photo by Sheri Dixon

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lucky Ducks

So last week, we were given the good news we hold onto every four months.

The cancer doctor said "Mr. Dixon- there is nothing of note in your head", meaning, of course, that the cancer has not returned, and we are dismissed for another few months. The cancer doctor thinks the "nothing of note in your head" comment is wildly hilarious, as do we, so it's all good.

As an added bonus, he said we may stay away for six months now, since the cancer has been gone for almost four years. We are breathing a little easier, sleeping a little better, daring to feel a little more fortunate than we did before.

Luck is a funny thing.

Because shit just happens. It's easier, neater, more comforting to imagine and believe that Everything Happens for a Reason, but I'm thinking that most of the time it doesn't. Most of the time Shit Really Does Just Happen.

Good people get slammed with alot of crap.
Bad people win the lottery.

There's no ulterior cosmic motive to it- no behind the scenes god knows all souls and rewards/punishes accordingly. This is Life. It's messy, beautiful, tragic, hilarious and almost completely random.

And it's OK.

When we were seeing the pain doctor last week he asked Ward's medical record number- at MD Anderson you can forget your name, address, birthdate, social security number- you are known by your medical record number and better have that baby memorized.

Ward's is very easy- a combination of only 2 numbers in a nicely arranged pattern.

So for almost four years, clerical and medical staff have all said the same thing-
"Wow. That's an easy number- how lucky for YOU".

And for almost four years, I've replied the same way-
"Yes. How lucky we are to have an easy to remember number at the CANCER HOSPITAL".

The reaction is generally nervous self-concious laughter on the part of the staff.

The pain doctor, however, looked at me, then at Ward, and said "Wow. She goes straight for the jugular, doesn't she?"

Ward smiled and said "Yep. She's a mean 'un".

Pain doctor- "And I think she hit the carotid too..."

I just smiled sweetly and said "Well, as long as I was already there- I like to be efficient".

And we all laughed.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"There May Be a Small Disruption of Service"

*We're moved*.

They came and took all our big heavy furniture and set it up in the new house- in and around the electrician still hanging fixtures and the contractors still putting up walls. It looks terrific- just like the house was custom designed for the furniture and people who live here, which of course, it was.

Now, the other house- the house we just moved out of- is a different story. When we moved into that house 15 years ago, we meant to never leave it. So we put down roots- big deep cluttered roots, that worsened as our lives got consumed by being transformed from "normal family" to "cancer family". In the last 8 years by the time I tended to my family, tried to do enough at work to justify my further employment, and care for the farm-largely-put-on-hold, there was precious little time for housekeeping- even my brand of rudimentary cleaning.

Combine that with 3 people who are pack rats and "pile-makers" and you get a house that looks every bit as full without furniture, as with furniture. Except where the furniture used to be are piles of dust bunnies, dead bugs, and other unidentifiable stuff.

It's horrifying.

So we've got till the first to clear out and clean up the old house.

It looks forlorn, but not as sad as I thought it would. I've spent alot of the clean-up time there by myself and I've been talking to the house (Yes. Don't judge me.)
And we're both ready to let go and move on. That house sheltered us and nurtured us, because that's what it does. For over 100 years it's cared for its families. And its new family needs it and will love it as much as we do.

So I'm surprisingly more OK with letting go than I thought possible.

And after all the work, planning, hoping, blood, sweat, tears, delays, frustrations and heartbreak, the new house is not everything I'd hoped it would be.

It's a thousand times more.

Except for the pesky details of having to rework the water/electric service to the barn, running out of fence-funding, and the obvious delay of moving the animals because of that (to be remedied...somehow...before the 1st), the phone company having to run the cable to our house to get us internet service (supposedly to be completed by February 5th), the stove needing to be adjusted from natural gas to propane so it doesn't spew out 2ft high flames when I turn the oven on, the shower floors having to be re-done because the adhesive doesn't like the grout, and Alec's 50 year old vintage toilet having...issues...everything has gone frighteningly smoothly and turned out even better than my mind's eye envisioned when I was drawing it out on graph paper.

The friends and family who've been out to the new place have said it looks like us... and that they've never seen anything like it (does that mean we're weird?).

People HAVE to touch the logs- the logs with the bark still on them. There is something compelling, powerful, comforting about the honesty of their non-conformist widths, shapes, colors and flaws and people feel the need to absorb some of that through their fingertips.

The naturally knotted and variegated wood on the ceilings and walls provide a never-ending exercise in visual interest, the rock fireplace (even though still a work in progress) with its free-form shape begs to be patted like a huge sturdy protective dragon. Even the cement floor has shaded swirls and patterns- and all we did was seal it.

We all three of us wander around almost gingerly- as if at any moment it could disappear like Cinderella's pumpkin carriage.

But every morning we wake up and our house is still around us.

Our family is still together and our house is still around us.

And we'll never, ever take either one of those seemingly simple occurrences for granted.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

One Last Time

Kind of strange to start a new year with a month or so of endings.

Just over 15 years ago, on December 29, 1995 I signed papers and became the owner of this house.

The moving truck comes for all our large/heavy/bulky furniture on Tuesday at 8am. So we've got 2 nights left here. After that we'll be sleeping in the new house, which is a really weird feeling.

Sometime Tuesday the phone company will turn off our land line/internet, and (so they say) they'll come to the new house and run new line to hook us up there on Wednesday, so this is (probably) my last post from this spot- crammed between the bookcase and the bed, and the next one will be (hopefully) from my new dedicated office which is a really weird feeling.

A week from today, we're having a house warming party, something I mentioned not a few times to Ward yesterday as we mopped the floor of the still-empty and unfinished house in preparation for today's sealing of the floor. And that's a really weird feeling, bordering on panic-inducing anxiety.

I'd love to say "And that will be that", or "And they all lived happily ever after, cue the sunset", or "Boy, will I be happy when next week is over because then I can relax" but that's not the case.

This house will still contain 15 year's worth of stuff, memorabilia, tokens, symbols, crap and dust bunnies- and I'll have to be careful to steel myself and my family as we go through it all making very emperor-like decisions "thumbs up/thumbs down" as to what travels to a new spot in the new house, what stays in this house for the big estate/rummage sale and what gets unceremoniously stuffed into empty feed sacks and set at the curb.

It's going to be very difficult as treasures long forgotten get unearthed. Very difficult to say "WOW- I remember when we got that/where we got that/who we got that from!" think on it warmly and fuzzily and then set it aside and turn our backs on it. For absolute ever this time.

To avoid sensory overload (and because we'll still have our normal-everyday stuff to attend to)the "plan" is to go through room by room- hopefully getting one room a day completed. Twelve. There are twelve rooms in this house. Plus the shed. Plus the other shed. Plus the yard.

Oh yeah. And once the fences are done and the electric/water run, we'll still have to move the critters- coming here twice a day to feed till then.

AND we've got two trips to Houston in January.

Regardless of all the above, we're turning over the keys on February 1st to the house's new family, so there is a deadline, but it's all the way next month (insert hysterical laughter).

Whether or not the Long Slow Goodbye will be easier on us than a Quick Like a Bandaid severing of our ties to this place remains to be seen, and is really a moot point, because this is the way we're going about it.

Today's "Post Music" is one of my favorite songs- always has been- and the only thing I can sing without making dogs howl and run for cover. Alec told me "Mom- you sing that better than she does". Of course, he still depends on me for food and shelter...

So, for the last time gazing through 100+ year old blown glass windows (that are, I admit, letting in every bit of the 28 degree air outside), through the chinaberry and redbud trees and across the gravel drive to Pa's field as I try to think of words that make a damn bit of sense to attach to each other and then send out over the interwebs, this is Queen of the Universe- Over and Out.

See ya'll on the other side.