My Little Irish Wanderer…and the Aftermath

Well, so it has been a hot minute since I last updated this – or wrote anything if I’m honest, but work and life have not given me a second to breathe, let alone open the laptop.

That little face there is my Ciaragh (Our Cailín Ádh), and she has had a marvelous adventure this week that nearly ended me. She and I were working at the Georgia Renaissance Festival this past Saturday and I completely forgot that there was a cannon shot from the bow of the pirate ship until it went off with us standing right there. She started to vibrate and I tightened up a bit on her leash to make sure she didn’t bolt. My wonderful niece was there with my sister and she tried to comfort Ciaragh, but as soon as she moved away and I slacked up the slightest bit on the leash, C saw her chance and bolted. Now, for the initial escape, I was still holding onto the leash, so I spun around and was dragged behind her (through the gravel) until she could dash through the exit. Sadly I did not make the graceful turn through the S-bend of an exit that she did and instead bounced off the large wooden fence that marks the boundary between onstage and offstage.

Two of my group’s volunteers and a GARF cast member pursued her as a third volunteer and my sister and niece stayed with me. At first, all I could do was make a primal growly sound because gravel+skin=OW but I was (and am) all right. It took a minute to walk up to my car, but that was where I fully expected folks to be waiting with C.

They were not.

She managed to evade capture for three more full days, and I drove back to the site every one of those days to keep looking for her. Finally, on Tuesday night around midnight, I got a phone call from someone in the area – Ciaragh was on his front porch and could I come get her, please?

Once I got my heart started again, I made some calls and arranged for some folks to go get her and keep her overnight until I could get back on Wednesday. I still don’t know how I did not get a speeding ticket on my way to Atlanta that morning, and yesterday (Thursday) we got her into the vet for a checkup – she is fit as a fiddle. An Irish fiddle.

Aftermath: I have helped out with many lost greyhounds in my two decades of having pets in my life as an adult. I have always just gone where I am needed and done what needs to be done, but I have not until now been on this side of the equation. Sure, my greyhounds occasionally got out, but I never had to spend a night without them back home safely – I sent thoughts and prayers to those that did, joined the search, rejoiced in the eventual recovery, but never really got it, until now.

I have ideas percolating (as does hubs) about non-profits that not only look for lost pets but care for the owners of those pets. I had so much love and support that it was overwhelming, especially since I was convinced that Ciaragh’s loss was my fault, but when it came to trying to pay for gas to keep searching, tracking teams to bring in, other pet recovery specialists who need money for materials and time – it is an expensive prospect to find your pet if they go missing, and mine was only gone for three days! So, I will let that idea keep rolling around. There has to be something that can be created that will harness the talents of EVERYONE that wanted to help rather than narrowing down the field of helpers to only those affordable options. What if we had not had a breed club behind us to help? I already have some ideas that were born from the search for Ciaragh.

So, enough of me. My girl is back, and she has effectively helped me write the last chapter of her Clobberpaws book, and I’m going to go snuggle her on the couch before I get back to writing. Make sure your pets are chipped and tagged, y’all…and loved.

Back to the faire…sort of…

This is me and my girl – well, okay mostly my girl Bryn, with what appears to be a Mommy growing out of her head. This photo was taken by a patron (at one of the renaissance faires where I work as director of the Hounds of East Fairhaven) in November of 2013, when she was just 5 months old and had been mine for about 24-36 hours.

We bring period appropriate hounds (mostly Western European, 1500-mid 1600s, but we also include some Asiatic and Eastern European breeds as well) out to meet patrons and we talk about their place in history. We also wear period-appropriate garb (or as appropriate as possible when the threat of a Clobberpaw on one’s skirt is a real possibility) and tell the patrons about how these hounds (sight mostly but a few scent hounds as well) lived and worked with people in this time period.

I used to work much more than I do now. We started with a small group (four members) and we were attached to the Lord Mayor’s Court at the Carolina Renaissance Festival near Charlotte, NC. We grew in numbers and ended up with our own tent the next year, then our numbers dwindled down to almost nothing and we have gone up and down ever since. We also added more appearances to our schedule – we now appear in the spring with the Royal Court at the Georgia Renaissance Festival and in September at the Enchanted Chalice Renaissance Festival in Greenville, SC.

I can remember the early days of CRF when I had three greyhounds (out of my five) that did faire with me, often sleeping in my Honda in the parking lot with me so that I didn’t have to drive the 2.5 hours (one way) on Saturday nights to just have to get up and drive back on Sunday mornings. Thankfully I moved about 45 minutes up the highway since that time, so it only takes me just under 2 hours to get there now, and I only work on Saturdays because I simply cannot physically do my job on Mondays after being at faire and in the car all day Sunday.

CRF opened this past weekend for it’s 25th year, and it was the first opening weekend that I haven’t worked since the two years that I was forced into behind the scenes work due to living abroad. After the year that 2018 has been for me so far, I decided that it was in the best interest of my health, both physical and mental, if I took some time off from faire this fall. Bryn doesn’t like the setup there anyway – she is afraid of the booth that we have after some bad playtime-gone-wrong experiences with some of our other dogs, and as a result I have to stand out in front of the booth with her for the whole day. Both of us are ready for the car after closing cannon! We will see how Ciaragh does up there – she was a star at GARF this spring until she got tired, but she’s almost two and growing up more every day, so hopefully she will be able to manage being in close communion with other dogs better than her big sister does.

All that said, y’all go to the faire! The Hounds of East Fairhaven will be in their normal booth at CRF across from the DaVinci flying machine. We have greyhounds, Irish wolfhounds, borzoi, Ibizan hounds, and Afghan hounds in any combination on any given weekend, and we have fantastic human cast members that can tell you anything you want to know about their canine companions. The faire runs from 29 September to 18 November, Saturdays and Sundays. My girls and I will be there on the 21st of October and 10th of November, and I will be there with an Ibizan friend on the 6th of October and dogless to interpret on Deaf Awareness Day, 27 October. Hope to see you there!

Huzzah!

Sideways…and then some

The I Can’t Even face.

Y’all. How is it that things can go from zero to one hundred so fast when I’m not anywhere near where I need to be to help?

This weekend started with Saturday at CRF which was good, just long. Bryn has a weird issue with twilight where her bad behavior gets worse the more day fades into night, and she was tired and cranky and nearly broke both my knees by slamming her giant head into them trying to remove her Perfect Pace harness from her nose OVER AND OVER.

God love that dog.

Sunday was a bit slower which was nice because I felt like the inside of a punching bag, but holy moly did the universe turn that one on its ear in no time flat. I was supposed to meet friends for dinner and a show downtown at 4pm. At 3pm I heard about an incident with the Hounds on the Sunday crew at CRF. I got all the information I could, sent a hurried damage control email to festival administration to let them know we had everything under control, and figured that I could then go downtown (only running about 10 minutes late somehow) and enjoy the musical that lives in my heart before coming back to sort out what happened at the faire that morning. I could not have been more wrong.

I feel the need to pause here and tell you that earlier that morning, Simon and I were laughing at this moment from the Big Bang Theory:

Stuart: Oh, Sheldon, I’m afraid you couldn’t be more wrong.
Sheldon: More wrong? Wrong is an absolute state and not subject to gradation.
Stuart: Of course it is. It’s a little wrong to say a tomato is a vegetable, it’s very wrong to say it’s a suspension bridge.


All kinds of hell broke loose while I was in the theatre and, in theory at least, unable to respond. But me being me, I had to at least check in on what was going on and I think my blood pressure was at an all-time high by the end of the show. I also was not able to fully concentrate on the show which makes me VERY angry at myself.  So now, today, I am sorting through different versions of events and navigating the choppy waters of hurt feelings while all the time walking the tightrope that is our continued existence in a building at this particular faire and I just really want to take a nap. Now. Under my desk.


Once again, into the breach…err, semester…

Willow-Pickle's head on the dog bed giving me side eye
Trying the blog thing again are you? Pardon me if I don’t stay
awake until you leave it hanging…again… -Willow-Pickle

Here we find ourselves again, dear friends, my handful or so of Lettuce readers, my Lettuce Heads… Oh, I like that, I think I’m keeping it. You are my Lettuce Heads. Yes.

Sorry, moving on…
Here we are again at the beginning of another semester at Clemson. It is fall, so there is the influx of TOO MANY FRESHMEN that makes class scheduling a nightmare at best and my spreadsheet for captioning a never ending work in process.
Welcome to life in Student Accessibility Services, I suppose.
Those lights in tunnels that I spoke about back in May are still burning. GARF was an amazing experience for this seasoned rennie performer that brought loads of new friends and happy memories and bits to try at other faires. The lack of coffee meetings (and overall lack of Daisy) was hard to manage but we moved onward and upward. I’m now on the cusp of the Enchanted Chalice and CRF, and while I am looking forward to again being in my element I’m finding it difficult to bring up the same amount of joy and anticipation that I am already feeling when I think of next year at GARF. I suppose everyone has their niche, and mine is Newcastle.
That makes me laugh everytime I say it, since my parents-in-law live in a village near Newcastle. The real Newcastle. The one filled with Geordies that doesn’t pull a Brigadoon in the mist every summer in June.
Nothing new to report, really, other than general personal growth over the summer. Coffee meetings with Daisy morphed into snuggly telly time with Willow (and Bryn, when she isn’t being ENTIRELY TOO GROWN UP TO MANAGE A SNUGGLE ANYMORE). Work was steady over the summer, so I was out of the house a lot. I missed dance and poi, but that will start back in a few weeks now that I have a steady paycheck. 
Steady. That’s the word for the summer. 
Coming up though? Watch this space, there’s news on the Nature Walker front. That’s all I can say at the moment, but I’m about to burst here. WATCH.THIS.SPACE

Dia duit ó GARF.

Almost TOO Irish, that.
Go raibh míle maith agat to Chris Heffron (of the Southern Travel Guide) for this great shot from last Sunday afternoon. While hopping from shade spot to shade spot, Bryn and Anne and Bo and I ran into one of our dear friends from the GARF cast, Andy (aka Irish or Jordan Hale) as he was waiting to be able to spend a bit of time with his lady-love (who also works at GARF). Andy is just one of many cast members who have made us feel at home and part of the family at GARF this year (and in years past), and we can’t thank him (and them) enough.
It’s funny, it’s like we are almost too Irish here and Bryn is trying to make a break for it. My sweet girl…she didn’t have the best weekend this time around, adding stealing a sandwich off a table and trying to abscond with a turkey leg to her list of accomplishments this season. I hope that my renewed enthusiasm for this faire will bleed over to her, but I know that I am causing some of her frustration when I expect her to do bad things before she does them. She is still roaring at the horses during the joust and wagging her tail when her favourite princess says her name, so I think she is still my Rennie Hound. Dia linn, for the rest of the run, I say. Dia linn.

Lights at the Ends of Various Tunnels

Me and my girl at GARF,
photo courtesy of the Southern Travel Guide

Yeah, the last post was pretty grim, and if I’m honest, the work situation (that I still can’t talk about) hasn’t gotten any better, but there have been bright spots and that’s what we are going to focus on in THIS post.

One of them is featured in the photo: The Georgia Renaissance Festival. Now, this is not a new thing, not by a longshot, but apparently, the fourteenth year is the charm, hoopskirt issue notwithstanding. I have made friends at GARF in the past, cast members and vendors and directors and the like, but this year just feels different. I feel at home in “Newcastle” in a way I have yet to feel at home in “Fairhaven” after fifteen years in what we refer to as the Northern Kingdom.

What has changed? Me? Having Bryn? I don’t know. But this past weekend, I was able to play, really play, with both the cast and with my partner in crime, Lucy to my Ethel, and the only other member of HOEF that does more than one or two weekends at GARF, Anne. Perhaps it is the beautiful friendship that has formed between her Bo and my Bryn. Perhaps it is Anne’s extrovert that brings my introvert along, often kicking and screaming, to get to know the cast.

Whatever it is, I am profoundly sad on days that I have to miss attending GARF, even though it means a 5 am start every Saturday and a late afternoon arrival back home, dirty and sweaty and hot every Sunday between the middle of April and the first weekend in June. I long to be in the lanes, even though that means pulling turkey tendons out of Bryn’s mouth and replacing steak sandwiches that she snatches in the blink of an eye. I dream of the joust, and of watching with pride as Bryn thumps her tail when her favorite princess rides by, upside down in her saddle, even though I’m fighting the reflection of the sun off the light colored sand which is swirling about in my eyes and nose.

I’m hoping that this feeling of Rennie family will continue into the fall when I am again with my HOEF family in the dog barn on the eastern side of Fairhaven, and that we can project the kind of skilled performance that we are learning at GARF into our wonderfully laid back home at the Enchanted Chalice in Greenville, SC. Vikings ahoy!

I did say tunnels in the title, didn’t I? While GARF is the light at the end of one tunnel, the fact that I only have four days left until my summer break is certainly another. But that tunnel is not quite as bright because I will have several months of empty coffee meetings to look forward to without Daisy. While it hasn’t been easy without her, it has been easier because I’ve had work to distract me. Without my daily commute to Clemson, I am going to have to face what our reality looks like now; no queen on the end of my bed, huffing because I’ve rearranged my legs and accidentally knocked her about. No beautiful blonde/red fawn fur glimmering in the green grass of the back yard as she sunbathes. No teeth chattering in my ear.

But you see that muppet in the picture with me? She is a light of her own, and she and Willow are there to distract me when they can and snuggle with me when they can’t. Their light comes to find me in my tunnel and shines into the darkness to remind me to keep moving forward.

Finally, there is light at the end of the Superginormous Manuscript tunnel…book one in the three book series that it has become is almost ready to go to Amazon, and that is both exciting and horrifying. I took the first Camp Nanowrimo to edit the second book, and am not working on editing/fleshing out the third in between expense reports and mad garb sewing/laundering. So all in all, my life has far more light than dark. I just need to be able to remember that and hang on to it…and keep moving.

Corsets and moving vans and nephews and Nano…oh myyyy…

Random acts of Silly doth abound in Fairhaven…

(You should absolutely read that Oh My in the way that George Takei says it.  In fact, every time anyone says Oh My it should be using his voice.  Every. Time.)

So it’s been awhile and I’ve promised time and again to blog about the honeymoon, the European extravaganza that was the months of May and June for me and The Mister.  This isn’t going to be that post either, so if you’ve been waiting for that, you might as well keep surfing.

It’s currently the end of October which means the Carolina Renaissance Festival has been in full swing for four weekends now, leaving only three to go before we sadly pack up the Dog Barn for another year and start madly plotting our garb for our trip to the “Southern Kingdom” of Newcastle in Georgia in the spring of next year.  But wait, that’s not all that’s going on…I’m still working on getting my soon to be former roommates decked out in garb of their own (a court gown to be done by this coming Saturday as well as a doublet!  I must be MAD.), moving into a new house, and starting a NaNoWriMo on Thursday.  Mad indeed!

We thought that it would be easy to do when we started this sewing project back in August (nevermind that I was doing a Camp NaNo then as well).  We planned to do the parts of the gowns at the same time and finish them both before Opening Weekend so that we didn’t have to worry.  Ah, the best laid plans…

My gown is mostly done, as you can see in the photo above.  There are some bits that need finishing and WHO KNEW that thing would be as HEAVY as it is, but there you are.  Beauty is pain.  I had a little girl curtsy to me yesterday because she thought I was royalty (“your dress looks like the queen’s!”) so I guess it’s all worth it.  Out of the mouths of babes…if ONLY my garb looked like Bettina’s work!

Anyway, so mine is almost done and will have to be re-done before next year.  The sleeves are the heaviest part and will have to be grommetted in so that I can removed them before performing mundane tasks such as going to the privy or picking up poop or…amazingly enough…putting on my cloak!  It was like I was holding two persian cats under there.  Not good.

We’ve almost completed our move into the new house.  As I type, The Mister is wrestling with putting up blinds and unwrapping/setting up IKEA bookshelves.  It never ceases to amaze me the size difference in our furniture in our American house as opposed to our English one.  Where are my “huge” leather sofas?

Over the weekend my brother in law Andrew and his…partner?  Girlfriend?  I’m not sure the appropriate term, but they had a little boy, the first grandson/nephew for the Dunnes.  I’m hoping to see photos soon, and I need to get on the ball and email my niece, the new kid’s big sister, to check in on her.  Being a big sister is not always as glamorous as it looks, and I want her to know that Auntie Nancy has been there/done that and would love to listen if she needs to discuss the finer points of siblings.

Finally…Nano starts on Thursday and I think it’s going to be EQ fanfic for me again.  My hope is that all of this writing I grind out in November (as well as the past Nanos that have been on the same theme) can one day be edited to remove anything that the EQ head honchos may think is actually their property and made into a fantasy novel that can be published and read by people other than me and my sometimes muse, Mike (who brought one of the main characters to virtual life in game for years).

Yeah, so…that’s what’s going on here.  Not much, really, in the grand scheme of starvation and war and Hurricane Sandy, I suppose.  But enough.  You hear me universe?  I’ve got enough for now.

Oh myyyy indeed.