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February 26, 2009

Who Are You?

Frankie Tortoise Tails has received an significant increase in traffic over the last week and I just got to ask myself "who are these people visiting Frankie's blog?" I have been guilty of pushing family members and friends to read the blog so they know "what in the turtle tails" I have been up to. My mom (and mom's are supposed to do this) reads Frankie's Tortoise Tails faithfully (Hi, ya Mom!). Is it all family and friends visiting?

When I post things on Turtle Times my signature includes a link to Frankie Tortoise Tails. But that accounts only for the usual traffic this blog has received over the last three (or is it four?) years. Frankie's web site has a link. has a link to Frankie's web site which has a link to Frankie Tortoise Tails. Hmm. Does that account for the new readers?

At this moment I am reminded that I should apologize to readers of Frankie Tortoise Tails for the numerous English and spelling errors that you've probably come across. I have always said that English must be a second language for me as I hardly have a grasp on English in its written form. For that fact, don't expect me to be incredibly skilled verbally in person either. I either talk too fast or not at all. At least with writing there is a backspace key. There is no backspace key in real life. I also don't have the pleasure of employing an editor. My life would look so much nicer with an editor. Don't you agree we would all be much better humans with our own editor? Enough said. Apology extended, mercy applied for.

As for Frankie, he has fans. I know this. His most ardent and adoring fan sent him a bag of California dandelion greens and broad leaf plantain. Thank you, Farmer: Frankie is still smiling. Farmer also designed Frankie his own stone cave sign. It says "Frankie's cave". Farmer is very aware of Frankie's deep desire to dig under my air conditioning units. Thank you again, Farmer, for encouraging this. When he is done with my AC unit I am sending him your way. Thanks for the pictures of your new house. He knows where to dig. He is leaving Alabama on Thursday: I estimate he will be there in four years.

So who are you, readers of Frankie's blog? Yes, I really want to know. This blog accepts comments. See the button below? But perhaps you need to be a member of Turtle Times to leave a comment on a blog. If so, here is an alternative: send Frankie a "saw you blog and I loved/laughed/puzzled/was confused/accidentally came across/got sent from XXX/etc. so Frankie knows who you are. Really, do it.

Waiting for your notes, English corrections, or "We understand. We own a monster too".

February 22, 2009

Caught Again

Frankie got into a bit of a bind again.

It was warm outside but certainly not idea tortoise get-around weather. Best Frankie could do was bask some and do a small amount of grazing. Move around too much and the wind would get him cool. I was outside too and feeling the same as Frankie. I was fine in the sun but the wind could give me a chill. While Frankie was doing his bask, I was cleaning the truck.

I was keeping an eye on him but once I got vacuuming inside the truck I wasn't as watchful. When I finished vacuuming about thirty minutes later I stopped and went to check on Frankie. Since it was nearing 3:00 pm I figured he would be near the back gate ready to get inside and get to sleep. But he was not there.

I checked in his outdoor enclosure and no Frankie. I started a walk around the yard. First stop is his pile of leaves. A favorite place for Frankie to dig under. But he was not there. I continued around and saw no sign of Frankie. I even looked for signs of digging near the air condition unit. Where I failed to look was on top of the pile of stuff next to the air conditioning.

I guess Frankie was thinking to repeat his dig under the air conditioner but I had cleverly put cement blocks and boards and various object to block this activity. So Frankie tried another route - over the items. Regretfully, among the items blocking an excavation was the old nemesis: The Old Bale Of Wire.

I found Frankie once again tightly bundled within the bale of wire. To make things worse, a wire had made it around one of his legs and across part of his face. A potentially dangerous situation. Had Frankie been a horse, this would be disastrous as horses fight to the point they will cut themselves deeply. When Frankie found himself in ultimate danger he did the most prudent thing: wait for Mommy to save the day.

I, on the other hand, wisely call for The Husband to save the day. I cannot lift Frankie to safety but Greg can. Greg calls for a wire cutter to carefully move the wire from across Frankie's face. Once Frankie is free of the wire, Greg lifts him from the jaws of The Old Bale Of Wire.

Emotionally Frankie is devastated. Caught again by the evil Old Bale Of Wire. Foiled of a dig into security. Forced to be rescued again from the clutches of death. Ghastly scratches over his shell. Totally disgraced, Frankie walks the slowest I have ever seen him back home into the gecko room.

Frankie does not re-emerge from his comfortable pile of newspaper until late into the evening when I do my routine gecko room check. Poor Frankie gets a badly needed carrot and chin rub.

"Don't you fret about that mean old Bale Of Wire." I tell Frankie. "It goes to the recycling center first thing this week."

February 15, 2009

Take A Walk

Frankie took his first walk around the neighborhood this year. Up to now he has been limited to walks around the gecko room, to and from the side yard, from the gecko room into the back yard and recently it's been warm enough for Frankie to actually walk around his yard.

Physical limits to Frankie's "get around" can make Frankie cranky. It does worry me when Frankie seems to accept his limited walking time and his limited space. I know it's time for "The Big Walk."

Frankie really likes The Big Walk. The Big Walk means getting out of the house and out of the yard and walking around block in our neighborhood. The course is routine. We go down the drive way, turn left on the street, continue down the street, make a slight left turn at the bottom of the street, and continue up the street. After that it gets a bit tricky. Without me he would end up in someone yard, garage, or other places I don't want him. Regardless of what he thinks, he needs my assistance. And I insist.

So on the day of The Big Walk the weather is exceptionally warm. Frankie had been in his yard grazing and basking since 8:00 a.m. The time is 10:00 p.m. and I completed all morning chores. I decide to take him on The Big Walk.

"Want to go on a walk?" I ask Frankie. This is a phrase I absolutely know that Frankie understands. No matter what direction he is facing or what he is doing in the yard, this question will cause him to turn on a direct course for the gate. Occasionally he will look at me as if to say, "You aren't teasing me, are you?" I repeat the invitation to walk and the reassured tortoise starts his steady walk in the correct direction.

As Frankie walks from the yard to the gate and down the drive way, I gather essential supplies: a bottle of water, a skate board, and a handful of straps stuffed into a messenger bag. By the time I have the alarm set and door locked Frankie is half way down the drive and ready for the first left turn.

Frankie's pace is not as quick as a dog: a large dog, small dog, or even a three legged dog. A eighty year old grandmother could out walk Frankie even if the lady had crutches. I would say that Frankie has the pace of a three year old child. I have learned to take the steps of a three year old child which is about one-fifth the stride of a small woman in orthopedic shoes. You would think we would get no where but don't count Frankie out.

The legend of the tortoise and the hare is based in reality. Frankie is one serious walker. He is concentrated, persevering, steady: a tortoise with a mission. Nothing stops him. . . . . . except perhaps dandelions and carrots. Children, parked cars, pot holes, piles of leaves, garbage cans, and even my feet are all things to plow through. Frankie walks a straight line and pity the object in his path. This is another reason Frankie needs me as a guide: to get him safely around obstacles.

This being the first Big Walk since last year, I wonder if he will remember the normal course we always take. Frankie answers this with seeming complete knowledge of said path by requiring no course corrections. . . . .up to the regular point where Frankie and I always disagree as to the direction we are go proceed. He would like to go straight forward, over a curb and into oblivion which is a short bit of weeds and then a twenty foot drop into an undeveloped area of the neighborhood. I have been so tempted to let him discover the foolishness of this so called desired course of his but the "mom" in me always insist on forcing a turn.

Forcing a turn means blocking his path with my legs and feet. He will bump, step on and attempt the basketball fake on me to proceed his intended direction. The fight for control over the direction is as brutal as any professional sporting event. If I start loosing the battle I bring out reinforcements: the skateboard (you were wondering about the skateboard weren't you).

If Frankie refuses to quit fighting and take my direction I put him on the skateboard. The skateboard has a pull rope attached so once he is loaded up I pull the skateboard and him back to the desired path. The straps are for extreme situations. I will wrap the straps on so Frankie can't slip off. I can pull him up steep inclines without him falling off the back. The skateboard has saved me many, many times. Once I get Frankie re-orientated to my direction, I will take him off and we will proceed with The Big Walk.

This day being the first Big Walk of the year and first in several months, we only go half the route. We return exhausted (okay, I return exhausted) and Frankie is ready to hit the back yard for some serious grazing. I can't wait for a nap.

We've been gone for thirty five minutes. It's a walk that I can do all by myself in eight minutes.

It's not called The Big Walk for nothing.

February 8, 2009

A Sulcata's Perfect Day

So what does a sulcata think is a perfect day? Well, Frankie clued me in to his idea of a perfect sulcata day. And he should know because today he had a perfect sulcata day.

His perfect day started the night before. Frankie was tucked into his newly cleaned "cave" in the gecko room. Newspaper was crumpled around him like a blanket and he sat on his nice and warm thermal pad. Frankie was dreaming tortoise dreams of endless green grass fields and buckets of carrots when I came in the room about 10:00 pm to check on him and all the geckos. Now most tortoise or people would consider being waken late at night to be a bummer but for Frankie it's a treat because he gets a carrot. A carrot is just the right late night snack to make any sulcata sleep like a tortoise.

As I left turning out the lights behind me, Frankie returned to tortoise dreams until the gecko room lights come on about 7:45 am. As the lights come on so does Frankie's overhead ceramic heater. Frankie gets up and moves under his ceramic heater and waits for me to come downstairs to water the geckos.

When I finally get down to the gecko room about 8:30 am Frankie gets the biggest surprise of the day: the temperature outside is already a sunny 50º F. No breakfast of hay this morning, Frankie gets to head straight outdoors. After weeks and weeks of dreary cold, a warm sunny day can transform a grumpy tortoise into a "tip toe through the tulips" happy Frankie.

Frankie is greeted by an unbelievably wonderful morning. The sun is out in full and the temperature is perfect for a hour bask in the sun. Frankie picks his very favorite basking site under a very tall pine tree and next to Greg's weather station. Frankie spreads his back feet out from under his shell and stretches his front feet out in front of him. Frankie is truly a sun worshiper!

Following his hour long bask in the sun, Frankie is toasty but not hot. He starts his walkabout around the yard. Finely it is time to do some serious grazing. There is plenty of winter grasses and weeds in the yard so Frankie feasts. For the rest of the afternoon Frankie alternates between grazing, basking and walking. Since the temperature doesn't pass 69º F Frankie never overheats nor is he too cold to be a busy sulcata.

I too take some time to go outside and walk around the yard with Frankie. This is my daily task to check for hazards which I find none. Frankie appreciates the company. After I leave Frankie selects another fine basking spot and sits until shade passes over him.

Shade is Frankie's cue that its time to head for the house. He moises across the lawn eating all the weeds and grass that cross his path. By the time he is at the back gate I am there to lead him back inside into the gecko room.

With no complaint or fuss, Frankie walks the trail from the back yard, through the driveway, into the garage and back into the gecko room. His nice comfy "cave" awaits. His heat pad is already warm. Frankie digs his way through the tall pile of crumpled newspaper. His butt does not quite get covered so I do the honors tucking him in for the night.

Frankie is asleep immediately dreaming of his perfect sulcata day.