Books, Brooks and Back to Bed!

Today is World Book Day, and I just told the wonderful watercolour illustrator of this little gem (which I received from Mom/Joy for Christmas but as I haven’t really posted since then due to being bed-ridden  – and busy with other writings-  I ‘m going to share about now!)


Here’s a little review of it, with the bios of author and illustrator.  Although our time in Brampton was only a year’s transition before we could move out here, we feel it’s a nice bit of trivia in common with the whimsical illustrator, Kit!

In fact, my cousin Linda Baxter (no relation to the author) has contributed much to our farm, both physically (lovely seeds we’ve planted all over and are anxiously waiting to see if they pop up this year as well !) and literally, as in literature to read re: farm living through history.  Most especially memorable is Linda’s getting me hooked on Gladys Taber’s books. And look what the first page is here:


I really must buy Cousin Linda this book too. Everyone knows I make my own bread, but since becoming disabled it’s been hard to stay standing and pounding the dough. But here’s another favourite page from this sweetheart, along with my first attempt at ‘braiding’ a loaf – my home helper that I’ve had since the surgery did the hard part of this; I just stepped in and braided and baked it!

And look how nearly Kit got this particular illustration compared to Blue Belldon Farm’s house!

old house 2

You’ll see there in the text that Wanda mentions the meandering brook. Well, ours is rushing, not meandering right now. How do I know, since I’ve been bed-ridden since last October?  Well, I actually walked there yesterday! All the way to the back of our farm, using two ski poles and trudging along very slowly. How nice it was to finally get out in the sunshine, fresh air and chattering bird song.  I saw the first coyote I’ve seen since coming here to N.B. as well (put the chickens away, Richard!)  Yes, Rasmussen Brook is a bubbling rushing mass at the moment, but given that half of the province is flooding, this isn’t a surprise. We feel badly for our neighbours and glad we are up so high in the mountains!  This little brook, practically dried up in summer, is a rushing torrent right now as it cavorts over the rocks to find its way over the ravine behind Richard’s largest tapped maple. What a sight!  I really did enjoy sitting on my log and basking after a long LONG winter in bed (since the end of October, which is about the time we got our first snowfall that stayed on the ground as well!)


We do still have some snow across the valley on the top of the mountain that is just a bit higher than we are, and also a big dump of snow near the Dew Drop Down cross-country jump, where Richard piled a lot of it all season, but other than that it’s finally almost gone and I’m finally ALMOST walking without pain. (The other knee, the one not replaced in January, is still causing problems, and the ‘new’ knee isn’t bending right yet, but there is an end in sight I hope…)

Now I know regular readers of this Blue Belldon Blog (like Mary Walker and Shirley Robinson who’ve been lapping it up since I started exactly 3 years ago!) may be glad I’m ‘back’ writing and posting photos of our farm life. But just because I haven’t been writing much here since my other knee gave out just before Halloween doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy writing elsewhere!  In fact, over 546 hours between Oct. 27 and Jan. 17th (the day before my surgery) I completed an entire musical called Rough Notes.  Book (script) and Music (incl. lyrics) really kept me from going insane during that time period when I could barely limp down the hall to the bathroom. More can be read on this at and Ursula Buchan’s (grand-daughter of two of the lead characters) new book just came out last week about her famous grandfather, with lots of terrific reviews, accolades and interviews.  For any of those links, see my author FB page:

I’ve been busy finishing Canto One of an epic poem called Ismertine and preparing it for submissions. I’ve asked illustrator Giana Hicks to do a few fantastical sketches for it, before I start sending it out. Her whimsical work can be seen here:

Lastly, I’ve been chosen by editors Cait Gordon and Talia Johnson (also no relation) in Ottawa and Toronto to have my short story “Iron Bone” included in their anthology NOTHING WITHOUT US, which will be coming out this September and which would make a great Christmas gift, esp. for anyone who considers themself ‘diverse’.  More on this can be seen here:  The publisher is Renaissance Press of Ottawa and the book will be for sale through their website in the autumn. This is the graphic promo for my story “Iron Bone”, just to ‘tease’ you with a ‘what the heck’?… (That’s Princess Anne to the right, in case you didn’t recognize her.)

FOR nwu anthology

The book cover will look like this:nwu book cover

(Ivanel Johnson, my paternal grandmother was a frustrated novel writer and I always promised her that her unusual name would be spread in literary circles somehow. Since “Julie Johnson” is a VERY common author/actress/musician name – not to mention a song name and a film title!, I now write as J.Ivanel Johnson)  Grandma J. would be proud.  And I’m proud that both grandmothers as well as my mother made sure I was reading at an early age. Photos below, Ivanel Johnson, elocution teacher at Alma College, St. Thomas, ON and frustrated novelist and right, Dorothy McKenzie, career-long schoolteacher and painter, reading to me in 1966. Below them is Mom/Joy reading aloud to my sister’s son Sydney (named for my father) when he was about 4. And that’s it for books and writing for World Book Day. Now on to some farm photos!

mom reading to Sydney
Incidentally, and completely unrelated: Sydney is 12 now and was meant to be singing with the Atlantic Boychoir this week in France. Two masses.  At Notre Dame.  Needless to say, that won’t be happening, but they are flying out on their 2nd European tour anyway… Their music is absolutely stunning. Samples of their most recent/mature performances can be heard on Amazon, where their 2018 Christmas c.d. is for sale: (Not trying to sell it to you, just saying it’s the best place to really listen to a few samples of classical and orchestrated works sung by these talented young men!)

All right, on to the farm stuff, which is what this blog is SUPPOSED to be all about! Sorry for all that literary hootin’ an’ hollerin’:


As most of you know, we sold Chevy just before Christmas (too much for Richard to handle on his own, and I’ve been too laid up to help much) and got Cammie (not pictured here) two friends who stayed with her all winter. Last week we gave away the one with the horns and now just have Cammie and Buttercup, the one standing. (p.s. we didn’t name her. I don’t like ‘cutsie’ names!)


As the snow has melted this week (that was taken just 5 days ago!) the chickens have had a great time scratching in the compost, manure pile, and garden – the latter of which we’ll have to re-fence, although I don’t plan a big garden this year despite Richard building those great basement seed tables and the greenhouse! I should be planting inside already, and I’m just not up to it! However, what Richard is really striding angrily here to do is:


… chase away the skunk (slightly to right of dead centre of shot) who keeps returning to the top of the garden. Smitty has already had 4 exchanges other springs with these black and white furries. We don’t want another!

For the next two weeks, (while Mom/Joy is visiting Sydney in Newfoundland) we have Richard’s nephew Chris (seated on his walker) visiting us.  Standing is R.’s brother Jean-Marc. You’ll remember these two from all the wedding photos from last July. Chris was the “Lord of the Rings” in the subtly Tolkien-themed nuptials for his older sister Carriann.



Chris has enjoyed feeding the chickens in the sunshine, (around the remains of the wedding arch, which I’ll tear down when I’m more mobile) and making friends with Smitty:


Jean-Marc (John) and Richard took some time to enjoy the sun too (we only had one full day of it, and we’re back to rain now!) and walked out to see the roaring Rasmussen!



And of course when the brothers get together there’s always time to tinker with tractors and ….

Until next time, I’m back to bed now…