Tag Archives: Dave Barry

‘My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far I’ve finished two bags of M&Ms and a chocolate cake. I feel better already.’ Dave Barry.

Molly - Day 1

Molly – Day 1

When she first came to live with us Molly weighed 3.2 kilos (7lbs).  She was 5 years old, teeny-tiny, a little bit scruffy, and had ears like Gizmo the Gremlin.

Molly came to us with ‘issues’.  She was terrified of everything and everyone, prone to disappearing for hours on end (to eventually be found hiding buried underneath the sofa cushions or in a little nest she had made for herself under a bush out by the back gate) and would go into an almost coma-like state if you picked her up and gave her a hug.  She had no understanding of ‘play’ and would run and hide if you tried to get her to join in any kind of game.

Four years along and many of Molly’s little idiosyncrasies, although still there, have become somewhat tempered. When I come home she will come running for her own ‘Mum’s back’ cuddle and even push the others aside to make sure she doesn’t miss out.  She will let other people pet her (providing I am close at hand).  scareddog1Although she has still never made any attempt to join in, she will no longer run away in terror when Mabel and Maude grab an arm or a leg each of their favourite teddy and drag each other, growling and snarling, round and round the house. (She did once, in a mad moment, make a grab at one of the many doggie toys littering the house, but it squeaked at her and sent her into hiding for the rest of that day.  She has doggedly (see what I did there?) ignored any possible toy-trauma ever since.)

But there is still ‘the food thing’.

Molly has no ‘off’ switch when it comes to food.  She just does not believe in leaving food on her plate.  Or any one else’s plate.  Or anywhere in the house.  Ever.  Once she starts eating there is just no stopping her.

I remember the first time I gave Molly her dinner in her own little bowl.  She sat.  And she looked at it. Then she looked at me.  “Go on,” I said, “eat your dinner.”  She looked back at the bowl.  She looked at Mabel and Maude happily eating out of their own bowls.  And looked at her bowl again.  And looked at me.  I moved the bowl toward her.  She backed away.  I backed away.  And she sat and looked again.  I picked some food out of the bowl and tossed it to her.  She gobbled it down.  I moved the bowl towards her. She backed off.  Okay.  So, this was obviously going to be a thing.  Sigh.

dogbowldiveIt was a very frustrating process to get her fed that first evening (compounded by the fact that Mabel and Maude had now finished their meals and desperately wanted to join in the new  ‘game’.  Not helpful, girls, really not helpful).  Long (long) story short but after a few weeks and any number of false starts, Molly did eventually get the hang of eating out of her own bowl.  More than got the hang of it.  ‘Eating’ is possibly not the right word.  ‘Inhaling’ might be closer to the mark.  Food has become her passion.

I have been thinking about why Molly’s relentless appetite bothers me so much.  Now that I know about it, it really isn’t that big a deal.  For her health I don’t want her to get too heavy (and she is already starting to resemble a tiny sumo wrestler) so, without depriving her at all, I monitor how much food she eats and watch that she doesn’t eat all of Mabel’s leftovers as well her own meals. (Mabel is much more delicate in her eating habits.)  I watch her like a hawk when we are out walking.  treasure mapIf there are any kind of remains left under a picnic table three miles away, in the opposite direction, Molly will find them—and have eaten them all before I have even noticed she is missing.  (I also now know where she keeps her ’emergency stash’ (bits of doggie biscuits and chew sticks stolen from the other girls when their backs were turned)—which I assume she keeps just in case we all get hit by an earth-destroying meteor before dinner.)

Perhaps it bothers me because I too have had my own issues with food.  I like food (I really do) but I can honestly no longer remember a time when I wasn’t ‘watching what I eat’.  I have been heavier than I ‘should be’ (don’t even get me started on the ‘shoulds’) for most of my adult life, and have been reminded of it on many an occasion.  When I was younger such mean remarks would usually send me directly back to the refrigerator—both to console myself and to prove to others that I really didn’t care what they thought.  But, of course, I did.

Over the years I have, like Molly, managed to modify a lot of my less-than-helpful behaviours and responses, but I was reminded quite forcefully last week that just when you think you have a handle on something, that is usually the time it will come back and bite you in the bum.

Last week I decided it was time to get my health and fitness back on track, as I had slacked off a bit over the last year or so.  I just don’t have the motivation to do these things by myself any more so I signed on to a three month fitness and diet (ooops, sorry, ‘healthy eating’) on-line plan.  So far so good.

fitnessdogI got my exercise gear together, cleared the kitchen of all distractions (bye bye chocolate—at least until next week when the Easter bunny comes) and was raring to go.  And then, almost as if a switch was flipped, I started to think about pizza.  I love pizza.  Just love it.  It’s right up there as one of my favourite foods. But you know I couldn’t tell you the last time I ate one, or even thought about eating one.  Not for a long time.  Out of sight, out of mind.  But, swear to God, almost the moment I signed on for a new fitness and healthy eating plan—BOOM—all I could think about was eating pizza.  Aaaarrrrrghhhhh!

Molly - today

Molly – today

However, this time, instead of berating myself mercilessly for my failings, I have decided to give myself a break and not fret too much about my ‘pizza brain’.  I am sure, given time (and a couple of laps around the park) the yen for a Super Supreme (extra cheese) will fade.  I am also going to ease up on Molly a bit (and by ‘ease up’, I don’t mean feed her more, but I’ll try to stop my continual exasperated, “Stop Eating Mol. You’ll explode!”  commentary).   We girls should stick together.

And who knows, Molly might well have the right idea.  If finishing what you start is truly the road to inner peace, my Molly must be a  Zen Master . . . .


Posted by on March 17, 2016 in Uncategorized


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‘Spiders so large they appear to be wearing the pelts of small mammals.’ Dave Barry

House-RulesThere aren’t many rules to abide by in my houseI reckon there are enough rules already in the world to deal with so I like to keep those at home to a minimum.  Apart from those two listed on the right (which should be obvious anyway) there are only a couple of others which I do at least try to enforce:

  • nobarkNo unnecessary barking. (You may bark if there is actually something to bark at—like letting me know a visitor is at the front door, or there’s an intruder at the back door, or to warn me about a big dog sneaking up on us when we are out walking (but then you must stop when I tell you to).  You may not bark just because the dog next door is barking and you feel like joining in, or if you hear a car door slam three blocks away, or the neighbours cat is sitting in his own front yard across the road, or even just because it seems like a good idea at the time.  No.)
  • dog-bone-No ‘lollies’ (i.e. dog treats) in, on, or anywhere near my bed.  (Yeah, right.  I have been fighting that losing battle for years.)
  • No fighting over food. (Well—no fighting at all really but especially not over food.  There is enough dog food in this house to sink a battleship. Any arguing over food will result in it ALL yummies being taken away until table manners are completely restored.)
  • No spiders in the house.
    (Nothing else to add here.  I think that statement speaks for itself.)

Spiders-Keep-Out-300-x-300Three out of four of these House Rules are broken on a semi-regular basis (two of them just this morning before I left for work—sigh), but the breaking of Rule Number 4 really upsets me.  I do not like spiders in the house.  I’ll say that again—I do not like spiders, at all, ever, under any circumstances, in the house. And that applies even more to humumgus ‘Aragog‘ type spiders.  Now I know that Dave Barry was not talking about Australian spiders when he wrote the above, but, I assure you the quote is appropriate. For those of my overseas friends who have never lived in nor visited Australiaall those stories you hear about huge hairy arachnids large enough to carry away babies and small dogsabsolutely true.

Halloween-SpiderNow, I’m not totally ignorant of the good that spiders do.  Spiders eat lots of other insects (even other spidersyay) and without them whole crops might be decimated and consumed by pests. Research suggests that chemicals harvested from spider venom may actually hold the key to alleviating chronic pain. If science can manage to find a way to make artificial spider silk, which has proved to be the strongest natural material (“tougher than Kevlar and stronger than steel”) it could be used to make everything from artificial tendons to bulletproof vests. And that’s all good. Great. I am happy for all the good that spiders do—they just don’t have to do all that good from the comfort of my home.

scary-spider-vectorI could not swear to when my real fear and dislike of spiders started (although eight hairy legs, eight eyes each and the tendency to scuttle really quickly up your leg when you are not looking is possibly reason enough) but I can make a pretty good guess at it. I vividly remember a day at school when I was about 10 years old and a boy who, we were told, had been bitten by a spider, was paraded into each and every classroom in the school to show us ‘what happens when you mess about with spiders’. I can still ‘see’ the raw weeping sores on his chubby little legs.  Now it may not even be true that he was bitten by a spider at all (it could have been any number of other creepy crawlies that Australia is famous for) but that doesn’t matter. That image stuck. Spiders were bad. Spiders were dangerous. Apart from the poor wee boy himself, I am sure I was not the only student traumatised and having spider nightmares from that day forth.

Spider-Dog-Costume(Before I go on you will note that there are no real photos of spiders in this article.  I did attempt to find some relevant images but all that did was give me a severe attack of the screaming heebie-jeebies and ensure that I am going to be seeing spiders in every nook and cranny for at least the next week. So instead I have put in links to pictures of the the spiders I mention, which you can go and look at for yourself if you really feel you must. Oh and just a heads-up—never, ever google the words ‘spider-puppies’ in an effort to find a cute picture of a dog dressed in a Halloween costume. You will instead be confronted with a whole page of pictures of spiders as big as puppiesimages now indelibly burned on my retina for all time. I am never going to be able to un-see them ever again. Shudder.)

Most Australian children learn very early on to give spiders a wide berth. I never really got the hang of which ones were poisonous and which ones weren’t, and I still can’t really tell any of them apart.  Well—that’s not quite true. I could tell you it was a Redback Spider if I saw one, ‘cos ‘red-back’ kind of gives it away (although I have just found out that a ‘similar species’ to the Redback is called the ‘Cupboard Spider’.  OMGthat is not going to freak me out much next time I open my wardrobe door.)  

spiderdisappearOh, and the Huntsman because everyone knows what a Huntsman looks like. They are very worst rule breakers of the spider world and live in every house in Australia. Even if you have never actually seen one in your house there really is one there, living the Life of Riley behind the curtains, or in the linen cupboard, or under the sink, or in your favourite shoe. Guaranteed.  Huntsman spiders are not poisonous. They can, however, almost scare you to death, much to the amusement of other family members not in the immediate vicinity.

To illustrate, I’m going to do a Max Bygraves here—’I wanna tell you a story”. . .

dustcloudWhen I was a kid, our house, like every other in the neighbourhood, had an old metal postbox nailed onto the front fence and I always checked this box when I came home from school. One day I gathered up the mail as usual, flipped a letter over to see who it was fromonly to find a huge huntsman spider clinging desperately to the back of the letter.  Mum, hearing the shriek (from me, not the spider—although you never know . . . ) came running out of the house to find letters fluttering gently down around the yard and a dust cloud forming in the general direction of where I had headed. When he heard the story Dad laughed until he cried (and tormented me mercilessly about it too I remember)—until the same thing happened to him a couple of weeks later (my sisters and I having resolutely refused to bring in the mail ever again). It wasn’t quite so funny then. Dad went out and emptied a can of Mortein into the letterbox (while standing as far back from it as his ego would allow). On asking whether the spider was dead now he replied ‘Not yet, but I can hear him coughing’.

spider in the bathNow my Auntie Norma always told us that you if kill a spider you really need to look around for his partner, because they always travel in twos and the one you don’t see is the one you really have to worry about. (And people wonder why spiders freak me out—to this day I still do a quick check around the house for the ‘other’ one.)

Anyway, after the demise of the letterbox spider his best mate (let’s call him Bob) decided to move into our house to avenge his pal.  Bob had been spotted briefly once or twice high on my bedroom wall (why my wall?  Dad was the one who killed his friend . . . ) but vanished just as quickly.  I was sure Bob had taken up residence behind one of the posters on my wall. That was kinda sorta okay with me—as long as he stayed behind the poster (out of sight, out of mind) but he started to get a bit full of himself and poked his hairy legs out from behind the poster once too often (and OMG was he growing too big to stay completely hidden?) It was too much. Tears and tantrums and ‘I’m never going to sleep in here again’ finally wore Dad down and he promised to get ‘rid of’ Bob for good (as long as the dog came with him).

killthe spiderI remember watching (from the safety of my position standing on the bed) as the dog danced excitedly around the room and Dad valiantly wielded the broom about trying to knock Bob down. Bob was having none of it. He ducked and weaved, and zigged and zagged and, then, when it looked like Dad might finally be getting the upper hand, Bob turned and ran down the broomstick handle. I remember the broomstick hitting the floor and the door slamming behind Dad as he, and the dog, vanished as if by magic, leaving a very irate Bob alone in the room with meMy heroes.

I have absolutely no memory at all of what happened next (it is a well known fact that the brain will block this kind of trauma out) but I am pretty sure it was probably Mum who eventually saved the day.

SmallSpiders_bWell, I am not a kid any more and it is a long time since I have run screaming from the room after just spotting a spider (well—there was that time last week, but he totally took me by surprise) and I am willing to admit that other people don’t experience the same horror of spiders that I do.  In fact, many cultures believe spiders to be incredibly lucky and therefore it is very bad luck to kill one. That’s okay. I can still rarely get close enough to them to actually kill them myself anyway and have to get someone else to do it for me, so reckon I am covered there.  As to the other ‘lucky spider’ superstitions I have read about—I’ve listed a few of them below for you—make of them what you will!

For myself I don’t think there is anything convincing enough there to tempt me into a re-write of Rule Number Four just yet . . .

A spider is a repellent against plague when worn around the neck in a walnut shell.
(What happens if it escapes the shell?  How ‘lucky’ would that be?)

A spider with syrup cures fever.
(I think I would prefer the fever.)

All spiders except tarantulas are omens of good luck. The larger the spider, the bigger the rewards.
(Note:  The other name for ‘Huntsman’ is ‘Tarantula’—which is not scary at all.
I no longer feel any guilt about tossing Huntsmen from my home.)

Finding a spider at midday – Anxiety
(Only at midday?)

Finding a Spider on the Wedding Dress is an Omen of Good luck!
(You try telling a bride that.)

If a spider crawls into your pocket, you can forget a business cash advance as you will always have money.
(If a spider crawls into my pocket the very last thing I am going to be worrying about is money . . . )

 Kill a spider, bad luck yours will be
Until of flies you’ve swatted fifty-three.


Posted by on October 30, 2015 in Uncategorized


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