Galen H meets Gee’s Bend

Two years ago, when I was reeling from my metastatic diagnosis, I retreated to Atlanta for a long weekend to be with my sister. She, wisely, brought me to the High Museum of Art to see the quilts of Gee’s Bend. They were amazing and soul-nourishing, and I swore that the next quilt I made would be in the spirit of Gee’s Bend–made from the recycled fabric of shirts, pants, tablecloths, etc., and pieced back together without regard for perfect alignment. Ultimately, a more organic quilt both in material and in design.

This fall, I dug up the old clothes I had been saving for such an opportunity, and started ripping them into strips. They are the materials of Mark and my life. The shirt he wore the night we met, some pajama pants I wore to shreds, etc., etc.

I ripped them rather than using scissors and estimated their width rather than measuring. What emerged was indeed organic and imprecise. And full of love and stories just like the Gee’s Bend quilts.

Then, however, I said good-bye to the impoverished, artistic, optimistic, inspiring women of Gee’s Bend and embraced my own heritage…

Power tools.

My mother-in-law, an amazing quilter, has started a small business doing quilting in her basement on a machine that would make my father drool. It is huge. And fun to “drive.” The two requirements of any power tool–and guaranteed fun for our favorite Meyer contractor (my dad, that is).

Jane and I loaded the quilt on her machine last Saturday and I quilted like crazy. It was great fun. And the quilt turned out exactly the way I had wanted it to. I haven’t bound it yet. That’s the tedious part, but here it is…

(Oh, I did use scissors on the applique part.)

top view quiltlove birdsside view

notes from Zoe

Mark and I have been enjoying Zoe’s literacy skills lately. She is constantly doing her “kindergarten writing” and has even begun leaving us notes as a way of communication. We find them to be such delightful and extraordinary gifts. Somehow, of all the things she has learned in her almost 6 years, this seems extra cool. Here are a few that we’ve gotten in the last week:
note 1
“Mommy, don’t tell Pop that I will be doing art this morning. Thank you”
note 2
“Would you wake up when I tell you to tomorrow morning please.” (Heh, heh, Mark and I do like to sleep in…)

Then this one came my way, slipped under the door just now. Right when I needed it. My sweet blonde girl, after hearing me talk for the last 24 hours all about my health is…
note 3

Somehow, that’s all that really matters to me.

Good-bye, Femara

Mark and I met with my oncologist this morning and learned that the Femara I’ve been taking for almost two years has lost its effectiveness and the cancer is growing again. The cancer has a slow metabolic rate, so it isn’t growing quickly, but it is definitely on the upward trend, so it’s time to switch meds.

I was quickly given a CAT scan to see more clearly how big the lung nodules are and then, shortly thereafter, given a shot of my new medicine, Faslodex. I will get injections once a month. We’ll be able to see in 2-3 months if it is working.

This switch in meds, while disappointing, is not a huge surprise. The course of action Dr. Campbell mapped out for us two years ago included the switching of meds over decades of time. Perhaps because of this, I don’t feel knocked down and run over. I feel disappointed. And grateful for two years of one medicine. And hopeful for at least two years out of this next one. And the next one. And the next one…

I’m sure I’ll write more about this in the weeks ahead as we feel this uncertainty and hope commingled. But tonight, I’m pooped, and just want to crawl into a warm bed. I had strength for today. And I have bright hope for tomorrow. That’s huge.

going to Grandma’s

Zoe just left to play at my parents’ house for the morning with her cousin Cate. They do this every Thursday morning, and my mom often works in a library story hour or even some performance or other. Zoe looks forward to it all week.

It strikes me again today, as she leaves the house, that Zoe is flush with grandparents. There is a newly redecorated cousin room at my parents’ house, and at the Turners’ house, Zoe has her own room (the perk of being the only grandchild). She has time alone with at least one grandparent every week.

It’s a gift that stuns me.

This week I ran across the one thing that I had requested from my Grandma’s house when she died. Somehow, in my care to preserve them crumbling already, I had hidden them from myself for many years. They are these tiny shoes (about 2 inches long) that sat on her piano in her parlor.

When we went to visit Grandma after Grandpa died, Mom would sit in the kitchen with Grandma and we would try to amuse ourselves with anything we could find. The only game in the house was Ants in the Pants and after we had played that a while and checked for anything cool left over in Uncle Al’s old room, we would troll the parlor for anything we could make a toy of.

tiny shoesThese shoes were it for me. I thought they were so cool. I remember walking them on my fingers across the piano keys, examining the tiny painting on the sides. They kept me occupied for hours and quickly became the first things I sought out upon arrival.

There was no tricked out room at my Grandma’s house–and I remember only rare occasions of having her all to myself. But these shoes bring back to me what I hope Zoe remembers of her own grandparents.

The delight with which the door is opened at her arrival.

The hearty laughter at something she said that she didn’t know was funny.

The unmitigated adoration that is the right of grandparents alone.

you’ve gotta read this

There’s a link on the right hand side of this page to my friend and former pastor Mary’s blog—-Preaching to the Choir.

I read her blog today and the rightness and realness of her post “complete remission” took my breath away, just as her sermons would when she was preaching to us each Sunday.

You simply must read it.

just one more, then I’ll stop

OK, I know the new theme on my blog has been “oh my gosh, the eighties are back.” I promise this will be my last entry about it.

I was minding my own business checking out jeans online and…

a j.crew model has her perfectly good jeans pegged (this is the term I remember for folding them tight, then rolling them up)!

I remember when my fashionable cousin Kokey taught me to do this. It was my entrance into eighties awesome-ness. And a great rescue for a tall girl whose jeans were never long enough anyway!

As has become my fashion mantra, “if you’re old enough to have done it the first time, you shouldn’t do it again.” So, no pegging for me.

(sigh) back to checking for tall-girl jeans.

pegged jeans