Oswald died. It was four hours after Oswald’s sibling died. My son pronounced him dead about 6:30pm, but with disbelief I had to turn the duckling several times to make sure he was not just asleep. I had nursed him on my chest and we slept for two hours earlier. He seemed fine, eating a little and drinking water. He stood up and walked. But, he could not settle into the nest where the other duckling had died hours earlier. I change the bedding and kept his little fluffy body with me.
He had been named Oswald by Nathan (my older son). Nathan decided that the five-day-old duckling who lost 11 siblings and parents the night before should be called Oswald. The name carried strength and depicted something or someone showing tenacity for life. I agreed immediately to Oswald.
“The duckling is very brave and strong”, Nathan said.
Oswald was one of our duck Penelope’s first babies. She had 12. We decided to leave the ducks alone when she introduced the babies to our family last week. ‘Let them grow up wild’ was what we all agreed on because Penelope was house-bred. She taught them to eat, swim and play each day last week. The pond was busy.
Earlier Sunday, and not used to quietness from the water, I went out to investigate. I found the once happy flock dispersed in a mud of desecrated fine feathers, duck poop and small white floating dead bodies. My heart was in my mouth as I walked about, trying to find them all. Penelope and her Stalker husband had gone. One mutilated corpse was on the child’s table we left for the ducklings to dry out from the pool. It became clear that something bad happened on Saturday night. At that time, five ducklings went missing and since the parents had fled from whatever it was, the remaining ducklings died from the cold. While searching I heard some soft cries and found Oswald and his brother pinned into the side of the pool, both shivering in the water they used to swim in. I called Nathan for help and we took the ducklings to the house and made a soft box and tried to feed them. Only Oswald ate. Then the two snuggled up and slept. The smaller of the two ducks was very weak. In less than two hours it died.
After the other duckling died, Oswald jumped out of the box and refused to sleep. We took turns nursing him until I fell asleep with the duckling on the couch. It was dark when I fed him again and placed him in a warm bed. He fell asleep straight away. At 6:30pm, Chris checked the box and told me the duckling died. Given the way the duckling had shown courage and bravery, it was not easy to accept that Oswald’s life would have ended the same way as his eleven siblings.
On Water’s Edge – Poem JK.Leahy©
We sat on water’s edge in silence
Crystal stream trickled and meandered, thirsting for sea salt in the wide ocean while we sat numbed and immersed in our own murky feelings
Unspoken was the truth tangled in our thoughts, so it captured pure silence, a tension like knotted threads
We were almost our real selves; caught in a delicate pause like dandelion in a still breeze, but who would own up?
Mine was she – brave, open and shy and his was him – awkward, tough, and yet vulnerable. Unwinding threads, already knotted
The timing was perfect, but words failed to arrive on time. Perhaps lost in the forest or evaporated into thin air, spoken words had left us
And once more the breeze passed, springing every dried leaf into living cartwheels, as if warning us to open up
With the debris our true feelings escaped, gone! The truth remained in its secret place, untouched, and settling to collect dust once more
Futile words jumped out of our mouths like aliens in rehearsed scenarios and ritual conversations
Soon, we were no longer afraid; once we leave this water’s edge, we will be other people again
About a month ago, I had the privilege of joining Solid Screen Festival at the invitation of arts curator and media artist Jenny Fraser. I have featured Jenny on this blog a while ago and since then she has been spending her time promoting films made by indigenous women across the world through Solid Screen Festival; running for the third time this year. In September Gold Coast and Numinbah Valley (QLD) retreat where the 2016 films were screened, women directors including Jules Koostachin (PLACEnta) from Canada showed their films and shared their stories.
Placenta is a short documentary about Koostachin’s life in contemporary Canada where a woman gives birth away from her people and customs. Much is lost in terms of her tribal rituals, with journeys her own mother and grandmother took, but the woman feels that it is really important to follow the traditional rituals embedded in her. However, in contemporary Canada, she finds that what she wishes for the most is not as easy as she thought.
Placenta is one of many stories told by indigenous filmmakers about connecting to their indigenous roots and intangible cultures. Having an opportunity like Solid Screening helps bring these stories out. Recently, the work of Solid Screening was acknowledged by Barbara Ann O’Leary, Directed by Women. In an interview with Jenny Fraser, O’ Leary explores the work Fraser does in promoting and helping indigenous women filmmakers.
“We aim to deliver Indigenous specific screen components to allow opportunities for Indigenous screen artists and artsworkers to develop professionally, develop greater understanding of new media and inter-disciplinary practices, and gain critical feedback on personal projects”.
Read more on the interview here. Directed By Women
Wisteria: A Flower of Meaning and Beauty
Above is my first bloom from one of five wisteria flowers I have in my garden. I did not plant these vines from the pea family, a soil improving legume, but discovered them three springs ago. The plants must have preserved their roots despite harsh weather and no care – before we took on this property five years ago. Wisterias are delicate and beautiful tropical flowers. They are grown in USA and Asia, particularly China and Japan, and Australia. The wisteria flowers come in different colours and hang down like grapevines. The flowers have meanings associated with good luck and new beginnings; and often grown in pathways and entrances to bring these meanings to (hopefully) fruition.
I was going to list the meanings, but I found good information with some meanings on this beautiful blog: Flower Meaning.
These green seeds above are not from wisteria flowers, but wild tobacco tree. This wisteria finds support by climbing on the wild tobacco. The flowers of the wild tobacco surprisingly almost copy the same colours of the wisteria.
So, since this spring is bringing me full blooms of wisteria, I would like to share with all my readers the amount of good luck and happiness that I have in my garden. Thank you!
Brisbane Open House is a free public festival that celebrates Brisbane’s architecture and offers behind-the-scenes access to 100 buildings across the city. The Brisbane Open House began on Saturday and ended today (September 8 and 9).
Unknowing that preparations were happening all around me last Thursday, I had ventured into the city to check our visas at the Australian Immigration Office. I almost tripped over an orange traffic cone and realised it wasn’t the usual construction barricade on the footpath, but someone was actually sitting and painting.
I sat with her briefly and watched her paint before Debra Hood became aware of my presence. Debra, a talented Brisbane artist is one of many people who took part in the Open House programme. Her role was to paint these colourful Queenslanders on this power box (pictured above), a task she had accomplished many times under the Traffic Signal Boxes for Urban Smart Projects and Brisbane City. The project helps the council to protect the power boxes from graffiti.
Debra specialised in these very colourful traditional Queensland homes and enjoys it a lot. She seemed quite comfortable sitting and painting on side of the bustling Adelaide Street. If you like her work, please visit her website: debrahoodart to see more of her beautiful Queenslander art.
Far from what I remember as a child, when I was growing up and singing in church, these magnificent structures are some of the most modern churches we have today. Nothing like the old buildings and sago roof churches I’m used to. I do love the old churches, but more and more, modern churches, chapels, mosques, cathedrals, and temples are popping up to keep up with this modern times.
I guess we could say, it can be cool to have devotion in style or devotion can be made cool as I add these churches to my Cool Stuff list. In our own beliefs, worship and devotion goes further and beyond fancy architectural structures, but each of these churches are a very beautiful work of art. Personally, I think it would be wonderful to have a peaceful moment in one of them. What do you think?
Visit more churches and details at Design Milk.
The Furry Squatter Settlers – Short Story
Our house roof broke under heavy rain and the wild Queensland storms sometime last year. Separating the entrance hall with front door, the storm created an unexpected alfresco space. I rejoiced in the fact that, the roof was now broken, so it removed the fear and threat of when it would actually fall. It happened when my sons were away. I heard a crack and ran out and held up the beam as long as I could, and finally, when it settled, I inserted two timber pieces to keep the roof steady until my sons returned from their holidays. It took three men to bring it down and let it break apart.
We cleared the entrance, and waited to repair. And, before we started repairing the broken roof, some furry squatters moved in. They used the leaning trees against the house to make their entry. It was quite a natural invasion of these parts of Queensland. One small possum settled into the car port ceiling; separated now by the broken roof. Another took the main house.
Above the kitchen, noises started. Sometimes light bulbs would flicker and weaken from bright to pale orange – just like a ghost movie, bringing family dinner to a pause – perhaps someone from outer space or inner ceiling is speaking to us, we joke.
In the evening, long hours into the night, our family would hear knocking, walking and thundering repetitive noises in the ceiling. My guess initially was, the possums were cracking the macadamia nuts they picked from our tree. With my Callaway Steelhead Systems III driver I had not used on a golf fairway in a long while, I would thump the ceiling in response to the settlers’ sounds. The sounds would immediately pause or move, given it is a large house with an extensive ‘living area’ for the possums. Sometimes there would be fights, a lot of screeching and grunting. It often reminded me of the fights in the streets of Port Moresby or neighbours in a drunk brawl. If the furry fighters didn’t listen and stop to the golf club’s thudding, I cursed them and told them they were staying rent-free, with free meals and should keep the noise down. And if they did not appreciate their high-class living, I would need to call the possum remover to evict them.
Eventually, they would stop pounding and exit. It was through one of the broken parts of the roof that the possums used where we suspected the snake entered and took Boz’s life.
One day, about three weeks ago, a squatter settler came out of one of the broken part of the roof. It was in the middle of the day and the animal urinated and excreted above the back door entrance, sending a collection of light brown pellets sprinkling down the door frame. It was the first time we saw her with a baby in her pouch. It was not the time to wander about or visit. Possums only came out in the dark. She was fed some carrots and green apples. Obviously, she did not have too many ‘hospital visits’ or someone to care for her and bring her macadamia nuts while she was caring for her baby.
The possum could not care less what time of the day, nor where she left her waste. She was starving.
It has been a few weeks of spring and summer will make the roof too hot to live under. Iron roof bakes like an oven when you are one foot under it. It would be a good time to close the hole, repair the house, evacuate the squatter settlers and get rid of the noises. (I am hoping…)