Working at Wars of the Roses

So I’m back from our fifth Wars of the Roses, and, as often happens about events, I have a ton of things I want to say…but if I don’t write them down right when I get home (which is never a good time to write stuff down because we’re exhausted and need to unpack), the motivation to write starts to drain away.

Still. Better late than never. I had my first real working event as Baronial Bard of Concordia, and it was full of fun, connection to people I love, and wonderful moments. Some of the people who stand out in my memory:

  • My Baron (JP) and Baroness (Lylie). I feel like I got to know these two amazing people a good bit better last weekend, in the bit of time we were able to connect. I’m sure that was largely because I was actually a part of their team as well as their court, responsible for making something happen, and indeed for judging, tabulating, and reporting on the score of an actual War Point. (How cool is that?) And in getting to know them a little more, and seeing their yin/yang, introvert/extrovert chemistry closer at hand, I got a little better understanding of what an extraordinary couple they are, how they nourish and counterbalance one another, how they manage to do the hard work of running a very hard-working barony, and still find their fun and levity where they can. Speaking of couples, though…
  • My wife Jessa. She is sharp, insightful, strong, and supportive, all at once. Her instincts for people, and her ability to look and really listen, are a boon to a social-blind ADDer like me that I cannot begin to describe. She had my back this weekend, and held me to my end of our partnership (as she darn well should). I’m so grateful. She makes me a better bard, a better Scadian, and a better man all the time.
  • My son Spencer. He really came into his own this event, and that was before he was called up to court to receive one of the first two Snow Hares awarded in the barony in 13 years. This was a relatively quiet Roses, which meant he risked being bored much of the time. But he found and made friends where he could, played games in the Village, and when he was on his own, he kept himself engaged as best he could. We played a couple of father and son games in our down time. He is a really wonderful kid, and being recognized for his recent Bardic performances floored both of us, really.
  • Baroness Maria von Ossenheim. She afforded me a closer look at how court is run, and indeed how to run it right. The thought and preparation she put into keeping both Saturday’s and Sunday’s baronial courts quick-moving and efficient showed. It was a delight to be a small part of the process and see it close at hand. Keeping court from bogging down is an under-appreciated skill set.
  • Cedar the Barefoot. They are an incredible bard, a good right arm I had not realized how much I needed, and chosen family. Following in their footsteps as my Baronial Bard predecessor, I managed to overlook a couple of details (such as the need to secure an actual fire pit and firewood for a nighttime bardic fire), and they were there like a shot helping to bail me out.
  • Finnguala and Magnus. Another favorite power couple, and two of my dearest friends. I spent a decent amount of time at the Village, where I got to watch Finnguala create a family-friendly, inclusive activity space for lots of fun things. This included filling some last-minute holes in the schedule, which she did gamely and with the dedication I’ve come to expect from her. I also got to watch my son light up as Magnus taught a class on non-alcoholic brewing techniques. (Did you know that non-alcoholic brewing was far more widespread than generally supposed? I did not know that.) I also had the benefit of his crucial help judging the Bardic competition.
  • Grim the Skald. Master Grim was at Roses on Saturday, and despite a painful family loss that day, chose to stay on and help judge the Bardic competition. I took him at his word that the diversion was a pleasant one and not stressful–regardless, the service was greatly appreciated.

About that Bardic competition…I got to run one for the first time. (I will get to run two more this year–Concordia takes its Bardic seriously.) My topic challenge, “legitimacy to rule”, inspired some wonderful and surprising choices from the six competitors who took it on. It was a very difficult thing to judge, and in the end…we actually had a tie. Seriously. Three judges, awarding up to 10 points in 5 categories, and we ended up with a tie at 119 points, between Cedar (who enchanted us with a rendition of Heather Dale’s “Mordred’s Lullaby”) and a newcomer, Ingrid, who kept us in rapt silence with her clear, nuanced, polished rendering of an Icelandic tale.

Happily, both performers were competing for York, so the War Point didn’t have to be split. But I only had one prize with me (a beautiful drinking horn given to me by Yaakov HaMizrachi on a memorable Pennsic night), so it was necessary to break the tie. I polled the judges (meaning myself and Magnus, since Grim was offsite by Sunday), and happily, for our very different reasons, we concurred that between these two performances, Ingrid had earned the win. Two judges was sufficient to break the tie.

I also had two other opportunities to be of service to the barony. For one, I provided a scroll text for Lady Olivia Baker’s Order of the Emerald scroll, which is the baronial award for excellence in persona. (This was my first time contributing to an award scroll, and I plan to share what I learned doing that in a separate post.) I was grateful to Katrusha Skomorokh for selecting me to provide the text for Olivia’s very Elizabethan persona. (Especially since the two of them had teamed up to create my Troubadour scroll, which was also done in sonnet form.)

And lastly, I was able to debut a new piece I wrote for their Excellencies honoring Concordia, which they had charged me to create the day they had selected me as their bardic champion. It was very well received when I debuted it at the Bardic circle Saturday night, enough so that I was ultimately asked to present it again at Sunday’s court. I will share more about the song, and the process behind it, in a separate posting.

In concluding, I would like to express my gratitude to the many people I had the time to just chat with and get to know a little better, including Her Highness Matilde, Jenevra de Carvalhal, and Magdelena Carminante. The opportunities to hear about goings-on outside my often single-minded focus were welcome and enlightening. I look forward to more.

2 replies on “Working at Wars of the Roses”

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