A "G-Rated Journal" That Even My Mother Can Read (because she does!)

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exhausted and extremely happy

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Daddy-do and me, 2010

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Post Estrella Report

It's the (very long and thorough) Post-Estrella report!

Quick summary? This was THE VERY BEST camping event with the SCA that I've ever enjoyed. EVER. EVER!!!

Mon Feb 13 - Having Lynn overnight was wonderful fun. We got up early and walked to breakfast together, then I sent her off to her class for the day. Then it was time to start shopping and packing. I spent my morning finishing sewing the edges of the silk banners for the Crimson Spade, and was really happy with the results.

Then it was off to Michael's crafts, for dowel rods for the small pennons, and to Lowe's for the large flag poles for my banner and the large banner for the Inn. I found some great "lantern hooks" in the gardening section that we'll use to lash the flag poles upright in place of "portable holes" on site.

Then the food shopping. Yes, I waited way too long, and it took all the rest of the day to finish shopping for all the meat, fresh produce, bread, and bits needed to feed upwards of 11 people in the desert for 7 days. (The nice thing about the shopping was that I got to listen to music that Lot gave me, much of which had been written and sung by Mateo, one of the new friends I'll be meeting on this trip. I'm a huge fan of his music already, and I'm looking forward to meeting him.)

And by the time I was ready to actually pack my car, Lynn and Mel were both home from work, watching me run through the house like a whirlwind. And on top of everything, the kitchen sink backed up when I was ready to wash vegetables. So I was flustered and derailed for about an hour, but Lynn had the brain power to help me sort and get things on track again. Then she was a MAJOR lifesaver by deciding to help me drive up to Saul's place with the last items that I couldn't figure out how to lash to the roof of my car. Bless her, she's amazing.

Once I was at the Dudley's house, it was time to finish loading Saul's pickup truck, and take pictures of the astonishingly scary overpacking we'd done. And then to sleep. I think we finally crashed around 10 or 11 pm, with the intention to get up at 3 am to hit the road.

Tue Feb 14 - And we did, we really did get up at 3 am and get on the road by 4. It was gorgeous to drive in the clear starry dark, and to know that we were avoiding all the morning traffic at the same time. Around 6 am we were finally out of range of my favorite radio station, and it was also time to stop for coffee and breakfast. Back on the road, I got to really enjoy my new iPod. I'd finished memorizing several Mateo songs so I just went back to listening to my old standby CDs and enjoying eating up the miles to Arizona.

We got in to the site at a really reasonable hour, with lots of daylight, and began the herculean task of setting up the Inn. We took a break in the shade under the canvas to enjoy apples and sliced lunch meat and bread together, and I started my role as Camp Mom, trying to make certain we had anything we needed for meals at the ready all the time. We had a leisurely evening, visiting with a few other friends who arrived on the first day. The site always has a quiet air of expectation before the bulk of folks arrive. It's very calming and exciting at the same time.

( says: 76 hi & 51 lo today on site)

Wed Feb 15 - Breakfast was nice, with coffee bar set up in the Inn. But then, Oh good Lord, the winds hit today. So although we'd set up the Inn and my dayshade with walls (I cannot in good conscious call it a "pavilion"), the wind took the Inn away this afternoon. So our day was completely changed into damage control and creativity.

Lot and Marcos arrived today, and the three of us bought a rental pavilion to replace the Inn and to give Raphael and Diego a place to live for the week. While they were off arranging the surprise, Raph and Diego and I were rebuilding the Inn into just one small 8x8x8 room with room to use for the kitchen/pantry. I was really worried about keeping the food in the shade, and what they built together from the remnants of the Inn was just perfect. I still want to eventually have shelves and counters, but we were lucky to be in a site without ants so it wasn't an issue this time. I merely had to worry about dust and dry grass, not bugs too.

Don Ian (of the "slugs") loaned his large 20x20 pavilion for the Northshield boys and Lot, and so everyone also assembled that pavilion in the afternoon. The rental guys came and put up the commercial pavilion for R&D, and I cooked dinner. By then, more of our camp was arriving, so I was able to serve dinner to about 3/4's of our final crew. You know, writing this a week later, I can barely remember what I cooked for every meal, but I do remember cooking out on the back of the pantry-room, in the shade, and then bringing everything back around to the sun-side for the large table and the camp fire that we set up. I think I made stew of some sort, but I'm completely drawing a blank. *grin*

Then it was our first night for partying and enjoying one another's company. My dear, darling Marcos, actually got sick over the partying, so I spent my evening taking care of him and making certain he was okay. Seems this is a role I step into occasionally, and one I'm very comfortable with. He's fine now, and we got to cement our friendship just that much further than before.

( says: 78 hi & 50 lo today on site)

Thu Feb 16 - Mina arrived today, and so the guys got her pavilion set up in the afternoon before she arrived. And I finally left camp for the first time in 2.5 days, and got to wander through merchants. I bought a bunch of lucets and bobbins, and I cannot for the life of me remember who wanted a lucet with a handle.

This was also what we call the VERY COLD night. It was overcast all day, and in the desert this means that none of the sunshine heated anything for reflective heat later that night. When the sun went behind the hills, the temperature dropped significantly—perhaps 10-20 degrees in 5-10 minutes. There's no way that is correct this time: It was definitely colder than 50 at night. And *then* it was clear when night fell, with no clouds to hold in the heat. We stayed up telling stories, singing, and generally having a camp party until I finally kicked everyone out at 3:30 am.

( says: 68 hi & 50 lo today on site)

Fri Feb 17 - (I was chipping ice off the table at breakfast time today!) After going to sleep at 3:30 last night, I had to get Lot up early for guard duty with her majesty before 7 this morning. So it was a very space-cadet kind of morning for me.

Today was the first big day of battles. And even though I had said I wanted to take food out to the field for the fighters, they didn't really know I would. After clearing the breakfast dishes and coffee bar, I spent a frantic hour getting all the lunch snacks ready, with Mina's help, and then headed out to the muster point at Caidan Royals. The guys were lounging around in the shade before battle, and I arrived with sliced oranges, beef jerky, sliced carrots & celery & jicama, cheese, water & paper coffee cups, and a big bag of trail mix. They were fairly astonished, and it's the best feeling in the world to be that kind of help for them.

I had way more food and snacks and water than just my camp full of guys (and girl) could eat, so I just started inviting the entire Caidan Rapier army over for snacks. I probably got to feed about 3-4 dozen fighters at least a little something before they went over to broken-field for war scenarios. It was just perfect.

Then back at camp I laid out snacks for when they returned, and started dinner. The rez battles went on *way* longer than expected, and it was steak night tonight, in honor of our resident carnivore Rigo. (Of course there were lots of jokes about "Rigo meat" in our nearly-vegetarian freezer before the event.) Dinner was served much later than I wanted to, because it's really hard to keep steaks in perfect heated-not-dried-out conditions on a camp stove. But Adjin's large covered pot helped, and I think the meal went over well.

( says: 64 hi & 55 lo today on site)

Sat Feb 18 - It was much hotter and sunnier today, and yesterday and today were definitely the lion's share of my sun burn, I think. I had several steaks left over from last night's dinner, so I was able to do steak and eggs for breakfast. Lilya arrived late last night, with Jude and Amya, so this was also well timed so she could have iron-rich food for breakfast.

And then I was so task-oriented today for serving coffee, breakfast, and then lunch, that it wasn't until after lunch was served that I realized I hadn't eaten breakfast today.

Because the fighters were out on the field all afternoon, but there was no official "muster" this time, I just repeated the "lots of finger snacks" light lunch before "sending everyone off to war" in the afternoon. It was hot and oppressive in the afternoon, and it was all I could do to wash my two underdresses and two overdresses to have something clean to wear today and tomorrow.

Then it was chili for dinner tonight around the camp. I never make or eat chili, and clearly I didn't think out the ingredients well enough before the event. I was nearly out of tomatoes and forgot to get canned tomatoes, so the veggie version didn't have any at all. And like stories about how creative you have to be at the bar mixing drinks when you don't have the right ingredients, my cooking was way more creative this night than usual. But most people seemed to be okay with the crazy-quilt-chili I put together, and I vow to do it better next time. The locusts didn't eat nearly as much salad this time as yesterday, which leaves some for tomorrow.

( says: 65 hi & 42 lo today on site)

Sun Feb 19 - Last full day. 3 of the Northshield boys left this morning—Gauge, Mateo, and Rigo—and they will be sorely missed. It's hard to believe we've only known each other a few days. It seems like we've known each other for years.

The day was fairly lazy, as we're all completely exhausted. I did better at remembering to eat, drink water, and rest a bit today (and certainly better than yesterday).

Dinner this evening included chicken, veggies (carrots & zuchini & squash), and potatoes. Michael's wife and two children came out with their friend Gina and her four kids. The adults wandered through merchants and the kids alternated between hanging out around the camp, touring merchants with the parents, or playing at the nearby park/playground. Samantha, Michael's 12-year-old daughter, has been making beaded bracelets, and she made me a red bracelet while in camp. Bless her, I just adore her!

And then, the final topper for the week: The Bardic concerts. I purposefully did not commit to any of the day stages for performances, because I was feeding over a dozen people for a week. But I did commit to True that I would sing in the Family concert and the Bawdy concert. I was actually glad they were on Sunday night, because it was the perfect ending to a full week. Three of my boys had left already yesterday, and after feeding Michael and his big family crew, I was able to say my goodbye's and go do something that was just entirely for me.

I had planned to sing my Darachshire song for the Family concert and Lady Kaarna's "Come Roll Me Away" for the Bawdy concert. When I arrived at the stages, it turns out there had been a sound-check earlier in the evening that I didn't even know about. But all was well, because there was a fantastic "green room" set up for the bards backstage/offstage. Someone had organized having snacks and drinks for us—so there was no problem that I didn't have much to feed Jude for dinner (since he arrived after all the vegetarian options were gone). They had veggie trays, dried fruits, olives, cookies, brownies, drinks, and someone even sent back a homemade honey wine for the bards. There was a large space heater to hundle around, and plenty of room for our instruments and cloaks and books and notes. I'd spent yesterday working on the words for the Bawdy song, and spent my time in the green room reviewing and reciting all my lyrics over and over to prep for the stage.

The family concert was more properly even a *kids* concert, and so I vamped a little bit about my Darachshire song as a tribute to having best friends, and having to endure moving away from best friends. I also taught them the chorus before performing the song, so I had lots of folks singing along with me, which was outstanding.

But the bawdy concert was easily the most amazing show that night. Where we probably had 60-70% of the seats filled for the family show, it was completely packed and standing room only spilling out of the pavilion on both sides for the bawdy show. There were easily over 300 or 350 people at this show. It was astonishing, and thoroughly amazing.

Backstage, during the family show, a few of us were joking around quietly and I had launched into a few belly-dance moves. I wear a beaded rosary on my belt pouch with my English outfit, and it was slighly risque to have a rosary jingle like a dance belt. When I was standing in the wings for the Bawdy concert, the stage mom noticed my rosary and was teasing me about doing a bawdy song wearing it. I had to thank her, because it gave me the opening I needed to introduce Lady Kaarna's song. I told the audience about doing belly-dance moves backstage, and I demonstrated some enthusiastic hip-drops for them, then told them the punchline that it's time to stop when you're using a rosary for dance bells. They laughed hard at my punchline (and I beamed) and then I launched into the song. And the audience's energy gave me the idea to turn this into nearly a burlesque performance, complete with hip rolls and other dance gestures—risque without being disgusting. It was absolutely perfect, and it garnered me *tons* of compliments later that night.

After the shows, I went back to camp to find that all my friends were out and about. But next door, the Shire of the Isles, my old college alumni group, they had a huge fire circle going so I joined them for another hour or two. Nearly all of them had been at the bawdy concert, so it was the perfect ending to the evening, sharing stories and songs with them. I got out my book of lyrics, and sang them Mina's song "Lover, not a Fighter" and Mateo's "White Star" song. Lilya was heading to sleep in the pavilion next to the fire, and she tells me she was in heaven listening to White Star songs to lull her to sleep. I tell you, I haven't had that much fun around a campfire since I was their age at that college. *wink, blush*

( says: 66 hi & 44 lo today on site)

Mon Feb 20 - Diego has been terribly cute today, bugging me to eat and not get silly tired with packing and washing. I managed to eat here and there, but my entire morning is also filled with washing all the dishes from last night's meal, the goblets and tankards, and cooking dishes in order to pack them in everyone's cars.

Of course, we're all punchy and silly and raunchy by now, and let's just say I cannot repeat a single joke from today in a G-rated forum journal. I love you all, but you have to be a certain kind of close friend to see that side of me. I'm going to try and keep my dignity in this journal recollection, and those of you who only know me as all diplomacy and decorum can continue picturing me in that fashion. Let's say I know how to let my hair down, and it's all about the appropriate audience. *blush, giggle*

Packing was hard work, but some of our friends in Isles pitched in and helped, which made a significant dent in the work. Jude & Amya's ride fell through, and then a local knight showed up to drive them to the Phoenix airport in time. I *love* this SCA family!!! I'll miss Jude terribly, and cannot believe he and I didn't spend more time together when he was in California before this move to New York. I desperately want him to move back and to do more bardic music with him. I think our voices are paired beautifully together, and I adore his writing. I spent all morning over breakfast cooking, humming and singing "Squeeze" to myself (the song he performed at the Bawdy concert and performed on demand another 3 times around camp that afternoon yesterday).

The drive home, however, was really tough. We caravaned not only with R&D and me, but Harmony joined us too. There were enough walkie-talkies to tell silly stories to one another along the way, and to coordinate "let's stop now please" or "I can't see you anymore, are you still behind me?" conversations. I had the most disappointing-tasting pancakes ever in a little truck stop, but the onion rings hit the spot, not to mention more coffee for the drive.

Then, once I was home and cleared my front seat off, I ran over to Lilya's to pick up Justin. He'd driven Lilya's truck home from Arizona, taken his things home to LA, taken her home to Long Beach, and needed a ride back home at the end of it all. So I picked him up, he helped me unpack at my apartment, then we both crashed for the night.

( says: 65 hi & 44 lo today on site)

Tue Feb 21 - After getting Justin settled on our couch (I'm not sure how a guy that tall could be comfortable there, but he insisted he was), I soaked in the shower before crashing for 3.5 hours. Then we got up really early to get him home, and me through all the LA traffic up to his house and then LA and Orange county traffic to get me to work. I'm still scrubbing dirt out of my hands, embedded so deeply that even pumice stones don't seem to have any effect. But being indoors at my desk is so soothing, that I hardly notice the cuts and abrasions that much.

Interesting tidbits: Being away from a computer for a week earns me 288 real messages, 637 spam messages, or 925 pieces total. Also I lost another 1.2 lbs at the event, making my grand total so far 13.2 lbs. Another pair of pants is feeling loose, and my jeans never felt like they fit yesterday as I was packing to go home.

I found the contact information for all four Northshield boys online today, and sent them an email with all my information as a follow-up to the event.

And then, my evening still wasn't over. We were in the studio for rehearsal tonight, because my band is playing live on Saturday. I have no clue when/how I'm going to get everything cleaned up around my house. But my roomie, bless her heart, already left me a note to take my time and not stress about the house—and has offered to help with anything I can think of for her to do to clean. I love my roomie.

Wed Feb 22 - This morning my scale shows another 1.2 lbs loss, for a grand total of 14.4 lbs to date.

And I've already heard from two of the guys since yesterday's email, which just thrills me to no end. These are friends I would stick by for years and years.

Today I finally remembered that Lynn wanted a top-whorl spindle, so it wasn't Lynn who asked for the handle-lucet. Now of course I have to go shopping again (hee hee) to find a gorgeous spindle for Lynn, but I'm sure I'll find a way to enjoy spindle shipping.

* * * * *
Today's Blessing That I'm Thankful For: Wow. I think I've summed up tons of my blessings in the report above. But I'd have to say I'm exceedingly thankful for Lot, Rigo, Mateo, Michael, Gauge, Raphael, Diego, Marcos, Mina, Lilya, Jude, and Amya. Plus I'm fond of folks like Mariam, Angie, Gina, all six kids (Sam, you're my rock star), Justin, Moira, all the college kids in Isles, True, Rhaeflaed, Belesset, Denewulf, Domnhall, Beathog, Heather Dale, the Whiskey Bards, and everyone who made the Bardic shows possible, Sorcha, the event staff of Estrella, new friends like Gaylin, old friends like Kyle, and everyone who made this week possible.
* * * * *
Weight Loss Record:
Tue 2/21 - 13.2 lbs lost total so far (-1.2 from last week)
Wed 2/22 - 14.4 lbs lost total so far (-1.2 from yesterday)

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