Sunday, October 16, 2016

The tale of the lap-dancing spider

* This is an edited re-post from my previous blog, Mummy Mayhem

Above is a photo of a Huntsman Spider that happily nestled itself in my sliding door the other day. As soon as the weather gets warmer here in Oz, it really is only a matter of time before one of these charming, large spiders come crawling in to your home and settle themselves somewhere in your house. 

Often you find them high on a wall towards the ceiling (they don't like vibrations, hence they usually position themselves far away from the floor), and, unfortunately, they seem to often like the powder room. By the time you realise it's there, it's too late: you're mid-wee, and you have no option (especially if you've given birth - three times) to finish and get the hell outta there. You keep one eye on your little friend, willing for it not to MOVE or, God forbid, JUMP (as they sometimes do), until you can make a haste exit from the room, vowing never EVER to go in there again.

I've had to call in Mr A's services on occasion to get rid of a Huntsman on our wall. His method is the old empty-ice cream-container-over-the-top with a piece of paper slid underneath, captured and then dumped back in to the garden. I've tried this method myself in the past, but couldn't even get the container over the spider without hyperventilating. I prefer the high pressured vacuum cleaner method myself. Ssssuuuuuck! Gone. *dusts off hands*

However, these massive and ugly creatures of God are smarter than you might think. One time, in our old apartment, Mr A humanely removed a visiting Huntsman with his container trick one evening, taking it down three levels to release it in to the garden, only for me to find it BACK the next day in the EXACT SAME SPOT it was captured from the night before! Well, ok, I can't prove it was the exact same spider, but really, what are the chances of that happening? I was convinced (still am) that the spider was messing with my mind. But I won. I used the vacuum cleaner that time. Take that, Huntsman.

But the worst meeting I ever had with a Huntsman was many, many years ago back in Perth after I collected the mail from the letterbox. I pulled out a nice little pile of store catalogues, took them inside and got comfy on the couch eager to sort through them. I arranged them neatly on my lap, slowly flicking through each one - leaving my favourite until last: the Target catalogue. I took my time, relishing each page, making a mental note of all I needed to buy in their latest sale, and then, as I turned over the last page, sitting on the back was the biggest, hairiest, scariest HUNTSMAN SPIDER I had ever seen!!!

I instantly THREW the catalogue high in to the air, leaping up as I did, and screaming for good measure. Then I ran around the house, frantically running my fingers through my hair in case the spider had landed in it, then promptly ripped off my clothes down to my just my bras and knickers. 

Finally satisfied the spider was not on me, I shakily fetched the vacuum cleaner, determined to get rid of the lap-dancing Huntsman.

As I positioned myself, having finally located the pest behind the couch where I had been sitting, Mr A walked in. He smiled - a sort of, Alriiiiight, I'm gettin' me some action kind of smile until I threw him a look of despair, and in an incredibly abridged version of the events that had just occurred (because time was of the essence), explained what had happened. Mr A took over. I insisted he suck the little bugger up, and that particular time, he obliged.

Note to all Huntsman Spiders: Don't mess with me. Me, and the vacuum, are at the ready. (Or, at least - and preferably - Mr A will be.)


Friday, October 7, 2016

Friends like these

I took the boys away down to the Southern Highlands of NSW with a friend of mine and her two boys last week for the first week of the school holidays. I've never done a trip like that before, ie without Mr A but with a friend instead. It was great - all our boys get along so well. My friend managed to find a house that had its own tennis court with a basketball hoop. Although the weather was pretty cool at times, the boys didn't care - they spent a lot of time out on that court. One day in particular was so sunny, and my friend and I sat underneath a pergola covered in vines and sipped coffee while the boys alternated between tennis and basketball. There's nothing I enjoy more than a chinwag with a beautiful friend while sipping on a cappuccino. Especially an uninterrupted one.

We did 'farm stuff' too, like feed the sheep in the hazelnut orchard, and take long walks in hope of spotting local kangaroos (we did) and to check out the cows, all while dodging animal poos galore and large wombat holes. Then there was the time we took a rather disastrous bush walk. We accidentally chose one that was close to a main road - during the walk we could hear traffic and spot local houses! Then less than ten minutes in, Eldest Son spotted a snake in the grass (that looked disturbingly like a brown snake - you know, just the second most venomous land snake IN THE WORLD) and promptly stopped to excitedly take a photo of it before sending it out to friends on Snapchat (as you do). My friend and I couldn't get out of that bush fast enough, and it didn't help that our boys were teasing us by making, 'Look - a snake!' comments, causing us to squeal and run through the remainder of the walk until we (thankfully) hit a clearing. Having decided after some lunch to take the nearby access road back to our cars instead of risking another meeting of the snake, Middle Son -  playfully chased by one of my friend's boys - managed to run straight in to a huge mass of mud, completely drenching his (only) pair of sneakers, and covering the back of his clothes in said mud in the process. *sigh*

My friend's beautiful eldest son offered the t-shirt off his own back for Middle Son to wear, and wore his mum's spare long-sleeved top instead so we could continue on to the beautiful surrounds of Milton Park (with Middle Son squeezed in to Youngest Son's thongs we thankfully found in the car) - a nice change of pace for us after our short, yet eventful, bush walk.

The biggest bonus of our boys amusing each other was that my girlfriend and I got to do a lot of talking. Whenever we get on the phone for a 'quick' chat, it's not unusual for a whole hour to pass. Even if we've already spoken to each other earlier in the week. We stayed at the farm for three nights and every night we chatted for hours and hours, warming our toes in front of the fire, sipping white wine and not once struggling with anything to say. We've been friends for almost twenty years now - we became friends pretty much from the moment she joined the bank where we both worked (where did the time go?). We attended each other's weddings and celebrated the birth of our children and supported each other through the death of our parent(s). (She lost her father just months after I did.) She remains one of my dearest friends today.

While we were down at the farm, the first anniversary of my dear Mum's death came around, and that morning I found a beautifully wrapped gift in my bedroom with a card attached. My friend had written some beautiful words of comfort for me, causing tears to well in my eyes - partly due to the memory of Mum's passing, of course, but also in recognition of the incredibly thoughtful gesture by my friend. I carefully unwrapped the shimmery, pink paper to find a beautiful candle inside.

As I write this, on the day of my mother's funeral held a year ago today, the candle is burning beside me in memory of her, thanks to my gorgeous friend.

I'm lucky to have a number of really good friends in my life. So lucky. There's nothing quite like a good friend, is there? And this one is one of the best. :)


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

One year ago

On this day a year ago, I said goodbye to my dear Mum. I think I've done pretty well this past year. I mean, don't get me wrong, I've definitely had my moments, but in general, I've both accepted and coped fairly well with Mum's death. Better than I did my dear Dad's, in truth. With Dad, I thought I was over the worst of my grief around the six month mark at the time, but looking back, I was fairly consumed by grief for a good year, perhaps more. It wasn't obvious grief. I wasn't breaking down and sobbing uncontrollably or anything, but it was grief-related, that's for sure. I've learned that grief presents in different ways sometimes. After Dad died, I spent a lot of time looking back on my past, especially my childhood, teens and late teens - even my early twenties - basically when I lived with my parents. I questioned decisions I made and friendships I'd formed and lost. I analysed past relationships. I saw the bigger picture. It's difficult to explain, but essentially I analysed stuff a lot. No stone was left unturned in my mind. Sometimes, that was rather taxing emotionally. I've always been a bit of an over-thinker, and thinking about everything became overwhelming at times.  

Then the day finally came when I realised that not only had I stopped analysing everything so much, but that I could also think about Dad and not feel sad anymore; instead I could smile at the memory of him. Embrace today, not live in the past. Corner turned.

However, within a month or two of reaching that inner peace with losing Dad, I found myself flying to Perth to watch my Mum die. I braced myself afterwards, assuming I would react much the same as I had after Dad's death. I even warned my boys of what was to come, 'Some days, I might just seem in a bad mood and you won't be able to work out why because I'll get upset at everything - it just might be because I'm missing Grandma, okay?' In fact, I assumed it might be worse. I was close to both parents, but my Mum and I always had a very special relationship, a particularly strong bond.

Yet, what followed sort of surprised me. Following Mum's death, I found myself looking more to the future than re-living the past, and I guess that may have a lot to do with the fact that there is a sense of calm knowing that my parents are together again - and with my sister, Valda. As they say, it is the circle of life. We all die one day, so it's important to embrace life and enjoy it until that day comes, right? If you want to do something, do it. If you want to feel something, feel it. Look back if you want to - sometimes looking back is the only way we can move forward - but don't forget to look ahead. There's so much more to come, am I right?

Certainly, I feel I have probably embraced life more so over the last year than perhaps I have in the past, or at least a very long time. I'm getting out in the sunshine more, writing more, living more, appreciating more. I have my down days, yes, but all the other days are pretty damn good.

Mum would be proud.

Love and miss you, Mum.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Loose ends

This is me, twenty-five years ago, standing in front of Windermere - England's largest natural lake. (Can you believe it was actually summertime when this photo was taken? Good ole English weather, eh?) I was almost a week in to a two-week road trip through the UK with two friends that immediately followed a fourteen-day Contiki tour through Europe with one of them. (Sorry, just to digress for a moment ... I wonder, when looking at this photo, why I'm wearing black socks with grey cotton pants and white shoes, and why didn't I push down one of the legs of my pants before the pic was taken? *sigh*)

Just before I left for my holiday, I had been seeing a guy. Although it was very early days, I quickly realised the relationship wasn't going anywhere; he was still hung up on his ex-girlfriend, and I was interested in someone else at the time (someone I had planned to see on the holiday). We quite openly discussed our feelings for other people. During one of those discussions, I pondered the point of us continuing the 'relationship' (for want of a better word - it hadn't gotten anywhere near serious - like I said, it was very early days), and he said, 'Go on your holiday, see how things go, then when you come back, we'll see where we're both at. At the very least we're friends, and friendship is the basis of any relationship.'

Wise words indeed, however it wasn't enough for me. I knew - in my gut - nothing was going to eventuate between us, and in truth, I felt uncomfortable going halfway around the world to visit someone while someone else was waiting for me back home. So one day when I found myself alone in a rental apartment that I was photographing for work (I worked for a real estate company), and noticed a telephone in the corner of the room and found the line was still connected, I called him. 'It's not working,' I explained. 'I just think it best we end it now, rather than drag things out.' After a short, respectful and kind discussion between the two of us, we were done, but vowed to remain friends.

I left that rental property finally understanding the whole 'weight lifted from your shoulders' concept. I'd allowed my first serious relationship to drag on and on, well beyond its expiry date, and I was so proud of myself for not doing that again. I knew that he was probably using my upcoming holiday as an excuse to prolong the inevitable, and perhaps once upon a time, I'd have done the same, but in the past, that hadn't worked for me.

Later in the evening in Windermere, after the picture was taken, I sat on the bed in our cosy B&B room and wrote a postcard to send to my ex. You see, his ex-girlfriend was from the same town. I knew he'd find the humour in it (and he did).

Although things didn't work out with the other guy either (something I kinda knew going in to it, but wanted to know for sure), I don't regret the decision to call things off with my ex. As the saying goes, Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

Maybe it's a Virgo thing, but I like things to be finished up neatly and I'm no fan of living with question marks hanging over my head. Tying up loose ends - of all types - makes me feel a gazillion times lighter, like I can start afresh and look to the future. Wipe the slate clean. I knew, getting on that plane to the UK, I was free of any future decisions, and I could just live in the moment, and importantly, my ex was able to do the same.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Look up

Many years ago now, I once had a conversation with an elderly lady who told me that you could see beauty in everything around you. All you had to do was look. The trees, the stars, the flowers, newborn babies ... beauty all around.

I see a lot of beauty on my paddling sessions. Birds flying low along the water, fish swimming underneath my board, distant trees swaying in the breeze, the way the sun glistens off the water. It's all so beautiful.

But sometimes, in every day life, I forget to 'look up'.

Like right now, you're reading this. Look up. What's around you? Your home, backyard, partner, child, pet? The view from the nearby window?

I was checking Facebook the other day, and as I looked up for a second, I saw the view pictured above. I don't think the photo quite captures it well - the colours in the sky reflecting over the water as the sun was setting really took my breath away, and I almost missed it - lost for a while in a virtual world.

It was a gentle reminder to look up. Sometimes the most beautiful things are right in front of you.