Category Archives: humor

An Idiot’s Guide to Art Day

No, I am not calling you an idiot, dear reader. I am the one providing the guidance material.

This idiot is not actually me… This is Doofy Fuddbugg. He is not overburdened with book-learning, but he can fix practically anything around the house or in the car. He can also tell a story pretty well that makes you laugh.

So, if I were to try to explain art day in an Idiot’s Guide aimed at explaining the essence of it to Doofy Fuddbugg, one idiot trying to educate another, I would explain that I am lazy on Saturdays. All I want to do is post pictures and not have to write a lot of heavily-thought-out words and ideas in the usual droning idiot’s essay of 500 words or more. So, I go through my WordPress picture file and find interesting pictures to post without having to draw or paint anything new.

I confess that I do not merely select pictures at random. I try to get pictures I haven’t used in a good while. This double portrait of Gretel Graymalkin, and what she looks like naked in the moonlight, hasn’t been used in a post since last year. And there is a bit of rhyme and reason to it too. Gretel is an idiot.

And this is a picture that any idiot can tell is a real picture of fairies in the park discussing the building of a new fairy circle after it finally started raining heavily again in Texas after almost a decade of drought. Of course, it has to be an idiot to tell that. Most people would recognize this as a pen-and-colored-pencil drawing photo-shopped over a photograph. Even the mushrooms are not real. I have it on good authority from fairy-kind that they are actually pixies in disguise.

And then there is this rare bird I drew a couple of years back. He is a surrealistic peacock who thought of auditioning for NBC before he learned they don’t still do those “Now in Living Color…” ads anymore. He’s surrealistic in that he could not possibly be real, unless he were really just a bowling pin and lady’s fan put together by a deranged painter with a mental disorder that makes him do decoratively dippy drawings on things you really shouldn’t be drawing upon in the middle of a bowling tournament.

And who can forget this idiot, an avatar of me as a purple Mickey in the style of the late great Don Martin of Mad Magazine fame? He’s the whole reason you get foolish lazy-Saturday posts like this at all, There has got to be a cure for that somewhere in the multiverse.

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Filed under artwork, cartoony Paffooney, humor, imagination, Paffooney

The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 9

The Mysterious Magic Hat

When Mickey and I heard that we were going to use the Magic Hat, Mickey got really excited.  It was his turn to put on the ceremonial robe and bring out the hat.

“So, you do have the Magic Hat?” the girl Derfentwinkle asked while frowning.

“You know about that?  What did Bluebottom tell you about it?”

“Nothing.  But I read it in a letter he was writing.  It’s a rare magic item that used to belong to Dezmodotto the Scroll and Sword Wizard.  He believed you got hold of it when Dezmodotto died.”

“When Bluebottom killed him, you mean.”

“I didn’t know that part, but yes.”

“Everything that Derfie just said is true.  Master Eli, however…” began Kack.

“Shut up, Kackenfurchtbar!” ordered Master Eli.

Meanwhile, Mickey had run to the vault-closet, used the key, and came back wearing the red apprentice robe and carrying the red, conical Magic Hat.

“I did it, Master!  I brought the hat, and it didn’t turn me into a pigeon, and it didn’t suck out all my brainpower and make me stupid.”

“You mean it didn’t make you more stupid,” said Master Eli with a chuckle.

“Yes… um, I guess so.”  Mickey put the hat on the floor between Master Eli and Derfentwinkle. 

The hat itself was impressive.  It was tall and stiff and red… covered with golden-yellow sigils and symbols.

Master Eli picked it up and immediately pulled another hat out of it.  Another exact copy of the original hat.

“Here, Derf.  Put this on your pointy head.”

“What is it going to do?  Sort me into the proper house in the castle?”

“Ha!  No!  It’s good that you know about Slow Ones’ children’s literature, especially all the way from England.  But this hat will judge whether you are evil or not.  It may empty all the magic out of your head.  Or it may turn you into a pigeon.  I am interested to see.”

He put one of the two copies of the hat on Derfentwinkle’s head.  Then he put the other on Mickey’s head.

“Why on my head?”  Mickey squeaked.

“Because there may be secrets and spells that can alter the brain, and I don’t want them transferred into my head.”

Mickey looked at Derfentwinkle with horrified eyes.

“I know it is your turn to be the apprentice for this,” I told Mickey.  “But if you are afraid, I will take the hat… if you need me to.”

“No, quiet boy.  There won’t be anything that the mouse-boy won’t like.  He’ll be okay.”  She looked at me with what I hoped was a trustworthy look.

The hat on Derfentwinkle’s head began to hum… sort of.  And at the same time Mickey’s eyes began to cross.

“MMMM!  There it is!  The sex magics!” crowed Mickey as his rat tail began to stiffen and twirl in small circles behind him.

Derfentwinkle appeared to be in pain.  She dropped the plastic bottle containing the bottle imp, and held her stomach with both arms as if that’s where it hurt the most.  I was concerned for her.  Especially when her eyes dilated and she seemed to be staring through all of us with black orbs for eyes.

Then, mercifully, it all came to a stop.

“Aw, no!  Where did the sex magics go?  They were right here in my head.  I knew how to do wonderful things.”

“Mickey, the hat absorbed all the evil spells.  And then it recorded all the good ones.  Just like it was meant to do,” said Master Eli.

“Oh, but I wanted to…”

“What?  What did you want to do?”

“Um… I don’t know.  The Magic Hat took it all out of my head again.”

“Just like it was meant to do.  You were too young for any of that nonsense anyway.”

“Um, I am not feeling well,” said Derfentwinkle.  “Can I lie down and sleep a little?”

She began to topple over, and I caught her up in both arms.  She was really rather light to carry for a girl who was actually slightly taller than me.

“Well, the poor girl has just been through a wringer,” Master Eli said. 

“Do I lay her down in the Harpy cage?” I asked, looking sadly at her unconscious face.”

“No, Bob.  Take her to your bed… um, on second thought, take her to my bed.  Let her sleep on the soft mattress there.  But stay next to her.  If she tries to escape or do something evil, you will need to kill her.  But don’t get blood on my nice blankets.”

“How will she do evil in this state?” I asked.

“Oh, she won’t.  Most likely you will just need to guard her and make her comfortable.  If she has the wizard-skill I think she does, then she is going to be a very valuable property.  So, be kind and take good care of her.

“Why does Bob get to do that good stuff, and not me?” complained Mickey.

“Because, although he’s not very bright.  He’s smarter than you are, Mickey.” The stinky little wererat grumbled darkly as I carried the limp girl up the stair to the upper tower and gently placed her on master’s nice, soft bed.

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Filed under Paffooney, humor, novel, NOVEL WRITING, magic, fairies

In the Outhouse

In the Outhouse (a poem by a terrible poet)

So, here I sit for a while to ponder,

While I’m taking care of needs down yonder.

I read the paper’s news-less ruses.

And think that here, at least, the thing has uses.

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Olfactory Story Telling

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My dog Jade

While walking the dog yesterday, we struck up a conversation about writing and being a writer that proved once and for all that DOGS REALLY DON’T KNOW HOW TO WRITE!

She turned around on the end of her leash and looked at me with that woeful you-don’t-feed-me-enough look on her little well-fed face.  “You know, I was reading your blog today, and I think I know how to make you a well-known writer and best-selling author.”

“Oh, really?” I said.  “Since when do you know anything about being a writer or marketing fiction?”

“Well, you do remember that I wrote a couple of blog posts for you already.”

“True.  But I can’t afford to do that again.   You type with your tongue and it leaves the keyboard all sticky.  I haven’t gotten it truly clean and working properly again since that last time.  If you are asking to write another post, you can forget it.”

“Well, sorry about that.  But I do think I know how to make your writing more popular with a bigger audience.”.

“Oh?  How could you possibly know that?”

“Hey, talking dog here!  That has to count for something, doesn’t it?  Don’t you think people would be amazed to learn about things from a dog’s perspective?”

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“Nobody’s going to believe I have a talking dog.  That isn’t something within the realm of what is normal.  They are all going to think I am just a crazy old man.”

“Well, you are a crazy old man.  I can’t help that.  But what if you told stories from a dog’s perspective?  You know, things that only a dog could’ve come up with?”

“Oh, like what, for instance?”

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Why does the neighbor’s dog always smell like burritos?

“Well, you know that more than half of what a dog perceives about the world she gets through her sense of smell?”

“Okay…”

“Like that spot on the grass over there.  Boy dog.  Handsome border collie… ate three hotdogs about four days ago.  Ooh!  He smells perfect!”

“You’re talking about poop smells again, aren’t you?”

“Well, yes.  But I can also tell you about the pigeons that were in that live oak tree there yesterday.”

“Oh?  What color were they?”

“I don’t know… gray maybe?”

“Bird doo.  You are smelling old bird poop!  You want me to write about poop more?”

“Well, no… not exactly.  But if you could tell your stories through the sense of smell more…  that would be unique and different.  People would like that a lot because it’s never really been done before.”

“You do understand that I can’t use my laptop to write smells?  There are no words I could use that will automatically put smells into the reader’s nose.”

“Well, but if you could invent one…”

“According to you, it would be mostly poop smells anyway.  Who wants to sniff that?”

“It would make your blog more popular with dogs.”

“But dogs don’t read!”

“How do you know for sure?  You believed me when I said I read your blog today.”

“Well, you certainly got me there.  Now, don’t we have some important business to take care of?”

“Yes, but…  You see that squirrel over there?”

“Yes, so?”

“So one day soon, I’m gonna eat him!”

spudsmackenzieandbudlightandladies

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A Walk in the Park

We have across the street from our house an extensive green-belt park. It meanders through the city along a controlled and, often, brick-walled creek. It is really a portion of the city’s drainage system that prevents more of the horrible flooding that occurred in Texas cities in the 1980’s and 1990’s, As you can see, if you need to exercise for your heart-and-joint health, it is a perfect spot for a nice, long walk and think. So, today I am thinking about what I walked and thought about.

Mini-Wizards

I started my walk thinking about my current work in progress. It is called The Necromancer’s Apprentice. And it is a story about a fairy society filled with tiny, three-inch-tall magical people. They live in a castle-city made from a living, hollow willow tree. The city is under attack by an evil Necromancer (a death-wizard) who wants something unknown from the wizards in the city. Eli Tragedy is a sorcerer representing the good guys. He has two apprentices already, quiet Bob and chaotic Mickey the were-rat. And he captures the necromancer’s apprentice, and instead of killing her like his superiors want, he makes her into his own third apprentice. He’s a good wizard because he helps students learn and values them as people. The bad guy is the opposite. He is evil because he’s focussed on his own power and wealth, and he’s wasteful of the lives and suffering of others. So, in many ways, he is like a Republican politician in the real world.

The Great Books You Have Read Make You Who You Are

So, I began thinking about what the necromancer’s favorite great work of literature is. Obviously, it would be former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s favorite book, Atlas Shrugged. In that book, the hero John Galt asserts the notion that only certain people, creative types like himself and Ayn Rand and, presumably, Paul Ryan have the right to design the proper life for everybody. And they are capable of doing anything and getting away with it for the reason that it is in the best interests of everybody, even if it kills the poor and other lesser people.

This recognized classic book of fiction supporting a selfish philosophy is the reason why we have things like Reaganomics, Trump tax cuts, and border walls. The perfect explanation to certain readers of, “All the reasons why I should turn to evil.” It obviously is a book read and loved by not only Paul Ryan, but other important weasels in charge of everything like Senator Ted “Cancun” Cruz, Senator Mitch “Turtle Man” McConnell, and former Presidential Advisor Steve “The Human Sweat-stain” Bannon.

A good wizard (or Sorcerer) would have read and been influenced more probably by some of the great books of Uncle Boz, um, I mean, Charles Dickens. His is a much gentler and more generous philosophy which finds value in forlorn and mislaid individuals like Sydney Carton, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, or Tiny Tim. I know these books of magic are the ones I choose to battle evil wizards in my own life.

So, if great books made me, perhaps I can write my great book with heroes influenced by Dickens and villains influenced by Ayn Rand.

The Final Turn of the Park’s Sidewalk

As I head homeward from my walk in the park, I have two things gained from the exercise. My legs and back are very tired. And my head is boiling over with things I need to write.down.

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Filed under art criticism, book reports, fairies, humor, magic, philosophy, quotes

Fascination

I am falling apart. My health is poor and continuing to fail. My memory is suffering from an inability to remember the names of things. I find myself in the kitchen having gone in for a specific purpose, and not being able to remember what that purpose was. That is not to say I am not coping. I have quite a lot of adaptability and significant problem-solving skills. But that will eventually become a losing battle. Especially if I get the virus… any virus. So, what am I going to talk about with a dissolving brain and an hourglass of lifeforce swiftly running out? Fascination. I am fascinated by the details of the process. Like Mr. Spock, I find practically everything, “Fascinating!”

Birds and butterflies

My childhood fascinations turned into obsession first around natural things. When my mother would go to Vey Osier’s Beauty Salon, Vey had this fascinating parrot that was probably a hundred years old and knew how to swear really, really foully. I remember that being the only reason I was willing to go there and wait for Mom to get her hair fussed up (What my Grandpa Aldrich, her father, used to call it.)

I remember waiting for hours to hear that bird say the magic F-word or the horrible S-word. Or even the zillion other bad words I didn’t know anything about when I was seven. And, of course, I never did. The bird was mute the whole time during who-knows-how-many visits. But I did get to look endlessly at that green parrot’s amazing nutcracker bill that Vey always assured us would snap our fingers off like biting a salted pretzel if we got them anywhere close to the bill.

And when I was nine I was given as a present a plastic model kit of a Golden-Crowned Kinglet (the bird in that first picture). My relatives knew I was a burgeoning artist since my teachers constantly complained about all the skeletons, crocodiles, and monsters I drew in the margins of my school workbooks. So, I had a plastic bird to paint with all the necessary paints, but no idea what the bird looked like. We had to go all the way to Mason City to Grandma Beyer’s house because we called up there and checked, and, sure enough, there was a colored picture in the K volume of her Collier’s Encyclopedia. I painted it so accurately, the danged thing looked almost alive.

And if you have ever seen any of my butterfly posts, you know I became a butterfly hunter before ever entering junior high school, where Miss Rubelmacher, the rabid seventh-grade science teacher, made that obsession a hundred times worse. (She didn’t actually have rabies, just a reputation of requiring excessively hard-to-find life-science specimens like a nasturtium that bloomed in October in Iowa, or a Mourning Cloak butterfly.

I was able to find for her numerous Red-Spotted Purples like the one in the picture. I got them off the grill of Dad’s Ford, as well as in Grandpa Aldrich’s grove. And I eventually caught a pair of Mourning Cloaks as well on Grandpa Aldrich’s apple trees, though not until summer after seventh grade was over for me. I could tell you about my quest to catch a Tiger Swallowtail, too. But that’s an entirely different essay, written for an entirely different thematic reason.

Needless to say, my bird fascination led me to become an amateur bird-watcher with a great deal of useless naturalist information crammed into my juvenile bird-brain about birds. Especially Cardinals. And my fascination with butterflies opened my eyes to a previously invisible world of fascinating and ornately-decorated bugs. (Of course, I should’ve said “insects” instead of “bugs” since I absolutely did learn the difference.) And I still to this day know what a Hairstreak Butterfly looks like, what a Luna Moth is (Think Lunesta Commercials,) and how you have to look at the underside of the lower wings to correctly identify a Moonglow Fritillary Butterfly.

During my lifetime, my fascinations have become legion. I became obsessed with the comic books done by artist Wally Wood, especially Daredevil. I became obsessed with Disney movies, especially the animated ones like The Rescuers, The Jungle Book, Pinocchio, and Fantasia. I rode the bucking bronco of a fascination with the Roswell Crash (and the actual alien space ships I am almost certain the U.S. Army recovered there.) And so many other things that it would make this essay too long, and would probably bore you into a death-like coma. So, here’s what I have learned by being fascinated with my own fascinations;

  1. You do not want to play me in a game of Trivial Pursuit for money, even now that my memory is like swiss cheese.
  2. I have a real ability to problem-solve because I know so many useless details that can be combined in novel ways to come up with solutions to problems.
  3. I can write interesting essays and engaging novels because I have such a plethora of concrete details and facts to supplement my sentences and paragraphs with.
  4. It can be really, really boring to talk to me about any of my fascinations unless I happen to light the same color of fire in your imagination too. Or unless you arrived at that same fascination before I brought it up.

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Filed under birds, bugs, commentary, humor, imagination, insight

A Few Feet Apart

My second cousin in Iowa (daughter of my grandmother’s youngest brother and the oldest kid at the family Thanksgiving dinner in 1966 because she was two years older than me) is still in the hospital with the Delta Variant of Covid 19. She is apparently going to survive, but she is one of the many unvaccinated people causing the present surge in cases simply because she’s a loyal Republican Trumpkin who believes Fox News when it tells them that vaccinations violate their Constitutional rights and basic sacred Freedoms (as screamed by Senator Ted Cruz pretending to be William Wallace, but actually sounding more like comedian Wally Cox.)

I don’t believe that people have a Constitutional right to potentially infect people who can’t get vaccinated (like those who are severely immuno-compromised or those who are four-years-old and younger.)

That doesn’t mean I think my cousin deserves to die for her wrong beliefs. I pray that death isn’t the consequence for her poor choice of political beliefs. But increasingly, those on her side of the political fence (…or maybe the political castle wall, border wall, or deadly electrified fence) think that liberals like I have become are evil, communist, Satanist. Antifa, child-sex-trafficking cannibals and deserve to be killed with your sacred AR-15. (If I ate any white Christian babies for breakfast this morning, I was completely unaware of it. They tasted like regular pancakes and sausage.) The anger on their side is increasingly heated up and moved towards violence by their propaganda-wielding leaders. They will tell me to my face that if I support Biden’s political agenda, then I must be a communist, wanting to burn our country down and in favor of pedophilia. (And I don’t dare suggest that they might be prejudiced or even racist.)

“I basically loved every kid who ever walked into my classroom to be my student.”

“Really, Mickey? Even poor black kids who have challenging behaviors?”

“Some of my all-time favorite kids were black and had behavioral challenges. That’s why 2020 taught me to be on the side of Black Lives Matter.”

“That’s a radical thing. You should say All Lives Matter.”

“All lives do matter. But black lives have been under more threat than others. Can’t you say Black Lives Matter too?

I SAID ALL LIVES MATTER!!!”

“But why can’t you say Black Lives Matter too?”

And so the conversation ends.

They hate us. Because we don’t believe everything they believe. Especially the things that aren’t true. And it is only getting gradually worse.

And it’s frustrating. We are actually only a few feet apart. And think what a wonderfully beautiful ballet it would be if only we could synchronize our steps and dance the same dance.

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Filed under education, empathy, humor, insight, Liberal ideas, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Yes, I Throw a Moose or Two

I thought that this silly poem needed to be re-posted because school is ending.  The need for silliness is absolutely imperative.  I also need to throw a few mooses… er… moosei… er… meese?  How do you pluralize the word moose?

Life is as Hard as Bowling with a Moose (A Poem)

Life is like Moose Bowling,
Because…
In order to knock over all the pins,
And win…
You have to learn HOW TO THROW A MOOSE!

As the days count down, I have had to exercise my moose-throwing muscles more and more.  Today I have five days left in my teaching career.  So many precious kids I have to give up and never see again…  So many teachers will tell you that every year the kids are getting worse and worse, and their attitudes are turning more sour, disrespectful, and violent.  But those teachers don’t know the secret.  You have to throw a moose or two at the problem.  Real discipline is hard work.  Harder than demanding that kids sit in rows and be silent… heads down and pens scratching away.  You have to actually talk to kids and learn who they are… what they feel is important… what their problems are, and what they want you to do about them.   You have to be honest, give them a hook or two to draw them into the whole learning thing.  You have to actually care. 

So, I do.  I care.  And I let them talk.  It’s a moose that has to be tossed.

The comment was made this morning that you have to keep them working right up until the end of the year.  Doing no formal lessons in class is actually a lot harder and more risky than continuing to plod through the textbook.  But in five more days there are no more classes, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks… school’s out forever.   I haven’t done any lessons since two weeks ago.  Grades are in the gradebook.  I have been showing kids my favorite movies.  Especially movies from the eighties.  (Truthfully, I have not been well enough to actually teach.  My body aches and I can’t breathe very well)  I have been talking to kids about those movies… what they think about them, and what they think about life in general.  Kids are telling me they are worried about my poor health.  They say they are interested in my books and my writing, even though they don’t actually read just for pleasure and will never buy what I write… or even look at this blog.  They tell me about their troubles, their hopes and dreams, their most significant relationships, and they tell me that they will miss me next year.  Five days… will I make it through without breaking into tears?  No, I won’t.  I may not even try.  That’s one moose too heavy to throw.

But I have no regrets.  I have touched more than two thousand five hundred lives (a pretty close estimate… I don’t have a good enough memory to actually count.)  They have touched my life in return.  No other thing I could have done with my life would ever mean as much.  Doctors save lives, but teachers shape real people.  So what does it all mean?  I mean, really?  It means I have thrown a lot of mooses… er… moosei… er… well, you know what I mean.  And if my arms are growing weary, then it is for a very good reason.

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Filed under humor, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life, teaching

More Fairy Nonsense

Yes, in writing a story about fairies set in Fairyland, I am starting to see fairies everywhere. And I am sorta doing that to myself. Here is yesterday’s art project.

Pen and ink and paper, pasted on cardboard, with colored pencils.

Using Stacy and Ricky, dolls, scissors, glue, all things I already have plenty of.

Stacysparkle

Rickyflutter

They meet and share some Pixie Dust.

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Strawberry Fields

This foolish essay about berries that mean love to me is only partly inspired by the Beatles song, “Strawberry Fields Forever.” That’s because, of course, their song was only about meditating. In the lyrics they take you to the “Strawberry Fields where nothing is real… but it’s nothing to get hung up about…” They are talking about a blissful place of no worries where we all need to go. And then staying there forever.

This, of course, I could never do. Worrying about the future is tattooed on my behavioral imperatives in the dark part of my stupid old brain. And while I often found that place of no worries, and lingered there for a bit, I found you could never really get anything done if you stayed in that state of strawberry fields forever.

But don’t get me wrong, strawberries are a critical part of every healthy mental diet.

You see, my meditations on strawberries when I was a child of eight, nine, and ten centered on the strawberry patch at Great Grandma Hinckley’s place.

She was, as I incorrectly recall, slightly older than Jesus when I was that age. By that I mean, though she seemed museum-quality ancient to me, I had derived wisdom about life, love, and laughter from her before Sunday School taught me any of those things said in Jesus’s words.

And I was given the task of mowing her lawn in the little plot of land surrounding her little, tiny house in the Northern part of Rowan where I also lived and grew and celebrated Christmas and Halloween and Easter and the 4th of July. And though I was doing it because she was so old, I never even once thought she was too old and frail to do it herself. Grandma Hinckley’s willpower was a force of nature that could even quell tornados… well, I thought so anyway when I was eight. And she gave me a dollar every time I did the lawnmowing.

But there were other things she wanted done, and other things she wanted to teach me. There was the garden out back with the strawberry patch next to it. She wanted me to help with keeping the weeds and the saw grass and the creeping Charlie from overrunning the strawberries and choking them to death. (Creeping Charlie wasn’t an evil neighbor, by the way. He was a little round-leafed weed that grew so profusely that it prevented other plants from getting any sunlight on their own leaves, causing a withering, yellowing death by sunlight deprivation. I took my trowel to them and treated them like murderers. I showed them no mercy.)

And Grandma always reminded me not to be selfish and eat the very berries I was tending in the garden. She taught me that eating green strawberries (which are actually more yellow than green, but you know what I mean) was bad because they could give you a belly ache, a fact that that I proved to myself more than once (because eight-year-olds are stupid and learn slowly.) She also taught me that it is better to wait until you have enough strawberries to make a pie, or better yet, strawberry shortcake with whipped cream. She taught me that delayed gratification was more rewarding in the long run than being greedy in the short run and spoiling everything for everybody.

She always gave me a few of the ripe strawberries every time I helped her with them, even if I had eaten a few in the garden without permission. Strawberries were the fruit of true love. I know this because it says so in the strawberry picture. Even though I probably never figured out what true love really means.

My Great Grandma Nellie Hinckley was the foundation stone that my mother’s side of the family was built on. She was the rock that held us steadily in place during the thunderstorms, and the matriarch of the entire clan of Hinckleys and Aldriches and Beyers and other cousins by the dozens and grandchildren and great grandchildren and even great great grandchildren. I painted the picture of her in 1980 when she passed away. I gave it to my Grandma Aldrich, her second-eldest daughter. It spent three decades in Grandma’s upstairs closet because looking at it made Grandma too sad to be so long without her. The great grandchild in the picture with her is now a grandmother herself (though no one who has seen this picture knows who it is supposed to be because I painted her solely from memory and got it all wrong.) But Grandma Hinckley taught me what true love means. And true love has everything to do with how you go about taking care of the strawberry patch.

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