After a lie-in, I spent the morning padding about the house in my pyjamas and my mother's slippers, mopping the floor and scraping dog hair off the sofa, while Dad mowed the lawn. Such is the pastoral lifestyle. Mum's back in hospital, after being finally strong-armed into calling up her nurse & describing her symptoms - fever & rigors coming & going over a period of 10 days. It appears she's finally reached a regularity of health complaints at which the "normal" bar has been lowered to near-drowning. It was actually a relief when the doctor diagnosed E. Coli, and declared her kidney function normal for the purposes of pumping her balloon-full with antibiotics. Between the medicine, the morphine and her regular sleeping pills, she's gone a little dotty, but every day she gets closer to skin-coloured (notwithstanding the bruising from numerous failed attempts to find a vein) - the rigors have stopped and her appetite has returned.

There were about three or four days that Dad & I spent getting progressively more worried, and when she was admitted, utterly freaked out. Carrying around that kind of horror for a few days at a time, and sometimes weeks, has become pretty standard for Dad, which is the real horror. It's only recently I realised that the transition - putting things off until mum got better - is not going to be transitory. Whatever we do, we need to build "mum being sick" into every equation. The crisis periods such as this most recent one are actually pretty brief in proportion to the timeline of diagnosis, treatment and recovery, but it's at those times the whole ordeal of living-with-cancer seems relentless.

Anyway, that was the realisation that prompted me to build a regular commute into my own lifestyle, and despite our family's own personal Damocles' Sword, I'm richer for it; also remarkably fortunate that I hooked a job that doesn't require my physical presence. I've been spending two or three weeks at the farm every couple of months, and the periodic schedule change is starting to feel normal: work / gym / Ben-for-the-weekend in Auckland, work / a little light farm work / prepare dinner (animals & people) / external-hard-drive-full-of-tv-shows on the farm. Work's been just busy enough that I've had both time and momentum to pursue a bunch of other projects while I've been here - learning to drive (finally), consolidating my mighty virtual empire, blogging (a means to its own end), and swotting up on basic alpaca maintenance. I've gotten the hang of capitalising on my work-momentum during the slow days/half-days/hours by perfecting mental-direction switches on the fly. There's also something to be said for the lack of distractions in a countryside routine - I'm in charge of creating my own entertainment (especially since I'm subject to Dad's taste in TV - not bad per se, but heavily weighted in favour if docos, Mythbusters, and Grand Designs), so I might as well make it constructive. Anyway, upshot is it's encouraging to be so productive. Perhaps tomorrow I'll finally build exercise into my routine. Wrestling alpacas doesn't really count.