wings and things


I wrote about Dina from Chaos to Clear in previous posts, describing how this wonder woman helped me to declutter and reorganise the spaces inside and outside this house. The process was a twice-a-week visit from Dina, over a period of several months. She/we even tackled the sheds despite the possible presence of asbestos.


During this process, Dina and I became friends. She visited Anthony with me (where we sorted a huge box of old photos and another box of old paperwork), and she even visited Anthony last week when I was away in Perth!

Dina also supported me in a face-to-face meeting with the managers at the nursing home about my desire to continue to visit various residents despite having resigned. Her presence at this meeting ensured that permission would be granted, and gave me the confidence to state that I was already a family friend of many of the residents.

Anyway, this week I suddenly found myself a bit overwhelmed again with a new accumulation of unopened mail, the dregs of clutter I was supposed to have eradicated/given away, and Ming’s stuff here and there untidying my newly tidy house. So I emailed Dina asking her to come back and help with these last jobs.

Then – the next morning – before Dina even had a chance to reply, I emailed her again to retract my request and that I could do it by myself but I needed to be accountable to someone.

Dina emailed me back saying yes and to just imagine she was there looking over my shoulder. So for two days now, I have been reporting back to her about what I’ve done, and she has been encouraging me (all of this via email). This kind of accountability has worked wonders in terms of motivation!

Depression (yes, I have it) sometimes means that the person afflicted wastes days worrying, and nights dreaming, about tasks that only take an hour or so. The fear of those tasks is, of course, irrational, but when you are in the throes of depression and/or anxiety, even the simplest of tasks can be overwhelming.

I haven’t admitted to many, including Dina, that I battle with depression but I’m sure she realises and I so appreciate her kindness and patience with me. And her incredible support beyond the call of duty!

Who would have known that when I simply googled “chaos” I would find such a beautiful friend. Thanks, Dina.




Such a strange realisation!

An ‘aha!’ moment!

The inability to get to the ‘finish line’ or the ‘punch line’ was making me utterly miserable (as well as my inability to understand/implement Tolle’s NOW concept, cope with a depressive episode, watch myself grieve for Anthony in a way that seemed premature).

But it wasn’t any of those bracketed BIG things that were bothering me; it was the fact that the few remnants of weeks and weeks of decluttering, finding history, reorganising the house/farm etc. were still here.

It was the remnants!

Old books, doilies, Anthony’s school report from when he was little, old photos of my dad when he was young, bark paintings from our years in Papua New Guinea, a thousand buttons, a pile of costume jewellery, a silk corset and bra wrapped in newspaper for 100 years, bits of china that would be valuable if not cracked, old instruction manuals from before I was born, and a whole lot of bits and pieces that must have had sentimental value for someone before Anthony was born, and maybe even before Gar, his mother, was born.

So today I began this last phase by going to the dump with Ming and unloading a very full ute-load of rubbish; then I proceeded to use a knife to cut up a very big carpet mat underneath my bed (it had to be cut up to be manageable) and Ming helped me. The dust that came out from beneath that ancient carpet was justification enough to get rid of it – wonderful!

And now I have contacted the heritage park people to come over for a final browse, I am going to advertise the gramophone and other items online (once I figure out how), and I’ve already boxed up historical material for the relative who is interested.

Every single photo/photo album in now in Anthony’s cupboard so I just have to do the scanning bit by bit by bit whilst being with him.

And my point in this ridiculously self-indulgent post?

I was stuck at the ‘unfinish line’ and now I’m not. Full steam ahead!

Very grateful for comments and am going to reply to them now. I don’t even ‘get’ why I had such a downer when my new neighbour/hairdresser, Camille, made my hair a wildish red, I met my beautiful mama for lunch on Friday and laughed my head off, met with my best friend Tony yesterday for lunch and Ming bought me Dylan Moran tickets for my Mother’s day present – so many great things.


Oh and Dina is coming for dinner in a couple of weeks (well, she is coming to cook risotto in her thermomix) so I better get finished with these remnants asap.

My conversation with Ming a few seconds ago:

Me: I’m over my blah finally, Ming.

Ming: How’d you do that?

Me: Got a few things done I guess.

Ming: Jobs, jobs, jobs!

Me: Well we had a lovely time at the dump today didn’t we? [At the dump Ming had yelled out, ‘Mum, this is glorious! We’re not fighting! What a beautiful dump run!’]

Ming: It’s probably due to Sontime.

Mmmm – that is definitely an unfinished conversation!


I found out today that Anthony and I are ‘illness separated’.

photo credit to Jane Terren

Ming and I were at Centrelink (Australia’s social security service) this morning to pursue job possibilities for him now that he is not supposed to do manual labour. He is still working for our neighbours as a dairyhand but only for three days a fortnight, and with no lifting allowed. As many of you know, this is because Ming tried to lift something really heavy in our shed a few months ago and actually fractured some of the titanium in his ‘new’ back. He will be scheduled for further surgery in the next couple of months, after which he will obviously have to quit milking the cows for good.

So we were at Centrelink with a the doctor’s certificates and other paperwork that might help Ming claim some sort of interim allowance before and after the next surgery, when (whilst waiting for her computer to reboot) the beautiful woman serving us chatted with me about this and that and she took an interest in my own circumstances. As I had previously received a carer’s allowance when Anthony still lived at home, I was on the system, but she could easily see that I have had no income of any sort for nearly 18 months and haven’t been able to claim any social security help due to living on a farm (asset). She asked me about Anthony and, when I told her he was now in a nursing home, she said, “Well that means you are separated.” I said, “No, no!” Then she said, “It’s okay, I just mean you fall into the Centrelink category of ‘illness separated’ and, as such, you could probably do with some financial assistance.”

She then said she would do anything she could to assist us in our Centrelink pursuits. I was so grateful I nearly got teary and then suddenly she realized that Ming (whose Scottish name is spelled Menzies) used to play football with her own son and, even though she and I had never known each other back then, I not-so-instantly recognized her!

I am feeling a bit uncomfortable about lodging a claim for financial assistance but, on the other hand, Anthony and I have, like so many, paid a fortune in taxes over the decades, so why not? It’s difficult for me to get another job at the moment because I spend a lot of hours with Anthony every week – either here or at the nursing lodge; and it’s difficult for Ming to commit to another job until he knows about surgery (next appointment with surgeon in two weeks).

One of the things I am so grateful for is the fact that my beautiful, now incapacitated, ‘illness-separated’ husband, has had enough savings to sustain us so far. And that we are living on his/our beautiful farm.


Ming’s adventure 1

Ming is a big, loud extrovert of a son, but with a soft heart and a philosophical nature. I am so proud of the way he has coped with Anthony’s admission to the nursing lodge, simultaneous back surgery, and my subsequent bout of depression. These have presented him with some very difficult hurdles, like having to quit football, having to wait a year for his back to heal before going for his driver’s licence, having to wrestle with his feelings about Anthony’s deterioration, having to comfort me, and having to put up with the peacocks pooping at the door of his shed because they are so attracted to their own window reflections.

Late this afternoon, after milking, he is driving himself up to Perth (Western Australia’s capital city – 2 hours north of our farm) to see a band called karnivool perform. Even though he is staying overnight at his friend’s place, he is insisting on going to the performance by himself. I wanted so much to go with him (not to the concert, but for the drive – you know, to help him navigate the city) – but he gets furious at the suggestion. “I’m 19, Mum! I can look after myself!”

I feel like I felt, ten years ago, when he went on his first school excursion (a whole week!) I remember that Anthony and I took him up to the local primary school, saw him onto the bus, and I sobbed all the way home. I anticipate that I will want to sob like that when I wave him off in a couple of hours, so I will bite my lip. He has already told me to stop worrying or it will ruin his adventure so I will have to put on a mask of vicarious excitement for him and, as he says, “Stop being such a mother!” He is buzzing with excitement with just a slight hint of nerves. He will be okay. I will swallow my anxiety and give him my biggest grin and hug of confidence. Yes!

I just can’t wait for tomorrow afternoon when he will be safe at home again – our beautiful son! (Some of these photos have been posted before – sorry but I’m a bit sentimental today).







Son 18 (2)




Tomorrow is the 9th of December and I have decided that, in order to combat the rut I am in, I will do everything in nines – 9 household jobs, 9 photos for Anthony, a 9×9 walk up and down our long driveway to begin getting fit again, 9 emails to those I’ve lost touch with, 9 blogposts (that’s a joke), 9 hugs for Ants when I see him in the morning, 9 hugs for Ming if he tolerates it, and 9 new thoughts/resolutions.

Lately I have been reading about autism and Asperger’s, not for any reason except that I happened to borrow three books about this syndrome and I became enthralled. No, I do not have autism, however I can definitely relate to the number obsession that some people suffer/embrace, and some of what I have read makes sense of what I was like as a child.

I always had to count my steps and couldn’t bear odd numbers, so walking to school I would always make sure that, between each bit of footpath, just before the crack, I would do either 2 or 4 steps, never 3 or 5. And, from my bedroom door to my bed, I always had to make sure that I took 6 or 8 steps, never 5 or 7.  If I made a mistake, I would get out of bed and retrace my steps to make it right.

This kind of thing (which I kept secret as a child) is a form of OCD – obsessive, compulsive disorder – and I happened upon an article recently that described my childhood behaviour in those terms. I found this extremely comforting and began to read more about OCD. It was a bit of a shock to find that some of my other weird childhood thoughts and habits were actually quite common and, in fact, quite normal in the OCD context.

Was this obsession with even numbers an attempt to make sense of a world that I found so uneven? I don’t know. I was adored by my parents and I adored them too, but I was plagued by uncertainty, anxiety and the very definite sensation that I was abnormal, which lasted well into my teenage years.

And now? The challenge of tomorrow’s 9 frightens me but compels me to get over this uneven number fear. I have to do it. I will do it, and my score will be 9/10. I’ll make sure of that!




I latched onto a couple of quotes from two articles that I found on Monday and, when I read them to Ming yesterday, he was blown away. The first comes from this source:

“How does a person become controlling? It is basically a method of coping with the anxiety they feel beginning very early in life.  Some had parents who couldn’t quite fulfill their role as strong caregivers and seemed to be weak or incapable.

A child in this situation, as early as age 3, may begin to prop up their parents and become a little adult very early on.  If the stress continues, fear increases and the use of attempts to control what they can, becomes compulsive and unconscious. It is more likely to happen with children who are helpers, and/or leaders by nature, often first born boys or girls feel proud of themselves for helping and it is encouraged or reinforced by parents and other influential adults. They may also have a tendency toward anxiety, worry and perfectionism which will only make it worse.”

The second quote comes from this source:

“Controllers are often perfectionists. They may feel, ‘If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.’ …. Controllers are also controlling with themselves. They may fanatically count carbs, become clean freaks or workaholics. Conventional psychiatry classifies extreme cases as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder–people are rigidly preoccupied with details, rules, lists, and dominating others at the expense of flexibility and openness.


  • Does this person keep claiming to know what’s best for you?
  • Do you typically have to do things his way?
  • Is he or she so domineering you feel suffocated?
  • Do you feel like you’re held prisoner to this person’s rigid sense of order?
  • Is this relationship no fun because it lacks spontaneity?

If you answer “yes” to 1-2 questions, it’s likely you’re dealing with a controller. Responding “yes” to 3 or more questions suggests that a controller is violating our emotional freedom.”

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read these quoted excerpts to Ming so it was rather lovely when he listened without angst and it was very interesting to see his jaw drop in recognition of himself and me. I guess you could call it an epiphany.

It was during our first session with the counsellor last week that she suggested  we might have control issues, so it was the word ‘control’ that stuck in my head and is why, after things went haywire on Sunday, I googled ‘control issues’ and found the above two articles. What would we do without google – ha!

“So I’m a control freak,” Ming said with a certain amount of relief and a tinge of pride.


“And it’s because I couldn’t control Dad’s sickness and your misery, and my back and all the shit?”


“So what do we do now?” Ming asked.

“Well, we’ve already taken the first step, kid.”

“What do you mean?”

“I am the one in control now so you can just freak off!”

His pealing laughter filled the house and my heart had a lovely little nap.

Sometimes I just want to go back in time!