Renaissance Fair

Ren Faire

by Celia Hayes

I’ve always thought there was a need in these mostly settled American late 20th century time for people to dress up and be something else for a while. There are local hard-core historical reenactors who do get very, very deep into this, in part to educate people generally about specific events and times in American history. Then there is the Society for Creative Anachronism, where lurk those folks who do more of the European medieval thing, with jousting and swordfights and all that. And the science fiction conventions, where fans of particular movies and TV shows costume for the duration, and take it all very seriously. My daughter and I had a friend through the Salt Lake City con who routinely dressed as a Klingon. One year he came as a Star Fleet officer, and we didn’t recognize him at all, until he spoke – he had a strong Scots accent. But then there are those who just get into it for fun at a Renaissance fair, where the costumes and gear are required for performers and vendors, and optional for the rest of us.

I only did the full Tudor/Elizabethan costume once – when Mom took us to the original and founding Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Southern California, sometime in the late 1960s. Which was held at that time in a dusty and live-oak grown park in Agoura, a place which so little looked like England that it may as well have been a tropical island in the South Pacific. By which I mean, it didn’t much look like England at all. But the enthusiasts set up booths and pavilions and tents, and there were jesters and jugglers and Queen Elizabeth’s court, all in heavy brocade and velvet costumes, and vendors selling whole roasted turkey legs, and pastries made with whole wheat flour – which tasted pretty much like cardboard. Banners flew in the clear California summer air, there was heraldry everywhere, and some kind of Rennaissance-ish costume was encouraged.

I made costumes for my younger sister and myself. Mom had sacrificed a couple of tablecloths, a sheet or two, and I had bought a couple of packets of RIT dye – my usual raw materials when it came to costumes – and a large roll of gold fabric upholstery braid bought from a small upholstery shop on Foothill Boulevard which was going out of business. Their bad fortune, but my good, for I paid only a couple of dollars for the roll of braid, and it was enough to lavishly trim a pair of Tudor-style gowns – with matching French hoods. I think I drew up the patterns by eye from a costume book, inspired by having watched The Six Wives of Henry VIII on the local public channel. We brought our costumes and changed in the ladies’ lavatory … and then sweltered for the rest of the day. I can only imagine how the performers in heavier costumes with the required underpinnings of corsets, bum-rolls and multiple petticoats suffered in the heat, all day and every day.

This weekend, though – we’re getting back into a little of that, with the Lost in Wonderland event – a tribute to Tim Burton movies, by the look of their Facebook page, but it looks like a gathering for the same kind of fans of the SCA, Ren-Faire and cons. And next month – there will be a local Ren Faire at St. Francis Episcopal Church. There is a discount for coming in costume, but my daughter absolutely refuses to play.

Gardening March 2014

Planning for the Garden

By Celia Hayes

Once more into the breach, my friends; with the date of the last predicted frost in South Texas historically being in mid-March, it’s time to get started with vegetables. Indeed, the local HEB began putting out vegetable starts late in February, when the temperatures became so balmy and mild that I was seriously tempted in indulge – after all, $1.00-1.25 for a four-inch pot with a healthy young plant in it? Yes, I was eager to enter the fray once again, after last years’ disastrous tomato-growing debacle. It was too hot, too soon, and those plants which did manage to bear fruit … well, the rats got to them. Not just the tomatoes, but the fresh young sprigs, and the leaves of the pepper plants as well.

The very Sunday afternoon that I finished setting out the various starts from HEB – even as I was assembling the patent tomato cage, the cold front blew in. There I was, working in jeans and a short-sleeved shirt on a warm and muggy afternoon; we had even been running the AC, since it was so warm. Then, suddenly, I felt a cool breeze, as if the AC had suddenly kicked in outside, and within ten minutes it felt as it it had dropped fifteen degrees. We rushed the newly-planted tomato and pepper starts into the greenhouse, along with the tenderer of the potted plants, but to no avail. The water in the birdbaths was frozen hard the next morning, and the newly-planted lantanas by the walkway were pretty well frost-scorched. Even the new green leaves on the ash trees were hit. Curiously, the long containers of lettuce and salad greens by the new flower bed at the front door as well as the bulbs in it – all of which had just sprouted in the last week or so — survived just fine, under cover of a heavy blanket. But everything else, even the pole beans which had just put up two or three leaves … alas.

So they are not kidding when they tell you how fast a cold front can blow in. And they also were not kidding about the last frost being in mid-March. Fortunately, I still had plenty of pole and bush bean seeds, so I’ve only lost a couple of weeks as far as they are concerned. And on Friday, we bustled over to Rainbow Gardens, which offered row upon row of tomato starts, plain, fancy, heirloom, large and small, early and late. I’ve gotten half a dozen of them into the grow box, and the rest must wait for a bag of fresh potting soil to go into the topsy-turvy planters. I’m also figuring out a way to do space-saving and self-sustaining raised beds, rather than depending on the compost bin and my vast collection of large pots. There’s a kind of raised circular bed called a key-hole garden, with a working compost heap in the center, which looks very attractive and useful, but being circular would take up too large a chunk of the back yard. Another suggestion was a series of low columns about the diameter of fifty-gallon drums, made of chicken wire lined with straw or even weed barrier, with compost working in the bottom two-thirds, and a layer of potting soil on top with plants growing in it, which would be a bit more practical for me, space-wise.

And that is my week in the garden – yours?

Gardens and Dog Parks and Market Days

Of Gardens and Dog Parks and Market Days, Oh, My!

by Celia Hayes

 

Alas, now that it was in the high 90’s on Sunday afternoon, I must yield and submit to summer. Yes, it’s here. Likely I will not see a cool night, and sleep with an open window and properly under the feather comforter until somewhere the far side of September. I just hope that the Deity doesn’t decide to turn the temperature all the way up to broil, now that the tomatoes are lavishly in bloom, and the biggest and sturdiest of them are adorned with tiny green tomatoes, the size of pearls and grapes. Daily temps in the three digits would pretty well bake what is coming on so very, very well. Darn it, I have too good a start on the vegetable garden to be completely detached about watching it all shrivel up in the scorching heat. (Reminder; Get another jug of that insecticide – once the white-fly gets ahold of the tomatoes and beans, that’s the long slow slide towards resignedly uprooting the lot and hoping to do better next year.)

The pole beans are leaping up the poles, the tomatillo plants look to be turning into shrubs, the eggplants are burgeoning, and the very expensive cornichon gherkin seeds that I ordered from Amazon at a cost of about .17 cents a seed, plus another .15 cents shipping and handling – fourteen of them have put up sprouts. Yes, I want to make proper French Cornichon pickles this year … but I will so let at least one of the cornichon gherkins go to seed so that I don’t have to order them next year. The salad greens and lettuces are doing pretty well, too – at least, the ones that I have in pots and water every day without fail. We get a nice serving of salad greens about every two days. As for beans, I hope for enough for a side dish of them every day or so. In a spirit of resignation, I planted two packets of patty-pan squash and some kind of hot-weather zucchini in one of the wire-form raised beds. Everyone says that you are supposed to be overwhelmed with squash from a back-yard garden, but so far, I am distinctly underwhelmed. Hope springs eternal in the breast of the home gardener, though.

We ventured out this weekend to the Universal City dog park; a hop, skip and a jump away, in Universal City, which is small, but choice. It is adorned with enough rocks and small trees to give Connor and Nemo a chance to empty every drop from their bladders in a heroic attempt to mark every single one. Nemo thinks that every dog he meets is his newest, bestest friend in all the world. The last time we took him to the dog park at Hardberger Park there were just too many bigger dogs interested in chasing him. Once he realized that he was basically the ‘rabbit’ – and got bowled over by the bigger dogs several times – he lost all interest. This time, Connor, the Malti-Poo, our old man of dogs and usually not interested in romping, made friends with a Min-Pin who loved to chase a thrown rubber ball. Over and over again, the Min-Pin chased the ball and brought it back, with Connor toddling gamely after. An excellent hour of a morning spent – the dogs all nicely tired out.

And finally – preparations for our participation in the Bulverde/Spring Branch Spring Market Day continue. We will have a joint booth; my books and my daughter’s origami art at the Spring market on May 10, in the parking lot of Bealls at Hwy 46 and Bulverde Crossing. Look for the shrieking pink pavilion with the zebra-striped top. We just got it this week, and set it up briefly in the driveway. You will not be able to miss it, even though there are supposed to be scores of other vendors there.