wings and things

Colouring in!

It was my blog friend, Trisha, who introduced me to the idea of Zentangle drawing. I am hopelessly trying to find her exact post but in the meantime here is the link to her blog:

Anyway, I got a bit into it because (a) I’m not a bit keen on artsy/crafty stuff so I thought it might be good for me; and (b) I needed something to do with Ants in the nursing home, other than watching television.

So, a few weeks ago, I started to do this drawing thing and LOVED IT! Anthony was a bit patronizing though – “Yes, I used to do this when I was 5″ (he is so good at sarcasm!), but I ignored his characteristic bumpetyness and drew another circle.

The colouring in is a bit of a buzz, especially now that I have gone to a proper art shop and bought good quality colored pens. I have now done two pictures for Ants which, if you put them on the far wall, and squint your eyes a bit, look a tiny bit like art.

Obviously this colouring in tendency has leaked into my mother’s 80th birthday book so I hope she won’t be too appalled!


The squish-bump-happy of nostalgia … and now!

I have become an artist! Yes, I have sacrificed my loathing of glue, textas and cardboard to create this book for Meg.

Each page of our mother’s 80th birthday book is covered in smudges, ink lines, childish coloring in of edges (me) grandchildren’s quotes, stark photos, and the gooey glue of love.

I got the book bound last week then thought of other stuff to include – argh!

One of the most beautiful and poignant off-shoots of this ‘project’ is to read and re-read our mother’s journal of our childhood. The humor and hilarity is contagious and the loveĀ of a mother and grandmother and great-grandmother isĀ oceanic, a purring, imperfect, enormous wave!

Okay, back to the glue~



Asthma nearly gone now (and panic!) Sorry I haven’t replied to comments of goodwill but I appreciate it. Not sure now why I got so scared but probably something to do with the fact that I am responsible for everything now.

I can’t wait to see Anthony tomorrow; I will spend the whole day there. His nephew, my mother and Ming and my brother and co. have visited him but I haven’t seen him for 4 days, and he sounded so miserable on the phone tonight when I finally got a nurse to answer it for him.


ps. can’t be bothered with tags etc.


On being sick

I have been fluey for a couple of weeks; then on weekend it turned into what I now call ‘spring asthma’. I think this is the fourth year it has happened, after decades of being free of asthma.

As a child I had it chronically and remember vividly all of the emergency dashes to hospital, the adrenaline injections, the oxygen tents, my mother squeezing my toe.

I am very good at dealing with other people’s illnesses but when it comes to me I wimp out and get terrified, beyond reason (although asthma is terrifying). Ming hates it if I get sick, so much so that he withdraws and I understand this since so much of his life has already been shadowed by Anthony’s many illnesses.

Even though I am on the mend now with the help of antibiotics and steroids and can breathe better, I am still scared and seem to have landed in a place of dense gloom. But, at the same time, my admiration for people who are chronically ill smacks me in the face when I realize that I will get better easily, and they might not.

To cope with being sick, or afflicted in terms of sight and other senses, in an ongoing way, is something that awes me. I would not be as strong as the people I know (via daily interactions and blog contacts).

So, as soon as I am not sick anymore, I will get back on my bike, and write about Anthony and stop dillydallying around with impossible goals….

…. and catch up with blogs!



Statistics have never been my forte, however, in the process of putting together a photo-book for my mother’s 80th birthday, I have had to become a bit statsy:

For example, in sifting through hundreds of photos, with the simple quest of finding each of the eleven grandchildren conveniently posed next to Grandma, I have found 1500 of Ashtyn, but only one or two of the other ten. So now I am terrified that one or other of my mother’s grandchildren will be upset not to to be featured as much as their peers.

Not to worry: I have now made a list of all of the grandchildren who have been printed out: with Grandma, without Grandma, upside-down, looking gorgeous, looking like the ink ran out, tolerating the fact that their baby photo has the wrong name on it. I think it will be a lovely gift anyway as soon as my mother reimburses me for 15 ink cartridges, post-glue-stress syndrome, and helps me clear up the mess of my previously tidy writing room!





There are several reasons that I have become somewhat disconnected from the blogosphere lately:

1. I have made Anthony’s nursing home room a simulation of our home;
2. I’ve become addicted to the Danish series, The Killing;
3. I’m preoccupied with crafting a present for my mother’s soon-to-be 80th birthday;
4. I have given up on trying to tempt Ming with my ox-tail stew;
5. My volunteering in the dementia ward on the weekends is a gift to me because, years ago, when I worked as a nurse in various nursing homes, there was never any time to actually chat with patients; now it is actually something that is scheduled!

So, I have decided to go for a job at the nursing home in the hope that my so-far volunteering reputation will help.


Rowing the boat!

My mother’s 80th birthday is happening soon!
We are all going on a boat cruise lunchy thing in a few weeks.

Over twenty of us -
That’s my two brothers and me,
our spouses,
plus all of our kids,
plus my nephew’s wife,
and my niece’s husband,
one newish grandkid (very special),
the boys’ girlfriends, the girls’ boyfriends,
someone who knows how to row the boat!

Idiotically (I am not the least bit art-and-crafty) I suggested putting together a book for ‘Grandma’. I solicited quotes and photos from all grandchildren, very successfully, and now I am covered in glue and ink, and know the difference between a portrait and a landscape photograph.

Ming came into my writing room tonight to find the recent neat-and-tidiness chaotic with the ‘casualty’ photos all over the floor.

Me: I love doing this, Ming! Grandma is going to be thrilled!

Ming (backing away cautiously): Mum, I’m on my way out, okay? I’m not interested in whatever you are doing here because it just looks like a mess to me. Bye!

Anyway, I am having a huge amount of fun with the Grandma book and it is comforting to know that if that boat-cruisy boat falters, Grandma will probably row us back to shore ….



Anthony picking olives a few years ago

I have had a much more social week than usual with the arrival of my niece’s in-laws from Scotland: activities have included a beach barbecue, a day-long winery tour, a visit to our farm, my great-niece’s first birthday, and then a 21st last night. All delightful! Obviously, this altered the routine with Ants and the volunteering, but not hugely and I didn’t visit him at all on the winery day, hoping he wouldn’t notice.

This week is similarly social, with my best friend, Tony (the priest who married us), coming down for the night and a professor I worked with a couple of years ago, dropping in with his wife on his way back to Perth the next morning. This will slightly alter the routine with Ants once again but since it all worked out okay last week, I figure it should be okay this week too.

I think I blogged about the new routine awhile ago; it’s pretty simple really and was probably staring me in the face for several exhausting months, but I have always had rather slow reflexes – ha! The epiphany arrived at the doorstep of my heart one foggy morning and said two words: “Switch homes”.

It took me ages to understand what Epiph meant but then, bingo, the penny dropped. Instead of bringing Anthony home, either by wheelchair taxi, me, or Ming (visits that became increasingly gruelling, physically, mentally and emotionally, for all three of us), it was gently suggested that I simply make myself at home in the nursing home. Epiph is good like that; she recognizes my lack of pragmatism.

Since then, our marriage, Anthony’s illness, Ming growing up, and all the other bits and pieces of emotion and stuff….

have uncurled raised/dropped fists
have unfurled the residue of grief into a great wide flag of hope

The social stuff is good too because it provides me with conversation material for Ants. He loves it! I feel like I am learning something really important about dementia, or maybe love, not sure yet. A year ago I was struggling with how to cope with the impending boredom of the nursing home. Now, this is my attitude:

“Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is.”
Thomas Szasz


Food, glorious food!

I bought the slow-cooker, pictured below, several months ago when I thought our electric stove/oven had had the bomb. It wasn’t until our electrician came over to do another job, that it was discovered that the switch to the stove was turned to ‘off’ somehow. Embarrassed, I admitted that I didn’t even know there was an on/off switch.

Anthony used to do all this stuff, I said, meekly.

No charge, said the electrician, wryly.

Anyway, during all of those months when I didn’t think I had a working stove/oven, I learned how to use the slow-cooker and I love it! I used to chop everything finely but now I just throw it all in, uncut, and do the mixing/mashing when I get home. After all, why chop everything at 7am when you can just mash it at 7pm?

I am not quite sure what I am making in that wonderful slow-cooker but here is what I threw in:

Minced beef
Wild garlic + leaves
Onions, chives, lemon grass
5 red and 2 green chillis
Turmeric and ginger roots
Masses of fresh parley and coriander leaves
A cup of red wine
A few cups of stock
Salt and pepper
Lemon juice

In case it isn’t already obvious, one of the things I love about this kind of cooking is that you can be really creative, and experimental, because whatever you are cooking is going to take so long that you can easily get up at 2am and check for flavor. Sometimes the dish needs more salt; sometimes a bit of honey (if it’s a strong curry).


Happy birthday to my beautiful great niece, N, and to my friend, M – nice partying with you!


A white peacock twirls: a haiku (or two)

A white peacock twirls
in an old, red dairy shed,
his dance ancient, new.


He wrestles the wind
and the dust of the old shed,
to be absolute!



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