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Barfey

Barfey. Other kids have a teddy bear. I have Barfey.

Old Barfey in foreground.


He started off as a little white stuffed dog with brown ears from the Hallmark store in the mall, made by R. Dakin. My mom said she named him after one of the dogs in the Family Circus cartoon strip. My mom bought him for me so long ago that I can’t remember. Barfey was just always there, for as long as I can remember.

I loved him so much he became tattered and dirty. And of course my mom, being the woman she is, resolved this by buying me a replacement Barfey–AND THROWING OUT THE ORIGINAL. She snuffed out a young stuffed animal’s life, just as it was beginning. I was so young that I didn’t know enough to protest. And while the second Barfey was the same dog made by the same company from the same store in the same mall, this one had a brown body and white ears! Leave it to my mom to not even bother to color match.

Barfey was my favorite stuffed animal. I slept with him every night. If we went on a trip, he went with us.

Here if my VHS copy of The Velveteen Rabbit, Hanna-Barbara 1985


There used to be a show on Saturday mornings called ABC Weekend Special. They showed family cartoons and movies. One of my favorites was a cartoon of The Velveteen Rabbit, based on the book by Margery Williams, from 1985, made by Hanna-Barbara. (One of my other favorites was a mini-series called Cougar–I actually managed to find that on DVD!) It always made me think of Barfey. That maybe he loved me as much as I loved him. That maybe he too was on a quest to be real, as was The Velveteen Rabbit.

The Velveteen Rabbit, Hanna-Barbara 1985
[In the nursery closet]
Rocking Horse: Real isn’t how you’re made. It is a thing that happens to you. Love makes you real. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become real. Once you are real, you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always. You can’t be unreal again.
Bunny-Rabbit: Oh, I want very much to be real.

I also imagined that the stress that Barfey went through as I slept with him at night and tossed and turned was probably similar to the torture that The Velveteen Rabbit endured as well.

The Velveteen Rabbit, Hanna-Barbara 1985
[In Robert’s bed]
Bunny-Rabbit: Look out, you’re flattening me.
I can hardly breath.
Ouch, I’m not a football.
Easy now, don’t move. Ooo-ooo.

When I was in fourth grade, I got the Chicken Pox. I was scared because I didn’t really know what that meant. (And they proved to be quite uncomfortable.) I clutched Barfey tightly for comfort during this uncertain time, as my mom called her nurse friend for information. Something occurred to me while she was on the phone, and it scared me more than being sick. Thinking back to The Velveteen Rabbit and the rabbit’s fate after Robert’s sickness, I asked my mom if Barfey was going to have to be burned since I was holding him and I was sick. She laughed at me and told me “no”. I was relieved. And pissed that she would find my question amusing.

As the years past, Barfey got shabbier and shabbier. He was made with ground nut shells. This helped him have more weight and stay in bed at night better than other stuffed animals. But by now his nut shells had turned into nut dust. His eyebrows looked ready to fall off anytime. And my, how his nose dangled from his cute brown muzzle! So, I followed the precedent that had already been set–I bought a replacement Barfey. This one had a yellow body and brown ears. (It was as close as I could find to original Barfey’s color scheme.) My mom’s first impulse is to throw things out the second she no longer has a use for them. My instinct is to keep everything. I kept both Barfeys. From here on out, they would be known as:

All the Barfeys from my scrapbook


Original Barfey = 1st Barfey (no longer with us)
Old Barfey = 2nd Barfey
New Barfey = 3rd Barfey

But New Barfey was not an adequate replacement. Not only because he lacked memories, but also nutshells. He was young and bounced out of bed too easily. New Barfey always struck me more as a stuffed animal, rather than the “real” aura that Old Barfey had. You looked into Old Barfey’s eyes, and he talked to you. Or, at least, to me.

Once I moved out on my own, I developed a fear (remember, I love to worry) of losing my Barfeys, such as in a fire or tornado or volcanic eruption. When I discovered Ebay, I found people who had Barfeys to sell. They were easier to locate when I discovered that his Dakin birth name was “Drooper”. (What a bad name!) I even ordered a few use Barfeys to have as spares. But they are not the same. There experiences were with other children. They are packed away in a drawer upstairs, while my Barfeys have a revered position of honor in my bedroom, on a high shelf, well out of reach of dogs and toddlers. Although, I did finally get a baby “Drooper” that I always wanted and my mother would never buy me. Yes, the design was so popular they even made mini ones.

Barfey is so popular, he was on a greeting card (see far left). Gibson Greetings, Inc.


At the same time I was trying to find a way to keep Barfey with me forever, I was also trying to figure out what tattoo I could get that I would never get tired of. (Do you see where this is going?) So, shortly after my 30th birthday, I had Barfey tattooed on my ankle. I wanted him to look furry and cartoony. I think it turned out wonderful.

My Barfey tattoo


As I continued to age, I felt bad that Barfey had no children in his life anymore. My green-haired friend’s niece, who was fond of me and I of her, gave me a friendship necklace. I put it on Old Barfey, to keep him connected to the wonderful childhood spirit. But, alas, she has now grown to adulthood herself.

The Velveteen Rabbit, Hanna-Barbara 1985
Robert: [to Nanny] He isn’t a toy. He’s real.
Bunny-Rabbit: I’m real. I’m real!

I have never outgrown stuffed animals (that will be a future post). I still find comfort in stroking Old Barfey’s nappy fur and feeling his nose gently rock back and forth. And he probably looks a fright to anyone but me. But I have given him so much loving, that to me, he is REAL. Like The Velveteen Rabbit.

The Velveteen Rabbit, Hanna-Barbara 1985
[By the incinerator]
Nursery Magic Fairy: I watch over all the toys who are worn out from too much loving. I will take you away and make you real.
Bunny-Rabbit: But I am real.
Nursery Magic Fairy: You were real only to the boy. Now you shall be real to everyone.

Fun Trivia Fact: Barfey co-starred in the 1978 movie Long Journey Back with Stephanie Zimbalist.


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Angry Macey Official Book Teaser Trailer

It has arrived!

Sorry I have been MIA for a few weeks, but that is because I was working on many fabulous things for you!

Excerpt from Angry Macey by Jennifer Friess

Angry Macey will be available one week from today on Tuesday, October 24, 2017. If you are a Kindle fan, you can go ahead and pre-order her right now for the limited-time special price of only $.99. This offer won’t last long.

Are you like me? Do you like to know what you are purchasing?

I present to you the Angry Macey Official Book Teaser Trailer.

Enjoy!

(NOTE: Keep an eye out for a Barfey cameo and the I’m Not Stalking You logo!)

And stop back in later in the week for more surprises and free exclusives!

Your past shapes you. It can’t be undone.
ANGRY MACEY
Available for $.99 Pre-Order

Foto Phriday

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I haven’t done one of these in a long time. I didn’t have much to download here this week, but then luckily my dog did something cute.

My furry daughter Dave leads a challenging life. She wants to lay between the three outside doors on the first floor, so that she can protect us from every direction. But, well, there is the issue of my son and most of the Island Of Sodor in her way.

What is a girl to do?

She simply lays down in the middle of it, complete with her lip resting on a homemade buffer. She gets  a nap and achieves maximum cuteness at the same time.

Note the buffer at the end of the line, and the furry lip that rests atop it.

Note the buffer at the end of the line, and the furry lip that rests atop it.

Want details on my buffer-building adventures? Check out these links.

DIY Thomas & Friends Buffer

What I Learned This Week – 8/9/15

Extra points if you can spot the Barfey in the picture. (Don’t worry, that is a spare. The originals hang out on a very high shelf out of reach of the child.)

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

“We are not going to Mackinaw City.”

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My mom and I took a vacation “Up North” in Michigan in June of 1990. I had completed 8th grade, and was due to change buildings to start scary high school in the fall. My 80’s perm that I had finally gotten caused my hair to become dry and frizzy, and I didn’t have the good sense yet to cut it of. My hair would never be as long again until my future wedding. I still toted my New Kids on The Block book with me, and of course my stuffed animal Barfeys.

Turning in for the night with the essentials

Turning in for the night with the essentials

We were only going for three days. My mom decided we would travel up the west side of the state. This was a change from trips we had taken Up North in the past. Usually we were gone for four days, to allow for more sight-seeing, and we usually traveled up the east side or the middle of the state.

“We are not going to Mackinaw City.”

This was my mom’s statement, over and over again, as we planned out the trip. Mackinaw City, and with it the Mackinaw Bridge, are two of my mom’s favorite things in the world. We had been there before. But I think she made the statement for two reasons.

  • I think she wanted to see something new we had not seen before, which is why we went up the west side of the state.
  • How she travels, then this took longer, and I don’t think she had enough money for us to have another night’s motel stay.
  • And she did not want to drive all the way home from Mackinaw City in one day.

Wait. That is three reasons. But they are all related to each other.

We headed off at the end of June. My mom must have thought I was old enough to pack for myself, because I went without a jacket. It is summer! It is June! Who needs a jacket!

That was the gloomiest, rainiest, coldest end of June, until 2015. Since then, I have learned that it is always colder the further north you go, and near the water. Either way, it was still colder than it should have been. My mom told me to layer my T-shirts, so I did. It did not really help to keep me any warmer.

Our first major stop was Holland, Michigan. It was really awesome to see an actual Dutch windmill. There were dancers who wore wooden shoes. They were impressive. Even with wearing layers and layers of socks, I still figured that must be the worst summer job in town.

We traveled through Muskegon that day, and spent the night in Manistee. I kept thinking how much it sounded like “manatee.” We went to sleep and dreamed of warm days and sunny skies. But the dawn brought only more clouds and rain.

In the morning, my mother reminded me, “We are not going to Mackinaw City. We need to start heading back down for home tonight, so we will not have a long drive tomorrow.”

We traveled through Frankfort and spotted a lighthouse across the water. Lighthouses are my favorite. If I recall correctly, my mom found a condo parking lot she drove through to get a better look at it. The Frankfort light may have been the first one I ever saw with a breakwater attached to it. The way the rough waters splashed up against it was impressive. I could have captured it better with a digital camera, but they did not exist yet.

Frankfort Breakwater Light, Frankfort, MI 1990

Frankfort Breakwater Light, Frankfort, MI 1990

We stopped at Sleeping Bear Dunes, another of my favorite places. Not so much when it is blowing and cold and rainy though. The first time we had ever been there, I was like eight years old. My mom wasn’t spry enough to climb the dunes with me, and I was too young to climb them by myself. Now, I was old enough to go up myself, but the weather was just too crappy. We bought me a souvenir T-shirt in the gift shop, to add to my layers of warmth. (I was wearing all the shirts I had brought for the entire vacation every day.) It was neon pink and three sizes too big, because I was not done with 80’s fashions yet.

The wind is blowing my shirt, but it looks like something else...

The wind is blowing my shirt, but it looks like something else…

If you think this is just a post about me whining about a gloomy trip, please stick with me. I am almost to the part where the cloud bank lifts and the angels sing. Actually, it was a band playing, but you get the idea…

We went to Traverse City. We drove out on Old Mission Point and found another lighthouse. We couldn’t go inside or climb this one either, but at least we could take pictures out front.

Old Mission Point Lighthouse, near Traverse City, MI 1990

Old Mission Point Lighthouse, near Traverse City, MI 1990

Then a strange thing happened.

My mom got on the road to Mackinaw City (Route 31, most likely). We passed through little towns. We passed by convenience stores selling fudge. We passed through the big cities of Charlevoix and Petoskey.

She kept driving. I kept quiet. Sure, I was the navigator with the map, but she had to know we were headed for Mackinaw City, right? After all, there were road signs that indicated we were nearing it. Billboards advertising the various ferry companies, Arnold, Sheplers, and Star Line, became more and more prominent.

Another funny thing happened. The clouds began to clear.

But she was the mother, the adult, and she had said, “We are not going to Mackinaw City.”

Had she lost her mind? Taken leave of her senses?

Either way, I was keeping my mouth shut, because I really really DID want to go to Mackinaw City. I figured if I didn’t say anything, we would just end up there and it would be too late.

And that is just what happened. We rolled into Mackinaw City. And while I wouldn’t say the sun came out, the rain stopped.

The weather improved enough that the kite store was flying a long string of colorful kites up into the sky, all tied to one another. It was like a fabric rainbow after the rain. The scent of fresh fudge hung heavy in the air. Next to the Straits of Mackinac in the park at the end of the street, a huge band started to set up. When they began to play, the music drifted down the street, where cars were parked along the center boulevard as they probably had since the 1950’s, and souvenir shops lined up next to each other. Since the 4th of July was only a few weeks away, they had many patriotic songs mixed into their selections. I guess it made sense that they were playing in the town square, since it was a Saturday evening. But I was on vacation, and had lost all track of time.

Actual program from that night's performance

Actual program from that night’s performance

I just think back on that night so fondly. It is one of the moments in my life that I will cherish forever. That may be one of the most relaxed and happy times of my life, right then. My mom and I walked the shops until the lights shined brightly inside and the sun fell below the horizon, in the shadow of the giant bridge, connecting the the two peninsulas like a neck connects a head to a body.

In the morning, the sun shone brightly in the sky (of course!). We made one last visit to my mom’s favorite park by the bridge, then started off on our long trip home.

Mackinac Bridge, Mackinaw City, MI 1990

Mackinac Bridge, Mackinaw City, MI 1990

Years later, I admitted to her that I knew where we were headed but I hadn’t said anything. “Oh, I knew where we were going. But we were that close, and I just couldn’t help but head up there.”

Still, I think she may have been in a vacation daze. If I had said anything, who knows, it may have snapped her out of it. Then we never would have gone to Mackinaw City. I wish I was there right now. With a jacket, just in case…

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books When You Least Expect It & The Wind Could Blow a Bug AVAILABLE NOW! (The Wind Could Blow a Bug is ON SALE for only $.99 for a limited time.)

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on Amazon.com TODAY.

Give The Perfect Gift

[Stuffed Animals: #3 in a Series of ?]

For past posts on stuffed animals, or stuffies (as I call them), please visit:

Barfey https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2012/09/13/barfey/

Sleeps With Stuffed Animals https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2012/09/20/1244/

I came up with a great idea the other day as I was cleaning the top of my dresser in the bedroom. As with all my ideas, I am sure someone else has already conceived it and slickly marketed it. But, I will share it with you here anyway.

When you are sick or feeling down, people give you flowers. Flowers either come in a vase you have to try not to spill, or you have to find a vase to put them in. You have to keep them watered. And then they just die anyway. If you are trying to get over someone’s death, doesn’t having to throw away dead flowers just make you think about death and throwing life away and feeling even more depressed? Wouldn’t it be better to have something to hug?

Flowers…such high maintenance


Not to mention people with allergies–keep those flowers away!

People also send fruit bouquets or muffin baskets or popcorn baskets, etc. But people are always watching their calories. And watching their cholesterol. And avoiding gluten. And being scared of nuts. Not to mention steering clear of coconut. Because everyone knows it is so gross. The message: people are particular about what they eat. Food is never a good gift.

Fruit, anyone? Better eat that up fast, because fruit goes bad.


Muffins…carbs, gluten…


Popcorn…fat, sodium, those little things that get stuck in your teeth…


Balloon bouquet? Obviously you don’t know about the rising occurrences of latex allergies in this country.

Balloons…airway constricting,vision getting dim…


So what is a person who wants to send someone a thoughtful, yet impersonal gift to do?

Sample bouquet mock-up from my own collection. Hmmm…how does the name “Pleasantly Plush” sound for my business?

    Send them the STUFFED ANIMAL BOUQUET!*

    That’s right! The stuffed animal bouquet.

    Choose from many different sizes.

    Purchase a big basket full of small animals, or a basket featuring a large animal surrounded by smaller ones.

    Pick a theme, such as Teddy Bears, Dogs, Cats, Favorite Sports Team–or order our variety baskets.

    Choose from Farm, Forest, Jungle, Ocean, Swamp, Safari, or Zoo!

    We can cater to any occasion: birthday, anniversary, wedding, Quinceaños, Bar Mitzvah, federally recognized holidays.

    We can even create a tasteful yet comforting arrangement for funerals. When someone you care about has lost their someone to hug, be sure you provide them with a fuzzy substitute full of childlike wonder to fill in the empty void.

    For a limited time**, you can get a free card when you order any bouquet, handling and delivery fees extra.

Wouldn’t that be so fun to work with stuffed animals all day? And they might go to little sick kids in the hospital and put a big smile on their faces.

But I would have to use quality animals, not just the junk that gets dumped in a claw machine or hangs in the booths at the carnival. That would make my bouquets expensive. I would worry that someone would complain that they didn’t like it. But really, that would be between the gifter and the giftee.

* This company does not actually exist. Although I know it sounds awesome, please do not try to order.
** As long as the make-believe company exists.

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