wings and things

I thought this was a bird blog!

Well it was. It’s a blog that keeps misbehaving and deviating from its initial stance, which was cheer-upish!

So, let’s get back to the birds. The following is one of my favourite pictures of the peaceful peacocks trying to break up a fight between the pheasants.

Unfortunately their interventions didn’t work!

Jane, Anthony’s niece, took these photographs while the rest of us just watched the unexpected drama unfold. Yes, I have possibly posted these before and, no, Phoenix 2 has never come back.

‘Alas’ is rather a good word which resembles ‘aha!’


Anti-heroism and honesty

My post about Anthony coming home yesterday elicited a few encouraging comments for which I am appreciative, but also humbled, because I am not this hero I have somehow cast myself as, so I need to remedy that impression. No, I am much more the anti-hero, regardless of my good intentions. So this post is about honesty.

When Anthony comes home and wants to be the workaholic he once was, and draws attention to the things Son and I haven’t kept up with (lawns, garden, sweeping pathways, cleaning out the washhouse, washing the car), I become bitchy and resentful and say things like, “I’m doing my best. Why do you always have to find fault?” and sometimes I add a few expletives for good measure.

When Anthony comes home and can’t walk properly, I sometimes hurry him along and then (because he is heavy) thrust him into his armchair in a way that is not gentle and he says, “Why do you have to be so rough?” and I retort, “It’s the only way I can get you into the chair!” and he says, “Well, do you have to throw me?” and I snap, “Yes!” Sometimes we both then collapse into laughter so it’s okay, but sometimes we don’t.

When Anthony comes home and is in the armchair, asleep or semi-conscious, I sneak away and do other things because if he doesn’t want to watch Black Books or look at my blog or do anything except slump, I avoid him – yes I avoid him.

When Anthony comes home, I count the hours before I can take him back to the nursing lodge because he has somehow transmogrified into a job, rather than a person who I love and, even though this is difficult to admit, I love him more at a distance (both geographical and temporal). In other words, I love him the way he was and I find it difficult now to reconjure that.

He and I talk about these things which I realize probably seems strange, but he has always been my mentor, my confidante, my best friend so sometimes I tell him about how difficult he is as if he is another person, and he gives me advice.

“You will always be my hero,” I say, “but now Parkinson’s has got you.”

“I can get better,” he always says.

“No you can’t,” I say.

“But I love you,” he says.

And, just as I leave him at the nursing lodge, I say the words too – “I love you” – then I drive back home, sometimes teary, sometimes nostalgic, but always relieved, guiltily relieved to hand him over – my hero.

The picture below is of our two male golden pheasants who nearly fought to the death over a female and the one on the right, Phoenix 1, won the battle and now Phoenix 2 has been banished. I don’t know why, but it seems an appropriate picture for this post.


Two more Hot Potato Award winners!

I didn’t want to cram any more winners into the previous Hot Potato Award post and I would really like to give these two amazing bloggers (who also happen to be people!) the HPA. Once again, this is not an award that has any obligations attached to it – you just take it and copy/paste it to your blog, or not.

The first blogger is a daughter who cares for her mother who has Parkinson’s Disease. She does this with a mixture of glee, energy and humour, but she is also very honest about how hard this can be.

The second blogger is a sister who cares for, and lives with, her brother who has Parkinson’s Disease. Her daily blog of the ups and downs of this journey is both heart-breaking and inspiring.

Jo and Terry are both wonderful examples of selfless heroism. I take my hat off to them and hope they will accept this award!


How to unfold a day

Anthony was home for most of today and, for a couple of hours, he was okay and mobile and trying to do some jobs, and he and Son got the Aga lit. Eventually! Teenagers (Son) and geriatrics (Husband/Anthony) don’t always agree on these things. And, it struck me, as I withdrew from their Aga-lighting tiff, how amazing that my two ‘boys’ – this father and son who look exactly like each other but who have an age difference of nearly 60 years – can communicate at all.

After a lunch of doner kebabs, which Anthony used to love but couldn’t manage because his hands don’t work so well any more, everything went a bit downhill and Son withdrew as Anthony became more and more crippled up. His morning drugs for Parkinson’s seem to work well, but by early afternoon it became a predictable downhill slide and by 4.30pm he was more than ready to go back to the nursing lodge.

None of the things I had planned eventuated. I wanted to show Anthony the latest blogposts, which he usually loves, but he said he was too busy for that even though he was just sitting in the armchair near me, drinking a cup of tea. He wanted to sweep some of the bird crap away from the back door, even though Son and I had already done this, so I walked him outside very slowly with his walking stick, saying ‘1,2,3’ which usually gets his legs working. Eventually I put the straw broom in his hands and told him that if he fell over I would kill him, and left him out there to try. And while I watched through the window, he did a little bit of a sweep and then froze, head down, unable to move; this is Parkinson’s.

On the way back to the nursing lodge, Anthony was a bit incoherent and seemed to be having another ‘turn’ but then he suddenly said, “Jules, when you bring me home tomorrow, can’t I stay the night?” and I had to, once again, say it was too hard, he was too heavy etc. He accepted this and my guts twirled with how horribly humiliating for this man who used to be such a macho machine to have to ask me if he could sleep in his own home.

So, tonight, having rung Anthony to say goodnight, and having fed Son who is now milking cows again for the beautiful neighbours, I am unpleating the day and wondering if I could have done it better, wondering if I should be crying, wondering and wondering and wondering….


Walking the emus

Our three (now adult) emus – ‘the Emerys’ – are very tame, however their natural curiosity and wanderlust means that we keep them in a big yard of their own. Many blogposts ago, I described how we lost them for a few days because they wandered onto an adjacent farm. So now, when we let them out of their yard, we don’t let them out of our sight.

It’s not an unusual request for me to ask Son to take the Emerys for a walk. He does so rather reluctantly but he is much better than I am at herding them back into their yard after they have eaten all the roses.


Love story 25

The dynamics had shifted during my time away. I was grief-stricken over my father’s sudden death, worried about my mother, Inna was frailer and her ill-health made her frustrated and grouchy, and Husband-to-be was aloof and moody and seemed to avoid me.

Instead of pedalling fast to the farm, I pedalled slowly on my bicycle and my sense of anticipation diminished daily. I didn’t understand why Husband-to-be was sometimes so cold towards me, despite the incident under the clothesline which we had laughed about the very next day.

But that laughter was short-lived. He seemed not to want to meet my eyes.

And then one of Husband-to-be’s best mates told me that there was a girlfriend – someone they had both met at a local agricultural show while I was away at the Bible college.

I had lost my heart to Husband-to-be.

The idea that he had a girlfriend shocked me and that’s when I lost heart altogether.


Hot Potato Award Winners!

Here are the first Hot Potato Award winners in alphabetical order. Each of these bloggers nominated me for a blog award but, as I am reluctant about awards, I have created the Hot Potato Award which is free of complicated criteria. Again, the only rule for the HPA is that you either accept it and copy/paste it to your blog, or you don’t. You cannot pass it on – it’s yours.

The first ‘winner’ is a cheeky cherub. Her blog is delightfully unpredictable and inspiring.

The second winner is one of the kindest, most generous-hearted people I have ever come across. She is a prolific blogger and a poetic photographer.

The third winner is the first person who ever nominated me. Her blog is a brilliant example of creative writing at its best.

The fourth winner is a nature-loving adventurer who combines photographs and anecdotes expertly.

To all winners: Please simply take this award with my heartfelt gratitude for your support and encouragement and for your wonderful blogs! Many thanks again to Lisa and to the potato for the graphic!

PS. As an award-shy person, I have decided to respond to any nominations I receive by rewarding the nominators with the HPA. If you have received nominations for awards you already have, or if you are like me and don’t want awards, please feel free to use the HPA!

PPS. If you happened to nominate me and you are not on this list, please let me know, and you will be next – hehe!


Anthony is coming home for the day.

My husband, Anthony, is coming home for the day. I will pick him up from the nursing lodge in about two hours and bring him back to the farm. He is determined to help us do some jobs around the place, to relight the Aga and to get a fire going in the fireplace. These jobs will take until lunchtime and I am going to make one of his simple favourites – scrambled egg with chopped tomato. After lunch I predict he will have one of those weird ‘turns’ he has at noon but this time I will not panic or get the ambulance – I will just wait it out and let him sleep for awhile, even though it isn’t really sleeping; it’s more of a going almost unconscious thing which one doctor describes as a ‘brain freeze’ typical of Anthony’s type of Parkinson’s Disease.

Then we will probably all watch something funny on television (Anthony’s favourite series is Black Books), have afternoon tea while I show him the blog, then I will take him back before 5.30pm when dinner is served at the nursing lodge. By this time (I know from experience) Anthony will be very crippled and it will take both Son and me to get him to the car and Son’s patience will have run out. He is a wonderful teenager but, having shared the care of Anthony over the years previous to admission to the nursing lodge, Son has had enough and I completely understand this, so I will not make him accompany us on the drive back.

On return to the nursing lodge I may have to fetch a wheelchair. We will be greeted by the beautiful, friendly staff and I will settle Anthony back into his room, stay for awhile and try to jolly him out of his sadness at not being able to stay the night at home. Then I will leave and try very hard not to cry on the way home again. Once back at the farm I will feed the birds and put them away for the night, then I will go into the house where Son will give me a bearhug.


The Hot Potato Award 2

A few days ago I was stricken with guilt at not yet having fulfilled the criteria for various blog awards I’d been nominated for by some extremely kind nominators. And then I was stricken with anxiety that I had forgotten who nominated me for what. And then I was stricken with exhaustion, searching back through past comments to try and find out. And then I was stricken with confusion about what I was supposed to actually do.

And then I went out and fed the birds.

The result is that I have invented a new award called ‘The Hot Potato Award.’ For recipients of this award, you don’t have to do anything except accept it and copy/past it to your blog’s main page. I thank Lisa Boice for helping me get the words into the picture! Lisa can be found at:


My own resistance to awards is borne of a reluctance to accept accolades. I realize this seems ungracious and I apologize. I do, however, recognize the value in these awards in the sense that it is a wonderful way of acknowledging other blogs/bloggers, but I think this is possible without the complications of award nomination criteria.

The Hot Potato Award has very few rules:

  • You either accept it or you don’t (you don’t have to fulfil any criteria)
  • If you are nominated for a blog award that you already have, you now have the option of giving your nominator The Hot Potato Award

Now, I am quite sure I have forgotten something important here but I don’t know what. Tomorrow, I will send some Hot Potato Awards to those who have been kind enough to nominate me for other awards.

Any suggestions appreciated, before the hot potato turns into a chip!


Emu chicks

In about three weeks I will get my emu chicks. I have decided to get two and this time I am getting them newly hatched so that the imprinting thing will happen and they won’t wander off as our three adult emus like to do. Here are some photos from the internet:

Instead of calling the new ones ‘Emery’ I am going to give them different names. Any ideas?

Here are two of the Emerys we lost to that rotten fox:

And (yes I know I’ve put this picture up before), my very first Emery, also killed by that fox.