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September 28, 2011

Awake or Not Awake?

I dreamt last night that I was chasing Frankie down the street.  This may sound a bit odd but not for me at all.  Frankie often shows up in my dreams.  Sometimes he is small and sometimes he is big but always he is Frankie.

Frankie isn't necessarily the focus of the dream, often he just walks through.  In a dream I will be arrange boxes while other people are moving them around and suddenly Frankie will walk by.  Frankie just appears, I see that he is there, and then he just walks out.  And the dream will go on.  These "Frankie" moments happen a lot.

I know because I remember hours and hours of my dreams.  I don't dream more often than the average person, I just have recall of more dreams than the average person.  I could write small novels about my dreams every morning if I wanted.

But this morning's dream about chasing Frankie down the street really had me puzzled.

In the dream, I couldn't tell if I was chasing Frankie because he had a big head start or was he just faster than me?  This really had me in a pickle.

Frankie and most all healthy sulcata are a lot faster than they appear.  Frankie once got stung by a bee (or something) and ran past me as fast as a kid on a tricycle peddling flat out full speed.  When Frankie is good and warm (not hot) he can walk around the block about the speed of a four year old child.  I don't walk baby steps but don't get a normal adult stride.  Frankie and I stroll.

So in the dream I am trying to catch up with Frankie concerned that he is getting away from me.  Then another pickle: is he heading somewhere or is he leading me on a merry chase?

During Frankie's wanderings around the yard and on his walks around the block, he get this totally focused, determined look as if he knows exactly where he is going. Since there is no where in the yard to go anyone would conclude that Frankie's hours of walking around aren't taking him anywhere.  Still, he acts like he's been somewhere and is heading somewhere else.

In the dream I am too far behind to see if he has that determined look or his mischievous "up to something" look. 

If I ever come across Frankie doing something like trying to push down a fence, dragging furniture around, climbing over things he could never climb over, or in the act of eating cat poop, he will look at me with this incredulous look like "what were you expecting!? I'd be out here wrapping Christmas presents?"

So I am getting a bit anxious in the dream because I just can't figure out what is going on.  I am uncomfortable and probably tossing and turning in the bed because of this.

Then it dawns on me, just as Frankie is just too far ahead down the road for me to catch up, that I am dreaming and I have the power to stop the dream.  A sense of relief overwhelms me as I can step back and see that the landscape is not completely in focus, that I look about 14 years old and that I can feel no temperature or wind of any sort.  I am dreaming. 

I then look to see the BIG Frankie walking up to me and smiling mischievously at me.  Suddenly, zoom, Frankie passes me, running up the street, away from me, egging me on to chase him.  Frankie has made his message clear:  I may be dreaming but he isn't finished with me yet. 

Shells!  Dream or no dream, that Frankie is determined to wear me out. 

September 17, 2011

Leeds Folk Fesitval - Frankie Folk Tails

Frankie had a terrific time at the Leeds Folk Festival.  His attendance was completely dependent on good weather.  Saturday and Sunday was perfect!  Partly cloudy with temperatures in the mid 70's were great walking weather.  Frankie did not disappoint.

Greg dropped Frankie and I off so he was unable to be with us and take the regular photos I like to share here, but I had updated Frankie's Information Cards to include his blog address.  I invited as many people as I could to send copies of their digital photos of Frankie with their kids to me so I could post them here.

Well, several days have passed and no one has sent me any pictures.  Big Frankie Drat!

But still we had fun.  Frankie walked around all the art booths, the food vendors, the children's area, both sidewalks, the antique car show, and the farmer's market...times 10.

A nice vendor at the farmer's market gave Frankie one tomato on Saturday and Sunday.  People love to watch Frankie eat.  Frankie did not disappoint.

I made a point to lead Frankie away from any singers, dancers or performers so he wouldn't upstage them as he tends to do.

There was a group of Karate Kids who were there to do a demonstration.  Before they were to go on stage, they caught a glimpse of Frankie.

"...snatch the pebble from my hand"  But the karate kids are ooo-ing and ahhhh-ing over Frankie.  Master is left standing with pebble in hand.  Sorry!  Eventually, Frankie is out of sight and the demonstration goes on.

I still hope that someone will send some photos for this blog. Send photos to

September 14, 2011

Return to Sender

A much discussed topic among sulcata owners is how to make sure everyone knows the moving rock in the yard belongs to you, espcially when said rock goes through a fence and heads down the street.

This is of particular concern since turtle seems to be a menu item for many Alabama families.  Thinking that Frankie could accidently be mistaken for a gourmet meal is horrifying to me.  I want Frankie tagged so anyone coming across him can immediatly identify that he is a pet and he is wanted back very much.

To quickly go over the many ways that people have tagged their tortoises, turtles and sulcata and the problems/consequences:
Paint name on shell:  unattractive, toxic paint.
Drill hole and put on id tag:  painful, possible infection, considered cruel.
Glue ID tag on shell:  may permanently damage shell, glues may be toxic.
Feet bracelets:  Tears up skin when a turtle or tortoise retracts into shell.
Etch ID on shell:  extremely painful, possible infection, considered cruel.
Neck tag:  Tears up skin when a turtle or tortoise retracts into shell.

Basically, turtles and tortoises are not built for tagging.  Owners still take risks tagging them as the thought of loosing the beloved pet is just too much.  I feel exactly the same about Frankie.

Frankie does have a microchip implanted ID.  It was one of the heroic and unbelievable moments when Dr. Atlas proved to be as good a sneak as he is a veterinarian.  

No way would Frankie sit still with his foot out while the good doctor injected this chip into his body. 

We distracted Frankie with a carrot long enough for a needle to be pushed into his skin.

The moment Dr. Atlas pushed the plunger into Frankie, all bets were off.  Frankie slammed forward, jerked his leg out of my hand crushing my knuckes as he went. He then reversed slammed into Greg who was at one point actually holding him down.

Dr. Atlas, Greg and myself where sprawled across the floor while Frankie did the bumper-car off our legs, knees and walls.  Just were are those video's when you need them?

Tip:  if you get your sulcata a microchip implant, don't attempt it on a raised table.  If we had, Frankie would have flown across the room with his first forward slam.  

So now one may ask what good a microchip does when a sulcata escapes?  Most folks don't have a scanner to detect these things unless one takes them to a animal shelter or veterinarian.  Then again, even these people may not think to scan a turtle.

So why did I do this?  To positively identify Frankie as MINE.  If he did run away or was taken, I have proof positive that he is mine.  Yes, proof of ownership may be required if one wants to reclaim a tortoise from a pet store, shelter, or in a dispute with another person that claims the turtle is theirs. 

Of course, I can spot Frankie pretty easy anyway due to a unique physical characteristic.

So, back to the fact that Frankie walking down the street is still not identifiable as my pet to a person coming across him who decides the kids need a cool pet.  I have that covered, and I have a hint to someone considering Frankie for a meal that he is a pet. 

Frankie is labeled on his butt with a return address sticker. 

September 6, 2011

But Does He Float?

When we bought our present house there was no need for flood insurance because the house is near the top of a hill and all entrances into the house faced away from the downward slope.  Natural flooding would never reach us…..except maybe on a Noah-Ark scale.  Yes, we could get water damage inside from a broken water pipe, but otherwise, our house is not floating away anytime soon.

The exception is Frankie’s house.  It does face the downward slope.  Really, I hadn’t given it all that much thought.  

Greg did install a water grate on the upward side so water would not get under his house and sweep it away.   

Still, we overlooked that front door positioned at ground level.  Hurricane Lee would point out this error in thinking.

Hurricanes this far in land (Birmingham is half way up state from the coast) usually brings several days of 24 hour rain with no stop that results in flooding.  We’ve never been worried.  

Yesterday, during the second day of non-stop rain, seeing Frankie outside on the lawn did catch my attention.  He grazed in one spot for a while but soon walked back toward his house.   A couple hours later, I ventured out in the pouring rain to check on him. 

Frankie was sitting next to his house during a down pour.  Not only that, but Frankie blocked water behind him like a damn.  

“Frankie!”  I say.  “Get in your house!”  I proceed to drag him toward his front door.  All the water building up behind him gushed past him and ran ankle-deep over me. 

“Crap,” I say, which isn’t far from the truth since the water has been soaking in sulcata poop for two days.  Kneeling down in the rushing Frankie-poop river water, I shove Frankie into his house.  I return to my house dripping wet from rain and soaked in Frankie-poop water.  I go clean up.

No other thought passes my mind about Frankie until post dinner when the temperature outside starts dropping below 75ยบ F. I consider that I should turn on Frankie’s heat pad in his house. 

I get outside to the backyard and find Frankie sitting next to his house again.  “Frankie!” I yell.  

This time I notice as I push him in his door that water and poop is running out of his front door. I open his house (it’s still raining), lift the inner lid and see a inch of poop-water in Frankie’s house. 

“Ah, crap.”  And I am right, again.

No wonder he didn’t want to stay in his enclosure.  This is a week’s worth of poop completely soaked in rain. He didn't want to sit shell-deep in poop water. 

Facing the facts, I retrieve the purple pooper scooper to muck out his house (yes, it is still raining).  On my knees, I scrape water and poop from the back of his enclosure to the front of the enclosure.  The poop exits out the door but the water flows back inside.

Outside I spy that rain around Frankie’s house is backed up from debris, poop, leaves and rocks. I abandon the inside and go to outside to muck debris away from his house. 

Then I notice that Greg’s water grate on the side of Frankie’s house is backing up.  I go around the other side and the emitter is not draining.  I pull the whole emitter off the drain pipe and buckets of poop and debris gush out over my shoes, legs and hands.  Within a few moments the only thing draining is rain water.  At least the clog is gone.

Sometimes I wonder why I bother to shower at all.

I finish clearing debris from all around Frankie’s enclosure so water drains away from his front door and into back into the yard.  Time to finish mucking out his house.

Starting from the back and scraping toward the front, I move poop-water toward the exit.  The muck splashes all over me and my arms are covered in it. 

Eventually all the muck and water is pushed out of Frankie’s enclosure.  Now it is time to push Frankie back inside.  And I do. He drags more muck so I have a bit more to clean out. 

Frankie does not want to sit on a damp floor (I don’t blame him).  I take my wet, filthy, poop-covered self inside my house to fetch newspapers.  When I return Frankie is half way out of his house again.  I push him back inside.  I muck out what he’s dragged in.

Newspapers are set down all over and Frankie is dragged over.  I place more newspapers around him.  Frankie is dried with a towel to make him more comfortable. 

Tucked in his nearly dry enclosure, his heat pad slowly warming up, Frankie is finely satisfied he will not be floating in water.  Still, I block his front door so he stays inside and maybe keep some more rain from coming in.

I check again that all water is flowing nicely around his enclosure and not being blocked or diverted into his house. 

About this time, Greg starts banging on the window trying to get my attention.  I start yelling that I can’t hear him over the rain which is coming down in buckets. I give him the “one moment” hand signal and head into the house. 

“What?!” I ask.

“You need to get in the house.” He replies, rather irritated.

Yikes! Are we under a tornado warning?” 

“No,” he says, “You don’t need to be standing out there in the cold rain.”

You think? 

Once again, Frankie proves that 1.) Anything can happen with a sulcata around, 2) I can’t think of everything so must be prepared for anything, and 3) the possibilities of Frankie stories is endless