I’d Love To Find The Owner Of This Skin!

A few days ago when I was out at my clothesline I glanced over at the garden and saw a really long snake skin. My first thought was that it once belonged to a rat snake.

I brought the skin in the house and got my book and started counting scales and such. It’s not the easiest thing to do, identify a snake when the owner of the skin isn’t there any more. It would help if I could see colors, however, a bit of pattern is visible, even on the scales. This one is solid with no markings at all. By the way, did you know snakes have scales over their eyes? They need those scales because they don’t have eyelids. This skin was totally intact, ocular scales and all.

Keeled scales have a little ridge on the middle of them. The scales on this critter are smooth and not keeled. He has 17 rows of dorsal scales in the middle of the body, with 15 just in front of the vent. (The vent is a scale that looks different on his underside. It’s where the digestive system ends. And, I have no idea whether this is a boy or a girl snake. I’m just going with the all-inclusive “he”.) He has a divided anal plate, with the scales going from the plate to the end of the tail being divided. If all the scales from the anal plate to the tip of the tail are divided, it’s a non-poisonous snake.

This rascal was 44 1/2 inches long when he left this skin behind in my garden. What a gift for me to find! Oh, my very best guess, according to all my counting of scales and such, and I think I’m right, is that he is a tan racer. We do have them here and they will even crossbreed with the buttermilk racer.  I actually skinned one that crossed. The poor thing was dead in my street, with just a tiny indention on his small noggin. Other than the dent in his head and being dead, the skin was in perfect condition.

I happen to like snakes and I like them to be alive and living in the wild. They certainly serve a good purpose, eating things like rats which carry diseases.

I took a few photos. The skin showed up better in the grass so I laid it out there for a photo.

Then I set it up by my tea cups. It’s still there. I don’t know how long I’ll leave it as part of my decor. Folks just never know what they will see when they walk into my house. Don’t you think it looks nice there? I like the contrast between cultured and wild, myself.

I Like How Survivor Ended!

I think this was one of the most interesting seasons of Survivor ever. The personalities were fun to watch, from Colton who was a lightening rod with his selfish, manipulative and seemingly racist (says he’s not?) comments, to Kat, who was crushed when she was voted out by people she trusted and the way she handled it. Did you see that? She, at the young age of 22, told the folks on the jury that life is too short to stay angry, that we need to forgive and get on with life.

Initially, I thought Colton would be back on a new season as his mean ol’ self. After seeing his mother’s reaction to his behavior at the Reunion, I’m not so sure. If he comes back he may try to tone himself down a little. He had absolutely no consideration for anyone’s feelings but his own. I was torn between being fascinated by such callous behavior and wanting him to be gone, or shut up, because he was hurting people.

I’m glad the women got it together enough to get it down to three women at the end, although I’m not as sure as I was when Tarzan was still there that he would have been able to get enough votes to win if they kept him til the end.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a group of people on Survivor, who for the most part, had affection for each other despite their idiosyncrasies. It’s got to be hard to be in difficult circumstances with people who you don’t know, you are competing against, but yet, you need them and they need you. For them to see past things like Tarzan’s crotchety self, to his good side just rarely seems to happen on this show. It also doesn’t happen often that so many of the contestants realize that it’s a game and they are supposed to play it like poker. Finally, someone used that analogy that this is like a poker game. I’ve been thinking that for years and wondering why they get so mad when they are outplayed? That’s what is supposed to happen.

It was refreshing to see contestants have good things to say to and about each other at the end. I especially like how Tarzan (Greg Smith) and his wife Terri’s relationship was inspiring to Chelsea. She said she didn’t know love like theirs could exist, and I’m sure other folks felt the same way.

I also liked how it came down to the last three women who had an alliance from the beginning. I like that Kim stayed true to Sabrina and Chelsea, even though she felt like she was risking losing the game, and with that the money.

The next game will be in the Philippines. The only thing is, we have to wait until September!

Tarzan Could Win This Thing

I’ve been watching the women on Survivor play a really good game by using their brains. It’s been pretty refreshing and I’ve had my favorites among them. I’d like to see Sabrina, Kim and Chelsea in the final three.

The only time I had another favorite player was when they were ganged up on Troyzan. He was such a fighter that I began to pull for him, but they took him out, so I’m back to my original three favorites.

I think though that these smart women are over looking something. It looks like they are all distrusting each other so much that they have missed this one man who they have left alone. Tarzan is just coasting along, quietly staying in the game while they look at each other and squabble about which woman ought to be voted out next. If they don’t get rid of him pretty quick, you know what’s going to happen. He will be the one man who all the men that they voted out will vote for. The women who are shocked and angry (wow, Kat certainly was rattled last week!) will likely also vote for him.

Details, Ladies. It’s all about the details. Let’s hope they wake up and get that done tonight.

Celiac Awareness Month

May is Celiac Awareness Month. Some of us are aware of Celiac every single day whether we have Celiac Disease, or are sensitive to gluten, which in either case a person is intolerant. Symptoms and the remedy are pretty much the same for both as symptoms are widely variable, and the remedy is to avoid all gluten always.

I’ve noticed when talking to folks who have been told they “might have a problem” with gluten, that there are things some people don’t know about testing for Celiac, so I thought it might be helpful if I pass on what I’ve learned from reading “The Gluten Connection,” by Dr. Shari Lieberman, and also from reading several web sites. (I have links to other sites in other articles in the “Learning to Live Gluten-Free” category on this blog.)

One study has shown that in Celiac Disease, the body sees gluten as an invader and it attacks the gluten. In gluten sensitivity, the body sees gluten as an invader and puts up a defense. This is partly why things get complicated when testing for gluten intolerance.

When the blood is tested for Celiac, they are looking for antibodies – antigliadin (IgA), transglutaminase (ATTA) and anti-endomysial antibody (EMA). If the first two are present, it shows that there is a problem with gluten, but only if all of the villi in the small intestine are completely flattened will all three be present. According to Dr. Lieberman, “more than 30 gliadin peptides (molecules) are not evaluated by this test.” Everyone pretty much seems to agree that blood tests can be inconclusive. Advanced Celiac will be evident in a biopsy of the small intestine, but it can be missed if it’s not advanced to the point of completely flattened villi. Also, gluten sensitivity will not flatten the villi. I’ve read that Canada approved a pin-prick blood test for home use, but I don’t think it’s available in the US yet. Not sure about other countries. The stool test seems to be controversial, just going by what I’ve read on web sites, with some people saying it’s not reliable and others saying it was a life-saver for them.

Since blood tests are sometimes inconclusive a person will say “they said I don’t have Celiac, but I have problems when I eat gluten.” The other reason that testing is complicated is that a person can be sensitive to gluten and not have Celiac. Again, the remedy is to avoid all gluten in either case. If I had a test done and it showed negative or inconclusive results, but I noticed that I feel better off gluten, then I think I’d just blow off the test and avoid gluten. Do you think it makes sense to continue eating something that is causing symptoms ranging from pain to depression to thyroid problems to intestinal upsets of various kinds and on and on, just because the test said something different from what a person’s body says? I think I’d listen to my body over a test result. They are still learning about gluten intolerance. One thing they do know is that gluten in any amount can affect the body for months, so if a person is sensitive it may take time to feel better when coming off of it.

Something else I’ve noticed while reading different sites is that sometimes the term “allergy” is used when this is not the same thing. An allergy, such as wheat allergy, causes a release of histamines. Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity are not allergies. They are both a type of food intolerance.

Here is another site that I just found today: http://www.celiaccentral.org/ This is a site run by The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and it looks like one of the best ones I’ve run across. There is information on all aspects of gluten-related items from diagnosis to shopping to research and more. They even have cooking videos.

There is a lot of information on various web sites, as well as in books and magazine articles. I’ve noticed some of it is conflicting. One reason is that gluten sensitivity hasn’t been recognized for as long as Celiac Disease has been. We need to be sure to keep it straight about allergy and food intolerance when we are reading about gluten. Also, we must listen to our bodies. Serious damage can be done if we don’t.