23 August 2012

Adventures with Nauga

Back story: Nauga was adopted in March of 2011. At the time, she had a litter of four pups and the shelter, Grand Companions, had asked if we wanted a puppy. We do not do puppies. But having a soft spot for nekkid dogs, we came home with the mother of the batch. Ming is now Nauga. Lo, I think, was the father (he looked like Naug, but black with a white mohawk). Pups were Han, Leia, Chewy and Yoda. Three fuzzy, one nekkid.

Fast forward to about a month ago. Grand Companions called to ask if we knew anyone who would want Leia. Leia? Leia. The pup, now somewhere around two years old, ended up coming back to the shelter.

Here's the photo they circulated:

 So after a friend in Kingsville (Katherine) expressed interest and a bit of "meet the granddog" ensued (our dog's offspring is our granddog, no?) ... and eventually a meeting was coordinated. On Monday afternoon, Leia was delivered to Alpine from Fort Davis. Tuesday morning - original RoadTrip day - Leia was brought from Alpine to Marathon by a friend (Lauren!). Due to technical difficulties (dead car battery), the date was pushed back one day.

Anakin is a house pup, all 90+ lbs of him. He has three beds, a few gallons of drinkable water, a window a/c unit and bright or dark rooms in the house that are free for the napping. Nauga, when unsupervised, has a kennel. It's cushy, sure, and the a/c is there... but it's just not comfy or well watered for an all-day affair. 

Kennel in the back seat, harness in the front seat - Leia rested comfortably while Nauga kept an eye on the passing scenery.  Below, stretching their legs at the park in Uvalde - wish I had a better angle; Leia has loooong legs!

The video below is shortly after Nauga saw (and ignored) her 'life' Great Kiskadee in Del Rio after Leia was safely transferred. Also, since Leia doesn't really work as a name, Katherine is taking suggestions!

More photos may eventually follow - chaos on the porch and such, but for now, we're recovering from a long day yesterday!

05 August 2012

shoestring; shoes on a string

I am not a shoe enthusiast. I do not collect shoes. I dislike shopping for shoes. I barely tolerated flip flops until college - prior to that I was a wearer of socks. Shoe tolerance has always been iffy.

The recent influx of additional flops into my life caused me great distress. Crafting angst occasionally sneaks up on me and Something. Must. Be. Done. As was the case with the soulless flops (ok, they had souls, just very worn ones that didn't do well with thorns or gravel), I needed to get the flops up from the furry corners of the house and into some sense of organization. Closet space is precious, over-the-door solutions sometimes prevent closing doors that need to be closed... dilemma.

Maybe putting nails all along the hallway, with a flop on each nail would work. It's barn wood in the hallway and nails wouldn't be noticed. Actually, it's so dark that they wouldn't be easy to see - and empty nails could snag if you brush against them. No luck. More agonizing. But the idea of getting flops off the floor wouldn't leave me. Even keeping them in pairs - I've never been one to have a pile of unmatched shoes...

At some point around 2009 I had a hanging toilet paper storage system all figured out; I've been too lazy to do anything about it since the move. Add flops. Somehow it could work.

1 nail
ball of yarn - lengths will vary per set of flops
1 pencil per set of flops

So I hammered a nail into the wall behind the living room/kitchen door and stared at it. Some dark green yarn that didn't have a designated project was located. A super long chain of crocheted shoe-string was created. The Vibrams are just hooked on the nail at the top.

Crochet skills (if you can even call making a chain a 'skill') are not even required for this project. I just didn't like how thin the yarn was. Starting with a small loop at the top - to go over the nail - I tied a long loop (maybe 6 inches long) just below the nail. After hooking a pair of flops through the loop and securing them with a pencil, I moved down another 8-10 inches and tied another long loop. Added another pair of flops and kept going...

If the loop was much longer than necessary, I doubled the loop back on itself.

If the loop was too short or just right, I'd just slip the yarn through the straps and secure with a pencil.

To make the project super-exciting, jumbo colored pencils - the color swirl kind! - were used to secure the flops. Creative shoe storage has never really been an intentional part of my life - but if flip flop storage can be vertical, out of the way but convenient enough to use frequently... and looks weird but not hideous... I'm all over it.

Texas Rat Snake dilemma

Friends on facebook who have been following this adventure know that it started with an update:

BEST HUBBY EVER!! Brought me a Texas Rat Snake =D Yes, Sky, it is has been taken into custody until further notice. My sewing tote will need to be laundered after this, though.

 ...Sky Stevens was tagged in the note because last time the snake - this snake? - was found and identified, there was a bit of hesitance on the actual identification. Texas Rat Snakes (Pantherophis obsoletus lindheimeri) aren't supposed to be here. And they're certainly not supposed to be startling guests around town; that's how they get killed. And we don't want that to happen. They are NOT venomous and they eat House Sparrows among other things, what's not to love?

So Friday morning, when a handsome fellow showed up while I was at work and presented me with a lovely Texas Rat Snake, I was thrilled. It was alive, well fed (check out the lump in its belly!), gorgeous and definitely 100% Texas Rat Snake.

Snapping a few photos, the question soon became: how to keep it until 1) ID is confirmed by someone else, 2) it can be released where it won't return, since returning means eventual death, 3) ???

Not working at a pet store is kind of a down side - we end up with enough birds going to rehab that we probably should have some empty cages around. But while rehab birds can - and should - go into dark cardboard boxes lined with paper towels, well, that sounds like a recipe for escape with a snake. Canvas tote bag, it is! Sewing projects don't need a tote anyway.

Canvas bag courtesy of Irene Trudell, Texas Rat Snake courtesy of Matthew York, hand modeling and identification confirmation courtesy of Craig Trumbower. We have awesome neighbors.

Back to the snake - if it's the same individual that was found a few months ago and released a few blocks from the location... it's still healthy, bright eyed and well fed. Meal favorites are suspected to be House Sparrows, since it was caught among their nests last time.

A few less-than-flattering portraits of the lovely critter, held gently but firmly by Matt:

The patterning is really quite something when the photo is enlarged - most of the scales are edged in a bright, bold orange-red color! This photo also highlights the less-mouthy and more-stinky end of the snake... you can see where the ventral (belly) scales go from being double to single; and the cloaca is right where that transition occurs.

 To keep the discussion brief: these snakes don't belong here. They like to climb trees and eat baby birds... heat and humidity are part of their lifestyle. We're just not in their range. But shipments of plants, trailers of supplies, plenty of trucks and trailers and room for stowaways... most of the traffic out here comes from the direction of Dallas, Austin and/or San Antonio. Prime habitat, really.


The blue stripes are Baird's Rat Snake (Pantherophis bairdi) - most of Texas is shaded brown, where Texas Rat Snake is supposed to be found. We're also in the range of the Trans-Pecos Rat Snake (Bogertophis subocularis), but that's another story entirely.

Back to the quandry -
Texas Rat Snake of full-tummy has been upgraded from canvas tote bag to spacious tupperware digs; lovely cavern of overturned dog bowl and deer antler for ambiance. Spinach tub, trimmed down for a pool... filled with roof-caught rainwater. This whole featherless-bird housing issue is strange.

Well, now what? We have neighbors who occasionally head to San Antonio who could release it - but how good are the odds of survival? Better than a bird's would be, I have to assume. If released around here, eventually it will probably be killed by a person. Even if suitable enough habitat - like Post Park - could work, it stands a chance of interbreeding with locals and we have friends doing DNA work on snakes out here that would not be thrilled. A captive life would be cushy but... we like things to be living as naturally as possible. Does it have mites/ticks/other things that it could transmit to other populations? It is already here and probably still has whatever it came with - but is that a big issue with reptiles?

These are the things we are musing over. For now, a large plastic tub on our porch has a fat, healthy Texas Rat Snake as a guest. And it's a safe place until further notice.