My friends Susan Cochrane and Michel Bonnefis are currently homeless, but not for long. They were here in Brisbane (Queensland, Australia) for a month house-sitting and visiting for Christmas. They are currently staying at a friend’s house while their new home is being built in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, by designer and award winner Mark (the Hatter) O’Carrigan. Once a hat designer, O’Carrigan currently designs these cool houses he calls Hatters Huts.
The Hatters Huts homes, feature strong Gothic arches re-created from the basic idea of the Nissen huts. During the First World War Engineer and inventor Major Peter Norman Nissen designed these prefabricated steel structure for military use. They were made from a half-cylindrical skin of corrugated steel. The structures were extensively used during the Second World War. Here is one story about Nissen huts from the war.
Australian O’Carrigan’s inspiration behind one of architecture’s greatest developments is the gothic arch, as seen in many famous cathedrals. The arches give these homes more space than what a typical Nissen house does. A Blue Mountain resident himself, O’Carrigan also believes that houses anywhere should be built to suit their local environment.
Mark’s philosophy towards his unique buildings stems from his years of designing and making hats… ” A good home is like a good hat…it must be comfortable and stylish, sit lightly, protect you in all-weather, suit you and be affordable”, he said.
After earning a living as a leather craftsman for 25 years (specialising in hand crafted hats) and winning design awards for those creations, he has developed a unique ecological tourism business centred on a massive sandstone cave at Hatters Hideout.
You can sleep in this cave a hand-built lodge and environmental retreat which is set 3.2ha of Blue Mountain’s land. It sleeps 12 people. Guests can choose between sleeping in the cave or in a lodge. There is a campfire, gas barbecue and camping gear. From: $245 per night. The Hatters Huts are also O’Carrigan’s business.
With a high demand in Australia, more architects and designers are creating strong and sturdy energy conserving homes that can also insulate for the country’s wild bushfires.
When the construction of their home is completed, Michel, a French national, a joiner and craftsman and Susan, an Australian author and arts curator will design and complete the inside of their ‘hut’.
Susan and Michel’s house is expected to be completed in a couple of months. I will bring you more pictures.
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.
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.
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.
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 April 1990, several months after I was crowned Miss PNG (1989), the PNG Red Cross sent me on a national tour across Papua New Guinea. The tour was to promote the work of Red Cross in charity, disaster relief, blood transfusion services and youth growth and development programmes. This trip enabled me to learn new things, see new places and make many friends. It was a discovery of the magnitude of the work of Red Cross had done in the country and how many people dependent on these services. I was happy to be part of it all and be an ambassador for Red Cross. Unfortunately this privilege no longer exists in the quest due to lack of funding and the changes to the beauty pageant.
During my Red Cross travels, I also saw some of the most beautiful parts of PNG. Pictured is a small coastal village we passed during my tour of Kavieng, New Ireland Province. I took this picture of the house on the waterfront. A few days ago, I was delightfully surprised to find the picture (above) while going through some photos from 27 and 28 years ago. It brought back many memories of the wonderful time I had experienced.
Immediately, I had to paint this little house. The colours I chose reflect the glorious feeling I had during that time, while experiencing love and friendships; the tranquillity and wonders of my beloved PNG. I was very lucky to see a lot of the country during my reign.
I hope you like the images. Feel free to comment and share the tranquillity and beauty of this beautiful PNG Province.
The Tasmanian Oak, is a robust, proud and resilient tree.
Years of wisdom engrained; it stood tall amongst trees of heights and sizes. Fibres of complexity, the oak tree held gave it presence.
Guarding at a gateway, the oak remained alert at all times.
When it stormed, travellers sought refuge under its wide, branched embrace where other travellers often stop. But they all braved the gateway – seeking better life. Many stories were told and left behind, under the oak.
While the tree was secretive, and always remained in silence, the Tasmanian Oak absorbed and collected these stories, one at a time for many years and became a tree of knowledge. The stories were; wisdom of great learned, adventures and lives torn, and tried and forgotten escapades. Some of these stories were of sad and glum kismet. Then one day, it stormed far away. The rains brought an unusual traveller, an exotic wild orchid. Delicate in nature, soft in physique and with light form, the orchid floated by the gateway in the rough tide. Brief glimpses and words were exchanged between the Tasmanian Oak and the orchid.
After the orchid’s journey far beyond the seas, tides changed and
once more, the gateway passage became a meeting place for the tree and the orchid. This time, the orchid floated too close and was caught by the root of the oak tree.
Days went by and the orchid clung on for safety, and unable to free itself, it grew roots. The oak remained tall, aloof and on watch and unaware of the life growing at its ‘feet’.
The orchid grew beyond the gateway canopy and above the shadows. It loved its new place and wanted to say thank you to the oak tree. Where the sun rays played and the birds greeted each other warmly the orchid grew into the Oak’s hollow. This place was warm and dry. As days turned to weeks, the orchid felt warm and safe and finally where the oak tree felt the softest, the orchid budded and flowered. In gratitude, the orchid continued to offer the the tree with its beautiful offerings of bloom, one season after another.
At first the Tasmanian Oak was intrigued and enthralled by the beauty of the orchid’s flowers. It felt proud that it could provide a safe haven for the orchid. More days slipped into weeks and months.
The Tasmanian Oak once more became fully engaged with the travellers and their stories. With all effort, the orchid rooted in the tough stringy bark and climbed higher and held on with all its might. It tried to grow new shoots after the flowering but the bark became harder to get close and grow into. The oak tree could not see the orchid anymore as its branches also grew and eventually covered the sunlight and stopped rain water from falling through.
One day, the winds blew and became very strong. It grew into a big storm. It shook both the orchid and the tree. With its delicate nature and roots not planted well enough into the Oak’s bark, it was too hard for the orchid to hang on. The orchid tried to grab onto the bark, branches and even the roots of the Oak tree, when it fell, but the winds were too strong. Once the winds ripped and threw the orchid back into the rough tides, torrents quickly tumbled and washed the orchid away from the tree. And once more, the orchid was swept out into the open seas leaving the Tasmanian Oak, at the gateway.
Here is one of my earlier short stories that I published on this blog in 2014. I have not been writing much, but painting and drawing. I have to finish some old projects. I hope you enjoy “Where My Eyes Are From”.
I turned to face the door and sat down in the centre edge. It was the softest part of mama’s large queen-size bed. I ran my large grey eyes over the bed. They never miss a thing. Papa had built this bed. The bed was rustic but sturdy. Because of the many years in the timbers, the bed talks like an old man when you are on it. Right now, the bed is not talking because I am not moving. The white cotton sheets were crumpled and warm. I wanted to climb into the sheets, make the bed talk, like mama and I used to when we would read together and play, but I could not.
We had buried mama at 3pm. The day had been long and tiring.
The few friends and family returned to our small two bedroom cottage on the edge of town in the hills of Mt Crosby, Queensland. The offering of sweet tea and cake to the mourners wrapped the day. However, the sweet tea did not sit well nor change the taste in my mouth. Soon, they left papa and me. We sat together on the old small veranda and did not speak. The old swing did the talking to the slight breeze. At 15, I knew half of papa was buried with mama this afternoon. I could not think of anything to say to papa.
The day hurried past. Soon, it burnt orangey into dusk. The ambers from the remains of the daylight pierced through the small white cottage.
“You can go to her room” Papa had said close to 5pm.
I saw the small clock on mama’s bedside as I sat down. Mama’s room smelt like vanilla with faint coffee. I had tried to shut out the noises with the door, but I could hear the puppies. All five of them ready for their milk. They needed their mother. A sharp pain went through me.
My hand felt under the pillow slip and I found it. The small white envelope mama promised before she took her last breath. I gazed back at the door. I waited. My heart started to race.
Through the gaps in the window I caught the late breeze approaching carrying bush smells of gum and acacia. I could hear my father humming “Gershwin’s Summer Time” and rocking in the old chair. The chair squeak was rhythmic and soothing. It re-assured me of his location. I did not want him to come in.
The house seemed to mimic Papa’s humming and suddenly I felt the sadness heavy in my chest. Papa was a real sweet man. Not only did he lose his woman, but his best friend.
I sat still and held mama’s envelope; firmed by the content of its small card. In this envelope was something mama wanted only me to know. My stomach did not feel right and I knew it was something I do not wish to know.
The room held on to the last of day light. In this dim light I read my name written neatly across with dainty curls. Mama always made a point of making big long tails in letters ‘y’ and “g”. My name was Margaret Meadows. Mama shortened it to “Maggy” with a “y” instead of an “ie” like in other Margies which was short for Margaret.
I brought the card closer to my nose. It smelt of vanilla too. This made me smile and my eyes salted. I felt that weight in my chest move up to choke me. I looked at mama’s photo of us in a white frame by the bed. Tears rolled down my eyes. Slowly, I pinched the corner of the white envelope and slit the end through with my index finger. This forced the white envelope open to reveal a small red card.
I eased back on the bed. The old man-bed groaned softly. I felt I needed some support and security before I opened the red card. I let my shoes drop on the wooden floor. I stared at the door; hoping papa would not come in. I need to be alone when I read this. That was what mama wanted.
“My Love Maggy,
You were born a beautiful baby of glorious soft honey skin, pink lips, fair hair and long arms and legs. You were a fairy with piercing eyes. I swear if you had wings, you would have flown away. Your eyes always had a mysterious twinkle. When you were little, I often wondered if you were worried or just curious about your eyes because you asked me many times why your eyes were different from your father’s and mine. As you know, we both have brown eyes.
I need you to understand that Paul Meadows loves you like his own daughter. There is not a single person that loves you more and not a single reason to be ashamed of who you are.
Your grey eyes came from a man named Peter Sullivan who was once your father Paul’s best friend. Last year, I found out that he died in a car accident while driving back to Brisbane from New South Wales.
The other day I found this tiny ‘gangster’ running around in my garden. It was all over every plant as I chased and tried to shoot it with my macro lens, but ‘he’ was too fast.
His colours reflected the light and I fell in-love with him. Twice, when I got closer, he jumped onto the lens. I tried to not squash him by accident. I spotted something on his back when he jumped off the lens. It was a pattern that looked very close to a skull. Look at the picture below, can you spot it too?
I thought “gangster” was a good name for him. He quickly spun a web in the cherry tree and made it, his home while he waited for his next prey.
The next day, I checked, and the gangster was gone. I just hope the gangster had not become someone’s meal.
She lived a life that some would describe as being on edge. Amile rubbed the twins in her red Yves St Laurent coat. She ‘borrowed’ the coat from her one-month-old employer. With minimum wage, Amile was desperate for money. She heard about a game at Vipers, a dingy bar downtown. The stakes were nice and high. Gambling left her habits after Lucas was born, but times were hard.
That night, as the game intensified, all players dropped out except for Snarky Joe and her. Snarky was rumoured to kill at a drop of a hat.
Grandma Magda’s lucky twin coins made Amile fearless. As the dealer began, Amile winked at Snarky and raised all in. Snarky’s hungry eyes lavished her full honey glossed lips, high cheekbones and large brown eyes. His eyes couldn’t go beyond the poker table; instead, he held Amile’s gaze.
Revealing her win, Amile reached for the chips. Snarky pulled out a .22 calibre.
“I win,” he said.
Click on short stories on triblamysticstories blog, to read more 150 word short stories created for Mondays Finish the Story flash fiction.
“I watched the vulture looking at me hungrily as I lay on the ground bleeding and injured.” Two thoughts entered my mind. One, it would come for me before the day ended. Two, night would reach me before it did. I shut my eyes and prayed for the night.
“Mama! Mama! Look! A man!… He’s bleeding”.
I wished, that was my son Toby calling his mama, but Toby was no longer five. He turned 17 last June. The Cult dumped my body early this morning and drove away with Toby. I may never see my son again.
“Get back here!” a woman shouted. I opened my eyes. She was closer than I thought, moving cautiously around me. Her eyes were as sharp as the vulture’s. She was not hungry, hers was a look of horror. What have they done to me, what can she see?
Mondays Finish the Story is a flash fiction challenge by Barbara W. Beacham. The story requires 100-150 words (excluding the first sentence). The challenge runs from Monday to Sunday. Here is my short story for this week’s prompt based on the first sentence below and the picture.
“The family had no idea that little Luigi would grow up to be a…murderer.”
The shock was too much to bear as police led Luigi away from the courtroom. He caught his sister’s gaze and his terrifying eyes softened. Martha turned to her mother; they both buried their faces in uncle Dino’s old, smoke-soaked coat.
“It’s not him, it’s not him – I know… I know,” Martha cried. She felt the 65-year-old Dino’s grip tighten as he led them to his car, barreling through the flashing media cameras and the crowd. Many had come to see New York’s District Attorney Martha Luciano’s brother sentenced today.
“Grim Day for Luciano Family”, headlines screamed across the streets in earlier hours.
Three days later, Martha brought Luigi the aged Polaroid of the family that he had asked for. Her eyes salted as she tried to smile. Trembling, she leaned closer to her beloved 26-year-old brother.
“I can’t Luigi…you can’t go to jail for me,” Martha sobbed.
(You can read my other short stories by clicking on the top menu on Tribalmystic Stories home page)