Smell the Coffee: Grandmother of dragons

Essential reporting in volatile times.

Not a Subscriber yet? Click here to take advantage of All access digital limited time offer $5.99 per month EZ Pay.

Interested in Donating? Click #ISupportLocal for more information on supporting local journalism.

20200301-gm-coffee-Celeste and Indigo.jpg

Celeste with Indigo — bringing out the best in each other.

It wasn’t so long ago I was telling a co-worker I believed my days of having strange pets were behind me.

My co-worker has three little boys — so many years of hermit crabs and salamanders and frogs are ahead for her. My girl is now 22. The only pitter-patter of little feet I’d be expecting of her seemed more likely to be human.

Not so with my girl.

Who, I suppose, is so much like her mom.

Most every creature carries some level of pet potential with me and Celeste. So long as it doesn’t require being fed live insects or animals, we aren’t hugely discerning.

In the past, many creatures have come to us in some sort of distress, having been orphaned, injured or abused. Every now and then, though, we’ll go out in deliberate search of a new family addition.

Celeste has had a thing for reptiles all her life. She was already living on her own when she got an iguana, which ended up escaping from her apartment in Morgantown. Although that iguana was a handsome creature, he wasn’t friendly, so I didn’t much grieve his departure, but she had been charmed by his grumpiness, so she did.

Missing him had her talking about getting another lizard of some sort for a while, but since she no longer had all the equipment one requires (which rivals a human newborn), the cost of a new set up deterred her. For Christmas, Don hooked her up with a tank, a stand and nearly everything a lucky little lizard might need. It was the first time I’ve seen Celeste so excited by a gift that she squeaked.

For weeks, she spent every spare minute researching to find the ideal lizard for her — something that wouldn’t grow too large, wouldn’t require live crickets or worms, was known to be friendly. She eventually settled on the blue-tongued skink.

But finding this skink wasn’t easy. Even in a place as big as Atlanta, there aren’t neighborhood skink stores like one might expect, so she got on a list to be contacted when one was available.

Not since Daenerys Targaryen has a lizard birth been so celebrated.

Celeste brought her newly adopted little one home when it was just a few weeks old. I’d say it has a face only a mother could love, but it’s grown on grandma, too, what with her darling darting blue tongue and those intelligent, albeit beady, bright eyes. In no time, I was online researching knitting instructions for lizard booties.

In the looks department, it’s a bit like what you might expect to sprout from a romantic encounter between a dachshund, salamander and snake, with two teeny legs in the front and two more waaaay in the back. Like it was designed by the same person who made the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

And as I’m typing these words, it’s draped across the back of my neck, snuggled under my hair. The weight of it is rather nice. It’s still just a baby, not quite 6 weeks old.

Celeste is working a double, so I’m lizard-sitting. Watching her little one, as any good grandma would do.

Meaning I’ll spoil her rotten, and then send her home.

Karin Fuller can be reached at