Category Archives: photo paffoonies

Skyscapes of the Cloudy Mind

I admit it.  Even though I collect pictures of sunrises to glory in the fact that I still have another day of life in this world, I rarely snap a picture of the cloudless sunrise.  It is very possible that this has something to do with what ultimately gives life value and makes it worthwhile to live one more day.



If there is no pattern, no color-changes, no contrast, no variation… then why bother?  And this doesn’t only apply to living your life.  It applies to taking pictures of the sky too.  Solid blue or solid yellow are about as interesting as a minimalist painting.  (Have you ever seen the big beige squares and red squares that fill entire walls of the Dallas Art Museum?  Like a picture of a polar bear in a fierce blizzard or an extreme close-up of the side of a tomato.)


Yes, sunshine and happiness are all well and good… but you don’t get a satisfactory skyscape without some clouds in it.  In fact, rain clouds provide the most fascinating patterns and colors.  What would the picture be without a little drama splashed here and there to make a center of interest or a counterpoint to the happy ending?  They say that variety is the spice of life.  And when they say that they probably mean cayenne pepper rather parsley or oregano.  If that’s not what they mean, then why the hell did we bring food into the discussion?


So, I am thinking, there have to be clouds.  (Notice, I said “clouds”, not “clowns”, because… according to the song, there “ought to be clowns”, not “have to be clowns”.)


It is true that clouds can mean sadness… that the rain is coming, that your vision is obscured, that something has come between you and God’s eye.  But without clouds, the sky would be plain and boring.  Better to burn bright and explode in a short amount of time than to linger over a plain pale blue.

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Picture Making

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My Mother’s Dolls

Tom Sawyer without the straw hat, as created by Lois Beyer

Tom Sawyer without the straw hat, as created by Lois Beyer

You may already know about my doll-collecting mania.  You may have already called the mental health people to come take care of the problem, and they just haven’t arrived at my door yet with the white coat that has the extra long sleeves.  But you may not know that my mother is a doll-maker and has something to do with my doll-collecting hoarding disorder.

In the early 1990’s my mother and I put our money together and bought a kiln while we were visiting my sister’s family out in California.  It wasn’t the most expensive model, but it wasn’t the cheapest, either.  We both had enough experience with ceramics that we didn’t want to buy a burning box that was merely going to blow our porcelain projects to kingdom come.  Mother had doll-making friends in Texas who taught her about firing greenware and glazing and porcelain paint and all the other arcane stuff you have to know to make expensive hand-made dolls.  Now, honestly, at the start we could’ve made some money at it selling to seriously ill doll collectors and other kooks, but we were not willing to part with our early art, and by the time we were ready to do more than just have an expensive hobby, everyone who would’ve paid money for the product was making their own.  So dreams of commercial success were supplanted by the hobbyist’s mania that made more and more charming little things to occasionally display at the county fair.


The two dolls I have left to share on my blog from that era were both crafted by my mother.  She lovingly fired the porcelain body parts, painted the faces by hand, and created the wardrobe on her Singer sewing machine.  I made some dolls too, but never with the wondrous craft and care that made my mother’s dolls beyond compare.

Tom Sawyer was originally a boy doll who was supposed to be able to hold a model train in his hands.  My mother had the pattern for the little engineer’s uniform and hat that she would use on another doll instead.  He is named after the Tom Sawyer clothing pattern that my mother bought and sewed together to dress him in.  He has a cloth and stuffing body underneath his clothes together with porcelain head, hands, and bare feet.


The other doll I have left to brag unctuously about is a doll named Nicole after the niece my wife and I have whom this doll bares a striking resemblance to.  She displays a beautiful little girl’s sun dress with quilted accent colors that my mother sewed from scratch with the help of a pattern she was truly fond of and used more than once.

These dolls were gifts to my wife and I, presented shortly after my mother bought out my share of the kiln when she retired and moved back to the frosty land of the Iowegians.  I haven’t kept them as thoroughly dusted and cobweb-free as they deserve because I have been a somewhat lazy and slovenly son… but I do love them almost as much as (and sometimes more depending on recent behavior) my own children.  (After all, porcelain kids rarely make a mess, overspend allowances, or hog the television too much.)

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As If It Weren’t Enough…



A fool can’t really sum up all of life in a sentence.

But a fool tries.

A fool can’t really say something in immortal words.

Because a fool dies.

A fool can’t really do the job of the wise.

But never-the-less, the fool applies.

But a fool can write a really dumb poem,

And let it sit to draw some flies.

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Filed under commentary, foolishness, goofy thoughts, humor, insight, inspiration, photo paffoonies, poem, poetry, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Dolly Pics

I like taking pictures of my doll collection. Those pictures are then qualified for Art Day posting. So, here are random pictures of dolls, most of which are from the doll shelf in my bedroom.

Not all of my dolls are on the doll shelf.

Chilly Willy here is a carnival prize that was probably won in a basketball-toss game at Six Flags and purchased by me for five dollars in a garage sale. He is technically not a doll. He is a stuffed animal.

So, let’s get back to dolls.

More stuffed animals, as well as ponies and paper dolls to add to this immense doll collection.
Creepy Captain Action lurks behind mint=in-box Emma Watson as Belle while he looks for his lost hat. But Bo Peep and Wonder Woman are keeping an eye on him.
I had to stop here as the caveman Minion had to go and start a fight with Peter Rabbit. Leave it to a mindless Minion… “Oobah Dee?” “Sorry, boss.”

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, Disney, doll collecting, humor, Paffooney, photo paffoonies

Toys From My Second Childhood

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(This is a post from 2017, before the swimming pool had to be removed, before  it caused my heart trouble,  and before  I  had to declare Chapter  13 Bankruptcy.)

Being retired for health reasons and unable to work, I would be dead already without my writing and art endeavors to fill my time and keep me sane.  I can do some work, as proven by my attempts to patch and repair the swimming pool this summer.  But my limitations drive me crazy, as proven by the fact that I did about half of the work on the pool wearing only sunscreen and a hat.  My kids are not married yet, and two of them are still in high school, but they are not much interested in toys any more.  And I don’t yet have grandkids to spoil.  So when I go the Resale Store or Goodwill to shop for old toys, I am basically buying them for myself.

The Princess of the Korean Court Barbie was lying on the bargain shelf for $3.49.  I bought the ceramic wishing well behind her for $5.00.  So the bargain-hunting gene I inherited from Scotch ancestors was duly satisfied.  But I had to do more with things like these than merely own them.  Toys are for playing. And what does a 60-year-old man do with dolls when he is playing?  Besides being a bit creepy, I mean?  Well, this photo is the answer.  I use my toys to create pictures and artwork.


Here’s a creation using the ceramic wishing well again.  It is apparently, on closer inspection, actually a candle holder.  But it serves to make my Walmart Clearance Sale Disney toys happy.  Here you see the pony-brushing party held by Minnie Mouse with Daisy Duck and the gay snowman from Frozen.


Here you see the metal miniatures I got in a pack from Walmart as they visit the cardboard castle.  Two of the lead figures on the ground are hand painted by me in days long ago.  The entire cardboard castle was printed and glued on cardboard, cut out and put together entirely by me.  Mickey, Minnie, Alice, Stitch, and Kermit are the metal miniatures not painted by me.

So, my days have not been overwhelmed by boredom and frustration and problems with city pool inspectors (he doesn’t even know about doing the repair work in the nude, so he can’t give me a ticket for that.)  I have been filling my time with toys and creative play.  I have been mostly a good boy… err… old man.

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Filed under action figures, Barbie and Ken, doll collecting, foolishness, goofy thoughts, making cardboard castles, Mickey, photo paffoonies, playing with toys, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Playing to an Audience

After five years of bankruptcy, I have finally started collecting dolls again. These are purchases since my debt was put to rest.

As a writer, I am often asked what kind of audience I think I am writing for. “Who, Mickey, is going to read your silly fantasy stories?”

To be perfectly clear… I started out as a writer intending to be a YA novelist, writing for more mature middle school and high school readers, probably more female than male. But any good YA writer writes stories that appeal to the adult, even if it is only the adult part of teenagers. Books like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Giver, The Hunger Games, and Ender’s Game are well known because of the adult readers who read, love, and praise those stories. I’m not saying you can’t intentionally write for a young adult audience. But I am saying you can’t write down to those readers, or you will certainly offend and lose them before the end of your story. You have to understand that they are becoming adults.

Uh, oh! I forgot that there is also a doll of Wanda, the Scarlet Witch. Now she wants to murder everyone with magic. Is Batman immune since he comes from DC rather than Marvel? Does Marvel Magic work on DC heroes?

But you can’t please all readers. Two readers who left devastating reviews on two of my books basically over-reacted to what I wrote, and let me have it with both barrels of their “Save-the-world-from-icky-Mickey” crusades. One thought Sing Sad Songs was reprehensible and evil because two of the characters, young Valerie, and Francois, the boy from France, experience sexual attraction to each other, and then both have to deal with the emotions it causes by talking about it with friends and families. The reviewer insisted that children should not talk or think about sex in a story. That was a moral violation according to her, even though no actual sex scene occurs in the story beyond a French kiss. The other lady reviewer objected to depictions of the nudist Cobble sisters in The Baby Werewolf. She claimed that the depiction of the girls, particularly Sherry, was entirely too “creepy” even though the book is a horror comedy and built on creepiness in the central conflict. Authors apparently have to have a thick skin, as every kook and prude is entitled to their own opinion.

On the positive side, though, I have gained a lot of readers who are nudists because of the Cobble Sisters and their status as at-home-on-the-farm nudists. Particularly in the companion book of The Baby Werewolf, Recipes for Gingerbread Children. The idea of nudist characters and naked people in a story makes many potential readers turn up their noses, assuming it is something perverted or pruriently sexual. I think, though, that I have successfully depicted nudists as they actually are, having been a part of the Texas nudist community, at least on the fringes. They are definitely not perverts and sex fiends, as the girls are routinely explaining to their non-nudist friends.

But I can basically describe my personal philosophy of writing for a target audience this way;

I write with an imaginary member of my target audience reading over my shoulder. Sometimes they sock me in the back of my head for things I have written. But I am not writing for him or her. I am writing for me, the things I want to write, like to write, have to write, and need to write to live.

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Filed under doll collecting, feeling sorry for myself, humor, philosophy, photo paffoonies, writing, writing humor, writing teacher

Barbie’s Little Sister is Inspired by Webb

Barbie’s little sister, Stacy, is an incredible nerd (for a plastic doll from Mickey’s doll collection.) She is constantly using one of the laptops to keep up with the latest news in Science. Lately, she has been thrilled to see pictures start rolling in from the James Webb Space Telescope, the superior imaging system to its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope.

You may have noticed that Stacy surfs the internet in the nude. She is not a porn-obsessed pervert or anything. She simply found research online that indicated that nudists are happier in many ways than people who are addicted to always wearing clothes. She joined the AANR (American Association for Nude Recreation,) found a local landed nudist club to join and discovered how lovely it is to play in the sunshiny air totally bare.

If you knew Stacy the way I know Stacy, you would realize she now has a real dilemma. She is very intelligent… but her head is made of plastic, and so it stubbornly resists compromises once an idea has found its way inside.

This is called internal conflict. But never fear. Stacy is highly intelligent, smarter than Skipper, and even smarter than her oldest sister Barbie. This is why she is the only sister so dedicated to nudism.

So, Barbie pointed out to Stacy that, being made of plastic, exposure to outer space will simply freeze her solid. And as long as she avoids getting dropped by a doofus while she’s frozen and brittle, and she gets thawed out slowly enough at the end of the journey, she should be fine. Now, all she has to do is convince Mickey to sell her to an astronaut who is not a doofus but is just goofy enough to take a doll into outer space. So, now Stacy is researching non-doofus goofy astronauts online, further preventing Mickey from writing something dumb.

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Filed under Barbie and Ken, doll collecting, humor, imagination, photo paffoonies, satire, science fiction

Art Both Artistical and Photographical… but Recent!

This old cottonwood has been a frequent subject of photos in my summer posts, It stands on the corner next to Grandpa Aldrich’s farmplace, which became my parents’ place, and now belongs to me and my two sisters.
An illustration from a work in progress… Zam the Leaf Witch demonstrates magic on the feast table.

The waterfalls near Joplin, Missouri, an odd travel stop.

A portrait of a young nudist friend, in pen and ink, and later color.

Taking a photo of Bil Baird’s puppets.
Homemade paper dolls made with a scanner/copier, paper, scissors, cardboard, and Elmer’s Glue.
Ricky Porter was a high school senior in the 1990s.

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Surprisingly Easy Fixes

I briefly thought this last Sunday that my writing life was over. I found my computer was dead after I had spent time doing household chores like washing the dishes. I couldn’t turn it on. And I found the battery wasn’t properly connected to the wall socket for recharging, a thing that had apparently been true for far too long. It was the third time that my faulty memory and my excruciatingly bad luck had conspired to completely drain the computer battery. That is, of course, about the worst thing you can do to damage a modern lithium battery, drain it completely. And I had done it THREE TIMES!!!

I briefly imagined my new Chromebook computer would become a stage for paper dolls the way my first laptop did.

So, naturally, I cussed myself as a stupid loser and decided to buy myself another laptop instead of paying the 300+ dollars it would cost to replace the electrical system of my Chromebook at Best Buy. My wife and daughter were in San Antonio visiting my sister-in-law and mother-in-law for the weekend. So, they were not around to talk me out of my evil plan. I bought a Windows 10 compatible HP Laptop at Walmart for about a hundred dollars more than I thought the repair of the other computer would cost me. And I was amazed as I got it home and started retrieving my essential apps and documents. It is much more compatible with my documents and writing habits than the Chromebook. I didn’t have to waste a lot of time learning new procedures and linking things up in a different way. I could even do Google Chrome on the new computer where the Chromebook doesn’t allow easy access to the Microsoft Edge I had gotten used to before the Chromebook. I was actually feeling quite pleased with myself.

This is either an old picture, or San Antonio’s weather is out of whack again.

On Monday, the same day I brilliantly replaced the Chromebook, my daughter came home from San Antonio. She heard the story of my tragedy and following triumph, and she immediately demanded to see the Chromebook. I had been keeping it on the charger since its death, and we still seemingly couldn’t turn it on.

“Wait a minute, how long did you wait after pressing the “on” button before you pressed it again?” she asked.

I hadn’t been timing it. But I had tried everything when it died.

“Try it again. But press it only once.”

I pressed the “on” button, not holding it down, just like she had advised me. A quick click followed by a long wait.

“See? The battery is truly dead.”

“Wait a moment more.”

As soon as she said that, the screen was suddenly prompting me for my password. I typed in, “bullwinklemooseismyheroandrolemodel989” (Not actually my password) and the computer was back from the dead!

“Amazing! I spent all that money just because I wasn’t turning it on correctly!”

“Well, you did have to fully reload the battery. And the Chromebook I had at school used to do almost the same thing sometimes when it didn’t feel like working properly. But now you have two laptops. One for watching Netflix and one for writing stuff.”

Genius! Pure genius. I now have two new computers, and my wife can’t even get mad at me for how it happened. Once in a great while, it pays to be forgetful and excruciatingly unlucky.


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