In Hilda’s Farmhouse

20180802_152433As I carefully unwrapped each fragile teacup, each plate, I was overwhelmed with emotion.  Each dish is over a hundred years old, hand painted from Denmark, and so beautiful.  How did the young newlywed, the new farm wife, feel as she carefully unwrapped such fine things on her wedding?  A hundred years separates and joins us in a flash of a tea cup.

My beautiful friend, Kat (whom I called mom) had a great love of history, and homesteading, and family.  She knew that I might be the only one to appreciate such things as old linens, and wind up clocks, and this and that, and so for each holiday I was gifted with heirlooms.  Hilda was her grandmother, a farm wife in Iowa and in my home I have her things.  I have never met her but we are connected through time as farm wives.  As women.  As housewives.  We are connected by our love of Kat and by the material things she used that carry memories and love.

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Gunhilda was her given name, but she always went by Hilda.  Her family was Danish and her husband was from Denmark.  A darling looking man named Jorgen, or George once he came to the states.  They were married in 1918 when Hilda was twenty-three years old.

I have read her old postcards often.  I am fascinated by her friends’ scripts and brief notations.  How sweet to receive such correspondence on a snowy day.

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I put on one of the aprons that Hilda made.  They are starting to fray but they are sturdy and lovely in their simple way.  A good sized pocket to gather eggs.

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I will make tea for the ladies that might come by for a visit.  Just as she would have done in that farmhouse past the rows of corn a hundred years ago and just as women will do a hundred years from now.  We are all connected by that nurturing spirit, love of family and community, and of simple things like hand painted dishes so fine.

A Pioneer’s Life For Me

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I was dreading going into the goat pen.  Elsa has mastitis and we have been diligently treating it but that along with her spoiled little girl self makes it incredibly difficult to milk her.  It takes all of my strength to hold her as Doug milks her out.  All of our muscles are shaking by the end and she has kicked the milk bucket a few times.  Our clothes are covered in milk and goat hair and I am often near tears.  Last night as I looked up before going in the pen a beautiful sight transpired.  The same one that made us feel we made the right choice moving out here.  The brightest rainbow arched across the sky, seemingly right above us, from horizon to horizon it promised peace.  Its colors sparkled in the rain that fell in straight glistening showers downward watering the gardens.  The sun shone through it and all was bright.  Today we will tie her back legs.

I love the peacefulness of home.  Now that Emily has moved back in, we drive considerably less.  We feel better in our bustling schedule around this homestead.  I love the heaviness of the cast iron skillet as I prepare eggs fresh from the coop and slice warm bread that I baked.  Dandelions, or other produce later, are mixed into the eggs throughout the season along with homemade cheese.  I hope fresh fruit will join these.  We look across our table and see how much of it we produced.  We are aptly satisfied and proud yet strive to produce nearly everything we consume.  Of course we shall rely on the humble farmer that provides the grains for our table.  The coffee from far away.  The teas exotic.  But our year long sustenance grows each season on this homestead as we produce more and more.

The milk hits the bucket in a sing-song tune as Isabelle stands sweetly on the stand.  She occasionally turns to kiss Doug’s ear.  She loves him and seems to want to impress him.  This year she is giving over a gallon a day of fresh milk.  I pour the warm milk into his coffee once inside.  The creamy morning treat warms the farmer.  These simple pleasures transcend the ordinary ones we knew growing up.  Last night after Doug had fallen asleep I sat in the rocking chair my father gave my mother upon learning that she was with child over forty-one years ago.  I sat in front of the wood stove and let it warm me as I relaxed into my book, the oil lamp highlighting the page, a cup of hot tea by my side.  The house and land is quiet.  My muscles are tired but my mind is joyous.  There is cheese pressing, bread dough rising, and at least the dishes are done.  I am reading an Amish book.

I have sat in an Amish home and read accounts.  They are not unlike mine.  Keeping the world out is something I strive for.  The news stays in its dramatic studios of fear.  Anger, stress, and sadness dissipate quicker here.  We are not immune to financial wonderings and relationship woes but here in this setting they work themselves out and the spirit is restored quickly.  We pray openly here and are thankful for our blessings.  We call on the Lord for signs, for help, and for comfort and receive them as we listen softly in the night by oil lamp and quiet.

The aprons hang on the wall and tell stories, I decide which one I wish to don this day.  I have long skirts, and long slips, and layers to make them stand out because they are comfortable, and feminine, and fine.  The apron pocket holds what I need as I bustle from clothes line to barn yard to kitchen.  Three meals a day grace the table and the children always know they can come home to a hot meal, peace and quiet, and an escape from the world beyond.

The counties out here argue over fracking, over wind mills, over water.  Not here! they say.  Yet folks will not give up their luxuries and want these means of fancies and want destruction to get them so long as they cannot see them.  We work on our own solution, to use less.  To find alternative ways.  And the classical music plays softly in the kitchen and the electric kettle often gets turned on but bird song could fill the musical need and a kettle whistling from wood stove could suffice.  And the world could howl outside our door but our respite remains here in our pioneer ways.  I put on my sun bonnet and head outdoors to plant.

Farmgirl Decor

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“What do you want to be when you grow up?”  “I want to be a mommy, and a housewife, a teacher, a nurse, a veterinarian, a singer, a dancer, a model, a nun, a fashion designer, an interior designer, a writer, and live in the country.”  That was always my response growing up.  I would rattle off at least five starting with a mommy, a housewife, a teacher, a writer, and then one of the others.  I have never answered with just one job.  And I never will!  I guess being an herbalist kind of combined the nurse and vet.  Teaching herbalist classes and dance classes covers the teaching.  Karaoke every Saturday gives me my diva fix.  The nun thing didn’t work out though I still think it would be have been wonderful.  I paint pictures of them instead.  I am a writer.  I shared with you my fashion designing and now I’d like to share my interior designing.

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Home is where the heart is, someone said, and it is also the place where family gathers, we rest, we dream, we work, we refuel.  It is a direct reflection of our soul.  No matter how big or small the house may be, it speaks of you.  You can use your home to help you achieve your dreams by setting up a space where it can be a mirror of what you love and aspire to.  It can inspire and comfort.  Your emotions will be notably different in a messy place as opposed to a clean place.  Too clean of a place can make one uncomfortable.  Colors can bring out aspirations and create calm or passion.  Items can invoke good memories or clutter.

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This is my house.  It is not really my house.  I rent it from a lovely older couple who could no longer live here.  It is almost a hundred years old and speaks of remodels and old bones.  Of flood survivals and pioneers selling their water rights.  Of old gardens and housewives.  Of ancient chickens and attempted fruit trees.  Of laughter and hope.  It feels good here.  The color was a dirty lime in the living room.  It did nothing for my happy levels.  I painted it peach.  I sat there crying, for it was so bright in the lit up room that I couldn’t function.  It is now cinnamon.  Lush and comforting.  Not too bright when the sun bathes the room, and very romantic and secure when the candle light dances around the corners in the evenings.

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We realized we were re painting over wall paper, which seems such a shame.  In Emily’s room we discovered a chimney that had been painted over and in a top built-in cupboard sparkled the original wallpaper.  Pink, gold swirls, elegant.  Who’s room was that?  It’s about to be home to Emily and a little one next month and so another occupant puts their imprint on the space.  Touching it with memories and dreams.

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This is not my homestead but I have filled it as if it is.  For, even on my own homestead, my stay may be brief, or natural disaster could seize, or any number of things could happen.  So, I feel that while we are here, it is ours.  My love is New Mexico.  Deep in my soul, I belong there but may never live there.  The colors, the food, the history, the architecture all sings to me.  Lulls me.  I am saddened if I think too long on it so I have turned the living room into Santa Fe North.  Pieces I picked up in Santa Fe or from my friend, Marco, at his shop Camino Real for not many pesos.  Craig’s List finds and antique stores along with Doug’s grandma’s fabulous table that seats around sixteen fit perfectly in the space.  Nothing cost me over $200 except the piano.

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The living room still holds its farmhouse flair and the other rooms maintain their farmhouse dress as well.  Simplicity is now pulsing through my veins and a great many truck loads of items went to charity as more pile up in the garage in my attempts to only have what brings me supreme joy.  The paintings are all my own work and I love them for their stories they tell so that I can remain silent.  I do not love overhead lights, in fact I scream as if I were a vampire and turn the lights off throughout the house should they be on.  Twinkly lights frequent the space long after Santa is gone.  Candles and oil lamps and bright sunny windows do the rest.  Pictures of vintage farm posters.  I adore these.  I will have a farm.

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What do I want to be when I grow up now?  A mom, a housewife, a grandma, a college professor, a writer, and a farmer.  May we always have a home to come home to filled with love, inspiration, and laughter.