My Sam.

There are various key Sams in my life.

Notably, there are:

the late great Big Sam, my father.

Brother Sam, my brother, Big Sam’s son.

and SAMAMIDON, good friend and musician extraordinaire.

When this particular Sam showed up on our doorstep almost a year ago, he needed some sort of nickname that would distinguish him.  (honestly, “brother sam” seemed natural, but it was already taken, so pretty early on I started to refer to him as “MY sam”).

And he DID show up on our doorstep.  A mutual friend had told us both that we should really meet.  She told Sam that I was always around, and that he should just stop by.  He did.

“Hi, I’m Sam.”

“Oh!  Hi.  Come on in.”

Without hesitation, he stuck around for dinner that night.  In the six or seven months that followed, before he actually moved IN, we calculated that he had eaten dinner with us more nights than he hadn’t.

When he first showed up, I was at the tail end of treatment, and was still bald (his bald came naturally..  at about 16).  As he came and went, people would say, “Hey Ez!”  Since then, most people have figured out that there are two of us.  Together, we go by “hamaneggs.”

In the last year, Sam has become a good friend and true..  and somehow I hadn’t yet formally introduced him.

Sam, you guys.  You guys, My Sam.  (you can call him My Sam too, but he’s likely to be a little cranky about it).

Dugout canoe. Obviously.

Yesterday morning my phone rang.



“Ahh…  Gunnar?”


“what can I do for you?”

“Do you, mumble mumble, blow torch?”

“What?!  Do I have a blow torch?”

“NO!  Do you have a GOOD BLOW TORCH?”

“OH!  a GOOD one.  Yeah.  I have a good blow torch.” (you’re 8… what do you want with a blow torch?)

“Ok.  I’ll be right over..”  click.

the back of me..

the back of me

There’s a story (that may be apocryphal) about someone traveling all the way across the country from the east coast, out into the desert to find Georgia O’Keeffe.  When he arrived he explained that he had hitch-hiked his way across the country, “just to see her”

“This is the front of me,” she turned around, “this is the back of me.  Goodbye.” and she closed the door.

The back of me, as it turns out, is a literal pain in the neck, and pain in the ass.

I’ve long known about two herniated disks in my upper spine.  As best as I can theorize, these were at the root of the upper back/arm pain that I experienced during last winter’s six month stretch of chemotherapy, for which I took copious amounts of narcotics.  At some point during those six months, a new pain developed running down the back of my left leg.  If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I’ve been suffering from considerable sciatic pain ever since.  As it turns out (MRI last monday), I have two herniated disks in my lower back too!  One with “compression of the left S1 nerve root in the lateral recess.”  Nice to know that the pain is in my back and leg, and not just in my head.

The puzzler is, how on earth did I herniate two disks in my lower spine during a period of relative inactivity.  The pain developed during a time when cooking dinner was the most active and gymnastic that I ever got.  The upper back disks, I feel pretty certain, were the result of too much break-dancing in the nineties and noughties (I broke).  If the lower back disks were a result of tissue breakdown caused by the chemotherapy (my theory..  not something about which there seems to be much data), why would it just be those two?  Why not a spine full of disk herniation?  I will discuss this further with the doc next week.   My guess is that it’s a combination of the two.  Maybe leftover non symptomatic injury from my dancing days that was pushed over the edge by acid in my veins.

As if on cue, yesterday the disks in my upper spine acted up while I was working on the lathe, and made the sciatic pain feel like a nice massage.  Nice to have things put in perspective.  At the urging of my dad and my wife, I resorted to codeine in the evening.  This morning, it’s still there.  Feck.  This poor old body.

Tonight my whole family will be coming over for easter bunny.  Cooking rabbit for easter has been my tradition (and favorite joke), for years now.  This year, it was pretty hard to find the little critters, maybe because of this?  I guess it’s a pretty obvious joke, in the end.