The Return from Pennsic: The SCA versus the Navy.

I don’t always post about my really real for real life here on this blog, because this is a place for the research I wish to share with like-minded folks. However, this being relevant to my SCA life, I thought I could share a bit about generally crazy our lives can get.

First and foremost, a disclaimer: I haven’t been a military wife for that long, and I met Geoffrey when he was still on shore duty. As far as things are going so far, I’m downright spoiled. This is all going to change in about a year, but I don’t have much to say about it yet, other than that there is a potentially big move involved. We did move from Rhode Island to New Hampshire this year, or rather, he moved last fall and I joined him in the winter once I finished my degree, so I already got displaced from my home of 11 years into a totally new, and entirely less urban-convenient area.

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Us at Palio di Stonemarche. Being all matchy Italian rennie and stuff.

VERSUS

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Us at the USS Constitution for a sailor’s re-enlistment ceremony and probably the worst hair day of my life.

Geoffrey is an active-duty submariner. That means for the most part [but not always], his home base is going to be in New London, CT. This makes us already percentages more stable than the majority of military families. Subs can be moved, though, such as up to a shipyard for repairs, which is what put us in Portsmouth, NH for the time being. This worked out well, since I was accepted into the University of New Hampshire for my MA, which is just 20 minutes away, and thanks to the Navy, I was given in-state tuition.

On the SCA front, of course, this had us switch baronies from Bridge to Stonemarche here in the East. Being in Bridge for over a decade and knowing everyone for so long made this probably the most difficult part of the move. Not that I didn’t know folks up here in Stonemarche, but it’s just not the same. Different events, different sites, the idea that we would have to drive more than an hour to our “local” events that seemed stupidly flabbergasting thanks to the New England mentality we both disgustingly adopted.  (Yeah, um, here in the East, aside from Tir Mara, the Canadian Provinces, we’re REALLY spoiled when it comes to events being close. We’re more population than area, and still, Montreal is only 4 hours away. Halifax or St. John’s, on the other hand…)

Then comes the questions: How involved do we get when we know we’re only here for 2 years? How attached do we stay with the baronies to our south? How is our mundane workload now going to effect our eventing?

Oh, that last one is a doozy. With Geoffrey being on a submarine now and not on shore, despite the fact that it’s up on blocks and full of holes, means that he has to work more on base, and leave is harder to get. We had a hell of a spring into summer. Especially with the odds of a deployment around every corner.  Pins and needles. He started taking every weekend off for events, figuring that Pennsic wasn’t an option, but once that changed, again, he put in for the 2 weeks of war, and we were good to go.

This is when the really fun stuff happens.

We knew he was up for Chief. Things were working in his favor for promotion, and we had a feeling that this could be it. And well, it was. We found out that he made E-7 while sipping iced coffees at Cafe Merhaba, while I waited to work the State Dinner. I watched him hold back emotions so much that tears welled in his eyes…and of course, you know, I footed the bill at the Cafe. What I didn’t know, however, was that in the Navy, making chief is more than just a big deal, it comes with 6 weeks of very high stress training, called induction or indoctrination or simply “Chief Season”. Some call it hazing, and some say that it’s not what it used to be, all I know is that both of our phones started blowing up. They wanted him back as soon as possible. He told them that this wasn’t happening. There was no way, even if we left early, we’d still need a day to drive and a day to unload, putting us into the weekend anyway. I watched as Geoffrey’s relaxed vacation turned into moments of anxious stress, and I kept saying that if he wanted to leave early, we could. At this point I was done teaching my classes. I couldn’t fight because I sprained my ankle 2 weeks prior (that’s a whole other story) and I was generally having a “meh” war. But he insisted we stay to help break camp, and even stay with the freehold I’m apart of in the hotel on the way home. And honestly, I’m glad we did, because he hit the pillow and passed the hell out. There’s no way he would have made a 10 hour drive home. No.

So we got home from Pennsic around 5:30pm on Sunday August 10th, and he dropped the trailer in our parking lot and went, “I’ll be back in a bit, I need to run to base.”

…So that bit? That bit took til 10pm. The car and trailer were still loaded. This is when Anna’s stress levels started to soar. My sewing machine, my inkle loom, OUR THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS WORTH OF GARB were sitting in space bags in tubs on a trailer, in a parking lot, with a ripped tarp that was strapped down so tight I couldn’t undo the knots myself.  And it stayed like this for a week.  It took Geoffrey falling out at PT due to dehydration for him to get an afternoon off so we could actually try to do things. This was Friday, we had been home for 6 days, and naturally, it had POURED during the week, so I was constantly freaked over the condition of the stuff, and you know, the condition of my husband, who had decided to stress so much he wasn’t staying hydrated enough. If it wasn’t for me feeding him, he wouldn’t have been eating enough, either. It was only his first week, but because he missed several days while we were at Pennsic, they were running him ragged, and my stress only compounded every day seeing him drag ass, and seeing our stuff get soaked. On top of that, I had to make a flag for the CPO selects on the base in 2 days. Which I have to admit I am most proud of (thank you, Wonder Under and the marvel that is iron on anything!) But at least this promotion means that he isn’t going on a fall deployment [as of right now]. So there is THAT [maybe]. *phew* [don’t hold your breath.]

It is now one full week since we have been home. The trailer and car are now empty, and the majority of the contents that need to go back into homes here in the house are now sitting in my living room waiting to be washed or hung back up, and are emanating a smell that is akin to campfire and Old Spice deodorant-infused man-sweat. Where’s Geoffrey? Geoffrey is in Boston, playing on the Constitution (!!!) for a week. I’m probably the only Navy Wife that is more geeky about this than all the guys are, especially since on Friday they get to take her out onto the water, and I can’t go, sit on the pier, and cry in jealousy. I got $40 for laundry, Oxyclean, and a kiss, and he’s gone. Of course before that, I had to press his dress whites, sew on patches to 2 new sets of NWUs, even breaking a needle and having it fly up my nose. No, I’m not making that up. The pointy end of the needle FLEW INTO MY NOSE. If it wasn’t for my nose ring, it probably would have hurt a lot more than it did. The words I uttered are already circulating the world and causing pearl clutching as far as Siberia. I assure you. I never did fine the pointy end. I keep blowing my nose wondering if it’s stuck. For those that don’t know, it costs servicemembers A LOT OF MONEY to maintain uniforms. I probably just saved us $50 in patch-sewing alone. That’s clearly $50 I can use on fabric. Clearly.

..And now he has to buy all new uniforms, and I get to re-patch all his other sets of NWUs.

So, he’s gone all week. That gives me a chance to FINALLY un-Pennsic the house, a week later. Catch up on the rest of my sewing work…a week later, and generally attempt to finally decompress and make sure he can come home on Friday and relax. Then I have one week left before I start a whole new degree at a whole new university, and he’s not through with this until the 15th of September.

No pressure.

I Love you, muffin. ❤ It certainly will be an interesting 2 more years of sea duty.

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I MADE DIS. (Things I don’t normally make that I just made.)

In between sewing way too much, and horrifying Pre-Pennsic Panic (tears, there are tears. I know I’m not the only one.) I’ve made a couple things that have been totally new to me, and therefore I feel the need to share them with people looking for Roman and Byzantine stuff here, that aren’t going to find it in this post. (Sorry.) However, I do hope you find inspiration for working outside of your comfort zone and exploring new projects.

 

First thing: I made a belt. Seriously! I have an apprentice sash I made from faux silk and fancy stitches, but I can’t wear that all the time, so I needed a sturdier leather belt for times I need to carry a pouch or bum around not in Byzantine. This was an adventure. My husband has leather working experience, and I figured he would just do it for me. NOPE. He made me do it while fielding a tapestry of profanity so thick it’s probably seen as smog over the Boston area. Here are some pics of my experience.

I started with a 3/4″ belt blank from Tandy, and an 8th Century Syrian belt buckle from Raymond’s Quiet Press…got green dye and Geoffrey’s basic tools and designed a pattern that I felt could work. This was my first time tooling leather, ever, so I just kept telling myself that straight lines were for sissies, mistakes are period, and if anyone needs to get that close to my belt to see my mistakes, they need to buy me dinner, first.

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IMAG2367 Practicing with the tools and my thingy at the end of the belt.
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I managed to do this with the knife. Somehow. I impressed Geoffrey.
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The idea I came up with. I went with thingies and Apotropaic amulets (Evil Eye). Very Levantine that fits not only my persona, but the Syrian belt buckle I got. I have no idea if it was used on belts in period.
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Dyed green outside on my sunny deck full of pine needles, and potted herbs that attract things that will sting you.
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After it was dyed and sealed, I used hide rejuvenator to lube it up and moisturize it. It absorbed two full coats. Oof.
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Geoffrey attached the buckle, and done!
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Here’s the buckle in my green hands.

 

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! I ALSO PAINTED A SILK BANNER FOR MY PAVILION!

I have no idea where I find the time for this stuff, but Geoffrey made this pretty finial for the Green Monstah, and said we needed a banner. After me giving him a dirty look for a solid minute, I agreed, and ordered the supplies from Dharma. Fortunately I have friends who have done silk painting before, and the concept overall is very simple. It’s controlling the dye that’s tricky, and understanding that mistakes do happen and not to care that much since it will be up on a pole.

Here is the Green Monstah. It’s in Geoffrey’s colors. I am not a Red Sox fan and hate all things Boston, and he doesn’t watch baseball, but the name was apropo:

The plain red linen banner simply cannot do.

So we had to go all out with a war standard. Now, there are rules that need to be followed for displaying heraldry, but the SCA tends to be different than the real world, so the order I did is perfectly fine. Most importantly, your country or kingdom needs to be on the hoist, which is the pole, and then you work out from there. In this case, mine is East Kingdom (populace badge), The Northern Army, Geoff’s Arms, and then mine. When marshalling married arms, the lady is always RIGHT. This means my dolphin is way at the end, but hopefully the breeze catches it enough.

With the waterbased resist applied on the designs. Next time I want to use the rubber gutta, I think it will work better.
And painted! Loaded with mistakes, YAY!
It’s currently making a lovely door screen as it finishes drying.

 

All I have to do now is wait for it to dry, rinse it to remove the resist and excess dye, and then toss it in the dryer. Oh, and attach it onto the pole, of course. It will be sewn onto the casing part of the red linen flag in the above picture so it fits properly.

 

So there you have it, folks. Anna did stuff she doesn’t normally do and did not kill or maim anyone in the process. I definitely want to try another silk banner with better brushes and gutta, I think it will make a difference in controlling the dyes.

Now if you excuse me, I need drink 3 more cups of coffee, and start sewing even more stuff. We leave on Saturday morning. ~_~

Facebook Group for Pennsic Classes

I’m REALLY MEAN when I teach at Pennsic and only give out outlines when I teach my classes. There’s multiple reasons for this:

 

1: You can’t show up, jack a handout, and then not stick around for my class thus shorting the people who stay a handout.

2: It’s harder to plagiarize me. Yes, it’s happened. Really people, just cite me in your work.

3: It makes you become more engaged in what I’m teaching by following my outline, and taking your own notes for your own benefit. I do pass around supplemental materials and draw pretty pictures on the whiteboard and I want you to pay attention.

4: IT SAVES TREES. If I printed everything I needed for a 2 hour class, it would be a small booklet, and cost me a lot.

 

However, this has a downfall. Those that want to go to my classes and then can’t get shafted. So I was thinking to myself, “How do I make this easier for folks who can’t make it? You can’t learn much from a boring old handout.”

DING. SOCIAL MEDIA.

I understand that not everyone has Facebook, I apologize, but not everyone has Google + either, and I find the Facebook group interface a bit better for discussion anyway. Therefore, I created a group on Facebook that I plan to fill with all of my class goodies after war, so everyone can jump in, ask questions, and engage in a sorta online class. This is pretty beta, and I hope it works out. If it doesn’t, I’ll just can it.

Group link:

AΔΣ’s Pennsic Classes
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1448455932095583/

 

Please feel free to join in advance for when the fun begins.

Teaching at Great Northeastern War and other fun publication opportunities.

The semester is over. YAY!

The summer means I work…work…work…(with that said, if you are reading this and you need garb, please send me an email!) And because I wasn’t able to work all last semester, and I was planning to study abroad this summer but the trip was cancelled…My heart and my wallet were not really prepped for Pennsic. Right now, there is only a slim chance I will make it for war week, but with the dates being so much earlier this year, and the fact that I am working on applying to grad schools and taking the GRE (EEP!) I think it’s more advantageous that I take a year off from the Big One, focus on real life (boooo…) and…GET TO PLAY AT LOCAL EVENTS I HAVEN’T PLAYED AT BEFORE!
 Such as: Great Northeastern War in Maine! YAY! It’s always a week or two before Pennsic, which makes it hellish to do both, so I’ve always skipped GNEW for Pennsic. This year, I don’t have to!

I will be teaching my Roman Dress class at GNEW, and my new Varangian Guard class, which is a history lecture, not anything about fancy garb. I will try to include what I do know about what was worn, but that’s not the focus of the class. I had contemplated doing the Byzantine Garb class as well, but I think 3 classes would be overkill for a weekend event. Even though I’ve taught 3 classes in one day at Pennsic (and lost my voice in the process) I’d much rather be able to do other things at GNEW such as um, fight, than teach all day.

I will be at War of the Roses this weekend in NY, but I am not teaching. I’m planning on relaxing the best I can during a soggy weekend.

I am also planning on writing a Compleat Anachronist this summer, as well as some articles for the East Kingdom A&S e-zine, Ars Scientia Orientalis. I need to get my work out there. So even though Pennsic isn’t an option, that doesn’t mean my life with the society ends. I merely look at it as 2 weeks I get to spend quietly with my boyfriend, who is unfortunately set to deploy in October, and work on documentation and publications. 🙂

Happy summer, and safe Memorial Day weekend!