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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

she of the brown dusty attic-smelling wings

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet

"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.


December 7th, 2018

Crossposted from Tumblr, where I received an anon ask: Do you think after Maedhros dies his spirit goes to Mandos or does he face the eternal darkness for “breaking” his oath? I love the character and I often think about what his ultimate fate is because he had an end like no other elf that I can think of.

I'm trying to do better about posting fannish stuff here, so here is my answer!

I don’t think the Everlasting Darkness is a thing. I think Maedhros goes to Mandos (if he chooses) or remains a spirit in Middle-earth (if he chooses not to go).

(Personally I think that he–they all–choose to go to Mandos.)

His seven sons leaped straightway to his side and took the selfsame vow together, each with drawn sword. They swore an oath which none shall break, and none should take, by the name of the Allfather, calling the Everlasting Dark upon them, if they kept it not; and Manwe they named in witness, and Varda, and the Holy Mount, vowing to pursue with vengeance and hatred to the ends of the world Vala, Demon, Elf, or Man as yet unborn, or any creature great or small, good or evil, that time should bring forth unto the end of days, whoso should hold or take or keep a Silmaril from their possession.

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


December 6th, 2018

Well, Hello!

bread and puppet
I've had more new followers on my Dreamwidth in the past two days than I think I have in the past two years. I assume most (all?) of you are Tumblr refugees. Thanks for following me and welcome!

Much of my content here is under friend-lock because I talk about my real life a lot, and I am a teacher in a small town and need to keep some conversations off the public stage. If you are interested in Tolkien (or other things I'm interested in), I will add you back so that you can read my posts. If I don't add you back, just ask. Fannish posts are always public.

I have not been doing much here fannishly in recent years. I had shifted most of that content to Tumblr because many of the people here were old friends who, by this point, often weren't involved in Tolkien fandom anymore. I will try to do better about posting fannish stuff here too. You can also subscribe to a feed of my blog The Heretic Loremaster at [syndicated profile] heretic_lore_feed.

Many of you may know me less as a person than a Fandom Name. I am, of course, the founder and owner of the Silmarillion Writers' Guild and present/publish in the field of Tolkien studies and occasionally still write fanfic too. (I'm working on one now, in the cracks of free time allowed me by my teaching career.) What you may not know:

  • I am a middle school humanities teacher, and possibly the only thing I'm more passionate about than Tolkien studies and the SWG is the idea of improving equity through access to a strong public educational system. I work long hours--between 50 and 60 hours a week--so there are times when I go quiet. I am not gone; I'm usually doing something SWG-related every day but just have trouble keeping as active as I would like.

  • My husband and I live in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, where we get a little closer each year to self-sufficiency on our small homestead. Living lightly upon the Earth is something that I/we also value a lot.

  • I have too many little side-interests, including calligraphy and illumination, Middle Eastern dance, and open-water distance swimming, to name the first three that come to mind.

  • Fannishly, I am most interested in the Finwions. I don't believe in negative engagement in fandom. I come here to make, talk about, and celebrate what I love, not what I dislike. So I will not pick fights with people over characters they like that I do not. In fact, I'm often itching to be convinced into liking a broader range of characters and developing a deeper understanding/appreciation of those I don't particularly care for.

Please feel free to say hi and tell me something about yourself! :)

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


November 20th, 2018

DW was acting weird last night and not wanting to let me post to the SWG community, and in trying to make it work, I posted the announcement in the wrong place. Please visit [community profile] silwritersguild to see the actual announcement.

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


August 9th, 2018

Back from Maine!

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Bobby and I left on Monday to spend a few days on the coast of Maine. It was his agreement, when we moved here, that he would take his Elven wife at least once per year to see the ocean. In reality, we are not any farther from the sea than when we lived in Maryland, and the drive is a good bit shorter, because Maryland traffic.

This will mostly be a picture post because we didn't do a whole lot that was exciting. (I lied. I wrote more than expected. Oops.) We ate some wonderful seafood and spent a lot of time on the beach. We took the Goldens with us, but I want to round up a bunch of Golden photos and do a separate post for Rhapsody. <3

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


May 5th, 2018

Spring has finally come to northern Vermont. I am comfortably wearing short sleeves right now, and the early-flowering trees have that faint crimson or pale green haze just starting. Bobby uncovered the hillbilly hot tub yesterday; it had a big chunk of ice still floating in it, but an afternoon in the sun and it was gone. We put our vegetable seedlings out for a few hours to harden off for the first time yesterday, and Bobby got the garden beds uncovered and discovered that we had kale, leeks, carrots, and lettuce successfully overwinter under row covers, despite the fact that it got down to -30F/-34C this winter.

I freaking love this time of year.

Work continues to be exhausting, but that needs its own post. For now, I am going to waste some time before getting started on some SWG chores and do an m-thing that I stole from [personal profile] heartofoshun.

1. Have you ever driven an electric car? Nope.

2. Do you live in an area that is prone to tornadoes? Not anymore, thank goodness. However, Friday night, we were under a tornado watch for the first time since moving to Vermont. (And this is rare enough that it apparently made national news!) The wind was fierce: knocked over our lamp post. In Maryland, we lived in the strip just east of the Blue Ridge Mountains that was most prone to tornadoes in the area; we used to sometimes have multiple warnings in a day and had one touch down in our town while we lived there. Not Tornado Alley but quite enough for me, thank you!

3. How many closets does your house have? Four, none walk-in. We live in a single-wide trailer, so storage space is not a Thing. (However, we live in the sticks and have two sheds and a barn, so more than enough storage space.)

4. When was the last time you saw someone you went to high school with? I went to high school with Bobby and see him every day! Aside from him, I don't even remember. I went to a magnet school; we came from all corners of a large school district and ended up scattering to all corners of the Earth, and despite going to school with many brilliant people, somehow no one has figured out how to successfully host a reunion yet ... (Bobby and I have talked about hosting something here, it's so desperate!)

5. Have you ever eaten moussaka? I don't even know what it is!

6. What breed was the last dog you saw? I saw my two Golden Retrievers just a few minutes ago.

7. How long have your parents been together (or how long were they together if they no longer are)? Thirty-seven years, one year longer than I've been alive.

8. What has been your most epic cooking failure? I'm not sure. I don't cook a lot; that's Bobby's household job. I did make vanilla ice cream once and forget to put in the sugar ...

9. Do you read other people's survey answers on here? Totally! Let me know if you grab it from me; I'm terrible at following any social media these days.

10. What's your bedtime routine? I stop working on whatever at 10 o'clock. Bobby and I do something brainless and relaxing for an hour. In the winter, that's usually watching TV. In the summer, that's usually sitting on the deck or in the hillbilly hot tub with a drink and the stars.

11. Do you agree with the saying 'distance makes the heart grow fonder'? No. My unfortunate experience, after moving here, has been that distance makes me easier to forget about, at least based on the fact that I don't even seem to exist to my parents anymore.

12. Have you ever been to Mexico? No.

13. Do you have a bad temper? Not really. I have worked hard to wrest control of my emotions. It's essential for a teacher and especially for a teacher of emotionally disabled kids--who are usually Olympic-level button-pushers--which I was for five years. People often tell me how calm and patient I am, which is hilarious because it does not feel that way on the inside of my brainpan!

14. When was the last time it stormed where you live? Friday night we had our first thunderstorm of the year. There was thunder and lightning for about two hours, then the scary wind started.

15. Do you ever fact-check the things you read on the internet? Of course, all the time.

16. How long would it take you to walk to the nearest store? Probably about an hour to Thibault's in Orleans or an hour in the other direction to the Natural Market in Newport. Coventry is not a big enough town to have a store, and I live a good forty-five-minute walk outside of the village anyway.

17. What five words best describe your mother's personality? kind, generous, timid, accepting, nature lover

18. Do you know any transgender people? No.

19. What's your dream job? Exactly what I'm doing: teaching humanities in a school I love where my work serves a significant need.

20. How old were you when you got your first smartphone? I was in my early thirties. I had no interest when they were expensive, but once they came down in price, it made sense to have one. I am not against smartphones, just have very little interest in much of what they can do and tend to use mine relatively little.

21. Have you ever had a parrot sit on your shoulder? Not a full-sized parrot, no, but I've had many budgies scramble around on my shoulders.

22. In the morning, do you eat breakfast first or brush your teeth first? Teeth! I do not feel fully human until I have clean teeth.

23. What's something you had to learn the hard way? What I loved and valued. I was a bright kid with my head on wrong. I thought that success was having an impressive job and money. I realized in college that I didn't love the work I was expecting to do, and since my family didn't offer a lot of support in my education, I kind of blundered through, into an unsatisfying job, and only once my hand was forced there, went back to school for my teaching license and found that, beyond subsistence, money and especially prestige don't offer me a lot. I sometimes wish I'd realized this younger, but I'm happy in my life now, so who knows that this would have been a better road.

24. What sort of window coverings do you have in your living room? Curtains on the big windows and these accordion-looking blinds on the small.

25. Has anyone in your life ever treated you abusively? Bobby and I broke up for seven months when we were nineteen, and I had a relationship with a man who was emotionally abusive. This was also when I had my major depressive episode and all that came with it.

26. What's the weather like right now? It's warm (upper 60s), overcast, and finally not windy!

27. How long has it been since your last breakup? Well, it was the emotionally abusive guy when I was 19-20, so that would have been sixteen years ago.

28. Can you concentrate well while listening to music, or do you find it distracting? I love instrumental music on in the background when I'm doing anything that requires creativity or deep thinking. Popular/Vocal music is a distraction, especially if I'm trying to write. If I'm doing menial or tedious work, I like music that can engage me imaginatively and make the task less dull.

29. What's the name of the amusement park closest to your house? I don't even know! I think there is a theme park in Montreal; if so, that would probably be it.

30. Do you like The Rolling Stones? Some of their songs, yes.

31. What was the last single item you spent over $100 on? Jeez, I don't even know! I have very little interest in buying things. I'm more likely to spend money on an outing or a trip or even a really good meal. Most of what I buy (books, seeds/plants, the occasional item of clothing) are very small-ticket items. Possibly it was Sherman, my used Jeep, last fall?

32. What's something you've been struggling with lately? This past week, I had terrible insomnia on Sunday night and so spent the rest of the week fighting exhaustion. Exhaustion is probably A-number-one. I get exhausted to the point of pain sometimes and struggle too with feeling like I'm failing in other areas of my life that I don't have time or energy for, like writing, calligraphy, fandom ...

33. What was the last caffeinated drink you had? I had a cup of coffee with breakfast this morning.

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


April 16th, 2018

Why We Need Small Archives

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I posted some data yesterday on my tumblr about commenting rates during the first two weeks of B2MeM versus on AO3 and the SWG. You can read the post for the full data and analysis, but the short version is that commenting on B2MeM is much better than on the other two sites (and commenting on the SWG is slightly better than on AO3). Based on my research on commenting behavior to this point, I believe this is due to community, namely that when there is a strong sense of community on a site, commenting is more frequent.

This opened a discussion on the value of large versus small archives. And I'm wearying of trying to have a conversation in the tiny comment boxes Tumblr allows us (although I'm grateful that comments are at least a universal option now! this is a major reason why I have been able to enjoy Tumblr more lately). Let me start by saying what my ideal fandom would look like.

I have supported AO3 since the idea was first proposed on LiveJournal all those years ago. I think that a large multifandom archive is an essential part of the fandom, and all the better if it is a nonprofit like AO3. However, I do not think that this should be the only option. In the Tolkien fandom especially, a big part of our culture has always been building independent sites and archives. At one point, there were more than sixty Tolkien-specific archives, and this does not count communities established on social media sites like LiveJournal and Yahoo! Groups, nor does it count sites for resources, author's personal websites, etc. And I continue to believe that Tolkien-specific sites run by Tolkien fans should be a part of our fandom.

So I suppose this post becomes my manifesto about why I think small archives are important to fandom, particularly the Tolkienfic fandom.

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


August 11th, 2017

This thing, which is technically a response to the SWG's "Just an Old-Fashioned Love Song" challenge (using the Smashing Pumpkins' song "Thirty-Three" that was in fact an Important Song to the nascent love story of Dawn and Bobby Felagund), got out of control because it was also inspired in myriad ways by the Mereth Aderthad, most obviously [personal profile] grundyscribbling's idea of the Feanorian Family Vacation and [personal profile] hrymfaxe's request for fail!sex. It ended up *gulp* 15,000 words, which probably means that just my hardcore readers will bother with it, but at least it was fun (if long!) to write. Here is the Official SummaryTM from the SWG archive:

Against Maedhros's wishes, Fingon is off to a summer retreat in the mountains, a retreat designed by the Valar for newly reembodied Elves. Amid games of kickball and group therapy, Fingon makes a friend, discovers the Noldor haven't actually invented everything, and begins to grasp the complexities of his post-reembodiment relationship with Maedhros. Maedhros/Fingon, set in my Republic of Tirion verse.

I am just posting it to the SWG for now: Swans. I will likely cross-post it later this weekend; preparing a 15K-word story for posting is tedious and I'm ready to be done with it for tonight!

I also finally created a series for these Fifth-Age stories I've been writing lately--Republic of Tirion--so they're all in one place and in order.

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


June 1st, 2017

Yesterday, Bobby and I celebrated twenty-one years together. We celebrate the anniversary of when we started dating, not when we married. We were young nerds in love, at the end of our 9th-grade year. I was 14, and he'd recently turned 15. We had been friends for the entire year at our magnet school for math, science, and computer science. (Neither of us went to our home high schools, so we often marvel at how precarious our even meeting was: We both applied, were accepted, and decided to go; we ended up in the same homeroom with identical schedules except that he took PE when I was in band.)

He was the social superior: very liked by everyone and popular in our isolated nerdy class. ("Magnet kids," as we were known, mostly took classes together, since we also tended to be in "gifted and talented" classes in our other academics as well.) I was middling, the kind of girl who doesn't really get noticed but starting to forge my own identity and express myself more freely. Going to a magnet school was a big deal for me in that I wasn't stuck forever with peers who had known me mostly as an awkward nerd who was despised by most other kids and had a slew of humiliating baggage associated with her. It gave me a chance to start over again.

Anyway, in May of 1996, I realized that I had a crush on Bobby--actually, my best friend pointed it out to me, in a note she wrote to me on her graphing calculator, of course, because we were blithely naive of how stereotypical we "magnet kids" could be--but even though we were friends, he was a social class above me, and I didn't think there was any hope of reciprocation. In retrospect, it says something about my self-esteem at the time that I assumed that this person who was my friend, who was never anything but kind to me, would never entertain the possibility of dating me.

So, long story short, said best friend and one of Bobby's friends who found out about my crush orchestrated the two of us dancing together at the last dance of the school year. And we haven't looked back since.

We never actually asked each other out, but one never asked the other to get married either. We just fell into stride with each other, and that's where we've stayed. (On this theme, we've never had "a song"--the thing to have when we were first together--but we do have a poem.) I sometimes tell him that being with him is the same as being alone ... and for an introvert, of course, that is a high compliment.

We're long past the point where I'm supposed to wonder and want other people, right? I truly don't. I told him the other day that if he ever finds someone he prefers to me (he insists he won't), then I'll just live alone, with maybe some animals and a lot of houseplants.

"And a lot of spiders," he added.

Indeed, he knows me. (He asked me to remove a largish jumping spider from the ceiling the other day that I would have totally just kept around and loved like people love cats. I much prefer spiders to cats!)

So yesterday I buzzed out of work pretty early for me and popped into my email just long enough to make sure that the SWG hadn't crashed into the Sun or anything dramatic like that, and then took the evening off from everything. We went to Parker Pie for dinner and shared hot Buffalo wings and a pizza with hot Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, and ricotta cheese. I had a Citizen, and he had two Hill Farmstead beers, so I drove him home (the lush ... I always drive him home! my beer allergy works out really well for him!). We took the Goldens for a walk down River Road--Guinevere is in training as a therapy dog and has homework five nights a week, so Bobby spent half of the walk working with her while Lancelot and I were the distraction--under a watercolor evening sky that was doubled in the river. We returned right as the sun set to sit out on the deck and read until it got too chilly for me to bear. (It is still unseasonably cool.) Then we warmed up in the hillbilly hot tub, saw the first fireflies of the season, and I saw seven satellites (as well as Jupiter being insanely bright right now).

It was a great evening. It's been a great twenty-one years.

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


May 29th, 2017

Since I kicked the hornet's nest on that one, I think it's only fair to update with what I've learned/done since.

  • There is still no information on what has triggered the deletions. A commenter on the original post by yiudirnt suggests that people who have had their journals/communities deleted have asked for more information and received none, which isn't terribly surprising, since new!LJ doesn't seem particularly able to handle its English-speaking userbase.

    However, there is also no evidence that any outside links will get you deleted. Frankly, that'd be most of us. I feel badly because my post yesterday about this gave some people that impression. Generally, spam algorithms go beyond "OMG link!!" and take into account things like the number of links, destination of the link (is it a site where spam is likely?), the IP address (is it from a country that produces a lot of spam? is the IP blacklisted?), and other keywords in the post (are there words like fake, cheap, drug, rolex, nfl, or anything porny that tend to make frequent appearances in spam?). But I say that even as I admit that LJ doesn't seem to be particularly sophisticated in, like, anything lately, so I might be using my brain too hard on this one.

  • Case in point: [personal profile] hhimring has posted that she had a cross-post from Dreamwidth rejected by LiveJournal because it contained a link to an outside site and was therefore "spam." The link went to either the SWG or Faerie. (AO3 links were not a problem. *eyeroll*) Anyway, this is not exactly the same thing as deleting an entire journal/community, and it's possible that different algorithms are being used here, but it does suggest a low level of sophistication that honestly makes my brain hurt, like OMG!link = spam.

  • Likewise, per comments in the original post, journals with links behind friends-lock were just as subject to being deleted as a spambot as those where the links were in public entries. Which makes zero sense since the whole point of spambots is to litter the Internet with links like Canada goose droppings on a golf course. Again, this suggests that LJ ain't really thunk things through.

  • Per comments in the original post, some people who were deleted contacted support and got their journals back. Others did not.

  • I asked yiudirnt if they minded sharing the evidence they'd gathered, but it seems to be a list of journals/communities only (whereas I was really hoping to find out what links, link volume, etc. were in the deleted journals), and they are in a fandom where privacy is a serious and legitimate concern. So unfortunately no new information came from that inquiry.

  • I was chatting with [personal profile] makamu about preserving fan history through all this. I emailed the OTW just a little while ago to see if 1) all of this is one their radar and 2) if Open Doors (or someone else in their organization) would consider getting involved in preserving fandom history. When I hear back from OTW, I'll update here with whatever I learn. It's touchy because, of course, these are journals; the personal and the fannish are often intertwined in a way that they aren't in other fandom spaces, content wasn't necessarily created with a broad audience in mind (even if publicly available), and much content is locked. The best solution I've come up with is to maintain a list on a shared Google Doc and just contact people and ask them to migrate their content to Dreamwidth or set their accounts so a volunteer can do so.

    ETA: I heard back from OTW's Open Doors. Essentially, they can import communities with consent of the moderators. This isn't much different from importing to DW, however. It does present another option but doesn't solve the bigger problem of "rescuing" content that has been abandoned on LJ and may be deleted. So that leaves me thinking that the next item on my list remains the best option. I'm open to other ideas.

    (Wait, didn't I say I wasn't getting involved in this?! Nrgh.)

  • I'll be contacting almost seventy of them as part of letting them know about the silwritersguild export to [community profile] silwritersguild and will include that information. (Which, if you know about and haven't told me that you know about it ... please do. Because I will be contacting everyone who's not a mod and hasn't acknowledged the export! Seventy. Sheesh! Please help me out; it literally takes ten seconds! Thanks a million to those of you who already have!)

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


May 28th, 2017

It Has Begun ...

... LiveJournal has begun suspending journals.

Currently, the suspensions are under the pretense of catching journals/communities set up by spambots, but this post reports legitimate journals/comms being summarily deleted with little recourse by the owner. The triggering factor seems to be that the post contains links to sites outside LJ.

This is worrisome because it's troubling that years' worth of posts are being deleted based on a script without apparent review by a human. It's also troubling because it signals that the administration, under the new ToS, is indeed willing to utilize item 2.5 in the non-legally-binding-English-kinda-sorta-ToS: "Users breach hereunder may cause termination of his/her access to his/her Account or deletion of such an Account as well as full or partial deletion of the Content or suspension thereto without prior notice" (emphasis mine).

At the risk of succumbing to a slippery slope here, my main worry concerns item 6.1.1: "The Administration reserves the right to delete Account and Blog if User did not access the Account or the access was restricted for more than six months due to a breach hereof." There is a lot of fandom history on LJ on journals owned by people no longer active in the fandom, and possibly no longer even reachable. Now spambots are obviously less desirable on a site than old journals that haven't been updated since the Second Age, but content = server space = money, and an unused journal isn't holding its weight in terms of ad views either. It's digital dead weight.

I don't know what should be done, or even if I want to do it. The HASA Rescue Project was a months-long drain on my life that I'm not eager to undertake again anytime soon or ever. I set aside projects (like the B2MeM ebook!) that I've never been able to pick up again. Perhaps when I reach out to people who posted to silwritersguild about the migration of content to Dreamwidth, I ought to include a note about migrating one's journal and communities to DW. I'm happy to help people do this, but I can't even fathom how to save content from LiveJournal other than accepting that it's every person for themselves this time.

(Thanks to acciochocolate for the tip on this!)

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

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