Category Archives: illness

Rising from the Dead

I have had Covid for at least seven days now. I tested positive on Sunday morning. It was three days of being ill before I took the last home test kit I had. It gave me a clear positive result in exactly 15 minutes, just as the test-kit instructions claimed it would.

I have been unable to concentrate enough to read and write for the majority of the time. I have been bedridden for a lot of that time with coughing and congestion, body aches, fever, and nausea. And yet, I was still forced to get out to the local grocery store every day because the house has a dissolving plumbing system from the 1860s that we can’t afford to fix and it is necessary for a sick person to go poo every day indoors in order to promote community health and give the sick person hope of recovery.

Of course, the fact that I am now recovering rather than dying is not an indicator that my life was never at risk. I have been diabetic for 22 years. I have had osteo-arthritis for 48 years. I have had dozens of episodes of flu, chronic bronchitis, and a week in the hospital for pnuemonia where I learned to be on a ventilator precovid. But with all that practice building wings and learning to fly on the way down has served me well. I did not waste my money on any ambulance rides. I called my doctor, informed his nurse of the positive test, and got a call back with a list of self-care items to bring me through to the other side alive and medical-bill free. Of course, I jumped at every chance to get the vaccine for free and boosted for free… four times. That alone was a saving grace. It meant Covid Omicron, the second version of it that I have probably had, no longer had the opportunity to fill my lungs with mucus and assassinate me like it has done with over a million Americans.

It is simply a fact that I should be dead now.

But I am not. With defiance and self-reliance. A fact my Republican neighbors and conservative friends in Iowa probably hate. And I firmly believe there is a purpose to existence. Heck, Kierkagaard, Hegel, and Sartre tell me through their philosophy that I am entitled to create one for myself if I can’t find one. And I have learned much from being so good at rising from the dead so Tmany times. Let me list some of it.

  1. Even the self-reliant ones at their best need to lean on their community now and again.
  2. All men are not bad men and wish us ill. Most people care about others just as much aw I do.
  3. There is no good reason to fear illness and death. But there is certainly also no reason to seek it out.
  4. Living every day as if it is probably your last leaves you with a memorable and vivid life in the end.
  5. And somebody should have drummed it into our heads when we were children and too stupid to understand it rhat all these things are true… oh, wait… they did.
  6. Sorry it took me so long to remember all of that.


Filed under commentary, humor, illness, insight, philosophy

Encouraging Signs

The Canadian Geese have shown up to winter in the North Dallas area early this year. I saw them today at Richland College in Richardson, Texas, a Dallas suburb. The tallest one in the picture was apparently the drill sergeant as he was honking out the goose-language equivalent of, “Hup, two, three, four… pick it up, two, three, four…” and marching them across the South parking lot, completely unconcerned about nearby people and cars, and college students (who may or may not be classified as people.) I could have walked up behind him and bopped him on the back of his head with my hand and he wouldn’t have been particularly upset. Of course, I would’ve been subjected immediately to goose wrath from his soldiers all around me. And, believe me, goose wrath is not particularly survivable.

Canadian geese having flown South for the winter is an encouraging sign. It is evidence of normal behavior by weather-sensitive creatures in a time of chronic effects from human-caused global warming. The fact that they are willing to land in a State where so many rednecks carry around AR-15s and are not noticeably people-shy is also a good sign unless it means that rednecks are too busy hunting liberals to think about shooting at geese.

A very good sign for me as a writer is the fact that on Tuesday, November 1st this week, I sold five books in one day for the first time ever. Someone bought copies of Magical Miss Morgan, Sing Sad Songs, Horatio T. Dogg, A Field Guide to Fauns, and The Baby Werewolf. Now, there is no way to know from the author’s Amazon dashboard who bought these five books at the same time, or even if it was one person, or five different people. But I have suspicions.

I have been talking to an American Library Association-affiliated marketing group about my book Catch a Falling Star. They wanted me to market that book with them at a gigantic book fair in New Orleans in January. That book, published by I-Universe has won two publishing-house awards from I-Universe, the Editors’ Choice Award and the Rising Star Award. This book, on the Amazon website, appears to be highly marketable, and their book scouts read and recommended the book as a featured submission at their book fair booth. This would be a plumb marketing help for a writer struggling to even get a little notice with the best of his books. But, not having the necessary money to invest, about $850.00, I had to turn them down.

I researched it before deciding, and the book fair is a real thing, not a scam. I was offered a similar marketing campaign a year ago by I-Universe which also knows the quality of that book because they edited it. But their plan was over three times more expensive. And I am not available to appear at book fairs for book signings because of six incurable diseases and generally poor health, as well as the fact that all travel expenses would be mine to take care of. I made seven dollars from royalties this last month. It doesn’t begin to pay the bills. The publishing industry demands far more than it gives to authors.

Still, the five books in one day that I sold are a good indicator that someone is looking at self-published books to find a marketable gem to invest in. I am, after all, the only owner of the publishing rights to my self-published books. So, there is potential if I can stay alive long enough to see it happen.

I have been down of late. The eye doctor says my glaucoma damage is impossible to repair, so I am going to continue being more blind than I ever was before. I have been unable to even think about going back to the nudist camp. I am worried about losing the ability to drive. And heart attacks or strokes are always lurking in the background.

But not all signs point to badness and the end of the world. Some things are encouraging. And those are the signs I will be paying the most attention to.

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Filed under commentary, humor, illness, publishing

Slightly Feverish

An infinite number of monkeys with and infinite number of word-processors will supposedly eventually type out everything I have ever written and everything I am going to write… As well as everything I will ever write with a random word misspelled or replaced with the wrong word. It would be an infinite mess. After all, infinite monkeys and infinite word-processors would fill infinite space and leave no room for infinite bananas. The monkeys would all starve after the initial typed manuscripts are completed, and any surviving monkeys that randomly evolved an ability to eat word-processors would die from exposure to infinite rotting monkey corpses. The whole thing gets gruesome after a while.

But let’s get serious for a moment. (Something that is generally difficult for Mickey.) Monkeys with type-writers will not solve my essential problem. I will not run out of stories before I run out of time for story-telling. And I find it totally creditable that my time is almost gone.

I am ill again, with a viral infection that gives me headaches, low-grade fever, and a wicked cough. I feel horrible. I had chest pains last night that led to a serious debate yet again. If it had been a heart attack, that would’ve been the end. I cannot survive economically another hospital bill. So, I have to go on the theory that since the last heart-attack scare was only arthritis in the ribs and the strange effect that has on EKGs, this one must also be the same. I can’t afford any other conclusion. And since I am still alive to write this, it was obviously the correct conclusion to draw.

The titles I have listed above, still in my stupid old head, are eleven more books I will add to my growing list. This is, of course, entirely dependent on how much longer I have before the darkness claims me for all time. I have writing to do. No more days off. And if I get five more years of two books a year, I just might make it. But last night convinced me that the effort may end at any time. So, though I am sick, I better get busy and write something.


Filed under health, illness, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

Tricks With Lazy Goals in Mind


As a writer, my goal is to create wisdom and new ideas and stuff that makes a reader feel happy, or sad, or angry, or even slightly insane.  But thinking is hard when your head hurts and your body aches and your sixty-sixth birthday is just around the corner.  (Yes, this Mickey is nearly 66, but can you believe that that other Mickey is going to be 94 on the day after I turn 66?)  Sometimes you just want to say, “Never mind that I wanted to post every single day for the past two years.  Just curl up in a ball and go to sleep.”  But there are ways to get something done even if your mind is full of the Sandman’s leavings and old, rotted dreams.


You can always get by with posting somebody else’s wisdom… somebody else’s thinking.  You don’t have to work too hard to paste things together.  After all, why else did you have to look at so many cut-and-paste essays over the years in middle school and high school?


And you can rely on the work you have already done collecting computer files full of colorful crap and stuff you like enough to steal to complete your cut-and-paste scrapbook post.  You don’t have to feel like you erred and are about to have your head cut off by an angry Groo.


And you know you can get a lot of cheap likes on Facebook with some of the stuff you have available to put in this post.  You have been working at the “Be funny!” thing for a long time and have gotten almost good enough at it to be funny on the fly.  And when you’ve gotten more than halfway to the goal, you can rest a bit.  Take a nap.  Regenerate the crazy things in your head so you can do this all again another day.


And if you can have a laugh before you are finished, even if no one else in the world gets the joke… well, at least you will feel a little bit better yourself.

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Filed under battling depression, blog posting, empathy, feeling sorry for myself, healing, humor, illness, self pity, strange and wonderful ideas about life, surrealism

550 on a Bad Weather Day

Mickey prefers to be red. In fact, during baseball season, Cardinal Nation Red. But on this day when he has reached 550 days in a row with at least one post, Mickey is blue. Blue with the rain and the pain and the failure to gain, not Toronto Blue Jays blue.

Mickey is lost at sea when it comes to the question, “What should I write about today, tomorrow, and the day after that?” He had some big ideas to write about… but they seem to be too big for his little head to really get around.

He wanted to write something about sex and sexuality and sex education. But you already know why he’s a clueless idiot on this particular topic. His sex life was screwed up at ten and further messed over by religious teachings, and even more religious teachings when he tried to change his religion. So, he really has no wisdom to share on the matter. He is better off sticking within his innocent little pre-pubescent mindset where he can be perpetually no more controversial than a twelve-year-old. But by now you have probably learned enough about Mickey to know that he is enough of a real writer to not be able to stay within the safe zone. You will probably be pretty upset with him over some post in the near future. (I know that is partly wrong too. Being upset is never pretty.)

This weekend he actually had an uptick in views on WordPress, probably due to making the Twitter Nudists aware of his post called, “Why I Need to Be Naked.” They went and read it and looked at the pictures and told Mickey via Twitter that it was good (apparently not realizing you can Like things on WordPress.) And they also looked through his old posts for the other nudist things on Catch a Falling Star. “Free to Be Naked” and “Nudist Notions” got dug up and read again and again. And I should warn you, more nudists than ever are following Mickey on Twitter now. He will probably bore you with more nudist-friendly stuff.

Now that Mickey is finally clear of bankruptcy, he started buying and collecting dolls again. Chilly Willy is not a plastic doll, but the rest of these are new since the bankruptcy ended. There is a good chance he will write about this subject again too, though clearly, it is a sign that his mental stability is going South fast. Old coots on Medicare should probably not be playing with dolls so much.

But Mickey is still blue, though he longs to be red. Arthritis pain, diabetic problems like sores, memory loss, and low blood sugar all work on his mood in very bad ways. But you never know when the sun will come out again. And, since we have been scorched by hot weather for more than a month, a little cool blue might be better than red hot anyway.

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Filed under autobiography, baseball fan, battling depression, cardinals, commentary, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, illness, Paffooney

Followed by a Moon Shadow

Moonshadow by Cat Stevens

I first heard this song as a freshman in coll20160424_181349ege.  It struck me that it was hauntingly beautiful… but maybe I wasn’t entirely sure what it meant.

The song is about losing body parts and being okay with that.

That can actually be kinda creepy, right?

It is probably a song about gradually dying.

But that’s not really what it’s about.

I am there now.  Peeling, cracking, drying out… my life has reached the downhill run toward the finish line.  But I am not worried and not afraid.  Life is so much more than hands and eyes and legs and feet.  I can lose those things and have no regrets.  I am so much more than merely the sum of those physical things.

My spirit soars.  And my life is bound up in words and meanings that are now written down, and are at least as imperishable as paper.  And may, in fact, be written on a few human hearts here and there.

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Filed under feeling sorry for myself, healing, health, humor, illness, insight, inspiration, music, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

My Brother’s Keeper

It is a Biblical question. After Cain killed Abel, God came asking for Abel’s whereabouts. And Cain stupidly answered, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Stupid Cain! Did he not know that God already knew the answer?

And stupid God. Why did he ask a question to which he already knew the answer? And why did he ask stupid Cain whom he must’ve already known was stupid?

But the answer to the question in this bit of Biblical moral mythology is supposed to be, “Yes, Cain. You are your brother’s keeper.”

So, why am I, a confirmed Christian Existentialist (an atheist who believes in God), trying to tell you something from a Biblical story?

Well, the matter is simple. As I will very likely die soon from Coronavirus (which I am not yet infected with, but, you know, the kindness of fate…), I am trying like heck to impart what little wisdom I have gathered in my life so that I may leave something behind me that has worth.

This current pandemic is itself a demonstration of the truth behind the claim that I am my brother’s keeper.

I wear a mask everywhere I go now because a mask protects not only me but it also protects others from me. After all, I have no access to testing. I may have the virus and just not know it. Then my exhalations would contain droplets of water that have viruses swimming in it. The mask, combined with six feet of distance, keeps my exhalations from reaching the lungs of uninfected others, and potentially slaying them as Cain did to Abel.

It is because of Texan prejudices against mask-wearing and social distancing that I know I will probably be infected before this pandemic is over. And my diabetes, blood pressure problems, and previous difficulty with bronchitis and COPD insure that I am not part of the 80 percent of people who will survive the virus. I will get pneumonia and die.

When I suggest, however, that we should each take on the responsibility for the safety and well-being of others, I do not mean that we should become a zoo-keeper, and keep them all safely in cages (the Senator Cruz method of keeping Mexican immigrants safe). You cannot presume to control the thoughts and behaviors of others. You must only adopt the way of love and brotherhood. You put the interests and needs of others before your own. You lead by example, not by decree.

Before you start complaining in the comments about how stupid I am in this essay because I blaspheme against God, and at the same time don’t see people for how they really are, remember that I used to be a school teacher. You don’t do that job because you want to be rich and powerful. You do that job for love of others… specifically, other people’s children. And it is true that everybody has their bad points. Everybody is thoughtless, or wicked, or deeply troubled at times. But everyone also has qualities about them that make them beautiful, or kind, or noble, or selfless, or… well, the list of good things I have seen and nurtured in other people’s children is far longer and more profound than the bad things. No matter who they are, no matter what color or culture or religion they are, my brothers and sisters and their children have worth.

So, here I am, declaring that I am, most definitely, my brother’s keeper. (And unlike Cain, I did not kill him. He and his wife live along the Texas coast, near Houston. And they are not in a cage.)

And here is the question most critical to my survival…

Are you your brother’s keeper too?

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Filed under humor, illness, Paffooney, philosophy, religion, wisdom

Down the Rabbithole

Sometimes life goes well.

And sometimes it goes really rotten.

And it seems that it goes badly three or maybe four times as often as it goes well.

This has been a bad week for me.

I got a booster shot two days ago to protect against further Covid problems. But I am still ill today just from the injection.

And yet I am still supposed to be funny on Fridays.

So, today, I am going to explain why rabbits’ feet are not going to help.

They are not lucky for me.

I have been a rabbit for forty years, since I was 25 and starting a career as a teacher.

Rabbits are always alert, always ready to face whatever predators may come our way, foxes, weasels, bears, tigers, bankers, health-insurance salesmen, lawyers, and politicians.

Rabbits have a field of vision that stretches for well more than the human 180 degrees of view.

They have to put together sensory input quickly, thump loudly with a hind leg, and bolt down the rabbit hole.

Critics would say that a rabbit doesn’t act assertively enough, standing up for himself in the face of what is unjust, life-threatening, and wrong. But it is not easy to be a rabbit in a dangerous world where bad luck is more common than good.

And think about it carefully, in a harsh and unjust world-environment. a rabbit’s foot is never lucky to the rabbit it came from.

So, feeling rotten, surrounded by crumbling pipes and leaky plumbing in this old house, and getting nothing but spam calls on the phone from scammers, this fat old rabbit, going blind and laid up with arthritis pain, is still happy to count all four rabbit’s feet still attached.

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Filed under autobiography, feeling sorry for myself, humor, illness, metaphor, Paffooney, rabbit people

Mickey’s Eulogy

No, Mickey is not dead. So, don’t worry… or if you are celebrating, stop it!

I just got to thinking that since I am feeling ill again, and every time I have a cold or flu or a Covid variant it could easily be the death of me with my six incurable diseases, I really ought to have the chance that Tom Sawyer once got to eavesdrop on his own funeral.

Of course, there would undoubtedly be more laughing and joking at my funeral and less crying than there was at Tom’s.

The purple mouse-man would begin the service. He would be wearing his best polka-dotted bow-tie. And he would say, “We come here today not to praise Mickey, but to bury him. He was nothing like Julius Caesar. In fact, he was nothing like anybody we know of from history, recorded newspaper accounts, or Shakespeare plays like Julius Caesar. He was a novelist and an amateur cartoonist. And the best thing that can be said about him is that he was a public school teacher for many, many, many, probably too many years. And he never killed a student (that we can prove,) and he never made a student leave his class dumber than he was on the day he entered the class (and Jorge is not an exception to that statement because the drugs he took that melted his brain came from a San Antonio drug dealer, not from Mickey’s wonderful teaching.)”

And then there would probably be former students that wanted to say something. Clint would probably say something like, “I never had a teacher as funny as him. We would put tacks on his chair, and he always would see them before he sat down, but he would yelp even though he had secretly removed the tack first so that he could tell by which one of us was laughing hardest who was probably guilty. But he never blamed me for the ones I did. He blamed Robert for those. He only blamed me for the ones Robert put there. And Robert put more of them than I did, so it was not fair that I had to talk to the principal more than Robert did. That’s why I ratted Robert out and we both got put on in-school suspension for a week. And then, when we both came back to class, he was laughing harder than I ever saw him laugh before. And I began to suspect he was really evil then.”

And then Leopard Girl would stand up and say, “He was also a good teacher for imaginary students. We would be exposed to all kinds of books and stories, and we had to read and have opinions about stuff. And if we liked a character in a story, he would make us write an imaginary conversation with that character and argue with them about treating the environment better, or being nicer to other people, and think about things from the story that impressed us the most. And you know what? I think sometimes he tricked us into actually learning things.”

And then it would be the talking dog’s turn to speak. And he would get up front, sniff the podium, pee on it, and say, “He was not very smart. He thought dogs could actually talk to people. Like this one time we were walking in the park and this German Shepherd started barking at him. He tried to tell me that the dog was saying good morning to us and inquiring about Aunt Mabel’s lumbago. I told him the dog was barking in German, so he couldn’t understand what it was saying. He claimed he took three years of German in college. I told him that what the dog really said was that if it could get off of its leash, it would come over and eat us because we smelled like burglars. He told me that I was a dog and didn’t actually understand German, and that the word actually meant a person from Hamburg in Germany. I told him I was just a dog and I didn’t actually speak English either!”

I have to admit, my funeral will be nothing at all like this. My sisters wouldn’t stand for having a dog talk at my funeral. And my wife would want to have me cremated and put into a coffee tin to save money, forgoing the expense of an actual funeral so she would have a bit more money to spend on shoes.

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Filed under feeling sorry for myself, humor, illness, Paffooney

My Second Quarantine Adventure

I am now confined to my bedroom for another couple of weeks. Me, alone with my imagination, having to put on a mask to go down to the kitchen to make soup or go to the restroom. And it is the second time. But this timek I am the one infected. Before it was number two son who brought it home from work and got us all locked up at home.

To be honest, I haven’t gotten a test yet to determine that it is truly Omicron. If I do, I have to have somebody help me get there as we do not yet have any home tests. That would put whoever volunteers at risk. Plus, an official diagnosis creates more days missed from work for my wife who already has to teach in a germ-filled middle school with a mask on all day.

So, since I am only assuming I have Covid Omicron, I get to take care of myself in isolation. And if it is not Omicron, for which I am triple vaccinated, I have to worry that the regular flu is probably more dangerous than Covid and could potentially kill me.

I tend to get sick from regular flu even when I am vaccinated.

But while I am holed up with headaches and sore throat, I am finishing a novel, The Necromancer’s Apprentice. I have one chapter and two illustrations yet to finish.

This will be the first novel I have written set entirely in Tellosia, the kingdom of Fairies, Sylphs, Pixies, and Elves that exists just beyond the edges of the small town of Norwall, Iowa. All of the Fairy people and fairy animals are shrunk down by modern disbelief in them to a size where a six-foot person would be only three inches tall.

I hope to have it published in the next week. I, of course, now have additional time to work on it.

The Necromancer’s village of Mortimer’s Mudwallow

So, I have a choice. I can sit and suffer and watch TV, or I can get busy and write and publish.


Filed under autobiography, feeling sorry for myself, humor, illness, novel writing, Paffooney