wings and things

Bump on the head!

A few days ago, I bumped my head rather dramatically. I’d stooped to pick up some clothes from the bathroom floor and stood up suddenly, forgetting to avoid the corner of the towel cupboard which is positioned above the sink. SMASH!

The lump on my head was massive to begin with, literally the size of a goose egg, but it has now shrunk to the size of a golf ball. When I had my hair cut the other day, my hairdresser was extremely impressed. She showed me the lump in a mirror and  described the bruising around the lump in rather gruesome detail. Obviously, she had to be really careful attending to my hair.

Yesterday I must have been having one of those attention-seeking days because I kept getting the nursing staff to feel my lump. I did the same thing this morning and got the same ‘ooh-ahh!’ response from various staff which was, of course, very satisfying.

The only two people who were unfazed (and remarkably unsympathetic) were Ants and Ming.

Ming: Get over it, Mum; it’s just a bump on the head!

Anthony: You need to be careful, Jules, you’re not a spring chicken anymore.

Anyway, since bumping my head, I have been really slack with both the writing and the reading of blog posts. I have also become  quite slack with cooking, cleaning, gardening, anythinging, but have also become adept at sleeping and watching netflix. Having armed myself with a fitbit a couple of weeks ago (between the asthma and the head bumping) it has been a bit discouraging to find that I have only walked about eight kilometres in as many days.

Once the lump from the bump subsides, I hope to become a more active blogger again but, in the meantime, I have a bit of a headache.





Food, glorious food!

I bought the slow-cooker, pictured below, several months ago when I thought our electric stove/oven had had the bomb. It wasn’t until our electrician came over to do another job, that it was discovered that the switch to the stove was turned to ‘off’ somehow. Embarrassed, I admitted that I didn’t even know there was an on/off switch.

Anthony used to do all this stuff, I said, meekly.

No charge, said the electrician, wryly.

Anyway, during all of those months when I didn’t think I had a working stove/oven, I learned how to use the slow-cooker and I love it! I used to chop everything finely but now I just throw it all in, uncut, and do the mixing/mashing when I get home. After all, why chop everything at 7am when you can just mash it at 7pm?

I am not quite sure what I am making in that wonderful slow-cooker but here is what I threw in:

Minced beef
Wild garlic + leaves
Onions, chives, lemon grass
5 red and 2 green chillis
Turmeric and ginger roots
Masses of fresh parley and coriander leaves
A cup of red wine
A few cups of stock
Salt and pepper
Lemon juice

In case it isn’t already obvious, one of the things I love about this kind of cooking is that you can be really creative, and experimental, because whatever you are cooking is going to take so long that you can easily get up at 2am and check for flavor. Sometimes the dish needs more salt; sometimes a bit of honey (if it’s a strong curry).


Happy birthday to my beautiful great niece, N, and to my friend, M – nice partying with you!


A very quiet house

As many of you already know, Ming lives in an old shed we began to renovate for him years ago (before Anthony went into the nursing home). It has been a very long process but also very exciting. Once it was finally finished, with a new paint job, lino on the floor, windows put in, electricity connected and his bed moved out there (around six months ago) he began to sleep out there regularly. But it wasn’t until recently that he moved all of his stuff out of his old bedroom (in the house) to the shed. Then, two days ago, he moved our old refrigerator in there too so he now has that and a microwave, so he can be (sort of) self-sufficient when it comes to meals.

Ah, meals, yes – a contentious issue for Ming and me. You see he has always been extremely fussy with food. No, let me rephrase that; he has always been extremely FUSSY with food! Let me exemplify. As a newborn, he wouldn’t breastfeed or take a bottle without our coercion (Anthony’s confidence that he’d had this problem with calves, and he could fix it, was unfounded and Ming actually lost some of his scrawny birth weight in his first month of life). He simply wasn’t interested in any sort of sustenance full stop. That first summer of his life I had to actually syringe water/milk/custard/mashed banana into his sweet, rebellious little pursed lips. It was an absolute nightmare.

Long story short, he survived on the bare minimum for years. During toddler years it was crackers and orange juice and sometimes butter, but nothing else. Eventually I took him to a naturopath who did some magic and he got a bit of an appetite but he is still (at 20) one of the most unhungry people I have ever come across. He just doesn’t seem to have a normal appetite reflex thingy – a weird anorexia? Mostly, he doesn’t think to eat, meals are haphazard and then suddenly he will eat four steaks in five minutes.

Needless to say, Anthony and I gave up when he was a kid and just let him ‘graze’. And now that he isn’t a kid any more, he either rejects meals I prepare or says he isn’t hungry. So, a few weeks ago, Ming and I made a decision that has actually saved my sanity (and probably his). When it comes to food, he fends for himself. He buys and prepares his own food and I am not to interfere.

Well, since I don’t eat that much anyway, this has come as a bit of a relief. But it is so hard to let go of 20 years of trying to feed the brat and let him fend for himself.

But it’s so weird and so quiet now and it only hit me tonight. With Anthony now in the nursing home, and Ming in his shed, there is no need any more for me to buy, prepare or cook food for others, so there is no sound of something simmering on the stove or in the crockpot and, because there is nobody in the kitchen any more, the television is off, it is very quiet.

All those years ago, when I first met Anthony and his mother and family, this was the noisiest house I had ever entered – loud voices, radio blaring, eggs and bacon sizzling, kettle boiling, Aga thrumming, dairyhands eating, and big, boisterous Anthony yelling for more toast-and-marmalade please.

So now, with all of that fading into history, and Ants in the nursing home, and Ming in his shed, and food no longer being something any of us share any more, the house is deathly quiet and strange and a little bit unfamiliar.


A perfect arrangement

Ming offered to pick Anthony up on Monday and bring him home for the day, then take him back to the nursing lodge in the late afternoon. I can’t believe how much this improved the day for me! It was so wonderful not having to make the two trips, each of which takes around an hour if you count the time it takes to get Anthony in and out of the car and then back into his room at the lodge. It was also great fun for Anthony to have his big son driving him around and Ming got to spend time with Ants on his own during the trips to and fro.

When I take Anthony back to the nursing lodge he often gets really unhappy and sentimental, and saying goodbye for the evening is sometimes a bit tearful for both of us. But with Ming, this doesn’t happen so that is a real bonus. This arrangement was also great because, having done the two trips with Anthony, Ming didn’t feel he had to spend every minute of the day with him. This can be a bit of a strain for Ming, especially when Anthony isn’t making any sense or doesn’t speak at all.

Anthony and I spent most of the morning in the kitchen while I made chicken and vegetable soup for our lunch. Then he wandered around the farm (wonderful!) until he became too wobbly. Back in the kitchen he watched me make a blue cake while we caught an old episode of Midsomer Murders on the television. The cake wasn’t quite cooked when it came time for Ming to take Anthony back so I surprised him with it on his return. As you can see, he was nonplussed.


Ming said he will drive Anthony back and forth whenever he can. This is a perfect arrangement.


The way to a man’s heart?

Ming’s Sunday breakfast: I spread half an avocado on two pieces of wholemeal toast, then cooked eight bacon rashers, two sausages, three eggs and one tomato. It took me around 10 minutes to prepare. It took Ming exactly four minutes to consume.

I took Anthony out to the Dome this afternoon where he demolished an enormous piece of chocolate mousse cake with extra cream. I sipped my coffee and watched in amazement.

After taking Ants back to the nursing lodge and settling him into his room, I came home to find Ming sitting in the living room hungry. I am not sure if he has forgotten where the kitchen is, or forgotten how to open the refrigerator which generally has food in it, but he appears to have some sort of mental block when it comes to feeding himself. So I gave him his requested snack of strawberries and cream with some reluctance. He ate it unreluctantly.


Going with the flow




This afternoon, I went and picked Anthony up from the nursing lodge to take him to the upholstering business that last rejuvenated the three antique armchairs in the living room. Since then, around 18 years ago, the business has changed hands and is owned by a delightful sister and brother. Today we actually found that the exact same fabric is still available, so that’s what Anthony wants.

But now here’s the thing: I don’t really love the fabric and even felt it was a little too dark all those years ago. I would much prefer something a little lighter and less flowery. The decision hasn’t been made yet so we shall see, but what I really like about this experience is that, even though it’s down to me in the end because I’m the one who lives here, I want him to choose, so he still knows this is his home.

When I got home from this mini-adventure (if you care for someone with advanced Parkinson’s disease, you will know what I mean by ‘adventure’), I decided to cook myself some cauliflower soup. It looks gross in the photo but is was delicious.

Then Ming and Blaze posed for me.


So much rain!

It has been raining solidly for over 48 hours, and so wet here on the farm that Ming got the old ute (truck) bogged just outside his shed this afternoon, after milking!

Today I went into town and picked up Ants to take him to my mother’s place for afternoon tea (chocolate pudding that I had made the day before). Several weeks ago, I stopped using the wheelchair taxi for outings like this because I experienced a strange new surge in energy and willingness to take him out. My mother showed us more photos of Scotland, including one of her with the bride and groom.

999562_300920350053398_2095041404_n (1)

Then she showed us some of Mr Tootlepedal (my blogging friend) and his wife. I felt a vicarious sense of pleasure to meet them through my mother. They have a B&B and my mother stayed with them just before my niece’s wedding. She told me that the Tootlepedals, and their house and garden, were just as charming as I had imagined.

0 (1)

This is the link to the Tootlepedal blog-post that mentioned my ma.

Anthony said my chocolate pudding was dry (you see, this where Ming gets his tact haha!) But his little highness polished off the rest tonight whilst watching a very serious episode of Home and Away.


And I am now cooking some soup!