So. Birka-con. What is there to say?
We had a fairly good day. The alarm went off at 4:30am, which just hurt. We got changed, put the last couple of things in the car and loaded up Charlotte. Who predictably, decided not to go back to sleep until we were all the way to New Hampshire. Figures. But we were in the hall, checked in, dressed, and well through her breakfast by the time the gate opened. I abandoned her with Bob to finish her breakfast, and vynehorn and I went to rush the doors. We made a beeline for thatpotteryguy . Because honestly – these days the whole point of attending Birka is to buy pottery from him. It’s nice to visit with people, but I’m driving to New Hampshire at that hour to see what he’s brought. I was only moderately fiscally irresponsible – one London drinking jug, and a really beautiful pitcher. Yes – I bought another pitcher. They’re just too pretty not to. At this rate, I’m going to personally own enough of them to set tables for feast fairly soon. I’m not convinced that he’s charging enough for his time, but if it lets me buy more stuff, I shan’t argue. I dithered (again) over a really nice costrel that he had, but once again decided that I’d spent more that I probably should already. He was good enough to hold our purchases (being both heavy and fragile,) and we wandered off. At some point Bob caught up with us with Charlotte, dropped her off, and headed to an order meeting. (Yes, I blew off all of mine. Bad peer. No cookie.) We spent some time browsing at Reconstructing History, where kass_rants asked to take a picture of Charlotte. I was very flattered. There’s nothing like a compliment from someone who’s “doing it right,” to make you happy. At the end of the day as we were leaving she said “thank you for bringing a perfectly dressed baby.” Made. My. Day. It’s nice to have that noticed, and to have it noticed by someone who is Really Cool ™, and doing the really good historical stuff is nicer.
Besides, I think my kid is cute, so it’s nice to hear the same from others.
Other merchant highlights – Spanish Peacock had their usual assortment of beautifully made tools for fiber work. Every time I see them I want to learn to spin or weave or something, just so I have an excuse to buy his pieces. I did pick up a lovely wooden crochet hook this year. Pin Money was on the map, but not set up. That was disappointing, as I’ve become addicted to her veil pins. It’s probably just as well, though. There was a merchant selling nice, authentic children’s toys, so I bought Charlotte a wooden horse on wheels and a leather ball. Let’s be honest – she glommed onto them and slimed them, so I felt kind of obliged. I’d planned to buy some toys for her though, so that worked out nicely. I mostly stayed out of the Haunted Bookstore, because the things that they have that I don’t tend to be very expensive. Small Churl Books I can see any time, so I just browed briefly. Poison Pen Press had a really nice illumination book that vynehorn bought for me for my birthday. Of course I don’t get to have it until my birthday, but that’s only three weeks, so I can wait. Went to see what hawkyns was selling At the Sign of the White Rose (that sentence constructs oddly) and visited for a bit. No one else really caught my eye.
It was nice to roam and to visit with people, although some folks I didn’t see for as long as I would have liked. Charlotte was fussy and wiggly, so continued motion was the rule of the day. vynehorn had the patience of a saint dealing with me dealing with her. She spent a lot of the day frustrated and angry, poor girl. She’s very mobile, but in that crowd I just couldn’t let her crawl most of the time, and she didn’t like being contained. But I tell you, I probably could have cleared my shopping costs by selling her wagon! Lots of questions about it, and given that she was demanding to be held rather than ride, I was tempted a time or two. In a year or so I may hang a sign off the back “Outgrown – For Sale. Inquire with driver.” She figured out the idea of hang on to my fingers and walk thing on Saturday, so hopefully it won’t be long. Next year she’ll be able to toddle along with me which will be slower, but she’ll be able to wear herself out. I’ll let you know how that works out. :-)
I’m not sure what my opinion is on Birka-con as an SCA event. There were a couple of years there when some really good authentic merchants were there and I thought that they might take the event back from the fantasy/yard sale/B&D leather merchants. And while now we’ve got some different (and really good) authentic goods purveyors coming, we’ve also got an influx of steampunk, aarrgg pirates, and modern gamers – in addition to the aforementioned fantasy, yard sale, and B&D leather. This year the event staff said that they were going to enforce the pre-seventeenth century dress requirement on the blatant vampires, elves, fairy wings, steampunk types. Perhaps they tried, but one of the worst ren-faire fantasy kits I saw was on one of the merchants, I saw a lot of 18th century/steampunk, and I think I saw more people than ever in just jeans and sweaters. I mean seriously – the girl in spandex leggings, a purple and black striped hoodie, and a hat with cat ears. This is an "attempt at pre-seventeenth century clothing?” Seriously? Given that the event steward was just on SCA-East congratulating her staff on keeping out people who wouldn’t change out of street clothes, I’m not quite sure what happened. On the other hand, there’s a lot of people coming and going, and two people at the gate can’t catch everyone. It was just jarring how many I saw in street clothes this year.
Now, if we could spray some aarrgg-be-gone for the 18th century Jack Sparrow wannabees next year, that would be lovely.
My favorite two lines from the day (both by the same gentleman):
“I’m going to come over here and talk to well-dressed people, because my eyes are starting to bleed.” and (to me with a grin when I looked, shuddered, and looked away)
“Would you like some bleach for your eyes?”
Lest it seem like I’m just whining, I’m very appreciative that the event staff is trying to police this sort of thing. Would I like them to do more? Hell yes! But I respect their idea to start small and ease into it. The only thing worse than working an event that size all day is working an event that size all day *and taking grief.* Depending on Charlotte and schedule, (and any possible plans they might have for escalation) I may try to offer to take a shift at gate next year. Although the idea of me as adult supervision is just scary. And sad.
I’m glad I went. I bought some gorgeous pottery, got to see a bunch of friends, got to try out some improvements to the kit, and had a fruitful conversation with hawkyns about how to improve some other parts of the kit that I’ve been struggling with. We bailed out of there reasonably early and headed back to vynehorn ’s where the four of us with Jane and her husband Chris went to the Chinese buffet. Where I proceeded to eat too much, and discovered that I like kiwi. We got home around 7:00pm, put Charlotte to bed, and I was in bed by 8:00.
Sunday, I discovered how tired a day carrying a 25 lb kid at Birka can make you. I accomplished nothing. And today – here I am in cube land. Another day in paradise.
So. Birka-con. What is there to say?
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