Sunday, October 1, 2017

Chapter 1: An Introduction

What better way to get through life and overcome life's challenges then to imagine it as one's greatest Live Action Role Play adventure.

The participants in a Live Action Role Play (LARP) physically portray characters in a fictional setting, improvising their characters' speech and actions somewhat like actors in improvisational theatre. LARPs may be played in a public or private area and may last for hours or days, typically played irregardless of an audience. Players typically dress as their character and carry appropriate equipment, while the environment is sometimes decorated to resemble the setting. LARPs can be one-off events or a series of events in the same setting, and events can vary in size from a handful of players to several thousand.

Celtically Primal's character goes by the name of Theowyndwood Keyote. Theowynd has appeared in multiple LARP settings since development. First developed in the LARPing world of Dagorhir, before making appearances in the primitive survival game that was living a full year at the Broken Spoke Outpost that was Britannia Faire, before jumping back in time to the Middle-Ages as she began to explore the living history feel the Society of Creative Anachronism offered. Given her fade between the worlds of Fantasy, LARP, Living History, and Modern Day; she is best described as a Wandering Coyote Shifter who can portal jump into different periods of time while surviving and blending into their setting with the best of the RangerRoguesScouts Classes.

Most LARPs maintain a clear distinction between the real world and the fictional setting, while Celtically Primal prefers to live in the in-between, mingling fiction with modern reality. By "gamifing" ones life by turning daily tasks, habits, to do lists, etc into objectives that need to be conquered, what once felt like "work" is now just a fun goal to achieve. What better way to view work, learn information, complete tasks, design projects, or explore the outside, than as just another level up... 

Step back in time and walk alongside Theowynd's Path as the full year of Living a Fantasy at the Broken Spoke Outpost unfolds in the chapters to follow.
August 2014 - It has already been three months since the portal of Britannia Faire dissolved. Since then, the life of Theowynd's Avatar has shifted to unimaginable places; most of them positive while the rest remain quiet challenging. But enough about that for now. That is not where the story resides, nor is it the focus. For this is a tale of recollection, reflection, and appreciation. For remembering a sacred land that many found balance, sanctuary, and solace on. This is a tale of reality mixed with fantasy---of Work melded into RolePlay--- of and an educational lesson or two coyly disguised as a photo book. This is the Tale of Britannia Faire, and how it impacted the life and storyline of Theowyndwood Keyote.

A capture of the Britannia Faire Battle Field dressed in Spring, as taken during April 2013

Contained within the twenty chapter tale is the retelling of a true story set within a primitive live action fantasy world.

This is not your typical blog, but rather a journey retold through photography.
Accompany Theowyn on a full year's adventure living a primitive survival game, brought to life again through personal photography; documenting changes within the environment while overcoming the hardships of leveling up. It should be mentioned that Theowyn is only a side character within these chapters; the main character within this plog is the fantasy land itself. 

There were many trials that came from living primitively in BF’s remote location, absolutely all of them worth the increased connection to nature and the peace-of-mind that living away from civilization in the woods provides to your character. A recap of past adventures, skill explanations, ration recipes, field ecology tidbits, documented changes in weather, seasons, patterns of nature, funny tales, as well as any additional story of Chaos that was thrown into the mega “Britannia Faire melting pot of a computer file” and the two personal journals that documented Theowyndwood’s journey within BF’s province will all be brought to life again through her captures.  

There is something woven into each tale sure to interest a variety of individuals from Environmentalist, RolePlayers, Landscapers, Set Designers, Theater Majors, Contractors, and Primitive Living Enthusiasts alike. Let imagination and curiosity take flight in the world of Live Action Fantasy Living.

The Battle Grounds in full Summer foliage - 2013

When you read this blog, try to think about the backdrop in this way: When individuals come to Britannia Faire, or any Dagorhir event for that matter, they are asked to portray a character from a Medieval Tolkien-esk Fantasy Realm. As a character, one is able to leave their lives as (insert random profession/job description) and fall into an adventure unassociated with any of the worries modern day forces into our awareness. However, sadly, at the end of each game session, each player reluctantly fades back into the realm of reality and proceeds about their “real life.” The land of Britannia Faire equally plays a Character of its own. As a Character: Britannia Faire is a Primitive Medieval Encampment that holds resources at the centrally located Broken Spoke Tavern, when in real life: Britannia Faire is an ever-changing primitive survival outpost.

The Faire's front lawn sporting the look of Fall -2013

It is to be made completely clear that Celtically Primal (hereby referred to as CP) was not the sole person involved in the Britannia Faire project, as there were several others who where there before the portal opened to her, and many other individuals influenced the land and backstory of Britannia Faire. Again, the intention is NOT to make it seem that she was the sole person involved in this project and CP would be an absolute fool to say that she completed all of what was accomplished in the 2013 season alone; for credit will be given to all that deserve.

A small overnight snowstorm November 10th 2013

By giving followers a better glimpse of Britannia Faire’s back-story and what went on behind the scenes, I hope to provide a more realistic yet comedic perspective as to what is required to truly live a LARP. Let it be known that it is not an easy lifestyle nor is there any true money or profit to be made with this type of living. The reward was found in other facets. Britannia Faire required Theowyn to have a non-stop work ethic centered on progress, organization, scavenging, and survival. As the groundskeeper and set design moderator of the 2013 season, her motivation was to labor hard using her “Elvin magic” to bend and shift the physical earth and alter the tavern setting so that other players may enjoy a well manicured set in which to play in. This photo blog will recap the happenings, with sections both in and out of character, of the Broken Spoke Tavern and Outpost as captured through the eyes of a wandering Native American Half Elf Coyote Shifter.

May all who read be able to pull something from its texts.



Chpt 2: A Brit of a Background Tale

During the ’07 or ‘08 season of the Holly, Michigan Renaissance Festival, the idea of Britannia Faire was conceived between the interactions of two individuals: Mistress Heron Barefooten and Ranger Reddwycke du Foret. Heron will tell the tale better than I, because well, she was actually there at the start of it all, but it sums up with the desire to recreate the medieval atmosphere the Renaissance Faire provides, and fully immerse an individual into the world for an extended period of time. The desire to live as a character in the time era, not to just be surrounded by its setting and diverse shops. There is already a society known as the SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism) that allows individuals to experience this atmosphere for 17 days during the single largest annual American medieval camping event titled Pennsic War, that hosts on the ups of 12,000 participants. 

A look over the Pennsic Battle Field and Marketplace

For those who don’t know, Pennsic is held at the same place Dagorhir’s week-long event, Ragnarok is hosted, at Cooper’s Lake Campground in Slippery Rock, PA. Cooper’s Lake has a fantastic layout, especially when transformed into a 17th century town with an estimated 7500 canvas pavilions assembled and a marketplace that takes up all of the Dagorhir parking lot, merchants row, and all additional space in between. However, there is still the intrusion of Highway 79’s road noise, the hum of the ice trailer near the camp store staffed with "naked" (mundane) employees who don’t want to be there, modern day electric wires, and the blaze of a convenient lighting system. In addition, the glow of McDonald’s arches tower in the distance, like the blaze of Sauron’s eye, reminding you that mundania lies less than a mile away, just beyond the trees, to suck your soul away. Britannia Faire was to be akin to this event but of a different backdrop.

An areal view of Cooper's Lake during Pennsic. Mind you are only viewing about half of the area congregated by the Pennsic crowd.

The Faire was conceived to be a primitive fantasy world without the reminder of today’s monotonous, commonplace, “convenient” lifestyle. The ideal land would deliberately be remote, cut off from society, far from the highway, where there were no power lines in sight. These things were required for a true, complete immersion. During late Fall of ’09 or early ’10, Heron received a random phone call from Reddwycke saying that he had found the perfect land to craft their fantasy into a reality. And thus the magical world of Britannia Faire was born.

-The Faire as the lands were first found by Ranger Reddwycke du Foret. Photo courtesy of David Laime

Reddwycke’s mundane boss, Shane, would help him out with Tavern blueprints, assist with purchasing heavy equipment (a bobcat, bulldozer, and saw mill), and even suggested a contracting crew to hire for Tavern construction. Through the efforts of these initial few, the wildlands would be combated, earth would be moved, and the structure known as the Broken Spoke Tavern would rise into the air as the first landmark of this whimsical world. 

One of the two original Tavern Blueprints as it was originally designed.

During October of 2010, Britannia Faire would go on to host its first event: Novus Festivus. This event would go onto spin the LARPing Center’s tale of the Blue and Gold Kingsmen, the Green and White Elves, and Red and Black Bandits. Check out the following promotional video. It shows some really good footage of the territory’s condition during Fall of 2010.

Somewhere during Summer of 2010-Spring 2011, Red would go on to acquire his first full time helper/groundskeeper known as Rafin. As Fate would have it, Rafin would be Theowyn’s Portal of entry into the fantasy world. Theowyn did not know Rafin personally at this time, but happened to know his college best friend and classmate: Jael. She convinced me to make the five hour trip with her down from our home realm of Tartarus Invictus (Buffalo, NY) to see and assist him during the July 2011 event known as Sindri Boltar.

-The tavern before the extension, back staircase, and the tool shed. Photo courtesy of David Laime.

The first trip down Britannia Faire’s pathway would be made during the dark of night. The winding of the back-road had my counterpart a bit nervous as the car seemed to skirt the edge of the cliff-side as if on a widened sheep herding trail. The following morning when we were wakened by the sounds of bird thirty after drawing ourselves up out of our tent we were able to fully perceive the breathtakingly beautiful portal we had just fallen into for the first time. We. Immediately. Fell. In. LOVE. as do most the first time they see her. The Faire is located at the bottom of a long open valley; it's walls towering on either side of the Tavern gives one a since of solitude and scale. Running water along the property line, towering valley walls with rock outcrops as battlements, a variety of flora and fauna, and a never-ending supply of firewood; what more could one ask for in a sanctuary? Rafin was incredibly fortunate to be living at this magical place. But more about my infatuation with BF’s Geology, Ecology, and the medieval immersion setting later; for this is a history lesson.

Jael posing at the Tavern Bar our second night at the Faire. This "lived in" state of the Tavern was the normal setting back then.

We would arrive late in the evening two days prior to the event so Jael could get some personal catch up time with Rafin. From the moment we portaled into the land, all Theowyn wanted to do was assist in the creation of its immersive setting. I am the type of person that cannot stand/sit by while another is doing work around me; relaxing does not feel right unless everybody is doing it. Therefore, I remember offering my hands to set up tents and tables, do some last minute yard care, and even serve at the Tavern Bar.

The Stone Circle as I first saw her before the last round of pre-event yard care. At this time the Stone Circle was already an established feature and the second landmark that would be constructed at the Faire.

The back half of the battle field before the entire piece of land was maintained as a putting green.

This event had a shoulder high maze mowed into the back half of the field. This enabled some fun battle scenarios, but ultimately the populace would go onto to complain that the possibilities of ticks was not worth the fun had venturing in the tall grass.

A capture of the happenings during Sindri Boltar.

 **Unrelated side story** So this is Maka, Furyan's feline counterpart, sportin' this BA period vest; because even the animals at Britannia Faire have garb on. Fury would bring her with him to the Pentwyvern Harvest Feast of 2011. There just so happened to be a garb contest at this event and at the last minute Fury decided to enter his cat. So when his turn came up he went the front of the dining hall, which was the impromptu stage at this time, and lifted his cat high into the air. The crowd went wild. By the final round of judging almost all of the men in the audience were shouting, "Cat. Cat. Cat. Cat!" Clearly, Maka would be the crowd favorite, but given that the cat had no use of the first place prize, a decorative blade, she was unable to win the contest.

Maka the Midnight Rogue. Taken at Sindri Boltar.

Maka had no objection when it was suggested she be used as a thrown weapon with recurring slashing claw damage to the face.

Great Hoopak ammo choice Kender. Taken at Sindri Boltar.
I have some incredibly fond memories and rare footage of my first event at the Faire. At this time the Tavern did not have an extension and the main fire pit was a 5-6 foot wide hole in the ground, located in front of the Broken Spoke.

The main fire pit during the early years.

Firewood consisted of the 8-10 foot raw wooden tree slats the logging company left in the back 40, most are familiar with. For those that are not familiar with the Faire lands, there will be more background revealed further down the blog path. The slats were not cut up, nor split; but rather placed over the center of the hole to be burned in half and re-stacked into the blazing flames. 

"So. No shite, no shite. There I was..." (<-- Typical way of starting a true Dagorhir related tale, has become an inside joke to most of the game)  It is 2:30am the first night of the event. At this time only 6 people are awake around the Tavern fire while everyone else had gone to sleep not too far off down into the valley. There were these two men that were heavily intoxicated and beginning to get on each others nerves, having similar but conflicting personalities; neither wanted to give the other talking room on the fire stage to an audience of 4 people. This conflict would turn into one man yelling at the other at the top of his shout, saying things like, “You! Hey! Nobody is listening to you! You are annoying. Shut up. Shut the hell up! Are you not hearing me? Shut the Eff up! Shut Up!” To be fair, no one was paying attention to the other man talking, and the claims were more or less accurate.  Meanwhile the other man is continuing to tell his story without paying any mind to the shorter man shouting in his face, nor his uninterested 4 man audience, just trying to talk/yell over him. At some point the taller man would realize that his audience was false and shift gears to a direct shouting match with the shorter man. Honestly, I remember laughing hysterically at these two grown men shouting obscenities at each other at what would now be 2:50 in the morning. I could only imagine what those already sleeping were thinking if the shouting match broke into their sleep cycle. Somehow at 3am, I know this because of the time stamp, they had put aside their differences and decided to test their manliness by walking over the massive fire in the fire pit. By the end of the fire walking ordeal, both men had bonded and gave each other a botherbear hug, completely forgetting how not a half hour earlier they were about to throw punches. Enjoy some raw Britannia Faire footage from my first event.  

Now all whom are curious as to why it is necessary for Britannia Faire to always have insurance: it is because of Shenanigans like this. 

The Sisters walking down the path towards Bandit Camp as dressed for the first Battle of Five Armies in August 2011.

My next portal jump to the Faire was for its first hosted Battle of Five Armies (BOFA) scheduled during August 2011. Two additional individuals that became known as “The Sisters” decided to travel with me and the three of us volunteered to tend Tavern shifts to earn our keep of a canvas pavilion to crash in and free meals. Two days of early arrival would also find me setting up tents, cleaning and organize the Tavern bar, mowing sections of the lawn, weed eating, and brier removal, in addition to building a few bridges. The footbridge built near Troll, pictured below, no longer exists due to some heavy pockets of rain that fell during Peloponnesian War the following year. Someone slipped of the path during their exit and their dragon (period name for vehicle) got stuck in the mud trap adjacent to it. What resulted was footbridge destruction, but so it goes. It was at this event that I was first approached by Reddwycke to stay on the grounds permanently as an extra hand. I was finishing up my first degree in Geology at this time and even though every ounce of my being wanted to take him up on the offer, I had to decline.

The nonexistent bridge that ferried those from Troll bridge to the Road without tripping in the drainage ditch soon to be mud pit.

As it turns out BOFA would be Rafin’s last event as he would go on to leave the Faire later that summer to be replaced by Mac, Furyan, Roake, and the local Woodsfield native Drakus. I have very good things to say about Drakus. As long as he has instruction, Drakus has an excellent work ethic. He was a pleasure to have as an extra hand along during my stay. But I digress. Although! If anyone has interest, Drakus has some incredibly humorous tales to spin about the Faire during this rein. Something about drunkin’ 4wheeling, failed work attempts, cave exploring adventures, and many others; completely worth the conversation. Additionally, somewhere during this history recap, at an undocumented date, Tempest and Rap would also join in on the crew.

Fighters for Britannia Faire during August 2011 BOFA

As history was told to me by Red himself, somewhere during Sept of 2011 there was to be another event held at the Faire. However, due to low interest at the time and the fact that another nearby realm was hosting a bigger event 34miles away, the pending BF event was canceled last minute and the core group left the site to attend the day battle. There were a few individuals who did not receive the message that the event was abandoned. Turns out, Lockhart would be one of the few that would show up to the Faire during this time. He spent the day sparring with others who were in the same boat as he and they formed their own mini training session. During the session’s close, Reddwycke would return to the Faire to be met and challenged by an in character Lockhart, claiming that he had conquered the land of Britannia and that he intended to rule as King. Much to Lockhart’s surprise, Red did not fight, but rather fell to his knees replying something along the lines of, ‘My Liege, you may have her. I, a humble ranger, am growing tired of her upkeep.’ And with that the in-character title stuck and Britannia Faire obtained a King. Lockhart would go on to co-host a few events and manage the Tavern Eatery for the populous of Britannia Faire during the 2013 season.

Evening's light. BOFA 2011

During late October of that same year, Bounty’s Keeps was erected and receives its castle paint job. I am under the impression that later that same year, one of the castle walls fell over and is deemed unsafe to fight in. However, during the events to follow, the keep would be used as a pimp spot to camp in. That didn’t stop us from fighting in it during the September 2013 event: The Royal Wedding, but it might have had a few more repairs and anchoring brackets by that time.

Roake and Drakus working diligently on Bounty's Keep before the paint job. Photo courtesy of David Laime.

The following year would open with a warm March event Phoenix Rising and flow into another successful Masque Ball held during the beginning of May. During April of that year Mac Aaron would go onto become a Master Woodcutter and mill all the lumber for the Tavern roof extension with the help of a few other hands on the TimberKing from all on site wood. On April 30th of 2012, the roof would literally be raised and the skeleton for the extension would be constructed.

Stage one of roof complete. Photo captured by Aurora.

After Masque Ball- July of 2012, more than a few undocumented things happened at the Faire. With Reddwycke running out of steam and practically bleeding money, a new management crew came into play for all of a hot minute. The new management (Conon and Niben) did not fit the crews liking. They disagreed on everything almost instantly and by the beginning of July, maybe even as early as mid June, everyone had quit and left the Faire. This is where Timmourne steps into the game on a more serious level. He and his son Rainen along with the Natives Drakus and Jericho make some major progress on the road before the next scheduled event Peloponnesian War. 

A very common look to this section of BF's road. The issue here is that the entire of the hillside's water catchment drains to this spot and the the road lacks ditches and culverts that would properly pitch the drainage. Even after all the work put in on the dozer, the Bobcat, by shovel, by bucket, and by hand, in combination with sweat and blood sacrifices, the road still ends up looking like this. Taken April 14th 2014.

There were massive rains before and during the last evening of this event. Timmourne would donate his vehicle to play chariot, carting people’s stuff into the campground and all around play a Ranger in oiled leathers this event. (Play on Knight is shinning armor, for those who missed the reference) Reddwycke would find Reshia and Drakus to govern the Tavern while enlisting the volunteer efforts of others to make up for the deficit of having an onsite staff this event. Also during this event the Fight Pit would become a thing, located across the way form Uruk Hai camp. It is perceived that Uruk Hai is credited with the creation of this landmark, but the truth will out that a majority of the efforts needed for this task actually came from the members of Wargar while the higher up of Uruk Hai stood around and criticized like a true construction Foreman. I know this because I was also there working on the fight pit constructing more contained barriers to walk on with all the extra dirt and facing the exterior of the wall in wooden deadfall. If anyone should get credit for this project, it should be the boys of Wargar steppin’ it up again. They would also go around collecting and delivering wood to the main fires and additional wood to those who required a personal stash. During this event, Reddwycke would once again approach me, asking me to stay on site as the groundskeeper for shares in the future profit of the Britannia Faire business. At this time I was finishing up my second degree in Ecology and Environmental Geosciences and once again had to decline. 

Initially, the deadfall was placed on the exterior wall of the fight pit. But as the grass grew up over the dirt mounds, the wood made it impossible to maintain. And with that the pieces were moved to make an exterior ring around the area.

The following month of August would find both Timmourne and Lockhart donating their time and efforts to better the road, something a majority of visitors were starting to complain heavily about. August 15th, 2012 would find me back again at the Faire. At this time I convinced my current roommate to come check out the Faire and we would arrive two days earlier for another round of pre-setup before BOFA(Battle of Five Armies). This event would find Dead, Mateo (my roommate), and myself randomly constructing a set of stairs out of flat rocks next to the battlefield so fighters could go for a quick dip right off the battle field. I am happy to report that these stairs have already withstood two floods and are still laying strong. In addition some memorable moments for this event would be Elon and his massive fireworks display. Through his work with exploding fire, his well known dealings with Michigan mead, and the up-in-coming Brit Faire Coin, he would gain the name Dragon overlord of the Faire and go onto become Britannia Faire’s number one donator. If something needed a quick repair, and the heads lacked the money to purchase it, Elon would donate his for the Faire to press on.  This is also the event where Amos the Homeless War Veteran would show up on site to be “groundskeeper” for a bit. This matter was blown out of proportion and a lot of excess drama was caused but resolved fairly quickly by the new management staff. By October, Amos would be off site. 

The stairs as they lay, less than 24hrs from conception. Photo captured by Aurora during BOFA 2012.

Officially on August 24th of 2012 Lockhard, Elon, and Timmourne would join forces and resources and become the new management staff for the Faire.  September would be the last month of documented roadwork at Britannia Faire by Timmourne while Red closed the down the site for the season. Early April would find a work weekend in the schedule. Timmourne, Rainen, Reddwycke, Lockhart, Shawn Foster, and all three of the Feather’s were back out at the Faire shaking winter from her set. The road required more smoothing, potholes were filled, gravel was harvested and dumped in the road, and additional stumps were removed from Bandit Camp. Furthermore, the improperly winterized plumbing would be repaired by Shawn, and the first round of lawn mowing, mold killing, and Tavern sanitation would be complete.  

A glimpse of the swimming hole before the massive alterations attempted by a water dwelling Viking. Nature be nature. Water does what it wants. It creates a new every time it rains. Photo capture courtesy of Timmourne Darkwater.

The next time all interested management parties would meet up again would be at the Gates of Fire event, held in April. The management staff were looking for volunteers to help the Faire along this season. I had mentioned to Elon about Reddwycke already pursing me in the years past and my ever growing desire to live out at Britannia Faire. I had finished my two degrees that focused on the natural process of the earth, and all that dwell within it (Geology and Ecology), I had a huge desire to constantly be outside, and I wanted to shift my life into as little of a “no impact” lifestyle as I was able. I also had a plethora of experience dealing with landscaping, chainsaw operation, home renovation, even some of a mechanic skill set. Additionally, I had worked as a stage manager for a traveling illusionist and even had worked as a set designer for a downtown Buffalo theater; I understood how to create a scene in which to play in. With all this knowledge and skills combined, Elon would see it worth his money to sponsor me as the up incoming seasonal groundskeeper. 

There are many evenings when the air gets heavy and the fog rolls in covering the Faire in an eerie yet comforting blanket of mist. Captured Sept 29th 2013

And with that the 2013 season would find Lockhart as the cook-king: providing food for the people prepared offsite and served from the Tavern, Timmourne as the Land Marshall: drawing up a lease with me to live in the apartment above the Tavern, taking out an insurance policy for the lands under his property management company, and funding all the lawn maintenance and repair parts cost from his pocket, while Elon donates additional funds, fireworks, mead, and tokens for the Faire to play with. 

Mornings at the Faire created beautiful sky settings. The following is of the sky while looking outward from the Broken Spoke towards Bandit Camp. Captured July 15th 2013 at 625am. Mind you, bird thirty has been happening for the past two hours.

Elon, Anvil, and I would be heading to the Faire right after Gates to prep for the 3rd annual Masque Ball for an entire week as a test run as to how it would work out living at the Faire, before a final decision was made. By the end of the event it turns out the system would work and I would be due back at the Faire May 30th to start my year living, working, breathing, and documenting the happenings of the Britannia Faire portal both in and out of character.

Chapter 3: A Character's Living Space - Designing a Creative Backdrop

I have to admit, driving back to New York after Masque was kinda surreal. I had so much to think about and plan for... and pack... and store. At this time I was living by myself in an apartment that I had just recently remodeled to blend the mundane into my Character's Realm. As I was designing it, I was thinking, "Okay so if my woodland character lived in this 21st century apartment, how might the backdrop reflect that she was to reside in the woodlands.   

The bedroom of my old apartment, this was my first official den.

I was lucky enough to talk the landlord into reduced rent for renovating the second story apartment I lived in and designing a workspace/shop in the basement. He enjoyed my Kitchen remodel the most and liked that I was able to get rid of the horrid pea green color of the cabinets and pantry; a lot of elbow grease went into stripping the color off with paint thinner and sanding every surface the nasty color touched. In addition, I painted the band-aid colored brick, brown to give the kitchen a more woodland tavern feel. I enjoyed the exposed wood as contrast. My Character had grown to enjoy her surroundings and felt comfortable here within this setting. Figures that once I had finally remodeled everything to her liking, it would be time to leave and start the next chapter.

The cabinetry before the hours of refinishing.

The ending result: + exp to woodworking + exp to design +5 to surroundings thus effecting mood and creative play.

My favorite addition to the Kitchen would have to be the combination chalk and cork board on the far wall. Wish I could take it with me but its construction was permanent.

Even now, two years of roaming later, I still miss that kitchen and space.

I had an entire apartments worth of items that I would no longer need for this next adventure. Almost everything went into storage, and I only packed what I thought would be the essentials (Work clothes, shower supplies, towels, boots,{knowing that the Faire was already equipped with kitchen} minimal cooking and eating gear. A few of my other personal items made it to the Faire: i.e. my Grandmother's green double wide recliner, my punching bag, hiking and running gear, some personal hand and power tools in addition to my desk and dry erase boards for planning. However, the thing that took up the most space in my MEGA-tetrised car honestly was going to be my character and the things that would make her future Den burst with details about her many shifts. 

How is that for Grandmaster level of 3 dimensional Tetris. + to logic for playing this game. 

Aside from the front windshield, I made sure to have enough space in which to see my right side mirror, but honestly not more than that. 

Above the tavern, unknown to most eyes, resides a two room living space, heated by a tiny wood stove. In years prior, this area was inhabited by up to 4-5 men and a dog that shed endlessly. Gratefully, I was to be the only on site resident during the season and was able to turn this space into my Character's Den. As the night settled onto the valley, I would spend at least an hour at my desk planning what the following day's labor load would have in store: creating time tables, sketching concept designs, and composing lists on the white board above my work space by candle light and fire crackle. Having my own space shielded from the elements, gave me a piece of mind and additional creative energy in which to channel into the works that were to follow. 

I enjoy having a clean and organized "home base." If my home base is dirty or disorganized, my head noise becomes too loud to concentrate and my creativity feels hindered. The creation of this space would be the first thing I would be putting my time towards. The experience went as follows. 

April – 2013: Arrived to the beautiful Britannia Faire after Gates of Fire to work a full week until MasqueBall: a test drive of what would be the summer to come. Upon crossing the threshold my eyes took note of the dirt filled floors, a layer of soot particles that covered all surfaces muting the underlying colors, with evidence of Chloe shed all over the rug. For those who don't know, Chloe was the land owner's dog and a regular face at the Faire in years past. This is an image of what the BF Cabin was like before my remodel design took shape. 

Bits of bark and twig lay scattered behind and around the fire place confirming the existence of a once stocked woodpile, which now lay barren. I still really haven't thought of any good ideas for wood storage that wouldn't scatter bits of it all over, so I settled with sweeping the room once every other day, for this kept my socks happy. 

The open corridor leads to more storage/guest quarters on the right, the loft/astroplane straight ahead, and an unfinished bathroom off to the left. 

I was personally satisfied leaving this "bathroom" unfinished, as I used the space as more of a walk-in closet/changing area and personal grooming station. I deemed personal convenience not a worthy enough thing to spend extra money on at the time and spent the season walking downstairs, outside, or on cold nights, using a chamber pot when I had to use the bathroom.  Currently attached to the far wall are 3 eye hooks and a metal rod (not pictured).  This is where the dress-spheres hang. (Outfits, attire, & accessories for those that do not get the Final Fantasy reference.) I could totally see getting some running water up into the room, because the sink is currently a lie. However, as of recent news(Sept of 2014), it looks like the upstairs is getting a complete bathroom after all. That is something being worked on by Red as he stays at BF for the remainder of the 2014 season.

Glancing back towards the main entrance way one notices how the ceiling panels bow along most seams, light and electrical outlets remained open, exposed, and often sunk too far into the wall, while sections above the door remain open to the outdoors, plugged only by a piece of floating insulation. 

May 30th, 2013:  Even before I was to unpack my Tetrised-filled-to-the-hull Shifter (manual 2door stick-shifting car, that transforms into a truck and possesses the personality of a wolf companion in my head cannon) the first night was spent emptying the main room of all its contents, sweeping up the dirt, soot, and dog hair, before hand washing the floor with a powerful bleach mixture and some Cinderella scrubbing. Afterwards, my attention turned to the bowing ceiling panels. I spent time taking out the missunken screws that formed angled bumps on the ceiling and realigned them perpendicular to the panels. This was done for all three areas upstairs.

I ran into a problem with most of the ceiling panels, as most of the seams did not line up next to a stud to save its bowing existence. This issue was worked around for the most part and where there simply was no hope, a bit of smoke a mirrors came into play where I harvested some bark and used them for covering trim. (Pictured further down the blog)

An additional before perspective of the white walls and unfinished ceilings that were soon to be no more.

Fully emerged in the under-equip "bathroom", peering left. With a glance at the counter’s contents, one will spot the wood stain and wall paint that would be soon covering the walls and ceilings; and a hatchet, because Gary Paulsen.

A glance into the closet/changing space before the remodel. Check out that bowing, center ceiling line. Yikes… *Insert fun story about the bed sheet under the ladder.*
So about ten strokes into the ceiling job, the can of stain gets knocked from the top ladder platform and crashes to the floor, its contents splattering everywhere except its intended target: the ceiling.
Physics, more specifically gravity and Murphy’s Law, worked in tandem to provide this ironically funny situation. Anvil's bed sheet was the only thing large enough to soak up the ENTIRETY of the wasted can of stain.

Panning right, one can see the mess that was the Loft space, later to become Astroplane Central Station: where all the Squirrels stop by.

This wall went from initial drywall white, to a desert tan when Anvil was taking residence, to a dark brown when the room opened up and used as storage.

Continuing our pan to the right: As aforementioned this area is used mainly for storage or additional guest quarters. The original intent for this room was to be a walk-in-closet/storage area while the current closet area was to be a full bathroom with a personal shower and toilet. I reminded the owner that there are already two full working showers and a free flowing stream on sight to bathe in and suggested we install a fire pole for quick nightly pee sessions, or kick it real ol’ skool and use a chamber pot to save space and unnecessary money loss. 

A look at what the Loft was like upon arrival. After cleaning out and organizing the area, Anvil took the time to replace the squishy plywood and finish the flooring in the same wood paneling that was on the interior floor. Sadly I have no pictures of the before to after effect.

The upstairs "water-closet" area received a blue finish. This area would soon to have the “its-a-trap” sink as there were many a times I almost spit into the sink after completing my morning teeth ritual.

An alternate perspective of the unfinished water closet to observe the color contrast next to the newly stained ceiling.

The east side of the Den was painted a bright green. This paint was left over from my old apartment remodel in Buffalo, NY; the same color as my old bedroom.  Given the way the Tavern is angled in comparison to the valley walls, this side of the room receives the morning sun. My desk would take residence on this wall to encourage additional ray absorption which helped to start my day off "bright". 

The west wall of the room was painted a bold bluish-green color. The darker shade encourages sleep and provides a great contrast to the conifer foliage I had planed to trim off the room with. ***Swoon... all the wood***

At this point, I felt comfortable unpacking my Shifter. I literally watched the car breathe a sigh of relief as the suspension raised back up a few inches when I removed all the contents within.

I love how I brought all these books down with me thinking I would have all this free time to read. What a crock that was. Turns out, most nights I worked until dusk, made dinner in the dark, and passed out to recharge for the next day’s labor load, sometimes not even having the energy to start a fire. 

A perspective that shows the two-tone green paint job. In the beginning (the month of June mostly) Anvil, came down and stayed with me, exchanging his labor for the spare room in the Cabin. His nest complete with 8 blankets and 17 pillows (slightly hyperbolic) is set up in the background through the doorway.

About two weeks in, I was finally able to sort through the wood piles in the Back 40 and look for strips of bark. These strips would be coated in polyurethane and used as finishing strips to cover the breaks and shotty screw job that holds the ceiling panels in place. Smoke and mirrors my friend... smoke and mirrors.

Panning right, even the area over the fire place got a bit of a detailing touch up in attempt to draw away from the unfinished look.

Drawing the eye upwards the bark strips continue to frame out the panels. A strand of oak garland frames the door and covers up the unfinished window framing. Over the course of the season, I had three bats come in through the hole during the evening hours. Let me tell you trying to get a bat out of the den in the middle of the night with no light was a fun ordeal. The third time it happened, I tried to just shrug it off and wait until morning to deal with the issue, but was not able to sleep through the noise the bat made flying back and forth from door to door. 

At the end of season, I finally found time to finished the exterior and measure pieces of wood to place over the hole. This increases heat retention and solved the bat problem.

The bark flows into a hanging conifer forest canopy. **Use your imagination. **

Over my bed hangs the reminder of a conifer forest, the place where I feel most at home, environment wise. The causeway is framed in hanging pine cones while woodland animals can be found in the midst of the hanging garland. At this point the Den was almost set up to the point of home base completion.

All that remained was to set up my grab and go utility wall, for the most commonly used pieces in my multiple kits. 

At the end of a labor intensive day when the dusk falls and the temperature drops, this is my heat source. "The flickering firelight crackles while the scent of burning wood fills the air. A feeling of contentment and comfort fills my soul and I reflect how grateful I am to have this simple life. To live and breath by the natural cycles of nature adapting to what it has in store, I simply could not ask for more... well aside from teleportation... but that is another matter entirely."  - Sunday August 4th, 2013