I’m home! Actually, I’ve been home for a day or two now, since I was just going to the Renaissance Faire, not trekking to Mordor to throw a ring into an active volcano. But it was a big day for me (bigger than I was anticipating) and when I got home, I was all tuckered out and needed some recovery time.
That sounds like a joke or at the very least, it sounds like I’m a toddler, but the thing is, at some point in the last couple of years, I wandered over the line from medically compromised to medically fragile. What does this mean, exactly? Well, the short answer is, while I’m by no means at Death’s door, nor is She at mine, when I get sick, I have a hell of a time shaking it off. Last Halloween, as you may recall, I got sick. And I’ve had a hell of a time shaking it off.
So I’m okay, in the sense that there’s nothing seriously wrong with me at the moment, but I’m not okay in the sense that most of last week (and probably most of next week), I was falling-down feverish and coughing up a lung, displaying all the enthusiasm of a chronically depressed sloth while resembling a heap of towels some inconsiderate jackass has used to hurriedly mop up a burst sewer line in the basement and then forgot to wash, so that they sit there in the warm, quiet dark for weeks on end, still damp, until they start to sprout…things.
So I’m okay, is what I’m saying, but my bar for measuring ‘okay’ has gotten lower and lower over the years, and last Saturday’s ‘okay’ found me in high spirits as the group and I headed for the Renn Faire, but also found me in a wheelchair. And when we got there–
You know what? A little info sidebar here, for those of you who do not live in the Midwest. Ahem. Weather be crazy here, yo. Maybe not Mammon-crazy, but crazy e-fucking-nough. Four days ago, it was so hot and muggy that I woke up in a literal puddle of sweat. By that evening, a stormfront had moved in. Cue the wall-shaking thunder and lightning all night while I huddled in the basement with my computer under one arm and my blind cat under the other, watching the weather channel. Come the dawn, there was a lake in the backyard and our septic system was flooded out, which meant we couldn’t use water or else the basement bathroom would back up and spew stormwater (among other things) from every possible opening.
That day was cold, not quite freezing, but it warmed up fast around dusk. Like, really fast. Like new-stormfront-moving-in fast. Cue thunder and lightning all night with me perched over two inches of water in the basement with purring cat (he’s blind, he couldn’t see the water) and computer, watching the weather channel again. Following that, it was again dryish and very windy, with intermittent episodes of rain, sun, thunder, freaking HAIL, more sun and more rain. That was Friday, let me remind you. We planned to go to the Faire the next day, come hell or high water, both of which were likely.
Saturday’s forecast called for more of everything, so we were pleasantly surprised when Saturday dawned cool, but dry. A little windy, not too bad. Blustery, as Pooh would say. A blustery spring day.
Back to me in the wheelchair, arriving at the park full of hope only to discover that the fairgrounds were predictably muddy. Like, suck-your-cosplay-boots-off muddy in places. Which on the mud-scale is at least three ticks beyond mire-a-wheelchair muddy. So I could not be pushed. I had to walk.
Now, I can walk for short distances, but like my ‘okay’ bar, my bar for measuring a short distance has gotten shorter and shorter. Several miles back and forth across the fairgrounds is so far beyond my capabilities at this point that it might as well be that trek to Mordor after all. So when I saw that mud, my heart sank, but the tickets were already in hand, so I gave it the old dropped-out-of-college try and I’m pleased (and somewhat astonished) to report that I lasted six hours. It helped that there were lots of events, so anytime I got to feeling like a collapse was imminent, I could just stop pushing the empty wheelchair, sit in it, and watch the jousting or the belly dancers until I got my head back on straight.
God, I want to delete this post so bad and just start over with, “Back from the Faire, had a blast,” but you know what? I’m effing proud of walking. I don’t know exactly how far…hang on, let me ask…
Okay, I asked my sister, Cris, how much we walked and she said, “I hatched three Pokemon out of one incubator,” which either means that we walked a lot or that she had a small stroke. Either way, I’m calling this a personal achievement. On to the Faire stuff.
I didn’t have a lot of money to spend because I’ve been writing fanfiction for the past year instead of working, but holy cow, I could have dropped quite a few mortgage payments at that place if I wasn’t so good at adulting and, you know, aware of financial consequences. At nearly every booth, I saw something I desperately needed, but I restrained myself admirably and only whined until my sister bought me a few things, such as this hat…
…and this clay skull, which the guy practically gave me for free because he saw how deeply I fell in love with it. He had a whole booth full of perfectly fired, carved and glazed skulls, but this one…wow. I heard it call my name. Now it whispers to me from the darkest corner of my bedroom.
What did I do at the Faire? Why, I ate bourbon toffee, tried cinnamon honey from Vinduska Apiaries (fun fact time: I love honey. I collect it like some people collect wine, with bottles from all over the world, and that was the best cinnamon honey I’ve ever had), watched a guy named Sasquatch carry a 20-foot pine log over 150 feet before flipping it end over end another 50 feet to carry his clan to victory in the Highland Games, cheered for the bad guy in the jousting tournament, watched the only female jester escape artist flip out of a pair of Australian thumb-cuffs right before my eyes, and just generally had a great time. Some highlights:
Shout-outs to some of the vendors I saw and whose goods I coveted far more than is probably healthy. Please click on the links. These artists are incredibly talented and deserve all the love and success in the universe.
Minerva’s Menagerie. They make and sell jewelry and other items from found nature and ethically-sourced animal products. Yes, that means roadkill. It also means taking ‘ruined’ leather goods like belts, purses and shoes that others have thrown out and repurposing them. The things they have made from these unlikely materials are simply gorgeous. They can be contacted through their Facebook page and are in the process of getting an Etsy shop up and running, although there’s not much there yet.
Alde’ware. They “find and adopt out” dragon eggs. Marvelous people. I discussed various breeds of dragons and the effect of climate change and pollution upon the vanishing species for several minutes before adopting my East Egyptian Ashclaw, also known as the False Firedrake.
Odyssey Craftworks. There is so much amazing and unique jewelry at places like conventions and Renaissance Faires that after a while, you get a little blind to it. You see one stunning handcrafted opal ring, you’ve seen them all, amirite? I’m as guilty of this cavalier attitude as the next person, but every once in a while, you see some work that stands out, even in a sea of excellence. Odyssey Craftworks is a small group of artisans of various fields, producing artwork, fragrances and jewelry. They are in the process of constructing a website, and they have a shop on Etsy.
Thornewood Creations. That link will direct you to his Facebook page, which is fairly new and not set up around a shop yet. He has given me his kind permission to link it here, and you may contact him through it with requests/orders. He does not have an internet storefront yet, which is a pity because mere words cannot express how amazing their selection of wands is. It’s as close as you can get to a real-world version of Olivander’s. Not even kidding. The base wands are selected for the mythic properties of the wood, then hand-tooled according to ancient woodworking practices. Many are augmented by copper cores or crystal tips and are sold with some of the shavings produced during their creation for ritual purposes. Wands aren’t all they produce, obviously, but in a fair metaphorically swimming in wands, these…wow, it was like seeing a Maserati on a small-town corner used-car lot. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with them other cars, but damn, that’s a Maserati. Enough words, must have pics!
Notions By Narissa. Sells functional and decorative crafts in leather, wood, metal, glass and clay. Oh, the clay. I love me some pottery and they had some there that made my heart laugh and wallet weep. If you’re not a fan of pottery, click on the link and see if her amazon storefront can’t change your mind. If you are a fan of pottery, don’t click the link or you’ll end up eating ramen noodles for the next month out of your beautiful new bowls.
Every Magical Day. Another jewelry booth, you say? No, I say, NOT just another jewelry booth. These artists take real coins from around the world and craft them into necklaces and rings. Doesn’t sound like much when I type it out like that, but seriously, these things aren’t just pretty, but each one tells a highly personal story. I’m working with them to buy my father a man’s ring made from a French coin minted in the year he lived in France. They also sell genuine Viking rings collected by locals every year when the floods recede, and old Celtic rings recovered from the peat bogs when the locals go out cutting peat. Deceptively plain, utterly captivating little pieces of pure history (seriously, one of those Viking rings is haunting my dreams).
Big Sister Cosplay. Confession time. I personally hate the word ‘cosplay’. I hate it. I don’t hate the people who do it, of course. A, because I’m not an asshole, and B, because I’ve done it myself since I was 13, long before there was a stupid word for dressing up like a comic book, cartoon, movie, TV or generally fictional fantasy character. But as much as I hate the word, half my closet is reserved for costumes and even better, for costume components. You ever get a really distinctive set of horns or a pair of boots, even though they went with nothing you already owned and you were now more or less committed to building an entire costume around one accessory? This is where you do that. Their rather limited Facebook page (linked above!) does not begin to show off the full scope of her closet. From medieval wench to anime monster hunter, she’s got your back covered, literally. Let me be clear: Kayleigh Price has e v e r y t h i n g. And she will work with you to find components or make them from scratch to manifest your vision.
And on that note, we come to my last and by no means least shout-out: A Pinch of Pixie Dust. They are also costumers, with loads of costumes, mostly fairy-central, varying from wings and cloaks all the way to complete styles, all ages, all sizes, but they stand out from vendors with similar wares because these guys live the life. They cosplay (God, I hate that word) fairies and they know their glittery shit. Also, as I was sitting and recovering in my wheelchair in front of their booth, the Fairy of Autumn…
…and I got to chatting, and I remarked on my regret that my cosp…you know, I’m not going to say it…my dressing-up days were pretty much done, because, well, wheelchair. And she promptly told me about an episode of Say Yes To The Dress where the bride was in a chair and they by-God got her in a gorgeous dress that not only accommodated but incorporated the chair into its design. Then she said she did custom work and she liked a challenge. Skills aside–and these fairy folk have skillz, ya’ll, the kind you spell with a Z–the fact that they will work with someone to that extent, with that level of enthusiasm, deserves major kudos. I cannot wait to work with these people, and the next Renn Faire that comes my way, I will be dressed-up again, whether I’m in my chair or not.
It’s the little things that separate you most from what you always thought of as your life. And it’s the little things that make you feel like you’ve fit back into it. A toast, then. To all the little things!