Tag Archives: Multiple Myeloma

An Open Letter to Mrs. Brokaw

Dear Mrs. Brokaw,

Obviously I don’t know you, we’ve never met, although I – like many Americans – feel that I know your husband. My own husband’s father was a stagehand at NBC for many years, and always mentioned what a mensch your husband was. Stage hands learn pretty fast who is a good guy, and who’s a bit of a prima donna.

So apparently this past Summer you joined the club I joined 7 years ago, spouses of folks with Multiple Myeloma. We also share the fact that our husbands are being treated at the Mayo Clinic, which I consider a very good club to be in, indeed.

You’re in the best hands in the world. When Gerry, my husband, was diagnosed his prognosis was poor, but every year, with new drugs and improved treatment options, his prognosis gets a little better.

Life has never been as precious to us as it as these past few years. We feel amazingly lucky. Excellent work is being done all over the world on this disease, but we’re biased toward the Mayo as we live in Minnesota.

I’m not going to say, “Cancer is a gift” – because it’s not. This is a painful, frightening disease – I hope your husband hasn’t had too much bone damage and subsequent pain.

But what this disease HAS given to our family is a golden opportunity to realize exactly how precious we are to each other, and how wonderful each day we share is. Often at the Mayo we would remark that it felt as though we were on a second honeymoon, except this time with chemo.

You’re not alone. I know it’s presumptive of me to write this note, and by this time you’ve realized everything that I could ever tell you. Know that there are many spouses next to you, standing by your side, all of us loving our husbands and wives, all of us willing to share some strength or just let you know that a prognosis can change for the better, especially with Multiple Myeloma.

All the best wishes for treating this terrible cancer as a chronic condition!

Best,
Annie Modesitt

“I feel like I’m lying…”

Last week was one of the monthly meetings of Gerry’s Stillwater Multiple Myeloma Support Group.

This group has become very important in our lives, the folks involved are lovely – kind, smart, hopeful but not smarmy, a great group to surround ourselves with. We feel fortunate to be part of them.

In the last meeting one member mentioned that he’d been told over 5 years ago that he had ‘probably 2 years’ – very similar to Gerry’s own initial prognosis. He spoke of feeling as if he were “lying” sometimes because he’s outlived the time period he’d told so many folks of when he was first diagnosed.

I feel the same way. Gerry’s here – he’s HERE – I want to go shout it from the rooftops every day because we are so thrilled that HE IS HERE!

But it’s different from our initial expectations.

Folks often stop me and ask about Gerry, or they email; it’s so kind of them. Each time I say some version of the same thing,

“Gerry’s doing well, he’s active, his cancer came back last Summer but we’re handling it with a new drug, and have enough stem cells harvested for 2 more transplants if that’s necessary.”

And all that’s true. But because we’re dealing with the unknown, it also feels like I’m pretending to tell the future, and that feels awkward.

If I were to speak from fear, I’d say, “I’m afraid he won’t be here long.”
If I were to speak from hope, I’d say, “He’s here, and he will be for a long time!”
But between fear and hope is the reality, and many days I don’t know what that is.

Gerry and I at dinner

Gerry and Annie at dinner

Last Summer/Fall Gerry began experiencing some of his initial symptoms again, and his visits to the Mayo Clinic each month weren’t as sunny and optimistic as they’d been in the past.

We both knew the truth, but didn’t know what they meant. It was like watching a very well made mystery, knowing there was going to be a twist, but having NO idea what that twist would be, or where it would lead.

And, of course, EVERY human lives this way. In our case it’s heightened because the immediacy of cancer is different from general, run-of-the-mill ‘growing old’

Every time I hear of a friend’s passing – or, more to the point, hear of a friend’s spouse passing – I feel like some kind of charlatan. I feel like I should apologize for still having a husband (which I know is insane!) I feel guilty.

My husband’s still here, and wait – wasn’t he supposed to be gone? Didn’t we tell everyone six years ago that by this time Gerry would be a picture in an album and not flesh and blood?

As our friend in the MM Support group said, “I feel like I’m lying…”

How is Gerry right now?

Because I’m a Virgo, I can best answer that in a list;

1. He’s here. After the MM came back, his oncologist put him on Revlimid ($9000/month, thank heaven for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Chronic Disease Fund, who help us with the co-pay!)

Max, Andy & Gerry visiting Carleton

Max, Andy & Gerry visiting Carleton

2. He’s older. And I don’t mean simply 6 years older than he was at diagnosis, he feels more like 26 years older than his 46-year old self. He has the energy levels, strength and vitality of someone in their 70′s (which, these days, isn’t bad at all!)

3. He’s tired. He needs to sleep a lot, but he derives great satisfaction from being an active contributor to family life; he cooks dinner most nights, he does some simple gardening (raking is always good exercise!); he drives the kids around (although I can tell he doesn’t like long drives) and keeps track of our tax information, medical stuff, that kind of family paperwork.

And he takes care of ME! There are days during a fibromyalgia flare up that I feel incapacitated; he helps me get through the rough times, and I am very grateful!

4. He hurts. He has a great deal of pain, it’s constant and even in his sleep I can tell that there are moments of agony. Aside from the Revlimid/Deximethisone cocktail and a probiotic for his digestion, the only medicine Gerry takes on a regular basis is his very strong pain medication.

Gerry & his tall daughter visiting Earlham

Gerry confused by his tall daughter. visiting Earlham

I can tell it bothers him to be ‘on’ oxy and hydro, but we’ve passed the point where he feels guilty about taking them (thank heaven!) and we all understand that to miss a dose is inviting the pain to rise to such a level that it is MUCH harder to quell.

5. He’s Gerry. He’s funny and loving and a pretty wonderful guy. Because of the pain he tends to be more short-tempered than he was before, but given his general sweetness and easy-going nature, it  means he’s STILL nicer than the average human, and we’re so lucky to have him!

This is what the face of Cancer Survival – Multiple Myeloma Survival – looks from one family’s viewpoint.

Ginger the fat cat & Gerry's #1 fan!

Ginger the cat, Gerry’s biggest fan – literally.

The stress of living with the unknown comes and goes, we deal with it, and we try to be as ‘normal’ as we can. We try not to think of every holiday, birthday, event as, “perhaps the last…” because that’s just too emotionally draining and a tad dramatic.

What we DO do is to set goals for ourselves.

We didn’t think Gerry’d be celebrating Max’s Bar Mitzvah, but he did. Next up is Hannah’s graduation from high school, set for June 2014, and all signs point to Gerry’s attendance.

Every day really IS a gift.

Bridging Fear

We think about our lives in different ways, on different days, trying to make sense of the incomprehensible.

Some days I think of my life as a long trip; a rough journey at times, an easy skate at others. In the movie Parenthood, Steve Martin comes to a place of peace when he envisions his life as a roller coaster. I find this a helpful analogy.

But there are periods when my life feels like a war zone – I think all of us feel that way at times – but it’s never been so vivid as in the past few years.

And, of course, being a child of two members of The Greatest Generation, loving history as I do, and making a hobby of reading about Europe in the 1930′s and 40′s, the war I can most easily reference is World War II.

This past year I’ve read several first person accounts of London before, during and after the war. The courage of the citizens is well documented; the steadiness, humor and ability to keep some semblance of a daily routine have resonated in my own personal life.

Early in the war, the citizens of London found ways to cope with incomprehensible terror. But exhaustion and time led to a war-weariness that made subsequent rounds of bombings 4 or 5 years into the conflict harder to bear. I identify with those late-war Londoners, too bone weary to head to the air raid shelters, numb with daily terror.

As many of you know, Gerry, my husband, has cancer. Multiple Myeloma, to be specific. When he was diagnosed in 2007 – soon after our family moved to Minnesota – the prognosis was poor; 2 years. At the Mayo for a second opinion this was reduced to 1 year, and a blessed numbness settled over both of us when we heard that.

A friend refers to this sensation as ‘god’s anesthesia’ and that’s not a bad way to think of the mind block that keeps overwhelming pain at bay. I wrote about our first year with cancer in my book Knit With Courage, Live With Hope, and it was a helpful way for me to face fear head on. I’ve heard from other caregivers that it has been helpful for them, too.

Fast forward 5-1/2 years and Gerry’s still with us, we feel that we are the most fortunate family in the world, even though the anesthesia has long worn off.

And I am exhausted.

This past Autumn Gerry’s cancer came back (his numbers were slowly creeping up since last Spring) and a new round of a trial drug, Revlamid, seems to be working well. His test numbers are up where they should be, down where we want them to be, including the dreaded M-spike.

But during those 5-1/2 years, aside from the many joys that our family has shared, something started happening deep inside of me; the slow, steady, unrelenting rise of fear.

A deep, broad river of apprehension runs through my life, fed by tributaries of dread and panic.

The first fear is obvious; fear of losing Gerry. But in the time we’ve had since his diagnosis I’ve lost so many friends and family members that this fear has been wrestled into perspective. It’s an understandable fear.

Right behind that first fear are all of the regular fears anyone in my position might feel: fear that I won’t be able to earn enough to keep the family going; fear that the kids will be strongly affected in a negative way by our experience; fear that Gerry will have more pain. All understandable fears.

The less understandable fears are the ones that haunt me: Fear that I won’t deal with this graciously (I haven’t at times); Fear that I will be harshly judged by outsiders (I have at times); Fear that as I struggle through this adventure I’ll behave in ways that are erratic and incomprehensible (I’ve done this, too).

And these fears, in turn, breed next generation fears that often DO overwhelm me: Do folks look down on me because I’m unable to cope with the fear? Am I really just plain weak, deep down inside? If I ride my bike an average of 8 miles a day and eat fairly well, why can’t I get thinner? (okay, this last more of a whine than a fear…)

Enumerating these anxieties helps me understand how fear can spiral out of control, overtaking common sense with panic, shoving self esteem out the door and replacing it with it’s doppelganger, pride.

Unlike self-respect, which is positive, life enhancing and resilient,
pride can be easily bruised and shattered.

Then, on the worst days, terror comes in uninvited. It kicks pride to the curb and allows self doubt, self loathing and self hatred to make a house call.

All of this anxiety creates stress, which overwhelms me.

I’m certain that – to a large degree – the genesis of my fibromyalgia is rooted in this stress. I believe that my current week-long intense back pain is a product of stress.

Spinning my wheels is how I deal with stress; sometimes I spin my wheels with non-productivity (Tetris and Scrabble, anyone?) and other times I bicycle. The biking is much more effective, and has a double benefit of reducing stress and physical pain while increasing strength and overall fitness.

But it’s winter, not a lot of bicycling is going on, and my body and mind are paying the price. I do yoga in the cold weather, I was swimming but found myself feeling so panicky in the pool that I had to stop, but nothing is like my bike.

It’s been a very rough Winter for me, fearful and painful and so many other bad-ful things. I second guess myself, my work, my abilities, my looks; then I third and fourth guess everything just for good measure. I’ve been in a bad place, re-living every negative interaction I’ve had, replaying every nasty comment I’ve overheard (or over-read), and it hasn’t been helpful.

And because I’m in a rather fragile state, the casual nastiness of an online comment or a thoughtless action are weightier than they would be if I were in a more stable, healthy place of mind.

I need to cross Ol’ Fear Creek, which has so overfilled itself that it’s now a raging whitewater. I’ve tried several times to throw myself into Terror Rapids, only to discover I’m no good with a paddle.

And, at any rate, Terror Rapids is probably a better place to be than Sh*t Creek…

I need to build a bridge over the fear, high enough above the raging river that I don’t get wet as I cross. I’m not exactly certain how to do this, but I feel sure that I have the tools and materials at hand.

Just a portion of his collection.

Passing of a Friend

One of Malcom’s Cacti

We recently lost a friend, a local fellow who lived just a few blocks away and who also had Multiple Myeloma.

Gerry sent a lovely note to his wife, and I wanted to share it on my blog:

I was so sorry to learn of Malcolm’s  passing.  Though we’d only known each other a short time, I feel that I had the opportunity to experience something of his intelligence, wit, and character.

…and another,

Last night I spent some time talking with my son, Max, about the afternoon my family spent at your house.  Malcolm showed us the his cactus collection and, not long before we left, he took Max aside to discuss school, work, and Max’s future.

I asked Max what he remembered about the discussion and he responded, “Malcolm was very thorough.”

and yet another!

“What do you mean”, I said.  And he replied, “When he asked me a question I had to give a real answer and he wouldn’t let me change the subject or ask him anything until I answered completely.”

Clearly Malcolm knew how to focus on a problem without being easily distracted; a skill which probably served him will as a chemist, horticulturalist, and father.

It was an honor to know him and you.

Friends pass, but it feels good to be able to take a bit of their goodness and their gift with us even after they’ve gone.

Gerry Update

A lot of folks at TNNA asked about Gerry, and I figure it’s time for a short update.

Overall, things are very good.  When we consider that 5 years ago we were told that he had 1-2 years, things are exceptional!

Hannah & Gerry, 2012

Gerry’s doing okay – he has good days and bad days.  This spring he had a number of good days all strung together, which was wonderful!

This Summer’s been hard for him so far – me being away in Ohio for 2 weeks with Hannah was exceptionally hard for him – so we’re still recovering from that…

He was in what they called a ‘good partial remission’ because, evidently NO ONE goes into remission from this Multiple Myeloma. 

Hannah & Gerry, 1997

As of a few months ago, though, he’s officially relapsed.  Which was exactly what they told us would happen, but it’s happening 3-4 years later than they projected, so that’s very good.

As of his last visit at Mayo this past month his numbers were holding steady and even improved from the previous checkup (yay!)

If/when he does continue to decline, we have several strategies that the doctors are working on.  The great thing about this cancer, Multiple Myeloma, is that EVERY day seems to bring new breakthroughs, and new ways of dealing with the disease.  Gerry is living proof of that.

We have enough stem cells harvested (from 2007) to allow him to have two more stem cell transplants, but that’s far down the road, and a road that none of us want to go down (especially Gerry!) 

It’s a miraculous procedure, but also incredibly hard, painful, and exhausting.

So that’s what’s up with Gerry!

Judgey Part II – Who Am I? Why Am I Here?

My first interaction with my husband was a letter he sent to me which opened, “Who am I? Why am I here?”

He was referencing James Stockdale who quoted that line in the Vice Presidential debates of 1992, but it’s not a bad question to ask ourselves every now and then.

We have different categories that we fit ourselves into, we switch it up every now and then, we settle into some identities and reject others.

When I was around 15 I had a revelation that we show different sides of our personalities to different people.  Therefore, when someone is considered to have “changed,” perhaps they’ve just shown a different side to their personality.  I was a deep thinker.

No one person is the same to everyone all the time.  We do different little dances with different friends and family members, we strive for consistency, but we don’t always achieve it.

I feel the best we can hope for is keeping a strand of “true” personality running through most of our relationships so that folks can count on us, retaining enough elasticity so we can be flexible when we need to.  Not unlike a nice strand of springy merino…

Some of the Family

My own identity is tied up with my work (designing, teaching and writing), my family, my convictions about being part of a community and – as I addressed in my last blog post – my body identity.

Each of us has a different recipe, a different mix of what makes us the person that the world sees, and that recipe changes as we grow (or shrink) through our lives.

The past few years I’ve been having a minor crisis of identityConfidence?  I’m not quite sure what, but there are days when my neurotic Junior High school self would have been a welcome relief to my own middle-age angst.

The reasons are so obvious that it hardly bears mentioning – and I’m certain that by mentioning them I’ll garner some snarky comments on some chat board somewhere – but they are twofold: Gerry’s illness and my own Fibromyalgia.

Tin Fish, I "work" here sometimes...

Working – designing – as fast as I can, it’s still pretty hard to earn a decent living.  Smarter designers than I augment their incomes with yarn lines, connections to major yarn and knitting tool companies and television hosting gigs.  I admire them for this, and I would by lying if I didn’t admit that I envy them, but I haven’t felt the right kind of energy to pursue this angle yet.  I’d love to, it just hasn’t been in the cards/stars/roll of the dice so far.

But I’m troubled by my envy, by my current lack of visibility, and I’d been trying to find a way to mentally work through this.  I think I stumbled onto it this weekend.

The Analogy Part

As I was riding my bike in the Minneapolis Bike Tour this past weekend I paced myself behind a pair of women who were going just about my speed.  I stayed a good half block behind them for a few miles, feeling like I was almost part of a group, but happy in my solitude.

The First Flat Fixed

Then I began flagging.  I couldn’t keep up, it was getting very hard.  I changed gears, pedaled harder, but off they went, disappearing ahead of me as I found myself grounding to a snail’s pace.  Bye, bye.  Write if you get work…

I was so intent on keeping up, on staying at the same speed, that I hadn’t noticed that at some point in a gravel-and-glass section of a side street I’d picked up something that had punctured my tube.  I had a flat tire.

This was especially frustrating as I’d had a flat at mile 7 of the ride, but that one happened just a few blocks from a pit stop and was fixed so quickly it almost felt as though it hadn’t happened.  I was told by several riders that it was flat-heavy ride this year.

It was raining pretty hard, I was cold and sore, I felt miserable and I ached all over.  I pulled out my cell phone to call Gerry and ask him to come and pick me up, but then I put it away.

I was about 20 miles into the ride and I just didn’t want to give up so easily.

So I walked, pushing my bike along the path and feeling the “Ride, Fat Girl, Ride” logo printed on the back of my shirt burning like a brand of shame and humiliation.

Thin, fast, fully-air-filled-tire riders shot past me, I stumbled on.  Oh, the humanity.  Oh, the humility!

As I hiked to the next pit stop where I hoped I’d be able to get a tire change, I realized that this section of the ride was like a metaphor of my current situation in life.

The Metaphor Part

I’d been shooting along pretty well, designing and writing (3 books in 2 years) and making appearances.  Then I got a flat – our family got a flat; Gerry got sick.

We put all of our efforts as a family into getting through it, and now we’ve found a different dynamic.  After his stem cell transplant in 2007 Gerry’s Multiple Myeloma has become something we try to think of as a chronic illness rather than terminal cancer.

Gratuitous Peek at a New Hat

Gerry has a lot of pain, he has to rest a lot and his activities are severely limited, but he’s here for all the important reasons (love, laughter, support)  He’s here for all the reasons I married him, and in all the ways that make him a great dad and wonderful person.

Continuing on, just as our family was finding a new groove, I got sick.  Not sick like Gerry, not life threatening, but definitely income and identity threatening.

Fibromyalgia certainly isn’t going to kill me, and I’m learning new strategies every day to deal with it, but it’s something I can’t ignore.  The energy it takes to keep track of my energy is wearying.  I find myself beating myself up constantly for not being able to get as much done as I used to 5 years ago (not helpful) and there are times I become rather depressed and allow myself to feel useless.

Which is not true.

But sometimes we let our minds go to dark places, I’m not alone in that.  Comparing myself to folks who are able to ride past me right now (with their fancy air-filled tires) isn’t helpful, but it’s human, and it’s understandable.

I’ve been guilty lately of judging myself very harshly based on things that are a bit out of my control.  I feel guilty that I do something I love so much (knit design) but which brings in precious little money and no insurance.

I’ve been applying – and interviewing – for several jobs locally but each long process has ended – as it has for so many folks these days – with a “Thanks, but no thanks – you were our #2 candidate, but we’re going in a different direction…”

And then I begin to feel worthless.

Which is also not true.

The slight relief I feel when I get turned down for a job is in direct proportion to how many fibro flare ups I’ve had that month.  There is a nagging fear that if I did snag a job, I’d be unable to do as well as I need to while trying to adhere to a schedule that may not take into account my body’s current oddnesses.  That’s one of the big benefits of designing/writing/teaching – I can generally do it at my own schedule, or gear up for a teaching weekend by getting a LOT of rest before and after.

The Wisdom Part

I want to take away some kind of gift, some wisdom, from this metaphor.  So I ride my bike like a maniac.  The energy it takes is a small investment for the energy + joy + pain relief I get back in return.

There have been online
mentions that I must be faking
the fibro if I’m able to bike so far,
I assure everyone that’s not true.
Spend a few days with me and you’ll
see how movement is rather difficult.

I try not to judge myself too harshly, I try to be smart and hard working and organized (organization is one way to circumvent energy loss) and I try to remind myself on a daily basis that self-love isn’t indulgent.

In the same way that as I walked my bike this past weekend, concentrating on keeping my body warm and stretched so I didn’t freeze up, I continue designing and writing and teaching.  Maybe not at the speed and level I did when I had a full tire, but I can’t let myself get cold.

If I let myself listen to the harsh, judgey voices I’ll definitely freeze up, slow down, maybe even sit in a sad heap on the curb in the rain and begin to melt away.  So I try to either ignore the judgey voices, reason with them or sing really loudly.

Rainy Pit Stop, With Extra Oranges!

I’m still working out a good strategy to get me to the next pit stop where I can, hopefully, get my flat fixed, have a gluten free snack and a drink of water and get back on the road.  That’s why it sometimes takes me a long time to blog, to get my newsletter out, or to get some designs worked up and written down.

But if you look for me, I’m there.  I’m strolling along the side of the road in the rain balancing my handlebars in one hand, a slice of orange in the other, singing.

THAT Direction

We’ve sort of been waiting for this, expecting this, for a little over 2 years.

We’d almost convinced ourselves that it wouldn’t happen, even as we would take any opportune moment to remind each other (and anyone who would listen), “We’re very lucky, but the luck can’t last forever…”

Gerry’s IgG numbers are elevating.

We’d gotten used to the numbers either going down, or staying steady.  Moving in no direction, static, flat.

Now they’re moving up from the 1,300′s in the Fall, to the 1,500′s in Feb, up almost to 1,600 now.  That’ moving out of normal range, and is probably the harbinger of a relapse.  Or not.  Or it is.

The indecision of this disease, Multiple Myeloma, compels us to become VERY zen in our outlook.

I’m having a rough time myself right now.  On our trip to Mount Rushmore Max and I developed bronchitis (he’s better, I still sound like Brenda Vaccaro) and Gerry picked it up on Tuesday.  Max is better, I’m recovering, but Gerry’s feeling bad with nausea, headache, fever, chills – the whole enchilada.

In the midsts of this, the phone call from his Oncologist asking him to come in for another blood test feels like an out-of-body experience, as if we’re watching it on a made-for-TV movie.  Maybe one starring Brenda Vaccaro?

Ireland?

I have a certain amount of – well, not guilt – but amazement at my hubris in taking my family to Ireland.  I’d find myself thinking, “Who do you think you are?  Taking your family to Ireland when you’re losing your health insurance on July 1.  Shouldn’t you be saving every penny?”

I just don’t know.

We’re swapping houses with a couple in Ireland who are coming to St. Paul for their son’s law school graduation.  Max & my tickets are paid for with frequent flier miles, I found a pretty good fare for Gerry and Hannah, so the total cost for the trip (figuring for extras) should be about $2,000.

For 3 weeks that seems like an amazing bargain, which quells a bit of my – ahem – guilt.

Now that Gerry’s MM numbers are moving in the direction we’d hoped they wouldn’t, I feel even more firmly that our trip to Ireland is the right thing for us to do.  Life is finite, opportunities don’t always repeat themselves.

So upon our return to St. Paul what will we be facing?  How long will it be until we’re back at the Mayo?  Will Gerry need another stem cell transplant, or can he get by with a new course of a drug like Revlimid?  How sick will he get?  Will he have more pain?

One thing we will know is that we’ll face what comes next with the knowledge that we are united, a strong family and trying hard to continue to thrive & create memories every day.

We’re VERY grateful that although I won’t be covered by insurance, Gerry’s covered with that Social[ist] Security Disability Insurance & Medicare.  Thank god that – without it I have no idea how we’d be getting through this period, between Gerry’s illness and my own reduced earnings due to my own brain-melting fibromyalgia adventure.

Folks have said really kind things to me, that I’m brave, or that I’m handing this with grace, but  I feel neither brave nor graceful right now.

I just feel scared, self-questioning, feeble & weak. Have I missed anything?  Oh, yeah, self pitying.

I woke up last night feeling terrified, too damned sick to give my family the full strength and comfort they deserve right now.  Thankfully, the feeling passed when the sun came out.

I apologize for the purely self centered stream of this post.  This is what trying to figure out how to keep a slowly sinking ship afloat looks like.

Once we’re bailed out a bit, we can decide in which direction we need to move.

Does anyone know how to sail?

In Happier News

Since neither Max nor Hannah had school today, it was the perfect chance for Max’s orientation meeting Breakthrough St. Paul (BSP).  This is the program that’s been SO great for Hannah for the past 2 years, and which Max has been accepted into!

It was a GREAT meeting, we chatted about what Max will do over the summer, what classes he might take, and how he can begin working on some projects while we’re in Ireland (he wants to visit some castles, excellent research for a budding architect!) The best part was that Hannah was so proud of Max (and so proud of herself – she made it into the Breakthrough Leadership Program and will continue to attend BSP over the Summer & into the school year.)

One of the perks for Hannah is that she’ll get to go on a week-long camping trip to hone her leader (and follower) skills, and she may qualify for her own laptop to do her homework.  It will be a new experience for her as we’re a Mac family and the laptop is a PC, but she was buzzing with excitement.

After the meeting we came home, and while Gerry slept the kids helped me change the storm windows and do some Spring cleaning.  We have to get our house in shape for non-family to reside here for a month!

In Knitting News

I’m having a wonderful time working out a pattern for some Tabi socks (split toe socks.)  It’s been one of the most fun, and one of the most challenging, patterns I’ve worked up.  I’m trying very hard to make it intuitive, to allow the increases and decreases to follow a logical route, so I’ve ripped out this darned sock at least a dozen times so far.  I’m very happy that I’m using worsted weight yarn!

Another ribbed and lace project, a cardigan, waits for me (the yarn is Louisa Harding’s Mulberry, it’s exquisite) and – of course – there is always the Gripsholm Jacket sleeves to return to.  So much wonderful work – if only I could do it in a more timely & efficient manner!

A special note – while in Ireland I’ll be teaching a short 2-hour class in Combination Knitting at This Is Knit in Dublin!  I’ll also be doing a book signing, and I’d love to see any Dublin area knitters while I’m there!  The class & signing will be on Sunday, May 2.  YAY!