He is in a state park in Glendo, Wyoming chasing his sixth total solar eclipse and to say he is energized by this event is a massive understatement. Joe's email address begins with "Starman" and he writes a blog "Starman Astrology Update" which details astrological events and how planetary patterns influence our lives. (See his link at the end of this post.) He offers individualized astrological consultations using birth charts. His brand new first grandchild, Logan, will refer to Joe with this moniker - Grandpop Starman. My brother's unofficial nom de plume - Mr. Max - sums up his approach to doing anything - always to the maximum degree. He can be exhausting.
Joe has been star struck for most of his life. At five years old he received a telescope for Christmas and his love of astronomy was lit. Astrology followed with bottomless enthusiasm for understanding the relationship that the star/planetary movements have on our lives from our birth. I admit I understand little of when the moon is in the seventh house or the intricacies of Mercury Retrograde, but I admire the passion with which Joe follows the wider, wondrous universe in which we float along. The airless maw of space is where he gets the greatest oxygen. It's his heartbeat - his avocation.
I am the youngest of four siblings and my two brothers are closest to me in age. I figured out early on in life to use whatever means necessary to attach myself to all of their shenanigans because that was the epicenter of fun. They tolerated, taunted, and spoiled me equally. They taught me how to dance, let me play with their army and Matchbox toys, took me to play nickel pinball in Atlantic City's old Funcade on the boardwalk, and introduced love for music into my life when the 1960's exploded with it.
Whether or not it has been wholly true, I have always felt they see a large part of their sibling roles to be in service to their little sister - me.
When Joe took off for college he was a reliable pen pal. He understood how sad I was to see him leave home. Each letter he wrote to me included a couple of one dollar bills. That gesture made such a deep imprint into my 12 year old brain. Brothers were the guys who would always take care of you regardless if they lived at home or away.
After he was married for several years, I made it clear as often as possible that I was growing impatient to become an aunt for the first time. Ever the teaser, Joe would call me a pismire - an ant. Of course I had to look up the word and hated its existence. My "aunt" wish was eventually granted with the arrival of Beth and Catie, two magnificent nieces.
Joe's well earned and somewhat predictable life as a husband, father and CPA was punctuated by his love of photography, travel, growing succulent plants, along with stargazing, chasing planetary events, meteor showers, and any other space related happenings which always seemed to take place in the godforsaken hours of the night instead of the more civilized pre-midnight hours! He has consistently been undaunted by the energy and planning it takes to maximize seeing some celestial wonder.
He eventually left his marriage and life as a CPA to follow his star filled heart's desire and after several years of living elsewhere in the US and in Australia he moved to Hawaii 17 years ago. My brother Vincent was first to move to the island of Maui in 1978, so seeing Joe follow to the Big Island in 2000 confused and confounded me. It caused a protracted riff in our relationship because I was profoundly sad for my nieces and for my family. Most of all, I felt abandoned even though I had a family of my own. Our sibling relationship seemed cheated.
|Sibling Selfie 2014 - Joe, Vincent and me|
We have been texting and chatting wildly as he joins the throngs within the path of totality in the western US. Early this AM he called to say he had crossed into Wyoming's path of totality with clear skies. He shared his sunrise on this moon shadow day. The state's population size is expected to double for the 2-1/2 minute show. I truly could not be happier for him.
In a lovely twist of fate, his daughters, Beth (who is visiting from her home in Oahu), Catie and grandson, Logan are spending "partial eclipse" day with me and my daughter, Ali in the Philly suburbs. Regardless of what the weather conditions are here, we are content knowing the star man is gazing in the path of totality. For those few precious minutes, all is right with the sun, moon, and stars and, of course, with Mr. Max.
Here is the link to Joe's blog:
(Thanks to Joe for use of his blog photos -little sister privilege is alive and well!)