wings and things

The peachicks have chosen a new bedtime tree

Queenie’s chicks have become incredibly assertive. They take the food out of her mouth, fly at her aggressively if she is in the wheat bowl, and now they even choose the bedtime tree. Last night they decided to move to another tree while poor Queenie waited in the original bedtime tree. These two peachicks are absolute brats!





But Queenie doesn’t mind.


Queenie and chicks


They were waiting for me outside the back door this morning so I tossed little bits of bread to Queenie but the chicks got to them first, like miniature vultures – gleefully chirping!


Go to bed!

They go to bed (in their yard) but then they come back out again, and they do it over an over again – argh! Ming was never this difficult when he was a baby – mmmm. The problem is that they hear my voice and assume I have bread or lettuce (which I don’t always have). Freckle, Misha and Michael Jackson seem to want to eat my feet off. Funny – yes, scary, yes! Okay, I am going out now to put them to bed and, if you never hear from me again, it will be due to a duck drama! Oh and now Baby Turkey is stuck on the wrong side of the fence – great!







House of cards

We live in a very old house – part of it is over 100 years old and, ironically, it is that side of the house that is the most structurally sound. Other parts of the house have become problematic over the years – bricks crumbling on one side, the ceiling in the big bedroom breaking one day when a builder put his foot through it and nearly fell into the house when repairing some of the roof. Obviously these things have now been repaired (well, bandaged!)

On the weekend a few more things fell apart; the back veranda door fell right out if its grooves, onto an outside table (it has been threatening to do this for some time). Luckily, the table saved it from smashing into a million pieces of glass. Then its accompanying fly-screen door fell out of its grooves into the house (these two door have a very close relationship).

Then, as if all of the doors in the house were following some sort of evil ritual, the shower door in the bathroom also fell out of its hinges – well, sort of. You see, it was a sliding door that had stopped sliding, so, in order to get into the shower, you had to hold your breath and squeeze through a small gap. Yesterday, Ming became so annoyed with this that he took half of the door off and propped it against the remaining bit of the door. He didn’t prop it very well, however so, when I had to go to the loo in the middle of the night, I bumped into it and it fell into the shower recess. Thankfully, it didn’t smash and is now outside with the rest of the rebellious doors.

Today, the kitchen door is nearly off its hinges, the front fly-wire door doesn’t close unless you force it to, and the key to the glass front door won’t work properly (which means we often have to climb into the house through a window, although that won’t be necessary anymore since we now have an almost door-less house).

Ming has been trying to fix all of these things this morning and has done a great job and I am very proud of him for trying to do this kind of thing by himself when he has never been taught. I like the way he is figuring out how to fix things without anybody’s help and with very little nagging from me. He is doing jobs I used to watch Anthony do, and he is doing them willingly and cleverly.

I had a pretty grim weekend with all of the doors in my own house-of-cards breaking, or falling, but I guess that’s what has to happen before the ‘fix you’ thing can happen. Anthony always waited until things were totally broken before he would address the situation: doors, pumps, hoses, fences, vacuum cleaners, me.

My pompholyx was finally healed enough for me to visit Ants yesterday and, when he saw my scarred hands, he reached out and stroked my wrists with his cool fingers, and watched me carefully as I smiled through unshed tears of utter misery at being separated from him.

Me: I can’t even do the bloody dishes because I am not supposed to go anywhere near rubber gloves or detergent.
Ants: Well bring me home and I can do all of that for you!
Me: But Ants, it’s nearly 3pm – it’s too late to bring you home now and, I hate to say this, but you are too sick with the PD to help me – you will only make it all harder.
Ants: (Silence)
Me: Oh great, so have I hurt your feelings now?
Ants: No.
Me: As soon as my hands are better I will pick you up to go out – is that okay?
Ants: Has to be, doesn’t it.

Then, surprisingly mobile for that time of day, Ants walked me out to the parking lot and waved goodbye. I stopped at the end of the driveway to the nursing home to check in the rear vision mirror that he was going back inside the nursing home. I watched as he slowly turned the walker around and limped back to the nursing home doors which opened automatically. And, when he disappeared through those doors, I tried not to think about anything except how well those doors worked!

Oh and the ducklings keep getting through the faulty door of their chookpen – argh. In one more week they will be too big to get out until I open the gate (which hopefully won’t break before then!)


The best thing about a house of cards is that it is so interesting!


My favourite duckling!

Okay, so I wasn’t going to name the ducklings but I can’t help myself now because they are surviving so well AND chasing me everywhere. They somehow know that my voice means lettuce or bread and they pretty much attack me every time I step out the door.

‘Michael Jackson’ is the dancing duckling and, before today, I thought the twins were identical until I noticed that one had a a lot of freckles (‘Freckle’) and the other one had more of a mish-mash of colouring and personality and beauty, so I have called her ‘Misha’.



I know I shouldn’t have favourites and of course I love Michael Jackson and Freckle and Misha equally but let’s just say that for this week I am quacking with Misha!

Misha is named after someone with a better name – and this is sent with a love quack to her!


Daybreak, heartbreak and other breaks

Yesterday, Ming went to see Anthony at the nursing home at around noon because, even though I didn’t see Ants on the weekend (because I was having a bit of a break with my friends at a nearby chalet), on Monday my stupid hands had become a bit infected and very sore and I felt unable to make the journey into town. But by 4pm I couldn’t stand not seeing Ants so I drove into the nursing home and arrived in Anthony’s room at 5pm.

Ming had already told him, earlier in the day, that I wouldn’t be in, so he was surprised and absolutely overjoyed. “My beautiful, beautiful girl,” he kept repeating. His dinner arrived and we shared a beer and I helped him with food, phone and television and then I had to go home again. I was probably in there a bit over an hour and, by the time I left, Ants was a bit confused as he always is in the evenings now. But he was happy! And he didn’t mind that I was going home at all. For me, the relief that he could say goodbye to me happily was so wonderful that I drove home on a bit of a high.

But every day is different of course. So today, when Ming and I visited for a couple of hours in the early afternoon, Anthony became so sad when we had to go (including begging us to take him with us) that it broke my heart all over again because he even articulated it: “When you both leave, I get so upset.”

Ming is better at handling this than I am. “Dad – pull yourself together! We’ll see you tomorrow!” For me it is much more difficult to extricate myself from Anthony’s heartbreak so I tend to prolong goodbyes with so many kisses and hugs that Ming nearly vomits!

I guess, because I don’t have a routine of what time I visit Ants (except that it is nearly every day), and the fact that I am not bringing him home so much, because he is too heavy now and quite often unable to move or walk without help, every single day has become an unpredictable journey of fear. The other wives of the other men Anthony’s age all have a routine; they visit their husbands at the same time every day, but these wives are in their 70s or 80s and live nearby.

This is not me complaining or asking for advice; it’s more of an attempt to give some insight into the unpredictable nature of PDD (Parkinson’s Disease Dementia) and how one day, no matter what time of day, Ants might say, “Okay, see you tomorrow, Jules” and the next day it might be “Please don’t leave me, Jules!” I can never know what to expect in any way at all – again, no matter what time of day, although evenings are worse – lucidity, confusion, joy, fear, confusion, love, hope, conversation, confusion, helplessness, uncertainty, disorientation, confusion, misery ….

To grasp my husband’s big, old hands with my younger infected hands today was very painful because he had a grip I haven’t felt for a long time – he held on tightly until I said “You’re hurting my hands, Ants!” and he immediately released them. It was worth it though, because he lost his grip a couple of years ago (PD).

On a lighter note, I am having a break from cooking tea for Ming because, for the first time ever, he is doing it all by himself – yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And the ducklings took a break from Godfrey (when he wasn’t looking!) to take bread out of my hands.


It is quite possible, of course, that, due to recent circumstances, I have either had, or am having, a nervous breakdown. That would be a very convenient excuse for not answering the phone, not opening a month’s worth of mail, not keeping up with blogs, and blogging in a way that is almost ridiculously high and low – sorry!

Oh, Home and Away is on in 5 minutes – now that is a break from reality – haha!


Pool party

Late yesterday afternoon, I sat outside to watch, feed and water the birds. As usual, Gutsy9 joined me at the picnic table and stretched her neck out for me to stroke and when I stopped, she either bit my toes or gave me the cold shoulder.




G9 is a bit jealous of the new peachicks which is probably why she has suddenly become all lovey-dovey again (she went through that teenage aloof thing a while ago). As soon as she hears the back door open, and my voice, she rushes at me making the little chirpy noises she used to make when she was a baby.

For those who don’t know, I discovered G9 outside over a year ago, obviously abandoned by whoever her mother was, so I raised her myself. During her first day with me, I had to meet friends for lunch so I took her with me, hidden inside my shirt and, for the next few weeks, she spent most of her time either on my shoulder, or on the keyboard of this laptop, or in a canary cage with the door open. I took her to the nursing home to see Anthony, took her to my mother’s house for Christmas, took her to the vet when she got underneath my office chair and I accidentally injured her toe, then, eventually, took her outside to integrate with her kin.




To begin with, the other peas treated her like an alien because she was so humanized! But over the last year, she has actually become a bit of a leader, especially in the bread-stakes. I only have to open a packet of bread and she hears the rustle of plastic and zooms straight to the back door, sometimes crashing into the window, with all the others following, hoping for bread.

But now, with Queenie and the new peachicks, G9 seems to have become a little insecure, and very needy of me, almost as if she is nostalgic for our mother/baby months. It’s hilarious! She watches me watching them and pecks me quite violently sometimes.



Oh yes, the pool party. The following photos are of what must have been a committee meeting but it did kind of look like a pool party.





They all chatted for about an hour and the conversation seemed quite serious. I think it was about protecting the new peachicks but I’m not sure. G9 sat with me and watched rather jealously, so I snuck her a bit of bread from my pocket.


Bed-time magic: how a peahen puts her chicks to bed










The smile

Not quite sure how a light-hearted bird blog transmogrified into Julie’s gutspill but I am hoping to turn that around again soon. Tomorrow is Ming’s second court hearing so I guess I am a little bit anxious because I have just found out that this is when he will plead guilty. Apparently there is no risk that he will be whisked off to jail tomorrow so that is good and I am no longer sure what the hell I am crying about any more. Sad and happy tears look exactly the same, so it’s confusing.

Queenie camouflages the chicks so well that they are almost invisible to predators. I wish I could do this for Ming but he is a little too big and obvious!


Yesterday afternoon I took two beers into the nursing home and Anthony and I had a drink together (the way we always used to at home). I apologised for my melodrama yesterday and he just said ‘Any time, Jules – I know you.’ Mmmm!

Then we had a rather weird but lovely interchange:

Ants: I just want you to come home.
Me: You mean here?
Ants: Yes, here – Bythorne.
Me: We’re not at Bythorne now, Ants, we’re at Wattle Hill Lodge.
Ants (trying not to look confused): That’s right.
Me (trying not to notice his confusion): Exactly – this is our second home.
Ants: So why are you leaving?
Me: Because I have to take dinner home to Ming.
Ants (hallucinating): Is that Ming there in the corner?
Me: No – he’s at Bythorne.
Ants: So where are we now?
Me: Wattle Hill.
Ants: So where is home?

At this point, I felt a bit lost, so I knelt down in front of him and threw my arms around him and said (rather profoundly I think now haha!) “Wherever you are, Ants, that is my home.”

And I finally got a bloody smile!


Duckling update

Well the three ducklings have grown so quickly that they are almost too big to squeeze through the fence of the yard I put the gang in at night. They free range with their ‘minders’ all day.

Here’s a picture of Seli and Godfrey guarding the Twins.


And here’s one of Ola watching over a sleeping Michael Jackson (the dancing duckling).


I took a whole lot of better photos of all of them but had to delete these because Ming’s smashed ute (truck) was in the background. The gang + ducklings tend to hang out underneath it because it is near the pond. We have covered the smashed-in front of the ute with a blanket so that visitors, especially family, won’t be upset if they see it. The rest of the ute looks normal, with the tray intact. I wish we could get rid of it but we are stuck with it in the back yard for now until we try again to claim some insurance. Every morning and every evening, when I let the gang out, or put them into the yard, I have to walk past the ute.

There is also a clear view of the ute from the kitchen window, a constant reminder of the accident and everything since. And when I frolic in the dirt, and offer prayers to the sky, and watch the pea-chicks climb the avocado tree, or cry until my body is cramped like a dead leaf, I am always right next to the ute.

Ming brought Ants home for the afternoon yesterday and I (rather dramatically) threw myself into his chest and soaked him with some of these endless, futile, enormous tears. He held me and said nice things to me and then asked me about the ducklings.

“When are we eating them?” he asked.

I stopped crying immediately. “What the hell are you talking about? We are not eating them, Ants!”




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