Gathering the straws of life together

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Transitions

Transitions

We are continually making transitions in our life. Some are minor transitions and others are major transitions. When I got up this morning, I made the transition from resting to wakefulness. A very minor transition. But a transition, nonetheless. Some of us make a transition […]

The Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree

All over Toowoomba in shops and businesses I find I am looking at a Christmas tree. On Thursday 6th December 2018 there is the annual Christmas street parade beginning at the City Hall, Ruthven Street, around the corner into Margaret Street, arriving at the Grand […]

The joy of champagne

The joy of champagne

If you have never drank champagne, then you are missing out on the joy of champagne! I find whenever I turn up at a celebration, there is usually a bottle of champagne. It just keeps turning up at special events.

Special events can include birthdays, christenings, a job promotion, births, weddings, seeing in the New Year, and even funerals. Racing car drivers celebrate a win with champagne. However, out of respect for the culture the Formula 1 winners in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain spray non-alcoholic rosewater. Not everyone drinks champagne however if your culture permits it then why not have a glass, at least once in a while!

Then there is the tradition of christening ships by breaking a bottle of champagne on its bow as the ship is named out aloud and officially launched. It is a superstitious practice to appease Neptune, the Greek god of the sea. It is considered bad luck if the bottle does not break. Did you know that the bottle of champagne that christened the Titanic did not break!

Celebrating mother’s day with my mother Valma, sister Debbie (middle of photo) and her friend. Everyone looks happy!

As we are nearing Christmas and the holiday season, I am sure I will find a few occasions to enjoy a champagne. When buying champagne, we only buy ones that have the words on the bottle ‘Méthode Traditionelle’. The method is also known as ‘Méthode Champenoise’. It was developed first in the Champagne region of France. The ‘Méthode Traditionelle’ is also used in the production of sparkling wine, however using the term ‘Champagne’ is restricted to the Champagne region in France. If you look at a bottle of Australian sparkling wine such as the Brown Brothers Pinot Noir Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, it is of premium quality as a result of the ‘Méthode Traditionelle’ process. No mention of the word Champagne.

My O&O enjoying a champagne at my mother’s home in Sydney a few years ago! It was my birthday!

The ‘Méthode Traditionelle’ process produces a better quality of champagne or sparkling wine. It is a labour-intensive process whereby wine undergoes a secondary process of fermentation in the bottle. It is less likely to give you a headache – a good reason to look out for it! If you see the word “charmat” on a bottle of champagne it means that the secondary process of fermentation took place in a large tank and it is a lesser quality of sparkling wine.

Here I am enjoying a glass of champagne at a family wedding. It was windy outside, note the hair!

We have a tradition at our place in that we always keep a bottle of champagne in the fridge. Who knows when there is a reason to celebrate – the joy of life through the joy of champagne!

Stormy weather

Stormy weather

Queensland summer’s are known for stormy weather. This year we did not need to wait until summer, the stormy weather began in Spring! I missed the Spring days as there were so few of them. Spring arrived and so did the hot stormy weather. Then […]

Service, surveys and feedback

Service, surveys and feedback

Service may come first but after service there are surveys and feedback. It seems that everyone these days after providing a service is asking me to complete a survey or give feedback. What happens to all this feedback collected mostly via short surveys and some […]

Embrace me

Embrace me

I have not been blogging as regularly as usual. The reason is that I have been attending to my mother’s care needs – she is 92 years old. While demanding it has been a privilege to care for her at this time of her life. However, I am not the only one who is caring for my mother I have three sister and a brother, we are sharing the care. But as the paperwork Queen (a title given to me by my sister) my time has been very occupied!

A few weeks ago, my mother phoned me on a Sunday asking me to keep in touch with her throughout the day as she was not feeling well. She was living by herself in a retirement village. I am a two plus hour drive away. Later, the same day an ambulance was called, and she was admitted to hospital. After this our family stayed with her for three nights before she went into respite care.

Fortunately, after a few permutations, my mother has government approval for permanent aged care. The first morning after being in respite my O&O (one and only) visited her around 8.30am she was sitting in her chair with the teddy bear named Claude, my sister Debbie had given her. She looked very forlorn and I was worried. Over the next couple of days, I spent about 6 hours a day settling her in and giving her an orientation to her new surroundings. Other family members visited. Given such mammoth changes all elderly people need support and time to orient themselves to their new and changing environment. I spoke to one woman in the aged care facility who had no children. I wondered who visited her, who cared for her, beside the staff and did she have anyone who would give her a warm embrace?

My mother’s favourite flowers, the pansy.

My mother Valma still has her capabilities and knows what is happening around her. On Friday she told me about another resident who had moved in and at breakfast after one-night in her new home burst into tears. My mother wandered down the hall later to see how she was. Valma wanted to give this new resident a warm embrace. It is not easy for older people who must move into aged care. Many elderly people have lived productive and successful lives, lived and loved their homes and families but then they must move into aged care. They can no longer entirely take care of themselves and cope with the demands of our modern world, such as the technology. Therefore, it is important that everyone receives a dignity of care and are valued as they grow older particularly when many lose their capacity to make decisions and care for themselves.

Tomorrow my mother will be at the Melbourne Cup party held at her aged care home. She has picked out her outfit and will wear her blue fascinator – she will look fabulous, maybe even win the prize for the best dressed!

I and my family have much to do to establish my mother in her full-time care arrangement. In the meantime, we have taken on the responsibility and all she must do is enjoy this time of her life. With a warm embrace from all of us as we leave her and blowing a kiss or two it is satisfying that our Mum is in a good place. She is enjoying this time of her life and getting the best of care. Yes, she has not a care in the world as we work through the pile of paperwork and arrange to sell her village unit and transition her into her new permanent care arrangement. But then, why not – it is what we want, my siblings and I. We want to give her the best – an embrace of love as she lives out her final years. All she wants is to have our arms about her as we leave after a visit. A soft gentle kiss on her cheek and a couple of kisses blown in the wind as we leave. How fortunate are we, to have our mother still with us at 92 years of age?

All this has reminded me of the Nat King Cole song “Embrace Me” – my mother has a great singing voice, as did her mother. I also love singing this song. I leave you with Nat King Cole’s rendition.

 

The door of opportunity

The door of opportunity

Is the door or opportunity something we find, or does it sometimes pass us by before we notice? I have pondered this at times and hope as time moves on that I do not miss the door of opportunity. The door of opportunity can come […]

Milk and honey

Milk and honey

Milk and honey is a metaphor meaning “all good things” – abundance and prosperity. Milk is a symbol for life. As we know babies drink only milk in the early months of life. Milk is so versatile. We can make milk drinks, use it in […]

Hen Haven

Hen Haven

Living with chickens at our place has its interesting moments as we create a hen haven for our chickens. Backyard chickens are becoming more popular and if you have the space and are able to offer a good home for your girls you will have end up eating amazingly fresh and tasty eggs. Yes, the eggs our girls lay are sensational. Eggs from the supermarket cannot compare!

Providing a good home for chickens is more than building or buying a chicken coop. We like our home to be a safe haven, a place where we can find shelter, comfort and security. Similarly, we like our girls also known as Princess Chickens to have a comfortable and safe home – a hen haven. A true hen haven also includes providing your girls with clean bedding in their resting and roosting area; clean nesting material; unrestricted food and water; shellgrit to strengthen egg shells; treats for entertainment and to give some interest to their day, as well as the space and freedom to roam around. Then by magic a chicken coop is not only a hen haven, it becomes a palace!

Not any ordinary home but Cluckingham Palace.
My O&O and I made new blinds for the chicken coop. A labour of love!
Installing the coop blinds. Keeps out the rain and heat; keeps in the warmth when it is cold and windy. My O&O is very good with coop maintenance. 

Introducing new chickens to the hen haven

It is going on 8 months since we introduced our two new girls, Golda and Melba to share Cluckingham Palace with Carmella and Lucy. There are several ways you can settle in new chickens. One of the recommended ways is have them in separate coops but close so they can get to know one another. The other approach is to put them all together and let them work it out. I did the latter after my first plan of separation did not work. After putting them together they had no choice but to work it out.

In the early weeks of settling into their new home Golda and Melba were very timid and slept together huddled up at the back of the coop (downstairs). They did not go up to join the older girls on the roosting bars (we have two bars suitable for 8-10 chickens) upstairs. They either did not have the confidence or they were too frightened as they were smaller than the older two. They were about 12 weeks old and they were still growing feathers. Melba is the most timid hen in the flock and early on was picked on by Carmella and Lucy. But Golda, who was more assertive had no trouble at all from the beginning!

Golda and Melba  only discovered their sleeping area after I picked them up one night and placed them on one of the roosting bars. As chickens can’t see at night it was easier than doing this at dusk. They were a little anxious but after I completed the procedure two night in a row they got the hang of it. The next night they went up the ramp all on their own to take their place on the roosting bar. However, it took weeks until they all worked out who would take what place on the roosting bar (they all share the same one). When Lucy could not get her favourite spot she sulked and went and slept in the nesting box. Just as well I found out, by accident when collecting eggs late one evening. Each night I would nudge her out of the nesting box and then shine the torch so she could find her way to the roosting bar. At times she would push one of the others out-of-the-way for her preferred spot. It was a very interesting exercise. After a couple of nights I did not need to give her a nudge but just talk to her and she would grudgingly make the trek over to the roosting bar! Several weeks later Carmella did the same thing. As soon as I lifted the lid on the nesting box she would move and wander over to the roosting bar and settle for the night. Yes, Carmella knew where she should be sleeping! My persistence eventually broke the habit. Why would I bother? Because it is a bad chicken habit sleeping in the nesting box. Chickens poo during the night and there would have been a mess in the nesting box resulting in soiled eggs. As it happens the nesting box with its soft pine shavings is clean and so are the eggs.

The dwarf mulberry and passionfruit vine that I planted are doing very well.

Chickens living and roosting together

Now after 8 months Melba has more courage to stand up for herself.  When I feed the Princess Chickens their kale treat, instead of tying it up with string and hanging it in the run I hold on to it. Earlier on as either Carmella or Lucy would pick on Melba (the pecking order) she developed a habit of running in grabbing a piece of kale and running away. Now with me holding on to the string I move it around and the others have to concentrate on this rather than Melba. Gradually, over a few weeks, Melba instead of running in and then running away is now standing alongside the others to get her share, no longer getting bullied – the Hen Etiquette Training School is at work!

Chickens are very intelligent. Ours can distinguish between me and my One&Only (O&O). Often when my O&O appears they will look up and then keep on doing what they were doing. If I turn up, they think I have a treat for them and they run or should I say race up to the top gate. Chickens should be treated well, as they have feelings. If they are frightened they will run away. They have individual personalities. Lucy likes to be close to me if I am cleaning out the coop or nearby in the vegetable garden. She comes to investigate. When I am cleaning out the roosting area (upstairs) from a door that folds down at the back, she will come up the ramp to watch what I am doing. She just enjoys hanging out with me! On the other hand Carmella once she realises there are no treats I am ignored. At other times, Carmella, when not satisfied with the kale will give a complaining and consistent clucking noise to let me know she wants something more interesting, like meal worms or that left over roast meat. It goes on and on! Not only are our chickens living and roosting together, we are living right beside them. However, our lodgings are a little more palatial. We have not told them, so they think they are living in luxury! At least, is must be “as good as it gets” for chickens living in their hen haven.

The chickens love an occasional mulberry treat! Planted also to give them shade.
The four Princess Chickens with a little scattered straw enjoying some play-time out in their run. If chickens are well looked after they will be contented and healthy. They will then happily cluck and scratch away for hours and hours – even more so after they have one of their favourite treats!

Get in touch with the earth. Raise chickens and plant herbs, fruit and vegetables – even if you have a small plot of land. The rewards are endless.

As good as it gets

As good as it gets

Have you ever woken up one morning and thought is this “as good as it gets”? I am sure there are many of us as we navigate life and ageing. Not that I am that old – yet! But like all other baby boomers, I […]


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