dawn_felagund: (unicorn)
About a month ago, I was at dance class, stretching out with my instructor Jessica, and she mentioned an upcoming hafla (dance party) that she wanted me to consider performing in. I have been working with Florence, my fellow intermediate class dancer, on a raqs assaya* number for a few months. Florence, however, was going to be on her honeymoon during the hafla. Jessica said, "Well, I can dance the number with you." Then about five seconds passed, and she said, "Or you can dance it solo. You're ready for it."

*Raqs assaya is a traditional southern Egyptian dance that is performed with a cane.

I've skated solo many times in shows, but I've only been bellydancing for a little over two years, but why not? One has to start somewhere, and Jess assured me that this particular hafla was very casual and fun, and a mere intermediate like myself dancing solo would not be looked upon as inappropriate or weird. So I agreed. (Solo is actually easier than dancing with someone else because you do not have to worry about sticking strictly to the choreography, minding your spacing in relation to another person/people, or staying in-sync with them.)

I have been off-and-on regretful about that for the past month, not because I was worried or nervous about dancing solo but because 1) the very next week is when I pulled my piriformis, which took me fully out of dance for a week and very tentative for the week after that with some lingering effects even now, and 2) I have been ridiculously busy, so the time for regular practice, including videoing and critiquing myself, just wasn't there. Know when I finally got to video myself doing the dance in costume? Yesterday afternoon in our cramped, low-ceilinged basement. :^| Ah well.

Yesterday was ridiculously rainy, and the studio, which was located in a business park, was hard to find in the dark. We had to keep driving up and down the divided highway, trying one driveway after another and, when that wasn't the one, driving back down the highway, making a U-turn, and trying again. I will admit that, in that moment, as the clock crept perilously close to the time I was due at the hafla, I said out loud that I wished I hadn't agreed to it.

But that was short-lived. We found the place eventually, and I had an awesome time. I am nowhere near satisfied with the dance as it is, but as I watch the video, I am also not cringing in horror. I did a decent job for someone who has only been dancing (in this form anyway) for two years. And, yes, it was ridiculously fun. I love performing and always have. (Take that, tumblrites who think that introversion = social anxiety!) Jessica asked me if I was nervous, and I said, "Eh ... no." She laughed and said I was Zen. She insists I am the most laid-back person she knows. (Which is funny because I so rarely feel laid-back at all!)

Photos and, yes, the VIDEO below the cut! )
dawn_felagund: (charlie brown tree)
Several years ago, the Felagund family used to make an annual trek every December to New York City for the day. It was a nice day: time for a leisurely lunch, to wander around the city, capped off with the Radio City Rockettes' show, and followed by a walk back to the bus that involved an inevitable stop for sandwiches at Pret a Manger. Then, under the pretense of The EconomyTM, the bus company stopped running this trip. This year, they started it back up again (perhaps because The EconomyTM has supposedly improved).

Dad asked if we wanted to go, and the decision was instantaneous: Of course we did! To make matters even better, the trip was on a Thursday this year--it had always been on a Monday before, the one day of the week that the Met is closed--so I indulged a fantasy of meeting [personal profile] heartofoshun for lunch, taking the subway to mill about the Met for a couple of hours, and returning in plenty of time to see the show.

But then we got the itinerary. Read more... )
dawn_felagund: Natty Boh logo (natty-boh)
Bobby and I and my parents decided a few weeks ago that we wanted to go to Ocean City for the holiday weekend. It was a short trip--we left Friday around noon and came home today--but was very, very nice; I wish I was still there. Friday morning, Bobby left for Liberty Mountain to get first chair on their opening day of the season, which was--like last year--unusually early. (The Western resorts like Jackson Hole and Vale also opened this weekend.) He returned ecstatic, having spent the morning on snow that he said was more like January snow than November.

While he was gone, I rushed around getting things ready so that we could leave as soon as he came home. The Goldens knew that something was up as soon as the suitcase came out. As soon as their leashes and seatbelts followed, I had Alex on my heels for the rest of the morning. Despite having been thoroughly exhausted by the Thanksgiving festivities the day before, they managed to ratchet up some excitement for what they knew was an impending trip. Phil went to sleep in the car but Alex stayed awake for the whole three-hour ride.

We arrived in OC at around 3:30, only a couple minutes after my parents arrived. We were staying at the Fenwick Inn, which allows dogs in the wintertime. I took the Goldens to pee; they were both acting like wild animals and drove me crazy in just the short walk to the grassy spot where we take them and back to the hotel. We dropped them off in the room, knowing they were thoroughly exhausted enough to go right to sleep, and headed off to get a late lunch.

More and pictures below the cut! Including the tale of the old creaky hinge ... )
dawn_felagund: Lamppost in the winter snow. (winter lamppost)
I can't exactly say "winter" since it is still autumn for almost a month yet. I dithered when deciding where to put the picture of the snow in my files: chronologically correct (the Autumn 2014 folder) or where I'd be more likely to find it (the Winter 2014-2015 folder). I went with Winter 2014-2015, which is also where I put the pictures of the inch or so that we got the other week.

This was the view out the back door about two hours ago:

 photo 2014-11-26152502_zpsd919833b.jpg

It was still snowing like crazy at the time, which is hard to see in the picture.

We had a kinda sorta snow day at school: a three-hour early dismissal, which meant that the kids left at 11 AM, which officially made it one of the easiest days of my teaching career. I put on Home Alone and fed all comers leftover ice cream that I'd made for yesterday's Thanksgiving lunch. Get 'em nice and hyper and then send them home. >:^) The snow started mid-morning and, by the time I left school at 11:15, was already starting to stick on the roads.

The drive home was the worst close to school. Up our way, they did a good job of getting the roads salted, but there is one hill about five minutes from the school, and I did question if I would make it to the top and wondered what I'd do if I got stuck five minutes from the school and almost an hour yet from home. By the time we got home, we had about 4 inches/10 cm of snow already; the predicted accumulation for us is supposed to be around 8 inches/20 cm. I haven't looked to see what it is currently.

The last time we had a Thanksgiving snowstorm was in 1989. Bobby and I were eight years old; we both remember it. I feel sorry for people traveling today; this storm is going to create a major mess for them. I am grateful that it will be over and the roads will be clear in time for our guests to come out to our house tomorrow.
dawn_felagund: (alex awww)
This weekend was fairly mild with another dip in temperatures and potentially our first snowfall due for later in the week, so Bobby finished cleaning up the leaves in the yard. Yesterday, I was able to help him: raking up the last of the leaves and putting a good, thick covering on all the garden beds.

Golden Retrievers pretty much know how to do anything handy that you might find yourself doing around the house, and they are always right there and eager to help. Cleaning up the leaves was no exception. For example, it is very helpful if, when you rake up a pile of leaves, a Golden Retriever lays in the middle of that pile because it keeps the leaves from blowing away.

When Phil did that the first time, I responded by raking the next batch of leaves over top of him. He became indignant and got up from the pile. Later, Alex did the same thing, so I thought, "Well, it worked with Phil, so it'll probably work with him too."

Photos beneath the Cut )
dawn_felagund: Illustration of a river from J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit." (Hobbit river)
Yesterday, Bobby and I drove the slightly over two hours out west to Cumberland to take a trip on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. We've been wanting to do this for a few years now, but it's just far enough away that it requires setting aside a full day more or less, which we very often don't have for setting aside. Cumberland is a small city nestled in the mountains of Allegany County, our next-to-westernmost county in Maryland. We pass by Cumberland all the time on our way out to Deep Creek Lake. From the highway, it looks like a scene from a model railroad with all the old-timey buildings, high church spires, and crisscrossed of course by railroad tracks.

The WMSR takes a 14 mile/22.5 km journey west from Cumberland to Frostburg, making a 1300 ft/400 m climb into the mountains to do so. More and Pictures below the Cut )
dawn_felagund: Lamppost in the winter snow. (winter lamppost)
Whenever I imagine the polar vortex, I imagine it as one of those men whose head sits directly on his shoulders, arms unable to touch his sides, and walks with the top of his head pointed forward. That's how I imagine him trundling down into the U.S., pulling cold air behind him like walking into a warm house and drawing the cold outside air in behind you.

This afternoon, when I walked out the side door to my classroom and into the parking lot, I thought, "Winter is here." It wasn't terribly cold--44F/7C when I set off north on Liberty Road--but it was raw and spitting this fine, cold rain. By the time I had picked up Bobby and we were heading home, the rain changed into that infamous-from-my-childhood "bag of wintry mix." By the time we were driving north on 795, it had changed to all snow.

So we've had the first snowfall of the year. By the time we were in Carroll County, it was starting to stick to the bare earth; by the time we were in Manchester, it was dusting the grass, and the temperature had dropped to 34F/1C. I just looked and it's stopped now (although NOAA warns for the possibility of snow showers throughout the night) but we got a decent amount of coverage for a mid-November snowfall in central Maryland.

Pictures! )

For anyone following the Saga of My Pulled Piriformis, I have returned to work (yesterday) and can walk again. I am still stiff and have been banished from the gym for three weeks by Bobby (who is at the gym now), at which I literally whined; blame the lingering pain for my regression back to the behavior of a seven-year-old. It's just that inactivity doesn't help with the stiffness at all, even though I know that I need to give myself time off from anything strenuous. But stiffness is better than feeling like someone is stabbing you with an ice pick at the top of your thigh every time you take a step. And I'll have dance twice next week, so that will help.
dawn_felagund: (maryland lgbt flag)
Today was Election Day. That meant a day off of school (yay!) but meant ... it is the midterm election, and a rather dismal one at that. Cut for political stuff )
dawn_felagund: Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. (little red riding hood)
A friend of a friend is trying to navigate the process of moving to Sweden as a self-employed contractor. She is feeling a little overwhelmed, so if there is anyone reading this who has experience or knowledge of self-employment in Sweden, could you drop me an email or a message through this site? (I will also screen comments if you'd rather just comment here with a way to get in touch with you.)
dawn_felagund: (newgrange)
Anyone who has been hanging around this joint for a few years knows that 1) I am vegetarian and 2) I am highly ambivalent about that vegetarianism. I have been a vegetarian for twenty years, since I was twelve years old. The choice to change didn't come with any great fanfare: I was at a cousin's graduation party, I was bored, and I was reading a book on animal rights that I'd taken out from the library to learn more about issues involving companion animals. But I strayed into the section on food animals, and what I learned of factory farming predicated a change that has persisted across the majority of my life.

I had my fling with animal rights activism. Read more... )
dawn_felagund: (silmarils)
I received word today that I will be once again presenting at the Mythmoot III fantasy studies conference! Yippee! \0/ My paper is tentatively titled "Transformative Works as a Means to Develop Critical Perspectives in the Tolkien Fan Community," which should be more palatable to most people following me here than last year's cosmogony paper. I was inspired to take on this topic in part because they were looking for papers for a track entitled "Tolkien in the 21st Century" that considered how modern fans engaged with the text but also because the SWG's 10th begetting day will be a couple of months after Mythmoot on March 15, and it seemed a fitting tribute to the group that has been such a big part of my life for almost a decade now to actually allow my work with that group to overlap with my academic stuff.

I am excited. Also overwhelmed. I have so much going on right now and this is, of course, another thing that needs doing. (I am trying to pretend like I didn't see this call for papers ...) At least there won't be the nerves associated with the mystery of presenting for the first time last year. I'm looking forward to that part of it; I normally speak before much tougher crowds (high school students!), so an appreciative audience is a welcome change.

Okay, now's the part when I try to persuade those of you who are on the East Coast to come to Mythmoot! Here's the page on Mythgard's website. This event last year is one of the most fun weekends I've ever had. It is part academic conference and part fan gathering. I think they achieve a great balance there, where the discussions and presentations are high-quality without being intimidating or unwelcoming. The dates are January 10-11 in Baltimore. The cost is lower than it was last year. And you could hang out with little ol' me. :D
dawn_felagund: (out of the light star)
[X-posted from [community profile] silwritersguild. Apologies to those getting it twice, but this is important.]

As you've probably heard by now, HASA will be closing at the end of 2014. My quick count showed that to be just under 6,300 publicly available stories. Since the site is twelve years old, a lot of those authors aren't active anymore and might not get the notice to save their stories, even if they wanted to. Some of those stories are archived nowhere else but HASA. In some instances, it is a fair assumption that their authors may not even have a copy anymore. When HASA closes, we risk a significant loss of both stories and Tolkien fandom history.

HASA Story Rescue Project

The SWG mods along with the moderators of the Tolkienfic archives Many Paths to Tread and Faerie have been working together to identify those HASA stories at greatest risk of being lost, save them, and contact the authors for permission to "rehouse" them on another Tolkien archive.

The mods of the three sites (and a few volunteers who made the mistake of telling me privately that they'd like to help! :) have made a good start on the first phase of this project. However, 6,300 stories is a lot of stories to sift through in just three months, so we could use more help with this. Here is what the current phase of the project involves:

  • Volunteers claim a group of stories to work on. You begin by searching the story and author to see if it is archived elsewhere on the Web. If it is, you record the story information, as well as links to the sites where it can be found.

  • If the story cannot be found elsewhere, you record the story's information (summary, characters, etc.) and make a copy of the story or the story's HTML so that it will be possible to archive the story elsewhere, even if we hear back from the author after HASA closes.

  • All of this material will be shared among all of the volunteers, either on Google Docs or Dropbox. (We will be maintaining shared folders on both.)

It is not difficult work but it is time-consuming, so anyone who is available to help with even a little bit of it will be very much appreciated! :) Please comment here with your email address if you are interested in helping, and I will send you more information to get started. (Comments are screened, and I will not unscreen any comment that contains contact information.) Please also feel free to ask questions here, if you have them. You can also email us at moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org to be added to the project or with questions.

We have contacted the HASA admins about what we are working on, so they are aware of it and okay with it. They have also contacted the Organization for Transformative Work's Open Doors project but haven't heard back yet and weren't yet committed to that as a solution, even once they do hear back. If they end up going with Open Doors, then we can stop our preservation work, but since three months is not a lot of time for the volume that needs saving, then it is best to start with the expectation that, if we want stories to be saved from HASA, then we will have to do it ourselves.

Other Ways to Help

Please spread the word about HASA closing. The initial announcement went out on the HASA_News Yahoo! group, which has only 47 members; as I and other HASA members can attest, no direct contact has yet been made with authors on the site. Many people have helped spread the word about HASA closing via social media and mailing lists (thank you!), but the more of us that get the word out, the more likely it will be that people who have stories and other content on HASA will have ample time to get their work saved.

Here is a list of links on HASA about the closure and steps being taken by HASA to preserve work there:

HASA News: All Good Things Come to an End: http://henneth-annun.net/about/news_view.cfm?nwid=431&list=yes
HASA Closure Discussion thread: http://henneth-annun.net/forums/messages.cfm?confID=0&forumID=915&messageID=55476
HASA News: Migrating Your Stories: http://henneth-annun.net/about/news_view.cfm?nwid=432&list=yes

The mods of SWG, Many Paths to Tread, and Faerie are all willing to help authors to archive their work on those sites. All three sites can also bring over comments on your stories. If you know an author who is having difficulty getting work saved or re-archived, or if you are having difficulty getting your work saved or re-archived, please contact the admins of these sites for help. You can also comment here, and I will be happy to help you get in touch with the appropriate person(s). All we need is the author's permission to move their work onto the site or sites of their choosing. So, yes, it is as simple as saying, "Please move my stuff from HASA to *site*," and we will do the rest.

I cannot say enough that every work on HASA is important and worth saving.

Finally, the SWG has its Library of Tirion project. (MPTT is working on a similar project, and I will update this post with a link as soon as it is ready.) Through the Library of Tirion, you can request authors that you would like to see archived on the SWG. We will work on contacting that person for permission and archiving their stories on the SWG. Normally, we only accept recommendations from prior to 2007, but in light of HASA's closure, we are accepting any recommendations for Silmarillion authors from HASA. (Thank you to those who have sent their requests already!)

Please signal-boost this post. Again, awareness is key at this point, and the more help we have the more we can save.
dawn_felagund: (out of the light star)
I have always understood why the Elves used their Rings of Power. I am a progressive person who works to change things for the better, yet there are places and things associated with joy for me that I would like to wave a magic ring over and leave unchanged.

For those who have not heard, HASA is closing at the end of the year. The SWG is coming up on ten years, which means that I've been involved in fandom to varying extents for longer than that, and as I look around, I see the landscape is changing. The idea of HASA being gone is like looking west to find one of the mountains missing. Maybe you went weeks without even noticing that mountain, but it was there and it has always been there, and the empty sky it once filled is not an improvement.

Within the past few years, we've seen changes great and small in the Tolkien fandom. The MEFAs ended. LotRFanfiction stands a shadow of its former self. Several smaller archives--the Last Ship and Quills and Ink come to mind--closed their doors. Activity on Yahoo! Groups has all but ceased, and LiveJournal is no longer the hub of activity that it once was.

Of course there have been good things too. Faerie opened its doors. Tolkien fandom activity on Tumblr and AO3 have increased. And many Tolkien groups that have been active for years remain active. But the landscape has changed nonetheless.

Read more... )
dawn_felagund: (black-eyed susan)
Cut because some people will find this creepy (spiders and wheel bugs) )
dawn_felagund: (hermione)
Today is the first day of my second summer break, which because it combines with Labor Day this year, means that I have off for ten days. It is needed. Even though the students weren't there this past week, it was a rough week, and I was ridiculously busy in addition to being stressed over myriad stupid things that went down at work (some of which I've written about in previous entries).

In any case. This is the first time in a while that I've had a chunk of time off without Bobby, so I'll be spending the week trying to get as far ahead in my cosmology class as possible. I'm (surprise!) already pretty far ahead. I'm hoping that, this week, I can finish reading the last book for the class, finish my biographical essay, and make a good start (or maybe even finish?) the outline for the final essay. That would leave only the final essay to do, and we're only at the midpoint in the class. I also need to do my Mythmoot proposal (which won't take long), have a beta to do, and really need to do something to get the B2MeM ebook put together. (Remember that? Yeah, look no further than this chick here as for why that hasn't been done yet.)

So I'll be busy, but in the interest of occasionally allowing myself to have some fun, then I am doing the meme seen over at Rhapsody's LJ. Throw a letter or few at me if there's any questions you'd like me to answer! If you do the meme yourself, please let me know so that I can throw gently underhand toss a few at to you as well.

Writing M-Type Thing )
dawn_felagund: (death of an idea)
Cut for talking about all the death, gloom, and sadness in pop culture this week. )

Rewatched 'Dead Poets' Society.' Thoughts on that. )
dawn_felagund: (beer wine beer)
Bobby and I went with my parents yesterday to Atlantic City. It is about two-and-a-half hours away, so we usually take a bus a couple of times per year for a day trip. The bus ticket costs $35, which includes a $25 casino voucher. I am not a fan of gambling; I don't find slot machines fun, and I have never won anything. (ANYTHING. Not even $20.) Bobby and I usually spend our combined $50 pretty quickly and spend the rest of the day on the beach, boardwalk, and pier. Bobby usually wins enough to pay for our lunch and the rest of our bus tickets, so we usually end up getting our trip for free.

We had beautiful weather: sunny and warm but not hot. We had our choice of three places to disembark; my parents prefer the Taj Mahal of the three available casinos (Showboat--closing at the end of the month!--and Bally's), which is at the north end of the boardwalk. We had lunch reservations at Carmine's in Tropicana at the south end of the boardwalk, so we played some of our vouchers (after waiting in an interminable line so that Bobby and I could get the vouchers put on cards, something the greeter used to do right on the bus but that now requires a slog across the casino, a long queue, and a much more drawn-out process). I broke my losing streak by winning a big $31.95 on a penny machine called Icarus while Bobby was off playing something called the Norse Warrior.

We took a taxi to the Tropicana; Carmine's was great, as always. Bobby and I were planning to make the 1.5-mile walk back up the boardwalk to Taj Mahal, and my parents decided they wanted to join us, so we started north, stopping into some of the shops along the way, and for breaks every few blocks for my dad, who is not much of a walker.

More & Pictures below the Cut )
dawn_felagund: (silmarils)
My Mythmoot proposal is due in about one month (eeeeeeeeeek), and I have an idea, but I need to make sure that what I'm planning to write and reality actually bear some resemblance to each other. So I have a simple question for all my Tolkien fanfic writers out there:

Why do you write Tolkien fanfic?

Thanks in advance to anyone with a moment to answer. (As always, private responses are welcome as a PM or email to DawnFelagund@gmail.com.)

And yes, this means that this year's presentation will not be about cosmogony ... ;)
dawn_felagund: (brainz)
Cut for political talk! )
dawn_felagund: (alex awww)
Yesterday was a very fun day: "Midmoot," or a gathering organized at the midway points between Mythmoots for local Tolkien fans affiliated with the Mythgard Institute. Bobby and I both went; participants pooled money to fly Professor Olsen down for a day-long seminar and dinner. (Professor Olsen is awesome: so down-to-earth and hilarious and brilliant.) It was in Alexandria, Virginia, which is not that far but manages to be that far: almost three hours from Manchester by the time all was said and done! Yikes. Just over an hour in the car and the rest of the time on the Metro. (Although, as Bobby put it, we did cross a state and all of DC in one of the busiest parts of the country.)

But it was worth the trip: The seminar was a series of informal talks and discussions but touched on several intriguing topics related to Tolkien and speculative fiction more generally. I thought about signing up to present something but sat on my hands, being overwhelmed generally at this point with academic stuff. Best of all, I got to hang out again with MithLuin, whom I've known online for many years and knew lived in Maryland and somehow managed to never meet in person till last Mythmoot when I complimented a woman on her Curufin costume and the rest is history. (I should have known. I mean Curufin? Really?? She had to be one of my own kind.) We had a great supper at the Bilbo Baggin's restaurant in Alexandria, in which Bobby, MithLuin, and I managed to talk about pretty much everything but Middle-earth (although we did talk about Tolkien's Beowulf a bit and MithLuin humored me by letting me yammer about my thesis a bit).

6:30 came too soon! The party went on for a while after that, but Bobby and I had that almost three-hour trip to make again, plus animals waiting at home to go out and pee, plus work the next day with planning still undone (for me). It sucked, though, having to leave; we've decided we are definitely staying on-site for Mythmoot this year because, however nice it is to live in the hinterlands most of the time, it isn't cool when you're having fun with friends and have to leave early. We had to leave Pub Trivia early this year at Mythmoot in an attempt to beat a snowstorm home (and we barely made it).

The drive home (or the "home drive" as I just typed it) was less painful until we reached Westminster and drove into a storm. So the poor Goldens had to hold their pee even longer because, when the rain subsided enough for me to let them out, they pretty much did a U-turn on the patio and gave me ugly looks like I was crazy for sending them out in the first place.

Speaking of Goldens ... today is Phil's birthday. He is seven. They're aging too fast ... So, for the next two months, until Alex turns eight, they will not be the Goldens but the Sevens.*

*They are Goldens and not dogs in the first place because, in the wilds of my imagination where most of the beings and objects of importance in my life are not only personified but characterized, then the Goldens take great umbrage at being known as dogs, a species they regularly rail against (sometimes including threats involving antifreeze).

I just downloaded a bunch of pictures of the Sevens off of our camera, but Photobucket is being a witch-with-a-capital-B and took just about forever to upload just two pictures of Phil. So those two pictures will have to suffice for now. They are really cute pictures, though.

The Little One on His Birthday! )


dawn_felagund: (Default)
Dawn Felagund

December 2014

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