Saturday, February 27, 2010

Money, money, money

I've been earning money this month. Weird that it should happen just when I'm already running in three other directions, but that's the way life is. Suddenly all of my potential income streams started producing small amounts at once. I got a paycheck for playing the funeral (which I hadn't asked for, nor expected), I've been commissioned to do some knitting, and I've got my first paying editing job. I'm most excited about the editing job, as editing is something I've always done for friends and family for free, not for pay.

I've been hired by a grad student whose first language is not English to edit her papers from now until through her dissertation. The rate isn't high, as she doesn't have a lot of money and I don't feel right about charging full professional rates my first time out the gate, but it's not rock bottom either, and it should be a small but steady income stream. Judging by the first paper, it should be rather fun too. She's a good writer with interesting ideas, but some significant English grammar problems. As opposed to the last friend I helped with editing, who was perfectly fine with grammar, but unfortunately just wasn't a particularly good or interesting writer. It's a lot harder to make a blah idea sound interesting than to clean up tense agreement.

Dad W's problems with fatigue are continuing. The weekly Procrit injection check showed a low-grade fever, low blood pressure, and his lowest CBC yet. His temperature is back to normal today though, so we may be over the hump. Radiation is Thursday, and I have no idea if they're going to keep him overnight or not. Unfortunately there's no telling until we see how he reacts to the procedure on the day. I'm beginning to wonder how much the radiation specialist is paying attention to Dad's actual condition, though. According to Rob, the doctor told him Dad should be walking a mile a day, which just is not going to happen any time soon. I would consider getting him to go once around the block a miracle. Up three houses and back is a good day. Fortunately his oncologist and the chemo guy both seem to be paying a little more attention. The oncologist started him on the Procrit, and I'm going to see if she's willing to send Dad to a PT the next time we see her.

Robbie may be having his orange belt test here fairly soon. Sensei started pretesting him last week, and says that if he can do a good run-through the next time they're both in class, then he'll schedule in the test. One of our older boys is getting ready for his green belt test, and the two of them may well test on the same day. L will be thrilled if he gets to test soon, as this will leap him ahead of his older brother and mother - up until now they've all tested simultaneously, but L has been here at least once a week since the beginning of the year, while the rest of the family has been skipping more often than not. They have good reason, but good reasons don't make up for missed class time.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Round Two!

Yesterday started Dad W's second round of chemo/radiation. They put in the chemo beads yesterday morning. They'll sit around and do their job for about two weeks, whereupon we go back and toss in the radiation beads.

This round is looking like it's going to be rougher than round 1. First of all, Dad W's condition has slipped somewhat since the first round, primarily due to being snowed in a lot, and a subsequent lack of motion on his part. If the weather is nice, I can sometimes get him to go out to the Y, or to walk a few hundred yards up and down the street (It really doesn't take much to count as "exercise" for him right now. Taking a shower is downright aerobic.), but if the weather is bad, getting him to move inside the house is pretty much a write off. Secondly, he's reacting more badly to both the procedure (they kept him overnight this time as he was vomiting and nearly aspirated a couple of times), and then to the chemo itself - he's been on pain medication most of today, when last time he needed barely any.

In ways both funny and alarming, Dad is also showing signs of intermittent confusion. Most of the time he's perfectly well oriented, but sometimes not so much. For example, earlier in the week he woke me up at 5am, demanding to know when I was going to start cooking dinner. He had woken up, and thought it was 5pm. I got him oriented and back to sleep, only to have him repeat the scene almost exactly twice more in the next two hours. I'm not sure if this is a reaction to the treatment, to the cancer, or something else (I know the procrit he's on can cause TIA's for example).

Poor Rob is a wreck right now. He flew in from his month out of country (he worked 24 of the 28 days he was down there, averaging 12 hour days), and arrived Thursday afternoon, only to have to get up at 4:30am to get Dad off to the hospital. Now the plant here is having internecine wars over who gets first dibs on him to fix their stuff. The curse of competency strikes again. OTOH, unless the plant is threatening to blow up, they will leave him alone tomorrow, or I will have something to say about it (to them, not to him). They lived without him for 28 days, they can survive long enough for him to have a day off.

I have survived my six weeks of being acting organist at church. R is back now, which is good, since I've blown straight through my entire repertoire. Last week we had a short notice (though not exactly unexpected, the lady was triple digits old) funeral, and I had to figure out how to hack my way through Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring in four days. I am quite possibly prouder of making it through that piece acceptably, if not exactly in grand style, than I am of the other six weeks. I put in more than twenty hours of practice in four days, very nearly getting snowed in at church one night, when it started snowing just as I arrived to start practice - which would have been a rude shock to Dad and the kids when they woke up in the morning. When R gave me my assignments for my next lesson, he handed me a new piece with the following comment "Don't expect to have this down in a week, or even a month. This will be about a year-long project - it's about as hard as Jesu, Joy." Which just made my jaw hit the floor. Jesu, Joy is a year long project piece? And I just played it from scratch in four days? Holy crap!

In karate news, I'm finally getting back to practice regularly - between the snow and the family obligations, I didn't get in much in January. I've passed Chatanyara no Sai to Sensei's satisfaction (if not mine, it still feels very choppy to me), and he's started teaching me Urashi Bo. I have very mixed feelings about Urashi - on the one hand, it's a bo kata and I do love my bo. It's also got a lot of cat stance with a forward block, and that's one of my best stance/move combinations, making this an potentially excellent competition kata for me. On the other hand, it's an inherently choppy kata, without a smooth flow even when performed by the people who are acknowledged to be great at it, which I don't much care for. We'll have to see how I feel about it when I'm not stopping every other move to remember what comes next.

Also congratulations, Bill, on your orange belt in jiu-jitsu! I know I already told you on the phone, but thought it deserved reiterating here.