First, I must tell all that we appear to have nipped the previous problem in the butt. Not wanting to deal with laundry and bedding issues, we didn't bother treating the lice until we arrived in Bourke. Once here, all fabric items were washed in the hot water cycle or bagged and not to be opened for a few weeks. Before using the beds, we both treated our hair... and we each only had a single louse (Laurie's one and only). Of course, we'll have to re-check in a few days, but it would appear to be under control.
Wanna hear more bug stories?
We're quietly going about our evening routines last night, I'm in the living room on my computer and Laurie is busy in the bathroom. Suddenly she calls "Come over here and see this!" There she is pointing at the ceiling in the bathroom. And what do I see? I see the heat lamps with a light in the middle, all slightly lower than the ceiling... and a large black spider scurrying back behind the lights. (I think she said something about a large black spider, because I grabbed a glass to catch it on my way to the bathroom) It looks very similar to a black widow with it's red stripe down the back, and is definitely too large to catch with a glass. We both stand there and watch it for a while. What to do? I get the bright idea... It shouldn't be too hard to catch it, it keeps venturing out on the bare ceiling. The ceiling is about 8 inches higher than I can reach with my hands outstreched, so I head back out to the kitchen in search of an appropriate bowl. I grab a mid-sized mixing bowl that doesn't have a pouring spout so all sides will fit flush to the ceiling, and then grab a chair to stand on. I set myself up under the light and ready the bowl for the next time the spider comes into view. Sure enough it doesn't take long for it to come out, and I'm just fast enough to catch it with the bowl... except... I forgot to think this far ahead... how to get it and the bowl away from the ceiling without having it crawl out of the bowl onto me. I turn to Laurie and ask for a piece of cardboard. She knows exactly where to find it and returns in relatively no time. In the meantime, I'm playing with the spider, moving the bowl around to see how it reacts. It's one fast little thing, that's for sure. And it has no problem climbing the sides of the bowl. Anyways, I manage the capture without a bite or escape. The next issue is what to do with this thing. The thought of tossing it outside is rejected for fear of a return. So, down the toilet it goes. Don't worry, we now look before we sit, just in case.
I looked it up (like any of you doubted I could resist the urge to know exactly what I was dealing with), and found out it's definitely a red-backed spider, common throughout Australia, especially in summer. (and it's closely related to the Black Widow) The bite can kill small children, but tends to be more of an extremely painful and symptomatic annoyance for the rest of us.
As you guessed, we have arrived safely in Bourke. Our quarters are fantastic! I couldn't believe it, but we actually have a house to ourselves. They termed it a "cabana". They have five of them in this fenced-in area behind the hospital, I was jokingly calling it our little nursing commune. Basically the cabana is a little two bedroom, one bathroom place with a open livingroom, diningroom, kitchen. Fully furnished, including bedding and towels, and some food and cleaning supplies left behind by the last tenants. We have a front porch with two chairs and a table, a small backyard with a clothesline. There's a washing mashine and large sink(no dryer) in a small room that opens onto the backyard. There's a TV, VCR and DVD player, two couches, a table with four chairs, an iron, a kettle, a microwave, a stove and oven, a toaster... and we both get double beds and large 8 foot long closets. It's far more than we expected. And the weather? You don't want to be outside between 11 and 4, unless you enjoy walking around in a sauna. :D We're in the midst of the worst drought in 100 years (Midday temp averages around 40 degrees celcius dry heat, we see large dark clouds drift on by every night). We'll see how long we last before we wither.
I should go, I'm using the manager's computer, she's really great, but I have to come over and invade her house to use internet, so I should let her have tea. (Here they call supper "tea" and "supper" means a snack before bed. "Entree" is the appetizer.)