Event Review - Estrella War 2005 - by Zubeydah

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This page contains an event review by Zubeydah. This represents solely her opinion and views/thoughts at the time of writing, and do NOT reflect upon her Barony, her Region, her mentors and friends, or anyone else.

I’d like to start my review with a heartfelt and humbly profuse apology: I promised Ansteorra I would be doing non-contact waterbearing for all of Saturday. Instead, I only was able to do so for about thirty minutes. Two of the family members I had come to the War to see were dreadfully ill, and I felt it was better to spend the time with them, rather than leave them alone and run off and do what I pleased. I am sorry I was not there to support our troops, especially given my enthusiastic pledge of support – but family had to come first… and I really needed the time with them.

Prep for Estrella started a month ago: working on garb, ordering supplies, figuring out what to bring, etc. Sewing started two weeks prior, with some things working out (a sling for my water bottles) and far more not working out (a gahwazhi that I just couldn’t make fit properly, a tunic for my ex-brother-in-law that turned out to have a very subtle stain in entire length of the fabric, and a blue silk entari, that turned out to be too small through the bustline.) My order of chocolate arrived on Monday, and I immediately started working on the chocolates I wanted to make. Through the graces of an understanding boss, I was able to take Thursday off to have an extra day of actual prep work. That was a lifesaver. I’d been searching all week to try and find a new camera, to replace the crummy one that replaced the camera damaged at Wiesenfeuer Yule. Three trips to Wal-Mart later, five phone calls, and I finally found one in stock. Film! Can’t forget film… a rain poncho… a hat to sleep in at night… so much to locate, so much to pack.

Yards of fabric, pounds of chocolate, and two suitcases later, I had things packed and ready to go, around 1 am on Friday morning. One of the more challenging items to figure out was how to address the possibility that security screeners might open my luggage. I packed all the ‘oddball’ items that might trip alarms to one side on the top, and wrote them a cheery note that would hopefully seem non-threatening, directing them to the aforementioned Weird Stuff. The other item of concern was a leather and feather mask, and a leather bodice that I was bringing for my sister to try on. I didn’t want the delicate mask to be crushed or damaged.

My flight didn’t leave until 12:20 p.m., but I wanted to be at the airport early. I was up at 6:45, doing all the ‘last minute’ stuff. Abe dropped me off right at 10:30 on his way to work, and I sailed through check-in and security, arriving at the gate at about 10:45. Fortunately, I’d brought a good book. I had a delightful elderly couple to chat with, and I told them a little about where I was going, and doing. I gave them a bar of chocolate just for fun. They were neat folks. I was flying Southwest Airlines, which has a direct flight to Phoenix, but has unassigned seating, so we were standing in line for some time. I’d never flown with that airline before, and it was a little weird.

There were some delays with the flight into Phoenix, which is an enormous airport of a fair amount of complexity. I quickly found that white was not the best color for luggage, though it made my bag easy to spot. I’d purchased a extra roomy sport utility bag on Thursday, finding one that was very water resistant, and with the ability to float, just in case of additional flooding at the site. I used sharpie markers to create an Ansteorran Water-Star on the side, just in case anyone else was loony enough to have a white bag. (It wasn’t particularly white by the time the baggage handlers got done with it.)

Collecting my belongings, I bodily dragged them to the Supershuttle pickup station – I’d packed far too much, and that white bag was beyond my ability to lift and carry. Supershuttle had no idea who I was, had no record of my reservation, and the man at curbside did not appear particularly willing or interested in helping me get there. I called the central reservations office, and after some shenanigans, managed to convince them to send a van, which arrived about twenty minutes later.

Just as we were about to leave, there was a call for another passenger to the Estrella Park. This was good, because the driver had no idea where the park was – nor did his dispatch office. The fellow who joined us was an older, large man. I never caught his name, but I do recall that he was a dance laurel, and was worried about getting on site and in garb in time to judge a competition being held in two hours. I think he was from the Midrealm. Fortunately, between my fellow passenger and a map book, we managed to find our way there.

Arriving on site, I was through gate in a matter of moments, then went back outside with my book to await my sister Dominique and her beloved Derek (mundanely, Carrie and Matt). They were en route, and expected to arrive within the hour. They got stuck in rush hour traffic, so it was a little closer to an hour and a half or three-quarters, but as I had a good book, it was no big deal, as the rain didn’t really get too pesky. It was just so good to see them. I was concerned, though, because my sister was hacking and coughing, and looked positively miserable. She explained that they’d both been violently ill all week, but were determined not to cancel plans. They’d packed and prepared for the trip with temperatures of over 100! Ack! Now that is sisterly love!

We decided to immediately head over to the Caer Galen camping area, and get things set up before it got dark, and the huge, ominous clouds above made good the threat they embodied. Well, that was the plan, anyway. Night soon fell and we were still staking things down, setting up rain flies and otherwise making things ship-shape. There was also a bit of a challenge fitting three cots into the large tent, which was shaped vaguely like a Y. But with some creative math and arrangements on Dominique’s part, we had a workable solution. Blessings upon Derek, once we had the beds in place, he arranged positively ‘princess and the pea’ style cots for each of us, determined we would be comfortable and WARM, as opposed to the 2003 Estrella we all shivered through. I swear that the blankets and padding rose a full foot above the surface of the cots, and included l-rests, egg-carton foam pads, feather down comforters and even a sheepskin! This, in addition to Abe’s military arctic-rated sleeping bag, made for a cozy environment.

We also set up a side tent, for supplies, armor, and other mundanities to be kept out of sight. Dominique had planned wisely, and brought a stainless steel three-shelf rack, in case of bad weather, to hold things out of the mud and wet. As we unpacked, a group of drummers began to pound out a rhythm about 20 feet away; a huge wagon was stacked with at least four kettle drums and some other sizes and types. The sound was tremendous and infectious - I couldn’t help dancing and wiggling as I worked, which earned me a grin from Dominique.

One item of concern was the space available; Caer Galen had made reservations for 40, but somehow in the process of other camps being set up, their space had been absconded with. We three had one corner, by the front gate – they had kept that open for us, but others in their group had been forced to camp elsewhere, which was upsetting to the group. We also had some very determined miners and sappers in the area: it was rife with gophers! They were positively bold and adorable, and at one point their names were listed off. I don’t recall them now. We didn’t want to set up anything on top of their tunnels, but it swiftly became apparent that the entire park was one giant gopher warren.

Caer Galen was in the process of eating dinner as we puttered about. I got to meet many of them –one of which I had met before; ‘the indomitable Marquise Genevieve’. . . who we then learned was now a Her Excellency, elevated to Baroness that day (I think…). Genevieve is an old friend of my sister’s, and I had met her almost twenty years prior, just a few times, when I first got involved in the SCA. It was good to see her again. She was dressed in a marvelous ensemble that made her look like a Great Khan or Eastern Steppes war-queen, with high red leather boots and a coat of marvelous manufacture. I also met Baron Massimiliano Pontieri dal Sasso (Max) who is the founding Baron of Caer Galen (they became a barony only last year). He was very, very nice, with a welcoming smile and a great sense of humor. I was also able to meet the Lady Cecilly, who originated the spiced nuts recipe that I’ve enjoyed making for largess and gift baskets for the last year. She tried some of the nuts I’d brought, and declared that she liked my variant and approved.

While we were in the process of getting set up, but towards the end, after all the tents were up, the rain began to fall. We were glad so much had been accomplished. At one point, we paused for some much-needed food and a bit of rest. I trotted out the chocolates I’d been making, and Dominique fetched salmon, a fruit and nut filled bread, cream cheese, some amazing aged cheddar, hard boiled eggs… it was a feast fit for nobility, and it tasted wonderful.

At long last everything was ready and we settled down in our chairs around the fire, and relaxed for a few minutes… but not for long! It was decided to find the encampment of Clan McKillinkay, where our brother and other family members were staying. I packed up the batch of chocolates I’d made specifically for the clan. We hid our mundanity in large fleece-lined wool cloaks (I am determined to make one of my own before next winter season!) and headed out. On the way, we passed by the Calontir camp. I looked for Ansteorrans, but didn’t see any. I did spot Guardian Nasir, and asked if Sir Sheridan was present. He stated that Sir Sheridan’s mother had taken ill, and that he wasn’t able to participate as much. I asked if there was a way I could get the Guardian pendant to Sir Sheridan. He stated that he would pass it along to His Grace, JoeAngus, and that JoeAngus would see Sir Sheridan in a relatively short span. I thanked him for his aid, and rejoined our merry band.

Baroness Benza showed us the way through the darkness: Down the road, a left turn, a right turn, and dog-leg left at the round nomadic-style, tassel-draped tent that was her home, and we found them! The party was well in swing in Mordrake’s large blue and gold pavilion, and we were welcomed. It was great to see my brother Nathaniel (Joshua) and my adopted brother, Mordrake; I’d not seen Nate in almost two years, and it had been far longer since I saw Mordrake (Mordrake was married to my sister, Dominique, for many years. They parted on good terms, and all of my siblings including Dominique still consider him part of the family). Nate was leaner, and his arms bulked up from learning pole-arm. He looked great in his garb, and he wore the amber necklaces I’d given him for Christmas, which he was proud of. His brothers in the clan treated him with respect and it was clear he had earned his place. He’s found his niche, and it makes me so very glad.

They were drumming as we entered, with a lithe young woman dancing at the center of the tent garbed in gypsy cabaret style. We crowded in out of the rain, and enjoyed her performance. During a break, I passed around the chocolates; some bars of milk chocolate and peanut butter swirl, made fancy with a contrasting color used in the Celtic knots on the mold, then one of each of the other types I’d made. This included milk chocolate with vanilla-toasted almonds and English toffee, dark chocolate with pecan, dark chocolate with mint, and Milk Chocolate with Almond. I also had truffles: Dark Chocolate with Gentleman Jack Daniel’s Whiskey, Milk Chocolate with Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum, and White Chocolate with Kahlua and Cream. The sounds of amazement and delight as they were devoured positively made my day.

It had been a long day, so after about an hour, we headed back to camp. Soon it was bedtime, and we crawled eagerly into the wonderful nest-beds Derek had crafted. The night passed fitfully, due to the drumming nearby, the pounding rain, Dominque’s sinuses, and the general weirdness of being out of doors. But at least we were WARM.

Rising in the morning was a slow process. Dominique was feeling horrid, as the humidity and different climate had played merry hell with her upper respiratory tract. I felt so bad for her, and wished there was more I could do. None of us had slept particularly well, but we were generally pleased with how well the tent had held up, given the constant rain. There were some leaks here and there, but they were relatively minor. Our biggest concern was if the rain continued on its current level, how well would things hold up?

We struggled into garb, and Derek donned his armor and went to go get inspected. Of course, I had to snap his photo. A trip to Merchants Row to find some coffee was decided upon, so we braved the mud and with only a few side-trips into various shops to ooh and ahhh, we found coffee and hot chocolate. Breakfast back at camp was a delicious affair of the bread I’d made, as well as bacon and eggs and potatoes spiced with curry (?), made by the Caer Galen folks.

The most of Saturday was spent wandering merchant’s row, taking naps, short trips to see more of the Merchant’s Row, and talking to folks in camp – Dominique and I found a vendor that sold hats ( as well as beautiful wicker and woven baskets - The Basketman: www.thebasketman.com). She got one of a soft taupe, and I picked out one in a bright blue. To my surprise, she bought it for me as a gift. It helped keep off the rain, and added to the atmosphere. It kept trying to fly off, as I hadn’t figured out a hatband option yet. I found the Crafty Celts booth, and picked up an item I’d spotted on their website: A bronze torc style bracelet, with Gryphon head ends, for Abe. I wasn’t sure if he’d like the matching pendant, so I just picked up the bracelet for starters. (www.craftycelts.com) There were tons of wonderful vendors, with a huge variety of wares. I could have easily spent hundreds, but restrained myself. Barely.

Back at camp, we decided it would be wise to cover all the beds with plastic, in case of more rain. We bundled up all our gear in giant garbage bags as a preventative measure, and laid more bags over the beds. During this time, Dominique tried on the leather leaf bodice and the mask. It fit! And Derek approved, as well… it will be the basis of her costume for the upcoming Carnivale event in Caer Galen.

I snapped photos here and there of the goings on, but was a little concerned about drenching my spiffy new camera. A few times, we stopped by the battlefield. I was able to introduce Dominique to Sieur Jean-Paul de Sens during one pause in the action. I tried to find as many Black Stars as I could on the field, but most were folks I didn’t recognize. Here and there, I saw the rare maroon and gold of the Liondragon Guard, but never got a chance to say Hi.

Mid-day, I contacted my husband, Abe, and asked for his help in securing a hotel room. We were pretty sure the tent (and we) wasn’t going to be up to another night of solid rain. He was able to find one at a good price for us, which lifted a huge burden of worry from us. Nathaniel’s friend, Baroness Benza, had been completely flooded the night before, and had a soaking wet futon. It was decided that we would give her the two cots Derek and Dominique had been sleeping on, as well as the bedding, since we would be at the hotel.

At a break around lunchtime, Derek returned from the field, having gotten a good whacking that left him a bit out of sorts. Given the unsure footing and a prior knee injury, he felt it safest not to risk a worse injury, and besides: there was the pleasure of our company! While Dominique and Derek had a little time together, I slipped out to the field with my water bottles. There, I found Sir Owen ap Aeddan during one of the holds. It was good to see a familiar face. He told me to ‘put down those jugs and give me a hug!’ which I promptly did. I again saw some of the Liondragon Guard on the field – I think one of them was Charles. Just as I was departing, I spotted His Grace, Duke Patrick Michael being helped off the field. He was obviously in great pain, and barely put any weight on his right leg. Another gentleman carried the Duke’s sword, shield, and other gear, including a waterbearer’s flask. I asked if I could help, and they gave me the flask to carry. Duke Patrick Michael was moved to the side of the field, where a chirurgeon very carefully assisted him in putting his knee back into alignment in the joint. There were offers to get him a chair, a cart, anything; he was worried that if he sat down, he might not be able to get up again. Feeling that I wasn’t really needed, I headed to the waterbearer station to return the jug.

During the afternoon, I had a bit of a breather during which I’d once again got separated from Dominique and Derek and Nate. I headed back to camp, and decided to go ahead and clear off two of the cots. I tried tidying things up a bit, so as to make my presence in the camp less intrusive. I bagged up all the blankets and such, and had them ready to go by the time my brother arrived to pick them up. He and Derek piled them onto a cart, and off we went. I helped them get things set up in HE Benza’s nomadic tent, which involved some wiggling about and re-arranging of existing items (including the tent pole), but at last, it all fit inside. She had the loveliest tassels all over her tent, and with her permission, I snapped a photo. I think this is something I’d like to replicate for my own encampment, to make its mundanity less offensive to the eye.

When I was done with that, I decided to try and find the Ansteorran encampment. I vaguely recalled someone mentioning its location as being on the way to McKillinkay’s, so I wandered that way with some chocolates. Along one of the main roads, I spotted the King’s shield, leaning up against a large pavilion. I knocked on one of the poles, and there found King Ulstead along with some of his entourage. They were packing up and getting ready to hit the road. I offered them some of the chocolates, though Ulstead stuck to his Atkins diet and demurred. I was pointed in the direction of more Ansteorrans, and quickly found the Mooneschadin. Sieur Jean-Paul was positively shivering and nearly blue with cold, and had a huge welt under his left eye. Sir Owen was relaxed, kicked back in a chair, and Sir Rabbit and his lady Colette, as well as some others I didn’t recognize were also there. I offered them all chocolates, and the goodies quickly disappeared, despite my stern warning that some contained alcohol. Jean-Paul retired for a moment to change into warmer mundanes, returned to grab another white chocolate with kahlua and cream, then dashed off. It seemed that they were on the verge of heading out once the tent was out of the way, so I headed off with Charles, who had arrived too late to get any chocolate. I walked him back to our camp and gave him one of each to try, along with a bar of white chocolate with pecans, orange essence and coconut for Sieur Jean-Paul. (Sieur Jean-Paul has a grave weakness for white chocolate, I must confess.)

On my wanderings, I did run into His Grace, JoeAngus, and asked him if Sir Nasir had given him the Guardian item. He was a bit confused who I was referring to at first (I had mistakenly thought that Nasir, the twenty-third Guardian of Mooneschadowe was a knight – he was not), but when we sorted that out, he told me that no, he did not have it yet, but would look for it.

The day passed quickly, and soon night fell. The atmosphere seemed to change, as the weather had cleared for a time. The site erupted into parties, drumming, and dancing. HE Genevieve and my sister created a delicious dinner of chicken parmesana, and there was some of Dominique’s world-famous, luscious, thick, creamy New York style cheesecake, with a choice of home made sauces on the top – cherries or toasted caramel, for dessert. I had a lovely chat with Sir John (whose last name I did not catch), who had wonderful things to say about an Ansteorran knight from "Moon…something…" who had danced so divinely that it had been a joy and wonder to watch him perform at the dance competition. I was delighted to identify this Ansteorran Peer: Sieur Jean-Paul de Sens. Sir John also relayed that half the women of the Outlands would be disappointed when they learned Sieur Jean-Paul was to be wed; he had cut such a dashing and courteous figure, that surely hearts would be greatly sore that he was not an available catch.

The folk of Caer Galen had a fire built up in a portable firepit, which was really lovely. I hunkered down in a warm cloak and enjoyed their company, while Dominique and Derek enjoyed some time together wandering Merchant’s Row. At one point, the conversation turned to mischief, and I surprised everyone by saying I’d never gotten into any trouble at SCA events. They didn’t believe me at first, and someone declared, "But half the fun of the SCA is Mischief!" It was decided forthwith that Mischief was Required. When I suggested that maybe bombarding people in the dark with water balloons wasn’t nice, everyone assured me that after the very first shot, the opposing forces would be offered their own weaponry, and that it was all in good fun. The good Baron scolded us, and sternly suggested that we set aside such plans – though there was a bit of a wink involved. HE Genevieve retrieved a large sling and twelve projectiles. I was instructed in the fine art of slinging balloons: our target was a group of fencers by one of the pavilions. Unfortunately, my aim was not up to the task, though I did manage to squarely strike the door of one of the port-a-potties. I was launching the missiles over several tents, and had no clear view of my target. Still, I shall have to practice more, so as to be ready next time. From water balloons, the subject turned to a mysterious game called Spoons. Wisely, I did not admit that I’d never heard of the game. In case you haven’t heard of it either, I shan’t spoil the secrets involved, but it’s painful, and yes, I have pictures!

I decided to get fancied up, just as Her Excellency, Genevieve, declared that the camp was going to head over to a party hosted by the Kingdom of the West. I came along for a bit, but there wasn’t anyone there other than HE Genevieve that I knew, as everyone scattered to socialize. I decided to wander around the site for a while. McKillenkay’s camp was deserted – they were all out partying. By the main gates, I found a troupe performing under one of the permanent structures. They were a group from overseas, Germany, I think, and consisted of a bag pipe player, a man with a very large drum, and a third fellow playing a woodwind instrument that resembled a more primitive clarinet. They were very good, and had the patter down well. The audience was enjoying them enormously, and one couple, a young teenage boy and girl, were flinging themselves in a wild dance. I stayed in one corner for the most part, and danced, too. It was lovely fun. After the close of their performance, I tossed a generous tip into the hat, and headed back to merchant’s row.

I found a nice ring for Dominique: She’d stated one of her goals as being the purchase of a ring for each finger. I hoped she’d like the one I selected – it was one I’d shown her earlier in the day; a round cabochon amethyst in a square silver setting. I didn’t find any garnets I liked, but hoped she’d like the amethyst. I spotted a few more things here and there, but wanted to keep to my budget – the ring was my only purchase that day.

My wandering feet took me back to camp, where Darbuki, the group next to us, had struck up haunting and beautiful tunes. They had a fiddle player and several drummers, and a crowd had gathered around their fire to enjoy the music and dancing. I paused there a few times that night, between various trips here and there on site. I eventually caught up with my family, and there was discussion of when we’d head to the hotel. I’d already called them to check in and confirm a late arrival – they weren’t expecting us until at least 1 am.

I danced a bit, and then it was time to head to the hotel. I was the designated driver, and needed a few moments of reminder on how to drive a stick shift; it had been over seven years. Just as we all climbed into Derek’s truck, the skies opened up and it began pouring. This made us feel at least a little better, selfishly. All three of us had been wondering if we’d been premature in getting the hotel – with such lovely weather after dark, we worried we’d be missing out on a positive experience. But it was already too late – the cots were elsewhere, and the room paid for. The rain cemented the rightness of the decision, and we left site eager to find warm beds and hot showers.

Arriving at the hotel, we checked in, put in a wake up call, and promptly all collapsed into sleep. 7:30 came far too early – we had to be back on site at 9am, in time for court… for there had been firm rumors that Nathaniel was receiving his Award of Arms at morning court. With a brief pause at McDonalds for breakfast, we pelted back to site. We drove straight to the McKillinkay camp, where Nate was cooking breakfast for everyone in the Clan. I shooed him out of the kitchen and took over making the eggs and a number of breakfast burritos. The head of the Clan, Gwydion, confirmed that Nate had, indeed, done his duty to the Clan, and released him to go to court. I tossed together a few more burritos, wrapped them up, and got confirmation, myself, that we were good to go.

We all scurried about getting to the Royal Pavilion. The King and Queen processed in. Their herald was most impressive. He didn’t have Signeur Etienne’s dignified presence, but instead, had a deep, basso voice that projected cleanly and with humor to every inch of the assembly. He was a great bear of a man, garbed in the Kingdom Heraldic tabard and an arming cap of white. A gentleman was admitted to the order of the White Scarf, and a representative of Drachenwald spoke kindly of an Outlander not present, acknowledging his contribution to that distant kingdom. Then the King announced his ‘final item of business’ – at which point, we all looked at one another, dismayed.

With much pomp and circumstance, the Baron of Al-Barran was heralded into court, as his achievements and contributions were read aloud. His lady was nearly incandescent with pride. He knelt at the feet of his King, who spoke of his labors. Four peers stepped forward and discussed his contributions to the Kingdom of the Outlands, and to the Barony of Al-Barran; I recognized the Lady of the Rose as being the woman who was Queen during the Estrella 2003 war. The Baron was admitted into the peerage of the Order of the Pelican, amidst much cheering. He was presented with his Letters Patent on the spot – a lovely work that I was able to snap some photos of, with the kind permission of the artist, Mistress Monika von Zell of al-Barran.

We were surprised and a little disappointed that Nathaniel didn’t get the AoA that had been so rumored. There was mention of a later court that day, but it was after the time that Dominique, Derek, and I would have already left site. I very boldly spoke with the Herald after court was ended, and explained our dilemma – that I didn’t want to seem rude or presumptuous, but was Nathaniel going to be granted an award at a court later in the day, and that we had hoped to witness it. He didn’t know, and said he would find out.

While he was investigating, I wandered over to where Calontir was holding their morning court. The King, Queen, and Heirs were there. The Princess spoke of the mighty honor of the Calontir contingent, and relayed some comments others had made to her of their determination. A young woman was called up, and the King spoke of her prowess on the field, stating that she had been one of the last of the Calons standing, and that she had ‘made them pay’ with their lives before taking her. She was granted one of Calontir’s awards for chivalric prowess. I snapped a couple pictures, and then slipped out.

The herald found me, then, and told me that he was very sorry, but their majesties did not have an Award of Arms for the War for Nathaniel. I assured him that I appreciated his help, and that it was surely simply a communication problem. Both relieved that I wouldn’t miss it, and saddened at the misunderstanding, I headed off.

I had lost track of Dominique, Derek and Nathaniel. As often happens, they had all scattered to the winds. So, I did the only thing I could: Shopped and wandered by the battlefield, and generally explored. I snapped a lot of photos and found some wonderful vendors. Having seen most of the shops, I went ahead and made a few purchases: some buttons from TL Barnes, a cloak clasp from Rory’s Pouch, hosted by Calontir Trims, some trim from Wanderlust, Inc, and some Ansteorran Star belt-studs. I also took the last of the chocolates, and brought several to the volunteer point. They were doing a drawing for the volunteers, and after giving a bar to each of the folks running the drawing, I asked if there were any waterbearers present. All of the waterbearers got a truffle or chocolate bar. The remainder of the bars (the last six or so) I brought by the Autocrat’s Kitchen. There, I found their executive assistant, and asked her to give the bars of chocolate to the Autocrats, for them to give to whomever they felt had been the most helpful. She asked my name – I demurred, saying it was only important that volunteers feel appreciated, than for credit to be given for the item. I prefer being the Sneaky Chocolate Ninja!

I managed to meet up with my siblings at one point, and we had a lovely romp through the shops. I had the delightful fun of introducing my brother to a few of my favorite shops, including Urweg (www.urweg.com) and the Crafty Celts. He bemoaned his fate, that all of his money would soon be leaping out of his pouch and into their coffers… but he’d spent his full budget for the event. Somewhat less pleasantly, we ran into an old acquaintance of Dominique’s, who behaved in a fashion unbecoming of his station. I threatened bodily harm should he behave thusly again, and he eagerly invited me to do so. Ick. We fled, quickly returning to camp, our enjoyment of the moment heavily dampened.

It was soon time to break camp; my flight left at 7:45, but the security folks had advised me that it took a long while to get through on Sundays, and suggested I be at the airport by 5. I called SuperShuttle, and arranged for a pickup at 4:00-4:15. So, from noon onward, we packed, toted, cleaned, tidied, pulled up stakes, and generally got ready to go. The last of the spiced nuts (Probably at least half a pound, still) was given to her Excellency, Genevieve’ who admitted quite a weakness for them. I was glad they’d be eaten by friends, rather than tossed out.

I got to spend some more time chattering with Mordrake, and he asked if I’d be willing to help him and the Clan McKillinkay through the process of registering devices. I was glad to promise my aid, though I wasn’t sure what I could do that he couldn’t, just as easily. As with all things, Chocolate does seem to help smooth the processes, so I said I’d be glad to see if the Outlands heralds were bribe-able. He and I also chatted about garb for a while. I asked him if he was still doing any forge-work, and when he wondered why, told him I’d always loved the clasp on his belt-pouch rig: a baldric slung pouch that had a black iron forged circular belt-buckle shaped like the World-Serpent. To my shock, he removed it and handed it to me as a gift. I was dumbfounded and immediately told him I couldn’t accept the gift – that belt-pouch rig was so much a part of his identity in the minds of folks, much like his gray and black tunics. He insisted, saying I was doing him a favor, and it was a gift so I couldn’t refuse. I was really touched.

I really wanted to change into mundanes for the trip back, but everything was either wet or too muddied to wear. So I decided to face the stares and just wear my plainest garb. My bags were packed, and everything was cleaned up and inspected for forgotten stuff by four.

Dominique and Derek were ready to go at that point as well, so they packed me up in the truck, and we drove out to the entrance to the park. They waited with me until the shuttle arrived. It was hard to see the end of the weekend. We picked up another passenger who was also heading out, and off we went.

At the airport, I got through security relatively easily. Unlike Tulsa, I was required to bring my bags down to an x-ray machine while they were screened. I told them there might be some ‘weird looking stuff’ as I was part of a mediaeval group. They assured me they’d had some knights come through earlier, and nothing surprised them at this point. The bags passed, and off I went to my gate. As I strolled through the airport, I saw a gentleman wearing a hockey jersey which read, ‘HUSCARL 111’ – the Huscarls are a group in Calontir of great renown. There was a fairly large group of about 8 Calons who were flying out of the same gate my flight departed from. I didn’t say anything, not knowing any of them, but saw them glance my way a few times – I was pretty obviously SCA in my big blue hat and brown garb. Instead, I worked on a piece of beadwork that I hope I can gift to my friend, HL Dyan du lac de Calendre, Ansteorran’s new Premier Artisan. A long time ago, at our first and only meeting (King’s College, 2003), she mentioned she was interested in developing a middle eastern persona. Hearing of her victory at the Kingdom Artisan challenge, I decided to make her a beaded anklet like those in the Gulf War gift basket, of gold and black with black stars and gold bells. I was able to finish it while waiting for the plane.

My flight was late, and arrived in Tulsa around midnight, instead of 11pm. My darling Abe was waiting patiently for me: I’d called him from Phoenix to let him know I’d be arriving at a different time and didn’t want him to have to wait at the airport. His simple reply made me blush and grin, appreciative of the wonderful man in my life: "Honey, I’d wait for you forever." He grabbed me in a huge hug, and welcomed me home. Collecting my bags, we headed out of the airport…. Just in time for a huge storm cloud to release the rain that had just been waiting for me to get home, to dump its contents on Tulsa! As we drove home, lightning stretched from one end of the horizon to the other in a beautiful display of power and heavenly splendor.

There’s nothing like the feeling of your own bed after camping. I’m told that I somewhat incoherently was babbling something about ‘Bed… good… warm…. My bed… good…."as Abe tucked me in. Home sweet home – every trip away re-establishes how precious it is.