Two characteristics stand out in this house, even now. I assume its shape and composition contribute to the strange noises in the night. Of course my apartment exhibits its fair share of creaks and crashes, but it takes a lot to compete with the city's constant white noise, and brick buildings don't subject us to gunshot bangs from the rafters. When the rest of the night is so still, listening to the house settling its creaky bones simply serves to unsettle the occupants.

The second trait is the huge population of creepy crawlies. Only the flies were immediately apparent before Mum got sick, but since she's no longer on her trademark cleaning binges, the house is being gradually overtaken. Any corner or crevice on the deck is swallowed in spider webs (replete with past and future meals), ant colonies move in and ignore the bug bait in favour of anything else exposed, skinks roam around the carport and occasionally scuttle through the house, and assorted one-off weirdos materialise in the bedrooms and bathrooms, usually after the sun goes down. A few nights ago I investigated a strange rustling that I thought was a mouse. It was an earwig, the size of one of the lizards, that had trapped itself in a plastic bag.

After Mum got better, she got worse again. The original infection was beaten, but the fever persisted, and her leg has become so painful that they have her on a morphine pump. Best guess indicates an abscess, for all practical purposes untreatable. After a very frank discussion with her oncologist regarding her short future and her diminishing quality of life, we've decided to bring her home. It doesn't seem to matter that we've been preparing for her eventual demise for so long, it's still too sudden and too soon.

There's a constant mental backdrop of entropy. We can attack the cobwebs with a broom and spray the flies, and tidy the house & mend the fences, but given the size of the house and its encroaching habitat, given the sheer volume of a person's life, putrefaction will eventually prevail. It's no poor truth for an alchemist, but hard.