dawn_felagund: (funky pumpkin)
The weekend before last was peak leaf weekend in the Northeast Kingdom. Unfortunately, because things usually work this way, after weeks of perfect weather, it was rather cloudy and gray, which didn't make for the best conditions for photography. But I went out despite and took a walk down the road I live off of to photograph the leaves.

I live in a rather unusual place, as far as what one thinks of as stereotypical Vermont. Coventry is situated in a valley, with the Green Mountains to the west and the so-called Eastern Highlands (the mountains enclosing Lake Willoughby) to the east. The road I live off runs alongside the Barton River, so the ecosystem is largely wetlands rather than the mountains and forests that come to mind as Vermont's typical landscape. However, it is exceptionally beautiful: The river is calm and a near-perfect mirror of the surrounding landscape and sky, winding through tall grass with the occasional tree. I've been wanting to photograph the river for a while, and peak weekend seemed the ideal time to do it.

Come take a walk with me! )

Oh Poop

Oct. 17th, 2016 07:51 pm
dawn_felagund: (alex eek)
I never thought I could use an icon with that poop emoji that people have a bizarre attachment to.

Friday night at about 1 AM, Bobby and I were rudely awakened by a screeching-blaring sound coming from the direction of our storage freezer and washer/dryer, which are tucked behind a curtain in the kitchen. We initially thought the sound was coming from the freezer, but after dragging the freezer out into the kitchen, we discovered it was the septic tank alarm. Uh oh! It was screaming its little head off and the warning light was lit up red.

I've lived in a home with a septic tank for all of my life except for the three years that I lived in an apartment in Ellicott City and had sewer like normal people. But we were both at a loss as to what the alarm means. Bobby got it shut off and we returned to bed, where he perused his iPad to discover the myriad things both silly and serious it could be, and first thing in the morning, he called the septic guy who did the inspection. He came out for an emergency call but couldn't tell us much on the spot except that we weren't in immediate danger of coming home to a bathtub full of poop.

The septic guy came back today, and we have a better idea of what is wrong without having a full notion yet of what it will cost to fix. The electrical box was foolishly placed in the tank itself--apparently a common practice when our house was built ... erm, delivered (since we live in a single-wide! *banjos!*)--and not surprisingly got wet and all the wires burned up. Which is scary but also kind of cool: We likely had an underground poop fire in our yard! If there was a way to make the concept of Silent Hill more horrifying, there it is. Anyway, since there is no wiring, then the pump is not working. What we're still not sure about is if and how damaged the pump is and what it will cost to fix/replace if it is. If the pump is fine, the repair will be a few hundred dollars. If the pump needs to be replaced, it will be a few thousand. Eep.

It stinks (DID YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE) but it could have been worse. It could have happened over Thanksgiving weekend when we had a house full of people. It could have happened in the middle of winter. The alarm might not have worked and we would have literally had poop coming out in our backyard, which is full of poop enough thanks to the Goldens. (More good news from Brian the Poop Guy: If our tank were to overflow, it would go into the backyard before it backed up into the house. Yay?) We can weather the cost, even if it means we'll be eating home a lot more in the weeks to come. Until everything is sorted, we have to be careful with our water usage. The septic guy is coming back tomorrow with the plumber and electrician: a whole poop-tank team! Now let's hope we don't get any crappy news ...
dawn_felagund: (halloween dawn)
Our primary source of heating in our new house is a wood pellet stove. Back in Maryland, we had a woodstove in the basement and electric baseboard heat upstairs that we resisted turning on as long as possible because it was so expensive. The woodstove, on the other hand, was wonderful, and we used it as much as we could. However, it took a while to start it, and it was messy, producing a lot of brown ash that would cover everything in the house.

The pellet stove, on the other hand, starts with the push of a button and does not seem to be nearly as messy. We've had it on three times now--temperatures were in the upper 20sF/-3C a couple nights this week--and it made the house a little TOO hot! But since we live in an area where it is not uncommon to have temperatures as low as -30F/-34C, then we will be grateful for it in short order, I suspect!

Midway through the summer, Tractor Supply Company had a great pre-sale on wood pellets, so based on the usage of the previous owners (who used the pellet stove as their primary heating source as we intend to do; we have a kerosene backup), we ordered three tons (2.7 metric tons). This weekend, they were delivered, and the entire weekend was blocked off on our calendar for transporting them from the TSC in Derby--which is about twenty minutes away--to our house.

We have a little cart for our Subaru, and using that, it took three trips and about three hours to move all three tons of wood pellets. We put about 2.5 tons in our new barn and about a half ton in the log cabin shed alongside our house. Let me tell you, moving three tons of wood pellets is hard work! They come in 40 lb/18 kg bags. A 40-lb bag is not difficult for me to lift and carry, but repeated 150 times with much bending and lifting was rough! By the end of the third round, my poor little forearms were DONE. Bobby drove the Subaru down to the barn and was carrying the bags from the cart to the barn, where I waited with outstretched arms for him to dump the bag onto them, which I would carry into the barn and add to the pile. One of the last ones he plopped entirely on my forearms, and I barely made it! He was complaining of fatigue, and I wanted to say, "Imagine how I feel!" I have above average upper-body strength for a woman, but really.

Well, it's done now. My upper arms and shoulders ached something fierce this morning, so we went hiking on Mount Hor to keep me from stiffening up and so I could enjoy a dose of pain-fighting endorphins. Also because the views were going to be amazingly gorgeous.

I have a ton of photos to post from a stroll along River Road last week for the peak leaf weekend, and a hike along the ridge at Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest mountain. Honestly, I have been completely lost in this story I am writing based on the Scottish folk song "Tamlin." I am hoping to have it done in time to post it for Halloween at this point; it is much longer than I expected, in a large part because my first attempt at it was not as character-based as I like my writing to be, and characterization eats a lot of pages, at least how I do it. But when I'm on the computer, I don't want to be doing anything but working on this story. I stayed up till 1:30 last night with it.

I'll try to get those other pictures posted soon, but Mount Hor is going to jump to the head of the line. It was a gorgeous day: sunny and mild. Last weekend was the peak for the leaves, but as you will see, the leaves are still pretty spectacular!

Willoughby Gap Just after Peak Weekend )
dawn_felagund: (yavanna earth)
This is apparently peak leaf weekend in our neck of the woods. We saw a lot of out-of-state tags during our errands today. That's great! Come enjoy our leaves and support Vermont's economy!

My posting here should relieve anyone who was worrying that, no, I did not reach an ignoble end in a killer-clown attack at school yesterday. It was a little of a rough afternoon, and my colleagues and I gathered at the end of the day, kind of heaved a collective sigh, and I said, "Well, the good news is that no one was killed by clowns today."

Bobby had a rough week too, so we both very much needed to recalibrate. We discovered while picking up the perennials from his colleague on Thursday that we are about ten minutes from Brownington Pond, so we loaded the kayaks on top of the car and went out to explore.

It was just what we needed. About an hour-and-a-half out on the pond with the setting sun making the surrounding forest glow like fire and we both felt like new humans. Pictures are below the cut with the usual caveats that they are cell phone photos taken from a kayak on the water. I do my best to keep them clear and my horizons straight, but currents and winds sometimes foil my best efforts!

Pictures below the cut )

So I did end up letting that cute bearded guy who followed me up the creek take me out to dinner. We went to the Newport Ciderhouse for their Oktoberfest weekend. I have written here before about how I have the occasional allergic reaction to beer. A lot of beer makes me itch and cough a little, but it's very minor, and so I limit myself to one and never mix varieties, and I'm fine. But every now and then, I get a hold of one that progresses beyond itching and coughing. My face and lungs fill with mucus, so I'm constantly coughing and sneezing, and my face gets red and hot. I had tasted 14th Star's Maple Breakfast Stout when Bobby's ordered it before, but when I had my own pint last night, I was three sips in and felt that distinctive itching start between my shoulder blades. I asked Bobby to finish it for me and resigned myself to sticking with water going forward. Unfortunately, it didn't stop there, and I had a full-blown allergic reaction! D^:

I enjoyed dinner as much as I could given that my head felt like a water balloon being filled by a garden hose. When we arrived back home, I went to bed to read and ended up falling asleep very early, which I probably needed because the Goldens were very restless a couple nights this week, and I was operating under a sleep deficit.

I still can't figure out what causes that reaction. It seems so random. It's happened with four different beers: two stouts, a porter, and an IPA. The only thing I can figure is that it's a specific type of hops or yeast being used. Since Vermont has so many amazing ciders, I'll probably be sticking more closely to those.

Tomorrow, we are hoping to hike Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest mountain, so I hope I will have more pretty leaves and mountains to share soon.
dawn_felagund: (autumn leaf)
Autumn is still descending in its multi-hued glory to Northern Vermont. Yesterday was a grumpy, gray, rather miserable day: 55F/13C, damp, with those drifting, misty showers that seem to ooze out of the air itself. Nonetheless, Bobby and I decided to take a couple-hours kayak jaunt out on Holland Pond, about a half-hour northeast of us. It had been recommended to him as a rather remote and especially beautiful site among the Northeast Kingdom's myriad ponds and lakes.

The rain thankfully held off for the duration of our paddle, and there was enough wind to ensure that we were kept quite warm as we fought to keep our kayaks on course. It was a really fun pond--definitely one of my favorites--with a handful of cabins on its western shore but otherwise surrounded by a wildlife management area and very remote. It was unusual in the large, gray boulders that lined its edges. There were quite a few little coves to explore, one of the things I love best about kayaking. While hiking, of course, leaving the trail is verboten. On the water, one can duck into a little cove or start down a creek to see where it leads, worrying at most about getting stuck and having to make an undignified exit. (Not a problem once yesterday, despite putting myself into some tight spots; I am getting good at navigating the new kayak like I once was with the cantankerous bastard.) When I was a kid, there was nothing better than opening a novel with a map on the first few pages, and even now, I can read a road atlas for hours if left to my own devices. Kayaking scratches that itch to explore very, very well.

Of course, I took pictures. They are cell phone photos taken on a gloomy day, mostly from a kayak being tossed lightly in the wind so not the best quality, but I hope they give some sense of Holland Pond and the day! Click for photos )
dawn_felagund: (autumn leaf)
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! )
dawn_felagund: (autumn leaf)
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!
dawn_felagund: (finrod crest)
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 Kenaz, 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.
dawn_felagund: (feanorians)
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.
dawn_felagund: Keep Vermont Weird (keep vermont weird)
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! )
dawn_felagund: (silmarils)
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 Oshun 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 Oshun 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.
dawn_felagund: (finrod crest)
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.
dawn_felagund: (maedhros and fingon)
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.
dawn_felagund: (art lives)
As seen at Oshun'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 ... )
dawn_felagund: (silmarils)
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.

    (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.
dawn_felagund: (lucy psychiatric help)
There is a scene in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation where both sides of their family descend on their house at once. The doorbell rings and becomes a deep-booming bell tolling as if for a death or an execution. Everyone in the family stiffens in anticipation as the bell resounds through the house.

Bobby and I have been impersonating that bell all week because, in probably less than an hour, both sides of our family will arrive: two sets of parents, Amiah, and a Great Pyrenees, all added to the two people and two dogs that inhabit our single-wide trailer.

In reality, they won't be as bad as the Christmas Vacation family, and I'm looking forward to them being here, but I won't lie that I worry about myself as an introvert and how well I will handle a week of five extra people in the house with no room to escape to (because Bobby and I are sleeping on the couch so that our guests can have proper bedrooms).

In good news, this forced us to finish getting the house ready. We've been working about ten hours a day since my return from New York. That is why the video is not up yet! I'm sorry; if I can carve out some time while everyone is here, then it is a top priority. But ... the house is now ready. I am writing this from my study with like bookshelves and things and no skyscraper of boxes piled behind me. The house looks beautiful. I took a bunch of pictures of it but need to hook up Dropbox on my phone to my account so that the photos go automatically to my computer. And this should mean no more long days of manual labor. We'll have the fence to install once the materials are finished--the fencing is being made by a local logger with trees harvested right here in Vermont--but that's the only big job left.

It hasn't been all work (although it has been MOSTLY work). Last night, we took our kayak to the north beach at Willoughby and launched at sunset, paddled out just far enough that we were comfortably in the middle of the lake, then watched the nearly full moon rise over the mountains. A cabin on the western shore was shooting off fireworks, so we got an impromptu fireworks show over the water. It was actually chilly. Sorry, everyone to the south who is suffering under that "heat dome"! One of the differences between Maryland and Vermont is that you are allowed to use the natural spaces at night--in Maryland they close at dusk--because the assumption is that you are enjoying the natural spaces at night and not up to something nefarious like dealing drugs or burying a body.

They should be here in less than an hour! Wish me luck!
dawn_felagund: (morgoth)
I am presently on the train to New York, for the New York Tolkien Conference, stopped in Brattleboro in sight of Whetstone, the excellent nanobrewery that changes their beer menu daily. My train left Waterbury ... at 10:20, more than four and a half hours ago.

No, Vermont is not that big. The train was slowing down to stop in Brattleboro, people were standing in the aisles collecting their luggage, when the brakes went on hard. I heard one of the conductors say, "Uh oh, what happened?"

Remember last time I was on the Vermonter, when the train in front of us derailed? I didn't think we'd top that.

A few minutes later, the conductor came over the PA system. The train struck a "trespasser" (their words; I detest it in this context, although I understand the legal reasoning for it), who was pronounced dead immediately.

This was at 1:30, so two and a half hours later, we are just beginning to move. You know what? I don't care. I keep thinking about the poor person on the tracks, the "trespasser," and wonder why they were there, did they not hear the train? Or ...? To be fair, everyone was really decent about it, at least in my car, even though quite a few people were destined for Brattleboro, which was just a short walk away. No one complained, although the people seated near me for some reason misunderstood universally (maybe hopefully?) that the train had hit an animal. Ever the Mary Sunshine, I corrected them.

I did get a lot of work done while waiting, and some non-work too. I remember reading someone once remarking that many academics write their conference presentations on the plane to the conference. I couldn't do that! Anyone who knows me knows that my inner Hermione is hyperventilating at the mere thought. Of course I am not an academic and don't really aim to be! But I did do much of the Powerpoint on the train, so maybe that qualifies me to move up from baby-scholar status to wannabe-scholar. (I'm never sure what to call myself. The s-word seems fraught.)

I'm going to get something to eat. And a beer. I was expecting to arrive in the city in two hours and we just crossed into Massachusetts. I'm hungry, but I couldn't bring myself to buy pizza and beer while a person was dead under the train.

This week was pretty busy, mostly with getting ready for the conference (I think Oshun will be happy to not get any emails from me for a few days! I clicked the wrong button my phone today, and she was listed as my only Frequent Contact, which sums up my last week quite succinctly!) but also continuing to work on the house. We painted the living room and hallway this week, which involved a lot of taping and finicky, detailed work and so took longer than I wanted to spend on it.

We had fun too. On Sunday, we climbed Mount Pisgah, the third-highest mountain in the Northeast Kingdom, with both dogs. We didn't mean to. We thought we were climbing the more modest nearby Bald Mountain, but Vermont played a joke on us and had two identically named roads on opposite sides of the access area, with both trails blazed in blue. The only clue was to "walk east" from the access area, and I guess we walked west. (We did, I realize now that I'm thinking about us in relation to nearby Lake Willoughby, but I honestly wasn't thinking about it. I saw the road name, Bobby found the blue blaze, and we were both like, "HERE.") We made it to the top--even Lance! our little old man--and the view was as stunning as one would expect of the third-highest mountain in the Northeast Kingdom and overlooking Lake Willoughby to boot. We only figured out that it was the wrong mountain because there was supposed to be a fire tower and wasn't!

Oh am I out of shape! Remember when I was snowshoeing up mountains this winter? Four months of thesis-writing followed by all the chaos of moving (and making it to the gym maybe twice per week and usually copping out and doing weights when I did) means that ain't happening unless I get back to work.

On Wednesday, we took our trusty old inflatable Sea Eagle kayak out on the Barton River that runs near our house. We rowed (and floated a good deal, enjoying the scenery, the wildlife, and some incredibly scented flower that we never identified) for three and a half hours and made it most the way to the South Bay of Lake Memphremagog and back. We now know that if we row more than we float, we can easily make it. (If we cross the entire South Bay to Newport, we can treat ourselves to a nice lunch as well, but our neighbor says that it is ten miles from the access area near our house, so we might have to build up to that.)

We saw and heard these massive brown birds and assumed, they're massive so they'll be easy to identify, right? And it's Vermont, so it's not like there are hundreds of species of things. We've struck out utterly. Anything that lives in Vermont that looks like them doesn't sound anything like them.

Yesterday was Lancelot's ninth birthday, so we took both Goldens to Prouty Beach on Lake Mem in the evening and let them get in the water. It was Gwen's first time in the water, and she jumped and splashed with such unbridled joy that, when she'd stop, she had to catch her breath. Lance frolicked a little too but mostly acted like an old man in a pool and stood belly deep in the water. Gwen also treated herself to a nice roll in the sand that left her filthy. (Whose birthday was it again?)

I have so much catching up to do--including pictures from our various adventures!--but for now it is pizza and beer time.
dawn_felagund: (silmarils)
In now under one week, I will be in New York for the New York Tolkien Conference, where I will be presenting with Oshun a paper titled The Borders of the (Fictional) World: Fan Fiction Archives, Ideological Approaches, and Fan Identity. If you'll be in New York next Saturday and want to attend the conference, tickets are available here for $11 pre-registration ($15 at the door). It's a really great conference and you can't beat the cost.

I will also be in New York for the weekend, arriving Friday late afternoon and departing Sunday morning, so I'd love to meet up if anyone is interested. I'll be by myself this year, as we don't yet know anyone here well enough to impose on them to watch the Goldens for a weekend. Last year, we did a dinner after the conference, so if you're interested in doing that again, or meeting Friday evening or at the conference on Saturday, please let me know in a comment here or email me at DawnFelagund@gmail.com.

I have one thousand things I want to write about here, but my days have looked something like work on the house during the day, work on conference stuff at night with very little to spare. I will definitely have to catch up soon, though; there's so much in these last three weeks that I want to remember.
dawn_felagund: (silmarils)
I have planning to do for tomorrow, which is the last day of school before Spring Break and I'd usually give the kids a break, but the clinical director is bringing one of the self-contained students to observe my class because they're going to be transitioning him into it. Yaaay. [Not.] So why not procrastinate just a leeeeetle bit more by doing the fandom m-type thing grabbed from Oshun?

Ask as many as you want!

The Prompts )
dawn_felagund: (happy cloud)
Today, Bobby qualified again for the finals of the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge. He took bronze in his age category, which is pretty daggone impressive because 1) this is his last year in this age category, which means he is competing against guys ten years younger than he is, who are in their mid-20s, and 2) as luck would have it, he came down with a cold yesterday and so was far from 100% when he did his run today. The conditions were also awful: in the upper 40s F and a slow, cold rain. (I know because I stood outside in it for about ten minutes, waiting for him to come down! I was wearing my Roxy hightops, and the warmth from my feet through the soles of my shoes caused me to freeze to the ground.) He only missed silver by a half-second and finished three seconds better than the gold in the next age group up from him.

The finals this year is at Jay Peak, in northern Vermont, the very last stop on the Vermonter Amtrak line. He turns 35 the day before the competition, so depending on the rules, he might get to compete in the next age group up, which would improve his chances considerably of taking a medal in the finals. He placed fifth last year.

I'm very proud of him! He hasn't been doing this very long and has honed his skills primarily on our small southern mountains. At the finals, he competes against guys who have been doing this their whole lives and on mountains "steeper and deeper" than his beloved but nonetheless tiny Liberty.

Posing with his medal and his stick with Liberty in the background.

 photo 2016-02-21 14.58.18_zpssaquunc3.jpg

And a scary-close-up of us together! I need longer arms and refuse to buy a selfie stick!

 photo 2016-02-21 14.58.44_zpszk51mxgm.jpg

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