wings and things

Day off

I decided to take a day off from visiting Anthony so just texted Ming to visit after work and he texted “Sure” – brilliant!

Instead I have been catching up with laundry and housework and further decluttering. It’s astounding how making myself accountable to Dina is so effective!

The weather is winter warm so at one point I took off my jacket and …

Well at least it wasn’t a cockroach!

My feeding of wheat to the peafowl and guinnea fowl is deliberately haphazard because there is plenty of ‘food’ for them without the wheat and I don’t like them getting too dependent. Nevertheless as soon as they hear the back door open, they start running towards me – it’s so funny.

Then there is quite a bit of competition as to who gets to eat first.

Yes, I know she looks like Gutsy but she isn’t.

After they’ve eaten their fill, they bask in the winter sunshine.

I’m a bit rusty with the photography but wanted to take a few new photos to show the women I’m visiting in the nursing home, three of whom are not in the dementia cottage. Yesterday I visited Gertrude (not her real name) who has only recently become a resident. She has Parkinson’s disease too and she was commiserating with me about Anthony who she said was “so young!” I guess 79-year-old people do seem young to 90-year-old people! At one point we discussed the pros and cons of diseases:

Gertrude: Tell me, which do you think is worse – Parkinson’s disease or that other one? (She pointed to her head)

Me: You mean Alzheimer’s disease?

Gertrude: Yes.

Me: Well Anthony has both now so I’m not sure ….

Gertrude: Both? This isn’t fair for him.

Me: Well it’s not Alzheimer’s exactly; it’s dementia caused by his kind of Parkinson’s disease.

Gertrude: I don’t have that.

Me: No, I can see that! You don’t have the shaking thing either and Anthony is the same.

Gertrude: I’m improving and sitting in this chair is so much better than lying in that bed.

Me: Do you have pain?

Gertrude: Just a bit of arthritis. Nothing much.

Me: I’m so glad. Anthony doesn’t have pain either – such a blessing.

We exchanged a smile and a hug and I went back to Anthony’s room which is in a different section.

Well I better get back to finishing the jobs I need to list as “done” for my email to Dina tonight!



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.


On realising why I woke up miserable yesterday morning when I should have been happy ….

Yesterday evening I suddenly realised why the morning had been so blah, and the reason for this is going to sound absolutely ridiculous. But here goes:

The day before yesterday, Dina, from, came over for the final big job here – Ming’s extremely cluttered (but otherwise beautiful) shed that Anthony and I had renovated for him several years ago so that Ming could have his own space and some independence. Here are the before-and-after shots:
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After Ming’s shed was done (Dina never stops until it is done!) and we all had coffee and a chat, Dina hugged us and left but, even though I knew we would see her again after the holidays, I felt bereft! Maybe that is what happens when a problem is resolved? You find yourself in an enormous cavern of space (and for me this was both literal and figurative) in which you feel strangely lost.

Thankfully I woke up this morning in a much more appropriate mood, extremely happy with what we have accomplished, and full of incentive to maintain the new order of things. The garage sale is something I need to advertise pronto and I am really looking forward to this as it’s a wonderful opportunity to cull everything from old blazers from my university days, to old bicycles, to Ming’s lego, to bric-a-brac, to books etc. And now that I’ve met the Dardanup Heritage Park people, I have a good idea of what they might want so I will donate some items and sell others. One of the things that appealed to me about their museum’s philosophy was the way in which they enjoy displaying objects in a way that tells a story of the past in a personal way.

Here are some of the items that will go to the museum:

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Anyway, back to the strange sense of misery I felt yesterday morning: it is probably due to the exhaustion of being so driven to declutter; the extraordinary success of doing so which still seems miraculous to me (I could never, ever have done all of this without Dina); and the incredible journey back in time to an era preceding Anthony and even preceding his mother, affectionately known as ‘Gar’. Strangely, the moments of nostalgia I’ve experienced during the last several weeks of this adventure have mostly been due to memories of Gar and her stories about her own past shared with me over coffee and timtams or else a gin and tonic. She was a pivotal figure in my young life, this 83-year-old woman who commanded the whole household and dairy enterprise with a slight wave of her formidable walking stick, and encouraged my teenage heart in its infatuation with her son, Anthony. On her deathbed she said (after a couple of days of not saying anything and I know this because I was there), “Look after Anthony.” And I have, just as he has looked after me.

When I began this post, I thought I had a simple answer for yesterday morning’s misery but now, having written it out like this, I can see clearly why the whole adventure with Dina has been so cathartic and yet so bittersweet but, ultimately, absolutely beautiful.

I had to go back in time in order to go forward in time. So many memories, and artefacts of other people’s memories, have touched and intrigued me and now, with Dina having finished the big jobs, I have time and space to reflect, pause, re-imagine! Hindsight thoughts are particularly interesting.

Oh shut up, Julie, and go to bed!


A sublime sense of space

Dina, from Chaos to Clear came over this morning to help Ming tackle this:


Some of the stuff in this particular area was paperwork that I either didn’t know what to do with, didn’t recognise, and didn’t even remember putting there. But most of it was Ming stuff – lego (and lots of it!) brio trains and tracks, and a whole lot of other ‘things’ from Ming’s childhood. As this was Ming’s first experience of decluttering his own stuff with Dina, it was interesting to see his initial reluctance transform into a very healthy ruthlessness and we filled four garbage bags and two boxes with rubbish to be taken to the dump – wonderful! It was also quite moving to see what he was still sentimental about:


While this was happening, I sorted all of my plastic containers, got rid of all my old cook books and only put the Aga cook books in the kitchen drawer, and put all of the paperwork we found into the filing cabinet that is now functioning as a proper filing cabinet thanks to Dina’s labels. Bliss!



For me, the sense of space that has been created is the most wonderful thing! I have never known a cupboard, shelf or drawer in this house to be empty before so I am having a lot of fun thinking about how I can use these empty spaces. Wonderful!




And this is the beauty of Dina’s service; she helps you to cull, but she also helps you to put the things you want to keep back into the new spaces. Dina is way more organised than I will probably ever be, but she has given us such wonderful help and tips and sympathy!

She has also given us her friendship and is even happy to come and help me take Anthony out on occasion. Thanks again, Dina, for your tact, efficiency, respect and empathy. You are a wonder!

We even have a box of stuff to go into the nursing home.