Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Day 87

Spiders. Standard Operating Procedure in Australia. Many of them are big and hairy, others are just your garden variety, some have stripes and others are multicoloured. Most of them aren’t poisonous but quite a few are and the red back and funnel web will kill you with their venom. But it is SOP so we take them in our stride.

Not so for my good Pennsylvanian friend who brought her family to our fair shores last Christmas. Cathy asked me before she came out if there would be spiders in her bedroom. Of course not! I did suggest she don’t sleep with her mouth open though just in case. Well, we have one type of spider who is particularly scary looking – big and brown and hairy – but totally harmless. The Huntsman. We hadn’t had any indoors for nine months or more but Murphy’s Law dictated that on her first night there was one spanning our clock in the family room. We promptly caught him and put him outside but that was enough to have her stripping her bed every night, lifting her pillows, rattling the curtains and generally leaving no surface unturned in case one decided to sleep with her.

We had three enormous spider stories that Christmas for her to take home and share with her friends. She peed her pants in every episode and declared never to return.

The second incident was actually quite amusing. Both families, all eight of us, were piled into the “fun bus” (aka the Kia Carnival) and about to leave a coastal carpark for a trip to the beach when I spotted a spider the size of my hand span sitting above Cathy’s husbands head – right on the ceiling of the car. The extent of an emergency is measured by the incident + the public hysteria. So I quietly asked Derek to pull back into our car space and turn off the engine. But Cathy spotted the villain and started hyper-ventilating which of course prompted the screaming to start and even I, while not overly sensitive to the eight legged furry, started screaming right along side of her. Needless to say the spider thought this was all a bit too much carry on so dropped from the ceiling into the door cavity to find some solace. So we then spent the next thirty minutes trying to find the spider. Relief came many hours and a full drive to the beach later when the spider emerged on the outer door and a quick flick of a stick had him hurtling towards the great outdoors.

The third episode was reminiscent of a horror film. I had the kids doing craft and went to get my painting box only to realise I had previously put the lid on complete with mummy Huntsman inside who, unable to escape, had given birth in amongst my art supplies. I was unaware of this of course until I took the lid off in my kitchen and jumped when THOUSANDS of crab like specks came spilling out of the box and all over my kitchen floor. Now I screamed like a Banchee which produced a flow on effect until the whole house was howling in terror. We managed to stomp on the poor infants and spray the remainder, then took the box outside to extract mummy from her nest. Poor mummy was now childless and I felt awful. But what are you gunna do?

So why am I reminiscing about the big spider events of 2008? Because yesterday as I hung the family beach towels around the back deck I was faced with terror as my little Darby stared in extreme fear at me and managed to squeak out “Mummy, you have a spider on your back”. It was not the prospect of the spider that had me react, because I figured it would just be a small little garden thing, but it was the look in his eyes. The terror of a witness to an unspeakable crime complete with speechless stammer. So without knowing the severity of the situation I started to scream blue murder and did a jig, a hop, a jump and shake around the back deck which dislodged the spider in time for me to see a spider the size of a freakin’ mouse run across the floor boards to the safety of the garden. Shit. As I nursed my sore throat and pounding head (screaming at that frequency will do that to you) the only comment I got from the mob inside was “we didn’t have time to get out our cameras!” No sympathy whatsoever. They weren’t at all disturbed by my spider brooch. Yep, standard operating procedure here in the land of Oz. But don’t let that deter you! Other than the spiders, the snakes and the deadly sea creatures, it’s a bloody great place to live.

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