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July 31, 2014

The Story of Bob the Magic Tortoise

Once, not very far away, there was a land of modest fame where a young boy name Prince resided with his Queen Mom and his King Dad.   Prince was a special boy who lived in a spectrum called Autism.  The people didn’t know what this meant, nor could they understand his frequent seizures so they just said the Prince was sick and left him alone. 

Prince kept to himself and never spoke to anyone.  He didn’t understand that he was different he just knew his head was full up inside and he had thoughts no one understood.  His seizures struck like sudden thunderstorms and his mind became chaos and darkness.
One day, a magic tortoise named Bob was walking by and saw Prince sitting very quiet in his garden.  Bob walked right up to Prince and they became instant friends.  Bob decided he must stay and live in the garden that belonged to Prince and his family.

The once silent Prince began speaking to Bob, and Bob would talk to Prince. Even though no one else could hear Bob speak, Prince would listen to Bob and understood everything Bob said.  Prince knew this was because Bob was a magical tortoise.

Everyday Prince would bring flowers and clovers for Bob to eat and he would tell Bob about his day at school.  Prince told Bob about the things he thought and he would tell Bob when was feeling bad.  Prince told Bob the thoughts in his head got so jumbled up that it sounded like buffalo stampedes, and his seizures stormed through his head like lightning. 

Bob told Prince a great secret: when you can breathe like all the winds of the world like I do, your thoughts will fall away like feathers and the thunderstorms loose their thunder.  Bob taught Prince to breath in deep like the ocean, to blow slowly like a breeze, to puff strong like a tornado, to breathe warm like the desert, and even blow funny like a raspberry.  Prince began to get better, he could sleep through the night, and fewer thunderstorms happened in his head.

King Dad and Queen Mom saw that their son was happier than he had ever been before and the reason they believed was Bob.  Everyone could see that Bob was helping Prince.  It wasn't long before everyone believed that Bob was a magical tortoise.

Word about Bob the magic tortoise spread far and wide.  A boy who lived outside the realm wanted to know what kind of magic a tortoise could have.  One day he stole Bob from the families’ garden.

The boy took Bob to a mountain top so he could take Bob’s magic for himself. The boy was very cruel and ordered Bob to do magic for him.  Bob became sick as the boy screamed over and over to see magic. When no magic happen the boy got very angry and he left the ailing Bob alone on the mountain. Lost and sick, Bob could not find his way home.

Bob cried and cried for Prince, his special friend.  Bob wanted to go home as he worried that Prince would stop breathing like all the winds of the world and would forget how to stay well.  Bob cried so much that tiny golden tears surrounded him on the mountain top.

Living in the mountains are many creatures, some scary and some wonderful. It is difficult even for a magical tortoise like Bob to know who are friends and who would do him harm. 

A very scary monster came across Bob on the mountain and saw that the tortoise was lost and alone. The monster took pity on the sick tortoise and decided to help him.  He collected all the golden tears that Bob cried for Prince and made a trail of golden tears that started from Bob and went all the way down to the land where Prince lived. 

On that day King Dad and Queen Mom were looking for Bob as they had for days.  They came across the trail of shinning golden tears so beautiful that they knew that they had to come from a magical tortoise.  The two followed the trail up into the mountain and there, hidden among trees and bushes, was Bob, very, very sick.

Bob was carried down the mountain and to a special healer.  The healer understood about tortoises and about magical ones like Bob.  Special herbs and elixirs were mixed to make Bob feel better. Bob would stay with the healer until he got well. 

Since the day Bob went missing, Prince was very upset.  He worried and worried about his friend and he forgot to breathe like all the winds of the world.  Prince was silent once again and his seizures returned like chaos as never before.

King Dad and Queen Mom told Prince that Bob was found but said the magic tortoise could not come home as he was very sick.  Prince grieved to find out that someone hurt Bob for his magic.  Prince knew that Bob’s magic was a gift that not just anyone could have.

While Bob was with the healer, Prince worried so much that he could not sleep and his thoughts were like horses trampling across his mind.  Prince struggled to stay well while he waited for Bob to get better.  Prince needed Bob, and Bob needed Prince.  Magic tortoise and friend struggled to get well again.

While Bob recovered at the healer’s cottage, Prince came to see him when ever he could.  At every visit Prince brought Bob his favorite flowers and clover from the garden but the weak tortoise could not eat any of them.

One day, when Prince was visiting, he asked Bob to please eat one of the flowers that he brought him.  Bob looked up to the Prince and silently said, “I will eat a flower but first you must show me how the wind blows warm in the desert.”

Prince took a long deep breath and slowly blew a steady whistle of air that was warm and soft like the desert wind on a hot day. When Prince finished, Bob said, “Now we will both get better and soon I can go home with you.”  Bob ate the flower Prince had brought him.

Very soon Bob the magical tortoise moved back to the garden with Prince. Everyday after school, Prince would rush to the garden and show Bob how all the winds in the world blew while Bob ate clover and flowers.

Prince and Bob lived happy after that, for everyone knows that turtles can heal boys and boys can heal turtles. There really isn’t magic, it’s really just love, and love is all that really matters.

* * * *

Dedicated to my magic tortoise, Frankie.  Happy Birthday!

July 18, 2014

Endless Pursuit

Big day for me on Thursday:  gecko management & feeding, working with two injured turtles, cursing a phone that hasn't worked in 35 hours, two doctor appointments, painting trim outside, and haunting thoughts, without relief, over the torture of another turtle.

With no sleep to help me navigate the day the only escape I get is watching Frankie's endless pursuit of absolutely nothing.  He walks everywhere in his yard getting no where special yet with focus of vital importance.  At least the weather today is comfortable.  Awake since eight in the morning, Frankie is taking advantage of every moment as he has.

At three I decide I deserve a nap so I go inside, recline on my sofa, turn on TV, and relax.  The Godfather is on and even though it's violent, the scene of the Don chasing his grandson and having a heart attack is surreal so I may wake up just to see that.

Cat in lap, I slip off into a very comfortable state of not-completely-asleep-but-pretty-much-unavailable-to-the-world for a nice stress relief and temporary halt to reoccurring thoughts of mobster-like-violence I'd like to try on turtle abusers but absolutely know I'm incapable of physically hurting anyone.

How long was I napping?  Thirty minutes? Forty-five? A god awful clatter unfamiliar to my trained reptile emergency and Frankie-catastrophe-in-process ear causes me to bolt up from the chair.  The recently sleeping cat goes flying to the ground.  I clear my mind and wait fully aware to see if it happens again.

Probably Frankie, I think, but it could be a neighbor.

Rumble! rumble! crack!

It's got to be Frankie I think as I open the back door but also confounded that the sound is muffled like it's happening in a tunnel.

The back porch is cluttered with things waiting storage.  There was a ladder next to Frankie's dogloo but that's been push aside, probably by Frankie (remember the video of the sulcata moving the ladder?  Yeah, Frankie does this now).  I pull aside an empty cardboard box and there it is.

Frankie is head first into his dogloo.  All I see are two back feet are posed on the edge of the dogloo.  He is just sitting there.  I tilt my head to one side to think what's in that dogloo that has Frankie's undivided attention?

Those two feet squarely set on lip of the dogloo are there for a reason.  I witness that huge shell pull back on top of those feet which then launch Frankie deep into the dogloo accompanied by a huge, but muffled, BAM!

I am not stupid, okay maybe my priorities are skewed, but disregarding what ever is being rammed to pieces in that dogloo, I got to video this and it just happens the camera is just inside the door.  I get it.

It takes about forty seconds to fetch, turn on, switch to video, compose my self (so the camera doesn't shake) and focus on Frankie's back end. Go!

What used to be in the dogloo was a bale of hay.  Only bits of hay remain but behind the absent hay is wire garden boarder, a bird feeder, and, well, this is why he is there, a plastic turtle form Julie from Turtle Rescue of Long Island sent Frankie so he could hump it.

Frankie's friend, Judy.
This could be classified as a conjugal visit.  Judy (plastic turtle's name) has been hidden from Frankie since we got here.  He has enough things to hump in the yard.  He doesn't need another.  Judy has not been available to Frankie's affections.

Tortoise affections and mating overtures just don't compare to human courtship. Tortoises don't give flowers.  Rams: They prefer to give rams. Endlessly.

The video is two minutes.  Possibly Frankie was whispering sweet nothings between rams but trust me, quiet moments are followed by passionate overtures of pure ramming. 


Video can also be seen on YouTube: Link to Frankie's video

Dedicated to our long time friend, Pat and her yard monster, Frankie. 

July 9, 2014

Let the Games Begin!

A friend e-mailed me yesterday.  "You don't write any more.  What is going on?"

I dunno.  It's summer.  A lot of things going on at home, with Greg and I,  injured box turtles, geckos, new house, and Frankie.  Things!

I mean, it's summer.  Yeah, Frankie is busier than ever.

Yesterday I was working in the yard and I spy Greg just standing in the middle of the yard watching Frankie walk the fence line.

"What are you doing, Greg?"

"Watching Frankie get in trouble."

I look back at Frankie who is just walking along the fence line.

"He is just walking, Greg."

"If Frankie is walking Frankie is getting into trouble." 

I look back at Frankie at the end of the fence line.  As if he was plainly blind Frankie bumps nose first into the corner fence.  He shakes off hauling right into the fence, shimmies the corner and proceeds walking along the fence line.

I see Frankie do this walk-into-corner-bump-into-wall a lot.  He just doesn't get corners all that well.  He just doesn't get a lot of things that well.

Greg and I emptied our rented storage space.  Twenty boxes, two vivariums, two bicycles, a dining room table and chairs, holiday decorations, turn table, lawn spreader, mirror, and a few miscellaneous bits were stuffed into two vehicles and driven home as the last bit of evidence that we moved six months ago.

We decided it would be easiest to take everything through the back gate since it's a quick 12 foot walk to the backdoor. Straight into the house. 

Not taken into account is the path from car to house passes right through a territory belonging to a beast who can make a twelve foot path fraught with all kinds of dangers. Boxes in arm, we walk into the yard and head directly to the backdoor.

Frankie is quick to observe two potential food givers and made a beeline to the back door.  When we came out of the house we are forced to hop over the big shelled obstacle.  We dashed to the back gate with Frankie in hot pursuit.

And so began games of tag, leap frog, hopscotch, and tag with Greg and I passing back and forth from gate to door and Frankie looking a lot like Jackie Robinson playing rundown back and forth between first base and second base.

Except he isn't as quick as Jackie Robinson.

You see, Frankie's turn's are awkward.  He is like a big car attempting to turn around in a very narrow street: pull back, shift forward, one step, push back on back foot, slide front foot over, push back foot forward, step forward once, pull back, shift forward.....and so on.

Our trips to and fro cars and house continue.  Stuck mid route is Frankie looking to tag the first human to pass in front of him.  Just as he is turned to get the one walking into the house the other is just walking in the gate.  It's like a game of Keep Away and Frankie can't win.

He is persistent.

Back to Frankie's apparent blindness.

We dug a trench in the yard from the house to the solar panels.  The trench wasn't that deep or wide but it's obvious to any one or animal with eyes.  Except Frankie.

Frankie walked right into that trench, dozens of times.  Every time one of his feet fell in he looked annoyed or surprised. 

Just how long is this canyon going to be here?

This is annoying.
It's hard not to be amused with Frankie, at the expensive of his dignity.  It's just Frankie's profound lack of spatial awareness creates potential for chaos during his everyday walking around.

Good morning, Frankie.  Hope you had a good sleep.

Let the chaos commence!