May the Fourth Be With You!

Happy May the Fourth, everyone! It feels like it’s been forever since the last time I logged into WordPress. Almost a month, to be exact. I didn’t mean to fall off the blogosphere altogether in April.

Aprils are always hard with teaching, grading, keeping up with administrative work, etc. This time was the worst yet. I took on way too much this year, and it became very apparent this month. I didn’t realize how stressed I was until my dad stepped in with a mini-intervention. My husband had been telling me that I was overly stressed for the last couple weeks in March, but when my mental health therapist dad stepped in, I knew things were serious. So I stepped back from a lot of things and took a deep breath. Okay, a lot of deep breaths. But now that the fever pitch has died down, everything can go back to normal. (Which means I have a whole heap of great posts to catch up on!)

Just in time, too, since May the Fourth is one of my favorite holidays!

Every year, I wear my Star Wars best wherever I go. Today, it’s a shirt that one of my sweet middle schoolers bought me for Christmas and the traditional Leia buns. (The buns are impossible to resist.)

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And what better way to add to the celebration than a Star Wars cat video?

So, expect the normal blogging schedule to return, and I’ll catch up on your posts soon!

May the Fourth be with you. Always.


The Silmarillion Recap: The Journey’s End

Want to catch up on The Silmarillion so far? Check out the Silmarillion Recaps page here.

Last week, Gondor became the kingdom that we all know from The Lord of the Rings. This week, we finally  have the conclusion of our journey through The Silmarillion.

“Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age” part 9

The current state of Middle-earth is a far cry from what the Valar originally intended. The peaceful world that they hoped for filled with the Firstborn and Secondborn of Ilúvatar (Elves and Men) has descended into chaos. And as this part of the story of Middle-earth concludes, there are a few final events to discuss that lead up to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

First, Elrond makes his home of Rivendell (called Imladris by the Elves) a refuge, filled with the books, songs, and lore that those familiar with the other books know well. Among those who take sanctuary in the Last Homely House (as it’s known in The Hobbit) are the Heirs of Isildur. After all, they are basically his great-nephews (with many generations in between). They also keep the Shards of Narsil (the sword that cut the Ring from Sauron’s finger) there as well. Even though Elrond doesn’t know the future exactly, he does feel that something great will become of Isildur’s descendants and the broken sword one day.

The main reason that Rivendell so well-preserved is because he still has one of the Three Rings that had been given to the Elves. Galadriel still has one as well, which maintains the beauty of Lothlórien. That third Ring, though? Well, its location isn’t revealed at the moment, but it is given in The Lord of the Rings.

Even though Sauron went missing for a while after his last defeat, he hasn’t been defeated. Instead, he sets up shop in Dol Guldor, an old fortress situated in the forest once known as Greenwood the Great. Thranduil (Legolas’ dad) has his kingdom there and has enjoyed peace for a long time, but once Sauron arrives, he focuses on keeping the evil forces that followed Sauron at bay. His beautiful forest loses the name Greenwood and eventually becomes Mirkwood. (And this is the state of things during The Hobbit.)

And now for the final piece of the puzzle: the Wizards. It’s been a long time since the Valar have directly intervened on behalf of the inhabitants of Middle-earth. However, they do so now by sending servants, known as the Istari or Wizards (by men). They are sent as a direct response to Sauron’s growing threat and to inspire Elves and Men alike. Even though only three of the five make appearances in the books, Gandalf and Saruman are key players in the books in which they appear.

Before the events of The Hobbit, Gandalf is the first to suspect that Sauron is trying to make a stronghold in Greenwood (aka Mirkwood). When he investigates Dol Guldor, Sauron flees. However, it’s not long before he shows up again… and brings us to the events of The Hobbit and later The Lord of the Rings.

And that’s it. The rest of this book is actually summary of The Lord of the Rings and the backstory for what Gandalf was doing whenever he left the Company in The Hobbit (which was included in the Peter Jackson films).

Now where does that leave us on Wednesdays? That’s to be determined. I have some ideas, but if you have any suggestions, let me know! :)


April Fool’s Day Hijinks

April Fool’s Day was Friday. I spent quite a bit of time trying to decide what to do this year, I decided to go mild. The fun thing about middle schoolers is that they haven’t been around long enough to see everything, which means I can pull that old pop quiz prank. You know, the one in which the first direction is to read over the entire quiz before completing it, and the final line says that they only need to write their names at the top of the page and turn it in. The looks on their faces were priceless as they turned from horror to bemusement.

The Internet held better ones. My favorite this year, though, was National Geographic’s plan to stop publishing pictures of naked animals. The results were priceless… though I have to wonder how they managed to dress cats. Mine would never stand for it. Check out the slideshow here.

Boo as Frodo

Dressing a cat might be impossible, but dressing a dog? I did it to both of my childhood dogs. Here’s Shelby as Frodo.

What was your favorite prank this year? Did you pull one on someone?


The Silmarillion Recap: The Last King of Gondor

Want to catch up on The Silmarillion so far? Check out the Silmarillion Recaps page here.

Last time, the set up for The Lord of the Rings and the Rangers we all know and love all fell together. This week, it’s the end of the glorious Gondor that once existed and the beginning of the familiar one from The Lord of the Rings.

“Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age” part 8

Towards the beginning, Gondor was still an impressive kingdom. The Dúnedain still reigned and Sauron’s forces had been defeated. However, those days soon faded.

Living in Middle-earth means that the Dúnedain inevitably began marrying the Men who lived in the kingdom. Slowly, this took a toll on the Dúnedain, resulting in shorter lives.

However, that is the least of their problems. During one of the later king’s reigns, a plague hits. Many of the people of Gondor are killed, leading to the abandonment of Minas Ithil. While this isn’t a problem in itself, it does allow for evil to creep back into Mordor unnoticed. Among them are the Nazgûl — the Ringwraiths, the nine Men who took Rings from Sauron and were corrupted. They know that Sauron is on his way so they prepare his old stronghold. Along the way, they also capture Minas Ithil, transforming it instead into Minas Morgul, the Tower of Sorcery. During those days, Minas Anor is also renamed to Minas Tirith, the Tower of Guard and the major line of defense against the Nazgûl.

One day, a King of Gondor named Eãrnur has a showdown with a Morgul-lord. It’s supposed to be a one-on-one dual, but Eãrnur is betrayed and a Nazgûl captures him and he’s never seen again. Since this king has no heir, he’s the last King of Gondor. The land would have surely fallen to Sauron’s forces if it wasn’t for the Stewards, Men who already worked with the Kings. However, Gondor will never be the same without the Dúnedain kings.

Next time, a few final words on the Heirs of Isildur.


Happy Tolkien Reading Day!

Sorry it’s been two weeks since my last post. Mix one of the busiest parts of the school year with the flu, and the result is that barely anything gets done. But I’m back now.

Anyways, today is one of my favorite holidays: Tolkien Reading Day!

There are several things I love about the holiday, especially on years like this. First off, it’s an homage to one of my favorite authors. Even though I love many writers, Tolkien’s influence on my own writing is undeniable. It’s a great excuse to read at least a few pages of one of his works and wear some of the geeky Lord of the Rings paraphernalia that I own.

My favorite excerpt to read (especially on years when I can’t sit and read the entirety of The Hobbit in one day) is about the reason this day was chosen to be Tolkien Reading Day in the first place: it’s the anniversary of the Fall of Sauron.

Even if I don’t get to read anything else, I always read The Return of the King, specifically Book VI, the last part of chapter 3 and the beginning of chapter 4, where it all goes down.

The Fall of Sauron

One of the best parts : )

Sometimes, like this year, it very appropriately falls on Good Friday. While The Lord of the Rings isn’t allegory (and Tolkien would roll over in his grave if such a thing were said of his works), it does ring true to what he and CS Lewis called the One True Myth. I think it’s one of those things he would make him smile.

So, happy Good Friday, Easter, and Tolkien Reading Day!

And here’s to being back after far too long.

Do you celebrate Tolkien Reading Day or any other booklover holidays?


The Panda Cupcake (A Poem)

 

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Round fondant eyes stare
at me, frosting mouth filled
with fear. I’ve never felt so conflicted
about eating a cupcake.


The Silmarillion Recap: Farewell to the Glory Days

Want to catch up on The Silmarillion so far? Check out the Silmarillion Recaps page here.

Last time, Isildur finally met his doom. This week, the set up for The Lord of the Rings and the Rangers we all know and love.

“Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age” part 7

As the last chapter of this book comes to a close, so does the last major chapter for the Dúnedain.

Remember Narsil, the sword that Elendil and Isildur used in the fight with Sauron? Well, Isildur had kept it after that fight, and it was with his group when they were ambushed. While most of his convoy were killed by the Orcs, one man wasn’t: Ohtar. He gathers up the shards of the famous sword and heads over to Elrond’s home of Rivendell (aka, Imladris), where Isildur’s wife and youngest son, Valandil, have been hiding out.

For a while, the Dúnedain kingdoms founded by Elendil, Isildur, and Anárion remain, but it doesn’t last forever. Within seven generations, the strong kingdoms break up into smaller kingdoms. Then the smaller kingdoms break up further, leaving nothing but a group of wanderers. By the time we reach the era of The Lord of the Rings, hardly anyone seems to remember a time when the Dúnedain were great.

There is one last tidbit, though, that deserves to be noted. Those shards of Narsil — that famous sword — aren’t forgotten. They are passed from father to son without exception for generation after generation… until they reach the best known Dúnedain of them all and are reforged in order to face Sauron one last time. (And if you guessed that that person is Aragorn, you guessed right!)


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