Monday, March 01, 2010

Alas, Eggs no more...

Back in 1991, I took in a tortoise - my first one, a chaco tortoise (Geochelone chilensis). She came to me from a family who had purchased her 10 years before from a local pet store. She was full grown at that time, a wild-caught import from Argentina.

Figuring out a tortoise's age is never full-proof if you don't have information on when they were hatched. Counting the rings on their scutes (the individual scales on their carapace, the part of the shell on their backs) is not accurate, as, like trees, in good years there may be more than a growth ring, and in bad years, no growth at all. Once the tortoise is full grown, there may be no perceptible growth 'rings' since the new scales are rarely larger than the previous year's scale. Age takes a toll, too, wearing down the sharp margins of the scutes, blurring the lines. That being said, when I got her, I counted: there were 60 rings. So, Chaca was probably 60-80 years old when she died this week.

She was healthy through the years, her only problem being the occasional beak overgrowth. Only once did I have to resort to filing it down with a Dremel; gnawing on corn on the cob and melon rinds, and grazing on the forage growing outside, kept her beak naturally trimmed.

Through most of the years I had her, I didn't take many photos of any of my critters. She was difficult to photograph, anyway, as she never lost her "Holy crap! A human is looking at/approaching/touching me! Dive! Dive! Dive!" reaction, quickly pulling her head in and tucking it behind her elbows. As leery as she was of humans, she was very tolerant of the other tortoises, and box turtles, and didn't seem to mind when Sluggo, my blue-tongue skink who died two winters ago, and the occasional iguana, used her back as a pillow to rest on when sunning themselves.

Chaca, as you've no doubt guessed, was the creator of the Eggs. We will miss her.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Oeufs Redeux

Chaca emerged from the last long sleep of her winter brumation in January, but hasn't shown any interest in food or water. Oh, she drank a bit, but not the great sucking bowls full as did Treppie (discussed in Spring Doth Creep on Tiny Tortoise Feet in my LIS blog).

I thought perhaps she might be gravid, as she spent a day or so making the soil excavation motion with her hind leg, but it wasn't as determined or prolonged behavior as it has in past years. It stopped altogether, so I thought if she had been gravid, she must of resorbed her egg(s). Last year, you may remember, she laid only one, rather than the two she has laid in previous years.

Last Saturday, she asked to go out (trundled to the back door and scratched at it), so I put her down on the step, and she used the ramp to go down to the patio and off she went. Unfortunately, she decided to go through a hole in the fence into my neighbor's yard - a hole I hadn't noticed, and one my neighbor was going to fix that morning but delayed a bit. My neighbor came over several hours later, Chaca in hand, after his dogs found a rock moving across their yard, heading towards the fence.

Chaca does have some shell damage, but thankfully nothing that penetrated through the plastron or carapace into her body cavity. I treated her with soaks and topicals, and put her back in the iguana/tortoise room, where she has stayed, for the most part. She has ventured a few steps into the kitchen, going to the feeding station, but she kept going back to the I/T room without eating or drinking.

By yesterday, I was starting to get concerned about her inappetance. In the late afternoon, Mikey headed back into the Iguana Room (to him, it is, of course, the Iguana Room, as he studiously ignores the tortoises unless they are at the feeding station). I noticed that he was hanging out on the floor rather than climbing up to his roost, so I went to see why...and found two eggs on the floor. Here they are, cleaned up:

I have read lots of candling articles over the years, and as far as I have been able to tell, her eggs have not been fertile. This year, I have a new tool in my candling effort: my 20 million candle power

Here's what the eggs look like on Day 2 (well, more like Day 1.5):

What can I say - I just think this is a nice picture of Hand, Egg, and 20mcp:

I also pulled out one of my LED flashlights, formed a tunnel over the top so the light flowed through my hand, and viewed the eggs lit up that way. Didn't tell my any more than the 20mcp light did: there is a dark spot at one place within the egg that may be an embryo - or not. I'll check again on Day 6 to see if there is any sign of decomposition or development.

And so, we wait.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Yarn Crawl

Back when Karen, Polly, Jean and I did a yarn crawl to shops in the town of Sonoma and one in Marin county, I bought some Lana Grossa Merino 2000 yarn for a scarf at Bella Yarns of Sonoma. As I've started working on it, I decided I didn't have enough and so sorta stopped working on it while I concentrated on my Socks for Soldiers (you can read more about this project in my LIS blog).

A month or so ago, I took my friend Pat to Sonoma Yarn to pick out some beginner knitter things for a holiday present for her niece. Pat last knit 40 years ago, when there wasn't yarns like there are yarns today. She was amazed at the variety of fibers, colors, textures, and patterns, and subsequently dug out her own ancient needles and picked up a starter project of her own to get back into it.

Well, today she is officially back into it! I wanted to also show her Bella Yarns, and their splendid collection of silk and bamboo yarns in addition to the "usual" yummy wool, alpaca and cashmere yarns. (Okay, and cotton and linen, too.)

Here's Betza with Bella's sheep:

What?! You were expecting real sheep??

Very taken with one of the lovely silky bamboos (remarking that the bamboo growing in her back yard feels nothing like the luscious bamboo yarns in her hands), Pat has decided to knit her son and daughter-in-law-to-be a throw for her wedding present. After discussing some possibilities, and ways to make it Irish without complicating things by figuring out how to include shamrocks in it, we came up with a feather-and-fan pattern, using lots of different yarns in shades of green.

This photo (blurred again ::sigh::) does not do the yarns, with their varied textures and sheen and depth, justice:

Bella was out of stock of the circular needles and some other things we needed, so we stopped by Sonoma Yarn on our way home. As I was getting out of my car at Sonoma Yarn, I remembered something, and reached back in to get something for one of Sonoma Yarn's owners, Frances Purl: doggie jerky!

Here's Frances and Betza. You'll note Frances is looking a bit puzzled. I at first tried placing Betza on the chair seat right next to Frances, but Frances decided Betza was just another treat for her from me. After I rescued Betza from Frances' mouth (thank goodness Ms. Purl is as small as she is or it could have been real ugly, not to speak of messy), I placed Betza on the table, as that was the one place Frances couldn't get to her.

Well, this may be the last of the photos in any of my blogs for a while. On the off chance that the blurring may be the camera and not me. I am having a problem with the flash on one setting, so there may be something else going on, she said, voice full of likely-to-be-misplaced-hope. Keep your fingers crossed that whatever ain't working, will start working properly.

And Chickie Made Two...Briefly

Last weekend, we went out for dinner for Karen's husband's birthday. Unfortunately, my shakes and tremors continued, so there are few photos, and of the two here, only one is any good. Fortunately, that's the one of the back of Karen's head, again showing how, while she doesn't listen to me, I listen to her when she doesn't want to have her picture taken. (Of course, I never want mine taken, so perhaps it is not a far comparison...). Whatever.

Here's Jim, unfortunately somehow overlit as well as blurry, but that's okay, because now you can't see the mean things he's mouthing at me because he realized the camera is pointing at him.

Here's Karen's head, as we were driving home.

Present at dinner was Jim & Karen's niece, Grace. Grace loves small things, and was taken with Betza and her hat. She asked if I would make her a hat for a chicken egg, which, while larger than my tortoise's eggs, is still small enough to be considered, well, small.

Last night, I dug out some stripey pink yarn, and knit a little hat. For some reason, I felt the hat should have a large pompom on top, and so now it does! Here's Grace's hat and Betza in her new hat:

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Road Trip I: Wine Tasting

On the last Saturday of 2006, Betza got her first road trip! Betza, Karen, Polly, Ed and I took off for an afternoon of wining and fressing. In November, Karen and her cousin, Swanee, visited several new-to-us wineries, a couple of which Karen really liked and wanted to share with Polly and I. Ed, Polly's husband, decided to accept Polly's invitation to come along with us, so our day was extra special.

On our way north to the first winery, I looked over Karen's first attempt at knitting a sock. Unfortunately, despite my having cast it on and worked the first couple of rows for her, it was hopelessly messed up (and I'm being very polite here) and needed to be frogged (ripped out) and redone. Since none of us had the needle I needed to cast it on again, we decided to stop first at A Good Yarn in Windsor, a yarn store that was already on our list to visit to get a pair of needles for Karen and get up close and personal with some luscious yarns.

While Karen and Polly were making their purchases, I sat for a bit with Betza, and took her first ever road trip photo next to an unfelted clog and its felted mate.

You'll note that Betza's little poncho has been folded back to make a little hat. I think she's happier this way.

Next we took off for Healdsburg and Seghesio Family Vineyards. I'm afraid I can't personally say much about the wine. The high dose antibiotic protocol I've been on for three months has pretty much killed my taste for wine, not to speak of causing recurring nausea. And, as I found out when I uploaded the photos taken during the day, causes a lot of microtremors, so most of my photos did not come out. Even the best of them are far below my usual quality, but that isn't going to stop me from inflicting them on you because, after all, we must celebrate Betza's first trip!

So, the first thing you probably do NOT think of when you think of "Sonoma Wine Country" is venom. While I was looking around all the shirts and wine-drinking paraphernalia for sale at Seghesio while Karen, Ed, Polly and Betza were enjoying the wine and banter with the very nice Seghesio folks, I spotted a black ball cap with a serpentine design embroidered on it, with a single word: Venom.

No, no one here is a big fan of the Pacific rattler. One of their vineyards is on Rattlesnake Hill in the Alexander Valley, The hat sits next to a large interior window that overlooks a barrel room:

The humans in our party quite enjoyed their wines, and both signed up for Seghesio's wine club, so I'm hoping that by the time we next visit (hey! picking up one's shipment in person is a great way to ensure some quality time in the country on the rare day off!), both my palate and fine motor control systems will have recovered.

On our way back to the car, Betza wanted a moment to commune with nature a bit so she settled down in a pansy bed for a while.

Next we went to Mauritson Wines, also in Healdsburg. Here are Polly, Karen and Ed chatting with Jan.

Here's a photo from the other side of the bar. You'll note that, unlike Karen, I honor her request to not be photographed when she doesn't want to be photographed. Here, she is artfully concealed by the decorative branches.

Here's looking towards the outside of the tasting room, to the patio area where we had a bite to eat along with some Mauritson wines before heading into the tasting room during a lull to chat about the wines with Jan.

Here's the southeast (I think east - definitely south) view from their patio.

Here's the same view, peopled and Egged. Polly, Ed, and Karen are snacking on cheese and crackers, kalamata and black olives tossed with goat feta, and my lox and cream cheese spread, while Betza enjoys the company and the sun and the fact that deviled eggs were not on the menu.

Next on our wine itinerary was our old favorite, Teldeschi Winery, home of the lovely Terra Nova, one of the Dan Teldeschi's lovely wines. Dan himself beards a resemblence to my late husband, so it can be disconcerting looking at him, but not so much when Dan looks, as he so often does, like a mad scientist or anarchist about to blow something up.

Teldeschi's tasting room is tiny, intimate, the atmosphere relaxed and informal. It reminds me of the wineries I visited in Italy back in the early 1970s, as does the countryside around there. You can see some of my favorite Teldeschi views in my November 2005 Black Friday blog. (For those of you new to my blogs, you can also see what my photos normally look like, quality wise, instead of how icky they are right now... ::sigh::)

Here's Betza, rather over-exposed, hanging out under Ed's watchful eye. He was quite concerned that she would sneak some wine herself, and otherwise be corrupted by hanging out with Polly, Karen and I. While Ed has known Karen for years, he didn't realize until this day how truly wacked she is, especially so when the three of us are together and pretty much feed each other's inner crazy person.

Fortuntely, Dan's pretty wacked himself, as can be seen by one of the winery's t-shirts:

It was not as beautiful out this day as it sometimes is out this way. As the sun started sinking behind the hills, the early evening grew misty and cold.

At day's end, we dropped Karen off at her home as her hubby wasn't feeling well enough to go out for dinner. Polly and Ed took Betza and I to dinner at Hunter's. Here Betza is wearing one of Sist's hand-me-down sweaters, the one with the scarf, since it got too cold for her to wear just the hat.

Throughout the road trip, Betza road up front with Polly and Ed. Unfortunately, I didn't think to get a photo of them together, so I guess we'll just have to go winery road tripping again!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Hark! What's that I hear? ::groan:: ::plop::

Look what I found when I went into the iguana room Christmas morning!

Betza has arrived!

She is smaller than Uova and Sist were:

For now, Betza will be resting, and getting ready for her first road trip in January.

In the mean time,
I will have to dig up U&S's hats and sweaters...or knit some new ones! Well, now, there's a thought!

Actually, I do have some yarn stashed away that I've been saving to knit something. Natalie sent me some of the yarn left over from her Suck Up To The Mother-In-Law scarf she knit for, well, her MIL. I whipped up this fetching, ah, poncho? fashion scarf? for Betza tonight. Seeing as how the yarn is a luscious 45% qiviut (musk ox)/45% wool/10% silk, Betza will be warm indeed during these cold winter months.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Oeufs Still Stinky

For those who have been checking in looking for an update, why, thanks!

Eggs have been spending the summer quietly in the refrigerator because their primary chauffeur and nanny (that would be moi) has had a pretty crappy summer, health-wise. Spending the months in cold climes has retarded the encroaching creptitude but has not staved it off completely.

On the bright side, Fall is approaching and so, too, is tortoise egging season. So, Eggs may have a successor or two. Or, y'know, not. Time will tell.

After having taken a hiatus from tiny knitting, I have made two sweaters this week.

This first one is made in memory of Suzanna Marie Somerville, who died August 31, at age 98. Her daughter and granddaughter are not themselves knitters or crocheters, unlike Marie (as she was called) who, it seems, was always working one something: knitting, crocheting, crewel and embroidery, beading, and making things for small dolls.

When going through Marie's things, deciding what to keep and what to give away, Cory, Marie's granddaughter, came upon a small scrap of crochet work. Since we couldn't find anything it went with, Cory was going to throw it away. I offered instead to make a little sweater for it, to donate to Canine Companions for Independence, for their annual holiday fundraiser tree at Coddingtown Mall. (The handmade ornaments are donated to CCI; shoppers who donate $10 to CCI get to pick out an ornament to take, and the donors' names are put on the tree in place of the ornaments. The tree goes up in early December, so if you're in the area shopping, please stop by and give a little.)

The crocheted scrap was made from a white yarn. I unraveled it, and combined it with some of Marie's red yarn to create a small sweater. Here is the body of the sweater, with the needles holding the picked up stitches from which I will make one of the sleeves.

Here's the finished sweater:

The basic pattern I used was from one of Betty Lampden's Miniature Sweaters books.

This next sweater I knit using a pattern local alpaca rancher Vicki Arns shared with the knitting guild last year. Here it is, in blue and white, laying atop Marie's red and white sweater:

Wooo! Pretty small, eh? Here's a shot of the sweaters and quarter lined up:

Vicki's sweater (here worked with fingering yarn on size 1 & 3 needles) is available online in a PDF file at the Sonoma County Knitting Guild's site. You'll find a whole page of links to patterns for tiny and very small holiday ornaments at the guild's Tiny Holiday Ornaments page.

The 'Marie' sweater, while it would fit one of the Eggs, is instead going to be kept, along with other tiny sweaters I'll be knitting over the next several weeks, in an stinky-Egg-free zone, ready to pass along to

Note: If you think these sweaters are small, check out Althea Merback's miniature knitting creations at her BugKnits site.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Oeufs dans le réfrigérateur

With the weather heating up as much as it has, and the Eggs already, uhm, aging rapidly, I sent them to live in a cooler clime until I get around to knitting them string bikinis or some other suitable summer wear.

(Oh! Can you see it? Eggs on a Cruise!)

(It's okay. You can resume breathing. Eggs aren't going to be doing any cruising unless one of you takes them. Hmmmmm...maybe a houseboat on a lake? Uhm, Karen, can we talk?)

Anyway, just in case anyone was wondering where Eggs are, they are here:

That's them, in their carpeted carseat/condo, sitting on top of a glass dish holding a couple of pinkies (for Sluggo), which in turn is sitting on a couple of yogurt containers, sandwiched between the milk and juice container filled with ice tea.

You may recognize their "carpet" - it's the yarn I used for my grandnephew's sweater.

Bon apeti-- er, avoir un grand été!