Dragon Tastes Like Chicken

 

Image courtesy The Graphics Fairy

 

The good news: Hubby aced his midterms. His hard work paid off in aces and spades.

The bad: After the last month (as you may recall, we have two relatives in ongoing life-altering situations that have to play out on their terms), we needed to climb up into our happy place. Bristol Ren Faire closed for the season Labor Day weekend. We missed out on Stronghold Olde English Faire. We also missed Quad Cities Ren Faire. Of course they both fell the weekend just before midterms week.

The constant playing of appropriate music and burning rose and sandalwood incense by the package provided some respite, but we needed something more. So we went to Medieval Times .

And did we have a blast. OK, except for the part where we blew past the entrance and drove a few miles north when we exited the tollway. (If you’re in the Chicago area, the castle’s address is on Roselle Road in Schaumburg, and that’s the exit you’ll take off of I-90. It’s actually on Central. You’ll have to turn east into the office park just north of the tollway.  The combination of fog and the high berm between the tollway and the property made the building fade out. Very Halloween-esque.)

Digression over. On to the show.

We lined up, had our tickets checked, and collected our color coded seating assignments. On the way in, we met one of the stars of the show, Liberty the falcon, as she calmly perched on her trainer’s gloved hand. Once in the lobby and past stands with mementos and adult beverages, murals and maps illustrating Spain’s reach at that time gave guests a very brief history lesson, just enough to entice into maybe reading up on it a little more.

Finally, one of the lords of the realm called to the crowd to start the seating section by section. Easily done, since paintings of the knights’ coats of arms decorated the areas just above the doors. The sections encircle the arena where the jousting and combat take place. I don’t think there’s a bad seat in the house.

Once seated, the servers (either a serf or a wench) began bringing food and drink. Water or pop? Water, please. Dragons’ blood soup? Yes. It resembled tomato basil, but I won’t tell if you won’t.

And then it grew dark. The spotlight came up by the arena’s entrance where mist floated up from the floor as the show’s narrator spoke to the relationship between humans and horses throughout time, the mist parted. There stood an Andalusian, bold and big, gleaming silver.

If we’d had to leave then, I would have been fine with it.

Obviously, we didn’t.

As the story unfolded (a joust arranged by the king for our entertainment interrupted by a representative of a foreign power attempting to trade a horse for the princess of the realm), the servers made their way as unobtrusively as possible with the pans of roasted young dragon (tasted and looked a lot like chicken), dragon eggs (resembled spiced potatoes), and corn (that looked and tasted like, well, corn). Add in the coffee and the lemon poundcake and we were both very satisfied.

Most importantly, for the first time since the last Ren Faire, we had fun. I came away inspired to learn more about horses, and more about Spain–as with many Ren fans, I’ve been slanted towards the British/Celtic side, but there’s so much more out there to read.

Between that and the “Tudors” DVDs, we should be occupied until the first weekend after July 4 when the call “Open wide the gates!” rings through the air at Bristol again.

 

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The Point of Sweet Tension

Some years ago, I had a yoga teacher who called the place where you’d bent into the pose enough to get a good stretch, but not far enough to put yourself in pain “the point of sweet tension.” As August slides into its middle weeks, I find myself in that place. Not so much in a forward bend, but with life and time in hurry up and wait mode.

On one hand, I look forward to Labor Day and all that comes with it. We’ll be making a trip to Bristol Ren Faire (sigh) for closing weekend, the start the countdown to next July. Daytime highs will begin to creep to more acceptable levels, and the colors will turn to golds and crimsons. And in November, we will finally be through this election season that has been unparalleled in sheer bad behavior and insanity.

On the other, despite the highs being uncomfortable, in the face of political insanity, and despite the changes and challenges foisted on me this year, I don’t want to wish it away. This ride, even with the pain and the headaches, is just too short. There are days when the middle years feel like a war of attrition: life choices and genetics catch up with a person eventually, and sometimes a passage just happens for no apparent reason.

If some how I had been able to fast forward, I would have missed the hawk making lazy circles above me as I drank an iced coffee with a shot of caramel at a park. I would have missed an excellent lunch with a spirit sister last weekend, and the song of the crickets this morning as I woke up. Don’t forget the gifts of homegrown tomatoes, green beans, and cucumbers, either.

The sweet point among the salad is the need to stay in the moment, and knowing that eventually you can straighten up, but enjoy the stretch in the meantime.

 

Chant and Polyphony for Tornado Siren and Alert Tones

It is mid-morning, and quiet, and growing hot again. It is good to be home with the air conditioner’s hum and the snores of a contented dog harmonizing with the low buzz of the mower as Hubby tries to tame the prairie restoration that is our lawn.

While Oakley had his sleepover camp adventures–exploring a lake’s edge, making friends with a kitty, playing with a couple of friends from day care–Hubby and I made the trip north to the Bristol Renaissance Faire for badly needed break from common reality.

It began as any other trip did, moderate Saturday traffic, clear weather, then we hit very slowed traffic ten miles south of the exits for a mega-amusement park, a mega-outlet mall, and a mega-water park resort. There had been one huge accident still under investigation compounded by cleanup from several smaller fender-benders likely caused by other drivers messing with their phones or trying to figure out what happened. The automotive carnage forced traffic into two lanes instead of the usual four, hence the thickness.

Fine. We arrived unscathed. Parked in a spot on the high side of the lot, went inside the magic gates to our happy place.

A few clouds gathered, and the air felt a tad soupy. Saw a couple of the comedy acts, grabbed lunch. Music? Too many good acts to choose from so we would just see how the day unfolded.

More clouds gathered, and the air felt as if rice or noodles had been added. We went to the Nobles’ Glade, the shady part at the back of the grounds where Queen Elizabeth I holds court. They were enjoying their lunch to the tunes of a vocal group performing Celtic tunes.

And then the clouds congealed, and the air grew as gloppy as canned cream of mushroom soup, and Her Majesty gave the command for the servants to get the carpets rolled up and for all to take shelter. Well, the possibility of rain had been in the weather reports for a few days, so no surprise there.

Hubby and I walked up the lane to get cookies at the bakeshop. The sprinkles started, then strengthened into a storm. We dove into a game and bookstore along with about two dozen others. Watched a game involving the construction of castles, chatted with our fellows as the rain dropped straight from the sky like a blanket getting dropped onto a bed.

Not a problem. Having too much fun to get too upset. A couple of other patrons made a run for the tavern across the street.

The wind shifted. The customers’ phones, the weather radio, and the tornado siren let loose with a collective wail. We were under watches for everything this side of a blizzard. We could do nothing but wait it out. A shrug, a pause to move the table from beneath the leaky part of the roof, and the party continued.

After an intense forty five minutes, the storm tapered off. We decided to stay, but Hubby wanted to check the truck. It took a lot longer than expected, and as I looked for him from my spot at the gate, I looked straight ahead. The parking area at the bottom of the hill was flooded, trapping several cars.

Even though we’d had a good spot, the faire’s streets had been trashed out, forming rivers with slick footing in the relatively dry places. We decided that heading home might not be a bad idea.

We passed a lot of water on the pavement; we passed another accident. Still, a smoother trip than the northward trek. A stop for Chinese takeout, and we were done for the day, but not before we began the laying of tentative plans for another trip.

Hubby negotiates with the prairie plants. I picked Oakley up from sleepover camp, checked messages.

We make our tiny tenuous steps into common reality today. We bide our time until we can leap into the other one.

Wait For It….

Just tried to get Oakley to potty. No luck. I don’t think I could potty in a 20+MPH shrieking north wind, either. At least the sun is out today. The roads are clear, so play group is in order.

Nowhere near as bad as last year, though. I can get out of my house and drive safely. I’m grateful for that. Unlike last year, the times the deep freeze have only been for a day or so with two storms requiring a call to the snow removal company. The roller coaster ride continues through next week March is supposed to be warmer than usual. So we wait.

My biggest problem is boredom right now. I’m caught between Weight Watchers and the wheat sensitivity, so cooking is not really an option. At least the things that I really want to cook aren’t. I dream of cake the way that I usually dream of Sting.

I distract myself with the yearly rerun of “The Tudors.” My favorite Ren Faire opens only five months from yesterday, so that countdown is on. Last night I checked the website to see if there was any news about this summer’s acts. No, but the memories of the green leaves and the scent of turkey legs on the grill and all that goes with it made me whimper a little bit.

In the meantime, I have streams of music from that era to soothe the ache. I can have reasonable amounts of chocolate And in a few weeks, I can have my tea outdoors.

It will be worth the wait. Really.