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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Assorted Sorbets

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet

"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Assorted Sorbets

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About this time last week, I had a similar feeling to cresting the first big hill on a rollercoaster and looking down the drop and thinking, simultaneously, "Oh shit," and, "This is going to be #*&$ing awesome!" July is an insanely busy month for us, and the last week has stood as proof of that.

Last Friday, we went to Hershey to see Dave Matthew's Band. The show was on the exact date of last year's Jimmy Buffett Debacle. Hershey is one of the many places that Bobby and I go to enough that it is nearly a hometown to us, so we set out with an exact itinerary of where we were going and how long it would take to get there, with extra time built in in case there was traffic or other such madness.

There was. First, we hit rush hour going into Harrisburg and sat in that for a half-hour. However, we had built in extra time, as I said. We were planning on trying a new restaurant, Hoolihan's. Normally, we go to an old fave called Duke's, but we were feeling adventurous, and when Hoolihan's opened, they sent me a menu, since I used to be on a mailing list for dining in Hershey. At the time, they had a decent number of vegetarian options.

We get to the restaurant with just enough time to eat to make it to the show by 8. It started at 7:30, but the Black Crowes were opening, and Bobby and I weren't particularly interested, so we didn't mind arriving late. First, Bobby passes the restaurant and, through a series of almost-comic missteps, we spend another ten minutes getting back. Then we get there, and there is a twenty-minute wait. Fine. It would take ten minutes to drive to Duke's anyway, so we decide to wait. As we're sitting, Bobby suggests that we might look at a menu and pick out what we want, and I agree and laugh, "I should probably check that they still have a vegetarian option!"

Good thing that we checked. They didn't.

So, fifteen minutes more wasted, we are heading down the road to Duke's. I am getting increasingly crabby because it seems that anything fun to do these days involves buckets of rigmarole ... and I'm hypersensitive to the fact that, a year ago to the day, we missed another concert that we were looking forward to because of traffic, and we're running late to another concert we've been looking forward to because of traffic.

Duke's, luckily, came through for us, as it has before, and the service was quick and the food was good, and we were back on the road.

And, about two miles from the stadium, guess what? Traffic stops.

It is eerily familiar: sitting in a line of cars, most going to the concert, and not moving, watching time tick closer and closer to the start of the show (well, in our case, the Black Crowes would have been finishing their set by now), and listening to the artist on the radio. The difference here is that we know Hershey pretty well, and we know that traffic can get sluggish (it's a small town with about one hundred different touristy things going on), but we've never known it to freeze ... and then an ambulance goes screeching by.

Well, that explains things. It's clear we're not going anywhere, so we take matters into our own hands and turn onto a back road and try to wend our way around the blockage. We make pretty good progress and end up on the road that takes us to the vicinity of the stadium, but that's stopped as well, so while we've made some progress ... not much.

As it turns out, we got lucky: Whatever was holding up traffic cleared, and we surged forward about a quarter mile at once, then crept our way through the stupid light that lets through about a dozen cars before turning red again for five minutes (with law enforcement "directing traffic" ... and much like last year, letting through mostly cars in the lanes that the light favors anyway and that weren't backed up. >.< ) It really was almost an exact replica of last year, except that we did get there. We put our bums down on our rain-soaked seats at the very moment that DMB walked out onto the stage.

And it was a great show! I've been wanting to see DMB in concert for years; I have been a fan of them since I was 14 years old and Under the Table and Dreaming was released, and they are one of the few musical acts that I have remained a fan of for the twelve years since. Maybe the only band; some that I liked them and still like now (Hootie and the Blowfish or the Goo Goo Dolls come to mind), I haven't kept up with their new music. My tastes have changed, but I still love Dave.

They played a few songs from their upcoming new album, and they played a lot of old-school stuff. They played "Two Step," which surprised me immensely, as this is one of my favorites and one that I never thought I'd hear live. Bobby was happy that they played "Jimi Thing," and I was happy that they played "Crash into Me," that song of double entendre that was released right when I was at the age when I was started to understand what it meant.

The next day was Celtic Fling, at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, which is about a half-hour from Hershey. Our grand design was to get a hotel halfway between here and there, but true to things going wrong for that weekend, we couldn't find a babysitter for the Goldens. My parents had a concert and weren't going to be home. My sister-in-law Erin was excited to do it and was going to switch her shifts at work ... but then she found out that she was training someone and couldn't. My in-laws were next on the list and were going to come up, but halfway through the week, one of my father-in-law's best friends had a massive heart attack while driving, crashed his car, and died. After that, I think we accepted that it just wasn't going to happen.

So back to PA we went. I wore my Elf ears. Bobby wasn't sure if garb was appropriate, but he wore his SCA T-shirt in case any SCAdians were there. We were walking from the parking lot to the gate when the first SCAdian approached us, and he and Bobby talked about fighting for a while, and Bobby invited him to our fighter practice. Garb, it turns out, was appropriate; we know for next year.

The Fling was great. It was primarily music and shopping, which was okay with us. Bobby and I are Celtic music addicts. It was also terribly hot. I spent the whole day with my butt-length hair stuck to my back. My legs were sweating. When my legs start sweating, I know that it's hot.

I "discovered" two great new Celtic groups. The first was Albanach, who literally play Scottish war drums; in their own words, women frequently tell them, "Oh, your music is so erotic!" ... so they said to all the guys in the crowd, "Go buy a CD!" Their music is visceral and driving ... and I could see how it could be erotic. ;) The second was Scythian, pretty much the polar opposite of Albanach. Their music is more playful and fun (they have a song called "Technoccordion," for love of Elves!) and blends a variety of styles from around the world. So Bobby and I spent the day wandering from musical show to musical show, stopping at the shops along the way. One merchant was selling recorders and recorder music, which excited me immensely ... until I saw that I already had all the music being sold except for a lesson book for the alto, which was well below my own skills on the alto, and those are pretty meager. Bobby and I each acquired some shinies: I got a silver ring with a Celtic knotwork and spiral pattern; Bobby got a silver sword pendant with a Celtic dragon that resembles his tattoo. We laughed because the only time we ever want to spend money is at SCA events and Ren Faires! Typical!

This Friday was 4th of July, and my Aunt Debbie had her traditional party, so Bobby and I got to see my extended family, which is always cool, since we only see them a couple of times a year. (Usually Aunt Debbie's 4th of July and Christmas parties!) Two of my cousins have new babies, so we finally got to meet the new elflings. There was also a large owl in the tree, which was great: Bobby and I love birds of prey. (I prefer falcons, but he favors owls.) We still don't know what kind of owl it was; it was about 18 inches (45 cm) tall. According to my uncle, there are four of them in the area.

(Okay, I spent less than a line on my cousins' new babies and almost four lines on the owl. Typical!)

The next day, we had our 4th of July party. We invited eighteen people, and everyone came. It was the biggest crowd we'd ever had at our house. It threatened rain all morning, and Bobby and I were practically trying to blow it away because ... well, our house isn't that big, and twenty noisy, jostling family members and SCAdians would have proven a challenge. It was also Lancelot's birthday party (he'll be a year old in a week *sniffle*) and my father-in-law's actual birthday.

Because I detest traditional cookout food with a passion, Bobby and I never make the typical fare for such events. Last year, for Alex's party, we did fajitas; this year, we did Caribbean. We had jerk chicken, a bean-and-rice dish that Bobby makes, and corn with peppers. For starters, we had fruit and veggie trays, miniature crab cakes with wasabi sauce, and queso-bean dip. And for dessert ... well, I kind of went all out. We had banana-rum ice cream, coconut ice, kiwi-lime sorbet, and mango-pineapple sorbet. I made homemade chocolate syrup and toasted coconut for toppers. My mother-in-law brought a birthday cake, and my sister-in-law Erin made a dirt cake.

We were busy all week buying and making all of this stuff and cleaning the house. Sorbets, though, and generally much easier than ice creams, since ice creams tend to be custard-based and require cooking and cooling for a day before they can be frozen. Sorbet recipes, literally, tend to be mashed fruit, dash of sugar, splash of alcohol, freeze, and done. However, they don't yield as much since heavy cream tends to swell in the ice cream maker, and sorbets don't use any dairy, so I had to make multiple batches, so I suppose it's the same amount of time and work in the end. Just a nicer variety on the latter!

Anyway, my dad had recently allowed Bobby and me to join on his BJ's membership so that we could save the cost of our own membership, so Bobby had to go to our local BJ's to have his picture taken for his card so that we could buy institutional-size quantities of meat for the party. And his picture looks awesome! It's black and white and grainy, and his beard blends with the shadow under his chin to make it look like he has a huge, bushy beard! He calls it his Viking beard.

Meanwhile, next week should be just as exciting as this week. hrymfaxe is arriving on Wednesday and will be here for almost two weeks. One day, we are going to New York to visit the Met, and we are meeting heartofoshun and pandemonium_213 there; we are also bringing along my illumination mentor Tristan and his husband, so it will be quite the motley crowd of nerds. That weekend, we are going to Ocean City. It's funny because, even when Bobby and I were planning to take a summer holiday, I wasn't as excited about any of the possibilities as I am having a friend come visit and getting to show her all the cool things about our home state.

And Bobby just won me a wooden soprano recorder on eBay for $5! I have two soprano recorders, but both are plastic, so I guess he figures that after having to listen to me honk and screech on those for seven months now without reprieve, I might as well have one that sounds halfway decent. It's probably not coincidental that he prefers my alto, and the alto is wooden.

I'm going to try to update in the coming weeks because I'll want to remember all of this, but I might also want to take a second to breathe!
  • Sounds like a fun time, and I'm glad that you did get to see the concert this year. Perhaps if you want to go see a concert in Hershey the same time next year, you might just splurge on a cheap hotel room and go the day before; it seems like you enjoy Hershey enough to find stuff to do, and that way you can set out for the concert at the buttcrack of dawn if need be.

    One day, I need to take myself to a real Renaissance Faire. The only one I've ever been to was The World's Dinkiest Ren Faire, and that was because the RSCDS troupe I was dancing with at the time was invited to do a demo. Only the dinkiest of Faires would ever consider inviting the RSCDS, I know that much! RSCDS dance is lovely, but as out of place at a Faire as it would be at halftime at the Super Bowl.

    I had to laugh when you said you hated traditional cookout food. I guess that's mostly on account of you being vegetarian, but just yesterday I was telling Mom Pony that, during the short time that I'll be in New England before heading out to Lithuania, I wanted a backyard cookout. Mom Pony cooks a fairly traditional cookout -- burgers, salad, corn on the cob, lemonade, that sort of thing -- but she's the best cook I know, and can really make traditional cookout food into something special. She'd even happily slap a veggie burger on the grill if someone were to request that.
    • I would recommend both the Pennsylvania and Maryland Renaissance Faires, if ever you happen to be in the area. Both are great: lots of shows and interesting merchants, jousting (of course!), and even the food is good. I prefer the Maryland Festival if only because it's on a wooded ground and so 1) slightly more authentic and 2) much cooler. ;) Also, the jousting is real.

      Usually, the drive to Hershey isn't bad! But 5 o'clock on a Friday through Harrisburg ... eesh. Next time, getting a room isn't a bad idea. Or just leaving earlier in the day and spending a few hours doing other things before the concert (since in-season room rates in Hershey can be mildly prohibitive).

      As for cookout food, it's not really the meat aspect that turns me off; both sides of the Felagund family are well-used to cooking for vegetarians by now, since we had (at one point) four of them in the family! But most people make cookout food that is bland and nasty, and for a few years now, it seemed like every other weekend, one side of the family wanted a cookout, and they always make the same things. I can only eat elbow macaroni slopped in mayonnaise for so many weeks before the thought alone of it gags me. My family, I fear, is just utterly lacking in imagination where cookouts are concerned. For example, although we were going to a traditional cookout over my aunt's on Friday, my dad still bugged me for weeks about letting him bring the same tasteless mayo-salad crap to our party the very next day. I suppose some people can't get enough of it. Once a year is too much for me.

      Yay for Mom Pony for making something special out of the ordinary! Does she give classes? ;)

      (Meanwhile, I found this redeeming, the week before the mayo-slathered festivities began.)
      • Mom Pony's typical cookout menu might include a selection of:

        1. corn on the cob -- butter-sugar corn, boiled, not grilled, since we are New England Ponies.

        2. burgers -- patties shaped and grilled over charcoal, on kaiser rolls, a selection of condiments (relish, mustard, ketchup) and fixings (crisp lettuce and fresh tomato slices, possibly some pickles) available on a tray at the table for diners to select on their own.

        3. a salad -- her classic cookout salad is shredded carrots and raisins with just enough mayo to stick them together, though she has been known to make pasta salads now and then. The pasta salads don't follow Slate's rules, but they tend to be pretty tasty anyway, and it's clear that they're a side dish, not the main event. Alternatively, a potato salad from her Julia Child cookbook.

        4. homemade lemonade -- made with squeezed lemons and sugar syrup, not granulated sugar. This gives the drink a smoother texture and a more even distribution of sweetness. If Mom Pony is feeling especially extravagant, she'll send a daughter out into the back yard to cut some mint and then make mint sugar syrup for the lemonade.

        5. sometimes shish kebabs -- fresh veggies sliced, meat marinated for hours beforehand.

        6. sometimes seafood -- we're not especially kosher at home (I keep it more than the Pony Parents do, and I'm not all that strict about it), so scallops and shrimp might feature. The only issue with that is that I'm allergic to shrimp and Little Sister Pony doesn't like scallops, so Mom Pony always has to remember who gets what seafood. For a really extravagant summer party, lobster!

        7. Crudites with the Pony family curry chutney dip are always a hit at garden parties and other events.

        8. Dessert might be a fruit pie, or it might be ice cream, or smores if it's That Kind of Party, or we might decide to go out.

        Not only does Mom Pony not give classes, her response when I asked for one of her classic cookouts was, "Sure, honey. Um . . . what should I make? I don't know how to do this!"

        To which Dad Pony (who was on the extension) and I replied, "Of course you know how to do cookouts! You've been doing cookouts in this house for twenty-seven years, you know what a backyard hamburger cookout involves! That's what we want!"

        I guess the secret is in really fresh, high-quality meats, breads, and vegetables, and then in not doing too much to them other than applying heat and letting people season their food to suit themselves.

        • That sounds like a pleasant variety to me. I think it is the rut of my family's cookouts that bother me more than anything. I actually used to really like all of what they serve. But having it every weekend cooled my enthusiasm a considerable bit.

          My mouth was watering over most of what you described! :)
          • Yeah, every weekend could get to be a bit much. Part of the charm of a Pony Cookout is that we don't do them every weekend, so they end up being kind of festive events. And they vary, too, depending on who's requesting the cookout and what they like to eat.
  • *squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee* I can't wait to be shown around!!

  • (this is fegie, btw)

    Ooooh, the Met. I want to go; when we went in senior year we only got two hours in because the bus driver couldn't find our school. He drove past twice.

    Oddly enough, i only just heard my first Dave Matthews Band song on the radio yesterday. Huh.

    Haha, & your icon is fitting. Today (for it's Monday) we are off to OC. Days stuck in a motel room with my family; skippy... > >''''
    • Re: (this is fegie, btw)

      Now you've made me feel old because DMB was sooooo cool when I was in high school, back in the last millennium! :^P

      (What song was it, do you recall?)

      It's a shame you weren't a couple weeks later on OC. hrymfaxe, Bobby, and I will be going the 17-20. Have fun and best of luck with the fambly. ;) OC gets much better once you can start taking yourself and deciding how long to stay on the beach and where to eat for dinner and what to do in the evenings.

      If your parents ever decide that I'm not a serial killer, then we ought to take the bus to NYC to go to the Met. ;)
      • Re: (this is fegie, btw)

        Erm, Satellite? And i only know it & the title because Mika did a cover of it, & it was on the Best Buy version of his CD. (eheh)

        Auuuugh; heheh. That would've been priceless. Then they definitely would've seen you're not a serial killer (nor me). ;) You should... randomly show up at my house. (And proclaim, "I'M TOTALLY A SERIAL KILLER!") > >' I really want to go to the Met, & i've heard of the cheapness that are the Chinatown buses, but i'm trying (& failing) to save money for Otakon, of which this will be my first year going. It doesn't help that i bought things in OC (b-but the hoodie was big, the hat was neat, i never got the Gandalf Burger King toy, & i can't walk out of Ocean Gallery empty-handed)...

        Just don't get sunburned. My legs rarely see the light of day, & despite putting on sunscreen, they are completely cooked.

        Oh, & by the way, that fire & ensuing explosions? (waves) I definitely felt it. It rattled the window. Huzzah for Woodlawn. (headdesk) (Can say that because i live here; hehe)
        • Re: (this is fegie, btw)

          I had to laugh at the Ocean Gallery comment because that is soooo Bobby and me ... ;)

          The fire! We have our SCA meeting on Friday night at the Christ the King Episcopal church on Security Blvd, right past the mall (next to Panera, if you know where that is), so we didn't feel it, but we definitely saw the smoke and heard some noises. Wow! I'm still not sure what happened, so I guess I'll have to go on baltimoresun.com. There was still quite a bit of smoke when we drove past on 695 about forty-five minutes ago. And one of our fellow SCAdians noticed a nice greasy slime on our cars. Yum.
          • Re: (this is fegie, btw)

            Ocean Gallery is awesome. :D

            I think i do know where that is... the Panera by the SECU? The church right past that little cluster of stores & things?

            I don't think they know what caused the fire yet, but the explosions were propane tanks going up.
            • Re: (this is fegie, btw)

              Yep, that's the place. There's usually a big white schoolbus in the parking lot. If ever you're free on a Friday night and want to hang out with a bunch of medieval re-creationists, now you know where to find us. ;)

              baltimoresun.com had only the barest details. Good thing is that it doesn't appear like anyone was severely hurt. That was my fear, upon seeing all that smoke, that a tanker truck or something had exploded on 695. I don't know if you remember when that tanker truck fell off the 895 overpass onto 95 northbound a few years ago ... that sucked.
              • Re: (this is fegie, btw)

                Oh my goodness, seriously? That's only a few minutes away from my house. xD Bwahahaha.

                I vaguely remember that. Was that the same thing that burned the side of the road coming in from Towson...? (Right by the Owings Mills exit; i don't know names & am horrible with directions. I generally navigate by landmarks. :\)

                Maybe something faulty sparked the fire, something like that. And since it's Friday night, i guess no one was there...? Apparently they were telling the firefighters to just lay the hoses down & on & then get away.
  • All this talk about cooking and cook-outs. Baby Fingon's birthday party in the park was rained out. So L. and I did a lot more cooking in preparation than we had originally intended (the night before and the morning of).

    We made tons of rice; black beans, Cuban style; baked beans, all American style; shrimp pasta salad; potato salad with lots of dill; fresh salad (many kind of lettuce, tomatoes, etc., etc., honey mustard dressing); vegetarian couscous salad with tomatoes, onions, peppers (excellent, but not sure I can replicate--seat-of-the-pants without a recipe, I thought of you making this one because it was inspired by the fact that my vegetarian ex-mother-in-law was going to be there and I wanted to make sure there were plenty of vegetarian dishes); cold green beans with red onions and vinaigrette; and Laura made mountains of chicken (also ad-libbed something sort of Puerto Rican). Gabriel had purchased an enormous amount of MEAT for grilling which is now in our freezers. All of the above was cooked in massive quantities.

    It was making me so nervous reading your build-up to the concert--after last year. So glad you made this one.
    • Oh noes! I was hoping so hard that your party wouldn't get rained out! We had our party, you had yours, and my newlywed cousins were hosting their first party in their new house in southern PA, and rain was expected at all three, so I was hoping very much for rain at none.

      We got a light drizzle here and not much else ... but about two miles away, two of our SCAdian friends reported a downpour at their house, so I think we really dodged a bullet on that one. I'm not sure how my cousins fared.

      All that food ... that makes me anxious just thinking about it. When I was still a kitchen manager, I used to have nightmares about preparing a huge order, and the person shows up to pick it up and it's all wrong and can't be used ... most of those dreams ended up with food being thrown in slow motion. :(

      Will any of it be able to be used at the raindate? *hopes*
  • I was wondering what cook-out meant, but I think I got a clear picture of that now :) Darn, you almost made me think you missed the concert again. I sat here reading and thinking: oh please don't make her miss it again, that would be so unfair!

    It was also terribly hot. I spent the whole day with my butt-length hair stuck to my back. My legs were sweating. When my legs start sweating, I know that it's hot.

    Can you imagine how hot summers were experience by medieval noble women who were supposed to be virteous? I am glad you had such a great time! Speaking of great times: have enormously fun with the upcoming trips, meeting with friends and all of that!
    • Thanks, Rhapsy! *hugs*

      I was wondering what cook-out meant, but I think I got a clear picture of that now :)

      Yep, think picnic with hot, usually grilled food! It's nice in theory, but Americans sure know how to ruin food and they've done a number on the cookout as well. ;)

      Can you imagine how hot summers were experience by medieval noble women who were supposed to be virteous?

      Having run about in my Elven gown and my Celtic dress in temperatures close to 40C, I can empathize with them. The only difference is that, in 2008, I can settle down in the shade with a cup of wine and hike my dress up to my knees. ;)
  • with law enforcement "directing traffic" ... and much like last year, letting through mostly cars in the lanes that the light favors anyway and that weren't backed up. >.<

    O.m.g. Just like the TSO concert. *sigh* At least you got there!

    And as always, I'm jealous of your desserts. Though I guess I should not complain (this time!) because we had homemade vanilla ice cream with berries. Or more correctly, homemade vanilla with berries and flat coated retriever puppy. :P
    • O.m.g. Just like the TSO concert. *sigh* At least you got there!

      Yes, I am grateful. And it's sad that it should always be such a dice roll ...

      Did you not make the TOS concert?? :(

      I work in law enforcement, so I feel that I am permitted to say that nothing fucks up an already fucked-up traffic situation like putting a cop in the intersection. No offense, but most of those guys don't join "the force" for their brainpower.

      And as always, I'm jealous of your desserts.

      Well, I think you should find your way over to Maryland then, and I will make you whatever you would like. ;) I am making hrymfaxe licorice ice cream, which has been an interesting experience (but a tasty one, luckily!), so I feel ready to take on the world.

      Though I guess I should not complain (this time!) because we had homemade vanilla ice cream with berries. Or more correctly, homemade vanilla with berries and flat coated retriever puppy. :P

      Ha! That's always an extra-special ingredient! (And I'm assuming you're talking about Louis? Or is there another one?? O.O)

      Also, homemade vanilla with berries sounds absolutely fabulous to me!
      • We did make it, but we missed a song or two. Luckily, the next year I knew to get a parking pass for a different lot, which avoids those signals!

        And oh good, I don't feel guilty for almost typing "rent-a-cops". 0;D

        Well, I think you should find your way over to Maryland then, and I will make you whatever you would like. ;)

        Ooh! *starts planning* ;) Although ick, licorice. O.o My dad would love you. Does your future ice cream store take custom orders by the half gallon? ;)

        And I'm assuming you're talking about Louis?

        Actually, a friend's girl puppy who's 7 months old and too cute. We had a doggie party - four black furry dogs tearing around the yard and jumping in the pool! Madness! (Oh yeah, and the humans were invited too.) :D
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