Sunday, May 31, 2009

And she lays TWENTY-THREE eggs!

Yes, you heard me right. Our little female veiled chameleon laid TWENTY-THREE eggs!!!

About 11:30 am, she began digging a tunnel in a five-gallon planting pot filled with wet sand. She dug deep enough that eventually we couldn't see her. And it was down here, all alone in the dark and the damp, that she laid and then buried 23 eggs.

At 8:30 pm, nine hours after starting the tunnel, our brave and tired little mother finished smoothing out the dirt in the pot. She did such a good job that you couldn't tell anything, much less her precious eggs, were buried there.

Child #2 sprayed her with water because she looked a little dehydrated. You can see the water droplets on her skin. She then climbed up the branch, gobbled a couple of crickets and parked herself under the heat lamp. She lapped water from the dripper off and on.

Here are our incubation supplies. We removed the bucket with the eggs. There are a few plastic deli-like containers with air holes around the sides. We filled these containers with 3/4 inch of damp (because we sprayed it with bottled water) vermiculite (soil-like stuff).

Here's a cluster of half-buried eggs. I set a penny next to them to give you a sense of size. Child #2 removed two mixing bowls full of sand before Child #4 spotted the first egg. The chameleon dug down deep before she began laying.

Child's #2 is holding an egg. He lightly dotted each egg with a Sharpie before removing it from the sand. He wanted to place the egg in the exact same position in the vermiculite. Rotating/flipping a veiled chameleon egg can lead to the embryo drowning in the liquid inside the egg.

This is our $59 incubator. We've set the temperature at about 80 degrees fahrenheit. This temp should result in an incubation period of about 170 days (shorter than with a lower temp) and active hatchlings with a good appetite. For veiled chameleons, gender is GSD (genetic set determination, meaning gender was set at the time of conception) and not TSD (temperature-dependent sex determination where certain incubation temperatures produce females and certain temps product males). Crocodiles, for example, are TSD.

And now we wait, the eggs safe and warm and hydrated (we'll have to keep them moist for the next several months), to see if the eggs hatch. There's a chance these eggs weren't fertilized, but were a test-run for her. Yikes.

And what was the male chameleon doing during the female's whole ordeal? Sunning himself under the lamp and chasing down the odd cricket. No tidying up of the cage, no arranging for a week's worth of meals, no decorating the babies' room. :)

All in all, this veiled chameleon experience has been a fun one!


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Big News in the Summy Household

Child #2 holds his two veiled chameleons. The colorful one on the left is the male.

Our female veiled chameleon may be gravid!! As in, with eggs.

She is lumpy in the hip area. And has developed coloring that includes small blue-ish "robin egg" circles. Also, for the first time ever, she ventured to the bottom of the cage, presumably searching for somewhere to bury her eggs.

The female veiled sleeps on a fake branch.

It was truly heart-warming to see how the lumpy-hipped female veiled galvanized Child #2 into action. (Child #2 will turn 16 this summer. Yikes!). He googled all manner of info, then filled a five-gallon bucket with sand from Child #4's sandbox. He placed said bucket in the cage, a reptile bassinette, if you will.

To some, a 5-gallon bucket from Home Depot. For others, a veiled chameleon bassinette.

Quite frankly, I'm amazed the female ever agreed to "special time" with the male. His behavior toward her borders on abusive. He pushes her out of the way and eats his fill of crickets or wax worms before allowing her close to the bowl. He is not good father material. Although, in her defense, he's the only game in town. I imagine this is how she rationalized things about a month ago.

Will keep you posted regarding expected due dates, baby showers, meet-the-in-laws dinner, etc.

And a little bit of trivia: The verb "galvanize" came into our language around 1802 from the French verb galvanizer. Apparently, a physicist named Luigi Galvani was conducting experiments where he ran electric current through dead frogs' legs. I'm sorry I looked this up. I may be less inclined to use the verb now.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Town Monday: Farmers' Market

Last Wednesday, Child #4 and I dropped off Child #2 and then Child #3 at swim practice. We decided we'd had enough of multiplication times tables and Accelerated Reader points and third grade homework in general.

So, we threw caution to the wind and headed to a farmers' market IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SCHOOL WEEK.

Child #4 scopes out the wares.

Yes, we were the gutsy mother-daughter duo wandering the stalls and scooping up samples while the backpack languished on the floor of our van.

We ended up buying tomatoes (grown near the Carlsbad Flower Fields), smoked tuna and smoked sea bass fished from our own harbor and jam (canned down the street from the Dennys where I meet with my critique group).

Of course, we chatted with everyone and met someone who used to be neighbors with Nicholas Sparks' childhood buddy. We heard of a nearby restaurant which only serves organic food grown/raised locally (possible fodder for a MTM post). We learned the names of several flowers used in the bouquets.

And to round off today's MTM post, here's a little trivia about farmers' markets:

-Before his fatal auto crash on Sept. 30, 1955, people believe James Dean ate breakfast at the farmers market located at Third and Fairfax in L.A.

-There are over 500 farmers' markets each year in California. Eighty of them are in Los Angeles.

-Farmers' markets can be found on several college campuses including University of Southern California, University of California Davis, UC Santa Cruz, UC San Diego, Stanford, Harvard, Brown, Portland State, the University of Minnesota, the University of Maine and the University of Arizona.

Please pop over to Travis Erwin's blog. He's our Fearless Leader for My Town Mondays. Along with his own MTM post, he'll have a list of participants.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I'm Baaaack!!

Hurray! Hurray! A million hurrays!

I handed in I So Don't Do Makeup on time! I love you little book, but we need a break from each other. Now, it's Editor Wendy's turn to work her magic!

My family is very very happy. They felt I was paying far too much attention to Sherry and her family and not enough to them. Ha!

I'm a creature of habit and I'm loving getting back to all my little routines.

Like the gym, which I have totally missed. And reading. My TBR pile was about to crush San Diego. I've already chosen a book for the June Book Review Club. I know what I'm posting for next week's MTM. I'm getting together with friends this weekend.

And I'm CATCHING UP on INCREDIBLY FUN chores like picking up extra rubber bands from the orthodontist for Child #3, ordering piano sheet music for Child #2, practicing multiplication facts with Child #4, messing with the solar cover for the pool, tackling mounds of laundry and dust and bills. Motherhood is not all kisses and bonding. It's hard work.

Of course, I deserve a reward or two for turning the book in on time.

My beloved sushi! This is a rainbow roll. Yum.

New sandals! Yes, DH, I heard what you said. That I'm the only person you know who can take good money and go out and spend it on ugly shoes. But, you've NEVER tried Keen. And you've never tried turquoise.

I'll be catching up on your blogs over the next couple of days. I can't wait!!!

BTW, if you received a phone text from me today calling you a poopyhead, IT WASN'T REALLY FROM ME. Child #4 was a little too quiet in the car on the way to swim team. I should've known something was up!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Book Review Club (May Meeting)

Can you believe it?! It's the FOURTH meeting of The Book Review Club! We are so getting the hang of this! No one's throwing tomatoes or spam. In fact, we received emails and/or comments from several authors whose books were reviewed last month. So, we must be doing something right!

I'm sure you all remember KELLY HAYES, a loyal member of the Denny's Chicks critique group. Kelly's back and in fine form. She kindly offered to cover this month's book review on my blog so I could keep on revising I So Don't Do Makeup. (My dh will be very happy when this book is is D.O.N.E.!)

Thank you, Kelly, for coming to the rescue. Thank you for choosing a interesting book. Thank you for providing a thoughtful, well-written review. (And, yes, I know I owe you. :) )

by Tiffany Baker

What would life be like if you were a giant woman in a very small town? Ever thought about that? Probably not. But you will if you read this book. It’s a story about finding your place even when you don’t fit in. And there’s a lot of love, death, deceit and betrayal along the way.

Truly Plaice is the homely giant whose birth kills her mother, leaving her and her beautiful older sister, Serena Jane in the care of a father who cannot bear the burden. When he eventually dies, Serena Jane is taken in and spoiled rotten by the minister’s wife. Truly is not. Instead she’s relegated to the only people who will have her, a family of misfits who own a sorry excuse for a farm on the edge of town. There she bonds with Amelia, an almost mute but tough little girl who becomes her surrogate sister when Serena Jane no longer has time for her.

As a teenager, Serena Jane’s beauty earns her the May Queen crown and the attentions of the town doctor’s son, Bob Bob, who is also the town bully. While Truly’s ever-increasing size ironically makes her less and less visible, Serena Jane gets pregnant and marries Bob Bob. When she finally skips town eight years later, Truly moves in and takes care of her brother-in-law and nephew. But it takes several years of gritting her teeth against Bob Bob’s constant criticism before Truly finds her calling as a healer.

You might think this is a fairly ordinary story about small town life, but you’d be wrong. All of the characters are unique creations. There’s Truly’s foster father, a kind man who makes money by owning losing racehorses. There’s the small, wounded Vietnam vet who quietly loves Truly from the sidelines. There’s Truly’s motherless nephew who refuses to take on the mantel of tradition and become the town doctor. And there are many more.

Then there is Tiffany Baker’s voice, which almost becomes a character in itself. It has a resonant and timeless quality. And for those writers out there who, like me, love to see an author successfully break the rules, Baker uses first person narrative in an unusual way. We’re always in Truly’s head, but sometimes we’re allowed a forbidden peak into the inner thoughts and motivations of other characters, as if Truly has psychic abilities that are never alluded to. We even sometimes see things that Truly doesn’t. All of this gives the reader the eerie impression of a first-person omniscient perspective, which the author handles deftly.

This is a book about outsiders with no hope of conforming to society’s rules. So they have to make up their own rules. And in the process they create and fulfill their own authentic dreams.

This book will appeal to the outsider in all of us.

To learn more about Tiffany (she has an interesting story about getting published), here's a link to Tiffany Baker's website.

And now for the rest of the reviews... The coffee and tea are ready. The home-baked muffins are fresh out of the oven. And the book reviews are up. So, drag over a chair, grab some sustenance and go check out the rest of the reviews. You won't be sorry.


Thao of serene hours: TWO WAY STREET by Lauren Barnholdt

Stacy Nyikos: ALLIGATOR BAYOU by Donna Jo Napoli

Keri Mikulski: PERFECT FIFTHS by Megan McCafferty

Jody Feldman: NO MORE DEAD DOGS by Gordon Korman

Mitch Wallace of The Sphagnum Patch: 100 CUPBOARDS by ND Wilson (Middle Grade fantasy)

Kaye of the Book Review Forum: SECRETS OF THE DRAGON SANCTUARY by Brandon Mull (Book Four from the Fablehaven series)

Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY by Trenton Lee Stewart (middle grade)

Patti Abbott: THE BOOK THIEF by Marcus Zusak


Sarahlynn of Yeah, but Houdini didn't have these hips: THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR DEMON SLAYERS by Angie Fox (paranormal romance)

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin of The Tainted Archive: SUDDEN by Oliver Strange (Western)

Sarah Laurence: SPOILED by Caitlin Macy (short stories)

Jenn Jilks: THE TENTH CIRCLE by Jodi Picoult (contemporary fiction)

Alyssa Goodnight: SUPER IN THE CITY by Daphne Uviller (light women's fiction)

Scott Parker: GABRIEL HUNT AT THE WELL OF ETERNITY by James Reasoner

Prairie Rose of Prairie Rose's Garden THE LAST PLACE by Laura Lippman (Mystery)

D.A. Riser of the Writing Greek: THE CURSE OF CAPISTRANO by Johnston McCulley (aka THE MARK OF ZORRO)

Linda McLaughlin: THE MEMORIST by MJ Rose (paranormal thriller)

From the Desk of Bee Drunken: DAPHNE by Justine Picardie

Wunderwoman: HOW STARBUCKS SAVED BY LIFE by Michael Gates Gill (Biography)

P.S. If I left you off the list by mistake, just leave a comment. I'll get it right!