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May 1, 2017


Frankie and I are gonna have a big discussion. Big Discussion real, real soon.

No matter that Frankie wants me to believe he doesn't understand English.  He does.  Ask any pet owner.  Pets understand what we are saying.

And I have something to say to Frankie. Something must be done.

It's about the back door.  The French Door to the backyard.  The French Door that double opens wide, the main thoroughfare between Frankie's kingdom and our human domain.  That door is used A LOT.

If that door was a grocery store it would be the busiest store in the whole city: demanding people coming and going 24 hours a day gettin' what they need, staff working to stock shelves and help customers, cars coming and going....busy, busy, busy. You get the picture.

I use that back door all day, in and out, over and over, going out to give Frankie hay, opening Frankie's greenhouse in the morning and closing the door at night, watering the grass, watering Frankie, checking on loud noises, feeding the box turtles, giving Frankie a carrot, checking why I haven't seen Frankie in an hour....busy, busy, busy, all day.

It's a key door in my life.

Most irritating is I only use 1/2 of the French door. Only one side.  The other side is blocked by a cat tree so that Newt and Scrat can watch Frankie, the birds, squirrels, and nocturnal visitors like raccoons and possums.  I only need the one part and the cats have the other.  One door is enough.

Here lies the problem.  Frankie is claiming territory.

When Frankie does something the first time it can be considered a random event, just something that happens, and usually not a repeating offense.

I open the back door and find a huge Frankie poop and pool of pee right smack-dab at the base of the busiest door in the house.  Its worth a roll of the eye and a huff of disgust.

The large pool of pee spread the length of the door means I have to jump to avoid getting the smelliest urine in the animal kingdom on my feet.  The poop is not so bad.  It's the least offensive smelling animal poop I know. In 24 hours Frankie poop can just be punted off the porch just like a football.

I walk to the front yard, turn on the water, and drag the hose back to the patio. Thirty seconds later the offensive smelling pee is off the patio.  Small side track from a day's worth of chores. Irritating but not so bad.  Task done.  Onto other things.

Next morning I open the door and there lies a pool of Frankie pee with a side of Frankie poop. Eye roll and huff of disgust accompanied by a deep disturbance that today may signal a very unwelcome Frankie behavior.

The second time Frankie does something is worth noting.  If Frankie rams the lime tree two days in a row then it's time to move the lime tree out of Frankie's reach.

Come on, Frankie!  You have the whole yard!

Every day I gotta scoop poops in the greenhouse, even in the summer, because morning poops in your greenhouse house are a rule.  I accept that.  The Purple Pooper Scooper lives in the greenhouse to accommodate this poop habit.  Accommodation at hand.

But, Frankie, the back door?

Day three.  Yep.  Again.

The greenhouse means never having to clean up poop and pee off the bathroom floor ever again.  Summer means all poop and pee are in the yard...WHERE THEY BELONG.

Day four.  Nothing.

Day five.  I am doomed.  Frankie has staked claim to the back porch right by the back door. His to do as he please.

Maybe it's just be a message.  He may want more attention.  Or carrots.

My mind is made up.  Tomorrow morning: coffee by the back door.  I am laying my own claim.  If he wants that spot he will have to push me off, chair and all.

The gauntlet is tossed.  Gloves are off.  Challenge made.

Don't lay bets on me.  The odds are always in Frankie's favor.

Dedicated to Anne O'Bryon who is married to champion pooper-scooper Marcus O'Bryan. Peace and love to you.

September 6, 2016

Dress For Dinner

With Frankie Tortoise Tails, I only ever want to tell the truth about sulcata tortoises and give a clear warning to potential buyers and those ooging I-wanna-cute-wittle-big-eye-tortoise-like-'tis-wittle-pet-shop-baby-sulcata-dat-the-clerk-says-will-never-get-bigger-then-da-tank-I-put-it-in impulse buyer. Yeah.

Ya gotta know what you're up against when that cute baby turtle hits 105 pounds.

A friend told me that a storms blew over her fence and within a day her big adult male sulcata pushed through temporary fixes to the fence.  With some incredible good luck and attentive neighbors, the runaway tortoise was spotted and an animal rescue group quickly located Franklin's worried owner.

...storms, fence damage, tortoise rescue isn't the point of the story.  The point is the rescue group weighted big ole Franklin.....wait for it.....a whopping 150 pounds.

I always thought that reports of 150 pound sulcata were unsubstantiated guesses.  After all how many tortoise owners have a large animal scale in their bathroom?

I KNEW I should have underfed Frankie all these years!  Too late now.  I am doomed.

As I continue to creep around in my now six month depression Frankie...the future 150 pound Frankie...continues to keep me on my toes.

He is a force to be dealt with.

Last week he tore up the box turtle's outdoor enclosure who luckily were inside at the time.  It appeared that he just went full-out sulcata ram at the back corner fence area.  The long line of the fence was pulled away from the permanent cemented weather station pole, and area around front tumbled the stacked bricks that held it in place.

Really?  Is Frankie now ramming structures?  Do I need to worry about the shed?

After a little clean up and careful observation I discovered the truth of how that fence came down. Frankie didn't ram the box turtles fence after all.  Nope.  Frankie was enthusiastically loving on his orange bucket right next to the fence and consequentially the fence became collateral hump-damage.

Truth.  Nothing is safe in Frankie's yard.

Like wearing nice clothes or your best shoes around Frankie.  Don't.

I have this dress.  It's a gorgeous dress from my favorite clothing store, Clear Water Creek.  I cannot afford to buy anything at full price from the place so when I find a $150 dress for $20 (did someone accidentally mislabeled this?), I was thrilled.  It's a dress that I will never have occasion to wear: sherbet green eyelet cotton, sleeveless, scoop neck, ankle length, lined,...beautiful!  I've had it since last summer...never worn it.

At home, doing nothing, I wore it.  The dress really made me feel a bit better.  Went outside to see Frankie.  He liked the dress so much that I had to drop the carrot and run back to the house.

The dress required hand washing which means I put it in the washing machine anyway, but I was not going to put it in the drier.  I put it on a hanger and hung it on the fence out of Frankie' reach.

Just after dinner I went outside to bring the dress back inside.

Do you know how far a sulcata tortoise can stretch their neck?  Have you ever seen a sulcata tortoise stand up on tippy-toes?  Between an outstretched neck and tippy-toes the dress was just not high up enough.

I found the dress on the ground.  At first I thought it just fell on the ground and Frankie hadn't noticed it at all.  Then I saw the chew marks.

Go ahead and say it.  I already did.  Frankie had the dress for dinner.

The good news is Frankie couldn't shallow.  He just chewed.

The dress got washed again then hung in the shower to dry.

Really I was never going to wear that dress out in public anyway.  Never going to have an occasion to wear it when jeans and a tailored shirt will suffice just as well.

I am never going to install a clothes line in Frankie's yard. No, that clothes line would need to be high up to keep Frankie's inquiring appetite from eating more clothes.  I'd have to use a ladder.

Do I need to explain what happens to ladders when Frankie is around?

July 8, 2016

Therapy Dig

Fear not, Frankie and I still exist.  I'm visiting one of my Deep Depressions which occasionally stops by like an unwanted guest.  I'm pretty good at surviving them.  This depression is no charmer but it's not a record breaker:  The worse lasted two years.

I've developed a sense of humor about withdrawing into a hermit like existence.  There is the bonus weigh loss that occurs due to the absolute disinterest in food, and trimming outside activities so to concentrate on remembering to bathe, brush my teeth, and feed Greg and the cats.

[No worries.  Got a doctor who loves throwing prescriptions at me. Sorry doc, already tried that pill. Yep, tried that one too. I can do Hermit but don't wanna be a Zombie.  Can we just keep it simple?  I've been doing this since I was sixteen, You weren't even born yet.]

Frankie showed up in my life at the end of that long two year record depression and he continues to challenge my keen ability to remain un-moving indoors doing absolutely nothing but wondering what day it is.  

He showed up on the porch the other day covered with dirt.  

Nothing spells trouble like a dirt covered sulcata shell.

 I know that sulcata tortoises dig.  Digging is part of who they are.  Digging long tunnels down underground sometimes eight to fourteen feet long is instinct.  Where else do you think a sulcata tortoise would live?  

Attempting to beat an animal's natural instinct is probably mankind's most arrogant trait. Long before Frankie moved into out lives, Greg and I have schemed and devised ways to keep our sulcata from digging. We've really, really tried.  Hence our elaborate Frankie Caves over 14 years.  

Real Important Point:  If a sulcata tortoise has a place to sleep where he feels secure and comfortable, he probably will not dig.  Key words there are secure and comfortable.

Check posts about Frankie's houses and you'll find we've been very successful proving Frankie with such places.  Mostly.  Until it gets hot.

Frankie showing up at the back door covered with dirt means he is digging to find a cool spot.  The hair on my neck stands on end and even though I am in a air conditioned room I break into a sweat.  I head outside urgent to find what Frankie's been into.

Right off I see the wood pallet set by the fence corner toss over like some kid has kicked over a stack of wooden building blocks.  Yep, Frankie started digging here.  Good news: He got stopped by the pieces of cement I put into the hole he tried to dig last summer.  Bad news is he moved on from here to find a better dig for The Spot.

Frankie has caught up with me, brushing against my leg.  I look down at him a bit annoyed.  He looks up at me like "You ain't seen nothing yet."

Farther on between the shed and the fence I find the area where I plant clover has now been all dug up.  But this isn't The Spot.  Frankie just test dug out all the clover.  So I proceed along the fence hunting for The Spot.  

Nothing for the entire length of the yard until I get to the fence by the house. I stood in silent wonderment at the carnage.  This spot wasn't just digging.  This is more wrecking and destruction.

I spent last fall excavating this particular area putting down bricks and wood all around a awkwardly placed railroad tie.  Frankie refuses to walk around this cumbersome object around but instead insist on walking over it.  He struggles to crawls over from below and in the reverse direction slides off with a PLOP to the ground.  I carefully landscaped bricks and wood to force Frankie to walk around the railroad tie.  

He dug all that up. Bricks and wood are scattered all around the immobile railroad tie.  Not sure what I am going to do about this mess.

Frankie catches up with me again.  I look down at him annoyed.  He looks up at me, proudly, "Huh? Whadda think?  Good job, huh?"

Still, this is not The Spot we are looking for.

There by the house, in a nook of the house it the Big Dig.  Frankie has dug a dirt pit to keep cool. It's not a tunnel.  It's just a place to dig into the cool dirt.

If it was a tunnel he would be digging under our house.

Good news:  no tunnel under the fence and into Greater Mobile.  

Still, I am going to have to keep a very close eye on this corner.  The Spot is "comfort" which the greenhouse can't provide.  Frankie gets to keep his hole.  A shade cloth is placed over The Spot to increase Frankie's feeling of comfort and security.  I'll go out daily and hose it down with water. It will be a mud hole. Frankie will like that.

That rascal, Frankie.  He got me out of the house.  I'm doing a little yard work.  Now I am writing.  

Frankie is better than drugs.