Sing to tune of Beverly Hill-Billies:
Oh, I’m a –tellin’ you a story ‘bout a silly ole Dick
Klutzy ole fart, often went by ‘Rich’ or ‘Rick’
Last week he went a-fishin’, to bring his kin some grub
Then, down the hill he rolled and landed in a shrub!
Prickly, that is – broke his pole.
Stubbed his toe. Strained his back.
When he got up, clutching pail and tackle box
His young pal Zeb was squatting on his hocks,
Havin’ a good chuckle, while Richard tripped again
This time landed in the river, the ole fart couldn’t win!
Bad day- no fish.
Klutzy man – what next?
Wal, this week ole Rick thought he’d reno. the bathroom
Makin’ two rooms into one seemed like the thing to do.
But while up on the ladder, he slipped and then went SPLAT
Right into slippery poop that was left there by the cat…
Silly man – big ole goof…….
Can’t stay upright. No how.
So this week’s posting for the Blue Bell Mountain Blog
Is all about a man who functions in a mountain fog
Next thing ya know, ole Rick is soakin’ wet,
Or standin’ in some shit that was left there by his pet!
It’s the Appalachian Antic-killies!
Richard is a dichotomy. Pippi is both procrastinator, and perfectionist. When I first met him, we’d planned, because of our mutual love of renovating, decorating and wood-working, to do a series of fixer-uppers and flip them. We did ONE. And I had to take a year-long break in Scotland to force the final stages out of him at that! We DO, as you can see on Rural Revivals’ Renos. web-site ( http://rusticrevivals.wixsite.com/ruralrevivals) still harbour hopes of designing and re-doing small country spaces as a part-time hobby, but for the most part we are just concentrating on Blue Belldon Farm. This is because Richard takes 3 times the amount of time needed to do any job/project. Mind you, when they are done, they are done very, very well…
The same can be said for the Dutch Door. Since looking to rent a property in Burnsall Bridge when I first taught in England in 1997, I have harboured dreams of having a Dutch Door in my kitchen the top of which can be thrown open to the rolling meadows and daisy-butterfly summer morns. Perhaps it even goes back further, to when I was 13 and my grandfather McKenzie and I built a small, red, two-stall stable for my pony. He had Dutch doors on it, but with the “X”s facing IN, to which I always objected, as that wasn’t what it looked like in any photos I saw of horses looking over their stable doors! They were made out of quite flimsy plywood, too, and as I progressed from pony to horse, they used to get kicked off in the long cold winters when my poor beasties were bored to death.
When I had my own riding stable in the Ottawa Valley, from 1988-1996, I made sure we had the “X”s facing OUT and that they were a lot stronger to hold the horses in, and the bad weather OUT! They were lovely:
Goldcreek Farm’s Overture with me, age 26. Behind, the “Dutch” stable doors.
Then, I moved to England to teach high school. It was in inner city Leeds, and I knew I’d need to live in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales to compensate for that, so I looked at 3 places to rent about an hour’s bus-ride out. One was in the gorgeous Burnsall Bridge, to which I’ve since returned many, many times . The cottage had a little blue stable door in its kitchen and that was in 1997, and I’ve dreamed of having one ever since!
So now, at Blue Belldon, the Dutch Door Dream begins. I imagined, even by Richard’s m.o. and standards, it would take about 10 days. I mean, it’s only a DOOR, for Gosh sakes! ………It’s been just over 6 weeks.
If you’re interested in the whole process (ie: you or someone you know will make you one), click on each photo to read caption. Otherwise, continue scrolling down!
Many people call Richard ‘Pippi’. While I’ve yet to see him prancing about in red plaits and striped socks, the name does seem to suit him in other ways. Given to him by his sons, instead of “Pappy”, he now looks very much like an Appalachian ‘Pop’ as he set out on his first fishing adventure the other evening. He hasn’t been fishing in over 3 decades! He went down to the Salmon River, but walked onward until he found where it flows into the Saint John River. Thus, from starting out on a chair, he ended up – well, you’ll see. He had a great time, despite not catching anything for our freezer. I warned him that worms are better than his 30-year-old favoured lures. But tomorrow morning he strikes off with our young neighbour, his good friend ‘Zeb’. And Zeb’s bringing the worms! They’ll be going to one of Zeb’s favourite fishing holes, too… a mystery that may not be allowed to be publicly revealed, but their escapades certainly will be! And no doubt he’ll be sharing all kinds of Lore that has nothing to do with truth, but will amuse us all the same!
Ah, my very own Huck Finn!
Having personally hand-picked and invited over 100 artists to take part in both the annual Carlisle Country Craft and Old-fashioned Market Mercantile as well as the Rural Creators’ Collective (the 1st and premiere Artists in the Attic!) I feel as though I want to keep up the momentum of promoting others who have a passion for the rural traditions and spirit of our ancestors as I do…
Tara Patey, On A Branch Soaps, Burlington, ON
A lovely woman I feel proud to have called my friend and colleague for many years now is being featured along with the Rustic Restroom Renovation posted a few days ago. It only makes sense to feature Tara Patey’s On A Branch Soaps in relation to the bathroom being finished, as I ordered 3 of our favourites from her, which also match the gold and grey (barnboard) décor of the new laundry/bath area. And they look fabulous in there! (see end of this posting)
Tara has been a stalwart and loyal artist of my Carlisle Country Craft and Old-fashioned Market Mercantile pioneer show in Ontario, has helped with extra committee work for both it and the Rural Creators’ Collective retails shop, and won one of the “Best Vendors” awards at the 2012 show both for her dedication to the theme of the show and for her booth set-up. She also had, in my opinion, one of the best-designed areas in the retail shop, as well!
Tara’s On a Branch Soaps are hand crafted in small batches using a traditional soap making process. Only natural essential oils are used to scent the soaps rather than synthetic fragrance oils. Clays, herbs and botanicals are added to the soaps that not only beautify it but also enhance the skin-loving qualities of the soap. All skin care products such as lip butters, facial oils and moisturizers are oil based and do not require the use of chemical preservatives and stabilizers. The three soaps I recently purchased were: her “Clean Sweep” with coconut oil, castor oil, sweet almond oil, rice bran oil, water, sodium hydroxide, australian black clay, essential oils, organic shea butter. This has the wonderful grey colour I wanted… Also, her “Bee’s Knees” (gotta love Tara’s quirky punny names, too!) with olive oil, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, castor oil, rice bran oil, organic carrot juice, sodium hydroxide, local ontario honey. And her “Penelope”, with olive oil, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, castor oil, rice bran oil, essential oils, cocoa powder, and rhassoul clay. Richard’s favourite is her “Tiger Tail” which smells and looks like Tiger Tail ice-cream and emanates the most marvelous smell of black licorice. He’ll probably receive another bundle of it for his X-mas gift again this year.
Tara also kindly sent along a bottle of her “Ray of Sunshine” liquid soap, which certainly makes it easier for Richard’s greasy hands to keep off the pretty bars ! I have always loved Tara’s On A Branch name, and her little bird. Here’s what she says about that:
“After a curing period of 4 weeks, each bar of soap is wrapped in decorative, recyclable paper and hand stamped with my blue bird of happiness. The decorative paper means the soap is ready for gift giving as is. The little blue bird ensures that each bar of soap is ready for use. Since I designed the bird and hand carved the stamp I use, each bar of soap truly is an expression of the artisan who made the soap.”
I hope anyone reading this blog will purchase a selection of Tara’s great On A Branch products. She also has balms, lip butters, deodorants, insect repellants and much more. See her etsy site to purchase, (below). Her prices are unbelievably reasonable considering the work involved, and she has a great offer for 3 soaps for the price of only 12.50 (u.s.d.). Tara’s background is eloquently described here, in her own words:
‘It all began when I was 5 years old, making mud pies on the side of our dirt road in Newfoundland. It continued when I was 7 years old, to the great delight of my mom, by mixing her various cosmetics and toiletries together in the bathroom of the two storey house built by my grandfather. A seed was planted in my 21 year old brain by the discovery of an old soap making book found in a used bookstore in Guelph, Ontario. The confidence to mix the various ingredients required to make soap was gained from a degree in applied chemistry and biology. Many years later, inspiration was found from spending my days with two young boys that make me laugh, from the books that have been my companions since childhood and from stepping outside my front door.”
Befores of the laundry-room side. We’re knocking a hole through the closet to the powder room side to make it one big, light laundry/bathroom.
Before Richard left in May for two months, I had him rip out the cupboards (which were put upstairs on the floor for Joy’s kitchen cupboards/counter). The sink was also put upstairs by a plumber for Mom’s kitchen sink, and the cupboard part of it was put in the basement by the window for my Rustic Revivals workbench area. Reuse, Recycle, Reduce!
The interior colour of the cupboards was very nearly the shade of gold I wanted to mix with barnboard and greys to decorate our new luxurious ‘Western’-style country oasis. And as Richard had already purchased stackable grey washer/dryer, this was all falling into my head’s vision quite nicely, right down to maintaining the integrity of one of the historical colours! I bought the kind of paint I actually despise – thick glossy oil paint. But I needed that for the tub, and I knew it would have to be strong to paint right over the old wallpaper. It worked really well, and actually the ‘sheen’ on the paint, whilst I hate it in other rooms, actually is fitting in a bathroom, and gives a nice contrast to the rugged barnboard and weathered panels/tables/cupboards.
So – here’s the bathroom from the doorway:
I had already had the contractors, when they were putting a door in for Mom, lower the window so that I’d be able to sit in my clawfoot and look out at the garden. I bought the clawfoot from a kijiji ad and it came with the original taps, so all we had to do was get the plumber to install. I cleaned the porcelain with some vinegar and just a touch of baking soda, and though it had been sitting outside for more than a year, it came up a treat. I’ve since purchased a gold mat that highlights all the gold better:
I used 2 old tin ceiling tiles I’ve carted around with me for about 15 years, just waiting for ‘that special project’, as a sort-of backsplash behind the tub, and I framed in the window that the contractors had just left ‘open’ to the studs with tobacco slats from Tillsonburg. These came from my Mom’s friend Kathleen’s barn, a barn I passed twice every weekday of my 5 years of high school (I did Grade 13, I didn’t flunk a year! ). Who’d have thought all those days of sitting on the school bus staring at that barn that I’d one day have pieces of it in a farmhouse in New Brunswick nearly 40 years later? The old ladder is one both Richard and Mom wanted me to NOT move all the way out here, but I already had this use for it in mind, as it’s actually a ‘fad’ right now. The barnboard cupboard was purchased at my show, the Carlisle Country Craft and Old-fashioned Market Mercantile pioneer show which I organized and ran for 3 years in Ontario. The rolled towels are in baskets on a quilt rack that happens to have parallel racks rather than staggered, so it works well for this.
I hung the two barnboard panels (the one shown above covers a huge gap in the wall where the window once was, so it was a quick and easy solve to THAT problem!) that my uncle had once put on a burn pile from an old crate he’d ripped open. Of course I had to rescue them and lug them along out to N.B. as well. And the tub needed a table top (fits my lap-top if I want to feel ‘modern’) so I just did some adjustments with more tobacco slats.
The cheese boxes are from my Great-Aunt Ila who had multi-coloured them and hung them on her walls for containers for all the wool she used to dye and spin. I had put them back to ‘original’ and applied replicated labels of Ontario Cheese some years ago for the Carlisle pioneer show. The basket and book-ends are products on sale by Rustic Revivals (if I ever get back to doing retail). On the wall is a poem I calligraphied about the reasons (in the Because Why category on this blog as well) we called the farm Blue Belldon.
I love the light and airy feel in this room now, and the shelf above shows off some of my grandfathers’ pewter collection and silver trophies from his tennis and rowing days (fitting for a bathroom, I thought!) Eventually, like all the rooms, we’d like to redo the ceiling and floor back to something original or with salvaged wood, but I don’t envision this anytime soon.
I love filling jars with sea-shells, starfish, real sponge and sand in bathrooms – this canister is actually filled with a more golden corn-meal on the bottom, just to bring out the touches of gold more! The dress is a primitive made by me for more retail of Rustic Revivals.
On the powder room side, which will eventually have to match the bath/laundry side, I needed something to tie in the golds. There was already an ugly, chipboard floor model from Home Hardward for the sink/cupboard, and as it was brand new I knew I wouldn’t be able to just ‘get rid of it’. So I distressed it in various ways and made more stencils and old-fashioned it up a bit. More photos of the powder room side will be forthcoming over the winter. I also put out old galvanized metal buckets for garbage pails, and bought some cute wooden (already gold!) sea-horse magnets for them, and to put on the washing machine/dryer.
Lastly, I ordered grey and gold (made with ashes and beeswax!) natural soaps from my friend Tara Patey’s On A Branch Soap company. I’ll be featuring her next in my Artists in the Attic category on this blog, so keep an eye out for that as a bonus extra this week. I’d post a photo of myself in the tub to finish off this blog, but no one needs to be subjected to that kind of trauma, so I’ll just finish with this cute cartoon:
As many of you know, Richard met me in the tack store when he came in to buy cowboy hat , so this is very fitting, I think!