jmgoyder

wings and things

Son’s last Christmas as a child

Yes, even though Son is nearly 18, we are still doing the pillowcase thing (I think some call this the ‘Santa sack’). Our tradition, since he was born – derived from my parents’ tradition – is for him to leave an empty pillowcase at the end of his bed on Christmas Eve which then gets magically filled with presents before the morning.

I have never loved doing something as much as I love doing this! I always get so excited that I am the first one to wake up on Christmas morning – sometimes as early as 4am – then I have to go back to bed and wait for Son to wake up.

I guess this will be the last Christmas I go to such efforts – ha!

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Fog and Kabuterimon

Okay, a bit of context here for those of you who aren’t familiar with the Pokemon + Digimon phenomenon that swept (and continues to sweep) the world. No, it’s too huge a topic so please simply google if you’re interested. In the meantime here is a picture of Kabuterimon.

Kabuterimon was one of Son’s all-time favourites, when he was younger – and I remember learning (via Son’s careful tuition) what skills, attributes and possible/improbable failings this creature had. Obviously, Kabuterimon’s wings saved him from many frightening attacks, but this following experience with him will stay with me forever.

Son and I were in the car, coming home from leaving Husband in hospital to have his kidney removed for cancer.

Son (4 years old): What’s wrong with Daddy?

Me: He’s sick.

Son: What’s the matter with the road?

Me: It’s just fog.

Son: What’s fog?

Me: Mist.

Son: Mum, what’s mist?

Me: Magic.

Son: Will Kabuterimon come and help us?

Me: Yes.

Son: Will Kabuterimon be at home?

Me: Yes.

Note: By this time we were driving up our driveway, so were very nearly home, but the fog was incredibly thick and Son was scared of it. I was scared too but not about the fog. As soon as I parked the car, Son leapt out into the fog with no fear at all. I didn’t get it to begin with.

Son: MUMMY, he’s here – Kabuterimon is here – HE’S HERE!!

Me: Where?

Son: Right here in the fog, you silly. That’s what he does – he GIZES [disguises] himself to TWECT (protect] us – you, me and Daddy.

Me: Okay.

Wearily, I took his little hand and entered the house via the back veranda but only after giving a nod of thanks to Kabutermimon who stood, huge, under the fig trees.

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Do birds smile?

Do birds have facial expressions? I’m not sure, although many bird photographers (some of whom are my favourite bloggers), capture pictures of birds looking scared or angry or surprised – even happy – but I think might be skilled photography, not the bird actually shifting its features around to express any emotion.

Again, I’m not sure.

For me, it’s this lack of facial expression that makes it difficult to ‘read’ birds. Here are some examples:

Godfrey (the gander who likes to bite me) has the same arrogant expression on his face, regardless of whether he is defending his ‘brood’, tripping over his big feet or chasing me.

The Bubbles (our turkeys) have permanently ferocious expressions even when they are giving me their equivalent of a hug, which is sort of like wing-in-your-face+beak-in-your-neck gesture.

Zaruma and Tapper (the Muscovy ducks) always look innocent and befuddled, despite their canniness.

All of the geese look sweet and needy, even when they are fighting over food.

The emus look inquisitive and intellectual, even though one of them can’t tell the difference between a camera and a cabbage.

King and the rest of the peacocks always look a tiny bit disgruntled even though they are obviously ecstatically happy here.

Okay, so many of these bird expressions seem to contradict the reality of the situation, and I have started to take a better ‘look’ at their eyes because I think this may be the key to ‘reading’ them better.

Husband’s Parkinson’s has affected the muscles in his face, so much so that he is unable to smile properly, even when he’s happy, like now – happy to be home. I never realised, until today, how much, how much, how much I miss his huge, boisterous smile.

But the birds have taught me this: smiling isn’t everything!

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The trumpeting of angels – or not

Peacocks make a variety of very loud noises and I mean VERY LOUD. Some say that these are amongst the most annoying noises in the world. I was warned about this by the people who sold us our first peacocks, but it was several weeks before any of them made the slightest sound so the first time I heard it, I got a terrible fright because it sounded like a woman screaming – no, not screaming, SHRIEKING. Okay, so that’s one sound. Another one is this trumpeting sound – quite haunting and, to my ears, pleasant, although when they all do it together I am very glad we don’t have close neighbours because it sounds a bit like an orchestra tuning up – ie. a bit disharmonious!

Anyway, these noises fill the air for much of the day, on and off, but the three of us are so used to it now that we don’t even notice. So it’s fantastic fun to see the expression of alarm on visitors’ faces when the peacocks do the shrieking thing. “What the hell was that?” they exclaim.

It’s probably the squawking noise (see/hear youtube below) that most irritates people because it’s such an angry sound, but we don’t hear that too often thank goodness.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_DJNG-lxbk

My favourite of their sounds is this soft click-clicking that issues from their throats when I feed them bread or other treats. It’s almost if they are saying ‘thank you’.

Husband will be elated to come back to this trumpeting of angels (I think!)

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Is it a bird…? No, it’s my own personal super-hero

Finally, tomorrow, Husband is getting out of hospital and Son and I are elated (even though we still haven’t put the Christmas tree up – argh!)

The following pictures are a random sample that represent, for me, the idea of home which is, quite simply, us.

I cannot wait to have my hero home!

 

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Annie get your gun

That fox and I are going to do battle.

We have tried fox traps, lights and numerous other fox deterrents, including the introduction of two beautiful Alpacas (because I was told they keep foxes away), and we have built up the night-time yards so they are too high for a fox to climb in. So far, these yards have kept that fox out during nights, but it has become so brazen that, as you know from previous posts, it somehow got our first three free-ranging emus in broad daylight.

So, I am going to get a gun, learn to shoot and get my gun licence. Now, for those of you who find this disturbing, it’s important that you know that the fox is not natural to Australia; it was introduced in the mid 1800s for recreational hunting purposes and, fast forward to now, it has become a murderous pest. Foxes not only kill domestic birds, like ours, they kill a lot of the wildlife too.

I think the presence of the Alpacas has helped but they are such gentle animals I can’t imagine them killing anything!

Son named them Okami and Uluru. ‘Okami’ is, apparently, the Japanese word for a great spirit, god or wolf, and ‘Uluru’ is the Aboriginal term for what used to be called ‘Ayer’s rock’. So they have really powerful names, but their soft natures seem to contradict their reputation for being able to stomp on the fox problem.

So, what do you think about my getting-a-gun idea? I don’t see that I have any other choice. Obviously, as an animal lover, I empathise with this fox’s need to feed her cubs wherever they are but sometimes enough is enough!

That fox and I are going to do battle.

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Welcome home!

Last time Husband was in hospital in Perth, a visitor came in with three Irish terrier pups and Husband fell in love with them. So, after he got home I made some enquiries and found him a puppy, Jack, and Son and I surprised Husband. My mother was kind enough to go and get Jack from Perth and bring him home to us, so when she arrived we told Husband to close his eyes and I put Jack into his arms – well, kind of. Even at 4 months of age, Jack was a lot bigger than our miniature dachshunds, Doc and Blaze!

As you can see, Husband and Jack bonded immediately and they have a wonderful friendship. Unlike Doc and Blaze who are ‘outside/inside dogs’ ie. they are mostly outside but can come inside too, Jack is more of an ‘inside/outside’ dog, so he spends a lot of time at Husband’s feet in the living room and stretches out on the bedroom floor if Husband is having a rest.

On the phone to Husband yesterday, he said, “You haven’t bought any more birds, have you?”

“No,” I said, truthfully.

“Or dogs?”

“No.”

“Okay, then,” he said with a relieved sigh.

I didn’t tell him about the galah I’ve ordered. Husband has always loved galahs!

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‘Alone again, naturally’

The title of this post derives from the Gilbert O’Sullivan song of the 1960s and reminds me that, no matter how many people surround us, we are, fundamentally, alone. For some this is terrifying; for others (like me!) it is refreshing; for all of us, it is a reality. We are alone in the birth canal and in the death canal and that is a fact.

I have noticed, over the last several months, that if a bird has been injured, all of the other birds will leave it alone. There seems to be this instinctive compulsion in birds, and perhaps in many other animals, to get as far away as possible from the suffering or dying of their breed. Actually, it’s possibly more of a revulsion or a fear thing – I’m not sure.

We humans, on the other hand, sometimes feel as if we are supposed to gather around the injured or stricken of our breed, to empathize and commiserate, when what we really want to do is fly away. But we are good at pretending. Birds, on the other hand, don’t pretend, and I admire this unwitting honesty, this commonsense ….

…. this conundrum!

This chook is gone now and I will miss her so much.

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Baby emus by ‘dou dou’ and the new Emerys

‘Dou dou’ had made me some baby emus! Check them out at:

http://doudoubirds.wordpress.com/2011/12/17/baby-emus/

Anyone would think ‘dou dou’ had real emus right there in front of her because these look so much like our first Emerys it’s uncanny! Our second Emerys are much bigger of course, so I am thrilled to be getting these little ones because they will remind me – not in a sad way, but a happy way – of Emerys 1, 2 and 3.

Our new Emerys are becoming restless in their enclosure. They are so tame now that they run up to me when I arrive with cabbage so I am hoping to be able to let them out soon so that they can run more freely (emus love to run). My dilemma is that they might run into the back paddock where the fox lurks.

My plan is to let them out, two by two, in a Noah’s Arkish way, in the hope that they will do their sprinting within the five acres of our house block. I think that, if I stay outside and watch out for them, and have a lot of cabbage on hand, they will adjust to this new freedom and come to me if I call but it’s still going to be risky and I’m quite nervous, so wish me luck!

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Leftovers

What I mean by ‘leftovers’ here consists of the things I have forgotten to mention in previous posts –  for example:

1. Many of the photos I now use, to accompany my little stories, were taken randomly before I even knew what a blog was.

2. None of the photos I’ve taken since I started this blog have been ‘staged’; even the Ouch post was a spontaneous series of photos.

3. I am trying to take better photos with my new camera but I don’t seem to have the visual instinct required – will keep trying!

4. Weiros grind their teeth/beaks and I mean GRIND! Buttons is on my shoulder doing it now and it’s actually quite noisy and annoying!

5. Argh – Wantok is doing it now – that GRINDING thing! She does it quite loudly too.

6. I think Buttons might be a boy because apparently her/his big, round, orange cheeks indicate maleness and might explain why he is so enamoured of me (his beak under my chin right now, left eye curved up to meet mine, lots of snuggling).

7. Despite Son’s reluctance to embrace the ‘bird thing’, as he calls it, he and Wantok are so infatuated with each other that I feel a bit left out!

8. I am meticulous about grammar so sometimes I go back and edit past posts for posterity. I’m not sure if this is normal, but who cares. On the other hand, does anyone else do this?

9. WordPress is incredible in many ways but there are definitely a few glitches and I seem to keep falling into ALL of them!

10. Even though I am not lonely, or isolated, it is great to be meeting other bloggers who are wiser than I am.

11. This 11 is just to break up 10’s domination and just to say that, even though I said at the outset that there would be a photo with every post, it’s not always possible.

12. Husband comes home from hospital on Friday – yeeha!

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