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November 29, 2011

A Bit of Coordination

I am back inside the gecko room.  Again.  I don't know why I just can't stay outside.  Is it cold or something?  Might be.  Mom is wearing socks.
The gecko room's been moved around or something.  There are not so many areas for me to squeeze myself under or between.  The cricket containers are still on the floor for me to push around.  Steel Stella is here except she looks sorta odd turned up:  more like a bowl than a hump-able shell.  I will think about this and eventually figure it out.

Mom wakes me up with her "Good morning, Frankie!" song.  She's here in the morning to water the geckos and turn on my ceramic heater before returning up stairs.  I find my self humming that tune over and over all day. 

About the cat, Newt.  She comes downstairs anytime mom is here.  Get this:  Newt spends more time with me than chasing crickets or watching the geckos.  Newt likes to get in my box with me and sleep.  No kidding.  She doesn't even bother sleeping under the heat lamp.  She just curls up next to me and falls into one of those deep kitty sleeps that require her head to be tucked under her whole body.

I haven't tried to eat the cat.  She is just too nice.  And fluffy.

The gecko room is like a gym where I can train to get into shape.  It gives me a chance to work on my personal manuvers.  We sulcata have movement limitations due to our distinctly different front and back suspension system.  Sure we are capable all-terrain  travelers.  Forward walking is natural.  Nothing else is that easy.

My front feet are wider than the back end so turning in a tight area is tricky.  Backing up doesn't come natural:  it takes practice.  Neither does stepping up and down.

There is a shelf  so close to the floor that I can walk over it.  Mom is wise enough to keep it cleared off otherwise I just push everything off.   Still, it's not so easy getting all the feet to line up on the way up or down.  There is a wicked 90 degree turn on either side so I have to start my turn as soon as I step down.  Really tough stuff.

One tricky move is is the back-up turn.  This takes unbelievable coordination with all four feet: Back step on one foot, then hold it in one place to pivot.  One front foot steps out to the side and the other front foot steps in front of my face face.  I often smacked myself in the nose doing this one. 

I mentioned the cricket containers I get to move around.  Really want to get one up to ramming speed. 

Need to talk the management about the cuisine.  I make it a point to eat newspapers when the food gets too borning or I think mom is holding back on the good stuff.  You know, "where's the pumpkin!"

Being inside isn't all that bad.  Lots to do.  Geckos are good company.  Cat visits often.  Mom is always around.  Until I get to go outside again I'll keep busy looking for weak spots in the Gecko-Anti-Frankie-Wreck-Room.  If there is a weakness, I'll find it.

November 18, 2011

Good for my spirits

I just couldn't stand it anymore.  I really was missing Frankie.

As a big sulcata tortoise, Frankie spends the entire summer outside in his yard.  No need to bring him in every night.  He has a great solid fence.  He sleeps in his climate controlled enclosure.  I visit him often if it's not too hot.  Best of all, my computer overlooks the yard so I watched Frankie all day doing his tortoise thing.

This fall his enclosure proved that it could take the cold down to 40º F.  For the first time ever, Frankie stayed outside in his yard in his heated enclousre into November.

Yeah! for Frankie. 

Yep, Frankie was living indoors by this time last year.  Frankie would be walked outside every morning and back inside every night.  Greg insulated his enclosure so he no longer has to stay inside.

However, if the outdoor temperature doesn't get above 65º and the sun doesn't shine, Frankie remains in his heated enclosure all day.   No watching Frankie in the yard.  No watching Frankie bask in the sun.  Nope, he is snuggled up in his nice warm house.

Sad for me.

So yesterday, I dragged him out of his enclosure.  The very slow moving Frankie took forever to inch toward the sun were I waited for him with a carrot.  Frankie is not a speedy tortoise when cool.  He looked increasingly colder and slower between his enclosure and the fifteen foot walk to his basking spot.

If it were colder, I could imagine Frankie freezing into a tortoise statue.

A Frankie statue would be a sad sight so I help him a bit by dragging him into the sunlight.  We sit together in the sun  for the first time in a long time. I've missed him.

If Frankie was sleeping inside at night I would see him a lot.  I decide that it would be good for Frankie if he slept inside the gecko room.  He would get a big warm up and we could spend time together.

Frankie isn't liking it outside so I ask him, "Wanna go inside?"  Amazingly, Frankie remembers what this means.

Good news:  Frankie pivots toward the gate and starts walking.  Bad news:  Did I say "walking?"  Cold as he was he moves more like molasses in January.  Sun sets in an hour.  We may just make it to the back door by then.

Ever so slowly Frankie inches past the gate, past the garage door, into the gecko room, and into a waiting box stuffed full of newspapers.  He wastes no time tunneling under the newspapers.

In the morning I show up at 7:00 am just before the gecko room lights turn on.  Cup of coffee in hand, I sit and watch Frankie sleep.

He is so cute.  He sleeps with his head on his arm.

When the light come on he continues sleeping.  He is a late sleeper.  He will not be fully awake until well after 9:00 am.

My spirits genuinely improve as I sip my coffee and give Frankie a shell rub.   

Good for both of us.

November 6, 2011

Snack Attack

Okay, so here it is.....I got run over this week.   I got run over this week by Frankie.

Next day I hear the song "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer."  I felt a little ashamed. 

Really, it was not all his fault.  I still think of Frankie as my 25 pound tortoise I can carry in a basket.  I forget he is a slow-moving, object-leveling, potentially dangerous 85 pound tortoise.  It was my mistake.   

What specific error did I make? I got between Frankie and a snack.

Frankie gets a carrot snack almost every day.  I cut up a carrot into four or five bite sized pieces for him to eat.

"Frankie!  Wanna treat?" and Frankie responds like a hot rod when the traffic light turns green.  Frankie knows exactly what those words mean.  Frankie, who is at the higher end of the yard heads my way in a huff.  I decide to sit down on the ground. 

The outside temperature was warm so I was wearing shorts. The sun is nice and warm so I stretched my legs out in front of me as I wait for Frankie to reach me.  

Wearing shorts around Frankie is about as smart as riding a bull in a mini skirt.  There is a very good reason cowboys wear boots, jean and chaps.

I am sitting on the ground getting my carrots sorted out.  I put two carrots on my left side nearest the rapidly approaching Frankie and set the other three carrots on the right side of my legs.

Without thinking about it, I have put myself between Frankie and carrots.     

Sulcata tortoises have a blind spot just under the chin.  Did you know that?

Frankie is moving so fast that he misses the carrots on the grounds and instead aims for the carrots on the other side of my legs.

His left front foot digs deeply into my tender white thigh.  This is going to leave a mark.  Gasping in pain, I try stop him before his right front foot crushes my shin.

Lifting an 85 pound sulcata tortoise off my lap is just something I can't do.  Tears in my eyes, I grab the three carrots and offer them to Frankie if he will back off.  He retreats just enough to free my leg. 

My newest Frankie wound looks like a vampire bite:  Two very deep puncture on my upper leg.  Blood  oozes from the points every so slowly.

I say to myself, "Isn't the season for True Blood starting soon?" 

Over the next few days, the puncture wounds swells up and shades of blue, purple and red spread out around it.  Ouch at the touch.

Frankie is a changing hazard to which I must constantly adapt.  He is not aggressive, he doesn't mean any harm and he wouldn't hurt a flea.  But, Frankie is an uncommonly heavy pet with unique destructive features.  I just have to be alert around him.

I haven't gone to the hospital because of Frankie.....yet.