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June 14, 2018

Summer Mayhem

June is officially happening. Frankie transitioned from Winter-Blues to Spring-Burst-Of-Joy-For-70ยบ-Weather! then tumbling quickly down to Summer-Can-It-Really-Be-That-Hot? miserable tortoise.

I'm miserable for other reasons.  I spent late winter through Spring sprucing up Frankie yard with new grass only to have the local wildlife dig up most of the newly laid sod and then watch spring rains...downpours...wash away all the newly sprouted grass seed.

Can't blame Frankie for lack of grass in his yard.  Sulcata Tortoises are great with grass (I said grass) in that the tortoise beak is designed to cut the grass without uprooting roots.

I mention grass is safe because anything...ANYTHING else growing in Frankie's yard is fair game for complete destruction.  Due to Frankie's vigilant attention there isn't a weed in the yard that lasts more than a day.

Mushroom? Mushrooms don't stand a chance.  Worried about potential toxins, I race Frankie to the yard in the morning to get those newly bloomed mushrooms before he does.  Doesn't matter.  He gets the ones I miss.  He's still alive.  Maybe I worry too much.

As for spring cleaning, I pressure washed the back porch and put up a new awning to shade the patio door.  Three old beaten-up plastic chairs were set out by the gate to be throw away.  Ten minutes later and Frankie pushed them all back on the porch.  Chairs are his toys.  We never sit in them anyway...too dangerous with Frankie around.

In consideration of Frankie's love of dandelions, his most favorite food even over carrots, I planted a yellow hibiscus the front a dandelion substitute.  A couple of weeks later I delighted to bring Frankie his first four very yellow hibiscus.

Frankie isn't usually aggressive but as natural sulcata behavior he has his moments.  I am keenly in-tune for situations that stir that side of him:  Never surprise a sulcata.  Don't startle a sleeping sulcata.  Don't take away the bucket. 

Showing a handful of yellow hibiscus flowers to a dandelion-starved sulcata was unwise.

When I knelt down to present Frankie his yellow treat I nearly was knocked over.

Frankie pulled his head back, hissing as the air expelled from his lungs and in a surprisingly agile manner leaped toward the handful of yellow in my outstretched hands.

I dropped the yellow hibiscus and rolled on the ground to avoid the 110 pound collision-bound Frankie.  Who knew at 58 years I was still capable of a precision forward roll.

So, good rule:  no yellow or orange shoes in the yard.

Have I ever mentioned that I collect Fiestaware?  Kitchen ware in bold colors:  red, blue, violet, green, yellow, tangerine and more.  Plates, bowls, candle sticks, pepper and salt shakers, coffee cups, and so on and so on.  My Fiestaware never gathers dust:  everything is used.  Just looking at all of the brightly colored dinnerware sitting in open shelves makes me happy.

So yesterday, I grabbed a yellow Fiesta bowl filled with cereal and headed to the backyard to visit the morning-basking Frankie.

So soon forgotten the orange and yellow rule.

Apparently, Frankie can I-Spy yellow from across the yard.

Walking toward Frankie who was way across the yard I see the signs of sulcata aggression:  Head up, eyes focused.....and movement like a speeding train with no breaks.

Balancing bowl full of cereal, I dodge to the left.  Frankie matches the turn.  I turn back toward the house and pick up my pace.

In movies, why does the hero being chased by zombies stupidly look over their shoulder to see if they are still being chased? (JUST KEEP RUNNING YOU IDIOT BECAUSE YES THEY ARE STILL CHASING YOU)

Oh, yes, why not check to see if they yellow-crazed 110 pound sulcata tortoise is still in pursuit?  HE IS!

And I turn back just in time to dodge three old plastic lawn chairs I should have thrown away but noooo, Frankie needs his toys.

Cereal is lost mostly on the ground and some on my shoes but hey, I need some hand function if I am going to open that back door.

I hear that red flags and bulls are a mostly a myth.  Stab a bull and piss him off and he is going to charge flag or not.  To be safe, just don't wave a red flag at a bull.

Yellow and orange are Frankie's red flag, not mythical.  Which is why I don't wear yellow or orange shoes...or pants..or nail polish.  Or carry yellow Fiestaware in Frankie's yard.

April 26, 2018


I am not paranoid.  Really, I am not.  I'm not all that interesting.  I don't attract attention.  I am quite ordinary.  No one is after me.

My secret is this:  the smallest person in the room wins.  Survival tactics from growing up in a family of five kids.  Who get's called to do the dishes?  First person mom spots.  Who gets scolded?  The loudest most obnoxious kid.  When mom reaches blindly into the car back seat and starts swatting, who gets hit?  The center kid.

My mastery of the subtle is sublime.  When Frankie is not with me, I go completely unnoticed.  When Frankie IS with me everyone is looking at the 110 pound tortoise.

Home security is about the same.  Don't be noticeable.  Don't put empty flat screen TV boxes by the curb.  Don't place your best silver on the front window shelf. Don't keep Frankie inside a chain link fence.

The front door is locked.  All gates closed and locked.  During the day the backdoor is unlocked so I can run in and out to see Frankie.

I spent the morning safe and relaxed on my computer in the front of the house editing some new Frankie pictures.  Really concentrating on cleaning them up, cropping, saving, etc.  Occasionally I hear rapidly running paws across the carpet....Newt, our cat, running wild, getting her exercise.  She knocked over some boxes earlier but no real damage.

After spending too much time working on the photos I think soon I need to go check on Frankie.  It's warm so he is outside basking and grazing.  He may want hay because Spring grass is slow growing.  He'll want his daily carrot.

I hear boxes in the hall get bumped.  Dumb cat.  It's cat nap time so what is she doing still running around?  Silence.  Okay, back to the pictures.

I hear the sound of paper being stepped on.  That's odd.  Doesn't sound like a cat walking on paper.

Finish the photo edit.  Save current file.  Turn around in my chair.

Have you ever tried screaming, your mouth wide open but what comes out is more like a gasping coughing.  Air that is supposed to go out is still getting sucked deep into your lungs.  What comes out sounds more like "WA..WA....aaaaaaahhhhhh.  Yeah, that scream that pretty much ends in a complete helpless choking fit.

I start waving my hands madly not because I am scared but that poor Frankie, in the house, in the dining room, five feet in front of me, acts like he is under attack. 

He frantically exhales making this WHHHHSSSSSSSSS noise, pulling back into his shell and wobbling like a spinning toy top. 

Frankie, having discovered the back door unsecured and not completely closed, has made his way through the living room, down the hall and all the way into the dining room. 

I am caught completely unawares by the Frankie burglar looking for carrots.

It took Frankie some time to trust me again.  Two carrots to be exact.

April 25, 2018

A Chance of Frankie

Tuesday the Hubby tells me that the chance of rain on Saturday is 100% and the temperature predictions are cool.

Awe.  We've had plans since November last to take Frankie to the April Mobile Autism Funky Fun Run.  Ten years of Frankie's attendance harkens spring much like the spring rain brings spring flowers.  But weather...well weather has final say if Frankie gets to go or stay at home.

We took Frankie to an event once when it was overcast and cool.  He spent the entire time trying to tunnel under nearby cars and bushes.  He was miserable.  WE were miserable.

Another time we took Frankie to an outdoor evening event. Nope, sorry, Frankie's bedtime is the minute that sun starts casting large shadows...oh, around 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm fall through winter.  No bushes around so he buried his head into a corner.  Call him no-participation.

Summer he still turns in well before 8:00 pm.  He's just not a night owl, early morning bird, or evening reveler.  He needs his beauty sleep.

Wednesday I ask Greg to check again as the weather does what it wants....just in case the notoriously fallible weather forecasters get it wrong.

Not only is rain predicted, now they say it could be heavy rains all day.


Still I keep checking.  Thursday...same. it's chance of severe weather.  No chance of sun. No chance Frankie will get to the event.

I send an e-mail to Angel at the Mobile Autism office that Frankie probably won't be there due to the weather.

Notice I said "probably".  Ever hopeful.

Friday night I go out to Frankie's greenhouse, close up all the vents, wrap Frankie in hay, and close his door.  Ready for a storm.

"Night, Monster."  (Yep, still call him Monster.)

Heavy winds and rain don't wake me.  I just wake up at the six o'clock hour (no alarm needed as I just wake up).  Head to the computer to check, one more time, just in case, for weather predictions for the day.

What?  Really?  Chance of rain plummets to 5% for the morning with partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 70's.

What sorcery is this? little old lady wake Greg.  Convenience him I am telling the truth.  Offer to make French Toast if he wakes up.

Can't say there was any type of divine intervention.  Our weather forecast has been horribly unreliable this spring.

The chance of Frankie attending this year's Funky Fun Run: 100%.

The unpredictable weather caused some vendors to cancel and quite a few people got word that the event was off....but many showed up.

Frankie was there.  The abundance of clover on the grounds meant Frankie feasted.  More grazing than walking but more shell rubs for him.

Frankie loved it.
Me grazing at Mobile Funky Fun Run for Autism. Mom surrenders that she will never pick me up ever, ever again. Ever. Get help, ma. I'm not getting back in the car by myself.