Category Archives: photo paffoonies

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under artwork, autobiography, collage, commentary, humor, illustrations, imagination, Paffooney, photo paffoonies

Will Normal Ever Come Back?

Captain Action Spiderman and Captain America beside Han Solo from Hoth

We are now entering the most deadly time in the pandemic. We are expecting a hundred thousand more deaths in January 2021.

The question of whether or not I will even survive this month has not been settled.

I am still isolated at home with three members of my immediate family. Contact with the outside world is as limited as it is possible to be. Of the four of us, only my wife and son have to leave the house for work. My son has had Covid once already, so he probably still has antibody protection, but there are no guarantees he won’t get it again, and worse the second time. He works as a jailor and so he is exposed to Covid-positive inmates daily. My wife will go back to her teaching job this coming week. They are taking precautions as much as possible, but it is still in-person instruction. And my wife is at-risk with diabetes and high blood pressure. And there is no question in the minds of the Texas Board of Education that she needs to risk her life five days week to keep kids in school.

Star Wars and Star Trek Action Figures do not get along well on the shelf.

I am deteriorating from my many health problems. But I am only a little over a year away from being done with my bankruptcy and the paying off of my medical bills. So, barring another hospitalization, I can actually see light at the end of that tunnel.

But getting back to normal?

It will never happen. I will never again be well enough to make money as a teacher in a classroom, even as a limited-time substitution. If staying in my room and writing all day is my new normal, well, I am already doing that. But the things I have done as a normal thing will not be coming back.

Traveling is going to be a thing of the past. I cannot weather long car trips anymore. No more visits to Six Flags or Disney World, and maybe not even trips home to Iowa.

Doll collecting is also a thing of the past. I have no more money or time to pursue those little plastic people anymore, even at five dollars a month. In many ways I gave it up for good months ago already. And I probably have too many of them already.

“Child, child, have patience and belief, for life is many days, and each present hour will pass away. Son, son, you have been mad and drunken, furious and wild, filled with hatred and despair, and all the dark confusions of the soul – but so have we. You found the earth too great for your one life, you found your brain and sinew smaller than the hunger and desire that fed on them – but it has been this way with all men. You have stumbled on in darkness, you have been pulled in opposite directions, you have faltered, you have missed the way, but, child, this is the chronicle of the earth. And now, because you have known madness and despair, and because you will grow desperate again before you come to evening, we who have stormed the ramparts of the furious earth and been hurled back, we who have been maddened by the unknowable and bitter mystery of love, we who have hungered after fame and savored all of life, the tumult, pain, and frenzy, and now sit quietly by our windows watching all that henceforth never more shall touch us – we call upon you to take heart, for we can swear to you that these things pass.”
― Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again

Thomas Wolfe is correct. Without being able to physically travel to the past, you simply can’t go home again. We can travel through time, but only forward. But he is also right that the present time will pass too. And we all will eventually reach a time where we become timeless. So, we hunker down, live in the moment, and the world will become normal even if it is unrecognizable as what was normal in the past.

2 Comments

Filed under commentary, family, health, humor, medical issues, photo paffoonies

Cardboard Castle Art

Slaying a blue dragon wasn’t the biggest event at the cardboard castle, but it was among the most memorable.
All sorts of people show up to parties I hold there. Of course, the guests don’t really have a choice in the matter.
Celebrities make an appearance if I can afford them. Mickey and Minnie cost me less than five dollars.
The place isn’t actually Hogwarts. It’s made of cardboard. I believe Hogwarts was made of polystyrene.
All sorts of heroes try to save the day in the cardboard castle.
Heroes at the cardboard castle are made, not born.
Sometimes the cast is a bit crazy.’
It is possible to take the Snowball Express from the castle to Toonerville. Mickey and Minnie are always ready to jump in front of the camera.
Of course, a few evil wizards are essential to the game.
Voldemort may have mistaken the place for Hogwarts too.
Sometimes I question the prevailing religion at cardboard castle. But Princess Jasmine seems to be fine with it.
But the old castle is a bit run down in parts of it. Maybe Princess Aurora can convince the Prince to invest in a few wall repairs.

Leave a comment

Filed under artwork, humor, making cardboard castles, Paffooney, photo paffoonies, playing with toys

Now is the Winter of Our Discontent…

I am not Richard the Third. But I did do that soliloquy in college for my class in oral interpretation and got an “A” for it. I can channel those who think they have been wronged. I know whereof they speak… forsooth.

If you are not happy with the President’s handling of the pandemic and economic crisis, (and if you are happy, I hope your recent lobotomy is giving you some peace and rest) you are not alone. The Sun of York has not been the right answer.

I am not, however, a dissembler like Richard. I have no plot to remedy the discontent. I can only tell the truth. I will probably die of the virus before this pandemic passes. I honestly do not fear death. I do fear for loved ones who are also at risk. But while I do not welcome death, it will not find me with any sort of burden of regret. I have been an honorable man. I have taught children, and acquitted myself well of the task. I have been a passable husband and father. I have committed serious acts of art… as well as numerous less-than-serious ones. This is not a suicide note. This is simply me declaring myself at peace with the universe.

And this is also me declaring that I once again am unwell. I don’t think it is the virus. I have been extremely careful. But this one stalks more successfully than the H1N1 and various bird flus that I have previously survived. And I always seem to get whatever serious virus is passing around.

Still, it is probably not the Coronavirus that currently has me sick and in bed. No fever. Only chest pain, headaches, and nausea. I also have a variety of other pains, mostly psoriasis in nature, but also some other internal ones. I could be suffering from prostate cancer, heart disease, or mini-strokes brought on by diabetes. My eyes are going bad. And I am not going to any doctors because of the risk of infection in the doctor’s office and the expenses that health insurance expects me to pay for myself. (I hope this pandemic eats all of Aetna’s lunches for the rest of the year.) There are plenty of ways that this current health crisis can do me in. I will endeavor to die at home on my own terms. And I will try to stay alive long enough to vote the bast***s out of office.

I apologize that Mickey wasn’t funny today. Sometimes he needs to complain a little. Even Richard the Third was down and blue in between villainies. And he ended on one really bad day at Bosworth Field.

Leave a comment

Filed under angry rant, autobiography, Depression, health, humor, photo paffoonies

Funky Friday Fun

I used to work for a principal who would come on the morning announcements every day to welcome us to school with another anomalous and annoying alliteration. We had numerous Magnificent Mondays, Terrific Tuesdays, and Wonderful Wednesdays. Thursdays were harder. And Friday was usually Fun. See, I think I ironically proved I can do it too, if not better.

Meet Orion Slave-girl Barbie, waving to you from the Slave Markets of Dantooine.

It has been my goal to set Friday posts aside as days to either be funny or to tell stories about being a school teacher… or, quite naturally, both at once.

But ironically, Trump and Pence have made it extra difficult not to talk about politics. One has been so blatantly idiotic in his quasi-fourth-grade-intellectual pumpkinheaded blathering. While the other has been robotically ignorant, heartless, and unmindful. Not wearing masks in hospital visits? Recommending injecting cleaning fluid? I can’t even be ironically funny by throwing flat irons and curling irons at them, since those would just bounce off the walls of the house I am confined to.

Princess Leia says hello from the slave markets of the United Federation of Planets.

But, even though the Bughead Boys are making original humorous thinking difficult, there are things that make me happy. I qualified and signed up to be a substitute teacher again if a new school year ever happens. They are pleased enough with my performance to make that a reality for me today. And I do love teaching, though each year of it is increasingly difficult physically. I just have to eat more spinach, keep talkin’ loik Popeye, and try not to die of Coronavirus.

And I have not yet gotten any kind of stimulus check from the gubbermint even though I know people who have. But I am happy that, for this month at least, the State of Texas is not yet bankrupt and ready, with Mitch McConnell’s permission, to cancel all future pension payments.

The Green Orion Slave Girl now has a new master, General Urk-Me, who will take her back to the Planet of the Apes to pick bananas.

So, if I can’t be all that funny today, at least I got a chance to complain. And I didn’t even manage to squeeze out any jokes about slave-girls, even though there is a definite slave-girl thing going on in the illustrations today.

Twi’lek Barbie is not a slave anymore. In fact, she’s free to use my library as often as she likes.

Leave a comment

Filed under doll collecting, humor, photo paffoonies

The Words Unwinding

Venus Flytrap, my Monster High doll decorated with carniverous flowers, is the perfect pandemic mascot, as she guards the Vapo-Rub.

Stuck in the house all day with no outside activities to distract me, and limited socialization with the other denizens imprisoned in the house with me is more-or-less the perfect thing for a fiction writer with cancer of the imagination glands.

I have plenty of people to talk to, since , in this situation, imaginary people count too. And there is no end to the things I can talk about since ideas keep welling up in my head, even if many of them are totally silly ideas, and the rest are probably evil.

It helps to have a talking dog. Though my kids would argue that Jade isn’t really talking, that I am, instead, merely interpreting things I think she should be saying as if it were real speech. She does talk an awful lot about different kinds of meat and the moral imperatives of allowing your dog to eat people food. But I think it is only proper to commit to writing those things she says when we’re alone together, because, after all… a possible talking dog?

Everybody has a purple dragonette on the doll shelf that loves to play with dolls, don’t they?

But imagination is one of those things that sets people… I mean, human people, apart from all other life forms that we know. Imagination makes the man. What would we have made of ourselves and our world if we didn’t have it? Would we have invented the wheel? Fire? Term life insurance? I think not.

Peter Pan offers Alice a ride in his Skull-and-Bones Lowrider as ninjas attack Main Street Toonerville.

I may, in fact, be going a little stir crazy in the old hovel while trying like heck to avoid death by Coronavirus. I am easily as frayed around the edges as any hopeless hobo, with even my beard-trimming growing wildly erratic. Soon I may have to tell the imaginary people who surround me and question everything about me that it is not a beard any more. Rather, it is either a crocheted hippie neck-warmer rather than a beard, or maybe it has become a furred, frilly collar on my shirt like Shakespeare probably wore for the premiere of King Lear.

No, I am not going stir-crazy, or even a little bit insane. I am just letting the words unwind as they fill me up and demand to be unreeled in order to prevent an explosion in the brain.

Leave a comment

Filed under being alone, goofiness, humor, photo paffoonies, surrealism

Art Day with Gingerbread

The Coronavirus Isolation has put a lot of new limitations on our lives. But, I happened to have an unused Gingerbread House kit. So, for Art Day, the Princess and I decided to put it all together with supplies we already had on hand. Here, then, is the Beyer Family Gingerbread House 2020.

The unopened kit that was just sitting in storage.
The surprise inside was that the house was already assembled with concrete-like frosting before we even opened it. This is the first Gingerbread House that we have done without having to use tape and Elmer’s Glue.
The Princess decided the box did not make a good hat, but the smell inside it was worth the experiment.
Most of the supplies were old and not creamy enough for easy spreading.
Some of the frosting went on dry and chunky. But some of the piping frosting was the opposite, more runny than a marathon. Mmm… bad pun.

But, it wasn’t a total disaster. We can use our inherent craftiness to rescue it at least a little bit from total wicked-witch-housiness. Though I am sure Hansel and Gretel would still eat it.

And the other side was a little better.
And, as always, the leftovers are edible, though not diabetes-friendly.
Now, all that’s is left to do is have the artists eat the artwork in very small bites over a lot of time.

Leave a comment

Filed under art my Grandpa loved, artwork, family, gingerbread, homely art, humor, photo paffoonies

Art Day – Book-shelf Town

My model railroad layout used to feature a model town I called Toonerville. The town continues to exist as models I have built and/or painted sitting on book shelves and tables.
The streets of Toonerville are narrow, but basically book-shelf straight.
Some folks who live there are poor. The old woman who lives in a shoe is one of those.
The residents of the big house on Mel Gibson Street are relatively rich.
But all the residents of Toonerville are plastic people.
The plastic people of Toonerville have a movie theater to go to, but The African Queen with Humphrey Bogart is the only movie that plays there. It hasn’t changed in 40 years.
There’s also a theater in what used to be Chester Wizenut’s barn, but it is closed for winter and winter has lasted for twenty years in Toonerville.
In downtown Toonerville, the clocks never move, and they aren’t even correct twice a day.
The Congregational Church was moved downstairs for repairs.
Grandma Wortle’s house, Lemon-Sucker Manor, is large and wealthy-looking, but the old lady who lives there is such a miser, she makes Scrooge look like Santa Claus.
But Toonerville is a happy place with more than one trolley car, and it makes me smile to go there and chill for a while.

Leave a comment

Filed under artwork, humor, photo paffoonies, playing with toys

Living on a Shoe String

There was an old man who lived in a shoe.

He had so many expenses, he didn’t know what to do.

Of course, I am not complaining.

Even though it’s a tennis shoe and not a cowboy boot.

I have got an ice cream truck outside. Sponsored by Hot Wheels.

And now that I have a substitute teaching job, I almost have more money than bills… well, some months… maybe.

But I still can’t afford ice cream. Or insulin.

But my neighbor lives in a house made of eggshell. And he has cancer. But he gets visits from the Partridge Family in their funky school bus. It is better to live on a shoe-string budget than an eggshell budget. But we all have our troubles. Which Aetna will never willingly pay for.

Except for the rich guy who lives on Mel Gibson Hill. He has no troubles.

He has plenty of money.

And he is the reason the rest of us are poor.

Because he pays for politicians to give him tax breaks on all that money that never trickles down the hill.

But life is good in Toonerville Town.

Unless that shoestring comes undone.

And then it takes lots more hard work to tie it up again.

Leave a comment

Filed under commentary, feeling sorry for myself, humor, photo paffoonies, satire

GingerBread-o-Palooza 2019

Every Christmas break for the last four years has seen us put together a decorated gingerbread house. It was always a way to spend quality time with my kids and come up with a semi-artistical product that I could take pictures of and then eat. But this year, in addition to the gingerbread house kit purchased at Walmart, my fancy was struck by the gingerbread ninja cookie kit for sale cheaply at Aldi’s.

Because our cook-stove is gradually dying of electrical-baking-cancer, we had to move the cookie baking to my son’s apartment with a brand new oven and range. While gingerbread house kits come pre-baked and assembly-ready, gingerbread ninjas tested my limited cookie-baking skills. And believe me, though the Princess gamely tried to help, we did not bake ninjas like pros.

So, due to our negative levels of baking skill, the cookies came out looking not so much like dangerous ninjas as they did like seriously deformed mutants and bomb-blast victims. And it didn’t help that we could not make the white outliner frosting. It came in powder form and you were supposed to add powdered sugar and water to it. Powdered sugar was the one ingredient totally forgotten. Saving the beauty of artlessly-created cookies was left up to our skills applying cherry and chocolate frosting with butter knives and decorating with colored sugar beads. The cherry frosting made the cookie people into nudists rather than ninjas. And trying to make frowny faces with beads led to gingerbread men looking like they had multi-eyed spider heads instead of angry expressions. The chocolate ninjas turned out to look like forest-fire-blackened wilted Christmas trees. So, I ornamented most of them accordingly.

The cookie-ninja factory produces nudist cookies and mud-pile cookies.
I was the only one who made more cookies than I ate. Of course, I’m diabetic.
The Princess, my cookie-making cohort, ate her fair share and thoroughly enjoyed them.

I had intended to end this article by interviewing one of the surviving chocolate-covered gingerbread ninjas. But when we started talking, he just got angrier and angrier about my lack of cookie-making skills. It started with insults and devolved into threats.

So, I ate him!

3 Comments

Filed under artwork, gingerbread, goofiness, humor, photo paffoonies