October 28, 2006

A season cut short.

It’s been almost a week since my last re-enactment I should get a post started on it. I was going to wait for some photos, but there is a slight problem with that. Thus I’m going to go ahead with out any. Sorry, as soon as I get the pictures I’ll post them.

Ktreva and I headed out early Thursday morning to Trail of History. We wanted to get out there and get set up early so we could spend some extra time with our friends. Our camp was set up completely by 1:30. We spent the next couple of hours walking around, talking to other re-enactors and helping others set up. Fortunately for us we did get there early, it helped offset what was going to come. Thursday we went to dinner with some friends of ours at the Grand Old Mill, LTD in Wonder Lake. Ktreva and I love this place, good food and it’s located just off site from the re-enactment. Their chicken liver pâté is excellent!

Friday was kid’s day. They bus in children to learn about history. I didn’t sign up to demonstrate for kid’s day based on past experience. I wouldn’t mind doing it, but being a distiller is not the most child friendly of demonstrations. The concern is that some uppity parent will get upset that we are “promoting the use of alcohol” which is not what I do. We cleaned some cast iron, and Ktreva cooked. Periodically a group of kids would come to our camp and I’d have to direct them on saying, “We aren’t putting on a demonstration today.” What I really wanted to say was, “They have bright orange signs for camps putting on kid’s day demonstrations. Take a look around; do you see any in camp? Dumb arses!” One time I had a group come up and I advised no demonstration, they just stood there. So I advised them again, No Demonstration. The teacher said okay and just stared at me. Then she asks, “So what do you do?” That pushed my button just right and Seamus the surly Scotsman shot back with, “I stand around telling people I’m not putting on a demonstration today.” During the lunch break I decided to go visit my friends that where demonstrating. When I returned to camp 20 minutes later I was drunk.

Ktreva just looked at me and asked, “Are you drunk?” Which I responded with, “No?” (Yes, I was questioning the no, I wasn’t sure that was the right answer.) When I went on my walk about I had guys coming up to me saying, “Hey, you’re the distiller. You’ve got to try this stuff I made” I drank 2 apple brandies, cherry brandy, apricot brandy, 2 blueberry brandies, A Chocolate liquor, mead, ale, and hot buttered rum all in about ten minutes. I was fine until I was walking back to my camp. Then about ten steps from camp it hit me. Thank jebus I wasn’t demonstrating.

Friday night a group of us went into Richmond to dinner at Doyle’s an Irish pub there. They have good food and good beer. Top it off with the great company and we had a wonderful time. However, after drinking as much as I did my little stomach problem kicked in and poor Graumagus had to worry about me redecorating the interior of his van with gastric juices on the ride back. Fortunately my “No horking in the car” policy kept my stomach in check.

Saturday was beautiful. It wasn’t too cold and the wind wasn’t bad. I spent the whole day demonstrating. Before we left for the event I decided I wasn’t going to participate in the battle. It was too difficult for me to do my demonstration and all the prep battle work. I did take an hour break to go to the indentured servant sale. Ktreva and I needed someone to help gather firewood and water, turn the oats, and tend to the mash. We don’t actually buy a servant, but it was part of the demonstration. I ended up getting me a servant for a barrel of “Whiskey” two years in the cask. Through out the day I had a steady stream of people coming through my camp and at numerous times I had groups up to 20 people listen to me give my spiel. I did have a couple of incidents. At one point I had an older gentleman stick his finger into the drippings. I saw him lean towards it and I told him repeatedly, “Sir, don’t do that.” The whole time he was looking at me as I said it. Finally I had to grab his arm and advised him “You can NOT touch the still or anything coming out of it for numerous reasons.” He was a little indignant, but not as much as I was annoyed over the whole incident. Fortunately the event backed me up on my actions.

There was also a guy that decided he wanted to see what was inside the still. While my back was turned to get some more wood for the fire, he decided he was going to remove the copper cooling tower on the still so he could see inside. The still had been on the fire for over 5 hours. For those of you that may not understand, the cooling tower is where the vapor just starts to cool, but it’s very hot, very very hot. I use leather gloves to remove it when I’m finished at the end of the day. I turned around just as the guy was pulled his burnt hand back from the still. All I could say is, “You might not understand this, but that’s going to be hot.”

Saturday night at the camp meeting Ktreva and I won an award for Best Public Interaction. This completely floored me. As we’ve only done this demonstration for two years, I never figured to win any thing. So when they called my name I wasn’t sure how to react. Since I’m so shy, I didn’t know how to act. When I accepted the award the only thing I could say was, “That’s what happens when you bribe the Booshway with whiskey.” Shortly after the camp meeting the temperature dropped and the rain came in. Ktreva, Wes and I sat under our fly where it was warm and dry. Then Graumagus and Maeldun from Clan Chattan came over wanting the three of us to leave the dry warmth of our camp to walk to the cold soggy wetness of their camp. They went to see if they could get some others to come visit them and I told them to stop back by and tell us what the plan is. They never came back so I wandered over to the swamp their camp to see what was going on. There was Maeldun and Grau huddled under a fly lamenting the fact that Clan Chattan had a poor turn out and no one wanted to sit in a swamp with them.

Being the nice guy that I am, I went back to my camp to rally the troops. Grabbing up as much alcohol, chairs and furs as we could carry; we headed over to Clan Chattan. Others started straggling in from other camps and we had a good time. The only real issues with their camp, besides the fact the fire was half a mile away from the fly, is that the ground was getting swampier as the night went on. They had to have had the lowest ground in the entire camp. Of course the typical passing of the bottle took place. At one point late in the evening I had to wrestle a bottle of vile swill made by an evil man away from Graumagus. I’m not kidding, I physically had to force the bottle away from him. This is the same rotgut that no one else in camp with a right mind will touch. You have to understand that re-enactors are die hard drinkers; this is the only crap I’ve seen that they won’t touch. Grau and I almost came to blows with my forcing the bottle out of his hand after he drank about half of it! I swear the man was trying to kill his liver.

Sunday morning they had an emergency camp meeting. Apparently the incessant rain over night mixed with the weeks worth of rain they received prior to the event had turned the floor of the camp into a marsh. In order to protect the land they canceled the event. They did not want the public coming in and tearing up the ground and then worry about us trying to get out. The conservation district brought in tractors and hay wagons to get everyone out since we couldn’t bring our vehicles into camp. I would like to thank the McHenry County Conservation district for everything; they did a good job helping everyone. Ktreva and I were home and unpacked by 3:00 PM on Sunday. Which was kind of nice because I was able to watch one of the football games on Sunday.

So for those of you counting, that is two events that were canceled this year. Now, both of these events have one thing in common… other than rain. Graumagus only made two events this year. Both of them were canceled on Sunday. I’m thinking Grau is going to take my title as event jinx. However, so far 17 out of 21 events we’ve set up canvas at over the last three years have been rained on.

Posted by Contagion in Re-enacting life. at October 28, 2006 09:48 AM | TrackBack

Grau, The Event Jinx. Heheheh...

Sounds like you've got it made, being the "distiller." You get to sample it all.

Need an apprentice?

Posted by: That 1 Guy at October 28, 2006 10:50 AM

Actually I do, unfortunately you're a tad too old and I wouldn't trust you with the finished product.

I need to find one that is young and swears off the evils of drink.

Posted by: Contagion at October 28, 2006 10:55 AM


Posted by: That 1 Guy at October 28, 2006 10:59 AM

The drinking gods were a' smiling on me that night because I not only drank half a bottle of the evil swill, but about ten shots worth of the stuff people were passing about and half a dozen beers.

And woke up without a hangover.

Granted, I woke up about three hours after everyone else....

Posted by: Graumagus at October 29, 2006 11:10 AM