Tag Archives: living

Cool Stuff – Strong Gothic Arches for Hatters Huts


Susan and Michel’s homes. Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia.

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.

 

Susan and Michel

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.

Another Nissen house example.
Similar design Nissen home in Ireland.

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.

The Wild Orchid and the Tasmania Oak – A Love Story


The Wild Orchid and the Tasmania Oak – A love story

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Image courtesy of the Perfume Project

JK.Leahy©

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.

Image website: the perfume project.

Living in the Trees – The Korowai People


A life of contentment in the rainforest. The Korowai People of West Papua in Melanesia.

Irian Jaya's Kombai and Korowai people live in houses built in the treetops.
Irian Jaya’s Kombai and Korowai people live in houses built in the treetops.

Living in the trees is natural for the Korowai and Kombai people in  the southern eastern Papua. These tribal Melanesians are one of the last people on the planet who survive purely on their natural environment. The Korowai’s are also referred to as the Kolufo and have become known to the world through pictures and documentaries as one of the most amazing architects of tree houses.

The tree house builders survive in the basin of the Brazzan River in large areas of deep rainforest and swampy lowland. They are hunter-gatherers and horticulturists who practice shift-cultivation and have a very rich and an extraordinary oral tradition. They live together in small communities.

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Image: BBC Documentary

The higher they built a house, the more prestigious it is. The reason behind this amazing architecture which often reaches up to 100 feet or more off the ground is to avoid floods, insects and diseases. It was also a way to spot tribal enemies as the Korowai themselves had practiced cannibalism in the past.

Sowayen climbing down a “yambim” or ironwood tree after knocking loose a nest of black ants that he uses for fish bait. The Korowai are superb climbers, and get up thick trees like this by gripping vines with their hands and splayed toes. It took him about a minute to get up this tree, and it took Neeld Messler, a rope expert, over an hour to rig this tree with ropes so the photographer could climb it safely. In the lower left corner Sayah is watching. One of their fishing methods is to put a piece of an ant nest in the water and wait for the fish to come and eat the drowning ants. The fisherman hides behind foliage on the river bank, and shoots the fish with a four-pointed arrow. This picture was taken as part of an expedition for GEO Magazine and National Geographic Magazine to document the way of life of the Korowai tribe. Most of the Korowai in these photos had never had prior contact with anyone outside of their language group, and have no material goods from the outside world. They live in tree houses built above the forest floor to protect themselves from outsiders. The Korowai believe that contact with outsiders will bring an end to their culture. Cannibalism has been part of their traditional system of criminal justice to avenge the death of their clansmen, but the practice is dying out and is outlawed by the Indonesian government. The Korowai believe that most natural deaths are caused by sorcery, and must be avenged by the death (and consumption) of the person responsible.
Sowayen climbing down a “yambim” or ironwood tree after knocking loose a nest of black ants that he uses for fish bait. The Korowai are superb climbers, and get up thick trees like this by gripping vines with their hands and splayed toes. This picture was taken as part of an expedition for GEO Magazine and National Geographic Magazine to document the way of life of the Korowai tribe.

The Korowai people build their houses high above the forest floor, and deep in the swampy lowland jungles of Papua.

In the BBC documentary below, you can watch from start to finish, how a Korowai tree house is built.

The Eye of the Storm – Short Story


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Picture by Barbara W. Beacham

Mondays Finish the Story is a flash fiction challenge by Barbara W. Beacham. Here is my story for this week’s prompt in the first sentence below and in reference to the above picture. 

The Eye of the Storm ©JK Leahy short stories

Zeus was not having a good day and he made sure everyone knew it. Mack was a mess as soon as Zeus got going.

“Get me a cleaver…”

“Nooooo! Pleease! Oh god – I’m sorry!” Mack sobbed and gurgled as I ran to boss’s collection for a blade. I almost dropped it; my legs could barely keep up.

As Zeus’ knuckles tightened to white around the knife handle, I desperately avoided his predatory gaze, leering at me through the lightning bolt tattoo across his right eye.

“Now, get out” he growled. I didn’t linger.

Mack had hidden Zeus’s package as well as the money. He lied. I warned him that Zeus would not buy it. The kid messed up.

I wondered why you’d risk losing some fingers for a few bucks, and then I heard a chop. Mack’s screams battered the walls of the warehouse, and the echoes shook my bones. I guess you never quite get used to working for a psychopath.

(149 words)

The Carménère Moment – Short Story


The Carménère Moment©JLeahy Short Story 

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Picture by Barbara W, Beacham

Mondays Finish the Story with Barbara W.Beacham

“The only residents remaining in the small town of Miners Hill are spirits.” Uncle Joseph said.

A tear rolled down his wrinkled tired face. The Eastern Belt explosion left several hundred dead last week. The town was evacuated. I watched another tear form and my eyes salted.

“My first thoughts were Josepha, Maria, and Antonia”.

“Where were you?”

“We sat for dinner. I went down to get a bottle of wine from the cellar – only minutes away”, he covered his face with bloody bandaged hands and wept.

My 50-year-old uncle cried as I rubbed his shoulders.

“I…I heard a single explosion, it sounded so far away. I thought it was the daily blasting at mine site. I should have come up. Antonio wanted a Carménère to celebrate Maria’s first communion. I couldn’t read the labels…suddenly I heard the crumbling, screams upstairs and everything went black”.

“Don’t cry, please uncle. They are with God now”, I whispered, as I cried with him.

(150 words)

 

Cool Stuff: Living Grass Art


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25.08.79 #2, 2010, soil, wheat seeds, recycled metal, fabric, 110 x 90 x 40 cm. Exhibited at The Invisible Dog Art Center, NY.

Mathilde Roussel is a French artist. Based in Paris, Roussel works in various materials for her sculptures but one of her most remembered work is the Living Grass. This collection shows the transformation of soil wheat and seeds, fabric and recycled material to show the effects of transformation of material as a metaphor of the human body. After installation, the figures transform over the period of exhibition showing. Time sculpts the forms, makes them change and then decay.

For more of the grass sculptures. The artist’s statement can be read here

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25.08.79 #1 and #2, 2010, soil, wheat seeds, recycled metal, fabric, 170 x 150 x 60 cm and 110 x 90 x 40 cm. Exhibited at The Invisible Dog Art Center, NY.

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Mathilde Roussel

My Life Sentence


Life and the prison cells we all build for ourselves over our lifetimes. How true are these words? I enjoyed reading this piece by ESGEE musings and wanted to share this with you.

Millennial Leadership

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself’.

Leo Tolstoy, Russian mystic & novelist. 1828-1910

jail_life sentence

At the age of ten, I had the first realization of what a gang was and what it could do to me. I do not recall how it started but one thing led to another and soon all my neighbourhood friends and playmates had ganged up against me. One evening, I had climbed up on the roof of our house with our servant as he was fixing the radio antenna. I saw my ex friends and playmates holding hands, dancing and skipping together and then with a shock, I heard their voices mocking, mimicking and making fun of me. In that moment I heard an inner voice saying, ‘There is something wrong here. There is something wrong with me.’

I remember telling myself, ‘I don’t belong’

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My favourite time as a child – fishing


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This little girl takes a ride on a huge fish in Caras Ionut’s artwork.

If I had to show a visual story of my childhood, this would be it. This photograph by artist Caras Lonut. I remember often thinking about living underwater and swimming with the fish or getting a ride from one.

Growing up in a small village on the coastline of Lae, Papua New Guinea meant I spent many hours and days fishing. My early years were dedicated to catching fish for food. Most of my family fished. Sometimes, we would start at dawn and end at dusk.

We fished on the shoreline and in the swamps. I knew where to fish and where not to. I also knew when to fish. The climate and the weather patterns were our guide. Certain fish came when the moon rose. As early as I can remember I could make my own fishing equipment using nylon lines, small metal hooks, fishing net made from strings. These strings we made from bush ropes and vines.  My aunts, mother and grandma and I would knit the ropes into nets. Like other children in my village, I kept a collection of empty coffee jars I lured fish into by putting a small portion of cooked rice at the bottom of the jars before placing the jar in the water. This was another kind of fishing but that is another story.

Fishing remains one of the most fun and rewarding experiences I have ever had.

West Papua Needs Peace – Do we care?


Where is West Papua? »

I made a post about some American surfers making a discovery in West Papua and wanted to explain my connection to that story. West Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea, just 200 km north of Australia. The Eastern half is Papua New Guinea, where I come from. Visit links to many sites that show West Papua and how its people have been treated and decide for yourselves.

It is important to get as many people as possible world-wide to become aware of the violence and oppression in West Papua (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Papua_(region)). We can never do enough. I am sure by now, even the Melanesian people from other countries such as my own (PNG), Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and South Sea Islanders must feel that there is nothing more they can do to help their fellow-Melanesians.

The people of West Papua deserve peace. They do not deserve the continued violence. (http://freewestpapua.org).

Why am I interested in West Papua? I have been an advocate against the violence against West Papua, Indonesia for over 30 years. Firstly as a journalist in Papua New Guinea, I have known of and seen the victims of the atrocities. Secondly, I am a Melanesian woman and I share the ancestry with West Papuans.

If it means sharing information, publicising atrocities and showing films as in the case of the surfers’ film “Isolation”, then let’s join hands and do it for West Papua. We must keep fighting.