The Case of the Broken Bowl

So here are the facts of the case:

My husband and I went to pinball league last night, leaving three dogs home alone at the house.

Two of the dogs, Chance and Kaylee, are 10-year-old Jack Russels who are old pros at this staying at home by themselves thing.

Chance, a 10-year-old 12-pound Jack Russel Terrier 

The third one, Myka, is a 12-week-old Jack Russel and this was the first time we were leaving her home alone for more than a half hour. She’s not crate trained yet, which is to say she has a crate and she eats in it but most of the time she has a penned-in area of the kitchen that we’ve puppy proofed.

Myka, a 12-week-old 8-pound (maybe) Jack Russel Terrier puppy

At least, we thought we had.

The kitchen is a long room divided in half by a counter that juts into the room. If a counter that isn’t connected to any part of the walls is an island, this is a peninsula. The dogs generally inhabit the “eat-in nook” on the left side of the counter, and the cooking portion of the counter is on the right side. That night, the counter contained everything from house plants and a 3-gallon fish tank to dirty dishes, a plastic bowl that had contained fried chicken, and various other kitchen implements. They were all well away from the edge of the counter — not that it mattered much, because it had been proven for many years that none of the terriers could reach counter height on a bet.

When we arrived home after roughly 3 hours away, we found the remains of 1 broken bowl, shattered all over the cooking area of the kitchen. It looked as if it had fallen from the corner where the counter became a peninsula.

On the other side of the peninsula, a camping light, a Venus flytrap, and a few other odds and ends had been knocked off of a high table behind the counter.

All 3 dogs were where we had left them: the older two with run of the house (except the penned-in area of the kitchen) and the youngest in the pen.

This, then, became the mystery. How did all of these things get dislodged or broken when they were well out of any dog’s reach? And why weren’t the rest of the items cleared off the counter?  And who had done it, if all the dogs were where they belonged?

Our first suspect was a mouse, because we’ve had them before. But it didn’t add up. Mice are more careful. I’ve lived in houses with mice most of my life (the results of backing up to farm fields or schools) and while they’ll defecate on anything, they generally don’t knock things over because that gets attention.

Anything bigger than a mouse was suspect because Chance is a hunter. If there’s an animal in the house, he’ll spend hours attempting to hunt it (including staring at walls in the kitchen, in the case of the mice). So if it was bigger than a mouse, he wouldn’t have greeted us at the door because he would’ve been much too busy hunting the thing.

So what then? A small earthquake?

While I was pulling up the USGS Earthquake Map on my phone and trying to stuff the Venus flytrap back into its pot (which didn’t work), I glanced down at my feet.

Over the past few days, Myka had discovered she could knock over the bird seed bins. Not a big surprise, since they were empty. I didn’t even think about them when I came in the door, because I expected the little whirling dervish would knock them over again.

Then I realized that she’d knocked it over in just such a way that it made a ramp up to the next food container in the row.

Folks, we have a climber.

Here’s how we think the crime went down. Myka knocked over the food container, climbed up its side, jumped onto the dog food container, then used that to climb up onto the table. I’m actually grateful she didn’t just tear the puppy food bag off the dog food container and chow down; on the other hand, my Venus flytrap might still be alive.

Anyway, once on the black table, she would’ve kicked the lantern over, knocked over some other things we found on the floor, and made her way up onto the counter.

I’m pretty sure she tried to taste test the flytrap, because she’s Myka.

I’m also 100% sure that Chance was going out of his damned mind at this total breach of dog etiquette and was probably raising hell at the base of the counter.

But once Myka knocked the bowl off the counter, she would’ve scared herself into climbing back down the way she came, which is why we found everyone where they belonged.

The kitchen counter, from the peninsula end. Bird food containers are now outside of it.

To test this theory, we’ve moved the food containers and raised everything Myka could reach before even higher up out of her reach.

Wish us luck. Because the perp isn’t showing any signs of regret.

Myka, lying down behind the gate that keeps her contained in the kitchen.



Day 237: not letting it go

Day 237:

So if I carefully carve a long trench in a length of solid granite (since I certainly have enough of it) and then fill it with iron ore, I might be able to make a rail. And then if I douse it with cold water, that should be enough to shrink it to pull it out of the granite.

And then I just have to do it a couple dozen times over the course of a few weeks to actually make enough rails to move anything.

And then I need to do the same thing for curved pieces, or develop something strong enough to curve straight pieces, all while not snapping them, with the knowledge that my iron is still weak enough that I go through 20 iron pickaxes in the amount of time it would’ve taken me to wear out the battery in one laser cutter if The Company was here running this mission.

I’m thinking going back to digging is my best bet. This bucket of lava can just sit here for now. It’s got to cool down eventually, right?

Day 235: What do you do with a bucket of lava?

Day 235:

The bucket worked.

Believe you me, filling a bucket with lava was no easy trick. First I had to find a lava fall, then I had to find a part of the lava fall that wasn’t flowing like water because that’s a bit more than I wanted to deal with, then I had to figure out how to divert some of it without melting the bucket. I mean, it’s really hard to tell where to apply lava to prevent bucket failure.

Strangely, a glass spoon worked best.

(Don’t ask when I made the glass spoon, just know that occasionally a person gets tired of getting splinters when they’re not good at making wooden spoons.)

So yes, lava in a bucket is just fine. It makes the bucket REALLY FREAKING HOT, but other than that small detail, and the fact that it doesn’t make any damn sense, it’s pretty handle.

Day 236: Moving a bucket of lava

Day 236:

It is too hot to carry. It eats the handle. Apparently the lava does not like to be moved.

I’m beginning to contemplate the idea of building some kind of rail system.

You’d think I would have thought of something like that a long time before, so that perhaps I didn’t have to carry bags of rocks around. But see, that would have been smart. And also that would’ve meant reinventing the wheel.

The thing is, creating wheels isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds. It’s not like I have a jigsaw sitting around to carve the wood with. And I don’t have any engines to get a log spinning fast enough to smooth it. I could make a sand cast and pour an iron wheel, but that has its own challenges. For one thing, even the slightest flat spot can make a wheel useless, and for another, putting a flange on a wheel takes some special doing if one wants the rail car to not derail every time one goes around a curve.

And don’t get me started on making the rails themselves.

On the other hand, portable buckets of lava could come in handy. Like, could I forge things out of lava rock? Or dump them on zombies? I have so many questions and a hot bucket of lava (somehow it hasn’t cooled).

Day 234: Odd physics

Day 234:

Discovered that if I put lava in a glass bowl, the glass is fine, but if I put a glass bowl in lava, the glass bowl melts.

This place is so weird.

Trying a bucket next.