I’ve had to start rationing my book reading…

My reading has morphed into a fairly systemised approach.

I usually have three books running, a novel, a ‘wholesome’ book, and a bedside pre-sleep book to flick through.

I’m having to cut back a bit as my supplies are quite low, but then again I’m not spending as much time holed up in the cabin as I did in the higher latitudes.

My bedside book at the moment is a thick volume of selected poems and stories from early Australian authors.

I’ve always thought of myself as a Banjo Patterson type of man, but I’ve found that I’m really enjoying some of Henry Lawson’s short stories.

“The Drover’s Wife” is a simple short story of a woman in a battle with a snake which has gotten into the homestead. But in it he weaves a rich picture of who she is.

Her husband, formally a squatter has been gone for months off droving due to hard times. Alone on a homestead with four children, nineteen miles away from the nearest property. Fighting a bushfire by herself, facing an enraged bull with a shotgun, trying to save the dam in flood times.

It doesn’t really suffer from any romanticism or sentimentalism, just a story of a brave women facing hard times with strength.

I’ve read it a few times, and I find myself thinking of a few patients that I was fortunate enough to be able to care for during my residency.

There is a particular breed of older women that the outer Western Suburbs seems to have fostered over the last 50 years.

I met one of these women during my cardiology term.

She had presented to hospital, probably for the first time in her life, with a racing heart, and was promptly diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. “Top of your heart isn’t beating properly”, she was wisely told, as if that explained everything.

She pulled me aside during ward rounds, and asked me how long I thought she would be in for. “I don’t like to leave my husband by himself at home, the silly man crashed his car, and he’s in a wheelchair and can’t use his legs.”

I looked at the entrails of the nearest duck, gazed at the stars, and scattered some tea leaves before answering her in a knowledgeable style.

It piqued my interest a little, as her husband, if he was a similar age, would have been seventy in the shade. Not the typical demographic for paraplegic inducing exploits.

I returned later that day with the best interrogatory device in existence.

While a small portion of people clam up, the majority of victims will let forth the flood gates of speech in response to the glinting steel of a needle. Anything to distract oneself from the forthcoming stab.

I asked about her husband right at the critical moment of impact, and she volunteered that her husband had rolled his car six months after they were married. 50 years ago!

She was pregnant with their first child, and 7 days after her first delivery, she had returned to work to keep the food on the table.

“They let me keep my baby with me at work. There was no Centrelink back in those days, love.”

Over the next few days of needle assaults, I pieced out more of her life story.

Over the last 50 years, she’d been the primary carer for her husband, borne and raised 5 children, all while being the breadwinner for her family.

We controlled the heart rate and sent her on her merry way a few days later, with an appointment to come a back in a few weeks to shock the heart back in to it’s proper rhythm.

You never know what you’ll find behind the soft sweet smile of a Penrith lady in her late seventies.

But I digress.

I took advantage of a lovely day of sunshine and tailwinds to do the final stitching on my genoa.

The last 3 days have been quite exciting, I’ve been using the southerlies in front a slow east-moving high pressures system to great effect. However the middle of the system is where you get becalmed, similar to the eye of a low pressure system, except it lasts longer.

The system has been slowly moving across my course, and I’ve been trying to get north of its centre before it passes me. Sadly, I think I’m just going to lose on Sunday, and spend the day becalmed.

Not to worry, another 130 miles of northwardness puts me slightly halfway between Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour!

Latitude: -31.105, Longitude: -138.121, Time: 05:21:10 18-05-2018 UTC