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May 27, 2009

A break from the rain

Alabama has been plenty wet here with daily rains and very little sunshine. Frankie has coped with it the best he can. I am thinking about letting him inside today to get out of the wet and into the dry and warm gecko room. Hmm, what do I need to get ready to do this?

Clear out all the plants on the floor so Frankie doesn't eat them.
Move all the plastic containers so Frankie does not push them around.
Set up barriers next to all tables that Frankie tends to try to get under.
Get out four big towels for the inevitable Frankie pee.
Bring in Frankie's pooper-scooper to move inevitable poop outside.
Make sure I have paper towels for floor clean up.
Have the mop ready.
Get out Frankie's heat lamp that I have stored away in the closet.
Put up the barrier between the bath room and the gecko room.
Place the anti-Frankie scratch board against the wall next to the door.
Clear out the bottom shelf of the gecko rack so Frankie can walk in and out of it.
Drag out the big cardboard box that Frankie naps in and fill it with newspaper.
Wedge the cricket container with wheels into a corner so Frankie does not push it around.
Move the potatoes and cricket food off bottom first shelf so Frankie does not try to eat them.

Oh, goodness. Maybe I should just hope for sun so I don't have to bring Frankie inside.

May 16, 2009

All wet at Do Day Day

The forecast: 90% chance of rain starting at 10:00 a.m. At 9:15 p.m. during our drive to Do Dah Day it was raining CATS and DOGS! It was raining so hard that cars were pulled over to the side of the road hoping the rain would lighten it. Greg and I looked at each other in the car. The question hung in the air: would we or wouldn't we? Good old Frankie was in the back sitting quietly anticipating The Big Walk.

We arrive at 9:30 p.m. and it's still raining. Greg and I don't say anything. I guess we decide that if we don't mention it then it will go away. Worse yet, there are not dogs lines up to start the parade. Usually there is a line of pets and people down Highland Ave. Not a good sign. Then a good sign. Fox 25 News gets out the cameras (covered for rain) and a few dogs gather. The rain lightens up. There is hope.

At 9:45 p.m. it is just sprinkling so we brave the elements, defy the forecast and pull Frankie out of the car. We are armed with "walk supplies" and two umbrellas. Frankie starts walking.

The cameras turn on Frankie, the 20 questions begin, children are dragged over to see Frankie, dogs pay attention: Frankie's Do Dah Day is on! Half way around the first corner the sprinkle ends and we have a full go!

Frankie old fans are there: "Go, Frankie! Go!" Frankie wins new fans too.

The only bad thing: rain chased away nearly 2/3 of the normal number of parade walkers. The parade much shorter than previous years. Frankie doesn't even get to walk to the first Do Day Event location before the the last cart of the parade announces "end of the parade." But we decide to walk Frankie to the location anyway.

Frankie decides on a short cut which would be up and down the very steep and muddy park slopes. Nevertheless, his fans follow. We emerge muddy.

At Do Day Day people who had seen Frankie in previous parades ask why he was not in this parade. I explain that with less people in the parade we didn't get to walk the whole route. Poor Frankie got less than the Big Walk. But we make it up with his walk through the park and the Do Dah Day Event itself.

Frankie, Greg and I are there for two hours before we decide to call it a day....okay, Frankie could go on for a few more hours but Greg and I need a NAP.

When we get home the sun comes out. Frankie goes directly into his yard for a sun bask and a breakfast of freshly rain washed grass.

It was a great Do Dah Day.

May 10, 2009

Typical mom

I don't have too much more to add on to the Mother's Day celebration but I do have a quick story.

You all know I act mom to Frankie and treat him like he was my kid. I could talk about him all the time as you all well know.

On Saturday the door rang and two gentlemen from the Mormon Church were on rounds to share the Word. That's okay. I always say thanks for the visit and that I appreciate their enthusiasm to share the Word then send them gently on their way.

However on this occasion one of the two recognized me. This one gentlemen had seen Frankie, my friend and me a few weeks earlier at the Creek Bank Festival. He told his partner that "this is the lady I told you about that had the big tortoise." Of course, the 2nd gentleman had to see Frankie and being a proud "Mama" I could not resist. We proceed through the house and to the back yard.

Suddenly my normal "thanks but please move on with your mission" turned into a "let me show off my kid." Frankie wowed them with his massive size, his gentle nature and his insistence for a carrot treat for his time.

These two men who are very well trained in the art of turning a conversation into talk about the Word never once went beyond the typical twenty questions about Frankie.

Greg jumped into our Frankie discussion and reminded me that we needed to get to the store soon. I brought the two gentlemen back though the house to the front door. Out of courtesy I asked a simple religious question I knew had a simple answer. They obliged with a quick answer and were on their way.

Typical mom: all conversations no matter how distant or unrelated eventually make their way back to the kids.

May 9, 2009

Spring Antics

Spring is definitely here. Flowers are blooming, grass is green again but there is another distinct sign of spring: Frankie is practicing his sexual prowess. Tortoise owners accept this annual (and sometimes year around) parade of sexuality much better than human parents do with their kids. Human parents hesitating to explain the birds or bees would be much less accommodating with sexual experiments of their children. Tortoise owners deal with it and often in a big way.

Whether Frankie was a boy or a girl I just didn't know when I first got him. Sex determination of a young tortoise even fools the experts: most suggest waiting two to three years before trying. So Frankie was given the name "Frankie" because "Frankie" could go for a male or a female which ever Frankie was.

Frankie's sex was guessed to be a boy about his third year. On the bottom of the shell in the back (there are scientific names for all this but why alienate anyone) part of the shell sticks out -- in the same position as the tail. The chutes (individual shell parts) on a boy look like a "V" and the chutes on a girl look like a "U". It seemed pretty evident that Frankie was a boy.

Within a year he proved it.

On this particular day Frankie was soaking in a large bucket of water. While I was watching him soak he stood up on all four of his legs stretching them as far as he could until he was on his tippy toes. I kid you not. What happen next was something out of science fiction.

Some horrible purplish pinkish thing came flooding out of his vent (rear end) like the monster who jumped out of the huge eggs on the first Alien movie. I nearly screamed. But being a long time reptile keeper I have seen a lot of strange things come out of vents. It's just this one did look like an alien. [:eek]

Frankie, whom I would assume to be in massive pain from his guts spilling from his rear end instead seemed to be having the time of his life. A prouder tortoise I have never seen.

A few seconds of complete horror turned to sanity and I was able to reason out what was going on. Really I had been warned but the warning was not graphic enough to explain what I just seen.

Frankie was a boy and he was displaying for the world to see his (grimace - do I dare write it) penis.

So let's return to the current spring season and an animal's natural interest in "the birds and the bees". This last week Frankie's spring fever has taken turned his interest for potential "mates". I don't have any large female tortoise for Frankie and have no intention of introducing him to any mates. But that does not stop Frankie. He explores the yard for potential substitutes.

So far he has selected a large bolder, a log, a plastic dish and a large section of bamboo for his afternoon romps complete with loud grunting. Luckily these items are normally out of direct sight from our weather camera. Otherwise Frankie would be entertaining the world with his antics.

But it doesn't stop him from embarrassing me in front of the neighbors and their children. No doubt Frankie's exercise in manhood later brings up questions when the kids return home. I just don't know how a parent could ever explain the reproductive organ of a male tortoise. Maybe they just tell their kids that along with geckos and turtles the nice lady down the street (that would be me) also keeps aliens.