The Group

Our leader, Jess, and some of the students on the Belize mission trip, an early highlight.

What Sort of Year has it Been?

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Most years, as I look back, it has been a sequence of events without an overarching theme. This year, of course, has been unusually awful thanks to the toxic combination of a global pandemic and the partisan divide during an election year. So, of course, it’s a leap year prolonging the suffering.

’ll be honest and admit that Deb and I were handling it fine since the March confinement. Deb has been working out of the house for many years so just misses being on the road and interacting with customers. But, she’s used to video conferences and telecommuting. I’ve been home often enough to embrace being at my desk, music playing, coffee steaming.

The spring conversion to online learning may not have been elegant and it was quick. We got the word on Friday the 13th and as of the 18th, we were back to teaching. I learned to use Google Classroom and managed a higher rate of work completion from the students. I did miss working with them and was disappointed at how few showed up for my daily video hour.

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From spirit week, you can see some students on screen while others were before me.

Asynchronous may have allowed the learning to continue, but neither teacher nor student was necessarily satisfied. I was, therefore, delighted to hear that the new school year would at least be hybrid, allowing me to welcome the incoming freshmen in person. While we’ve been very fortunate at not welcoming Covid-19 into our building, it has also robbed the faculty from really getting to know our students, especially the half who are fully online.

And the year was starting off so promisingly….

I kicked off 2020 by accompanying students on their mission trip to Belize. It was a wonderful experience on many levels.

We managed two weekend getaways with friends before such travel was prohibited, so we’re happy to have those memories. Heck, I even attended a con in February. Remember cons? I miss being in person. After the lockdown, we managed one week away, in a remote cabin in West Virginia, something we booked prior to the pandemic.

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Stuck at home, we have watched a lot of television and thankfully the various streaming services have offered us tremendous variety. I asked for recommendations and was flooded with suggestions, stuff we heard of, and many new to us. We have sampled several, stuck with most of them, so that’s a good batting average. There’s been new series and miniseries and films we’ve enjoyed, easily outweighing the disappointments. Consider ourselves enlightened and entertained.

It was a year of gains. In June, we rescued Albert, a 10-year old miniature pinscher. The thinking was we’d have a companion for Harley, especially after Deb returned to the road. We didn’t expect Harley to grow territorial and fight with Albert. They coexist just fine on their walks, but clearly we’re Harley’s humans and it’s his home. We’re working on it. The other gain was I was somehow elected president of my HOA after serving on it for four years. I’m not sure we’ve been busier with issues, so it has definitely taken up some time.

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A work in progress but you get the idea with videos on the left, books alkong the back, and the right room for growth and Deb’s stuff.

We gained 272 linear feet of bookcases as we finally finished our loft. I have spent a portion of my Christmas break organizing. First were the DVDs and then I turned to the books. As you can see, there’s plenty of room for growth, which thrills me.

It was a year of losses. Deb’s mom passed away in May and we couldn’t gather to bury her ashes until late October. Thankfully, we zoomed with her on her 85th birthday. While others in our worlds contracted Covid-19, we’re pleased none passed away. But cancer came calling and took our dear friend Dave Galanter, just a few weeks ago and his absence is keenly felt. While many a celebrity and sports figure passed away in the natural order of things, each one seemed magnified in this year of awful. No wonder a record eight Baseball Hall of Famers passed away in 2020.

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I certainly took advantage of being home with some extra time, allowing me to produce or edit new material. I had stories published in Bad Ass Moms and Pangaea III from Crazy 8 Press along with writing the Dreadstar Handbook for Ominous Press, due out in a few months. And while The Flash: 100 Greatest Moments was delayed a season by the pandemic, it arrived in October, look pretty spiffy. Of course, the big writing project, Children of Tomorrow was born in the late winter, was written in the late spring, and saw print in mid-fall—perhaps the fastest book project I’ve ever worked on.

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Editorially, I worked on Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021¸which successfully was funded via Kickstarter in the fall. The last pieces are coming together and will be off to design on schedule and should be out in late February, even without a physical Farpoint to show it off at. I also was invited to coedit Turned the Tied, an anthology of stories featuring public domain characters from the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. I have happily worked alongside Jean Rabe, who I didn’t really know prior to this. I managed to write a story for this book, too.

In addition, I continue to consult for DC Comics’ International department have written numerous reviews for ComicMix, and the occasional intro.

While the world has been twisted almost beyond recognition, things here at the house are an oasis of (mostly) calm. We have our health, we’re employed, we couldn’t celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary as planned, but remain side-by-side, looking forward to a brighter future.

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