I've been putting off writing this blog. Partly because I hurt so much last week that I didn't want to do it and partly because by writing this particular blog, it really does mark the end of the season for me.
Now, if you know me, I'm all about the comfort. I sit down as much as I can, I don't get up if I don't have to. It took me a few years to reach that point, but I evolved and it became normal. "I'll go if I can sit down" became my mantra. And the ren faire has plenty of places to sit down and rest. I quickly got the joust down and chose a seat from where I could take the best photos I thought I was capable of and for seven weeks, that's what I did. I sat in the same set of bleachers, in nearly the same seat every time.
Then, one of the jousters had to leave to go to another faire. And the Master of Arms was taking his spot- handing over his job to a lovely woman who went by the name Lady Gwendolyn. Also, Amadeo told me to start the fan page for his character, so I did. And then I somehow coerced Sir Gregory into it as well and I started his fan page (if you go to Texas Ren Fest, you'd know him as Otto Von Dusseldorf, the German knight). So, I got up from my seat. I would start on the opposite side of the tilt yard- in Gregory's section. I'd take a bunch of photos of him during his intro speech and then, literally, run to Mauldron's section (which was on the same side, just the opposite end). I'd stand there at the gates and take as many photos as I could. I had to get what I could for Mauldron's fan page! This was also the first time I'd seen him joust in two years. I was quite happy about that. And he seemed to be having a lot of fun as the bad guy. But, I discovered, standing by that gate, I could get amazing photos of them all. Oh, because I shared those two pages, here are the others- World According to Mauldron (the first page I ever started), Sir Maxmillian the Jousting Earl of Braden, and Sir Edgeron of Aquataine. I'm not an admin on those two pages, but I upload a lot of photos on them.
And I did get those amazing photos. I'm just going to link you all to the album on Flickr of the final weekend jousts, because I took hundreds of photos. Hundreds. So many awesome photos. And I told myself that the pain I was in and would be in for days- was worth it. And it was. And that pain was exquisite. It surpassed a level of pain that I can even describe. I said that to one of our friends at the faire and he hugged me.
Here's the album of the final weekend on my Flickr. I took over four hundred photos of JUST the jousts on closing weekend... enjoy that.
And I know you're asking yourselves- why the hell would I put myself through all that, knowing how much it was going to hurt. Because I love those guys. I love the faire and the people who I know from there. But this group of Hanlon-Lees Action Theater, they're special. Mauldron, Edgeron, and Gregory- they were in the very first joust I ever saw. It was that joust that made me fall in love with the joust. Their characters were awesome (even if Gregory was going by some other name and filling in for who I assume was Amadeo- because he left this year on the same weekend) and the action was great. I remember sitting in Gregory's section, watching the horses and the fighting and the action and the sounds of armor and the sounds of lances hitting shields and thinking how fucking grand the whole thing was. My photos of that first joust are horrible. It was five-and-a-half months after my knee replacement surgery and I was so completely wasted on Vicodin (I took two pills every four hours) that I couldn't remember anyone's name. But I knew I loved it.
It isn't just the jousters I love. I know their families too and their kids are awesome. The squires are cool, too. One of them acts like we annoy him, but we know he likes us. (he left with Amadeo- where it turns out he's jousting in Massachusetts).
And you're saying, "That's a nice, long-winded answer, Lady Smelly, but it didn't really answer our question." Firstly, I was Lady Smelly three or four times this year- I lost count.
Like I said, I love H-LAT and I approached the photography with the same thinking I did when my son was active in his martial arts. Everybody takes photos, but nobody ever shows them to other people. I mean, I took photos of all the kids I knew from my son's academy when they were in a tournament. I'd get copies made (this was way back in the olden days of film cameras) and give some to the academy and some to the parents of the kids. I have no idea how many photos were taken of my son during this time because nobody ever gave me any prints. After spending an entire season at the faire- and having my photo taken countless times (sometimes by people asking, sometimes on the sly)- I have yet to see a photo that wasn't taken by a photographer friend. And a few of those people have my email. I know this, because I gave it to them.
Turns out, that's pretty much the same thing for the people who work at the faire. Countless photos but they rarely get to see any. I already considered myself a friend of Mauldron and Maxmillian. It wasn't so far of a leap to befriend the others. And as Mauldron said once- eventually, everyone meets me. He said that to an old college friend (and his wife) of his who came to the faire. They sat in front of us in Maxx's section. Big shocker that I talked to them, huh?
For all my pain and all my work, do you know what I expected in return? Nothing. I know the guys appreciated what I was doing and they'd tell me so. And Maxx even picked on me out of character and that was his way of saying thanks. I gave him two CDs with all the photos I had taken of him up till the seventh week. And he teased me in front of people I didn't know. And said that I took amazing photos... I'm going to lose it and get all weepy if I keep going.
And if that wasn't enough...
Mauldron told me to be sure I was there on closing day- like I wouldn't be, right? He gave me a print of a medieval knight on horseback, being led by a squire. Its stunning. And they all signed it. And I cried. And if I keep typing about it, I'll cry again. There's a photo of it in that link.
I took a week off after that final, three-day weekend where I spent a majority of my time standing and walking. I stopped hurting sometime around Friday, but following a relatively decent weekend, the fatigue set in on Monday and I've been battling it all week. I'm still exhausted today. The weather's changing and that doesn't help. But, I intend on walking again, for exercise. I think I can handle a half hour to an hour every day. After all, I survived ten-plus hours every Saturday and Sunday for nine weekends in a row.
And while I'm sad that Bristol is over and I miss my friends (not just the jousters), I have one more faire to go to... Stronghold Olde English Faire, the first weekend in October. I wasn't sure if I was going to go or not, but on closing day as we were hugging our friends and leaving, everyone kept saying, "We'll see you at Stronghold"... so yeah, I'm going.
And I'll probably hurt a lot from that, but I won't care. Because I love faire and I love my friends. And I refuse to let this fibrofuckingmyalgia ruin it for me. And now, I leave you with this...
Me with Sir Maxx on August 27th. It was Steampunk Invasion weekend and I was dressed in a very lame Steampunk outfit. (the goggles and hat were given to me by awesome friends). During the parade, he did the same thing he did to me the previous week. My steampunk outfit was maroon and black- which are Mauldron's colors. I called out: "I love you, Sir Maxx" and he'd turn away- "No! Don't talk to me! You're wearing another man's colors!" (he loves me, I know he does).
I have no idea what he's doing here, but this was August 28th.
Mauldron told me that when he saw the photos of me with Amadeo, "There's no way I'm going to be outdone by [Amadeo's real name]."
This is Lord Darius. He's a jouster, but he was injured earlier this year and has been recovering and now squiring. He can't wait to joust again. He's also a cyborg sapien like me (well, not LIKE me, but he's got metal body parts like I do).
The last 365days photo taken at the faire. I titled this one: "How much do I love this man?"
And, this... this is the very last photo I took on the very last day at Bristol Ren Faire, 2011.