Saturday, April 14, 2007

Reality Check

So, the other day my friend Bev (see blonde girl in armor in earlier entry) was at the stables where her new horse is being trained. She took a dufflebag of armor to "sack out" ye horse (his name is Darshan). "Sacking out" a horse basically means getting them used to terrifying, horse-mauling predatory things like, say, crinkly paper blowing by in the wind, mud puddles, umbrellas that loom up at you (which I find scary, too), pieces of string lying in the road, etc. For those of you who don't work with horses, I am totally serious. The most unlikely things appear as DANGEROUS PREDATORS to the average horse. Seriously, my husband's current horse, Woody, a huge half-draft behemoth, once jumped about ten feet sideways when one of my cats came trotting down the fence rail toward him. Luckily he jumped away from Gordo, who was bent over adjusting the saddle girth, and not right on to his head. Yes, a cat is a predator, and horses are prey animals, but it's kind of irrational in my mind to shy away from a predator who's, say, smaller than your nose... but that's just me.

Anyway.... armor can be really really scary! It's shiny and it clanks and clacks and it's a NEW THING and oh my! So, what you do is things like, say, tie some clanky armor bits to the saddle and lunge the horse around a bit until that clanky noise every time their toes hit the ground becomes old news. Then, you graduate to wearing the armor and sitting on the horse. With a horse like Darshan, you get the "Why are you dressed like a trash can? Can I have a cookie?" response. Other horses are pretty sure you are from outer space and have come to perform vivisection.

Anyway again.... there was some guy there at the stables, who asked Bev what was in the clanky bag. When she told him, he said, "Oh, but it's not real armor, is it?"

"Actually, it is." She replied. "We do jousting."

"Yeah, " he aceded, "but it's not real armor, like they had back then."

"Well, actually, it is." she repeated. Which is true. This is not plastic, fiberglass, tin, or otherwise cobbled together prop armor. It's real armor made on real olde patterns by real armorers using the same types of tools used centuries ago for people to wear as protection so they won't kill each other playing dangerous horse games.

Mr. Ferrous Craneous continued to bleat, "Yeah, but it's not real." At this point I might have been tempted to hit him over the head with a vambrace or something. "Does that feel real to ya?" Whack! "How about this?!" (Bonking him with a close helmet). I think the idea of somebody reviving a Medieval or Renaissance equestrian sport like jousting is just so outside of some people's personal reality that they just can't believe it really happens. Excuse me: what's the state sport of Maryland? Hm?

Jousting, real jousting of various types, is going on pretty much around the globe these days. There was a recent episode on some kind of infotainment show (we saw this on tape, since we don't have cable or watch TV since Fox cancelled Firefly, harumph) with a "warrior" theme where they took their hand-picked "average people" and trained them as jousters. The bombastic host of the show, a stunt-coordinator in real life, I believe, was blathering and blustering about how "This is the first time real jousting has been done in over 500 YEARS!!!!!!!!!" Um, I repeat: what's the state sport of Maryland? Yes, there are people all over the world who "joust" on bicycles with nerf bats or whatever, but there is also a lot of real jousting going on, and pretty much has been continuously for hundreds of years. There were tournaments in the 19th century using antique, refurbished armours from "back then", even. Now, if you know the right people, you can have brand new armor made to order that's every bit as nice and "real". So there.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Signs of spring #2: Chickens in bushes

Yesterday was sign of Spring #1: removing snow tires. Today the birds are in the flower beds, sunning themselves against the white (ugh) garage wall. Now, they've been doing this for months, but only in the last few weeks have there been so many flowers in there with them.