My Life On Parade
Sel, me, Paul and Spider, July, 2014

Sel, me, Paul and Spider, July, 2014

Spunky

July 21st, 2914

Got my first cell phone last week, a smart phone. Now I feel like everyone else! We are dropping our land line phone, but I can’t quite let go of the old technology as I have an old school handset that I can plug into my smart phone!

Over at the new townhouse things are coming together. Put the satellite TV and electricity in my name and soon we will have internet also in my name. This is a big step for me as during the past 42 years; we have ALWAYS kept EVERYTHING in Spider’s name. Next we need to put my name on the car.

In mid-August, Spider is scheduled for another MRI and then a few days later we will meet with Dr. Devis. It will be at that time that we will learn exactly what effect the radioactive isotopes that were inserted into one side of Spider’s liver back in March have had. Have they shrunk the large tumors? That’s the big question. Also, what effect has the half dose chemo pill had on his tumors? I’m thinking it is gonna be good news as Spider seems pretty stable to me right now, pretty spunky. True, he poops out if we do too much walking (in fact, he received his handicap sign for the car so he can park closer to the stores), but otherwise he seems pretty spunky.

The only thing that worries me about Spider right now is his weight. I mean, he only weights 130 pounds which is 30 pounds less than he weighted last year at this time. I am constantly trying to feed him (and I put butter and sour cream and avocados on everything), but he only will eat small amounts, not enough to put weight on. He says that if he eats too much he feels like he is going to throw-up.

We ran into our next door neighbor Carolyn the other day while picking some stuff up at the old house and she said “I already miss you guys so much. I can feel that your presence is no longer next door and it makes me feel so sad, and I feel bad that I have never done anything nice for you in all the years we’ve been neighbors, while you have been so kind to me. You were the only ones who welcomed me into the neighborhood and you told me that if I needed anything or if I heard a bump in the night, to call you and you would be right there, and Spider has fixed so many things for me around my house. I’m so very sorry that I never did anything for you in return“Then, she started to cry and asked us to join her in a group hug.

Renee’ stopped by our townhouse one evening and brought us some home made chocolate chip cookies (to fatten up Spider). We had a nice visit, had a few laughs and talked about ourselves and got to know more about each other. Spider really likes her, says she has an energy that he connects with. A couple of days later I received a beautiful and heartfelt Facebook message from her. It read:

Dear Michael - I’ve been reading your blog and my heart is filled to overflowing with joy, compassion, hope, concern and most of all…..love. Is it too soon in our new friendship to tell you guys that I love you? I do. I loved you right away, at Eva & Jeff’s. Something inside me knew the beauty and magnificence of the two of you, and I wanted to shout to the heavens, “look at these beautiful men! How blessed I am to have met them! Thank you, Father/Mother/God!” So much I want to say, so dearly I want to help, so desperately I want Spider to remain filled with the life he so clearly loves spending with you! I’ve never, ever seen two people more truly in love. Just to witness it, to be around you two, is a gift beyond compare. I hope you’re both sleeping soundly…. sweetly….. tonite, wrapped in the safety and bliss of each other’s arms. – Renee’

Recently a voice from the past reached out to us out of the blue. Carrie O. sent us an email. Carrie and Spider were once an item in their youth while Spider lived up in Berkeley, just before I came into the picture. We haven’t heard from her probably since 1974. In writing back and forth, I learned that Carrie has been married to her husband David for 42 years and has kids and grandkids and she was one of the three founders of MoveOn.org. Of course, as a political junkie, when I read about her connection to MoveOn.org, my mouth fell open. That is huge! Spider says that it doesn’t surprise him as Carrie was always a passionate person destined to do important things. Anyway, I told Carrie about Spider’s cancer and, like all of us, she was shocked and since then she and Spider have exchanged emails and she made it clear that she would be there for him in any way he needed. She says that Spider played an important part in her life as a young woman and Spider says he has fond memories of their time together, so I’m glad they are reunited. When you really care about someone, it is forever.

On Friday night, Paul and Sel stopped by to see our new place and to take us out to dinner for Spider’s birthday. The thing is, I had only slept two hours the night before and had spent most of the day working on new house projects and I was so tired by the time that Paul and Sel arrived that I fell asleep twice while we were visiting! That was so rude of me and I’m so embarrassed, but I know that Paul and Sel will forgive me.

 

Me, Jeff, Eva and Spider (on our way up to Kitt Peak Observatory), July, 2014

Me, Jeff, Eva and Spider (on our way up to Kitt Peak Observatory), July, 2014

Moving

July 14th, 2014

Several friends have sent emails to check in on us, a little concerned because I haven’t posted a blog in nearly two weeks. Everything is fine. We’ve just been busy moving into our new townhouse and we don’t have internet there yet..

Spider told me that he has never felt happier as he does right now moving and working on projects around the new place, and I believe him. I know that I’m always singing his praises, but Spider is not only an amazing guitar player, he is also an amazing structure mechanic, a guy that can fix anything that needs to be fixed from a clogged up washing machine to installing an electrical ceiling fan, and he’s putting his talents to work all around the townhouse. Spider loves doing this kind of shit.

We’re pretty much moved into the townhouse now and living there. Spider is not suppose to do any heavy lifting, and so we reached out to a few pals for help. A couple of Saturdays ago, Robert S. came by and used his truck to help us haul some pieces of furniture, then last week, we rented a truck and two of Spider’s workmates Mark R. and Steve H. along with Steve’s son David, came over and hauled all of the big stuff (mattresses, couch, TV, etc.) for us. I mean, these guys came in and kicked ass. We can’t thank them enough and thank you to Robert too. Also thank you to Rex M. (who offered to drive from San Diego to help us move) and neighbors John and Martha who offered help (as well the use of their truck) and Dave and Eileen who offered to come from Colorado to help us. Boy, it’s nice to have friends. Listen to me I know. You got to have friends. Okay….those lines are from an old Bette Midler song, but it’s true!

No sooner did the guys finish help move us, when we got our first monsoon of the summer. I mean, it came down like gangbusters! I love the rain and we need the rain, but I’m so glad it didn’t rain while we were in the middle of the move.

I’m starting to like the townhouse more and more, starting to feel more comfortable there. I think the same is true for Spider. It’s fun fixing up a place and decorating it.

I think I was wrong about our new neighbor Glen. I thought he was drunk all the time, but now I don’t think so. I never smell booze on him, so I think he may be on meds of some type to account for him seeming spaced out a lot of the time, or maybe it’s just old age. I hate getting older! Anyway, Glen always speaks to us and always comes off sweet. I think he is a nice man and maybe a little lonely for company.

We spent the 4th of July over at Eva’s and Jeff’s place as usual. There were a couple dozen people there and it was a potluck so everybody brought scrumptious dishes and Jeff kept the barbecue grill going (he grilled us some stuffed mushrooms that Eva made especially for us). After it got dark, everyone gathered on Eva and Jeff’s long, long porch overlooking downtown Tucson and A Mountain, everyone kicked back and ready for the firework show over the mountain, and it was quite a dazzling show. I sat next to Margie (Eva’s half brother’s half sister) and we had a nice rapport going, sometimes making each other laugh. Spider and I also met Renee’ and Spider took to her right away, someone who seems sure of herself and doesn’t make excuses for who she is.

While we were watching the fireworks, Spider was sitting with his metal lawn chair turned backwards while he was talking to Renee’ and Spider leaned back just a little too far and fell over backwards over a three foot embankment, an embankment of jagged rocks! I grabbed out to catch him but all I caught was the chair (wow, I saved the chair)! Everyone gasped, thinking poor Spider was going to crack open his head, maybe break a bone, but by some miracle, Spider was not hurt at all. As he went over backwards, he simply rolled with it, then jumped up and took a gymnast bow!

Betty O. from Bombardier left a phone message on our machine one afternoon. She said that she was phoning just to see how Spider was doing, and let him know that if there is anything more she can do for him to let her know, and she said that not a day doesn’t go by that he doesn’t thing about him.

The night before Spider’s birthday, he was sound asleep while I was laying there tossing and turning, when suddenly Spider sat straight up and said “My father died at 62 and my brother died at 62, but I beat them. I’m 63 and I broke the family curse.” Then he laid his head down and went straight back into sleep….and the following day (Spider’s 63rd birthday) when I mentioned it to him, he couldn’t remember saying that.

Spider wanted a low-key birthday this year, so basically we unpacked some boxes, watched TV and barbecued veggie burgers. BTW, Spider was overwhelmed by all the best wishes and cheerful greetings he received via phone calls, cards, emails and on Facebook. Thank you, everyone, for making him so happy.

Last Friday morning, we drove up to Kitt Peak National Observatory with Eva and Jeff (Jeff drove and Eva brought us a great lunch) for a personal tour of the giant telescopes and their facilities by Eva’s writer friend Karen. Karen, a free spirit type, was very sweet and knowledgeable and it was interesting even though we had to do a lot of walking in the intense baking sun (I forgot to wear sunscreen and burned the hell out of my face and back of neck), and by the third tour I was a bit burned out on telescopes. All in all, it was a nice getaway with Eva and Jeff.

One morning recently Paisley Yangolovich, our music artist / preacher of the good word (and I do mean good) friend phoned from Phoenix just to check in on Spider and then, with Spider’s consent, he shared a prayer with him and Spider thought that was very sweet.

 

 

Michael and Spider - Happy Birthday
80 plays

"Happy Birthday To You" performed by Michael and Spider, 2012

Sweet Baby James (Spider) at one month old, 1951

Sweet Baby James (Spider) at one month old, 1951

Greetings

July 9th, 2014

My dearest Spiderman, you are so very kind and wise and loving and talented and I’m so blessed to have you as my partner in life. Happy Birthday, Baby. I love you with all of my heart. XOXO Michael

happy birthday spider,wishing you a day filled with love & joy.enjoy! - Jack B.

For Spider’s Birthday: To someone that has been a fighter for personal choice and living by his own ideals and instrumental in being a part of the alternative music scene all of his life…I have only the best Birthday wishes for Spider! May you continue to shine for many more years to come!  - Greg Artifix

Spider Happy Birthday you Dear Kindred Soul… Our Family is sending you Love and Happiness! God if you are Listening please perform a Miracle on Spider from this Disease because he Deserves to Live a Long Life because Spider is A Very Talented and Loved individual that has contributed immensely to the Music World… Michael really wants and needs him on this Earth Plane! Spider I have never met you but I feel like I have known you for a long time! I am sure that Michael has shared with you our past from High School Days! I love you both very much and Enjoy your Birthday with Michael and your Family and Friends.. You both are always in my thoughts and Prayers - Lynnie C.

"Spider, you are an amazing man, your music changed the world and your love with Michael is the envy of all who know you. Here’s hoping your birthday is filled with sunshine and smiles. I love you very much." – Jay L.

Happy birthday uncle!!! – Brook G.

I would love to send birthday wishes to Spider. I wish I had the opportunity to become more than acquaintances with you guys, people I love, love you both so much. I enjoyed your shows and music, it was a great time to be young! Much love always. – Kelly K.

Happy Birthday, sweet friend! I have only known you a few years but you feel like the big brother I never had. You walk me protectively to the car, worry that I arrive home safely, and even taught me guitar chords! I am so lucky to know you and happy to have you in my life! – Sally R.

Let Spider know that I send my best wishes for his 63 birthday! – Tracy R.

Happy Birthday to you Spider our generous, caring, fearless, talented, and, summing it up, awesome friend. We hope you have the happiest of birthdays! Love you, Paul and Sel

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR SWEET SPIDER!!!! I’m sending hugs & kisses your way. You are by far one of the sweetest, gentlest souls I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Your music has always been an inspiration. I know we’ve not spent much time together over the years, but I’ve always felt a strong kinship with you. I hope your birthday is filled with much love & laughter….Luv Ya! – Laura B.

In 1986 Michael and Spider came to England to visit me where I was living outside of Brighton. There was a carnival with rides set up on the beach. We went one fine day in the early afternoon through the week so we were basically the only people on the rides. We decided to go on the Tilt-A-Whirl type ride with the backs made in the form of shells. Everything started out fine, the ride was moving and “Weeeeeeeeee!” Then, the ride picked up the pace and the carneys jumped up and began to manually spin our shell faster and faster! Again it was fun for awhile, but shortly we began to feel sick. Spider yelled at the carneys to stop but they just laughed and did it FASTER!! By the time they had mercy on us, we could barely walk out of the area almost crawling to a bench to recover. I thought Spider was going to punch them on the way out, and in retrospect, I wish he would’ve! Happy Birthday, Spider!  – Terry C.

Happy Birthday Spider! Our good friend, road buddy, and Rock Warrior. You’re an awesome talent, and a damn-fine human being. It’s just amazing that the four of us have been friends for almost 40 years; where does the time go? I often think of our gig in Alaska with Midnight Flyer. You and Michael, me and Margie, and Don and John. MF were playing more or less Top 40, and yet we would encourage you jump off the planet in the middle of “Fly Robin Fly” or some other silly disco hit of the day; it was simply awesome! I also have imprinted on my brain the memory of you sawing out the top of the extremely low doorway to kitchen in the band house. One of us had hit our head on it again for about the zillionth time, and you were going to make sure it never happened again! Zzz - Zzzz - Zzz! Fun, fun, fun…… so much music, so much laughter, so many good times. We love you my friend, and treasure our history and friendship. No visit with you and Michael is ever long enough, and we’re looking forward to getting back down there. Here’s a “Blue Margarita” Happy Birthday Toast to our great friend Spider - Cheers! - Chris and Margie

Happy Birthday to a truly kind man who I have been blessed to have in my life for 42 years! My memories of you are abundant beginning with the days when we would sit around the Taylor dining room table eating Mom’s delicious beans or watching in awe as you played guitar in such a sensual way that uniquely reflected your beautiful soul. I will always cherish the day that the two of you stood by our sides at the Santa Ana Courthouse to witness our marriage even though the two of you were prohibited from doing the same in 1974! That magical day the four of us spent somewhere off Ortega Highway running free of clothes and worry will forever represent the connection we have shared since the innocence of our youth Although we are no longer innocent kids, our trip to New York this past October; exemplifies the special friendship we’ve enjoyed for decades. As Maya Angelou poignantly noted, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I thank you, my dear friend for always making me feel loved. I can only hope that I have made you feel the same XO – Cheri Z.

For Spider: Though we’ve only known each other for a few years, I feel the connection of a life time. One of my best birthday gifts ever came when you and Michael filled my wish…to have Red Wedding play my 50th…well it was just you and Michael….more special than I could have ever hoped for! I still feel the love when you backed my Leopard Sister, Rose Marston on a sultry Marilyn Monroe rendition of Happy Birthday. I am trying to make my way to Tucson to see you in a couple of weeks and give you some love in person! Dreaming of another fireside conversation with you soon! Love and Kisses, - Sandi L. F.

Wishing you a beautiful birthday filled with joy and laughter. You never cease to inspire me with your honest kindness and selfless heart. You are one of the truly good people I have been lucky enough to meet in my life and I will always have your back my friend…always. Love you sweetie. – Cindy L.

It was such a wonderful twist of fate that brought us both to Bellevue Avenue in SilverLake some 30 years ago. Our lives have changed quite a bit since then but I’m glad our friendship has endured. Happy Birthday! Love, Greg M.

Hi Sweets, here is my birthday wish to Spider: Happy Birthday, Spider!

Even though we have only seen each other a handful of times in the 35 years (!) I have known you, I consider you one of my very dearest friends. So much love to you and here’s to seeing each other another handful of times! xxxooo – Dana L.

I’m sending a message to you both to wish my dear friend Spider Jim a very happy 63rd birthday! Although I am not the best communicator, I think about you daily. I’m so glad you have found your new place that has given you, Spider, the opportunity to use your talents and skills in plumbing, construction, home repair, and all that stuff that I never was able to master. I want to believe that the busier you are the more your body ignores the cancer beast and maybe even turns it off. Jim, I know I’ve said this a million times but, you truly are my most favorite guitarist that I’ve ever had the privilege to work with, and more importantly one of the warmest, kindest men I have ever known. I’m wishing you the very best on your upcoming birthday and every day after as well., Love, Marc Z.

Happy Birthday.  You are one of the nicest people I have in a long, long time.  It has been a true honor that you came into my life as both you and Michael did.  I hope this is just another birthday to follow many, many more.  You have a special place in my heart and I would love to meet up with you both soon.  This world is certainly blessed to have you in it.  Please keep up the positive attitude that you have displayed during your ordeal.  Best Birthday wishes to you and I love you, buddy. – Linda D.

Happy Birthday Jim! When I think of growing up and the summers in Truxton I remember all those hours of sitting around listening to you play all those Venture tunes on your guitar. Love ya big guy! – John N.

Happy Birthday Spiderman, the God of Guitar! Even though we are traveling, you are never far away because you are always on our minds. We talk about you often—especially when we see firework stands. July is a Spider Month for sure! We really miss those backyard fireside/ fireworks chats and singing with you. Be sure to eat more than one slice of birthday cake, and enjoy every second of your special day – coz you’re Special! All our Love, Lisa and Nancy

My Uncle Jim, better know as Spider is the BEST! I always looked up to him, always thought he was handsome! I can still remember him in the 60s with his hair short & back & He looked good, but..when he cam back fron Berkely with his longer hair & beard, He looked like a cross of D`artadan & Jesus! Always kind to me, Family….have loved him all my life! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Enjoy this day because your SPECIAL to me!! luv you! – Robin B.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO SPIDER!!! :) – Brenda Li.

Happy happy Birthday Spider, with all my love :D – Brenda La.

Happy Birthday Spider! It’s hard to believe so much time has passed since we crossed paths in 1986 and wound up being friends. Over the years I have enjoyed your warmth, strength, good humor, kind heart and amazing guitar playing. When Ociel and I listen to your guys’ music it’s as if you’re in the room with us whenever we hear your guitar. Thank you so much for showing me how to be a gay man and a grown up. We love you! – Raymond N.

Happy Birthday Spider! Wishing you many, many more! ~ hope you are doing well too, Michael, I think of you guys so often. - Sherri

Happy Birthday dear Spider! Here’s my memory you asked us for: One of my most vivid memories of both you and Michael (your always a pair in my memories!) was when you showed up at that art installation we did and you stuffed necklaces through the hole in the wall for the girls in the band. It was the beginning of many years of unexpected kindnesses you both showed me. Here’s a pic from the beautiful day and picnic you gave me when I visited you. Love you both dearly! Xoxo – Marnie Weber

Hey Michael tell Spider I said happy birthday.. Well I will say this I’m very honerd to know such a great man like spider.. One of the best guitar players I know.. Yes I do listen to his playing style he’s got his own sound.. Well I love you both.. I’m so glad I know you.. It seems like I’ve know you guys all my life.. I always say it must have been another.. So hugs and kisses.. Andre.. Spider jr..

Spider, I knew from the second we met we were brothers. I love you and pray for you and look forward to whatever the future allows. You are a beautiful man loved by many. Thanks for including me on that special list. Love forever, Paisley

Happy Spider’s birthday my friend! —love, Spike

We came to visit you both recently, and you were wonderful hosts. Spider refused to let his cancer slow him down, preparing a wonderful BBQ and holding court at the firepit, teaching Grace and Sadie some guitar chords and singing songs. Both girls are now taking twice-weekly songwriting lessons from a local musician as a result of that visit! Happy 63rd, Spider! We love you! – David Wade-Stein

Spider, the hippie, early 1970’s

Spider, the hippie, early 1970’s

Spider and Cheri (wearing Spider’s old hippie shirt), June, 2014

Spider and Cheri (wearing Spider’s old hippie shirt), June, 2014

Paint

June 23rd, 2014

A great deal of the time, Spider seems sharp and focused, however I have noticed that there are other times when he seems somewhat lost and I think this is what is referred to as “chemo brain.” There are times when he isn’t on his game at all. It’s sort of like when you walk into a room to get something, then you can’t remember why you walked into the room. There are times when he seems foggy and spaced out, times when he can’t remember where he left his wallet or his keys or his cell phone, times when he can’t keep track of his doctor appointments or even remember what day it is and he often asks me the same questions over and over again. Then the fog seems to clear and he is back to his normal self. It may also be in part because his liver is compromised as Cindy explained to me that it can have an effect on the brain, and to be fair, he has a lot on his mind trying to fix up our new townhouse, so many projects that need to be addressed. Whether it is from the chemo pill or a combination of things, I try to be understanding and go with the flow. I’ll be honest, sometimes when he asks me the same questions over and over and over again, at first I feel a slight irritation, but then I quickly remind myself what he is dealing with. I hate to see Spider going through this and I wish that the old Spider (before the cancer) would return, but I realize that that isn’t going to happen.

After months of waiting to see an urologist about my “urgency” problem, I finally got in to see a doctor. Dr. Barmatz was very nice and she asked me some questions and checked my prostrate and everything seems to be okay (other than an ultrasound showed that my bladder doesn’t completely empty after I pee) so it’s still a mystery to me as to exactly what is wrong, however to address my problem I was given some kind of pill to take after evening meals and told to avoid caffeine, acidic and spicy foods. Maybe I can live without my morning green tea, but asking me to avoid acidic and spicy foods is asking a lot. I love tomatoes and onions and peppers. Anyway, I suppose to go back to see Dr. Barmatz in two months.

Last week Cheri Z. flew in from California to spend four days with us. She was stressed out over some domestic drama and just needed to get a way for a few days to clear her mind. Of course, we enjoyed having her here and it didn’t stop us from getting projects accomplished on the townhouse. In fact, Cheri was an asset helping us in any way she could. I was embarrassed that our house here in Oro Valley is a total mess, but I knew that Cheri understood that we are right in the middle of moving and she pitched in washing dishes and helping us move boxes. We also had time for conversations and to sort things out in her personal life. I think it was a bit of a shock for Cheri to see Spider looking so thin. After all, he’s lost a lot of weight since she last saw him (right now he is at 136 pounds) and she insisted that he needs to eat more throughout the day, but getting Spider to eat enough is always a challenge as he often has no appetite.

Spider may be looking very thin, but when he puts his arms around me, I still feel his strength, still feel safe in his arms.

Also last week, we had a major setback in regards to the painting of the inside of the townhouse. Even after the painters (brothers Chuck and Al) used two coats, the Behr paint we bought from Home Depot was not covering the old color and the walls looked horrible and were covered in streaks, and we were freaking out because the job was only suppose to take two days and now we were going to have to pay for more days work with no guarantee that the paint would cover the walls even after more coats. Chuck and Al had wanted us to use Dunn Edwards paint, but we had insisted that they use the Behr paint (which had worked beautifully for us when we painted with it ten years ago), but it just wasn’t doing the job. Chuck said that he and Al would be happy to keep on painting with the Behr if that’s what we wanted, but of course we would have to continue paying them for the extra work. It was at this point that Cheri insisted we take the paint back to Home Depot to complain about our situation and so that’s what we did. At first the salesman tried to give us the runaround, but Cheri and Spider demanded that we talk to a manager and it was the manager who admitted that Behr had recently changed their paint formula and it contained only a drop of primer (even though the paint can said it contained primer giving one the impression that it would cover up the old paint). At this point, Cheri and Spider insisted on satisfaction and so the manager phoned a Behr representative to come to our townhouse and see what was going on, and so the following day Chuck and Al along with Cheri, Spider and myself met with the rep (a very nice woman named Anna) to address the problem. After looking at the walls, Anna agreed that the paint was not doing the job and she offered to have Behr pick up the cost of the old paint as well as a better grade of paint to cover the walls. So, Chuck and Al will now have to come back tomorrow and Wednesday to finish the walls properly and we will have to pay them for the extra work, however with Behr picking up the cost of both the old and new paint that should help offset our cost.

On Friday, Spider and I drove Cheri to the airport and said goodbye. As always, I felt sad to see her go. Like I said, it was nice having her here. I just hope that her drama at home subsides. Cheri is a very loving and giving person and all I want is to see her happy.

This morning I need to go in for blood work (part of my diabetes maintenance) and rather than have Spider accompany me, I’m going to let him sleep in and go by myself. This will be the first time I’ve gone in by myself without Spider there to hold my hand (as I’m deathly afraid of needles). This is a big step for me, but I figure I need to learn to do some of these things on my own.