Friday, February 20, 2009

Nature. Eeeeew.

Last night DP and I had a typically Australian experience. Or, perhaps more accurately, a typical clueless-expats-in-Australia experience.

To set the scene: we had all gotten back a bit late (ie after dark) from dinner with a work friend of DP’s and her partner. We came home, flipped on a few necessary lights, and began bustling between the bedrooms and bathroom to get Miss B ready for bed. When Miss B was bathed and in her pajamas, DP handed her off to me to help her brush her teeth and hair while he did a couple of other things, among which was to turn on some more lights in the living room.

Suddenly I heard a strangled voice from outside the bathroom door say, “Come out here. Now. Please.”

I walked into the living room to find DP staring fixedly at the TV set. Not another natural disaster? No, wait, he’s not staring at the TV set. He’s staring at the HUMONGOUS spider on the wall behind the TV set.

(I should mention here that DP, generally among the most fearless people I know, is a major-league arachnaphobic. Weenie Boston spiders are enough to make him hyperventilate, and the occasional jumbo spiders we used to see in England (jumbo by English standards—say, about 1.5 inches including legspan) practically gave him heart failure.

Thus, disposing of spiders is traditionally my job.)

People, this thing was easily 4 inches from leg-tip to leg-tip. Its body alone was well over an inch long. If I hadn’t known better, I would have said it was a skinny tarantula. However, I had been forewarned by our friend and landlord G. that we could expect to see Huntsman spiders around the place from time to time: brown, hairy, and horrifying. BUT: unlike most Australian spiders, harmless. Huge, but harmless.

But huge.

DP evaporated as soon as I entered the living room, ostensibly to read to Miss B and put her in bed. I stood there and stared at our uninvited guest, trying to figure out how I was going to get rid of it. You can’t exactly squash a four-inch spider with a tissue; for one thing, that would involve getting close to it. I was pretty sure G. had left some insecticide under the sink, but I couldn’t bear the thought of watching its chemically-induced death throes. In fact, I wasn’t sure I could kill it at all; any critter that big practically qualifies as an animal.

I considered knocking it into a shoe box, slamming on the lid, running out on to the porch and flinging it into the night; but again, too close. When DP returned to the living room, I had put a bucket on the floor underneath it and was standing there with a broom, nerving myself to knock it off the wall and into the bucket…hoping it would actually land there….

DP sussed what I was up to immediately. “That is NOT going to work,” he said categorically. “Give me that broom.”

And, taking a deep breath and conquering his most visceral fears, he stepped up into classic batting stance, and swung the broom with all his might.

I won’t go into any further gory detail except to say that that sucker took a lot of killing. When it was over, I disposed of the remains using an empty spaghetti box.

You may have guessed that I won’t be posting a recipe today. I’m kind of off my food at the moment.

Oh, and I haven’t posted a picture of the critter either (unless there’s one lurking in that gum tree). If you really want to see it in all its hairy majesty, follow the link above.


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