I did some house-cleaning today. The ceiling fan in the kitchen was filthy. It had grease from cooking on the nearby stove top all over the blades. And embedded in the grease was dirt and grime. So, it had to be scrubbed with Clorox. And I am allergic to Clorox. So, now I am done for the day. My lungs hurt. And it is hard to think. But I am not dying today from that. I am pretty sure the virus that has us shut up in the house has other plans for me.
But not everything is bad. Dust is bad. I am allergic to that too. Yet, I have now gotten 1,800 followers on WordPress. And somebody is using Amazon Prime to read more than one of my books. The pennies are rolling in on my Amazon author’s dashboard. Number one son has a serious girlfriend. Number two son has a work-at-home job that he is doing right now. And my daughter, the Princess, is helping her mother to finish cleaning the fan.
As part of my quest to rewrite AeroQuest as a comedy-science-fiction series, I am rereading the first book in the series.
Rereading your own work can be surprisingly rewarding in unusual ways. When I was working on that novel and reading and re-reading each section and Canto, I really began to hate the writing. It is my worst work so far. And yet, after plenty of time to forget how awful it seemed at the time, I find myself laughing at the jokes again. I know I am a notoriously un-critical critic. But I also am convinced I am a good writer, and even my bad books are better than I usually think. Now, if only somebody else would read them.
Work continues on AeroQuest 3.
So, even if I am a little bit down and blue, I am not out yet. The Dust wlll not win.
Welcome to Toonerville’s Mountain Station atop lovely, snowy Church Mountain. The Snowball Express is just pulling out.
I believe I may have mentioned in recent posts that part of the joy of cleaning the garage after a long illness left it in a nightmare shambles of boxes and old toys and stuff we really need to throw out, is that I found the boxes with the remnants of my old HO model train layout. Now I am busy rescuing, repairing, and photographing the pieces of Toonerville that I have dug out of the trash piles.
In the picture from Mountain Station, you see the billboard boxcar and the old caboose I managed to pluck out of one of the boxes that heavy stuff had been tossed on top of.
Smokey Joe, the engine number 99, is pulling the 1890’s Pullman passenger car and mail car that will soon pull into Mountain Station.
The two Pullman train cars that I rescued from the same box as the billboard boxcar are both built from kits back when I was in college and had my train set in the basement at home in Iowa.
You may have noticed the mysterious mansion up the mountainside from the Methodist Church that gives the mountain its name. No one knows for sure what the two weird, big-nosed men currently living up there are up to, but lately there has been a lot of barking filling the air. The lights are on in the mansion currently. Maybe someone brave should go up there and investigate.
Here’s a better look at the side of the Pullman Passenger car as it zooms past the church.
The Super Chief is pulling its passenger observation car and its gondola car toward the station also. Santa Fe’s finest passenger service also goes fast.
I bought the Super Chief engine at a train show in San Antonio in the middle 90’s. The passenger cars I have had since I was in high school, circa 1974.
The F-9 diesel freight hauler is pulling a lumber car and the old caboose.
The blue F-9 is the same kind of engine as the Super Chief. It was originally part of the set my father bought for himself when he retired. He intended to build a layout in the basement at the farmhouse when he moved back to Iowa. He finally gave it up, though, and gave it to my sons and me as a gift. I found it in the box in the garage. It looks like it probably still runs. The Union Carbide lumber car was on the back porch in the mess left behind when my father-in-law’s house burned down and he piled the salvaged stuff there. It was in a box with old salvaged kitchen goods that managed not to burn. It still needs serious cleaning. My caboose is missing its back wheels and the trucks the wheels ride on is broken.
Cruella DeVille’s roadster was spotted near the mysterious old mansion. It is very possible something bad is going on up there.
Of all the many things I have to get done before I schlepp off this mortal coil stage right, rescuing my HO rolling stock is probably not the most important, but it is definitely one of the most satisfying.
I had a magic soda bottle that I could rub and out popped a genii who helped me clean the house. Now that my wife has returned to the Philippines for family reasons, I have apparently lost the bottle. So far, digging through piles of junk in the library and my bedroom have only resulted in more mess. I could’ve sworn I left it under the bed. Part of the problem with cleaning in the library is the fact that I can’t pick up stuff for more than ten minutes before finding a book I have to look at or re-read, or put on my re-re-read pile.
Part of the problem that leads to the need for a genii to clean is the responsibility of the family dog. And she doesn’t do her share of the housework. Jade the dog seriously believes that she can be a people if she eats enough people food. So she steals from the pantry when my kids invariably leave the pantry door open. She will pull out the Pringles cans, the half-eaten bags of chips, the powdered chocolate milk packets, and all sorts of other packages to dismember and shred behind the sofa and overstuffed chairs in the living room. And no matter how many times I lecture her about it, she never picks that trash up. She just sulks like a teenage girl, hating me for my fuddy-duddy old dinosaur brain. But I occasionally have to remind her that people, the group she so desperately wants to be a part of, don’t pee on the living room rug when they are impatient to go out.
So, I am just guessing here, but I think the time has come to stop searching for magic bottles and just roll up my sleeves and do it myself. Time to pick up the trash. Vacuum the floor with the aging vacuum… a device that does not work well at all, but ironically doesn’t suck… and then shampoo the carpet with dog-stain remover. I need to reorganize book shelves, dust behind TV’s, some of which no longer work, pick up and do laundry, actually wash the dishes in the sink before putting them in the dishwasher to do to them whatever mysterious cleaning magic a dishwasher actually does… (Have you ever noticed that if you don’t pre-wash dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, they don’t get clean? What does this machine actually do?) Anyway, the only workable solution is to actually clean the house. Children and dogs who want to be people help in small ways, mostly by cheering you on and supportive comments and eating stuff you find behind the couch… and the dog helps with that last part.
Since today is a hot summer Saturday, too hot to do neglected yard work (a whole ‘nother post it seems) I will start today. And I suspect that Clean Gene the Cleaning Genii is off visiting his cousin, the guy pictured on bottles of Mr. Clean, in Cleveland so that he can see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame now that they have finally enshrined Steve Miller even though Mr. Miller never really wanted to be.
Being all artistical and everything, I struggle a bit with being able to reproduce my artwork on this blog. Sometimes I can get a good picture, and sometimes I simply can’t. The biggest problem I have encountered is the problem of light. I can lose so much quality in the color and the detail because of bad photography that it bothers me to the point that I seriously consider whacking myself on the side of my own coconut with a brick (with the intent of knocking some color back into my eyeballs). Of course, I am smart enough to realize that probably wouldn’t work, so I haven’t actually tried it yet. Do you see the difference in the two pictures of my painting above? Do you fixate on all the yellow-gray mud in the second picture the way I do?
I found a light fixture that I could put a 300 watt bulb in, and I managed to set the whole thing up for under ten dollars. It helps a lot. It was able to put some of the color back into my work. Now, I have to clean up my studio/bedroom a bit so it doesn’t look quite so junky. I need to find that old bottle of cleaning fluid that I rubbed last time and discovered Clean Gene the Cleaning Genie. I have found that cleaning stuff up requires magic. It also makes me realize that I have just revealed one of my magician’s tricks as far as posting artwork. A magician is never supposed to reveal his secrets… Oopsie! Never mind. Pretend you didn’t read today’s post.
If you don’t remember, this is what my bedroom looked like when I first rubbed the magic lamp and wished for clean from Clean Gene the Cleaning Genii. Since that post in which my bedroom/writer’s nook (sickbed, deathbed, whatever…) looked like the picture above, the Genii has been stooping with a bad back, picking up papers and books and arcane detritus from the writer’s life of a messy, messy writer and artist. Did I mention he was messy? Did I mention he has arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, COPD, and two other incurable diseases? Did I mention he is having surgery on Tuesday? Did I say he was messy? Oops… too much repetitive redundancy being repeatedly repeated. (Purple Paisley Prose Paragraphs are like that.)
Did you figure out that he is me? I say all of this incredibly boring and inane stuff because it gives context to the miracle. Clean Gene granted at least part of the wish. It may not look it, but now the mess is organized.
You will notice that things that may be needed in the middle of the night are now accessible. And the room now actually has a floor again! Oh, and the dolls are not needed for the middle of the night… at least, not that I actively remember (or am willing to admit.)
In this view you can see more of my organized tornado aftermath. Under the books and Barbies in process of being repaired you see what used to be my drawing table, and is now more like a book case with attached tiny area for drawing. My daughter the Princess put the stickers all over the drawer on my 100-year-old-plus dresser when she was two, and I have never had the heart to take them off no matter what they do to its value as an antique. (It honestly has no value. Antique is just another word for very, very old.) And those are not dolls standing around in semi-action poses. Those are ACTION FIGURES!
And finally, this is my work space and writing area where I am currently writing this mundane little post about something that is more about nothing than anything Seinfeld ever came up with. Yes, I am a writer and an artist. Am I a professional? That is harder to say. I was paid for many years to teach writing as a public school English teacher. I currently am proofreading for a couple of professionals who are not writers but have to do it as a part of their jobs in health care. I am getting paid for that. I made at least thirty dollars for writing novels for three different publishers. I have had drawings published before in books and comic books, but nobody ever gave me a nickel for that… those were voluntary and contests I didn’t win. They did help other people make money, though. Maybe, now that I am retired as a teacher, I am justified in claiming that I am even though I don’t make the big bucks people assume I do when I tell them that little white lie. (If you thought that last paragraph was mainly about passing 500 words, you would be right.)