Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rapier Peerage Proposal

So the more I’ve come to think about it, I think including rapier duelists into the chivalry is a bad idea.  I know many of you support the notion that all combat activities should be included into the chivalry and dislike the notion of a separate peerage for rapier.  Here is why I think what I do:

Within the laurels, there are many diverse arts, so diverse in fact that none are a master of all.  When you are inducted into the laurel, it may be for one specific art or many different arts.  But say you were inducted in based on one specific art, and then you take up another.   How do you know how you will compare to the others out there.  Arts and sciences being so diverse a topic, it would be ridiculous to have a peerage for each area of study, especially when new areas of study are found.  Is an expert on Viking wire weaving going to know about 13th Century fonts or 16th Century Venetian glass?   No, but they can hopefully base decisions about a person’s skill and knowledge on their research as well as interpretation.

When it comes to marshal activities, we have a much more defined set of activities.  For combat against an opponent, in the SCA we have two different forms of adult combat: armored combat and rapier combat in all its forms.  Mastery at one activity will not necessarily translate to mastery in the other.  We have many people who enjoy both activities.  Now yes, if rapier were included into the chivalry, like with the arts, you could have someone knighted for general combat, as opposed to specific form.  You could also have divisions within the chivalry: one for armored, one for rapier.  But the second option is much like what is being proposed; a separate order for rapier. 

The current Prince of the East has made it one of his goals to be inducted into the Order of the Golden Rapier.  He is a renaissance man:  a top archer, a knight, soon to be a duke, he made the East Kingdom’s Pennsic Rapier Champions team, he’s an artisan; he can do it all and well.  By including rapier into the Chivalry, he would have no goal for which to shoot for, as he’d already be included into the terminal award.  Yes, he could still be inducted into a “lesser” award once peerage was granted to rapier.  But how would he know where he is viewed?  How would one know the difference between a knight trying out rapier for the first time, or a person knighted for their skill as a duelist?  If we segregate the rapier fighters from the armored combatants within the Chivalry, how is that any different than a separate peerage?

Just my random thoughts…

Monday, August 5, 2013

Pennsic - Part 2

Monday morning I awoke, butterflies in my stomach.  I grabbed something lite to eat and then headed to Carillion to pick up my tithe for the OGR meeting.  Jehannine made me a keg of home brewed porter.  I carried the keg out to the field and waited for the day to begin for me.  I felt I was warm enough and decided not to do any pickups in the morning.  I found out I had been paired against the baby Midrealm Warder for the champions bout.  Getting to the East Kingdom tent, I was in a good mood.  I dropped my stuff and then from across the tent I spotted my ex-wife.  My mood shattered and I started pacing.  I know I should not have let it affect me so, but it did.  When the tournament started she was no where in sight, so my mood started to improve.  I was the 15th fight out of the 20 single bouts.

I can recall my opening shot.  I thought I had him.  My tip placement was perfect, right inside my opponents right shoulder, no parry, no movement from his buckler.  Unfortunately, I just dimpled his fabric, not scoring a touch he could feel.  Then there was an exchange of blades, and somehow my blade got trapped in my opponents guard.  Not the tip, but about 4-6" behind the tip.  It was wedged in good.  Once I noticed the blades were entangled, I dropped my blade and my opponent dropped his.  We tried to work my blade free but were unable to.  The marshals took over trying to free my blade.  While watching them, I figured I should unscrew my pommel and drop the furniture off the blade, so that it would take weight off the back end.  Eventually after about 2 minutes they got my blade out, and with no damage to it (surprisingly).  The tip popped off so it was re-taped on.  The bout was restated and I just was not the same as I was prior.  I knew I was not sharp, though I tried.  I was back on my heels and my opponent landed a beautiful light thrust to my throat.  It took me a second to realize it as the calibration was spot on (plus through an over the mask hood, the bib of the mask, and my gorget).  Eh, so I lost my bout.  And we lost the war point by 1 bout, with the final score being Midrealm - 11 / East Kingdom - 10.

So thoughts from champions:

  • What a freaky thing to happen, with getting bound like that.  Next time I need to remember I had a dagger in my offhand and close for the kill.   (kidding... I think I did the right thing.)
  • I had thought about taking out a longer blade.  I had been using the 39" Darkwood since March.  I had thought prior to the fight and as they were getting my blade unstuck that maybe I should think about switching to the 43" blade.  This had me second guessing myself through the remainder of the bout and afterwards.  Next time, go with my gut.
  • Redouble and second intentions need to become a better part of my game.  My point was on target with my opening shot but just a hair short.  Had I made the step in with the shot or even afterwards, the point would have been mine.
  • I was saving myself for champions in the early part of war.  I'm glad I did not injure myself before I had a chance to fight.  I think not doing any warmup bouts was the right call for me on that day.  Each day will be different.
 After Rapier Champions, we had an unofficial OGR meeting.  This being my first meeting, I brought some booze, as did Davius.  Jehannine made me a 5 gallon keg of porter that was amazing.  Davius made a bucked of 1-800-mess-you-up or some such concoction which hit you hard but tasted damn good.  I love a good beer, but normally cannot drink a lot.  I wound up having 5-6 mugs of the porter.  Needless to say, I was drunk.  We discussed a few things with the prince and princess.  And of course there was much drinking too... oh, and cookies.  Now I can neither confirm nor deny who ate the cookies the prince allegedly left behind, but had I partaken of said cookies, they must have been tasty.

Having not had much to eat, a bunch of TOAD went to the food court.  Drunken times in the food court was hilarious.  After food, I retrieved the remainder of the keg and brought it with me to Sharc Pit so that it would be a little lighter to carry.  We brought the keg to a Midrealm camp, where I shared the beer and they shared tiramisu.  Finally with the day being done, I dragged the keg back to Jehannine's camp.  It was reported to me that the remainder filled just over a growler.  I'd say that was a pretty good day of drinking.  No clue what I did that night other than pass out.

To be continued.... Part 3 - Rapier Woods battle

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pennsic - Part 1

This was a slightly odd Pennsic.  Jennie was not able to join me so I was flying solo this war.  We had a smal group of TOADs camped in our usual spot:  Edmund, Emeline, Firebow, Mable, Junior (Christopher) and myself.

I left from work on Friday around 4:00 PM to start the drive.  I was expecting to stop somewhere along the way to sleep, but wound up making it to Cranberry, PA where I found a room.  I wasn't tired, so I figured, why not go check in at Troll, so I made the drive up to Pennsic and got my medallion, this way I could avoid the lines in the morning.  I headed back to the hotel.  As I was just about to turn off the light and fall asleep, the power went out for the whole area, nit just the hotel.  I spent a few minutes in the lobby trying to find out what was going on (as there was an alarm chirping in my room), realized that I would be sleeping in a tent with trucks blowing their horns nearby, so I trudged up the stairs to the room.  The beeping had stopped, so I opened the window and went to sleep.  About 90 minutes later the power went on, so I then had to turn off all the lights and fell back asleep.  In the morning I drove to the storage unit to get my yurt.

Arriving at camp, I unpacked the yurt.  Firebow arrived just a few minuted later.  A couple of the DeLondres kids (can I call them kids since they are now over 20?) helped me start setting up the yurt.  We had trouble with getting the rafters in and the roof ring.  We needed to make the band around the top tighter to support the roof.  Additionally, I got a ladder so 'bow could stand on it with the ring as we got rafters in place.  Thank you Magnus for the help and advice.  With the structure up, the roof and walls went on easily.  By that point I was able to get some of the furnishings for the tent from storage before heading to the airport to pick up Chris.  I was running late, or thought I was for the airport run, so I was doing a bit over the speed limit.  I got to the airport about the same time as his flight and met him in baggage claim.  We headed up towards site with a stop for food and at Walmart for supplies.  I thought I had extra bedding for him in the storage unit, but when we checked, it was not there, so we drove to the other Walmart in the rain.   Getting pack to site, we finished setting up the tent and with our storage runs.  Saturday night was somewhat relaxed.  I was going to try and make it to opening ceremonies so I could guard HRM Ian'ka of Atenveldt, but was still setting stuff up.

Sunday was the belted, unbelts, heroic champions and allied champions.  As I was prepping for the rapier field battle which was to follow, I got to see Brennan called before the thrones and be given a writ for his induction into the Order of the Chivalry.  The field battles were over pretty quickly.  They were run three times.  I wound up with nine kills over the course of the battle, which was a lot considering how badly we outnumbered them.  But our opponents gave a spirited fight.   

Part 2 - rapier champs and the OGR meeting... (coming soon)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Southern Region War Camp & #95

Wow, what a weekend. I'm still kind of in a daze from everything.  This weekend was Southern Region War Camp.  To say it was hot and humid would be an understatement.  We set up a household garage sale to get rid of some items that people no longer need.  I was able to sell off a bunch of items.  I hope their new owners are happy with the purchases.

Friday night, I got confirmation that a household member was being inducted into the Order of the White Scarf in An Tir on Sunday, so I was very happy we were adding another don to the household.  Little did I know we were adding two.

Fencing was interesting.  I didn't warm up prior to the tournament starting as I was trying to set up my stuff and sell it off.  It was somewhat of a lazy tournament.  I fenced pretty well I think.  Good bouts against Thomas, Caine, Griff, Jean-Michel, and Davius among others.  It was fun and relaxed.  Something nice, I was not pressing, which has been good for me.

After the formal tournament, I did pickups with Lissa and Christofel.  Lissa you cannot give your blade to as she's developed a good inside game.  So I denied her my blade holding it very low to see what she'd counter with.  She had trouble with it.  We talked about it afterwards and I offered a suggestion to try out.  I then did some pick ups with Christofel.  He was rolling his disengage off the shoulder which I was able to take advantage of it.  I also gave him some new ideas to try.

After that, I suited down and drank a lot of water.  Duke Edward taught classes on melee, but as my ankle was bothering me, I sat in the shade, continued to drink and drink more water.  Archery champs was taking a while, so court was moved to where the final round was shooting.

Thor was called in and surprised when they inducted him into the Order of the Maunche.  It was well deserved, and I am so proud of all that he has accomplished.  Thor is an inspiration and one of the best people I know.

Molle and Charity were called into court next, as both received awards of arms.  If you've never met them, they are two incredible women.  I'm marrying one in October, and the other makes one of my best friends very happy.  They do a lot more that they think, and both are humble, beautiful women who make the world around them a better place.  I knew about both these awards.  What I didn't know about was the next one....

So I get called into court.  I tried to plead my case by stating, "What happens in Canada, stays in Canada,... or so I thought."  After explaining to me that he had a bone to pick about my absconding with his wife and scurrying her out of the country with a bus full of nefarious characters, she then must have had Stockholm Syndrome as she made him watch a movie, which Mabel brought on the bus.  Anyway, soon thereafter, they call into court the Order of the Golden Rapier.  The best words I can use is, I'm humbled.

Its been a long journey, and its not over yet as I still am not the person I want to be.  But I have a ton of people to thank for helping me along the way, and hopefully, I can help others as much if not more so, because if we are not giving back, all we are doing is taking away.

So in no particular order, thank you to the following people:

  • Shawn Waggoner for putting the first rapier in my hand and teaching me the basics of fencing while I was in college.  Without having met you at the Florida Renaissance Festival in 1996, my life would be very different.
  • Jody Livingston and Christopher Umbs, for running the fencing booth at NJRK in 1997, and so much more over the years.
  • Scott Lubin for getting me involved in the SCA.
  • Hank Salvacoin for teaching a kid on crutches how to break down a fight and what to look for
  • Murray Blehart for inspiring me to get into SCA fencing after recovering from my broken ankle.
  • Those who attended the South Orange and Piscataway practices and really helped me along the way at the start.  You all pushed me hard.
  • The East Kingdom Fencers everyone needs "an enemy" who push you to get better.  Its true friends who help you along the way.
  • The Dancing Goats of Atenveldt for making me feel at home across the country at a foreign war.
  • TOAD, for the best family of friends
  • Kirsten Lotano & Matthew Lecin... for believing in me when I would doubt myself.
  • Jennie Ertle... for seeing in me a better man and making me a happy person.'
I know there are people I am leaving out but its to everyone I owe thanks, so thank you.  As I tell everyone, we are a volunteer society, without people helping people, it doesn't work and will collapse.  Help out your friends, someone new, or even someone you don't like.  Your world, and ours, will be a better place for it.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Practice Report - May 30

Last nights practice was a little weird... not in a bad way, but more in an unexpected way.  We had some people show up to practice that I would not have expected to see.  Gryphon, Xavier, and Alys all showed up.  Alys was doing drills last night with people to work off her rust from life.  Gryphon hung out and Xavier just popped by.  Others in attendance were Malcolm, Mabel, Jane, Firebow, Scrooby, and Diego.

I showed up early because Antonio was not going to be there.  Edmund had Gabriel for the night, so he swung by to open up the site, but Malcolm, Jane, and I were already there.  Mabel showed up and we started by doing some stretching outside on the grass, which I led.  We then moved back inside to fence.

Malcolm and I continued with rapier and dagger drills and then did a couple of passes.  I did notice while drilling that my hand was cramping, but it went away as the night progressed.  Next up was some passes with Jane.  She took a buckler, and I went single.  The last time I faced her prior to her showing up to practice a few weeks ago was probably 6 years ago.  They were some fun passes last night, but I felt like the distance we were fighting at was to my advantage, as she seemed to be hovering in that middle ground where I could hit her at extension but she could not hit me.  I was very surprised by her hand speed.

After some rest I fought Firebow.  We got locked up at one point and I took the end of his quillion right into the tip of my thumb.  Dumb mistake on the close as I don't want to be that close to any opponent as bad things can happen.  I much prefer to fight at distance.  After that, I put the dagger down for a bit, told him to keep his.  On our last pass, I picked my dagger back up.  The interesting thing was he did not notice that I have been fencing with a much shorter blade.  He was using his 40, I was giving up distance to him.  We talked for a bit afterwards about the passes and more.

My last fight of the night was Scrooby.  Fast, energetic, but he was either giving me the flat of his blade and had his dagger in very close.  

Overall, I'm feeling like I'm getting back to near where I was a few years ago before the shoulder injury.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Practice Report - May 23, 2013

Practice last night started out slowly.  I opened the site, and it took people a while to get there.  Eventually Edmund showed up, and we started doing some stretching.  After that, Malcolm showed up and we continued with the stretching.  With just the three of us, I ran some rapier and dagger drills.  A little after 8, Firebow and Orlando showed up.  They started fencing while I was finishing drills with Edmund.

Prior to Orlando and Bow showing up, we were doing drills in just masks and gloves, so I suited up.  Its been a few weeks since I fenced with Orlando.  We started out fencing single, me with my normal blade (37") and he with my 30".  I was able to use the reach advantage against him, since unlike with a 40"+ blade, I was not giving up a lot in terms of tempo.  I wound up pulling the tip off the blade he was using, so he switched back to his 40".  I was able to maintain my distance and play the game I wanted.  I finally feel like I am learning the measure of this new blade.

After that, I fenced Scrooby, who has just moved down to the area from Boston.  I met him at K&Q up in Montreal.  We sat next to each other at dinner.  I had noticed something in his footwork earlier while he was fencing Firebow, and wanted to see if I could take advantage of it.  Basically, he had a very wide stance, and was leaning in and out, so when his weight was forward, I knew I could press the attack on him.  After some passes, I told him what I observed and how I thought I was able to work it against him.

That was all the fencing I did last night, but the best thing was, I never felt my hand get cramped.  I'm not sure why that is, but I'll certainly take it.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Practice report - 5/2/2013

So tonight we got started late, but it was a good practice overall for me.  We did about 35 minutes of stretching and calisthenics prior to fencing.  I've been hurting since Tuesday when I went on a lunch walk with coworkers.  We did about 3 miles in 45 minutes and afterwards my ankle was sore. It was yesterday, but was telling OK today, until after practice. 

I only fenced with two people tonight, Judy and Garrick.  Judy got frustrated after a few passes, mainly she needs to knock the rust off.  She was flicking her blade at mine from 3 when I would attack from 3 or 6.  Since there was no real parry, I just kept going.  So after the first few I stopped and we drilled for a few minutes.  Then we just fenced non stop, calling out the good blows.  This helps her get into that space mentally where it's just reaction, no time to think.

Garrick was an interesting fight.  I found myself occasionally too close to him, starting at the point of his blade coming at me.  I was able to get out of it most times, but it means I need to be more conscious of my measure, especially with using a shorter session than what I'm used to.  I am getting used to the new blade length.  Yes I'm giving up a few inches in reach but it's less than half the length of my foot. 

So all in all, a good evening, but I'll be posting for it fit a few days.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Practice Report . Drew Med Fest Demo

Practice 4/18/2012

So again our intrepid duelist forayed to the wilds of Settmour Swamp to do battle with his biggest enemy... himself.  I got to practice a bit late, due to making a stop to find supplies for the wedding while they are in season at the dollar store.  I got there just in time for stretching, which is good as I'm not as flexible as I once was.

After stretching, I warmed up with Antonio.  I took out my 30" rapier against him.  He matched me, so it was an intense battle with small sword.  I love fencing with the shorter blades, all forte, no waiting.  Not the best way to warm up by going out there hard for the first bouts of the evening, but certainly a fun way to play.

After Antonio, I'm not sure who I fought, maybe Edmund.  My right hand was cramping, and my point was bouncing all over the place.  I felt like I had no control of the blade, so after the bouts, I changed out the Hanwei 43" blade I normally use for a 37" blade from Darkwood.  I figured I would see if there was some improvement, both with control and pain.  I took the blade out against Kat.  I went single, she went dagger.   I felt like I had more control of the point, but not as much as I normally do.  Also, I noticed the hand cramping more around the thumb. Additionally, my range was now off, coming up short on hitting my opponent by about 2-3".  Again, this was something I had experienced back in November, when I decided to go back to the 43" blade.

So hand cramping, knowing my measure was not happening, I tried to think what would be the best thing for me?  So I went out and just worked on my basics while bouting with Jose, Kat's boyfriend.  This was his 3rd or 4th time suiting up, and he just gets things instinctively.  I was working on one concept, keeping my hand relaxed.  I'm not going to out muscle Jose, so no point in trying to.  I was able to hit some nice things, but the hand was cramping severely.  After we went a bunch of passes, I showed him one of the moves I hit him with and how and why it works.  When I had hit him with it, I could see the WTF moment through his mask. When I explained it to him, he caught it quickly.

After that I suited down, as did everyone else and we headed to Applebee's for food.  Service was a bit lacking on promptness.  That's one thing the diner of disappointment had going for it, semi-prompt service.  So we may be on the lookout yet again for a new place for after practice.

Edmund and I at Med Fest - 4/20/13

Med Fest - Drew U - 4/20/2013

So Jennie and I had a morning meeting with the priest at her church to review some pre-wedding stuff, thus we got to the demo a little late.  There were a few fencers there, but the only one I wound up facing all day was Edmund.  We started out, me with the Darkwood 37" and a dagger.  Very quickly my hand cramped up again.  So after a bunch of passes to entertain the crowd, I switched the grip on the sword, back to the original grip it came with.  Overall, I think the grip I made was too square and not the right shape for my hand, thus I had to grip it in an unnatural way.  This then caused the hand to cramp and sent my blade control out of whack.  I fenced for the rest of the day with the old grip in place.  I noticed later in the day that my thumb was out of the normal alignment with the rest of my hand.  I could not even get my thumb to line up flat with the rest of the fingers as muscles in the pad of the thumb were just so tight.  So Retep helped me out a bit and I was able to get in some more passes and I felt like the control was coming back.

I think I am going to try and rest it more this week, but we'll see how successful that will be with work and life.  I'd not sure which blade I will be using this week at practice, the Hanwei 43" or the Darkwood 37".  I'm leaning towards the shorter blade, but I know I will be using the original grip.  We shall see how this works out.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Practice Report - 4/11/13

So last night, the weather was nicer.  It was warm during the day, so fencing in an unheated building was not too bad.  Getting to practice, the parking lot was full, so I figured it was a large turnout for practice.  Turns out the Moose were drinking in force, but we had only 7 fencers in attendance.   So after getting suited up, we did some basic footwork drills led by Antonio.  Then to change things up, and as we are getting older, we did about 20 minutes of stretching led by Mable.  I am hoping the stretching becomes part of the regular practice schedule.

I started the night fencing Firebow.  Typically, we are both out there fencing Italian with long blades (40"-43") and daggers.  I decided to change things up by bringing out my 30" rapier and dagger.  It was a much more fun fight than out typical waiting game.

Next I fought Malcolm with case of daggers, facing the same.  It was silly, it was fun, I was able to actually land a lunge from both sides.  I need to incorporate more of that in my regular game.

I ended the night with fencing Edmund.  We went back and forth.  I was working on something specific but he is probably the wrong person to try something new against as you can never get a consistent response from him.  Surprisingly, after fencing Edmund, there was only about 15 minutes left for practice, so I suited down.

When fencing Edmund, I was using my longer blade.  I noticed my hand and wrist were fatiguing.  Its something I have noticed since I changed the handle.  I think the handle I made is too narrow, so I am going to make a new one, and swap the existing one to the matching dagger.

After practice we skipped going to the "diner of disappointment" and went to Applebee's instead.  I and others had been having digestive issues after eating at the diner.  Nice thing about Applebee's, you can get a drink, and after 10 PM to close, its happy hour with half priced appetizers.  So with a bunch of appetizers and a few drinks on the table, it still came out about the same price as going to the diner.  And, my belly thanked me as I was trying to get to sleep by not keeping me awake.

Monday, March 25, 2013


So I was unbelievably stressed going into Mudthaw.  Not just for a few days but for weeks leading up to the event.  So much prep to do, so little time.  Not being intimately involved in the planning and running of the event for the first time in a few years, I was not sure what was actually happening and when.

So part of the prep was Jennie made new garb for her niece and nephew and we were making a cake for Stacey's vigil.  So, in January, we borrowed her beehive cake molds, saying that it was for a cake for my niece.  We found a honey cake recipe, perfect for the lady with bees in her arms.  We also found recipes for fondant and butter cream icing.  So the weekend before Mudthaw, we needed to get our act in high gear.  We made the cake in mold, but impatient me being impatient, I tried to de-pan one before it was fully cooled. So the cake crumbled, but at least it tasted good.  We then tried to get the second one out when it had cooled, and while we had less trouble with that one, we still lost some detail.  Additionally, I need to learn to read instructions as I set the temperature a little too high, so while the outside cooked, the inside was  still a little gooey and under cooked.

So a second batch was made and this time, we used two 10" rounds.   We ran out to get supplies for decorating the cake as it cooled.  But realizing that we'd want the cake as fresh as possible meant that to ice and decorate it, it would have to wait until Friday night.  Crap, Friday night where I had made dinner plans with friends coming down for the weekend.  So into the freezer goes the cakes, and wait until Friday.


During lunch I made the fondant.  It needed some time to rest before we could roll it out and cut to shape.  We had gotten a leaf shape fondant cutter, so that we could make a laurel wreath on the cake from the fondant.  We whipped up a batch of icing from scratch, but it was not enough to go between the layers and cover the cake nicely.  Because the cake was a little crumbly, Jennie laid on a rough coat of icing, which picked up some of the crumbs as she spread it.  So I made a second batch, adding a little orange extract to it and then she recovered the cake with a smooth final coat.  We then rolled out the fondant and cut it into the leaf shapes or two sizes, the large size for the top and a smaller size for the sides of the cake.  So I finished decorating while Jennie took a shower.  Cake went into the fridge, got washed up, and off we go...

Headed out about 8:00 to meet up with Cheryl, Robert, LT at the hotel and take them to our favorite sushi place.  Donovan, Sorsha, and Anastasia were just checking in to the hotel as we were about to leave, so we waited for them to get a room key and then they followed us.  Magdalena met us at the restaurant on her way to the hotel.  So the nine of us were out at Nagoya.  I ordered two Mike rolls for the table (afterall, the roll is actually named after me).  It was a great night, getting to hang out with friends outside of an event, and really talk, have fun, laugh a lot.  Jennie and I dropped Sorsha off at Adam & Stacey's where we arrived to see a house full of friends.   Then we headed home to get what sleep we could.


In the morning, we made a packing list and list of things to do so we would not forget.  Problem is, I forgot stuff, like extra cloaks for Jennie and her sister, and the list.  Well the list actually made it with us.  On the way to the event, we stopped at Walgreen's  and we picked up some supplies for the day, mainly foam swords for the kids to play with.  We got flowers for the vigil to go along with the laurel branches Jennie cut from the trees around her house.  We got coffee.  I didn't order coffee, but my ice tea tasted like tea and coffee mixed and not in a good way.  So I asked them to remake it.  Still tasted the same.  Jennie tasted it so I know I was not crazy.

We got to the event and grabbed the stuff for the vigil from the car when they called Stacey into court.  From that point forward, it was rush, rush, rush.  I grabbed the cake, and made sure I showed it to her before people partook of it.

So afterwards, I got suited up to fence.  I pushed myself a bit too much too early going back to back to back with warmups against Jacob Fisher, the newest OGR Davius, and then Donovan.  After fencing Donovan, I was having issues breathing, mostly due to the chill in the air.  Lungs a burning, it took me too long to recover, so I dropped out of the tournament and marshaled one of the four lists in the rapier tournament.  What I saw was some excellent fights, courteous combatants, and smiles on faces.

I played major domo for a little bit while Antonio had things to do at the start of Stacey's vigil.  Finally, I saw someone cut into the cake, so I had to try it.  I don't want to toot our horns, but my goodness, was that a tasty cake.  There was not much left of it.  Actually, all the food/gifts/etc for the vigil was amazing.

Court came, and I got to see two friends made companions of the Silver Crescent.  I know there were other awards, but I was breaking down the vigil, chatting, and doing other things.  I got to see a good friend elevated to a peerage up close.  I got to see a new comer to the SCA go up and receive a token from the royals.   Post court, we got in the car, ran home, got changed, got beer, and headed over to Adam & Stacey's for dinner.  Well us and about 40 others.  The house was packed, food was eaten in mass quantities.  I got to hang with my pelican, his wife, and my chosen family.  And oh, my cheeks still hurt from laughing too much.  I think we left at about 12:30 and the party seemed to still be going strong.

All in all, what a wonderful, exhausting weekend.

Sources for recipies:

Cake Recipe:
Icing Recipe:
Fondant Recipe adapted from :

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

King and Queen's Rapier Championship

So the weekend had the chances of being unforgettable for a few reasons.  With the snow coming in, we could have wound up sliding off the highway and into a ditch, never to be heard from until spring in the Adirondacks.  But we found Nemo and just kept swimming along until we arrived in Montreal.  But now for some of the back story...

In October, the idea was proposed of chartering a bus from NJ to Montreal for K&Q Rapier.  I looked into it and figured we'd need 36 people minimum to make it work.  40 would have been preferred.  We wound up with 35 people, but due to circumstances and real life, we ended up with only 27 on the bus.  The good thing was almost everyone had a row to themselves.  The bad news was, some of our friends would not be making it.


So the weather was looking dicey with a storm coming in from the west and a nor'easter developing and dropping snow on the area Friday morning.  But like the intrepid adventures we are, we arrived in South Plainfield, NJ at our pick up spot.  Many thanks to Sir Antonio and Elizabeth for the use of their driveway as a parking lot.  Everyone arrived by 9:30, but the bus was not there.  Finally the bus arrived about 9:45 or so, and we loaded up the luggage and started boarding.  The roads in NJ were not bad until we hit the northern most part of 287, just before the NY Thruway.  Once on the Thruway, the roads were pretty clear until we hit the Adirondacks.  But our driver, Paulo, was awesome.   We had some movies playing on the bus ride and people mixed and mingled.

At the border crossing, I had to get off the bus and speak with the Canadian Customs Officers.  They asked the basic questions, "What were we going to do while in Canada; how long were we staying; and where were we staying?"  They explained that they wanted to look under the bus and then would check passports.  After coming onto the bus, they asked about the crown they found.  This was the Princess of the East's crown who was travelling with us.  They also asked about the SCA.  One pointed out that he thought Alexander looked like he'd be pretty dangerous with an axe.  From there it was a little over an hour to the hotel.

We arrived in Montreal at the hotel and already a large contingent of fencers had beat us to the bar.  Check in was pretty smooth.  I had two reservations in my name, neither of which for a room I was staying in.   I wound up bunking with Antonio, while Kiena and Mable took one of my rooms, and our bus drivers were in the other room.  After dropping the bags, the group kind of broke up as people sought dinner.  I wound up heading into Chinatown with a bunch of people.  The recommended place looked at us strangely since we did not have a reservation, so we headed down the street and found a place to eat.  The food was tasty, especially after the bus ride.

Back at the hotel, we had the bar filled.  Over the course of the weekend, I was reminded of Birka, being in the hotel with good friends, hanging out for the long weekend.  At some point I headed up to the room and crashed.  I didn't sleep too well in the hotel bed.  I just could not get comfortable.

Saturday (morning and afternoon)

I woke up and headed down to the restaurant for breakfast.  Normally when I am going to fence, I can only have a light meal, so I think it was a Coke and a croissant.  Edmund staggered down about 9:05 thinking he had missed the bus.  Staggered is the right word as he was still drunk from the night before.  Back up to the room, I packed my gear for the day in my fencing case.  Getting back downstairs, we loaded up the bus and waited for Ian and Declan.  The bus ride to the event was pleasant.  We pulled up to the site, and I had to laugh as I heard a couple of people gawking in French about the fact that we had rented a bus, and why had they not thought of that.

I was still exhausted from the lack of sleep, so I chose not to warm up too much before the pool.  I did a little to get myself loose and just figure out the size of the lists (tiny).  I wound up in a pool with Ogedai, Thomas, Bruce, and some guy from Carolingia.  We were supposed to have one more person, but she never showed up, so I'd only get four fights in my pool.  I wound up undefeated and advancing out of the pool with Ogedai.  When people asked how I did, I said "OK."  I didn't feel great, but was feeling pretty good.

There was a conference call the royalty had to attend, so there was a lengthy delay between the end of the pool and the double elimination portion for those who advanced.  Even though I knew I advanced it was still somewhat shocking when my name was called.  I did a warm up with Malochio prior to the 16 being announced and then just before the bouts were announced with Pascual.  I had to borrow some defensive secondaries from Pascual as I had not brought any of mine.  I was not expecting to need them.

My first bout was with Don Alain Longship.  I don't recall much of how the bout went (which is odd), other than I won it in the third pass with a nice thrust to the throat.  I think we had agreed to match forms.  My next opponent was Don Griffith Davion.

I think this was the fourth straight year that I have faced Griff in the elimination portion of K&Q.  We agreed to match forms.  I managed to catch him with a beautiful thrust up the middle on the first pass.  I think that may have woken him up as I came no where near close to him on the next two passes.  I did however take cloak out as a defensive secondary during the second pass of the bout.  It was the first time in many years I had pulled out a cloak in a tournament.  I think I may have to fight more often with one.  The reason for the cloak was that when I saw him pull a buckler, all I could think was:  lefty vs righty and both with bucklers doesn't sound like much fun.  He hit me with a beautiful rising shot just inside my left arm over the cloak.  I had the line blocked on his initial shot, but he changed it and I was dead.  The last pass, I don't recall.

So I got knocked down to the one loss list.  Next loss and I'd be out of the tournament.  My next opponent was Don John Radburne.  In the first bout, he took a stick, and I took a buckler.  I landed a thrust in his right armpit, over his sword.  So I'm up 1-0 in a best of three.  John grabbed case, so I grab single.  He then puts down his secondary, and I pick up my dagger.  We go back and forth like this for about a minute.  Finally we start the pass, he with single, me with rapier and dagger.  Knowing I can't fight him from range I made the plan to close and close hard.  After posturing and positioning, he wound up close to the corner of the list.  I parried one of his attacks and closed hard, taking his right arm with the point of my sword.  I continued closing and got the kill with the dagger, winning the bout.

My next bout would be my last for the day, but I faced off against Lord Guthfrith Yrlingsson.  I've had the pleasure of fencing him at Birka a few years back and was looking forward to facing him again.  We agreed to match forms.  In the first bout, we both had single.  I legged him, but then stepped in a little to close and he landed a nice touch on my belly.  Down 0-1, we then took defensive secondaries.  I took the buckler, he had a stick I think.  At one point, I went for a short lunge, and he tagged me in the chest on the way in, with my foot up in the air.  I brought my foot down early, trying to stop my momentum, and landed ok, until the lower leg shifted forward slightly, scraping bone on bone in my ankle.
(For those of you who don't know, I have no cartilage in my right ankle, having destroyed the joint back in 2002.  Fencing was part of my rehab program after my physical therapy benefits expired.)  
The pain I felt can only be described as intense.  Its not the first time this has happened, it won't be the last time either.  Thankfully, while VERY intense, it is also short lived.  It usually lasts about 5-10 minutes and then fades pretty quickly.  Some nice people carried me out of the list.  One got me two bags of snow to keep it from swelling more than normal.  So I was dead and out of the tournament prior to the pain.

All in all, it was a good day for me in the tournament.  I finished in the top eight and had fun.  I was more relaxed than I have been in a long time.  I'm still not sure if I am fencing better than I was prior to injuring my shoulder a few years ago, but I come out of this tournament content, knowing I gave it my best.

I go into K&Q with the goal each year of wanting to be considered for Queen's Champion.  I want to finish high enough, but fight clean enough that I would be in consideration.  I think that goal was accomplished this year.

After the finals, it was time to wait around for court.  We had originally scheduled with the bus company to have pickups from the event at 4:00, 6:00, and 9:00.  Fencing had not concluded at 4:00.  By 6:00, court was in mid-swing with many of us waiting to see Frasier get inducted into the Order of the Silver Crescent.  They way court was running, most of us packed up and got our stuff on the bus before the conclusion of court.  Once court finished, we got everyone other than Davius and Kiena back on the bus and headed back to the hotel around 7:00.  They would stay for feast, but this meant the bus only had to make one trip back.

Saturday (evening)

So back at the hotel, Antonio didn't want to brave the cold Montreal night in search of food, so we decided to order pizzas in.  Along with Alexander and crew, and Pat, we had about 10 people in with us.  As we waited for the pizzas, I was starving, having barely eaten anything all day, so I had a beer and poutine.  The pizza came and we all piled into Raff and Pascual's room.  Then more and more people started hanging out, and by the end of the evening, I think every Scadian who was staying in the hotel had been in their room at some point.  I was exhausted and I think i may have been the first to head to bed.  


Breakfast was had, check out was performed, and onto the bus we went.  The ride was uneventful, finally stopping south of Albany for some lunch and a break.  We arrived back at Antonio and Elizabeth's home to find our cars cleared off.  Goodbyes were said, flat tire was fixed and everyone was on their way home.  I went out to dinner with Jennie, Antonio, Elizabeth, and the kids.  Coming home I crashed hard.

Lessons Learned

In planning for this adventure, working with the hotel and bus company to make all the travel arrangements was a lot of stress.  I think I was more stressed about this trip than my first real attempt at running an event, which was Mudthaw.  Part of this was I didn't want to let my friends down.  Another part was taking money from friends.  I'm someone who likes to spoil those close to me.  Having to chase down money from people is not something I enjoy doing and would rather not do.  Thankfully, Raff is pretty damn good about it so having her help with the financial stuff was key.  Having to do all the arrangements via phone and email is tough as I like to be able to see the person I am working with.  I had not seen the hotel prior to checking in.  Thankfully, things worked out better than I expected.  

I was stressed on Thursday leading up to getting on the bus due to weather.  Jokingly, I said the alternate plan would be to stop at Great Wolf Lodge in Lake George if the roads were impassible.  Honestly, I was worried about everyone's safety and enjoyment and I felt responsible as such.  

The good thing is that now we have the institutional knowledge to pull a trip like this off again.  Hanging out at the hotel to me was the best part of the weekend.  Just seeing friends from all over gather in one place and enjoying each others company, I think that is what I love most about the SCA and fencing in the SCA in particular.  TOADs, Tadcaster, Sharc, whatever, I think we all had a great time.  So what if it was Montreal in a blizzard, I want to do it again (only this time with Jennie there with me, because I missed her terribly).