Wednesday, May 26, 2010

On the road again

Thanks for all your kind wishes on our anniversary. We had a lovely party, speeches were made and people caught up with. We really are most fortunate.

I have been away for a four-day weekend to rural Victoria. For those needing to repeat this exercise I have included instructions below.

Step one: get on a plane at 1am in the morning and fly throughout the night, arriving at your destination at 6.10am local time in Melbourne.

Step two: Pick up a car and drive by feel (consulting only a printout of the Google directions) to the northern border twin-towns of Echuca-Moama, on the Murray River. Stop a couple of times for pit stops, and once for a sleep, remember you've flown through the night. Arrive at 2.15pm at the caravan park on the farthest edge of town. Feel a bit proud of yourself. Look at watch and realise you'd better skedaddle to the Murray River cos you have a date with a paddle steamer!

Step three: Drive 8 minutes into town and grab a parking spot in front of the paddleboat ticket office. Screech to a halt at 5 minutes before the departure time for the boat trip arranged by the conference organisers. Run in and make enquiries, curse at the news that they will be underway in 5 minutes and that the boat leaves from the farthest dock, then RUN as only a fat midwife with sore knees can. Jiggling boobs are optional. Panic slightly as you notice steam rising from the stack of your boat. Imagine all those midwives making merry without you. Make your way down the bank to the gangplank and puff out that you can't remember if you have prepaid the ticket or not. You'll be told, "no worries, there's no hurry on the Murray". Feel your mind clunk into a different gear. Ahh, thats better....
Step four. Find a comfy spot without the sun in your eyes. This may be harder than you think. Scour the boat for signs of other midwives, prepare to be friendly with them. Lay your preparations aside as you realise that there are 10 other people on the boat and not one of them is a midwife. Sigh. Oh well, one may as well look interested in the sights and sounds of a genuine paddle steamer.
If you are a Steam Punk you might be interested in seeing this (dammit, its sideways, sorry). It was similar to the workings of the Riverboat Natchez which I went on in 1991 on the Mississippi River, but that was a much bigger vessel. Still a SteamPunk's gotta dream, eh?




Step five: While away an hour or so steaming slowly up and down the river, noticing the height of the riverbanks and the wharf, and the high flood marks. There are birds, and fish, and other paddlesteamers to admire, and people to wave to on houseboats. Have a coffee on board and try not to fall asleep as the paddlewheel turns with a rythmical shushing sound. Return to port.

Step six: Drive around the town a bit more, find an Aldi (my first time in an Aldi store, it seemed a bit random to me, avoid gummi bears as I am trying to be good) and get some supplies for breakfasts. Realise you are running a bit late for the welcome function and drive back to the caravan park, have a lick and a promise wash, change clothes and drive across the border to another. whole. state (like you do it every day, except if you lived there you would, but it was kinda fun as a novelty.) Try not to woo-hoo as you do it, its lowers the cool quotient. Mental thrill notes are OK.

Step seven: Arrive pretty early for the function. Realise it has been at least 12 hours since you actually spoke to anyone apart from customer service folks. Gradually wander around looking for a familar face to break ones silence. Find a friendly looking face on a stranger, respond. It pays off. Phew.

Eat delicious food while juggling drinks. Talk some more. Realise you have hit the wall with fatigue and must drive responsibly to another state to find your bed. Do this. Curse while reading caravan park literature that promises electric blanket on bed, while finding no such appliance in residence. Lie in bed only in the small spot you have warmed. Sleep well, but feel too cold to accept turning over and warming another spot. Wake up with a sore hip. Freeze ass off while getting washed and dressed. Attend conference with excellent food and company and speakers.

Return to cabin to get changed for dinner and hunt up the park manager for an electric blanket. Make the bed again. Resist urge to leave the electric blanket on while away. Return to venue in upper left of map and have a great dinner, with excellent singers and entertainment, dancing and chatting. Return to cabin in farthest right corner of map and sleep much better in a cosy bed.

Step eight: Repeat much of previous day, and give thanks for the profession of midwifery. Talk with a woman who has a disabled child who is tube dependent if possible, as this will enrich your experience, and hopefully hers as well. Hear some more great speakers. Order books from a learned person far, far away. Say goodbye to colleagues, and have dinner with a few more. Return to cosy bed.

Step nine: Next morning, to round out your experience, you will drive to Melbourne the long way, phoning complete strangers and introducing yourself as a distant relative. Be welcomed to their homes, drink their tea and find your photo in their genealogy albums!!!! Take photos with them, and marvel at family ties. Learn new things, share info and scandals in turn. Drive a really long way to breathe the air of your grandfather's hometown and birthplace. Drive farm roads in the middle of nowhere to see your family's name on a street sign. Get stared down by curious sheep. Buy a souvenir postcard for your Mum. Buy yourself a piece of fabric from a craftshop in the town to include in a special quilt (if you plan to make one that year). Get a teensy bit lost, but marvel that south is south and all roads eventually lead to Melbourne.

Step ten: Drive straight to the airport carpark at exactly the right time to check in easily for your flight home. Sigh with contentment that you have had such a great day with 'relative strangers' and be happy that you made the effort to meet them. Fly home in a cramped plane. Be greeted by loving family and head home to your own bed.

There ya go - do you reckon you could manage it? Add in a dose of hubby with a very bad back in your absence, which persists. Add a dash of large son hopping in with a badly sprained ankle 24 hours after return that has required a trip to hospital, doctors, x-ray, CT scan, bed nursing, chairs in showers, and much medication and driving around, 4 shifts, 2 meetings, housework and washing and driving of hubby and son to all points. Garnish with despair and frustration at the state of midwifery led care in this state, and resolve to keep plugging away at changing the state of affairs. Finalise preparations for a major practise review I am undergoing that will help me in my ambitions to practise more autonomously as a midwife. Make phonecalls to all and sundry, and not enough people, all at the same time. Planning, planning, planning. Cook, cook, cook, read, read, read. Just to stop oneself going completely insane, pick up a quilt that you made 10 years ago and continue handquilting it. It will get finished one day. You're not dead yet.

Tomorrow I will go back to the radiology place for the fourth day this week!

I'm pooped! I'll be grateful to go back to nightshift this weekend!

9 comments:

Frogdancer said...

You DO realise that you wouldn't be so pooped if you'd just bought the gummy bears, don't you?

Lesley said...

I need a lie-down after just READING about your week ...

Stomper Girl said...

You're pooped?! I'm pooped reading it.

persiflage said...

You certainly know how to hit the ground running, and to keep up the hectic pace. And I've been wondering what you've been doing!

victoria said...

Sigh. I love Echuca.

rhubarbwhine said...

The whole change s state thing is something I still get excited about. It seems to be a whole big thing to us sandgropers, and run of the mill to the eastern stateres....

Did you ever find out why none of the midwives were on the steamer?

Fairlie said...

Wow. I'm exhausted reading it.

Flower said...

I just had to stop by and say "hi" from Oregon. Your name is the name I gave my daughter...Laura Jane....so you see it was natural for me to stop by.
Your quick trip was busy..but so lovely to view and hear about!
I hope you get some rest!

Kelley said...

I am exhausted reading that.

But sounds like you had a wonderful time.

And for that I am glad. Echuca is a lovely place.