Cast of Thousands, Post One Hundred!

In this blog's 100th post
In a year of celebrations
We've marked 2 churches, a village, the birth of Christ -
And our entire nation!

"What's the best of country life?"
Many ask us daily
"Is it the scenery, quiet, nature, veg?"
Nope    - it's celebrating gaily

With our small communities,
Like Perth or New Den-Mark
It's singing, acting, being part
Last week - we're angels! HARK!

You've heard about the mass choir
To mark 150 years
You've read about the nursing home,
And Pastor Ralph's 'old dears'

You know about the pageant
And the summer's Founder's Days
You've heard bits about Still Standing...
(But in spring, to coin a phrase

You'll hear lots more, for 'teasing'
Is how telly's publicized-
And as we're in the 'teaser'
I'll be keeping you apprised.)

teaser screen shot for Season 4 of Still Standing, Julie, Leanne (visiting from Scotland) and Mom/Joy, beside the CBC logo. Ironically, Richard, who insisted we take these reserved seats for ‘Founders Day Organizers’, is out of shot to my right!   To see the full trailer/teaser, look at the Still Standing FB page, 2nd video, or try this link https://www.facebook.com/stillstandingtv/videos/692295784304421
I'd like to speak in detail
About our church's 100th year
And the celebration for it
That many came to hear.

And then I'll show you fun
From the last two weeks of song
With the Perth-Andover choir
And the concerts we've put on!

Back in the mid-summer, 
I was asked to c'ordinate
The entertainment portion
Of St. Peter's-at-the-Gate,

Our little church up on the hill
That I've shown you before
(But will remind you once again
With these photos I've in store:)
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The Danish herring-bone wood designs covering every inch of the interior of St. Peter’s Lutheran on top of the hill just next to us
tiff's churches at night
You’ve met her before in several blog postings. This is an amazing shot taken just after St. Peter’s 100th celebrations this fall, by our local professional photographer, Tiffany Christensen. St. Peter’s is on the right, just across the road from the slightly-older Anglican church called St. Ansgar’s.
To make up the fun night
After a catered Danish meal
We all put in our off'rings
Of creative zest and zeal!

It started with the Danish band
That played some peppy tunes
Then the "Minstrels" (or a handful of...)
Sang a hymn with their soft croons,

Then added another song
I'd written for the night
As a tribute to St. Peter's
And its builders' strength and might.
minstrels, 100th
Then Richard, in his debut
Stepped up alone to sing
Another piece I'd written
Called "Where the Bells do Ring"
richard's solo
Thanks to Mom/Joy for taking most of these photos. To hear “Where the Bells Ring”, Richard’s first full solo (I add some background harmonies as well as the piano accompaniment), go to this link, which we recorded at home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KStOMmr8WYs
After this bit of song,
The pastor had a word
About the history of the church
-Then, something quite unheard!

We came out to do a sketch
As if from 100 years from now!
(So, the 200th anniversary-
It gave the crowd a WOW!

Not because I'd written
Such a finely-honed & gifted script,
But rather, 'cause our costumes
Were wild, and long - Zeb tripped!)

As 'teased' before, back in Sept.,
We all wore togas white
With sashes of sparkly colour
And dyed sheep wigs delight!

Richard, Zeb and myself at the meeting of the 200th Anniversary committee (sketch)
200 yrs skit
Curtain call for the 200th anniversary of St. Peter’s sketch, Pastor announcing. L to R Richard, Zeb Godbout (playing my son, Ned Kram, which is Den Mark backward) Peter Jensen, and seated, myself and Barb Christensen.
We’d had many rehearsals in our living room/meeting room at the farm and while we didn’t actually have all our lines memorized, the oddness of the skit got quite a few laughs, and the pretended ‘frustration and violence’ between us as our sketch showed that meetings don’t change much from century to century, really hit home for those in the community who sit on several boards and committees!
While we changed back out of costume
The band once more would play
The fiddler, 93, was sick
-  Had been in ER all that day!
fiddle
But like the true-blue Danes
He would not back down, be weak
There he was at suppertime
To fiddle in an up-beat streak!

And then some poetry I'd gathered
About the early N.D. times
Were read by Miss New Denmark
With good old-fashioned rhymes:
poetry

But for the big finale
Of this 100th year divine
I asked some pastors, two from past
And our current Ralph, to SHINE.

Miss N.D. Megan spun the wheel
That Richard made that day
And the crowd laughed hard as at
"Pastors' Trivia" we would play

I'd written 70 questions
From categories galore
Like Church History, Pete the Saint,
 "1917", and more...

The pastors, how they struggled
To come up with answers right
But in the meantime, they were FUNNY
And the crowd enjoyed their fright
Pastor Ralph appears to ‘give up’ on the question, as the others have a giggle…
They rang in on their buzzers
(One was Smitty's squeaky toy!)
But often they'd not get it,
And that was JUST my ploy!

pastors triviapastors trivia full
  
The crowd would hoot and holler,
And eventually THEY won
By answering the questions
That the pastors hadn't done.

One of the questions I best liked
"1917" was the 'try'...
This painting of a church was done
So like our own, up high:
This painting by Georgia O’Keefe was done the same year our church was built, in 1917, and is very representative of how St. Peter’s towers over rivers and valley and nestled Appalachian homes.

 

 

So, it's my belief that all had fun,
That sweet September night
When St. Peter's turned 100
With audience delight:
At this table, Megan Bach, Miss New Denmark, her grandparents,  as well as Richard sitting beside Leanne (in gold top), and across from them, Mom/Joy. Being too busy and too nervous of everything to come, I am standing in the background having some punch. Behind me is the old piano, on top of which I had made a 1917 lady’s church-going display.
The 1917 Lady's Church-Going Display:
hat display
a variety of hats from my drama trunk, along with gloves, a fan, a lace hankie, a turn-of-the-century scarf and matching hand-bag, and a special contribution from Pastor Ralph – a hymnal actually FROM 1918!
There I sit, 200 years in the future, wearing a toga and some of Mom’s sheep’s wool on my head, with the full program for the Entertainment Portion of the night written out on the wall behind me.

summary of 100th

And so, that last event was done
And while the harvest kept us crazed
We still went to Perth each week
To practice for our concert days.

The first series, in fall, was with
The Youth Orch-EST-ra grand!
A full 80-piece symphony
Where we were "150 Expand"

(The same voices with which we sang
For July 1st's big event. 
They come from towns all o'er the vale
And it's Glorious, Heaven-Sent!)
Richard’s bald head 4 in at back, and I’m far left, hiding behind the curtain. We sang the Howard Shore piece Sea to Sea, which was WRITTEN for this New Brunswick Youth Orchestra for the 150th, as well as our old favourite We Rise Again (also sung July 1st for the big celebrations). We sang for school groups with a chamber orchestra, on the day before, then had this enormous concert over the weekend. You can hear a small part of We Rise Again at this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEezCOAVgXE     An interesting bit of trivia, and to prove how small the Atlantic provinces are, when the conductor moves aside at 0:44, you’ll see a dark, curly-haired lad playing in the first row of the 2nd violin section. My sister started him in violin in St. John’s, Nfld 15 years ago! A neat connector!
The choir in quaint Perth-Andover
Is directed by the mayor
A lovely lass from Leamington;
There's many here from there!
Our Perth-Andover choir director (and mayor, and Book Club Organizer, and…) Marianne Tiessen Bell, from Ontario, warms us up before a performance.
Our Christmas series started 
Just at November's end.
The hospital in Perth
Has become our new best friend

As both Mom and Richard twice a month
Have teleconference talks
And oncological care, so -
We sang for Womens Aux.!

Then just last week-end,
'Angels' sang 6 hours in the snow
To raise some funds for Food Bank.
"Bethlehem"'s winds did blow

For this interactive nativity
That's now a big crowd-thrill
We entertained the masses
Lined up for miles on the hill

While I’ve been in all kinds of performances in my life, I’ve never actually been able to witness my audience approaching from this far away! Police, firemen, traffic controllers and a radio station were all involved in keeping an orderly pathway to Bethlehem!

To get a really great feel for what this whole night was about, see:
LIVE DRIVE-THRU – just tap the arrow on the pic below and it should work! turn up the sound in the bottom right corner of the screen! It’ll likely be ‘off’, so click on it!

or, slightly less exciting – the slide show:  https://www.facebook.com/perthandoverbaptist/videos/1682963368441021/

These productions were both done by the hard-working and energetic Rev. Michael Fredericks of the Perth-Andover Baptist Church.  WHAT A SHOW IT WAS !

We sang as angels in the heavens
Pointing to the stable, close
While Richard posed beside the inn
And I got my daily livestock dose:

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERApony, nativity, julie, angel

I'm not sure even Bethlehem
Had as many farm-yard critters
Some were small, like geese and hens
And some were really heavy hitters!
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tony and kim

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That's right, a choir of angels sang
Beside Alpaca's Paddock
And beside THAT were market stalls
Of bread, and tools, and haddock!
choir, alpacas
Marianne Bell front row, far, I’m right behind her. We are both ‘gettin’ down’ kinds of angels. Richard and Marianne’s husband are a little more unbendy in near back row. Notice all the alpacas are staring up at the star over the stable. Just as they should do.
We know not where she finds the time
But Mayor M.B. also made that bread!
And still remains relaxed and calm
As she chats with King Herrod!
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snowy angel choir
On the Sunday night’s performance at the nativity, the snow was falling beautifully and romantically and it wasn’t even that cold! I’m crouching because we’re dancing about, not freezing – plus we had a lovely barrel of fire beside us both nights!
On Tuesday night, in Johnville,
We hooked up with a choir
That came from just 'downriver'
In a church that did aspire

To give us but a chance to sing
From choir lofts above
As we sang in echo'd refrain
To Vivaldi's Gloria of love
johnville2
more amazing totally-wood-panelled church work (like St. Peter’s) in the Johnville St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic church, where we sang opposite Peter McLaughlin’s Tuesday Night Singers from the lovely choir loft. (Vivaldi’s Antiphonal Gloria)
Finally, our last big gig
Was filmed upon a Woodstock pew-
(How strange that in Ontario
I lived near Perth & Woodstock too!)

My camera propped on hymnals
On the first of many pews
'Neath Saint Gertrude's glor'ous arches
Marianne led our cues:
         (the following video/pic should be in place, 
             just tap on it and turn up the sound!)



Youtube wasn't working
But we hope you'll link up-- though
It's hard for some not on FB-
Still, we think it's 'quite a show'!

st. gertrudes
Saint Gertrudes is the lovely big church in which we sang last night, in Woodstock, along the Saint John river.

 

 

me with hat, far left, Richard with men, far right

 

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stunning choir loft arches of St. Gertrude’s
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the sanctuary of St. Gerts
Like our concert Tuesday night in Johnville, we sang again with/opposite The Tuesday Night Singers, Peter McLaughlin’s choir. You may remember from reading back in July that it was he who directed us all in the mass choir (150 voices)  on July 1st in Perth-Andover.
part of our choir warming up last night. We had a strong men’s section (4 is STRONG for small town N.B.!) and 3 of the 4 are all spending a lot of their spare time with horses out in the bush! What is the connection, you ask, between men singing and horsemen? Have you an answer?
And so, this Christmas season,
But actually all year long
We owe a debt of gratitude
To those who led in song.

For what a year it's been
Full of music, drama, prayer
To get us off the farm,
And join pastor, teacher, mayor!



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Lorne Greene’s, Long Greens, and the U. of Queens

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As promised, the plethora of guests, the hard haul of harvest, and the commitments of concerts and other carry-ons have all just been completed in this past week, and thus I feel I am perhaps able to begin writing regularly again.  What a year! What a season of busy-ness!  Never in my life do I remember having so many jottings on my calendar for such a long stretch of time – May through mid-October! Because of extra-special circumstances this year of 2017, many events were once-in-a-lifetime/not-to-be-missed, and thus we felt we HAD to participate or we’d always regret it. (ie: 150th CANADA concerts in which to perform, 145th New Denmark celebrations in which to take part,- as these only happen every 5 years to this extent, -100th year of our St. Peter’s church, plus the CBC’s Still Standing cast and crew spending a week in our little community as well.) Because we’ve just moved to such a beautiful farm with lots of room for guests, visitors have also abounded.  Our final one just flew back to England last week after a 3-week stay, and between Richard, Mom/Joy and myself we’ve counted that there were 19 STAYING guests since the end of May!   And all of those events or guests have occurred in the busiest of farming life — whilst trying to  begin living off the land in earnest, including work with the new animals, planting through spring and early summer, and of course all the work involved with harvest – the picking, peeling, plucking, pouring,  ‘putting up’ and preserving.

One of the most challenging, and thus, for me – most entertaining of all the writing exercises I’ve done in decades of writing courses has been to connect seemingly unrelated story-lines or facts into one cohesive work.  That is the challenge I have now given myself over the coming weeks of blog-writing.  Because there has been so much to cover over recent months in the way of recipes and techniques I’ve come up with in the kitchen, humourous tales of the variety of peoples and daily life here in the Appalachians, eco-friendly suggestions or ‘urgent urgings’ as I call my environmental lectures/postings on Facebook, my word-play category “Phonetics Phun and the Pharm”, and just our “Regular Rural Updates”, I have had to find a way to make the connections and still keep each blog with “a bit of everything’ so that readers won’t get bored! (ie: don’t want to inundate with boring tips for freezing corn, if most readers are looking to find out about Richard’s latest bruising episode, etc!)

So    H E R E      G O E S   ….

Lorne Greene went to my alma mater, Queen’s.  He switched his major to Drama and Languages, much the same as I did, and, also as I did – went on to work for and live around the National Parks, first, as a drama teacher at a camp in Algonquin  (like my dramas performed for the benefit of Murphy’s Point and Bon Echo Provincial Parks), doing radio voice-overs to help protect wildlife and the conservation areas, and even acting in a short film for the National Parks System.  Then, of course, his own multi-award-winning Canadian production of New Wilderness brought the plight of nature and our environment very much to the forefront, as it was number ONE in its time-slot for all 5 years that it aired. Thus, Mr. Greene was very much a man after my own heart in the ways of both the Performing Arts, and his work for the Environment. But what’s the first reason I felt a connection to him?  Because he rode “Buck” the Buckskin, on Bonanza of course, and everyone knows I always have loved my ‘golden animals’ – palominos and duns/buckskins especially.  Lorne even bought ‘Buck’ after the series ended and donated him to a therapeutic riding school, just as I have devoted time, training and yes, even golden horses  to the same.  (Buck is SAID to have lived to an unbelievable age of 45 with the disabled children… usually only ponies live to ever be this old, but we’ll go along with this bit of urban legend because it’s nice to believe it…)

(above,    Lorne and Me –  “We  Dun Good” ! )

One of the deep-voiced Greene’s only on-air bloopers was to once say on CBC radio news broadcast   “farmers are expecting their biggest craps in years”.

lorne greene on CBC 1942

In a neat segue, we too have little distinction between this years ‘crops’ and well – ‘crap’.  Due to the 5 weeks of solid rain early on, then 4 weeks of drought , many of our crops did not do well this year (more on this, and how we’re working to prevent this happening again in future blogs over the coming weeks…)  But one thing you can ALWAYS count on to grow, no matter the weather conditions or the soil:  BEANS AND PEAS.  The “Long Greens”.  (trivia: did you know ‘long green’ is actually a colloquial term for ‘money’, first used in the late 1880s?  Well, in a way, our beans and peas are ‘money’ – because they are the one thing we can ‘bank’ on to grow enough of to put in our fridge and freezer! )

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So, while the other crops were somewhat ‘crap’, our peas, green beans and edamame (a type of soy bean that’s delicious!) bloomed in copious numbers.   Following are some of my favourite things to do with each:

GREEN BEANS – to eat fresh  (click on each photo for caption, explaining what I’ve come up with…. I know some of you have told me this doesn’t work on your computers, and for this I apologise. I think you are probably lacking a viewing program such as Adobe or Acrobat or some such… If you can’t view my concoctions, leave me a message and I’ll tell you all !)

How I’ve decided to ‘preserve’ green beans:

Last year I fussed with both ‘pickling’ the beans with carrots, and also blanching the beans first, before freezing.  After my aching back and knees were already becoming too much this August/Sept., I read up on some ‘lazier’ ways… here’s what I’ve found:

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You don’t HAVE to ‘blanche’ first!  Just wash, snip off the ends and ‘flash freeze’ (like many of you might do with berries!) Make sure they are dry, first, from your washing of them. As we are organic, I often just gave them a wipe off with a dish towel, as having them at all wet will make freezer burn. Once dry,  separate them on trays as much as possible so they don’t end up sticking together, and pop them in your freezer (I did a few in the top of my fridge freezer, then started ‘going BIG’ and doing about 6 trays at a a time out in the chest freezer.  Freeze for about an hour – you don’t want to do too much longer, or freezer ‘burn’ will begin.  They should be hard, and snap in half easily with a crack!  When you bring them back to the counter to bag  (we use strong recycled bags from other things like oatmeal, or zip-lock bags from other veg. or fruit we were forced to buy mid-winter) DON’T WAIT !  Get right on this, or if they are open to room temp. for even a few minutes they will start to thaw, and that will cause them to stick together in the bag, OR to be subject to burn… I think we have close to 30 meal-sized packages of green beans in the freezer for the winter, now, and that’s more than I really want to eat in a winter, even just in soups.  Sooooo…… I decided to get inventive again with the remaining beans that were coming in late:

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I steamed a bunch of beans at a time,
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then put them in the blender/food processor
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I had to add a bit of water to make the machine really mash them up… like baby food!
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I sprinkled my own dried parsley on top. Then I froze the mash in a lot of plastic containers (recycled from other things, of course!)

This green bean mash will be used in such things as meatloaf or chili, where it will add extra protein and ‘bulk’ without ever really being seen or tasted. I’ve tried it once in a meatloaf already, and it was excellent, and really spreads our meat out to help save on that end of things!

PEAS:  We LOVE our peas! Richard was most happy with the perfect way some of our peas looked this year. One day when we were shelling them together, he found this one in his batch, and insisted I take a photo for our readers, so here it is:

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What I frequently do with our fresh peas for a lovely lunch:

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richard shelling peas

Of course, we also shelled copious amounts of peas and put them in containers like small Truvia canisters to freeze.  We always seem to over-do the bean-planting, though, and never have quite as many peas as I’d like, so next year I DEFINITELY must rectify this!

Lastly, edamame:  (pron.  ED – A – MAW -MAY ) This was introduced to us by my sister, who always seems to be the one of us in our family who is ‘up’ on the ‘trendy’ or exotic foods – it was she who first showed me an avocado, decades ago, and they are one of my favourite foods – wish I could grow THEM here!  Anyway, my little nephew enjoyed this special soy bean, shelled, and roasted lightly with oil and salt (like you might do pumpkin seeds), so we have prepared many of them like this.  However, the way they are prepared in Japanese restaurants is as follows:

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Simply steam the edamame IN THEIR PODS for a few minutes. Don’t overdo!
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They can then be served with the pods SALTED, right in their pods, and will split open with ease at your mouth as you squeeze the pods and slide the delicious beans right on to your tongue!

There are a few other “Long Greens” I’d like to ponder here.  Leanne, my friend from Scotland, stayed with us for 10 days mid-harvest and helped greatly with the animals and some of the picking and peeling processes.  There was no time to take her sight-seeing, but for one of Richard’s doctors’ appointments he DID take her to Plaster Rock to see some of the chain-saw sculptures commemorating activities of the area:

leanne, canoe, plaster rock

The above photo then reminded us that we STILL, after a year and a half, hadn’t purchased a canoe, (we want one for calm paddling, and for Richard to fish from) and that our friend from England, Remy,  (another Richard, actually) was coming just 10 days after Leanne, and wanted to immerse himself in the Ways of the Wilderness (he and his son, Joe are certified ‘Bushcraft’ instructors in the remote moorlands of Yorkshire —in fact they live so close to Haworth they often hear Heathcliff calling for Kathy across their Wuthering Heights —–   and they are always trying to hone their survival skills.  More on his activities here on the farm later, but if you’re interested in their website and perhaps taking a course from them if you’re travelling over there, see:  http://www.brigantiabushcraft.com/     If the link doesn’t work, just google Brigantia Bushcraft ! ).

As soon as Remy came he motivated us to find and purchase a wonderful old green canoe from a neighbour:

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Then he and Richard immediately wanted to test the Saint John River, at its very lowest for decades, I was told by an old-timer as I waited on Brook’s Bridge downriver, in order to take photos.

 

And today, whilst trying to arrange connections and segues in my head preparatory to writing this blog post, I looked down at my cozy self, wrapped in Leanne’s generous gift to us: A McKenzie tartan wool blanket (because Mom was a McKenzie and that’s why I went to live in the Scottish Highlands in the first place!)  And it made me think  “Long and Green – and so SERENE”, now that all our heavy work is over, our commitments are over and our last overnight visitor gone…

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Remember how Lorne Greene went to Queens and studied Theatre Arts and Language as I did? Well, there’s another connection – a group of us ‘artsies’ who wanted to become teachers were chosen from across Canada to take part in Queen’s ACE program – only 20, in fact are chosen each year!  ACE stands for Artist in Community Education and we auditioned for not just Fine Arts and Writing, but the Performing Arts – Drama and Music.  One of this group, Jodi Essery, won the Lorne Green Award that year, and they said it was one of the more difficult choices they’d yet experienced due to the high level of talent among the ACE crowd.  And I guess everyone from my little group had some lofty ambitions!  One, James Libbey, is now the conductor and composer of the International Schools’ Music Program in Luxembourg (James visited me when I lived in my wee cottage in Yorkshire, and I still remember him taking his bagpipes with us when we went for a walk in the near-by beech woods and playing them standing on a stone hog’s back bridge over a trickling brook. Magical! )

His best friend, Evan Smith – another good Queen’s chum of ours who used to sit on the floor of my dorm room and read aloud to the rest of us,  has won accolades and awards – in fact has won the YMCA PEACE AWARD, for his work with teaching children in Venezuala, then taking Ontario students to Peru and Costa Rica to interest them further in global social justice issues.  He has started two programs throughout Ontario: Connexions, which is a 3 credit Grade 12 course for students who go to these countries and help, then come back and report, and SOLID (Student Organization for Learning about International Differences) Here’s the article on his Peace Medal/Prize:

http://www.flamboroughreview.com/news-story/5401006-teacher-earns-peace-medal/

My friend Tab DeBruyn has just had her first book published, is a life coach, and the Executive Vice-President of Arbonne of Canada.  She once did a silhouette dance to one of my poetry readings as part of our graduation ceremonies at Queen’s:

 

And many of you may have seen my old Drama class partner, Liz McEachern, either on stage in her one-woman shows at various Fringe Festivals throughout the GTA, OR in her humourous role on CBC’s Schitt’s Creek (her episodes now are apparently playing on Air Canada flights as well, so you may have ‘caught her’ there). Here she is with Dan Levy, Eugene Levy’s son, who will also be hosting The Great Canadian Baking Show starting Nov. 1st.

liz

Liz is starting to get recognized on the street now, so I’m very excited for her and for the accomplishments and visions of all my amazing class-mates from Queen’s.

And yet, here I sit – telling you how to mix parmesan in your fresh green beans and taking photos of canoeists instead of actually being IN the canoe as I once would have been…. Talk about MISSING THE BOAT!

However, none of the above has THIS view from their front porch, now do they?

tiffany's photo of our farm and valley

(The red maple to right is part of our birch grove.  I’ve introduced Tiffany to you a few times before re: the pageant photos, etc.  Watch for her interviews and photographer’s input with Jonny Harris on CBC’s Still Standing: New Denmark, in the spring of 2018).

 

 

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So many goings on, and lots to write about … but not ’til after October 18th… I can’t seem to manage the time/energy even, for posting some recipes for fresh garden produce like I thought I’d be able to…

But here’s some fun pics to tide you over :

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The above  is of Mom and me getting apples ready for freezing, canning and baking. Mom is wearing Shirley Robinson’s butterfly-denim apron,while mine and Richard’s hang just behind Mom’s head on the corner of the hutch. As the clothes I’ve been wearing the last few weeks are ancient, stained and full of holes, I haven’t felt the need to wear an apron – not to mention how hot it was in that kitchen until just yesterday! Whew!~

And the following photos all have a specific meaning or story to them related to the last few weeks – but to catch up with all the goin’s-on of Blue Belldon Farm, you’ll just have to wait until Oct. 18th, which, incidentally is also the birthday of the man in the last photo – a famous Canadian who has won 3 Academy Awards, and with whom we’ll be very close  in the next 10 days. Any guesses?  Hint on my FB page!

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Summer in Summary

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

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

ida may, ndm

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And here’s a few more teases:

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

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

Summer is over

August Angst !

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Julie in July – Four Beddings, No Funeral

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

The Pastor and the Polo Wraps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

supper, workshop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

funny, pastor ralph, news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

150 concert

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

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

richard in dress rehearsal

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

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

150

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

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

newspaper1

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

polo

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

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

 

pastor ralph clip art

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

mounting block

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

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

Bucket and Bathrobe Brigade

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

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

cammie, chevy and carriann

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

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

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

145 parade1

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

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

horses, parade, 2017

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

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

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

parade, richard up

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

harvey-in-water

parade, 145

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

More Danish festivities took place through the afternoon here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

pastor ralph

phyllis, Bliss

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

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

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

anna and sonja

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Fish, Flies and FIELDing Problems

Fish, Flies and FIELDing Problems – the Farmer in Armor

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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But rather more like this:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

harrow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

stage, 145 b.page.

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

flannel girls

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