The Weekly Smile

My weekly smile came yesterday as I walked through one of my favorite local places not far from my home. There were Barn Swallows swooping and darting around me, landing to pick up sticks and mud to build nests. Two Geese meandered by with their one little gosling between them. I spotted a duck I had never seen before, later looking him up and finding out he was a Common Goldeneye. Two Cormorants sat sunning themselves on a log in the river. So many smiles all at 8:30 on a warm, blue skied, Sunday morning.

What made you smile this week?

Black & White Sunday: Music

Paula has chosen Music as the theme for Black & White Sunday this week. My husband started taking piano lessons about eight years ago- he had never learned as a child. I am fortunate to listen to him practice every night, filling the house with music. Our piano technician,as they are called these days, as opposed to tuners, has become a good friend and always plays for us before he leaves. Here is a small sample of Loren’s playing along with images of him and my husband.

Music

Share Your World

How many languages do you you speak?

I only speak English. I took French in school for a few years and can still put together sentences and remember basic words. My husband and I  took Yiddish classes at the Yiddish Institute in New York City many years ago. He grew up speaking it at home, I did not. He had never learned proper grammar and sentence structure so for him it was also a learning experience. I am still able to speak a little, and understand, but not using it, you lose it. I also learned American Sign Language years ago and volunteered in a local school for the Deaf in order to use it.

I Love You in ASL

What are you reading, watching, listening to, eating?

Reading: Mostly blogs and I save up my newspapers and read them over the weekend. Watching: Just finished up the season of Billionaire on Showtime, a great series. Also watch the Real Housewives of NYC- I love to see the vacations they take and the places they live- not to mention the cat fights.

Listening to: Austin Plaine is my new favorite to listen to.

What was the last photo you took with your phone?

An Iris that I passed while on a walk-they were planted at the corner of someone’s property next to the sidewalk. Too beautiful to pass by without snapping a photo.

What is your favorite time of day?

Early morning just as the sun is rising. I love the quiet, seeing the sky change colors as dawn is breaking. That first cup of coffee. Especially at the beach.

Grateful everyday. Always.

Share Your World

Craftsman Farm-The Home of Gustav Stickley

Yesterday we visited the home of Gustav Stickley, a furniture maker in the Craftsman style during the early 1900’s. Here is some background:

Gustav Stickley made popular the Craftsman style of  furniture in the early 1900’s, a departure from ornate Victorian style. This new furniture reflected his ideals of simplicity, honesty in construction, and truth to materials. Unadorned, plain surfaces were enlivened by the careful application of colorants so as not to obscure the grain of the wood and mortise and tenon joinery was exposed to emphasize the structural qualities of the works. Hammered metal hardware, in armor-bright polished iron or patinated copper emphasized the handmade qualities of furniture which was fabricated using both handworking techniques and modern woodworking machinery . His firm’s work, both nostalgic in its evocation of handicraft and the pre-industrial era and proto-modern in its functional simplicity, was popularly referred to as being in the Mission style, though Stickley despised the term as misleading. In 1903 he changed the name of his company again, to the Craftsman Workshops, and began a concerted effort to market his works — by then including furniture as well as textiles, lighting, and metalwork — as Craftsman products. Ultimately, over 100 retailers across the United States represented the Craftsman Workshops.

Those ideals – simplicity, honesty, truth – were reflected in his trademark, which includes the Flemish phrase Als Ik Kan inside a joiner’s compass. The phrase is generally translated ‘to the best of my ability.’

Stickley began to acquire property in New Jersey between 1905 and 1907, purchasing 650 acres of farmland in Morris Plains. He wanted to establish a boarding school for boys. Craftsman Farms was designed to include vegetable gardens, orchards, dairy cows and chickens. The main house there is constructed from chestnut logs and stone found on the property.

As he wrote in The Craftsman:

There are elements of intrinsic beauty in the simplification of a house built on the log cabin idea. First, there is the bare beauty of the logs themselves with their long lines and firm curves. Then there is the open charm felt of the structural features which are not hidden under plaster and ornament, but are clearly revealed, a charm felt in Japanese architecture….The quiet rhythmic monotone of the wall of logs fills one with the rustic peace of a secluded nook in the woods.

Although the main house at Craftsman Farms was initially conceived of as a clubhouse for students, lack of interest in the school prompted Stickley to live there with his family instead. The planned school never became a reality. By 1913, changing tastes and the financial strain of his new twelve-story Craftsman Building in Manhattan, conceived as a department store, began to take their toll; in 1915 he filed for bankruptcy, stopping publication of The Craftsman in December 1916 and selling Craftsman Farms in 1917.

All that remains is 30 acres of the original farm, highways and homes have taken over where once stood a vineyard, a pasture and fruit groves. The house that was built using chestnut logs still remains, with many of the original furnishings.