Dung Pong and Spring Song

Mostly photos this week.  There have been a great number of submission and proofing deadlines I’ve had to meet lately, and I’m just pooped with thinking of how one more sentence can be strung together creatively or even informatively.  Admit it, though. You’d rather just look at pictures anyway than read what I write!

The animals have all been very humorous as we’ve moved into spring-like weather. The chickens follow Richard around as he does yard work, expecting treats because of course he spoils them rotten – (click on each pic to make larger)

And I’ve had a stool put in the greenhouse so I can do a bit of ‘gardening’ which doesn’t involve my knees or back.  And here come the chickens running up to me to see if I’ll give them some of the seeds in my precious packets! (There’s a lot of manure added to that seed table earth, the pong of which may be why my nose is upturned)

Richard also discovered one of the Buffs having a difficult time laying her egg one morning, squawking and carrying on… We soon found out why. AND it was a double yolker! Richard was as proud of this egg as if he’d laid it himself and has told every family member on the phone, and every neighbour on the porch about it! I believe even the UPS man heard about it the other day, as he drove away even more quickly than he usually does.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Smitty (for reasons only he can understand – and even then, I doubt it) sits outside the greenhouse and tears more fuzz off his tennis balls as he prefers them to be bald. And greyish black. So a person with bad knees and back may not notice them as easily when he leaves them on the greyish-black tarmac!

Smitty will often accompany nephew Chris and/or Richard on their rounds of the yard, as well as Cammie and Buttercup, who of course must get in to the action.

Simba FatCat has started wanting to go out for his 3 minute “I’ll listen to the birdies, but wait – it’s still too cold!” ventures each day. Then he comes in and lounges about for the rest of the day except when he decides Smitty’s face needs a bath and he wishes some cozy head scratching in return:

Richard went to visit his family in Saint John this past weekend and took Chris back home. He also had to go and visit Chevy and pick up some pork they’d promised us in return for Chevy’s harness. Bartering is another self-sufficient way of living rurally and we still use it a lot.  We love the way Chevy’s new family packages – nice and eco-friendly and Richard saw that all the animals there have a happy good life, so we didn’t feel so bad about eating these ham steaks and making some meatloaf from the ground pork!  Look up Belding Hill Farm (Chevy went from a Blue Belldon to a Belding Hill !) on FB if you want to see more or to order pork – or beef -if you’re in N.B.  But if you’re not, we’ve still discovered that if you ask nicely and give your local butcher a bit of a guilt complex, they WILL wrap in paper and stop this rampant use of styrofoam and plastic!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There’s still a bit of snow in hollows and, as in photo, up high along the tree line. But it’s mostly gone, thank goodness and we did have one day (just one!) that was above 12 degrees AND sunny at the same time!  And the potato barns above and below us (and all around us!) have transports hauling off potatoes to MacCains and for your McDonald’s fries.  This is always an early sign of spring. Next will be the tractors out in the fields!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And lastly (and completely unrelated to living self-sufficiently on a farm in N.B., but if Richard’s nephew’s been mentioned the last two weeks, it’s time for MY nephew Sydney to get a horn-toot: ) The Atlantic Boychoir just returned from an incredibly successful European tour again, this time to Paris and the U.K. As well as having fun doing all the sites (incl. Euro-Disney!) they sang in two Canadian embassies, one cathedral (not Notre Dame, as was planned!) and in 5 more concerts for the Cornwall Male Choral Festival where they were REAL pirates of Penzance and lords of Land’s End!  Sydney has several solos, like in Edelweiss (below) and also does a lovely quartet feature.

Though they were just 10 days away from singing two masses in Notre Dame when it burned, I think the Truro Cathedral where they sang two concerts was pretty close to being as magnificent:

And they even had a formal rehearsal at an amphi-theatre in Land’s End where the BBC was also recording and interviewing them!

open air concert, cornwall

So, I’ll leave you with some concert links, those of you who are music lovers or fans of wee Sydney. I suggest listening to all the choirs as they are amazing and from all over the world, but if you wish to just hear our only national touring boychoir, they are introduced at  the 2:21:20 mark here: and sing ’til right near the end:

NOTE : If for the first two videos you aren’t taken there directly, don’t worry, just click on the underlined “play on Youtube” or “view on Youtube” and that’ll get you there!  ALSO, if you’re only going to watch one of these concerts, go to the 2nd one – the Truro cathedral looks much more beautiful and awe-inspiring at night as it is in that one. (just this past Sat. night)

 

This was their stunning evening concert in the cathedral, starting at 2:11:14.  There are lovely close-up shots of all the boys (watch for Sydney!) as well as the cathedral. And if you aren’t fussed about hearing the whole repertoire, or Sydney per se, for God’s sake listen to the amazing last song (Cohen’s Hallelujah) with their top soloist (can’t remember his name at the moment, but he’ll be a famous opera star in his own right someday). I dare you not to need the box of tissues for it!

This last one is in Paris, a more informal affair, although still in an amazing setting – the Canadian Ambassador’s private residence. It is in this one that you’ll hear Sydney’s one line in the French folk song, his two verses in Edelweiss and his Latin in the quartet!  And you’ll note in all these how truly much he adores both singing and drama (I can’t imagine from whom he might have inherited that!)  Enjoy, and Happy Spring.

Advertisements

Books, Brooks and Back to Bed!

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

 

Here’s a little review of it, with the bios of author and illustrator.  Although our time in Brampton was only a year’s transition before we could move out here, we feel it’s a nice bit of trivia in common with the whimsical illustrator, Kit! http://miramichireader.ca/2019/04/old-house-east-coast-giftbook/

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

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

old house 2

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

brook

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

Now I know regular readers of this Blue Belldon Blog (like Mary Walker and Shirley Robinson who’ve been lapping it up since I started exactly 3 years ago!) may be glad I’m ‘back’ writing and posting photos of our farm life. But just because I haven’t been writing much here since my other knee gave out just before Halloween doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy writing elsewhere!  In fact, over 546 hours between Oct. 27 and Jan. 17th (the day before my surgery) I completed an entire musical called Rough Notes.  Book (script) and Music (incl. lyrics) really kept me from going insane during that time period when I could barely limp down the hall to the bathroom. More can be read on this at http://www.rnmusical.wordpress.com and Ursula Buchan’s (grand-daughter of two of the lead characters) new book just came out last week about her famous grandfather, with lots of terrific reviews, accolades and interviews.  For any of those links, see my author FB page: https://www.facebook.com/jivanel.johnson.5

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

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

FOR nwu anthology

The book cover will look like this:nwu book cover

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

mom reading to Sydney
Incidentally, and completely unrelated: Sydney is 12 now and was meant to be singing with the Atlantic Boychoir this week in France. Two masses.  At Notre Dame.  Needless to say, that won’t be happening, but they are flying out on their 2nd European tour anyway… Their music is absolutely stunning. Samples of their most recent/mature performances can be heard on Amazon, where their 2018 Christmas c.d. is for sale: https://www.amazon.com/Gloria-Celebration-Christmas-Atlantic-Boychoir/dp/B07HT8P2TC (Not trying to sell it to you, just saying it’s the best place to really listen to a few samples of classical and orchestrated works sung by these talented young men!)

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

Until next time, I’m back to bed now…

Springing Up Update

I am no where near ‘springing’. BUT… Spring is NEARLY here (lots and lots of snow and ice, still, but warmer days) and the recovery from my surgery is finally getting to the point where I can be sitting upright for longer periods AND utilizing my brain better (less pain meds) so…. SOON I may be writing regularly again, if not about my own farm activities (nil since end of October) then at least I can write about what Richard and Joy are doing.  Like right now, they are out breaking up ice in the yard so the chickens don’t slide around when they are free-ranging in the sun during the day….God forbid a chicken should slide and go tail-feathers up, as I witnessed yesterday outside the kitchen Dutch door when I threw her out some edamame pods…

As I know more of you probably like photos rather than reading my text, here’s Chevy and his many new friends: (taken last week –  his new owners live 3 hours south and near the coast so they have much less dramatic winters than up north here).

chevy, new friends, sussex

 

Pell’s Hell’s Bells, Sin, and a Cardinal Christmas?

When Richard and I first lived together in ‘cardinal sin’  we called our little house “Cardinal’s Inn”. It was overflowing with his grown children and we never had much time or space to ourselves.  But now at Blue Belldon Farm we are lucky enough to have plenty of it… And in both places there was always at least one red cardinal who fluttered past our windows on a regular basis, (although I have to say we saw rather more of him before the snow fell than we have since – AND we have food in the feeder an’ all!)

First off, let me say how happy I am that this week Cardinal George Pell was found GUILTY for the 1990s altar boy cases, and in February goes back to hopefully be found guilty of the 1970s cases in Ballarat, Australia.  His high levels of Catholic authoritarianism have been stripped and he is no longer ‘fluttering about in red on the Vatican high pedestal’.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qc1J7BLWH9I  Toodles, Georgie – and good riddance!

My favourite composer,pianist/actor Tim Minchin made many victims’ prayers get answered when he raised money with his Cardinal Pell song a year and a half ago (it reached no. 1 in Aussie-land!). All the money from it went to get the victims and their families flown to Rome to hear personally why “Georgie” couldn’t make the trip back to Australia to take his place in the courts at that time. (He claimed to be ‘unwell’).  If you haven’t heard this wonderful up-beat song about a dark time in Aussie history (that’s Tim’s magic!) do give it a toe-tapping listen and realize how many benefited from it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtHOmforqxk

And now – just a bunch of Christmassy Cardinal photos and card-art, starting with friend/artist Jane Wright’s wonderful card:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve tried to pick the most unique ones, or ones that remind me the most of Blue Belldon, and with this we wish you the very best of the season (there MAY be one more brief blog before Christmas, but for now, this is the modern way of sending out Christmas cards, I guess… not that I want to be doing anything ‘modern’!)  Enjoy these – you can almost curl up in some of them, they are so cozy! (I’ve left the artists’ names on wherever possible, but sadly, many of them are not shown).

23Male and femal cardinals in tree on snowy day56789101112131415161719

And finally, here’s a still from a short video we just received this evening.  It is of Chevy, working at his lovely new home, pulling in two Christmas trees for his new family, and being driven by their youngest daughter, who has all she can do to keep up with him! (which our old hips and knees couldn’t manage here – and we always had lots more snow to plow through than that as well! Down closer to the ocean, they don’t have nearly the same amount of snow as we get here in the mountains, of course!)  We know Chevy is very much enjoying his new home – there are more animals, more people and there’s more work, too – all things he loves!

chev, luke's daughter

 

 

 

Nogs, Noggins, Song’n’s and Toboggans

Richard’s been a very busy dude this last month or so.  Since the end of October my ‘good’ knee has steadily become worse than my ‘bad’ one (the one scheduled for surgery on Jan. 18).  So I’ve mostly been lying on couch or bed due to pain AND just trying to save wear and tear on them as they are both now ‘bone on bone’.  Meanwhile poor Richard has to pick up all the extra chores I can no longer manage as I’m mostly on my walker (kept, thank goodness, since my back surgeries). So he’s doing ALL the barn chores, PLUS milking Cammie and running up and down the basement stairs attending the furnace fires, and even some meal prep -with shouted instructions from the adjoining bedroom, of course!

Yes, I know some of you do not have snow, but we had our first big snow storm at the end of October and have had several more storms since then – and big winds as well!  So, there’s a lot to do outside as well as in! Richard IS very much enjoying his new ‘toy’, though:4b

He decided his hip couldn’t handle pushing our snow blower up and down the laneway again this year.  Personally, I’ve always thought that in winter our entire laneway and parking lot/barnyard doesn’t need to be plowed, – we could just park near the front of the house and leave the rest –   but R. still is a bit of a  suburban Yuppie in some of his thinking. He feels ALL areas should be cleared – and by cleared I mean RIGHT to the pavement (which of course only causes more potential for dangerous falls on ice in my opinion, but we have this argument several times every year and I never win).  Thus, we got the attachment to the John Deere this year and his brother once again came to the rescue with help in this big endeavor:

I can’t seem to get Richard to protect his head (and mustache) properly though, and he always comes in with icicles hanging from his eyebrows and upper lip.  I looked at getting him a plastic ‘tent’ for around the top of the mower as a Christmas gift but a) they are pretty expensive considering how much we already spent on this contraption, b) we try not to BUY gifts for our family, just make them and c)  you all know how I feel about adding ANY plastic – even a piece of Saran Wrap – to my carbon footprint, so I didn’t feel that was a good choice.  Of all the hats and toques Richard’s been given over the years JUST since moving here, including  a balaclava which would help the stache-icicle problem, and including the red one with the pom-pom which his mother bought specially for all of us to MATCH, in Christmas 2016 and which he REFUSES to wear…

(The last hat is from the CBC show Still Standing – one of the producers gave it to me for doing some admin. for them getting the still photos they used, and getting waivers signed,  etc. and I passed it on to Richard last Christmas as it’s a lovely green!  If you still haven’t seen the episode in which we/New Denmark appear, the link is here:
https://watch.cbc.ca/media/still-standing/season-4/new-denmark-nb/38e815a-00f0c4c14f4  )

…the one he seems to now be preferring is one that isn’t MEANT to be his!  His brother gave him a slightly used winter coat for ‘good’ and inside the sleeve was tucked his BROTHER’S favourite toque.  Which Richard has now taken a Finders Keepers motto about and decided it was MEANT to be his own!

We thought it would be nice if we gave our old snowblower to neighbour Pierrette and her son Zeb who have helped us out so much since moving here, and who live like hermits WAY back off a tertiary road in the middle of the woods. So hubby just went past my window again making sure everything is working properly before we turn it over to  them. And yes, that IS his brother’s toque covering most of his noggin. Again. Plus he’s wearing the big black parka Mom gave him last year to  – ‘cover what little bum you have whilst snow-blowing!’

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Another snow-job is to get food out to Chevy who, until he leaves to go to his wonderful new owner Dec. 13, has been allowed to have his summer pasture area still open to him.  When the snows get heavier this isn’t possible as they cover the electric fence, but for now he’s usually found WAY up at the top of the hill, and Richard likes to feed both him and Cammie up there sometimes as it keeps the stall and corral area cleaner.  So, out comes the toboggan and away goes the food:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sometimes, though, when R. thinks he’ll have the luxury of dragging back an EMPTY toboggan, others have a different idea!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In the meantime I haven’t been out of the house in a month.  One month yesterday, to be exact (more on that in a moment).  I am most comfortable in bed, as it has the best view, is supportive in the right places, allows my legs to spread out away from each other so the knees don’t touch,  and has enough space to spread my various projects out around me. The couch offers none of these, but once in a while I go into the living room for a change of scenery and to have a fire in the fireplace.  If my poor over-worked hubby (don’t feel too sorry for him, he’s spending MOST of his days cuddled up reading or napping!) is willing to make us a cozy fire, that is, since I can’t go fetch in wood myself or even stoop down!  I am primarily involved in writing a stage musical, one that’s been hatching slowly on the back burner (talk about mixing metaphors!) for some years now.  And I needed to do some research first, so since I can’t go to the library these days (getting in and out of the house is painful, and even more so is getting in and out of the vehicles!) one of the things I LOVE about the province of N.B. is that you can mail-order your books!  A big black pouch arrives in your mailbox, and you just put the return label on and send them back when you’re ready – for FREE! So, without giving too much away about my musical, you can get a glimmer of some of the subject content from these:  (I know any cousins or extended family will know where I’m likely going with this subject matter…) :

The next problem I faced, however, was that while most of the script (‘BOOK’, in correct musical theatre lingo ) and the lyrics to more than 20 songs have been written in the last month I could NOT sit at the piano to compose.  Sitting with my legs bent, as an upright piano necessitates is painful. So I asked for a melodica for Christmas and my mother very kindly arranged to get it here well in advance and allow me to have it right away. So, most of my days are spent like this:

Which the cat just HATES because a) until the last 30 days,  he’s used to having the bed uninterrupted all day long with plenty of room to spread out and b) neither he nor Smitty can STAND the sound of the melodica. Smitty comes up to the bed and whines, and the cat tends to run down to the basement yowling in anger.  I also am having hot flashes again (thought I was done with those a year ago, so I can only guess it’s thanks to complete lack of exercise now) and I frequently have to throw the blankets off my legs- which in and of itself is cause for a hefty scowl:1

As many of you will know, especially if you follow my FB pages, I come from a shortish line of theatrical as well as musical and literary personages. “Song’n’Dance” men as well as women! And by that I mean we can tell a good fictional tale as WELL as literally treading the boards. Grandma Johnson wrote many novel manuscripts which were never published because she only tried once, was told she needed more ‘boudoir’ scenes and never approached another publisher… I have a trunk still full of most of these manuscripts which I always promised her I would try to do something with one day – not that SHE cared, it was wholly my own idea to not let those years of writing be completely wasted (possibly, because I feel like all my own years of writing are being wasted in the same way!) “Like Grandmother, Like Granddaughter” in more ways than one, then.  This first pic was Grandma J (Ivanel) circa early 1930s, and the bottom, from one of my newspaper clippings, is me in similar pose (although you can’t see the red blinking lights on my nipples —- I was playing one of the prostitutes in “No Sex, Please – We’re British”. Which really should have been Grandma’s motto considering the reason she stopped approaching publishers! )

1110

Since writing, music and drama have all been such an important part of my life (and in fact my degree was a combination of all 3, as Queen’s allowed for an Artist in Community Education B.Ed. if you had experience in at least 3 facets of artistic life and a previous degree in 2 of them!  Eek! ) I decided to also base my musical on an important-to-Canada family who have all 3 as an integral part of ITS life.  And who also, as I do daily, fought to keep the environment protected.  (AND who, incidentally, have several towns of Perth cropping up in their various lives, as I have had 4 of them be important to me!  There’s a LOT of Perths out there! )  I didn’t think this musical would ever actually get written until, on October 26th Assistant Perth-Andover Choir Director Sandi Tattersall and I did a ‘ditty’ (“What Baking Can Do” from the musical Waitress by Sarah Bareilles)  for a charity show:

At one point I was to go behind Sandi as she sang a lovely and upbeat solo verse (she’s got an amazing voice and has had proper singing lessons for years, so it would have been MORE fitting if I’d just stayed behind her through the whole thing!)  and duck from one side to the other of her.  As my ‘good’ knee had already gone fairly ‘bad’ at this point, this ducking/deeking was pretty much the end of it. CR-A-A-CK !

sandi, julie, ducking

I tried one time after that (on Oct. 30) to make it to the choir rehearsals for our Christmas concerts and knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep going.  Richard, incidentally, IS still going and they had a very successful first concert  on Thursday night with a few more to go.  I missed the concert season in the spring from having that 5-week virus, and now I am missing this whole season as well. Very frustrating!  HOWEVER, as the love of the performing arts has CLEARLY been passed on to my 12-year-old nephew, who at this time last year was on European tour with the Atlantic Boychoir, I am NOT missing out on his first-ever singing solo. AND it’s in a professional cast of over 130 with his mother accompanying the show as part of the small band/orchestra they’ve hired.  This is a BIG deal!  Sydney is even mentioned in the Arts & Culture Centre’s flyer as a featured performer, which is pretty amazing for a kid, I think:

9

There are 5 performances (one’s a matinee) next week with sold-out crowds of over 1,000 people at each performance —- and Mom has already flown to St. John’s to help with all the extra craziness going on in a musicians’ household at the run-up to Christmas. Of course my sister always plays, as part of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, for the annual Nutcracker concert, the annual Messiah concert, and has numerous other gigs right now, as does Sydney with his school concerts, his ‘cello, his viol-de-gamba, his choral singing with the Boychoir and now soloing in the big Diva’s show.  That’s “big Diva’s show”, NOT ” Big Divas’ show “. Please note difference!  He’s singing the gorgeous melody from The Greatest Showman, called A Million Dreams. If you haven’t heard it, you MUST; it’s luscious.  Here’s the young lad , Ziv Zaifman, that sang it for the soundtrack. No doubt there will be no recording done of poor Sydney’s efforts, as seems the case with most of his performances, and of course we lowly family members (even those who have to province-hop and go doped up on painkillers and in a wheelchair!) can’t take recording devices into theatres, so this is the closest we’ll likely have:

I DID, however, do up a little ‘gif’ of my sister playing for the Divas show last year (they had an Irish/Celtic theme then) and of Sydney on CBC radio last month for the Boychoir.

gif with snow, for Our Divas, 2018

As you’ll have noticed in the above, like me, my sister is very dramatic, facially – especially when playing.  Some of you may remember that she has always been this expressive since our early days playing as children.  However, as you can see by this video of a gorgeous piece by Franck, which SHE just did this year for a charity concert, her playing is unrecognizable compared to what it was when we were children!

Anyway, I leave for St. John’s on Friday, being pushed through the airports and to the theatre two nights in a row (thanks for the ticket gifts, Jennifer!) by the good folk at Air Canada, and my poor brother-in-law!  Wheelchairs courtesy of Air Canada and the Red Cross. Thanks very much!

While I’m plugging Atlantic Canada professional stage shows here, I should also mention that my singing partner from above, Sandi Tattersall, has an equally talented sibling and nephew, the former who is appearing in the professional cast of Beauty and the Beast in Moncton in a few months  (Curtis Sullivan is often seen in a lot of Drayton Productions in Ontario, and I’m sure many of the Ontarioites reading this blog will have seen him in those.  My theatre-loving compatriots from the Stratford teaching days will surely recognize him as the Drayton company has expanded so much recently, hasn’t it?)   Sadly, I don’t THINK my knees will be rehabbed enough to make it to the Moncton production, as I’d planned when it was originally announced, but if you’re in that area (which, in N.B. means – ANY OF THE ATLANTIC PROVINCES!)  here’s the link for tickets and a cast summary. Click on the Nov. 14, 2018 part of the blue, as it seems to split:

Posted by Théâtre Capitol Theatre on Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Sandi’s nephew is a phenom. in his own right, and I pray/hope/expect my own nephew may be following along these lines – for the purely selfish reason that I can have years of exciting and proud theatre to see!  His name is Jeremy Leo Curtis and he just finished a run in downtown Toronto as Joseph, in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Jeremy got stellar reviews, one of which – by the Gaisins for the Ontario Arts Review -says: “The title character is portrayed by Jeremy Leo Curtis and methinks this young man has a promising potential theatre career. He can sing up a storm; utilizes his face & posture to advantage; is obviously charismatic…and in addition – movie-star handsome.” 

MORE photos and reviews here: https://www.theatreunlimited.ca/joseph

So, Ontario theatre-goers of whom I know many are reading this blog (despite it supposedly being about how to live self-sufficiently on a homestead in the Maritimes!) – keep your eyes open for Curtis Sullivan and/or Jeremy Leo Sullivan!  Now THAT’S a musical theatre family! (but still not the ones I’m writing my own musical about. You’ll have to wait for another non-homesteading-themed blog posting to find out more about that!)

Also in Perth, and if you’re in the Maritimes you might have heard about this on CBC Radio Noon yesterday,   https://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/maritime-noon     our Choir Director (and esteemed mayor) suggested to her young and massively creative Baptist minister that they do what is apparently a ‘first’ – possibly in the world.  (Remember we sang as ‘angels’ last December for the same church’s drive-thru Nativity? if you don’t remember and want a peek, and yes – one of Richard wearing yet a DIFFERENT toque on his noggin,  see this blog posting:  https://bluebellmountainblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/09/cast-of-thousands/    ) .  Marianne Bell and  the Rev. Michael Fredericks with another cast of ‘manymany; have filmed a series called ‘Online Advent’. Each day, starting today, they will have a little clip of their ‘show’ telling the Christmas story and yesterday on air Rick Mercer said, (even if it MAY have been tongue-in-cheek) that’d he’d consider being in their production another year as it ‘has all the production quality of Murdoch Mysteries’!

Here’s Jessica Theriault , and Sheila Cummings, who sings with us in choir and went to Moncton to Choralfest with 6 of us in October. Sheila’s lovely grand-daughter Kelsie also went with us and helped us out with our “Baking” ditty also!  More examples of grandmothers passing the performing arts down the generations!   This is taken from the ‘trailer’ to which I’ve also given the link below:

sheila

Now, whilst musical theatre season (and in England also silly ‘panto’ season!) is very HOT in December, this blog posting isn’t particularly Christmassy OR Homesteady as yet – so as a build-up to your festive season, and to not get off track TOO much (too late!) re: living self-sufficiently, here is what to do when you have lots of fresh goat’s milk and eggs:

HOMEMADE EGG NOG – take 3 or 4 day-old goat’s milk (want it to have sat in fridge for a few days for best thickness and richer taste), fill up half a blender, throw in up to 6 fresh eggs from your chickies, add 2 tsp. of vanilla, 1/2 a cup of sugar or Stevia, 1/2 cup of vanilla frozen yogurt (your own if you’ve some made up!) and some cinnamon and nutmeg.  Blend it up – if your eggs were very fresh it should be yellowish in colour, but not to worry if it isn’t — and when it’s finished put only a very SMALL amount of rum in, if you wish.  I find more than a dollop ruins the whole lovely beverage, though I know many who will disagree!

Cardinal card by our wonderful artist friend (and my former art teacher!) Jane Wright.  Richard has been inspired by Anne Schultz to suddenly enjoy cardinals again, as he once did… so I might make the next blog posting a Christmassy-red-snowy-Cardinal-based posting!

Fringe-Bottoms, Dakota-Black

Mom/Joy has come up with a superior project to a) give her some variety from her crosswords, yoga, reading and listening to CBC radio on these winter days and b) offer New Brunswick a solution (and raise awareness) of what each person can do to reduce their carbon footprint in this environment that is in dire straits.  As I keep complaining, having lived in two countries in the U.K., and two in North America, both east and west- New Brunswick is by far the most ‘behind’ when it comes to reducing waste, re-using, and recycling!

The mater of the upper suite of Blue Belldon is making shopping bags from old T-shirts we have around and others she’s buying for peanuts from 2nd hand shops. She looked online and, while she found many options, she chose the “No-Sew, Fringe-Bottom” .  She got a lot of red ones, and those will be used to ‘wrap’ Christmas gifts, and then serve AS the Christmas gift when recipients realize they can reuse them for their groceries, etc.

Just as the now-famous Banksy artwork that got shredded as soon as it was sold last month, Mom is shredding the bottoms of shirts as quickly as she can get her hands on them, and also like Banksy, made her own artwork (sign) on the back of a split-in-half canvas bag she had lying around, and thus (like Banksy) plans to bring attention to her items in this fashion:

mom, banksy

The link to make your own simple bags is here: http://www.craftaholicsanonymous.net/no-sew-t-shirt-bag-tutorial   and even if you aren’t as responsible for your part in  keeping our planet from dying, at least it saves you from buying plastic bags, which is what HOPEFULLY all grocery stores, at least, will soon be doing.  Remember, though – take your bags into EVERY shop, not just grocery stores.  If I ever forget and leave the bags in the vehicle, I both educate the check-out people of drug stores, gift shops, etc. and punish myself by saying “darn, I forgot my bags in the truck, but don’t give me any plastic please” and then I make myself carry everything out via my purse, pockets and hands.  Mom hopes to be going to some grocery stores and handing her great bags out for free, just to help educate, if nothing more.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We have GOT to stop polluting the earth (and yes, allowing plastic in your house IS polluting, because it still ends up in a land-fill and/or the ocean.)  If you’ve forgotten or missed earlier rants, see this:

Plastic bags don’t just bung up the works and disallow animal and plant growth, they also release toxins into the earth and water AND wildlife can get caught up in them, often killing them:

It also means the greedy oil companies continue more and more mining, fracking, pipelines and tree-chopping, because of course it takes petroleum to make plastic!

One of my favourite  modern composers, musicians (pianist phenom!), actors, comedians, satirists, humanitarians and environmentalists is Aussie/Brit Tim Minchin. That’s right, he’s in his early 40s and is ALL of those things! (Most recently composer of the lyrics and music for Broadway/West End smash hits Matilda and Groundhog Day, and soon opening in his first big-screen role as Friar Tuck in Robin Hood). Tim has a great little catchy tune entitled “Canvas Bags” – a bit more rock’n’roll than most of his songs, but he wanted people to sing it in their heads all the time, and it WORKS. (This is hardly indicative of most of his enormous body of work, and doesn’t show his incredible piano skills, so please google his name and look for other amazing stuff!)  But here’s Canvas Bags:

And if you can’t make out all his spoken words they go as follows:

Just think about the world
And how the world would be fantastic
If we could get rid of all the plastic
We just need to get enthusiastic
Organise a competition, gymnastic
Or a bag-making comp at your school
Fuck it, make it interscholastic
Canvas is for everyone
Whether you be rebellious and iconoclastic
Or conservative or ecclesiastic
I don't care if you're loud and bombastic
Or quiet or virtually monastic
Sober or on the floor spastic
A yoga master or completely inelastic
I'm not trying to be ironic or sarcastic
Do something drastic
To rid the world of plastic

Of course Canvas and Cotton (Mom’s upcycled T-shirts) are also natural fabrics, so this is even better than if you use something with Polyester or other man-made materials! See what you can do to “rid the world of plastic” . Every little bit helps!

The very last of the garden was processed last week, and yesterday the snow flew all day and looks like it’s here to stay. I brought the last of the onions in from the porch. They have to dry out in a shady but windy spot for a few weeks before you can rope them together:

Then I finished the arduous task of finishing off our Dakota Black popcorn, of which we had a very successful long row in the garden all year. First,Richard and I scraped the corn off the cobs after it had already sat inside for a few weeks drying. That was about a month ago:

Then I put all the kernels in the lids of my great-aunt’s cheeseboxes and set them on a high shelf in a closet to thoroughly dry:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After some weeks, it was ready to winnow, which I did a few days back.  This involves a fan and a lot of sifting through colanders, hands, etc. to get all the dried husky stuff to fly away.  (Richard then had to go do some sweeping and dusting to immediately clean up all those flying dried shell-bits, so maybe if we’d let them dry less time and done the winnowing outside it might have been better…)

Once all the winnowing was complete (takes a long time!) we had a winter’s worth of snacks, and as popcorn is the only snack-food we allow ourselves (partly because it’s all we can grow to be self-sufficient, partly because it’s better for you than most snacks!) this made us happy!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I put it in our glass canister, and then we tried popping it a few nights ago.  Doesn’t it look fluffy? You just need to get used to the insides being black, which traditionally makes us thing it’s burned… but of course it isn’t in this case! And Richard does make great popcorn.  His one real ‘kitchen’ speciality (although he’s getting better at making toast!)

And thus, that’s it for the garden-processing blogposts from this year, and if you aren’t on Facebook to see my postings there, this was Richard and Chevy about an hour ago – he’s reminding him how to drive in the snow, as we have a possible buyer coming to try him tomorrow. We’ll be sad to see him go, but between Richard’s hip and my knees, we can’t keep up… maybe after some surgeries and replacement body parts are made. So, this might be the last photo blog-readers see of dear Chev!        Cammie will be devastated!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Greenhouses and Gables, Farmhouses and Fables

 on STARTING with PANES (recycled windows):”Pain”(Pane?) has its own Noble Joy; when it starts a strong consciousness of life, from a stagnant one.     -John Sterling

I toyed with many titles for this one.  I first wanted to use the homophones “Pane” and “Pain”, thus the above quote. I liked that Joy was in this quote, and all 3 of us are suffering a certain amount of pain right now, at the end of a very long, if productive season outdoors and in kitchens! Not good enough.  Then there was the possibility of the old standby about People with Glasshouses, quoted more properly at the end of this posting. That was weak.  However, as I turned the article into something I didn’t expect in the latter quarter, I decided to settle once more for a title with my favourite Alliterative Rhymes!

There’s a pub in Japan that frequently gets shown on social media, especially the types of self-sustaining and eco-friendly pages to which we subscribe.  The front is made entirely of recycled windows that would have ended up in a landfill somewhere, and inside (see below) they recycle as much as possible also – the chandelier is made from old soda bottles!

While we have been following others’ blogs and pages, and reading magazine articles about the many ways to make a greenhouse, this concept has always been what has intrigued us the most.  Down the road another family lives self-sufficiently and they have one of the metal-arced/covered-in-plastic greenhouses – and they eat fresh greens nearly all year long! (just not Dec. and Jan. and part of Feb.)  This convinced Richard that our seed boxes and lighting system in the basement just wasn’t enough, and he was determined to  “keep up with the Joneses” : plastic green

HOWEVER, to all who know me, this is anathema to my soul!  Imagine me PURCHASING- NEW – well, anything! And on top of that, then having all that plastic on my carbon footprint, only lasting a few years and going right into the landfill after.  We live on a very windy mountaintop, so I can’t imagine that this plastic wouldn’t be ripped to shreds in under 5 years.  Besides, I LOVE the look of old windows, and Rustic Revivals uses lots of them for various projects, so why not have a bunch on hand?

old windows

 

 

Thus, all summer we collected them from various ads, and from people we heard just wanted to have us take them away. I think in total we spent about $40. for about 30 windows of varying sizes, and another $30. for an old sliding patio door.   Richard had to replace the windows in the Rustic Revivals shop/cabin anyway and I certainly didn’t want anything NEW in there! (before and after shots of that, if you haven’t read this blog for a while, though the windows weren’t yet put in, in the ‘after’ shot !) :

 

Richard being Richard we had to discuss this project at breakfast and lunch at our kitchen table for WEEKS before he was inspired to get started.  We had 3 different choices of where to actually PUT the greenhouse, taking into consideration not only the most south-facing spot for sun, but also how to access it in winter with massive snow drifts from snow-blowing and wind, and still keeping it very close to the garden for transplanting in June… Then he took measurements of each window and went on his computer for another week and made graphs, charts and diagrams.  Then I finally got cheesed off and said I’d have had the whole thing built by now if I’d just done it myself (which, if you know me, I WOULD have!  It might not have stood up through the winter, but I’d have had it standing, at least!)   This was late September, and I was still busy doing a lot of gardening and canning/freezing, etc., but I just started dragging windows out of the barn and that’s what finally got Richard to throw most of his paperwork aside and just deal hands-on with what he had to work with. Unfortunately, he didn’t stick to the HEIGHT we’d agreed on, and things got a little out of control…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Richard was trying to lift these heavy windows by himself out of the barn , and being a Reich, I knew there were bound to be too many breakages this way, incl. his own back.  I remembered that buried somewhere in the barn we had an industrial dolly… and things moved along a little better after that:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thus, laying out the windows for each of the four sides took some puzzle-fitting and decision-making, but not nearly as long as all the ‘kafuffling’ around at the computer and the kitchen table!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Once Richard knew the ‘footprint’, he had to start digging and rototilling, which of course the chickens ADORED as they were finding plenty of worms.  He was constantly tripping over them and swearing at them, but when I suggested he leave them in the coop until such time as he was finished, he wouldn’t hear of it! Richard spoils all the animals.  Here he is with a most-attentive Lucy the Layer:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The hens ALSO loved the pile of earth he put aside for spreading in holes all over our ‘lawn’ , so they would run back and forth between the greenhouse space and this ever-growing pile.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

By the time Richard was digging the corner post holes, I was back spending a lot of time in the kitchen again, and not really paying much attention… I assumed these corner beams would be cut down to the height we’d discussed originally, about 6 ft. on the front side, and slanting down to just 5 ft. on the back(garden) wall, which is mostly northwest.  And yes, the wood DID have to be bought new, whereas if we were still in Ontario I would have sourced out enough reclaimed wood.  ( I also wouldn’t have used so much wood if I were building this myself! Richard always likes to go overboard on projects, in my opinion, but I’ll grant him that the thing WILL stand the test of time as he’s done it!) But here in N.B. there are no wonderful Habitat for Humanity RE-STORE type places, nor are there many old wooden barns or homes being taken down or restored.  The few there are are just burned, or left to rot… so sad – what a waste of material for something like our project!

Richard installs the first window.  At this point, I was still assuming that this corner beam would be cut down to what we had discussed.  That’s what it LOOKS like, right?  By the way, in this next photo you can also see that just laying the windows on the ground to get the ‘puzzle’ figured out killed the grass over JUST ONE AFTERNOON!  So you know our little greenhouse is going to be a HOTHOUSE! Thus, Richard planned to keep a few of these windows (such as this first one installed) so that they can still be cranked open to let air in when needed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Next came the studs. Far too many of them by my way of thinking. I had to keep reminding Richard that he wasn’t building an actual HOUSE:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Same with the roof, but he didn’t want the snow to cave it in, and I suppose he’s right.  It was at this time that I said “why the hell is this greenhouse so tall? I thought you were cutting the corner beams on the south/front down to 6 ft.?”  I never really got a satisfactory answer, either, just “the more sun that comes in the better” and “it’ll be nice and high, you can hang things from the top, and we can grow climbing vines a long way up!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then a good period of time elapsed where I kept forgetting to take photos of the progression (and also a lot of VERY bad weather, including 4 days of snow that stayed on the ground!)  But as Richard had gotten the framing done and MOST of the windows and roof up at this point, he was able to stay inside to work on keeping it waterproof .  The roof and the bits of sides that didn’t have total windows as their surface (mostly on the west and north sides)  we DID use recycled material for – the  tin/metal that Richard had ripped off the Rustic Revivals cabin earlier in June!  There are just two sections of roof that have (grit my teeth) corrugated plastic put on, to ensure that some sunlight comes in from above as well, and that some heat may escape (rather than just an all-tin roof!) I really wanted WINDOWS up on the roof, but Richard didn’t think he was up to the task of making that safe and sturdy.

cor.roof

Here, then, is the near-finished project (some holes and gaps still to be filled up) – taken today, before our 2nd snowstorm blows in tonight…  Keep in mind that pub in Japan – doesn’t it look like a mini-version?

The south side, or front:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The 2nd door, and more tin, on the side that faces north, and the shadow of our house:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The side that faces south-west, mostly west. Sadly, for poor Mom/Joy, those are her two living room windows on either side of the chimney, and she now has to look out at what some might consider a ‘monstrosity’.  Especially since it was built 14 ft. high instead of 6!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The south-west and west(back) of greenhouse:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have always adored old painted doors, with their many textures, mouldings, colours, peelings and characters… Here’s another building made from just such old wooden doors in Seoul, Korea:

doors, seoul

This door was purchased for $5.00 at a yard sale and was intended to be a display for Rustic Revivals’ items in the new shop, but when Richard didn’t seem to know whether to put tin siding or “some kind of door” on the north side, I suggested he TEMPORARILY fit it with this lovely:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Incidentally, the garden has been nearly all spread with the dark, lush ‘black gold’ manure and compost that the chickens have spent all summer and fall ‘turning over’ almost daily so it’s in perfect condition.  The other spots in the garden where you see old hay and woodchips are protected spots for over-wintering leeks, parsnips and a garlic patch Mom/Joy just planted last week:

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wikipedia has an interesting history of greenhouses: “The first description of a heated greenhouse is from the Sanga Yoruk a treatise on husbandry compiled by a royal physician of the Joseon dynasty of Korea during the 1450s , in its chapter on cultivating vegetables during winter. The treatise contains detailed instructions on constructing a greenhouse that is capable of cultivating vegetables, forcing flowers, and ripening fruit”.  And other words for greenhouses that you may have run across, reading books from other countries, are “orangeries” (because the French botanists were trying to protect their orange trees in the 17oos) “hothouses, glasshouses, gardencastles” – like the Crystal Palace-, “conservatories, sunrooms and coldframes” (smaller versions on raised beds). The one I like the best, however, is a “pinerie” – because it’s not at all what you’d expect! These were for the wealthy landowners to grown PINEAPPLES in!

Next week’s blog posting will be about a new eco-project Mom/Joy has taken on for the winter and which will be an amazing eye-opener for many who don’t do their part to protect our environment, I believe. It will also include the full process we have just finished this week of getting our only snack food   – popcorn!- ready for a winter’s pleasurable treat that we have finally grown ourselves.  More work than you might think – but isn’t everything we’re doing?

And regular readers may have noticed I didn’t do my regular fun Hallowe’en post this year, allowing the crows and scarecrows from last week to take its place.  But is that enough?  I think with the use of all these old windows in our greenhouse, we should show a few ghostly faces peering out of the old panes:

This one’s from Birmingham, U.K. See the old lady?

2BCC54B600000578-3216146-image-m-48_1440950444938

A SPOOKY hooded figure was photographed in Queensland, Australia, in the window of a building where 18th century Catholic trainee priests tried to escape persecution.

 

ghost-main

And  perhaps the most frightening – this chimp-boy calling out from the window of a psychiatric hospital in Brecon, Wales that had been closed for 16 years!

Ghost-in-the-window-504985

And, a house I have visited (near Salem, Mass., where else for spookiness?) and an author I’ve studied and taught, Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables to name a few works) has left his etchings on the window of his old manse, along with those of his young bride’s. With her diamond engagement ring, they wrote the following on the pane, still visible to this day:

Man’s accidents are God’s purposes. Sophia A. Hawthorne 1843
The smallest twig leans clear against the sky
Composed by my wife and written with her diamond
Inscribed by my husband at sunset, April 3 1843. In the Gold light.

Here’s the Old Manse and it’s many wonderful old multi-paned windows:

old manse

A ghostly book I love with some amazing fables, especially the Legend of Seven Gables is  Jenn Carpenters book entitled Haunted Lansing.  You can read this chapter online as a sample; it’s unbelievable how many ghosts have appeared in the old windows of the 7-gabled farmhouse – and ELSEWHERE there!

Lastly, it may interest a few of you to know that the house my grandparents built in the early 1950s, and in which I spent most of my childhood (either living there or being baby-sat there) was referred to by teasing/curious neighbours as “The Greenhouse”.  Designed by the same architect, Ian J. Davidson, who built the great houses of wealthy folk like Canada’s E.P.Taylor, our place was an odd assortment of higgledy-piggledy experiments, and the part most people saw from the highway was just a long series of windows that stretched all along the upstairs hallway, bathroom and what became my bedroom (facing due north, though, so hardly a ‘greenhouse’). The photo below is taken recently – when my grandparents built it, there were of course NO trees around it, so it just looked like a long line of windows stretched together under the roof.  The tree to the left is a catalpa, planted by Grandpa Johnson in the early 1950s, and to the right, a red cedar planted by Mom/Joy in the late 1970s.  The catalpa is hiding 3 more window panes that were the bedroom windows of a) my father as a boy, b) my grandfather in middle-age, and then by c)  me throughout all of my teens!  So you can imagine how stark and strange all those windows (and no trees!) must have seemed to passers-by for the first 20 or 30 years of that house’s life.  I remember getting teased about it at school as well; kids suggested we were growing a lot of ‘pot’ in there, which idea could ONLY have come from their parents as they drove by!  So yes, I grew up in a greenhouse and got a lot of teasing – but “whose house is of glass must not throw stones at another”… (George Herbert)

the parcel, b&w

Crows & Scarecrows, Pumps & Pumpkins

title page

  NOTE: Trying a rhyme scheme I’ve never attempted: abaca.  Very odd!

quotetouse

I, as the Oz-man said, 
I am the one
With straw in my head
I, the unusual,
Not the autumn leaf dead.

So many scarecrows I've made
The couple with flowers
There in the shade
Of the autumn leaf dying
Though memories shan't fade:
This year at Blue Belldon, see-
The Skinny Scarecrow 
And partner made three
(the third on the porch)
As students jump the melee!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And though they aren't crows
But rather are starlings
The blackbirds in rows
Along in our garden
Don't seem in much fearful throes.


 

And for Thanksgiving week-end
The primitive crows
Made by a rustic shop friend
Filled out the basket
And fit in to the blend

Of autumnal decor
Of a long season done
Of harvest now o'er
When family has joined
And request always "More"?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Not "Nevermore" as says the raven
But just one word: 'more?', 
As 'tis our food they're cravin' !
(And for a week, Mom and I
In the kitchens were slavin' ! )

That weekend was bright
And ever so mild
There were lads to play-fight
And scamp through the trees-
A heart-warming sight!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And back in on the hutch
More primitive stuff
Some pumpkins and such
With white poppies in bloom
-Oh the bounty was much!

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And from garden's top
In the pumpkin patch
We chose all the crop
Placed on display
Like a proper farm shop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Except for just two
That were lovely and ripe.
Mom made crust new
And the pie-fill from scratch
Organically true~

 

 

And any pumpkins past prime
(Or the bits dug out)
The hens got, in time
When the guests had all left,
And the rest of the rhyme...

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

...is instead about pumps
With no suffix of 'kin'
Because the sunset humps
O'er the mountains like fire
Then the auburn light jumps:

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And a rainbow finds gold
As sure as the luck
Will ne'er run old
As sure as the season
Was ne'er seen so bold.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For though Richard eats pie
Til there's no pumpkin left
To cast All Hallow's die
And the autumn is done...
"Give Thanks!", we reply!

rich,pumpkin

For though the bright is in fade
And there's bleak days ahead
We find that in trade
Is a time of sweet rest
"Give Thanks!" is re-played.

The garden is bare,
The leaves have all fallen-
But we mustn't show care
As the harvest had bounty!
"Brave Winter" we dare!

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

So, with just one more glance
At the bright orange sea
With no photo-enhance
Farewell we all wave
---NOW bring on Winter's TRANCE!

chevy, autumn, richard, cammie

The Biggest Blue Belldon Day… of 2018

Well, you’ve been treated to tidbits, both here and on Facebook, but Tiffany Christensen, our local New Denmark born-and-raised young photographer (see her work in other blog posts using tag words such as the pageant, founders day, etc.) has processed and published her huge album of Richard’s niece Carriann’s and groom Matthieu LeBlanc’s big day here on the farm on July 28th. So, as promised, that’s mostly what this posting is about.  If you aren’t interested in the family connections or the homemade decor or the Tolkien tid-bits,  skip to the bottom to see more of Tiffany’s work – but seasonal this time! She takes great autumnal shots, some from right here at the farm and some OF the farm from a distance! Lovely! And, as mentioned previously, the next post will be Crows and Scarecrows, and the one after that will be all about Richard’s new greenhouse by the garden – all made with recycled windows and old tin from my cabin. He’s almost finished it, just in time for the cold weather… But for now, enjoy the beauty of this special day when our farm was shared by many.

DECOR 

As early as mid-2017, Carriann and Matthieu, from 3 hours south of us in Saint John, approached us about a farm wedding. They wanted a beautiful vista, just as her Aunt Kim had had at her wedding in Quebec the year prior.  Carriann, ever tactful, posed the question something like this:  “We were wondering if you guys know of any place up your way that has some gorgeous views where we might get married in 2018? ”  So, of course, we offered to help in any way we could and offered the farm as a base if they wanted it.  We agreed, wisely I believe, that having tents and the reception here as well would have been too much, so the reception was up the road at the New Denmark Rec. Centre (which has been pictured for you in other blog postings – a real country venue with original stage and hardwood floors, with a gorgeous vista of its own!)

Since Rustic Revivals and Rural Revivals (my two artistic and consulting businesses) have done a number of farm weddings, I offered, as far back as March 2018, to begin making Carriann and Matt’s (heretofore referred to as C and M) choices of items mostly made with their colours: lilac to dark purple and lime green.  (a note: while the couple would have preferred to have had the wedding in June, when our lilacs would have been out in matching splendor as well as the white apple blossoms on the trees under which we walked, we knew the blackflies would have been just too horrendous in that month to have had people sitting out in the orchard (the worst spot on the farm for them). So a year ago it was decided that the wedding should take place in July, near the end, when all the planting would be done and to have given flowers a chance to be blooming. Sadly, as it turned out, it was such a hot, dry summer that not much HAD bloomed (and didn’t until Sept! See last post, Purple Haze!)  And the only day in 3 months that it DID threaten to rain (90 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms all day!) WAS the day of the wedding, but due to a lot of praying and pleading, it was a lovely temperate day with just the right amount of breeze blowing across the valley to keep the insects and heat to a minimum and yet not to topple anything precarious…  Click on any photo to enlarge and read caption:

Tiffany took some much better photos of some of the decor around the farm. Comments regarding each are underneath:

38
At the last minute, I threw some lime green paint on this old frame I had as part of my Rustic Revivals’ hoard. So glad I did, as I LOVE this photo!

 

33
You have followed in an earlier blog the many long hours Richard put in, in hot sun, tearing off the metal from the cabin that will soon become my shop. I varnished the trim and painted some purple and green accessories on just for the wedding, as well as planting the flower boxes with some overhanging purple thyme and white baby’s breath from the garden. We knew it would make a great feature for the professional shots and Tiffany used it brilliantly!
bride, groom, hobbit hole
the Hobbit Holee door and window fit so well into the grassy knoll, and this tilted brilliance on Tiffany’s part really made it seem more surreal and magical. The shot below is just an impulsive one of the 4 of us.

31

21
While Mom wasn’t at this wedding, having gone to Ontario to give up her upstairs suite for the wedding visitors who were with us for nearly a week to help get the farm looking ship-shape, her presence was felt in the flowers she’d bought and helped plant and water and weed, and in, for example, this purple woven mat of hers that we used to cover the chair
20
My great-grandmother Lipsit’s tablecloths were on a number of accessory tables for this wedding, but I had some other paperweights laid aside for use on the outdoor tables. Not until Tiffany’s photos came out ten days ago did I realize that Richard had grabbed a crowbar when Pastor Ralph asked for a weight!
13
Carriann’s brother, Richard’s nephew, Chris has been physically and mentally challenged his whole life, but is an accomplished musician and now can add being Lord of the Rings (ringbearer) to his sister’s slightly Tolkien-themed wedding!
7
as seen in earlier blogs, we set up a water fountain with some wild animal representation to add some more purple in case all the purple flowers weren’t yet in bloom (which they weren’t). It was meant to collect some loose change for the couple, with people making wishes for them, but as so many of the guests were French I don’t think anyone bothered to read my signs! Still, the purple accents helped with the colour!
4
Love this photo of Tiffany’s, just showing a close-up glimpse of the couple’s colour choices. Richard actually picked this floral arrangement himself, based on the lime green leaves in the centre. We had to keep it carefully watered for over a month to keep it looking like that in the dry heat! Those are bed sheets on barrels for snacks in the background. ALWAYS upcycling!
5
another shot I personally appreciate from Tiffany, since I planned hard to offer healthy farm-type snacks but still keep them in the colour theme! Love the wagon wheel in the background, too – Tiff has such a great eye!

Some more of the purple and green recycled, upcycled, homemade or all-natural decor – remember to click on any photo you want to read the caption/make the photo bigger!

REHEARSAL, and REICH DINNER — FRIDAY -CANDID SHOTS:

remember to click on any photo you want to read the caption/make the photo bigger!

Saturday Morning -The Big Day – Thunderstorms in the Forecast, but …

the decorating and tidying work continues! ALL the bridal party and parents pitching in…remember to click on any photo you want to read the caption/make the photo bigger!

AND FINALLY – THE WEDDING ITSELF 

These are now mostly Tiffany Christensen’s gorgeous photos, which I’ll let mostly speak for themselves. A few others (not marked with Tiff’s fun logo in the left corner) were taken by the two aunts -either myself or Carriann’s mother’s sister, her Aunt Kim, whose dress she was also wearing – so even more along the upcycle/recycle theme I always love here at Blue Belldon!!   Most of these have captions to explain, and are primarily in the order in which they took place:

patti and carriann2
Step-Mom Patti-Lynne at work on hair and make-up for the bride
patti and carriann
a final touch-up
father and son
Father of the Bride, Jean-Marc (Richard’s brother) ties the rings to Chris’s recycled pillow
for Tiffany
professional photographer Tiffany Christensen prepares for the work ahead with a quiet chat with bride Carriann on our side porch
3
for those that know our orchard, this is the arm of the white bench overlooking the rock garden and the lovely view (between the two apple trees) where Tiffany wisely thought to place the rings for a neat shot
2
Carriann’s Aunt Kim, who took many of these shots not marked with Tiff’s logo, helps her niece with her shoes
1
bridesmaids get ready, in front of our big bedroom mirror put in front of the fireplace
10
bridesmaids ready!
11
Pastor Ralph is ready – trying to calm the wind?
12
The groom had his own special walk down the aisle – to a Lord of the Rings orchestral piece, of course!
13
Carriann’s brother, Richard’s nephew, Chris has been physically and mentally challenged his whole life, but is an accomplished musician and now can add being Lord of the Rings (ringbearer) to his sister’s slightly Tolkien-themed wedding!
14
The groomsmen make their decent through the two natural arches of the apple tree
15
adore this shot of Tiffany’s – very artsy!
16
Tia the flower girl begins to throw the rose petals
17
Father and Daughter begin their journey
flower girl
This is a shot by Aunt Kim – love how you can see the natural arch that the bride and father are just about to go through
br and father under arch
da-da-da-dum~~

19

parking and guests

1822

23
C and M wanted the scenery, the birch arch, the rose petals strewn and the bubbles being blown behind – here are all 4 desires shown together!

24

25
Carriann, with Richard’s Mom (her Grandmere) Helene
26
this is Richard’s favourite photo – he is in the background talking to his two sons, whilst his brother looks like he’d rather be talking about cars back with them!
27
the whole gang
28
Richard’s father, Hans, and his wife Betty with the happy couple
29
with the parents, Vince, Yvonne, and their son Matthieu, Carriann and her father Jean-Marc and her step-mom Patti-Lynn (also the official make-up artist, and videographer!
30
the couple with Richard’s two very-much Torontonian sons!
tiffany organizing
Tiffany tries to organize the shot she took prior to this one!

37363534

robin in wedding

The photo below needs some explanation – the groomsmen, the happy couple and myself all jumped on our truck for Richard to drive us down to the grassy knoll for photos of the Hobbit Hole.  As I was on the tail gate, Richard seemed to forget that I had had 3 back surgeries and was on the waiting list for knee surgery and thought it very funny to drive like a maniac all over our field and track. So I had to lean back to try and keep balance. Tiffany, who was behind me, thought this very amusing, apparently!

32

And a few from the reception at the New Denmark Rec Centre: (photo credits to all and sundry, but the really exceptional ones are by Kim Mageau and Patti-Lynne Reich)

 

 

richard, sons and girlfriends
Richard’s son Erich and his girlfriend Fran, from Toronto on left, Carriann’s other grandmere from Quebec in centre, and Richard’s son Nigel, with girlfriend Deeanna on right
richard and family
Richard’s dad Hans, brother (father-of-the-bride) Jean Marc, Richard, his step-mom Betty (she and Hans drove from Kingston, ON!) and mom Helene (also from Saint John)
richard and mom dancing
Richard dancing with his Mom in an almost empty hall – the two tables behind them weren’t used as SOMEONE miscounted the number of guests on the groom’s side… either that or my big scary Tolkien giant hanging from the door scared everyone away!)  But the dancing got sillier and much more popular later. I won’t post any of those!
head table
the head table and C and M’s special table above on the stage
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Some who have followed the renovations here at Blue Belldon may remember this wicker arch (which normally has shelves!) which is in our bedroom and which I picked up by the side of the road in Ontario because someone was just sick of it! We have certainly had a great deal of use from this freebie as it was once in our Rural Creators’ Collective shop in Carlisle ON too!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Nigel and Deanna – though they have NO PLANS to marry, Nigel caught the garter and Deanna caught the bouquet. Hmmm.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The gents lining up to catch the flying garter
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Richard, Carriann trying to get her cousin Erich to dance

 

specialsA close up of the lime-green mint jelly of which I put ONE  on each table for sampling with the meal, along with the entertaining cards about old-fashioned marriages (just happened to be purple and green cards, so why not?) Jean-Marc and Patti-Lynne followed the eco-friendly theme of the farm and had organic seeds done up as table favours – highly suggest to all!

richard with chris
Love this shot of Richard and his nephew Chris (Lord of the Rings!)  in deep conversation
father daughter dance
Photo of Dad and Daughter – lovely shot!

And now, as promised – or in case you didn’t want to look at the beautiful photos of the wedding previously, here’s some seasonal and autumnal shots from lens-master Tiffany, to get you back in a fall mood…

blue belldon farm and views
The red tree to right is the only non-birch tree in our birch grove on Blue Belldon. This is our view every day – aren’t we lucky?
going down Lucy's Gulch
Going down the steep Lucy’s Gulch, with the Saint John River below and Grand Falls, and Limestone Maine beyond in distance
our farm from Blue Bell mountain
Tiffany took this of our farm from the top of Blue Bell Mountain, across the valley. That’s us right in the middle!
tractor, new denmark
a New Denmark tractor preparing the harvest of potatoes and other crops
train tracks
the lush colours of New Denmark
two churches by night
Tiffany grabbed this one night of our two churches on the hill – I think she needs to enter it in a contest or have it made into a poster for some religious event, don’t you?
two churches
The two churches from closer to our farm

 

See you next time, for “Crows and Scarecrows”…

Purple Haze

Most people think of autumn in terms of oranges and yellows, but before that, and just after summer has dipped away, there is a time in September that is just ‘purple’. Now, of course purple has been very much at the forefront for much of this spring and summer as it was the primary colour chosen by Richard’s niece for her wedding, so we were planting and painting in a lot of those shades.  But the morning glories didn’t choose to bloom until this month (and before the frost last week they were in tremendous glory indeed, and not just in the morning!)  And the hills have had a purple haze on them most mornings and evenings, with much mist and fog and drifting smoke from those choosing to already start heating their homes (we haven’t).

But September is NOT a time to settle and relax yet, in fact it is THE busiest month of all months on the farm – even worse than late May-mid-June when all the planting and watering is being done. Harvest has always been a ‘crazy’ time, what with picking and pickling, processing, carrying, cooking and canning, foraging and freezing.  The only one who slows down a bit in September is Simba. Well, not that Simba (old and fat) EVER does anything in a hurry, but the cooler days means we don’t force him out the door at 7 a.m. now, or really at all. So he’s back in happy-mode (he doesn’t really like outside!)  Thus, for only one of us, there is time to stretch a dainty ballet-dancer’s paw and rest easy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Simba in September

Considering the morning glories were all planted in early June for blooming by late July’s wedding, it is shocking that they took this long to show themselves. They are supposed to be one of the fastest-growing climbing plants – but here they are now, along with some scarlet runner beans which also grow quickly and were meant to cover all our birch arches in time for the ceremony.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
purple everywhere!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
sit a spell!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
morning and the glories

Richard is excited because he FINALLY got to find the first egg laid by one of our original Buff Orpingtons. We THINK it’s C.C. (cuddly chick) but they are hard to tell apart anymore, and C.C. isn’t as friendly as she used to be… Of course, as in the last blog entry, Lucy was our substitute and she came laying for us already, but now we are finally getting 2 eggs a day and I can breathe a little easier knowing that baking time (which really slows down during harvest as there’s so much else to do in the kitchen)  through the winter will have a reliable supply without anyone having to make a trip to the chicken farm!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
doesn’t take much to excite Richard these days!

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Lucy the Layer (left) is joined by the two NON-laying Buff Orpingtons (the other one is on the nest in the barn doing her best to pop one out!)   But these two girls need to get going as well!

Speaking of chickens, Richard is building a greenhouse out of recycled windows from various neighbours, (next blog!) and he can’t MOVE for stumbling over a bird.  Boy, dig up a little earth and do they come running!  (That bluish-purple flower is the Borage – gone MAD this year, but it’s so great for attracting the bees; it’s their very favourite of anything on the property and it lasts from June through to even after the first frost or two!)

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Lucy the Layer:  “Find me some WORMS, dude!”

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Our egg-bowl on the table (you don’t have to refrigerate eggs if they haven’t been cleaned or refrigerated priorly) and our favourite snack, introduced to us last year by our cousin Linda – delicious lovely GROUND CHERRIES!

Our edamame didn’t get as big this year as the other two years ; the weather makes so much difference to everything and while most veg did BETTER this year, and we were over-flowing in squash and cucumber and tomatoes (and beans, always bloody BEANS!) the edamame which is one of our favourite snacks too, just didn’t do as well. But we still have enjoyed them AND frozen some (steamed a bit first, then dried!).  Best way to eat them though, is as the Japanese do it – steamed lightly, salted heavily, and popped into your mouth right from the pod! Highly suggest if you haven’t before that you try both ground cherries (you don’t do anything to them, just open the paper lantern and eat the sweet YELLOW fruit!)  and edamame.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
steamed edamame ready for snacking

garden 2018

Above and below are photos taken of the garden in the mist one morning, by guest Mary Walker. She and Dave came by again this autumn on their way through the Maritimes with their big R.V.  The purply borage can be seen above on either side of the garden in a haze of blurred colour and below, among the corn, amarynth and herbs (which I’ve been both hanging and drying in the oven for use over the winter) A note on sunflowers – I thought I planted the right kind this year – the kind of seeds we can eat for snacking.  The chickens like them, but they aren’t the human kind, so trial 3 was a bust on those again!

garden 2018,mary

Another plant I’ve been introduced to this year is kohl rabi.  We aren’t really cabbage-eating people here, and it’s very hard to grow anyway, but Pierrette, who has lived here her whole life suggested the kohl rabi. Fist-sized when ready for picking, it’s cabbage-like, but a bit more parsnip-tasting and I invented (due to what was ripe at the time) a great pureed soup with fennel leaves, kohl rabi and whey from all the cheese-making I’ve been doing. The other pureed soups I have made up and frozen are zucchini and fennel and cucumber and whey.  Best served cold with dollops of Cammie’s yogurt in the centre like sour cream. Yum!

mary, milk, kohl rabi

Kohl Rabi (above in basket) ready for a batch of soup to be made up, with quarts of goat milk in the foreground ready for our favourite cheese – the herb-rolled chevre.  I’ve also had some success (in texture and quantity, but not TASTE yet) with feta and mozzarella. Thanks to Mary Walker for the photo!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Mom and Mary off for a morning walk in the September sunshine

Cammie can be SOOOO naughty!  When she’s loose she isn’t just foraging the flowers and plants we don’t want her eating, BUT when we notice Smitty sitting really close to our kitchen door, it’s because that darn goat has come on the porch and virtually kicked Smitty off his sleeping bag bed so SHE can lie on it~!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Cammie on dog-bed

She doesn’t even act guilty when you go out and shout at her to get off!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
“Bad Cammie !”

Purple Haze on the mountains close out most of our September days, although the oranges and yellows are starting now and will be featured in the next few posts, which will include the building of the greenhouse, plus a plethora of  scarecrows, and murders of crows, and Thanksgiving and pumpkins and straw-bales…

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
PURPLE HAZE, 7:00 p.m.