Thoughts of home

Last weekend as we drove back across the Kentucky border into Indiana, I found myself smiling fondly and warmly at the familiar barns and ploughed fields of Indiana. I was amazed that I was experiencing the “warm fuzzies” of “coming home”. After many months here, I do indeed feel as though this land of corn and soy beans, freezing winters, sweet bread, and cheap petrol has become my home. While I joyfully anticipate my return to Toowoomba in two months time, part of me will always remain a Hoosier (the term used to describe the gentle folk of Indiana).

It is just as well I was feeling so fondly about home, because no sooner had we unpacked our bags from our trip away than spring showers reverted to winter storms and we had the biggest snow falls since we arrived. From Sunday night to Tuesday we had 12 inches of snow dumped on us, making me a virtual prisoner in our apartment for two days. The roads were treacherous with ice and snow and people were asked to avoid driving unless absolutely necessary.

Mike, our friendly maintenance man, used his snow blower to clear the path to our door, and Peter trudged through thick snow to catch his bus into uni. On Tuesday afternoon, Peter and I built a snowman and enjoyed what is surely(!!?) the last snow we will see here.

Our new next door neighbours, a Japanese family with two delightful girls aged 5 and 3, were also enjoying the snow. Mother, Kikuko, and the girls Shiho and Mika, were also busily engaged in building a snowman. I invited them in for afternoon tea and Sue also joined us. We discussed some cultural differences of which I had been previously unaware – the differences in snowman construction. Apparently the preferred American method is to form three snow balls of various sizes and then stack them to form body, trunk and head. The Japanese tradition uses only two – they are shorter people, so maybe that’s why.

Neither Sue or Kikuko were able to discern any particular strategy adopted by the Australian snowman builders.

I must confess ours looked more like a sand castle (a construction form with which we have had considerably more experience) with a lump on top. We were also unable to find the traditional lumps of coal to define the facial features, and I only had one carrot in my fridge which I was planning to cook for dinner, so didn’t want to use it as a nose, so Pat, you might say we had rather a “featureless” snowcritter. If we’d had more snow during this winter, we may have developed better skills in this area!

My other thoughts of home last week were very much back in Toowoomba. We have a contract on a house at 6 Millbrook Close which is not too far from where we were before, and is tucked away in a quiet cul de sac behind the High St Plaza. The house has 3 bedrooms plus a study and has a very nicely developed garden. My three requisites for a house are that it must have a bay window, a fireplace (or fire of some sort), and a jacaranda tree. I know it has the first two, and I will plant a jacaranda if there is not one already growing. If all goes well, settlement will be on the 14th May, a couple of weeks before we arrive home on the 25th. Buying a house sight unseen is a bit of a challenge, but Dorothy went through it and gave us a comprehensive and favourable report and description, and the agent took some video footage of him walking through so we have some idea of the layout, etc. I must say though, it will be interesting to see it in real life!

There are no holidays here for Easter. In fact, I was most amazed to learn that they do not even close down for Good Friday. Easter egg hunts are the main form of celebration and charming little plastic eggs are used for this purpose. The eggs are filled with candies, snacks, and small toys, and are hidden in the garden or around the house. There are lots of Easter candies in all shapes and sizes and lots of bunnies and baskets, but they don’t have anywhere near the number of chocolate eggs that we have (and no Darrel Lea nougat eggs). It was also difficult to find any hot cross buns. I did eventually find one packet, but they were stale. They must have been sitting on the shelf for ages waiting for someone to come along and buy them.

We celebrated Easter by attending the various church services at Blessed Sacrament and by going for brunch on Sunday to Sue and Kent’s place. Sue had bedecked a tree in the front yard with some of the cascarones (confetti-filled egg shells) that I brought back from Mexico, and after our meal we went outside and smashed some eggs over each other’s heads. Mexican tradition has it that this act ensures that your wishes come true. I’m not sure if wishes come true for the smasher or the smashee, but as we did it to each other, I guess we had it covered one way or the other. Sue’s wish is to swim with dolphins. We can certainly make sure that one comes true when they come to visit us next year in Australia – a trip they are already planning.

My wish is that you all had a happy, holy, and safe Easter!

In reply to last week’s question, Robert answered: Abraham Lincoln was fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth during a performance of Our American Cousin. Is he right, Stephen?

People must be aware that I am scraping the bottom of the barrel with my questions so have continued to offer suggestions. Marie-Francoise asks: How did the term OK come into use?

And mum has two questions for you all:
(1) What natural phenomenon is also known as a “cock-eyed bob’ ?
(2) Which Australian Animal , also known as the moloch, can eat between 600 and 3000 ants in a single meal?