The Cicada Shells

As a youngster I was an enormous nature lover – I spent most of my days looking under fallen leaves for beetles and breeding tadpoles every rainy season – so it’s no surprise that Harry Butler was one of my childhood idols. I believed he was magical because every rock or branch he turned over revealed an animal of some kind. I wanted to be just like Harry and never missed his show, In the Wild with Harry Butler.

One day my dad and I were in our backyard when he called me over and pointed to a small creature attached to a tree. It was hideous. It looked like a cross between a tarantula and a naked mole rat.

cicada in tree

To my surprise, my dad pulled it from the tree and held it out to me, as though I was supposed put my hand out to hold it. I looked at him like he was about to set me on fire and let him know, in no uncertain terms, that I would not be touching it anytime soon.

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My dad tried to convince me that it was harmless, that it wasn’t even alive and was, in fact, just a shell. But it was the creepiest thing I had ever seen and I refused to go near it. I didn’t believe it was just a shell; I thought it was alive and perfectly capable of biting off one of my fingers.

After many minutes of trying to convince me of its harmlessness my dad gave me a choice: I could either hold the cicada shell or I wouldn’t get to watch Harry Butler that night. I was devastated – it was like Sophie’s Choice!

I thought about how repulsive the cicada shell was and how much I loved Harry Butler. I cried and pleaded with him, but he was resolute. I came to the conclusion that my dad was the meanest dad alive.

Harry Butler

My love for Harry was so strong that eventually I closed my eyes, held out my hand and waited for my dad to drop the repulsive creature in it. Suddenly, I felt the lightest touch on my palm, it was like a feather. I opened my eyes and took a closer look – it really was just a shell! I was instantly fascinated. From that moment on I was the cicada queen (and I got to watch Harry that night).

Not only was I no longer scared of cicada shells, I would seek out the live nymphs, put them on my shirt and let them hatch on me. I would then wear the empty shells on my clothes like badges. Cicadas were the most fascinating creatures I’d ever encountered.

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One day I found an unusually large amount of cicada shells on a tree in our front yard and instantly had an idea.

cicada tree

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Dad, thanks for making me hold the cicada shell. Mum, you can blame dad for that one!

My Cat Has An Eating Disorder

For a long time I thought my cat was just wonderfully cuddly or wearing her winter fur, but after being asked if she was pregnant by at least nine people (including the guy who came to fix our bathroom tiles) I began to think that perhaps my perception was a little distorted.

There were definite signs that she had a problem.

Like the day we realised that our fish tank was just a big, glass pot-plant holder.

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It’s not like I haven’t tried to help her slim down, I really have, but she always finds a way to thwart my efforts.

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The other day I fed the cat and dog and, as always, I fed the cat on top of the dryer so the dog can’t eat her food. After a few minutes I heard growling and barking coming from the laundry. This is what I found:

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That’s right, apparently her food was just an appetiser and the dog’s food was her main meal. This discovery left me wondering two things; firstly, how many times has she done this without me knowing and secondly, why is my dog such a wimp?

So, I put my cat on yet another diet yesterday and I thought she was doing pretty well…that is, until I went to take the clothes out of the dryer.

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As I bent down to retrieve the toasty-warm clothes I heard footsteps thundering so loudly through the house that, for a brief moment, I believed it might be the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

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I was confronted with a full-on assault!

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My cat, in the mistaken belief that (because I was in the laundry) she was about to be fed, leaped through the air with such force that she butted me fair in the head, knocked me off balance and crashed into the box of laundry powder atop the dryer, spilling its contents all over the floor.

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She then attempted to look cute and ask for food.

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Although I know this diet is good for my cat’s health, I’m not so sure that it’s good for mine.

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Why Winter Sucks

Winter is approaching again and I am absolutely dreading it. Soon I’ll be rugged up on the couch, covered in blankets, while my whole family will be getting about in T-shirts and annoyingly insisting that, “It’s not that cold”.

For the entirety of the winter months my hands become like ice blocks and my skin turns to permanent goose flesh. In fact, I’m pretty much like that during the autumn months as well. Give me a hot, humid, summer’s day any day.

Here are some more reason why I think winter sucks:

My shoes don’t fit.

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The torturous decision each morning to end a steaming hot shower.

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The atrociously unsexy nightly attire.

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Getting into bed.

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Getting out of bed.

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Excruciating foot cramps brought on by the cold.

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I did manage come up with one good thing about winter…I always win at “icicle hands”!

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The SpongeBob Costume

It all started when my son, Daniel, brought home the latest school newsletter. They were having a costume day and the children were to come dressed as their favourite movie or television star. Having never made a fancy dress costume in my life I was immediately consumed with all-too familiar feelings of guilt and inadequacy.

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Then I had an idea. Surely there must be a way I could make a SpongeBob costume without sewing!

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So I jumped online and searched…

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It was going to be brilliant!

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I was so excited about the costume and my son and I were going to have a blast making it!

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Yep, I was pretty much the most awesome mother in the world. (Even if I can’t sew.)

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I couldn’t wait for school to finish.

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At first Daniel was thrilled. He loves doing arts and crafts and was really keen to get started on a project.

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I explained the project to him…

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but was totally unprepared for his reaction.

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I tried to sell it.

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But I knew he wasn’t buying it when he said:

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I didn’t let go easily.

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It was brutal.

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Don’t worry, I’ll get over it.

Eventually.

Without my Cat and Dog…

Our pets drive us crazy from time to time, but things are never boring with them around. Recently I got to thinking, what would life be like without them?

Without my cat and dog…

who would stalk me and make me feel important?

stalking_cat

who would kill the really big spiders?

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who would create an obstacle course for me when I come home from grocery shopping?

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who would kill the giant rat I didn’t know I had?

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who would make my yoga practice more challenging?

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who would alert me to the fact that a car door has been closed, somewhere?

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who would prevent the house from being overrun by plants?

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who would make our boring clothes look like expensive fur coats?

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…and, goodness knows, those tissues aren’t going to get ripped up and spread all over the house by themselves!

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Yep, life would be pretty crap without them.

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My Cunning Plan

I was a pretty naughty kid and got into my fair share of trouble. My real problem was that I just never fully thought things through. Like the day I found my little sister, Christie, emptying my favourite cereal onto the kitchen floor. She was having the time of her life.

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I was horrified! This was my favourite cereal in the whole world and it was being wasted! I was so mad! I was so shocked! I was so going to tell mum!

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I turned to go, when I suddenly realised that I had a real opportunity here to get my angelic little sister into a lot of trouble. The floor didn’t really look that bad, so the first thing I had to do was completely destroy the kitchen.

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I made a game of it.

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It was kinda fun.

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When I thought the kitchen looked bad enough I ran off to tell my mum. Christie was going to be in so much trouble. For once it would be her and not me; I would be the good child! Everybody would talk about the day that my sister destroyed the kitchen and wasted all that cereal. They’d talk about how naughty she was and shake their heads in despair. I could hardly wait for my mother to come and see what she had done!

I raced into mum’s bedroom and started shrieking hysterically about what Christie had done to the kitchen and how I had tried to stop her, but she was unstoppable in her rampage!

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My mother didn’t even look up from her magazine. She just said “Oh well, be a good girl and go clean it up.”

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Not only did Christie not get into any trouble, not only did I have to clean up what can only be described as clown vomit, but I was forced to eat boring, old Weet-Bix the next morning with the full awareness that it was my own stupid fault.

Brutal Life Lesson #2

I was one of those kids that chased anything that moved – bugs, lizards, birds, cats… I’d pretty much pick up anything that wasn’t fast enough to escape my clumsy, but well-meaning clutches.

So, when my parents took me to a beach that was covered in scuttling crabs I thought I had died and gone to heaven. There were literally hundreds and hundreds of the little beggars rushing about, popping in and out of little holes in the sand. They were so cute and I was having a blast chasing them around trying to catch them, when suddenly, I hit the jackpot! I found a huge crab and I wanted it so freaking bad.

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This crab seemed to know it was bigger than the others; it didn’t even try to run away from me. It just sat there – daring me to pick it up. Although I wanted more than anything in the world to do so, I was very aware of the size of its claws. So, I just stood there for a time trying to work out the best way to pick it up, while also trying to estimate the potential pain if those claws got a hold of me. As I was pondering these things a kindly old man wandered by and saw my dilemma.

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He explained to me that if I just reached from behind and picked it up with my thumb and index finger then the crab’s claws wouldn’t be able to reach my fingers. It sounded plausible; he seemed like a nice old man and why would a nice old man lie to me? Plus, old people knew stuff about the world. Now that I was armed with this new knowledge I decided to pick up the crab using the kindly old man’s technique.

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I picked up the crab feeling super confident. I turned the crab to face me so I could look at it closely. I was so cool – I knew how to pick up crabs! Suddenly the crab began to reach underneath itself with its giant claws. I didn’t care, because I knew how to pick up crabs!

 

Apparently the crab didn’t know about my special crab-picking-up technique because it casually reached under its belly, grabbed my index finger and pinched it violently until it drew blood. I let out a blood-curdling scream and flung the poor crab to the ground. The old man was nowhere to be seen and I ran off bleeding, screaming and crying to my parents.

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It was about another fifteen years before I understood their enormous amusement when I told them, while crying hysterically, that I was never, ever trusting an old person ever again!

Where did the old man go and what happened to the crab? Who knows?

I have a pretty good idea, though.

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You might also like Brutal Life Lesson #1

Brutal Life Lesson #1

I was not a pretty child when I was five. I had a really bad hair-cut, big, ugly glasses and, for several months, a giant, brown eye-patch over my right eye (to try and strengthen the left one – which didn’t work). I wanted so desperately to be beautiful. If I were beautiful people would love me and buy me presents and I would be a better person all-round. Yep, in my five year-old mind, life would be all rainbows and ice-cream if only I were beautiful.

I remember my first day of school very well because it was the day I saw the most beautiful girl I had ever seen in my life.

This is what she looked like.

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She had gigantic green eyes with long black lashes, long, jet-black, wavy hair and ivory skin. She looked like a princess and that was exactly how I saw her.

princess

I was incredibly drawn to her because, from everything Disney and every fairy-tale I had ever read had taught me, I knew that her nature would match her beauty. Why, she must be the kindest girl in the whole school! So, even though I was incredibly shy, I knew that she would be sweet and nice and set off immediately to introduce myself.

This is how it went down.

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By the way, if you think I’m exaggerating about how utterly goofy I looked, here’s my class photo from grade one.

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Socially Inappropriate Security Guard Guy

I’m pretty sure we’ve all met someone like him. He’s the guy who approaches you with what, at first, appears to be a simple, friendly greeting. You respond with an equally friendly greeting because, well, it’s polite (and you’re not a total bastard). However, after about four minutes of mind-numbing small talk, interspersed with disturbing, uninvited insights into his personal life, you realise you’ve been tricked. But by then it’s too late – you’re in a one-sided conversation with socially-inappropriate security guard guy.

I recently visited country Victoria to spend Christmas with my parents and my sister and her family. I was warned by my sister that a large number of inhabitants of a nearby town (which shall remain nameless) seemed to be “not quite right”. Intrigued by this information, my husband and I jumped in the car, and took our son and nephew along for the drive.

When we arrived we bought the kids some bakery delights and sat at a table on the sidewalk of the main street.

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This also happened to be the exact moment that socially-inappropriate security guard guy went on his smoke break. (I know back when I was a smoker and went outside for a cigarette, the first thing I always did was find some young children and light up right next to them.)

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Now, I tell you with no exaggeration that this man proceeded to talk non-stop for fifteen minutes. After what we thought was just going to be a pleasant (and brief) greeting we suddenly found ourselves held captive by a man who apparently had millions of things to say and not enough people to say them to.

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He didn’t care that we had stopped listening. He didn’t notice our uncomfortable body language. He didn’t see my husband and I exchange glances of disbelief. He was even oblivious to the fact that my son had somehow managed to swallow his loose tooth.

Socially-inappropriate security guard guy just kept on yammering while my husband and I attended to my son’s emotional distress. I eventually had to interrupt him, “Excuse me, my son just swallowed his tooth”. He barely even skipped a beat. That’s right, he just kept on telling us things while I tried not to vomit at the thought of swallowing a mouthful of chocolate eclair mixed with blood and tooth.

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Eventually we said goodbye to the insane, annoying security guard and drove back to my sister’s house to relay our adventures of the town nearby. The moral of this story? Don’t drive to the next town over in the hopes of finding people who seem “not quite right”, because you might actually find them.

Oh, and it is my firm belief that this is what happened after we left.

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