff almost as well as I do
Draft 4 - Incorporates edits from my second tier of editors, who make sure what I changed in Draft 3 makes sense
Draft 5 - Another smoothing-over from me, then incorporates last opinions from my two top editors
Draft 6 - A final paper edit by yours truly to catch all the stuff I glazed past on the computer screen

With that said, I just completed Draft 6 yesterday. I still need to transfer the notes from the paper into the actual files, but that doesn't ultimately take much time.

What next?

I need to finish working with Palidyn on the art and get everything (including the covers) in the proper format for submission to the publisher. Then comes the waiting game while it swims through the system and eventually comes out the other end looking like a book.

If all goes well, it should be available for purchase sometime late this summer (I'm thinking August-ish, but can't say for certain at this point).

Keep your fingers crossed for a swift and complication-free journey!

Current mood: accomplished

Sunday, January 25, 2009

7:29PM - Adventures in Homeownership - when it rains, it pours

Things I learned this weekend:

- I can fix my furnace when it refuses to start
- Having a furnace that won't start freaks me out considerably less than going downstairs to find a pipe gushing water at the rate of five gallons a minute
- A bathroom-sized trash basket fills up very fast
- Bailing water is easier if you take your bathrobe off and do it nude
- Hot water + cement floor + bare feet = ouch
- There are far too many knobs and levers in the basement
- Two of them shut off the water to the house. (They were the last two I tried)
- Having the dirty laundry on the floor will occasionally save your ass
- How to replace a valve in a hot water heater
- How to weld a copper pipe
- How to re-light the pilot light in my water heater (safely)
- How to drain the crud out of the bottom of my water heater
- If you forget to turn off the water to the drain at the bottom of the water heater, a few minutes after the water starts filling the heater, the hose will whip around, spraying everything in sight
- No matter how old I get, my dad is still my knight in shining armor

Current mood: frazzled

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