Category Archives: Living

Saved by His Feathers – J.K. Leahy Short Story


Saved by His Feathers – J.K. Leahy short story

The proud one. JK.Leahy picture.©

His large pinkish feet were now pale scaly claws clasped in two tight fists at the end of the stiff body. All that was left of his proud behind was a featherless grey butt. It could have been a packed frozen turkey from Coles Supermarket, if we didn’t own a large rooster. Nothing was left of the tall proud white-streaked black feathers that lined and neatly covered his tail. The rooster loved to shake this tail and flap his wings before it tried to mount every hen we had in the pen.

Looking at what looked to be a corpse in front of me last Monday, I thought of the soft warm fuzzy black chick that had just hatched. My son Chris bought him and the hen at our local produce store near Brisbane five years ago. We thought we were raising layers until the black chick started acting weird, bullying the other chickens and making funny sounds that sounded like crows. It didn’t take him long to fine tune the crow and go for the hens.

Teaching the young a thing or two. JKLeahy picture.©

The late afternoon sun caught his morbid shape on the garden mound. I searched for movement. The dogs were barking madly. Stretched out, eyes shut and one battered wing hugging crudely to a large concrete brick as if hanging on to what was left of his life, my only thought was death. I turned him over. Lifeless.

I let out a cry and swung my piece of house timber at the two barking boxers as I tried to get them off the other chickens. The dogs, belonging to a neighbour, one black and the other white, had brought the rooster down so quickly and went for the others before I reached them from the house. There were wet feathers on the lilies, the wisteria and succulents, intertwined in the tall green grass, and the chicken coop wire. My obscenities, threats and timber swinging finally chased the dogs into the bushes behind the house and out towards the main road.

A feathery mess.

I picked up the rooster. He was cold and lifeless. Being the middle of winter, I tucked him quickly into my warm hoodie and cried while I called out for the hen who was still missing. The other two roosters seemed shaken but unscathed. Knowing that sometimes when dogs kill for fun, they could drag the carcase of their kill somewhere and leave them. I wasn’t sure of the hen’s fate, but at that moment, my son Chris arrived from work.

As I was calling for the hen, I could feel the rooster moving under my arm. I asked Chris to bring a towel to wrap the rooster and sent him after the dogs to find out whose dogs they were. I raced upstairs to clean the rooster’s wounds and stop the bleeding. I took the antiseptics and thoroughly brought out the bloody mess and noticed the bleeding punctures on the rooster’s back in three places.

Chris followed the dogs across our street and checked their tags and rang the neighbour to tell them about the incident. They lived directly opposite and across the road. Then, we drove to the Bellbowrie vet.

At the vet, the rooster’s breathing almost failed again. Chris reminded me to be prepared that he was old, and the vet may want to euthanize him to end his misery.

“I feel he will be okay”, I said to Chris.

Then the rooster made a lot of noise and trembled in my arms. There were three dogs barking from inside the vet kernel and two dogs waiting in the vet’s reception. I hid the rooster under my jumper again and kept in the corner, although I felt like leaving because I could sense, the dogs’ presence was too distressing for the old chicken. I wasn’t sure how to block his ears. Sensing the discomfort, the nurse called the vet and he ushered us inside and away from the dogs.

The vet pointed to the three deep punctures on the roosters back where most of the feathers were chewed off and blood was still coming out. I described the attack and the vet was shocked that the rooster was still fighting for its life then.

“Did he have large thick feathers?

“Yes, on his back, but not anymore”, I said.

“He is very lucky; his feathers saved him”, the vet said. The vet fully examined the rooster and gave him pain-killer and an antibiotic shot.

“He is very strong and he has a full gut. That is enough feed to keep him alive for a few days”, the vet said and smiled.

“How old is he – he is big?”

“Nearly five years old”.

“He is definitely a size 30” the vet said laughing.

A size 30 is a 3-kilogram bird, that I knew. I smiled.

“He is very healthy; I think your rooster is going to live – keep him warm and inside for a few days.”

I thanked the vet as he warned that the dogs could return, now that they have had a taste of blood.

“They think they’ve killed the rooster, but they know you have other chickens”, he said.

Where the bites were. I think the rooster would be upset if he knew I stole this shot of his tail.

The rooster slept in our house last night, woke this morning and had some porridge and gave me a dirty look so I gave him some chicken food – top layer mesh. He has been good all day and his wounds are scabbing nicely. He cannot use his feet yet, but he tried to stand a few times and crowed twice very loudly before he fell over. He wouldn’t let the younger rooster crow while he was recovering.

“Baby steps mister”, I said, but the rooster just gave me one of his ‘looks’.

In his sick bed and giving me one of his looks this morning.

Reality versus Fiction


Reality versus Fiction
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Watercolour image courtesy of haruki-murakami.com

You have not posted on this blog for ten days, (Oh my! Was it that long?) How time flies when you are pursuing reality; trying to get as much out of my mother for a memoir after 50 years or so of your life and finding that you still can’t get her to talk about EVERYTHING, applying for many jobs and getting no response and it is ok when it should not be (because you are worried about your mortgage and your bills and what your family is going to eat), trying to stay positive while the news about how your country (PNG) is going to waste away at the hands of politicians, university students being shot by police because they want to voice what is right, and another bright young student loses his life to Malaria when he could have been saved, receiving sad news that one of your heroes (Mohamed Ali) has died…and the list goes on.  

Many writers are faced with reality versus fiction every day. Sometimes it can be hard to separate the two, and it makes you think hard on what is real and what is not. I also found it interesting that my perception of some important things I remembered when I was a child was different from what my mother told me today. Sometimes, in our recent discussions, I even realised it was not even the reality versus fiction, but a different or two conflicting points of view – hers and mine. Perhaps I found myself thinking too hard about this topic in the past few weeks that I needed to write something about it. 

Anyway, I’m rambling, but glad to be writing here again and I have a piece here from my friend Teresa Buisman about 1Q84 written by Haruki Murakami which I think is relevant to what I am writing about. A few days ago, Teresa watched the documentary I posted on tribalmystic blog about Haruki Murakami and his work of fiction. 

I was surprised to learn that Teresa had read 1Q84, a trilogy I bought for my son Nathan two Christmas’s ago, but he never read the book so I read it myself. The only complaint I have about this book is that, it really strained my finger muscles while reading it in bed, (it is of 1300 pages and heavy) and if you are into this kind of story, be prepared to lock yourself in a room where no-one can disturb you for five days. If you ask me if I slept at all – I probably didn’t, but I can’t remember anything else except the story. This piece on reality was written two years ago as Teresa was reading the book.

On Reality by Teresa Buisman

I’m reading a book called 1Q84 by Japanese author Haruki Murakami – I love his writing; it gives me food for thought. One of the things that he’s making me think about this time is the perception of reality. The book is set in an alternative 1984 and whilst some things are the same as “normal” other things are completely different.

For instance, there are two moons in the sky – one is the regular moon as we know it, the other is a smaller green moon that sits beside it.  You would think that people would notice such a change in the night sky but it seems that the majority don’t.  They keep living their normal lives, going to work, doing the shopping, moving through their days as they always have.  Our heroes, however, are experiencing changes at the core of their reality. I don’t want to spoil the book for those of you who want to read it but it struck me that reality is perception just as much as perception is reality – does that make sense? What is real for some people is far-fetched and out of reach for others.

Look around you, there are examples everywhere. Take the lady on Hay Street this morning: a very chilly morning for Perth at around 2oC.  She’s there on the street with her little sign asking for your spare change. The sign tells you she’s homeless, suffering with MS and has no money. She’s got a blanket over her knees, she’s shivering and dishevelled. Her eyes are dim pools of hopelessness, she’s given up. This is her reality.  Does she ever see that there could be another reality for her?

As I pass I drop a few coins in her collection box, hoping that other people will also be kind and that she’ll find warmth and comfort to help her through the chilly days ahead.  I don’t know what to say to her, she’s from a different world to me as I head off to my corporate job in a swish glass and marble building with warm drinks on tap and wonderful views down to the Swan River.

Do I feel guilty about the relative affluence of my reality? Perhaps I think I have worked hard and deserve my good fortune? Or perhaps I feel bad for only giving her enough coins to buy herself a coffee instead of slipping her a quick $50 that I probably wouldn’t even miss? Or maybe I just take it for granted and don’t think about it at all?  But whichever way I look at it, the MS lady and I live in very different realities – in the same town – working in the same street.

Do we make our luck, our own reality, or is it fate – destiny? Those of us who are fortunate enough to live in the affluence of the western world have the opportunity to make our own reality.  But what about the MS lady? What’s her story? She’s from this same westernised affluent society isn’t she, so what makes her reality so different?

Reality is very subjective.

 

We Are Doing It For Allison This Friday – Rally in Brisbane to Challenge Court’s decision on Baden-Clay sentence


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Public Domain Image: Allison

We are doing it for Allison” is the video produced by family and friends of Allison Baden Clay to call on Queensland people to support a rally this Friday in Brisbane.

Already, the media is expecting thousands of people in Brisbane to join the  Allison Baden Clay rally to challenge last week’s court decision to down-grade the murder conviction of her husband, Gerard Baden Clay – to manslaughter.

All Brisbane residents who are against domestic and violence against women  – are asked to meet  at 12:15pm, King George Square on Friday, 18 December.

Some of my readers may remember the story of the mother-of-three I posted on this blog in August. Her body was found at Kholo Creek, Anstead on July 2012.  This creek is less than five minutes drive from our house.

At that time, her husband had already told police he did not know of her whereabouts. Baden-Clay, 45, reported his wife missing in April 2012 and her body was found 10 days later. During the trial last year, he denied killing his wife. There is a lot of media coverage of Allison’s death and you can read the ABC timeline on the events of her death. Gerard Baden Clay was found guilty on July 15, 2014 and convicted for murder. He was serving that sentence until his appeal and the court’s decision last week to give him a lesser penalty.

Allison comes from Brookfield, one of several local communities in  Western Suburbs and our family property was bought from Baden Clay’s real estate business over four years ago. Please share this post and if you can make it – see you at the rally.

Brisbane Times News

Surrounding Beauty – Poem


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Crescent Moon by Charles Hite – Free Stock Photography, Public Domain

Surrounding Beauty – JK. Leahy Poem

Life is surrounding beauty

Where crescent moon casts enough light

Your footsteps drum their own music

While walking gives life to your heart

Dead leaves dance in the breeze

Snail trail glistening in light’s reflections

Shadows creating their own art

An owl hoots and swoops low; you hear

A bat screeches that night is near

Before darkness swallows and hides you

Until new day seeks and finds you

 

 

Story-telling At Its Best


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With my mother Freda on my right and my Aunt Ruth Tobias and my close friend Abuc Nagong in front. Bowali, Oct 2015.

My sons and I enjoyed our trip back to Lae, PNG – where we come from. I had not gone back to my village for seven and my sons for eight years. It was a long time. My reasons are too complicated to explain, but I could not wait any longer to return. The best part about our return was the story-telling and catching up. This was how we did it – sitting in a circle and chewing betel nut while we tell the stories. We tried to do this at least a few hours each day.

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My mother and all my aunts chewing betel nut and story-telling on our lawn.

Mt Hagen Town View – Revisit


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Mt Hagen town view from Mt Kuta – Papua New Guinea. Picture: JK.Leahy

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.

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Picture JK.Leahy ©

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.

 

 

 

 

 

A Small Win on Tribalmystic Blog


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I share a picture of my blue iris to say thank you to all my readers. JKLeahy pic. 2015

Thank you to all my readers

I like small wins. Here, my blue iris bloomed for the first time in almost a year. Perhaps it was because I moved her from the edge of a small pond to the shade of a gum tree – I’m not sure what happened to her, but she came back. That makes me happy.

The other win was that this blog hit the highest number of visits per month ever. I had over 3000 visitors in July and the top performers were;

  1. United States of America.

  2. Australia

  3. Papua New Guinea

  4. United Kingdom

I appreciate ALL readers and visitors and look forward to your continued support.  Thank you!

TM

 

A Camera Opens New Doors – Tribalmystic Blog


A camera means more new pictures will be seen on Tribalmystic stories. It also means I can share my garden with you, virtually.

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Samanea Saman bloom. It is also called False Powder Pluff.

I got myself a ‘real’ camera today. A Nikon D5200. It may not be a Pro level camera and not what I was aiming for, but I have not had an SLR for nearly twenty years so I am thrilled. My son Nathan loaned me some money for it. When my younger son Chris and I arrived home, guess who already had the package opened and was handling it – Chris!

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Mum was cooking and giving stern instructions from the kitchen for Chris to wash his hands first and not leave any greasy prints on the lens or any part of the camera. Poor Chris…I’m sure he was just laughing inside his head. Who tells a 16-year-old what to do these days? Know the feeling when your kids play with your stuff?

Then, the little bugger went off and charged the battery and started taking pictures. Oh well…I guess he was just as excited as I was, even when he pretended he wasn’t.

Watermarked Photos-2

There was some light left and I went for a quick walk in the garden to try the camera with some very curious bystanders. I shall show the ‘bystanders’ on Tribalmystic stories later. These are pictures of Salmanea Saman, often referred to as the false powder fluff – not the stuff you wear on your make-up though.

I have to get my photography grove back. Let me know what you think of my first pictures. Thank you.