[Artemisia] haven't lightened up enough...

Dr. C. M. Helm-Clark cat at rocks4brains.com
Sun Nov 13 23:37:13 CST 2005

Look, we are still way too serious here.  Now I have the happy pain  
pills from the doctor as my excuse, but the rest of you are just  
pathetic.  The postings will not stop until at least three more people  
have broken ribs from laughing too hard.  So get with the program  
people!  (And please no cross-posting without asking first)
Grumpy (formerly Therasia)

The following is a letter sent to the kingdom seneschal of one of those  
kingdoms next door.

Irgenwer von Irgenwo/Cate Kelly
Principality Seneschal
801 Cerro Arroyo
Albany, CA 94598

December 18, 2005

Lachlin de Scotia/Val Glazer
Kingdom Seneschal
PO Box 002
Lake Nacimiento, CA 94999

Good Your Grace,

This is a report about the incidents that happened at this year’s  
annual “agitation of the boars” event held in the Shire of Beaconsgate,  
at the Boy Scout Camp in Kingston Heights, CA.  As of this morning, all  
charges have been dropped by all parties.  The members of SPETA  
responsible for the live traps and the disruption of the feast have  
agreed to pay expenses and damages to the owners of the puppy, Sir  
Bigod, the Shire of Beaconsgate and to the East Bay Council of the Boy  
Scouts of America.

An incident that contributed to the Beaconsgate mess was Sir James’s  
recent accident, wherein he, his wife and two friends from the shire  
were injured and are still in the hospital.  These four are the  
seneschal, chancellor of the exchequer, marshal and herald for  
Beaconsgate respectively.  In addition, Viscountess Katrinka, James’s  
wife was originally the head cook/feastocrat for the December event.   
The accident removed the four shire officers from the planning and  
execution of the event, which is unfortunate since they are the people  
who know the most about running the Boar Hunt.

Four shire members volunteered to fill in for James and company, taking  
over the jobs of autocrat, feastocrat, gate and marshal.  All are  
newcomers and none of them have been SCA for more than 2 years.  Since  
none of the real shire officers were available to inject their  
knowledge of SCA rules and traditions, the new event staff did not  
realize that Lord Howell ap Howell, the acting marshal, needed to be  
authorized as a heavy fighter and warranted as a marshal before the  

Wanting to do a good job as autocrat/event steward, Lady Shaherazad has  
been reading Corpora and recent BoD minutes. Because of the recent  
ruling by the BoD prohibiting hunting, the new autocrat decided that  
the name of the event had to be changed.  So the Beaconsgate Annual  
Boar Hunt became the Annual Agitation of the Boars instead.  She also  
concluded that she needed to clamp down on religious display and  
invocations at Beaconsgate activities.  To wit, on the day of the  
event, she covered up the Camp Thor sign at the turn-off with one that  
read “Camp Thorn” instead.  She also banned any and all Christmas  
carols, mistletoe and dreidles at the event.

Since real world laws take precedence over SCA rules, Shaherazad also  
read up on the laws of the town of Kingston, and discovered that  
Kingston is a nuclear-free zone – so during set-up on Friday evening,  
she removed all the smoke detectors with americium-241 from the main  
lodge of the Boy Scout camp.  She removed the welding rods from the  
Camp’s arc welder and all the Coleman lanterns.  She also forbade the  
use of any spice mixes containing potassium chloride because of their  
potassium-40 content, a move applauded by Sean Lard, the replacement  
feastocrat, since radioactivity is not period.

While Sean Lard has worked in the kitchen for many feasts, this was his  
first time running one.  He ordered 30 frozen ducks over the internet  
to be delivered to his apartment in El Cerrito on the Friday before the  
feast.  He realized after delivery that he did not have enough room in  
his tiny kitchen for 15 boxes (2 apiece) of frozen ducks. So instead of  
defrosting the ducks in his kitchen, he put the boxes on his balcony to  

When Sean arrived to set-up kitchen on Saturday morning, he discovered  
that he had forgotten powdered ginger for the armoured turnips.  He  
sent one of the local college student members down to the Berkeley Bowl  
to buy some.  Amy, the student in question, found something even better  
at the Berkeley Bowl: fresh ginger root.  She returned in triumph with  
her find, whereupon Sean delegated her to make the twelve pans of  
armoured turnips for the feast.

It wasn’t until 3 in the afternoon that the ducks were unpacked from  
their boxed and were discovered to still be frozen.  Spending a cold  
December night on Sean’s El Cerrito balcony had not been sufficient to  
defrost the fowl.  Panic set in in the kitchen but disaster was  
adverted by sending all the cooks home to get their microwaves.  Soon a  
steady stream of defrosted ducks were being piled in one of the two  
huge dishwashing sinks since there was no other space left in the  

Meanwhile, Howell was organizing and running the hunt.  To remind you  
how the annual “agitation of the boars” works, here are the rules.  The  
two boars are two armoured fighters using florentine maces.  The  
hunters are armoured fighters armed with spears only.  The hounds are  
armoured fighters with daggers only and the dogs are unarmoured scouts.  
  Dogs and hounds can only bark.  Hounds do not need escorted but each  
dog must be escorted by one hunter and, of course, dogs must be out of  
range before either the hunters, hounds or boars can attack one  
another.  The skunk is an armoured fighter with no weaponry but  
carrying squirt guns.  Since the “smell” of anyone sprayed by the skunk  
disables all the dog and hound noses in the hunting party, the skunk  
victim must return to the lodge and be cleansed of their stink by  
touching the holy can of tomato juice

The rules for using skunks were partially overheard by an animal rights  
activist at Val’s Green Pizza in San Pablo where the Beaconsgate  
October meeting was held.  What the activist overheard was “skunk”,  
“boars”, “ducks”, “gun”, “hounds” and “small arms.”  The activist  
concluded that we were using hunting dogs to track and corner  
defenseless skunks who we would then kill using handguns prior to  
trophy skinning.  He also concluded that we had captured both wild  
ducks and feral pigs and would release them on the day of the event so  
we could hunt them down for sport.

On Friday evening before the event, several members of the Society for  
the Prevention of Ethical Treatment of Animals (SPETA) snuck onto the  
grounds of Camp Thor and placed specially designed live traps  
throughout the woods.  These traps were rigged to spray a permanent but  
non-toxic day-glo paint onto whatever was trapped, thus ruining its  
usefulness for making real-fur clothing.

During the afternoon of the hunt, Sir Bigod in his role as a hound was  
out of sight, sniffing out the path ahead of his hunting party.  In the  
dense brush along the old quarry wall, he tripped and fell into one of  
the live traps.  He did not realize he had just been sprayed with hot  
pink paint since his helm does a good job of muffling sound.  He never  
heard the spray can.  Thinking the trap was another one of Sir James’s  
boar hunt innovations, Sir Bigod decided to play along.  Getting  
comfortable, he started a lonely and dejected howl that was so  
realistic that neither of the two hunting parties realized a human was  
making that noise.  The hunting parties concluded independently that  
the howl was from a dog somewhere in the neighborhood surrounding the  
boy scout camp.  Their mistake was soon revealed when the cops and  
animal control arrived.

Hidden SPETA members monitoring the event concluded that a hunting dog  
was caught in a live trap and that its owners had cruelly left it  
behind – and so they called the police.  Independent of this, an  
elderly lady who lived near the camp had already called animal control  
to report a pack of wild dogs loose at the boy scout camp.  Escorted by  
the grounds keeper of the camp, the Kingston Heights Police and the  
Contra Costa Animal Control officers searched the camp for the “abused  
dog” and found the live traps.  They recovered a pink puppy, two feral  
pink cats, a pink raccoon, a real black and pink skunk, Sir Bigod in  
pink armour and an armadillo.  Afterwards, the assembled dogs and  
hounds had to do a demonstration of baying before everyone was  
convinced of the true identity of the pack of wild dogs.

All would have ended well if the event had ended just then - but there  
was a feast still in the offing.  When the cops arrived, the entire  
kitchen staff ran out of the kitchen at the sound of sirens right  
outside the lodge, leaving behind a large pile of defrosted ducks in  
the sink.  Amy was just pulling the first of the armoured turnip pans  
out of the oven. Not wanting to miss out on the excitement, she placed  
the hot pan on the only easily available spot while running out the  
back door: on top of the ducks in the sink.  The fire in the sink must  
have started soon after but since Shaherazad had removed the smoke  
detectors, no one was aware of a fire for several minutes.

Finally, the heat sensors and sprinkler system triggered as the fire  
alarm went off.  The flaming sink full of burning duck was near to  
overflowing with duck fat, turnips and sprinkler water.  Unfortunately,  
duck fat floats and so the sprinklers succeeded in spreading the  
burning fat on a sheet of water spreading through the kitchen and  
across the main dining hall floor.  It is only because the El Cerrito  
Fire Department Engine House #2 is just around the corner from Camp  
Thor that the main lodge was saved with very little damage.  We had to  
clean all the fire suppression foam out of the kitchen and dining hall  
but the feast was finally served one hour late and minus one course.   
Some slightly slick spots remained on the floor but people assumed that  
mopping could be safely put off until after dinner since there was no  
dancing scheduled.

When the fire was out, the fire station chief did question where the  
smoke detectors had gone. Shaherazad fessed up about the nuclear free  
zone (which no one outside of the shire had heard about yet) and then  
produced the state-of-the-art PID smoke detectors she was going to  
replace the old ones with as a personal donation to the boy scout camp  
“because everyone, even Boy Scouts, deserve to live in a safe and  
nuclear-free world.”  After we all recovered from the shock of that  
announcement, the fire chief chided her not to replace any other smoke  
detectors until the replacements were actually on hand and then chose  
not to pursue the matter any farther.  Since the fire damage was  
minimal, the Boy Scouts are going to overlook Lady Shaherazad’s  
well-intentioned actions and the Shire of Beaconsgate will be painting  
and repairing the wood work in the lodge kitchen this Spring.

The other fire that evening was the armoured turnips.  Neither Amy nor  
Sean realized that fresh ginger is 10 times more potent than powdered  
ginger and Amy used the quantities specified in the recipe exactly,  
substituting the fresh ginger root one-for-one for the powdered ginger.  
  They discovered their error right after high table was served the  
armoured turnips.  The King took the first bite, smiled, nodded and was  
going for another when he made a funny squeek and reached frantically  
for the nearest pitcher of fluid.  As he lunged, he slipped on a spot  
of duck fat, missed the pitcher and knocked it over, fell on the table,  
knocking the remains of the roast beef onto the brand-new white  
houppeland (with real gold couching) worn by the visiting Queen of  
Uberwaldt and then flung the rest of the dishes away from him in all  
directions as the table collapsed underneath him.  As he recovered his  
balance and composure, the King summoned Sean and told him that next  
time, don’t use too much ginger.  Sean is a man who believes there is  
no such thing as too much ginger and probably kept that belief right up  
to the moment that the King made him taste the turnips.  Sean claimed  
afterwards that he never said there was too much ginger, though someone  
pointed out that that was because he was too busy gagging to speak.

That is all I have been able to uncover for now.  I will inform you as  
soon as possible if and when more information about the Beaconsgate  
“Agitation of the Boars” event becomes available.  Let’s hope the  
aftermath of this event continues to remain quiet since I know you have  
your hands full with the stolen elephant incident in The Far West/Guam.


(c. 2005 by C. M. Helm-Clark)

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