wings and things


Last October it was my mother’s birthday (she is one year older than Husband) so my gift to her was a weekend with Son at the best, and most difficult, golf course in Western Australia. I knew I had to do this while Son was still young enough to want to do ‘Grandma stuff’ and my mother knew it too! Anyway, it was a great success as you can see from these pictures!

It was just after this golf weekend that Husband’s condition began to deteriorate rapidly. That’s what happens with Parkinson’s disease when someone has had it for nearly ten years; the disease becomes voracious – monstering and masking all the best efforts in terms of medication and doctors’ advice – obliterating the future.

No amount of filling these grey-black weeks with the birds, a cuckoo clock, and a beautiful Irish terrier, could compete with a disease that mocked us, a disease that disempowered us, a disease that swallowed Husband, Son and me into a Jonah’s whale vortex with no chance of escape.

Hence, for the first time in Son’s nearly 18 years, Christmas was a great big fizzog, with the usual joy supplanted by multiple weepings – Grandma, Son, Husband and me.

So, that evening, my mother and Son exchanged notes and this is what they said to each other. I wasn’t privy to these emails until a day or so later.

An excerpt from an email from my mother to Son 25 December 2011:

This has probably been the hardest Christmas you have ever had hasn’t it. Moving from childhood to adulthood is an ongoing transition anyway, but Christmas zeros right in to the heart of things, and for you, the childhood anticipation and wonder is having to be replaced so suddenly and harshly because it’s all tied up with your dad’s illness and the trauma the family is going through.

I am just so glad you had those beautiful gifts for your mum. She is so devoted to you and gosh, she wouldn’t be surviving this stuff without your strength and the love you have for each other.

I love and admire you more than you’ll ever know, and when I can’t be there to take care of my daughter, and I know she’s falling apart, it is such a comfort that I know she has a son like you, to help shoulder it all.  Years from now, you’ll look back on this time and know that this is what has formed your strength of character, and made you a man. But right now though, you are a boy/man and have a right to feel hurt and confused. I am always available if you need me. You know that don’t you. I love you so much Darling. Gma xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

An excerpt from email sent from Son to my mother the same night:

Your the best Grandma and this is the best family / life anyone could ever imagine to have. I am indeed too lucky. In so many ways there’s a lot of good and some bad never 50/50 I grown to realise life gets harder but it also gets much better! There is always hard patches that seem to get worst over time but the that makes the good so much better! Therefore “Life really does get better and better!” I will always remember that saying you said years back “dark can never go into light – But light can shatter dark” & I thank you so much for your help. Todays a new day and I feel real good!

Thanks Grandma xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

I am very lucky, aren’t I, to have such a wonderful husband, son and mother!


Little Chooks 1 and 2

Little Chooks 1 and 2, our two identical Araucana hens, went missing weeks ago and, even though I thought that the fox might have nabbed them, I hoped they were sitting on eggs somewhere.

So, you can imagine my relief when Son told me he’d seen one of them emerge, rather bedraggled, from underneath one of the sheds, the other afternoon. This means that she is definitely sitting on eggs deep under that shed and, hopefully, we’ll soon see some offspring.

I haven’t seen either of the Little Chooks myself, and it isn’t the same shed as the one where Sussex and Malay produced their chicks (see a previous post). With them, we could at least see underneath the shed and watch the progress, leave water and food etc. The shed that Little Chooks have chosen is impenetrable, so I will just have to wait and hope.

Hope can be risky.


Thanks to doudou for posting this – it is amazing!


Imprinting 2: On the other hand ….

Despite my last post, there is something about this imprinting thing that niggles at my sense of right and wrong, or whatever you want to call it – animal morality? Dunno.

It niggles in the same way that the idea of putting poultry in nappies (see a previous post – many moons ago), niggled. I think it niggles because there is something false and coercive about adopting a baby gosling, duckling, or any infant bird, with the express purpose of imprinting; it seems too much like animal experimentation, almost circus-like.

I put my hand up as someone who was ‘guilty’ of being interested in this imprinting thing – yes. However, when  it soon became apparent that Zaruma (our first duckling), and Pearl (our first gosling), much preferred each other’s company to mine, I realized how silly I was being. After all, they still love me too!

I guess I have always had a strong aversion to coercion so, unless a goose wants to come up and give me a cuddle (a rather bizarre but lovely thing if it happens naturally), I don’t ‘go there’.

Even if I wanted to, guess who would soon stop me? My competitor – Godfrey! And, despite our differences, I have to concede that he is a much better gosling-cuddler than I will ever be because, last time I looked in the mirror, I was still a human. Go Godfrey!



I find the phenomenon of imprinting absolutely fascinating and it was one of the things that got me interested in acquiring some geese in the first place. Apparently, birds imprint on humans and other species more readily than any other kind of animal, with geese being the most ‘imprintable’.

Basically, imprinting occurs when the newborn gosling knows itself to be of the same species as the first creature it encounters. Obviously, this is usually the mother goose but if the newborn is adopted by a human soon after hatching, or else is found abandoned, it will attach itself to the adopter with incredible tenacity. The article below describes imprinting in more detail.

When I first heard about imprinting and geese, I desperately wanted to do it (a lonely moment of madness perhaps?) and, yes, it certainly did happen with all of the goslings, even when we purchased them at a week old. For example, Pearl, Woodroffe and Diamond (our Sebastopol goslings), and Ola and Seli (our Pilgrim goslings) were, from the very beginning, very pattable, pick-up-able and needy of my presence in their lives.

They’re a little big now to pick up but they still follow me everywhere. The imprinting thing didn’t happen with Godfrey, the godfather of gandersom, because we got him at two years of age. He only follows me when he wants to get a bite out of my leg!

I love it!




Paradoxitis: def. Being very happy and very sad at the same time.

A tentative mutual decision was made the other day about how best to manage Husband’s Parkinson’s disease. When Son was little, we all used to sing a variation of the song The two of us. We would press our three noses together and sing, “The three of us, we’ll always be together just the three of us, walking along, singing a song, lalala” at the top of our lungs. Now, for the three of us, this is no longer a physical possiblility as the room Husband is in at the nursing lodge has become available permanently.

When I got home from visiting him yesterday I was overwhelmed by an attack of paradoxitis so I went to get my camera and sat outside for awhile. I was in a bit of a daze and the camera fell off my lap and took a picture all by itself – of the way things are. The world has tilted.


Why me?

I was just walking from the bank to MacDonalds with Son – a fairly regular and uneventful activity. This time, however, now that I am so bird-aware, I noticed how many seagulls were around, even though the beach is a few kilometres away.

I remarked to Son, “Look at all the seagulls!”

Son remarked to me, “Yes, they’re fascinating, aren’t they Mum,” his voice dripping.

Then, all of a sudden, a more significant drip dripped onto my head; a seagull’s poop had landed on my forehead. Oh, the horror of it!

Luckily, MacDonalds has a bathroom, so I raced in to wash the poop out of my hair, trying not to look like a character from Scream 1,2,3,4,5,  while Son, beside himself with laughter, ordered our burgers.

It should have been Son’s sarcastic head the seagull pooped on.

Why me?

ps. Sorry there isn’t a picture in this post but (a) I didn’t know this was going to happen; (b) I still haven’t found the zoom button on my new camera; and (c) a photo of seagull’s poop landing on some innocent woman’s head didn’t seem appropriate.


Baby Turkey

The little beige turkey, ‘Baby Turkey’, who was the only survivor of the four we bought several weeks ago (fox got two and one got ill), has lost all his timidity and is now the boldest of all the turkeys. He is not as sweet as the Bubbles; actually, he’s not sweet at all and has a terrible temper. But he’s extremely clever and, even though he can fly, he actually likes to climb trees and ladders by hopping up from branch to branch, or rung to rung.

But Baby Turkey’s latest hobby is to perch on top of one of the chook houses and watch the emus in their yard. He doesn’t watch them with interest or awe or admiration – he watches them with extreme malevolence. I don’t know why he hates them so much but he does and the other day when I was taking the emus for a walk, he continually attacked them by flying up to their eye level and trying to claw them. This resulted in all of the Emerys zigzagging here there and everywhere in a panic, and made rounding them up a nightmare.

In the above photo you can see Baby Turkey in the background, aiming one of his evil eyes in the Emerys’ direction while they innocently munch their cabbage. And when I reprimand him by saying, sternly, “Stop that, Baby Turkey” I can see shivers creeping up the rather long spines of the emus, just at the mention of his name.

So we now have three birds who have anger issues: Godfrey the gander, Tina Turner the rooster and, now, Baby Turkey. I will have to put a sign at the front gate – Beware of the Birds.


James Bond

As a new photographer, with a new camera, but with no natural skill or training, I waited outside this afternoon for Son to come and show me where the ‘zoom’ button was, because I wanted to get some photos of the blue wrens surrounding me.

While I waited, I fiddled around with the various camera devices, looking desperately for the zoom function while blue wrens danced on my lap, kissed my fingers and finally settled onto my boots (none of which I can prove because, firstly, I’m exaggerating and, secondly, Son didn’t come back out of the house to show me where the stupid zoom button was).

Eventually, as stealthily as James Bond, I crept back into the house to discover that Son was dividing his time between Facebook and sweeping the kitchen floor (yeah, go figure) and not likely to help me for some time. As I was still in spy mode, I decided not to let this bother me, so I simply crept back outside, unnoticed by Son.

The blue wrens had gone so I took my camera up to the nearest paddock and took some photos of the beautiful steers belonging to our neighbours. One of them seemed to like me, which was comforting.

He and I took our first encounter cautiously –  one spy with another – but eventually he revealed his identity and I expressed my awe. And shock!

Look closely at his tag! 007! Imagine my embarrassment at pretending to be him! He was very forgiving though, this very real James Bond!


‘Duuuuuuh’ moments

This morning I took Son to an outdoor concert where he is helping set up for the various bands. He would love to be performing himself, but these are professional bands and Son is still a novice, having only done three gigs so far. I reckon he looks the part though!

When I dropped him off, I asked him if there might be a slight chance he could perform, he said, “Mum, I have already told you a million times – NO! Sometimes you are really slow on the uptake!” He then pointed to his own big head and twirled his fingers to indicate the ‘duuuuuh’ sign. Yes, well….

Then I went to pick Husband up from the nursing lodge, to come home for the day. I stopped at the town’s farmers’ market to buy some cabbages (I usually get around ten at a time) and lettuces. On my way through the checkout, the girl serving me asked, “Where is your restaurant?” which, because of my slow mental reflexes, I thought was rather a strange question until she pointed to the mountain of cabbages.

“Oh,” I said, “no, these are just for my birds.”

“How many chooks do you have?” she asked, interested.

“This is actually for the emus,” I said.

When she laughed her head off, I realized she thought I was joking but, because Husband was waiting in the car, I didn’t bother to clarify.

“About five chooks,” I said.

“Wow, they must eat a lot,” she said, still laughing.

Another ‘duuuh’ moment.

Husband’s reunion with home and the dogs was lovely. I let them inside for awhile. Don’t be fooled by Husband’s lack of expression; that’s just the Parkinson’s disease. Doc is the one on his lap and Jack is our Irish Terrier. Blaze (Doc’s son) tends to cower when he is excited, so he isn’t in the picture because he stayed under one of the chairs (he and Doc have a fractious father/son relationship).

And then, all of a sudden, before the kettle had even boiled, the power went off – and stayed off for a couple of hours. So, no television, no airconditioning (it’s over 30 degrees and humid today), no water, no telephone. I plugged in the old telephone that doesn’t rely on electricity and rang the power emergency line and was put on hold, hold, hold, until I gave up and went back into the sitting room with Husband who suggested we have a beer! Okay, so we did that, had a chat about the future and then I said, “Okay I’m going to ring them again now.”

“Why?” Husband asked.

“Because I’m sick of this!” I said, impatiently. “We need electricity – this is ridiculous, waiting all this time.”

“But it’s fine,” Husband said, a strange look on his face.

“What?” I said. “Wait, I can’t hear you; the television is too loud.”

And, bingo, that’s when I realized that the power had come back on during our serious talk about the future and I hadn’t even noticed.

We both cracked up laughing after which Husband said he needed to have a lie down (laughter can be exhausting!)

And I am still laughing while I am writing about my third ‘duuuh’ moment in a single day – argh!