The mystery of the missing eggs

Two had been cracked. I took two and tried to check them, and these are some of the hidden eggs from our chooks.

Our five hens have not laid their regular number five-six eggs per day for the past two months. Business has slowed. Usually, my son collected any extras and sold these to my work colleagues for $6 per dozen. We bought the chickens from our local produce store to have our own free range eggs. The egg supply was timed right to the hour for several months.

The ‘chook pen’  as we call it in Australia, was completed with all chicken-amenities, the food, water and laying nests. Each day, we let the chooks out to wander freely on the 2.5 acres with other wild life. Each evening the chickens, six hens and a rooster, made their own way back to the pen. We kept the pen fully surrounded with fish-net and, with the door shut at night to keep out snakes,  wild cats and foxes.

Two months ago, one of the hens died. She became extremely tired and sleepy one Sunday; our local vet’s surgery was closed so I took the hen inside our house. I wrapped her in a towel and kept her warm and hand-fed her. I could see from her reaction, or lack of it that eating and drinking were too much of an effort for her. I monitored her behaviour, which was mostly heavy breathing, throughout the night.

About 7am the next day, while nursing the chook, she gave her strongest performance. She kicked and she tried to stand up and open her eyes, only to fall back and die in my hands. I cried. Then, while I watched while my son bury the hen, I realised, my own efforts had not amounted to anything and I still did not understand what the hen died of. It was heart-breaking.

Since the death of one hen, the rest of the hens stopped laying. Over the weeks, I told my work colleagues we did not have any spare free range eggs. The orders were piling up and this news did not go down well with the egg customers. They loved the eggs because they said,  our chickens laid larger and more delicious eggs then the shop eggs.

I had also thought the chickens had stopped laying  because they were mourning the dead chicken. After a few weeks, our family resigned to the fact that we would only get two eggs each day if we were lucky. This number decreased to –  two eggs every other day. A week ago my 16-year-old son found one egg in his tool box. Amongst the hammer, screw drivers and spanner with oiled nuts and bolts, the egg was near an old Honda classic motorbike my son had been restoring.  We all had a good laugh about this egg discovery. We looked around the yard, but did not find any more eggs.

The unsuspected nesting place, the inside corner of the couch. We pass this couch several times each day but no-one knew the eggs were laid there.

Today, as I was cleaning the house and moving re-cycled garbage to the car port, I made another discovery. Almost a dozen eggs were piled in a corner of an old cane couch we left in the car port. We walk pass this couch every day, to get to the front door of the house. No-one had ever thought of checking here. The mystery of the missing eggs was solved, but what do I do with these eggs? I don’t know how old they are?  I had initially thought when I discovered these eggs that the hens must be wanting to hatch the eggs into babies – but how do we know for sure what the ‘chooks’ are thinking?

All writers need a Wattpad Moment

I attended a talk at our local library last Saturday in Kenmore, near Brisbane City, Australia. I was with six others from our Creative Writing group. We had all been reading and writing fiercely, and were excited about learning to E-Publish.

As it turned out, the Kenmore Library talk, given by the Queensland Writers Centre was valuable and inspired all of us. Although we were all ‘pumped’ by the talk, some members were not too comfortable with self-promotion and general socialising on the internet and E-publishing.  Some of course (all total of three of us) raced home and signed up with Wattpad to begin writing our stories.

I was working through my drafts and trying to choose what I would like to write or publish on Wattpad. I also looked up general information on Wattpad and read other stories written by various writers. It is too early for me to know whether this step would assist me with my plans to publish some of my work but I will share more later.

Amongst all the information I read and saw, I came across this short video – which made me laugh. This video is not only about what a writer does in Wattpad. This is what we all do in Wattpad or WordPress or even other social networks – we are eager to get some response, feedback or praise when general advice is ‘write for yourself’, or ‘don’t expect’ anything or ‘believe in what you are doing’….. after all, writers are human.

Study: Penguins personalities may help them cope with climate change

Little penguins’ personalities may help them cope with climate change. Credit: John F. Cockrem, PhD

As the global climate continues to change, the ability of many animal species to adapt is being put to the test. Bird populations may be at particular risk. According to the Audubon Society, nearly half of all North American bird species are severely threatened by shifts in climate. The threat reaches beyond North America and could have similar effects on global bird populations.

John Cockrem of the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedial Sciences at Massey University in New Zealand suggests that a bird’s individual personality may be among the factors that could improve its chances of successfully coping with environmental stressors. He studied differences in the level of the stress hormone corticosterone that native little penguins (Eudyptula minor) secreted when exposed to stressful stimulus.
“There is considerable individual variation in corticosterone responses, and a stimulus that initiates a large response in one bird may initiate a small response in another bird,” Cockrem wrote. “Corticosterone responses and behavioural responses to environmental stimuli are together determined by individual characteristics called personality. Birds with low corticosterone responses and proactive personalities are likely to be more successful (have greater fitness) in constant or predictable conditions, whilst birds with reactive personalities and high corticosterone responses will be more successful in changing or unpredictable conditions.”
These findings may help in predicting the adaptability of bird species as they face a new normal.

Gifted young Aussie sportsman died today


Phillip Hughes died on Thursday afternoon, two days after he received a brutal bouncer to the head during the Sheffield Shield clash at the Sydney Cricket Ground. He was set to turn 26-years-old on Sunday. Credit:Reuters

A shocking and sad news arrived this evening. Gifted sportsman, Phillip Hughes died this afternoon after being hit in the head with a bouncer ball during a match played on Tuesday afternoon on Sydney Cricket Ground. He was admitted to St Vincent Hospital after being struck in the head, underwent an emergency surgery, and placed in induced coma. He never regained consciousness and died peacefully this afternoon.

What a gifted and humble sportsman. Hughes, was turning 26 this Sunday.  Phillip Hughes could play both rugby and cricket very well and he chose cricket. He was the first and youngest Australian to score a century in his debut international game.

World leaders: I can no longer place my faith in your hands

The words of Bai Kamara Jr

Published on Nov 20, 2014
George Marshall, writer and co-founder of the Climate Outreach Information Network talked about why our brains are wired to ignore environmental threats at TEDxWWF. Brussels, 13 October 2014.Climate Campaign

The End of the broom – Part Two

This is the second part of a draft chapter I am working on and sharing with you. If you find grammar or other errors, just smile and forgive me. This chapter may change as I edit and re-write. There is still a lot to be done.


JLeahy Memoir Series   The End of the broom

“Where is the mouth of the road?

At the entrance of the cemetery.

That’s where my body will rest and become soft.

But my spirit would fly to you,

Where I will see your face Lord”

I hummed the song in my head. It really wasn’t a good song for the start of a day. I was too distracted today.

I had to get my Saturday morning chores done. I picked up the broom; a bundle of dried brown coconut sticks, and went to the back of the house near the pig pen to sweep. In preparation for my getaway, I threw my red on the weak, bouncy, low wire clothes line that was slowly coming apart from the two ends, tied on coconut trunks. I was careful not to ‘bounce’ some of the wet clothes off; they had no pegs on them. We did not have any.

“Kalem! Kalem!” the children were calling me from the river. I waved and made hand signs that I was busy, and would join them later.

From the back , I used the coconut broom to sweep to the front yard. The bare sandy yard studded with beach pebbles embraced two houses, both of distinct characters. The larger house faced the main road to the village and the other faced the side of the larger house. There was a large hardwood tree at our entrance called Abong. Because we lived under this tree, our place was called Abonghu, which meant, “at the foot of the Abong tree”. The larger, white house, had blue trimmings and two blue door exits. With her nursing money, Mother helped her father to build this house for all of us. It happened before I was born. After I was born, when I was asleep, she hung me in the bilum on the Abong branch. The three rooms were shared with her two siblings and parents. Mother often fought with her older brother and his children over the ownership of this house. Each time, she would count the number of cement bags, timber, and roofing iron and tell them the total amount of her pension she had spent.

I tried to avoid the pig droppings as I swept. Pigs made such a ‘neat’ mess. Little black round balls looking almost as if they were rolled by hand. It did stink though. I swept past Mother and my room.

There were three bedrooms. Each room in the house Mother built housed several people. There was a lounge room, which turned into guest room when our families visited from the coast or inland. The lounge room had tired old fly-wired windows. Scrawly pen and pencil marks drawn by kids on the wall. The brown unpainted Masonite walls dropped down to unpolished evenly nailed timber hardwood floors. Various stains in years, soaked into the fibre of the dead wood giving it a distinct character. The other house was made from unpainted timber with a mis-matched stacking of planks. The roof was made from sewn sago leaves, and topped with a few iron roof sheets. The sheets had holes in them. Inside, the house was blackened by the built up of daily smoke from the fire. My grandma’s fireplace was on the verandah of this house. The two rooms had no fly wire, just cotton laplaps. The roof had holes. If your bed is positioned right, a raindrop will fall from heaven straight through the hole into your eye – shocking you. My cousin and I have tried this. It was funny.

To my readers:  If you had enjoyed this draft, let me know. I won’t be posting the end of this chapter. It will be in my book. I shall be posting other parts of chapters as I start writing them. These last two stories (in The end of the broom) were parts of the first chapter I have ever written of this memoir. I have been writing a series of short stories in the last two years in my creative writing workshop. I am now attempting to connect them together and create a structure and a spine for the story. If this is the wrong way of writing a book – then I guess I have created a new way. Thank you for reading.



“Let’s sit and talk”

Arabic Letters As Sculptural Loungers

Made of ultra-dense Styrofoam coated with polyethylene, the furniture-like sculptures are three-dimensional renditions of Arabic script.

My Cool Stuff feature for this week are these 3D sculptures by Marie Khouri. I fell in love with these lounges, a design truly created for dialogue. The beautiful pieces are on a touring exhibition. Look at them, aren’t they exquisite? What a clever design!


Story by Adele Weder 

The sensual shapes in Marie Khouri’s installation, recently on view at Vancouver’s Equinox Gallery, spell out “Let’s Sit and Talk” in Arabic. 

Design speaks to us on the most visceral level, but few can render its language as literally as Vancouver-based artist Marie Khouri. Her latest installation, Let’s Sit and Talk, exhorts us, in word and form, to connect with one another. Each of the 15 pieces is a sculpture you can sit on.


Together, they spell out the exhibition’s title, sculpted in beautiful cursive Arabic script. The quintilingual Khouri, born in Egypt, raised in Lebanon and trained in Paris, has made a career of conflating art with function: through her design studio, she also makes and sells jewellery, wine racks, benches, chaises longues and planters – all of which double as discrete sculptures.

Read more here:

Protected Areas: bastions against deforestation fronts

The Uatumã Biological Reserve in the state of Amazonas in Brazil.
© WWF-US / Ricardo Lisboa


Imagine the Grão-Pará Ecological Reserve in the Amazon. Part of the world’s largest strictly protected area, the rainforest stretches seemingly forever, echoing with the sound of birds, insects and primates. Rivers tumble-down waterfalls on their long, winding journeys to the sea.

Then the forest gives way to open land. The trees are gone, the forest canopy disappears. There’s a giant crater in the ground: gold mines.

Fortunately for the more than 60 types of mammals and hundreds of plants and bird species – as well as forest-dependent communities – no logging or mining is allowed within the 4.2 million hectare ecological reserve. The boundaries of Grão-Pará are holding firm against the deforestation front bearing down on it.

“Deforestation fronts” exist where large-scale deforestation or severe degradation is projected between now and 2030. WWF has identified 10 such places, and the Amazon is the biggest. Globally, these areas could account for over 80 per cent of the forest loss projected by 2030 – up to 150 million hectares (an area roughly the size of Mongolia).

The drivers of deforestation in these places are diverse – expanding infrastructure, mining and agriculture, sometimes through corporations operating at industrial scale, and sometimes due to poor rural populations encroaching into forests to secure land, gather firewood or prospect for gold.

Parks under pressure

Riau province, Sumatra, Indonesia
Illegal logging for paper industry and forest clearing for palm oil plantation. Tesso Nilo, Riau, Sumatra, Indonesia © Alain Compost / WWF-Canon


To read more click here:

How Whitlam’s self-interest sank PNG

How Whitlam’s self-interest sank PNG

This article was re-blogged from Malum Nalu Blog. Malum Nalu is the most read blogger, journalist from Papua New Guinea. He also happens to be my cousin. Thank you bro for sharing this article from Geoffrey Luck.

I was ten-years-old when Papua New Guinea received Independence from Australia. I remember that day and what we had to do in school. As a Papua New Guinean and a child at that time, I never understood what the change in my country meant; I guess I was too young to understand.  However, over the years, I noticed how things have changed.

· NOVEMBER 04, 2014

Gough Whitlam and a young Michael Somare at Independence celebrations. Credit: Whitlam Institute.

In all the words written about Gough Whitlam, little has been said of one of his greatest ideological and opportunistic initiatives, one of which he was inordinately proud, yet inevitably became one of his many disasters. We know it as the failed state of Papua New Guinea.

Gough Whitlam and a young Michael Somare at Independence celebrations. Credit: Whitlam Institute.

In the 1960s Whitlam used PNG as a lever to advance his ambitions in the Labor Party. His regular visits culminated in his 1970 tours of the territory inciting radicalism and disparaging the efforts of government, business and settlers in his crusade against what he termed Australian colonialism.
Whitlam has been seen as a visionary, but in reality he was a fashionista, shrewdly sensitive to ideas already current in the wider world to which he could sincerely subscribe and could appropriate.
So it was with anti-colonialism, the grand international theme of the 60s. It swelled to the nationalistic drumbeat as former colonies gained independence, then ­blossomed as their petty tyrants took triumphant control of the UN organs of moralistic reform.
In the first few years of that decade, 30 former colonies of France, Britain, Belgium and Italy secured independence, some after bitter and protracted bloody struggles.
The steady Australian policy of uniform development of PNG was contrasted to the frantic Dutch ­efforts to produce a political elite in West New Guinea, as Indonesia sprinkled paratroopers into the swamps of Manokwari.
Hugh Foot, the British colonial administrator who lowered the Union Jack around the world, became Britain’s ambassador to the Trusteeship Council in 1961, gamekeeper turned poacher. The next year he led the UN visiting mission that critiqued Australia’s management of PNG, ­demanding a local parliament.
In response to these growing pressures, a House of Assembly of 100 members was elected from a common electoral roll in 1964, but the Trusteeship Council and the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation increasingly demanded independence. It was a campaign Whitlam wholeheartedly endorsed, oblivious to the realities of PNG or the wishes of the great majority of the native population.
ALP policy under ­Arthur Calwell supported the Menzies government policy of uniform development. Calwell visited New Guinea regularly and was well-informed on territory affairs. Whitlam set out to destroy the bi­partisan approach to PNG ­dev­elopment. It fitted ­con­ven­i­ently with his efforts to ­reform the party and replace ­Calwell as leader.
Paul Hasluck, minister for territories and author of the gradualist policy of development, told parliament in April 1961 that Whitlam was using New Guinea as “just another rung on a ­borrowed ladder” for his climb to leadership.
In 1965, Whitlam told a World Bank seminar in Goroka that “the world will think it anomalous if Papua New Guinea is not independent by 1970”.
A few days later he went much further, in a dinner speech to the 400 most influential Australians in Port Moresby. That speech has never been reported because he pulled one of his most reprehensible stunts.
Before he spoke, he called for any journalists in the room to stand up, then asked the four of us to undertake not to report what he was about to say — “otherwise I will not be saying it”, he said. What he went on to say shocked everyone in the room.

Only deputy leader and speaking against Labor policy, he warned that as soon as Labor came to power it would announce full self-government for PNG, and immediately set the constitutional wheels in motion to grant ­independence.
Whitlam hoped to unnerve Territorians, but not let his party or Australia know. To this day I have been ashamed I didn’t break that undertaking, extorted under such disgraceful circumstances.

By 1967 Whitlam was leader, but he narrowly lost the 1969 election. In his notorious tour of PNG in 1969-70, he courted small radical elements such as Pangu Pati while ignoring government officers, and insulting conservative native leaders as “Uncle Toms” and their massed supporters as stooges of Australian colonialism.
The tour climaxed in Rabaul where Whitlam blundered into a land and local government dispute. At a mass gathering of more than 10,000 wildly cheering Tolais at Queen Elizabeth Park, what he said, further exaggerated by deliberate mistranslation, was interpreted as support for their rebellion and a promise of independence. Senior administration officers were furious that he had allowed himself to be used.
Six months later prime minister John Gorton faced a similar crowd at the same site, but this time raging in fury against Australian government policies. The situation became so threatening the district commissioner slipped Gorton a pistol. In the event, the tension evaporated when the sound system failed.
PNG achieved self-government in 1973 and independence in 1975. It was all too early, with too little done. The pressures had come from outside, but Whitlam forced the pace by encouraging and magnifying the ambitions of unrepresentative elites.
In his book The Whitlam Government, he wrote: “If history were to obliterate the whole of my public career, save my contribution to the independence of a democratic PNG, I should rest content.”
Last month, a Papua New Guinean writer, Mathias Kin, marked Whitlam’s contribution to his country’s independence with this bitter comment: “It lasted only 15 years before self-interest and corruption grabbed it by the throat.”
Geoffrey Luck was the ABC’s news editor, PNG, from 1962 to 1967 and trained the first Papuan and New Guinean journalists

The End of the Broom

The End of The Broom

JLeahy Memoir Series

Brooms. Credit: Wikipedia

The day was hot, thick and sticky with humidity. School was over yesterday. I was nearly nine. My mind was lost. Mother was going away. I had no idea when and for how long. She had a new job in Kundiawa, Simbu Province, Papua New Guinea.

It was so hot. I was dying to have a swim. Already, the children in the village were swimming in the river near our house. I looked down and saw them. Then my eyes caught the broom on the ground. I knew I had to get down there and sweep.

Mother trained women to sew clothes and make a living. She loved her job with the Lutheran Mission at Ampo (Lae), but now the government welfare office gave her a real job, she had said. Werner Knoll offered her this job. Werner was a German kiap who became a welfare manager and headed the office in Lae. He had told me he was my guardian. I knew being a guardian meant, he was not my father, but something like an angel.  I heard that word “guardian” used in our church. I also saw it in grandma’s bible.

I went to our room to get my red towel and walked back to the kitchen. I stood there and looked at the children. They were jumping off a platform we built on a tree, and landing in the river with a bombing sound. The water splashed everywhere. I was jealous. I looked at them but my mind went back to my mother. May be Werner could not pay us any more. Maybe, he ran out of money.

Mother and I visited Werner each month to collect money. Mother said we collected $AU20. When we arrived at the Welfare, Werner would beckon me with his pointer. He then lifted me onto his lap and pinched my cheeks. Then he pecked me on both the cheeks with his beard scratching me roughly. He had a large pink mole on his cheek. Then, he would order me to open my mouth so he would check my teeth for betel nut stains. I was terrified but I did as I was told. Mother and all the women in the welfare thought it was funny and laughed. After, Werner would tell me to  promise to be a good girl.  He would warn me not to chew betel nut and wink at my mother as he handed her a pink slip to go with to the bank. This ritual started when I was able to walk and speak.

I was to find out much later, this money came from my father whom I had never seen nor heard about. No one told me the money was from my father then, so I never knew. I had always thought Werner was related to me somehow and it was Werner’s money that he gave us. He was being kind. Mother had to bring me every time she visited Werner to get this money. I thought the whole ritual with Werner was part of the reason for getting the money. It was Werner’s rule.

“I will make a lot of money in this job”, Mother had said last night.

“Yamandu?” Really? I said, not convinced.

Mother promised me with such excitement in her eyes, I started to wonder what we would do with a pile of money. I did not think it was ever possible for us to have money except for Werner’s $20. Grandma said too much money was evil. Not many people made money, unless you had a bank; that’s what the village children said.

Mother’s job sounded ok. We could share the money with everyone. However, I was also concerned it would be too cold for Mother in Simbu. She needed to keep warm. She was smart, she could make fire in the evenings, I thought. I could not imagine how we would be apart. Deep inside, I had too many questions and felt uneasy about this job as I embarked on my own jobs for Saturday morning. I decided not to think about Mother. I went and started my chores.

“Kalem! Kalem!” the children were calling me from the river. I could see them from our house. I waved and made hand signs that I was busy, and would join them later.

To get my chores done I started with the coconut broom. I picked up the bundle of dried brown coconut sticks. They were held firmly at the thick end with re-cycled black rubber from tyre tube. I started sweeping from the back of the big house. My chores had increased with my age. Each day the chores changed, but most of the tasks were the same. We shared the chores between all the women in my family. The boys and men shared theirs. My chores were cleaning, washing, cooking, and helping Mother. Sometimes I helped my grandmother and aunties. If not fishing, the girls and women would be gardening together or making art and singing. On special occasions we would prepare our costumes and dance. The evenings were for story telling, and laughter after the church service. There was an occasional women gathering or village meeting. On Sundays we went to church and cooked a feast after. If someone died, we all gathered and cried together for at least two days before we buried them in our village cemetery.  As we carried the dead to the cemetery, we sang in Yabem:

“Where is the mouth of the road?

At the entrance of the cemetery.

That’s where my body will rest and become soft.

But my spirit would fly to you,

Where I will see your face Lord”


(Draft only, and to be continued in my memoir series).