Rod Thorning: Lover of Life and All Around Good Guy (and my Grandpa)

Grandpa Rod Home on Leave WW2

My grandpa Rod Thorning was one of the most influential people in my life–he was funny, creative, and an excellent storyteller. I have some great pictures of him, but this one pretty well summaries his style and easy, cool manner. In his youth he was a scoundrel and a cad, loved the ladies and drinking, and just plain having fun. He lived fast.

Click on the picture to enlarge it.

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This picture was taken when he was home in Seattle on leave from Guadalcanal during World War 2.

I don’t know why I’m thinking about him this morning, really. I just am, I guess. He influenced me in many ways–I always wanted to be just like him. And if you know my brother, you will probably see some resemblance here, especially in the days when my brother was smoking.

So here’s to reminiscing about lost family members. May you do yours proud!

Be Silly!


Silliness is probably a good quality to have.

If you embrace the silly, you’re taking a step toward not caring what other people think.

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In general, I’m not a very silly person (except for when my brother and I are working–we’re both pretty silly with each other). As you can see, I’m dressing Gianna up to be a goofball a la Punky Brewster circa 1985. I think her hair lends itself to goofiness, though, so maybe that’s where it started.

I dressed her in these outfits:

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I particularly love what ended up being a wrestler sort of outfit:

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I took this last shot this morning while I went outside to see what the dogs and Gianna would do. As expected, they lined up to see what I was doing outside. Clyde had been sleeping, and since he always gnaws holes his blankets, he created a nice outfit for himself. We didn’t put it over his head–he did it himself!

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He is a true clown.

So today, try to be silly at least once. Of course choose an appropriate time for it. Being silly to your boss might not be the best idea. When you’re doing this silly thing, remember that it doesn’t matter what other people think of you.

Just be happy.

Creative Person of the Day? Josh Kyle of Engeln Photography!

That’s right–today, I have an official Creative Person of the Day for you.

It’s my friend Josh Kyle.

I chose a campfire for the thumbnail picture of this post because Josh reminds me of elemental fire–he’s passionate, can easily change from one moment to the next, and burns brightly in everything he does (which is a lot). Actually, he’s kind of like a classic dwarf (in the Dungeons and Dragons/Snow White sense of the word) in that he can have a gruff exterior and can be intimidating to people who don’t know him, but he has a heart of gold. He’s a generous, dedicated, hard worker, who’s always pursuing something interesting, whether it’s photography, cooking, costuming, the spiritual, Victorian architecture, you name it.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I’m all about being creative and making a positive impact on the world. Josh is a great example of someone who lives this kind of life, as you can see by checking out his pictures at, and by looking at his photo “The Clock” which he recently sent me:

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Josh is a great example of what we should aspire to–in addition to being a photographer, he’s a hell of a cook, and is always whipping up some new (often weird) creation in the kitchen. The first time he offered me a lavender cookie I have to admit that I was skeptical. But the damn thing was very good. Not to mention his baked apples . . .

He puts a lot of care and passion into what he creates. The following photo is called “Reaching For the Sky.”

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Last but not least, Josh always ends up volunteering his time at MisCon, whether he plans to or not. Last year, before the convention, he declared that this year he was going to just attend the convention and have fun–he wasn’t going to volunteer at all. At first I tried to persuade him to do a bit here or there anyway, since he is a great volunteer and I know he loves the convention, but he was adamant, so I gave up. I suspected that once he was at the convention, he’d have a hard time not just jumping in.

Which he did.

A lot.

Creative people tend to congregate–MisCon is a great place to see a bunch of artists and writers and costumers gathered together, Josh among them.

So check out Josh’s pictures at, then go do something creative yourself!


Pictures of the Day: Skeletal Drummer

For those of you who missed my slideshow of a few of my brother’s carvings, here’s a picture of the Skeletal Drummer he made years ago. It was his first commissioned piece. He made everything on the sculpture from whatever he had lying around.

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Pictures of the Day: Clyde in his Blanket

My Great Dane Clyde always wraps himself in his blankets (which he requires most of the year–he is a big baby after all). He always manages to wrap it around his head like Little Red Riding Hood.

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Trees of Yellowstone

I have a thing for trees. I’m not a treehugger, but I really like just about everything about trees, from their roots, to their branches, to their leaves. Living trees, dead ones, they hold some sort of magical thing for me. As a kid, I used to look out on the forests of the Flathead (where my grandparents lived) and imagine all the fairies and other strange creatures who lived there unseen. The forest was just plain mysterious. The same thing goes for forests everywhere, especially the wilderness of Yellowstone National Park.

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Yellowstone is one of my favorite places. I like to hike it, seeing new things and looking at how things have changed since our last visit.

Mount Washburn is a great hike–from the top, you can see pretty much everything in the park, from Lake Yellowstone to the Canyon, to the surrounding mountain ranges. If you’re in Yellowstone and want to do a moderately difficult hike, this is a great one (it’s around 5 miles). One benefit of spending some time near Mount Washburn is that if you’re there toward the 3rd or 4th week of July, you can enjoy the fields of wildflowers along Dunraven Pass (adjacent to the mountain).

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I love the Yellowstone River, even seen through these branches.

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I took this shot on the hike to Avalanche Peak near the East Entrance. I like how this spot opened into a corridor. I could imagine a fairy queen holding court somewhere down the path. There was also question as to whether we were gong to run into a Grizzly Bear on that hike since we found some very fresh bear poop toward the beginning of the trail.

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Given all the fires that rage through Yellowstone all the time, you see a lot of deadfall trees (if you step off the roads and go into the woods a bit).

I have thousands of tree pictures that I plan to weed out and post here at some point (some of them, anyway). These were just a few I liked in Yellowstone National Park. I’ll select some more and put them up here soon (hopefully with wittier reparte than I have managed this morning-insert winky smiley).