Early-Onset Nosophobia and Unrelated Mental Tantrums

I had occasion recently to read a story I wrote almost five years ago. Among the many character names mentioned in the story—most only in passing—were Shady Fulcrum, Gludge Mokrey, Cleatus Pryor, and Barney Clump. There were several others, most a little less strange and jarring. Although none of the aforementioned characters are central to the story, their odd names play an important (but not an explicit) role in defining the story’s setting. The thought occurred to me this morning, as I awoke at a quarter to six (in yesterday’s terms, thanks to our semi-annual clock adjustments, a quarter to five), that each of those characters has a story of his own. I can envision writing an entire series of stories that revolve around these characters. My recent thought of revisiting my fictional town of Struggles, Arkansas, coupled with this morning’s consideration of character names from another story, may spur me on the write a series that merges the characters from the two into a string of stories. I like the idea. Will I act on it? Time will tell.


Another thought crossed my mind this morning, while watching a video that popped up on my Facebook feed. The video consisted of several short clips showing people bending and shaping small trees—saplings, really—in the art of bonsai. The artists were intent as they clipped away little branches and wrapped the tiny trunks and limbs in rope and/or wire and then bent the wood into the shapes the artists wanted. Though some of the bends seemed too severe, to me, the wood did not snap. I assume, but I am not sure, that the wire and rope will be removed at some point and the little trees will retain their forced shapes. I may explore more about bonsai; I might even give it a try. After watching the video, I searched my blog to see whether I might have written about bonsai in the past; I had, but not about trees. There’s one mention on my blog about Bonsai, about six years ago. I wrote about the sad announcement some friends had made, on Facebook, about the decision to euthanize their cat, Bonsai, to put him out of his misery. My friends shared the pain of the decision and their loss. Even though it was hard for them, the outpouring of support they received was no doubt helpful in dealing with the trauma. Perhaps practicing the art of bonsai is a way of dealing with pain and trauma. Maybe I will see whether it is a healing art.


Speaking of healing. I don’t think I’ve considered, until this morning, categorizing hypodermic with respect to its part of speech. I know, that’s a ghastly admission. As I thought about it, I assumed it was a noun, as simply a component of hypodermic needle. The dictionary verified that hypodermic needle is, indeed a noun, a two-part word. But the dictionary also confirmed my underlying suspicion that hypdermic is an adjective; the “ic” offers a clue that the word is a modifier, an adjective. My thoughts then scrambled toward another word, hypothermia. I checked to see whether hypothermic also was a legitimate word. It is. So why is hypodermia not a legitimate word? Or it is? A person can die from hypothermia. Can that same person die from hypodermia? (Of course not; the person already died from hypothermia and we all know a person cannot die twice…except for the age-old saying, “You die twice, once when life leaves your body and again when your name is spoken for the last time.”) I think I’m wandering off track again, in my normal modus operandi. Back to the issue: can a person die from hypodermia? I imagine others have already explored this odd query and have developed ironclad answers; it matters not to me. My imagination is unrestrained by history and actual fact. That, and the fact I’m too lazy this morning (and most mornings) to ferret out the answer to the question; if the answer mattered deeply, I might get off my duff and look for it, but it doesn’t matter enough to warrant the expenditure of energy, time, and analytical engagement. In other words, “the game is not worth the candle.”  Le jeu n’en vaut pas la chandelle.


The little rural community in which I live is full of people from all over the country. Many of those people travel internationally on a regular basis, mostly for vacations. Given the extent of travel in which members of our community engage, I wonder whether the COVID-19 virus might already have crept into this backwoods setting already. And, given that the age-range of residents here is heavily weighted toward the upper 60s and beyond, I wonder how dangerous such a virus might be in this community. We might all do well to stock up on toilet paper and food, seal ourselves in our homes, paint our bodies with alcohol, wear face masks, and avoid all contact with other humans. But I’m not going to do that. Not just yet. So, it’s off to church this morning, where I’m sure I’ll elbow-bump a few people.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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