Category Archives: photo paffoonies

Apple Blossom Time

When you get to be old and burdened with deteriorating health like I am, you appreciate the renewal of spring with a new intensity.  This year has been like that.  Cold weather and dehydrating cold were worse this winter than I can remember… especially since I feel it in the marrow of my bones now more than ever before.  But the inevitable rebirth did eventually come.  The apple tree my wife planted in the hope that Texas heat would not destroy it is putting out more blossoms than ever before.

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The first flowers to put out their winter-weary heads this year were relatively stupid daffodils.  They came out in February only a day before an ice storm came along to slay them for their daffy dunderheadedness.   I didn’t take their demise very well.  I suffered a lot this winter and was looking for the sun with desperation.

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But then, in March, dandelions poked out their bright, dandy heads and decided to stay.

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And, though we have had plenty of wet weather and rain, the flowers apparently all had a big meeting and decided the time had come to make their yearly assault and wrench the world out of the hands of Jack Frost and his icy minions.

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Wisteria began climbing the back corner of the house.  They like to spread their purple majesty out over the area by the cracked and derelict swimming pool.  It is moist and shaded out there, somewhat protected from our cruel Texas sun.

My wife’s bed of roses, both red and yellow marched out into the open air and began to dance gently in the wind like grand ladies decked out in their Easter best , showing off their color and their sass for all the world to see.

I am coming back now too… less seriously depressed.  I completed a doll collection last week.  The educational problems my children were facing are now seemingly straightening out.  It is a time of rebirth… happiness… and flowers.  My smile has returned.

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Filed under happiness, humor, photo paffoonies

Spitzen Sparkin’ Daze

My old laptop is not happy…

It’s seen much better days,

It growls and grumbles, snorts and fumbles…

And gets revenge in many ways.

Now it thinks a tiny font…

Is funny next to this

And zooms the screen five-hundred percent

To make the next rhyme miss!

And hopefully, I can afford//#%& a new c om pu ter soon

Because this one is veery weiiird

And totally out of tune.

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Filed under angry rant, feeling sorry for myself, goofiness, humor, photo paffoonies, poetry

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.

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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.

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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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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 former 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 former Sun of York has not been the right answer. Hopefully the new ruler will do better, but only time will tell.

I am not, however, a dissembler like Richard. I have no evil 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.

Proof that Winter has returned to North Texas (and that I finished rebuilding my retaining wall)

And this is also me declaring that I once again am unwell. I’m pretty sure it is not 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. It has mutated in an effort to be more virulent. And I always seem to get whatever serious virus is passing around.

Still, it is not the Coronavirus that currently has me sick and in bed. No fever. Only back pain, sinus headaches, and the blues. 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. I have finally gotten away from them to Blue Cross and Blue Shield, but still…) 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 stayed alive long enough to vote the bast***s out of office.

Proof that I’m not going anywhere by bicycle today.

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. I kinda hope that Trumpalump still has his Bosworth Field ahead of him even though he cannot be impeached no matter what he does.

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Filed under angry rant, autobiography, Depression, health, humor, 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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