Peace Pie and other musings…

So the World Series is tied one all, fitting to send it to San Francisco.  I won’t lie; I’d LOVE the Giants to take it at home, which they have not done in their previous two wins.  However, I don’t want to appear greedy, so as long as they win…

Ha, well, nothing greedy about that.  I will note that this contest has brought out the small sports fan in my eldest, or maybe it’s Buttercup who appreciates the Giants, although last night’s game was hard to watch, once Jake Peavy allowed two Royals on base.  But now these teams have gotten a rout from each of their systems, so perhaps the following contests will be closer.  (Albeit with a San Francisco victory sealed at the end…)

But what does that have to do with peace pie?  Not that much, nor does peace pie correlate with the recent news that Radium 223 is not currently being manufactured, in Norway by the only company that makes it.  I accompanied my folks to Sacramento yesterday, where we learned that no radium treatments are being offered anywhere in the world.  The doctor’s assistant wasn’t sure why, but we discussed other options, like Xtandi and Ketoconizol, which is an anti-fungal that just happens to work well for prostate and bone cancer patients.  Dad will make an appointment with his oncologist to map out the next step, however I’m hoping that Bayer can sort out the Norwegians in a timely manner.  Radium 223 would truly best serve my father at this time, and time is a most precious commodity.

Still, I hear you rumbling, “What in the hey does that have to do with peace pie?  Is it some autumnal thing, baseball related, or Buttercup’s favourite dessert?”  Actually, it’s what happens when I have too many fireflies flitting in my brain (thank you Laura!).  My brother visited with the folks last weekend, then asked me what we were all bringing for Thanksgiving, which was his way of saying, “Hey sis, start a thread, will ya?”  I complied, noting that we would bring Grandma’s fruit salad, homemade cranberry sauce, and peace pie, with perhaps some vanilla ice cream for said peach pie.  Note the error?  I didn’t, but my beloved little brother did, answering what in the heck was peace pie (ya hippie!)?  I countered that I would also make some deviled eggs, they had to have an attitude, to which my sister replied how much she loved our family, big smiley face icon included.  And I answered that yes, at lease we are entertaining.

Then Mom asked why we had a lease?  And on it goes…

I said that’s what happens when I’m not writing, my spelling goes right down the loo.  Which is somewhat true, in that WordPress and my email provider, as well as Word, note the misspellings, but not the erroneous miscues.  Peace pie, at lease, the list is endless.  Similar to Radium 223; we assumed that was the next step, but maybe not.  Assuming is a tricky deal, not always for the best.  Maybe it’s best to be like Buttercup, hording the remote, ready to change the channel if the Giants get wonky.  And at least (not lease) Buttercup doesn’t care how I spell peach pie or at least.  She just wants to eat the pie, peaceful or not.

Dad wants pie too, and while ice cream is tasting good again, he prefers Cool Whip.  I also know he’d prefer radium over other treatments, just as he and I and Mom and my hubby and probably even Buttercup would prefer SF to win the Series at home.  But what we prefer is at times irrelevant.  All we can do is wait and see.

And eat the peach and peace pie with great big spoons.  And cheer on the Giants to perhaps another World Series championship!

Manageable Chunks

That old adage about the best way to eat an elephant is true with most things; one bite at a time.  This morning I read Chapter 21 of The Hawk, bringing me up to page one hundred four.  That well over three hundred pages remain isn’t daunting, not in this read-through.  I’m just taking this part of the creative process one bite at a time.  But the last time I read through this novel, I had noted that the end of Chapter 21 might be a good place to break up the tale, if I later so chose to divvy up this story into more easily digestible pieces.

I have no idea in what form I will eventually present this novel, but at least if manageable chunks is my goal, page one hundred four is a good place to start.

Last night I returned to the Bestie Far Away quilt, eager to start hand-sewing the binding.  However, the last time I poked at this blanket, I had simply completed attaching the binding to the front.  That was last Thursday, the night the Giants clinched their place in the World Series, which begins this evening.  I’ve been preoccupied in the meantime, but eventually one returns to their normal tasks.  For me, that’s some form of writing, even if I’m not actually writing.  There’s also quilting, and watching sport.  But other issues have pulled me from my usual orbit, and while I’m happy to assist, when I return to my sphere, I have to do so in bits and pieces, otherwise find myself overwhelmed with all I want to do.

Stories and quilts and sport (amid laundry and cleaning and unpacking) call my name with the lure of a siren beseeching the sailor toward a dangerous shore. Thank goodness writing and sewing aren’t perilous vices, and my love for the Giants is fairly tame.   But I do feel pulled in more than a few directions, like if I had another three or four hands, not to mention more gray matter, so much more would be accomplished.  The quilt would already be bound, I’d be up to page two hundred ninety-six, and San Francisco would be up three games to one against Kansas City, eager take the Series at home.  All three of those notions would involve time travel, or some form of futuristic manipulation, for which I am very unpracticed.  All I can do is read one chapter at a time, sew the binding one side at a time, and watch baseball one inning after another (hoping Madison Bumgarner will continue to display his magic at stadiums far from home).

Usually I am content with my output, be it of words, stitches, full laundry baskets.  Maybe autumn stirs my heart to do do do…  It’s finally cooling off in Silicon Valley, and I want to start a crock pot of chili, as well as mop my kitchen, throw the sheets in the washer, write this post, read Chapter 22 of The Hawk, cut fabric for the next quilt, and about fifteen other items on my mental To Do list; I tend not to write all of those, because I am a firm believer in what needs to be accomplished will be accomplished.  But that doesn’t mean those things don’t whirl in my brain.  And I do scribble short lists, like groceries to buy (spuds and olives for potato salad, as well as bananas and almond milk), notes for The Hawk, quilt math.  Post-it notes are scattered throughout the house with information for upcoming comforters, but then I change my mind about how big to make said quilt, which makes that post-it note obsolete.  And sometimes I even recall I turned a fickle eye to those measurements.

Sometimes I forget.

This morning, when I finished Chapter 21, I wondered if I had yet reached that proposed breaking point; glancing at a post-it note to my left, why yes I had!  I had written this information the last time I read through this novel, during summer, right before I started working on it again in August.  I smile now, because I had noted pages 1-104, 104-204, 204-301…  Now it’s up to 473, hmmmm.  I guess as I continue reading (with no firm date set upon when I will next add to the story), I’ll find where the next appropriate break belongs, somewhere in the upper 300’s, maybe low 400’s, who knows?  And even when I find the right stopping point, might it be a moot point if when (not if if) I finish this tome, deciding to publish the sucker uninterrupted?

Questions for later dates, thank the lord!  But still I ponder these ideas, for these are the ideas that don’t go on a written list.  These queries linger in my subconscious like purchased fabrics attached to no firm quilt idea, bought mostly because the prints caught my eye, tugging on my heart.  It’s like living in the present while keeping one foot within an ethereal orbit, not quite like hoping for this or that, but maybe merely keeping an open mind.  Which might at times be like leaving the barn door open, letting the animals escape.  Or maybe it provides those without a home some shelter.  Yes, I like that notion much better.

In the meantime, I need to throw in a load of clothes, get to the store (potato salad isn’t going to fix itself), iron that binding.  That was what tripped me up last night; I iron the binding flush with the front of the quilt, which makes it easier to pull it around to the back for the hand-sewing.  More tasks than I can shake a stick at, but in manageable chunks, all will get sorted.  And as for the Giants…

All I can do there is sit on my sofa at five p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, with the thought of what will be will be.  And if it’s that Madison Bumgarner records several more scoreless innings, excellent!  I’ll stitch to strikes thrown, groundouts accumulated, perhaps a run or three coming from our sluggers.  It’s coming on late October, autumn has arrived.  Let the game, and everything else, begin!

Pins and Needles

Last night, as the Giants battled, then beat, the St. Louis Cardinals, I basted a quilt.  It was too nerve-wracking to actually watch San Francisco play, so instead I hunkered (or more rightly hid) in the grotto, securing the sandwich with safety and straight pins.  A little unconventional, but just how the Giants went about taking game four from the National League Central champs.  It very well could be a World Series of wild cards, what with Kansas City sweeping Baltimore yesterday.  Tonight, with our ace Madison Bumgarner on the mound, we SF fans will await if our place in baseball’s ultimate contest shall be cemented.

And meanwhile, I have a quilt to sew together.

I’m glad I have this project to occupy my time, or I would otherwise be fretting about baseball.  I’m not sure why I used both straight and safety pins, other than the straight pins make the safety pins go further, and they are easier to put in, although stabbing occurs.  I sported a bandage on my left index finger for much of the process, but no hobby is safe from injury, just ask Yadier Molina.

Finishing this quilt top a few days ago, amid the playoff races, was a huge thrill, for I had hoped the sashes would highlight the batiks.  I was very pleased with the result, much like I’m ever so chuffed with how the Giants have been playing; nothing overtly flashy, unless one appreciates the smaller aspects of baseball.  With few homers to their name, the Giants exemplify small ball, which the Royals used to defeat the mighty bats of Baltimore.  This quilt is colourful, perhaps that is its secret weapon.  Or maybe basting with straight and safety pins will prove useful when the actual quilting begins.

I’m not a superstitious seamstress, nor am I an irrational baseball fan.  I will endeavor to watch as much of tonight’s contest as possible, for it *could* be San Francisco’s final home game of 2014.  Nothing is a sure bet in sport; any given Sunday a football team can be beaten.  And as SF showed in 2012, a team down 3-1 could achieve the nearly impossible, taking the final three games.  That they did it against St. Louis looms large in all minds; retribution in the hearts of the Cardinals, hope for yet another trip to the World Series for the Giants.  I’m glad my pastimes are of a simpler sort, just sit at the machine and sew.  Sort of like sitting at the computer and writing, but with even less stress; I’ll employ a straight stitch, in the ditch, tacking these layers together.

Nothing fancy or imaginative, just getting it done.  Like my Giants; I just want them to git ‘er done!

The Writer Within Me

This morning I read two chapters of The Hawk.  While no time looms to manage any writing, reading isn’t difficult, other than reminding me how much I’d like to be writing.  I’d *LOVE* to be furthering this novel down the path, but at the moment, I barely have enough cognitive strength to type this blog entry.  I’m tired, mentally and a little physically too.  Right now, life is somewhat on the draining side.

But the writer inside me doesn’t seem to notice my outward fatigue.  The writer crosses her arms, taps her foot, and glowers.  Well, maybe she’s not glowering, but disappointment colours her entire mood: Why aren’t you writing, you nitwit?  You’re not that tired, I mean, you’re penning this ridiculous post and…

And enough already!  I’m pooped, maybe the last few road trips have caught up with me.  Road trips, quilts, novels, although I haven’t completed a first draft in a while.  I won’t hazard a guess as to when The Hawk will be in the can, too precarious an idea.  I do feel it *will* (at some point or other) be finished.  Yes, I will state that.  One day I will write The End to The Hawk.  But please don’t ask me when that day will be.

(If you asked my inner writer, she’d definitely glower and say, “Like tomorrow, okay?”)

What the inner writer doesn’t realize, bless her, is that while perhaps she’s ageless, I am not.  Today I’m feeling every single one of my forty-eight years, perhaps a few extra having snuck in when I wasn’t looking.  In reading over a couple of chapters, I was pleased for how well the prose flowed, occasionally wondering, as I sometimes do, did I actually write all that?  But it’s still the relative beginning of the book, and I’ve read and re-read those scenes more than a few times, the revisions apparent.  Maybe that is why my inner writer is heady with authorial excitement; she wants to expand on all those polished paragraphs.

(While the writer who does the actual work hedges, fully aware of how middling to lousy the ensuing chapters are at the end…)

Still, it’s encouraging to want to write; now if only I had the time!  Visiting with Dad this past weekend, however, reminds me that sometimes time needs to be made for itself.  Which is my roundabout way of telling my inner writer to be patient, while I recover from a road trip all the while preparing for another.  I’ll be away this weekend too, which will keep me from writing, and quilting.  Usually I don’t get too far from home, and when I do, it’s more of a one-off than the norm.  But 2014 is shaping up to be a year unlike any other, which means damn the torpedoes (and my increasing age), full speed ahead!  Quilts and books be darned, as the open road calls my name, but please let me take a moment to slip into my trainers.  If I drive with Birkenstocks on, my ankles get sore.

This probably makes my inner writer wring her hands as well; “Get on with it!” I’m sure she’s screaming.  Or as Dad would say, “Git ‘er done!”  I’d love to get her done when it comes to The Hawk, but I’m too far into it to just pick it up, scribble a few words, then set it down.  I need a stretch of uninterrupted days to write, which I am not going to get anytime soon.  And I’m also far enough into this book, as well as my writing career (for what that’s worth) not to compromise the story.  Reading over the initial chapters has shown me that yes, it’s a pretty damned fine book (if I might say so myself).  No way in the world do I want to throw it to the winds just to please one whiny inner writer.

Sort of how my daughter had to corral Buttercup this past weekend; she’d had the run of the beach, but my girl got sick and tired of chasing her, so out came the lead, followed by the saddest beagle/basset eyes this side of the Mississippi.  Buttercup looks a lot like my inner writer, two spoiled gals who are used to doing as they please.  But my inner muse needs to cool her jets; I’m not the same writer I was years ago.  I’m not the same woman either, what with quilting in the mix, or my dad who isn’t the same man he used to be.  We’re all changing, and best that we accept these alterations as gracefully as possible.  Getting one’s knickers in a twist is a waste of time, energy, and well, knickers.  I’ll write more of The Hawk when I am darned good and ready to.  And in the meantime, playoff baseball awaits.  Please Giants, don’t lose your NLCS home opener….

Instead of writing, first some reading…

First, I have to congratulate my beloved San Francisco Giants, who are once again in the NLCS.  It was another nail-biter, but the guys managed to beat the Washington Nationals three games to one in the five-game series.  No baseball for a couple of days, while the Giants and Cardinals, Orioles and Royals sort out their championship league series line-ups, but that gives the husband and me a breather; after the last two days, we need a small break from sport.

So, in the meantime…  Goodness, what haven’t I been up to?  Errands, crocheting, plotting, planning, sewing, reading…  Reading, um, yeah.  I had harbored *very very VERY good intentions* about getting back to writing.  Writing The Hawk, of course (what else is there these days?), but as life or fate or Bruce Bochy would have it, I started re-reading that novel-in-progress, and currently I’m up to page twenty-two.  Out of…  Oh, I truly don’t want to consider that number (in the four hundreds); it’s more than enough to start at the beginning, which now has been nearly a year from when I did initiate this rather long tale.

I considered that fact, about two chapters in; a year ago, give or take a few days, and an entire baseball season, I woke to a rather intriguing dream, mulled over the idea for barely a week, then started typing what I *assumed* would be a short story.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahah!  I can hear you laughing from, well, not this nation’s capital.  With the Nats out, and the drubbing the Redskins took on Monday, not much pleasure in D.C. for sports fan about now.  And while I *would* rather be writing, I accept that for this moment (and the next several) reading must commence.  Not all that sure why, because it’s only been five weeks or so since I last worked on this book, not like the six months that had flown in the previous break.  But I know better than to question the muse.  It would be like asking why Bochy let Hunter Strickland pitch to Bryce Harper, after what had happened a few days back in Washington D.C….

Yeah.  But, oddly enough, Strickland overcame those debacles, ended up as the winning pitcher last night, go figure?  Equally I have to let go and let God, when it comes to The Hawk, and anything else in my life.  I *could* get my knickers in a twist, wringing my hands agonizing whether or not I’ll ever complete this behemoth.  Sure, I mean, better to fret over that than say Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals, who as lead-off man for St Louis made the Dodgers’ brief (hehehe) tenure in this year’s post-season quite a headache for LA.  (Hahahahahaha, um, okay, enough Dodger-bashing…)  Our lead-off man, Gregor Blanco, is fantastic in center field, yes he surely is.  As the first man up for the offense, well….  He gets a walk now and again, yup.  And um….  Well, there’s nothing I can do about who the Giants put in the lead-off spot, just like my hands are tied when it comes to writing more than a blog entry or a grocery list.

When it comes to The Hawk, it’s all about reading.

In the noveling process, sometimes the process trumps the creative spark.  Revision isn’t the wildly imaginative fervor that writing it, but it is necessary, just like taking a walk instead of slamming one into McCovey Cove.  Yet these read-through excursions aren’t simply one more time that I fiddle with prose or excise poor grammar.  With a novel of this size, a writer needs to have a definite grasp on plot and character and to merely get back in touch with the basis from where all this sprang.  Every time I started another Alvin’s Farm story, I re-read the previous manuscript, otherwise I’d be fumbling about, unsure of my way.  The Hawk is longer, so it takes more time to become reacquainted, but the subtleties set down in early and middle chapters should remain throughout the novel.  Not harped upon, of course, but taken into account, like remembering how a relief pitcher gave up a big homer then perhaps not letting that same pitcher meet up again with that batter later in the series.

However, the Giants prevailed, Strickland and Harper aside, for a baseball team isn’t one or two players; it’s a fielded team of nine, a playoff squad of twenty-five.  And, thank goodness, the NLCS isn’t a five-game series, but seven outings, or at least four.  I wouldn’t mind if the Giants swept the Cardinals, however I’m sure the broadcasting network and most other baseball fans, especially those in St. Louis, would appreciate a more evenly balanced showdown.  While I’d love to dive head-first into writing more of my WIP, I have to face the baseball-like process that emerges much like the Giants’ winning run, when a wild pitch skips past the catcher, allowing a rookie to sprint to home plate.  You just never know how the game is going to end.

Or, hehehe, when; it seems like the Giants and Nats did play five games, although SF took the series 3-1.  Game 2 was much like my novel, but after six long hours, Brandon Belt managed to break the tie, our pitching staff holding Washington in check, and there you go.  Not sure which equivalent inning I’m currently wading through in The Hawk, but like a baseball game, the end will occur.

I just have to be patient, and wait for the zone.  Once I find the zone, ahhh…  No telling how far I’ll hit that baby outta the park!

The Radium 223 Road Trip Part Two

Taken at the Dos Amigos Vista Point along Interstate 5 on Friday, 3 October, 2014.

One of my favourite things to do is driving.  Maybe you might have assumed I’d say writing, or quilting.  Or even blogging, and yes, while those three are indeed a few of my preferred tasks, I’ve been driving longer than all those combined, for thirty-two years now.  I got my license on my sixteenth birthday, and since that date, car keys have never been far from my hand.  These days, road trips are a little more costly, and I have to wear trainers.  But the sense of the open road, while the music plays, always brings a smile to my face.

I grew up in the country, so wheels were imperative to getting away, which most young people ache to do.  My first regular vehicle was a Chevy Silverado with a three speed on the column.  I can’t count the number of cars I’ve driven over the years, although since we returned to America, I’ve been happy with a rather nondescript small SUV-sort of model; it gets me home, what more can I ask for?  And it has a pretty terrific stereo, hehehe.  Without the tunes, a road trip wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable.  I’ve been through 8-track players, cassette players, CD players, but for the last ten years, an iPod has sufficed.  I do keep a collection of CDs in the center console, just in case.  I would never wish to be at a loss for music.

The tunes of choice for my journey along Highway 99 to Bakersfield were those from a playlist, Songs for my Grandchildren.  Master Z isn’t due for a few weeks, and who knows when I’ll be humming those melodies his way, but first it is necessary to weed out songs that might not be apropos.  This trip south was a great opportunity to do just that, as I considered my dad’s next move along the cancer motorway.  Freeways and motorways in my US/UK life, but lately it’s been all American, and in America, I drive on the…  Oh my goodness, I had to stop and think.  The right, Americans drive on the right, doh!  Every time we came back to visit, it took me a few days to acclimate myself to driving on the right.  I’ve been driving so long that the action is fundamental, regardless which side of the road is the law.

But here, I drove on the right, well, on the left side of the right side of the freeway.  I tend to exceed the speed limit, but it wasn’t difficult, as the speed of traffic on 99 wasn’t slow.  I hadn’t been on that stretch of 99 for years, and once I was past Fresno, the territory was new.  My youngest daughter had said that approaching Bakersfield, the landscape looked like a bowl, what with mountains all around.  However, it was dark when I arrived, having listened to some of the Giants-Pirates game on the radio.  I turned off the iPod, just for a bit, to catch up on the playoffs, and to my joy, San Francisco would be moving right along.

Spending time with a young woman who is like another of my own was lovely; we ate lunch, shopped for baby items, enjoyed delicious ice cream while chatting about the changes in our lives; hers are more outwardly apparent, but mine contains some alterations, as I spoke about my dad.  She loved the quilts; I’m not sure which she liked better, hers or the baby’s.  When we said our goodbyes, again she expressed her appreciation for my visit; all of her family lives in Silicon Valley, and it’s not a quick jaunt from there to the bottom of Highway 99.  I’ll see her again after Master Z makes his appearance, for which she was also grateful.  Family isn’t always those to whom you are born, but those who fall into your lap along the way.

I spent a second night in Bakersfield, texting with my husband while his Green Bay Packers beat up on the Minnesota Vikings.  Rare are the times I am alone, even with texts being shared.  I was contemplating my drive home, after some sleep.  I didn’t want to leave too early, arriving in Silicon Valley while the morning rush was still busy.  But my task in the southland was done, and I wanted to be home, to ponder Dad’s upcoming treatment, and to wiggle back into my life, even if for only a few days.

Being available to care for family is a tremendous blessing.  But I need to recoup my own energy too.

That’s where the road trip comes in handy; not too many superior ways of relaxing than driving along two-lane motorways used solely as methods of long-haul transport.  I would be going home on Interstate 5, which like Highway 99 traverses the state.  But I-5 is even longer than 99, and while I would have to cut over on Highway 152, for many, many miles it would be me, music, and the freeway.  The 5, as those in SoCal call it, would take me home.

Dos Amigos Pumping Plant in San Joaquin County, California.

Dos Amigos Pumping Plant in San Joaquin County, California.

However, in NorCal, we just say 5.  No articles, it’s a freeway, the way Britons say “I’m going into hospital”, not how Americans say, “I’m going to the hospital”.  I was taking 5 (not the 5) back to my little neck of the woods, and when I couldn’t go back to sleep at four in the morning, I knew it was time to begin that trip.  Still, I didn’t rush, calmly eating my breakfast, going over the directions to take me from Bakersfield to 5, over the 7th Standard Road.  I put on my socks and trainers, necessary for long drives now that I’m pushing fifty, packed my car, turned in my key, then headed out in the still dark of night, a quarter after five in the morning.  I had arrived in Bakersfield under cloak of darkness, and was leaving in the same manner.

But it wasn’t the same sort of drive, for morning was breaking by the time I reached the freeway.  Stopping for petrol, and some coffee, I found the eastern sky starting to glow, and once back on 5, the western horizon no longer was pitch-black.  Funny to see how the world changes, within only moments, as night is erased, day dawning.  Now I chose different artists, listening to whole albums instead of a playlist.  I started with Hollie Cook, then chose R.E.M., moving on to Dash Rip Rock.  By the time I was drumming my fingers along the steering wheel to Dash, all was light, I was singing, and the previous two days seemed faraway.  I wasn’t sure how that had happened, but time moves that quickly.  If we linger too long in the past, we’re bound to get lost in the process.

I think that’s why Dad has been able to handle cancer as gracefully as he has been; he fully well knows each day is so precious.  My daughter’s best friend, well, her attitude about the coming baby is that of a twenty-two-year-old, with not all that much perspective with which to see the forest for the trees.  She’s very excited for Master Z, but somewhat unprepared, but that’s normal of course.  No woman, regardless of age, knows what motherhood is going to entail.

The same can be said about cancer patients, or those who have never battled such a foe.  As my dad implies, it is what it is, what I pondered along 5, as Thomas Dolby followed Dash, and then was followed by a few Luna tunes.  I don’t remember what I was listening to when I stopped at the Dos Amigos Vista Point, but I had time to…  I nearly said time to kill, which seems rather wasteful, when speaking about my dad and cancer.  Not a single one of us has time to kill, although a little loitering wasn’t going to harm anyone.

I have never driven with such a sense of there is no hurry.  If I hurried, I’d hit South Bay traffic, bleh.  Not to say I drove like a snail, but I wasn’t worried about getting pulled over.  I drove with a new-found depth of a realization that perhaps had been cultivated two days prior, going the other direction on a different motorway; life is this very moment.

I just typed those words, and I’ll do it again: life is this moment.  That is all it is, and then it changes into the next moment, then the next, and then suddenly it’s Monday, and I’ve been home for three full days, and the Giants are hoping to wrap up their series with the Nationals about, oh, right now.  The third game of that NLDS is starting momentarily, so about time for me to complete this post.  Today was spent running errands, a little reading of The Hawk (about which I’ll ruminate in blog form in a day or so), and now sport.  Baseball first, football maybe later, if another East Coast squad can keep a West Coast football team in check.  If Seattle overpowers Washington, I’ll change to the Dodgers and Cardinals.

The weather outside might feel like summer, but fall is upon us, in the guise of major league sporting adventures.  And in road trips carrying autumnal themes; change is occurring, although I might not see it.  But time isn’t static, I can’t waste a minute.  I have a father in need of a jousting partner, a grandchild on the way.  Quilts to make, a novel to finish, and a baseball game through which to bite my nails.

The Radium 223 Road Trip Part One


If my life were longer, say another couple hundred years, I’d write a novel based upon this entry’s title.  But even if I live to my nineties, most likely the last few days will remain as a memory, barely touched on within this and the accompanying post.  So many things happened over the last few days that snatches will waft through me, until as Julie Brown once said, I can’t recall them anymore.

But obscure pop culture references aside, I want to recount a few tidbits of my recent days, because while life is meant to be lived in the here and now, what we pass along to others matters too, be it in the confines of doctor’s offices or over ice cream, or even when alone, conversing with a creator who made the whole kit’n’kaboodle.  At times, time is frozen, like the sign at a Bakersfield liquor store, advertising the sale of film, sandwiches and picnic supplies.  When I saw that sign, I had to pull out the phone, capturing that piece of a bygone era.  Who sells film, or even notes its sale, anymore?

(Later I learned that no, they don’t sell film.  But I’m glad they still have the sign.)

When Dad saw his oncologist a few weeks back, radium was already on the proverbial treatment table.  His visit to the UC Davis Medical Center last week was the preliminary step, introductions between Dad, Mum, me, and a very personable doc who thought Radium 223 was Dad’s best option, assuming Dad isn’t anemic.  Radium 223 is relatively new, approved by the FDA in early 2013 after very promising trials.  It’s infused right into the bloodstream, going straight for the bones.  Fatigue and diarrhea will be the main side effects, but Dad was optimistic, especially after hearing that the next treatments were Jevtana, the bully-chemo-cousin to Taxotere, or another hormone pill that probably wouldn’t do Dad much good, coming too close on the heels of his days with Zytiga.  We might consider Xtandi later on, well after his encounter with Radium 223 is over, but right now Radium 223 will be enough to ponder.  Dad won’t be radioactive, the doc noted with a smile, so hugs are strongly encouraged.

After the low-down was discussed, we were sent to the lab, so Dad could give blood, to make sure among other things that he’s not anemic.  This has become so much of his life now that he doesn’t flinch, even made the doc laugh when Dad said they could poke him wherever they wanted.  “You’re at a university hospital,” the doc slyly smiled.  “Don’t go saying that around here.”  We all chuckled as Dad was called back to give blood.  Mom nibbled on a granola bar while I considered my next activities; we all had miles to go before we slept.  Dad wasn’t in there long, and slowly we approached the main entrance.  The facilities at UC Davis Medical Center were excellent, and everyone was pleasant and upbeat.  As usual Dad was his charming self, which I know bolsters not only his health, but the rest of us too.  Several times the doc noted this wasn’t a curative therapy.  It’s solely to give Dad, and us, as much time as possible.

And again Dad noted that he felt he had another couple of decades.  What more can we ask for?

While my parents had to navigate Sacramento freeways to get back home, I took another route, not one returning me to Silicon Valley.  The Central Valley was my destination, so we didn’t linger long, saying our goodbyes, which are temporary, for Dad will be back in Sac in a few weeks, possibly sooner, depending on the results of his labs.  If his white blood count and platelets are normal, and he’s not anemic, the first infusion of Radium 223 could take place ASAP.  These treatments will continue every four weeks for six months, unless his PSA skyrockets, in which case this option will be dropped.  But the doc noted that PSA’s are no longer the be-all end-all markers of prostate cancer.  In the last five years, PSA’s have mattered less, as long as the patient is feeling well.  With bone cancer now in the picture, not to mention Dad’s COPD, a host of ailments hover.  Dad himself said that prostate cancer isn’t usually what kills, and some men live for years with the condition.  Dad’s thinking another twenty of those years, and we’ll take it day by day to see.

Day by day is all any of us have, whether we’re seventy, forty-eight, or twenty-two, with another life eager to enter the world.  My next stop on the road trip was to see my youngest’s best friend, the mum-to-be of Master Z.  I was also on a quilt-delivery mission, but that destination was at the tail-end of Highway 99.  Before I closed my eyes on that day, Bakersfield, California was awaiting me.  I hugged and kissed my parents, walked to my car, then started the engine.  Pulling out of the UC Davis parking garage, I made my way for US 50, which would take me to 99 South, for Fresno the sign said.  I smiled; many cities and small towns between Sac and Fresno, and a few more separating Fresno and my final stop for the day…


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