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The Aging Disco Diva Dolittle

What does an Aging Disco Diva do when she has an empty nest? Fill it with critters.

My youth was a foreshadowing of things to come. When I was a kid, living in 'Da Bronx, a bunch of do-gooders rounded up kids from the projects every summer and shipped us off to the Fresh Air Camp upstate in Peekskill for a couple of weeks. While many of my fellow campers spent their days moping and nights crying I loved every single second….well, every second except for the latrines. I hated those damn things—it was a friggin’ pipe over a hole in the ground you had to relieve yourself in. I have always had a very, very active imagination which serves me well as a person who believes in visualization and positive thinking, but not so great if you are a kid trying to take a dump in a latrine. I just KNEW there were all types of mutant creatures living down that hole who were just waiting for my fat little Puerto Rican butt to settle on that metal can so that they could grab me and pull me down into the disgusting, stinking pit…and I would never be seen again. My mother could never understand why I came home with a colon that was so impacted it would take prune M-80s to get things going again. Anyway….I came home each summer with more than constipation….I came home with all kinds of live critters gently packed away in my suitcase. Salamanders were a favorite to sneak home (my mother was not amused) as were frogs.

My menagerie

My furry menagerie currently consists of a crabby old cat who hates everyone except my son who left to go to college in 1998 and three ferrets (Two were “rescues” given up by their owners) that I named Hermione (pictured below) Ginny and Paris.

Paris was a gift from my youngest daughter. Originally I named her “ButterCup” but as I got to know her, it just did not fit. This gal had huge man-hands, kind of thick from the waist down, was not the brightest crayon in the box (it took her forever to figure out how to get from the third floor of the cage down to the bottom floor and then out into the 12’x18’ indoor “front yard” area enclosed by a fence I have for them so that they are never cooped up.) and she really does look like Paris Hilton.

I also have a lot of "company" in my office.... including eight goldfish and one black moor in a 30 gallon tank (for good feng shui) and another 20 gallon tank with an ever expanding number of guppies, ghost shrimp and a dwarf African frog.

I also have a heavily planted terrarium with an anole (“Bill Snyder Family Lizard”)

and a Pacific Tree Frog (“Billerina Snyder Family Frog”)

Billerina came, I swear on all that is holy, in a giant box of organic salad greens delivered to a local restaurant that my daughter was managing. Everyone thinks this is an urban legend, but that is how Billerina ended up in Kansas. The poor thing was accidentally scooped up in a field in northern California as she was probably feasting on crickets in a lettuce field. She could not be set lose here because I was not sure she could survive our brutal temperature extremes or if she would somehow endanger our native amphibians. After I spent an ungodly amount of money setting her up in a nice, landscaped tank I got hooked…and got the anole to keep her company (they do get along very nicely) When I moved both of them to a large upright terrarium I just HAD to find something for the now vacant tank…and got three fire bellied toads (Hiro, Ando and Sulu)

I had a piece of glass cut at the local lumber store and made the tank half land (with tropical plants) and half water (about 4 inches deep) with a waterfall I made out of glued together lava rocks purloined from our front yard. The toads like to climb to the top of the rock pile and sit under the water fall (which is odd, but my critters all tend to be..well…odd)

This past Saturday morning, as I was killing time before the K-State basketball game, I cleaned out an empty 20 gallon tank I had in the storage room and decided to go ahead and get a White’s Tree Frog. They look like they are smiling and tend to be dumpy.... or even well.... FAT…much like the Aging Disco Diva.

It will become a MASSIVE (up to 5”) frog. I still have not decided on a name, but want something to reflect his (yes, he is a he...he was croaking love songs to me last night) Australian "heritage"

Right now, it is the dead of winter, but my office is awash in the sound of crickets and singing frogs, and I can hear my furbies in the room across the hall doing a dook dook war dance and having great ferret fun… how cool is that?

Time to refresh my coffee and go enter some sweepstakes.

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