Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cooling Down

I think summer is at an end here in Perth.  The temperatures have shifted from the high 30s/low 40s to the low to mid 20s.  I hadn't really thought about it until the other day when I realized that I'd gone the whole day without having a drink of water.  A month ago one of the top five things on my mind was where my next cold drink was coming from.

 Some of you will smile and roll your eyes to hear me say that it feels chilly when it's 23 outside.  But compared to the heat of summer, it is chilly.  Especially in the early morning and evening.  And it has started to rain.  After months of cloudless skies we were hit with a deluge the other night.  It's really kind of refreshing.  I love chilly weather.  I love eating oatmeal for breakfast, I love seeing Peter bundled up in his footy pyjamas and sleeping with his knees pulled up under himself, I love snuggling with Eliot on the couch under a pile of blankets reading books, I love wearing scarves.  I could go on.  Summer was a lot of fun, but I'm looking forward now to our first Australian winter.

PS  Just in case you thought that we had perhaps gotten over the washing machine machine. ;)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

This is not what I had in mind when I said this would be an Adventure.

The other day I had quite a scare.  For a while now we’ve been hanging our trash bag from the ironing board—which is tucked along side our fridge—to keep it out of the reach of Little Ones.  Anyway, I was dashing about the kitchen getting supper prepared for Eliot and myself, while feeding Peter his supper, when I turned around and saw a black spider just inside the trash bag, just below eye level.  It gave me quite a start.  I took a closer look, however, and discovered that this wasn’t just any black spider, but a redback black spider.  The redback spider is Australia’s version of the black widow, and it is lethal (though no deaths have been reported since an anti venom was introduced in the late 50's).  My initial surprise turned into alarm and I quickly turned to my spider removal weapon of choice (the vacuum) and sucked that baby right up.  They say that spiders are more afraid of us than we are of them.  Well fine, but I’m not the one packing neurotoxin.  I’m just saying.

With shaking hands I finished feeding Peter, got him showered and to bed.  Then I called Merlene, my friend from church who is also my mom-away-from-mom, as well as a Perth native.  I was distressed.  I had been reassured, albeit by my fellow ex-pat friends, that the redback was pretty reclusive.  That it much preferred the quiet of dusty corners in abandoned shacks to the lights and noise of a human residence.  I also knew that, like the black widow, it was a slow, unaggressive spider that is happy to live and let live if left alone.  I was also kind of annoyed.  I knew for a fact that the exterior of our building had been sprayed for pests such as these, so why was there one hanging out in my trash!?  Anyway, Merlene was very reassuring and agreed to come over a day or two later to help me with the boys so that I could fumigate the apartment.  I hung up, put Eliot to bed, and got on with my evening.

I was sitting there, watching TV and obsessing about the spider trying to forget the whole thing, and I was puzzled as to why, and how, that spider had crawled up into our trash of all places.  I mean, trash isn’t really what spiders go for after all.  Then it dawned on me in one blood-chilling moment.  It hadn’t crawled up there.

I had put it there!

You see, our mailboxes are located some distance from the building along the road to allow the postman easy access.  These mailboxes have always creeped me out.  They have these little metal doors that swing shut and they keep out the rain, but not much else.  They’re dark and dirty and cobwebby.  In other words, just the sort of place you might expect to find a redback spider.  We had gone out to get the mail that day, all three of us.  I took tongs from the kitchen because I never put my bare hand in there, because of the aforementioned dark, dirty, cobwebs.  I remember thinking that it seemed particularly webby.  Freshly webby.  There was a lot of junk mail.  I pulled it all carefully out with the tongs and went back upstairs.  The junk mail went straight into the trash, evidently along with the redback spider (omg!), and we went merrily on with our day until my discovery at supper time.

So, the take home messages:
1    Fumigation is still continuing as planned.  You can never be too safe after all.
2    Spider spray is to be purchased and sprayed directly into our mailbox on a regular basis.
3    Mail is to be retrieved sans children and never with bare hands.
4    Mail is to be examined and brushed off before coming into the apartment.

Am I in danger of forgetting any of these things?  With the image of that spider branded on my frontal cortex?  Not likely.

I will say this:  as eyes-rolling-up-in-your-head creepy as the idea of me carrying that spider into the apartment is, it actually comes as quite a relief to know that it isn’t a case of redback spiders just waltzing into our home of their own volition.  After all, that spider was probably as unhappy to be there as I was to have it there.  At least now I feel like I’m in control of the situation moving forward, and that is a great comfort.  Though I can’t imagine I’ll be getting a great night’s sleep for a little while yet.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter!

This year we celebrated Easter a little early.  Spencer flew out for Paris on Friday afternoon, so we had our Easter Dinner on Thursday night and then Friday morning we held the festivities.

When I was a child, the Easter egg hunt tradition always involved a scavenger hunt.  This year Eliot was old enough to really get into it so I had prepared some plastic eggs around the apartment.  When he came out to breakfast he was given the first egg.  Inside was a clue that led him to the next egg, which held the clue to the next, and so on and so forth, until at last he was led to a cache of Easter treats hidden behind the couch.  He really enjoyed it, and the search took him to all sorts of interesting places; inside the fridge, under Mama's pillow, inside the washing machine, etc.

Peter didn't participate in the hunt, partly because he isn't old enough to appreciate it and partly because he is old enough to appreciate a little alone time with the toys while Big Brother was distracted with a scavenger hunt.  He did enjoy pulling his toys out of his Easter Bowl (I'd forgotten until the night before that we'd had to leave all of our wicker behind due to Australian quarantine rules) and though he didn't get a taste of Eliot's Easter Bilby, he did gobble up his fair share of hot cross buns.

As for the Easter Bilby, I had heard of it briefly before we moved here and leading up to Easter I started to see them in the store.  I bought one for Eliot and then asked a friend at church what the story was.  Evidently rabbits are not native to Australia and their introduction into the Australian ecosystem has seriously jeopardized some native species (a big issue for Australians as you can imagine).  So the native bilby was brought forward to provide an alternative to the pesky and environmentally dangerous Easter Bunny.  Whatever the issues behind it, Eliot sure enjoyed his Easter Bilby.  Part of the fun, of course, was saying 'Easter Bilby.'