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St Valentine’s Day was celebrated on Thursday with the style and enthusiasm which I have come to see as normal for any “Hallmark” occasion here in this country that appears to have perfected the art of decorating and accessorising. Craft and fabric stores are full of paraphernalia for St Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Easter, and the 4th July. If anyone needs a light up shamrock tie or green food colouring for the 17th March, or any whimsy for other coming events, then let me know. I’m sure I could find just the thing!

Our parish organised a Valentine’s breakfast for the seniors. I went along on Wednesday afternoon to help with preparation and then again on Thursday morning to serve the meal. The decorations and food for that occasion were absolutely wonderful. The guest speaker was a local biotechnologist who spoke passionately about the advantages of genetically modified crops. It was interesting to hear his point of view. There will be one more of these events before we leave. The guest speaker next time will be the local weather man. He is very cute and I am really looking forward to meeting him.

However, the main event for this week was the Ebony and Ivory Ball which is a major fundraiser for the Hanna Centre. It is a big event on the Lafayette social calendar and I was very keen to get tickets to go along to enjoy the occasion.

Preparations don’t come as easily as wand waving and pumpkin conversion, so I booked in to the Lafayette Beauty Academy for intensive treatment. I discovered this place a few weeks ago and Sue and I have enjoyed a couple of afternoons there being pampered by the trainees (at a VERY CHEAP price). Sue came down again with me on Saturday and I had a facial, make-up and hair styling. After an hour and a half of primping and preening, I didn’t actually look all that much better, but it all only cost $8, so I was happy enough.

Sue wasn’t going to the ball (maybe she was Cinderella!), so she loaned me her evening coat and white kid gloves. I wore my black beaded top and black trousers. Peter wore his USQ suit and we both cut dashing figures.

We arrived at the ball and were welcomed by our many friends on the staff and board. As honorary staff members we were presented with yellow rose corsages (a wrist one for me and a buttonhole for Peter). The guest list was a who’s who of Lafayette – a senator, two mayors, the local state representative, the provost of the university, the sheriff, the judge, the chief of police, leaders of the Black community, a number of council representatives, religious leaders, and representatives from most of the major local corporations and businesses. The local TV channel, WLFI, had booked a table and filmed most of the proceedings.
The venue was the Memorial Union Building at Purdue – a very grand and ornate facility which consists of two large ballrooms. The rooms are heavily panelled in oak and have elaborate plaster friezes and column embellishments. Pre-dinner cocktails and entrées were served in the first room, while the jazz band from a local high school provided the entertainment. For dinner and formalities we then moved into the main function room which was beautifully decorated with roses and black and white serviettes, etc.

Four awards were made during the evening – a “Hands of Hanna” Youth award to Rachelle Frink who runs the after-school program; a “Hands of Hanna” Community Support award to WLFI for their contribution of many hours of free TV time for promotions and community awareness; an appreciation award to the interim director, Jack Hardy, for all he had done for the centre; and a special award to the visitor from Down Under for her contribution of voluntary hours to Hanna. I was absolutely surprised and really honoured!

What a thrill! After that excitement we returned to the first room to dance the night away to the sounds of Chubby and the All Stars from Indianapolis. A great time was had by all.

During the rest of the weekend, we resumed our latest interest, scouring the antique shops in the local area for a decoy duck. Having seen a program on TV some time ago where a fellow was showing the process by which these beautiful pieces were carved, I decided that such a duck would make a perfect souvenir for us to bring home. I’m not really into duck hunting, but am very much enjoying the thrill of the chase in searching out the perfect duck to bring home.

Our hunting expedition this afternoon took us to the small nearby town of Attica. It is a delightful old town which has taken great pride in preserving its historical streetscape. They also have the most wonderful little chocolate shop, Wolf’s Homemade Candies. I quote from their brochure:

“The Wolf family secret to making their old-fashioned quality, handmade candies is the strict adherence to the secret recipes that have survived nature’s test of time – using only the finest, fresh quality products, black walnuts from the Ozark Mountain growers, Georgia pecans, real butter, pure oil flavorings and extracts… all with no preservatives or additives.”

(NB: Marie-Francoise – NO PRESERVATIVES!!!). Of course, they don’t need them, we had finished most of them before we were out of the town limits.

The Wolfs make two proud claims. One is that their chocolates are the best in America. I haven’t researched that enough to know if it’s true or not. The second claim is indisputable – that their candies are out of this world! This claim is based on the fact that David Wolf was a crew member on the Space Shuttle Endeavour, and two boxes of their chocolates were taken on the shuttle and presented to the Russian commander, Anatoly Solovyov, on the MIR Space Station. Another box was taken to MIR on the Space Shuttle Discovery. We were told that they were planning to send another box to the International Space Station. Now you have to admit, that really is out of this world! Again quoting their brochure: “We ship via US Postal Service, UPS or Space Shuttle.”

My quiz question this week is: Should Sale and Pelletier have received their gold medal?
I only ask because it seems that it has been the sole question occupying the minds of the media this week, and I’m just hopping on the bandwagon. Marks will be awarded for the most original and convincing reasons.