April Marches On

The post title would have been a lot better in March.

Ron started driving today, in the training yard. Forward and back, forward and back. But butt in the seat!  Robin is planning on going to the Secretary of State office to take his first exam (to get his CDL learner’s permit) tomorrow.

Latest color version of a snake drawing has made a little progress – Friday night I finalized the outlines and inked them.

Stayed home Wednesday, with miserable sinuses. I hate weather and tree sex.

The mouse and Wacom tablet seem to have recovered from the spilled water incident.

The project to turn a set of shelves holding glass snake enclosures into a rack with tubs for the ball pythons was finished up yesterday. Lots of natter about it in a thread I made, with pictures, here:


Short version: It didn’t go quite according to plan, but obstacles overcome without any snakes escaping. Two short enclosures that are in the bedroom currently will be moving down to the shelves at some point after Moresby sheds, so by replacing the tall glass enclosures with shorter tubs, we’ve gone from four snakes to six on the shelves.

Kajura is definitely settling. Tried to attack my phone last night, but it was hovering overhead in a possibly threatening way. After the unsuccessful attack, Kajura alternated between ignoring and investigating the phone. Kajura has gained 7 grams since mid-March, which doesn’t sound like much without context, but going from 16 to 23 grams is significant growth.

And, I think that’s about it for news. It was a week.

Another Week

Last week Robin registered for CDL training, and Ron sent him all the study material he’s been using on his iWhatsit. Meanwhile, Pizza Workplace has been giving him extra incentive to move on. I think coincidentally, but not sure. Ron also mentioned that if they do team long-haul we will be getting lawn fairies. Yes, yes we will.

Ron’s driving training time doesn’t begin until next week, so he’s somewhat thumb-twiddly this week, as he’s finished his class time and taken his written tests with the Secretary of State – so now he’s theoretically certified for doubles, triples, tankers, and hazmat.

I started a larger, color version of another one of my snake drawings. This time I’m re-drawing from scratch, due to issues with the computer on Friday when Ron spilled water on the mouse and Wacom tablet, and un-related mis-behavior on the part of the Adobe Creative Suite. But I had a lot of changes to make from the original anyway, so starting from scratch was not a big deal. I got it sketched in pencil Friday night, and that’s where it still is.

Saturday we shopped – groceries, and for the project of moving the ball pythons to tubs, which meant Ikea, Menard’s, and Ace Hardware. Yes, Menard’s and Ace would seem to be redundant, but Menard’s only carries lighter-weight zip/lamp cord than Ron wanted for wiring up the heat tape.

I thought we were going to work on setting up the tubs Sunday, but we went to Brookfield Zoo instead. Ron took lots of pictures of scaly and feathery things – we went to The Swamp, Birds/Reptiles (formerly perching birds, the big long building), and Scales and Feathers, which is more birds and reptiles, and has free flight in the whole building. The otters weren’t out on display at The Swamp, so we saw no furry creatures.

My plan for Easter dinner was a butterflied/boneless leg of lamb on the grill, with cucumber/onion/yogurt salad. That didn’t survive contact with the grocery store. Eurofresh didn’t have any of that sort of lamb roast, and lamb shanks and chops weren’t calling to me. So Robin and I had lamb-burgers, and Ron had blue cheese burgers, and they were cooked under the broiler because we were all feeling lazy. But I did get the salad made, we all had our burgers in pita bread, and Robin and I put salad in the bread with the burgers, and it was yummy. Note to self, next time get dill so we can make the salad even more tzatziki-like.

Kajura is developing into a busy-body snake. They often pop out to watch what’s going on in the bedroom, especially in the evenings. Settling down, but one day last week they tried to bite again. Well, succeeded in attacking my thumb and holding on and a little gnawing action, but not in actually breaking the skin.

Buford shed last week, and then ate for the first time with us. He was also out and about a couple days ago, during the day. We didn’t see him out, but I know that morning before I left the substrate was in a relatively even layer over the whole enclosure floor. Not so much by evening. Not sure what he was doing, but he cleared a significant chunk of his enclosure floor.

Ron did start on drilling tubs last night, demonstrating that our plan for the rack will work.

Random Title

I finished the color version of Kajura (tiny baby water python) on a mushroom on Saturday. I tried highlighting Kajura with a metallic ink, which was not a complete success. Oh well, didn’t know how it would work until I tried. The mushroom, however, I’m quite pleased with – I’m happy with the shading, and I’d picked up some titanium white thick acrylic paint to do spots on the mushroom, and they came out really well (easier to do opaque white spots over the background than to leave the spots un-colored).

Had a MuseCon meeting on Saturday, where I drew a couple more silly snake pictures, to go with the silly snake pictures I did last week.

Ron got his new DSLR (a Canon mumble mumble) last week. He is very happy. The low-light/high-ISO capability is impressive. Unfortunately, he’s suffering the pain of early adoption – Adobe hasn’t updated support for this model (he’d pre-ordered to get it when it hit the market), and may not for a couple months; which means that he has to use the Canon software, which do sucketh, verily, instead of Lightroom (or Photoshop). There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth about this.

In other snake news, I’ve decided to move the ball pythons to tubs in a rack, and give less shy snakes the enclosures they’re in. To that end I have a stack of bus tubs, heat tape, and hides. Well, the hides aren’t actually for this project, but they came from the same place as the heat tape. Hopefully this coming weekend we can pick up PVC pipe and things to make tunnels between pairs of bus tubs. Which will all make sense when its done.

Ron has about 4 hours of class time left in his CDL training, and will be starting the driving portion of the training later this month, unless somebody else misses a scheduled time and he can get in earlier. Robin is also considering CDL training, pending some current-job things.

If either one of them decides to do long-haul work, I may be getting a service in for mid-day dog recesses. If they decide to do long-haul as a team there will definitely be mid-day dog recesses. And Nyar the skink will be re-located at least to a more accessible spot (for klutzy Moms) in Robin’s room.

German proceeds in fits and starts. I bought the Rosetta Stone software yesterday, even though conversation isn’t a particular goal of mine, as I wasn’t doing too well on my own. I think it’ll help get the basic vocabulary and grammar back into my head, after which reading on my own should go better. Ron’s been using the Rosetta Stone Spanish lessons and liking the program.

Had a bad case of ennui yesterday. We got breakfast, groceries, put groceries away, and then did . . . a whole lot of flopping around. And changed water in the aquaria, which is mostly flopping around and keeping an eye on water levels. I think partly it was the weather – as in a bit humid and fairly warm. When I came downstairs this morning it was definitely cooler than last night, but still 76 F.

Doing Things

I had another out-of-town conference last week, this time Tuesday-Thursday in Galena, IL. Very pretty town, reminds me of Houghton/Hancock. It’s a river town, with *real* *hills*. Only about a 2-and-a-half hour drive away, and I didn’t have to drive there. I rode with a co-worker, and drove a new-to-us pool car back (old one went in for an oil change, and was declared dead due to rusted-out frame). I stayed at the DeSoto House hotel, which is reputed to be haunted, but I didn’t see any ghosts. I sketched a lot of snakes.

Yesterday I scanned the sketches, enlarged three of them by cropping and printing to as large as possible on letter-sized paper, then traced one onto ledger-sized vellum-ish marker paper, and inked and colored it with my Copic markers. I also did the same with some I did at the floodplain manager’s conference earlier this month (see G+). Not sure if I’m getting better, or if the one I did yesterday was just an easier one to do – the snake in question has simple, bold patterning, and a simple head-shape. OTOH, the background is not a mess, despite being experimental.

Got the Otter Necessities Etsy shop up and running again.

Yesterday and today I did Otter’s business taxes and our personal taxes. Haven’t filed yet, I want Ron to check and see if I missed any bits.

Ron’s CDL training continues, hopefully soon he will actually be allowed to get his butt in the seat and learn to drive.

Working on learning to read German. I had two years of German in HS, and a few bits have stuck with me, so not quite starting from scratch. Ron’s trying to learn conversational Latin American Spanish.

Last weekend I made three small snake jungle gyms. Moresby had taken to perching on the power cord for his light, so he got a simple one since his enclosure is very short. Scatha and Diaval got two level ones with a platform on the upper level, as they’ve got more headroom. Scatha approves, she hasn’t moved off hers – partly because she went into shed. Moresby has been soaking for the last day or so, he may be going into shed. He continues to be sweet-natured. Kajura is feisty, which may be their (don’t know their gender, so I’m using gender-neutral pronouns) nature, or may be just scared-baby defensiveness. Kajura’s also a very good eater.

This evening I made a DeviantArt account – MrsMorelia.deviantart.com I wanted to be Prognathodon, but somebody already had that userid. I’ve posted the enlarged color versions of my snake drawings, and a couple of the pencil sketches. In a definite ego-boost, I had people favoriting things almost immediately.

Wait, What?

How did we get over halfway through March?

Vests came out pretty well, except for a minor issue trimming one, which pressed out. I wore them to the floodplain managers’ conference, and one of them to a meeting last week. In other sewing news, I also made a couple sorta-scrubs tops, one of which turned out fine, and one of which had to be rescued from a failed attempt at a boat-neck. And I looked at fabric at Spoonflower.com, and have a rather large wish list.

Took Metra and Amtrak to and from Springfield for the conference. From now on I’m paying the extra for Business class on Amtrak – slightly nicer seats, more legroom, priority boarding, and access to the something something club at Union Station – a nicer waiting area with snacks and drinks (including alcoholic, at certain times of day).  You can access the mumble club and get priority boarding by paying for it, which is what I did, and accidentally making 2/3 of the trip in Business class.

There are four more snakes in the house. Two weeks ago we went to the local herp/exotic animal show, and a Corn Snake and Irian Jaya carpet python followed us home. Yesterday we went to a big twice-yearly show, and almost made it, but a King Ratsnake and Water Python jumped out at us. I was also admiring Reticulated Pythons, but they’re tooooo big. And smart, from what I understand.

Today I went to Ikea and got some more shelving, triggered by evicting various things from shelving we had to make room for three of the four new snakes (My water python baby in a half-size Cambro tub (9″x12″-ish as Kajura (sex unknown) is so tiny).

The biggest chunk of shelving is on the second-story landing, replacing the laundry hamper, and holding new hamper bins. I don’t know why I didn’t do that years ago, much more useful than a hamper with unused space up above. The other pieces are under the windows on my side of the room and Ron’s.

Made a small rib roast for dinner, with new potatoes boiled, drained, cut into chunks, and added back to the pot they cooked in, where onions had been cooking in butter/margarine, seasoned with Penzey’s Fox Point seasoning (salt, alliums alliums alliums, and green peppercorns). Yum yum yum.




Higgledy-Piggledy Month

Since I last posted things have kind of turned upside-down and inside-out and higgledy-piggledy.

Ron and Toshiba have amicably separated, as of February 1.

Ron is working on getting a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) endorsement, so he can drive big trucks. At this point he’s passed the written exams for his CDL learner’s permit, not sure when he gets behind the wheel.

Since Ron has been at home, he and Robin made most of the baked goods we sent to the Capricon Cafe – banana bread, corn muffins, and many different kinds of scones (I did a few scones).

Nageswari definitely seems to be getting more used to us – she’s been seen out soaking several times.

Robin cleaned the pantry a couple weeks ago. Wow, space!

I could *not* come up with any good ideas for birthday/Christmas presents for my Mom, and finally in a fit of possible insanity I ordered her a reproduction china doll (with soft body) similar to mine, and sent here a couple Japanese-style outfits. She was thrilled. Happy dance, happy dance, happy dance!

More natter about things that have been worked on over at the Otter blog.

Last Monday I fell off the step-stool while spot-cleaning snake enclosures. Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch. Mostly just stiff Tuesday, pretty sore and uncomfortable (and stayed home) Wednesday and Thursday.

I was going to do some sewing last Monday afternoon, but instead I spent the day flopping around the couch being sore and headachey (did go to acute care, they didn’t think I needed imaging after physical and basic neuro exam).

We have new neighbors (house to the north sold, finally), Mom, Dad, and four grade-school-ish boys. They seem very nice.

The weather last weekend was insane. 30-40 degrees F would have been warm for Capricon weekend. Mid-60s was mind-boggling. Then last week lower-70s.

Had the house open to get fresh air in much of last weekend.

Then it got cold again, and so for the last week or more I’ve been reminded on or off that my sinuses hate big temperature swings.

Capricon: Robin commuted and worked for Dave, Ron commuted and lurked around the Cafe a bit, I stayed home.

We have a new stove, since the oven died in the old one (a while back).

Also a “portable” countertop dishwasher. Was not willing to sacrifice more floor/counter space to a larger unit.

Got rid of the full-sized dish drainer and mat, and obtained a small mat and a roll-up grate-mat that can sit across the sink for larger items that don’t go in the dishwasher (cast iron, larger pots & pans, etc.).

The downstairs bathroom faucet has been replaced with a high-arch bar faucet, with a hose adapter, and there’s a coil-y hose with good spray head hanging on a rack in the bathroom. Watering snakes is much simpler now.

Got the drafting table mostly cleaned off again (see Otter blog), and used my big cutting mat.

Did sewing this weekend – two vests and a jacket, all un-lined. The jacket is kimono-style, vests have kimono-style collars, and square shoulders. Finished the vests, except for a good pressing that will hopefully tame trim issues on one, hand-sewing on the jacket to go.

Vests are to wear over mock-tee shirts at the annual floodplain managers’ conference next week.

Waiting on a new enclosure for Fezzik, Tanami, or Nageswari – depends on how big they all are when it arrives in a couple months. Yes, a long wait, but worth it.

Not a Lot Going On

It’s been a fairly quiet couple of weeks in terms of doing stuff. I’ve worked on doll clothes, but not so much as to (re-) aggravate my wrist. Dogs have been pretty good. Fish are fish.

Snakes have mostly been eating, and the ones that haven’t been haven’t been worrisome (in shed, etc.). Bruce is getting to be a big boy – the growth in length seems less dramatic than the girth, but his proportions haven’t changed. I think Nageswari is liking the larger enclosure, she was out soaking last week Thursday and again today. Lummy continues his dead tortoise impressions (napping sprawled out).

Got some more cleaning done on Sunday, me in the dining room, with Robin’s help, and Ron worked on the spare bedroom. Both rooms are getting closer to usable, more natter about the dining room on the Otter blog.

Quiet Weekend

It was a fairly quiet weekend.

On Saturday we did a couple errands and went out to lunch with Robin. The rest of the day we relaxed. Ron knitted, I searched for and eventually found my Pelican case of sewing supplies, and some cut-out doll clothes that were in it.

Sunday started with water changes in the fish tank, and moving some things around on my side of the bedroom. The shelves the snakes were on were twisting and leaning, and we suspected part of the problem was Wonambi’s cage on top and how we were keeping the Cambro tub secure. So, we moved Wonambi’s cage to the top of my dresser, the Cambro tub to the top of my white file-ish drawer unit, and evicted the empty cage to go to storage. The garb, stuffies, and towels/rags from the white thing and my dresser went onto the shelves, which got additional cross-bracing on each end. That seems to have fixed the twisting/leaning problem.

In the afternoon, I checked a fabric bin that I’d looked in on Saturday, and found cut-out doll clothes. So I put the fabric I’d pulled out to cut more doll clothes out of back away. Later in the day we misted Lummy and all the snakes.

Last week I had a bright idea for water receptacles for the snakes, especially Fezzik, who is up high and likes to poop in his water bowl – clear Cambro food tubs. I ordered some, they arrived Saturday, but we haven’t gotten around to giving them to the snakes yet. One size may not work well for water bowls, but I can get lids and use them for kitchen storage, so that’s a win either way. I may work at replacing most of the water bowls with Cambro tubs, which stack better than the various ceramic bowls.

Got the box-corner PVC fittings to use in making jungle gyms for the smaller snakes, but did not make any progress on that project. While moving snake enclosures around in the bedroom on Saturday we consolidated thermostat usage, so now we have a spare thermostat.

Good news on the mouse front, the expletive escapee from snake-feeding was finally apprehended overnight, and will no longer trouble us.

More natter to be found on the Otter Blog

Household Roll Call



  • Smaug – Ball python, normal, female, Ron’s, the one who started it
  • Kiyohime – Ball python, orange ghost, female, Ron’s, hopefully over her very prolonged hunger strike
  • Morimi – Ball python, fire pinstripe, female, mine, thinks she’s arboreal
  • Seanan/Wadjet – Ball python, black pastel pinstripe, female, Ron’s
  • Yingarna – Bredli/Centralian carpet python, normal, female, mine
  • Yurlunggur/Bruce – Jungle carpet python, normal (but bright yellow/black), male, mine, squeaks and makes little hissy noises when he’s excited
  • Nageswari Amman – Blood python, heterozygous for albino T- (aka pretty), female, mine, miss hissy
  • Wonambi – Spotted python, normal, female, my tiny python. Australian Aboriginal people thought spotted pythons were baby Bredli.
  • Tanami – Woma python, normal, male, mine, very mellow, unless he smells or sees other snakes


  • Fezzik – Red-tailed boa, axanthic heterozygous for albino, male, Ron’s likes to poop in his water dish
  • Sif – Kenyan sand boa, anery stripe, female, Ron’s
  • Danger Noodle – Kenyan sand boa, anery, male, mine, hopefully over feeding issues
  • Shai-Hulud – Kenyan sand boa, normal double heterozygous for snow (anery and albino), male, mine


  • Scatha the Worm – Mexican kingsnake, thayeri-phase, female, my first snake
  • Diaval – Mexican black kingsnake, male, Xap’s, busybody with a cute little white spot on his chin
  • Caudimordax – Honduran milk snake, tangerine, male, mine, Mr. Pissy-Pants
  • Haku – Nelson’s milk snake, albino, male, Ron’s, Mr. Pissy-Pants Jr.
  • Tanis – Corn snake, normal, female, Ron’s, talented at hiding un-eaten mice
  • Henry (Jones, Jr.) – Corn snake, anery, male, Xap’s
  • Dizzy – Western hognose, normal, female, Ron’s silly little derpy herp, with a lopsided head and questionable eyesight, has tried to eat me, Ron, and a blanket at various times
  • Màu Xanh Long – Vietnamese blue beauty rat snake, normal, male, Ron’s, arboreal sine-wave snake lurking in the artificial greenery


  • NyarLotep – Blue-tongued skink, normal, male, Robin’s
  • Lummox/Lummy – Russian tortoise, male, Mine and Ron’s,


  • 55-gallon, mine, yellow Labidochromis and white-topped Hara cichlids, mixed sex since I’ve seen fry of each, 1 super red bristle-nosed pleco and two marble red bristle-nosed plecos
  • 75-gallon, Ron’s, starlight bristle-nosed pleco, cherry barbs, pristella tetras, regular and green tiger barbs, assassin snails

The Puppy Pile:

  • Pippin – husky mix, black and white, male, Mamma’s boy, Mr. I-don’t-snuggle, “Piggy Little Banana Thief”, “Disapproving Dog”, “Fang”
  • Tommy – beagle, tri-color, male, Ron’s, therapy dog, “Tommy Trouble”, current lap-warmer
  • Gimli/Gimi – beagle, red and white, male, everybody’s or Robin’s, silky, squeaks when hunting, “Minion Thief”, “Baby Beagle” despite being a hair taller than Tommy, current knee-warmer


  • Me
  • Ron
  • Robin

Of the snakes, only Fezzik, Tanami, and Nageswari will need bigger enclosures as adults, unless one of the ball python girls get really big. Dizzy, Sif, Shai-Hulud, and Danger Noodle are all in enclosures that are appropriate for adults. Danger Noodle will probably stay in the Cambro tub he just moved to (ate nicely Tuesday); Dizzy, Sif, and Shai-Hulud may or may not eventually move from glass vivaria to PVC enclosures (better heat and humidity control).

Lummy is in a (stock) tank that’s a good size for him as a little baby tortoise. Come spring we’ll start work on a 4’x8′ or larger outdoor enclosure, and in the long run a bigger indoor enclosure for winters.

Don’t Wanna Go Back to Work!

When last we met, I’d been shopping on Friday for various things. Saturday morning Ron got the shelf put up, and the helicarrier and a few other legos put on it. And naughty dog(s) had broken my terra-cotta horse (collateral damage, I believe). Fortunately, Robin was able to repair it, and its up on the shelf out of range of further dog shenanigans.

Ron’s tummy was acting up on Saturday, so we didn’t get snake cages cleaned. We did get the new cage put together. Twice. Because I screwed up the very first step, which we didn’t realize until the end. D’oh! We did not stay up until local-midnight.

Yesterday Ron installed heat on the new cage, and muscled it into place. Then we cleaned cages and moved snakes around. Haku and Diaval went into the new cage, the ball pythons shifted to cages that are higher off the floor, and Henry and Caudimordax came down lower – ball pythons are mellow, so dealing with them while on a stepladder is easier than with the more active boys. Dizzy and Nageswari moved to Diaval and Haku’s old cages (size upgrade), and Danger Noodle moved into the Cambro tub Nageswari was in. The tub is still in the bedroom, so hopefully Danger Noodle isn’t too upset by the move and keeps eating well.

Friday night or Saturday morning I noticed that the shelves the snakes are on in the bedroom was leaning, and shoved another piece of furniture up against it to prevent further leaning. The plan is to move Wonambi’s cage to the top of my dresser and put the garb on the shelves instead, but we ran out of energy to get that done yesterday.

After cleaning all the cages, and then the living room (there was shredded aspen from one end of the room to the other), I got a shower and clean clothes and felt human again. Just in time for Xap and R to come over. Fortunately, because of all the work in the morning and early afternoon, dinner plans were easy – 7-layer salad that just had to be assembled, roast beef tenderloin, and pre-made pies. And I put Robin in charge of the pies. It was all yummy.

We considered going to see “Rogue One” today, but failed to work up enough energy. Probably a good thing, as Ron’s currently out helping get a broken car (not ours) to a garage. Robin was helping someone move some furniture around, and is now upstairs, probably painting miniatures. Dogs are sleeping on the couch with me. I think the dogs are worn out from having me home all last week – this is day 10 of vacation.

I’d really rather not go back to work tomorrow, but that whole need for a paycheck thing . . .