Taber Talk

Sorry not to have written recently, folks. I had hoped my next blog post would be about the design and building of our new-to-look-old t.v. and equipment cabinet, which we are building to look like an old and much ‘distressed’ pie safe for the corner of our living room where Richard has just also completed the other library shelves (other side of the fireplace.)  However, this cabinet is taking much longer than was first thought, due to all manner of diversions, distractions, mismeasurements and general procrastinations. Not to mention the FOURTH major nor’easter that is blowing through here in the last 18 days, which makes it cold for Richard to be in the garage making intricate cuts with his icy fingertips and freezing toes (one which he claims he broke changing his pants and sticking his foot into an empty paint can – ah, the dangers of renovations!)

I am, however, a slightly superstitious believer in ‘signs’.  While wondering what to write about instead this week, I considered featuring Mom’s weaving again, as she has been hard at work on a small mat for a friend and another small one for beside our claw-foot tub, as my original one is getting firmly pasted to the lino, and is another reason I want to return to the original old floorboards in there at some point.  So I’ve taken a few photos of Mom on the loom, and we talked about Aunt Ila and Cousin Linda, both of whom have been weavers in the family as well.  Then I thought perhaps I would explain some of my barnboard designs (Rustic Revivals) which I’ve had some motivation to work on since we are having a July wedding here in the orchard (Richard’s niece) and I’m busy making signs and decor for that.  And as always, the barn board we brought from Ontario came from cousin Pete and Linda Baxter’s farm. (the same wood we used to make over the beam in our kitchen — see the bottom half of:

Or, perhaps I should write, for the second March in a row, about the ordering of our organic seeds in the wonderful brown paper packets, from Hawthorne Farm in Ontario?  Because we ordered a lot more this year, including about $100.00 worth of flowers and ornamentals to help decorate for the wedding (mostly in BLUES, for Blue Belldon, and purples and greens, as those are the wedding colours).  But then those flowers reminded me that Linda (formerly, and rather freakishly, of Hawthorn VALLEY Farm!) had brought me out some honeysuckle seeds from her own plants when she was here in September, which I have now put with the other packets to remind me not to forget them.  We also ordered two packets of ground cherries, which Linda introduced us to, and which we now LOVE!  Then, yesterday, as well as some painting for the wedding, the work on which I want to be mostly finished by mid-April, as that’s when we’ll be busy in the bush and with planting the seed tables in the basement, I was also painting plastic milk containers with dressage letters.  In May I have two competitive eventing riders coming for private training, and I’ll need to line the ‘ring’ ( the only slightly flat bit of land we have, out near the poplar line which slopes down to the brook).  One of the easiest ways to make a dressage ring is to paint the letters on white milk jugs. Of course we ALSO use these for taking water to the livestock all winter, AND to collect maple syrup, but we still have some left over that are in fairly pristine condition. So I painted 8 of them, after peeling off the labels with hot water.  The labels that of course say : “Baxter”.



And lastly, I just finished my murder mystery yesterday and picked up my next library book (mentioned in the last blog for International Women’s Week). This is The Stillmeadow Road, by Gladys Taber.  AS RECOMMENDED BY LINDA BAXTER IN SEPTEMBER!  Right, so that’s it!  Too many signs!  Everything I seem to be doing this week, or considering for blogging, seems to suggest Cousin Linda.  I don’t know why. These signs are rarely explained to us on this plane of existence, but I don’t like to ignore too many of them. Thus, I feel that I should include a bit about one of her favourite, most prolific “living off the land” authors here.


Gladys Taber wrote over 50 books about the simple life in New England, having moved from NYC to a derelict 1690s farmhouse just prior to the Great Depression.   These books all possessed homespun wisdom dolled out with earthy humor and an appreciation for the small things.  I see why Linda loves them now, being already half way through Stillmeadow Road.  Linda is very similar, and would write exactly the same were she to sit down and start typing! (Linda?)  And many of the same things that happened to Gladys and her family and friends are still happening here at Blue Belldon Farm, nearly a century later.  The very same issues that bother Gladys then are those that make me indignant and enraged now – rural development, clear-cutting of land, pollution, food waste, and mistreatment of wildlife and other animals.  While Gladys writes of these things with gentle Christian humility, I post my fury and passion re: these planetary problems daily, on Facebook.  Well, I mean, obviously Gladys’ tactics were too genteel – they haven’t seemed to have had impact on ‘the greedy powers’ 80 years on, so maybe it’s time to GET MAD.

I especially became so when I found out that nearly 20 years ago there was talk of tearing down the beautiful old 1690s farmhouse in which she’d lived and about which she’d written so many in the “Stillmeadow” series TO BUILD A STUPID TREELESS SUBURB!  Luckily, her granddaughter Anne Colby was living at Stillmeadow at the time, and rallied enough national and even international interest to STOP this development and instead to put the local farms into a Land Trust and Historic site. Thank GOD!~ (This wasn’t, however, finalized until just a few years ago!)

Alan Bisbort, of the New York Times, in 2001: Constance Taber Colby, who is a writer and a professor of English in New York, said of her famous mother: ”Gladys was one of the first to write about the dangers of uncontrolled development in Connecticut. If she were alive today, she would undoubtedly be finishing a book on land conservation.

”Her books clearly depict Stillmeadow and its world as symbolic of something larger than one family, one town: a way of life very precious and inevitably endangered.”

Somewhat prophetically, Gladys Taber wrote late in life about a zoning meeting she attended in Southbury. In it she concluded: ”It was a grim picture. Business was bound to come; light industries were already shopping for land. The quiet country farms were already going and developments would take over. . . . Eventually, of course, we will have to have some sort of plan to guide future development. Somehow we must protect the wooded hills, the greening meadows, the clean, sweet-running brooks and the historic white houses — are a precious heritage.”

Anne Colby said: ”I grew up running around over there. I was very lucky to have this place to come to when I was a kid. We want this to be an incentive for other landowners to look for creative options for saving their land.  Tools are available now that weren’t there five years ago. Ten years ago, we could not compete with the developers. For me, Connecticut’s remaining wild places are our sanctuaries, and we need sanctuaries now more than ever.”

Earlier this week Richard inadvertently put his foot in ‘it’, as he is often wont to do.  We were at choir practice in Perth-Andover, led by its beloved mayor, Marianne Tiessen Bell (of the Leamington, ON Tiessens, incidentally).  Richard said to Marianne “Getting ready for some flooding are you?”  This is NOT something you say to ANYONE who lives in and loves Perth-Andover.  But CERTAINLY NOT THE POOR MAYOR!

I wrote about this issue LAST spring, and about Marianne and editor Stephanie Kelly’s efforts to help battle both the fight for keeping historic buildings from damage or demolition AND their concern for the environment, especially as it so affects those living ‘down in the valley’ from  us.

Despite predictions of the Farmer’s Almanac, we seem to have had nearly the same amount of snowfall this year, and it seems to be lingering just as long through what others elsewhere are already calling ‘spring’.  This of course means danger of flooding.  It is sad, not just to see people’s businesses and homes destroyed, BUT to see some of the delightful old buildings that make one truly feel the history – almost as far back as Taber’s New England!  Tell me that these wonderful buildings don’t deserve to be saved, for instance:


But their close proximity to the river means that flooding doesn’t just happen once in a lifetime to them – but rather, many times. And the government isn’t as willing as they ought to be to step forward to assist! (what else is new?)  Having lived in the U.K. , it never fails to amaze me that we aren’t more keen to ‘list’ and maintain buildings of historic value and interest, as they do there, and with SO many more to do as well!  Isn’t it enough that the greed and mistreatment of our land is CAUSING so much of Mother Nature’s need to aggressively ‘fight back’?  But then, not to be able to step forward and say ‘This must be offered assistance?’  It’s just shameful.

Taber says (in numerous places) “I hate to think of the forests that have been laid waste down the years by ruthless cutting.  It takes years to grow a tall lovely tree and not long to chop it down…a tree is a symbol of life and a gift of nature.” Why do we not respect this gift?

And, about preserving historic buildings, she quotes the anonymous poem that I also ‘discovered’ in Concord, Mass., found inside a wall of a seventeenth-century home:

"He who loves an old house
Will never love in vain-
For how can any old house,
Used to sun and rain,
To larkspur and to lilac,
To arching trees above,
Fail to give its answer
To the heart that gives its love?"


But, really, if the object of this particular blog posting is not to lecture to those who rape the land, pave over the countryside, demolish old buildings and landmarks, but instead to introduce you to the simple cherished writings of a woman who loved nature, history and her small self-sufficient New England farm, then I should leave you with one of her more poetic quotations:



Thrice the Ice, Not As Nice!

In the last few weeks there've been
Several storms of freezing rain
Then the temps do plummet
'Til we're at minus 20 once again.

Thus, the ice will crystalize
And, by moonlight, looks unique.
On distant hills it sparkles...
But by day, it's not for meek.


No, the meek shall perish, certainly!
As down they go to break their bones
(This is why St. Peter's church
Has a pianist with different tones-

For Sonja, the organist there most oft
Fell and broke her wrist
And now ole Julie's called to play
All the hymns on Pastor's list!) 


Which would be fine, except Julie
Doesn't know one Lutheran song
Nor any of the liturgies
Tho' all TRY to sing along...

For, though Pastor favors Jesus Loves Me
He won't let her play just THAT
So she has to practice endlessly
With hymns that go too sharp, too flat

Although in Offering, and Communion too
There is room to play some Bach...
(And Rich has got some pop music
So Julie's Easter songs will ROCK!)


This piano fiasco's not the first
Of all the problems caused by ice
We've had layer after layer freeze-
Not once or twice but THRICE.

And thus, even where there's snow
(As deep as 3 feet here and there!)
We cannot ski, or take horse out-
Legs must be treated with more care!

No one wants bloodied ankles 
By falling through the ice
But likewise, even on the lanes-
Walking up and down ain't nice!


And every walkway, drive and road
Or parking lot in town
Is just as much an ice rink
And will quickly drop you DOWN.

You can't sand or salt or ash it
Or spread kitty litter 'round
You can't even CHIP it, though some try
As it's far too thick on ground!


The roads are just so slick
As we fishtail side to side
We often skid into the banks
Down Lucy's Gulch - a HORROR ride!

Cars in ditches EVERYWHERE
And this has been 3 weeks...
Never has a winter had 
So many sideways dekes!


Richard's fallen down four times
But Joy and Julie, with bad knees
And pins as well in Julie's back
Make sure they strap on THESE:


Useful but by no means sure
To get one A to B
Without a nasty fall or two
Housebound it's best to be

It's nasty for the critters too
And Smitty's had so many falls
(While we haven't grabbed HIS photo
This dog's got the same-type SPRAWLS:


Poor Chevy's got the worst of it
He's imprisoned through and through
He WANTS to work, or at least play
But a fall might break him true

A horse's legs are fragile
And he isn't shod with spikes
But Richard did snowblow a path
Where he could roll and buck and - YIKES!



They can of course go in or out
Into their wee paddock
But it isn't fun to stand around
For weeks on end. Joints LOCK!


So really now, we feel it's time
For spring to come and melt
This nasty ice and deepest snow
And sun warmth can be felt.

And Richard can drive Chevy 
To cut wood and tap the trees
And we can walk around the farm
With much more calm and ease

Instead of all this tension
Wond'ring where next should we step?
We WANT to move and exercise!
(Though we may not have Chev's pep!)


Limericks for Mr. Ricks

This week it’s time to ‘mix it up’ a bit with something NOT related to the year’s harvest or recipes or Regular Rural Updates… So, we’ll have a wee dip into Phonetics Phun and the Pharm.

Have been submitting a lot of  short-piece writings lately to various lit magazines, environmental journals, etc. One of the works I  spent some time on this year was a 14-page ‘limerick’ (or rather an extended poem) about a young girl in a fantasy world where conservation and communion with Nature are the norm. Each verse was in limerick form : a a bb a (with the two ‘b’ rhyme-lines shorter than the ‘a’ s). Thus, I thought I’d do a wholly entertaining post for my readers as well, but on a slightly different theme.

I’ve known -and know – a lot of Richards in my lifetime.  All the ones I shall mention have either a connection with Blue Belldon Farm and how I ended up here, or an appreciation of Nature, the Great Outdoors/Environment, or both: To start with my mother’s brother, ‘Richard’, the first Richard I ever met –

An uncle of mine of this name,
Helped an outdoor tree-house game
By telling his son
To join in the fun
Thus, a tree-hugger I became!

I also had  a great-uncle, Uncle Dick – He and Aunt Jessie both inspired me in various ways, she in the tomboy/outdoor hobbies, he in the creative theatrical hobbies – and both entertained constantly with their humour:

There once was a chappy named Dick
 Whose wife was a very choice pick 
She worked with wood
 Whenever she could
 Inspiration was surely their schtick!

As most children my age did, I loved Mary Poppins, and Dick Van Dyke’s speaking (in horrible Cockney!) to the penguins meant , to me, that he would help save them in real life too – just as he himself would be saved a half century later by other water animals in an amazing miracle:

Old Dick was eighty-four'd 
But went surfing on his board 
He fell asleep,
In oceans deep - 
Dolphins pushed him a-shored!

The next Richard of whom I was aware was the author of Watership Down, Mr. Richard Adams, a one-time president of Britain’s RSPCA, who just passed away last year. He and Thornton Burgess began my worrying that someday the animals would all be killed off , either by hunters or because their natural habitats were being taken over by idiot humans:

 He cared so much for each pet
 For a scratch, he'd call in the vet!
 The wildlife hopped
 Through his pages they popped.
 With concern, I'd continually fret...


wship down

An amazing young artist with whom I took art classes in high school and whose last name I can’t remember, began my  love of wildlife and landscape art, so that my appreciation for nature became even greater. His first name was Rick. (And I then went on to adore Robert Bateman’s nature paintings, especially since I found out Mom/Joy’s mother had taught school with him in Burlington for a time)…

The first Bateman on which I ever clapped eyes at my grandmother’s house – the DETAIL! You even see the page wire fence in front of the deer!


Rick's sketches of wildlife amazed
 He calmly drew, was not phased
 By the hustle around
 In a classroom of sound, 
He just penciled a doe as she grazed...

Richard Thomas, of The Walton’s fame, also made me lust after living a quiet, old-fashioned farm life in the mountains.  Most of my friends in England (where The Waltons was  even more popular !)  write and ask me how things are going here on Walton’s Mountain now… I didn’t have a crush on John-Boy, as many my age did. I wanted to BE John-Boy!  A writer who lived in a rural community in the rolling mountains…

John-Boy scribbled and edited his papers
 Calmed Cousin Corabeth's hysterical vapours
 Climbed up the hill
 Where his thoughts could be still
 And reflected on his family's capers!


The next Richard to influence me re: life in harmony with Nature and our countryside was a man I worked for one summer, Dickie Lamley.  I got a job working on the farm with ARC industries, where many mentally challenged ‘clients’ from my home town and area were privileged to feel purposeful.  We hoed rows of veg, planted fruit trees, built fencelines and harvested and sold at a roadside stand ACRES of gladioli (which by the way I despised even BEFORE I worked there!) .  Thirty-something Dickie was not only strikingly good-looking, but knowledgeable and sensitive  – a real Mr. Darcy type in all ways.  Very influential on all teen-age girls who worked for him in the 1970s!

 Be glad with gladioli, gals
 And help your less-lucky pals 
To pick and prop, 
Display their crop
And fence out deer with those corrals.

The next Richard is important to me for many reasons, and he has twisted in and out of my life, both himself and through 6 degrees of separation, for decades.  Richard Farnsworth has been a stuntman (mostly as a rider) since the 1930s, when my sweet friend Kay Linaker, the actress and screenwriter, was also starring in a variety of films.  Kay (aka Kate Phillips) used to say that she and her hubby ‘found’ Steve McQueen, in fact, and made him a star in their co-written The Blob.  Later Richard and Steve would star together in Tom Horn. Untitled Kay starred in a serious of Westerns and frontier films herself – with Claudette Colbert and Henry Fonda in Drums Along the Mohawk (directed by the great John Ford) and with Buck Jones and “Buck Benny” (Jack Benny) in some gritty-riding-and-roping scenes – she told me she did a lot of the riding herself, and she once laughed at Jack Benny when his horse ran away with him. Apparently, as soon as he was rescued, he vomited violently!  During those years Richard worked in such films as Gone With The Wind (an uncredited soldier) A Day at the Races (as an uncredited jockey) and in The Ten Commandents (as an uncredited chariot driver!)  He was always, his whole life, in outdoor films, and usually working with horses.

Kay in Buck Jones
Kay and Buck Jones, stuntriding in Buck Jones’ Black Aces – jumping a big ole grey is to come up again below!

Richard still doing stunts
Richard Farnsworth 1954, The Adventures of Kit Carson

From the 1930s through the 1950s Richard worked as a stunt man and in crowd scenes (By the 1950s Kay was working as a screen-writer, which is how I met her). By the time the early 1960s rolled around, Richard had decided he quite liked acting and began taking more and more speaking roles, still in outdoor films primarily – and with a horse wherever possible!  But of course most of us came to know him when Sullivan Productions introduced him as the driver of a certain buggy through the White Way of Delight and past The Lake of Shining Waters:

Richard played Anne's Matthew hero
When he told her she could stay and grow
At his Green Gables
(Where, in his stables,
His compulsory horse did stomp and blow).

Richard Farnsworth and Megan Follows, Anne of Green Gables, 1985

Sullivan Productions then went on to do a spin-off series, Road to Avonlea, in which two of my fellow competitors in the eventing world would stunt-ride for the episode The Great Race.  Hugh Moreshead, now a well-known Canadian course designer, and our pal Dick Bayly (yes, ANOTHER Richard) had loads of fun steeplechasing for the cameras during the filming of that one!

But back to Richard Farnsworth.  Although we all came to love him as Anne’s beloved Matthew (and it was at this time that he began being nominated for awards in nearly every single movie of quality in which he starred right up until his death – not bad for a stunt rider!) it was as the crotchety Mr. Foster, ex-cavalry rider and now-trainer of future Olympic event rider “Charlene Railsworth” (Melissa Gilbert, all grown up from her time as Laura Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie, another influential show for my dreams of living self-sufficiently in a rural area). This 3-day Eventing film, Sylvester, was produced in the same year as Anne of Green Gables (actually filmed close to us in Ontario, not PEI – how I wish I’d gone to meet Richard Farnsworth at that time!) Richard did several other movies and television shows that year as well, so it was one of the best and busiest of his career! And although I had some vague ideas that I wanted to be an event competitor someday, it was Sylvester that clinched it.  This film, already exciting because it had two of my favourite actors as leads and was about the sport I was thinking of pursuing as a new adult, was also a pleasure to me for two other reasons: 1)  I had been a dusty cowgirl for the first part of my riding career (age 10 to 16) and then turned to riding English and enjoying all the many disciplines offered in THAT style.  Sylvester started in Texas – where I’d visited and ridden when I was 11 – taking place on a dirty horse ranch (thus, Richard fit in perfectly!) and then the film moved for the English/Eventing scenes to the Kentucky Horse Park (where I’d also visited on the same trip through the United States when I was 11!)  2) One of my favourite eventers whose magnificent career I’d been following for several years , was Kim Walnes. With just her ONE horse, The Gray Goose, she was climbing the world-leader board in the Eventing world, and inspiring those of us who would only ever HAVE one horse at a time TO DREAM BIG.  She was (and still is) an inspiration to many of us, and when I discovered that she and Gray were the stunt doubles for Melissa Gilbert for all the dressage, cross-country and show-jumping scenes in Kentucky, this movie was destined to be extremely influential for me.

My inspirational friend and mentor, Kim Walnes on her tremendous world-famous The Gray Goose, dropping down the Lexington Bank during the filming of the movie Sylvester
Richard Farnsworth, Melissa Gilbert, Michael Schoeffling, 1985, (c) ColumbiaR with one of the 8 grays they used to film all the amazing footage!

Two of my favourite shots from the film, Melissa getting told off by Richard after she falls in the water jump and  Kim and Melissa on their two primary grays (Gray Goose and the real Sylvester).

For more of Kim’s memories during the shoot (like having to jump over cameramen in ditches, read this article

(For the last year I have been corresponding almost daily with Kim to try and organize  a short documentary  that I’d like to see made about her life – she is truly an amazing woman.  If you’re reading this, and have any access to film-makers or video production companies, please contact me!  We have a keen film editor, permission granted for many of the old clips, but not yet someone who wants to do the actual present-day filming! For more of Kim’s extraordinary life (though she’s too humble to admit it has been so) read this article:

If the link above doesn’t work and you want to read more about Kim’s WOW lifestory, type in “Sheer Will, Sidelines, Kim Walnes” in google – it’s a really good article, and at the end is her website address if you want to read even more!)

There was an old fellow named Farnsworth
Who seems connected to me since my own birth
He rides, trains and acts
He's full of farm facts
And of horses and tractors there's no dearth.

Right to the end, Richard Farnsworth played roles that kept him outdoors, and RIDING.  His last part in 1999 was the lead role in The Straight Story,  (directed by the famed David Lynch) which won him an Academy Award nomination. He could no longer ride horses at his age, so the role took place with him primarily riding a John Deere lawnmower, very much like ours.  He rode it in nearly every scene in the film!


If my own Richard keeps not bothering to shave, he’s going to soon look exactly like the above, tooting about Blue Belldon on our own nearly-identical John Deere!

There’s another former steeplechase jockey (like Hugh Moreshead and Dick Bayly) who also titillated my love of countryside and eventing. Author Dick Francis.  Of all his English countryside/riding-based thrillers, my very favourite is Trial Run, centred around the fictional Russian Olympics lead-up for horse-trials (eventers) competitors.

A Dick who once rode for the Queen
Is another to whom I will lean
When expounding my faves
He has many raves
On the covers and pages between

When I moved to England, the first time,  in the late 1990s I LOVED taking the trains as they allowed me to see so much of the countryside I’d dreamt of and read about my whole life.  I didn’t especially like Richard Branson’s Virgin line, though.  However, in 2014, Branson joined forces with African Wildlife Foundation and partnered with WildAid for the “Say No” Campaign, an initiative to bring public awareness to the issues of wildlife poaching and trafficking, and for this I gotta admire the man.  He does lots of other philanthropic works across the globe with his billions as well… which means he has certainly TRUMPED other billionaires…

There was a tycoon name of Branson
Who said "no" to animal lancin'
Or of shooting outright
The beautiful sight
Of magnificent beasts. Now they're dancin'!

More than a nod must be given to another screen legend – Richard Briers.  My own Richard and I have long watched dvds from the library of the first 3 years of Monarch of the Glen (after that, they killed off Richard Brier’s hilarious character)- in fact on a trip to Scotland before I moved there, in late 2008, we even saw the small castle and wandered the wilderness estate at which Monarch was filmed – in the stunning scenery of the west side of my grandfather’s native land.  So, as if that wasn’t enough, Richard Briers has inspired me.  BUT, since moving here and watching so many BBC shows (we have no television so watch shows online in the winter evenings…) we have very much enjoyed one of his first series for the BBC, the 1970s popular “The Good Life” – all about, guess what? A couple who are determined to live self-sufficiently.  If you’ve never seen it, you must watch a few episodes at least – we’ve actually had TIPS and GOOD IDEAS we’ve considered from this fun but ‘thinking-outside-of-the-box’ sit-com.



Richard 'Briers Rabbit' they called this guy
In the back garden digging, and he'd try and try
To make veggies grow
In the mud and the snow
While inside his wife'd have a pig-fry!

I’ve mentioned him before in this blog, but John Rikards, a different type of  “Rik” ,is another author who has intrigued me – by writing about this very county where we’ve moved, without ever having laid eyes on North America !

Young British writer, Rikards, became a FB friend
When I wrote him we'd moved here, setting of "Winter's End"
I read it many years ago
Never dreaming we'd be here in snow
A decade later, now part of Appalachian trend.

winters end

Of course the Attenborough brothers, both Richard and David, have been highly influential to me in their on-screen and in print formats.  As a drama major, I’ve long admired Richard in his many roles, but David has been an activist for ending climate change and trying to save the planet for decades before it even became ‘trendy’ (for those of us that know it isn’t all a ‘hoax’, anyway!)


Dear Dick and Davie, brothers true
Bring nature's joy to me and you
Attenborough Pride
So dignified! 
And always they have something new

This has been an especially hard year for my own Richard’s good friend Rick Madden, and I’d be remiss not to give that particular Rick a special tribute of his own:

There was a pure gent called Rick Madden
Who, this year, has had much to sadden
But so many love Rick
And they close 'round him quick
That we pray his heart will soon gladden!

I’ve written of my friend Remy, whose real name is Richard McEvoy. He spent 3 weeks with us here in the fall because he wanted to work on his North American bush-and-survival skills. He and his son Joe run a company in West Yorkshire called Brigantia Bushcraft.

Last month I posted a photo of the two Richards going down the Saint John River in our new/old canoe ( search for the Lorne Green/ Long Green post). This was part of the goals Remy had, but he also had another important one he wanted to accomplish whilst here – and did!

A man called Richard built a lean-to
With knife and hatchet, tools so few
He nearly got shot
By hunters, alot
But still helped us to make partridge stew!


2nd limerick for Remy:

But though time for ole Remy was fraught
With listening to quibbling a lot
About how to farm
No, there's little charm -
When Richard wants you to garden, you're CAUGHT!
Richard Reich takes it easy whilst supervising Richard McEvoy, September, 2017

And lastly, and the real driving force for writing this particular blog, is my own Richard Reich, who agreed to buy this farm and give trying to live off the land a chance.  He’s been a good sport about most things, giving the production of maple syrup a good go last spring, learning how to do ‘barn chores’ with crazy animals he’s never had anything to do with prior to this year – and incidentally this week we went to the woods with Chevy and Richard had him finally hauling out logs (photos and blog on this in a month or two)  – and working especially hard on his two chief projects: the composting for the garden and the wood for heating (also devising ways we can harness solar and wind for future…)

There once was a family of Reichs
Whose Richard bought a farm and said "Yikes"!
Now I have ALL this work
It will drive me berserk
And I've no time for quiet drives or hikes

But after a while he did realize
That much to his happy surprise
The livestock were sweet
They made life complete
This farm life has opened his EYES!
Taken earlier today, after our first ‘sticking’ snowfall yesterday. Richard, with his charges.

Tapping, Sapping, Lapping & …..Napping.

The temperature's up, the temperature's down
But this makes for a time to drill 
And tap the trees out in our bush.
For Richard, this has all been a thrill!

You can tell when the season is coming
The sunrises are glor'us once more
And the days are so much longer
We can be out in the woods after 4!

The first step is to mark the maples
And while all plastic puts me in a FUNK,
We already had this roll of yellow-
So Richard tied bows 'round the trunk.



He found about 15 good maples in all
And drilling holes was the next stage
(He broke my Makita, so we used his big thing,
Which naturally put ME in a rage!) 


Next step is to put in the spile
(Again, plastic was NOT what I'd choose.
But since that's all they had, Richard taps
With a hammer, then POOF! In for a snooze!)


Yup, that's a big morning, he figures.
15 holes drilled - what a lark!
But after lunch and a nap, what's he find?
The sap's running down the tree bark!

So he hurries and fits in his hose
(MORE plastic, "oh NO!" Julie raves!)
But at least the 'buckets' are recycled
From the milk jugs - a year's worth of saves!


There's still so much snow that just walking
Is impossible in the deep white
So Richard and I ski or snow-shoe
While Smitty prances on top, he's so light!

And that toboggan is handy for tools
(Yes, the damn thing is PLASTIC again!)
But on days when my knee is too sore
Richard 'mushes' me down the back lane!

We collect sap for two days, in fridge
In many more jugs that we've kept
Then Richard takes over the kitchen
All newly pet-free and floor-swept.

('Cause we have to do enough straining
First with coffee filters, then in the pot
With a tiny sieve or cheesecloth
So we DON'T want hairs in that lot!)

Richard waits for a roiling boil
Then boils for at least half a day
Keeping an eye on the temperature
As well as straining what joins in the fray!

He calls himself a middle-class-billy
So one not-QUITE-from-the-'hills'
But "geek" springs to mind as I watch him
And wait to mop up any spills!

The windows are fogged up with moisture
And the paint will be peeling from walls
Next year we'll have to cook outside
Out where all of Nature enthralls!
 On the first day, the smoke alarm sounded
(We'd left a pot boiling an hour
That we went to woods to collect more
And the burner was too high a power!)

So now Joy comes down to monitor
And put in her two-cents worth, al-so
Richard LOVES to create drama, so I
Hide down where seeds start to grow!


R.'s back and forth to the woods
Running quite a nice little crop
But a pause is made to throw balls-
That snow-dust's the dog's sliding stop!

After hours and hours on the boil
The sap starts to thicken up well
Richard loves this high drama the best
As the bubbles go white and up-swell!

Ready or not, we pour in cool bowls
Then transfer syrup to jar
But leave a bit out for candy
The taffy's the show-stopping star!

Now Richard makes ME run outside
And grab fresh pee-free snow
And he pours the taffy on top
For a treat about which he'll CROW!



 And a little further along on the boil
We get the hard-candy-works
Pour in a cake pan, stick in the freezer
And now - it's the greatest of perks:

The licking of sweets from utensils
That have stacked up in my kitchen again
There's pots and pans- mess all over!
But R's intent on his Purpose Main.

That is, to lap up enough treats
Before I notice his hill-billy teeth
Will need more dental work than money we've got-
What that guy eats is beyond belief!


Now we take out the quick-cooled panned candy,
And smash the pan down with a bang.
It all breaks into jig-saw pieces.
All set for R.'s broken old fang.

For no sooner have I put it away,
Then he's caught with his hand reaching in
For that hardened gold treat he wants badly-
And I've got to pretend it's a sin!
Chipped teeth when you haven't a 'plan'
Are not going to help us live
In a self-sufficient manner
So it's back to the pot and the sieve,

While I take a turn at collecting...
But I can't find the toboggan at all!
And there's that hard-working nut-bar
Setting himself for a great fall.


And later still, cleaning the kitchen
I wonder why it's gone so quiet.
I check the pantry candy
To see if he's gone off his 'diet'.

But no, all the candy's still there...
Why on earth can't I hear a wee peep?
So I look in the bedroom, and there on the bed
Is the Maple Chief - quite fast asleep!



The Vilified Vicar and the Coerced Canine

Last week you read about life off
The farm called "Blue Bell  - don"
This week's a silly story, 'bout
Winter HERE, and who has come...

For many neighbours in this valley
Pop by for words of praise
Or blessings of encouragement
To get us through cold days.

Last June, our Smitty, "RESCUE DOG",
Took a hunk of Eileen's arm
(Eileen lives just up the hill
On the neighb'ring Danish farm).

But since then, Eileen's persisted 
In attempts to "Buddy Up"
With our Labrador/Rottweiler cross,
So abused as a young pup.

Quite early on many a winter's morn
And when my bare ass hangs off our bed,
Eileen and Thunder, her fat old pooch
Pass right by my window ledge!

And traverse to our side porch
Purpose :  "Can Smitty come and play?"
And in pajamas, Richard porch-leans
And thus in bright sunshine will stay

And visit while the dogs scoot 'round
And Smitty gives Eileen a slurp
To say he's ever so sorry -
Then jogs off with a belch and a burp!

But Thunder doesn't like 'being used'
As a distraction or a foil
For his mistress, to make another friend...
It rather makes his old blood boil!

So off he totters back up hill
And Eileen must quickly trot
She once more passes the big window
But this time I'm 'out of cot' !

For the less one sees of my repose
With menopausal flashes
The happier one will usually be-
NOT to see protruding asses!

Speaking of 'behind' the times
Every Thursday Mom enjoys
Offering, like in days of old,
Piano lessons to teen boys

Who want creative outlet
In this remote mountain vale
And often in the kitchen
Our entertaining will prevail

As one mother we'll call Fairlight
Who's a hermit quite like me
But feels her son should benefit:
He plays; she has a cup of tea!


On Sundays, it's off to St. Peter's
For miles you can see the steeple
As it sits up there on Clockedahl Hill
And beckons all Danish people.

This year, its special hundredth
Is a time we will rejoice
And celebrate its history
With song in much-raised voice

We appreciate its craftsmanship
And the beauty of its wood
We enjoy the parish folk so much --
They're welcoming, warm and good.


A neighbouring town is Plaster Rock
And is famous for two sites
The place where massive ferns will grow...
(Read of this in my future writes),

And the world site of Pond Hockey
Where every Febr'ary cold
Hundreds of teams from 'round the globe
Play on the small lake of old.


In fact, it too celebrates this week
It's in its one hundred-FIFTIETH year!
Since 1867, teams have skated
On that ice so sheer.

Teams named with silly humour
Like "Pond Scum" and "Timber Twats"
Or, one of our favourite names:
"The Raggedy-ass River Rats" !

There are teams of men, but ladies too
And they're all TOUGH, outside the tent
Where beer is poured quite freely
At this world-renown event.

How often in the winter
Do you see an outdoor sport
Where the loos are placed in snowdrifts
And the players roughly cavort

RIGHT beside Joe Public
Which is why the nets are tiny
(Though Richard had a puck zip by
And he fell right on his hiney!)



Meetings in small communities
In the rural countryside
Are another way of getting involved
And taking some local pride.

While Richard worked the potato fields
Last fall, to feel a part
I'm now off to meetings galore
Historic, Planning and Horse Club, to start!

While Founder's Day celebrations
With parade, barbeque and dance
Are traditionally planned, I don't see how
A tomboy like me could enhance

A BEAUTY PAGEANT? of teenage girls
Who will dress up and model and pose.
All I know is grubbies and sweatshirts
NOT lace, and sequins, and hose!

And while a saddle club's more my style
I can't seem to find the straight path
Everyone argues and thinks they're right
(Mostly women, who cat-fight with wrath!)

Saddle Clubbed-to-Death
Pretending we all get along…
So, I'm not sure how long I'll be meeting
In these groups where I've tried to fit in
But I'll give it a go, for this year at least,
Do duties with tongue-in-cheek grin.

Another winter-time delight
In mountain-country deep
(Other than waiting for spring to come
By reading oneself to sleep!)

Is having neighbours over
To play games into the night
But this week, we were brought to realize
That mere Scrabble evokes a good FIGHT!

For many years I've struggled
To beat Richard at this game,
A few times I've come close
But more often, I admit with shame

That though I'm a teacher of English
He can whump me by a mile
And as he's most competitive
I don't always end with a smile.

Joy bought me a version that
SHOULD have helped more
But, until this year, it
Did NOT bring me to fore:


However, just this winter
I've finally learned to beat
That man I call my partner
Who's NOT happy in defeat!

And this weekend we found out
That ANOTHER man is faster
And of equal strength to Richard's
- And THAT man's our meekest pastor!

His wife, like me, got upset,
And I understood her scorn
As myself, the organist, (and Richard, too!)
Began to feel forlorn.

That vicar is competitive!
Just like ole Rich, he sits
And plans so many moves ahead
While we just take the hits.

Richard at work trying to beat all…




Despite extra points for authors' names
Or a literary phrase
(The pastor's wife got "Dante"
Which SHOULD have put him in a daze

As it was like the devil himself
From the famed Inferno came
To visit the board and take over at will...
-But Pastor STILL won the game!)

While all this serious intellect
Went on beside our fire
Down the hall were bellows and grunts
And great yells of "You're a LIAR!" 

As Balderdash was loudly played
And later, "Dirty Marbles".
So, we took deep breaths and calmed ourselves
To ease the tension of these squabbles.

"Everyone to the living room!"
I called, for my favourite time
Is when drama and hilarity
Team with parlour games of rhyme,

Or witty word games, acted out.
Thus, within this larger group
Charades became the favourite
Of this New Denmark troupe.

But again, like Richard, Vicar sought
To beat my team right out
(Both from Ontario with German surnames
- Could THAT be what this is about?)

How could my team of thespians
Act out "Titanic", or "Moby Dick"
Without pointing to body parts
That were embarrassing in front of The Vic?

But HE had no compunction
About hurling himself to the floor
And writhing about with urgency
To try and get the top score!


Ah, the cold days of winter, then
Have been thusly passed with ease
As long as the dogs don't bite
And pastors continue to tease.

For whether or not my butt is seen
After 9, either day or at night.
When Thunder's coerced to go for a walk
And Eileen might be in for a sight,

And whether or not hot chocolate
Isn't drunk as much as the liquor
It takes for Peter to do "Titanic"
With his nipples, in front of the Vicar,

We'll always get through the storms
Of this 'time on hold' of all seasons
In the hill-billy mountains of N.B.
With our Raggy-ass River-Rat Reasons!

                                                     - J. Ivanel Johnson, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Below is Barrie himself with his dear Porthos:


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

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


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


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

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



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

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

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

with Barrie references: Lost Boys :

with Bear references: Return to Pooh Corner:

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

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



The Still Midnight


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



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

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


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

A long, long sleep, by Emily Dickinson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                      by Lucy Maud Montgomery

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

Happy Homestead-y Holidays

As promised, here’s my Dec. 24th last-minutes postings.  Some of you, if you’ve missed this past month’s postings, may not appreciate some of the jokes/limericks/verses, but you can always refer back because I know so many of you have TIME!

Dec. 24th  – The first book I ‘read’, when I was 3 (mostly memorized and pretending to read, I expect!) was ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, which tonight is – so it’s fitting I write in verse as follows:


Early in the morning, Looking ‘slightly worse for wear’, The old farts traipse downstairs, To heat the house with care .  That same fire’s been a-burnin’, For many weeks on end, Should we toss in notes to Santa, As that’s the best way for them to ‘send’?


How sweet that this poinsetta, Is wrapped in burlap sack, As that’s what Julie’s business is, “Rustic Revivals” kept on track… For Christmas eve deliveries, we received this full of charm, from the realtor in Grand Falls, Who sold us our dream farm!


The reds go with our kitchen blues, and tie in with all fabric checked. They sit proudly on the old scales; the halls are all now firmly ‘decked’!


The gingerbread made weeks ago, then frozen so they’d keep, Have now been thawed and frosted, The benefits now to reap:


And who’s the first to reap them? Richard’s caught stealing a bright pink star, These pink ones dyed with beetroot juice,  “All Natural” as we now are…  That chair in which the old fart sits, bald head ne’er cold in cap? That was just completely fixed as a gift- but it doesn’t ‘wrap’?  Richard worked so hard on it, and sourced out spindles, e’en, to match, And now it’s strong for company, and on the floor it doesn’t scratch!

Other deckings we have done, To bring Ma Nature in, We’ve added brush and berries to a mug, and cut some tin, to hold the branches sturdy, and on the cookstove cold, we’ve added sumach also, as it’s red and ‘berry bold’!


Richard’s helped to clean the house, as it’s his family that are coming.  While upstairs, Mother/Joy cleans too, we can hear her vacuum drumming!



While Richard goes for one last ski, with his second-hand pole and boot, Julie runs through carols she once played with cousins’ flute.



We aren’t getting dressed today, As for midnight ‘mass’ tonight, We have to dress up prettily, and sing in church – it’s RIGHT.  Because the reason for the season, is what it’s all about, but first we’ll go to neighbours’, and eat more food, no doubt!

The table’s ready for tomorrow,  with birchbark name cards matched-up, with the Victorian mantelpiece you saw before, ready for our Christmas sup.  The lovely ‘antique’ centrepiece, as I have posted prior, Is Grandma Johnson’s NOEL set, for candles, and hung higher:

the angel food cake tin, all hole-punched, to make an o’erhead light, with added wire wound about, posted last fall at our Thanksgiving lunch.  This is a Rustic Revivals original, made for several different tables, and I always decorate per season, this one with nativity’s stables!

Stables are important, because of Christ’s birth, not the least. They’re also personal to me, as I’m often found in one, with beasts:


Horses became my life, one Christmas when I was two, “Mommie, Mommie Horsey Cold” was my first sentence, see – it’s true!  And since I became a young adult, when graduating high school, I’ve collected all many of ornaments , equine donkey, horse, or mule:


The first one I collected, Hallmark-dated ’83, Matched my first pony Silver, so ’twas like I’d put him on my tree!  To the right is the little guy, trained to pull red sleigh, with Christmas gifts for family, one 1978 winter’s day…



Strangely enough, the year I passed my Riding Instructor’s exam, I rode my Palomino for it- he made me what I am!  And that very year, ole Hallmark, puts a palomino out for sale! How fabulous for me – just look at that white mane and tale!


Such a great way for memories, to go with my dated ‘rides’ ; whatever colour horse I rode, Hallmark’s horses coincides!  In 1991, my buckskin took me provincially, to championships so high, and now there he hangs upon my tree!

Other horse ornaments are special, too – I love to see them once a year. I have some from ’round the world, brought by my mother and friends so dear.  Here’s a nesting doll from Russia, and another from Ukraine – but it isn’t just the horses that on our tree are lain.

As Mom is a musician, and so is sister Jen, pianos, harps and trumpets combine with violin, and while some homesteaders simplify with strings of berry and popcorn, my Mother’s made decor from, strips of fabric that she’s torn – the red and green are circles starched together and then glued, the ivory trim at back is from a neighbour’s stash, accrued.

Yes, as you see below – music and fabric were Joy’s life. Like any good homesteader, she sewed and cooked as a housewife. But also, there was music, and every Christmas eve, we’d put on her homemade garments that she would sew or weave, and Jen would play or we would sing, and puppet play for family fun, then we’d fondue and enjoy the magic. Twas indeed a Christmas – Home-spun!

Jennifer bows after violin hymn, Julie accompanies Jen on piano as they sing Christmas carols, then on to the fondue with the  Johnson grandparents – Joy is top left, Julie below her.  (in pantsuit- ‘don’t sew me a dress- I won’t wear it!)

And Richard’s not forgotten – his German Dad would be so proud – we always like homemade, so these are perfectly allowed: a wooden nutcracker stands before a wasteland that is frozen – and this natural corn-husk doll displays his lederhosen!

Richard and his brother John, were both so cute when young – here they are as little Germans, on which their outfits closely hung!

Richard’s in the red, the freaky ‘ghost’ you saw at Halloween. Jean-Marc’s the sweet and shy one, in the lederhosen green.

There’s also quite a few to tell the story of “Rich-with-Jewels”.  The corn-husk angel sports a hat that makes her look a fool! She wasn’t really wearing it, it’s just hung above her hair, and represents when Richard came to my tack store on a dare.  The other is of cardinals, and this one makes us GRIN. It represents how we’ve lived together in what’s called “Cardinal Sin!”


So, there’s the tree in all its glory. We cut it from the side, of a New Brunswick wintry back-road, and I never even cried!  I usually do, because I never like to cut a tree. But this one was crowding out two others, so in a way, we set THEM free!

And one last thing to keep life simple – besides the mason jars of homemade goods, and all the sewing, weaving, woodcraft, that are our gifts, here in the woods – a neighbour boy who’s grateful for the friendship we have given, cut up a bunch of kindling and tied it with a ribbon. And that’s the greatest gift of all, so make yourselves quite merried, by enjoying HOMEMADE, SPECIAL THINGS – they are as precious as they are varied!


We’ll let Smitty have the last word, ’cause Christmas is for JOY – And this dog always has a ball, E’en when he’s been a naughty boy!




Appalachian Antic-killies


  Sing to tune of Beverly Hill-Billies:

Oh, I’m a –tellin’ you a story ‘bout a silly ole Dick

Klutzy ole fart, often went by ‘Rich’ or ‘Rick’

Last week he went a-fishin’, to bring his kin some grub

Then, down the hill he rolled and landed in a shrub!

Prickly, that is – broke his pole.

Stubbed his toe. Strained his back.

When he got up, clutching pail and tackle box

His young pal Zeb was squatting on his hocks,

Havin’ a good chuckle, while Richard tripped again

This time landed in the river, the ole fart couldn’t win!

Bad day- no fish.

Klutzy man – what next?


Arse over Tackle-box



Wal, this week ole Rick thought he’d reno. the bathroom

Makin’ two rooms into one seemed like the thing to do.

But while up on the ladder, he slipped and then went SPLAT

Right into slippery poop that was left there by the cat…

Silly man – big ole goof…….

Can’t stay upright. No how.

So this week’s posting for the Blue Bell Mountain Blog

Is all about a man who functions  in a mountain fog

Next thing ya know, ole Rick is soakin’ wet,

Or standin’ in some shit that was left there by his pet!

              It’s the Appalachian Antic-killies!


In Deep Shit

Beaver Dam & Smitty the Ham

Sometimes of an evening

When we’ve been working all the day

And there’s been no time for Smitty

To walk, or run or play.


I put him in the pick-up

And we drive down to Back Lake Road

To listen to the peepers

Or watch a hopping brown-wart toad.


One night we watched a beaver

As he shoved a large black branch

Toward his log cabin abode

In his Mazzerole Lake ranch.


So many lakes and marshes

As well as ponds and brooks

Surround us on all sides

And Richard’s keen to get out hooks


And start catching our fresh fish

For supper every night

Perhaps our figures will shape up

As we try and just eat right.


But in the meantime, Smitty thinks

A dog treat is now called for

And he won’t let go of that ideal

– He’s waitin’ at the door!