An Appropriate Imbolc
Today was a rather appropriate Imbolc for us. Today is the warmest it's been in weeks. It got up to 50F/10C, which felt positively springlike! However, the temperature will drop again tonight (not to polar vortex conditions, thankfully), and we are presently under a winter storm warning from the National Weather Service with 5 inches (12.5 cm) of snow predicted into tomorrow. And, for the next week, there are multiple winter weather events predicted, including an ice storm Tuesday into Wednesday and a potential snowstorm this weekend that one of the weather models is predicting could leave us with 30+ inches (75 cm).
Today was the first day that the yard wasn't completely covered in snow in two weeks now. It is still mostly covered but patchy where the Goldens have had the most traffic. Unfortunately, when we have good snow coverage, the Goldens abandon all idea of correct places to pee and poop, so we have turds on the patio now. Bleh.
We had to take Alex today to a vaccination clinic at a nearby pet store. His rabies vaccination is overdue, and in the past few weeks, there have been two confirmed cases of rabies in Manchester. Both in cats. His regular vet could not fit us in (we already have an appointment for late February, which was the earliest Bobby could get when he called after we got back from England), and this is nothing to screw around with. Alex and Lance have harried cats that have gotten into the yard before, and we have a possum living in the chicken shed. As it turns out, the clinic prices for vaccines was much lower than what we pay at the vet, so we took both dogs and got all of their vaccinations up-to-date.
Lancelot, a.k.a. Phil, having a nap on the couch during the Super Bowl after being super-brave about getting his shots.
One hour later ... same position, same place, different dog: Alex, a.k.a. Old Piss, sleeps off the excitement of the day.
And the two of them.
Phil in a ball. (This required extensive scratching of and circling on the couch before it could be accomplished.)
We went to lunch at Salsarita's, which is a little Southwestern food franchise owned by a local family whom we have become chummy with over the years. In the summer, we belong to the same pool. We haven't seen the wife who owns the franchise in a while, and she was thrilled to see us and said she'd worried we'd moved or something had happened. This is one of the things I like about living here: that you do actually feel that people might notice if you died or disappeared.
We also started our first seeds today: three kinds of tomatoes and three kinds of peppers. (We will grow many more varieties of the latter, but since jalapenos, cayenne, and poblano are relatively easy to find as plants, and since we have a lot of success with these, then we don't usually start these from seeds since, lacking southward light, we have to start everything under grow lights in the basement.)
I am plugging away at the reading for my final paper for my Enlightenment class. I am, at present, reading Rousseau's Social Contract, which is far better than his Confessions. Autobiography sounds more interesting than political treatise, and even the title Confessions suggests something more titillating than Social Contract, but the man was honestly so disturbed and paranoid (and very long-winded) that his autobiography is hard to read. It's page after page of paranoid ramblings about how this one wronged him and that one is out to get him.
Given this, I did something dumb the other day. My B2MeM writing prompt is the song Autumnal by Arcana. I thought it'd be a good idea to listen to it again and see if I could at least get a vague idea of what character I wanted to write about. Ha. Hahaha. I ended up with whole scenes coming at me like a freight train through the Shire, and now I really, really want to work on it, but of course, I'm stuck working on my paper. If we're home some days this week because of the weather, I hope I can make quick work of the reading I have left to do and will be able to justify allowing myself some time for it.
In other fannish stuff, I finished putting together the SWG newsletter today. I want to recommend Oshun's biography of Tuor, which was a really impressive task (I'm afraid I wasn't very encouraging when she told me she was writing Tuor and my response was something like "OMG you're brave!"). It is really an excellent biography that expertly illustrates how material from The Silmarillion becomes essential to The Lord of the Rings.
Bobby was listening to Professor Olsen's lecture on the Númenor material in Unfinished Tales while I was doing the HTML for Oshun's biography and half-listening too. It has provoked some very thinky-thoughts. I am forewarning for the half-baked nature of what follows and the lack of citations.
Professor Olsen was discussing how Aldarion, unlike many of Tolkien's characters, was obsessed with the journey east rather than the journey west. My initial thought was, "Of course he was; he was forbidden the journey west, yet the longing remains, and he ventures east to sate it, but this is ultimately inadequate." The analogy I later used to Bobby was of a person dying of starvation who eats grass; the grass provides a sense of temporary fullness, but the essential urge that provoked that action remains: He is still starving, and the behavior can only repeat until he dies or actually manages to feed himself. This got me thinking about journeys eastward in the legendarium; Professor Olsen notes that they are often of moral dubiousness.
However, I think this is what sets my viewpoint apart most Tolkien fans and scholars--what leads me to call myself a Tolkien heretic. We all know what the journey west means in Tolkien. But the journey east--often undertaken for morally dubious reasons, i.e., Fëanor--is often undertaken with the intent of locating oneself or one's people within the larger world versus the isolated, protected "paradise" of the West. It is often undertaken with intent of becoming relevant in the larger world. Professor Olsen notes how Gil-galad's letter in Aldarion and Erendis increases the larger relevance Aldarion's eastward travels. The journey east is voluntary abandonment of the privilege of paradise in favor of joining the affairs of the world.
This is what has always attracted me to Fëanor and his story: that the greatest of the Noldor chose to make his life and the lives of his people more meaningful than they would have been had they remained in Valinor. Bobby notes that this is very much an example of Tolkien's idea of "Northern courage," i.e., pagan (not more easily aligned with Christianity, as the journey west would be). To bring this back around to my original topic of Imbolc: They choose to be of the world. They choose to improve the world. I am not a pagan but do identify as heathen in the literal sense of that word, "of the heath": I find spiritual meaning in the cycles and workings of the Earth itself. There is no "beyond the Circles of the World" for me; I am of this world, a creature of dirt and dust like any other, and I recognize my potential to arise in different forms when this existence dies ... but the key word there is to "arise again." So one could say that it behooves me to improve the world in which I live.
Of course, the Elves would have related to this sense of permanence in this world. And when the Elves stagnate morally and set themselves up to fall, they neither journey east nor west but symbolically try to establish the west and covet and keep it: Gondolin, Doriath, Nargothrond, Lothlorien. Numenor among the mortals. Subcreation becomes hoarding and neither advances its people spiritually or in terms of their deeds.
Again, just off the top of my head, so be gentle if you shred me. :)
This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!