And…She (or He) is Back

Just a week ago I posted about finding a new turtle trying to dig its way under my gate. And I speculated that I might never see that turtle again, as turtles are wanderers, and who knew where this turtle was headed.

Well, I sure called that one wrong! This morning, the same turtle (you can tell by its battered shell) was at my patio door, looking for all the world like it wanted to come inside.


Ummm…hello? Anyone home?

Of course I quickly gathered some treats for it and took them outside, at which point she (or he) turned tail and ran. Nonetheless, I left the food and went back inside. Soon I was rewarded with a cautious return and a dive into the cherry tomatoes and banana slices I’d put out.

Because this turtle is so timid, I let it eat in peace. After it was done, though, I slipped back outside and settled myself in one place with my camera.

At first, she (looks like a she here!) just peered at me from her hiding place. With banana on her nose.



Then she decided that even though I wasn’t moving, I was too close, and took off.


Turtle on the run.

And finally, an escape into the yard.


Up up and away.

So who knows? Maybe I will be seeing more of this turtle! It has been so warm here that they are still active. On a bike ride a couple days ago, we came across four turtles crossing the roads in various places. That’s unheard of for October. In fact, some local meteorologists are saying this could be the year without winter. Which would throw off a lot of things, including hibernation schedules.

Guess I better stock up on turtle food.

At the Sign of the Turtle

The name of my house is going to have to change from the Turtle Café to The Sign of the Turtle, because somehow, another turtle showed up yesterday afternoon. It was trying to dig its way under my gate, which is impossible, as all that’s under the gate is a concrete walk.

But how did that turtle know to come here? The situation struck me as odd. Just two years ago, my gate is where Hissy Pissy turned up–in exactly the same place, doing exactly the same thing (except a cat was also harassing him).

It makes me think that turtles, like hobos during the Depression, have left some kind of sign identifying my backyard as a turtle-friendly zone.

I am partial to the symbol of a cat representing a “kindhearted lady,” but I imagine my backyard is marked with some kind of turtle sign meaning “good for a handout.”

Or something.

Not one to turn away a desperate turtle, I opened the gate and welcomed it into the monkey grass forest. There was no hissing, but much haste to disappear into the grass. I managed to catch a picture:


Battered turtle seeks refuge…

You can see this turtle has had it rough–the edges of its shell have been hacked off in some places, probably by people with weed eaters who never noticed the turtle. Invisibility is, as I have noted before, their superpower, and mow-and-blow lawn crews are not noted for their powers of observation.

I may never see this turtle again–it depends on where it is going. One thing I have learned about turtles is that they have territories. If they are moved, they make their way back to them. So this turtle could be trying to get back to its original territory, or it could be looking for a new home after the destruction of its original habitat.

Impossible to know.

In any case, I am thawing out some blueberries and strawberries for it, in case it sticks around. And of course, I totally recommended my backyard to it for hibernation.

Turtles Go Bye-Bye

It’s the time of year when my turtle friends in the backyard bid a final farewell and vanish. Cold-blooded reptiles that they are, when it gets chilly they bury themselves in the sandy soil or a pile of leaves, and hibernate for the winter. Being a gardener–and one of those people who sneaks around picking up bags of leaves from other peoples’ yards–I do my best to keep my yard hibernation-friendly, with lots of leaves for mulch and turtle cover.

Prince says "bye-bye" for the season.

Prince says “bye-bye” for the season.

Because I slacked off yet again with my blog–but not with my photography–I thought I would do a final turtle cam post with some of this images I’ve collected but not yet shared. Of course, Prince looms large…

Summer bliss. Of course it's Prince.

Summer bliss. Of course it’s Prince.

Kind of the epitome of summer, is he not?

Prince chowing down.

Prince chowing down.

And then I caught this one of Shy Girl, climbing the edging to get at whatever treats were out that day. It almost made me change her name to Determined Girl:

Shy Girl climbing over the edging to get to the turtle snacks.

Shy Girl climbing over the edging to get to the turtle snacks.

The discovery of September was this guy, who I thought was Hissy Pissy, even though he acted even more suspicious than Hissy Pissy usually does:

The Hissy Pissy doppelgänger who needs a name.

The Hissy Pissy doppelgänger who needs a name.

But a few days later, I came across Hissy Pissy hanging out with Shy Girl, and the other guy–Doppelgänger–flipped over onto his back! So I turned him right side up, put him in the shade, and immediately researched the whole flipping thing. Apparently, when male turtles battle for mates or territory, flipping the opponent is part of the strategy. And oftentimes, turtles can right themselves, but box turtles have a harder time with that than water turtles.

In the interests of expanding the available territory, I cut a hole in my back fence, which opens into an electric line easement where there is more space and not a lot of human activity. Hope Doppelgänger finds it so I don’t come across an empty upside-down turtle shell some day!

Finally, I will leave you with this one, again of Prince…

Prince meets Buddha.

Prince meets Buddha.

Happy fall! And I hope you all have a cozy hibernation spot to go to.

Waiting is the Worst Part

“People always said that waiting was the worst part, and Lila agreed. So much so, in fact, that she rarely waited for anything. Waiting left too much room for questions, for doubts. It weakened a person’s resolve–which was probably why, as she stood in the tunnel to the western arena waiting for her match, she started to feel like she’d made a terrible mistake.”

Well, crap. Lila would have hated the ending of her own book, A Gathering of Shadows, because as luck would have it, fans of V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy are going to have to wait to find out how all of the complications and problems in that book are resolved. Because instead of an ending, we got a cliffhanger. Everything is left open. Nothing is resolved.

Which isn’t really an ending, is it?


I know better. It’s common now for books in a trilogy to cut off in the middle of things, as if the publisher took a nice meaty novel and chopped it into three pieces for the express purpose of driving readers crazy. Maybe they think they’ll make more money, or attain a Harry Potter-esque buzz when each successive book comes out.

I just get annoyed.

It was for that reason I delayed reading A Gathering of Shadowswhich came out in March, figuring I would ignore it until the final book was done, then read all three (A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows, and A Conjuring of Light) consecutively, no  waiting involved.

Then one day I was at the library…and there was the book. Resistance crumbled. But now that I’ve read it, I’m kicking myself. Another freaking cliffhanger, and I have to wait six more months for A Conjuring of Light.


Like Lila, I’m no good at waiting. Time passes, I read other books, and I lose interest in the stories that left me hanging. I hope that doesn’t happen here, because in spite of the non-ending, I love these books. I love the layered worlds, the travel between them, and the different Londons. Lila is a character after my own heart–any heroine introduced with “Delilah Bard had a way of finding trouble” is my kind of heroine.

So I will wait, and hope that I don’t forget the intricacies of A Gathering of Shadows so much that I no longer care about reading the ending.

It’s Death Valley!

Two friends of mine who read this blog (you know who you are!) scolded me Saturday night for not having updated my readers on where I will be going this year. Their timing was impeccable: I had that very day made my decision and reserved space on a tour. But here’s the thing: the trip I chose is not one of the two previously under consideration. Instead of Canada or the Adriatic, I’m staying in the U.S. and heading west…for a ride through Death Valley.

And I can’t wait!!

Death Valley!! Photo courtesy of François Hogue, Flickr Creative Commons.

Death Valley!!
Photo courtesy of François Hogue, Flickr Creative Commons.

Seriously, could it be anymore awesome? The names alone feed the imagination: mountain ranges called Panamint, Owlshead, and Funeral, place names like Badwater Basin (lowest point in the U.S.), Stovepipe Wells, and Furnace Creek. And of course the obligatory Devil’s Hole, Devil’s Golf Course, and Dante’s View. How could I resist? Right. I couldn’t. Didn’t.

Zabriskie Point, Death Valley. Photo courtesy of Loïc LaGarde, Flickr Creative Commons.

Zabriskie Point, Death Valley.
Photo courtesy of Loïc LaGarde, Flickr Creative Commons.

How did this happen?

Well, I was all ready to sign up for the Prince Edward Island tour. I emailed the company with some questions, to which they responded promptly…but they also told me that the trip was full. I got on the waiting list, but no spaces have opened up. Since that trip starts the first week of September, I figure I am out of luck on that option. And I decided the Venice-Dubrovnik trip is just too fast for me. I’d like to do that route at 40-50 miles a day, with time to explore.

So…I started looking at the other trips offered through WomanTours, and came across the Death Valley trip…and was immediately entranced. I love deserts, solitary open spaces, and looking at the stars at night. Death Valley National Park is a dark sky park, kept free of the pollution from artificial lights. It is also the largest national park in the contiguous U.S., and is billed as the “hottest, driest, and lowest” national park.

My kind of place.

Mesquite Dunes, Death Valley. Photo courtesy of Peter Rivera, Flickr Creative Commons.

Mesquite Dunes, Death Valley.
Photo courtesy of Peter Rivera, Flickr Creative Commons.

The trip is set for November, so hopefully it won’t be too hot! Plus!! Plus Election Day 2016 falls during the week of the trip, and I love the thought of being out in the desert–in freaking Death Valley!–while all the pundits are pontificating, the candidates are bloviating, the newscasters are endlessly yammering, and the populace is wondering “WTF?” Yep, I got an absentee ballot, but I other than that…I’ll take the collected poems of Edward Dorn, read, ride, look at the stars, and enjoy radio silence that week.

Except…I will blog!

So stay tuned for a sane alternative to election coverage in November!

Go west, cyclist! Death Valley highway. Photo courtesy of Tabitha Kaylee Hawk, Flickr Creative Commons.

Go west, not-so-young cyclist! Death Valley highway.
Photo courtesy of Tabitha Kaylee Hawk, Flickr Creative Commons.

Decision Time

It’s decision time.

As those of you who follow my blog know, I have been putting off announcing this year’s cycling destination. Two reasons:

  1. The trip I chose wasn’t confirmed.
  2. It was to Cambodia, so I wanted to wait until it was confirmed before having my parents worry about my going on a trip that might not happen. My parents read my blog, so I stayed quiet.

Well, today I found out that the trip didn’t make, so my options are open again. No problem. There are two cycling trips that are really tempting me.

First, Venice-Dubrovnik. You can blame this one on The Historian. The Adriatic coast of  what was then Yugoslavia figures large in this novel, and it always makes me want to go there–and to Romania! Plus one of my companions on the France ride last year is doing the trip. Two others are riding London-Venice and will be rolling into Venice around the time that the Venice-Dubrovnik trip takes off.

And I’ve never been to Venice. Or Dubrovnik.


Dubrovnik, courtesy of lovincat, Flickr Creative Commons.

The drawback of the trip (yes, there is one) is its speed. Only eight days, with daily mileages between 60 and 80 miles. Not a lot of time to take pictures, explore villages, or hunt vampires (read the book).

The other tempting trip is a bit closer to home, but no less interesting. This one is a week-long trip on Prince Edward Island–up there in eastern Canada, tucked in between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. And yes, famously the setting of Anne of Green Gables.


Prince Edward Island, courtesy of Douglas Sprott, Flickr Creative Commons.

As opposed the Venice-Dubrovnik, this trip is much more leisurely, with the longest day a mere 41 miles, and a kayaking trip and other cultural explorations thrown in. Plus, it would be an opportunity to check out Cape Breton Island as well, for obvious reasons. Going north tempts me because it would be cool up there, and I much prefer riding in cool weather than the heat.

Hmmmm. How to decide?

It reminds me of a quotation I saw recently, I can’t remember where, or who said it, but here it is:

“I used to be indecisive, but now I’m not sure.”







Freeze Frame: Hissy Pissy

Turtle cam has finally managed to capture some close-up images of the elusive Hissy Pissy. I looked out early one morning and there he (or she) was, trundling across the lawn, arrowing in for the strawberries. Without any further ado, I grabbed my camera and went out to meet him.

And you are...?

And you are…?

Being the Hissy Pissy, he was very suspicious of me. But at least he stopped and held still as I crept closer and closer with my camera. The soft click of the shutter definitely caught his attention.

I am not sure about you at all...

I am not sure about you at all…

But only for so long. Then it was a full neck extension with a beady eye…


And the classic Hissy Pissy escape.

I run away...

I run away…

I stood up, stepped back and away…and off he went. In my observations of turtles, I have noticed that they have the super power of becoming invisible very quickly. H-P is no exception. When I looked outside a few minutes later, there was no sign of him.

But someone decimated the strawberries.