The event was ”The Tailor’s Story, or, There Will be Cheese”. It was so much fun!
It didn’t have many things I normal associate with SCA events (like lots of hugs/cuddles, singing and dancing), because we were attempting to respect social distance, despite the fact that about 40 of us were gathered in one place. But it was still wonderful to be there, and had a number of highlights for me.
First there was getting there. I was to travel with Villiam the Juggler, and he wanted to stop by the regular Friday evening Phire training session before we went. So I arranged with Johan that we would do our Friday acroyoga session at Phire instead of in the morning.
Friday morning I got up nice and early, did some hours of work, took a break and packed up the bedding I couldn’t pack the night before (as I was sleeping on those pillows), and then put the bedding bag and tourney chests into the car. There were still some hours to go before time to leave for Phire Practice (which starts at 17:00 on Fridays), so it felt a little early to pack the food, since I didn’t want the box of frozen black currants I was bringing for the cooks to use at the event to start melting, and other than that it was only toiletries that still needed packing, so I sat down to the computer, where I finally started sending messages to some of the people who had expressed interest in teaching at Norrskensfesten next month. Some of them replied straight away, and as I replied to replies the time just slipped away, and suddenly I realised that it was already after 16:00, I was hungry, and I still had to pack the food and toiletries!
So I shut down the computer, quickly tossed everything into their bags and warmed up the last of the soup that was in the fridge. Ate it, and managed to get out the door in good enough time that I pulled into the parking lot at the normal Phire meeting place at exactly 17:00, just as Villiam biked up to the door. Then he explained that he was only here to put a note on the door saying we were meeting today only at the site we usually use on Mondays. So I sent Johan a text message to let him know of the change, and he redirected.
I drove around campus the long way to get to the other site, since otherwise I would have had to turn across traffic on a busy street, at 17:00 on a Friday. I probably got there faster than I would have, though the actual distance travelled is about three times as far. (one can’t take the shortcut through the middle of campus just now, because they are replacing buried pipes, so the road it completely blocked off and dug up).
Villiam had a number of things he needed to do before he would be ready, so instead of just a quick 15-20 minutes of Acroyoga Johan and I managed 40 minutes of acroyoga. Then Villiam and I hit the road, enjoying good company, and the sound of heavy rain, for nearly three hours (Google says 2.25 hours, but we stopped for petrol, and, with the very heavy rain, didn’t always drive as fast as the speed limit permits).
We arrived around 21:00, claimed some beds (I took the top bunk, of course!), and changed into costume. Then I checked in with the King and Queen to confirm that they wanted my services as Lady in waiting for the weekend. (That role would have been held by my dear friend Aeirin, who is squire to his Majesty, but, sadly, at the last minute she came down with a sore throat, and couldn’t come, so she asked me if I could stand in, and, of course, I said I would be delighted to.) After visiting with them a bit I did my yoga, and then realised how tired I was, and went to bed at 23:00.
I rose at 07:30 on Saturday and got myself dressed and ready before breakfast was served, then got TRM’s feast gear out of the basket and set up and ready, and as soon as they were up I fetched them coffee and asked what they wanted for breakfast and fetched that. Note: In this site the dining hall (read: old school gym) is on one end of the building, upstairs, whilst the kitchen is on the other end of the building downstairs. Luckily, there was a small room right next to the gym that we could use for dishwashing, so while I ran back and forth and up and down stairs often all weekend to fetch and carry and deliver messages for the King and Queen, I didn’t have to go far to wash their dishes after every meal.
During breakfast TRM asked me if I was interested in holding the Sword of State during court, since their Champion has recently moved to Finland and couldn’t make it to the event. Yes! Of course I would love to do that. Then they asked me to find them two other Ladies in Waiting for court.
This was easily accomplished–the first two people I asked if they would enjoy doing that said yes. I also asked TRM if they would be interested in having people cued up ready to provide entertainment if it should happen that we needed to wait for someone to be fetched to court. They liked the idea so I told Villiam to bring his juggling balls etc. to court and be ready if they call on him, but to sit back down promptly when the summoned person arrives. Then I asked Kjartan if he wanted to do some music should they need a second set of entertainment while waiting for someone. Both were happy to stand ready.
Then it was time for the Tipspromenad (”quiz walk”), which was one of many contests of the day to determine the next Renväktare (”Reindeer Guardian”), who will take care of Sven, Reengarda’s most important reindeer. The first couple of questions were easy: which year did the SCA start? and ”who won at the battle of Hastings?”, but then the questions got harder, and Villiam and I (who did the walk as a team) had to guess for most of them.
After the walk Villiam and I stood on the porch and worked on sanding the wooden spoons we had carved the weekend before at Frostheim’s spoon carving workshop, whilst many others gathered around a fire and chatted. Then it was nearly time for lunch, so I found out what was for lunch (oven pancake that had been previously cooked, then cut into strips, and fried), and what flavours (the lactose-free choices, which Her Majesty needs were plain and with apple and cinnamon, while the normal ones came in plain, with cheese, and with cheese and meat), plus what side options (Drottningssylt (”Queen’s Jam”, which is a mix of forest berries) and bacon), and reported to TRM the options, and then fetched them their lunch. Having seen them frying the lactose free-variants in cooking oil, I decided that I would rather eat the food I brought with me, so I did. After cleaning up the lunch dishes I helped decorate the hall, and was more than a bit jealous that Keldor, who was wearing trousers and a tunic, got to do the climbing to hang the silk banners from the rafters, whilst I, wearing skirts long enough to step on, stayed on the ground. But, by the time we were done, the result was beautiful and didn’t quite look so much like a school gym with a plywood stage folded up against the wall.
I then had some time to visit with people a bit before reporting to the kitchen to get a special mid-afternoon meal (vegetable omelette that they had made for me, knowing that I wouldn’t be eating the banquet that evening (since I am never hungry at night), and they told me to come back right after court for a bit of the pie they were making from the berries I had brought). Thus fortified, I changed into the pretty wool tunic I made this summer and hadn’t had a chance to wear yet, and then reported to the Crown for our pre-court briefing. They explained to the other two ladies in waiting which order they wanted things handed over during court and gave us red sashes with the Drachenwald Dragon on them to wear to show that we were on duty. Then we helped her Majesty into the fancy over-dress with huge train, and the Kingdom arms on it both in front and in back. Then it was time to process in. First the Herald in his livery, then me holding the Sword of State, then the King and Queen, and finally the two ladies in waiting, carrying the Queen’s train.
Before we walked the King suggested that for the procession I carry the sword with the blade aloft, but once we were in place it would be fine to invert it, and rest its point gently on the floor, rather than trying to hold it up the whole time. Therefore I carried it aloft, but, once we were in place, forgot to invert it and rest it on the floor before the Herald called up the first two people (see the photo from early in court. I didn’t want to draw attention away from the business of the court, and I started wondering when a good time would be to invert the sword. Then the King and Queen started explaining to those first two people called up that while they had been admitted to the Orden Des Lindquistringes (Kingdom level service award) at the “Magical Court in the Sky” (virtual Court held over zoom) last March, they wanted to actually hand over the tokens and scrolls in person this event. Since I had been admitted to the Order of the Panache (Kingdom arts award) at the same event, and I had heard/seen that the first two tokens that would be needed were Lindquistringes, and that the second two needed were Panache, I figured that I would soon be called up to court, and could hand off the sword to the nearest Lady in Waiting, and, when I took it back, would be able to invert it then. This plan worked perfectly. Talking to people later, I learned that the audience never noticed the time of change in sword position, though at least one person thought early on in court that “gee, it is going to be hard to hold the sword like that all of court”.
Much to my surprise, and delight, when I was being given my scroll and token for the Panache, the Queen gave me her very own personal Panache.
After court someone else moved the thrones back and set up a small high table for TRM (unlike most SCA events, rather than setting tables together to make long tables that many people can sit on at once, they scattered small tables with only four chairs each, to give some possibility for social distancing, and for High Table, there were only the two chairs for the King and Queen). So all I had to do was get their feast gear out and set up and ready for them and pour their wine (that they provided) into their pretty glass serving bottle (in a very medieval style).
Then I went to the kitchen, and got my serving of black currant pie, with vanilla sauce, which was very tasty and not very sweet, which caused me to bounce happily upstairs saying “The kitchen loves me!” (But in Swedish, of course—other than court we were mostly speaking Swedish this weekend, though I did wind up slipping into English a number of times). Then I was done eating for the day, and not too long thereafter they started serving the banquette. I checked into see if they needed help, and carried a few trays of bread upstairs, but they had so many volunteers to serve that I instead sat at my table and worked on nålbindning whilst chatting with my table companions (and sometimes TRM, since my table happened to be directly in front of theirs). After enough time had elapsed that everyone had been served the first course, and had had time to eat some of it, I stood and started doing the toasts. As a viscountess, I was the highest ranked person in the hall other than the King and Queen, so I got to toast the Kingdom, which I did, in Swedish, explaining that in my 35+ years in the SCA I have lived in five different Kingdoms, and I could assure them all that Drachenwald is the best Kingdom in the Known World. Then Fardang (a Laurel and Master of Defence) toasted the King and Queen, and the three people on site who had Grants of Arms before court toasted in turn the Principality of Nordmark, the Prince and Princess of Nordmark (who were not present), and the Dream that keeps the SCA going.
After that final bit of official business I changed out of my dress and into my thorsberg trousers and a short tunic, and tied my hair up out of the way, and then Villiam and I borrowed back from TRM the sheepskins we had used to transform a couple of the hall chairs into thrones. We used the sheepskins to make a nice padded surface for the base to lay down on, and we did a half an hour of Acroyoga in the corner near high table. We didn’t call attention to ourselves—we weren’t an official entertainment, but now and then people noticed what we were doing and were amused watching us, nonetheless.
Later during the feast Gerdis, who was the first and third Norrskensbard, did a couple of short performances of songs that she had written for the King and Queen, which were well received, and the kitchen staff presented a short song as well, which was very delightful. They also announced the results of the many competitions of the day (including archery and Arts and Sciences), and the final result was that Master Fardang became the new Renväktare.
As the feast wound toward a close, I did my yoga for the day, and then spent some time just hanging out and visiting with people, finally getting to bed around midnight. It was necessary for me to ask someone else what time it was though—as we were getting ready for court someone asked the King if he had turned off his phone, and without thinking about it, I automatically turned mine off. Then, the second after I pressed the button, I remembered that I hadn’t actually memorised the code that I need to turn it back on since I got the new phone some months back. Oops! Luckily, I was mostly done eating for the day, so I only had to have Villiam send me a text message when I ate the pie so that I would be able to add it to my food log later. (yes, I did try turning the phone on, but while I could remember that there was a five involved in the new code, after two wrong guesses and the notice “you have once chance left”, I turned it back off and waited till I got home and could look up the number I needed).
Sunday morning I dressed again in trousers and a short tunic, and then, after breakfast I started taking down the decorations in the Hall—this time I was the one that got to climb in the rafters to take down the silk banners! Climbing is so much fun.
Then I packed my stuff, and we got on the road early enough that I was home before 13:00, after dropping Villiam off at uni to go to his meeting. The first thing I did was unload stuff, put food into the fridge, get out my pillows, and then take a short nap.