Monday 28 December 2020

A short lecture on ale brewing and ale tasting

 


It's yule, and we have to celebrate it with some food and drink! Here's a short ale brewing lecture I held at the Green Dragon Foreyule Party on 18th December 2020.


Ale Brewing and Ale Tasting 

A short lecture by Pycella

 

As yer know, I am a pie seller by profession, but lately, I have also tried my luck in brewing ales!
And I have been lucky too. Not sure if luck has somet to do with it though... but aye. I’ll quickly introduce yer to the brewing itself.


To brew ale, yer need water, malted grains, hops, yeast and patience. Lots of patience. And maybe some nice, additional things to spice things up. Brewing consists of several steps: In my small-scale burrow brewing, the main phases are mashing, boiling, and conditioning. And lots of washing… You see, keeping things clean is very important in ale brewing. Yer might need to hire a professional dishwasher, or just anyone who turns up last at yer ale tasting… If yer don't keep things clean, yer ale might not taste good at all.
 

So here’s what I do when I brew ale: I warm up the water to a certain temperature, and then add the malted grains. During the mashing, the starches of the grains will turn into sugars that the yeast can “eat” during the fermentation. The more sugars, the more alcohol there will be. The mashing will greatly influence the body of the ale, its richness. Then the grains are filtered and we will have this sweet liquid called “wort”. Next comes the boiling phase when hops are added to the wort. The hops balance the sweetness of the wort with their bitterness. Depending on their variety, they can add an earthy, spicy or fruity flavour to the ale. Yer can also add other spices during the boiling phase, like yule spices… or even biscuits! If you ever need to keep yer biscuits safe from others, yer can hide them in yer ale! After boiling comes the cooldown phase. When the ale is at room temperature, it’s safe to add the yeast.
 

Then the ale will be fermented for a few weeks. This is when the sugars are turned into alcohol. After fermentation, we still need to condition the ale. For that, we will add some more sugar to the ale and let it condition in a keg or bottles. During conditioning, air bubbles will form. This usually takes another few weeks. So the largest part of ale brewing is actually waiting…
 

Ale tasting

By now, I am sure yer all ready to wet yer whistles, so I have brought some ales for tasting. I am myself, after all this lecturing… I'll taste them now and analyse them fer yer!

I have poured my ale samples in small glasses. Now, ale tasting is an art, so let me tell yer how it's done properly. Before tasting, we inspect the ale visually, that means with yer eyes only! Then, yer can take a good sip and keep the ale in yer mouth for a moment. And after that, yer can swallow it. This way, yer should be able to catch all the characteristics of the ale. After tasting one ale, eat a slice of bread or drink water to cleanse yer palate.


And NOW let’s start with the fun part: the tasting itself! I'll start with the Yule Biscuit Brew. It's a dark ale, a thick creamy foam and a yule biscuit on top. It’s a stout spiced with gingerbread! A tempting yule scent is rising from the glass… Some sweet secrets are hidden beneath that creamy foam on top!
Let’s have a taste... So sweet and rich! This tastes like liquid gingerbread.
 

Let’s cleanse our palates before our next ale. For our next ale, we have The Garden Dwarves’ Yule Surprise. Here it is: dark brown ale and light foam on top. It’s a brown ale spiced with cinnamon, cloves, star anise and other yule seasonings. It’s not as dark as the previous ale. There's a lovely yule scent too! I'll take a sip... Oh, a perfect combination of yule flavours! That foam gives yer a small beard too… a garden dwarves’ surprise, indeed!

Now, last but not the least, we have the Bounders’ Porter, a very dark ale with thick foam. Porters are actually very similar to stouts, as yer can assume from the dark colour. Porters are basically dark ales that are popular among porters, hence the name too. And they have a high alcohol content, hence they are popular among bounders too. I'll inspect this Bounders’ porter by taking a sip... Dear me! This is certainly as strong as any bounder… Oh, and there's a hint of coffee. I added a small amount of fresh coffee during the fermentation. Just to help them bounders stay awake a bit longer…


That’s about it! Thanks for attending this short ale lecture and ale tasting.
 

Saturday 7 November 2020

The Hobbity Yule Calendar 2020 is coming!


It's time to share the hobbity yule cheer again! 


The hobbity yule calendar is soon here! In the past three years, we have put together a yule calendar, sharing yule-themed pictures, recipes, songs, poems and videos to others each day from 1st to 24th December. All who feel like hobbits at heart can send entries and help everyone build a merry mood during these challenging times.

Here are some examples of entries:

  •     A yule-themed picture, LOTRO screenshot, slideshow, drawing, or a video made by you
  •     A yule poem, story, or a song
  •     An introduction to a local yule tradition you’d like to share to other hobbits
  •     Your favourite yule recipe
  •     Yule decoration ideas, riddles, games…


Feel free to get creative as well! Each entry is valuable, so don’t be shy to share your stuff. For inspiration, you can take a look at the previous Yule calendars which are stored here.

Let the Quickpost deliver your entries to pycellawoodberry(a)gmail.com. Please send your entries as early as you can, so that the calendar preparations can be made in time.

Please help us make the hobbity Yule calendar and spread cheer among hobbits and other folks!

 

The collective entry for 2020: show us your yule cards!

In addition to the normal entries, we also publish a special collective entry: a yule-themed slideshow with pictures sent by the LOTRO community members. Earlier, folks have sent pictures of yule trees and yule food. This year, we would like to see yule cards! Show us in pictures the yule cards you have received or sent yourself. Maybe you even have crafted some by yourself? Now is the perfect time to cheer someone up with a merry yule card.

Before you send the picture, please make sure that the picture is taken/owned by you, and/or you have permission to use it. If you wish, you can tell where you live (state/country) – we might add the information to the slideshow. It is always nice to see how widely spread the community is!

Please send your yule card pictures to Pycella (see address above) on 15th December at the latest.

Thursday 29 October 2020

Picnic Pie

 

‘Twas midsummer in the Southern Farthing
One pleasant mornin’ in the month of June
As I was gardenin’, I heard her singin’
She came down hummin’ a sweet picnic tune

Her song was lovely, yet it made me hungry
My belly rumbled loud, and I had to sigh
But in her basket was a well-kept secret:
She’d brought a homemade sweet picnic pie


Chorus:
She had no jools, no costly diamonds
She had the fairest eyes as blue as sky
Her touch felt warmer than the summer sunlight
And in her basket was a picnic pie


We sat for hours among the flowers
I munched the picnic pie and enjoyed her song
But as the night fell, she bade me farewell
And like that pie we ate, the spell was gone

Chorus:
She had no jools, no costly diamonds
She had the fairest eyes as blue as sky
Her touch felt warmer than the summer sunlight
And in her basket was a picnic pie

 ...

 

About the song

Here are the first song lyrics I have written for the Songburrow Strollers, another kinship band of the Grand Order. Surprise, surprise: it's a pie song again! The song is best sung to Galway Shawl. Below my favourite version of the song, although it's a longer version than the one I wrote the lyrics for. Feel free to create lyrics for the missing verses!



Dervish - The Galway Shawl (feat. Steve Earle)

Pieland


When I was just a restless hobbit lass
I heard the call of exciting foreign lands
I decided to get out and leave my home behind me
I ended up in the busy town of Bree
It seemed the right fit for me
Much to do, much to see, it was so very thrilling

Yet I found out: there is one thing
I miss the most of all:
The pies of the Shire
They are quite unequalled
So I am heading to my home sweet home
To enjoy the pies of my dreams
Come and join me, if you please

I am going to the Pieland
Ruled by pies of the highest quality
Full of comfort of the best sort
That's my kind of pie
I am going to the Pieland
Where pies lie on every windowsill
Pies aplenty
That's all I need
All I need

In the Pieland, when I was a child
I remember the first time I ate a pie
That sweet taste made to last
As my dearest memory
Pies are the heart of every merry feast
They cheer up everyone from west to east
Berry tarts, mushroom pies
All you can desire

Take my hand, pounce to Pieland
Shire pies wait for you
Loved by pierates, grumpy gaffers
Boffins, Baggins, Grubbs and Tooks
Let’s go back to home sweet home
To enjoy the pies of our dreams
Come and join me, if you please

I am going to the Pieland
Ruled by pies of the highest quality
Full of comfort of the best sort
That's my kind of pie
I am going to the Pieland
Where pies lie on every windowsill
Pies aplenty
That's all I need
I love my Pieland, it's the best land
You see

Come Pieland, I can promise
It keeps you merry for eternity

I am going to the Pieland
Ruled by pies of the highest quality
Full of comfort of the best sort
That's my kind of pie
I am going to the Pieland
Where pies lie on every windowsill
Pies aplenty
That's all I need
I love my Pieland, it's the best land
You see
My Pieland
Pies aplenty
It’s all I need
All I need
It’s all I need
All I need

 

About the song

I love the Highland song by Blackmore's Night and wanted to make ingame lyrics for it. The original lyrics gave me inspiration to turn it into a song about Pieland, also known as the Shire. Here's the original tune, hum along!


Blackmore's Night - Highland

Friday 3 July 2020

The Mystery of the Missing Rug


 A picture by Wildigard

This is a summary of a roleplaying adventure that took place in Michel Delving on 28th June 2020.

It all began on a busy Friday night at the Dragon. Miss Pycella was waitressing once again, trying to compensate for all the mess she had done in the past at the inn. However, things would soon get even messier because, during that same night, Potty’s tab got mysteriously lost. Barmy was furious and blamed Pycella for losing the tab notes. He demanded that Pycella would pay a hefty sum for the tab or waitress at the Dragon for evermore (supposing she wouldn’t lose any more tab notes). However, as Pycella was once more sitting in her garden and holding her belly, she came up with a plan. Namely, all that belly holding had led to some baby rumours which had reached the ears of Pycella’s uncle Toggo. He wanted to send their family heirloom rug for the new-born. Well, don’t ask me why. Babies need rugs, eh? Anyway, Pycella thought that she could trade this rug for the missing tab and save herself from the eternal waitressing duties. Now she only had to wait for the Quickpost to deliver the rug safely to the Dragon… Surely nothing would go wrong there!

And yes, we can always rely on the Quickpost when it comes to losing deliveries. They managed to bring the rug all the way to Michel Delving, but then it got mysteriously lost. Pycella was devastated, but she didn’t want to give up. So she asked her friends to come and search the missing rug with her.

On Sunday 28th June, Pycella was standing in front of the Quickpost office, waiting for potential rug searchers. She didn’t need to wait for long. One by one, hobbits popped up in front of the post office, some streaming from the road, some pouring down from the roofs. Fidgit rolled to the scene and asked if they all would get free drinks on Potty’s tab afterwards. And then came Potty who had tried to recruit some bounders for the search, but they were too busy standing around their statue. One bounder came though: master Piper who had gotten a permission to help out with the search. There was also Davlo, Saelo, Amorey, Dulcena, Demelsa, Nimelia, Simbo, Nannie, Lina, Tibba, Nonette, Wildigard, Acorne, Aodhfin, Gammer, Nawagrim… Twenty hobbits! “With this many hobbits about, that rug is gonna have a hard time staying in hiding”, Miss Nonette noted. Many asked if there were any news of the missing rug. Davlo suspected that the culprit was Barmy himself, while Fidgit wondered if it was the mayor who was standing close to the post office. Miss Dulcena looked around at the crowd and said: “With so many folks out here, maybe we can all make a new rug if we can’t find the missing one.” Nimelia shook her head. “I don’t make rugs, I just arrest rug thieves.” Nonette added: “Also, that sounds like hard work.” Nawagrim seemed well prepared for anything, wearing his helmet for some reason. “Yer dressed quite robust for a rug search, Nawagrim!” noted Miss Lina who had just leaped down from the nearby roof. “I thought it sounded dangerous!” Nawagrim explained while cautiously looking at Gammer who was wielding a mean-looking fish, ready to slap any rug thieves. “I recommend stayin’ on her good side,” noted Piper, nodding at Gammer. Saelo said that someone should grab the fish, and for a moment, there was some confusion if the fish was the official suspect in the rug investigation. “There is somet fishy goin’ on with that rug!” Potty agreed. Lina suggested that they could all just skip the rug search and look for Potty’s missing tab instead, but Potty just shook his head and waved a finger at Lina, saying: “Priorities, Miss Lina! Priorities!” The argument didn’t have a chance to proceed into the phase involving flying rotten apples, as Pycella pounced onto the edge of the nearby flowerbed and shouted to get everyone’s attention. The rug search had officially begun!

 A picture by Aodhfin

After thanking everyone for coming, Pycella quickly recapped the events that had led her to this trouble. The hobbits listened and whispered amongst themselves. With all this “never give up” spirit, Pycella seemed well set for eternal waitressing duties, Miss Lina noted. Then, Pycella looked at the crowd. “Anyway, we need some folks of intelligence on this sort of mission. Quest. Thing.” Nonette shouted: “You’ve come to the right place!” Suddenly, Pycella drew a small pie slicer out from her skirts and held it in the air, trying to look like some brave rug raid leader. “What say you?” she asked and took a dramatic pause. “What say you?” she repeated. “Thing!” Miss Lina shouted back, and someone blew a trumpet. “One rug to rule them all!” Amorey shouted. “Sure I am intelli… smart,” Miss Acorne nodded. Miss Pycella looked pleased. “Now, maybe we go and see if we all fit in to that Quickpost office?” she suggested. Everyone nodded. “We really could use a rug shot, so we know what it looks like,” Shirriff Nimelia commented in her professional manner, as they walked in.

Suddenly the small Quickpost office was fully packed with hobbits, many of them staring at the rug on the floor. “THERE’s a rug!” Nimelia said, pointing at the large blue rug on the office floor. “Needs the roll test though,” Fidgit said and rolled on the rug, trying his best to not knock anyone down. “Funny they lost it right here,” Nawagrim wondered and scratched his helmet head. However, Pycella sighed and shook her head. “Nope, this is not it…” she said. “The lost rug was a green one.” Saelo smiled. “Green one? That’s what I call taste!” Nimelia took a poetic pose and wondered: “What mean thug would steal a green rug?” Tibba had an idea: “Perhaps we could drop a couple of green dyes while nobody is looking?” That caught Simbo’s attention: “Green dyes? I can make some!”

 A picture by Wildigard

At that point, Pycella had walked to the Quickpost lad who has taking care of the office and poked him gently. “He’s in for a scolding,” Miss Lina noted. Pycella cleared her throat. “So, you said that the rug was lost when it reached Michel Delving?” The Quickpost lad sighed: “Yes, it came fine to our post office, but then it disappeared mysteriously. I think it was stolen! That’s what the bounders found out before they departed for the inn for further innspections. The burglar left some clues though. The bounders found this where the rug package had been. It’s covered in something very sticky, like glue,” told the lad, holding out a small, dirty note in his hand. “A true glue clue!” Lina said, while others wondered if it was slug glue. “The plot comes unglued!” Nimelia said. “Was there anything else?” Pycella asked the lad who shook his head: “Nothing much. However, I have heard that there have been traces of this mysterious glue all over Michel Delving. It seems that the culprit is here, somewhere.” Nonette said it sounded like their smallest cousin, though she’d not be able to lift a rug. Simbo was busy inspecting a box for pies and Piper wondered if the rug chopped up and turned into something else, looking at Saelo’s backpack suspiciously. Meanwhile, Pycella inspected the note that had stuck into her hand. It wasn’t Potty’s tab, it was too small to be that one. Moreover, it had riddles written all over. Before anyone would pull the rug from under everyone’s feet and dye it green, Pycella suggested she would read the first riddle (that might lead to their rug and culprit). “A ruggle?” Miss Tibba pondered, and Nonette got into her riddle solving pose. Before Pycella had a chance to open her mouth, someone already guessed the answer was “duck”, the traditional answer to any riddle imaginable. Pycella shook her head and read the riddle out loud:

Feller with a good hearing
Is eyeing a teapot of love
While old friends keep talking

“I reckon a toad wrote that note,” Fidgit concluded. “Toads are sticky.” A teapot of love? Ears? Old friends? Quite vague hints! Nimelia sighed. “That rug is doomed.” Pycella scratched her head. “Is there a place in Michel Delving with all these things present?” she wondered. “Maybe old friends hang out in the Inn!” Nonette suggested. “Can’t be wrong ter check an inn,” Tibba agreed. Nimelia said that going to the inn is a very bounderly strategy.

 A picture by Aodhfin

So they all headed towards the Bird and Baby, closest inn to the post office. On their way, Nimelia patted her pickaxe and noted that they could turn over every stone in Delving until they found either a teapot, or the rug. “Never seen hobbits move so fast,” Miss Demelsa observed as the thirsty hobbits streamed into the inn. There were some fine rugs at the inn too, but they were all red. Nimelia walked straight to the counter. “Right, I’ll have the usual! Oh, no, wait, I am here on business.” Many hobbits were heavily occupied at the counter, inspecting the ale kegs of love, ordering riddle solving ales, pie, and whatnot. “Can I order a green rug? That would speed things up,” Nimelia said. Piper the Bounder was inspecting a pint of Carlo’s finest. Some hobbits headed to the back room and spotted something in the corner. A rabbit! “He must have good hearing!” Lina noted. She also spotted a lovely teapot with a heart on it on the nearby table. “There’s some old fellas nattering here,” Nonette said, pointing at the elderly hobbits standing in the room. “Anybodee carry a rug past ya?” Miss Acorne asked. Simbo pondered if the rabbit ate the rug. Piper looked at the old fellows in the room. “I know these chaps. Bookworm types. They’d never take a rug, unless there was something to read on the backside of it.” Pycella walked to the teapot and peeked inside. There was something there! “Tea?” Tibba asked. “Oooooh ale?” Master Aodhfin asked hopefully. Pycella then pulled out some sticky pine needles. “Pine? No Pie?” Simbo sighed. Pycella shook her head. The needles had stuck to her hand. “You’ve started a collection, Pycella!” Nonette giggled. “I’ll not shake Pycella’s hand today...” Lina nodded. When Piper was inspecting a book one of the bookworms was reading, the others wondered if there was a pine tree in Michel Delving. Well, maybe they could get more clues by looking at the other riddles in that sticky note? Pycella read the next one.

That place where the hammer falls
And treasures lie in plain sight
Look into the box

“Ah, the forge?” Tibba said. “Anywhere Nimelia is...” Lina said, looking at Nimelia who was already clutching a forging hammer in her hand. “Just tell me what you need hammered!” she said with excitement. Miss Acorne scratched her head: “A vault has treasures!” Nonette nodded: “Maybe it’s the vault-keeper fellow. He’s the thief! I knew it.” Yet Pycella thought the answer might not be that straight-forward. “Is there another place with a hammer, than the forge?” she pondered. “The auction house,” Nannie noted. “Ah, that’s a great idea, Nannie,” Nonette agreed. “Oh! And treasures abound at the auction house!” Dulcena added. The eager hobbits headed for the auction house, yet some could not pass the counter without ordering more drinks for the road. “An ale, and fast!” Lina shouted at Carlo, pounding her fist on the counter like an auctioneer. Others were shouting their orders of drinks and snacks with a pace that made Pycella happy that she wasn’t waitressing at this inn (as of yet). Nimelia was waving her hammer at Carlo. “An ale and a snack for the road! Half a hog should do!” When all were set, they continued to the auction house that was on the other side of Michel Delving. Good that everyone had something to drink and munch on their way. Piper had taken the other half of Nimelia’s hog. Pycella hadn’t ordered anything, because it would have stuck to her hand too. The hobbits strolled through the night-time town, all finding their way to the auction house in the end. “A drink is very distracting for adventurous Hobbitses” Saelo noted, sipping his homemade ale that he carried in his backpack. 

A blurry memory by Wildigard

At the auction house, there were rugs, but wrong colour again. There was a small green piece of cloth over the auctioneer’s stand, but it was too small for a rug. “It won’t grow like my belly either,” Pycella grinned. “The thief wouldn’t have auctioned it off by chance?” Dulcena wondered. “Whatever the highest bid is, I DOUBLE it!” The others were also interested in the auctions. “Can we bid on pies?” Fidgit asked. Amorey hopped behind auctioneer’s stand and shouted: “Going once, going twice, SOLD! to the chubby hobbit with gravy stains,” pointing at Simbo. “Err.. Which chubby hobbit with the gravy stains?” Potty asked, looking at his stained old tunic. Wildigard was fuelling Piper the with some take-away mead, wine and ale. Meanwhile, Lina had spotted a box in the middle of coin piles. “Hey, here is treasure in plain sight!” she shouted. All gathered around the box, at least those who were not busy with bidding on pies and eating snacks. Pycella looked into the box and pulled out some pumpkin pieces, all sticky with glue. “Bah not a sausage...” Fidgit sighed. Pycella shivered. “I lost my appetite for today.” The pumpkin pieces got stuck in Pycella’s hands too. Everyone else was scratching their heads. Was someone making a sticky slug pumpkin pie? This was getting very mysterious! “So someone broke a pumpkin then tried to glue it back together?” Piper wondered. Lina grinned. “It’d be fun when someone bit into it,” she said, and Piper nodded: “I tried that on my folks once. Spent a week pulling weeds.” Then Pycella remembered that there was still one more riddle in the note that was stuck to her hand. Maybe that would lead them further? She read it out loud:

A bull is eyeing hobbits
Next to a company of three who ate too much straw

Very tricky! Was there a bull somewhere in Michel Delving? Maybe at the Stables? Nannie said that there are some cows by the road to Little Delving. Maybe it meant those? Or maybe there was a bull at Sandson’s farm? “Maybe it’s not a real bull?” Pycella thought. “Bullseye, some sort of archery-type place?” Dulcena suggested. “The training halls,” Amorey nodded. The halls were almost next door, so the hobbits decided to check. “I still reckon it has something to do with sausages,” Fidgit said hopefully.

 A picture by Aodhfin

The hobbits walked to the training halls, eating most of poor Hugo Broadbelt’s pie on their way in. Once inside, everyone started to inspect the place. “Where’s the bull?” asked Fidgit, probably ready to eat it. Piper straightened his hat and walked to some trainers. “These two fellas look mighty suspicious. Where were you when Pycella’s rug was stolen? Huh?! I ought to put you in the lockholes. I’ve got my eye on you. and don’t you forget it!” Potty greeted his former trainer Lilabet and then spotted something nearby. “Oh! A bow! Yer think they will let me try one?” he asked hopefully. And there, a bullseye target for archers! “The bull is here! Or rather his eye,” Nimelia observed. “Training dummies are filled with straw. And there’s three of them,” Gammer noted, pointing her fish at the training hall dummies. “Might be someone should interrogate these straw dummies then. One of them could be the culprit,” Miss Dulcena suggested. Before anyone could stop her, Lina was smacking one of the dummies. “Yer questioning the dummies, Lina?” Pycella asked. “Well, I wanted to hit somet...” Lina shrugged. Then Pycella saw something on the floor next to the dummies. “Something fell off the dummy when miss Lina hit it” she said. “Not stuck very well then. It’s probably safe!” Nonette suspected. Everyone held their breath (except for Piper, who was still interrogating the trainers) while Pycella lifted a mathom from the floor, also sticky with glue. “I’m glad it was not a red pointy hat that fell of that dummy!” Potty grinned. “Gluethon, it seems,” Saelo observed. It must belong to the mathom house! However, the glue mystery was still unglued. “Does all this glue mean we should stick together? I am bamboozled!” Saelo shrugged. “What a way to treat mathoms...” Lina noted with disapproval. “Maybe it can be washed,” Aodhfin suggested. “Should we bring it to the Mathom House then? Would serve them right...” said Tibba while Simbo was peeking under her hat and looking for the lost rug. “Let’s go glue Brombard’s Foxtail!” Lina suggested, and off they went.

“I have a bad feeling about this,” Piper said, as they ascended the steep road towards the Mathom House. “Imagine us heading to the mathom house...” Lina muttered. “Things get lost there. Maybe that’s what happened to the rug,” Nimelia suspected. “If it’s lost there, they broke it too, I bet”, Lina commented. “On the other hand, them might have twenty green rugs...” Tibba said hopefully while munching on her snacks. Once inside, Piper was already attacking another Foxtail with a hard stare and questions. Then they saw the pine tree in the corner, and a pumpkin by the fireplace. There was also a slug in a cage. “All yer bits are here including big boxes,” Nannie said to Pycella. “This must be where they make the glue,” Potty said, eyeing the slimy slug. Meanwhile, Piper had progressed from interrogations to the keg inspection. “This must be the crime scene!” Nimelia concluded. “The thief must be here!” Acorne nodded. At this point, many of the hobbits were already helping themselves at the feast table. It had been a hard climb up the hill after all. “That tiny pink oliphaunt looks way too innocent!” Potty said, pointing at the oliphaunt figure on display. Aodhfin headed to the cellar that was full of ale while Simbo got stuck to the slug. Well, at least they had found the source of the glue. Now, they just needed to find the culprit…

 A picture by Aodhfin

Then, Pycella saw a trace of glue leading upstairs. And there he sat, on the staircase, a lad covered in glue. “Woha!” Nimelia exclaimed. “Has he glued himself down?” The lad had labels in his hands. “He’s been a bad lad. They made him sit in the corner,” Piper noted. “Been there many times myself,” he added. Dulcena was feeling bad for the poor glued hobbit. “Perhaps he has glue on his bottom and can’t get up?” Simbo wondered as well. Well, the culprit or not, the lad could not escape Pycella’s questions. She asked him if he knew something about the Michel Delving glue mystery. He sighed. “I knew someone would find out. I meant no harm! It was just an experiment! See. I have always wanted to be a mathom seeker. A famous one. Me and Master Slugwise had a promising future ahead of us.” Pycella looked confused. “Slugwise? The plot thickens!” Nimelia said. “That’s an... interesting name,” Dulcena added. The lad continued. “Yes. I wanted to make him a slug who tracks mathoms! See, the Mathom Society made a few riddles that would lead to particular places in Michel Delving where mathoms were hidden. It was like an initiation, you know.” Nimelia scratched her head. “The Mathom Society looking for the Mathoms they lost, eh?” The lad sighed. “I am not good in riddles, but master Slugwise could sniff them out for me. So with his help, I could discover them mathoms and the places they were hidden in.” Acorne nodded. “I knew that slug was involved.” Lina said: “Initiation, eh? I never knew slugs could sniff…” Saelo sighed. “I will need a two-hours-long bath after this nevertheless.”

Pycella wasn’t finished yet. “There’s this one thing that needs explaining though. You see, a rug disappeared from the Quick Post office. Do you have any idea where it is? Did you glue it somewhere?” The lad blushed crimson: “Well, that’s where things didn’t go so well. See, Master Slugwise has some appetite for old rugs…” For a moment, everyone was as silent as someone had just glued their lips together. Then they started groaning and muttering. “‘s a Minna-slug!” Lina concluded, referring to Minna the Pig at their kin hall, also an animal who liked to eat all old stuff, mostly mathoms. “Invite him for next Friday!” Tibba suggested. “He ate the rug?!” Pycella gasped with horror. The lad smiled nervously. “Yes, he did. That’s when I decided it would be wise to keep him locked out in the Mathom House. Saw that cage in the hall? That’s him inside.” Lina grinned. “Slugwise is not so rugwise, then,” she said. “Maybe if she’s nice to Barmy it’ll only be half-forever?” Nawagrim said comfortingly. “Well, at least I am not stuck yet,” Pycella said, pointing at the lad who was glued to the floor. “Quite forward of you, Pycella!” Nonette agreed. “Poor lad, though. But he deserved all, maybe worse,” Saelo said. “Well, you can always just take off yer pants” said Pycella to the stuck lad and headed back to the hall to scold he slug with her sticky hand.

 A picture by Aodhfin

“Well, technically we found the rug!” Nimelia said as they wandered back downstairs. “Yer think Barmy will approve?” Lina wondered. “Maybe you should have the lad and the slug do the bartending for eternity,” Nonette suggested. Potty inspected the slug in the cage. “Yer think he’s still digestin’?” Saelo pulled out is dagger to threaten the slug, but then realized how silly he looked like. Nawagrim removed his helmet, finally feeling safe to do it. Pycella went to the cage and got into the scolding position, waving her sticky hand. “Master Slugwise! What have you done?! I never thought a slug would lead me to my doom…” Acorne comforted Pycella. “I say make the slug do yer waitressin’!” she said. Saelo shook his head. “Nay, Acorne, I wouldn’t prefer glued tankards,” he said. “But that way ya could hold onto the tankard,” Acorne noted. “Time ter fetch them green dyes, Master Simbo,” Tibba whispered, nodding at one of the Mathom house rugs. “Dastardly slug, you owe us a rug!” Nimelia scolded the rug in the cage. “Maybe we can sell Slugwise to the Quickpost, and buy a rug from the money?” Nimelia wondered. “Oh am sure Miss Ambrinna could find a use fer him,” Nannie agreed. Pycella sighed and looked at the other hobbits. “Well, at least the mystery got solved!” Lina raised a finger: “Half-mystery solved, at least! I still wonder where Potty’s tab is.” Fidgit hopped up. “I know where Potty’s tab is! In his pocketses!” Everyone’s eyes were suddenly on Potty who was wriggling under his hat. “There must be a reason he never wants to remove that hat...” Lina muttered. Gammer sneaked to Potty and peeked under his hat. “No peekin’ under the hat!” Potty shouted, clinging to his hat. “Keep a slug under yer hat, then yer hat won’t fall off!” Fidgit advised.

 A picture by Aodhfin

Luckily for Potty, everyone was feeling a bit peckish, and the fully laden feast table in the hall got their attention. “After all that excitement I feel a bit sluggish,” Demelsa said. “Another job well done by the Bounders I’d say,” Piper said happily, finding himself a good spot at the table. Pycella sighed. “Now I need to waitress at the Dragon for evermore.” Lina smiled. “A happy outcome for all!” she said, adding, “well, for us, at least! Of course, yer will get a couple of weeks off when that belly grows a bit larger.” Pycella rolled her eyes. Potty shrugged. “Barmy doesn’t know what the rug looks like does he? We’ll just bring him another rug!” Nonette patted Pycella on the shoulder. “Someday you’ll find a barter that doesn’t get stolen or eaten!” Pycella smiled. “Well, things could be worse. At least I am not stuck to the floor in the Mathom House! And I can always dodge the waitressing by hosting instead!” Everyone agreed it was much better to be stuck at the Dragon than in the Mathom house. “I’d like to be stuck....in the cellar of the Bird and Baby!” Fidgit said. “If your belly grows very large, I can take over some shifts if you want... Like a few of them, not all of them,” master Aodhfin said. “Now there’s a fine gentlehobbit,” Tibba said, loading her plate. “I’d volunteer to stand in for you on occasion, but I insist on sampling each pint before it goes out,” Nonette said. “Quality control, after all.” Potty looked up from his plate. “We can make the waitressin’ easier! We can order a few beers at once instead of separately!” Pycella beamed. “Yer all so very kind and helpful!” she said. “All in a day’s work, Miss Pycella,” Piper nodded. “Fortunately, the Mathom House has its own Slug Lockholes.”

 A picture by Aodhfin

And so they all sat around the table, discussing the rug case and serving food and drink to poor Pycella who couldn’t use her sticky hands for eating and drinking. She wondered if Miss Almi, her former nanny and a bath lover, would give her a good scrub afterwards. When everyone had had a good share of the food, it was time to dance a bit to Amorey’s lute playing and singing. Everyone did their best to spill drinks and food on the Mathom house rugs. Tibba was leaning over to Nawagrim and explaining about how to feed someone who got glue on their hands. Nawagrim thanked Tibba for her advice and said to Pycella: “Now I can help yer grow yer belly even more!” After a few songs, everyone was starting to feel a bit sluggish. It was time to take a nap! “I need to solve the mystery of my pie,” Simbo said. “It went missing again.” Tibba pulled Simbo’s sleeve. “Don’t forget them green dyes. This rug would look lovely in green.” she said, pointing at a rug on the floor. “100 you wanted, wasn’t it?” Simbo asked. Piper walked to Pycella. “I’m glad the mystery is finally solved. Please let me know if anything else turns up missing. I’ll be happy to search all of the taverns,” he said and waved good-bye. And everyone left the Mathom house and master Slugwise with their bellies full and minds at ease. Expect for Pycella who was bound to have a very thorough bath in near future.

The End.


---- 


Background for this event

I got the idea for this event pretty early, already in December 2019. Miss Ambrinna (our Quickpost lass) milks slugs to make slug glue for the stamps, so I thought maybe there could be a slug-related accident in Michel Delving where the post office was. The original idea was that someone would send a rug to the Dragon as a gift for Barmy, but the rug would disappear on the way. But then, the current (very worn-out) Dragon rug got a good scrub during the Yule days, so a new rug was not really needed. Well, I decided to wait a bit so that the dust would literally settle on the rug and there would be a need for a new one. Then, during the spring, something happened at the Dragon.

I was waitressing during a busy night at the Dragon. There was much chatter and action going on, and I was close to the counter. Suddenly I saw Potty behind the counter, and he grabbed some papers. Ha! I knew it was the tab notes he took. I think no one else saw what he did, as things were quite busy at that moment. Later in the kin chat, Potty wrote that he threw some papers into the fire. The tab was no more! At that moment, the cogwheels started to spin in my head and I came up with the plan described in the above story. So in a way, this adventure was a communal effort. I love how the interactions of others can give inspiration for new events and stories. Even during this adventure, the others contributed how it turned out. For example, I hadn’t thought that the culprit in the Mathom House had actually glued himself to the floor (and he was even in charge for labels, according to his own NPC talk)! That notion came from the other participants.

Thank you all for taking part in this adventure! It might have been a bit chaotic and it was sometimes hard to herd 19 hobbits, but I hope everyone had fun. Oh, and now I don’t have to make up more excuses why I am waitressing at the Dragon. I like the waitressing part (even though my roleplaying might make you think otherwise), as much as I love hosting the Dragon. Of course, if anyone else would like to do some waitressing at the inn, please have a go! It is a nice way to liven things up a bit.

Thursday 9 January 2020

Pouncella's Song


When I was born, I was born to pounce
To reach the skies that lie so high above
I can’t just go walking, it’s sooo very boring
So when I am out, I pounce like I am soaring

When I worked at the Post, things went all wrong
The ales I delivered all turned into foam
I guess it’s because I pounce all the time
It might get messy, but it’s not a real crime
How I love to pounce
I don’t care if the others think I am daft
I just love to pounce
I will do it until I am all wrinkles and old

When I worked at the Dragon, as a waitress
All my duties ended up in a huge mess
Pouncing inside is quite a talent
It’s something that I never have learnt
I tried my best at the Hobbiton fields
But I pounced them veggies into mushy squeeze
I wonder if there’s a fitting job for me
A reckless lass who likes to pounce free
How I love to pounce
I don’t care if the others think I am daft
I just love to pounce
I will do it until I am all wrinkles and old

But then again, after all these past mishaps
I don’t really mind my dear obsession to pounce
When all I’ve angered chase you all around
I can escape, thanks to my pounce
How I love to pounce
I don’t care if the others think I am daft
I just love to pounce
I will do it until I am all wrinkles and old
I will do it until I am all wrinkles and old



About the song

If you ever see a pouncing lass in the Shire, that's probably me! I don't know why, but for some reason I love to pounce almost all the time. The following song has been inspired by this obsession of mine. It is best sung to a tune by Arcade Fire: Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains).

 

Arcade Fire – Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

Thursday 7 November 2019

The collective Yule calendar entry for 2019: show us your Yule food!


Last year, we put together a slide show of Yule tree pictures sent by members of the LOTRO community. The result was very lovely and atmospheric. So it would be nice to make a similar slide show this year as well... with Yule food!

Please send a picture of a Yule food/meal/feast. It can be an old picture from a previous Yule. Please make sure that the picture is taken/owned by you, and/or you have rights to use it. You can tell where the picture has been taken (state/country), so that we can add it to the slide show. It is always nice to see how widely spread the community is!

Please send your Yule food pictures to Pycella by Quickpost to pycellawoodberry(a)gmail.com on 15th December at the latest.

(EDIT: The deadline for sending the pictures has been extended.)