bardic Pennsic SCA

Pennsic XLI, Part 2 (Gratitude)

(Okay.  So I managed to write this entire post up yesterday in Wordpad on my new laptop, had copied it to the clipboard and was pasting it into the blog to review, when the laptop battery died.  Didn’t go into “sleep” mode, just shut down on me.  So I lost the entire thing.  I’d spent two hours on it.  But what I had to say mattered to me, so here we go again.)

This is the second part of my Pennsic post, and this one will actually deal with what happened at Pennsic this year.  But while a lot of wonderful things happened to me at the war, what I was left with, even more than joy and, yes, pride, was gratitude.  So this post is going to be a series of thanks.  This war I really connected to the wonderful and generous spirit of so many denizens of the SCA who made space and offered encouragement, not just to me as a bard, but to my whole family.   I know going in that this list will be woefully incomplete, and I won’t remember half the people I should single out (and of those I do, I don’t know everyone’s SCAdian name and title, or in some cases their mundane names, or any name at all).  I nonetheless choose to do this imperfectly, rather than accept the excuse to not do it at all.

First, thank you to my wife, Jesca Jessa de Hunteleghe (known to most as Jess), who made our participation in this war possible.  Thank you for bending your clan-Gordon stubborn streak enough to compromise and collaborate with me so that we could all attend together.  Thank you for the beautiful and delicious truffles you sweated over, and all the love and encouragement and space and listening you have given me over ten years of marriage.  Thank you for allowing me to be part of the wonderful extended SCAdian family that loves and is loyal to you because I had the good fortune (and sense) to marry you.  And thank you for being my best patron, and offering my songs to just the right people at just the right moment.

Second, thank you to my son, Leif Oranwood (though he currently just has everyone call him Spencer since it’s less confusing).  At seven and a half, despite a tough start to the summer, you also listened and collaborated with me and your mom, and we worked together so that we could all come to this Pennsic.  You brought your A game, and you brightened the war of everyone you came into contact with, kids and grownups alike.  I was so proud to see you make the decision to commit to the first step toward a metalsmith apprenticeship under Master William’s guidance (more on him below), and your dedication and enjoyment of it was a high point of Mom’s and my week.  Thank you for being my best buddy, and also my biggest bardic fan.  Thank you for listening when Dad needed you to stop singing along (at least when I was performing in public)–I know that was an effort–and thank you for always having another song of mine you were willing to ask for in front of other people.  I appreciated it.

Next, to our SCAdian friends:

  • Baron Master Daniel Del Cavallo–thank you, Danny.  Since my first Pennsic you’ve always included us, and as a court baron, you’ve always had access to the coolest people and parties.  Thank you for showing me what patronage was all about, encouraging me me since I first wrote “The Bastard’s Tale” eight years ago, telling me you weren’t going to rest until I got known, and introducing me around to make that happen.  And if you should see the Baron di Bardicci–who, this year, looked strangely like you–be sure to thank him for offering me, for the first time, the chance to sing to the hall at large when I introduced “Call Me Will” at Hoity Toity.  I know it isn’t period, but you just rock.
  • Master Kenhelm the Deceptive, Lady Edana Haukyns, and Honnoria of Thescorre, thank you all for sharing space with us at Kenhelm’s shop and camp.  We got a bit less time with you this year, but you remain a favorite group of friends, and welcome ears to offer a new piece of work to.  Thank you for the respect and friendship you’ve shown Spencer, who adores all of you.
  • To the folks at Tudor House (and the larger Casa Bardicci family) I offer thanks.  Especially to Master Billy Bardo, who took Spencer on as a student this year, and as he often told you, made his Pennsic.  A patron of great value you have been to me for the last couple of years especially, requesting songs, telling me I need to up my output (I agree, one song a year, while an improvement over previously, isn’t enough), and offering me some very precise and encouraging insights about what you enjoy in my work.  Thank you for whatever it was you did to your Baron this year that allowed me and our other friends the honor to have pride of place at Hoity Toity this year, and I look forward to seeing what next year brings.  And to Alaric, thank you for the wonderful suggestions you gave me when I sought advice about where a bard should go to “break in” and be seen.  The suggestion to see the bardic circle at House de Londres was a treasure trove unto itself (more about them to come).
  • To Jess’s Caer Cinnuint family, thank you for always having the welcome on for us, and for keeping us dry during the storm.
  • Thank you to Maestra Teresa Gabriela de Montoya y Sevilla and Don Eric Brehattin, (Tracey and Eric Stoever) and their daughter Cady Ruth, for repeated welcomes and introductions at various camps (we’ll do our best to be ready next year for Undie Sunday!), for taking such good care of Spencer (CR, you are his favorite baby-sitter), and for always asking for one more song before we go.  It is always a pleasure to oblige you.
  • Thanks to Bugga and Gardner the Dumb, Bard of Ely (Kathryn Kane and Andrew Kaiser) for the brief but needed connections at Tardis Gate down at the Bog.  Thank you for articulating the difference between your approach to bardic arts and the one I take, so that I can recognize and respect it as it deserves.  Kathryn, my friend from early college, it was such a blessing to see you doing well.
  • Thanks to the beautiful friendly bunch at Ragnesfolk, particularly Eleanor and her mom Liz, who welcomed us regularly.  Eleanor, while Spencer has gotten shrewder as he enters second grade and may not want to publicly acknowledge that you consider him your boyfriend, trust me that he enjoyed being it.  The laid-back bardic culture at Ragnesfolk was delightful, and I miss it keenly.  Thank you, Sarah of the red hair, for sharing your voice with us, as well as insights about the Green Man on my belt that will surely make it into a song some day.
  • Thanks to Rachel Barr Shively, my other old Penn State friend, for the enthusiastic response to “The Bastard’s Tale”, and to introducing me to your wonderful bunch at Polyhymnia.  They enjoyed hearing me offer “My Thirst”, and I learned a valuable lesson when I offered a second song that fell flat: (1) Offer one song if the opportunity arises, since more than that is pushing it; (2) respect when people are having a cast party, and (3) no one wants a needy bard.  I trust no lasting damage was done, and it did result in my introduction to Michael Alewright (who I’ll mention below).
  • To our newest friends at House de Londres, many thanks!  Baron Master Sean and Lady Ilya Scott de Londres and their sons Robert and Jason embraced us all like long-lost family when we showed up for the bardic circle and the mead.  (Robert, thank you for telling Spencer that his dad rocked!  Made both our night.)  And thanks to Aetheluric Lundomie for the bottle of high-octane Pirate Trance brew, and the token, for my first time singing at your fire.  A warm welcome indeed.
  • Duquesa Isabella of York, thank you for once again allowing me to entertain at Ladies’ Night when I asked.  I needed one last time to recognize that I’m not loud enough for that venue.  But the inspiration to write something saucy and seductive, which led to “Call Me Will”, was nevertheless worth it.

Now to the fellow bards I met at this year:

  • Llywelyn Glyndyverdwy (Mark Cipra), thank you for all your work and care coordinating the Bardic Collegium sessions and the master classes.  The outreach to newer less experienced bards was clear and very welcoming.  Thank you to Cerian as well as the other instructor (whose name I’ve forgotten) in the Comedy master class, who offered useful insights into how I presented “My Thirst”.
  • Thank you to my classmates in the collegium, the master class, and the other bardic classes at Pennsic University, who shared knowledge with me, let me know I had something to offer in return, and helped me realize I wasn’t alone.
  • Katherine Ashewode (Julie Golick), thank you for shining light on the next steps in my path as a bard.  Your willingness to contribute to the Facebook group and put your work online for people to see and hear were an inspiring model.  I’m impressed, and yes, just a bit envious of all you accomplished (and how quickly you write!).
  • Baroness Morgan Wolfsinger and Velada of Isenfir, thank you for organizing and judging the Depressing Song Competition.  Tying for first place in my first competition definitely put the wind in my sails, and gave me a chance to step on the Performing Arts stage for the first time.  Not to mention a beautiful goblet, when I’d been looking for a good drinking cup all week!  (Thank you, too, to the woman whose name I’ve forgotten who said she looked forward to seeing me in this venue in a year or two, which warmed me and whetted my appetite at the same time.  Sounds good to me.)
  • Thank you to the folks at the Northshield bardic circle, for your good humor and friendliness.  I’ll do my best to stay longer next time.
  • Thank you to Michael Alewright, for the connection, the friendly advice, and the fantastic poetry you shared at the de Londres bardic circle.  Thanks too for the offer to let me use the piece on King Neptune–I’ll put in the time to polish it so I can do it justice.
  • Thank you, Mistress Brid, for remembering my wife, and graciously consenting to hear my newest song.  The whispered praise and blessing you gave me for “Call Me Will” (particularly that “you made me feel like a wisp of a girl again”) will stay with me forever.  I hope you got what you came for this Pennsic, and that you are able to defy the odds.
  • Finally, to Mistress Marian of Heatherdale, many many thanks.  You sprinkled enchantment (though, as I said to you after your concert, I know it for more than that) over my entire war through my various encounters with you.  You were a model of generosity, warmth, and enthusiasm from the first Bardic Collegium session.  Thank you for showing me that starting the Facebook group was itself a form of patronage, and recognizing my effort in that.  Thank you for the wisdom and encouragement you offered to one and all throughout the Collegium, and again during your concert.  Thank you for showing me how a master bard (for that you are, regardless of what your laurel was in) can hold a room with just her voice, occasionally a drum, and the help of her friends.  Thank you for the opportunity you gave to so many other magnificent bards by introducing them (and teaching me the phrase “bard enough for me”, which I will be using from time to time).  Thank you for making yourself available to friends and admirers, and letting us know where we could find you (not sure everyone kept the “secret” though).  And thank you for letting me sing “The Bastard’s Tale” for you, for the smile throughout, for singing the repeats with me, and your enthusiastic response to the song.  Thank you for gracing me with your token after, which (despite your telling us all about the practice) I honestly wasn’t expecting.  I promise that one day, I will pass it on to another bard whose performance moves and inspires me the way I did for you that morning.  I won’t stipulate how long I’ll keep it (it will be difficult to part with), but I promise I will stay open and alert to when the moment arrives.

Some last thanks for moments throughout the week that let me know I am indeed a bard:

  • Thank you to the people who took a moment to speak to me, telling me you’d heard me sing at a circle or outside a shop, and that you’d enjoyed it.
  • Thank you for the people who asked me if I had a website (hope you found your way here!) or a card (I’ll have to work on that).
  • Thank you to the woman who heard me singing “Call Me Will” to a few classmates outside the master class, and threw me four quarters!  Most of them even managed to hit my hat.  The Accidental Busker.
  • Thank you for the couple who sat with us at lunch and asked if I could entertain for a get-together later that afternoon, and asked what rate I charged(!).  I’m sorry I had other plans, but I hope I’ll see you next war and we get the chance to do it.  As I said at the time, if you enjoyed my work and tell others about it that is all the payment I need.

Just a fantastic week, full of fantastic people.  Thank you all, and may we all build on everything that started, or grew, at the war this year.

Update:  Corrected several misspelled SCAdian names (thank you, Jess).

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