Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for Tolkien Photo Challenge Part 3 of 3 and 1000 Posts Contest Last Day! (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

Z is for Z end of the list and the third and final part of the #TolkienCollection Photo Challenge!

Part one of the Tolkien photo challenge was under the letter K and answered the first seven questions. Part two of the Tolkien photo challenge was under the letter R and covered questions 8 through 14.

Here's part three of the #TolkienCollection:

15. Item you consider to be a must-have for every collector -- authorised editions of the books, of course! I don't mind collecting other editions, but during my annual rereads I only ever read the 50th anniversary edition, since it has most of the typos and errors corrected. I'd like to get the 60th anniversary edition...

16. Top three items you'd take on an adventure -- The Lord of the Rings and copies of The Lost Road and The Notion Club Papers plus some of the poems. Also the original Caedmon recordings. Is that a lot of books to carry in one's backpack? Maybe, but I've always done that -- carried more books than clothes or other items, everywhere I go!

17. The oldest item you own -- maybe the hardcover The Lays of Beleriand? No, that one isn't a first edition or even a first printing, so it must be my dad's copies of The Lord of the Rings from the 1970s and the biography of Tolkien from the same decade.
Besides the truly rare (like the recent discovery of a Tolkien poem called Noel), there are few items that were actually published in Tolkien's lifetime. To own something old, then, would mean first editions or printings of The Hobbit, Mr Bliss, The Lord of the Rings, Farmer Giles of Ham, and a couple of other items. Maybe one of those letters or postcards that comes up at auction once in a while.
I don't own even a copy of the first edition of The Hobbit, with the original Riddles in the Dark chapter! Must get on that...
Cursory research shows I can get one of the original 1, 500 copies, first impression of the first edition, published 21 September 1937, for only 12,000$. Perhaps we could sell our car...

18. An item it took you a long time to obtain -- just started this year, purchasing items I've known of for ages but somehow never bought before! I've gotten Bilbo's Last Song, a copy of The Devil's Coach Horses, Tolkien's brother Hilary's book Black and White Ogre Country, and so on. I'm still missing two major items: the original Pictures by J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Tolkien Family Album by Priscilla Tolkien. Hammond and Scull also have two massive companion tomes out that I really want (who can resist a big fat book?).

19. An impulse buy -- a few months ago I got a print of Pauline Baynes illustration from The Chronicles of Narnia, signed by Baynes! Okay, so that's not a Tolkien work, but...

20. Your choice -- I ought to have taken a photo of this to share. I have a notebook I started writing in about 20 years ago, where I kept lists of interesting words Tolkien used, doodled line drawings of the walls of Minas Tirith (this has been one of my stock doodles since about the age of 12), copied out some of the poems, and worked over and over again on translating Errantry and a couple of other poems into Turkish.

It seems as though many people have stock doodles. When you're sat in a meeting and trying to concentrate, and you pick up a pen or pencil... Besides Minas Tirith, mine feature geometric shapes, sunset on a sea, a branching tree (another Tolkien-inspired item), a cat silhouette, fish outlines, and a few other bits and pieces.

 Tree of Amalion and Stylized Tree, from Pictures by J. R. R. Tolkien

Here's to the Blogging from A to Z Challenge and all the hosts, participants, and commenters!

You can still keep commenting on all the R to Z posts, for your chance to win in my 1000 posts contest -- The winner will be drawn this weekend and announced on Wednesday!

What kinds of doodles do you draw?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for Various Readings, Knitting, and Byron at Villa Diodati (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

V is for various readings.

I love the idea of the Inklings reading aloud from their essays and stories and poems, discussing all sorts of ideas having to do with myth and fairy tales and history and language... All over a pint or two in firelit rooms...

It's funny to think of, but they probably sat with their hands idle. Whereas a group of women, when they met, would have had a quilting circle, or a bit of sewing or knitting in their hands.

Speaking of which, I never really specified it as part of my ROW80 goals, but I still try to keep up my knitting projects! The only thing is, I seem to have been a bit lax in taking photographs. I'm in the middle of three things at the moment, a blanket for a cousin's new baby, a shawl for a friend, and a sweater for myself (that one is not likely to ever be finished). In between I made a few more new-baby items, including these wee hats:

It's a good thing that I have other photos to share instead!

It's interesting that I can't seem to find any direct reference to Tolkien's views on the Romantics (Byron, Shelley, Keats, and so on). C. S. Lewis's ideas I could distill -- if I had all my books from storage! I know I keep saying this. But there might be a light on the horizon! We're looking into having everything shipped...

All this is bringing me in a roundabout way to our last visit to the villa that Lord Byron stayed at, 200 years ago next month, when he arrived in Geneva. We've visited the Castle of Chillon, which inspired his Prisoner of Chillon poem, but we've also been up to see the villa Diodati, which is still a private residence, across the lake (roughly) from our village:

Byron's meadow

Villa greenhouse

Road behind the house



Villa Diodati

It was so quiet back then that you could hear the lake lapping on the shore far below

Peering in at the gate...

Don't forget to keep commenting on as many posts as you like, for your chance to win in my 1000 posts contest!

And if you've seen any interesting/strange/weird/must-see A to Z posts, share them in the comments below!
Have you seen any related to poetry or knitting?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

R is for R is for Ready, Set, Go! Contest for 1000 Posts and Tolkien Photo Challenge Part 2 of 3 (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

is for ready, set, go!

1000 blog posts today over on my writing blog The Girdle of Melian!

I hit 500 posts back in May 2011, after nearly four years of blogging; it's been five years since then.

Many posts about the writing journey, about Tolkien, about books read and authors followed (remember the year of the unexpected Neil Gaiman?), travels galore, and so much more... I'll collate them someday, I hope.

The week-long contest starts today!

But first, the #TolkienCollection Photo Challenge!

Part one of the Tolkien photo challenge was under the letter K and answered the first seven questions. Part two covers 8 through 14:

8. Create a rainbow with items in your collection -- I'm excusing myself from this one on the grounds that taking all the books I have here (missing all the ones in storage!) off from the shelves and arranging them would take twice as long and be twice as messy with baby involved.
Instead, here she is at birth, when I was rereading The Lord of the Rings:

9. Your most unconventional item -- one of the many items in storage is a textbook written by one of Tolkien's students!

10. The "Arkenstone" of your collection -- I wish I had a first or signed edition to speak of. It's hard to pick just one item since, when we moved here, I made sure to bring them all with me, and didn't leave a single main item behind!

11. Your guilty pleasure (books, artwork, action figures, etc.) -- I do have a One Ring I was given as a gift. I find it odd that people might want to collect Sauron or orc-related items. Smacks a bit of the "orc-play" Tolkien refers to in A New Shadow.

12. Wishlist item -- Besides first editions and things? And something signed? And Songs for the Philologists? Okay, well, something more feasible -- I'd like to complete my collection of reprints of the editions of Parma Eldalamberon and Vinyar Tengwar that feature original works by Tolkien.
I'd also really like to visit the Wade Centre and the Bodleian and see the originals of all these manuscripts! And, since I now live much closer to France, I'd like to meet Christopher Tolkien...
Not too much to ask, is it?

13. Item you forgot you owned -- just discovered it the other day. Not strictly an item, but I have an email from Professor Verlyn Flieger from over 10 years ago that she wrote in response to a question I'd sent referring to certain mythological archetypes in The Lord of the Rings.

14. Largest item in your collection -- probably Rateliff's big fat book. Not complaining, I love big fat books. Otherwise, the movie tie-in jigsaw puzzle, which was lots of fun to work!

And now, the contest! I keep saying it's week-long, but it's actually going to run until the end of the Blogging From A to Z Challenge.

Prize rules are simple:

I'll do an overall name draw at the end of the A to Z Challenge of everyone who's commented on the remaining letters, including this one. Those who comment on more than one letter earn extra chances!  For instance, if you comment on letters R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, and Z that means you have nine chances to win!

Links to your blog and to Facebook and Twitter will earn an extra chance! But please let me know in the comments that you've done it, otherwise I won't be checking.
Grand prize is a 30$ gift card to the online book retailer of your choice!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

K is for Tolkien Photo Challenge Part 1 of 3 (cross post from The Girdle of Melian series on A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings)

K is for...not much to do with K. It's another one of my sneak-in-a-post days. Three of my A to Z posts will feature items from The Tolkien Photo Challenge, and this is part one!

The original Tolkien collection photo challenge was organized on the Middle-earth News blog by Britta Siemen and Myla Malinalda:

"If you have a blog or any kind of social media account, feel free to participate! (If not, you can always leave a comment on any of my posts showing off your item for that entry.) One of my favourite things about being a collector is seeing what other people like to collect. Additionally, this photo challenge only covers 20 days, but I'd like to go through the entire month of January, so I'll likely be thinking of a few more items to add to the list. If there's something specific from my collection you'd like to see or know more about, leave a comment and I'll post it before the month is over!"

I've compressed it all into three posts, and don't always feature photos, mainly because when we moved to Switzerland, I had to leave everything but the most essential Tolkien books behind. We came here with only six suitcases worth of stuff, which included clothes, a few kitchen items, important documents, and books. Mostly Tolkien, some Lewis, and a few other staples. I whittled the Tolkien down to one set of The Lord of the Rings, one copy of each major publication by Tolkien (including the posthumous ones), the twelve books of Middle-earth, and Humphrey Carpenter's biographies of Tolkien and the Inklings, as well as the Hammond and Scull books I own plus Rateliff's and Anderson's annotated copies of The Hobbit.

So much is still languishing in storage -- all the Dorothy Sayers, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, and so on, plus Simon Tolkien's books, Anderson's Tales Before Tolkien, books by John Garth and Joseph Pearce and others, various random items (such as a tiny boxed set in French of the Father Christmas Letters) including translations in German and Turkish, and the ephemera that would make for good collection photos, such as the Lord of the Rings movie tie-in Monopoly set and jigsaw puzzle. I even have a teaser page from Vanity Fair c. 2001 with a photo of the cast in costume and on location, when the movies were just starting to be filmed and we had such high hopes for them...

All that said, here are the first seven of the 20 photo challenge items:

1. Your collection space -- see above!

2. First item you remember adding to your collection -- good question. The copies of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings that I first read belonged to my parents. What was the first item I bought for myself? Oh, it must have been The Silmarillion!

3. Your go-to copy of your favourite Tolkien book -- they're all favourites, let's say, but let's go with the 50th anniversary editions of The Lord of the Rings. I love reading about the detailed processes behind finding, collating, and correcting all the errata in all the editions over the years.

4. Item you splurged the most on -- I don't think I have anything truly rare. I know what I want, though: the 30,000$ Songs for the Philologists

5. Tiniest item in your collection -- wee Lego Bilbo

6. Best deal you've scored -- Not sure. I have a couple of odd items, such as a book by one of Tolkien's students that refers to him in the introduction and acknowledgements. I got a lovely second hand copy of The Jerusalem Bible through the Australian branch of Abebooks. Getting any new Tolkien item is an excitement in itself!

7. Your most recent addition -- A Secret Vice. Just got the Amazon notification that it's being delivered this week!

Use the hashtag #TolkienCollectionand add your own!

I've previously shared some of my favourites of Tolkien's art:

 Are their any authors whose works you collect?

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Frodo (cross post from The Girdle of Melian post F is for Adam Fox (A to Z on Tolkien and the Inklings))

F is for Adam Fox, Fellow, Professor, and a Canon of Westminster Abbey. Tolkien described him in a letter as one of the "member of our literary club of practising poets".

Besides, that, though, I don't really know much about him, and haven't yet read any of his poems (or other works).

I'm going to break the A to Z, therefore, to post a little memorial. I'd like to write a proper eulogy, but my emotions are still too raw for that. Instead, I'll collate a few photos.

Frodo, RIP, 22 September 2003-1 April 2016

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Year-end Knitting and Other Hobbies Review, including Outlander and John Howe

Part two of the year end reviews, this time for all other hobbies!

I had a very short recap last year of my knitting in 2014, and posted these goals:

1. Finish knitting three more cowls
2. Think about buying expensive wool to make, slowly, methodically, and properly, a gorgeous design by Kate Davies
3. Organise all our photos and print a few, especially for our grandparents
4. Bake more!

I completed 3, got a start on 4, and am still doing 2! The first goal got derailed a bit as the second cowl fell to pieces (I attempted to use a set of very thick circular needles, which didn't work in my hands at all. I need to tink (undo; knit spelled backwards!) that cowl and restart).

Items that I completed were a square for a joint project, a baby tuque, a second tuque, and two baby blankets.

The second tuque started as a pair of leg warmers, promised to Diana Gabaldon when she was up in Scotland, and cold... reached this height...

...and somehow turned into a hat instead!

If I had started both leg warmers at the same time, they might have stayed leg warmers (also if I had been able to finish them in any decent length of time), but one of the reasons why I use the Magic Loop method when (and if) I make socks is because I can't stand knitting something then having to turn around and make a matching second item. Much better to knit both at once!

 This is the start of the baby tuque; I shared a photo of the completed tuque in October.

Blankets one and two. Funny, I guess I didn't take a photo of the first one after I completed it. Will try to remember to take one after baby comes!

I only had a handful of blog posts last year, some featuring interesting knitting links, one related to Outlander, one featuring Geek Knits, and one on Tolkien Reading Day.

I also became a patron of Knitty magazine, and kept up my collection of knitting-in-public-and-literature references. Here's one more:

Edith Piaf knitting

A collection of other-hobby items:

Blog contests
Crystal's always featuring new authors! Back in December she showcased Jules Smith, and I won a signed copy of Sophie's Throughway!
A new author each time; see who she's featuring this week at Crystal Collier.

It was the anniversary of Charles Perrault's birthday last Tuesday, and Google had some lovely doodles:

And I got an Outlander colouring book and a signed (!) page of a Pauline Baynes illustration for The Chronicles of Narnia!

I just learned that one of my favourite Tolkien illustrators, John Howe, lives in Switzerland!

This weekend is Burns supper night, held to celebrate the life and poetry of Robert Burns.

Here's a track that features a line from Tam O' Shanter:

Gratuitous baby photo

What projects are you focusing on?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Talli Roland's Latest, and a Knitting ROW80 Update

More holiday tales!

Talli Roland has a new story out:

Christmas at Cranberry Cottage

"With a whirlwind lifestyle travelling the world, the one thing Jess Millward relies on is Christmas with her gran in cosy Cranberry Cottage. When her grandmother reveals the house is directly in the path of a new high-speed railway, Jess is determined to fight.
Can Jess save the cottage from demolition, or will she have no home to come to this Christmas?"

I read this last weekend, and recommend it! It's just the right blend of heartwarming but not sappy, and was all the more poignant as it made me think of my maternal grandmother, who passed away last spring. Thanks for the warm and fuzzy feelings, Talli!

I've cross posted from the writing blog today, because my ROW80 goals have gotten somewhat skewed. I've got some notes and those five pages of Larksong still to type, Druid's Moon notes to check and editing to do, and NaNo to plan for, but instead I've been reading and knitting!

One project started, and one done:

Baby blanket (for a cousin due in January):

Coincidentally, the pattern for this blanket is taken from a pattern book I bought at the Knit n Purl shop in Myrtle Beach, the same book I used a pattern from when knitting a gift for Talli when she was expecting!

Baby tuque!

Came across this fun Wondermark a while ago:

I've also become a patron of Knitty, the longest-running online knitting magazine!

Have you supported any projects on Patreon? Or maybe on Kickstarter or another similar site?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Knitting and Music (Finished Secret Square, Maison Tavel, and Knitting Madonnas)

Cross-posting to the neglected knitting blog today!

With all the excitement on the writing front, and busy real life, knitting has slid onto the back burner. I see intriguing patterns, and have family and friends with new babies, but can't seem to get a project started that's larger than one square to donate to a group project:

Starting out...

Oh no, I made a mistake and have to tink (unknit)...

Whew! Managed to finish a square!

Now for the inspection...

I'm also still compiling knitting-in-public images and references, as I see them. One of the more recent was a portrait of a knitter in Maison Tavel, the oldest house in Geneva:

Also came across a website listing 46 Interesting Facts About Knitting, including about its origins and history:
"In the 1350s, 'knitting Madonnas' began to appear in Europe, depicting the Virgin Mary knitting. These include Our Lady Knitting (c. 1325–1375) and Visit of the Angel (1400–1410). These paintings are important markers that indicate when knitting entered Europe and how knitting was done. ... There were shepherds in the Landes swamps in France known as tchangues ('big legs') who would knit on stilts while they watched their flocks. The need for stilt walking and shepherds were obliterated by the early 20th century when the government planted a forest of maritime pines over the swamps."
Apparently, knitting for 30 minutes burns 55 calories!

Knitting or otherwise keeping my hands busy is sometimes a good way to work through a plot problem or character conversations. Other times, music can be a source of inspiration:

I've written a couple of thousand words this past week, but am not much closer to finalising the short story. Two weeks to go till the deadline!

What other hobbies inspire your writing (or vice versa)?