13

Ranger Bob – Conclusion

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So far: Four raccoon kits have met a bear at the park. The bear turns out to be the beloved Ranger Bob. Somehow the school has lost track of its former safety adviser, and he is living across the river with his daughter. Upon discovery, Ranger Bob is invited to visit the school. You can start the story here.

Ranger Bob steps onto the stage and hugs John The young animals clap and sit down.

Ranger Bob:  Hello, everyone! It’s nice to see you.

Students: It’s nice to see you too, Ranger Bob.

Ranger Bob: I want to thank Ms. Porcupine for inviting me to speak. I used to come to the school a lot. I know most of your parents.

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Timmy Chipmunk: My mom was really excited that you’re here She says you know everything about safety in the woods.

Ranger Bob (embarrassed): Well, I don’t know everything. But I’ve learned a lot over time.

Ms. Porcupine: I invited Ranger Bob here to share some of what he knows about forest safety.

Ranger Bob: What’s the most important thing to remember in the woods?

The children shout out answers:

Don’t get lost!

Don’t eat poison plants!

Don’t eat poison bugs!

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Don’t eat each other!

Everyone laughs.

Ranger Bob: The most important thing to remember is to be prepared. Be sure you have enough water available. Know how to get back to where you started. Questions?

Wally Weasel:  Is it OK to go out by ourselves?

Ranger Bob: I recommend that you always take at least one friend with you. But if you do go alone, be sure someone else knows where you’re going and when you plan to be home.

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Becky Beaver: What do I do if I get lost?

Ranger Bob: If you’re sure you’re lost, find a safe spot and stay there until someone finds you.

Rikki Raccoon: I’d climb a tree to see if I recognized anything.

Ranger Bob: Excellent idea!

Sheila Squirrel: I’d use the squirrel chatter network to tell my parents where I was.

Ranger Bob: Wonderful!

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Louie Wolf: I’d howl to give my position.

Ranger Bob: Another excellent idea! You children are doing great!

Mama and Papa Raccoon are sitting at the back of the room with Ms. Porcupine.

Ms. Porcupine: He really gets along well with the children, doesn’t he?

Mama: Oh, yes. He always has.

Ms. Porcupine: He’s so big. I wonder why they aren’t afraid of him.

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Papa: They know he won’t hurt them. I don’t think they even think about his size after a while.

Mama: He’s very gentle. And talks to them as if they were all the same size.

They watch Ranger Bob and the children for a while.

Ranger Bob: Kids, I’m having a great time, but I think it’s about time for me to go. Any last questions?

Anna Raccoon: Are you going to come back soon and teach us more?

Ranger Bob: That’s up to your school.

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The children turn to look at Ms. Porcupine.

Ms. Porcupine: What types of things did you have in mind, Anna?

Anna Raccoon: I don’t know. Safety stuff. Like swimming.

The others join in.

Forest fires

Snakes

Floods

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First Aid

Building shelters

Finally, Ms. Porcupine holds up her paw, laughing.

Ms. Porcupine: Ranger Bob, it seems that the children have become very interested in safety all of a sudden.

Ranger Bob: They were very good listeners. And it is important that they know how to stay safe. We want them around for a while.

The children giggle and nod.

Ms. Porcupine: You seem to get along well with them and enjoy teaching them.

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Ranger Bob: I’ve enjoyed teaching kids about safety for as long as I can remember.

Ms. Porcupine: Would you be available to come in one afternoon a month for a presentation?

Ranger Bob: I’d be honored.

Ms. Porcupine: Just tell me the subject ahead of time so the parents will know. They might want to come too.

Ranger Bob: Of course.

Ranger Bob turns to the children.

Ranger Bob: OK, kids?

They race up and hug him. It looks like there might be tears in Ranger Bob’s eyes.

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Pictures courtesy of Google Images.

 

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11

Ranger Bob – Part 3

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So far: Four raccoon kits have met a bear at the park. The bear turns out to be the beloved Ranger Bob. They go back to invite Ranger Bob to dinner, but he is gone. The family finally finds him living with his daughter across the river. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Ranger Bob: James Raccoon! How are you? It’s been a long time.

Papa: I know. I know. I didn’t realize how long until my kits said they saw you at the river.

He points to Jimmy, John, Anna, and Sally.

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Ranger Bob: James, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare them. I just didn’t want them to get hurt in the river. You know I wouldn’t hurt them.

Mama: Of course not. We all love you, Ranger Bob.

Ranger Bob: Maria! How are you?

Mama: Life is good. How are you?

Ranger Bob: I guess I’m getting old. It seems that all you kids I knew have grown up and had kids of their own. You can pass on what I’ve taught you. You don’t need me around anymore.

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Mama: That’s not true! We still need you.

Ranger Bob (sadly): I didn’t help your children. I scared them.

John: Only because you’re so big and have such a deep voice.

Sally: Jimmy would have done something stupid if you hadn’t stopped him.

Jimmy: It wasn’t stupid! I was hot.

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John: You could have drownded.

Jimmy: Well . . . Maybe it wasn’t really smart.

Ranger Bob: Your brother’s right. It’s not safe to swim alone. Didn’t your parents tell you that?

Papa: We thought he knew.

Mama: I knew it was a bad idea to let them go to the park by themselves.

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Ranger Bob: They’re old enough, Maria. They just need to follow the rules. Kits, who’s teaching you about safety?

Anna: Mama and Papa teach us stuff.

Papa: And we thought you were still around the school and parks.

Ranger Bob: The school hasn’t called me in a long time.

Mama: Susie Squirrel and I just heard about that from the principal. It seems that no one told her that you ran the safety program. She feels terrible about it.

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A smaller bear walks up.

Bear: Daddy, who are all these raccoons?

Ranger Bob: The parents are friends from across river. The others are their kits. Maria and James, this is my daughter Alicia.

Alicia: Nice to meet you. I hope nothing’s wrong. Daddy was pretty attached to quite a few animals over there.

Mama: Not at all.

Sally: We wanted to invite Ranger Bob to dinner to thank him for keeping Jimmy from doing something stupid.

Jimmy: Grrr

Ranger Bob: Really?

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John: And apologize for running away.

Ranger Bob (to John): Could I have a hug?

John runs up and tries to hug Ranger Bob. His arms only go a little way around the bear. Ranger Bob laughs.

Ranger Bob: I guess I do look pretty big to you.

John: That’s OK. You’re a nice bear.

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Sally: Will you come to dinner? Please?

Ranger Bob: I’d love to.

The next week, Ranger Bob and Alicia visited the raccoons. Ranger Bob entertained them with stories about his adventures and the time he met Smokey the Bear. A few days later, he called to thank them for dinner.

Mama: I’m glad you called. I talked to Ms. Porcupine. She’d like you to come and talk to the students.

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Ranger Bob: Are you sure?

Mama: She said the kits were telling everyone about his stories, and they want to meet him.

Ranger Bob: That would make me very happy.

A few weeks later:

John: We like to introduce you to our friend, Ranger Bob.

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Pictures courtesy of Google Images

9

Feral Purrfessional – Part 4

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Where we are: Katie Kitty has been given a scholarship to Mid-America Animal Tech where she will study providing medical care to the feral cat population. She has discovered that one of her professors is her roommate’s father. Rose is much calmer about leaving Katie since she met the Professor. You can read the beginning of the story here.

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After the first day of school.

Katie: That was tough. I can’t believe how much homework we got on the first day.

Elise: And we have two quizzes on Friday!

Katie: Cats’ vital signs and the systems in the cat’s body.

Elise: Guess we better get started.

Katie: Can you believe some of the cats are going to a nip party tonight? It’s not even the weekend.

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Elise: I know. Maybe they don’t know how hard the program is.

Katie: Did you see that cute boy cat that was looking at you?

Elise: How could I miss him? Every time I turned around he was there.

Katie: Did you talk to him?

Elise: Yeah. All he wanted to talk about was my father, the professor.

Katie: That stinks.

Elise: It’s OK. I’m used to it.

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Katie’s phone rings.

Katie: Hi, Mama. How are you?

Rose: How was your first day of school?

Katie: Great! I think I’m going to like it here.

Rose: Were you OK after we left?

Katie: Yes, we were fine. (Rolls her eyes.)

Rose: What are you doing now?

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Katie: We’re getting ready to study.

Rose: OK. I won’t keep you. Say hello to Elise and her father. Talk to you tomorrow.

Katie: Bye, Mama.

Katie looks at Elise.

Katie: She is going to drive me crazy. I think she’s going to call every day. She says hello to you and your father.

Elise: She just misses you.

Katie: I guess. But I don’t think I’m going to be doing anything very interesting every day.

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Elise: She seemed to like Daddy. I’ll see if he has any ideas.

Katie: That’s a great idea. Thank you!

They decide to go to the cafeteria and eat before studying. After salmon mousse and cream, they return to their room and work until bedtime. The next afternoon, Katie gets another call.

Katie: Hi, Mama. How is everybody?

Rose: We’re all fine. How are you?

Katie: I’m good. Elise and I are going to see a movie tonight. Take a break after studying.

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Rose: You’re not going to be out after dark are you?

Katie: I’m a cat. Dark doesn’t bother me.

Rose: But it’s not safe.

Katie: Don’t you remember what Professor Khatt told you? It’s perfectly safe here. Besides, it’s just down the block.

Rose: OK. But call me when you get home. I want to make sure you’re safe.

Katie: All right. I’ll talk to you then.

Katie disconnects the phone.

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Katie: Meowsers! She is crazy. I have to call when we get back. Did you talk to your dad?

Elise: I almost forgot! He said that he would call her tonight and explain how distracting it would be for you if she called every night.

Katie: I hope he doesn’t hurt her feelings.

After the movie, Katie calls her mother.

Katie: Hi, Mama. We’re home. All safe and sound.

Rose: That’s nice dear. I hope you enjoyed the movie. I got the nicest call from Edgar. He told me that you are adapting well, and I don’t need to worry so much. He is going to call me every Friday to let me know how things are going. He suggested that you call me once a week since you will be very busy. I think Monday.

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Katie (confused): Sure, Mama. Mondays will be fine. Are you sure you’ll be ok with once a week?

Rose: Oh, yes. I don’t want to interfere with your studies. Love you.

Katie: Love you too.

Katie disconnects the call.

Katie: Your father is a magician! I only have to call once a week.

Elise: How’d he manage that?

Katie: He’s going to call her every week to reassure her.

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All goes well for several weeks. Everyone is making plans for the Thanksgiving break. Katie is talking to her mother during the weekly call.

Rose: Edgar tells me you’re doing very well in school.

Katie: So far, everything is fine.

Rose: Did you know he and Elise will be spending Thanksgiving alone?

Katie: She says that’s the way they always do it.

Rose: Well, I think it’s terrible. So, I invited them down here.

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Katie (in disbelief): Really, Mama? I don’t think it’s a good idea to spend that much time with one of my professors. It would look strange.

Rose: Don’t be silly. Cats shouldn’t be alone on holidays. Besides, you can spend your time with Elise.

Katie: I guess, Mama.

Rose: It’s set then. You can all take the train down on Wednesday.

Katie disconnects the call.

Katie: That’s weird. She invited you and your father for Thanksgiving.

Elise: That sounds like fun. I’ve never been south.

Katie: I’m so glad you’re going to be there.

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Rose makes a huge Thanksgiving dinner with an entire turkey. The kittens love Edgar. He has brought some of his cat models down and plays with the kittens. On Sunday, Rose drops Edgar, Elise, and Katie at the station.

Elise: Thank you, Mrs. Kitty. I had a wonderful time.

Rose: You’re very welcome. I enjoyed having you.

Katie: I guess this wasn’t as weird as I thought it was going to be.

Rose: I told you everything would be fine.

Edgar: You were a wonderful hostess, Rose. I’m so glad you invited us.

Rose: Thank you, Edgar. I’m looking forward to seeing you both at Christmas.

Edgar: We’ll see you then. I’m planning special gifts for both you and Katie.

Katie and Elise look at each other.

Next week: The finale. What is going to happen on Christmas?

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30

Cat Forum: Surviving Back to School

Greetings. Snoops and Kommando Kitty here. If you live with small (or not so small) human children, you may have noticed that they are not around as much as usual. That’s because they have gone off to “school”.

Humans are a little odd in the way they teach their children (among other things). Instead of teaching them how to survive in the world, they send them to “school” to learn “facts” and “socialization”. And they only do it for part of the year. Very strange.

Anyway, life around the house changes when school begins. We’re going to talk about some of those changes and how they may affect you.

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Getting up Early – Your young human will probably start getting up earlier than usual.

Downside – They will use some loud noise to wake up. It’s called an alarm, and it makes an awful sound to wake the small human. You will not enjoy it. Also, you will lose your warm sleeping companion.

Upside – You get the warm bed to yourself.

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Buses – Your young human may take a “bus” to school. They are yellow. An alligator friend of ours refers to them as a can of people.

Downside – Young humans rarely are ready for the bus. They run around the house looking for things. There may be yelling. And buses make a very loud noise when they stop.

Upside – None

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Backpacks, Books, Shoes – Humans need a lot of stuff to go to school.

Downside – They will probably leave their stuff all over the house. You will either need to walk around it or over it. Often the adult humans will yell at them to put their stuff away. (School seems to cause a lot of yelling.)

Upside – Some of the stuff is really comfy to lay on. In particular, backpacks and books are good for relaxing. The shoes can be used as containers for gift mice.

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Pencils, Pens, Crayons – School also requires a lot of stuff to write with.

Downside – Crayons taste awful. Pens can leak ink onto your paws. Sometimes humans get cranky if you play with them.

Upside – It’s a lot of fun to bat any of them around and watch them roll. If you’re lucky, the small human may play with you.

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Lunch – A lot of small humans take food to school. An adult human usually makes a lunch.

Downside – The humans will spend a lot of time in the kitchen totally ignoring you. Some of the food is really icky, like celery. And they won’t let you give a sniff test to make sure the food is good.

Upside – Once in a while, you may get a piece of the meat that’s going on the sandwich. Don’t be fooled if they offer you peanut butter – it does not taste like butter.

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Gym Clothes – Sometimes the schools make the small humans exercise. They wear special clothes for exercise.

Downside – When these clothes come home, they smell terrible.

Upside – None. Avoid them.

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Baths – Parents make children bathe more often for school.

Downside – Small children don’t always want to bathe. (Disgusting, isn’t it?) There may be yelling (again). If you like to be in the bathroom, you may get dragged into the water.

Upside – Less chance of sticky fingers in your fur.

As you can see, school doesn’t really do much for us cats. In exchange for having a quieter house for a few hours a day, we get more yelling and running around for the rest of the time.

We highly recommend that you find a nice, quiet spot and ignore them all.

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10

On Dragons, By Dragons (Part 1)

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Donnie Dragon came home from school and found his father working on the garden.

Dad: How was school today?

Donnie: Okay.

Dad: Did you learn anything interesting?

Donnie: Sorta. We learned that humans don’t believe in dragons. Why don’t they believe in us?

Dad: I guess because we’re invisible.

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Donnie: But we weren’t always invisible. Great-grandpa said that he knew a human.

Dad: Dragons live a long time. Much longer than humans. My grandpa’s human friend has been dead for a very, very long time.

Donnie: But people wrote about dragons. Why don’t they believe that?

Dad: Humans are strange creatures. If they can’t find evidence that something existed, they don’t believe it did. They think their ancestors made up the stories to explain something they didn’t understand.

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Donnie: Is that why they believe in dinosaurs?

Dad: Yes; there are many bones left from dinosaurs. But our bones turn to ash when we die. It’s in their dirt, but they don’t know it.

Donnie: So, they don’t know that we were alive then or that we are still around?

Dad: That’s right.

Donnie: Why can’t they see us?

Dad: We had to become invisible, so they didn’t destroy us all.

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He began to tell the story of dragons and the humans to Donnie at bedtime.

A long, long time ago, dragons lived in almost everywhere in Europe and Asia. There were thousands of us. And many varieties. Some even lived on the ground. There were no humans at the beginning.

When the humans arrived, we were afraid that they were going to start bothering us. Sure enough, the ground dragons were hunted as food.

The survivors climbed the mountains where it was safer. They started marrying the flying dragons, and the land dragons disappeared.

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More and more humans appeared. They respected us and left us alone. But they were curious and soon wanted to learn more.

They started to climb the hills and mountains to look in our caves. They even took some of our children to study.

The fire-breathers were safer than the others, so we developed into one fire-breathing species. The humans continued to be interested in us.

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The interest was different in the East than it was in the West. Unfortunately, both ended badly for us.

In China and East Asia, we were highly respected. They understood our control of water and our strength. The Emperors used us as a symbol of power.

Dragons and humans lived peacefully together for a long time.

Dad looked over and saw that Donnie had fallen asleep. The rest of the story was for another night.

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To be continued.

Pictures courtesy of Google Images

2

See Dick and Jane Get Real

I recently read that the original artwork from Dick and Jane is going to be auctioned. You may remember Dick and Jane. They were a part of early childhood reading programs for most of the mid-20th century. See Spot. See Spot run. See Dick and Spot play.

Dick and Jane had disappeared by the end of the 1970’s. Probably a victim to the fact that no one had been able to relate to them since at least the mid-1950’s. I thought it would be fun to see how they might look today:

See Dick and Jane. See Dick and Jane fight over the remote. See Spot chase Fluffy around the room. See Mommy come in the room. Mommy is mad. Mommy tells them to all stop being so noisy.

See Mommy and Daddy fight. See Mommy cry. See Mommy and Daddy yell. Daddy has a “special” friend. See Mommy tell Daddy to move out. See Daddy live with his special friend. See how beautiful and young his special friend looks.

See Dick and Jane cry. See Dick and Jane hate special friend. See Mommy sad.

See Mommy file for divorce. See Daddy’s special friend in court. See Mommy get full custody and the house. See Daddy sad. See Dick and Jane tell special friend that they hate her.

See Mommy realize she needs to get a job. See Mommy realize she has no skills after staying home with the kids. See Mommy take a job at a dollar store.

See Dick and Jane visit Daddy. See Dick and Jane make “Aunt” Jill cry. See Daddy frustrated. See Dick and Jane cry when they get home.

See Mommy look at her paycheck. See Mommy swear. Mommy knows she has to make more money. Mommy goes to night school to be a nurse.

See Jane learn to cook. Jane is not a good cook. See Mommy buy fast food. See Dick and Jane gain weight. See Mommy tired and grouchy. See Spot and Fluffy try to play with Mommy. See Mommy tell Dick and Jane to take care of their pets.

See Daddy fight with “Aunt Jill”. She does not like Dick and Jane. He loves Dick and Jane. See Daddy move out again.

See Dick and Jane visit Daddy. Daddy feels guilty about moving out. Daddy lets them do anything they want. Dick and Jane become spoiled brats.

Mommy is too tired to fight with Dick and Jane. See Dick and Jane do anything they want. See Dick play video games all day. See Jane watch TV all day. See Dick and Jane not learn to read.

See Mommy and Daddy speaking to each other again. See them to agree to joint custody. See Dick and Jane happier.

See time go by. See Dick and Jane living happily with Mommy and her new husband and their baby. See Dick and Jane visiting Daddy and his wife with their new baby. See them all living together peacefully.

See the Lifetime network make a movie about their family living happily ever after. See Dick and Jane laugh about it with their therapists.

 

9

You Lost All of It?

I will admit to being one of the least organized people around. Sadly, one of the best parts of my job is the awful uniform I have to wear. Since they tell me I have to wear one of their shirts, khaki pants, and a blue fleece over the shirt, I never have to get up and spend 10 minutes trying to figure out what to wear. Yes, I know. You’re supposed to pick it out the night before and put it aside so all you have to do is wear it. I could never get motivated enough to do it. So I’d wake up with the “perfect” outfit in mind. Then I couldn’t find the blouse I had in mind. Or any blouse that would work. Or realize that the sweater really didn’t match the skirt. Or the tights were dirty.

I can never find my keys. My husband told me to always leave them in the same place. Silly man. If I could remember to do that, I wouldn’t keep losing them. I’m the sort that comes home on a good day and leaves my purse, gloves, keys, sunglasses, etc. all in one place – preferably on the floor behind my chair in the dining room so I can find them in the morning. If I’ve been shopping, I drop things where I can before I lose the bags I’m carrying. If I’m upset, things end up in whatever room I find someone to complain to (even if it’s the cats). As much as I love my cats, they are not at all helpful in finding lost keys.

My daughter gave me a stuffed Tigger key chain. Tigger is too large to comfortably fit in my coat pocket. Tigger has a bad habit of walking away from where I put him. How else to explain continuing to lose keys that are attached to a stuffed animal? My husband got me one of those electric tracker things. You put a fob on your key chain and the base unit someplace safe. If you can’t find the keys, press the color corresponding to your fob and it will beep. Assuming you remember what color you used. And have some clue where you left the keys.

I recently completed a three-year course in religious studies. I really enjoyed it. Especially when I put the books somewhere obvious so I would remember to do the homework. And remember to take the homework with me. And remember where I put the folder so I could take the homework with me. Luckily, most studying comes easily to me, so I could usually fake it if I couldn’t find what I needed. The strangest part was that as soon as I got home, it would magically reappear.

I tried to do better with the papers that my kids brought home from school. As soon as they would hand it to me, I would sign it and give it back. It worked really well with my daughter. My son, if possible, is even more absent-minded than I am. Between us, we have spent more than a week trying to get something back to school, while my daughter reminds us that the deadline is getting closer. I thought the Internet was supposed to have made us a paperless society by now? Why am I still signing all these forms?

I just found out what happens if this personality trait goes corporate. My mother recently spent a lot of time in hospitals and rehab centers. “Her” hospital normally sent her to rehab facilities somewhere in their general vicinity. This fall, we got lucky and they sent her to a place out here. Unfortunately, she went back in the hospital and was sent to rehab in a very nice neighborhood that isn’t close to either her house or ours.

I should have had some clue there would be a problem when I filled out the inventory of her belongings and they told me they would file it. Not put it in her file. File it. That is the last anyone has seen of the list. It’s not like there was anything too significant on it. But it was all the clothes she was going to wear while she was there.

Mother got pneumonia and had to go to a very nice hospital in the very nice neighborhood. Too bad she was too sick to eat; the food was delicious. Since the rehab center sent Mom over, and she was returning to the rehab center, I didn’t think anything of the clothes in her closet. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

After a few days, Mom returned to rehab. She had no clothes. I called and asked the person answering the phone who I should speak with about the clothes, explaining that Mom wasn’t a new resident. That person didn’t know but said she would forward the message to the social worker. It seemed a little odd that the social worker would have nothing better to do than look after clothes, but who knows? I have no idea what happened next because there was no follow-up at all. I called again and they found the clothes that my mother was wearing before she went into the hospital with the dirty laundry. I guess that makes sense. She’s only been gone a week and a half. What institution does laundry more often than that?

My mother asked the nurses and aides. They have no idea (obviously) but offered to help find out. One of the therapists calls me and told me that no one on the floor can find the clothes, but she will talk to housekeeping. Once again, silence.

In the meantime, I had to buy clothes so Mom could come over for Christmas. A few days after Christmas, I received a call from Housekeeping. No one told them my mother wasn’t a new patient. Her clothing had been in storage the whole time. When I was ready, I should call and they would have the stuff ready.

Last Thursday, the rehab center called and said that Mom would be released on Friday to be taken to a nursing home. I called Housekeeping and told them that my husband would pick up the clothes when he picked up my mother. Fine. They would be in a box in her room.

Guess what? No clothes Friday afternoon. My husband did his best to get them to understand that he wanted the clothes. He said that if they couldn’t find the clothes, he wanted payment. Someone “in charge” said she would find the clothes and send them to us. I had to buy more clothes for the nursing home.

What I can’t figure out is what they would have done with the clothes in the week she was at the hospital. My guess is that someone stole the clothes to resell them. There has got to be a huge market for used polyester pants and white cotton socks.