I am allergic to pretty much all animals with fur. And, I love reptiles. Also, turtles are *SO DARN CUTE*. Plus, almost all of our friends seem to have children. And while we don't really want one of those, for conversational continuity, it's useful to have something you care for...
Anyways, after much research, we determined that a Californian Desert Tortoise Rescue would be best for us. Our climate would fit, and they need good homes. (For more info on the Turtle/Tortoise/Chelonian/Terrapin moniker issues, I recommend the SD Zoo).
Little did I know, this would result in a four month email campaign to convince the rescue folks that we would be a good home and we were committed to taking care of our tortoise. I don't chase people. I am fairly adamant about this. Either you want me in your life, or you don't. But with the tortoise rescue people, I made an exception. It was very educational, and frustrating to realize how different my understanding of time commitments and responsiveness and just everything fell apart within the tortoise rescue community. About a week ago, I gave up.
And, then, I got the call (which, of course, I'd started to believe would never come, and I'd started to consider buying a turtle from a pet store). I'd made enough of a good impression that if I bought the right enclosure, they would let me take a juvenile home!
Easily, this was the best thing that happened on my sabbatical (and we spent a weekend at the Ritz in Half Moon Bay).
In fact, this event may be the reason I am finally happy not to have been in China on my sabbatical. If I'd missed making the chelonian/tortoise/turtle rescue filter due to international travel after all of the up-front work, I'd have been seriously sad and grumpy.
Instead, I spent last Friday waiting to get the *actual* time and location for the drop off. It felt like (in my imagination) the machinations involved in a drug deal. I was told "call me at 11 AM". So I did. Then I was told, "call me in an hour." Then, "let's meet at Petsmart in Millbrae in an hour." If I had been working full time in my normal life, I wouldn't have even had time for these calls, much less the flexible drive. But I *WAS* on sabbatical. And, eventually, it all worked out. We are tortoise parents. YAY!
Please meet Morla(n) Chompsky! A small slice of welcome to your new adopted home strawberry from our garden just seemed appropriate.
Yes, strawberries are like candy. I got the lecture upon adoption about not feeding too much candy to the desert tortoise. Terrible. But I'd grown this strawberry in our garden and I wanted him to associate my smell with good happy food. Also, I've already ordered tons of native desert seeds and we'll grow native grasses and he'll have to forage and already has had to in the garden and lawn to find his way to the marigolds, nasturtiums and dandelions. In fact, after the first night recorded here, he's had nothing but grasses and marigold, nasturtium and dandelion plants.
Oh, as an aside, sex (gender) is hard to tell with juvenile tortoises, apparently, so, while we're open, I've taken to calling Chompsky (for short) "he" or "our son." But, we've left the first name open, and if we're wrong, we'll just switch to Morla and she'll be, "she," "her," and "our daughter."