One change from previous visits is that since our last time there the new dog had morphed into a no-longer-new dog plus mostly grown puppy. Both are really big dogs, as was the third dog she was watching for a few days while his owners were away, plus the neighbor's dog who just liked to come over and hang out with the others. Add the little dog with an attitude, and you had an interesting pack dynamic. I spend lots of time with cats, so it was interesting to watch dogs sometimes obeying and sometimes pushing the rules.
While we were there, Bijee arranged a Tolkien Day (for Sunday night, November 11th), where some friends, some neighbors, and some people from her book group all came over. Bijee and I both did brief presentations on THE HOBBIT. She did an interesting talk about some of Tolkien's sources and how he used them. For my own part, I considered talking about ideas Tolkien had for THE HOBBIT that he wound up not using, or perhaps a brief run-down of how Tolkien came to write the book. Then Janice reminded me that Peter Jackson is not the first to attempt to recast THE HOBBIT into the style of THE LORD OF THE RINGS: that wd be Tolkien himself. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Gollum chapter; the Gollum story as we know it now being very different from what Tolkien first wrote, and published. Thereupon I read out two pages from Tolkien's first draft,** starting with Gollum's failure to answer Bilbo's last question to their parting after Gollum shows Bilbo the way out. It went pretty well; wanted something that didn't require specialist knowledge but did assume you were more or less familiar with the story.
It was a fun evening, and all in all a great visit. I'm already looking forward to next time, and hoping we can soon repay the favor.
Three things that conversation with Bijee convinced me I shd probably add to MR. BAGGINS sometime when I get the chance:
--a little more on THE MARVELLOUS LAND OF THE SNERGS, which I passed lightly over since it had already gotten a good treatment in Doug's ANNOTATED HOBBIT;
--a bit about Morris's ICELANDIC JOURNALS, which seem to have provided some 'local color' for the early stages of Bilbo and company's travels, particularly with the ponies; and
--John Buchan, whose undoubtedly contributed some to the 'Inn at Bree' scenes in LotR but whose retired grocer Dickson McCunn also may have contributed something to Bilbo as reluctant adventurer, a stay-at-home suddenly out on the open road and finding that he thrives on adventure.
current reading: THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF MR. ANDREW HAWTHORN AND OTHER STORIES by John Buchan (short story collection)
*better known in Tolkien circles as Marjorie Burns, author of the excellent PERILOUS REALMS, as well as many essays and articles.