Decrease Your Grocery Bill by 30%

[ Part 5 (awai method program) “The Power of One Idea” 

– Mock Blog Post (topic: thriftier home cooking) ] 

     In today’s fast-paced world, workers get to work on time and perform the best they can. This often means time management, for men, women, parents, and young adults. More efficient life habits mean more rest and a more productive life. 

   And when the bills come in and we pay them, what is there left? If there is close to nothing (or worse), then there are those reasons people more attentively pay attention to a stricter budget. We all attempt to minimize our costs or ‘extra’ spending. We think, “If I buy this thing, I will be a happier person.” It works well for many items, such as a new art set. One notion that people consider all the time, as we eat, is cooking vs. eating out and what to choose between the two. 

   It takes time to cook, and eating out may taste better or be less healthy. The time to cook at home is commonly minimized with more than one method. Of course, a frozen TV dinner, healthy or not, takes less time than the preparation of a more traditional meal, yet often costs about 110% more, depending, and may not have the same quality of meat or produce. 

   So, how can we find a go-between? 

Homemade TV dinners. 

   [note – One thing to do is to live off what you already have as you ease these notions into your dietary habits.] 

   Bulk purchases are (almost always) less per amount of food. 3lb of meat may cost five dollars, when twelve might cost fourteen. The difference is there. Buy a larger amount of meat, vegetables, a starch, and a cheese. How a creamy sauce is prepared, gravy, cheese, etc., affects your goals with minimizing costs. You want your frozen dishes to be very tasty, even if they were re-heated. 

[One dinner = a meat, a vegetable, a starch, optional gravy, sauce, or other ingredients. 

Example = Plate of (powdered) mashed potatoes, handful of lettuce, stir-fried beef, brown gravy, cheddar.] 

   Cook these ‘bulk’ items in portions, as if you were going to feed eight people in a sitting, then seal and freeze the meals. (This is a ‘per person’ technique, and ‘can’ work for couples and even families). It costs less, and reheating a frozen meal becomes easy and time-efficient with practice. Variations and combinations are endless. Fish or beef or chicken for a meat; potatoes or noodles or toast (etc.) for starch; a head of lettuce, cans of green beans/corn/carrots for the vegetable, gravy or cheese sauce or other soup-like sauce to make it ‘tasty-est.’ 

   It may cost depending on how many times you buy enough to make 6-12 dinners to freeze, yet before you eat all of one of your top three combinations, make those and one or two more. It sounds like a larger amount; in the long run (five-week time frame) it is much less. With at least four main kinds of frozen dinners, about five apiece, one can vary their diet, easily, and still ‘want’ to eat what they prepared. It is not hard to rival restaurant dishes. You can. 

   Fish, then beef, then chicken, then beef, chicken, then fish. The main ingredient being a meat, four or five frozen kinds of dinners can make for a new dish, even if one you’ve tried and liked before, every day. Your freezer may be full, yet you can rotate it. And, always remember that this is a bare necessity approach to better living, your efforts are void if you buy anything extra that you might not need or that may go bad. Though, so long as you eat it, it is not a total waste. With practice, this technique can become its most beneficial, reward-wise. You can retain a 1900+ calorie daily diet by eating one or two of these frozen dishes a day, and it will save you tons of money, especially over the course of a year. Know of an expensive plate in a restaurant? Cook eight of them and freeze them*. Your e-bill will look like a less ferocious monster. 😊 

*For instance, a great alfredo chicken pasta plate, so huge it would be hard for one person to eat it, may run 17$ at a nice restaurant (it wouldn’t even include a vegetable). Three of those would total 51$. How much chicken pasta do you think you can cook for 50$? You could still spend 10% of your savings on frozen vegetables. 🙂

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Her Majesty’s Dragons

Young Lilia held well her mother’s hand as they briskly walked down a sidewalk. The streets of the city were commonly busy with late afternoon traffic; her mother was in a hurry to get to the corner to call a cab, about half a block away. Lilia could keep up with her mother’s stride, yet it certainly took effort for even an energetic seven-year-old.

Looking to her left, Lilia noticed a small pet store with an adorable chocolate lab puppy in the window. Said Lilia, “Mommy!”

“Yes, dear?”

“I want that puppy.”

“No.”

“Why?”

“I will explain in a minute.”

They were both short on breath due to their hurry and made it to the corner moments before four pm, where a few taxi cabs showed up before the turn of the hour, usually. As expected, four yellow taxis pulled up to the curb. Lilia and her mother, Maybell, easily waved to the first one and were able to get into the vehicle.

“Why cannot I have a puppy dog?” asked Lilia, a prodigy. Maybell knew full well of, well mostly of, Lilia’s level of intelligence. The caring mother took a deep breath and exhaled and mentioned to the driver, calmly, their address. Lilia and her father and mother lived about halfway across town in a nice townhouse, stacked in a row with seven more, like a mixture of apartments and houses. Their backyard, which resembled a nice park with ponds and sidewalks, was their neighbors’, too, and their front yard consisted of a wide sidewalk and the street.

“Your father is helping pay bills as a janitor for the university, while he continues his studies. Even though I graduated with my college degree last year, I have only been able to substitute teach during this time while I look for a fulltime teaching position, as you know. The rules where we live require a pet fee for any pet, which amounts to a seventh of what your father and I are barely able to come up with every four weeks, for now. A pet is a large responsibility, even if I think of you as responsible for your age. The money is the main factor; I won’t mind if you discuss this issue with your father. Your birthday is in about six months, we may reconsider, then.”

“I have twelve dollars in allowance money; he cost four.”

“His food would cost; there is the pet fee. It was not easy for me to tell you ‘No’ on this one; it is the best decision, for now.”

The taxi driver was attentive. He listened, stayed silent. About four turns of eight had passed – he was an excellent, caring driver. Lilia was deep in thought, for two turns. A very small part of her mother feared her. Though tiny, it was there. After thinking of how adorable the little puppy was, Lilia broke the silence with a surprising statement.

“I want a pet dragon.”

At this, the driver politely chuckled.

“Dragons, other than the small biological lizards on television, are not real, dear. What even gave you that idea?”

“One of dad’s books that says ‘Tor Books’ on it.”

“You read one of your father’s books?”

“I should have asked, my apologies. I have only been reading about ten pages a night, and I always put it back.”

“You should be more honest.”

“I promise I will. I read one of his grammar books, cover to cover.”

“You better not let your reading interfere with your homework.”

“It doesn’t.”

The taxi pulled up into the front of the nice townhouse, and Maybell paid the fare and included an appropriate tip, saying thank you. Said Lilia, “Thank you, sir.” The driver said, “No problem, thank you,” and he almost winked to Lilia, yet somehow resisted.

Lilia and her mom made it inside safely with their groceries and purchases and tidied up before Lilia’s dad, Lucas, came home from the university. He came in and they settled down for a hamburger steak with brown gravy, a salad, and a side of scalloped potatoes with garlic butter and cheddar cheese. Conversation over dinner involved parental occupations and Lilia’s pet question and her reading.

“Of course, I do not mind your reading through my books,” said Lucas, “And we all know your schoolwork comes first.” “They won’t even let me into the accelerated class.” “Do well and things may change for you,” said Lucas, “First grade is a long way away from high school and college, and we do not intend to over pressure your chances, career wise. You have a chance to be anything you put your mind to.” “Thank you, daddy.”

They said their prayers and turned in as usual. Lilia was afforded the benefit of keeping whatever book she was reading in her room, so long as she asked. During her prayers that night, Lilia asked the Lord to bless all those she knew, thanked Him for all the blessings she could consider, including her loving parents, and asked Him to, at least, consider her having a magical pet dragon. She thought He heard her, which is why she always prayed with unquestioned faith and honesty. Lilia slept soundly.

The next morning dawned a Friday, and the school day flew by for Lilia. She thought all day about dragons and magical fantastic lands and made sure to keep her mind on her schoolwork, mostly. Towards the end of the day, she decided to attempt a visit to the hobby store a few blocks away from home.

That evening, before dusk, Lilia asked her mom if they could go to the hobby store in the morning, promising to perform extra chores void of allowance payment. Maybell said they could go in the afternoon, contingent upon Lilia’s completion of said ideas. Lilia had them done by noon and her mother gave her a bologna-lettuce-tomato-and-cheese sandwich with a sprite for jobs well done. Lucas was at the university completing a week’s worth of study, and the two relaxed, showered and changed, and made their way to the hobby store.

Said Lilia upon entering, “Hello, Mr. Pumpernickel.” “Well, hello, Lilia and Maybell,” said the wise man with a cautious grin, “What a pleasure it is to see you, today. Are you here for something specific?” “Just browsing,” said Lilia. “Well feel free to take a look around, just ask me if you have any questions.” “Thank you, kind sir,” said Maybell, and she shopped around as Lilia darted to the shadows of the back of the store.

Lilia knew just about everything, item-wise, in the store; she had been there a few times with Lucas to scope out small model kits for classic wooden car models. Going isle to isle, Lilia considered everything she could. She made it to the front door and thought about all she had seen. Then Lilia returned to a near central part of the store. Gazing upon the clay-making section, she considered the various items.

“Surely I am not intruding,” said Mr. Pumpernickel, as he towered behind the young girl. “Oh no, sir,” said Lilia, “Not at all. I am just having a bit of a trouble adding up the total cost of what I think I want for a project.”

“Which is?”

“Three of these clay blocks, three of the glazes, and the number five carving tool.”

“That totals eleven dollars before tax.”

“Which is my problem, I only have twelve and I also need three pairs of those tiny opal marbles from the other isle, as well as some of the silver glaze.”

“Hmm,” thought Mr. Pumpernickel, as Maybell approached them. 

“How much is the silver glaze?” asked Maybell, “This kind of clay can be baked in a normal oven?” “Yes, and it comes out looking like ceramic,” said Mr. Pumpernickel, “The silver glaze is two dollars, and I can throw in the small marbles as complementary.” “You will agree to a few extra chores and to be safe with the oven and clean it before and after you use it?” she asked Lilia. “No problem,” said Lilia, “I will even be safe with the cleaner.” “We’ll take it, and for your kindness I will happily afford one of your ‘Pumpernickel’s Hobby Store’ xxl sweatshirts.” “Done deal,” said Mr. Pumpernickel with a joyful smile, and made his way to the cash register. Lilia selected the items she mentioned, as Maybell removed a sweatshirt from its stand. Then, they made their way to the register, too.

“I am happy, again, to see you guys,” said Mr. Pumpernickel, as he accepted their money and packaged their purchases.

“Did you ever make any dolls with the sewing kit?” he asked Maybell. “No, sir,” she said; “I still have the material and tools, though, and plan on sewing together some small poppets on a rainy day.”

“You will let me see these items when you to have them complete?”

“Without question,” they both said.

The three said their tentative goodbyes, and the two departed. The walk home was only a few blocks, and Maybell and Lilia held hands until they were safely inside, discussing occupations and school. That evening they ate well with Lucas and the three said their prayers and went off to bed.

The next day was Sunday, and, of course, the family of three attended a Sunday morning service. That afternoon, after a large lunch, Lilia’s parents were exhausted from a stressful week and took a lengthy nap, and Lilia completed most of her studies for the coming week that were possible. Always good to stay ahead, she thought.

That Sunday evening Lilia cleaned and showered and went to bed around six pm after saying her prayers. Her parents watched the evening news and turned in, too. Lilia awoke around eleven pm and noticed she had forgotten to bring one of her father’s books back to his study. Not a big deal, yet she would have to wait until morning to return it.

She read a few pages and enjoyed every sentence; it was about dragons within a magical kingdom full of many people and governed by a monarchical structure, titled, “A Kingdom and its Dragons”, by Tor Publishing and a pair of accomplished fantasy fiction authors. Her plan was to carve out three small dragons from her clay and bake them with the tiny marbles and their glazes.

She understood her parents’ thoughts on owning a pet; it was not good timing, for one. Yet she could have her dragons, thank heavens, and she planned to bless them with prayer. She made a few sketches of dragons, said a few prayers, and turned in a second time. In the morning, she awoke and remembered to bring the paperback tome back to the study, first thing. Then, she remembered that it was no longer necessary to return the book, for now.

It was early on a Monday, and Lucas happened to see Lilia going to the study. “I just wanted to see a few of the titles, even though I am sure it will take me weeks to read the book in my room,” said Lilia. “No problem, sweetheart,” said Lucas, “Again, you can keep it until you are done, so long as you do not compromise your ongoing straight ‘A’ record.” “Thank you,” she said, “I always do what I can to keep my ‘A’s,” smiling. Lucas smiled proudly upon his daughter and got ready to leave for the university.

Lilia did well in school that week, limiting herself to seven pages of her borrowed dragon book an evening and keeping up with her schoolwork. She was patient and carved a few shavings off her three blocks of clay, every night. The small family always said their prayers before slumber.

About three weeks later, Lilia’s teacher asked to speak with her after class. Thought her, this could mean trouble. “Lilia,” said Ms. Paladin, “I’ve noticed you usually finish your math quizzes before the rest of the class, and you usually add a few extra ‘made up’ problems and solutions on the side to prove your work.” Thinking, Lilia said, “It isn’t algebra, I just like to re-hash the simple problems, sometimes.” “That’s okay,” said Ms. Paladin. She was a wise woman, in her retired years, yet still looked young and strikingly cool (even ‘robust’ according to select third graders, even with silver-white hair).

“With your permission, I think it may be a good idea to spend your math hour with the second graders, maybe even third or fourth. The simplest addition-subtraction-multiplication-division we even touch on must be boring you.”

“Only sometimes. I think the more complicated stuff would be interesting. So long as I can come back to the basics if I am ‘overwhelmed.’”

“We’ll have a meeting with your parents and the principal and a few teachers on Friday afternoon?”

The word “principal” felt like a shadowed cold shower to her, even if it was okay that she loved math almost as much as English and dragons. No use in being lackadaisical, she thought, I will become a wise leader, one day.

Said Lilia “Thank you for this opportunity and I look forward to it.”

“Me too,” said Ms. Paladin with a grin, hiding some unknown fear behind what she deemed her best good intentions to be.

The meeting took place and Lucas and Maybell were proud of their daughter. She did well in her math studies that year and planned to take fifth grade math in the second grade. She also retained her other straight A’s, yet most of our story happens within her first-grade year. Before she turned eight.

During the Saturday afternoon after the Friday afternoon meeting with ‘authoritative faculty,’ Lilia completed the carving of her three dragons. Her dad had some fine grit sandpaper and she asked and received, and she was able to sand them, carefully, smooth. She was impressed with her work, so far.

The three dragons resembled each other, closely. They had wings, arms, and legs. Evident teeth and even curled claws. Even gentle grins and ears and each a long singular-like dominant horn with a small, more cute and curved, frontal miniature horn. Two horns a piece, and small scales, too. Lilia mixed the glazes very carefully to keep her original intentions in mind.

The first was near-white and she planned to name him Pearl. She had white, burgundy, and near-dark sea-blue glazes, along with a smaller amount of the silver glaze. She mixed the glazes to coat the dragons before baking them. All three purple, Pearl was of near white, yet pastel and pale in hue, and still glimmered with a faint, velvety glow of lavender. She named the second and third dragon Blizmas and Azul, their being purple. Blizmas was a near burgundy and still purple, and Azul was mostly a deep, shining blue with dark purple ‘tones.’

Lilia let the ceramic-like glaze dry, mostly, and installed their eyes and painted their claws and horns with silver – even the top points of their wings. She let the silver glaze dry for a while, too, whilst reading of enchanting dragons attempting to solve the confusion of a village of people during a winter rainstorm.

Then, she napped.

Upon waking, Lilia asked Lucas and Maybell for permission to utilize the oven. “I promise to give it a good preliminary cleaning and to clean it again when I am done,” she explained, and her parents decided to take a nap after giving her the okay. A surprise to her it was, even if they trusted her skills and often enjoyed her perfectly baked biscuits.

Lilia took extra care with the oven. She cleaned it well and let it pre-heat to 250˚f. She oiled some foil with vegetable oil and cautiously ‘re-perused’ the baking instructions for the clay. Following the instructions, she let the glazed clay bake for forty minutes, turned off the heat, and let her items cool in the oven, with the door ajar, for thirty minutes. Maybell and Lucas awoke as she was removing the three newly crafted dragons from the oven, and the three were impressed, indeed.

Lilia’s dragons glowed with a magical glossy hue within the shadows of their small half-kitchen, and their glossy finish reflected light when in a brighter environment. She carefully placed them on her windowsill, peacefully got on her knees, and prayed for them – that if they were to magically find life, that they would be intelligent, caring, discerning.

She read a few pages of her book and turned in, looking forward to seeing friends and loved ones in the morning.

Lilia continued to do well in school, never taking her studies for granted. She said her prayers before bedtime, continued to enjoy her book on dragons, and was surprised that she had read 250 pages of 750, already. She kept a small microfiber cloth for polishing her dragons; Mr. Pumpernickel was right, they really looked like ceramic, like expensive dining plates, especially to her.

One evening, she was dreaming, deep into the middle of a Wednesday night. She was walking along a path in an enchanted forest during the afternoon and realized, she was dreaming. She felt as though something was near her. Nothing dangerous, just ‘existing.’ She realized she was dreaming and twitched her body just enough to awake from her dream. Looking up to her windowsill, she saw Pearl, Blizmas, and Azul.

Her pets, she gazed upon them with caution.

I must still be dreaming.

She breathed deeply and exhaled and thought for a moment.

She noticed they appeared to be standing in attention, like baby soldiers trying to remain still.

Are you guys alive?

Azul, Pearl, and Blizmas slowly nodded in affirmation, and she was amazed. She would learn quickly that the three of them were magical, each with differing personalities and traits. Azul welded the most magical ability, accounting for about eighty percent of their collective powers and abilities. Pearl was the decision maker, efficient the most with problem solving and speech, and Blizmas was the most creative, with a sense of humor and the ability to analyze situations with abstract thought. A patient kind of possession of his, he was commonly cautious with his advice and analysis.

‘We’ve been awake for about an hour,’ thought Pearl. Lilia could understand them plain as day, and they, her. She looked up to the wall opposite of them to see they were focused on her ‘wallclock.’ It faintly glowed for most of the night, was nearly dim by six am, and began to re-charge its numbers and hands with the morning sun, each dawn.

We have information for you. (Pearl)

You guys can relax, you know. I am amazed that you are alive.

Lilia was impressed, indeed, and wondered of the ‘entailations’ of their newly born friendship. The three dragons relaxed and walked a few steps toward Lilia’s pillow and sat on the sill.

Can you fly?

I am game! (Blizmas)

And he got to his feet, bent is knees, jumped considered the area of the room, and lept. He had to flap vigorously to keep from hitting the floor yet was able to work his way into a kind of hummingbird glide about a foot from disaster. He flew around Lilia’s bedroom carefully avoiding various shelves and dolls and, the ceiling fan. He triumphantly made it back to the windowsill and perched in adrenaline filled exhaustion and excitement. Pearl and Azul were impressed, and Lilia was amazed. She carefully and politely and discretely and gently pinched her left forearm to make sure she was not dreaming, and Lilia gleamed at her companions in humble astonishment.

That was some flight.

Beginner’s luck. (Blizmas) You guys going to give it a try?

I am safest, here, for now. (Pearl)

Mind if I show off? (Azul)

He was analyzing the top of the wallclock.

By all means. (Blizmas, Pearl, and Lilia)

Azul lifted his left wing, then his right, and then quickly swung his right wing in front of him whilst pulling his left wing close to his body, spinning 180˚, quickly, only to seemingly vanish, and he reappeared on top of the wallclock within the same instant. Unsure of his balance or weight, he leisurely took a step into the air, glided down into the middle of the room, and in an instant re-appeared in a crouched position on the sill.

Amazing. (Lilia)

Impressive. (Blizmas)

I think I will stay here, for now. (Pearl)

I am happy to meet you and will love you always. You said you have information? (Lilia)

(Pearl) We do. Many things are up to you; there are many possibilities; and they come with only a few cautions. We can be alive between two and six, upon your discretion, and find it best to remain ‘ceramic’ for all other parts of the day, even if we can partially awake during other times. Only partially. We know a great many things of magic and many realms, and we know you brought us to life. We are yours, gladly, and we hope the best for you.


Lilia remained speechless, wondering if they needed food or water.

(Pearl) No. We can eat in other worlds yet are magic in those realms and don’t get hungry or sleepy. We exist in ceramic form, here, and breathe, and can exhale blue flames.

[The three each tilted their head up a little and breathed small blue flames from their nostrils – Lilia giggled a little, nearly afraid of her newfound responsibility.]

(Pearl) There is a special realm we can bring you to. It is your realm. A Kingdom. Anything you can think of can happen or exist there, from terrain to entities; its basic structure begins with a large mountain and surrounding areas. On the North side of the mountain there is a large plateau. We can go there if you like, and we understand if you choose to be patient with your decisions. For, you are the powerful creator of your kingdom, and it is for you. Time there passes with a sun and two moons, currently; there are four seasons, yet the summer is never too hot, and the winter may bring due ‘frozenness,’ yet is never too harsh to endure, like peaceful snow in the forties. When we return here, the time will be what it was when we left, even if it is ill-advised to stay gone too long.

(Lilia) Ill-advised?

Pearl glanced over to Blizmas.

(Blizmas) We can foresee no danger to you; too long from here and a permanent stay would result in damage to our conscience. You probably wouldn’t want to be there for over a few weeks, at most; it would take years on end to be any danger. We simply wanted to let these notions be known, though.

(Lilia) Wow. I have time to think about it?

(Azul) As much as you want.

Lilia decided to turn in, and her dragons took their positions on the windowsill and peacefully went to sleep, too, cautiously remembering their original positions.

A few weeks went by. Lilia kept her A’s, helped other students learn, and made it to page 400 of the ‘Tor book.’ During this time, she got to know her dragons, and they her. They took to waking during some times after dusk, so that Lilia wouldn’t have to wake in the middle of the night. One night she went to bed early, before six pm, and awoke around 2:30 in the morning.

I think I would like to go see our kingdom.

The three dragons were practicing juggling four balls of

magic and nearly did not notice Lilia’s being awake. The balls disappeared when Azul saw her.

(Blizmas) You are awake?

Sure. Is it a real, magical place?

(Pearl) Without question, and only one of a great many we can, as the four of us, go to. You’ve thought about it?

For days. A small part of me wanted to be sure that I would not want a permanent stay. I decided that I have goals.

(Azul) Just remember, real life is important, and magical fantasy realms are only real while we are there. Nothing is more important than your life/world, here; even if it would be hard to explain, for now.

(Blizmas) Indeed.

(Pearl) With that, I think we should go.

How?

(Azul) Notice the time. It is now 2:47 am – that is when we will return.

I am going to do some stretches.

Lilia got out of bed, did some stretches, and changed into a comfortable outfit. She wore a loose, long-sleeved, hunter-green wrinkle shirt, one she hand-sewed with her mom, and tan drawstring pants. It would be a perfect outfit for keeping up with the five am yoga program, sometime. Those favorites, along with semi-thick socks and her ‘thunderstorm-colored’ slip-on, soft-sole shoes.

(Azul) Are you forgetting your silver tierra?

I have no such item.

(Blizmas) Right, and you did not win it in a secret sparring competition with twelve-yearolds.

Trying not to laugh, Lilia carefully and very quietly and slowly opened the bottom drawer of her chest of drawers. Beneath her sleeping fabrics, she removed a small, silk-lined box. The box resembled a common block of wood, yet she opened the lid to reveal both her tierra and the eight hidden magnets that held the box’s lid to in a clandestine manner. In its center was an oval-shaped emerald, a large, dark-green stone set with a thin silver ring.

She fitted the tierra on her head, looking to her dragons, with a ‘partial’ expression of hoping they were satisfied.

(Blizmas) Our maker here owns a kind of crown, after all.

The four laughed a little and looked to the clock to see it display five ‘till three.

How do we leave?

(Azul) Hold us close, then raise your hands, then close your eyes.

Lilia did not know how to pick them up off the sill, yet as she held her hands to them, Pearl and Blizmas climbed onto her left and right palms, and Azul floated between them, naturally. As she raised her hands in the air, her three dragons raised their wings, suspended in front of her. The four were looking at the clock; and Lilia smiled; and Lilia closed her eyes.

In an instant, the four were on a large plateau. One moon was fading from site towards the lower left of all that Lilia could see, and another moon, pale blue yet near white in glowing hue, showed a full circle on the opposite end of a peaceful and clear night sky. There was a calm breeze. There were scattered stars in the night sky, distant yet brilliant, and as Lilia took in the rest of what she could see, she noticed a vast forest of trees and shadows which extended a far distance until it met the horizon. The forest started a distance from what she could see of the area in front of the bottom of what must have been a ‘gargantuan’ mountain.

Her majesty’s three dragons flapped their wings slowly while they were suspended, just to stay in motion.

Wow. It is beyond what I could have expected. I would not be able to put this scene into words.

(Azul) It ‘is’ amazing.

Even with their knowledge of so many places and realms, the dragons were impressed, indeed.

(Blizmas) I know you are tempted to test it.

Without question. I am resisting the temptation to fly. I can sense my own magical abilities here. Again, I do not think I could have imagined such power, or even the ease of control of it, on my own. Just one test?

(Azul) It’s all up to you. We should be able to caution your decision if it is ever of question.

Lilia held out her right hand and directed a magical ‘moon beam’ in a strange angle to see pretty light, then let it go. The dragons did not comment, yet they were grateful that their maker did not surprise them and change into something nonpositive or terrible. She could obviously understand her powers, here, and she was quite the minimalist with her must-have experiment.

I think I will wait for another time to materialize any people or to make any grand changes. I like it this way. I think it would be fun to fly.

The dragons agreed, and without Lilia being surprised, they enlarged from about three inches in height to about seven feet tall, each. She climbed onto the back of Blizmas, and they were off.

They flew from the plateau on the mountain down to its lower vicinities and soared to far above the treetops of the forest. They flew away from the mountain over the forest for a while, and Pearl and Blizmas and Azul with Lilia on Blizmas’s back circled around to fly back to the large mountain. The tops of the trees below them passed them by hurriedly as they approached the mountain.

When they were closer to the mountain, yet still a good distance from it, they circled the ‘monster.’ It was a large piece of elevated terrain, indeed. As they circled the mountain, Lilia and her dragons saw vast lands in the moonlight. As the plateau faced the north, the west, south and east sides of the mountain faced various terrains. Due west and east seemed to be part of the huge forest yet consisted of hills and plains scattered with small forests and trees and various shrubberies.

Due south presented a seemingly endless prairie consisting, what looked like in its entirety, of three-foot-tall grain, glowing in a translucent mauve hue in the moonlight.

The moon was descending as dawn was beginning to glow before the sun was sure to rise. The dragons and Lilia made it back to the plateau, and she said the lands were amazing. The dragons agreed, and all four held hands to watch the sun rise. From the plateau, the sun peeped up over the horizon to their right, causing the sky to morph into colors of purple and orange and yellow and pink and a pinch of sky blue.

We should return. I see ‘how’ fantastic our realm is here – I am exhausted.

The dragons agreed, and in an instant, while holding hands, they disappeared and reappeared in Lilia’s bedroom, the time on her clock saying five ‘till three. The dragons were perched on the sill, and Lilia changed clothes back into her pajamas and properly replaced her special tierra. They went off to sleep and enjoyed a healthy rest.

For the next ten days or so, Lilia continued to do well in school and read about dragons before slumber. Maybell had been considering various schools for employment for months. There were three main school districts, and she wanted to teach mostly eleventh graders and seniors with thoughts of helping teenagers prepare for their careers and their consideration of higher education.

Two of the school districts were ‘above par’ yet one of them was known for its astounding excellence in education and could proudly mention its realm of adults that traveled from out of state to join in an impressive faculty. It was not a private high school, yet it was proud to pursue its continued scholastic achievements. Called North Brook, Maybell was nearly in tears as she answered the phone to accept an interview for a fulltime teaching position.

Well-rounded in most subjects, she would be teaching in a specific area of study. She interviewed and was able to discuss three openings: art, history, or math. Math was not her strongest subject, yet after conversation she ascertained the school needing a math teacher more than the other two options. It would be the hardest choice; Maybell was a responsible, hard-working person.

She accepted the position, keeping in mind that it would be sure to prove the most challenging. She prepared her mind for extensive study in geometry, trigonometry, algebra, and other branches of mathematics. With discussion, the panel of her interviewers also saw it a beneficial notion to include Maybell with the school’s career advisory board. Her pay would be 110% of what she would have guessed, and all was well.

Lilia and Lucas were very happy for her mom. Maybell was very happy and thankful, too. Said Lilia, “I will help you polish up on your math, so long as you let me check out your teaching books.” Maybell smiled and said, “No problem.”

During the same year, Lucas received a bachelor’s diploma in English and minored in marketing. He was accepted into the university’s graduate program and continued his studies to one day become an English professor. The day Maybell received her new teaching job, she went with Lilia to the grocery store. That night they celebrated with a large meal consisting of many things, most of which were prepared on more rare occasion, due to their expense. After the small celebratory feast, the three waddled off to bed and slept better than over-fed cows.

One Friday night, about a week later, Lilia awoke to speak with her dragons. They were fast asleep, at three.

It’s Friday night.

The dragons stretched and Blizmas volunteered to look to the wallclock. Lilia changed into her ‘flying outfit’ and adorned her secret tierra. Her parents were sleeping soundly after a long week.

The dragons came to, as Blizmas said the time was two ‘till three.

Aren’t you guys excited? I have been thinking for days of what we can go do.

The dragons did some stretches, trying to, at least partially, mock the stretches Lilia had learned from watching her five am yoga show. Two or three exercises; they did not attempt those yet cautiously wondered if other people could do those things. Happy and ready to depart, the three held hands and looked to the clock. The time was three ‘o seven am, and with a look to Azul from Lilia, the four disappeared. Instantaneously.

They appeared on the familiar plateau one hour before high noon. A warm breeze blew as the four took in a breath of clean air. There were no birds; there was no structure.

We need a big table, to think.

Oh, sure. (Azul)

It will have a room for it? (Blizmas)

In a magical land like this, I bet I can imagine a bamboo igloo structure.

Pearl laughed a little, and Lilia clapped her hands. Before their very eyes, a large hardwood table of deep mahogany hue stood before them, and they were housed in an open-like structure with a back wall. The new ‘thought hut’ consisted of five walls, three large viewing windows, a large, open front entrance, three doors wide, and a slanted roof which was tallest in the front. Its two front walls had wide horizontal open windows, and the hut had a rear window, sized accordingly.

The three dragons sat on the front of the table, looking out of the entrance, and Lilia sat beside them.

I am amazed. (Azul)

I like it. (Pearl)

If I ever am a Japanese person and decide to reside in Alaska, I think I may consider this option. (Blizmas)

I think we should start with birds.

You’re the queen; what kind? (Azul)

Lots of different kinds of sparrows, various colorful finches, many others, and exotic tropical birds.

Well said. (Pearl)

There were then many birds in the forest. There were many small birds in the west and east lands, and there were blackbirds in the prairies, with abalone blue and purple markings in the central areas of their wings. Larger black crows existed within the realms of the forest. Her majesty’s kingdom now certainly contained many birds.

The four sat and thought for a little while, and Lilia was deciding on animals and people.

The kingdom needs a queen, a castle, livestock, and various other animals and people.

Lilia got off the table and stretched a little, looking out to the vast forest. Her three dragons (currently three inches tall) flew to perch on her shoulders, and they walked around the hut, giving it a kind of appreciation inspection. It impressed them, and as they looked out to the forest, they could see an occasional bird at random fly above the treetops and dive back into the forest.

There should be various insects and beetles and butterflies, for the birds, and there should be a species of goldengreen scarabs within these notions.

As Lilia willed these things, her kingdom was complete, short a castle and people and animals. There would also need to be a couple of villages, maybe three, yet she was missing home. They decided to take at least one flight. The dragons enlarged to their ‘flight height,’ and Lilia flew with Pearl, this time. They flew to the edge of the forest and circled the mountain to view its southern side more closely, and descended to the plateau, in front of their bamboo igloo hut.

Let’s go back.

The four held hands and disappeared. They reappeared in Lilia’s room at three ‘o seven, and she changed. Then, they went off to bed.

During the next couple of weeks Maybell started her teaching job and studied math books. She was always early for work and did very well. The faculty loved her and was happy to have a new personality to assist in their ongoing efforts of excellence in education. As if there could exist nothing other than a perfect world, there was one problem.

A man with lustful eyes.

During a teacher’s meeting, one of the other math teachers looked upon Maybell. She did not return the look yet could sense it, and she did not like it, either. She spoke with the man who gave her a job, the school’s superintendent, the following morning.

The superintendent, Mr. Elmwoods, confirmed that the teacher had been accused of flirting with seniors and other faculty, before. “I can terminate him,” he said. And Maybell considered the dangers of ‘political’ thought.

“What if we recommend him for a position in another school district along with counseling.”

“Good idea. As soon as he is brought to my attention, once more, I will see to said notions.”

Maybell felt reassured; drastic measures lose to a better compromise, on occasion. Two days later, the head cheerleader went to the superintendent’s office after school and said that the math teacher asked her if she would like to go out to eat the coming Saturday night, in front of three other students. She said she did not tell her boyfriend, who may have been upset with the question. Her boyfriend was an intelligible yet strong athlete preparing for a college scholarship to join a baseball team. Because of these occurrences, there was proof of the male teacher’s perversion, and he was released to a job in another district contingent upon ongoing counseling.

Maybell mentioned these things over dinner one night, and Lucas was thankful for his loving wife and daughter. “Are you still reading the same book before bedtime?” Lucas asked Lilia.

“I am on page 598, where the dragons and people of the village have decided that the big black dragon is a terrible, evil monster.”

“The ending is an impressive denouement; I won’t ruin it for you.”

“Okay.”

“So, this guy was a good looker?” asked Lilia, cautiously.

“No,” said Maybell, “Hopefully, he learned and will better his life.”

“I see some of the most attractive females all the time at the university,” said Lucas, “And I will always ‘love’ only you.” He and Maybell gazed into each other’s eyes, and Lilia said, “I’m going to my bedroom.” She went to her bedroom and completed her schoolwork and read a few pages of her dragon book and showered and went off to bed.

Lilia and her dragons travelled to their kingdom during the night every three days, or so. After they had flown around inspecting its fantastic lands and made their hut and table and conjured the birds and bugs, they waited a while to consider the rest of the kingdom. Surely, there was more to it than a forest, two areas, and the large southern prairie, Lilia thought. She wondered if it was a kind of planet.

The next time they went there, they flew directly over the ‘North Forest’ and kept flying. For some time, all they could see was forest. Eventually, the trees were smaller, and the forest faded to a grassland, then a beach. Then, there was a vast ocean. It took them even longer, yet they flew over the ocean until they finally saw another beach. During this flight, both moons reflected light off the waves of the ocean, like silvery purple and pink and blue rainbows- small icebergs of light, as far as they could see.

The second beach faded into grasslands that faded into the southernmost part of the huge meadow. As the sun rose to their right, they flew over the entire meadow with its golden and purple grain swaying in the gentle breeze until, finally, the huge mountain came into view. Lilia had flown with Azul, this time. They flew around to their hut and rested with their table and returned home.

That was some flight. (Azul)

I had wondered if it was a planet; the ocean seems to take up fifty percent of its exterior. It is a very realistic place for an imaginary realm.

While we are there, it is a good notion to remember to remain on the good side of things. For there, it is real. (Blizmas)

I try to keep that in mind; just because it is magical doesn’t mean that we should not. (Pearl)

The four were tired and went off to bed. Lilia made all A’s in school during her first-grade year. A few days after they found the ocean she awoke during the depths of the night and looked up to her clock.

It’s three ‘till three.

We’ve been up for about half an hour. (Pearl)

What happens if my parents wake whilst our absence?

They would either see you doing your stretches or changing upon our return. We return when we leave, same instance. (Blizmas)

Lilia changed and stretched and put on her tierra.

Big plans? (Azul)

We still have those villages and the castle and the people and animals to make. It should be an exciting journey.

The dragons did their stretches, and the four touched each other by connecting with fingers ‘extra-terrestrial’ style, looking to the clock which read three ten. Then, they appeared in front of their kingdom’s table, a few feet from the hut’s doorway, about an hour after high noon.

So, we have the castle, the animals, a village due east and one due west and another in the center of the forest and the people, including a queen that is not me.

You do not want a prairie village in the south? (Blizmas)

No, West and East Village will farm wheat from the prairie. Deep Forrest Village will have to construct itself, while the East and West villages will already consist of a small town square a piece and various houses and small shops.

Shops? (Azul)

There should be at least three blacksmiths. One for each village and one for the big castle. They can train others as needed. There will also be various tailors and skilled hunters.

What about dragons? (Azul)

For one, I have you guys. A big dragon in the book I am reading may be approaching his bane. I will have to think about that for a while; rest assured, I have many animals and people of many sorts in mind.

Alchemists? (Pearl)

Three main experts, like the blacksmiths.

Horses? (Blizmas)

Part of the animals. There will even be a ‘mule donkey,’ owned and maintained by the priest of the castle’s monk.

Wow. (Azul)

I will count to three, then we can raise our hands to the sky.

And you think these things will happen? (Azul)

As sure as you can fly me over the entire ocean.

The three laughed a little. The previous flight was a long one. They stood in front of the table, and for not much reason, the dragons grew to their seven-foot height. This would be the most magic worked within this realm; it was special.

The three took in a deep breath and closed their eyes and exhaled. Lilia counted to three, and the four of them simultaneously clapped one time and raised their hands into the air. Within moments, the kingdom’s various people and animals and villages with their structures came into existence, even the creatures of the large ocean. The four opened their eyes and

somehow knew that these things had taken place.

Where did we put the castle? (Azul)

Lower right. (Blizmas)

Unless I am wrong, you are accurate. The castle is a ways away from the bottom of the mountain, faced north, a long way away from East Village, with a moat that feeds from one of the mountain’s two rivers. (Pearl)

I did not really notice the two rivers. They come from all the snow that is melts on the summit during the summer?

I think so. The summit is very large and the top of the mountain, there, is another plateau, larger than this one, by far. As the snow melts, the water travels to the east and west, and the two rivers flow to the ocean as barriers for the North Forest and the lands to the left and right of us. (Pearl)

Impressive.

I would like to see the donkey. (Azul)

Next time?

Okay. (Azul)

We should be getting back. I imagine it will take weeks for the people in the forest to construct their village.

Probably so. (Blizmas)


The four looked around for a moment, raised their hands in the air, and disappeared. They reappeared in Lilia’s room, her clock reading ten after three. She changed and they turned in.

Days went by and all was going well. Lilia did find some of her new math to be of challenge, yet, as she tried and tried again, she was eventually able to understand even the most complicated problems she could come across. She found that, with enough repetition, multiplication and division became easy, facilitating an easier understanding of more complicated concepts.

Lilia and her dragons decided not to go to their kingdom for about three weeks or so, to let it settle and give the forest people time. Not that they needed it, yet Lilia enjoyed the time to think, and she was nearing the conclusion of her dragon book.

It was about ten after two am and Lilia was sleeping soundly.

We have to wake her up. (Blizmas)

Pearl looked to Azul.

There is no question on this one? (Pearl)

No. (Azul)

Lilia, you should wake up. (Pearl)

Lilia happily awoke from her sleep, looking up to her dragons. She could tell they were worried.

Is there a problem?

Someone is trying to break into the front. He already tried the door yet was unable to get in because of the deadbolt. He’s messing with the latch on the window. (Azul)

I think it is a math teacher. (Blizmas)

Stay here.

Lilia made sure her dragons were in place on the windowsill and quickly hurried to her parents’ bedroom. She woke them up to go and inspect one of the front windows of their townhouse. An odd thought occurred to her, that no one would be there. She could be in trouble, then, yet she felt it was best to see them before going to the window.

Lucas and Maybell awoke; said Lilia, “I think someone is trying to break into the front left window.” They got to their feet and Lucas grabbed his phone to call the authorities. They carefully made their way to view of the window and saw a shadowy figure messing with the latch on its bottom. Lucas made the call, and they watched the man as he was working with the latch. Maybell noticed he resembled the ‘relocated’ math teacher. In the shadows, after a moment, she saw that it was indeed him. The authorities would be there any minute. The man opened the latch and lifted the window. He raised the window and ducked his head in to swing one foot inside. In silence, Lucas put his arm in front of Lilia to keep her from running at him. The police were there within that moment, and Lucas turned on the lights and opened the front door. The math teacher was arrested for breaking and entering, and Maybell and Lilia went to the kitchen, remaining out of view of the criminal.

Lucas thanked the police as they took the man to their car. He answered their questions, and Maybell let them know that he (the criminal) was the math teacher that had been recently sent to another district for sexual misconduct. The officers included their statements in their report and said their goodbyes, and Lilia’s parents thanked them again.

Lucas figured he would find a way to change the latches on the windows and possibly request security bars for the lower windows on the townhouses. The three went back to bed, and Lilia thanked her dragons and they prayed before slumber.

Days passed and all was well. Lilia and her dragons flew to their kingdom, usually, on Friday nights. The forest people constructed their village, and Azul got to see the monk’s mule donkey. The alchemists performed their studies, and the villages farmed their wheat and hunted wild animals. Eventually, Lilia materialized three more dragons, all seven feet in height, one green, one orange, and one bronze. They remained in the kingdom.

She met the queen and explained everything, including the hut on the plateau (and its table). She helped the queen organize basic laws of the lands, and the hut was accepted as usually off limits for most, short poets and philosophers.

Eventually, Maybell fashioned two small poppets. A boy and a girl. She offered them to Lilia, who thought her mother would be happier with them. Lilia said Maybell should keep her poppets, and she (Maybell) did.

Together on a Saturday afternoon, Maybell and Lilia went, as promised, to see Mr. Pumpernickel. They showed him their five treasured items, and he was impressed. He resisted on commenting that they (all five) seemed to be alive – Azul winked to him upon their departure.

Lilia finished her dragon book, impressed with the notion that it was the largest book she had read, so far, cover to cover.

The ending was a little ‘strong’ for her, because one of the huge magical dragons was slayed. It had to happen due to his evil acts including swallowing a friar; she enjoyed the book, nevertheless.

Lilia read plenty of books on math and many subjects during the latter part of her first-grade year, and especially, during the summer before her second. Lucas was eventually awarded his master’s degree and a position as a professor of English for the university he had worked for and studied with for so long. He also took at least one course a semester, post bachelorette.

Lilia enjoyed writing stories in the fantasy and science fiction genres and completed a novel, with many colorful, magical dragons, before turning twelve. She was graduated from high school (her mom’s) a year early and went off to college on academic scholarships.

All was well.

Everyone lived happily ever after.

+

Happy New Year 2021!

The last year was full of disdain and need for hope, as well as a few reasons for joy. I have counted my blessings daily while praying for others and pursuing mental and physical health throughout 2020. I have not done as much with my writing, yet still plan to. I spent most of this year studying audio circuits and recording mp3 tracks with no lyrics. All experimental, they totaled about 124. Of those, about twelve of them are nearly presentable as actual songs. Two of them are on soundcloud.com/jcm3rockstar, and another track is there by doing a search for “chaos-555-daw-01.” The first two tracks were made with a drum machine and an midi keyboard. The chaos song was made with a small synth from synthrotek with three oscillators. I have another synth I soldered together with five oscillators, yet it, for some reason, has yet to be functional.

In regards to my writing, I have “A Collection of Tales” re-written and am reading it again to make sure it has no typos. I am also still working on a fantasy novel. Its outline is complete (as it was four years ago), and I am about 55% of the way finished typing out its ‘story chapters.’ Most of the reading I have done this year has been within electronics research. For the life of me I have not been able to refrain from re-reading the same material – at least I have learned how to assemble basic circuits with a breadboard and, whew, have I done some soldering. These notions involved the Bastl Kastl Synth, both the Sound Generator and the Sequencer from sparkfun.com, three other small synths, a few led circuits, and at least four other circuits that were experimental, such as a square wave generator that has a changeable duty cycle. I have read about and tried to more fully understand integrated circuits, such as the popular 555 IC, and I developed an idea including two of those called the “Trumpet.” I recently posted a video of the two-part circuit on youtube, here. I figured it out with a small 8-key organ circuit and the 555 lofi synth circuit from synthrotek, both of which were working circuits before I got them combined with breadboards and replacement components. There is a caption below the video about the “Trumpet.” Please, understand the video was to show a working circuit, not to present a song. The circuit works, and the high-pitched sounds will be decreased to lower tones upon its completion.

Covid has taken over 300,000 lives in the United States, alone; thank you for keeping those of us directly affected by the pandemic in your prayers.

About the most I have to show for writing, this year, was the update of “Sometimes They do not Make it,” and I apologize for not having more time for writing and editing. I do plan to pursue writing more, this year; I still have many goals with music and audio circuit research, too. Along with learning more about integrated circuits, I plan to learn more about assembling a synth, eventually, and such a notion can take a lifetime. I cook and wash dishes to stay alive, for now; thank you for any support you can give me involving my creative efforts. 🙂

Song Page

Hello, beloved visitors and followers of my blog.

As an aspiring writer, I have also endured other forms of creative endeavor. Like music.

Here is a free presentation of two songs I did; they have no guitar or lyrics, but a beat and midi synth.

jungle and waltz

Thank you for listening.

If you would like to donate to me to help cover the costs of writing stories and creating inspirational music, send money via paypal to: jcm3@email.com

Thank you, also, for enjoying literary and music content as I pursue goals:)

Fuzz

The above is a photo of a 70’s style fuzz distortion pedal I put together. It is the most simple circuit I found on the web for a “diy” distortion pedal; there are many more circuits that are very complicated compared to this one. It sounds great. I figured out how to add an led as well as switching for bypass, which means I can play with it plugged in and choose between having fuzz distortion or not. It is a “Bazz Fuss” pedal.

Of the three switches, one connects the two jacks together and the other two turn on/off the 9v power supply (one on “+” and one on “-“). The knob is for volume. I did not add a tone knob, because tone knobs on other pedals I have experimented with did not change the sound enough to further complicate the circuit. I realize I currently have minimal knowledge of electronic circuits; I am a beginner with these notions. The three wires in the photo are the 9v wire and two 1/4” cables, one to the guitar (in) and the other to the amp (out).

Here are two video links to see how this same kind of pedal is made:  fuzz1 fuzz2. To make your own fuzz pedal, watch these videos to draw out the circuit and write down the components. You may want to check out mammoth for components if you are interested in making a pedal. A very large selection of components can be found from mouser. For dozens of awesome “diy” pedal kit options/circuits, check out guitarpcb. There is even a Pink Floyd jet pedal on that site. For the best price on an excellent temperature controlled soldering station, I suggest this one. Mine works great and heats to 300 degrees in under thirty seconds (just like it says on the box). The last three soldering irons I have used and owned do not even compare to the above mentioned soldering station, and one can even order replacement tips for it. I like the tip that looks like a cone. There are also many pedal kits, even if more common, on Amazon.

 

 

Below is the circuit  I put together and tested before deciding whether I would put it in an enclosure. I found the 1/4″ jacks for the guitar cables on Amazon.

Obviously, one would not want to build an enclosure for a circuit that does not work. This was the third circuit I tried to make for a distortion pedal and the first one that worked. I may solder together a more complicated one eventually; however, for now, I plan to spend some time with my writing and learning to play the guitar better.

If you watched the videos and looked up “fuzz pedal circuits” on bing, you will notice that the circuit above utilizes a 9v power supply. I added the three switches on my own, as well as the blue led and 470 ohm resistor. First, I added the one (switch) that connects the two jacks’ negatives, for bypass. It only worked when I unplugged the power supply, so I added the other two switches in order to be able to have it plugged in and also off, to play without distortion.

As it is, I can turn the two 9v switches on and the jack connection off to play with fuzz distortion, and turn the switches the opposite for ‘near’ true bypass (it is hard to notice any distortion when it is configured for bypass).

The circuit above may look all sprawled out. It was, and I figured out how to get the led and bypass working (which took about a week due to the small amount of time I put into it, daily) before I chose to clip the wires and shorten/bend them and re-solder the circuit. It would need to be smaller to fit into a box. I played with it; it worked; I was happy; and I decided it was good enough for a halfway descent wooden enclosure. I chose a triangular box structure idea with a light in the middle of it. It would have walnut corners and birdseye maple sides, top, and bottom.

The photo above is of the wood before I sawed it out, as well as the circuit as it was before I made it smaller. The isosceles triangle in the photo is the piece of Plexiglas I sawed out for the light. The led is bright, and the triangle does a fine job of both adding some to the looks of the box as well as dimming the light just enough.

When I bent/clipped the wiring and de-soldered certain connections in order for it to fit correctly in the enclosure, I accidentally soldered it back together wrong. It did not work, and it was not encouraging. I took a break from it for a while and then checked the circuit diagram I drew from the videos on YouTube. I found the problem and re-soldered the connection, and it worked. I used solder from RadioShack, the kind that is shiny.

For the record, the components I used are not exactly the same as in the videos. They are close enough; it works. I would suggest getting the exact components mentioned in the videos; anything else besides those may or may not work. Some components are interchangeable and some are not. The resistor is; I decided to go with a 100k resistor (the one for the circuit, not the extra one on the led) instead of a 10k, because the 10k kept giving out halfway through guitar notes. In order for it to work the best, I keep the guitar and the pedal turned up all the way, and the amp’s volume turned down to 2.2 or so. It is, as they said in the videos, a very loud pedal. It is best to have the volume all the way down on the amp when you first plug in the pedal.

The above photo is of the enclosure and the circuit. During the time of this photo, the circuit was not working; I did not have the bypass switches wired the right way, yet. Of course one could more easily add a bypass to this circuit with toggle switches; however, I did not have any and was anxious to complete the project. Here is a link to those wonderfully nostalgic power supply switches. Here is one for toggles. The copper wire I used is 24 gauge and I found it on Amazon. It can pick up radio wave interference without the enclosure, and does, so I recommend using red and black insulated wire instead.

The wood did not take me too long to saw out and sand, and I used clearcoat polyurethane on it instead of a stabilization process.

Here is a photo of the circuit after I got it working again.

You can see that the light is on. I used a liquid wood filler to correct the holes I drilled into the top of it for the 9v switches. In my design, I did not make enough room for the potentiometer and the switches, so I had to redo how I had it originally drawn. I was happy that it worked again and plan to practice chords and scales with it.

Here is a photo of the enclosure after I got the neodymium rare-earth magnets in it.

The magnets are not installed to perfection; however, they are close to it. I am impressed with the luck I had in getting them at least as close to perfectly placed as I did. I used a piece of paper to make a stencil to get them lined up right, and drilled their holes and fit them with superglue.

Was the project over? After days and days of working on it in the afternoons? No. The circuit worked great; it did everything I wanted it to do. The bottom of the enclosure fit great to the rest of the pedal. So what could have ‘possibly’ been wrong with the final project? The jacks. They bumped up against the side of the triangular box, so the cables would not connect properly when inserted. I solved the problem with a whittling tool, which means there is an extra hole in one side of the enclosure. Does it really matter? Not really, because it works great and does not really look too bad.

The tiny holes in the sides of it are for heat-release. The circuit does not really get too hot, yet I figured it a descent notion to not seal it air tight. Light does not really come out of those little holes. Even though the box is made of wood and is highly flammable, I do not intend on having it on and plugged in for a long time. If it starts smoking, I’ll unplug it. If it starts a fire, I will put it out with an extinguisher or a large wet towel. I’ve already played with it for over an hour; the circuit does not really get hot. I do recommend aluminum enclosures for building pedals; many kits come with those kinds of enclosures.

So, that is my fuzz pedal. I have spent the last few months revising my first collection of stories for a second edition of “Acoloftals”. The new edition is highly similar to the first one and includes a complete revision of this story; I made at least thirty necessary changes to the text and have revised it entirely twice, so far. That is what kept me from putting more stories on my blog, time-wise. Once it is done, I plan to write a screenplay. Here is the photo of the pedal in its distortion setting, one more time. It sounds just like the pedals in the videos. Total hard metal.

Thank you for visiting jcm3blog and have a nice day.

Thoughts on “A More Healthy Beat”

I wrote “A More Healthy Beat” for one reason -the ending. In reading about how to write stories, I often come across the same concepts more than one time. Advice for dialogue is almost always redundant, mentioning things like, “Characters should not utilize entire sentences, one character should not go on and on all the time, written dialogue presents more clarity than most every-day conversation,” ect…

Literature on writing stories always mentions plot, character, and setting development, as well as other techniques. One thing I have noticed in some of the more preferable stories that I have read was an abrupt, humorous or witty conclusion. This technique is advised by some as a near necessity for crafting stories. For this reason, I wrote this one.

I’m writing out this post; however, for another reason. Though a humorous conclusion is often applauded and enjoyed by many readers, I at times wonder if a more developed denouement is a far better choice from a literary perspective. It seems to me a simple joke or humorous play on words could be simply that, and a story should not have to include such an ending to be seen as more preferable than other stories.

To each their own, I say, on this. If you have a good idea for a story, write it out. If you can think of some form of in-depth or ironic conclusion and are worried the story may sound like a shallow joke, go ahead and write it anyway. Chances are someone will enjoy it, and you can further develop more in-depth concepts for better ideas afterwards.

Thank you for reading. 🙂

Shawn Before Dawn, A Story

I rolled over and looked at the alarm clock – it was 4:58 AM. “Today is an important day,” I remembered. I turned off the alarm before it sounded and slammed the four fluid ounces of coffee I sat by it the night before. I went to the restroom, shaved, showered, got ready as quickly as possible making sure I did not forget anything I considered the previous day. Today is important. My boss is buying me lunch and may even further explain why his daughter left me.

The sun was not yet up and the traffic still sparse. I pulled into the gravel drive, as always, and parked in a familiar place. In only fourteen short months I had moved up in the construction company my boss owns and runs from Laborman to Crew Leader Assistant to Crew Leader. My crews always operated in an efficient and timely manner. They ate my egg burritos like Pavlovian study dogs. Recently I was given the responsibility of an entire project and am currently over three crews in the process of demolition and reconstruction of an entire wing of a colossal warehouse facility.

I am minutes early and I know it. I make a habit of it and no one complains or is ever surprised. For this reason I have the key to the trailer office, our companies temporary onsite headquarters. Today would not be so bad. My crew knows how to do what they do well, and we have our goals to meet by the end of the day. I turn the key to open the trailer and it breaks off inside the keyhole. Just what I need. Closed to half an hour until I see a living human and I am stranded with a sack of egg burritos.

I sat on the wooden steps and watched the dark blueish purple misty sky fade into the orange of dawn behind scattered clouds of thin fog. I thought back. Not too long ago I decided to give college a rest for a while and move back in with parents until I found work. I found work and met Mallen. She and I worked for a small restaurant which sold pizza and tacos; she mentioned her dad owned a construction company.

“Damn,” I thought, “Just when there was no chance of moving out.” I enquired of the difficulty or chances of my working for her father and she said I could probably hire in as labor with no experience, that he was hiring about a dozen workers during the next four weeks.

I am not the kind of guy that ignores the chance of love. This time it did not work out, yet I at least gave the woman no cold shoulder. Mallen mentioned she was in nearly my same situation as she was living with her parents and wanted to find a place. She would starve and die before working for her dad, even though he was probably the single most powerful contractor in our city of over 4,000,000 people.

I got a newspaper and road around with Mallen a few afternoons in a row and we found an inexpensive flat and signed a 3-month form. I went to work for her dad and ‘kicked as much ass as possible,’ so to speak, always being on time and getting as much physical labor accomplished as humanly conceivable. I thought she and I got along fine. I never really noticed how intelligent Mallen really was, nor did I notice that she did not speak her thoughts very often.

Our place was fine and included two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a study room, four closets, and a small television room with two couches. She moved plenty of stuff in there including kitchenware and plenty of personal belongings. I kept my work clothes, an old radio, an alarm clock, and a few changes of clothes, only. We were never more than companions, if that.

Still on the wooden steps, I cannot help but remember the night Mallen changed the locks. After work I went to a local bookstore and got a coffee and a best seller. Gotta love that John Grisham. It was late in the evening and I went to a bar. I don’t drink, but the sandwiches there are great and only cost a few dollars a piece. The bartender had no problem telling me of his life’s career, and I had no problem eating five sandwiches and enjoying four complimentary iced apple sodas.

It was 1Am by the time I headed back to the flat. I knew Mallen had been looking for a new job and was interviewing with the airport. When I got back, the locks were changed and there was a note on the door: “Got the job – Mallen.” I was confused.

Sleeping in my truck that night to go to work on Saturday morning was no big deal for me. It was the surprise. Was she okay? Did we not even have a chance at this thing called love? Surely there could have been a spark. If nothing else, I could have grown to like her more.

It did not take me but a few days to find a new place. My crew leader at the time helped me find a one-bedroom flat and I signed another form. Then I had no distractions. I could work, work, work, then sleep, eat, and work some more. As happy as I was, I was still confused with Mallen. Again, I just thought we may have been able to grow closer together, somehow.

Only seconds had gone by and I saw my boss pulling up in the glowing dawn of the morning. Before, he simply said, “Like she said, Shawn, she got the job.” Knowing that is all he would probably say again, today, at least I’ll get a nice lunch and a chance to thank the man.

“Good morning Shawn!” hollered Mr. Bruno, “Sleeping on the job?” “I am sorry, sir. I broke my key in the lock.” I stood and removed the broken piece from the lock and he unlocked it. “Just there for a second I bet you thought my daughter got another job,” chuckled Mr. Bruno, and it was hard not to laugh.

We went about our normal routine and my crew got a great deal of work done that day. Noon was approaching. I gave them the burritos and went to find Mr. Bruno. We made our way to a Deli and he got us both a couple of roast beef sandwiches with smoked parmesan and sautéed peppers. Good stuff.

“My apologies for my confusion, Mr. Bruno. Thank you for buying me lunch and, as always, I know you know I am grateful to be able to work for you.”

“I understand your confusion. Mallen wrote a letter for me to read to you when I mentioned you showed concern.”

Mr. Bruno read the letter to me and it was mostly about being career oriented, human dominance and all. She said I was a nice, hard-working fellow and was sure I would find the right woman, eventually. She would be working two jobs for a few weeks and then for the airport on a longterm basis if all went well, that plenty of people seek leaders in the world, and we both are surely ‘doyens of our herds.’

“So she did not think I was moving to fast or not fast enough or that I was cheating on her or anything. This abrupt separation was solely career oriented and had mostly to do with us both being headstrong.”

“I think that about sums it up,” said Mr. Bruno, “And I see you shaking in your boots there, fearless ‘doyen.'”

“How so?”

“Are you not concerned of your performance at work?”

“I planned to enquire nonchalantly.”

“Well, I want you to know that you are one of my best. Keep up the good work and you will have less and less to worry of. I gave you the promotion because of your good work and ability to lead others, to get the job done right and make our customers happy when the situation presented itself. Three weeks from now we are signing a new contract. You will be a part of it, just below the head foreman. As for Mallen I think she will be fine and appreciate your understanding. Everything okay?”

“Yes sir, Mr. Bruno and thank you.”

“No problem.”

We went back to work and all went well. A few weeks flew by and I was on the new jobsite in no time and we all did great. Two years went by and I moved up to foreman, and was responsible for over two hundred workers. I had put Mallen out of mind, completely, bought a small house not too far from the city, and all was well.

Then, I happened to see Mr. Bruno and his wife at the grocery store one evening when I went to get a frozen pizza. A world of words could have come from my mouth… the weather, work, anything, and I heard myself say, “So, how is Mallen?” I felt about as brilliant as a broken lightbulb at midnight. Mr. Bruno’s wife grinned and looked to Mr. Bruno. He said, “She worked six and seven days a week for 22 months for the airport and started her own business in our neighboring state. She would not even let me introduce her to anyone.”

Somehow relieved, I asked, “What kind of business did she start?”

Mr. Bruno said, “A construction firm.”

··· Post Story Relations ···

The story above is one I enjoyed writing. When reading about writing, we always hear, “Write what you know.” For me, I like to consider what I do not really know much about, research the topic, and go from there with character, setting, and plot development. This time, though, I went with something I am more familiar with. I may not have included very much fancy description and totally refrained from the absence of the passive voice and broke plenty of grammatical rules (hidden verbs included), however I thought the story was fun and hope you enjoyed reading it. I have always found it a difficult thing to write a story in the present while speaking about the past without the infamous passive voice. At least, I hope, it was fun.

I must mention, though, that I wrote this story from an idea from a writing prompt. The real story I submitted to here, was for the Your Story competition held every eight weeks or so by Writer’s Digest. I always check out the contest and read the winners, yet hardly ever make the time to enter. After all, I am working on another book. It is my first full-blown novel. It has been exciting so far, and I hope it will be fun to read for all ages, fantasy. The Your Story prompt this time really sent my thoughts into other universes. It was almost hard to believe that so few words could inspire so much possibility.

My first thought was to go with a discussion between lawyers, then a receptionist speaking with a disgruntled man, then many others. In the story I submitted, which was to be under 700 words, I stuck with dialogue only. After about 550 words I was done, even though I figured I would really have to trim down a first draft to enter. Surprise surprise. I probably could have been more eloquent with the use of our wonderful language – at least I sent them something. In case you have never heard of the word ‘doyen,’ I found it with a thesaurus. I knew it was a rare word for some, the next best thing to a neologism (like jobsite or colloquialisuhm).

As I am not as refined with dialogue stories as many and surely am not the leading master of this planet’s prose, I wanted to write out the story in a fun and rewarding way for my readers and myself as well. I like to use ‘he said’ and ‘she said;’ call me a third grader, but I dislike nothing more than dialogue which confuses the speakers only seven lines into a thirty some-odd line script we commonly see in best-selling novels.

So, I hope you read and enjoyed “Shawn Before Dawn”, and I also hope you take part in Writer’s Digest competitions such as their annual writing competitions and Your Story, no matter your skill level. I plan to become more involved in the world of literary appreciation/presentation, eventually, will die trying if I never meet my goals. I do appreciate you for reading and please, let me know if you entered the Your Story Competition or others. I love feedback and am always happy to hear of others’ attempts in regards to their efforts. 🙂

The Amazing Tale of Jen and Luke

Once upon a time there were two young children, Jen and Luke. Jen was in the 3rd grade, Luke in 4th. One day, upon entering a school bus to ride home after school, Luke was unable to find a place to sit in the bus. He walked up and down the entire aisle of the school bus, and no one had a place for him to sit. Luke looked up to the bus driver; she was checking out the various controls of the bus to safely depart.

“You can sit here with me,” said a small voice coming from behind Luke. Luke knew he could get in trouble for not being seated in the bus when it was ready to begin moving. He felt short on time. Luke turned to his right to see a precious young girl with brown hair in a white dress with pink and purple flowers on it, and he sat with her that day.

It was nice of Jen to let Luke sit with her, and he appreciated it. Jen was curious about 4th grade, and Luke told her all he could. During the next few weeks, Luke sat with Jen every day on the bus, and they got to know each other rather well.

Both children made exceptional grades and always finished their homework. Jen’s neighborhood was near Luke’s. The first school bus stop was not too far from their school, and nine children got off the bus there. Jen and Luke’s bus stops also both let off about nine children. Upon speaking of their parents, Jen and Luke realized that all four adults did not get off work until five, much less did they ever get home before then. Jen and Luke usually used this time to watch television or do home work or to take a nap.

“What if we get off at a different bus stop?” asked Jen. “That sounds like fun,” said Luke, “We could walk home together. I do not think it would be a big deal, so long as the bus driver did not notice.” “What if we ask her to keep it a secret?” asked Jen. “She could get in trouble,” said Luke. “As long as nothing happens to us,” said Jen, “I do not think anyone would know.”

The next day Jen and Luke spoke with the bus driver. She was not a school teacher, and everyone loved her. She had a great sense of humor. Their bus driver’s name was Ms. Elms. She was large and jolly, over 50 and still cool as hell. “We don’t want you to get into trouble,” said Luke. “Don’t worry,” said Ms. Elms, “If they catch us, we’ll just tell them you got off on the wrong stop by accident.” This idea amazed Jen. She was happy because she never really got to see certain parts of their city. “Don’t go through with this unless you promise you guys will walk home safely,” said Ms. Elms. “We’ll stay safe,” said Jen, and Luke knew he and his new buddy were in sure need of remembering to stay out of trouble.

That day (Tuesday) Jen and Luke got off at the first bus stop with other school children. They walked home, hand in hand, taking in the amazing scenery. Most of their trip entailed walking by businesses and safely crossing streets. When they eventually came to Jen’s neighborhood, Luke said, “That was pretty fun, and it is only 3:30 pm.” “I’ll still have plenty of time to do my homework,” said Jen. The two said their goodbyes and walked home safely.

The next day they nodded to the school bus driver and Luke gave her a green apple blow-pop when no one was paying attention. No one said anything; their secret was safe. All students seated and Jen and Luke able to speak, the bus was in motion. “I want to do it again,” said Jen. “Oh sure,” said Luke, “It was fun and we did not get caught. No harm done.” “On Tuesday,” said Jen. “Why the hurry?” asked Luke, “The shops in that part of town are not going anywhere, and we should not do it too often or we’ll surely get caught.”

“You are right,” said Jen, “Tuesday is a good day to walk together, though, because it is the one day our parents just don’t get home early. Also, there was something peculiar about the flower shop we walked by.” “That flower shop does arrangements for weddings and funerals, big expensive stuff,” said Luke, “I see their advertisements all over.” “Not that one,” said Jen, “The one that sells small gifts.” “Oh,” said Luke, “It did look interesting, now that I think about it. You mean the one with the baskets in the display window?” “Yes,” said Jen, “I want to go in there. It seems there may be a reason.” “Okay,” said Luke, and they both considered the next few days.

Friday evening, Luke asked his dad if he could do extra chores for some money. “What do you want the money for?” asked his dad. “I am not sure,” said Luke, “Maybe just to save or to buy a new book to read.” Luke knew this would be difficult, his dad would by him a book for doing chores in no time. “I know better,” said Luke’s father, “What’s her name?” Caught off guard, Luke said, “Jen. We are just close friends, but I want to get her something special.” “No problem,” said Luke’s Dad.

That weekend Luke cleaned the backyard for his dad and re-stacked a leaning woodpile. His dad gave him a twenty. He thanked his dad and promised to do well in school. On Monday, Jen and Luke spoke briefly with Ms. Elms, mentioning that they only wanted to get off the first bus stop on Tuesdays. Ms. Elms agreed to it, and Luke gave her another green apple blow pop. “Where do you get these?” asked Ms. Elms. “When I stay with my grandmother,” said Luke, “She gives me a 50 ct. sack of them for mowing her yard.” “Are they all the green ones?” she asked. “No,” said Luke, “There are purple one’s and pink ones, too, but I save the green ones, because there are fewer of them in the bag.”

Once seated, Luke and Jen spoke about school and their parents’ jobs and everything, made it home safely. Tuesday afternoon came and Luke and Jen got off at the first stop. They made their way to the small gift shop and went inside.

Full of fading shadows and small antics, the store was an amazing realm of splendor. Jen and Luke investigated the shelves – Luke noticed a row of dark blue vanilla-scented speckled candles with a small sign which said Homemade with Perfection. Jen was looking at a rack of post cards and noticed a small shelf with diaries. One caught her eye. Luke looked to the back of the small store and noticed a counter with a register. No one was there. “Let me get the diary for you,” whispered Luke. “It’s seven ninety-five,” said Jen, “Surely your lunch money cannot cover that?” “I did some chores over the weekend,” said Luke, “In case we found something here.” “Smart thinking,” said Jen, and she handed the diary to Luke. Luke looked at it and handed it back to her.

The two checked out most of the rest of the store on their way to the counter. Luke noticed a crystal pyramid up on a shelf behind the counter, nearly out of sight. The two children waited patiently in front of the register, and heard a woman’s voice ask, “May I help you?” She came from around the corner slowly, scooting in her rolling, thickly padded chair.

“We wanted to check this place out,” said Jen. “I would like to buy her the diary,” said Luke, thinking the vendor must be some kind of a mystic fortune-teller. “I happen to be a mystic fortune-teller,” said the nice old woman. Jen thought it was kind of funny but refrained from laughing out of respect. “And do you see anything you want for yourself?” asked teller. Her name was Ms. Starble. “No thank you,” said Luke, “Interesting candles.” “My nephew thinks he is going to conquer the world with their manufacture,” said the nice woman. “I suppose I may get one then,” said Luke, and he went back for a dark blue homemade vanilla candle with little glitter-specks of silver shavings.

While waiting on Luke, Jen asked about the crystal pyramid. “What is your young friend’s name?” asked Ms. Starble. “His name is Luke,” said Jen, “And my name is Jen.” Luke found a nice small candle and picked it up to make his way back to the counter. “Luke,” said Ms. Starble, “I am closing early today. Please, flip the ‘Open’ sign on the front door and turn its latch.” Luke did as instructed and brought the candle to the counter.

He handed the twenty to Ms. Starble. He meant business. Ms. Starble opened her register and printed out a receipt and handed the receipt, ten dollars, and some change to Luke. Luke kept the ten and the receipt and offered the coins to her. “You asked about the pyramid,” said Ms. Starble, “It is special.” “Is it for fortune-telling?” asked Luke. “Not really,” said Ms. Starble, “But it does posses an amount of magical power.”

“What can it do?” asked Jen. “Why?” asked Ms. Starble. “Just wondering,” said Jen. Luke gazed upon it and considered just how powerful it could really be. “It can be used for time travel,” said Ms. Starble. “Can we try it out?” asked Luke. “You will have to keep it a secret,” said Ms. Starble, “And you will also have to figure out how to get it down.” Jen laughed a little and Luke asked to come around the counter. The teller let him and he found a small step-ladder and got the crystal pyramid down.

The pyramid was ‘set’ in an old-wood, round frame and stained and polished with a  dark blue enamel. He placed it on the counter and the three humans stood above it, gazing upon its four lustrous sides. Jen and Luke looked to Ms. Starble. “Is there a reason you two would like to travel in time?” asked Ms. Starble. “What if we were grown ups,” said Jen, “So Luke and I could walk down the street together?” Ms. Starble laughed a little and looked to Luke. The pyramid amazed Luke, and he asked if it was even possible. Ms. Starble said it was and both children anxiously awaited the magic. Ms. Starble raised her arms high in the air and said, “Okay Mr. Hocus Pocas, Smooky Wooky Alakashzam!” and Luke and Jen vanished.

The Lunch Time Café was classy. Jen and Luke were sitting across from each other over garlic toast and iced water. They held a pleasant conversation over occupations in America. Their table was outside, and the day endured a hint of spring. Jen and Luke continued to share conversation, as any adult couple would, and their server came to them. Luke looked to Jen who said, “I have had a nice time.” “How much do I owe?” asked Luke, and the server said, “Compliments of the house, Mr. Strong.”

About that time Jen felt as though a spell was wearing off. She and Luke heard a man choking while sitting at a table inside the café. A man tried to give the choking man the Heimlick Maneuver, however it did not work and the man died. Jen and Luke looked to each other and the cloudy scene faded slowly.

Jen and Luke re-appeared before Ms. Starble who had fallen asleep on the counter. She came to and asked what they were doing. Jen laughed a little and Luke said, “We need you to lock us out. We must be going.” Ms. Starble locked them out and they returned home safely, before 4 pm.

Jen loved her new diary and wrote a few lines in it every night. Luke did not really know what to do with the candle and planned to give it to his dad for Father’s Day. Luke gave Ms. Elms a grape blow-pop on Thursday, and Jen and Luke discussed the death of the man at the café.

“Our time travel could have had something to do with whether we are meant to be together,” said Luke. “I think we already knew,” said Jen, “How could the man have died choking if he was not choking?” The two thought about it for a moment, and they decided he had an allergic reaction. “The peanuts,” said Jen, “He was eating peanuts just before he turned red and started choking.” “You’re right,” said Luke, “Maybe we can go back and save him.” “Who knows,” said Jen, “We will have to try to.”

Time flew by and it was Tuesday afternoon. Jen and Luke nodded to the bus driver as they got off at the first stop. The children made their way to see Ms. Starble. She was there and they tried to explain what happened. “We must go back,” requested Jen. “I am unsure that I fully understand your story,” said Ms. Starble. “Do you have something to write on?” asked Luke. “Sure,” said Ms. Starble, “How was the candle?” “I am going to save it to give it to my dad on Father’s Day.” “That way you have time to consider its origin?” asked Ms. Starble. “Possibly,” said Luke, knowing he may have a few things to consider.

Luke sketched out a picture of the café and thanked Ms. Starble for their first journey. It being a Tuesday, he happened to have a strawberry blow pop and offered it to Ms. Starble. She accepted the blow pop, and Jen and Luke explained the mysterious story of how a choking man died while he was still able to breathe. “You two must need to return there after all,” said Ms. Starble as she enjoyed her blow pop. “You may get the pyramid down,” she said to Luke, and he got it down and placed it on the counter. Ms. Starble said, “Okay Mr. Hokus Pokas! Can you please save-us a chokus!” and Jen and Luke vanished.

Once again, they sat across from each other at the table outside dressed casually. Luke raised his hand, getting the attention of his server. “How may I help you?” asked the server. “I do not think the man in there should eat those peanuts,” said Luke. “Why?” asked the server. “Please,” said Luke, “At least ask him if he possibly has a risk of an allergy.”

As the server looked to his right, he saw one of his fellow employees sitting a small platter of peanuts down in front of the large man. Jen and Luke’s server gave them the benefit of the doubt and spoke with the server setting the peanuts down. The large man’s server asked if he knew of any allergens he may have for peanuts. “That is none of your business,” said the large man. “Sir, we are not willing to offer peanuts with your meal if you are going to have an allergic reaction to them.” The man did not have much to say. They brought him toast instead.

Jen and Luke’s server came back to them. “How did you know?” asked the server. “Lucky guess,” said Luke, and Jen smiled upon him. The scene faded and Jen and Luke appeared before Ms. Starble. She was awake and waiting to hear what the children had to say. “He made it,” said Jen, “The man was not allowed to eat the peanuts.” Jen and Luke thanked Ms. Starble, and the children made their way home.

Jen and Luke decided to get off at the right bus stop for a while, and they only went to see Ms. Starble on rare occasion. They grew up together, making good grades and enduring healthy relationships. She became a nurse and a concert violinist, and he became an architect. The Strongs raised four beautiful children, and everyone lived happily ever after.