A new chapter

So, I went and did it. I officially resigned my faculty position. As of June 30 I will be a former professor. I’ll still be ornery, never fear. Now, a new chapter opens up in front of me. For a few years I’ve been picking at the corner of the page and peering under it in an effort to get some idea of how it’s going to go. Last year, I finally realized that that method was not going to work, nor would I be doing myself any favors. The only way to find out how the next chapter goes is to fully turn the page and dive in. So, last week I did just that.

I’ve received a lot of support from friends and family. I even got a comment from a colleague that he envies me my decision. I can only think that he, like many of us, is caught in the trap that there are “practical” ways to make a living and that things like writing are not “practical”. Maybe he has another idea for himself, I don’t know. But, I hope that his upcoming sabbatical gives him the opportunity to figure it out.

There are a couple of things I have to finish up, including cleaning out my office. But, right now, I have all the time in the world to write (I should probably stay off of Facebook…yeah). I’m working on creating a daily schedule that takes care of the physical chores as well as the writing and writing-related chores. I think I’m close. Now, I just have to create a routine. And remember that I need to work on different things simultaneously. I kind of had to do that between class prep and research, but this is different, and much more creative. So, I’m trying to mix things up so that I can let ideas that are blocked rattle around in my brain while I do household chores. So far, that seems to be working.

Now that the news is out in the open, I’m going to be posting a lot more on here (both because of fewer time constraints and fewer work constraints). I’m going to be cross-linking between here, Instagram, and Facebook as well (we’ll see how long it takes me to get bumped off of one of those…)

Keep an eye out for book announcements and other fun projects.

Enjoy your weekend!

Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay

Good vibrations

As the shutdown grinds on, I am finding more and more impetus for writing. Of course, it helps that the semester is over and I have time now. Week 21 of More Odds Than Ends promises to give us interesting stories. Mike Barker (again) got the prompt I sent in: You come home from a long day at work and plop down on the couch with a beer. The cat looks up and says, “Hey, can I have one too?” My prompt this week came from Cedar Sanderson: The vibrations of the plucked notes ring through flesh and bone. I had to let this percolate for a while before something came to me. And, what showed up was another vignette in what appears to be an ongoing story of the freelance curse-breaker Jack McKnight.


They stared at the object on the porch. Jack swore under his breath as he stared at the doll figurine that contained his brother-in-law, his wife, and their daughter. The dogs whined as Captain tried to comfort them.

Monica took a deep breath and looked up at Jack. “Honey? Jack? What are we going to do?” Her eyes were shiny with tears.

“I’m not sure yet. But I promise you. We’ll get them out safely. I promise.” He pulled her close and kissed the top of her head.

Monica nodded. She bent down, carefully picked up the figurine and walked into the house. The big Newfoundland and small Chihuahua gave identical brief wags of their tails while Captain gazed at Jack.

“I know boy. I know. We’ll figure it out. We will.” He knew he was trying to convince himself more than the big German Shepherd. He waved at all three dogs.

“Come on, guys. Let’s get you some food and water while we work on this puzzle.” Captain bumped noses with Bruno, the Newfie, and bent down to do the same to Ralphie, the brown Chihuahua. They all trailed behind Jack as he went back into the house and headed for the kitchen.

A couple of hours later, Jack looked up from his books and papers. He rubbed his hands across his face and sat back in the chair. That just might work…Monica will have to play the music, but it just might work.

He stood up and stretched. Captain got up from the dog bed in the corner of Jack’s office. Jack picked up the book he had been reading and opened the door that led into the main part of the house. Monica was sitting in the living room watching TV. Or at least, the TV was on and Monica was sitting on the sofa. Ralphie was curled up in her lap, and Bruno lay on the cushions next to her. The figurine stood on the coffee table in front of them. Monica looked up as Jack came in.

“I think I’ve got something, honey,” Jack sat down next to her and gave Ralphie a pat on the head. Captain sat at Jack’s feet.

“What? Can I help?” Monica asked.

“Yes. In fact, you’ll have to do most of the work since you’re the musician in this family,” he smiled, trying to soothe her fears.

“What? What do you mean?” She sat up and looked at him.

“I’ve been digging around. After what happened before…” He looked down at Captain and gave him a pat. “I wanted to see if there was another way to undo a curse like this. I found something. It’s music. That’s where you come in. I need you to play some very precise measures on your violin. And, not with the bow. They have to be plucked notes.”

“What? Sorry. This is a lot to take in. What do you mean precise measures?”

“Well, there are very specific instructions in one text. It doesn’t look complicated, but it’s precise. Here, I’ll show you,” he opened the book and passed it over to Monica.

She stared down at the page he indicated. “Yeah, you’re right. That’s not that complicated. I can do that.” She gazed up at him. “Do you really think it will work?”

“Yes, I do. I really do,” he answered softly.

“Okay. Let’s do this.” She gently picked up Ralphie and put him on the cushion next to Bruno and stood up.

She came back into the living room carrying her violin. “Give me the book. I need to see the music.”

Jack passed the book over and moved to set up the working circle. He carefully picked up the figurine and put it in the center of the circle.

Turning to the dogs, he said, “I need you guys to stay there on the couch. Captain, you, too. Get up there.” Captain cocked his head but turned and jumped up onto the sofa. “Good boys.”

He looked over at Monica. “Are you ready, babe?”

“Yeah. Let’s just start.”

“Okay. Start playing.”

Hesitantly at first, but with greater confidence, the notes flowed from Monica’s violin. Jack stepped in to the circle and walked counter-clockwise around the figurine, starting at North and pausing to mark each point of the compass. As he returned to North, the music reached a crescendo and the air grew hazy around the figurine.

Monica kept playing and Jack repeated his circuit. The second time he reached North the haze over the figurine was thicker and there seemed to be movement within the haze. Monica reached the final crescendo and brought the music to an abrupt stop. Jack held his breath.

The haze seemed to shiver and coalesce before suddenly breaking apart to reveal three people standing together in the pose created by the figurine. They stared around like people coming out of a dream.

Jack quickly scuffed a break in the circle as Monica dropped the violin onto a chair and started toward the little group.

“Uncle Jack? What happened?” Sophie gazed up at him. A loud woof sounded from the sofa as Bruno jumped off and dashed over to Sophie, slobbering all over her. She giggled and hugged the big dog around the neck. Ralphie was close on his heels and jumped into the arms of Julia, Monica’s sister-in-law, yapping and furiously licking her face.

“What the hell happened?” Rob, Monica’s brother, looked between Jack and Monica. “I could feel music, literally feel it, vibrating in my bones. What did you do?”

Monica gave him a hug. “Just freed you from a curse. No big deal,” she laughed in relief.


Need some inspiration for your writing? Or want to try your hand at writing? Head on over to More Odds Than Ends. Responses can be long or short or visual…whatever you come up with. Didn’t send in a prompt? There are always spares from which you can pick and choose. The key is to have fun!

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

The beach fixes everything

Prompt time! This is Week 20 of Odd Prompts. This one comes from my own wanderings on the Oregon coast thanks to a friend of mine who owns a house in a small town out there. Sadly, due to the Wuhan flu madness we won’t be able to get to Oregon this year so I will miss my beach wanderings. Sigh.

My prompt came from Mike Barker: When she held the seashell to her ear, first she heard the crashing waves, then the songs the mermaids sing, and then… a timid little voice said, “Mommy? I want to go home now?”

The prompt I sent went to Kat Ross.

The Beach Fixes Everything

The waves crashed against the beach and Maria sighed with happiness. She loved the beach. The sound of the waves was soothing, the far distant horizon promised unending adventure (even if she didn’t venture over it), and the cool water washing over her feet smoothed away all her worries, stress, and fears.

She wandered down the beach watching her footprints appear and disappear in the wet sand. Tiny, glass-like jellyfish were scattered about and she was careful not to step on any of them although she was pretty sure they just oozed further into the sand if she did. Every now and then she paused in her wanderings and bent down to pick up a particularly interesting shell or rock. Once in a while she was lucky enough to find a piece of sea glass to add to her collection.

It wasn’t a particularly sunny day, so there were not a lot of people out. Locals and their dogs were almost permanent fixtures, but the tourists were more likely to be in town wandering through the shops. Maria felt incredibly grateful that she was able to make this trip once a year. If not for the generosity of her friend Sinead it would not be possible. Sinead owned a house in this small coastal town, a house she planned on retiring to one day, and Sinead let Maria stay in the house when she came out to the coast.

She continued on down the beach kicking the water as she walked and getting lost in the sound of the waves. A white bump in the darker, damp sand ahead of her signaled a buried shell and she altered her wandering path to dig it up. It turned out to be a giant conch shell, unusual for this area. In a burst of whimsy, she held the shell up to her ear listening for the distant sound of the ocean.

As she listened and drifted away on the soothing sounds in the shell, she fancied she heard mermaids singing in the sighing of the ocean. Entranced, she gazed out at line where the sky met the ocean and simply listened. A small tug on her hand interrupted her musings.

“Mommy? Can we go home now? I’m tired,” a timid little voice said.

Maria looked down at her daughter and smiled.

“Of course, mija. I’m sorry. I didn’t realize we’d walked so long and so far.”

“You like the beach a lot, don’t you Mommy?” Lena said.

“Yes, mija, I do. I like it very much.”

“I do too, Mommy. I want to be a mermaid when I grow up.”

“That’s great, baby. I love that idea. Maybe tomorrow we’ll come back and find a mermaid for you to talk to about what it’s like.”

“Really? That would be fun! How do we find a mermaid?” Lena’s voice rose in excitement.

“I’m not sure, sweetie, but we can come back tomorrow and figure it out!” Maria laughed.

She bent down and swung the child up into her arms and headed back up the beach to the house. There were still three more days for walking on the beach. And, perhaps, finding a mermaid.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Freedom vs. killer diseases

Lately I’ve seen a lot of snark towards people who dare to express concerns regarding the rapid erosion of our civil liberties and freedoms during the Wuhan flu* lockdown. A college friend even started a Facebook post the other day with “but muh muh freedoms” and then proceeded to rant that people concerned with freedoms obviously wanted to kill of a third to half of the US population in exchange for those freedoms. I was appalled. No disease mitigation is worth the loss of our fundamental freedoms.

This is not about trading lives for freedom. It’s about maintaining our freedoms so that government overreach does NOT result in the clusterfuck we’re seeing here and now. Our privacy, our ability to provide for ourselves and our families, our ability to learn and grow…all of these things are in jeopardy from the current level of restrictions and overreach practiced by many states and counties. I’m not really sure if those individuals inveighing against the respect for and restoration of our freedoms have given any thought to how the country will move forward and recover without these freedoms.

Where do they expect to get basic necessities like toilet paper or food if manufacturers and farmers are subject to random, yet mandatory shut downs? How do they expect to educate their children? And, yes, how do they expect to take care of their ill and/or elderly family members when governments (see PA and NY for example) are requiring that assisted living facilities and nursing homes admit residents who have tested positive for Wuhan flu? Roughly 70% of all cases in the US (massively tilted by NYC) are in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. So, please tell me, how is locking the rest of us up helping when your government is locking up healthy elderly with those who are ill? And then depriving us of the means to support ourselves and take care of those ill/elderly relatives? That’s also part of your freedoms…information. And that has been severely restricted by state governments…all in the name of keeping us safe.

The government cannot and more importantly should not take care of everything for us. I don’t know about you but being infantilized by politicians is guaranteed to make me angry and act in a most contrarian manner. And, being told by useful idiots that “it’s for our own good” and that we should support every authoritarian whim of politicians as long as they claim it’s for safety reasons, is guaranteed to piss me off even more. I’m capable of discovering the dangers for myself. And, if you’re going to tell me that there are people out there who “don’t know” well, that’s on them. Or, if you’re so concerned, go tell them yourself. Governments function best when they acknowledge they are governing adults, when those adults take responsibility for their own actions, and when the rest of you don’t expect or allow the government to do everything. In my intro American politics classes I’ve always asked my students what happens if you allow the government to give you something? The answer is, it can, and often does, take it away.

Right now, we are experiencing a loss of freedoms and there is a fairly large chunk of our population that is OK with that for some strange reason. They seem to feel that since the “experts” are putting these ideas out there, those ideas must be perfect. It’s already been revealed that the “expert” model created by Neil Ferguson, MD in the UK, for example, is deeply flawed and relies on ancient FORTRAN code (seriously? Even I know that FORTRAN is the computer code equivalent of stone tablets). Ask any techie friend you have what is meant by spaghetti code. That’s what the “experts” are relying on and expecting you to take at face value. Don’t give up your ability to question everything.

Take the precautions you feel most comfortable with. Don’t let others, family or friends or experts, panic you into doing something or not doing something that your rational mind knows is not rational. Remember, fear and panic crowd out rational thinking. And, note that fear and panic are what’s being encouraged. To borrow from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…Don’t Panic.

Demand that your government recognize and respect your natural rights and freedoms. We are better than this.

*Yes, I’m using Wuhan flu to describe this thing. It’s not racist to name a disease after the city where it was first identified. Lyme Disease anyone?

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Life is risky

As the memes and cliches say…no-one gets out alive. Life is risky and we’re all gonna die (unlike in the movie “Cocoon” where Wilfred Brimley says “you won’t ever get sick and you won’t ever die” when they find the aliens). Stay on Earth and you will die. Where we seem to be having an argument is over how and when we die and what risks we are all willing to take *before* we die.

Slowly but surely (and I’m very happy about it) the country is opening back up. There are stories from all over about states moving at their own speed and counties within states defying governors and moving at their own pace. Even Cuomo has had to allow some counties in New York to open up faster than, oh, say, NYC. But, with the reopening, some people have reverted or turned to a greater level of fear. It’s hard to tell if they’re afraid of catching the Wuhan flu and dying, or if they are pretty sure Wuhan flu won’t kill them, but will leave them scarred for life. Or, if they even know what they’re arguing for.

Now, people who were pragmatic and skeptical about the lockdown and the reasons behind it, are freaking out at the talk of reopening. I was puzzled at first, but I think I may have figured it out (note, I said *may*. I will not presume to be telepathic). Many of these people were happy to play the devil’s advocate regarding lockdown, but now that the reopening is actually happening, they’re reacting as if their biggest bluff has been called. They were comfortable when they and everybody else was restricted in movement. But, now, with things opening back up and people chafing to get out and back to some semblance of a normal life, they feel like they’re the only ones left who are worried. And, nobody likes being the only one on one side of an argument. So they’re bringing out the big guns to try to get people back into the fold.

The problem with this is that now they’re doing what they’ve railed against previously. They are trying to tell the rest of us that *we* have to adhere to *their* rules because they don’t want to be the only ones following those rules. I’m not sure why the sudden panic about disease when that has not been a primary concern prior to about yesterday. Like I said, the only thing I can figure is that suddenly they’re the last ones left and they never saw everybody else leave. So, they’re mad at the rest of us and getting defensive.

You may ask, how am I arriving at these conclusions? Well, my data source is the purely biased, anecdotal data from Facebook. I kinda sorta monitor my feed for these sorts of things. The kerfuffle over how to reopen has dissolved into a giant kerfuffle into whether each individual action within each step is wise. There’s really nothing overall to fight against. After all, they want to reopen things as well. Again, based on my own personal anecdotal evidence (which does not mean it’s wrong), they seem to like the idea of opening in the abstract, but are extremely fearful in the actual.

I’m still puzzled by all this fear. I guess the media has done a good job in stoking it. But, I am constantly amazed at how easy it is to drive out the ability to think clearly. I mean, any semi-rational individual can see that the information we’ve been getting changes rapidly. The rules/guidelines/regulations are less than useful after about two days (and that’s being generous). So, why can’t people follow that? I’m not sure, but I think it may have to do with several factors. The ability to take care of yourself, if you can work from home, that means you can easily avoid others (leaving out that your grocery delivery person is risking their health for you), and you can just hunker down.

All of this completely ignores those who cannot work from home. They’re the ones who need/want to go back to work. So, why do people not see that? How blindered are they?

I’m not sure. All I know is what I said before. Protect the vulnerable populations, wash your hands, sneeze into your elbow, and fucking stay home if you’re sick. I will wash my hands before I come visit you. If you wish me to wear a mask I will do so and sit or stand 6 feet away from you. But you cannot expect me to do the same with every other person. Your requests are not theirs. We are more risk-acceptant than you. Deal.

We need to just open back up and let the Karens fall where they may. Life is risky. Don’t expect me to adjust to your acceptable level of risk and I won’t expect the same of you. We’re all gonna die. Just have a ton of fun between now and then.

Image by Oleksandr Pyrohov from Pixabay

Fear and Karen-ing

The other day I wrote about fear and how it limits us and how we all have to take steps to avoid becoming crippled by fear. This has been on my mind a lot over the last week or so. We have to allow ourselves to think clearly and recognize that life is inherently risky; as adults we take on risk to a level at which we’re comfortable. The problem with disease of course is that the risk I take can put someone else at risk. That’s where taking responsibility for your own actions comes in. If I have family and/or friends in a high risk category, then of course I am going to take what precautions I must before visiting them. That’s only sensible. I also expect those caring for vulnerable populations to take responsibility for protecting those populations…without destroying the rest of us. We have gotten to a point where, somehow, it’s been decided that the only way to protect vulnerable populations is to halt all motion. This is self-destructive. Despite what the media is trying to cram down our throats, coming out of lockdown is not a zero-sum game. In other words, opening back up does not equal certain death.

But there’s another phenomenon that I’ve noticed lately. That is the more subtle, less open “Karen-ing” many are engaging in. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that a “Karen” is someone who demands to speak with a manager whenever things do not go her way. In the era of the Wuhan flu, this has come to include those who call out others for not “obeying” the rules of lockdown…wearing a mask at all times, staying six feet apart, playing on a playground, etc. These individuals take great pride in calling authorities to report what they know to be serious wrongdoing. What I’ve started noticing is the implicit Karen-ing that is happening on social media. I’m not talking about the virtue signaling of posting selfies with you in your mask, or commenting on a photo of the unmasked with comments like “What? No mask?” No, I’m talking about the cutting comments made about posts that may raise questions, or present possible alternate solutions, or question methodologies. This kind of Karen-ing is done via the “well, I’m certainly taking medical advice from amateur epidemiologists” sneering, condescending remark. These comments are as all Karen-ing is, designed to shame the poster or previous commenter into doing a 180 or deleting the post, or otherwise taking a public walk of self-shame.

The reality is that those doing the Karen-ing are shouting out their fear and demanding that the rest of us share in that fear. In all likelihood they are not doing it purposefully. However, given that humans are supremely social animals and have a strong desire to be accepted, there is a voice in the back of their head that is telling them that in order to remain an acceptable member of the group, they must aid in casting out those who question any and all premises the group is founded on.

Try this thought experiment:

Many people are afraid of dogs. They don’t own a dog and they don’t like being around dogs. If they have friends with dogs, those friends usually confine the dog when the dog-fearing are visiting. Or, they visit elsewhere without the dog.

Dog owners do not demand that the dog-fearing get a dog and spend all their time with it.

Nor do the dog-fearing demand that nobody own dogs so that they may go through life never having to face a dog.

Where am I going with this?

If you’re afraid to go out and interact with people under any circumstances, fine. Stay home. Do what you feel necessary.

HOWEVER, do not, under any circumstances, presume to think that I share your fears. If we are friends, trust that I care about you and will respect your wishes when it comes to your personal safety and that of your family. And, understand that I will not accept your strictures on the part of my life that does not involve you.

Opening up the economy is necessary so that we ALL may live and do so with less fear about straight-up survival. It is NOT about us wanting to kill of all old people, or poor people, or people of color (in fact, continued lockdown will eventually kill poor people if you don’t let them work…). The government can indeed hand out more money (which will eventually, and quickly, lose value), but the government cannot make the things you will need to buy with that money (TP, food, gas, pencils).

So, stay home. Work from home. Wear a mask all day, every day. That’s fine with me. But (and here’s the catch) STOP TRYING TO MAKE ME SHARE YOUR FEAR. And for God’s sake, stop being a Karen! Nobody likes a Karen.

I’ll be over here with my dog (when I get one). On the beach. Without a mask.

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay


I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

–Frank Herbert, Dune

The Bene Gesserit litany against fear is something that has (sort of) stuck with me ever since I first read Dune. I say “sort of” because I never memorized the whole thing, but I did remember enough to remind myself to not let fear overwhelm me and remove my ability to think and act.

This pandemic and lockdown we’re going through right now has brought this litany back to me once more. I do not consider myself a particularly brave person, but I also like to think that I can face things that might be scary or frightening and still manage to function. Lucky for me, I was correct in my self-assessment. While stories about the spread and destruction of COVID-19 have multiplied faster than the virus has managed to infect people, I believe that I have maintained my cool.

This does not mean I am not concerned about the virus. However, I am becoming more concerned about the economic and other destruction that is being wrought in the name of keeping us free from this illness. The information is confusing, conflicting, and constantly changing (how’s that for alliteration?) Masks are for all; masks should be worn by those showing symptoms; masks are not necessary; wear masks any time you leave your house, even in your own car…you are never immune, oh, wait, yes, those were false positives; it will die down in the heat and humidity of summer…no, it won’t. It will come back worse than before…it will come back less than before…

You get the point. A law in physics says that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. It seems that in the case of media and government bureaucracy reporting, for every report there is an equal and opposite report. What the hell do you do?

Well, I’ve decided that panic and fear are not going to be in my list of possible reactions. I’m watching friends, who are intelligent people, react in outright fear to any suggestion that the economy should open back up. I had a colleague say, with complete sincerity, that she didn’t think that students should be getting jobs at McDonald’s because that was “just too dangerous”. She then amended that to say, of course, if they needed the money…good grief. There is an absolute lack of understanding as to how the economy and supply chains work. I guarantee, these will be among the first people to lament the lack of food in stores and yet still fail to understand how that happened.

First off, reasonable people should be able to realize that the virus, no matter what we’ve heard about lethality, rapidity of contagion, droplets, etc. is NOT hanging around in clouds just waiting for us unsuspecting humans to walk out of the house and into a virulent cloud of infection. Really, it’s not. If you or someone you know is vulnerable, stay home, wear a mask when you go out, avoid sick people. These are things that immune compromised people have been doing for years…most of them quite successfully. If you are sick…stay the fuck home and don’t drag your sorry ass to work no matter how important you think your presence is; we’ve all done that and it’s stupid. It’s how common colds (a corona virus) float around offices. Why do you think daycares tell parents of sick kids that they cannot drop the kid off at daycare? Why do you think daycares are petri dishes of every random illness known to man? If your kid is sick, keep ’em home. But, because YOU are sick, that does not mean I have to stay home for fear of catching it. It is incumbent on YOU to take precautions not to infect others. If I am vulnerable, it is incumbent on ME to take precautions. It is not incumbent on the whole fucking world to protect you or me.

This is a rambling post, but fear is a rambling thing, I think. Again, I don’t think I’m fearful. Rather, I am concerned. Concerned about food supply chains in the immediate and near future, about the economy tanking so badly it takes a decade or more to get back to where we were in January (hard to believe that four short months ago we were at the top of our game), about mental health issues in general, about possible riots and other unrest as governors tighten the screws just as things seem to be waning.

A protest today around City Hall (or as many locals call it Shitty Hall), was met by counter-protestors several of whom held signs and banners saying “Reopening = Death”. Really? You believe we can stay closed permanently? That demonstrates a complete lack of understanding not only of epidemiology (I’m fairly certain they haven’t been out protesting against business as usual during previous flu seasons or during H1N1 or SARS or Ebola) but also of economics and how life and society depends on being able to do business. The government can give you money, yes, but it cannot make food or toilet paper. Only businesses can do that. And, many of those, and those in their supply chains, are closed. What good is government money if there is nothing to buy with it?

We need to overcome our fear of dying, our fear of illness, our fear of life. We need to recognize that people die. And, please. None of this means I or anybody else advocating for reopening WANTS people to die. What we want is to be given a chance to work towards preventing MORE deaths and preventing more AVOIDABLE deaths. Every death is a tragedy for family and friends. But, believe it or not, the world does not, and cannot, shut down for every single death (and trust me…when my father died I was shocked to walk out of the hospital and find people laughing…did they not understand what had just happened??) Fear of death cannot be allowed to overcome and obliterate everything we do.

Do not let fear become total obliteration.

Face your fear.

Let it pass over and through you.

In the end, only you remain.

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

Turning the tide

It’s Week 19 of the More Odds than Ends prompts. Hard to believe I’ve been doing this consistently for 19 weeks! My plan is to say the same thing at Week 52. My prompt went to Mike Barker (again). This week my prompt was a photo from Kat Ross, “Dawn in the Cemetery”.

I used it to add a sort of epilogue to the short story In Defense of All We Hold Dear (link at the top of my page). So, here is Epilogue: Turning the Tide:


I stood stock still, staring around me. The ghost army, my ghost army, had done it. We’d taken the British supply depot that sat outside Trenton. We’d actually done it! We had turned the tide.

And, not a single one of my people had been lost. Yes, some were wounded, but everybody was alive, and the wounded would recover. We had regrouped after the fierce battle to a nearby field that bordered an old cemetery.

“The sun will come up soon, Miss…we have to leave,” a soft voice said from behind me.

I turned around and looked at the ghost of my father.

“I know…Pop, I really miss you, you know,” I was trying really hard not to cry.

“You are a good leader. I’m very proud of you. And, it’s a cliché, but I am always in your heart…I hope,” he responded with a grin.

Laughing, I reached out to hug him and got the best bear hug the world has ever seen. No, I don’t know why I could actually hug the ghost of my father, but at that moment I wasn’t interested in any explanations. I only knew that his bear hugs were one of the things I missed the most about him and somehow, this night, for this time, I got to experience them again.

Our mission to beat the Brits at their supply dump was a success. Finally, the on-again-off-again 250-year war for our independence might just be won by us. And we couldn’t have done it without the ghosts of all those past revolutionaries and soldiers.

He sighed and stepped back. I could see the shadows appear through him. I turned around and saw the sun coming up over one of the headstones.

When I turned back, he was gone.

“Bye, Pop,” I whispered.


Thanks, Kat. I enjoyed finding an ending to this short story and talking to my dad one more time.

Image by Keturah Moller from Pixabay

Strange Days, Indeed

It’s hard to believe it’s been 18 weeks since Cedar started the whole More Odds than Ends weekly prompts. This week, my prompt went to Mike Barker: “So, he found a dead body when he was wakeboarding off of Jersey.” I was the recipient of Fiona Grey’s prompt: You’re at a drive-up diner, eating your meal, when up next to you sidles a bison. She gives you a polite nod, and orders a cheeseburger. This was a fun exercise in imagination. I really like both reading and writing the mixing of every day life with magical or supernatural beings and/or occurrences. So, here for your reading pleasure, my (very) short take:


It had been something of a tiring and strange day when I pulled up to the order window. My brain made a decision without consulting me and I turned in at the classic drive-in diner. I realize that fast food is probably not the best end-of-day stress reliever, but screw that.

This was my favorite place to go for a cheeseburger and fries. It was the last of a dying breed, the drive-up diner. They even have servers on roller skates who brought your food out to you. I always felt like I’d traveled back to a more relaxed time when I came here. I rolled down my window and pushed the button.

The speaker crackled. “Hi! Welcome to Dave’s Drive-In Diner! What can I get ya?”

“Hi. Bacon cheeseburger and loaded fries, please. And, a large chocolate milkshake. Thanks!” What? It’d been a long, strange, tiring day. I’ve earned that milkshake.

About five minutes later, the 19-year old server glided up to the car and deftly attached the tray to my window. “Here you are! Do you need anything else?”

“Nope, I’m good. Thanks!” I was already salivating at the sight of the cheeseburger.

I picked up the burger and was getting ready to take a big bite when movement in the next spot caught my eye. I froze with the cheeseburger part-way in my mouth. What the hell?

A huge bison was standing at the speaker. Yes, a bison. I was still staring when the humongous head swung around and gave me a polite nod before turning back to the speaker. I clearly heard the chirpy welcome spiel coming out of the speaker.

That was followed by a low rumbling sound, but I know I heard the words “cheeseburger” and “fries.”

The bison ordered a cheeseburger?? The chirpy voice on the other end of the speaker didn’t hesitate. I couldn’t wait to see what happened when the server came out with the tray. I finally took my first bite of my own cheeseburger.

Another five minutes and the server glided out of the main building toward the bison. There was absolutely no sign of surprise or shock. I was the one looking shocked…if anybody had happened to glance my way. The server was pushing one of those catering carts with the cheeseburger and fries sitting on top.

The bison was apparently a regular customer? I took a long sip of my milkshake. It was as delicious as it looked. I glanced back over at the bison and got a wink and a nod before she lowered her head and tucked in to her own cheeseburger.

I shrugged and nodded back. Yep. Strange day. But the milkshake is divine.


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