Monday, January 31, 2011

With a Little Bit of Luck...

I did not "Will my Cancer away".  My will power and attitude only controlled how I felt about this whole battle and whether I laughed or cried.  The "cure for cancer" is a crap shoot, a card game, playing the odds,
a mixture of voodoo ingredients, hair of the bat and a little mustard gas and other stuff.  It is like going to Los Vegas.  It is a gamble.  It is not like take this medicine and you will be better!
     I was lucky.  Lucky that I lived a mile away from a good cancer treatment center. Luck that I have really, really good insurance.  Lucky that my career path took me to steel and I was incredibly strong at the beginning of this train wreck.  Lucky for the timing of it all and I had begun my retirement. Lucky that the cure didn't kill me.
     I don't believe that I was saved by God.  In fact, I would hope that God was busy.  There are people by the thousands that are in far worse shape than I was ever in.  My prayers were limited to strength and understanding, acceptance and to be able to laugh.
    Had the numbers been different, all coming up spades, well, I was ready for that too. My life can end but never disappear.  I have kicked too many rocks over, turned too many leaves.  It is like the butterfly wings and the flap of air they move clear across the the world.  There are consequences to living.  I did my best and never willfully hurt anyone.  Lucky too that I was ever alive!
My Other Blog is HERE.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Another Thought A Year Later...

     I began blogging a year ago when I discovered I had Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  I called this blog right from the beginning, "Cancerfree" because that was my intention.  It was exactly one year ago that I began the series of ABVD chemo-cocktails, that stuff created by voodoo scientists from the leftovers of World War One mustard gas, that stuff that saved my life.  I had 12 of them, a series every two weeks and this "cure" almost killed me.  I lost 50 pounds, all my hair, of course, and every two weeks when I went for the blood work and more chemo I was a little worse.  It is not like you take medicine and slowly get better each time.  It is quite the opposite, they are trying to kill you.  A lot of you, all the cancer and a lot of good stuff along the way.  There is a lot of collateral damage.  Like doing delicate surgery with a hand grenade!
    You get to talk to the doctor, a little bit anyway.  He is more interested in the numbers, checking with his computer, analysing the blood work, seeing how much more you can take.  The doctor talks in percentages.
My cancer was pretty much everywhere, into my spine and spleen, growing, well, like cancer does, like a cancer!  My odds were 50/50.  Along the way, maybe half way through when I began to look pretty bad and felt worse than I looked, he offered to cut back on some of these chemos.  Maybe even stop the one that was beginning to do damage to my hands.  My feet were numb by then and my hands, well I couldn't pick up a dime and had trouble buttoning my shirt, the first signs of trouble to come.  I could save my hands by stopping one of the drugs.  But I couldn't help thinking, if it is killing my hands then it must be killing the cancer!  Sacrifices.  Collateral Damage.
     I was going to be "cancerfree" so I kept taking them.  It would be nice if they were to find a more reasonable cure, something made from a single malted Scotch or one of those rum fruit concoctions to be consumed on the beaches of Hawaii.
    Along the way you meet a hundred interesting people and they are all fighters, all in this same battle and all with interesting accounts on how they fought this devil.  Some put up a terrific fight and lost and I will miss them and miss their descriptive honesty.  Sometimes in death you discover what life is all about.
    There are people much worse than me and I am a little embarrassed when I complain at all.  This "cure" from cancer is practicing.  They don't have it right.  It is voodoo stuff with feathers and monkey tails, rat poison and mustard gas.  In the future this will be looked upon the same as blood letting and leeches, whispering chants and screaming the evil away.
    I am a statistic now, making that curve go to 51% maybe.  My cancer is gone, I am "cancerfree", the name on this blog, my intention from the beginning.
My Other Blog is Here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

New Gloves!

    I bought new rabbit fur lined gloves!  Off the Internet and they came in the mail yesterday.  If I had to choose between vicodin and the gloves, the gloves would win for sure.  I wear them 20 hours a day and am pretty hard on them.  Now I have an inside pair and an outside pair and I think they will last longer.  My hands hurt all the time and I just can't be touching things like I used to.  With the gloves they are soft and warm and safe, allowing me to weld, make art stuff and live.  No kind of cure I know but it is the next best thing.
My other Blog is Here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Bubble Bath!

           I do a lot of math in my business, pretty simple measurements and angles and degrees, but they are very important or the final piece won't fit.  You can go to a lot of work, sometimes weeks of cutting and welding and polishing and grinding, and then the final painting.  If it is off by an inch it becomes junk, wasted effort.  It is the very beginning of the job when I get the field measurements and initial design concepts that become most important.  When I am back at my shop I sometimes wonder about this.  Will what I am doing "fit" and be what the customer wants?
     Sometimes we do things that are counter productive to our goals.  Just as often, I think, we don't define these goals so everything we do leads us in six different directions at the same time.  We sometimes make things far more confusing than they need to be.
     I no longer have any real long term goals.  I have done just about everything and acquired far more than I could ever use personally.  I have boxes full of stuff and I don't even know what is in them.  More of anything I do not want.  Spring and my garden and starting my tomatoes from seed is far enough into the future for me.  I like to work.  I enjoy the challenge of creating something unusual and never seen before.
      My "typical" goal setting for one day usually begins in the bathtub.  I have a great six foot cast iron tub that is almost 100 years old and begin every day in a really hot bubble bath.  I start my day just appreciating the fact that I am there and enjoying it.  I think about mundane things, things to do, things to get, errands to run, what tools and supplies I will need to get a job done.  I think of the shape of what I want to build and where it will go, what it will look like when finished.  This all makes my day go pretty smoothly, it goes pretty much as I anticipated it would.  I am retired now and have the luxury that time is as I want it to be, fast or slow and just stopping so I can look around.  I am not in a hurry and it becomes most important to enjoy all the steps along the way.
 I begin all my tomatoes from seed in my greenhouse.
My Other Blog is Here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I wonder what the issue is with marijuana?  It has certainly been given a bad rap over the years but I think it probably saved my life.  Why is it that we will happily take Rat Poison (warfarin) and are thankful for chemotherapy made from left over World War I Mustard Gas and will take all kinds of other "medicines" that make us very sick and almost kill us, yet we are reluctant to try marijuana?
     It is pretty easy to get, you don't have to go through a lot of hoops and barricades to get it legally. You can find it on the streets and most of your friends will know where to get it.  I admit I was hesitant, did not want to be "stoned" nor dizzy nor "spaced out".  I went 12 days without eating. It took a lot of effort on my part and I could drink ONE Ensure a day and that was it.  I had been on Marinol for over a month, the synthetic and legal stuff with THC, the secret ingredient of marijuana.  It wasn't working and costs over $20 per pill.  A friend gave me some marijuana which I smoked and took me out to breakfast the next morning.
It worked like a charm.  Yes, it was a little weird but not as weird as Rat Poison. Not addictive like cigarettes or pain killers.
      You don't have to smoke it. You can make tea out of it or add to butter and jam or toast or even put it in cookies!  Takes about a heaping teaspoon.  The pain will go away.  You will eat.  You won't throw up.
You will probably laugh at nothing funny.  That is the one side effect, silliness and laughter!
I am in a Political mood, My Other Blog is Here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I Want to Talk About Voting...

     This is totally off the topic of Cancer but I will probably bring National Health into this discussion. The town next to mine, a little bit bigger, in considering an issue to establish a sales tax to raise money for publicly funded education.  Personally I think it is pretty stupid; I think Education mismanages the money they already receive, and I know it would just drive people to shop in my town.  We are only spitting distance apart. Part of the proposal would be to exempt "people who make under $50,000" and the others are whining that this is an unfair tax burden on those who make over $50,000.  This is not really an issue of ganging up on the rich, but I would like to make a couple points.
    The first is, all the time we vote on issues that don't affect us. The cigarette tax is one example. Most people don't smoke now (and that is a good thing, no argument there) but they vote for more tax for those who do.  We vote on Indian Casinos and we may not be Indians and we may not gamble.  We voted for
a huge Arts Center where it might cost $100 to see Elton John, something most of us could never afford. Without the voted to subsidize this art center the ticket would cost over $200.  We vote for stuff all the time that will never apply to us. Actually for me, almost every single issue is irrelevant. I almost never leave my island.  Except to vote.
     I vote on issues that appeal to me as a Citizen, a member of this Society.  I like the Idea of an educated society.  I like the idea of a society interested in the Arts. I think ultimately a society will be judged (I am not sure by whom) by how well it takes care of its elders, the lame, the sick, the downtrodden and its children.
I think public education and support for the arts is essential for a healthy society.
   Now the issue has come up that they need more money!  I admit that in the middle of this recession when most of us are cutting costs every way we can, I don't understand this.  It always seems their first choice is to punish us by laying off teachers and making the class sizes bigger.  Even I know that is stupid!  How can you ever believe that they even value education when their first move is to punish the children?  I am not sure whose interests they have at heart?
      Back to my point, let's take a huge leap of faith here and assume they really do need more money!
Or assume any government agency needs more money for whatever cause.  What is a fair way to get it?
Or another thought since we are talking about the government, What is a nonfair way to get it?  I think if you have to have more money then you have to go to where the money is. It is really that simple and I will try to explain why I think this is fair.
     I should be a Republican but I am not.  I have not worked for someone else in over 35 years. I own the company.  I am it; I am the man.  On a real small scale I am Corporate America. Over these years I had between 5 and 15 people working for me.  Most of my money went to taxes, far more than I ever made.
My most important employee was always the clean-up man.  You can build the best house in the world and if it is not a clean job site no one appreciates it.  My clean up man (sometimes a woman) was paid less than my lead carpenter but worked much harder.  Rich people do not work harder than poor people.
     Some people have jobs that pay a lot, have great retirement programs and all kinds of health benefits and other perks.  They do not work harder than my clean up man. I think it is only that my clean up man is easier to replace that he gets paid less.  It is our system of supply and demand.  In this recession people are losing their jobs, their retirements, their benefits and our "middle class" is dwindling enlarging the class below us.
We are becoming "them".  Those of us who can find work are working for less.
     2% of Americans control over 60% of the wealth.  Think about that.  In the 1960's it was normal for a CEO to make six times the wages of his average employee. Today that figure is thousands of times. It is not unusual to see bonus checks in the millions of dollars.  More power to them if they can get this but they need to know it is us who is giving it to them.  It is our society that fosters this kind of entrepreneurship. And they need to return the favor, be thankful for our system and pay more taxes.  Republicans especially have this fantasy of returning to the glory days of the 1950's without ever admitting we had a graduated income tax in those days and far less deductibles and methods to avoid taxes.
     I am not sure what a good system would be.  A good start would be to require less money, spend what you have a little wiser.  Do what we do, cut back.  And I think, although it sounds fair to me, that if we said the "first $50,000" is not taxable at all, maybe that would work?  Certainly "the rich" would not be paying on their first $50,000 also!!!  Most of us never dream of that much money, can you imagine seeing that second $50,000 or the hundredth for the really rich?
     What makes this unreasonable to me is that we all live in this society and we should all contribute to it.
I would like to see some kind of "Service to America", yes a draft, two years for your country!  It wouldn't have to be in the Military although that could count.  It could be in educations, music, parks, there are a million choices, and if you made a million a year you still have to do it!!!  The military used to be the great equalizer in our country when we had the draft.  You could be the bad ass n the streets with no skills and no talent and the military would shape you up and you would come out different.  They have pretty high standards now and won't take just everyone.  But everyone should contribute to our society.
     It seems we lost some pride in our country a long time ago and now not even those who are able want to contribute.  It is just like the school system, get rid of the teachers and punish the students.  Nothing is free, we will pay for this one way or another, I promise you that.
My Art Blog is Here

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Hands

Sometimes my hands hurt worse than other times.  They always hurt when I think about them, sort of like giving them that power to hurt.  Today I awoke at 2AM and they were throbbing as if having spent a couple hours in a cement mixer.  I can move my fingers but I can't make a fist, touching anything is like being electrocuted, but first you would have to stir a bucket full of cut glass and add salt, then you would get the idea.  If I didn't have my rabbit fur lined gloves I think I would cry.  I will order two more pairs today! They are dress gloves really and not designed to be worn 20 hours a day as I do.  I wear them for welding and just about everything.  They are soft and gentle and just prevent the over sensation on my hands.  Sometimes I feel like just sitting, holding my hands in my lap and just doing nothing.  I have tried this technique and it doesn't work for me.  In fact it is about the worst thing I can do.  When I concentrate on the pain, well, that is what I get.
     What works for me is movement, like a basketball player continuing to play while injured.  I will get up, take a bath as hot as I can stand it and go out to my studio and get lost in a project.  Soon enough my focus is on that and I will forget about my hands entirely.  It is a strange thing about my shop and work.  When at my sickest I went eight months without working.  I couldn't do it and the phone wasn't ringing anyway.  Now that I am getting stronger the phone is ringing and I have plenty of work, doing three jobs at the same time.
I am sure there is some kind of mystery there.
This is what chemo does to fingernails! 
My Other Blog is Here.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Reading the Obituaries...

I am old enough now, I am one of those people who read the Obituaries!  They are the most sad when children die.  I have found friends and neighbors there and often, far too often fellow cancer people, people who sat in the chair right next to me during chemo.  It always irritates me when it is mentioned they died
"from complications of cancer".  I know it was the cure that killed them; they died from the treatment.  It is a voodoo cure at best, like walking across hot coals to the very edge of hell.  If you survive it you are bruised and battered, scarred and crippled, shaken and stirred.  It is an odds game, higher math!  There is no reason why one would survive and one would die.  It just happens.
      I don't really think an attitude will save you.  I am a positive kind of guy and can see great value to almost everything but I don't think my attitude saved me.  It made it easier and I always looked for the funny side of it, just because there is a funny side to everything and I was pretty desperate to find it.
    There is a lot more to the story than obituaries will ever tell you.  It would take a whole book, maybe volumes to tell of this life and death struggle and I am always hunting for the honesty in it.  Was it a battle, like with sharks, that Hemingway could have described?  Was it the good fight?
    We will all get our fifteen minutes of fame, maybe just a paragraph in a newspaper, but I really want to hear all of the story.  The successes and maybe especially the failures, the junctions in the road, I am curious why they turned right or left, who they touched and who touched them along the way.
    It is hard to say goodbye and we never really do.  It might be easier if you realize that "goodbye" isn't a farewell but a shortened version of the original:  "God be with you."
My Other Blog is Here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Things To Do...

     I create "Lists of things to do" because I want a reason to get up in the morning and it is an old habit from my school teaching days.  If we didn't have a list the class would become chaotic and the kids would run amok.  You couldn't just put down three things to do either, you had to have a plan.  I found it best to also have an alternative plan.  What if everything went wrong?  This "things to do list" was to accomplish a goal, probably not much different from a coach wanting to win a basketball game.
    When I went into construction my list making skills were the key to my success.  The reality of business, if you are lucky, is that an employee will work for you about an hour in a day.  He is first working for himself to earn his wages, then the government for all the taxes involved and less than an hour a day belongs to the owner of the company.  Any fifteen minute stumble, any loss of time, any errors on the job always comes out of the bosses time.  You learn quickly to develop a lesson plan and deal with contingencies or you go out of business.
     Cancer did not stop this process in me.  In fact it become even more important.  You can't create a list that is impossible to do, that too is a recipe for failure.  Reasonable things that will off a measure of success and accomplishment are important.  At my sickest my list became smallest but it was always there, my goals for the day.  I think people require a sense of accomplishment, a reason to be, a reason to get up in the morning.  There are things to do.
Facebook Banned Me! I told that story yesterday!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Talking about strength...

         Here is the thing about "strength", and it has very little to do with muscle.  Always, forever in my memory, I have done what I said I was going to do. I have never been late for anything, never been late for work, always got my papers turned in on time, never missed a meeting.  I always get there early. I leave in plenty of time to fix a flat tire on the way: mine or someone else's.  If I say I am going to do something, the world would have to stop to prevent this from happening.  This is part of who I am.  I am this way because my word is good.  It is my greatest asset.  For you, you can count on it as the sun will surely come up tomorrow, but I count on it too.  It is important to me.
     Cancer of course limits what one can do and you learn not to make promises that you cannot keep, but it doesn't stop you from doing anything.  So, I admit, my lists become shorter, but they are still there as an obligation to myself.  If I think today only I can do three things, then I do them.  Even if I don't feel like it.
Even if it makes me miserable.  Even if it makes me sick.  and, especially, even if I don't want to.
     I make my list in the morning when I am at my best and I always make them for tomorrow when I am hoping for a better day.  Tomorrow I will weld for one hour.  Tomorrow I will paint one little painting, and tomorrow I will go out to breakfast.  I will do this no matter what and I can do this crying and miserable or I can do this happy and cheerful, but do it I will.  What happens in reality almost every single time is my one hour of welding will stretch to two or three and I will complete a project, get lost in time, forget about the pain in my hands and for awhile forget all about cancer.  Painting is quiet time, no grinding and obnoxious fumes.  My little painting can become big.  They have a life of their own and become what they need to become, happy to be out of the tube.  That hour will also stretch and I will find myself lost there too.
My Other Blog is Here. 
The breakfast is a fun treat and I have learned to be nice to myself.  It is always with friends, some have cancer and some don't and that is the one subject we never talk about.  We give it no strength.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Working Day

     I have things to do today, seems like I am always adding to the list.  Yesterday I helped a friend move some heavy machinery from one shop to another and today I will install a railing, the center section that I have finished.  In the old days, the precancer days I would build all three railing sections at once and then install them together.  I am slowing down and picking up speed at the same time.  Two months ago I could not have done this job, too weak, too tired, too sick and done in.  I can do it now even if I am cautious and do one at a time.  Part of this is strength.  These are heavy sections and I don't think I could install three in one day, so I don't even try.  The other part is a lingering fear of what if I get it wrong?  Self doubt is a horrible thing for well people.  It is what stops artists cold in their tracts and prevents cities from being built, anything from being done. It is all part of this chemical cure; it is chemo-brain.  The confusion with the cure.
     Sometimes the simplest things become more difficult and we have to write everything down, make lists of things to do.  Railings require a lot of math, angles and degrees, city codes to be aware of and design too right?  We want them to look nice and be strong.  What was second nature in figuring this all out becomes a task and all the little things that you never used to bother to write down become lost. It is so simple, like does the fork go to the right or left of the knife?  With chemo you might have to think about that a lot, maybe even draw a picture of it, write it down.  Remember the obvious. Pay your bills by the tenth and write that down too!
     Anyway, my hands hurt a lot today.  I don't have to write that down.  It is just over stimulas.  Too much touching.  I live in my rabbit fur lined gloves and don't know what I would do without them.  They are soft and protective and allow me to continue, do what I need to do.
On my other blog, HERE, I talk about my First Date!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I am not Superman!

        No, I am not superman at all.  I did beat the cancer thing but it wasn't a pleasant fight and I came so very close to losing that battle.  I have a day to day account of it on my artwanted blog. You can find it Here.
That is my whole website, you can see all of my art, my garden and what I do, but at the top, where it says:
"Blog", that is the day to day battle. You need to scroll to the bottom and read it backwards. I don't add to it much any more since discovering this blog where we can interact easier, but I keep it as a reminder of what I went through, how close I came to the very edge.
      I read a lot of "Cancer Blogs", I know there are lots of us out there.  It is a difficult battle and we choose to fight it in different ways.  In a way these blogs are a sharing of weapons, shared experiences, how to fight the alien creature that has attempted to devour us.  If you have followed my blog then you know I have a huge belief in the positive of life, love, laughter, creating things, living.  There are things to do.  I also believe,
"to think a thing makes it true."  We get what we focus on.  I have said many times, if you think you can't you won't be able to.  This is not a guarantee in the power of positive thinking, it is only saying that positive thinking will give you a direction in life, a chosen road.
     I could have gone on and on about my bad days and I did do that plenty enough.  I just think that focusing on four bad days in a row will offer you another one, and then weeks on end of bad days, until bad days become you.  You become the cancer.  I didn't want that.  When I was so weak, so fatigued, so barely
functional, so close to the very edge, I went back into my younger days and stole the strength of my youth.
I have told you many of those stories.  When I couldn't eat and lost fifty pounds to this horrible disease I concentrated on the beauty of a single rose. I thought about my garden.
     I fought with laughter.  I would seek laughter, I was a hunter of laughter.  And probably most important, I concentrated on what I could do, not what I was no longer able to do.  I could sleep.  I got really good at that, sometimes sleeping twenty hours a day!  I built cities in my sleep, all kinds of things.  I dreamt in color and learned to control my dreams.  I never dreamed of cancer.  I was safe, cancer could not enter my dreams. 
    Sometimes it was not easy finding positive things to dwell on but I always did.  I could no longer button buttons and I still can't but I could still get dressed!  I found sweaters in old boxes, some never worn ,and learned to appreciate those.  I appreciated a lot of things and would list them to myself while taking a morning bath.
     I believe we get what we focus on.  As we blog about Cancer, don't give it credit, don't give it any strength at all.  Mention the battle, sure, but continue with your successes.  Tell me how strong you are, tell me what you loved today.   My Other Blog is Here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bored with Cancer

     I am getting bored with cancer.  I don't even know how long I had it.  It was exactly, as of today, one year ago that I went to my doctor.  I had first seen "the lump" about three months earlier but chose to ignore it.  I saw it everyday when I was shaving, sort of keeping track of it, but then when I got away from the mirror, I would just forget about it, go on about my day.  There was never any pain, nothing to remind me and if I didn't see it in the mirror it wasn't in my thoughts.  My daughters and my wife kept putting pressure on me to get it looked at. Three months of this (daughters and wife, not the lump) and I finally broke down and made the appointment.  I have a really good doctor although I don't see him very often, maybe four times in my life.  Why would you go to a doctor if you were not sick?  Anyway, my fifteen minute appointment stretched to forty five minutes and I knew I was in serious trouble.  Unless you are talking about golf doctors just don't do that.  He did it all by just touching me and looking at me and talking with me. It is the forty years of doctoring.  He had seen it before.  I had Hodgkin's Lymphoma, he was certain. In the following weeks I was sent to a gallery of doctors and had a barrage of testing, biopsies and blood work,
cat scans and pet scans and God knows what, all to the same conclusion.  I had "the port" installed in my chest and my tee shirts cut for easy access for this ABVD chemical cocktail they would be giving me. Twelve of them, every two weeks for 24 weeks.  Six months that would try to dominate my life. It was pretty serious, the cancer had spread throughout me.  I saw the scans, it was everywhere.  This alien form eating me alive had spread from the lymph nodes into my spine and spleen, looking like I had been seeded with a shotgun, fool's gold in a cave.  Fifty-fifty, those were my odds.  This would have been tolerable if, once given
"the medicines", I had any sense of getting better.  Quite the opposite happens.  The ABVD cocktail is made from World War I mustard gas and it will make you very, very sick. If I were a doctor I would be making this out of fine brandies or good Scotch but they have no humor and no taste at all.  Every day you wake up and it is worse than the day before.  This goes on for six months or more and is a bit oppressive.
      There is another side to this and that is the side I chose to take.  Every day I did wake up. Think about that for a minute.  Fifty-fifty odds became an even battle, not any kind of automatic defeat.  I must have had 50% good, strong and willing cells in my body, capable of putting up a battle and willing to fight.  I concentrated on those and every day gave them thanks and encouragement, learning to appreciate their strength.  They wanted to live.  I would give this cancer no quarters, no thoughts, none of my strength, nothing.  There were days when I could barely function, didn't have the strength of a kitten.  I did tons of thinking because that is all I could do.  I couldn't read or watch T.V. without falling asleep. I went back, like watching old 8mm movies and relived my entire life, stealing the strength of my youth.  I have lived twice.
     Now I am done with it.  The cancer is officially gone!  I have yet to heal from these medieval voodoo cures, the neuropathy in my hands is pretty bad but I can't dwell on that either.  I wear my rabbit fur lined gloves (you should try them!) and do what I need to do.  One nerve cell can be four feet long!  That is pretty amazing and tells me that it will be awhile before my hands get better.  I am on the other side now and each day it is getting a little better, in small increments.  I am alive.     What I do is Here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

"The Pep Talk"

     Sometime next week the University of Oregon (Ducks!) football team (my hometown) will play some other team for the National Title.  Obviously a very important game for those who follow football.  I am not really into sports but I am curious what the coaches will be saying in the locker rooms!
    From my experience with Cancer I doubt they will talk much about the opposing team.  In a game like this you want to concentrate on your strengths, not theirs.  You would never say that we are up against the best
or they were stronger or faster, frankly I don't think you would even name them.  You would emphasize the games you have won in the past and think this is just one more.  It is your strength and speed that would be talked about.\
    I think the battle with Cancer is much the same and, for me, this battle with neuropathy and the collateral damage of chemo-therapy. Oh, I take my pills and wear my gloves like shoulder pads and listen to my voodoo coach but from that moment on it becomes my game and I do what has worked in the past.  I do my best and concentrate on my strengths.  I would never put the focus on the cancer or give it any kind of strength. That would be conceding the game before you even started.
    I am not one of the people who can simply turn all this over to God.  I find that an abdication of responsibility.  He has given me life and strengths and love and laughter, intelligence and and a million abilities.  Now is not a good time to ask for more, just, please to give me the strength to use what I have been given. I am not in training, that is all in the past and today is "game day."
    I always awaken with feet I cannot feel and hands that have been busiliy stirring cut glass all night long but I will give them no encouragement, no rally squads, no cheering, not a thought.  They are the enemy and I will give them no ground.
    I am a list maker and always do this as if it were going to be a bright sun filled day.  I concentrate on what I need to do to get through the day and what I want to do to inspire me.  These are not two lists with one maybe to be thrown away.  One list with always inspiration included. I will always put art on this list.  It could be welding or writing or cooking or my garden but always it is there, even if in tiny segments.  It is important to win this game but it is also important to enjoy it.  You never know the outcome of a hurdle, there may be another play.
    I pray for strength, to understand all this and for acceptance.  I might get hurt, some players are carried off the field but that doesn't stop them and it won't stop me.  This might not even be the final game.  I don't know the scorecard.
    To continue my football analogy, don't forget half-time and time-outs.  Never think about what your opponent is doing.  Rest and regain your strength.  Find support where you can.  It is a team effort and there is help and guidence everywhere and people are rooting for you!  We want you to win!  We want to see that banner that says "Champ".  It is a really big game and we need to win it.
My Other Blog is Here.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Hands are Working

        It is true that laughter is the best medicine but work is a close second.  My cancer is gone, no more freight trains in the middle of the night for me, but the voodoo cure left me with neuropathy in my hands and feet.  My feet are pretty tough, they have carried me well (ha ha!) over the years and I have not been particularly good to them.  I wear sandals all the time.  They are my shoe of choice and I will happily wear them in the snow, in the rain, while welding in my shop.  I have big feet, size 13D and they are not comfortable in boots.  They give me no pain now but are pretty numb, especially the bottoms.  I awake in the morning and I am not sure whether they are even there.  I begin each day by moving my toes and doing little feet exercises to get the blood moving and my feet working.
    There is no good exercise for my hands.  They always hurt.  It really does feel as though I were stirring a bucket full of cut glass with them, maybe even with electrodes in the bucket. It is like I am getting shocked all the time.  They are never comfortable but maybe tolerable when I wear my rabbit fur-lined gloves. I wear them to sleep and most of the day.  I am recognizable.  I am the welder with fur-lined gloves!
     I am working now.  I have begun this year with two jobs at the same time and my shop is full of steel.
Gates and panels and railings are all over and I am excited to see the activity, to see me doing things again.
Creating stuff.  I get lost in this work and the day flies by and I don't give my hands much thought.  Steel needs moving and welding and thought about and that is what I am doing.  I forget about my hands.
My Other Blog is Here.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Top 10

If I had one day to live and I were healthy and it was a very long day what would I want to do?

1. I would get up very early and see the darkness grow to light. I love the quiet of the very early morning when I can still see the stars. Looking to the heavens is looking back in time.

Not like looking back in time but really looking back in time. The naked eye can see millions of years ago and with the aid of Hubble telescope we can see almost to the beginning to the very place we came from! We are made of star dust and I have a certain longing when I gaze into the sky. I love the sunrise and its always promise of a new day, another chance to get it right.

2. One last day would be difficult without art. I love to see what others do and creating art

is just part of who I am. So I would be making something for sure, maybe left unfinished, maybe not even seen. Something I began and others finished would be fine and they could sign their name. I don't need the recognition, I just need to do it.

3. Literature of some kind, a book, yes, please. I can't do everything and love to read stories and adventures, dreams and loves of others. I can imagine I was there. Literature expands our sight, sharpens our aim and makes the world understandable.

4. I would finish the project, whatever I was working on. I could not help that. My word

is so very important to me. If I say I will do something you can take it to the bank. It is as good as gold, as good as I am. I will do something on time and on budget always and without fail.

5. Is it lunch time yet? I have always enjoyed food and cooking a meal, making a mess and even cleaning it up. When I had cancer I could do none of these. I lost 50 pounds and went 12 days eating nothing but jell-o and drinking Ensure. I love food, not take-out or fast food but something really cooked, really thought out and made like the art it should be. Yes, please, I will cook it myself and invite you to dinner. One last supper!

6. Or this could be a dinner party too, please stay late. One last day I would want with my friends and my new friends here. Please come too! Friends and conversations, a discussion of ideas, bashing thoughts around. These are all so important to me. And because you are friends

we will know these are just ideas, just discussions, nothing personal at all. We will all learn from this. We will express ourselves better and become better listeners. Cancer opens a million doors, people lose fear. We are afraid of nothing.

7. One last day and I would be laughing. Laughing that I wasn't born a grain of sand. How incredibly lucky I have been. My parents used contraceptives. I was not even supposed to be here! Fighting my way with 6 million other sperms to make it to that egg! I suspect that I told a joke and while they were laughing, I made it to the top. Laughter is disarming and my weapon of choice. After all this time it would be totally disconcerting to have but one day left. I am sure I would strike back with laughter.

8. I would love to help someone. I would encourage you so much that you could be the best you can be. We like to think we do but we never get to where we are going all by ourselves.

We have had help all along the way. I have a lot of favors to return.

9. It must be evening now and I would be getting tired, but just one more dance? and a kiss behind the bleachers? I like a silly side to life, the unexpected, fortuitous, just the unplanned

for and spontaneous.

10. Oh, yeah, I have a tenth one! I'll win the lottery!

Except for number 10 above this pretty much describes my average day. So I guess if I had one more day it would be like yesterday. And I've been told that you can't win at the lottery if you don't buy a ticket. Seems the odds are about the same either way!
My Other Blog is HERE.

Another Chance?

"Real life is found following a funeral." Death is always a cause for reflection. There is a finality

about being buried in the cold damp Earth that causes us to think about a lost loved one and about our own sense of mortality. We will get there too. Truly we have no idea of what that will be. We can't imagine fluffy clouds and harps and Heaven. Or it could be just like before you were born, or maybe there will be a party? As we get older a lot of our friends are on this other side!

If you could do it all over again, one more chance to get it right, would you? If you had this opportunity would you do it differently? You could make this an even simpler question. What would you do if given just one more day? Not one more day in some kind of illness to say farewells but a day in total health where you could do anything you wanted to?

I am betting, no matter how long your list, nothing will have anything to do with wealth or acquiring more "stuff". I am betting that if you could live your entire life over again a bigger house wouldn't even be on the list.

A person could begin this list by thinking of what you would miss most, think about what you might be willing to give up. What is really valuable to you. What would you like to see or do or be again? Where do you find enjoyment and laughter, surprise, wonderment, love, meaning?

Cancer will do this to you, especially if you survive it. You reflect about a lot of things. Today becomes very important. Not in order because I haven't figured that out yet, but tomorrow I will tell you my "top ten". Funny thing is, if I were a millionaire, none of these cost money! or at least not very much. Maybe you can take it with you! My Other Blog is Here.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Finding Purpose

I have mentioned on my Other Blog what my New Year Resolution might be, what I might blog about this year. In a round about way I am after the discussion, at least with myself, but I hope you join me, about perfection and knowing what you want out of life. When is enough, enough? and what to do when our own goals clash with what we want? These are not necessarily belief systems, nothing that deep. Just observations, what I see along the way. We can laugh along the way, especially if we get frightened, get lost, take a wrong turn somewhere. The key to all this will be to not take it all too seriously. What is at stake of course is our life and the very planet we live on. We are seven BILLION strong and eating up our resources like ameba's in a

primeval soup! God has given us everything and we just want more! We act as though the ticket to Heaven is tallied on a bank sheet and the path to Happiness is strewn with used appliances and, well, Things!
Time is related to this. We are always in a hurry. Time itself has become a "thing," an empty space to be filled up. Even on a vacation we set up an itinerary, must be here, must be there.
We can buy time and waste time and we use it quickly, hurrying to the end. What we don't have in our vocabulary is "relax time". I mean to enjoy doing nothing. To just take a deep breath and allow everything to be. If we could find five minutes for this we would get right back to business,
thinking deep in our hearts that we have "wasted time". This is in our DNA too. We somehow feel there is a purpose to all this and we must work hard to discover what it is. It is irony taken to the extreme. What if our purpose is simply appreciation?

Bigger - Better?

What would we do without it? and what is the true cost of acquiring this "stuff"? What is the emptiness inside that we are trying to fill? You can't take it with you. Why is this all so important? It is an addiction, an identity thing and it is slavery. Let's investigate who we really are.
In the United States and other areas of the world (don't think you are immune to this) we are still suffering from the beliefs of our Puritanical background. There is a problem to the belief that
God is Omnipotent, an all knowing God who knows the future. It leads to the idea of Predestination, that it is decided before birth if you will go to Heaven or Hell. It determines Real-estate prices. The house on the hill is closer to God. So with this idea we think there should be a sign, some kind of signal. Clearly if some of us are going to Heaven and others are not, He would let us know. We believe He does. We believe he bestows wonderful "things" to us,
and deep inside of us we believe that people with more "stuff", bigger houses, newer cars, more space are happier and more successful, closer, if you will. This is the base of our consumerism.
It is a belief that is fed by Industry and the driving force behind economic development all over the world. Oh, they are smarter than to say "buy this and you will go to Heaven" but they are always saying, "buy this and it will make you happy" and it should. We will have it and they won't and everyone will know that we are one of the lucky ones!
It is all a bunch of crap of course, yet we don't gush and awe over a rose or a poem like we might over a new car! It is an addiction and we can't get away from it. We don't teach poetry any more in school, nor drama, not much literature or art. We want wealth. We want a job. We want to know that we will be happy and we want to know that we are marked. We define success by wealth. More is a good thing. Everybody wants this. The richer you are the more you buy, the more taxes you pay, always getting closer in a predetermined kind of way.
For those of us that want all of this yet fall short in some way, we have credit cards. You may charge your way into Heaven and happiness. Something HORRIBLE happened between 1970 and now and as a builder I am partly to blame. We got tired of waiting. If wealth was this key to happiness (and we have been told that for three Centuries it was) then we wanted it now. We could charge our way to happiness and throw open the Gates to Heaven to all of us. The simple life of our parents, the little 1,000 square feet homes we grew up in, were not enough. New housing would be at least 2,000 square feet and if you were really successful, twice that! A mortgage went from 25% of one paycheck to 40% of TWO paychecks! but we did it. We made Heaven on Earth! "Like Earth as it is in Heaven"! Well, I hope not. We have created Hell here.
We have lost Time entirely. Our clock is divided into working and sleeping and allocated itself like a commodity. Tomorrow, if you are interested, I give you my thoughts about time.
My Other Blog is Here

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Trip to the Dump

I have spent a good portion of my life at the local dump. At least once a week and sometimes

three times in one day I have been to the landfill with my truck full of construction debris, the broken eggs to make omelette's thing that is all part of the construction process. Most of my life has been in construction, making your homes bigger to secure your "things". I have built family rooms to houses where the family is gone, added that third bathroom to houses with only two people, and built huge kitchens for people who cannot cook.

If I were in charge of education I would require my students to spend a day at the dump. We

are not a materialistic society. We find little value in "things", yet we acquire them profusely and throw them away with the trash. We want next week's model, bigger, better, shinier. You will toss them at the drop of a hat, expect to replace them within a year, and you hire me to put locks on your door so no one steals them. Make your house bigger so you can have more.

Everything is at the dump. That is where it ends up. Sometimes recycling now, that is popular as the dumps get filled to capacity. Recycled back to China where it is reground and reshaped into more stuff. That is the life cycle.

It is an addiction, you know. It doesn't end, trying to fill this empty space we have.

If you are interested I will continue this thought tomorrow. I have built over a million square feet of empty space to be filled with "things" and it doesn't work.