Gone bald 
I regretfully announce that my hair and I have parted company. Well, some of it. Some bits dug in and clung on. Other bits fell out everywhere. The result was a bit of a mess, so I'm down to a Number One at the barbers. Sarah's OK with it. Rachael insists I wear a hat!

Currently on antibiotics. Spent yesterday in bed. Obviously I caught something during my low-immunity phase last week. But I seem to be bouncing back today. Managed to jump the queue at the doctors. They've been told I'm on chemo of course, so I went in straight away. I'm hoping for a good week and a half to catch up on things before the next round.

Meanwhile, we're now looking forward to the delivery of a couple of kayaks. Rachael has to do some form of physical activity for her Duke of Edinburgh's Gold award. She's managed to fudge it so far, but this time Mum says she has to do it properly! So a friend brought round some kayaks for her to try out, and she really enjoyed it. So did Sarah. Hence we've ended up getting two. Of course, we've only got the dam to play on, and no means of transporting them, but Rachael's happy.

Bronwyn has been busy. She's still doing up to 3 days at work, plus 15 hours doing the childrens' work at church. Having been through the cupboards and the laptop she's investigating new programmes and activities. Apparently the new DVD-TV didn't work today, so they had to bring The Big One down from the loft. Playdough worked well, provided it stays away from the carpet. But on the whole, things seem to be working out well.

Hot and dry for once. Rach and Bronwyn are out wrapping hay, and we've been keeping an eye out for maggotty sheep. Harley got quite badly eaten and lost a lot of weight, but she's recovering well now. The chickens have discovered the underside of the house. Unfortunately they've got the idea that the polystyrene insulation has some sort of nutritional value. To prevent them laying Christmas decorations, I went round and blocked up all the holes under the house...

Pardon me; I need to tune in for the Next Thrilling Episode. J R Ewing sits in his huge chair, having just signed the deal for a new oil well. Meanwhile, his elegant wife Sue Ellen cordially greets the neighbours. But who are these who threaten his reign? Find out this time next week. Or more accurately, tomorrow.

At least JR had business sense...

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January 
After two hours on the chemo drip the nurse looked at the lump on my neck and casually said "Yes, it seems to be reducing". Crumbs. That was quick! Within a day or two it was down to just a fleshy patch with no noticeable lump at all.

Had a week and a half of not feeling too good, but this week I've been pretty much back to normal. Hasn't been half as bad as I'd been expecting. And now they're saying that my hair is just going to thin a bit, rather than all fall out. So all going well so far. Next chemo is on Thursday. Thanks to everyone for your support.

Sarah is getting bored, and Rachael has hardly left the house. Bronwyn's been planning a few trips out in lieu of the camping trip we were about to go on. Now that their friends are back home again, there's more options for sleepovers. Sarah spent a night camping with her cousin and came back extremely tired!

Bronwyn is now on the staff at church as children's ministry leader. She's been turfing out all the cupboards and planning activities. She's down to three days a week at her current job, and 15 hours for the church. I've given her a time tracker on her laptop; she wants to be keep a log of how much time she uses!

It's generally been cloudy and warm here. Occasional sunshine, but not really Auckland January weather so far. But Bronwyn's been busy out doing haymaking or treating fly struck lambs. Harley got particularly badly hit by maggots, and was back in our garden for a bit recovering. Meanwhile, one of our chickens has been broody, and didn't leave the nest for ages, despite not laying any eggs. We had to keep her shut out for a week or two. She seems to have got over it now!

Had a birthday tea this afternoon. However, due to various reasons nobody turned up! At least it gave us the incentive to tidy up and put away all the Christmas decorations, and then have a quiet hour until some friends turned up rather late...

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The diagnosis 
Mentioned last time that I'd got swollen glands. Well, I've had various tests, and they've found something - lymphoma. (Forgot the precise species, sorry.) It's treatable, but I'm going to need chemo and possibly radiotherapy. I've had needles stuck in delicate places, and they want me back for a full body CT scan just to check if there's anything else, before working out a plan. The specialist said that out of all the things I could have had, it's probably a good one to pick.

Strangely, I don't feel particularly anxious. Had about 15 people surround to pray for me at church on Sunday. Had the definite sense that this is the start of something, not the end. Indeed this year I seem to be getting the message that it's time to move into a new phase and start passing on everything I've learnt over the years. Seeing as I'm generally quiet and reserved, that might take a while! Life is valuable; we all have to make the most of it and live with eternity in mind, not just next week, live for others, not just ourselves.

Don't feel too bad today, apart from the stab wounds in my pelvis and groin from the doctor yesterday. She assured me that there wouldn't be any poking and prodding at the appointment today (it was basically just a handover - they didn't tell us anything new). I said "Have you run out of places to prod?" to which she replied "I'm sure we can find a few more places to prod" to which I said "I'll look forward to that..." She says I'm a model patient. An absolute trooper!

I'll keep you posted...

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Tis the season... 
Still got swollen glands, but the rest of me feels a lot better. Went for a CT scan on Friday. Interesting experience. They put a dye in your blood to make the veins show up on the scan, and then feed you into the machine. There's this rotating ring that spins around you. It's quite impressive. You really get the sense that you're in a million dollars worth of space age technology.

OK, so the space age happened years ago. Now we're in the age of The Gadget, as humans numbly stumble over each other, their brains drained by the latest cat video. Such is progress...

First Christmas parade. We played "We Wish You A Merry Christmas", then Rudulph, Jingle Bells and Deck The Halls. Then we did them again. And again. About 7 times. It's a long parade. At least the other gigs will be stationary!

Sarah's off on camp this week. It's going to be quiet. Hardly see anything of Rachael. But it'll be warm - we seem to be into summer now. Had to actually water the garden this week!

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The life of a teenage hermit 
Rachael survived her science exam, but lost it during maths and left after an hour. We've already got paperwork in place to get a derived grade instead. She's now got enough credits to pass the year, and negotiated her way out of the history exam. Japanese in a week or two - her favourite subject. She's been studying by playing minecraft on a japanese server. It's helped her learn a number of expressions, although our internet usage has hit a new record this month! I don't get to see a lot of her. I know she's there, but only to emerge at dinner time, eat a few chips and then retreat again. But she did make it out to rock climbing with the youth group this week!

Bronwyn took Sarah down to Rotorua for the weekend, to compensate for all the attention that Rachael's been getting. To compensate for that, she's taking Rachael out to Napier again next week. Normally I don't need to do a lot of cooking when Bronwyn's away. The assorted leftovers generally keep us going for a couple of nights. Our fridge has been playing up however, and keeps warming up and then cooling down again. There's only one company servicing fridges round here, and he's notorious for not turning up. So I've been putting bowls of ice and freezer packs in the fridge to cover the days when it decides to go warm. Might just grab a screwdriver and take a peek myself. After all, the dish washer and washing machine have been working fine for years ... after I fixed them!

Haven't been that well for a week or two. Swollen glands, tired, feeling sick (possibly due to the swollen glands). Doctor doesn't seem bothered by how **** I feel, but she's booking me in for a biopsy in case the glands don't go down. They fluctuate, but generally seem to be going down, and I'm feeling a lot stronger than I was.

Which is just as well, because we're into the parade season. Only one parade this year, and we'll do that on a truck. Plus four carol concerts, and a number of carolling gigs at various supermarkets. So no marching for once!

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