jmgoyder

wings and things

This, that….

20150927_143929This,
that….

Well I got back from Perth last week and the first thing I did was to rush to my new beaut vegetable garden and also check the chooks. I fed and watered both with a sense of quiet glee.

The second thing I did was to go inside and log on. When nothing happened I didn’t panic since all the green lights were indicating merrily that the internet wasn’t too far away.

Six hours later, having spoken to six different technical support people, all of whom were amazingly patient, kind and positive (with the exception of one woman whose sighs, when I didn’t understand her click34xcableetc instructions, became thunderous on loudspeaker) were confident.

At one point, during this ungleeful, longwinded experience, I rang Ming who said that when he got home he’d sort it out in a jiffy. Well he tried, and even spoke to other technical support people, to no avail.

The Ming then said, with great compassion and a generous hug, “Maybe you’re just not intelligent enough, Mum….?”

I let his observation linger for the ten days during which I had no internet except via my phone. When I began to get the 5s mixed us with the Ss, I gave up.

Anyway, yesterday the replacement modem arrived at the post office and Ming picked it up, brought it home, connected it and voila!

So what am I supposed to do now? I can’t possibly answer all of the zillions of emails and comments and facebooky stuff; I can’t possibly catch up on ten days of my blog friends’ blogs; I can’t even catch up with what I was going to do before I lost the internet because my blog kind of reminded me of what to do.

I survived my ten day blip of no internet, but the person most affected by my off-the-internet-radar status was my beautiful mother. Meg and I have a strong internet relationship via email and Facebook, but she is more attentive to messages than I am, so, when I lost the internet, she was the first to miss me.

And today is her birthday. She is 81, looks 61 and acts like 21. So today Meg came to the farm to see the vegetable garden then we went to a local winery for lunch. The secret surprise was that Ming and A. would join us and that was a fantastic thing!

It’s great to be blogging again. That internet blip taught me something really profound: I need the internet!

One of the hardest things for me now is having fun – the guilt of it. Lunches with friends, learning how to garden with new friends, figuring out the future, altering and/or discarding things in this old house, renewing ….

This,
that,
and the other….

51 Comments »

Swings and roundabouts 2

The two photos I put up in yesterday’s post had absolutely nothing to do with what I wrote and I only added them because, having been on the phone for nearly two hours, trying to get the internet back from its little holiday, I could! So here is my attempt to interpret what those two photos (and a few others) actually mean.

CAST OF CHARACTERS:

Prince – white peacock
Martha and Mary – the two white chooks
Whoopie – the new chook with the fancy hairdo

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Prince: What the hell?
Mary to Martha: Quick! Hide! There’s a huge creature on the other side of the fence!

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Martha to Mary: I think it’s okay. He just did this little purry thing in his throat. Anyway, we’re safe in this yard.
Mary: A purry thing! Martha, do you not realise that he is probably flirting with us?
Martha: Yeah, but you have to admit he is kind of cute.
Mary: Cut your beak off, Martha!

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Prince: I’m not sure whether these strange, short, ugly things are my cup of tea after all.
Mary: See, Martha, not only does he talk to himself, he’s insulting. Ignore him!

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Prince: Okay, so I’m not that good at introductions, but to be rejected so soon by these two whatever-they-ares is very disturbing.

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Prince: Indifference hurts.

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Whoopie: Is the coast clear yet?

Note 1: Whoopie was given to me by a friend who breeds beautiful poultry – thanks so much, Jane!

Note 2: When I first began writing this blog, Anthony was still at home, but ailing. We started to accumulate guinnea fowl and chooks because Ants remembered having these as a young boy/teenager and I wanted to cheer us all up. But then I got a teensy bit carried away with the whole bird thing (as past blog posts reveal ha!) It’s good, now, to begin again with just a few chooks…. even though this bewilders the peacocks!

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Leaps and bounds!

Gardening: I have planted vegetables in one of the beds that Jake (my lawn and gardener friend) has created for me. I have no idea whether these lettuce, cucumber, corn, parsley and tomato seedlings will grow up but here’s hoping. I’m a bit too nervous to ring Jake and ask if I have planted these things in the right places – i.e. should they be in the grave-like mounds or in the gullies? Just in case, I did both.

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Chooks: Six quite different chickens are gradually getting used to each other with minimal violence. They have a lovely yard so hopefully peace will soon reign.

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Lunch: I seem to be going out to lunch a lot lately which is something I only ever did very occasionally before Anthony went into the nursing home. This feeling of freedom is relatively new to me. It was always there of course and Anthony was never one of those dominating, bossy husbands who insisted on the adding cream and more butter and salt to the mashed potatoes. Wait a sec. – yes he did!

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WELL, IT’S BETTER THAN NOTHING, YOU GARDENING, CHOOKING, LUNCHING PEOPLE!

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Missing Ming

Ming has met a beautiful girl and, as a result, I hardly ever see him, except fleetingly.

Of course I still hear him climb in the front window in the early hours (because I keep forgetting to have a second key cut, but I did remember today!)

And, occasionally we indulge in leisurely conversations during the five seconds he has left to get ready for work.

Me: Good morning, Ming! I shout from my bed.

Ming: Morning, Mum. What do you want? he shouts from the bathroom.

Me: Oh, darling, I don’t want anything! How’d the party go?

Ming: I don’t have time for this morning conversation thing, Mum. Can you just leave me alone so I can get ready for work!

Me: Okay, sorry.

It’s all a bit surreal for me. Of course I haven’t actually lost Ming, and I always knew that one day he would meet someone who would both challenge and embrace his opinions, personality, habits, originality.

The beautiful young woman with whom Ming is involved has a similar ‘old soul’ wisdom to his but is much more academic. Every time I meet her, I am impressed by her integrity, and honesty, and the way she looks at Ming.

So, yes, I miss Ming in the sense that I don’t see him as often as I used to. After all, why would he want to be home with me when he can be out and about?

Nevertheless, I always knew that one day I would be without Anthony here (already happened), and maybe without Ming here (happening).

Hence the birds:

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I am so proud of this Ming of mine.

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Spring chicken

One of the best things about getting chooks again is telling Anthony the stories that go with the chooks. He gets a real kick out of my ineptitude.

A couple of days ago I picked up another couple of chooks from some serious breeders who go by the name of Chookloop. As soon as I got home, I put them in the chookpen with the other four but they’re a bit smaller so the big ones started pecking them and one of them was smart enough to figure out how to get out of the chookpen – argh (it took me ages to catch her).

So I brought them inside and put them in a box on the back veranda with some food and water. But, as soon as I turned my back, the smart one flew out and followed me into the kitchen where she hid behind the fridge until I was able to ease her out with a fly-swat (another hour).

I ended up putting them outside the back door in an upside down laundry basket which is where they spent their first night. The next morning, I went out to replace their water and, as I was doing so, the smart one got out, so I let the not-so-smart one out as well. They had a wonderful time frolicking under the fig tree. It was only when I attempted to catch them and put them back under the laundry basket that I realised I might need yet another set of ages/hours.

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Notsosmarty was relatively easy to grab, but Smarty eluded me for well over an hour. I finally had to give up being gentle and simply threw myself into the shrubbery under the fig tree in a kind of football tackle which left us both muddy and disgruntled. I gave her a little cuddle, she pooped on me, and a friendship was born.

Since then, they have both spent a couple of nights in the ground cage we raised the guinnea fowl and peafowl in eons ago. I’ve placed this inside the chookyard so that the other chooks can get used to them without being able to peck them. They are also protected from crows, but they do look a bit miserable this morning because it is so cold and wet.

It is great to be able to answer the dreaded question, “So, what have you been up to lately?” with, “I have some new chooks!” instead of my usual, faltering, “Oh, this and that.”

It’s quite refreshing, too, to be able to give Anthony some new news and, as he has always loved chooks, it is a mutually enjoyable topic of conversation. What I like most about this is that the new chooks, despite reminding us both of previous chooks (and even chooks Anthony may have cared for as a child), are a fresh addition to the conversations we have in the cozy world of his nursing home room.

Okay, a bit of dialogue:

Anthony (referring to ‘my hero’ of yesterday’s post after she popped in with his clean laundry): That’s the girl, right?

Me: Yes – she is wonderful.

Anthony: And she’s on our side isn’t she.

Me: Of course!

Anthony: Your hair needs combing (oh why is this such a preoccupation with him?)

Me: Why the hell are you so obsessed with my hair? It’s windy outside, and raining. I’ve battled a storm to come and see you and all you can do is criticise my hair! I’ll have you know this is the best cut and colour I’ve ever had and I adore my hair-dresser.

Anthony: Give me a comb.

Me: What? Why?

Anthony: I can fix you. You’re still a spring chicken.

Hence the title of this post which, remarkably, ties in with the chook thing – ha!

PS. After Anthony combed my hair, I ruffled it up a bit and he smiled the benevolent smile of a chook-owner.

22 Comments »

Changing

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

George Bernard Shaw

I have changed my mind so many times over the last few years, months, weeks, days, minutes, moments, about how to best care for a husband, 79, in a nursing home, and our son, 21, embarking on adulthood. It’s doubtful whether Ming will want chooks in his future life!

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Not very long ago, whenever people talked about the weather, or gardening – whether it be small-talk or serious-talk – I would tune out. I have never been the least bit interested in anything relating to the actual job/hobby of gardening despite numerous attempts to get interested.

Okay, I got interested many times; but I didn’t remain interested, mostly because I was busy working at the university and bringing up the beautiful brat, Ming (who, by the way, isn’t interested in gardening either.)

Gardening was Anthony’s ‘thing’. His family (mother and younger brother) came here in the late 1950s to run a dairy farm and Anthony began planting things – camellias, palms, silver birches, flame trees, roses, citrus, hedges … and a whole lot of other stuff.

Up until the year before the nursing home, Anthony was still interested in planting, watering, and wandering about, in the garden. But he would get stuck! We only had the walking stick then so he would go out the back to check on a hose and then become paralysed and sometimes it took a whole hour to get him back to the house. Then, one day, when he was in his armchair in front of the fireplace, I told him not to move while I went up to the shop to get some supplies, only to find him face-down in the front yard; he’d fallen again!

Parkinson’s disease (and all of its off-shoots, including dementia) is an ever-changing condition that can make life tricky for those who care for family and friends inflicted. For example, sometimes I can show Anthony photos of home – the new chooks, the better-kept garden, the mowed lawns etc. and he will think he has been home.

But, at other times, Anthony will ask to come home and I will have to distract him. This is not because I don’t want him to come home; it’s because he is mostly immobile now so I actually can’t physically manage him. The guilt is ghastly of course but it is easily blitzed by my almost-daily company, in the nursing home, during the afternoons. And photos of the new chooks!

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This morning this wonderful group of gardening people came over (it’s a group I’ve recently sort of joined) and each person had a good piece of advice for me. Plus everyone brings some produce to exchange – fascinating!

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I am changing into a gardening person!

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

George Bernard Shaw

35 Comments »

Going with the flow of dementia

Here is one of my conversations with Anthony yesterday –

ME: I think we should get chooks again, Ants.

ANTHONY: Yes – good idea.

ME: But this time we should keep them in the chook-yard and not let them out at all – safer from the dogs and foxes. What do you think?

ANTHONY: So when do you start work?

ME: What do you mean?

ANTHONY: F said you’d be working for R.

ME: The vet?

ANTHONY: The veterinarian.

ME: Okay, the veterinarian if you want to be precise! Well, I’m not sure. Do you think I’d be any good at it?

ANTHONY: Yes, I do because of the chooks.

ME: Well I do love animals ….

ANTHONY: You’ll be fine.

There is a fair amount of debate around whether to ‘go with the flow’ – or not – when it comes to interacting with people who have dementia. With Anthony, I tend to fluctuate between ‘going with the flow’ and telling the truth so yesterday I suddenly became a vet.

But other times, when, for example, he is worried that his mother is home alone, I will gently remind him that she died many years ago. He usually accepts this quite well and is sometimes a bit embarrassed that he has forgotten this fact.

‘Going with the flow’ isn’t so simple though. If someone with dementia thinks there is a monster under their bed, it’s obviously not a great idea to agree. But if someone with dementia thinks there is a family pet under the bed, it’s obviously a great idea to agree.

Carers who work in nursing homes walk a tightrope of tact when responding to residents who have dementia. Alleviating dementia-induced distress can be a minute-by-minute challenge.

As Anthony is my husband, I don’t have to be quite so tactful with him and will sometimes go as far as to say, “You’re talking rubbish again!” OR “You’re hallucinating again!” We can turn the confusion into a joke and/or a hug that way.

Anyway, here they are – the two new hens. I was feeling a bit biblical so I have named them Martha and Mary. Mary is the one with the black feather marking. As you can see they have a huge yard!

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I can’t wait to show these pictures to Anthony this afternoon!

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Dusk

I went outside specifically to take photos of the cheeky willy wagtails but of course they disappeared as soon as my clumsy presence was felt, so I just took photos of anything and everything. And they are not very good photos because, even though I have a camera or two, I am not a photographer.

So this is Blaze, son of Doc 3 (deceased):
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And this is Jack, the Irish terrier, who was gentle until Blaze taught him to hunt which is why we no longer have any poultry:
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Blue wren:
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Flame trees from dog yard with one of our many Christmas trees somehow flourishing in the heat:
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Blaze again:
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Feeding time – that’s Gutsy9 in foreground:
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The last figs:
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And, just a moment ago, Ming’s best friends about to take him out on the town:
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This afternoon I sat with Ants watching two episodes of our latest series, ‘Luther’ then came home around 5.30pm having told him, as usual, that I would be back later. I hate this lie but it works! When I leave Anthony in the late afternoon, or evening, and promise I will be back soon, I re-enter the reality of dusk on the farm, and a sense of peace. Of course I wonder if he will be okay as the carers put him to bed but, now that I am a staff member as well, I hear wonderful stories about his sometimes witty okayness with the way things are.

In the summer, dusk can be dusty here, but it is also rather beautiful in a dry way!

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A disco duckling, a haughty gander, and a very depressed turkey

The little duckling in the centre of this photo is distinct from the other two because s/he is smaller and paler. But, after what I witnessed the other evening, I have decided to call this duckling Michael Jackson.

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I had put the gang, including ducklings, into their yard for the night, then turned the hose on the avocado tree which is right behind Ming’s shed where he now lives. As soon as I turned the hose on, Michael Jackson squeezed through the fence and began swimming in the growing puddle. The other two ducklings (the ‘Twins’ because they are identical) followed Michael Jackson to the puddle, so I had to let Godfrey out again in order to herd them back in. He gave me his usual ‘look’ – a combination of ferocity and disdain.

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At that very moment, Ming began to play his guitar very loudly and the birds and I got a bit of a fright. Well, little Michael Jackson went crazy and I nearly ran to Ming’s shed to tell him to stop the noise until I realized that the duckling was actually dancing! It ran around in circles, twirled around in the puddle of water, threw itself at the twins and frolicked madly. When Ming stopped playing his guitar for a few moments, the duckling just stood still, as if waiting, then, when Ming resumed, the whole happy dance thing happened again. It’s one of the funniest things I have ever seen and I wish I had it on video.

Godfrey watched fondly, as I did, then I turned the hose off and he herded Michael Jackson and the twins back into the yard.

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The only lonely one now is Baby Turkey because we lost Bubble, his main companion months ago. Baby Turkey now prefers to be in his own yard, away from the happiness of the geese and ducks. He sleeps a lot but when he gets up he still looks so sad. I have decided to try and find him a mate, a female turkey, so that he will be happy again and am hoping that the place where I got the ducklings will have one to spare. They have turkey chicks so maybe they will sell me one of the mothers.

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Baby Turkey’s loneliness is a constant reminder of Anthony’s. I have not been allowed into the nursing home for a few days because I have a chest infection, so Ming and my mother have been in several times and I am relying on phone chats with Ants. He doesn’t understand that I am sick; he just seems to think I am neglecting him and I got a phone-call the other morning from one of the nurses, to say he didn’t want to get out of bed. I ended up speaking to him but he was quite incoherent. This is the first time I have known him to be like this in the morning because this usually happens in the evening.

I don’t know why the quote ‘This is how it is’ resonates so powerfully for me; after all, it is a statement of the obvious. I like it though because it beckons some sort of response, it curls around a sort of question, and it invites a sort of acceptance.

Sort of!

Godfrey and I have agreed to disagree, and I still love him.

51 Comments »

Grateful

When I got an email from doudou (my blog friend), I went to her blog and saw this! I’m a bit emotional at the moment so I cried and laughed at the same time.

Thank you so much, doudou, for upside-downing my frown into a great big grin.

http://doudoubirds.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/ode-to-tina/

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