So playing the trombone wasn't getting me in enough trouble?
I need someplace to write down the often confusing thoughts that enter my mind, while my stories give voice to the characters that wander through periodically, this is the place for my voice. Join me if you wish, comment if you wish, all are welcomed and appreciated.|
Currently, I am participating in the April 5 - 9 — Five days of mysterious things and places to inspire your creativity and imaginations! Blog Challenge over at "Andre The Blog Monkey's Banana Bar" , there is still time to join us!
|Alrighty Then ... Here I am in quarantine.
Strangely enough, I made it all this way through the Covid mess without a problem. Then, after getting both doses of the vaccine and feeling a little safer I encountered one!
Our state education department has mandated that All Personal, Staff, Faculty, and Students must wear a mask while not in a private setting, while not maintaining a six-foot separation or while in any public space within the buildings or grounds.
A young lady, guided by her vehemently "anti-masker" father, repeatedly is cited for mask violations, refusing to wear her mask. Eventually, these violations pile up and she is suspended from school. As part of that process, she is entitled to a Superintendent's Hearing, which is usually never with the Superintendent but rather with a member of the school's "administrative team".
As a "loyal team member" I usually end up doing about four of these hearings per school year. Usually, the hearings are pretty cut and dried.
"Were you smoking on school grounds?"
"Yes, but it wasn't tobacco, it was —
Inturrupting, so I don't hear what I don't want to hear, "That's it then, your three-day suspension stands, stop smoking on school property!"
Like I said pretty cut and dried, normally a twenty-minute process, that interrupts my coffee break.
Not This Time!
I did quite a bit of "prep", rereading the State and CDC guidelines (which change daily), copying all of the guidelines, and preparing them in "presentation format". I even went so far as to seek out guidance from the school's attorneys, who provided citations involving the right of the CDC, State and, Schools to impose standards for public safety.
It went as I expected, the father insisted on his daughter's right to not wear a mask, (by the way, he wore a mask to gain entry to the hearing) despite the facts and legal citations put before him. Bear in mind he made no attempt to claim a medical or other exemption.
When asked if his daughter would wear a mask if allowed to return to school (I was actually prepared to "commute" the suspension), he answered, "No Way In Hell".
Given no choice, and his insistence that she would not wear a mask I informed him, that his daughter would not be allowed to return to school and that she was now a distance-only learner until the mask requirements were changed. I did expunge the suspension, there's no reason the kid should suffer the sins of the parent.
After some shouting, threats, and other unsettling behavior, the gentlemen and his daughter left.
I dropped off the paperwork and spent about twenty minutes explaining myself to an Assistant Superintendent, who felt I should have left the suspension in place, but otherwise supported my decision before heading out to my car.
It was then, just I as stepped into the fresh air and was removing my mask that the girl's father approached me and coughed several times in my face. He was closed enough that I could feel his spittle hitting me. Unfortunately for him, it was all caught on camera.
Our intrepid security force responded quickly enough to get his plate number, he was pulled over and taken into custody (in front of his daughter) and is being charged with some form of assault.
He was forced to get a Covid test, his results were positive, as were his daughter's and wife's.
Hence, thank you, I have been placed in "precautionary quarantine". So far my tests have been negative, but the school wants me out for ten days, so here I sit.
All murders are heinous crimes. The taking of another’s life is inexcusable, except in very specific circumstances and even those I would struggle with. Even given those events and conditions that might excuse it, the loss of life still saddens me.
There’s no way to sugarcoat or lessen the horror of The Sims Family Murders, some depraved individual killed two adults in cold blood, making matters worse, that same mad man killed and possibly molested a twelve-year-old child.
The murders weren’t a crime of passion, which while no more acceptable is at least somewhat understandable. A philandering pastor, who was the first likely suspect, was eliminated at the time of the murders, was attending a football game. His attendance noted by witnesses and videotaped. It wasn’t a botched robbery. Money was left behind in plain sight, and nothing of value was missing.
Perhaps that’s what I find most saddening and maddening about this crime—a lack of apparent motive.
Two other suspects — Mary Charles LaJoie, a death-obsessed teenager, and her boyfriend, Vernon Fox Jr., who had been spotted peeping on the child a week before the murders, haven’t been in any other way connected to the crime. A possible motive, Fox was peeping once again, got caught, and killed everyone to avoid punishment. Lajoie later implicated Fox, but her account was discounted, mainly due to her past criminal history and the fact that she seemed to be seeking the offered reward.
Death saddens me; needless death that much more so. The death of an innocent child both saddens and angers me. The fact that this crime has gone unsolved and there has been no justice for these victims, and their survivors is unfathomable.
You’re going to have to excuse me today. This prompt, coming on the heels of the horror perpetrated in South Carolina this week, has taken me down a very dreary path. I left the building for lunch today, and there was a double Jameson’s involved.
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“Wood-Sprites.” With a wink and a nod, the Leprechaun was confident that his gift of blarney would carry the day.
Pub Bunny started to say, “bless you.” He stopped; he wasn’t falling for that Trix again. Nope, he wasn’t a Silly Rabbit! He did have an answer to the question, though. “Those are Bunny Hotels, built for the Great Easter Bunny Contraption of 1933!”
Anon-Y-Monkey looked puzzled. “Contraption? Oh! You mean Contraction, the great Easter Bunny Contraction of 1933.”
“Contraption – contraction, what fuzzy ears is talking about is a Convention, The Great Easter Bunny CONVENTION of 1933. ‘Twas a miff – myth anyway, never happened!” Grumpy eyed his daiquiri glass, frowning at the fact that it was once again empty. He looked around suspiciously for the Imps that had to be stealing sips of his banana-flavored concoction.
“Well, Grumpy is right —
“Aye.” Interrupting Anon-Y-Monkey, Grumpy added. “Wood-Sprites!”
— no, it wasn’t Wood-Sprites. Do you see any trees there, imp? Nope, those urns are Ninja Monkey Hidy Holes! Pointing at himself. “We Ninja Monkeys hide stuff in them so that we can find it later.”
“Gold?” Asked a newly alert Leprechaun.
“Sasparilla?” Queried the perky Bunny.
“No, nothing like that.” Impatiently, Anon-Y-Monkey continued. “We hide trinkets, Merit Badges, and other goodies to give away as prizes.”
“Give Away!” Miffed at the loss of profit. “Are ye sayin’ give away — for Free?
“Well Yeah! —
Pete, the Pastry Chef from the Ninja Monkey Pastry Shop, interrupted Anon-Y- Monkey. “That’s not what they are at all —
“— Oh yeah! Mister Know It All Pastry Chef, then what are they?
— those are the next set of giant mixing bowls I ordered for next March’s Banana Cream Pie Festival!”
Andre looked over from the bar. “You’re all idjits, as the idjit Leprechaun would say. And you’re all wrong.”
Clamoring all at once; “Oh Yeah?” “Those are fighting words.” “What makes you the expert? “What’s an idjit?”
Andre answered them in turn, “Anon-Y-Monkey, we may be related, but sometimes I wonder about you. As for you ya’ blarney spoutin’ imp, anytime ya’ wanna’ take this outside, I’m gamey. What makes me the expert, Pete? Ask yourself this; Who owns the bar?” Andre just looked at Pubby and shook his head in wonder.
Pub Bunny took that as his cue. “So what are they then, Andre?”
“Simple.” With a smirk. It’s the setup for a giant game of Rum Pong! Now, all of ya’s shut up so I can get drunk in peace.
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The three sisters Imilia, Zilia, and Kamilia drifted lazily just offshore of the strange new beacon that “the men” had erected. More precisely, they gazed longingly at the three men who were left behind. Handsome and sturdy, the men caught the fancy of the three women, stirring their yet untested passions.
Imila, the oldest, spoke impatiently, “They’re so close, and we still can’t reach them —” With a look of dismay directed at the youngest. “— and because Father insists on our being betrothed together Kamilia, I have had to wait longer than I should already!”
Zilia, the middle child and always the peacekeeper, spoke softly, “we know Imilia, and we thank you for waiting until we all reached our age, but now we’re all ready.” Turning over onto her tummy in the water, her thoughts filled the heads of the other silently, “we need to find Father and convince him it’s time!”
Imila and Kamilia raced after Zilia, one last glimpse of their magnificent forked tails flashing in the sunlight as the three sisters dove into the briny depths, each silently but insistently calling for their Father.
Nartine was resting comfortably on a shallow sandbar, having enjoyed a midday repast of tuna and kelp. His rest turned to alarm, the voices of all three daughters clamoring into his head at once. With powerful strokes of his tail, he launched his muscular body off the bar, swimming as fast as he could to find them.
“Father, over here,” all three young voices tinged with franticness, “we need you — Hurry!.
What!?!” He answered, thoughts filled with worry and concern. “Is something chasing you? I don’t see anything. Where is the danger?”
Kamila giggled as Imilia answered, there’s no danger Father. Then adding firmly, “we’ve found Husbands, and we need you to help us!”
“HUSBANDS!”, his thoughts thundering in their heads, “What Foolishness Is This?” You interrupt my noonday meal and slumber for — THIS — FOOLISHNESS!”
Zilia answered softly, “it isn’t foolishness, Father, Imilia has waited patiently and Kamilia is of her age now —”
“— “and we’ve found the perfect husbands.” Imilia finished impatiently.
“Perfect Husba” —
“Yes Father” chimed in Kamilia, “handsome, strong and oh so close to the sea already!
“nds?” The little one’s eagerness reminding him how much he loved all his daughters. Nartine asked, “and where are these Perfect Husbands children?” Even though his daughters were fully grown, it was hard to acknowledge that they were right, it was time for their marriage.
Sheepishly, knowing what they asked, it was left to Zilia to answer. “Our husbands wait for us at the Mans New Beacon —”
“The Beacon,” snorted Nartine, “you wish to steal your husbands from the shore!?!”
As one, they answered “oh yes, Father!”
His heart softened as he looked at the fervor in their eyes. “Then so be it, you shall have your husbands from the world of man.”
That night a great storm arose, sending wave after wave crashing into the island upon which man had built his beacon of light. So great was the waves that two of the men decided to check the equipment the kept at the water’s edge to be sure it was safe. As James and Thomas pushed through the door into the storm, Donald called after them. “Be careful; the waves are enormous, better to lose equipment, than lose yourselves.”
The wind swallowed Thomas’s reply. “Aye, but I’ll not be losing another five shillings if I can keep it.”
At seas edge, they struggled to secure the rescue equipment, wary of the sweeping waves. They retreated as each dangerous mountain of water threatened to drag them into the dark depths. They could hardly believe their eyes as three beauties emerged from the waves, resplendent in their natural state of nature. At first, the women walked haltingly, as if unfamiliar with the concept of legs. Their gait became steadier and more confident as they approached the men.
For their part, the men were bewildered by the women’s appearance. “Here now, was there a shipwreck ...?” Asked James.
“And how did you swim out of this storm ...?”
Neither man finished their words, Imilia and Zilia had wrapped them in surprisingly warm embraces, kissing them deeply, completing their enthrallment.
Kamilia, her voice shaky with disappointment, asked, “where is the other husband?”
Without hesitation, deeply in Zilia’s control, James pointed up the pathway to the Beacons house, saying simply “there.”
The sight of the naked beauty before him caused Donald to upend his chair. “What in the heavens did yo … ?
His words went unfinished as Kamilia took him into her loving embrace, completing the enthrallment of the three sons of man.
Together again at seas edge, the women began leading the men into the waves. The men’s minds panicked at first, but they were powerless to resist. Finally, a wave crashed over them, dragging them out with its powerful undertow. Deeper and deeper the water covered them. But they weren’t drowning, as the water deepened and the storm’s effects on the sea beneath lessened, a sense of peace and safety filled their minds — a sense of home and love. The voices of the girls found them, laughter and joy in their thoughts. The men were amazed as their “captors” grew powerful flukes, swimming circles around the men as they floated in the calming depths. More amazement as the men felt their clothing tear free of their bodies — their own powerful tails growing; they joined the women frolicking and playing. They played together for some time before finally seeking a place to celebrate their first nights of wedded bliss alone.
Nartine smiled. He could sense the contentment of his daughters even at this long-distance; soon he knew, he’d be shepherding other little ones through the sea. Life Was Grand!
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Additional Authors Note ▼
...I'm only the trombone player!
The subject of lore and mystery of the abandoned ship, Mary Celeste has spawned numerous theories regarding the demise of its crew and passengers.
Theories involving aliens, sea monsters, pirates, homicidal crew members, and criminal conspiracies have all been advanced and dismissed. Based on investigative evidence or sheer lack of believability, most of those theories are unsupportable.
Aliens? While impossible to disprove, is most unlikely. If aliens were abducting ships crews, why wasn’t the “abandonment phenomena” more prevalent?
Sea Monsters? First, though described as a “waterlogged mess,” there was no real damage. Was it a very careful, polite sea monster? Second, in the face of a sea monster attack, why would Briggs, the ships Master abandon the larger Mary Celeste for the much smaller, more vulnerable lifeboat?
Pirates? Easily dismissed. No cargo was missing, and the ship was found abandoned. Why would the pirates attack, take the vessel only to abandon it themselves? What profit was gained?
The “homicidal crew” theory was based on two crew members, brothers Volkert and Boye Lorenzen, for whom little or no possessions were found left behind. Further investigation finds that the two joined the ship shortly after another shipwreck. Simply, they had no possessions.
The criminal conspiracy theory revolves around a plot by the ships Master and crew to claim the prize money from the salvage rights from the abandoned vessel. The difficulty with this theory is multifold; While Master Briggs’ wife and daughter were with him aboard the Mary Celeste, his son had remained behind to attend school. Did Briggs orphan his oldest child for profit? Added to the unlikelihood, in all ten people would have to cease to exist and change identities, not likely when one factors in that seven of them were ordinary seamen.
Then, of course, there are the facts omitted from many accounts supporting these theories; The Mary Celeste had three and a half feet of water in its hold, having sailed through extremely rough weather during its passage. The pump used to remove that water was disassembled, indicating it had somehow failed and needed repair. One of the ships navigation devices, the chronometer, was inaccurate and the location of the ship may not have been true.
With the pump not functioning, no way to tell how much water filled the hold, Briggs may have decided to abandon the ship, heading for what he thought was the safety of land. But what if the land wasn’t where he believed it to be?
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“Are ye daft ya’ silly rabbit?”
Pub Bunny was shocked by the Grumpy Leprechaun’s attempt to trick him, “I’m a Bunny, not a rabbit!” His ears twitched in annoyance.
“Bunny — rabbit, what’s the hoppin’ difference?” Pointing at the twitching ears, “ye got long, floppy ears and big hoppy feet, don’t ya?”
“A Bunny is a hare of a different color!” The regular rolling of his eyes stopped as he focused on the Leprechaun, “and I’m serious! How did all those trees get all bendy and curvy in that forest in Pole-Land?”
“Pole-Land!?! What in the Land o’ Blarney are ye — Oh, you’re prattlin’ on about The Crooked Forest in West Pomerania, Poland aren’t ye now?”
“Sorry.” Looking quite sheepish for a Bunny. “I thought Andre said Pole-Land.”
“Aye!” Nodding in partial agreement. “Well, if Andre had been in his cups at the time, I ken understand a wee bit o’ befuddlement — or in your case Bunny, more befuddlement than usual!” Pub Bunny nodded in agreement before frowning a bit.
“Wood-Sprites,” exclaimed the Leprechaun loudly!
“No Ya floppy-eared idjit, ‘twas Wood-Sprites that bent the trees all askew —
“No, I’m asking you.” Cute Bunny eyes starting to roll in confusion again.
Grumpy took a pass at Pubbies easy straight line; the last thing he wanted to do was get into an Abbot and Costello routine. “It was a convention of the Grand Council of Wood-Sprites, back in the mid-1930s. They had selected Poland that year because humans were about to threaten the forests they protected.”
“A Convention!?! Is that like an invention?”
“Ehh what? No, blast ya fuzzy little ears, that’s a contraption, now stop inte’rup’tin’ me!”
Pubby touched his ears, and they were indeed fuzzy, so he let that slide.
“Now, where was I? Ah, yeah — The Grand Council of Wood-Sprite’s Convention of 1933! Well, it seemed like a well-planned event until all four hundred or so of the delegates showed up. ‘Twas then they discovered that not a soul had brought a chair, stool, or nary a bloomin’ bench!”
Looking excited, Pubby interjected, “they had no place to sit!”
“Aye”, patting Pubby on the head, “no place to park their — assets, so to speak.”
“So what did they do?”
“The Wood-Sprites did what Wood-Sprites do best; they used the trees of the forest to solve their dilemma. In a stand of newly planted pines, they created seating for four hundred —
Looking suspicious or at least as dubious as someone loopy on sasparilla can look. “Are you sure that’s what happened?”
Grumpy raised his left hand, — “I swear it on me Pot o’ Gold”!
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...I'm only the trombone player!
|I really liked the idea of "The Trinket of the Day", so apparently did the Grumpy Leprechaun, Pub Bunny, and Anon-Y-Monkey.
They all were quite happy with them until I presented the bill for the projected cost, which apparently they hadn't thought about; A full month of trinkets comes out to be a bit over 1.5 million Bananas. That price tag gave even Anon-Y-Monkey pause, made Pub Bunny ask if there would still be enough to keep him stock in sasparilla and the Grumpy Leprechaun just fainted in shock.
Once I got everybody calm and alert again I made the following proposal, which was accepted unanimously;
Starting in April, my three bosses will choose two "Observed Days" per week out of a sasparilla mug. Once the scuffle is over and the dust settles, whichever Day floats to the surface, I will create Trinkets for.
One Trinket will be purely informational, though I have been informed that it should make Anon-Y-Monkey chatter, Pub Bunny snort sasparilla, and Grumpy Leprechaun smile. (Like that will ever happen).
The second Trinket will feature a small challenge or contest, with prizes, fanfares, and marching bands. (I threw the last two in to shut them up.)
In late-breaking news, another of my Monkey Bosses, Andre from "Andre The Blog Monkey's Banana Bar" phoned to make sure that this agreement would not affect his future Trinket orders — it will not, but his trinkets are only available in the bar!
Of course, I reserve the right to continue Trinketeering at random when the mood takes me. So the "Only In NY State Series," Holidays, and whatever else the three stooges or Andre dream up will continue to pop up unexpectedly.
And You Can't Stop Me!
(Well, The StoryMaster or The StoryMistress could, but I'll try to stay on their good side!)
|And the note would like me to let you know that it is alive and well, living in the key of C#.
First, a little Sound of Music to set the mood;
Now that that earworm has been firmly planted in your mind — the reason I started there is what musicians call SCALES or as Maria sang; "Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do"
Actually, this is one type of scale musicians use, this is called a Major Scale. There are others like the sadder Minor Scale, but for our brief journey into Music Theory, we can stick to the Happier Major Scale.
Here's an octave (8 notes) worth of a piano keyboard;
As you can see each key has its name printed on it from the note C to the repeat of C eight notes higher.
The keys are white and black, for now, ignore the black keys, we'll get to them later.
If you played only the white keys, starting on the first C all the way up to the last C you would play a Major Scale in the Key of C.
Another way to think of it;
C = Do, D = Re, E = Mi, F = Fa, G = Sol, A = La, B = Ti, "Which will bring us back to ... " C = Do"
So there's your Major Scale, which is always named after the note it starts on!
Now take a look at the Black keys — they all have two names.
For example, the Black key between White Keys C and D is named either C Sharp or D Flat.
Back to the keyboard;
The music interval between every key on the keyboard is a musical Half step – again in other words C to C sharp is a Half step, C sharp to D is another Half step – C to D is a Whole Step.
The Whole Step/Half Step relationship is important, it's how we build Scales in other Keys Besides the Key of C.
A Major Scale Will Alway Follow This Pattern;
Whole Step - C to D, Whole Step - D to E, Half Step - E to F, Whole Step - F to G, Whole Step -G to A , Whole Step -A to B, Half Step - B to C
The half steps in the C Major occur naturally from E to F and B to C, for other scales we have to "force the issue" by using the Black Keys.
An example for the Key of F Major; (If you are a "Bread" fan, this is the Key that their love song "If" is in)
Whole Step - F to G, Whole Step - G to A, Half Step - A to B Flat*, Whole Step - B flat to C, Whole Step - C to D, Whole Step - D to E, Half Step - E to F
*You can't have A to A sharp in an F Major Scale, The Rule Is TO NEVER Repeat A Note Name!
Now take a look at this Keyboard; (A bit tricky it doesn't end on the higher C like before)
You will notice that now even some of the White Keys have two names (a notes multiple names is called "Enharmonics" in the language musicians speak)
We are going to build a C Sharp Scale; To expedite this # = sharp and b = Flat
Whole Step - C# to D#, Whole Step - D# to E#, Half Step E# To F#, Whole Step - F# to G#, Whole Step G# to A#, Whole Step - A# to B#*, Half Step - B# to C#*
*Remember that rule about not being able to repeat note names!
And Yes I have seen and played music in the Key of C# — because of vocal range requirements both in operatic and broadway show tune settings. And Yes it's nasty, often because both employ something called chromatic harmony that makes it even trickier by introducing DOUBLE SHARPS — a horror tale for another day.
PROMPT – 1/2/2021 – January 2nd, 2020 is finally in the rear view mirror... what’s ahead for you in 2021?
Having already discussed what amounts to being the Biggest Upcoming Event in 2021, my pending retirement, and all the eager trepidation surrounding it. I really don't want to belabor it further.
There is a unique thing connected to my work as a music teacher, that I will touch on.
While one year ended, 2020 to be precise, that in reality marked the mid-point in my own timekeeping ritual. School round these parts ends in June. That brings finals, graduations, fair-wells, and new beginnings.
My "year" has for the last twenty or so years been wrapped around the July to June axis of the school year. So in many ways, my year hasn't changed yet.
Pointing back up to that opening paragraph, get back to me next September, when the "new reality" sets in!
PROMPT – January 1st. 2021 – What’s something GOOD that happened in 2020?
For many 2020 was a complete bust, a year to forget or at least try to forget. Sorrow and loss touched many and won't quickly be forgotten.
With that said, I must count myself amongst the lucky ones. those whose lives, while inconvenienced, weren't in some part injured by the horrific toll 2020 took on others. A backdoor "good thing", and one I wish I could share!
Some Good Stuff?
This year made me cook more at home. Don't get me wrong, I love to cook, it relaxes me, settling my day with its routine and normalcy. But, TIME, there wasn't always time, this year there was plenty of time. Why was cooking at home a good thing? Being older, and having not been a good boy in my youth I developed Type 2 diabetes, which with the help of my doctor I have wrestled into control. But with help from others (thanks for the book recommendation 🌸 pwheeler ~ love joy peace ) AND especially getting away from the convenience of "take-out" I now have it under even more control. Further, over the course of two doctor visits, I managed to shed 6 pounds, a very good thing!
In November of 2019, I discovered Writing.Com, it wasn't really until 2020 that I was able to really dig into and discover the nuances of the site. Still exploring, still learning, and hopefully, not making too much of a pest of myself!
I've also noticed that many people have become more aware of each other. Nods, hellos, and just a bit more kindness. That's a good thing I hope LASTS!
All in all, it wasn't the worst possible year for me, I feel other peoples hurt and sorrow, and hope for an easing in the coming years.
...I'm only the trombone player!