Tag Archives: chemotherapy

A Somewhat New World Order

On the cusp of every major change is this quiet lull, where all the emerging forces are stealthily simmering right under the surface.  This past weekend, my husband and I spent time with my dad, and our daughter.  A changing table was the last big piece of the nursery puzzle to be sorted, and we managed to tick that task from the checklist mid-Sunday afternoon.

Photos courtesy of my husband….

All my daughter has to do is pick up some storage bins in which to place the pocket diapers, cloth diapers and covers.  We have Snappi’s with which to affix cloth diapers, but she also wanted good old-fashioned diaper pins, which made me smile.  Personally, I think those Snappi’s are pretty sweet, but as long as the diaper stays put, who cares in which manner it is accomplished?  Now we wait for that baby to decide when he wants his birthday.  As each day passes, I think, “Well, it’s not going to be this day.”

Pocket diapers currently reside in the basket, but will soon be in their new home.

Pocket diapers currently reside in the basket, but will soon be in their new home.

Over the last eight and a half months, my youngest has undergone a transformation like no other she will ever endure, at least for the first time.  Ironically, my father has trod a similar path, and the parallels make for good conversation, when we all descend upon Dad for a visit.  Both he and my daughter are nauseous and tired, also weary of their situations.  My daughter’s confinement is nearly at an end, and while sleepless nights will continue, soon enough she’ll be feeling somewhat like her previous self, albeit permanently altered.  The same can’t be said for Dad, which none of us mentions, but that sentiment floats about, as if we could catch it in a bottle and seal it away forever.

I'm reading from The Runaway Bunny, which is one of my favourite children's stories.  My daughter noted it was the first book her offspring was hearing.

I’m reading from The Runaway Bunny, which is one of my favourite children’s stories. My daughter noted it was the first book her offspring was hearing.

But that isn’t how life works; people are born, then they die.  We can’t look back at Dad’s tenure with chemo and say, “Well, that was a total waste of time and effort.”  We have no idea what his PSA would have done sans Taxotere, nor can we judge how that drug now affects his overall health.  We can strongly speculate, but maybe Dad would have had this deterioration regardless.  I feel helpless, so does he.  But he remains fairly chipper, for feeling so crappy.  He’s taking morphine now, and that helps a little.  He doesn’t feel like he’s going to die soon, what he told my daughter, while my husband and I were out checking the charger on Dad’s boat motor.  She mentioned that in the car, after we left, and I wondered if my father felt it was easier to say that to his granddaughter, rather than to me.

All these new and exciting parts of life, and my grandson has yet to arrive!

Perhaps all these observations can’t be helped, the writer in me being so introspective.  I’ve put The Hawk away for….  Well, for who knows how long, but I did reach a good stopping place, at page 504.  This novel can be broken up into one-hundred page chunks, and last Thursday I inadvertently completed a chapter that neatly ended at yet another of those one-hundred page hunks.  With a second grand-baby due in May, I can’t rightly conjure as to when any writing will again commence, but I have come to relative terms with this novel; it’s not going to be finished anytime soon.  By summer both of my pregnant daughters will no longer be pregnant, but this abuela/author has plenty to keep her busy.

More quilts and comforters than our summer-like January temps require, but every baby needs lots of beautiful blankets.

More quilts and comforters than our summer-like January temps require, but every baby needs lots of beautiful blankets.

And that’s a part of this new world order as well; the changing of the guard.  Or guards; no longer is my life a swirl of noveling feats.  No longer is my dad living with cancer as a side note; his quarterly Lupron shots are like footprints washed away by the rising tide.  My youngest can still see her feet, but has a hard time recalling life before pregnancy.  And truly, all those lives we once lived are gone.  Each day brings a new challenge, and new gifts.  This time last year, I was busy with The Hawk, thinking I could complete it by the end of 2014.  My dad was starting chemotherapy, and both of my daughters were simply themselves, no freeloaders attached.  But nothing remains static.  And while some of these alterations aren’t ideal in outward appearance, they are blessings, a few in odd disguises.

That’s the saving grace in all this, embracing that which looks unembraceable.  Okay, so unembraceable isn’t a word, but that’s the key.  I hate seeing my father so ill, nothing about that seems correct.  But as I gladly anticipate the coming grandchildren, equally I have to accept my dad’s condition.  It’s not easy, nor do I always do it with aplomb.  Yet, griping about this or that is useless, and negativity detracts from the joys.  Sometimes going to my parents’ house is like living in the present and the past simultaneously.  They have two televisions, side by side.  Mom’s is set to westerns, Gunsmoke, Cheyenne, and the like.  Dad’s shows either sports or Law and Order.  While I’m there, I listen to Dad, my eyes noting a black and white screen or vibrant colour, as if I’m straddling two worlds.  Then I’ll gaze at my father, and I see my paternal grandmother, right before we left for Great Britain.  She was dying of lung cancer, her voice raspy and weak.  My dad is starting to sound that way, although much of that is chemo-related.

This is the way life evolves, sometimes so slowly we find ourselves wondering how it was ever any other way.  Sometimes it’s a flash of blinding light, and once we can see again, nothing is as we remembered, sort of like Saul on the road to Damascus.  I guess I’m trying to note these changes, that definitely is the writer in me.  I want to say I remember this very moment, or those over the past weekend, where my youngest was bemoaning still being pregnant to her languishing grandfather, who laughed along with her.

I want to remember this, to tell my grandson and granddaughter.  These are the moments early in our new world order they will only realize via stories.  But this is their history, and it is important.  For all that is lost along the way, I wish to pass along what matters.

Where do I go from here?

So, in the last few days, I’ve made two small quilts, watched plenty of football, chatted with my dad, enjoyed copious amounts of music, plotted out fabrics for future comforters, and made a long list of necessary cleaning.  Today will be full of mopping and vacuuming, but thankfully the writing has already occurred.  For, in addition to noted above, I’ve also added over six thousands words to The Hawk.

And honestly, right next to my husband’s beloved Green Bay Packers advancing to the NFC championship game, managing two chapters’ worth of words is the highlight of my weekend.  Hearing my dad’s chipper voice was also a godsend, but it’s tempered by how he’s achieving that upbeat mood; Dad’s taking a lot of painkillers these days, the late effects of Taxotere not easy to beat.  But at this point, all I want for my father is to be comfortable.  I can further a novel from my own processes.  As for my dad, all I can do is pray and wait.

I don’t know if The Storm Warning was tied into my father’s health, or that once again I’d be pounding on a keyboard, stirring fictional drama.  Thankfully the finished quilts carry far less angst; they are for my youngest, one of which she is fully aware, the other a surprise.  We abuelas have a trick or two up our sleeves, and not all those secrets are novel-based.  Although, some of these fabrics hearken back to my childhood favourite, Babar the Elephant.  The surprise quilt is one of nostalgia, which over the years will turn into memories as I read Babar to little ones, who will grow with the idea that an elephant in a green suit is nothing over which to worry.

Other storms will arise, but wise kingly pachyderms always soothe.

The quilt of which my daughter knows is one for which she helped choose the fabrics.  This was months ago, when Dad felt he had another twenty-five years, right after my daughter learned she was expecting a boy.  Yes, baseball season was in full swing (pun intended), so this little blanket owns a strong autumnal sense, couple with her choice of a woodland theme.  Hedgehogs were a staple of her English childhood, alongside a green-suited elephant.  How that will evolve for her impending offspring will be a joy to discover, which I am greatly anticipating.  It’s not just the novel that’s back on track, but grandmotherhood is knocking on the door, and while I’ve had a small taste of it with Master Z, it’s not entirely the same as what is approaching with my own daughters’ bundles of joy.

It’s like experiencing my dad’s illness from where I stand, fully outside all he endures.  I can ponder his health till the cows come home, but only he can live it.  I can’t explain it better than that.  Yes, I am a grandmother of sorts.  But I’m not yet an abuela.

Still, I’m preparing in the best ways I know how, sewing up a storm, squeezing in the words now that muse is back.  How it returned and why, I won’t question.  I’m simply grateful for the scenes that spill from my fingers, furthering this story.  At least I am in somewhat control over The Hawk.

But not completely in charge, which is probably good.  Soon my life will be dictated by a small new person, who won’t understand Babar and baseball for a few years.  But that little chap will be wrapped in love, via arms and quilts and gentle kisses.  This is the way love is passed, through contact and stories.  I don’t have any sort of road map for it, but that’s all right.  I don’t possess more than an inkling about how The Hawk will end, yet day by day, chapter by chapter, I’m getting there.

It’s like sewing a quilt, or any other metaphor for life; one square, one word, one day at a time…

The Xtandi Factor

Part of my life this year has been spent on the road.  While a couple of those sojourns have gone to the southland, most of those traveled miles have been within the northern part of California.  And much of them have been to see my dad, who has been battling prostate and bone cancer for the last five and a half years.  This time last year, my parents made a journey to my neck of the woods, seeing a doc at UCSF, where chemotherapy was advised.  Taxotere was introduced into Dad’s retinue in late January, 2014.  Suddenly this whole cancer-gig was more than the quarterly Lupron shot and doses of Zytiga, which not longer did the job.

And as it seems, just as speedily another year has passed.  How many miles have been collected by my car, how many miles has my father trekked?  Far more than I’ve traversed, for my dad isn’t the same.  He might have been feeling on top of the world in late September, claiming he had another twenty-five years in the tank, but now in mid-December, he’s a different person.  Radium 223 is still off the shelf, so Xtandi is the next option, a drug similar to Zytiga, taken in pill form.  Dad will start Xtandi this week, and we’ll see if it helps, his PSA and overall demeanor our gauges.  He’s also lost ten pounds since September, the chemo-style nausea having returned, without the chemo.

If you’ve never heard of any of these terms, no worries.  Neither had I, until Dad was diagnosed, but the realm of cancer is like an alternate universe.  We’ve been relatively fortunate; prostate cancer is quite treatable, and some men live for many years.  But not all.  Dad also has COPD, so that complicates matters.  When he was first given this news, I wondered how he would cope with chemotherapy; he has an indefatigable spirit, but the body is a separate element.  The doc at UCSF maintained that Taxotere is a milder form of chemo, compared to other drugs.  And for the first seven rounds, Dad tolerated Taxotere like a champ.  But in the eighth and ninth sessions, Taxotere came out with mean left hooks that left my father gripping the sides of the ring, wondering what in the hell had happened.  There was no tenth dose; in early July, Dad was clearly on the ropes.  But in late September, he had regained strength, his appetite, even his love of ice cream was returning.  Another quarter century looked like a walk in the park.

Two and a half months later, those extra years seem fleeting.  It makes me wonder about the nature of medical intervention, but more, I ponder if one day I am in a similar situation, what I would choose.  Dad isn’t doing this all for himself; he’s doing it for Mom, their children and grandchildren.  We all love him, want him to be around forever.  But forever on this corporeal planet just doesn’t happen.

On other planes, yes.  But not on Earth.

As Christmas approaches, I ask my husband and kids, “Okay, is there anything else you want?”  We’re lucky, for tangible blessings are within our grasps.  But the intangible aspects are all I wish for my father; to be pain-free, to be comfortable, to not be nauseous.  I will never forget coming home from that UCSF appointment in a pouring Bay Area rain, traffic on I-280 at a standstill due to a nasty looking accident just south of San Francisco.  My father’s impending date with chemo butted up against intense gratitude that my husband and I weren’t involved in that collision, that life and death were constantly battling for supremacy.  One year later, I mull over that evening, so many nights and days in between, miles on motorways, a baby born, more on the way.  And my father is still here, telling tales, also looking like a man I have never before seen.  He is still my father, but no longer is he the strong, forceful character of past days.

Where Xtandi fits into all this remains to be seen.  I hope it lowers the PSA, I hope it affords my dad some relief.  But respite isn’t a cure.  Through all of this, I have prayed for the will of God to be done.  And every day that prayer has been answered.  I don’t know why chemo left my father so debilitated, while his PSA bounced right back up as soon as Taxotere stopped being administered.  But I do know that regardless of what Xtandi does or does not do, Dad will continue to chat and joke until he simply can’t.  I’ll keep driving, as long as my car holds up.  Blast the tunes, be they Christmas-themed or tropical pop; Dad’s still holding court.  I’m ready for another road trip, on this concrete and ethereal pathway taking my father home.

Meanwhile back to a pre-autumnal, post-Taxotere world…

For many days I’ve been feeling autumn’s pull, even if the temps are warm.  It was like this in England, around the beginning of August, when the long summer days began that fall-like shift.  But fall there is autumn, a term which has followed me back to America, still clinging tightly.  Summer is the same, trying to reaffirm its grip, but autumn hovers in the manner of how shadows fall, in the cooling of the evenings, in kids going back to school.

For all intents and purposes, summer is over.

However, being this is California, warm days will linger until November.  Still, I started out this day in jeans; I haven’t worn jeans first thing since, oh my goodness, May?  It’s been so dang hot in Silicon Valley this summer that even typing the word autumn feels ominous, like it won’t appear, rain won’t fall…  Well, rain might not fall, but that’s a defeatist attitude, and since Dad’s chemo has ended, I’m trying to keep an optimistic mindset.  Dad’s pretty darn upbeat, I should be too.

When I tell someone my dad just went through nine rounds of chemo, automatically they give me a worried gaze, which is probably normal.  But having weathered that storm all spring and much of summer, now it feels strange, for chemo is done, Dad’s already thinking about the next weapon in the battle.  Radium treatments are the most likely armament, and he was mulling those over well before chemo ended.  The strange part is that none of this is going to cure him; prostate cancer has moved into his bones, and in a month, we’ll know just how much further that illness has invaded.  Dad’s getting another bone scan, for his PSA went up to 16 after a low of 6.2.  I realize these are small numbers, PSA-wise, but it was disappointing that as soon as chemo ended, the PSA shot right back up.  We’d all been hoping for a reprieve, maybe a few months’ worth even.

Uh, no.

Of course, this is much harder on my dad and mum than on any of us kids and grand-kids.  But as a family we share in their trials, also in Dad’s triumphs.  His willingness to dive back into the world of cancer treatments amazes me, for how all-out lousy he felt with chemo’s eight and nine.  He’s not even back to feeling 100% yet, although his appetite has returned.  Sometimes after a meal he feels sick, his legs are still weak.  It hasn’t even been two months since his last dose of Taxotere, but here he is, investigating the next option.  Life is short, I can hear him saying; you gotta git ‘er done.

Life is a season of many taskings, from novels and quilts to treatments and road trips.  Sports come and go; football is right at the door, waiting for summer to wind its way into the past, autumn entrenched by falling leaves and dropping temperatures, and in some parts of this nation, an odd wetness that falls from these rather strange-looking gray blobs in the sky.  Oh rain, yes, I remember it well, eleven years of English weather that couldn’t find its way out of a Californian paper bag.  As this autumn knocks on the door, I’m thankful the words continue to tumble like sodden British days that made me pine for sunny American days that now make me ache for soggy English days and….  And on it goes, cycles of this and that and the next available cancer treatment.  But I’m thankful for those treatments, for they mean my dad has something to anticipate, they mean he’s still around.

One of these pre-autumnal days, he won’t be.

But then, neither will I, isn’t that a mouthful?  No one lives forever, which is even more reason to get the words down, sew the quilts, write a blog post.  Okay well, perhaps not that last one, or maybe.  Maybe you get what I’m saying here, which is more than weather and PSA numbers, but the fragility of the whole kit’n’kaboodle.  It’s a precarious thing, life, for what we accomplish, for what remains undone.  I have a quilt staring at me right now, with an unattached binding wondering when in the heck I’m gonna get off this darn computer and get my fanny perpendicular back to the sewing table.

It’s a colourful thing, so maybe the binding blends into it, but I can see it, out of the corner of my right eye.  And more fabric beckons, as does tomorrow’s chapter of The Hawk, in which this writer finally moves the cast into 1963.  But now 1963 is fifty-one years ago, fifty-one years!  How does time move that quickly, how are we supposed to get sorted all that needs to be accomplished?

Git ‘er done indeed, as my dad would say.  Because one of these days, believe it or not, 2014 will be fifty-one years in the past.  I’ll be…  Oh good grief, let’s not go there.  Instead, let’s return to the mountain from the top of the post, a peak my husband sometimes climbs, a peak recently made even more accessible by a car park just opened for all from eight in the morning until an hour past sunset.  A few nights ago my hubby drove us up there, and I purposely didn’t look past the front windscreen as he did so.

Yet, the view is stunning, all of Silicon Valley spread out like a vast English rain cloud.  It’s 2014, my dad is seventy years old.  I’m forty-eight, with words to write, comforters to sew, love to give.  Cancer to address, a family to support, and rain to hope for, amid other things…

No more chemo…

That was the title of my mom’s most recent email to my siblings and me.  After nine rounds of Taxotere, Dad has said no mas…

I don’t think it was a difficult decision, although Dad wasn’t quite sure when we last talked about this, over a week ago.  Yet, I could see this coming at the party; he was as weary as I’ve ever seen him, gripping his cane, along with the arm of whoever was near.  But his smile still shone, his words upbeat, albeit spoken in a voice thin and tired.  That was what ended the chemo; Dad is tired of being so dog-gone tired.  His PSA only dropped .2 last month, down to 6.2, which is wonderful compared to his numbers at the beginning of this year, in the low 80s.  Now we wait, which is all anyone can do, to see how the PSA responds, and how Dad heals.  Chemo was to aid in this battle, but what a brutal tool it has been.

Still, none of us bemoan these past months; life is a cycle of ebbs and flows, and my father isn’t the only one with health issues.  The Brother-In-Law Quilt is (finally) coming together, and while it’s still plenty hot in California, I want it to be finished before that BIL has his own medical procedures.  Not that my BIL is going to need a quilt to stave off the chills, but I hope this blanket will warm his heart, as surgery looms.  This quilt is sort of saying, “Yes, serious treatments sit on the horizon, but soon enough they will be over, and cooler days will have come, and you can stay toasty under this rather busy comforter.”

Ten rows done, with # eleven pinned and waiting to be attached...

Ten rows done, with # eleven pinned and waiting to be attached…

And be thinking of hunting trips for 2015 too.

Camo binding waits patiently...

Camo binding waits patiently.

However, not all quilts are camo-themed; I’m back to florals and bright prints, for a family who needs some quilty love.  The fabrics below will form some mum-daughter quilts to go along with the toddler patchwork which has already been removed from the quilt wall, to make room for another expression of affection.  It’s like instead of a get well or miss you card, I throw together a quilt.  Dad started the mission, and on it goes.

The fabric on the right was what I used for curtains, and I was so pleased to find more of it!

The fabric on the right was what I used for curtains, and I was so pleased to find more of it!

Maybe my youngest daughter was right, when coining my quest, that everyone needs a quilt.  In between revisions, baseball, and the annual housecleaning extravaganza (yesterday it was the interior of my fridge and hallway baseboards, today is the living room dusting and baseboards), quilts are pieced together with the utmost of love and care.

And tomorrow will take care of itself, PSA-wise and whatever else comes along.

The Days Are Just Packed

I’m stealing a Calvin and Hobbes book title, but it’s the plain truth.  Except for my daughter’s wedding two years ago, I’ve not been this busy in ages.  It feels good, because while I’m only getting older, I’m still able to do what I like, which lately has been quilting.  And driving.  Not much writing, none really, but that’s all right.  There is a time and season for all things.

Scrappy's Big Sis waiting on the quilt wall...

Scrappy’s Big Sis waiting on the quilt wall…

2014 has been a year of fabric.  And chemotherapy.  I *hope* 2014 stands as an anomaly for the latter, a beginning for the former.  It hasn’t been much of a year for words, other than those exchanged with my dad in batches while he has Taxotere pumped into his veins, then more chats as that medicine alters his body.  Chemo #10 is eleven days away, the last round.  Dad just turned seventy, which is itself quite a feat, but mixed with his recent battles stands out to me even more.  We’re throwing him a big party this upcoming weekend, another event squeezed into a summer that has raced past, ticked off by quilts and road trips and sports.  Truly the days are teeming with adventures.

Nearly two months later, I started to put together this quilt, which initially was going to be for me, until the Birthday Quilt came along.

Nearly two months later, I started to put together this quilt, which initially was going to be for me, until the Birthday Quilt came along.

Recently I finished the Former Roomie quilt; unbeknownst to my eldest, I also sandwiched into that endeavor Scrappy’s Big Sister, which I gave to my daughter yesterday, a surprise for which she was very pleased.  Yesterday Germany beat Argentina for the World Cup, while the Giants managed to blow Arizona out of the proverbial water with two grand slams, one from their power-swinging pitcher Madison Bumgarner.  I don’t begrudge missing those games, for we visited with our eldest and her other half all afternoon, Buttercup too.  I hadn’t expected to see them until this weekend’s big bash, hence the green scrappy quilt staying on the QT.  However, now I can note that quilt’s completion, amid the scattered remnants of this post.  I made the rows in mid-May, and there they sat on the quilt wall until last week, when strips of green were sewn between them, the whole thing a scrap-lover’s heaven, from the pieced-together batting, backing, and binding.   That quilt is indicative of my summer, what with revisions here and there, me as well, up and down freeways trying to piece together all that matters most.

For some strange reason as I sewed the rows together, the quilt began to shift, like it wanted to be an Aztec temple.  I didn't understand this at all...

For some strange reason as I sewed the rows together, the quilt began to shift, like it wanted to be an Aztec temple. I didn’t understand this at all…

My dad, my kids, quilts and plots.  And my husband, when I get a chance to see him.

But sometimes that is how life is; more irons in the fire than one has irons!  And surprisingly the only side effect seems to be driver’s elbow; my left arm, just under my elbow, aches after about ninety minutes of driving.  I dug out a strap I used when stitcher’s elbow was a problem, which seems to alleviate the pain.  That denotes my age, which I cannot change.  Otherwise, I feel good, what with piles of shirts to cut into 4.5″ squares for my brother-in-law’s quilt.  That’s the next project on the sewing table.

Shirts my BIL donated to the cause, plus some camo, as he's an avid hunter.

Shirts my BIL donated to the cause, plus some camo, as he’s an avid hunter.

Maybe this seems like a lot, maybe summertime is when the body, and mind, are supposed to take it easy.  I wanted to start writing the sequel for Heaven…Mississippi this month, don’t think that’s gonna happen.  I wanted my SF Giants to maintain that massive lead over the LA Dodgers, and well…  Well, at least San Francisco took the series from the Diamondbacks.  The All-Star break starts today, even ballplayers need a day off.  But as for this quilt-crazy author…

Snapped by my youngest last week as I hand-sewed Scrappy's binding while we watched footie semi-finals...

Snapped by my youngest last week as I hand-sewed Scrappy’s binding while we watched footie semi-finals…

Not so much in the way of rest and relaxation until the weekend, once deviled eggs and fruit salad are made, corn husked and placed into pots of boiling water.  Those are our contributions to the birthday party, and after I’m sure they have been sorted, I’m going to find my dad, who will probably be inundated with kids and grandkids and friends.  I may not do more than shoot him a friendly smile, to which I may not receive much beyond an understanding grin.  And if we get a few minutes to chat, perfect.  His voice is pretty raspy, but that doesn’t seem to hinder all he has to say, about the present, the past, even the future.  He has plans, in case the Taxotere doesn’t quite keep his PSA in check, radium treatments one possibility.

The finished second scrappy quilt!

The finished second scrappy quilt!

But that’s months down the road, hopefully further even.  Maybe this time next year, God willing.  And God willing, I’ll still be quilting, and hopefully writing, and maybe those Giants will be winning.  In the meantime, there is this day, which has a list of to-do’s already waiting.

Scrappy backing too...

Scrappy backing too…

Writing this post isn’t on the list, more of a way to get my morning started properly, as jasmine tea is sipped, windows open to catch some early cool breezes.  The day is packed indeed, but there is always room for a little more love.

I don’t always make sense, but I do make quilts…

 

Four rows sewn; this was how it started.

Four rows sewn; this was how it started.

I said those very words yesterday afternoon to my husband while explaining how I quilted the Former Roomie Quilt.  Instead of following along the rows with a quarter-inch seam, I sewed halfway through the squares themselves.  And by the end of the day, I had quilted that baby, including the scant quarter-inch seam around the perimeter.  This morning, I’ll attach the front of the binding.

So many steps in quilt-making, but then, many good things in this life are based upon building blocks, and sometimes those steps aren’t easy to explain.  Tutorials do wonders for something like sewing; they’re not so handy for writing.  I couldn’t sit in front of a camera, or narrate a power point about how to write a novel.  Writing a novel is far more invisible, much like making a baby.

But quilting, well, it’s a tangible process, that gives me intense pleasure, especially since I came across a tutorial that makes the final stages of sewing the binding a breeze.  Sometimes I wish I could locate a site that explained how to leave a manuscript alone for say, oh, two and a half years, then come back to it with a viable plot.  I’ve recently done that with Heaven…Mississippi, but then I wonder if that’s the fate of The Hawk.  In two, four, or eight years, after how many ever quilts have been fashioned, might I return to that behemoth and give it a conclusion?

About two-thirds put together.  But many stitches remain.

About two-thirds put together. But many stitches remain.

No tutorials available to answer that question.  It’s much like my dad and chemotherapy; he just had his ninth dose, one more to go.  His PSA is down to 6.8, but will it remain that low once the Taxotere is truly out of his system?

Inquiring minds are dying to know…

As I tried to explain to my husband my new quilting process, he was watching the Giants.  The Giants…  I’ve given up on them, for now.  Maybe that doesn’t make me a very loyal baseball fan, but through the month of June they squandered an 8 1/2 game lead over the Dodgers, and just typing that makes me a little heartsick.  I was safely tucked away in the sewing (but not that much writing) grotto, yet, San Francisco managed to pull out a win, behind the erratic but formerly brilliant (and two-time Cy Young award winning) Tim Lincecum.  Maybe Timmy is indicative of my writing, at this current moment, aching to return to its previous glory.  But I have to give thanks for the plot stirring in my head, which doesn’t have to do with The Hawk, but characters just as beloved.  I left Kendall, Sarah, Heath, and Ben dangling on a rather thin line, but now I have a notion of how to rescue them.  And while no, it doesn’t have to do with quilting, it does have a lot to do with my dad’s current path.  When my husband and I visited him together last, Dad bemoaned how crappy he felt, and what lousy company he was.  I remarked that if he didn’t mind us coming to see him, we certainly weren’t bothered.  He smiled, for I know he loves the distraction, what he said more than once as we readied to leave.  That we had made the last two hours fly by, even if he spent all of that time huddled under a blanket, spitting up, or dabbing at his watery eyes.  After nearly thirty weeks of chemotherapy, Dad is showing all the typical signs, but his spirit is mostly unflagging.  I put all these symptoms and moments under my writing hat, where by now they are crammed tight, waiting for release.

What I didn’t know three years ago, when I wrote Heaven Lies East of the Mississippi, was that I had to wait for my father to undergo chemotherapy to complete that tale.

Awaiting the binding (and for the seamstress to finish this blog)...

Awaiting the binding (and for the seamstress to finish this post)…

Now, I could be daunted by that fact; what in the world will I endure to finish The Hawk?  Maybe very little, maybe…  Let’s not go there.  Instead, let’s concentrate on quilts, or the Former Roomie Quilt, which by the end of this day will have an attached front binding, and probably a good part of the back binding hand-sewn into place.  Not while baseball’s on, mind you.  The Giants start an inter-league series with the A’s, oh jeez.  I’ll sequester myself in some baseball-free zone, as a needle carefully winds in, then out, of the fold in the binding.  Another quilt coming under the hammer, another book waiting in the wings.  Another day of my life on a journey I never expected in the sewing, noveling, and cancer-witnessing variety.  It doesn’t always make sense, but it all means something.