Friday, May 29, 2015

Eulogy for Camp Ocala

Camp Ocala for me has been the foundation of my time in the SCA. Many sites have changed, but so far in my life there has only ever been one kingdom site. I find it fitting that at the last event I was able to cook in the kitchen and serve feast one last time, which made my weekend all the more sweet. I have a bunch of fond memories of this site, but there are two right now that I'd like to record for my own sake. I hope you enjoy this small trip with me down memory lane.


 My first kingdom event was TMT, Mideon and Rose were the crown at the time and my friend Ever had someone convinced me to call out of work for 3 days of the hottest weekend in the year to camp. I sat and watched my first crown Lyst that weekend, I fell in love with the contest and have tried to see every crown lyst I can ever since. I remember I sat under the An Crosaire pavilion, next to Ever and she told me a bit about each fighter. I later got up and helped her with waterbearing, which got me up close to the action.

At that first TMT, Ever had managed to get me into the retaining schedule. She and I had talked about it before hand and I thought it would be a great time, this was also the first time I would meet my now friend Kristin. She gave me a once over and asked if I wouldn't mind doing "party detail" for His Majesty that night. At the time I thought this was just dandy, because party detail seemed pretty simple. Inhad one major task beyond the usual retainer duties: make sure His Majeaty did not have an empty cup.

As we traveled to the first party, His Majesty requested a drink from the "bar" in his mug and I happily had the beverage poured. I did one of my favorite activities (people-watching) while keeping an eye on His Majesty and the mug. As the liquid got lower I started to eye all the bar and figure out how to refill the glass, but the King had other plans. He had tried a sip of the drink from another individual and changed his mind to wanting that. He asked that I fill his mug with the new drink, and I asked him where I should pour out the last of his old drink. He gave me a laugh and told me to just "kill it quick" and top him off, so I finished the last of the drink and refilled his mug.

Little did I know this would be the normal situation, and party detail quickly became a challenge as we both got more and more drunk into the night.


This was the first site that I took Sarah to,  when we started dating. I took her to MMM, another Crown Lyst, and we had a blast. Seeing the event through her eyes as she experienced it was a joy, and making sure she met Ever and all my other friends was vital. She helped set up a pavilion (Brenna and Kro's in fact), she began to scribe with Lana for the first time and we both got to bear water together while my friends Jake and Karou fenced under the big oak tree.

My favorite moment of that was late in the night, walking along the waterline and is sharing a kiss and some quiet time. The sounds of laughter, the smells of fire wafted, but for a few moments it was just the two of us. It was the first time that I really felt a lasting connection with Sarah, that maybe this relationship would be different from any other I had in the past.


I have so many wonderful memories from the site, and I'm sure I'll post more stories as I feel inspired. But these were two things that stood out to me today in reflection.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Reflections on a Feast - TMT 2015

AndBefore I begin, I want to emphasize to any of my readers that the purpose of this blog is for me. It is a place I can reflect on my experiences and share my works, but most importantly it is a place for me to be brutally honest about what I do so I can learn. It helps me to explore why things work or don't, and give me things to look back on.

For starters, this was a very rough feast for me.

I'm not saying this was a bad feast, in many ways it was a success. Food was good, plenty of noms for folks, the shtick was lovely and everyone dining had a great time. Most people never really saw the cracks in the foundation either, which is also a success. This feast, by many standards of measurement, was a success and thus was a good feast. But this doesn't make it smooth or less than rough.

1) Feast Planning - My first stumbling blocks were at the very beginning with my feast planning. Now I had plenty of work into this, many test feasts and culinary food runs helped me plan this one out months before. I had a good firm foundation of planning, but things distracted me towards the end. The stress and strain of my job, combined with the stress and strain that this began to put on my relationships, distracted me.

What this caused was me to make a quite dramatic mathematical error in planning my shopping. While shopping for dry goods it wasn't too obvious, but as the food numbers began to add up with the produce and meat I was suddenly made quite aware. This was a rocky start to my weekend, which I had to scramble to correct. It also became difficult because I had purchased many dry ingredients slowly over the weeks and in many ways I overbought on too much.

As well, in the hustle and bustle many small items got left. My feast box had many pieces missing that I forgot to account for, and some really vital equipment didn't make it to site. This made me have to shuffle around to deal with site equipment, and more often than not I did not have everything I needed to provide to my volunteers.

2) On Site Prep (Friday/Saturday) - Friday was a long day. Yes I completed every task I needed to, but I poorly scheduled out many items. I was so focused on accomplishing prep goals on Friday that i overloaded myself on tiny tasks to get done. There were several small things that I should had done earlier in the week to make my life easier (see previous mention of former job stress being a distraction) that instead I tried to cram into the event and clogged me quite a bit.

Another thing that really hurt me was injuring myself. Yes I have hurt myself before (and probably will in the future), but the severity of this injury shook my confidence and really wrecked me. I was being cocky, cutting too much too quickly, and took a nice chunk out of my pinky. It bled for 2 hours, the wound gaped open and by all rights I should have simply gotten stitches. But I didn't, on reflection a poor choice. This made me go a bit unhinged and took the wind out of my sails.

What I mean by this is that while I normally have a great confidence in my ability, after 2 hours of being stuck and bleeding I started to second guess everything I did. I got nervous, uncomfortable and unsure. Dishes I had been practicing for months I wanted to suddenly change, I was unsure of portion control. Thank the gods I had my Laurel and one of my best cooking friends in the kitchen for me, to sometimes even smack me around when I needed it.

When I get nervous and uncomfortable, I start to get very micromanagie. I want my hands on everything, to grab and hold it tight when I don't feel I'm in control. More times than not this weekend I was in total control, but because I did not feel it I caused nothing but issues. There were times Madhavi had to force me away from a thing, because I just didn't need to be involved in what was going on.

3) Clean-up/departure - With my original clean-up plans falling through several times, having grabbed someone to cover the food replacement plan was nice. I still had issues here, because now that nerves were over I wasn't as focused on clean-up as I should have been. I don't feel I was polite to my fellow Cook and I felt like I did not set her up for success as much as I'd like to. I tried to get my things out as early as I could muster, but I know I was still muchly in her way.

As far as food removal, I feel I was less than stellar. I know I grabbed my leftovers that I knew were staged, but I know for a fact I left dry goods by accident on site. I fear I may have left more, and hopefully a good beat down from Wolfmom will better help me correct myself in the future. 

I know that there is a lot of things I did well, a lot of kitchen wizardry I pulled from my hood to make some magic happen. The food tasted great, the portions worked and every guest had an amazing time. But I feel it's important to recognize not just my successes, but my mistakes. It's how I learn, it's how I grow as a person and an apprentice. 

Next post will be much more positive, as well as a discussion of my favorite moments. But for today, I acknowledge my mistakes and am happy to have the learning experience.