Pennsic short takes

Brief Pennsic notes in the form of pluses and minuses:

  • Debatable Choir concert went very well! I hope I get to hear a recording (or, better, watch a video.) One person who doesn't usually comment on our performances described our last song (Ecce Quomodo) as "exquisite".

  • Despite a sudden attack of Pennsic crud causing a coughing fit.

  • Saw two fun commedia shows. (Would have been more if not for dinner conflicts, ouch.)

  • Cooking dinner on the night of both the Pensnic Choir concert and the commedia all-stars show was not, in retrospect, a good idea.

  • But it was a very nice dinner, if I do say so myself. (Teriyaki salmon; teriyaki tofu with snow peas, carrots, and ginger; stir-fried vegetables in a red chili sauce; white rice; fruit for dessert. No meat, no gluten, and everything except the salmon was vegan.)

  • Many improvements to our kitchen! (I need to organize pictures for a separate post.)

  • Not too much rain, though what did fall led to instant large mud puddles in the roads because the ground is saturated.

  • Our block really came together to work through land problems -- swampy patches and two drainage ditches made parts of the block uncampable.

? Being on the corner was good for middle-of-the-night privy access and bad for noise.

  • We doubled our solar power this year. We can now charge not only phones but the electric scooters of the two camp members who require them and one other camp member's CPAP machine. (Not all at once and only during the day.)

+/- I got to see some friends but missed others.

  • Nice arts & sciences exhibit, including someone who wrote (calligraphed and illuminated) a book of Tehillim (Psalms).

  • After the Coopers declined again to tow my house-trailer, the person who towed the kitchen for us agreed to do so, saving us a bunch of money.

--- Toward the end of Pennsic I got email from the Coopers (the first written communication I've received from them about any aspect of my trailer). It contained an eviction notice. I am very frustrated; all this time, the (verbal) discussions with them have been about them (not) towing it, and now they're saying they don't want to have any oversized trailers on their property at all. I wish I'd known that earlier!! I'll probably write more about this separately. Meanwhile, I can keep it through Pennsic 50 (two more years) and then it has to be gone. :-(

More on that last point from comments:

Question: no on-site storage, or no using it at all?

No on-site storage; as far as I know, if people want to bring in oversized trailers they can. Of course, if you can't get your oversized trailer down to something that's road-legal then you'd have trouble doing that.

This is aggravating. When I built the house I thought the worst-case scenario I was betting against was Pennsic moving. I did not give sufficient consideration to Dave Cooper's heirs and successors and their reduced tolerance for the SCA.

What's really infuriating is the poor communication over the last few years. When we arrived at Pennsic in 2015 to learn they wouldn't tow it (and there's a whole story there, too, where they said we were on the schedule several times and then silently dropped us), they said they had sent me a notice about changing requirements. I did not receive it and asked, several times, for a copy of said notice. I have still never seen that notice. What the person in charge told me in person is that it's too big and too heavy, but mainly too heavy, and that's not safe for his drivers to tow. So since then we have been making private towing arrangements, except for 2016 when we said "screw it" and used our vacation time for a trip to Italy. We spent two years building our new kitchen trailer and sold our old, heavy kitchen building that had been stored in the house. We did other things to lighten the load. I think it was 2016 when I told him we were going to lighten the load and asked if he would consider towing it when we had done so. He said they would re-evaluate if we did that. We shook hands.

All this time, for the last four years, every conversation has been about towing. For that matter, the email I received talked about how they can't tow it. But we're not expecting them to! I sent email this summer reporting back on the lightened-load thing and humbly asking for reconsideration; I never received a reply and we arrived to find out the answer was a summary "no". Fine; we had someone who could tow it for us. We proceeded as we have every year.

That they are unwilling to have it on site is completely new. The email talked about how I've been "grandfathered" and they're phasing out grandfathering so I have to remove it. Had I known that they considered its presence to be grandfathered and likely to become unwelcome, I would not have replaced the leaking roof this year and would have just "patched" that (or stuck a bucket under it, or something), if I thought I only had a year or two anyway.

The trailer is not road-legal. The house is narrow enough to count as a "wide load" in PA (rather than a forbiddenly-wide load), but it's too tall to transport on roads here. I suspect there's no cost-effective way to address that, but I haven't done a lot of research yet. But even if I can get it to the point where it can go on the roads, I don't think annual trips are going to be feasible -- every move means renting or hiring a big-enough vehicle to tow it, which would need to happen at least four times a year (the other two are for inspection), the trailer is 20 years old and probably needs work to be able to move at road speeds rather than Cooper speeds, and with respect to our camp it's already been moving from asset to liability in some ways. (I end up getting help from others in various ways; that was a good deal for the camp when we were storing everything in it, but now we're not.) Dani and I, and we and the camp, need to talk more, but I think this is heading toward: if we can't keep it on site we can't keep it. And that's heartbreaking.

There's a Silvering's law that only Pennsic is worth the trouble that only Pennsic requires. Part of me is thinking that's not true any more and 40 Pennsics will have been a good run for me. But I realize I'm reacting in the moment and I'm certainly not making decisions now about whether I'll show up in three years. I need to spend time figuring out what realistic options look like post-eviction.

Pennsic is highly unlikely to make it to a centennial.

I agree; I think Pennsic is in decline and will not make it another 50 years. It's a combination of things, no one thing -- changes in the SCA, changes at Cooper's Lake, demographics (the "graying of fandom" applies to the SCA too), changes in Pennsic, people having more options for large events, people having more options for spending their vacation time...

Speaking personally, I used to get excited about Pennsic, and now it's this thing I do. I still have fun, but it's different. I have thoughts rolling around in my head that I hope will come out in a new post about this. But one effect is that I'm not inclined to invest in another "amortize over 20 years" housing project to replace this one; I don't think it will pay dividends. (On the other hand, I very much want to be off the ground and dry... used vardo? Hotel room? Dunno.)