Tag Archives: the lord of the rings

Return to Quasi-Normalcy


Something about the Christmas season makes it feel as though time has been magically suspended to accommodate for all the general craziness that accompanies the holiday season. Once school lets out, or we clock off from that last pre-festivity shift at work, we enter the Christmas time-bubble and forget about the outside world until the bubble bursts.

The Christmas tree comes down. The lights are unstrung. The resin Santa statues and porcelain angels are packed away in boxes and stuffed back into the attic or the basement or the shelves in the garage. Someone gulps down the last of the eggnog. All of the festive reds and greens have been replaced by everyday browns and greys and beiges and taupes. All that remains of Christmas are a few stray pine needles on the floor and a tray of dry Christmas cookies.

On the bright side, our houses are a lot less cluttered now. On the not-so-bright side, Christmas is over until next November, which seems like such a drearily long ways away.

At least we can rest assured that Christmas will always come back. Unless of course it is outlawed, in which case you’re looking at one young woman who will be quickly packing her bags and heading for Croatia on a not-so-temporary trip.

Of course, now we must all face the year armed with little but our lists of resolutions. I have made a few, but I will not list them here. You can take that in one of two ways. One, you can accept by faith that I have made a few resolutions and am simply too private a person to publish them online. Or two, you can assume that I have in fact made no resolutions, and therefore cannot publish them online at all, them being nonexistent and everything. Believe what you wish. I will accomplish things this year, regardless of whether or not they were on any sort of list. It’s what needs to be done in the next week that it my paramount concern.

In the meantime, as we all hang up our newly acquired 2013 calendars in our kitchens and bedrooms, I’m sure that will be more than one person who will flip through the pages and wonder, as these hobbits do:



Holding Out for a Hero


Any fangirl will tell you that they are more likely to have a crush on a fictional character than on an actual human being. This is probably because fictional characters are safe, predictable, and always ideal—unlike most of the options offered us in cold cruel Reality. In fact, if you ask just about any girl to describe her ideal man, she will inevitably give you a list of her favorite book or movie characters who, combined, would equal their perfect prince charming.

In honor of Hobbit Day (or the anniversary of Bilbo Baggins’ birthday) I would like to mention an overlooked hero in film and literature who, like the best of heroes, is often unsung.

Samwise Gamgee.

A lot of people labor under the delusion that the hero of The Lord of the Rings is Frodo, Aragorn, or, according to polls of the royally misinformed, Orlando Bloom. I have nothing against any of those characters and/or actual people; they all had their part to play in the events of the story. There would be no story without the ringbearer or the returning King of Gondor. But, in the words of the ringbearer himself, “Frodo wouldn’t have got anywhere without Sam.”

In my mind, Sam has always been the hero simply because he is so unassuming. His ambition is not to save the world, but to keep an excellent garden. He does not set out to do great things, but instead rises to the occasion when he is called upon. He is the most loyal of friends from any genre or any period of literature. He conquers his own fears for the sake of his friends, he doesn’t put himself in the spotlight nor does he ask for one, and is not afraid to stick up for what he believes in. He is a poet, is fond of good food and good music, has a childish sense of wonder about the magical world he lives in, and is content with very little, asking for nothing more in life  than a warm home and good tilled earth.

In short, Rosie Cotton is one lucky lady.

And in the end, it was his determination and stick-to-it-iveness that got that ring chucked into Mount Doom.

A hero is not the man who aspires to be one, but the man who becomes one in spite of himself. A hero puts himself last, asks for no praise but deserves it simply because his character is so sound and his convictions so sure. He doesn’t have to be handsome. He doesn’t have to be athletic or funny or even charming. A hero is someone who knows and lives out the definition of love.

So keep your Edwards and Jacobs. Keep your Wesleys and Weasleys. You can have your Raouls and Erics and Bruce Waynes and Peter Parkers and Captain Americas. You can even keep your Will Turners and Gilbert Blythes and Fitzwilliam Darcys and James Bonds and Sir Lancelots and all of your thousands of cardboard-cutout Prince Charmings. I’ll take a Samwise Gamgee. I’ll take a Samwise any day.

Here and There Again: a Fangirl’s Tale


Is anyone else as excited as I am about the upcoming release of The Hobbit? If you are, do a little cheer right there at your desk. I know I do. I and every other fan of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings has been holding their breath for the past four years in anticipation of the prequel. Let me tell you, that’s a long time to hold your breath.

When it comes to all things Tolkien, I tend to let my geek flag fly. The Lord of the Rings was my Harry Potter growing up. I own the extended editions of all three movies, have read the books multiple times, and own several action figures (all hobbits). My girlhood crush was Samwise Gamgee, and if my mythical future boyfriend knows me well enough, he’ll know an Evenstar pendant will be in order at some point.

The odd thing is that I almost like the production videos for the movies better than the movie itself. My mother and I are bonus feature junkies—we watch the bonus features for the extended cut all the way through every year. We know the names of the production staff by heart and love to watch them talk about what they did to make The Lord of the Rings awesome. Some people quote the movies—we quote the bonus features.

Naturally, my mother and I hover in rapt attention before her computer screen when a new production update video is posted to The Hobbit blog. We literally cheered when we saw Richard Taylor, the head of Weta Workshop. We also cheered for Dan Hanna, the guy who supervises the art department, as well as the brilliant artists John Howe and Allen Lee, who not only do concept art for the films but illustrated editions of the books as well. They’re familiar faces to us, and we eagerly await being able to get ahold of some kind of special edition of The Hobbit, just so we can hear them talk in those beautiful New Zealand accents.

 Mother and I finished our annual trek through the LOTR films, and tomorrow we start the bonus features—all gazillion and one hours of them. We’re crazy fangirls. And I know that we’re not the only ones out there. Forums, vlogs, blogs, and facebook pages across the globe are buzzing for the release of The Hobbit come December. People are donning cloaks, reaching for the walking staves and preparing to return to Middle Earth for another foray into the epic adventures that await them.

And Mother and I will be on the front row, doing what we do best.

Nerding out.

Of Blenders, Books, and Boromir


Recovery is a fascinating state of limbo. You can’t really do anything—any overexertion could lead to stitches opening back up again, and who wants that? So you have to get creative with just how you spend your time.

Going back to the liquid lunches idea, it’s almost kind of fun to figure out what will and what will not work in a blender. Ice cream and peanut butter, yes. Protein powder, almond milk, and peanut butter, yes. Spinach and baked beans, not so much. I may or may not have actually tried that. Although the thought of yogurt and fresh fruit is tempting, I doubt our 20-plus-year-old blender would be up to the task.

Reading is the easiest time filler. One of my goals for the summer was to plow through the Harry Potter series. I finished book six this morning (alas, poor Dumbledore) and, thanks to my mother who ran to the library for me, plunged into Book 7 without so much as batting an eyelash. I’ll find out what happens if it kills me.

And then, of course, there is the yearly marathon through the six hour long work of art known as The Lord of the Rings. Mother and I started The Fellowship yesterday, biting our nails to the very end, as we always do. Every year we hope that maybe, just maybe, Boromir will make it this time. We’re always sadly disappointed.

Maybe next year.

All the while, I can’t wait to be up and running again. As fun as being glued to the couch is, it will be good to be productive again.

One Does Not Simply Walk Into My Room


Part of living in the dorms at UU involves moving almost the entire content of you room at home to your dorm room—which, incidentally, you share with three other people. And even if you begin the year with minimal amounts of stuff, more stuff accumulates, and what stuff you have spreads out into disorganized heaps so that by the time the semester’s over, you have no clue what you have and packing and unpacking it becomes a royal nightmare.

Needless to say, my room currently looks like WW3 hit.

Part of the reason it look so awful is that I’ve been trying to clean it. Before, everything was arranged into suitcases and boxes on one side of the room. Now, junk’s everywhere. I feel like I stepped into an episode of “Hoarders.”

I hate my room right now. It used to be the place I went to chill out, but now…I just close the door and back away slowly.

The way I clean doesn’t seem productive in the initial stages. My rule is that for there to be order, there must first be chaos. The room will explode during a purge—stuff’s everywhere, thrown in piles, heaps of donations, heaps of trash, heaps of stuff that doesn’t even belong in my room, trash bags, my boombox blaring something peppy. There is a method to my madness—if I can see clearly what needs to go where, I get things sorted more easily. So everything needs to be out in the open, thrown around, discarded or kept. I try not to leave myself time to linger over something worthless that the pack rat within me wants to keep.

It drives me and everyone else in the house absolutely crazy. But it works. Once the process is over, I look like I have a brand new room.

To my credit, I’ve always had one of the tidier rooms among my circle of friends. I remember being smaller and going over to a friend’s house. It seemed that no matter which friend it was, their bedroom floor would be so littered with toys and junk that I couldn’t walk anywhere. One of my friends even purposefully left straight pins on the floor in her room—in her mind, that was the rightful and obvious place to keep pointy needles, right where her (or her unsuspecting guests’) feet could find them easily.

I can learn from a negative example. As a result, my floors have always been kept empty of stuff.

It’s the closets that are a little mysterious.

My goal is to get the room clean by the end of the week. At least mostly clean. Trust me, under normal circumstances, my room is beautiful But right now…

I’d rather simply walk into Mordor.



That’s all folks. We’re done. We set out for Mordor, ring in hand, and, by gum, we chucked that ring into Mount Doom and now—here we are. Staggering away from the blazing inferno, clinging to each other, panting like racehorses, tears in our eyes and smiles on our faces. It’s done.

Exams are over.


Ok, so maybe it wasn’t that dramatic. But hearts were light across campus today as we went skipping away from our final final exams. Two more days and all we have to do is sit through the coronation at Minas Tirith—I mean, the awards and graduation ceremonies.

And then pack our things and head back to the Shire—I mean, home. Yeah.

All that to say—this phase of the journey is over. Much has been said and done in the past year. I can hardly believe it’s almost over. The glory goes to God for the magnificent things He has accomplished in and through me and my class mates this year.  

And we lived happily ever after…to the end of our days.

Nerd on.

Which Way to Mordor, Gandalf? Right or Left?


I miss high school. How’s that for an opening sentence?

High school was an adventure. I began the experience as naïve as a little female Frodo Baggins who vowed to take the ring to Mordor. By the end of our senior year, my friends and I sat around a table in our favorite hangout and lifted our glasses in a silent little cheer, knowing we’d been there and back again. We’d done it. Ring gone, Sauron dead, diplomas acquired. Boom, baby.

We had our scars, but we felt like we’d accomplished something—something we’d never forget. It was a journey, an adventure, and escapade through adolescence that I’d pay good money to live through again. That’s Anytown Academy for you, folks.

I like being a college student. Really. I do.

But I would like it a little bit more if it didn’t feel like I was going to Mordor and back every. Stinkin’. Semester. Really, people, how hard does getting an education have to be?

My friends are scattered to the four winds, one in Wisconsin, and the others might as well be there too, considering how much I get to see them. I feel like a small, insignificant and rather lonely hobbit wandering in a wide, unfriendly world, armed with nothing but my laptop and my wits—unsure of exactly where I’m going or what I’ll do when I get there.

You see, in high school we all had one goal: get a diploma so you can go to college. It was assumed that we could wait to decide what we’d do with our lives once we got to college, so we could all just focus on being teenagers trying to find our feet and survive high school. All we had to worry about was getting good enough grades to graduate. Pretty straightforward, right?

Well, now we’re in college. And suddenly we have to figure out what we’re going to do with all of that future we’ve been handed. As the elves at the Council of Elrond told me, choose the right path through Cirith Ungol, and everything will be fine. Choose the wrong path in the maze, and you’re doomed to a life of misery.

No pressure.

Once upon a time, graduation only brought the question “what college will you go to?” After graduating from college, it’s where do you go? What will you do? Where will you do it? Who will you do it with? What job will you try for to make sure that you can do it?

People ask me all these questions and all I can do is throw up my hands in despair and tell them that all I want is to live someplace quiet where I can finish my Book. Preferably with a few cats.

All that to say: I’m going back to school tomorrow. I’m moving back into the dorms, I’m buying my textbooks, and I’m settling in to my fourth semester at Undisclosed University. And I’m looking back at my high school years and wondering which way did they go? And why can’t they come back? I’ll say it again: I miss high school, and I wish I could go back.

“So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

Thanks Gandalf. I needed a little sanity.



If something didn’t go wrong every once in a while, we’d scarcely notice when things go right.

If we were never brought to our knees by the reality of what we are, we’d never get the chance to stand up again and try to do better the second time, the third time, the fourth, the fiftieth.

If our computers never crashed, we’d never know how much easier life is when we have that tool available—or how addicted we are to the tool.

If we never had homework, we’d never be able to really appreciate the days when there are none.

If it never rained, we’d tire of the sunshine.

If we never were injured, we’d never understand the value of whole, healed skin.

If we never got colds, we couldn’t appreciate the days when we can breathe out of both nostrils.

If we were never hungry, food would get boring. Fast.

If we were never in a rush to get something done, we’d never understand the value of slowing down and stopping to smell the roses.

If our bank accounts never approached empty, we’d never understand what a blessing it is to have them full.

If we never knew exhaustion, we wouldn’t relish the long nights of sleep and delicious dreaming.

If our hearts were never broken, we’d never learn not to break the hearts of others.

If we never did something stupid, we’d never get a chance to learn from our mistakes.

If a symphony had no discord, we’d never be refreshed by the measures of harmony.

Not to say that mistakes, darkness, rain, discord, hunger, illness, poverty, or any of those things are not horrible, real problems that thousands, millions of people face every day. For once, I’m not here to make light of the seriousness of the world’s condition.

Evil, and its consequences, are real and awful and, well, wrong. But one day, all evil will disappear. Gone like a puff of smoke. And every wrong will be made right.

“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.” –Samwise Gamgee, Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings



In case you haven’t noticed, dearest readers, I, Miss Rambler, am exceptionally geeky. (Some have asked me, “Now, are you a geek or a nerd? There is a difference, you know.” To those people I will say that yes I know there’s a difference, but considering the huge socio-political controversy over what the correct distinctions are between the two, I will say that I am both and leave it at that. The last thing I want to do is open up a can of worms, here.)

We’ve already established that I tend to obsess over things. Usually I obsess over artistic endeavors: I cycle through a long list of pursuits, ranging from writing (duh) to painting flower pots. I suppose you could call me an art geek. But I am not, repeat not, a tech geek—for years I thought a “browser” was just someone who liked to read the books at Barnes and Noble and not buy anything. I thought “windows” were openings in the wall and a “Macintosh” was a raincoat. I just now graduated to Windows 7 after years of XP, just in time for Windows 8 to make its debut. I have never owned any kind of video game technology, not even a Game Boy In fact, I’m an utter technophobe. Computers make me nervous. I firmly believe that the world would be better off if we’d stuck to electric typewriters.

All fears of technology aside, I do still indulge in the same geeky obsessions as my computer-hugging friends. Namely Star Trek (Next Gen—I’m not quite die-hard enough to like the original series. Picard rocks, by the way.), The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Labyrinth, movies by Studio Ghibli, and a few assorted cult classics that I won’t delve into right now.

How obsessed am I? Let me put it this way—at my wedding (*cough* groom and pocketbook permitting *cough*), the bridal party will all be wearing pointed ears, the minister will wear a Gandalf costume, and a kid with a curly dark wig and bare feet will be the ring bearer. Yeah, I’m one of them. Scary, I know. But, hey, I can dream, can’t I?

Even if that never happens (which, in all honesty, it probably won’t), I’d at least love to have my man propose like this Awesome Wedding Proposal. And, yes, you do want to click that link.

Yet, despite what you all might think by now, my love of all things geeky has not made me a social leper. Being interested in geeky things helps me relate to all kinds of different people, not just the literary and/or hippie set. You’d be amazed at how many friendships I’ve made over debates on Picard vs. Kirk or conversations about whether or not Tom Bombadil should have been in the movies. Those who exclude themselves from these geeky interests under the pretense of how “uncool” they are have only proven that they’re too snobby to be culturally well-rounded. People like that just don’t know what they’re missing.

My comrades in geekdom, don’t be ashamed of what you are. Embrace your inner geek. Boldly go. May the Force be with you. Eleni sílar antalyannar.

And all that jazz.



No, I didn't take this picture. I'm not awesome enough to work for Peter Jackson.

Even wizards love 'em.

Everything I learned about puns, I learned from my dad. And, like most of the important things I learned from my dad, I learned them while sitting in the back seat of our car.

My family and I have always spent our road trips playing word games. One of my favorites was punning with my dad in the form of a long dialogue. For example:

Me, pointing out of the car window: “Look, a fallen tree.”

Dad: “Eh, it was aspen for it.”

Me: “Oh, Daddy, that’s a horrible oak.”

Dad: “You’re barking up the wrong tree, here.”

Me: “Dad, these puns aren’t as poplar as you think they are.”

Dad: “It wouldn’t hurt you to branch out every once in a while.”

Me: “Leaf me alone, would you?”

Dad: “Sweetie, puns need to be a maple in any writer’s literary diet.”

Me, dubious: “That’s a bit of a stretch, there, Dad.”

Dad: “I know.” [He grins at me in the rear view mirror]  “No need for it to become a root of bitterness, though, Sweetie!”

Me: [Bangs head against the head rest and sighs, then laughs hysterically.]

Family bonding at its finest, right there. You should hear all of the ones we can come up with for eggs.

Of course, why would I want to crack a yolk like that?

Groaning yet? Good.

Home Again, Home Again


Well, I’m back.

Back to sweltering heat. Back to my work schedule. Back to the diet. Back to running around in circles. Back to the harsh reality of a swiftly-approaching school year. Back to wearing a watch.

Yet also back to my comfy bed. Back to AC. Back to healthy, yummy salads. Back to my exciting reading list. Back to my awesome job. Back to my friends. Back to my cats. Back to reasonable bed times.

Back home.

In other news, today is MY PARENT’S ANNIVERSARY!!! (Explosions of confetti, band music, and loud cheering.)

All in all, we had a lovely trip, and, as always, we three had oodles of fun riding around a gawking at scenery that looks like this:

As you can see, I have good reason to be sad the trip is over. But I’m not despairing just yet…I leave for my biannual trip to Rivendell tomorrow. More on that later.

So, my dear readers, you’ll have to pardon me if I do not produce any risibility over the next few days. But my time with the friendly folk at Rivendell tends to inspire me, and I’m sure I’ll have something delicious for you to read come Saturday.


The Rambler on the Road: Chapter 1


Dear Readers,

As Bilbo Baggins once profoundly declared, “I’m not at home.” By the time you, my friends, are reading this, I will either be on my way or already present at my favorite place in the world: Banner Elk, North Carolina.

Banner Elk is the highest inhabited place on the whole Blue Ridge Parkway (for those of you who have never driven along that highway, you have not yet begun to live). It sits precariously at the top of a mountain, with scattered little shops and restaurants along the single winding road that stretches to the mountain’s crest. The climate stays at a comfortable 65° F due to the altitude—the beginning of August, and my family and I have to pack sweaters. And the scenery! Untold numbers of gorgeous wildflowers, tall, ancient trees, and nothing but rolling blue-green mountains for as far as the eye can see.

My family and I will be staying at the Pinnacle. No, really. I mean the literal Pinnacle, the name of the ski lodge that sits at the, um, pinnacle of the mountain. We get fabulous rates because we go in the off-season. That, and we more or less have the entire place to ourselves, perfect accommodations for a family of recluses. We go up there every year to celebrate my parents’ anniversary. This is their 26th.  (Ok, guys, go ahead and say it: AWWWWWW!)

So for four days we’ll be relishing all of the delights that North Carolina has to offer. Yes, we will shop at vintage shops owned by people with names like “Star” and “Raynebow.” We will eat five-layer chocolate cake and not feel guilty. We (OK, just “I”) will dive into the bargain bins at yarn shops. We will drive hither, thither, and yon all over the Blue Ridge Parkway. We (again, read “I”) will take tons and tons and tons of pictures. We will love every second of it and we will be sad when we have to pack our bags and leave.

In the meanwhile, I’ll be posting daily pictures to make you all jealous to share what I’m seeing for your personal enrichment. I’m afraid that there may not be as much risibility on the blog as there usually is—but I’ll do my best.

All my love,

Miss R. Rambler

P.S.: In the unlikely event that you miss me horribly and are dying for a good hearty chuckle, visit The Laughing Housewife, who posts daily and always posts a joke.

Will the Real Mashed Potatoes Please Stand Up?


For every food item, there is an equal and opposite food item. Think about it. For every packet of sugar there’s a packet of Splenda. We live in an age of food substitutes. Not like I’m complaining—I’m tickled by all of the low-calorie, low-fat, low-carb options out there. While some of them don’t really make sense (think low-fat pork rinds), others are pure genius. As a girl who follows her taste buds, it’s a relief to know that I can still get the tastes I love and still stay *cough* narrower.

Now, sure, I love “real” food. I’m a die-hard, tree-hugging, keep-it-real, cut-me-a-slice-of-that-organic-chocolate-cake and pass-the-granola kind of girl. But I think it’s amazing that you can take a vegetable and make it taste like meat. As delicious as the real thing is, there’s something incredibly novel in the idea of taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary.

For your Saturday dose of risibility, I’ve compiled a list of unlikely foods that can taste like other ones. Substitutes are listed after their higher-carb/calorie/fat counterpart.

  • Milk: Soy and/or Rice.
  • Roast Beef: Wheat Gluten.
  • Wheat/Grains: Artichoke.
  • Sweet Potatoes: Butternut Squash.
  • Loaded Mashed Potatoes: Cauliflower.
  • Brownies: Black Beans. It’s tastier than it sounds.
  • Tortilla Chips: Beef. No, really. Guacamole tastes just as good, if not better, on steak than it does on tortilla chips.
  • Croutons, Cereal, Chips, Popcorn, Candy, Granola: Almonds. The Wonder Snack.
  • Fries/Potato Chips: Fried Zucchini or Yellow Squash.
  • Spaghetti: Spaghetti Squash. Yes, that’s a real vegetable. Don’t believe me?
  • Cheese Puffs: Coleslaw, Almonds, Feta Cheese. We’re going for taste here. Not texture. No whining.
  • Strawberry Yogurt: Strawberries blended in with low-carb ice cream. Or low-fat. Depending on your diet of choice.
  • Chai Latte: Green tea, Chamomile tea, and a dash of Ginger.
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Atkins Bars: Lembas.

Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to living on cottage cheese and celery. With a little ingenuity (and a really active imagination), you can still eat the foods you enjoyed before stepping on the scale after New Year’s. Who cares if the cheese puffs look like almond-studded coleslaw? It’s the taste that matters, right? Of course right.

Close your eyes and dig in. Life should be delish.