Category Archives: Environmental Musings

BYO (Anti-Venom That Is)

English: Sydney funnel web spider

English: Sydney funnel web spider (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another ‘American living in Australia‘ experience has prompted me to post…

My poor husband. Truly there are times where he marvels that our country is so heavily populated. How so many more of us haven’t perished from a spider/box jellyfish/crocodile/shark or snake bite defies logic for him. The fact that we have so many deadly creatures is one thing, but this recent development to him was going way too far.

It was announced on the news recently that there was an anti-venom shortage for the funnel web spider bite. For those of you that don’t know, the funnel web spider is the deadliest in the world and is found well, pretty much everywhere people are also found en mass. As you can imagine this creates quite a problem.

My (apparently incorrect) assumption was that ‘they’ (being those anti-venom experts) had some kind of breeding center where they bred these nasty beings and milked them for their venom. I’m not suggesting that I’ve come up with some kind of ground breaking solution or anything, but to all those funnel web experts out there, you might want to consider this option in preference to the ‘solution’ (and I use that term loosely), you offered below.

Surprisingly this is not the case. Given that there is no such facility, along with the announcement about the anti-venom shortage was also a rather detailed segment on the prime time news explaining what we as good citizens can do to help alleviate this problem. In short, they were asking regular Australian citizens to catch funnel web spiders, and all they were suggesting we do it with was a cup, a piece of cardboard, and a well-written will in hand. (I lie the will was never mentioned,  an oversight no doubt.)

It was this segment that I found my husband watching in horrific disbelief.

You must watch the clip, it’s really quite laughable and only 2 minutes long. (Note how he moves the cup so calmly when the spider looks to be headed in a different direction – 2 inches from his hand!!)

How to catch the worlds deadliest spider – with a cup and a piece of cardboard.

Being a good Aussie girl I myself watched this segment with relative disinterest thinking back to all the times my father had searched the yard for these notorious killers when we were kids, pouring mineral turpentine into their holes, lighting a match and throwing it into the hole before walking away in search for his next victim. I never thought much about this, his obvious duty was to protect his family and this was the safest and most efficient way to get the job done. Funnel webs were an unpleasant part of life, but not one that I gave much thought to – until now.

Hubby looked at me when the segment ended in absolute disbelief. “That would never air on the prime time news anywhere in America” he exclaimed; “In fact I doubt it would air for any reason, ever, anywhere in America! That’s the kind of advise that would end up in lawsuits by the thousands!”

I pondered this for a moment and came to the conclusion he was right. That said, I also don’t think too many Americans would choose to play with such a dangerous creature even if the segment were to go to air – unfortunately there is a large population of (mostly) young men here in Australia who seem to be er.. mentally challenged in such areas. That segment essentially endorsed stupid and dangerous behaviour, they would be most happy to comply.

No doubt this is why you saw the very clear direction from the expert on not allowing dad (read: men) to perform this task. As you can see, the one positive my hubby took out of this whole clip was that he wasn’t expected to catch the spider – in fact it was deemed that both children and dads should stay away from these deadly creatures. It seems that us ‘mums’ are either strangely resistant to the bite of such a spider, or perhaps perceived as just a little more dispensable. (I’m fairly sure which, and I don’t appreciate the insinuation!)

This whole ‘population rescue’  that us mothers are supposed to make, is all contingent of course on the fact that we aren’t bitten by this worlds most deadly and notoriously agressive spider in the process! Which, ironically, would require the need of an anti-venom that is already in direly short supply.

Is it not enough that we are almost solely responsible for populating the world, and now we’ve been lumped with the responsibility of keeping you all alive as well? Something seems very wrong with this picture if you ask me.

I did find a special kind of pleasure in hearing him say in the post script portion of the segment “The one you catch may save your child, mother, friend or relative.” Notably, he neglected to mention that the one you catch could also end up being the one that causes demise of your own being.

Gotta love the Australians it’s such a small detail, no need to mention it and get people all all worked up over nothing.

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The Real Blog Post (Not The 7-year-old Clicked Publish Before I Was Done, Post)

English: Sydney Harbour Bridge from Circular Q...

Image via Wikipedia

***Apologies to those that received an unfinished version of this post earlier today. My son was playing around on my computer and I had my account open and somehow he hit the “publish” button. (Note to self: lock the office door when I am not around, to avoid nervous breakdown and desire to strangle child)***

I can’t believe we are this close to the end of year! We have now officially been living in Australia for just over 1 year and my husband and son are starting to jive with the culture and seem a little less out-of-place.

A few weeks back we took a trip to Sydney.

Our first stop was my Holistic dentist where I had my last two mercury fillings removed. Not the most fun thing to do, nor was it as bad as I had anticipated. An excellent practice, incredible staff and safely getting rid of those toxins once and for all, made for an all-out pretty pleasant day and they we’re done in under an hour – impressive!

Next stop was our hotel in Double Bay.

One of the most affluent suburbs (often referred to as Double ‘Pay’), it is also an incredibly beautiful place with designer shopping, quaint cafes and bars, located (as is indicated by its name) in a bay on Sydney Harbour.

It’s only a short train or ferry ride into the city (great for kids)  – for those of us not wanting to pay Sydney’s $50+/day parking fees. (That would be me.)

Double Bay, (Sydney) Australia. I took this photo as we were heading out of the bay towards Sydney Harbour on the ferry.

Even as a former Sydney-sider, I delight in taking friends and family members on a ferry ride on the Harbour. There is something completely magical about it. I have lived in a number of places over my lifetime and so many of them have that “special something”. Sydney’s “special something” is its Harbour.

As we boarded our ferry along with the business people on their way to work, I wondered how great it would be to sit outdoors in the sunshine with the sea-air blowing in your hair as you traveled your mode of ‘public transport’ to work – not too shabby!

The Harbour Bridge in the Distance, Taken From The Ferry

We then took in some of the sites of Sydney and had a blast, I highly recommend spending time in your “home” city as a tourist. Stay at a hotel, see all the sites and you may be surprised at how cool it is and what’s on offer!

Charlie Chaplin Reincarnated?

The Big Smoke

We started by wandering down “The Rocks” area, it’s on the edge of the Harbour, full of historic buildings, Australian artifacts, tourist shops, artwork etc. I love the rocks, its quaint and historical.

"The Rocks"

Next we watched an aboriginal play a didgeridoo on the foreshores of the Quay. (HA!) This guy is about as “authentically aboriginal” as I am.

I’m not saying he doesn’t have aboriginal heritage, but I promise you, he goes home to his big screen TV, and judging from his pecs, he eats plenty of McDonalds and drives his 4wd to ‘work’ everyday.

But, the tourists love it. (As did my son and husband. I just snorted in disgust and took photos for my blog. Note the gold rimmed glasses. My husband named him “Kanye Dundee” )

"Kanye Dundee"

We took a walk to Darling Harbour (about 25 minutes walk from Circular Quay – where the Sydney Harbour Bridge is located), and discovered a cool playground with a mammoth climbing structure (amongst other things), that my husband declared. would never exist in any playground in America.

His reasoning? “It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen”. We wouldn’t sue here, we’d just brush little Billy off after his fall and tell him he’s “fine”, and to “stop complaining, you’re scaring the other kids.”

Regardless, it proved hugely popular with the kids, including ours who in this photo is perched on the top left.

"Lawsuit Waiting to Happen."

Next to the playground was a water park that had an awesome array of lessons. How water works, ways to pump, divert, spray and more. It was the perfect place on a warm summers afternoon and we spent hours there.

Cool toes on a hot day can only be a good thing!

The afternoon had worn on and we left the water park behind.

Father and Son Are Insperable!

On our way out of Darling Harbour we saw Santa trying to escape the city unnoticed.

Someone needs to tell him when you are this big and jolly, incognito is not really possible.

We decided to walk back down to the Circular Quay (where the Harbour bridge and ferries are located) to eat. On our way we passed a floating Sunglasses Hut store, my husband thought it was ingenious.

The ultimate transferable store

And motorbike parking that was markedly cheaper parking (reason to own a motorbike when living in the city).

We grabbed a quick dinner at Mad Mex, a place my husband had been dying to visit since we moved to Australia. It had rave reviews as fast food Mexican, and as we haven’t found any decent Mexican in Australia ( I don’t think Mexican restaurants even existed here when I left to move overseas in 2000), he was desperate.

It was as good as he hoped it would be and their frozen margaritas were as authentic as any we’ve ever had. The most spectacular thing was the Corona beer bottle chandelier, something we had never seen before, but a totally cool idea!

We decided to put an end to the day and caught the train back to the hotel, much to our 7-year-olds delight.

"Train Expectation" - Town Hall, Sydney, Australia (Iphone Photo)

All in all, we had a fun day, and after a good nights sleep, we took on the city again the next day!

________________________________________________________________________

While I was on my SIBL (Self-imposed Blog Leave), my all-time favorite red-haired blogger (C’mon Carrie, don’t be thinking you’re the only red haired blogger, their must be plenty!)  had a surprise waiting for me when I returned.  A blog award!

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m pretty un-talented. I’m not good at much of anything, which has resulted in a gaping empty space in my awards cabinet (What? It’s weird to buy and awards cabinet in the hope that it will karmic-ly cause awards to be bestowed upon you?? Apparently NOT, because it worked!)

No more!

Carrie from A Sassy Redhead has broken my 37 11/12th years drought, and given me an Liebster Blog award that I will be forever grateful for.

(That one in Kindergarten for “best talker” doesn’t count because we all know what was the five -year-old equivalent of a backhanded compliment from the teacher).

(In all seriousness, Thank you Carrie, you rock! )

(And not just because of this.)

(Really)

My job is to now send you on your way, to explore the wonders of five other awesome bloggers with less than 200 followers who deserve your support. So this I shall do, as I bid you adieu.

1. The Unknown Cystic – He and I get each other. (Which kind of sucks for him, because I’m pretty odd.)

2. Fifty Four and A Half – She is the most interesting writer, and she uses her age in the title. Being another person that cares not a whit about telling people my age, I think this rocks  – and that’s all before you start reading her awesome blog!

3. Spit and Spirits – He doesn’t post as much of late, he’s getting married and preparing to be under the thumb (kidding!!) but his posts are awesome, and he assures me he will be back, so you gotta love you some Jake J Fox.

4. Good Food 4 All – I just found this blog in the past few days. It’s awesome, all about toxins in our day to day life, organic living etc. For all those that don’t know I’m a closet hippy (if you want to see more of my activist-hippy side you can check out  Natures Conspiracy or This Dish Is Veg). Before you do check out GF4A.

5. Meg’s Simple Life – Meg has a family friendly blog about life, love and family. It’s wholesome, interesting, and she seems sweet as pie.

(Note to Mark at Yelling Near You. Wanted to add you, but I couldn’t because Carrie stole you first.)

She has it coming now…

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And The Mouse Made Four

Previous Freddo Dairy Milk design (12g)

The delicious Freddo Frog (Image via Wikipedia)

The evening after Halloween, kiddo asked me if he could have some left-over chocolate Freddo’s. I nodded in the affirmative and moments later, he brought me the whole bowl – asking why so many of the wrappers had been torn, and the chocolate eaten.

It turns out we have a mouse.

A mouse that favors Cadbury Chocolate Freddo Frogs.

Of course I was horrified at the mere thought of a mouse running around my kitchen while I slept, and out came my trusty humane trap, something I have used previously to deal with such incidences.

Regular traps just aren’t an option for me. The idea of waking in the morning to find a dead mouse splayed out with a metal rod across its back is too much for me to bear – and the alternative thought of it not actually being dead, just suffering endlessly until I have to hit it with a brick or something – well, I simply cannot imagine.

We have a deal in our house – I can use humane traps and my husband will empty them for me – far, far, away from our home. Our house backs up to a reserve of forest-type land (an area kept protected for the wildlife), and as a result we see the occasional field mouse.

My husband set the trap with chocolate inside (since this was obviously the mouse’s poison of choice), and I put the bowl of remaining chocolates up high, away from the place where the mouse first tasted the decadence.

The next morning the trap hadn’t been touched, but the bowl had once again been raided! I was incensed! I triple-sealed the remaining untouched chocolates in zip-lock baggies and went about my day, as hubby left on a business trip.

To be honest I forgot all about the trap, until last night.

I turned off my light at about 12:30am and prepared for sleep, it wasn’t more than 15 minutes later that I heard someone trying the handle of our front door – or so I thought.

A strange jiggling sound had me on high alert (granted it would have to be the loudest burglar in the history of the world, but that’s all I could figure). I got up and turned every light in the house on, as I checked all the doors.

Nothing.

All had gone quiet and I went back to bed, perplexed.

Of course it started again, and it was so loud, it sounded exactly like someone trying to get into the house! I went checking again and nothing! I repeated this one last time, and this time I picked up my iphone as I lay in my bed hearing this strange noise and I turned on my voice recorder to record it.

What I was doing, I can’t tell you. If I were to be found dead in my bed, the cops would all be shaking their heads…“she had time to run for her life, but instead chose to lay in bed and record the burglar coming to attack, what was she thinking?”

Apparently people do strange things when they are tired and perplexed. And by people, I mean me.

A few minutes later I remembered the trap and considered the possibility that it had something to do with the noise. I ventured to the cupboard and sure enough the trapdoor was closed, signalling entrapment.

I was terrified – much more terrified than if it had been a masked burglar. I was all for ‘saving the mice’, but I didn’t want to have to be actively involved in the disposing of them.

This is why one finds a husband. Rodent removal, diamonds, and to teach sons how to pee.

I went back to bed hoping that now I’d figured out what it was, I could ignore the mouse and get some sleep and my 7-year-old could deal with it for me in the morning (parenting at its best).

The subsequent noise was incredible. Reaching a crescendo of epic proportions this mouse had clearly decided to throw itself with all its weight at the trapdoor, time and time again, in the hopes it could break free – at least that’s all I could figure.

I felt vaguely sorry for it as I imagined its fear and desperation. I threw a pillow over my head and willed myself to sleep.

Moments later, the kiddo woke up from the deafening noise and called out to me, asking what was going on. I told him to go back to sleep and I gritted my teeth and told myself that I was going to have to deal with this – there was simply no other option.

THE MOUSE IS IN HERE RIGHT NOW!!!

I opened the cupboard door and gingerly picked it up (making sure to keep the oh-so-important door sealed) and headed for the front door.

As I opened the door, the dog pushed past me and ran out. He had seen a kangaroo (they often feed on our lawn at nights), and was now taking off down the street in chase.

The culprit.

I broke into a run of my own, all the while doing the yisper (you know that thing you do when you are yelling; “get back here now!!” But you have to do it in a loud whisper, because its 3am and you live on a super quiet street in a cul-de-sac, and you don’t want to piss off the neighbors?)

Your mind is yelling, but your voice is loud-whispering. Yisper.

So this is what it’s come to.

A kangaroo being chased by a labrador, being chased by its owner (while balancing a trapped mouse), at 3am down a quiet, suburban street.

We chased  each other through 3 gardens, 4 yards, an empty block of land, past a “Koala Corridor” sign and over a roundabout. At which time I realized I was a more than a street away from my home, my 7-year-old was alone asleep in bed, it was 3am and I was in my pyjamas with bare feet, holding a trapped mouse.

(It’s stories like these that get people arrested. “No officer, I wasn’t going to streak or break-in, I was chasing-my-dog-chasing-a-kangaroo-holding-my-mouse. I just didn’t have time to get dressed.”)

Logic took over and I turned around.

The dog would have to work his way back – thankfully the kangaroo is way faster than the dog anyway – he would soon realize it was a hopeless cause.

I got to my driveway and looked at my trapped mouse (who probably had awful motion sickness by now).

I set down the trap in the forest area opposite our house, lifted the trapdoor back…and ran like hell back to the house. As I did, I heard the door fall again and I realized he wouldn’t be able to escape this way. The mechanism that makes this humane trap work is based on the principal of a sea-saw.

When he walks towards the door, the contraption tips and the door closes. There was no possible way the mouse could get out without me standing there and tipping him out – and that couldn’t happen with my phobia and history of bad-ass luck – if I did that, he’d be sure to turn and run over my foot and up my leg and I might have a heart-attack.

I couldn’t believe that my nightmare wasn’t over yet, and now I was going to have to start a damn craft project!

I made a decision and headed back to the house and returned outside, bringing a tape dispenser out with me. As I sat on the roadside rigging my plan in my pyjamas, I thought about what a complete idiot I would look like if someone saw me.

I placed two large pieces of tape to the front of the door and got ready and pulled back the door and taped the remaining ends to the back of the trap, all  in one swift motion …and hightailed it back inside the house.

I never looked back (until this morning when the kiddo wanted to know what happened to the trap and I pointed to the other side of the street as we left for school).

This was my blissfully empty trap the next morning. Ready for reuse! All for the bargain price of $2.49

Later, I thought about how much crap my hubby was going to get from me when he got home, for being away on the one night this all had to happen. One night a year that he has to be “the man of the house” and deal with a mouse – and he’s not around for it!

Typical.

I’m thinking of trying to get a refund for him. “Excuse me sir, mines not working, he doesn’t do what he’s supposed to – whats the return policy?”

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Eco-Nails

My nails are pathetic. I eat an almost exclusive organic diet, no sodas, no junk foods, no processed foods, nothing delicious ever. OK, that’s a little extreme, there are delicious things that are not junk or processed, but you know what I mean. Still, my nails are shameful.

As much as I hate what the likes of KFC and McDonald’s stand for, their terrible treatment of the animals they use in their production, the use of High Fructose Corn Syrup (soon to be named ‘corn sugar’ I hear, in the hopes that we are all stupid and wont put two and two together and figure out is just as hideous for us), and the fact that each bite of a burger is a heart-attack waiting to happen, I cannot deny that I love a good filet-o-fish, or a piece of the Colonles original recipe.

I will say though, that I do not indulge. At least I haven’t in at least a year. That’s right, I fight the urge like a crack addict recently released from rehab. I white knuckle it. So props to me, right? Props to me for putting those suffering animals and my body first.

Here’s the thing though. For all the healthy eating, the sulphate-free, petrochemical-free shampoos and aborted-baby-free face creams, the non toxic ways I rid rodents from my home, you would think, you would think, that I could get some luxuriously healthy, long nails out of the deal. But nooooo… that would be too much to ask from the Gods of beauty, I guess.

My nails are feeble, they break at the drop of a hat, rip if I grow them past my cuticle, and when they do grow 1/4mm, they are all growing at different lengths anyway and look hideous. So here’s my dark secret. I am a member of the ‘tacky acrylic nail club’. Yes, really. I do have the lady do them short and as natural looking as possible, but I’m still in the club, there’s just no denying it.For all my eco-friendly talk, I wear toxic crap on my nails. How hypocritical is that?

I despise ‘fakeness’. Fake boobs, fake lips, fake surprised-look-on-your-face-have-you-had-a-face lift….like, yesterday? No, let me clarify. I’m not judging those that go in for a little lift here and there, those that are trying to help mother nature along a little, what’s it to me? I don’t care what they do…I wouldn’t do it, but to each his own, right?

I’m talking about those obviously fake people who get everything possible done and then when they have it all done they go in for something called ‘vaginal rejuvenation’. Really, it exists, look it up (I couldn’t bring myself to link to it here). It’s really not to late for your 65-year-old husband to get himself a 18-year-old young thing after all, and he doesn’t need to leave the house to do it. Who knew?

And whats worse, they look at the likes of you and me and compare themselves and expect me to compliment them on “how good your look for your age”. C’mon people, you don’t look good, your surgeon does great work (or not). There is a world of difference. My 6-year-old can work that one out.

I digress. Where was I? My nails. I want to walk the talk, I really do, but my pride. (yes I said it) wont let me walk around with stubby, pudgy, short, uneven, nails. It just wont. So I wrestle with it on occasion. Like now.

And then as I contemplate this, I leave the store with my reusable, recycled bag. Its filled with my lunch of organic, gluten-free, pesticide-free, animal cruelty free, humus filled, sustainably grown vegetable wrap and my BPA-free, aluminium bottle of water that was filled at home from my faucet.

I mull it over a little more as I sit down to eat, on my bamboo-grown chairs and place my food on my recycled wooden table.

Somehow, I think I’m doing OK.

(you can check out all PETA is doing here, great organization!)

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Elephants Killed By Train. Family Members Seen Mourning.

If this article doesn’t make you think – not just about the suffering our modern world has on such magnificent wild animals, but about the fact that these creatures are thinking, feeling animals, animals who have relationships and mourn their losses – I don’t know what will.

The article details how 2 baby elephants got stuck while trying to cross some train tracks in densely bushed area. 5 Adult elephants rallied around the calves to protect them from the oncoming train. All 7 animals were killed – 5 instantaneously and 2 after much suffering. The remaining elephants stayed near the bodies for days in mourning.

Please support organizations like WIRES, PETA, WWF and more around the world so we can do all we can to stop a tragedy like this from ever happening again.

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