Re-reading The Hobbit

Gianna's Lord of the Rings Poster

I just finished re-reading the Hobbit.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve read it, but it still holds a lot of magic for me. When I was really little, my mom used to sit me down with fairy tales and myths, and when I was about 4 or 5, we read the Hobbit together. I continued to read stories filled with magic and fairies and elves . . . and still do today, obviously. I doubt I would have become so enthralled with the fantastic if my mom hadn’t instilled a love of wonder and mystery in me from an early age.

Of course since I have Gianna, I think about stuff like this nowadays. She’ll probably be a fan of fantasy to some extent, but who knows? She’ll certainly grow up being surrounded by it. I mean, she was both a princess and Ary Stark at MisCon 26 and at 19 months old has already attended a couple science fiction conventions. She doesn’t really have a chance, I guess.

Fantasy will probably be her sports team.

So a few days ago, I got out my Nook, and downloaded the Lord of the Rings trilogy in one volume. I haven’t read the Lord of the Rings since the movies came out. It’s been a while. Unlike many people who have good memories, which I usually do, I tend to forget a lot of parts of stories that I read.

In terms of rereading, this is excellent. The HOBBIT was sort of fresh read for me, even though I generally knew what would happen. In terms of discussing the Hobbit with friends, it’s not so good, but I don’t care about that.

I didn’t intend to reread the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy but I guess I sort of am. I’m surprised about a few things that I’ve encountered so far and I think it’s because of seeing the movies enough times without having to reread the original story. The first thing that jumps out at me is that from the time Bilbo vanishes on Frodo’s 33rd birthday, 17 years pass before Gandalf returns.

That’s a long damn time!

I also forgot all about the Sackville-Bagginses and Frodo getting his affairs in order as “Master of Bag End” after Bilbo’s vanishing. And they spend a lot more time escaping the Shire than I ever remembered.

In the movies, it’s easy to get caught up in Elijah Wood’s youthful Frodo with his big blue eyes and desperate expressions. The novel Frodo doesn’t seem like that to me (although I loved the movie Frodo).  And in my reread, I can’t help but see Sam Gamgee as Sean Astin, but that’s fine because I really thought he did a great job as Sam Gamgee.

Anyway, so far I’m enjoying my reread of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the Hobbit, even though when I see some of the dwarves in the movie, they don’t remind me of Fili and Kili and Bombur and Bofur.

Huh. Maybe in another 10 years I’ll reread the Hobbitt and Thorin is going to look, to my mind’s eye, just like the actor in the movies.

Gianna’s First Parade

Gianna Watching the Parade with Grandma

Yesterday we went to Gianna’s first parade, the University of Montana’s Homecoming Parade.

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I’m not at all a football fan, nor am I a fan of annoying sports-crowds. But I agreed with Melissa and my mom that Gianna would like going to a parade, so we took her. For the occasion, I dressed her in her princess dress from MisCon and her Christmas hat from last year. It still barely fits.

She was scared of the first marching band (it was noisy), but she quickly got used to what was happening and had fun.

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Seize the Day!

Gianna Posing Outside

Having a kid constantly reminds you that time is slipping away. Nothing stays the same. You don’t, your family doesn’t, your friends don’t, your pets don’t. The world doesn’t.

Seize the moment and enjoy where you’re at, who you’re with.

Right now, Gianna is changing every day. She’s talking quite a bit, and I find myself being a little sad to see it (simultaneously, I’m happy, of course). But it’s easy to get a little melancholy about seeing her lose cute behavior and become more like the rest of us. She just started saying an emphatic, “Uh huh!” instead of just nodding or making this weird, cute little “yes” sound that she’s been making for a long time. It’s imposible to describe adequately, but it’s sort of a nasal click that she vocalizes. I’ve never heard anyone else make a sound like this–it’s just hers.

Or it was.

It’s gone now in favor of regular language.

So seize the day. Enjoy what you have while you have it.

Be Silly!

Goofball!

Silliness is probably a good quality to have.

If you embrace the silly, you’re taking a step toward not caring what other people think.

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In general, I’m not a very silly person (except for when my brother and I are working–we’re both pretty silly with each other). As you can see, I’m dressing Gianna up to be a goofball a la Punky Brewster circa 1985. I think her hair lends itself to goofiness, though, so maybe that’s where it started.

I dressed her in these outfits:

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I particularly love what ended up being a wrestler sort of outfit:

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I took this last shot this morning while I went outside to see what the dogs and Gianna would do. As expected, they lined up to see what I was doing outside. Clyde had been sleeping, and since he always gnaws holes his blankets, he created a nice outfit for himself. We didn’t put it over his head–he did it himself!

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He is a true clown.

So today, try to be silly at least once. Of course choose an appropriate time for it. Being silly to your boss might not be the best idea. When you’re doing this silly thing, remember that it doesn’t matter what other people think of you.

Just be happy.

Dogs and Kids: Peas and Carrots

Since Gianna is going to be an only child, I’m glad she’s growing up as a member of a dog pack. She’s around some kids, and she really likes them, but I think it’s good that she has a couple beasts to hang around and play with.

She’s pretty interested in Clyde most of the time.

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And Gretel and Gianna always play tug of war with her toys, socks, books, you name it. They both initiate it.

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Sometimes Gianna gets this funny Frankenstein-like determination as she pursues Gretel. I love it.

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Gianna has been a good addition to the pack, especially for Gretel, since they play together so much.

Peas and Carrots.

Sometimes You Just Need to Be Upside Down

Gianna Crawling down the stairs

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Gianna does this all the time. She loves being upside down, whether I’m holding her up in the air or she’s doing it herself. I love when she bends over like this and watches us through her legs.

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I love how little kids don’t consider what other people think before they do silly stuff. They’re free to do whatever they want until they start learning to be afraid of what other people think. They learn to fear criticism and to worry about how other people see them.

They become adults.

It’s worth trying to remember that it really doesn’t matter if other people think you’re silly, goofy, or funny. In fact, if they do think that about you, you’ve probably won.

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The End of an Era: Reflecting on Life, Death, and Creating Things

Gianna in her Pants Hat

The only real benefit of losing someone you love (our Minitaure Pinscher Sally just died) is that it forces you to reflect on your own life.

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Sally was the last of our first generation of pets: Dulce the Chihuahua, Sally the Miniature Pinscher, Ivan the super Doberman, King the Akita/German Shepherd, PJ the Poodle, and Monster, Chewie, and Jihad the cats are all dead now. It seems like it’s the end of an era in our lives, I guess, now that they’re all dead and gone.

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I was devastated when Ivan died 4 years ago (read what I had to say back then in my post, My Ivan is Dead and Gone if you really want to see me feeling terrible. I still can’t read it without crying). But after he died, we still had Dulce and Sally and life carried on. Later that year, we picked up that biggest of doofuses, Clyde. Then Dulce and Jihad died and we found Gretel of the Crazy Hair.

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Even though Clyde is already 3 and a half, he’s still an idiot freshman in my mind, and Gretel is like a 6th grader. There isn’t any Sally left to stumble up and snarl them into submission. They’re the old guard now. They’re moving on. They’re not dwelling on the past or old friends. They just are.

Now that Sally, bravest of my beasts, that tiny courageous hero, gobbler of all food, lover of the good life, is dead, I’m moving on too. I have to.

Death is like a slap in the face that reminds you nothing stays the same forever. We’re all getting older all the time, obviously, but it’s easy to lose sight of that on a daily basis and just run on cruise control.

We’re all born, live our lives, then we die. It’s going to end some day, so you damn well better get out there and do meaningful things. Make the world a better place. Create something. Improve other people’s lives.

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I need to get back into the swing of writing my own stuff. I have been spending a huge amount of time on MisCon lately, especially the last few weeks. I’m trying to get George R. R. Martin’s airline tickets lined up, which is proving to be troublesome, and I’m trying to get the schedule out of the way. It’s all a pretty big undertaking, and it takes time.

One of the reasons I spend so damn much time working on MisCon is that it’s a way for me to do something nice for other people. I like helping make the convention as good as it can be, and I enjoy making people happy. It’s also a creative outlet (not that I need any more of those, but still).

All the work I put into MisCon is worth it to me, but I wish I could get down how to have it affect my fiction writing less than it does. I need to get better with my time these days, I guess. Part of my deal is that I’ve been staying home with Gianna this winter, and I’ve been trying to maximize my time with her. It’s sort of tough to figure out how to manage time with a little kid running around.

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Today, in the spirit of this post, Gianna and I played outside for a few minutes in the wintry sunshine. She was very excited to get outside on her own 2 feet, and it worked well until she insisted on  heading into the snow everywhere she could. She can’t make it over much snow, so she kept falling down and getting cold hands.

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So try to remind yourself that life isn’t forever. To make a difference in the world, you need to work at it. So get out there and do something creative, positive, generous, whatever. Make somebody happy.

And give your pets, parents, kids, grandparents a special love for me. We won’t be around forever and you’ll sure as hell wish you had more time. I know I do.

On Life and Death

Sally in the Playroom

Today I set the appointment to have Sally, our Miniature Pinscher, “put to sleep” at noon tomorrow.

I hate the phrase “put to sleep,” but it seems sort of harsh to say “kill.” I guess if I said that, it would seem like I was trying to shock people. I don’t mince words–in my world, people don’t “pass away.” They die.

I don’t like sugar-coating things.

Tomorrow we are going to kill Sally. We are. But it does soften things for most people to say that we’re going to “put her to sleep.”

I’m going to hold Sally tomorrow while the vet injects her with that lethal pink stuff. I am going to force myself to watch the life leave her body. I know how it works–I’ve had to do this twice before, with Ivan and Dulce, and just like those times, I’ll be right there with her. I’m not very enthused at the idea, but it’s my duty, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This morning as I watched Sally stumble across the living room floor, my thoughts turned to death, growing old, getting sick, losing your body and your mind.

I was writing about death, about Sally, when I heard Gianna squealing in her bedroom. She had finally awakened from a nap and was just sitting in her crib playing.

Here I was pondering death and getting old, when just hearing her brought me back into balance. I had been slipping into morbidity, into feeling sorry for Sally (and myself), into losing sight of the way of the universe: things are born and things die.

I need to be sad at losing Sally, but death is normal. It’s what happens.

Kids are the very embodiment of life. They’re vibrant, curious, excited, silly, and full of energy. As we get older, things definitely deteriorate.

Tomorrow, I’ll explore life and death in further detail.

They Grow Up Too Fast! Part 2

Gianna Crawling Toward Gretel

So yesterday I was taking about how kids grow up too fast (They Grow Up Too Fast!). Not long after I posted that, Gianna started saying Mama and Dada on command. For months, she has been able to say Mama and Dada, but rarely would she actually say them (and almost never when we’d ask her to).

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This morning she keeps doing it on command. And she managed to flip her bedroom light switch up and down a bunch of times. She couldn’t do that yesterday either.

It happens way too fast.

So what do I take away from this? Get to it. Live your life. Do what you can while you can. Tell your people that you love them. Make the world a better place. Write that story, paint that picture, do something you loveGianna in the Backyard.