Tuesday, July 31, 2007

New Lawn

Last week, the very day Pika and her people left for points south, Santa Rita got its new back lawn. I watched the first watering. I miss the old dirt. It was warm and soft. But the people prefer a lawn so here it is.
Alice bought a soccer ball for it last week. A kid sized one from the Chivas team in Guadalahara. Stepsister has a croquet set ready to go with two of the balls painted like hedgehogs like the ones in the game Alice and the Red Queen played.
Yes, lots of people will enjoy the lawn. It is pretty OK, I think. I look towards Avy's side and all the past pets who lived here long ago walk by and settle in their favorite places. Nishi, the Siamese cat who waited for Alice when she came home from high school on her bike. Jennifer, the black lab, always behind the fence. Puppies Foo and Ti prance by on short visits. The mallard couples sizing up the old pool.... Hmmmm.....
I'll dream about them all up at Tahoe this week. And I bet I'll dream about a lot more creatures in the world. Maybe a bear or two?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Harry Potter Number 7

A week ago last Saturday evening, Alice went over to her local bookstore to pick up a copy of a big fat book. We drove by that bookstore the night before, but it was too crowded then Alice said. I snoozed as she read for a few hours that Saturday night and a few more hours the next day. I like it when she reads a big book *after* I've had a long walk and plenty to eat. Alice is very good at remembering those vital activities for me. "Feed the troops first!" she says.She lent her big, fat book to her Dad who finished it a few days ago. Here he is reading the final pages. The newspapers say that book sold more than 8.3 million copies in the USA during the first 24 hours it was on sale. Wow. That's a lot of books.
Not sure what all the fuss is about. Alice says there is only one dog character in the book, but that is really just a human in disguise. "Harry Potter". Or "Hairy Potter"?

Wherein I learn to cuddle with another dog

Had a nice long visit with Pele, Pasty and their Jane. I finally got comfortable enough to find myself one morning curled on on a dogbed with another dog! Rather surprised with myself. Have never done that before. But, it just felt right, especially after those long wild play session mornings with Pasty.
Well! Back to the quiet life of a lapdog! Yes.... mmmmm.... that's the spot.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Most of my human family played soccer yesterday evening at a party for Pika's people. I watched a bit, but it is nervewracking - lots of fast movement which I don't like. Sarah was taking care of a neighbor's beagle, Charlie, who did like to play soccer. He played goalie at the end, blocking a shot from John. He's awfully brave for a beagle! I preferred the smooth wooden floor inside by the dining table where I got some BBQ beef and a spot of vanilla ice cream.Pika came, too. She didn't play soccer either. She prefers to be in the arms of Mme. Mayo and be admired by Jeannie. I like attention from Jeannie, too. I've known her since I first came to California.
Family is great, no?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Went to Carmel for the first time earlier this week. Alice found an inn welcoming to dogs, so Pika came too. What will I remember most? It's a doggie town. Lots of water bowls outside the shops. Lots of good places to sniff. Terrific chicken at that restaurant yesterday! Lots of quality lapsitting time on long drives along the coast and into the mountains above Carmel Valley. That big black Bernese Mountain Dog at the bar at the inn. Wow! I'd never seen a dog that big. Couldn't stop staring at him. And for one of the few times in my life, I was not the cutest dog. When I walked with Pika in downtown Carmel, I can't tell you how many people stopped and said,"Oooooo.... a pug! I've one at home!" Gave me mmore time to sniff things.
Alice says Carmel to her is going to see her older relatives when she was young. Aunt Lucy Pope who had polio as a child but who outlived everyone. Lucy - always a smiling face. A delicate lady who was a gentle as a bird. Her sister Fran who everyone thought would never marry but did when she was almost 50 years old.
It was quite the romance. She'd been friends with a couple in Seattle but then the wife died. The husband, Misha, had a vision one day he saw Fran's face in the Moon. Within the week, Fran called to say she was stopping through town and would be happy to visit.
They had a little house in Carmel walking distance to Ocean Avenue. Misha loved his front and rear gardens. Alice remembers how he wore three-piece suits with a Victorian style watch and fob which her Dad has now. He always had old and elegant wooden canes - the one with the dog head is in Alice's parent's umbrella stand. He spoke with a Russian accent and like Lucy and her sister, was always smiling with eyes twinkling. Alice is the custodian of his USA naturalization papers. He'd been in the Tsar's Army posted on the Chinese border when the Communist Revolution happened. (He's the one with the moustache in the carte de visit.) So, he walked across the border, became a businessman in Shanghai, and eventually came to Seattle and retired to Carmel. Fran and Lucy were his only living family when Alice knew him.
One of Misha and Frannie's favorite things to do in Carmel was sitting at the Carmel River State Beach watching the sunset. Alice and I saw it yesterday as did another couple. Pelicans commuted inland after their fishing jobs. That's Carmel, too.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Summer P-Party

Alice took me to a grocery store near Stanford University to meet Pele and Picadou. Pele's Jane and Pika's Catherine came, too. Most nervewracking for us dogs: each of our people in turn went inside the store leaving us one after the other behind without our Primary Person. Pele had a tough time waiting for his Jane. But she came back quick. I put my tail down when Alice went inside. Why couldn't we dogs go inside? DISCRIMINATION!! Nice walk around the cactus garden across the street. Catherine likes the boojum tree. Reminds her of Baja and her book about it. Alice liked the blooming Century plant. It reminded her of a Christmas tree her friend Robert W. made of a dried one by spray painting it gold, sticking it in a pot with stones and hanging ornaments on it.
Jane liked the statue of another Jane with her Leland Senior and Leland Junior. Alice took of picture of us all looking like the statutes.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Uncle Bob's G&S

Big package arrived in the mail from Illinois a couple of days ago. Sheet music from Uncle Bob who passed away a few years ago. Lots and lots of Gilbert & Sullivan. The cover of one reminded Alice of the outfit she wore in the second act of a recent production of G&S's "The Grand Duke". The ladies chorus had to wear "Greek" outfits, so they used the fairy outfits from an old show of Iolanthe.
At the Met last month, Alice had fun checking out real Greek vases. As Ludwig says in Grand Duke, "Imagine!... 50 Spartan virgins capering..... struming citharae..." Or thinking how fun it would be in Baroness Krachenfeld's drinking song to have everyone mixing wine in Greek kraters... Or to have the entire chorus painted on one side of a Greek vase reacting to the duel between Ludwig and Grand Duke Rudolph.
Bob didn't have the Grand Duke sheet music since for a long time it has been considered "not good"compared to the Mikado, Pirates and Pinafore. But it is very funny and has wonderful music. Lots of fun to perform and to watch. I like to think Bob still sings along to his favorite music and now also knows Grand Duke.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

First Apricot

Alice finally ate her first ever apricot from the tree in the front yard. It's been there several years, but the fruit had always just dropped off while still green or never set after the flowering. It seems this year, no stone fruit tree in the neighorhood could fail. Over on Guinda Street is a perfect and loaded peach tree. Honeybee's house has a pear tree for her Brenda to make lots and lots of pear desserts. A walnut tree is dropping green skinned walnuts all over one of my favorite sniffing corners. Forget "Silicon Valley" this Summer. It's back to being the "Valley of the Heart's Delight" as the old orchardists used to call it.

Agapanthus is blooming all over, too. I rather like to smell the big leaves of those which cover half a sidewalk. Good places for dog p-mail. And Alice's yellow callas, hydrangea and gardenas are smelling up the yard.
I d
unno why she likes them so much. Certain wonderful patches in some lawns smells so much better and are GREAT for rolling in and savoring. Different noses, different strokes.

Monday, July 09, 2007


Here is what Alice saw last month waiting for her train to Boston from New York City. Penn Station Amtrak main floor afternoon rush hour. Hundreds of people standing in a big circle - with not a single dog! - all watching a big board. Waiting for their track number to pop up. As soon as it did, bunches of them rushed to their gate making long lines blocking the entire floor to claim their favorite seats. No natural light. Stuffy mechanical air. Not a place for dogs, said Alice. That's another reason I wasn't invited on that trip.

Alice had been to that station many times before to catch trains to Long Island. She'd heard stories about how nice the old station was before it was scraped, shoved all underground, and topped with Madison Square Garden. "Garden"?! Ha, she says! "Square" as in a charming outdoor plaza? Ha! Too bad but at least memories of it survive. Wouldn't it have been nice she thought, to wait under this big glass and steel sky instead of the hell-hole that is the Penn Station's Amtrak area now? She can do that inside her head instead.

Below it's still the same old Manhattan subway. She took it Uptown to Lexington Avenue at 77th Street via the 7th Ave/Broadway line and the 42nd Street Shuttle. She admitted it took her a long time to figure out how to catch those three subway trains by looking at the subway map and longer amount of time walking around underground particularly to get from the Penn Station Amtrak platform to the first subway platform. (Yes, she had to "redo" one escalator at Times Square Station to find the right platform to the Shuttle. Signage there is bad. But not as bad as the highway signs in Arlington, Virginia.)

Deep down on the 42nd Street Shuttle it still looks over 100 years old. Built for short people. Big steel beams and girders. Hot and humid. No one makes eye contact with anyone else down there. New Yorkers' idea of "personal and private" time and space. (Those people need a shake of the cobwebs and a sunspot to soak in.)
Waiting on the platform for the Shuttle made Alice think of Jeffrey the space monster from "Men in Black II" who roamed the tunnels eating subway cars. And made her think about what Professor Weisman says would happen if people disappeared from the City. The subways would flood completely within days, all the steel holding up the roofs would erode away, all the tunnels would collapse creating rivers in a few years. A long, deep one would flow right down Lexington Avenue. But, perhaps Park Avenue would still have its little long park bordered by herds of stationary yellow taxi cabs.

As her Amtrack train popped out above ground leaving Manhattan, she looked back towards the City. Many people in her car, including her, silently stared at the space where the Twin Towers used to be and she thought about all the people who built and rebuilt the City and those who live there now. And, of course, thought about the very happy dogs she'd seen prancing around Lexington and Park Avenues and those sniffing the trees and grass in Central Park.

Friday, July 06, 2007


Thursday in the Summer is Los Altos Farmers' Market day. Bliss on Earth. Got some fresh rotisserie chicken! Beef tri-tip!! And some ala mode vanilla ice cream for dessert. Stuffed. Stuffed-o-rama.
My town has been having some odd fires in the past few weeks. Two up in the hills. Another in a downtown building. Alice saw the latest from the Dumbarton Bridge. Things are so dry. Any match, thrown cigarette butt, a piece of broken glass or a nut-ball arsonist can start one practically by simply staring at the dry grass. We dogs don't start fires. Especially us males. Prefer to "sprinkle" here and there and everywhere. We also would be terrific with our noses at sniffing out small fires before they get big. But, in my town, the professional fire fighters don't want any help from us dogs and other "nonprofessionals". If only they really knew how good our noses are!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Mrs. G's Foxy

Alice is still thinking about the museums she visited last month. All the pictures of people. Their dogs. Some sculptures and vases...
Funny thing when she was walking through the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Twice she had flashes of someone else being there who wasn't really there. Once in front of a small religious painting propped up on a table in front of a priedieu. A lady bent over praying as hard as she could, covered in a long cloak with a veil and hat covering her head. Praying for a child of hers to survive after having lost at least three or four. Alice could see the lady in her mind and hear her desparate prayers. Very clearly.
Then once in a corrider she heard the clicking of little dog nails. For an instant. Couldn't tell from where they were.So! Alice was on a hunt to find out if Isabella had any dogs. Here is one she had called Foxy from a photo of the two of them on the museum roof. Maybe those were the clicky paws Alice heard?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Erick O. Paints My Portrait!

Yesterday, while Alice fixed a beef lunch for me in Alta California, my stepsister picked up my portrait down in Baja Californina del Sur. Erick Ochoa painted it. He learned how to draw and then how to paint from Michael Cope. Pika's people have three of Michael's paintings - but my picture is the first in the family from Erick!!
Erick left the painting for me and Alice with Paula at her Cafe Santa Fe Restaurant in Todo Santos. Stepsister propped it up on a chair at her table. Paula's cat proceeded to have a near melt down. She stared at it for at least ten minutes from across the patio. It took her that long to work up the courage to come investigate. She slowly padded over - indignado!! - a dog sitting on a chair at one of Paula's tables!!! Sniffed all over the painting and finally realized it wasn't really me, just my picture.
I think she is still mad. Maybe she wants a picture of herself, too, by Ezio, Michael or Erick? Or maybe she was just mad that her Paula and her Ezio admired it? Or that she was fooled since it wasn't really me in the fur.
Alice has known that cat since she was a tiny ball of fluff. Even when she was tiny, she knew the world revolved around her. Poor thing. What a shock.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Pika and Human Friends

Right before Alice left Pika, they had a fun visit with some special friends of Pika's. Here she is with her person, C, and Constantine and Sasha. Constantine and Sasha have a dog, too. His name is Chance. He's an Australian dog who takes his job of protecting his flock, er.... family, very seriously. He and Pika like to bark at each other. It feels good and right they say.
Chance's family picked lots of sour cherries last month to make traditional Russian desserts. Alice found out Russians have completely different words for "cherry" depending on how they taste. We dogs have different words for cherries and other fruits. One for each kind. But, I have hundreds of words for chicken! Rather like the Eskimos and their many words for different kinds of snow. Reminds one of what is truly important in life besides friends and family.

Monet Haystacks and the Potomac

Alice can understand why Mr. Monet painted all those haystacks and water lillies in different light. Trying to get it just right. Reveling in the different worlds in the same places. Here's one of her favorite pix from Pika's place last month.

Rothko and Urbino

Alice has been thinking about contrasts. How the time of day and weather changes the view at Pika's apartment. Different times, different worlds.
She sat all by herself one Saturday morning in the Rothko Room at the Phillips Museum. Couldn't decide if she liked it or not. Kept going back and forth. It's supposed to be all about walls of color. Waves of it washing over you, voiding everything else out. But, she kept thinking while sitting there about the one window in the room, how its light slanted on the walls. How - let's face it - just about any first grader could paint a "rothko". Would you want a room of "rothkos" in your house? Would you rather spend time there or in a little Japanese tea house looking out on a Zen garden with birds and bees working nearby flowers?
And, let's really face it: the museum with the Rothko Room does not allow dogs inside. Poo on them! Woof! Humpf.
She also spent some time alone at the Met's studiolo of the Duke of Urbino. It, too, had a little window Alice liked to imagine looking out of it as if the room was still at the Gubbio palace in Italy She said she'd worry about the little wooden inlays warping and popping out. It struck her as just a tad pretentious. "Look at me and my costly room detailing all my intellectual, military, and ruling pursuits!" A Master of the Universe kind of place. Still, have to hand it to him - he had style and was comfortable in his own skin, broken nose from jousting and all.
Alice saw a picture of Mrs. Urbino at the Gardner a few days later. She had a very short life. Done in by childbirth or perhaps the plague. No one really knows. Alice couldn't help but think about her hairstyle which it seems, a certain Princess Leia and her Mother also favored.
Funny isn't it? We hardly remember today what the Urbinos did other than the art they commissioned.