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Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Four: Case File No. 24-180

AMBER LOVE 26-OCT-2020 This work is supported by the generous backers who adore my cat stories at and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast.

Where We Left Off:

We discovered that Arkadi the local volkolak, stole the critters’ picnic table.


Back at Yule time in 2019, I received a charming little sign for Gnome Grove and the Fairy Garden. The sign was much smaller than anticipated, but I thought I did a good job in making it more size appropriate by putting it in a small galvanized bucket filled with pebbles topped with moss and lichen. The bucket was an old citronella candle and it’s been sitting around for a couple years. I didn’t glue the sign to the pebbles or anything in the bucket. It didn’t seem necessary. I did consider that it might be removed, but I did not expect the level of vandalism that makes up this case file.

The fairies and gnomes are usually placed outside in their respective locations on May Day (Beltaine) or as close to that as possible. This year, it rained so they went out on May 2nd instead. Then in August, Gnome Chomsky and Sienna Brunetti moved in. That covers a little of the background about the residents.

fairy and gnome on table

The gnome constables, Gnomez Addams and Gnome Chomsky, reported that the squirrels were particularly active. Some days they are more excited than others. It probably has to do with their pon farr weeks. Mating and hormones can make mammals do wild things. Humans are not exempt (just look back at my life from 37-39 without mind-numbing medication). Wild and crazy squirrels didn’t sound unusual until we were shown some evidence.

The new adorable signpost that had been erected in Gnome Grove was missing! Gus and I searched all around for it on multiple occasions. It seems unlikely that I would have missed it that many times so when it did show up on the floor of pine needles in Gnome Grove, I couldn’t believe it. I knew the sign had to have been removed, broken, and then returned. I still don’t have all the pieces otherwise I would glue it back together. I took pictures at the crime scene when the sign disappeared and when I finally found this piece of it. A case file had to be opened while we investigated.

Squirrels being squirrely was a likely possibility about who was to blame. None of us seemed to think that the bluejays would have taken it. If something isn’t usable to them like food, they probably wouldn’t have much reason to hang on to it. Arkadi perhaps? He did steal the critters’ picnic table. The sign didn’t smell like food and the picnic table had a suet cake attached to it when Arkadi stole it. Chipmunks were another possibility. I only suspected these small critters of thieving ways regarding non-food items when I saw some pet chipmunks on Instagram who did things like steal nail polish bottles and try to nibble them. That had me considered that a critter might gnaw on plastics.

There was a squirrel who stood out among the suspects. She’s much smaller in body size than the others and a total freak. I kept referring to her as the Crazy Meth Squirrel because she would jump in place, flip around, run and get chased away by the others in spirals and zig-zags around the grove. A total wackadoo. The original small squirrel of Gnome Grove was Minnie Squirrel, but I do not remember this deranged kind of behavior before. It has to be a new young resident. I couldn’t continue calling this tiny nutjob something derogatory so she’s now Jessica Walnuts. Based on the observations through many stakeouts with Gus on the ground and with Oliver from the balcony, Jessica Walnuts seems like the type of critter that would steal a small plastic object and try to crack it open looking for something edible inside.

We’re dealing a clever critter even if she’s bananapants-loco. Jessica Walnuts couldn’t figure out how to open the piece of plastic (since there is nothing to be opened). She struggled with the signpost and then pitched it off a branch as The Grumpy Old Man came through with the lawn mower. The sign landed on the ground and was then sliced up by the blades!

Jessica Walnuts waited for the loud machine to leave before heading back to the branches of the pines and then down a tree trunk in Gnome Grove. The sign was broken in three pieces. Jessica tried to make amends by returning the main piece which has the arrows for directions, but the base and top have not been returned. Did she take them with her? Did she scatter them to make our job harder?

Case Findings:

All we know as of know is that Jessica Walnuts mistook the signpost for a treat. She stole it then cleverly tried to come up with a solution to “crack” it open. Realizing it was not a treat, she eventually returned one piece of the broken sign. Gus and I will continue to look out for the other pieces so that maybe it can be repaired some day.

Case Status: Closed

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