Five Years of Pennsic

Last summer, July 26 -August 10, 2019 I attended my fifth Pennsic: Pennsic 48.

Following my second Pennsic (Pennsic 45) I started a tradition of writing a “Top Ten” post with my favorite memories of the event. But this year was a bit different for me. I was over-committed, exhausted, and stressed – and had been for quite a while leading up to the event – which led to mistakes and offenses committed by yours truly. After the event was over, I struggled to come up with a list of the good things that happened and so my “Top Ten” post for the year was neglected.

Now that apologies have been made and time has helped to soften the sharp edges of memory, I wanted to revisit my time at Pennsic last year for the sake of posterity at the very least. A wise man suggested that instead of my usual list of “Top Ten” moments, I write a more general overview of my past five years at Pennsic and how my experiences at War have evolved. I found this to be a clever compromise and so here we are 😊

A moment of joy with dear friends at Pennsic 48 (2019).

My first Pennsic was Pennsic 44, in the modern year 2015. While I had joined the SCA in the summer of 2013 and so technically been a member for two years, I had only attended a dozen or so small, local events. This Pennsic proved to be a catalyst for my future as a SCAdian.

In another post dedicated solely to my experiences at Pennsic 44, I made mention that I believed that first Pennsic War to be the event that spurred me on to greater involvement in the SCA. That being the case, a lot of changes took place between my first and second Pennsic. I became an officer for my local group, the Barony of Ponte Alto, as Webminister, Deputy Chatelain, and Archery Marshal. I joined a new household – The Honorable Company of Grimmsfield – run by (recently made) Master Stephan Grimm and Lady Gunnora Grimm, whom I’d met while camping at my first Pennsic. And while I’d experimented in many areas of the Arts & Sciences, I discovered that my path in the SCA would lie in the way of service.

Now for both my first and second Pennsic (44 & 45) I camped with House Longbow, run by Earl Mika Longbow and his wife Ursula, on block N22. House Longbow is a great group of people with years of experience in the SCA, welcoming hosts, and excellent friends. I will always look back fondly on my time in that camp and with those people who helped me enjoy my first experiences at Pennsic. Alas, change is inevitable, and so by the second year at Pennsic there were already plans being made for my new household, Grimmsfield, to break away from Longbow and form a new camp exclusive to our small but energetic group of household members. And so my third Pennsic, and every Pennsic since, has been spent camping with Grimmsfield on block N22. Yes, we are still neighbors and friends with House Longbow 😊

But I appear to be getting ahead of myself a bit. My second Pennsic was just as (if not more) enjoyable as my first. Lots of new experiences, new friends, and new memories were made. This event was my first time volunteering to retain for Royalty. It was also my first time volunteering to work as a waterbearer for the battles held during War Week. These two “jobs” are some of my favorites and I’ve volunteered in the same way every Pennsic since.

Retaining at Pennsic 45 on Middle Sunday during the Champions Battles.

Pennsic 45 was also the year I managed to take only ONE class at Pennsic University (that involved a very painful walk to the Bog and back in new shoes 😢) . Though I had a detailed schedule planned out well in advance of the event with lots of interesting classes that I wanted to take… things didn’t quite go to plan. One of the things I’ve learned now is that my bandwidth for the day is limited to three activities MAX. Any more than that and something is going to fall off. This year, it was classes.

Another first for me this Pennsic was trying out for the Archery Champions shoot. Pennsic 45 actually remains the ONLY Pennsic in which I tried out for the Archery Champions shoot… I did not make the team 😉

Luckily this was the Pennsic that I began my “Top Ten” lists and so I’m able to look back, read, and remember my favorite moments from that year.

The Grimmsfield banner flying at the camp entrance at Pennsic 46 (2017).

My third Pennsic was Pennsic 46. Not only was I camping with a new camp, but it was also my first year spending both Peace Week and War Week at Pennsic. In addition to helping form a new camp, another big change that happened after my second Pennsic was my involvement with newcomers to the SCA and my work as a Chatelain. By this time I had taken on the role of Deputy Chatelain for my Barony and at Pennsic I had volunteered to fill shifts at Newcomers Point. Little did I know at the time that my experience at Newcomers Point would later lead me to become a member of Pennsic staff as the Newcomer Activities Coordinator and the Kingdom Chatelain for Atlantia.

Pennsic 46 was the year I barely adhered to my schedule. I found that I had much more fun relaxing in camp that year and spending time with my chosen family in the new space that we had created for ourselves. The commitments that I did keep were in volunteering at Newcomers Point, teaching (for the first time) two different classes for Pennsic University, and waterbearing during battles. Highlights from Pennsic 46 can be found in Top Ten from that year.

An example of how my Pennsic schedule usually looks. As mentioned above, I’m lucky to complete three of these activities a day.

Looking back on the past five Pennsics, I feel that Pennsic 46 was the best of them so far. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I struck that balance between staying busy and relaxing that can be so, so hard to find at an event where there is something happening every minute of the day and night.

Pennsic 47 proved to be a bit more stressful than past Wars. I can say now that navigating a two week event while in a relationship has a different set of challenges. It’s difficult enough to find that balance between fun and work as a single lady 😉, but add a partner into the mix and there is a whole new set of obligations to fulfill. I won’t say much more about this Pennsic – my Top Ten is here – other than lessons were learned.

And that brings me to Pennsic 48, my most recent Pennsic War. This year not only did I become an official member of Pennsic staff as the Newcomers Activities Coordinator, but I was also a member of the Royal Retinue for Their Majesties Christoph and Adelhait of Atlantia. What’s that saying about all work and no play?

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, mistakes were made and feelings were hurt. Those mistakes have now been atoned for and hurt feelings made better, but at the time they did make my Pennsic War that year significantly less fun. I found myself spending most nights hanging out quietly in camp or attending official functions as a retainer, than out at parties or down in the Bog as I normally would have been. I was more focused on doing my job as Pennsic staff, as a teacher for Pennsic U, and as a member of the Royal Retinue than on the traditional activities that I found fun or relaxing at past Pennsics.

The new and improved camp gate. Photo credit to Master Stephan Grimm.

Despite the amount of work required there were still some fun highlights to my War that year. The first was FINALLY being able to attend Fizzball with my friends Ronan & Leesa and their camp Morning Wood. Fizball (a game of “baseball” played with beer cans instead of baseballs) has been on my Pennsic schedule for years but it’s always been one of the things that has fallen off due to other obligations. This year I made sure to go. The theme for the Morning Wood Fizzball team was the Wizard of Oz and so I went as the Wicked Witch of the West (medieval style). Participating in Fizzball was the one activity that year that didn’t feel like “work”. I didn’t feel like I had to be “on” – doing or saying the right thing in case someone was watching – and it was nice to be able to relax a bit in that moment.

My somewhat historically accurate men’s interpretation of the Wicked Witch of the West. Photo credit to Lord Ronan Mac Imair.

Another highlight was being made a Court Baroness, along with my Companion sister, Marguerite. It was a (somewhat) unexpected surprise and a pleasant way to end two weeks of physical, mental, and emotional labor.

My Companion sister, Marguerite, and I in our new coronets – gifts from Her Majesty Adelhait – on the last Friday of Pennsic.

And, in keeping with years past, another highlight was once again marshaling for the St. Sebastian’s archery shoot, hosted by the Kingdom of Atlantia. This year we had matching hats!

Marshaling at St. Sebastian’s with Baroness Karin and Mistress Martelle.

Lastly, it was a privilege to spend this Pennsic with my Peer Duchess Adelhait, her husband Duke Christoph, and our household, Honey Badger, as They served as Royals of Atlantia at Pennsic. Having spent a year as retinue, attending both Gulf Wars and Pennsic, I can honestly say it is one of the most time consuming and stressful jobs that one can take on in the SCA. It is an emotional rollercoaster full of highs and lows, and you really have to love the people you serve in order to make it worth it.

Myself, my Companion sister Marguerite, and Their Graces, Adelhait and Christoph (so charming) at Pennsic 48.

My First Pennsic

Funny enough I started writing about my first Pennsic as a part of my “Five Years of Pennsic” post, but quickly found that I was spending far too much time recounting the details of my first year at this incredible event. I realized that if I kept on like I was that my “Five Years” post would never end. And so I created this.

My first Pennsic was Pennsic 44, held in 2015. I attended Pennsic for only one week this year – War Week – and I had no idea what to expect. While I first began playing in the SCA in 2013, I had only attended maybe a dozen small events in those two years and I still considered myself very new to the Society. I had yet to take on any responsibilities and was still exploring the many activities and crafts that the SCA had to offer. Looking back, I believe that my attendance at Pennsic this year is what spurred my future involvement in the SCA, my interest in becoming a local officer, and my commitment to service.

That year I was invited to camp with House Longbow, the archery household of Earl Mika Longbow and his wife Ursula, on block N22. My friend, Lord Robert Cameron de Grey, offered his carousel pavilion up for lodging to be shared by myself and another member of the camp. I remember we put so much effort into decorating the pavilion after arriving on that middle Friday – hanging colorful saris and Moroccan lanterns along the interior walls – that even Cameron stated how jealous he was of our improvised set-up. I wish now that I had taken pictures of our home for that week, that I had taken more pictures of Pennsic that year in general, but I was so caught up in the moment that I didn’t think to take pictures or post anything on social media until the event had ended!

Now in the weeks leading up to the event I had cobbled together a schedule of sorts – listing 3-4 activities that I planned to do each day. I wasn’t very successful in keeping to that schedule and looking back I’m amazed at how much free time I must have had to just relax and wander around. But there were several activities that I made sure to prioritize, namely shooting archery and attending parties. And so, my first day at Pennsic was spent on the archery range. I was a Marshal in Training (MiT) at the time for Target Archery, and so my first MiT shift happened at Atlantia’s St. Sebastian’s shoot on Middle Saturday. It was my first time as a Marshal in Training and I remember how much I enjoyed meeting people from around the Knowne World and enabling them to shoot archery and have fun.

The next day was Opening Ceremonies and it was held in the morning that year. I remember I wore a blue polyester dress and by the time the Ceremonies were over, I was SWELTERING. I went back to camp and immediately changed into something made of linen!

The Barony of Ponte Alto during Opening Ceremonies of Pennsic. I’m one of those dark shapes 😂 Photo credit to Baron Naran Numuchi.

Sunday night was the Lowdy Toadie – a party that’s held annually at Casa Bardicci, a reproduction of a 15th century Venetian villa. This night remains one of my favorite SCA memories. There is nothing like Casa Bardicci at night – stepping in to an incredibly realistic Italian villa, filled with torchlight, music, and dance – created one of those “Medieval Moments” that SCAdians all live to experience.

A view of Casa Bardicci from across the lake. Image Courtesy of http://diligentdwarves.blogspot.com/2010/09/pennsic-house-pay-off.html

What I most remember about that night was that two friends of mine – a couple with two small children – had constructed a covered wagon of sorts so that they could bring their kids along at night so as not to leave them unattended in camp. And so the children were brought into the Lowdy Toadie party at Casa Bardicci, asleep in a covered wagon! And they slept peacefully there for hours, despite the music and revelry taking place around them. Another couple with their children sleeping in a similar wagon showed up and joined us. And so we created a “Children Parking Zone” in the courtyard of the Casa. Afterwards, we all helped push the wagon back up that awful hill that lies between the lake and the “Serengeti”, where we were camped that year.

The Monday of War Week was spent on the archery range, shooting war points in order to score for our side of the War that year. I’m sad to say this might be the only year at Pennsic that I managed to complete every war point station! Each year since became busier and busier and while I always made it out to the range to work as a Marshal, I rarely enjoyed shooting for pleasure.

Shooting war points on the Pennsic archery range.

That night was the Hafla Jadida, held at Camp Mileacre. My friend who had lent me the use of his pavilion, Cameron, was playing host that evening. There was hookah and drumming and belly dancing… and a minor kerfuffle in which the staff from the Pennsic Performing Arts Pavilion asked us to drum more quietly so as not to disturb the performances that were taking place across the street. We left shortly after!

The next day I played babysitter to my friend Cameron’s two daughters while he fought in the battle taking place that morning. We explored the Pennsic playground, ate ice cream, and did arts & crafts in camp. That night we celebrated the birthday of my friend Annika’s son, Sebastian, with a S’mores Bar hosted in the Barony of Ponte Alto’s camp.

Wednesday afternoon I attended a three hour bardic coaching class, taught by Master John Littleton. That class was the highlight of my Pennsic University experience that year. Each student stood and performed at the front of the class and Master John offered feedback for improvement. It was like a private concert for and by those new to the bardic (performing arts) community in the SCA and I LOVED it.

That night was the traditional night for Midnight Madness at Pennsic. Midnight Madness is the only night during the week that the merchant area is open late and vendors are selling their stock at reduced prices. It’s a hugely popular activity, incredibly crowded and incredibly fun! Much alcohol was imbibed and much amber was later purchased as a result. It was a great night.

Thursday is traditionally the day that the Kingdom of Atlantia holds its Court. I can’t for the life of me remember how I spent that day, but that evening was spent in Court watching new friends receive awards.

A photograph taken during Court, trying to shield myself from the powerful Pennsic sun. Photo credit to Master Stephan Grimm.

So what day is really the last day of Pennsic? That answer can vary depending on the person or camp. According to the rules of the event everyone (and their personal property) must be off site by noon on Sunday. However, some folks start packing up and leaving as early as Thursday so that they can get home and have the weekend to recover before returning to the “real world” on Monday. What has become my tradition (and the tradition of the folks that I camp with) is to spend Friday morning saying goodbye to people and activities before beginning the pack out process Friday afternoon. Friday afternoon and evening is then spent packing the majority of the camp’s common areas – the common tents, the kitchen, the shower, etc. Saturday morning is then spent packing personal belongings so that everyone in camp can be finished and off site by Saturday afternoon.

And so Friday morning was spent saying goodbye to the archery range. I went and shot one last time before returning to camp to begin helping with the pack up process.

Writing this post has reminded me why I always take the time after Pennsic to write down my favorite moments from the War. Letting five years pass since my first Pennsic has allowed some memories of that year to slip away. This has proved especially saddening during this year – the year of COVID. Being unable to make new memories now has shown the value of those times gone past and the joy that spending time with friends and family has wrought.

To the good times.

A Review of 2019

Well. That happened.

On January 2nd – 322 days ago – I wrote a post outlining goals for the year of 2019. I opted to try a new goal setting format this year, breaking my goals down into three categories: things to do for myself, things to do for others, and new things to try – an activity to break me out of my comfort zone.

The year isn’t *quite* over, but since I won’t be attending any more garbed events until January I think now is a good time for a recap!

For Myself

❌Work to complete unfinished embroidery and sewing projects. Completing small tasks will give me a sense of achievement and motivate me to continue working on A&S projects.
✅Acknowledge that in the past, deadlines that were set to complete new garb were a source of stress. Plan future deadlines more carefully and/or commission or buy garb when possible in order to relieve that stress. Sometimes time is worth more than money.
❌Continue to update my blog with projects and event recaps.

For Others

✅Volunteer to help in the kitchen, serve, and/or wash dishes for any feast I attend.
✅Support my Peer, Her Highness Adelhait, & His Highness Christoph during their Reign as needed – retaining, donating largesse, etc.
✅Organize Pennsic Newcomers University Track & Newcomers Point

New to Me

❌ Make progress on learning to play a plucked/string instrument.
❌ Perform said instrument and/or sing at a bardic circle.
❌ Enter an A&S competition using a new skill. New skill still TBD.

In reflecting upon the goals that I was able to accomplish this year versus the goals that I was unable to accomplish, I can see that I fell victim to one of the classic blunders. While I didn’t get involved in a land war in Asia, I did underestimate the amount of time and effort that is required to support a Reign.

From the time that Duchess Adelhait and Duke Christoph stepped up as Their Royal Highnesses of Atlantia last November until the time they stepped down as King and Queen this past October, I attended 25 events. That list of events includes both Gulf Wars and Pennsic, which totaled three weeks of time. It’s also important to note that the majority of these events were not day trips, rather entire weekends – Friday through Sunday.

The effort required to attend this many events left me exhausted during the week. That exhaustion led me to spend my time resting and recovering, rather than working to complete embroidery projects or learning a new skill as I had intended at the start of this year.

It also does not escape my notice that while I was able to accomplish all of the goals assigned to the category of “For Others”, I was only able to accomplish one of the goals assigned to the categories for myself.

Despite that disparity between the categories, I learned a lot from this exercise. I gained a new perspective on the timing and effort of goals – “big” goals versus “small” goals – and I was able to recognize in myself the tendency to prioritize the needs of others over my own.

And so my goals for next year – 2020 – will focus on balance.

Stay tuned for a blog post in January with my goals for the next calendar year 🙂

A Painted Box

In November of 2017, I began the first steps towards forming a student-teacher relationship with Her then Excellency, now Princess Adelhait Fuchs. Her Highness and I agreed to a trial-period of at least one year before we would formalize our relationship with a contract. In 2018 we agreed that we felt our relationship to be a good fit and so we began making preparations for my Companion Ceremony.

While there are variations of student-teacher ceremonies throughout the Knowne World, there are some traditions that seem to be most common. In addition to the tradition of a contract and the gifting of a belt or favor, there are often gifts exchanged between student and teacher. When planning for the ceremony began, I started to brainstorm a list of potential gifts for Her Excellency based on what I knew regarding her whims and preferences.

I came up with many ideas, but the one that seemed to stick was the idea of a painted jewelry box. This idea was originally inspired by Dame Emma West, who painted a mirror box in the style of a reliquary box from the Uppsala Cathedral, dated from the 12th century. Her Highness, Princess Adelhait, is well known for her love of shiny things – jewelry and accessories – so I knew this would be a gift that she would both appreciate and find useful.

Originally I planned to paint a mirror box that I had purchased previously at Fool’s War in 2017. However, at Pennsic 2018, Her Highness’s husband Count Christoph purchased her a larger mirror box from Egill’s Woodstuffs and offered it to me to paint instead.

A picture of the mirror box, taken from Egill’s Woodstuffs Etsy page: https://www.etsy.com/shop/chuckjones

A picture of the mirror box, taken from Egill’s Woodstuffs Etsy page: https://www.etsy.com/shop/chuckjones

Before I began any work on the box, I sent a message to Dame Emma and asked her what steps she took in painting her box, what supplies she used, etc. She was incredibly helpful – as always – and so I followed her instructions exactly.

Next, I had to decide on a design that I wanted to use. For this step, I mostly browsed Pinterest since documentation was not of vital importance. I mainly needed visual inspiration and found plenty of examples under a search for “reliquary box”. I finally decided on the following design as inspiration since Her Highness’s persona is late period German.

The Pinterest caption read: “South German Jewel Casket, Nuremburg or Augsburg, c.1600”

After deciding on a design, I gathered my list of supplies and went to Michael’s to buy everything that I would need. I used very basic supplies for this project – nothing fancy – since this was my first time painting a box, a lot of the process would be trial and error. The first step was to gesso the entirety of the box. Gesso provides a white base layer so that the colored paints are not muted by the wood.

I bought a large tub of gesso because I knew I would use this for other projects.

After painting the box with two layers of gesso, I decided to make stencils for my design. I love working with stencils – I use them for my fabric painting as well – because they allow for a precision in design that is rarely achieved when drawing or painting free-hand. I came up with two stencils that I used in various combinations on different sides of the box. These stencils were drawn by tracing a variety of circular shaped objects on a brown, paper grocery bag. Very fancy 😉

Stencil #1
Stencil #2

I spent a lot of time visualizing how I wanted the stencils to be arranged in order to get the design that I wanted. But once that lengthy process was complete, I started to trace the stencils directly on to the box using a regular pencil.

The lid of the box after two layers of gesso and the traced design. It is very faint, but you can make out the pencil markings.

One the design was traced, I started to paint. Based on the box that I chose as my inspiration, I chose to work with only three colors.

I decided on these paints since blue and white are Her Excellency’s colors and the box that I used for inspiration was worked in gold.
I bought a very basic set of brushes to use for acrylic paints in a variety of sizes.

I started painting the gold first. I figured that if I went “outside the lines” with the gold, that would easily be covered by the blue. Covering blue with gold would not be as easy a task.

The first layer of gold paint.

Once I started to paint the gold I realized that I was going to need multiple layers. You can see in the picture above how light the gold color was initially and how streaky the paint started with that first layer. In the end, I had to paint four layers of gold in order to get the color that I wanted to achieve.

Second layer. Still very light and streaky.
Third layer. Almost there!

Luckily, acrylic paint dries relatively quickly so it can be layered easily without large amounts of time spent wasted while waiting for paint to dry.

Drawer design featuring my very fancy coffee lid paint pallet.
The inside of the box, with some of the trim painted gold.

Eventually I did need to work in time to allow the paint to dry – this ended up being the trickiest bit. I really had to plan out what sides of the box I could paint and allow to dry, while still being able to work on other parts of the box. The box also had to be flipped and laid on its side to be painted more easily, so that had to be factored in as well. In the end, I came up with a very rigid schedule of which sides I could paint when – in order to allow time for the paint to dry in between layers and the box being laid on one side or the other. This became especially important when I began to paint the remainder of the box blue.

The first part of the box to be painted blue was the removable box that sits inside of the top layer, to the right of the mirror. This smaller box was my test piece for the blue paint, and I’m very glad that I was smart enough to do it this way, because the blue paint turned out to be very disappointing.

This blue paint was terrible on its own.

You can see in the picture above that the blue paint was quite streaky. It was also much thicker and darker than the gold paint, not allowing for layers in the same way. I’ll admit, I had a bit of a panic attack when I first used the blue paint. The gold had layered so well and then the blue looked awful! I reached out to a few friends with more painting experience, in addition to searching the internet for a solution. One specific solution that I found online suggested adding Titanium White as a semi-opaque. Luckily this was the exact color that I bought at Michael’s. I added a dollop of Titanium White to Disappointing Blue and it worked like a charm!

The end result of mixing the white and blue. A bit lighter, but still a true blue. Nice and matte – no streaks!

I was very happy with how the blue turned out and it only required two layers, as opposed to the four layers I had to paint with the gold color.

A progress picture of the blue going on the top of the box.

In order to personalize the box for Her Highness, I added her device to the inside of the bottom drawer.

Her Highness’s device drawn in pencil.
The bottom drawer in its entirety.
The bottom drawer after painting.
Progress! You can see in this picture how I used masking tape along the edges to make painting the trim easier.
Painting is done! Here is the final view of the inside.
Final view of the outside.

Once painting was complete, I used a paint pen to outline the gold motifs and add a bit of detailing. This cleaned up the line that was painted by brush.

You can see the slightly darker gold outline here, with some additional detailing inside the gold motif.
Paint pen.

After the outline and detailing was done, it was time to lacquer the box. This was a trial in itself. For the first attempt at lacquering, I purchased a can of liquid lacquer from Home Depot and attempted to apply it in strokes using a foam brush. This did not work well. It was difficult to regulate the amount of lacquer on the brush and the strokes were very visible to me. It was especially hard to apply inside the box, with the smaller sides and corners.

The streaks of lacquer are quite visible here.

The liquid lacquer also caused a bit of a panic when I applied it to the bottom drawer over Sharpie, which I had used to outline the device, and it streaked horribly. I would never have guessed that lacquer could smear “permanent marker” but it does. Lesson learned!

I may have had a mild meltdown when this happened.

When I saw the Sharpie start to streak, I set down the lacquer and stepped away for the night. The next morning I attempted to fix the streaking by painting over the first layer of lacquer. I am quite certain this is some kind of no-no in the world of painting wood, but I knew I would be applying another coat of lacquer later and it was the only way I could try and fix the problem that the lacquer had created.

I used a small, white paint pen to cover up the silver streaks and also repainted with blue as needed. Not perfect, but I’m happy with the fix.

After the Sharpie incident, I opted to go back to the store, purchase spray lacquer, and try that instead. Not only did it work much better, but it dried much more quickly and I was able to apply 2-3 coats, finishing the box nicely.

The final step was to add some words to the mirror. I had a friend translate Her Highness’s favorite quote from Mean Girls (a favorite movie of ours) into Latin: “You’re really pretty! So you agree, you think you’re really pretty?” – “Tu ed pulcherrima! Tum adsentis, tu putas te pulcherrimam esse?” I then used the gold paint pen to write this on the edge of the mirror. This definitely could have turned out better – I wish I had a smaller, gold paint pen to use, but I was unfortunately out of time and the lacquer incident had taken more time to resolve, leaving less time for this detail.

The lettering with my grumpy reflection.

I applied a final coat of lacquer and then I was done!

I presented the box to Her Highness at Atlantia’s 12th Night event on January 12th.

Presenting the box to Her Highness.

Overall, I am very happy with how this project turned out. From start to finish, it took about two months to complete, though I was not working on it every day. It was my first time painting wood like this and while it wasn’t perfect, I managed to work around and fix most of the complications and mistakes that came up. It was a great learning experience and I already know how best to tackle another project like this in the future!

Pennsic 45 Top Ten

I have a tradition of writing up a “top ten” once I’m home from Pennsic every year. It’s a way to preserve memories while they are still fresh in my mind and hopefully, look back on the positive moments rather than dwelling on any, inevitable negativity that is likely to occur when 10,000 people share the same outdoor space for two weeks straight!

Pennsic XLV

My first top ten! Yes, I am jumping on the bandwagon in the spirit of positivity! And because I want to be able to look back on this and remember the details…

Leaving Cafe Merhaba after obtaining an ice cold beverage to follow a day on the archery range.

1.Water bearing! To my surprise, water bearing was THE most fun thing I did at Pennsic this year. Tuesday morning rolled around and I really wasn’t feeling up to putting my armor on for the battle, but I still very much wanted to support my friends and serve my Kingdom in some capacity. The experience was amazing. I had great conversations with fighters from all over the Known World, people asking me my name, where I was from, and thanking me profusely for being there and offering service – their kindness made a huge impact on me. I can honestly say that I can’t wait until I can water bear again next War!

2. My sister joining me for the weekend for her FIRST SCA event! Matilda drove from Ohio to hang out and experience the SCA for herself after seeing all of my posts on the Book of Faces. I’m excited to say that she had an awesome time and is planning to come back next year – I can’t wait!

3. Retaining for Their Majesties Atlantia. Our populace is incredibly fortunate to have such kind and generous Monarchs. And for myself, I have felt personally invested and connected during this reign more than any other.

Retaining on the battlefield. Photo credit to Master Ursus.

4. Marshaling the St. Sebastian’s Shoot on Saturday. It was a long, hot day, and I wasn’t relieved from marshaling duty until the shoot was about to end, but I didn’t even mind. I had so much fun! I marshaled a line with Lord Grimm and Lord Ronan – we worked well together as a team and assisted some 280 archers through our targets. My target station consisted of four lollipops to which many arrows were lost, but I kicked my shoes off early on to help searched for ammunition after every round. The look on an archer’s face when you return a lost arrow is priceless! This is another event I can’t wait to help with next War!

5. Bog nights. This will always be a staple of my Pennsic experience! I love adventuring down to the lake at night and wandering around with my friends, never knowing exactly what will happen, where I will go, or who I will meet.

Another beautiful day at Pennsic.

6. Wolgemut! Wolgemut has been my soundtrack to Pennsic prep for the past few months so seeing them live was practically a dream come to life for me. They were incredible! Sadly, the performance was interrupted because of a heavy storm. My friends and I took shelter in the Great Hall, mooched some Blue Feather snacks, and danced like crazy people until there was a break in the rain and we were able to wander back to camp. It was a night of general silliness, of which I am always a fan!

7. Knee injuries. Yes, a knee injury made my top ten list! Wednesday I woke up with incredible pain and swelling in my left knee. I still have no idea what the caused the pain, but I’m now fully recovered. Despite being out of commission for the entire day, I received care and assistance that made it MUCH easier to bear. Having such great friends there to help care for me and keep me company made me realize how lucky I am in my chosen family.

My new crossbow, made for both target and combat shooting. Yes, it is purple!

8. The Mother of All Battles. It was the only battle I managed to fight in this War, but it was an amazing experience! I’m not sure that I actually managed to kill anyone, but I still had fun and that’s what matters. A special thank you to Master Seamus and Master Godai for their encouragement and guidance on the battlefield – as someone completely new to combat archery, that level of support is beyond priceless. I still have a lot to learn but I’m looking forward to working with my fellow combat archers and fighters so that I can be ready for next year!

9. Ponte Alto Court, whiskey tasting, and glow stick battle. I always enjoy Baronial court and seeing individuals be recognized for the (seemingly) never-ending service and support that they give – to each other, to the Barony, and to the Kingdom. During Thursday’s court Lady Barbara gifted me with a beautiful box that will be returning to Pennsic with me every year. After court we had a whiskey tasting and social that was A LOT of fun. This was followed by the kidnapping and execution of a ceramic troll and an epic glow stick battle that culminated in the invasion of a nearby camp – still not sure whose camp that was… The night ended with the snacking of leftover couscous and the stumbly-bumbly walk back to camp. It was kind of a blur at that point…

10. Becoming authorized to inspect combat bolts. I LOVE to learn, so yes, sitting through a two hour class on the proper construction of combat bolts was a lot of fun. Although I wasn’t able to make it out to the battlefield much this War after being injured, I plan on being there as much as possible next year in order to be of service in this capacity.

A quick selfie break during an after-battle inspection of combat bolts with Baroness Cellach!

Goals for next year: two full weeks of fun! More classes (I was only able to attend one this year) – both learning and teaching, more fighting, more shooting! The countdown begins!

Pennsic 46 Top Ten

I have a tradition of writing up a “top ten” once I’m home from Pennsic every year. It’s a way to preserve memories while they are still fresh in my mind and hopefully, look back on the positive moments rather than dwelling on any, inevitable negativity that is likely to occur when 10,000 people share the same outdoor space for two weeks straight!

Pennsic XLVI

Now that laundry is done and I am mostly unpacked… My top ten moments from Pennsic this year were (in no particular order)…

Household selfie on our pilgrimage home from the archery range.

1.Camping with Grimmsfield for the first time at Pennsic as a household. The months leading up to the event were hectic and it seemed like almost every weekend or Monday we were busy with projects, but it was well worth it. Our camp looked amazing and we had all of the amenities and comforts that we needed for two weeks. Our heads of household, Lord Grimm and Lady Gunnora, not only organized everything, but were total enablers and supportive of all of our efforts to make the camp as awesome as it was.

2. Water bearing! This was one of my favorite activities last year and so I made sure to volunteer again this year – this time for the Woods Battle on Wednesday. The Woods Battle was very different than the Field Battle that I volunteered for last year, but fun nonetheless. The only downside was getting stung by a yellow jacket that flew up my dress and got a little too personal 😨😭 Many thanks to those that helped with water-bearing efforts this year – a much needed effort!

This is my water bearing garb. Get it? I match the cooler. /sensible chuckle/

3. My sister joining me for a full week this year! Matilda drove from Ohio to hang out for Peace Week since she enjoyed her Middle Weekend so much last year. We even took the time to submit her name and device to Herald’s Point so she will be official by this time next year – yay!

4. Teaching two classes for Pennsic University. This year was my first time teaching at Pennsic and it was great! I taught Russian 101 and a Newcomer’s class on How to Get Involved at Events. Both classes seemed to be very well received and I am looking forward to teaching them again next year!

Reviewing my class notes while students gather…

5. Marshaling St. Sebastian’s Shoot on Saturday. This has become one of my favorite activities every Pennsic! I love marshaling a different station each year and meeting archers from across the Known World. Though I wasn’t able to make a target this year, Master Seamus allowed me to marshal his very challenging target during the morning shift. It was great fun!

6. Monday Night of War Week – the Roman Bacchanal and SwampFest! I have a new love for Roman garb thanks to Lady Laelia and the Roman Bacchanal on Monday was awesome! Going to a party where 95% of the attendees are actually dressed to the theme was amazing. The party was fun, the company great, and the food & drink plentiful! Following the Bacchanal we wandered down to the Bog for SwampFest, which was equally entertaining. We wandered from camp to camp, sampling specialty drinks and snacks along the way. Here’s to hoping that SwampFest continues next year!

7. Shopping. This year was the first time that I made an effort to visit all the merchants and… well, I spent a lot of money 😂😂 I bought a lot of things I needed, quite a few things that I wanted, and maybe some extra mugs because, despite what my camp-mates may say, YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH MUGS!

Mugs… OMG mugs… Mug made by Master Eadric the Potter https://www.facebook.com/thatpotteryguy/

8. Volunteering for a Watch shift. Middle Sunday morning from 3am-6am, I was driving around in a golf cart with my sister and enjoying Pennsic during its (relatively) quiet hours. This is another activity that I enjoyed so much that I plan to do it again next year! We saw every camp and road, were entertained by hilarious, drunken conversations, momentary lost a wool blanket in action, and found a dollar in the road 😂😂 And, of course, nothing equals the beauty of Pennsic at sunrise ❤

9. Scotch Night at Crossbow. This was my first time sitting within the circle and taking a sample of everything – it was not only a lot of fun, but I actually learned a lot about Scotch!

10. Volunteering at Newcomers Point. I love being a Deputy Chatelain and helping out newcomers whenever I can. This year, I volunteered for about eight hours of shifts at Newcomers Point and I really enjoyed it! It was great to hang out with other Chatelain types, get to know them, and assist any newcomers to Pennsic and the SCA who stopped by!

Bonus 11. And last, but most definitely NOT least, being inducted into the Order of the Yew Bow at Atlantian Royal Court. All I can say is, wow! I’m still feeling a bit shell-shocked to have received such an honor, but I’m grateful for the entire archery community of Atlantia for always being so welcoming, fun, and supportive. I’ve already been told that now is when the real work begins and, yes, I have plans!

The scroll and medallion made for me by dear friends, awarded in Atlantian Royal Court on Wednesday of War Week.

Recap and goals for next year: This year was much more relaxed than years past – I spent a lot of time in camp, just relaxing and hanging out with the household. I’m getting closer to finding the right balance between busy and restful during my favorite vacation 😂😂 Next year I plan to get back onto the battlefield with a new Combat Archery kit, both teach and take more classes, shoot more archery! 346 days and counting!

Did I cry during tear down? Maybe…

Pennsic 47 Top Ten

I have a tradition of writing up a “top ten” once I’m home from Pennsic every year. It’s a way to preserve memories while they are still fresh in my mind and hopefully, look back on the positive moments rather than dwelling on any, inevitable negativity that is likely to occur when 10,000 people share the same outdoor space for two weeks straight!

Pennsic XLVII

Home from Pennsic – car has been unloaded, laundry is done, camp trailer is unloaded, camp inventory has been taken, list of improvements made, and pavilions set up to dry – deep breaths – and now I can rest and reflect. In all honesty, Pennsic was a bit of a challenge for me this year. There were highs and lows. But in the spirit of remaining positive, I want to continue with my top ten list that I do every year so here goes (in no particular order)…

A moment I captured of the sun shining down on the Pennsic castle.

1.Peace Week – yes, the whole of Peace Week was pretty much perfect. I feel like I struck that balance of busy and relaxed. I woke up early enough to get up and get going, take or teach classes, volunteer, relax in camp as needed, and then party at night.

2. EldVatten/Craic Inne/Octobar – I hung out here at night more than anywhere else this year, mostly to see my friends, Esa and William, but also because the vibe is great. My friend, Mella, and I would get there nice and early, get good seats, drink good brews, and watch Pennsic TV. This is also where I had my one “I am exactly where I want to be/Feel Good” moment of Pennsic that felt like true Nirvana.

3. Chatelain things – I spent a lot of time teaching Newcomer classes and hanging out at Newcomers Point again, like I did last year. I enjoyed it just as much this year. And, if all goes as planned, I will be even more involved in this process next year! Special thanks to Baroness Desiderata and Duchess Kalisa for their guidance, encouragement, and faith in my abilities.

4. Watch shift – seriously, y’all – always one of my favorite things to do at war. This year I did my watch shift with my friend, Alexandria, from 1-4am – the night shifts are THE BEST – and we rocked it. I wanted to do at least one more before war ended, but time ran away from me. Next year though!

5. Known World Courtesan’s Roman Bacchanal – Wow, the Courtesans did an AMAZING job. AMAZING. AMAZINGGGG. It was fun last year, but the improvements made this year were significant. Everyone looked wonderful – the food and drink was delicious – the entertainment was fabulous. Everything was perfect. I cannot wait for this party to happen again!

A Roman matron – it me.

6. Water bearing – another war favorite. This year I did more water bearing than I ever have in the past – being on the field for Allied Champions, the field battle, the Atlantian ten man, and the bridge battle – both rapier and heavy. Our army was amazing – they fought hard and honorably – and I was happy to see so many other water bearers there in support of our fighters. It made me proud to be Atlantian!

7. Retaining for Their Royal Highnesses. Since I was an SCA newbie when Ragnarr and Lynette had their first reign together, it’s been a joy to retain for them now and get to know them both a bit better. They are kind and fun loving people and I am truly looking forward to their reign together as our next Majesties.

Retaining for Their Royal Highnesses during Opening Ceremonies.

8. Supporting my then boyfriend in his chosen activities. While we are no longer together, I remain very proud of him and how well he fought during war. He placed 4th in the Rose’s Tournament and tied for 5th in the Squire’s Tournament. He also earned both a Shark’s Tooth and the Vexillum Atlantiae as a member of Windmaster’s Hill Baronial fighting unit.

9. Shopping! I said I would buy less stuff this year… I lied! Mugs, socks, jewelry, and a lovely chair from Lord Stefan von Kiel (Gryphon Furniture) all found a home with me.

A wimple purchased at a Pennsic merchant’s booth.

10. Wednesday Night, War Week – Atlantian Court, Ansteorran Chili Night, Midnight Madness. We came, we drank, we followed the flag. It was a lot of fun and I hope to have a repeat next year!

Despite the ups and down of this year, Pennsic remains my favorite SCA event. It always has been and always will be.