Saturday, June 06, 2009

Time sure flies...

...when you have a life. When you don't, it c r a w l s. In other words, I can't believe a month has passed since I last wrote. Still battling various bugs, one of which caused a horrendous bout of bronchitis which, I was dismayed to find last night, is starting to rear its ugly head again. Fie! Be gone! Yes, well, that was far more cathartic than effective. By doing pretty much nothing, I am hoping to stave off a full recurrence.

On a far brighter note, the end of May saw the beginning of an extended stay here of my favorite goddog (okay, only goddog, but, still), Sidney! We haven't had a good long visit in quite a while, something we've both missed, though I have to say that it hasn't bothered Mikey one bit.

Though, truth be told, after a couple of days of getting used to a moose in the house, Mike starts to enjoy it, since Sid is still very nervous around Mike and freezes when Mike approaches if he isn't able to run in the other direction from where Mike is. Mike takes that as Sid's recognition of Mike's Supreme Allbeingness, which goodness knows Mike doesn't get from me. When even the big tortoise contests Mike's right to rule the feeding station, Mike is happy to subjugate anyone who spends any time in this house besides the usual crew of freaks, er, me, the tortoises and the weeny turtle.

Speaking of whom, Tobago was itching to get out of her enclosure the other day, so I took her out while I cleaned up a bit, letting her hang out with Mike:

Needless to say, I kept an eye on them, in case Mike decided to vent his ire against Treppie, with whom he jousts at the feeding station, by dumping it on Tobago, who wouldn't hurt a fly. A snail or mini-crawler, yes; fly, no. Alas.

Sid spends some of his time here outside watching the tortoises carefully, making sure they don't try to escape from their shells. When he's not doing that, he is on watch for the rat that has taken up residence in my yard, which I discovered when the whole ears of corn I put out for the tortoises started disappearing.

For a year or so, there was a cat--feral or just someone's outdoor cat--who spent the nights sleeping on the lounge chair on my patio. I didn't mind her there, and during the cold, wet winter, I put out some food and water for her on days when she didn't leave her roost. She stopped coming after the first time the new neighbor's dogs broke through the fence into my backyard, something they've done repeatedly over the past year since they've lived there. Before then, my backyard was a rest area on the local cat highway, with many cats making their way through my yard, hanging out and sunning themselves, like this one, whom I called Scairdy Cat because s/he always fled when any of the other cats came around:

Anyway, Sidney is a renowned ratter, so I was counting on his ratting skills to nail this sucker. To date, it's Rat 1, Sidney 0. ::sigh::

Sidney watching the tortoises:

Sidney is showing many signs of age, including not demanding to play as often or as long as we used to. Now, our mornings go something like this:

6:30 AM - Sidney lets me know that Mikey is up. When Mike makes it into the hallway, I get up, run his bath, pick him up and go through our morning bath ritual before putting him in the tub. While he soaks, I let Sidney out, clean up Mike's poo, and make Sid's breakfast. Sid and I go back to our respective beds until

9-9:30 AM - As Mike nears the end of his bath time (he usually gets out of the tub about the time his heater's timer goes off), Sid lets me know that it's time for me to get up to take my meds and, more importantly, stuff one of his hollow cow bones with peanut butter.

The rest of the morning is spent with Sid excavating peanut butter from the bone while Mike dawdles over his food and eventually makes his way back to his room. Sid helps me eat my breakfast, and helpfully cleans Mike's leftovers and any other leftovers if the tortoises have been inside that morning.

The rest of the day is spent with Mikey getting periodic visits and cuddles from me in his room, where he can also glare at Sid who comes in to see what's going on (and maybe there' will be food)(or petting). The day is also punctuated with Sid helping eradicate the household population of grapes, and the occasional almond from my trail mix, or a peanut I hold back from the squadron of scrub jays that come around a couple times a day.

Sometimes Sid goes into the backyard alone, sometimes with me. Sometimes he watches the tortoises, sometimes he annoys the dogs next door (which I wouldn't worry about other than for their ability to claw their way through the fence to get into my yard).

One foul day, while I was watering my fig sapling that had a couple of ripening figs on it, Sidney ATE MY FIGS!!!!! Bad dog! There were fewer treats that day, and I intend to exact revenge on his mom's fig tree when hers come into season late this year (that is, if Sidney and Ginger have left any within reach - damn dobies can jump and harvest anything within my reach!)

Here's Sid tuckered out after cleaning all the peanut butter ouf of his bone. And not just any peanut butter, mind you, but the organic fresh ground (when she bought it in March, at least) peanut butter from Oliver's.

Sid's age is also showing in his reluctance to lay long on firm surfaces. So, he came not only with three containers of peanut butter and two bones, but also a large dog mattress for the floor, and a "sheepskin" blanket, sheet, and two pillows. I, ahem, also have a "sheepskin" blanket, so that's under there, too.

I had plans to take him to the dog park, and to the pet store so he could pick out a treat, and even cleared all my emergency/disaster response stuff out of my back seat so he'd have something more comfortable to lay on instead of the cargo area. (Spoiled? My goddog?? Nevah!)

Okay, so Mike's letting me know that it's time I talked about him. Hear his chin banging on the window sill as he bobs his head? Oh, wait, he's doing that because he sees Sidney outside.

Anyway, I took these photos last month, but never got around to sharing them. They are something only an iguana lover will appreciate: seminal plugs!

Mike had been cranky for a couple of days. Karen was over and had been petting him, and noticed that his hemipenal bulges felt more bulgy than usual. The next day, he deposited these plugs. Here's a close up of one of them:

Fascinating architecture, eh? And no wonder male igs get a bit testy (ar ar) when these things have built up, solidified, but they haven't yet been able to expel them. For those new to them, check out the article on seminal plugs at my site.

Because I had to suspend the treatment for my Bartonella flare in order to deal with some other health issues, my hand and arm hurts too much when I knit socks for me to be able to work on them. I wanted something rather mindless but useful, but wanted a break from kitchen towels (of which I have made 11 of the planned 30), I decided to make another market tote bag, and try to figure out a better way to finish the top, since I wasn't happy with the way I faked the tops of my first two.

Despite knitting them with two strands of worsted weight cotton held together and using size 10.5 needles, the bags still take 15-20 hours to make (I really need to time it to see for sure), so they aren't something particularly salable, unless someone wants to pay through the nose for a reusable handknit tote bag.

Here is a photo of the two new ones I finished - the green/white one is folded over itself so you can see the blue/yellow/white one beneath:

The bottom of the bag is knit in garter stitch, then stitches are picked up all around the rectangle and knit in the round for 3 inches before changing to the pretty (and expandable) faggot lace stitch. Because it is knit in an endless round rather than back and forth, the 'ribs' of the pattern are diagonal, instead of vertical as they are when knit back-and-forth. Here's a close up of the outside of the bag ('right side' of the st):

And here's what it looks like inside:

I did manage to work a couple of days of role play at the public safety academy. Driving up there the first morning, I noticed some hot air balloons in the early morning sky. After the morning's briefing, we role players and evaluators headed out to our assigned places at the other end of the campus, awaiting the first of the day's recruits to be dispatched to our locations. Since the campus is surrounded on a couple sides by farms and ponds, there's always a lot of birds around, so I always pause to look...and look at what I saw:

One of the balloons was still aloft when the morning winds faded away, and so they had to come down rather abruptly:

They were able to avoid landing in the big body of water that is on the other side of that grassy berm, just visible under the horizontal line in the photo that is the shade cover over the PSA parking lot:

But since the berm is angled on the other side, too, they risked being toppled into the water. They were able to get enough lift to bump their way up the top of the berm and down on our side with the help of a some folks who either scrambled over the fence or jumped out of the basket:

It was hard for me to see who scrambled to help, as I was actually rather far away:

And that concludes our program for the day. Sidney, having supervised me making lunch, is now resting before he goes on leftover/plate cleaning duty after I eat said lunch.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) I enjoy your blog

2) Stop giving your goddog grapes!

4:59 AM  
Blogger shelly said...

Hi Melissa! Your sights are so informative!!! I have a question and wasn't sure where to post it: we adopted a 1 year old green ig (Fred). We found him Friday on a garage sale for free. They gave us his(?) Tank, lights, and heater pad. The problem is he isn't eating. It is now Sunday and I haven't seen him eat a bite! Should I be concerned or is he just a little freaked from the move (he didn't have a lot of contact with the prev fam). Is there some sort of wonderful treat iguanas can't resist?

8:11 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Shelly, it does take igs a while to adjust to new surroundings, as well as their old surroundings (enclosure) when it is set up in a different place in the same room, different room in the same house, in a different house. Multiply that by lots when the change also involved different humans. Check out the article on Change-Related Stress at my site, and make sure to get him checked out by your reptile vet. The stress of the change alone can cause problems, but pre-existing problems are pretty much a given for igs who are garage-saled... If you don't already have a reptile vet, check my lists of Herp Vets.

Good luck - you're in for a ride!

8:28 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

There is known toxicity issues with dogs fed raisins and grapes. He doesn't get them often, and he doesn't get a lot - far below the toxic dose (for him, I'd have to feed him over 1400 grams (over 3 lbs) of grapes, whereas he only gets 60-80 grams (5-10 grapes). He is eating more apple and pear, not to speak of Trader Joe's dog cookies, than he does grapes.... But I appreciate your head's up on this, as not everyone knows...

9:04 AM  
Blogger shelly said...

Thanks Melissa! I am a bit hyper about this new addition to our's going to be a long road...I just really don't want to do anything wrong with him :). How long is too long for eating? How much can I expect the little guy to eat (he's about the size of a brat with a 12 in tail or so)?

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Knot said...

These iguanas do recognize their owner and people that they are accustom to seeing all the time. They are really smarter than what people give them credit for as seen in your writing about Mikey behavior. My sister came over yesterday, and when my green iguana saw her, he started freaking out. He was running up and down his cage, so I had to tell my sister to leave the room where he can't see her. After she left, my iguana calm down. He does this not with all stranger. I don't know what makes him tick, but it seems he gets freaked out by women or girls with long hair, I noticed. It's really interesting!

10:48 PM  
Blogger shelly said...

Hi Melissa! Just wanted you to know that while we were gone yesterday, Fred ate a bit!!! Whew! I'm sure its an adjustment for him...we have 3 boys who love to look at him...trying to keep it down to a minimal so the poor thing can get used to us!

6:35 AM  
Anonymous Knot said...

What kind of food are you feeding Sid if you don't mine me asking. I'm think of switching my dog over that brand Evo and raw diet. What do you think of about it? That's what everyone recommend, though.

7:17 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Shelly, good to hear. Each ig has its own time frame for how long it takes to become comfortable enough to act the way they want - and comfortable enough to eat, whether or not there are people watching or in the vicinity.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Knot, I'm not sure what the brand name is. It is a kibble, to which is added lots of water (to make sure he's drinking enough - the kibble is literally floating in the water), which he gets twice a day.

I know a lot of people recommend a raw diet, but I remain kind of mixed about it. One thing for sure: just like making sure NOT to acquire an iguana if one can't regularly get and prepare the types of plant foods captive iguanas need on a daily/weekly basis, people shouldn't switch to a raw diet unless they can provide a steady supply of the meaty bones and organs the dog will need (~3% of body weight), along with the vegetables, fruit, eggs, etc.

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Knot said...

In the picture of Mikey and Tobacco it looks like Mikey could swallow her whole. I didn't realize Tobacco was that small or Mikey is huge.

5:09 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Well, both! Tobago (her "birth parents" named all their Vietnamese leaf turtle offspring after islands beginning with the letter "T") is a full grown female, just a smidge over 3" CL (carapace length), which is normal for the species (females are 3-3.5", with males being usually no more than 3").. Mike's head length, from snout to 'brain bumps' (the top of his neck) is 5".

10:10 PM  
Anonymous Knot said...

That's very interesting about how the breeder named all the turtles after the islands. Anyway, reading your article about Tobago made me want a land turtle, so on Friday I went out and got a captive bred, baby 3 toed box turtle. It's eating really well and eating a lot of the iguana salad. It loves to hunt crickets which it will bite and eat half of lower body while the front half runs away and it just gives up and go about hunting more whole crickets. It's so funny watching it. I love tortoises and box turtles!

10:58 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Now you just need to find a turtle who will eat the front half! Or, a leopard gecko or fat-tailed gecko, perhaps?

11:03 PM  
Anonymous Knot said...

I have three leopard geckos! lol But I think they prefer large crickets. I try feeding them the smaller ones that my baby box turtle and small juvenile bearded dragon eats before, and they didn't seem to enthusiastic about eating them as they were with the large ones. Weird animals and spoiled! sigh!

On a side note: my English has improved considerably from reading your site and the blog. Can't you tell English is my second language? lol

11:14 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Well, whew! When I wrote that getting another turtle or a gecko, I was feeling a little guilty for suggesting someone get yet another animal (check out Multiple Pet Acquisition Disorder (MAPD), and Ten Top Ways To Convince Your Mate That "Just One More" Herp Is A Good Idea. Even Sidney's dad once accused me of corrupting his wife until he figured out that she was fully capable of corrupting herself. ;)

As for your English, I knew it wasn't your first language from your initial writings, but that wasn't because your English was bad - far from it! In my working life, and later on the Internet, I've worked or corresponded with lots of people from around the world for whom English was their second, third (or more!) language, so I can usually 'hear' it, even in writing. That being said, your fluidity and "English voice" has improved to the point that I don't think many would peg you as an ESL person anymore. If my writings have played a role in that, well, how cool is that!

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Knot said...

Well, I'm not married yet. Although, I'm thinking of dating this girl which I think likes me, too. Fortunately, she loves animals like I do and she have a lot of birds at her house. And I'm not a middle age man yet. I'm only 32 if you are wondering, but already my collection has increase considerably. As far back as I can remember, I always like animals. I remember when I was 4 or 5 years old up until I was eleven when I lived in Thailand, I always wake up early every morning on Saturday to watch documentary about animals. I was hooked since I was young, and when I moved to California when I was 11, I discovered cable TV. Man! It was like a dream come true! There were endless documentaries to watch. Even better than when I was little. lol

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Knot said...

You remind me of Captain Picard from Star Trek. He reads a lot...devouring books and an alarming rate. Captain Picard is brilliant even more brilliant than Captain Kirk, and Kirk is smarter than Spock, and Spock is supposed to smarter than your average Vulcan, and average Vulcans are like a brilliant human. LOL Have you ever take an IQ test. I bet you'll score high on it. Most of my family members who do really well in school are women for some reason. My mom for example could remember the whole book word by word when she was in college and high school...or secondary school, whatever they call it in Thailand. My maternal grandmother was really good in math and everything in school including arts and crafts, and cooking. I swear she's good at everything. She scored so high in the apttitute test they gave a full scholar to a private school. Am I on to something? How come the men in the family are so dumb compared the women? lol

10:34 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Aside from the tests administered in school, I've been tested three times, once before I got sick, and twice after, the latter two about 6 years apart. Because of where I was (verbal and functional scores) before I got sick, I still appear to be high functioning, but the reality is that my verbal functioning (including reading & writing) while good, are still problematic because of the various neurological deficits, while my functional ability is much lower than my verbal. This causes me to feel stupid when I can't figure out something I know should be simple to do or fix.

The way I explain the difference between verbal and functional is, that is how I can write a book yet stand in the shower, water pouring over me, and not have a clue what I am supposed to do in there.

Of course, "can write a book" varies - I go through weeks, months, years even, where writing blogs is difficult (hence the gaps), when even Tweeting is beyond me. Ditto reading. Sometimes, like for the past almost year (!!), I have hardly been able to read anything other than short things, like short articles, but not books. That is scary, as that's only happened twice before, when I first was infected with the tickborne organisms, and when they flared again almost 20 years ago.

Anyway, there's been increasing research into gender brain differences, with some interesting findings in how we can do things differently. As to the difference between generations in the same family, and between siblings, well, there's lots of research opportunities there!

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Knot said...

Last time I had a short test, a survey, and it said my IQ is: 127! It's just a stupid short test, though, that I had to do inorder to access the site main feature. lol I don't know how I got 127. My sister's boyfriend said Einstein IQ is 130. You see where I'm going with this? lol

6:48 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Einstein was actually never tested. Some people in the 1920s sat around and tried to figure out several famous people's IQ using available biographical information (there was obviously more available on Einstein than Mozart, another person they "I.Q.'d"; Einstein was estimated to have been between 160-180 (see this Einstein website).

As for me, you'll have to get that privately, as I'm not comfortable talking about it here...

8:48 AM  
Anonymous Knot said...

That's Ok! You don't have to tell me! lol I can tell if you weren't sick you would scored very high on it judging from how well you write and your ability to reason when it comes to herp care. Not a lot of people can do what you do, especially in your health.

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once I've read that there was a man in England who can read different languages fluently and I mean fluently. The people who are caring for him would lay out a bunch of different newspapers from around the world, from Hindi to Russian and this man would just read and read like they were his first language, an yet, when it comes to basic IQ test he scores very low in it. In fact, if you took him from his home and left him in town, he would not be able to find his way home, and he needs help bathing himself and putting on clothes because his IQ is so low. It's weird isn't it?

10:55 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

The brain is still much a mystery, which can make life...interesting. A person with this type of extreme disparity between activities of daily living/function and a (generally single) remarkable talent was called an 'idiot savant'. There is now a name for the disorder, Savant Syndrome.

So much to learn, so few lifetimes in which to learn them!

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Knot said...

Have you ever wonder about what's going to happen to if something were to happened to you? Not that anything is going to happened to you anytime soon, but just in case. It'd be ashamed if everything was lost. Your site is a wealth of knowledge accumulated over the years. Maybe if I had some money in the future, I might consider keeping it up for people. And that's a distant future. lol

10:15 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

I have wondered from time to time, less so since my site is so kindly being hosted by Veterinary Information Network in return for their use of my herp work on their site.

I've all the other parts of my life (and death) well documented and set up, but I guess I need to do a little more work on this part of it...! Thanks for adding to my To Do list! ;)

5:23 PM  

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