Eagles soar

Here we are at Week 9 for the prompt at More Odds than Ends. Wow. Over two months of writing prompts. I’m pretty impressed with my consistency. I’m also impressed with my own writing. This week’s prompt came from Kat Ross. It was this:

Like I said with last week’s prompt, who knew I could write? Anyway, this piece is short, but came “straight from the heart” as they say. My parents are buried in Washington Crossing National Cemetery in Newtown, Pennsylvania. It is indeed, about two miles from the actual national park where Washington launched the boats into the ice of the Delaware River heading for Trenton and a Christmas surprise for the British and Hessians.

Eagles Soar

Standing on the Pennsylvania side looking out over the Delaware River, I tried to imagine what it looked like that Christmas night almost 300 years ago when Washington snuck up on the British forces in Trenton. I stared up at the clear blue sky thinking how pleased Dad would be to know that this was his final resting place. Washington Crossing National Cemetery is about two miles from the spot where Washington did indeed cross the Delaware River. As a former Army major and history buff, Dad had a deep appreciation for the history of this country.

As I stared into the sky, remembering and mourning, a distant speck on the horizon grew bigger. As the dark speck in the sky came closer, I saw a lone bald eagle soaring above the river. It banked and headed in the general direction of the cemetery behind me.

Mike put his arm around me, and we turned to head back to the car.

“I miss you, Pop. Love you.” I whispered. Mike squeezed my shoulder.


Thanks for reading.

Photo by Becky Jones: Delaware River at Washington’s Crossing

More Odds Than Ends Prompt – Week 8

It’s Week 8 of the More Odds than Ends prompts. Being a part of these eight weeks of prompts has been a voyage of self-discovery for me. Who knew I had the ability to write stories? Not me! I am having so much fin with these prompts and this new path for me.

So, here for your reading pleasure is my contribution to the Week 8 prompts. I got my prompt from Sanford Begley: Guy buys a funny looking fish tank at ye old curiosity shop. Takes it home and fills it with water. When it shows no signs of leaking he goes out and buys some goldfish. Comes home and sees the bottom of the tank brighter and more decorated. assumes that the water washed enough dust off to account for the change. Dumps the fish in and sits down with a cup of coffee. Kerplunk, something splashes his coffee. Looks down and there is an unhappy goldfish looking back. Glances up at the tank and sees another goldfish loaded in a catapult…


Mark backed up a couple steps and looked carefully in the window of the vintage thrift shop. Yep, it was a fish tank. Looked kinda funky, with an odd sheen to the glass even under a coating of dust. Assuming it didn’t leak, it would be the perfect addition to his living room. Low maintenance, stress-relieving, very little extra work. He considered fish to be the perfect pets.

The bell jangled as he pushed open the door and walked into the shop. An old man, unkempt white hair billowing around his head, scurried in from the back.

“Good afternoon, sir! May I help you find something?” His voice was at the high end of the scale, but not unbearable.

“Good afternoon. Yes, please. How much is that fish tank over there?” Mark had hoped to get a closer look before committing, but that was not to be apparently.

“Oh, well. Yes, that’s a nice piece. It’s 25 dollars, sir. Are you planning on using it as a fish tank? I do not have any of the equipment for that…” the old gentleman trailed off looking a bit uneasy.

“That’s fine. I have all of that. I’ll take the tank.”

“Very well, sir. May I recommend that you let it sit with water for a few days before adding any fish? There may be some reactions once it’s been cleaned out.” The old man stared at him intently.

Mark nodded, but he was puzzled. What kind of reactions could glass have with water? It was a perfectly ordinary looking fish tank. It did have that odd sheen to the glass, but that was probably just because it was old.

Once back at home, Mark rinsed and cleaned the tank in the laundry room sink. He placed it on the kitchen table on top of a couple of old dish towels. If it leaked, it wouldn’t cause any problems. He filled it with water and left for his midday shift at the restaurant.

After a busy and stressful shift, damn, it’s a diner, not a Michelin 5-star restaurant! Why do people have to be so picky?, he finally got home at midnight. A glow caught his eye before he turned on the light as he walked in the front door. It was coming from the laundry room. What’s that?  

Mark walked into the laundry room to check on the fish tank. The cleaning had obviously done it some good; the glass was clear and the odd sheen was even brighter, and made the whole tank glow with suffused colors. He rinsed out the water wiped it down and added more water. So far, no leaking, but he’d see what things looked like in the morning. Just for fun, he added in the castle and a couple of fake plants he’d bought to decorate the tank for its future occupants.

The next day he decided it was safe to use the tank and went out to buy some goldfish. He was looking forward to setting up the tank and enjoying the peaceful experience of watching his fish.

Returning home, he put the baggie with the fish in it into the kitchen sink and went to fetch the tank out of the laundry room. Wait a minute. Did that castle have shiny gold paint on it? He shrugged. Must not have noticed it before. He carried the full tank into the living room, set up the aerator and went to get the goldfish. After he introduced the goldfish to their new home, he sat down with a cup of coffee to enjoy the serenity.


Coffee splashed out of his cup and onto his shirt. Jumping up, he was startled to see a struggling goldfish in the hot coffee. He quickly scooped the poor thing out and dumped it into a glass of water he’d left on the coffee table earlier. He turned back to the fish tank and saw a small catapult. Standing next to the catapult, holding a struggling goldfish was something that looked like…a sea monkey?? Those aren’t real!?!

The creature turned and stared at him as it heaved the second goldfish into the bucket of the catapult. Another one was winding back the arm of the catapult. Where the hell did they come from?

“Wait! I’ll take the fish out! Don’t hurt them!” Mark wasn’t sure why he was so worried about the goldfish, but he didn’t really want any more fish flying around the living room. He grabbed the small net and fished out the remaining two goldfish and added them to the water glass. The first sea monkey nodded once and the two creatures disappeared back into the castle.

Mark shook his head, staring at the seemingly empty fish tank. I’ll figure it out later. He looked at the three fish in the water glass.

“OK, guys. Sorry about that. Let’s go look for that old fishbowl and I’ll get you a new tank…from the pet store…in the morning.” Was it his imagination, or did the fish look grateful?


Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Socialism vs. social democracy

Every now and then, the PhD in political science comes in handy. By that I mean, I’ve read some really boring, esoteric, random stuff that goes into a great deal of detail on just about every obscure political thing you can think of. In my master’s program, I took a class on Marx. An entire semester. Read everything the man wrote. All of it. Taught by a Marxist feminist. So, I have a pretty good idea of what his ideas were and where they end up when taken to their logical conclusion.

I’ve also read a whole lot about a bunch of different regime types and ideologies. Liberal democracy, social democracy, electoral democracy, authoritarian dictatorships, fascism, feminism, communism, socialism, gawd…the list goes on and on.

All of this brings me to my main argument here today. Namely, democratic socialism and social democracy ARE NOT THE SAME THING!!

Wait, you say. Yes, they are! I saw a Facebook meme that clearly states that democratic socialism is just wanting all those things we pay for with taxes. Just like the Scandinavian countries do.

No! No it is not! They are most definitely not the same.

*deep breath*. OK, first we go back to Marx. He of the complete lack of understanding of human nature and nationalism. And, bad economic ideas. Marx had essentially a three-step process for moving from capitalism to communism.

  1. Capitalism would build the industrial base for the modernization of the economy and the increasing wealth of society. But, (as he was observing the Industrial Revolution in London), this would result in a great deal of inequality and the bourgeoisie who owned the means of production (businesses) would get wealthier while their employees (workers) would not move up or get poorer. Eventually, the workers would revolt against the bourgeoisie and this would lead to…
  2. Socialism. In socialism (and here’s the important bit folks), the state (government) would now own the means of production (businesses) and provide regulations regarding the economy including wages, prices, production, conditions, etc. Private property (homes, etc) would still be allowed under the socialism phase. Eventually, the state, having regulated everything and created equality among all citizens, would “wither away” leading to…
  3. Communism. In this phase all property and all business would be owned by all citizens in common (the state). No private property, no privately owned businesses. Everybody would contribute to and receive all from the state. “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”

I’ll tackle the idea of communism and it’s failure to take human nature into account in a later post. What I want to focus on here, is the “democratic socialism equals social democracy” foolishness.

The Scandinavian countries are social democracies. In other words, they are capitalist democracies that tax at a high rate in order to provide a generous social safety net for their citizens. They are most emphatically NOT democratic socialist governments. These governments do not own all businesses or have planned economies. They rely on private businesses to provide the lions share of taxes (IKEA is not a Swedish government owned business, but it is a big source of tax revenue for them). This is such a misunderstanding in the United States that in 2016 the Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen felt the need to clarify things in an address to Harvard University.

“I know that some people in the US associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism. Therefore I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy,” Rasmussen said.

(emphasis added)

Catch that? “…far from a socialist planned economy.” They are market economies. Capitalist. That’s the difference and it’s the “planned” bit that gives most people the hives. Still unsure? Still think it might be a good idea to give this system a go? Run this thought experiment. Think about the last interaction you had with a government official. The DMV? Tax authorities? Paying a parking ticket? Now, imagine that individual and all his/her co-workers making economic decisions for the entire country. Wages, prices, output, imports, exports, tax rates, licensing requirements (wait…some of them already do that), product type and manufacture, product providers, employment decisions. All of it made by that person at the DMV/IRS/city office wherever. That’s socialism. And that’s socialism whether you call it democratic socialism, or just socialism.

As Mr. Rasmussen said, the Scandinavian countries are market economies. They are capitalist in nature. They provide generous social benefits. They are not socialIST.

So for the love of all that’s good, right, and bright in this world, stop conflating these terms. Bernie Sanders is a socialist. He wants the state to closely control the economy. For the end result of this idea, please see Venezuela for reference. Most Democratic voters believe that means he’s in favor of social democracy. Based on what I’ve read, he’s not. And, near as I can tell, none of the other Democratic candidates have figured that out.

This has been bugging me for a while now. Thank you for reading. We now return you to your regularly scheduled orneriness.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Week 7 prompt

Over at More Odds Than Ends, it’s the Week 7 writing prompt challenge. This week my prompt was a photo which you can see over there. My brain is a bit fried from a very weird and stressful week at work, but this is what I came up with.


“Mama, who’s this in the picture with Tío Joaquín?”
“Ah, that is his best friend Guillermo.”
“No, I mean others.”
“What others? There’s only Tío Joaquín and Guillermo.” Mamá sounded puzzled.
“Mira, Mamá, there’s a small boy, but it’s not me, and there’s somebody in a devil mask.” Adalberto glanced at his mother. Didn’t she see the other two in the photo?
Elena stared at her son. “Míjo, you can see them?” Her voice was barely above a whisper.
“Sí, Mamá. What’s going on?”
Elena took a deep breath. If Adalberto could see the other two, she had to explain the young angel and the devil he’d defeated.


If you are at all interested, please do go over and check out the prompts. There are always spare prompts if you haven’t sent one in, and it would be great to see the group grow!

Image by Günther Simmermacher from Pixabay


That’s a word invented by Burke Breathed the creator of Bloom County. Some people are just super easy to offend. They’re just looking to be offended. They are also usually extremely clueless and lacking self-awareness. They have a great deal of offensensitivity and excel in looking for and finding offense in almost everyone and everything they encounter. These individuals often post quotes and memes that are designed to show that they “know” what is going on in the world. They are aware and are on to the rest of us. They’re not going to be fooled. What they fail to recognize is that they may in fact be describing themselves and their refusal to see any other arguments. One of my FB friends, who also happens to be an old high school friend, posted a quote/meme from George Orwell:

The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.

I know the political leanings of this friend so I know that this was meant to be a dig at Trump and Republicans. I pointed out that perhaps they should consider that they are the ones hating those who speak the truth, rather than those speaking the truth. Of course, I immediately got challenged. Surprisingly for me, I remained calm and simply pointed out that perhaps they were the ones not listening. I was told that was not possible because “everyone knows” that Trump never speaks the truth. Ah. OK, then.

Stupidly perhaps, I then said, well, being trained in counter-factuals or what-ifs, I was simply pointing out the danger of assuming that you are not the one doing the hating of truth tellers. I’m now being challenged with the usual “well, I guess I’m just stupid, so please, do enlighten me, I’m not trained” extremely sarcastic and over the top language designed to goad. I’ve decided not to respond since seriously, if you can’t figure out what is meant by a “what-if scenario” then you really are refusing to listen, and yes you are the one doing the hating.

I have become so much better over the last few years at ignoring the inflammatory on FB, but sometimes it’s so over-the-top that I simply can’t help myself. I need to quit doing that. It’s not that I’m afraid to lose friends (I haven’t seen most of thees folks in decades and got along fine before they reentered my life via FB.). It’s that I simply don’t want to expend the energy engaged in all things political. I need to spend energy on school/work stuff and I want to spend energy on writing. Getting caught up in ridiculous arguments on social media is simply a colossal waste of time. Nobody really wants to engage in any type of discussion, they simply want to inform you of how stupid and unenlightened you are. Clearly, I know this and yet I still manage to ignore that small voice in my head that says, no let it go, and engage. I gotta figure out a way to make that voice louder.

So, in the end, I will not be returning to that thread. Let them think I don’t have an answer, let my former high school friend unfriend me. It’s immaterial at this point. I’m gong to continue to post those things I find to be interesting or funny or poignant and that’s the end of that.

Pretty good self-assessment if I do say so myself (see what I did there? didja? Huh? Huh?) Anyway, paying attention to what I tell myself and avoiding self-induced stress (arguing with people on FB is the definition of self-induced stress!) will lead to a happier, healthier me.

So, go figure out what you want to spend energy on. Make sure it’s something that makes you happy and not stressed out. My totally obvious words of wisdom for this week.

Image by MoteOo from Pixabay

Breaking Curses

Once again it’s prompt time from More Odds than Ends. This week’s prompt allowed me to continue my story about Jack and his run-ins with cursed dolls. I like where this is going and I’m getting an idea for a book and maybe even a series. We’ll see. Let me know what you think.

Week 6 prompt: I was sitting at my kitchen table when I heard a knock on the door. I looked out the window, but no one was there. When I opened the door I saw…

Breaking Curses

The knock at the door came just as Jack was raising what he considered to be a well-earned cup of tea to his lips. He took a sip, and sighing, set down the cup. The knock had come from the front door, not the outside door of his home office, so it was probably just a delivery, but still…I just wanted an uninterrupted ten minutes to enjoy my tea.

He glanced out the kitchen window which allowed a partial view of the front porch. There was nobody there. Huh. Hope they just left the package and it’s not another dog carrying a cursed doll.

Last week had been interesting. The arrival of a (very friendly) dog carrying a doll that turned out to be a woman cursed by a cranky witch, had caused him to rearrange most of his calendar. He’d been looking forward to this week which had a more normal, and even a bit lighter, appointment schedule.

But, working as a free-lance curse-breaker meant you couldn’t really set hours too much. Jack sighed again. Let’s go see what this package is. I don’t remember what I ordered.

He walked to the front door and opened it. Looking down, expecting to see a Mage Express package, he was not prepared for another doll. A Barbie doll. This time backed up by a small Yorkshire terrier. The doll was almost the same size as the Yorkie. How the hell did such a small dog manage to carry that doll?

More importantly, what the hell was going on? One cursed doll every six months or so was normal. Two in one week?

He bent down and carefully picked up the doll. “Come on,” he said to the Yorkie who was whining and looking anxious. The dog followed him into the house.

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay


Week 5 of More Odds than Ends writing prompts. If you would like to join in (please do! The more the merrier!) just go to More Odds Than Ends and read through the first post for the rules.

My prompt was: You hear a strange tap, tap, tapping at your door. When you open the door to see what is out there, there is a doll standing there, arm raised…


The sound of the stuttered tapping at the door cut through Jack’s concentration. Slightly annoyed he looked up at the clock. Almost six o’clock in the evening. There were no more appointments today. Who was at the door? Sighing heavily, he stood up and walked across the small office to the outer door.

Working from home had its advantages in terms of commutes. Going through the interior door put him in the living room of his house. Ten steps from his desk to the door and he was home. So, it wasn’t as if this late visitor was going to cause him to get home at some ungodly hour. He reminded himself to be grateful and opened the outer door.

A whine and half bark greeted him and directed his gaze downward. A black and white pitbull-lab mix dog was at the door, sitting behind a doll. The doll was standing in front of the door with one arm raised as if it had knocked. Jack looked around and saw no-one else. The dog whined again and gently picked up the doll in its mouth and trotted into the office.

“Hey, wait. Where are you going?” Jack sighed once more. It was clearly going to be one of those evenings. He followed the dog back into the office.

The dog carefully set the doll back on its feet again, arm still raised, and looked up expectantly at Jack. It looked back down at the doll and nudged it toward Jack, pushing the arm that was at the doll’s side. It was then that Jack noticed the small piece of paper in the doll’s hand. He sat down on the floor next to the doll and carefully pulled the piece of paper out of its hand. The dog’s tail wagged briefly while it continued to gaze at Jack.

The cramped, awkward hand-writing was difficult to read at first. It was as if a small child was writing with a pen that was about three sizes too big for their hand.

I’ve been cursed and forced into this doll. I know that you are a specialist in curse reversal and I’m hoping you can help. I can only move and speak when no-one is around. Apparently, Max (my dog) doesn’t count as “anybody”. Fortunately for me, he’s trained as a guide dog and brought me here. He probably needs some food and water at this point.

Thank you,
Renee Detweiler

Jack ran a hand through his hair. Great. Somebody else pissed off some cranky witch and got themselves stuffed into a doll. He looked at the doll.

“OK. Yes, I can help. But this is not going to be easy.”

Max whined again and picked up the doll, pushing it into Jack’s hand.

Thanks for reading! Please do click on the links above if you’re interested in stretching your imagination and writing skills!

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Brexit, the End Times, & being honest with yourself

So Brexit (the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union) became official at 11pm UK time last night. Shockingly, the rest of the world, including the rest of the EU, did not stop turning. Life went on. Yes, there are a number of details that will have to be hashed out, and trade agreements etc. will need to be revisited, revised, and reissued. However, all of these things are activities that happen every day all around the world. Countries are always revisiting such agreements and updating them to take into account changing circumstances. Nothing new there.

I texted my brother this morning (he lives in Ireland) and received confirmation that the sun rose and the sky did not fall, contrary to the dire predictions coming out of the EU and Remainers in the UK. Boris Johnson gave what I consider to be a good speech on this historic moment. You can watch that here and judge for yourself. Contrary to a large portion of media generated opinion Johnson is not the buffoon they portray him to be (OK, so he needs to figure out a new haircut, but that is not indicative of intelligence or political savvy). And, now, most importantly, he’s delivered on his promises. That delivery stands in stark contrast to David Cameron and Theresa May. The virulent rhetoric coming out of the EU also suggests to me that that body stands to lose more from the exit of the UK than the UK does by exiting. It will be educational and interesting to see how this all plays out.

As Johnson noted in his speech, there will be bumps in the road ahead. Some of them will appear to be large and scary. But moving forward is the only way you get anywhere. To borrow a mantra from the Marines, improvise, adapt, overcome. Here in the U.S. we are seeing something similar. The loud wailing and gnashing of teeth from the left regarding the expected acquittal vote in the Senate on Trump’s impeachment is because they see their control over US politics and culture slipping. They are lashing out in an effort to scare the public back in line and silence those who are publicly pointing out their flaws. The heated and violent-filled rhetoric says more about the speakers than it does about those to whom it is directed.

The same goes here in the US. The impeachment was not the answer. The Senate trial is not the end of the world. In fact I argue that the entire process was far more harmful than anything else the Democrats in Congress could have dreamt up. The screams about shredding the Constitution are a diversion from their own attempts to do just that. Do not buy the rhetoric. If you dislike and disagree with Trump. Find a viable presidential candidate and vote for that person. Honestly, right now, contra all public assertions in support of diversity, etc. the Democratic field is a swath of nothing but old, white candidates. Think about that contrast for a moment. There are rumors that the super-delegates in the D party hierarchy will be persuaded to cut out Sanders (who’s ahead as of today) and replace him with Clinton. If you want instructions on how to destroy your own political party there are no better examples than the Democrats in the US and Labour in the UK. Good luck with that.

You know, in 2016 I was relieved that Hillary lost but I was very uncertain what it would mean to have a Trump presidency. Now, I find myself happy with the outcome and ready to vote for him this year. That is heresy to many people. But, I will remind everybody, that you can only be a heretic if you are going against the teachings of a church you belong to. I never belonged to this current socialist vision of how things should be. So, I cannot be a heretic. Rabble-rouser, rebel against the prevailing norms, yes. Heretic no. Politics is not and should not be a religion.

Every belief should be questioned, examined, and analyzed. If, despite the flaws you find, you still find that belief to be the best for you, good. You have thoroughly accepted it despite its flaws. If, on the other hand, you refuse to examine your beliefs, spend a great deal of time shouting them at people who question you and them, and generally stick your fingers in your ears chanting “la la la I can’t hear you” then you are spouting things that deep in the center of your being you know to be flawed and perhaps even downright wrong. Yet for a variety of reasons (social acceptance, fear of thinking for yourself, dislike of personal responsibility) you refuse to disavow those beliefs. In doing this, you are a hypocrite.

Intelligent, honest critical thinkers have no fear of examining even strongly held beliefs. They understand the risks to their belief system but prefer the honesty.

Be analytical, think critically, and be honest with yourself.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay