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

Late Fall 2021


Publisher & Editor

Amy Bridge publisher@milfordjournal.com

Creative Director

Jimmy Sheehan jimmy@milfordjournal.com

Associate Editor

B’Ann Bowman bann_bowman@yahoo.com

Advertising

Amy Bridge amy@milfordjournal.com Susan Mednick susanmed2@optonline.net Kimberly Hess Kimberlyhess212@gmail.com

Contributors

Julia Schmitt Healy, Will Voelkel, Tamara Chant, Maureen Newman, Eric Francis, Robert Bowman

Mission

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 www.milfordjournal.com

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Contents

8

Late Fall 2021

• art •

Port Authority

Black Bear Film Festival Schedule 12 • Main Stage 14 • Salon

16

• history •

22

• food •

26

• life •

30

• nature •

George D.

Baking Good

Life with Layla Passive Solar

6 • journal entry 7 • poem 35 • signs

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

Late Fall 2021

Cover Line This is year 22 for Milford’s Black Bear Film Festival, whose mission is to find and feature exceptional independent films. 5


Journal Entry

Making It any readers are familiar with our Black Bear Film Festival issue. We’ve been a major sponsor and supporter since the magazine began twelve years ago, and we’ve always printed the festival’s schedule for the entire weekend in our issues. I’m so happy that the festival is back in person this year.

M

Summer Conservatory and the Performing Arts Project. Then she went on to graduate from Elon University’s BFA Music Theatre Program, which included spending a semester in London, studying Shakespeare, and earning a “Semester in Classical Acting” diploma from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

It’s an understatement to say that so much goes into the making of a film, but so much does go into it.

During her downtime from school, Maddie was enrolled in training and workshops that taught formal acting, film, voice, and dance, led by some of New York City's best.

In this issue, we’ve interviewed three film directors whose work will be shown at the festival, and we report on the varied backgrounds and inspirations that led them to their filmmaking. Writers, producers, directors, actors, and a very large crew— in fact, sometimes thousands of people—have invested tremendous amounts of energy into the work for months, if not years. Everyone comes to work on the film from different stages in their careers, but each movie is the summation of a lifetime of combined experiences from those involved in its production. The audience, mostly unaware of this mammoth effort, simply enters the theater and waits for the credits to roll, casting an air of anticipation into the room. I want to share a personal story about my 23-year-old niece, Madeline Hudelson. Maddie, as we call her, began her acting career at the age of three. Her story is not unique, but emphasizes my point about the work and dedication that goes on behind the scenes. As Maddie grew up, she had years and years of vigorous training in acting and musical theater, all while she performed in plays and musicals and danced competitively. In high school, she spent summers at the Paper Mill Playhouse

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This September, Maddie attended the premiere of her first feature length film. She was cast in The Cathedral, which was screened at the 78th Venice Biennale Film Festival in Venice, Italy, one of the top three film festivals in the world. Maddie found the experience to be, in her words, “inspirational, shocking, and really exciting.” “The final movie is a culmination of a lot of hard work. I really didn’t understand what I was a part of, until I got there,” Maddie explained, “because, then, I got to interact with people who were involved in so many different aspects of the film world. I saw that everyone is dedicated and has a real love for what they do, and I learned about the different perspectives and skills that they bring to the movie. The movie is equally important to everyone. It all comes together to make the piece.” When we sit down to watch a movie, we’re happily transported into a state of suspended disbelief. We don’t think about all that went into to this moviemaking experience, and—you know what—that’s exactly what everyone involved in the making wants us to do! Enjoy the film festival!

Amy


Photo by Jessica Newman

Poem

Cami Girl Sweet angelic child With sun kissed flaxen hair, Intimate with nature Seeking wonder and joy, Wandering like a breeze Spontaneous and fancy free, Representing childlike innocence And purity of heart, Uncomplicated enchanting spirit Natural and uninhibited, Like a sleeping baby Shielded from a harsh exploitative world. -Maureen Newman

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8


Art

By Julia Schmitt Healy

Port Authority

T

he opening film for the Black Bear Film Festival will no doubt introduce many in the audience to the Kiki Ballroom Scene—a subculture of sorts that consists of “family units” that have been formed, not by blood, but by the desire for understanding and connection. Members are often from gay and trans Latinx and Black backgrounds and are sometimes still in their teens, having been kicked out of the house or hurt physically and mentally by their parents or caregivers. Titled Port Authority, the film concerns a disaffected young man from Pittsburgh who decides to come to New York City, look up his half-sister, and…well, the truth is, he doesn’t have a plan. And what makes his being drawn into this community unusual is the fact that he is white and also straight. Written and directed by Danielle Lessovitz, the film brings forth an almost documentary-style grit that plunks viewers right down in the middle of this world. Suffice it to say that our hero, Paul, brilliantly played by actor Fionn Whitehead, has a rough time of things as he experiences the cruel underbelly of New York City, as well as the caring, community, and love that can exist alongside it. Also featured are stellar performances by Leyna Bloom, McCaul Lombardi, and many non-professional actors, who are real-life members of the ballroom scene. Lessovitz, who uses female pronouns but sees herself “quite genderless,” has had her films featured in numerous film festivals. She has won a NewFilmmaker Award from the Philadelphia Jewish Film Society and was a recipient of the Ben Lazaroff Award for screenwriting for her film, The Earthquake, which concerns the loss that Haitians living in New York “experienced from afar.”

Photos courtesy of Katrina Wan PR

Her career took an international leap when, in 2017, Mobile Homes, which she co-wrote with Vladimir de Fontenay, was featured in the Director’s Fortnight Series at Cannes Film Festival. Then in 2019, long before Covid-19 upended releases and distribution, Port Authority was also screened at Cannes, having gotten Martin Scorcese’s World Cinema to sign on as Executive Producer. She is quoted online as saying, “To feel like you have one of the most, if not the most, important American auteurs opening up his wisdom and his mentorship to you, is surreal.” I recently spoke by phone to Ms. Lessovitz, who was in Geneva, Switzerland, where she is teaching film and also developing new projects.

The Journal: Would you tell me a little about your background? Lessovitz: Well, I was born in San Francisco, and we had to move out of an abusive situation and, in order to be safe, wound up in Kansas City, where we didn’t have any relatives or know anyone. It was a weird experience. I was a bit of an outsider. I was Jewish; I was queer. We lived in Section 8 Housing, and it was tough-going. I felt shame. Eventually my mom was able to go to school and became a nurse. But, still, I knew I was different. I had no role models; I was isolated. We had no buffer zone, no safety net. I felt vulnerable. The Journal: And your school experience…? Lessovitz: It was the ’90s. I lived in a very evangelical, Christian situation. But I became involved with athletics in school and took up springboard and platform diving. I worked on mind/body control and that helped. I was actually State Champion one year. I also played piano and wrote songs while in high school. At 17, I went to college at Northwestern University, thinking maybe I would become a professional songwriter, but I was not sure of my direction. The Journal: Did you study filmmaking there? Lessovitz: Not originally. I thought I might want to be a writer of fiction, and I was also interested in journalism. While there, I was exposed to world documentary film, and I became interested in talking about real people through film. So I ended up majoring in documentary film. In my early 20s then, I thought my choice was going to be music versus film. The Journal: Happily you got a scholarship to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, which has a world-famous film school. Lessovitz: Yes, I studied there with Ira Sachs and made short films. In New York, you encounter many cultures, and I was able to think about marginalized communities and how I could communicate something deep and significant in film. Continued on next page 9


Art The Journal: So you based yourself in New York and got involved with the Brooklyn Film Collective, workshopped, and both wrote and co-wrote screenplays. And you were interested in expressing ideas related to social issues.

Lessovitz: It delayed the rollout. We were going to go all out during Pride Month in 2020, but…well, that didn’t happen. So it opened in theaters in May of 2021. And I think it remains a time capsule of 2017.

Lessovitz: Yes. I needed to have conversations that described economic inequality and toxic masculinity and white supremacy…also, politics…and nature.

The Journal: I’m glad we’ll be able to see it in Milford on a big screen. Tell, me, what are you working on at the moment?

The Journal: After Mobile Homes, which was a short documentary you made that was shown at Cannes, came your first feature-length film, Port Authority. How was it that you became interested in the ballroom community?

Lessovitz: I’m working a few things. I have a project in Alaska. I am also currently adapting a Susan Faludi book—In the Darkroom—which is about gender identity—specifically her father’s. There’s also a television project that has to remain secret for now. I continue to teach Film Directing at Rutgers University as well as teaching here in Geneva.

Lessovitz: It came about in a weird way. I didn’t even meet my father until I was 19. We developed a relationship of sorts…and then he took his life. Not too long after that I went to a ball. The dancing felt transcendent. I loved the idea of a chosen family as opposed to a genetic one. I spent some time thinking about the idea. I reached out to the community, and they pretty much welcomed me. I workshopped the script and met with many people in the Kiki Ballroom scene, adjusting the script and casting to reflect the lived experiences of the families. I loved, loved making this film. The Journal: Then covid hit.

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Continued

The Journal: I’m looking forward to those and what else you decide to do in the future. ......................................................................................... Danielle Lessovitz’s film, Port Authority, will be screened at the Black Bear Film Festival on Friday, October 15th at 5 p.m. Julia Schmitt Healy is an artist, teacher, and writer who currently lives and works in Port Jervis, N.Y. Her website is Juliahealy.com.


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Schedule

Black Bear Film Festival October 15th–17th, 2021 MAIN STAGE FILMS At the Milford Theater

Friday, Check in at the Tent in Front of the Theater, Doors Open at 4 p.m.

Fri. 5 p.m. • Port Authority (2019) After getting kicked out of his home in central Pennsylvania, Paul arrives at NYC’s dizzying central station with nowhere to go. A momentary encounter with Wye, a trans woman of color, leads him to seek her out. Transfixed by her beauty and confidence, a love soon blossoms, but as the two learn more about each other, Paul’s false narratives begin to surface, and the double life he lives must be reconciled.

Sat. 4 p.m. • Short Film Special Screening Exceptional work in the art of the short film. Followed by Q&As with some of the filmmakers and actors.

1:45, Drama. Executive produced by Martin Scorcese. Directed by Danielle Lessovitz. Staring Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk), Leyna Bloom. Virtual Q&A after the film with director Danielle Lessovitz. Following the film: Cocktail hour in the tent catered by the Tom Quick Inn—Open Bar, Small Plates, Desserts, plus Live Music from Joe Ferry and The Big Ska Band.

BOJ The Movie (2021) The journey of a man named after the prominent biblical figure and the parallels he discovered through surviving a stroke. What originated as a one-man play meant to premiere last summer (2020) in the NY Theatre Festival evolved into this short film due to the pandemic and theatre closing down around the world. 50:00, Comedy. Written and performed by Job Ethan Christenson. Directed by Isaac Bush.

Sat. 11 a.m. • Life With Layla (2021) Seven-year-old Layla is well aware of her family’s history of addiction. After losing her aunt to a fatal overdose, Layla’s family struggles to cope with their loss. With her Uncle Greg's heroin addiction escalating, Layla and her mom attempt to bring him home safely to keep their family from losing another loved one. 1:08:24, Documentary. Directed by Ken Spooner and Mike Mee. Q&A after the film with Ken Spooner.

Lady Hunters (2018) Three best friends, on a weekend retreat to the Adirondacks, learn a heinous gang rapist has been released from prison nearby. Incensed by the atrocious nature of the crime against a teenage girl, the three suburban moms find themselves novice killers and arbiters of justice. 15:33, Comedy thriller. Written and directed by Angela Atwood. Starring Angela Atwood, Lara Buck, Marianne Hardart.

Sat. 1:30 p.m. • Not Going Quietly (2021) Ady Barkan’s career as a public interest lawyer was thriving, and his wife Rachael had just given birth to their beautiful baby boy, but their lives change abruptly when he is diagnosed with ALS. A chance meeting with Senator Jeff Flake that goes viral inspires the “Be a Hero” campaign to replace the politicians who voted to take healthcare away. 1:37:00, Documentary. Directed by Nicholas Bruckman.

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www.blackbearfilm.com • 570.832.4858

No Longer Suitable For Use (2021) Samir, a Syrian FBI informant and single father, faces an impossible choice when he gets one final chance to avoid deportation by setting up a target in a terrorism sting. 21:00. Drama. Executive produced by Sam Rockwell. Written and directed by Julian Joslin. Starring Laith Nakli (Ramy), Craig muMs Grant (OZ, Bamboozled), Waleed Zuaiter, Ivan Martin, Michael Godere, Samir Zaim-Sassi.


Sat. 7 p.m. • My Brother, My Hero Forever (2021)

Sun. 3 p.m. • Ronnie’s (2020)

A chronicle of the life of saxophonist Ronnie Scott, owner of the legendary night club, Ronnie’s. Glorious clips from performances by jazz greats—Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Jimi Hendrix, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Van Morrison, Chet Baker, Sonny Rollins, and many more jazz icons.

This is the story of a powerful bond between two brothers who couldn’t be more different. 30:00. Documentary. Executive produced by Bill Rosado. Written and directed by Ken Vose.

1:46:00. Documentary. Directed by Oliver Murray.

Q&A will follow.

Sat. 8:45 p.m. •

Superior (2021)

Sun. 5:30 p.m. • Everything in the End (2021)

On the run, Marian returns to her hometown to hide out with her estranged identical twin sister, Vivian, but haunted by Marian’s past, their worlds begin to dangerously collide.

With her first feature film, Mylissa Fitzsimmons, recently nominated for the Lynn Shelton “Of a Certain Age” grant, presents Everything in the End, a story of a lonely traveler who finds human connections during the final days of Earth’s existence.

1:39:00. Drama. Directed by Erin Vassilopoulos. Starring Alessandra Mesa, Ani Mesa, Pico Alexander (Home Again, Dickinson), Jake Hoffman (The Irishman).

Sun. 10:30 a.m. •

The Tuneful Trolley (2021)

1:14:10. Drama. Directed by Mylissa Fitzsimmons. Starring Hugo de Sousa, Bergdis Julia Johannsdottir, Lilja Þórisdóttir, Joi Johannsson.

Sun. 7:30 p.m. •

1960’s boy-band, The Tuneful Trolley, reunited for the first time fifty years after their Capitol Records album, Island in the Sky, hit the store shelves in 1968. This documentary is about a band that almost made it, but it is also “about that time in life when just having a dream is reason enough to believe in it.” 1:26:35. Documentary. Directed by Joe Nolan.

Malaisia (2019)

Three “artsy” thirty nothings—Art, Gwen and Lance—spend too much time at Art’s bar. Gwen is Art’s girlfriend, Lance is his best friend, but Lance loves Gwen. Heard this one before? 2:06:00. Comedy. Directed by Mac Cappuccino. Starring Josh Nuncio, Sarah Baskin, Leo Santaiti.

Sun. 12:45 p.m. • Jack And The Treehouse (2021)

Jack is still reeling from the death of his grandfather when his father decides to sell the family’s woods. Unwilling to give up the place that meant so much to his grandfather, Jack holes up in a treehouse and refuses to come down. 1:17:00. Drama. Written and directed by Jim Schneider. Starring Cotter Smith, Eamonn McElfresh, Dave Mansueto.

www.blackbearfilm.com • 570.832.4858

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Schedule

Salon

Forester’s Hall, Milford, PA Saturday 11:00 a.m. • Climate and the Pandemic

Glass Door (2020) 6:48. Drama. Directed by Katherine King. Starring Katherine King, Sayra Player. Two women are separated by a pane of glass, a disease, and an uncertain future. High Risk (2021) 11:50. Documentary. Directed by Jacob Piller. As the COVID-19 pandemic strikes and the country goes into lockdown, Ernestine Meletiou processes the gravity of the situation and prepares for a new normal. Pennsylvania: A Fractured State (2020) 14:36. Documentary. Directed by Abbey Riggelman, Dan McNew. This film exposes that Pennsylvania has an Environmental Rights Amendment (ERA) to the constitution, giving citizens these rights to protect their environment for future generations. The following are three imaginative short films made by Vittorio Caratozzolo, a middle school teacher in Italy, and his students during the pandemic. Let’s Talk About It! (International Politics Is NOT A Child’s Play) (2020) 3:20. Directed by Vittorio Caratozzolo. The effects of human impact on the world can’t be resolved through conflicts and wars. We need to talk about it! Chemical Industries VS COVID-19 (2020) 4:30. Directed by Vittorio Caratozzolo. Zipping through the TV channels, we found a bizarre interview with COVID-19. Ode To The Climate (2020) 2:00. Directed by Vittorio Caratozzolo. The evidence of climate change pushes the Humans to ask Mother Nature “Why?”

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12:30 p.m.

OMA (2021) 47:08. Documentary. Directed by Griffin Cork. Following the death of her husband, retired nurse Sandy Moser claims that the arts saved her life.

2:00 p.m.

The Pandemic Nature Project (2021) 34:40. Documentary. Directed by David Heineman. A collection of personal creative and critical activity fashioned during the long months of social distancing.

3:00 p.m.

The Circle Of Moose (2020) 42:00. Documentary. Directed by Josefin Kuschela. This documentary gives a glimpse into the multiple ways in which moose and the people of Alaska are connected.

Shorts Showcase Part 1 4:00 p.m.

To Fondle Nothing (2021) 6:37. Comedy. Written and directed by Charles Leggett. Starring Charles Leggett. Charles Bukowski meets Lewis Carroll in this direct address rendering of a work of rhymed and metered borderline nonsense verse.

4:15 p.m.

Brando’s Spoon (2020) 7:10. Comedy. Directed by Mac Brydon. Starring Earle Hugens, William Tatlock Green, Jane Cortney. Two brothers, at odds, bicycle across New York City in hopes of locating a beloved family heirloom.

4:35 p.m.

The YouTuber Project (2021) 18:37. Mockumentary comedy. Directed by Cody Hawley. Starring Aidan Maloney, Connor Gregory, Connor Groves, Jenny Wallace. A mockumentary comedy film that follows a desperate group of teenagers seeking YouTube fame.


Continued

5:05 p.m.

Mama’s Boy (2021) 20:26. Drama. Directed by Daniel James Dismuke. Starring Jennifer Collins, Daniel James Dismuke. Gordon grows near the peak of his pill addiction, which stems from his mother’s lifelong drug use and negligence.

11:45 a.m.

Guide On (2020) 15:45. Drama. Directed by Paige Compton. Starring Shawntelle Lee Cuevas, Chiara Maya. Director Statement: This story is inspired by my experiences in Basic Combat Training for the US Army at Fort Jackson, SC, and captures the essence of the determined spirit of the modern woman.

5:35 p.m.

A Nice Guy (2021 France) 17:11. Comedy. Directed by Denise Powers. Starring Maya Sarac, Gautier Del-Pia, Jessie Lambotte, Thomas Arnaud, Jehanguir Byramjee. Chloé just wants a divorce but has misplaced the divorce papers. François just wants a girlfriend. Fortunately, he’s found Chloé’s divorce papers and will do anything to get them to her.

6:05 p.m.

One Night Only (2021 Hungary) 18:52. Drama. Directed by Lili Bordan. Starring Mihaly Szabados, Zoi Florosz. A vagabond actor, traveling through a strange city, collides with his longlost love—an illegal immigrant and cleaning lady he met back home in Hungary 25 years ago.

6:45 p.m.

Walks (2021 Canada) 11:49. Drama. Written and directed by Al J. Moran. Director Statement: “Walks is my dad’s story. It’s how he dealt with his own pancreatic cancer diagnosis.” Walks is about a good man coming to understand the grace of acceptance.

7:05 p.m.

Bandit’s Suite (2021 Austria) 19:04. Comedy. Directed by Marios Gloeckner. Starring Reinhold G. Moritz, Max Ortner, Jakob Oberschlick, Hisham Morscher, Caroline Hat. After a bank robbery four men are trapped in a hotel room together with an unplanned hostage, Maria, who works in the bank.

7:35 p.m.

Frankie (2020) 10:31. Drama. Directed by James Kautz. Starring Morgan Ruaidhri O'Sullivan, McCaleb Burnett, Richard Masur, Bhavesh Patel, Jesse R. Tendler, Matthew Lawler, Jonathan L. Schaefer, Gary Cook, Levi Morger. Frankie, a non-binary trans person, crashes their ex-partner’s men-only 12-step meeting, determined to be heard... no matter the cost.

Sunday Shorts Showcase Part 2 11:00 a.m.

SPOTLIGHT: Fuel For Life Documentary Series. Produced by Tim Behuniak. FFL: Alvin Garcia (2021) 5:20. Directed by Tommy Chandler. Alvin Garcia surrounds himself with a tight community and chooses to look at the glass half full. With his perspective comes new opportunities. And a new life. FFL: Blake Hansen (2021) 7:22. Directed by Katie Bennett and Blake Hansen. Some people spend their entire life discovering who they really are, and what they’re meant to do. Blake Hansen knew early on. FFL: Sam Elias (2021) 3:24. Directed by Mike Call. Fuel comes in many forms: food and liquid energy are just two. For Sam Elias, fuel also comes in the shape of art, emotion, and intention. FFL: Trevor Fuchs (2021) 5:12. Directed by Cam Mcleod. Becoming a professional athlete was Trevor Fuch’s childhood dream. But with success comes new expectations, and a new reality to learn to live with.

12:15 p.m.

“Sellout” (2021) 16:15. Drama. Directed by Trevor M. Edwards. Starring Norlian Lambe, Roxie Johnson, Emmanuel Kerry, Liam Harrington. Michael is a straight-A black student with a severe identity crisis, and when a traumatic event occurs, he is forced to choose how he will live his life.

12:45 p.m.

Show Must Go On (2021) 24:00. Documentary. Directed by J.R. Jones. The story of four women who show us that it is never too late to reinvent yourself. Performing in front of sold-out audiences as the comedy musical act, Hot Stuff, these ladies refuse to sit still and encourage others to do the same.

1:30 p.m.

The Road To Justice (2021) 30:00. Documentary. Directed by Kaliya Warren, Brendan Hall. The Road to Justice follows two groups on a civil rights tour through the American South as they reckon with our painful history of racial injustice.

2:15 p.m.

Dreaming Of Words (2021) 60:00. Documentary. Directed by Nandan. Njattyela Sreedharan, a fourth standard drop-out, compiles a dictionary connecting four Indian languages. Dreaming of Words traces Sreedharan’s life, work, love for languages, and the struggles to get the dictionary published.

3:30 p.m.

The Halloween Machine (2021) 3:04. Documentary. Directed by Renee Heath. Guaranteed a Trick, a Treat & Even a Scare... Made of Lionesses presents, The Halloween Machine by 13 Skeletons. Built by Jim Adams & friends/family (Bridgewater, NJ) in support of the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest, committed to equity and access in STEM and STEAM education.

Horror and Suspense 3:45 p.m.

Killing Time (2021) 7:11. Thriller. Written and directed by Michael Gilliss. Starring Javan Nelson, Alexandra Voelmle, Gina Martino. A serial killer travels through time on a crime spree sans consequence.

4:00 p.m.

All Men Can Be Monsters (2021) 18:00. Horror. Directed by Christian Fescine. Starring Everett Lauster, Kayla Orben, Kevin McComb, Eric Cuevas. After waking up outside with no memory of his attack the night before, Chris continues a life of being a pushover. When he decides to confront his troubles, things get out of hand.

5:15 p.m.

Divertimento (2020) 30:00. Thriller. Written and directed by Keyvan Sheikhalishahi. Starring Kellan Lutz (Twilight), Torrey DeVitto, Ola Rapace (Skyfall), Götz Otto (Cloud Atlas, Tomorrow Never Dies, Schindler's List), Christian Hillborg (Fleabag), Ellie Heydon, Brittany Gonzales Lutz. Jonas Olsen, a chess player haunted by a tragic past, is given an opportunity to participate in a mysterious game, Divertimento.

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16


History

By Amy Bridge

I

’ve always felt a sense of romantic nostalgia, a peek into yesteryear when I’ve come across an old-fashioned general store sitting on a winding country road in my travels around the country. As I’ve walked through the old glasspaned doors and over the wide wooden-planked floors, and been greeted with a smiling face or two, I’m reminded of an era pre-automobiles, pre-airplanes, and even pre-telephone. It’s real Americana. Back in the 19th century, the general store was the meeting place for the community. Folks went there to share and hear news and local gossip. There was usually a post office inside and a wood stove, and everything from food stuffs to whisky to overalls and hats, even hardware, was available for sale. The idea for the general store came as settlers established farms and built communities and were looking for a more permanent place to acquire goods than the early trading posts. In the latter 20th century, the general stores were replaced by small specialty shops. I grew up frequenting a cheese shop, a bakery, a fish market, and even a candy store, all in the same town. We knew the shop owners, and they knew their customers.

Photos courtesy of Dean Voris

But nowadays, our society has become convenience oriented, in a way that the general store never was. In many towns, we have a conglomerate of products available in a personality-less, environmentally sterile box store. Fast music plays loudly over background speakers ushering you down the aisles of your shopping experience at lightning speed, as the move towards impersonal self-checkout gains momentum across the country.

George D. Garris

Garris’s General Store

“Three years later, on September 27th, 1874, using his mustering out money that he accrued from the war, he purchased the lot, on which he and his father John would construct the present-day George D. Garris General Store, which opened in 1876. “The building itself was one of the first balloon-framed buildings in the area. Many local farmers didn’t trust it, as they were accustomed to the timber-framed type. History records that this prompted them to stand on the road and shout their orders in—to avoid going inside. “The new store was twenty foot by forty foot; the front thirty feet served as the store and the rear ten feet served as storage. George D., along with his wife Margaret Hill Garris, who was born in 1855, and their two children, resided upstairs. Today, the apartment remains as it was then, rough sawn floors and plaster walls adorned with fancy period wallpaper. “Near the end of that century, the back ten feet were incorporated into the store, and a twelve foot ‘ice cream barn’ addition was constructed onto the rear of the store. George D. and his father built a residence next-door and the upstairs was converted into storage.”

So why would Dean Voris, a former state trooper from Stillwater, NJ, decide to spend two years of his life painstakingly renovating the Garris General Store in his hometown?

In order to understand why Voris, along with his wife Albina, decided to purchase and restore the general store, we must understand its historical chronology.

Voris shared some of the history of this store, which he learned from the Garris family and from many of the old timers in town, as well as archived information from local newspapers and the Stillwater Historical Society.

• In 1938, George D. passed away. He was the oldest store keeper in the United States at the time. George D. left the store to his son, Charles M. Garris (1877–1949), who was married to Linnie Hendershot Garris. • When he died, Charles, who was the oldest and longest serving postmaster in the county, left the store to his son, Harold C. Garris (1915–2003) and his wife Doris House Garris (1915–2008). They were the last generation of the Garris family to own and operate the Garris General Store. • In April 1981, they sold the store, and it went through a succession of owners and fell into disrepair. • The Vorises who had been good friends with Doris and Harold Garris purchased the store in July 2016 and began the restoration in May 2017, in honor of their friends.

“George Dallas Garris was born in 1846 and raised in the flourishing (at the time) village of Flatbrookville, ‘over the blue mountain’ as it was commonly referred to. George D. was then called or enlisted into the Union Army to fight in the Civil War, where he served in the Second New Jersey Cavalry. At the conclusion of the war, George settled on this side of the mountain, and in 1871 rented a storefront on Main Street in the Village of Stillwater and opened up the George D. Garris General Store.

Continued on next page

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History

Their goal was to restore and rent out the store, but sometime during the process of restoration, they fell in love with the history of the building and the concept of running the general store. They decided to operate the store, rather than simply rent it out. “When we worked on the building,” Voris continued, “it explained its history lesson to me, as it was being ‘surgically disassembled.’ The front thirty feet—the interior walls, ceiling and floor—were constructed board on board, then covered with a mixture of craft paper and wallpaper. As we peeled off each layer of paint and paper, we could travel back in time and easily determine the order in which each was installed. “The ten-foot storage area was finished with plaster and lathe, as was the ice cream barn. The subfloor originally served as the finished floor and was later covered with one-inch by six-inch tongue and groove pine, and then some areas were replaced with hardwood. “As we reconstructed, we removed all of the flooring down to the timbers upon which the new floor was installed. The original timbers exist today, many were just trees—one side flattened with a broad axe or an adz. We installed a skip-planed white oak floor that looks original; it was cut and dried by a local sawmill. Many people stop in and ask how we managed to preserve the original floor so well! “During the process, we took all of the walls down to the studs, and I discovered old bottles and some old coins where the cash register must have been, including an 1899 Indian Head penny, found at the juncture where the ice cream barn was added on. “Our crown jewel, though, was discovering the old nine-bytwelve timber-framed cabin that the store was constructed around. There was always a timber in the middle of the old 18

Continued

kitchen, and I couldn’t figure out why. As I began disassembly, I started to see an indication of another building within the building. “What I uncovered was a cabin made with a combination of hand-hewn and hand-split timbers. It had its own window, door, and a chimney of old clay bricks. It either existed when George D. purchased the lot or was constructed as the original homestead. We disassembled and reassembled this exactly as it was. Today, it stands in the back of the lot behind the store.” “I saved as much of the old wood and nails as I could,” added Voris, “and integrated them into the new construction. I figured this would add good karma. For example, the old kitchen had been built on six-by-six hand-hewn timbers—today they support a beam between the store and the eight-foot addition that we constructed. “Many of the recovered one-by-six boards were turned over, skip-planed, and turned into trim; the bathroom was adorned with raised panels that I constructed out of the old kitchen floor; and even the bathroom mirror is framed with an old shelf. “In 1924, the store had been robbed at gunpoint by a young man who asked for change of a quarter, which he put on the counter. Mrs. Viola Warner, who was George D.’s daughter, opened the cash register, and the man drew a revolver from his pocket. ‘I have one, too,’ was her reply, as she drew a revolver from the register. The young man fled, leaving the quarter on the counter. Today, the gun is framed and hanging on the wall. “The Stillwater Post Office is still located within the store, but when we moved it into the new addition…well, that’s its own story! We did manage to keep the old brass mailboxes, 250 of them, although it was a battle with the USPS. Continued on page 20


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History “In the course of restoration, I came across some old pictures showing the front of the store bearing the name George D. Garris General Store, above the porch. When I got down to the original siding, I was hoping that the letters were still there, but they had been painted over. So I went up there with a palm sander, a scraper, and the picture and located the old letters. We repainted the original letters in their original color, chrome green.

“It’s been a long journey, and with things the way they are (covid), it’s going to be an even longer one. Because of the times we live in, business is difficult, but we are committed, and our community has been very supportive. By completing this project and continuing to live it, I feel that I am fulfilling my destiny. George D. played a major role in the history of our country and the history of Stillwater, and it is our intention to not let his name be forgotten.”

“We opened the general store on January 6, 2020. In honor of George D. and in honor of the Civil War, many of our meals have names relative to Civil War figures of prominence: the U.S. Grant Burger, the Daniel Butterfield Chicken Sandwich, our Louisa May Alcott Salad. And during construction, I had found a gravestone for Wilbur Maines who passed away in 1888 at the age of 26. There was some connection to him and this project, so we named our Turkey BLT, the Wilbur Maines.

The Vorises have brought back the Garris vision of a community hub. Although their store is not a true general store, in the old-fashioned sense, this is the place where people go to experience a taste of the olden days.

“Time marches on. George D. is gone, so is my friend Lawrence Earl, who knew George D. Earl was best friends with Harold Garris. There is one remaining relative who knew George D. She is Virginia Casson, his great granddaughter—who is 94 now. And she still comes to see me.

20

Continued

“When someone walks through our glass-paned doors, they are the most important person in the world. Here they are greeted by a smiling face or two,” Dean Voris says. “We want to know what they have going on in their lives. We will work hard to get to know things, for example, how they like their morning coffee, so we can have it ready for them when they come in. It means a lot to me when they come, but it means more when they come back.” And by embracing that philosophy, the legacy of America’s general stores continues on.


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22


Food

T

he positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible,” said Winston Churchill. Rhiannon Menn is one of those woman who lives by Churchill’s words, and her story of Lasagna Love can serve as an inspiration for all of us.

Photos courtesy of Lasagna Love

As the pandemic began its grip on the country, many Americans were looking for a safe and thoughtful way to stay connected with each other at a time when we were disconnected—from everyone and everything. In May of 2020, Rhiannon Menn and her daughter began delivering their homecooked lasagna to struggling community members in her neighborhood. Some people were contending with income or job loss and food insecurity; others were overwhelmed or fearful. Menn realized that what was needed most was comfort and kindness, and she started preparing extra meals to deliver to neighbors’ doorsteps. Menn believed that this contactless approach provided a small break from everyday worries and would reassure her neighbors that someone cared for them. At the time, she and her family were living in San Diego, where her gesture first caught the eye of community members who were moved to action and asked if they could join her in making and delivering meals. The movement picked up steam when the Menn family moved to Boston, and she continued her philanthropic work. California and Massachusetts were percolating at

By Amy Bridge

the same time, and ultimately, the movement that she created began traversing the entire U.S. Employing all of her talent and skills, Menn, who by now had moved with her family to settle in Hawaii, formed a nonprofit organization and built Lasagna Love from her original kind gesture into an organic viral movement that has spread across the nation. Lasagna Love has been widely featured across major media for the past year: Associated Press, Washington Post, NBC Nightly News, Kelly Clarkson, The TODAY Show, Good Morning America, and hundreds more. To date, Lasagna Love has impacted more than 428,000 lives through the delivery of more than 100,000 meals, delivering an average of 2,500 to 3,500 lasagnas each week. And this has all happened in just one year. How does it work? Lasagna Chefs are volunteers who prepare the lasagnas every week and deliver them at no cost to local families who have privately signed up to request a meal. No questions are ever asked, which eliminates stigmas and barriers associated with asking for help. Dietary requests are available, such as gluten free or vegetarian. Once the family is matched with their local Lasagna Chef, a day and time for contactless delivery is scheduled. Continued on next page

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Food How many Lasagna Chefs support Lasagna Love? Lasagna Love has united more than 20,000 volunteers from all walks of life, decimating invisible barriers created by gender, age, race, politics, or socio-economic background. Women, men, couples, families, and even clubs and organizations have participated in the movement. The organization is currently in all 50 states plus Puerto Rico and has just announced global expansion into Australia and Canada. How can someone get involved with Lasagna Love? Sign up on the website, www.lasagnalove.org. There is a complete, but brief, online training about safe food preparation to complete. It’s up to each volunteer to participate as much or as little as they want to. Even the Regional Leaders and Regional Directors are volunteer, and many work fulltime jobs. The newly minted nonprofit’s ultimate vision is to weave kindness back into the very fabric of our everyday lives. “Even as we emerge from the pandemic,” Rhiannon Menn reminds us, “acts of kindness will forever be a welcome sight. We envision an ongoing need not only to feed families, but to spread kindness during a time when uncertainty about many things remains high. One small act of comfort can change a mindset.”

24

Continued

Giving Voice Molly Yearick • Northern, NJ Regional Leader “I joined last summer, after I saw the founder on The Today Show and was very inspired by her story of giving back to the local community through this national effort. During the lockdown, I lost my job in the apparel industry and did a lot of soul searching. I had been seeking a way to give back, and this hit my heart. I knew I loved to cook; it’s comforting to me. “I signed up to cook, and I’m now the Regional Leader for North Jersey, working with 5 counties. Our presence in the state is growing every week. In early September, our Regional Director brought 1,500 meals to flood victims in NJ. I’m employed parttime now, but still make time for this, because it’s so close to my heart. One of my recipients told me ‘This is the nicest thing anyone’s done for me in a long time’… that’s why we do this.” Jen Petersen • Orange, Sullivan & Ulster Counties, NY Regional Leader “I work for the Fallsburg, NY, Central School District as an elementary school speech pathologist. My parents raised me to be a conscientious, compassionate, and generous human being. So, last November, when I read about Lasagna Love, I felt a calling to sign up. My husband also became involved, helping me with the cooking. “What I truly love about this organization is that there is no judgement involved. We bring meals to people who have a financial need and those in warming shelters or to food pantries, but also to people who have an emotional need, such as those taking care of elderly parents or first responders who are just exhausted and need to take care of their own families. Our mission is to spread kindness. I also love that there is no commitment. As a volunteer, you can participate once a week, weekly, monthly—it’s very flexible. We are always looking for chefs in our area, especially coming into the colder season. It feels good to help people.”


25


26


Life

By Will Voelkel

It’s All About Hope and Family

Life with Layla

A local Sussex County family is the subject of Life with Layla, a heartbreaking, yet inspirational, film about a family’s drug and alcohol addictions.

en Spooner sat down recently with The Journal to speak about the professional and personal joys and K challenges of making the 68-minute documentary film,

Life with Layla. Ken and his friend and colleague Mike Mee met in film class at Montclair State University in 2013 and are co-producers and co-directors of the film. Life with Layla follows the story of the Borras family of Sussex County, NJ, in which five of seven close family members struggle with heroin, alcohol, and crack cocaine addiction. The film primarily views the family’s story from seven-yearold Layla’s point-of-view over a period of four years as she learns to cope with and understand the family’s struggles. Of the seven family members the film focuses on, only Layla and her mom Cait have escaped the addictions.

Photos courtesy of Ken Spooner

The Journal: Ken, family addiction is obviously a tough subject to deal with in life and from a storytelling perspective. How would you describe the film’s content and tone? Spooner: It’s a raw film, and the best way I can describe the tone is to say that it’s a roller coaster of emotions, more really than any human should deal with. Throughout the film, you experience sadness, chaos, and grief, yet there are many moments that are uplifting where you’re rooting for Layla and the rest of the family. The Journal: You filmed over the course of four years. Talk about the relationship between you and Mike and the Borras family. Spooner: Mike and I have been friends since we met in college. I think the relationship with the Borras family is

one of the things that makes the film so powerful. We developed a trust very early in the filmmaking process that encouraged the family to open up. We all became more than filmmakers and subjects. We became friends, and because the family allowed us to intimately explore their lives, we became confidants as well. At this stage, if they need us for anything, we’d be there for them even in the middle of the night. The Journal: What do audiences take away from the film? Spooner: It can be easy to dismiss or not relate to addicts. The film gives all of us insight into what other people struggle with, sometimes behind the scenes. The audience learns to bond with and empathize with each of the family members on a very personal level. The Journal: What inspired you and Mike to make Life with Layla? Spooner: I lost a good friend to a drug overdose in 2014, and Mike was touched by a family tragedy. Steve McCarthy, our executive producer and college professor, is now a good friend and mentor who encouraged us all along the way. After these events, Mike and I wondered, how can we make a difference using the filmmaking techniques we learned at Montclair State University? How could we tell a story that would help and inspire others? The only way we know how to do that is by picking up a camera and telling a story. It takes time, money, and teamwork, and the three of us work really well together. The Journal: What’s the heart of the film? Continued on next page

27


Life Spooner: Ultimately, the film is a tribute to the Borras family, a tribute to dealing with adversity and maintaining hope. The Journal: How about your biggest challenges in making the film? Spooner: As with most young filmmakers, just making the film was difficult although incredibly satisfying. There were many long hours of planning, filming, and editing. Raising money was very, very difficult, although Nancy Abraham at HBO Documentaries, Morris County Prevention, our families, and several other sources helped in this area. The biggest challenge of all now is getting a platform to get more eyes on it. The Journal: That’s almost always the case, isn’t it? What was the most exciting or satisfying part of making the film for you personally? Spooner: The fact that I didn’t know where the film would take us. Being able to take a million pieces and hundreds of hours of film and put them together to tell a compelling story was exciting. We believe we met our goal of helping others by telling a story of hope and perseverance and family among the direst of circumstances. We hope the Black Bear Film Festival audience will feel the same way.

Continued

what they have to do to take money back from the man to pay off their loans. Mike, Steve, and I have also talked about making a film about Layla’s grandfather Greg, who is featured in Life with Layla and, sadly, passed away this past August. Greg was a great man, and there’s so much more of his story to tell. It’s just in the talking stages right now, but we’d really like to pursue it. The Journal: Thank you, Ken. Given the fact that the Borrases are a local family, I’m sure the film will touch people on many levels. Additional Thoughts: Mike Mee, Co-Director What I hope the audience takes away from Life with Layla is that addicts are people. We learned very early on while making this film that the Borras family were incredibly kind people—not just drugs addicts. Looking back on it now, during some moments, I forgot about their addictions when I was behind the camera because it helped me see them differently. We got a front row seat, learning who they were as humans (as fathers, as daughters, as siblings). They are good people who suffer from a disease. Addiction is a disease that can take the life of any of us at any given moment. And that is the message we want people to leave with. Also, there IS hope. There IS help out there. People want to help and care so deeply about the topic of addiction because, unfortunately, everybody knows somebody that has suffered from this disease. It affects all of us. Don’t give up.

The Journal: So what’s next for you? Spooner: I direct and produce commercials, and I’m working on a few passion projects right now. One is called Indebted. It’s about student loan debt. That film is not going to be a documentary. It’s going to be a coming-of-age story about a couple of small-town guys from the town where I grew up. They went away to college, they got their degrees, but they came out of college drowning in $100,000 of student loan debt, and they can’t even find a job. I’m in the process of writing it and figuring it out. It’s going to be very different from Layla. It will be a lighthearted look at

28

....................................................................................... Life with Layla will be screened at the Black Bear Film Festival on Saturday, October 16th, at 11 a.m. at the Milford Theater. The directors, Layla, and other Borras family members will speak about their personal experiences in making the film. Will Voelkel is a New York City native who happily settled in Milford eight years ago. A film aficionado, he runs his own corporate training firm and is a former Board member and Executive Director of the Black Bear Film Festival.


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30


Nature

By Tamara Chant

Living in the Ramirez Solar House

T

he Ramirez Solar House sits vacant atop a knoll on Raymondskill Falls Road just south of Milford Borough, PA, in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The solar house was designed in 1944 by architect Henry Wright, Jr. (no relation to Frank Lloyd Wright). Wright was an early pioneer in the field of passive solar research and design. A 1910 summer house was already on the property, and Wright decided to use it as a sustainable renovation for his solar house. This was one of two original solar houses in the United States.

The Ramirez Solar House, as part of the DWGNRA, is owned by the National Park Service. The photos and illustration at left and above appeared at barbaracampagna.com.

John Donahue, retired Superintendent of the Park Service, once told me that it was folklore that Dave Chant lived in the house. I answered that my family did indeed rent this house from 1972 to 1975. We called it “The Raymondskill House.” My mom, Dorothy Chant, remembers that we were fortunate to learn that the owner, Mr. Nadler, wanted to move out, and we were very glad that he wanted to rent it to us. Nadler agreed to allow us to do some minor renovations to the property, which included adding wallpaper, as well as building a barn on to the foundation of the existing barn and fencing in fields, so that we could develop a horse business on the 135 acres. We had a four-stall barn, which exists today, and you can still catch a glimpse of the riding ring, just past the stone entrance-way pillars. Local families took riding lessons with us weekly. For my sister and me, the work on our farm started with a walk to the barn to feed the horses and clean the stalls, and then a walk to Rte 2001 to grab the school bus. I loved the land, the waterfalls, and the artifacts on the property. Along with the nature and beauty, the home had a sense of historical importance. Out on the front porch, under lines of a simple, yet impressive, roof, were lovely stone walls with wide flat tops— a perfect place to nap or to sit and chat, with the noise of the babbling creek in the background. Whimsical, magical, and adventurous—these were the feelings our property held for me. We had a view of two waterfalls, and in front of the guest house, twisted metal ladders hugged the side of the cliff ’s rocks—a steep and somewhat treacherous climb down to the water’s edge,

leading the way to a frothy swimming hole. I was 12 to 15 years old when we lived there, so I was adventurous, but not without thought. We had great trails to horseback ride on, and the barn cats, Brainless and Dinky, would walk down that elegant long driveway, the one we learned to drive on. The abandoned guesthouse was a mess, but it was just part of the rental. For us, it holds its own history as the main set of my silent monster film production, a requirement for English class at Delaware Valley, in 1974….Mad scientist and hunchback assistant capture wayward couple in their lab (the perfect use for the guesthouse). The couple was saved after a treacherous waterfall accident scene …. If I find this film, with the horror music as background, it will one day be in the local film festival! I have to ask DV friends who starred in it if they remember. The house was magical too—large, light, and peaceful; the basement cool and cavernous. Many parties were held at our house, either in front of the fireplace or in the openplan dining area. The cabinetry was big and easy to hide in and went back into the eaves. Behind the closet in my room was a second door to a secret closet in the eaves. This was an alcove room with a full bath. In the summer, my bedroom was at the top of the stairs over the great room that had the eighteen-foot Thermopane glass window on the southeast side. Thermopane came on the market in 1935 and reduced heat loss by 50 percent. Wright put in removable windows that would channel downdrafts of air into hidden radiators. This would help heat the house; he also installed subfloor radiators and Continued on next page

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Nature

Continued

other built-in technological improvements that were used In 2009, the renowned architect Frederic Schwartz of NYC with the original steam heating system to keep costs down. was brought in to design the Pike County Library in Milford. In 2010, a nonprofit was formed by his firm to manMy mom says that the plans for the house were in a closet age and restore the Ramirez house. Sadly, Mr. Schwartz along with lots of interesting things that Nadler left when passed away in 2014. he moved out. Recently, there has been talk of pending good news for Wright heeded the Northeastern climate and made sure to my old home. It is my hope that soon the Ramirez Solar have some control over humidity and heat in the summer. House will become supported, cared for, and turned into The house’s system worked. It was warm in the winter, and a Center for the Study of Sustainably Built Homes by the cool in the summer. National Park Service.

32

I still consider the Ramirez Solar House, with its four full bathrooms and five bedrooms, my home. I loved life there. The circular driveway, the overgrown wisteria-covered pergola, the stairs out back, and the walkway to nowhere were all grand and mysterious. Good places to wander and imagine who had walked here and what it had looked like.

The impact that this house had on my family was huge. Today my sister, Holley Chant, is a Director of Sustainability currently with Google/Landlease, and formerly with Quiddiya, KSA and KEO Abu Dhabi, UAE. Was she moved to follow this career by growing up in an iconic, sustainably built solar house?

When the Tocks Island Dam Project’s attorneys started to get organized, we had to move. An attorney was hired, and there was a big discussion about whether they would pay for the horse fences that we owned. I do not remember the move, but only the adventure of living at the Raymondskill House.

Now, that’s a “sit by the waterfall and think about it” kind of question. .........................................................................................

Tamara Chant is a licensed realtor in NY and PA. Her office is located in Milford, PA


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34


Signs

Planet Waves by Eric Francis

Aries

(March 20-April 19)

When you look back, you will see that these years of Chiron in your birth sign or ascendant were an unusual and even marvelous time of advancement and growth, of evolution and becoming. Yet do you see this time that way now? Chiron can feel like the shoe that does not fit — until you walk in it for a while, and notice where you are, as contrasted with where you were. Chiron is a utility that will keep calling your attention to all that is not resolved.

Taurus

(April 19-May 20)

You may feel on top of the world, as if you possess some unusual power, influence or control over your destiny. However, be cool and relax: one pitfall of of Saturn in the 10th house is arrogance. While you may possess a modicum of superiority to certain others, you still need them. And while your commanding presence is capable of being used as a tool to get people in line, remember that you are either not tolerating others telling you what to do, or are doing a good impression.

Gemini

(May 20-June 21)

The forthcoming Mercury retrograde in Libra (exact Sept. 27 - Oct. 18, with a three-week margin on either side) may dredge up some old material you thought you were done with. Yet you will discover that it's excellent fodder for both healing and creativity. Be grateful for what you learn, and for what you discover was unresolved. Your ruling planet Mercury's passage through Libra, now underway will help you see the ways in which you have given up your power and provide opportunities to claim it back.

Cancer

(June 21-July 22)

Beware of people and situations that undermine your confidence. I don't mean avoid; I mean, be aware, and see if you can figure out how and why certain circumstances lead you to doubt your confidence. They are likely to be the same kinds of situations where you will not stop and check the facts and viewpoints when you truly need to. All month long, planets will be buzzing around Libra, your 4th solar house.

Leo

(July 22-Aug. 23)

It's essential that you be aware of situations that are defined by hazy or foggy agreements. They are where misunderstanding can slip in, along with more nefarious kinds of problems. Follow any misunderstanding, no matter how small, as evidence of a potential problem with an agreement. Planets are now moving into position that will tend to make you more decisive and self-assertive, then after that, you may find that you're doubting yourself.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)

You are your own person. Anyone who tries to tell you or sell you otherwise is a con artist, religious huckster or politician. Presently there are many looming about, though they will not be wearing a friendly ID sticker. This matters much less as long as you are willing to assert yourself in any situation where you are personally challenged to go against your own morals, ethics, or self-interest.

Libra

(Sep. 22-Oct. 23)

One question I would ask you: are you indebted to the past, or the future? The answer may be neither,

though I doubt it. Your heritage is calling you; so too is our current experience of history-in-the-making. Your ancestors are speaking to you, and so too is your responsibility to your children, grandchildren and all the young people on Earth.

Scorpio

(Oct. 23-Nov. 22)

There is plenty you don't know about yourself. You may not think so, though how can you be sure? It will help if you are open to discovery, and reassess your policy of keeping secrets from yourself. I have a theory about that: you may feel that what you fully acknowledge about yourself, others will have a way of seeing into. So if you throw a scrim over your innermost feelings, you will be have some distance and some privacy from others.

Sagittarius

(Nov. 22-Dec. 22)

Make a list of everything you're certain about; all that you've made up your mind about; all that seems settled the way that it is — the important things, and the ordinary ones. Since there are likely to be a few, maybe just take a sample of the ones that stand out, or that you think about often. This is your list of what would benefit from rethinking, revision, reworking and reassessment.

Capricorn

(Dec. 22-Jan. 20)

It may seem like some unseen force is guiding you or instructing you. This is always the case, though you may be noticing something different is influencing you, guiding you, or providing some unusual sense of motivation. What would that be? Well, whatever it seems to be, it's not outside yourself. You contain all those organs and facets of consciousness, if only by being aware of them. However, at the moment, it would be wholesome to practice some uncertainty, and to keep open your process of both observation and decision-making.

Aquarius

(Jan. 20-Feb. 19)

You may be wondering when it will all change, or when the challenges will let up. I don't blame you, though that is not the thing to count on. You are at the point where you must count on yourself and rise to the confrontation, revelation or situation in the most affirmative frame of mind that you can muster. Saturn in your sign can feel like the presence of total responsibility. This is true for everyone, though Saturn connects to Capricorn, your 12th house, which can give its presence a much larger feeling, with greater pressure, sense of limits or sense of potential.

Pisces

(Feb. 19-March 20)

There are days when your whole life feels like you're gazing through a fog, and cannot make out any recognizable shapes. Other times you may feel like you're in the dark, which you might trust more than someone in the 18th century being handed night-vision goggles. In foggy conditions, the tendency is to focus in the zone of what would be immediately before you. What if you use the method of the Magic Eye books and rest your gaze further out, behind the book, and behind where the air is too dense to see through? ..........................................................................................

Read Eric Francis daily at PlanetWaves.net. 35


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