End in Sight

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It has been a year and 12 days since I posted “Hunkering Down” as verbatimed 1Can I claim to have coined this verb form? below.
So, with the end in sight, my first thoughts may bear repeating. Well, it’s OK for you to think not, but this is for me. And it’s my blog – so there!
But is the end truly in sight? That depends. If I knew I’d be investing in some kind of futures. My paternal grandfather invested in grain futures in the early 1920s, but that’s a story for another time. Whooops! I’ve started to stray from my intent. Seems to happen often these days.

Hunkering down is hard to do. That’s quite possibly true for our very mobile population but isn’t hunkering down what most writers do? Since most of us cannot, except by choice, avoid the current news, I’ll not mention the current required hunkering down. But didn’t I do just that did I. [I may have been watching too many British crime shows in which many statements by suspects and even detectives are followed by a question.]
It’s OK if “Breaking up is…” comes to your mind! But that could be a generational thought too. Neil Sedaka, The Partridge Family, The Carpenters, Sissel Kyrkjebø, … When I titled this blurb, the song title came to mind almost immediately. However, –I nearly always have a however– the only words in the song that might apply to a writer at his/her task are six lines starting with “Comma, comma.”

It’s difficult to not notice what season it is. I know we hear the sound of conifer branches whipped by the wind, but do weeds in the spring cry out, “Pull me, pull me?” Yep, it’s gardening time again and I’ve decided to get the planting done. As soon as the soil reaches 50 deg. Wonder if the friction of weed roots being extracted will warm it enough? In the past I’ve roto-tilled weeds and all, but the result was even more weeds is because weed seeds seem to enjoy being spread by mechanical means. So, is doing a garden a form of hunkering down? In the context of the current situation, Yes.

Back to writing. Hunker-hunker-hunker. The Sun is out, so I’ll do a little different hunker for a break – hope it’s not my back. And if you weeds have internet access, consider this fair notice.

Last year’s weeds must have had some form of social media access because they spread faster than …. ← insert your own words or thoughts to replace the … 2I couldn’t remember if ellipses was singular or plural, so I just illustrated it/them. The only edible that grew well was acorn squash. We like squash.
Since I titled this post End in Sight, I should perhaps say something about why. If the end to which I speak is a return to what we knew as normal, I believe my sight is limited. Does “yada-yada-yada” need to be cited?
“Oh, how you do carry on,” I say to myself.

My short story rejection of the month is on I, JMB Say I did, however, submit three other shorts in March.


Watch for It

Taking time off from blogging and other short projects has been fruitful. In my last post I said, ”
Remember Jason Finn from Nescient Decoy.” Well, a well started sequel to it was not where I went.
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I drafted a story several years ago but put it into the vault. (Not the one Geraldo Rivera was trying to open years ago.) Seems to me that I mentioned in one of my blogs long before the school experience series that I wanted to finish at least one or more of the books I’d started. That I did.
My initial plan was: as soon as a beta reader gets back to me, I’ll put the process for self-publishing the paperback and Kindle versions into motion.
After some input, and internal reconsiderations, I did some revisions and decided to query a regional publisher. So, if rejected or not responded to, I’ll resume the self-publishing route.

Game Time: A Week in October

The Smelt River flows between the Southwest Washington small towns of Mill Run and East Mill. Football, somewhat like it’s characterized in the book and movie Friday Night Lights, dominates that season in East Mill. But football is not the only game in town.

Expected and unexpected social and political dynamics weave through the school and town during preparation for the annual big game game.

An inside observer and his family make a life changing decision to remove themselves from the games.

Efforts of high school girls seeking highs, finding ways to acquire drugs, and plotting a real party on game night thread through the week. Parents, teachers, coaches, and others play the games of their daily life.

An event involving a senior running back gives a local gambler what he believes to be an advantage. The all-league player is further conflicted when he discovers the infidelity of a role model. With seconds left in the game, he is forced to make a moral, last second performance decision that he knows will win the game or destroy his future.

While the hometown games are being played, a random explosion destroys a secret military operation near the Iraq – Iran border. Two navy seals related to players survive the explosion, make hard decisions about mission security, and give exemplary but expected effort to save their unconscious Gunny.

The simultaneous in-town games are paused by an avoidable tragic event. Survivors, good and bad, move on to other games.

Now could be the time a further develop the aforementioned sequel, or I have more in the vault. But gardening time looms near!


Spring Break

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Any time is a good time to thank my readers. Thanks!
My school experience pile of notes is down to a sheet or two, so I’m taking a personal early spring break from blogging. However, if a thought burning within me is hot enough, I’ll drop one in.
I have several self-imposed deadlines staring me in the face or at least seem to be sneaking up on me. Remember Jason Finn from Nescient Decoy?


Impression Sketch

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Several times in my career I needed a substitute.
A good report from a sub makes a teacher feel good about his/her students.

I had been invited to make a presentation of an article I had published at a National Vocational Association conference in Los Angeles . I would be gone three school days, so I worked up two sets of very specific lesson plans. One set was for a sub who had training in math and electronics, the other was for a ‘generic’ sub.

The conference was informative, and I felt good about my presentation. I arrived home on Saturday evening and had most of Sunday to be in recovery from travel and unfamiliar food. I went to school a little early to check on turned in papers and determine what was accomplished by my sub.

My first day sub was a math and science teacher before retiring. He followed my technical lessons and reported good student response. The second/third day sub was as not technical as one could get, but I’ll say no more about that. Her report was one no teacher would like to get. I’m sure the students, girls and boys alike, were not the satanic beasts she described. Never-the-less, had to assume their behavior was not what I would expect.

I usually greeted at least two or three as they filed in first period, but I stood behind my desk with arms crossed as they came in. My body language would tell the least observant of them what I thought of their behavior.
My lecture was to confirm my body language controlled by my thoughts. I didn’t point out individuals as did the sub notes; I knew each would know his or her role in the inappropriateness of their behavior.

I gave the same basic lecture to each class. I don’t remember which class Jeremy Newman1his real name was in, but he gave me his impression of my mood with this sketch.John Morris Benson sketch I still have it in a frame these 34 years later.

At least two more times in 1987, I needed a sub, but I don’t believe I had the depicted expression again.


Court Order

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Many students are memorable for the wrong reasons.
This experience was started with a juvenile judge’s decision.

The same spring quarter Marl Boromann was in my first period class I had a student in sixth period nearly everyone had been calling Tom Miegunn. Like Marl, he entered the first day of the quarter, so I didn’t know him.

Real Name had all the stereotype behaviors of a loner. He sat in the desk farthest from mine and it didn’t matter to me – I had no seating chart. However, the first behavior of the other students was their not talking to him and filling up desks away from him. My first suspicion was BO, but that was not so.

After everyone had left for the day, I saw the book and orientation papers I had given him still under the desk. I figured his being new and not having conversations with other students, he wanted to just get away. I put his name on a sticky note and put the book and papers next to the student assignment in box.

My surprise was when Real put a book assignment in the drop box when he came in. Another student was turning in an admit after absence ticket so my only words to him were, “Your book is there,” as I pointed. He took it to the back desk. Other students’ reactions were the same as the day before. I made a mental note to get acquainted with him before the dismissal bell rang.

I gave my lesson for the day, answered student questions, and assigned a set of problems from the book. Most students took advantage of the remaining class time to work on the assignment, some did work for other classes, and Real just sat. I had it in mind to talk with him, but as the squeaky wheel gets the grease, I was answering a flurry of questions from students working on the assignment. All but a few squeaky wheels left as did Real. His book was on the desk.

He was tardy with an admit as excused slip from the attendance office and the Wednesday routine was much as the previous two. On the way to the Wednesday afternoon staff meeting, I had a grade transfer slip from Real’s 3rd quarter teacher. I had thought he was new to the school but put the new information aside as a lost in the shuffle.

At the end of the routine meeting, Real’s teachers were asked to stay behind. “As you know,” the principal started, “Real Name has been attending here under juvenile court order.”

I was in the 10% who didn’t get the word. Well, 17% because he had 6 teachers during the day.

The principal continued with what had been reported to the judge in order to have the student tutored at the juvenile detention facility. Having had him only a few days in class, I hadn’t been involved in the behavior documenting process. Both students and teachers were intimidated with knowledge of what he was capable of doing. A number of students were actually doing his homework as a favor under covert pressure.

The Tom Miegunn pseudonym I had not attached to Real Name in my class came from his firing an automatic rifle at his former girlfriend’s home in a neighboring town.

The judge changed his order to 24/7 incarceration for Real Name and a retired teacher was hired to tutor at the juvenile facility.


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