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My great-aunt is one of those stuffy old ladies whose house looks like it was transported intact from the 1950s. It always smells a little like mothballs, and the amount of framed embroideries and cross-stitch on the walls makes it difficult to determine the pattern on the faded wallpaper.

She's a nice enough person, but not exactly the most scintillating conversationalist, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, she's been trying for years to get me to come to her house for a visit, but I've always "unfortunately" had something else scheduled whenever she tries to make a date. I'm sure she's figured out by now that I'm brushing her off, but she doggedly keeps trying.

She recently learned that I'm a big puzzle fan, and shortly thereafter, the following email appeared in my inbox:

From: Great Aunt Edna
To: GentlePurpleRain
Subject: Won't you join me for tea?

My dear great-nephew. You have avoided me long enough. Please solve the following, and then we can discuss it when you come to visit.

Much love, Aunt Edna

FU DD IR RH
EH NF UR LE
2M TH UL MN
NX SS DN NR
S2 ½½ MT

She just cornered me at the latest family gathering with a calendar and made me pick a date and time to get together. Can you help me solve the puzzle so that we at least have something in common to discuss when we meet?


Notes/Hints

  • Yes, I am aware of Code Puzzles: What (Not) To Do?
  • Yes, I tagged this puzzle correctly. No additional tags are needed.
  • The story is 99% flavourtext. There are a few small hints as to the content of the message, but nothing that will help you solve the puzzle.

EDIT: I fear that I may have misled people by declaring that "no additional tags are needed." When I wrote that, I was thinking mostly of the tag, which does not apply here. There is one tag that I considered adding, but, getting a little pedantic, I felt that it didn't directly apply. It probably would, however, give a lot of clues as to the solution of the puzzle. Since there has been little progress as yet, I will mention it here: This puzzle doesn't fit the tag, according to the tag description, but it certainly does employ certain similar methods.


Hint

The spaces are entirely irrelevant to the puzzle. They only serve to structure it a little more nicely. Try munging all the letters together and see if that helps at all.

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  • $\begingroup$ Intrigued. For those who missed it, there's a rhyme tag here with no obvious rhymes (yet!). Also english and letters tags. $\endgroup$ – Dan Russell Oct 17 '16 at 19:32
  • $\begingroup$ Hm, those ½s are very suspicious... $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Oct 17 '16 at 19:51
  • $\begingroup$ What's suspicious with the rhyme tag is that it came after the hint "Yes, I tagged this puzzle correctly. No additional tags are needed." was already present in the puzzle. $\endgroup$ – hvd Oct 17 '16 at 21:06
  • $\begingroup$ @hvd Don't dwell on that too much. It's there because the solution rhymes. I hadn't thought to put it in at first, and it certainly isn't needed. $\endgroup$ – GentlePurpleRain Oct 17 '16 at 21:12
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I can make a reasonable sentence fragment by making two words out of the first block and one word out of the second+third blocks. Similar approaches give valid sensible fragments with later letters. I'm not able to turn the fragments into complete sentences and I have no idea if I'm on completely the wrong track, but if not, this may help someone else. $\endgroup$ – hvd Oct 23 '16 at 13:44
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Continuing form @TwoBitOperation's work:

Put all

characters into a long string, then read the letters phonetically, pluralizing where appropriate (DD=deez, RR=arz).

FUDDIRRHEHNFURLE2MTHULMNNXSSDNNRS2½½MT

Aunt Edna is telling you, in rhyme,

FUDDIRRHEHN
If you desire satiation,

FURLE2MT
If you are really too empty,

HULMNNXSS
Eschew all immense excesses;

DNNRS2½½MT
The answer is to have some tea.

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  • $\begingroup$ Very close. I'll give you the third line, because it was the weakest, and I don't expect you to get it from context. $\endgroup$ – GentlePurpleRain Oct 27 '16 at 3:15
  • $\begingroup$ @GentlePurpleRain Ah! I had immense (and excesses) at various points, but never connected to eschew. Cleverly done. $\endgroup$ – Dan Russell Oct 27 '16 at 3:20
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    $\begingroup$ @GentlePurpleRain And good luck with Aunt Edna! Looks like you guys could play some Mad Gab and have a good time after all. ;) $\endgroup$ – Dan Russell Oct 27 '16 at 3:26
  • $\begingroup$ Nice work! I hope you sounded as weird as I did repeatedly saying these letters out loud. $\endgroup$ – TwoBitOperation Oct 27 '16 at 13:59
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    $\begingroup$ @TwoBitOperation Totally. My wife walked in at one point when I was mumbling and trying to vary the emphasis on the third line: "hUlmnnXSs", "HulMnnXSS", "hULmNNxSx"... Then she walked out. $\endgroup$ – Dan Russell Oct 27 '16 at 14:02
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OK, the trick seems to be:

Read each letter phonetically (F = "eff"). When there are two of the same letters in a row, read it as a plural (DD = "Dees"). Pronouncing it this way leads to the message.


Partial, nonsensical answer for others to work off of, or to be edited as I get more:


If you desire sage
Each and if you are LE
To empty a jewel, a man's
Excesses, the answer
is two halves empty

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  • $\begingroup$ Right idea, but the solution is far from correct. The correct solution is not nonsensical. $\endgroup$ – GentlePurpleRain Oct 26 '16 at 20:09
  • $\begingroup$ I know what I have is incomplete, but I wanted to jumpstart others on finding the answer. Can you tell me if my method is correct, and my issue is just in the parsing, or if there are other rules I'm missing? $\endgroup$ – TwoBitOperation Oct 26 '16 at 20:15
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, your method is correct. The issue is just the parsing. $\endgroup$ – GentlePurpleRain Oct 26 '16 at 20:24
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    $\begingroup$ I started down this path also, but after the first doublet I was like "FU2" and quit. $\endgroup$ – Dan Russell Oct 27 '16 at 1:05

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