wings and things


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):

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:

Blue wren:

Flame trees from dog yard with one of our many Christmas trees somehow flourishing in the heat:

Blaze again:

Feeding time – that’s Gutsy9 in foreground:

The last figs:

And, just a moment ago, Ming’s best friends about to take him out on the town:

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!


What a peculiar blog!

I have just looked back to discover that tomorrow will mark the third anniversary of this blog. The reason I was looking back was because I want to find, in amongst all of the bird stuff, everything I have written about Anthony and Parkinson’s disease and how he, Ming and I have coped. I thought it might be useful to compile these entries into one document and see if it works as a whole, maybe as a book. Apart from the wonder of all the friendships wrought via blogging, it has also been wonderful to find that I have a record of these past three years because I don’t think I would have remembered otherwise, except as a kind of blurry fog of joys and sorrows – mostly joys.

The birds, and the wings idea, have punctuated the last three years in real and metaphorical ways. Many have now been lost to fox attacks, I have given the emus away, and all three of the original caged birds have been set free. We now have a dozen peafowl, nine guinneafowl, five geese and one duck. The casualties have been heartbreaking and I have decided not to acquire any more due to their vulnerability to fox attacks. Gutsy9 is still thriving and one of the two peachicks hatched last year has survived and I think there will be more chicks soon. I have stopped interfering in the way natural selection works. All of the birds still take bread out of my hand and give me enormous joy (except Godfrey, the gander who likes to bite me!)

But everything changes and now that most of my daytime hours are spent in the nursing home, the birds and I don’t commune as much. Hence, when they hear my voice, they come running AT me with a mixture of love and greed (for wheat) that it is hilarious to watch. And even the birds who are gone continue to live on via Anthony’s hallucinations. Almost every day he points them out through his nursing home window. The outdoor tables and chairs become turkeys; the lawn is speckled with chooks and guinneafowl; and the flowerbeds are parrots. I can see them too.

It seems a rather peculiar blog in its higgledy-piggledyness and some of my entries make me cringe, but hopefully I will be able to draw out enough of the love story to compile a coherent record that might be helpful to others who live with Parkinson’s disease.

Here is a picture of the nearly grown up peachick, still very much attached to his mother (in foreground)!


Cooler weather, finally!

As you can see from the pictures below it has been very very dry here but finally today it rained properly. Ahhhh! The best thing about this for me is that my nearly healed pompholyx condition will hopefully not come back. It is definitely much better now that it isn’t so hot.

Pearl and Woodroffe searching futilely for insects in the dry grass:
Michael Jackson wishing the pond were fuller:
A forlorn parrot on a dead palm branch:
Freckle and MJ waiting for rain (or bread!)
One of our many crows in a dying wattle tree:

I did a whole lot of reading today (once again) about pompholyx, and was alarmed at various people’s stories. Some people had suffered repeated outbreaks for over 20 years! One man had tried to kill himself. Another had had to quit his job because it entailed the handling of chemicals. One woman was unable to change her baby’s nappies due to the pain. I read story after story after story and it became very clear to me that there is very little known about the disease, there is apparently no cure, despite many remedies, and I have now compiled a list of vitamins and creams and potions that I will buy tomorrow. My dermatology appointment isn’t for another week and a half so in the meantime I have taken bits of advice from all I have read and will endeavor to avoid all of the possible triggers: water, soap, coffee, cleaning products, dairy, wheat, dust, tea, heat, stress, alcohol, wool, and anxiety.

I feel very positive – and cool – and a bit dirty!


Sitting ducks

I have a new respect for birders and people who take photographs of wild birds. This morning I went outside with my camera specifically to take photos of wild (as opposed to tame) birds.

There was an abundance of course, all flying to and fro, landing in the trees, frolicking on the lawn, singing raucously, and playing hide and seek (from me!)

So I had to content myself with my happy-to-pose-for-you sitting ducklings.

Here is one of Michael Jackson who has developed some stylish markings on his head:


And here are Misha and Freckle:


I will keep trying with the wild birds ….



The wild birds!

We have a lot of crows, parrots, doves, magpies, willy wagtails, wrens, and other wild birds, who hang around a lot more then they used to here. This is obviously due to the overabundance of wheat (which is what I give all of the peafowl, guinnea fowl, and the gang).

This afternoon I decided to sit down and watch quietly as the wild birds fluttered and tiptoed into the tame birds’ little sanctuary. Tomorrow I plan to take better photos but here are a couple of Gutsy9 sharing a bowl of wheat with two crested pigeons.



(I actually thought these guys were doves until I googled their description. I feel really knowledgeable now.)


Go to bed!

They go to bed (in their yard) but then they come back out again, and they do it over an over again – argh! Ming was never this difficult when he was a baby – mmmm. The problem is that they hear my voice and assume I have bread or lettuce (which I don’t always have). Freckle, Misha and Michael Jackson seem to want to eat my feet off. Funny – yes, scary, yes! Okay, I am going out now to put them to bed and, if you never hear from me again, it will be due to a duck drama! Oh and now Baby Turkey is stuck on the wrong side of the fence – great!







House of cards

We live in a very old house – part of it is over 100 years old and, ironically, it is that side of the house that is the most structurally sound. Other parts of the house have become problematic over the years – bricks crumbling on one side, the ceiling in the big bedroom breaking one day when a builder put his foot through it and nearly fell into the house when repairing some of the roof. Obviously these things have now been repaired (well, bandaged!)

On the weekend a few more things fell apart; the back veranda door fell right out if its grooves, onto an outside table (it has been threatening to do this for some time). Luckily, the table saved it from smashing into a million pieces of glass. Then its accompanying fly-screen door fell out of its grooves into the house (these two door have a very close relationship).

Then, as if all of the doors in the house were following some sort of evil ritual, the shower door in the bathroom also fell out of its hinges – well, sort of. You see, it was a sliding door that had stopped sliding, so, in order to get into the shower, you had to hold your breath and squeeze through a small gap. Yesterday, Ming became so annoyed with this that he took half of the door off and propped it against the remaining bit of the door. He didn’t prop it very well, however so, when I had to go to the loo in the middle of the night, I bumped into it and it fell into the shower recess. Thankfully, it didn’t smash and is now outside with the rest of the rebellious doors.

Today, the kitchen door is nearly off its hinges, the front fly-wire door doesn’t close unless you force it to, and the key to the glass front door won’t work properly (which means we often have to climb into the house through a window, although that won’t be necessary anymore since we now have an almost door-less house).

Ming has been trying to fix all of these things this morning and has done a great job and I am very proud of him for trying to do this kind of thing by himself when he has never been taught. I like the way he is figuring out how to fix things without anybody’s help and with very little nagging from me. He is doing jobs I used to watch Anthony do, and he is doing them willingly and cleverly.

I had a pretty grim weekend with all of the doors in my own house-of-cards breaking, or falling, but I guess that’s what has to happen before the ‘fix you’ thing can happen. Anthony always waited until things were totally broken before he would address the situation: doors, pumps, hoses, fences, vacuum cleaners, me.

My pompholyx was finally healed enough for me to visit Ants yesterday and, when he saw my scarred hands, he reached out and stroked my wrists with his cool fingers, and watched me carefully as I smiled through unshed tears of utter misery at being separated from him.

Me: I can’t even do the bloody dishes because I am not supposed to go anywhere near rubber gloves or detergent.
Ants: Well bring me home and I can do all of that for you!
Me: But Ants, it’s nearly 3pm – it’s too late to bring you home now and, I hate to say this, but you are too sick with the PD to help me – you will only make it all harder.
Ants: (Silence)
Me: Oh great, so have I hurt your feelings now?
Ants: No.
Me: As soon as my hands are better I will pick you up to go out – is that okay?
Ants: Has to be, doesn’t it.

Then, surprisingly mobile for that time of day, Ants walked me out to the parking lot and waved goodbye. I stopped at the end of the driveway to the nursing home to check in the rear vision mirror that he was going back inside the nursing home. I watched as he slowly turned the walker around and limped back to the nursing home doors which opened automatically. And, when he disappeared through those doors, I tried not to think about anything except how well those doors worked!

Oh and the ducklings keep getting through the faulty door of their chookpen – argh. In one more week they will be too big to get out until I open the gate (which hopefully won’t break before then!)


The best thing about a house of cards is that it is so interesting!


My favourite duckling!

Okay, so I wasn’t going to name the ducklings but I can’t help myself now because they are surviving so well AND chasing me everywhere. They somehow know that my voice means lettuce or bread and they pretty much attack me every time I step out the door.

‘Michael Jackson’ is the dancing duckling and, before today, I thought the twins were identical until I noticed that one had a a lot of freckles (‘Freckle’) and the other one had more of a mish-mash of colouring and personality and beauty, so I have called her ‘Misha’.



I know I shouldn’t have favourites and of course I love Michael Jackson and Freckle and Misha equally but let’s just say that for this week I am quacking with Misha!

Misha is named after someone with a better name – and this is sent with a love quack to her!


Daybreak, heartbreak and other breaks

Yesterday, Ming went to see Anthony at the nursing home at around noon because, even though I didn’t see Ants on the weekend (because I was having a bit of a break with my friends at a nearby chalet), on Monday my stupid hands had become a bit infected and very sore and I felt unable to make the journey into town. But by 4pm I couldn’t stand not seeing Ants so I drove into the nursing home and arrived in Anthony’s room at 5pm.

Ming had already told him, earlier in the day, that I wouldn’t be in, so he was surprised and absolutely overjoyed. “My beautiful, beautiful girl,” he kept repeating. His dinner arrived and we shared a beer and I helped him with food, phone and television and then I had to go home again. I was probably in there a bit over an hour and, by the time I left, Ants was a bit confused as he always is in the evenings now. But he was happy! And he didn’t mind that I was going home at all. For me, the relief that he could say goodbye to me happily was so wonderful that I drove home on a bit of a high.

But every day is different of course. So today, when Ming and I visited for a couple of hours in the early afternoon, Anthony became so sad when we had to go (including begging us to take him with us) that it broke my heart all over again because he even articulated it: “When you both leave, I get so upset.”

Ming is better at handling this than I am. “Dad – pull yourself together! We’ll see you tomorrow!” For me it is much more difficult to extricate myself from Anthony’s heartbreak so I tend to prolong goodbyes with so many kisses and hugs that Ming nearly vomits!

I guess, because I don’t have a routine of what time I visit Ants (except that it is nearly every day), and the fact that I am not bringing him home so much, because he is too heavy now and quite often unable to move or walk without help, every single day has become an unpredictable journey of fear. The other wives of the other men Anthony’s age all have a routine; they visit their husbands at the same time every day, but these wives are in their 70s or 80s and live nearby.

This is not me complaining or asking for advice; it’s more of an attempt to give some insight into the unpredictable nature of PDD (Parkinson’s Disease Dementia) and how one day, no matter what time of day, Ants might say, “Okay, see you tomorrow, Jules” and the next day it might be “Please don’t leave me, Jules!” I can never know what to expect in any way at all – again, no matter what time of day, although evenings are worse – lucidity, confusion, joy, fear, confusion, love, hope, conversation, confusion, helplessness, uncertainty, disorientation, confusion, misery ….

To grasp my husband’s big, old hands with my younger infected hands today was very painful because he had a grip I haven’t felt for a long time – he held on tightly until I said “You’re hurting my hands, Ants!” and he immediately released them. It was worth it though, because he lost his grip a couple of years ago (PD).

On a lighter note, I am having a break from cooking tea for Ming because, for the first time ever, he is doing it all by himself – yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And the ducklings took a break from Godfrey (when he wasn’t looking!) to take bread out of my hands.


It is quite possible, of course, that, due to recent circumstances, I have either had, or am having, a nervous breakdown. That would be a very convenient excuse for not answering the phone, not opening a month’s worth of mail, not keeping up with blogs, and blogging in a way that is almost ridiculously high and low – sorry!

Oh, Home and Away is on in 5 minutes – now that is a break from reality – haha!


Duckling update

Well the three ducklings have grown so quickly that they are almost too big to squeeze through the fence of the yard I put the gang in at night. They free range with their ‘minders’ all day.

Here’s a picture of Seli and Godfrey guarding the Twins.


And here’s one of Ola watching over a sleeping Michael Jackson (the dancing duckling).


I took a whole lot of better photos of all of them but had to delete these because Ming’s smashed ute (truck) was in the background. The gang + ducklings tend to hang out underneath it because it is near the pond. We have covered the smashed-in front of the ute with a blanket so that visitors, especially family, won’t be upset if they see it. The rest of the ute looks normal, with the tray intact. I wish we could get rid of it but we are stuck with it in the back yard for now until we try again to claim some insurance. Every morning and every evening, when I let the gang out, or put them into the yard, I have to walk past the ute.

There is also a clear view of the ute from the kitchen window, a constant reminder of the accident and everything since. And when I frolic in the dirt, and offer prayers to the sky, and watch the pea-chicks climb the avocado tree, or cry until my body is cramped like a dead leaf, I am always right next to the ute.

Ming brought Ants home for the afternoon yesterday and I (rather dramatically) threw myself into his chest and soaked him with some of these endless, futile, enormous tears. He held me and said nice things to me and then asked me about the ducklings.

“When are we eating them?” he asked.

I stopped crying immediately. “What the hell are you talking about? We are not eating them, Ants!”