Posted by: jkirkby8712 | May 20, 2012

Thursday, 17th May 2012 – back down the highway to Ballarat

I intended to begin the day with a visit to the gymnasium, but after a day and night, not feeling at all well, I decided it might be best to give that exercise a rest today, instead took my time getting organised this morning, for an earlier start than planned, for another trip to Ballarat   I was actually surprised by an early morning ‘hello’ from Heather – didn’t think she would have her phone in the hospital ward.

I think it was soon after 9.30 when I left Sunbury. Despite a very cold start to the morning, it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day, and the drive down the highway, via Melton was quite warm in the sunshine.  My arrival in Ballarat, found the same weather, a glorious day. More or less drove straight up to the Ballarat Bass Hospital, parking a couple of blocks away in a two hour spot!  As visiting hours this morning were 11am-1pm, and I arrived here just after 11am, that was perfect. It took me a little find to familiarize myself with the hospital layout, but eventually found my way to Room 209 on the second level of the north wing, and found Heather and her daughter, Von, sitting on chairs talking, beside the bed. Von left soon after. And I would stay with Heather until just before one o’clock.

Surprisingly, she was in a lot more pain, than she really should have been, and it was not until I returned later that afternoon that the reason for that was discovered. She was supposed to be wearing some form of pain patch, but apparently during her shower this morning, it had been knocked off, and not noticed until this afternoon. Staff had been filling her up with other pain killers, probably thinking she was asking for too much, when the real villain was lying on the bathroom floor for half the day.  As it was, it would not be until after 5pm, before the hospital pharmacy finally provided a replacement patch. So for a lot of the time that I was there with Heather today, she was genuinely in a lot of pain from her ‘repaired’ knee. Meanwhile, during that morning period, her brother Ross called in briefly, with some flowers and greetings – he didn’t stay long, but I was pleased to see him.  I think our patient was trying to recover from a rather unappetizing lunch, when I left at around 12.45pm.

I drove down to the main town area, and eventually met up with my sister Jean, and her husband Ross, in the Mall, and we adjourned to a nearby restaurant for a bite of lunch. Rosemary and Marc joined us soon after, although they had already eaten! A pleasant hour or so over lunch –  I decided today was the time to have what was a rather tasty Mediterrean Salad, and even survived the rich layers of oil, and the multitude of olives which I generally avoid in any quantity. Ross, who had recently resigned from his technician’s role at the Ballarat Grammar School, was ‘enjoying’ his new found freedom of working weekends and some weekdays as a motor cycle instructor and teacher, so a lunch outing like this was a treat for him too. Actually, the meal was a treat for me – I didn’t have to pay!!  I enjoyed that brief sojourn with my sister and part of her family, though had to offer apologies for staying at a motel in Ballarat, rather than accepting their hospitality out at Enfield – explained in terms of  independence, convenience, etc. I think that was understood!

From lunch, I drove across to the Eureka Lodge Motel, where I was expected, and checked for a couple of days. Slightly different room to the one bed variety I had the other night – this one had three beds in it!!  I really only needed the one!  From there, I drove across to Wendouree Parade, via Neil  & Macarthur streets, purchasing a copy of the Ballarat Courier, and the Age, along the way. Stopped at the Chaser’s Restaurant, where I had met Heather and Von last Sunday morning – the weather much more pleasant today –  and shouted myself an ‘over-expensive’ iced coffee, and read a bit of the ‘Courier’. It was while doing that I came across a couple of interesting articles. One of them related to the Ballarat Art Gallery!  As a member and fan of the Art Gallery of Ballarat, I was interested to find the following article [partially reproduced] in today’s Ballarat Courier, under the heading ‘Celebrate the art we do have’, and written by journalist, Kim Anderson – obviously in response to criticism from some areas as to why the Ballarat Gallery did not exhibit the recent successful ‘Grace Kelly’ exhibition held at the Bendigo Art Gallery. After reading this, I simply had to say “hear, hear”!! The article follows, in part.

‘Of all those people leaping onto the bandwagon to criticise the Art Gallery of Ballarat for not holding a ‘frock show’, how many of you have also bothered to actually visit the gallery and view the amazing collection on display? Yes – the permanent collection- as in work that we, collectively, as citizens of Ballarat, can be proud to call ours. Why is it that we are quick to praise something further afield, while ignoring the riches literally beneath our noses?

Ballarat has an extremely significant permanent collection with a major focus on Australian art, a collection which is ever-increasing in quantity and quality thanks to the passion and vision of the gallery’s directors, both past and present.  And it doesn’t cost a cent to see. You can walk in there, free of charge, and view masterpieces by some of Australia’s greatest artists including Margaret Olley, Jeffrey Smart, John Brack and Hans Heyson, to mention but a few. And I haven’t even mentioned the stunningly beautiful indigenous art on display, nor the extensive collection of works on paper or the rare illuminated manuscripts. Ballarat’s collection also offers an invaluable insight into the history of our region from the very first colonial settlements [including many works by convict artists] right through to works by local artists. Surely that holds much greater value than a few dresses worn by a dead movie star [with all due respect to Princess Grace]. The Grace Kelly exhibition, along with all the other ‘couture’ shows that Bendigo has held recently, has been brought in, ‘ready-made’ from the UK at great expense [my greatest apologies to Duchamp for using the term in this instance].

The Art Gallery of Ballarat curates the majority of its own shows, most of which showcase at least some aspect of its permanent collection. And that, I might point out, is Ballarat’s strong point. Our permanent collection is one of the best in Victoria outside of the NGV, and dare I say it, in all of Australia……………..The Art Gallery of Ballarat is one of the most spectacular jewels in Ballarat’s crown, achieving it’s status neither from royalty or celebrity, but from a genuine vision to establish an uplifting and inspiring cultural institution that originated with its founder James Oddie in 1884. However, unfortunately, artistic and scholarly integrity now seems to be undervalued and overlooked in favour of temporary easy-to-digest blockbusters. Titanic might have broken numerous box office records, and it’s even been presented in 3D now,  but could it actually be truly classed as a high-quality film? The sad truth is that mediocrity tends to appeal to the masses, and before you retaliate I’m not the first to say so. Bendigo’s visitor numbers mean very little when it comes to making comparisons between the two institutions. Apples are not oranges, and a fashion show is not an exhibition of art – although certainly there can be a crossover in some cases. I absolutely agree that there is an appropriate place for both, and neither should be in competition with each other………………Dresses and shoes are pleasant and pretty. ‘Real’ art is perhaps perceived as a little more challenging………..Art is challenging, memorable, soothing, provocative, emotionally and psychologically arousing, raises many questions and provides some insights into the human condition. It’s incredibly complex, and thus ultimately more rewarding.’

Spent the next 3-4 hours back in the ward with Heather, although she was not there when I arrived – was away having x-rays. When she came back, with me waiting in the background, she was helped in the bathroom for a while [that was when the missing pain patch was discovered], and it was afterwards that the full extent of her distress from pain was evident – not so bad lying down, but when she has to try and walk, even with assistance, the pain and  discomfort becomes quite severe. She was upset that I was seeing her distressed in that manner, though I think we quickly assured my friend,  that such feelings were unnecessary, I just wished there was something I could do to ease her discomfort! No other visitors while I was there, until after school when Von came in with her two teenage daughters [Heather’s granddaughters]. Earlier, I went for a wander downstairs, while Heather was attended to by the nursing staff again, and returned while she was eating the evening meal – in fact, she was actually eating the meal this time, which was a good sign.

I think it was getting on towards 6.30pm when I left, felt that Heather was probably ready for a rest and a bit of a sleep – however, she would have to wait for that, as she had some late visitors – I was a little disappointed to have missed a  return visit by her brother Ross, and a couple of other friends, would have liked to have met them.

Bought a meal of roast vegetables from a nearby establishment, and returned to the motel for the evening, where I would have a comfortable and warm night. A couple of goodnight messages from Heather, as she tried to settle down for the night, although no doubt she would be disturbed throughout the night by the nursing staff.  UI had no such problems – very quiet again, around this motel, watched a bit of TV, wrote, read, and generally slept fairly well, with the occasional short break.




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