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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.


August 15th, 2019

Some SSPs!

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The summer is winding to a close for me, and it's been a busy one in terms of research and writing. I have a few new things out in the past couple of weeks that might be of interest!

First, I was interviewed on the Athrabeth Podcast about my survey research into the Tolkien fanfiction community. I talk about Tolkien fandom history, cultures, how Tolkienfic interacts with authority, and the use of Tolkienfic to address social justice.

I just posted a response on The Heretic Loremaster to C. Brandon Ogbunu's How White Nationalists Have Co-Opted Fan Fiction. My response, Dangerous Ideas Are Not Fanfiction considers what I see as some fundamental failings in Ogbunu's comparison.

And I wrote a story for the incomparable [personal profile] heartofoshun in honor of her 100th character biography. Yes, this was a few months ago. The story is called Boundaries (link to the SWG), and now that I've lived with it for a couple of weeks, I am more comfortable in saying that I'm really pleased with how it turned out. Here is the summary:

Fingon is constantly pushing Maedhros's boundaries, but this time, he has gone too far. Put on mandatory sick leave after an injury, Maedhros decides to spend his three weeks recuperating alone, setting Fingon on a chase across Aman to find and make amends to his lover ... and yes, transgress one more boundary, one more time. Maedhros/Fingon.

It is also on AO3 and my website, and comments are welcome in all places. This was my first time writing for a Matryoshka challenge; usually, since I write the prompts, I lose the element of surprise that is essential to making this challenge type work. The good part about my stressful conclusion to the school year? I lost all memory of the Matryoshka prompts I created during that time! So I finally got to participate. Never one to slouch, I did the difficult challenge for my inaugural attempt. It was harder than I expected! I really don't understand how people advocated for taking the word count limits out that I had the first time I ran a Matryoshka because they wanted to write 1000-word ficlets for the difficult prompt set. How??? The story ended up longer than it would have otherwise, and the prompts forced me to introduce elements that I otherwise would not have--but that is is the whole point, and since one of the elements is the little harp that many people loved, it turned out okay.

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


August 10th, 2019

The other major thing that happened toward the end of the school year/beginning of summer break is that we welcomed our miniature donkey, Luna, into our farm family. This means that our farm family is complete. No more animals! (Well, except for the constant rotation of various poultry, but that doesn't count.)

A miniature donkey has been on my wish list for a while, just because. Ostensibly, Luna is a companion for the goats. In reality, she is a pet.

Omg I freaking love her.

We weren't supposed to end up with Luna. Bobby put in a deposit on a miniature donkey foal this spring, and we were supposed to pick her up in August. Midway through June, the owner contacted us: Their young daughter was attached to the foal and they had decided, as a result, not to sell her. They were apologetic and even offered us money in excess of the return of our deposit. (To which we said no; we are not the types of people to get pissy because a kid becomes attached to an animal. I was happy to let her go to a loving home. I hope they are lifelong friends.) But this did leave us without our hoped-for mini donkey. Bobby went back to Craig's List, and lo and behold, Luna had just been posted. She came from a miniature horse farm where they were downsizing by rehoming their donkeys. (They'd hoped to breed them, but their jack wasn't interested.)

This meant that we ended up with Luna more than a month before we'd planned. I posted to Twitter at the time, so I'm going to let that thread speak for itself.

Luna's Arrival Twitter Thread

It was a unique experience, driving a cargo van with a miniature donkey in it. Lots more Luna pictures are below the jump, if you're interested.

More Luna PicturesCollapse )

She is a very chill, low-key animal. She basically does three things: She eats, she sleeps (including taking afternoon naps, which is super cute), and she stands. She is now pastured with the goats; she's very sociable and was visibly lonely when she was by herself, even though the goats push her boundaries from time to time and she has to snap at them. (That's goats for you.)

We did have one exciting incident when we'd had Luna about two weeks. We were often grazing her in the backyard because the electric fencing wasn't set up yet, and Bobby was leading her from the barn to the yard when my young neighbor and her friend happened by on bikes. They were very excited to see Luna--and Luna was very terrified of the bikes! She broke free of Bobby and galloped full-send down the road to the cornfield at the end of the road. (I-91 is past the cornfield, so this was pretty scary for us too!) She galloped up and down the corn for a few minutes before slowing, stopping, and letting me approach, but the poor love was terrified when I led her back. It took her several days to settle down after that.

She's very affectionate, though a little shy. Bobby calls her spookyhorse because she is easily frightened of things. She likes to be approached on her terms, not ours. Bobby and I will sit in her paddock, and within a minute, she is pushed up right next to us with her head over our shoulder for scratches. She loves "donkey hugs" when I drape my arm around her neck and stand leaning on her.

She can be loud and lets us know when we are not meeting her expectations. One of her biggest expectations concerns what we have termed "scarytime." Scarytime is when the sun descends behind the trees. Now Luna has access to her stall at all times, so she could put herself in at scarytime, but the scary things that come with scarytime are only fully banished if Bobby or I walk with her into the barn.

(Actually, she gets oats at that time, and I think the oats more so than Bobby and me dispel scarytime.)

So if scarytime happens, and we don't come down, she brays to let us know, "Hey! It's fucking scary down here!" She's going to be in for a rude awakening come winter when scarytime happens at 4 o'clock and neither of us are generally even home yet!

The rest of the homestead is doing pretty well. The goats are almost full-grown; we'll know soon if they'll reach breeding weight and if we'll have kids next year. We have entirely too much poultry right now (and ducks still on the way, jeezum ...). I don't even know how many chickens we have. Twenty-two chicks, I think, still under a heat lamp in the shed, plus about eight layers and the two roosters, and four turkeys, out in the coop. But 'tis the season. This is our meat for next year. We are still eating last year's poultry, and this year we are raising more chickens (but growing the turkeys smaller because 45lb/20kg per bird was too much last year).

We had a groundhog family move in destroy a good bit of our garden. Mama had moved out, leaving the two younglings behind. Bobby trapped and relocated one, but after researching more and learning that one has to practically drive across the state to keep them from coming back, when he caught the second one ... well, let's just say that one is nibbling lettuces in God's garden now.

The bees are doing great, but we won't get honey this year.

But the moral of this story is that Luna is awesome and, even if the least productive, the best addition to our farm family ever.

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


May 29th, 2019

We had to trade in my Jeep, Sherman. Vermont has an annual vehicle inspection requirement, and what it would have cost to fix what was wrong with him was more than he was worth. I've been driving him on an expired inspection sticker for four months now, nervous every time I pass a cop car.

I'm sad. Sadder than I should be! I am not a materialistic person--identifying "shopping" as a pastime is as odd to me as saying "nailclipping," both being necessities that are vaguely satisfying in the moment but nothing I crave to do on the reg--but I get very attached to the possessions I do have. And I was very attached to Sherman. He was quirky--he hated going up hills and would sometimes refuse to shift out of first gear--but fun. Going over frost heaves or even moderate-sized potholes in him was like being on a carnival ride! He was constantly dirty in excess of what seems plausible for our dirt roads. He was brown--I called him my big brown beast--so it didn't show, but his license plate was unreadable most of the time because of the mud. I only drove him to work and weekend errands during snowboarding season but always like to imagine that he and I were going on a great adventure.

Bobby got a remarkably good trade-in for him, considering all that was wrong with him, and put it toward a used red pickup truck. The pickup truck is key; as our homestead has expanded, so has the need for a vehicle that can transport larger loads, or just things (like straw) that you don't want inside your car. It is indicative of how well Bobby knows me--we have been together 23 years on Friday--that when he called to tell me about it, he offered that I could call it Fëanor as consolation to having to give up Sherman. The thing I most like about it, though, is the 600-mile/6-year warranty. That is a very Walls thing to like.

I drove the new truck today, and it was like driving Sherman but less wacky. Normally, though, I will drive the Suzuki and Bobby will take the truck since he does most of the ag-related pickups. But the back windshield on the Suzuki shattered while Bobby was attaching his bike rack, and he took it to be replaced today. (The other good thing about the pickup: no need to fuss any longer with racks for things. We can put kayaks and bikes and such right in the back. See, logically, I know it was a good choice. I still miss Sherman like crazy, though.)

In a total 180, Bobby and I were sitting outside in the hot tub on Friday night. It was a chilly night and the hot tub was above-average hot, so there was a lot of steam, and what I thought was a plane flew over, spewing a distinctive contrail behind it. After I made the requisite InfoWars joke by shouting, "Stop spraying us!" I noticed that the contrail was rather ... luminous. "Hey, that's really trippy," I said, assuming it was a trick of all the steam from the hot tub or maybe the atmosphere.

And then it passed beyond the steam and resolved itself into a string of little lights. We see all kinds of wild shit in the sky because we have relatively little light pollution and also spend a lot of time in the hot tub and thus staring into the night sky. Satellites passing overhead are commonplace; this looked like a train of satellites. I still wasn't convinced that it wasn't a trick of the atmosphere or steam, but it was weird and cool, and I made a mental note to look up what might have caused it.

Well, Bobby beat me to it, and it turns out it was indeed satellites: sixty of them, launched by SpaceX to beam broadband Internet. I've since learned that there is worry about the launch of more of these--up to 12,000 (!!)--and the impact that would have not only on astronomers but anyone who likes to look skyward at night.

So something that was cool and strange when I first saw it has now been tainted, and I'm almost embarrassed at how excited I was when I first saw it. Because it was cool--beautiful even--but I don't know that I want to see a freight depot's worth of them on any given night, truckin' across the sky.

Night before last, we were treated to bright flashes of light at large intervals and at random across the sky. They were like camera flashes. I feel like I see these often but only out of my peripheral vision, where I don't trust what I think I've seen, but I was looking directly at them twice this time, as was Bobby. I don't know what this was.

Anyway, the SpaceX satellites: this is the third time we've seen something like this by accident. We've seen the International Space Station go over twice too, without planning to see it, just happening to be outside and looking up at the right place and time.

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


May 1st, 2019

Me and Estella, Lobelia, and ElanorThe kids are here!!! What a perfect way to celebrate Beltane. This morning, Bobby and I drove down to Stowe to pick up our two little doelings. Well ... you can see that "two" turned into "three" quite easily. We arrived to the farm and a pen of six little kids, all a week or two old: five does and a buck. The owner remarked that this is the time of year when it is hard to sell kids, so if we wanted three instead ... she then went away for three minutes, which was enough time for Bobby to look at me with eyes taking up half his face and remark how cute the little black one was for me to know: Yep. Totally going home with three.

I'm glad! They've only been here a few hours, and it is already hard to imagine not having one of them.

We named them after female Hobbits. I had initially suggested naming them after family matriarchs, but we're approaching the point where we might start selling what we produce here, so Bobby has been poking me about coming up with a name for our homestead. He would like a Tolkienish name. Naturally, I did not disagree. The Hobbit names fit better with that. Twist my arm.

So I am happy to introduce, from left to right, Estella, Elanor, and Lobelia.

Estella, Lobelia, and Elanor

More Goat PicturesCollapse )

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


December 24th, 2018

Wordish Things

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I started this post yesterday and then Bobby, who was playing Mario 3 or our NES, was like, "You should come in and play too!" and the Siren's call of nostalgic video games overwhelmed the urge to writing about books and writing.

First of all, I'm doing a Read Around the World challenge. I started it p-locked (and my list is still in-progress because I'm also trying to read a book set in each of the 50 U.S. states and have more to add than what I've listed so far) but am opening it up because 1) I'd love recommendations on what to read and 2) thought it might be useful for others who want to expand their reading horizons.

There's a lot of YA on the list, which is more an occupational hazard than a personal preference. Read more...Collapse )

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


December 23rd, 2018

A Rec and an SSP

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I want to do two quick things!

First is to rec the new story of my beta-author, Idril's Scribe, The Stars Above the Sea. This is the sequel to her story from earlier this year, Under Strange Stars. USS is an AU story in which Glorfindel is tasked with tracking down Elrohir, who was kidnapped as a child, sold into Umbarian slavery, and currently fighting alongside Haradrim rebels. USS is a phenomenal story, and The Stars Above the Sea is an excellent sequel about Elrohir's journey to rejoin his family in Imladris and how he copes with what he discovers about himself and his own misgivings about Elves and magic. Idril is a phenomenal writer--able to paint beautiful scenes in a few sentences in a way I envy--and I recommend all of her work, but if you want something longer to read over the holidays, these two in particular.

I'm also SSPing myself: Home Alone: Forgotten in Formenos. Yes, it is a Silmarillion/Home Alone crossover. I have been wanting to write this for two years now; it is not finished, but I hope I can finish it during the holidays.

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


December 15th, 2018

Read Around the World

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Titles in bold are written by an author who is from the country or whose parents are immigrants from the country.

I am not doing this for the U.S. list, where I will try to read a book set in each of the 50 states.

I am listing each book I read for each country. On the U.S. list, I am listing only one book that I think best fits that state.

Titles followed by (YA) are young adult or teen books.

Lists of novels by country (Wikipedia)

Recommendations are super welcome.

The ListCollapse )

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


December 12th, 2018

It's never good when I outdo myself in terms of working hard. Between Monday and Tuesday, I worked 28 hours: two 14-hour days. I'm not as tired as I probably should be, but I still did not allow myself to bring work home tonight. I felt like a turtle without my shell coming home without my backpack, but here I am.

We had our first ski day at Jay Peak on Monday. It went pretty well, aside from a lack of information and some general disorganization from the staff. I led the group that does Nordic for half the day, then ice skating for half. Except we were told the wrong order, so we snowshoed in the morning and then couldn't go ice skating in the afternoon, so I read to the students in the lodge while they colored and passed around my phone playing Woody Puzzle. They were not happy snowshoeing; we'll go cross-country skiing next time, which will be its own brand of struggle. We went 4.5 miles/7 km, which was too much for them. Which is sad: I'm three times their age and handled it just fine. (Admittedly, I did intentionally take them up what I knew was a huge hill. >:^))) And Vermont is the fittest state in the U.S.!

So I'm going to wade into the DNW discussion because I'm partly to blame for starting it. [personal profile] independence1776 has a post here that articulates a different perspective from mine on the matter of ficswaps and DNWs in particular. Some of you probably figured out that I was the person Indy was carefully not referring to by name, so here is my perspective on the subject, under the cut for people uninterested in Tolkien fandom or hearing more about this.

Read more...Collapse )

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


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.

Read more...Collapse )

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!

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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!

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