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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

she of the brown dusty attic-smelling wings

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

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September 25th, 2016

A Hor with a Heart of Gold

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Mount Hor has a terrible name. Apparently, Mount Hor is also a mountain in the Bible, and I suppose it was named after that; I haven't been able to find anything about the history behind the name and can't fathom why you'd name a mountain "Mount Hor" without precedent. So Mount Hor is like the poor kid in school who gets assigned a storied, ancestral, and absolutely awful name: Benjamin Dover or Michael Hunt or Richard Lipshitz. And amid the teasing and the alienation that comes from a decision completely outside his control, he has to deal with the "But your great-great-grandfather the Civil War hero was named Benjamin Dover!" LIKE THAT MAKES IT OKAY. (I got relentlessly teased for the last name Walls, for pity's sake! Kids are senseless and cruel!) So poor, poor Mount Hor.

All this to say that yesterday, Bobby and I hiked Mount Hor. It is in what I term The Willoughby Complex but have since learned has the official name of the Northeastern Highlands of VermontTM. This means that they are not technically part of Vermont's Green Mountains! We have already hiked the two larger mountains in the area--Bald Mountain and Mount Pisgah--and I hiked Haystack Mountain* with my school.

*Which, until I learned its real name, I had named Boob Mountain because it looks like a boob in profile! The Willoughby area brings out the middle-schooler in the best of us.

The Willoughby Complex/Northeastern Highlands of VermontTM easily offer the most dramatic landscapes in a region of dramatic landscapes. The gap between the mountains Pisgah and Hor was ripped open by a retreating glacier, leaving Vermont's second deepest lake (the deepest being Lake Champlain) and dramatic cliffs pressing the lake shores on both sides.

The hikes to the summits of Pisgah and especially Bald Mountain were rather steep and rugged. (They are considered "moderate" in our Vermont hiking book, lol!) I expected much the same of Hor, but the mile-long (1.6 km) ascent to the summit was steep but not nearly as rugged, which made for a much nicer climb. I can pace myself on long ascents--this is why I'm good at snowshoeing--but scrambling rocks makes me tense and fatigues me very quickly. The hike to the top offers three different views: to the south and west from the summit overlook (looking toward the Greens) and two overlooks looking to the south of Willoughby and the northeast of Willoughby that are accessed by a flat trail that runs along the lake-facing edge of the mountain. This hike was pleasant enough that it's one I would strongly recommend for the Mereth Aderthad, because it is doable for someone in moderately good shape, even without experience hiking in the mountains. (For the truly adventurous, Bobby and I will take you to the fire tower at the top of Bald Mountain! :D)

If you want to SEE what I mean about Hor, click for pictures!Collapse )



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/390949.html

September 24th, 2016

Some Things to Share

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It's officially autumn, y'all. Vermont's famous leaves have begun to change. Bobby and I drove down to East Burke last night (about 40 minutes south of us; Burke is the Northeast Kingdom's other ski resort along with Jay Peak) for dinner at an Italian cafe with the very un-Italian name The Foggy Goggle. It was amazing food, and we skirted Lake Willoughby early enough on our way down to see the leaves and then again just after sunset, when the water was still that vivid blue color like it can't quite bear to let go of the daylight.

*happy sigh*

Tonight, we will have our observance for Equinox, so I have to fit in all my computer stuff during the day. We're also hiking Vermont's worst-named mountain, Mount Hor, which is one of the two mountains that form the famed Willoughby Gap. (We accidentally hiked the other, Mount Pisgah, earlier in the summer.)

I'm not a big sharer of videos and links in this space, but I encountered a few things this week that won't leave me so what the heck.

This article from the Huffington Post, Why We Need To Talk About High-Functioning Depression, I felt was important to share in part because I see a lot of myself in this and possibly a lot of other high-achieving women. My mood issues have always been cyclical--soaring highs and crashing lows--but I've always resisted viewing this as anything more than a personal quirk because I'm obviously a high-functioning person, and as a psych major long ago, I was always taught that an inability to function was the most important criterion for psychopathology. For the record, I'm still not convinced that my cycling moods are more than a quirk, but this article was eye-opening because it does reframe how we view depression and people with depression.

I think it's especially important because people who are high-functioning are ... well, high-functioning! It's natural to equate someone's behavior or presentation with their inner state, as though our emotions are precisely reflected in our actions and don't undergo a lot of emotional and cognitive tinkering before being presented to the work. A good friend once mentioned to me that it was odd to see me talk about feeling insecure about my work because I project such confidence. That made me feel, for a little while, like I wasn't really feeling insecure and was maybe looking for attention or doing that thing we do as women when we try to downplay ourselves. Then I realized that wasn't what she was saying at all. I don't want to appear insecure in front of a class or when giving a presentation or even as the leader of fandom projects, so it's good that I don't, but what goes on in my head is no less real because it doesn't show to the world. This is the case too with my low moments; they don't stop existing because I can still teach a class or revise a paper (even though I might feel crushed by the end of the day).

The article talks of perfectionism and bitchiness, which often go hand-in-hand and the latter of which is a particular indictment of many accomplished women. (And both of which I am guilty of sometimes myself, although less so on the bitchy count now that we've moved to Vermont and I feel my life and time is much more in my control.)

I've experienced both: an actual major depressive episode in my early 20s where I wasn't always functioning at my best, and the lows I've had for years (which are payment for the immensely creative and productive highs), which I weather through without, I hope, really showing it on the outside. I wouldn't wish the first on my worst enemy, but the second ain't a picnic either, and it was nice to see my experience reflected somewhat in this article.

The last two things I want to share are both dance videos that are stunning and have not left my head and make me REALLY want to dance, skate, something again! The first is by the famous dancer Sergei Polunin, who was the youngest principal dancer in the British Royal Ballet. The dance was intended as a swan song to end his career in dance (although the response has also inspired him to continue, although not in traditional company ballet). Embedding has been switched off, so I have to link: Sergei Polunin, "Take Me to Church" by Hozier, Directed by David LaChapelle

The second is a story told in dance of connection and love. I found it while searching short films to use in teaching literary concepts to my students. It's obviously NOT school-appropriate but was mesmerizing, and I couldn't stop watching it. Embedding has also been disabled so another link: Sigur Rós - Valtari | Future Shorts

Go waste some time with these!



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/390909.html

September 20th, 2016

I don't know what it is lately with my reembodied Elves kick. Maybe it is because Halloween is getting close. Maybe it is the encroaching dark of autumn. Maybe I am just weird.

I have written *gasp!* ANOTHER STORY. What is this madness?? This is two stories in as many weeks that I wrote for no better reason than having time and wanting to spend it on writing. Creative writing. Fiction writing.

The story was written for the Silmarillion Writers' Guild Around the Fire challenge, for kenazfiction, who offered one of those ridiculously tempting prompts that I find irresistible:

3rd/4th age Valinor-- Culture clashes and unanswered questions! For example... How do the Vanyar feel about the influx of relative "newcomers" to Valinor at the end of the 3rd Age? What happens when all of the Elves who can claim right to the title "High King" are re-embodied? Are any of the sons of Fëanor ever released from the Halls of Mandos, and if so, what is the reaction from the Teleri? What happens when members of a family who left Valinor for Middle-earth reunite with family members who didn't leave? Lots of territory to explore here! :)


I remember honing in on this prompt back at the beginning of the challenge, when I was hoping but still uncertain that I'd be able to write anything for the challenge. As the weeks swirled by, I returned to the prompts and kept coming back to this one. It sounded cool, but I had no particular ideas for it. About a week and a half ago, I went back to the prompts, wanting to write, and again came back to this one. This time, I thought about the experience of returning to Ocean City year after year, discovering each time that something cheesy and beloved that had been there since I was a kid had been replaced by something shiny and new. It's a very real sadness, even recognizing how stupid it is to mourn, for instance, an aqua-colored motel I never stayed at or a restaurant where the food was no longer very good but where my sister had once fallen off a chair.

Of that feeling came THIS. The story grew to almost 10,000 words before all was said and done. Here is the summary:

It's the Third Age. Tirion has developed suburban sprawl, and psychotherapists are in high demand. An unkinged Finarfin experiments with political radicalism and has turned the palace into a memorial of the kinslaying. Amarië composes beat poetry. And Finrod has been reembodied into a world and among people he barely recognizes. Dark humor, for Kenaz for the Silmarillion Writers' Guild Around the Fire challenge.


It can be read on the SWG, MPTT, and AO3.



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/390567.html

September 7th, 2016

Y'all. I wrote a piece of fiction! Do you know how happy this makes me because it suggests I might have a creative life again?!

The story is for Silver Trails, for the Around the Fire challenge the SWG has been running this quarter. ST asked for, "I would like a conversation between Caranthir and Maedhros, in Valinor, once they both leave the Halls of Mandos. Please don't write them at odds with each other." Which kinda had my name written all over it.

The summary of the story:

After wandering accidentally near to Mandos, Caranthir encounters a procession delivering his newly reembodied brother back to the world: Maedhros. Caranthir breaks into his tent, and the two discuss healing, mutability, and the things that will never change.


It's kind of a creepy weird story because I'm kind of a creepy weird person I like to write that kind of thing. There are allusions to Maedhros's canonical suicide, so tread with care if this is something likely to bother you.

If you think this might be your cup of tea, then you can read "Bone-White" on the SWG, AO3, or MPTT.



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/389155.html

September 5th, 2016

In all of our travels to Vermont and having lived here now for more than two months, we have never been to Burlington. Burlington is Vermont's largest city, recognizing that 1) that is like saying that Maine is the largest state in New England, which is certainly true although it is still far from a large state (hullo, Texas!) and 2) Newport is also technically considered a city, and it's possible to drive from one side of the downtown to another in less than five minutes. But Burlington does indeed have things that one expects of a city, like buildings over three stories and streets arranged into blocks.

Since we had never been, we decided yesterday to visit Burlington for the first time. It's about an hour-and-a-half drive from where we live, but there are no drives in Vermont that aren't gorgeous, so it's all good. We had in mind three big plans: 1) eat some Indian food, 2) ride the Burlington bike path across the causeway, and 3) polish it all off with a meal at Citizen Cider.

Here in the Northeast Kingdom, we are very rural but we aren't entirely backwoods. We have a phenomenal Thai restaurant in Newport and an upscale German restaurant and wonderful hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant in Derby, as well as lots of places offering great local fare. (In Vermont, it typically involves Vermont cheese, maple syrup, beer, or all of the above.) But we don't have an Indian restaurant within an hour-and-a-half of where we live, and since Indian food is my absolute favorite, then this is one of the few things I grieve about leaving Maryland (although the Mexican-Indian restaurant in the mall in Westminster has apparently closed, so I wouldn't have had many options much closer in Carroll County either).

Burlington, being a real city and a college town, has an Indian restaurant, so that's where we went for lunch: Shalimar. They had a Sunday brunch buffet, which we both opted for. It wasn't the best Indian food I've ever had, but it was definitely good enough to satisfy my months now of going without (woe is me, right?), and the palak chole (spinach with chickpeas) was incredible. I could eat a big plate of it now if one were placed before me. And they offered free, self-serve hot tea. Win!

We brought our bikes because Burlington has a famous bike path that skirts Lake Champlain and follows an old railroad causeway smack across the middle of the lake with water on both sides. Come tour with me the land of Bernie Sanders and Ben & Jerry"s!Collapse )



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/389010.html

September 1st, 2016

For over a year now, I have been working on writing and revising an article for the Journal of Tolkien Research. While I've published a few Tolkien studies articles, this was my first for a peer-reviewed journal. Well, after much work over the last year, the themed issue Authorizing Tolkien: Control, Adaptation, and Dissemination of J.R.R. Tolkien's Works is now available!

Aaaand, here is my article:
Attainable Vistas: Historical Bias in Tolkien's Legendarium as a Motive for Transformative Fanworks


This paper grew out of the work I've done with the Tolkien Fan Fiction Survey and my long-running interest in The Silmarillion as a pseudohistorical text written from a deliberately biased point of view. It also inspired the research that heartofoshun and I presented at the New York Tolkien Conference because, as I investigated how authors on Tolkien fanfic archives did or did not seem to use historical bias as an inspiration for fanworks, I first observed that different archives often had different results.

An excerpt from the abstract:

Tolkien's construction of his legendarium as a pseudohistory, complete with fictional narrators or loremasters, offers one means by which some writers of Tolkien-based fan fiction extend their authority to critique and change the details of the texts. As this paper will show, Tolkien employed fictional loremasters and wrote his books from their distinctly biased perspectives. Pengolodh, as the primary loremaster of The Silmarillion, was given a background that leaves him particularly susceptible to bias, and analysis of how characters and realms are discussed in The Silmarillion show that this bias reflects subtly in ways that even readers unfamiliar with Pengolodh's personal history are able to detect. Correcting this bias by showing other perspectives on the story becomes a motive not only for writing fan fiction but for extending the fan writer's authority far enough to allow alteration of details of the text.


The paper initially included A LOT more evidence and data to prove the historical bias of The Silmarillion. The editors suggested that a lot of this material could be moved to another paper, and I jumped at the chance to do this and so ended up cutting out a large part of the paper that dealt more with historical bias in the canon. I had felt, when writing, that the paper responded to the paper on historical bias that I hadn't yet published in scholarly channels, but since this paper didn't exist, I felt I had two cases to prove. (Y'all have been listening to me yammer about historical bias in fannish channels for years now.) Once I settle into my new job, I will be looking around for opportunities to publish what I cut out. It's essentially, at this point, a full paper that's basically ready to go.

Finally, I owe a huge thank you to heartofoshun and to Bobby, who read and offered excellent critique of the very first draft and cheered me on when I was at that point of writing where I wasn't sure I really had anything of importance to say. Thank you both so very much! I am grateful also to the volume's editors, Robin Reid and Michael Elam, as well as the anonymous reviewers, who offered such helpful feedback on later drafts.



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/388856.html

August 23rd, 2016

The support for discussing and planning the Mereth Aderthad on an LJ comm was overwhelming, so I've created the Mereth Aderthad community here. Anyone who has expressed interest in it so far has been sent an invitation, but you absolutely do not need an invitation to join.

Please note that I accidentally sent out a batch of invitations without checking the box for unmoderated status. I've set the community default to unmoderated, so I'm not sure which will prevail, but I've marked down who is affected by this, and as I see them joining, will make sure their status is correct.

If you're like, "What the heck is she talking about??" see this post here.



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/388015.html

August 22nd, 2016

If you want to know what the heck I'm talking about? Or would be interested in meeting up with other Tolkien fanfic people next summer in the picturesque mountains of Vermont? See this post on Dreamwidth or this post on LiveJournal and please comment there or message/email me if you're interested in further information about this.

I say there but it is worth saying again that this is a Tolkien fandom event, not a I-have-to-be-good-personal-friends-with-Dawn event. More details are on the posts above.

What I'd like to accomplish on this post is to decide how best for all of us to discuss this. So far, I have had about two dozen people express interest in possibly participating in a real-life Mereth Aderthad, and I'm sure there's more that missed the original post. My thought is that we need an online space where we can discuss plans and share news. I think this space needs to be members-only, since we will sometimes be talking about travel plans and locations and the like, and not everyone is comfortable with that in a public forum.

I would propose setting up an LJ community that defaults to members-only (although it is possible to make public posts for general announcements). Everyone who has responded so far is on LJ. It is possible to set email notifications even for those who do not regularly check their flist.

This is just one idea. If you have other suggestions, this is the place to make them. If we have multiple suggestions, I will run a poll on my journal and go with what the majority prefers.

Tagging everyone I've heard from so far: samtyr, indy1776, just_jenni, silver_trails, huinare, heartofoshun, engarian, shirebound, hrymfaxe, lignota, binkaslibrary, pandemonium_213, gratchets, oloriel, gingerrose, metamorphage, drummerwench, elfscribe5, angelica_ramses, duck113, ignoblebard, ithilwen, periantari.



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/387738.html

August 14th, 2016

As seen at heartofoshun's LJ and apparently done by half of everyone ... I have been working hard during the day to get ready for the school year but all work and no play makes Dawn a dull girl, right?

Pick the number(s) of the questions you'd like me to answer about my writing. (Like Oshun, I love talking about writing. Most writers do, I think!)

I will try to likewise be good about striking off numbers as I answer them.

1) is there a story you're holding off on writing for some reason?

2) what work of yours, if any, are you the most embarrassed about existing?


3) what order do you write in? front of book to back? chronological? favourite scenes first? something else?

The rest ...Collapse )



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/386575.html

August 10th, 2016

ETA: You no longer need to tell me you're interested in this! You can now join the mereth_aderthad community for updates and planning! /ETA

A few weeks ago, a few guilty parties who-shall-not-be-named were joking around about using my large "backyard" for a Mereth Aderthad. I thought it sounded awesome, so I mentioned it to Bobby, and he thought the idea was as awesome as I did.

So I wanted to see who may be interested in this possibility.

Here are some details:

  • I'm thinking next summer for a date, probably July or early August.


  • I live in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, between the town of Orleans and the village of Coventry, about 15 minutes from the Canadian border. The NEK is the most rural and remote part of Vermont (which is itself one of the most rural and remote states in the eastern U.S.) However, we are relatively accessible by train; the train station is only an hour away! (If that sounds crazy to you, consider that there are parts of the NEK where the train would be two-and-a-half hours away!) I would be happy to pick up anyone who took the train from the Waterbury station (which is the closest you can get to us for the least money) or any stations to the north of Waterbury (if coming from Canada). We'd also do our best to coordinate transportation for anyone who wanted to attend but was coming in by air.

    We could also pick up relatively easily from Burlington and Montreal airports.

    (If you'd be intrepid enough to drive, our house is actually really easy to find. You'd have to drive some dirt roads, but it's only ten minutes off the interstate. I got my family here, so I can get anyone here.)


  • As for lodging, Bobby and I can offer (on a first-come-first-served basis) a guest room, an air mattress in my study, and a couch in the common area. (Note that I am not opening this for claims now!) We also have a large backyard that is perfect for camping. We have a tent and could probably borrow others from friends if needed.

    The Northeast Kingdom is also a three-season tourist destination (autumn leaves, winter skiing, and summer lakes ... no one comes in the spring, which is cold and mud season!) There is abundant lodging in a our area. If we have a large enough group, Bobby has already volunteered to look into group rates at a hotel or B&B, or we could rent a vacation cabin. In short, if you're someone who likes a few more amenities than we can provide in a single-wide trailer on a working homestead, there are Options!


  • Bobby and I would cook one feast for the whole group made entirely from local ingredients. That would be our gift to the endeavor. :) If I know Bobby, too, he won't be able to resist pushing blueberry pancakes made with Vermont blueberries on everyone ...


  • Our area offers a lot to do, much of it free or nearly so. It is outdoorsy ... but Vermont also has a vibrant arts and music scene and some wonderful restaurants (although you might end up eating at a picnic table at some of them! The NEK is not a ritzy area.) This is not an expensive area to visit unless you want it to be.


  • This is a Tolkien fandom event. All would be welcome. I'm not going to turn away anyone who wants to attend, so please don't be shy.


If we decide to do this, it is very open and flexible at this point. I am willing to provide our little patch of the Northeast Kingdom, and Bobby and I will do our best to ensure that everyone can get here and have a place to stay and be able to afford to stay and participate. At this point, I mostly want to know if this is something people are seriously interested in. What will probably happen is that those of us who are interested will start talking about it somewhere that we all mutually decide upon and making firmer plans. I have ideas, of course--this is what I do, people! have ideas! :D--but I don't want to put the cart before the horse here.

If you'd seriously contemplate attending this, please leave a comment here, send me a PM, or email me at DawnFelagund@gmail.com so that I can include you in future discussion and decision-making.



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/386257.html
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