I’ll work my way backwards. That will make the timeline incoherent, but means that there’s a hope of at least some of it being currently relevant. Right?
Last weekend was Simplefare, and I think it went well. At the very least I had a good day, which is personally the best I could hope for. Friday I took a half a vacation day so that I could go up to the site for pre-cook. In past years I’ve tried just leaving the office an hour early, and that doesn’t work. Getting across Hartford anywhere near rush hour is just a time sink, and it’s not worth the trip to get there and find out there’s nothing left that I need to do except drop off the floor mats. So this year I experimented with a half vacation day, and it worked out well. I picked up Charlotte at daycare and started packing stuff while I waited for Bob to get home (he had been out helping to shift the kitchen gear from Carol’s basement to the site.) We got out of the house just about spot-on time, and cleared Hartford in possibly record good time – we were so early that vynehorn and Jane were still shopping and hadn’t gotten to the church yet. So I called, and we were dispatched to the store to pick up whipping cream on sale. That gave us something to do and eliminated a stop for them. Once we got back, I scammed a cushy job sitting and peeling carrots. That kept me busy for a while, while Bob kept Charlotte entertained out in the hall.
There were actually a lot of people entertaining Charlotte on both days. There aren’t words for how grateful I am for how patient and accommodating people are where my daughter is concerned. We’d be much less active in the SCA if that weren’t the case, and my goal is to never take it for granted.
I’m honestly not sure what I was doing after the carrots. One of the things I’ve noticed about flu recovery is that my short term memory is shot to hell. I’m assuming that’s a side effect of the fatigue. I think we may have also counted out serving bowls that night. We weren’t able to wash much, because the hot water for the dishwasher required a couple of hours to come up to temperature and we just didn’t want to be there that late. The last useful thing I did that evening was to play Tetrus with the refrigerator. There were concerns about getting everything to fit, but I managed to make it work with some wiggle room to spare. Got home, put Charlotte to bed, and got the rest of our stuff packed and loaded into the cars.
Saturday morning started way too early, since at that point I still felt like I’d been hit by a semi-trailer. Got up, got dressed, finished loading up the diaper bag, collected Charlotte and got on the road. I had wanted to hit site a bit before 9:00, but was moving slowly and got there just around 9:00. Not too bad, all things considered. We got into the kitchen and I abandoned Charlotte with vynehorn while I brought the rest of my stuff in. She’d been fairly well entertained on Friday sitting in her booster seat and watching people work, so I decided to try a variant for Saturday. I have a child seat that clamps onto a table edge that I picked it up at BJ’s for $10, and it lives in my car. I’ve never used it. But I clamped it onto the work table in the kitchen down at one end, settled her in with Cheerios and a couple of toys, and she was completely content for most of the morning. Aelfgifu stopped in at one point and commented that she looked like she was about to start providing color commentary à la “Iron Chef:” “and over here, Chef Elizabeth is sectioning apples for the apples and onions that will be going out in the third course…” She was remarkably content there for a majority of the day. Vynehorn handed her a whisk and a pastry blender to play with, and between that and hugh_mannity paying gobs of attention to her, she was a happy little girl (pictures to come later.) About the time she was DONE and wanted to get down and move around Bob arrived from his side trip to Massachusetts and I was able to play “Tag! You’re the parent!” He pulled her out into the hall to entertain herself for a while, and that soothed the cranky toddler.
The rest of the day was the usual Simplefare drill: intervals of frantic activity punctuated by intervals sitting around waiting for things to cook. Oh, and lots of dishes. galingale runs the dishwasher every year, so I was able to be blissfully ignorant of that. There were three issues of concern this year. First, Salamallah went home sick, which meant that the rest of us needed to remember how to make the mustard soup. I’m pleased to report that it came out spectacularly well. Then the spigot on the big soup pot locked again - we go through this every year. jtdiii and Bob took it apart and got it working again. I was amused at one point when I looked over and realized that we had two very expensive, very fancy engineers – trying to get the spigot on a soup pot to work.
I’m easily amused.
The third thing that concerned us was portioning. We’re too programmed for the really big feast, so when vynehorn reduced the recipes it all looked really… small. I think we were serving something like ninety-six this year. It all turned out okay, and as a matter of fact the portioning of the soup was *perfect.* There was still too much beef stew, though. We appear to have issues with stew quantities - something to keep in mind for next year.
My big accomplishment for the day was that I finally got the hang of the warming oven. I managed to get it up to 200 degrees and keep it there, and everything came out hot. I even remembered to write down how we did it. Now if we’re lucky, next year we’ll have a new site with sufficient oven space and not need one, so my newly acquired knowledge of Sterno will go to waste. That would be good.
A couple of hours prior to plating the first course Bob finally got Charlotte to nap. The hard part is getting her to succumb, but once she’s down, she’s DOWN. People were astonished that she was napping in the kitchen while we were all working, but she’s like that. She woke up just a bit before we started plating. I set her up in her portable booster seat set on top of our feast chest at the end of the table, and she had the Simplefare feast for dinner. She loved the crusty bread, the bockwurst, peas, chicken, berries and cream (LOVED that,) roman carrots, and apples and onions. I forgot to offer her the spinach, and she HATED the mustard soup. She hated it so much that she refused to try the blanch poree because the spoon has nasty things on it.
Maybe next year.
The down side to giving her dinner for dinner is that now she’s sworn off jar food. She wants real food, damn it. Dinner last night was a trial.
After plating I bailed on cleanup, because I was wiped out. I took charge of Charlotte, and Bob went off to help. I got our stuff loaded up for him to take out to the car, got the car seat and accoutrements transferred to hugh_mannity for transport to Boston, got Charlotte into PJs, and we were out of the site somewhat after 9:00. Got home about 10:00, put her to bed, and fell over unconscious.
Sunday, Bob headed back up to assist with the transfer of the kitchen gear back into Carol’s basement. Charlotte and I slept in. As a matter of fact, I slept all day. Woke up for a bit to have a little lunch. Woke up for a bit to have some dinner. Went to bed. The flu sucks. Don’t get it.
So a good time was had by all, including Charlotte. She is *quite* taken with her Evil Uncle Hugh, and people are being very indulgent with both of us as we figure out things like how to watch a thirteen month old in what is essentially a commercial kitchen for a day. Luckily, she’s a really good-natured kid. That helps. A lot. The really funny part is that apparently she knows people that I don’t. There was at least one lady that I have no idea who she was walked up and said “Hi Charlotte – how do you like Simplefare?” She’s not even two and she’s already a social butterfly…
So, if I’m working backwards, I should tell you about the flu next. Or at least as much of it as I remember, which isn’t much. I’ll probably combine that with the Second Alternator Issue of 2009…