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About oromendur

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  1. Thanks! To be fair, I don’t think I’d ever want to be out in the Arizona heat myself I’ve had many different trail riding experiences over the years, some good, some not-so-good, and some exactly as you described. I’m hoping I’ll get lucky again this time. I went on a five-day guided horse pack trip to Yellowstone last summer that was absolutely awesome. We basically had the best of both worlds: the solitude and nature of roadless wilderness, combined with the pleasant amenities of car camping (goodness gracious those mules can carry a lot!). That trip, combined with the fact that some of my dearest friends back in CA have turned into horse people when I wasn’t looking, has kind of reignited my desire to ride more often. Some of my best childhood memories involve wandering around aimlessly on a pony owned by the landlord’s daughter — even if the only riding instruction I ever received boiled down to something like ‘try not to fall off’ Happy belated birthday! Every once in a while it occurs to me that I’m in my ‘late forties’ but most of the time I have enough other things to be worried about — and that was before this nightmare year hit But I guess that getting older is better than the alternative, as my Dad would say (he’s 75, and my stepmother can’t keep him off the roof if he thinks the gutters need cleaning). Thanks everybody for stopping by!
  2. It’s Monday and therefore the official Day 1 of my challenge, but I did well enough in Week Zero that I thought it might deserve a proper [WEEK ZERO UPDATE] Training: 7/7 WOOHOO GUYS GUYS THIS HASN’T HAPPENED IN MONTHS AND MONTHS I’M SO EXCITED <ahem> I did have to do a few dull sessions on the rickety stepper machine in the garage to make it happen this week, but hopefully those days are past now. I really want to build on this success. New long-term goal: to nudge my yearly average back up over 100 before the end of this miserable year. Despite my many MANY months of failure I have a chance — but only if I manage to keep hold of the motivation that a few weeks of strenuous walking in England should impart to me. Fingers crossed. Walks: 1/1, a local 4.25 mile loop that took us up and around Helmeth Hill. It was undeniably cold and rainy and miserable but I DIDN’T CARE because I was finally allowed out and a minor wetting was totally worth it! Spoiler for IG pics (assuming they ever decide to embed, sorry, not sure why it’s not working): On Saturday we did another walk while my friends’ daughter was having her riding lesson, in a beautiful but small village a good half-hour away on the VERY scary windy hedge-lined goat tracks they call roads around here (well, ‘country lanes’ I suppose, but my American sensibilities can’t help insisting that something meant to support vehicle traffic really should have a bit more width to it). That walk doesn’t count for extra credit because we didn’t quite crack the three-mile mark. It was a much nicer day though. Weight: 2/3, not bad, but — considering it literally takes five minutes — I’m disappointed that I didn’t find a way to make it happen over the weekend. I’ll play with patterns this week to figure out how to make this as much of a slam-dunk as the first one. Book: not applicable this week as NaNo doesn’t start until the end of Week One. Still noodling around a bit. I think I might have a setting idea (worlds count as characters in the character/plot dichotomy in my weird brain discussed in the Bellmyst thread) but I’m not sure it’s big enough to sustain a full long-form novel. We’ll have to see. I still have six days to noodle around before I have to actually dive in. I’m not doing grades this time. (If I were, Week Zero would have earned a very respectable B+ at 89%. But I’m not ) I also made some headway on my horsey adventure plans with the first real riding lesson of my life (on Sunday after that short walk). I have more to learn than I’d hoped about the very formalistic English riding style, but less than I’d feared, and the walk and the beautiful day and the spirited Irish thoroughbred assigned as my schoolmistress all reinforced my impression that rural Shropshire is FABULOUS riding country. I would very much like to go out on a nice long day trip, one of these years. I’m losing the battle to get the whole family out together, I think, which is kind of a shame. But I may be able to work something out with the riding instructor where she and my friends’ daughter and I could go out for a few hours, and that might have to be good enough. In the meantime I’m going to scrape together my extra pence and maybe take a few more lessons. Now the challenge really begins! Happy Day One everybody!
  3. Color me jealous. Every time I try and impose any structure before writing, my story comes out dull and plodding and predictable, but without any I can easily end up wasting weeks of time and precious concentration interrogating the characters and/or the world until they get around to letting me know what’s going to happen I fully concur with this — mine are usually messy enough that they absolutely refuse to be shoved into any plot I try to impose on them... Thanks for the kind words! I’ve learned over the years that people sometimes can misinterpret a stated choice as a disparagement of (or even an attack on) their own different choice, particularly when the choice is stated by a person who has a tendency to come across as a bit too intense. (Which is me. Or so I’m told. I never think I am, but then I’ll say something and people explode or run away and I realize I’ve gone and done it again.) So anyway, I try to always add those kinds of caveats when explaining my choices
  4. (sigh) If only... I’m afraid what I have is a character. Characters are easy, ‘ten a penny really’ as they say — with only the slightest of prompting they have a tendency to waltz into my life to introduce themselves, all day every day, even when I’d rather just [BLEEP]ing go to sleep On the other hand, plot, particularly plot that develops in a way that matches the minimum of story structure expectations one really MUST follow to avoid annoying one’s readers, is a LOT more difficult for me. It requires, you know, planning and stuff I’m also afraid that using this character would break my personal NaNo rule against playing in somebody else’s sandbox. I’ve only broken that rule once before, and I had a very good reason (I was buried deep in the pit of despair that was my dissertation, and since I had no hope of getting my mind out of Middle-earth I wrote a novel set in the Second Age that filled in some of the gaps Tolkien left in his story; I worked hard to avoid contradicting anything in his canon and mostly succeeded, I think). I have literally nothing else to do this November, so I have literally no excuse not to follow the classic NaNo rules I’ve been living by lo these many years: 50k in a completely new world that is all my own (no rewrites, no finishing, no sequels, no fanfic).* But the good news is that characters really are ten a penny in my world and I’m absolutely confident one will catch my fancy here soon *I hope it’s obvious that everyone gets to set their own rules and I am in no way passing judgement on anyone else’s NaNo choices. Finish last year’s novel? Awesome. Write a sequel to the one from three years ago? Drive on. Ten short stories? Go for it! (Wouldn’t THAT be hard?! ) Fan fiction? Non-fiction? Stream-of-consciousness journaling winding its way around something that might turn into a memoir someday? All perfectly wonderful ways to cross that 50k finish line — just not how I personally choose to play the game.
  5. Um, me? Maybe? No promises — I don’t have a lot of quiet time in front of a screen these days, and what I have will probably soon be swallowed up by my NaNo efforts — but I have to admit this does sound like fun Character. Yes. I’ll need a character. Hm. How about a dual-class? A Destitute with a clever mouth and a chip on her shoulder is fleeing her abusive family when she encounters the body of a Plague Doctor killed by highwaymen. She steals the protective gear and medicaments she discovers in the wagon. Although she had been thinking only to don the disguise long enough to make her way to a larger city somewhere, she’s tall and mannish and brash, and is more successful than she expected at fooling some traveling tinkers she meets on the road. They’ve heard about the plague, and offer her money to accompany and protect them. She goes along with the ruse. Through cleverness and luck she’s able to keep up the charade long enough to make it to Bellmyst, where the tinkers sell their wares and move on, convinced that the fast-talking young doctor they’d encountered was a miracle worker whose treatments were what kept them plague-free. Now, with money in her pocket and a whole bag full of things she doesn’t quite understand, she’s trying to figure out what on earth she’s supposed to do next. Name? No idea. I suck at names. Someone give this girl a name, please...
  6. Sylvaa is giving away all my secrets I am now imagining Gandalf accusing his cheeky chatty starter of being a ‘fool of a Took,’ wondering if Pippin was actually his familiar, and laughing my little geeky butt off
  7. Oh, yes, I forgot — I meant to mention in my challenge write-up that my birthday happens during this challenge (in Week One actually). Add me to the list of October babies in the guild! I’m going to be 48. It’s a perfectly serviceable number, without any milestone unpleasantness to deal with. (This is a good thing, I think, as this year has been more than bad enough already.) (Okay, fine, it does make me feel a little like I’m careening down an icy slope to 50, but whatever.) I don’t plan to make a big deal out of it or anything, but I do have an ulterior motive in my recent nagging of my friends to put together a family outing with some of their horse friends during the upcoming half-term holiday. Their daughter is enjoying her regular riding lessons, but apparently the idea of going out as a family has never crossed their minds. The protests I received went something like “even if we could find someone to trust us with their horses, I’m certainly not confident I could hack out on my own.” (This made me blink in confusion a bit, because even though I’m hardly a skilled rider, if someone offered me an already-saddled horse I’d be perfectly fine heading out with friends as long as we were riding in a place I knew well enough not to get lost.) When I suggested it was possible to pay people for guided trail rides, I got a lot of blinks and confused looks in return. I’m guessing maybe that is less of a thing in England? I don’t know. But I planted the idea anyway. Hopefully it will eventually blossom into an outing that I intend to serve as my own private birthday celebration — and I’m even planning to gift myself with a lesson beforehand to make sure I’m not severely overestimating my ability to adjust to English tack
  8. And maybe even Into the Woods, if the gods are kind WOOHOO indeed. It’s quite a nice hunk of iron actually. I was waffling over the (MUCH) cheaper 12kg one, but after swinging it yesterday I think this one is about right — I needed three sets to get to 50 swings I also think my very fit British paratrooper host would find 12kg pretty pointless, should he ever want to try it out (since I’m clearly going to have to leave it here for safekeeping). Thanks! It’ll be madness, but I’m hoping a little insanity might actually remind me of what’s important in this insane world (shrug)
  9. After much wizardly adventure last challenge, I am pleased to report that I managed to survive the journey that happened at the end of it, and I will now be spending the bulk of this challenge in the green and pleasant land of my friends’ place in the Shropshire hills. Although I think I will still make some efforts to maintain at least part of the various routines and habits I’ve been working on at home, I’ve decided I don’t want to commit to reporting on them here. The stress of the poor grades was starting to get to me, and I think I want to keep it simple this time. So — as I leave the lofty heights of the Wise and return to the simple life of a hobbit — this challenge is going to be all about Walking in the Shire. A Bit Into Training ‘I shall get myself a bit into training, too,’ he [Frodo] said, looking at himself in a dusty mirror in the half-empty hall. He had not done any strenuous walking for a long time, and the reflection looked rather flabby, he thought. (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings 50th Anniversary Edition, p. 68) Although it is a perennial goal in these challenges for me to keep my daily PAI score (a measurement based on heart rate tracked by a wrist-based HRM) over 100, during the last challenge I only managed to do it on one single day. (It was on the very last day of the challenge, and I had to sneak out for a quarantine-fudging walk in the hills to make it happen, and it only just squeaked in because I am a die-hard member of the ‘challenges start on Mondays dammit’ crowd.) I’d like to do better this time around. Task: Keep PAI score over 100 every day Favo(u)rite Walks He [Bilbo] loved maps, and in the hall there was a large one of the Country Round (where he lived), with all his favourite walks marked on it in red ink. (J.R.R. Tolkien and Douglas Anderson, The Annotated Hobbit Revised and Expanded Edition, p. 24) During this interlude in the Shire, I would very much like to revisit some of my favorite [sic ] walks. This will DEFINITELY include a wonderful ramble up and over and down to enjoy a pint and a pie at my very favoritest hobbity pub in the next town down the valley (the Green Dragon in Little Stretton — no, really!), but there are a number of other old friends I’d like to visit, from the waterfall at the top of the Carding Mill Valley to the sheel-na-gig on Church Stretton’s namesake old building (not to mention the lovely Rectory Wood behind it, which boasts any number of grand old trees whose acquaintance I’ve missed). Here in Week Zero, still in self-isolation and beginning to chafe at the restrictions, I’m dancing around impatiently for the time I’ll be permitted to get out on the hills again! Task: Do at least one long (3+ mile) adventure walk once a week, IG pics or it didn’t happen, extra credit for more A Great Weight ‘Here, my lad, I’ll take that! I did not ask you to handle it,’ he [Gandalf] cried, turning sharply and seeing Pippin coming up the steps, slowly, as if he were bearing a great weight. (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings 50th Anniversary Edition, p. 584) In an excess of motivation (whether prompted by jet-lag madness, the mental sense of imprisonment that accompanies self-isolation, or the blast of clarity that can result from a radical change in living environment I really can’t say), one of the first things I did on my arrival was order a 16kg kettlebell to be delivered to my quarantine prison. It arrived yesterday. In a desperate effort to actually get something out of that £48 I really couldn’t spare, I will make myself accountable here for doing something with it regularly during this trip. I don’t know if thinking of myself as a hobbit handling a Palantir is going to help or hurt me, to be honest, but I think it might be worth a try Task: Do Tim Ferris’s Minimum Effective Dose workout (as described in The Four-Hour Body: 20 hip bridges, 15 bird dogs, 50 kettlebell swings) three times per week The Red Book Bree memories being retentive, Frodo was asked many times if he had written his book. ‘Not yet,’ he answered. ‘I am going home now to put my notes in order.’ (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings 50th Anniversary Edition, p. 995) This challenge will cover nearly the entire span of this year’s NaNoWriMo effort, which will begin on the last day of Week 1 (and only have one day left left at the end of Week Five). I honestly have no idea what I’m going to be writing about, and I’m kind of unsure I’ll have the personal energy to come up with something of any interest in the next two weeks, but I’ve ‘won’ this ridiculous contest every year for the past twelve and it seems a shame to break such a streak. So, as I’ve done more than once before, I’ll sit down on that Sunday morning and start typing. Something will manifest. It always does. Task: Write at least 50,000 words on a new long-form fiction project before December 1 So, there. Those are the goals for this particular hobbit walking party. There are a number of additional things I’d like to accomplish in the next few weeks, from re-starting my Duolingo habit to figuring out a way to do short-form journaling within the very different patterns of this place of home, but although I’ll probably mention them occasionally in my updates (and DAGNABIT THERE WILL BE UPDATES) I won’t formalize anything here. After feeling kind of like a failure for the past few challenges, I’m going out of my way to give myself a better chance of success this time Here’s wishing the best of luck to everyone else on their challenges. Let’s get walking! ‘It’s going to be a fine night,’ he [Frodo] said aloud. ‘That’s good for a beginning. I feel like walking. I can’t bear any more hanging about.’ (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings 50th Anniversary Edition, p. 69)