wings and things

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)!



Bubble: I miss the emus.

Seli: So do I.

Woodroffe: So do I.

Angelina: So do I.

King: So do I.

Okami: So do I.

Pearly: So do I.

Malay: So do I.

Phoenix 1: So do I.

Ming: Well I DON’T!


Greener pastures

Yesterday I made a snap decision and gave the emus away to neighbours who run a farmstay up in the hills north of here – not very far away. The Emerys will now be able to run around more freely instead of being penned in and taken for ‘walks’. I am going to miss them so much!


Spot the difference

Here are two photographs (I concede that these are not very good photographs but that isn’t the point of this game). Okay, so you know those newspaper games where there are two pictures that, at first glance, look identical and you have to find the differences? Well, here are two photos that are different from each other in numerous ways but there is only one significant difference. Can you find it?



Animal antics

Uluru: You seem worried, Okami.

Okami: I am.

Cattle: Those furry things were okay but not sure about the weirdos.

Okami: It’s okay, moos, I am looking into the problem.

Emery 1: Keep eating, girls. I just heard those moo things refer to us as weirdos.

Uluru: Thanks for the leftovers – they’re great! So what are you going to do, Okami?

Okami: I am going to have a quiet word with Julie.


Tentative togetherness!

Now that the Emerys (emus) are big enough, we have been able to transfer them into a larger area to join Okami and Uluru, the alpacas. This is the first time I have ever seen the alpacas a little feisty. Today, whenever the Emerys ventured near to the alpacas, Okami, the biggest, would hiss and Uluru would copy him. This caused the timid Emerys to zigzag-sprint all over the place – hilarious!

Uluru: I don’t like this situation, Okami.

Okami: Just ignore them and they might go away.

Uluru: Yeah, but they’re too big to get through the fences now.

Okami: Good point. Okay, let’s just hope this is temporary.

Uluru: I’ve never heard you hiss before – it was amazing!

Okami: I’ve never heard me hiss before either, Uluru, but I never cease to amaze myself. Now keep eating; we don’t want them getting our food too.

Uluru: Would you like me to chase them again?

Okami: That’s a good idea; you chase and I’ll eat. Off you go.



I am laughing and chatting and listening to music and watching the birds and giving Ming a hug and cooking dinner and turning the television on and washing the dishes and changing the sheets and blogging and reading a good book and checking facebook and deciding whether to give the emus half a cabbage or a whole one and half-noticing the sunset and hoping the phone won’t ring and hoping the phone will ring and making a shopping list and trying to find my diary and paying bills and answering emails and making a to-do list and feeling glad about some things and sad about other things and thinking about pruning the roses and baking bread with the flour I bought a few months ago that probably has weevils in it and wondering whether to have a coffee or a tea or a diet coke or a beer and feeling hungry and feeling sick and wanting to go to bed and wanting to wake up and cleaning out my office and organizing my paperwork and resigning from my job and loving my friends and loving my family and loving the dogs and wishing I had continued to write columns for magazines and wishing I had written more than one book by now and and hating getting older and loving getting older and wondering what it would be like if we had more than one kid and remembering how I nearly got frostbite in Canada and wishing I had rung Tulia in PNG before he forgot about me and wishing I remembered everybody’s birthdays and wishing we had more money and laughing and chatting and helping Ming with lyrics and loving grammar and being amazed that he has the fireplace lit and feeling glad that it isn’t going to be as cold tonight as it was last night and wishing the day were night and the night were day and dreaming about eating fairy floss and Disneyland and sunburned shoulders and feeding the squirrels and wanting to find the keys to wind all of Anthony’s clocks and opening my mouth to say something to Ming but he is busy and wondering how my niece’s preparations for her wedding are going in Scotland and thinking it might not work to take Jack the Irish terrier into the nursing lodge and wishing the kitchen staff would bend the rules and give me scraps for the chooks and delighting in the anticipation of fresh eggs and thinking how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place and wondering why good people suffer and reminding Ming to set the alarm so he will get up to help milk the cows for the neighbours and finding the library book I lost several months ago and laughing because I forgot to remember to do whatever it was and then ….

…. it hits me like a car crash – the grinding metal of grief and I stop breathing, terrified that there might be another slamming of brakes, swerving of lights, skidding of tyres but, instead, there is silence, so I creep into the bathroom and lock the door and put the noisy fan on so that I can muffle into my collar the horrible sounds coming from throat so that Ming won’t hear me or worry about me or get impatient with me or wonder where his dinner is and, eventually ….

….I come out of the bathroom and into the light-filled, Aga-warmed kitchen and continue to stir the stew I have made with fresh vegetables and meat and Ming comes into the kitchen excited about his new lyrics and a new tune and wants me to listen and, once again, I am laughing and talking and listening to music, knowing that by now Anthony will be asleep.


The wonderful incongruence of friendship

Odd friendships (Emery 2 and Baby Turkey)

Intimidating friendships (Bubble 1 and Uluru)

Alliance friendships (Tapper and one of the guinneas)

Fashion friendships (Tina Turner and Phoenix 1)

Uneasy friendships (Queenie and Phoenix 1)

Terrifying friendships (Doc with the two Bubbles)

Supervised friendships (The Bubbles, Baby Turkey and Jack)

Childhood friendships (Zaruma 1 and Bubble 1)

Avocado tree friendships (Phoenix 1 and King)


‘I thought this was a bird blog!’

Angelina: It’s a bird blog primarily, of course, but Julie keeps going off topic.

Queenie: I’ve noticed that. She keeps blogging about silly old men!

King: Like me?

Queenie: Darling, never – your tail feathers will grow back soon!

Baby Turkey: I have now held this pose for several hours but Julie still hasn’t noticed!

Diamond: Me too.

Guinneas: I’m sure she’ll get back on topic soon. We always do.

Phoenix 1: She hasn’t taken much notice of me lately either, which is a bit hurtful.

Godfrey: I suggest we all start biting her. Watch and learn.

Emery 2: Noooooooooooooo!

Tina Turner: Yes – Godfrey is right!


A better life?

Today has been eventful.

A lovely place has been found for Arthur (see previous post) and he will be leaving in a day or so. Ming (Son) has told him the hut is no longer safe and we have to have it inspected for wiring (which we do).

One of the guinnea fowl was cowering in the corner of the emus’ lean-to, so Ming helped her get out. I think she wants somewhere safe to lay eggs, so here we go again!

Ming and I went out for lunch despite suffering from gastro. We had to go because it was a promise we made yesterday when we had our long discussion. I had chilli prawns and now feel amazingly better!

Anthony got angry on the phone this morning (first time ever) and said he was hurt (first time ever) that he couldn’t come home for the night so I have arranged to pick him up for the day tomorrow. His uncharacteristic upsetness has cast a shadow on today, but tomorrow will be better.

I have nearly caught up with the washing and folding of clothes.

Ming is a happy chappy.

I am too but I seem to have this spare water balloon full of tears that keeps landing in front of me, making me afraid to smile, or take the next step.

Ming said he read the post about him on Facebook and hated it but then he grinned.

One of my two PhD students has finished and submitted his thesis.

Anthony just asked me on the phone (I ring him several times a day when I can’t get in to see him) if I still loved him and I said yes.

During lunch, Ming said we were not to talk about Anthony so we didn’t.

The ute is making a funny sound.

I had a dream last night that I was having an argument with someone and a hippopotamus squashed her.

The main car’s side mirrors are smashed and I still haven’t rung the insurance company.

Nearly all of the young peacocks now have long feathers.

Wild galahs and 28s are everywhere.

There is a rat in the washhouse which only Ming has seen, so I need his company to do the washing.

I have a mother who is a best friend.

The electricity has not gone off now for a couple of days.

I have resigned from my job at the university.

I will never, ever wish for a different life.

I will never, ever wish for a better life.

This is a better life – this is the best life.