Pogona Picnic

The First Annual Midwestern Pogonic
(at Ann Arbor, at Kathryn's house)

click here to read text by Rachel and Tom Sacek, and by Nancy Chretien

click here to view photos of the Southern California extension of the Pogonic

Click here to view photos of the Anaheim extension of the Pogonic
"The Pogopizzapartypx"

click here to view photos taken by Georgia and Scott Lundgren!!

click here to view more photos taken by Georgia and Scott
click here to view photos taken by Jennifer Marie Periat!!

click here to see Jen's secret cookie recipie

The weather was great, the company was terrific, and we all left eager for the SECOND annual Pogona picnic...Plan to come next year!! Here’s some of what you missed:

Few of us had met one another before, and most of us had been warned about meeting possible “internet crazies.” Thus, as each person arrived, the first thing they wanted to know was: “Who ARE all you people?” Happily, everyone came up with instant Pogona-references to identify one another: “Oh, You’re Jen who went to Africa; You’re Georgia who wants to see Todd's snakes; You’re Bill who ate bugs, You’re Nancy with the yellow (“jaundiced”) BD” “You have to be Todd”... etc., etc. Identification was followed by instant hugs, everyone was already friends, there were no awkward silences, only great interactions, and sharing of common interests.

The picnic nearly fell prey to what Bill termed as “Kathryn’s Kar Kurse”, which Todd promptly rendered as “KKK”. To quote from Bill:

“In the past 48 hours I've acquired:-
A brake warning light (air in system; I'll ignore it)
A new set of spark plugs (engine wouldn't pull)
A new set of ignition wires (managed to pull one in half checking the plugs so have to buy a whole set)
A full oil change and a bit bottle of 'stop smoke'
Total automobile paranoia”

Todd’s car ills were even more extensive. My exhaust system fell off. Nancy had a family illnesses that threatened her attendance. "Pink Iguana" lost her ride, and missed the picnic; the others did get here--and my car will hopefully (noisily) make it to the shop on Tuesday but was too untrustworthy to take Nancy back to the airport (no, I didn’t get to keep her here, she caught a taxi).

The BD visitors were greeted excitedly by all humans, but they were greeted with even more enthusiasm by the resident BDs. Dulcie, Gwenny, Kinkers and Miss Diggaire (females all) brought out the beards, bobs, and boyishness of all my male dragons, who postured, posed, and pranced about their cages in full display (“Hubba, hubba hubba, look at the GURLS, look at ME, I would make a wonderful mate, pleassssssssssssssse!!!”) Even the dwarves were in full display, black from beard to belly. Today, with all the visiting girls gone, they are still eager; they all want to come out of their cages to find their errant lovers (“Where did you GO???? come BACKKKK?” scratch, scratch, scratch, hop, hop, hop, bob,bob, bob)

Much dragon comparison went on. If people couldn’t bring their BDs, they invariably brought pictures, which were examined by all. This picture-looking was not a polite “Oh, look at my kids/grandkids photos” type of examination--instead, people were eagerly examining and commenting on each picture. We obviously shared a common passion for these animals.We were surprised at the wealth of different patterns on the back of different animals, which showed a great deal of heritable pattern variation. A second surprise was the size variation among adults. Every detail was subject to scrutiny. Hemipenal bulges and femoral pores were examined (“WHAT are you doing to me???”). Head shapes were compared. Animals were introduced to one another, and passed from hand to hand and shoulder to shoulder and lap to lap.

Sequence of “arrivals/events”:

Saturday: Bill arrived with Dulcie, then Jen dropped off Gwenny and the cookies and picked up Nancy at the airport. All three came to dinner.

Sunday: breakfast, then Bill went to a pet store and tried to buy a bright red dragon while Nancy and I (mostly Nancy) made deviled eggs. Tom and Rachel arrived in time to keep us from putting mustard into the eggs (an allergy!). Georgia and family arrived and after a late lunch, Todd appeared with Kinkers, Stumpy and snakes. Last, Joyce and family arrived ca 7 pm, just before dinner.

Monday: Joyce, Tom and Nancy came for breakfast, and a last dragon-visit.

Participants (vignettes and quotes)

Listed in order of arrival at the picnic:

Bill Mears brought Dulcie, who was wearing her neat harness (the same model is worn by Gwenny in her photo--obviously a coveted high-fashion item). Bill’s description: “Dulcie behaved (almost) impeccably all weekend , just sitting on my shoulder pretty much the whole time and driving all my boys into a frenzy ("whoo-hoo baby; check out this beard...look I can smack my chin on the glass til I see three of you....move over I'm better looking than you.not...am...not ..am......my head hurts..smack). Dulcie much enjoyed the chocolate cake and Jen's chocolate chips. ((NOTE the new diet advice from one of our foremost experts!!)) Oh and the carpenter ants on the back deck....and the waxworms....and the supers!!!!!!!!!!!”

quote: “I’ve been in the (reptile) trade for a long time, and found to my surprise that dragon owners are a remarkably sane bunch.” (Unfortunately, I have no witnesses to this statement, except the dragons, who aren’t talking...)

Bill is tall enough to hand crickets to the Jackson’s chameleons who are perched in the 8-foot tall Scheflerra tree in the greenhouse. He fed them whenever new groups of people arrived, amid camera-clicks as eager photographers tried to capture a chameleon tongue in motion. The Jackson’s were curiously unhungry this morning.

Everyone inspected the BMW (Bill's Modified Wagon). The front has the carpeted dashboard (which you’ll have heard about) for Dulcie to sink her claws into during trips. The back has a carpeted area with two nice branches affixed for perching, and a wire-mesh back for breezes when the rear window is opened. quote: “It’s a dragon wagon!!!”

Bill won the “count the herps in the greenhouse” contest and was awarded the prize: a rock with a lizard carved into it (His response: quote: “But this is a ROCK!!!!” audience: "Yes, but think of it as a petroglyph.." .Bill, politely: “Oh, I see, it is actually carved into the rock...er, thanks...”).

Bill talked about his days in the reptile trade, the butterfly business, and the net-search craft. He confessed to a love for toads. Sorry, you missed it!!

Bill gracefully forced down all the organic veggies/fruit I fed him, although for some reason he skipped the breakfast of omelets made from “fertilized eggs from free-ranging chickens with unlimited access to roosters...” My bugs were also considered too organic to be eaten... He now claims to be suffering from a serious lack of noxious chemicals in his system.

Bill showed us his tattoo...

Bill’s (slightly edited) description of his 6+ hour drive, here and back: “The journey up was uneventful- passing by Catfish Creek (saw no banjo players) and Fertilizer Lane (presumably it led to Poopsville) and took the Tillsonburg bypass which should be renamed "The WorstbloodyroadinCanada Highway" as it has more patches than a Mennonite quilt. American Customs/Immigration was interesting (read the following in a monotone voice - it appears all US border guards have their personalities surgically removed) "What's that on your shoulder?" "A Bearded Dragon" "Why do you have it?" "It's a pet, I'm going to Ann Arbor for a get together of other Bearded Dragon owners" "Is it a reptile or something?" (Resists temptation to say smartass remark) "Yes" "What's that around it's neck? "It's a harness" "Why does it need a harness?" "So that if it gets scared I can stop it running away" "OK". That was pretty much it.....all my preparation for importation forms came to naught. Coming back was even easier....."How long away?" "A day and a half" "Did you buy or receive anything" "No" "OK". I can only assume Canadian border guards have their eyesight damaged at about the same time their US counterparts are getting lobotomies- Dulcie was fast asleep on my shoulder. She slept on my shoulder for the first part of the trip back and then went into her box, but when I pulled over around 2.00am for a sleep, she complained and had to get inside my sweater and sleep on my chest. I think we bonded this weekend!”

Jen (Jennifer Marie) Periat brought Gueniviere, whom I termed a “sherbert” color phase BD, since she is neither orange nor gold, but a luscious mix of the two. She (Gwenny, not Jen) is paler in color overall than most BDs, with wonderful, subtle colors down her back. Jen sent me photos she took at the pogonic, which are posted here.

Jen showed us INCREDIBLE albums of her Africa trip, with close-ups of lions, jackals (quite pretty animals, I’d had no idea), warthogs, various deer-type animals, hyenas (the subject of their study), sunsets, lone acacia trees... The album was a model of aesthetic presentation, and captured the feel of the park and of many animals. It evoked jealousy in all!

quote: “This is a picture of the elephant that charged the car in front of us, as he was going by our car...”

quote: "This is the Masai who asked me to marry him."

Jen brought absolutely INCREDIBLE cookies, chocolate chip, I hid one to eat today. Click here to see her secret recipie.

Jen husked the corn that Nancy bought (warning--people are put to work at these picnics...).

Jen has a much-admired lizard tattoo.

We won’t tell you where it is.

Nancy Chretien brought wonderful “friendship bread” chock full of goodies, and an entire bushel of unbelievably tender and tasty corn. She brought a great photo album, which also showed her great Danes, Morgan horses, and, oh yes, her sons.

quote: She said, as she first entered my door, “Dragons on the coffee table, what a GOOD idea” and thereby won me over completely. She intends to go home and buy a coffee table, to put dragons on...

Nancy is the perfect guest. She helped make meals, made deviled eggs, and kept trying to wrest the dish-washing chores from me. Invite her anywhere--she is the most gracious and concerned guest I’ve ever had.

Nancy had originally planned to meet up and travel with Bill, but her attendance became in doubt over much of the last week, since her Father-in-law is deathly ill; at one point, she left home last week to go to an expected funeral. His rally, and our discovery of a super-cheap flight, let her come after all. The flight comes from an email-notification I get weekly from Northwest airlines, which lists cheap weekend fares (Saturday to Tuesday) for each week (e.g., the $99 round-trip plane fare from Syracuse that Nancy took). The URL for signing up for this service appears to be http://www.nwa.com/travel/cyber/disterms.shtml

Nancy held more different dragons than anyone else at the entire picnic...

Rachel & Tom Sacek sent flowers, which arrived even before they did and which were enjoyed by all (particularly one of my cats, who decided to eat all the greenery in them).

Quotes: “Gwenny looks a lot like Dracaena” and “Pudge looks as big as Dracaena.”

Their photo album showed both of their dragons, from their early days to the present, including photos before and after Dracaena's surgeries, with a view of the stitches on her tummy, and a documentation of the progress of her tail-tip gangrene, which let to tail-tip amputation. They took many photos while they were here; we hope to see some of them!!

A highlight of the picnic was their 12 minute video, showing Dracaena and Dr. Seuss, including him doing “the wave” and her riding a radio-controlled truck. The entire group enjoyed the tape IMMENSELY. The audience was rapt and there were abundant votes to send the video to relevant TV shows.

We wanted to see the video again, but Tom and Rachel had to leave. They are on a grand tour, 2000 miles in 7 days, an intense vacation, to match their intense natures. This is a couple with verve, and a lot of love for their dragons.

Georgia Lundgren and her whole family: Scott, Serena, Erik, arrived from their vacation house in Northern Michigan, which recently lost its pier and perhaps its boat in a wind-storm.

Georgia and Scott took digital photos with their new camera (the photos posted here and here). We planned to post the photos on Sunday so Pogona list people could look immediately. However, my system proved incompatible and they lacked a modem. We were saved by Joyce’s arrival: Georgia transferred the files on disk to Joyce, who emailed them to me, who put them on this site.

Georgia fought off a severe allergy to cats (my house holds FOUR cats) to remain in residence with the reptiles. She gets the (invisible) hero award, and left with tears in her eyes...

quote: “I never even THOUGHT that you might be incompatible.” (referring not to me personally, but to my perverse use of a Macintosh system) and, a shocking confession: “I think I loved the snakes even more than the BDs.”..

Serena became expert in catching the “escape-cat”; most often-heard quote: “I’ve eaten only two cookies, really, and I need another one...”

Erik prefers live snakes as belts (click here for a view) and counted almost as many herps in the greenhouse as Bill did. His most often-heard quote “How many did BILL see??” Both Erik and Serena may have liked the adjacent park/playground even more than my back yard, but they did succeed in finding fish in my pond (although the advertised frogs proved illusive)

Scott may have enjoyed my wall of bookcases filled with Science Fiction more than he did the lizards. Most common introductory phrase: “Have you read....?” He took great photos of the Jackson’s Chameleons in the greenhouse, which we hope to post later, hint, hint

Todd Kuhlinayn brought Kinkers, Stumpy (the three-legged but quite able dragon), his Jungle Carpet Python and Mel, the albino corn snake, but arrrived too late for the "how many herps in the greenhouse" contest, where he could have vied directly with eagle-eyed Bill.

quote: “Hey Joyce, want to frisk me?”

Stumpy has back markings similar to those on my “German Giant”: tear-drop shaped light spots in a row down the back. Kinkers was highly sociable, and occupied many different shoulders with equanimity. Mel is gorgeous rust-red and beige-white, with a strikingly beautiful little head; I covetted him, as did many others. The Carpet Python is magnificent, particularly when he suspends his body in space, from a tiny twig grasped seemingly in only the back 1/3 of his body. Amazing.

quote: (hearsay from Bill) "He can't run very fast and always stops after a few feet"

Todd was (not surprisingly) able to insouciantly pick up my wild-caught and mistrustful male Chuckwalla. Todd not only enjoyed my herp library, he was able to comment knowledgeably and critically on the contents, AND on the authors, many of whom he knew. Todd also showed me how to improve my cricket-keeping setup (just ask him).

Todd discussed and compared being bitten by a variety of species.

quote concerning the hot-dog he put on the grill for a late lunch, which an hour later had turned the same background color as the carpet python: “Do you think this is done enough?”

Oh: Todd let his hair down at the party...

Joyce Izor, husband Tom, and Little Guy and Miss Diggaire

Little Guy is a small BD who suffered from MBD in his youth; he still has limited mobility in his hindlimbs, but nonetheless can get around quite well. On confronting the dozen BDs in the living room, he both waved and bobbed at the same time, unsure whether to fight or switch... He has distinctive light markings against a very dark background color.

Miss Diggaire enjoyed inciting the males, and wanted to climb right in with them!! She is small, but pert and very alert.

Tom is a professional photographer: he will have many other GREAT photos, which will eventually be posted here. quote: “Smile!”

Joyce does NOT like snakes: When she arrived, we all walked out to the road to greet her. Unbeknownst to us, Erik was walking up to greet Joyce wearing Todd’s snake Mel, the albino corn, as a living belt.... common Joyce quote: “Where is the snake NOW?!?!?”

Some of my resident BDs who have appeared in posts on the Pogona list:
The Babe, Fluffy, Fratchet, Princess (the little lost...), Rambo, Pudge, Bodacea, Thurber, the dwarves, and many more...

TOP for links to Bearded Dragon sites and picnic photos