Category Archives: imagination

Lazy Sunday Silliness

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Imagination is always the place I go in times of trouble.  I have a part of my silly old brain devoted to dancing the cartoon dance of the dundering doofus.  It has to be there that I flee to and hide because problems and mistakes and guilt and pessimism are constantly building un-funny tiger-traps of gloom for me to rot at the bottom of.  You combat the darkness with bright light.  You combat hatred with love.  You combat unhappiness with silly cartoonish imaginings.  Well… maybe you don’t.  But I do.

calvin-and-hobbes

When reading the Sunday funnies in the newspaper on lazy Sunday afternoons, I spent years admiring Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes for its artistry and imaginative humor, believing it was about a kid who actually had a pet talking tiger.  I didn’t get the notion that Hobbes was actually a toy tiger for the longest time.  That’s because it was basically the story of my own boyhood.  I had a stuffed tiger when I was small. He talked.  He went on adventures with me.  And he talked me into breaking stuff and getting into trouble with Mom and Dad. It was absolutely realistic to me.

Dinosaurs

I have always lived in my imagination.  Few people see the world the way I view it.  I have at least four imaginary children to go along with the three that everybody insists are real.  There’s Radasha, the boy faun, my novel characters Tim Kellogg and Valerie Clarke, and the ghost dog that lurks around the house, especially at night.  That plus Dorin, Henry, and the Princess (the three fake names that I use in this blog for my three real children).

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Have you noticed how Watterson’s water-color backgrounds fade into white nothingness the way daydreams do?  Calvin and Hobbes were always a cartoon about turning the unreal into the real, turning ideas upside down and looking at them through the filter-glasses of Spaceman Spiff.

Spaceman-Spiff

Unique and wonderful solutions to life’s problems can come about that way.  I mean, I can’t actually use a bloggular raygun to vaporize city pool inspectors, but I can put ideas together in unusual ways to overcome challenges.  I almost got the pool running again by problem-solving and repairing cracks myself.

 

So, I am now facing the tasks of working out a chapter 13 bankruptcy and having a swimming pool removed.  The Princess will need to be driven to and from school each day.  I will need to help Henry find another after-school job.  And the cool thing is, my imaginary friends will all be along for the ride.  Thank you, Calvin.  Thank you, Hobbes.  You made it all possible.  So, please, keep dancing the dance of the dundering doofus.

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Filed under artists I admire, autobiography, cartoons, feeling sorry for myself, humor, imagination, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Imaginary People

Millis 2

It pretty much goes without saying that, since I am an author of fiction, determined to be a storyteller, I spend most of my time talking to people who exist only inside my goofy old head.  Sure, most of the imaginary people I create to keep me company are at least loosely based on real people that I either once knew, or still know.  You can tell that about Millis, the rabbit-man, pictured here on the right, can’t you?  Sure.  I had a New Zealand White pet rabbit that I raised as a 4-H project.  His name was Ember-eyes… because, well, yeah… red eyes.  It just happens that my goofy old memory transformed him into an evolution-enhanced science experiment in my unpublished novel, The Bicycle-Wheel Genius.  But he was a real person once… ’cause rabbits are people too, right?

farmgirl1

Anita Jones, a character from my unpublished novel, Superchicken, is based on a real person too.  I admit, there was a girl in my class from grades K through 6 that I secretly adored and would’ve done anything to be near, though every significant event I remember from my life that involved an encounter with her, involved red-faced embarrassment for me.  That’s why I remember her as having auburn-colored hair.  Charley Brown’s Little Red-Haired Girl… duh!  I would’ve died sooner than tell her how I really felt, even now, but by making her into one of a multitude of imaginary people who inhabit my life, I can be so close to her that sometimes I am actually inside her mind.  There’s a sort of creepy voyeurism-squared sort of thing.

dorin 003

Dorin Dobbs, the main human character of my published novel, Catch a Falling Star, is an imaginary character based mostly on my eldest son, though, in fact, I started writing that novel five years before he was born.  Like most of the imaginary people in my life, I talk to Dorin repeatedly even when the real Dorin is half a world away in the Marine Corps.  And even though the Dorin I am talking to is not the real Dorin, he is still constantly using language that is extra-salty far beyond his years, and is often defiant of my fatherly wisdom, and always argues for the exact opposite of any opinion I express.  That’s just how it is to be the father of an imaginary son.

Realistically, I have to admit that even the flesh-and-blood people in my life are imaginary.  No one ever actually inhabits another person’s head except through the magic of imagination.  Even though I am talking to you at this moment, you are only an imaginary person to me.  I don’t even know your name as I write this.  And I am the same to you.  You may have read my writing enough to think you know something about me… but you really only know the Mickey in your mind that I have worked at putting there with my words.  And I really have no idea what that imaginary Mickey you have in your head is like.  He is probably really the opposite of who I think I am.

mANDY

I am, after all, married to this girl panda, Mandy Panda from the Pandalore Islands, and my three children are all Halfasian part-panda-people.  Yes, this is the imaginary person who is my real-life wife.  The secret is, we only ever know the imaginary people we have in our goofy little heads.  We don’t know the real person behind anyone in our lives, because it is simply not possible to really know how anybody else thinks or feels, even if they write out their lengthy treatise about how all people are imaginary people.  That stuff is just too goofy-dippy to be real.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, characters, goofiness, humor, imagination, Paffooney, rabbit people, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Self-Reflection

Every writer, whether he or she writes fiction or non-fiction, is really writing about themselves. The product originates within the self. So, that self has to gaze into the mirror from time to time.

So, the question for today is, who, or possibly what, is Mickey?

I have been posting stuff every day for a few years now, and in that time, I have been much-visited on WordPress. Maybe not much-read, but then, you cannot actually tell if somebody read it or not. Most probably look only at the pictures. And, since I am also an artist of sorts, that can also be a good thing. Though, just like most artists, my nude studies are more popular than the pieces I value the most. But unless the looker makes a comment or leaves a “like”, you really have no idea if they read or understood any of the words I wrote. And you have no idea what they feel about the art. Maybe they just happened to click on one of my nudes while surfing for porn.

I rarely get below 50 views of something in my blog every day. The last three days were 86 views, 124 views yesterday, and 88 views already today. My blog has definitely picked up pace over the length of the coronavirus quarantine. But no definable reason seems obvious. Some of my posts are polished work, but Robin is right when he says today’s post is merely fishing with the process, which is true almost every day.

As a person I am quirky and filled with flaws, pearls of wisdom that result from clam-like dealing with flaws, strange metaphors that shine the pearls, and obsessions like the one I have with nudism that leaves me properly dressed for diving for pearls.

I have demonstrated throughout my life that I have an interest in and experience with nudism, though not the boldness to parade my naked self before the world outside of the writing that I do. I also spent most of my bachelorhood dating reading teachers and teachers’ aides, finally settling down and marrying another English teacher. I completed a thirty-one year career as an English teacher, which means I spent a lot of time teaching writing and reading to kids who were ages 12 to 18. Twenty-four of those years were spent in the middle school monkey house. And all of that led to being so mentally damaged that I wasn’t good for much beyond becoming a writer of YA novels or possibly subbing for other mentally-damaged teachers in middle schools around our house.

A real telling feature of what I have become is the fact that most of the characters I write about in my fiction are somehow a reflection of me. Milt Morgan, seen to the left, is illustrated here with a picture of me as a ten-year-old wearing a purple derby. Yes, I was that kind of geeky nerd.

And most of the plots are based around things that happened to me as a child, a youth, or a young teacher. Many of the events in the stories actually happened to me, though the telling and retelling of them are largely twisted around and reshaped. And I am aware of all the fairies, aliens, werewolves, and clowns that inhabit my stories. Though I would argue that they were real too in an imaginative and metaphorical way.

So, here now is a finished post of Mickey staring into the metaphorical mirror and trying in vain to define the real Michael, an impossible, but not unworthy task.

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Clovis

This is my most recent illustration for He Rose on a Golden Wing.

His name is Clovis. He is either a faun, or a ghost of boy who killed himself. But he is not real. He is only seen and heard by the main characters because they ate some marijuana-laced brownies.

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Monster Mashing

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One of the side “benefits” of having diabetes is that it often comes with an extra helping of diabetic depression.  I had the blues really bad this week.  I am not the only member of my family suffering.

So, what do you do about it?

Or, rather, what does a goofy idiot like me do about it?

Especially on a windy day when the air is saturated with pollen and other lovely things that I am absolutely, toxically allergic to?

Well, for one thing, I used the word toxically in this post because it is a funny-sounding adverb that I love to use even though the spell-checker hates it, no matter how I spell or misspell it.

And I bought a kite.

Yes, it is a cheap Walmart kite that has a picture of Superman on it that looks more like Superboy after taking too much kryptonite-based cough syrup for his own super allergies.

But I used to buy or make paper diamond kites just like this one when I was a boy in Iowa to battle the blues in windy spring weather.  One time I got one so high in the sky at my uncle’s east pasture that it was nothing more than a speck in the sky using two spools of string and one borrowed ball of yarn from my mother’s knitting basket.  It is a way of battling blue meanies.

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And I bought more chocolate-covered peanuts.  The chocolate brings you up, and the peanut protein keeps you from crashing your blood sugar.  I have weathered more than one Blue Meanie attack with m&m’s peanuts.

And I used the 1957 Pink and White Mercury of Imagination to bring my novel, The Baby Werewolf, home.  I wrote the last chapter Monday night in the grip of dark depression, and writing something, and writing it well, makes me a little bit happier.

And I have collected a lot of naked pictures of nudists off Twitter.  Who knew that you could find and communicate with such a large number of naked-in-the-sunshine nuts on social media?  It is nice to find other nude-minded naturists in a place that I thought only had naked porn until I started blogging on naturist social media.  Being naked in mind and body makes me happier than I ever thought it would.

And besides being bare, I also like butterflies and books and baseball and birds, (the Cardinals have started baseball season remember) and the end of winter.  “I just remember of few of my favorite things, and then I don’t feel so bad!”  Oh, and I like musical movies like The Sound of Music too.

The monsters of deep, dark depression are being defeated as we speak.

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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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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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How to Totally Waste Your Free Time

Yes, editing a book is like giving scissors to a monkey. Things are going to be cut. The cuts will be totally random. And then you need to paste if all back together yourself and try to make sense of it all again while cussing the damned monkey under your breath so that the monkey doesn’t hear it… unless on this project you are your own monkey.

I have now spent about five years taking my first published novel, the crappiest thing I ever wrote, published by the worst piratical publisher ever to board the sailing ship of my writer’s imagination, and expand it by rewriting and adding story elements that I never reached in the original.

It has been a terrible, blood-boiling effort to turn nonsense, corny jokes, numerous real science fiction ideas, and an overly-excited imagination into a coherent story that is intentionally a cross between Frank Herbert’s Dune and Douglas Adama’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

One of the main flaws of the book is the typical imitation-Dune problem of way too many characters to keep track of. Not just characters… too many planets, alien creatures, robots, alien cultures, star-born weirdnesses, and plot curlicues. My solution to this; add in lots of illustrations (I had originally sold the idea to the publishing pirates with illustrations included… which they cut down to five… and then eliminated completely,) and create an extensive set of appendixes that allow confused readers to look up the weird names and nouns that confronted them on every page.

The plot is overly complex and Dune-like specifically because of how it came to be. I was playing a space-based role-playing game called Traveller with three to eight middle school and high school students who were mostly former students of mine in the 1980’s. They created the player characters who become the lead characters in the book. Both the Aero Brothers, Trav Dalgoda, Tron Blastarrr, and many others were created by the boys. They then went on adventures that began in my imagination, but then took their many twists and turns through where the players wanted to go, what they wanted to build, buy, or steal, and what they chose to do about their many life-and-death encounters.

Book 4 is the manuscript, now finished, that I am editing and will soon publish.

I have reached the fun part of the story where critical things begin to happen that make life-and-death changes to the lives of the most important characters.

The end of the original story will occur in the next book of the series. Book 5 has about fifty percent of its content already written. I will have to write and paste in the extended content for the other fifty percent.

It will end up being not the worst novel I have ever written. It will be the worst five novels. Unless the monkey with the scissors works a miracle or two.

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Filed under aliens, humor, imagination, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, satire, science fiction

Living in the World I Once Drew

The Grain Mill

It is normal for the world we live in to inspire us to draw pictures of it. But architects do the opposite. They imagine a world we could live in, and then build it.

David and Me in Cotulla

Sometimes, like in the picture above, I draw real people in imaginary places. Other times I draw imaginary people and put them in real places.

Gyro and Billy on the planet Pan Galactica A

Sometimes I put imaginary people in imaginary places. (I photo-shopped this planet myself.)

Superchicken and Sherry before school

In fiction, I am re-casting my real past as something fictional, so the places I draw with words in descriptions need to be as real as my amber-colored memory can manage.

Valerie and her skateboard in front of the Congregational Church

When I use photos, though, I have to deal with the fact that over time, places change. The church does not look exactly like it did in the 1980s when this drawing is set.

Drawing things I once saw, and by “drawing” I mean “making pictures,” is how I recreate myself to give my own life meaning.

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Horatio T. Dogg… Canto 10

Front Porch Deductions

The next day, of course, was Sunday.  And after Sunday School and Church, Bobby knew exactly where to find Horatio.  It was a screen porch with room enough for two rocking chairs, a futon couch/bed foldout, an old easy chair, and a small table for iced tea, lemonade, and the checkerboard.  But there was also a spot on the homemade rug in front of Grandpa’s rocking chair where the sunbeams converged and made a warming zone that was absolutely perfect for warming arthritic dog joints and soothing old-dog complaints that needed to be soothed to allow half-day-long naps.

“So, Horatio, here you are!”

The elderly collie yawned.  “Yes, Bobby.  Here I are.”

“Silly old dog!  You’re supposed to say Here I am.”

“Yes, I know that.  You must remember, every time you hear me speaking like this, the voice is actually coming out of your own imagination.”

“Sure, and I guess I must’ve made you say it wrong on purpose for some evil reason.”

“Not an evil reason.  A familiar one.  Grandpa Butch makes that kind of joke by mirroring the things you say as if they were incorrect on purpose.  It’s the way his sense of humor works, and you are really smart enough to know that, though you often pretend that you aren’t.  Your mind filled in the blanks in a way that sounds right to you, even when there’s joking involved because that’s the world you’re used to.”

Of course, Bobby knew one hundred percent that he was writing the entire discussion in his head because he wanted Horatio to talk like he knew Sherlock Holmes probably would.

Bobby sat on the porch floorboards in his short pants and buried his right hand in the silky fur of Horatio’s neck.

“Why do dogs make such good friends?” Bobby said more to himself than to Horatio.

“Because dogs love their chosen humans.  And a dog knows how to listen to people much better than any cat or parrot, or goldfish.  Dogs may not know the words you are using all of the time. But they know your smell.  And they know how to read what you are thinking and feeling because the see it in your face.  No stupid cat can do that.”

“But cats are better at catching mice and rats,” said Shane, while stepping out on the porch with a piece of Mom’s cherry pie on a small plate that he handed to Bobby.

“Thanks, Shane.”

“You’re welcome.  I had mine in the kitchen, and Mom asked me to bring yours out here.”

“It’s good,” Bobby said with the first bite in his mouth.  “But, hey, wait.  How did you know what Horatio said about cats?”

“And how did you get the information so wrong, too?” added Horatio.

“It wasn’t Horatio talking.  It was you.”

“Oh.”

“See, my dear Robert, I told you my words all come out of your imagination.  And sometimes your mouth,” said Horatio.

“Did you hear Horatio say that last thing?”

“What?”

“That thing he said about where the words come from?”

“I didn’t hear the dog say anything,” said Shane.

“I told you, dear boy, it’s only in your head.

“Well, of course, it is.”

“Is what?” asked Shane.

“You shouldn’t be holding two conversations in your head as the same time.  You are confusing your brother Shane,” said Horatio.

“Yes, see.  Only I can hear the dog talking.”

“You’re weird,” said Shane, grinning at Bobby as he left him to enjoy his pie with Horatio as company.

Then, something in the yard caught Bobby’s attention.  Out between the porch and the barn, on the gravel drive, a large rat was slinking along doing rat business as if he didn’t care who or what saw him.

“Who is that, Horatio?”

“That, dearest Robert, is Whitewhiskers Billy.  He’s an evil, egg-sucking rat.”

“So, that’s Whitewhiskers Billy, is it?”

“Why would that rat be Whitewhiskers Billy?” asked Grandpa as Bobby realized that Grandpa Butch had suddenly appeared at the doorway between the porch and the house.

“Did you hear Horatio call him that?” asked Bobby.

“No, I heard you say it,” said Grandpa.

“Oh.  So, why is he called Whitewhiskers Billy?

“Because his whiskers smell white.  He eats chicken droppings.  It makes them sort of bleached white,” said Horatio.

“Because his whiskers smell white,” said Bobby.

“Smell white?  Horatio tell you that?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Well, I think we should put some rat poison out, maybe in the barn and under the hen house..” said Grandpa.  “That will give old Whitewhiskers Bill something to think about.”

“Will that kill him?” Bobby asked.

“It should.  But we will have to be careful that the dog and the stupid turkens don’t get into it.  We would hate to lose any of them by being less than careful.”

Bobby nodded wide-eyed.  He certainly didn’t want Horatio to get poisoned.  Of course, if it got a turken or two, he wouldn’t be too upset.

“I need to check the flyer I got from the hardware store in Clarion.  I think I remember a sale on a good poison to put in the barn.”  Grandpa left the porch again too.

As Bobby continued to sit in the warm, yellow sunshine with Horatio, he began noticing his bare white legs, how girlish they looked in the sunlight.

“Can you tell if Blueberry is a girl or a boy by smell?”

“She definitely smells girlish.  No boy smell.  No boy pee.  Lots of girly flower smells.”

“I have always believed she is a girl.”

“Yes, and you kinda like her too.  It’s a shame she already has a boyfriend.”

“Horatio!”

“You know I can tell how you feel about her by the scent of romance whenever you’re around her.  And I know that whatever gender-irregularities she may have, you are convinced that she must be a girl.  Remember, I will always know what you are thinking because…”

“Because you are the world’s greatest dog-detective with your all-knowing sniffer.”

“See there?  You are a lot smarter than you let people think you are.  And you are a great imaginer too.”

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