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.





Full of Beans 2

Well, I am so delighted that I am almost speechless. In a mere 24 hours ….


I have to admit that I found myself a bit shy of the tall, red-haired man who performed a bit of a miracle so energetically. I came in and out of the house, met his lovely wife and youngest (part of his team), made them a cup of tea but not much else.

Now it will be up to me.


On becoming a gardening person….


I am learning, in leaps and bounds, about gardening!

A couple of days ago, I bought some potting mix and put it into three ceramic pots I’d given Anthony for a Christmas present years ago.
Gardening people don’t see the point of empty pots, no matter how pretty; they tend to plant things in them.

So I planted the gifts given to me by the gardening group last Saturday – the strawberries in one pot, the spring onions in another, and the mint in the third pot. This proved to be a bit of a challenge because, even as a child, I hated having dirty hands. Nevertheless, I threw my cowardly hands into the dirt and found the experience strangely exhilarating.
Gardening people quite like being grubby.

Then, yesterday, for the first time in my life, I bought a hose and, in doing so, experienced a frisson of delight. Today I may embark on the adventure of attaching it to a tap.
Gardening people need to know where all the taps are.


Becoming a gardening person is not without its challenges though. For example, I didn’t know I had some narcissus pseudonarcissus growing until one of the gardening group told me so. I thought they were just daffodils.
Gardening people are linguistically superior to non-gardening people.

I am also learning that, when a gardening person places into your hands what you think are two anaemic cow turds, you must not recoil but simply say thank you. Once you have said thank you, the gardening person will tell you that the anaemic cow turd things are actually dahlia bulbs.
Gardening people are always polite.


‘Jake’s Mowing and More’


The above photo shows how out-of-control the wormwood hedge had become during the last few years of Anthony living in the nursing home. He used to take such pride in trimming that unruly hedge, in pruning the roses, in picking the camellias, in mowing the lawns etc. As for me? I was not the least bit interested, and never have been, in gardening.

But then, a couple of months ago, I discovered Jake. I had previously employed a lawn service – a lovely couple – just to do the lawns (5 acres) and Ming was sometimes unhappy about this because he felt he should be doing it himself. Anyway, the lovely couple moved into a different profession, Ming got full-time work and, as the grass soon leapt up to knee level, I decided I needed help.

So Jake came to the rescue and not only has he controlled the wormwood, he has also made this place look like it once was when Anthony was in control of things.


Yes – the above photo is of the same lengthy wormwood, now ‘Jaked’!

Anyway, yesterday this whole place was blitzed by Jake and I came home from the nursing home in the late afternoon and felt as if I were entering a park. The nostalgia was acute as I was reminded of that very first day when my parents dropped me off at this farm to be interviewed by Anthony’s rather formidable mother for the job of house-keeper/companion. I was a teenager so I didn’t really notice the garden but do remember vividly the impression that this was a place of beauty and magic.

Three decades later, this wonderful marriage tangled up by Anthony’s diseases and entry into the nursing home, this place, this farm, became a place of despair – mine. So I guess I just kind of gave up any interest in either the house or the garden; I was just too sad.

Fast forward to now and Jake’s lawn service has been a godsend in that this wonderful man, and his son and off-sider, have taken an interest in the place. I know now that I can call on Jake for garden jobs beyond lawn-mowing.

Anyone who can turn something shabby into a work of art is a person worth knowing.


[Jake: 0487343141]

I have a couple of my new gardening friends coming over tomorrow morning to hopefully give me their advice on vegetable gardening and chooks, so I think I will just pretend that I mowed the lawn myself. They are sure to believe me – hahahaha!

Thank you, Jake.



It is surprising how much continues to grow, and even flourish, here, despite the fact that this is the third summer I have stopped watering any of the garden. For those who don’t know why I stopped, the reasons are four-fold:

1. Even though I have an endless supply of good, clean bore water, turning the hoses on activates a pump which translates into a very high electricity bill;
2. I am not the least bit interested in gardening;
3. After Anthony went into the nursing home, I didn’t care much about anything except his well-being; and
4. I was conducting a scientific experiment based on Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

Palms, aloe vera, frangipani, cumquats, bottle brush, figs and grapes (as mentioned in past posts), and many other trees and plants continue to flourish regardless.


Even the house is sprouting!



Saying ‘yes’ to surreality

Ever since I was fooled by the plum tree into thinking its blossoms belonged to the avocado tree I am much more aware of how trees that are next to each other seem to have a habit of hugging each other. Here are the photos I took of ‘the avocado blossoms’ several weeks ago. The first one shows why I was confused but the second one shows quite clearly (except to an idiot – me!) that these are two separate trees.



Anyway, the following photo shows just how tricky these trees can be; here we have a camellia tree masquerading as a fig tree (or is it the other way around?) I showed it to one of the residents in the dementia wing the other day and she said, “What a strange tree!”

photo (3)

Up close, of course, it is quite obvious that the fig tree is a fig tree and that the camellia tree doesn’t have a sense of personal space.


Last summer I stopped watering the plants in order to save electricity on the pump; hence most of the ancient rose trees have died (despite a gardeningy person telling me it was impossible to kill roses) but everything else (palms, multiple camellias, un-fruiting orange and plum trees, silver birches, the two fig trees, the two avocado trees, the two pear trees, the lemon tree, the poplars up the driveway, the flame trees, and many other wild bushy looking shrubby things, have survived. This is probably because Anthony planted many of these at around the time I was born – over 50 years ago – so their roots are deep (you see, I have now done a bit of gardening-for-dummies research).

I guess what’s surreal is that, when I took ‘the avocado blossoms’ into the nursing home and put them in a vase, Anthony didn’t correct me and say, “Those aren’t avocado blossoms, silly!” (Actually nobody corrected me until I wrote a post correcting myself and then a friend said to me, “Yeah, I thought you’d definitely lost the plot!”)

Every single person with every single kind of dementia has, I think, has an ability to accept the surreal as real. Yesterday, during a children’s concert at the nursing home, one of the residents kept asking if the woman on my right (another resident) and the man on my left in the wheelchair (Anthony) were my parents, so I explained that one was my new friend and the other was my husband. She looked at me with interest and said, with absolute certainty, “My parents will be here soon”, and I said, “Yes.” By end of the concert she had forgotten about her parents and was fine, delighted as we all were, by the children’s voices.

I’m not sure here, but it seems to me that if someone’s reality is fractured by dementia, and their reality becomes a dreamscape of surreal thoughts, memories and emotions, maybe the best way to respond is in the affirmative, and to say ‘Yes!’

And that is why I still have an avocado tree with pink blossoms!


Letting the plants die

At the risk of horrifying gardeners everywhere, Ming and I have made the decision to let anything that cannot survive this summer without water, die. Why, you ask? Well, firstly we don’t have any reticulation on this 5-acre back yard; secondly, every time we turn the hose on to water anything, the bore pump kicks in and the electricity bill skyrockets; and thirdly, I am NOT keen on gardening!

Most of the plants and trees here (camellias, flame trees, willows and palms) are so old that their roots are very deep so they will survive and of course all of the native trees will survive – the gums, wattles and whatever those other trees at the back are. Most of the fruit trees – oranges, avocado and pear trees haven’t properly fruited for years but they still look nice I guess.

Similarly, we are also getting rid of all the potplants because the pots are broken and cracked, most of the plants are dead anyway and it’s bad enough having so much inside clutter without all this outside clutter. Anthony was the one with the green thumb, not me, and not Ming.

This has not been an easy decision because the ancient rose trees that line the driveway are pretty special but for any of you who know what a typical Australian summer is like, the watering of these roses is going to be an enormous job and expense.

Tomorrow is the first day of summer. Bring it on!


The wheelchair taxi woman

When Anthony has been wheelchair-taxied home and back he has had a variety of drivers. One of those drivers is a lovely woman who dropped in unexpectedly yesterday morning on her day off to ask about buying peachicks. We exchanged phone numbers so that I could ring her if we are lucky to get any hatchlings but admitted that I wasn’t sure what the chances were due to our fox problem. Also the peafowl are very independent so I don’t know if and where the peahens are laying (I obviously need to do some research!)

Anyway, during our short conversation, she asked when ‘hubby’ was coming home again and I said I had begun to think this was a bad idea because it upset him so much to go back to the nursing lodge after being here with us. She disagreed and said that even though he is upset each time she takes him back, it is well worth it for his sake, to be home even if it’s only briefly. “It’s the same for every person,” she said, “Don’t stop bringing him home.”

So guess what? Anthony is being wheelchair-taxied home in around 2 hours, for lunch and the afternoon.  Wish us luck!

Oh no – I better hurry up and hide those two pots with the dead azaleas in them! On the other hand, Anthony does know that I am not a gardener.


The trouble is….

I’m not keeping up with the garden. Okay, it’s never been one of those beautifully manicured gardens anyway but over the years Husband has invested a lot of time and care into his roses, camellias, frangipanis, Silver birches, palm trees and so on. That was his ‘thing’, not mine and, as I was working at the university, I didn’t take an interest. Okay so it’s 18 months since I stopped teaching so I could be around for Husband as his Parkinson’s got worse, and anyone else would have noticed that the garden wasn’t getting its usual attention but not me.

You see I don’t just dislike gardening, I loathe gardening. I realise this is a risky statement to make because some of the people following this blog love gardening the way Husband does/did. And just because I loathe gardening, this doesn’t mean I loathe gardens; I love gardens but why can’t they just look after themselves?

We don’t have any proper reticulation so Husband used to spend the entire day watering the millions of flowers and trees and come in exhausted. Since Husband went into the nursing lodge, Son has been doing much of that but now that he’s incapacitated too, it’s down to me – argh! Sorry, but I can think of better things to do and have half decided to let nature take its course. In other words, anything that can survive on its own can stay – so far this is fig trees, palms, gum trees, wattles, camellias, pear trees, orange trees and a whole lot of other stuff.

It’s five acres – I can’t do everything. Even the bird bath has a crack in it.

Yeah, I reckon gardening is for the birds!