Category Archives: Paffooney

My Current Novel Project -Sing Sad Songs

Here is a sample chapter from my rough draft to give you an idea of how this nonsense is progressing.

Blue Dawn

Canto 25 – Wish Upon a Star

I honestly was just minding my own business.  The bar, I mean.  I was minding the bar.  Ugly Bill and his idiot child were talking to the FBI somewhere they didn’t bother to inform me about.  Orgus, Bill’s truck-driving uglier son was in the hospital.  And my brother Richard was home in front of the TV pretending to be sick or something.  It was just me, Captain Noah Dettbarn, and an amazing number of unwashed glasses in a business that hardly ever had customers enough to get multiple glasses dirty.

The Captain was busy with his one and only bottle for the day, probably thinking about the South Seas Islands where he used to go by cargo ship.  A place where palm trees swayed in the breeze and tropical girls danced in grass skirts with no tops on.  I envied his memories.  So much more colorful than small-town Iowa in October.  Why did it always seem to be October in Iowa, anyway?  Sweater weather and cold snaps and early frost.

But my regrets and glass-washing were interrupted by the whole gaggle of Norwall Pirates coming into the bar where they really weren’t supposed to be.

Billy was leading the way, followed by that danged Ricky kid.  I knew he would be back.  And Francois and little silent black kid and then the two girls, Mary and Val.

“Ricky wants to try the singing machine,” Billy said.  “Would that be okay? Please?”

I glared at them all.  “What have I got to lose?  The instruction book is on top of it.  And if Ricky breaks it, Ricky’s daddy the cop has to pay for it.”

Ricky grinned at me.  “You know he don’t have no money, right?”

So, like a flock of pigeons or a gaggle of geese they circled around the clunky Japanese squawker box and started chirping and arguing and other things that were hard to ignore.  I couldn’t help but notice how pretty young Valerie really was.  Even in baggy Fall clothes, she had a body and face that were going to take her far in life and going to break more than one heart.  I wondered if she was in any danger from the Teddy Bear Killer that Ugly Bill was going to help capture.  Of course, I knew the pervert only killed boys.  Still, I had to wonder.

“So that’s what you have to do,” Billy was explaining from the manual.  “And now all you have to do is pick one, put the number in, and sing.”

“I try first!” Sang out Ricky.

“Don’t you wanna let the deaf kid sing first?” I asked.  “I have never heard his voice.”

“Uncle Victor, you know he can’t speak except in sign language.”  Billy was glaring back at me.  That skinny little hairball on stick legs was trying to correct my social skills.  Nuts to that.  I ate a few more antacid tablets.

“That would be perfect for me,” I grumbled to myself.

“Here’s the one I want,” Ricky declared, “Steppenwolf, Born to be Wild.”

Billy helped him type in the right series of numbers, then the screeching began.

“Get your motor running…!” he bellowed like a moose during mating season.  “Head out on the highway…”

I regretted not buying earplugs when I bought the damned karaoke thingy.  I regretted it almost as much as not being on a South Sea island with girls in grass skirts and no tops.

“Looking for adventure…!”  I started fixating on counting the bar glasses on the counter behind me, anything but listening to that moose-mating noise pollution.  I also re-stacked the coasters and cleaned the peanut bowls.  I successfully refocused my attention to totally ignore Ricky destroying that song.

“Oh, gawd!  I only get twenty-five percent on that score?  I thought I sang better than that!”

“That was pretty awful, Rick,” Valerie said diplomatically.

Ricky looked angry, but everybody else was nodding agreement.  So, the kid gave up and pressed the microphone into Francois’s hand.  The French boy entered a code surprisingly quickly.

“When you wish upon a star…”

My beloved Jesus!  It was electrifyingly good right from the very first note.

“Makes no difference who you are…”

They were all listening with their mouths open.

“Anything your heart desires… will come to you…”

Even the Captain was listening.  I swear I saw tears in his old red eyes.

“If your heart is in your dreams… no request is too extreme…”

I couldn’t help but think about how depressed this kid had been since I brought him here.  He’d lost his whole family.  He’d been in the back seat of the car with them when they had died.  He’d been sleeping hour after hour at our house because he was too sad to do anything but dream.  And here he was putting his whole soul into a song about dreams and wishes and stars… and I… um… I was about to cry too when he hit that last long beautiful note.

The song ended, and everyone was stunned.  The machine put fireworks on the screen and scored him one hundred percent.

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“Sing it again,” said Valerie, softly.  It was the only thing anyone could say.  And then he sang it again, just as amazingly beautiful as the first time.  And he scored one hundred again.  Everyone was sniffling or openly crying because it was so touching.  Especially pretty little Valerie who had lost her own father only a couple of years ago.  Her cheeks were dripping wet.

“Vicar, you gotta have him sing that again tonight,” said the Captain.  “People have got to hear that.  I mean… gawd dang!  That was amazing!  I gotta bring folks here to hear that.”

And I knew he was right.  That was not something we could afford to keep to ourselves.  That kid had real talent.

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Filed under clowns, humor, music, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

Questionable Progress

After four days of working on getting my car fixed, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel.  I have not gotten it into the shop yet.  I still have to climb over the middle divider from the passenger door because neither door on the left side of my car can be opened.  Both are bent and jammed.

But the gaggle of insurance agents squabbling over who pays for it all is beginning to sound like I might not have to shoulder the entire burden myself.  There is a consensus that the accident was not my fault.  (Probably due to the fact that the police officer making the accident report clearly stated it was the other goofball’s fault in his written report.)  So, Geico, the perpetrator’s insurance, has generously agreed to pay 85 percent of the cost of repair and rental car.  (85 percent???  Why not a hundred???  Apparently, because I couldn’t testify with 100 percent certainty with my hand on a Bible that I had my lights on at a quarter to noon in the rain, even though I am in the habit of having my lights turned on even if it is just cloudy and would’ve automatically turned them off when I got out of the car to prevent the warning dinger from dinging.  That should cost me $300, right?)  My insurance agent from Progressive is willing to argue all the way to arbitration that I deserve 100% coverage, especially since Geico is paying for it, and Uber also stands ready to be coerced to pay if need be because I was on my way to pick up a meal delivery at the time of the accident.

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So, I am hopeful in a pessimistic sort of way that I am not going to be socked with another bill that is higher than my emergency fund (which I maintain on the orders of my bankruptcy lawyer).

But it is not only good news about car repair that I am finding questionable today.  I have also made progress on a stubborn printer/scanner that has been failing to work properly since I bought it new.  I discovered I needed to go online to download an HP printer driver, not once, but twice.  Apparently, it had been rendered useless because just after I downloaded and made it work the day I bought the thing, HP decided to update that software with critical patches that I did not have.  So, the second download allowed me to discover…

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…That the scanner bed was still too small to scan the size of art needed to scan my graphic novel and get that usefully re-created through scans on the internet.  You can see the cover is too large to scan the whole thing in one go.  I am, however, tricksy enough to scan it in parts and paste the whole together with the paint and art editing tools I already have on the computer.  I intend to start doing that to get Hidden Kingdom up and running on my Dungeons and Dragons Saturday posts.

Here’s an adjusted scan to increase my ability to copy and paste a whole together from parts…

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It should be easy to quilt together the artwork over time and provide a view not grayed out by having to reproduce the black and white pen and ink art in shades of gray, the way I must if I try to do the thing photographically.

And I can definitely say that scanned art is better than photographed art.

I have included a couple more scans to prove the point.

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Filed under angry rant, art editing, feeling sorry for myself, grumpiness, humor, Paffooney

Aeroquest… Canto 33

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Canto 33 – Dance of the Two Spiders

      Naylund Smith was dressed in a formal silk jacket with an embroidered Japanese-style phoenix raising its wings across the chest and turning to flaming ashes on the back.  A white chord ran down the left leg of the blue silk pants and ended in an embroidered white spider, the first time Ged was to see the White Spider’s personal logo on anything.

Ged couldn’t help but admire the strong-looking, erect posture of this amazing man.  He wore a gold earring in his left ear; his head was shaved and hairless except for white eyebrows, a white bun at the very back of the head, and a white goatee.  The man’s iron-gray eyes glared like the stare of an eagle.  Only the golden walking stick hinted at any weakness in the man, and he never seemed to lean upon it.

“The web of space is locked in an ever-expanding spiral dance,” said Naylund as ceremonial armor was strapped to Ged’s arms and chest.  “The spiders that move from strand to strand are merely a counterpoint to the great dancing flow of the web itself.  When spiders contend for space on the web, then the dance reaches its most violent and most beautiful point.  I cannot help you with the next few steps of the dance.  The prophecy says that you will be victorious, but no prophecy is ever absolute unless it can be proven to come from God himself.”

“You sound like I am about to have some kind of duel,” said Ged cautiously.  “I thought this was just a welcoming ceremony.”

“It is that.  It is also deadly serious.”

Little Ham Aero Junior was brought to Ged dressed in a milk-white kimono, and an embroidered white spider picked out in light blue covered the heart.  The female attendants left him with Ged.

“I am to stand with you, Ged-sensei,” the boy said.

“Did Frieda teach you to speak so well?” Ged asked the little Nebulon.

“No.  I learned your language long ago by telepathy.”

“Why didn’t you ever teach it to your mother?”

“She hardly ever spoke to me.  I was nothing but a reminder to her of the shame of her servitude.”

“I’m so sorry for you, Junior.”

“Don’t be.  Now I belong to you and you belong to me.  I will stand at your side and die rather than leave you.”

“A very handsome and noble child,” said Naylund.  “He deserves to be treated well by you, Ged.”

“Don’t worry, Naylund-sensei.  I am learning to love my nephew too.”  Ged smiled at Junior.

Naylund motioned to Ged to leave the tent where he had been dressed in armor.  He was now done up in the armor of a Japanese daimyo or feudal lord, a samurai.  He had everything but the demon mask on him.

As Ged, Naylund and Junior stepped out into the arena, 40,000 people cheered.  Ged was stunned to see so many people.  Being a spacer meant being alone more often than with other people.  He’d never in his life been with so many at once.

“Behold!  The so-called White Spider,” said a man across from Ged in the arena.  He gestured with a silver katana sword to Ged and his two companions.  “What do you say that I test this gaijin?  Do you really believe he is the white spider?”

The crowd roared that they did believe.

“Well, we shall see,” said the man, drawing his katana in front of him.

“He will now try to kill you, Ged,” said Naylund.  “If he succeeds, he will kill the boy and me as well.”

“But, wait!” said Ged.  “I am unarmed!”  He sounded panicky.

“According to prophecy,” said Naylund, “that’s not supposed to be a problem.”

“I am the Black Spider,” shouted the man.  Ged noticed his black silk robes bore a red spider-symbol on the chest.  “I will kill you now, Ged Aero!”

The man charged at Ged with lightning speed.  He was obviously martial-arts trained, and knew precisely what to do.  Ged tried to dodge, but the katana came down on his right shoulder in a perfect arc.  Ged’s right arm was neatly severed at the shoulder.

The crowd gasped.  Ged fell to his knees gasping also.  Junior tried to run to him, but Naylund grabbed him and firmly held him.

“Patience, little one.  Ged must pass this test himself.”

Ged’s mind swirled, but fixed on an image from his mind implanted there when Tara helped him return to his rightful form.  His inner eye sharpened and fixed the image with crystal clarity.  Immediately the arm grew back into place.  The crowd was silent with shock.

“So!” said the Black Spider.  “You are a magician!  It will help you not!  I have killed many magicians before you.”

Ged didn’t bother to listen.  Power was surging through him.  He could feel the rightness of each shape as it came to him.

“Tara?” said Junior, amazed at what he saw.  Ged had changed first into the lithe figure of Tara Salongi so that the bulky clothing and armor would fall away.  Then, as the nude female Ged stepped free of the binding clothing, he was already turning into the fearsome raptor dinosaur from Don’t Go Here.

“Try this!” cried the Black Spider as he leaped onto Ged’s scaly back and tried to sever the saurian head.  Ged’s clawed foot nimbly came up and swept the attacker off, as easily as a horse knocks flies off his flanks with a twitching tail.  The other clawed foot found the Black Spider as he hit the ground, the wicked hook slicing into the flesh of his stomach.

The Black Spider wobbled to his feet again, defiant and angry.  His intestines began to droop out of his wound. “Good trick, spider, but I’m not beaten yet!”

Even as the Black Spider was bragging, Ged remembered one other beast he had been forced to kill and eat.  He morphed almost immediately into a Samothracian Shadowcat, one of the most difficult creatures he had ever hunted.  On the colorful planet of Samothrace, with its many xeno-flowers, shadowcats had developed the ability to change color so masterfully; they could practically disappear from view.  As soon as the first paw touched the sand of the arena floor, Ged shimmered and disappeared.

“What?  Where…?” cried the Black Spider, swinging his sword wildly.  Attacks battered him from three sides.  Ged it seemed, had turned into the wind.  It looked like puffs of air were slashing the Black Spider; until finally, the sword fell from his hand and the Black Spider fell dead and thoroughly bloodied.  Ged remained invisible so as not to disgust the crowd as he replenished himself by feeding on the flesh of the enemy.  He also ate his own severed arm before he finally reappeared in his own form.

Naked, he quickly dressed in the samurai armor once again, though not bothering with the many straps and ties.  The crowd was utterly silent, which left Ged wondering what it meant.

Shen Ming approached solemnly, holding two sheathed swords in his hands.

“You have done well, my son.  Take your swords of office.”

Ged humbly received the swords from Shen-sensei.  He bowed.  There was a beautiful silver katana with a white ivory pommel and a smaller golden wakizashi with a blue woven pommel.  The crowd now began to cheer riotously.

“I have defeated the Black Spider?” asked Ged of Naylund.

“You have defeated the first of many Black Spiders, Ged-sama.  We will never be at a loss for villains.”

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Oyif!!! Life Smacks in the Fast Lane

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I was feeling good after making arrangements to pay off the IRS and both of my hospital bills over time in amounts that I could squeeze out of my present retirement income.  Then a random act of stupidity in the rain deprived me of my ability to earn extra money through driving for Uber.

I was driving north in the rain towards the meal delivery I had from Panda Express.  I was in the left-hand lane driving next to the median on the divided part of Josey Lane.  I was in no way expecting to need any defensive driving measures.  In fact, I wouldn’t have succeeded if I had been able to react.  The other driver turned directly into my drivers-side doors, effectively sealing both of them so they could not be opened.  He told me he didn’t see me in the rain.  I suppose it is possible that was true, but I don’t see how considering how clearly I saw him at the last moment.

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Sudden surprise bangs and damage are not particularly good for diabetics, either.  I got pulled off into the parking lot, canceled my Uber delivery, and had the shakes so bad that I could barely call 911.  My fingers didn’t work properly.

But by the time the ambulance had arrived, my brief battle with shock was over.  My blood sugar checked out fine in the ambulance and they let me talk to the police and then drive my damaged-but-still-drivable car home.

Now I have the nightmare of dealing with insurance and how I am going to pay for it.

My wife tells me that since the accident obviously wasn’t my fault, I shouldn’t have to pay for any of the damages.  Of course, we all know that in the buccaneering world of American insurance, that is not how it works.

So now I can honestly report that I am physically okay, and financially in worse jeopardy.  Such is the way the life of Mickey is apparently intended to work out.

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Filed under angry rant, feeling sorry for myself, humor, Paffooney

Computerrific Discombobbula

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Technology is supposed to be your friend.   But the last few days have proved repeatedly that computers are definitely not Mickey’s friends.  They don’t seem to like him even a little bit.

The problem seems to stem from making the mistake of taking my beloved old laptop to Iowa.  My daughter was the only family member who could go along on the vacation to see Grampa and Gramma.  And her laptop now consists of a broken laptop body with no keyboard linked to a wifi-linkable keyboard and wifi-linkable used-television monitor.  That computer was not exactly in a portable condition.  I suggested she could replace the sticky-used-chewing-gum connections when she got to Iowa, but she wouldn’t risk it.

So the decision was made to take both my old laptop with the barely living battery and my backup cheap Walmart laptop for her to use.  We made it to Iowa with my beloved old laptop still able to boot up on the barely living battery.  I had tried to replace the battery by purchasing a new one directly from HP online.  But it was delayed enough that we couldn’t get it before leaving.  Still, the car trip didn’t completely kill the dying battery I had.  So I used it to save and edit pictures from the Wright County Fair and write my daily posts while visiting in Iowa.  A successful trip by internet-addicted idiots according to the uninformed standards I was apparently judging it by.

But on returning home to Texas, disaster struck totally by laptop.

First of all, the dying battery expired as soon as I tried to fire up Old Beloved on our return home.  And then I learned that the battery I had bought to revive it was an out-of-stock discontinued item at the HP factory.  My order had been canceled.  They gave me a line on a company that provided discontinued parts, but I did not have the money to swing that at the end of the month.  So that went on hold.

My backup laptop had now become my new Old Beloved.  But for the life of me, I couldn’t remember any of my old passwords for practically everything on the internet.  So, I spent a week recovering online accounts on my new Old Beloved.  That was hectic and un-swell.  But I reached a point where most of my August bills were paid or scheduled to be paid, and I was settling into my old routine again when I discovered the terrible mistake I had made.  My daughter had keyed everything on the new Old Beloved to her Google account.  I had been saving all my new passwords to her account rather than my own.  Oh, beehoofadoo!  Whoever would’ve thought that such world-rattling consequences could befall me because of such an innocent mistake?  There was a point at which I had no way back into my email account because it was no longer tied to my cell phone or current computer, and there were no means for recovering it, not even by using voodoo.  Then I happened to remember an account I had set up solely to get back into Pinterest in 2016.  I was able to log back into that and use it to get recovery codes for everything that either I or my daughter had destroyed or deleted because of the Google mix-up.

Last night my beloved daughter wanted the old password for our Hulu account to put it on her Frankencomputer, and after all I have been through in my own personal cyberwar, I nearly lost it.  Fear not.  My daughter still lives with her eardrums intact.  And no damage remains from the top of my head blowing off that couldn’t be fixed with duck tape and super glue.

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Filed under angry rant, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney, satire

Aeroquest… Nocturne 2

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Nocturne 2 – Treading New Pathways

Ham and the Madonna were given separate rooms in the inn, yet, somehow, she was in his bed the next morning, head pillowed on his bare shoulder.

“No, now wait…” he muttered as he stretched awake.  “I didn’t drink like poor Sinbadh.  I know what didn’t happen in the night!”

The Nebulon woman stirred and opened her sapphire eyes.  She smiled as she looked at Ham.  She was nude under the single sheet.  She was powerfully attractive.

“You and I need to talk about this,” said Ham.  “I’m a single guy.  You can’t be throwing temptation in my way every day like this.  Do you understand me?”

“Frieda teached me your speaking.  I know what you say.”

“But do you know what I mean?”

“You saved me.  You own me now.”

“Trav saved you.  You belong to Goofy.”

“He does not want me.  I offer.  He refuse.  I now pick man I love and I offer me to you.”

Ham started to say no.  Still, he had to admit, she was beautiful, and he was powerfully attracted to her.  He had to make her understand, though.  If he was going to get romantic, it wouldn’t be with a concubine.  It wasn’t that he meant to reject her; just that he didn’t want her to be that.  She would have to understand.  Love was complicated, and he’d never felt that way before.

A knock came at the door.  Ham nervously jumped into his pants and shirt, motioning for the Madonna to hide in the fresher.  She didn’t move or seem to care.

“Who is it?” Ham called.

“Let me in, old Jester.  I know about the girl.  We just need to talk.”

Goofy!  Ham didn’t care much to talk to that trouble-making clown, but he knew there wasn’t much choice.  Besides, Trav had freed the Nebulon Princess.  Maybe he still thought he had some say in her affairs.

“The door is open.”

Trav Dalgoda and the Duke of Coventry came in together.  The Duke raised an eyebrow as he saw the Madonna in the bed.

“It’s not what it looks like,” said Ham, furiously blushing.

“It’s not our business,” said Duke Ferrari.

“Yes,” said Ham, “well… What is your business?”

“I need to pursue the alliance Tron Blastarr is promoting.  Count Nefaria has removed me from Imperial politics.  If I am going to help my planet and my people, I have to return there and make the government secede from the Imperium.”

“So, why are you telling me?”

Trav lifted his bogus eye-patch and stared at Ham with two brown eyes.  “You’re a pilot, Ham.  You have your own ship.”

“You want me to take you to Coventry?”

“And possibly beyond,” said Duke Ferrari.

“Why would I be doing this?” asked Ham.

“For the good of your planet.  And because it’s the right thing to do.”

“And, also,” said Trav, “I may know where to find another ancient artifact.  I read through Nefaria’s cargo manifests.  He had something Ancient shipped to a warehouse he owns on Dancer.  That planet is right on our way.”

“The water world?”

“Yeah.  The pirate planet owned by Razor Conn and the Black Hawk Corsairs.”

“You won’t mind if I replace you with another engineer, Goofy?  You’re getting kind of independent of me and Ged again.”

“Oh, I might start my own crew if I can get a hold of the right starship… and find a good pilot.  I might even go back to working for old Jester Tron.”

“We have an agreement, then?” asked Duke Ferrari, offering a hand for Ham to shake.

“I’m a sucker for that it’s-the-right-thing-to-do argument.  Ged taught me to be like that,” Ham admitted.  “I also like a good adventure now and then.  Though I have to tell you, it’ll be going the opposite direction from the one I promised Ged I would go.  I hate to disappoint my brother.”

The Madonna sat up on the bed and hugged Ham around his middle.  The covering fell away.  Goofy and Ham both blushed.  “I go too.  I not want you dead.  I need you.”

Ham looked at the Duke.  Duke Ferrari was smiling wickedly.  Ham stuttered, “So… ah… Duke, can dukes perform marriage ceremonies?”

“Yes, Mr. Aero.  I will include it as a small part of the fee for your services.”

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Sunflower People

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Sunflowers can be beautiful.  They are the State flower of the State of Kansas.  They are also weeds.  I know this because as a teenager I had to walk up and down beanfield rows in Iowa and pull them out of the ground by the roots.  They were slightly harder to be rid of than the hated button weeds and cockleburrs that made up the bulk of farm boy plant war enemies.

To be clear, a weed is a plant that grows where you really wish it wouldn’t.  Weeds can aggressively take over in places that are outside their natural environment.  They can, like sunflowers, be volunteer crops that come up amongst the desired plants, aggressively and with malice, to take away the moisture and the nutrients from the plants you are trying to cultivate.

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A picture from Holmes Seed Company… some people pay for sunflowers.

But sunflowers can be a useful plant in their own right.  As a farm product they can produce edible seeds, and sunflower oil, like soybean oil, has a multitude of food and industrial applications.  Plus, as flowers, sunflowers have a certain hardy and steady beauty that metaphorically symbolize happiness and hope.  It is probably the reason Kansas chose it as a State flower, more than the fact that Iowans hate it as a pernicious weed.

People can be sunflowers.  I know at this point you expect a little Trump bashing, as both Trump himself and Iowa Congressman Steve King are examples of sunflower people.  They thrive where you really don’t want them, and they are very hard to remove from your beloved country crop field.  But hopefully, the system will pull the racist weeds out of the soil by the roots so they don’t grow back right away.  Robert Mueller as special counsel has his farmer gloves on and he is already going up and down the rows.

So, enough about the weeds.

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Let’s talk about the sunflower people we all know and love.  They can be weeds, at times, too, but the most important things about them have to do with their basic flower-ness.  Just because they tend to vote Republican does not make them weeds.  They are all about a primary color.  Yellow.  That is the color of warmth and sunshine.  One thing that always holds true about sunflower people is that they definitely love the people they love, and while living in rural farming communities full of sunflower people, you will be warm in the embrace of a culture that knows how to keep you fed and happy.  Yellow is also the color of happiness.  Sunflower people know how to celebrate.  They get together in large family reunions with lots of grilling and lots of potato salad.  They can sing country western songs, and often play the guitar.  The women get together in quilt-making clubs that produce beautiful works of blanket art that makes you happy on cold winter nights.

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And sunflower people have smiles that radiate who they are in the same way a sunflower does, mirroring the firey orb in the sky the flower is named after.

But make no mistake either.

Sunflower people can burn you with the force of their angry fire if you don’t do the right thing.  Their frowns and displeasure can wilt you under righteous heat.  And they can do it with just a disgusted look, leaving you as sunburned as a day at the nude beach without sunscreen.  They can take root in your life and take hold in a way that eventually takes over, like the sunflowers dominating the flower garden.  You had better pay heed, or your other blossoms are lost to you.

Well, that being said, I’ve already written too many words about it for today.  I know many sunflower people.  I live with some and was raised by others.  And you are probably surrounded by similar blooms yourself.

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