August Angst !

Busy days in the next 3 weeks as we not only harvest our massive garden for a winter’s eating, get 6 cords of firewood in, prepare for CBC’s Still Standing to be in our community, organize the entertainment for St. Peter’s Centennial Celebrations, have a guest from Scotland and two from Ontario, AND take Rustic Revivals to a show Aug. 26th in Plaster Rock. Whew! (Please don’t anyone ask why there aren’t more blog postings at the moment… )

different anglefrom roadI like this onewood While Richard’s mostly been doing the wood, and Mom’s been helping with that as well as massive weeding and picking in the garden, I’ve picked berries, made 3 jars of raspberry and 5 jars of gooseberry jam, and we’ve flash-frozen (instead of blanching this year! Try it!)  then frozen I-don’t-know-how-many bags of green and yellow beans.  And peas.  LOVE those peas!

plaster rock summerfest

julie, mic, july 1st. peters centenary    I’ve organized all the above entertainment for the anniversary, incl. writing 2 songs (Richard will solo one), researching questions for the Pastors’ Trivia Challenge and a skit that we are rehearsing now…  Looking forward to having CBC in the area next week as well, and Jonny’s big comedy night should be lots of fun!still standing

At this point, I’d like someone to help LEVEL me out, and assist with some Rustic Revivals preparations as well (have also had some Etsy attention again, and am too busy to answer my queries!)

level1  While he might have missed getting his big lazy bum in the hammock, Chevy IS just doing a lot of lazing around this summer – but we’re too busy to get him working for us, just yet!  So he has a lot of leisure time…   What’s THAT?

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The regular blog postings should resume in September… or maybe October?

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Julie in July – Four Beddings, No Funeral

I am pleased to report that after being in bed for nearly 4 weeks with strep throat and what I can only believe is yet another bout of my old nemesis, ‘walking’ pneumonia, I am still alive.  It has been so difficult to get anything done in a day, however, for most of this entire month, that the blog has remained untouched.  I’ve only been able to manage about 3 or 4 tasks most days during the month of July, and writing and organizing photos certainly hasn’t been a high priority for my decreased energy!

Most of the following photos (with captions, so be sure to click on the photo to enlarge and read) have necessarily been taken through either my bedroom or bathroom windows, OR do not show my face as I’ve had to wear a mask when near visitors – and we’ve had quite a bunch of them, for which I was sadly not able to be a very ‘present’ hostess!

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The above were taken from bed at various times of the early morning or late evening – but those weren’t the only times I’ve been in that darn bed this past month!  Sometimes I could rally and go do a few minutes of weeding or watering, sometimes I’d HAVE to go look after animals (Richard has been away on and off quite a bit this month as well…), a few times with visitors coming I’d have to go clean, or do a bit of baking… but mostly with all the coughing and sore throat and feeling tired all the time, I’d just be in bed.  Just a few of the visitors through July:

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Shirley Robinson enjoyed her stay so much earlier in the month that she’s back visiting us now after a successful ‘tour’ of the Maritimes!  (Mom went with her for part of that tour, and then returned with my sister Jennifer, her husband Boyd and my nephew Sydney. ) All 4 visitors have been good enough to step in and do garden work, since I was out of action!  And thanks to Boyd we have a pretty good-looking compost system up and working now!

Richard and Mom have worked quite hard in the garden as well (neither Shirley nor Joy wished their ‘unbecoming’ photos of them weeding the garden to be made public!). Richard also had to do a morning’s worth of  cutting young and overgrown poplars as sticks for our beans and peas.  This year we have a LOT of beans and peas!

I did manage to go out and tie up some rows with jute twine.  I managed about 3 rows a day.  Big whoop!

Cammie has been helping with some trimming around the farm, too.  We aren’t so crazy about this type of help, so she is mostly being tied up now (unless I can watch her from our bedroom window.)  I’m happy to report that the one bean plant and one grape vine plant (both put out as ornamentals to train for winding around a pillar) that Cammie stripped of leaves are still alive and still seem to be wishing to grow.  It’s rained so much here all month that I’m hardly surprised by this, but it does mean our veg. garden is WAY behind!

With all that precip. it was also hard to get in our first cutting of hay, but with neighbours equipment and Zeb’s help from down the road, we have managed it.  I was useless. Richard didn’t even like the way I was driving the truck and trailer around the fields to pick up bales, so – back to bed I went, after taking some of these shots .  (don’t forget to click on them to enlarge and read captions).

At the end of the haying day, however, we did have a good feeling of self-sufficiency as I managed to bake a pumpkin pie (crust from scratch, and pumpkin ours from last year’s frozen batches!) for the hungry guys as well as frying up some of the trout they’d caught earlier in the summer.  And of course, some gorgeous salad greens from the garden – about the only thing it’s yielding to us yet this summer!

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By last weekend I was finally able to rouse myself to build a small tree-house with nephew Sydney, put the finishing touches on a mud-room accessory I’d made for their Newfoundland summer home and judge a local horse show (me in skirt below).

Oh, and do a few loads of laundry.  After 4 weeks mostly in bed I was seriously behind on that!  And how fulfilling it felt to get it out on the line whilst enjoying the newly-weeded garden that OTHER people had done for us!

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not-quite-so- self-sufficient life – cut hay, clothes on line and – a weeded garden, done by guests!

And, because Mom never gets to see her hummingbird feeder in action (she’s too high up and it’s necessarily on the shadier side of the house), here’s proof that it HAS been used occasionally throughout July – very entertaining for someone who’s been mostly in the house looking out the windows!

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hummingbird at GLASS (not plastic, please!) feeder …

 

 

 

The Pastor and the Polo Wraps

Happy Canada Day!  Having lived and taught on ‘the rez’ for 4 years, I do understand how the indigenous people of our nation may feel about this 150th celebration. And having lived twice in England because I’m such an Anglophile at heart, I also don’t necessarily agree that having gained our ‘independence’ from Britain is such a perfect condition either, but I did try to throw myself totally into the spirit of the special holiday, and WITHOUT adding anything more to our carbon footprint than was necessary.  I don’t really believe in fireworks, anymore, as the damage it does to wildlife is shocking – but we did make some very loud noises of our own, and, as per psalms 98:4, we DID ‘make a joyful noise unto the Lord’, as the pastor was with us, and therefore I believe all God’s creatures, great and small, were undisturbed.  Oh, that’s not quite true –  our singing DID upset Cammie and Chevy a bit last week – more on this later!

Friday June 30th and Saturday July 1st were wonderful days for those of in New Denmark  and surrounding rural valleys, who love music.  But yesterday, July 2nd was probably the best blog-point my readers will most enjoy, since they can’t actually hear our music (unless it’s later posted on Youtube or we buy and upload the recording that was made…)  It has been said in the last week that one of the things the rest of the world likes the most about Canadians is that we don’t take ourselves too seriously.  And you can start with one of the leaders of our little community, Pastor Ralph Weigold, when you want to examine how to be self-deprecating whilst still making a firm point.  How did Chevy’s parade polo wraps from 2 week-ends ago, end up as a stole for the dear pastor yesterday?  Read on!

polos to pastor

After discovering that we were unable to feel fulfilled (we weren’t joyful enough for the Lord!)  with only a small choir singing in unison for just Christmas and Easter in our churches (there are two Lutheran ones here in New Denmark, for which Pastor Ralph is responsible), I went in search of a larger choir that sang in at least 3-part if not 4-part harmony. What fit the bill?  Perth/Andover’s Community Choir, led by their indomitable mayor, Marianne Tiessen Bell (who is also in several other musical groups as well as leading the town’s book club, as WELL as leading a campaign as mayor to help the victims of flooding  ((due in part to the massive clear-cutting this province gets up to – see my previous post “Taken At the Flood”)) and to put in place a plan to prevent further flooding from doing as much damage!)  see latest re: this campaign here:   http://globalnews.ca/news/3361542/province-to-review-perth-andover-flood-adaptation-plan/

Richard and I will be joining her choir in the fall, but in the meantime we were awestruck at the power and beauty and passion involved in singing with the 150 Voices Choral group that she was responsible for assembling, under the brilliant direction of Peter McLaughlin of Second Wind Music Centre in Bristol, to the south of Perth. (Peter is a retired music teacher, thus, I believe, the most excellent name of the group). I have known a number of Peters in my lifetime, and not one has ever failed to inspire me to better things, or to motivate me to present the best I have within me.  Mr. McLaughlin did not disappoint; I don’t believe I’ve ever sung as strongly, or read the music with such quick and sharp glances so that I could get back to watching him conduct.

While we couldn’t travel down to their regular rehearsals, an all-day workshop was being held for those of us that couldn’t make the other practices. This was on Friday, the day before our big scheduled performance, so Richard, myself and our church’s organist, Sonja Pedersen travelled down to take part in a completely exciting clinic for singers, led by Peter.  It was held at the St. Mary of the Angels Catholic church, which had stunning acoustics for us. These two shots were taken by a P/A C C member who was singing in the alto/tenor section.  While I’m too far away (in the many sopranos, both 1st and 2nd) to be seen, you will notice Richard, in white, sitting beside the gentleman named Don Kelly in the pale yellow:

We were both surprised to see rather a lot of women singing tenor in this grouping, in fact Richard thought there were more there than in the alto section!

We were introduced to, and practiced such an amazing variety of music, all with Canadian ties:  Oscar Peterson’s beautiful and uplifting Hymn to Freedom, Coco Love Alcorn’s (the daughter of jazz musician, Owen Sound’s John Alcorn) The River, which we were ‘allowed’ to ‘jazz/spiritualize’ by throwing in our own harmonies and descants, Klee Wyck, about Emily Carr and her importance to Canadian art (both the latter two had some wonderful drums, incl. native sounds I haven’t heard since ‘the rez’ !),  the incomparable Rankin classic “We Rise Again”, fitting as Peter went to uni. with the late Raylene Rankin – this song was also popularized by the also sadly-late Rita MacNeil), and my favourite – our country’s second anthem – “This Is Our Home”.  To hear it sung with orchestra, try this link:  https://youtube.com/watch?v=rdXGZ4vYKGg   although I hope our own recording may be available at some point soon. Having finished the afternoon session we were treated to a smorgasbord of fine dishes, both hot and cold,  hosted by the Perth/Andover Choir and the ladies of the St. M. of the A. church.  It was massive and delicious.  Here’s a shot of Richard and me (in cap) chowing down with a fellow who looked and sounded like Jimmy Stewart. Kinda spooky!

supper, workshop

Richard and I had despaired of ever finding anyone with a talent for choosing such amazing and inspiring choral music and of being led by anyone as excellent as Carlisle, Ontario’s own Heather Olaveson, but to our relief, Marianne and Peter have brought us happily back to that wonderful place once more.  Unfortunately, due to the month of constant rain we’ve had, the outdoor venue for all this music had to be set aside, and the tent and staging area set up in the arena instead.  Let’s just say that the acoustics were NOT what they were in the Catholic church the day before, but they certainly had a lot of microphones hanging from inside the tent to help us project out!

Before the choirs- including this mass choir of 150 voices-  were to perform Saturday, however (we had a dress rehearsal from 10-12, so were again in Perth all day July 1st!)  Marianne had organized several local instrumental groups to play, for a half-hour each.

First, and to Scottish Mom’s delight, were the Southern Victoria Pipe Band, who also marched in New Denmark’s parade, you may remember from the photos. Second on the program was “Wildwood”, a local band that plays a combination of folk/pop/ and rock-a-billy music.  Again, the theme was to be all Canadian connections, so our ears were opened to new pieces for many of us, as well as a taste of the old folk songs that used to resound throughout these northern Appalachians.

Third were the Wednesday Evening Fiddlers who ALSO graced the New Denmark parade a few weeks ago (on a float, rather than marching the 4.5 km as the poor pipers – and poor Chevy and Champ had to do!)  And fourthly was an utterly fabulous group from the Sistema program of offering orchestral music to ALL children.  Many of these kids playing were from the local ‘rez’, or from lower-income families, and for Mom and myself, having spent decades listening and watching those taught ‘the Suzuki method’, this was a heart-warming experience – to see AND to hear:

Both groups played a variety of Canadian music – the fiddlers some of the ‘good ole tunes’, but the group from Sistema really ‘brought it home’ with some movie connection titles, some rock connections, and adding in a sprinkling of classical and folk to boot!

Unlike Ontario, where people are much more, shall we say, – er- strung like a tightly-tuned fiddle? – here in the Maritimes, people just get up and dance in the aisles or at the base of the stage if they like the music.  Either in a male/female couple, or female/female, or in the case of the one lady, far left in fuscia, just clog-it  on your own!

Then came a very scary time:  the debut of my little group, the New Denmark Minstrels. As we were the smallest choir we were the first of the local groups to begin the Choral  Concert. Yikes! We’ve been rehearsing once a week for the last 10 weeks.  However, in that time we’ve gone from 14 who said ‘yes’, to 10 ‘committed and practicing’ to 8 when one soprano and one alto quit for a variety of reasons that change every time I hear them, then back up to 10 (now incl. me, though I was playing piano, guitar and trying to direct as well) when I persuaded Mom/Joy and pastor’s wife Ellen to join the alto section at the last hour (2 weeks prior)… All this upheaval for just 2 songs and in only a 10 week period for full commitment!  I heartily thank all those who stuck it out, remembered to show up (some on the correct days, and some not!)  practiced over and over, and even while most had to miss SOME of those 10 practices, and a few ‘section’ rehearsals had to be added, we did manage to sing the correct version for at least 65% of the required 3-part harmonies we were attempting! Not TERRIBLE for our first time out, and in a very large venue as well! Especially since only a few of the Minstrels can read music!  In our last full rehearsal on Wednesday, we performed both pieces (a Canadian pop-song medley I arranged and the “Ida May” folk song I wrote – about, if you’ve been following this blog, the pioneer gal who settled our farm and raised a family – see Log Cabin Legends posting) IN OUR BARN.  Because most barns around here are quonsets, constructed for ‘potato barns’, the echo in there is better than any shower/bathroom in which you’ve ever yodeled.  We enjoyed singing with that wonderful arc of tin over us, resonating our harmonies more deeply and sweetly than we could have imagined!  However, as stated above, Cammie and Chevy who were ‘in’ due to the weather/flies that afternoon, were NOT the appreciative audience for which we’d hoped. Cammie bleated throughout (trying to join in, said Pastor Ralph, but I think not) and Chevy was kicking madly at the stall wall.  I’d like to think it was a large horsefly, but when I went to check I saw nothing… and it started again when we began to sing again!

The pieces included in the medley, both sung and instrumentalized by me on piano as a segue between vocalized melodies were:

Dan Hill’s Sometimes When We Touch, Paul Anka’s My Way (made famous by Mr. Sinatra himself, of course – and the 4 men did a beautiful strong rendition of this one without the ladies adding!) Hagood Hardy’s The Homecoming, Joni Mitchell’s Clouds, Buffy Saint Marie’s Until It’s Time for You to Go, Gene MacClellan/Anne Murray’s Snowbird, and Mom suggested, as we’re from Tillsonburg, a couple of measures of Put Your Hand in the Hand…             For the lyrics to Ida May, which I accompanied on a VERY quiet guitar as I only know four or five chords, see below at the bottom of this post.

As the altos preferred to be away from the other groups (I know that feeling from singing alto in Carlisle for 3 years!) and as the sopranos (2 plus me where I could manage it) needed strength so as not to be drowned out by the uber-powerful men, I separated them up along the stage for the medley (3 parts) and had a mic on the sops.  It had some rocky moments, but we managed to complete without a break-down!  (click on each photo to see in full and enlarged).

The men think they should have their own quartet now, called the Bald Bass/Baritones. I think you can see why; no need to hear them!  I made the duo-tang books with our music to look like the Danish flag, with a few swift masking tape tear-offs.

As mentioned above, the average practice attendance out of 10 was 7, due to several funerals in the valley (of course Pastor was needed at those, but being a close-knit community, there were usually a few others who were related to the deceased as well.)  However, a good fishing day could also interfere, and of course Joy and Ellen didn’t agree to join us until we were just a few weeks away!  But the cutest story of a near-miss was down to Pastor Ralph himself.

funny, pastor ralph, news

Since Chevy and Cammie arrived here, both with illnesses and both losing weight at an alarming rate, our minister has taken as much interest in their respective healths as he does of his human parishioners.  So one Friday afternoon nearly all the choir was sitting in our living room-cum-meeting room waiting on two people to show. And one of them was Pastor.  After we did some voice warm-ups, we were about to start without them when the phone rang. I ran to answer it, and sure enough, it was the Good Reverend Ralph.  “Oh, dear, what’s happened?  Nothing too terrible I hope? ” I blurted in to the phone.  “No, nothing’s happened”, said Pastor, after a slightly odd and awkward pause. “I was just calling to see how Chevy’s feeling these last few days”.  Now it was my turn to pause.  Then a big grin came on my face as I realized the enormous coincidence in timing.  “Well, Pastor Ralph, I’d be glad to tell you how Chevy is when you arrive over here and get sat on our couch !”  I let that sink in and then he laughed.  “Oh, good heavens, I forgot what day it is! Be right there!”

Anyway, on Saturday, after the Minstrels had finished Ida May (which went better than the medley, though it’s had much less practice!) and we took a succinct joint bow and scurried down to our seats, the Scotch Colony Choir was up next.  They kindly mentioned that it was the Danes in New Denmark who first helped THEIR immigrants to keep from starving in the very ferocious winter of 1873 when they arrived.  They got this from the lyrics I wrote in Ida May (printed below), so, as Mom says, I guess the audience heard at least SOME of the words ENUNCIATED correctly. (If you don’t know my mother, she’s HUGE on proper enunciation!)

Marianne Bell also sang  (despite having lost most of her voice, bless her, after all the days of singing, organizing, socializing, etc!) with the Scotch Colony choir, pictured here. I’ve never seen people get up and dance to a CHOIR, but they sang so many ‘golden oldies’ that people’s feet were constantly tapping even in their seats!

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Then came Marianne’s own Perth/Andover Community Choir, which Richard and I hope to join in the fall.  For this Marianne (in white) conducted through some, but also, as in the last pic, played piano much better than I did, for them AND sang.  Look how much fun she’s having in that photo!

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Lastly came Peter’s own choir that he leads on a regular basis.  And of course everyone was sticking very well to the all-Canadian theme and telling some of the histories of the songs as well, which was very enjoyable. That’s Peter in the first photo, at the end of the line following his choir to the stage.  I said to many that he reminds me of the 1970s songwriter/singer/comedian/actor Paul Williams –  not just his appearance and stature, but his vivacious energy and humour as well.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Williams_(songwriter)

Finally, the great climax of so many months of planning, hours of rehearsing – the 150 Voices mass choir, also led by Peter.  Poor Marianne was way up back in the soprano section near me, and could hardly utter a sound by then, but it was so much her own brainchild that I know she still was thrilled. I told her after that she really needs to start planning to solve the peace problem in the world – I KNOW she could do it with just musical organizings such as this!  It was incredibly powerful to be singing those amazing anthems and compositions for 4 part harmonies with so many gifted singers!

Now, while I was way in the back, but happily positioned myself to be less squashed in than most, and also so that I could see Peter better, Richard, in his usual way, had somehow managed to wangle a spot RIGHT in front – and in front of Peter as well!

150 concert

That first photo is JUST the soprano section (both 1st and 2nds), so you can imagine the power of the voices rising and falling, crescendoing and decresendoing as per the music and Peter’s very busy hands.  If you look carefully, you can see the big grin on my face, whenever my mouth wasn’t shaped in the appropriate ‘O’.

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One of the tenors behind Richard captured him in this shot as well:

richard in dress rehearsal

This was actually taken at the dress rehearsal that morning, though – which explains the empty seats in ‘the House’!

It was such an honour to sing with this large and strong group. Upon ending with the passionately patriotic “This Is My Home”, there were several pairs of eyes with tears in them, including Peter’s when he talked about his enjoyment in leading such a large and enthusiastic choir.  Also, I know that the next day at church, several others in our New Denmark community who also sang with the 150 Voices said it was an experience-of-a-lifetime, and that they were so glad not to have missed out on it!

150

Too, it was a special event for Mom/Joy, because, though she didn’t sing with the mass choir, her alto contribution to the New Denmark Minstrels meant that she’s had TWO of those once-in-a-lifetime performances on very special days.  When she was just in public school in Tillsonburg her school choir sang for the Queen!  (HRH’s train simply pulled into the station and the choir sang from the platform, but still, that was a big choral day in Canada for Mom, and now in her senior years she can claim another first and only!)

The last story I must share with you is, of course, the reason for this post’s title.   You may have noticed that, to tie us more ‘formally’ together, I gave each of the Minstrels a ‘stole’ to wear of red, with a white-painted New Denmark flag on its right side, and a musical note or two on each.  I thought, even if we weren’t always singing together and at the same tempo (the Minstrels need to learn to ‘watch’ and to ‘listen’ to each other!) at least we’d LOOK like we were ‘tied-in together’.

newspaper1

Now, the only red fabric I had around the house when I got this last-minute brain-wave was left over from what I cut Chevy’s red polo wraps from, for the Founders’ Day parade.  And the cat had been sitting on THAT for a few weeks, all day long!  So it was full of cat hair, and Chevy’s two bandages had manure stains and horse hair and dried sweat all over them.  And when I cut up the remainder of the fabric, there just wasn’t enough for all of us, so I did have to use the polo wraps as well.  (I cut the ends of the other strips on the diagonal for a ‘finished look’, but didn’t want to cut the two polos because I might need them on Chevy again! So that meant that Richard and our minister, the tallest two, would have the dubious honour of wearing those as they were standing in the back and theirs could hang longer and not have the diagonal cut!)   Well, of course I washed all the strips, and hung them on the line to dry.  But as we all know, that isn’t enough to get rid of animal hair! So, on Friday morning before we left for all-day rehearsal, I meticulously vacuumed and Scotch-taped each strip, front and back.  Then painted them with the flag and notes.

polo

On Saturday, no one complained about wearing them, which rather shocked me – they were all very compliant!  And I DID chuckle with them over their stoles’ origins, and the amount of work it took to get them acceptable, but I’m not sure Pastor Ralph Weigold heard me…

Because – yesterday morning in church he appeared coming down the aisle at a PARISH SUNDAY GATHERING (both N.D. congregations combined) wearing Chevy’s bandages AROUND HIS NECK on top of his lovely vestments and his green silk stole!  Now, I know he likes our horse, and considers him worthy of his prayers and concern, etc.  But I really just made those strips for a 7-minute performance at an outdoor event with most people in shorts and T-shirts! Yikes!  I was squirming in my pew, which of course got my hand wrapped by Mother Dearest.  But Pastor wore Chevy’s leg wrap through the entire formal service, communion and all, saying that he was proud of how well the New Denmark Minstrels had done on their debut performance, AND that he was proud to be a Canadian, still celebrating that on July 2nd as well.  Good for him.  God bless him!

 

pastor ralph clip art

And now, as promised, here’s the lyrics to “Ida May”, dedicated to her daughter, Phyllis MacDonald (which I announced to the crowd on Saturday, but apparently she and her son, Bliss didn’t make it, so Richard and I may go over there and sing the 2-part harmony duet to her one day) .  In the last verse, the word “Bliss” is mentioned as a tip-of-the-hat to Ida’s grandson.  And the last spoken words, which Pastor Ralph himself read aloud, refer to “Feel Us” (the ghosts) which was as close to “Phyllis” as I could get within the context of the poetry/rhyme. (for the same reason I used 1870, although most N.D.ers came here in 1872 – it fit the meter/rhythm of the line much better!) .

"Ida May" - lyrics to original folk-song by J. Johnson, 
music written 1989,
originally performed as "Katherine Fields" 
at Murphys Point Provincial Park

My Danish name is Rasmussen
But they call me Ida May
My family came to Canada
Which is where they now will stay.

In 18 hundred and seventy
We settled all the land
In mountains high and valleys low
Where the dark blue forests spanned

                         spoken- man: Ida May, you'll marry me?
                                      I've cleared the land for you.
                                woman: Oh, dear man, I'll marry you!
                            Tho' I'm but 16, 'tis true!

In a little cabin on Bluebell Road
I moved in with my John
5 children came, we built more rooms
And the years were quickly gone.

I planted lilacs and apple trees
We lived for fam-i-ly
And then came the time I got too sick
I was only thirty-three.
                              spoken- girl: Mommy, Mommy -don't
                            send me away! I don't WANT to live with Aunt!
                                 woman: child, go now, be at peace.
                              to keep you all - I can't!

But I gave my children all my love
Before I passed away
So young was I, so old a soul
For my name was Ida May!
***************************
refrain:  Ida May! Ida May!
          Haunt me on a summer's day
In the orchard where I play...
Haunt my memory, Ida May!
***************************
A hundred years have passed us by
Since I left my girlhood thrills
And went to start my home and farm
In New Denmark's rolling hills.

My life was short upon the earth
But I float up here in BLISS
I look down on my legacies
And my breeze blows them a kiss.

                          spoken-You are here, the ghosts of all 
                              we loved.  Forevermore...
                              FEEL US, children; feel us sing,
                             The ghosts of those before...
******************************************************************
Here are Bliss and Phyllis.  (Remember Ida May's story is
 at the Log Cabin Legends post, and another entitled
 Log Cabin Legends, Part II: Phyllis.  
Just type those tag words or titles into this blog's
 search engine and 
both posts should come up for you to read and enjoy!)
 HAPPY CANADA DAY!
bliss,phyllis2

 

Flora and Fauna (or Posies and Pets- your choice!)

The lupine are growing wild in the ditches of N.B. right now, and this always attracts the wildlife.  But right here at Blue Belldon Farm, there are many things in lovely bloom, surrounded by wild animals.

 

Here’s an example of some of our hedge roses, fresh-cut, with one of the wild animals:

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The quilt, above, is a new/old one found at a 2nd hand church basement by Mom/Joy. Because it’s purple and green, and because those are the colours of Richard’s niece’s wedding to be held here NEXT end-of-June, we will be using the quilt for a table cloth for displays at the reception, and most of the wildflowers we are busy planting at present are blue (for Blue Bell and area) or purple, or variations thereof) to add to the correct colour theme.  I’ve also finally started painting those red wagon wheels we brought from Ontario, changing them to a blue-grey as well. The rose bushes actually make a lovely accent for other photos, too, such as my herb garden outside the kitchen Dutch door, which the cat likes to snooze beside as there is cat-nip growing in one of the boxes (more on the herbs later):

Inside, these roses add a lovely smell and an attractive bowl of fuscia delight, though they DO rather clash with the copper in the kitchen!  I love a single rose-bud SO much more than open flowers, though…is it the hope and expectation of the yet-unknown?

Outside, all manner of birds, bees and other fauna keep vigil over the stunning sensory offering. How many attentive animals do YOU see in this photo?

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Do you see how Chevy likes to graze? Because of still undiagnosed problems with his muscular structure (we suspect possible PSSM, common in drafts, or maybe a form of Lyme, but we are awaiting test results) he is uncomfortable with his neck stretched all the way down and seems happier munching from a hillside, with him below the grass he is eating… we feed him chest high in a trough in the barn as well, even his hay, and he is much happier.  Meanwhile, Cammie enjoys just standing on her hind legs ‘grazing’ off the red maple tree!

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Cammie is loose a good part of the time, although now that the veggies AND the flowers are starting to grow and blossom, we have to keep an ever-vigilant eye upon her. These snow-ball bushes and irises were planted by the last owners to help the vegetable gardens with cross-pollination at all times of the growing season, but Cammie thinks they were put there expressly for her gastric enjoyment and often has to be physically removed from the area.  And the more she is eating, the more difficult this is!

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Did you know that the roots of irises are useful for so many ailments?The fresh root possesses diuretic, emetic and cathartic properties. It was actually formerly employed in the treatment of bronchitis and chronic diarrhea, and was considered a useful remedy in dropsy as well.  So, not just a pretty face! Wasn’t able to find any real uses for the Chinese snowball, however – as much as I can see it IS just a pretty face!  That and attracting the bees, which we certainly most desperately need.  I have a great fear that the human race may someday be lost simply because that one all-important insect is extinct.    Some facts from John Haltiwanger on Protecting our Planet are eye-opening:

At present, the honeybee population in the United States is less than half of what it was at the cessation of World War II.  This past winter, 23.2 percent of America’s managed honeybee colonies were lost. The figures were worse during the year prior, but bees are still dying at a disturbing rate, and something needs to change.  The US government has stated that bees are now dying at an economically unsustainable rate. Indeed, in the United States alone, bees contribute to $15 billion in crop value. Simply put, bees keep plants and crops alive. Without bees, humans wouldn’t have very much to eat.

To help the bees stay alive, we must stop using pesticides!  And PLEASE stop mowing the ditches – that is where a plentiful source of wildflowers and grasses grow.  Leave that for our pollinators!  And PLANT more flowering shrubs and wildflowers.  Mom/Joy made a special point to plant milkweed this year, as it is a special favourite of all bees, and also will help keep the monarch butterfly from becoming extinct.  It will take a few years (providing Cammie doesn’t eat them first!) for them to become like this the photos below, but the swamp milkweed – the best variety for both bee and butterfly- looks like this:

Several artist friends from Ontario visited the farm this week, and so I picked from that same garden spot and put on the kitchen table the irises, some late-blooming daffodils and the Queen Anne’s lace I so adore ( good for soothing the digestive tract, kidney and bladder diseases, stimulating the flow of urine and the removal of waste by the kidneys. The seeds can be used as a settling agent for the relief of flatulence and colic as well!)

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Besides using mint for jelly or to put in hot or iced tea or other summer beverages, did you know that a few stems of mint, gently crushed and placed near suspected entry points deters ants, and that some gardeners clip bits of mint over mulch beneath veggies of interest to insects, which may confuse pests in search of host plants. In aromatherapy, of course, mint is used to relieve stress and increase alertness.  Our patch seems to be mostly of the spearmint variety, as it spreads very fast and develops big, gnarly roots that are difficult to dig out.  Spearmint starts flowering in early summer, and if the old blossoms are trimmed off, the plants will rebloom again and again for the rest of the season. This is great for various pollinators including honeybees, which may derive health benefits from foraging in the mint patch. A 2006 study found that a spearmint spray killed 97 percent of  the mites collected from an infected honeybee colony. So in more ways than one our lovely spearmint patch is hard at work for the bees, as well as adding flavour and aroma for us!

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Mom found the above window box already blooming like this for only $25.00, so she bought it to put on her private stairs/deck.  Smitty enjoys sitting there watching us garden sometimes, as it gives him a break from the cement porch where he is usually tied (wish we could leave him loose to roam the farm at will, but he immediately heads up the road to our neighbours’ potato barns and corners the workers with his barking and growling.  He thinks that barn is part of HIS farm, and he gets angry that they are there. And with his track record for biting, we have to be very careful in summer that he only roams free after dark!)  Mom is also the resident feeder/protector of hummingbirds, the other great pollinator we must value at all costs.  Hummingbirds can’t smell, so are most attracted to the colour red, and thus this box (and the old red glass feeder full of sugar water hanging beside it) is a perfect offering.

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You’ll see there are also some trumpet flowers in Mom’s flower box mix, which the hummingbirds love because the shape of their beaks and tongues fit in so well.  In the left side of the box, I stuck in a scarlet runner bean seed which, I discovered last year, come up quickly, have a lovely red flower later in the season, but are a quick answer if you want some trailing vines.  I’ve also planted a few in our side porch brick planters, where Mom put other flower seeds such as nasturtiums.  These plants are fully edible and growing them can lure aphids away from other plants in the garden as well!  “Nasties” as I call them (because they AREN’T)  are easy to grow and may be climbing, cascading or bushy, so these permanent porch planters were a perfect spot for both those and my scarlet runner beans, which were planted a week AFTER, but are already inches above!

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Right now, the pastures and meadows are full of daisies, clover, smaller dandelion varieties and the bright orange hawkweed.  While Chevy doesn’t like eating any of those, he is not averse to having a sniff of the posies from time to time.

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Apparently it is called hawkweed because it originally only grew in higher altitudes, where only the hawk and eagle could access it.  An old saying advises that if it be given to any horse it ‘will cause that he shall not be hurt by the smith that shooeth him.’  Luckily for us, we don’t shoe Chevy, as he is only interested in giving these a passing sniff!    (Apparently, the powdered leaves of the hawkweed (called mouse-ear in other countries) is an excellent astringent in haemorrhaging).

The wild mixture of white, yellow and orange will be part of the backdrop for where the vows will be exchanged next June:

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where Richard’s niece and her fiance plan to stand to get wed by our own Pastor Ralph next June

But, again because of the name of our farm (really from Blue Bell Mountain, so called NOT because there are bluebells growing wild, but the colour and shape of the mountain’s shadow) AND the fact that Richard’s niece has chosen purple as her main wedding colour, we would like a lot of our own wildflower plantings to be in shades of blues, greys and purples as well.  And since I arrived here last May 24th, I’ve been trying to get some wildflower seeds to ‘take’.  Especially between the apple trees, which is the same view as the above photo, which is where the wedding guests will be seated on straw bales.  But the ground needs better working, I guess, so yesterday I had Richard do a light tilling and I threw down a bit fertilizer to try and entice the seeds. Some may be too old, but we are so far behind in sun/heat this summer, I feel sure we may still get some to poke up and blossom. As I also have wanted a little winding path and English garden here, especially since first seeing this view (below) from Google satellite last FEBRUARY, I decided to put in a bit of work on this yesterday, despite the fact that there was a light “English” rain coming down as there has been most days for a ‘fortnight’ !

painting of bluebelldon farm

Here’s Richard rototilling where we want to sprinkle wildflower seeds, and where we already have a few bulbs planted as well (and of course, a scarlet runner bean and a few morning glories… to do some climbing!)

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He made a few little paths that wound through the trees, and I then drove back to our Rasmussen Brook and picked up mostly flat stones for a bit of a ‘flagstone’ effect, that hopefully the flowers might grow around:

I then scattered AND poked little holes for the following:

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The above, then, is what I call “Bride’s Bough”, where Richard’s niece will walk, and, if anything goes according to plan, she’ll have some blue and purple wildflowers mixed in with daisies, etc. on both her right and left as she walks down the ‘aisle’…  More on this garden as it progresses…

If you’ve been regularly following this blog since last year, you’ll know that I ripped out many of the old 1970s cupboards and drawers, and, always re-using, I fashioned an ‘herb garden’ on the front porch for them.  While really only borage and a few morsels of parsley came up last year, they little gardens are looking much better this year, and a wee sign given us as a going-away present with a box of herbs, by the kind Olavesons of Carlisle tinkles away in the wind as the animals rest in the shade.

 

I love having a few herbs growing right to hand.  The kitchen is just inside that Dutch door, so it’ a simple thing to trot out and get whatever seasoning I need, nice and fresh!

 One of the sites I use regularly for help on various gardening and orchard matters is https://www.growveg.com/  by Barbara Pleasant and others.  There is a wealth of reliable (unlike so much supposition opined on the internet!) information here, and I enjoy reading various uses for herbs, especially. I also grow certain herbs  for a variety of reasons not so commonly known, such as borage, cat-nip, basil and parsley. These aren’t just for quick seasonings or garnishes! (ie: catnip has anti-bacterial qualities). So if you’re interested, have a look at the PLEASANT site!  One tip I especially want to try this year is, to keep my herbs fresh throughout the winter, making ice cubes with them rather than hanging them all.  Then you can just pop the ice cube in your stews or soups or teas!!!

Lastly, and from the end TO the end, rather, I want to talk about Chevy’s manure pile. You can’t have ANY fauna without a bit of that delightful ‘end result’, so why not discuss it?  Horse manure is easy to compost and takes about four to six weeks to turn from stable waste to garden gold if you do it properly. Composting does take some effort, however.  Constructing a pile about 3 to 4 feet high helps the process to go faster. (Any higher than that, and you can have spontaneous combustion – one stable I used to work for had to have the fire department out TWICE in the space of four months!) Turning the pile over frequently adds oxygen that speeds up the composting process.  When the pile no longer feels hot and the composted manure resembles dark brown garden soil, it is safe to use on your garden.  It doesn’t have to be a year old, as many say.

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There’s our pile, collected from both the stall and the pastures since Chevy arrived in the 2nd week of May.  Note we are keeping it right near the garden for easy access~!

Now, I’m sorry if after a lovely showing of blossoms and cute photos of animals, you are offended by this ‘end’ result , but life isn’t always about poetry and aromatic thoughts, you know.  Sometimes it takes excrement to CREATE that beauty and romanticism…”

“After dinner they met again, to speak not of Byron but of manure. The other people were so clever and so amusing that it relieved her to listen to a man who told her three times not to buy artificial manure ready made, but, if she would use it, to make it herself”
E.M. Forster, The Longest Journey

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Founders’ Days Festivities, Farmers’ Feats, and the ‘Famous Foot Folly’.

DUE TO THE POWER OUTAGE ACROSS NORTH EASTERN N.B., THIS BLOG HAS BEEN DELAYED. My apologies to those who were expecting photos before bed-time!

NOTE:  IF YOU KNOW ME, YOU KNOW I AM THE 4 ‘E’s that are NEVER at EASE.  

I am an entertainer, an educator, an environmentalist and an equestrian.  Most of my blog postings have a few of the 4 ‘E’s’.  This one has them all. If you don’t like one of the ELEMENTS, skip ahead.  But I suggest you open your mind to further learning and DON’T skip the educational bits.  Because if you do – that other ‘e’ word – ‘EARTH’  – will soon be lost.

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I am somewhat amazed, looking back,  that in the last month we have pulled off what I think of as “Farmer’s Feats”. ‘Cause there’s no one tougher and in some ways, more miracle-making, than a farmer, right?   In 4 weeks, we have had two new and sick animals finally settled and growing healthier each day, AND managed to cut and harrow our top hayfield, plant a timothy mixture, AND  put in over a 1/4 acre of vegetable/herb and berry garden for our self-sufficient aspirations for the next year.  And among all this, those of us at Blue Belldon Farm have also managed to take part in the special (only every 5 years) 145th Founder’s Day of this lovely rural community of New Denmark. Richard, Mom/Joy and I have even managed to volunteer to help out a bit with all the festivities, although we were constantly having to run back to the farm to feed and do chores, water the massive garden, etc.

As a Musical Theatre/English teacher for 15 years and as a full-time riding instructor in 3 countries for 20 years before that, you gotta know I’m gonna love the chance to WEAR A  COSTUME and RIDE THROUGH GORGEOUS COUNTRYSIDE simultaneously!  Thus, disregarding two bad knees and my 3 former back surgeries, (not to mention the fact that Chevy came to us with a viral infection!) I was determined to ride in this year’s 4.5 km parade- as by the 150th one (ie: the next one!) I might have to submit to being shoved along in a wheelchair.  I find it a sad state of affairs that I was once able to mount a 16:3 hh  jiggling thoroughbred stallion from the ground (and dismount by dropping both stirrups and springing down!) and am now reduced to THIS:

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This is the mounting block area from which Richard and I now always mount, not just for decrepit old me, but for poor Chevy’s muscular atrophy in his back.  (It is really no longer considered good for a horse’s spine to mount from the ground anyway).  This is Richard’s niece Carriann, who, as part of our parade preparations, helped us put some miles on Chevy to get him in better condition.  The New Denmark parade goes 4.5 k straight up two giant hills from the museum to the recreation centre.  To top it all off, we are 2 k from the museum, AND, at one point, we were afraid we’d have to ride him all the way home again as well! (more on this later!)

Another part of Chevy’s conditioning plan has been to get ‘beefed-up’ with both beet pulp (you MUST expand this in water or it could kill a horse with colic!) and alfalfa pellets, as well as various vitamin boosts the vet recommended.  So, at 5:30 every morning one of us trails to the barn to bring Chevy in from his night-time grazing (out of the sun and the blackflies). We call this the Bathrobe and Bucket Brigade.  Sometimes Richard even has to wear his fly-hat, because as per last week’s blog, the blackflies are at their VERY worst at dawn and dusk!

Bucket and Bathrobe Brigade

Mom/Joy captured both the above photos from her upstairs windows, and she has contributed to many of the shots incl. in this blog as I was WAY too busy this past weekend to be snapping away…  Other photo contributors are listed below.

Besides mine and poor Chevy’s physical discomfort at most minutes of the day, (anti-inflammatories go a long way to easing us both!) the other fear we had for his being away for the better part of a full day was Cammie the goat’s co-dependency.  As described in previous blog articles, if you can’t have a horse companion for your equine, a goat is the next best thing,  (we plan to start milking her next year anyway, so a goat was the definitive  ‘must-be-useful’ answer!) You’ll often see highly strung race horses and show-jumpers with a goat in their stall.  However, Cammie has taken her love to a whole other level.  When left alone, she bleats for hours until exhaustion forces her to lie down and snooze! The other day after I brought Chevy in from just an hour’s ride, I saw Cammie stand on her hind legs and attempt to put her front legs around his neck in an embrace.  No word of a lie.  Of course I didn’t have my trusty camera along at that point!  When she’s loose around the farm and she sees him coming back from a ride, she tears across the grass to be close to him:

cammie, chevy and carriann

With an hour-long ‘logistics’ meeting and armed with the ‘best-laid plans’ (you know where THAT’S going, right Robbie Burns?) Richard and I spent Friday taking care of the ‘polishing and decorating’ for the parade.  That is, he was responsible for cleaning his ’73 Nova (after which Chevy is of course named) and I was responsible for bathing and braiding said horse.  And, with the exception of Richard  (and sometimes Mom, but she has age as an excuse) forgetting nearly every single POINT on the Logistics List the next day, (ie: unloading a whole car full of packed items that were meant for the other end of the parade!)  as well as Richard ripping part of my carefully-sewn costume, pulling out several of Chevy’s meticulously-braided plaits, squashing his own cowboy hat (the same worn by Miss New Denmark in the hill-billy dance of their pageant, incidentally!) being late back to meet neighbour Zeb who was travelling in the Nova with him, and then – my Dear Dork’s piece-de-resistance! – proceeding to get stepped on by Chevy’s gi-normous soup plate hooves so that everyone in hearing distance of him for the next 12 hours had to hear (and SEE) all about it, WE PULLED OFF AN AMAZING FEAT by, ‘gettin’ ‘er done’.  We DID, sadly, miss the Friday night dance, as we were just plumb tuckered out (do I sound like an Appalachian gal yet?) but let me share the REST of the 145th Founders’ Day experience with you all:

If you haven’t been following the history of New Denmark’s farm and forest folk on this blog, and esp. if you’re from Ontario, Montana, West Yorkshire, Scotland, South Africa, or any of the other places my friends and former students are following from, I’ll give you a quick summary:

Many of the original Danes came in June of 1872 aboard the Empress, arriving in Saint John.  They were then paddle-wheeled up the Salmon River (just below us at the bottom of Lucy’s Gulch, the history of which I wrote about last spring here, if you use the ‘gulch’ as a search word within this blog) arriving at the gravel bank on the opposite side of Drummond , N.B.  This all concurred with the redrafting of the Free Grants Act and redistribution of land parcels.  However, as Pastor Ralph Weigold of our St. Peter’s church reminded us in our outdoor service yesterday, most of the Danes likely thought they were getting already-cleared and even established farm land, when in fact all of their 100 acre tracts were nothing but thick forest!  Determined, nonetheless, these Danes with their stoic Viking blood officially climbed Lucy’s Gulch to this flatter land up top, on June 19th of 1872,  settling in to help each other begin clearing for the next many years, all sharing  “Immigrant House” until their log cabins (such as what is still our downstairs master bedroom—- see also former posts with tag word “Ida May”) Eventually, these founding families formed the largest and what would become the oldest Danish community in Canada! And so a very happy June 19th today!

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Richard kindly saved my butt (and I do mean literally) by riding the 2km from Blue Belldon Farm to the museum.  I set Chevy up behind the back buildings in his temporary electric ‘holding area’ and began the last of his preparations and decor (as seen above) while we waited for the one and only other rider I was able to secure with ties to the ‘local’ (based over 45 min. away, but that’s ‘local’ in N.B.!)   Valley Horse and Saddle Club (for whom I am teaching a clinic next weekend – spots still available!) And here I want to thank the indomitable spirit of Mrs. Kim Tompkins. She was the only one to volunteer to help me (for I’d have never taken a 5 year-old youngster in this by myself, no matter how “bomb-proof” his previous owners claimed him to be!) .  And what’s a parade without at least a FEW horses? Not only did Kim trailer all the way up here from AN HOUR AND 15 MINUTES SOUTH, but so did a supportive car-load of her family who were a great help to both of us as well!  And not only did Kim arrange all this, she REMADE over an old prom dress she had worn previously, to be in New Denmark’s red and white colours, AND she crocheted her 24 year old “Champ” his own fly cap AND her own feathery/flowery creation to cover her riding helmet.  Here’s a few of the two of us, taken in front of New Denmark’s big ‘flag’ and in front of the museum before we left. (They should enlarge if you click on them.)

Despite my Drama background, my ‘costume’ paled next to Kim’s.  It IS, however, in true eco-friendly style, as is Kim’s (either recycle it or home-make it!) The coat is from a huntsman’s uniform from a theatre I worked at in Yorkshire in the late 1990s.  The lace at my throat was the petticoat of a dress my mother ‘made’ me wear when I was a toddler.  The polo wraps and breastplate were articles of clothing I bought at Value Village and ‘revised’. The bows and flowers were all left-overs from the beauty pageant last month.  And the boots, on which I painted the New Denmark flag, were actually taken out of a pile of junk to cut-up for pieces to use for Rustic Revivals’ work!  But, while Kim was talented enough to crochet HER horse’s ear and eye protector, I made poor Chevy go about with a cut-up old rag-rug (also a Value Village purchase) on his head!  Never mind how it looked.  I stitched in his ear cones and made the fringe to protect his eyes from those nasty-biting black flies and horse/deer flies and he was happy.

horses, parade, 2017

The above photo and many below were taken by Kim’s daughter, the very helpful Natasha (following us with her family in the van, to make sure the rest of the ‘followers’ didn’t come too close to us!  While the fire department held up most of the ‘traffic’ (if 3 cars which is a ‘jam’ in N.D. can be so-called)  at the few rural intersections, we DID have a long stream of cars behind us that were all apparently parade followers going to the rec. centre for festivities!) I had asked Parade Marshall Hansen if we could please be at the very back of the parade to avoid the many tooting horns, air brakes, popping balloons, and bag-pipers that I thought might spook the young Chevy, but as soon as he ‘met’ (didn’t allow them to touch as per rules for horses that have been virally infected) old Champ he was calm.  In fact, I ALMOST suspect he’s done a parade previously – he really didn’t even raise a hair when the pipers started up!

Mom/Joy took great pride in telling these folks that her father was from Aberdeen and that EVERYONE in this community wasn’t Danish.  She says they seemed excited to meet someone else from a ‘kilted’ background.  She took the two photos above, and some of the below parade shots.  Most, however, were taken by the excellent photographer, Shelly Snow, who says these are just ‘highlights’ of all she did take.  Thanks to all three ladies, Natasha, Joy and Shelly for the attention to detail. Kim and I didn’t even get to SEE most of these parade entries, as there were two big gaps in the parade itself, not to mention the 4.5 km we had to spread out over.  If you click on each photo, it will expand, and there may be a caption I’ve written under each explaining something as well:

As planned on our Logistics List, my back and knees did not hold up for the full 4.5 k.  So Richard met me where Mom had parked, at the last intersection (Salmonhurst) and used her little step-ladder to clamber aboard. Thus it was he who rode the last mile or so while I followed in Mom’s reclined leather seats!

parade, richard up

What an old fogey I’ve become !But thanks, Richard, for saving me here, as well! Hard to believe I used to 3-day event, covering many miles at a gallop and jumping big FIXED fences over which one could topple at any second.  And now I’m afraid to ride behind a tractor at a WALK!  Ah, those were the days…

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parade, 145

After the parade, way up the road at the rec. centre, folk dancing and children’s face-painting and games were organized, but Chevy and Champ mostly just wanted to relax and graze: (click on each to read captions).  And then, SOOOOO grateful to Kim and family for helping us load Chevy on their trailer and having him brought home! Saved either Richard or myself having to be dead sore by riding all the 6.5 km back! And then – hurrah!  Cammie had survived her day alone without any visible health issues!

More Danish festivities took place through the afternoon here:

That night, after a cold plate supper was served at the Anglican church (right across from St. Peter’s, as you’ll have witnessed above in the parade shot with the tractor), Mom and I helped sell ‘candles’ (please refer to my attempts to keep my mouth shut about New Brunswick rural areas NOT being at all eco-friendly later in this post!) and much like my former walk down the Bronte’s Haworth Main Street hill exactly 20 years ago, I enjoyed watching others (including Joy/Mom) do the same. The Historical Society was also selling memorial luminary bags which were spread in a circle around the museum grounds where hot dogs were being sold by “The Tiara Club”.  Richard was across the road with former and present Founders’ Day presidents, Peter and Chris, helping prepare the fireworks spectacular.  I think if Peter and Chris had any IDEA of the sort of accidental mania all Reich men are drawn to, they would NOT have let Richard sit over there.  As it was, only one car almost blew up with a firecracker going through its open windows (this is an exaggeration and other comments about this are considered humour-rumour only!)  and Chris did a dance like a leotarded ballerina when a mass of sparks ignited sideways and he went home to check for holes in his legs.  However, gents – may I suggest NOT inviting Richard to your cosy corner for the 150th celebrations?  I mean, wasn’t the half-hour you endured looking at his ever-blackening and swelling foot enough to warn you that he isn’t a chap who should be allowed near anything more dangerous than a sleepy Clydesdale?

I very much enjoyed driving after Pastor Ralph’s end-car flashing hazards to slow down the (non-existent) New Denmark ‘traffic’.  I was there just in case Mom didn’t feel up to walking the 2 km, but well done on her. She did it! So I unrolled the windows and enjoyed the spring peepers and fireflies along the lovely quiet rural route.  However, when arriving at the museum I discovered to my dismay that SO many people had been asking to use the museum bathrooms, that they’d closed them off.  Not to be an ‘I told you so’, but I DO remember asking at one of the organizing meetings if we couldn’t have a ‘porta-potty’ dropped off at the museum grounds as well as the two at the rec. centre.  Just something to keep in mind for the 150th, as there were also MANY parade entrants asking to use the museum facilities that afternoon, prior to the long parade!  Instead, desperate, I went in search of a bush behind some trees behind the parking area.  Just as I yanked down my leggings and squatted my aching back and knees, didn’t the men set off their fireworks right behind me, illuminating my bare buttocks in a spasm of disco-revival ‘mooning’.  And then of course, two cars decided to pull over on to the shoulder right then to watch.  Here’s hoping their eyes were entranced upwards, because if they glanced sideways I was only about 15 ft. from their passenger side window.  And if you WERE treated to that sneak-peek, folks – well, I can only say you just had an authentic taste of what the Founding Families had to endure when crowded together in Immigrant House 145 years ago! But without the exciting light and sound show!

The next day, Sunday (yesterday) we were up early to feed and do barn chores, then off to the museum grounds to help clean up and prepare for the big Danish lunch that was being served after the church service.   Now, while I WAS assured that all the empty pop cans I gathered up the night before were being recycled (N.B. has a redemption plan, so why would you throw money away? And yet, every day I see at least 3 new cans lying in the lovely wild-flower-filled ditches along our rural roads! What the hell is WRONG with people? It’s not just distressing to see from an aesthetic point, it is disastrous for wildlife that can get cut or stuck with it, and it NEVER breaks down so will be part of the ‘earth’ from which I’m trying to FEED MY FAMILY!  And if you aren’t used to reading/listening to my environmental rants, this is part of why I started this blog, so prepare yourself! This next bit is the important EDUCATIONAL part. Take the high ground before it erodes !  READ IT!)

These issues that are very close to my heart because of my love of nature, and the countryside are something I’ve fought for since I was 8 years old holding up a banner saying “Please Don’t Pollute” along our busy Ontario highway.  But Ontario HAS (out of necessity for better education on the issues) ‘cleaned itself up’.  Quebec is also much better with its recycling programs. However, as soon as you cross the border into New Brunswick, and as the scenery gets MORE beautiful in the mountains, that’s when the littering gets worse.  And thus, as we began food prep. for the day, I was flabbergasted at the amount of stryofoam plates vs. paper.  FACT: Styrofoam manufacturers are continually in the top five of the largest producers of toxic waste. FACT: Styrene, the material in Styrofoam,  leaks out large amounts of ozone, and this causes irritation of the skin, eyes and respiratory tract and gastrointestinal problems. In humans AND wildlife/livestock. Chronic exposure affects the nervous system, causing symptoms like depression, headache, fatigue and weakness, and minor effects on kidney function and blood. And people, this is LEAKING INTO OUR EARTH AND OUR WATER SUPPLIES!   FACT: Styrofoam is non-biodegradable and non-recyclable. Styrofoam takes 500 years to decompose; it cannot be recycled, so the Styrofoam cups and plates and packing materials dumped in landfills are there to STAY. Forever.  With enough Styrofoam cups produced each DAY – each DAY, folks —- to CIRCLE THE EARTH if lined up end to end, the potential for major ecological impact is staggering.  What’s wrong with paper plates? Even doubled?  They can be recycled, and, though it isn’t the BEST, can be burned.

Now, I’m already shocked at , and have written about, the amount of plastic bags used by New Brunswick as a whole.  How can one province be so far behind the others in simply taking their own fabric shopping bags to the grocery stores? It is the government of New Brunswick’s fault for not educating its citizens, OR  in offering better recycling plans.  I wonder if my new New Brunswick friends and neighbours even KNOW that most of the other provinces are at 70 percent fabric grocery bag usage? Because most of the check-out staff here stare at you uncomprehendingly when you stop them from whipping out a plastic bag by saying “No thanks – I have my own”.  They truly don’t seem to know what you’re talking about!  And I wonder if the good folk of New Brunswick know that most other provinces, (and even the cities here) have curb-side blue-bins for putting your aluminum and plastics  – yes, even in rural areas?  And I’ve been putting my recycling in a blue bin at my rural abode for 35 YEARS.   So how can N.B. be so far behind?

N.B. has in my opinion, among the most beautiful scenery of any in North America (and yes, I’ve seen and even lived in most states and provinces incl. right in the Rockies).  But OH!    They have to catch up in learning to RECYCLE, REDUCE AND REUSE so that this beautiful landscape is preserved to the fullest!   To see the garbage bags at the museum and rec. centre FULL TO OVER-FLOWING with plastic tablecloths used to decorate the floats and to cover tables (not to mention the balloons from which even a pin-prick of its surface can kill a lovely song-bird!  COME ON, EVERYONE!   LET’S USE FABRIC TO DECORATE,  LIKE OUR ANCESTORS… isn’t that what we’re celebrating?  And don’t buy your fabric new, use old clothes, etc. like Kim and I did for our costumes!   JUST RE-USE, RE-USE!!!!  Stop being a disposable society like the ‘powers that be’ want us to be (’cause we spend more money and give it to them!) . See my former postings on the horrific effects of plastic in our world here:   posts within this blog entitled “Taken at the Flood” and “Blue Belldon Basement Grow Op” have some truly shocking facts and photographs that you won’t BELIEVE )  Plastic flowers, plastic glasses (incl. those we sold for people to hold in the DISPOSABLE battery-operated CANDLES for the ‘torchlights’ which made me CRINGE in SORROW !!! Two types of plastic going into landfills because we have no regular recycling program here AND the amount of battery acid which will now permeate into the soil, groundwater and surface water through landfills and also release toxins into the air when they are burnt in municipal waste combustors.  Also, the cadmium in even those wee batteries is easily taken up by plant roots and it accumulates in fruits, vegetables and grass. The impure water and plants in turn are consumed by animals and human beings, who then fall prey to a host of ill-effects.  And you wonder why we all have   cancer?????)

Now, don’t get me started on the environmental ill-effects of the exhaust fumes and noise pollution of Richard’s Nova, because I’ve fought and fought, and it’s a losing battle, just as my rants about all the rest of this misuse probably are, but lastly, there’s a delicious Danish dish called Ableskivers which are wee warm doughnuts.  But when I asked for another task yesterday, I was delegated the duty of rolling up over 60 tin foil balls to put in the bottom of crock pots for these doughnuts to stay warm without getting soggy.  I did it.  And was silent for about the first 20 minutes.  And then I just HAD to open my mouth.

“I haven’t touched tin foil in at least 2 years, ladies.  I never use it at home.  There’s always an alternative…”  and then I bit my lip, but was thinking that there must be ways – like crushed pop cans in the bottom instead, which are then recycled/redeemed?  Or even little metal racks?  I’m sure there are loads of other ways to do this without all this nasty tin foil!  LAST FACT :  The amount of aluminum foil thrown away by North Americans EACH YEAR could build an entire fleet of aircraft!  And yet again, those balls will end up in landfills, and possibly stuck in a rabbit’s or gentle doe’s throat so that it dies slowly of starvation or chokes…  And yet recycling just ONE aluminum can could save the power needed to light up your entire house for 3 hours! Anyway, I walked away from the aluminum balls issue.  Very brave of me. Lots of fortitude.  Another ‘farmer’s feat’. But I did NOT want to know where they ended up! (Oh, who’m I kidding? I KNOW!)

So, back to the more pleasant topics of the 3rd day of the Founders’ Day weekend (because we are all anxious to behave like the ostrich and simply bury our heads in the plastic-encrusted beach sands. You all complain there’s no more fish in our rivers and ocean? Or that it’s so expensive to purchase?  This is why)…plastic on beach

First we had the wonderful outdoor church service, joined by both of our community’s Lutheran churches as well as the congregation of St. Ansgar’s, the Anglican one.  Our Pastor Ralph did a wonderful job on the sermon which included imagining what the pioneers went through when they arrived and had to clear the land and live together in one building, as well as sprinkling his message with words of HOPE for a community where many of the Danish traditions are thought to be ‘dwindling’ and where many of the younger generations are leaving the beautiful countryside for the technology of the cities and towns.  Pastor is singing with the New Denmark Minstrels at the Perth/Andover  July 1st celebrations, as is organist/guitarist and soprano Sonja (in red).  I do hope many New Denmarkers will bring a lawn chair and come listen to all the choirs (incl. 150 voices for the 150th!) and instrumentalists from 4 to 7 on that day in Veteran’s Field.  Bliss MacDonald (son of Phyllis who was born in this house as per many former blog entries/history of Blue Belldon Farm – just tag search with her name within this blog) did some lovely readings for this service in his calm and soothing “Mr. Rogers” voice.  The music by these local musicians was uplifting as were the melodies answered in return by the many birds in the surrounding woods chirping through the delicate mist.

pastor ralph

phyllis, Bliss

The above is a great shot that means a lot to us at Blue Belldon Farm, and taken by my mother, Joy.  It’s of former teacher and Avon-calling! Phyllis Macdonald, with two of her children.  As regular readers of this blog will know, we welcomed Bliss (left) and his mother to our home just after Christmas because Phyllis’ mother, Ida May (older sister of local historian/author Carrie Albert) came here to the log cabin that is now our master bedroom when she was a 16-year-old bride. Ida grew up one road over, then came here, had 5 children, planted many flowers and fruit trees, (some of which we still reap the blossoming benefits) then died age 33, in 1931.  My tribute song to her, “Ida May”, is to be sung by the aforementioned Minstrels, at the July 1st Perth concert as well, with Bliss and Phyllis’ blessing.

on stageThe mural on the stage wall shows the land-clearing the pioneers (Danish Founding Fathers) had to do when they first arrived. In the foreground is the stunning  Miss N.B. from 2016 ,  Marielle Ouellette  and our present (and for the next 5 years!) reigning Queen of New Denmark, Megan Bach, who did a lovely speech.

Finally, below, Anna and Sonja , both sopranoes, had a little entertainment to add to the Memorial Service line-up.  Also seen in the mural to the right is the replica of Immigration House where so many ancestors of this community struggled to survive in their first few years here before their own homesteads were habitable.

anna and sonja

Thus ends our first Founder’s Day experiences, and the Danish-inspired open-faced liver pate sandwich I had yesterday for lunch is still very much remaining with me, as will all the memories made by this community’s endeavours to celebrate the nearly unbelievable efforts of the generations past…

In closing, I leave you with this.  (Horse people and those that know any of the Reichs well will be unimpressed, but he’s hoping to garner some sympathy from the rest of you…)

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If you’re coming to New Brunswick this summer to tour, the New Denmark museum is a must-see (as is the surrounding area with its amazing views from up here  – above Lucy’s Gulch, that is) .  The following is some info. that might intrigue you further. And we’re JUST off the Trans Canada, so really – right along your way to All Points Atlantic!

http://www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca/Products/N/New-Denmark-Memorial-Museum.aspx

Rates:
Free
Dates:
18 June – 27 Aug.
Tel:
506-553-6724
Off-season:
506-553-6584
6 Main New Denmark Rd.
New Denmark

 

 

 

 

 

Fish, Flies and FIELDing Problems

Fish, Flies and FIELDing Problems – the Farmer in Armor

The problems started a week ago
When Rich and Zeb went fishing
To try and start our winter's hoard
- But that was hopeful wishing!

Richard snagged just a few
And Zeb gave us one he caught.
And in all the things we've learned here:
Cleaning fish in my kitchen - N O T !!!!!


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The smell that night started making me sick
And all next day I was struggling
But opening the top half of the Dutch door,
Then closing it, freezing, took juggling

Between that fresh air method and
The burning beeswax - what else was used?
Oh, vinegar!  So then our house stank  
 Of fish AND the latter-- and I was NOT amused.

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Three days later, chilly and cold
'Cause the door was open for air
But the houseflies, blackflies and horseflies too
Were now inside and - we hadn't a prayer!

The second the snows melt away in N.B.
The blackflies are on us in swarms
And these aren't like Ontario ones -
They are smaller, and multiply as the air warms...

Only the females bite, they say -
But boy there are plenty of THOSE!
And though we're up high with lots of breeze
And with open land - ANYTHING goes

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They are so small, and NOT very black
But the damage they cause is great
While trying to mow and harrow the fields
Richard's temples and neck were well-ate!

And while Mom plants the flowers, and I the veg,
We all three must bundle in armor
And poor Chevy, too, or he can't go to graze!
Ye GADS -  the life of a farmer!
So while we MUST be outside during the day,
With planting and sowing of seed
Mostly Chevy, and Smitty and Cammie too
Are INSIDE, where it's more black-fly-freed.

But with feeling sick from bug bites and flu,
Chevy doesn't want to eat much at all
He's on antibiotics, and pain-killers, too
SO... he's not happy out OR in stall!

And Cammie's twice gotten loose and run out
And eaten tomato plants started downstairs
Then nurtured along by yours truly...
Oh, the problems and woes and cares!!!

When they graze in the daylight, they are eaten alive
You can see their tails try, but in vain
(Especially since draft horse guys cut them SHORT
Which gives Chevy MORE of a strain!) 

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So Chevy goes out at night to eat 
When it's chilly and damp and cold
And Cammie bleats from the barn for her pal
So there's all kinds of unrest in the fold!

And though their summer food is a problem,
Their winter food is now our main thought.
The field's been prepared with that new harrow 
And now here we become MUCH over-wrought.

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For in the long grass the blackflies rest
Awaiting the approach of fresh protein
That comes with our blood, those bastard swarms!
(If only they sucked FAT and made us lean!)

So we take turns on the back of the pickup truck
Which overheats constantly and stops
And we leave it and go on to something else
Then come back for more broadcasting crops.

We toss out the timothy into the wind
And pray that many seeds 'take'
We may only get one hay-cutting this year:
But FINE QUALITY, thanks to harrow and rake?

However, yesterday, on the tailgate alone,
Broadcasting and enjoying the heat
('Twas the first hot day we've had
And -  less blackflies ? Oh, Gosh- what a treat!)

I let my left leg dangle down
With pant-leg tucked into sock
And my right leg straddled the sack of seed...
I was ready with bug-spray, sun-block!

(All natural, of course, and may not work as well
As the chemical ones from the store,
Because, unbeknownst to me, 
The blackflies were.  .  .   EVENING THE SCORE).

Mom and Richard have both had bites
All over their bodies and hair
But so far, I've had better luck,
As I take garlic and dress with great care!

But here's my left ankle yesterday:
I was oblivious to all this going on
As the blackflies anaesthetize first 
And THEN it's their major blood drawn.
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You can see where my sock was tight
Because my pant leg was tucked in,
But apparently this doesn't much help
As my hairy legs are bitten heel to shin!

And today they are swollen and infected
And of course itchy as hell!
I reapply soda paste 3 times an hour
And curse the Mount of Blue Bell!

Yes the view is amazing and lovely
And the lilacs and tree blossoms too
But this week has been nightmarish for all who live
At the farm aptly named as "blue"....

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 And now Chevy's form of black-fly fever
May well be setting in to me too
But at least MY antibiotics are 'covered'
And won't break the bank as HIS do!

vet bills



 

 

 

 



			
		

Rain, Reins, and Reigning – some ‘harrowing’ experiences!

When I was 21 I had several bad shocks in a row and a friend in Pittsburgh offered to let me come stay for a few weeks to try and come to grips.  But on the Greyhound bus on the way down, an incident took place at the border which has consistently made me get my back up with border officials and any type of what I call ‘jumped-up power-mongers’.  So often, border security (and this is long before 9/11, of course) have for some reason, seen little old  innocent me who has never broken the law or even had one full drink of an alcoholic beverage and promptly decide I look ‘suspicious’ . ( Why? Am I so plain Jane that I’m always resembling someone on the current WANTED lists ?  Or is it because of my NAME – there ARE an awful lot of Julie Ann Johnsons —all named after the hill-billy blues song? —and a number of those I’ve googled in the past DO have criminal records!)  Anyway, I was chosen out of the busload of at least 50 people to be dragged into the border office.  After being nearly suicidal for some weeks, and being a young and naive 21, this was more than my nerves could bear and I remember standing there, shaking and teary-eyed while the officious officials went through my pockets, my suitcase and my handbag.  In said bag they found a letter from my younger teen-age cousins who thought it would be funny to slip in a 3-page note ‘from my horse’ at the time: “Cupid” .  (I didn’t name him,  (she says defensively!) —they did.  He was born on Valentine’s Day and had an upside down heart for a star on his forehead).  This note was a straightforward well-wishing bon voyage kind of thing, and I expect they were trying to cheer me up at the time.  But they wrote it in a funny childish slanted style, emulating, I suppose, what they thought a young colt might ‘write’ like?

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But the border guards thought this worthy of an HOUR of their attention, trying to ‘translate’ what they thought were double-meaning, cryptic messages, and asking me countless questions over and over.  Finally, after holding up the bus for this long, the bus driver came in and said I’d either have to be allowed to leave, or he’d have to drive on without me.  They let me go, (but kept the letter,) and oh! the embarrassment of getting back on that bus!

So traumatized was I by this experience that my kind mother and father (he was still alive in the beginning of 1985, but he died that November, making it one of the worst years of my life, all told!) sent money for me to FLY home, thinking this would be less complicated.  But the same thing happened!  As I disembarked from the plane in Toronto, I was taken into a small room, made to strip down to my underwear while they ‘patted me down’, and each and every embarrassing item from my suitcase was removed and examined.

I will never know what/who they were searching for, but this has always remained with me every time I travel, probably making me seem more nervous and suspicious than I normally would do!  The border patrol people, in my experience up until last year, are uneducated, power-hungry control freaks who LOOK for something to do when they are a bit bored – and I’m sorry if some nice person reading this is related to some equally nice person who HAPPENS to be a border official… They make it clear they are the ROYALTY of the borders, the King or Queen of their Land, and they see me coming and put out the DO NOT ENTER sign.

That is, at least, until recently.  Since moving here to N.B., and this quiet back-water rural area, we have had occasion to travel back and forth to Maine many times.  Both the Canadians and Americans have always been perfectly pleasant, and some even chatty!  They live right there, too, so they come to know everyone personally – and many are just youngsters, fresh out of college – all of which has given me a whole other outlook.  Yesterday we went to visit Harvey Miller, a Mennonite gentleman who has his own harness shop. We were told to go to him for a harness for Chevy, rather than bidding for one at auction, or trying to buy new or online.  Mr. Miller has been MOST helpful (more on this below) and the border people didn’t even mind our purchasing a brand new harrow, collar, pitchfork, whippletree, AND REINS as well as a used harness with matching bridle and bit.  ALL for under 1,000.00 ! Try to do that online or in a Co-op/Tack store!  The border folk just smiled and waved us through…

Here are the two ‘dolls-house’, river-front borders at which we regularly cross – Limestone and Bridgewater:

And the very mottoes used on the signs affirm our reasons for wanting to move here to ‘live the simpler life’…. Love them!   So life near a border is no longer like this:

cartoon

But rather more like this:

border

The only other time in my LIFE where I felt this unencumbered at a border was the first time I went to live in England in 1997.  Having made sure ALL my paper work was in order and then in triplicate!, and already having a teaching job to go to, I was fairly confident.  It was late at night u.k. time and after I told him I was coming to LIVE and WORK there, the border guard glanced at my passport and paperwork and waved me on through.  I couldn’t believe it. I said “Is that ALL?”  (and thinking – “What, no handcuffs? Not even a blood test?”)   He shrugged tiredly and said “Ma’m – you’re coming here to live and if you choose to run amok with a meat cleaver there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it!”  So he wasn’t really King of the Castle in this instance, I guess – more like a world-weary Cinderella whose glass slipper didn’t fit quite right.

Speaking of royalty – and high-heeled shoes – this past week has been the New Denmark Queen’s Pageant, on which committee I’ve been heavily involved the last 3 months (see previous blog ” ….Hootenanny”).  This is the main reason I didn’t post a blog last week! … But, meanwhile,  exhausted and stressed, I stupidly went in this condition to a court in Edmunston on Thursday (the day of the final dress rehearsal for the pageant!) to support one of our neighbours in an ongoing trial that started more than 12 years ago!  Her supporters have gradually been dwindling away and she needed some ‘new blood’! Although it’s not really at a court-house, just a couple of rooms above a shopping mall which is adjoined to the Sheraton, we (Mom, Richard and two other neighbours) were still expected to go through all the security.  Richard and I started to put our bags (his full of books, mine both books and sewing materials as well as my regular patchworked fabric hand-bag) onto the conveyor belt at the same time. One woman screamed at me – “Stand Back, you – get away from the belt! Only one at a time, haven’t you been here before?”  Well, NO.  What about my personage makes you think I HAVE been here before?  So Richard went through with little disruption to his body or character.  Of course.

Then I start.  And a man gets really rough and obnoxious, snapping “Behind the line – not until I tell you!”  (Now keep in mind, this is a couple of rooms above the shopping mall for a little civil suit, folks…)  I step through and all the bells go off.   Yes, Your Royal Highness, I do have pins in my back, but they aren’t supposed to set those things off anymore.  Yes, mister, I AM wearing a knee brace, but it’s just made of plastic.  But still, he wants me to take it all off, and this is a painful process when I’ve already been made to stand for any length of time, and then it’s even more difficult to put it back on OVER my pant length (it is a tube with a lot of velcro and then plastic hinges).  So I said “PLEASE don’t make me take it off” (I promise you, I said “please!”)  And just as he’s debating this, the woman who is going through BOTH my bags (even though they’ve already been X-rayed!)  pulls out my container of mint tooth-picks and says “Oh-oh, what about this?” to her superior, yet ANOTHER guy (there were 4 security people in total, and only 5 of us going in to court at this time, so again, my proof that they have ‘nothing better to do”…)  The ‘chief’ J-U P-M (refer to first paragraph above) starts tut-tutting over this and I just LOST it. They hadn’t even got to my little sewing kit and nail scissors for snipping thread yet!.  Here was the only culprit:

I said “You have GOT to be kidding me!  I don’t need to be here, you know – I just came to support a friend” and I gesticulate to the other ladies, incl. my mother, behind me who’ve just come out of the rest-room.   Then I grabbed my bags, AND my toothpicks from the woman J-U P-M’s hand and marched myself RIGHT out of that ‘holding area’, calling ‘good-luck’ to my friend as I went.   I’m not a naive little 21 year old anymore, and I’ve been stepped on TOO many times, (incl. just in the last few months by some bullying stage moms!)   So,  who reigned supreme in this instance?  ME!  ‘Cause I got to sit in this splendorous lobby of the Sheraton, with its cozy Rustic Revivals’ type decor of barnboard, stone and rusty steampunk cogs, and read, and sip a beverage and do my sewing while the others were harassed and hassled through into a court room of stressful French repartee for over an hour:

 

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Have I shared with you about the similar on-going tug-of-war struggle between Smitty the dog and Cammie the goat?  They are both co-dependent little things, from neglectful backgrounds, and both are constantly vying for their ‘parents’ attention’ whenever we’re outdoors.  Smitty chases Cammie away when he’s not tied up and she runs to the barn or over to Chevy for protection.  But when Smitty is tied up, Cammie comes up on ‘his’ porch and REIGNS supreme over him. It’s hilarious. She ‘stomps’ him, stamping her foot and gurgling ferociously at him, and he does usually jump or slink away. She’s even been known to stand on his sleeping bag bed and do this, so that he can’t lie down!  I love how she looks all innocent and doe-eyed until she thinks I’ve turned my back. Then, WHAMMY CAMMIE!!!!

So, Princesses, Patrols, and Porch Pooches aside, let’s talk about Aroostook County, Maine and its delightful charms, including the Mennonites from whom we made our over-the-border purchases so necessary for self-sufficient living.

On this side of the border we have a village called Aroostook as the river of that name flows through it. But on the American side, the whole COUNTY is Aroostook (named for a tribe of Micmacs primarily in Maine).   In fact, I was reading for the 2nd time a favourite suspense/thriller book of mine called Winter’s End when I moved here from Ontario.  It jolted me right out of the U-Haul seat when I read the author, John Rickard’s mention of Houlton, Presqu’ile (our nearest university town) and Aroostook County, seeing as that was all a 1/2 hour from our new home in New Brunswick!  What I DIDN’T realize until I wrote to him to tell him of this happy coincidence was that he lives in ENGLAND and has never set foot in North America, never mind seeing Aroostook County for himself.  Because he got it exactly right!  (Read it – it’s a highly entertaining story!)

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This beautiful county also has many Mennonites, both old order and new, much like Waterloo/Elmira environs in Ontario.  Chevy’s farrier mentioned that Harvey Miller’s harness shop was a great place to find some cheap nylon or Biothane (plastic over nylon webbing) harness, rather than buying all leather, so we went and were not disappointed!  Two Belgians were helping plough the field for spring planting and two more were tied to a hitching post outside the harness shop.

harrow

Inside the shop there was a wonderful array of used and new harness, as well as some beautiful draft horse collars that Harvey makes himself:

With the measurements we had for Chevy, we purchased a used harness, including bit and bridle (I’ll likely use a much simpler, gentler bit as the one it came with is pretty heavy-duty and unnecessary!) .  However, no reins were with this harness, and Richard, green-horn that he is, was the first to notice this. Even Harvey hadn’t caught that yet!  So he went and cut us some reins immediately on his machine and threw that in for the original price he’d quoted us on the harness – 375.00!  Amazing price!  We then picked out a collar and a pitchfork that was brand new but about half the price of what they are in the Co-op.  And then we went around the corner of his shop and there to our delight was a harrow, brand new, which we’d just been discussing needing for both the garden AND the pasture where we hope to take off hay.  It’s had years of cutting, but no baling, so all the old dead stuff is lying there preventing the ‘good’ from coming up! We may have to spread some timothy seed…

Thus, we came home pretty happy with our purchases (and again, only a few questions at the border, then a smile and a “have a good day”!  Miraculous!) .

Richard is posed here to show he doesn’t care to be ‘harnessed’ or ‘shackled’ (actually, he LOVES it!)   Note the “Chevy” on his cap…

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We’ll have to wait to see how Chevy looks in his new gear, but Richard got RIGHT on with  trying out the new harrow in our garden, which he’s already rototilled (incl. the 6 black currant bushes I planted last fall, thank you, dear! ) .   I did manage to convince him to leave the two “Y” strips of wildflowers that go diagonally through our garden – gotta have something to convince the bees to pollinate for us!   Smitty felt the need to help out so we’re going to have to remind him constantly (as I did all LAST spring!) that he isn’t allowed in there.   How we’ll ‘remind’ Cammie the Goat, I’m not sure!

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After finishing the garden, just like all men with new toys, Richard immediately then went to the mowing and harrowing of the pastures, both upper and lower:

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On top of all the brouhaha of the hill-billy hootenanny (I’ll post a few photos below for you to have a smile over – remember,  Queen’s Pageants are BIG in this rural area, and the girls even wore their sashes and tiaras to school this past Monday!) I’ve been trying to transplant a lot of our plants from the seeding tables downstairs out into planters to ‘harden them off’, prior to then planting them in the garden.  However, the weather has been VERY cold (back in the one-digits!) and very rainy, and it’s been tough to find the right time to get this moving. It does remind me, though, of why I wanted to plant indoors this winter – when I planted started May 24th here last year, I lost the first 5 rows of veg. due to the extreme cold, rain and wind.  So hopefully this will work better.  If not, I’m just going to wait longer to plant, and we’ll just have to plant that much more each year for back-breaking harvests and loads of canning and freezing all at once!  RAIN, RAIN go away – can’t wait to plant e’en ONE MORE DAY!

Here are the REIGNING QUEEN AND PRINCESS with official photographer, Tiffany Christensen:

Those are Rustic Revivals’ burlap bags hanging on all the windows in the hall, too~!

Here’s all 5 girls just before the – ugh – Royal Crowning and handing out of all the TITLES! (Rustic Revivals managed to get some burlap bows in there, too, above the audience!)

stage, 145 b.page.

But the shot I really love the best, by Tiffany, is from their photo-day, when they are wearing what REAL Appalachian Royalty should be proud to wear:

flannel girls

Rain, reign, rein,
 English is a pain.
 Although the words
 Sound just alike,
 The spelling's not the same!