Possum paradise and next stop on the knitting trip around the world …

Before we arrive at our new destination I have to share these photos of one of our resident possums. We are having the three big Fleas and partners and assorted little fleas over on Saturday to go through the various bits of furniture, books, junk etc we are not taking with us in the move. As Grandpa Flea was going around the house “making an inventory” (isn’t that like a man , I was just going to make a list! ) we moved outside to the area referred to as “under the house” – it’s actually an open carport under the house. On a raised concrete area to one side, various tools etc are stored and also the junk we didn’t want in the house while we were “open for inspection”. There, just cuddled up in a ball on the cold concrete floor, in amongst the various bits and pieces, was a fat furry bundle of possum.
It woke up and had a bit of a scratch,
decided we were only nuisance value, not a threat, and then went back to sleep again.
Today our magic flying shawl is landing in Scottsdale, Arizona where Rachel lives. Aaahh, I remember it well! It was the spring of ’85 and I had a fifteen year old boy who thought all females were the devil’s spawn, and a thirteen year old, rebellious girl in tow on our first ever overseas trip. We had just come from the Grand Canyon where the 15 year old had bought a book on walking in the Canyon. His favourite part was the page where it warned against taking menstruating women with you, as bears have a very keen sense of smell and are liable to give chase and eat everyone for breakfast. This fitted perfectly with his (then) views about women and if he read the page aloud once, I swear he read it out a hundred times. This did a lot to ease tensions between the siblings (ha ha) not to mention with their long-suffering mother!

Grandpa Flea had flown off to Houston or somewhere on business and left us to our own devices with a rented car. We stayed in a motel/hotel in Scottsdale. This was spring, remember, early May, and the temperature was about 50 Celsius – it was HOT. It was even too hot to swim in the pool! We were all very nervous about being in the US and even more so without the biggest male of the family to protect us (we’re not stupid – we’d heard about the range of various violent crimes, race riots and serial killers that lurked around every corner).

The first day we were there I had to visit the doctor as my ears had started to give me terrible pain on the flight from Australia and then on the internal flight to Phoenix. And I mean PAIN. So we spent most of the first day in the emergency department of some hospital, where I was tagged around the wrist and put in a bed with the sides pulled up while the kids loitered forlornly in the corner. Eventually a doctor came and explained to me that I had a pressure build up in the middle ear, and he would have to bore little holes in my eardrums!!! – if I didn’t have this procedure, my eardrums would burst and it would probably leave me partially deaf. Now, I’m a coward and I don’t mind admitting it. There was no way I was going to have holes bored in my eardrums by some strange man in some strange hospital in some strange city while I was responsible for two kids and had no Grandpa Flea there to hold everything together. To be honest, there was no way I was having it done – period. So after much “discussion” and dire warnings, I was sent on my way with some antibiotics, but not until after I had signed a waiver acknowledging that I had been WARNED and if anything happened to me, it would be ALL MY FAULT. Oh, I also had to pay for the consultation, the drugs and TEN MINUTES OF HEALTH EDUCATION.

I had desperately wanted to drive out to the Organ Pipe Cactus National Park, but it was so hot that I was too anxious to go – I was worried that if we broke down and managed to escape the resident and transient murderers, that we’d die of heat exhaustion. Instead we lingered in the hotel room all the next day and eventually went for a walk downtown in the late afternoon. I bought myself a necklace in one off the shops and we bought a few trinkets for the rebellious one’s friends back home.

Later, we set out to drive to some restaurant on the top of a hill with a beautiful view. It’s main claim to fame seemed to be that if you wore a tie there, they cut it off and pinned it to the ceiling with the hundreds of others snipped from hapless customers. We drove around for what seemed like hours – hopelessly lost and me getting increasingly anxious. In the end we stopped at a some sort of chain restaurant, where we had one of the most memorable experiences of our trip (I’m like Roxie – easily amused!). We were trying to order our food and drinks from a waitress who spoke with some sort of broad Arizonian accent. We had trouble understanding her, and she didn’t understand us at all! but there was goodwill on both sides. We were trying to establish if the orange drink on the menu was a fizzy drink or a cordial type drink, or fresh juice (my kids were fussy!). After several attempts, the answer was ” Well, ah cain’t say yais ‘n ah cain’t say no, ‘cahs ah don’t rahtly know what y’all tokking abaht”. We still laugh about it. So much for English being a universal language.

Scottsdale (as it was then) reminds me a bit of Noosa – it seemed to be a tourist destination for the seriously trendy and well-to-do. Is it still like that, Rachel? It was very charming but I’d only ever visit there again in the dead of winter. With a bit of luck it would only get to 40deg.Celsius!

Back on the magic shawl and home to Australia. Next post we’ll visit Janette, Kate and Miss Fee.


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