Category Archives: photo paffoonies

The Cottonwood on the Corner

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The old cottonwood tree on the Aldrich farm corner has been there for as long as I can remember.  It was there when I was a small boy visiting Grandpa Aldrich’s farm.  It is still there 55 years later as I visit Mom and Dad who are still living on the farm.  A lot has changed.  Time has passed.  It is a different decade, a different century, a different millennium.

The old tree is like an anchor in time.  I can come home and look at it and be taken back in time.  I know that tree.  And he knows me.

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That isn’t true of all of the trees on the farm.

 

 

 

 

This pine by the house is tree who is younger than me.  I can remember when it was planted.  It was not so very many years ago.

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This gnarled old tree in the grove may be about the same age as I am.  I remember it when both it and I were small and we played together in the grove.  I was Tarzan, Jungle Jim, and the Lone Ranger.  It was the post I leaned on in my secret lookout post.  Back then my hand went most of the way around the trunk.

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It is good to come home to a place where you know the trees personally.  You can revisit old haunts, see old friends and acquaintances, and walk along gravel roads in a place where there is little traffic and no smog.

So I came back to Iowa to visit a tree.  Well, the farm place and aging parents too.

 

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Filed under autobiography, farm boy, goofy thoughts, humor, photo paffoonies, strange and wonderful ideas about life

The Terribly Icky Car Trip

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The Iowa Landscape in late, late afternoon… or possibly evening.

We made it to Iowa.  But only after a long, hard, impossibly-icky travel day.  More than 700 miles were covered in only fifteen-plus hours.  With no real breaks for meals because restaurants will not look kindly on bringing the family dog into the dining room.  Especially our dog, who will kill for people food, and even threaten small children if she thinks they might pull her ears and also look tasty enough.  Traveling with an insane dog is never easy.

And the way was unusually challenging.  We normally travel up Interstate 35 because it goes from the North Dallas suburbs where we live to within a few miles of the family farm where my parents still live.   It is a good route because it is very travel-friendly with numerous places to stop and a 70-plus miles per hour speed limit to make the trip faster.

But first, we had to pass through Oklahoma.  And unfortunately that means Okie drivers.  Especially the super-speed Bubba trucks (Chevy pickups with a rebel flag in the back window and more often red than any other saner vehicle color), ultra-super-speed oil-money Wasp-rockets (BMW’s, Rolls Royces, Italian sports  cars of high-dollar varieties),  and the most dangerous, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol (because I have a Texas license plate, that is.  They never seem to be a problem for the first two groups on this list.  Do other people in the world do racial profiling against Texans in general?  They probably should.)

And, apparently every bridge, over-pass, and under-pass on Interstate 35 has to be repaired, inducing a lowered speed limit that also apparently doesn’t apply to Okie drivers.  And the powers that decide things for highways went with the northbound lanes first so they could save the southbound  side for my eventual return trip.  I got honked at, headlight flashed at, and endured several Okie drivers using one of their fingers to brag at me about their current I.Q. (I won’t mention which single finger they all use for that).  They heaped this scorn on me for daring to go no faster than the posted speed limit.  I mean, there are road signs in Oklahoma that tell you it is against the law not read and obey all road signs.  And fines are doubled, if not quadrupled, in work zones.  But the laws against not reading probably don’t apply to those who naturally can’t read.

And I ran into trouble with Kansas City rush hour.  Which, of course, travels in the opposite of a rush.  And while we were sitting and waiting in the middle of the rush, my little car’s engine overheated.  So I had to turn the heater on high and aim the dashboard vents out the rolled-down windows to prevent the car’s engine control chip from shutting the engine off to cool down in the middle of the stationary rush.  The heat made the dog even more insane.

And when we finally got to Iowa just before dark, we may have been kidnapped by aliens.  Time, it seems, completely went missing  in southern Iowa, making the trip last even longer.  I may actually have captured the reason for that.  I took a few pictures with my phone camera on top of the steering wheel, which probably isn’t a safe thing to do, but I wasn’t in Oklahoma at the time.  So decide for yourself if this is significant, or just marsh gas.

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Filed under angry rant, autobiography, humor, photo paffoonies, red States, satire

Updating the Cardboard Castle

When my health is poor and my day is limited mostly to the bedroom, there are still ways to pass the time that create a tangible something.  Something I can hold in my hand.  A piece of art.

This weekend has meant more work on building my castle out of cardboard.  (I am not planning on living in it myself.  Imaginary D & D characters live, fight, and die there.)

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I actually painted the wizard in red and the Amazon in front myself.

So, I don’t draw all the elements myself.  I have found published sources of easy-to-assemble cardboard castle parts.  Then, with my arthritic fingers, scissors, tape, glue, and miniature-making muscle memory I proceed to create castles.

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This weekend’s castle-creating came about with the help of a supplement purchased at a book store, my favorite used bookstore.

It was called Map Folio 3-D and was published in the last decade by Wizards of the Coast, a publisher whose D & D products I have been buying since they published Talislanta books in the 1980’s.

It has cut-out walls and doors and details that you can cut out and slap together.

You may have noticed I even cut designs off the cover to use on my versions of the buildings they designed.

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So, that plan took me from this above to this below.

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I did the village inn and a barn/workshop.  And put into the center of the cardboard castle, it adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the scene.

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So there you have it, a little bit of the doofy art-noodling that Mickeys often do.

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Filed under artwork, Dungeons and Dragons, making cardboard castles, photo paffoonies

So Tired of Tires

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The wheels on my car, the wheels I rely on for the most important functions remaining in my retired, sick-all-the-time, but still-a-father-with-kids-in-school days, have recently been under assault once again.   The back right tire has had a slow leak in it for three months because of some piece of metal embedded in the treads.  And last week the front driver’s-side tire was cruelly popped by a piece of road debris, a hubcap that was left on the road to be run over repeatedly.  Number two son and I had to be rescued from the roadside by AAA (and that is Triple A, not Alcoholics Anonymous… a fairly important distinction).

It meant I had to drive around on an emergency spare for a while and spend the majority of my Memorial Day holiday at Sam’s Club’s tire repair center getting two tires fixed.

And how do you deal with tires being damaged and needing to be fixed so often?  Satire of course.  After all, it has the word “tire” in it, doesn’t it?

The piece from Vox points out that satire is the way comedians are dealing with Trump news and Trump fake news and Trumpian self-satire usually administered to claim innocence over a truly horrible and self-damaging something he said.  They are using satire to cut the crap and get to the center of the ridiculous dog-and-pony show Trump puts on and Trump supporters are constantly dazzled by.  I point this all out because I satirically believe no one who looks at my posts on this goofy-danged blog ever watches the videos.  And it probably is true, that thing you are thinking at the moment, that Mickey only adds videos to fill up space.

But if satire can be used to pop the tires on the political clown car, then why can’t it also be used to fix the tires on my little gray errand-wagon?

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Of course, you will say, “You can’t fix a tire with satire!  You have to have tools and patches and rubber cement for that.  And you would be right.

But I have had three major tire-related disruptions to my little retired life in the last two years.  A careless driver ran into the back tire of my little pony last spring and not only wrecked the tire, but bent the back axle and totaled the entire car.  Then I hit a pothole on a carefully unrepaired Dallas street and not only destroyed the tire, but dented the entire rim.  And now the new tire disaster fills my holiday with more sit-and-wait-and-pay-lots-of-money woes at a time when I really don’t appreciate such a long run of bad tire-luck.  It drives me to satire.

So maybe satire can’t fix a tire, but it can make me laugh about it.  And isn’t that better than crying, or a long string of cuss words so foul they would’ve gotten me fired before I retired three years ago?  Besides, I already tried those.  They didn’t work either.  But satire makes me laugh about it and feel a little better.  And, after all, it has the word “tire” embedded in it.  And that has to count for something.

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Filed under angry rant, autobiography, humor, irony, photo paffoonies, satire

Toy Time Again…

Kids like me need to play with toys.

Really.

Even though I am sixty-plus-years-old, I am stressed enough by everyday life that I need to take some time to get the toys out of the toy box and play with them, making up fantastical stories in my head and pretending the world is the way I want it to be.

I mean, why can’t fire-fighter Barbie fall in love with the Black Panther?

The two of them are so very different.  One is a vivacious young working girl ready to put out fires, while the other is a dark and moody superhero dead set on bringing justice to villains, no matter how powerful they might seem.  Shouldn’t they be able to find happiness together despite what the drummer bear may think about the appropriateness of two such different plastic people being in love?

And money woes, deteriorating health, recent car accidents and ratcheted-up premiums on car insurance melt into the background.  Especially if you hum to yourself as you pretend to make them kiss.  “Love is a Many Splendored Thing…”.

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Not all the toys are new.  In fact, only the double-headed dragon is actually new to the over-all collection.

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It’s good that the dragon can so easily make itself at home in the cardboard castle.

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It would be good if it didn’t decide to eat the cardboard castle.

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Wonder woman, sitting on my underwear drawer is also new.  Maybe I am buying too many toys.  But in my defense, I am in my second childhood, and sometimes I just need to play with toys.  It solves a lot of problems that I am too old and tired to make go away otherwise.  And it also makes a good short post when the idea bag is short on short topics and the time for writing is limited.

 

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Filed under feeling sorry for myself, humor, photo paffoonies, playing with toys, toystore quests

Updates and Transitions

I still can’t believe my hockey team, the St. Louis Blues, lost to that upstart Nashville team whose logo is a cross between a cat and a beaver with really bad teeth problems.  But that was the other post for today.

I am probably going to kick the bucket soon.  I hate that bucket.  I just don’t like it. But in spite of impending doom for me and the world in general, I am making some changes.  After all, life is change.  We can either change or be dead.  And I am definitely not going to kick that bucket today, no matter how grumpy its existence makes me.

One change I have made is in Toonerville.  I finished snowing all over Al’s General Store.  I added two kids and their cat on the bench outside (in short pants during a winter scene… stupid kids) and fat old Huckleberry Wortle on the front steps looking for someone to play checkers with and tell lies to.  But don’t offer to be the one playing checkers with Huck.  He’s a conservative Republican with Tea Party leanings, and he will tell you things about Obama, government, and people in general that will make you so mad that you will want to go to the bench and kick the kids’ cat.

Toonerville is undergoing a winter renovation.  If I ever get to rebuild the layout, it will now have snow where grass used to be the plan.  It is still temporarily in storage on streets that are really book shelves.  And the Trolley goes nowhere.

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I have also been experimenting with shifting focus, as you can tell by the blurry trolley and track light in the foreground.

In addition to photography, I am making changes to my publishing directions.  I recently bought a subscription to a video-editing program and now intend to inflict Mickey-made videos to my blog.  To be completely honest, I made the purchase at the begging of my daughter who was using the free trial for a school project and ran out of free before she ran out of ideas.  Sound genetic to you, does it?

I have been forced to make publishing changes.  I am almost done paying the huge penance for publishing Magical Miss Morgan with Page Publishing.  That is a mistake that won’t be repeated.  I will self-publish from here on out.  After MMM, I will attempt to publish Snow Babies via Amazon.

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My current manuscript, The Baby Werewolf, is undergoing forced changes as well.  The primary factor here is my unique ability to lose things all together.  Two of the three parts of the original hand-written manuscript are now missing, and have been since we moved to Dallas in 2004.  Bummer.  Coatimundies from South Texas are probably reading it, laughing up a storm, and cursing me for not having lost part three along with the rest of it.  They surely can’t wait to find out what happens.  But since I have to do it all from memory, it will be different from what they read.

And even though writing a blog post every day is hard, I have decided it is worth it to continue.  After posting every day for thirty consecutive months, I have learned that the practice not only sharpens my basic writing skills, but also generates more ideas than it consumes.  I am a writer because I write.  And continuing to write makes me even more of a writer.  So the madness will continue.

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Filed under autobiography, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney, photo paffoonies, sharing from YouTube, Snow Babies, Toonerville, Trains, work in progress, writing, writing humor

NPC’s (Non-Player Characters)

In Dungeons and Dragons games you are trying to bring characters to imaginary life by getting into their deformed, powerful, or magic-filled heads and walking around in a very dangerous imaginary world.  You have to be them.  You have to think like them and talk like them.  You have to love what they love, decide what they do, and live and die for them.  They become real people to you.  Well… as real as imaginary people can ever become.

But there are actually two distinct types of characters.

These, remember, are the Player Characters.  My two sons and my daughter provide them with their persona, personality, and personhood.   They are the primary actors in the stage play in the theater of the mind which is D & D.

But there are other characters too.  In fact, a whole complex magical world full of other characters.  And as the Dungeon Master, I am the one who steps into their weird and wacky imaginary skins to walk around and be them at least until the Player Characters decide to fireball them, abandon them to hungry trolls, or bonk them on the top of their little horned heads.  I get to inhabit an entire zoo of strange and wonderful creatures and people.

Besides the fact that these Non-Player Characters can easily lead you to develop multiple personality disorder, they are useful in telling the story in many different ways.  Some are friendly characters that may even become trusted travel companions for the Player Characters.

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D & D has a battle system based on controlling the outcomes of the roll of the dice with complex math and gained experience.  In simpler terms, there is a lot of bloody whacking with swords and axes that has to take place.  You need characters like that both to help you whack your enemies and to be the enemies you get to whack.  There is a certain joy to solving your problems with mindless whacking with a sword.  And yet, the story is helped when the sword-whackers begin to develop personalities.

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Crazy Mervin, for example, began life as a whackable monster that could easily have been murdered by the Player Characters in passing while they were battling the evil shape-changing Emerald Claw leader, Brother Garrow.

But Gandy befriended him and turned him from the evil side by feeding him and sparing him when it really counted.  He became a massively powerful ax-whacker for good because Gandy got on his good side.  And stupid creatures like Mervin possess simple loyalties.  He helped the players escape the Dark Continent of Xendrick with their lives and is now relied upon heavily to help with combat.  He was one of the leaders of the charge on the gate when the Players conquered the enthralled Castle Evernight.

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Not every NPC is a whackable monster, however.  In the early stages of the campaign the Players needed a magic-user who could read magic writing, use detection spells and shielding spells and magic missiles, and eventually lob fireballs on the bigger problems… like dragons.

Druaelia was the wizard I chose to give the group of heroes to fulfill these magical tasks.  Every D & D campaign requires wizarding somewhere along the way.  And Dru was a complex character from the start.  Her fire spells often went awry.  When Fate used a magic flaming crossbow bolt to sink a ship he was defending, killing the good guys right along with the bad guys, it was with a magic crossbow bolt crafted by Druaelia.  Her fire spells went nuclear-bad more than once.  She had to learn along the way that her magical abilities tended more towards ice and snow than fire.  She learned to become a powerful wielder of cold powers.  And while she was comfortable in a bikini-like dress that drove the boys wild because she grew to love the cold, she didn’t particularly like the attentions of men and male creatures that went along with that.  More than one random bandit or bad guy learned the hard way not leer at Dru.  There are just certain parts of the anatomy you really don’t want frozen.

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The Player Characters will need all sorts of help along the way, through travels and adventures and dangerous situations.  They will meet and need to make use of many different people and creatures.  And as Dungeon Master I try hard to make the stories lean more towards solving the problems of the story with means other than mere whacking with swords.   Sometimes that need for help from others can even lead you into more trouble.

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But as I am now nearing the 800 word mark on a 500 word essay, I  will have to draw it all to a close.  There is a lot more to say about NPC’s from our game.  They are all me and probably are proof of impending insanity.  But maybe I will tell you about that the next time we sit down together at the D & D table.

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Filed under characters, Dungeons and Dragons, family, goofy thoughts, heroes, humor, Paffooney, photo paffoonies, playing with toys