If Wishes Were Elves, Even Fangirls Would Dance

appendix (pancreas, cerebellum, whatever)

...in the tradition of J.R.R. Tolkien, we bring you the...


(cerebellum, pancreas, whatever)

"You look like an Elf in that shirt." Kid behind me in my art class in the early 70s. My flowy hippie thing looked like a refugee from Galadriel's yard sale.

"What? Like Herbie in Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer?"

Step through the Gate, my friends, into 1977.

Somewhere on the high desert of southeastern Oregon, a wild black mare is born. I'll meet her, and she will train me, in 1985.

At Inner Harbor in Baltimore MD, another "wild black mare" is launched. She is a reproduction of the wicked swift and agile privateers of the War of 1812. I will sail on her sister, the Pride of Baltimore II, on Halloween of 2007.

(me, being taught how to steer a pirate ship by Megan... who sailed as crew on the Lady Washington, the ship Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom stea... uh... commandeer, it's a nautical term... in Pirates 1. Tas looks like Megan, only blonder.)

Check out the movies: there's this new science fiction film, looking totally unlike the sleek, shiny films of the past, with princesses and heroes with glowing swords and wizards and wookies: Star Wars!

And I discover fanfiction and fandom and... a fellow fan dumps a vast pile of reading material into my hands. "You must read this," she intones. I stare at the immense stack of verbiage and pale. Lo!, in my copious free time, somewhere in the next millennium.

The epic tome is J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

Somewhat later, I borrowed a tent from a second cousin twice removed, so I could spend a week on a desert island called Assateague. He told me about this game they played: D&D. I showed up, rolled up a character, waved the paper at the DM and said, "What do I make of this?"

"Play an Elf."

"What?" You mean like Herbie, in Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer?

"It's Hermie. Read Lord of the Rings."

I did, sort of backwards, starting with the appendices and an attempt to understand this Elf thing. I saw a great set of illustrations (a pullout poster in a magazine) of various scenes from LOTR by Judy King-Rieniets.

"Who's the blond guy with the longbow?"

He might, of course, turn out to be a dumb character, I thought, despite the attractiveness of the illustration. He did not. He said things like "there is too little that grows here and is glad", ran over the snow to find the sun, knew how to paddle the swift forest river, and best of all...

"A smaller and lighter horse, but restive and fiery, was brought to Legolas. Arod was his name. But Legolas asked them to take off saddle and rein. 'I need them not,' he said, and leaped lightly up, and to their wonder Arod was tame and willing beneath him, moving here and there with but a spoken word: such was the elvish way with all good beasts. Gimli was lifted up behind his friend, and he clung to him, not much more at ease than Sam Gamgee in a boat."

Thusly inspired, I trained my patient Anglo-Arab gelding to work without "saddle and rein" (at least in an arena), well enough to do a demo for our medieval living history group.

Thusly inspired, I went off to have more adventures, like the ones I'd read about.

I learned to hit the broadside of a stack of haybales with an arrow, to wield broadswords (rattan and steel). I slept rolled in a wool cloak by a few fires. Sailed (uh, mostly rowed) a Viking longship (longshipco.org, come out and play with us), spent Halloween on one pirate ship and an earthquake on another (Pride of Baltimore II and Kalmar Nyckel).

I volunteered with wildlife rehabbers and wrangled biting otters and barfing vultures, got "handcuffed" to a perch by Iris the one-eyed great horned owl and demonstrated projectile pooping to third graders with Thermal the Wonder Hawk (a hefty redtail). I learned that baby Bambis are deadly (four feet armed with slicer-dicer kung-fu hooves) and wrestled a (very small) tiger.

(Thermal the Wonder Hawk)

My sea kayak has taken me many places, including the Haunted Lagoon (setting for a Dana Girls mystery on Chincoteague and Assateague Islands VA), and many not-nearly-dead-enough marshes. I have had salad plate sized, decidedly cartiliginous fins surface at the end of my paddle blade (is that a 16 foot shark?... no, just a cownosed ray).

I spent at least one Thanksgiving (and a couple of sundances) with the "Indians" (Dakota, Haliwa Saponi and others), and one Halloween working with a lovely young man with a great Dracula accent... because he was, in fact, from Transylvania (wryly; "All you Americans know of us is Dracula."). I've had the honor of working with a whole Middle Earth of interesting people, each with their own stories; the guy from Nepal who, walking home with his buddies as a kid, saw a tiger cross the road in front of them, the Hungarian lady who came here for love, and stayed because... America, the young men fleeing war in Africa, the people of a broad range of religions who showed me a new viewpoint.

The first "wild black mare" was a life-long dream; inspired by Fury, the Black Stallion, and Zorro's horse. Her name was Olori Eldalie, (Elven Magic/Dream). I think she may have been a pooka...

The other "wild black mare" is this:

I have decorated Yule trees and carved The Gourd of the Rings underwater (scuba divers get bored if they can't get to Bon Aire), and won one division in the underwater tricycle race. The quarry in this tale is based on ones I've dived in.

(see, I wasn't kidding)

I trained my own two-dog mushing team.. then a 3 1/4 dog team; the 1/4th was Max the Hobbit Husky, a 16 pound Schipperke.

I've walked into a South Carolina sea island swamp to look at the moon... and heard a massive roar all too close (you never see the gator, you just hear it... and the splash splash splash...).

I've dabbled in martial arts but am nowhere as good as Liz (now I do some tai chi, for, as Roy Rogers once said, I don't bounce anymore).

I perpetrated art and fanfiction and finally my own original stories and characters... who could just not stay out of this tale. Bran... BRAN, COME BACK HERE WITH THAT!

I commit art and writing but haven't quit my day job. Nixon County Park in York County PA, has allowed me to smear paint on their walls and paid me nicely for it.

My favorite is the wetland mural (based mostly on photos I shot from my kayak), eleven feet of chipmunk burrow, Raptor Red (a life sized Utahraptor standee), and "Soil, It's Not Just Dirt" (ask me about the dancing salamanders).

The petroglyph rock is real. It is called Big Indian Rock and lies about 1/4 mile south of the Safe Harbor Dam on the Susquehanna river. There really are glyphs that sort of look like Nightcrawler and friends (archetype, archetype). There are websites devoted to the rock and its petroglyphs. If you go, walk softly (bare or stocking feet), take nothing but pictures, leave nothing, not even footprints... except perhaps, sage for the spirits of the place.

I climb exactly the way Lorien does. I snowboarded once, I'll stick to the dogsled. I still can't tell a sparrow from a finch even with binoculars. Bambi is tasty.

Adventure, as they say in UP, is out there. Go find one. The Adventure that is Middle Earth inspired me to go have a few of my own. And to write a few of my own. May it inspire you to go forth and find yours.

You can bamf if you want to

you can leave your chair behind...

...then write your own tale.

Find me at www.swordwhale.com.

All photos and illustrations in this tale are mine... mine mine mine mine mine mine. I either painted them (watercolor, Prismacolor pencil and other traditional media), shot them (Nikon Coolpix L100 digital or good ol' Pentax K1000 film camera), or mangled them tradigitally on Photoshop. My Dwarf buddy Dave Tristan may have done one or two of those photos and it got mixed up with mine. Pumpkin is played by a friends' Halflinger (yes, Halfling horses, it's a real breed), Beowabbit by my mustang mare Olori Eldalie and one Breyer model (Black Beauty), Cherokee played by a wild Assateague pony in Maryland. Kodi played by Denali and Chasseur.

Language! I plucked the Elvish bits from www.elvish.org. The elvish at the beginning of Legolas's paragraphs are Sindarin counting from elvish.org. Though my grandparents and other ancestors spoke a German dialect, I am, like most Americans, linguistically impaired. Nightcrawler's German dialog is lifted from the original comics, and the web. I must thank reader, (and librarian!) Birgit Arensmann for timely help in fixing some problems! Sorry Nighty, still can't find the funny squiggle thingie on my keyboard...

I happen to prefer the British spelling of certain words like grey, armour and harbour. I find myself saying things like "bloody". I blame it on Doctor Who and Sherlock.

I live with Legolas and Nightcrawler.

(Nightcrawler and Sindarin)

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