When we came here in fifteen or so years ago, Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden was a magical oasis tucked in the middle of a block in Key West, a small forest said to be the last undeveloped acre in the city’s Old Town neighborhood. Full of winding paths and trees it was the rarest of spaces: loved, carefully tended, and shared with the public as a gift of beauty. But even then it felt besieged. In 2012 taxes and expenses became too much and Nancy sold off parcels to developers. From an article in Key News:
The tucked-away entrance to Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden off Free School Lane in the 500 block of Simonton Street will be closed to the public after today, as finances and property taxes have forced Forrester to sell the land parcels that have housed an artist’s cottage and gallery, parrots, orchids, rare palms, meandering pathways and a meditative garden for more than four decades.
These days the garden has been reduced to a small backyard on Elizabeth Street which Nancy uses as a rescue parrot refuge. In the mornings she gives educational lectures on the birds, full of facts about their brilliant behavior, the destruction of their native habitats, and gentle lectures about how we can all protect native parrot habitats by living more lightly on the land (hint: no red palm oil or beef). From behind the fence came the sounds of a swimming pool being installed in the cutdown middle of the former garden. Nancy has life tenancy on the ill-repaired house where she lives with the parrots.
I don’t know the details of the real estate transactions or Forrester’s finances but I find it incredible that Key West couldn’t rally around one of its living treasures. I’m glad that Nancy remains along with her parrots and I’m grateful my kids got a chance to meet her.
Here at Friends Journal, we're very lucky to have some very committed volunteers. Karie Firoozmand and Eileen Redden sends books out to dozens of volunteer readers and pull the results together into our monthly books column. Rosemary Zimmerman reads through all the poetry that comes in, carefully selecting pieces to appear in the magazine. Mary Julia Street reworks the birth notices and obituaries that come in to include more interesting details than you get in most newspaper listings.
Last year we won the "Best in Class" award from the Associated Church Press. We're proud, of course, but I was pleasantly. Compared to most denominational magazines, Friends Journal is crazily understaffed. Forgive the pugilistic metaphor, but these volunteer editors are a big reason we punch above our weight. Cutting through cultural static and the manufactured busyness of modern life and reach seekers is a never-ending challenge. Think about whether you might be led to work with us on this
The extended deadline is January 16th. MLK Day. Learn more at:
Many of us spend lots of time and energy trying to get organized. We KonMari our closets, we strive for inbox zero, we tell our kids to clean their rooms, and our politicians to clean up Washington. But Economist Tim Harford says, maybe we should embrace the chaos. His new book is Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives.
Uh-oh, should we stop being so fussy about cleaned-up rooms. Just last night I spent 45 minutes cajoling and threatening and begging my five year old to clean an amazing block city he had constructed in the living room. Curiously, the link to the podcast was sent to me by my wife.
Famed rocker Neil Young has played hundreds of towns and cities all over the world since starting his illustrious career in the ’60s, but last night marked his first performance in the beautiful mountain town of Telluride, Colorado. Neil Young and Promise Of The Real treated fans to a 21-song performance as part of their first of two consecutive shows at Town Park in Telluride on Friday.
It seems a lot of conversations I’m in these days, on social media and IRL revolve around how we should be responding to Trump’s election. I know there’s a certain danger in being too deterministic, but a lot of answers seem to match where individuals are in the vulnerability scale. Some are counseling patience: let’s see how it goes after the inauguration. Maybe we don’t know the real Donald Trump.
Well, I think we do know the real Trump by now, but what I don’t think we know is the actual flavor of a Trump presidency. Have we ever seen a president elect who was so thin on actual policy? Trump rode his lack of policy experience to victory, of course, citing his independence from the people who govern as one of his chief qualifications. But it’s also his personality: on the campaign trail and in his famous 3am tweets from the toilet he often contradicted himself.
He’s a man of high-concept ideas, not detailed policy. This means the actual policies – and the governance we should and shouldn’t worry about – will depend disproportionately on the people he hires. Right now it seems like he’s trolling lobbyists and a handful of neocon dinosaurs that started the Iraq War on forged documents. He’s bringing the alligators in to “drain the swamp” and in the last 24 hours they’ve already signaled that a lot of key campaign pledges are open for reconsideration. How much we have to worry – and just what we have to worry about – will be clearer as his team assembles.
This weekend was the annual Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey, a two-day celebration of shoreline sentinels during which every working lighthouse is open and staffed by volunteers. The truly committed drive hundreds of miles over the two days to visit the eleven lighthouses open to the public. Because of a scouting weekend for Theo, we just hit one on Saturday and three on Sunday. But these are the last four for our lighthouse-obsessed son Francis, who has been to the others over the course of the summer.
Tinicum Rear Range Light
The family looking off in different directions, of course
Francis goes full nerd talking about construction dates with the lighthouse volunteers.
The Tinicum light is closed because of some structural bowing.
The lighthouse is right in the middle of a bunch of ball fields. A neighbor has a great snow cone stand, a tradition in the town going back to his childhood at least.
The area where the Tinicum Front Range light used to be is now a sliver pocket park along the waterside. Pretty except surrounded by refineries.
Francis at Tinicum Rear Range
Sea Girt Lighthouse
The Sea Girt Lighthouses is house with a light on top.
The residence of the Sea Girt Light is incredibly homey and cute.
Climbing down from the light.
The lights of the Sea Girt light
Francis lectures on the fresnel lens.
Models of NJ’s lighthouse laid out on a map of the state.
Twin Lights of Navesink
Some family (Gregory is behind Julie here)
The giant 10 ton former lens.
Sign for the lens.
Beautiful workmanship on the bilding
Detail from light well
Looking through the window of the south toward toward the north
View from atop the light
Grill metalwork of the cage of the Twin Lights
Theo looking less wise-guy than normal.
Gregory tries the lock to the top of the south tower
The Twin Lights of Navesink are up a high hill, part of the Palisades perhaps, giving our kids a rare hill to roll down.
Francis looks out over the hill top.
The Twin Lights of Navesink
Sandy Hook Light
The Sandy Hook Lighthouse is on a former base.
The lighthouse house houses the museum.
The Sandy Hook is the oldest continuous light in the country, predating the country itself.
The original lighthouse was just the outer mortar. Later brick helped shore it up
Details of bricks
The setting sun coming into the Sandy Hook Light
Detail of stairwell.
Francis looks across the view
Two 1000 watt bulbs shine out over 19 miles because of the fresnel lens.
There’s a lot of cool old structures up on Sandy Hook.
Gregory unsuccessfully tries the heavy door.
Sandy Hook has pretty dunes
NYC skyline from an observation deck on Sandy Hook.
Sun setting, Gregory makes a mini sandcastle before we leave North Jersey.
Last year, the kids and I made a framed handprint collage-like present for Julie and Mothers Day (right). This year I followed it up with a folksy photo of each of the kids holding up hand-drawn letters spelling out “LOVE.” This was inspired by this 2009 post on a blog called The Inadvertent Farmer.
The first step was getting pictures of each kid with a letter. It wasn’t too bad as I just had to take enough to get each one looking cute.
A trickier task was finding a frame to display four pictures. It took the third store before I lucked out. Because of the timing, I had actually printed the pictures before I had the frame and so had fingers crossed that the size would work.
Once made, the absolute hardest was getting a group shot of the kids with Julie holding it!
We’re extending the deadline for the August issue on Quaker Spaces. We’ve got some really interest articles coming in – especially geeky things in architecture and the theology of our classic meetinghouses.
So far our prospective pieces are weighted toward East Coast and classic meetinghouse architecture. I’d love to see pieces on non-traditional worship spaces. I know there newly purpose-built meetinghouses, adaptations of pre-existing structures, and new takes on the Quaker impulse to not be churchy. And worship is where we’re gathered, not necessarily where we’re mortgaged: tell us about your the rented library room, the chairs set up on the beach, the room in the prison worship group…