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The Ties of Family
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Author's Notes

When my husband and I found that, as a couple, the doctor considered us almost totally unlikely to produce children of our own, we were devastated. The one time we believe I conceived, the pregnancy barely lasted more than a month. It was devastating when it ended with intense pain--if it wasn't a cyst, which was another possibility.

As a result, I have known a great deal of fellow feeling with those in Frodo's immediate and extended family who have experienced miscarriages, which even today are far more common than we probably realize, and I have myself known the hunger for family and children which I have ascribed to Frodo and Narcissa and the Gravellies. I have raised a stepson and adopted daughter, both of whom knew a great deal of stress in the homes of their mothers, and today I'm proud of both. I've been a foster parent, and helped raise nieces and a nephew, and have taught many children. But it's not been easy, often seeing children given less than the best care when I'd love to do more.

I'd always been struck by the likenesses between Frodo and Aragorn: that both were about midway through their expected lifespans when they were brought together on the quest, that both were scholars, that both were deeply caring, that Aragorn was raised a mortal among Elves while Frodo finished his life a mortal among Elves, that both were willing to give their lives for the needs of all of Middle Earth, not just for the needs of their own people. Both drew others to them, helped others bond. It has always seemed to me the two of them would think of one another as brothers of the spirit, and that they would feel this way toward Samwise as well. The idea that perhaps their spirits were indeed those of brothers has intrigued me, and so I came up with the imaginations of Aragorn (remembering my own imaginary friends and imaginary twin sister when I was small) and the revelations of his mother's journal. What the world might have been like had Frodo and Sam been born also to Gilraen and Arathorn is intriguing, and may one day lead me to look at writing a true AU story, while mine so far have (mostly) stayed true to canon.

After the eruptions of Mount St. Helens, the orchards of eastern Washington and Oregon where the ash fell brought forth bumper crops of fruit, which led to the idea of the excess described by Pippin. Someone mentioned a VSD description of strawberry soap, and I regret to admit I have no idea what that is about. I was inspired by the image Tolkien himself described, speaking of the strawberries and cream being consumed in such quantities and the piles of fruit stones like a conqueror's collection of heads in the Shire in 1420, to come up with the tub full of strawberries and cherries in Minas Anor.

And again, the description again given of the volcanic glass like carnival glass is consistent with Mount St. Helens glass created by glassblowers here in Washington. For a time my husband and I dealt in antiques, and my personal love is glass, particularly good pressed and cut glass, although carved cased glass is another of my secret pleasures I have few examples of in my own collection. These inspired my description of the glass to be found in the workshop of the glassblower.

The image of Frodo cutting a caper to the admiration of a few Hobbit lasses in Jackson's FOTR during Bilbo's party inspired my image of Frodo as a particularly graceful dancer, a talent I've ascribed to him in many of the works I've written.

As this is an exploration of the love Frodo inspired within the Shire, Frodo remains at the heart of much of the story, even when he is physically absent. If much of The King's Commission is an investigation of how various folk saw and experienced Frodo Baggins and related his story to this outsider Ruvemir, this story is focused on the ongoing love of all for him, how they come to terms with his going, the ongoing legacy of hope for joy he envisioned for so many of them.

And I admit the Husbandmen's dance is much inspired by Riverdance, probably with a bit of Morris dancing thrown in, as it involves the hands as well as feet in its performance.

I am glad so many have enjoyed this, and hope that I may soon begin working on the next three nuzguls which are now vying for attention, one of which has started getting too large for the bag of cat sand and is now eyeing the sandbox in the park near one of my schools. Am not certain how long it will agree to remained contained at this point.

Thanks to all who have reviewed, and the more who have just read. As we who write know, the reviews are what inspire us to continue to write even more and to improve our writing. Thanks to each and all.



Specially dedicated to my Rosie, who died last Monday, and Eleanor Fine, who died last Friday. May both be surrounded by the love of us all.


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