24 October 2001
While life for postal workers, politicians, and media personalities has taken
on a very sombre note, we continue to remain safe from the hazards of the ongoing
conflict. I continue to pray that a peaceful and just resolution will soon be
found, and that our security is maintained.
I feel like one of the squirrels rushing about trying to prepare for the coming
winter. I have bought some snow boots and a few warm clothes. Marie-Francoise
sent me some gloves, a scarf and a hat made of thermolactic fibre, so my wardrobe
is starting to look more able to cope with the months ahead. So far the weather
has see-sawed a bit. We have had a few chilly days, and lots of rain (I wish
I could send some of our leftover flood waters over there to the Downs), but
these have invariably returned to much milder, even pleasant, weather. They
are predicting that there is a cold front coming in this afternoon preceded
by severe storms, so I might get a chance to wear some of my winter woollies.
Marie-Francoise sends her best wishes to all her Australian friends. She is
still full of her happy memories of their holiday with us, and has been delighted
to receive messages from you. I am busily translating her second book so I can
pass it on to some of you to read. It is not an anthology of short stories like
the first one, but a self-help type booklet on How to be Happy (I
am still trying for a better translation than that). She has based the information
in the book on Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) techniques, which are very
similar to cognitive behavioural therapy techniques. Marie-Francoise uses NLP
in her counselling sessions and attends and runs regular training sessions in
this field. The book was published early this year and has been very well received.
A couple of weeks ago, she was interviewed on a French radio station which has
a listening audience of some millions. I hope they were all listening that day.
She is sending me a transcript of the interview on CD. She has sent the translation
that I did of her first book to her publisher to see if they would be interested
in an English version. It would be very exciting if they were, but I am happy
to have done the translation so that my family and friends could at least read
her stories. Doing the current translation has been very useful to me in two
ways. Firstly, it gave me something meaningful and interesting to do when I
first arrived and found things so difficult, and it also gave me some very good
advice on how to lift my spirits. Translating is a slow process for me though,
and I have a long way to go before I get to the end.
After the deluge of the previous weekend, we were very happy to have beautifully fine and mild weather last weekend. We took the opportunity to travel down to Brown County which we had been told by many people was the best place to see the Fall colours. It certainly lived up to its publicity. Unlike the flat terrain here in Tippecanoe (pronounced tip-uh-canoe) County, Brown county is blessed with small rolling hills, so the effect of the colours in the trees is much more spectacular. We also stopped at a small town which was having a car show.
are quite popular in these parts (and probably all around America). The paint
work and detailed treatment on these mean street machines are extraordinary.
Lea, Liam, and Matt would just love to see these Yank Tanks, Im sure.
One was painted a very glossy hot pink, as was the air filter thingy, and they
had a mirror on the ground so that you could see that the underbody was also
painted to match. I dont think they do a lot of off-road driving with
On Sunday afternoon, we went to a fund-raiser at the church. This took the form of an Italian dinner (choice of spaghetti and meatballs or lasagne), which was provided by one of the parishioners who is also a restaurateur. He and his wife have donated the food for this event for the past 40 years quite a substantial commitment! There were several hundred people fed and a special presentation was made to Bruno and his wife in honour of the 40th anniversary.
have a small core of parishioners whom we know quite well now. We meet with
some in the hall for coffee and donuts after Mass each Sunday, and I have been
invited to join in a group of women who meet for 8.30 Mass each morning and
then head over to McDonalds for breakfast and coffee. I am about 20 years
younger than most of them, and I only go along on Monday mornings, but they
are an interesting and friendly group and I provide an interesting and exotic
diversion for them I think. They are always interested to hear about life in
Australia. We met some different people at Brunos Dinner and one lady
has invited me to a luncheon at the Country Club in early November. That sounded
very exciting, so I accepted with pleasure.
This coming weekend is the homecoming football game at Purdue. A friend from
the Sweet Adelines has given us tickets to go to the match the week after
that (I had originally thought it was for the homecoming game, Hannah, but I
was over-excited), so we wont get to see the football this weekend, but
we will go along on Friday night to see the Homecoming Parade. This had been
an annual tradition but I think it is some years since the last one. It has
been resurrected this year because it is the 80th birthday of their big bass
drum. So heres another piece of Purdue trivia Did you know that
the marching band at Purdue has the worlds largest drum? It is about 8
feet high and made from cow hide - and of course the hide came from Texas! The
answer to last weeks question was, of course, Cliff. A winner will be
selected at random from the small number of correct entries received. First
prize is a front row seat at the first Sweet Adeline Christmas gig at one of
the old peoples home here in Lafayette on 5th December. The winner will
be liable for all travel costs associated with the event, but I will throw in
a cup of spiced hot cider.
People have been asking about the comparable cost of living, so I will try
to shed some light on that for you. When we first arrived, everything seemed
very expensive because we were spending those 50 cent dollars we brought with
us from Australia. Our weekly bills were also overly high for two other reasons.
The first being that we had to buy so many things (and I am still lacking so
many basic ingredients), and we were also trying to buy the same things we would
be buying at home.
From our memories of our trip in 1998, we had been looking forward to being
able to buy cheap petrol, but when we arrived the price was about $1.40 a gallon
(divide that by 4 for litres and multiply by 2 for our dollars), which wasnt
all that much different from the Australian price. The price continued to rise
and got to about $1.60 a gallon. There was a big jump on September 11 when panic
buying raised the price to $3 and $4 a gallon. That, however, was a brief aberration,
and by the next day prices had returned to their September 10 level. Since then,
prices have actually dropped, and last weekend we saw fuel as low as $1.03 a
gallon. Predictions are, that so long as the Middle East crisis doesnt
influence supply, prices could go even lower in the winter when demand for petrol
drops. This will be more than offset however by the additional heating costs
we will have to pay.
Clothing is quite cheap I got my snow boots for $12 and because
there was a recession underway even before the events of September 11, there
are heaps of sales and discount offers to entice buyers to spend, spend, spend.
Electrical and computer equipment is very cheap, but I think we have bought
all that we need of that. Local phone calls are free, but long distance and
international calls are more expensive than in Oz. We have finally got onto
a reasonable plan, but our first bill was a shocker!! Eating out can be very
reasonable. There are a number of family style restaurants which wont
stretch the budget too far, but pizzas are expensive by Australian standards.
They obviously havent had the pizza price wars that we have had. Special
offers include a one-topping pizza with garlic bread for $10. Each extra topping
costs $1 each. Where are Dominoes when you need them?
The groceries are the biggest fun though. If you are prepared to put in the
effort, you can really make some savings here. The first thing of course is
to eat what is local and in season. Corn is abundant and my best bargain with
that was 6 ears for a dollar. But even normal prices are very reasonable for
corn, and corn syrup, and popcorn, etc. We are now in apple harvest time and
apples are 33 cents a pound (multiply that by 2 for kgs). We have stopped multiplying
by 2 for Aussie dollars now as Peter is earning US dollars. Also cheap and abundant
are apple products dried apples, apple sauce, caramel apples (with or
without nuts, chocolate, etc), apple butter, apple cider, apple juice. Pork
and chicken are cheap. I regularly get chicken breasts for 99c a pound. Eggs
are also regularly 79c a dozen (dont multiply that by anything) but I
have bought them on special for 39c a dozen. Specials! Now theres the
thing!!! We get the usual serving of junk mail each Sunday. These consist of
store catalogues and sets of coupons from various manufacturers. The coupons
are good at any store and you can save 50c on this product or $1 on that one.
I have used these quite a few times. Sometimes individual stores will have coupon
specials where they will double or treble the value of the manufacturers
coupons. In most cases, store specials are only available to shoppers who have
a discount card for that store. It is a cunning marketing ploy to ensure customer
loyalty and to track your shopping habits, but I am prepared to sell my consumer
soul for the savings to be had by using these cards. For example, this week
with my Marsh card, I paid 99c each for large packets of Corn Flakes usually
priced at $3.09 a box. I now have enough in stock to cater for Nick when he
comes at Christmas. A couple of weeks ago I got a similar bargain on Raisin
Bran. Each week I save at least 30% on the regular prices by using my discount
cards. At this stage, I would say our regular shopping bill is considerably
less than what it had been back home (and we dont always just eat apples
Additional costs we have here include rent, which is substantial, and cable
TV charges. We only have the very basic cable service, but without that we would
not have any TV at all. Our favourite channel is the weather channel and we
love the live doppler 18 which always gives you the feeling (often
quite false) that you know what the weather will be doing. I have it on now
because of the severe weather warning for this afternoon, and I want plenty
of time to head for cover if there is a tornado on the way.
We get a regular newsletter from the Blackbird Farms management and in the
last one they advised us that October is Auto Battery Safety Month, Clergy Appreciation
Month, Computer Learning Month, Diversity Awareness Month, Domestic Violence
Awareness Month, Dryer Vent Safety Month, Family Health Month, Lupus Awareness
Month, National AIDS Awareness Month, National Car Care Month, Dental Hygiene
Month, Liver Awareness Month, Make a Will Month, Vegetarian Awareness Month,
Pork Month, Reading Group Month, Roller Skating Month, Skin Care Month, Stamp
Collecting Month, Polish-American Heritage Month, and Popcorn Poppin Month.
No wonder Im exhausted!
Hope to hear from you all soon. Norma, I got your letter and the picture of
the quilt. Its lovely and I will try to imagine the brighter colours.
If you have trouble sending me mail, just check that you have typed in firstname.lastname@example.org
In some cases the return addresses are getting confused because of the way Peter has us set up here with Verizon.
Love to all
|Last updated: March 30, 2002|