Moments – Ribbons From the Past by Valerie Fain

Ribbons From the PastMy recent adventure begins while I was driving near my house; I stopped at a yard sale, a pretty white cottage I had admired in my neighborhood. I was looking for antiques and vintage items and I was excited and hopeful I would find some treasures. It was a bit disappointing but one box intrigued me. It was a small box of old ribbons. I paid the full price of $10.00 and told the woman how I had admired her home. She thanked me but offered no words about the box. A few days later I opened the box again and noticed a note inside which read “Old Time Ribbons, Grace Lyons Kirkland, hat millinery Bloomfield Indiana”. I knew the ribbons were very old and suddenly I visualized Grace in her hat shop. A shop surrounded by straw hats, bolts of fabric, satin, lace, and velvet ribbons. It felt strange to touch the ribbons, I thought about time travel, imagining and wishing that by just rubbing the soft velvet that I could be transported back to the 1800s. I wondered about Grace, so I Googled her name and there she was – listed in the cemetery in Springfield, Oregon.

A few days later my daughter Juliette and I went to the old Laurel Grove cemetery to look for Grace’s grave. I was especially curious of the fact Grace died in 1898 at only 40. We searched for an hour and only found her husband Arthur Kirkland’s headstone but no sign of Grace. Disappointed and driving home, my daughter, glancing up from her phone, suddenly burst out “I found the sister, she’s buried by her sister! Turn around, Mom, we have to go back!”

So, I turned the car around, we hiked up the hill again, this time looking for the Lyon’s family plot.  After another hour only Grace’s mother and brother were to be found. I wondered if she might be buried under the exquisite white rose-bush near her brother’s grave; it had piercing thorns but a magnificent smell. Grace was the first in her immediate family to die; she died before her husband, mother, sisters, and brother. In my mind I pictured a monumental headstone – an angel crying with huge wings that a thief may have carted off. Her husband was a wealthy stock man who refused flowers at his funeral. I wondered if he was still brooding over the death of his beloved wife as he died of at the young age of 52. How could his headstone be so substantial, yet nothing for Grace?

I researched millinery shops, hats of the same era and the city that Grace lived Bloomfield Indiana. In the 1870s, hats were worn hung to the side, draped with silk or velvet ribbons. It was said a woman wouldn’t be caught dead without her hat. The purchase of a custom-made hat would be something that most women would have to save up for, as it would have been a substantial sum, beautiful adornments of velvets, lace and satins came in exquisite colors to set off the wearer’s eyes and frame the face. French ribbons were of such value that they might be recycled, taken from the wealthy woman’s outcast and saved for a less fortunate woman who could not afford the luxury of a beautiful new hat but still grateful for someone else’s hand-me-downs.

I decided to go back to the little white house, hopeful for answers about Grace. There, standing on the front porch watering flowers with her perfectly coiffed hair was a pretty petite woman. I approached her with a smile and blurted out my story of the ribbons. She welcomed me into her home and told me her name is Theda, named after Theda Bara. I chuckled to myself as she told me how her dad named her after the Hollywood Vamp and she wondered if I had heard of the famous film star. I told her I had and we proceeded to have a fabulous afternoon reveling in conversation about her antique acquisitions.

But disappointment again set in regarding the box of ribbons. According to Theda, she had acquired those years ago at a yard sale. She told me how she had a craft store at one time and that’s why she purchased the old box of ribbons. At 89 years old, Theda is still quite sharp in her thinking. She showed me photos of her husband (who was the love of her life), her children, and fabulous paintings adorning the walls that she herself had painted when her eyesight was a bit better.

Years ago someone had carefully penned Grace’s brief story on a note and placed in inside the box, hopeful that someone might treasure the ribbons also.  Now, over 100 years have gone by and, to some, this story may sound silly. After all, they’re just ribbons — but that box of ribbons brought together two like-minded women to share their stories. And funny enough, I have a five foot painting of Theda Bara in my home!

Valerie Fain
Valerie Fain, a thoroughly charming, beautiful and talented woman I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting recently, is the co-owner of Her delightful, true story that reveals a century old treasure of a milliner, and of lace, satin and velvet ribbons, is reposted with permission from her blog 1909ventilo.

I love old things! I’ve been collecting Vintage clothes and antiques since I was practically a kid! I love researching the Edwardian era. … I am so… sentimental …my family and friends cease to talk to me at times. I love period movies: Horseman on the Roof, Wuthering Heights, The Woodlanders, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Bleak house, and John Adams. My favorite actress is Juliette Binoche, in the movie Chocolat. I know it’s just a movie but, I feel if people would act that kind the world would be a better place to live.

I am on a constant mission to find treasures; I love sentimental one-of-a-kind items!  I sell Vintage clothes, purses, antiques and lots of incredible jewelry.  Originally I started this blog for myself, my little space to keep all my research notes, price realized and my photo creations. It seems there is more to this blog now, hopefully you can feel my love for the past.

Moments – It’s a bit of a flash. NPR Interview with Cynthia Rylant


Cynthia Rylant is the prolific author of over 100 children’s books. When asked about her writing process, she simply  believes it is a gift, the gift of language, she’s been blessed with…

“I really can’t explain it. When I first started writing, you know, I tried picture books. And, you know, I soon discovered that when I write, it’s a bit of a flash. It’s all of a sudden and kind of inspiration. And that’s true for all of the picture books. The poetry books, I’ll write a book of poetry in a day, and I’ll be done with it.”

In a “moment” an idea for a poem or book comes to her, which she sets to writing. If a short piece, the storytelling process may take only a day to complete.

The following is an excerpt from her November 10, 2013 interview with NPR host Arun Rath, How Cynthia Rylant Discovered The Poetry Of Storytelling”:

NPR -Cynthia Rylant is a renowned author who has written for all age groups and been honored with both Caldecott and Newbery prizes for her work.

Her latest book, God Got a Dog, is a collection of poems that only took her one day to write.

“One poem … just came out of the blue, and I sat down and I wrote it. And then after I finished writing it, I got an idea for another God poem, and so I wrote that one. And so it started in the morning and then by the end of the day, I was finished writing the book,” she tells All Things Considered host Arun Rath.

Driven by these bursts of inspiration, Rylant says her talent was “bestowed” rather than learned, and shares how her modest and isolated childhood shaped her work.

Here is the audio recording in full (6 mins 38 secs): NPR’s Arun Rath Interviews Cynthia Rylant.

Moments – Journeys with the Messiah by Michael Belk

“Regarding that “moment,” the idea for Journeys with the Messiah came to me in 2004 when I opened a gallery in Watercolor Resort in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.  It was a peaceful place and I thought we should make it more of a sanctuary where vacationers could come for a moment of peace. Then, a thought came to me, “What if all of the images on our walls were depictions of messages from the Bible.”

A Step Away

A Step Away

Over time, that idea grew. I thought about it, talked about it, but did nothing about it until late 2007 as I was about turn 60 in early 2008.  I asked my wife, “What if I die I and I have not done this? God has trained me for 30 years; given me the talent, the vision and the financial resources; what excuse would I offer?” That was the moment we decided to put my career on hold and pursue this dream that I believe he placed on my heart.

Lighten The Load

Lighten The Load

The project was planned throughout 2008, photographed in late 2008 and released in the fall of 2009. I have not returned to my career as a fashion photographer and Journeys with the Messiah Foundation, Inc has just filed the documents for approval as a non-profit corporation.” – Michael Belk, Journeys with the Messiah – A Fashion Photographer Explores the Modern-day Relevance of Jesus




For more information about Michael Belk’s Journey Project visit his website Journeys with the Messiah.