Hidden Kingdom (Chapter 2-adding page 9)

To see the complete Chapter 1, use the following link;https://catchafallingstarbook.net/2018/11/24/hidden-kingdom-chapter-1-complete/

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Filed under artwork, comic strips, fairies, Hidden Kingdom, humor, Paffooney, pen and ink

An Unexpected Gift 

thor-ragnarok-end-credits-avengers-infinity-war-870508

This post is a movie review for Thor : Ragnarok , though I don’t really plan on talking about the movie very much.   It was an excellent comic book movie in the same tongue-in-cheek comedy tradition as Guardians of the Galaxy.   It made me laugh and made me cheer.   It was the best of that kind of movie.  But it wasn’t the most important thing that happened that night.

20171128_142504

You see, I spent the weekend in the hospital thinking I had suffered a heart attack during the Thanksgiving holiday. I thought I was facing surgery at the very least.   I knew I might have had an appointment to play chess with the Grim Reaper.   It is a lot to worry about and drain all the fun out of life.

Well, one of the things that happened that day, Tuesday, my first full day out of the hospital and, hopefully, out of the woods over heart attacks, was that I received my new replacement bank card because my old one had a worn out, malfunctioning chip in it.  So, I took my three kids to the movie at the cheapest place we could find.  I tried to run my bank card for the payment, and it was summarily declined.  I had activated it previously during the day, and there was plenty of money in the account compared to the price, but it just wouldn’t take.  So I had to call Wells Fargo to find out whatever the new reason was for them to hate me.  It turned out that it had already been activated, but a glitch had caused it to decline the charge.  While I was talking to the girl from the Wells Fargo help desk, the lady who had gotten her and her husband’s tickets right before us put four tickets to the movie in my hand.

The middle-aged black couple had lingered by the ticket stand before going in to their movie just long enough to see a sad-looking old man with raggedy author’s beard and long Gandalf hair get turned down by the cheap-cinema ticket-taking teenager because the old coot’s one and only bank card was declined. They were moved to take matters into their own hands and paid for our tickets themselves.

That, you see, was the gift from my title.  Not so much that we got our movie tickets for free, but that the world still works that way.  There are still good people with empathetic and golden hearts willing to step in and do things to make the world a little bit better place.  The gift they gave me was the reassurance that, as bad and black as the world full of fascists that we have come to live in has become, it still has goodness and fellow feeling in it. People are still moved to pay things forward and make good on the promise to “love one another”.  I did not have a chance to thank them properly.  I was on the phone with Wells Fargo girl when it happened.  The only thing that couple got out of their good deed was thank-yous from my children and the knowledge that they had done something wonderful.  I plan to pay it forward as soon as I have the opportunity.  Not out of guilt or obligation, but because I need to be able to feel that feeling too at some point.

I do have one further gift to offer the world.

20171129_085142

After we got home from the movie, I opened an email that contained the cover proof for my novel, Magical Miss Morgan.  Soon I will have that in print also if I can keep Page Publishing from messing it up at the last moments before printing.  It is a novel about what a good teacher is and does.  It is the second best thing I have ever written.

Sometimes the gifts that you most desperately need come in unexpected fashion.

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Filed under commentary, compassion, happiness, healing, humor, illness, movie review, NOVEL WRITING, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Summer Fun Cartoon

toon1

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July 3, 2022 · 3:00 pm

Saturday Art Day in June

It is Saturday again, and it is time to share some more artwork. I am trying to come up with a theme. But I guess I am basically going through my gallery and picking stuff at random.

I am just guessing here, but maybe I can find pictures here of daily life at home, no matter how weird that home might be.

Okay, so, really weird home life…
It is life at home… if your home is a farm.
This is life at home… if you live on a pirate ship.
Life at home… if you are circus clowns.

Maybe I don’t have a clear artistical idea of what a home life really looks like, but, after all, home is where the heart lives.

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Making It Home

This is a quilt that my mother completed herself before she passed away last September. It was given to me last night, and it kept me warm during the Iowa night. A piece of art that my mother designed, pieced together and quilted with her own hands. It makes me tremble just to think about what that truly means. Will I ever be able to provide anything like that for my own children? They are not impressed with my stories and books. They don;t even laugh at my jokes. I can’t say I have provided them a home in their young lives the way my mother and father did for me. It is humbling.

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The Road to Iowa

I am now almost home again. I’m sitting in the car in a parking lot for Perkins restaurant in Ames, Iowa. With the dog while my wife and the Princess are eating a late lunch. We will be on the road again soon, but the dog is anxious to be done traveling, and I sit with her now to keep her from complaining so much while my driver and daughter eat.

Here is where a travel photo goes. And I have a good one. And the #@!!&##! Block Editor won’t let me add it no matter what I do.

Oh, well, at least something is posted to keep my streak alive.

it is, however, a mixed-up unedited mess.

I would ask the dog to do it for me, but she’s tired and cranky. And who knew that dog language had so many bad words?

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Fighting to Post on the Road

I am trying to write a post on the road with my phone. But apparently my fingers, or my phone, or both don’t work right.

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Going Home Again

My Grandparents‘ house became my parents’ house, and now is the property of my two sisters and me.

It is said you can’t really go home again. And I can’t. My boyhood home is falling down and owned by someone else. But the farmplace has been in the family for 150 years. The house has changed a little. But it is mostly the same structure it always was. And the spirits of the past are plentiful now.

My great grandfather, Friend Aldrich, established the farm in the 1800s. My great grandmother, Emily Brannon Aldrich bore him three sons. Henry Aldrich and Ira Clarke Aldrich were their elder sons. My grandfather, Raymond Aldrich, was his youngest.

My grandfather and grandmother, Neva Hinckley Aldrich, lived in this old house after my Great Grandfather was gone. They had Larry, Lois (my mother,) and Donny, the youngest. Uncle Donny was a favorite of Great Uncle I. C. and his wife and inherited their farm since the old couple was childless. Uncle Larry eventually bought his own farmplace, and my mother was destined to inherit Grandpa’s farm. Thus the spirits of the whole clan still gather there. (Uncle Done is the only one I have mentioned who is still alive.)

This will be the first summer trip back home where no parent will be living there, and I am officially a part-owner of the place.

Now that it is a place of mostly memories… and ghosts of the past… I don’t know if you can really call it going home. But it will be good to get back there one more time.

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Conflict is Essential

The case has been made in an article by John Welford (https://owlcation.com/humanities/Did-King-Henry-VIII-Have-A-Genetic-Abnormality) that English King Henry the VIII may have suffered from a genetic disorder commonly known as “having Kell blood” which may have made having a living male heir almost impossible with his first two wives. The disorder causes frequent miscarriages in the children sired, something that happened to Henry seven times in the quest for a living male heir. If you think about it, if Henry did not have this particular physical conflict at the root of his dynasty, he might’ve fathered a male heir with his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Then there would’ve been no opening for the machinations of Anne Boleyn. It follows that Elizabeth would not have been born. Then no Elizabethan Age; no sir Francis Drake, Spain might’ve landed their armada, no Church of England, possibly no William Shakespeare, and then Mickey would never have gotten castigated by scholars of English literature for daring to state in this blog that the actor who came from Stratford on Avon and misspelled his own name numerous times was not the author of Shakespeare’s plays.

History would’ve been very different. One might even say “sucky”. Especially if one is the clown who thinks Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare.

Conflict and struggle is necessary to the grand procession of History. If things are too easy and conflict is not necessary, lots of what we call “invention” and “progress” will not happen. Society is not advanced by its quiet dignity and static graces. It is advanced and transformed by its revolutions, its wars, its seemingly unconquerable problems… its conflicts.

My Dick and Jane book,
1962

Similarly, a novel, a story, a piece of fiction is no earthly good if it is static and without conflict. A happy story about a puppy and the children who love him eating healthy snacks and hugging each other and taking naps is NOT A STORY. It is the plot of a sappy greeting card that never leaves the shelf in the Walmart stationary-and-office-supplies section. Dick and Jane stories had a lot of seeing in them. But they never taught me anything about reading until the alligator ate Spot, and Dick drowned while trying to pry the gator’s jaws apart and get the dog back. And Jane killed the alligator with her bare hands and teeth at the start of what would become a lifelong obsession with alligator wrestling. And yes, I know that never actually happened in a Dick and Jane book, except in the evil imagination of a bored child who was learning to be a story-teller himself in Ms. Ketchum’s 1st Grade Class in 1962.

Yes, I admit to drawing in Ms. Ketchum’s set of first-grade reading books. I was a bad kid in some ways.

But the point is, no story, even if it happens to have a “live happily ever after” at the end of it, can be only about happiness. There must be conflict to overcome.

There are no heroes in stories that have no villains whom the heroes can shoot the guns out of the hands of. Luke Skywalker wouldn’t exist without Darth Vader, even though we didn’t learn that until the second movie… or is it the fifth movie? I forget. And James Bond needs a disposable villain that he can kill at the end of the movie, preferably a stupid one who monologues about his evil plan of writing in Ms. Ketchum’s textbooks, before allowing Bond to escape from the table he is tied down to while surrounded by pencil-drawn alligators in the margins of the page.

We actually learn by failing at things, by getting hurt by the biplanes of an angry difficult life. If we could just get away with eating all the Faye Wrays we wanted and never have a conflict, never have to pay a price, how would we ever learn the life-lesson that you can’t eat Faye Wray, even if you go to the top of the Empire State Building to be alone with her. Of course, that lesson didn’t last for Kong much beyond hitting the Manhattan pavement. But life is like that. Not all stories have a happy ending. Conflicts are not always resolved in a satisfying manner. A life with no challenges is not a life worth living.

So, my title today is “Conflict is Essential“. And that is an inescapable truth. Those who boldly face each new conflict the day brings will probably end up saying bad words quite a lot, and fail at things a lot, and even get in trouble for drawing in their textbooks, but they will fare far better than those who are afraid and hang back. (I do not know for sure that this is true. I really just wanted to say “fare far” in a sentence because it is a palindrome. But I accept that such a sentence may cause far more criticism and backlash than it is worth. But that is conflict and sorta proves my point too.)

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Filed under humor, irony, old books, philosophy, strange and wonderful ideas about life, William Shakespeare, word games, wordplay, writing humor

The Education of PoppenSparkle… Canto 11

Canto 11 – Battle Plans

The meeting that followed the feast was limited to the Mouse King and Zam his wife, Prinz Flute and his three companions,  Lord Lancelot, and the Rascal, who was forced to sit next to PoppenSparkle because he was apparently no longer welcome as Lancelot’s Squire.  Schtinker, of course, wanted badly to be there, but he was taken to the bathhouse with the other Sylph children that didn’t pass the smell test before bedtime.

“I think the solution is obvious.  We use Poppy’s Polymorph Spell to turn as many Gobbuluns into Fairies as it is possible to do.  We bolster our army with the converts from theirs.” Prince Flute looked pleased with himself as he announced the plan to the whole table.

“Nonsense!”  Lancelot sat with his arms folded in front of him and his reddish, tired eyes glaring at the map on the center of the table.

“Why is it nonsense?”  Flute insisted.

“Because we are doomed here.  The Stoor has his ugly army, and Lord Toxiss brought his vast army all the way from distant Sheek-a-go.”

“The Slow Ones actually pronounce that place Chicago,” Tod corrected helpfully.

“I don’t care what you call it.  The point is… we are so outnumbered, they will overwhelm us, slaying everybody who is not immortal, and then swarming down to Cair Tellos to do the same to them.  We have only one play here.  We make a glorious last attack, kill so many of them before they overwhelm us that they can’t muster a big enough force to overwhelm Cair Tellos.  We will die heroes.”

“You won’t die,” pointed out the Rascal.  “You are an immortal Storybook.  The rest of us will all die for your glory and you’ll walk into Cair Tellos to claim all the credit.”

“You wound me, Rascal.  Did I not save your life a dozen times over in the Battle of the Arcanum?”

“You did.  But you decimated the entire army doing it.  We would have sold our lives better defending the castle rather than fighting them on the open fields.”

“Okay, perhaps we choose to die on the parapets of Castle Cornucopia.  Maybe we can take more of them out if we make them climb our walls and pour down the hot oils as they try to climb up…”

The Mouse King cleared his throat.  “Zam and I have three little mouselings to care for.  And there are hundreds of Sylph and Elf children left orphaned by the war that could use new parents.  We don’t want anyone to die who doesn’t have to.  And don’t we know that at least a few of the Gobbuluns out there are citizens of Cornucopia that have been changed by Lord Toxiss?”

“We won’t do ourselves any good to change a few of the Gobbuluns the way the girl did today.  It won’t make a sizeable enough difference, and she will just exhaust her magic getting Gobbuluns changed so other Gobbuluns can kill them.  It would be futile… a wasted effort.”

“I think, Lord Lancelot, that the point where your heroics are sorely needed, is at the gate where you and your best soldiers can defend and gather the changed ones into the castle as we change them.”  Flute smiled as he obviously was trying to manipulate Lancelot’s ego.

“You cannot change enough of them with one little girl casting one little spell.”

“We can do better than that!” said Glittershine.  “I helped PoppenSparkle write the spell into her spell book.  I already am familiar with the spell.  Tod and Flute can also study it.  We will have four Wizards, not one, changing bad guys into good guys.”

“If we should happen to accidentally win the war that way, what will you do with all the new Fairies?  Where will they live?”

“You know good and well, Lancelot, that the Castle Cornucopia is huge.  We have thousands of towers, secret rooms, mushroom gardens, Fairy houses, businesses, and entertainments in this big, old barn that haven’t had enough Fairy people to live in them since King Pallas and his army were destroyed by Darvon Redsoul, the Great Dragon.”  The Mouse seemed to be getting a bit hot under the collar to Poppy.

“And as Glitter mentioned, there will be four talented Wizards helping to repopulate the place,” said Flute, grinning like a fox.

“Very well, then.  It is obvious that you have to learn the hard way.  I will go along with this plan if only to prove you wrong.”

“Will your plan really work?” the Rascal whispered to Poppy.

“I think so.  I am not as confident as any of the rest of you, but I am just learning how to be a Wizard.  But if Flute believes in the plan, then, I think I believe in it too.”

“I hope so.  I thought it was a great honor to be chosen as Lord Lancelot’s Squire.  But right now, I just need to see him proven wrong… even if it kills me.”

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Homely Art – Part Two – Paul Detlefsen

Detlefsen-Swimming_Hole

Back in about 1968 my Grandma Beyer was seriously scandalized by an artist named Paul Detlefsen.  Detlefsen did a lot of covers for the “Ideals Magazine” that Grandma always had on her coffee tables.  He scandalized her by putting a painting on the cover that showed a young boy taking his pants off, the rear view only, so he could go skinny dipping with a group of naked boys.  Truthfully the picture shown above is by Detelfsen, but it is not the one that offended her.  I have discovered that this painter of old-timey things like blacksmith shops and one-room school houses has painted at least four different versions of “the Old Swimmin’ Hole”.  And Grandma was easily scandalized when we were kids.  She was a very conservative woman who loved Ronald Reagan and his politics most severely and thought that Richard Nixon was a leftist radical.  She didn’t like for people to be naked, except for bath time, and maybe not even then.  She is one of the main reasons, along with this painter whom she adored, that I came to learn later in life that “naked is funny”.horseandbuggydays-print  http://www.freeplaypost.com/PaulDetlefsen_VintageArtPrint_A.htm

Grandma Beyer also seriously loved puzzles, and besides “Ideals” covers, Paul Detlefsen did a beaucoup of jigsaw puzzles. (Beaucoup means a lot in Texican, I tend to think in Iowegian and talk in Texican and completely forget about the need to translate for those people who don’t know those two foreign tongues)   One of the puzzles we spent hours working on was “Horse and Buggy Days” that I pictured here.  They were the kind of puzzle paintings where every boy was Tom Sawyer and every girl was Becky Thatcher.  And there were a lot of them.  Here is another;

detlefsen

http://www.bigredtoybox.com/cgi-bin/toynfo.pl?detlefsenindex

Grandma had this in puzzle form also.  We put the puzzle together, glued it to tag board, and framed it.  It has hung on the wall in a Grandparent’s house, first Grandma Beyer’s and then Grandma Aldrich’s, since the early 1970’s.  My own parents now live in Grandma Aldrich’s house, and that puzzle-painting may be hanging in an upstairs bedroom to this very day.  Detlefsen is not known as a great artist.  He was a humble painter who painted backdrops for films for over 20 years.  In the 1950’s he switched gears and started doing lithographs that were turned into calendars, jigsaw puzzles, laminated table mats, playing cards, and reproductions you could buy in the Ben Franklin Dime Store in Belmond, Iowa and hang on your back porch at home.  I believe I saw his paintings in all these forms in one place or another.  According to Wikipedia (I know, research, right?) “In 1969, UPI estimated that his artwork had been seen by 80 per cent of all Americans.”  That is pretty dang good for a humble painter, better numbers than Pablo Picasso ever saw.  Let me share a few more of his works, and see if you recognize any of these;

db_Paul_Detlefsen_Covered_Bridge1 b01e8afaadde Artist Paul Detlefsen PaulDetlefsen_VintageArtPrint_B11 il_fullxfull.285794883

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The Writer’s Own Opinions – 2

Every writer, especially a fiction writer, has an opinion about what his or her work really means.

I have opinions that are going to get me backlash because my friends, my birth State, and the State I now live in all have opposite opinions that are based almost entirely on fear and hate preached by the so-called conservatives in Iowa, Texas, and the farm towns I grew up in. Recent events in government are getting blamed on the more liberal of the two parties that thankfully defeated our future Führer, former President Pumpkinhead. My friends in Iowa now tell me they don’t feel safe under Grandpa Joe Biden’s administration. Apparently, the inconveniences of inflation, broken border policies, and the threats we still face from the pandemic are all Joe’s fault, because, even though the Trumpalumph set it all in motion with his incompetence in office, none of it would still be happening if the mango-flavored Twitler was put back in office… because apparently the election was stolen from him without leaving any evidence of the crime. I can’t argue with these hate-filled so-called conservatives. I am apparently a liberal groomer of school children and pedophile who wrongly calls these hate-filled screamers on the internet “possibly” racist-leaning. So, all I can do is make it clear what my actual opinion really is.

Abortion and the Supreme Court

My personal opinion is much like the opinion I expressed about trans people. I have no say in this issue. If a woman that I supposedly loved enough to make a baby with her wanted to terminate that pregnancy, I would do everything within my legal power to try and convince her not to end the fetus’s life. I would want that child to be born. But if she didn’t choose to listen to me, it is between her and her doctor. And I would have to accept the decision.

By the same measure, I don’t believe the Supreme Court Justices, especially these spotty old men, have any more right to impose their will than I have. Four of these anti-abortion rule-from-the-benchers were appointed by a President who did not win the popular vote. Alito is a Bush appointee. And Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett are appointed by Mr. No-Russian-Collusion. Chief Justice Roberts is there because of the Bush who didn’t win the popular vote.

And what about the fact that by the constitution Gorsick should be named Merrick Garland? And if you accept Mitch the Turtle McConnell’s unconstitutional excuse for stealing the seat, then there should be a Biden appointee in Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the court. The so-called conservative Republicans are not only hypocrites, they are criminal hippo-crats. (Oh, excuse my exaggeration. I am not entitled to call them that even though they call me a pedophile.)

At any rate, my basic opinion is that the pretenders on the new Supreme Court should not be ruling on anything in a way that takes away people’s basic right to decide personal things for themselves. I have fought through volumes of philosophy searching for the best, most moral way to live my life. And nowhere have I seen that it is acceptable for one person’s prejudices to take precedent over someone else’s right to decide for themselves.

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