Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Beating the heat

A couple weeks ago I took a full week off from work and although I had plans to get a lot of things done (a lot!), I ended up just sitting on the deck, knitting, with all my pets around me, in glorious weather......alllllllll week........every day. It was great. Everyone immediately got into the rhythm of being served treats on demand, they just had to get my attention.

A good staredown from a turtle first thing in the morning....

...resulted in watermelon before breakfast.

Violet tried to get in some quantity sleep but with what was going on at the suddenly 24/7 Coontina, it was hard work because the birds were just several feet away with decidedly bottomless stomachs.

Starlinka and Shugg were fed every hard-shelled worm, junebug, rolypoly I could find hiding under the potted plants. Starlinka daintily bashed her rolypolies senseless before swallowing them, savoring them individually, one by one.

Shugg could eat 2 dozen rolypolies before I even opened up my hand in his cage (rolypolies will scuttle away or leap to the ground and then scuttle away unless you contain them in a fist). I swear that bird was screaming MORE, MOOOOOOOOORE when he discovered he had eaten all the rolypolies I had carried to him. Shugg had become an expert at mimicking that awful sound baby grackles make when they follow their parents around waiting for something more to eat (what they were doing in early June). More. MORRRRRRRRRE.

So I obliged by getting m o r e.

I've been growing a lot of seeds this year and have been transplanting the little seedlings into bigger six-packs when they needed it. Michael got right on in there for some reason and stomped all over my feet because I was in his way. No problem. I just moved out of his way.

He wasn't trying to get my attention though....he just wanted to get up those deck steps. Michael can usually get up one step but he surprised me by making it up two!

Every day Michael would try and climb those steps and he got better and better until he finally made it all the way up. I admit I was impressed but at the same time, horrified.

This is the kind of trail he leaves when he climbs the steps...

What got in his way was kicked to the side....some of those plants found themselves airborne and landing in the fishpond without their pots. No plant was safe from turtle traffic now.

Cathy Jean, who is usually 23 hours behind whatever Michael figures out, was right behind him with this new activity.

She's not as calculating and determined as Michael and (lucky for me) decided to just settle in at the bottom and watch her brother climb up the steps until he disappeared from her sight.

The technique is pretty interesting though. Lift up, turn sideways, lift up, turn sideways, repeat until you get to where you want to go or run out of room. I've also seen Michael hook a foot into the saucer of some of the bigger plants on the deck steps because when they're well watered, they are heavy and are able to help leverage a determined turtle up, up, up.

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And those potted plants near the deck steps, which I thought were too tall for him to get at, are also now being used as steps to get up and steps to get down when a turtle runs out of room.

This is what four o'clocks (Mirabilis jalapa) look like before Michael gets at them:

And this is what they look like after:

It does kind of make me laugh (kind of) to see the trail of toppled plants he leaves behind (I've since moved most of those plants on and around the deck steps to recover in another part of the backyard where they should be safe....if turtles don't learn how to hop onto old benches...).

Michael had been adamant about getting into the house even though I didn't understand why because it really hadn't been that hot outside (it's different this past week though.....it's been in the 100s every single day). Michael obviously had other thoughts about weather than I did. Turtles are cold blooded and when it gets hot, they need to find some place cool to cool down and Michael Ray knows all about houses and how they have air conditioning. I think he knew that it was going to get hot, really hot, and he needed to find a place to camp out until it changed to a temperature that a turtle considers pleasant.

So I gave up and just let him in. It was too pretty a day for me to spend it indoors so I closed the door and stayed outside sitting on the deck, knitting, with all of my animals around me except for one named Michael Ray.

I started hearing sounds coming from inside the house....the usual ones when there is a turtle loose in the house. Furniture being moved, chairs transferred to other rooms, and then some unusual sounds like trash cans being turned over, things falling....crashing. I went inside to see what was going on but couldn't find Michael in his usual spots....despite him leaving a trail of destruction where he had been (which he does so well). I saw that the bathroom door was shut and when I tried to open it, Michael was on the other side pushing back. Smart thinking. Tile floor and a vent blasting cold air and he was not going to share....Michael had settled in and he was not going to move if he could help it. Ever.

Now when I came home from work (after putting Michael outside in the morning) this is what I see...

What can you do? I just open the back door and let Michael in. No point in trying to fight that kind of determination. I can't win. I try.......but I never win when it's me against one focused turtle.

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Watching a turtle expertly climb those steps and help himself into the house is really something else to watch...

....because that's what Michael Ray is. Something else.

He now knows how to climb up the steps and if I'm not there to open the door, he knows how to climb back down. It's gotten to the point where I just leave the back door open when I'm home. He's worse than Violet with the wanting out and wanting in when he's near a door.

I've got to watch this open door policy when it starts to get dark at night though......... last Sunday Eddie and Violet were nodding at something in the living room. I thought it was Stella. It wasn't. It was a bat hanging on the drapes. It flew out the back door after a couple minutes after bonking my head and Eddie's while it screamed its little head off trying to figure out how to get out. I didn't know bats were so darn loud when they used their sonar (!!!) but I finally got him out and shut the door. And then......another bat appeared in the house. :-/

Terrible happens in twos....just like turtles.


Leenie said...

Not everyone has a story like THAT to tell. You have such unusual and interesting roommates. It sounds like they know you'll share your supply of rolypoliess and your cool bathroom tile floor. Not everyone would do that. And not everyone would so calmly escort bat visitors outside when they get lost in the drapes. People who are freaked out by animals miss SO much! Loved the post.

Donna said...

That was the most awesome post ever!
I love Micheal Ray!

Pix at Under the Oaks said...

WOW Maria what a bunch of wonderful to read! I saw pictures of every ONE that I have been wondering about but YOU! Fun post! I have missed you! That turtle is too funny.

Maria said...

Leenie-I always look forward to your comments. :-) Regarding those bats...they did freak me out because I didn't know where they came from or how long they had been in the house! I decided to blame the back slightly open door where there is a porch light that attracts delicious insects....the alternative is that they came in from somewhere else and I know I will never find that secret opening....too many in this old house. So, even though I was a bit freaked, I knew the first bat was even more alarmed. Luckily he figured out where the back door was after a few passes over my head and Eddie's. I took Violet in for a rabies booster the next day just in case. :-/ The second bat had knocked itself out but when I checked on him a half hour after putting him outdoors, he was gone. I'm going to assume he's okay. Yes. I certainly do enjoy animals and their weird behavior and personalities...wish I could be as entertained and as tolerant with some people, you know???? :-)

Donna-Aw, thanks. I spent a long time writing that post...only because when I thought I had finished up the story....Michael was onto a new chapter of badness. Still is. I have another post that should be up tonight....

Pix-You forgot about Stella Fullahella! She doesn't pose well for cameras so I edited her out. Turtles are bad enough but Stella is so bad, she needs her own separate posts! I've been thinking about you too. Two months I've been away from the blog. Sheesh. That's a personal best. How you been doing? Is it disgustingly furnace hot on the east side of the state too?????