Monday, October 21, 2013

Why Uncle Olaf doesn't fight at the last practice before Pennsic.

A number of years ago... Pennsic 35… I got hurt in the last fight practice before War. Practice was on Tuesday, and we left on Saturday.  I caught a shot right on the inside of my elbow, at just the right angle that there was no armour there. It hurt like Hel, and swelled and bruised pretty spectacularly. By the time we got to Pennsic… it had not improved.
I decided to fight Monday when the war points started anyway… I had OK range of motion and could work a spear pretty well, and I had not driven there to sit on the sidelines. The Monday battle was the town battle. I’m not sure if folks remember this one, but it was the one where we built a HUGE town out of hay bales. I mean HUGE… it took up the entire battlefield, and was a rabbit warren of streets and alleys and buildings. Our plan was to hit in three teams, penetration, assault, and security. Penetration team punched in fast, advanced to contact, and made the enemy stop and engage. Assault team followed that up and knocked them back, and the security team… the slower moving but generally heaver fighters… held the ground. Rinse and repeat.
Heading into the town.Photo by Ursus of Anglesey
We took over half the town at the opening cannon, and never gave it back. It was a gloriously brutal battle.
Maybe halfway through, I came to the sudden and frightening realization that I could no longer feel the hand on my injured arm. I took this as a Bad Sign. I came off the field right in front of the Tuchux pavilion, and started to drop my gear. A couple of their dogs started ripping into me to GTFO of their space, but Animal saw I was hurt, and smacked them down. I explained what was wrong, and he asked me to take my arm harness off and he would try some acupressure. I had no idea what that was, but at that point, I was willing to try anything.  He worked on the arm for a few minutes, and feeling returned. Pretty much as soon as it did, I wished it hadn’t… because that hurt like a mother. After he finished, Animal told me I probably shouldn’t fight.  I intended to follow the advice, but a quick glance at my exhausted compatriots fighting the good fight, and I decided to go back in. My intent was to carry water up to those people guarding banner points, and I didn’t carry a spear. I had my seax on my belt, so I was armed, and I figured I would count as a combatant if they needed bodies for a count around a banner. This not fighting thing lasted a VERY short time… there was a push on the line where I was, we were about to be overrun, and almost without thought, I flipped a spear that was lying on the ground up into my hand, and started killing folk. The spear broke in my hands (I lost three spears that day, though this was the only one broken) and I ended the battle batting cleanup with the seax as the enemy tried penetrating our line.
I staggered off the field, and had to be helped back to camp. I was hurting. Bad.
That night, there was much prayer in camp. Master Harald blessed his own Thor’s hammer and had me wear it. A massage therapist worked on the arm a while, I took it easy, I ate motrin like candy.
I woke up the next morning, and the arm was still f^cked. The swelling had worsened. The bruising had spread… it was now bruised from mid forearm to my shoulder, ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE ARM!
Harald looked at it, and told me if I went out and fought the woods, it was very likely that I would not be fighting the rest of War. I sat in my tent and watched my friends head off to the woods battle.
I sat there staring at my helmet and thinking. I popped back out of the tent, looked at Harald and said “Boss… I would rather miss the rest of Pennsic than not fight the woods.” I was going. There wasn’t a question.
He looked at me, understanding. Nodding, he said “So suit up.”
I did. Threw my armour on as fast as possible and left the camp just as the cannon went off to start the battle. We were on the far side of the woods that year… about a mile walk from where I was. In under fifteen minutes, I had reached our res point, grabbed a spear from the spare gear ( I had not gotten my spear back from the battlefield the day before) and was in the woods.
I proceeded to have one of the best battles of my life. Seriously… occasionally you have one of those days where damn near everything goes right. This was one of those days. I felt unstoppable, and many a fun story came out of that woods battle.
At the end of the battle, we piled in the vehicles and got a ride back to camp. I got back, armoured down, and took a look at my arm. The swelling was gone. The bruising was almost gone… the arm barely tinged with yellow. I fought the rest of War, no pain or discomfort.
I don't fight the last practice before Pennsic now though. J

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dreams of a modern viking...

One of my Facebook friends made a post the other day asking people about their dreams. Not “hey, do you have that dream where you’re in front of the class in your underwear”, rather if money or real life allowed, what would you do?
A particular dream of mine came a number of years ago when I made a flip offhand comment to some of our close friends “Man, what we really need to do is start up our own commune!”
I was surprised when they looked at me and nodded, wide eyed at the idea.
The incident got me thinking, and we talked about it some with my Household. I would love to take a plot of land… decently sized, with a combination of woods and field… and turn it into an actual Wolfhaven steading. I don’t want to do a fully Viking era thing… the intent is for it to be livable and modern. But I would want to run it as a steading, with houses for each family and a great hall or common building for all to use. Farming could be done cooperatively, with all providing labor and sharing in the produce. It wouldn't be fully self-sufficient, I am sure that most would still have an everyday job (I know I wouldn't leave MY job). Bills would have to be paid, and running a truly self-sustaining farm is very difficult. It would really be co-housing or an intentional community. Some folks I know in the SCA have done something similar with Camelot CoHousing in Massachussetts. What they have done isn't exactly what I intend (in my fantasy world), but it is still awesome, and an inspiration.

We already live in a somewhat communal fashion in our Pennsic encampment. Personal space is allotted for each person, but there is also a large common area where meals can be shared, people can hang out, and projects can be worked on. I picture this as a larger extension of that model (but obviously with larger personal space, private kitchens, etc.). I like the community feel we have at Pennsic... when things need to be done, we all pitch in. Our House is a fairly closely knit bunch, and I trust everyone in it... I would not want to do this with folks who were not truly invested in it. This would not be a true commune anyway... resources (personal monies) would not be pooled, though labor would be. The idea is closer to cohousing, a grouping together to create something closer to a closely bonded neighborhood with common values and goals.

Problems with the idea are plentiful… startup capital would be difficult to come up with, the House is already scattered about due to real world jobs, and there is not the job base to draw them back to the area. Once the land was acquired, there would be common area and homes to build, land to clear and cultivate. How the group would be organized and run would be a question, and how people would “buy in” and what happens if they leave…

Were I to come up with a large chunk of money, I would do it. No question… I would simply buy the land and charge in blindly. Allow House members to build on the land, carve out their own space in return for working the common crop land and building projects. The common hall would double as a feast hall for events, and we would be able to host some pretty excellent SCA events.
As it stands though… it is just a pipe dream.