Huckleberry was savaging the tiger flower (not really his, but what the heck) this morning. By the time I got my phone into camera mode, he was posing with his kill:
Not long afterward, I saw this:
Awww... poor unwanted discarded widdle kitty!
Update: Top Hat was feeling left out.
No, they don't (generally) do the "five of his six ends are pointy when he lies like that" thing, except for Huckleberry when he gets all wound up. Their usual response to belly rubs is to stretch out and purr. My attempt to raise them as dogs hasn't been entirely in vain!
You may note that the third photo lacks the sharp focus of the first two. Actually, all three are in focus; it's Top Hat herself who's out of focus, and has been from her youth.
Out walkies this morning, I incautiously went too near the farm fence (the farm being closed to the public on Mondays, and the two-legged staff being prone to late arrival, especially on drizzlesome mornings such as this).
The Dread Guardian of the Farm pounced! From her lurking spot on the fence onto the back of my neck!
Oops, that came out a bit blurry, as action shots will. Let's try again.
Yeah, that captures the moment a bit better.
Darn critter kept trying to rub my head off. I eventually managed to dislodge her, back onto the cold, damp fence.
A bit later, someone came along and opened the office and presumably let her in and fed her.
This week, the Mathilda Monster has been extra hungry and demanding vehicular sacrifices. Sometime around Tuesday, as I was heading out, I passed the aftermath of two, count 'em, two wrecks, on opposite sides of 237 and opposite sides of Mathilda. And how anyone managed to be moving fast enough to do the sort of damage I saw, under the traffic conditions that time of the morning...? Then, next day, I checked traffic as I was inbound from morning walkies, and there'd been another crash (which had been cleaned up by the time I actually got there).
This morning, for no adequately explored reason, traffic was light, the regulars on the trails mostly seemed to be on shifted schedules (either much earlier or much later than I usually see them), and the Dread Guardian of the Farm was behaving oddly. And: the curbside parking around SVR HQ is almost empty today; usually, it's almost full.
Further, spam volume is way down today, suggesting that a lot of company computers are turned off... consistent with the light traffic. Are people taking a long weekend for Change a Pet's Life Day*? There's no Google Doodle for a holiday today. It's not Chinese New Year yet, and it's nowhere near Zoroastrian New Year.
And: on Wednesday afternoon, there seemed to be an awful lot of people driving with their headlights on. Did the Ear Leader call for people to drive with their headlights on for energy conservation or something?
On the way home from walkies this morning, I needed to swing by Trader Joe's, so I exited 85 onto El Camino, stopped at a red light at (consults map) The Americana, across from Shrill Petrol, noticed a gap in the line of cars across all the lanes to my left, and:
Gee, look! We gots a new fountain! I never saw that one before!
Oh, and that fancy pricey small-footprint debug cable that arrived Wednesday? Seems to have undergone a sudden and unexpected total existence failure. Or maybe it looked too much like a cat toy. I expect to see the manufacturer next week; must have a word with him about that.
Should I just go back to bed now, and pull the covers over my head?
It's a two-bodied cat! The shaggy body is Top Hat; the one that matches the head is Huckleberry.
A bit over a week ago:
Everyone out under the avocado tree while the house is flea-bombed. The youngsters are in a big dog cage. That blue thing behind it is a foldable dog crate. If memory serves, it's meant to be a medium-sized dog crate.
A few days before that:
When she's not dreaming of being a mountain lion or perhaps a Siberian tiger, Southmoon sometimes contemplates a career as a seat cushion.
Alas, I didn't have a camera handy to capture the moment, but:
Huckleberry just summoned Great Cthulhu!
He climbed up on my desk, reached waaaay up, grabbed Cthulhu by the foot, and pulled him down.
Now he's playing with him. Toying, even.
Never leave your Great Old Ones where a cat can get ahold of them.
Update: He tried again, and I had a camera handy, but the stack of papers whereon he was standing included a thick tome of slick cover and rather less than letter-size cross-section, and his wicked plan failed amid sliding papers. Let this be a lesson to you: never use An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations as a stepping-stone for evil.
Update 2: I can haz Great Old One?
Feetnote: From the bottom of Huckleberry's foot to the bottom of Cthulhu's foot is just about 34 inches. Did I mention Momcat looked to be a Maine Coon? And the fuzzballs are still growing.
Got a slightly early start on the day, and decided to make use of it by taking the Long Option for morning walkies: 8.mumble miles, with a decent hill in the middle.
Being as how I'm not fully up to speed*, this took rather longer than one might wish, and I didn't get back to my car until 0925, what with stopping to chat with people I hadn't seen in a while, buy eggs at the farm, and so on.
Then a couple of urgent morning errands, and now home.
I have the definite feeling I should have fried up some pork sausage this morning. The pastry-and-eggs I had wore off about the time I finished the hike.
Still not much in the way of photogenic wildlife; the camera seems to keep it away. I did get some snaps of the Dread Guardian of the Forest, who'd just caught a chipmunk. (Photo to follow; gotta work now.)
Update: I can haz stripey skwirl?
Incidentally, that was quite a small chipmunk; the Dread Guardian is a rather young, and not notably big, pygmy mountain lion. As in, smaller than a going-on-6-months-old, runt-of-the-litter, Top Hat. Alas, I was unable to include an obscure military artifact for scale.
* Except that, assuming it was 8.4 miles and I started at 0645, that works out to a bit over 3 miles/hour, which pretty much is full speed. Maybe I just need to start earlier, or only do the long edition on days when I don't have anything urgent the rest of the morning.
Out walkies at Rancho San Antonio yesterday morning, I noticed a fuzzball ahead, alongside the road before the farm. As I'd left my camera back in the car, all I got were some mobe snaps.
I'm not much of an authority on matters murine, but that right there is either a dwarf long-tailed chinchilla or a dusky-footed woodrat, no?
It was scrabbling in the dirt with its forepaws, and apparently finding tiny things to nibble on - seeds, perhaps, or the remnants of a trodden-on Frito.
Looky them whiskers!
At one point, the critter wandered over and sniffed at my toes, whereupon I cautioned it against running up my leg. Wood rat, roof rat, or regular old plague rat, loitering by daylight in an area where people are traipsing through just ain't normal behavior for a rodent that isn't someone's pet, and I didn't feel like taking chances with whatever might be afflicting it.
Update: scale is not clear from the photos; it might be mistaken for some sort of blunt-nosed mouse. It was definitely rat-sized, and a fair-sized rat at that, though it was a great exaggeration for a passing blonde to say it was as big as a dog. (Her perceptions were perhaps affected by the lack of a table to stand on and scream. Or, maybe, she has one of those teeny-tiny purse dogs for reference.)
There's some great foofaraw over a mountain lion sighting in Los Altos Hills - somewhere around Rhus Ridge, Hidden Villa, Foothill College, that sort of area.
Out for walkies at Rancho San Antonio this morning, I encountered conspicuous new warning signs and the occasional worried runner.
(Hint: if you're worried about predators, don't run. Even a Chihuahua will chase a runner.)
I'm not especially concerned, being as how I'm much bigger than a mountain lion, amble around on my hind legs, and generally look and act like a well-fed apex predator. Besides, I've got my sure-fire mountain-lion repellent: I started carrying a camera after seeing a mountain lion at Rancho about 20 years back, and haven't spotted one since.
On my way back, I encountered two, count 'em, two big paramedic trucks parked in the schoolbus area. Preparing to deal with a flood of mauling victims?
Further: as best I can tell from news accounts, two people saw the cat over the weekend, out in the woods where mountain lions belong. Nothing about it being aggressive, or wandering into populated areas. So why all the fuss? Mountain lions have been in these hills since forever, occasionally crossing paths with people, and it's never been a secret nor cause for alarm. Is there something about the latest sighting They're not telling Us, or is it just silly overreaction?
Update: photographic proof!
Friday morning, I encountered a furry, tan, long-tailed mammal, which in all other respects was entirely unlike a mountain lion. Here's the rather blurry proof that I met with a not-a-mountain-lion!
Now, at this point, you may be thinking "Who gives a rat's patootie?" Well, just moments later, I discovered that a previous user of the trail had in fact given a rat's patootie:
Actually, the cork on the current was about it yesterday. Down Cache Creek by innertube again! I returned with only minor abrasions, but a heck of a lot of sore muscles, and having had more than my recommended daily allowance of adrenaline.
Not a lot of photos worthy of publishing this year, so I'll put 'em in line.
On a moderately hot day, under a smoky sky, the flotilla set forth.
Joy brought paddles. These seem to be a more practical accessory than, say, cannons.
There were many rocks in the stream. This year, my highly customized tube developed an unerring instinct for latching on to the current that would carry it directly over, onto, or against such obstacles.
There were a few crowded beaches along the way. This one appears to be associated with the public campground.
And off we go again.
Coming out of the last patch of whitewater before lunch.
This year, most of the group returned to the creek backwards off the bridge. A few of us took the less dynamic approach of just wading in on the side.
Last time I did this trip, I managed not to fall off my tube at all. This year, I fell off three times. One was definitely caused by being crowded by a mob of bloody Continental creek hogs in a kayak; one I don't remember; and the last I accomplished all by myself, at the start of a rather long stretch of agitated water. After several minutes of trying to reach shore without getting bounced off too many rocks by the current, I'd had at least my quota of adrenaline for the day, and decided to get out and walk whenever conditions promised to get interesting.
While I was walking, I had the opportunity to snap a few shots of Joy going down one of the last little rapids. In the state I was in, this did not look like Fun.
Oh, and the latest tube mod:
I didn't get any bruises while I was in the tube, except for one nasty whack on the back of a hand incurred while bouncing off a sudden flurry of rocks and out-of-control rent-a-rafts. Score one for the padded bottom in the tube.
On the other hand...
The padded bottom adds to the drag. If I'm just trying to go with the current, this is fine, but for maneuvering, no.
Also, the bottom kept dragging on rocks, so I got slowed down in several places where otherwise I would just have bumped across, acquiring another bruise in the process.
I may need to rethink the padded-bottom thing - maybe tighten up the attachment so it's normally about halfway up, instead of just about at ground level.
And maybe a functional deck gun would be a good thing, for defense against rafters with monster squirt guns. Now, how to build a useful tube-mountable water cannon....
More practically, a headrest would be a really nice thing to add. My neck is still complaining.
Oh, and in case anyone is examining the EXIF data: those are this year's pictures. My waterproof camera had been idle long enough to lose its clock setting, and when I set it, I somehow managed to get the year wrong.
As is the custom, I led the Hangover Hike this morning, commencing at 0745 (that was the nominal meeting time; after waiting for stragglers, carpooling up to Skyline Ridge, and waiting for everybody to decide how many layers to wear, we actually hit the trail about 0845).
I had a dozen takers this year. The weather in the flatlands was clear and cold (34°F; cold for this area). Given the wind we'd had yesterday, I was expecting fiercely cold and windy conditions up on the ridge.
In fact, by the time we got there, the temperature was up to 55, with practically no wind. After a bit of hiking, I was regretting my long pants and long-sleeved shirt (and long hair, for that matter).
A bright, clear morning! (As usual, click images to embiggen.)
Views all the way out to the ocean!
Ocean, Pacific, 1 ea.
New year's resolution: do not meddle in the affairs of witches, lest you end up like this tree.
Coots on Alpine Pond.
That puddle has boats* on it!
Silicon Valley in the new year, slightly obscured by haze. Stanford is left of center (with the possible exception of the Hoover Institution).
My house isn't quite in this picture, unless you have very good X-ray vision.