Days 111-114 (August 31-September 3)
Saturday’s walk in the park was an opportunity to arrange which sessions to attend at the Queensland Writers Festival next weekend. So many interesting speakers and topics! Lots of walkers and cyclists were taking advantage of our wonderful facilities and there were some Father’s Day celebrations in progress.
Glorious spring day today. A slight nip in the air, sunny and cheerful, like the weekend, although there were sobering moments remembering the deaths of five Australian soldiers in Afghanistan, many asylum seekers lost from people-smuggling boats in the unforgiving waters between Indonesia and Australia, unnecessary road deaths and the impacts of violence in our communities. Good to see something positive in the Paralympic Games.
Anthology: Also a positive is the publication on the ether of our Writers Group Anthology: Ten Minute Tales.It can be found through Smashwords at the following address: www. smashwords.com/profile/view/tenminutetales. The learning experience in getting it together was what we wanted and we’re pleased with our modest result and the fun along the way. Some of us are convinced that publishing a simple novel with one person’s input would be a breeze. We still have one small task to complete for the cover.
Somehow the weekend slipped past without an opportunity to improve my blogsite. Maybe sometime soon.
The Library was wonderfully quiet later after a happily noisy children’s session of song and story in the morning. Priming our future readers.
Editing: Started well with a rapid sweep through the second last chapter of Present tense (I jumped a couple of awkward ones that still have highlighted sections needing attention). Many changes made, taking advantage of suggestions from Writers Group critiques of previous work where I hadn’t gone beyond the initial bare bones of the action and dialogue. Will need another look of course, but I’m happy with the progress.
Freya is in Amsterdam after assisting the medical evacuation of a Dutch volunteer colleague with cerebral malaria. Attached is the beginning of an email Freya is writing for her friend and mentor in Australia:
Subject: Catch-up time
A magnum opus. Hopefully this will make up a bit for the gaps between notes in recent times. Even Reg’s whizz bang technology is defeated by Sudanese remoteness and our gruelling workload. Arif was troubled when I left; the team was withdrawn a few days later.
So. Greetings from Amsterdam. I’m here ahead of time because of the repatriation of Dora, a Dutch colleague with cerebral malaria. She is very ill, touch-and-go. You’ll know what that means from your time in Vietnam.
An Australian doctor, Mani, and I specialled her during the flights in a Mission Aviation Fellowship plane from Loki to Nairobi and then in a giant Hercules to Amsterdam. Arrangements from Arif were hair-raising, but Ken, the new man there somehow made it all work, and we managed to deliver Dora alive to tropical diseases intensive care here. The chief doctor seems confident she will make a good recovery but it may take a while. Will tell you the whole story in person sometime.
Yes it is the Dora I knew in Scotland. You’ve seen photos of her, the one with the blonde curls and the wonderful smile. So many amazing things have happened where fact seems stranger than fiction. Makes me wonder why anyone needs fiction! Maybe I was right after all to give it up for those years. No I don’t really mean that; as you have said it might have helped me to understand some things better.
I’ve been keeping the journaling going as much as I can, and it should be easy with Reg’s generous gift of the solar laptop. Trouble is my brain shuts down quite often when the work stops. Probably inbuilt protection to allow sleep as a priority. I will update as soon as possible, before I forget it all.
I hope you are keeping work life in balance. Fat chance I suspect with the transfer of nurse education filtering through and all those extra committees you seem to be on. Whilst the powers that be are showing good judgment in having you as a chairperson or member I am not sure that they are being fair considering the challenges of your main job at the hospital. Are you well? Write if you can. I appreciate your emails so much, even though access to the internet is intermittent and depends on everything being right at the one time. I will be in email contact for the next week or so and then off the planet probably when I get to the north of Scotland. I plan to spend a few weeks at least at my croft cottage in Wester Ross. I think I told you I inherited that after Mama died. It will be good to be somewhere alone. I just feel like drowning the world in tears right now but I’m holding on till then.
Mani (short for Emmanuel I think) was born of Scots and Aboriginal parents at a Catholic mission in the Northern Territory. He was orphaned when he was a toddler and adopted by an Australian couple passing through at the time.
Between our debriefing interviews with the MSF office here, we are frequent visitors to the hospital to see how Dora is progressing. The staff are patient with us dropping in. Between times we are hanging out, having a look around the local sights, and feeling desperate together about the plenty we see, and the waste, and feeling deep sadness for the ones we left behind in Sudan and Kenya. It has almost confirmed for me that I’ll do at least one other mission but I’ll take a few months to recuperate a bit first. I have told the office here and Sydney HQ, and they seem happy for me to get in touch when I’m ready again. ◙
Before Freya heads to the cottage in Wester Ross, she and Mani are invited to spend a few days with Molly in Edinburgh (Freya’s volunteering colleague in Arif).
The future: In Book Three (working title Future hope), during her furlough, Freya’s future opens up in unexpected ways after a mystifying encounter with a mother and son in the Scottish Highlands. Some of the family puzzles of the past are resolved.