Black River Life December 23

Chester First Responders Define Giving Cack
By Steve Sears
When it comes to giving back to the community, the Chester police and fire departments, and the Chester First Aid Squad, make it a goal to do that very thing not only just during the holidays, but all year round
Crissy Champi, who is nearing the end of her second three-year stint as Chester First Aid Squad Chief and is a proud 18-year member, says giving on her and her team’s part is every day.
“The holidays are really not any different than any other day, as we volunteer our time and answer calls all year long,” Champi said. “At the holidays, we join in at the town events and celebrate together within our squad family. We give back through being prepared and ready to get a rig out to whomever needs us, and by being at the community events.”
Deb Johnson, who has been an active CFAS member for 43 years, at one time or another held every officer position on the squad except Secretary and Treasurer. Her daughter, Rebecca Banzon, is CFAS Vice-President, and son, Jason Dilley, is ex-Chief and current Lieutenant.
Johnson echoed Champi’s words. She said, “That is truly the essence of why we do what we do! One other point is that many members have gone on to be Paramedics, a Physician’s Assistant, Registered Nurses, and Physicians. We are a proud family of volunteers for our community.”
Ryan McNamee, Chief of the Chester Police Department, is a 21-year member of a police force that in November partnered with the Mendham-Chester Food Pantry and the Mendham Township Police Department to collect toys and gifts for children and young adults ranging in age from one to 21.
McNamee and the Chester Police Department have long believed in the importance of giving back to the community.
He said, “Throughout the year, the department participates in numerous community service events, such as Coffee wit
h a Cop, Cones with a Cop, Chester Shop Rite Bag for Hunger, Mendham-Chester Food Pantry toy drive, Trunk or Treat, Chester Lions Club Halloween Parade, Chester Night Out, and the annual Christmas tree and Menorah lighting events in the Borough of Chester, to name a few.”
In addition, members of Chester Township PBA Local 315 host for kids 12 and under an annual Fishing Derby each June, award a $1,000 annual scholarship to a graduating Chester High School senior, and participate in the popular No Shave November fundraiser, donating the proceeds to a local person or organization in need.
“Over the years, our involvement in these types of events have brought our officers and the community closer together. Many of our residents know our officers by first name, and vice- versa,” McNamee said.
Billy Taquinto is the current Chief of the Chester Fire Department. He and his department started doing a Santa Run during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Taqunito said, “The previous Chief, Scott Dilley, started that. We just thought it would be a good idea to uplift the community by being involved with trying to do something to bring people’s spirits up a little bit; to instill a little bit of normalcy in town. It just picked up as a tradition now.”
The first weekend in December, the fire department took Ol’ Saint Nick on his Santa Run, and assisted with the Christmas tree lighting in Chester Borough, transporting Santa Claus to the tree lighting via a fire truck. The department also planned to assist with the borough Menorah lighting the following week.
Champi deeply values volunteering and giving back. She said, “We are constantly giving. We are grateful for donations, food, appreciation, and anything given to us. But when one joins the CFAS, they give a commitment to give freely to those who need help, plus going to community events, squad details and training – time away from their families. Giving back and being on CFAS is one of the most amazing opportunities, not only to work alongside wonderful Chester EMS and first responders, but to be able to help a person or family in a low, hurt, or sick time.”

Long Valley Teen Stands Out on ‘”The Voice”
By Evan Wechman
Music has always been a part of Olivia Eden’s life.  At sixteen years old, she has sung mostly at coffee shops and street festivals.  However, all that has changed now.  Eden just finished appearing on the smash television show “The Voice” and hit a home run.  Not only was she a big success with family and friends, but the celebrity coaches loved her as well.
“I originally auditioned on a whim.  I saw an Instagram pop-up and was like, oh this is fun.  And then a couple of weeks later, I got the call back and was so excited but honestly, I just think I went with the flow,” Eden says.  “I feel like it was just something that came to me at the right time, and I was able to take that opportunity.”
Eden sang “This Town” during her audition where she could either be picked by a coach or sent home. Both the audience and the judges fell in love with her voice and energy, and she received offers from two coaches to be on their teams.  Both Niall Horan, who wrote and performed the song, and country icon Reba Mcentyre wanted Eden on their team, but Eden ultimately chose Horan.
Many viewers assumed she performed “This Town,” because she wanted to receive an offer from Horan.  This was not the case as the song was chosen due to its personal connection to the rising young star.
“I can really connect with the lyrics of “This Town.”  I feel it has a very nostalgic feel and it describes a young love.  It was also the first song I ever played at an open mic by myself, so it just means a lot to me.”
She was grateful for McEntyre’s desire to coach her, but just felt in her heart Horan was the right pick.
Though Eden eventually lost in one of the later rounds, she feels she is better off for the experience.  She not only proved to herself how composed she can be on stage but received valuable advice from the coaches too.
“I learned a lot about being on a big stage and being able to perform for an audience where you’re meant to be interacting with them,” Eden says.  “I feel the coaches taught me a lot about confidence, being on stage, and also being able to lean i
nto the songs, relax your voice and relax everything, and just perform.”
Even if Eden has the musical maturity of some of her favorite performers like Olivia Rodrigo and Lizzy McAlpine, her greatest influence is her father.  As a child, he sang in the choir and continued performing well into his adult years.  She says she played so much music with her father as a child which helped her career blossom.
“I think my first performance I was six years old, and I sang “part of your world” from “The little Mermaid” at the high sch
ool talent show and he played guitar.  From there, I just completely fell in love with performing and being on stage.”
Eden admits she wants to be a professional singer but wants to concentrate now on her studies while at West Morris Central High School.  She will continue performing at small venues in the area and writing more songs.  She has already released a short album “Take One,” and hopes listeners feel a bond.
“My music is the most genuine part of me.  I would never cover a song I didn’t have some connection to as well as my written music.”

Santa is in town, and Long Valley first responders are celebrating the holidays
By Steve Sears
Chief Tom Granat of Long Valley’s Fairmount Fire Company remembers the moment distinctly when Santa Claus, seated on an over 100-year-old sleigh, was visiting Long Valley.
Granat said, “We had an elderly lady whose house was up on a hill. She could not come down to us but was up there waving at Santa Claus. He got out of his sleigh and walked up to her door across the lawn to give her a candy cane, and the smile on her face was just unreal.”
Fairmount Fire Company on November 26 held a Pictures with Santa event, and the background for the photos was their original 1948 fire truck. On December 16, the annual Santa Run will transport Santa Claus around the Fairmount coverage area.
Granat said, “It is great. I am in the last truck, and you can see all the kids coming out and running up to Santa Claus and the smiles on their faces. And these kids are outside in their pajamas, waiting in the cold just to see him come around the corner.”
Emily Elsasser is Vice President of Schooley’s Mountain Fire Protection Association, and her organization is very busy and involved as well during the holiday season, beginning with an Annual Pancake Breakfast with Santa, which was held on Sunday, December 3. Children and families enjoyed a delicious breakfast and opportunity to take a picture with Santa. The front room hall was decorated, holiday music played, and Boy Scout Troop 436 sold holiday wreaths out in front of the firehouse
Next on the list, Santa Claus and his pal, The Grinch, make special visits to families in town who have pre-registered through Long Valley Fire Company events via Facebook, spreading more holiday cheer on December 12 and 13. Finally, there is yet another opportunity for Washington Township to catch a glimpse of Santa when, just like Fairmount Fire, Santa and his firefighter friends ride around town on the firetruck in mid-December.

“This holiday season, the Schooley’s Mountain Fire Protection Association is grateful and honored to be celebrating the holiday season as one big family,” Elsasser said.
Doug Merrill has been Chief of Long Valley Fire Company since January 2023, and a member for 18 years.
Merrill said, “LVFC has done several things to give back to the community for the holidays, like attending a “Trick or Trunk” event at a local elementary school, and for Christmas, we escort Ort Farm’s with a small holiday float.” Long Valley Fire Company also holds a Saturday, December 16 Santa Run where Santa offers candy canes to residents. Photo opportunities are possible when Santa hits your street.

Merrill added, “The fire company is very fortunate to have so many supporters throughout the community all year round, and we enjoy offering our own give back to the town that supports us so much throughout the year. Doing these events during the holidays is very good PR, but also allows the community to see us in person and not at an emergency situation.”
Chief Jeffrey S. Almer of the Washington Township Police Department is in his 29th year of service. He has been the Chief since 2015.
Almer said, “We believe that giving back to the community is vital in so many ways.  The PBA Local 301, in conjunction with the department, participates in numerous activities.  These include No-Shave November, where we allow the growth of facial hair for those who donate towards someone in our community who is in need.  We also do Toys for Tots, which is a very successful program.  The officers also donate to the Long Valley Food Bank as well as trying to increase our presence at the different holiday functions in town, including the Long Valley Tree Lighting. All these programs allow residents and the officers to talk and get to know one another in a positive setting.”
John Tedona, who is in his first year as Chief Long Valley First Aid Squad and Rescue Services, said the holidays are a busy time.
Tedona said. “The members of Long Valley First Aid Squad continue to make responding to residents in town their priority, and are always ready to respond at all hours every day of the year. In addition to responding to emergency calls, averaging just over 100 a month, October through December see the squad participating in many educational discussions and demonstrations. So far, we have come to speak to and demonstrate our equipment to multiple Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts groups, as well as a few visits to the local schools to discuss first aid, how the squad serves the town through helping with medical and rescue emergencies, and let the children ask questions and see the lifesaving equipment we use.”
The Long Valley First Aid and Rescue Squad is always looking for new members. If interested, visit their website at www.lvfas.org.

Long Valley Author Wins Critical Acclaim for Trilogy
By Evan Wechman
As a child in New Jersey, Marissa Mizeski didn’t plan on writing a book, let alone three. She always loved nature and mysteries, but her career choice was to be a science teacher.
For most of her adult life, Mizeski has been sharing her passion about science with her students at The Willow School in Gladstone.  She loves helping the children in her class with their experiments
and teaching them how important science is in their lives.
The Long Valley resident has always been concerned about conservation, animal extinction, and even solar eclipses.  However, when she started listening to a famous author, the idea of creative writing suddenly came to her.
She credits author and podcaster Elizabeth Gilbert for inspiring her to release her creativity.  According to Mizeski, Gilbert has been urging her audience to not lose sight of their ideas.  She wants them to grab hold of their dreams and follow them.
Though Gilbert is probably unaware of her influence on the Long Valley writer, Mizeski listened closely and did not let the opportunity pass her by.
“This was my first stab at fiction, and I just went for it.  I just had a flash of inspiration,” she says.”  Once I had t
he idea, it just kind of came to me and then I pictured the main character as one of my students because I’m a teacher.  The idea came from there and it just kind of wrote itself.  I know that sounds very cliche and writing does not always work like that.  This was kind of like first time luck.”
The writing did happen rapidly as Mizeski has published three books in the last year.  They are part of a trilogy titled Amelia and the Mysterious Woodpecker which focuses on a young female character who tackles different adventures regarding serious science topics.
Though the trilogy is aimed mainly at children in elementary school, Mizeski says she has a dedicated adult following.  She believes some of the rave reviews which come from adults involved in science-related fields are due to the realism of her books.
“I think the fact that it is so real, and the kids (in the series) are actually making a real difference sparks that inner child in these adults who gave me those reviews.”
Not only are adults leaving 5-star reviews on Amazon, but the trilogy has won the attention of the New Jersey Audubon Society. They share Mizeski’s passion to protect different birds from becoming extinct.  The group has endorsed it and it’s on display at their headquarters in Bernardsville.
Though this process happened quickly, Mizeski doesn’t think she is finished writing.  She is considering continuing the series or writing a science fiction book aimed at a slightly older audience.
Mizeski also notes the success of her series is due in large part to her parents. She would read different chapters to them both and always received honest and constructive opinions, which she knows is not always the case in every family.  She is proud they took the time to help her navigate her now blossoming writing career.
Regardless of the direction her writing future takes, she wants the community to know they can do something similar as well.
“Everybody should share their art with the world, no matter what that is, and you don’t have to be the best, but there’s so many ways to express yourself.”
The trilogy Amelia and the Mysterious Woodpecker  is available online on Amazon.  It can also be found at Howling Bassett Books in Oldwick, Scouts Coffee Bar and Mercantile in High Bridge and the New Jersey Audobon’s Scherman-Hoffman Nature Store.

The Coffee Potter serves the best coffee – just ask the horses!
By Steve Sears
The Coffee Potter co-owner, Mike Sciancalepore, aptly describes what his establishment means to the community.
Sciancalepore said, “We’ve been fortunate enough to celebrate a lot of life’s moments with our customers, the good and the bad. That is what I believe makes us so strong and differentiates us, the relationships that we have.”
The includes the relationships the coffee shop has with its favorite four-legged friends. More on that in a moment.
Sciancalepore and his wife, Leah, previously managed The Coffee Potter – which opened in 2017 – for the original owners and founders, Dave and Geralyn Hickey. The Sciancalepores, along with two partners, Kyle and Wesley Jayne, purchased the business from the Hickeys on February 1, 2023.
Those that Sciancalepore hires understand from the first interview the reason for and importance of The Coffee Potter. He said, “When we are hiring somebody, I explain to them that I view our cups of coffee, that red cup that goes out the window, as simply just a tool. And that is the tool that we use to build our community.”
And that community includes numerous equestrian centers in the Long Valley area. Many of The Coffee Potter customers are equestrians, and it is not unusual to see someone on horseback gallop in, or a horse and carriage pull up to the drive-thru window.
The morning of this interview,
Sciancalepore had seen quite a few. He said, “I have spoken to half a dozen customers already this morning that were wearing riding clothing that were going to the barn to ride. That is people that are residents of town that are going to ride at a local barn, and then there are the Centenary (University) students that are going to the barn to ride. We are also fortunate where we are, with the location on the (Columbia) trail, that it is multi-use in the sense that there are walkers, hikers, people riding on horseback, and cyclists. We do get to see a lot of customers that come by on horseback, and it is very cool because it is a mixed lot. There is a Clydesdale farm down the road that will come through. A couple of our customers just keep their horses at a local barn that is right next to the trail, so they are able to ride here. One that I think is very cool is Lotus Equestrian Center, which has a couple of horse drawn carriages. Especially around Christmas time, we will see the horse drawn carriages come through.”
And with the horses, there are sometimes “well received” accidents.
Sciancalepore said, “There are times where the horses poop in the drive thru. We have to go out and clean it up, and it holds up the drive thru line. It is one of the things that I love about the community, though. People in the line are laughing and saying to me, ‘Only in Long Valley am I waiting to get a cup of coffee because you have to clean up horse poop from the drive thru.’”
The holiday season is wonderful at The Coffee Potter. “Christmas is great around here,” Sciancalepore said. “There are holiday happenings, Santa is right down the road, and kids will come through sometimes and decorate cookies. It is a very cool scene.”
The Coffee Potter is located at 24 Schooleys Mountain Road in Long Valley. For more information, visit www.thecoffeepotter.com.

Free Christmas Concert
 St. Therese Prayer Ministry offering a free Christmas concert featuring Dan Yates, a New York City Broadway professional singer on Tuesday, December 19th at 1:00 p.m. at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Mountain Lakes, NJ.  Dan has a magnificent voice and has been gifted with high performance capabilities.  You don’t want to miss this special day and you will leave with a faith filled spirit.  And it will definitely put you in the Spirit of the Season.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!!  Dan will sing some wonderful hymns and share the story of some of its history.  It’s a day you don’t want to miss!!  Come join us to celebrate this blessed season!!  Any questions, please call Carol Bsarany 973-271-9252.

A Christmas Story: The Sacrifice

By Richard Mabey Jr.

It was in early December of 1967, when I was 14 years old and in my freshman year at Boonton High School, that I was to learn just how much Grandpa Mabey loved Grandma Mabey. For the love did shine, from Grandpa’s heart, not by words, but by true sacrifice.

It was in the dawn of the Summer of 1964, when I was 10 years old and had just completed the fifth grade, that Grandma and Grandpa moved in with us at the old Mabey Homestead. This was the very home that Grandpa’s father, William Mabey, had built in 1895.           

Right behind the old Mabey Homestead, once stood a big garage. It was there that Grandpa stored his old Indian motorcycle. My grandfather, Watson Mabey, had always told me that he had bought the motorcycle, with his brother Earl, during the Fall of 1916. This was just before the United States became involved in the First World War.

Grandpa always kept the old Indian motorcycle stored in the northwest corner of our old garage. This was the side of the garage that was closest to Mabey Lane. Grandpa kept a piece of heavy canvas over his old motorcycle. It was on an early Saturday morning, in early December, that I helped Grandpa remove the heavy canvas from Grandpa’s pride and joy motorcycle.

I remember that there was a window that looked out to Earl’s Meadow, the back acre that was to be the site of Grandpa’s brothers home, for when he returned from World War I. Sadly, Earl was killed in battle, in France. After we removed the old canvas tarp, Grandpa stared out to Earl’s Meadow.

“My brother and I used to pick apples from that old apple tree, when were boys about your age. We’d put them all in a big wooden basket and my mom would bake a couple of apple pies,” Grandpa shared with me, with a bit of a tear in his eye.

“Fred Belmont’s going to stop by this morning. I’m going to sell him this old motorcycle,” Grandpa said to me, in a most solemn and reflective voice.

I didn’t know quite what to say. I knew how much the old Indian motorcycle meant to Grandpa. It was all so representative of the bond that he had with his late brother, Earl.

“I saw a gold necklace in the jewelry store in town. I’ve thought long and hard about it. I’m going to buy that gold necklace for your grandmother. I’ll have the money when I sell my old motorcycle to Old Man Belmont,” Grandpa quietly told me.

It was about an hour later that Fred Belmont showed up to buy Grandpa’s cherished Indian motorcycle. I helped my dad load up Grandpa’s motorcycle onto Fred’s pickup truck. As Fred drove off our driveway and up Mabey Lane, Grandpa did his best to hold back the tears. But, despite his best efforts, tears ran down Grandpa’s old cheeks.

After lunch, Dad, Grandpa and I drove down to the jewelry store on Main Street in Lincoln Park. It was located just to the right hand side of Moe’s Sweet Shop. Grandpa smiled from ear to ear, as he paid for the beautiful golden necklace.

Life is short. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices for the people we love. The Christmas of 1967 was to be Grandpa’s last Christmas, on this side of Heaven’s Gate. I think that deep inside his heart, Grandpa knew it was going to be his last Christmas.

My grandmother, Bertha Storms Mabey, cherished the beautiful golden necklace till the day the good Lord called her Home, on the fifth of January of 1989.

I don’t think a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about my paternal grandparents. I remember Grandpa’s crooked smile and the twinkle in his eye. I can still see Grandma peeling apples to bake an apple pie.

In memory, I return to the old Mabey Homestead. I can still hear the echo of Grandpa’s infectious laugh. I can still hear the resonance of Grandma’s sweet voice, telling stories of her Irish heritage. Love  the people in your life. Forgive, forgive, forgive. Cherish every moment. 

Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He hosts a YouTube Channel titled, “Richard Mabey Presents.” Richard most recently published a book of poetry and short stories. He can be reached at richardmabeyjr@hotmail.com.

 

Alleviating Winter Woes:
How Acupuncture Can Help Manage Worsening Arthritis Symptoms

For individuals with arthritis, the winter season can bring about intensified pain and discomfort as the cold weather sets in. Many people report that their arthritis symptoms worsen during colder months, leading to increased joint pain and stiffness. In the quest for relief, some individuals turn to acupuncture, an ancient practice that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body.

The reasons behind the exacerbation of arthritis symptoms in colder weather are multifaceted. Some theories propose that changes in atmospheric pressure, temperature, and humidity can influence joint fluid viscosity, potentially contributing to increased stiffness and pain. Moreover, reduced physical activity during winter months may lead to muscle weakness and further compromise joint function. As individuals seek ways to manage these winter woes, acupuncture emerges as a potential ally in the battle against worsening arthritis symptoms.

Acupuncture is believed to enhance blood circulation and energy flow throughout the body. This is particularly relevant for individuals with arthritis exacerbated by the cold. By inserting needles into specific acupuncture points, practitioners aim to improve circulation, potentially alleviating cold-induced stiffness and promoting a sense of warmth in affected joints. The increased blood flow may also aid in the delivery of nutrients to joint tissues, supporting their health and function.

Acupuncture’s ability to modulate pain signals in the body is well-documented. For individuals with arthritis, especially during the winter, the heightened pain sensitivity can be challenging. Acupuncture may help regulate the perception of pain by promoting the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals. This can be particularly beneficial for managing the increased discomfort associated with winter-related arthritis symptoms.

The muscle tension and stiffness often accompanying arthritis can be exacerbated in colder temperatures. Acupuncture’s muscle-relaxing effects can offer relief by promoting a state of relaxation in the muscles and joints. This can contribute to improved range of motion and reduced stiffness, making daily activities more manageable for individuals with winter-aggravated arthritis.

As winter brings its unique challenges for individuals with arthritis, acupuncture emerges as a potential therapeutic tool to manage worsening symptoms. By promoting circulation, modulating pain signals, and relaxing muscles and joints, acupuncture offers a holistic approach to addressing the specific challenges presented by cold weather.  For more information call Mount Olive Acupuncture and Wellness 973-527-7978

inflammatory cytokines, which contribute to the joint inflammation characteristic of arthritis.

Improved Joint Mobility

Arthritis often limits joint mobility due to pain and stiffness. Acupuncture can help alleviate this restriction by promoting better blood flow to the affected areas and relaxing muscle tension. This, in turn, enables individuals to regain some of their lost mobility and flexibility, making daily activities more manageable.

Individualized Treatment

One of the key advantages of acupuncture is its personalized approach. Practitioners tailor treatments to suit the unique needs of each patient. Whether an individual is dealing with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or another form of the condition, an acupuncturist can customize their treatment plan to address specific symptoms and concerns.

Acupuncture offers a holistic and individualized approach to managing arthritis. By addressing pain, reducing inflammation, and improving joint mobility, this ancient practice can be a valuable part of a comprehensive arthritis treatment plan. If you are considering acupuncture as part of your arthritis management, call Mt. Olive Acupuncture and Wellness 973-527-7968 www.mtoliveacupuncture.com

What Working from Home Means for Musculoskeletal Pain

By Michael Lalama, DC

Among the many changes to our lives that came with the COVID-19 pandemic, modifications of working habits and ergonomics proved to be a significant challenge in preventing and/or minimizing musculoskeletal pain.1 As the world adopted different containment measures, the number of people working from home increased tremendously.2 While working from home brought multiple advantages to employees, such as less commuting and having more flexibility, it has also brought in several constraints that have impacted the lives of workers.2

First, working from home typically involves extended sedentary computer work with minimal active interruptions.2 For example, while working in an office you are more likely to get up from your desk and walk to the copier, breakroom, or to meetings, whereas at home these activities are done virtually or are lost all together.2 Ultimately, remote work from home has promoted a more sedentary lifestyle and, when combined with individual set-up constraints, a decrease in ergonomics.2

In the Netherlands, it was found that only one-third of home workers in 2020 and one-half of home workers in 2021 had an optimally furnished workplace (e.g., adjustable desks, adjustable chairs, a separate computer monitor, a separate mouse, etc.) to promote good posture.2 In a separate study of at home set-ups, they found that 40.9% of workers did not use an office desk; among them, 65.3% used a kitchen or a dining room table, 20% used a living room table, and the remaining 14.7% used a makeshift table (e.g., a chest of drawers) instead.1 The utilization of incorrect or suboptimal equipment/furniture directly correlates with reduced ergonomics. But even when ergonomic and adaptable furniture is available, workers do not always install and/or use the furniture appropriately.2 In addition, over half of at home workers have reported working longer hours than when they were in the office.1

Not only are at home workers at an increased risk for musculoskeletal pain based on workspaces that are not ergonomically installed, they are now also sitting for more hours than at the office.2 This ultimately increases the likelihood of pain in any region of the spine; in fact, working from home was associated with a higher risk of low back pain, upper back pain, neck pain, shoulder and/or arm pain compared to working on location.2 And since remote work has turned previously active interruptions virtual, it’s not a surprise that most workers do not exercise (e.g., walking, stretching, etc.) during breaks.1

It was also found that at home workers who did not exercise regularly outside of working hours had a significantly higher incidence of lower back pain and upper back/neck pain compared to those who did.1 It was common for workers to find it hard to get themselves to start exercising, which was mostly due to a perceived lack of time; however, this is directly correlated with an increase in pain and a decrease in quality of life.1 But even with the deterioration in musculoskeletal pain associated with working from home, most workers would still rather work from home than go to the office.1 So what can be done?

Most recommendations involve taking frequent breaks from working with a computer, as well as practicing exercises to ease the load on the spine, neck, upper extremities, and the eyes.1 This, however, does not address the lack of time or space many at home workers complain of. Taking frequent breaks (e.g., 5-15 min every hour) while working can free up small intervals of time throughout the day that workers can be active. It is common to think that you need a large period of continuous time in order to exercise, but in reality, even 5 minutes an hour over the course of an 8-hour workday adds up to 40 minutes. While it is not likely to perform strenuous exercises in 5 minutes, stretches and postural exercises can help reduce the load on the spine and reduce the incidence of musculoskeletal pain.

It is always important to consult a licensed healthcare professional before starting an exercise program, and to explore which treatment options are right for you.

Radulović, A. H., Žaja, R., Milošević, M., Radulović, B., Luketić, I., & Božić, T. (2021). Work from home and musculoskeletal pain in telecommunications workers during COVID-19 pandemic: a pilot study. Arhiv za higijenu rada i toksikologiju, 72(3), 232–239. https://doi.org/10.2478/aiht-2021-72-3559

Bosma, E., Loef, B., van Oostrom, S.H. et al. (2022) The longitudinal association between working from home and musculoskeletal pain during the COVID-19 pandemic. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 96, 521–535. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-022-01946-5

 

Arthur Godfrey – Pilot and Showman
By Henry M. Holden
Arthur Morton Godfrey was born on August 31, 1903, in New York City. Because of harsh economic conditions, his family moved to Hasbrouck Heights at an early age.
His parents were poor, and Godfrey dropped out of high school at 15 and worked as a baker’s delivery boy.
Godfrey served in the United States Navy from 1920 to 1924 as a radio operator on a destroyer. He then returned home to care for the family after his father’s death.
Godfrey learned to fly in 1929, while working on broadcast radio in the Washington, D.C., area. He was badly injured on his way to a flying lesson in 1931, when a truck lost its left front wheel and hit him head on. Godfrey spent months recuperating.
Additional radio training came during Godfrey’s service in the Coast Guard from 1927 to 1930. He passed a stringent qualifying examination and was admitted to the prestigious Radio Materiel School at the Naval Research Laboratory, graduating in 1929.
While in Baltimore, he appeared in a local talent show broadcast and became popular enough to land his own brief weekly radio program.
During World War II, he served as a reserve officer in the United States Navy in a public affairs role.
As a reserve officer, he used his
public position to persuade the Navy into qualifying him as a Naval Aviator. Later the United States Air Force, successfully recruited him into the Air Force Reserve.
He made a television movie in 1953, taking control of an Eastern Air Lines Lockheed Constellation airliner and flying to Miami, showing how safe airline travel had become.
He became a strong promoter of middle-class values and spent time with his middle-class fans vacationing in Hawaii and Miami Beach, Florida, former enclaves of the wealthy.
In Hawaii, he helped raise funds for the “Coronation” carillon installed at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, in 1956.
His continued unpaid promotion of Eastern Air Lines earned him the undying gratitude of Eddie Rickenbacker, the World War I flying ace who was the president of the airline. He was such a good friend of the airline that Rickenbacker took a retiring Douglas DC-3, fitted with an executive interior, reconditioned engines, and presented it to Godfrey.
On January 7, 1950, Godfrey was preparing to take off from Teterboro Airport (TEB) in his private DC-3. He requested a takeoff on runway 32 which was short but faced into the wind. At the end of the runway was that hill in Hasbrouck Heights.
The tower refused his request and instructed him to use runway #1 although it had a strong crosswind. He complied, but he claimed that the windy conditions that day required him to turn immediately after takeoff.  The fact is that he was upset with the tower because they would not give him the runway he requested. His actions caused him to buzz the tower, almost running into it.
The four tower personnel scrambled for the stai
rway. When they had calmed down, they reported Godfrey to the FAA.
Years later, the tower chief recalled what happened.  “About halfway down the strip Godfrey flew at a low altitude veering over the waiting aircraft and headed for the control tower. “We could have counted the plane’s rivets as it roared over our heads,”  said one controller.
Asked if he was in trouble, Godfrey replied “That was a normal takeoff for Teterboro.”
The tower chief wrote up a report to his superiors citing the incident, as a clear violation of the FAA rules. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that Godfrey’s pilots license would be revoked if he couldn’t satisfactorily explain why he had buzzed the tower.
Being familiar with TEB this author can say that Godfrey’s sharp turn over the aircraft waiting to takeoff was unwarranted and dangerous. Had it not been for two powerful engines, and the skill of the pilot, the story would have had a different outcome.
After a long battle with the FAA, Godfrey had his license suspended for six months. His fight with the FAA made him more popular than ever, and his TV and radio shows increased his popularity by the millions.
For more than 30 years, Godfrey kept an assortment of airplanes at Teterboro and, at the peak of his popularity he commuted regularly between New Jersey and his farm in Virginia.
In 1966, Godfrey participated in a record-setting flight around the world. He and Dick Merrill, Eastern Airlines, most celebrated captain, put together the logistics of the flight. With Fred Austin, a TWA captain and Karl Keller, Rockwell Standard Corporation, test pilot, they circled the globe in a Rockwell Jet Commander business aircraft.
The 23,333-mile flight, included 20 refueling stops was made in 55 hours and 30 minutes flight time with an average speed of 423 mph.
Because of his close friendship with the US Air Force, General Curtis LeMay, Godfrey became such a supporter of the Air Force that he resigned his commission as a commander in the Navy Reserve and accepted a r
etired commission in the Air Force Reserve. All through the 50s and the 60s he was allowed to fly in highly sophisticated Air Force aircraft. On the civilian side, he flew all generations of commercial aircraft up to the Boeing 747.
In July 1974 he flew solo from New Jersey to Point Barrow, Alaska, and back 12,000 nautical miles in 62 hours.

Although Godfrey had a passion for flight, he was also an in-demand showman. The first was a stage play with Ray Bolger in Three to Make Ready. His next appearance was to play opposite Maureen O’Sullivan in Never Too Late, and on the summer circuit in Generations. In 1966, he appeared to co-star with Doris Day in the film Glass Botton Boat.
During his 40-year career, Godfrey received Awards from military and civilian organizations for each flying achievement and for his promotion of flight and of flying during a period where the average citizen had a deep fear of airplanes.
Although he lost his license for six months, the entertainer rebuked the FAA and Teterboro for years on both his daily radio programs and television show. At the time he was possibly the most popular entertainer in the United States.
His license suspension set off a feud between Godfrey and the FAA that brought Teterboro to the attention of Godfrey’s 40-million listeners. Godfrey chastised the FAA and Teterboro for years on both his highly rated daily radio show, and television shows.
Godfrey would constantly promote aviation to his audiences, private, commercial, and military. He would tell his listeners, “Everybody should learn to fly. If I can then it can’t be too hard. After all, if I could learn anyone can,” he chuckled.
When Godfrey died on March 16, 1983, he left all his aviation awards and memorabilia to the New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame and Museum. Those trophies, plaques, and medals are on display in the museum today.
In the end Godfrey said, “Despite a closet full of aviation trophies, the only feat which I will probably be remembered is allegedly buzzing the tower at Teterboro.”

Child Writes Book to Help Victims of Abuse
By Evan Wechman
High School Senior Charlotte Varela Gajewski loved reading as a child.  Her parents would try to read with her nightly, hoping it would pay off years later.  Now, as she is preparing for college next year, the whole family realizes the gift reading can be.  Gajewski, who also credits her terrific teachers for developing her creative writing skills, is awaiting the 2024 release of her children’s book titled, “I See You-aTrue Tale of Two Bunnies.”
The book was not written for fame or money, but to help children cope with trauma.  The young author has been volunteering for the last five years at Deirdre’s House, a non-profit organization in Morristown.  They provide essential services to children victimized by abuse.  Gajeski is donating copies of her book with the proceeds from the sales going right back to help the children.
Gajewski has been assisting with their annual galas and pitching  in wherever
she could, but had a yearning to do more.
“Seeing how much Deirdre’s House helps children, I wanted to think of something that I could do to have an impact and help.  I wanted to give the children something to brighten their day and ease some of the discomfort during difficult times,” she says.
The book is a story of two bunnies living completely different lives but creating a strong bond because they see all the beautiful qualities in each other.  It’s inspired by the author’s childhood where she cared for bunnies and other animals.
She wants to pass on these lessons she learned as a kid to children who genuinely need positivity and trust in their lives.
“I hope to teach children that regardless of their life circumstances they have to be positive, look on the bright side, and be a good friend. I feel that parents, caretakers, educators, and clinicians can use the bunnies to teach this life lesson to children for their specific situation.”
This endearing story will be read by the staff at Deirdre’s House with the children.  T
hough the book hasn’t been officially released yet, Gajewski has generously shared advance copies with the children and has even signed a few copies for them as well.
“I know the impact and joy a book can bring,” Gajewski says.  She hopes to write books in the future to inspire young readers, while also trying to find more solutions for children at college.
This has excited the Executive Director of the house, Maria Vinci-Savettiere, Esq.  She gave up the profits and accolades of practicing corporate law to fulfill her life’s mission of helping child victims.  Her passion is shared by the author and the director is amazed.
She explains Deirdre’s House is the primary center in Morris County which assists child victims. It is through the work and sensitivity of people like Gajewski that they can touch so many lives.
“For us (the organization) the impact of a child helping another child is huge.  This is not another book, but something a child wrote to help other children feel better,” she says.
The book will be available in early 2024 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.

Ricciardi Brothers – Developing Workplace Readiness Skills
By Henry M. Holden
The Calais School of Whippany opened in 1970, and there are about one hundred students currently enrolled in the school.
The Calais School is a state-approved, nonprofit, private special education school in North Jersey serving students in grades K through 12 Plus who have multiple learning disabilities as well as anxiety, mood, behavior, and autism spectrum disorders.
Many students with special needs find success with Calais’ 12 Plus a Program as it helps to bridge the gap between high school, college, and career,” said Ashley Soleau, Communications Director at the Calais School. “Our 12 Plus Program is designed to prepare students ages 18-21 for the next step in their lives in a safe and encouraging environment.
The home district where the student comes from is generally not able to deal with the special needs of the stude
nt who will subsequently be placed in the Calais School.”
The Calais School recently announced a renewal of the partnership with the Ricciardi Brothers of Morristown. Ricciardi Brothers is a family-owned retail establishment providing paint, staining, and decorating needs to its customers throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
“This partnership gives high school students participating in The Calais School Work-Based Learning (WBL) program, a chance to intern in the colorful and creative industry of retail paint and decorating, “said Soleau.
“They are on an unpaid internship that will give them a variety of work experiences.
“The students are really learning about work-readiness. Do they understand what their role is as an employee and how they will interact with people? We will explain how to manage the expectations of their manager and succeed with their interactions with other students and coworkers.”
Riccardi may have a slightly different environment in the student’s experience.
The Riccardi Brothers customers are looking for professional advice on a paint color or a product. That will give them a variety of work experience.
In general, the WBL is an educational strategy that provides students with real-life work experiences where they can apply academic or technical skills and develop their employability. It is a series of educational courses which integrate the school or university curriculum with the workplace to create a different learning paradigm where there is the intersection of explicit and tacit forms of knowing.
Work-based learning encompasses unpaid internships, apprenticeships, work placement, and informal learning on the job. The key driver is the need for active policies to secure learning that meets the needs of the workplace.
WBL internships at local businesses such as Ricciardi Brothers help students build their resumes, explore career paths, and develop workplace readiness skills.
In early 2023, a small group of Calais students began their internship at the Morristown location of Riccardi Brothers Paints under the watchful ey
es of their supervisor  Victor Zywicki.
“The Calais School students get an inside look at the retail paint and decorating industry while participating in a variety of activities,” said Zywicki. “In a typical week, students are exposed to inventory management strategies, supply s
tocking techniques, and breaking down equipment at the end of their shift.”
The Ricciardi Brothers’ staff were thoughtful and engaging with the student interns and even taught them about the artform of paint mixing.
“The students have commented on how welcoming and appreciated the employees and customers made them feel,” said Zywici.
This on-site experience has also allowed student interns the opportunity to continue developing a diverse range of invaluable transferable skills in customer service, communication, time and inventory management, problem solving, and mindfulness.
“As far as them coming here, they do a great job,” said Zywicki. “They ’re very enthusiastic. They are nice people, and I am happy to have them here and helping us out.
“It’s gotten to the point where we look forward to Tuesday and Thursday which are the days they come.
“The whole experience working with the Calais students has been positive,” said Zywicki, “Calais students really learned their jobs well and they were always so polite and p
leasant to work with. We were so pleased with the students; we looked forward to working again with the Calais school.”
The Calais School’s Work Based Learning (WBL) program with local businesses has grown into a robust offering of hands-on training in a variety of industries including childcare, nonprofit, fashion retail, food retail, information services, healthcare, and pharmacy services. This partnership with Ricciardi Brothers enriches the student experience b
y adding the retail paint and decorating industry to their resumes.
“We have renewed the contract, and we’re currently doing it two days a week. We have four students, two on Tuesday and two on Thursday.
“I think they are getting used to a work atmosphere. They do retail work, they help us keep the store clean, and stock the shelves. We have color cards here that we use for painting, so they help to sort them out. They stay for three-and-one half- hours every Tuesday and Thursday if they come through the school year.
“They do not get paid so they’re doing this
for the learning experience and exposure. They’re all learning skills that they would need to fit into society and have a job.
“We don’t teach them how to mix the colors, that’s a separate
training role, said Zywicki, “but they were able to do some things that are very helpful to us.
“For those students who have graduated from the Calais School, they may continue by choice to learn at the Calais School until they are 23 years old,” said Soleau. “We have it pretty much down to a routine now.”
College readiness is addressed through our College Bridge Program in partnership with County College of Morris (CCM). https://thecalaisschool.org/#about

 

When One Door Closes…

By Richard Mabey Jr.

I am writing this column on an early Tuesday morning, the seventh of November. This past Saturday was a tough day for me. I called all my dog walking clients and told them that I was giving up the dog walking business. I have a little over a dozen dog walking clients. I love caring for the many pups. In all so many ways, they are my best friends.

My Cardiologist thought it be best for me to take a break from the demands of walking dogs. I often have to pick up the little puppers, to put them on a chair to put on their lead. There’s a lot more to it, than meets the eye.
I started calling my many clients at about 10:00 in the morning. I did take time to eat lunch. But other than that, I was laser focused on the job at hand, letting my friends know that I would no longer be able to care for and walk their precious pups, when they went away to visit their kids in Squirrel Valley. I made my last telephone call at a little past two in the afternoon. After I hung up the phone, after talking with my last client, I cried. It was an emotionally painful moment in time.

Walking dogs was a most wonderful thing. I truly loved the dogs whom I cared for, took walks with and fed them their meals. I was truly like an adopted uncle to them. I loved them all very much. And, I know the puppers loved me.

As I await the final decision of my Cardiologist, as she gathers the data from the many, many cardiac tests and procedures that I endured in the past month or so, I realize that this is a time of reflection, of contemplation and of prayer.

Love is a most incredibly positive powerful force. It is the key that opens the door for miracles. It is the vehicle upon which will provide a means of travel to wonderful places, inwardly and outwardly. I have a thousand and one memories of cherished moments of caring for my array of four-legged, furry friends. But I have come to accept that God now has a new plan for me.

I plan of devoting even more time to my writing. To focus my energies to seeing that my second book gets published, before I meet Saint Peter at Heaven’s Gate. And, to bring my YouTube Channel to a higher calling.

If you are faced with a door closing in your life, please do not despair. You are here for a purpose. And, sometimes a purpose in life becomes complete. We cannot fully understand why a door closes, at the time it closes, but for the most part, there is a reason. For life is truly a series of chapters that have their own distinct purpose and calling.

When a door in life closes, it is usually emotionally painful. There is a time and a place to mourn the closing of a door in life. But we absolutely must pick ourselves up, brush the emotional dust off, and move forward in life. To march bravely for a new purpose in life.

Love, love, love the people in your life. Give of yourself, your talents and a percentage of your income to help others. We are not islands in the stream, destined to live alone. Each and every one of us, has been put upon this earth with a purpose and a calling to serve others. We all have different talents, different strengths, different weaknesses to overcome. Forgive, forgive and forgive. Then forgive again.

God loves you more than you will ever know. Pray to come to realize God’s immense love, on some level. Love one another. For love is the key that opens the door to amazing miracles.          

Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He hosts a YouTube Channel titled, “Richard Mabey Presents.” Richard most recently published a book of poetry and short stories. He can be reached at richardmabeyjr@hotmail.com.

Newark Academy Graduate Makes Big Splash in Debut Novel
By Evan Wechman
Ben Purkert recently had his debut novel The Men Can’t Be Saved published by the major New York publishing house, Abrams Publishing
and is already receiving lots of attention. Though Purkert reached wide acclaim in 2018 when he published a collection of his poems in For the Love of Endings, critics and fans both believe he has made a tough but successful transition.
His name might not be known throughout the United States yet, but doors are starting to open for him.  He has recently garnered great reviews from The Washington Post and Kirkus Reviews.
He is also starting to attract a following in the North Jersey area since he graduated high school at Newark Academy in Livingston.  Though Purkert was always fascinated by words and poems, the education he received there was profound. He remembers fondly his teacher, Betsy LaPadula and her passion for writing.
“She made me fall in love with English Literature, but especially with poetry.  It just felt like poetry, especially was the place to go for anyone obsessed with words.  And I love language more than anything, so she had a huge impact on me and the trajectory of my life and career, Purkert says.
Though the author was initially passionate about poetry, he continued to write short stories and study fiction while attending Harvard University.  After his collection of poems was published, many might have assumed this would be his favored track.  However, Purkert was fascinated by writers who had switched style
s and wanted to craft fiction as well.
Though he had some doubts as to whether it would be a success, the young author worked for about ten years to make sure the book would be a success.
“My background is as a poet.  I didn’t know how to write a novel or book of this size other than to just labor over every sentence and to try to care as much about every word in the novel as I care about every word in a poem.”
T
hough the book’s success has been felt among both casual readers and literary pundits, the meaning of the book has people chatting.
The main character Seth is a witty but arrogant copywriter who often jeopardizes himself and others due to his inflated ego.  According to Purkert, some readers see it as a comedy while others see it as a cautionary tale about narcissists.  Either way, the author is satisfied leaving the book’s message open to be interpreted by the reader.
Even the title The Men Can’t Be Saved has been interpreted differently by his following as well.  According to Purkert though the title came towards the end and was not the initial working title.
“All of the book is sort of leading to that question, is Seth going to redeem himself or not,” he says.
Either way, the change from poetry to fiction has worked out and Purkert admits that part of being an artist is taking chances and crossing boundaries.
According to him, “experiments across genres is sort of an artist making art in the highest sense because they’re taking a big experiment, they’re making a big leap.”
Many of his readers are now wondering what is next for the young author.  Since he has successfully published both poems and novels, there is again a small debate over what his next project will entail.  However, Purkert is keeping his lips sealed.

 “I can’t say too much other than that I’m continuing to write poems and I’m continuing to write novels and I love working in the two media.  They offer me different things and I’m grateful for both.”

Chester’s Publick House Reopens To Rich History
In nearly 200 years of history, the Publick House has been an inn, a school, a stagecoach stop and the scene of more than a few paranormal events. In 1810, the Publick House at 111 Main St., was known as the Brick Tavern, and was a well-known stagecoach stop for those traveling on the Washington Turnpike from Morristown to Phillipsburg. Almost two centuries later, the preserved 35,000 square foot building reopened in 2010, in the form of a restaurant/bar and gelato café. The renovations included 10 suites, located above the restaurant. The building had been closed for renovations since it was sold and purchased in March by Joseph and Bart Lubrano of Randolph Township.
The Publick House’s denoted Zephaniah Drake, a proprietor of the first line of stagecoaches, built the original Publick House, known as the Brick Hotel or Brick Tavern, in 1810, according to the Chester Historical Society website. Travelers going from New Jersey to Pennsylvania made frequent stops at the inn to eat or rest before their long journeys. In 1854, educator, William Rankin, added two wings and turned the tavern into the Chester Institute, a classical college preparatory school. Since then, the building has been maintained and run by a variety of owners and was registered in 1976 under the National Historic Registry as a “historic American building.” The Publick House has served as a “publick” gathering spot once again in the heart of the Chester community, where memories and many tales indeed have been made. Aging and time took a toll on the building and forced its recent closing. Many anticipated a preservation and re-opening and great strides have been made to do so, as it approached its bicentennial in the year 2010. This landmark building continued to undergo gradual renovations in order to preserve the inn and to return it to the community it has served for so long.
Haunted ‘House’ Stories of hauntings and ghosts have also become part of the restaurant’s alluring history. There have been many rumors, such as pots and pans “flying across the kitchen” and guests’ baggage mysteriously changing rooms, that have been told about the Publick House. Assemblyman Guy Gregg, who owned the inn from 1983 to 2003, said that in his time at the restaurant, many guests spoke of supernatural experiences. “There is a history behind the Publick House,” Gregg said. Gregg’s wife, Linda, also said many guests would tell her that although they closed and locked their doors at nights, they would wake up and find them open. “Many guests complained about the same thing and some also said they would hear voices during the night.” The Greggs both said that the building, which has a lot of catacombs and secret passageways, has an energy and a feeling to it, which is beyond explanation. “Sometimes we’d be sitting around and a coldness would come over us,” Mrs. Gregg said. “And then, in an instant, it would be gone.” Mrs. Gregg said the building is certainly filled with paranormal activity, which even naysayers have recognized. Neither the then owners nor their employees would talk about the alleged ghosts. “I’m sure the spirits are not here to harm us.” Mrs. Gregg said.
The Restored Bar, that sits in the lounge area of the Publick House has been completely restored to its
original state. Even the mirror behind the assortment of liquors and wines are original, dating back to the 1800’s. Also restored is a working fireplace, as well as the porch, which facilitates outdoor dining.
In 2020, the restaurant and hotel were closed due to Covid, and sat vacant until June 2023 when Restaurant Village Hospitality Group, owned and operated by Steve and Andrea Bussel, purchased and reopened it as PH Steakhouse and the new Publick House Hotel. After extensive renovations, it finally reopened on September 28, 2023. The facility now boasts a tavern-like steakhouse and 10 suites above. In addition, the catering room, which can accommodate up to 80 guests, is open for weddings, parties, paranormal functions, and a future comedy club.
Please visit our websites at PHSteakhouse.com and PublickHouseHotel.com for more information and events.

I Have a Little Dreidel
The holiday season simply wouldn’t be the same without music, and people of all faiths have their traditional songs to sing during this special time of year. Chanukah celebrants may teach children the classic tune, “I Have a Little Dreidel” (also known as “The Dreidel Song”). The song is often taught to young children in advance of the Jewish holiday of Chanukah to get them excited about the season. The online resource ejewishphilanthropy.com reports that the English version of the song was written by Shmuel Eliezer Goldfarb, who served as the Director of the Music Education Ministry on the Jewish Council in New York. A Yiddish version, written by Shmuel Shlomo Grossman, features slightly different lyrics but can be just as festive in the days leading up to Chanukah.

“I Have a Little Dreidel”
I have a little dreidel
I made it out of clay
And when it’s dry and ready
Oh dreidel, I shall play
Oh, dreidel, dreidel, dreidel

I made you out of clay
And when you’re dry and ready
Oh Dreidel we shall play
Oh, dreidel, dreidel, dreidel
I made you out of wood
And when you are all ready
I’ll play you when I could
Oh, dreidel, dreidel, dreidel

I made you out of glass
And when you are all ready
I’ll play you on the grass

Oh, dreidel, dreidel, dreidel
I made you out of gold
And when you are all ready
I’ll play you in the cold

Lyrics courtesy of Chabad.org.

Embracing Dietary Diversity at Your Holiday Table:  A Flavorful Feast for All
The holidays, a time for gratitude and celebration, can be particularly challenging for those living with dietary restrictions.
A recent national survey commissioned by Amy’s Kitchen and conducted by Atomik Research showed that more than 32% of households live with someone with a dietary restriction. Whether you’re following a gluten-free, dairy-free or plant-based diet, or feeding someone who does, there’s no need to miss out on the joy of a flavorful holiday feast. With a little guidance, you can not only survive the holiday season but truly savor it without sacrificing holiday classics.
Explore these holiday-inspired recipes that cater to various dietary preferences from the culinary team at Amy’s Kitchen, a brand known for its dedication to inclusivity and accommodating a variety of dietary lifestyles.

Green Bean Casserole
For those with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, traditional green bean casserole can be a no-go. Amy’s Kitchen offers a delightful gluten-free option that
is even better than the original.
• 1 medium-sized onion, sliced 1/2-inch thick

• Extra virgin olive oil
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• 1 can Amy’s Mushroom Bisque with Porcini
• 1 teaspoon cornstarch
• 2 cups green beans, frozen
• 1 cup wax beans, frozen
• 1 cup prepared gluten-free stuffing
• 1/2 cup chopped almonds

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Roast onion slices on a baking sheet with olive oil, salt and pepper for 15 minutes at 425 degrees F. Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk Amy’s Mushroom Bisque with Porcini and cornstarch until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Combine green beans, wax beans and mushroom soup mixture in a bowl, season and mix. Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish or cast iron skillet. Top with 1 cup of prepared, gluten-free stuffing, mixed with chopped almonds and roasted onions. Bake for 25 minutes, or until bubbling at the edges and the topping is golden.

Lentil Shepard’s Pie with an Amy’s Kitchen Twist
Shepherd’s pie is a classic holiday favorite, and this redesigned modern version is vegan and gluten free.

• 1 can Amy’s Organic Lentil Vegetable Soup
• 2 cups sprouted lentils, cooked
• 3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cooked with skin on
• 1/2 cup almond milk
• 2 teaspoons vegan butter
• 1/2 cup leeks, shaved
• 1/2 cup Brussels sprouts, shaved
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Warm one can of Amy’s Organic Lentil Vegetable Soup with sprouted lentils in a saucepan over medium heat for 8-10 minutes. In a separate pan, mash potatoes with almond milk and vegan butter, seasoning with salt and pepper. Sauté leeks and Brussels sprouts in olive oil until slightly crispy, seasoning with salt and pepper. Layer soup mixture at the bottom of a baking dish, top with mashed potatoes, and finish with sautéed leeks and Brussels sprouts. Bake for 5-7 minutes and serve immediately.
Amy’s Kitchen offers a wide array of holiday recipes to help you create a delicious, inclusive and memorable celebration. Find more holiday-inspired dishes and ideas at: amys.com/eating-well/recipes.
While accommodating dietary restrictions and lifestyles can seem tricky, easy tweaks on classic recipes means you can host your holiday feast without sacrificing taste and tradition. (StatePoint)

Tasty Tidbits about Eggnog
Eggnog is a rich and delicious beverage that has become synonymous with the most festive time of year. This milk- and egg-based concoction is tasty on its own, or it can be dressed up with other flavors and spiked with a favorite spirit when celebrating the holiday season with other adult partygoers.

December is National Eggnog Month, and December 24 is National Eggnog Day. There is no more perfect time of year to learn everything you can about eggnog — all the while sipping a cup of this creamy concoction. Indulge in these festive facts about the beverage, courtesy of Mental Floss, The Fact Site and Tastemade.
• Eggnog likely originated in the medieval period and was known as “posset,” a hot, milk-based drink made of spices and wine. Even though posset could be a cocktail, it also was used as a remedy for colds and flu for its soothing properties.
• Milk, eggs and sherry used in the early recipes were difficult to come by, so when eggnog first appeared it was a drink only the wealthy could enjoy. That changed when eggnog was popularized in the American colonies, where dairy products and liquor were more readily available.
• Entymologists believe “eggnog” stems from the word “noggin,” which refers to small wooden mugs often used to serve strong ale, known by the slang word “nog.”
• In the Medieval period, it was risky to drink milk straight because it wasn’t pasteurized. Eggnog contained alcohol so that it would kill off any harmful bacteria in the milk.
• A typical homemade version of eggnog has roughly one egg per serving. However, commercial eggnog is regulated by the FDA and can only contain 1 percent of the product’s final weight in egg yolk solids. That stems from fear of raw egg and salmonella.

• President George Washington apparently enjoyed serving eggnog at Christmas, and even had his own special recipe (see below), according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
• There is no right or wrong alcohol to use when preparing eggnog. Distilled spirits like rum, sherry, cognac, and whiskey all have produced suitable eggnogs.
• Puerto Rican coquito is a traditional drink that is very similar to eggnog.
• Individuals concerned about eggs or milk in eggnog can enjoy a vegan recipe made from nut milk instead. Commercially produced vegan eggnog offerings are now more widely available.
• One of the more notable flavors in eggnog comes from the use of nutmeg. Nutmeg is a fragrant spice made from grinding the seed of the nutmeg tree.
Now that you’ve learned about eggnog, whip up a batch of George Washington’s original recipe this holiday season.

Eggnog

(George Washington’s original interpretation)
1 quart cream
1 quart milk
1 dozen tablespoons sugar
1 pint brandy
1⁄2 pint rye whiskey
1⁄2 pint Jamaican rum
1⁄4 pint sherry

Eggs (Washington forgot to include the number of eggs, so home chefs can improvise or use six, which seems to be the standard in traditional recipes)
Mix liquor first, then separate yolks and whites of eggs, add sugar to beaten yolks, mix well. Add milk and cream, slowly beating. Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into mixture. Let sit in cool place for several days. Taste frequently.
Tip: Today’s recipe makers may want to set the eggnog in the refrigerator as the “cool place” of choice.

4 Fun Facts about the Month of December

December is arguably the most festive month of the year. The holiday season and all the gatherings with family and friends make the final month of the year a busy time. But a peek under the proverbial hood reveals that there’s more to December than the holiday season.

1. Armchair linguists might know that the Latin word “decem” means “ten,” which is a little curious given that December is the twelfth month of the year. So why isn’t December the tenth month of the year? Like other months on the modern calendar, including October and November, December once occupied a different place on the calendar, namely the Julian calendar that was used prior to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar. Back then, December was the tenth month on the calendar. Though its position changed when the Gregorian calendar was adopted, its name remained the same.

2. It’s easy to overlook in a month populated by holidays like Chanukah, Christmas and Kwanzaa, but the winter solstice is a significant day on the calendar as well. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the 2023 winter solstice occurs on December 21 at 10:27 p.m. EST for the northern hemisphere. The winter solstice might not be sun worshippers’ favorite day of the year, as it’s the day with the least amount of sunlight all year long. However, one positive to keep in mind is that, once the winter solstice occurs, each day thereafter experiences a gradual increase in daylight. That should give anyone yet another reason to celebrate in December.

3. December has historically been a month of firsts, particularly for women and politicians. On December 1, 1919, Lady Nancy Astor became the first woman to serve in the British House of Commons. Exactly 69 years later, Benazir Bhutto was nominated for the role of prime minister of Pakistan. Bhutto ultimately became the first woman to be elected as head of a democratic government in a Muslim-majority country. Political firsts in December are not limited to events involving women. A year after Bhutto was nominated, Russia’s Mikhail Gorbachev became the first Soviet Russian leader to visit the Vatican and meet the Pope.

4. January might be the month people most associate with efforts to change their fortunes, but the birthstone of December also is considered a symbol of good fortune. The Farmer’s Almanac notes that one of the birthstones of December is turquoise, which some believe is symbolic of good fortune and success.

 

Celebrity Extra
By Dana Jackson

Q:I recently started watching “General Hospital” again. What happened to Jax? He was my favorite character. — K.A.

A:Actor Ingo Rademacher, who played Jax on and off since 1996, was fired by ABC in 2021 for refusing to adhere to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. His character bid goodbye to Port Charles to conduct business in Sydney and hasn’t been seen since.

Rademacher recently posted on Instagram about his mental health struggles since being fired. So far, no one from “General Hospital” or ABC has asked him to return, but that might be due to the fact that he attempted to sue ABC over its mandate. A Los Angeles judge ended up ruling in favor of ABC.

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Q:Is the original “Law & Order” series returning anytime soon? I’ve always liked it more than the spin-offs, but I miss the original cast. — K.J.

A: “Law & Order” debuted on NBC in the fall of 1990 and lasted a whopping 20 seasons. The late Jerry Orbach is probably the most fondly remembered actor from the show, but he didn’t debut as Detective Lennie Briscoe until the third season. The first season featured Chris Noth, Steven Hill and Michael Moriarty, but these core actors eventually departed the show. It endured two decades with a changing cast, but always had creator Dick Wolf’s input and that signature “dun dun” theme song in the background.

“Law & Order” returned in 2022 after an 11-year hiatus with former cast members Sam Waterston and Anthony Anderson. Jeffrey Donovan (“Burn Notice”), Hugh Dancy (“Hannibal”) and Camryn Manheim (“The Practice”) rounded out the solid cast, but the revolving door kept swinging. Anderson departed after one season, and Mehcad Brooks (“Supergirl”) joined in his place.

“Law & Order” will return with 13 new episodes sometime in 2024, but Donovan won’t be on the set. According to Entertainment Weekly, he has exited due to “creative reasons,” and casting is on the hunt for his replacement.

Be sure to visit NBC.com/law-and-order for more updates about the show as it gets closer to its season 23 premiere.

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Q:Is it true that ‘Big Little Lies” is returning for another season? Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon are such busy actresses. I hope they have the time to film again and that it’s not an all-new cast. — W.S.

A: I agree. Not only are Kidman and Witherspoon busy starring in other films and shows, but they also work behind-the-scenes as producers to help develop other projects. This past January, Kidman joined the cast of “Special Ops: Lioness” on Paramount+, then followed it up with the Netflix series “The Perfect Couple.” She’ll also be seen in Netflix’s “A Family Affair” in 2024.

Witherspoon produces and co-stars in Apple TV+’s “The Morning Show” She’s also set to reprise her iconic character Elle Woods in the upcoming film “Legally Blonde 3.”

As for HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” Kidman recently announced during a press event that they “will be bringing you a third one, just FYI.” Nothing else has officially been announced, but I imagine that Witherspoon, Laura Dern and Zoe Kravitz will be reprising their roles.

Send me your questions at NewCelebrityExtra@gmail.com, or write me at KFWS, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803.

(c) 2023 King Features Synd., Inc.

Couch Theater
By Demi Taveras

“Minions: The Rise of Gru” (PG) — Steve Carell’s grouchy, yet lovable supervillain, Gru, first appeared on the big screen in 2010 during the box-office sensation “Despicable Me.” The film quickly evolved into the highest-grossing animated franchise of all time, and “Minions: The Rise of Gru” was no different than its predecessors, garnering close to $1 billion. Starring Carell as Gru and Pierre Coffin as the minions, the latest film in the franchise takes us back to 1976 where an 11-year-old Gru dreams of becoming a supervillain. But with ambitions as high as Gru’s, he can’t go it alone and will need to find some assistance — specifically in the form of a yellow banana-loving species of creatures. Out now. (Peacock)

“The World to Come” (R) — Winner of the 2020 Queer Lion award at the Venice International Film Festival, this drama film taking place in 1856 New York stars Katherine Waterson (“Fantastic Beasts”) and Vanessa Kirby (“The Crown”) as two respectively married women who feel severe isolation in the farmlands they live in. Both being married to emotionally lacking men, and being devoid of children, the two women start spending their downtime together and find meaningful solace in their shared moments. Eventually, they find that their bond is much deeper than friendship. Waterson and Kirby are an incredible lead duo; their performances as actresses excellently sync up to the profound and poetic dialogue of their characters. Out now. (Hulu)

“Little Richard: I Am Everything” (NR) — Known as the “Architect of Rock and Roll,” Richard Penniman, aka Little Richard, was a pioneer of his genre and lives on as a legend of popular music and culture. This documentary, which features tons of archival footage and interviews with his family and other musicians, dives into his legacy and explores his influence as a Black queer icon. It also touches on how he inspired other artists of his time and the many eras of music yet to come. The film depicts a very nuanced story that centers on the fact that Little Richard “was an omni being who contained multitudes — he was unabashedly everything.” Out now. (Max)

“Elisa & Marcela” (TV-MA) — This Spanish-language biographical film shot entirely in black and white is one of Netflix’s hidden gems and a must-watch for those who enjoy minimalistic, character-driven movies. Inspired by the true story of Elisa Sanchez Loriga and Marcela Gracia Ibeas, the film recounts how a lesbian couple managed to get married in 1901 at the Church of Saint George in A Coruna, Spain. As if told in book chapters, it details how the two women met during their time at school and formed an immediate friendship that progressed into a forbidden romantic relationship. When outside forces threaten to drive them apart, Elisa and Marcela go to great lengths to conceal their relationship, with Elisa even taking the identity of her deceased male cousin. Out now. (Netlfix)

(c) 2023 King Features Synd., Inc.

 

Make a Difference for Children this Holiday Season
This holiday season, you can spread the spirit of meaningful giving and deliver impact for children globally. With crises and emergencies all over the world, make a difference with gifts that give back while showing your loved ones just how much you care.

Handcrafted by talented artisans from all around the world, UNICEF Market is a unique collection of carefully curated gifts ranging from jewelry to apparel, home decor, kitchenware and more. The gifts give back three times over by supporting artisans and helping local economies thrive, assisting vulnerable children in need and making for thoughtful and compassionate gifts for loved ones. By purchasing gifts from the market, individuals can contribute to creating a more equitable world for every child.

Additionally, UNICEF Inspired Gifts provide meaningful opportunities to make a difference by donating important resources in the name of a loved one alongside a personalized print-at-home card or e-greeting. With millions of children on the move, driven from their homes by conflict, poverty and climate change, you can make a donation to provide essential supplies such as blankets, first aid kits, vaccines, lifesaving Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food and more. You can also send warmth to children in need in places where freezing winter temperatures and heavy snowfall are approaching. Your purchase of a “Warm Winter Kit” could provide four fleece blankets and 24 cans of therapeutic milk to provide warmth, safety and lifesaving nutrition.

To help support the organization’s lifesaving mission of protecting every child, consider UNICEF USA’s partners, including Cle de Peau Beaute, Hallmark and Marriott Bonvoy when shopping and traveling this holiday season. For every purchase of Cle de Peau Beaute’s Serum, $3 will be donated to support impactful programs for the education and empowerment of girls around the world; Hallmark’s UNICEF greeting cards and keepsake ornament, which are holiday favorites, can be purchased in store and online to support the world’s most vulnerable children; and Marriott Bonvoy members can donate their points to the organization.

Elevate your gift-giving this year for friends, family and loved ones by making a real impact for children globally. Visit market.unicefusa.org, where you can support efforts to ensure every child is healthy, educated, protected and respected. (Family Features)

8 Smart Ways to Save On Holiday Expenses
While often regarded as the most wonderful time of year, the holiday season is also an expensive spot on the calendar. Even as many families feel the squeeze of inflation and rising costs, there is hope for your budget when it comes to gatherings, gifts, food and beyond.

Consider these tips from the money-saving experts at Slickdeals and Head of Deals Vitaly Pecharsky to avoid overspending without sacrificing your festive spirit.

Stick to a budget. Beyond gifts and stocking stuffers, holiday costs can add up quickly once you factor in travel, decor, pet care, special events and more. Create an all-encompassing budget for the season then break it into segments for each type of expense, including hidden expenses like wrapping paper or extra toiletries for guests, so you don’t end up with an unexpected credit card bill.

Split up food costs. Instead of putting yourself under the pressure of full-time holiday chef (and taking on all the expenses that come with it), consider hosting a potluck-style gathering. Providing the main course and encouraging guests to bring an appetizer, side or dessert is an easy way to avoid a hefty hosting bill. Send an e-vite with a list of must-haves that allows loved ones to sign up for specific dishes to ensure everything is covered without doubling up.

Search for the best deals. Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift from toys to technology or trying to save on travel costs and home decor, make sure you find the best price. Consider a site like Slickdeals, where a community of millions of people work together to save money so you can be confident you’re getting the best deal. With 12 million shoppers assisting others by vetting and voting up the top deals from renowned retailers, your holiday needs are covered without sacrificing quality. You can also set Deal Alerts that send notifications directly to your inbox when a deal that matches your criteria is posted to the site.

Share experiences, not just “things.” Gadgets and gizmos may come to mind when brainstorming holiday gift ideas but remember some family members and friends just want more time together. If you’re considering a special experience for – and with – that special someone, think about their favorite hobbies and activities. Animal lovers may be overjoyed with a day at the local zoo and gearheads would cherish tickets to the next auto show. Integrating experiences into your gifting repertoire often makes for a more memorable (and cheaper) solution.

Take advantage of gift cards. A quick internet search can lead you to discounted gift cards, allowing you to save cash on holiday purchases. Or, for the one on your list who has everything, simply give the card as a gift so he or she can pick out what’s truly needed. As an added bonus, discounted gift cards are typically available even at the last minute so procrastinators can still save.

Show off your DIY skills. Buying new holiday decorations and replacing worn out crafts are seasonal expenses you may not immediately factor into your budget. Rather than heading to the store for (likely overpriced) ornaments and tablescapes, put your creative cap on and repurpose goods from around the house. Reusing items like glass jars to make homemade snow globes, for example, can be a crafty way to save. Plus, it’s a fun activity for family members to enjoy together.

Seek out post-holiday sales. Once the holidays are over, it’s a perfect opportunity to get ahead of the game for next year. Stock up on gift wrap, decorative items and other nonperishables that are often heavily discounted in the new year.

Save throughout the year. A handy tip for holiday seasons to come, try creating a fund each year where you can save up for gifts, food, travel and other end-of-year expenses. Set up a special bank account specifically for holiday savings where you contribute a small amount each month to be financially prepared for the festivities.

Find more ways to save this holiday season by visiting Slickdeals.com. (Family Features)


 

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