Summer in Summary

Getting back to blogging slowly, as we are still frantically busy with garden, guests and special events (this time fun ones, NOT ones I’m responsible for organizing!)  We’ve had someone staying with us here at Blue Belldon every 2nd week since the beginning of May, and this is going on until just after Thanksgiving… We love having guests, though – especially when they pitch in and help with the garden and animals, as many have been doing!

Here’s a summary in photos (the caption for each photo is directly below it) of some of the goin’s-on since July 1st.  I will be touching on many of these things in more detail, in postings of their own, AND offering some gardening and preserving ideas I’ve come up with this year in the next 4 or 5 blog postings, but for today, just relax and enjoy:

ida may, ndm

Starting from July 1st, (written about previously) when we sang with the mass choir and also The (New) New Denmark Minstrels (the little group I’ve been trying to keep together and train to sing in three part harmony!), this is how the summer  has gone.  Above, finishing “Ida May”, which has become a well-complimented ditty that I wrote with guitar accompaniment about the lady who settled our farm. That’s Mom directly to my left, and Richard’s the only man wearing a white shirt.

DSCF7580

Richard and I have spent a lot of time in the early summer harrowing our pastures and planting timothy in the top meadow.

DSCF7578

We then had neighbours come to cut and rake the hay, and friend Zeb behind us and ‘down the marsh’ helped get the bales in. Chevy, as always, seems unconcerned by any goings-on.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Chevy’s big head and body will be taking in a lot of hay this year, as well as the beet pulp we’ve discovered we need to feed him to keep weight on!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADespite rain, cold and constant black flies, Mom/Joy has worked hard getting the garden weeded and was also in charge of all the flowers. Zeb’s Mom, Pierrette has also helped us plant more wildflowers around the farm, and we hope next year might be even more beautiful in various spots!

Just a few of the wildflowers and also the scarlet runner beans I plant for quick and dependable climbers (around the wagon wheel).  Also, this summer I let the cilantro and borage grow in the garden to their full heights and flowering as the bees LOVE this and help cross-pollinate our veg.  The wonderful weeding job has been primarily done by Mom, as I was down with strep for most of July. Her friend Shirley Robinson helped quite a lot as well in July, and Richard did go through the paths with the rototiller also… (taking out a freshly planted row of carrots as he went, of course).

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s the wildflowers we’ve cut for various vases recently, as well as some lunch veg.  Spinach had to be replanted a 3 rd time as we love it so much, and the first two didn’t ‘take’  due to heavy rains in June.  Ontario readers may be surprised to learn we are JUST NOW, in Sept., getting some ripened tomatoes!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Earlier than last year (we also had a two-week drought in early August! Crazy year!) we had to start picking apples.  I’ll have another blog post on all the things we ‘ve done with ours and a neighbour’s apples this year, but Richard had fun experimenting with ‘toys’ to peel and core them!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Smitty has had to go back on the chain for most of the summer, as he still bites through washing line cord and certainly through rope, and if not tied up, chases cars and people on the road (and still may possibly bite them and neighbours coming over to visit!)  He does have access to porch and lawn, shade and sun, and of course – those beautiful views, plus one of us is walking past him for a pat nearly every 20 minutes or so, so don’t feel TOO sorry for his pathetic-looking mug! (Thanks to Leanne for the photo!)

DSCF7582

On one of Mom’s doctors’ appointments in Fredericton (2 hours from here) we did stop in the lovely village of Hartland as a bit of sight-seeing and to see the world’s longest covered bridge…

Any other touristy-stuff was just done by Mom, as Richard and I can’t really get away:

DSCF7463
Mom and her only grandchild Sydney, named for my father whom he never met, on the beach in P.E.I. in July
DSCF7464
Sydney and Mom’s friend and avid blog-reader Shirley Robinson in Charlottetown. (I’m pretty sure she was holding the 2nd ice cream for my Mom; she wouldn’t like you all to think she was having TWO! )
DSCF7474
Sydney is taking after his aunt Julie with a love of Musical Theatre. They all went to see “Anne” on stage, and Syd had to have the hat and wig…  Aunt Julie’s very first role on stage was when SHE was in Grade 6 (same as Sydney this year) and SHE played Marilla! (under the direction of Mr. Peter Wright).

Richard did get away for several days in July to take his car down to the Atlantic Nationals in Moncton, a show he and his brother have often visited ( once with me, also, 10 years ago…)  Both the main street of the city as well as the largest park are FULL of over 2,000 old vehicles.  This is NOT a good way to help one live self-sufficiently and organically, helping nature to help you… but it IS a passion of Richard’s…

3141385388_19495a61bf_b7699124986_e8aef02abc_h

Richard left the farm for 5 days to drive 3 hours to Moncton in his ’73 Chevy Nova to enter his dream-car-show, the Atlantic Nationals.  People drive their old vehicles from as far as the Yukon to enter this, so Richard and his brother Jean-Marc (who used to own the Nova) had a wonderful time.  Richard stands proudly by his beast (the reason our horse is also named “Chevy”  and the goat’s named “Cammie” because Richard USED to own a Camaro as well)

IMG_20170709_143559

Zeb also likes to help the Nova get polished, and Leanne, from Scotland, missed out getting taken for a car ride last year (the car was in pieces at that point) so last week Richard made sure both young folk had a tour of New Denmark in it:

nova ride with guests

Chevy of course IS a beast, as Sydney’s visit shows… He likes to stand like a statue when small children are around, so he doesn’t accidentally trod their toes (no such consideration for adults, of course!)  Both Sydney and Leanne (now a professional horse trainer, an addition to the days we both took pony treks out in the highlands of Scotland together!) had a good time keeping Chev in shape for the winter months, when Richard will really be using him out in the bush!

Not to be outdone, of course, Cammie has to get in on all the action as well:

leanne and animalsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADSCF7504DSCF7507

above, Leanne from Scotland, (I’m her adopted ‘Mither’), me in a selfie that’s tricky to get with a squirming goat!, Sydney my nephew and Cammie showing off.

leanne, crabapples

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Of course, it isn’t just about hard work and fun with the livestock.  While Leanne was here we picked an entire tree of crab-apples, and she and Richard both helped me prepare them (in various prep ways!) for the same things I did last year with them: crabapple sauce, crabapple juice (great in smoothies!), crabapple jelly and something new I tried because we got sick of quartering them and had some fairly big ones on the south-west side of the tree:  Spicy Pickled Crabapples. (mmmmmm….!!!)  Various food preserving methods will be written up later in the season for anyone interested. But of course we also have the usual peas and beans to work on gradually throughout August, so it’s all hands on deck for THAT!  (About 40 recycled bags and containers in the deep freeze with all of those at present).  Right now we are starting on the edamame,  (7 rows of it!) and because we all love those so much, we’re looking at various ways of preserving and eating them. FULL of protein!

DSCF7607DSCF7605DSCF7604

Richard had his car show, and I (Rustic Revivals) had a show in Plaster Rock at the end of August as well. It was fun to have a bigger booth space than ever before, and even be right beside the big log house that is the tourist information booth! (Yup, that’s right, there’s Richard in the background, heavily engrossed in a Steve Berry or Clive Cussler).

rainbow, chevy

While Chevy may be the Pot of Gold (I did own a pony named that once, we called her “Potsy” and she starred with my “Rainbow the Clown” when I did that professionally for a few years) at the end of this lovely rainbow, a dream really did come true for me right after this:

with ron turcotte

Got to meet long-time hero of mine, Ron Turcotte (above). Ron is from the area, and not only had his first racetrack rides on the famous Canadian horse Northern Dancer, but rode to fame as the exclusive jockey for Secretariat, piloting him around to be the first winner of the Triple Crown (all 3 tough races!) in 25 years, AND winning the Belmont by an unprecedented (and un-dreamed-of, even!) 31 lengths!  Ron was part of the CBC documentary on New Denmark a few weeks ago, with Jonny Harris’ Still Standing:

mom with jonny harris, cbc

In the first photo, above, Mom seems to be the centre of attention of all the CBC cameras and mics, whilst she unconcernedly munches a Danish sausage from our local butcher, Ron Hansen.  However, they are really rushing to keep on top of Jonny himself, as seen in the second photo, and Mom keeps a close eye on the activities, as she’s been watching Still Standing on her laptop of an evening lately (remember, we have no television services).  Three out of the four ladies behind the Danish Delicacies table have all sung with Richard and myself at some point, showing you what a truly small community we are!

Leanne snapped this shot of the New Denmark museum’s barn a few weeks ago, ready for Jonny to come out and do his locally-based hilarity. And there’s Jonny with our own Megan Bach, Miss New Denmark (see my previous posts on the crazy times of the beauty pageant:  Hill-billy Hootenany: Purty Pals and Gingham Gals as well as Founder’s Day Festivities) .  The New Denmark episode will be airing on CBC next spring (Season 4). I’ll be sure to let you all know in advance!  If you hear Jonny singing  Frere Jacques in Danish, I was the one who got to write it out phonetically for him!

DSCF7489

T R E E S  were an important part of our summer, of course –  (above, my brother-in-law Boyd, with my sister Jennifer)  —-not just climbing them to pick fruit, but lying under them in the hammock, (not much time for that, but our guests enjoyed!)  BUILDING in them as well, swinging in them AND, for Richard and Leanne, zip-lining through them!

DSCF7534

I helped Sydney build a tree-house out in the birch grove, and will treasure this photo Mom took of us.  He didn’t get to enjoy the platform-sitting (with his book) for very long before he was whisked away, but we all hope he’ll be back to enjoy other Blue Belldon summers with us.  My sister Jennifer probably isn’t so keen on this next photo, as it’s no doubt reminiscent of me ordering her about throughout our childhoods and constantly explaining how to do things, whilst she actually DOES them. (Tree-climbing used to be one of my favourite things, but with my bad knees now, it’s simply out of the question, so Jen had to go up and fix a few things Sydney didn’t quite make strong enough!) :

DSCF7549

DSCF7514

I love the above shot of a summer day at Blue Belldon Farm, with a tire swing we erected for Sydney, and Chevy and Cammie grazing in the distance… and alongside the house – here comes the nephew with a ladder to help with the tree-house-building!

And below is a shot of Richard and Leanne practicing to do their zip-line through the trees and across the gorge. I didn’t go to watch, as there were many beans to pick and crab-apples to can, so Mom didn’t get a shot of Richard actually on the line going across the Grand Falls gorge, a mistake about which she has yet to stop hearing!

DSCF7611

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For the last month and a half, we’ve been rehearsing in our ‘meeting room’ for the skit I wrote for the 100th anniversary of our church this past Saturday night.  Here are neighbours, Peter Jensen, Barb Christensen, Richard, Zeb (played Ned Kram, which spells Denmark backwards) and myself.  I won’t show you the skit being performed until I do a whole blog post on the fun we had Saturday night, but to give you a tantalizing look, what is Mom doing in a toga? Helping me with costume-fittings!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And here’s a few more teases:

above (clockwise) Me in the wings with Zeb, me with Miss New Denmark, spinning the wheel Richard made for the Pastors’ Trivia Challenge I ‘forced’ them to do (or so our Pastor Ralph will have you believe) me playing for the New Denmark Minstrels, and Richard singing a solo I wrote for him about the building of our church on the hill… Thanks to Mom for snapping these. Leanne was the official photographer for the night, so, as she’s just arrived back in Scotland, we’ll wait a few more days for her pics.

Most people think of the Maritime provinces as having lots of sun and sand involved in a summer. Obviously, when you live inland in the mountains, that isn’t the case!  But Mom and Shirley got to see some sand with Jennifer’s family in P.E.I., and Richard saw some on the coast over by Moncton at the car show.  We felt badly that we were too busy to get Leanne to see some (although being from Aberdeen area and working on an oil rig, she hardly needs to see more ocean!). However, yesterday a friend of Pierrette’s and Zeb’s, Yolanda, kindly drove her all the way to the Bay of Fundy so she could see the amazing tide-work and pad about in the sand.  Good-bye, Summer, ‘we hardly knew ya!’

Summer is over

Advertisements

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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAME

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!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

feeder

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

540831688

Floored

This DELIGHTFUL D.I.Y. is completely a how-to.  So, loyal readers, if you aren’t interested in even the before and after pictures, close-it-up now, and I’ll ‘see’ you next week…. Since before we moved here, we knew we wanted to change the upstairs hall floor in the ‘newer’ wing (1970s).  (For the work we did on the hallway and stairs in the old (1920’s) wing, see the middle section of this post:  https://bluebellmountainblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/06/log-cabin-legends-part-ii-phyllis/  )

Mom has had to deal with the remains of others’ ‘ideas’; that is the GOOD idea to rip out the old and dirty 1970s carpeting that was in the hallway outside her bedroom/livingroom area, BUT the BAD idea to just leave the mish-mash of plywood sub-flooring and to STAIN IT DARK AND URETHANE WITH MEGA-SHINE ! This is not only far too dark for this hallway with no windows of its own, BUT it enhances the cracks and bits and bobs of boards cut and angled every which way.

Many options were discussed, but we didn’t want to spend a lot of money NOR did any of us really want to do the non-eco-friendly laminate or vinyl thing. Ugh.  But Mom did see some laminate flooring boards she thought would work well – and to my surprise they were a light grey and rather rustic-looking!  I said “Mom, I can paint this same effect and it’ll cost under 100.00”.  Which I did.

Now, while there’s a soft-wood tongue and groove floor under the sub-flooring we didn’t know what state it was in, nor did we have the time/money/ or inclination to have our lives disrupted while all the plywood was ripped out and yet more decisions made on what to do with IT.  (Plus it wouldn’t have been level with the other floors in her bedroom and living room!)

So, painting a plywood floor to look like old, worn planks – here we go!

While Mom was away for 3 weeks in Nfld. visiting my sister and her only grandchild, I thought the time was ideal. We’re expecting a LOT of visitors this spring/summer/fall (why doesn’t anyone want to come in winter when we’re bored and LONELY?????)  But, though she was gone, I still wasn’t about to make a huge mess or an unhealthy environment by sanding the plywood first. Soooo, since a grey under-coat is essential for the right ‘look’, I simply bought a Rustcoat Primer to go right over the shiny varnished existing floor.  But first, I filled in all those cracks that go every-which-way, leaving only the cracks that went lengthwise, which I would be replicating anyway (adding to the realism!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then I started painting, always with a dry brush to make it ‘streaky’ and sometimes with a rag to ‘wipe’, as the whole look was to be ‘distressed’, emulating the worn-through grain – that is, wherever the plywood’s grain might actually be going the ‘right’ way!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In the good ‘grainy’ parts, I even wanted a bit of the brown to show through, to add even more texture, as you’ll see below. So, it was a bit of artistic working as I went along to decide what parts would look good coming through, and what needed to be wholly covered because it was too obviously plywood …

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After letting all the grey dry, I streaked some lower areas with a peach colour, as we didn’t want the white to be too white and drastic (also, I had the white I bought also lightly tinted with peach). We chose peach because it’s in Mom’s Turkish rug that she likes in the hall, in the old floral wallpaper throughout BOTH hallways, and also peach is a bit in her bedroom and in the quilt in the landing… but you could choose a tint of whatever colour you’re trying to bring out).  So, here’s the blotches of peach I slapped thickly on!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After all that was dry (several days later!) I started the really tricky bit. Trying to keep a stiff, mostly dry brush and streaking the white paint on all in long brush strokes to try and give the impression of grain in big,wide old pine planks that most farmhouses would have had originally if they couldn’t afford hardwood floors!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I tried to leave the grainy spots I’d already decided on and wiped showing through, and then had to add more white to the spots where I’d painted peach, so that it wasn’t too obvious that the PEACH was showing through.  Quite a balancing act, and a lot of standing back, looking and musing…

The tricky thing is to never have a paint brush line like so:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You’ve got to be very careful to blend your strokes so that it will look like a uniformed ‘streak’ to give the effect of big long boards…

Then, before the white dried in areas, I would use what I call the ‘rake comb’ to drag more lines on going the same way as the grain. This would make it look MORE like the grain of big boards, and less like the plywood it is.  But then you have to ‘soften’ those lines with the brush again, to make it seem more subtle! So that’s MORE with the artistic eye plugged in and not the sleepy-head farmer I sometimes was up there!

When all the white was dry, I took pleasure in several of my favourite ‘well-worn-with time’ spots.  This is one of them:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I  streaky-painted the one little step transitioning into this hallway from the landing as well, but it was too drastic a colour switch from the blond floor to the white, so I’ll show you how I solved this later…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here is the floor painted all white, with some areas rubbed gently off to let even more grey show through.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The second-last step, then is to use a yardstick and start painting on lines with a very thin little artist’s brush. I wanted to do it like it was narrow plank, then wide plank, alternating (as the cracks in some of the plywood that I’d left were thinner, but I didn’t want the whole floor to be that ‘narrow-plank’ look.  So, paint these black lines to replicate the cracks.  But you don’t want to use thick black lines all along, as that would be too drastic as well, and very zebra-like!  So I painted lightly, then strong, lightly, then strong.  And after some of the lines dried, I’d even smudge a bit with some more white.  Here’s the final effect with lines:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And here’s how I solved the step transition problem. I wanted colours brought in from the blond of the hardwood on the landing, and some dark browns from the furniture and wainscotting and quilt, as well as some of the golds and peaches in the quilt. ta-dah!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Actually, I added even darker peachy-orange streaks to the flower and sponge-paint after this photo was taken, but I don’t seem to have the photos I took of THAT anymore! Anyway, letting some of the streaked white-grey of the upper floor show through, whilst segueing the colours of the blond floor and the quilt seems to have done the trick:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After this, I put on two coats of poly-urethane (just satin/matte – you don’t want it shiny if the effect is meant to be old plank boards!). Obviously, I don’t LIKE polyurethane, as it’s not friendly to the environment, but it IS  a necessary evil if you don’t want to be painting your floor every 6 months!

And here are the final two shots, with Mom’s rug from Turkey and her antique desks put back in place. When she and Richard saw it, they couldn’t BELIEVE it wasn’t actually old white-washed pine planks.  I think we could say, in fact, they were FLOORED!

Pussy-willows, Skunk-tails

A lot has been in the air this week  – about spring smells and summer sounds.  Tonight was the first night I heard my beloved peepers down in the valley’s marshes.  The birds are tweeting at dawn and at dusk.  And some more exciting warblings will be emanating from Blue Belldon tomorrow. (keep reading…)

Mom/Joy teaches piano to Zeb, our neighbour down the road. Every Thursday he comes for lessons, and last week he brought Mom a handful of pussywillows, wrapped with a bow.  They are such a heavenly reminder of spring!

pussywillows

When I was a young teen I was the piano accompanist (along with my cousin Joan) for a children’s choir called Rainbow Chorus.  One of the most beautiful songs ever written about spring, in my opinion, was sung every year by that choir of angelic young voices. And it’s that much better because of it being written by our own Canadian, Gordon Lightfoot:

Pussywillows, cat-tails, soft winds and roses
Rainbows in the woodland, water to my knees
Shivering, quivering, the warm breath of spring
Pussywillows, cat-tails, soft winds and roses

Catbirds and cornfields, daydreams together
Riding on the roadside the dust gets in your eyes
Reveling, disheveling, the summer nights can bring
Pussywillows, cat-tails, soft winds and roses

Slanted rays and colored days, stark blue horizons
Naked limbs and wheat bins, hazy afternoons
Voicing, rejoicing, the wine cups do bring
Pussywillows, cat-tails, soft winds and roses

Harsh nights and candlelights, woodfires a-blazin’
Soft lips and fingertips resting in my soul
Treasuring, remembering, the promise of spring
Pussywillows, cat-tails, soft winds and roses

And Canadian pop and folk songs have been very much on my mind this week, as I’ve been writing a medley of them to be sung in 3-part harmony by a new choir, the New Denmark Minstrels, led by yours truly (’cause no one else will do it).  We’re really just doing this for 150 Voices for the 150th Birthday on July 1st in near-by Perth/Andover., and then small ensemble choirs will break off and sing THEIR contributions:
We’ll be wearing red and white and singing all-Canadian content (both for Canada’s flag colours, and New Denmark’s!)  and I’m especially pleased that 14 have agreed to come out to rehearse and prepare to perform as the Minstrels. We’ve got bits of Johnny Cowell (Mom’s favourite as he’s from our home-town), Hagood Hardy, Joni Mitchell, Dan Hill, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Gene MacLellan (Anne Murray’s song-writer). So that, as well as now two-nights-a week rehearsing for the New Denmark Queen’s pageant is keeping me further from homesteading and moving on with self-sufficiency than I’d like to be… But, if you thrive on creative outlets, you grab ’em when you sees ’em!
Here’s the latest pageant collage, done by official photographer, Tiffany Christensen:
pageant1
So Canadian music and hill-billy music are filling my days.  (It’s worth mentioning again, here, that while I was NOT named for this hill-billy song, I think I was fated to become an Appalachian gal from the start.  The spelling is even exact on all 3 words: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFMI9ApJNU0 )
 It’s filling my days so much that, on top of the seed-tending in basement, the bread-and-muffin baking, the 3:00 a.m. run to Fredericton (2 hours one way) to take Mom/Joy to the airport (gone to Nfld. again) and the visiting of lumber mills in all 3 neighbouring towns, to find the best deal on what we need to build a paddock and run-in shelter/stall for the horse we’re getting in a few weeks (more on all this before mid-May), I’m actually falling asleep writing this.
 So pussy-willows stand for all the positive things that happen in spring.  And so would cat-tails, if we’d seen them lately.  We haven’t seen MUCH in the way of cat-tails, BUT skunk-tails, I’m afraid, are plentiful. Mom and Pop are sleeping under our porch steps, and I imagine the arrival of babies to be anytime now. Richard bought a live skunk trap, and they can’t lift their tails in it, so no spraying.  When caught they’ll be taken down Lucy’s Gulch and let loose. And preferably BEFORE Smitty ‘gets wind’ of them – he was sprayed by them 4 times last year, and I still don’t think he learned!

Lastly, the thing Richard enjoys most about the snows melting is that he can start planning for more future self-sufficient living again.  Should he get a windmill, or build a mill in Rasmussen Brook? Or perhaps a water tower for storage? What about another bank of solar?  When we were in Fredericton on Monday to get Mom to fly out, Richard studied up on some options at the truck stop “The Blue Canoe”.

Then, because we haven’t done a single touristy thing since moving to this province (for me, nearly a year ago!) we just played at silly sight-seers for a bit:

And then, whaddya know?  In true Rustic Revivals’ style, we found a sculpture of Gordon Lightfoot’s rusty goose on the ‘soft winds’  – – – AND   his cat-tails!!

 

 

A Twist of the Fist : Making the Grade on Your Braid

‘Old Braided Rug’ – Poem by Linda Winchell
I found an old hand-made braided rug
At a thrift store the other day.
It was quite a dirty sight to see
With some of its edges frayed.

I bought it up and rushed it home
To give it a much-needed bath.
And when it was cleaned, there t'was seen
Braided memories of someone's past.

One braided rope weaved into another:
A child's pajamas, or perhaps a robe? 
Then an old flour bag, 'Velvet Flour', 
Was the logo in this rug twas sewed.

Then what looked to be a small center piece 
Remnants of someone's wedding gown?
I think they placed it there on purpose
Sort of like this rug's jeweled crown.

Memories of someone's life
Braided into this useful little rug.
To place in front of a sink or bed
Giving where ever placed, a hug.

Does anyone still make them?
These puzzles of someone else's past...
This braided rug's now mine to treasure
To be enjoyed as long as it will last.

Well, yes, Linda – someone DOES still make them.  I’ve made a few smallish ones myself, years ago, and the easy way – from strips of old woolen rugs, and just one-sided.  But my mother, not only a spinner and weaver of rugs, etc. has now turned her hand(s) to braiding rugs.

Joy is a terrific braider.  When she was young, her own hair was in ‘pigtails’, which we still have in a box from when she finally got them cut off, pre-teens.  And until I was old enough to become “Chip”  ( early teens – see post from two weeks ago: “Hill-billy Hootenanny”) with my hair boyishly cut by the one and only Shirley Robinson (no one else dared do it EXACTLY as I asked – which was essentially like all the boys my age in the early 1970s) I, too, had a pair of two long braids, expertly twisted up each morning by my mother. She would French braid the part near my scalp, then quickly do regular braiding until near the ends.  These went along with my grandfather’s nick-name for me, “Annie Oakley”, esp. when I mounted my steed ‘Sugar’.  (Gail Davis, as Annie, DID wear pigtails, although the real Annie Oakley seemed to prefer to wear her long, thick tresses DOWN.)

tomboy on sugar

Once I gave up both rocking horses and hobby horses, (age about 14 – yes, seriously) and gave up riding Western (had my first pony from age 10-13, but Western horses are rarely braided) I then had to become an expert braider, as show and “3-day event” horses (the dressage portion at least and sometimes the stadium jumping portion) are always braided neatly, and often the braids are SEWN or rug-hooked in with yarn, and sometimes, if they are dark manes, wrapped with white medical tape to make them ‘pop’ out and show the line of the horse’s neck better. Here I am with some of my darker-maned geldings, with the white tape wrapped around the braided knot.  For the forelock, like my mother Joy had to do on my own ‘plaits’, you must first FRENCH braid before braiding regularly to keep it tightly pulled:

My sister Jennifer’s husband, Boyd, is from the west side of Newfoundland, and he inherited an old family farm there, (in whose orchard he proposed over a decade ago).  They, like us, are turning the farm into a renovated cozy home – for them, their summer home only- and Jennifer asked Mom to please BRAID her a rug with her bright ‘newfie’ colours.  Jen and I are lucky enough to both have a number of Mom’s beautifully-designed and custom-requested-coloured loom-woven rugs scattered about our homes, but Jennifer wanted a good braided one.    I had one of my great-grandmother’s making for years, until after all my travels with it, it essentially dilapidated beyond repair.  But Jennifer had never had a hand-made one.  If you have been faithfully reading this blog since before Christmas, you’ll have seen Mom/Joy at work on this particular rug, which she finished a few weeks ago:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

She and Jennifer chose most of those fabrics from 2nd hand stores in St. John’s when Mom was last out there in the fall, so none of them are sentimental or familial, as described in the poem above.  But they DO match the colour scheme Jennifer requested, and they are of various textures and material, so it was quite a challenge for Mom.  Jennifer ALSO requested that it be neither circular NOR oval – ??? so THAT was another challenge with which Mom had to try and contend, cutting out the middle part several times in order to shape it to those specifications.  Here is the lovely, cozy result, and I’m sure Jennifer and Boyd will enjoy it, as well as son Sydney, for many decades to come, as it is equally the same on one side as the other (the real trick in making a braided rug from rags!).  I ‘made’ Joy get in her jammies and ‘sleep’ on the rug, as a special photo for Sydney to show him that we want to think of him enjoying it the same way in his cozy farmhouse.  We did NOT specifically plan for the model to ‘match’ the colours of the rug, but she does indeed!

I guess she felt badly for us, or just enjoyed making this one so much, that she has then offered to do one for Richard’s and my own ‘meeting room’, as we call our livingroom-cum-diningroom-cum- musicroom-cum-communitymeeting room! (It’s held 18 people around the fireplace at one meeting!)  This one has fabrics she and I picked out to go with the earthenware dishes (my ‘good’ set) I so love -the Nut-tree Franciscan.

nut-tree-franciscan

She’s already got a good start on this, although I hope it doesn’t keep her indoors too much as the warmer weather begins to settle upon us!  Here are the beginnings, and I did ask for an oval shape, so hopefully it won’t be such a challenge for her:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here are just a fraction of the various fabrics we’ve chosen, from which she may then apply her artistic skills in co-ordinating each long braid:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All but one of these were purchased by the bagful, or at least armful, at 2nd hand stores and charity shops.  The one piece that WASN’T, Mom picked out herself and I thought it had too much white in it, so she promptly went and tea-dyed it and now it’s much less ‘flashy’.  Good old primitive technique I use all the time for my prim-dollies and stuffed animals, (and even my mother’s bridal veil when I also wore it in 1988)  but I didn’t expect Mom to just run to the sink and do this on the only brand-NEW piece of material! Yay, Joy!

When I braided my small rugs with the wool blankets, I used the good old homesteader’s bible that’s been in our home since the  1970s when it was first published – the Reader’s Digest’s BACK TO BASICS “A Practical Guide to Old-fashioned Self-Sufficiency”.

However, Mom was guided more by several online sites, and then just trial and error experimentation.  Here are a few links if you’re interested in doing this fairly simple technique for having a rug that could incorporate either your chosen room/accent colours OR some sentimental pieces of clothing from loved ones – OR both…

http://pioneerthinking.com/learning-how-to-make-braided-rugs

http://www.littlehouseliving.com/how-to-make-rag-rugs

http://inhabitat.com/diy-learn-how-to-make-a-beautiful-braided-rug-from-old-fabric/

Life is always spiraling around us.  Why not boldly say so with something you see each day, and have it add comfort and cheer to your room as well?

sprial poem

And P.S. – watch for an upcoming link to all of Joy’s fibre artwork, with photos of her in situ,  in the spring/summer edition of Created Here, a New Brunswick online magazine!

RISE: the Risings of Yeast, and Yeats and Yeshua

I love the verb “to rise”.  It harbours such an Easter, springlike connotation.  Unless it’s used in the context of Richard trying to get a rise out of me, (which he likes to do multiple times in a day) this is also a beautiful NOUN, especially when used in conjunction with words like “Sunrise” or “Moonrise”.  Aren’t those lovely and romantic words?

sun, moon

When I stepped into the mysterious gloaming Monday night, after yet another dance rehearsal at the little New Denmark rec centre with ‘the tiara club’ (see last week’s post), the moon was just poking out over the tree line. As I drove the three miles home, the so-called “Pink Moon” (named after pink flowers called wild ground phlox, which bloom in early spring, the ‘pink moon’ is the first full moon of springtime in the Northern Hemisphere) rose very quickly in the sky, and I couldn’t take my eyes off it the whole way home. Good thing our road is so quiet there wasn’t another car on it!

We are down to less than 40 percent of the snow we’ve had all winter, now, thanks to a few good rainfalls and one day of actual double digits -with sun!  We now hear some songbirds, not just crows.  And, this morning, as I sat eating my homemade pancakes with our own fresh maple syrup from weeks of Richard’s toil’n’boil, I had to open the top of the Dutch door that Richard made last fall (see posting from Sept. 16th entitled The Dutch Door Diva, if you missed the construction of this beloved kitchen feature)  and listen to the ‘rise’ and swell of jubilant bird song in the air.

pancakes, syrup
my breakfast this morning, with top of door open to hear birds

As I bake bread, nearly every 2nd day, the word “Rise” is especially important to me. I’ve discovered that, as I’d once thought in my 20s when I used to regularly bake bread, the amount of rise is NOT as important, especially if you like to eat toast and sandwiches as we do.  You don’t have to ‘cater’ to the yeast as much as you might think, although it SHOULD be warm water it dissolves in, and a sprinkling of sugar will help excite it further! But if the bread rises TOO much over the loaf pans, you’ll not be able to cut it as easily, nor to fit it into the toaster!  Thus, I try for a good ‘first’ rise, and just a quick one after the initial punch-down.  (Of course this also depends on the amount of white/vs.wholewheat flour I’m using. This past week I ran out of white, and as Richard and I hate JUST plain whole wheat, I zested the bread up with some cardamon, parsley, thyme and oregano. I didn’t put it in a loaf pan, either, just made it in a circle on the baking sheet and let it rise a bit there. Try it, it was fabulous!)  As the sale at the rec centre last Saturday morning was my (Rustic Revivals’) first one in this province, I made a lot of Easter-oriented and spring items. And one of the ones of which I’m most proud is the following cushion which I stitched by hand from a flour sack. I  then stencilled a double meaning on to the thick linen, so that it could be for general use, or as a special Easter gift.  It didn’t sell at the sale, so I can enjoy it further, I guess.

rise1

For readers in Ontario, there is a wonderful group around the Toronto area called “R.I.S.E.” which a few theatre-grad friends of mine have volunteered with in the past:  “Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere (RISE) is a community led by youth, comprised of artists, activists, free-thinkers and revolutionaries. Together, they help to create a safe and welcoming platform for self-expression and healing through the performance arts.” This is, of course, ‘right up my alley’ – but since I’m now living out here in ‘boonesville’, where my heart is, I am trying to do what I can.  As discussed last week when revealing the small amount of young people’s performance art (ie: “The Tiara Club”) that I’m working with here in this small rural community, the sense of being close to nature and the “rustique” of our agricultural history is important here, and that’s one of the things I love about being in the mountains.  Local photographer Tiffany Christensen blends my two passions frequently in her work.  Nature and Rustic. Love it!

As presented in last week’s blog …”Purty Pals and Gingham Gals”, Tiffany will ‘rise’ to any occasion and is being especially helpful as we move forward to the Founder’s Day celebrations this year here in this peaceful valley.  And her last name, while being both indicative of the many Danish names in the community AND the true meaning of Easter is a happy circumstance at the time of this writing.  “Risen” is even there in her name!

risen

The above is the 3rd tobacco slat cross I’ve made from the weathered sticks I was offered from my Ontario cousins, Pete and Linda Baxter, when they were moving from their own farm.  I am so pleased Richard agreed to let me bring so much of this wood with us out here, and two of these crosses have now fittingly, I think, gone to Reverend Diane of Carlisle, ON and Pastor Ralph, of New Denmark, N.B.

Of course when you mention “Easter” and “Rise” in the same sentence, it isn’t always a positive thing. Christ died for our sins, true, and then rose to live forever in us, for us.  But sometimes, sadly, it is just about death. Period.  As we do not have television here, we enjoy a wonderful BBC feed through various online sources, which we then project to Richard’s large screen.   One of my favourite British serials is Lark RISE to Candleford.  If you haven’t seen it, but are a fan of period costume drama, find a way to view the whole series.  (available at many libraries, and also, in part, online – or you could buy the box set!) However, I have recently become enamored with the u.k. version (original one!) of “Who Do You Think You Are”?  I do NOT consider this a ‘reality show’, so please don’t suggest it is! I find it a stimulating way to learn history.  Watching it  led to the revealing of several of our favourite Irish performers’ ancestors such as Brendan O’Carroll (the hilarious Mrs. Brown of ‘Mrs. Brown’s Boys) being involved in the Easter Risings of 1916, and I was thus motivated to read and study more about that particular unrest.  Yeats’ poem “Easter: 1916” ends so solemnly, despite the green of  the Emerald Isle and the new spring:  “Now and in time to be, Wherever green is worn, Are changed, changed utterly:  A terrible beauty is born”.

Then, this week of course was yet another 100th anniversary – that of Vimy Ridge, which also took place originally over Easter weekend.  Mom/Joy was especially interested in this as her great-uncle died there, and I was pleased that CBC did a live stream which she could also enjoy from her laptop computer.  So, Easter is about rising, but also about the fallen.   However,  just as the Canadians were important ‘rising’ to the top of Vimy Ridge a century ago, so are our Canadians poignant in their passion for standing up for what is right in all things crucial to the survival of man-kind:

(Rise up, Rise up) Oh rise and show your power,
(Rise up, Rise up) We're dancing into the sun
(Rise up, Rise up) It's time for celebration
(Rise up, Rise up) Spirits' time has come...
...Talkin 'bout the right time to be workin' for peace,
Wantin' all the tension in the world to ease.
                            - by Canadian band, Parachute Club

 I love those lyrics, and while I’ve hardly been considered a pop-music fan, the late 1970s and early 1980s WERE about the only time when I listened to such music. Those words have always stayed with me (as well as the ‘catchy’ tune to which they were sung).  And now that Trumpty Dumbty is tumbling from his wall, I believe we must indeed work harder than ever for peace.  And, as spring is here, we must ‘dance into the sun’, as it’s ‘time for celebration’.  I tried hard, at my Rustic Revivals’ booth last week, to make a ‘new’ and ‘springlike’ impression:
booth,table, 2017, n.b.

I put more colour (light pastels) into my pieces than ever before, and tried to think of inspirational/springlike words for salvaged pieces of wood (‘dream’ is painted on an old dove-tailed drawer-piece, and the rusty flower on the ‘bloom’ sign is an old car part I found along the side of the road and banged into that shape).

As for the Easter wreath (bottom left of the ‘booth’ pic above), as well as having a barnboard cross on it, I also added some pastel colour with some recycled craft pieces (ie: bird’s nest with ‘eggs’, sign with ‘hope’ and some baby chicks, etc) .  Furthermore, I also did several pieces in actual COLOUR (totally new to the Rustic Revivals’ precedent!)

colour signs

The only colour I could say I’ve really put on to any project before now was my salvage art LOVE sign, which I’ve always thought was fun:

LOVE turq.

And I’m especially proud of the ‘new’ spindle and finial ornaments (candle holders glued together from pieces given me by former choir mate, Ron, so thus ‘salvaged’, though he bought them new for his own projects and never used them).  They again make me think of ‘rise’, as I’ve had to glue both the ornaments and the candleholders into twos and threes to make them higher, before painting them with the two colours necessary for ‘crackling’ and distressing. (You need an acrylic undercoat, usually darker, then the ‘crackle’ mix, which you CAN make yourself, before adding the final coat.) These add that pastel colour to the spring line, pastels of course replicating the colours of spring flowers and birds’ eggs in nests.

Did any Rustic Revivals’ followers ever think they’d see so much colour mixed in to my shabby chic and primitive concepts?  (The rusty hearts were cut from old rusty paint can lids found on this very farm!)  But it IS spring!

And speaking of birds, bird song, and bird houses/nests, I did several of them as well, and the primitive ‘willow’ tree did sell, though not the others, I was sorry to say. Especially since Richard put so much effort into the design and building of these two wonderful houses, also made from my Baxter cousins’ barnboard.

And, we couldn’t really have an Easter show without SOME semblance of bunnies, chicks and lambs, so here they are:

While all of the above are made entirely from salvage items, scraps or from nature itself, I AM proud that they are newly-made or upcycled for this year’s ‘spring’, despite having many other spring items (even MADE from rusty springs from a sleigh’s old seat, for instance!) and including fishing and canoeing-themed items, gardening items, etc.  All ‘springy’.  But, when examining again the true meaning of Easter, I was happy to put a little folk-art New Denmark scene with the two landmark churches on top of the next hill-top.  Both churches have crosses on top of them in real life, and both have them painted on as well. This was done on a small cutting board of Mom/Joy’s that she wanted to dispose of.  This is only half the board:

close-up, n.d. folk art

This scene depicts the ploughing, planting and cheerful green-growth that happens around the farms in the early spring.  As you  may have read in my post “Blue Belldon Basement Grow Op.” several weeks ago, things were planted down there that are now beginning to ‘rise’ as well!

sprouts, 2017

And also, chosen to add cheeriness to my kitchen window, and almost perpetually NOT blooming, even my red geranium has decided to ‘rise’ to the occasion of SPRING!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thus, as my father used to joyously quote (in an Ogden Nash burst of silliness, though it is NOT written by that poet) :

"Spring is Sprung,
The grass is RIZ -
I wonder where 
The birdies is? "             

or, of a less silly subject matter, is George Herbert's "Easter".

Easter –

Rise heart: thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Without delayes,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise:
That, as his death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The crosse taught all wood to resound his name,
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.

Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
Pleasant and long:
Or since all music is but three parts vied
And multiplied;
O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.

I got me flowers to straw thy way;
I got me boughs off many a tree:
But thou wast up by break of day,
And brought’st thy sweets along with thee.

The sunne arising in the East,
Though he give light, & th’East perfume;
If they should offer to contest
With thy arising, they presume.

Can there be any day but this,
Though many sunnes to shine endeavour?
We count three hundred, but we misse:
There is but one, and that one ever.

A coffee can I decorated for Spring, with neighbours’ hydrangea flowers dried inside. To left are two of the tobacco slat crosses and two right, another popular cross around here – the New Denmark flag painted on a light switch plate.  Both left and right sold, the coffee can remains as 1 in a set of Primitive Three.  HAPPY EASTER!

coffeeecan

One of six shabby chic frames I distressed and crackled for the Easter show. Some are peg-boards with chicken wire, but sold two of these blackboards.  Happy Easter!  R I S E  !!!!

3

Hill-billy Hootenanny: Purty Pals & Gingham Gals

Take Dorothy out of Kansas, stick her in a fantasy world where she meets fairy god-mothers with crowns and magic wands and high-heeled slippers… and whaddaya got?  You’ve still got ginghamized Dorothy, bless her, headin’ back to Kansas- just a little older and wiser.  “There’s NO PLACE LIKE HOME”…

 

Here in the Appalachians, you send a tomboy, “Chip”, (me, see below, age 10 and 14)  to a new place, and she’s confronted with crowns and high heels and told she’s expected to help organize a bunch of princesses, and she’s in a tail spin… but guess what? The mail lady (Glinda the Good Witch?) knows everybody, waves her magic wand, steps in with her ruby shoes and all is well… turns out those princesses are just good ole country girls like Chip herself!  The tricky bit’s gonna be getting them OUT of Kansas!

tomboy Julie

Apparently Queens’ Pageants (formerly ‘beauty pageants’ but no longer quite so exploitative of women) are popular in every single town in New Brunswick.  The crowned gals are even EXPECTED to wear their tiaras and sashes to school the following day, and actually aren’t laughed out of the building, either! (Having taught in 4 rather rough schools in 3 different countries, I find this VERY difficult to come to terms with, but apparently it’s common practice and just as accepted as one of my 12-year-old students carrying an ankle knife to school in inner city Leeds, U.K. or my 15-year-old pupil breast-feeding her baby in my English class ‘on the rez’ in Browning, Montana!)

I’ve often been surrounded by lovely young women while teaching in Canada and abroad.  Some of the girls I’ve had the pleasure of working with onstage have even gone on to become actresses/models/singers and strong professionals who use some of the public-speaking and debate skills I helped them work on in their high-school days. However, this pageant thing is a very new concept to me.

with grads

(above, some of the lovely young ladies to whom I taught Drama and coached in a variety of musicals, ‘on the rez’ in Browning, Montana – please note, the above were NOT the same students who breast-fed their babes in class!)

For those girls, and some of the others I’m so proud of, I made a banner last year on International Girls’ Day, (although they are no longer ‘girls’, but very strong and talented  women now, and can all be seen or heard in public forums in one way or another).

girls' day

above, some of my beautiful former students – from the USA, the U.K., and yes, Canada, too!

However, none of those girls are really the tiara-wearing types, either.  Up until a month or so ago I was feeling very much ‘out of my element’!

New Denmark is a wonderfully-close-knit community, as you’ll know from reading some of my previous blog postings.  It’s not just a mountain area where everyone pitches in and helps each other and attends church, dances, games’ nights, luncheons, etc. on a weekly basis – it’s got the additional distinction of being the largest AND oldest Danish community in Canada, and is thus rooted in tradition.  Founder’s Day in New Denmark has always been an important celebration, and until recent years was an annual event.  The little rural museum just up the road from us is a Provincial Historical Site, as “Immigrant House”, where the majority of settlers stayed in 1872 before being granted their land, was on that corner. There’s a great video posted online about the Centennial Parade from 1972, which I just love watching! It’s so dear and even, now, familiar! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAvS-3M78rQ

This year, by accident (I was meant to be going to a meeting of the historical committee and ended up at the 145th planning committee meeting instead!) I am helping organize the Founder’s Day activities, and thus you’ll see lots more photos from this fun event later in June. It’s held around the 19th of that month every 5 years now, because that’s when the first ship with the majority of Danes landed here.  One of the events is a big parade from near our farm, at the rural museum corner, up the hill past the church and on to the little rural ‘rec centre’.  And what’s a parade without a bevy of beautiful young ladies waving their delicate hands and straightening their tiaras on a floral-decorated float?    Here’s a screen shot  with their centennial year’s Queen and Princess, 1972:

Untitled

About the only thing I’m familiar with in that picture is the TRUCK.  But I digress… Having heard rumours (I guess) that I was a former Drama teacher – and NOT having heard rumours that I was a tomboy who despised cutesy, demure women, frivolous ball-gowns, high heels, and anything superficial or commercialized, a former director of the Founder’s Day planning committee pointed his over-large finger at me at the very first meeting and delegated me in charge of the pageant.  Luckily for me, Mary Beth the Mail-lady (secretary of no less than FOUR committees in this small “happenin’ ” place!) immediately stepped in and organized a bunch of people who knew a lot more about pageants than I EVER will, to help!  Mary Beth has ordered the tiaras, too, so thank God that’s out of my hands, as they’d have ended up with Stetsons or dressage top hats!  (We suspect M.B. ordered the extra one so she can be seen driving about the hills and dales delivering her letters and feeling “special” ).

marybeth

Another lucky thing: ’twas Mary Beth herself who said “why don’t we just make the theme ‘COUNTRY’ this year?  Well, ole Chip of Rustic Revivals can do THAT!  And it ties right in with our enormously talented photographer, a former New Denmark pageant gal herself, Miss Tiffany Christensen.  As I’ve organized and decorated so many rustic weddings and events in my rural-based businesses, so has Tiffany taken plenty of rustic and rural-based photography, because it’s not only what we see and live out here, it’s ALSO become a world-wide fad even for those who’ve never set foot in a barn or old klunker of a pick-up truck before!  (On Saturday, my Rustic Revivals was at our first N.B. craft sale, right at the little rec centre where the pageant will take place, and had some of the best attention ever, because folks in the mountains ‘get’ primitives, and several custom orders are coming in also for yet more ‘Burlap Bags’, ((as Richard calls me)) creations.  I’ll be doing a special Easter blog with my latest line next week.)

Thus, Tiffany and I have both been involved in promoting the beauty and history of the rural landscapes around us.  Here’s a lovely photo she took recently, and she’ll be doing a number like this for the pageant girls, as they are to have a ‘spa and photography day’ together in May.

8

You can see the rural and rustic trend that is so popular now for both weddings AND grads/proms, etc, so why not in our own rural pageant?   (Excuse the blurriness of the following – this is obviously not in Tiffany’s originals, but my ad program isn’t always in love with the wordpress one!  Isn’t her logo neat?  Look how the camera is subtly wrapped into her initials!  And the natural leaves/sheaves represent the countryside we love!)

10

As Rustic Revivals  has also now debuted locally (after 7 years of ‘touring’ the back roads of Montana, Yorkshire, Aberdeenshire and Ontario!), we realize the mountains here in Appalachia are just the right spot for us!  Although online selling isn’t to be ruled out :

http://www.etsy.com/shop/rusticrevivals

15

And RURAL Revivals, (its sister company), as special rural events organizer and country-themed decorator/interior designer (  http://www.facebook.com/rural.revivals

and

http://www.rusticrevivals.wixsite.com/ruralrevivals  ) will also be comfortably-based and definitely using Miss Christensen for all events photography and official before-and-after shots of our specialty rooms with shabby chic/’country’/French Provincial/ ‘cabin’  make-overs (if you haven’t yet viewed my own crappy before and after photos, see previous posts on renos).  Former campaigns which have included us in newspapers and on television have resulted in less attention than in just having the good readers of this blog spread the word…

…so I’m hoping that those of you who are in New Brunswick or who have the money to fly her out to you, will consider using Tiffany Christensen as YOUR official photographer as well!

Of course she doesn’t just take portraits in rural settings; have a look at all her lovely work on her FB page:

http://www.facebook.com/TiffanyChristensenPhotography

I tried 3 times to catch the magic of the hoar frost on the mountainsides, for instance, this winter, and failed spectacularly, but Tiffany has a real talent:

9

She was also able to capture the stunning autumnal colours here better than I!

9

Having said that, I’m not a COMPLETE amateur when it comes to pretty country girls posing for the camera.  Last spring, nearly a year ago, in fact, a gorgeous former riding student from Scotland came for a visit to Ontario and wanted the ‘typical’ Dukes of Hazzard/’Western’-and hill-billy-style pics. So, I introduced her to my native friend and her teepee,another former riding student and her horse, Richard’s ’73 Nova for that Dukes of Hazzard effect and also, of course -his moonshine jug. Then I got my camera out. Here’s a slideshow for fun:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I also loaded up all my rustic decor and we spent an all-afternoon photo-shoot with some work that I’m pretty proud of, and she SHOULD be as well:

13226813_10153437957941782_1869555052900942253_n

5
The ‘other type of riding’…

While I wouldn’t suppose to be as good as Tiffany, and while it DID take us about 50 photos just to get one good one, I am rather proud of the above.  Now, someday, especially with the gorgeous gals we have in this year’s pageant as models, Tiffany might even have a front cover for some real fashion mags.  I do like to think that ours could have just as easily been on a Vogue special issue:

4

And, funnily enough, here she is even posing as a MaryBeth !

2

That’s right, I’ve worn many hats in my time, in many different places around the world… Off-stage, On-stage, Mounted, UnMounted, in various positions for the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of Education etc.  Mom/Joy even thinks that should be the title of my autobiography.  Either that, or she’s suggested “The Many Beds in Which I’ve Slept”?  I keep telling her that just makes me sound like a slut…

HOWEVER, AS MANY HATS AS I’VE WORN, I’VE NEVER WORN A TIARA!

julie's many hats

 

The pageant girls, and I won’t name them here, are all eager, however, to be dubbed “Queen”, or at least “Princess”, despite them being very much Appalachian Country girls in their own right.  One of them is line-dancing for her talent, and another even asked if she could ride her DIRT BIKE for her talent portion!  So I’m no longer worried about dealing with the demure, prissy type – these young ladies are up for anything!  Ironically, not only has the group dance which I’m choreographing morphed into a hill-billy dance in barefeet (and I was a chorus dancer in L’il Abner onstage in barefeet forty years ago!) but the other talents a few of the girls wish to show-case are Poetry Reading and doing a Monologue.  With NO suggestions even, by me, an English/Drama teacher, with published poetry and an award on her wall for doing Dramatic Monologues!  Well, really, since MaryBeth rounded up all this extra help for me to have the promenades, turns, waves and poise stuff looked after, I can do this! Who’d have thought this pageant gig would end up being so close to my own propensities  (ie: rustic decorating, slopping out verse, projecting loudly, and strutting about in patched clothes with a heavy emphasis on my heels… Yeeeee-haaaw!)

By the way, speaking of all-things-hill-billy:  In regard to this week’s title, did you know a ‘hootenanny’ is actually a SCOTTISH word, which should please Mom/Joy?  According to Wikipedia, it is simply “a Scottish word meaning ‘party’ or ‘celebration’. With the Scots being one of the biggest groups of settlers in the Appalachian region (bringing with them their whisky-making tradition and methods, leading to the area’s moon-shining tradition) it is not surprising that hootenanny became an Appalachian colloquialism. ”     Besides I like it better than ‘hoedown’, although that is an equally pleasant-sounding alliteration to match with ‘hill-billy’. It’s just that ‘hoe-down’ will likely be needed in future titles to represent our extensive gardening, which is a must when living self-sufficiently!

Every Monday night we are in rehearsal now with the girls.  Chantal, one of the moms, a MaryBeth recruit to our committee, and herself a participant in numerous provincial pageants (“but that was HOW many years ago?” her daughter piped up last night) is an invaluable wealth of info. for both me and the young ladies, as she is instructing them in poised walking with books on heads, and my old Tickle Trunk petticoats on their lower half to aid in twirls and turns.  Even with ‘cammo’ and baseball hats, Chantal can get these ladies to SPIN!

 

chantal 1

(above, note the Danish ‘welcome’ in our church basement:  “Velkommen” – it’s seen in every public building here in the community, and the Danish flag, on Mary Beth’s cartoon mailbox and picket fence, is seen flying on at least every other farm!  Also, please note that while I have permission to publicly post these photos of the pageant gals, I am not going to name them, as a respect to their underage privacy!)

I also asked Chantal to please choreograph the girls’ initial ‘promenade’ in their casual clothes (which they are piecing together with only $10.00 from second-hand and rummage sales, don’t you think that’s a wonderful tradition?) and also their ball-gown finale, when they will be escorted on to the stage by two little 7 year old boys dressed in flannel shirts and wearing cow-boy hats and boots to keep in line with our ‘Down-Home Country’ theme.  I can’t wait to see that!

Here are some photos I took last night of Chantal rehearsing the girls in high heels to prepare for their intro-dance, which will be to Shania Twain’s “Man, I Feel Like a Woman” (’cause I wanted to have only women singers, we needed country songs for the theme, and we DEFINITELY needed a Canadian!)  As always, please click on each photo to blow up and read the captions:

To give their poor tootsies a break from the high-heels they aren’t all used to wearing (and certainly not dancing in!) we next went to my ‘group dance’, a bit of a production into which I’ve of course introduced a touch of ‘drama’ (bit of business at the beginning).  Here’s another big irony:  those poor girls, who are country/mountain gals at heart, have to learn to walk gracefully and to show off their feminine wiles one minute, switch to being what many of them (like me) would rather walk like – a relaxed mountain-girl hill-billy in bare feet, and then throw on a ball-gown and go back to that poised, tall, no-slouching grace again.  It’s really going to be an amazing challenge for them!

Here are some of last night’s rehearsal for the group dance, which will be to Lisa McHugh’s ‘Hill-billy Girl’ – but I dislike her line-dance to the same, and as one of our girls is doing a line-dance for her ‘talent portion’ (she goes for lessons every week with her grandfather, but he declined doing it in the pageant with her!) I’m putting in my own choreography.  (Though my back has been much better since the 3rd surgery in 2008, the knees, since the last crashing somersault fall off Junior in 2004 are progressively worse with osteo-arthritis.  Since they won’t do knee surgeries now until we hit age 60, and because I refuse to let the pain take away ALL my activity levels, I ‘strap up’! ) Click on any of the below to enlarge and read the captions:

Within the Hillbilly Girl dance there are two instrumental bits and I’ve planned a ‘showcase’ of each girl’s gymnastic talent aka “hillbilly jumps and kicks” to add some excitement… Here’s one from last week’s rehearsal, with faithful Tiffany taking photo:

kick

Lastly, the girls put their high-heels back on to practice their more formal ball-gown finale. Chantal is playing the part of the little 7 year-old boys, as she escorts each to the stage and instructs them on their ‘turns’. They will then be asked a question on their thoughts or beliefs on a certain subject, by the M.C., prior to the judges making their final decisions.  Here’s each of the lovely girls as they come down the aisle to Jessica Andrews’ ‘Who I Am’ (Rosemary’s Grand-daughter).  And one of them actually IS a Rosemary’s grand-daughter, too!  I suggested that her grandmother would LOVE this song, then. However, we were informed that Rosemary was quote/unquote ‘unable to attend’.  We said ‘oh, that’s too bad, why not?’.    ‘Wal, ’cause she’s dead’ was the drawled response.

 

By the way, when you see very ripped jeans (above) please note that these are not being worn in preparation for the Hill-billy Girl dance with me.  For those of you not as ‘hip’ as I am to the modern fashion (the very use of the term ‘hip’ proves this is entirely tongue-in-cheek) these are the designer pants that cost so much nowadays, and another bit of irony is that the girls are going to be buying their ‘casual wear’ for the pageant at rummage sales for under $10.00, and likely (because their grandparents won’t approve) leaving these jeans at home!

Thus, the ironies of my life in the Appalachians continues.  Just when you think something is being introduced into your life which you just can’t come to grips with, you take off your shoes, your bare feet help you get sticky purchase, and there you are.  You’ve come to grips!

Kick off them ruby slippers, Dorothy.  You’re back on the farm, baby.

ruralrevivals pic

Funnily enough, the above “Find Your Style” meme is at the top of our Rural Revivals’ website: http://www.rusticrevivals.wixsite.com/ruralrevivals   and is not only what the girls are considering wearing for their group dance, but the ‘find your style’ motto is how they are being told to go find their rummage sale casual outfits for both their Princess tea and their Introductory walk onstage the night of the pageant!  So maybe I DO know more about this than I at first thought!

 

 

 

 

How much chuck could a woodchuck chuck?

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

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

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

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

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
our wood furnace, kept burning day and night!

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

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

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

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

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

radiators

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

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

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

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

2

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

 

 

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

10 Days in Late November

In just 10 days we have gone from this… (playing outside and cutting trails in the bush to be ready for cutting wood this winter)

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

…To T H I S  !   Gorgeous!  Sending along some of the best of our very Christmassy-spirited mountain home to those of you without the fluffy wet white stuff…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The hoar frost on the deciduous trees on top of the mountains the other day was stunning! Naturally, the photos don’t do the scene justice, and I never did get a shot when the sun was out and it was sparkling like a million fairies blowing their dusty kisses through the dancing branches…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Smitty (and I!) were very excited by all the clean Christmassy climate. Smitty immediately wanted  to go for a drive through the hills and forests…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Richard (and Mom) weren’t QUITE as thrilled.  (Richard lost his primary black toque somewhere in the first snowfall.  He is now seen wearing one of mine that I had (with matching scarf and mittens) when I was just 13 years of age!  That’s exactly 40 years ago, folks!  Ain’t he cute?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And then there is Simba, who finds any sunny quilted place and crawls under… Talk about avoidance and denial!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The night skies have been absolutely stunning, as some of you may have seen on Facebook postings I’ve managed to do here and there:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And I’ve now managed to get most of the outdoor Christmas decorations up.  I’ve been trying to build a snowman out front to greet passers-by, but between time being an issue, and my bad back and knee, only a small mound has accumulated. I’ve found the snow is actually TOO wet and heavy, also. Needs a bit more fluff on which to roll it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our Rasmussen Brook behind the farm is still running beautifully down hill into “The Outlet” (a narrow river that runs perpendicular to our Blue Bell Road).  It goes through our woods and we plan to build one or two eco-friendly tiny homes on its edge for guests to try living in mud/straw/log/earth cabins.  Wouldn’t a Christmas weekend back there, with cross-country skiing, or skating or tobogganing be a delightful respite from your busy lives?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

brook

Since we’re feeling so Christmassy – and hopefully you’re more in the mood now, too – today (Nov. 30) is the last day of the Folk Art and Primitives Holiday Cyber-sale.  Buy LOCAL! (not imported/box-store/corporate CRAP!) Buy ORIGINAL!  (not something copied 100s of times, and then regurgitated, esp. by China or India,) Buy SECOND-HAND, VINTAGE OR HANDMADE!  (sooooooooo much better for the environment, and your pocket-book!)    Follow the easy instructions below to purchase my own- Rustic Revivals- or my FAAP team-mates’ quaint, cute country items for decorating for YOUR special holidays, or to give year-round and long-lasting gifts of a Cozy Country Christmas!

last-day

https://www.facebook.com/groups/776266159059895/

Here are some of my own, and my team-mates’ works that may intrigue you.  They aren’t ALL holiday-related in the shop – many are just lovely folk-art or primitive year-rounds that would make terrific gifts.  Click on any of these to make them larger.

 

In a few weeks, expect more Christmassy scenes – this time INDOORS, and with many more of my own Rustic Revivals’ (  https://www.etsy.com/shop/rusticrevivals  )

old-fashioned and salvaged/natural eco-friendly touches as we countdown to Christmas with Richard’s family coming up ‘from the south’ once again.  Because I didn’t get as much help as I’d have liked with the orchard and garden this harvest (Richard now realizes it’s crucial to pitch in more next year, so our food lasts longer throughout the winter and next spring!) we have a LOT of crab-apples still on branches, of varying sizes, which will be brought in for decorating.  We also have rose-hips on several bushes, and if you don’t know the wonders of rose-hips, do look it up, or wait until I post next time, when I’ll also be sharing some more about apple cider vinegar, since I just bottled ours this week.  Here’s a preview photo of the rose-hips – won’t they be nice for decorating, too?  Hope you all have some gentle snow to get you feeling happy and generous for the season of GIVING and LOVE.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Rose-hips and view, as seen from my bedside window!

 

 

 

 

… That Time Has Tried

i like old things, sepia.jpg

My grandmother (McKenzie) enjoyed framing and reframing things that touched her, made her nostalgic or happy. Every season or so, on different walls, a new item would pop up.  This was always one of my favourites. From an old tea-towel with calendar below, she cut off the top because she loved the old barn in winter (as do I – it reminds me a lot of the red barn her husband and I built together for my pony when I was 10!) and she loved the verse, which is of course what that whole side of the family thinks about “old things.”

“I like old things that time has tried

And proven strong and good and true

I like old things, they have a depth

Unknown by anything that’s new.”

Simple. Straight-to-the-point and exactly what my china-collecting, antique-refinishing, old-book-reading family has believed for many generations.  And I’m so glad this love of characterful items and buildings has been passed on to me.  However, when something CAN’T be genuinely antique or old, I’m not beyond having a good replica, to make me pretend the charm of the originals is within and about me.  And that’s the case for the lovely additions you’ll see next:

This week we got the 2nd piece-de-resistance of my Blue Belldon kitchen.  Twenty-five years ago, on my first farm, I had an 80-year-old cookstove brought in that I loved, but never got around to hooking it up due to the certification and repairs and insurance.  Plus, it was a monster, which is fine – if you have the room.  The kitchen at Blue Belldon is much smaller and thus needed what I remembered both the Elmira and Heartland companies offered: a small replicated model called “Sweet Heart”.  So, I’ve been keeping my eye open for a used one, and sure enough, just on the eve of a trip to Fredericton (2 hours away) there it was! It’s only about 30 years old and barely used.  And right in Fredericton!  So Richard and I both loved it at first sight, and bless him, he made a special trip down a few days later and brought it home.  It isn’t hooked up yet, but this time, once all the renos. behind it are complete, it DEFINITELY will be.  I enjoy baking my bread every 2nd day – but it will be heaven and TASTE like heaven, doing it on this new/old stove. (The photo to the right, taken 25 years ago, was on the front page of the Ottawa Citizen, just below a photo of Alanis Morissette… but that’s all a very long story indeed. You’ll have to pay extra for the facts behind THAT tale! )

Another “replica”, if you like, is the very trendy ‘barn door’.  In the summer, I found one in the barn that had been left by the original owners.  I needed a door to separate Mom/Joy’s upstairs from our downstairs living quarters, but I needed it to have a window to let light in to the darkest part of our pantry/hallway/mud-room.  So when I found this in the rafters, I was delighted.  Pulled it down myself and repainted the one side to match the kitchen ( “replicating” the chippy-paint so popular with shabby chic lovers at the moment, whereas the other side, in Mom’s entry, is actually REAL chippy paint, and likely LEAD paint – so I’ve left it alone for now. Will likely get it professionally refinished down to the bare wood at some point).  So, having that door installed in the kitchen pantry has made me pleased (a start at getting rid of the god-awful 1970s dark-stained hollow doors! that do NOT fit in to a country property! The upstairs -and the one I removed from there and put on our downstairs master bedroom, are lovely original old doors, but the downstairs was FULL of those 1970s things.)  But what about a door from the hallway into the living room?  There is no space for a door that opens, so we found the perfect solution again: a “barn door kit” at Kent Lumber!  Because Fixer-Upper-type shows have made this recently such a popular and trendy ( trendy? ME?) addition to houses of any type today, we lucked out.  Richard installed it, I stained it, and we think it looks great and is a feature! (Besides being handy to close for privacy for guests on our davenport, to keep heat in from the fireplace when we’re trying to be restful and cozy, and to keep dog and cat OFF the davenport during their sneaky night-time hours!) Click on each photo to make larger:

And lastly, Richard the wood-working wunderkind has finished the one side of the library shelves I wanted in the living room (other side of fireplace will be done similarly “in due course”, I’m told!)  to hold all my antique books and some of the pottery for our dining room (also in the living room) dishes.  Isn’t it marvelous?

built-in-lib-shelves
The built-in floor-to-ceiling library shelves Richard built for our living/dining room.

Here are some additional lovely shots from this past week. Be sure and see the bottom of the Thanksgiving Thermals post as well, for more from that particular lovely weekend of scenery and fellowship.

And lastly, for this week – now that a lot of the pressure of getting renos. done before fall visitors, and getting the harvest in, Richard’s catching some ‘zzzzzzzzzz’s on the chaise longue.  Remember what I said at the beginning:  “I LIKE old things that time has tried…”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA