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!
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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.

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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!) 

2


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!)

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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!

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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!)
w

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!

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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!
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 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!

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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!

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 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!


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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!
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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.


world-pond-hockey-championship-630x419


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!)


attack-room
Saddle Clubbed-to-Death
grouplg
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:

pic1423674

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.

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Richard at work trying to beat all…

 

 

minister

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.)

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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:

jmbarrie-w-dog

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:

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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:

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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”?

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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 :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3m_V1XNPxA

with Bear references: Return to Pooh Corner:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnvpa3Hj2Ak

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

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

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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.
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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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”…
sleigh
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 :  www.etsy.com/shop/rusticrevivals
  I’ll likely have it hanging on my doorknob if I’m up much longer…
owl-asleep
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:

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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’?

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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!

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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’!

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

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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’!

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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!

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

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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:

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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…

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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!

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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!

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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!”

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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!

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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!

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DON’T TURN YOURSELF  UPSIDE DOWN WITH STRESSES OF THE SEASON –

JUST REMEMBER CHRISTMAS, AND THE WHY AND WHEREFORE THAT’S THE REASON!

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?

 

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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!

 

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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!

 

 

There Once Was a Farmer…

there once was a

There once was a farmer who took a young miss
In back of the barn where he gave her a . . . .
Lecture on horses and chickens and eggs,
And told her that she had such beautiful . . . .
Manners that suited a girl of her charms,
A girl that he wanted to take in his . . . .
Washing and ironing and then, if she did,
They could get married and raise lots of . . . .

Chorus:
Sweet violets, sweeter than the roses,
Covered all over from head to toe,
Covered all over with sweet violets.

“Sweet Violets” is a classic example of a censored rhyme, where the expected-rhyme of each couplet is replaced with an unexpected word which segues into the next couplet or chorus. Numerous folk versions exist in which the implied lyrics are considerably more risqué than this first verse.  I have written a second verse, from a more emancipated female’s perspective,  that keeps it as amusingly innocent as the above, which we used to sing ’round the piano while my mother played for us as children. Here’s the second verse:

But when the young miss was near middle-age, She thought that she’d rather break out from her…

Husband’s iron fist and his constant request, For her to work harder without any…

Chances to say that the farm was well-kept, She wished into marriage she never had…

(repeat chorus)

This week, the neighbours’ chickens got into our compost and leaf pile, and I’m sure adding their own special droppings can only make the heap richer for the betterment of the garden.  When the turkeys came over last week, though, I had my doubts about their contribution! Silly things!

By the way, just look at the difference in green from one week to the next! Mother Nature is truly amazing in any season, but in the beginning of spring, we surely notice HER wealth of gifts to us!

Let’s think about EARTH this week of Earth Day, and how we mustn’t mistreat or abuse Her like the farmer with his darling “young miss”.  Let’s make sure She, Mother Earth,  knows we appreciate Her, and not just think of Her as a beautiful ‘trophy wife’, there to be taken advantage of at ‘man’s’ every whim…

 

 

The Tractor Seat Saga -seriously?

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When I found it, round on top, holes to ventilate through heat

Rusted to the core of me,

Rusted to the sham

Bolted in the centre.

Bolted, me, through no fixed address.

Among the urban fallows.

There, tractor

Once bouncing along, on the brow of the don…

Now propped against a tree-trunk. Propped.

Only a prop. Props master, puppet master.

Like the cue to enter stage left,

On its bouncy fulcrum, as the jester

Bounces on.

 

But silent, now, no jest to play,

No audience approval.

Brow furrowed. Burro burrowed.

Burro bolted. Centre stage.

Last furrow ploughed a thousand years before.

How many seats? Who played Bottom?

How many Bottoms?

Bottom-out.

normal

 

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An Inkling of… Juliet’s Quill

inkling

Last night, after posting about the Toad from Toad Pond in my Tub… (Ode to the Commode) I started thinking, as it was the middle of the night, that it didn’t make much sense, even if it was a bit of fun and whimsy!  Thus, I now present to you a more serious post about my propensity for creating “inkhornisms”… (in case you’ve not already figured that out for yourselves!) In the sixteenth century, this meant any literary “composition” – or “post” as I do here in “blog-ville” that SMELLED OF THE LAMP – meaning being overworked from too much burning of the midnight oils… This was suggested by one of the Forgotten English cards given to me by my friend, Anne. However, I don’t think she was suggesting anything about my writing – at the time… perhaps having examined this blog, though?

Anyway, the inspiration for the word “inkhornism” was a small case of writing instruments made of horn and used from the 1300s to the 17oos . Thus, having an “inkling” about something, meant simply a tiny sample of a written idea.   Once again, a LESS serious note about my personal propensity in this regard:

 

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Having said all that, there are some poems or quotes others have written that may be meaningful to you, and once in a while I’ve been known to write something that deserves a bit of notice (20 year anniversary of this publication, for instance):

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So, if you wish me to calligraphy ( by being a candle-waster!) a special verse, recipe, or etc. for you, see my writer’s shop online at http://www.etsy.com/shop/julietsquill  .  Also do wedding invitations, christenings, reunions, anniversary poems, etc. calligraphied by hand. Very personalized gifts – Take a look!  And, speaking of anniversaries, it’s the 200th anniversary of the birth of my beloved Charlotte Bronte this year, and as I used to live in Haworth – another beautiful village with rolling (VERY!) hills… and windswept moors as well – let’s celebrate this: ( it’s an example/sample/inkling, from Juliet’s Quill retail pages online:)

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quill imagery

two for juliets quill