Monday, April 30, 2012

Ode to our Nation

It was the 30th of April, 1789 on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City, when George Washington was inaugurated into office as the First President of the United States.  It is interesting to compare this important date in our nation's history to the current state of our political affairs.  As 44th
President, Barack Obama is the first black man in 233 years to hold this lofty position, elected under the tenet of an 'unwavering believe in the ability to unite people around a politics of purpose.'  To contrast this with the election of 1789 it is important to note there was no popular vote at that time.  As such, the Electoral College chose the candidates with each college member casting two votes, for a total of 69.  Washington was elected unanimously, followed by John Adams who served as the first Vice President.  It was Commander-in-Chief Washington's ability to lead the Continental Army to victory over England during the Revolutionary War from 1775-1783 that earned him the highest acclaim and respect within the new nation.   His influence in the writing of the Constitution (1787) contributed to the popular title  'Father of his Country' as he won acceptance for his leadership style and his vision.  He ranks third amongst the most influential US Presidents, behind Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Washington was not a member of any political party and hoped that political parties would NOT be formed, fearing conflict would undermine Republicanism.  He believed the United States of America should be built along 'Republican' lines using federal power to effect change.  He sought a national government to 'preserve liberty, improve infrastructure, open the Western lands, promote commerce, found a permanent Capital, reduce regional tensions and promote a spirit of American nationalism.' Slavery was opposed on moral and economic grounds and as such he was the only Founding Father to free all his slaves upon his death in 1799.  His eulogy honored him as the "first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen." 

George Washington -  symbol for liberation and nationalism;  have we honored his vision?


Monday, April 23, 2012


'I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things.' - Willa Cather, 1873-1947, American Author

Malus 'Mary Potter' in glorious bloom!

April blossoms welcoming me home .... Life can be truly beautiful. Happy Spring!

Monday, April 16, 2012

S is for Stangl

Stangl Pottery of Trenton, NJ was initially produced simultaneously with Fulper Pottery of Flemington, NJ and incorporated in 1955 as the Stangl Pottery Company. The origins are somewhat unclear except to note that a utilitarian pottery factory in the same location was begun by Samuel Hill in 1805, producing drain pipes, storage crocks and jars all from the lovely red earthenware clay inherent in that region of Jew Jersey. Abram Fulper acquired that company in the 1860's and by 1900 the Fulper Pottery Company became renowned for its Vasekraft art pottery line. In 1910, Fulper hired ceramic engineer Johan Martin Stangl from Hoff, Germany to develop new pottery shapes and glazes, which catapulted sales due to its popularity. Stangl was responsible for the company's signature line of open stock solid-color dish ware, known as Fulper Fayence, with colors such as Chinese Ivory, Colonial Blue, Silver Green and Persian Yellow. He became CEO in 1928 upon the death of William Fulper and saw the company through devastating fires and relocation in Flemington. The names Fulper and Stangl were both used as marks on the pottery, with the Stangl name becoming most common by the 1940's, at which time hand painted florals became the rage. Johan Martin Stangl died in 1972, with his estate running the factory until it was purchased by Pfaltzgraff in 1978. As Stangl Pottery is widely available and affordably priced, the hunt for it will not disappoint. Have fun!
Proudly, Made in the USA.

Bittersweet Pattern, handpainted


Monday, April 9, 2012

Silent (Not) Spring

Celebrating 50 Years of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

This book challenged the practices of agricultural scientists and the US government by calling for a change in the way chemicals were used in the United States. Carson was especially concerned about the use of synthetic pesticides, many of which had been developed through government programs. Specifically targeted was the aerial spraying of DDT to eradicate fire ants, which concerned private landowners as well as the Washington DC Chapter of the Audubon Society. Her research uncovered documentation supporting damaging physiological effects of the spray on birds and animals, as well as its toxic connection with cancer. Though Rachel Carson was attacked by the chemical industry as an alarmist, she courageously defended her convictions and research relating to pesticide poisoning. Ironically, she was not to live a long life and succumbed to breast cancer at the all too young age of 56.

Thank you, Rachel for your courageous strength of conviction. We are eternally grateful.

Rachel Carson, 1907 - 1964


Monday, April 2, 2012

R is for Rowentrees Pottery

Rowentrees Pottery, Blue Hill, ME, was founded by Adelaide Pearson, the daughter of a wealthy Boston manufacturer and politician. Adelaide was an archaeologist, author, lecturer, cinematographer, philanthropist and world traveler. Interestingly, she drove ambulances during WWI and her love for travel as well as endless means allowed her the opportunity to do the world tour - twice! In the mid 1800's, the village of Blue Hill was settled by shipbuilders from Newburyport, Salem and Andover MA. By the early 1900's, Blue Hill became known as a colony for Rusticators - families escaping the heat of the cities to spend cool summer days on the rustic coast of Maine. They brought a new way of life to the area and expanded the cultural and recreational activities despite the fact that Rusticators aimed to lived simpler lives, albeit with most of the amenities of their well to do, comfortable American lifestyles. Countless elegant 'cottages' were built in the area with carriage rides, sailing, hiking, tennis, golf and elegant parties to be had in the 'relaxed' ways of Maine. Travel was to and from Maine by great steamships and trains, which often took overnight trips to transport Rusticators from NY to Ellsworth.
In 1939 Adelaide Pearson met and befriended Mahatma Gandhi, who visited her home and pottery studio in Blue Hills, Maine. He commented on the absolute beauty and spiritual nature of the place where Adelaide created the lovely pieces of Art Pottery known as Rowentrees. It was a name chosen for the lovely ash trees that surrounded the entrance gate designed and built by Adelaide herself. The clay soil, rich in copper manganese and iron leant depth and rare color to her pottery pieces, which subsequently attributed to their status world wide. Studio and art classes were offered once the kiln was completed in 1934 and continued to be made until sometime in the 1950's. Rowentrees pieces may still be available through the Rowentrees Pottery Union. Happy Hunting!


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