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17 October 2003

Tick...tick...tick... The clock is ticking much too fast and it is too short a time before I'll be headed to the airport. There will probably be a day's gap in entries, I suspect. Not that it will really bother anybody.

We got an early start this morning and were at the park before 6 a.m., in time to watch the sunrise.

The day brought my time in Australia full circle, like the whole six weeks was enclosed in one gigantic parenthesis. The first day I was here, we went to the park and saw roos running up into the hills, and it rained. We haven't seen roos in the bush since, but today there were 3 running up into the hills...and it rained. It was kind of like a signal--OK: you've seen it all now, time to go.

Because it rained today, it gives me the chance to use this photo from the other day, when we got busy doing other things and the morning's walk took a back seat in the journal entry. We had gone to the park with Janne and with Anne and it started to rain. We all took cover under a tree until the storm passed, but Peggy tore open one of the plastic dog poo bags everyone uses here (a clean one) and put it over her head to protect her from the rain (I, of course, stepped out into the downpour to get a photo). She looked like a little Dutch girl with a turned up little hat.

But no poo bags on the head today. The rain didn't last, and we made it back to the car. I turned and took one last look at the park which has been one of the real joys of starting each morning. Chippa raced toward the car, Keno plodded along behind on her big, flat feet, and my days of running the dogs came to an end.

The end of the walk added one new adventure to my time in Australia: I came home and went to get in the shower, noticed something strange below my knee, checked with Peggy and yes, all the chasing of the roos through the more bushy area of the bush had picked me up a tick. Peggy, an old hand with ticks, smoked the thing out with a cigarette and managed to get it removed with tweezers and a needle. Surprisingly, it didn't really hurt.

Then there was a load of wash to do. Got all my clothes in the washer and hung up on the line and about an hour before they were dry enough to consider bringing in, it started to pour, and we had to finish drying them inside before I could finish packing. However, Peggy did finally record that I have actually hung cothes on a line while here (several times, in fact).

The day itself was spent alternately watching the Red Sox lose their chance to get in the World Series, finishing up projects we've been 'going to do' for weeks now and never started, and getting all of my stuff into suitcases.

Packing was a daunting task. I had no idea I'd bought so much stuff. Even with the vacuum sealed bags that I'd purchased before leaving home, there was still so much--and so many oddly shaped pieces. I hardly knew where to start, and so I kept doing bits and pieces of it, but not making much headway, which was driving Peggy nuts (I think she was afraid I'd actually have to stay longer!).

It was the damn shoes. So many shoes! How did I acquire so many shoes? I finally decided there was no way I was going to be able to pack them all, so put together a box to mail home, hoping I could get away with just one box.

Peggy finally decided I was never going to finish packing and she became a whirling dervish. In a short time she had given me a bigger suitcase, unpacked everything I'd done, repacked it all (including what I'd packed in the box), and I now have the world's heaviest suitcase(s) and will undoubtedly be paying a fine for heavy luggage--but I don't have to pay postage to send any of it home...and it's done. Well, except for last minute clothes, which I will stick in in the morning.

The mail brought a going-away gift from Claire and Penny, who sent me a book about the attractions of the SouthWest, so I could have a memory of what we've seen and see the things that we missed. It was very sweet of them to think of me. (Two days ago, I received a going away postcard and bookmark from Sue and Irene, in Melbourne, whom I've never met, but who have been following our exploits via this journal.)

Tonight we had a riotious farewell dinner with Janne, Chris, Anne and Julie. It was absolutely the perfect way to bring this trip to an end. The high (or low) point was a riotious discussion about grammar school reading primers. In the States we had Dick and Jane (and Puff and Spot). Here they had either Dick and Dora or John and Betty and there was much discussion over the pets' names, with Chris finally getting up to go to the next table to take a poll. The waitress also weighed in on the subject.

When it was over, and I'd had my tearful farewell with Anne and Julie, the rest of us got into Peggy's car and these six old ladies went drag racing like old farts (not exceeding the speed limit) down the highway to home. We almost hoped we'd get pulled over by the cops just to see the look on their faces when they looked into the car.

But no. We made it back to Janne & Chris's without incident. They gave me a lovely book about Australia and we had a very heartfelt and tearful farewell. Peggy and I are spending the rest of the evening burning the final CDs and hoping they fit in the suitcase.

Then there is nothing else to do but get on the plane and head back over the rainbow and see what's lurking in my own front yard. It's been...amazing. I go home with a heavy, but a very full heart, a whole new circle of friends, wonderful memories and about a bazillion digital photos to (some day) get into slide shows.

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