Need a friend?


To Offer Friendship

Today I will be a friend.
I will reach out to one person
and invite them into my heart.
I will open the gate and let them
enter as they wish, at their own pace,
or even not at all, if that’s their choice.
I will offer love and the space
of stillness and curiosity.
I will bless their life with secret words.
If they harm me or never come back,
I will still have been a friend
and I will be ready for my next chance
to offer belonging.

Mary and Jesus in Ocean Grove - 2

History wrapped in a few Christmas Bows

History - Outhouse

This past Sunday I stopped by the holiday open house at the  Hopper-Goetschius Museum in Upper Saddle River, NJ. Inspired by Ed Mooney’s History Challenge, I decided to explore a bit of my own local history and share it with you. The Hopper-Goetschius Museum includes the house originally built on this site in 1739, as well as a few other historic buildings from the area that were relocated here for preservation, including the outhouse above.

When I moved to the Pascack Valley area six months ago, I noticed pretty quickly the number of historic buildings that dot the hilly landscape. The area, in the northeast corner of New Jersey, was settled in colonial times, original by the Dutch. Hence the Dutch barn (below).

History - Barn

This barn was originally built by a Van Riper, and then owned by a Tice. Both families owned extensive farms in the region that remained open into the 1980s and 90s. The Van Riper farm began in the 1600s and had a 300 year run. Both farms opened farm stands that expanded into “country destinations” for people living in the more suburban and urban areas of NJ and NY, especially in the pumpkin and apple season.

History - cookie house

Stepping inside historical buildings always transports me instantly to another time. I was so busy steeping in the “sense” of the place, taking pictures, that I forgot to get the details on this particular building (above), which was probably no more than 15 x 25 feet.  I just imagined Christmas in simpler times.

Here’s a view from the kitchen, which is a separate building, intentionally detached in those days to prevent the common kitchen fire from burning down the main house.

History - view from kitchen

The kitchen hearth…

History - kitchen hearth

The oven, where on this day they were baking gingerbread cookies…

History - kitchen oven

The well, covered with a plank, stones, and a bucket, just outside the kitchen door…

History - well

A washing “machine.” Actually, just a tub to hold water, and a hand-cranked wringer. The modern intersection in the distance marks an original colonial crossroads.

History - washing machine

The kitchen building, with a museum visitor checking out the washing machine…

History - kitchen building

The original house (stone) and the later addition as the family grew…

History - house

The barn door, decorated for Santa’s visit…

History - Barn door

Someone meets Santa for the first time.

History - Santa sleigh


And a final piece of “history” for the day… two best friends who realized the night before this history excursion that it’s been 40 years of friendship. Crazy.

History - friends