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NOVEMBER 2005

 

Anachronon the Wizard had been wondering if he was losing his powers.



More than once, he had mismanaged one of his new potions, accidentally transporting himself through time when all he wanted was to get a good night's sleep.

This sort of thing happened with increasing frequency and he was beginning to wonder if he'd transcribed some of his formulas incorrectly in his Potion Book. And nothing in his library explained this phenomenon satisfactorily.

For instance, one day not long ago, after taking a sip of one of his new potions he felt a familiar thrumming through his body and was swiftly hurtled through time and space. "Oh, gadzooks!" he cried. "Not again!" The next thing he knew, he was lying on hot ground, surrounded by people in bright costumes. A young man in jester's clothing helped him shakily to his feet. "Are you all right, sir?"

Anachronon looked around dazedly, blinking at the unaccustomed brilliant sunlight. "I think so, yes. Who art thou?"

"Why, we're the El Paso Renaissance Re-Enactors; just finishing our jousting and juggling exhibition, Sir Wizard. Glad you could join us." There was a light scattering of applause as the last act ended, and the crowd began moving toward a clustering of booths and carts filled with colorful arrangements of merchandise for sale.

"You must've had too much sun, sir. What you need is to cool off and have something to eat and drink." The young man did not seem surprised at the Wizard's appearance, nor did anyone else. Apparently, the way he was dressed made him look like another performer.

Tucking the half-empty bottle of potion in his pocket, Anachronon hurried through the crowd, first with the young jester, and then by himself, amazed at the vast display of items arranged for sale. Underneath a large banner proclaiming Welcome to The El Paso Street Festival, he saw colorful pennants on booths selling costumes, jewelry, candles, velvet paintings of Elvis and John F. Kennedy, incense and crystals and Tigua Indian pottery and what seemed like acres of beautiful crafts and artwork! There was even a fortune teller!

And food! His mouth watered at the sights and smells: roasted turkey legs, tacos, flavorful German sausage, Greek pitas, Mexican gorditas, roasted corn, and guacamole. Some booths sold candied apples, ice cream and other mouth-watering sweets. Not sure how he was going to pay for these things, the exhausted and ravenous Anachronon was reaching for a turkey leg when the potion wore off. "Oh, no, not yet!" he groaned.

Again there was a thrumming through his body, a swift hurtling through time and space, and then he was lying on the floor of his own chamber. He sat up quickly and surveyed his cluttered library and alchemist's workshop. Clapping his hands together in delight, he said aloud, "Those folk had the right idea! I won't wait for customers to come to me, I'll take all this to them!

 

"Gadzooks! I'll set up a cart at Scarborough Fair!"

 

"Ah, I can see it now. A full-service cart offering all my specialties!" His eyes sparkled at the thought, then his rumbling stomach reminded him of the ravenous hunger brought on by those roasted turkey legs at the Festival. "I'll hie to Elspeth's to see what's cooking for dinner!"

Not long before, Anachronon had become acquainted with Elspeth the Ambitious, a fine cook and recent widow of Impetuous the Dragonslayer, when she came to him for a potion to ease her loneliness.

 

Between bites of Pease Porridge Hot, the Wizard told Elspeth about the The El Paso Street Festival.

Her eyes widened as she set a fresh round of pilgrims' bread and a wooden bowl of berries on the table. "Egads!" she cried. "Now I know how to make money with all those herbs I've been growing. And I can get rid of all Impetuous's stuff so I can redecorate!"

Throwing her mourning veil to the ground, she fluttered her eyelashes and snapped her wimple and before Anachronon knew what had hit him, he had a partner for the Fair!


"The first thing I'm going to sell is yon wretched chastity belt!" she exulted.

Elspeth had made a tremendous row after the first time Impetuous had insisted she try it on. "Thou art rescuing damsels in distress while I'm wearing this?" she had screamed, throwing it at him. "I'll gut thee like one of thy loathsome dragons before I ever let thee put that thing on me again, Sir Dragonslayer!" she had yelled, grabbing a vicious long pike leaning against the wall nearby. After that, Impetuous never tried getting it on her again.

In her first collaborative weekend with Anachronon at Scarborough Fair, Elspeth completely sold all her parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, as well as her special seasonings which helped disguise the taste of rancid meat in those days before refrigeration.

Unfortunately, no one bought the chastity belt, although several men looked at it closely before their wives jerked them away by their ears. As she counted up her profits from those first sales, Elspeth gloated, "Aha! I'll just wager that I can make enough coin to have that catering business I've always wanted!"


Today, Anachronon is back at Scarborough Fair, his cart overflowing with wares, both his and Elspeth's. Surely there will be something someone can use?

Well, there's the chastity belt back again this week. Oh, the red sign, you ask?

Well, after that first weekend when his cart was almost overturned, Elspeth suggested Anachronon would be prudent to warn in advance about unacceptable behavior.

To get publicity for her new venture, Elspeth is catering a meal for fair-goers today: Pease-Porridge-Cold (next week it will be Pease-Porridge in-the-Pot, nine days old), Peasant Bread, Fresh Blackberries, and Ale.

Oh yes, and this delectable fare is served on fresh-cut wood trenchers! You'll definitely want to engage her for your next party.

After the chastity belt, the next thing on Elspeth's get-rid-of-it list was this bag of Impetuous' weapons and the two tall pikes leaning against the cart. "I can't walk anywhere in that castle without stumbling over these things. Impetuous picked those pikes up in Scotland, where that dragon got away from him near Loch Ness. Darn things keep falling over wherever I put them. Maybe another mad Scot will buy them!"

Of course, Anachronon's main business during the Fair is soothsaying, divinations and tarot readings He is also providing a magic show and a seminar: Incantations in Ten Easy Lessons. If demand is great enough, further seminars in Levitation may be developed. He also expects before too long to have a book-signing by the recent author of How I Survived the Black Plague.

Those scales are very useful for a wizard. He uses them for weighing everything from shavings of dried elephant's cuticle to precious metals to powdered henbane and other alchemy necessities.

He also takes dictation if you have need of his scribal services to make a contract or write a letter to Mom. By the way, Elspeth suggested this box was much too plain.

If you notice, it now is trimmed with stars and moons. "Thou needst more to catch yon customer's eye, Sir Wizard! Glitz sells!"

Among his skills, Anachronon includes the art of gilding. If you want the pages of your next book gilded, or some trim added to your wedding announcement, he's your man.

That gargoyle is a friendly pet that died suddenly from sipping the gilding ink. Unfortunately, Anachronon's reincarnation spell wouldn't work on little Grover here, but he successfully transformed him into a paperweight.

Anachronon sits on this stool while he does his scribal services. Those books are not for sale, by the way. He just likes having reading material nearby for reference or in case business slows down.

From the looks of that bag of coins, however, he's not doing too badly.

Potions may be made to order at Scarborough Fair or purchased ready-made. Aha! Bet you didn't realize there were that many glass bottles in those days, huh? Well, this wizard isn't called Anachronon for nothing, you know! The tall decanter is his most popular potion, the Orange Enhancer, guaranteed to elevate every experience, no matter what one's station in life might be.

"Wish I'd had some of that around when Impetuous was coming in from all those adventures," Elspeth confided. "He was so busy rescuing those ridiculous damsels in distress that he didn't have anything left when he came home to me!"

Oh, that dragon plaque to the right was made from Impetuous' Castle door knocker. Elspeth is hoping to expand her business into more crafts.

No, that dried elephant's foot is not for sale. Anachronon uses it in one of his specialty potions, although one of these days he may decide to include it for those who want to do-it-yourself. Chicken feet, on the other hand, are available for purchase when Elspeth plans to make a pot pie.

The basket on the right has pre-made potions.

Incidentally, the slightly singed birds fluttering in the basket under the cart are half-price, the result of another of Anachronon's spells gone awry. Elspeth wound up with graybirds instead of blackbirds in her pie.

Last week he even managed to sell some of the downright peculiar results of a few of his recent not-quite-perfect spells, and today he's offering that pulsating blob of cooing pink baby faces and some large dragon flies turned into jewels. What was supposed to have been gold ingots resulted in a bumper crop of little tarnished green-gold frogs and lizards. Well, one never knows what people will buy at Scarborough Fair. One man's trash, you know....

Maybe some adventurous soul will find these irresistible, including that slightly-the-worse-for-wear crystal ball.

And speaking of irresistible, how about one of these manuscripts from a looted monastery that Anachronon has taken as pawn for his services? Unredeemed, they've been taking up space in his library, so at Elspeth's suggestion, he's offering them at a bargain price.

"Most people can't read, thou knowest," he said, bemusedly. "Methinks they cannot read yon signs, much less read a manuscript." (The signs had been Elspeth's idea.)

"My dear Wizard. Thou dost not sell to illiterate peasants. Thou sells to those who want to Keep-Up-With-The-Sir-Joneses. Forsooth, I know how interior decorators like to use books for effect. Why, some folk who just always wondered what a manuscript from a monastery looks like might want one, too." She pinched his cheek. "It just taketh a little know-how."

And sure enough, a little bit later he heard her talking to a matronly woman with rings on all her fingers. "Imagine the impression a few of these old manuscripts will make with thy next guests!"

"Even better, let me show thee what we have here. One of these crosses will suggest thou hast been on a pilgrimage ... to Rome or Jerusalem, even. Why should a pious person like thyself who longed to go on a pilgrimage but never made it because of family matters or finances, not have the satisfaction of owning one of yon precious relics? For a good price, of course. Displayed prominently near one of yon used pilgrimage maps, who's to know thou didst not go?"

After the woman left, having purchased the biggest cross, a manuscript, and a used map to Jerusalem, Elspeth tossed some of these little pilgrimage tokens into the basket with the crosses. "Just a little extra for some less affluent customer," she whispered to Anachronon. "If they can't afford a cross, maybe they can afford this."

When Elspeth saw this chest in Anachronon's storage room, her eyes nearly popped out. "Methinks thou has overlooked a box of treasure," she opined, pulling out one glittering piece after another.

"Oh, those trinkets," he said, shrugging. "I never understoodst why folk would own such trifles, and I took them in pawn despite my better judgment. Gadzooks, that nobleman with the three legs and his wife with two tongues were in such need of my sorceror's services that I lost my normal caution. They wanted to throw some parties, but held back because of their afflictions. Now their feasts are the envy of all."

"Hmm," said Elspeth, thoughtfully. "Maybe I can get their names from you so that I can show them my latest menus." At his frown, she quickly got back to their business.

"Frankly, Sir Wizard, thou art probably going to take a loss on all those gewgaws in the pawn trunk and box. I don't know why thou doesn't take my advice and make a set price on each item. If it were mine ..."

"But it isn't, dear Elspeth," he reminded her. "I just want to get rid of it. What use do I have for a unicorn pillow or a gold jewelry box or fancy candlesticks?"

"Well, in my humble opinion, thy quarters couldst use a bit of gussying-up! Talk about drab!"

It was also Elspeth's suggestion to use the bird figures on either end of the cart. "Thy cart is too plain, " she fussed. "I still don't understand why thee wouldn't let me make a nice colorful awning. One must merchandise, my dear Wizard," Elspeth said. "And speaking of merchandising," she continued, "Am I ever glad to be getting rid of that collection of distressed-damsel stuff next weekend!"

The collection she refers to was unearthed as she worked her way through the castle store rooms. Elspeth has filled this trunk to overflowing with items left behind by several of the Damsels-in-Distress rescued by her husband, the Dragonslayer. None too keen in the first place about his having adventures while she was locked in a chastity belt, now that Impetuous is dead, she doesn't want any reminders, however pretty they might be. "Out with it all! I need the storage space!" she says. "I know several women who will pay a pretty penny for this and this and ...!"

Wow! I see what she means! Surely some wealthy fair-goer can find a use for these lovely fur purses, or the gold embroidered headdress or that brown fur hat. Oh, isn't that a jeweled book underneath that glittering cloth-of-silver wimple?

Here's another headdress among the jeweled crowns and magic mirrors. At the rate she is going, though, Elspeth will never be able to close that trunk. "How will thee get all that to the Fair?" Aanachronon asked her. She winked and said, "My dear, I don't worry about such trifles. My partner is a wizard, remember?"

That movement you just noticed under the cart is the wizard's faithful guard dog, Parsifal, stirring from his nap. Where have his master and the lady gone?

According to the sign by the hourglass, Anachronon has decided to take a break. Hmmm.... I thought I saw a couple disappearing into those trees over there. Wonder if Elspeth the Ambitious took advantage of that Orange Enhancer to spike Anachronon's ale while he wasn't looking?

Well, I don't think it's worth it, waiting for those two to come back. Why not see what else is offered at Scarborough Fair? Maybe you'll find a cambric shirt, and like the Simon and Garfunkel song, "remember me to one who lives there ...."

.....................................................................

NOTES:

If you are interested in book covers similar to those here, contact me at Jayceenep@aol.com.

This is the naked cart, with one coat of stain on it. Too light.

Here it is, after a dark walnut stain. More medieval, I think. My husband drilled holes for the dowel to push through. This permitted me to add s-hooks for hanging things. I put a board down the middle to serve as a partition so that I could prop baskets and boxes to make their contents more visible.

The base is made like most of my landscaped bases: cardboard coated with a brown paint and glue mixture, then sprinkled with a mixture of sand and coffee grounds. I used a sparse amount of model railroad green here and there. Although it's not visible in the pictures, there are wheel tracks coming from the edge of the base to the center. The wheels have been painted and muddied slightly and the hubs have been painted to look like metal. My husband says maybe they wouldn't have had metal hubs in those days. However, Anachronon IS a wizard, and he does have that name, so....

I made most of the items for this cart before I had a digital camera, so no step-by-step pictures, unfortunately. I used a stain on almost everything, to give the darker look that reflects my vision of what a medieval scene requires.

The "dried elephant's foot" came from an African necklace that I bought at an Episcopal Thrift Shop many years ago. I have used different pieces from that wonderful necklace for all kinds of scenes over the years. The weapons' bag is a dampened circle of thin leather gathered with buttonhole twist, then formed into shape. The two swords on the far left in the weapons bag are quite elegant and made of real steel; I purchased a set of them and their holder for hors d'oeuvres over twenty years ago.

The pease porridge was made with poppy seeds stirred into a Moccasin Brown paint-and-Tacky glue mixture; the pilgrims' bread is a button, painted antique white and browned with amber glass stain. The berries are clusters from artificial berry branches, touched up a bit with a black wash. Their wooden bowl was a small napkin ring that I stained.

Most of the baskets I have had for years; a couple were made from needlepoint canvas. I made most of the crates and boxes from basswood. The books were made from pieces of wood, foamcore, paper and leather. The coins were tiny confetti hole punches stirred into a mixture of Tacky glue and gold paint, then spread out to dry. After they dried, some looked like they were cascading from the bag in a natural way; others I separated by rubbing between my fingers. The bag is made from a linen-like fabric, sewed on three sides, turned right side out and dipped into a glue-water mixture. I pressed the bag flat between my fingers to get as much moisture out as I could, then formed it into the shape I wanted. It dried almost rock-hard.

The chastity belt was a combination of two different earrings from some odd-looking jewelry I found at a great prowling place called The Bonanza Store. Although it isn't visible in the pictures, the bottom of that chastity belt looks almost exactly like one I came across in my internet research. Several other items were also made from jewelry findings and beads. The copper metal box for the gilding supplies I purchased years ago at a mini-jewelry-making workshop. The stars and moons were glue-ons in a package intended for use on clothing.

The lantern is a very small Christmas ornament from JoAnn Stores, painted black, with a portion of birthday candle added. I dripped glue on to suggest the melted wax. The scales are a tiny Hallmark ornament which I stripped of its wee toys and Christmas lights and repainted. The bird figures on either end of the cart were earrings that I wore when I first started teaching.

For instructions on how the damsels' trunk was made, go to the Cheap Thrills Miscellaneous Items page and scroll down.

Several items for this scene were part of medieval swaps on the old MiniProjects group. The silver chest and crowns were made by Tammy; Viviana Kraulitis contributed some of the furs; Leslie Peters made one of the Damsels' hats. Sherry made the intriguing faces plaque in the box of Slightly Imperfect Spells; Pat made at least one of the shields and an axe or two and contributed a couple of mugs; Roz Weitzman made the Pandora's Box in the cart. The wonderful silver lame fabric used in the Damsels' trunk is from Sharon Brendemuhl, as were a couple of swords; the leopard skin fur is from Janice. I would like to give credit for the stool and the Scottish pikes; if anyone recognizes their work from one of those swaps, please let me know.

Everything for this cart had been completed for a long time and just needed two things: to be glued into place and to have some sort of awning or tent-like something for the top, which looked unfinished. (I guess Elspeth was whispering into my ear!) But I couldn't seem to come up with anything that satisfied me. Then one day I ventured into an interior decorating place that had a collection of the most wonderful drawer knobs. As soon as I saw this knob, I knew where it belonged!

The two swooping ornament thingies on top of the cart came from a metal holder for a potpourri jar.

I found just the ring by itself on a clearance rack and bought it for the feet, knowing I would use them in some fashion eventually. When I found the knob, then I knew where the feet belonged. Man, that ring was made of tough metal! I thought I would never get those pieces off without ruining them. I still have one; wonder where it will wind up someday?

Now I know why it took me so long to finish the Wizard's cart, and why nothing seemed to work as an awning or roof covering. Anachronon's cart is just too masculine in character to have anything like that - despite Elspeth's protestations to the contrary!

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Copyright <>Juawanna Newman . All rights reserved.