June 15, 2009

Canoe Trip Denied.

Wednesday night Ktreva and I loaded up the van for the trip. Everything was set and ready to go. Then on Thursday morning I get a message from Red (Wil's Wife) saying that Wil is calling the trip due to the river condition! CRAAAAAaaaaaaaaaap!

Hmmm, vehicle is loaded... no biggie we could unpack the vehicle. My sister is expecting us to drop of the boy at her place (two hours south of us) and keep him until Sunday. It's not fair to her to deny her the weekend with the boy, especially since she had taken time off of work to watch him. That and she only gets to keep him for the weekend maybe twice a year, just because of the travel distance. I was going to have to make the trip to drop off the boy anyway.

Then Wil calls and tells me to go ahead and bring Ktreva down for the weekend. We'll bar hop, maybe do some canoeing on the local lake, drink beer, barbque, drink more beer, make fun of people, drink beer, etc. I spoke with Ktreva, and we decided, what the hell and headed that way.

Now Wil wasn't in town Thursday night, he had to go play long haul trucker. That left it up to me to entertain Ktreva and Red. We went to the local bar, Buddie's. Unfortunately it was open mic night. This means that any American Idol reject wannabe can get up and sing. The last time I was in this bar it was open mic night, and Wil booed a girl off stage and made her cry. That was over a year ago. Guess who was back? I started yelling "you suck", but Red and Ktreva made me stop.

Friday Wil finally shows up, but just for enough time so he can change his clothes and then head out to Ottumwa, Ia. He had to pick up a load of John Deere combines and bring them to Galesburg. He asked if I wanted to go with, I said sure. I figured it couldn't hurt. Plus I had never ridden in a big rig, so I thought what the hell, why not. Yea, it's a good thing I went, I noticed a road construction sign on the way there that limited the width of vehicles to 10 feet, 6 inches. The load we had was 11 feet 2 inches. If I hadn't noticed it Wil would have tried to go through. Of course he'll deny this and say that he would have checked the load width and caught it before the accident could have happened, but I know the truth. Lets just say it would have ended up with combines all over the highway! HA-ha!

Saturday we actually decided to spend some time on the river. We put on the river at Fort Wallace (don't ask me why they call it that, there's not fort there) Just east of 74 and we pulled out at the Wolf Covered Bridge. We did this trip in about 30 minutes, which means that the river was flowing at about 6 to 8 miles and hour. We would have liked to have gone longer, but we already had the vehicles at the Wolf. However, it worked out okay because that gave us time to run to town, get some more beer and prepare for everyone to show up for the night barbeque.

That night Wil cooked a bunch chicken and pork chops for everyone. They were really fantastic. A bunch of guys showed up and we sat around, drank beer and talked. Except for at one point when Ktreva and I disappeared for a little exploration of Gilson. That is all I'm going to say about that tour. So for those of you that left before we came stumbling back at 1:30 in the morning, sorry. It was nice seeing all of you!

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June 10, 2009

Floating the Amaqounsippi

No Beer review tonight. This weekend Im taking Ktreva on a canoe trip, the exploration of the Amaquonsippi. Its a period correct trip (with the exception of the canoes, life jackets, water jugs and toilet paper in a plastic bag). We are doing the last leg of the trip this year. I did the second leg last year, Ktreva didnt go. Since we are getting ready for that, I just dont have the time to do a proper beer review. Ill try to put up an extra one next week to make up for it.

Im pretty damn excited about this trip. It looks like the river is going to cooperate, so we wont have to drag our canoes down the river. I get to spend the weekend with my wife and friends doing what we love, what more could I ask? Ive gone over our gear a couple of times now to make sure that we have no non-period, or non-period looking materials. Where this trip isnt juried, Im still trying to take the high road and make sure my stuff is right or as close as I can get with what limited resources are available to me with the time constraints.

Im sure some of my friends will give me some grief over some of preparations. I keep a journal of the re-enactments that I do in a period looking book. For my own reference I made a slightly detailed hand drawn map inside the book that I based on the USGS topographic survey. Yes, you can scream loser at me now, but if I had the patience Id be a cartographer! This is an exploration and I like to document things. This brought me some hazing last year when I was using my portable GPS to document wear we were stopping, camping, etc. I just wanted to document the trip.

Now I know some people could care less about this type of stuff, but some of these are the same individuals that thrive on reading other peoples journals and seeing their maps. One of the highly debated topics amongst archeologists and historians is exactly where certain camps were specifically located, hence why they have spent years trying to find the Lewis and Clark sites. We love getting information from the journals, its a primary source. Yet I try to document something and I get the Were on the river, thats where we are statement. Its okay, to each their own and if they dont like it, then I dont have to share it with them! (Also they didnt want to see the modern GPS, but well just glaze over that fact).

This year Im trying something different. Im using some knowledge that I obtained since last years trip. I wont be as accurate as a GPS, but Im sure I can get the general area. Of course the worst heathens on this trip (which are some of my closest and dearest friends) will still give me grief over it. Just like theyll get over the fact that I give them grief that this trip is more akin to a drunken float down a river than it is to a canoe trip! (very little paddling) hehe

Ill let you all know how it went when we get back.

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May 04, 2009

Friends, Campfires, and a blue hat.

Since last Wednesday Ktreva and I have been at the Bloody Lake Rendezvous. When we arrived, the camp was already packed. We had friends coming and we all wanted to camp together so I found the only place I could down in the swampy part. Well most of the lower camp is wetlands, but this was the wetter wet lands. Fortunately for us we got a bit of high ground in the swampy area. It rained on us Wednesday night and off and on Thursday. The land around us was really mushy and Friday we watched a van sink up to its hubs while it was unloaded, but where our tents were was nice and dry.

Thursday morning the friends we wanted to camp with started showing up. Wil, Red and Moses showed up during a break in the rain and were actually able to set up and stay dry. Friday Petey, Ark Builder, Dragonfly, Wes and his eldest spawn showed up. Grau was supposed to come, but he came down with swine flu, anthrax or a bad case of back fungus and decided that, instead of re-enacting a plague victim he was going to stay home and try to get better.

I wish I could tell you some great story that I could tell you of events that happened, but this was mostly an uneventful. None of the drama that any of us where anticipating was ever brought up. Oh, the players were all there, but the ones that talk big over the phone, via e-mail or forums didnt say a peep in person. Heck, the only thing I heard about my own little issue was from friends and I making fun of it. To be honest, I was prepared for a confrontation and was a wee bit let down that there wasnt one. Although, it was probably in the best for everyone there wasnt.

There was a lot of good shopping at this event. Various venders I dont see anywhere else but at Bloody or Kalamazoo were there. Ktreva was able to pick up a nice new hand woven wool blanket. I was able to get a sky blue hat that everyone loved. I mean I looked FABULOUS in it. I cant wait until I can get a chance to wear it! Everyone was jealous and wanted one for themselves.

Bonnie Blue Brimmer.jpg
My beautiful blue hat!

Okay, that is the hat, with my blue bonnet on top of it. I look like a deranged purple pieman with that hat on.

We had a great time, and I hope that we can get more of our friends to go next year, some of the people that didnt make it next year. Those of you know who you are.

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April 28, 2009

Muddy Macktown.

Last weekend was a blast. It was my first re-enactment of the season, not counting winter camps. We went out Thursday night. Ktreva and the boys had to come home that night. The boys had school on Friday, and Boopie was going to spend the weekend with his biological father much against his will. Ktreva and Clone didnt come back until Friday after Clone got out of school.

The weather was beautiful on Friday, warm and sunny. My friend Dragonfly and I didnt do demonstrations for kids day. So we just kind of walked around and watched other peoples demonstrations and visited with friends between classes. Since Dragonfly portrays an Indian, he was in full pain. Of course this attracted a lot of attention. He got to spend a lot of time explaining who he was portraying to a lot of kids while secretly checking out the hottie teachers, teacher aids and adult chaperones with the kids.

The weather was a little rainy on Saturday and pretty much down poured on us Saturday. Last year if you remember half the camp bugged out after some rain. This year we didnt seem to have that problem. In fact no one left early due to weather. That didnt stop me from making some comments like, Hey, it might rain, we better start dropping the canvas. For those that are interested if I caught any flack about my review from last year

Not really.

Well there was some, but it was all in good nature. In fact it was funny that at the camp meeting someone made the comment like, we need someone that isnt afraid to voice their opinion and someone in the crowd (not mentioning names Jingle While She Walks) yells out, Wheres Contagion when we need him. Mostly what was said to me was people in agreement or people stating that they may not agree with what I said, but it was my opinion and I had a right to it.

Overall the weather was the only thing that wasnt cooperative. I would have liked to have come home with dry canvas, but I didnt. Not that its that big of a deal. Im heading out tomorrow to set up camp at Bloody Lake, just outside Woodford, WI. That also means that Ktreva and I had to make any repairs and clean what needed to be in just two days.

Yes, I said clean. We have to clean the mud off of all the clothes, shoes, blankets, etc. Yes I know some of my re-enacting friends are gasping and saying, But you are removing the patina from it! Yea, well I do not like caked on mud in my bedding.

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April 16, 2009

To the King over the water.

Weel may we a' be
Ill may we never see;
Here's to the King
And the gude companie.
Here's a health to them that's away,
Here's a health to them that's away,
Here's a health to them that were here shortsyne*,
An, canna be here today.

~Old Jacobite Toast.

*A little while ago

jacobite piper.jpg

For fear ye are forgotten.

Remember that this day, a host of proud and brave Scots took the field against a larger force to fight to preserve their way of life. They were crushed and the actions taken against the wounded, and the civilian occupants by their opponents would be considered of the worst war crimes if it happened today. Its also why no existing regiment claims a victory at Culloden.

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March 26, 2009

Stirring up trouble

In the last couple of days I've been getting flack over my review of The Gathering at Macktown on The Spoon and Blade. Some of it by e-mail, some of it in the Guestbook.

Last year at Macktown the weather has been horrible, as you can see on this post. IF you don't want to read it, lets recap. The weather was rainy when we got there, it turned to storms, the wind picked up, over half the camp bugged out. Over at the Spoon and Blade, I put my review up, including my opinions. Well in the last couple of days, people have found it and started leaving comments in the guestbook, unhappy with me.

Now some of the comments are true. Frenchman's is not Rock River, I was misinformed and can not go back and change it right now. My ISP and hosting company are not getting along and until they work things out, I can't update it at all. The review on there is for Frenchman's 2005, which I did attend.

If you are a re-enactor and want to see the kind of "trouble" I'm in, go over and check it out.

Honestly, I posted my opinion and I stand by it. If they don't agree with it, that's fine. It's no skin off of my back. But I'm not about to change it or apologize for voicing it.

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March 23, 2009


This past weekend Ktreva and I headed to Kalamazoo Michigan for the Kalamazoo Living History Show. We were meeting Wil and Red there Friday night. Ktreva and I made great time and beat them there by a couple of hours, so we ended up checking out some of the local bar scene to find places to possibly go.

The first place we went to was the Old Peninsula Brew Pub It was a bit pretentious of a brew pub. Most of their beers were okay. Out of the four different beers I tried there, I only really thought the stout would be one I'd drink on a regular basis, and their stout was a really mild and bland stout. The one thing they had that I really liked was a cozy for their growlers. I bought one so I could show it to Carlyle's as an idea for them.

After there, we found a Buffalo Wild Wings and went there for 2 dollar 23oz miller lites. They were trying to drain off their green beer from St. Pats. I was more than happy to comply. While we were drinking there, we received the message that Big Trouble and Lil' Irish Wil and Red were about out. Of course that was after 5 glasses of Miller lite.

We hooked up with Wil and Red at the hotel, got them checked in and went over to a Texas Corral across the parking lot from the hotel. We just went in to sit at the bar. I would tell you more, but I really don't remember. Allegedly I spoke with Wil and Red's daughter and promised we'd stop by on the way back. Then allegedly I was loud and belligerent. I really don't recall any of this. I think that was all of them making stuff up.

Saturday morning, after we could get Ktreva out of bed (she will sleep for 12 hours you know), we headed to the show. We ran into a lot of friends there, including Smokepoles and his wife. Ktreva and I hadn't been there in three years, I was wondering if they would be dead. Nope, they were busy as ever! I really wasn't looking for much, other than a canteen. Now I'm sure many people will laugh and ask why I traveled so far for a canteen. I'll tell you why, I've been looking for two year and couldn't find one. Well I have one now.

I ended up buying the canteen, a couple of more buckets, more historically accurate than the one I had. An all natural hand woven belt, a wooden barrel with brass spigot, a belt knife and canned Haggis. Ktreva bought some wooden dice, more accurate glasses and some Poppen Moccasins. I was also measured for a a new great coat.

Now most of what I bought was just something I found and liked, I really wasn't looking for it. Like the wooden barrel, which when I got home found out that the guy selling it lied through his teeth. The damn thing leaks like a sieve! I let it soak for over twenty four hours in water and some of the small leaks sealed like expected, but there is a couple of big leaks that just wouldn't seal. I think I can fix it. I'm really glad I only paid $40.00 for it. Because I'll get the money's worth out of it from the base and brass spigot if I can't fix the leak.

After the trade fair all of went to this Irish pub in Kalamzoo called Gallagher's. To make a long story short. The food was really, really, really good. The beer selection was fantastic... the price on the beer was ungodly! I had a Blacksmith (half Guinness and half Smithwicks), then I had a Kelpie (A Scottish seaweed beer, that was pretty good) and a Black Douglas (A Scottish Ale). The Blacksmith was about $6.00, the Kelpie was $9.50 and the Black Douglas was $10.90. Now I'm not a hundred percent sure about the price on the Blacksmith and the Kelpie, but the Black Douglas I know for a fact. Wil bitched about it for the rest of the weekend to anyone who would listen. The service there was also ungodly slow. I couldn't believe how long it took for them to get us beer, take our orders, bring us the check. It was a horrible experience. The sad thing is that I recommended this place because I had been there before. Not this one, they have a sister bar in Paw Paw, that Ktreva and I had eaten at in years past. Again, the food is excellent and reasonably priced.

Then we hit a brewpub called Bilbo's. It was a Lord of the Ring's themed brewpub. We tried three different beers there: Duff (as in from the Simpson's), Return of the King and Sledgehammer. To be honest all three tasted remarkably similar, and were rather plain. We had the manager serving us beer and neither Wil nor myself were quiet about our opinions. Yea, I do believe she thought we were going to start some trouble.

After there we tried finding another bar, but had no luck. We ended up going back to the room, drinking there for a while and then going back to Texas Corral. Were we drank and and joked and the waitress (with a broken foot) not only remembered us, remembered our drinks and was the best waitress we had the whole weekend.

On Sunday we visited with Wil and Tina's daughter in Indiana. We spent a good couple of hours there before having to head back home. It was good seeing her again. She's getting ready to graduate from Law School and make a new and exciting life for herself on the east coast.

Overall, we had a great time. It's just a shame it couldn't have lasted any longer.

Posted by Contagion at 08:05 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 19, 2009

Heading to Winter Camp

Alright! I'm off to winter camp! We'll be just a little northwest of Trego, WI. There will be beer, booze, food and friends. There will be a lot of guys there that I haven't seen since last October. It'll be good to get back in touch with them.

I just hope that everyone that reads this is has as good of a weekend as I'm about to have!

I just hope that I don't drive up there and back in a snow storm like I did last year, but if I do... it'll be worth it!

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January 05, 2009

Fort Obie Winter Camp.

Friday afternoon Wes and I left for the Quad Cities area to attend winter camp. This is the season opener for me. It was good seeing all the guys again. But just to give you an idea of what winter camp is like let me put it to you like, a lot of alcohol, cold winter night in a cabin, a lot of food that causes gas. Yea it was drunk out.

I'd tell stories, but what happens at winter camp, stays at winter camp.

Ktreva and I were planning on taking the family to Florida in a couple of weeks for the Alafia River Rendezvous. Unfortunately with her surgery and treatment schedule it's looking like it's just not going to happen for us this year. We are thinking of possibly going to the Rocky Mountain Nationals instead or the Midwestern Primitive Rendezvous in July.

We really want to hit a large national event and those are the two that look like we might actually be able to make this year. As much as we had been planning on doing the Alafia for a year and a half, it just doesn't seem like it's going to happen. Don't get me wrong, I'd rather have Ktreva healthy and not do the Alafia, than do that Alafia and have her sick. That doesn't mean I can't lament not being able to attend.

Owell, we have time to decide on which one to do.

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October 14, 2008

The misadventures of Princess Patina

This last weekend the family and I went to Fort Obie in Colona, IL for a re-enactment. I was able to procure a keg of Scottish Ale from Carlyle Brewing Company to bring along. Thats right fellow beer lovers I got my hands on 15.5 gallons of the malty goodness from Carlyle! There was some debate on whether or not we tap the keg Friday or Saturday night. Since I brought it, I wanted to make sure it got drank and we tapped it Friday night. A couple of hours later I had Red come in and tell me that the keg was floating and we were almost out of beer.

I went and checked, sure enough that giant aluminum tank was already three quarters empty! In order to preserve some of it for Saturday I pulled the tap and we switched to other beverages. Needless to say other than my shaving hair off of my arm to prove how sharp my knife was and scorching a table top in the cabin by setting peanut shells on fire, not much happened.

Saturday night is a different story.

At dinner I was cutting potatoes to put into the stew when I must not have been paying as good of attention as I should have been because I cut the tip of my thumb off. Oh, I did it good, there is a nice chunk missing. I had to change bandages four times because I kept bleeding through them. Its fine now, it just looks like the tip of my thumb is missing because it is.

I went and tapped the keg, we started on that until it emptied out and then we switched to other malted beverages. My lovely wife, Ktreva, went to play games with the other women which led to many interesting stories that Im not at liberty to go into. But to give you an idea it ended up involving her hording a bottle of Captain Morgan Private Stock, putting objects down her cleavage to hold them like bottles and spoons, biting people and finally earning herself the new nickname, Princess Patina after she redecorated the outside of the fort with her gastro-squeezins. Oh, and a two day hangover.

Last night I went to Buffalo Wild Wings in Rockford for Monday Night Football with some friends, including Bruce, Shadoglare and J-man. I ended up cheering for the Cleveland Browns, not because I like them, but because I dont like Eli. That and there were some NY Giants fans in the bar and it was fun to give them a hard time. The fact that it turned into the Browns spanking the Giants made it funnier. The Giants fans were less and less amused by my antics, but their reactions where amusing!

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September 29, 2008

Belvidere Pioneer Festival

After a four year hiatus, Ktreva, Clone and I returned to the Belvidere Pioneer Festival. We stopped going due to personal issues that had nothing to do with the events. Finally a friend of ours that is the Booshway, Marshal, asked us at an earlier event this year to come. We had nothing else going on and it's literally 15 minutes from our front door to the camp, so we thought we would attend it this year.

The committee that runs the event put us with Clan Chattan. We didn't mind as we're still friends with them. However I did have to make sure they knew that we were not members of Clan Chattan. Marshall said he put us with them because he knew we were all friends.

Now of course he camped us all in the back of the camp with the Indians. I kept inquiring what we had done not only to be shoved back in with Clan Chattan, but then to be camped next to the Indians. I figured it was punishment for not going to their event in four years. The friends of ours that portrayed Indians kept telling us it was a reward for being such great people. I think they just wanted us to entertain them.

Unfortunately the musical talent for our group didn't show up which meant that we had to entertain ourselves and more scarily that meant that *I* had to do some singing. That's right folks, I sang. We could tell that it was a huge hit because NOBODY ELSE entered our camp.

It was a good time and we had fun. The event is what it is, A festival. There were arts and crafts, and farmer's market stuff. They had volunteers walking around dressed in everything from Little House on the Prairie (The High School musical) costumes to 18th century fur trade and everything in between. Including the Austrian mounted army from the Napoleonic wars.

Since this was an unplanned event, I'm not updating the Spoon and Blade with a review, this was a last minute decision.

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August 18, 2008

Galesburg fun.

This last weekend was just about perfect. I was able to completely kick back, relax and let the stress of everything going on just wash off me.

We got out there Thursday night and set us up for three days of fun. Most of my re-enacting friends were there and it was great seeing them again. Hell, even Graumagus crawled out of the woodwork to make the event, that means he made it to two this year, thus tying his record for the last 4 years.

Some friends of ours had a wedding out at the event. They had a bachelorette party for the bride. Thankfully Wes brought his eldest daughter along. I ended up paying her to babysit Clone until he went to bed. That way I could do some damage to the three cases of beer I brought. Which ended up in some pole dancing for the ladies. Not by me... but by a lot of the other guys out there. Yea... the other guys.

Saturday was the wedding. That night a lot of people from the camp sat around and listened to various people play music or sing songs. We had everything from Blue Grass and Celtic to some modern music. Folks, there is nothing like sitting around on a cool August evening with most of your closest and dearest friends and listening to great music. I can't think of anything else that could have made that evening better.

Sunday was kind of a downer. I hated having to separate from my friends, nah not my friends... from my family. These people are more like brothers and sisters to me than just friends. Even if they do some things that are a little fishy.

Pictures and more stories will be coming when I get more time.

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July 11, 2008

Off to Theatiki

Ktreva and I are off for a kid free weekend of re-enacting and fun. We are heading to the Gathering on the Theatiki in Bourbonnais, IL. This may be my last re-enactment for a long time, so I'm going to make sure that I do it right. With this whole Oklahoma thing I'm not sure I'm going to be able to do any re-enactments. And I don't think they do any for the time period I portray down there.

Contrary to what Wil keeps saying, I'm not really wanting to portray wild west or 19th century mountain man/buffalo hunter. Since I don't know all that is going to happen yet, I really want to make sure I get the most out of this weekend as I can.

Now of course they are calling for Storms tomorrow.... figures.

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June 16, 2008

Canoe Trip

I spent a weekend with Petey and Wil and my butt is sore! Well, I guess I should explain that. I went on a canoe trip last weekend. Petey and Wil were on the same trek. Actually Wil put the trip together. Well most of that trip is sitting on your butt. In fact the canoe I sat in had a seat that was about 4 inches wide. That was just a little too narrow for my behind to be comfortable on.

Overall it was a good trip, I had a lot of fun. Then again looking at the company I kept there is almost no way I was not going to have fun. The weather was beautiful, and the scenery was picturesque. Heck, I took over 120 pictures and 80 some of them turned out pretty darn good. Now I'm not going to post all of the pictures, but I do have some up over at the Spoon and Blade, along with a really crappy map of our route.

Now I know that some of the guys I went on the trip with read this blog, and I don't want them to take this the wrong way, but this canoe trek was more of a canoe float. I think my paddle spent more time out of the water than in it. In fact I know I made the comment at least once I thought it was getting dry rot. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with sitting back and relaxing on the river. You can put me in a tube and give me a cooler full of beer and I'm a happy man, but sitting for hours in a canoe is just kind of boring. First off your legs and butt get sore. It's not like you can stand up, stretch and move about. So you are constantly shifting trying not to be too uncomfortable. You're also trying not to flip the canoe. Also just sitting there watching the banks go by gets a little tiresome. I know it's been years since I've done a canoe trip, but I was looking forward to the paddling.

That being sad, I really did have a wonderful time. I'm really looking forward to going next year and doing the last leg of the river. I know that next year I need to bring more whiskey with. The two bottles of Dragon's milk and the bottle of corn squeezin's I brought with were gone on the first night. Hey, don't look at me, I had a lot of help drinking it. I've also got to figure out a way to store beer in a barrel with out it leaking out or going bad. There has to be a way and I'm going to figure it out!

Posted by Contagion at 07:35 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 01, 2008

A New Mortar Maiden.

I have a new Mortar Maiden up, Liosag MacNamara. The sad things is that the young lady that posed with the mortar did it three years ago. After I've used a series of photos from one girl, I move them to my "used" folder. Somehow I accidentally moved hers into that section. While cleaning out the files today, I found them. So, better late then never.

Posted by Contagion at 05:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

I know, it's about time!

I finally got around today, a month later, to updating the Spoon and Blade with pictures and reviews for the last two re-enactments I did, The Gathering at Macktown and Bloody Lake. If you want to see some photos and just read the stories, head on over.

Posted by Contagion at 04:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 20, 2008

Unpopular decisions.

Wes of Bodhran Roll, Please! has a post of were hes been and whats been going on in his life. It ends with some comments about changes hes made regarding re-enacting. These include, unfortunately due to some research of my own, to him deciding not to bring his Bodrhan to the events anymore and to shave his facial hair. Of course good friend and blogspawn Petey is not pleased with this decision to stop bringing the bodrhan. (As well as our friend Wil, but he hasnt commented yet).

I know that when I shaved my facial hair and decided to get rid of some of the items in my camp that are not period correct, I took some, okay a LOT of ridicule. The thing is that I think some people are missing the point. Now, I can only really speak for me, but after conversations with Wes, I think hell agree with me on this. I didnt make these changes because someone else forced me to or because I didnt want. I made these decisions because they are what I wanted.

When I was younger I was brought up that if you are going to do something, do it right and take pride in your work. History has been a passion of mine for years. When I was younger I loved going to museums and ready about history. I loved going on vacations and taking tours of various historical locations. When we went on these tours I was always the kid fighting his way to the front so I wouldnt miss anything the tour guide said.

In 1997 when I had an opportunity to start doing some re-enacting, I jumped on it. I joined Clan Chattan and we did more of the Scottish Highland Game/Ren Faire style re-enacting. We had two events that were early American events, and those quickly became my favorites. In fact after a couple of years I started hating the Ren Faire and Highland Games gigs. There wasnt much history to them and the people that attended really didnt want to know about history, unless I was talking about the history of the sword. Occasionally I would find someone that wanted to talk Scottish history with me, but mainly they just wanted to see the sharp shiny objects. After leaving Clan Chattan, I havent worked a Ren Faire or Highland game.

Now Im on my own doing what I want to do. Over the years Ive been slowly weeding out what is wrong in my camp and gear. I was reading more books and brushing up on more history. Becoming more and more knowledgeable about the history of the period and location Im portraying. I know what is wrong in my camp and what needs to be improved.

At the end of last season something finally snapped into place for me. I shook off the last of my Ren Faire mentality of if they had it, they would have used it and If it looks period correct, thats all that matters. Now, Im striving to get as historically accurate of a camp that I can get and still have my family with. (There is absolutely NO chance of my having a White wife and kid with me in 1756 in Northern Illinois/Southern Wisconsin) So I make exceptions, because this is first and foremost a FAMILY hobby for us, and its damn well going to stay that way. Yet I am going to make the changes I need to make for me, and my costuming and my equipment. Not the familys stuff, but mine. Ktreva is behind me on this.

Things really didnt hit the fan until last month when I made the decision to shave my facial hair off, replace me capote and update the camp chairs. All of a sudden everyone was going nuts about my decision. Heres the thing. Im not doing this because someone told me to. Its not because I feel I have to. It isnt even something I didnt want to do. This was a decision I made in order to get it right. I did it because I knew these things are wrong for my persona and my camp.

I did this because I want to do my best to do it right. I am taking pride in what Im doing. This is something that I know is right and I want to do it. It doesnt bother me that people are making fun of my cleanly shaven face. When they laugh and tease me about my decisions, it rolls off of me. The fact is simple, it was a decision I made, it is something Im standing by and none of them can tell me that Im wrong.

Im not mad, irritated or even annoyed at any of them. Because Im doing what is right for me, and they are doing what is right for them. And that is what is most important.

That is what they dont understand.

Now of course if Wes wants to bring his Bodhran and play, I'd be all for that. The nights are going to get quiet.

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May 02, 2008

When it rains...

Okay, last weekend we got rained on pretty hard. This weekend, well it looks like the skies are going to open up and drain on us! In fact they are calling for some very severe storms today. Fortunately for me Im not out there yet, unfortunately for friends like Will and Petey they are already there. Im going to be keeping my eye on the weather and hope that everything goes well for them. Unfortunately I couldnt get the time off of work to head out last night, or Id be out there with them. Damn real-life responsibilities!

So lets start the running cap this year on events that I get rain. Not counting the two winter camps and counting this weekend, that makes three events. Fort Des Chartres I dont recall any rain in the time we had canvas set up, so Im calling that a dry camp. Gathering at Macktown, Thursday and Friday we had rain. This weekend is Bloody Lake, they are calling for rain. (This is as we watch the angry red finger of god on radar sweeping across Illinois poised to wipe canvas off the face of the earth). That makes me 1-2. Yea, thats about par for the course. Its not yet a valid sample size as usually its 1 out of every four events I do is dry.

The funny thing is that I was talking to my mother on Monday about last weekend and she reminded me that my grandfather always said that whenever my father and I went camping, he knew the weather was going to bad. When I got hold enough to go camping without my father, Grandpa determined that the chance of bad weather on a weekend doubled. Grandpa was an avid camper too, although he did modern camping, or what I like to call portable civilization. You know, in trailers. One of these days Im going to have to tell some of those stories.

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April 28, 2008

Gathering at Macktown retrospective

We had a wonderful weekend. After receiving word that my mother was out of emergency surgery for her second heart attack, we headed to camp. Hey, mom told us to go! We were able to get set up in a soft drizzle with out any problems or issues. The new tent was a nice and easy set up for us. I'm really glad we decided to get it.

I did take some a lot of ribbing over the facial hair, not all the comments were as hateful on the ones left on my previous post. Some of you have a mean streak! Actually none of the comments bothered me, I figured that was going to happen. I just rolled with them.

The weather started off kind of crappy. Thursday when we set up it was drizzling a little with the occasional rain. Friday we had on and off rain through out the day. Sometime around 3:00 pm the weather started to get nasty. We had a severe thunderstorm blow through just south of us and the wind really started to pick up. At one point the rain was coming at us vertically. With winds gusting up to 30 mph we had some serious issues. Ktreva, the boys and I were standing under our friend Smokepoles 16 foot fly and the rain was coming so hard that my glasses were covered in rain as I stood at the other end.

Some of the campers that showed up late had to set up in the pouring rain. The wind never really died down all night. It blew hard and heavy all night long, which of course meant a lot of people didn't get much sleep. I have a hard time sleeping in high winds situation because I'm listening for ripping canvas and snapping poles. I know of at least 4 people that lost canvas that night.

Saturday morning a lot of campers just packed up in left, including some of the people that set up in the rain. We lost about 50% Saturday morning before the event even started. There was one well known individual trader going around telling people that the wind was going to get worse and we were going to get snow that night. A lot of people just took him at his word and started packing up. The booshway, event committee and staff kept telling people they were not canceling the event and encouraged people to stay.

Now I have a lot of re-enactors, living historians, etc that read this blog, so I'm not going to mention any individuals specifically, but I will say this. The bug out was really caused by one group of re-enactors that have absolutely nothing to do with the running of this event. I was surprised by the groups that did pull out.

Saturday after the event closed, even more people packed up and left. When we had the camp meeting I had been into my cups so when the topic of how to handle the situation in the future came up, I just started talking. I told them that I felt that anyone that left early with out a legitimate reason should not be invited back next year. I know a couple left because their ridge poles snapped and they couldn't fix it or their canvas was destroyed. Let them come back because they had a legitimate excuse for leaving. Most of the people still there agreed with me. Someone brought up that they needed those camps to demonstrate. I pointed out they weren't there anyways.

Since none of my friends in camp tackled me in the middle of the meeting I just kept shooting off my opinion. I did learn a valuable lesson this weekend. Never go to camp meetings half drunk. Definitely don't drink during the meeting. They are not asking me to be on the committee for this event. Yea, I told them no and that I didn't think it would be a good idea for me to join. I'd just be one more problem they had. Could you imagine my loud, opinionated self in a committee for something that I don't get paid to do? Yea, there's not enough sensitivity classes in the world to keep me from spouting off at every bad idea. I'm not a committee kind of guy.

The kicker to this whole thing is that the weather on Saturday was windy up until about 7:00 PM. Then it was just nice. We had no more high winds, no more rain. Sunday it was sunny and beautiful. All these people that packed up and left early, wasted their time. They missed a beautiful weekend.

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April 20, 2008

I leave in 4 days.

In four days is the Gathering at Macktown. I've been keeping an eye on the weather. According to the weather channel we are supposed to get rain next Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Let the annual soak fest begin!

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April 14, 2008

I've got it bad.

Last year I was in a funk and really was not in a mood to do any re-enacting what-so-ever. What a difference a year makes. I've got two weeks before my next event and I'm already chomping at the bit. To make matters even worse this is after two winter camps and Fort De Chartres, so I already have some under my belt for this year. It's not like I've been sitting dormant since October like I did in seasons past.

Poor Ktreva is having to deal with my rants and rampages of cleaning up the camp. We got our new Wedge tent last week and are selling our wall tent. I'm looking at getting rid of our camp chairs because they aren't period correct, in fact they aren't period correct until you get to modern times. Sure they are made of wood, but they really were a product of modern re-enacting. I'm having a new coat made for me so I can get rid of my Capote, you know the one that they questioned when I juried into Fort De Chartres.

I think the biggest change is going to be that I'm shaving my facial hair off. After a discussion at Fort De Chartres with my pals Petey and Wil, I came home and did some research. Damned if it isn't heavily documented that Western Europeans as a standard didn't have facial hair. Sure, some of my research shows they may have gone up to a week with out shaving, but they would have shaved on the Sabbath and/or upon returning to a settlement.

Thus, I'm going to be shaving off my facial hair. That's right, my upper lip and chin are once again going to be exposed to sunlight after at least a good 12 years of being covered. Ktreva is a little mixed on this. She really likes the idea of no more scruffy face. To be honest, part of me doesn't want to shave it off. I think I look even dorkier with out facial hair. Plus I think it makes me look like I'm about 12. Yet a larger part of me really doesn't want to be incorrect for my persona. Thus I'm set that I'm shaving it off. However, I'm going to wait until the last minute to do so. It's getting bushy again and I'm going to donate the trimmings to locks of love.

I'm kidding, but I wonder....

Anyways, so I'm a bustle around the house all worked up and ready to head out to Macktown. I've gotten so bad that Ktreva actually laughed at me.

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April 10, 2008

Jacobite Music.

I was doing some research on part of my persona when I stumbled across The Contemplator's Short History of the Jacobite Uprisings. Which, really is a very, very short (even for Cliff Notes) history of the Jacobites. But that's not why I'm posting about it. That is because at the bottom of the page there is a very nice list of Jacobite Songs/Music. I've spent some time listening to the ones I hadn't heard before.

They also give you a little bit of history about each song as to when it was written and what the song is about. I thought that was pretty neat. So for you Living History Musicians out there... (Cough) Wes, (Cough) Petey (Cough) Me when I'm really, really drunk (Cough), you might want to take a look at these.

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April 07, 2008

Fort De Chartres stories.

Over at the Spoon and Blade I have the review up of the Les Pays Des Illinois Colonial Trade Faire & Rifle and Musket Frolic. (Gasps for breath after saying that mouthful.) Most re-enactors I know just refer to the event as Fort De Chartres. (Which seems to be mostly pronounced like: Fort Duh Shard). That fills in a lot of the plain day to day stuff, but now I'm going to share with you the stories of things that happened that I didn't put into the review.

First off I left here Thursday and drove to my friend Will's house. If you read the comments on this post, he was one of the ones arguing with me as to whom gets who drunk. Well lets just say, we have an answer to that question. I show up and am not there for more than 5 minutes when he throws a beer at me. Later that night we go out to a local bar in Galesburg called Buddes. They were having an open mic night and Will's son was going to be playing. They had Dirty Bastard on tap. So there we sat, Will, his wife Red, our friend Taco and myself listening to these local kids get up and play songs. Well we'd been drinking since about oh, 1 when he pawned the first beer off on me. We watched and drank and waited for Long Spawn o' Willie to take the stage. This girl gets ups there and starts singing. She's really not that good. The first song was by Patsy Cline and her second by Pink Floyd. About half way through her second song Will starts booing here and telling her she sucks. He goes outside to talk to his son. The girl comes off the stage at the end of the song and goes outside to have a cigarette. The next thing I know she comes running back in crying.

I run outside to make sure Will is okay. I get out there and as soon as I see him I ask, "Did you make that girl cry?" He acknowledged he did, I couldn't help but laugh. Yes, it was mean, yes it was cruel... but dammit, it was funny cause she sucked.

Friday we got down to Fort De Chartres and that night we go to the period Tavern. Everything is done in the style of the 1750's. One of my Mortar Maidens, Davina Baillie whom has long since been captured by the natives and has changed her entire look, is one of the serving wenches. All I know is that when ever I turned around there she was with a pitcher of ale and filling my flagon. Now, I'm not complaining, but I did have to listen to a lot of complaining from my companions. She'd fill mine and then leave them empty. Or she would put the last of the ale in my flagon and then have to go get more. When she came back she'd refill mine before anyone else's. Now she is married to my friend whom I've referred to as Wind in his Hair, his actual native name is Wahoopitae (Wa-hoop-e-tay) I'm not really sure on the spelling, dang natives. Since I knew him and her I felt comfortable in telling everyone that I thought she was trying to get me drunk so she could take advantage of me.

It was at the end of this night that on my long drunken walk back to camp I jumped off of one of the low unfinished walls between the tavern and my camp that I hurt my foot. That just means that every time I go to an event I have to watch for Will, Petey and Davina trying to get me drunk.

Now you would think that I would have learned my lesson the night before, but I didn't. I want back Saturday night. I knew I was safe because Davina wasn't working... or so I thought. I forgot Will and Petey were in there still. Early in the night the tavern was crowded. Standing room only, all the tables and benches were full and the people were standing elbow to elbow in there. At one point a couple of guys get up from a bench to leave. Will, another guy I know called Wolfie and some shorter older guy all sat down on it. A couple of minutes later the older guy gets up. Will tells me to sit down. I really can't because the guy is standing right in front of where the bench is.

Will starts pushing the guy in the back. He turns and looks at Will. Will makes an innocent face and kind of chuckles. Then he starts to do it again, this time when the guy turns around Will points at me and I say, "it wasn't me." The guy then says, "That's okay, we like the French." I roared back "I'm a farooking Scot you Manky Anglish Get*!" I said it in a thick brogue and according to those that witnessed it, there was anger in my voice. So the guy, looking scared, apologizes and backs away. Will and Wolfie are laughing their asses off. I sit down and I'm having a little chuckle, but Will and Wolfie just keep laughing. I didn't think it was that funny.

Will finally says to me, "Do you know who that is?" No, of course I didn't, he was just some short older guy. Will then says, "That's Mark Baker." For those of you not in the re-enacting circle, he is considered some big re-enacting celebrity because he has written articles for magazines and has books out that everyone refers to. Hell, I have some of his stuff. I just never was star struck enough to an author to really care. Well apparently the big joke is that at these events most of the people come up and, to use the phrase they did, "humps his leg" all weekend and tells him how great he is. I meet him and I tell him off. Well anyway, this story spread fast and all I heard for the rest of the weekend is how I told off Mark Baker.

I wasn't even mad, I was just playing around. O'well, at least it's a good story to tell around the campfire. I'm sure many a person will laugh at this.

I had a great time there. I couldn't believe how much fun it was. I also can't believe how quickly it passed by.

*Manky Anglish Get: I've had enough people ask about this I'm just putting up the explication. Manky is Scottish word meaning unclean person or unclean act. Anglish is the nationality (English, just said in a Scottish Brogue) Get: Now more commonly spelled git, started as an illegitimate child/brat. It turned into a contemptible person or a stupid and unpleasant person. So basically when I'm calling him a Manky Anglish Git. I'm saying he's a filthy English bastard/idiot.

Posted by Contagion at 04:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

I've returned from 1756

Okay, for those of you in the know. I just got back from the hospital and everything is better than expected. Nothing is broken as I had thought. Well, they didn't see anything but they are going to send off the x-rays to a specialist just to verify.

For those of you not in the know. Friday night on my jaunt back from the 1756 tavern I climbed over a short wall to get back to camp. When I jumped down I landed funny and I walked around all weekend thinking I broke my foot. It was swollen and bruised. The pain was okay... if I wasn't standing or walking on it.

Even the doctor when he looked at it was sure it was broken. He also lectured me on waiting until Monday to have it looked at.

His order to me was to take some pain killers and stay off of it as much as possible.

As for the rest of the weekend, I'll post that later.

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April 02, 2008

Getting ready to head out.

I'm taking a little break from cleaning out the truck. Tomorrow I'm starting the first part of my trip to Fort De Chartres. I'm heading down to my friend Will's place. On Friday morning we are going to meet up with some of the other ONW guys and head down to Fort De Chartres. This is a really light pack for me as Ktreva and the Boys aren't going.

I'm pretty excited. Having never done this event before I'm not exactly sure what to expect, but looking at the group of guys I'm going with, at least I know I'm going to have fun... and very possibly a hang over. Especially since one of them is Petey.

I need to go finish getting some stuff ready, if I don't post again before I leave, I'll make sure to give you all kinds of details upon my return.

Posted by Contagion at 04:13 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 16, 2008

Guys and Leather.

No, not that kid of guys and leather. Seriously, is that all you think of?

Yesterday I spent most of the day working leather. I had to make myself a new pair of moccasins, this time I had a much better idea of what I was doing and this pair actually turned out looking decent. They aren't the prettiest damn things I've ever seen, but compared to my first pair, they are down right works of art.

While I was working on these Wes came over to try his hand at working leather. He needed to repair a saddle seat he has. I'm not sure what was more amusing to Ktreva, listening to Wes swear when he'd make a mistake or me when I would accidentally poke myself with a needle. Shadoglare came over to drink some beer and to converse. He had contacted me earlier in the day wanting to know if I wanted to go out, I told him that I really needed to get the leather work done. He also contacted Graumagus to see if he wanted to go out. He had to work.

Later in the evening Grau called and said he was heading to Carlyle's after work with some friends. He got off of work at 11:00. Since I started sewing at 1:00, when I finally got my mocs 2/3 of the way done, I decided to stop and go hang out there. Wes had to head home, four kids and all. Shadoglare and I went and hung out with Grau until 2:00 AM just getting caught up.

He's still alive right now. He's not sure when he's coming back. Mostly because he has some court time ahead of him and he's not sure how thats going to go. But that's all the detail you're going to get from me at this time.

Well if you'll excuse me, it's time for me to go make some leggings. Or as Ktreva wants to call them, 1750's arseless chaps.

Posted by Contagion at 03:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 28, 2008

Where am I going to be?

Since I was home for the day, I figured I might as well finally update The Spoon and Blade. I put up the schedule of events of where I'm going to be this year. Now this schedule is subject to change. Events may be added and others removed.

Actually there are some events I'm thinking of doing that aren't on the schedule. Some of them are going to be last minute decisions or I just don't have any information on them at this time.

So if any of you want to see me in action, here is the list of where I will be.

Posted by Contagion at 11:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 25, 2008

Fort De Chartres

I decided to try a new event this year called the Colonial Trade Faire & musket and Rifle Frolic at the Fort De Chartres historic site in Prairie Du Rocher, IL. (South of Saint Louis not far from the Mississippi). This is a juried event (Meaning you have to pass close scrutiny in order to get in) and from what I've heard they are strict. Actually I know there are strict, here's the rules. I had to send pictures of myself and my equipment so that they could view them and pass judgment upon me.

Today in the mail I received my acceptance letter. The only thing they had a problem with was my capote (a coat made out of wool blankets, French for Cape.) To quote the letter, "Everything looks great except for the capote. I can't see it too well in the picture, but it looks more like a Rocky Mt. Style Mt Man coat VS a more tailored 18th century style capote. If I'm wrong, please let me know as I couldn't see too clearly from the photo."

This is the photo I sent, it was the best I had:


Yea, it sucked. The capote was bought as an Eastern Style capote. I added the black leather cape to it for extra warmth. You'd be surprised how much that cape helps. I made it so it buttoned on, I can easily take it off. I responded via e-mail stating that. If I can't bring it, it stays home, if they say it's okay than I bring it with. It's not that big of a deal. I can always just use a wool blanket and one of the man kilt broaches I have.

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February 18, 2008

From the Journal of Seamus MacPhail

What a fun and interesting weekend. Ive never participated in the ONW Co Winter Camp before, mainly because I was never a member prior to this past October. Having never participated before, I wasnt exactly sure what to expect, this post is written from my journal and memories of my journey this weekend.

7:00 AM 02/14/08: Left Rockford, IL with companion Randy. We have about a 5 and a half hour drive ahead of us. I am excited and looking forward to seeing my friends and meeting more of the Company men.

9:04 AM 02/14/08: Paynette Exit on I-90, WI. We have run into a snowstorm. The snow is heavy and has caused some sever driving conditions. Due to stopping for provisions, we are running a half hour behind schedule. Fortunately we are in no great hurry.

9:22 AM 02/14/08: Approaching Wisconsin Dells. The snow if falling faster. We have slowed our travel down to less than 50 MPH. I contacted Ktreva to have her check the size of the storm for me. She advised that we are going to be in the snowstorm for at least the next 100 miles of our journey.

11:30 AM (Approx) 02/14/08: Black River Falls, WI. We have finally driven through the snowstorm. We have counted numerous vehicles in the ditches or spun out. Every vehicle we passed has either been empty (Marked so by police) or already had emergency responders. Since help was already on the scene we did not feel the need to stop and possibly put ourselves into more peril.

2:10 PM (Approx) 02/14/08: Arrive at camp just northwest of Trego, WI. We made a 45-minute stop for lunch, gas and supplies. At this time there are only four other individuals at camp, neither my companion nor myself recognize any of them. We are staying in a cabin. There is a large fireplace and an electric furnace. Its cold inside, but not as cold as outside. Things should warm up as time passes and more people arrive.

9:15 PM 02/14/08: Camp. Many more individuals have shown up, some of my friends from Illinois and other Company men. People have begun laying out trade items on the table. Much Alcohol is being consumed. The cabin is warming up some; the temps are probably in the 50s, which is comfortable with my clothing. Rumor has it that the temps are to drop down to 15 overnight and the High on Friday should be around 7 degrees.

10:00 AM 02/15/08: Camp. More people are arriving, including some that showed up in the middle of the night. New trade items are being set out. One of the guys that lives locally advised that the temps fell to 21 in Trego. They also speculated because we are in a hollow next to the lake that the temps at the cabin could have gotten as cold as 30. I slept comfortably with my wool blankets. I discovered that when using a porta-john in these temps that the urine can freeze to the side of the urinal before it has a chance to go into the tank. Also that no matter how many guys use it, the blue ice in the tank will not defrost. Also, after using the porta-john do not close the lid. The steam rising off of the excrement and urine can and will form ice on the seat and lid. They will sometimes freeze together. Also Im not sure what temperature it is, but at a certain point a plastic toilet seat only gets so cold. It doesnt matter how much colder the temps get, sitting on the seat after that point will still being just as uncomfortable as if it was another 20 degree colder.

9:00 PM 02/15/08: Camp. There are 48 bunks in this cabin and most of them are full. There is a second cabin that some of the members are sleeping in. They do not allow smoking in that cabin; originally I heard it referred to as the non-smoking cabin. I chose to stay in the main cabin because more people I knew were going to be there. Later on I learned that they actually refer to the second cabin as the geriatric cabin as most of the members that sleep there tend to be over the retirement age.

10:00 AM 02/16/08: Camp. I slept like crap last night. It was too warm in the cabin. Between the fire burning for 2 days, the electric heater and the amount of men in the area, I believe that the temps were in the mid to upper 60s. It was so warm I had to kick off the wool blankets. In turn I would get chilled and have to recover. This cycle occurred all night long. Also the gentleman(?) in the bunk next to me had some of the most horrendous gas all night long. Im not sure what was worse, being woken up by the sound or the smell. More men have arrived and there are a lot of really nice items out on the trade tables.

Winter Camp Trade.jpg
Trade Table

4:10 PM 02/16/08: Camp. Company Meeting. My traveling companion and myself read the company charter at the opening of the meeting. Even though it wasnt said, Im pretty sure it was implied that we did it because only the French (My companion) and the Scots (myself) know how to read. I was able to see my friend and blogspawn Petey coronated as Bourgeois (BOOSH-way) of the ONW Co. Being a new member I sat back and observed the various members and how the interacted. There are some strong political undercurrents in this organization and some comments made during the meeting solidified observations Ive made in the past. If this isnt brought under control there could be potential serious ramifications to the company sometime down the road.

5:30PM (Approx) 02/16/08: Camp. Company Dinner. One of my friends, whom I shall call Wind in his hair or WIHH henceforth, was in charge of setting up the tables, place settings and serving food. He asked me earlier if I wouldnt mind helping him out. It was a whirlwind of activity as the tables and settings were put into place. After dinner I was put back into service helping clean up and put stuff away. This included my cleaning of a large pot that they heated baked beans. Cleaning the pot using a scrub brush and bare hands in ice-cold water is not pleasant.

Winter Camp Dinner.jpg

7:00PM (Approx) 02/16/08: Camp. The company drew the numbers for the fundraising raffle. I purchased four tickets. I ended up winning a new copper mucket (Mug and bucket combined). Im really excited about this as I was going to purchase one of these anyway. It just saved me some money! After the raffle people were saying that bad weather was moving in and that it was going to start to snow again south of us starting at midnight. Some people that lived in Illinois left right way, others stayed.

3:00AM (Approx) 02/17/08: Camp. A lot of people were leaving to get a jumpstart on the long drive home. They did a good job of trying to be as quiet as possible for the rest of us that were still sleeping. If only they would have stopped slamming the screen door on the cabin. The nice thing about them leaving at that time is that the cabin was too warm for me to sleep again. With the door being left open it cooled down enough so that I could sleep under my wool blankets comfortably.

8:02 AM 02/17/08: Left camp, headed to local restaurant for breakfast and to use the bathroom. I didnt want to use a frozen toilet seat again today.

8:40 AM 02/17/08: Trego, WI. My companion and I left the restaurant hoping that the snow wouldnt be as bad.

9:23 AM 02/17/08: Chippewa Falls, WI. The snow has started. Upon calling Ktreva she advises that the storm will probably follow us the rest of the way home. The roads are getting slick and we see people sliding on a regular basis.

1:56 PM 02/17/08: Madison, WI. We stopped for lunch. We needed to get off of the road for a while. The weather has gone from bad to worse back to bad. We did take a 15-minute stop in Black River Falls for gas and drinks. Originally we thought we would be home by this time.

2:58 PM 02/17/08: I-90 at Stoughton Exit. The snow has turned to rain. Weve never been so happy to see rain and just ice on the roads before. A small celebration was had in the vehicle. The vehicles in the ditches were much worse today than on Thursday. Today was say one truck flipped on its side up by Tomah, WI and south of Madison there was a tanker truck that hand plowed into the median with two cars in the right hand ditch. We dont know what happened, but since we beat most of the emergency responders to the site, we know we just missed it.

4:05PM 02/17/08: Rockford, IL. Arrived home. The 5 and a half hour trip ended up taking seven and a half hours. Right as we pulled into the driveway, the snow started again. We must have caught up to and been just in front of the leading edge of the storm for the last hour.

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February 17, 2008

Frozen Butts

Okay I've returned. I need to unpack, shower and just unwind. I'll do a full post with pictures of the event tomorrow. I will give you these highlights though.

*Spent most of the drive up and back in a snowstorm
*Rumor is that the temps at the cabin reached -22 confirmed, -30 estimated.
*Port-A-Johns can and will freeze over.
*Urine can flash freeze.
*Don't volunteer to help a friend out with kitchen duty if you don't want to do dishes... in ice cold water... by hand.

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February 14, 2008

I'm going to go camping...

...in upper Wisconsin! Yep, camping in the winter. This is the second time this year. When I was younger I used to go winter camping as a Boy Scout all the time. Now KTreva doesn't like the idea, so we never did. Since I've joined the ONW Co. I've been able to do it again.

Needless to say I'm excited! See you all on Sunday.

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February 11, 2008


This upcoming weekend is the Old Northwest Company (ONW CO.) winter camp. This will be my first year attending as I was just voted in this past August. Ktreva is making fun of me because I'm running around gathering stuff and debating on what I should and should not take with me.

I'm like a kid on Christmas Eve.

I have a beer review I'm going to do on Wednesday that is very special. I'm not giving away anything about it, but lets just say it's probably the most historical beer I've ever reviewed.

I really have nothing else of value to talk about, I spent the afternoon chatting up Tammi down at Frtitz's. We talked about stuff and she told me that she thought it was a bad idea that I was leaving for my trip at 7:00AM on February 14th. I'm not sure why, and she really wasn't forth coming with details. I have the distinct feeling I'm forgetting something.

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January 07, 2008

Winter Camp

I got back from Fort Obie Winter Camp yesterday. It was a lot of fun. It was good seeing the guys again and choking down a beer or twelve. I was seriously over prepared for this event. Based on my experience with these guys and some of the stories they've told I was expecting an over-period correct event with no modern stuff. Come to find out, this is a relaxed event meant just as an excuse for the guys to get together during the off season.

I brought a ton of food with as I wasn't sure what the eating arrangements were, only to get there and find out that I really didn't need to. However, my contribution to the snack table of pepper cheese, pickled mushrooms and herring fillets in mustard sauce was much appreciated. And even though Will made fun of me for bringing a cutting board, they all sure seemed to use it, especially when slicing cheese.

Speaking of Cutting the Cheese. You stick that many mean in the same place all drinking beer, eating bean soup, pickled stuff, cheese and sausages at night you get a symphony of body noises. Holy crap! I would wake up in the night to hear everyone snoring, blowing arse or burping. Add to that the couple that talked in their sleep, it got a little unnerving. To hear someone mutter in their sleep, "Don't worry, it'll be over soon. It's not going to hurt" really creeped me out! I was rather happy I was sleeping with a knife.

Saturday night, reader and commenter Petey decided that his mission in life was to make my eyes water with his gaseous emanations. There are a couple of benches at the fort that aren't going to need to be sealed because he gave them a good shellacking with his arse juices. If that wasn't bad enough, most of the time I was sitting right next to him. There was a couple of times someone broke wind that I really wished I had no sense of smell.

It was a great time and we all had fun. The weather was warmer than I would have liked. I kid you not it hit the sixties on Sunday and was in the mid forties on Saturday. That warm weather melted all the snow turning the ground to mud. It really sucked. Plus I sleep better when it's colder.

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January 04, 2008

Starting the season early.

Its January fourth, the temps outside are in the 20s and Im doing something Ive never done before this weekend. Im re-enacting in January. Thats right; Im starting my season four months early. After getting voted into the ONW Company I decided that Im going to actually participate in their winter camps. Ive been invited in the past, but never felt right in attending because I wasnt a member.

Right now Im getting ready to head out. Im pretty excited as I have a very bad case of the Rendeflu (The illness re-enactors get when they are long away from a re-enactment or Rendezvous). Which is pretty funny since its been only two months since the Ball and two and a half months from my last re-enactment. Normally the Rendeflu doesnt hit me until February, usually right after the Super Bowl.

Now Ktreva and the boys arent joining me for various reasons. Ktrevas biggest reasoning is that, Its cold and youre insane for wanting to camp in this weather! I on the other hand figure Ill spend most of the time in the cabin, only leaving to use the out house. Its the only time when you look forward to being the second person having to use it so the seat is warmed.

Ill be back on Sunday! Dont have too much fun.

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November 04, 2007

We went to the Fancy Dress Ball.

As I had mentioned I was inducted in the ONW Co on October 13th. Last night they had their tenth annual Colonial Ball. I've never gone before... because I wasn't a member. I Know Ktreva was psyched out about this. We'd been invited years past as guests, but I never felt comfortable going since I wasn't a member. I'm glad we went last night.

We ate a nice formal dinner, we danced, and we conversed with good friends and good people. Yes, I danced. I actually know some ballroom dancing. You'd be surprised what I know. Okay, I'm not good at it, but I know how. Some of the dances they did I didn't know, but they had an instructor there to teach us period dancing. It was a lot of fun and Ktreva looked spectacular.

ONW Ball.jpg

Okay, so I wasn't exactly dressed too fancy. I did wear my great kilt, and was the only one there wearing a historically accurate kilt for the time period. Actually there were to guys there wearing skirts trying to pass them off as kilts. I groused about that a lot last night so I'm going to let it drop. I don't really own anything fancy for the time period we do, mainly because I don't portray anyone that would have fancy clothes. I did have to make a concession to Ktreva since I wouldn't buy fancy clothes to wear once, she got to wash my waistcoat. I've owned that waistcoat for 4 years and the last time I let her wash it was 3 years ago. I was trying for a period correct dirtiness to it. She washed it three times to get the smell out, but some of the dirt is still ground in.

We had a great time, in fact everyone did. As one of our table companions stated during the formal dinner, "This is like Prom, for re-enactors." That's true, except I enjoyed this and I liked the people I was with.

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October 22, 2007

Back to reality.

Ktreva and I got back from our last re-enactment of the season yesterday. We had a beautiful weekend and had a ton of fun. The wind on Thursday and Friday was killer. Event staff told us it was gusting up to 45 mph at a time. I ended up assisting in setting up or rescuing 20 pieces of canvas from the wind. After Ktreva and I got our wall up, we decided not to set up our fly because the wind was just too strong. We arrived out there at 10:30 AM on Thursday. When we drove to our camp we saw two tents already blown down. After we finished setting up our tent, a Trader that was setting up a large marquee and having a hard time with the wind. Ktreva and I ran over to give them a hand. Now I know that normally they can set up their canvas by themselves, but the wind really makes it ten times more difficult, so they were grateful for the help.

To give you an idea of how bad that wind was at one point Ktreva was holding down the edge of the canvas as we tried to attach the large center ridgepole. A gust of wind came up and picked her up 2-3 feet off the ground. The owner in a panic said, Hold down the canvas! Ktreva replied, Its not that Im not holding it down, Its that it is picking me up! She went through the same thing two other times on Thursday.

Friday was much of the same, only with an off and on light rain. Saturday was beautiful. Highs in the 70s, lows in the 50s with a gentle breeze and sun. Sunday was even warmer except the wind picked up a little. Nothing like what was on Thursday and Friday, I it gusted up to 15 mph.

I was sadly disappointed about one thing at this event. I brought two coolers filled with beer to this event. I started drinking on it Thursday night, Saturday night when all was said and done I still had about a third of my beer. I could not give the stuff away and I had good beer. Two growlers of Scottish Ale, two growlers of Black Walnut Stout, six bottles of Dragons Milk, 28 bottles of Edmund Fitzgerald, 2 bottles of Arcadia Ale Scotch Ale. The two growlers of Scottish ale, the arcadia Ale and 3 of the Edmund Fitzgerald didnt get drank. Except for 4 bottles of the Dragons Milk, maybe half a growler of the Walnut Stout and a couple of the Edmund Fitzgerald, I drank the rest. This was on top of hitting a bar Thursday night and an Irish Pub on Friday. I was so disappointed to have to dump all that good beer out.

Other then the lack of beer drinking I had a great time. A friend of mine that I havent seen in 4 years because he moved to upper Minnesota actually came back for the weekend. It was great to hear him playing his pipes in camp. We have a piper that is with the local Ranger group and she does a fine job, but Jeremy is a master at the pipes and can really make beautiful music on them.

If you want to see some pictures from Fort Obie last weekend and Trail of History I have the reviews up over at the Spoon and Blade. I also finally got around to putting up the Galesburg Heritage Days review from last August up as well.

Posted by Contagion at 06:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 15, 2007

Down at the Fort.

This last weekend I did the Fort Obie re-enactment. Last year I day tripped it to this event and it looked like it was going to be fun so Ktreva and I added it to our calendar of events. After this weekend, this is going to be a permanent addition. If you do pre 1830s camp and are looking for a good October event, I would highly recommend this event.

After arriving we quickly staked out a spot and set up our wall tent. Since its a colder weather event and Ktreva and Clone tend to get cold we had to bring the big tent and the heater. To be honest with the new blankets we have, we never used the heater, which means we could have brought the wedge, which means I would have been happier than carrying around our wall. Now dont get me wrong, I love the wall tent. But in the direction Im taking my re-enacting, less is more. I dont want the big camp anymore. I want the nice small compact camp.

Since my beer consumption has been cut back drastically I had a ton of left over beer from all of the reviews. I also happened to get my hands on a case of Dragons Milk. Thats right a case of it. I brought 6 of the 22 oz bottles with. Friday night as soon as we were set up and dressed in costume, I busted out the beer. I gave a bottle of Dragons Milk to frequent commenter and good friend Petey and a bottle to my good friend Will. Neither of them have had Dragons Milk before. They were pleasantly surprised by how good this beer is. Anyone they let take a drink tried to steal the bottle. Such comments were made as, Dragons Milk, its rocket fuel for fat men! Now I kept warning them too be careful, it has a high alcohol by volume. Will finished off his bottle, snagged a second one from me and I kid you not power slammed it. Later on Petey and I figured out that drinking one bottle of dragons milk is equivalent to 4 regular beers. Between the Dragons Milk, the Edmund Fitzgerald and all the other review beers, we had a damn good time Friday night, and to quote someone, Contagion, you are a good man.

The next morning as I leave my tent Im greeted with, Contagion, you are an evil, evil man! Will and Petey were nursing some hangovers. Will lost a chunk of his life, including where he put his glasses. Petey started referring to Dragons Milk as The Scaly Teat. There were some other bleary eyed individuals walking around camp that would occasionally give me acknowledgement for their condition. I brought over 60 12 oz bottles of beer and 6 22 oz bottles of Dragons Milk. Saturday morning I had 10 12 oz bottles left. Other than the good natured ribbing I was getting for the hangovers, Im pretty sure everyone that shared of the cooler appreciated it. In fact I know they did, I had a lot of people compliment me on the quality and range of beers I brought.

Saturday morning I participated in the black powder shoot. Yea, Im not going to go into much detail, but lets just say I didnt end up in last place but not by much. They also had a tomahawk, knife, bow and fire building competitions. I didnt play in any of those, but I did watch and commentate.

After the competitions were over I had my final introduction for the Old North West Company (The O. N. W.). I had my first introduction at this event a year ago. At this meeting I was voted in and am now officially a Company Man. Im actually pretty damn psyched about this. Once I decided it was something I wanted, I started to wonder if I would make it in or not. After the meeting my sponsor, Garrett gave me my medallion. This wasnt just any medallion though, it was his. Apparently it was given to him by his sponsor and so he was giving it to me, which is really cool. These are a good group of guys and Im proud of that fact that I can count myself among their numbers now. But I think all that beer from the night before played a part in me getting voted in.

After dinner that night they opened up the period tavern. You walk in and no modern equipment was in sight. Beer bottles and cans had to stay outside. Their was one exception made. I brought four growlers of Scottish Ale from Carlyle per a request from Will. So we passed those around. I had never seen growlers of beer disappear so fast in my life. Wes of Bodhran Roll, Please day tripped it in to sing songs and play music. Its too bad he couldnt camp the night, I think he could have had a lot more fun AND been able to entertain us much later into the night. Unfortunately he had family obligations, and we all know how that goes.

All in all it was a great weekend. Good people, good friends, and just a lot of fun. I was able to get to know some people a bit better after this weekend. There were a ton of good conversations and jokes. People laughing and singing and just carrying along, good times. Im just sad that this very well will be the last re-enactment I will see them at until April. Most of the people at this event dont do Trail of History next weekend.

Posted by Contagion at 02:23 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 12, 2007

And away I go

I'm off to Fort Obie in Colona, Illinois this weekend. If any of you want to stop by, this event is open for the public, and the weather is looking to be GREAT!

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October 08, 2007

Big weekends coming up.

I have a re-enactment both this weekend and next one. This weekend I'm going to be doing Fort Obie in Colona, IL. The weekend after I'm going to be at Trail of History in McHenry, IL. (oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!) I'm looking forward to doing both events, even though they are definitely nothing like each other. Fort Obie is a rendezvous with a shoot and competitions. Trail of History is a re-enactment that's demonstrations and battles. This will be my first year participating in Fort Obie, last year we just day tripped it. Trail of History is the event that Ktreva and I got engaged at and the only event we still do from our very first season of re-enacting. It has sentimental values.

We have friends at each of these events that this will probably be the last time we see them until next year. It's sad that we don't get to see them that often, but it makes those weekends hanging out with them that much better.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go stare at the calendar and try to will the week to go by faster.

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August 20, 2007

1756 Internet Pr0n.

For the first time in the last year, I finally have a new Mortar Maiden up. She actually has posed for me in the past, but it's been a couple of years and she wanted to try again. It doesn't hurt that she is one of my more popular maidens.

Go over and see Shelagh MacKellan's as Ms. August 2007 and tell me that women don't get better with age.

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August 19, 2007

Good times, great friends, and politicial incorrectness.

I just returned from the Galesburg Heritage Festival. We had a lot of fun and the weather was BEAUTIFUL for the most part. We had some rain during the night and as we finished packing there was more rain, but the temps where cool all day yesterday and for the most part today.

I made the local newspaper. I participated in a fashion show and the Galesburg Register Mail ran a story about the rendezvous side of the show.

'It was a very dark, bloody time'

Re-enactors interact in character, but not politically correct

Sunday, August 19, 2007


The Register-Mail
GALESBURG - While Saturday's Civil War portion of Heritage Days Ladies Tea and fashion show was rather dignified and informative, the rendezvous portion of the fashion show, although also educational, was more street theater in its presentation. The re-enactors' interaction with each other kept the audience laughing throughout.

Will Crouch, who portrayed a farmer in 18th century Illinois, said conditions were not as they have been portrayed in movies.

"It's not Daniel Boone, it's not Davy Crockett," Crouch said. "It was a very dark, bloody time."

He warned the audience not to expect a politically-correct presentation, as the re-enactors would be in character.

He first introduced an Indian and the Indian's "woman."

"A lot of the clothes I have on are French or English," the Indian said. "It didn't matter, whoever paid better."

The man had black paint around his eyes, giving the look of a mask, with a black stripe down the left side of his face and his neck. His head was shaved, except for a top-knot on the back of his head.

He said the red ribbon on his rifle was so the British would know which Indians were loyal to them. He also carried a French safe passage coin, to use when needed.

"You've had your say, Indian, move along," Crouch said.

"Scalps paid very well, too," the Indian said menacingly.

An English lord of the manor said the king gave him thousands of acres in Illinois for his help in fighting the French.

Sarah Crouch, his female companion, said she knew little of her past because the English lord "killed my family."

She said he treated her well.

A wizened Scottish trapper took exception to her attitude. While it was difficult to understand his thick, Scottish brogue, it was obvious the lord of the manor received a well-deserved dressing down.

Ray, a long hunter, carried a Brown Bess musket. He said he became a hunter and trapper because he had no desire to enter his father's trade as a blacksmith. He said he traded with Indians, "However, I don't care much for the natives. They're pretty well savages."

Two mountain men entered. One, wearing a coonskin cap, said, "I came from Missouri. I'm here to buy a few women to trade back to the Indians."

His friend asked a woman if he could trade some trinkets for her daughter. The first man asked the woman, who was not a re-enactor, to stand up.

"Sit down, you're too skinny," he said.

A British militiaman, Noah Crouch, was a farmer but grew tired of that life.

"I'm not going to stand up here and gawk at the women or chase my sister around the room," he said, referring to the mountain men. "I joined the British, not that I agree with them, but because I dislike the French."

Seamus, a Scottish Jacobite - a member of a political movement dedicated to returning the Stuarts to the thrones of England and Scotland - said he hid in the moors of Scotland when the English soldiers arrived. When he returned, he said the " 'Anglish' killed my wife and children and put a price on my head."

He fled to Ireland, then Canada, where he helped the French.

"There is nothing that makes me happier than to kill an 'Anglishman,' " he growled.

As Will Crouch concluded the program, Seamus stayed in character. He stared at one Englishman, "I'll give you 30 seconds before I start shooting."

My alter-ego is Seamus MacPhail. But now let me give you some of the un-PC points that were not brought out in the article.

The "wizened old Scottish Trapper" was Duncan, Sarah's "uncle" at one point he was yelling at her for associating with people that "fight with their feet, and fornicate with their faces."

The Mountain Man was wearing a coyote skin cap, not a coonskin cap... and yes they did start sizing and pricing women in the crowd. When he told the one to sit down he actually said, "Sit down you're too skinny and your butt is too big."

As for me, they abbreviated my entire closing speech. It was more along the lines of "Now that the Anglish and the French have started fighting, I'm going to help the French fight the war. Nothing would make me happier than killing some Anglish and their manky american colonial lapdogs. And if I'm lucky I'll kill some of their women and children as well."

I got the only audible response from the crowd. And yes I did threaten to shoot Noah and when he gave me lip I cocked my musket loudly. At which point someone yelled out, "Move it, I don't want to get caught between the two of you."

The best part was the look on Will's face when he came out of the building. He had a look of bewildered disbelief. He told us he wanted us to stay in character and I asked if he was sure he wanted Seamus the Surly Scotsman. He assured me he did. But later he told me he just didn't think I would say I was going to kill the women and children.

Well I'm going to go finish cleaning up and unpacking, I'll give you more details later. I just wanted to share the article with everyone.

Posted by Contagion at 07:36 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 16, 2007

Would you like to go into the woods with me?

This last weekend went to prove a point Ive been telling people for years. It doesnt matter what the event is like, if you are with friends youll have a good time. Four years ago we did Theatiki for the first time, it was impressive and we had a lot of fun. Made some new friends and thought it was a great event. Since then it has rapidly been dying off. Three years ago they uninvited all the food vendors that served meals instead of just ice cream and popcorn. Then they started losing vendors, unfortunately some of the good vendors left and some of the crappy ones stuck behind. They moved the weekend it was one, participants started dropping out and even though its a juried event (Meaning you have to pass inspection and meet a standard of period correctness set by the event), there are a lot of people that were wearing and displaying things they shouldnt. IE it was not period correct for the 1750s that this event was set.

This year the camp was about barren. The military unit camp looked vacant, trader row was about 1/3 of what it was the first year we did it. Thank god for the Buffalo Man or Ktreva and I would have been stuck having to live off of ice cream and popcorn. The rapidness of this even collapsing is surprising. To be honest there has to be some kind of internal power struggle or sabotage going on in order for this rapid of demise. But this even is not dead yet. As my friend Will pointed out, they have a great opportunity right now to turn the event around and bring it back to something great.

Even with all of that going on, we had a great time. Why? Good friends. We camped in our usual spot, our friends Will and Red showed up. Their daughter Sari drove down from college to spend the weekend as well. We should have known we were in for a heap of trouble Friday when after all of us changing into costume, Will and I set down to do some drinking. We started with all the left over beers from my reviews. After finishing ALL of those off, we switched to Wills beer. We were about a case into it when two of the Rangers showed up. Ray and Sgt. Smiley came down and in typical Brit fashion got both Will and I to volunteer to fight in the battle the next day.

We had some more visitors, drank some a lot more beer and then decided to head up to their camp. Of course we leave our camp armed to the hilt. Were a little on the socially lubricated side, and allegedly making some very strong anti-ranger, anti-Brit and anti-Indian comments. Finally we find the manky Anglish gits and set about to deplete their supplies of alcohol. Okay, at this point things start to get fuzzy. I do know that someone gave me a rum horn at one point and I about drained the thing. There was some worry that I was going to collapse it like a little kid sucking on a juice box. Ktreva got tired and headed back to camp. When it came time for us to head back, poor Red and Sari had to keep us in line. And in my case, use my possibles bag strap as a leash to keep me from wondering into other camps. I laid down in the tent to get some sleep and it started spinning like a top. How do you get the tent to stop spinning if you are already on the ground? I was woken up by the sounds of recycle beer and rum splashing off the back of my teeth. With what great speed I could muster I flung myself out of the tent two feet and preceded to do something I havent done in a long, long time at an event. Vomit from drinking too much.

Saturday morning I felt fine, I was a little foggy headed, but felt fine. Until the womenfolk reminded Will and I that we volunteered to fight in the battle. We both looked at each other and stated, That doesnt sound like something Id do. After breakfast we did the woods walk battle, burned a bunch of powder and walk through the most spider filled woods I have ever been in. I was coated in head to toe in spider webs. After the battle we kind of looked at each other and decided that was too much like work and were going to desert.

When Ray showed up Saturday night to try to recruit us again for Sunday the first words out of my mouth were, We arent drunk enough to volunteer again! Saturday night wasnt as wild and crazy as Friday mainly because we ran out of beer and Sari wouldnt make a B double E, double R, U, N BEER RUN!(There ya go Harvey, thanks for the link.) Well she did offer earlier in the night, but we thought we had enough between my growlers and Wills stash. We were wrong. And at 11:00 PM she didnt feel like driving into town. Not that I blame her.

The Buffalo Man, his wife and assistant came down to join us around our fire Friday night. Stories were told, some great laughs and a couple of things I just would have never thought I would have heard about Like a gay Klingon wedding at a Sci-Fi Con, or Buffalo Man mixing a Klingon outfit with an elf outfit and going to a Con as Kay-Blar. (Keebler) Thats right he was the Klingon Elf Kay-Blar and he would hand cookies out to the other Klingons. From what he was telling us, that didnt go over too popularly with the Klingons.

We also discovered that I can do a plausable version of Herbert, the creepy old man from the Family Guy. Which once I got started doing, I couldnt stop. The ladies were all creeped out by it; I think Will and I just found it funny. Especially when a creepy flatlander kept coming by to take pictures of the ladies. I couldnt help but to keep the joke going.

Even though the event itself was kind of crappy, we had a lot of fun because of the friends and the company. There were some mistakes made mainly not enough beer. Definitely need to bring a second cooler to Galesburg if were going to be drinking like that.

Posted by Contagion at 09:11 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

July 13, 2007

Surly Scot Time.

Its time for another one of my whirlwind adventures. Im off this weekend to Bourbonnais, IL for the Gathering on the Theatiki. This is a pretty fun event to do, as long as the temps stay out of the oh my god Im melting variety. For the last couple of years the temps have been in the upper 90s low 100s with high humidity. That may be why every year at this event I damn near get heat stroke, even with drinking gallons of water.

This weekend they are calling for temps in the high 70s and low 90s and maybe rain on Saturday. Me + Re-enactment = Rain. Were prepared for a torrential downpour sometime Saturday afternoon. Hey, why should I start having dry canvas now?

If any of you are in the area and want to see a good battle, this is the one to attend. Of all the re-enactments I do, this one has the best battles. Plus if you stick around you can help me cull off some of the overstock left over from all the beer reviews. I think Im bringing 6 different beers to this event. 12 bottles of the last four reviews and two growlers from Carlyle.

Posted by Contagion at 05:19 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 05, 2007


Last weekend we did the Fort Koshkonong Rendezvous. I finally got around to updating The Spoon and Blade. There are a couple of changes.

You can see the review of the event. There are a couple of pictures. Including one of the sexy Ktreva and the boy posing with Seamus.

You can also read the new Campfire Tale called Tam and the Beast about Tam, AKA Sengo, AKA Wes of Bodhran Roll Please. It's all true, I swear by my tattoo!

Posted by Contagion at 08:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 28, 2007

One less re-enactment to do.

We got back from our re-enactment last night. Ive just been so out of it I havent posted anything. We didnt leave until late Friday night. There was a Raptors game and Wes and I went to that, afterwards we headed straight home, grabbed the family, jumped into the truck and rove up to Fort Atkinson. Wes rode with us to the event. We got there around midnight. Unlike in years past, we didnt have a problem with finding someone to tell us were we could or couldnt set up. We just pulled in found a spot and set up. I didnt even try to find anyone to ask, since I have a hard time finding anyone at 5:00PM; I doubt Id be able to find someone at midnight.

The next morning when I finally got around to trying to register, it took me over an hour again. I went to the registration table and they werent ready. After waiting for a while, they just gave me a packet and I went off and had breakfast. Even after breakfast they still werent ready. Then when I was finally able to register I find out they increased their fees to $25.00. I guess if I had read the literature better I would have known that they made that change.

After that we took a walk around both the upper and lower camps to see if we knew anyone there. Other then a couple of the vendors, there were two demonstrators I talk to on a regular basis. The rest were all ones I know in passing or as acquaintances. The attendance for this event was down drastically from last year. There were no new faces that I saw, but a lot that werent there from years past. Some of the people did a walk through, but didnt camp. After conversing with many of them, it seems that the quality of the event coupled with increased prices on everything is keeping them at bay.

The weather was actually pretty good. Of course we were rained on Saturday. We always plan on getting wet at this event. The temps were fabulous. Highs in the low 70s, lows in the mid 50s. We built a fire to help ward off a chill, but it never too cold. We couldnt have asked for better weather.

I also got hit with more bad news. Three re-enactors I know had heart attacks since my last event. And I just found out that another one had died a couple of months back. It seems that most people thought I knew so didnt repeat the information, thus I never found out. It has been a dark year for re-enactors. That brings the count up to 4 deaths and 9 with serious health issues for the year. That is not a good count this early on.

Saturday night the camp was pretty dead, which is very unusual. Finally later in the evening we had a bunch of people show up. Most of them committee members or spouses of committee members, it made us wonder they read some of my reviews of the event and were trying to butter me up for better ones. That and the way I was treated all weekend was kind of weird. Everyone on the committee was overly nice to me.

Saturday night also led to Wes and I having the most idiotic conversation wed ever had with other re-enactors. Im not going to go into all the details, but it started over me not wanting to pay $55.00 per person in my family to do an event, it devolved into one person not liking me calling my outfit costuming and my tent at tent. They wanted me to call it wardrobe and a lodge. I know that a lot of re-enactors do it, but its a matter of semantics and I just dont care. Then they got pissed because I referred to re-enacting as a hobby, they said it was a lifestyle. I pressed on with it being a hobby, mainly because at that point I had been drinking for hours, and my inner arsehole had come out and I was just trying to piss the individual off. Finally it reached the point where one said Wes and I werent really into it, and that we dont take rendezvous serious. Yea It was an interesting conversation.

Sunday was uneventful. Except for Wes making a name for himself in the re-enacting circle. He protected some kids from an animal attack. Id include that story in this post, but that deserves one all of its own.

All in all it was pretty much decided that unless we have some other friends going next year, we wont be back to this one.

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May 25, 2007

One last chance.

This weekend is the Fort Koshkonong re-enactment in Fort Atkinson. We are heading out to the event after the Raptors game Friday night. So we wont get there until late at night, probably close to midnight. Thats not big deal; we are used to setting up in the dark. Plus its better then trying to get up early and get up there on Saturday morning.

This very well may be the last year that I do this event. After last year's trying to get registered fiasco, the fact its poorly run and the event is slowly dying, I just dont know if its worth doing any more. The fact that it is dying is really what is weighing heavily on me. The main reason I do this event is to hang with friends and to shoot. Every year fewer and fewer of the vendors show up and most of my friends arent going. In fact this year from what I can tell the only friend I know for sure is going is one I see on a regular basis, and one of them is riding up with me!

It seems that none of the River Scum are going to make it, and from what I hear Will and Red arent going to be there although I dont have first hand knowledge of that since they wont return my e-mails. But Ive heard through the grapevine they wont be there and they arent responding to anyones e-mails. At the visitation last week, I spoke with others that usually attend this event, and they all said they werent going.

So Im going to give this event another shot, see what happens, but it just might be falling off our schedule for next year.

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May 21, 2007

Moving on down?

Since Ktreva and I started re-enacting, we've always had a large tent. In fact for wall tents we have what's considered to be a larger then normal one. Yes, there are wall tents larger then ours, but you just don't see them that often. However, we've decided to downsize. We've had enough of these large set-ups at events that we don't need that much in order to participate. Normally our little wedge tent would be enough, but sometimes we need just a little more for the boys or if I decide to do an event alone, I don't need to bring that much gear with. So I bought myself a field tarp. What's a field tarp? It's roughly a 10 foot by 10 foot piece of canvas with ties on it. See:

Diamond Fly 001.jpg

Of if you want to see what it looks like on the inside:

Diamond Fly 004.jpg

It's actually more roomy then it looks. Now, this is just one way of setting it up, there are so many different styles that it would be almost impossible for me to list them all.

Oh, and the best part is that it took me all of about 5 minutes to set it up.

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May 17, 2007

Bad Web Master.

Holy crap Ive been negligent! I just realized I hadnt updated The Spoon and Blade in almost a year. Then again Ive run out of Mortar Maidens AND the only event I did after the last update was canceled on Sunday.

Well tonight I rectified that. I finally put up the review from Gathering of Macktown this year, a couple of weeks late. But it does have some interesting pictures. I also updated our schedule of events, just in case any of you want to see where well be at this year.

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May 16, 2007

For Denise.

A couple of weeks ago during my re-enactment I learned that a re-enacting friend, and one of my Mortar Maidens, had been diagnosed with cancer. It was told to me that she was terminal and that they didnt expect her to last much longer. From a phone call I received yesterday I found out that much longer meant until Monday.

I only really knew Denise for a short period of time. Her and her husband portrayed natives, as you can tell from the photos. Both of them really loved Clone and would play with him at the events or give him little re-enacting items. Denise always came across to me as one of those truly nice and fun loving people. Every time I saw her, she always seemed to be full of life and joy.

Ive heard people say that the world is a better place for having someone in it, and I never really understood that. But since learning of her passing, I finally understand. In my eyes the world will be worse off for not having her in it. I dont know if Im going to be able to make it to her funeral or visitation, but at least here I can leave a little piece of the internet to her memory.

For Denise I leave this Scottish blessing (Because even though shes a native, Im a Scot.):

A Scot Farewell

When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me
I want no tears in a gloom-filled room
Why cry for a soul set free?

Miss me a little but not for long
And not with your head bowed low
Remember the love that we once shared
Miss me but let me go.

For this is a journey we all must take
And each must go alone
It's all a part of the master plan
A step on the road to home.

When you are lonely and sick of heart
Go to the friend we know
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds
Miss me... but let me go.

Please dont leave condolences in the comments. They should be reserved for her husband, close friends and family. I grieve not for me, but for them. That is all I have to say about that.

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May 01, 2007

Good Times and Bad News.

Good lord am I beat. This weekend was a great weekend. It jump-started my re-enacting bug, which is good. Now Im looking forward to my next one.

Originally we were going to head out Thursday night, but with it being on the cold and rainy side and us not participating on kids day, we decided to head out Friday. I have nothing against kids day; I use to do it all the time. However, after my leaving Clan Chattan I changed my demonstration from Surly Scotsman talking about weapons to Surly Scotsman talking about Distilling. It had been decided a while back that my demonstrating distilling to kids might be taken the wrong way. The event coordinators didnt want some parent complaining that they were promoting alcohol use to children. With todays litigation loving society, I completely agree. There were some rumors floating around that the committee wouldnt let me participate. I did get those straightened out that it was a mutual agreement.

We arrived a little on the early side Friday. Kids day wasnt quite over, so we had to wait in the parking lot before they would let us in to set up. Since a nice warm front was coming through, the skies cleared up and it actually got warmer as the afternoon passed into evening. This is when all my love of re-enacting came flooding back. The sights, smells and old friends really warmed my heart. It was great seeing people that I hadnt been able to visit with since October. Unfortunately, there were some friends that werent there. Some that either couldnt make it or just didnt come, and in a couple of cases ones that didnt make it through the winter or arent long for this world.

Saturday was a hot one. The temperatures climbed into the 80s. I didnt participate in the battle, mainly because I spent most of my time demonstrating distilling, but also because I really didnt want to participate. As the years have passed my desire to go run around the battlefield burning black powder is waning. My desire to go shoot at a target is more along my lines. Speaking of shooting, one of the re-enactors there brought with this huge blunderbuss. I believe he said the barrel was 1 and 9/16 diameter at the breech. It will fit a golf ball comfortably. He let me fire the thing. When asked how much powder it takes to shoot it, he replied with, 300 and some He had a 100 grain powder measure. He would fill it three times and pour it down the barrel. Then he would fill it about half way and put that in as well. Using a slice of bread he would pack it into place. Yea, it rocked!

macktown Blunderbuss.jpg
It's not the length, it's the girth

I went to the ONW meeting on Saturday. There wasnt enough there for my second introduction, but thats okay. It was another opportunity to meet more of the guys. It was during this that I learned more said news about some other re-enactors I know. It seems that this off-season has really taken its toll. The guys all gave me crap for not going to Bloody Lake next weekend. Unfortunately there are too many reasons that I cant go. I cant even day trip it and its almost in my back yard.

After the public left we went over to Clan Chattan for Dinner. Grau was making I cant believe its not Blam stew, and invited us to help eat it. We werent about to pass that up. It was damn good. He made the ultra-dense version of it. It didnt take much for you to get you fill. And if you ate even a spoonful too much, you where in discomfort. After dinner Clone was acting up so we headed back to our camp. I figured wed just sit and stare at the fire while listening to the other camps from ours. We cant leave Clone in the camp unattended. Wes, who was camping next to us, came over and started playing his Bodhran, and my friend Smokepoles came over to join in the festivities. I turned to say something to Ktreva, and I noticed that most of Clan Chattan AND the Rogers Rangers had wandered into our camp. We ended up having a party right there!

All was going well until Grau decided to bust out the wheel of pickled food. The pickled turkey gizzards were good, the herring was wonderful, but he had some pickled eggs that spelled my doom. I love pickled eggs. So of course I grabbed one and popped the whole thing in my mouth. What none of us realized is that these had some extra-spicy kick to it. It took a whole couple of minutes before my stomach problems kicked into an overdrive. Our camp was close to a golf course, all I know is that I feel sorry for the golfers that found my surprises on the back nine the next day. Let me just say, I am NOT sticking my head in a port-a-john.

Sunday went well. I spent more time walking around and visiting people. The temperatures again soared into the 80s. Which kind of sucked because I only brought my cold weather clothes with. So I was sweating my nuts off. I also finished off a nice sunburn on Sunday. My nose is blistered; my ears and lips are burnt. Its painful when I blink. Before anyone says anything about sunscreen yea I know. But you have to understand. Im half Scottish, half Norwegian. Me in the sun is like putting a fork in the microwave. Even with SPF 109,238, which is a thick paste, I get a sunburn. Then I peel, and then I go back to pasty white.

Clan Chattan revived the Voyage of Maelduin after a three-year hiatus this weekend. It used to be their signature play they would put on. There are parts in the play where the actors have water thrown on them unexpectedly. My long lost blog daughter, Virtue (whom is not dead as previously thought), had this idea to get the audience in by throwing water. Unfortunately she informed my wife and Smokepoles about this nefarious plan. After she left our camp Ktreva and Smokepoles filled a bucket with water and ice from the bottom of our cooler. I didnt get the shot of Smokepoles dousing Grau with ice water, but I did get a couple of shots of them being splashed.

Macktown Maelduin.jpg
Yes, that is a wall of water heading for Grau!

All in all it was a good weekend. Im geared up for my next event, Fort Koshkonong in Fort Atkinson, WI. Im hoping that some of the River Scum from down state make the trip again this year. Its always good hanging with them and I havent seen most of them since last October. Anyway, we all had fun, especially Clone. He keeps asking when we can go camping again.

Macktown Clone(2).jpg
The boy on his way to harass Smokepoles

Oh, and by the way. Even though it didn't rain on us while we were at the event. Right after we finished packing up and headed out, the skies opened up on us. So even though my canvas was technically down and in my vehicle, it still got wet. There is no cover on my truck.

Posted by Contagion at 07:30 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 26, 2007

Re-enacting Season is officially Open

If you live in the Northern Illinois/Southern Wisconsin area and want to see a little piece of history, head to Rockton, Illinois this weekend for the Gathering at Macktown. It's at the Macktown Forest Preserve and Golf Course. The family and I are heading that way and will be set up for the weekend to entertain folks with tales about distilling and just being a surly Scot!

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April 24, 2007

My family is going to starve!

I completely failed in my role as a family provider today. Tonight Ktreva asked me to run to the grocery store to pick up supplies for this weekend. It was a very simple task, with only a couple of meals that I actually had to buy food for. Since she had set me to this task a couple of days ago, I had the time to make a proper grocery list.

After work I stopped at the local grocery store before picking up the boys. As I walked in I realized that I had forgotten my list at home. DAMMIT! How the hell could I have done such a thing? I had planned and prepared for this trip over the last couple days. Maybe it had to do with the malaise I have toward re-enacting right now. Im not sure, but what was I going to do? I dont have the time to run home, get the list and come back. Im so screwed.


That was a short and simple list. Im doing the majority of the cooking; I can do this with out the list. There was nothing on there that I dont know the recipe by heart. So I started shopping. Simple cold cereal on Friday, French toast on Saturday, Burgers with fruit and vegetables Saturday night, Eggs Sunday morning. Thats not that hard.

I grab my cart and start whistling up and down the isles.

Fruit, Check.
Vegetables, Check.
Bread, Check.
Meat, Check
Hamburger Buns, Check.
Syrup, Check

Then a voice in my head rings out CONTAGION, YOU ARE FORGETTING SOMETHING! What? No Im not! Going down the mental list. Eggs, beer, pop, beer, cheese, Jack Daniels, spices, beer, cereal, milk, beer. No, its all there. Everything we needed, Im not forgetting anything. I know its all there. I ran over the menu and the list a dozen times. No, there is nothing Im forgetting.

But that voice in my head would not let me be. It kept harping on me. Nagging that I had indeed forgotten something. I get the boys; return home and start unloading the groceries. Putting the items that need to be kept cool in the fridge, and the rest with the re-enacting gear. Finally it dawns on me what I forgot. The most important of all re-enacting foods, the one item that just the mere mention of it will bring people to your camp. There is even a historical phrase that goes with it.

Figured out what I forgot? Ill give you a hint: it goes with Sunday breakfast.

Thats right. I forgot to bring home the bacon.

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April 23, 2007

Not in the mood.

Anyone that has read me for a while knows that Im big into my re-enacting. Every year about this time, I start getting excited and giddy. Those of use in the circle refer to this as the ronde-flu; we just cant wait to get back out in our period clothes and canvas tents. Next weekend is my first event of the year. To be honest, I really could not care less.

I dont know whats going on this year, but I just have the excitement and anticipation that I normally do. Part of me doesnt even want to go, thats right I dont want to go.
Im not even sure why I feel like this. Maybe its because Im not really in a good place mentally right now. Im still having some hellacious health issues that are not getting better. Its to the point that Im beginning to look at my mortality. How long can I go with my stomach slowly digesting itself before it turns into something fatal?

Maybe its because Im having personal issues at home and at work. Its really permeating my thoughts and activities. I just cant seem to get away from it. The thought of just ignoring it all and going off and pretending all is fine and playing Seamus MacPhail, Surly Scot and distiller is just not appealing. Hell, I havent even updated the Spoon and Blade since August.

It could be that I feel like Im obligated to head out and do this one. Bloggers might liken this to the feeling they get when they have nothing to post, but feel like they should. I know that since my heart isnt behind it, I know I wont put on as good of a demonstration. Ive strived so hard to be a premier presenter that it bothers me that I might be sub-par.

What ever it is, I just dont know. Ive got some stuff to do before this weekend. Usually I do this with excitement. Now, Im looking at it likes its housework. I hate housework.

Posted by Contagion at 06:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 28, 2006

A season cut short.

Its 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 Im going to go ahead with out any. Sorry, as soon as I get the pictures Ill 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 its located just off site from the re-enactment. Their chicken liver pt is excellent!

Friday was kids day. They bus in children to learn about history. I didnt sign up to demonstrate for kids day based on past experience. I wouldnt 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 Id have to direct them on saying, We arent putting on a demonstration today. What I really wanted to say was, They have bright orange signs for camps putting on kids 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 Im 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 wasnt sure that was the right answer.) When I went on my walk about I had guys coming up to me saying, Hey, youre the distiller. Youve 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 wasnt demonstrating.

Friday night a group of us went into Richmond to dinner at Doyles 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 wasnt too cold and the wind wasnt bad. I spent the whole day demonstrating. Before we left for the event I decided I wasnt 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 dont 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, dont 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 its very hot, very very hot. I use leather gloves to remove it when Im 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 thats 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 weve only done this demonstration for two years, I never figured to win any thing. So when they called my name I wasnt sure how to react. Since Im so shy, I didnt know how to act. When I accepted the award the only thing I could say was, Thats 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. Im 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 Ive seen that they wont 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 couldnt 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. Im thinking Grau is going to take my title as event jinx. However, so far 17 out of 21 events weve set up canvas at over the last three years have been rained on.

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August 22, 2006

She's fit to be tied!

Over at the Spoon and Blade we have our latest Mortar Maiden up, Kitane of the Lenape Tribe. Hey, what can I say? These native girls really have something going. Plus this one gives a new meaning to “Love slave”. (wink wink, nudge nudge).

Posted by Contagion at 05:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Fun in the frontier.

I was finally able to get the Spoon and Blade updated. It’s only taken three weeks and 5,983,487,925,735 e-mails to my hosting company to be able to update it.

Now that it’s been updated and I’m done fighting with them, I can tell you the goings on of our weekend. Of course it rained this weekend. Hey, I’m setting up canvas! We had some rain on Friday and again on Saturday. It wasn’t too bad; it was a light rain that didn’t really bother us. It just helps keep the streak of wet canvas alive. Even with that the weather was beautiful. It was a little sticky on Saturday, but the temp never got out of the upper 70’s. A little bit more of a breeze would have been nice. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, I’ll take this weather for any event!

Ktreva and I decided that we were going to do a 180 of our normal selves and pack light. Instead of bringing our wall tent and fly, we brought just the wedge tent and set that up. It was so nice! Normally when we do an event, it takes an hour to load up all of our gear and about an hour and a half to unpack and set up everything. On Friday we loaded the truck in less then thirty minutes and set up in about the same amount of time. Once we get all the details worked out we should be even to get even lighter, we ended up bringing stuff we didn’t need to.

As soon as I finished setting up, I started catching crap for being a racist. In May I took pictures of two Native girls, one Eastern Indian and one Western Indian. In June I was able to post the Western Indian for the Mortar Maiden. Since I was having problem’s accessing my site due to the change in ISP, I never did a July Mortar Maiden. Since Miss August is one of Teme’s wives, I’m obviously a racist toward the Eastern Indians. It was all in good-natured fun, and as I told him, “All Indians are the same, the only good one is a dead one.” That was a joke people. I don’t want anyone coming here thinking I’m an Indian hater.

I was able to pick up a couple of items at this event. A track pack made by Davie O. of the Illinois River Scum. Apparently he stopped making them and his are really good. I’m fortunate to have found someone selling one. I also was able to pick up a paddle. Petey, occasional commenter and Illinois River Scum helped me pick it out. Right about now some of my re-enacting friends are probably wonder if I’ve gone daft. I can hear the question, “Is he planning on going on a canoe trek with the River Scum?” Well, much to some people’s delight, yes. Yes, I am going to try to do a trek in the next couple of years. I’m also painfully aware that they will leave me tied to a log in the middle of an island. They just need to schedule one for a weekend I’m not so busy, so it won’t be until next year before I get to use it. (Lets hope for something in June!) So far the only paddling I’ve done with it has been of Clones bottom.

My handmade canoe paddle

I also attended a meeting of the Old Northwest Company. At first I we vehemently against attending, I didn’t want to join another group. After being a guest at the meeting and learning more about what they are about and whom they are, I’m thinking I’m going to see if I can’t get someone to sponsor me in. It’s not a group like I’m used to and it’s a very loose organization. Plus then Ktreva will be happy because, “I’ll have a pretty blue banner to hang in front of our lodge!” (girl squeal). Guys, have you noticed how a woman could take anything masculine and make it sound all girlie?

There seemed to be fewer vendors this year. The only one I really missed was Irish Ridge. They have been good to us since we started re-enacting and they told us this is probably going to be their last year. I’m pretty sure this is the last event of the year that we would have done together. I wanted to see them at least one last time before they retired. What I found amusing is that most of the items I purchased came from trade blankets. (Blankets that re-enactors set out with items on them they are trying to sell. I have to remember not all of my readers are re-enactors). There were a lot of good trade blankets at the event. I don’t have any official figures, but I think the public attendance was down to. Unlike the past two events I’ve been to, I don’t think this is due to the organizers. It just seems to be a matter of economics.

One of my Mortar Maidens, Davina, went and got herself engaged. She’s been seeing one of the River Scum for some time now and apparently she suckered him into actually proposing to her. I kept telling her it’s not too late to say no, but she didn’t want to let poor Josh off the hook. When he proposed I was actually looking in the right direction and was able to see the whole thing. Ktreva was nowhere around when it happened. She’s annoyed that I saw and she didn’t. She’s the one that has the romantic and sentimental side. I on the other hand kept giving words of advice like, “Remember, nothing kills the libido in a woman faster then her own wedding cake!”

I also heard these words of wisdom over the weekend, “Never pet a burning dog.” Don’t ask me to explain, I really couldn’t do it.

For more stories and pictures go see the Spoon and Blade’s Review.

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July 18, 2006

Theatiki a bust.

I’ve had enough time to recover to actually tell you about my weekend. Unlike everyone else in Northern Illinois that went to the Ogmeet, I was re-enacting in Bourbonnais, IL. Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to have gone, but I take my re-enacting very seriously and enjoy it immensely. Ktreva and I always have fun at the Gathering on the Theatiki, so it’s hard to not go.

Friday we arrived to find our friends Will, Red and their daughter, better known as Skye, setting up in the spot next to where we wanted to camp. As it was hotter then all get out, we busted hump to get camp set up. Then we ran into town for dinner and to pick up some supplies. We ate at a restaurant called Coyote Canyon; it’s a steak buffet. The food is decent and reasonably priced. We were sat in a section where the girl clearing the tables looked like she was 16 and 8 months pregnant. She was also the fastest pregnant girl woman on the planet. I would leave the table for three seconds to get something to drink and my plate and flatware would be completely cleared away.

When we got back to camp we were visiting with Will, Red and Skye when another friend of ours, Jim, showed up and set up camp. Great! There is nothing better then re-enacting and being able to camp next to friends. Early on we decided we were not going to dig a fire pit. It was so hot that we didn’t want one, and we had decided we were not going to cook this weekend, so it wasn’t needed. We did have our campfire in a bucket, AKA citronella candle.

Saturday was so hot we spent most of the time sitting around under the shade of a tree talking. Normally I participate in the battle, but I really had no desire to go marching around in 9 yards of dark wool… so I didn’t. During this time it was discovered that Skye has a thing for me. Apparently, realizing I would never leave my beloved Ktreva for her, she went and found a replacement Contagion, A re-enactor from Indiana that also portrays a Scot. It was such a thinly veiled attempt to find herself someone as much like me as possible. All weekend I tried to not lead her on, as I did not return the feelings. However, her young heart knows what it wants and I had to spurn her affections many times. My sexy facial hair was driving her wild.*

The heat on Saturday was so bad that barely any people showed up. Word in camp was that the local news had advised everyone to stay inside if possible, and apparently the public listened. That and I swear the event coordinators are trying to kill this event. Last year they got rid of all the food vendors that truly cater to re-enactors. Fortunately, after much protest, they brought them back. This year it looked like the got rid of a lot of quality vendors and left some that really didn’t need to be there. One of my least favorite vendors attends this event, and they have a lot of crap on their tables all the time. The event coordinators also don’t appear to like variety. They had multiple shops that sold the exact same things, while other vendors that sold unique products weren’t there. I can understand having multiple clothing vendors as they all have different styles and patterned clothes, but did we really need two soap vendors, three wood carvers, and 5 Wallyworld’s of the fur trade. (The discount store of fur trade merchants who sells everything from tourist trinkets and pseudo-Native American junk made in Taiwan, to Pakistani knives to cheap get-you-started period clothing.) There where some quality vendors there, but their numbers were thinning out.

Saturday night was spent again sitting around the “campfire” again telling stories and just enjoying the camaraderie of good friends. Sunday was pretty much a repeat of Saturday, only with a better breeze so we weren’t as hot.

Technically we didn’t get rained on this weekend, but we might as well have. I had wet canvas. It was so humid that before dark, dew had started setting in the grass. By morning when we woke up, you could see the moisture on the inside of the tents and flies. When I stepped under my fly Sunday morning, I thought it was raining. Then I noticed it was the dew dripping off the tent onto me.

We had a good time, despite the fact that my inner organs are well done. What made this event fun was seeing all of our friends and socializing with other re-enactors. If it weren’t for them, this even would have been a bust. The hot temperatures may have had a hand in the lack of public and activities, but I think the event coordinators really did a lot of damage too. At least three times over the weekend some inner squabbling between the committee members was discussed with in earshot of the public and participants. I just hope they get their act together and not drive the event into the ground. If it keeps going this way, I think there will be only three years more before we quit going.

For pictures of this event, check out the Spoon and Blade.

*That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Posted by Contagion at 06:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 13, 2006

The French are coming! The French are coming?

This weekend will be the one weekend every year that I bypass my moral and ethic of not fighting under a British flag… and fight for the Brits. The truck is loaded, cartridges rolled, jerky ready to be gnawed on, and I’m ready to fight! Theatiki, here we come!

First matter of business to get out of the way, weather. There is a 60% chance of rain on Friday; there is only a 20% chance of rain the rest of the weekend. That’s not too bad. Anyone want to wager that it’s going to rain sometime Saturday or Sunday? I can’t have an event that it doesn’t rain on me! Actually this weekend I’d probably welcome the rain, it is supposed to have a high in the 90’s, low in the 70’s with about 68% humidity. That’s right, it’s going to be ball sticky hot. At this event last year I had a case of heat stroke due to marching in 95-degree weather in dark wool. It would have been improper of a gentleman to take off his waistcoat in public, and since that weekend I was portraying a gentleman (It’s cooler then wearing my hunters frock!), I didn’t dare go improper!

I love this event; I have a lot of fun every year. Unfortunately, if I want to fight in the battle, I have to fight with the Brits. The French and the Indians have such a large contingency at this event that the Brits are outnumbered 3-1. They look for as many people as possible to fight with the Brits. It also doesn’t help that one of the largest British encampments is generally so hung over on Sunday that letting them fight would be like giving a straight razor to a retarded 9 year old. You know someone is going to get hurt.

Plus this event has one of the best battle scenarios I’ve ever done. They have two battles during the day. The first is called “The Woods Walk” They re-enact the battle from Last of the Mohicans when the English are leaving Fort William Henry and are ambushed by the Natives. Except here it’s the public with English guards being attacked by the French and Indians. It’s fun to play in and to just observe. The public gets to be right in the middle of the fighting. No other re-enactment I’ve heard of does that. If you’re in the area of Bourbonnais, IL this weekend and want to check out a little history, I’d recommend the visit just for the first battle.

Posted by Contagion at 07:19 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 04, 2006

My Balls are huge!

There is a psuedo re-enactment this weekend. It’s more of a black powder shoot, and less of a re-enactment. In fact you couldn’t call it a re-enactment at all if it wasn’t for the fact that about 5 camps where primitive, there were 6 tin-tipis (Those are modern campers to you flatlanders.) In fact there where only about a dozen people in period dress there.

Since this event is about ten minutes from my house, I just day tripped it. I didn’t even bother putting on costuming. I did this event last year, and I didn’t feel the need to maintain any level of historical accuracy. I was going just to burn powder and throw lead with the ol’ smoke pole. (That’s a smooth bore musket to you green horns.) I hit the event around 10:15 AM, and didn’t leave until they closed the range at 4:30. I burned through 2.75 pounds of black powder, and 124 round balls (Bullets). Even if the range had stayed open longer I wouldn’t have been able to stay and shoot. I was out of powder and round ball.

Since I had spent more of my time of late shooting modern than black powder, I was pretty rusty. Sure I took second place in the competition last week, but that was only out of 4 people and 2 of them had never shot before. Early in the day my shots where spread out all over the target. By the end of the day every shot would have killed a Brit. In fact I had a couple of old timers tell me that I was pretty good with a smooth bore. I also had a couple of people ask how long I was had been shooting because my clusters where impressive, for a smooth bore. At one point I got into a little bit of a shooting match with a newbie. He had just picked up his first flintlock and was talking a little smack. Apparently the guy was a Marine and does all kinds of modern shooting. He figured would be an expert marksman with his flinter. He was giving me crap about my cluster when he toed the line, aimed, pulled the trigger and missed the backstop completely.

He missed because he had never fired Black Powder before and that explosion going off to the side of your head can be distracting. The guy flinched and hit the ground about a foot in front of the target. Me being me, I couldn’t help buy to spout off, “My cluster might not be perfect, but at least I hit something other then dirt.” He started getting a little pissy when some of the other shooters and I explained that, in that crusty re-enactor way, he’s new, has no idea what he’s doing with a flintlock and that you can be a sniper with a modern rifle, but black powder is a different beast. Hang fires, delays, small explosions next to your head are not only common, but also expected with flintlocks.

After some of the old timers gave him some words of advice on how to shoot a flintlock, he did get a lot better quickly. We played a couple rounds of “In the Black.” Basically you see who can get the most shots in the black in a 30-minute interval. Per shot fired he would have won, but that wasn’t the rule. The benefits of a smooth bore, they load fast. So I ended up winning.

Overall I had a good time. I need to get out there more often. I don’t get to shoot as much as I would like. Lack of available places to shoot and times to go shooting is what my problem is.

Oh, and I had no less then 5 comments that I have huge balls. Since most people out there shoot .45 to .56 caliber, my .75 round balls look monsterous.

Posted by Contagion at 07:53 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 01, 2006

She'll make your Tipii stand tall.

Over at the Spoon and Blade, we’ve gone native. We’ll at least as far as the Mortar Maidens go. Head over and see our first exotic Indian Mortar Maiden, Eyanosa.

BTW, It was discussed at this last event that I could open up a dating service for re-enactors. I’ve had many a person inquire on the various maidens and as to whether or not they are single, what events they do, and if they want a man. Hmmm… Maybe I could become a 1756 Internet Pimp as well as 1756 internet pr0n king.

Posted by Contagion at 06:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 31, 2006

How the weekend was won.

Okay, I’m over being burnt. Let me give you a brief recap of what happened last weekend. First thing first we drove up the Fort Atkinson right after work on Friday. It was pretty damn hot. Not wanting to waste gas I left the air conditioner off in the truck. Also since I don’t like the wind blowing in the window at 80 MPH, (What, the speed limit is only 65? Really? Are you sure? Cause I swear my speedometer was telling me it was 80.) I kept the windows rolled up and the vent fans on high. Which basically means I sweated off ten pounds on the ride up. Don’t worry; the family was in the air-conditioned second vehicle. We made excellent time.

Now this event has always been puzzling to me. I enjoy participating in it, yet at the same time I loathe it. Manly because it is the most piss-poorly run event I do. Everyone involved is really nice, but when you arrive there rarely is ever anyone around to tell you where you can and can’t set up. I spent a good 45 minutes to an hour searching for someone to tell me where I was supposed to camp. I was so pissed I about grabbed the family and drove home. Ktreva said she really wanted to stay so I just decided on Squatters rights and choose a spot. Sure enough as soon as we start setting up, who should appear, but the booshway (Man in charge) to collect our fee. Whenever you need to find someone “in-charge” after hours it’s almost impossible. It seems like any ounce of organization they attempt is done so poorly that they would have been better off not even trying to organize anything.

We could tell Friday night was going to be lonely. We didn’t see any of our normal friends there. We were camped kind of by ourselves, we looked really anti-social, hoping that when our friends showed up they could camp next to us. By 10:30 PM it didn’t look like any of the people that told us they were going to show up were going to. Saturday morning we awoke to a bake oven. It was already in the 80’s by 7:30 AM, and since it had rained so much the previous week the ground was saturated with water. That meant it was humid as all hell. Plus there was no breeze. After building a fire, (Yea, that sucked) and cooking French toast over it (That sucked more, especially since someone forgot the syrup… KTREVA!) we headed out to make our day. Right away we found a camp that hadn’t been there the night before. Our friend’s Will and Red showed up. They also had one of their sons and a whole slew of the Illinois River Scum with them. Since they didn’t have the big tent like I thought they had, they camped in the cooler shadier area. I don’t blame them, if my tent would have fit down there, I would have too.

After making our rounds, picking up Boopie's custom made chair from Irish Ridge and talking to our vendor friends. Boopie and I hit the range to burn powder. Boopie’s first time live firing was interesting. The gun handles fine. It’s just a little temperamental. That may have something to do with the farooking humidity making the black powder kind of gooey. I need to work on the boy’s upper body strength; he had a hard time holding the rifle up. After a couple of shots he decided he liked shooting, but didn’t like standing in the sun, so he gave it a rest. I on the other hand started the competition shooting. Again the humidity took its toll on my musket. The damn thing kept fouling up after every two to three shots and had to be seriously cleaned. Everyone shooting was having the same issues. Plus it was so hot that the lead balls were getting softer and starting to misshapen easier.

At the end of the weekend I ended up taking Second place in the Smooth bore competition, with out destroying the range. In fact this year range master Marty had a new rule, the “Seamus Clause” (In reference to last year when I exploded a two by four on my first shot). Anyone that hits one of the wooden supports or stands has to buy him a drink. I thought I was screwed. Funnily enough the only person all weekend to hit one of the stands was Marty.

My Friend Jim, his wife, his son and a friend of his son day tripped it to the event on Saturday to shoot. Since the award ceremony wasn’t until Sunday, he told Marty to give me any prizes they may have won. Well He took Second place in Adult rifle, His son’s friend took second place in the juvenile shoot, and his son took Third prize. I ended up collect 2 pounds of ham steaks, a pound of Canadian bacon, and two pounds of regular bacon. I was walking back from the award ceremony when someone asked what all I had, I couldn’t help but to say, “I won second place in the shooting competition. First place got a whole pig, Second gets an assemble your own pig.”

The ground at the range was pretty chewed up by the end of the event. However, most of the damage to the ground was my fault. My .75 caliber musket would chew up the ground behind the targets every time it hit. Other shooters and the audience would comment on the size of the divots I was shooting out of the ground. They also where amazed at the size of the furrows those round balls would create. At one point my buddy Jim was out on the range changing targets. He yelled back to everyone, “You should see the size of ditches Seamus is digging out here. It looks like World War 1 trench warfare.” He then proceeded to “Fall into” one.

After I was done shooting my competition rounds at the range. I helped Marty out by scoring other shooters. He was short handed and there where a lot of shooters there this year. That’s when I ended up getting burnt so bad. I was in the sun from 10:00 AM until 2:30 PM. 20 minutes actual shooting, 40 minutes of loading, an hour and half of cleaning and two hours judging. The whole time with out any sunscreen. Yep, my own damn fault.

Saturday afternoon is when the rain hit us. It wasn’t a heavy rain, and it lasted for only about 20-30 minutes. After it finished it did two things. Cooled everyone off some, and increased the humidity.

Saturday night we had a good time around the campfire and I had a couple more Mortar Maidens volunteer. That should last me until my July event. Both of my new Mortar Maidens portray Natives… that’s Indians to the PC crowd. We had fun trying to name them; ideas like, “Beaver on a stick” and “She who eats beaver” where two of the many ideas.

Sunday was even hotter then Saturday, and there was no cloud cover or wind to provide any relief. It was so hot that even the public stayed home and the re-enactors where all huddled under flies or in the shade of trees to stay out of the heat. Fortunately no one went down from heat stroke. We did have a couple of close calls. I had been drinking water all day, and immediately sweating it out. A lady comes up to me and asks me, “How do you do it? How do you stay so cool when it’s hot out.” Me, “You get used to it.” Lady, “You’re not even sweating.” Me, just realizing she was right, “Yea, that’s called dehydration.” The lady looked at me surprised and walked off. I don’t know if she now believes everyone in 1756 dehydrated themselves on hot days or not. But I did get something to drink.

All weekend I had a bunch of re-enactors tell me I was daft (the polite version of what they really said) for wanting to change to the 1830’s. I don’t know what was more fun, arguing the history with them, or just watching them get flustered at me for even thinking of changing eras. In fact at one point I think Will was going to have a conniption fit on Saturday night.

Sunday night most of the campers packed up and left. We stayed so we could pack during the cooler morning hours on Monday. We were able to hang out with the River Scum and some new friends we made. We cooked many pork products over fire and had a good time.

For some pictures and other stories see the review at the Spoon and Blade.

Posted by Contagion at 06:44 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 29, 2006

The end of the world is not nigh!

My streak is alive and running. We had rain on Saturday! I knew it was all a practical joke! There is no way that my re-enacting on Memorial Day weekend is not going to pull down the wrath of Mother Nature on poor even coordinators that were foolish enough to let me set up camp! So, yes once again it rained on Contagion while re-enacting.

On the upside it was only on Saturday, when the temperatures were in the 90’s with 90% humidity. The rain was welcomed with the joy that only a re-enactor wearing wool and black canvas on a hot miserable day can understand. While the public was fleeing for shelter, every re-enactor I saw was relishing the rain like a nice long shower. Unfortunately, between the sweat, funk and sun block I don’t think a one of us actually got wet. Our natural water repellent kept us dry. Water was bending around us like light through a prism.

I would love to tell you more, but I’m baked. (Not from Drugs.) We packed and loaded the vehicles in upper 80 temps. I drove all the way home from Fort Atkinson (about an hour and 15 minutes from my house) with no AC so I could conserve on gas mileage. Then just unpacked the vehicles. But I did get some serious sun this weekend. Check out this nice sunburn. If you look closely you can see where my bonnet was as there is distinct line between burnt and unburnt flesh.

Sunburn 002.jpg

Once I’ve recouped I’ll give you all a worthy breakdown of what happened. Boy do I have stories for you!

Posted by Contagion at 07:12 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

May 25, 2006

Good weekend? I don't think so!

Something is wrong in the world. I don’t know if the planets are aligning correctly or if it’s a sign of the apocalypse. It’s Memorial Day weekend, I’m going to be out re-enacting. The weather services are calling for highs in the 90’s, lows in the mid 60’s, and no rain. NO. RAIN.

Do you know what the mathematical odds of that happening are? It would the equivalent of you winning the lottery! It rains on me over 75% of the events I do every year. Add to that the fact that there is a 90% chance that it will rain at least one of the days on Memorial Day Weekend.

At this point I just want to say goodbye to all my friends. I figure this must be the end of the world. It’s never that warm or nice up here on Memorial Day weekend. If the weather service is not playing a cruel, yet funny, joke on me, then this must be the end. Either that or I’m going to be struck down by a fluke storm in the middle of the night.

Posted by Contagion at 05:25 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

May 04, 2006

Gastro intestinal exclamation point.

I don’t have time to post an official review or pictures from last weekend, but I can give you a brief summary. When we arrived Thursday night we had an issue finding our camp. They had some goofy method of numbering and had us joined in with four other camps. It was rather confusing. After a good friend of ours, and committee member showed us where we where to go, we got everything set up. Thursday went pretty uneventful.

Friday was beautiful. The weather was nice and Boopie and I where able to get cartridges rolled for the battle re-enactment. He was very excited as this was going to be his first one. I bought him that rifle for his thirteenth birthday. During the day school kids were going from site to site (That had a demonstration) learning about different aspects of history. They had stopped by my site, but I had to move them on. I wasn’t doing a demonstration. As it was stated to me, “We love your display, and appreciate what your bring to this event. Unfortunately some of the teachers and parents don’t think distilling is a good demonstration for children, they don’t want you promoting alcohol. We know that’s not what you are doing, but the public can be narrow minded.” So I didn’t do my demonstration. No skin off of my back, it made for a relaxing day. That night we went into town (in costume) to a restaurant for dinner with some friends of ours. We had a good time, and watching people’s reaction to French Voyagers and Scottish Mercenaries invading a Chinese food restaurant was hilarious. That and we stunk of campfire and body odor.

When we returned to camp, I abandoned my family to visit some other camps. Ktreva stayed with Clone, we can’t leave him unattended in a tent… stupid modern laws! In 1756 I could have tied him to a tree and been okay! I visited the Roger’s Rangers camp and drank some of the most god awful homemade liquor on the face of the earth. Then I drank some of the stuff they made. I was up until almost 3:00 in the morning drinking and bullshiteing with my fellow re-enactors. Which isn’t a good idea when you have a 6:00 AM wake up call in the form of a 3 year old.

I felt a bit rough on Saturday and the crappy weather didn’t help any. I was nursing a bit of a sore head and upset stomach all day. Then around 12:30 I was talking to a group of people about distilling when a wave of nausea came over me. One of them asked, “Do you ever drink what you make?” (Which is water, it’s illegal to distill any liquor in the US with out a distiller-manufacturing license, and they are cost prohibitive.) Right as they asked that question, I responded with, “O’ course Aye do. I canno’ sell mah whiskay wi’ out samplin’ it first! Now excuse me, I think I’m going to get sick.” I took about ten steps through the crowd and proceeded to vomit all over the road. I whipped my mouth, walked back to my still and continued my presentation with out missing a beat. The public just stared at me like I was insane. The weird part was that I had bacon and eggs for breakfast, and that wasn’t in my vomit. Nope, it was mainly liquid with bits of rice from the night before, but no sign of bacon or eggs. I want to know how that happened.

That afternoon I took Boopie with me to his first battle. He was instructed on how to handle his rifle and to stay with me at all times. For the first 15 minutes of the battle I was busy making sure he was following the safety rules and not hurting himself or anyone else that I only got one shot off. He was so excited he kept forgetting the rules and I had to keep reminding him of what to do, including the proper way to hold a rifle. And that is how he got hurt. My son, in his first battle almost (wait for it)… shot his eye out. Instead of shouldering the rifle properly so that the butt was firm in his shoulder, he put the top of the butt in his armpit and brought his eye close to the barrel, “To aim”. I had told him 5 times that day not to hold it like that, but he kept doing it. The last time I was just yelling at him to hold the rifle correctly when he pulled the trigger. If you are familiar with Flintlocks, then you know that when you pull the trigger there is a small explosion in the pan by the hammer. If you didn’t know that, you do now. He caught black powder all along side his face. He was okay, a little more freckled and bloodshot eye. I sent him back to camp to have Ktreva check him out to make sure he was okay. After the battle I went back to check on him and he was okay, he was more worried I was mad at him then he was hurt.

That night the rain and wind got heavier. We were invited to numerous camps to socialize; however we had to turn them all down. We can’t leave Clone unattended. I offered to let Ktreva go out and I’d stay with the boy, but she didn’t want to. We ended up sitting around the fire just talking for a while, and then went over to a neighboring camp to join their festivities. That and they had a better set up to block the wind and rain.

Sunday morning we were awoken to the sounds of vehicles and people packing. I stepped out of the tent, found an even coordinator and confirmed they canceled the event. The weather was supposed to be worse then the day before, so they where letting people pack in and go home early. Ktreva and I took the break in the rain as a chance to break camp, pack up and get home so we could hang the wet canvas to dry.

We had a good time for the time we were out there. Although we are kind of saddened and worried. We found out that four re-enactors that we know are looking to sell off their gear and get out of re-enacting. There are a lot of people that have been either getting so old they retire or give up re-enacting of late. Not too many younger people are getting involved. Hell, Ktreva and I are pups in the re-enacting crowd. The average age for what we do has got to be 55, and that may be a young estimate. We just hope some younger people pick it up; I don’t want to have to find a new hobby.

Posted by Contagion at 06:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 30, 2006

Mother Nature is a Sadistic Witch.

We’re home early. Thursday set up went well and the weather was nice. Friday was nice, not too cold, no rain, just a little wind. Saturday morning we woke up the overcast skies and a chilly breeze. Around 1:00 PM the skies opened up and starting spitting on us. It wasn’t a heave rain, but enough to get everything damp. Then the wind started picking up. This made the day not only feel colder, but there was no place to stay dry. The wind would blow the rain under the flies. It also would make the fires throw sparks.

The wind got heavier all day and into the night. During the night the rain started coming down in buckets and the wind picked up enough that it frightened me out of dead sleep thinking the tent was blowing away. Trust me, if you’ve ever been tent camping, strong winds are not your friend. My tent is pretty sturdy and surrounded by other tents. I never took a direct hit from the wind all night, yet one time I woke up to my tent swaying in the wind. Fortunately I can report that there was no damage in my camp. One camp blew a loop, but nothing serious.

This morning we were wakened by the sounds of vehicles and hammering. Pulling myself out of the tent, I looked to see what was going on. There were cars all over camp. I talked with one of my neighbors and they advised that the even was canceled. They were calling for more rain and high winds all day.

I confirmed what I was told with one of the committee members. Thus Ktreva and I packed camp and headed home. It was nice to see some of our friends, but I really wish I had another day to do my re-enacting.

Posted by Contagion at 01:56 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 26, 2006

Give me a break.

We are packed and set. Everything is ready to go. Of course, can you guess what the weather is supposed to be like this weekend? Let me give you a hint:

Macktown Weather.JPG

Yep, that’s right. We are going to be rained on all weekend. That always makes for a fun event. We need the rain so that doesn’t bother me, but can’t it rain during the week and give me my re-enacting weekend just rain-free????

Eh, I guess I should be used to it by now. Over the last two years I’ve only had 5 events that we didn’t get rain. We do 8 events a year, that means only 31.25% of the events we’ve done, we didn’t get wet at.

Posted by Contagion at 05:55 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 25, 2006

Time to kill some Brits!

It’s officially here! The start of re-enacting season is upon us in the Contagion household. The last couple of days have been a whirlwind of making sure everything is pulled out of storage, inspected, and made ready for the opening weekend.

That is no small feat around here. If it was just me, I’d be able to pack everything I need in the CAB of my truck. When you throw in the family, it then takes my entire truck, the bed overflowing with equipment, and what’s left being packed into Ktreva’s van. It’s hard to tell from pictures, but we have a lot of gear. As the boys get older, we need even more. It also doesn’t help that Ktreva and me purchase more items that we find every year. It’s not because we need it, but because we want it.

To give you an example, this is our camp from two years ago this weekend (April 2004). It includes the smaller wedge tent behind our fly.

Camp Front.JPG
Click to Enlarge

This is our camp from the end of last season (October 2005), with out the wedge tent. (Boopie didn’t participate in this event so we didn’t bring his tent.)

TOH05 007.jpg
Click to Enlarge

Over a year and a half our camp dressing and equipment grew by that much. Since the time of the second picture, we’ve purchased more items to make our camp look nicer. If you’ve ever thought of becoming a re-enactor, let me share some information with you. This is not a cheap hobby. That is why we build our camp gradually, we buy what we want when we find it, and we can afford it. The nice thing is since we are in our ninth season; we rarely are in need of anything anymore. We’re finally in the stages of buying the want items… like the still! Maybe some year Ktreva will break down and let me buy one of those $4,000.00 custom made flintlock rifles I’ve been drooling over for years. What? A guy can dream can’t he?!?!

This weekend we are doing the Gathering at Macktown in Rockton, Illinois. I’ve attended this event for the last 8 years. We didn’t attend this event for the first time until our second year of re-enacting, and it is one of my favorites. Unfortunately there is only one event left on my schedule from my first season, Trail of History. All of the other events we did either folded, we stopped portraying that period of history or are just too far to travel too.

As I stated earlier, this is my ninth season as a re-enactor. That means this is my last rookie season. After this year I’ll actually be considered by some of the long time re-enactors as, “Not a greenhorn”. Ie, “I was over at Seamus MacPhail’s camp checking out his still. He’s come a long way since that first year when he was making people drink his bottle of Jack Daniel’s. He’s definitely not a green horn. Some of my readers who have seen my camp, or known me as a re-enactor might laugh at this and think I’m joking. I’m really not; I was called a “tenderfoot” just six months ago by one of those grizzled re-enactors.

I’m tired from all the lifting, so I’m going to hit the sack. If any of you are in the Rockton, Illinois area and want to experience some history, head on out to the Gathering at Macktown. I think you would definitely have a good time.

Posted by Contagion at 08:52 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 19, 2006

Day Off.

Well Contaminates, I’m home today. Now I’d love to regale you with a tale of how I was boldly standing up for my employees or calling down the inanity of management, thus I received another day off of work. And as much as I’m sure you’d love to read that story, it’s just not the case. Nope, today I’m home… all day because I’m having windows installed in the house. Someone has to be here for the contractor to come in and to pay the balance due.

I’m kind of hoping that the weather holds out and they finish relatively quickly so I can actually make something out of the day. I have start re-enacting in a week and a half and there is a lot of work to do. Well, okay there isn’t that much work to do. We are pretty much set. I do have to do some staining and treatment of a collapsible rifle/musket rack. All the equipment seems to be in good shape, nothing really needs repairs or replacing. However, if these guys take to long or we get the rain they are calling for, there will be no outdoor work for me today.

Part of me was thinking that I could get together with a friend or two and help the local economy by depleting an over abundance of beer. For reasons I just can’t fathom, I have the idea my wife would NOT be happy with that decision.

So if you see me around through out the day, making comments or just leaving tracks on site meters, don’t worry. Nothing happened, I’m just supervising some housework.

Posted by Contagion at 08:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 06, 2006

Tartan Day 2006

Today is Tartan Day. I wish I could write a larger post for it, stupid time constraints. For now I'm going to link all of my Gathering of the Blogs posts I made last year. Sorry, no orriginallity here. I didn't even wear my kilt to work.

Minced Callops
Barley with Mushrooms

What is a Jacobite?
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Highland Fashion Show

Just for a picture of me in a modern kilt, go to Who am I. Also if your curious about my Scotish family heritage, don't forget to check out my post about my ancestry.

For More Posts regarding Scotland and Tartan Day; follow the fiery cross to these sites:

of the Blogs 2006

Absinthe & Cookies
Not Exactly Rocket Science
Lintefiniel Musing
Villainous Company
The Pirate's Blog
Ninjababe's Ramble
Miasmatic Review
Misplaced Keys
Mixolydian Mode
The Bull Speaks!
Frizzen Sparks
Llama Butchers
Jenna Thomas-McKie
Physics Geek
Aaron's cc:
MB's Blogasm
Blackfive - The Paratrooper of Love
Swanky Conservative
MB's Blogalicious
Doggie's Blog
Target Centermass
Recipe Blog
Hilbilly White Trash
Miasmatic Review
Stix Blog
The Gun Line
what a sad old goth...
And then I woke up...

Posted by Contagion at 04:25 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 28, 2006

Gone in a bang.

Well I’m sure you are all sick and tired of my work updates. Unless that is the only reason you still come here, and then I’m sorry, I’m going to stray.

As you may recall a couple of weeks ago my wife and I went to a re-enacting trade fair. The main item I was looking for was a flintlock rifle for Boopie. I wanted to get a used one so that if he messed it up I wouldn’t be too upset. Since I knew I was going to be looking at used rifles, I grabbed my bore light (A light you slide down the muzzle of a rifle to make sure the inside of the barrel is not messed up.) before leaving. The bore light I have is supposed to fit .45 caliber rifles if I take the locking ring off.

While walking around at Kalamazoo, I found the perfect rifle for him. .45 caliber, flintlock, and the owner was only asking $200.00. Pulling out my trusty bore light I slide it into the barrel…. And it gets stuck about 5 inches down. I turned the rifle on the side knocked on it, tried pounding on the barrel, it would not move. Since I hadn’t found a better rifle I decided to purchase it, it helped that my bore light was stuck in the barrel. The guy was telling me how to get it out, which was a long convoluted method. I figured I’d just push some black powder through the touchhole and slowly blow it out. I’m talking a very small and light charge. There would be more powder in the pan than in the barrel.

The guy assured me that the rifle was clean and that he had used it numerous times. He swore up and down that he cleaned it at least once a month. From the 5 inches of the barrel I could see, it looked clean. I carried the rifle around for a while, and then decided to take it to the van so I would stop knocking things over on tables with it as I walked around. While I was out at the van, I turned the rifle muzzle side down and whacked it my steel toed boots a couple of times to see if the light would come out, it didn’t.

When we got home on Sunday I took the rifle out back to get the light out and really check it out. (I had bought a much smaller bore light). I poured a liberal amount of gun oil down the barrel and let is soak while I grabbed some other items. I decided to try knocking the light out first before blowing it out. I grabbed a chunk of 2 X 8 scrap, set it on the driveway and dropped the rifle muzzle down on it a couple of times. The third time the bore light slid right out. Then I slide the new smaller light down the barrel. Yep, it was pretty clean, a little surface rust but nothing bad. It took two wet patches and a dry before the barrel was perfect.

But there was still something wrong with it. When I was swabbing the barrel there was no sound of air bellowing through the touchhole. I cleaned the touchhole out with a pick and still nothing. When I poured cleaning solution down the barrel, nothing came out. Unfortunately bore lights don’t let you see the breach. I figured it was gummed up pretty bad. I had purchased Boopie a field rod and the tips for it as well. Much to my chagrin I had accidentally bought a breach scraper for a .50 call, not a .45. To see how gummed up the breach was I put the ball puller on the end of the field rod and ran it down the barrel. I could feel the grime at the bottom. I twisted a couple of times and I felt the bullet puller bite.

This can’t be right, breaches are not that soft. Pulling out the rod, I look at the ball puller. Sure enough there is metal shaving on it. What the hell? I put the rod back down the barrel and start twisting it. It bites again and keeps digging. Two thoughts cross my mine. The first is “That breach is screwed!” the second was, “ Wait, this thing can’t be loaded can it?” Using the rod puller I just purchased, I pulled the rod out after I had sunk it as far as I could go. Sure enough there is a .45 caliber round ball with patch on the end of my rod. There is unburned black powder on the patch.

That damn thing was loaded! Fully farking loaded! To say I was pissed would be like saying the sun has a mild glow. It’s near impossible for a flintlock to go off with out powder in the pan, nearly impossible. That doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. I had dry fired it a good doze times to test the lock and frizzen. I even did it in front of the guy. He also heard me say I was going to blow the light out, and didn’t say anything.

I can picture what would have happened. There I am in the back yard, I’m pushing about 5 grains worth of 4F powder through the touchhole. Gently I tap the side of the rifle so it is near breach. I pour powder in the pan, point the rifle at an upward angle and from the hip pull the trigger. Instead of a small pop and a brass light flying 5 feet, there is a large bang and somewhere in the city a lead ball takes out a family pet or member. Either that or the obstruction in the barrel (the bore light) causes the barrel to explode in my hands.

Yea, not a happy man at all. If I had a way to contact the guy that I bought the rifle from I would have, but I have nothing on him.

Just a reminder it is my turn to be interviewed at Basil’s Blog. The deadline for my questions is 04/02/06. That just under two weeks away. If you have any, you can send them to Basil at basil dot interviews AT gmail.com Subject: Questions for Contagion of Miasmatic review. Or you could just click the link.

Posted by Contagion at 06:49 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

March 19, 2006


We just got back from the Kalamazoo Living History Show. If you are re-enactor of any period, I highly recommend attending. They have just about anything and everything under the sun. This weekend also served as a celebration weekend for Ktreva and me. Tomorrow is our first day in our new positions, but enough on that, lets get back to the meat and potatoes of this post, the show.

Friday we left work and had the adventure of driving through Chicago on Saint Patrick’s Day. People. Let me give you some advice, unless you HAVE to go to Chicago on St. Pat’s, avoid it like the plague. It didn’t help that our esteemed (cough) governor has all the toll ways being revamped for his new I-pass system. I-pass in and of itself is not a bad program. Ripping out every tollbooth at the same time to make it more efficient caused a crapload of unnecessary back ups.

We arrived in Paw Paw, Michigan at 5:30 (local, stupid time zones) were we stopped at Gallagher’s Pub and Eatery. (Exit 60 on 94) We discovered this place last year on accident; it is now a destination spot for us if we are passing through. Great food, good beer, decent prices, you can’t go wrong with that combination. Folks, let me just tell you the corned beef and cabbage was excellent. After eating we proceeded to Kalamazoo, checked in our hotel, had a couple of drinks and hit the sack.

Saturday we hit the show. We went last year and couldn’t believe it. This year we were just as impressed. The only thing we couldn’t find was a corset for Ktreva. There was a lady at the show last year that made customized period corsets, unfortunately this year she wasn’t there. We spoke with some friends we saw there both vendors and re-enactors, they were surprised the corset lady wasn’t there. Hopefully nothing bad happened to her.

I went looking to buy a rifle for Boopie. He’s turning 13 this year and I felt that as a right of manhood he should have his first firearm. This is where life gets tricky. There where all kinds of black powder firearms at this show, ranging from about $150 to $5,000.00. I was able to find a nice starter flintlock .45 caliber rifle for Boopie around $200.00. There are some funny stories about this rifle, but that is for another post. I tried talking Ktreva into letting me buy a rifle I found that I liked. She however decided that I did NOT need to drop $3,500.00 on this custom .50 cal. She also wouldn’t let me buy any more artillery. There was a guy there selling some brass cannons and mortars that was willing to give me a great price on a brass swivel gun with a 2-inch bore. Her theory was that I already had an artillery piece; I don’t need another. I’m going to remember that the next time she decides she needs another hat for out at the events.

Don’t get me wrong I didn’t come home empty handed. Besides the rifle for Boopie, I was also able to finally find a period correct bonnet. It wasn’t black like I wanted, but Jacobite Blue is just as good. Ktreva also purchased a bunch of stuff for herself. Really people, if you are looking for someplace to get those hard to find re-enacting items. You can get it at Kalamazoo. I don’t know if I’m going to need or want anything next year, but we’ll be back. Even if it is just to see what the new items on the market are.

Posted by Contagion at 04:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 06, 2006

Yet another looker.

Guys, have you ever thought about getting into re-enacting? Have you not been able to find that motivation to start? Let me help you out. Our latest Mortar Maiden, Ms. March 2006 Maisie MacRae, is ready for your perusing. That’s right, if you re-enact you meet beautiful ladies like her and the other maidens.

Posted by Contagion at 06:18 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 01, 2006

Beautiful Girls.

It’s the beginning of the month, so we all know what that means, Mortar Maiden Time!

This month we have yet another lovely Scottish Lass, Rosslyn MacKinnon. Go see Ms. February and see if you can meet her standards!

Posted by Contagion at 06:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 30, 2006

Do I count?

Eric of Straight White Guy talks about his brother making a 30 mm cannon, at the end of it he asks “I mean, c’mon… how many friends do you have who own their own artillery?...” Reading that I instantly thought of three people, four counting myself.

I’m sure by now all of you are familiar with the Howling Jezebel, my half scale mortar that I use with the mortar maidens. Of course, this isn’t a cannon, but it is still artillery. It can launch a cement filled pop can over a half a mile. Someday I’m going to get to test that out; I just have to find someone that will let me launch cement filled pop cans on their property. I’m so used to having it around the house, that I don’t think twice about it. Nor do I find it unusual that I actually own a piece of artillery. Then again, I don’t find it unusual that I have more swords than firearms in my house, and I’m currently up to twelve firearms counting black powder.

Having items like that around really distorts your sense of “normal”. Once I upset some females at work because they where talking about people breaking into houses and I said, “I’m not worried about it, I sleep with a battle axe.” One of the females gasped and said, “You shouldn’t talk about Ktreva like that!” After I was finished laughing I explained that no, I really have a real battle-axe next to my bed (well I did at that time, I know have a Roman Gladius). I don’t think about it too often, but I have weapons all over the house. Guns, swords, knives, axes, daggers, flails, pole arms and artillery, now I’m wondering if people who come to my house get a little nervous with all the various accoutrements of violence around.

Anyway, I went off on a tangent there. The other three people I know that own artillery are all also re-enactors. I guess we are a “special” breed. Oh and all the artillery we own is from the French and Indian war to the Civil War. Nothing with modern shells, maybe that disqualifies us from Eric’s question.

Posted by Contagion at 06:55 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 24, 2006

It's a powerful fever!

I’m not doing well, I’m pretty sick. Maybe it is stress that is causing my illness, I don’t know. Last night I barely slept, my illness kept me from being able to calm down and get comfortable. The flu sucks, but I have the worst kind of flu. I have the rondyflu. (Rondyflu: That sick feeling you get in the winter when there are no rendezvous/re-enactments to attend.) I’m sicker THAN (There you go Ragingmom, just for you ;)) a dog.

My last re-enactment was October 15, 16 and 17. That was over three months ago! My first real re-enactment isn’t until April 28, 29 30, that’s 94 days, 14 hours and 44 minutes away (at the time of this writing, No I didn’t calculate that, it’s on my side bar.) That my, fine contaminants, is over 3 months away! I have two trade shows I do coming up, one in February and the other in March. They take the edge off, but it won’t break the fever.

It’s gotten bad too. Just yesterday, when Ktreva was distracted by Clone, I snuck down to the basement. Finding my clothing box, I opened it up. The scent of campfire, black powder and leather came wafting out. A smile spread across my face as my eyes rolled back into my head. Memories came flooding back.

Memories of past re-enactments, of friends, of good times of good food and good spirits filled my brain. Burying my face in my clothes, I took a big whiff. The smells, the glorious and wonderful smells of campfire and grass, of pipe tobacco and bacon, of body odor and funk… Apparently, I had forgotten to wash my clothes after the last re-enactment. Even when you wash them, they will still smell of campfire, pipe tobacco and other woodland scents. Opening the box and smelling that isn’t unusual. Smell what I lovingly refer to as “Arse and funk” can be a very unpleasant surprise.

The sad part is that the rondyflu has sat in so firmly that it didn’t prevent me from going in for a second whiff

Posted by Contagion at 12:39 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

January 05, 2006

She's a cutie.

Over at the Spoon and Blade we have up our latest Mortar Maiden. Go check out Anice McPhie Ms. January 2006.

I was contemplating on doing a Mortar Maiden of the Year, but I don't know exactly how I could do that. Plus I'm worried their may be some favoritism as Ms. January 2005 is my wife.

UPDATE: Just for Tammi, I'm going to see if I can't get Ms. January and Tammi together for an Artistic photo shoot. Based soley on Tammi's comment.

Posted by Contagion at 06:53 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

November 03, 2005

It's not pudding, but it'll do.

Over at the Spoon and Blade we have the latest Mortar Maiden, Fiona MacLennan ready and waiting for you.

Remember ladies we are always looking for new Mortar Maidens every month.

Posted by Contagion at 04:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 29, 2005

Trail of History

I've been a little busy and I had forgotten to update the Spoon and Blade in a while. If you want to see some pictures of my new still and a complete review of our weekend at Trail of History, you can check them out here.

Posted by Contagion at 11:32 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 17, 2005

Yea, that's the stuff.

We returned from Trail of History last night, we had a blast. This was probably one of my best re-enacting weekends I had in the last 8 years. Since I had left my re-enacting group, we had to re-jury into the event. That meant the event staff and coordinators were scrutinizing us. We did good, word is they were very impressed by our display. In fact I was told we were one of the three most popular displays in camp this year.

Why were we so popular? For the first time I ran the still. We had it set up and making whisky… well okay I was distilling water due to federal law. However, the public didn’t need to know that, and back in 1756 there were no laws about that in the frontier. Thus, I told them all I was making whisky. The interaction I had was wonderful. Other re-enactors would try to trade me for whisky through out the day. And I even walked to some of the other trader displays with gallons of “whisky” to trade them for supplies I needed. What was great about the whole experience was the fact that everyone was curious as to what I was doing.

When public would go walking past, sometimes they would do a double take at the still to make sure they saw correctly. One of the hooks I would use to draw in public was when I saw someone do that I would say, “Yes, that is what you think it is. And yes I am.” The smiles on their faces would spread ear to ear, especially the guys. That’s not to say I didn’t have a lot of women and even children stand there for my 15-minute spiel.

What I found even more satisfying was at the end of the event being told by re-enactors that had been doing this for 15+ years that they thought my display was great. They had never seen anyone do distilling before AND they couldn’t believe no one ever thought about it. They liked my camp, display and spiel so much I was invited to join one of the old guard re-enacting groups, a group that is considered an institution of re-enacting in our area. They have set standards in Historical and Period correct displays at three of the events I do. I was very honored to have been asked to join. However, I declined their offer. After explaining that I left one group and had no desire to join another group at this time, they all understood. They then told me to take a year or two and if I change my mind the offer is open.

The only problem I had this weekend was a severe lack of time. There was a shortage of people willing to fight in the battle this weekend. On Saturday they scheduled a walk through of the battlefield at 12:30 with the battle at 2:00. That took me out of camp a lot. If they hadn’t been short of fighters I probably wouldn’t have gone. Some of you that have read me for a while know how much I love doing the battles, so you are probably asking yourselves, “Why would you not do what you love?” Simply because when I left at 12:20 to get to the battlefield I had to turn no less then 20 people away from my camp. I gave a brief talk about distilled spirits in the frontier and then explained I had to go “kill some Brits”. A large part of me wanted to stay in camp just to talk to the public, to educate them on distilling AND distilled spirits in the frontier.

That is why I had started re-enacting and I had lost that feeling over the last 3 years. This weekend brought it back. Numerous friends of mine at this event saw me and commented on how happy I looked. I guess Homer Simpson was correct when he said, “Alcohol – the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems.”

Oh and yes I did get a lot of comments on how it was “appropriate” that I, the surly Scotsman, was running the still. People that have known me and all the re-enacting stories about me (including a certain Jack Daniel’s incident), found it highly amusing.

Posted by Contagion at 10:36 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 05, 2005

A red head with a bang

Over at the Spoon and Blade we have the lastest Mortar Maiden ready for your viewing. Go over and see Ms. October, Shelagh.

Remember ladies (And ladies only!), If you are interested in becoming a Mortar Maiden, we are always looking for volunteers!

Posted by Contagion at 07:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 27, 2005

Picking the wrong event.

When deciding what re-enactments I do each year, I consider many things. There are three factors: A) My own past experiences at this event. Did I enjoy it or was it bad? If it was bad, was it because of something outside the events control (weather, bad experience with the public, natural disaster, etc) or was it their fault (lack of planning, no water/wood/restrooms, poorly organized, overly demanding). 2) Recommendations from other re-enactors. If another re-enactor recommends I try an event, this weighs heavily in my decision. Especially if it is a re-enactor, I know really well. If there are multiple re-enactors recommending that I try the same event. D) Do I have anything else going on that weekend? Am I free that weekend or do I already have plans? Sometimes I will change my plans to do an event, depending on what is going on. 4) How far away from my house is it? I no longer do re-enactments that are more then a 3-hour drive from my house. It’s too much of a hassle to drive that long and set up only to have to tear down, load, drive back and put away all my equipment at the end of the day. This is a hobby I do to relax, not to run myself ragged. As it is, I usually take the Monday after each event off work.

For this last weekend, my formula went all to hell. I participated in an event I had never done before called Frenchman’s Frolic. For the last 4 years, I had done the Belvidere Pioneer Festival on this weekend instead. I should have stuck with my instincts this weekend and done Belvidere instead. Frenchman’s was a complete bust. Lets break it down using my formula A) I had never done Frenchman’s. Belvidere I had done for 4 years and always had fun and enjoyed the event, other then rain issues I don’t recall having a bad time there. 2) I have had many re-enactors I have known for years tell me how great Frenchman’s is. The only people that have told me they like Belvidere are the ones that still participate in it. D) Both are within 10 minutes of my house. 4) I had planned on doing Belvidere as a given event all the way up to Clan Chattan getting together to go over the schedule of the year. Then I changed to try to keep group harmony and from the way people where talking in the group I was trying to protect my reputation as well. (I think we all know how well that went! IE I left the group back in June).

Based on my formula I normally would have done Belvidere. My formula didn’t fail; I failed my formula. Let me tell you why:

The members of Clan Chattan that read this site will remember the heated discussion had about what event we did, Belvidere or Frenchman’s. I was told that it was a live fire camp with shooting competitions, many vendors, it’s a re-enactment just for re-enactors (very little public, so it’s really relaxed), a lot of people participate at it. I can honestly say I was serious misled. I was able to shoot for a total of 5 minutes at the post shoot. The rain was part of the factor in this. After the post shoot the range was closed for the bow competition. The way they talked it sounded like they where NOT going to reopen the range that day, rain or shine. I wanted to shoot, that was the main reason I wanted to go. They did open it up later in the day at 6:20 PM; the sunset on Saturday was around 6:50, with all the cloud cover it was too dark to shoot by 6:35. I wasn’t about to get my musket dirty again for 15 minutes of shooting. It never opened again.

As for the vendors, there wasn’t a single one there. No food vendors, no shooting supply vendors, nothing! There was also less then 20 camps there. I was told that one of the larger national events moved to this weekend and most of the vendors went to that. However, no one is sure where all the other re-enactors went. There was a lot of speculation, but no one knew for sure. It was a very quite camp, really sober somber.

It didn’t help that it rained most of the day on Saturday AND Sunday. It also didn’t help that both Ktreva and Clone got sick Saturday night and where up all night vomiting. I tried to warn her not to let Clone drink from THAT bottle, but she wouldn’t listen! That’s a joke people! They had some kind of food poisoning. Something that I didn’t eat, which left one culprit, bad apples.

Ktreva was bored out of her mind the entire weekend. There was nothing for her to do there except watch Clone. At least with vendors, you can go on a walk about and see what they have, even if you aren’t buying.

As for me, I joined in the post shoot... I was on the third place (second loser) team, which won me a beer. Hey, free beer is good. For those of you that don’t know, a post shoot is a competition to shoot a 2X4 in half in the shortest amount of time. My friend Jim, his father, his son and his friend that camped with them where the team that won, for the fourth straight year. On Sunday, I watched the second half of the bow shoot. (It was postponed on Saturday due to rain) and on Sunday I was in the Tomahawk throw.

The point of the ‘hawk competition is to cut a playing card in half with a single throw of a tomahawk AND have it stick in the block. I would have won, I cut the card in half, but my ‘hawk didn’t stick. The block was hard and everyone was having trouble with getting their ‘hawks to stick. I wasn’t able to duplicate that feat.

After the tomahawk throw, we packed up camp and went home. You know an event went bad when you where home, unpacked, had the wet canvas hung and were able to watch the fourth quarter of a noon game. Normally I’m lucky to get all of that done and be able to see kick off the Sunday night game.

If it weren’t for the fact that our friend Jim and his camp was there the entire weekend would have completely and utterly sucked. Most of the camps were spread far apart and separated from one another. There just wasn’t the camaraderie there that was at most of the other events. This again may be in part due to the rain, but I don’t think so. Saturday the rain was finished sometime around 5:00 PM.

I don’t know if I’ll do this event next year or not to be honest with you. I’m thinking about joining the club so any friend with me and I can go shooting there anytime we want. If I do that, then I think I’ll have to go back. If I don’t join, I’ll probably go back to Belvidere.

Posted by Contagion at 04:47 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 12, 2005

Shorted rounds and Cleaning firearms.

It was a long weekend for me. I’m having issues at work, so last Friday I had the day off. A little “vacation” if you will. It was nice because I was able to stay out late Thursday night to catch the New England/Raiders game and not have to worry about getting up for work the next day. Ironically, I was up at the same time as if I was going to work due to my truck blocking my wife’s van in the driveway. Once I was up, I couldn’t fall back to sleep.

Friday was spent with me running around running some errands I’ve been putting off. I finally picked up my new modem as well as a package from a shooting supply house. On Sept 2nd I had ordered 100 .710 caliber and 100 .730 caliber round ball for my musket. I have a shoot on September 23, 24 and 25th here in Rockford. When I picked up the package, it only had the .710 round ball in it to my annoyance. When I got home I quickly fired off an e-mail to the supply house inquiring as to where the .730 round ball is and if it is on back order, why didn’t they bother to tell me that when I ordered it. I’m still waiting on their response. Unfortunately, I have limited places to order that caliber of round ball from or I would have ordered from somewhere else.

Friday night I finished making my bullet bag. I cheated a little and used one of nature’s natural creations as the base of the bag, a bull scrotum. That’s right my ball bag is a “ball bag”. I hand sewed a drawstring leather cap onto it and it was ready for use. Maybe later I’ll post a picture of it for you all to see. I thought I did a fine job on it.

Saturday it was time to dismantle my black powder firearms and give them a thorough cleaning. The locks on both my Blunderbuss and Brown Bess (musket) where rather rusty due to the high humidity. My Brown Bess needed a good cleaning since I do most of my black powder shooting with it and there was a lot of black powder residue stick in the hard to get to parts. The lock came apart with relative ease, however I ran into a snag putting it back together.

Last week Clone, being his curious self, got his hands on my Bess and knocked it over. Initially when I inspected it, I didn’t find anything wrong. While reattaching the frizzen spring it snapped. (For those of you that don't know, a Frizzen spring is what is used to hold the Frizzen closed on a flintlock. The Frizzen is the metal part that covers the pan that holds black powder in place. When the hammer comes forward, the flint strikes the frizzen causing a spark and flipping the frizzen open to ignite the powder.) Upon closer inspection, I could see this was not a stress fracture. When Clone knocked it over it must have landed just right and put a crack into it. It’s the only way to explain how it broke. Last October I had the main spring on my musket snap because of a weakness of the spring, the fractures look nothing alike. Stress fractures tend to be more smooth and straight where this one was jagged and crooked. That meant I had to order yet another part for my Bess. At least I know I will have the part by Friday at the latest.

Other then that incident everything went well. I was able to finish my cleaning with out a problem. Normally I do the cleaning the weekend or week before a re-enactment. Next weekend I’m heading to Green Bay for the Packer/Browns game, so I did it a weekend early. This saved me from having to discover the broken spring too late to be able to get a replacement part.

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September 06, 2005

Ms. September is here!

Over at the Spoon and Blade we have our latest Mortar Maiden ready to be reviewed. Go check out the delightfully delicious Davina Baillie.

Remember, you can't go wrong with girls and artillary... even if it is primitive artillary.

Posted by Contagion at 05:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 27, 2005

...it's how you say it.

Bou made a post regarding how some people will adapt their pronunciation of words and speech patterns to match those they are speaking. Ever since I can remember, I called this having an elastic voice. The individual’s voice will stretch to conform to those they are speaking. Sometimes this is a good thing because I feel it makes for smoother communication between two people from different regions. Then again, this can be a bad thing as someone may think you are ridiculing them. Bou refers to a story I told her about an incident that happened to me six years ago. This story explains why if you have an elastic voice, you may want to keep it in check.

Seven years ago, I started working for my current company as a Customer Service Representative. Most of my day was spent with me answering phone calls from customers (usually angry) and assisting them with their questions. Anybody that has been reading me for a while knows that I have a deep hatred of phones. It had already been issue by the time I started working here, but it has only gotten worse.

I was in my second season of re-enacting. At that time, we did more Elizabethan times Scots at most of the events. We had Renn Faires, Highland Games and Celtic fests that made up most of our schedule. For our shows, I was Seamus MacPhail, Lord Master of Arms. Most of the spoken words were mine. My days were filled with my rehearsing lines and giving speaking parts in a Scottish Brogue. (It’s a Burr if you want to be technical). To this day I’m very proud of the fact that I have six different regional brogues that I can speak in, from an easily understandable Lowland to a very thick, barely comprehendible Highland. When I’m at events, I tend to talk in a brogue for most of the weekend, especially if there is public around.

Whenever I hear someone with a Scottish accent, my first instinct is to kick into my brogue that best matches theirs. Since mainly this happens at a re-enactment it was never an issue. When you are answering calls at a customer service center, it is a problem.

I had been working as a customer service representative for about a year. I was in my third year of re-enacting. That was the heaviest scheduled year I have ever had. I would slip into a Scottish brogue if I heard someone on television use one. If Sean Connery were on the screen, I’d instantly go into one. You can imagine what happened when I was at work and took a call from a customer that had just moved here from Scotland.

Answering the phone in my normal voice, we started our conversation. Less then 30 seconds into the call, I’m in this thick Scottish brogue and I didn’t even realize it. The member interrupts what I was saying to him and angrily berates me for making fun of him. At this point, I realized what had happened. After spending about 5 minutes getting the customer calmed down I explained to him that I was a re-enactor, part of a group that Portrays Clan Chattan during the Jacobite Rebellions. This calmed the gentleman down due to his curiosity being peeked.

He started asking questions about what we did and where. When he moved from Scotland he never imagined that American’s of Scottish decent would still re-enact and portray that part of Scottish history here. By the time I finished explaining, he was laughing about the whole incident and understood how it could happen. When I asked him how my brogue was, he told me it was very good. I only had to clean up some vowel pronunciations. Other then that he told me I could have very easily passed as a Scot. With his help my brogue improved so much that I’ve had multiple Scots actually ask me where I was from at a re-enactment. After I helped him with his question, He even inquired he could join my group. Of course I said he could, unfortunately he lived in St. Louis and was too far away.

From that time on I always controlled my voice better. I still slip from time to time, like when we went on vacation to Kansas. My in-laws have a soft southern accent; I started to pick that up. Nevertheless, I have never slipped back into a brogue unintentionally.

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August 23, 2005

It isn't all pretty!

Last weekend I participated in the Galesburg Heritage Days Festival. If you want to see some pictures and a thorough review of the high points go over to the Spoon and Blade and read the review of the event.

For my loyal readers, let me add a couple of stories that I didn’t include on the review over there.

Last year when Grau and LittlJoe flipped their canoe out in the middle of the lake, I gave them crap about it for most of the last year. In doing so I must have pissed off the poetic justice fairy. When Maeldun and I hit the water with the canoe all was well, then I swear to god I tripped on something under the water and down I went. I was soaked from head to toe, except for one shoulder. It was my turn to catch crap for falling in the stinky lake for the rest of the weekend. Fortunately I fell in on Sunday!

Ktreva didn’t sleep too well on Friday night. She tried to take a nap in the tent, unfortunately during a re-enactment that is very difficult to do, especially with two boys running around camp. When she came out of the tent, I was in the next camp talking to Will and drinking a beer… Yes it was 2 in the afternoon what’s your point? So what if there was still public there, my persona is surly Scotsman. I was just trying to play the part! Anyway… she came over and I told her she didn’t need to get up yet, this was the following conversation:

Ktreva: I can’t sleep.

Me: Just pretend I’m trying to have sex with you. You don’t seem to have a problem falling asleep then.

Ktreva: When you’re trying to have sex with me there usually isn’t a 2-year-old running around outside the door screaming, “Fire in the Hole”.

Me: Nope, that’s usually me yelling, “Fire in the Hole!”

This is one of the few events that actually have showers for the re-enactors to use. Ktreva went to take a shower and I watched the kids. When she came back she kept telling me I needed to go shower. Were as I promptly informed her, “Real men don’t shower out at ‘vous” and I asked Will to confirm that. A sheepish green spreads across his face and he says in a very feminine voice, “I’m a real man, and I took a shower”. Ktreva then told me that if I wanted to yell, “Fire in the Hole” later that night I better take a shower now… I showered for the first time at a ‘vous.

One of the root beer vendors in the Civil War camp was selling onion bottles filled with homemade root beer and fizzes for only $8.00. They are smaller mass produced onion bottles, but they will go well with my still. I ended up walking the ½ mile to the Civil War camp to purchase two of them. On Sunday I walked back with Boopie to refill them for $1.00… Damn their Cream Fizz was good.

For the first time ever I saw a fight break out between two re-enactors. I swear to god I thought one of them was going to stab the other with a tent stake. People that knew both of them settled it rather quickly and they kissed and made up… literally. I’m still a little skeeved by that. At least there was no tongue, if there had been I would have had to come home early.

There was an artist that participated in this event for the first time this year. He painted cow skulls with various designs. Virtue and Ktreva named him Ugg because he walked around wearing a caveman outfit. It was a leather loincloth and a leather half top poncho. The loincloth didn’t cover much at all; think of Tarzan. To make matters worse they guy was pasty white. He made fish belly look tanned. Sitting in front of his lodge (at least it was canvas) on a lawn chair wearing sunglasses he was trying to sell his “art”. Event People addressed this with him and he covered up the chair and put the glasses away. His skulls also had modern designs on it. I believe I heard he would not be back next year.

Faire Wynds was hired to perform at this event. They are a 17th century style circus. They had some really neat acts. On Saturday night they did a “Fire Show”. Even Clone settled down to watch the entire show. If you ever get a chance to see them perform, trust me it’s worth it.

We went over to see the night firing of artillery. This was in the Civil War camp and was quite a hike carrying a 2 year old. I wish I could say it was worth the walk, but Maeldun, Virtue, Ktreva, Boopie and I where very disappointed. Clone found it interesting, but it was loud and had fire, of course it was to him.

Clone did is normal scream on the way down and back. Which didn’t help the headache I had on Sunday.

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August 17, 2005

Activate the wayback machine!

My lovely wife mailed off the paperwork for Trail of History yesterday morning. It’s not due for another couple of weeks, but I figured with everything else that is going on, I should get it in as soon as possible. After all the work and trouble I had to get into this event, I sure the hell don’t want to miss it because I forgot to mail in the paperwork!

I have the Galesburg Heritage Festival this weekend. Tonight I’m making sure all the equipment is packed and all the supplies purchased. With both boys coming, that is just more gear that needs to come with. Fortunately with my truck I can haul all we need in one vehicle, so we don’t need to caravan down with both my truck and my wife’s van. Especially since, it is about a 150-mile trip, that’s just extra gas I don’t need to be burning.

For food, we are going to be eating like kings again. Saturday morning my lovely and talented wife is making her special Scotch Eggs for us and a couple of friends that I promised could have some. Ktreva is going to make Ruble de thump, which is like colcannon. When we were on vacation, we picked up some meat from a smokehouse we found. We have landjager, pfefferwurst, pepperoni and pickled ham (Don’t knock the ham until you try it! Clone ate five huge serving spoonfuls of it at dinner one night). Sunday my wife is making her signature biscuits and gravy for breakfast. My wife makes some of the best biscuits and gravy I’ve ever had.

The trip down should be interesting. Even after vacation, Clone doesn’t like riding in vehicles. He does tend to riding in the truck better then the van. We aren’t sure why, the only thing we have come up with is that he likes sitting up that high. We thought maybe it was the car seat at first, but we put that into the van and he still didn’t ride well. To make matters even more difficult on us, the major highway I need to take is under construction. I’m currently trying to find an alternative route that will help cut down the time on the road. The toll way happens to be the best and quickest way. Being stuck at 45-55 mph isn’t going to exactly speed up the trip. After all is done, tonight I’m sitting down with my maps, a calculator, measuring devices and paper to calculate my best routes.

Posted by Contagion at 03:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 16, 2005

Bootlegging... denied!

After doing much research and with a couple of tips via e-mail, this is what I've found via the BATF.

Budwieser actually had a good article on it, and I couldn't paraphrase it better, so I'm copying what they said:

Distillation of Alcohol and Stills

Under Federal rules administered by ATF, the legality depends on how you use a still. You may not produce alcohol unless you qualify as a distilled spirits plant (see ATF FAQ's page at their web site.) However, owning a small still and using it for other purposes is allowed. You should also check with your State and local authorities - their rules may differ.

A still is defined as apparatus capable of being used to separate ethyl alcohol from a mixture that contains alcohol. Small stills (with a cubic distilling capacity of a gallon or less) that are used for laboratory purposes or for distilling water or other non-alcoholic materials are exempt from our rules. If you buy a small still and use it to distill water or extract essential oils by steam or water extraction methods, you are not subject to ATF requirements. If you produce essential oils by a solvent method and you get alcohol as a by-product of your process, ATF considers that distilling. Even though you are using and recovering purchased alcohol, you are separating the alcohol from a mixture -distilling.

Under regulations in part 170 of title 27, Code of Federal Regulations, ATF has the right to require manufacturers of stills to give them the name and address of each customer. If they choose to impose this requirement, they inform the manufacturer of the stills by letter.

Some people are under the misconception that all home alcohol production is illegal. Below are the legal guidelines for home production of beer and wine.

Sec. 24.75
Wine for personal or family use

(a) General. Any adult may, without payment of tax, produce wine for personal or family use and not for sale.
(b) Quantity. The aggregate amount of wine that may be produced exempt from tax with respect to any household may not exceed:
(1) 200 gallons per calendar year for a household in which two or more adults reside, or
(2) 100 gallons per calendar year if there is only one adult residing in the household.
(c) Definition of an adult. For the purposes of this section, an adult is any individual who is 18 years of age or older. However, if the locality in which the household is located has established by law a greater minimum age at which wine may be sold to individuals, the term ``adult'' will mean an individual who has attained that age.
(d) Proprietors of bonded wine premises. Any adult, defined in Sec. 24.75(c), who operates a bonded wine premises as an individual owner or in partnership with others, may produce wine and remove it from the bonded wine premises free of tax for personal or family use, subject to the limitations in Sec. 24.75(b).
(e) Limitation. This exemption should not in any manner be construed as authorizing the production of wine in violation of applicable State or local law. Except as provided in Sec. 24.75(d), this exemption does not otherwise apply to partnerships, corporations, or associations.
(f) Removal. Wine produced under this section may be removed from the premises where made for personal or family use including use at organized affairs, exhibitions or competitions, such as home winemaker's contests, tastings or judgings, but may not under any circumstances be sold or offered for sale. The proprietor of a bonded wine premises shall pay the tax on any wine removed for personal or family use in excess of the limitations provided in this section and shall also enter all quantities removed for personal or family use on ATF F 5120.17, Report of Bonded Wine Premises Operations.
(Sec. 201, Pub. L. 85-859, 72 Stat. 1331, as amended (26 U.S.C. 5042))
(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 1512-0216)
[T.D. ATF-299, 55 FR 24989, June 19, 1991, as amended by T.D. ATF-338, 58 FR 19064, Apr. 12, 1993; T.D. ATF-344, 58 FR 40354, July 28, 1993]

This was last updated on September 17, 1999

Sec. 25.205
Production of Beer

(a) Any adult may produce beer, without payment of tax, for personal or family use and not for sale. An adult is any individual who is 18 years of age or older. If the locality in which the household is located requires a greater minimum age for the sale of beer to individuals, the adult shall be that age before commencing the production of beer. This exemption does not authorize the production of beer for use contrary to State or local law.
(b) The production of beer per household, without payment of tax, for personal or family use may not exceed:
(1) 200 gallons per calendar year if there are two or more adults residing in the household, or (2) 100 gallons per calendar year if there is only one adult residing in the household.
(c) Partnerships except as provided in Sec. 25.207, corporations or associations may not produce beer, without payment of tax, for personal or family use.
(Sec. 201, Pub. L. 85-859, 72 Stat. 1334, as amended (26 U.S.C. 5053))

This was last updated on September 17, 1999

Sec. 25.206
Removal of beer

Beer made under Sec. 25.205 may be removed from the premises where made for personal or family use including use at organized affairs, exhibitions or competitions such as homemaker's contests, tastings or judging. Beer removed under this section may not be sold or offered for sale.
(Sec. 201, Pub. L. 85-859, 72 Stat. 1334, as amended (26 U.S.C. 5053))

Sec. 25.207
Removal from brewery for personal or family use.

Any adult, as defined in Sec. 25.205, who operates a brewery under this part as an individual owner or in partnership with others, may remove beer from the brewery without payment of tax for personal or family use. The amount of beer removed for each household, without payment of tax, per calendar year may not exceed 100 gallons if there is one adult residing in the household or 200 gallons if there are two or more adults residing in the household. Beer removed in excess of the above limitations will be reported as a taxable removal.
(Sec. 201, Pub. L. 85-859, 72 Stat. 1334, as amended (26 U.S.C. 5053))

That means there will be no making of whisky in my house. I kind of figured as much, but now I know. This sucks as I was starting to really want to try it out.

Posted by Contagion at 12:56 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

August 15, 2005

Watchin' out for the revenuers.

It’s time for my next re-enactment. Before you say anything, yes I realized I just got back in town and I’m leaving again. We are really looking forward to this weekend. I know I say that before every re-enactment that I do, but it’s true. If we didn’t enjoy doing it, we wouldn’t.

My new still will not be coming with for this event. I’ve pretty much resigned myself to the fact that Trail of History will be the first time I take it to an event. There are other supplies I need before I can demonstrate with it. Mainly I need oak barrels and kegs for the mash and finished product, or at least a facsimile of the finished product. Due to various Federal, State and local laws I won’t be making whisky at the events. There also won’t be enough time for me to make real whisky at an event. I have to give the mash time to ferment and I can’t do that in 2-day weekend. While I could always have the mash fermenting at home and transport it to the events, I decided not to do that either. I could just see me spilling the mash all over my other gear. I’m just not willing to risk it.

I do need to do some research into the legality of actually distilling in Illinois. My research to this point ended with my confirming that just owning a still is not illegal, and since I’m using it for educational purposes, I’m also covered. However, if I decided I wanted to try actually to make some whisky one time, can I? Right away, some of you are going to say yes, and tell me I can make up to a certain amount. Different people have given me various amounts I can make for personal consumption. My response to that is; where can I find this in the law? There are three distinct different ways to make alcohol, brewing, fermenting and distilling. I’ve found legislation on brewing and fermenting (making beer and wine); however, I have found nothing on distilling, yet.

There is also the fun issue that each state may have a different law on distilling. What you can do in West Virginia may not be the same as here in Illinois. Plus, once you get inside the state, there is always the possibility that a local ordinance restricts you even further. What I’m mainly concerned about is the Federal and Illinois state law. Local ordinances are something I can contact the city attorneys about details. What I don’t want to do is contact the State’s Attorney’s office regarding this with out prior information on the law. Why bring down unwanted attention on myself if I don’t have to?

To be honest I haven’t searched very hard yet. There is plenty of time for me to do so before I even think of actually starting the process. However, I figured that on the chance one of my readers already knows this answer and can point me in the right direction, I would use that resource first.

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August 14, 2005

Shinin' at the Kames!

What a way to be welcomed home! While we were away I had put a stop on my mail with a return to normal delivery on the 13th. Yesterday I saw the mailman walk past and not deliver a thing; I figured that maybe I had put the wrong date for delivery to resume. A short while later I see mailman pull up in his truck in front of our house. Out he steps with a huge bundle of mail and a large box.

There were two items that I was really excited about. The box was my still! I officially have my copper still. It’s a little smaller then I thought it would be, however for what I’m going to be using it for, it’s a nice size. It’s only two gallons (like I ordered), but it’s nice and portable. I’m officially a shiner now! (Does happy dance!)

The other is my acceptance into the Trail of History event. After my resignation from Clan Chattan back in June, this was one of the events I wasn’t sure I would be able to get back into. They are invite only and you have to petition for an invitation. When I picked up the envelope from the McHenry County Conservation District, I could feel our photos in it. I did not take that as a good sign. Upon opening it up and reading that they wanted us to participate, I was ecstatic! We are going back to Trail of History, as independents this time! (No small feat) This was going to be one of the harder of two events that I want to do to get into. If I can get into this one, then I’m sure I can get into the other.

I just wanted to share that with everyone, because I know some of my readers are curious as to whether or not I was getting in. Now I’m off to fill out the paperwork!

Posted by Contagion at 11:47 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 02, 2005

Mortar Maiden of the Month!

Over at The Spoon and Blade we have up the latest Mortar Maiden.

Skye, a friend of the family, has the privilege of being the first second generation Mortar Maiden. In July, when we did our last re-enactment, Skye volunteered to pose with the Howling Jezebel, our mortar. It only took most of a year to convince her that it was for her betterment.

Remember all you lovely ladies out there; I’m always looking for new Mortar Maidens. Don’t hesitate to volunteer!

Posted by Contagion at 07:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 14, 2005

Gathering on the Theatiki

Over at the Spoon and Blade I have the review of Theatiki up. If you would like to see pictures of the event I'd suggest going over and taking a look!.

Posted by Contagion at 06:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 11, 2005

Surly Scotsman Rides Again.

I finally pulled my wife away from the Sims 2 in order for me to post about my weekend. My wife (Ktreva) and I did one of our Re-enactments last weekend in Bourbonnais, IL called The Gathering on the Theatiki. This is a fun event; we had a great time as usual. We were almost to the spot where we were dumping off Clone on my sister for the weekend when I get a call from Blog daughter Virtue. She wants to know if I have a Dutch oven she can use. “Back home in my garage, I’m almost half-way there.” I responded. I wasn’t cooking anything in one this weekend, so I didn’t bring it. I told her she could borrow one of the frying pans I had with me if she needed it, after I was done using it. She thanked me offered to clean my cast iron, do my dishes, and gather firewood and water for me. Last year at an event I bought her at an indentured servant auction. She’s mine for the next 7 years or until I sell her. Therefore, she has to do that for me anyway. I told her she could do soft-core porn, but she didn’t feel that would be appropriate with a name like Virtue.

Ktreva and I arrive at the site, check in and head down to where we camped last year. We liked that spot and wanted it again. When we pulled in one of the Illinois River Scum, a group of guys that are hard-core re-enactors, had taken the spot we wanted. Which is okay, because we wanted to camp next to them anyway. We took the spot next to them, were they camped last year. They are great guys and we get along with them really well.
We had almost finished setting up when Virtue, Chastity and Dr. “Special” arrived. Virtue calls me on her cell phone from the registration tent and is whining because, “Clan Chattan is registered as a military group, but we are not military. I don’t want to camp with the military groups, can we please camp with you?” She was almost hyperventilating because of this. After explaining that for this event when Clan Chattan registered they were a military unit because originally all the guys that were coming wanted to play in the battle and bring the artillery piece along. I then told her she could just come down and camp next to us. Which was the biggest mistake I made all weekend.

First they show up and don’t know how to set up their tents. Showing them how to tested my patience, and then they didn’t have all the parts they needed to set up the Fly (A piece of canvas that acts like a front porch). Ktreva told them we were going into town for dinner. Since they didn’t know the town, they decided they were going to come with. As I was pulling away all three of them ran up and jumped into the bed of the truck. All three of them screaming, “Take us with you! Don’t leave us alone!” Taking pity on them I pulled over and let them ride in the cab with us. After 15 minutes of musical seats, because they were fighting over whom got to sit next to who, we were on our way. We went to a local Steak Buffet for dinner. By this time we were all dirty and smelly from setting up camp, gathering firewood and being around campfires. Another trader had told me of this place the year before, that’s were I decided we should go. At first I thought we might be a little grungy for this place since we all looked very white-trashy. Upon entering the building I felt we fit right in! During the dinner conversation we started talking about crap jobs. I tell them that I worked at K-mart when I was in high school. Dr. “Special” proceeds to ask me, “They had K-marts back then?” Ktreva, Chastity and Virtue all jumped in the way preventing me from making Dr. “Special” wear his tongue as a necktie.

After Dinner, I then had to take them to Aldi so they could do some grocery shopping. I discovered that the Aldi down there has a liquor department. They sold crappy wine and beer that *I* had never heard of. None of the ones up here have that, or at least I haven’t seen it in any of the Aldi’s up here. Then I had to take them to the hardware store for their missing parts. Now I blame myself for this next part. I should have known better, but I sent Virtue and Dr. “Special” into the store on their own to get the parts they needed. They had a list and it wasn’t that difficult. After 20 minutes of listening to Chastity and Ktreva harp on me for sending them in there alone. I decided I should go in after them. It’s a good thing I did. After making my way to the Hardware section, I found Virtue sitting on the floor crying with various bolts, washers and wing nuts scattered about her. Dr. “Special” is standing there facing a display of trashcans mumbling, “Make it stop. Why won’t she stop crying? Why should I do?” Virtue explains they don’t have the right size nuts to fit the bolts and she isn’t sure if she should go one size smaller or not. I gather them up and the size smaller bolts, washers and wing nuts and we leave after Virtue makes a scene at the check out counter. When we arrived back at camp they discovered that Virtue must have written down the wrong size on the bolts, because even the size smaller was too big for the hole. They ended up not setting up the fly and using ours all weekend. At least they cleaned up after themselves!

I had decided I really wanted to participate in the Woods Walk battle out there. This is where they re-enact a battle based on a scene from “Last of the Mohicans” with Daniel Day Lewis. They have re-enactors (Military) escorting the public (Civilians) through the forest. The French and Indians ambush the civilians on the trail and the military fends them off. This puts the public right into the heart of the battle. It is a very cool scenario and both re-enactors and public loves doing it. In order to participate as a fighter you need to belong to or join up temporarily with a military group. There were three different units of the Roger’s Rangers at this event; one of them is the group that Clan Chattan prefers to fight against. This group has been trying to “Slip me the King’s shilling” for two years to fight with them. When I walked into their camp Friday night I was talking with them and their Dutch Recruiting Sgt made a smart arse comment about how he had been in England and almost bought a real 1750’s shilling to slip to me. I told him that it was too bad because I would have taken it. I have never seen this man move so fast. He knocked over a chair and almost tore his tent down to find a “Shilling” (He used a quarter) to give to me. I took it voluntarily and they bought my services for the woods walk Saturday and Sunday. It was great fun. Especially since whenever I shoot I can hear the kids and the publics reaction to what I do. I loved hearing a kid about 8 say, “Look dad! That guy just killed an Indian!”

We spent a lot of time socializing with other re-enactor friends, which was great. I also spent a lot of time giving Virtue, Chastity and Dr. “Special” a hard time all weekend. Every time they would ask to borrow something or ask me to help them or just say anything, I would respond with, “It’s because of you that I left the Clan.” I wasn’t serious and they knew it, but it was fun to harass them. Virtue also received her Indian name over the weekend, She Who Smiles A Lot. Even when she tries to be mad, she still was smiling. Other re-enactors were giving her grief about her “Short cheek muscles”. Even though I gave them a hard time, okay I was just down right mean to them, I enjoyed having them in the camp next to us. They helped keep me entertained. Plus the girls helped me recruit for the Mortar Maidens. Virtue is my new director of Model Posing.

Speaking of the Mortar Maidens, this event was ripe with volunteers. I had 8 different women pose for me. It all started with my friends Will and Red’s daughter posing and then I just kept finding women that would pose. I’m really glad because I was starting to run out of pictures.

At the end of the event I was thoroughly relaxed. The only thing I would have changed if I could was the temperature, it was very hot both days and that made it a tad uncomfortable. I had other re-enactors asking me why I was still wearing my waistcoat in the afternoon. My answer was always, “Because they would have worn them at all times back then.” The hardcore ones, even those that had taken theirs off, agreed that a proper white male at that time would not have walked around in just his shirt. I earned a lot of respect from the hard-core re-enactors by keeping to my standards. The public however thought I was daft.

Two groups also tried to recruit me into their ranks. I politely turned down both invitations, as I don’t want to do the group thing anymore. I’m enjoying the freedom of being an individual. The River Scum is trying to get me to go on a canoe trek with them. I just don’t think I fit in since I have a moral and an ethic. (Yes that is singular on purpose). That and I don’t want to be known as “The quiet and polite one” among any gathering of re-enactors. Don’t get me wrong; I love that group of guys. I hung out with them both Friday and Saturday night. After listening to their stories I’m pretty sure that not only would they drink me under a table, but also they would leave me tied to a tree on an island as a joke. Plus I just don’t think I’m hardcore enough to fit in with them. I like my little comforts… like toilet paper. I’ll be damned if I’m cutting the pocket out of my knee breeches to wipe my arse with!

At the end of the event I gave Virtue, Chastity and Dr. “Special” (Who still thinks I was around when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I’m only 32) a piece of trade silver as a friendship gift. This was to show them that even though I gave them a lot of hell over the weekend, it was all in good-natured fun and they where my friends. Except Dr. “Special” whom one night isn’t going to wake up from a sleep after I club him with the wooly mammoth femur I kept from my first kill… the little bastard! Actually he’s not a bad guy, but he is very quiet. I’m not sure if he was just shy or scared of me.

All had a great time and I’m looking forward to my next event in just over a month.

Posted by Contagion at 10:59 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

July 05, 2005

Artillary and Babes!

I finally was able to update The Spoon and Blade for the month of July. I'm only 5 days late this month, not too bad. Our newest Mortar Maiden is posted. If your interested in women with artillary go check out Elspeth Comyn.

Posted by Contagion at 07:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack