August 2017

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[personal profile] lindahoyland asked me to talk about my pets. I've had some pretty special animals in my life (but anyone with pet dogs and cats feels that way, no? :) so this will be a little bit on the memoirish side.

All the Critters I Have Known )
Well, we got the big snow as promised. I don't know how much we got, but it was a lot. There was a lot of blowing and drifting last night, so it'd be hard to tell, even if I was willing to venture outside, which I have not so far. Schools were closed today after an early dismissal yesterday.

This was our back deck this morning. It's still snowing lightly, but we're not supposed to get more than a few more inches today.

 photo 20170315_110857_zpspw3ibvw2.jpg

Bobby took these pictures of the Wilds last night; he took them out to play in the snow. They are both like little children and get giddy when we have fresh snow falling.

Lancelot.

 photo lance_2017snowstorm_zpshox8nway.jpg



Guineweird.

 photo gwen-2017snowstorm_zpsp2s4grsp.jpg



On a completely unrelated note, I have enough fannish stuff to report that I'm actually going to use a bulleted list. Whoa.

  • I wrote an essay for the B2MeM prompt "Analyze a Chapter or Passage." I chose to compare the death scenes of Fëanor and Fingolfin, looking particularly at the evidence those passages provide for historical bias. The result: The Deaths of Kings: Historical Bias in the Death Scenes of Fëanor and Fingolfin.


  • For the personal essay B2MeM prompt, I wrote a personal essay (duh) called Mountains between the Light and the World: On Walls and Greed and the Privilege of Isolation. Warning: It gets into my personal politics, particularly my musings on why I've always been so bothered by the hoarding of light in The Silmarillion and how contrary to my political and personal values that idea is.


  • There's a new SWG challenge up. We're explicitly encouraging participants to combine our prompt with one of the other challenges going on. There's lots of challenges going on in the next month.


  • Last week, I almost died when I was Googling for a link to Attainable Vistas and, in the process, stumbled on this review of the issue of JTR and my essay in particular. The review called it "one of the best -- if not the best -- article on Tolkien written this year." What?! The writer is a Tolkien scholar, so he liked the first half--about historical bias--more than the second about fandom. Which I'd agree: the historical bias stuff is more generally interesting and relevant to an audience familiar with Tolkien. The fandom stuff is more for the connoisseurs, as it were. :D One of the things I found about traditional publication versus fannish publication is that the relative silence that meets a traditionally published work makes me wonder sometimes if what I wrote is even being read. (There wasn't absolute silence around "Attainable Vistas," but the chatter all came from fandom--go figure!) I was pleased to know that my work was not only read but clearly appreciated. It was a really pleasant surprise.


  • Speaking of "Attainable Vistas," I will be presenting the unpublished parts of that paper at the Vermont Tolkien Conference in just a few weeks. I received official registration information a few days ago, so it's really happening. No fandom stuff this time--just historical bias!


  • I have most of the rest of my B2MeM path planned out or underway. Let me say again how nice it has been to participate in B2MeM this year. I almost never get to participate outside of volunteering. But I get to listen to people participating complain about participating, feeling like the kid whose family never goes on vacation listening to her friends gripe about having to spend a week in Paris. I've really enjoyed getting to focus on my research and writing; I usually need an excuse to do this, and B2MeM has been a great excuse. It's improved my mood toward B2MeM immensely as well. I will confess that this is the fandom project where I am always the closest to burning out--thank goodness for Indy taking the reins these past few years!


  • Not really related to fandom, but while Googling my article the other night, I found that my university has also published my thesis. So you can read it if you want to. Some people said they wanted to! It's been downloaded 21 times, which is pretty amazing in itself.


Well, report card grades are due today, and I still have a little left to do to make that happen, so off I go!
The Goldens have always been also named The Wilds. Alex and Lance were The Wilds, and now Lance and Gwen are also The Wilds.

People often speculate, "I wonder what my dog does when I'm not home?" I'm fairly certain I know what The Wilds do when we're not home. Spending both weekend days home with them revealed that all they do? Is sleep.

This was The Wilds over the weekend, both knocked out cold on the floor of my study while I worked.

 photo 20161203_144945_zps9joym3zn.jpg


Guinevere has taken to not wanting to get out of bed in the morning and installing herself on the guest room bed. Bobby's staff holiday party for Jay Peak was tonight, and when we got home, we had to call her about five times before she finally deigned to come see us. And this was after a full day of doing what you see in the picture above.
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.
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... )
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. )
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 ... )

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