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We experienced wild weather here in October. We had record high rainfall (almost 8 inches), record flooding of the Wabash River (the river that separates West Lafayette and Lafayette and runs down to form the south western border between Indiana and Illinois, then joins with the Ohio River), a record number of 12 tornadoes, and record high wind gusts of about 100mph at a town just north of here.

So far, November has come in like a lamb. The mornings have been cold and frosty but the days have been warm and sunny. Last night, the Northern Lights were visible. Peter and I missed seeing it as we were both indoors – Peter teaching, and me at Sweet Adelines. There is a chance again tonight, so we hope we get to see them this time.

The trees are now all but bare, piles of leaves line the streets awaiting collection by the council, and the countryside has again transformed itself. What had been densely wooded forests are now open and clear. Houses that had been hidden by foliage are now exposed. The picture is bleaker, but the most amazing thing to our eyes is that the grass is still lush and green. Even a number of severe frosts have failed to brown it off. I might pack a bit of this stuff to bring home.

The last day of October is Halloween, and I had been looking forward to answering my door to trick or treaters for some weeks. Halloween is a big celebration over here. People decorate their houses and lay in stocks of candy (lollies and chocolates) in anticipation of young visitors dressed in all varieties of fancy costumes. Dressing up and chocolate are two of my favourite things so I was keen to enjoy the experience. Salespeople in shops were dressed in fancy costume and parades were organised downtown and in the main Mall for young ones. I decided not to go and see the parades as I did not want to be out when my callers arrived. So Peter and I sat at home with a huge bowl of candy, and not a single child came. I was so disappointed! Lucky I had plenty of chocolate to console myself with! Next day at Hanna I had to listen to tales from the staff members talking about having thirty and more trick or treaters. Genny, even your small number was better than my zero. Our townhouse is away from the main complex, and as most of the other residents here are students, we must not have seemed like a fruitful hunting ground for candy.

We had another chance to celebrate the occasion as there was a party on the Friday night to celebrate two 50th birthdays (Peg, our generous host on arrival, and Jim, another faculty member in Peter’s department), and it was to be a Pot Luck costume Halloween type party. I was given the job of preparing the invitations and planning the theme. I decided to ask people to dress as something starting with “P” or “J” in honour of our semi-centenarian guests. I dressed as a Jilleroo (which nobody guessed), and Peter went as Harry Potter. The party started early at 5.30, and as it was held in the lounge at the student village, alcohol was prohibited. A number of costumed revellers arrived – joker, Juliet, janitor, pineapple piece, pizza, painter, punk, pink panther, someone in PJs, and another Harry Potter (Dave). The guests were staff and graduate students (mostly internationals), and their cooking talents and tastes are great. The banquet of Chinese/Taiwanese/Korean/Turkish and other delights was truly enjoyable. We ate, drank our sodas, sang Happy Birthday, cut the cake, and then they started cleaning up. We were back home by 7.30.

Putting Halloween behind me, I decided to involve my American friends in some real Aussie excitement – the Melbourne Cup. I explained the national significance of the event to the folk at the Hanna Center and invited them to be in a sweep. They expressed some doubts as to my motivations, mumbling that they thought that maybe this was all a plot to buy my ticket back home. But they are good sports and all handed over their cash. I promised to bring in their allocated horses on Monday morning. I continued to spread the good word at church on Sunday. Our priest, Fr Douglas, was very interested and asked if he could also have a ticket in the sweep. Thanks to Judith, I got the full list of runners and their numbers and Peter and I conducted the official draw on Sunday night. We managed to tune in to the ABC on Monday night our time – too late to hear the race, but just in time to get the official result. First place, Fr Douglas! I deducted the 50 cents he still owed me for the ticket and dropped his winnings off to him this morning. I took the rest of the winnings down to Hanna. They have decided I can run a sweep for them on the Kentucky Derby in April.

While in the gambling mood, Peter and I also completed our postal votes for next week’s elections and they are winging their way Down Under as you read this. Hold the results until our votes get there!!!

But I leap ahead! Saturday, we lined up again for our second football game in as many weeks. Peter feared this radical change in his life habits may induce a mid-life crisis. If he buys tickets for next week’s game, I’ll know it has! The weather was much better this week, the bands were just as good, the football was less satisfying as Purdue suffered a substantial defeat, and the crowd got really mean. They were yelling abuse at the players, the referee, the coach, each other – not a happy group.

On Sunday we took advantage of the beautiful weather to drive down to Parke county to find some of the old covered bridges. They are quite beautiful and we enjoyed wandering the backblocks. Most of the bridges are still in operation and we drove “at a walk” across them. I would like to do a painting of one of these quaint structures, which are like long barns built over a span.

Today I was an invited guest at luncheon at the Country Club. One of the ladies from the parish asked me to come along when we met at Bruno’s Dinner. I was buzzing with excitement at the prospect. It seems that every old movie I have ever seen had the upwardly mobile heroes fighting to get an invitation to the Country Club, so I thought what could be more ironic than would-be upwardly mobile me actually making it. Even more ironic was that I was the guest of a lady named Virginia! Who is the other person I know who would love to be at the Country Club???! I was there for you Virginia, living the high life. Actually, it was very enjoyable. The lunch was delicious and I met another lot of very nice people. I managed to get a few more invitations too, so my social life lives on.

This week’s quiz question: Which famous air pioneer was a career counsellor at Purdue?