Monday, October 11, 2010

Reptile Show, Birthday Shopping, Visiting Family, Birthday Party, Carpet Cleaning, It's Been a Busy Weekend...

...and there was not much time if any for blogging. I took off from work on Friday to get my exhibits ready for the LIHS 21st Annual Reptile & Amphibian Show. I had tanks to clean, animals to select, travel containers to ready, exhibit tags to print up, and so on. That was in the morning and afternoon. Then it was off to the show location on Friday night to help with set-up of the exhibit and vendor tables. It literally took me several hours to get ready and to help out with the tables. In fact, it took so long that I did not have time to go shopping for my nephew's birthday gift that night, as I had planned, so I figured I would do that on Saturday after the show.

Then there was the show on Saturday. I was up at about 0530 to start putting the finishing touch on things, to make sure I had not forgotten anything and to load my car. I was at the show hall by about 0800, a half hour after it opened. I set up my table there and also set up my tanks on the display tables for the competition. Then I found out the maintenance closet was locked with no maintenance men in sight and water could only be had from the sinks in the men's room. Since I was going to display several aquatic and semi-aquatic amphibians, I needed water. I just didn't want to try to fill 5 tanks by the cup full from the washroom sink. After a few hours, I decided that would have to be the way to go, then I remembered I had brought along a hose to siphon my tanks at the end of the show. It was just the right, size so that when using my hand wrapped around one end as a coupling, it meshed almost perfectly with the nozzle end of the faucet. I held it in place, turned on the water, and filled three and a half 5 gallon buckets to get the job done. My salamander, newts, and frogs were finally on display. None too soon since the judging started within about an hour of me having completed the task. Regardless of the competition, having the animals on display was what counted, that is what folks had come to see.

Sometime in the early or mid afternoon, Brendan showed up and helped out watching my table for awhile. My friend Harry, from the LIHS, had already been lending a hand with that and thanks to them I was able to get the tanks filled without having to worry about something disappearing from my table like last year. When Brendan took over the table, I also took the opportunity to walk around to quickly check out the exhibits and to see what the vendors were selling. I had already made a couple of purchases from Slither & Swim, who had the 5 tables next to mine and which were full of herp keeping accessories, tanks, feeder insects, dry food and the like. Paul (hope I remembered his name right, I am terrible on names) is the owner of Slither & Swim and is an all around good guy, one of the nicest vendors at any such show to which I have been.

Brendan also bought a couple of items from Slither & Swim and took a look at all the other tables, both the vendors and the display tables for the competition. After awhile he told me the ribbons were being placed. We waited, impatiently, to see if our animals won anything. In all we had the following on display:

1 Anderson's Aquatic Salamander

1 Iberian Ribbed Newt

2 Blue Tailed Newts

1 African Clawed Frog

2 Red-bellied Toads

1 Male Hermann's Tortoise

1 Female Hermann's Tortoise

Our good husbandry efforts paid off. Of all our animals, only three did not take home ribbons: one of the Fire-bellied Frogs, one of the Blue Tailed Newts and the African Clawed Frog I(that was a disappointment since it is a very nice frog but they are easy to keep and that is figured into the judging). All the others won ribbons and two won trophies:

One of Brendan's Fire-bellied Toads won third place among the frogs & toads division.

The Iberian Ribbed Newt pulled in third place for salamanders, newts & sirens.

The Blue Tailed Newts won second place for salamanders, newts and sirens.

The Anderson's Aquatic Salamander won first place for salamanders, newts & sirens (our animals making it a sweep for that division). This one also went on to win best amphibian and got a nice trophy for that. I was pretty amazed and humbled to say the least. I was humbled because of the quality of the competition. There were two Colorado River Toads on display and one of them had won the first place ribbon in the frogs & toads division, thus putting it up head to head against my salamander for best overall in the amphibians class. It would have been just a bit more than a bit ironic had the toad won best in class because I had given it to Rich M. who had it on display. He surely has kept it in pristine condition, it is a beautiful animal, heck both of them are such.

The male Hermann's Tortoise achieved second place in the tortoises division.

As for the female Hermann's Tortoise - before the judging had begun, Ed (the guy who sold me this tortoise about 5 or 6 years ago) was admiring her and asked me if she was mine. I said yes she was mine. He then said he was amazed by her size as she was the largest, by far, Hermann's Tortoise he had ever seen (and he has seen quite a few having been a breeder of them for years and an admirer and keeper of them for even longer). He also said she was a beautiful animal. When I told him she was the one that he had sold me years ago, his jaw dropped, just a bit but it definitely dropped. She went on to win the blue ribbon for first place for tortoises; then she went on to win best of all turtles and tortoises at the show. That meant I was going home with another trophy. While Ed's compliments had been more than enough to let me know I have been doing something very right in caring for her, winning a blue ribbon and a trophy both surprised me and humbled me since there was a lot of tough competition out there in her class. The competition included, among others, several turtles and tortoises entered by my pal Harry. One of his turtles came in first place. That meant the judges had to pick between his turtle and my tortoise for best overall in the Turtles & Tortoises division. We always have a friendly rivalry going on for the show, and Harry took it in stride as one of us always does when the other guy wins although he did point out that my 'defective' tortoise had won over his pristine turtle! The female Hermann's Tort has some scarring on her shell, barely noticeable after a few years, where my dogs had gnawed on her like a chew toy a few years back. I gloated and rubbed it into Harry's wounds. Really though, I only rubbed it in a little although I may have gloated a bit more. It is all in fun though and next year Harry's animals will probably trounce mine.

Most of all, for next year, I am hoping Brendan will have stuck with it and that he will enter a few more animals of his own and take home a trophy. He was disappointed that 'Bill' the African Clawed Frog (the only of our herps with a given name) did not win, but thems is the breaks! There is always next year.

Of course, Saturday was not the end to this weekend. On Sunday, I drove out to my moms, picked her up, then drove the both of us to my sister's and brother in law's house to celebrate my nephews 10th. Before I could pick up my mom though, I had to go shopping for my nephew's present. Never get anything done until the last possible moment is my motto! Really, I was so tired on Saturday when I got home from the reptile show that I passed out from about 6:30 until 10:30. I had been planning to go shopping for his present somewhere in that time frame before the stores closed at 9. I would have gone days before had my sister gotten back to me to let me know if she and her man approved of what I was planning to buy for my nephew. She didn't though, so I just decided what the heck, I'll get it regardless. So I went shopping before I picked up my mom from the assisted living apartments. We wound up arriving about 45 minutes later than planned thanks to my going shopping and doing my other Sunday morning chores. Those other chores were cleaning out the car. Did I forget to mention I also had to empty out the car of tanks and such that I had not gotten out on Saturday evening after the reptile show.

We had a nice time at the party. The food was excellent, the company even better and the three three Heineken's I had right after I got there went down oh so very well. No more after those because I would be driving my mom home within about five hours of enjoying them. Had plenty of time for good eats, good conversation and good relaxation. Then it was present time and I guess I can tell you what it was I bought that same morning for my nephew's present. The it was a Crossman pump BB rifle and a jar of a thousand BBs. Me thinks, from the reaction it got, is that my brother-in-law may have more fun with it than will my nephew but of course I am sure dad will be teaching the young one and both will love it. My nephew actually seemed pretty pleased with it though it was getting a bit too dim to be shooting it and was a bit too chilly to stay outside by the time we got round to it. Next time I am there I will see how he handles it. If he does well, then when he turns 12, I may just have to give him a .22 rifle and take him to the range (such is the law in NY as far as I know, got to be 12 to shoot at a range).

After the party it was a ride back to my mom's place, then a bit more time spent with her there, then off to home for me. I was pooped. Still though, I got up early this morning. I put away all the stuff I had strewn about from the reptile show, then I got down to some serious business. I started to move furniture in my basement in anticipation of my yearly to biannual carpet cleaning down there. My man-0cave happens to not only be one of my favorite places in my home but also one of the favorite places for our pooches to relive themselves if they have an emergency. We clean up after them, of course, but it still stains somewhat so I clean it, with a carpet cleaning machine I rent at Home Depot, once or twice a year. Luckily my daughter and wife helped out a bit with collateral cleaning such as vacuuming and dusting after I moved the furniture. Then I was off to Home depot, picked up the machine and some cleaning solution and headed back home to get the job done. It took me about 2 hours of cleaning to get it done, not including the furniture moving and dusting and vacuuming. Those all added a few more hours and that does not include moving the furniture back into place. Most of it is in the back part of the basement, shoved in there with the water heater and boiler. I'll move it back later tonight of tomorrow night after I run the dehumidifier for several hours.

Wound up I moved most of the crap stuff back tonight. Right now I am a bit achy, a bit grumpy and in dire need of a vodka and something. That is where I am going right now - to mix myself a soothing concoction and calm the beast within. Believe me, after all the stuff I did today to put an end to this weekend, the beast was pretty grouchy - it would much preferred to have rested today. Now it will settle for a good stiff drink and while I drink it I can ponder this: One of these days, the dogs my wife's dogs will get housebroken beyond accident and marking stages and the friggin carpet cleanings will become a thing of the past.

I cannot find the vodka! Damn must have moved it when I was shifting all the stuff around in the basement. I guess it will have to be a couple of cold ones - HB Hofbrau Oktberfest! Not a bad substitute for a vodka now that I think of it. I have had enough, I took all I can stands cause I can't stands no more but I ain't going for a can of spinach! Bring on those cold ones; and maybe as I takes me a swig, I'll take another look at those trophies I won to calm me nerves.

As for me - next weekend I am going hunting and my male heir will be coming along. As for you - later for you - when the beast is calmer.

All the best,
Glenn B