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Planning Spring Journal Entries of the Upper Delaware River Region • Serving PA, NJ & NY

February • March 2020

February • March 2020

Publisher & Editor

Amy Bridge

Creative Director

Jimmy Sheehan

Associate Editor

B’Ann Bowman


Amy Bridge John Streb Barbara Jean Avery Susan Mednick


Michael Hartnett,Thomas Eccleston, Kristen Hamilton, Robin Fohl, Eric Francis, Norma Ketzis Bernstock, Robert Bowman


The tri-state upper Delaware River highlands and valleys are a place of rare beauty…. Seeing the region and living in it almost aren’t enough. Such beauty should be captured on canvas or film so that one can truly appreciate it, glimpse it in the quiet of an art gallery or museum, or between the pages of a poetry book or literary sketch. The Journal Group’s mission is to capture these momentary snapshots of beauty graphically and through the written word. We celebrate our area and the uniqueness of the people who live and work in the tri-state region. From Pike to Wayne and Monroe to Lackawanna Counties in Pennsylvania, upriver to Sullivan County and on to Orange County in New York, and to the headwaters of the Wallkill River and along Sussex County’s rolling hills in New Jersey, with quaint, historic towns and hamlets at the center, the Journal Group opens its doors to our communities, businesses and organizations, to serve as a communicative journal of all that we have to offer for those who live here and for those who love to visit us, too.

Publication Information

The Journal Group publishes The Journal ten times a year and distributes it in eight counties in PA, NJ and NY. We assume no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts. Contents may not be reproduced in any form without prior written permission. We reserve the right to refuse to print advertisements that we deem inappropriate. All rights reserved.

Uniting PA, NJ & NY PO Box 1026 • Milford, PA 18337 • 908.578.3138



February • March 2020


• art •


• history •


• food •


• life •


• nature •

Ken Druse Expressing Rights

Craving Chocolate

Saige’s Story Natural Pampering

6 • calendar 10 • journal entry 11 • poetry 20 • local eats 32 • of note 35 • signs

Planning Spring Journal Entries of the Upper Delaware River Region • Serving PA, NJ & NY

February • March 2020

Cover Line Spend time in the garden with renowned gardening book author Ken Druse. Photo by Ken Druse 5

Calendar February 1st

Saturday 4–6 p.m.

...... .......................

Celebration of Black History: Opening Reception. Artists’ Market Community Center, Shohola, PA. History of black art. Live music, refreshments. Info: www.barry

February 2nd

Sunday 1:00–4:15 p.m. ...... .......................

North East Watercolor Society Reception. Orange Gallery Hall, SUNY Orange, Middletown, NY. Music, refreshments, watercolor demonstration. Info: 607.637.3412,

February 3rd–4th Monday–Tuesday

...... .......................

Special Olympics of New Jersey Winter Games. Mountain Creek, Vernon, NJ. Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, figure skating, snowboarding, snowshoeing, speed skating. Info: 609.896.8000,

February 4th & 5th

Tuesday 5–6 p.m. & Wednesday 9–10 a.m. ...... .......................

Open House: New Jersey Youth Corps. Project Self-Sufficiency, Newton, NJ. Learn more about the Youth Corp. Also February 11th & 12th. New program begins March 9th. Info: 973.940.3500, www.projectself

February 6th

Thursday 6:30–7:45 p.m. .............................

Beyond Susan B. Anthony. Albert Wisner Public Library, Warwick, NY. Lecture with Professor Susan Lewis on winning the vote for women in New York State. Info: 845.986.1047,

February 7th


Winterfest 2020. Lackawanna State Park, N. Abington Township, PA. Free. Demonstrations of dog sledding, ice fishing, kids crafts, food & drink. Info: 570.945.3239, Noon


Winter BBQ & Tricky Tray. Delaware Valley High School, Milford, PA. Benefits Habitat for Humanity of Pike County. Calling at 2 p.m. Info: 570.828.1623, Facebook: Habitat for Humanity of Pike County, PA. 12:30–2:30 p.m.


Kids-N-Goats. Cornell Cooperative Extension Sullivan County, Extension Education Center, Liberty, NY. 4-H program. Guest speakers, hands-on activities, care of goats. $5/4-H members; $8/non-members. Info: 845.292.6180 ext 112, 2–4 p.m.


Teen Art Show. 2 Alices Coffee Lounge, Newburgh, NY. Hosted by Safe Homes of Orange County. Refreshments available for purchase. Info: 845.562.5365 ext 131, safe 6–9 p.m.


Celebrating the Arts: Opening Reception. ARTery, Milford, PA. Works by regional artists. Exhibit on display through March. Info: 570.409.1234, arterygallerymilford. com. 7:00–8:30 p.m.


Snow Moon Night Hike. Kittatinny Valley State Park, Andover, NJ. $7. 3-mile hike, hot chocolate, moon pies. Pre-registration: 973.786.6445.

Friday 6 p.m.

7–11 p.m.

Chamber Gala: Masquerade Ball. Skyview Golf Club, Sparta, NJ. Hosted by Sussex County Chamber of Commerce. Dinner, dancing. $150. Info: 973.579.3031, www.

Swinging the Night Away. Milford American Legion, Milford, PA. Valentine’s Day dinner & dance. Presented by American Legion Auxiliary Post 139. Music by the Little Big Band Group. $30. Info: 570.296.8805.


February 8th


Saturday 10 a.m.–2 p.m.

February 8th–9th

Eagle Watch Bus Tour. Upper Delaware Visitor Center, Lackawaxen, PA. Hosted by Delaware Highlands Conservancy. Scenic drive on heated bus. $25/non-members, $15/members. Info: 570.226.3164, www.




Wally Ice Fest. Lake Wallenpaupack, PA. Hosted by Chamber of the Northern Poconos. Ice Tee Golf Tournament, hockey on the lake, curling demonstration & more. Info: 570.226.3191,

10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

February 9th

Watercolor Workshop. Mamakating Library, Wurtsboro, NY. Taught by Chris Parrow. $5. All levels of painters welcome. Info: 845.888.8004,




11 a.m.–3 p.m.

Sunday 2:00–3:30 p.m. Winter Trek. Lusscroft Farm, Wantage, NJ. Hike is free but donations appreciated for restoration efforts. Info:

February • March

February 13th

February 22nd

Thursday 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Saturday 3 p.m.

Community Lunch. Good Shepherd Parish Hall, Milford, PA. Lunch, fun & good conversation. Free. Hosted by Ecumenical Food Pantry. Info: 570.296.8123.

Quaternaglia Guitar Quartet. Mamakating Library, Wurtsboro, NY. Performance by Brazilian group. 10 a.m.–noon: master class. Free. Info: 845.888.8004, mamakat


February 14th

.............. ...............

Friday 10 a.m.–noon

5–8 p.m.

Heartwarming Hike & Potluck. Kittatinny Valley State Park, Andover, NJ. 3-mile hike. Free but bring an appetizer. Pre-registration: 973.786.6445.

Vegan “Game” Dinner. PEEC, Dingmans Ferry, PA. Board games & a delicious plant-based meal. $25, $10/kids 10 and under. Info: 570.828.2319, www.


February 14th–17th

.............. ...............


7 p.m.

President’s Day Family Camp Weekend. PEEC, Dingmans Ferry, PA. Cross-country skiing, animal tracking, nature hikes, snow tubing, campfire and more. $225, discounts for children. Info: 570.828.2319,

Winter Concert Series. Sugar Loaf Performing Arts Center, Sugar Loaf, NY. West Point Band. An evening of world-class music. Info: 845.610.3485, www.sugarloafpacny. com.


February 15th

.............. ...............

Saturday 6:30–10:30 p.m.

8 p.m.

Fighting for Duffy: Beefsteak Dinner. Sussex County Fairgrounds, Richards Building, Augusta, NJ. Hosted by Sussex County PBA Local 138. $50. Catered by the Brown Stone. Info: 973.219.3220, pbalocal138. org.

Share Your Heart: Triversity’s Got Talent. Best Western Inn at Hunt’s Landing, Matamoras, PA. $20. Benefits the Ecumenical Food Pantry of Pike County. Info: 570.832.4955,

February 15th-16th

Sunday 3:00–4:30 p.m.




Winter Carnival. Thomas P. Morahan Waterfront Park, Greenwood Lake, NY. Snow tubing, ice events, contests, polar plunge, food, drink, entertainment. Info: 845.275.3402,

February 16th

Sunday 6 a.m.–3 p.m. .............................

King of the Ice. White Lake Fire Company, White Lake, NY. Ice fishing contest, sponsored by Sullivan County Conservation Club. $15/adults, kids 15 & under/free. Info: 1:30 p.m.


Polar Bear Plunge. Fairview Lake YMCA Camp, Newton, NJ. A quick dip in Fairview Lake. $25 per polar bear. Registration required. Info: 973.383.9282, fairviewlake

.............. ...............

February 23rd

.............. ...............

SUNY Orange Community Orchestra. Historic Paramount Theatre, Middletown, NY. $5–$10. Info: 845.346.4195, middle 4–6 p.m.

.............. ...............

Sunday Soiree: Mostly Jazz Trio + 1. Columns Museum, Milford, PA. Jazz cabaret, wine & cheese. $30. Hosted by the Pike County Historical Society. Also March 8th: Ronny Whyte Trio, Jazz cabaret; March 15th: Patricia Durante & Debra Martin, Songs of Broadway. Reservations: 570.296.8126, pikemuse@ptd. net.

February 27th

Thursday 4–6 p.m. .............. ...............

February 21st

High Tea for Hospice. Lafayette House, Lafayette, NJ. $50. Benefits Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice. Info: 973.383.0115,


March 1st

Friday 6 a.m.–6 p.m. Heart-a-Thon. Catskill Regional Medical Center, Harris, NY. Presented by Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association. Guest speakers, tips on heart health, health care demonstrations. Benefits the Medical Center’s Cardio-Pulmonary Department. Info: wsul. com.

Sunday Noon–4 p.m. .............. ...............

Chili & Wing Cookoff. Waterfront at Silver Birches, Hawley, PA. Live music, beer tasting. $20. Benefits Victims Intervention Program. Info: 570.226.4388, silver 7

Calendar March 5th

March 17th



Thursday 7 p.m.

Determined Spirit: The Story of Amelia Earhart. Sparta Presbyterian Church, Sparta, NJ. Character portrayal. $10. Also March 19th, noon, Jackie Kennedy Onassis: Preservation and Grace, Sparta Ambulance Building, Sparta, NJ. Portrayal and tea lunch. $35–$40; March 26th, 7 p.m. Carrie Chapman Catt: Founder of League of Women Voters, Presbyterian Church, Sparta, NJ. Character portrayal. $10. Hosted by Sparta Historical Society. Info: 973.726.0883,

March 7th

Saturday 5–7 p.m.


Unconditional: Portraits of Dogs Reception. Wallkill River School of Art, Montgomery, NY. Paintings of pets, adoption drive for the Walden Humane Society. Free and open to the public. Info: 845.457.2787, 5:30–9:30 p.m.


Winter Warm-Up. Barryville, NY. Dinner, silent auction, raffle. Celebrating community service. Hosted by Greater Barryville Chamber of Commerce. Info:

March 8th

Sunday 10 a.m.


Celebrate Life Half Marathon. Rock Hill, NY. Honoring those who have fought against cancer. $65–$80. Info: 845.866.1345, cele

March 10th

Tuesday 5:00–6:30 p.m. .............................

Beekeeping Basics. Brodhead Creek Heritage Center, East Stroudsburg, PA. Hosted by Pocono Heritage Land Trust. Info: 570.424.1514,

March 13th–15th

Friday 3–9 p.m. Saturday 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Sunday 10 a.m.–6 p.m. .............................

Orange County Home Show. SUNY Orange-Orange County Community College, Middletown, NY. 100 exhibitors. Info: 845.343.2772,

March 14th

Saturday 3:00–4:30 p.m. .............................

Family Concert. Sparta High School, Sparta, NJ. Performance by New Sussex Symphony. Featuring Sparta & Vernon string students. Tickets: $10–$15. Info: 973.579.6465, www. 5–7 p.m.


Xpose 2020 Photography Exhibit: Reception & Award Ceremony. Sussex County Arts & Heritage Council, Newton, NJ. Info: 973.383.0027, 8

Continued Tuesday 6–7 p.m.

Birds & Wildlife of Tanzania & Kenya. Thrall Library, Middletown, NY. Presentation by Lee Hunter. Hosted by the Orange County Audubon Society. Free. Info: 845.341.5483,

March 19th

Thursday 6:00–9:30 p.m. .............................

Honors Awards Gala Dinner. Perona Farms, Andover, NJ. Reception, dinner, auction & raffles. Benefits SCARC Foundation. Info: 973.383.7442 x261, www.scarcfoundation. org.

March 20th Friday 6 p.m.


Gift Basket Bingo & Tricky Tray. Dingman Delaware Primary School, Dingmans Ferry, PA. $20–$25. Presented by Dingman Delaware Primary School PTA. Info: 570.296.3130 ext 7809, Facebook: DDPS PTA.

March 21st Saturday


Hike to Wolf Rocks. Appalachian Trail, Stroudsburg, PA. Hosted by Brodhead Watershed Association. Part of the Get Outdoors Poconos series. Info: 570.839.1120,

March 21st & 22nd

Saturday & Sunday 10 a.m.–3 p.m. .............................

Maple Sugarin’ Open House. Lusscroft Farm Sugar Shack, Wantage, NJ. Live demonstrations of how syrup is made from sap. Info:

March 24th

Tuesday 5:30 & 7:30 p.m. .............................

Love Gently Dinner. Painters Restaurant, Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY. Benefits Safe Homes of Orange County. Reservations: 845.534.2109. Info: 845.562.5365, safehomes

March 26th

Thursday 7 p.m.


Honk! Jr, The Ugly Duckling. Newton Theatre Arts Academy, Newton, NJ. Theater performance by K-12th grade students. $20. Info: 973.383.3700 ext 105, thenew

March 28th

Saturday 2 p.m.


Life in the Past Lane. Krause Recital Hall, Narrowsburg, NY. Jonathan Charles Fox & his sidekick Dharma the Wonder Dog. Hosted by Delaware Valley Arts Alliance. Info: 845.252.7576, delawarevalleyartsal


Journal Entry

Being Well Is Food for Thought


ach year in the February-March issue of The Journal, we focus most of our articles on a Health and Wellness theme. Have you ever stopped to think, what exactly does “health and wellness” mean? We see these words used in tandem everywhere, but their individual meanings are actually quite different. The phrase is not necessarily medical terminology, but instead, it’s a holistic reference to the many different aspects that comprise the quality of your health—mental, emotional, social, and, of course, physical. To understand the difference between health and wellness, in short, think in terms of your health as not just the absence of disease or illness, but as a state of being that can vary depending on many factors; whereas wellness is making a conscious choice to live in a healthy lifestyle. So, wellness takes behavior into account, and its goal is to achieve or maintain good health. That being said, can stress affect your health? Yes, on all levels. Can stress affect wellness? The answer seems to be, only if you


let it. Again, wellness is a choice of perspectives. For example, do I let this stress affect me or do I find avenues to release it? Exercise, meditation, massage, and creative expression, all seem to be good releases to help deal with stress. Such is the importance of mental, spiritual, and physical “well-being” that many times caregivers of those who are ill may be asked by friends, family, and even by doctors, “What are you doing to take care of yourself?” Many people take their health for granted until they or a loved one are facing a crisis. It’s at that time that we begin to research healthy diets, exercise programs, medical treatments, and possibly look into natural health remedies. Those are wellness options. Inspiration often comes from hearing others’ stories. Going forward in life in the face of adversity is not for the weak of heart. I hope that you find the stories in this issue positive and affirming.


Poem Spinning for Doughnuts Friday Spin Class at the gym my trainer’s pizza night. But pizza’s not the only treat doughnuts for dessert! She makes us burn off calories suffer for her feast. I hear her shouts above the noise music blasts a beat. My sweaty grip controls the knob I twist to power up. I pedal fast blow out and breathe quicken to a sprint. In steady state my mind drifts off to trails of yeasty dreams: How many miles for a jelly stick how many for powdered cake, for chocolate coated custard cream for maple icing glaze? By close of class I’m way off course spinning through sugar dust, through coconut flakes and sticky fog lost in doughnut lust. - Norma Ketzis Bernstock



Photo by Ellen Hoverkamp


By Michael Hartnett

The Art of Planting Fragrant Gardens

Photo by Ken Druse

Ken Druse


xpanding our understanding of how our sense of smell works in relation to the botanical universe is outlined extensively in Ken Druse’s latest book, The Scentual Garden: Exploring the World of Botanical Fragrance. In the pages of this classic tour de force released by the renowned art book publisher Abrams, readers will find a wealth of useful information and advice from one of America’s foremost gardening authors. Having penned twenty garden books spanning thirty years, Druse brings his seasoned experience to this lavishly illustrated volume. The book includes floral photographs by Ellen Hoverkamp that are arranged in precisely focused collages as beautiful as the flowers themselves. They provide a delicious visual aroma all their own. These images are accompanied by Druse’s exquisite pictures of gardens and plants. And together, they present a labor of love that is a complete work of art. The book thoroughly describes the scents of plants and elaborates on twelve categories of fragrances, including floral, sweet, fruity, medicinal, and herbal. Druse was frustrated by catalogs, books, and online sources that listed plants just as “fragrant.” He wanted to know what plants smelled like, and in his book, he explains the science behind how we smell, with suggestions on how to smell. Techniques on designing with, planting for, and even capturing garden scents are described. These are followed by a voluminous encyclopedia of fragrances for individual plants and their scents. Druse first became interested in indoor plants as a teenager and has carried this passion with him throughout his life. After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design, Druse worked as a filmmaker for public television, but then, he transitioned to garden illustration and became a

contributing artist for a magazine. During this time, he would provide concepts for articles and draw pictures to go along with his ideas. Eventually, he was asked to start writing the articles himself. “I would do a drawing that took a week and was paid seventy five dollars. But I could take photos in a day and get a hundred dollars. So, I took photos,” said Druse, describing his move into photography; he explained it as a practical choice. Early in his career, he became the garden editor for House Beautiful magazine. In time, Druse wanted to work on something of his own and came up with the idea for a large, colorful garden book. The market had been glutted with books about indoor plants and books from England that didn’t make a lot of sense for American gardeners. That led to a period when publishers ceased producing books in the garden genre. “My book, The Natural Garden, written in 1980, was the first one released after the publishing hiatus, and the first one about outdoor gardening in a long time. And it was very American. It jump-started the whole garden book craze that exploded onto the scene,” Druse said. After moving through the vagaries of the publishing world, Druse is pleased to be working with Abrams. The Scentual Garden is his fourth garden book with this publisher. With The Scentual Garden, Ken Druse has expanded our knowledge of the spectrum of fragrances growing all around us in the natural world. He has shown us how to bring these luscious aromas home to our own gardens. In light of what the shifting world is facing, his effort to increase our appreciation for nature is literally a life-saving mission. Thank you, Ken! Continued on next page 13



Giving Voice Joining Ken Druse in conversation at his comfortable home, built on the foundation of an 1840s mill store in northern New Jersey, we learned his perspectives on his garden, plant fragrances, and the challenges facing gardeners today. The Journal: Is there a new plant that you’ve brought into your garden that excites you? Druse: Yes, the pimenta species from the West Indies, which includes allspice and bay rum that belong to the myrtle family. Allspice is derived from the fruit, while the bay rum variety is used in cologne. I grow them in pots, and the leaves are very fragrant. The Journal: What underrated plants should people be paying more attention to? Druse: There are plants that people don’t know are fragrant because they haven’t sampled them. My advice would be that after checking for a bee, smell everything. Purple coneflower is very popular. Other varieties have been introduced that are hybrids with a yellow species. Almost all of the colorful new introductions are fragrant and smell like cinnamon and orange. People may not realize that some common flowers are fragrant. For example, bearded iris can smell of wintergreen or grape soda. The Journal: How does fragrance play a part in your garden? Druse: So much is related to time in a garden. It’s hard because flowers come in and out so fast, unless you’re in an herb garden where fragrant foliage sticks around for the whole season. I don’t always put things too close together for that reason because they can overwhelm each other. But what I do pay attention to is when and where they are blooming. So, I’ll plant things along the edge of a path for handy sampling even though the flowers may not happen at the same time. The Journal: The business of nurseries appears to be changing. How is that affecting the way people garden? Druse: This is a big story. In the beginning of this century, nurseries started closing because of competition from the big box stores. Also, the gardening community has changed—older folks may have moved into retirement communities that don’t allow gardening, or their interests have turned to other things such as tennis or computers. Young people are now interested in gardening again, but they want to grow food. As they become older, I think they may turn to ornamental gardening and find that it is food for the soul. The Journal: Do you see the effects of climate change in your garden? What advice to gardeners do you have for coping with it?

Photos by Ken Druse

Druse: Absolutely, I wrote one of my books about it. Some plants are migrating because of the heat in summer. Annual temperatures are changing. What I suggest for people is to think shade and plant more trees.


There used to be a thing called double digging to prepare gardens by turning the soil. This practice brings up weed seeds and destroys organisms living in the ground. My recommendation is to not disturb the earth at all, even when planting vegetables. Just put fresh material and compost on the surface and let it work its way in. “No-till” gardening sequesters carbon and retains the moisture that plants need to thrive. .............................................................................................. To learn more, visit Michael Hartnett is an artist and writer living in Dingmans Ferry, PA. He is the author of the nature fantasy novel Tales of Allamucha.


Photos by Ellen Hoverkamp



By Amy Bridge

Creative Freedom


eflecting on the black experience in America, one should note that although the Thirteenth Amendment prohibiting slavery was passed in 1865, it was only the beginning of a civil and human rights movement. American abolitionist and equal rights orator and writer, Frederick Douglass proclaimed, “Verily, the work does not end with the abolition of slavery, but only begins.”

Top left: People Near Boat (1893) by Edward Mitchell Bannister. Bottom left: The Westwood Children (1807) by Joshua Johnson. Bottom right: Pompeii (1855) by Robert Scott Duncanson. This page: Phillis Wheatly (1773) Anonymous.

It wasn’t until 1947 that former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Drafting Committee to write articles of declaration, which were adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations the following year. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was recognized by international law and translated into over 500 languages. It established fundamental rights, including Article 1, the Right to Equality; Article 2, Freedom from Discrimination; and Article 4, Freedom from Slavery. Article 4 declared: “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” Human rights are basic inherent rights that take precedent, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, religion, or other status. Paragraph two of the declaration’s Preamble stated, “Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people.” It’s hard for us to fathom that the expression of creativity has not always been a basic human right. But during the days of slavery in that bleak period of our country’s history, black slaves were not allowed to depict things. “They had no rights. Any expression of who they were as unique individuals was prohibited,” explained Ari Mir-Pontier. Mir-Pontier is curator of Celebration of Black History, an exhibit, sponsored by the Barryville NY Arts Association, on display during February at the Artists’ Market Community Center in Shohola, PA. “To be able to disclose their intelligence or a desire to go above and beyond what they were allowed to do was not possible. However, there were some slaves who worked for affluent families and were asked to paint portraits of family members. But only men were able to represent their artistic abilities here. Women were allowed to do embroidery,

expressing their creativity in the intricate stitches that they used. This was acceptable,” Mir-Pontier continues. “The slaves would sing when they were alone or in the field, and they engaged in storytelling in the evening when they were together, but because they were considered ‘inferiors,’ individual expression was prohibited.” Mir-Pontier, a former Executive Director of the Sullivan County, NY, Human Rights Commission, believes that although not perfect, the world of today is beginning to recognize black visual artists, accepting them, as their work now stands side by side with other artists. “My job in the Commission brought me an awareness to create more opportunities for people of color—for them to come together to form partnerships in the community so they have a place to express their unique thoughts and opinions. “Through the decades, it has been very difficult for black visual artists to have their work accepted into museums. There have been paintings of blacks, but they were traditionally done by white artists. This is referred to as ‘institutional racism.’ A black artist would be known in artist circles as a great artist but could not gain recognition in the art world at large because of their skin color,” Mir-Pontier states. Today, there are museums throughout the country with permanent collections of black artists, although many of the artists passed way before this happened. The art world is starting to accept black talent for talent’s sake, and not just displaying their work as a depiction of the black experience. As a result, we are seeing black sculptors and abstract painters and a more inclusive market acceptance for black artists. Continued on next page 17



“The struggle to fit in is still there. It still exists in all things that others may take for granted. The Barryville Arts Association is recognizing and celebrating local, mainly self-taught, black artists,” says Mir-Pontier. “Shanita Artson from Monticello, NY, is our featured artist. Artson, who served as a Commissioner of the Sullivan County Human Rights Commission is exhilarated that she is doing art and overlooks the hurdles that black artists have confronted historically. She will talk about her own creative journey through the arts at the opening reception. Her work in mixed media incorporates images of women in decoupage on glass vase, and her collage and acrylic painting will be on display during Celebration of Black History.” Featured in the exhibit will be prints of black painters throughout history, dating from slave Joshua Johnson’s 1807 portraiture, The Westwood Children, to Aaron Douglas’s 1936 Iron Bondage. Douglas is considered one of the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance. Also at the opening reception, Sullivan County artist and poet, Mort Malkin, will be reading “A Far Country” by black poet, Leslie Pinckney Hill. Hill was born in Virginia in 1880, graduated from Harvard University’s Bachelors and Masters Programs, and became an educator as well as a published poet and playwright.

Top: Portrait of Adelia Ellender (1804) by Joshua Johnson. Middle: untitled (1868) by Edward Mitchell Bannister. Bottom: Portrait of Isabella Taylor (1805) by Joshua Johnson.

A Far Country


Beyond the cities I have seen, Beyond the wrack and din, There is a wide and fair demesne Where I have never been. Away from desert wastes of greed, Over the peaks of pride, Across the seas of mortal need Its citizens abide. And through the distance though I see How stern must be the fare, My feet are ever fain to be Upon the journey there. In that far land the only school The dwellers all attend Is built upon the Golden Rule, And man to man is friend. No war is there nor war’s distress, But truth and love increase— It is a realm of pleasantness, And all her paths are peace. -Leslie Pinckney Hill 1920 ............................................................................................................. The opening reception for Celebration of Black History is on February 1st, 4–6 p.m., at the Artists’ Market Community Center, 114 Richardson Ave, Shohola, PA. For additional information, visit or their Facebook page.


Local Eats Pennsylvania Carini Cucina & Pizzeria Cozy, quiet, serving specialty pizzas 203 E 6th St. Milford, PA 570.296.2554 Pie's On Generous portions of fine Italian food 1560 Rte. 739 Dingmans Ferry, PA 570.828.9985 Riverview Inn Steak House 402 Shay Lane Matamoras, PA 570.491.2173 Stewie's American comfort food 701 Pennsylvania Ave Matamoras, PA 570.491.2015 Tequila Sunrise Authentic Mexican Food 305 E Harford St. Milford, PA 570.409.6300 Waterwheel Cafe Fresh eclectic food in a relaxed atmosphere 150 Water St. Milford, PA 570.296.2383

Little Nicki's Pizza, Pasta & Seafood 120 Brady Road Lake Hopatcong, NJ 973.601.7811

New York Catskill Mountain Resort American, French, Italian & Fusion cuisine 211 Mail Rd. Barryville, NY 845.456.0195 El Patron Mexican Restaurant Authentic Mexican food, specialty drinks, always a fiesta! 104 US 6 Port Jervis, NY 845.856.8701 Fogwood + Fig Plant based comfort food 24 Front St. Port Jervis, NY 845.672.4222

New Jersey

Gio's Casual Italian dining 30-32 Front St. Port Jervis, NY 845.858.4467

Barrel House Delicious, affordable new American cuisine 173 Spring St. Newton, NJ 973.940.7916

Hacienda Restaurant Mexican & American food 1700 NY-17M Goshen, NY 845.294.9795

The Daily Bean Where Friends Meet 514 Rte 515 Vernon, NJ 973.764.6773 Hyde-Away Restaurant & Tap Room Always A Warm Meal & Friendly Faces 901 County Road 521 Newton, NJ 973. 300.1888


lL Porto On Lake Mohawk 7 The Boardwalk Sparta, NJ 973.729.9901

Len & Jo's Specializing in pizza 186 West Main St. Port Jervis, NY 845.856.8021 Shannon’s Eyes on the Pies Pies & more 252 Pine Island Turnpike Warwick, NY 845.324.8915


By Thomas Eccleston

Loving Chocolate


t’s ethereal, really, this thing we mere mortals call chocolate.

How else to describe the delicacy that’s there for you during birthdays, holidays, and any occasion when you need something special to satisfy your sweet tooth? Chocolate won’t jilt you, hurt your feelings, or crush your soul—which stands to reason, since it could well be the love of your life. Better still, besides the exquisite taste, chocolate yields beneficial properties. Step aside pomegranates, green tea, and chia seeds, there’s a more gratifying heavyweight among your ranks. Not only does chocolate contain antioxidants, but also mood-improving endorphins; it’s believed to lower blood pressure while maintaining a healthy heart. If you see a percentage number on the label, such as 74% or 82%, realize that this number connotes the amount of actual cocoa bean in the chocolate. The remainder of the bar is comprised of sugar, milk, oil, or other fillers. The higher the cocoa content, the higher the antioxidants. Practical applications for chocolate go back centuries. The

Aztecs, who added chocolate to a drink with vanilla and chili pepper, used cacao beans as currency. Europe first encountered chocolate in the late 1400s, when Christopher Columbus presented a few of those beans to the King of Spain. The ambrosia as we know it today originates from a process devised in the mid-nineteenth century and combines cocoa solids, cocoa butter (or other fats), and sugar. Together with refined sugar and an emulsifier, it morphed into the familiar and delectable chocolate bar in all its shapes and forms. It may come from only one source, but chocolate’s manufacture remains a source of decidedly varying palates. One nation’s deliciousness is another’s partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, as the combined percentage of cocoa solids and butter can vary considerably. Those dark and white offerings may deepen probable titillation, but in my opinion, it’s the creamy, rich, sweet taste of milk chocolate, mimicking the color of a leather bomber jacket, that makes anything possible. Savor your s’mores by Continued on next page


Food a summer night’s bonfire. Drink it warm on a cold winter’s day and ward off chills, along with cognitive issues. A study from Italy on nearly a hundred seniors with mild memory problems suggests that a daily glass of hot chocolate led to significant improvements in brain function. There are also hints it may stave off eye damage due to glaucoma. Such findings beg the question: Can you really become hooked on chocolate? Despite some parallels between drug and food addiction, there are also significant differences, placing the idea of “chocoholism” under scrutiny. While researchers agree that chocolate is permeated with temperament-altering substances, it may induce a craving, but not a true addiction. Chocolate’s scent alone can improve your outlook, as you share the couch with a partner who’s dozed off. The brown bliss will make you scoff at its calorie count and focus instead on those antioxidants that allegedly slow your aging process, inside and out. While glaring at the sleeping loved one, devour a few squares of chocolate, and meditate on reducing the risk of skin cancer while preventing wrinkles. You might agree, then, that Marie Antionette intended to say, “Let them eat chocolate!” Even if it wasn’t cake.

Warren Ruggierio’s Chocolate Sin Cake INGREDIENTS: • 1 (16-ounce) chocolate pound cake, cut into ¼-inch slices • 2 (four-serving) packages instant chocolate pudding and pie filling • 3 cups milk • 1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed and divided • 1 cup chopped walnuts, divided • 1 & ¼ cup coarsely chopped chocolate sandwich cookies, divided INSTRUCTIONS: • Layer half of the pound cake slices in a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish. • In a large bowl, combine chocolate pudding mix and milk, blending with a wire whisk until thickened. • Fold in half of the whipped topping. • Spread half of the pudding mixture over pound cake slices. • Sprinkle with ½ cup nuts and ½ cup cookie crumbs. • Repeat layers. • Crown with leftover whipped topping and remaining ¼ cup cookie crumbs. • Cover and chill for two hours before serving.



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By Robin Fohl

The Inspirational Story of Saige

In this modern world of continuous, aggressive medical research and ever-changing diagnostic science, there are still many rare disorders that no one ever hears about, yet they do exist. What follows is a mother’s diary, journaling the mystery of endurance, survival, and hope.


ho would have ever thought that after delivering a “perfect” baby, a nightmare would follow only four days later? Saige Elizabeth was born Friday, July 30th, 2010, at 3:10 a.m. A beautiful, healthy, and calm baby girl, so we thought, until we noticed she was extremely lethargic and not feeding. We came home from the hospital late Monday afternoon, August 2nd, to end up back in the hospital the next day. We had thought our puzzle was complete when Saige came into this world; however, in a matter of a few days, a piece did not fit.

Photos courtesy of Robin Fohl

First, we phoned a retired family pediatrician who came to see her and advised us to get the first available appointment with her pediatrician and that it needed to be today. Saige’s pediatrician looked her over and immediately knew something was wrong and sent us to Newton, NJ’s NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Numerous tests were done, and all came back negative. Doctors wanted Saige to get more tests right away and medevacked her to Morristown, NJ’s NICU, where tests continued. Saige had every test known to man—X-rays, CAT scans, MRIs, EEGs, EKGs, four spinal taps, and more as she laid there, lifeless in a coma, with wires, needles, electrodes, breathing and feeding tubes attached to her precious little body. Something was obviously wrong; however, test after test came back negative. This had doctors dazed and confused as they continued to search for the cause of her condition. Who would have thought that on Sunday, August 8th, just six days after her birth, Saige would be diagnosed with

NKH (non-ketotic hyperglycinemia), and we would be told that our baby would only have a very short time to live? Amino acids are natural components of our body. NKH is a disorder of amino acid metabolism, which produces a high glycine level in the body that accumulates in all body tissues, including the brain. Excessive glycine disrupts the functioning of the brain. Typical symptoms include seizures, low tone, and severe problems with learning and development. This can profoundly affect a child’s ability to learn and do simple things such as eating, sitting, walking, and talking. There are approximately five hundred children that are affected with this disorder worldwide, and its effects range from mild to severe. Most children pass, many are severely affected, and very few are mildly affected. Everyone has glycine, but too much causes a toxic buildup, and the body is unable to metabolize it properly. The result is a lifeless, “coma state” baby. Talk about a mental, physical, and emotional rollercoaster; we were hoping to wake up from a really bad dream. Saige was to be taken off the respirator and given minimal oxygen and a feeding tube for comfort. She would slowly stop breathing and pass, but medical staff would make it as comfortable for her as possible. Waiting for the devastating call, we found ourselves driving back to the hospital NICU to find our daughter holding on. Two priests from our church had come to see Saige and pray for her several times. When they heard the bad news, they came to see her again, but this time it was to read Saige her last rights. As the four of us stood around Saige, we started to pray. Saige was baptized, confirmed, and read her last rights. Continued on next page



Photo by Thomas Duncan


I stood there in shock and kept thinking about the stories Father Thom told me and my husband days earlier. Stories about miracles…I was praying for a miracle. Dr. Johan Van Hove from the University of Colorado was the leading geneticist doing research on NKH at the time. He found that giving doses of sodium benzoate would lower high glycine levels in the body. So Saige was given sodium benzoate. This brought Saige out of her coma by decreasing the high level of glycine, but she was far from being out of the woods. Days later, our “fighting to survive” baby girl was breathing and continued to breathe on her own. As we arrived the morning of the 12th, the nursing staff couldn’t wait to give us the news before we even saw our daughter—she had fed from a bottle! Within 24 hours, the feeding tube was removed. Saige went from a ten-day “coma state” to an alert, crying, moving, and feeding baby. Once Saige was stable, she came home with hospice care because her chances for survival were so slim. The doctors said she wouldn’t live past three months, and if she did, she would never walk, talk, or go to school. The doctors were not exactly correct. After several months of improvement, hospice care was no longer needed. Saige received weekly physical, occupational, and speech therapy. At the age of three, all of her home services stopped, and Saige started attending the Center for Developmental Disabilities (CDD) in Milford, PA. Saige attended the CDD from age three to five. Saige is now nine and a half. Although she is non-verbal, she attends Shohola Elementary School. She is in third grade and is in special education classes. She attends inclusion classes as well, which has made a big difference for her and her peers. 26

Saige isn’t looked at any differently, and she has won popularity. Not only has she been labeled “The Mayor of Shohola,” her classmates now fight over who sits by Saige at lunch, who holds her hand while walking down the hall, and who gets to push Saige on the swing at recess. This has been a major turnaround for Saige. Hats off to Saige’s teachers and the school staff. They teach the students that everyone is equal—it doesn’t matter a person’s color, if someone looks different, acts differently, or can’t hear, see, or talk. Shohola Elementary brings joy to my daughter, and she is so excited each morning to go to school, which brings joy to me. Saige is one of few with NKH who is doing well. There still is no cure, and Saige will have to continue taking doses of sodium benzoate to keep her alive. At the time of diagnosis, they really didn’t know much about this disorder, and they didn’t know the severity of it. But following Dr. Van Hove’s guidance, doctors did genetic testing on me and my husband and found that Saige had one of the mild cases. Every day for Saige is still a struggle, whether it’s trying to put her shoes on, feeding herself, communicating, etc. And even though Saige lacks fine motor skills, hand her an iPad and she will simply amaze you. She has always amazed her doctors and to this day still does. I truly have been blessed, even though life for the past nine and a half years hasn’t been easy. I’m so happy that Saige is happy. She lights up every dark day with her wide infectious smile. I thank God every day for giving her to me. Saige has not only made me a stronger person but also many others who know her. I’m very blessed to have her in my life. I wouldn’t trade her for the world—she’s my “miracle.”




By Kristen Hamilton

Be Kind to Your Skin and the Planet

All Natural Beauty

Photos courtesy of Erin Csernica


t is often during the coldest, darkest days of winter that we feel compelled to bring the beauty of nature inside. Plants and flowers add color to our living space, but what about our bodies, hearts, and minds? All-natural beauty products such as soaps and lotions are a soothing way to pamper yourself while enjoying comforting elements from the great outdoors year round. And nowadays, it’s easy to have a self-care ritual that makes a difference for the planet as well.

well as your favorite commercial body wash, are biodegradable, and are packaged sustainably—using little or no plastic.

Who doesn’t love indulging in a warm bubble bath or a hot shower on a cold winter night? There is no shortage of bath products on the market that can get you clean. But for products you can feel good about, look no further than your local makers of homemade soaps, lotions, and cosmetics.

One such maker in our area is Mt. Lebanon Soap Company. Their take on “natural and sustainable” starts at home in Port Murray, New Jersey.

According to the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild, it can take up to 450 years for a cosmetic-grade plastic bottle to decompose. That is just the kind of bottle that carries body washes and other skin care products. It’s a steep price to pay for beauty. Thankfully, there’s a better way. Homemade bar soaps are made of pure and natural ingredients. They clean just as

Natural products can be found through online purveyors such as Or just stop by your local farmers market, garden shop, or craft fair and discover the makers in your area who are creating products that pamper you and the planet.

For business owner Erin Csernica, soap making became a reality when she and husband Chris first met. “I always had an interest in learning how to make soap. I would watch videos, and it always seemed to be two extremes: either hippies barefoot in the kitchen or people suited up like they were conducting chemical warfare experiments. My husband is a chemical engineer, and he was able to make it seem less scary to try. I did the combinations, and he helped me put the recipes together.” Continued on next page



What started off as a hobby became a business and a passion in 2011 following the birth of their first child, a daughter named Summer who was born with Down Syndrome. The Csernicas saw an opportunity to provide for Summer’s future and teach her valuable skills at the same time, through soap making. They established a special needs trust in Summer’s name, and proceeds from Mt. Lebanon Soap Company go to support her future needs.

clable “clam shells.” In the interest of the planet, no shrink wrap or plastic is used.

Now that Summer is older, she is able to contribute to the family business in her own way. “Summer is 8, and she is just starting to show an interest in trying to help,” Erin explains. “She is learning to pump out oils from drums and to package orders that ship out. It’s fun to have her involved, taking on basic tasks. It gives her some more social interaction and expands her skill set.”

Erin says that seasonal offerings are always available. In celebration of Valentine’s Day, Mt. Lebanon Soap Company takes pampering to a whole new level with their champagne and strawberries soap. Featuring pure strawberry puree from local Jersey farms and real champagne, this one of a kind soap adds a luxurious touch to natural living.

And it’s possible that a future expansion could lead to even greater opportunities. “If we continue to grow, we could possibly look to hire other individuals with learning disabilities to help with packaging and other aspects of the business. We will see what the future holds.” Using the age-old process of cold pressing, Mt. Lebanon Soap Company mixes together vegetable-based fats and lye to create their homemade soaps. Natural additives are then introduced to create a unique blend. Only food grade products and natural, locally-sourced additives are used, whenever possible. “If I’m going to create something, I want it to be in its most natural form,” says Erin. “Our first ingredient is always pure food-grade olive oil. Across the board, olive oil is the mildest and most moisturizing oil for all skin types.” At Mt. Lebanon Soap Company, even the packaging is natural and sustainable, using 100% post-consumer recy30


Popular soap blends include activated charcoal soap, sourced from bamboo charcoal. Other natural additives come from local Jersey farms and gardens: tomatoes, cucumbers, lavender, spearmint, and more. Honeycomb soap uses raw local honey and smells good enough to eat.

Mt. Lebanon Soap Company Port Murray, New Jersey Facebook: Mt. Lebanon Soap Company Upcoming shows and fairs: March 6th–8th Sugarloaf Crafts Festival Edison, NJ March 20th–22nd Sugarloaf Crafts Festival Oaks, PA April 24th–26th Sugarloaf Crafts Festival Timonium, MD May 3rd Handmade Hopewell Hopewell, NJ May 16th Makers Festival Orchard View Lavender Farm, Port Murray, NJ May 30th–31st Spring Craft Show Chester, NJ


Of Note Community Emergency Response Team


ost people never think about what they’d do if a disaster hits home until they’re in the middle of one. But folks like Marcia Bradley are out to change that.

It was during a recent power outage that I literally ran into Bradley, who is a certified CERT Program Coordinator. CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team, which is a division of the National Citizens Corps Program started by President George W. Bush after 911 to harness the volunteer spirit that emerged after that disastrous day. At a local warming station, Bradley was chatting with the residents who had stopped in—looking for a coffee and a case of bottled water or perhaps just for a warm spot to thaw. She explained to me that every state has a CERT program and that many counties have more than one office. But in rural Stillwater, NJ, at the western corner of Sussex County, there were no disaster services available in the vicinity until late in 2018, when Mayor Lisa Chammings and the Township Committee passed a resolution to begin Stillwater’s CERT Program. “I grew up thinking that everyone volunteers,” reflected Stillwater resident Bradley, who was raised in the unique municipality of Winfield Park in Union County, NJ. The town was conceived in the early 1940s as a 700-unit housing project for defense workers at the Kearny shipyard. Volunteers were the backbone of the township. Today, Bradley is constantly recruiting volunteers for the newly-formed CERT program. “We offer a 20-hour free training, which is open to ages 18 and older. Attendees will learn such things as how to provide backup assistance to first responders and how to help locate lost adults or children. But the first thing that you learn is how to take care of your own safety and that of your family—things like how to use a fire extinguisher or how to turn off the gas in the house.

disaster victim may experience sensitive psychological nuances such as fear and vulnerability, and we need to be prepared for that. You will be trained on disaster psychology and disaster management. Our actions will bind anxiety. To put that another way, our volunteers must promote safety, calmness, connectedness, and hope.” Bradley, a retired professor of biology and physiology, adds, “Interestingly, there are now compound tests that can be done at a neurological level that actually show who can be calmer under pressure…. a first responder should be calm. We are trying to help people; trying to help people change—to be kinder, better people… better stewards. We are neighbors helping neighbors.” ................................................................ If you are interested in attending the training session this spring at the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center, 135 Morris Turnpike in Newton, please call 973.383.9783 or write marcia

CERT Basic Training Topics The official free 20-hour classroom course is broken into sections.

• Disaster Preparedness: Addresses hazards specific to the community. Materials cover actions that participants and their families take before, during, and after a disaster as well as an overview of CERT and local laws governing volunteers. • Fire Suppression: Covers fire chemistry, hazardous materials, fire hazards, and fire suppression strategies. However, the thrust of this session is the safe use of fire extinguishers, controlling utilities and extinguishing a small fire. • Medical Operations Part I: Participants practice diagnosing and treating airway obstruction, bleeding, and shock by using simple triage and rapid treatment techniques. • Medical Operations Part II: Covers evaluating patients by doing a head to toe assessment, establishing a medical treatment area, and performing basic first aid. • Light Search and Rescue Operations: Participants learn about search and rescue planning, size-up, search techniques, rescue techniques, and rescuer safety. • Psychology and Team Organization: Covers signs and symptoms that might be experienced by the disaster victim and workers and addresses CERT organization and management. • Course Review and Disaster Simulation: Participants review and practice the skills that they have learned during the previous six sessions in a disaster activity.

“Our volunteers must be trained and certified, and they have to practice,” Bradley states. It has to be second nature. “At this time, Stillwater Township is working to open a community center at the old Swartswood fire house that will also serve as a shelter. We don’t have many shelters here in Sussex County. The nearest one is at the Sussex County Technical School, about twelve miles away.” Bradley has been asked to act as a shelter coordinator for this location. “I am hopeful,” she continued, “that every town in the county will have a CERT office or become associated with the program.” “As a certified CERT volunteer, you will learn to manage large numbers of people on an emotional basis as well. A 32

Upcoming CERT Events February 1st • New Recruits’ ICS 100/700 Training Course, 1 p.m. at the Green Municipal Building, Andover, NJ. The course is free. Registration required. February 13th • Stillwater–Green Monthly Meeting, 7 p.m. at the Stillwater Municipal Building, Stillwater, NJ. Guest speaker is Robert Cubby, Facilitator of the Sussex Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a former Jersey City police captain, contributing author of All Cops Don’t Eat Donuts, and writer for Law Enforcement Today. He also appeared in the documentary Code 9: Officer Needs Assistance.




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Planet Waves by Eric Francis


(March 20-April 19)

As preparation for your new life ahead, start working with language. Listen to how you speak, and study how you write. This includes what you say, though how you say it is the more significant factor. Both matter and both are essential. You need to do this like you're going to an unfamiliar country where you know you're going to need to speak the language as a matter of necessity. You know that the language will open up possibilities that would not otherwise be there, because you would not hear about them or understand them if you did. However, at the moment, you don't know what country that is going to be, or how things are necessarily said. So what you want to work on, therefore, is your ability to put your ideas and feelings into words. Work on this process deeply enough to reach the point where you have a shift in your ideas as you refine their expression.


(April 19-May 20)


(May 20-June 21)

In a very general sense, here is the shape of your life. For a good long time, you struggled to rethink, transcend or escape from ideas that guided you for a while, though at a certain point clearly no longer served you. Part of doing that was figuring out how, specifically and in fact, they were useless. Then all of a sudden a jolt ran through your being, and you knew you really had to shake it all loose. I mean really loose, like diving into the water naked for the first time. Wow, what a transformation. Now, Saturn is about to take up residency in your life in a new way. You are likely to feel the instinct to contain, constrain and shape your reality. You may give that a little taste, just to see how it feels in the context of your new fiery restlessness. However, before you get too cozy, I am here to tell you that you've still got some shaking and some loosening to do.

It's time to rethink the career question, on the basis of what you would do if your commitments to others were not hemming you in. You've invested yourself in several different relationship situations that have proven to be difficult to get a handle on. The question, "Where did my power go?" might be easier to answer if you understood where it came from in the first place. Ultimately it is your ability to change and adapt, though in some situations, this has had the effect of wedging you into a corner. One of the walls that constrained you is about to move, and reveal an exit. At the same time, possibilities for what you might do with your power (meaning your creativity and your ability to make decisions about how to use it) are opening up. You may notice some option or possibility and ask yourself boldly: do I want to do that, or be there? If you feel your reality expand with just the question, don't be too surprised.


(June 21-July 22)

For a person who appreciates stability as much as you do, it's been difficult to go through so many years of living on shifting ground. Yet one of your approaches to handling this has been to cling to grounding in small ways that may not work for you anymore. Be aware of what those are. Your opposite sign Capricorn is involved, so this could relate to anything in your environment or the universe of your relationships. It could relate to how you perceive the world. It could relate to where you are physically located. There may be some nexus where all of the above meet, and this, in turn, will invariably affect your professional calling. Speaking of, the bold sigil in your chart is Chiron in Aries, and it's not possible to say too much about that. This placement is a compelling calling and an urgent inner need. It is your drive to be yourself in all that you do, and to be your own best example. The thing you can no longer seek from outside yourself is how to be who you are.


(July 22-Aug. 23)

A particular struggle has persisted for some years, and you are now gradually coming out of it. This will happen in degrees rather than all at once. There is plenty of talk in the world about setting boundaries and limits, though rarely do we apply this idea to difficulty or effort. Rarely does it apply to wasted time. Maybe you've experienced something like this before. You have a lot of little problems that have persisted for a long time, and a couple of big ones. Then you face a new challenge that you embrace whole-heartedly. In the process, you transcend all those problems and suddenly they no longer exist. This is the power of engaging yourself with a greater purpose. Your charts describe a similar scenario over the next season. One bad example of this from history is how the automobile solved the rapidly growing problem of horse manure in cities. Yet as time went on, it caused a whole new assortment of even bigger problems. You must choose the options that resolve issues rather than create them.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)

Being creative and having lots of ideas is one thing. Yet you're rapidly approaching the time when you must put your own brilliance to work for a whole new purpose. This is likely to involve transposing your personal and creative breakthroughs into a collective or group situation of some kind. This has always been a calling for you, though you had some territory to cross before you could actually do it, and you've reached a borderland. That is the one between individual creativity and creative leadership. You have been through one heck of an initiation the past few years. You have been pushed, pulled or dragged into learning how to open up, take a chance and express something bold. You may have done so reluctantly, or resisted with everything you had, though you probably shifted your attitude at a certain point and decided that the risk was worth it. You may not have full faith in your ideas, or abilities, though you might review where you were at three or four years ago for some contrast.


(Sep. 22-Oct. 23)

Your personal history is starting to loosen its grip on you. Or maybe you are loosening your grip on it. As you do that, here is something to consider. To what extent do you make decisions with a need to please others, before you are true to yourself? If so, whom are you attempting to make happy? Ask yourself and observe what comes back in reply. Whatever that may be, you are ready to let it go. You have been attempting this for a while, maybe for months, maybe for years, maybe in some cycle you've noticed and then forget about. One result of whatever this may be is an indirect approach to relationships and also to your whole existence. That in turn is the result of your attempts to form a compromise between your purpose and what you perceive to be some other purpose, as if you are trying to serve two masters. Every now and then, a confrontation with a different reality gets your attention. What if you worked with the idea that it's impossible to be in two worlds at once?


(Oct. 23-Nov. 22)

It is time to carefully re-evaluate your emotional attachments to your family. Matters such as your sense of belonging among them, and by extension, any other group you are associated with, are front and center. This comes down to the squishy issue of whether you feel secure without them. Keep your finger on the pulse of how much approval you need from outside yourself. There are those people who always have to go somewhere with someone (whether it is out to dinner, or getting on an airplane). Others are portrayed standing next to someone in every photo. Where do you fall along those spectrums? One of the themes of your forthcoming extended phase of your life will be greater emotional independence. This does not mean facing existence entirely on your own, but rather the growing desire to liberate yourself from habits that bind you to others in limiting ways. What do you do specifically to feel secure? Dredge all of this up to full awareness.


(Nov. 22-Dec. 22)

Rather than certainty about what you want, an experiment is called for, ongoing. To what extent do your desires and impulses align with your principles? Do your actions align with your intentions as you state them? I suggest you consider that for a while, and perhaps score yourself on your past activities as well as your current efforts. The experience of time wasted, of goals not met, or of making decisions that ultimately serve to work against your interest represent one set of criteria. The feeling and actual experience of evolution into who you are inside is another. Your quotient of frustration versus a sense of accomplishment counts for a lot. Statements such as, "I'm doing this, but I really wish I could be doing that," are worth keeping track of, for both their content and their frequency. Relationships are calling for a similar set of tests. The experiment is testing them through direct contact, and noting carefully the results.


(Dec. 22-Jan. 20)

You are in the last few weeks before Saturn leaves your birth sign for a test run into Aquarius. Let's contemplate the Saturn principle. Were someone to know only one thing from all of astrology, this would be the one. The idea is that you take responsibility for yourself, such that nobody has to tell you what to do, or why to do it. This involves being aware of your environment and its boundaries and regulations, and adapting yours to work with them. You understand your commitments, and you keep them without being told to. You become your own parents, your own boss, and your own police department, so that you don't need things nagging you from the outside. Drive safely and you won't get pulled over. Pay your parking tickets and you won't get booted. Pay your taxes and the revenue department won't come after you. Honor your responsibilities and they become privileges and opportunities.


(Jan. 20-Feb. 19)

Saturn entering your birth sign or rising sign is an event to prepare for. The date of arrival is March 21, just past the equinox. So I would suggest you use this time consciously. One question you might ask yourself is the nature of the internal struggle you've been through the past few years of Saturn in your 12th house (which began in late 2017). What, exactly, have you been working through? Were you even aware of the depth of the material you were processing, or did you plod along attempting to maintain your life as usual? Some deep questions have been nagging, and at times, dragging you into situations that you may not understand. Superficial explanations will be of no help. You may have some completions to do with people from your past, or who are in your life now. The central question is what it means to be honest with yourself, and how you know whether and when you are doing it.


(Feb. 19-March 20)

You are establishing yourself in new social and professional territory, in a process that will take some surprising directions this spring. Those, in turn, will emerge from deeply personal discoveries that you are making currently. For now, you want to resolve the past rather than do anything that will bind you to it. Most people know very little about resolving anything, and tend to drag their personal history behind them in ways that are not useful. This prevents them from making any actual progress, which is another typical condition on the planet. I suggest you establish a relationship with your future and with your potential, and take your mission seriously. This will require you to do something beyond what most of your peers are up to, and to have a different approach and attitude. Devotion to your purpose sets you apart. It makes you visible. Relationships matter a lot now, which means honor your commitments, and pay attention to who does and does not honor theirs.

......................................................................................... Read Eric Francis daily at