wings and things

Itchy hands

For a couple of days now my hands have been painfully itchy (apparently there is a myth that this means I am coming into some unexpected money – ha!)

I noticed that on the sides of each of my fingers there are several miniature blisters so I thought I’d google the condition and here is what I found:

Yes, it would seem that I have pompholyx which of course I have never heard of before. It’s a form of eczema apparently, and the causes include everything from humidity to stress (both of which fit my situation). I’m a little alarmed to find that it may get worse but I’m also relieved that it may simply go away of its own accord. As diseases go, it certainly isn’t serious, but the itchiness is driving me slightly crazy because I want to scratch my hands to bits.

Changing the subject: I wrote a post about Ming yesterday but I trashed it soon after because it seemed a bit disloyal to a son who is, after all, only 10% evil haha! But I realize it will already have been seen by some so, just to reassure you, he and I are once again on the same page, and my new nickname for him is “90%”.

Another update: even though I briefly sighted a couple of the peahens the other day, I haven’t seen them again and five are still missing. Nesting season is well and truly over so I think I will have to assume that they have either flown away (to get away from the peacocks’ attention), or have been killed by foxes. I am hoping it’s the former but I will never know. My peacock-knowledgeable friend, Mike, came over to see us yesterday because Anthony was home for the day and I asked him if the males would be okay without their ‘wives’ and he reassured me that they would, but it is still sad to have lost the girls. I guess, you never know, they might come back. That’s the risk with free-range but I never wanted to pen them in.

I’m off soon to go into the nursing home for the afternoon. It is only one street away from the beach so much cooler than here on the farm. Pompholyx is not contagious so that’s okay; I just hope he doesn’t notice that I have taken my wedding and engagement rings off because there were a couple of blisters underneath them. My ring finger feels really naked as, except to clean the rings, I have never taken them off.

Here are some photos of the peahens (much more pleasant than a photo of my blistered hands):



Temperature fluctuations in Australia’s summer

Western Australia has already had a pretty severe heat wave, causing bush fires in the northern part of our capital city, Perth, but now the heat wave is on the eastern side of Australia with temperatures in the 40s. This is particularly frightening if you live in a forested area (which we don’t because the farm is cleared land), but I feel so concerned for those who have lost their homes and lives and/or have been evacuated or else told it is too late to evacuate.

Over here I think we are in for another hot weekend after a semi-cool week. It always amazes me how a 40 degree C day can be followed by a 25 degree C day. And while we broil downunder, people are freezing in the northern hemisphere. I know several bloggers are suffering this severe weather too and it scares me.

Our figs began ripening a week or so ago only to have shrivelled now and, today, the moonflowers came out but, a few hours later, quickly faltered.


With whatever weather you are experiencing I wish you the best.


Having fun!

At 8pm tonight, I rang Anthony’s mobile phone and it was answered by a nurse and handed over to him. I have tried 8pm many a time (my method is to let the phone ring 11 times, hang up before it goes to the message bank, then try two more times in the same way).

Anyway, tonight I got to talk to him just as the nurses were putting him to bed. He was articulate, lucid, content and said he looked forward to seeing me tomorrow. It was such a normal conversation, he wasn’t in the least demented or delusional or distressed and his voice was so clear!

I have no idea whether he had been given what I call ‘the emergency pill’ (a sedative) or not, but it was such a relief that he was okay because I had been feeling guilty all day for not seeing him today.

The main reason I didn’t go in today was because I had a migraine. This was partly due to the relief of hearing that my niece was out of her spinal brace (extreme relief seems to trigger migraines with me), but also because it was my birthday yesterday, I’d had a fantastic lunch with my ma and Mingy.

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Then, in the evening, a heap of friends came over and it’s quite possible that I may have over-indulged in champagne and stale pizza.


When it began to rain, we all came into the kitchen and, with the music, loud conversation, and drink-clinking, I was reminded of those long-ago days when I first met Anthony, the kitchen throbbing with life, the stereo blasting, the absolute sense of unrestricted fun.

And for a moment, I basked in the memory of my adventure into the heart of Anthony. His sense of fun was always contagious – absolutely – and now of course he can no longer be a part of this sort of frivolity because he is too sick, too incapacitated, too confused.

I think one of the main reasons I fell in love with him is because he transformed me from a shy, intense, introspective teenager into a person who had the capacity for fun! He didn’t even know it was my birthday yesterday and he thinks he has only been in the nursing home for a few weeks (it is nearly 2 years), and of course he doesn’t know we had the impromptu party last night.

More than anything in the world, I miss his loud laugh, his wild sense of fun, his gregariousness and life-of-the-partyness, his twinkling eyes when he glanced at my flustered face, his amazing hugs and huge strength of being, of character.

Anthony has given Ming and me a huge appreciation of having fun despite all of the odds, and, for this, I thank him to the sky.

Of course I also thank the fantastic friends who came over last night!


Good news!

Yesterday, after wearing a head-to-hip spinal brace for three months, my niece was allowed to take it off for good. When I heard the news I couldn’t stop laughing and leaping crazily around the house! She was the last of the five children to be given the green light, so things are definitely looking up.

Here is a photo of her next to her brother last year. And yes that is Gutsy9 (as a baby) on her shoulder. Bravo, my lovely niece!



“Totally and utterly stupid.”

Yesterday morning Ming and I went to our third appointment with the lawyer and were told that the first court appearance next week will simply be a reading of the charges and an adjournment until the end of February. We were also given the video of the police interview conducted the night of the accident. Ming has been told to watch it with a notebook in hand in case he wants to change or retract anything he said.

We were going to watch it together but after he went to bed last night, I decided to watch it by myself just in case I had an emotional reaction. The interview began after midnight, the night of the accident, and went for 80 minutes and was conducted while I was waiting with my friends in the foyer of the police station. My mother was with me for the first part of the night but when my friends arrived I told her to go to the hospital which she did. By that time I had stopped sobbing more or less and Ming was finally released at 3am.

During all of those hours I had no idea how the children were and I had no idea what was happening with Ming. These were very dark hours. After the police station, Ming and I went straight to the hospital to see the children and families (except for one nephew who had been flown, with my brother, to Perth from the scene of the accident).

Well now I do know what was happening with Ming during those earlier hours. Two policemen sat on either side of him at a round table and he was questioned about every detail of the accident. Every now and then Ming’s voice caught on a sob as if he had been crying previous to the interview. He answered all of the questions honestly and politely and if he didn’t know, or couldn’t remember, that, too, was noted.

When asked to talk about each of the children, his voice went soft with emotion and a couple of times he sighed before he was able to go on with a steady voice. At no point did he attempt to make any excuses or defend his actions and when asked to state his own opinion of himself and what he had done he said, with no hesitation:

“Totally and utterly stupid.”

I am glad I watched this without Ming because of course it brought back the horror of that night and of course I cried a lot. But now I will be able to watch it with him calmly and help him make notes, although I didn’t hear him say anything but the truth so I don’t really think there is any need to add anything.

He has been charged with five counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm and obviously he will plead guilty. We found out last week that the car insurance will not pay which is understandable but still a blow. I haven’t told Anthony this; in fact I told him the exact opposite because he sold some very precious shares that he has had for decades in order to buy Ming the ute on his last birthday.

And to top things off, the lawyer said that the barrister he has obtained for Ming charges $4,000 per day! I nearly fell off my chair at this almost incomprehensible amount of money and I have no idea how we are going to manage except that tomorrow I turn 55 and can access my superannuation so in that sense we are very lucky. I would have been panicking otherwise. Now I am just a bit shell-shocked!

This has already been a very long and hard journey in terms of the initial shock, the injuries and slow recovery of the children, and finally now the court case which may go on a bit – I’m not sure.

For many in my family there have undoubtedly been days of utter hopelessness and waiting so long for various splints and casts and braces to come off has been a test of endurance, not just for the kids, who have been magnificently brave and stoic, but for their parents, siblings, my mother, Ming and me.

Now, for Ming and me, there is a different kind of waiting – for the eventual sentencing. I had thought this would all be much faster and I’ve been kind of holding my breath, waiting for it all to be over, for Ming to take his punishment, and for all of us to be able to move on into our various next chapters.

Totally and utterly stupid.

Because there is no point in holding my breath – and I have been doing this for too long now, both metaphorically and physically. Breathing will become the focus of every new day and breathing will get us through the next few months of whatever and, best of all, despite the accident, we are all still breathing.

And for this I thank God, the ambulance attendants, the hospital staff, my family, but most of all I thank the five children injured for their heroism, generosity of spirit, humour, and love to Ming, me and each other.


Another bride!

Today is my mother’s 58th wedding anniversary. I don’t always remember but I did today. Since my dad died 36 years ago it is not a day that we celebrate, but my mother has beautiful memories.

I love this picture of her on their wedding day:



Here comes the bride!

This afternoon my sister-in-law (married to my youngest brother) and their three younger children came to stay overnight at my mother’s house because they have hospital checkups up in Perth tomorrow and the next day.

Neither my family or theirs was able to attend my eldest niece’s wedding in Scotland a few months ago to her Scottish beau. So, as a special treat for all of us, Ashtyn came over in her wedding dress! Later tonight they will watch the wedding video which Ming and I have already seen. In fact, we were the first to see it – quite an honour as we got to watch it with the happy couple, and, even though I am not usually a wedding crier, I did shed a few happy tears.

It was so beautiful to see my sister-in-law, and my nieces and nephew (all of whom have nearly fully recovered from injuries sustained in the accident), and then, when Ashtyn arrived in her dress, it was such a buzz for all of us!

My other brother’s daughter (Ashtyn’s younger sister) will hopefully get her spinal brace off in a couple of days. As you can imagine, we are all in a state of perpetual hope that this will happen.

As a whole, our family is beginning to breathe a bit easier now. Well, Ashtyn had to take the wedding dress off and change before she could breathe at all, but that’s beside the point!




Oh and my mother prepared an incredible meal for everyone of leftover pizzas from Ming’s party. Perfect!


Another psychotic episode?

It is nearly 9.30pm here and I just got a phone-call from the nurse-in-charge at the nursing home who wanted me to calm Anthony down because he had, once again, become aggressive and was very confused. Ming and I tried, on the phone, to talk him into going to bed but he just kept ranting and mumbling incoherently and Ming gave up. I then tried, over and over, to convince him that nobody was trying to hurt him and that the staff just wanted to put him to bed, but it became impossible, so I hung up and rang the nurse back and she said she’d never seen him like this (she is his favourite nurse).

I asked if I should come in but she said no and not to stress and they would sit him down in the foyer (where he was apparently standing and yelling) and wait for him to become too tired to resist going to bed. When I apologized to her, she was so reassuring that it would all be okay that I nearly burst into tears, and, when I said “I can’t bear it for him that he is becoming so distressed so often”, she said something comforting about how she and the staff knew him, and knew that this was different behaviour, and that they were sad too.

Once I’d hung up the phone, I marvelled that I had taken Anthony to a special friend’s 80th birthday party today and he/we had had a great time, despite him being in a wheelchair and not quite ‘with it’. In her speech, the birthday girl even thanked Ants for coming to the party and that really touched me (she and my ma have been friends forever).

It has been suggested to me that taking Anthony out might not be a good idea because, when I take him back to the nursing home, he seems more confused and exhausted than before, and he is, quite obviously, becoming a difficult patient/resident. But, what the hell – I WILL continue to take him out, and bring him home, because I love him and miss him and I want to hold his hand. (I have always found couples that constantly hold hands slightly nauseating – ha – but now I don’t!)

PS. If anyone calls me wonderful or amazing I will bop them! This is just how it is – how it is.

Anthony listening to speech

This photo is of Ants three years ago, on his 75th birthday. He turns 78 in a few weeks – quite a survivor!


Ming’s 20th birthday party

With around 70 guests (mostly 19-20 year-olds), a handful of parents, and a few of Ming’s older cousins, it was a resounding success. We did the lawns and madly tidied up beforehand:


We set up Anthony’s ancient stereo system, which Ming has now figured out how to operate. It has the most amazing sound which some would call LOUD:


We began to fill a cattle trough with ice and drinks as soon as it got a bit cooler (it was an extremely hot day):


The first guests began to arrive and Ming was given some suitable adornments:


More guests arrived:


The pizzas arrived:


I remained calm:


Ming made a short speech dedicated to his favourite topic – himself:


There was a bit of cigar debauchery but nothing else untoward happened …


… Except for an unexpected pole dancer (my gorgeous, incorrigible niece):


Here she is again, slightly more subdued, with her brother and husband.


Thanks, Ash, for rocking the party up a few notches, for taking most of these photos, and for making Ming’s party the best ever!


Like father like son!

Today was very interesting – and hot! Ming and I had to go into town to do last-minute jobs in preparation for his birthday party. We had to collect hire chairs, pay in advance for delivery of pizzas, buy a new cord for Anthony’s old stereo, and numerous other jobs.

I was the driver and we were using the old ute (truck), but I was also the lifter of anything heavy (like 24-packs of bottled water, coke, beer etc.) It must have seemed a bit odd that the young, robust-looking boy-man chatted happily with various store owners while the disheveled, perspiring mother did all the lifting and driving. Occasionally I would say, “He’s just had a back operation. I’m not usually his slave.”

Once we had done all of these jobs and were on our way to see Anthony, I told Ming how much he reminded me of Anthony when he was younger. Well the conversation didn’t start all that pleasantly:

Me: Why the hell did it take you 45 minutes to pay for the pizzas? Do you know how hot it is sitting out here in this crappy old ute in the full sun, waiting?

Ming: Oh! Sorry, Mum, I was just having a chat. It’s a family-owned business and they were great people. Both their kids work for them. I’m so glad we’re getting the pizzas from here and they gave me a fantastic discount and free delivery!

Me: Okay.

Ming: What’s wrong?

Me: Oh I cannot believe how much you are like Ants! Everywhere we ever went way back when he was young and fit, he would leave me in the car, go into a shop to buy something simple like a screwdriver and not come out for ages and ages. I would become absolutely furious with having to wait so long and would eventually stomp into the shop to find him talking up a storm with the proprietor, other staff, random customers, with everyone laughing and joking, with Anthony the loudest of all. He’d spot my scowling face and yell out, “Jules! Come and meet ….” and I would smooth my face back into a smile and join the ‘party’.

Ming: Do I do that?

Me: Well, yes. I mean you haven’t yet transformed a screwdriver purchase into a party but you certainly do know how to turn the mundane errands into social occasions. You also have a very loud presence.

Ming: So I’m like Dad was before I was born?

Me: Yes.

Ming: That’s great!

Finally, after all the jobs were done, and the ute was loaded up with chairs, drinks and other odds and ends, we went to the nursing home. I had asked Ming to help me explain to Ants that last night’s incident might be due to the paranoia which comes with Parkinson’s disease (he doesn’t know he has the dementia part). Our main task was to reassure Ants.

As we entered the nursing home there was a little flurry – the nursing manager pulled me aside and asked me about last night, a nurse going off duty told me she had tried to ring me this morning to say Ants was fine now, the nurse in charge for the afternoon and evening thought it might have been due to a new staff member last night. She even felt his antagonism might have been justified in some way and not just due to paranoia. Apparently Anthony had made the nursing home headlines in terms of drama!

All of these rushed conversations happened out of Anthony’s earshot of course and, meanwhile, Ming had already gone into Anthony’s room. Once I entered, Ming said, “Okay, Mum close the door so we can have a family conference.” Then we all sat close to each other and, after I kissed Anthony’s bleak-looking face and saw the anger in his eyes, Ming and I began to explain about paranoia and that if it happens again to remember that is is part of PD. I was so proud of Ming.

Ming: Dad, if you get like that again, really scared, you have to trust us on the phone because we don’t lie to you. The nurses were just trying to put you to bed and give you a pill.

Me: Ants, you were shouting at everyone, even me, that we were bitches.

Anthony: Well you are.

Me: Why me?

Anthony: You should have come in to help me.

Me: No Ants – I am not going to come all the way in here from the farm late at night just because you didn’t see me that day. How do you NOT know how much I love you? I was so worried last night and you made me cry!

Ming: Shut up, Mum, he doesn’t need to hear that. Dad, listen to me – you can’t go around calling nurses bitches okay!

Anthony: Why not? They took me to another town and then wouldn’t help me and someone is trying to get my money.

Ming: Dad, you are imagining some of this stuff because of the Parkinson’s.

Me: You know how you get those hallucinations and if I tell you it’s because of the Parkinson’s, you can cope?

Anthony: Yes.

Me: Well, I’ve been doing some research and paranoia is also part of Parkinson’s so, late at night, when the nurses are putting you to bed, you might think they aren’t nurses. Is that what happens?

Anthony: Yes.

Ming: So, Dad, you need to always remember that they are nurses and they are looking after you. If they ring us and we talk to you at night, you HAVE to trust us, okay?

Anthony: What about the bitches?

Ming: I know – they’re everywhere.

Me: He’s kidding, Ants!

The conversation was much longer and more convoluted than this, but Ming and I ended up laughing when we were able to tease a half smile into Anthony’s face. This was after he whispered to his father to swear in his head and not with his mouth.

I think next time I get a phone-call from the nursing home like last night’s I will hand it over to Ming. They are so uncannily alike!


I think one of the best things about our three-way relationship – father, mother, son – is the soft-slicing honesty with which we have always communicated with each other. In this we are very very fortunate.

Oh yes, and the other interesting thing is that Anthony’s own father died when Ants was around Ming’s age and I remember Anthony telling me about how his dad was a lot of hard work beforehand, and that they clashed a lot. Ming clashes with Ants a lot too but today he broke the record in terms of compassion and, even if we get another alarming phone-call from the nursing home tonight, we will all be okay – all three of us.