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There’s a Dead Bird on my Doorstep

Many people who read the recent article in the Bay of Plenty Times about my daughter Talitha and her painting in the exhibition at Harrison’s Gallery  click here to read might wonder about the opening statement about the dead bird on the doorstep. Well here’s a little background.

People don’t send me flowers…They send me dead birds

One morning while still rubbing the sleep out of my eyes I wandered into the kitchen for my wake up fix (a cup of tea). Beth my sixteen year old daughter who is always up with the birds was wrestling with her algebraic equations. She is the steady-eddy of the family, without lifting her gaze and looking steadily at those defiant integers she said “Hi mum, there’s a dead duck on our doorstep” Beth’s mind wandered back to the algebra but I was already at the door. Sure enough there was a beautiful dead duck just laying there multiple thoughts ran through my brain in quick succession. Humor fear and question – was this put here by some angry person – a message from the godfather? Nah, I pushed these aside with more fanciful thoughts – an artistic admirer wanting a commission? Then my mind wandered to the scene of a duck on the last legs of life flying exhausted up to our door dying with the one hope of being immortalized in bronze.

“Mr. M rang a few hours ago” said Beth bringing me back to reality “He said he found it on the side of the road in the early hours of the morning”

You may well ask how we got the reputation for such things.

Many years ago, we sent out a newsletter with a few funny stories about our artistic lives. This was one of the articles.

A Life Less Ordinary

I’m sure you have heard the phrase “a life less ordinary”.

Well, I would have to say that as artists, I think it pretty much wraps up our lifestyle at times whether we like it or not.

Some months ago my husband Chris was traveling to Rotorua and noticed a dead Harrier Hawk on the side of the road. Because it was in very good condition he decided to bring it home for Tali and I to observe and photograph (a dead bird is quite a find in a household of artists!).

When we saw it we made the decision to have it preserved and rang a local taxidermist to arrange for him to come and collect the bird, which was being stored in the deep freeze until he was in our part of town. A few weeks later (with the bird interned in the deep freeze) my husband had to go overseas on a business trip for a few weeks and while he was away I was suddenly hit with a terrible virus that put me in bed for seven days. After not being able to hold any liquid during this time and becoming quite dehydrated I decided to call our Doctor and request a house call. As it happened he was away and a Locum was standing in for him but I was told he was unable to attend me that day… well to cut a long story short I ended up seeing another doctor and after a shot and some medication I was on the road to recovery. As I lay on the couch that afternoon dozing we had a call from the taxidermist saying he was coming to collect the bird. A short time later a car came up our driveway and a man carrying a bag arrived at the door. Tali greeted him and said “Oh you’ve come for the dead bird, it’s in the freezer I’ll just get it for you”. A puzzled and somewhat horrified expression came over the man’s face, but he calmly said “I’m the doctor…”

More confusion reigned as I attempted to explain that I had called another surgery and had already seen another doctor.

I certainly couldn’t blame him for leaving with the impression that we were pretty odd; I mean, how many house calls do you think he has to resurrect a dead harrier hawk!

A few weeks later I encountered the same doctor again, he promptly greeted me with “Oh you’re the dead bird lady!” Sometimes an ‘ordinary life’ sounds appealing and much less complicated, but then we did enjoy a good laugh over this story and I certainly can’t complain of boredom can I?

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