wings and things

Cheer up!

Emery 1: Is Julie okay?

Emery 2: Shut up, Emery 1, and eat your dinner – I’ve saved you the crusts

Emery 3: Those funny little chicks out there yesterday were rather cute weren’t they!

Emery 2: (munching) Well they’re gone now aren’t they?

Emery 1: Oh, poor Julie

Emery 2: They were just guinnea fowl – get over it!

Emery 3: You really are callous aren’t you and you’re the female of this group!

Emery 2: I am not a female!

Emery 1: Actually, I think Emery 3 might be right, Emery 2 – you could be a female

Emery 2: Hell, I hope not!

Angelina: Where’s Julie?

Bubble: I’m not sure. I think she’s out there somewhere looking for those chicks.

Angelina: I hope she finds them! I’ve been looking for them too, you know, just out of curiosity.

Brad: I hate to say this, Angie, but I think a fox might have taken them.

Angelina: If so, I think we better gather around the back door and make sure Julie is okay.

Brad: Good idea – let’s go – let’s cheer her up!



Well, the baby guinnea fowl (they’re called ‘keets’) are all gone. There is no sign that they ever existed in the first place – no little feathers or corpses, nothing – and our 12 adult guinneas are roaming around as if nothing ever happened. If Son and I had been away for a couple of days, we would never have known and would probably have assumed the broken eggs had been eaten by something. So we let nature take its course and nature swallowed them up into animal heaven I guess. I am more shocked than upset and wish I had at least rescued a few but most of the advice given to me suggested to let them be with the mother(s).

I only held one little lost one in my hands for a few moments before Son discovered the rest with the adults, so we put it back with them. I still have a tiny thread of hope we might find one or two but it’s a very thin thread. So, another lesson learned the hard way. I will be much more careful when Tapper’s eggs hatch (if they ever do!) although I think ducks are better mothers than guinneas.

I wanted to take a photo of them yesterday but I didn’t because I was afraid of this – afraid of taking a picture of something we might lose. But I trusted that mother guinnea, and the fox lights, and nature, and I knew it was just as much a risk to take the babies away and put them in a brooder in the house because they might be too shocked.

The image of them cheeping and running around with the adults in the back paddock is a good memory and I have decided to refuse to feel regret and remorse because there isn’t any point. They are gone.


A strange day

Today was a bit of a strange collection of moments so I have decided to write this post in point form:

  • Son and I arrive at nursing lodge at 11.30am to have lunch with Husband (we had arranged meals for us too – amazing and only just found out we could do this any time!)
  • Husband has difficulty getting out of the armchair in his room but the three of us slowly make our way to the dining room (Son getting grumpy, me getting hungry)
  • We get to the dining room to find staff have set up a special table just for us out in the garden area (I am amazed and impressed by this thoughtfulness)
  • Our meals are served to us as if we are in a restaurant and we all sit down (although by the time I get Husband into his chair and sitting comfortably, our roast dinner is getting a little cool and Son is beginning to grimace ferociously)
  • We all begin to eat and Son and I take turns trying to open the special beer for Husband which requires a bottle opener which is not something nursing lodges have on hand
  • Husband starts eating his meal as if it is his last meal ever (he has always eaten enthusiastically), so Son and I do the same until we are full then Husband asks for our leftovers – Son’s cauliflower and my potatoes)
  • I try again with the stupid beer bottle and then Husband takes it from me and gets a fork and opens it easily (Son and I crack up laughing at our bleeding fingers and our ineptitude)
  • Husband gives us both a twinkly-eyed look before telling us fondly that we are both hopeless and has a couple of sips of beer
  • We exchange short, unfinished, weird conversations between mouthfuls
  • Dessert arrives – some sort of creamy thing that Husband wolfs down in a state of pure bliss (I begin to feel a bit guilty that I haven’t made more desserts for him over the years!)
  • Husband begins to say strange things and all of a sudden it happens; his eyes go dead, his head drops towards his chest and he is almost unconscious
  • Son and I exchange looks, wondering if he is pretending (yes, Husband has a wicked sense of humour); we watch and wait and then realize it’s for real
  • I go and get a nurse to come and see. I say, “This is what happened at home on Easter Monday when I got the ambulance. I just thought I should show you.”
  • Several nurses come and get a bit of a shock because Husband’s eyes have rolled back, he has gone pale and he is unresponsive
  • A doctor is rung, a senior nurse is contacted, a hoist is brought outside to get Husband into a wheelchair back into his room and to bed
  • Son and I stay with him for another hour or so during which a nurse comes and takes his blood pressure etc. Gradually, Husband comes out of whatever it is and focusses on us but not quite – his eyes are still sharky and vague
  • Son and I leave after tucking him in on his side, the way he likes to lie down and we put the ANZAC Day channel on the television for him
  • Husband murmurs why are we leaving (by this time we have been there nearly 3 hours – okay, not long, but long enough)
  • Son and I get home and have a bit of a tiff (neither of us are particularly upset, just frustrated I guess)
  • We get out of our ute and I hear cheeping from the bush where the guinnea fowl’s eggs are and Son finds one little chick all alone, so I take him into the house with me, thinking the rest haven’t survived
  • Son then discovers a dozen of them out in the back paddock with all their mummies, so we take the little one back to the group and now we are hoping they will survive tonight (I did a lot of quick research and made some phonecalls to people who know about guinnea fowl and the majority think letting nature do its best is a good call
  • As dusk approaches Son and I discover that all but one guinnea mum have flown into the trees and this one dedicated mother has all the chicks under her in the paddock so we put both of our fox lights on either side of her and we are now hoping for the best until tomorrow morning
  • I then ring Husband and finally get through and he says, groggily, “Where are you? I’m at home,” and I say “No, I’m at home and you’re at the nursing lodge because you had one of those turns again.” I then tell him about the guinnea fowl chicks and he is delighted in a subdued way, then asks, “But what about me?”
  • “I don’t know,” I say, “Try to get some sleep, please!”(He agrees this is a good idea and I tell him I will be in tomorrow).
  • I rang the nursing lodge a moment ago and spoke to a nurse who said Husband was calling out for me, over and over again and I told her I couldn’t get through to him on his phone so would she check him out and say goodnight for us and she said of course and reassured me
  • And outside, between those fox lights, one mother guinnea fowl nestles her chicks underneath her and I hope for the best….


Gosling advice needed for one of my readers please!

I have copy/pasted an interesting query here so if any of you poultry people have advice for Ashley, please comment here or see her comment on my ‘Imprinting’ post from way back. Thanks in advance.

Ashley M commented on Imprinting

While I was driving home 2 nights ago in the pouring rain, I found a newborn gosling in the middle of the road. When I ran and picked him up i looked around for any others or even the mother and it turned out he had been separated. I went to a local feeds store and picked up starting feed. So far, he’s been eating very well and is really happy. He has been following me around at my very heels and hates to be separated from me. So, I’ve had to sleep with every night. I’m assuming he’s imprinted on me and it’s the cutest thing. This morning i didn’t shut my bedroom door all the way and he ended up in my bathroom while i was taking a shower and i ended up putting him in with me. He loved it!!! again, he remained at my feet. I’m only 19 and a freshman in college, thankfully, living on my own in my apartment. I purchased diapers for him so I’m curious to see how that turns out. My concerns are him maturing and learning to fly. I would be so heart broken if he flew away south in the winter and never returned. If you could let me know what else i can do to raise him and what to expect when he matures. Thanks, Ashley!



This is just one link to the history of this day; there are many others on the internet.

But what has touched me most is the following comment from my new blog friend, Nia at

Here is what she says:

First of all Thank you for visiting my blog, dear Julie. I am so glad to meet you. These photographs and your writing are so nice… My love and My prayers for you too on this Anzac Day… It is a memorial day, for us too.

In Turkey the name “ANZAC Cove” was officially recognised by the Turkish government on Anzac Day in 1985. In 1934, Kemal Atatürk delivered the following words to the first Australians, New Zealanders and British to visit the Gallipoli battlefields. This was later inscribed on a monolith at Ari Burnu Cemetery (ANZAC Beach) which was unveiled in 1985. The words also appear on the Kemal Atatürk Memorial, Canberra, and the Atatürk Memorial in Wellington:

“Those heroes that shed their blood     And lost their lives.     You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.     Therefore rest in peace.     There is no difference between the Johnnies     And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side     Here in this country of ours.     You, the mothers,     Who sent their sons from far away countries     Wipe away your tears,     Your sons are now lying in our bosom     And are in peace     After having lost their lives on this land they have     Become our sons as well.”

Thank you, Blessing and Happiness, dear Julie with my love, nia

I think you will agree that the above quote says it all – not just about ANZAC Day and what it means, but about life and death and the longevity of love and loyalty and maybe God.


Love story 9

Sometimes Inna liked to take me for a walk around the garden after her afternoon rest.

Sometimes it would take awhile to find her elusive walking stick (the same one Husband uses now!)

Sometimes we would pick grapefruit from the orchard, camellias and roses for the vases.

Sometimes we would venture over to the dairy where Husband and his two farmworkers were finishing up.

Inna would ask Husband to turn one of the milk cans upside down so she could sit down and I would stand awkwardly next to her watching Husband but trying not to.

Sometimes Inna would catch my eye and blink knowingly and my face would flush pink from the neck up.

Sometimes Husband would glance in our direction with obvious irritation because we were in the way.

I would ride my bicycle home trying hard to keep his look of irritation at the forefront of my mind in order to stop my heart from galloping too far ahead

But it didn’t work.


The three of us

One of the things the three of us used to love doing was to go for little trips and stay at cabins or hotel rooms or holiday houses. The last time we did this was about a year ago and I remember thinking it would probably be the last time all three of us would have a holiday together because Husband’s health was fading fast and Son was 17 so he would lose interest. And, in just the last few weeks, it has become apparent that even going to a restaurant will be fraught with difficulties. So, as tomorrow is Anzac Day, a day that Husband, Son and I have enormous respect for, I have ordered meals for all three of us in his nursing lodge room, where we can watch the parade on television. It will be a bit like being in a hotel, and it will be a perfect occasion to pay homage to the ties with our various ancestors and each other.

Here are three ridiculous pictures of our last holiday away together. I love it when the two ‘boys’ rough and tumble – ha!

Don’t worry – Husband is only pretending to be scared in this one!

I’ve just realized how similar the layout of this hotel room is to Husband’s private room in the nursing lodge!

It will be the three of us inside Anzac Day one way or another!


Silent versus noisy grief

In Western culture we don’t seem to have rituals of grief like other cultures. Yes, I realize that this is an overgeneralization, and debateable, however I have noticed at the various funerals I’ve been to over the years that it is appropriate to cry softly, to squeeze your heaving throat, and block your mouth’s sobs with a tissue but often, if anyone weeps loudly, they are avoided because it is so scary.

In many other cultures (we lived in Papua New Guinnea when I was a teenager), loud weeping is not only acceptable around death and illness, it is expected. I remember being shocked the first time I heard this wailing of grief. Here though, in Australia, the expression of grief is somehow inhibited, controlled. Even at my own father’s funeral over 30 years ago I remember, as a 19-year-old firstly being unable to cry from the shock (he died suddenly) but then being unable to stop crying and having to force myself to stop for the sake of dignity or control or something – I don’t know.

The other night – one of the nights Husband was supposed to have come home and Son was out – I woke up to the dark, creaky house, thinking I had heard Husband’s knock (he knocks on the wall of the bedroom if he needs me). It took me a moment to realize that he wasn’t even home, let alone knocking, so I tried to go back to sleep in the adjacent bed to his empty one. And then it hit me like a tidal wave of such intensity – that he was never going to come back except as a visitor to his own home – and I wailed and wept and scream-sobbed my way into dawn with our whole life together playing like a movie in my mind compared to the wretchedness of now. And I know there are so many other people who are gradually losing someone they love to illness but are unable to wail like I did because of the proximity of neighbours.

Husband and I have lost each other the way we were, and Husband and Son have lost each other the way they were too, and this is of such gut-grinding grief that it stops my breath.



Going with the flow 2…..

Don’t panic – this ‘going with the flow’ stuff is not going to become a series, but I would like to emphasize one of Husband’s most beautiful attributes – the ability to laugh at himself. Yesterday, for instance, when he was home for the day, he was utterly unable to walk at all for most of the time, so I reminded him of our marathon the other day and, as I was re-telling the story, he and I both started to laugh at the ridiculousness of it.

Some people can laugh at themselves and some people can’t but I think everyone should be able to because it sure as hell beats crying or being embarrassed. It’s a really honest, transparent kind of laughing and I learned how to do it from Husband so I now laugh at myself a lot. I find this a lot more refreshing than all that self-analysis stuff that Son likes to do which is probably part of teenagerdom – dunno.

A while ago, when Husband was home for the weekend, we got out the abs machine I stopped using because Wantok the red-tailed black cockatoo destroyed bits of it (see long-ago posts). We got it out to take it to the dump. At the time, Julie-who-is-terrified-of-birds was visiting and she said she’d take it. All of a sudden, Husband, who had been sitting in a chair incapacitated, leapt up and onto (well not quite that fast) the abs machine and did about ten abswings. Son and I watched hysterically because none of us had been able to get to five, let alone ten. I was terrified Husband would have a heart attack or something but he did the ten swings after which all three of us had to help him up and then we all collapsed into laughter with Husband laughing the most!

Husband doesn’t laugh like he used to; it’s as if he’s forgotten how. He used to have this huge, loud laugh where his face all crinkled up but now the Parkinson’s has rendered his face impassive for the most part.  Son, pictured on the right here, has the same laugh thank goodness!


Going with the flow….

Well, having Husband home for the weekend, and even going out to lunch and various other plans, went awry over the last few days so I am learning not to anticipate anything with too much excitement anymore – and to always have a contingency plan!

For example, on the day I had planned for us to go to our favourite restaurant for lunch, Son didn’t want to and Husband didn’t either, so I left Son home, went into the nursing lodge and Husband was extremely mobile and eager to go for a walk, something I haven’t done with him before – well except on the farm – because usually he is too immobile. I was amazed as he led me rather speedily down the hallway from his room to the nurse’s station and to the locked doors which the nurses opened for us to go out into the sunshine.

“Well, your new meds. are working well,” I said, bemused as Husband pulled me along in the slipstream of his unexpected energy. We walked down the nursing home driveway then followed a sandy trail that backed onto houses on the same street and proceeded up a bit of a hill. At the top of the hill, I turned around and exclaimed over the ocean view which you can’t see from the nursing lodge. We had been walking for ten minutes so I assumed we would go back to the nursing lodge but Husband wanted to keep going down the other side of the hill which was very sandy and steep, so on we went! By then we were around half a kilometre away from the nursing lodge and Husband was beginning to falter and I was beginning to panic.

“It’s just around the corner,” he said.

“What is?”

“Bythorne,” he said (Bythorne is the name of our farm).

It was then that I realized that the same drugs that are making Husband more mobile might also be increasing confusion and hallucinations (I know this because it’s happened before).

He then said that he could see Bythorne and I had to gently remind him that home was 15 kms away, but he just said, “So? I can make it. What’s wrong with you?” Thinking quickly, I said I was exhausted and didn’t want to go any further, that I wanted to go back the nursing lodge, and he got a bit annoyed.

Just then an elderly woman approached us from the corner that Husband wanted to turn. She had a bunch of flowers in her hand and greeted us with great enthusiasm. I asked if she were going to the nursing lodge and she said yes and that she was visiting her old school friend who was 89 but whose name she couldn’t remember. Long story short, she and I eventually persuaded Husband to turn around and go back but then, of course, we had to climb this awful, sandy hill.

Well, with the 89-year-old woman holding Husband’s left elbow, me holding his right hand and him using his walking stick with his left hand we made the very, VERY slow journey back.  While we did so, the elderly woman introduced herself as Pauline and she asked us our names which, for some strange reason, gave her a fit of the giggles. A couple of minutes later, she repeated her question and asked me what was wrong with my father and I had to clarify that he was my husband. This didn’t make her giggle, but gave her pause and she then began talking rather incoherently about her friend who was 89 but whose name she couldn’t remember and, for the third time, we introduced ourselves to each other.

All of a sudden, Pauline, who was very agile, sort of sprinted ahead to the crest of the hill and said goodbye. Husband panting by now, muttered, “I don’t know why we couldn’t have gone to Bythorne, Jules, it’s not that far.”I apologized and continued trying to pull him along, little step by little step.

“What did you think of that lovely old lady?” I asked as we FINALLY reached the parking lot of the nursing lodge.

“A definite case of Alzheimer’s Disease,” he said, “poor old thing.”