Event Review - Northkeep Castellan 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.

Ah, the joys of Castellan….

This Northkeep event had more than its usual share of drama. There were staffing issues, scrolls vanishing and having to be recreated at the last minute (How HL Ian did it so fast, I’ve no idea, but Vivat to him). There was garb to be made from math and no pattern, printers running out of ink, missing label making programs, and a variety of other little issues that had to be resolved – some handled well, some handled not so well. But that’s life, and that’s the SCA; one must take the good with the bad.

My sense of time always gets screwy at events. Things happen, time passes, but I’m never sure I am remembering them in the right order. So hopefully this is correct and inclusive, and I haven’t spaced out anything vastly important!

With the usual enormous amount of help from House Halfiras, most especially the House Momma, Lady Rayhanna, waterbearing prep for the event was seamless and stress free. Rayhanna handled all the shopping and the vast majority of the pre-event prep. Without her, I would have been lost. I was granted to freedom to focus on painting up two of the awards to be given out, and sewing some garb for Amanda Blackwolf, the co-Autocrat, and then making items for the gift basket, and the waterbearer station.

The scrolls were nominally finished on Monday and Wednesday, and Amanda’s under-dress was finished Thursday. I really wasn’t entirely happy with the scrolls, and hoped that I would have more time later in the week to do further detail work to make them better. Alas, that was not to be the case.

Blessings upon my ever-patient boss, Kimber, who let me have a half day on Friday. Around 1pm, I zoomed to the WalMart Superstore armed with my own personal waterbearer checklist, and refurbished my woefully empty kitchen tote. A few more trips here and there, and I was finally able to get home around 3pm.

There, I got a bit sidetracked, and my ADD got the best of me. I gleefully went about making tassel ropes, instead of beginning the baking, cooking and laundry I really needed to get started first. But finally common sense and my to-do-lists won out, and I put down my pretty blue and purple tassels. Much baking and Making of Stuff ensued, including: two loaves of Kitchen Sink bread, a batch of Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Cookies, two pounds of hard chocolates, two pounds of truffle chocolates (milk chocolate with Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum rolled in Pecans, and milk chocolate with Grand Marnier), and a batch of Spiced Almonds. The fighter biscuits had to wait until last, to ensure that the scent of the sausage didn’t permeate the chocolates. Woe unto me, for when I was finally ready to make them at 11pm, I realized my Bisquick mix was past its freshness date, and had to go to the store to get more, along with some film for my camera. The last task on my list was to review the various sashes that I was going to be giving out. I had thought there was a gold sash in the box the Kingdom Waterbearer had sent me, but alas, that was not the case. Fortunately, I had picked up some gold braid just earlier that day… After some cussing at my inadequate sewing machine, that, too, was finished. Abe helped me pack up my car, and after all was said and done, I got to bed about 2am.

The alarm came all too quickly at a revolting hour of 6:45. I struggled out of bed, grabbed a shower, and was out the door by 7:30. McDonalds was a must, and fortified with a Bacon and Egg Biscuit, I began the trek to the event site. I made good time, arriving right about 8:20. Gate wasn’t in its usual spot, so I proceeded on to the kitchen area, where I got unpacked. I immediately spotted Aethelred of the Broken Shield, of House Halfiras. He was armored and ready to go, and looked remarkably spiffy in a brand-new fighting tunic with a dagged, crenellated bottom hem with appliques of his and his lady’s arms. He very patiently poked me verbally until I let him help me unpack. He suggested that I relax a bit and go say hi to folks. I was a bit stressed due to my late arrival on site, and said I’d catch up with folks later. He kindly rolled my cart full of stuff over to the list field, where Katsutoshi-san suggested a good, level spot where we could waterbear the field easily.

I started getting unpacked, amidst several offers of help. I wanted to get things sorted out first, but when I was ready, offered chocolate truffles to those willing to give assistance. Several folks were kind enough to assist, all of whom received some of the truffles (milk chocolate with Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum rolled in Pecans). One gentleman stated the chocolates were so good, if I needed anyone beaten that day, all I had to do was say the word. Others counseled me at being very careful – that the fellow had a ‘hair trigger’ and might just pounce on anyone I looked at crosswise, especially if it was someone he didn’t like already! Halfiras arrived in force moments later, and Rayhanna and Brigid McCanna helped me arrange the decorations on the tent, so as to hide its hideous modernity. Between the drapes, printed panels, and the swags of tassels, it looked pretty spiffy!

Soon we had tables in place, and Cookie headed off to the main hall to fill our buckets and water coolers. My little lady in waiting, Atiyya, was there, and she was an enormous help. I had the fun of gifting her with a mug and bowl made of a beautiful cerulean blue pottery, and a delicate two-toned amber necklace. Her brother, Damon, ran several errands for us as well.

Almost immediately, I came across Lady Kale Kourtikina, (previously known as Catin de Mortain). I pounced upon her, and dragged her back to the waterbearing station. I explained that due to unavoidable circumstances, I was not going to be able to make evening court, but there was something very important that I had to do. I fetched out the gold bordered waterbearer sash, and presented it to her. I told her it was more than due – that even if she never bore water ever again, it was more than earned for past service . . . and that I was personally very sorry it had not been granted on a previous occasion it had been promised. I apologized to her, very sincerely, and gave her a big hug. She seemed really pleased that her service had been acknowledged, and said she appreciated it. I was glad to be able to do it – one of the greatest perks of my job. I also had the opportunity to present Katt (Jeanette le Chat?), Aline Swynbrook, and Adena of Mooneschadowe with their Journeyman sashes, at various points throughout the day. I was delighted to do so, and it really was a major personal highlight of the event for me.

Soon, the waterbearer kitchen was in full swing – none too soon! Armor inspection began a bit late at 9:30, and we were almost ready at that point. We got water bottles filled and circulating quickly. A number of children arrived with their parents, wanting to sign up to waterbear. Because most of the parents couldn’t stay, we did have to turn away some of them. In other cases, where the child had extensive experience, we made exceptions so long as they were paired with an adult, as we knew it would only be for about 15 minutes until Children’s activities started. Three times in 20 minutes, we had folks bring word that the archery point was seeking its supplies. Given that archery activities hadn’t started yet, I thought it a bit premature that they were panicking, but sent word that the water coolers were being filled as we spoke, and would be on their way momentarily.

Lady Dagmar stopped by the station, and she and I chatted a bit about the upcoming King’s College. Her guide dog, Diamond, was so hot she started drinking the extremely warm rinse water. I fetched a bowl of nice cold water, and Diamond slurped it right up. When I put down the bowl for the dog, I spotted the plastic bag I had put Amanda’s dress in – ack! I had forgotten to deliver it!

I scooted up to the hall to find Amanda, and to check on the water. Cookie had the water coolers well in hand. I located Amanda, and asked her to try on the gown – despite a lot of guesswork, it fit rather nicely! She modeled it for her family, and seemed pretty pleased. So back to the waterbearing tent I went.

There, I unpacked one of each of the chocolates and truffles and spiced nuts, and placed them on a nice plate. Sieur Jean-Paul was talking to Their Royal Majesties, so I waited off to the side, so as not to intrude. HE Mercedes waved me over, saying, ‘They’re just yacking.’ I approached their Majesties, and knelt, offering them the sweets. They accepted, and I placed them on a nearby table. Her Majesty very kindly said that she wanted to meet my generosity with her own, and gifted me with a ring of silver inlaid with silver and gray triangular pieces of shell. I thanked both Their Majesties, and hurried back to the waterbearing station, where I grabbed the Centurion scroll I’d painted for Angus MacKnockard. I returned to the presence of their Majesties, and asked if I might intrude once more. I explained the details of the scroll: that their Majesties had awarded it at Gulf War, and that I had someone coming to the event to do the calligraphy. I asked if they wanted to sign it themselves – both agreed that they did wish to do so, which made me very happy. I have never understood why some Crowns would choose to have scribes add their name to a scroll, instead of doing it themselves. After bringing back a calligraphy pen for their use, which I left with HL Etienne, I got back to work at the station.

About 15 minutes later, Morning Court was called into session, and the Crown and Baron & Baroness greeted the populace. I couldn’t hear much of what was going on, as we were still readying our trays of food items, and getting things finalized prep-wise. I was a bit concerned about Rayhanna, who looked a little under the weather. Mehpare, who was going to co-lead the station, was back at the camp, sleeping off a bit too much revelry from the night before. But she had darned good cause to need a little extra partying, so I certainly didn’t blame her. We had many offers of help, mostly from Halfiras and Mooneschadowe, with others trickling in throughout the day.

The first few fights began. We stationed waterbearers at the ends of each field entry point, and made sure folks were well watered. It was hot and muggy, and we could see rivulets of sweat pouring off the fighters and staining their tunics dark. There was a rest called, and we rushed to get water and supplies out to the fighters. A mini-court was called into session, and two very deserving folks from Mooneschadowe received their Awards of Arms: Aila & Asric. Aila was called in first, and Asric escorted her. I was too far away to hear what was said of this gentle lady, but I know her to be a hard worker, having supervised her at a waterbearing station twice. After Aila was hailed as Ansteorra’s newest Lady, Asric escorted her back to where they’d been standing with the Mooneschadin. Just as they got to that spot of the field, Asric’s name was called. They giggled, and trooped back into court. Asric was granted his award of arms as well. I headed back to the station, but was caught halfway there with the message that Sieur Jean-Paul de Sens was asking for me.

I scooted back to where Sieur Jean-Paul was kneeling in the populace at court, and asked what I could do for him. He responded that his two men-at-arms had been granted Awards of Arms at Mooneschadowe Guardian*1, but had not received their achievement scrolls; could I do the charters? I told him I’d be honored to paint them for such worthy gentlemen, and he said he’d send them over to talk to me. Court was excused moments later, so I chatted with both of the young lads (I think their names are Peter and Vlad). They expressed their preferences on colors, and I asked them to email me with extra details, which they said they would do.

The break was over soon and we got back to work. We sent a bowl of pickles and olives down to the archery field, and to check on their water supplies. I took a few opportunities to snap some photos, mostly catching the action on the field. When I realized I was nearly out of film already, I ducked quickly into the hall to take photos of a couple of the arts and sciences displays. I didn’t have enough pictures left to document all the projects, much to my regret, but I did get four: A bottle of alcohol, displayed in a bottle with a horse-head stopper, with a drinking horn and shot glasses by Lord Dagr Oswaldsson of Eldern Hills, a gold-leaf & painted triptych displayed with a cross and goblet on a velvet riser created by Kelandra Carmichael, a painting of an Indian god riding on the back of a peacock by Lady Bianca della Vittoria of Wiesenfeuer, and lastly, but my personal favorite, a Mediterranean style mirror, with a wooden handle and a metal cut-work ornamentation on the back, displayed on a green velvet riser, crafted by HL Therese Maria Giovanni. I also took a moment to vote in the Children’s Castellan A&S competition. There were three displays, as I recall: one by Krystal Blackwolf involving strung beads, another that was clay game pieces and some embroidery of a snail, and the third was a drawing.

The armored combats were winding down, and the rapier community was getting geared up. House Halfiras set out a sideboard lunch, and a giant horde descended. I peeled some jicama, grabbed a box of grape tomatoes and a packet of pita, and sliced up some of the Kitchen Sink bread I made. These were added to the sideboard. Unfortunately, it was at this moment that I realized I’d forgotten half the other items I’d purchased for the picnic. Grrr! Drat!

A brief court was called, and Johan von Brandenburg (von Aug? I’m not sure which name he uses at this time) was called into court. He knelt before their Majesties, and the Queen stood forth and spoke. She described how the rapier community in particular was precious to her as Queen. She praised those who research this art form, and keep it alive. Speaking in a clear voice, she gave Johan specific praises for his many classes he had held, his research and dedication. She then presented him with a Sable Thistle in the ART (which she stressed) of Period fighting techniques. There was great applause, and Johan looked like he’d been whacked in the head a bit too hard. His eyes were not quite focusing, and his grin wrapped from ear to ear. That was the only item of business in the afternoon court.

At one point, I went searching for Amanda to find out when she wanted me to turn over the items for the prize baskets. I found her wandering about the hall, looking entirely frazzled. I asked her what I could to do help, and she blinked and said rather plaintively that she was pretty hungry. I asked what she wanted to eat, and she gestured in the direction of the tavern. I dashed back to the station, grabbed my money and my blue card, then loaded up a small plate of some of the goodies I’d brought for the sideboard. From there, it was off to the tavern, where I purchased ‘a little of everything.’ I found her in the hall, got her sat down, and brought her something cold to drink. We chatted as she ate, and once she was done, her color and temperament looked much better. Two more of the scrolls were being painted on site, and I watched them as we chatted. At a nearby table, several nobles were chatting, including Mistresses Talana and Stacia. They were discussing ‘Stacia’s recent ill health, and it was commented on how much better she looked. I, too, could see a big difference in her face and her general coloring. HL Magdelena of Mooneschadowe arrived, and was getting settled, arranging her belongings, and brushing out her hair. Her long tresses were obviously bothering her, given the heat of the day, so I offered to braid it for her. She accepted, so I did a simple five-plait braid to keep it out of her face. To my stunned surprise, when I was done, she gifted me with a packet of freshwater pearls! I tried to refuse, but she would not accept that, saying she appreciated the braid. Still feeling quite surprised, I headed back to work, after pausing to take care of paperwork and payment at Gate.

More waterbearing ensued throughout the day, and some more wandering around the site, as the Rapier community held the field. I took an opportunity or two to cheer on House Halfiras’ own Renault Du Mount Saint Michel. Eventually, I was ordered by Rayhanna to ‘sit down and eat’ and put my feet up. I did so for a bit, but then realized Rayhanna needed to sit and rest a lot more than I did. I got her to sit, and take her shoes off. I gave her a quick foot massage, and a cool cloth for her neck. I slipped the ring from Her Majesty from my finger and gave it to Rayhanna. I told her that I felt she deserved it far more than I did, for all her work that day. Atiyya and I traded off bringing Rayhanna cool water, and sipping some ourselves – Atiyya kept commenting on how much she liked her new mug. At this point, many of our waterbearers had wandered off.; Who should appear? Renault! Despite the fact he’d just been fighting, he took off his mask and armor, put on a sash, and grabbed bottles. This gentleman of Ansteorra has the true heart of service, and he was an enormous help. Some time later, we swapped out folks in the rest chair. Rayhanna and I noticed that Renault was looking a bit pale, and we got him to sit down a bit. He was relieved of his thigh-high WOOL stockings, and got the cool scarf on the back of the neck trick. He looked a lot better after a few minutes of rest. Oklahoma heat really can sneak up on you and pounce when you aren’t looking.

All day long, Lady Brigid McCana had been putting her portable massage chair to good use. After Lord Katsutoshi saw me straggling by, he pointed it out to Brigid, who ordered me into the chair. I apologized in advance for any embarrassing noises I might make – there is almost nothing (ALMOST…Excepting my honey, Abe) as good as a skilled massage, and I’ve never been one for being quiet in moments of pleasure. I made her giggle several times when she elicited a primal and unedited response. “Oh, that’s HAPPY!” seemed to tickle her funny bone, and she wasn’t offended by my taking the Lord’s name in vain once or twice. After she was done with me, I felt a thousand percent better. Once I was able to actually stand and walk, I staggered over to a nearby chair to sit a bit, and Sir Balvin got a turn in the chair.

I decided to check around the site to see if Lady Annais was present. I had made arrangements with her previously via email that she would do the calligraphy on the scroll for Angus. Unfortunately, I have never (that I know of) met the lady, and could not recognize her. I checked with a variety of folks, but no one had seen her. It was time to fall back and punt, and find another calligrapher!! I sought out the nearest Laurel: the Master of all things having to do with Shoes – Diarmuid O’Duinn. He told me that his lady Wife, Mistress Talana, was doing calligraphy for the award scrolls later in the day, and she might be persuaded to do this calligraphy as well. I found Mistress Talana in the hall, and begged the boon of her. She kindly agreed, and asked me to make sure Seigneur Etienne had the scroll and info; he could bring it to her along with the award scrolls. I was enormously relieved.

The event was starting to wind down. We’d been invaded by the Children’s activity group three times, and had hosed them down liberally with water and Gatorade. Each time, we had to fend off the invaders as they attempted to grab food items off the table; due to event rules, we were NOT supposed to feed them. Moments after one such break, Kate, Timothy and Therese’s daughter, got bopped in the nose during the children’s Marksmanship challenge. She was escorted, wailing loudly, over to waterbearing, where we were asked for ice for this life threatening injury. Instead, as her dad approached, I asked her, “Kate, before you knew my name was Zubeydah, what did you call me?”

    • Sniff** “I dunnoooooo….”

“You called me the bell lady. Do you remember why?”

  • Sniff* “Because you have bells…”

“That’s right. And every time I see you, what do I have for you?”

  • Pause* “A bell…”

“That’s right. I’ve been saving this bell for you all day.” At that point, I rang a largish brass bell that had a dragon clapper. She smiled, and reached for the bell. I gave it to her, but then surprised her.

“Now… you can keep the bell… or… you can trade that bell for what’s inside pouch number one!” I patted a small blue leather pouch at my belt, as her dad giggled. She pointed to the pouch without any hesitation. I took back the bell, and then spilled out the contents of the pouch one by one: a strand of pearls on a chain, a crystal point, and several polished gemstones.

“Now, Kate, which one do you want?” She pointed back to the bell. I grinned, poured the jewels back into the pouch, and handed her the bell.

She scampered off with her dad; her nose had been miraculously healed! J

After Rapier activities ended, Rayhanna had things mostly packed up before I could blink. The kitchen staff called for the return of the coolers, so we sent them back to the hall via Cookie. Rayhanna went to take a nap, and I hung around our corner of the field for a bit, visiting with Hersir Thorgrim, Sir Balvin, Brigid and Katsutoshi, and others. I decided to hand out the remaining packets of truffles individually, and to turn over the molded chocolates and spiced nuts for the gift baskets. I wandered about being a ‘chocolate fairy,’ gifting kind folks and friends with the chocolates, and asking folks who else needed to have one. Several folks said they enjoyed them, and the fellow from earlier in the day who had expressed his willingness to let loose a whoop ass at my command asked firmly, ‘You WILL be making these again some time soon, right?’ I grinned and confirmed that I would, and was considering other flavors as well… When I was down to the last one, I had made my way to the hall. There, I spotted Sir Burke, who was judging some of the A&S items. I plopped down on a bench next to him, and requested a favor.

“Sir Burke, would you mind judging this for me?” I handed him one of the Grand Marnier chocolate truffles.

He was a bit baffled at first, wondering if it was in a competition. I grinned and explained that it wasn’t, I just wanted his considered opinion. He took a careful bite, obviously concentrating on the task. I could see him smoosh it around in his mouth with his tongue, as he absorbed the flavor. He critiqued it carefully and fairly, saying it needed more of the Grand Marnier flavoring – that the filling was a little too subtle, and that it would have been better chilled. All in all, though, he enjoyed it, and said so. Off I went.

I brought the remaining gift items to the Autocrat, Amanda, and she stored them in the walk-in cooler to stay nice and chilled. It was determined they would go in the consort baskets for the evening’s events. I also brought her the scrolls I’d painted, and she was pleased with how they had turned out, as HL Ian had been when I showed them to him earlier. Speaking of scrolls….

Back at the camp, I started chatting with Sir Balvin and Angus MacKnockard, getting Angus’ information for his Centurion scroll. While we were chatting, I mentioned that I was doing research on a Founding Landed Baronial scroll for Hersir Thorgrim and Her Excellency, Sigen. I was concerned because I wanted to make it absolutely perfect, and wasn’t going to put brush to paper until I knew exactly what I was going to be doing. The piece was to be in the style of the Book of Kells, which was extremely complicated. Thorgrim, who was seated close by, grinned and said something along the lines of (I can’t remember his exact words) that he liked it when things were extra complicated. I truly hope that when I do get started on this work, it will be worthy of this profoundly honorable couple. They are two that I respect deeply, and I want this commission to be everything it should be, appropriate to their station and their amazing sacrifices for the Barony of Northkeep.

I had a chance to show folks some of the other scrolls I’d brought along – finished pieces that I wasn’t sure I wanted to turn in yet, or perhaps hold for the winner of Fall Crown. Sir Balvin said some really nice things about the scrolls, and asked if I had a Sable Thistle. I said no but that I really didn’t think I had the skill level for a Thistle just yet. I need more training and work on highlighting and shadowing and detail work. I’ve not been attending Scribal Guild meetings, due to the presence of children at the gathering, which I find disruptive. I know that Siobhan could teach me a lot. I’m really hoping to catch some classes at King’s College this coming weekend, to improve my skills and techniques.

Soon it was time to pack up and head home. I wandered the site and said my good-byes, and collected my last missing water bottle (hidden in Aethelred’s helm! Ew! Time for the bleach!) Rayhanna was still napping, but I whispered a good bye at her tent door. I gave Damon one last soaking with a water bottle, and grabbed a hug from Atiyya. With help from all the gang back up at the list field, I got my tent broken down and packed up. Sir Balvin, Hersir Thorgrim, and one of Angus’ sons very kindly dragged the cart full of stuff to my car and helped me load it in the car.

The drive home was perilous– exhaustion hit me hard, and I found myself nodding off a few times on the way. Yikes! I got home and staggered up the stairs to the arms of my wonderful hubby. After some restorative hugs, he sent me off to a shower and a “nap” which lasted 4 hours! I woke for a few hours around 10 pm, just in time for the power to go out in our apartment due to a tornadic storm (which came nowhere near me, but caused me concern for those at site). I wasn’t able to reach Rayhanna by cell phone, and was worried.

The next morning, I tried Rayhanna again, to no avail. When my power was restored, I eagerly checked email… but alas, there was no news from the event on the Baronial list. So I sent out an inquiry. A few hours later, Amanda called me on her way home with lots of news of the event – that one of the scrolls I’d painted was ‘in her back seat’. Krys won Children’s Castellan! Arthur Blackmoon had taken the other scroll home, for Baronial Castellan. We talked about the various awards, and I took quick notes and quotes (If you have further details, please let me know via email, at Zubeydah@northkeep.org) :

Baronial Castellan: Arthur Blackmoon
Youth Castellan: Elenore
Children's Castellan: Krys Blackwolf

Children's Obstacle Course: Krys Blackwolf
Children's Marksman: Krys Blackwolf
Children's Archery: Connor
Children's Bardic: Bree, Kiegan's daughter
Children's Arts & Sciences: Ron Slater for clay snails and redwork embroidery

Youth Bard: Elenore
Youth Arts & Sciences: Elenore ("Her bread looked really good.")
Youth Archery: Elenore
Youth KAS: Kenrick
Youth Rapier: Andrew of Northkeep

Marksman: Thormund Blackwolf
Archer: Geoffrey Makepeace
A&S: Magdalena de Cadamosto
Bardic: Bianca de la Vittoria
Drighton: Yoshi
Meatgrinder: Owen ap Aeddan (For the second year in a row)
Provost: Facon du Pray

Awards of Arms: Geoffrey Makepeace, Cearl, Gisela von Grau, Aila von Ashen & Asric of Mooneschadowe, Aderyn Gunnarsdottir, Conal mac Eoghain

Crimson Stars: Fintan O'Cuigg & Angus Gunn (both of whom have previously been awarded this honor.)

Elizabeth de Calais, who was also named Apprentice to Mistress Stacia, was made a Companion to the Order of the Kenmare.

Ottakar Luthor Von Holstein received a Sable Talon in the field of Knife, Axe and Spear (Thrown Weapons) – the first KAS Sable Talon to be presented in the North!

Emma de Fetherstan of Mooneschadowe received a Star of Merit for all her hard work with respect to the Heraldic community.

Johan von Brandenburg (von Aug?) - Sable Thistle - Period Rapier Combat Technique

Esme Haddock McCallum - Sable Comet from Rivers Run

A "Sort of" AoA was presented to Aelfric ("The piercings guy"), with the actual award to be given at King's College.

Another award was presented to Someone for Something which shall remain nameless, until they receive it in person.

When all was said and done, 259 people came through Gate, and food was served at feast to 97 folks. My only regrets from the event were that my husband couldn’t come along, and that I wasn’t able to fulfill a promise I made to a friend – that I would participate in the Bardic challenge. It was just too busy a day at the waterbearing station, and I knew I couldn’t stay very late in the day. It would have felt horrible to bow out, mid challenge. Perhaps next year!