jmgoyder

wings and things

Simulating home

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As you can see we are still experiencing a wintry spring after its false start last week. The weather alerts for Western Australia are a bit alarming with winds of up to 100 kph so I came home a bit early from the nursing home yesterday.

I have begun to arrive at the nursing home by 11am most days now because, with the volunteering, I need plenty of time to wear both ‘hats’. It is working out so well but more about that in another post.

Over the two and a half years since Anthony entered the nursing home, his room has become as close as I can get it to our real home: freshly picked flowers (although I never did this when Anthony lived at home – he did!); daily food treats on plates and a cutting board I keep there; familiar shows on television via the DVD; a well-stocked bar and our own glassware and so on.

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And (my latest idea!) Ming’s 2.5 kg weights. I didn’t expect Anthony to be quite so enthusiastic about this but I was wrong – he did around 20 for each arm with me cheering him on and cracking up laughing at the same time!

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Despite my intention to take Jack, our Irish terrier, in to see Ants, I couldn’t find either his leash or collar that day so I will probably take Blaze instead for the time being.

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Even I am beginning to feel more at home at the nursing home than I am at home, which is really weird! Well, at the moment, it is a lot warmer there.

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The littlest peachick

Yesterday morning, just outside the back door, you took bread from my hand for the first time,
even though you are the littlest peachick.
Surrounded by your peacock father and his brothers, surrounded by your peahen mother and her sisters,’
you raced all of them and won each piece of bread I tossed onto the ground,
even though you are the littlest peachick.

Your big sister didn’t stand a chance and you gobbled all of her bread bits until I gently brushed you aside,
littlest peachick.

This morning, just outside the back door, I saw you again, but this time you were all alone.
I thought you were a pile of leaves blown together by the wind,
until I saw your little legs pointing upwards like the bare, autumn branches of a bonsai.
I went outside and approached you cautiously, not wanting to see what I already saw, that you were very dead,
my littlest peachick.

Your mother, big sister, and all of the others, came over very quietly to look at your dead body.
Then, just as quietly, they all stepped back, turned around and went away,
my littlest peachick.

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This morning, the farm is strangely silent. Your family, usually so noisy and boisterous, has withdrawn from the vicinity of your death.
Out in the paddock, they nibble halfheartedly at the grass, looking up and around frequently, as if sensing danger, bewildered, as I am,
at your mysterious death,
our littlest peachick.

I see you now, from the corner of my heart’s eye,
high up in a tree that is so beautiful that it has no name.
You are no longer little; you are huge and your rainbow wings span the sky as you fly in and through the marshmallow clouds
of where you are now.

The littlest peachick.

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The Land of Blah

For several days now I have been in and out of the Land of Blah – you know, that place where, even when you stub your toe badly, you can’t be bothered saying ‘ouch’. It’s a funny sort of place, this Land of Blah, but not in a way that makes anyone smile; smiling is kind of frowned on here because it depletes energy and you need energy to get out of the Land of Blah.

I never choose to visit the Land of Blah but sometimes I accidentally wake up there (nightmares can do this), or else I am sitting with Anthony in his room in the nursing home and I am transported into the surreality of his confusion so much so that his blank expression becomes mine.

Sometimes I meet people I know in the Land of Blah and it shocks me. ‘What are you doing here?’ I feel like asking them but of course I don’t because it is a place of such silent mystery and private misery – a paradoxical place of in-between.

I don’t like it in the Land of Blah so I usually manage to clamber out and up into my normal life. And this is what I see: a beautiful peacock family.

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Robyn's photo

And the Land of Blah once again recedes into its own grey nothingness.

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The wild birds!

We have a lot of crows, parrots, doves, magpies, willy wagtails, wrens, and other wild birds, who hang around a lot more then they used to here. This is obviously due to the overabundance of wheat (which is what I give all of the peafowl, guinnea fowl, and the gang).

This afternoon I decided to sit down and watch quietly as the wild birds fluttered and tiptoed into the tame birds’ little sanctuary. Tomorrow I plan to take better photos but here are a couple of Gutsy9 sharing a bowl of wheat with two crested pigeons.

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(I actually thought these guys were doves until I googled their description. I feel really knowledgeable now.)

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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!

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But Queenie doesn’t mind.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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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!

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Motherhood

It has been fascinating to watch Queenie and the peachicks out and about. They roam freely now everywhere and are quite used to my presence. Sometimes they forage on the lawn just outside my office door where I can watch them and talk to them through the fly screen. It’s almost as if they have come over to say hello.

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I still haven’t found a mate for Baby Turkey, but I promised him I would by next week and he perked up a little bit.

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Godfrey and Zaruma, despite being male, continue to guard the ducklings. They are out and about for much of the day now too, always with the two male mothers guarding them – Godfrey with hisses and Zaruma with a little smile on his funny face.

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This morning my mother came over and we cried together and it was like a gift of rain on a rose bush thought dead, but now budding again; it was like a single dewdrop until you see there are hundreds of them; it was like a hidden stream, full of pebbles and tadpoles and lilies and, well (I can’t help myself here!) ducklings.

Motherhood is a powerful thing.

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The Peacock Family Adventures 1

This is my first attempt at a children’s picture book story – very much a first draft, but lots of fun. It’s dedicated to M, J, T, M and K.

The Peacock family lived on a little farm called Paradise.

Daddy Peacock’s name was King because he had the most powerful beak in the world.

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Mummy Peahen’s name was Queenie. King and Queenie loved each other very much.

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King and Queenie eventually had three peachicks: a little girl called True, and the twins, Kungfu and Mischief. When they were little, Queenie would organize tree-climbing competitions. She would fly to the top of the huge avocado tree and say, ‘ready, set, go!’ True always won because she was the biggest.

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The twins, Kungfu and Mischief, tried their best but they could never beat True to the top of the tree.

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Sometimes they all fell down to the ground but they never hurt themselves because Queenie showed them how to use their wings like parachutes. True already knew she had wings so, when Queenie was having her afternoon nap, True showed her little sister and brother how to fly.

When Kungfu learned to fly, he was so happy he flew straight into his dad’s feathers – BANG. But King didn’t mind at all because he had plenty of feathers and he loved to show them off.

Mischief was very good at tricks. She would sometimes pretend to fall out of the tree so that King would have to catch her. But King wasn’t fooled. He would play hide-and-seek with Mischief until she gave up and called ‘Daddy”. Then he would say BOO!

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Kungfu was the first peachick to grow feathers and every day he practised doing what his dad did. It was very hard to begin with but one day, he did it!

But True, being such a truthful peahen, would say, “Kungfu, you look ridiculous!” Then they would have an argument and Mischief would laugh and laugh and laugh, but very quietly.

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Mischief, being such a mischievous peahen, knew exactly how to laugh without looking like she was laughing. After all, she didn’t want to hurt Kungfu‘s feelings.

But Kungfu always knew when Mischief was laughing at him so he would wait until she was looking at her reflection in the pond and WHAMMO he would bite her big toes – both of them.

King and Queenie decided that they needed to talk to their children about their behaviour.

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“Do you think Mischief is a bit too mischievous, Darling?” asked Queenie.

“No, Sweetie-pie. She’s just growing up. I’m more worried that she will fall into her reflection in the pond,” said King.

“Yes, I’ll talk to her about that. What about True – do you think she is a bit too truthful, Darling?” asked Queenie.

“Yes and no. She really needs to stop pushing Kungfu‘s buttons,” said King, wisely.

“How can we stop Kungfu from biting Mischief‘s toes?” asked Queenie.

King thought for a moment.

“I have a good idea, Sweetie-pie. Let’s see if True can ask the sky. She is really good at that.”

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That night, as the Peacock Family settled down for the night, high up in the avocado tree, True waited until everyone was asleep, then she asked the sky.

And the big, red, pink, orange, yellow, beautiful sky answered her.

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Then, all of a sudden, Kungfu turned over in his sleep and accidentally kicked True off her branch.

To be continued ….

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