Tag Archives: Joycelin Leahy Blog

Hello Friends


Thank you for being so kind and patient with me on my Tribalmystic Stories blog. It has been a life changing year for all of us.

I wish you all a safe and Merry Christmas and a better, hopefully more normal (and what’s normal these days?) year in 2021. Even if we keep asking ourselves this question, I’m very hopeful and I hope you are too.

My sincere condolences to those that have lost loved ones during this horrible period with COVID19. May peace, blessings and love touch your hearts. What is looming will continue to affect us all and we go into the uncertainty once more as we head into the new year. Writing is a beautiful way to soothe the mind and feed the soul. I love the places I visit when I’m creating and writing stories.

I pray there will be more loving, kind and understanding between each of us. We are all in this together. To my old blogging friends and subscribers, yes, I’m back to the blog and I will be making art and teaching art right here on WordPress so we can reconnect if you are still around. I welcome any new subscribers and thank you in advance. I’ve written enough to get a book out of the memoir stories, but there is more writing yet… (and that is another story). I look forward to your spirited comments and discussions on my future posts between now and going into 2021. I feel it will be a powerful year. Let’s commit to what makes us happy and treasure every moment of now.

This is a brief post to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for your continued support. This image will be the banner for my new creative learning blog and website. I’m close to launching and will run the blog simultaneously with my Tribalmystic Stories blog. Wish me luck!

PNG Literary Competition Achieves Record Entries.


The Papua New Guinea Literary Competition The Crocodile Prize received the highest number of entries ever, this year.  On closing last night the Crocodile Prize fetched a total 826 entries from 132 writers & illustrators.

Poetry 355; Essay 196; Story 129; Children 52; Heritage 48; Illustration 21; Tourism Arts Culture 15; Book of the Year 10.

These numbers may not sound very much for writers in other countries, but for any Papua New Guinean writer, it is a very heart-warming news, especially coming from a literary culture that almost became extinct. In the early 70s, leading up to the country’s independence, passion for art, culture and heritage including the literary pursuits and publishing of works written by PNG writers were at their peak. It is not quite clear why the interests have fallen so much after independence. That culture may have been used because we were proud of our identity and we wanted independence so much or perhaps the general growth of consumerism and the wider issues of social, economic and political changes have contributed to this new – lack of passion of culture. I remember growing up with radio stories written by PNG writers, attending and being part of stage plays – written by PNG writers. Poetry, stories, essays as well as other forms of literary work were promoted and supported by the national government.

The lack of passion in the arts and the literary support to me is quite surprising and sad; our culture is based on oral history and story-telling.

As a PNG writer, a practicing artist and an arts curator, it seems very clear to me, that the PNG government’s priority is elsewhere and not the least in the arts. But to not even support the literary aspect and especially in developing educational content that is relevant to our children and educational for our people is wrong. We cannot just tell stories and pass them on – now we can write them down and keep for many years.

It is not how much minerals we export and logs we sell, but the natural beauty, our rich art, culture, languages and stories that set PNG apart, and gives us our unique identity.  The literary scene dwindled to almost non-existent, although that could have been easily combined with and taught through the education system. There are not many avenues and support nor funding where PNG writers could train or share their work, and even to sell. Most workshops, training and activities relating to creative writing or any literary work have been Aid funded or Privately sponsored in the past four decades. Now this is how things have started to change for the PNG literary scene.

THE CROCODILE PRIZE STORY
The Crocodile Prize was established in 2010 by Phil Fitzpatrick and Keith Jackson, (both Australians) worked for many years in Papua New Guinea; Fitzpatrick as a patrol officer, Jackson as a broadcaster and journalist.

The Prize evolved from the popular PNG Attitude blog, which has a policy of encouraging and publishing Papua New Guinean contributors.

The concept of a national literary competition was triggered by Fitzpatrick’s concern that creative writing in Papua New Guinea had fallen upon hard times, and that this was a cultural constraint needing to be addressed.

The first awards were presented in 2011, a year of determining whether or not a project of this kind could be managed successfully given geographical, financial and the constraints of a voluntary organisation.

Using PNG Attitude as a vehicle for publicity and initial publication, Fitzpatrick and Jackson soon discovered an enthusiastic and rapidly emerging body of Papua New Guinean writers.

They were assisted greatly in the early stages by material and financial support provided by the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby and later by a range of sponsors, most of them PNG-based.

This backing made it possible for a range of associated activities to be instituted in addition to the Prize, including an awards ceremony, the publication of an annual anthology and the initiation of writers’ forums.

After the first awards in September 2011, it was agreed the Prize should become a permanent part of the literary landscape of PNG. Now under the management of the Crocodile Prize Organisation, COG, 2015 will mark its fifth year of operations.

PHIL FITZPATRICK on 2015 Competition

Thus ends another year of the Crocodile Prize literary contest.

IT’S not every day that you get to influence the revival of literature in a whole country, unintentionally or otherwise.

I must admit to some surprise that it has happened at all. What started as a humble writing competition seems to have bloomed beyond all expectations.

There is a sense of pride in what has happened but, strangely, it’s not personal. Rather it is a sense of pride in the achievements of the writers involved.

At a personal level it has been more of a humbling experience. There is also a sense of awe and enrichment.

The enrichment comes from reading the works submitted to the competition and the sheer learning experience involved.

I think, despite nearly fifty years travelling back and forth to the country, I’ve really only learned to understand Papua New Guinea in the last few years of the Crocodile Prize.

There is also a tinge of anger involved, mostly through the fact that an uninterested government and lackadaisical education system could let such a promising and rich cultural emergence in the 1970s wilt on the vine and become moribund.

That aside, one of the ironies I really enjoy is the fact that the revival has only now been possible because of the advent of digital technologies that were supposed to see the demise and eventual extinction of books. Such are the shaky prognostications of the doomsayers.

The key factors in the Papua New Guinean revival have been the Internet and the availability of digital publishing and print-on-demand technologies.

These have underpinned the Crocodile Prize, firstly by providing a writers’ outlet in the form of PNG Attitude and secondly in offering a cheap way to publish the best in an annual anthology and then to go even further in publishing stand-alone individual books by Papua New Guineans.

The future of literature in Papua New Guinea is starting to look rosy but we need to remind ourselves that it is still extremely fragile.

The disastrous complacency of the 2013 competition organisers reminds us of what could still happen.

2014-15 has been a watershed year and there’s light at the end of the tunnel but sustainability is still a long way off and we aren’t there yet by any stretch of the imagination.

The winners of this year’s Crocodile Prize will be announced early September. The awards event will be held in Kundiawa on Saturday 19 September

Keith Jackson & Friends: PNG Attitude

Princess Celebrates Motherhood


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Breakfast at Bellbowrie – Princess and partner stand on guard while their daughters eat first. The life of a duck in our backyard.

Princess celebrated motherhood yesterday when her eight babies learnt to fly for the first time on our lawn in Bellbowrie, Queensland (Australia). She is a wild wood duck who grew up in our family home. I have written three stories about her on this blog, see the links below to bring you up to date with her life story.

You could say – after all she has been through, she deserved one happiness, and that she has. She literally grew up inside the house – in my son Nathan’s bedroom – she lived in a crate at night and during the day, we watched her wander around the yard, and making friends with other adult wild ducks and our laying chickens. She would always come back upstairs when it got dark.

I had rescued Princess in 2013 just after Christmas with five other ducklings in our back-yard. During the course of raising the ducklings my sons and I became parents as well as students, learning how we could help the ducklings grow and then release them back into the wild. Goodness knows what was going on in the communication from duck to human language, but soon, the ducklings fell into a pattern of eating, playing, swimming and just following each other and anyone of the three of us, in a line when we walked around the property. When we decided to name the ducklings, she stood out because she was the smallest and had a nervous twitch – everything had to be done for her. She would just wait to be served.

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Family snack time on the front lawn.

Princess’ four siblings died in the process of growing – the vet said, it could be anything – the stress, cold, fright, and drowning. There were two ducklings left. Princess and her sister. They continued to live with us inside the house in one of the spare bathrooms at night and much to the disgust of our visiting friends and family who sometimes accidentally stepped on duck poop. As they got older and stronger, we let the two sisters swim in a small water tank which was deeper than the bath. Later they took to our swimming pool and we could see them really enjoying themselves. When they became taller and their wings got bigger we knew they were ready to fly;  my son trained them to fly off our balcony into the pool (15 metres away) and also fly onto the lawn from the two story house.

With her nervous twitch,  we noticed, her big sister became protective of Princess any time she found things difficult. She would nuzzled Princess and peck her gently to settle her.  I became very attached to the confident big sister. She was a very smart and a caring big sister, She always tried new things and places before involving Princess. The two ducks bonded closely and were almost ready to be trained back into the wild together.  Early one evening while we were having dinner with the two ducks tucked into their large box on our verandah,  a python came up, unexpectedly, slipped into the box and coiled around one duck – the confident sister.

Click to read The Duck War story

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Flight practice. I caught them on my phone after work yesterday.

From that day onwards, Princess remained in the house with us, less confident to fly and became very attached. A few weeks later she started to regain her confidence. Then she tried to fly so Nathan took her to the window and she flew into the pool – about 30 metres away. She was natural. Swimming, diving and fluttering her wings. She loved it and started there all day – we had to bring her food to her, like a true Princess. She also flew a complete circle around our neighbours yard and took a swim in their brand new swimming pool. I jokingly told Princess, it was okay as long as she did not poop in their pool or get caught.

Then, one day a bunch of young male ducks that were hanging around our pool flew off and we saw her go. We followed her through a few neighbour’s property and decided, she was ready to go.

She returned to our property regularly and pretended she did not know us when we called her name. Sometimes, her twitch would become obvious – perhaps from worrying, we were trying to get her back. Amongst other wild ducks, when her name was called, Princess would be the only duck turning to look at us. It was funny. She had many suitors who often fought over her in the front lawn and the pool.

It was only a short time before Princess established herself  with a pack of wild ducks that frequented our yard. Then Princess fell in love.  Earlier this year, I posted a story about Princess and her first ducklings.

Click here to read Saved Duck Returns with Babies story

On their first day, she brought her babies out for a walk and played in our yard and then a swim in the pool.  Within a few days, she decided to leave our property and cross the main road into a vacant block which led into the wild, a creek and then Brisbane River.  I followed them to the edge of the bush concerned she had made a grave decision. There was a big storm, the next day. The mother, partner and babies – did not show up for two days.

Click here to read Nothing Came with the Rain story

Seven weeks ago, my son Nathan was very excited about new ducklings in our yard. Ducks don’t always have babies in winter so we were surprised. We rushed out and counted eight baby ducks. Sure enough, someone had been busy, it was Princess and her partner with their ducklings. She had also lost the nervous twitch.  The ducklings were not newborn. They were at least two-three weeks old. She had hid her babies until they grew up. It was clearly a clever plan by Princess. We could not work out where they were before they came home.

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The new girls marching in for morning tea by the poolside.

Attentive and followed by her partner and their babies, Princess headed for the chicken’s feed. Even the chickens let the ducks eat. We were all overjoyed.

I decided to buy some duck food from our local produce store. I did not post a story about the new arrivals earlier, just to let Princess have the quiet life she wanted and raise her eight daughters. Our family tried to keep our distance and no paparazzi were allowed. It has been almost five weeks since they arrived and adding the first few weeks in hiding, they have grown rapidly and are now ready to fly. Usually the babies grow their strong feathers by six weeks and fly at eight weeks.

The mother got them started in the pool –  flapping wings and lifting off – then falling on the water. The training also takes place in the water and on our lawn – just as we tried to teach her. It is quite funny and heart-warming to watch. Ten days ago, wild foxes got into our chicken coop and took Lady Stella. (That’s another story). After the midnight drama and the shock of losing the toughest hen –  we raced about our property trying to  find Princess and her family. We discovered, after all this time, she had cleverly nested her family in the thick layers of my flowers just on the water’s edge in our fenced swimming pool where no large animal can get in. She family planned well in the sense that being winter, even the snakes would be hibernating. So…they are safe for now and it is only days before the new girls will fly. Then, they will all be in the wild together.

I feel that Princess has truly achieved motherhood and as her mother, I am very proud of her.

 

 

Princess is a Mother Again


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Princess, facing the camera leads her daughters into our yard for breakfast.

Good news. Princess, our home-raised wild duck who lost all her family members, returned with eight ducklings. More on her story in tomorrow’s post.

 

Food In Cubism – Literally


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The Cool Stuff for this week is art we find in food. In this creation is a collection of food cubes presented by Lernet & Sander. It is one way to look at food in a totally new light, at least for me.

The foods we eat come in all shapes and sizes, but something beautiful happens if you cut it all down to size — literally. Design studio Lernert & Sander did just that to make the remarkable piece of art above, which was commissioned by Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant last year for a feature on the nation’s eating habits.

I have seen food presented in many artistic ways, but not like.

The very act of cutting each food from corn and salmon to cauliflower and kiwi into 2.5 centimeter cubes shows just how unique nature can be. By attempting to force nature to conform, the differences between each fruit, vegetable, and slab of meat becomes even more apparent (and beautiful).

See more here

An Iconic Beauty Under Threat – Cassowaries


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Australia’s iconic Cassowary is under threat of extinction.

I personally love the cassowary bird because of its unique beauty.

In Papua New Guinea(PNG), the cassowary is highly regarded in traditional myths as a source of life and spiritual energy. While cassowary is food in PNG cultures,  it is also kept as a pet. Cassowary feathers are used for headdress and bones used for tools. I remember my grandfather (mother’s father) kept a cassowary wing bone he used to stitch sago leaves together for our roof.  Some tribes, foe example the Abelam people in Sepik have used the femur of the cassowary birds to make weapons such as daggers (pictured below).

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Cassowary daggers

The cassowary lives in north of Australia and PNG. I constantly read articles about the near-extinction of this giant bird and I wanted to share the awareness that if we in Australia (and PNG) are not careful, we will lose this species.

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Southern Cassowary with three chicks crossing a road (photo courtesy of S. Hardy & D. Johnston) [Daintree to Port Douglas road, QLD, August 2013]
Why did the cassowary cross the road?

This question is no longer a joke.

According to Megan Neal at Houston Zoo website:

“Unfortunately, there’s no punch line and the situation is no laughing matter. Habitat loss and fragmentation have left the Australian population of cassowaries on the brink of extinction. These huge birds need large amounts of land to roam in search of food and to breed”.

Like other species, cassowaries’ habitat have been repeatedly destroyed by the boom in residential and commercial construction. Everyone wants to live near the rainforests of Australia, but there’s simply not enough room for everyone.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) answer to the question gives another example of the problem. The cassowary crossed the road because its habitat has been chopped in half by a freeway. So far this year, more cassowaries have died from speeding cars, dog attacks and habitat loss than in all of 2014.

ACF report said the modern-day hazards are now increasing the extinction risk.

“While local groups are doing great work to protect these gorgeous creatures, governments need to catch up! We need to transform our national nature protection framework so local, state and national laws work in together to protect life in Australia”.

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Near-frontal view of a female-Southern Cassowary (photo courtesy of D. Wilczynska) [Daintree NP, QLD, March 2015]
The cassowary is far-north Queensland’s flagship species for both the tourism industry and the World Heritage rainforests.

It is an iconic and unique species that deserves better than the devastating carnage it faces on regional roads throughout the Wet Tropics.

Sadly, 2015 is off to a particularly bad start for the endangered – and rather large – flightless bird with reports of at least six cassowaries killed between Mission and Bramston Beach this year.

Another cassowary was killed recently by domestic dogs on the Atherton Tableland.

Until recently, the remaining wild population was thought to be at around 2000. However, new research by the CSIRO estimates that the cassowary population may be more than double that at around 4400.

But this number is spread over 730,000 hectares of potential habitat with strong populations known in some areas and few or no records from other areas.

Read More on ACF Online News

Tribalmystic Blog – 2014 in review


To my readers, I wish you all a Happy and Prosperous 2015. I hope all your wishes and dreams come true in the new year. Thank you so much for your contributions to my blog. I would like to especially thank those of you that follow and others that consistently visit, like and share your thoughts on each post. That means a lot to me. Thank you WordPress and team for making it easy to blog and also to learn and share. Like other blogs, WordPress has sent me the statistics for this blog activity in 2014 and I would like to share it with my readers. As you read this, the blog will reach 10,000 hits in the next week. Once again, thank you with love from me.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,500 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.