This year was unusual both for the amount of time spent at Pennsic and because Becky was not there until Friday. Becky had to go to Kansas City for work reasons, so I picked her up in PITT on Friday 8/3.
That meant a week of Aaron and me time, with neither of us at work or school or other distractions. As I told Aaron, I was very glad we had the opportunity, even if most of it was just packing and getting to Pennsic and setting up. It is probably the longest uninterrupted time the two of us have spent as just the two of us -- and it definitely bears repeating.
I will add that Aaron also made his first bardic circle performance at Southwind, singing Steeleye Span's version of Little Sir Hugh.
We also discovered that it really works better if Aaron and I go up first to get everything set up and then Becky joins us. We may take two cars next year, but who knows.
Aaron and I went up Monday night of the first week, arriving a little after midnight. Tuesday was entirely getting the cube unpacked and the tent set up, and trying to lend a hand where possible with the remaining general camp set up. We had a significant bump up in population for Southwind this year. This meant expanding the common tent and the camp, and additional expenses for things like Collegan (sp?) tanks for water filtering and propane for cooking and hot water. It also meant trying to figure out how to distribute the workload more evenly, especially given the irregular schedules of when we come in and leave.
I've always felt rather awkward about this because we can't show up for landgrab and help with initial set up, and we can't really help with tear down on the last Saturday. When we stay until Sunday, we can close up shop and fill in the sump (which always gives me flashbacks to funerals). But staying for the last Sunday is painful because the last Shabbos is such a drag. Everyone is leaving and breaking down and we are sitting around doing nothing and trying to stay out of the way.
Everyone understands about our particular limitations, and we try to make up for it with other camp chores during the time we are there and by donating somewhat more to the general camp fund. Still, it does produce some awkwardness.
In any event, being at Pennsic a full 10 days was incredibly relaxing. It meant I could take it easy in the evening if I felt tired, rather than push myself to go out because "this is my one chance to do bardic." Mostly Aaron and I shot archery by day, and during the second week I went to the Bardic Symposium meetings. I also participated in judging the Known World Poetry competition sponsored by the Poeta Atlantia.
It was also wonderful to see people. I was sorry I missed cellio (my fault, kept meaning to drop by), and shall not risk naming folks for fear of forgetting someone. But I was especially pleased to see a big contingent of "Dorigen U" at our annual lunch.
The biggest highlight, other than the bit at Maguire's Marauders, was my performance as one of the "and friends" at Mistress Marian of Heatherdale (aka Heather Dale) performance on Wed. of War Week. I did a story I have done before: "Mens Wits v. Women's Wiles." It went reasonably well. At least, the audience laughed in all the right places.
As a consequence of one of the bardic symposium sessions, I am thinking of actually putting together a CD. Well, not a physical CD, but a collection of spoken word stories that would be bundled and sold together. The technology has reached a point where this is very easy for spoken word, and Heather Dale's iBard.org website makes distribution simple. I also am thinking of doing exclusively "Bible stories." I put "Bible stories" in quotes because they include things like The Rape of Dinah poem (which I introduced this year at circles by saying "I'd like to tell you all a little Bible story) and other original poetry derived from the Bible stories, as well as Midrash.
Why? Turns out that I am occasionally cited as someone who uses the Bible successfully as a source of period storytelling material. Plus, there is a tendency to think of Bible stories as these cloyingly sweet Veggie Tales type things. I would like to do a collection called "Bible Stories that Kick Ass" (with a picture of Bilaam riding his talking donkey).
The biggest thing was that I quite rigorously and religiously kept my cell phone off when I was in camp, except for once a day turning it on to check for critical family updates (the FCC actually found me during one of these brief periods online, but it was relatively minor). I did my utmost to avoid professional conversations (as luscious_purple can tell you) and just unwind. As a result, this was probably the most relaxing and most fun Pennsic I've had in years. As someone remarked to me yesterday, "you look very relaxed and cheerful for someone whose car was broken into yesterday."