You may remember that last year I was signed up to go to the Pennsic War, the major event between my Kingdom of the Midrealm and the Kingdom of the East held at Aethelmarc in Pennsylvania.

Well, I didn’t get to go, due to crummy health stuff. SeeΒ here. There are some nice photos of Pennsic in that post, by the way, although unattributed and definitely not by me, since I wasn’t there. I used one of them at the top of this post! πŸ˜›

I do have some photos of the insides of some Pennsic tents belonging to friends of mine. These are their own photos:

So, although I didn’t get to go to Pennsic last year, I said in that other post that ‘there is always next year.’ And this is next year! πŸ™‚

I have now paid my pre-registration and gotten permission to camp at Pennsic 2018 this summer with the group Holt Herotus, whose land agent is my very own Baron Talymar of Middle Marches. There are several others in the group I know, including Baroness Melisande of Middle Marches, Mistress Halla of Mugmort, and Master Vorlin of Tirnewydd. I look forward to camping with them and relying on their advice and help, as well as having lots of fun and companionship with them.

It’s been 16 years since I last camped, and that was solo and on the bare ground, in a pup tent.Β  I will need all the help I can get to adjust to medieval camping, which will hopefully also be a tiny bit closer to glamping! Since Pennsic has a population of 10,000+ people camping there, that will also be a major change!

Pennsic 2013
View from the air of Pennsic 2013 with all its 10,000 plus people camping out. Attribution unavailable.

I will still just have cheap modern camping equipment for Pennsic, unlike the period camping stuff that many will have, but Baron Talymar said that was OK. Such kindness! πŸ™‚

One thing I’m definitely changing from my last year’s plans, though: no Army cot for me! I’m getting the best twin-sized air mattress I can afford. Here is the Army cot I got last year and tried to set up by myself in my living room. You can’t tell it from the photo, but one corner of it is actually held together with duct tape. πŸ˜›

2017-03-05 17.53.12

My friend Janet VanMeter will come over sometime in the spring to help me figure out how to set up my little dome tent, which has never yet come out of its bag! πŸ˜›

And I’m getting ready to add some more lightweight garb to my collection, so that I won’t be stifled on hot days.

I’ve made a big decision about what I won’t take to Pennsic, which is my harp. Much as I’d like to have it there, since I enjoy playing it so much, it’s too likely to get damaged, either from direct sunlight (which melts the glue in the joints), hot temperatures in the tent (warping), or rain.

And hopefully I’ll be quite busy with other things anyway, like walking around looking at other cool camps and merchant setups and stuff, buying sundry items, taking all kinds of classes (can you say ‘Viking’ and ‘sewing’?), meeting new people and hanging out with old friends, campsite chores, and maybe volunteering at Troll (mka Gate) or Pennsic University Point. I’ve also applied to teach my class “Women in the Viking Age” at Pennsic U.

But I am going to take my psaltery to Pennsic–can’t do without at least one thing to make music with (besides my voice). Made for me in Vermont at my first early music conference, with the New York Pro Musica, when I was 16 by a girl who was 12, it is now 50 years old and has survived just about anything you could think of. It even still has the original wire strings, although they are hardly ever in tune. πŸ˜›


It lives at the moment beside my Renaissance lute made for me by the master luthier Hirotaka Watanabe in Tokyo in the year 2000. We had met a couple of years before in Cleveland, Ohio where we were both attending the Lute Society of America’s Summer Seminar. He heard me practicing in the dormitory on my old lute and was, amazingly, charmed by my efforts at self-accompanied Elizabethan lute-songs. He even offered me a very attractive discount! Woo hoo! πŸ˜› A first-class, historically-accurate Renaissance lute custom built for me by one of the world’s top luthiers!


Seven-course Renaissance tenor lute in E, built for me in 2000 by Hirotaka Watanabe of Tokyo.

My Watanabe lute is a seven-course (thus 13-string) lute typical of the mid- to late-1500’s in England. Since I wanted it largely to play and sing Elizabethan lute-songs on, I needed one that was right for my voice, which was starting to get lower as I got older. Tenor lutes like this one are usually tuned to G and have a string length appropriate to that tuning. However, I wanted one in E. It was tricky for Hiro to figure out how to build one in E that wouldn’t have such a long string length as to make it almost impossible for my fingers to reach all the necessary notes. But he did it.

I haven’t been playing it much in the past few years due to my arthritis, but I did play it a year ago at Midrealm Kingdom Twelfth Night 2017 for then-King Edmund and -Queen Kateryn in an Arts & Sciences competition:

No, I didn’t win, but I did get to be escorted into the Royal Presence as one of the three finalists. My escort was then-Count, now-King Cellach:

Count Cellach being courteous

HRM Cellach is the epitome of the Most Chivalrous Gentle Perfect Knight! ❀ All of us Ladies, and quite a few Lords, have great admiration for him! πŸ˜‰

I just got the lute back out of its case a few days ago. Playing it again is not an impossibility. It will just take slow and steady practice. With my arthritis I have to be careful not to practice any of my instruments too much at a time, or else I can hardly move for a few days afterwards. This limitation does not make for excellence in performance! But, although people who don’t play instruments have said to me, “Can’t you get the same enjoyment just from listening?” the answer to that question, at least for me and for now, is NO!

Speaking of the lute case, it recently did double-duty as a bed for the intrepid Ophelia:

Ophelia lute cat.jpg

Anyway, back to Pennsic: the lute is not going either. It is WAY too fragile. Just the psaltery can go. But you can take a look here at most of my musical toys (and, as always, LOTS of books!) in my living room with an amazingly long-lived Boston fern that finally gave up the ghost this winter, along with all pretense to our climate here in Ohio USA being temperate!