A Blue-Tongue Lizard and Then…Short Story
It was a very pleasant Thursday, ending with an evening conversation with both my sons who are away. I sent a picture of the blue-tongue lizard to Nathan and Chris about 8:30pm. The reptile was staring at me this morning about 9am when I went to let the hen out in Bellbowrie, Queensland. Its brown carpet patterned scales and raised head had stopped me in my tracks. I thought it was a carpet snake at first.
I had seen a carpet snake, this size and only a teenager, in November near the hen pen. The lizard’s arms and legs quickly gave it away.
My older son Nathan texted me back to say it was cool to have a blue-tongue lizard in our yard. It was common for the family to share our discoveries of creatures that lived on our property and the local bushland. There are many beautiful small creatures such as this lizard and water dragons, possums, koalas and other animals and birds of many kinds in Queensland.
I didn’t hear back from Chris, (my younger son), about the blue-tongue lizard. I thought maybe he had gone to bed, because he had started work at 5am.
Nathan texted me again to say an owl threw itself into his car as he drove home tonight. I thought it was strange and I gave Nathan my various symbolic meanings of why an owl would cross his path. It was mostly to do with deception and revealing truth, but when I thought about other meanings, death was one of them. I didn’t want to tell my son that. We talked a little more before he stopped texting back.
At that moment when the owl discussion came to an end, I heard cars speeding, tyre squeals and a loud bang! It was coming from the junction, 100 metres from our house. Suddenly it was eerie and the night was very quiet.
Nathan didn’t text again. I checked my phone twice.
“I think there is an accident”, I texted him again probing for a response.
From the direction of the accident, I could hear a high pitch horn of one car continuing, even after the crash quietened down. I was in our lounge where the sounds coming from the junction were the loudest. When the crash happened, I had been in my office. I moved here because it made me feel better somehow.
There have been many crashes on this junction – Moggill, Lather and Sugars roads in Bellbowrie. A few years ago a 65-year-old motor-bike rider was crushed by an unknown vehicle. Later, the man died in hospital. It took police a while to find the other driver.
I had this urge tonight to run 100 metres up the road to the crash, but part of me felt weird and uncomfortable. There were sounds outside my house; voices, branches breaking as if someone or people came into the property through the bush, and then more voices came from the roadside. I could hear other cars drive and stop at the scene. Two minutes later, I heard an ambulance. I felt relief. Some of the birds near our house made noises – echoing the high sirens. The accident must have woken the birds.
Then, a police siren started in the distance and then got really loud before it stopped at the junction. There were more voices, but no-one screamed or shouted. I heard louder vehicles come and then whinges, metal on gravel and then car doors shutting. I could not see the road; the huge gum trees blocked the accident scene. The sounds were very clear.
I kept thinking I should go and see it, but something stopped me. It was a fair walk in pitch black.
I texted my sons again about the accident. My older son did not respond. I thought he went to sleep. I called his brother Chris.
“What do you want me to do?” Chris asked me when I told him about the accident.
“Nothing – I’m just afraid, so I texted you,” I responded.
“I’m going to sleep”, he said. Chris was travelling for work in the Sunshine Coast.
“Goodnight son, I love you,” I said and hung up.
By the sound of the siren, a second ambulance arrived. It could have been the same one leaving. I wasn’t sure.
More voices came through the trees. I WhatsApp my cousin in Papua New Guinea – and he agreed, I should stay home. If help was already there, no need to go and I can find out more tomorrow. He is a cop.
My aunt called on WhatsApp and I told her there was an accident and that I felt scared. Over the phone, she said she was scared too.
“I think someone is hurt, the horn didn’t stop honking for a long time,” I said.
“Don’t go there”, my aunt said.
She diverted the conversation and soon, behind the night bird calls, the normal traffic sound returned. I shut all the doors and windows.
Two hours later, my son Nathan responded: “Oh shit! I hope everyone is okay… can you see any cars? ..if you can, do you recognise them?”
“No Nat. I was scared to go and see. The ambulance and police came straight away which was good – but the accident sounded bad.”
I said goodnight to my son and told him I loved him.
“I love you too mum”.
I hope no-one was badly hurt or killed. I will know soon.
Friday – 19/1/2018 – Update
To those that read this story – as it turned out, a friend drove by the accident last night between two cars. He said no one was seriously hurt, even though there was a lot of damage to the vehicles. I saw the remnants of the accident this morning, but I’m glad to hear that it wasn’t as serious as I thought.
I am away from the blog again, but I want to wish all my followers, readers, family and friends a very Merry Christmas (and if you don’t celebrate Christmas) happy end of 2017. I wish you all a wonderful, spiritual and joyful 2018. Here is one of my favourite musicians, Sona Jobartha with a joyful tune. See you all in 2018. Joycelin
I love this story. And it is lovely to be read to. I know many of you know “The Giving Tree”. I feel it is a nice transitional story to move from a very vigorous year into December. We are in 2017’s final month, and Christmas – when there is so much expectation to receive. Good to be back on the blog.
Dear blogging family,
I have been writing less and creating art more this year. I’d like to share with you some of my projects I have been working on, apart from my recent art exhibition at the Redland Performing Art Centre (September).
With the art I have been producing, I have launched a new fashion and accessories label called Kalem Warrior Woman. Kalem is my christian name, sometimes used as my middle name. The “warrior woman” part is another story, please read on.
Why fashion label you may ask? Well, back in PNG I had a clothing business called Kalem Kollection for over 20 years before we moved to Australia. I wanted to create something Papua New Guinean and also carry on my passion to promote and protect our cultural designs and cultural heritage. The creative turned into business and before I knew it, I was making corporate wear. When we left PNG, I was unable to pursue this work due to high costs of travel. Now we are, almost 15 years later.
My beautiful niece Marcelle Bucher has graciously modelled in this photoshoot with her aunty. I’m really grateful to her. She has made it so easy for me, and helped show Kalem very well. This is a selection of clothes and accessories that will go into the Pacific Fashion Festival tomorrow in Cloudlands, Brisbane from 1-4pm. Here is a brief history of my brand name Kalem and why our tag line is the Warrior Woman. This blurb was published by the Pacific Fashion Festival.
Pacific Fashion Festival is excited to announce the fierce label ‘Kalem – Warrior Woman’ by Joycelin Kauc Leahy from Papua New Guinea. The label has a deep sense of history and meaning that cannot be overlooked. In the early 1900’s Joycelin’s great-grandmother and her sister fought in court for their land after their father was chased out across the Huon from Salamaua during a tribal fight. In a man’s world, the daughters of their father were regarded as foreigners in their own land because their father was gone. The two sisters battled in court against local landowners, the missionary and colonial government and won! They won not only for themselves but for their people who were eventually settled on a patch called Ambesi.
Eventually, Joycelin’s mother inherited this battle by birth and had to also endure similar battles for her land rights as a woman over the land of which she overcame with victory. It was through her mothers and great grandmothers battles that Joycelin was given the opportunity of a good life, education and a loving upbringing because they were women that fostered her art and talent. She now dedicates her label to her fierce bloodline of women as “warrior women” in the literal sense. All artwork on Kalem textiles is influenced by cultural motifs from Papua New Guinea, created from what Joycelin paints and sometimes partnership work created with PNG artist and former Kalem designer, (Keia Daure). Joycelin is known for her use of watercolour and natural pigments she creates from plants. Joycelin believes in the deeper essence of preserving her culture, stories and history of her people with her art, fashion and designs.
If you wish to purchase any of our dresses, you can do so on Paypal by contacting me: email@example.com
I can email you a catalogue.
Our website: http://www.joycelinleahy.com will be launched before December with all the art, clothing and accessories.
VOID: JK.Leahy Poetry
A rippling void is dancing across endless waters,
yet returning in the dark night to stab at the heart
The cold wind sings this blackness like its favourite song,
The waves join the wind to mock, jeer and keep rolling by
Birds call, keep strong! fight!
A yearn deeper than the flows of strong murky rivers pushes forward
Thoughts tug at the heartstrings, jarring it with questions and rationales
A child could only wait; for a father could speak at any time
Obsession JK. Leahy memoir
The kitchen in Bellbowrie house was marvelous. It’s Wednesday today, but the kitchen also looked marvelous on Tuesday and Monday. I simply wanted to make chicken soup tonight, but I was afraid to dismantle this piece staring at me.
I looked at the stacked white cups, plates, and silver bowls that made this strange beautiful body and then the cutlery that made its arms and legs. Each item was part of another. It was a tidy dishwasher look without all the sections, except it was arranged to come together as one piece. If I had built a kitchen sculpture like that myself, it probably would have already unraveled when I got to stacking the spoons and the forks. And right now, if I tried to remove one cup or spoon to use, the rest would come crashing down like a dismantled sculpture. My son Nathan washed our dishes sometimes, but this was not his work of art – it was clearly my mother’s. My mother is obsessed about cleanliness and obviously tidiness. She has her own unique way of doing it.
Our kitchen has been so clean and different in the past six weeks since my mother has been with us in Brisbane that I’m inspired. I made a promise to myself; I could live up to this new expectation after she leaves. May be I could cut down on writing, art, a job, the garden, birds…It was not that we lived in a dirty house, but when my mother does something, especially cleaning, she takes it to a higher level, and makes you feel really good about it.
I could not have made this kitchen any cleaner in the past five years. Mother was not only obsessed with cleanliness, but getting any job done. Her gardening was the same and she began early and worked long hours. She was determined to clean the whole area and I reminded her some parts of our place was meant to be bushy for the animals. My siblings had asked me to bring our mother away from PNG to rest – but you think she would listen to me – no. She loves working hard. She attributes her strict work ethics to her parents, nursing, and her early learning from the Germans and Americans after the war.
I was grateful for her help now, but I fear when her holiday ends, this kitchen would return to the way my sons always left it; filthy with empty containers, piled up dirty dishes, peeled purple onion shells and spilled beverages. I clean it but it was never easy to maintain that pristine state for more than two days.
I took out the thigh fillets and started making chicken soup for my mother, my younger son Chris and I. Nathan had cooked his own meals for nearly a year and since he started a special fitness programme.
Across from the kitchen, my mother was folding the clean washing. Her knitting was on the dining table, colourful and laid out in neat bundles of colours. Mother folded all our clean washing like the way a machine would have done. We did sit and tell stories while we folded, but I soon gave up folding with her because she tended to unfold and re-fold the clothes I folded. And, if I told her she wasted her time because the clothes were meant to be worn again, she just giggled and said she preferred they were ‘properly folded’.
As I watched the boiling pot of chicken soup, I pictured Mother laying out all her medical tools on the shiny trays and pushing them from ward to ward on her tall shiny trolley. She is staring ahead with her white cap and apron crisply ironed and sitting in the precise position on her green uniform. She walks with her head held high and exuding a presence of authority when all around her is turmoil. I wondered if anyone had ever messed up her display of shiny metal pieces on the trays when she was a nurse. I once asked and she told me – never!
I think Mother’s cleaning and folding obsessions started from the hospitals and later, H.C. Leo a Chinese clothing manufacturer in Port Moresby hired her to fold completed garments. She was so precise with her craft that customers thought the cellophane packed and sealed shirts were done by machines.
My mother’s dedication to what she loves doing is second to none.
(To my regular readers – I wrote this draft/story yesterday, a part of a longer piece for Isabel D’ Avila Winter and our last Creative Writing Workshop group next Tuesday in Kenmore). If you expected drama while reading this – well there is, but it is in the rest of this story in the memoir – thank you for reading).
Let’s stop violence against women and girls world-wide.
Every small step counts.
On my return home to Papua New Guinea on September 16th, it was the Independence Day. My son Chris and I were very lucky to see PNG people celebrating in their traditional costumes.
On arrival at the Jacksons International Airport, Port Moresby, our first meeting was with this stunning beauty. I wish I had taken more, but I only had time to take four photographs of this beautiful woman and rush to domestic terminal to transit to Lae. I will get her name later, that’s how PNG networking is, but she was dressed in Simbu traditional dress. I believe she was part of the Air Niugini staff and assisted the international departure passengers.
If you have any questions about her dress, ask me, but this post is purely to show the beauty of the image. When I come across moments like this, I am very proud to be a Papua New Guinean. My reasons being, we are unique people, we love our culture and we are always proud to show it.