Friday, April 27, 2007

Fluffy and Tuffy

Fluffy and Tuffy live around the corner in a big old house with a big yard behind a long white picket fence. Tuffy is a mellow guy. Almost never barks. Fluffy likes to bark at dogs who pass by her fence. You never can tell from a name, no?
They've been exhausted lately supervising the workers improving their house's foundation. It's quite a job their person said yesterday since the house was built and lived in by the chief stonemason for the first buildings at Stanford University. Lots of solid limestone blocks. Not like the thin facing stone many people put on concrete and rebar things today.
Their person also has the best solution for the western tussock moth invasion. They have a big old oak tree that was full of them. The person took a garden hose to their second floor and just hosed them off. Smart lady, no?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Walls and Reality

Alice has been thinking about caterpillars and walls. A neighbor has been out on caterpillar patrol. Finds and squashes at least 100 each day. There is just nothing that eats those western tussock moths and the people have planted too many good things for them to eat like fruit trees and roses. Winter was unusually dry here letting more of them make it to Spring. What to do?
Alice has committed to save her apricot trees and four rose bushes. Two roses are lost, one is limping along. She said those three weren't doing well anyway. They never got enough sun once the sycamore leafed out. Darwinism. Inevitablity. Alice will dig out those roses, go to the local nursey and ask what flowers are not tasty to caterpillars. (That or have the closest main host plants of the caterpillars - a 300+ year old oak and that 60+ year old sycamore removed.)

Here is another "caterpillar" war zone of sorts. A view from the west of Mexicali and Calexico, the two towns on the California/Mexico border in the distance. Yep. Cal[ifornia M]exico and vice versa. That was deliberate by the cities' founders. They knew they would be forever connected. One can see several highways: paved ones, arroyos and dirt roads for the pedestrians, and the rivers for the boaters.
Neither town was there in 1899. In 1900, some American businessmen "bought" permission from Porfirio Diaz, the then ruler of Mexico, to take water from the Colorado River at the international border and divert it north to create new farmland in the USA (a.k.a. "progress", money and Congressional votes). A couple of years later, another American, the owner of the Los Angeles Times, had canals built to create a smallar amount of farmland south of the border, but most of the water still went to the northern side.
In 1905, one of the cheaply made canals burst near today's Alamo Check of the US Border Patrol. All the water of the Colorado River flowed north for two years along an old riverbed. The New River, Alamo River, and the Salton Sea itself were created. That had happened before when the Colorado River every few hundred years would change its river bed.
No longer does any surface water get to the Colorado River delta on the Gulf of California to the south. There used to be farmers and fishing families down there. No longer today.
There is a big legal fight now between Americans who want to line the canals running through sand dunes to prevent water seeapge into the underground aquifers, seepage which is what most Mexican farmers and residents of the city of Mexicali depend on for their water supply. But the fight may be over given a new law passed by the US Congress mooting the lawsuit unless the Mexican authorities take a long and hard look at those old Porfirio Diaz deals and meditate on the very existance of the Salton Sea itself.
Meanwhile, life goes on there. The Salton Sea is drying up and getting ever more polluted and smelly. Americans are building more geothermal electrical plants all over on both sides of the New River. The US Navy sends fighter jets back and forth across the valley at low altitudes for bombing practice runs out of El Centro Naval Air Station. Zoom. Zoooooooooom.
At night, people start walking across the border if they can't go the easy way on a paved road. Some jump aboard trains heading north. Others inflate rafts, put them into the All American Canal and the New River. The rafts tend to bunch up on the north side of the canals or under small bridges. The New River Yacht Club. If not for those US businessmen who created the New River.... there would be no such Yacht Club. Nor the one-way rafting trips on the All-American Canal. Just the geothermal plants and the zooming fighter jets. Creosote bushes and sand dunes. The 110 degree Fahrenheit Summer temps or the below freezing temps in Winter. Natural selection. Economic efficiency.
Just like those caterpillars. A mob of them thanks to all those roses, watered lawns, and fruit trees instead of the natural grasslands and oak trees. Chapparel: bone dry in a normal Summer. Gizzly bears and deer. Racoons. And acorn gathering Indians instead of Silicon Valley.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Town is in Lockdown!!!

First yellow rose to open by the front door!
So! Those caterpillars are truly a nuisance. A new one, the Australian apple moth, has put my town under quarantine!! No apricots can leave the area nor roses. Well! So much for the bumper crop of apricots being made into chutney. (But maybe... if cooked.... that would be OK?)
The western tussock moth caterpillars have started cocooning all over the street. Neighbors have been out there in Avian-flu latex gloves trying to pick them off - gloved since the little buggers can irritate human skin. Our street has had a few rose bushes completely defoliated by the bugs. One neighbor has resorted to vacumning them off his house there are that many here! Alice has kept them from taking over some of her rose bushes and every time we go out for a walk she squashes a few more from the apricot tree and inspects as much of it as she can for more. I just sit down and wait for her. Take your time, I say!I know the walk will happen. Then we can forget about caterpillars (but for the ones still swinging under the big trees...). Nice things to see. Some pomegrante bushes have put out flowers and Alice admired this best-ever flower border near our house.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Maddy & a Pink Lady

Sundays in Palo Alto... lots of people are out in their yards filling the garbage cans for pickup tomorrow morning. Blue for recycleables. Green for yard debris. Black for garbage.
The caterpillars love to collect on the top and sides of the black cans. A killing zone... Alice is determined not to let the caterpillars spread en masse to our apricot tree. It's loaded for the first time ever with fruit that has stayed on the tree passed the teeny-tiny stage. I guess the dry winter which was good for caterpillars is also good for apricots. On a happier note, ran into Maddy, the Big Friendly Lab over near Heritage Park. We had on matching green leashes and such. She has such a big and fluffy tail. And gentle eyes. She gave Alice some licks until I wrinkled up my muzzle. Then Alice saw a Pink Lady stretching out at the church where Pika's people were married. The lady had a pink suitcase, too. Now, that's style for a slow Sunday.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Mariachis were playing outside over at Lucy Stern Center today. Alice and I sat down to listen for a while. They had black outfits, red ties, lots of silver doo-dads and beautiful instruments. A few little kids were dancing to their music while a big wedding party looked on.
Alice has been singing odd songs and practicing dialogue on our long walks lately. Things like, "I've eaten them until I'm quite uncomfortable!" And, "Oppoponax, Eloia!" She took a photo on Wednesday night for me of some other musicians who are accompanying her and a couple dozen others. I see they are not fancy dressed like the mariachis but for the conductor. Hmmmmm. A conductor in blue jeans? Alice says it was just a dress rehersal.
All I can say it this "Oppoponax" business better end soon. I don't like it when Alice leaves for hours and hours every night. Cuts down on the evening walks opportunities.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Oh praise the Gods! Fresh cooked chicken today!!!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My Furry Dad and Mom

Before Grandma Ellie took me to my forever family, I lived with my furry Mom and sisters. My Mom, Libby, now has a full time job taking care of a nice lady with the help of one of my step-sisters, Jade. My Mom is a great caregiver. She can anticipate whatever the lady needs and help her to get it. My dad, Lucky, is a great caregiver, too. His forever person says he never left her side but for potty breaks as she recovered from a double knee replacement. He's pretty deaf now and over 15 years old, but still has his hound-dog bark. Alice knows now where I got my people skills. And my big-dog bark. My furry Mom and Dad.
Alice hung up a print of this old picture of a dog and puppies who look a lot like my furry family. I bet that big dog is thinking how nice it is to have a big family.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Been thinking...

I've been thinking about walks. Liver dinners. Roast chicken. Greenies. Sun soaks.... Got a looong sun soak today.

Alice has been thinking about those Crimes to Victorians in the East Bay... and caterpillers.
Yes. Caterpillars. For the last two weeks or so there has been explosion of them around the neighborhood. Not just the tiny local greeny-yellow ones swinging by their silken threads under the big oak trees. Those are there, but are now joined by masses of big furry ones with white and red tufts of fur. Neighbor Doug was picking them off one of his street trees this afternoon with a twist of coat hanger. Flicking them to the ground and then stomping on them. He said they have no local enemies who eat them. The City told him last year there they would be dormant for another 7 years. Nope. At this rate unless we get a big frost for their next cycle, a virus or some bugs which can slow them down, or lots of people do the flick and stomp manoeover, they will eat up all the leaves on Alice's apricot tree and rose bushes.
Stanford recommends power washing them off the trees.
Funny to see human pedestrians batting them away as if they are monster mosquitos as they hang from the trees on their silk threads. Alice tries to dodge the swingers on walks, but has been gasping at least once a day an hour or more after a walk when she finds one on her clothes or desk. Aaack!, she says.
Today after the big walk I came home and saw one of the big furry ones on the porch's wooden wall. I got within an inch of it and stared. Wouldn't move until Alice flicked it into the front scrubbery. (Yes, she squashed it. Black ooze. A Martian, she said. We are carnivores in this life. Not insectivores.)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Crimes Against Victorians

Alice has stayed up very late tonight laughing her insides out by reading a blog mentioned in the SF Chronicle, Saturday edition. A couple across the Bay have a blog for what their call their Casa Decrepit. They say it's great to think blog-it! when anything bad happens. Cathartic. I thought that way about my paw toe bone fracture last Summer and Fall. Well! Enjoy for yourselves the Casa Decrepit post that has Alice up so late.
Maybe I should start pointing out "Disaster for Dogs" around my neighborhood... but there are not really many of those here.... Must meditate or dream on this.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Six Pointer (No not a hound with six ears...)

Last night, Alice and I heard at the beginning of the 11PM television news a "breaking news" item about a big earthquake in Mexico. The talking head said "....Mexico City.... power outages....six points on the Richter scale...." A few minutes later the news said epicenter was near Acapulco, a 6.1, and Alice knew it was bad, but not ohmigod bad.

Alice remembered instantly the 8.0 1985 earthquake in Mexico. Thousands died in Mexico City. Pika's people had family there who felt it but were all lucky to be in safe places during the quake. Randy, the family dog, was also safe. None were in buildings on the old lakebeds subject to dire liquifaction but in areas with solid basalt under them or in seismically safe buildings. A really wierd thing - many 8 and 18 story buildings had very bad damage. Scientists think that was due to the harmonics of that particular quake. Randy knew about the quake before the people felt it. If only people could talk to us!

Pika's people felt the one last night. One said the whole house creaked and shook. Alice had a look at the Shake Map from the USGS. The quake has a name at the USCG: 2007bcan. Mexican authorities call it a 6.3 and Atoyac de Alvarez, Guerrero.

People felt it as far away as Guadalahara. So far 357 people in Mexico City have reported to USGS what they felt. Anyone who feels an earthquake can tell the USGS how strongly they felt it. It's very important for scientists to have such info since not all the maps and sensors can tell what people connected to the Internet can. For example, lots of people think the 1906 San Francisco quake was worst in San Francisco. Not really. Santa Rosa was hit the hardest in that one thanks to where the San Andreas fault really is. But San Francisco got most of the disaster response help. Not Santa Rosa. Often new faults are detected only by people reporting unusual shaking.

Alice once felt a strong earthquake. The 7.1 Hector Mines quake in 1999. She was in a modern highrise hotel in Ontario, California. Shaken awake right after 2:30 AM. Very clearly felt the P and S waves arrive. Knew from the long lag between the wave types the epicenter was not very close by. Got out of bed to listen to how well the building was handling the quake. Thought if it got worse she'd have to take shelter in the tub or consider leaving the building, but then the rattling mirrored closet doors suggested she go back to the center of her room and think about the spot between the beds. But then the shaking stopped. She knew instantly from the first few jolts of the P, or compression, waves the direction from which the quake came and that there would be aftershocks because it was so strong. Clicked on the TV for CNN. Breaking News. A map with an epicenter was exactly along the line where Alice predicted. Amtrack's Southwest Chief train was derailed close to the epicenter. That was one of the few times her college degree in geophysics paid off. Clicked off the TV after five minutes and just let the aftershocks rock her back to sleep.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Good Pabu, Evil Pabu

Alice had a disturbing dream last night. There were two honey colored dogs. Both looked a bit like me but with longer legs. One was good. The other rotten to the core. She couldn't tell the difference until the good one showed an ability to disappear and the evil one's nose on touching it felt thin and pointy. Not roundish like mine. Then the bad one started acting very violent. Biting and kicking. The good one disappeared leaving only a silver coin with a queen on it named Willifrieda letting Alice know it was off on a mission to do good. To save the queen from the evil dog. But, leaving Alice with the bad dog. She was glad to wake up. Very glad.
Alice wakes me up if I have nightmares. I'll bark and run in bad dreams. It takes me a few moments to realize I'm safe when she wakes me up.
What do all these dreams mean? I think it's just the way the brain sorts out and files new information. Sometimes visions come from nowhere. Mozart was said to dream entire new compositions unlike anything he'd ever heard before. Chemists dream of new formulas.
For example, Alice got a letter the other day from a school she attended telling her the alum magazine announcement of a classmate' death, Winnabel, was not true. (Where else could Alice see in a dream the writing of a name like Willifrieda?) And she's been thinking about good and bad people lately like those in Burma. Civil War participants in the Shenandoah. The news from Dafur this week with videos of men on horses galloping around burning villages and scaring the wits out of people. Reporters calling them "Horsemen of the Apocalypse".
You never know who is good or bad until you have chance at a good sniff test. I know that from meeting new dogs on my walks. You never know if they will bark and growl until after the first sniff. Big dogs. Small dogs. No consistent behaviors. Some are gentle and friendly. And some are not. Sniff.... or at least rub noses Eskimo or Maoiri style.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Lucky Cat

Here is MinnieMe, a cat who lives with Paula and Ezio of the Cafe Santa Fe in Todo Santos, Baja California Sur. Surely, this must be one of the luckiest cats in the world. Can be very picky about what she eats. Likes sushi. I bet she got some cream from the ingredients of this tiramisu or flan. Sometimes forgets her manners and has to be shooed off a dining table. Then she curls up like this on a chair to telegraph to Paula what Paula should give her for a snack. Alice first met MinnieMe when she was a tiny fluffy kitten. So small! Still small for a cat. But she has style. And lots of luck.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Guatemalan Greyhounds

Met two Guatemalan Greyhounds today. Both are still puppies. Still learning how to interact with other dogs. But, very gentle, polite and smart. Their people said they are like Ferraris off leash. Fast runners. As Katie was. "Hasta luego!", we said to each other as we continued our walks.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Thoughts on Walks

Long lunch walk today. Sniffed and marked the low hanging wisteria. Met up with the small maltese, Pal, on Guinda Street. He is as shy as I am! Love to play chase and sniff with him. We walked along for several blocks together.
Alice's sister told her a long time ago the point of walks is not just exercise. It's to sniff and see. Check the past. See the now. Not worry about the future.
Late last year right after Christmas, a big oak tree fell down a few blocks from home. It was very windy that day. There was a power outage at Sta Rita right after Pika's and my food had been microwaved. So many trees crashing down on the power lines. Lucky for us, the big oak missed the high power lines and just took out the cable and phone lines, pulled askew two telephone poles, and smashed one vehicle. No one hurt. The tree was already in its final suffering. A fungus had chewed out almost all of its insides. The evening it fell, Alice took me to see the telephone and power workers. At least a half dozen neighbors were also there watching including our pilot friend and neighbor, Art. All thinking about the oak. The end of the year. The cold. The new empty space.
A few weeks later, Alice took this picture of me with the stump. It makes her think of a newspaper article her sister blogged about today. Joshua Bell playing a real Stadivarius violin in the Washington DC Metro L'Enfant Plaza station around 8AM. How all the little children wanted to stop and listen but all were dragged away by adults. Alice has been at that station around that time of day several times. Most people are frantically trying to get to work on time. Thoughts not on or able to be what is in front of their ears and noses. Human adult time.
Kid and dog time. We just look at life differently.
I'm glad Alice and Pal's lady didn't drag us away today, instead letting us pick where to walk and sniff for at least three blocks. They enjoyed seeing us becoming bolder. Getting past our normal shyness around other dogs.
And, sometimes, I like to stop and give a special sniff to the old oak tree stump and remember how deep its shade was. Thinking about all the other dogs who have sniffed it. And loved it. And sometimes I just blast right by it.

Friday, April 06, 2007

New Houses

Construction at Cody's old place is moving along. We can see now what will be on the zigzaggy edge of the concrete floor. Lots of complicated woodwork has been done all around the house. But best of all, my favorite clump of plants in a parking strip there is left untouched for us dogs.

Another project nearby got its walls up in the past few days. We saw the guys tilt up one wall. But there is not much there interesting to me. A dead zone for us dogs.

Wisteria has opened all over. Here is one of Alice's favorites across the street from Stella's house.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Apricots and Jane's Advice

Alice and I invited Pelle and Pasty with their Jane for lunch. Have to say.... from the canine perspective it was a bust - people-food handout-wise. Still.... We dogs all got lots of attention. I got a Greenie and lap sits. Pelle got to chat with all the neighbor dogs. Pasty got a tickle session. Then we all had a walk.

Alice told Jane our apricot tree usually drops the fruit before it is matured. Jane said that sounds like a vitamin deficiency. I could have told Alice that. If only she could understand everything I say.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Bubble Box

Alice took me to see the new bubble box hole at Sta. Rita. I didn't want to get near it. Bad vibes from that suspiciously straight-sided hole. No dog did that! Alice says it will be filled with rocks and such to collect rain water so the new lawn won't get flooded. Hmmmm. I would have liked a fresh water pond there for hot days. I'll have to make do with a water bowl inside.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Honeybee's person Brenda told Alice and me yesterday that little black puppy living with "Bark Jump, Jump Bark" is named Licorice. And its person is Natasha. Licorice has come to live with them forever.

We dogs love forever homes. Or at least forever people. Or forever families. I have a home with Alice and her family. Honeybee, the black lab, has a home with Brenda behind the white picket fence.