27 April 2008

April 27
At Your Service!

Just before tea-time there came a tremendous ring on the front-door bell, and then he remembered! He rushed and put on the kettle, and put out another cup and saucer, and an extra cake or two, and ran to the door.

"I am so sorry to keep you waiting!" he was going to say, when he saw that it was not Gandalf at all. It was a dwarf with a blue beard tucked into a golden belt, and very bright eyes under his dark-green hood. As soon as the door was opened, he pushed inside, just as if he had been expected.

He hung his hooded cloak on the nearest peg, and "Dwalin at your service!" he said with a low bow.

Gandalf sat the head of the party with the thirteen dwarves all round: Bilbo sat on a stool at the fireside, nibbling at a biscuit (his appetite was quite taken away), and trying to look as if this was all perfectly ordinary and not in the least an adventure. The dwarves ate and ate, and talked and talked, and time got on.

(c) John Howe
"Now for some music!" said Thorin. "Bring out the instruments!"

The dark came into the room from the little window that opened in the side of The Hill; the firelight flickered - it was April - and still they played on, while the shadow of Gandalf's beard wagged against the wall.

April 27, the day of the unexpected party!

Hope your tea-time is filled with so many strange and wonderful stories, that you don't finish until well past dark. We like it dark for dark business, as they say - with dragons and whatnot.


Related posts:
Dwarven Music
Hobbit Movie (1977)
Play It Now: Brave Dwarves Back For Treasure

26 April 2008

April 26
Good Morning!


By some curious chance one morning long ago in the quiet of the world, when there was less noise and more green, and the hobbits were still numerous and prosperous, and Bilbo Baggins was standing at his door after breakfast smoking an enormous long wooden pipe that reached nearly down to his woolly toes (neatly brushed) - Gandalf came by.

"Good Morning!" said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his shady hat.

"What do you mean?" he said. "Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?"

"All of them at once," said Bilbo.

It's Gandalf-Visits-the-Shire Day!

Be on the lookout for unexpected visitors who might send you on an adventure - and be careful to whom you say, "I beg your pardon"! And be double-careful of whom you invite for tea!

Enjoy your adventures!

19 April 2008


In my previous post, I mistakenly attributed the painting of Gandalf in the woods to Ted Nasmith (it's been corrected).

So, here is a detail of a rather stern Gandalf, painted by Ted Nasmith. No doubt this is what Gandalf looks like when he corrects your mistakes!

One Week Before
An Unexpected Party...

Probably one of my all-time favorite paintings of Gandalf, by the amazing Roger Garland. Just a short rest in the woods before bringing about the greatest adventure a hobbit and thirteen dwarves ever had. And it's a great companion to Der Berggeist...

The Origin of Gandalf?


Humphrey Carpenter in his 1977 biography relates that Tolkien owned a postcard entitled Der Berggeist (German: "the mountain spirit"), and on the paper cover in which he kept it, he wrote "the origin of Gandalf". The postcard reproduces a painting of a bearded figure, sitting on a rock under a pine tree in a mountainous setting. He wears a wide-brimmed round hat and a long red cloak, and a white fawn is nuzzling his upturned hands.

Carpenter said that Tolkien recalled buying the postcard during his holiday in Switzerland in 1911. Manfred Zimmerman, however, discovered that the painting was by German artist Josef Madlener and dates to the mid–1920s. Carpenter acknowledged that Tolkien was probably mistaken about the origin of the postcard.



10 April 2008

How It All Began



07 April 2008

Earth-Sheltered Homes

Mother Earth News has a great article (Oct/Nov 2006) about Earth-sheltered homes, including tips on building techniques, living roofs, and how earth-sheltering works in general. Definitely intended for the construction- or engineering-minded, but well worth the read.

"You don't have to place an earth roof on an earth-sheltered home, but it has some compelling advantages in addition to the ecological benefit already mentioned:

Longevity. The properly designed earth roof is the longest-lasting roof you can build, because the earth and insulation protect the waterproofing membrane from the three conditions that eventually break down every other common roof surface: ultraviolet radiation, erosion and freeze-thaw cycling, which all damage exposed roofing over time.

Insulation. Solid earth is not good insulation, but 3 or 4 inches of light soil with vegetation growing in it has some insulation value. In winter, the cold, uneven earth roof holds snow better than other roofs, and fluffy snow is a good — and free — insulator."

There are several great links in this article, including a profile of Malcolm Wells, "father" of earth-sheltered design.

Link to article.

06 April 2008

Happy New Year!

Well, the elvish new year is upon us ~ a time for unexpected parties and adventures. The anniversary of Gandalf's initial visit to Bag-End is just a few short weeks away! (That's April 26, if you didn't know.)

© Alan Lee
This year, A Hobbit's Holiday is going to follow Bilbo on his grand adventure, albeit from the ease of our own armchairs. I'll still keep you up-to-date with hobbit-home and gardening tips, and all other sorts of pleasant revelries; but we'll also follow Bilbo into the uncharted wilderness and straight into the dragon's lair.

Stay tuned!

04 April 2008

Meditations on Mettarë

Today is mettarë, the last day of the elvish year (according to Hob's Calendar, anyway). It's mid-spring and the quickening of nature - early leaves and shoots, brilliant wildflowers, sudden gusty snowshowers - are giving way to the full transformation of a great, green season. It's time to set aside the stresses and unfinished projects, let them end, take a deep breath, and truly start anew.

Tomorrow is yestarë, the first day of the elvish new year. I have some exciting new plans for A Hobbit's Holiday... but that's business for the new year. All I can say is stay tuned, and enjoy the end of this wonderful past year.