Tag Archives: critters

Sort of a Quiet Summer

It’s been sort of a quiet summer here. The roads were all torn up, the university students were gone, and football season was over. Now it’s September, and that’s all changed. Except the roads. They are still all torn up.

I kept meaning to blog, but my travel plans kept changing. Work has been busy as well, which means that after a long day spent staring at a computer for work, the last thing I wanted to do was sit and stare at another computer to blog. Turtlecam took a break, as the backyard turtle scene has been quiet, with only one regular visitor this summer.

He (or she!) is a cutie, though!

Here is what happened, trip-wise.

Originally I was signed up for two bicycling trips: one in June, to Italy, and the second in October, in New England. The Italy trip was cancelled because of earthquake damage, and the second trip didn’t make. I went ahead and signed up for an end-to-end trip through Portugal to replace the New England trip, and settled in for meeting some big work deadlines at the end of June.

Then I got an email from a friend who, along with her husband, crews on yachts. The boat they were working on was in Bermuda for the American’s Cup, and they needed a fourth crew member in July to help sail the boat from Bermuda to St. Martin. Did I want to join them?

Of course I did. Not only are they two of my favorite people on the planet, but how could I turn down visiting Bermuda and sailing along the Bermuda Triangle to St. Martin? I withdrew from the Portugal trip and bought my ticket to Bermuda.

And that trip was great. I didn’t blog it because WIFI can be sketchy on board, and you definitely don’t get it out in the Atlantic Ocean. But I will be writing a few posts about the trip in the next couple of weeks to make up for that.

The other distraction this summer is an obsession I’ve developed with a particular yarn—Malabrigo Rasta—and turning said yarn into beanies. The yarn is super chunky, super soft, warm, and a dream to knit with. It is also hand-dyed in batches of five. This makes the colorways unique and always lovely. You never make the same beanie twice, even if you use the same colorway.

Here’s an example with one of my favorite colorways, Arco Iris.

This is one of the first beanies I made, and I made it for myself. When friends kept grabbing it off my head and putting it on their own, I decided to make more. I considered making a beanie in every colorway, but there are 46 of them, and the yarn is pricey. So I settled on 30 beanies, and have been knitting away on them ever since.

This beanie is Beanie No. 21 in that series…and the same colorway, Arco Iris, as the beanie above.

Wild, isn’t it?! Such variation is great for making a single item from one skein, but not so good if you want to make something that requires several skeins.

I also learned how to make fingerless gloves this summer—here is my friend Carolyn modeling the pair I made for her.

It made me very happy that she put them on as soon as I gave them to her, and was still wearing them when I left. In Oklahoma, at the end of summer! Hopefully it will get cold enough this winter for them to be useful.

That’s my quiet summer. More on Bermuda, the passage, St. Martin, and the beanies in future posts. Hope you all had a relaxing Labor Day weekend!

First Turtle

Today marks the occasion of the first turtle spotted in my yard this year.

Let’s see…last year, the first sighting was also in April, so it is turtle time! Today’s sighting was a déjà vu all over again moment, as the turtle was at my back gate, trying to dig its way under. Rather than build a wall, I let it in.

I think this is the same turtle I posted about late last fall, judging from the battered shell and the spot of red on its neck.

And the timidity. Whenever I moved the camera, the head ducked back inside the shell. Here is a shot of the late-season visitor from last year:

What do you think? Same turtle? I think it is–look at the white markings on the shell, and the pointy edge of the shell by its tail. Which means that somehow, it got out of my backyard, in spite of the chainlink fence…and found its way back to my gate this spring. Interesting!

Turtles seem to have really good memories, and don’t need global positioning systems or cell phones to find the places where they want to go.

Time for me to keep my eyes peeled for more turtles, and start stocking up on fresh strawberries!

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.

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.

Turtle Cam: the Blueberry Feast

Turtle cam has been out of town for the past several weeks, so I wanted to check back in and catch you up on the turtle cam scene. I am happy to report that my house-sitter enjoyed a lot of turtle interaction. She texted me pictures of her turtle visitors and reported on their behavior (thanks again, Kim!!).

I’ve seen all three since I’ve been back, but the one I see the most is, of course, Prince. So here are some pictures of him enjoying a feast of blueberries. I keep trying to get closer and closer…

Lunging for the kill.

Lunging for the kill.

And he notices me.

Mine. All mine.

Mine. All mine.

I really wanted to capture turtle claws…

Essence of turtle.

Essence of turtle.

Still working on that one. Maybe a macro lens would be a good investment!

My recent travels included Las Vegas, southern California, and the Airbnb listing from hell. Alas, none of these trips included my bicycle! But I did have my camera, so more on all of those–with pictures!–in future posts.

Have a great week, everyone!