The Introverted Activist: Kicking Off the New Year with #Resolutions

Well, folks. Here we are. The first Friday of the New Year. I can’t promise that I am going to post on activism on a weekly basis. I get overwhelmed by the state of things sometimes, and I have to take a break. I am only one person. It doesn’t mean that I don’t matter, but it means I can give myself permission not to try to carry the weight of the world by myself. I might even be open to a guest post, if anyone is interested.

So I need to stay politically active. I have voted at every opportunity, and I have informed myself before hitting the polls so I’m not just voting blind (someone I know once had a moment where they thought they had accidentally voted for Stacey Campfield. The stuff of nightmares!)

Maybe the stupidest human being on the planet? And he got re-elected in our district because people didn’t realize who they were voting for. “Stacey? That’s some girl, right? Wimmen’s Lib!” This is why I will not cast a vote without knowing one candidate from another!


It was disheartening to learn that out of my city of 186,000 people,  11,000 voted in the November election, and it was the highest turn-out ever for an election that didn’t have anything state or federal on the ballot. But I was encouraged because several of the seats were taken by first-timers, one whose fundraising was a strictly grassroots effort. And I taught my kids that city elections are maybe even more important than national because it affects us right here at home.  So that’s good. Now what?

  • I can help people get connected to health insurance. Enrollment for health insurance is still open for 7 states, almost a quarter of the US population! Looking for health insurance? Maybe your state is one of them. Check here. Congress got rid of the individual mandate, which destabilizes a market that was beginning to shore itself up, but young and healthy people can still stick it to the man by getting insurance even though the government says you don’t have to.
  • I can learn about running for office. There’s an amazing website I found (maybe more than one) that gives the basics. This year, I am going to take the free class in how to run. If you go to that website and put in your address, it will tell you what elected offices are available and when the next election is.
  • I can call my representatives. I have one number for each on my speed dial, but I am going to add numbers for their other offices, too. I called so often this Fall that the intern answering the phone was tired of hearing from me. Want to find yours? Go here.
  • I will probably find my way to a protest or two. Them things is galvanizing.
  • And of course, I will share what I have done here. It’s my way of holding myself accountable. If I inspire someone else to action along the way, so much the better.

So that’s my list. What will you be doing in the coming year? And how can I help?


I May Not Survive 2018.

It’s the second day of the New Year,  and I am pretty sure the universe is trying to kill me. I made myself some goals, and goals are a good thing. One of my unwritten resolutions is to be a more positive person in 2018. I am quite determined. And I am pretty sure I heard the universe say “Hold my beer and watch this!”

I went in to work yesterday. I know. New Year’s Day and all, but I work in a zoo. Al’s gotta eat. And it’s not like I party all night. Nah, I was in bed by 9, asleep by 10. If I want to see the ball drop, I can catch it on Youtube. How can I not go in and see this face?

    My favorite picture I have ever taken of my boy.

I say I went in to work. More correctly, I TRIED to go in to work. On the way there:

  • my car started to overheat
  • I realized a coolant hose was leaning, so I pulled over to the shoulder of the interstate.
  • I did more swearing that I meant to as I watched cars swerve over the line and nearly hit me, even though traffic was to merge into THE OTHER LANE.
  • I figured out I had coolant in the car, so I added some, but…
  • the battery had died due to the severe cold (11F plus windchill)
  • I was wearing shorts.

It took about a half hour before husband could come and retrieve my frozen behind and haul me the rest of the way in It took an hour for my feet to feel like feet again. My day went fine at work. I got some things done, so yay. But I was positive! Go, me! Instead of thinking that 2018 sucks already, quitting my job, and ordering more cats off the internet, I thought “Maybe 2018 is my year of solving problems, of growing stronger and more confident in my abilities.

Then I came home.  And I broke my toe. I didn’t get it x-rayed because there’s nothing to be done with tiny pinky toes except to tape them to their next-door neighbor, but it is purple and blue, and if you touch it, I might accidentally punch you. But it’s just a toe, right? A little tape and bottle of Ibuprofen, and all better. Little toe, littler problem.

I wish I had a good story, like I was fighting ninjas, or practicing mixed martial arts, or I kicked a wall in a rage. But no. I dropped a remote control on it. Our first real TV in, like, 9 years. See? I have been saying all along that television is harmful. Believe it.  TV will break your bones. So anyhow. Toe is taped.  It’s something to laugh about.

And then we come to this morning.

  • Outside spigot A was frozen because someone didn’t leave it running. I won’t say who that was for the sake of marital harmony, but it wasn’t me.
  • Outside spigot B was also frozen. Spousal unit unfroze.
  • Spousal unit let car warm up so he could take me to work.
  • Car ran out of gas. Cars without gas do not take you to work. They sit there and wait to be kicked with my good foot.
  • Spigot A refroze, and the only thing I had with which to unfreeze it was. my. coffee.
  • In the unfreezing process, spigot A sprayed me up and down.
  • My pants froze to my legs

For my safety, I gave up, came inside, put on my pajama pants. I am hiding now. 2018 is coming for me. Don’t tell it where I am.

I can’t bear to look!



*My family motto is “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

A Brave New Year

Everybody makes resolutions. Some people are even all clever and make resolutions NOT to make resolutions, thus proving we can’t get away from this tradition/trend. I’m no exception. This year, I’m going in big. Go big or go home, right? Actually, it’s cold outside. Going home sounds not-so-bad at the moment… Just kidding.

2016 was a dumpster fire. I said there was no possible way that 2017 could be worse than that, which 2017 took as a personal challenge. It was not a good year overall. But you know what? That’s partly my fault. I am not going to spend this brand, spanky new year sitting passively in the passenger’s seat. 2018 is my year of being brave.

This year, 2018, I am going to:

  • Learn to knit. I don’t know a whole lot of people in person who knit, so I am REALLY going to have to go to the interwebs for this one. I have never learned anything from Youtube before, except to pee BEFORE watching an episode of Bad Lip Reading, so this will be an adventure. And for some reason, it makes me a little nervous. But if I practice knitting for a year, I’ll get decent, right?

  • Breed my dart frogs. I have a bunch of them at work. Three different species. And none of them have bred. I have done everything recommended, and I have gotten to the point of getting them in condition and getting them to call, but so far, no luck. If you have bred them before, hit me up. I gotta know what I need to do differently.

Why you little dudes take a vow of chastity?

  • I am going to put my interest in plants to use. I am going to grow some things to sell at the local Farmer’s Market this summer. I can’t stop myself from growing plants. It brings me joy and energy. If I am stressed, I can soothe my spirit by checking up on a cinnamon tree or a root peeking out of a fig cutting. And since I have no self-control where it comes to growing stuff, I can maybe share my joy with others. And make a little cash. To buy more plants…
  • I am going to learn how to make saagwala at home. I love Indian food. I have attempted curry, and I’m good at the recipes I have. Now it’s time to learn saag.
  • I am going to vote in any election that pops up. It’s my civic responsibility, and I’m going to take it seriously.
  • Call my representatives when there are issues I am concerned about. Which is, like always.
  • Add ALL my reps’ numbers to speed dial so I can leave them messages in all of their offices. I currently only have one number each in my phone.
  • Produce 2 pieces, either short story or essay,  to submit somewhere for publication. This means re-learning how to write a short story. Eek! But it’s time to start building my wall of rejections. Or acceptance, but it’s the rejections that make us stronger, right? I am gonna be STRONG!
  • Actually submit these pieces. This is me closing some loopholes.

And here’s the big one. The one that is the biggest change in my life. Are you ready? Am I ready?

  • I am going to go the entire year without buying anything I don’t need. I read a book by Dolly Freed called “Possum  Living.” It’s a non-fiction book by an 18-year-old. She and her dad spent 3 years living like possums (not eating them!). They ate what was around them – raised chickens in the cellar for meat, raised gardens, saved money however they could. They spent about $1500 a year. Even in 1978, that was chump change. And her motto when it came to buying things was “Not now, maybe later.” That’s my mantra for 2018. I’ll unpack this whole goal in a separate blog post, and I’ll keep you posted on my progress throughout the year. A surprising amount of planning goes into inaction, really. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this. It’s just a few minutes long and worth a watch!

How do you plan to make 2018 your lap dog? Inspire me!

I Believe In Miracles

This year has been a challenge for me. Between health annoyances, the political climate that is tearing our country apart, the fear of the future in the hands of a Congress that gleefully ignores the pleas of constituents, a deficit that is poised to bloom, it has been a hard year. This is the year that I realized I’m forgetting about the big picture, that there’s more to the future than this world, that God is sovereign in all things, even in this dumpster fire of a year. I forget that a bigger plan is unfolding.We can’t see it because we’re not supposed to. God is here. He always has been. Hang on. Hang on to one another, hang on to hope. And look for the little miracles. And the big ones. Because they are there.

This year has been especially hard for personal reasons. I learned that one of my kids was struggling, really struggling. Hitting high school is hard. Going to a high school with an accelerated curriculum and where you know almost no one? Where it seems like everyone else has hit their growth spurt and their groove? It’s not just hard but lonely. My sweet child, this little person who is now a big person, is trying to find himself, trying to find his sea legs and develop his own identity. It’s not easy to watch.

He came to me right before Thanksgiving and said “I want a dog.” He may as well have said he wanted to join the circus. My gut reaction? Ain’t no way. We have a dog, I said. He raised an eyebrow. Okay, I must concede. My Phoebe is basically a four-legged slug with hair. She doesn’t even get off the chair unless there’s food in it for her. Good food, too, not some wayward Corn Chex. But we don’t need another dog. We have four cats, a Phoebe, a room full of snakes, and a metric crap-ton of tortoises. We don’t need another dog. We already have this:

Love me. Just don’t make me get up.

Ever notice how sometimes we don’t know what we need until we get it?

I casually mentioned to my friend that shows dogs that perhaps, maybe, in the Spring or summer, we might be interested in looking for a dog. Not show quality. A pet from a quality breeder. Sometimes a breeders’ show prospect doesn’t turn out. Maybe a bite goes off, or a coat is the wrong texture, or maybe the dog doesn’t have the personality to enjoy showing. And that would be a win for me. A dog from a good breeder with health guarantees, but also I WOULDN’T HAVE TO LIVE WITH A PUPPY! I love dogs, but I don’t enjoy puppyhood.

My friend said she would make some calls and see what she could do. And through God and a friend of a friend of a friend, a week later I brought this miracle home:


And as it turns out, the thing I did not want became the thing I knew we needed. I knew through the series of texts with her owner that she was meant for us. I bought a crate before I ever met her in person, and then when I met her, I prayed. Please, God, let her owners approve of us. Let us get to take her home. She was ours before I ever touched her.

She’s so perfect for us. Seven years old, German working background, retired from breeding, OFA certified (that means her hips are A-OK), eyes are certified, temperament-tested, a velcro-dog who wants to be with her owner every second of every day. Within 24 hours, she was so tightly bonded with my son that she casually waited outside the bathroom door while he showered.

She’s a traitor. I tell her to go get my son up in the morning, and she lays on top of him so that he can’t move. And lays a paw on his chest when he tries to get up. We’re working on it.

She has gotten me off my butt. I walk her every morning. Son is not hiding in his room anymore, either, because she needs a walk in the afternoon.

She’s hard on toys. And picky. She likes squeak toys, but they can’t JUST squeak. She prefers that they are soft, too. And they last 3.2 seconds. She squeaks, we throw, she squeaks, we throw, she ducks behind the table to the murder-spot and kills the toy dead. Wubba lasted three days. Long live the Wubba. Tuffy toys don’t last, either. But I like a challenge, and my new goal is to find squeak toys that she can’t kill. Any recommendations are welcome.

She is a miracle, this giant girl. The miracle I needed to cap this year, a miracle that lets me know that no matter how dark it seems, the light is there. There are miracles waiting to happen – for me, for you, for our country, for our world. This miracle is mine, but I will share her with you. What miracle will you share with me?

My Husband Is Trying To Kill Me

It might make me sound paranoid, but I am pretty sure my husband is trying to kill me.  And it’s not paranoia if it’s true, right?

I really thought it would be one of the cats who took me out. Bellatrix takes test-bites of my nose at night to see if I’m dead yet, and Ravenclaw eviscerates everything.

It started out simply enough. Husband bought one of those plug-in air fresheners. It was fine at first. And by first, I mean for about fifteen seconds. Then my eyes began to water, and my nose felt like I’d been snorting thumbtacks.*** I might be allergic. I unplugged the thing without comment and went about my day.

When I got up the next morning, I thought someone had put a pillow over my head. I kind of wish they had. I slithered out of bed and tried to sniff the thing out. I found it in the hallway, unplugged it, and hid it on a bookcase shelf. By afternoon, the whole house once again smelled like death covered in flowers. I unplugged it and put it on the window sill behind the curtain.

The next day I came home from work, and husband had clearly tried to compromise. He had replaced the hateful fragrance with pumpkin spice. At least that’s what the label said. More like cloves roasted over the flames of hell. I ripped the thing out of the wall and screamed “Why do you HATE ME? unplugged and hid it on top of the bookcase.

And so it continues. He plugs, I unplug. He plugs, I cry. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I get it. He wants to house to smell welcoming and inviting for the guests we never have. But now he has taken to hiding the things. They look just like the motion detector lights we have for when I’m stumbling out of bed in the middle of the night to pee  checking on the kids in the dark. It sometimes takes me ten minutes to find which outlet holds the little offender.

It’s bad enough that my nose and eyes burn, but I think I am losing brain cells. This is where I draw the line. Already I could hide my own Easter eggs, and I can’t remember how old I am without calling my mom. I can’t afford to lose what little I have left.

“Oh, but Heather,” you say. “He’s not trying to kill you with an air freshener.” And you’d be right. Because’s now there’s not an air freshener, there’s TWO! Twice the fragrance, twice as many brain cells withering to dust. I should never have taken out a life insurance policy. Once you’re worth more dead than you are alive, it’s time to start sleeping with one eye open.

But it’s okay. Two can play at that game. If it’s open season on bringing home something that sends our partner screaming into the streets, I’m buying him a tarantula. This is going to be good.


***PSA – Kids, don’t snort thumbtacks. It might be what the cool kids are doing, but you’re better than that.

How To Apologize Online

Your comprehensive guide to issuing an apology when you have upset someone online, be it Facebook, Twitter, or an email to dear Aunt Sally. Study it. Memorize it. There will be a test later.

Apologize? Me? Heh.

  1. Be online.
  2. Make a mistake. This is not difficult. If you have covered #1, you are guaranteed to say something stupid/misinformed/offensive.
  3. Become aware of your mistake. This one isn’t all that hard, either. If a dozen experts (or even ONE) on a subject presents a counter-argument, there’s a chance you are wrong. Maybe do research at this point.
  4. Grow a pair. Pair could refer to whatever thing you associate with courage. Could be kittens for all I care. Just get you some courage.
  5. Say these words: “You were right.” or “I was wrong.” Use these phrases together for additional sincerity.
  6. Also say these words: : “I am sorry.” Another variation could be “I apologize.” Yes. This step is necessary. I know. You already said #5. I know. Just say you’re sorry.
  7. Demonstrate that you are, in fact, sorry. Do accomplish this task, you should say, well, nothing. Don’t say anything at all.
  8. Continue to say nothing. I know. You just wanted to explain tha-

Just stop it. Seriously. Stop talking. Stop trying to make everyone understand how wonderful you are and how you are being misunderstood. Just stop talking.

9. Say even less than you did in #8. Remember #5? You were stupid/offensive/misinformed. You were. You. I’m looking at you. I know you said sorry. But sorry doesn’t fix stuff immediately. If I eat your pet canary, a simple apology doesn’t make Tweety any less dead. There will be some grief, some anger, perhaps a tiny little funeral to arrange, and it’s likely you don’t want to see me again for a while. Maybe not ever. Some stakes are higher than others.

10. Make your peace with the fact that not everyone is going to like you. Actually, this should be #1, but it’s the one we all tend to blow off, so I buried it here so you wouldn’t ignore it. I’m tricky like that. The hardest part about this one is understanding that in this case, people are in the not-liking phase of you because of something you did. Ouch. Reflect on it. Sit with it.

11. Read the responses. Not to your apology.  I mean the responses to your original mistake. Understand not just that people ARE upset, but get to the heart of WHY. If you don’t make an effort to learn the why, you are pretty much guaranteed to repeat your error, and that’s bad. This part’s hard because the instinct is to argue more or to tuck our tails and RUN. Do not attempt to answer until you are strong enough to respond ONLY with the words “I understand,” “I am sorry,” “You are right,” or “I was wrong.” You will feel like your brain is on fire and your eyeballs are melting, but I promise you will live.

12. Come to grips with the most painful realization in the world: Not everyone cares  what you think.

13. Do better.







Stuff My Kids Will Never Understand

Now I really do sound like my mother. But this isn’t a rant about the good old days and how the world is headed South in a Longaberger basket. That would be my great-grandmother, and I’m not turning into her (yet). I’m learning that few things make me feel older than saying “Well, back when I was a kid…” and having them stare at me, slack-jawed, eyes glazing over like a monkey presented with a computing problem. As if the minutiae of my early years isn’t riveting. It’s just kind of a shame that all of my vast life experience is fading into oblivion. Here’s the weird stuff I remember:

  • Gum. Lots of it! In the 80s, bubblegum was a HUGE thing. Our neighborhood convenience store had a 2ftx8ft section DEVOTED to gum. And I’m not talking the stuff the old ladies enjoyed in church a half-stick at a time, either. I’m talking bubblegum. Every imaginable flavor. Strawberry and banana, sure, but also blueberry and cherry and a variety of fruit punches. Bubble Yum Fruit Punch was the best ever. Gum achieved its nadir with chocolate mint flavor. Ugh. The market never recovered.
  • Because bubblegum bandages aren’t gross at all. Photo credit: Dinosaur Dracula

  • Records were the cheapest form of recording. If you wanted the album on a more portable medium, the cassette tape cost about 30% more.
  • Having to buy an entire record for one song.
  • Requiring an elaborate set-up to convert record to cassette tape. This exercise involved special cables and moving furniture around to get all the components to connect to one another.
  • Hating DJs for talking over the song you were trying to record.
  • Song Hits Magazine – It had the LYRICS, man! THE LYRICS! To the cool songs! So we knew what Cyndi Lauper was actually saying.
  • Benetton and Swatches – and don’t forget the Swatch guard!
  • Halloween, Christmas, Valentine, Last-Day-of-School PARTIES!  Like, at school. With candy and cupcakes and stuff.
  • Film strips. And the substitute teacher who was ALWAYS one frame behind.
  • Reel-to-reel movies in the classroom. In elementary school, we watched The Cat and the Hat and The Red Balloon once a year.
  • Sticker collections– mine is quite impressive. Yes, I still have it. Shut up!
  • Seeing a movie in the theater or not seeing it at all. Because once it left the theater, it was GONE. No purchasing it a few months later. Because there would be nothing to watch it ON! No DVD player, no VCR. Not even laser disc. This tidbit blows my students’ minds.
  • The Wizard of Oz came on once a year – And every year I thought the movie was broken because it started out in black and white.
  • Three channels – and all of them signed off at midnight with the flag.
  • Garbage Candy that came in an actual tiny garbage can!

Why don’t they still make this? I liked the fish skeletons the best! I think I have to do a favorite candy edition because we had the best candy!

  • Floppy Discs – It’s funny that the “save” icon is a picture of something most kids have never even seen in real life. And remember when they were actually FLOPPY?
  • Cutting edge computers with memory measuring in the kilobytes. I didn’t say ALL the old days were good ones!
  • Pong did not involve beer.
  • Saturday morning cartoons – the ONLY time cartoons were available. No Cartoon Network,no Disney Channel. Cartoons started at 6am with the old black-and-whites and ran all the way until noon with O.G. Readmore. He’s a reading kind of cat.
  • After-school TV specials – I always learned something. Or pretended to. These came about right around the time it became apparent that television was becoming a babysitter.
  • Suntan lotion and suntan oil – but no sunscreen. I had more blistering sunburns as a child than my dermatologist would like to think about because the only thing to prevent sunburn was zinc oxide, and only the dweebs used that crap.
  • Lawrence Welk – I could never WAIT for this show to be over so I could watch Hee Haw. Hey, I never said I had great TV taste as a kid.
  • Cracker Jacks – yeah, they tasted like garbage, but they had a PRIZE! And it was sometimes a TOY!
  • Cereal – like gum, cereal had its hey day. Anybody else remember when literally EVERY box on the shelf except for the high-fiber crap had something free in the box? And remember when Cocoa Krispies was represented by Tusk the Elephant?

That’s it for this edition. Now, get off my lawn, you darned kids!

What are you sorry to see go?

Notes From the Zookeeper: My Day in Pictures and a Mind-blowing video

Notes From the Zookeeper: Help!

Dear Mom,

I want to go home. I’m currently seven hours south of the ole homestead at the Turtle Survival Alliance conference in South Carolina. I get to spend the next three days learning all about countless species from experts the world over. Turtles? Yes. Studying up on them? Absolutely! School’s my jam! At a conference where I do not know a soul?  (insert needle-scratch) Ummm. People? I don’t do the whole human thing very well. I am shy, a little weird, and I have the social skilz of an octopus, minus the tentacles. Did I have tentacles when I was born, Mom?

This is me. Trying to blend in, or maybe just outright hide. My Patronus is an octopus.

I stepped out of the car into a city that smells of an odd mix of excrement and brackish water, and I was ready to turn around and go home. The brackish water I get. I’m right here on the coast. But poop? Why? Why the poop? I do not understand! I’m in the heart of the historical district. Is it historical poop? Maybe?

The hotel is a shack. Three room suites, valet parking, a mezzanine, thick walls where I can’t hear the neighbors scratching their bed bugs, maybe not even bed bugs. A shack. I will suffer through. But one of the bars of soap was already wet when I opened it, and that creeps me out more than a little. And everything from the soap to the lotion smells exactly the same.

Our opening event was at the South Carolina Aquarium. I had never been. It was all kinds of amazing. Let me show you.

There’s, like, this whole ocean and stuff!

I did make two friends right off the bat, Mom. Want to meet them?

And there were other cool things.

I found a drug store on my way back to the hotel, and I thought I should get some snacks because food is WAY too expensive here. $12 for hotel breakfast is way more than I want to spend. But I am a jinx, and as I was buying my stuff, the entire computer system shut down, and I had to stand at the register making awkward small talk with the cashier and manager for ten minutes. Ten long, painful, awful minutes.  Come and get me.

The TV is broken. At least the one in my bedroom is, and I don’t want to go to the living room. That’s too much trouble. I mean, the TV comes on, but it only gets crappy channels. There were these two pink people who were walking through the jungle. Did I mention they were nekkid? Why were they nekkid? I go hiking all the time, but always with my clothes on. Don’t these people know there are insects and other things you don’t want close to the tender parts? Am I missing something?

The alarm went off, and I’m still typing my letter. But I will get out of bed. I will. Eventually. I can do this, Mom. I can learn good stuff and make new friends and eat all my snacks so I’m not spending a billion dollars on breakfasts. I can do this. I can.

On second thought… there are two beds here. I should go try out the other one.




Notes From the Zookeeper: I Really Did It!

I went to Amphibian Management School back in February. Yes, that’s really a thing. Frog populations have declined rapidly over the last several years due to a number of factors – habitat destruction, globalization, climate change, pollution, etc. In the US alone, populations are declining at a rate of 3.7% per year, so an annual training class to help zookeepers care for these animals is very necessary. One day I’ll get my act together and share some cool things I did and learned, but today isn’t that day. Today is about sharing one thing.

Our curator told me that we’re acquiring some Tiger-legged Monkey Frogs (Phyllomedusa hypochondrialis).  I have never worked with this species before, but I am pretty stoked. Why wouldn’t I be?

Check this out! Who wouldn’t want a frog who can do this?


We aim for mixed-species exhibits wherever possible because animals in captivity often do better if we can mimic their eco-system. Imagine being alone in the world – no birds, no insect sounds, no fragrance of flowers or trees. Boring and stressful, right? I even introduced some isopods (pillbugs) and native plants into a milk snake enclosure, and he has been more visible and less jumpy.

We just happen to have a snake that cohabits the tree frog’s ecosystem, so it was my job to create an exhibit that could house both while being visually appealing. Thank you, Amphibian Management School! I got this!

So the exhibit itself isn’t the most attractive, but I can work with it.

Step 1

We need a good base. The exhibit needs to be heavily planted. Here’s the dilemma. The frogs need to be sprayed heavily every day, and plants like water, but not TOO much water, or their roots will rot. The solution? A false bottom. The frogs get their spraying, and the extra water has a place to go.

Take a piece of plastic egg crate (it’s really plastic mesh) and cut it to the size and general shape of the enclosure. Then take some pieces of PVC pipe. Their length doesn’t matter at all, just their diameter. The job of the pvc is to hold the mesh off the bottom. Don’t stand the PVS straight up, or they will get clogged with dirty water that you can’t get out.

My PVC was fairly narrow in diameter. I also didn’t have egg crate, so I used a rigid mesh.

Step 2 

The water under the exhibit will eventually build up and soak the substrate unless you have a way to get rid of it. Solution? A stand pipe. I can run a piece of flexible tubing down into the stand pile and drain out the extra water.

Ta-da! Even I, the mechanically disinclined, can make a dream come true!

Step 3

Cover the egg crate or mesh with wire screen. This step keeps your substrate (dirt) from dropping straight through the mesh. It’s very inexpensive. Also, this is the step I forgot to take a photo of. Secure the mesh to the screen with zip ties for added peace of mind. I zip-tied mine every which way from Sunday, just to be on the safe side!

Step 4

Add your substrate. Frogs breathe through their skin (some species don’t even develop lungs at all), so any toxin in the environment goes straight into them. So get the organic stuff. There’s a mix called ABG, after Atlanta Botanical Garden, after the facility that perfected it. People have tweaked it to their own needs. I was limited to the items on hand, so I used equal parts milled sphagnum, crushed peat, and long-fiber moss. Most people also add charcoal (like, a bag of Cowboy charcoal you get at Lowe’s – simply crush with a hammer), but I didn’t have any. I dumped everything into a trash can I use for feeding snakes and wetted it down thoroughly. WEAR A MASK. This stuff is dusty, and you’ll be sneezing brown for days. Don’t ask how I know.

Worst photo in the world, but you get the idea.

Step 5

Now’s the fun part. Add some branches for the arboreal snake. He is one that never comes down to the ground, so the more options you can give him for hanging, the better off he will be. Let him choose if he wants to be higher, lower, covered in plant leaves, etc.

Step 6

Add the plants. This is my favorite part. I LOVE plants almost as much as I love my animals. I made a trip to Stanley’s Greenhouse to find some lovelies to put in my exhibit. I used a Bird’s Nest fern, a hybrid fern, many varieties of Elephant Ear, a tiny little Philodendron,  Lady’s Slipper, and some vining plants. Go pesticide-free for frogs.

Ta-DA! Note the stand-pipe is concealed by the fern. If the frogs are small, I’ll use PVC cutters to shorten the pipe and cover it with a rock so no one accidentally falls through!

I am very pleased with it. Time will tell if the Emerald Tree Boa will beat anything up. What does he think of the set-up?

Confused. So many choices, so many branches to climb!

If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to ask. If I can do it, seriously, anyone can! What have you done that you didn’t think you could do?