When I got home to a very relieved dog (thanks, Robbin) I checked quickly that the house was ok (laptop & TV still there?) and then went to close the back door. It was in the laundry room that I noticed some stuff had been knocked over. And the feathers.
Now I saw that black feathers were scattered around the door, near the Swheat kitty litter. I went to straighten up the brooms and the clothes rack, and there were clumps of feathers there.

Crime scene 1

There were more feathers by the litter box, and then in the dining room, a horrific amount of evidence

Crime scene 2

I did a quick peek into the office and the bedroom, but thankfully did not spot a body.  Further investigation had to wait, since the Pupper needed a walk.  Mr. Kitty, who is usually screaming for dinner, was suspiciously quiet.
Getting back home, fed the animals, then toured the house.  No body, and the evidence seemed confined to the laundry room, a few pieces of fluffy down in the kitchen and the dog’s bed in the dining room.  Upon closer inspection, the bed was probably where the murder (and subsequent consumption of evidence) was committed.

close-up - blood!

Probable scenario:  Victim fluttered through the door, attracted by the wheat litter; was pounced on, tried to escape by hiding behind the brooms and laundry rack, shedding feathers (wounded); was caught and dragged to the dining room where it was polished off in relative comfort.
But who was the perpetrator?  Not Pupper, who has never shown much interest in birds.  Mr. Kitty has caught birds, and although had some skills as a hunter in his halycon days, has never proved very good at the dispatching part.  There’s a strong possibility that a neighbor, known only as Grey Tabby may have been the murderer/diner.  He is young and bold (has come up on the porch and stairs) although wary of Pupper.
Nobody’s talking

I know nuzzin' I was asleep the whole time.

Ya got nothing, copper. No wits, no evidence. Ya can't pin anything on me.

Another one for the cold case file.

In earlier years, going on a hike with Pup meant grabbing the fanny pack, a water bottle and the car keys. Now that Pup is Old Pup, it involves a lot more. How long of a walk? Is it very steep? How hot will it be?

Although human oldsters tend to like the heat, Old Pup prefers temps in the 40s and 50s. When the temperature rose 10-degrees during the week, we decided to start as early as possible. We were going to Little Yosemite, in Sunol, to see if there was any water or wildflowers.

Got up at 6:30 (with encouragement from Mr. Kitty), and managed to be on the road before 8 a.m. Heavy overcast, but by the time we got to 680, the sky was clear and blue and the temperature was creeping up past 60. A little anxiously, we hit the wide gravelly trail.

When I started commuting in California over 20 years ago, poppies and lupine were a common roadside sight in the springtime. When I returned in 2000, I saw poppies, but only rarely lupine. It was heartening to see the purply-blue sheets of blooms along the Sunol path.

We got to the falls with little trouble; they were closer than we thought; about a mile from the parking lot. The water was already drying up; the falls were babbling rather than roaring. We made our way down to the water via a gentle incline. ‘Gentle’ was an operative word. Old Pup had lost her footing earlier while scrambling up a ravine, and both DH and I had to give her a boost so she could get back onto the trail. It was a little cooler down by the water, and I lured Old Pup into the stream so that I could cool her belly. When she saw the water, her ears pricked up, and she got her ‘Where’s the ball’ stance. Although we didn’t want to wear her out, I couldn’t resist her anticipation.

We took the low road back, to stay as close to the water as possible. We had to bushwack in a couple of places, where the path seemed to disappear into the stream, but it was a peaceful, pretty route. We dunked Old Pup in the water several more times, and she was appreciative. We tossed the ball a few more times, once to distract her from a big rottweiler splashing with an impressive stick. She was moderately well-behaved around the other dogs; ignoring them if possible, and barking (rather than snapping) when they came to give a curious sniff

DH wanted to check out the town of Niles, and we found a shady place to park. The plan was to leave the tired Old Pup (after the hike she needed to be lifted into the car) and come get her when we found a coffeeshop. But as we walked away, a plaintive howl-whine came from the car. DH and I looked at each other. Old Pup didn’t like being left behind, but it usually was better than going to a scary new place. The howl-whine came again. Bleeding-heart that I am, I said, “Let’s take her with us.” We anticipated the heisitancy, the lagging behind, but Old Pup leaped happily out of the car, and speed-walked down the sidewalk. She even let the owner of the doggy boutique coo over her, and performed her repetoire of tricks for some organic treats. She explored Niles at least as enthusiastically as we did. This doesn’t sound like much, but Old Pup has slowed down dramatically in the last couple of years. She still loves to go places, but not for very long and not if it involves a lot of people. For Old Pup to go from a hike (with swimming and ball play) to a hearty jaunt around a strange city and not lag behind or falter or come to a complete stop was awfully impressive. We marveled between ourselves, and praised her lavishly as she snored on the way home.

Naturally, I’ve always had a hometown library card. When my move to the Mainland drifted into being permanent, the card still reflected the address of my childhood. I always expected to have to update it, but it never expired.
Until yesterday.
Okay, no biggie. I would verbally confirm my address, and continue picking out books for beach reading. No, to update the card, I would have to show proof. Of local address.
Not tragically, however (public libraries don’t do tragic. They may be treated tragically, but they do no inflict tragedy on others.) My card was changed to Visitor’s Status, which meant it was good for 3 months, and I paid $10. Yes, all well and good, and the Hawaii State Library system can definitely use the money, but it’s another sign that I am an ex-pat, not of the Islands anymore.

I corralled two dogs a couple of days ago. I took Old Pup out to the front for a wee, and saw two Labs, yellow and chocolate, galloping across the yards on the other side of the street. Old Pup took notice of these interlopers, and I called her inside before she could attract their attention. The yellow boy was easy to catch; he was a people loving’ guy, so I just called him into the backyard and closed the gate. The chocolate girl was a little more wary. She would sniff your hand, but dart away if you lifted it to pet her, and was totally uninterested in the duck strip I offered. An across-street-neighbor cooed to her and kept her attention while I ran to get a leash. I gave Chocolate Girl some water, and managed to grab her collar. She was startled, but gentle, and I led her to the gagte where Yellow Boy had stuck his head and front paws through the cat door, trying to get in on the action.

They both started exploring the yard, Chocolate Girl a little agitated. Thinking to distract her, I found an old tennis ball and she was OMG! I was now her BFF! So I threw the ball for her, and she tore after it, ignoring Yellow Boy as he tried to play with her.

I called the animal shelter, and the owners came by about half an hour later. As I watched Old Pup sniff around the yard, peeing to claim it back as her own, I thought about Chocolate Girl’s intense focus on the ball and her coiled energy as she tore up the mulch chasing after it. That was Old Pup before we knew her, when she was Young Pup, blond and buoyant and ball-obsessed. Did she live with a handsome big brown dog, imprinting her for tolerance of that body type? So much lost in the mists of time.

frenchbulldog_360x400You can’t own a dog for ten minutes without learning that chocolate is bad for it. I know it, I swear I do. But Old Pup is out to prove me wrong.

A few weeks ago, I took the Valentine See’s truffles to work, to keep them from the other chocolate hound in the household, DH. Amazingly, I didn’t have any myself, and forgot they were in my bag. The next day, in between household errands, I told DH, “We better stop by the house. I left the See’s candy in my work bag.”

I was a little worried, but while Old Pup can beeline for treats in my fanny pack stored in a bin, she can also be oblivious to goodies in jacket pockets. She could still be asleep…

Opening the front door, I found that my bag had indeed been raided, but all was well. Old Pup had been decoyed by the half-full bag of Hershey Hugs (the white chocolate Kisses), which now lay shredded and empty, with a few stray bits of foil. The golden truffle box was untouched.

Another early morning awakening by Mr. Kitty. Mrar. mrar What time is it?


Stagger out of bed to see that yes, he has food, yes he has a litterbox. What do you want, dammit? Back to the warm sheets. Mrar. Mrar Stomp, stomp, stomp. How can little padded paws make so much noise? Mrar. Mrar

Now Old Pup has woken up, and is starting to whine/growl. Hates the cat during the best of times. Okay, ignore Mr. Kitty. Don’t give in, don’t give in. Mrar. Mrar

“I’m going to let him outside,” mumbles DH.

“No, don’t,” I mumble back, knowing the cat will be eaten by ravaging raccoons. An idea occurs and I stumble back to the laundry room, grabbing the bag and pouring more expensive, compostable litter into the box.

At last! Mr. Kitty rushes the box.

With his new food, our cat has gone from never using his box to using it 3x a day or more. We’ll be able to mulch the whole yard by the end of the year with his leavings.

One of my favorite authors died on New Year’s Eve.

I first read Donald Westlake close to 30 years ago. I don’t remember what book it was (The Hot Rock? Bank Shot?), but it hooked me on the guy for life.
Westlake will be remembered for the Dortmunder novels, but he was so much more than that. I don’t own many books (support your local library!) but I probably own more of his titles than of any other author. Dortmunder is his most famous creations (other than Parker, who was way too grim for my tastes), but my favorites were the non-Dortmunder, non-crime ones. Adios, Scherherezade; The Hook, A Likely Story were an uncommon look at the writing world. Many (but not all) were comic (Dancing Aztecs made me laugh out loud continuously), and sentimental (Thank god, Westlake was not averse to a happy ending) but all were sharp, clever, and utterly delightful. (there’s a wonderful exchange of Biblical verses in Brothers Keepers) He was a craftsman in the William Morris sense of the word (Romantic, not literary agent). I’m sorry I’m not a good enough writer to do justice to the man.   Others do a better job.