Tarnished Knights

The Farming Daughter Blog: Tarnished Knights Poem ( https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2016/10/25/tarnished-knights/)

 

A recent conversation was the catalyst of inspiration for another poem.

What happens when our role models let us down? What happens when we grow up and discover that “super heroes” don’t exist, and things aren’t as good as they first seemed?

I think everyone has at least one point in their lives when they are personally slapped with this reality. As I contemplated, I decided we have two options: We can either allow ourselves to become disillusioned and cynical, or we can realize that every human, including ourselves, is inherently flawed and in need of a Savior. How blessed are we to have His grace made freely available to us!

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” -Romans 3:23&24

Tarnished Knights

Oh for the days when I was young and heroes were still real,
And gallant knights still dashed away in shining suits of steel,
When I viewed the world through child eyes and all seemed fair and right,
While my heart was full of confidence and belief burned ever bright.

How did I lose this rosy lens through once the world I saw?
When I only noticed noble deeds, without their twist or flaw.
Why has my champion fallen from his pedestal on high,
And left me disillusioned and my admiration dry?

T’would be simpler, I should think, if from youth we never grew.
Faith would be an easy thing if we never knew,
How swiftly mighty warriors to temptation weakly yield,
And those we marked as soldiers brave flee like cowards from the field.

The harshest teacher, Experience, has stripped my naiveté,
And changed my sunny morning into an afternoon of gray.
Those that once I trusted, whose ways I thought the best,
Now the simple act of honoring has itself become a test.

But hear a Voice that calls to me, “Trust not in princes that can’t save!”
“In mortal men who soon depart and return back to the grave.”
“Believe instead in the Holy One Whose goodness faileth never,”
“And Whose faithfulness will reign on high, Whose mercies last forever.”

Now, perhaps, I start to see, how this pain He works for good,
For I also am a sinner and often fail more than I should.
And this truth that holds for tarnished knights holds just the same for me,
Placed beside my wretchedness, the more amazing His grace will be.

-Michaela Richmond, “The Farming Daughter”

Monday, October 24, 2016

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The “Bess” Bonnet


The Farming Daughter: The "Bess" Bonnet ( https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2016/01/13/the-bess-bonnet/)

And still of a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,

When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,   

When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,   

A highwayman comes riding—

         Riding—riding—

A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard.

He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred.   

He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there   

But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,

         Bess, the landlord’s daughter,

Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

-“The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes

The nasty weather we’re having right now has at least one benefit I suppose…inspiring me to finally blog about my new quilted winter hood!

I began this project the beginning of October. I’d actually owned the pattern unused since last year, but I pulled it out hoping to whip up a hood before the Cedar Creek reenactment. Of course that didn’t happen, but c’est le vie. (Actually it’s more my procrastinating self’s fault, when will I learn?)

I used Anna Worden Bauersmith’s Quilted Winter Hood pattern. The pattern offers a regular size and one with a deeper brim. I went with the regular size. I’ve made various winter hoods before, but I love that this particular pattern is less utilitarian in shape and is instead modeled more like the fashion bonnets of the era. The pattern was clear and easy to understand, though I would have liked a few marks or notches to help match the pieces when sewing the bavolet to the crown.

The lining is a cream colored cotton sateen and the batting is wool. For the main fabric I chose a simple and versatile black silk taffeta. I made the bow and ties also from silk taffeta I had on hand. They are just tacked on to the bonnet, so if I get tired of them they can be easily switched out for a fresh color. I discovered the poem The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes while working on this project and didn’t realize until later that I unconsciously made the bonnet from two colors specifically mentioned in the poem!

“Bess, the landlord’s daughter,

Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.”

For that reason I’ve decided to name it my “Bess” bonnet. 🙂

Using some suggestions offered in the pattern and inspiration from Sarah Jane’s version, I came up with a quilting design that pleased me. I quilted it all by hand. At first I didn’t plan on the final row of shell pattern closest to the brim, but I’m glad I added it because I think it balances out the design nicely.

The Farming Daughter: The "Bess" Bonnet ( https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2016/01/13/the-bess-bonnet/) 2
Quilted crown design
The Farming Daughter: The "Bess" Bonnet ( https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2016/01/13/the-bess-bonnet/) 3
Koda “helping” me quilt
The Farming Daughter: The "Bess" Bonnet ( https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2016/01/13/the-bess-bonnet/) 4
Hand quilting

The crown is stiffened with wire to help it hold its shape. The pattern recommends “20 gauge millinery wire”. I honestly have no idea how big that is, so I just used some jewelry wire we had laying around and it seems to work fine.

The Farming Daughter: The "Bess" Bonnet ( https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2016/01/13/the-bess-bonnet/) 5
A look inside the hood: all of the raw seams joining the pieces together are finished with a whip stitch
The Farming Daughter: The "Bess" Bonnet ( https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2016/01/13/the-bess-bonnet/) 7
Back view

I would definitely recommend this pattern to someone looking for a more refined, fashionable winter hood. The research and clear instructions are wonderful. I was a little leery of the price…$20. I thought that was a little much for a pattern that is basically only three pieces…but then again, the price didn’t dissuade me from purchasing the pattern when I did! I think the printing costs contributed to the higher price and I see that Anna now offers the same pattern as a digital download for the very reasonable price of $7 (you can buy it here). These hoods use so little material now that I have the investment of the pattern already I can see myself making quite a few in different colors!

The Farming Daughter: The "Bess" Bonnet ( https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2016/01/13/the-bess-bonnet/) 6
The three main pieces: crown, tip, and bavolet

Overall, I’m very pleased with my finished Bess bonnet. I think proper accessories can really help to complete the believable “look” of the period…and they’re great conversation starters with the public! I also love how this piece can easily be incorporated in a wide range of personas. Of course the shape and materials are fine enough for a more well to do impression, but it requires so little fabric that an enterprising farm wife could have easily afforded the small bit of silk required to make herself a nice winter Sunday piece of headwear.

I’ll be excited for the next cold weather event so I can try out my new winter hood! Have you ever sewn a winter hood? Do you have a favorite piece of historic clothing or gear that transcends several social classes?

-Michaela “The Farming Daughter”

Just the basics:

Fabric: black silk taffeta from Originals by Kay, cream cotton sateen from Joann’s, red silk taffeta from Fabrics Universe on Etsy, wool batting

Notions: black cotton quilting thread, 2′ wire

Pattern: “Quilted Winter Hood” by Anna Worden Bauersmith (the pattern is for sale here in her shop)

Year: 1860s

How historically accurate is it?: Fairly good I’d say. The pattern is modeled after designs of original bonnets and all of the construction methods are period correct. The lining should possibly be a printed cotton or a polished cotton instead of cotton sateen. I’m quite pleased with the finished results though!

Hours to complete: 10 maybe?

First worn: Just to try on when finished

Cost: $5 (black silk taffeta), $3 (cotton sateen), $1.5 (red silk taffeta), $2( wool batting) $1 (notions-thread & wire), $20 (pattern)

Total cost (with pattern): $32.50

Total cost (without pattern): $12.50

The Bible Poem

On Thursday the 11th, as we sat talking to Mother…some one asked for Miriam. She went down, and presently I heard her thanking somebody for a letter…I ran back, and sitting at Mother’s feet, told her Miriam was coming with a letter from Lydia. “Mother! Mother!” a horrible voice cried, and before I could think who it was, Miriam rushed in, holding an open letter in her hand, and perfectly wild. “George is dead!”, she shrieked, and fell heavily to the ground.

-“A Confederate Girl’s Diary” by Sarah Morgan Dawson

The Farming Daughter: The Bible Poem (https://thefarmingdaughter.com/2015/10/26/the-bible-poem/)
Photo by Emily Ann Putzke

While now we think of handwritten letters mainly as a quaint form of correspondence, during the Civil War letters were much more important. Letters were cables of communication connecting apprehensive families at home with their men far away at war. They were lifelines of relief, reassuring anxious mothers that their boys had survived the deadly battle. And all too often letters were the messengers of death, telling the sad tale of the fallen. Imagine waiting, possibly for weeks, between letters, never knowing what those sheets of paper would contain when they arrived.

I wrote this poem to include in a Civil War letter I was writing to a friend. I was inspired by the common practice of sending the remaining possessions of the dead back to the their families. Usually a letter would be written to a family by the deceased man’s commanding officer or comrade. The letter would explain the news of his death, and often times contain some trinket from the departed. A silver watch, a last letter, a lock of golden hair, a brass coat button, all offering one last tangible link with the loved one who had died, and was probably buried hundreds of miles away.

I also wanted this poem to depict the sentiments of death and dying held by most people in the 19th century, while also reflecting my own personal faith. Somewhat unconsciously I explored and juxtaposed the widely differing effect words have. How strange that the same twenty-six characters can be arranged to plunge a heart into the depths of despair, or raise their souls in glorious hope! I hope you enjoy reading The Bible.

 

The Bible

 

With bloodless white lips and ashen pale cheek

She took the small bundle, unable to speak

As cold premonition’s sharp claws gripped her throat

She steadied herself and read the short note

 

The letter was writ in a thick, unknown hand

And she sank to a chair, unable to stand

For Joseph, her dearest, ‘midst the thick storm of lead

Had not conquered triumphant, but was struck down instead

 

She glanced at her hand and the dainty gold ring

How bitter the blow and full cruel the sting!

That cut down their hopes so recent in bloom

Now laid like her sweetheart in the black of the tomb

 

Intensely, but softly she wept in her grief

And the rivulet of tears found no relief

Her thin shoulders shook and she let out a moan

As she thought of her Joe dying unaided, alone

 

At last, sorrow spent, she shuddered a sigh

And chancing a look down something appeared in her eye

In her haste she had forgot that in the bundle was more

And when sorrow struck, it had dropped to the floor

 

Curious, she picked up the ponderous thing

And gently unloosed its wrap of paper and string

And lo! In her lap fell a small leather book

That she herself bought and with him Joe took

 

Tenderly she stroked the cover, smooth from much use

And fingered the thin pages that were starting to loose

A few of the leaves were smudged black with powder

And she thought of him reading as the cannon boomed louder

 

Tucked ‘tween the pages she found something there

A photograph of her image and a lock of her hair

These three treasured possessions that he carried always

On march, into battle, and in the last fray

 

Holding a passage was a silk ribbon of red

That she had pulled from her tresses, her heart full of dread

The marked verses were spotted with the salty tear’s stain

Mute evidence of the hope ‘midst the deep sorrow gained

 

And inscribed near the front in two simple lines

She read what she had written in happier times

“I commend thee to God, Joseph my love,

We shall soon meet again, or else meet above.”

 

These simple words, the work of her pen

Like bread on the water had come back again

For God knew the hour, the minute, the day

When her Joe would be taken and carried away

 

Then the promise of the Lord gave strength to her heart

And she knew those in Christ would not long be apart

For on that bright morning when the last trumpet will sound

The dead will arise, and the lost will be found.

 

-Michaela Richmond

October 20, 2015

Now He Belongs to the Ages

Sesquicentennial of the death of Abraham Lincoln Poem

 

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the death of Abraham Lincoln. As a tribute I have written this poem:

 

Now He Belongs to the Ages

 

Our country rejoices in peace come at last,

Now avarice and strife are confined to the past.

The sword it is shivered and there in its stead,

The olive branch waves o’er the field of the dead.

 

The four years long struggle is finally done,

The dark night is finished and bright dawns the sun,

The cannons have ceased their deafening roar,

While the shriek of the fife resounds never more.

 

Our banner victorious, we broke tyranny’s chain,

And joined North and South together again.

Exult all ye people, from East to the West,

We have withstood the fires and passed through the test!

 

But what is this shadow that’s lending its pall,

And turned sweetest vict’ry to bitterest gall?

The loathsome assassin has fired a blow,

That found its dread mark and laid our Chief low.

 

The Jubilee is quenched on this blackest of days,

And hope fallen cold where our brave Captain lays.

The time of our triumph intended for gladness,

Is drained of its joy and instead changed to sadness.

 

How little we valued while he was yet ours,

And failed to acknowledge the strength of his powers.

When he was among us, his greatness too near,

Now that he’s left us the truth becomes clear.

 

He was man of the people and yet stood alone,

Whom many have seen, but little have known.

Open and frank, yet guarded, contained,

Laughingly cheerful mixed with sadness and pain.

 

He was kind and forgiving, but solid and steady,

Deliberate and patient, yet active and ready,

Humble of character and humble of birth,

That belied his significance and obscured his worth.

 

Oh anomaly of men! Our comprehension failed,

Until his spirit had already passed through the veil.

Now he is counted among the rulers and sages,

He is no longer ours, now he belongs to the ages.

 

-Michaela Richmond

April 15, 2015

Fall Wildfires

fall pic 1

Cold weather has sparked, and kindled a blaze

That burns through the forest till the end of fall’s days

Simply smoldering at first on the tips of the trees

Before insatiably ravaging the whole of the leavesfall pic 2

Tingeing the hillside with colors of light

The orange and the gold ‘midst green shining bright

Then quickly fading away in a blink and a flash

Darkened to brown like the dying ember’s ashfall pic 3

Brittle and cracked like the tome’s dusty page

They flutter to earth with the onset of age

Leaving staunch oak and fair maple bereft of their crown

Verdant pine’s greenery alone to be found

fall pic 4But how odd that in the humble leaf’s passing

Is then that its beauty is so brilliantly flashing

But dormant hope still resides, even in death

Which will awaken ere long when fanned by spring’s breath

fall pic 5So let us still look for hope in the bitterest defeat

Which will soothe the deep hurt and make the gall sweet

For after the bare branch withstands the long cold

Is then the green shoot springs out from the old

fall pic 6

 

Poem written by me, October 26, 2013.

-The Farming Daughter

 

 

My Mother Will Never

Mom & Evie photo by Emily Ann
photo by Emily Ann

My mother will never fully know the importance of her words,

How each and every kindly phrase like armor ’round me girds.

No criticism can hurt me, no rumor stab my back,

With my mother’s uplifting praises no confidence I’ll lack.

 

My mother will never understand her gift of patient love,

How her sacrificial actions point to our God above.

She thinks no one sees her as she does her menial part,

But she doesn’t know she’s teaching me about a servant’s heart.

 

My mother will never be able to grasp the necessity of her prayers,

That all her heartfelt cries to God protect me from life’s snares,

That every single word and cry she utters for my sake

Will help keep me on the narrow path and from the fiery lake.

 

My mother will never clearly see the power of her teaching.

Because of her imparted knowledge for the stars I’ll keep on reaching.

Her wisdom is like rubies that I’ll treasure as a gift,

On the Rock of Truth she’s taught me my life won’t slip or shift.

 

My mother will never realize the aid of her correction,

When her firm but gentle reprimands showed me the right direction.

It may have felt like a battle to teach me right from wrong,

But now I follow Jesus’ truth instead of evil’s throng.

 

My mother will never appreciate the value of her life,

Or the comfort of her warm embrace amidst our fears and strife.

She always underestimates the great power that she wields,

That her smiles are like sweetest balm and her courage like a shield.

 

My mother will never receive the praise that is her rightful due.

For some reason we tend to overlook what is ever in our view.

But I’d like to say on behalf of myself, my sisters, and my brothers,

We would would never be who we are today if it wasn’t for our mother!

 

– Michaela A. Richmond

May 11, 2013

 

To the best mom in the world, Happy Mother’s Day! I ❤ u!

Bury Me in My Boots

Bury me in my boots, yeah that’s the way it’s gonna be,

Cuz’ nothing on earth can take this farm girl life from me.

The days when life is boring are far between and few,

Nowhere else in the world is the sky so big and blue.

We are the land’s caretaker, with planting and harvesting sense,

That’s why the grass is always greener on our side of the fence.

The air is always sweeter with the wind blowing in my hair,

If there’s a more perfect place you’ll have to take me there.

Out here the trucks are bigger, the tractors always red,

No abode was ever dearer than the good old homestead.

We work out in the field putting dried hay into bales,

But employee of the month is the creature with the tail.

Whether climbing in the mow or playing in the mud,

No one ever understands how farming gets in your blood.

The eggs are always warm; the milk is always fresh,

A little piece of heaven if I had to guess.

Sure the days are long and the work and toil is rough,

But we’re farm born and raised and built of sterner stuff.

We can brave the ice and cold and take the heat and sun,

We do our labor of love until the job is done.

We aren’t afraid of slivers or measly paper cuts,

We can carry calves on our shoulders and pull tractors out of ruts.

But even when it’s hard and the push comes to the shove,

This is the life I choose, it is the one I love.

So bury me in my boots under a canopy of sky,

Because I will be a farm girl until the day I die.

-Michaela

September 5, 2012

(photo courtesy of Emily)
(photo courtesy of Emily)

By the way, not only was this post inspired by my love of farming, but also because my favorite pair of rubber boots that were actually cute blew a hole and started to leak. If anyone knows of cute rubber boots that are built for actual farm work (as apposed to just being a fashion statement) please let me know!