How much chuck could a woodchuck chuck?

How much ‘chuck’? ‘Chock’? How much wood, would he? Could he?

I always thought that the chuck a woodchuck (groundhog)  might chuck (if he could) was referring to FOOD. You know, like a ‘chuckwagon’ was where they prepared and carried the food for the lines of pioneers heading west…  But apparently, the chuck referred to in this instance is actually a ‘block of wood’. Which makes more sense, I suppose.

As we’ll be hearing a lot about groundhogs in the next few days, as well, this seems a fitting title to this blog posting in more ways than one.  Richard has been working hard all of January to start getting in our supply of wood for next year.  He’s just starting with deadfall that haven’t started to rot yet, and as we eventually want a few trails through the woods, he’s so far been sticking to where we want the trail to ‘meander’.  So, on both his new snowshoes and his skiis, and with both borrowed and newly-purchased toboggans, we have been carting wood back and forth from the back woodlot to the front of our barn, where he’s then been splitting it.

While we want to be eco-friendly (and plan to replant as much as we take out) and while there has been much discussion of late about ’emissions’ from woodstoves across the world ( Nick Waddell states ” Across the country, the burning of wood for heat is under fire. In Montreal, it is already illegal to install a new wood burning stove, except for those that use energy efficient wood pellets, like the ones that have caught on in parts of Europe)  Paris DID reverse its ban on woodstoves, when it was proved that the fine-particle emissions were NOT as high as had originally been thought.  New Brunswick is 85% forest, and with the present horror of fossil fuels and fights over the pipelines ruining what remains of clean water in the world, DRY HARDWOOD is still one of the more eco-friendly ways to heat.  Someday, perhaps, we’ll be able to heat entirely with solar, somehow, but for now – it’s wood from our woodlot!

Our wood furnace, as you might remember from this earlier photo is connected to hot water pipes, which connect into radiators that are on the baseboards of most of the rooms at Blue Belldon Farm.  (Of course, we have a back-up oil furnace that ALSO heats those water pipes, but we’ve only used less than 1/2 a tank of oil all year, compared to going through 5 tanks of propane last year in Ontario with a very similar radiator system.  SURELY that’s better for the environment!  It certainly is better for pocketbook!)

our wood furnace, kept burning day and night!

Of course, with the gigantic  wind and freezing rain storm all of N.B. had this week, many were without power. We only lost ours for four hours – from 1 to 5 a.m., so were very lucky, as there are some near Moncton and along the ocean who have been without for 5 days now!  This system of ours wouldn’t heat the house without electricity, as it has to be pumped into the pipes. We’re hoping to have this rectified soon with a battery or outside generator, but during this week’s storm we simply kept the furnace fire going, and also built one in the living room fireplace, which has the best ‘pull’ up the chimney of any of the old houses in which I’ve ever lived ( a lot!). And the temp of the living room is kept at LEAST 10 degrees warmer with just the simple lighting of that fire, although most fireplaces LOSE heat rather than offering it… we are LUCKY with the care and engineering that went in to this particular fireplace!

To remind you, here is the back room (living room) fireplace that actually DOES heat the room, unlike so many!~ Richard and Smitty at Christmas

Our radiator system does not look like the radiators I had growing up, or which I had in a lot of cottages in which I resided while in the U.K. They were big monsters, made lots of clunking and noise, and when they were ‘bled’, they could spew some nasty things out at you in a forceful stream:

The radiators in my bedroom, and most of the rest of the house my grandparents built, and in which we all lived, weren’t the ornately decorative Victorian ones you sometimes see. They just were enormous and essentially ugly,  and took up a lot of space (although awfully handy to hang wet clothes on, or towels you’d like warm for after your bath, admittedly! )4

While these are now considered ‘vintagely trendy’ and are collectors’ items, apparently, I prefer our more subtle baseboard radiators, that look almost like electric, if you look at them at all!


Dense hardwoods like maple, oak, birch and cherry are some of the better woods for heating. The best hardwoods in these parts for wood are maple, birch and beech. We seem to have a lot of beech in our woods, reminiscent of my favourite woodland walks in England, so I really don’t want to lose our beech! (When I worked as a guide for the provincial parks system in the early 1990s, my supervisor pointed out that the best way to recognize a beech tree was that its trunk looks just like an elephant’s leg. I’ve never forgotten that simple tip!4

Richard’s brother from Saint John works as an engineer on the big ships down there, and he gave my mountain man one of his old “snowsuits” (what do you call them on an adult?)  Whilst the colour goes against every fibre of my being (I believe you should wear clothes that fit INTO Nature, not make you an objectionable embellishment on the horizon), they WERE free, and you know how accident prone Richard is – although we are always joined by walkie-talkie, he might still need that bright orange on someday, not just for me to find him but, God forbid, the medi-vac helicopters!

Above – First Richard snowshoes out the 1/4 mile or so to our forest (behind the barn). He drags his tools with him, and although we have since bought a bigger, sturdier sled with taller sides, this borrowed one did the trick!  He has to shovel some of the deadfall out first to access it!

Then, above, Richard cuts the tree into large log shapes, and moves all the way along the tree.  Those logs are then piled two or three at a time, and bless him, he hauls them on toboggan all the way back to the barnyard/driveway. Now, we’ve always planned to have a draft cross to help just pull the logs out, so that R. can do all the cutting near the house, too.  We are presently looking at this guy-  Percheron cross, which I’ve owned before, and already trained to the task:


But for now, Richard must be his own woodchucker.  The next stage is to split all the logs, and some of them are MAJORLY thick buggers:


This was the best of all the action shots I took showing the power you need to get into. the middle of these. These logs are, of course, always easier to split in very cold temperatures, and we do have a small electric wood splitter (that only works in WARMER temperatures) so it’s been trial and error every day to see which kind of splitting would be done, depending on the weather and the thermometer!


Once Richard can get these split in two, the splitting into smaller, burnable pieces is easier.  And Smitty is almost always on hand to help, if he isn’t busy chasing ski-dooers off our land!



And then, after several proud days in the bush, and 3 already-fallen, but not-yet rotting trees, Richard proudly shows off his trailer-full of our OWN wood, which will be left inside the barn to dry out for next winter’s heating, which our two mothers helped to stack in the basement for us!  (ages 76 and 78!)




This, folks, is self-sufficient living at its best.  Makes a person feel ‘down-right proud’!

And, in our woods, with Rasmussen Brook trickling along below, (despite minus 20 temperatures some days,) and glinting in the  bright sunshine, the peaceful hush of a winter’s afternoon (when the chainsaw is turned off!) at Blue Belldon Farm is muchly appreciated!  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If you haven’t heard Richard do his chainsaw impression, by the way, it’s worth a listen. One is the priming and warm-up, and the other is the actual ‘cutting’. He doesn’t have enough breath left in him to do the whole production in one go anymore, apparently!

And, to return to ‘woodchucks’ – since Groundhog Day is only a few days away, if you haven’t seen one of my favourite British clips, you may want to see this young lad calling “Alan”.  But, since Alan isn’t responding, maybe it’s “Steve”.

It’s part of this hilarious series – check out all the episodes if you laughed, and ENJOY!



How To Decorate with Days of Yore Drugs/Diseases ????

Well, that title sounds crazy, right? Why would anyone want THAT sort of thing decorating their home?

But many of you will know about the 3-year run of the Carlisle Country Craft and Old-fashioned Market Mercantile that I organized and ran each August, in Ontario.  One of the top-stops for our visitors was the Apothecary display I did, using old (and in some cases, new) bottles with labels I printed off from the internet and mod-podged on, then filled with coloured water  This is part of the overall display behind an old window so the public couldn’t ‘play’ with the many items and using, as well as the bottles, some pottery jugs and tiny tins and a cupboard system made by my Great Aunt Jessie on which I painted some herb names:


The bottles above don’t have the labels attached, yet – you’ll see how those look shortly, and how easy to do them…  But if you want an old-fashioned country kitchen or bathroom for no cost at all, one of the simplest ways is to hang your own herbs and dried flowers, immediately adding a cozy ‘Cadfael’ cottage kind of feel.

I have mine hanging from a wooden rack and the only beam in the kitchen.  Some of them are just decorative at the moment, but some, like the dill and the lavender, I use weekly.  I will be doing a post on how to make tinctures, and spices from these dried stems in a few weeks.  The next step for decorating both kitchen and bathrooms (and in a few cases, bedrooms, for a romantic feel!) is to do the bottles.  Being the grand-daughter of two men who were both collectors (one grandfather collected snuff boxes, cigarette cases and calling card cases, the other collected more primitive vessels like moonshine jugs, urns, and glass bottles) I have chosen some of the most interesting vignettes around Blue Belldon’s farmhouse to show here.

To the left, the hand-embroidered  ‘sampler’  is from my friend Anne.  It says, in tongue-in-cheek manner- “PLEASE Fuck Off”  When I need to, I hold it up to Richard’s face so he realizes I might be at my breaking point, stress-wise – usually when the cat is throwing up, the dog is whining, the bread is burning, and the husband WANTS something he can’t find, all at the same instance.   It’s a durn-handy tool! Thanks, Anne! 

Because, in true country fashion, I took off some kitchen doors and had them as open shelves (left, above)  and for the others, I personally (and yes, wonkily!) cut out the old cupboard doors for glass to be fitted, it is important to me that I have an interesting assortment of ‘displays’ to put BEHIND the glass! Never mind that crowds of people (or even 1 !) are not going through my kitchen weekly to view these displays, I ENJOY LOOKING AT THEM MYSELF!  So all the various bottles and vessels I put together for the big apothecary display at the shows are now divided up all over the kitchen – I gave a  little preview of this last week when I discussed my 9 days in bed, and how I kept passing the big pine hutch and looking at some of those vignettes of Days of Yore, designed to make folk feel better, in what today, is a completely unhealthy and illegal way!  Note: if you missed the whole kitchen make-over, with lots of before and afters, and some how-tos on paint techniques to make things look older than the icky 1970s, see the post here:

Brain Salt, Soda Pop and Pop-Corn!

Behind that particular glass, you’ll see the above, with jars from Christine Aiken (a Hamilton, ON artist who creates natural beauty with her Stones of Time). Her late husband Dave was also a collector of bottles and jars, and she kindly gave some to me before we moved to N.B.  I love the rusty tops, most especially!  I put the two labels on, from some I ran off ( again, the how-to is later).  Now, lets talk for a minute about the Days of Yore’s solution to what the brain needed – ie: stimulants. ie: Caffeine and COCAINE.

Of course, most people know that Cocoa-cola got its name because it was full of just that – caffeine from the cocoa plant and cocaine!  Here’s a delightful ad for the beverage, circa 1890:


Well, I don’t think it’s any wonder that it ‘relieves physical and mental exhaustion’!  Any stimulant is ‘great for the brain’ – for a few hours, at least.  And a few of those, and you’re addicted and needed another one anyway!  Coca-Cola contained an estimated 9 milligrams of cocaine per glass. After 1904, the company started using leftovers of the cocaine-extraction process, instead of fresh leaves.  It was generally advertised as “A valuable brain tonic, and a cure for all nervous affections — sick head-ache, neuralgia, hysteria, melancholy.”


Of course, one of the most common cures was to give it to children for toothache – they even gave it to teething babies!  And because the pharmaceutical companies didn’t understand the potency of cocaine, or the addictive qualities, the would proudly advertise their use of it!  Cocaine toothache drops (c. 1885) were popular for children.
Not only would the medicine numb the pain, but it could also put the user in a “better” mood. Sadly, many younger children died from this addiction, often with other conditions being misdiagnosed as the culprit.


The above ad is one of the most hilarious (and sad) of any I’ve seen. Essentially, if you have an alcoholic in the house, cure him/her by getting them addicted to cocaine instead!  “If any drunkard drinks copius amounts of this cocaine syrup (the ‘weak grapes’ it’s mixed with, being of course WINE), THEY WILL ALMOST INSTANTLY LOSE THEIR NEED AND WANT OF ALCOHOL AND WILL GAIN A NEW WANT FOR LIFE AND FUN”.   hmmm – well, for a while, anyway!  In 1865 Vin Mariani  was the leading Coca Wine of its time.
Pope Leo XIII purportedly carried a hip-flask of it with him, and awarded a Vatican gold medal to its creator, Angelo Mariani. And of course, Arthur Conan Doyle famously made his great detective addicted to the stuff, one of the reasons why his behaviour was often so erratic (yet possibly why he could think so very clearly at times?)

And, in one of the first instances of artists using drugs to enhance their performance (albeit unknowingly in most instances), cocaine-containing throat lozenges  were “indispensable for singers, teachers, and orators.” In addition to quieting a sore throat, these lozenges provided the “pick-me-up” to keep these professionals performing at their peak.

Here’s a couple of the labels I applied to old bottles.  Take too much cocaine, and you’re definitely going to need the other two pictured here!


Opium, was of course one of the primary and most popular of the ‘natural’ drugs from as far back as the 1400s up to the early 1900s.  From the poppy-seed pod, such famous people as Florence Nightingale, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, Mary and Percy Shelley and no doubt their pal, Lord Byron, Ben Franklin, and John Keats are just a few of the imaginative minds who used the ‘medicine’. Paregoric and Laudanum (mixtures of opium and alcohol) were distributed much like the spices. Doses for infants, children, and adults are given on the bottles. It was freely prescribed by doctors and even available at grocery stores. Chinese laborers had brought the practice of opium smoking to the West during the mid-nineteenth century and opium was often given to women to treat menstrual cramps . “Smoking” opium  was done without benefit of the infamous opium dens and their paraphernalia.  It could simply be put in a pan and heated by a small kerosene lamp!

Here are two of the most humourous ads for opium:


Elixir of Opium became extremely popular in the United States once the A. B. & D. Sands drug company bought the recipe in 1841 and proudly pro-claimed that it was “non-habit forming.” McMunn’s Elixir of Opium was touted as a cure for “convulsions and spasmodic action,” as well as “pain and irritation, nervous excitement and morbid irritability of body and mind.” Morbid irritability? Just put me to SLEEP!  So many women who suffered from severe PMS (and who were once burned as witches due to their mood swings) were offered this as a ‘cure’.  It really just meant their hubbies could continue on with their fun while their poor wives were dead to the world.

And speaking of dead – it was also prescribed to children, like the cocaine was—“To a child a month old, or younger, give from half a drop to two drops; to a child 6 months old, from 3 to 10 drops…”—This naturally led to a rash of infant deaths. An infamous case from New York in 1875 described a young child who had worms being dosed with “15-20 drops every hour” in an effort to “cause the worms which were supposed to be in the child’s stomach, to have a good sleep.” Instead, as a local newspaper reported, “The little fellow was at play in the morning as ever and at 11 at night was a corpse.”

Here’s my collection of bottles with labels that had some form of opium.

The golf ball is a real cure, too – if your feet, ankles or knees are a problem, step on it hard and roll it around for a bit of drug-free shiatsu!

Mixed in among my own spices and dried herbs in my pigeon holes are the cannabis-based bottles. While morphine, heroin, chlorodyne, and a mixture of them called “Commotion Lotion”  were also popularly-prescribed drugs in our ancestors’ time, good old cannabis has always been one of the least harmful:


For decorating and display purposes, if not using a coloured water for a liquid, I would just colour baby powder or flour like in the corked bottles above.

I especially enjoy, for purposes of decorating and cheering myself up (esp. if that darned red geranium in my kitchen window isn’t in bloom!) putting a little bit of colour in the kitchen or bathroom window sills, either with empty coloured bottles,  or some lovely dried flower or herb stems in oils, that I make up myself:

See again how various forms of ‘medicine’ (really nothing more than high-proof alcohol) suggest OVERDOSING on the stuff, for full benefits! Yup, 4 small wineglasses of any alcohol 4 times a day will make the average person feel better able to ‘get on’ with life! (Me, I just use my embroidered sampler from Anne!)

Other vessel collections also add to the grace and authenticity of any country home.  Use the trendy ‘bowl-fillers’ to put in baskets or old bowls ( bathroom basket with twig handle hand-made by Rustic Revivals, with tobacco slats compliments of my cousins Pete and Linda Baxter, and available on etsy) :


Other vessels and filler ideas include: (click to enlarge and read caption if you wish ideas)

And other vessels that can be collected cheaply (now-a-days, those crocks USED to be worth a small fortune!) and used to decorate your country home, reminiscent of the days they were used for yet more “medicinal remedies”! ( Click on each circle to enlarge and to read caption if you wish more ideas for country decorating that costs nothing! )

Now, for those that really like the idea of putting a replicated apothecary on display somewhere in their house (you don’t need pigeon holes or multiple tiny drawers or shelves, although those are great for this purpose – you just need a window-sill or dark shelf you want to brighten!)  READ ON:


Once you have a collection of various size bottles, clean them up as best you can. I’ve had to leave some corks inside, and then use other corks (saved from wine-drinkers in the family) and whittle down one end so they fit!  Other ideas for bottles which work equally well are just sets of spice bottles, or even those at the dollar store (although I don’t buy from dollar stores directly, – (China and India don’t need a penny more from us)-  I AM often given this kind, as people know I will thus recycle them!)  Then go online and find any of the copius amount of old labels/ads found there.  I colour-copied them, even the black and white ones, to give them a proper authentic look, and not just a photo-copied appearance.

Decide which bottle you’d like for which label and cut the labels to fit.  BEFORE mod-podging/gluing into place, though, partly fill them with coloured water or coloured powders/flours, of a shade likely to be indicative of what the label says (ie: cough syrups were usually a nasty dark brown or cherry-red).  You can either use commercial food colourings, or if you try hard like me to all-natural, use dyes made from berries/beets, etc. (if the latter is the case, you may have to empty and do again every year or two). Coloured dish soap can work well also, if you can afford it!



Once the label is affixed by regular glue (small amount so it doesn’t wrinkle!) go ahead and mod-podge over it.  You can of course use your own homemade mod-podge:   but I did try it once and it didn’t make it as water-proof/washable over the labels as I’d have liked.

If you prefer not to have straight edges on your labels, you could rip them to age them. Other ways of distressing or to burn or tea-stain the edges (if you used thick copy-paper, I don’t advise if you used thinner) OR my new personal preference the last few years is to use a brown ink pad, take the paper and ‘stain’ it here and there and along edges, but pressing into the ink. I now do this with my Rustic Revivals tags to age them and it works a treat!   I’ll be doing a whole blog posting later on how to use paints, inks, tea and coffee to distress paper, natural fabrics and edges of wood. Watch for it! Edge of the seat stuff here!



Baring All on Blue Bell Mountain, with Depp and Downton Abbey Dogs

Richard wanted to call this posting, the Blue Bell Mountain Blues.  Of course everyone gets a bit down after the excitement of Christmas and New Year’s and when visitors have left and a long cold winter stretches ahead.  Cabin Fever is a common ailment among mountain people especially; however, I am not feeling particularly ‘blue’.

Richard is, if you follow his exploits (or know him personally)  often BLACK and blue. A few days ago he was mostly black, as he was cleaning the chimney on one of the few warm days we had. But more on that in a moment.

No, I haven’t been ‘blue’, exactly.  More ‘grey’.  And as we all know, to our ever-loving peril and shame-  there are more than 50 shades of THAT particular colour.

And LINK: while being ‘bare’ does have something to do with this posting, it has nothing (saints preserve us) to do with that ridiculous book about nakedness and grey shades, which now has had charity shops and 2nd-hand stores in England BEGGING for donations of it to cease and desist, as they know they’ll never get them all off their shelves and they are taking up too much space.  Generally, examples of finely-crafted literature are kept in home-libraries and not donated/dumped, certainly not in the thousands. So I think I’ve already said enough about THAT.

But yes,there’s a very good reason why it’s been over 2 weeks since I’ve written here -and it’s to do with the 3 homophones: ‘bare’, ‘bair’ and ‘bear’.  And even a bit of ‘Barrie’ and ‘berry’.  They keep jumping out at me everywhere I turn.  Although the last of our holiday visitors (Richard’s mother) didn’t leave until the 7th, I have still been unable to write, due to what Pooh-bear has always called a ‘rumbly in my tumbly’. And not, in my case, in a good way.

I have always been very attached to the ‘Bear of Little Brain’ and his ‘stomachal’ complaints. I have them too. But , on the 5th of Jan., I had 2 cortisone shots in my bad left knee which caused shooting cramps through my gut for the next 3 days. I survived mostly on frozen berry juice and dried toast and just slept and slept…. And then the other side effects (dizziness, fluish aches, shaky hands,  excessive urination, disorientation, flushed face, etc. in case you’re wondering or thinking of getting a cortisone shot yourself) stretched a further 6 days, most of which I again spent in bed.  Yet every time I passed our pine hutch in the kitchen on yet another trip to the bathroom, I would see my little Pooh figurine, my honey-pots and the Milne books I had as a child. And on the shelf above these, The Plays of J.M.Barrie kept popping out at me. (Ironically, that book resides beside a good many apothecary bottles from a century ago, and one of them is particularly for stomach cramp – but I think it is mostly opium.  Next week’s blog will detail more about old-fashioned ‘illegal drug’ remedies, and How to Decorate with Days of Yore Diseases.)

Old Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard is NOT   ‘Bare’, in this instance!  But it’s full of Bear and Barrie…

In Finding Neverland, the play/film about playwright J.M.Barrie, one learns about not having dreams squashed:

Davies: This is absurd. It’s just a dog.

Barrie : Just a dog? *Just*?  [to Porthos, his St. Bernard]  Porthos, don’t listen!    [to Davies)      Porthos  dreams of being a  bear, and you want to shatter those dreams by saying he’s *just* a dog? What a horrible candle-snuffing word. That’s like saying, “He can’t climb that mountain, he’s just a man”, or “That’s not a diamond, it’s just a rock.” Just….

Below is Barrie himself with his dear Porthos:


And, if you saw the film with Johnny Depp, or were lucky enough to see it on Broadway with Julian Ovenden (of Downton Abbey fame), you’ll note that J.M.Barrie ‘s portrayed as considerably more handsome than he was, poor guy!  In other words, though he lived in colourful fantasy worlds of flying fairies and Lost Boys, he was himself a bit too many “shades of ‘grey’ “,  ‘just’, as I’ve been feeling, in fact.  But do Johnny or Julian pop in for tea and crumpets to colour-up my world?  Only in photographs, I’m afraid:

The archaic verb “bair” has meant many things through history – to tease, to bait, to feed, to journey.  In the current ‘Urban Dictionary’ usage, it apparently means that you’re ‘hot and sexy’.  While Johnny and  Julian are most certainly the latter sort of ‘bair’, as they pose with the dog-who-wants-to-be-bear, it is unlikely that they will understand the meaning of ‘baring it all’ – until they’ve had to blog to a small audience in the middle of January when one alternates between feverish chills and hot-flashes in the late of the afternoon because of a reaction to steroids.  Richard, who LOVES to ‘bait’ or ‘bair’, managed to catch me on film ‘baring all’ in the kitchen the other day – just as the school bus lumbered up the hill and past our big window.  It’s the first time I’ve ever hoped all those kidlets WERE actually texting rather than admiring the views:


His taking the photo (I’d just slipped out of my house-dress for a few minutes to cool down, but leave it to him to come upstairs from the basement just then) was probably justified as, when he was cleaning the chimney the other day, I laughed at his sweep-like/boy-urchin Dickensian face, and had to snap a shot, though he was in the bath at the time:


Thus, of course, my earlier reference to him being ‘black’, rather than his usual ‘black and blue’.

As I began, just yesterday, to feel better and not in need of two naps a day besides sleeping in until 9:00 a.m., Richard and I embarked on an epic-long game of Scrabble (my favourite Book-Lovers version, of course). For the first time EVER, I did manage to beat him by more than just a few points.  Yet, when we looked at the board, we realized there were still a lot of ‘bare-naked’ references there, with our own 50 Shades of Gray happening in Freudian-like unconsciousness.  We must have these BARE ESSENTIALS on the (Bear of Little ) BRAIN!   Groins, Loins, Licking, Groping.   Jugs ? – and my friend Lynn will especially enjoy that Richard remembered her as he lay down “Muffs” .  But, back to Bears – was there not once a famous wee bear called “Muffy”?



And so, thus far in this New Year we have survived over-bearing guests, unbearably-long rests, bare nakedness, bairing Bears of Little Brain, J.M. Barrie riots and berry juice diets.

The good news is that January is already half over now!  And for the remainder of this snowy-deep, absent-Depp and minus double-digits winter, we shall just have to     – er – ‘Grin and Bear It”.

And, as music helps us get through so much, listen to two of my favourite songs about staying innocent and finding comfort in our old childish ways:

with Barrie references: Lost Boys :

with Bear references: Return to Pooh Corner:

P.S. – next week’s blog might have helped a Bear of Little Brain.  A  Great Deal.

Here’s another ‘tease’.  Or ‘Bair’ !!!!!  :



The Still Midnight


As it’s New Year’s Eve, I’m doing one of my favourite things, as is only right when others are doing THEIR favourite things.  I’m at home  – writing. Hopefully in peace and quiet, but that isn’t likely to be the case for too long…
This 2016 has certainly been a tumultuous and up-heaving one for us, with a surgery, a court case, buying a farm in another province, moving to said farm and then frantically rushing about planting, harvesting and trying to meet all-new neighbours! And of course 2016 with the world has been unsettling and full of unrest and shock/sadness, as well…  2017 will hopefully be a bit more ‘routine’ and not too extra-ordinary.
But I thought, as a quiet and relaxing posting, and also because so many will be sleeping tomorrow and perhaps even into Monday, I’d put up some favourite poets and their quotations about REST and SLEEP, as well as some photos from other posts re: the same…
             TO SLEEP, by John Keats
O soft embalmer of  the still midnight,
      Shutting, with careful fingers and benign,
Our gloom-pleas’d eyes, embower’d from the light,
      Enshaded in forgetfulness divine:
O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close
      In midst of this thine hymn my willing eyes,
Or wait the “Amen,” ere thy poppy throws
      Around my bed its lulling charities.
Then save me, or the passed day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes,—
      Save me from curious Conscience, that still lords
Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;
      Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,
And seal the hushed Casket of my Soul.
Back  in the early days of June, though I didn’t take MUCH time to rest, sometimes my knee and back made it a mandatory practice. And the hammock under the apple blossoms with the amazing scenery, was just SO spectacular!  



This Walt Whitman verse reminds me very much of our life here at Blue Belldon Farm:

In midnight sleep… I dream, I dream, I dream…Of scenes of nature,fields and mountains;
Of skies, so beauteous after a storm–and at night the moon so unearthly bright,
Shining sweetly, shining down, where we dig the trenches and gather the heaps,
I dream, I dream, I dream.


as in the poem above by W.W., this is the fields and mountains and moon – as seen from my own bed’s pillow.  Lucky me!

A long, long sleep, by Emily Dickinson

A long, long sleep, a famous sleep
That makes no show for dawn
By stretch of limb or stir of lid, —
An independent one.

This was poor Simba, after arriving here at Blue Belldon from his two-day trip in a U-Haul!
These are the last two verses of Dylan Thomas’ Lie Still, Sleep Becalmed
…Under the mile off moon we trembled listening
To the sea sound flowing like blood from the loud wound
And when the salt sheet broke in a storm of singing
The voices of all the drowned swam on the wind.

Open a pathway through the slow sad sail,
Throw wide to the wind the gates of the wandering boat
For my voyage to begin to the end of my wound,
We heard the sea sound sing, we saw the salt sheet tell.
Lie still, sleep becalmed, hide the mouth in the throat,
Or we shall obey, and ride with you through the drowned.

an especial favourite of mine, from a hot day in August, 2016.  

Here is William Blake’s Sleep, Sleep… just the 1st verse:
Sleep! sleep! beauty bright,
Dreaming o’er the joys of night;
Sleep! sleep! in thy sleep
Little sorrows sit and weep.

Smitty in the truck – I just woke him up from an afternoon nap when I returned from a town errand… He couldn’t stop yawning!

Here’s a little wisdom from T.G. Craddock

When is predetermined time reached to rest?
Does mind or body know clockwork answer best?
Is a set bedtime always the best way to rest?

A lack of rest plays havoc on both mind and body.
Yet need requires extra night hours worked in emergency.
An art of make up sleep becomes a sweat necessity.

Sleep a strange bed fellow; we all must dues court.
To stay awake for extended periods; is scale battle fought.
To burn candle at both ends frequently; is not wisdom sought.

This was Richard one September day when I thought he was raking windfalls!
A Slumber did my Spirit Seal
A slumber did my spirit seal;
I had no human fears:
She seemed a thing that could not feel
The touch of earthly years.
No motion has she now, no force;
She neither hears nor sees;
Rolled round in earth’s diurnal course,
With rocks, and stones, and trees.
Love this photo, not  just because he genuinely looks peaceful and relaxed, but because that’s the one and only poem (and painting) my Mom/Joy ever did behind his head , in the frame
And of course, HAVE to include a Canadian, and one of my all-time favourites:
Come, rest awhile, and let us idly stray
In glimmering valleys, cool and far away.

Come from the greedy mart, the troubled street,
And listen to the music, faint and sweet,

That echoes ever to a listening ear,
Unheard by those who will not pause to hear­

The wayward chimes of memory’s pensive bells,
Wind-blown o’er misty hills and curtained dells.

One step aside and dewy buds unclose
The sweetness of the violet and the rose;

Song and romance still linger in the green,
Emblossomed ways by you so seldom seen,

And near at hand, would you but see them, lie
All lovely things beloved in days gone by.

You have forgotten what it is to smile
In your too busy life- ­come, rest awhile.

                      by Lucy Maud Montgomery

This is one of my favourite paintings to go with the famous- and deservedly so-
peace of the Robert Frost poem “And Miles To Go Before I Sleep”…
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
And finally , this is just one of many rustic signs and custom woodland wedding items you’ll find at my Rustic Revivals shop on :
  I’ll likely have it hanging on my doorknob if I’m up much longer…
Good Night, Sweet Dreams and Happy New Year!
Thanks for reading and supporting this blog – Much appreciated!