wings and things

Last day of February, 2012


Picture this

I have some pictures I would like to show you:

  • The two crows I saw tonight, flying silently across the skyline, briefly silhouetted against the cloudset
  • Son, without his brace, on his motorbike
  • The huge white cockatoo who perched on top of our sky-high television aerial this morning
  • Husband laughing
  • Baby chickens hatching
  • My mother’s wedding day portrait
  • My father’s great big comfortable shoes
  • Wantok’s tribe flying overhead haphazardly
  • Five dead mice
  • The duck eggs before the emus ate them
  • All of the birds that were killed by the fox
  • My good intentions
  • Son playing golf
  • Husband having a beer with me on the veranda
  • The toy harp I played when I was 5
  • My brothers hugging me
  • Joy
  • Husband laughing
  • The huge white cockatoo who perched on top of our sky-high television aerial this morning
  • Son, without his brace, on his motorbike
  • The two crows I saw tonight, flying silently across the skyline, briefly silhouetted against the cloudset

I have some pictures I would like to show you….

[Note: I am going to take a brief blogging break for next few days – back next Monday – I really need to find out what that thing in the ceiling is and do a bit of conflict resolution!]


There is a bird on my balcony

I have just remembered a rather strange coincidence. The first sentence I ever wrote of my PhD thesis was “There is a bird on my balcony.” At the time I was living in a tiny bedsit in Perth but I was lucky enough to have a balcony underneath a massive tree, so one particular bird would occasionally transit back and forth from the branches of this tree to my balcony. This bird seemed (to me) to have stories within itself – vast stories.

This sentence was soon deemed by my lovely, but rather formidable, supervisor as not being a good way of beginning an academic work. My thesis was about Alzheimer’s Disease and stories because, in working as a nurse in various nursing homes, I had discovered the joy of listening to stories told by people with dementia, no matter how fragmented. Long story short, my thesis passed and I rewrote it for publication as a book in 2001. That makes it nearly 12 years old now!

The bird-on-the-balcony sentence fell by the wayside but it still resonates with me and I remember it now with a nostalgic fondness for my own naivetee at the time and a big nod to the irony of now – in so many ways.

As I no longer have a balcony, I can’t post a photo of this wonderful bird; I don’t even know what kind of bird it was or what kind of tree it lived in. But I will never forget it.

The past is the past.



A couple of weeks ago I got a phonecall from the wonderful people who now own Mathilda and Vegemite, our two ‘miniature’ pigs, to say that Mathilda had given birth to eight piglets! The stories of Mathilda and Vegemite are here:

Here are some pictures this family kindly took for me as I haven’t yet had a chance to visit. The pictures were emailed to me this morning and I was overjoyed! It is so great to know that Mathilda and Vegemite are so happy at their new home, although I still miss them terribly.

Apparently Mathilda has taken to motherhood with alacrity, as you can see!

There is nothing like a pig picture to pep a person up!

When Son eventually gets up from his slumber, I am going to scare the hell out of him and say I have decided to bring the spotty one home – hehehehe! I will wait until his shock begins to turn into rage and then I will say “just kidding!”

I can’t wait to take the pictures in to show Husband – he will be delighted.

Oh, and Vegemite is about to give birth too!


‘This is your life’

A few final moonflowers popped up this morning, but I think they are now finished for the year. How would I know? I got it wrong before!

After a lengthy appointment this morning, to get Son’s post-surgery dressing changed by a nurse and his wound examined by our doctor, we went to visit Husband in the nursing lodge. Son was in his back brace and the pain had kicked in again so he took one of his pills before seeing Husband. I filled Husband in on the latest details about Son’s next few months of convalescence – the physiotherapy he would need, the fact that he isn’t allowed to lift even two kilos, his moody frustration and so on. Husband wanted to come home to help and I had to explain that this wouldn’t help, that it would make things harder as I would have two invalids to look after (yeah, sometimes my words don’t come out the way I intend them to).

Apparently Son will never be able to do this again:

Husband insisted on walking us out to the car even though he was quite wobbly. As we drove off, I saw him in the rear vision mirror, standing in parking lot, leaning on his walking stick looking so forlorn I wanted to reverse the car and rescue him, bring him home, but I couldn’t because by then Son’s pain was so bad he needed to lie down, so I had to rush home. I was crying (which Son says I do too much of) because I had forgotten to harden my heart.

Okay, so one of the things that has been said to me by my beautiful friends and family is this: “Soon you will get your life back. It will get better.” Now, whilst I agree with the latter, I don’t understand the former because this IS my life and Husband and Son ARE my life. Yes, I have my writing, the birds, my connection to the local university and many other joys, including this blog, and Husband and Son have never made me feel guilty for the time I spend writing. Bravo to them.

You know what I miss most? Sitting out on the front veranda with Husband and Son and chatting together every evening as the sun went down. We didn’t do this often enough in the recent months as Husband’s Parkinson’s disease got the better of him, but those conversations were the best! I don’t want a future without Husband here, but I know that he and I both have to adjust to that reality. And I don’t want a future without Son’s company but, once his spine is completely healed, he will inevitably leave to pursue his many dreams. Yeah, I know I’ve already posted this photo but this is the three of us back in 2009 when things were okay-ish.

Soon it will just be the birds and me.

This is my life and, despite the difficult, sad bits, every single micro-second with Husband and Son has been joy.

I don’t want any other life!


Absence makes the heart grow furious

When our two male golden pheasants, Phoenix 1 and Phoenix 2, went to war over a female, and Phoenix 2 flew away, I was at first alarmed, then bereft, then relieved to find out that Phoenix 2 was happily living with neighbours.

Strangely, even though Phoenix 1 – picture below – banished his brother, he, too, has been bereft and rather reclusive and obviously very lonely.

For months now he has been coming to the back veranda window to stare forlornly at his reflection. He has also been really silent and moody and seems quite angry to be the only pheasant here now. He misses the females he and his brother fought over but like I said to him yesterday, ‘It’s your fault – you scared them all away!” Funnily enough, my harsh words drew him closer to me and he took the bit of cabbage in my hand. He doesn’t usually come so close, so that was lovely.

It was almost as if he knew that I knew that he knew we were both in similar predicaments of loss. I’m not sure.



I have an aversion to awards, accolades and so on. When I wrote my PhD, many years ago now, I did so because I wanted passionately to write about something, not get a PhD. It was a couple of years before I got around to adding “Dr” to my name on the office door at the university and I only did that because my mother insisted (hehe!) I did try for a promotion a couple of times but I failed because the promotion application required me to sing my own praises across several octaves and I just couldn’t get used to that kind of tune.

So, at the risk of seeming ungracious, I haven’t responded to the multitude of award nominations I’ve received from fellow bloggers (well, three!) because, again, I just cannot seem to play to that tune. I’m grateful to those lovely nominators but something stops me from entering into that kind of thing; I hope that’s okay. I guess I also have a bit of an aversion to the various rules of the award games; I would rather acknowledge other bloggers via url-ing or re-blogging.

Am I being a bad sport?


Pull your socks up!

Yesterday was supposed to be fantastic, with Husband home for the day. I had sushi, smoked salmon and blue cheese (some of Husband’s favourites) ready for lunch. But Husband doesn’t have much of an appetite these days so it ended up being a bit of an anti-feast.

Yesterday was supposed to be fantastic and I had envisioned one of those sentimental scenes in which people who love each other run across fields of daffodils in slow motion and embrace; after all, Husband and Son hadn’t seen each other for over two weeks. But when I picked Husband up from the nursing lodge he was uncharacteristically grumpy because I was late, and, when we got home, Son was asleep. The daffodil-ish scenario evaporated and a whoosh of disappointment blew through the house.

Yesterday was supposed to be fantastic, but by the time Son woke up, Husband was outside trying to water the garden, I was walking the emus whilst keeping an eye on Husband, we somehow lost Husband’s new walking stick, then I lost sight of the emus, then I lost sight of Husband, then the tension reached a nasty twang when Son came outside to yell at Husband to come inside so they could watch a movie together and have a talk and a hug! I told Son later that if he needed a hug he would have to ask less angrily…. Mmmm.

Yesterday was fantastic when, finally, both my men ended up watching Red Dog after which Son had a ‘deep-and-meaningful’ with Husband about how he now identifies with being disabled. The difference is, of course, that Son is getting better and Husband is getting worse. I intentionally withdrew from their company so they could watch the movie together in manny mode. When I heard them chatting, I was relieved because over the last year or so, Son has found Husband increasingly difficult to relate to and vice versa.

Yesterday was fantastic when both of them called me to put their socks on. Unfunnily enough, one of the things they now have in common is that neither of them can manage this. Earlier, Son said, “Sorry, Mum, this like what you do for Dad”, but I said, “No, your feet are much bigger,” and we had one of those half-hearted laughs where you can only manage a one-syllable ‘ha’ rather than a ‘hahahaha’.

Yesterday was supposed to be fantastic and it wasn’t. And then it was. And then it wasn’t again.

So, once I’d taken Husband back to the nursing lodge and settled Son into bed for a late afternoon nap (he is still on very strong painkillers), I went out to spend time with the birds.

Then I pulled my socks up.


The turkeys grow up

Our three turkeys are getting huge but, when I purchased them as chicks, I saw various of their parents so I know they may well grow even huger! I loved them when they were little and cute but now I adore their big robustness. Here is one of the Bubbles with Baby Turkey underneath the two ancient fig trees. They are the only birds who eat the figs – they eat masses of them which is probably why they are growing so fast!

It’s hard to believe they were ever this teensy!

Despite their angry looking faces, they are the friendliest of all our birds. They love to be patted and nearly jump into my lap when I bring bread out. The guinnea fowl and peacocks are much more nervous birds. Even though we have had guinnea fowl for longer than any of the others, I still can’t handfeed them or touch them. The peacocks will take food from my hand but if I try to pat them they get really jumpy so I’ve stopped trying – it doesn’t matter. The turkeys, however, will nibble my clothes for a pat!

I still miss that very first Bubble – the one we lost in the early days of our bird adventure.

Husband is coming home for the day and, apart from the guinnea fowl, the turkeys are his favourite birds. I think he’ll be quite glad to see Son too!


‘The look’

Here is ‘the look’:

‘The look’ represents many things and can be very difficult to interpret at times. For example, ‘the look’ can look like determination or courage, but it can also look like melancholy or resignation.

I didn’t take this photo of Son before his surgery; someone else did, however today I have been the lucky (ha!) recipient of just such a look, but this time ‘the look’ looked like rage or frustration. Fortunately I was ready for today’s fall from the great heights of elation, so our spat was relatively short-lived and bandaged with an awkward hug (it’s hard to hug a plastic corset), so all is well again.

Navigating the hills and valleys of our next few weeks is going to be tricky. Son’s corset thing is very restricting and he has to wear it all the time, except during the night when he sleeps. Today, full of energy, he wanted to do some of his usual outside jobs, but he couldn’t; he couldn’t even lift the bucket of water that he’d managed for fill for the dogs.

I think it might be awhile before we all see another ‘look’ from Son. The following photo was also taken before his surgery.

I will watch and wait for this other ‘look’ for as long as it takes….