Well I'm still drinking as much as I ever did in Queensland. I usually start drinking in the late afternoon and go on drinking happily for about two or three hours until dinner is finished. Then I switch to water because by that time my stomach will have started to hurt. If I try to drink for any longer than this I get a tad rigid on the inside. So the boxes of wine are still being ordered from the online retailer who buys from small wineries that produce in volumes that are too small for the major retailers. The quality is better, too, for the price you pay.
Spiritually I am doing ok. I have recently started up the Book Chat Oz website to accommodate the videos and reviews that me and Grant Hansen, my friend, produce. I am keeping a separate Twitter account for Book Chat Oz as well. I also look after the Twitter account for the Sydney Friends of Myall Creek, which is a non-profit venture aimed at increasing knowledge of our nation's history. Then there's the blog, which I have decided this year I want to post to on a daily basis. That's the aim anyway.
I'm still looking after mum by driving up to her nursing home every two or three days. When I am up there on most days I will try to put through a FaceTime call on mum's iPad to my brother in Houston. The three of us have a good chat, normally one punctuated by a fair quantity of laughter. When we have finished talking I will try to get mum up and on her feet for a walk to the park. She likes to sit in the park to watch the dogs. We will normally sit there on a bench for about 20 or 30 minutes before going back inside.
Deep inside myself I am never quite as happy as when I am writing so it is not entirely reliable to ask me at such moments how I am doing. I love writing and so I anyway include it in among the "spiritual" elements of my life, as I did again today as you can see. But deeper down inside there are still moments of dissatisfaction and a lot of that has to do with my back. Because I sit at my desk so much my back has started to give me messages, usually early in the morning. It started out that the pain was just in the left-hand side, and so when I took the complaint to the doctor he thought it might be something to do with my kidneys. But we had tests done to rule that out. Now the prognosis is more muscle pain until the quantum of exercise increases. In recent days the pain has moderated somewhat, but it is still causing me problems. I actually missed an early-morning dermatologist's appointment recently because the pain had made me go back to bed even though it was still there, reminding me of my mortality. I will often just try to sleep through the pain and so achieve that forgetting that only sleep can bestow on a mortal man, but it's always going to wake me up eventually.
I don't think the back pain is making me drink more, but I do think it is adding to my general level of scatterbrainedness. Pain has that effect. But the real reason is somewhere else. I think it has to do with the fact that I am starting to grieve. My mother is still alive but with the continuing infections and regular hospitalisations I can feel the end coming, and I wait for that day when the call to attend the nursing home - a phone call that will come from the nursing staff on duty - will come during the night. That will be the day of reckoning.
In the meantime I shuffle along in my usual way. I write in the mornings. I read books before bedtime. I watch the news programs. I settle myself down to cook when the time comes around each evening to eat a square meal before bedtime (a square meal before bedtime is one of life's necessaries). I allay the occasional fear. I live with my doubts. I strive to be happy. I comfort my friends.