50 States of Pray, End of ROW80 Round 4, Eagles vs Mount Doom, and Holiday Photos

Fifty States of Pray is here!

Mark Koopmans thought up this wonderful scheme to get at least one person from all fifty states, plus others from different countries, to each share a prayer, a thought, a memory, a hope, a regret about the past and/or a wish for the future.

My wish for the future is for health for everyone. Many of us have struggled this year and in previous years with all sorts of health related issues and either long term or short term debilitations and setbacks. It sounds like a cliche but I guess it's a cliche for a reason: your health is everything. If your body or that of a loved one is letting you down, then all other matters fall by the wayside. Often the struggle is made worse by the fact that nothing you do can change certain outcomes. So here's a toast to everyone who's working on research, in healthcare, and generally helping those who struggle with vital problems.

A happy and healthy new year to all!

Check out all the other participants!

Meanwhile, it's the end of another round of ROW80. I have not done half as much editing as I could have in the last couple of weeks. I did write a few thousand words, though, bringing my NaNo story, Larksong, that much closer to the end -- only the epilogue left to draft now. And my second installment for our collaborative Winter Solstice story is up!

Now I'm going to digress for a bit and talk about something... There's a question that keeps cropping up now and again, and was most recently asked by our Ninja Captain Alex: why didn't the Eagles fly Frodo to Mount Doom in Mordor?

First off, if you haven't seen it yet, there's an in-depth analysis of this question at Sean Crist's Could the Eagles Have Flown Frodo Into Mordor page. He breaks down some of the common objections to the plan that Gandalf, Elrond, and the others could have come up with at the Council of Elrond to simply ask the Eagles to carry the ring to Mount Doom, including discussing whether or not: the Nazgul could have intercepted the Eagles; orcs might have shot at the Eagles; and Sauron himself might have attacked them, as well as why or why not Sauron might have caused the Mountain to erupt just as they reached it. He concludes that the matter is indeed a hole in the plot, and an item that Tolkien could have, but neglected to, include in the Council of Elrond discussions.

I've been rereading the History of Middle-earth books, which are compilations of many other Tolkien stories, as well as drafts for The Lord of the Rings, and the matter of the Eagles was not discussed even in drafts for the Council of Elrond chapter. I do have five more books to reread, so I'll see if I come across anything then.

Meanwhile, though, I'm rereading The Hobbit.

There's a very brief conversation with the Eagles wherein they state categorically that they are not baggage carriers. I know they carry Gandalf off Orthanc because Galadriel asked them to, but that brings me to the other comment the Eagles make: they don't care about this world's battles. The only reason they rescue Gandalf in The Hobbit is because they're wondering what all the fuss in the woods is, between the Wargs and the orcs, and they whisk Gandalf off the treetop in order to question him. It's only when he asks them to do so do they return for Bilbo and the Dwarves. Conceivably then, even if Gandalf or Elrond or Galadriel had asked them to carry the ring (or Frodo bearing the ring) to Mount Doom, their likely response would have been similar to Bombadil's: they wouldn't understand the reasons why, wouldn't care enough to take the journey seriously (except insofar as saving their own skins), and would feel no sense of value in accomplishing this one task.

The wizards are sent by the Valar specifically to meddle in the affairs of Middle-earth. The Eagles have no such higher purpose.

From my point of view, it's not a hole in the plot at all, but a case where Tolkien knows his characters so well, he doesn't need to explain their motives at every step.

And now... because it's the holidays, some gratuitous photos:

My birthday burger, onion rings, and milkshake last month at Cheeburger, Cheeburger. Yum.
Lara Lacombe and I were discussing the sugar content of American vs Canadian ketchup. Apparently the Canadian kind has more sugar, exactly the opposite of what I'd expected. Can't quite taste a difference though, but maybe that's because I don't eat it often enough.

Photographer Kyle Cassidy has a Flickr group featuring MorningCATFace.

Reindeer pyjamas and Christmas Vacation!

Unlit Christmas tree with snow on the windowsills. We got another 30cm this past weekend.

Wish you all sweet dreams this winter!


You're right - health is everything.
Good point about the eagles being shot out of the sky before reaching Mordor. Still would've been a faster trip.
Have a wonderful Christmas, Deniz.
Anonymous said…
Hi, Deniz! I enjoyed your post. Health definitely is everything.
Bish Denham said…
You're so right. Health is important to one's state of mind and emotional health. Without it our roads are made more difficult. Merry Christmas from Texas!
Health is a priority... definitely...
Have a peaceful and blessed Christmas.
Writer In Transit
Suzanne Sapsed said…
Hi Deniz - another one agreeing with health is everything! And love the LOTR discussion - that had never even crossed my mind! Bloghopping from England :)
Suzanne @ Suzannes Tribe
Misha Gericke said…
Well, since you put it this way, it does make sense that JRR Tolkien never saw the Eagles as an option. :-/
Michael Di Gesu said…
Hi, Deniz,

YOU are SO RIGHT about our health. Having had some issues this year do to a horrid accident, I certainly will never take my health for granted. Actually three years ago I had the "health" revelation when I decided to get fit. I am happy to say I have been in shape for three years now.

It's tough, but well worth it!

Great pics.... Hope you had a WONDERFUL Christmas. How lovely it must be to live in Montreal and enjoy the holidays in such a magical city!

Maybe next year? I've wanted to spend the holidays there since I had visit a few years back.

May 2014 bring you every happiness and an abundance of health!!!!
Lara said…
Your right, Deniz, without your health. I purchased health insurance the other day, so once it takes effect on 1/1, I can get some testing done and figure out what it will take to make me healthy. I'm sure it's a lot - with weight being at the top of the list.

About the Eagles - perhaps Elrond and Galadriel knew that since the Elves were leaving, the Fellowship would/could be the seed of a new alliance between the different groups remaining in Middle-Earth.

Just a thought. Enjoy the rest of your holidays!
Hi Deniz .. yes health is essential isn't it - and I really must get my body into shape this year and ease the old joints ..

Thanks for these thoughts - all the best for 2014 and lots of success too .. cheers Hilary
M. J. Joachim said…
Health is a wonderful thing to pray for! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Happiness... When we were expecting our son, we had three wishes; I wish them for the world (and they need to come in the order stated):

May all people be Happy.
May all know Health.
May all be bright and curious about life.

As for the Eagles, I agree. Like Bombadil, they had their own sense of what mattered, and to them, most of the affairs of men (and yes, though it may offend them, I am including elves and hobbits and dwarves and...)just didn't matter.
Health for one and all! I was blessed with good health throughout 2013, and I can only hope it continues next year. You're right about the eagles -- they do what they want, and Sauron probably would have blasted them out of the sky if they'd gotten too close. As it was, our heroes had to distract the giant eyeball while Frodo destroyed the ring.
Dobson said…
Health is something we hope not to have to anguish over. I wish good health to you and yours also.
Deniz Bevan said…
Thanks for coming by everyone!

Great idea about the eagles, Lara.

I hope if you do come, Michael, it'll be a regular snowy winter and not what we've got going on right now - -30Celsius all week!
Mark Koopmans said…
Aloha and HAPPY NEW YEAR :)

Sorry I was such a slacker about getting to your (wonderful) post earlier, but I had a sneaky feeling Christmas and this New Year thing would get in the way of all things bloggerish and it was true!!

I can see the future... sweet... gotta go now, buy some Lotto ticket :)

Where are those Eagles...
Debra McKellan said…
Health is definitely important! Thank you!

That's a great point about the Eagles. They wouldn't have done taken the ring to Mordor. Just like the trees didn't (at least in the movie) didn't intend to fight in the war until Merry tricked them into seeing what Saruman did to their cousins, and the Elves were content in heading to the Undying Lands without helping.
Deniz Bevan said…
Thanks for hosting us, Mark!

It's true, Debra, the Ents might not have taken action against Saruman without Merry and Pippin there!

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