wings and things

Everything (a poem)

When you are inside the blah balloon
floating above the world,
tossed about by moody winds

you can see everything, EVERYTHING
up, west, down, left, north, right, east, here, south, and, yes, there too!

And in between all of the circumferences, you have
a clear, detailed view
of the whole wide world, but

from the blah balloon, your view is distorted
by plastic
and motion sickness
and fear of falling.

So what do you do?
Do you stay inside your safe, up-in-the-air balloon
upset and shocked that in the whole wide world
you are absent?

Or do you scream triumphantly,
pierce the wall of the balloon with your un-rude finger,
fall to the ground with a THUMP

stand up,



Anthony book 1: Three years

January 9, 2015

This week marks the third year that Anthony was admitted into the nursing home for respite and never came home again.

Except to visit. The shock of it.

This is what I wrote in my blog at the time:

Jan 11 2012 Breaking

Yesterday, Son and I broke the news to Husband that his two weeks in the nursing home lodge might need to be extended, might even be indefinite and that this has been recommended by three of his doctors. Son reinforced this by starting a verbal sparring match:
Son: We can’t look after you anymore, Dad!
Husband: Well, you’re not much of a son, are you!
Me: C’mon, guys, give it a rest.
Son: Dad, can’t you see you need nursing care?
Husband: I’ll get better – wait and see. Don’t give up on me. Where’s my wife?
Son: Her name is Julie, Dad, and she’s crying in the bathroom as usual.
Husband: What the hell is she doing that for?
Me: Sorry, just had to go to the loo.
Husband: Are you okay? You look terrible. You really need a haircut.
Me: I know.
Son: Argh – I’ll meet you out in the car, Mum. Bye, Dad.
Husband: Wait – give me a hug.
Me: He’s okay; he’s a teenager.
Husband: Why is he so ….?
Me: He’s angry.
Husband: I love you two more than life.
Me: Us too.
Husband: You better go.
Me: Yeah, the brat’s waiting – give me a hug.
Husband: See you tomorrow?
Me: See you tomorrow.
Breaking, breaking, breaking, breaking, breaking, breaking, breaking, breaking, breaking, breaking, breaking, breaking, breaking, breaking…. br

Perhaps it is this strange anniversary of almost unbearable emotional pain that has rendered me numbly bleak (bleakly numb?) over the last few days.

Lately, the shiny wonder of having discovered different ways of happily being in the nursing home for so many hours per day with Anthony has begun to show its first lace-like signs of rust.



The elusive parrot


I bet you can’t even see him! Every morning I wake up and through my bedroom window I see these guys all over the giant pear tree but as soon as I venture outside with my camera they hide!

I’ve never seen this variety of parrot here before but then again my observation skills are not well honed and it may be that I have mistaken this breed of parrot for the very common ‘Twenty-eight’ parrot. Here is a link to information about the 28

Unlike the 28, this elusive parrot is multi-coloured – greeny blue at first glance but with an underside of red, yellow and sometimes a red cap – absolutely beautiful! I’m going to keep on trying to get a decent photo but it is difficult to see them in amongst the pears.


It feels like a bit of an adventure to me – figuring out what kind of parrot this is, and training myself in the art of observation (and getting up early again, early-bird-catches-worm and all that!)

Once upon a time I would have been shocked at the idea of bird-watching, picking flowers, noticing the sunset, growing tomatoes (okay well I grew two before they died), cooking a curry from scratch, listening to music without doing something else at the same time. I would have thought what a waste of time! But now all the wing flits, the snow of wattle blossoms on the lawn, the aroma of a simmering curry, and the constant squawking of the crows, peacocks and this elusive parrot – all of of this life stuff, simple, small, daily details – makes me appreciate every single moment I have left with Anthony.


The peacock dance

Every morning at around the same time, King and Prince do this incredibly synchronized dance next to the water tank. Usually I watch them from the bedroom window but today I went out to take some photos and when they saw me they seemed to put some extra effort into their routine. A couple of the females came up to me in the hope of bread but when they saw I had none, they turned up their beaks as if to say ‘well you’re just as useless as those two fools flirting with the water tank.’

The peahens’ indifference to the peacocks’ efforts is hilarious to watch and it is a wonder to me that any chicks are produced at all! Anyway, I watched the peacocks dance for about an hour (yes they can do their routine for well over an hour; it must be exhausting), then I came inside with a big smile.

I will take the photos in to show the women in the dementia wing of the nursing home where I volunteer on the weekends between 3 and 4pm, and to show Anthony of course.



Un-planning Christmas

Somebody said to me the other day, “Surely, you’ll bring Anthony home for Christmas,” and I felt sad as I tried to explain how this might not be possible.

I have spent a lot of hours on the weekend and tonight looking back on my blog posts to try and find the last date that I brought Anthony home and I think it was March 16, this year, which makes it almost exactly eight months.

So, on Christmas Day, Ming and I will open our presents to each other in the early morning, and then we will meet my mother at noon so that we can have Christmas lunch with Anthony at the nursing home. Or maybe not!




It is difficult to take photographs at dusk, especially if you have an inferior camera and/or an amateur photographer, and/or if that same amateur photographer is a bit rusty. Nevertheless, and despite the poor quality of the shots, this particular amateur photographer thoroughly enjoyed getting herself back out there last night.

For some reason, many of the peafowl like to congregate on the roof of the wash-house at dusk, sometimes just to look up, which they are very good at.


On the other hand, this same roof has also become the stage for some ferocious scuffles between the King peacocks. This photo was taken during a short truce because I didn’t click the camera in time to capture the battle. It’s okay, they didn’t hurt each other; one just flew away. In the background you can see the top of a palm tree pretending to be a peacock.


And here is Gutsy9 in meditative mode.


I handed in my application today for the ‘lifestyle assistant’ job at the nursing home and am excited at the possibility but trying not to get my hopes up. It’s part-time which is perfect for me and the usual shift seems to be from 3-6pm which is also perfect. I told Anthony but lately he has been so sleepy and confused that he didn’t really understand until I said, “Well, the money might be good” at which his eyes lit up – ha! Money is something he is constantly worried about, having been a hard-working, frugal farmer for all of those decades. And, yes, it would be good to be earning a wage again and doing something I have always wanted to do – interact, relax with, comfort, and share a joke with people who have dementia. All those years ago, when I was a nurse, there was never any allotted time for this and the notion of lifestyle assistance was unheard of. How wonderful that this nursing home employs people in this way.

If I get the job I won’t be home until after dusk some days. This is probably a good thing as I think I am better at morning photos!


Catching up

After weeks of fighting a tenacious flu that kept coming back after each course of antibiotics, I finally got a chest x-ray which was clear (phew!) but my dr seems to think it was probably a case of pneumonia treated with the wrong antibiotics (I saw another dr to begin with because mine wasn’t on duty). So now I am on a fifth course of two different antibiotics and already feeling a lot better instead of a little bit better. It is such a relief because, despite being well enough for my mama’s 80th b’day and well enough to visit Ants most days and to do some volunteer work, it is only now that I am beginning to feel normal well ha!

As my role as ‘care-giver’ has become most of my identity now, I have a bit of a terror problem when I get sick because I am so needed by Anthony so to have been given the gift of a clear chest x-ray is like gold!

I’ve been trying to catch up and re-connect with blogger friends but have now decided to simply read blogs in a from-now-on mode rather than go back to see what I might’ve missed. It’s been a bit of a relief, too, to let go of the self-imposed feeling of obligation to blog every day if I just don’t have the time or inclination. Perhaps someone should write a book about blog psychology because I get the impression that other bloggers often suffer the same kind of ridiculous guilt. Interesting.

My volunteering at the nursing home, though interrupted by this flu, because you are not supposed to go in there if you are sick (paradoxically, this is probably where I first got infected), continues to delight me and I have now sent an ‘expression of interest’ email in response to last week’s advertisement for a “lifestyle assistant” in the dementia wing. This is a permanent part-time position from 3-6pm for someone to provide activities while the nursing staff conduct the evening showers. As I have already been volunteering in this wing from 3-4pm on the weekends, I am familiar with each of the ten residents and have developed a bit of a rapport. Tomorrow I will fill out the application form and hope for the best. I think this kind of arrangement would be a perfect match and hopefully there will be no perceived conflict of interest as Anthony is not in the dementia wing. I am quite excited about this job possibility and the money would be a relief!

Ming has a job he loves at a restaurant called ‘Corners on King’ so he is gradually becoming independent financially and in other ways. He hates for me to make him any food so my tactic has been to make him a smoothie every morning into which I pack a punch of secret ingredients (if you want to know the secret ingredients you will have to email me!) For those who don’t know, Ming has, from birth, had a rather extraordinary unhungryness – long story which I can’t be bothered telling now but my best illustration of this is the 40C degree day, when he was about one, in which Ants and I had to use a syringe to push a bit of milk into his ungreedy little mouth.

The last few years have been enormously challenging with me having to resign from my job as university lecturer; Anthony’s permanent admission to the nursing home; my mother’s horrifying injuries after falling from her bicycle; the car accident and court case and cousins’ heroic recoveries; Ming’s two scoliosis operations; some friendships rekindled and others on hold; peace, joy, guilt and wretchedness in equal amounts; Ming’s short-lived, but loved, dairy worker job abandoned due to his spine; finding out that you really love eggs on toast; and that if you don’t like what you look like, you need to stop looking at yourself and look away…..


…. and finding out that the width of hope is immeasurable!

Catchya later….


What a peculiar blog!

I have just looked back to discover that tomorrow will mark the third anniversary of this blog. The reason I was looking back was because I want to find, in amongst all of the bird stuff, everything I have written about Anthony and Parkinson’s disease and how he, Ming and I have coped. I thought it might be useful to compile these entries into one document and see if it works as a whole, maybe as a book. Apart from the wonder of all the friendships wrought via blogging, it has also been wonderful to find that I have a record of these past three years because I don’t think I would have remembered otherwise, except as a kind of blurry fog of joys and sorrows – mostly joys.

The birds, and the wings idea, have punctuated the last three years in real and metaphorical ways. Many have now been lost to fox attacks, I have given the emus away, and all three of the original caged birds have been set free. We now have a dozen peafowl, nine guinneafowl, five geese and one duck. The casualties have been heartbreaking and I have decided not to acquire any more due to their vulnerability to fox attacks. Gutsy9 is still thriving and one of the two peachicks hatched last year has survived and I think there will be more chicks soon. I have stopped interfering in the way natural selection works. All of the birds still take bread out of my hand and give me enormous joy (except Godfrey, the gander who likes to bite me!)

But everything changes and now that most of my daytime hours are spent in the nursing home, the birds and I don’t commune as much. Hence, when they hear my voice, they come running AT me with a mixture of love and greed (for wheat) that it is hilarious to watch. And even the birds who are gone continue to live on via Anthony’s hallucinations. Almost every day he points them out through his nursing home window. The outdoor tables and chairs become turkeys; the lawn is speckled with chooks and guinneafowl; and the flowerbeds are parrots. I can see them too.

It seems a rather peculiar blog in its higgledy-piggledyness and some of my entries make me cringe, but hopefully I will be able to draw out enough of the love story to compile a coherent record that might be helpful to others who live with Parkinson’s disease.

Here is a picture of the nearly grown up peachick, still very much attached to his mother (in foreground)!


Birthday girl!

Okay so today is my mother’s 80th birthday and nobody can believe she is that great age because she looks so young. We met up at the nursing home at 11am so that Anthony and I could give her ‘the book’ together and (sigh of relief) Meg loved it, despite its falling apart with messy fullness! Then we went out for lunch with a sprinkling of special people with the surprise star being Meg’s first great-grandchild who has just turned 1.

On Saturday we have the party, a 2-hour boat cruise which is just family because, if we had to include friends, it would have entailed a ship!

All of the grandchildren wrote something for Grandma to be included in the birthday book and here is what I did with Ashtyn’s words:


Ashtyn is Meg’s first grandchild, my fantastic first niece, my god-daughter, Ming’s godmother and, in so many other ways, the star of the family. She and Meg are very much alike in that their presence at any occasion elicits a lot of attention because they are both so beautiful!

So, Mama, you are now 80 +

Note: I will CHANGE the subject tomorrow!


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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