Annual Midwest Pogonic, 2000

at Kathryn Tosney's house
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Saturday and Sunday, August 26-27


    NEW: Photos, courtesy of Deborah, Michael and Aaron, featuring the human attendees!

    The first to arrive was Deborah ( with a carload of kids, both scaled and non-scaled, Saturday morning. Two of her three boys came (Aaron and Michael) and they are true herp-o-philes, as well as phot-o-philes. They gloried in Deborah’s new digital camera, and immediately went from cage to cage to cage in the house, and bush to bush to bush in the greenhouse, and pond to tree to river outside, snapping great pictures!! Michael confessed that he wants to be a professional photographer, and he is getting in a lot of practice! Deborah promises many photos to come, but do note that in the excitement, animals were photographed preferentially— indeed, we even forgot to take the group photo!!

    It remains to be seen if we actually have any pictures of people!

    Deborah’s scaly kids (and grandkids!!) got even more attention, of course. She brought Ratajack, Charlock (a sweet, prettily patterned little one), Arvana, and Puff and the babies (who are children of Samphire, who fell prey to a firefly and lives on in his kids). It was wonderful to have babies around again! The dragons happily communed with mine, and avoided the cats, who were befuddled at not being the center of attention. Poor furry beasts, living with a herpophile, whose guests also push the cat aside to see the lizards… not expected in the cat-centric view of life!!

    After Deborah described her house and environs, we all begged her to host a Pogonic next year (maybe an early Spring one?). Listen: her large living room has no furniture, only an 8 foot wide hot tub—and the room is decorated in a medieval theme, with dragons!! Her husband collects ceramic dragons, swords, medieval stuff, which decorates the walls, and the very large dragon tanks are in this room. Deborah also loves frogs, so there is a frog room. And the boy’s bathroom is soon to be redecorated in frog… The lot is very large and private, with outdoor enclosures as well. They also have wonderful portable "play pens", two of which they brought with them. One is a very clever contraption, made of 12 x 1’s hinged together, that can be arrayed in a circle, rectangle, etc. We set it up in the cover/dandelion patch (also known as the driveway) for dragon outings, then moved it later to a lower deck for shade.

    For the afternoon, along with the dragon kids, several of my lizards (Fluffy, The Babe, Pudge, Fratchet, Florence) joined us out on the deck, in their own sun cages. The frilled dragons came out from their new 260 gallon Reptarium in the greenhouse (winter quarters, to keep them from inadvertently freezing themselves in some corner) and lurked quietly in a birdcage (de-evolution in action!!) where they were great hits, despite their refusal to become frightened and raise their frills. I am sure there will be pictures! Also of the indoor chuckwallas, emerald swift, long-tailed grass lizard, Jackson’s chameleon, leopard frog, etc. etc. (but not, I think, of the geckos, retiring beasties that they are).

    Bill Mears ( and his son John arrived around 4:00, without dragons…but they left with two!! Bill is into cross-breeding in a big way, which is greatly to be approved!, and on this trip he garnered dragons from two very distant points in America! He picked up a beautiful bright orange girl from me, who was formerly one of Nathan’s offspring. He also received a wonderful little girl from Ronnie, who Ronnie shipped to me with my Daytona purchases, as a surprise for Bill. (Note, that this little girl has the transient name of "Bill", thanks to Aaron—but the name stuck very well for the afternoon.) Bill (the 6 foot 6 version, not the small scaly version) won the biggest door prize (by default—it first went to Jen, but she already had one), a new edition Bearded Dragon book signed by Bob Malloix (sp?) himself at the Daytona show! He also got a frog candle holder, as did Deborah, who also got a rubber-lizard-in-a-bottle-candle-holder direct from the Smithsonian! (She prefers the frog version...). The boys all won rubber lizards, that they got to choose for themselves.

    Bill brought some door prizes of his own, and a gift for me that I know all of you will covet—a Ronnie-style Pogonic logo white sweatshirt!! A real one-of-a-kind item! He printed an iron-on sticker off using special paper on his printer. The extra door prizes were some of these same iron-on stickers. I LOVE my Pogonic shirt!!!! Thanks, Bill for going to the trouble, and thanks Ronnie for the design—I hope all goes well and that soon we all can have Pogona shirts!!

    John, Michael and Aaron thoroughly enjoyed my backyard climbing tree—absolutely suitable for ascending (and not only for kids, but that’s another story). They also made a foray down to the river, garnering clams and mosquitoes. The adjacent park was "boring" but the tree was a success (despite a stepped-upon hand), as was the pond ("I saw a splash, but I haven’t seen a frog yet"), the food, and particularly all the herps, including the turtles that were dug out of their hibernarium in the greenhouse for a photoshoot.

    Scott Radowski, Katie’s ( husband, arrived soon after. He happened to be in Ann Arbor on a business trip—so he could make it while Katie couldn’t!! I (Kathryn-the-enabler) maliciously introduced him to my blue tongue skinks. These are "snuggle lizards"—they love to burrow into your arms, or your clothes, and just settle there. Scott spent hours holding one that wrapped itself up in a towel like it was a baby blankie. I think I have Scott hooked…he seemed quiet and thoroughly entranced all evening. Something tells me Katie and Scott have a skink in their future

    While we were giving the third herp-tour of the Pogonic, I looked up and found Jennifer Marie Periat ( looking on, Gueniviere in hand. Gueny has actually grown since last year; she looks magnificent! Almost as big as my "Pudge" (3/4 German Giant). Unfortunately, Jen had found the oven in her new apartment doesn’t work, so we were deprived of her famous cookies (sniff!!), and had to make do with Jen’s store bought—oh, and with strawberry shortcake, thanks to Deborah!

    Jen also departed with two new friends (it is dangerous to run around with Kathryn the enabler!!) acquired in Daytona, and shipped to me by the munificent Ronnie. "Margarita" is a sweet little bearded dragon from one of Ronnie’s clutches. She is marvelously alert and healthy. "Hula" is a baby crested gecko who has black speckles. Hula was acquired as the direct result of interactions with another enabler at the Daytona expo, Jeff "Diamond Buster" Stewart, who let us play all one evening with his male crested gecko (see his site for pictures of these little beauties!). They look like they have a flat-top haircut, and huge eyelashes—they have a row of spines acting as the eyelashes and extending back along the edge of their little flat heads. Their skin is incredibly soft, like very expensive suede—or like a chamois. They are nocturnal, but don’t mind being handled. They have endearing characteristics. They lick their eyes with their tongues. When they walk on a horizontal surface, they hold their toes up so they don’t stick. (awwwww!!) When they are going to jump, the cock their legs (so you can get ready). At Daytona, Des was staring at the gecko who was sitting in her hand when it cocked his legs—and flung itself across her face like a wet rag, or a beast in Alien, and stuck there! This gecko henceforth was known as "the face monster". The gecko also went to sleep in my hand—his little body curled up in the palm of my hand, and his eyes hid under my protective thumb. double awwws!!! So how many crested geckos did I buy?? Five. They are set up in a 38 gallon Reptarium (also a purchase at Daytona) with their own Ficus plant, etc. They eat small crickets, and fruit baby food. Hmmm—this paragraph was supposed to be about JEN!! How easily we herpers get distracted into talking about our herps instead!

    Jen also brought her photos from Daytona. She hadn’t even had a chance to look at them herself before she came! She generously gave me a set, and she has them on a disc as well, so hopefully we will soon have them up on the Daytona website. Jen reported on her burgeoning Veterinary career, the veterinary school welcoming picnic, all the free stuff the companies give her, and is obviously eager and ready to study enthusiastically! Soon we will have a real herp vet on the list!! (Well, after four more years of training, but she plans on learning fast and well!!)

    Todd Kuhlinayn ( and his roommate Sean Grover arrived around 5:30, with Kinkers happily in hand, and two snakes, Bluff and Melvin, a wonderful orange and white (corn snake?), and a neat, very neat hog-nose snake. The Hognose cooperated by flattening his neck out at Todd’s nudging, and doing the "I am a cobra!" imitation, although he didn’t raise his head up. He was truly wonderful. Michael got some good pictures of him in cobra-mode, so I hope they will be posted. Todd got some nature pictures, of his snakes draped through various plants around the deck. Someday I really want a snake! If only my cat-sitting neighbor wouldn’t freak! (My neighbor said she was surprised I hadn’t invited her to my party like I usually do, particularly after she loaned me her grill, but then she said, when I brought her Pogonic leftovers today, that she had figured it out—"there were snakes, weren’t there!!!! Snakes!!!")

    This time, Kinkers didn’t try to escape into the bushes, perhaps, as Todd pointed out, because the bushes were much less lush and inviting this year—some years I simply do not garden! Todd is now so well accustomed to my herps that he can run the herp-tour himself (although of course there were a few new denizens he hadn’t seen yet…). Timothy Woulfe ( couldn’t made it at the last minute, even to see his male flat rock lizard (Platysaurus—litterally, "flat lizard") who is keeping company with my female in the greenhouse. They both live under the sink counter in there, which has a clearance of 1/4 inch or less—and they are more than an inch wide, and at least 6 inches long! The lizards are doing fine, Tim, although they didn’t come out to party!

    Todd won the door prize of a small colony of death’s head cockroaches.

    I’m not sure if he was thrilled or not.

    The weather cooperated, right up to the time dinner was served. We had marinated grilled chicken, pasta, salad, fresh bread, cumined carrots, a simple repast. People were advised to fill their plates—and then grab a serving dish and head for the house!!! The thunderstorm hit soon afterwards. People were not, however, noticeably unhappy to be ensconced amid the multiple reptile cages with their food, despite the lack of air conditioning. (To be installed this winter, I hope, along with Pergo floor in place of the carpet, as soon as the dragons all go into brumation and can be moved out of the living room and into the greenhouse!)

    However, after eating, John, Michael and Aaron dove into the elements, hunting toads!! They captured one baby that they took home, and one for the greenhouse. Cute little guys—nice and alert and lumpy, like a toad should be! Oh, the kids are also all good looking, and alert but not noticeably lumpy...

    In the house, conversation varied widly and enthusiastically, from dragons to monitors, from books to swords (Bill is a sword master--check out his web site!). A great time was had by all!

    People departed reluctantly, Bill and John refusing my offer of a bed in favor of a motel, and Deborah and her brood decided not to pitch the tent in my yard in the drizzle, as previously planned, and opted for a motel also, leaving the scaly kids with me for the evening. In the morning, they all returned for the ritual omelet-to-order breakfast. As I prepared the repast (OJ, milk, coffee, toast, bacon, sausage, cantaloupe, strawberries, etc. etc.), we played the tape that Joyce gave me at Daytona. Enthralling. Entrancing to watch Beardies in their natural habitat! Particularly eating those palm-sized "Whistling" spiders whose venom can kill a dog in 15 minutes! Wow!

    Plans are already under way for next year’s Pogonics!!

My third annual Midwest Pogonic will probably be earlier in the summer, to conflict less with the Daytona show, and to allow some other people to come who have conflicts with this late August date. Alta Brewer promises to come next time, for sure, and Nancy Chretien as well! How about the rest of you Midwesterners--by residence or plane—Timothy? Victoria? Steve? Bruce? Susan? Richard? Kate? Katie? Merie? Ronnie? et al? All 300 of us????

In addition, a Midwest contingent is planning on meeting at my house—Deborah, Jen, me, and maybe Todd—and heading up to Canada for Bill’s Pogonic next year. Anyone else want to join the carpool? Deborah has a big van!!

And, we really need to have Deborah host one—that hot tub with a dragon view sounds most inviting!!

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