31 December 2007

Hobbit Movie (1977)

Ah yes, the animated movie that sent me on the road to Hobbiton so many, many years ago... absolutely perfect! For a generation of young hobbits, Gollum really is a nasty, froggy, green-skinned monster (gravel-voiced by Brother Theodore)... goblins are barrel-shaped, grey-skinned monsters with horns...
and the music of Glenn Yarbrough fills the air...

For some fans of The Hobbit, this animated version is a disappointment (I'll admit, I'm not crazy about the design of the wood elves), but it's one of the last great Rankin & Bass creations from the 1970's, with water-color backgrounds and original music.


Watch the whole thing for free on YouTube...
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4,
Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8.

...or get it on DVD!

New (Boxed Set)


Hobbit Name Generator

If you've read my profile, you already know the history of the name "Hob Meadows".

Maybe you've already got a Hobbit name; but maybe you don't and would like help designing one. No problem! Mungo Loamsdown and Dimple Bumbleroot (aka "Chris Wetherell" and "Jane Pinckard") have created a hobbit name generator for your easy online use.


It's quite fun to play around with; and there's a link to an elvish name generator, for those of you who speak Quenya, or who might have faerie blood on your grandmother's side.

29 December 2007

Hob's Pick:
Best Jams

Mrs. Meadows and I had a very nice indoor picnic the other day, during which we enjoyed a variety of jams we'd received as gifts. I am very partial to blackberry jam, with strawberry running a close second; but I have to say these were some outstanding new jams, perfect for a picnic, tea, breakfast, or other special occasion.

If you're going to have a jam sampling, it's best to get things in order. I would start with a pot of winter fruit tea (or a nice pekoe blend); some seasonal fruit to help cleanse the palate (citrus or pomegranate do nicely); and of course, lots of toast! And if you're going to go to the trouble of toasting anything, you might as well make it an English muffin (cinnamon raisin, preferably).

My number three jam is French Marmalade. It is very mild, with a good orange fragrance; but with a pleasant, grapefruit bitterness you can feel at the back of the palate. Go easy with this one, because the bitterness starts to overpower the flavor if you don't cleanse the palate often.

My number two jam is Olallieberry. (Olallieberries, if you don't know, are a hybrid berry of predominately blackberry strains.) It is not especially sweet, but it is very fragrant ~ it is like eating a wonderful, mild perfume. The blackberry flavour is not especially strong, but excellent nonetheless. I've never had olallieberry pie, though I've heard of it; it is definitely on my to-do list for summer!

Which leads up to my number one jam: Tayberry, which is a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry. Tayberry has a very simple, strong blackberry flavour, and it is very sweet without being overpowering or sickly sweet. My only complaint would be that it is quite melty, turning a bit drippy within a few minutes and downright syrupy after an hour. (The olallieberry and French marmalade remained firm throughout the picnic.)

The French Marmalade came from St. Dalfour; the berry jams came from Pennington Farms.

Happy picnic wishes for the future!

23 December 2007

Bag End Dollhouse


Obelia Medusa has created an amazingly detailed dollhouse of Bag End. It's lovely ~ just as you'd imagine it! This is probably my favorite view; it's not hard to imagine Bilbo hastily preparing seed-cake, beer, more cakes, porter and coffee as dwarf after dwarf arrives. Pure magic!

Link to dollhouse. (Thanks, Cory!)


Beorn's Honey Bread

This outstanding recipe has been in my family for years. It is sweet without being cakey, and is wonderful toasted, with butter and honey. I am fairly certain that this exact recipe is what Beorn served to Bilbo and the dwarves.

1 pkg active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups honey
1/3 cup sultanas or golden raisins
2 large eggs
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 to 2 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 cup warm water

In a large bowl, combine yeast, 3/4 cup warm water, and honey. Let stand 5 minutes to soften yeast.

Put sultanas in a small bowl, and cover with hot or boiling water. Set aside.

In another small bowl, beat eggs; cover and chill.

Once yeast has softened, add all but 1 Tbsp of egg, and 1 1/2 cup flour, salt, and oil. Beat until batter is stretchy. Add remaining flour. Drain sultanas, add. Stir with a wooden spoon until dough is well moistened.

Scrape dough onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic; about 10 minutes. Add flour as needed to prevent sticking. Rinse, dry, and oil bread bowl; turn dough in bowl to oil top. Cover dough and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Turn out dough on a lightly floured bowl to expel air. Shape in a rope about two feet long. If dough is so elastic it shrinks back, let rest a few minutes and then continue.

Oil a 9" or 10" springform pan with removable rim. Coil dough to pan rim. Cover and let stand until puffy, about 20 to 30 minutes. Uncover and gently brush dough with reserved egg.

Bake in 325 degree oven, on rack about 1/3 distance from bottom, until dark golden brown. Let cool in pan.

Best served with butter and honey, or fresh strawberries, and lots of tea.

21 December 2007

A Song for Yule's Eve
The Ballad of Ranger Arvid


It was the ranger Arvid
rode homeword through the hills
among the shadowy shiverleafs,
along the chiming hills.

The night wind whispered around him
with scent of brok and rue.
Both moons rode high above him
and hills aflash with dew.

And dreaming of that woman
who waited in the sun,
he stopped, amazed by starlight,
and so he was undone.

For there beneath a barrow
that bulked athwart a moon,
the Outling folk were dancing
in glass and golden shoon.

The Outling folk were dancing
like water, wind and fire
to frosty-ringing harpstrings,
and never did they tire.

To Arvid came she striding
from where she watched the dance,
the Queen of Air and Darkness,
with starlight in her glance.

With starlight, love, and terror
in her immortal eye,
the Queen of Air and Darkness
cried softly under sky:

"Light down, you ranger Arvid,
and join the Outling folk.
You need no more be human,
which is a heavy yoke."

He dared to give her answer:
"I may do naught but run.
A maiden waits me, dreaming
in lands beneath the sun.

And likewise wait me comrades
and tasks I would not shirk,
for what is Ranger Arvid
if he lays down his work?

So wreak your spells, you Outling,
and cast your wrath on me.
Though maybe you can slay me,
you'll not make me unfree."

The Queen of Air and Darkness
stood wrapped about with fear
and northlight-flares and beauty
he dared not look too near.

Until she laughed like harpsong
and said said to him in scorn:
"I do not need a magic
to make you always mourn.

I send you home with nothing
except your memory
of moonlight, Outling music,
night breezes, dew, and me.

And that will run behind you,
a shadow on the sun,
and that will lie beside you
when every day is done.

In work and play and friendship
your grief will strike you dumb
for thinking what you are - and -
what you might have become.

Your dull and foolish woman
treat kindly as you can.
Go home now, Ranger Arvid,
set free to be a man!"

In flickering and laughter
the Outling folk were gone.
He stood along by moonlight
and wept until the dawn.

Source: "The Queen of Air and Darkness"
by Poul Anderson, c1971

19 December 2007

Yule's Eve: 21st December
The Longest Night

Yule's Eve is the longest night of the year. I know most people put Midsummer's Eve as the night when fairies, sprites, pixies and other wee folk come out to play pranks and dance in the moonlight (and who am I to say they don't?); but I've always felt that fairy-land was somehow closest to ours during the Long Night. Something about the blue light of the moon, the ethereal frost and blowing mist, makes me think of the good folk.

Poul Anderson gives the best description of what I consider Yule's Eve in fairy-land as I've ever heard. From his short story, "Queen of Air and Darkness":

The last glow of the last sunset would linger until almost midwinter. But there would be no more day, and the northlands rejoiced. Blossoms opened, flamboyance on firethorn trees, steelflowers rising blue from the brok and rainplant that cloaked all hills, shy whiteness of kiss-me-never down in the dales. Flitteries darted among them on iridescent wings; a crownbuck shook his horns and bugled through warmth and flower odors. Between horizons the sky deepened from purple to sable. Both moons were aloft, nearly full, shining frosty on leaves and molten on waters. The shadows they made were blurred by an aurora, a great blowing curtain of light across half heaven. Behind it the earliest stars had come out.

I think I will welcome the Long Night with a glass (or two) of blackberry mead, and perhaps a nice cake...

17 December 2007

Meditations from Durin's Day

Well, an interesting dwarvish New Year has begun (for me, anyway).

12th December was very cold and foggy ~ a blue fog, that colors everything in greyish tones. Not the best of mornings to wake to! However, I was greeted by two magnificent crows, sitting on a post outside. One flew off, but one stayed and nodded at me. Very nice.

Not much happened on this day. Heavy clouds obscured the sky until late afternoon, but at last I was able to see both moon and sun in the same sky. Just in the west, the sun was almost behind the mountains, and the moon was perhaps three hands behind it. I've had very strong dreams since ~ strange, since I don't often remember my dreams, but very welcome.

Hope your Durin's Day was illuminating and wonderful!

10 December 2007

Durin's Day: 12th December

As the great Thorin Oakenshield, King Under the Mountain himself, said, "We still call it Durin's Day when the last moon of Autumn and the sun are in the sky together. But this will not help us, I fear, for it passes our skill in these days to guess when such a time will come again."

As it passed my skill in predicting Durin's Day to be the 10th December!

Further research into the matter proves that Durin's Day is actually the first day of the last crescent moon of Autumn; not the first day of the last new moon as I had earlier supposed.

That puts Durin's Day as early as 11th December or as late as 13th December! I'm going to play the middle and call 12th December my own observation of Durin's Day. Again, moon rise should be in the morning, moon set in the late afternoon or early evening.

Anyway, happy Durin's Day, whenever it comes your way!

08 December 2007

Dwarven Music

For too long have dwarves been regarded as little more than coalminers, blacksmiths, misers, and stocky angry little Vikings. How unfair! While it is true that dwarves don't often linger in the Shire (much less Hobbiton), those who have had dealings with dwarves know them as master craftsmen; rare artisans with a fierce desire to create beauty. Consider this all too telling scene from the first chapter of The Hobbit.

"Now for some music!" said Thorin. "Bring out the instruments!"

Kili and Fili rushed for the bags and brought back little fiddles; Dori, Nori, and Ori brought out flutes from somewhere inside their coats; Bombur produced a drum from the hall; Bifur and Bofur went out too, and came back with clarinets that they had left among the walking-sticks. Dwalin and Balin said: "Excuse me, I left mine in the porch!" "Just bring mine in with you!" said Thorin. They came back with viols as big as themselves, and with Thorin's harp wrapped in a green cloth. It was a beautiful golden harp, and when Thorin struck it the music began all at once, so sudden and sweet that Bilbo forgot everything else, and was swept away into dark lands under strange moons, far over The Water and very far from his hobbit hole under The Hill.

What a marvelous night! After an uninvited meal at an uninvited party, Thorin and company treat Bilbo to an evening of music and song.

Fiddles, flutes, a drum for Bombur, clarinets, viols, and a golden harp for Thorin; and this is just after-dinner music! So intoxicating and magical is the dwarves' music, it wakes the Tookish side of Bilbo's soul, and he longs (at least for a moment) for adventure.

With Durin's Day is coming up, why not try your own hand at making a dwarven instrument, such as a Sutton Hoo lyre?

Patrick Woolery has an excellent "work-in-progress" site that shows the actual construction of a Sutton Hoo lyre.

As Mr. Woolery notes on his site, the inspiration for his project came from an article titled, "The Saxon Lyre: History, Construction, and Playing Techniques."

Need some inspiration? Ron Cook is a luthier whose Anglo-Saxon lyres and mountain dulcimers and viols look as though they came straight from the workshops of Erebor.

I, myself, am building a Sutton Hoo lyre of black oak. I've only just roughed out the frame, but will post pictures when it nears completion.

And again ~ happy Durin's Day!

Durin's Day: 10th December

Hello and well-met, fellow traveler, and happy Durin's Day!

Monday, the tenth of December, is the first day of the dwarves' new year ~ being the first day of the last moon in Autumn, just before winter. Dwarves call their new year's day, "Durin's Day" if the sun and moon are in the sky together. By happy circumstance, the moon will rise on Monday around 9:00 in the morning, and not set until 4:30 in the afternoon.

Huzzah! Happy Durin's Day to all!