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August 29, 2009

Frankie as Art - II

The response to Frankie's paper mache shell was so amazing I thought I should share some comments:

"Don't let him near little puppies who are 'paper training'"
"Now he can read the paper while he's going potty!"
"When you go for a walk you can read the newspaper at the same time."
What is black and white and read all over? Frankie!

Costume Ideas for Frankie in the paper mache shell:
A printing press
Newspaper boy
Origami Turtle

Captions for the picture:
"That is the last time I go to that kindergarten class!"
"Hello, my name is Frankie and I'm a news-print-aholic."
"Fold this! Fold like that! Baaahh! I ate the whole origami class."

Check back for more!

August 28, 2009

Frankie as art

While Frankie been enjoying his birthday cake and having fun walking in a parade, I have spent the month working my fingers to the bone getting his Halloween costume ready. Frankie has a reputation to uphold.

His Frankie-o-Lantern Halloween costume was a big winner. He brought in over $200 in prizes by winning or placing at local Petco and PetSmart pet costume contests, and national pet photo costume contests at You Pet and AARP. Having all this money turned Frankie into a shop-a-holic, albeit generous gift giver to family members. Besides buying himself some hay and cuttle bone, he also bought the Water Dragon a pool and cats enough food to last six months.

But there is that expectation that his costume this year has to be something special. Anyone tell him that I am no expert when it comes to sewing? It's true. But I try.

The pumpkin costume doesn't even fit him anymore so the first thing I had to do was re-measure the beast. And he is significantly bigger. So big that I decided that making a costume would be a bit easier if I had a "Frankie model". Frankie is a lousy model as standing still to be fitted is not in his character.

But how to make a model? There was a brief but completely disastrous attempt to make a foam model. The sound of rubbing foam is enough to send me over the moon. I had to wear ear plugs. I tried very hard to "cut"and form a shape like a tortoise only to get thousands of little pieces of white foam all over my garage that will never clean up. When they tear this house down in a hundred years there will still be white foam pieces all over. That stuff never goes away!

But Greg comes through with the good ideas.

"Simple," says Greg. "Paper mache him."

I do the research to see if this will work. And it seems very possible.

The plan: cover Frankie's shell with aluminum, set wet paper mache all over him, let it dry,remove. Sounds simple enough.

Nothing is simple with Frankie.

First, Frankie is not going to sit still for thirty minutes so I can cover him in paper mache.

I get a brilliant idea: paper mache him while he sleeps.

So I get everything ready and head outside at 7:00 p.m.with everything I need. Cover him with aluminum. Start applying newspaper soaked in flour water. Wait for it to dry. By 10:00 p.m. there is no sign that the stinkin' thing is ever going to dry.

Hey, I live in Alabama and the humidity level is80%. What did I think would happen?

At 11:00 p.m. I have no choice but remove the soggy thing from Frankie's shell. I do my very best to re-set the soggy thing in a shape like Frankie. I place on a box. Pray it works and go to bed.

Next morning and it's still damp but it actually looks a bit like Frankie's s hell. And wonder of wonder, since it is still damp I can take it outside and put it on Frankie again. As he basks in the sun the paper mache actually dries to Frankie's form.

Two days later I have to repeat the whole process as the paper mache shell cannot hold up to its use as a Frankie model. It needs a few more layers of paper mache. At least on the second try to paper mache things go much better and I learn to let the sun lend a hand.

This time I let the paper mache shell dry as Frankie basks and then starts his morning grass grazing. Walking around the yard Frankie looks art.

And the completed product is a perfect Frankie model.

That was four weeks ago.

His costume? Nearly done. Come on, I don't sew all that well and the costume is an original design and no picnic to complete.

Sorry, not ready to unveil it yet. You will just have to be in suspense.

But you can look at Frankie as Art.

August 22, 2009

On your march!

I have reported on numerous occasions that Frankie is a walking fool, he loves to participate in parades and The Big Walk is his favorite activity. Maybe many people expect a large tortoise to be a slow awkward creature but the sulcata tortoise is a speedy thing when let loose. Frankie loves to be let loose.

Before getting Frankie, I encountered maybe a half dozen large sulcata tortoises all of who were confined to small spaces or small containers. These sulcata were dull and inactive. These first impression were horribly deceptive and now looking back on these poor creatures I realize that they were probably raised in terrible conditions and no longer behaved as a real sulcata should.

Frankie has taught me what a real sulcata is like….and sedate is not a characteristic. Slow is not a descriptive word.

But pictures speak louder than words. A video speaks volumes.

Without further adieu, a video of Frankie walking in the Dawg Daze Pet Parade giving the crowd an eye full of fast moving tortoise. Go, Frankie, Go!

August 6, 2009

Frankie's Birthday

I just wanted to announce that Frankie is 8 years old!

He celebrated his birthday with a cake and a walk around the block!

I hear he is working on a birthday wish list...can't wait to see that!

How To Make A Sulcata Birthday Cake

Plan on making potato salad for dinner.

Chop up a whole potato. Put into boiling water. Forget it's there for 30 minutes. Return to the kitchen, see soft potatoes. Cuss. Drain water and put aside potatoes.

Chop up another whole potato. Put into boiling water and set timer for ten minutes. Return to the kitchen in 15 minutes. Cuss. Drain water and put aside potatoes.

Decide to call for pizza delivery for dinner.

Wonder what to do about wasted potatoes.

Remember that Frankie's birthday was Monday.

Think potatoes alone are not great for sulcata,. Remember that Frankie needs his weekly calcium.

Measure out one cup of calcium carbonate. Mix with two overcooked potatoes.

Notice that the horrible gray color isn't very appetizing. Remember food dye that sits in cupboard since marriage 14 years ago. Fetch.

Mix in eight drops of yellow food dye. Mix well. End up using hands to mix well.

Shape in to cake.

Chop carrots and stick into cake.

Place cake ten feet in front of sulcata. Clear out of the way.

August 1, 2009

The stranger

Just how well do owners know their Sulcata Tortoise pets? Does a sulcata owner know a beloved pet by sight alone? Perhaps it's our tortoise's antics that define who it really is. After all, how do we really know when someone has sneaked a pretender in its place?

I believed it was Frankie's endless antics that defined him. But it's been a strange week.

Earlier this week I mowed the yard. A quick safety look around the yard did not turn up any Frankie "pushed" or "dragged" items like tree limbs, chairs or parts of fences. Frankie's yard was free of the usual debris so mowing was easy. Remarkably, Frankie stayed away from the lawn mower. For once Frankie didn't attempt to "mow" down the lawn mower. It was a bit refreshing.

Then there was the lady who came over to take publicity photographs for Frankie's appearance at the Annual Leeds Downtown Folk Festival. Much to my surprise, Frankie was a perfect gentleman - no flashing the proper Southern Lady or humping his favorite log in front of her. Frankie was very good and sat for his photograph with one bitty carrot to keep him occupied. Hmm, is Frankie developing manners?

And then the other day I invite Frankie to take a walk. Usually a verbal "Hey, Frankie, you want to take a walk?" and Frankie makes a bee line to the gate and heads down the drive before the gate is locked behind him. This time he just sat there like he didn't even know an invitation to his favorite activity was given. I had to repeat myself many times, point to the gate and even demonstrate how to walk through the gate. He finally got the idea and followed me.

As he passed my garden there was a brief panic but much to my surprise he completely ignored all the delicious squash plants and continued walking. It was beyond belief.

Then, instead of walking down the drive he stopped to graze on the front yard. He has never done this. Never ever! I've waited four years for him to do this. He always prefers walking. Frankie spent thirty minutes grazing the front yard. I sat on the front steps and sipped ice tea.

Frankie even made it easy when it was time to go back. I just said, "Frankie, time to go to the back yard." Much to my complete astonishment, he did! Not fighting, no dragging, no need to call Greg to pick the monster up and put him into the backyard. Frankie just walked to the backyard like he understood English for the first time in his life. Go figure!

We had a huge storm this week: flooding, thunder, lightening. I just knew Frankie was caught out in the storm and I would have to go outside to drag him into his house. I put on my big red rain coat, buttoned it completely up, put the hood over my head and fastened it under my chin, and put on a pair of rain boots. Just as I got to the bottom of the stairs I spy Frankie headed under the porch to his house. He's never smart enough to take shelter! I always have to go outside, risk my life in the middle of a dangerous storm and haul him to safety.

By this time I am getting very suspicious.

So last night I go to clean poop out of the outdoor enclosure before Frankie turns in for the night. I carefully take out the Purple Pooper Scooper so not to catch Frankie's attention and face being attacked. I open his enclosure ready to clean a couple of pounds of his morning deposits. And there are none. None!

What in the name of Alabama is going on here?

I am standing there in complete disbelief as Frankie ambles over to climb into his shelter for the night. He heads to the back and snuggles into his hay. "Impostor!" I say, "Who are you and what have you done to my Frankie!"