Problems and Solutions
Chapter 30

“Well, now we’re sure.” Patrick said as they arrived home. “You were wrong. You’re at least two months and possibly three along. And it appears to be one of indeterminate gender.”

“I must have been fertile within days of stopping the pill!”

“So we know your metabolism works well.”

“Don’t be snarky.”

“And it doesn’t look as though we’ll have to change our diet much. We already eat everything she talked about.”

“Yes. She didn’t even think I needed folic acid supplements.”

“Yes. When she started to list the foods that have high folic acid content, I thought you were going the giggle.”

“I nearly did. I’m so glad we’ll need to include beans, peas, leafy greens, and fortified breads and cereals in our diet.”

“Yes, but we don’t each much asparagus.”

“But we do drink citrus fruit juices.”

“And you’ll need to stop smoking.”

“Not hard.”

“And drink less coffee.”

“That’ll be difficult ... what’s less than none?”

“But we’ll have to cut out sushi and sashimi. I wonder what’s wrong with uncooked fish.”

“I don’t know. But I thought her advice about telling folks was good: ‘Some women spill the beans to friends, family, and co-workers right away. Others wait until they’re in their second trimester, when their pregnancy is well established and the risk of miscarriage has declined significantly.’ Even though I’m not planning on a miscarriage.”

“That’s reassuring. Anyway, let’s wait another week. Then you can call your parents. When is your next date with Sayuri?”

“Next week. But it’s not a ‘date’.”

“No, but it’ll be a good opportunity to talk facts-of-life with her. You can ‘announce’ your pregnancy and see whether that – uh – loosens her up.”

“Disgusting. But I understand. I’ll have to see. Let’s make a shopping list.”


It was the next Tuesday that Patrick got a call from Craig.

“I told you the cage needed rattling!”

“Sorry. I have no notion what you’re talking about.”

“Oh. Sorry. I thought you were au courant.”

“I am. But not on every topic, especially unlabeled ones.”

“Right. I got a call very early this morning that the AG’s office had determined that a thorough reorganization of the NNTT offices was in order.”

“Wow!”

“Further, as the chap in charge was ‘acting,’ there will be an external search for a regular appointment to be made by the GG. Should I nominate you?”

“Certainly not! That’s not the sort of job I’d want or be happy with.”

“I’ll be in the Territory next week.”

“You are one of those invited?”

“Yes. Though I do not lead a band.”

“But you lead. Some may think you are too audacious. Too many have been overly reserved. I do not know how Trumbull will respond.”

“Do you want to come?”

“I cannot. I am not an aborigine. I have not been invited. I would be yet another brash, intrusive European.”

“Far from it. You have had good relations all of your life; you have been recognized by several bands in two states. And one of your acts is having a wide effect.”

“Thank you, but no. I need to contemplate something else.”

“Oh?”

“At the end of this year, perhaps the beginning of next, I will become a father.”

“My congratulations! If Nowra’s medical services can aid or assist, let us know.”

“Thank you. It will be far in an emergency.”

“The offer is from our heart.”

“And so taken. You will keep me informed about both the NNTT and what transpires at Uluru?”

“Of course. My best wishes to Rachel.”

“Thank you.”

More than 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community leaders will fly into Uluru this weekend before a significant meeting on constitutional recognition that could change Australia’s relationship with its first peoples.

The national convention on constitutional recognition, also known as the Uluru convention, is the cumulation of 12 community dialogues that have taken place around the country in the past six months.

Seventeen delegates from each of those meetings will attend the four-day summit, which begins with an opening ceremony in the Anangu community of Mutitjulu on Tuesday.

The Referendum Council chairwoman, Pat Anderson, said it was a “historic meeting.”

“Without being too histrionic, this is one of the most important decisions that this generation, those of us over 18, will make,” she told Guardian Australia.

Anderson said the message from the community dialogues was that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples would reject any purely symbolic attempts at recognition and demanded substantive, structural reforms dictating how the Australian parliament, and Australian people, related to Indigenous Australians.

Resolutions from the Uluru convention will inform a report outlining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander positions of recognition, due to be handed down next month. Politicians are barred from attending the meetings but will pick up the debate from 1 July, when the Referendum Council will be disbanded.

The coverage of the meeting has already been refracted through the prism of the 1967 referendum, under which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were included in the census and the federal government was given power to make special laws.

The 50th anniversary of that vote is on 27 May, and was the original target date for a referendum on constitutional recognition when the former prime minister Tony Abbott committed to the process in 2013... The Guardian 20 May 2017.

[On 30 June 2017 the Referendum Council delivered its final Report. Its main conclusion was “We put forward a single recommendation for constitutional amendment – that a referendum be held to provide in the Australian Constitution for a body that gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples a Voice to the Commonwealth Parliament – in order to fit into this window of constitutional opportunity. Our recommended option for constitutional amendment is both modest and substantive.”]

“Who was that?”

“Craig. He wishes you well and offers any aid the Medical Service can supply.”

“It’s a bit far, were we to need medical assistance.”

“True. But it also supplies spiritual and moral support.”

“And those mean a lot. I’m off to meet Sayuri. When I get home I’ll call Canberra.”

“Right. I’ll brace myself for the reactions.”

After Rachel left, Patrick tinkered with the pamphlet concerning Aboriginal “secrets” and what objects were considered not to be viewed or handled by women, youths and other un-initiates. It was OK. It was what had been asked for. And it had been done in half the estimated time. He’d schedule a meeting for a few days from now. He’d also limit the number of trips he’d take, using Rachel’s pregnancy as an excuse.

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