it's about life, my life, quilts, midwifery, and whatever else occurs to me.

15 December 2008

House! really! this is it!!

Sadly, house #1 fell through when the building inspector found more problems that we wanted to have to fix. So back to the open house circuit we went. Back to, as it turns out, one of the houses we looked at early in the game. Phil loved it right away; I had to warm up to it. It's more house than we need, certainly; but it is spectacular and unique. This is the deck where we will be spending most of our waking at-home hours. That is, if the mortgage company decides to lend us the money to buy it! If all goes well, we should be moving in mid-January.

29 November 2008

My midwifery mates

This is us enjoying an end-of-the-school-year celebratory lunch at Hundred Acre Bar, the restaurant at the St Lucia golf club. At this club anyway, the restaurant, and golf, are open to anyone. I know nothing about the course but the food is good and the setting spectacular. From left to right, here are: Penny Buntine (midwifery continuing ed, Queensland Health); Peta Winters-Chang (clinical lecturer, UQ SONM); Jane Menke (clinical lecturer, UQ SONM--she was already dreaming of her 9-week holiday that was about to start!); Fiona Bogossian (assoc prof and my research mentor, UQ SONM); Susannah Brady (midwifery coordinator and clinical lecturer, UQ SONM); me; and Helen Goodwin (clinical lecturer, UQ SONM).

19 November 2008


After about 6 weeks of looking, we found a house! And the interesting coincidence about this house is that it's next door to the home of our current landlords. If all goes well, we should be moving in in mid- to late December.

04 November 2008

This stops a nation??

Today was The Big Event (yawn)...the immediate world here stopped work or whatever they were doing to don silly hats, drink a lot, and watch a 3 minute horse race. Strange. If you really want to see more, visit

01 November 2008

Helidon Hotel

Doesn't it look like an Old West movie set?

Performing Scotties

These little gals did some AMAZING stunts, like...walking around the stage; sitting; standing still. Cute outfits though.

Scottish country dancing

The dances have names and look remarkably like English country dances.

'Tis but a flesh wound!

Knight school, looking like a scene from Holy Grail.

Dulce et decorum est...

This is the 'learn-to-be-a-knight' tent at the Celtic fest.

why Oz is almost as fat as the US

This was one of the lunch offerings at the Celtic fest. Just your ordinary mega-caloric stuffed baked potato.

Pipe band jammin'

These guys marched down the street and just jammed.

The tartan flag at the Celtic fest

I drove to Helidon, about 60 miles west of Brisbane, to attend the Celtic Festival of Queensland. It had a heavy Scottish flavour as will be seen in many of these photos. This booth had sample books where you could look up your family tartan. There is no Long family tartan, or Hodge either. There is a Craig though!

24 October 2008

Another day in paradise

Day after day, sunshine and blue can I stand it??

More pretty flowers


Walking through campus

It's spring and it's a gorgeous walk through the center of campus back to the road that leads home.

Yes, you CAN buy booze on campus!

This bottle shop is actually located in Staff House, the staff-and-alums-only restaurant opposite Wordie's. Imagine a US college campus selling alcohol in bottles for take-away...I don't think so...

Phil's unofficial office

Here are Phil, another Phil (R) and John (L) having a 'meeting' -- and by that I mean having coffee -- at Wordie's, one of the campus cafes. It's really called Wordsmith's, but this being Australia, one is compelled to shorten it in that amusing way they do here...

Candy at the newsstand

Here's a shot of the candy counter at the campus newsstand. You can also get USB drives, cold drinks, Go cards for public transport, and you can drop off your dry cleaning!

Coot in the muck

This little guy didn't seem to mind all the yucky stuff on the surface of this lake. He just swam right through it.

Lake on campus

I couldn't resist taking this jacaranda-ful photo.

College across the lake

UQ has over 37,000 undergraduates, most of whom live at home while they're going to university. Some Australian students and many international students live in the colleges, which are essentially clusters of dorms. They are situated one after the other along one of the peripheral campus roads, across from this pretty big lake.

Lakes bus stop and Green Bridge

The bridge in the background is open to bikes, pedestrians and buses. Period. It replaced a ferry.

Looks like a baseball field, doesn't it?

I walked over to the lakes/playing fields area of campus and found this field, with a backstop and two dugouts. Nobody playing on it though. Do they have dugouts on cricket pitches?

Another look at the sandstone

This is just a gratuitous sandstone shot. Because I like it.


I tried to catch the flags when they were unfurled by the breeze but that didn't work. The Aussie flag has the Union Jack in the upper left corner, symbolising the ongoing tie with the Mother Country, and the Southern Cross constellation across a navy blue background. The stars have 7 points. I don't know what the significance of the 7 points is.

The Great Court

UQ is known as one of the 'sandstone universities' in Oz. The name refers to building material and also to age and prestige. It was founded in 1909 (young but old for here), and it's highly ranked among Oz unis and even in the world. The Great Court buildings use the English cloister look and native sandstone, which has a lovely cream/tan/pink colour combination. A nice place to sit and read or talk with friends.

UQ: the student union

Here's a series of photos of the St Lucia (main) campus of the University of Queensland, where Phil and I both work. He is actually based on this campus. I'm based at Ipswich, which is about 35 km southwest of Brisbane. I'll have photos from there later. Anyway this shot is the student union. It's a series of shops and food outlets in a cluster in the middle of the campus. You can get school supplies, candy, coffee, a haircut, bike supplies, greeting cards, smoothies, and more here. Roughly over lunchtime and into the afternoon, people set up outdoor displays of clothing, sunglasses ("sunnies"), books, and fruit in the space adjacent to the student union shops.


This is Eden, who was born on 1 Oct to Mel and Dave, our landlords. We went over to their house for morning tea last Sunday. Eden was very happy for me to hold her while she slept, and slept.

07 October 2008

First day of school

Today I spent all day at school. I sat in with Susannah, the course coordinator, on her class day with the 2nd year B.Mid. students. They're doing a problem-based learning program, and currently they are focusing on vulnerable newborns. The problem patient was a woman who didn't know she was pregnant who ruptured membranes with twins at approximately 29 weeks. So the issues of twin birth, breech birth, and neonatal resuscitation came up, among other things. The PBL model is fascinating. In this model, the students themselves do most of the teaching to their peers.

After lunch there was a practice hour for their upcoming practical exam, known by the acronym OSCA. Objective Structured Clinical Assessment. They are all terrified that they'll have to do something they don't know about, despite Susannah's reassurance that it's all normal midwifery that they do all the time. I took a station at the practice and helped them through their mechanisms of birth.

I felt like I was back at Downstate! Today was 'pirate day' and they all came in with striped or white shirts, head scarves, hoop earrings, lots of clinky jewelry, and someone even had a stuffed parrot. They bring food to share and are clearly well bonded.

The students, in this group anyway, have great energy, and they know so much already. Only one is a nurse now and she is an enrolled nurse (equivalent to LPN). They are all at least in their mid-20s and a couple are a fair bit older with kids. It's really demonstrating the beauty of the midwifery baccalaureate, completed in 3 years.

I'm still learning about how it all works, which is handy as I'll be expected to have my own section of students starting in February.

Next week's class is their last; they all spend the 3rd year strictly in clinical placements. They'll do presentations on the topics pertinent to the end of the problem scenario, and they're planning lunch out together at a pizza place. I'll bring my camera and post some photos from that class.

30 September 2008

The new normal

We've been here 10 days now. I'm still running around doing errands -- looking into health insurance, signing up at the video store, the gym, opening the bank accounts, etc. At the supermarket, Woolworths (yes, same company as our old Woolworths but here they seem to be just supermarkets) I take forever because almost nothing there is anything like what I could buy in the States, with the possible exception of some types of produce. Also, this Woolworths is located inside a massive 4 story shopping mall, along with Target, Kmart, a department store and many, many small shops selling everything from...well, pretty much anything you might need.

Yesterday I made my first visit to the local quilt shop. It appears that fabric is quite expensive here, if I'm interpreting the prices correctly; at the top of each bolt it said $24 or sometimes $23, which I interpret as the price per metre. Now that is $AUS, and the exchange rate is such that the $US is worth a bit more, but I'm accustomed to prices more like $US 9 or 10 per yard, and a yard is only a little bit smaller than a metre. Ergo: my visits home will include fabric shopping!

On Monday I met with my school advisor to start my education and employment process. I chose mid-February to start my school (and scholarship) clock. It works out to the beginning of fall semester, and it gives me time for some preliminary preparation and investigation. My part-time job is set to start next week, 1 day a week doing various odd jobs around the School of Nursing and Midwifery (hereafter SONM).

In order to get to know midwifery in Australia, I've set myself a task of writing a piece for the JMWH, in 2 parts: clinical practice, and education. Our landlady is, this very day, being induced at 41 weeks ('I really don't want it, but my doctor doesn't want to wait any longer') and I hope to add some spice to the piece with interviewing her after she's had a chance to recover and settle in with babe #2.


This photo was taken from the CityCat, a high-speed catamaran ferry that makes several stops along the Brisbane River between the western and eastern suburbs. It's a great way to commute. From my neighborhood ferry stop, I can be downtown in about 15 minutes. It's a real city, there are nice bridges and tall buildings...

Jacaranda tree in bloom

I shot about 12 of these trees before I got a shot I liked. They have gorgeous purple flowers. It is spring here, after all!

That's per LITRE, mate!

I'm posting this so that you all in the States won't feel too bad about what you have to pay for fuel. Because it's WAY less that we're paying here (one gallon = approximately 4 litres...)

Yup, it's hilly here

You might not expect this -- but Brisbane is very hilly, and some of the hills are really rather steep!
This is the foot of our street, Prospect Terrace. And yup, they drive on the left here.

1/74 Prospect Tce, St Lucia

Our front deck overlooks a park.

16 September 2008

Cool centerpiece at Bobbi & John's

It kept changing colours (this is just a snapshot, as it were) ... could have stared at it for hours.

13 September 2008

Farewell party @ HFC

The MAH OB department threw Marcia and me a fantastic farewell dinner on the evening of 10 September. Here, L to R, are Phyllis, Charlie, Marcia, me, and Robyn.

12 September 2008

Moving chaos

I took this photo before the movers came, and it doesn't really show just how chaotic things were during the whirlwind of activity that ensued when they arrived. I can only say how glad I was when it was over!

11 September 2008

With TH

The same weekend as the reunion, we detoured to Elmira so I could see Dad, aka Big Grandpa, one more time before leaving the States for Oz. We spent a little time with sister Mimi, brother-in-law Jan, and niece Karen and her fiance, soon-to-be husband Vince (see previous post). Dad was our last stop before heading back to Cambridge and inventorying pre-move. Dad & I talked of nothing momentous; it was fine just to listen to his commentary on life for a little while.

He's thrilled when I call him from Oz. Yay SkypeOut!

09 September 2008

Gang of Four at the reunion

Back to the reunion -- these women are the girls I spent most of my high school life with, 40 years ago. Next to me is Sharon Liberatore, now a women's health NP involved in pharmaceutical research; standing behind Sharon and me are Marylou Murry on the left and Carol Pouliot on the right, both retired now but still active. We've aged pretty well, if you ask me...

LHS reunion

Last weekend was my 40th high school reunion. One of the weekend's activities was a tour of the school. It was strange and familiar at the same time. Phil took this photo of me at the main entrance.

18 August 2008

Karen & Vince on the Duck Tour

Karen & Vince came to visit us in Cambridge at last. I think they had a good time, mostly, although Vince looks a little skeptical in this photo taken by Phil in the front mirror of the duck boat.

24 July 2008

Zara's visit to Marmee & 'Buelo

We had a brief solo visit with Zara at our house in July. It didn't work out that well; bedtime was a challenge (sob, sniff, wail); and there was no such thing as a nap! But once Mama and Dada were back, things were pretty good. Z was thrilled to ride the pony, and enjoyed cooling off in the sprayground later that same day.

23 June 2008


Sam has been my friend since 1995, when I adopted her from a shelter at the age of 3. She's 16 now, and about a year and a half ago, her hind legs started to fail. I remember so well her prowess at frisbee catching, how she loved to swim, the many times we went running together, the few times she stole food from the kitchen counter. No squirrel could rest easy with her around, and she just knew that cats were put on Earth for her to chase. More than one person who met her agreed that she could smile.

But the signs are all there; her romping days are long past. She's lost interest in almost everything, and I'm at the point where I don't think I'm doing her a favor by keeping her with me in this life. So tonight she'll keep me company on the bed, although I'll have to pick her up to get her there and she won't like it! And tomorrow, we'll take our last ride together, and if there's a doggy afterlife, she'll be running again.

30 May 2008

Life changes; Nora's quilt

I've been ignoring this blog for a year and a half, changes. It's time to start up again.

After a lifetime in the Northeast USA, Phil and I are going to move to Brisbane, Queensland, Australia in September. He's going to direct a new Centre for Educational Innovation and Technology at the U of Queensland. And I -- after years of resisting -- am going back to school for a PhD.

Naturally, since it's been over 20 years since the last time I went to school, I am terrified. At the same time, the prospect of immersing myself in something academic, and leaving the cares and hassles of clinical practice behind, is awfully appealing. I have 3 1/2 years to finish the degree.

We will leave behind: Sam; Jo, Wes and Zara (and possibly a new sibling); my dad, sister, brother-in-law, nieces/their families; Phil's brother and sister-in-law; a few very, very special friends; many colleagues and friends; brewed iced tea; good ice cream; maple scones; snow; driving on the right side of the road.

We will look forward to: visits from any and all friends/colleagues; being in the same general part of the world as Brian; US visits a few times a year; coffee shops on every corner (Phil, not me); no snow; exploring a new and very unusual country; finding new friends; and finding new quilt and fabric shops.

This is the quilt I made for Nora McGowan, who was born in November 2007. Hey, that means she's 6 months old now! She was a long time coming.