Tag Archives: artwork

Dippy Duck Dreams

The hardest dream-to-reality connection to make is my duck nightmare.  I know I bummed the world out yesterday with unfunny dream deliberations.  But in this post I explore the lighter side of nightmares.  It all began when I was about four years old and we went to the Deer Park Zoo in Mason City, Iowa.

Truthfully, when you look at it from the proper point of view, at four you are small and all animals look like monsters.  The three ostriches they had in a chicken-wire pen were at least several hundred feet tall.  The deer were huge with giant Bambi-eyes.  I was little and still very much in a touchy-feely stage of life.  And the goose-pen had a large hole in the front, just large enough for a goose head and neck to fit through at high speed.  That is exactly what happened when one wide-eyed nerd-child wandered close enough to give a gander a premium chance at a beak-first goosing.  Whether my pants had to be changed immediately afterwards is something I have yet to work up the courage to ask my parents about.  No rush.  They are only in their eighties now.

Anyway, I was left with a recurring nightmare, always involving a duck or very similar waterfowl with big, massive, white dentures.  Yes, you heard right, a duck with teeth.  It’s all right for you to laugh now, but I woke up in cold sweat every single time I had that nightmare.  Right from the moment when I realize that the evil little duck-mind has fixed its wishes on taking a nice, big bite, to the split second where the toothy duck-head zips towards me, I am gripped with total existential terror.  And it wakes me up.

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So what does this doozy of a dream mean?  Do dreams have to have a meaning?  All two-hundred-plus times?  (I lost count, so sue me.)  I do believe, however that it must be some kind of anxiety dream.  And the last occurrence was now four years ago, so the possibility of duck-dream remission is very real to me.

If my last post chilled your innards, then hopefully this one lit them up with laughing gas.

Leap of FaithThis closing Paffooney from yesterday is entitled “The Leap of Faith”.  I’m not sure why that is important to know, but it is.

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Truthfully…

Truthfully… for a fiction writer, a humorist, a former school teacher of junior-high-aged kids, telling the truth is hard.  But in this post I intend to try it, and I will see if I can stand the castor-oil flavor of it on my tongue.

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  • The simple truth is, I rarely tell the unvarnished truth.  And I firmly believe I am not alone in this.
  • Yesterday I battled pirates.  (While this is not literally true, it is metaphorically true.)  They were the scurvy scum o’ the Bank-o’-Merricka Pirates who are suing me for over ten thousand dollars despite my efforts of the last two years to settle 40 thousand dollars worth of credit card debt.
  • I hired a lawyer, but in spite of what he told me, I expect to lose the lawsuit and be wiped out financially.  I also believe Donald Trump will win as President.
  • I am a pessimist.  And it helps me through life.  I am always prepared for the worst, and I can only be surprised by happy and pleasant surprises.
  • My son in the Marines has developed an interest in survivalist gear and chaos-contingency plans.  We are now apparently preparing for the coming zombie apocalypse.
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  • I like to draw nudes.  I have drawn them from real-life models who were paid for their participation.  But no bad things happened.  It was all done with professional integrity even though I am an amateur artist.  Chaperones were a part of every session.
  • In high school I identified as a Republican like my father.  In college I became a Democrat (Thanks, Richard Nixon) and voted for Jimmy Carter.  I argued with my father for eight years of Ronald Reagan and four years of George H.W. Bush.
  • My father has now voted for Barack Obama twice and will vote for Hillary this fall if he is still able.  We spent most of our conversations this summer exchanging “Can you believe its?” about Donald Trump.
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  • I have been collecting pictures of sunrises for three years now.  I stole the idea from my childhood friend who now lives in Florida and takes beautiful ocean sunrise pictures over the Atlantic.  But I do it because I know I don’t have many more sunrises to go.  I have six incurable diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, and COPD.  I could go “BOOM! …dead” at any given moment.  I believe in savoring it while I have it.
  • I was sexually assaulted when I was ten years old.  I can only tell you this particular truth because the man who assaulted me and inflicted physical and emotional pain on me is now dead.  It is liberating to be able to say that.  But I regret forty years’ worth of treating it is a terrible secret that I could never tell anyone.
  • Telling that last truth made me cry.  Now you know why telling the truth is not easy.
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  • I really do love and admire all things having to do with Disney.  And when I was young, I really did want to find a picture of Annette naked.  There was no internet back then.  That quest helped me learn to draw the human form.  I know how bad that sounds… but, hey, I was a normal boy in many ways.  And I don’t draw her naked any more.
  • Finally, I have to say… in all honesty… I don’t know for sure that everything I have told you today is absolutely true.  Truth is a perception, even an opinion.  And I may be wrong about the facts as I know them.  The human mind works in mysterious ways.  I sometimes think I may simply be bedbug crazy.
  • (P.S.) Bedbugs are insects with very limited intelligence.  They cannot, in fact, be crazy or insane.  Their little brains are not complicated enough for that.  But it is a metaphor, and metaphors can be more truthful than literal statements.

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Wally Wood

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A self-portrait by Wallace Wood.

I am a bit of a cartoonist for a reason.  I started drawing cartoons at the age of five.  I read everything in the Sunday funny pages, not just for the jokes.  I poured over the drawings and copied some.  I drew Dagwood Bumstead and Blondie.  I drew Lil’ Abner and Charlie Brown and Pogo.  Cartoonists were heroes to me.

But my parents wanted to protect me from the evils of comic books.  Superheroes were off limits most of the time.  Things that are associated with evil were out of the question.  So Daredevil was beyond reach.  And Mad Magazine was full of socialist ideas and led kids down the dark path of satire.  So the truth is, I didn’t discover Wally Wood until I was in college.  His corrupting influence didn’t take hold of me until I was older and full of hormones.  Ah, youth and the propensity for sin!  Wally taught me that cartoons could be real.

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Wally Wood was one of the original artists working for EC comics who formed Mad Magazine with it’s spoofs and irreverent humor.  Wood worked together with the Great Will Eisner on the Spirit.  He went on to work for Marvel on the comic book Daredevil where he innovated the red suit and double-D logo, as well as doing the primary story-telling that brought that comic book from the bottom of the Marvel stack to almost the very top.  His work on Daredevil resonates even until today where there is now a big controversy that the popular show on Netflix does not list Wood among the creators of Daredevil in their credits.  I must remember to complain about that later.

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But the thing that drew me to Wood more than anything was the realistic style that he brought to the unreal realm of cartoons.  The man could draw!  He did marvelous detail work and was a leader in the development of dynamic composition in an artistic industry that tolerated and even often encouraged really poor-quality drawing.  He took the comic book from the age of the glorified stick figure to an age of cinematic scope and know-how.  Here it is revealed in his classic break-down of innovative comic-book panels;

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But it is also important to realize that the more power you put into art, the more it can blow up and hurt people.  Wood had a dark side that went a bit darker as he went along.  He had an issue with the kind of false front comics had to throw up in front after the anti-comics crusade of psychologist Fredric Wertham’s book Seduction of Innocents.  He is probably the artist behind the cartoon poster The Disneyland Memorial Orgy.  He started his own cartoon studio that produced increasingly erotic and pornographic comics like Sally Forth, Cannon, and Gangbang.  He became increasingly ill, lost the sight in one eye, suffered severe headaches, and eventually committed suicide in 1981.  With great power comes great responsibility, and we are not all superheroes in the end.  But I will always admire and emulate the work of this great artist… and selfishly wish he could’ve lived to create more of the wonderful art he gave us.

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Mangled Metaphors and Purple Paisley Prose

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I have rather regularly been revising and editing old writing.  One thing I have discovered is that I am capable of the most gawd-awful convoluted sentences filled with mangled metaphors and ideas that can only be followed while doing mental back-flips or managing miracles of interpretation.    That last sentence is a perfect example of purple paisley prose.  Paisley, in case you didn’t know this, is a printed pattern on clothing or other cloth that makes an intricate design out of the basic twisted teardrop shape borrowed from Persian art.   The basic motif, the teardrop shape, is a leaf or vegetable design often referred to as the Persian pickle.  I write like that.  You can pick out the Persian pickles in this very paragraph.  Alliterations, mangled metaphors, rhyming words, sound patterns, the occasional literary allusion, personification, bungles, jungles, and junk.  “How can you actually write like that?” you ask.  Easy.  I think like that.

To make a point about mangled metaphors, let me visit a couple of recent scenes in novels I have been working on;

From The Bicycle Wheel Genius; page 189

Mike Murphy and Frosty Anderson sat at the kitchen table eating a batch of Orben’s pancakes, the twentieth try at pancakes, and nearly edible.  Mike could eat anything with maple syrup on it… well, maybe not dog poop, but these were slightly better than dog poop.

From The Magical Miss Morgan; page 7

Blue looked at Mike and grinned.  It was an impish and fully disarming grin.  It made Mike do whatever Blue said, even being willing to eat a lump of dog poop if she asked him to, though she would never ask him to.

So, here’s the thing.  Why is there a repetition of the dog-poop-eating metaphor?  In one case it is Mike Murphy expressing in metaphorical terms his love of maple syrup.  In the other, it is Mike Murphy expressing his love of Blueberry Bates’ dimpled grin.  He is a somewhat unique character, but why would anybody associate love with eating dog poop?  I don’t know.  I just wrote the dang things.

I like to take a convoluted plot and complicate it with complex sentences and numerous running gags, with a seasoned-sauce of mangled metaphors poured on top like gravy.  I will use sentences like this either to make you laugh, or give you a headache.  I’m almost sure it is one of those.  So if you have gotten this far in this post without a headache, then I guess it must be funny.

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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.

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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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Wisdom From the Bob Ross Bible

If there is a Church of Sacred Landscapes then Bob Ross is its Jesus Christ.  That is not a sacrilegious statement of bizarre cult-mindedness.  Painting is a religion that has its tenets.  And Bob Ross explained to us the will of God on his painting show on PBS.  All the illustrations used in this post come from the Facebook page Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. All the wisdom comes from things the Master said on the show.

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Bob Ross was the prophet of the paintbrush.  He would present us with a lightly prepared canvas at the beginning of the show and then proceed on camera to take his brush and palette knife, and all his paints, and create a piece of the world before our very eyes.  And he was not Picasso or Van Gogh or even Norman Rockwell.  He was not a talented artist, but rather a very practiced one who knew all the tricks and shortcuts to sofa painting, the art of knocking out scene after scene after scene.  He could make his little piece of the world in only half an hour, and he made it obvious how we could do the same.  His work was not gallery quality… but his teachings were Jesus-worthy.1918971_1025737477472968_4026443126606690255_n

His work was natural, flowing, and realistic in the random complexity it presented.  He took standard paintbrush strokes and pallet knife tricks and made them dance across the canvas to make happy little trees.

His painting methods presented us with a philosophy of life and a method of dealing with whatever mistakes we might make.

And of course, any good religion must take into account the existence of evil.

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Bob Ross tells us that evil is necessary as a contrast to what is good and what is true.  We need the dark.  But we don’t have to embrace it.  Bob’s paintings were never about the dark bits.  He always gravitated towards the light.

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Of course, sometimes you have to beat back the darkness.  A good artist takes care of his tools.

Bob Ross admonishes us to look and to learn and love what we see.  The man radiated a calm, gentle nature that makes him a natural leader.  His simple, countrified wisdom resonates because we need calm and pastoral peace in our lives.  It is one of the main reasons mankind needs religion.

So I definitely think we ought to consider building a Bob-Rossian Church of the Sacred Landscapes.  We have our prophet.  The man has passed away, yet he is risen to paint again endlessly on YouTube.

And if you are willing to try… Bob Ross will smile upon you.

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Islands of Identity

Island Girl2z

Who am I?

Why do I do the things that I do?

No man is an island.  John Donne the English poet stated that.  And Ernest Hemingway quoted it… and wove it into his stories as a major theme… and proceeded to try to disprove it.  We need other people.  I married an island girl from the island of Luzon in the Philippines.  She may have actually needed me too, though she will never admit it.

Gilligans Island

When I was a young junior high school teacher in the early eighties, they called me Mr. Gilligan.  My classroom was known as Gilligan’s Island.  This came about because a goofball student in the very first class on the very first day said, “You look like Gilligan’s Island!”  By which he meant I reminded him of Bob Denver, the actor that played Gilligan.  But as he said it, he was actually accusing me of being an island.  And no man is an island.  Thank you, Fabian, you were sorta dumb, but I loved you for it.

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You see, being Gilligan on Gilligan’s Island was not a bad thing to be.  It was who I was as a teacher.  Nerdy, awkward, telling stories about when I was young, and my doofy friends like Skinny Mulligan.  Being a teacher gave me an identity.  And Gilligan was stranded on the Island with two beautiful single women, Mary Ann and Ginger.  Not a bad thing to be.  And I loved teaching and telling stories to kids who would later be the doofy students in new stories.

But we go through life searching for who we are and why we are here.  Now that I am retired, and no longer a teacher… who am I now?  We never really find the answer.  Answers change over time.  And so do I.

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Why Do You Think That? Part 4

I had to think long and hard about this.  I don’t know how to go about it because I myself am really the opposite of a nudist or a naturist.  I cover up parts of me in public that most people don’t because of psoriasis and unsightly sores on my arms, hands, neck, and jawline.  But I used to know naturists.  I have walked among them, even though I was never brave enough to actually walk naked among them.  But I have this goofy thought that has been nagging me from a back corner of the upstairs filing rooms of my stupid old head.  All people are actually nudists under their clothes.

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Now, if a doofus is trying to argue something as crazily goofy as this, he better have some good main points backed up by real research.  I, of course, am probably not as sensible as that, so let me go with these three main points;

  1. Public nudity is not an invasion of privacy since the person pretty much has to be intentionally nude, and they are not revealing anything that isn’t true of all of us.
  2. Artists really need to draw and paint nudes because one can’t create realistic figures without discovering how to do it by practice.
  3. Naked people are generally happier and more sane than the rest of us.

 

Eden

When I was visiting my girlfriend in the 1980’s at the clothing-optional apartment complex in Austin, Texas, I did not option for naked.  And I really couldn’t protest naked hairy guys strutting in front of me by the pool because I knew what was inside the gate when I knocked the first time.  Nudists are not really suffering from invasion of privacy.  They choose to be naked and choose to be in these places like nude beaches where other people are naked too.

You don’t accidentally become a nudist.  (Even though I wrote a novel about a boy accidentally becoming a nudist in Iowa in the 70’s.)  Even the nudists I have posted in these pictures are not having their privacy violated.  These images originate with old naturist publications purchased in the 80’s.   That means they intended them to be seen.  In fact, I am able to find ample nudism seeking an audience on Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter link to NeoNudist

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BBC Why All Artists Should Have Naked Ambition

And either drawing nude models is an essential part of art training, or all people who learn to draw are perverts and just make art so they can ogle nude models.  I wrote in this crazy blog before about my experience with college-level nude drawing class.  I got a “C+”, not because I wasn’t any good at drawing the naked female art students and naked exhibitionist hairy guys that posed for us, but because the teacher was hyper critical and probably anal-retentive just the way all really exceptional art teachers probably are.

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I am quite capable of drawing the delicate and exquisite nude figure without becoming a gynecological illustrator or even a crude, rude dude.  And there is art to it.  It is not meaningless.

But in the final analysis, we all have a bit of the nudist instinct in us.  We all secretly enjoy those times when we were able to be naked, however briefly, in the warm enfolding light of the sun.  If you have not experienced that and don’t know what I’m talking about, then why have you read this far through the post?  Why have my posts about drawing nudes and being around naturists been my most popular posts?

We have that urge to go naked because that is how God made us.  Being naked in the company of other naked people is actually good for you.  At least, Scientific American thinks so.

Benefits of Nudity from Scientific American

Daily Mail Being naked makes us happier with our bodies

In truth, my time among the naturists helped me recover from the trauma of being sexually assaulted by another boy when I was ten.  That was a long, painful journey that deprived me for a while of being able to be naked.  For a while I was too damaged to be a happy naturist.  But I have come so far now; I can even make this admission in writing.  I would like to be a nudist, even if only for a very brief while.  In fact, I think we are all at least a bit like that.  Now, if only my skin would stop flaking and peeling off.

Naked Wanderings

 

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DoodleFace!!!

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I drew this face as a doodle while watching an episode of Iron Fist on Netflix.   I don’t think it is anybody in the show I was watching, actor or character or comic book villain, but I can’t help but think that Doodleface is a great name for a Dick Tracy villain.

Of course, a doodle is a drawing done with only half-attention being paid.  I was not ignoring Iron Fist as I drew this.  I did not take time to plan it out with a pencil sketch.  I started drawing the right eye, thinking it w ould probably become a girl’s face.  When I tried to match the first eye with a second, it came out mismatched enough that she morphed into a villain.  Bilateral symmetry equals beauty.  Asymmetry equals comedy goofball or possibly villain.  As I framed the eyes and developed the center of the face down to the chin, the chance to make a Natasha or an Olga Badenov sort of villain dissipated to the point of masculine villainy.  That probably explains the curly hair, since the villain Bakuto in Iron Fist had curly hair.  But curiously, this drawing-while- watching-TV fellow is not Bakuto.  This guy has no beard.  And in the episode I watched, Bakuto had a beard.  And Bakuto also ended the episode with a knife sticking out of his general heart-area, not a good sign for his personal health and wellness, though in a comic book plot… well, who knows?

So, if Doodleface is a Dick Tracy villain, how did he get his name and what is his special thing?  Pruneface was pruney in the face.  Mumbles couldn’t talk so you could understand him.  Flattop had a head that was flat on the top like a table.  So Doodleface is obviously a master of disguise.  He must possess a magic pen acquired in the mysterious Orient in the 1920’s, one that clearly allows him to redraw his features at any given time so he cannot be recognized.  And hopefully, he draws well enough that coppers won’t just take one look and say, “Hey, dat guy over dere has a squiggle drawn all over his mug!  Dat must be Doodleface!!!”  (Of course it has to be three exclamation points because… well, cartoon exaggeration!!!)

And all of this is, of course, evidence that even when I am watching a fairly good show on TV (Iron Fist is not Daredevil or Luke Cage in its levels of amazing Marvel comics goodness) my mind and my drawing hand are both still busy doing their own thing as well.  Doodling is an artsy-fartsy way to kill time and fill up empty spaces.  My entire blog is basically the same in this purpose.  But I am able to use the doodle imperative to create and be creative, to learn and to grow, and possibly make up something worth keeping.

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Return of the Train Man

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I was an aficionado of HO model trains as a kid.  I continued that horrendous fixation with 1/78th scale worlds long into my extended juvenile immaturity (I was an unmarried teacher of middle school students until 1995.)    Even after I was married, my wife allowed me, to a very limited degree, to continue to be a train man.

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I spent a good deal of time over the years building building plastic model kits of buildings, painting and repainting plaster model buildings, and collecting engines, rolling stock, and trackside details.  Painting little 1/78th scale people is definitely an exercise for steady hands and a zen-like, highly focused mind.

But that all reached an impasse when we moved to the Dallas area.  I had to tear down my train layout, box up my trains, and put everything on hold until I had another place to build and create my HO model-train world.  So, while it was all boxed up and transported to first, a house that we rented from my brother-in-law, and then a house that we bought, it got shifted around and stacked inappropriately, and grandma put some really heavy items on top to crush and mangle my treasures.  It also spent a night outside in the rain when my brother-in-law’s water heater had to be replaced in the garage where everything was stored.  I was not a happy camper for a while.

Now, a decade later, I am still taking the tiny items and trying to glue the pieces back together.  I have basically given up trying to get the trains to run again.  But I can use the bits and pieces of Toonerville to make pictures like these.  It makes the art-parts of my psyche and soul a little happier.

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Old number 99 had to have the front part where the headlamp is located reattached and restored.  It gave me something to do this weekend while I was down with a bad back and breathing difficulties.  It would be neat to put the train table back together and get things set up once again, but there is no space, and no unlimited funds, and less and less time.  So for now, the train man comes back to me to rebuild in photographs and in my imagination.

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