Spider, Jeff, Robbie and Mark at Jeff Beck / ZZ Top concert, August, 2014
August 18th, 2014
Last Wednesday, Spider had another MRI. He said that he was in the tube for a long 55 minutes, a long time to have to lie perfectly still. I guess they really want an accurate picture as to what is going on with his liver, to see exactly what affect the radioactive isotopes (inserted last March) and the half dose of the chemo pill he has been on for the past several months have had. Tomorrow, Spider meets with both Dr. Patel and Dr. Devis to go over the results. Based on Spider’s physical condition (his energy and stamina) and his positive attitude, I have to believe that the news is going to be good. The hope is that these treatments have stopped the growth of his tumors. Even better would be if the treatments have put him in remission.
It’s so nice to be all settled into our townhouse. You know, we really took a chance making the move to begin with. That is, what if Spider got sick and / or had a setback right in the middle of our move? That could have been a nightmare. Fortunately that did not happen, and my hope now is that Spider and I will have a long time to enjoy our lives here.
On Wednesday evening, Ryan H. came over for dinner and to hang out with us. Out of all the Rollin’ Lolas (Spider’s Motown band), only Ryan has kept in touch and sent texts to check in on Spider. Haven’t heart a word from Ian and Mandy and Todd. Guess that shows how much they cared. Anyway, we had a nice time with Ryan. Before dinner, Spider and Ryan jammed on their guitars for a couple of hours, playing some beautiful psychedelic passages while Frappy and I kicked back on the couch and enjoyed the music. Although Ryan is on a younger playing level than Spider, he is very spontaneous and inventive and he and Spider play well together. In fact, we talked about the three of us possibly working together on a music project, a mix of ambient and psychedelic tracks. That would be cool. I just have to get my head in the right place.
The other day, Spider and I went shopping at Albertson’s market, and we couldn’t help but notice how different the shoppers were. Back in Oro Valley, everyone was middle and upper middle class white people and rarely did we see people of color, but now we live in a community that is much more diverse. Shopping at Albertson’s and seeing all kinds of people (white, black, Latino, Asian, people from all walks of life) made us feel like we were back to living in the real world. It was a good feeling. I also like the fact that we now live so close to everything Tucson has to offer, stores and restaurants and nightlife, plus most of our friends now live only minutes away. I never realized how isolated we were up in Oro Valley until now.
Renne’ got back from a trip to Iowa and brought us back some fresh corn, but unfortunately Spider read her text and forgot, not telling me about this until days later. I feel bad and I hope Renne’ understands that Spider has chemo brain and sometimes forgets things like this. He is embarrassed that he forgot, but he can’t help it. He just has so much on his plate right now and, like I said, because of the chemo, he is not always on top of things like he once was. By the way, when we were at Renee’s house to pick up banana bread a couple of weeks ago, we got to see some of her art. Renee’ is a basket weaver although she weaves much more than just baskets, all sorts of things. Her work was quite beautiful.
On Saturday evening, Cindy came over for dinner. Cindy was the first person to see our townhouse before we started to work on it and this was the first time she had seen it since it was all put together and decorated. She said she loved it, loved what we had done. That made me feel good as her opinion was important to me. Cindy brought over her class assignment drawings so we could see them for the first time, and both Spider and I were blown away by her drawing skills and creativity. Really and truly, Cindy is talented enough to put her work in galleries, something she is working towards. All of her class assignment drawings were wonderful, but one drawing really stood out, a drawing of her cat Obie. It was awesome. I mean, she totally captured Obie right down to his whiskers!
Last evening Spider went to see a Jeff Beck and ZZ Top concert along with Jeff G., Jeff’s son Robbie and Mark S. (one of Spider’s former co-workers). I didn’t want to go because I get nervous at concerts (too many people) and so I went over to Cindy’s house and hung out and watched Big Brother. Spider said the concert was great and he really had a fun time. He enjoyed ZZ Top, but the big thrill was getting to see Jeff Beck, a guitarist that influenced Spider back when he was a kid.
This late afternoon, Marc and Cheri are arriving for a visit (and their youngest daughter Kirby will be joining us later as well). Cheri told me that she recently wrote to Spider’s sister Diane trying to bring Spider and Diane back together. She said that Diane wrote back and said that the problem between us stems from the fact that I have no boundaries when it comes to writing my blog and that I’ve hurt “countless” family members based on what I have written. That is bullshit. First of all, I haven’t written about most of Spider’s family ever and when I have mentioned any of them (like when Summer and Brenton came to visit us recently) it has always been warm and fuzzy. True, I did write that Spider confided in me that he was hurt in that he felt that no one in his family has ever acknowledged his achievements in music in a meaningful way and I also wrote that I was a little hurt that we were asked to return some family paintings (like I couldn’t be trusted to do the right thing after Spider has passed away especially when I told Diane that I was going to do that months ago), but neither of this things were that big of a deal or damning in my opinion. And Diane did not bother to mention that I wrote to her with an olive branch to which she never responded. So, Diane can make me out to be a villain, but I’m not buying it. Spider says his sister is just being a big drama queen and is stirring the shit, and Cheri wrote back to her reminding her that her brother is dying and she should be there for him, that it is all about unconditional love. However, knowing Diane like I do, I think she will carry this on until it’s too late, too late to be there for her brother and that is sad to me.
August 12th, 2014
The comedian and actor Robin Williams took his own life yesterday due to depression. It’s strange and sad that Robin was 63 and no longer wanted to live and here Spider is 63 and is fighting to stay alive. I understand depression. It’s something I have struggled with all my live. Thank god I have a wonderful therapist (Beth) and am on the right meds, plus I have a wonderful partner and wonderful friends. Yes, I do know what that dark place is like, but I also realize how precious and beautiful life can be.
Forgot when I mentioned receiving the house warming card from my parents that there was a smaller card inside containing words my mother had read and liked and she had my father print up a bunch of them to pass along to friends. The card read:
This is the beginning of a new day to use as you will. You can waste it or use it for good. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever. In its place is something that you have left behind. Let it be something good.
Life is good in the here and now. In the beginning, when we were first told about the cancer, from what I read and based on what some of the doctors were saying, we figured that Spider might only have six months to live, but he is now going into his ninth month and he seems to be doing pretty damn good. I don’t know how long that Spider and I have together, and we try not to think about that, rather we are living each day like it’s a gift. It’s like Spider is retired now and we can live by our own hours and do whatever we want, mostly just relax and enjoy life (watch TV, listen to records, take Frappy for a walk in the desert, go for a swim, fix great meals, etc.). I know that one day I will look back and realize how special this time we have together truly is. Okay, to be completely honest, we are only human and we still have our times when we get bitchy with each other but that isn’t very often and it’s always over minor bullshit. Most of the time we are like best friends, best pals, two guys who see almost everything the same.
We are mostly settled into the townhouse. Still have a few little projects to do around the house, such as we need to cement in an exposed board that runs along the bottom of the house in the back to prevent termites and we need to refinish a couple of kitchen cabinets, those sort of things. My mother and friends have been asking for some photos of the inside of the house and those are coming. In fact, I tried to talk Robert S. into taking some pictures for me the other day, but he’s being a little squirrely about it. I have a feeling getting him to take photos for me is going to be like pulling teeth, so I’ll probably end up taking them myself.
Originally when we started the move, Spider told me that he was only going to bring over a few tools, just the basics, just the necessities like a hammer and some screwdrivers and a few other things that I would need to maintain the townhouse, but that isn’t the case. Spider has now built himself a work bench equipped with every tool one could want and our storage closet is also filled with his man cave stuff! Spider also insisted that we bring over all of our instruments and recording equipment because he says he wants us to work on new music. The truth is, I don’t know if we are ever going to work on new music again, don’t know if we have the time and if my head is in the right creative space, but Spider is ready to go!
This being the desert, of course, it’s hotter than a oven on high right now and the monsoons which are spectacular to witness and bring much needed rain also bring with them high humidity, so there are days when it’s pretty miserable to be outdoors. This afternoon as Spider and I were driving up to our old place to pick up mail just after a monsoon, we had to drive through eight or more running washes, flooded washes which can be scary cause you never know when a big gush of water could come up and send your car floating down stream! It happens often around here.
One thing about our summer rains is how green the desert becomes. The trees and ocotillos are all super green and the barrel cactus and the Mexican Bird of Paradise and the Texas Rangers are all in bloom. Yes, it’s hotter than hell, but the desert is very beautiful right now. People tend to think of the desert as being all dry and brown (sagebrush and tumbleweeds), but not the Sonoran Desert. It’s one of the greenest deserts in the world.
August 8th, 2014
Okay, so we cashed in one of Spider’s life insurance policies in early and that allowed us to pay off all of Spider’s current doctor bills, pay off the car and buy a fixer-upper townhouse, and after fixing up the townhouse and setting aside enough money for a new air conditioning system, we are now at the bottom of that well. I must admit it was nice while it lasted, paying off bills and fixing up our new place, but now it’s time for us to go on a budget (based on Spider’s retirement and disability checks) and that’s more than okay. We are all settled in and ready to live a modest and relaxing life. Again, we both want to thank all the friends who helped us a few months ago when things were really tight and scary, and I just want you all to know that we will be fine from here on out.
Of course, before we can relax in our new place, we still need to tidy up our old house and get it ready to sell, and the first thing we need to do is sell off all of the stuff that we could not find a place for in the townhouse. Think we will be having an estate sale the second weekend of September, so if you’re in the area, please come by and buy some of our furniture and lamps and paintings and vintage collectibles. We have some really, really cool things just waiting for new homes!
Neighbors John B. and wife Martha have been so good to us, lending us their truck for our move multiple times and always giving us food (tortillas and salsa and vegetables from their garden). John also fixed our vintage wagon train clock for us (we thought the old motor had burned out, but John got it back to running). Other friends have been good to us too, like Eva sending over homemade tamales and Renee’ baking us banana bread and more cookies. And everyone continues to send their love and support via emails and on Facebook. It all means so much to us.
This is the first time ever that Spider and I have a walk-in shower and it’s so nice to walk into this nice, big shower stall and stand under the water. Last night when Spider went in to take a shower, I surprised him by walking in and joining him. We washed each other’s backs and just stood and hugged under the warm showerhead. It wasn’t sexual. It was just pure love, a couple of old, naked soulmates holding each other in the shower. As I’ve said, we’re trying to live in the moment, trying to make every moment count.
The other day I received an email from a Los Angeles performer named Brad Colerick. Brad has a new CD coming out and asked if he could use one of my photographs that he came across online (a photo I took of a neon cactus sign) for the front cover. Of course, I gave him my permission, then I did an online search on Brad and I came across a beautiful video on YouTube of one of his songs titled “Time Away.” It was a beautiful video, beautiful song and Brad has a beautiful voice. He told me that he wrote the song for his wife. Very romantic. Check it out!
Speaking of photographs, I asked Robert S. if I could use one of his photographs as the wallpaper on my cell phone and he said yes. It’s a really cool pic of an electrical tower shot from below (and it almost looks like a spider’s web). I’m a huge fan of Robert’s work. He really has an eye for photography but sadly he doesn’t use it very often anymore. This drives me crazy as his work is so awesome, but he says that he doesn’t see the point in it. Yes, it makes me crazy and sad when a true artist doesn’t practice their craft. When you are given a gift, you should use it! Do you hear me, Robert? I’m gonna keep bitching at you until you get back to taking more photographs!!!
Cindy is taking a drawing class at the local college, to challenge herself in the way she approaches her craft. Although we have been friends with Cindy for 14 years and I knew that she was an arts major back in the day, it wasn’t until she took a drawing class last year that I got to see some of her talent with a pencil and I was so impressed. In fact I posted one of her class assignment drawings which really impressed me from last year on Facebook because I wanted everyone to see what I saw, but Cindy was displeased with me because she felt the drawing was not artistically worthy enough to be shared. I disagree. It was an awesome drawing, but I promised Cindy that I wouldn’t share any more of her class assignments online. Come to think of it, Cindy hasn’t shared any of her drawings from this year’s class with me, so I guess she doesn’t trust me! Hell, she’s right in not trusting me! I could be tempted to do it again!
July 31st, 2014
We’ll Spider and I are nearly all settled in to our new townhouse. We still have a few boxes of stuff to organize and put away as well as a few projects to complete, but for the most part, it feels like home and we are happy. Now we have to turn our attention to the house in Oro Valley, to clean it up and get it for sale on the market.
Our new townhome is all electric which means I’m having to learn to cook on an electric range and I hate it. The other evening I was making homemade cranberry sauce and I swear I turned around for a minute and the damn thing overflowed and the mixture stuck to the glass burner and started smoking and all I could do is just stand there.
One nice thing is that we have a large pool (and Jacuzzi) in our complex, something that Spider loves. Almost every evening he walks over to the pool for a dip. I’ve been swimming with him once (one night when no one else was there as I’m self-conscious about my body). Yesterday, Mark R. brought over little Tommy and Abby for a swim and Spider totally got off on the fact that we can invite friends over to use our pool.
George Lynch (of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame) sent Spider an email recently. He said:
Hey jimbo. Haven’t talked in a while …Wanted to check in and hope your doing better….still haven’t had the opportunity to take family out for that s/w trip. Too busy. Hopefully this year. – George
George has talked about taking his family out on a Southwest road trip and paying us a visit. That would be nice.
Last night, sort of out of the blue, Spider said to me “I’m so anxious to get my next MRI and to talk to Dr. Patel and Dr. Devis about my liver. I want to know if the isotopes and chemo pill have helped me or not.” I replied “Honey, I think you are gonna get great news. I mean, you’re not sick, you don’t have jaundice and you have no pain in your abdomen. I think that’s a good sign.” Spider said “But what if it’s bad news? What if it is bad news and the say there is nothing more that can be done? What am I gonna do?”
My parents sent a beautiful house-warming greeting card and inside there was a generous gift check. This meant so much to both Spider and me. Thank you, Mom and Dad!
Shortly after our friend Clare G. passed away, her sister and brother-in-law sent us several things including a few pieces of Clare’s favorite jewelry and a small container (about the size of a prescription bottle) filled with some of her ashes. For a long, long time, I have held on to those ashes trying to decide where they should be scattered (some place scenic and spiritual), but I could never make up my mind. In our conversations, Clare would sometimes tell me that she wanted to move here to Tucson to be near us and to start a new life (she even looked at photos of Tucson apartments online and had one picked out), but it was not to be. Anyway, a few days ago I was sitting in the Arizona room (a screened in room) of our new place and I was looking at the top of a green Palo Verde tree that is growing just over the wall in an open area directly behind our townhouse. It had just finished raining and the water drops on the tree braches were glistening under the sun and the treetop was filled with happy desert birds, and that’s when it came to me. So, the following day just before dusk when everything was painted a tawny gold, Spider and I stepped out behind our townhouse and I spread all of Clare’s ashes around the tree base. Now a part of Clare will be forever in Tucson and forever close to us. Now whenever I look at that tree, I will think of her. We miss you and we love you, dearest Clare.