A Season of Hope and Renewal Journal Entries of the Upper Delaware River Region â&#x20AC;¢ Serving PA, NJ & NY
Winter 2020 Publisher & Editor
Amy Bridge firstname.lastname@example.org
• history •
• food •
Susan Mednick email@example.com
• life •
• nature •
Jimmy Sheehan firstname.lastname@example.org B’Ann Bowman email@example.com Amy Bridge firstname.lastname@example.org
Kimberly Hess Kimberlyhess212@gmail.com
• art •
Taking the Train
Meet Marilyn Feeling Old
Michael Hartnett, Julia Schmitt Healy, Martin Schmalenberg, Joe Ferry, Daniel Goncalves, Zoe Gleason, Eric Francis, Robert Bowman
The tri-state upper Delaware River highlands and valleys are a place of rare beauty….
6 • journal entry
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.
7 • poem
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.
25 • of note 33 • signs
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
A Season of Hope and Renewal Journal Entries of the Upper Delaware River Region • Serving PA, NJ & NY
Cover Line “Out of difficulties grow miracles.” -Jean de La Bruyere, 17th Century French Philosopher 5
The Wind and the Water
n this time of global pandemic, it can be so difficult to feel gratitude.
for the magnanimous things that people do for each other, even the smallest acts of kindness.
Our lives have been disrupted, our schedules are amiss, many incomes have been affected, and loved ones infected, or worse, but we’ve adjusted somewhat to the new normal, as the seasons roll on. I think that I can speak for all of us in saying that we are still having a hard time getting used to our state of affairs.
But the most important thing on my gratitude list is the love that I have in my life: my family, my friends, my community. It’s the folks that I have so much to share with and what they share with me in return; showing compassion and love to each other, even in the face of a pandemic, is rewarding, and for that I am grateful. There is good in this world, even in the middle of hard times. I find that if I focus on my thoughts of gratitude it helps me to get by. There are people who care, no matter how hard things may be, and I strive to live by that example.
But what actually is gratitude and how do we find it in this holiday season, especially? Poet/Author David Whyte really says it best in his book, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words: “Gratitude is the understanding that many millions of things come together and breathe together in order for us to take even one more breath of air, that the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a living, participating human being is a privilege; that we are miraculously, part of something, rather than nothing. Even if that something is temporarily pain or despair, we inhabit a living world, with real faces, real voices, laughter, the color blue, the green of fields, the freshness of a cold wind, or the tawny hue of a winter landscape.” For me, to sit back and quietly contemplate what it is that I am grateful for, is a wonderful exercise. A list starts to form. Focusing in on the list really helps me to keep grounded and navigate in my world. Gratitude begins by realizing, understanding, that life is precious and not taking that for granted. It is being grateful for the things I have, for the beauty of the natural world around me, and
For this upcoming holiday season, I will focus on the ideology behind the different holidays that we will be celebrating. It’s not about the frenetic preseason rush to shopping malls or buying the right wrapping paper. It’s about wrapping up our intentions of appreciation. It has been so wonderful to put this Holiday issue of The Journal together. Working with Jimmy and B’Ann again, with Susan and Kim, collaborating with our writers and our advertisers—it brings me back to old times, pre-Covid. When we announced that we were going to publish again, the reception to the news was heartwarming. Gratitude is feeling the love and being thankful for it. On top of that, gratitude is wanting to give back. I hope that you enjoy this Holiday issue of The Journal, and while you are reading it, please keep our intentions in mind. Happy Holidays!
Do you hear that? The wind and the water? Each of them competing to be heard Over the silence that comes from the Ancient, unmoving Earth, covered in A thick blanket of leaves trapping All sound which lies on the surface. Do you hear that whistling wind? That great pollinator, which scattered The pollen and seeds Of Earth’s plants As it cuts through the trees and Sends a brisk chill Through your body? Do you hear the bubbling of the creek? Of the water from which All life has come from Billions of years ago, That babble bringing a rhythm to the world? But which is louder? The wind, or the water? The water only goes where it must go. It does not have a choice in the matter. It simply falls from the sky, Flows wherever gravity and geography guide it Until it joins a larger body of water, Before getting evaporated into the sky Repeating itself all over again. It gives and takes away life, All while the patter of its rain or The babbling of its brook Soothe you Like the tender voice Of a mother in the night. But the wind is blown. The air is forced into motion by The rotation of earth The coming of a storm The breathing of ancient gods. It forces itself with gusto Into my face and it Rattles the siding of my home As it rips through the woods Without apology for the leaves It has stripped from the tree's branches, Bringing down that which once stood tall As if the gusts of wind were The angry panting of a lover scorned. So, which is louder, the wind or the water? Whichever you choose to listen to. -Daniel Goncalves
By Julia Schmitt Healy
Breaking the Sound Barrier
Richard R. Wiggins
or a man who has met the likes of Fidel Castro and Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard R. Wiggins is quite unassuming. His career as a sound man for CBS News put him in close proximity with politicians and celebrities—the movers and shakers of the 1960s through the 1980s. And, if you happen to walk into the Garnet Health Medical Center Outpatient Building in Middletown, N.Y., you will likely find him ensconced at the grand piano playing jazz or American standards. As we settled down—masks on, of course—with our coffees, Wiggins shared with me the unlikely story of how a young black boy, from very humble beginnings, became someone whose job it was to record the words of history as it was being made.
Richard Wiggins with Diane Sawyer, Fidel Castro, James Earl Ray, Andre the Giant, Liza Minelli, June Carter and Johnny Cash. Photos courtesy of Richard Wiggins.
He was born in 1933 into a family of hard-working strivers, who lived in Greenwich, Connecticut. His father got up early and commuted to Bridgeport every morning where he worked as a valve inspector for the Jenkins Company. His mother was a domestic and did laundry for various families in the town.
“We lived in a ‘cardboard’ house,” Wiggins states humorously. With five children, life was not easy, but, as he puts it, “We never starved.” One of his sisters took piano lessons, and somehow they got her a piano. “She could read music. I have never learned to read music. I just played naturally. It was intuitive with me.” Tragedy struck when he was thirteen years old. The house, which was heated by a kerosene stove, burned to the ground when the unit malfunctioned. His three young sisters and his mother were killed. In the smoke and confusion, he and his brother were able to get out. (His father was not home at the time.) The loss still resonates. He mentions he woke up recently with tears in his eyes thinking about it. The devastated family stayed with friends for a bit, and then the people of Greenwich chipped in and donated money for a house for them to live in. Losing a mom at that age had repercussions. Wiggins says he had “no direction,” and if his mother had survived, “things would have been different.” He wasn’t much interested in school. He was put into lower-end classes such as General Arithmetic instead of Algebra. “I didn’t care. I
graduated by the skin of my teeth.” There was no mentor in his life; no one paid much attention to his abilities and gifts. “I had to create my own life.” Luckily, music was in his bones. When he was still a minor—“I must have been fourteen or fifteen”—he played with the all-black Billy Dixon Band in Stamford. “We’d improvise. We did all the jazz standards and all of the American standards. I grew up with jazz because it’s a music form that came out of this country.” At some point, he also taught himself to play the vibraphone. Band members would go out after their gigs. Although young, he was “with the band,” so he would have a drink along with everyone else. He glosses over some of the racial encounters. He was called names. He got into a few fights, but his parents had raised him “not to fight back, so I didn’t.” Somewhere along the line, he developed an interest in circuitry and electronics, and he began working in Stamford repairing tape recorders. “I’d go to high school and then work in a shop run by a German engineer from three until nine. Then I’d go play music after that,” he remembers. Wiggins had an “early marriage when he was about twenty or twenty-one years old” that “lasted about eight months.” Bad feet kept him out of the military—“I was 4F and they didn’t want me,” he says. He married his second wife, who is the mother of his two daughters, in 1957. The electronics work led him to attend classes at the RCA Institute—an adult education night school—where he turned out to be the top student in math and technical subjects. Continued on next page 9
wood stars, writers, journalists, and assassins. Okay. Assassin. (James Earl Ray.) Yet, he wants to be clear: “These were people I worked with; I didn’t really know them.”
Richard Wiggins in Nicaragua
There weren’t many mishaps—one that sticks out is a Walter Cronkite/LBJ interview where the wind kicked up and turned out to make popping sounds on the tape. “I should have stopped the recording and made them start over.” The president of CBS was there and, somehow, Wiggins was unable to assert himself. “I guess I was scared,” he says. After that, he never let that happen again.
When he learned of an opening at CBS News in the sound department, he applied. “I was hired without much of an interview. They needed a black guy.” He wound up doing a rather boring job in the Transfer Room—transferring 1/4” tape to 35mm. He tried to join the union and take the test but was denied at first. Someone said, “You’re not going to be here that long.” In 1963, the U.S.S. Thresher nuclear submarine sank east of Boston, Massachusetts, with 129 aboard, and CBS News wanted to send a bathysphere 2,000 feet down with two aquanauts aboard for a story. They needed reliable sound, and Wiggins turned out to be the man who understood the dicey concept of “sound pressure.” The trip from New York to Boston was his first airplane flight, and that was a different kind of adventure for him. Happily, his expertise with microphones under pressure prevailed, and the sound “worked like a charm.” Practically overnight, people at the company realized, “This guy can do stuff.” He was soon assigned to film crews with Mike Wallace and, eventually, Dan Rather and was finally allowed to take the union test. (He was the only person out of fourteen who passed.) After a second divorce in 1973, Wiggins moved to Harlem and continued his job with CBS News. His work with 60 Minutes took him all over the world, and he would tote his keyboard along. “We went First Class, so I could bring it aboard and play.”
His camera always went with him. (He could produce a couple of coffee table books depicting the famous and infamous if he wanted to.) Charles Kuralt’s book on a CBS North Pole expedition, To the Top the World, used Wiggins’s photos throughout. The amazing cover shot was also by him, but for whatever reason, he wasn’t given a credit, which rightly irks him to this day. All the while, Wiggins played piano and vibraphone here and there and frequented places such as Birdland to hear the likes of Terry Gibbs, Milt Jackson, and others. In 1984 he married his third wife, Selma, acquiring four stepchildren in the process. In 1989 he retired from CBS News. He found our region through a friend and moved from Harlem to Pine Bush, N.Y., where they both now live. Music continued and continues to be a part of his life. About five years ago, he subbed for a musician who played piano at the Middletown hospital, and eventually, he was hired for his 5-day-a-week gig at the new Outpatient Center. I ask if there are CDs. He tells me he has no interest in promoting himself. He made one or two to give away once. “If I can find one, I’ll send it to you.” “Well, then, what about writing a memoir?” I ask, “Your life is so interesting. You broke some racial boundaries.” He replies, “Hmmm. No. I don’t think I want to do that.” He tells me that the hospital gets emails and letters expressing people’s joy in listening to his playing and how it makes them feel. That is what seems to nourish him.
There were many adventures: an aborted stake-out for a story on untaxed cigarette smuggling in which, out of five people, he was the only one searched by the police, even though two New York Bureau of Investigation men who were in the van (and white) had guns strapped to their ankles! They were released and told, “Never come back here before contacting the police here first.”
“At eighty seven, I am beginning to understand the gifts you can give to others. The happiness and comfort I can give—it’s a little like being a faith healer!” .................................................................................... Editor’s Note: The Garnet Health Medical Center Outpatient Building was formerly known as the Orange Regional Medical Center Outpatient Building.
He went to Nicaragua. He went to Cuba—twice. His work took him into the halls of politics, the arts, and philanthropy. He held his microphone to the lips of Holly-
Julia Schmitt Healy is an artist, art professor, and writer who lives in Port Jervis, NY, with her cat, P.J. Her art is represented by Western Exhibitions, Chicago, IL. 11
By Martin Schmalenberg
Christmas and Model Trains
Cutural Icon for All Ages
ime-honored traditions among many families during the Christmas season can cultivate wonderful memories that last a lifetime. For me, personally, my earliest memory of ANYTHING in my very young life had to be when I was four years old, during the early 1950s, on Christmas morning in the Bronx. As I awoke and ran into our living room, I could hardly believe what I was seeing. Overnight, my father had assembled a set of American Flyer model trains around our enormous 8-foot Christmas tree; the surge of wonderment, excitement, and joy I felt that morning resonates with me to this day. Very little could ever compare with a moment like that for a four-year-old boy; it was simply...magic. During the late 1940s through the 1950s, many fathers across the country were setting up model trains for their children, just as my dad had done. It became a holiday phenomenon and a slice of Americana all unto itself. There is no obvious connection between trains and Christmas or the love of trains by men (almost exclusively), for well over 150 years now, but for most of us who have had a son or two there is no mystery to it all. Trains are like cars and baseball to most men...they just never get the little boy part of them out of their system. Perhaps one connection that trains have to Christmas was that going “over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house” for the holidays—notwithstanding the romantic notion of horse and carriage—was best accomplished by trains, and it happened every Christmas. In fact, more people traveled by train in November and December over the course of 100 years than by any other method. Before the airplane, if you wanted to be home for the holidays, you simply had to take the train. 12
But, possibly, the real reason there is such an association of trains and the holiday was the advent of the model train, the first really big must have toy for Christmas. Initially, model train sets were quite expensive, and since their appeal was almost exclusively to boys, many families justified giving a train as a present to two or more sons. It was too expensive to get for one child’s birthday, but not unusual for Santa to bring a shared gift at Christmas. Sometimes the shared gift was split between father and sons. This bond became a logical evolution when handpushed toy trains were replaced with trains powered by steam. That’s right...popular model trains of the late 19th and early 20th centuries burned actual fuel and generated real steam to power the trains along the tracks. Imagine putting that under your tree in an era when artificial flame retardant trees were not yet invented. Fathers everywhere felt compelled to supervise. But don't kid yourself. Trains, then as now, were a popular and growing diversion for “big kids” too. Adults everywhere adopted childlike hobbies if only because it took them back to their youth and perhaps even memories of traveling somewhere far away by train at Christmas. In 1901, Lionel electric model trains had made their debut and were a runaway success in New York. This was serious and was seen by model train enthusiasts as more than just a toy. Lionel went on to sell $25 million worth of trains per year during the peak years of the 1950s. Lionel’s Golden Age was 1946 to 1954, when it outsold competitor American Flyer two to one. From 1920 to 1929, Lionel trains were manufactured in Irvington, NJ. The company then moved to Hillside, NJ, where it continued production until 1974. Continued on next page 13
The first electric trains were large by today’s standards. These “standard gauge” trains ran on tracks with the rails about two inches apart. Cars seven inches high, five inches wide, and sixteen inches long were common, although some of the cheaper sets used smaller measurements. But not everyone had room for such a large train. And those trains were expensive. Some of the early sets cost as much as a contemporary automobile. But as manufacturing techniques improved, economies of scale allowed the cost of a good set to eventually come down to that of a refrigerator or other major appliance. Still, between 1901 and 1950, a name-brand electric train set was a major purchase that needed to be budgeted. And since it was, after all, a toy, what was more natural than giving the most expensive toy you were ever going to buy as a Christmas present? THE Christmas present, in fact!
among modern railroad buffs to this day. Despite Lionel’s immense popularity, this writer has always felt—and still does feel—that American Flyer were the class of model electric trains. But the debate will last forever. Lionel bought out American Flyer in 1966, only to be bought out itself by General Mills some years later. There was yet another alternative to these two offerings of model trains. A German manufacturer in the 1920s introduced the “table-top” railway (1:87 scale) that became known as the HO series, a much smaller scale in overall size. It remains immensely popular worldwide, especially in Europe, with an exceptional selection of models to choose from.
Of course, once the mysterious huge box was opened, it was only logical to route the train around the now naked Christmas tree. So, between Christmas and the day the tree came down, the train would run almost constantly, with nearly everyone in the family operating it. The following year the train set would come out before the presents appeared and run a week or two before Christmas. Then any cars or accessories in the new pile of presents would be added. What started out as a simple circular track around the tree with a few cars could eventually become an elaborate layout with multiple tracks, tunnels, bridges, and even a village or two.
With the rise of modern technology and electronic gadgets filling holiday lists, toy trains appearing under the Christmas tree have become less prevalent. By the mid-1960s, the trains around my own tree finally stopped. The magic shifted to my first guitar, received as a Christmas present, and the arrival of the Beatles captured my attention and affection and would hold it to this very day. But every once in a while, I hear someone talking about their train sets, or I spy a picture of a set of American Flyer or Lionel trains, and I am transported back to those joyful days of a shining black locomotive chugging around the track, pulling up to ten cars behind it, going through tunnels and over bridges, complete with whistle and smoke coming out of the locomotive stack; and that feeling of nostalgia would warm me and bring a smile. And if for only for a few minutes...I was a little boy again.
Lionel’s main competitor was the A.C. Gilbert Co., originator of the famous Erector Set, which issued a series of electric trains known as American Flyer. These trains boasted two-rail track and 3/16” scale, all aimed at its biggest rival. While the American Flyer line of trains was never as extensive as that of Lionel, American Flyer always offered remarkable realism in its designs and innovative accessories. They maintain a loyal, almost cult, following
Trains running around Christmas trees bring back memories of simpler times. Christmas trains are to the soul what “comfort food” is to the appetite...a kind of reassurance that there are still good things in the world and even good experiences in your own past. ......................................................................................... Martin Schmalenberg is a retired Asian Studies teacher who now spends his time with his bonsai, guitars, and two cats. 15
By Amy Bridge
Bringing the Community Together One Spoonful at a Time
he Kittatinny Players are a talented group of thespians and theatrical technicians, all students at Kittatinny Regional High School in Hampton, NJ. With close to fifteen percent of the school’s population involved, this is one of the largest student-based programs at the school. Under the direction of English Language teacher Roy Chiariello, the Players make up the cast and crew for the school’s theater program, which produces a fall drama and a winter musical.
Photos courtesy of Cheryl Williver
But, as Chiariello, who took over as Theater Program Director in 2011, reminds us, “It’s the year 2020, and we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic. The theater community as a whole has come to a standstill. Many school productions were halted after spending months of time, effort, and money on a performance that would just not happen. Today, these programs are finding it difficult to attempt a live performance, and due to the nature of theater, the possibility of putting together any type of production seems fruitless.
“While the circumstances seem insurmountable, there must be a way to offer theater kids an outlet to continue their craft and foster emotional wellbeing. As a silver lining to a dark cloud, the Kittatinny Theater Department had decided to provide our kids with this vital experience and rise to the occasion. To continue our tradition of excellence, the Kittatinny Players will be performing Tale from the Tomb–The Movie. “The Movie was born out of an obligation to operate under strict Covid restrictions. While using the outdoors as much as possible, we decided to create our very first movie produc-
tion, so our kids will have this opportunity in theater regardless of the environment, or whether it can be in person or virtually. Talk about stepping out of a comfort zone and jumping headfirst into a new adventure! “By conducting rehearsals outside or virtually, creating an outdoor movie studio, understanding the capabilities of filming from various locations, and fighting the elements, the show WILL go on. The model we’ve created, based on the CDC regulations instituted for fall sports, has saved our program—a program so important to members of this community.” “Tales From The Tomb–The Movie has been created by the students of our program. All 44 cast and crew members meet daily after school to create this production in its entirety,” Chiariello added. “Our community has always embraced our theater program. We have a solid partnership that we’re proud of and grateful for. This year, the Kittatinny Players want to give back to the community by offering this movie free of charge.” The Players are able to offer this because of the tireless efforts of the Kittatinny Players Booster Club (KPBC), which was founded by parents in 2019 to strategically raise funds for set design, costumes, lighting, and props. According to Cheryl Williver, Corresponding Secretary of the Booster Club, the Players consider themselves a family. “We spend many meals together where we get to know each other individually and as a team; there’s crockpot night, pasta night, quite often a pizza night if they’re working late, and for Saturday morning rehearsals, we serve breakfast. All food except pizza is made by parent volunteers.” Continued on next page 17
Which brings us to the current fundraiser. At a June KPBC meeting, Williver suggested to club members that they compile a community cookbook. The idea was greeted enthusiastically, and the tag line, “Bringing the community together one spoonful at a time,” was adopted. “We wanted to make sure that everyone in the school community-at-large could participate.” Williver, who became the chairperson of the Cookbook Fundraiser, explains that the Kittatinny school district’s community encompasses several towns in Sussex County, NJ—Stillwater, Hampton, Fredon, and Sandyston/Walpack. “This is The Kittatinny Community Cookbook,” she adds. “People had two weeks to submit recipes. Our goal was to get 200, and we wound up with over 225 recipes. “Contributors submitted their favorite dishes, and we organized the book by food categories: appetizers and beverages, soups and salads, vegetables and sides, main dishes, breads and rolls, desserts, cookies and candy, ending with,
this and that. This is basically a book of favorites. We had recipes from students, aunts, grandmas, and others. Everyone got involved!” Chiariello notes, “We understand that we all do what we can and will work together to get through this unsteady environment. As a result, the tradition of excellence will continue to provide this community and its kids with the love, passion, resilience, and togetherness that has always been the cornerstone of the Kittatinny Players.” Enjoy this sampling of holiday recipes from The Kittatinny Community Cookbook! ........................................................................................... The big reveal of Tale from the Tomb–The Movie will be online on November 20th. Please check www.kittatinnyplayers. com, www.thekpbc.org, or the Kittatinny Players Booster Club Facebook page for exact details on the movie and to order the cookbook for $15. Drive-by pickup locations are also listed. And check online for details about the Junior High feeder program’s spring musical in May.
A Sampling of Holiday Recipes from The Kittatinny Community Cookbook Appetizers & Beverages
Soups & Salads
Carmel Apple Sangria
Taste of Fall Salad
From a Friend of the Players
1 bottle white wine ¼ c. caramel syrup 1 bottle sparkling apple cider 4 apples, chopped Chill your white wine and sparkling apple cider. Once cold, mix together wine and cider, and add ¼ c. caramel syrup. Chop approximately 4 apples into small cubes, and add to sangria. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Candied Bacon Brie
From Tom Williver 8 oz. Brie (round) 1 T. maple syrup ½ lb. Farmland Double-Smoked Pinch of Black Pepper Bacon, diced Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional) ¼ c. brown sugar 1 T. rice vinegar (found in the Asian foods aisle) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, add diced bacon. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until just barely crispy, stirring frequently. Drain grease from skillet. Return bacon to hot skillet, add brown sugar, rice vinegar, maple syrup, black pepper (and cayenne, if you choose). Simmer for 2-3 minutes, until bubbly. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil, then lightly spray foil with cooking spray. Add Brie to baking tray, then top with candied bacon mixture. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until Brie is gooey inside. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes before digging in. Use a dull knife to cut into Brie. Bacon candy will be hard and crunchy. If you want the bacon topping to be soft, add it to the Brie AFTER it has been baked. Serve with your favorite crackers or thinly sliced bread. 18
From Heather Doyle ¼ c. mayonnaise 2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into matchstick size strips ¼ c. pure maple syrup 3 T. champagne vinegar or other white wine vinegar ¼ c. dried cranberries 2 tsp. sugar ½ c. chopped walnuts, toasted ½ c. vegetable oil 1 bag (5 oz) mixed baby greens (or about 10 c. lightly packed) Whisk the mayonnaise, maple syrup, vinegar, and sugar together in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil until the mixture thickens slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss greens, apples, cranberries, and ¼ cup of walnuts in large bowl to combine. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Divide among plates. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup of walnuts and serve. Note: Dressing can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Re-whisk before using.
Butternut Squash Bisque From Chloe Bello
2 T. butter 1 c. half & half 1 lg. onion, diced 1 ⁄ 8 tsp. salt or to taste 1½ lb. butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes (about 4 c.) 1 ⁄ 8 tsp. ground white pepper (optional or to taste) 2 c. water 2 tsp. chicken bouillon granules sour cream, optional In a large saucepan, melt butter. Add onion and sauté until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add squash, water, and bouillon granules. Continued on page 20
Food Desserts Apple Cake
From Shirley Germond
Cover saucepan and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes or until squash is tender. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Place squash mixture into a food processor or blender (in batches if necessary) and process until smooth. Return puréed squash to saucepan. Add half & half, salt, and pepper. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until warmed through. Ladle soup into bowls and serve. Optional: add tiny dollops of sour cream in a circular fashion on top of soup. Gently run a toothpick through the sour cream to create a swirled effect. Note: Yields 6 servings.
Vegetables & Side Dishes Zucchini Pie From Kimberly Auer
3 c. diced/unpeeled zucchini (1 good sized one will work) ½ c. vegetable oil 1 c. biscuit mix 1 lg. onion, chopped 4 eggs, beaten ½ c. Parmesan cheese 3-4 T. parsley ½ c. cheddar cheese ½ tsp. pepper Grease 9" pie plate, or spray with cooking spray. Combine zucchini, onion, Parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese, vegetable oil, biscuit mix, eggs, parsley, and pepper, mixing until zucchini is just coated with batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until light brown.
Slow Cooker Garlic Smashed Potatoes From Jennifer Guthrie
3 lb. small red potatoes 2 to 3½ c. water ½ c. chives and onion cream cheese 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 2 T. olive oil ¼ to ½ c. milk 1 tsp. salt Halve or quarter potatoes as necessary to make similar-sized pieces. Place in 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. Add garlic, oil, salt, and water; mix well to coat all potato pieces. Cover; cook on High setting 3½ to 4½ hours or until potatoes are tender. With fork or potato masher, mash potatoes and garlic. Stir in cream cheese until well blended. Stir in enough milk for soft serving consistency. Serve immediately, or cover and hold in slow cooker on Low setting up to 2 hours.
Main Dishes Garlic Crusted Prime Rib From Fan of the Class of 2020 7-10 lb. prime rib roast 1 T. salt 10 cloves of minced garlic 2 tsp. dried thyme ¼ c. olive oil 1 tsp. onion powder 2 T. fresh black pepper 2 tsp. melted butter Make sure roast is at room temperature. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl until well blended and set aside. Place the room temperature roast in a roasting pan with the fat side up. Spread the mixture evenly over the roast. Note: The cooking time will vary based on the exact size roast you get. To calculate the cooking time, multiply the exact weight by five. Round the resulting number to the nearest whole number. The roast should be cooked at 500 degrees for exactly that many minutes. (For example, a 6-pound roast is cooked 6x5=30 minutes.) Turn the oven off and wait 2 hours before opening the oven door. 20
Pan Seared Tilapia with Chili Lime Butter From Laura Scott
6 pieces of skinless tilapia 1 tsp. finely grated lime zest ½ tsp. salt 2 tsp. fresh lime juice 2 T. vegetable oil 1 tsp. fresh minced serrano chili ½ stick unsalted butter, softened ½ tsp. salt 1 T. finely chopped shallots Pat fish dry and sprinkle with salt. Heat vegetable oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Sauté fish, turning once until golden and set aside. Mix butter, shallots, lime zest, lime juice, chili, and salt in small bowl. Add dollop of lime chili lime butter to cooked fish before serving.
Breads & Rolls Cheesy Bundt Bread From a Fan of the Players
3 c. all-purpose flour, sifted ½ c. unsalted butter, melted 1 c. sharp cheddar cheese 1 tsp. baking soda, grated 1 T. baking powder 1 c. Parmesan cheese, grated 1 tsp. salt 2 large eggs ½ tsp. garlic powder ¾ c. sour cream ½ tsp. onion powder ¾ c. plain Greek yogurt Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a Bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray, and spread evenly around pan with a paper towel. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder in large bowl until combined. Whisk together eggs, sour cream, and Greek yogurt in a small bowl. Pour mixture into dry ingredients. Add melted butter and stir to combine. Mix cheddar cheese and Parmesan cheese into mixture. Pour batter into Bundt pan, spreading evenly to edges. Bake for 50-55 minutes, until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven. Cool 10 minutes before slicing. Note: Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes, serves 8.
2 eggs, well beaten 3 c. flour 2 c. sugar 1¼ tsp. baking soda 2 T. vanilla 1 tsp. cinnamon 1½ c. oil 3 c. chopped apples 2 T. lemon juice 2 c. chopped nuts 1 tsp. salt
English Toffee From Riley R.
1 c. butter 3 semisweet chocolate baking squares or ½ c. chocolate chips 1 c. sugar ¼ c. water 1 c. coarsely broken pecans ½ tsp. salt In a heavy saucepan, combine butter, sugar, water, and salt. Cook to hard to crack stage, 300° F, stirring constantly and watching carefully. Immediately pour into ungreased 13x9 inch pan. Cool until hard. Melt chocolate over hot, but not boiling water. Spread melted chocolate over the toffee. Sprinkle with nuts pressing them into the chocolate. Let stand 2-3 hours or chill 30 minutes. Break into bite sized pieces.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat eggs, sugar, vanilla, oil, and lemon juice. Stir in salt, flour, baking soda, and cinnamon. Mix well. Add apples and nuts. Pour into a greased and floured Bundt pan. Bake for 1½ hours.
This & That (perfect to serve for your after-holiday guests!)
Pumpkin Pie Bars
From Brady Doyle
From Jeanette Nigro
1 pkg. Jiffy corn bread mix 1 c. sugar 4 eggs ¾ c. milk 1 tsp. nutmeg 1 (29 oz.) can plain pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) 4 tsp. cinnamon Preheat oven to 350. Use ungreased 13 x 9 x 2 lasagna pan. In large mixing bowl, add cornbread mix, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar, and milk. Mix well. Add can of pumpkin and mix well again. Pour into pan and bake about 35 minutes. Bars will set once cooled. Note: Makes about 24 bars.
Cookies & Candy Snicker Doodle Cookies From Lisa Chiariello
1½ c. light brown sugar 1 c. wheat flour ½ c. butter, softened 1 tsp. cream of tartar 1 tsp. vanilla ½ tsp. baking soda 2 eggs ¼ tsp. salt 1 c. all-purpose flour 2 T. sugar ¾ c. oat flour 2 tsp. cinnamon Heat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, beat brown sugar and butter until fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, blend well. Add flours, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt, mix well. In small bowl combine 2 T. sugar and cinnamon. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, roll balls in sugar-cinnamon mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets immediately. Do not overcook! Remove from oven undercooked rather than overcooked. Enjoy!
Crispy Belgian Waffles ¾ c. flour 2 eggs, yolks divided from the whites ¼ c. cornstarch 1 tsp. baking powder 2 T. butter, melted ¼ tsp. salt 1 c. milk 2 tsp. sugar 1 tsp. vanilla Preheat oven to 200°. Heat waffle maker. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar using a whisk. In another bowl, beat the egg yolk with a whisk until smooth. Stir in the milk, vanilla, and butter. Combine the milk mixture with the dry ingredients. Stir until mostly smooth. In a separate bowl whisk the egg white until foamy using an electric mixer. Carefully but thoroughly fold the egg whites into the batter. Cook waffles according to the waffle maker instructions. Place waffles directly on the oven racks until ready to serve. (Don’t stack them!)
Pumpkin Spice Syrup
From Kittatinny Player, Class of 1993 1½ c. water ½ tsp. ground ginger 1½ c. sugar ½ tsp. ground cloves 4 cinnamon sticks 3 T. pumpkin purée 1 tsp. ground nutmeg Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Whisk in the remaining spices and the pumpkin purée. Add cinnamon sticks. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, without letting the mixture come to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth and store in the refrigerator. Note: Add to your hot or iced coffee or make a homemade latte!
Pumpkin Bread From Camryn Tryde
2 c. flour ¼ tsp. cloves 1 tsp. baking soda 1 ⁄ 8 tsp. ginger ½ tsp. baking powder 9 oz. canned pumpkin ¾ tsp. salt ½ c. oil 1½ c. sugar 2 eggs ½ tsp. cinnamon 1 ⁄ 3 c. water ½ tsp. nutmeg Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 1 regular and 1 small loaf pan with butter or shortening. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into 1 large bowl. Mix sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, pumpkin, oil, eggs, and water in an electric mixer bowl. Gradually add flour mixture. Beat for 10 minutes. Bake in small pan for 30 minutes or a large pan for 1 hour. 21
By Dr. Joe Ferry
My Friend Marilyn Monroe
In May 1962, Marilyn was staying at her East 57th Street apartment in New York City. At that time, I was twelve years old, and I was working for my father’s electrical construction company on weekends, days off from school, and all summer, every summer. Dad instilled me with a work ethic that has paid off in big dividends, as today I am a college professor and a record producer, and it all started when I was twelve. The first construction job that I worked on for my dad was at Marilyn’s apartment building. It was one of his accounts. Marilyn was studying with Lee Strasburg then, I believe. I was a typical twelve-year-old kid, far more interested in dumpster diving for treasures that might have been tossed by the residents of this high-end building or roller skating up and down the building’s hallways. The work ethic part had not yet taken root. Half the time, my dad didn’t even know where I was. Sooner or later, he’d find me, and I’d have to go back to actual real work. The cool thing about it was that sometimes Dad would need me during a school day. I loved working those days because Catholic school wasn’t my thing. I was sick to my stomach with nervousness during my eight years of grammar school and four years of high school. Those years were torture for me. But that’s another story for another time. One day I was taking an armful of tools down a hallway, heading for the elevator around the corner and an “older” lady turned the corner at the same time as me. Tools went flying everywhere as she and I collided. She exclaimed, “I’m so sorry, that was clumsy of me!” I proclaimed, “Oh no, it wasn’t your fault. My dad calls me a bull in a china shop!” The lady laughed and said “No, you’re not! You’re cute.” I thought to myself: “Not only is she old, she must be blind! Me? Cute?” She asked, “What’s your name?” and I replied, “Joey.” Then she said, “I’m Marilyn. It’s nice to meet you, Joey.” Then she hugged me and said, “I’ll see you around the building,” We went our separate ways. 22
© Joe Ferry Music LLC
lthough the international superstar Marilyn Monroe died on August 4th, 1962, her images are everywhere and children today, whose mothers weren’t even born when Marilyn died, know Marilyn’s face and name.
One of the guys on my father’s crew, Rocky from Georgia, said to me, “Man, do you know who that is?” I answered, “Some older lady named Marilyn. She’s nice.” Rocky couldn’t help himself, “You moron, that’s Marilyn Monroe!” I was 12 years old. I would much rather have met Mickey Mantle or Chuck Berry. I just shrugged my shoulders. She didn’t look like the Marilyn Monroe that I saw in the movie magazines and newspapers. She had very little makeup on, her hair wasn’t fixed up, and she was wearing slacks with a button down shirt. Nothing fancy. As for her voice, it was not that lilting, sexy voice that she used when she was “Marilyn Monroe.” It was much earthier. Although she was from Los Angeles, it almost sounded like a typical Bronx or Brooklyn accent. It had a little nasal tone, and her r’s had the slightest w sound. So rocket, for instance, would be rwocket. I remember that. When her guard was down, she was just herself: A really sweet and kinda ordinary down-to-earth woman. I said to Rocky, “You’re nuts. That’s not Marilyn Monroe.” The next time I saw Marilyn she was in front of the building talking to people and signing autographs. Every time she left the building, she drew mobs of people. I remember thinking, “What a pain this must be for her. She can’t even go to the deli for a sandwich.” Anyway, one day I brought my old Kodak Brownie Bullet camera to work with me. I wanted to try to shoot a pic for my sister, who was a fan. I happened to see Marilyn getting out of a car. There were a lot of people asking for autographs, taking photos and movies. (Today, I guess we’d call them videos). I held up my camera and pointed to it, and she nodded “yes.” I snapped a few shots and forgot to have the film developed for the longest time. The camera sat on the shelf in my bedroom for months after we had finished the job at Marilyn’s building. Continued on next page 23
Life I saw her a few more times leaving the building or coming home. Sometimes I saw her in the hallways. She knew my name and always hugged me. I got the feeling that she loved kids. I had every intention of going to Hollywood to visit her when my family could arrange it. She told me I could. On August 5th, 1962, I was at church and the priest was giving his sermon. Odd, I thought, he was talking about Marilyn Monroe. I asked my sister, who was sitting next to me, “Why’s he giving us the highlights of Marilyn’s career during a sermon about the Gospels.” My sister answered, “Because Marilyn died last night.” I swear I got an immediate migraine, the kind where you see colors before your eyes; I felt nauseous and dizzy. I had to go outside and sit down. I was thinking, “I wish Rocky was wrong and that lady I knocked over wasn’t Marilyn Monroe.” Even though I only spoke to her a few times, she was, to this day, one of the kindest and sweetest people I’ve ever met. She was my friend. It was at that point that I remembered the camera sitting on my shelf. I brought the film to the candy store that very
day—that’s where we got our film developed back in the Stone Ages, before digital camera phones—and there were the pics of Marilyn that I had snapped a couple months earlier.
As it happened, many years later, in 2007, my basement flooded and all my pics and negatives were ruined. By then I was a college professor at State University of New York, and I recruited a few of my students to work some digital magic on the prints. Herein is the best we could do as far as turning a smeared, crinkled mess into something remotely recognizable. Up until August 4th, 1962, I had experienced the deaths of relatives. So I wasn’t a stranger to the concept of this life ending at some point. But Marilyn was my first friend who had died. It stunned me, shocked me, and caused me to grow up a little bit in a way that a twelve-year-old kid need not have to grow up yet. .............................................................................................. Author's Note: I am allowing the photo to be published here because this magazine is free and I am not profiting from its publication. It is a news publication and falls under the Fair Use Clause of the US Copyright Act.
istory matters,” says Patte Haggerty Frato, Sandyston Township, NJ, Historian.
“We are our past generations. We are them and they are in us,” Frato, who also happens to be the President of the Sandyston Township Historical Society, continues. “It is a matter of pride, honor, and respect for our early ancestors that we strive to do what we can to hold on to the past. This is the reason that the Historical Society decided to help the Bevans Cemetery Association with their fund-raising efforts to preserve the historic Dutch Reformed Church of Bevans. “Some of the earliest settlers to this section of Sandyston Township came there and made it their home. The building of a church, a place that gave them the freedom to worship as they chose, was a vital part of their lives. Their ancestors had been deprived of that freedom, and the ancestors of these settlers gave their all to come to America and have the freedom they so desperately sought to achieve. “The Church, this year, celebrates its 181st year, standing on its solid stone foundation and looking over the valley and its residents.” 24
Frato relays, “The property this church sits on was sold to the deacons of the Reformed Dutch Church of Walpack and Pahaquarry for $50 in 1838, but today it is privately owned by the Bevans Cemetery Association, which incorporates an active cemetery from its beginning to today.” Interred there are the remains of the War of 1812 soldier Col. Benjamin Rosenkrans, who was a son of Col. John Rosenkrans of Walpack, as well as many Civil War soldiers. Soldiers who fought in more recent wars are also buried there. The church was built by James C. Bevans, son of Pvt. Even and Catherine Carmer Bevans in 1838. Even Bevans, father of James C. Bevans, served in the American Revolution and is buried in the nearby Mettler Cemetery, which sits close by on the Old Mine Road. Over time, the church faced many challenges, and weekly services were disbanded. But in the past few years, Christmas Vesper Services have been held as a combined project with the Sandyston-Walpack Consolidated School. People were invited to attend and bring blankets to keep warm, and limited electricity lit the church. It was clear that the Continued on next page
building was in desperate need of renovations and repairs. Still, music was played, and school children and the guests shared songs. “The church has stood as a symbol of unity to the many families that settled here and raised their families,” Frato continues. “These people were the heroes of our past, the ones that opened the door to the creation of who we are today, the roots of the past that laid the foundation for the future. “With the inception of the now defunct Tocks Island Dam Project of the 1960s and 1970s and with so many historic structures lost to vandalism and destruction, it has become our mission to do all we can to aid the Bevans Cemetery Association in their mission to keep this ancient structure safe and secure for today and future generations.” Guided by the Sandyston Township Historical Society, a Go Fund Me event was set up on Facebook to raise money for the needed repairs, such as painting, new shutters, and replacing the old damaged front porch. Frato has sent out many letters requesting help with restoration efforts, even sending letters to family of those buried in the Bevans Churchyard. To date, they have received $16,000 in monetary donations as well as supplies necessary for the first phase of the project, and they brought in Donald Jameson, a general contractor from Stillwater, NJ, to do some of the renovations. While determining how best to start the project, Jameson made an interesting discovery. Over several generations, honeybees had established a series of hives under the clapboard siding of the old white church. Jameson unearthed a hive that was about twenty feet tall and five to six feet wide. At some time in the past twenty years, a bear had ripped the clapboard off to get at the honey. The clapboard had been replaced, right over the hive. “You could just smell the honey in the air,” Jameson explains. “But, honeybees are in dire straits right now. We need bees for pollination; they help to keep our food sources healthy. Killing the bees was not an option for me.” A beekeeper from Culver Lake was called in. She vacuumed the bees into nine or ten large tubs. The first day, she took out over 100,000 bees, took them home, and put them in her own hives. The next day, she did the same thing.” There were now two restorations: The church and the massive colony of honeybees! With the majority of work done, an unexpected expense arose; many of the slate shingles on the roof need to be replaced. They are still in need of money to secure the building from leaks and damage. “This building’s history is sacred to so many, and it has become a ‘labor of love’ to protect it. Once the slate roof repairs are complete,” Frato implores, “we will then move on to the repairs needed for the interior of the church, which will trigger an ongoing fund-raising effort for the benefit of the church.” ................................................................................................................. Donations can be made to the Sandyston Township Historical Society, Inc., 133 Route 645, Sandyston, NJ 07826. For questions, contact Patte Haggerty Frato at 973.948.7443 or email@example.com. 26
By Michael Hartnett
The Past Comes to Life
he allure of dinosaurs and their fossil remains is often irresistible to young minds fascinated by stories of the deep past and the legendary creatures that once roamed the earth.
Photos by Michael Hartnett
I recall my friend Rick back in the early 1960s showing me a fossil he had found along a creek bed in northwestern New Jersey. Its rocky surface was covered with the impressions of ancient sea life. The ridges of shell shapes and other marine life forms were clearly visible and ignited a sense of awe and wonder in both of us. We learned that millions of years ago oceans had covered the highlands region of the upper Delaware River. We were amazed by the scale of the massive geological transformations that had taken place right where we stood. Earth scientists use the geologic time scale to understand the events that changed our planet from when it was formed. The Devonian Period lasted from 419 until 358
million years ago. The climate was warmer and most of the earth was covered by water. Paleolithic continents were in much different positions than land masses are today. This period is known as the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Age of the Fishesâ&#x20AC;? due to the emergence and proliferation of diverse marine life forms. Concurrently, the first forests began to flourish across the Earth. The earliest four-limbed creatures, similar to salamanders, evolved legs from fish fins and crawled out of the primeval seas onto land, becoming the ancestors of all living vertebrates of today. Geologists have determined that the Earth over time heaved upward and downward, burying and exposing the fossilizing remains of the inhabitants that once lived in this area. During subsequent periods of time, the Ridge and Valley region of the Appalachian Mountains, which includes the Pocono and Catskill mountain chains, was formed by continental shifts. The Delaware River cuts through these remnants of an ancient fold-and-thrust belt. Continued on next page 29
Fossil evidence of another marine animal called the crinoid is abundant in sites throughout the Poconos. Leaving long segmented tubular impressions in the rocks, the crinoid is related to the stalked filter feeders of today such as sea lilies. In the cut-away version of the crinoid fossil, a circular impression with multiple ridges radiating from its center resembles a sunburst mandala. 30
Throughout vast stretches of time, the earth has played host to an enormous variety of life forms. Signs of their existence lie in the preserved strata of the ages. Whether in complete specimens or broken fragments, these tantalizing remains often show a wondrous symmetry at work in the evolution of life. Little could my friend Rick and I know that the moment of curiosity and awe that we shared so long ago would reemerge in memory and inspire me to explore the intriguing world of the far past. It seems apropos, considering my own advancing years, and that I, too, will someday become a fossil. ........................................................................................ Michael Hartnett is an artist and writer living in Dingmans Ferry, PA. He is the author of the nature fantasy novel Tales of Allamucha.
Among the creatures revealed in the geologic record of the Devonian Period were the trilobites, which loosely resemble contemporary horseshoe crabs. This diverse group varied in size, from as large as two feet to just an inch or two. It is considered one of the earliest-known of the arthropods. They are among the most successful of all ancient animals, having existed in oceans for nearly 300 million years. By the end of the Devonian Period, all but one species of trilobite had gone extinct, and that one also eventually died out.
Brachiopods and bivalves were some of the most abundant filter feeders in the early seas. Their fossils appear identical to the scallop seashells of today.
Many fossil shapes captivate my imagination with their proportions and geometric complexity. It makes me wonder about the evolutionary journey of life and the forms it creates to survive despite massive environmental shifts.
Planet Waves by Eric Francis
(March 20-April 19)
(Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
Some of the stuck feeling where cash flow is concerned has now shifted. Yet there is something perhaps more perplexing going on, which is running into a limit you cannot identify, but that you can feel and are experiencing. This is not as complex as it may seem. One approach to take is making small progress every day. You might solve one small problem, ask for help or prepare a space to work. Use whatever works for you to nudge things in the direction you want to go, and be happy with incremental progress. At the same time, you will need to set larger goals, though keep them modest at first. Meanwhile there are certain relationship situations you’re just not sure about, or that seem to be resisting your efforts to communicate. Someone close to you may be presenting you with a paradox, or an approach-avoid situation. The situation is delicate because ego is involved (in the form of Mars in Aries). Start by gathering information. You will soon have a better sense where you stand.
(April 19-May 20)
Your inner world is bristling with energy right now. You may wonder what people will find out about you: your fears, your needs, your weaknesses, your secret longings. You might consider that people already know whatever there is to know about you. You might take some of the pressure off, and hang loose about who and what you are. You may find others are more in tune with your preferences than you may have imagined, and also more empathetic toward what you might struggle with. Another thing that may keep you reticent to speak is feeling your thoughts are a work in progress. Yet this is true of all thought, whether it’s a book that’s gone through 10 drafts, or how you really feel about all that candy people buy on Halloween. The mental quality to be alert to is the sense that you must conceal something. One of the strongest themes of your chart is whether you’re accepted by society, beginning with your family. Being outcast may be one of your deepest fears. You can work with this. Be real and you’ll attract your true tribe.
(May 20-June 21)
You may be questioning whether close partners or your primary relationship can stand the degree to which you are growing and evolving. I would ask, though, do they have a choice? Do you? Are you going to hold up your personal evolution out of the fear that another being might not approve? Well, the answer might not be so obvious. You may still be hesitating. You might even feel guilty that you are in some way forcing another person to accept who you are. The truth is people either accept you or they don’t. You can, therefore, afford to take the risk of seeming to push people a little, by doing the right thing for yourself. The thing you don’t want to do is break faith with people who have faith in you. It is never helpful to squander trust or goodwill. You honor those things by a conscious relationship to your commitments. The one thing you cannot commit to is not being you. Ultimately, you need to work out your relationships from the position of being you, and not trying to be anyone else.
You may feel like you’re in a tight spot, though that spot is mostly in your mind. You are in a situation you must think through. By think, I mean in multiple steps, being able to hold several thoughts in your mind at once. The single most important thing you can do is to know what your options are. If you think you only have one, be creative. You can pose the question, “If I could do whatever I wanted, what would I do?” That will remove a level of self-editing: the belief or expectation that you cannot really do something or do not have that option. Whatever block you feel is likely to be a mental one. Whatever threat you feel is unlikely to have any validity at all: it may have in the past, but you are now out of range. The challenge here is embracing your inner authority. We’ve all heard plenty of talk about the inner child. There is a more significant element of consciousness, which allows you to guide yourself through your life, without getting caught in the power dramas of others.
(June 21-July 22)
You may feel like you’re losing ground on the career front, though I assure you this is unlikely to be true. You may be experiencing setbacks and delays, though you’re also establishing yourself in some new way. The vital factor is that you set the terms of what you consider your life work. Now Chiron has taken over this area. That is about commitment, about the mantle of leadership, and Chiron is inherently a holistic influence. Your learning task is to see the way in which everything is connected to everything else. This is how you need to think to make maximum use of this magnificent, long-term astrology. What Mars in Aries has been about is fully activating the warrior spirit which is to say: your persistent determination. You’re figuring out what you want to accomplish. You’re also figuring out what you need to accomplish, and you’re learning the difference. Focus one topic, please: those desires and those necessities. It should not be an especially long list. You might include one or two things that you consider impossible. This will feed you with just enough aspirational energy to go beyond your present capacities.
(July 22-Aug. 23)
If this year has taught you nothing else, it’s that you must have faith in yourself. It’s true many people compensate for lack of inner fidelity by investing their trust in external factors, though this is a shortcut that ultimately leads nowhere. The combination of Chiron and Mars is providing full-strength reminders that you are the only place you need to invest your faith at this time in your life. It is true that relationships provide a seemingly different venue, though they too are based on the foundation of faith in yourself. This is difficult to see in a world where nearly everything is externalized. Chiron is the sigil of self-awareness, and you have this moving through Aries in the angle of your chart where awareness of yourself morphs into something far wider, deeper and almost cosmic in nature. Yet this can be obscured by constant self-doubt. This potentially presents a paradox. Many forms of doubt are justified, though it is also possible to have faith in yourself just for the sake of doing so.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
You’ve got to get out from under all this weight you’ve been carrying. What exactly is it, though? Is it from the past, or is it about now? Is it mental or emotional? Have you taken on responsibilities that are not yours? This calls for a careful evaluation, though a potential issue here is the hidden contract, the commitment you did not know you made, or the effect of karma. To understand these things, it’s necessary to do quite a bit of spiritual work around your family. This involves distinguishing yourself from them, their ideas, their influence and most significantly, their ideas about who you are. The challenge here is that most people have a strong affinity and loyalty to their parents, which is often accompanied by resentment, guilt and anger. You are, however, ready to break loose. This is about a recognition, and a commitment, and a decision and then sticking with the project. You will need help from people who are capable of some objectivity, and who can offer you tools. The most important one is to listen to what your body tells you. Feel, listen, and actually hear.
The world has a confidence issue. All the wrong people have way too much of the stuff, and too many others are lacking it. I trust that events since July have taught you how to feel more centered in who you are and what you want. Unusual things help people build confidence: a fire-walking workshop, or sitting in silence for 10 days during a Vipassana meditation retreat, or giving birth. In truth, this thing so many find so elusive is an ongoing discovery process of what is getting in the way. There are issues that obscure one’s basic sense of belonging in the world, usually ancestral in nature. For example, when a parent says “anything is possible” or “you are doomed to fail,” that makes an impression. Ask yourself what you’re hiding. It could be your sense of humor, or your musical talent, or your ability to organize. The next few weeks arrive with a decision that may seem ordinary and mundane, but which is really existential in nature. So every choice you make needs to be evaluated on the basis of what you want for your whole life, because that is what you’re choosing.
(Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
(Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
There’s an irrational fear of controversy going around — and plenty that is in fact controversial that’s being treated like it either does not exist. You must monitor your fear of controversy, or it will shackle your creativity and your social freedom. The best course of action for you is to exercise your integrity. That will inevitably mean going against the grain of public opinion, though you don’t need to be defensive in any way. Your sense of humor is something to keep close to you at all times. Society is in a dire situation right now: not only can it not take a joke; hardly anyone knows what one is anymore. This is contributing to the herd mentality we are living with. The great trend in the astrology is toward ramping up the cult mentality radically, or potentially, for some, revealing the situation for what it is. You will know you’re witnessing it rather than participating because you’re in a mild to acute state of shock almost all the time. This is too much energy for most people, though the cost of conformity is much higher.
(Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
What is your purpose in this world? Do you dance around the point, concerned that it might be too challenging for you to fully engage? Do you struggle with the spiritual aspect, such as plucking up the independence and integrity to stand up to the resistance you might feel? The world has a problem with purpose, on the level of the individual. It is almost always subverted to some group intention, or to some seeming authority. The sense of purpose is thereby cut off or made less sensitive. If you want to address this, you will need to turn your sensitivity back up. It is easier to do what you don’t want while you’re not thinking about what you want. I am suggesting you do the opposite: engage that conflict consciously, so you can see and feel it and ultimately make a decision. The point of beginning is feeling what you want when it’s there to feel. At some point you will need to follow that inner directive, and do the thing your soul is calling for — starting with the first step on a journey of a thousand miles.
(Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
Much astrology is headed in your direction, particularly in December. Before then, you may feel like a snake about to shed its skin, or a caterpillar about to wake up as a butterfly. On the more dramatic side of the spectrum, you may be a little freaked out that everything is about to transform. Whether you’re Aquarius Sun or rising, you experience change in a way unlike many other people. It’s more of a mental challenge and you have a good bit of anticipation anxiety. It’s time to stretch, and to alter your life patterns on a constant basis. You are someone who needs a measure of change for its own sake, as a kind of exercise. Stop and listen if you hear yourself say you cannot learn or accomplish something when it’s coupled with the panicky sensation of wanting things to remain the same. A lot is shifting right now both within you and in the world around you. Growth, spiritual evolution and exploring new experiences all require change, and this needs to be your best friend and, indeed, your personal art form.
(Feb. 19-March 20)
Neptune is still in your sign. This is the factor that is so difficult to describe but which is coloring your whole experience of life. For those who can tap into it and not drown or overdose, Neptune is a superpower. It can grant the ability to be invisible, to shape shift, to work with the idea of ‘image’, or to penetrate a seeming fortress. One of the reasons that you’ve been relatively stable and made the most of the tremendous events of 2020 is that Jupiter, your traditional ruling planet, has been in a strong and supportive aspect to Neptune, the modern planet associated with your sign. It is fair to say you’re coming into your own, particularly your confidence around other people. Keep working that. You can certainly afford the confidence to dare, and you may do something unusually brazen under this month’s astrology. One thing to include there is using your money wisely, with intent, and with a little chutzpah. You have many ideas and some of them are excellent. Resources may be tight, though that is about to change. Combine all of these factors with some old-fashioned persistence, and you are poised to do something new, original and exciting. ..........................................................................................
Read Eric Francis daily at PlanetWaves.net.