20 and 14




SO.   My birthday passed without event.  Then, Special Ed’s and the coinciding darkest day of the year.  Big Sam’s birthday (may he rest peacefully) and the coinciding coming of the new year!  All without event.  That is to say, I’m still here!

Just before christmas we had a nice visit from our good friend Todd (which included a viewing of quicksilver..  aahhhhh..   too good).  We had a very nice christmas.  Brother Zach rolled through with nephew Gunnar.  We ate some beautiful racks of lamb.  The day after christmas, Matt arrived.  Ever steady Matt.  Poor guy is going to go broke if I don’t die soon!!  These flights from Japan MUST be adding up!  He has been a great sport.  Just helping me out in the shop.  Helping with grocery shopping.. cooking.. you name it.

I finished up the stools and a batch of wooden crates for Hill.  Just a whole mess of cedar crates for her to use as modular furniture around the house.. bed side tables, book shelves, stools, whatever.

The next little project that I’m gearing up for is making frames for photographs.  I’ve been going back through all my old negatives looking to see what I missed.  Looking to find those photos that, for whatever reason, didn’t catch my eye then, but maybe do now!  Looking for treasure.  Also just archiving – making good scans of the photos I know I like and storing them away on drives with some redundancy.  In this process, though, I’m trying to identify those images that I think really deserve to be printed.  Because of questions of resolution, and of the way the eye perceives reflected light versus projected light, photographs simply look different in print.  The quality of ink jet printing has gotten to a point that makes it possible to have a GREAT deal of control at home without a dark room and to produce images that are truly stunning.  I really love this analog to digital process.  Shooting on film, developing at home, scanning to digital, and then digitally printing, after magically getting rid of whatever dust you might like to, and making whatever other adjustments to the contrast and color balance feel necessary.

But then what!?  Then you’ve got a print on a piece of paper and you do what with it?  Put it on the fridge with a magnet, I guess?

I’ve decided to try to go a step farther.  I’ve decided to pick out individual photos that I’ve taken that I’m proud of and actually give some thought to how I think they’d best be displayed.  Then make an appropriate frame, and mat if a mat is called for, and complete a few pieces!  Maybe just to be scattered around among family members, or shoved in boxes and stored safely in the basement where maybe gunnar will discover them in 15 or 20 years.  Who knows.  But.  I’ve got the urge to do it.

Naturally with me, however, nothing is ever all that simple, and the gears begin to turn and before you know it I’m placing orders for bars of aluminum and brass and bits of threaded rod, and tooling, because if you’re going to make some frames, you should probably re-invent the wheel entirely and come up with a universal fixture for putting them together, that in its own right will be a beautiful object, and take up whole lot of your time and creative energy.


Sadly there is a wrinkle.  Starting sometime a little bit before my birthday, I began to notice that my left pinky and ring finger were a little tingly and numb.

“shit”  I cataloged it.  The next time that Dr. Dana asked me if I had developed any numbness or tingling I’d have to report that, why yes!, I did have some.

Over the course of a few weeks the numbness got worse. This is to say that it got more intense and covered a bigger area of my hand and lower arm.  I also began to loose a little strength in the hand.   I first noticed when I was unable to hold a piece of sand paper onto a sanding block (that pinky and ring finger simply unwilling to comply)..  and then was unable to squeeze tooth paste..   unable to turn the key to open the front door.     Last night I was unable to clip my finger nails, and was nearly unable to zip up my own shirt.

Along with this numbness and loss in use has come, you guessed it!, a great deal of pain.  Starting from the back of the elbow/base of the triceps, the pain radiates up the back of the arm, around the shoulder and under the scapula to the spine.

Now.  I have well documented herniated disks at just the right level to be causing this.  I also have a PT from VT who comes to visit me on weekends that he’s able, and he gave me a solid work over recently, and we were able to determine together that there was a clear impingement of the C8 nerve root and yet could not find a single position or stretch that offered any relief.

I had a fairly intense spike in that particular pain a few weeks ago, and Dana came by for a visit.  It took her very little time to give me some pretty disturbing news.  She didn’t think the impingement was coming from the disk level at all, but somewhere a little ways away from the spine.

For some time now on that left side, I have had clustered in that soft notch created by the clavicle, a few very hard swollen lymph nodes (I noticed these months ago, and my hospice nurse pointed out that our bodies are loaded with lymph nodes and that they can get swollen for any number of reasons..)  It is Dana’s feeling that these are the tip of the ice berg so to speak..  there is a whole chain of lymph nodes running up from the presumed center of the action.  These new symptoms are a good indication that these nodes are involved, and swollen, and that it is probably THEM pressing on the C8 nerve root.

There are a couple of reasons that this isn’t really great news.  A couple of reasons that we wish it was actually a herniated disk.  The first is that if a disk was causing the problem, it is likely that some corrective exercises could clear it up.  (it is also likely that the steroids I’m on would have diminished any inflammation in that area to a degree that I wouldn’t be feeling symptoms to begin with!).  But the  big piece of bad new is that this is a good indication that the cancer is migrating north.  Towards my brain pan.   Also that given the speed with which these symptoms are developing, that things seem to be moving pretty quickly.

The loss of use of my hand is one of the most disturbing developments so far.  I have had to get used to shitting in a bag,  and not being able to ride a bike (even if that turned out to be the ranting of a mad man the first time around), and the fact that my penis won’t get hard, and yet not being able to clip my own fingernails last night nearly destroyed me.  For it to come at a time when I have so many projects that I want to do in the shops..     Well.   I guess when wouldn’t it?  Right?  I’m still managing to function out there.


I’m sorry.  I’m unable to stay awake.  I’m going to go ahead and post this as it is.  I need to go and have a rest.  Please pardon any incoherence.   Perhaps I’ll read it over when I wake up..








50 Replies to “20 and 14”

  1. Wow.I don’t know how you do all that you do each day given the amount of obstacles and pain it entails. My heart goes out to you.

  2. It’s fantastic read you, I feel you are so amazing, because you are living and enjoying, and we are living through you!! Love you so much, you inspire me, always.
    Big big hug

  3. I hope you have a good rest. I was thrilled to see your post, but hate the evil thing is awake again. I’m praying for you and Hill. Oh, Gunnar will have lots of treasures from you, hopefully your strength and wonderful sense of adventure. You are a wonder, Fast Boy.

  4. I’ve been wondering how you are. It must be so frustrating for you to be full of ideas and then held back by that f……g cancer. My thoughts are with you.

  5. Ezra- Your story crushes me, but your words and creative fire inspire me…and droves of others. You are a singular call to action.

  6. Ezra, thank you for thinking of us and giving us updates even when you might not feel up to it. I get the straight edge now on the stools – genius! Take care and hope you got the rest you needed. So hope there is something they can do for your pain and neuropathy. xoxoxo

  7. I’m sorry to hear about your incapacitation, Ezra. I hope you’re able to get some of the projects you’d like to start, accomplished. You’re never far from my thoughts.


  8. I have been checking everyday for an update and glad to read this one. You endure so much and I am always thinking about you and your family. xx

  9. Heart grabbing update Ezra, haven’t we all wondered, thought, imagined what bad things could happen, how things progress, what frustrations, pain, madness anyone can endure?! But you are living through a version each day. Thank you for sharing as you attempt to forge your way and thrive each day even when something stops or limits you. If our hopes and wishes could alter the course of things, we’d have you brilliantly creating those fabulous frames today. You are in our hearts, our thoughts and all of it has meaning, a place in this world, we’re sending that Big LOVE back every day, thank you for being, sharing, XOXO

  10. Thank you for sharing. It is painful, I am sure, but for those of us (and yours) it is sadly, quietly comforting …

    Wishing you peace. And defiance.

  11. The crates are beautiful and most useful. What a clever idea! I know that you will find a way to produce your picture frames is spite of the new obstacles you are facing. You are a most amazing and inspiring person and your photos, writings, courage, humor, and love for your friends and family have enriched my life. You are in my thoughts every day, as are Hillary, Putney, your family, and all who love you. I look forward to photos of the picture frames.

  12. we all missed you (actually checked earlier today to see if you had posted anything new) – and then you did, hugs,

  13. Ezra, it would destroy me too (the zipper but most certainly the fingernails). Damn. Your creative energy is such a force that I feel it only fair that the cancer should shrivel up and blow away in the face of it. In fact, I feel your determination has already carried you further than imaginable. How you find the courage to keep posting as well is beyond well, what I thought possible. It is good to know that you are surrounded by a dedicated cadre of loved ones in addition to your virtual fan club.

    You are remarkable.


  14. You are an inspiration a constant reminder that every day is a blessing. We aren’t guaranteed anything in this life – except death. Yet you serve as example of making everyday count. Thanks for your posts. They mean a lot to a lot of people who are going through tough times. Stay strong!!

  15. Happy new year to you and yours, Ezra. I’m so happy to have your winter photograph.
    Lots of thoughts after reading this, but really I want to know how something as simple as a cedar crate can be so mf-ing beautiful. Sending stranger love from the west coast.

  16. Big LOVE to you and yours, Ezra…I think of you often & look forward to hanging your beautiful images on my walls at my new home, very soon.

  17. With nice black and white matte inks and matte printing paper, I agree. Black and white analog images printed digitally are wonderful! I’m still hoping to buy one of yours. You seem to put a lot of thought and care into the presentation of your photos, which I really admire.

    I hope you continue to receive excellent care and that you can still move forward with your projects.

  18. My dad grew up in a planing mill in Lincoln, NE. When he moved to Texas, he found himself without a wood shop. There’s a tape somewhere of a toddler me on Santa’s lap, when asked what I want, I look to my dad off-camera to get my cue and yell, “planer-shaper-joiner!” For years, anytime anyone anywhere would ask, “What would you like for (holiday / birthday / whatever) my dad’s eyebrows would go up and I’d yell planer-shaper-joiner. ‘Til I was about 12, I thought that was all one thing. He has a nice wood shop now with a planer a shaper and a joiner and, much to his chagrin, the only skill I’ve paid attention long enough to learn is picture frames – but I make the hell out of picture frames. I never really developed a love for the machinery, instead I developed something of a wood fetish (stop it.) The grain and knots that show up when you plane down a piece of walnut are works of art in and of themselves. There is unexplored magic in picture frames, and you are so the right guy for the job.

    Am I remembering this story right? When you were picking out a new surgeon a long long time ago, a resident you knew from before came into the room and was so happy to see you… still alive. A very long time ago. Nothing ever happens exactly the way we think it will. Not ever. Especially with you. So we (all of us) will work as much as we possibly can today. No more no less. We’ll do the same tomorrow. You have such a ridiculously amazing group of friends and family around you. (Moms in particular are really great at cutting nails. Like, the best. So get on that.) But for today, we work as much as we possibly can. On three. Go team. Thanks for the update:) Big Love

  19. Your post brings to mind for me this Keats sonnet, but—-in a sort of opposite kind of way…..Although only you can say how much it speaks for you….
    Thanks for all your words.


    When I have fears that I may cease to be
    Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,
    Before high-pilèd books, in charactery,
    Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain;
    When I behold, upon the night’s starred face,
    Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
    And think that I may never live to trace
    Their shadows with the magic hand of chance;
    And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
    That I shall never look upon thee more,
    Never have relish in the faery power
    Of unreflecting love—then on the shore
    Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
    Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

  20. Your posts/pictures bring up so many emotions… Excitement to hear from you, happiness to see you are enjoying your friends and family (and still making cool stuff), and sadness to hear about the progression of this F****** disease!!!! RAT-BASTARD CANCER!!!!! I love you, Ez! As always, many thoughts to you, Hill and sweet little Putney from the mountains of Colorado.

  21. thank you for mentioning quicksilver…..possibly one of my favorite movies. the fact you love it, too makes me love you even more!
    always have you in my thoughts…….sending you love, love, love from Philly. besos.

  22. My problems pale. Big Love to you and yours. My thoughts and hopes are with you. Peace to you Ezra in the most profound sense…

  23. Your determination is awe inspiring. Despite your heroic efforts to the contrary, I doubt “busier than a one-handed bike builder” will creep into the vernacular anytime soon! Peace in the new year to you and yours.

  24. I love reading what you write, and as with any great book will be terribly sad to read the last page…but will carry your story in my heart for all of my days.

    Wishing you comfort and joy……xoxo

  25. Hi Ezra,
    We’ve never met but I came across your blog postings years ago and am always happy to see an update from you in my inbox. I think about your journey and how you have lived your life and just wanted you to know that you have made a difference in mine. I had been thinking about a move to Kenya for a few years and realized there was no reason to wait. You have taught me instead to chose the life you want and do your best to create it, even with all the curve balls life throws our way.

    I am sorry that your physical pain continues to worsen and send you lots of love and light and wishes for many productive happy hours each day.

  26. Happy New Year, Ezra & Hillary & a very happy belated birthday to Ezra. So glad to get to see you at Toast recently. Your projects are so exciting and inspiring to see. Thanks for sharing your creativity & progress. Best wishes for a prosperous 2014!

  27. Starting the year, I thought that I check out the frames, recipes and whatever arts and crafts your were in these days. And I am glad to hear that your curiosity and drive are working as they always have been doing.

    And I know that whatever thing is trying to mess around with you, the victory again will be yours!

  28. Happy new year to you and yours, Ezra. I love your projects and your writing is articulate and precise and spares nothing. But it is your courage that makes me bow my head in respect.

  29. Peace to you, Ezra. Wishing you less pain and much love on your continued journey. And thank you for continuing to share your story, as difficult and beautiful as it’s been. …From the soggy west coast of british columbia, janice

  30. Hi Ezra,

    Because you write from such a personal place, you touch the very personal in people, I want to thank you for the lessons in life, creativity, photography, bikes, food, and courage. You, Hill and your family are in my thoughts. Love to you all xx

  31. So many projects I would like to see you do Ezra.
    My thoughts are with you.. and you are an example for me..
    The focus.. the motivation.. the honesty… Chapeau..I salute you.

    I wish you, Hill, Putney and the entire Family all the best.
    Enjoy the food.. enjoy the company..

    In my best Italian: Ti mando un abbriacione

  32. Ezra,
    I’m always astounded at the amount of work/creativity you seem to pack in your days and your ability to roll with the punches. I guess thats what you mean by you’ve been doing a lot of living in this past year.. seems that way. I check for updates all the time.

    I only hope to see the pictures you have in your archives that you said you were going to scan perhaps(?). Hopefully the projects keep you as busy as you can handle for now if you want them to.


  33. Very inspired by you and your passion for those activities that occupy your time! So many people move through their life with no passion and cannot find happiness in what they have. Wishing you and your loved ones the best! P.s. I’ve fallen in love with Putney….:)

  34. Ezra is such a cool name. I’ll never forget you or your super cool name. Oh, and your courage. That is pretty memorable too.

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