Saturday, March 28, 2015


One of my jobs at the library where I work, is to sort through the boxes of donations we receive. I go through the books and divide them into categories: 

 - The ones we can add to the Library's collection

 - The ones that are very fine, but we have no use for, and which the Friends of the Library sell in the lobby.

 - The ones that are very decent, but a bit on the older side, which we set aside for a big everything goes sort of book sale, which occurs three times a year. Stuff as many books as you can into a bag, and we'll give it to you for $10!

 - And lastly, the books that do not fit into any of the above categories, and which we pass on to Better World Books. 

It is quite a fascinating job as the books that come through the donations can be quite diverse. Some are most excellent. Some are quirky and fun. Some are downright inappropriate. And some, I regret to say, are health hazards, and I am covered in dust (but, please God, let that not be spiderwebs) when I am finished. Some are just plain ridiculous, and you wonder what, exactly, possessed anyone to buy such a thing, much less hang on to it for years, before deciding to bequeath it to the Public Library. At some point, I am going to do a funny post on some of the real winners we've received, though I regret to say that that post will not feature pictures of the 20 volume series on microwave cooking - yes, you read that correctly. Apparently, microwave cooking is so complex as to require 20 volumes to cover it all.

Today is not the day for a funny post. Today is the day I brag about how I made out like a bandit with the donations. (The best thing about sorting donations, is that you get first dibs on whatever strikes your fancy. I love that.) Today, someone came in with a lot of beautiful old books.  I was up to my elbows in dust and crumbling pulp fiction when she arrived with them, I was shaken with great joy at the sight of civilised literature. I sort of pounced on the new stuff... and oh, golly, I was in heaven. Here is what I hauled home:

There was a book on swords in it! 

It is a very cool book with illustrations like these in it:

There is fold-out picture of the Bayeux Tapestry:


 The original must be staggeringly impressive, as this wee, fold up version just keeps coming and coming:

There is a copy of the Odyssey:

Translated by none other than Lawrence of Arabia:

There is this incredibly beautiful leather bound Latin book, containing the Sacred Liturgy for Holy Week and Easter Vigil.

See how beautiful it is:

It has its own cover:

Which is beautifully braid-stitched:

And the interiour is just as comely:

There was also this charming little folio:

Which upon being opened, contained drawings like this:

There was an Anglo Saxon Reader! 

Which contains a good deal of Anglo Saxon verse:

And finally..... There is a very simple little book called Word-Hoard:

Which is merely what its title page implies - a word list - but, oh, I got ridiculously excited about it. I jumped up and down, and felt very foolish and ashamed afterwards... but not sorry. I got excited about this entry:

not merely because it is the word sweord but because if you look closely at the blurry little shot, you will see the word maððum. Those two crossed 'd's - ðð - those make a 'th' sound, so that words is mathom, and I know what a mathom is. It is a treasure, an object of value, etc. Tolkien uses it in The Lord of the Rings for the nicknacks which the hobbits accumulate. But I am using it as the heading of this post, because that is what I came away home with today - maððums!


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Happy Tolkien Reading Day!

Did y'all know it's Tolkien Reading Day?!?! Personally, I think it should be a nationally recognized holiday. "Sorry, boss - it's Tolkien Reading Day - I'm staying home with a cup of tea, some Longbottom Leaf, and the Hobbit today." Lol :)

Yes, yes, I know it has been mighty quiet around here. And I know I sort of voiced an intention to reform my bad-blogger self and show a certain amount of commitment to the old hobbit hole on the ze internetz... I was careful not to promise reform, mind, as I know myself too well to be making promises I can't keep. I have been busy with all sorts of craftiness, ranging from Sharpie mugs to rosary-making, and I have pictures, and a day may come when I use those pictures to create an interesting post - but today is not that day!

This day, we fight! Wait, no we don't. What am I saying? It is Tolkien Reading Day, so reading is the order of the day.., and of course, a good Tolkienist like myself must make some sort of an appearance, right? I shall do you one better than that. I shall provide you with this link here of an extremely well-voiced gentleman reading aloud the first few chapters of Farmer Giles of Ham - which is quite delightful. I am at present getting my bit of Tolkien in by listening to it, whilst sipping a mug of home made chai tea. You all should take a few moments to listen to at least the first chapter as Farmer Giles is a most entertaining, contrary-hobbit of a man, and it is full of a Tolkien's curious sense of humour - a droll blend, tongue-in-cheek and dry, broad, yet erudite. It is great fun.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Well, I'm Back

So the battle raged, and the cannons flashed, and the beleaguered soldier, running low on supplies and completely out of ammunition, hunkered down in the trench, and waited for it to be over. And then: a sun rise. A bird call. The soldier cautiously peered over the top, and realised that the battle was over and all was peace.

All right, so that description is a little extreme. However, for the moment, that rather idiotic stream of bad luck seems to have abated. I think I have manage to go a whole week without a single episode of drama worth talking about. I want to thank all of you lovely people who still left comments and encouragement during the time when I was computer-less. And thanks also to all of you who have tagged me - especially Miss Muffin for the Lord of the Rings tag - I always love a chance to talk about those books! I intend to get to all the tags as soon as possible, but this post is primarily a wave to the world.

So what has happened since the last time I posted? Well, the Perpetually Overheating Subaru came back. It does not seem to be overheating any longer - quite the opposite. The temperature gage seldom moves off the cold setting at all, even when I take it over the mountain to see if it will behave itself. I find this very unsettling, and find myself watching the temperature with as much concern as ever I did when it ran hot. Still, I must admit that it seems to be running quite well. The engine... purrs.... my very ordinary snow-country car has a purring engine. I understand why car-guys like that sound so much. And it's handling very well. I find myself cruising along so smoothly that I am suddenly 10 miles over the speed limit and felt it not. Indeed, it seems to be running almost too well, and I am suspicious of its motives. On the advice of my sisters - who have a thing for naming cars, I have decided to christen mine "Loki"- partly because it is green and gold, but mostly because Loki is called "The Doer of Good and the Doer of Evil" which seems to fit my car's unchancy behaviour. I have also decided that I like it well enough to finally apply the Tree of Gondor decal I got for Christmas:

F O R     G O N D O R !

It sits right smack in the center of the back window, and is subtle enough not to make me look like the total Tolkienist that I am, but at the same time, obvious enough to delight the eye of my fellow Tolkienists. I can now yell, "For Gondor!" when I run for my car after work, if I want to. This pleases me exceedingly.

I also am in possession of a new laptop. It is a brand new Toshiba, which I bought on an insanely good sale through Amazon. It is quite nice - solid black, lovely keyboard, wide screen, much lighter than the old one. It did come with the Windows 8 Operating System, which I have found completely obnoxious ever since it first came out, but have downloaded and app to make it behave more like Windows 7, which is handy. There are a ton of apps on the thing, which I will never use, and I am deleting them from the computer. I suspect that they are the reason it seems to run slowly some times. I shall have to sit down sometime soon and see if I can look up what I actually need on the computer, and what I can jettison. But in the meantime, it is working out better than I thought it would, and I am liking it more than I expected:

Let the blogging begin!

Contrary to what that picture suggests, I am not really being that cavalier with liquids near the new Toshiba. I am mildly paranoid of ruining it. I mean, the car is running and I have a computer and it has been a whole week since the last spot of Drama.... best not to take any chances!

With the abatement of trying things, my creative streak, which, had hunkered down as well, seems to have revived. I have just started writing again, and it is as slow going as it was back in November, between the research and the way the story is deciding to tell itself, and me having to really care about it when I am writing it. Mostly, I am doodling in a moleskin notebook - some pencil sketches and some watercolours. Not much to speak of, but there is a sense of satisfaction in keeping one's hand in, so to speak:

Typical Mahri stuff. There is the ever present piper, drawn from the back (my favourite pose for a piper, as I have mention in various previous posts. A sword, of course, because I seem to draw a lot of swords. A bottle of ink and a fountain pen, sketched from life during a break at work. A diced glengarry bonnet, also sketched from life, during a longer break from work. Ship's sails, because I am trying to get into the feel of the story I am writing. The dragon was done in a slightly more challenging pose than is usual for me - there is no point in practising if one does not make an effort to test oneself. Free hand watercolour doodles, because I am intimidated by the idea, but really want to be able to do it.

And then there is this:

It is a haiku, and a very odd splashy illustration to go with it. I don't normally write haikus, for all they are a very traditional form of poetry and I am a very tradition poet. However, I run a small teen writing group at the library, and I really want to be able to do some quick poetry exercises with my kids next month, April being National Poetry Month. I thought that haikus would be an excellent form as an introduction to poetry, because they are very short, they don't have to rhyme, and they are very strict about rhythm: five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, five in the last - seventeen syllables all together. Furthermore, they would make wonderful warm-up writing exercises, as they force one to pay particular attention to economy with words - to take care to use just the right word, and leave out what does not need to be... So far, so good, but, as I said before, I don't write haikus. If I expect my kids to write one, I'd better be able to come up with one myself.

I sat and I mused. It was rainy yesterday, and cool. A welcome change from the abnormal warmth we've been visited with this winter. It smelled nice, and it was beautiful, and my poor, winter-starved heart was happy to see it. This is pretty much how I have felt on the extremely rare occasions that we have gotten precipitation this year. I jotted this down, tweaked the wording over the course of the day, and then came home and painted this. 

And that, in a nutshell, has been my week. Now that things have returned to normality, I intend - though, of course, know better than to promise - a more regular blogging schedule.