Category Archives: photo paffoonies

Doing Nothing

Yes, the retaining wall is leaning over the sidewalk and needs repair.

Being retired is a total pain in the Biblical word for donkey. I thought I would be challenged with nothing to do and probably die from lack of challenge as so many do who find their identity in their profession. I was a public school teacher. I loved being a public school teacher. I lived for the challenge of working with kids, especially trying to teach them to write well. And then my health began to betray me, and I was forced to retire.

In this country, loss of a job that defines who you are makes you basically worthless. Republicans will tell you that you go from being a “maker” into being a “taker”, and takers are basically parasites.

The wall began separating from the turf as it leaned, so we had to dig a trench to begin taking down the bricks one by one and re-staking them.

So, now I am a parasite, a blight on society, a “taker”. Decent hard-working people shouldn’t have to put up with a burden on society like me.

“If you don’t work, you shouldn’t be allowed to eat,” they self-righteously tell me.

“So, if I’m too ill to stand in front of a class all day, I should starve to death?”

“No, of course not! Don’t dramatize! You just need to do something else.”

Not having the money to buy expensive equipment, I had to improvise and do it myself.

So, I haven’t just sat back and enjoyed my pension which I worked 31 years to get. I have done things. I rebuilt the siding on the back wall of the house. I repaired all the cracks in the pool twice (once getting it back into shape for swimming, and then fixed only to be forced by the city to remove the pool because I couldn’t spend $9,000+ to bring the 1970 electrical system up to code.) I am now re-setting the bricks in the retaining wall.

I also took up driving for Uber to earn extra money. I needed extra money because hospitalizations cost me so much money I had to take out a bankruptcy which I will be paying off for the next five years while supervised by a State-appointed executor. And then a lovely Texas motorist bashed my car in the driver’s-side door costing me car-repair money (because insurance can’t be expected to pay everything) and leaving me unable to get well enough to return to driving for at least five months (up to the present day).

Doing masonry work takes some organization and some heavy lifting.

I have at no point had money enough to go on vacations or do the recreational activities that other retired seniors get to do (at least the rich white ones with lots of investment money and property). I haven’t been well enough even to be a substitute teacher (which I loved doing back in 2006-2007 when I was well enough and between teaching jobs). So what can I do with all my “free time”? Besides deal with aches and illness without the medicine I can’t afford, I mean?

Work has run into winter time when things get rather cold and wet.

Well, I did start out in life with a passion for writing and drawing. I am living proof you can’t even make pocket change for indulging those passions unless you’re as lucky as former teacher Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes. But I have the time and the incurable obsession.

We began flattening out the foundation row of bricks just as winter rains began to perpetually fill the trench with water.

I began the most creative and productive period of my life by writing eight YA novels. I have two more well into the writing of the first draft. I also re-started work on my graphic novel which takes lots of time when you have arthritic hands to draw with. And I have been blogging practically every day.

So, since I retired I have basically been doing nothing. Well, nothing for the greater good and advancing the fortunes of mankind as a whole as my Republican friends who criticize me for being a “taker” on the dole apparently do with their retirements.

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Filed under angry rant, autobiography, battling depression, being alone, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, health, humor, new projects, novel writing, photo paffoonies

The Gingerbread Train

I had been promising my daughter for a while that we would build the gingerbread train. I was looking forward to it as an art project. She was impatient to eat it. So, on December 27th, I was finally feeling well enough to do the deed.

So, we prepared the work space on the kitchen table. We laid out the items that we could use for assembly. I made my daughter promise to stop eating elements of the train before we could actually put it together.

I started decorating the Christmas trees that go into the baggage car. My daughter ate several of the sugar-ball decorations.

The baggage car was assembled first. I call it the baggage car because even though it is in the tender position for a steam train if we called it that, that would mean that the engine burned Christmas trees instead of coal. My daughter snuck a few more decorations as we argued about that.

It was encouraging that the first part came together without looking too incredibly terrible.

My daughter decorated a majority of the engine and only ate a few more of the decorations while doing it. This was no small thing given how much she loves to eat gumdrops.

It ended up looking vaguely like the picture on the box. We had a great deal of fun making it. And the last time I checked, portions of it still were uneaten… something I am confident won’t be the case for much longer.

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Filed under artwork, family, homely art, Paffooney, photo paffoonies

Terminal Thoughts

This is not an essay about what I am thinking while sitting in an airport terminal.  This is about the end of things.  Not just my own personal end, which via heart attack or stroke may happen at any moment.  But the ends of hope and dreams, of birds and bees, and possibly life on earth.

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On his last hunt, Eric bagged two illegal immigrants and a lion.  He would’ve bagged the girl too, but his dad the President reminded him that Judy Garland is a white girl and he doesn’t have a current hunting license for that.

Now, I just eliminated 75% of Trumpkins with that last joke, mainly because they didn’t understand, but also because they feel insulted by it.  Whenever I say anything about how the current government policies have impacted my health, wealth, and happiness they tell me I am a snowflake and they insult me further because I hurt their feelings.  25% will keep reading to find ammunition to use in hate memes on Facebook and rage tweets on Twitter.  After that last Facebook kerfluffle, I am tempted to disengage from social media.  They are not buying my books because of it.   They are only getting madder and madder at me and hating me more and more for being a goddam liberal.  Though, when asked, they still assure me they would never unfriend me.

Relationships with people I have always known and cared about are one of the things threatened with imminent demise.    The domination of politics and government by the Republican Party is the reason why.I

I myself don’t have to worry too much about the demise of prosperity.  I am already bankrupt and planning for a future life living in a cardboard box.  But as Trumpian economics continue to work on world markets, everyone else will soon be joining me in suburban-yard farming and eating insects for protein.  Tariffs and trade wars are already destabilizing the world’s economy.  Stocks are beginning to fall.  Of course, the consequences won’t fall on us like a ton of bricks until after enough Republicans win re-election in 2018 to protect Cinnamon Hitler from the crimes he committed to become President.

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Of course, the biggest coming demise that I wish to lament in this post will basically take care of all other things.  The demise of all life on earth will pretty much take care of anyone’s need to lament about anything.  As the world becomes hotter and hotter, and the oceans turn to acid and rise to swallow Miami, and the planet becomes more of a twin to Venus, the Koch Brothers and others who profit from polluting will be laughing about it.  They will either be safely dead of old age or ensconced in gilded survival bunkers.  They may even have another planet to live on already.

Okay, as I hyperbolize and carry on about doom and gloom, I need to remind you that I am a pessimist.  I always plan for the worst so that I can only be pleasantly surprised.  And it really can’t get worse than what I am planning for here.  But that is not to say there is no hope.  All of these problems have solutions.  But I don’t anticipate they will be solved under present conditions.

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Filed under angry rant, battling depression, commentary, grumpiness, humor, pessimism, photo paffoonies

Celebrity Endorsements

I need to figure out marketing if I am ever going to make a dent as an author.  So I got together $11.75 and hired two stuffed celebrities to endorse my books.  Fozzy comes from Goodwill for $4.75, while $7.00 on E-Bay netted me Alf.

20181003_095450Okay, I guess it’s a start.  Maybe not a great start, but a start.20181003_095647

Yeah, maybe Alf needs an attitude adjustment… with a brick.

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Okay, money poorly spent… but it is a good idea.  I need somebody who doesn’t have sawdust in their heads.  How much do you suppose Angelina Jolie charges per endorsement?   Yeah, I’m pretty sure it would be too much for my budget.  Maybe I could get Bette Davis.  She’d be cheap.  But how persuasive are dead people?

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The Benefits of Having a Virus

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To be perfectly honest, I can’t think of a single recommended use for a virus, either the computer kind or the kind I have right now that floored me for the past five days.  The computer kind damages expensive hardware and ruins expensive software, and serves no purpose I can fathom beyond usefulness in acts of evil.  And I do not recommend getting sick with a virus.  Every viral illness I have gotten over the past two decades has been, for me being a diabetic, potentially fatal.

But the book that Raggedy Clown and Baby Clown are displaying here in a vain attempt at marketing was written during a continuing siege of virally-induced bronchitis… Six times in four years.  Writing benefitted from lost work time and extended usage of sick days from my teaching job.  Some of my most creative work has happened because of bizarre dreams dreamed while having a fever.

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Idiotically I leaped out of bed with a feverish inspiration in the middle of a mostly sleepless night to write down a song, as if I had any business trying to be a songwriter.  I had listened earlier in the evening to a compilation of sad songs on YouTube obtained by typing the words “sad songs of the 80’s” into the search box.  I listened to a totally gawd-awful mess of weepers because in the book I am now writing, Sing Sad Songs, the main character Francois sings almost exclusively only sad songs.  That listening session must have caused just enough brain damage to make me think I could somehow compose a worthy sad song of my own to horrify readers with as an original song written by the character in the book.  Clever idea.  Impossible to carry out with my croaking toad-like musical abilities.  I can probably polish up the poetry to an acceptably awful level, but the tune half-heard in my dream is now completely lost and inapplicable.

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So, on the whole, I would have to say I have been decidedly unwell.  But, overall, it has not proved to be a barrier to my creative work.  It has really only served to make the strange little imaginary realm I live in a little bit stranger.

This is, of course, not a medical dissertation, or any sort of health and wellness advice that I am not qualified to give.  But it would be ironic if lots of people suddenly re-posted this essay and it ended up going viral like my post on visiting a nudist park did.

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Filed under feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, healing, health, humor, illness, Paffooney, photo paffoonies, strange and wonderful ideas about life

More Powerful Than a Potassium-Rich Banana

20141204_133754It is a time when we need a hero to step forward.  We lost one when Senator John McCain .headed off to Valhalla this week.  I didn’t agree with practically any of his political positions.  But the man stood up for what’s right and what’s wrong.  He took stances routinely that went against some of the worst drivers of Republican actions.  He prevented them from doing a lot of worse evils.  My Republican friends in Iowa disparaged McCain just as Trump did as a RINO (Republican In Name Only).  But he stood up for  us with the thumb down gesture when the evil Republican Oligarchs were voting to take away the gains in health care that we made under Obama.

It is a time when we need a hero to step forward.  Of course, we are always in need of heroes.  There is so much in our little lives that depends on the strong among us to shield us from the darkness that fills the universe.  And heroes come in many forms.  There was a time when I needed a hero to step forward and deliver me from evil in the Emergency Room in Pearsall Texas.  I was there because I was suffering from a severe lack of potassium in my bloodstream.  You don’t realize how important balanced potassium in the bloodstream is until you don’t have it.  The shakes, the pain, the fog interfering with my cognitive functioning would all have overwhelmed me permanently if the banana doctor had not run a potassium-rich IV directly into a vein in my arm and then proscribed bananas and apples in my diet when he let me go home without an expensive hospital stay.  I never learned his name, hence the epithet of “banana doctor”, but he was a hero to me when I needed one.

I think the real point here is, though, that we are forever needing heroes to step up.  More than once, as a school teacher, it was me who was called on to step up and do the hero job.  Talking on the phone late on a Saturday night to a suffering, suicidal teen, getting between two middle school girls and a leering stranger on a field trip in San Antonio, facing down a berserk child with real metal ninja throwing stars in a school hallway and getting him to run away rather than pursuing his target… gawd, looking back, I should’ve been scared out of my wits.  Don’t tell my mother that those things really happened.

And maybe that is the only place we should really be looking for heroes, inside ourselves.  Believe me, there is no Superman or Wolverine in the real world outside of the one in your own heart.  And that one will step up and answer the call if you sincerely need him… or her.  Take it from a guy once known in high school as “Superchicken”.  Now there’s an inspiring superhero name!

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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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