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
dawn_felagund: Lamppost in the winter snow. (winter lamppost)
Baltimore officially broke the record for the most snowfall out of a single storm, so this was officially The Most Epic Snowstorm EverTM Or At Least Since Records of Such Have Been Kept Because I'm Pretty Sure More Epic Snowstorms Happened Before But Just Weren't Written Down. Here in Manchester, the National Weather Service tells us that we received 32 in/81 cm of white powdery goodness. However, I can speak from experience that snowfall numbers from this storm are going to be unreliable because of the wind. When I checked NWS snowfall totals yesterday, Lineboro--a town five minutes away that shares our zip code--supposedly had 4 in/10 cm more than we did, which is unlikely. The wind was just blowing it around, so an accurate measure was difficult to impossible.

Let's just settle for saying we got a lot of snow.

Read more... )
dawn_felagund: (newgrange)
First of all, before I post the beautiful pictures garnered from that 10K of snowshoeing, to all who have been asking about Lancie: He is home! He was released last night from the vet hospital but spent the day with my inlaws so that he could be monitored all day today. He is about a foot away from me now. He is doing much better: the vomiting and diarrhea are gone, and he has his appetite back. We need to get his weight back up, which means extra canned dog food, which I don't think he's going to protest.

Okay, now as to the reason I am writing this post! Come take a 10K walk with me in the snow ... )

And that may be sooner rather than later. It seems we brought it back with us. Maybe the Ullr Fest worked! We are due to get as much as three feet (a meter or so) of snow over the weekend and are presently under a blizzard warning for Friday night into Sunday morning. Schools are already closed for tomorrow.
dawn_felagund: (silmarils)
Tomorrow it is back to work and school, so I will be back on hiatus, writing my thesis, until May. But, over winter break, I had the opportunity to write not one but TWO new Tolkienfic stories, both for the LotRGenfic/MPTT Yule Exchange. So before I sink back beneath the waves of despair work and grad school, I want to link them here, for anyone who might be interested.

As always, comments public and private are very much appreciated.

Víressë (for Keiliss). As Sauron's reach lengthens, Winter lingers overlong in Gondor. In the midst of cold, despair, and the slow march to war, Boromir kindles a forbidden love affair with an unknown errand-rider that creates intrigue and betrayal. Contains slash (Boromir/Hirgon) and a scene involving the corporal punishment of a child. Neither is graphic. LiveJournal | MPTT | AO3

Song of the Stone (for Zdenka). Newly arrived at Khazad-dûm in the Second Age, the Elven loremaster Pengolodh presents a portion of his new book to Narvi only to discover that his understanding of the “great profit” that existed between the Dwarves of Belegost and the people of Caranthir in the First Age is not quite what he assumed. LiveJournal | MPTT | SWG | AO3

See y'all in May!
dawn_felagund: (maedhros and fingon)
I know in this last year, I wasn't exactly a barrel of laughs. Between my depressing work stories, losing Alex, and the Constant Angst over My MA ProgramTM--combined with a dearth of posts on things people actually like, like picspams of my dogs and fannish things--I would blame no one for just scrolling on past when I rarely appear on their friends page.

But the thing is, many of you don't.

I cannot say how much I appreciate the love and support I continue to receive, even when I have not been able to reciprocate for far too long, or even reply to comments. I have a list of stories to read as long as my arm. I haven't even replied to all of the wonderful gifts that were made for me as part of Felak's Treasures some years ago.

I just handed in the final assignment for this final class (I hope!) before starting my thesis. There is light at the end of the tunnel! I hope to be a more interesting, less depressing person and, most importantly, a better friend again soon.

Friends, thank you for sticking by me through that long tunnel, even when I haven't upheld my end of the bargain. You make me laugh, commiserate with me when I need it the most, and make me feel less alone in the world.

My very best wishes to all of you for a happy holiday season. *hugs*
dawn_felagund: (morgoth)
Important ETA: Over the past few days, I have been in correspondence with other Tolkien archive admins and the abuse team on AO3. It seems that my initial fears that this incident was "bigger than us" were well-founded. This person has been found on several Tolkien archives (although they don't seem to have posted as widely anyplace but the SWG) and may be linked with a chronic plagiarist on AO3 and ff.net. That makes vigilance more important than ever for all of us. Readers, if you see a story on an archive that looks familiar but isn't by the author you recall writing it, please say something to an admin. It is worth pointing out that we were able to catch and quash this person on the SWG as quickly as we did because we had several members who saw something that didn't look right and reported it. Finally, many, many thanks to everyone who has spread the word. I know it's been a lot of you. (This post was in the LJ Top 25 for a while!) /ETA

As some of you already know, we recently had a major incident of plagiarized work being posted to the Silmarillion Writers' Guild. Given what my comoderators and I discovered during our investigation, I have reason to believe that this is not an isolated incident on our site alone, nor is this person confining their activities to the Tolkien fandom. I have contacted the authors whose work was stolen, and my comods and I have also reached out to the admins of other Tolkien archives (MPTT, Faerie, SoA, OSA, and NaN*) and the abuse team on AO3 to share our findings.

*I couldn't find a contact address for LOTRfanfiction.com, if there is even an active admin on that site anymore. If anyone has one, I'll forward my findings there as well. ETA that Keith has been brought into the loop ...

I am sharing this information publicly here with the intention that it be shared with other admins and authors. Please feel free to link, share, and repost any of the information here. You don't have to ask. I don't care if you credit me (although doing so is probably practical so that anyone with questions about our findings can contact me directly). The important thing in my mind is making sure that this person is shut down before they can do more harm and empowering both admins and authors to do so. If your actions are done with that goal in mind, trust I am going to be cool with it.

A brief summary of what is going on:
  • Multiple accounts were used on the SWG to post plagiarized stories. These stories were stolen from multiple authors.

  • The person or persons behind this was/were responsive to feedback from our moderation team concerning what was allowable on our archive and actually exchanged emails with me on a couple of occasions. They were clearly not part of the Silmarillion fandom (I'm fairly certain they don't even know what The Silmarillion is) and may not be familiar with fandom and fanfic at all. But they were good enough at impersonation that it took us two weeks to catch on to them.

  • They appear to be stealing stories mostly from AO3 and Fanfiction.net. However, there is evidence that they are stealing from other sites as well, and we know for a fact that they have started their shenanigans on OSA. (We've contacted the OSA admin.)

  • They appear to be stealing primarily stories that are recently posted or updated. Again, however, this is not 100% the case.

  • They were insistent of their innocence, even after we found overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I don't know the motivation behind that; it doesn't appear that they were invested particularly in the works they had posted but seem to have selected them somewhat at random.



A version of this post has also been posted to the Stop Plagiarism community on LJ and is in the queue to be reviewed by a moderator.

ETA ... it is now also posted on Tumblr.

What Happened )

Screencaps and Links )

Summary of Usernames, Emails, and IPs )
dawn_felagund: (alex loves)
Bobby and I typically refer to Golden puppies as loaves of bread because they are roughly the size of a decently proportioned homemade loaf and similar in color. Since Guinevere is 11 weeks old--Alex and Lance were both 9 weeks when we brought them home--then she's quite a bit bigger than a loaf. We were adrift for a few days, not knowing what to call her. We'd sort of gesture her proportions with our hands like we'd do for the loaf of bread but bigger. But we didn't have a word to go with it. Eventually, I started calling her the miche, after the extra-large loaves one can buy at Panera Bread.

Well, we picked up the miche after work today. More! Including pictures, of course!! Of the miche. )
dawn_felagund: (alex awww)
I am briefly coming off of hiatus to share some big news.

About a year and a half ago, Bobby and I went with friends to a local ciderworks. On the way back, we passed a house in Hampstead (next town south) that had a pen of Golden Retriever puppies playing in the front yard. Well, by the time we'd driven past three times, the owners noticed us and waved to us, like, "Stop being creepy and just stop and ask to see our puppies!"

We were not looking for a third dog--three big dogs adds all kinds of logistical challenges--but we liked the breeders and took a card and promised to give them a call if ever we were looking to add another Golden.

Three dogs was too many, but we do like to keep two. We like that they are able to be companions to each other when we aren't home, which is an unfortunate but necessary effect of being married professionals. We had talked about when we'd like to get a new dog and decided on the spring. And we'd call the breeders in Hampstead first when we did. Their website made clear that they breed one litter each spring, so the timing should be perfect.

This was solid enough in our minds that Bobby called them the other day to see if we could make a deposit to reserve a puppy from their next spring litter. A, lo and behold, due to work schedules, they weren't able to have a litter last spring, so they had one in the fall instead.

They had one puppy left, a little girl, light golden (like Alex, not Phil, who is red). We went to see her yesterday. I don't think it's possible for us to see a Golden Retriever puppy and resist it. We knew the outcome. I even joked to the owners when they asked if we had any ideas for names that I'd suggested "Maybe" and had then taken it right back because we knew the answer wasn't going to be maybe.

So Guinevere Estel will be coming home with us next Monday. This weekend, we are in Ocean City for a teaching convention (really! I swear! even though all the classes are in the morning so yes we will have to figure out something to do with the afternoons and evenings ...). She was born on August 1, so she is a little over ten weeks old. We didn't know her birthday at first, and the day Bobby found out she was ready was the eight-week mark of losing Alex, so that meant she could have been born on the day we lost him. I'm ... kind of glad she wasn't. As poetic as it sounds in theory, it actually hurts quite a bit in reality. As you will see from the pictures (of course there will be pictures!), she is a pudgy puppy like Phil, not tiny and emaciated like poor Alexander was. She is playful and friendly (also not like Alex! the carpet alligator!! I often say he was the cutest puppy I've ever seen but also the most awful in terms of behavior. He had no socialization prior to coming to us, it seems.)

It's funny: We've had three Goldens now, all obtained under unplanned circumstances. All were from litters of nine and were the last to be adopted.

We debated at length over the name. Bobby initially suggested Guinevere (Gwen for everyday use), but I shot it down right away, since she is a character in literature that I've never felt much connection to. We went through literature and mythology. It's a lot harder to name a girl using that method than a boy. We were between Cassiopea (Cassie for everyday--my preference) and Estel (Bobby's preference), which oddly were suggested by the opposite person who preferred them. Finally, driving home today, we revisited Guinevere and decided that there was a lot to like about the name, mostly that we liked the name Gwen and could imagine calling a dog in from the backyard using that name. (One of the main reasons that Lancelot became Phil over time! And one of the main reasons that I didn't prefer Estel.) So Gwen it is.

Phil went with us and met Gwen and ... wasn't thrilled. Phil likes exactly one other dog: Alex. But he has learned to adjust to about a dozen dogs of friends, family, and neighbors who end up sharing his house and yard periodically. He even learned to live with a cat for a while. (He really wasn't happy about that.) So he'll adjust and maybe, I hope, even learn to like her over time? At least a little?

This is much sooner than expected but we've gone with the circumstances with both Alex and Phil and ended up with beloved pets both time, so we think we're doing right now too. And we really can't resist a Golden puppy ... :)

Meet Gwen ... )
dawn_felagund: (unicorn)
Those who read the SWG newsletter or follow me on Tumblr know that I have officially started my hiatus for my thesis. I won't be on social media and will even *gasp!* be closing out my email while I'm working so that I can avoid the bad habit of popping in every five minutes to see if there is anything new.

I am definitely reachable on email, so if you want to tell me something, please do email me. :)

My most excellent comods will be taking over my responsibilities for the next few months on my various fandom projects. Russa put together the SWG newsletter this month. It was the first time in ten years that I didn't do it! I feel like a new parent leaving a child with a babysitter for the first time with all my little finicky instructions and comments. (I hope I wasn't too annoying!) Even though I know they will do a wonderful job, it's just strange that something that has been a daily part of my life will for over a decade now will get on without me for a few months! I'll still be getting auto-forwards but trying not to answer them! Let's see how I do!

So ... I'll see everyone in March then! <3
dawn_felagund: (alex awww)
When I first purchased my video camera, I practiced using it by taking lots of little videos of the Goldens just being the Goldens. Now that Alex is gone, I am so glad that I did.

I pulled these videos off my school laptop the other day to save them on Dropbox. This one is probably my favorite. In 2013, the Ravens went to (and won) the Super Bowl. We took the Goldens to a party for the AFC Championships over my inlaws' house. I took this video the next morning, when I couldn't even get them off the couches to go outside.



Alex always had a very expressive face and a way of looking and acting that sometimes made you feel like he understood a lot of what you were saying. The dirty looks he gives me in this video as I immortalize his laziness are priceless.

Phil is in it too, curled in a tiny ball on the couch. Unlike Alex, Phil couldn't care less that I was filming him.
dawn_felagund: (pawprints)
As I noted in my last post, we decided to bring Alex home and bury him in the yard. Bobby and I started digging the grave on Thursday. It was slow going because our soil is a mixture of clay and rock. Bobby picked, and I shoveled. We got about two feet down before the thunderstorm creeping up out of the west started throwing visible lightning, and we decided to call it a day.

Friday, we picked him up at the ER clinic. Read more... )
dawn_felagund: (alex awww)
We had to put Alex down last night.

I know. We were just celebrating his biopsy results coming back negative for any cancerous cells. And the second opinion confirmed that.

Yesterday morning, when we woke up, Alex was a little under the weather. But he has never been a morning person, and he had played hard with Bobby the night before, so we chalked it up to him being a little worn out. But when we came home from work, he was very obviously lethargic, and when we checked his gums, they were gray, suggesting that he was bleeding again inside. (He had gotten his color back to the extent that even his grandparents commented on how pink his tongue was when he was panting at Mackey's last week!) His breathing was also a little labored, and he was using his abdominal muscles to draw breath.

We took him to the Pet ER, and the vet, suspecting that one of the lesions on his liver was hemorrhaging like his spleen had hemorrhaged, recommended an ultrasound. She found no free fluid in his belly, but on a hunch, took a look at his heart, and his pericardium was full of fluid. She explained that she was 95% certain that he had a hemangiosarcoma on his pericardium that had ruptured and was filling his pericardium with blood. The biopsy likely came back negative because the tissue in his spleen had deteriorated so badly that even the cancerous cells weren't able to live in it anymore. Basically, his whole body was riddled with cancer.

There is nothing--NOTHING--that can be done for hemangiosarcoma on the heart. There is no medical or surgical solution to prolong his life. Since he was hemorrhaging into his pericardium, his time was very limited, and as she explained, could quickly deteriorate to where he died badly during the night. (I asked if we could take him home for one last night and have Dr. Baker do his euthanasia the next day, but she said that there was a significant risk that he would deteriorate rapidly in just a few hours.) And we did see him deteriorate even in the two hours we were at the vet with him.

My parents were in Atlantic City, but my inlaws, Amiah, and Erin came to the ER, and he was so happy to see them. He lifted his head and wagged his tail each time, and he even stood up for his Aunt Erin. You could almost see in his face the surprised delight that everyone came unexpected to see him! So he was peaceful and happy when the time came. (Which is why I didn't want to euthanize him at the ER if we could avoid it, because he understandably hates it there, and I didn't want him to be distressed when he died.) We surrounded him for about a half-hour and petted him and laughed over our memories of him and how he used to walk Grandmom around the apartment complex when we lived in Ellicott City and try to eat napkins that he found on the ground and pull pieces off the Christmas tree, and all the other stuff he used to do that made him Alex.

This is really hard. I have loved and lost pets before, but I have never loved a pet like I loved Alex, and I don't know if I will again. He was not a typical Golden. He was very intelligent and willful, and he did things on his terms. I always felt like he and I were cut from the same cloth, like we were truly Wallses in our manners and personalities. There was always friction between us because he would intentionally do things to irritate me for attention (I definitely irritated him too, since I would tickle his ears and feet), or I would want him to do something one way, and he had to do it on his terms, but I understood and connected to him like I never have before with a pet. Three weeks ago, when he went in for his spleen, I began to prepare for this possibility, but now that it's come, I still find myself surprised by the spaces in my life where he should have been, where I never thought to miss him and now find him gone.

We are so grateful for the time we had with him. A lot of pets with hemangiosarcoma die so suddenly that their people come home to find them dead. Or the situation could have been reversed, and the tumor on his heart might have ruptured first, and we would not have had the last three wonderful weeks with him, in which he seemed like a dog half his age, if only for a short while.

I am, as many know, getting ready to write my thesis in October. As those who work with me on fandom projects know, I am in the process of preparing those projects for my four months off. I feel like this is the moment when I am beginning to step back. I am probably not going to be around as much till my thesis is done. This does not mean that I am unavailable, and anyone who wants/needs to talk to me knows where to find me, and I am happy to hear from people, just not sure I'm quite up to being my usual hyper-energized self right now, at least socially. I hope you all know how much you mean to me and that my silence is not from lack of care or interest but because I'm coming up on an intense part of my life, and I feel very frail right now.

Alex is still at the ER. We have decided to bury him at home, so we are waiting to hear from Miss Utility so that we can choose a site and begin to dig, and the clinic will hold his body until then. He will be well provided with grave goods, and we are going to have a wake to celebrate his life. Anyone who lives in the area will be invited. I will post here when I have a date.

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Dawn Felagund

August 2016

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