So where was I? Beginning of January, I think.
One of the things that I neglected to mention was that somewhere in there, Bob and I finally got all of the wood stacked. It was entirely worth a summer of back-breaking work to get the… okay – what do I call that thing we hauled rocks for all summer? Wall? Terrace? Base? Patio? None of those are quite right. At any rate, whatever you choose to call it, it was worth the amount of work to create it. One sunny day I laid down the pressure treated 2x4s to base the stack on, and we went at it. We got a pretty good rhythm going. We pulled my car out of the garage, opened the people door in the back, loaded up a wagon full of wood, and hauled it up the driveway and into my side of the garage. Bob tossed it through the door into the back, and I stacked it while he reloaded the wagon. As a general rule, I got done stacking a load just in time to go down and help push the next one up the driveway. It ended up being quite efficient, and we were done stacking the wood in two days. I feel really good about dealing with this year’s batch. The best part? My ends are still holding! We didn’t have the full three cords to stack because we put a big dent it in after the storm when the stove was our only heat, but here’s what we accomplished – with a Bob for scale. :-)
The next notable life item was taking Nishka in to have her teeth cleaned. The cliff notes version is that she went in, they pulled three teeth, it cost me a mortgage payment, and you’ve been hearing about the horror show ever since. ‘nuff said.
After the teeth came Birka at the end of January. After *finally* getting the merchant list and confirming that thatpotteryguywas going to be there, we planned our trip. vynehornand I like to do a fairly surgical strike on Birka – get in, accomplish our goals, and get out fast. The goals are usually a list of specific merchants in a specific order, followed by people we’re looking for to talk to them, and wrapped up with a general browse of the floor for anything/one cool that we hadn’t been expecting. This year’s complication was that Bob’s department holiday party was the night before.
“Holiday party?” I hear you say. “What holiday comes at the end of January?” Well, that would be Christmas, you see. Only people’s schedules are more available and function rooms are cheaper at the end of January than the end of December. “Ask a stupid question…”
I did feel bad for the hotel staff having to haul all the reindeer and flocking out after they’d just gotten them put away…
It ended up being a fun time. Not as big as my company holiday parties used to be, but not much is. I’d guess that there were a few hundred people there. The food was quite good, the DJ was WAY too loud, and I got to meet some of Bob’s co-workers, all of whom seem like neat people. There’s just one thing. Lately we’ve gotten hooked on “The Big Bang Theory.” It’s been forever since I’ve watched a sit-com on purpose, but that one makes me giggle – too many engineers in my life, I think. Occasionally I giggle and Bob looks a little hurt. I bring this up because I kept thinking about it over the course of the evening. At one point as the DJ was exhorting the crowd to get up and dance, one of Bob’s co-workers leaned over and said “They DID tell him that this is a room full of engineers, didn’t they?” I had fun, and it was interesting comparing the two company functions. I may ruminate more about that later. But we got home and ended up talking to Camma until all hours. That’s relevant because when you go to bed past midnight and your alarm goes off at 4:30 – it *hurts.*
Nonetheless, we got ourselves up, dressed, and on the road (I’d had the car loaded the night before) and we were on site in time to check in just as gate opened, get changed, and head in as soon as they opened the doors.
I have to say, this year was the most fun I’ve had a Birka in YEARS, and I attribute 90% of that to the hafla not being in the hall. That made such a significantly huge difference that it will probably start factoring into my decision-making for future Birkas. The damn thing is just so LOUD. And intrusive. And LOUD. Did I mention that it’s loud? I don’t mean “wow, I wish they were a little quieter” loud. I mean loud as in I was very, very seriously contemplating bringing a decibel meter to determine if it was prudent to take Charlotte to that event with us. When you take instruments designed to be loud to begin with, add musicians who have no interest in adjusting their volume down from “full,” and then some years add amplification? I’ve been going home every year with a screamer of a headache and occasionally ringing in my ears. I always thought it was dehydration, but after this year I think it was the noise. I couldn’t have a conversation without having to yell in most of the hall, and in some parts of it I couldn’t have a conversation at all. This year? Yeah, it was noisy. Hundreds of people talking in a big concrete box with lousy acoustics are going to be noisy. But conversation was not only possible, but easy. I went home without a headache. So, while I’m sorry that apparently the lead-in to this result was that a bunch of people got their feelings hurt, I’m not at all sorry that I had a better event experience. Maybe next year they can figure out how to make the second happen without the first.
I have to say, I spent a lot of money this year. I got my first inkling when vynehornand I were greeted by thatpotteryguywith “Oh good – you two are here! I’ll make the rent this month!” I haven’t had a chance to use the baking stone I bought yet, but Charlotte put her new mug to immediate and enthusiastic use. It’s a little big for her, but she’ll grow into it. I don’t remember our exact path after that. There were books from Poison Pen Press, leather from J & L, all sorts of bits and bobs. One of our early stops was Reconstructing History for a chance to chat with Bob and kass_rants. I gave in a picked up a couple of 15th century patterns – these two:
I’m not really planning to leave the 14th any time soon, but I do so like that dress, and it’s such a nice pattern, and now it’s right at my fingertips. With a help line, even!
The other surprise find of the day was Ironwood Artisans. I’d seen kids running around with the floppy footed dragons earlier, and I wanted one! Err… I wanted one for Charlotte – yeah, that’s it. Then when we got to the booth, I saw the self winding tops, and I wanted one of them… for Charlotte. So she picked out a dragon and a top. Best $55 or so I’ve spent in absolutely ages. My only concern was getting the dragon home, because I anticipated (correctly, as it turns out) that she was going to refuse to let go – even after we strapped her into the carseat. I hope they did well – those are fabulous toys, and I’d like to see more of that sort of thing at events.
At this point I’d like to express my appreciation for my husband. The pattern for Birka for the last however many years is set: Vynehorn and I plan it and execute it. He’s basically along to tote things out to the car for me. He’s been very, very patient and good natured about that. I don’t stick him with Charlotte all day, but the fact of the matter is that he’s there for Sherpa duty. Thanks, hon.
Our shopping and visiting done, we were packed, changed, and out of there by 2:30, and home in time for dinner. My kind of Birka.
Next in the hit parade: dentists and optometrists. Isn’t this fun?