The Living Without Series

This is a series of posts that I wrote back in 2006 on living with less stuff. Check them out: liv011Living #2liv031liv04

Coal Creek Farm on Facebook

The Chicken Doctor


The Architect


It Makes Life More Beautiful

What kind of blogger tells you her husband has cancer and then disappears for over a month?  Yeah, that’s me.  It took me 30 minutes just to log into this blog because my brain is so fried, but not quite as fried as Clay is from radiation.  Oh, lord that was a horrible joke.  Who laughs about cancer?  Yeah, that would be us.  Don’t worry, we’ve cried a lot too.  If we aren’t laughing or crying about it then we’re just staring into space, those are really the only options at this point.

The mobile PET/CT scanner Clay spent 45 minutes with his arms above his head.  He tells a funny story of having two giant carps flapping from his shoulders.

The mobile PET/CT scanner Clay spent 45 minutes with his arms above his head. He tells a funny story of having two giant carps flapping from his shoulders.

I don’t know where the summer has gone.  I felt bad that I wasn’t able to take my kids to the lake or to a swimming pool or on any little vacation.  Instead, we went to the hospital everyday.  Some days we went to doctor’s appointments after we went to the hospital and some days we came home and went right to bed or flopped on the couch and coped with the after effects of chemotherapy, radiation and the constant concern of what ugly effect might crop up next for Clay.

The fanciest Chemotherapy chair that Clay never got to use.

The fanciest Chemotherapy chair that Clay never got to use.

Clay has finished treatment.  The recovery hasn’t quite started, but we haven’t seen or spoken to a doctor for four entire days and that seems like the best vacation ever.


One thing that I’ve found strange during the past few months is that not much upsets me.  I don’t know if I will continue to have this strange numbness, but I imagine that my view on a lot of things will be quite different for a long time.  Stuff just doesn’t matter to me, and by stuff I mean just about everything.

I called this our synchronized waiting room routine.  We got really good at it.

I called this our synchronized waiting room routine. We got really good at it.

I think we were four weeks into chemotherapy when we got a phone call from Ellen as we drove to the hospital.  She had been in a wreck, it was bad, she wasn’t hurt, could we get there.  Turns out she was on our way, so we were able to get to her quickly.  A man driving a truck had run a red light and t-boned her.  Luckily, she was driving our truck and it took the impact well, both trucks collided with three other vehicles that were sitting across the intersection at the red light.  Our truck was a total loss. Clay left me with Ellen and he went on to the hospital to have his radiation treatment. The whole time all I could think of was CLAY, YOU NEED TO GET OUT OF THE SUN!!!  I never got upset about the wreck or losing a vehicle, it was just so minor.  Nobody was hurt beyond scrapes and sore muscles and that was the main concern. We still don’t have another truck, but we will.  Insurance has paid for all the damages, Ellen’s minor injuries, time off work, blah, blah, blah.  I do wish they would just deliver another vehicle to my door, that would be mighty convenient, but at least looking for a truck gives Clay a little something to do.  Although, twice now we have driven out of town to look at trucks only to come back home empty handed because he doesn’t have enough strength to be out for more than a few hours.  Even that doesn’t irritate me.  Seriously, it’s like I’ve been dipped in Novocaine.

Ole' Red is Dead.

Ole’ Red is Dead.

I’ve continued to train for the half-marathon.  I know running has helped me cope.  There have been times when I’m done running and if I’m by myself I will take a few minutes to cry because that’s when I don’t have anymore energy to keep my chin up.

Our family has been well-loved over the last couple of months.  People have dropped off meals, taken care of my kids, delivered gifts and sent cards.  My sweet mom has come over the past few weeks and cleaned my house, she is exhausted when she’s done.  It’s been so lovely to get to see her every week and scrub my house with her as she bosses me around like I’m still a teenager and the crazy thing is that I totally listen to her and then I don’t want her to leave.  She’s the only person that folds my laundry correctly and knows what needs to be done without me having to say anything.

One of our pastors dropped in during chemo and prayed with Clay.  The blanket was made by one of Ellen's friends because Clay would get so cold when the fluids entered his body.

One of our pastors dropped in during chemo and prayed with Clay. The blanket was made by one of Ellen’s friends because Clay would get so cold when the fluids entered his body.

I know I’m going to forget to thank people and that is just now starting to concern me.  Time has been such a strange thing.  Clay was only in treatments for seven weeks, but it felt like years.  I can only remember one date and that’s the date of his first doctor’s appointment.  I’ll never forget how our doctor was not in any way going to let us think that what Clay had was just some silly swollen gland.  I’ve never seen her so serious and to the point and from the second she examined him life turned into a sprint.  Clay went down the hall to get blood drawn and I was on the phone with the insurance company making sure they would cover PET and CT scans.  Before we left the office we had two more appointments with other doctors and our heads were spinning because we had no name to give his lump except…it’s a lump, please don’t let it be cancer.

I have to stop here.  I didn’t think this would be so hard to write, but I’m struggling to get through this.

I don’t want to down play anyone else out there that is battling a life threatening disease.  Right now Clay’s cancer is not terminal and chances are he will beat his cancer and never see it again, I wish all cancers were like that.  My heart goes out to all of you that have battled a disease or taken care of a loved one while they have suffered.  It does make us better, it makes life more beautiful.

They Played Aunt a re-run

Tomorrow I’m spending the day with two friends. One friend I haven’t seen for 22 years. I was searching to see if I had ever written a story about this old friend, and I found this post from 2009.  I’m re-posting it because it made me smile. My sister will hopefully be meeting up with all of us sometime tomorrow too. I can hardly wait. Let the laughter begin now!

When we were little we played ‘Aunt’.  Sometimes we were both the moms and hauled our babies around with us in giant purses that we had swiped from our mother.  Rechelle always had Tiny Tears, which was a rubber baby-doll that cried real tears when you fed her a bottle of water and squeezed her tummy.  I had Winnie the Pooh and Danny.  Winnie the Pooh was made for me by my babysitter, Mrs. Reid.  I loved him until he was a flat piece of matted fur fabric and then I still loved him.  Danny was a big doll with a cloth stuffed body and rubber arms and legs, he had black cropped hair, sometimes Danny became Kimmy.


Kimmy was the little girl that one of us would play while the other one was the mom.

So, let’s review:  We played ‘Aunt’; sometimes we were both moms and sometimes one of us was the mom and one of us was Kimmy.  We also had Tiny Tears and Winnie the Pooh and Danny/Kimmy the big doll.  Got it?


The Aunts were chain smokers.  They would smoke on a drinking straw while yelling at Kimmy.  They would smoke on an invisible cigarette while talking about which party they should attend.  Occasionally, they would enjoy a candy cigarette and then, well, then they talked about how much they loved to smoke and how good that cigarette tasted.


The aunts loved their big vinyl purses.  They were huge and lined with dark blue bandanna fabric.  When Kimmy was being a pain in the ass, which was nearly always, her mom would start swinging the giant vinyl purse at her and most of the time Tiny Tears was in that giant purse getting whipped around adding to the pummeling Kimmy was getting on her back side.  This caused Kimmy to fall down in fits of hysterical laughter.  Also, you should know that Tiny Tears, being a newborn baby, could talk and pummel people.  She was quite amazing and spent most of her time yelling at Winnie the Pooh.


Sometimes the aunts would have a falling out and not speak to each other for six whole minutes.  Usually, their falling outs had to do with someone not getting to play the role of Aunt or Kimmy or more often, Tiny Tears was being too mean.  Tiny Tears was a very bitter baby.


One of the sisters would eventually get tired of being pissed off and come up with a way to entice the other sister to resume playing ‘Aunt’.  This usually involved great feats of silliness that the mad sister couldn’t resist.


Then like a magical spell had been cast, the sisters were back in their imaginary rolls of Aunt and Kimmy or Aunt and Aunt.


Let’s play ‘Aunt’.  I’ll be Kimmy.


No.  Let’s both be aunts.  Wanna smoke?


The aunts had a very busy social calendar.  They were constantly being asked to parties and often those parties required them to perform some sort of dance number and sing a song.  The aunts would dig through their mother’s closet and find her highest heels and most luxurious polyester party dresses and adorn themselves with costume jewelry and holler at the kids to get in their big purses, because they were going to Grandma’s house.


The aunts would drop off Tiny Tears, Winnie the Pooh and Danny/Kimmy at Grandma Martha’s house, which most of the time meant they would be stashing them under their Mom’s desk at their father’s business.


Then the aunts would run off to practice their performance for the evening’s big gala.


They always incorporated lots of difficult tricks that only the aunts were able to do and the whole world was amazed by their abilities.

DSC_0572They’d write a few songs and choreograph the steps.

DSC_0550Of course each of them had to have a solo.

DSC_0645-2After the party had died down and they had sung their last song and danced their last dance and smoked their last cigarette they’d head back to Grandma Martha’s office where they would ask if she had any money so they could run across the street to Taco Grande and buy a sancho for themselves and some cinnamon-sugar tortilla crisps for Tiny Tears, Winnie the Pooh and Danny/Kimmy.

Grandma Martha would hand them some cash while cradling Tiny Tears and say, “Yes and get me a Pepsi and a sancho with extra hot sauce.”

photos by All Astonishment

On their way to the hospital….

“Mary, just get in the car.  It’s not like your going to give birth in the barn.”