Thursday, August 16, 2012


For those non-gamers out there, orly, is shorthand for Oh, really?, and according to the urban dictionary, is generally used in a sarcastic doubting or questioning way.

So, orly, I say to my anonymous commenter on my previous post.  "We also found out she is a he"

Now, I must admit that I did consider checking online, as I wrote that post, to see if female turtle's tails are shorter than their male counterparts, because that's what my family does. Checks facts, that is. We like to see sources and several of them if possible. In fact, orly should be our family motto. But, the person who stated it has a credible expertise in reptiles, amphibians and other watery-homed animals.

 Since I have a very limited number of readers, I am fairly sure the comment is from a relative. Moreover, chances are good that it was from a limited number of relatives who were out at camp with us on Tuesday, while the snapper came to visit. Those relatives (who are not my brother, and whose husbands would be the last two people on earth, after my mother, I would expect to comment on my, or any other blog) did not dispute the 'fact' stated that it was a female turtle, because of its short tail.

 Because apparently there are two giant snappers who come to be fed bread, and the shorter tailed one also has a white spot on its head. The one I photographed did indeed have a white spot on the head, and I took their word for it that the tail was short, since I had no comparison available.

Anyway, now I wonder how someone recognized the error. I have rectified my error and googled how to tell a female snapper from a male one and since the best answer seems to be to check on the underside of the tail (the male vent is near the middle of the tail, and the female's is closer to the shell)  who the hell would try to do that? So, unless the two turtles were witnessed engaging in turtle relations (and it is totally the wrong time of year for that) I call shenanigans!  I'm sticking with my girl tag because of the white spot on her head. And her delicate snout-lifting to grab the bread. And to anyone who wants to tell me differently, I have one thing to say.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August Dog Days

The apple mint we planted to control the nettles won the day and has reached the road. It's all mint and jewelweed;  and bees, butterflies and birds.

And in other 'news' we went out to camp yesterday and saw the huge snapping turtle that our family members have been talking about. Over the last several years, crazy people, aka relatives, have been tossing bread to two large turtles, along with assorted smaller ones and fish. Why would you do this in an area in which you also swim? I'm told she goes away if people enter the water. uh huh, right.

The reflection on the water made it difficult to get good pictures, but considering that her neck can stretch out a good 8-10 inches (I saw her swimming that way) we were not getting any closer.  With her head un-stretched, she's a good two feet+ long, and her shell is easily 12 inches wide. Her head is as large as my clenched fist, just a little smaller than a regulation softball. Intimidating to say the least.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A hole for one

(Warning- I talk about death and burials, so if this is going to bother you, please skip this post)

Due to a health crisis with my father a year or so ago, (he's doing fine on dialysis now) the subject of funerals and final disposal has been discussed several times. As with anything else in my family, there are usually jokes and sarcasm involved. Mock arguments that 'you love her better' because one sister gets the extra cemetery plots, which no one else wanted anyway.

My parents each have their own desires, which in my mother's case means comfortable clothes and her glasses go in the coffin with her. She had cataract surgery and no longer needs glasses but she wears them low on her nose, because she did so for so long that it feels wrong without them. She would like a simple pine box and with a wave of her hand says "I just want to go back to nature". I tell her that J can build her a box, and would she like drain holes in the bottom so the decay will go faster? "No! I don't want worms in with me!"  What part of decay does she not understand?

My father has his own obituary written and saved on the computer. I believe it starts with "BB kicked the bucket" and we just have to fill in the date. I don't remember any specific requests he has, although he hasn't forbidden a funeral service as my mother has. An introvert to the end, she doesn't want a big production, but I think my father would like  a service with some of his favorite hymns sung.

Last month's visit saw the subject come up again and J repeated his wish to be buried in the back yard. to which I repeated my standard answer that the next owners of our house would probably not appreciate that. Since he was in the Army, he can be buried in a veteran's cemetery, as can I as his spouse. He isn't sure that he wants to be in Maine: maybe he should go in the cemetery in R.I. where his parents are buried? I told him that since he doesn't want to be cremated, then he better be happy with Maine, because I'm not driving his body down to Exeter- supposing I'm still around and driving.

I have had my organ donor sticker on my license for years and am willing to have doctors use whatever they can, then be cremated. I don't really care if I'm buried or scattered. Scattering ashes is cheaper, so that's what I would go for, I guess. I also said I was thinking of donating my body for research, since that really would be the cheapest way out. No embalming, right to the hospital or school and delivered back in ashes after they are done with me. My aunt pointed out that there was a fee or donation required, as was the case with her mother.

So, as is our wont when presented with new information, I investigated. Maine has a program for body donation for residents that doesn't cost anything, so that's good. However, the only organs that can be donated are the eyes, so I'll have to decide which way I want to go. Assuming that they can be used, donate as many body parts as I can, or the whole enchilada for students to learn on? I plan on a long time to ponder this decision.

While I was in the Internet neighborhood, I checked on private cemeteries. Once again, Maine is easy- as long as it's less than 1/4 acre, we just have to demarcate the area, and let our town office know about it. There are also no restrictions on 'green burials" so embalming in not needed, nor is a fancy coffin. We could easily build the coffins ourselves way ahead of time- a regular one for J and a wee one for my ashes.
 This would be a good place- over to the side of the lawn, next to the hay field

 The big drawback is the hole. Contrary to popular belief, there is no 6 foot deep requirement. Deep enough is a personal choice I guess. Figuring a coffin is maybe two feet high, you want a couple of feet of dirt on top so we're talking four feet anyway. Now, I plan on this taking place not any sooner than 20, better yet, 30 years from now, so who's digging the hole? Not me or J, whichever one of us is left standing. Our kids will be in their 50's, and presumably still out of state. Ameranth did point out that Sectaurs always enjoyed digging our holes and trenches for various projects. And there's only 6, maybe 7 months where hole-digging is feasible up here. Maybe the best way is to predig the holes as well, as J has for our mean rooster. There's a little pit in the chicken yard waiting for the day he attacks again and J gets a hold of him. J thinks it's a warning to him to behave.

Hmmmm. Maybe that's the way to go after all.