I'll never forget the first night we met -- you with those ugly brown pincers and me in my bare feet and PJs. You must have been as nervous as I was. You reared up your tail and made a strange clicking noise that sent me scrambling for the light.

That was 10 years ago in a living room encounter that still gives me goose bumps. But lately, you and your scorpion sidekicks have been slipping into other Montclair homes. There's been chatter on the Montclair listserv about scorpions in bathrooms, garages, even a hat removed from storage.

Your sting isn't lethal -- it's akin to a honeybee prick. But an encounter with you is no picnic. You're not cute and fuzzy like a bumblebee. You're skeletal and creepy. Of all the spring nests being built by God's creatures -- I hope I never encounter yours in my yard.

Crime beat: Kudos to the Oakland Police Department. An anonymous reader says officers acted quickly when she called to report an abandoned and stripped vehicle near Colton and Balboa. They towed the Volvo away in the early morning hours and even followed up with a phone call later that day.

That's the good news. Here's the bad news. The car was completely gutted and dumped in a Montclair neighborhood. The only thing inside was a plastic crate in front of the steering wheel, which meant someone stripped the car clear and drove it up to the hills to get rid of the evidence. I hope, in this case, that the police take time to process the fingerprints and make an arrest. It might send a message to car thieves who've been operating unchecked in Oakland.


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Around town: The longtime Lake Veterinary Hospital on Grand Avenue is suddenly shuttered, and no one seems to know why. Reader Debra Gooch says the windows are all papered up and there's no notice on the door. Meanwhile, a message on the company phone is referring pet owners to another animal hospital and so far, no one has answered my request for more information.

Secret gardens: Llamas in Montclair? Dianne Farber with Oakland's Hillside Gardeners says next month's big garden tour will highlight eight area gardens -- one of which is fertilized by the owners' own llamas. There's no word on whether the llamas will be part of the tour, but these biannual garden tours are great fun and feature unusual gardens and art as well as refreshments. There are 130 members of the Hillside Gardeners, and this is their big fundraiser. Find out more about the May 5 event at http://hillsidegardeners.com/Tour/Tour.html

Talent search: If you're a crafty kind of person, you may want to be part of the Glenview's first ever Cottage Industry Show on May 11. Organizer Jon Andresen says this will be a celebration of the "invisible cottage industry that is happening all around us." Whether you can, quilt or paint, you're part of a large pool of talent in Oakland. If you'd like to be part of this show, you can find the application at http://glenfriends.wikispot.org/cottage_industry?action=Files&;do=view&target=Cottage%20Industry%20Exhibitor%20application.pdf

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by phone at 510-723-2525, by email at ginnyprior@hotmail.com or on the web at www.ginnyprior.com.