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.

A Mind is A Terrible Thing To Lose

Our Uncle Henry is 92. Up until about a year ago he was doing pretty well, a pain here, a pain there, but overall things were pretty good. Recently things have become more challenging with his moods, and for our Aunt, who is 90 but you’d never know it, life has become difficult. Their sons felt an evaluation should be made to determine the cause of his anxiety and erratic moods, and it would have to be done within a hospital setting. A psychiatric hospital. I think in some ways Uncle Henry was relieved to know they would “get to the bottom of it” he just didn’t expect it to mean he would be there for a week already, and possibly many more.

My husband and I went to visit him today. The hospital grounds were beautiful and the hallways eerily quiet and empty. We were buzzed into the unit and opposite the front desk sat about 12 people lined up in chairs, including Uncle Henry. I found it rather disconcerting, no one was doing anything, there was no TV in that area, there were no conversations going on. Everyone was just sitting. Uncle Henry saw us and called out hello, and the nurse wheeled us over to an area with tables and chairs looking out onto the grounds. He told us some of his aches and pains had improved, but then began to launch into how the place was like a prison and other complaints, some we determined to be real, some imagined. Upsetting to know that his reality was not reality- that what he was was saying was irrational and not real, but to him was very much so. We spent two hours with him during which we made an attempt to validate his feelings, and to try to steer him to a better place of understanding. He asked our Aunt when she arrived if he was allowed to tell the Doctors he wanted to leave – and would they let him, or would he be held against his will.  The truth is he could leave at anytime, but until the medication they are working to adjust to help him, begins to work, it is not a good idea. His frustration and unhappiness understandable at hearing that, but his inability to really grasp it upsetting.

My Aunt and Uncle have been married over 70 years, and it is heartbreaking for her to see him like this, to have him ask to leave but know she must go home alone. Hardest is seeing him lucid and understanding and then crossing into his own reality and not understanding. The quote attributed to Bette Davis  “Old age ain’t no place for sissies!” came to mind today. It takes strength and will and sometimes giving in and going along with what is beyond our control to “fix,”  as we grow older.

Five Things-A Reblog from The Off Key Of Life

I am sharing the following post  written by my friend George, who writes a wonderful blog called The Off Key Of Life

In his words:

Five Things

He also speaks about a palliative care nurse by the name of Bonnie Ware who works with people every day who are usually three to twelve months from dying.

According to Dr. Bradberry, Bonnie has made a habit of asking her patients, during their conversations, if they had any real regrets in life. The following five responses made the list every time.

** They wish they hadn’t made decisions based on what other people think.
They realized when they lived life for others, they either made poor career choices or compromised  their own morals.

** They wished they hadn’t worked so hard.
We are programmed or taught that hard work leads to certain results or rewards in life; that we are providing for our families, their futures and well-being. But balance has always been the key when it comes to how much time we spend at our jobs. When work compromises a person’s ability to communicate and connect with those we love most, then our priorities need to be reassessed. As the old saying goes, no one on their death-bed ever said, I wish I would have stayed at the office longer. 

** They wish the had expressed their feelings.
We always think we have more time to say the things we need or should say to others. When time runs out, the regret of not having said those things is sometimes difficult to accept. In the words of John Mayer, Say What You Need To Say

** They wish they had stayed in touch with their friends.
With our day-to-day routines pulling us in many different directions, it’s easy to lose track of friends. Then thirty years go by and you wonder how and why it happened. Reach out.

** They wish that had let themselves be happy.
This was an interesting one for me but as I thought about it I understood why it would be there. Michael J Fox was on a magazine cover not long ago; an individual who has battled Parkinson’s disease since he was thirty years old. On the cover he was quoted as saying, Happiness Is A Decision.
He’s absolutely right. We all encounter challenges in our lives. Some more so than others. How we face those challenges and live our lives is our choice. It may not always be easy to accept or live with those challenges but our lives would be much richer and rewarding if we can allow ourselves to be happy.

Happiness is our choice.

Five things that can make a difference in each of our lives. All we need to do is listen to the suggestions of those who truly understand.

 

Give A Smile, Get A Smile

I was out on my morning walk today, and was approaching a car parked in front of a house. As I approached, I could see a woman behind the wheel and a young pre teen or teenage girl in the passenger seat. The woman (mother) was looking at her phone and the young girl was scowling. My immediate thought was “oh boy, that girl does not want to be where she is right now” and it took me back to my teenage days, remembering how sour I could become when forced to be someplace I did not want to be. As I came up alongside the car the girl turned her head and looked at me. I smiled at her and her face broke into a smile, washing the gloom and scowl away.   Immediately the thought popped into my head, give a smile, get a smile. So easy, and so nice to get a smile in return!

Summer Came Early

The temps hit 87 degrees on Sunday so my husband and I headed for the beach! What a treat to sit by the ocean in April. I walked to the edge of the water and found it to be FREEZING, but enjoyed it anyway. Here are some of the sights as we walked a round trip of 5 and 1/2 miles along the boardwalk, crossing through three towns. Back where we started, we parked ourselves in front of the ocean and enjoyed the sound of crashing waves and ocean breezes.

It’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

The town I live in  has long been on the frontlines of diversity. In the 1960s it was the first town in America to integrate its schools voluntarily. It is home to more than 20 synagogues, a Bahai temple, an Ethical Culture Society, an Islamic mosque, a Kingdom of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Syrian Orthodox church, Orthodox Jewish synagogues, Conservative Jewish congregations, Reform Jewish temples, as well as Baptist, Christian. Science, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, and Catholic churches. Our Mayor is Muslim and the Deputy Mayor is an Orthodox Jew.

As I took my walk through town on Monday morning I noticed these signs on many lawns

The message “Hate Has No Home Here” is written in 5 languages along with English. I am proud to live in a place that sends this message in these turbulent times.

Here are some of the other sights I saw, sure signs that Spring is on the way

Then I paused for a moment under this Dogwood that is beginning to bloom. It stands in front of my neighbor Vita’s house. We always call it Vita’s Tree, and think of her when its blooms begin to show. She died about 7 years ago from a brain tumor and suffered a great deal for over a year before she died. I am always happy to see the blooms and remember how much she loved that tree and how happy it made her. Better times.

and of course my feathered friends. This Junco usually leaves come Spring, but I guess he likes the sights too.

Spring is upon us at last!

One Heart

I am sharing the following post written by my cousin, you can find the original here. An uplifting song written and sung by her daughter (and her band Iridesense) She writes; One Heart is all about diversity, and acceptance. It explores the reality of our differences. We all look differently on the outside. Different hair color, skin color, eye color. We even like different things. That’s not what’s most important. If you look at who we truly are, at our core, we are all the same. We need to spread this message to children, and to the world. Especially now when everyone is taking sides. Politically, religiously, etc. We are a multicultural world. Our differences on the outside make us unique, but our hearts need to be unified. One heart. It is also being made into an illustrated book for children.

I have used some of my photos as a backdrop for the song, depicting our outward differences, which often we are judged by, but should not be. Others show the love between people despite their differences. One heart.