Dear friends, I am away from this blog for an assignment. I will be back with loads of stories – I promise. My son Nathan said he may cover the blog for me while I’m gone. He somewhat likes the Mondays Finish the Story fiction challenge and the Cool Stuff. I hope it is not like when he says he would do the dishes and then I find them in the sink when I come home. Jokes aside, don’t despair if you don’t see a post in the next couple of weeks, just think of all the stories I will be telling you when I return. Besides, Nathan may surprise all of us with one of his tales.
In this post before I go, I wanted to revisit the accidental artwork. If you have been wondering what happened to the work I pressed – this was the result when I ‘harvested’ it a few days ago.
I set with leaves and natural dyes in an earlier post (The Accident Artwork – Art Experiments). After three weeks of moist disintegration of leaf fibres on paper with tea, coffee and garden dyes, the work was totally unexpected.
In the work above and below, I used Acacia leaves with tea and other boiled leaves.
In the next two work below, I used coffee and gum leaves. This is what rotten gum leaves look like on paper. The liquid is quite thick and can really stain.
I am thinking of trying the mixture to stain wood furniture next time.
I also would like to wish all Papua New Guineans a Happy 40th Independence Day today – 16th September.
I remember making these wheels with my cousins when I was a child. They are supposedly a boys’ toy, but I tried driving it more than once. I have to admit, it was fun.
You need an old tyre, a small bottle filled with water and two sticks. You put the stick ends in the bottle and place the bottle inside the tyre. The wet bottle slides inside the old tyre and drives it forward as you push the sticks. You can drive it anywhere across country.
The Intriguing One-LeggedWaiter – Short Story JK.Leahy@
The intriguing one-legged ‘waiter’ perched on a strategic position, high above the dining area, next to an owl’s statue. He waited for his lunch. He caught my eye when I entered the restaurant with my friend Ratna Rashid for lunch today in Brisbane. Next, the one-legged ‘waiter’ flew down to a set table. He blended into the table arrangements.
Amongst the cutlery and the wine glasses, his reflections multiplied and moved as he turned his head from side to side – eyeing the patrons. He waited patiently, not missing a single movement as The Kenmore restaurant slowly filled up. When the first three tables were taken, the one-legged ‘waiter’ flew closer to those tables and listened to conversations, at least that’s what I thought. He was striking a prefect balanced pose – on one leg.
The Restaurant Manager walked out to the alfresco and was annoyed. Quickly, the ‘waiter’ flew up to safety on a ledge, eight metres high. It was almost midday.
As the manager turned his back, the ‘waiter’ flew down and landed next to the first plate of entrée. The patron cursed and brushed the ‘waiter’ and he flew to the next empty table and waited.
The manager returned and shooed the ‘waiter’ and apologised to the patrons.
“It won’t go away, it lives here,” the manager said.
Two more tables got filled. The ‘waiter’ scooped down and brushed the new customers behind the manager’s back, in an almost friendly gesture. Then the ‘waiter’ patiently waited. Looking from side to side at each table the waiter inspected what was served.
Finally, a customer on the first table departed. The ‘waiter’ swooped in and went for the leftover chips. Who doesn’t like chips? As the ‘waiter’ made himself comfortable, the manager returned and cursing loudly – he chased the ‘waiter’ away.
Up into the ledge and another wait while the manager clears the table, not wanting to wait for his staff to take the plates. The minute the manager turned his back, the One Legged Waiter swooped down to the floor – where the last chip had dropped to the floor. Lunch was served.
The ‘waiter’ is a part of the family of local butcher birds in Western Suburbs, Queensland. Thank you Ratna for the lunch and the enjoyable conversation.
Those who love orchids know their exotic blooms and unusual colours. Some have certain places and conditions they like to grow in. But did you know of the weird sex life of orchids?
While I was away, one of my orchids bloomed for the first time. I had been wondering when she would flower. Perhaps her deception to attract pollination or her ‘voodoo’ did not work for the 12 months I grew her. This orchid (pictured above) is one of several I received from my sister-in-law Ufi Leahy’s garden in Kenmore, before she returned to PNG. I was ecstatic to find each clump – wherever I had planted them, bloomed.
The great majority of animal pollinated plants secure the services of their animal pollinators by providing food rewards such as nectar or pollen. However, orchids are exceptional in that perhaps as many as one-third of the 30,000 or so species achieve pollination by deception. That is, they lure animal pollinators to the flower by false promises of food, but do not provide any. They are all show – just for the sex and no rewards for their visitors. Most of orchid species are ‘food deceptive’ – falsely advertising the presence of food by bright colors and sweet scents.
Here is an interesting article from the Guardian.
We animals don’t give plants nearly enough credit. “A vegetable” is how we refer to a person who has been reduced to a condition of utter helplessness, having lost most of the essential tools for getting along in life. Yet plants get along in life just fine, thank you, and had done so for millions of years before we came along. True, they lack such abilities as locomotion, the command of tools and fire, the miracles of consciousness and language. But the next time you’re tempted to celebrate human consciousness as the pinnacle of evolution, stop for a moment to consider exactly where you got that idea. Human consciousness. Not exactly an objective source.
So let us celebrate some other pinnacles of evolution, the kind that would get a lot more press if natural history were written by plants rather than animals. I’m thinking specifically of one of the largest, most diverse families of flowering plants: the 25,000 species of orchids that, over the past 80 million years, have managed to colonise six continents and almost every conceivable terrestrial habitat, from remote Mediterranean mountaintops to living rooms the world over. The secret of their success? In a word, sex. But not exactly normal sex. Really weird sex, in fact. Click here to read more.
National Geographic: The genus name of the forest mantis orchid (Caladenia attingens) is derived from the Greek words calos (meaning beautiful) and aden (meaning glands), referring to the colourful labellum and the glistening glands that adorn the middle of flower. Their shape and colour mimicking female insects, attracting male insect pollinators. I like this wasp orchid because it also looks like the Bird of Paradise.
Mondays Finish the Story is a flash fiction challenge by Barbara W. Beacham. The story requires 100-150 words (excluding the first sentence which Barbara writes). She also provides the picture. The challenge runs from Monday to Sunday. Last week, I was away in PNG and missed this one but the picture inspired me so I went ahead and wrote my story. My son Nathan wanted to write a story for this challenge as well so I hope you like what we did.
“The cemetery spread along the area known as Devils Abode.”
On the edge, Maine, Tony and Boxer stopped. It rained. Cuffed in a hessian bag, Benny struggled. In turns, they kicked him into a bloody heap. The bag came off.
“Leave him,” Tony said. “The animals will get him”.
“Finish him off – Frank’s orders,” Maine growled and kicked Benny in the crotch.
Benny curled, feeling warm between his legs where his urine could not wait.
“Someone’s coming. Run!” – Boxer yelled and drove away.
A car stopped. Footsteps approached.
“I told those idiots to bury the fucker. He’s alive? Pick him up”. It was Frank.
Four hands shoved under Benny’s arms. They drove to the cemetery and stopped.
“Throw him in there,” Frank ordered. Benny hit the fresh grave landing – hard. He waited for the trigger. Instead, soft, dry soil slapped his wet face. Frank was burying him alive, just like he buried his wife, Benny’s lover of two years.
My son Nathan Harris was inspired to write his own 150 words that takes place after my story. This was Nathan’s own writing and I have not changed a word.
“The cemetery spread along the area known as Devils Abode.”
“Seemed a fitting place as any to leave that shit Benny” Frank smirked as he opened his door, escaping the storm. He had just enough time to notice a set of muddy footprints before the crack of a gunshot hushed the rain, and searing pain through his leg dropped him to one knee. As Frank cursed on the floor, the slender form of a dead man dissolved into view; his pinstripe suit was caked with mud.
“Benny?” Frank gurgled, “How the bloody hell did you – ”
“Rookie…” Benny coughed, lungs choking on earth, and emptied his last 5 shots into Frank’s gut.
Frank clutched himself, frozen in pain and fear. As the last moments of his life drained away, Benny strode to the door and glanced back.
“When you try bury someone, you bury them deep…” he began softly, “because a shallow grave won’t hold a vengeful man down.”
Although it was under a sad circumstance, it was good to return to Mt Hagen town, Papua New Guinea, after almost 17 years to attend George Leahy’s funeral. The town had a dry spell, but the air was crisp and everything looked green and luscious.
This is the view from a beautiful house on the Kuta Ridge that I visited the last week. The house was built by my late cousin, Maggie Wilson. In partnership with her family and her people, she ran a successful world re-known guest house called the Haus Poroman (house of friends) for several years before she passed away a few years ago. Her eldest daughter Bernadine Danomira took me to the ridge to visit Maggie’s place and see the view once more. It was still as beautiful as I remember it.
This evening, when I called a Brisbane snake catcher to save an Eastern Brown’s life, I did not expect him to be married to one of Australia’s top romance authors, Ally Blake.
My younger son Chris had told me on Saturday night he had seen a large snake by the house, but it had gone. I wanted to check the surroundings but it was too dark when I returned from my recent trip to Papua New Guinea. After work today, I checked around the house to make sure no slithering kinds were lurking in the dark corners outside the house. This is the season for hibernators to emerge. Sure enough, at the back of the house, in the shady leafy spot among layers of fallen leaves and a stone wall, the fish net moved from side to side when I approached.
I knew it was alive, and I could see the beautiful long golden tail tuck away instinctively. The head was locked into the nylon knots in an awkward angle. It was an Eastern Brown, about a metre and a half long. We had caught a large male two years ago in the same spot and freed him into the Brisbane City Council wildlife reserve. This one was surprisingly alive and strong after several days in the net. The Eastern Brown snake accounts for more fatalities than any other Australian Snake. It is the second most poisonous land snake in the world and the most poisonous in South east Queensland.
I quickly ran back into the house to phone for help. From 5:30pm today, I called six snake catchers, one after the other – they were all busy. Finally, the fifth snake catcher who was heading three hours out-of-town told me to call Mark, the Bellbowrie snake catcher.
Mark told me he was away, but he would get to Bellbowrie in half hour, and if I had not found anyone else, he would set the snake free or take it away for a small fee. Mark also said he lived in Bellbowrie. I told Mark, I just wanted to make sure, the snake did not die.
After 45 minutes, Mark arrived. Armed with my torch, camera and his hoop, net and snake-catching equipment, we ventured into the back of the house where the snake was. Mark is an environment scientist and like me, he was more concerned about saving the snake’s life. I was relieved when he told me that.
As Mark tried to undo the feisty Eastern Brown, we had a conversation about other things and I mentioned casually that I had to leave soon to attend a creative writing workshop.
“Really! My wife writes romance novels. She has written 32 books”. Mark beamed.
“Who is your wife?”
“Wow!” – that was all I could say. Mark’s wife, Ally Blake is one of Australia’s top romance authors with over 4 million copies sold world-wide. She has published through Harlequin Mills and Boon, Entangled Publishing and Tule Publishing.
When Mark could not untangle the snake, he suggested it was safer to take the reptile with part of the net to his house. There, he was better equipped to relax the reptile and properly treat its injuries and rest it before releasing the snake into the local reserve.
Mark said the snake was a female of a few years and that females tended to stay at a favourite spot and the males come to visit.
“If you see two snakes wrestling, those will be two males fighting for her,” Mark said.
That was not really the news I wanted to hear – but a lot of changes will be happening this weekend to the snake’s favourite hiding place.
I have to also check out some of those romance novels by Ally Blake.