10

Road Trip! The Gators’ Summer Vacation – Part 3

Image result for alligators in mud

The gators made it to Tennessee, but ran into some bad luck there. They were tuned away from the motel because they were alligators. Then the place they chose to sleep turned out to be a cold river, and they were on the edge of torpor. When we left them, they had just been discovered by a couple of bears. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Bear (looking closely): It’s those two alligators from work. What’re they doing here?

Cub: Alligators! Our teacher told us about alligators, but I never thought I’d really see one! They live where it’s hot!

Bear: I know, Billy. These two came up to visit, but weren’t allowed to stay at the motel because the owner was afraid of losing business. They must have decided to sleep here.

Billy: But, daddy, it’s much too cold for them here. They probably can’t even move they’re so cold. We have to help them.

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Bear: What do you think we should do, Billy? Won’t they get better in the morning?

Billy: The teacher said that it takes a long time in the sun for them to wake up. What if it’s not sunny tomorrow? We need to get them out and warm them up.

Abby and Al listened to this, and relaxed a little. At least the bears weren’t talking about eating them. On the other hand, the cub was right. If it didn’t get warm enough to revive them fully, the gators would start going into torpor. They hoped the little bear had some kind of good idea.

Bear (looking at the river): Umm. Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Gator. I’m Will Bear. I think we met earlier today in town. My son tells me that you may be in trouble and we need to get you out of that river. You look kinda long for me to do it by myself, so I’m going to get someone to help. Don’t worry, we’ll figure it out.

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Will and Billy walked into the woods. The gators waited, hoping for the best. The bears returned home and told the neighbors about the gators. Will’s wife Betty seems a little hesitant.

Betty: Are you sure they’re really alligators? Maybe you two were just looking at a couple of logs.

Will: Dear, we live in the woods. I know what a log looks like.

Billy: And they had eyes.

Betty: I don’t know. Couldn’t they eat us?

Will: They seemed nice enough when I saw them in town. No one would let them stay, so they came out here to sleep.

Billy: Besides, Mom, they can’t move.

Bob: There are more of us than there are of them. If there’s a problem, we can handle it.

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The bears went down to the river. They appeared to be puzzled.

Bob: There’s definitely a couple of reptiles in there. But they’re big and look like they’re stuck in the mud. How do we get them out?

George: I think we need three bears per gator. One at the head, one at the tail, and one in the middle. If we lift together, it should work.

Bob: OK. Then what do we do?

Will: We’ll take them back to my den. I’ll get my older boys to help us warm them up.

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The gators were a little concerned about this plan, but really didn’t have a choice. They hoped they didn’t end up in three pieces getting out of the river. The bears climbed in and put their paws under the gators. With a little effort, they got the gators out of the mud. The six bears managed to get the two gators to Will’s den and lay them down.

Betty: OK, Joe and Jim are here. Now what?

They all stood in silence, watching the gators.

Billy: I know! We’re all warm and furry. Let’s put them between us tonight. Maybe it will be enough to get their blood flowing.

Abby was terrified. But before she knew it, she was between two large sleeping bears. She tried to relax. Before she knew it, the bears were moving again.

Betty: Good morning, everyone. How are our guests doing?

Billy: Let me see!

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The larger bears got up and looked at the gators. The larger one tried to say something.

Will: What’s he saying?

Billy (leaning down): I think it’s “Thank you.”

Will: It’s quite all right, Mr. Gator. Are you OK?

Al closed his eyes again. Will nudged him with a paw to see if he was still alive.

Al: Need more sleep.

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Will: I have to get to work. The rest of you lay down again. Don’t get up until they can stand.

The bears surrounded the gators again and relaxed. By the time Will got home, everyone was up and talking.

Abby: Here he is. Our hero!

Will (embarrassed): It wasn’t me. If Billy hadn’t noticed you, none of the rest would have happened.

Abby: We were all laughing about how we were afraid we would be eaten by the other.

Betty: It’s such a shame that they couldn’t stay in town. They are such nice creatures.

Will: You know how they are in there. If you’re not a small mammal, they’re sure you out to make them dinner.

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Al: But you work there.

Will: As security. That’s the only job a bear can get. Just in case something bad comes walking through the door.

Billy: Well I’m glad they wouldn’t let the gators stay. I never would have met them otherwise. And now they’re staying!

Betty: I’ve convinced them to stay a couple of days with us. I’m going to show them a couple of nice sunny spots for daytime, and they can sleep here.

Will: That’s great! Welcome!

The gators ended up having a great vacation. They spent the days in the sun, and the bears caught fish for dinner. They knew the other gators would never believe them, so they took lots of pictures and promised to keep in touch.

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All pictures courtesy of Google Images

9

Road Trip! The Gators’ Summer Vacation

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It had been abnormally hot and steamy in the southern Florida swamp. While most of the gators loved it, Abigail had had enough. She was a Carolina gator who had met Al on a spring trip to Panama City. It was love at first sight, and they spent their time curled up in a hot tub some human had forgotten to drain.

When it was time to go home, Al invited Abby to come with him. She didn’t hesitate and had been living south of Miami ever since. It had been an adjustment. She thought it smelled weird, and all the gators did was lie around. She loved Al and she soon adapted. But this summer was too much.

Image result for alligators in a swamp

Abby: Al, the heat is starting to make me cranky.

Al: Sweetheart, you’re an alligator. Being cranky is part of our charm.

Abby: I want to go somewhere for vacation.

Al: OK, we can go to somewhere on the coast. You pick the spot.

Abby: I was thinking a little more north.

Al: Back to Panama City? That would be nice.

Abby: Um. A little further north.

Al: How much further north?

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Abby: Tennessee.

Al: Where is Tennessee? I’ve never heard of it.

Abby: It’s north of Georgia.

Al: That doesn’t sound very tropical. Exactly how far is it?

Abby (hesitating): Well, I couldn’t get the exact mileage, but it’s about 850 miles.

Al: 850 miles! Abby, we’re alligators. It would take us years. There’s no way we can take that kind of trip. Find someplace closer or we’re not going.

Image result for alligator in hot tub

Abby (starting to cry): Just look at the pictures. See, the humans are wearing shorts. That means it’s warm. And the place I found has a hot tub. It’ll be romantic, just like when we first met. We can leave the kids with your sister.

Al: What’s that big, furry thing standing in this picture?

Abby: It says it’s a bear. I’m not sure what that is, but I’m sure it’s well-mannered since it’s at a resort.

Al: I don’t see any alligators in these pictures. All the animals are furry.

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Abby: I’m sure it’s just because of where they took the pictures.

Al realizes that Abby really has her heart set on going to this place.

Al: OK. How do we get there?

Abby: I thought that we could take an airplane, but we gators don’t have our own airline. Apparently, not enough of us fly. We used to be able to take All Animals, but they went out of business. The last one available is Creature Air Comfort, but they’ve banned gators.

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Al: Isn’t that discriminatory?

Abby: Apparently not. In the past few years, there have been five instances of gators eating other passengers.

Al: Trust some hooligans to ruin it for everyone.

Abby: So the next fastest way to get there is by train. The only problem is that the trains from Miami charge gators double because of the eating other passengers thing. We’d need to go to Orlando to get a decent rate. Apparently there are lots of humans in the area who spoil the alligators, so they don’t bother the other animals.

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Al: Well, there’s one positive to the human invasion down here. So how do we get to Orlando?

Abby: Well your sister Jean told me about something the humans have, called ride-sharing. Some people do it because they’re friends, but other people do it for anyone to make money.

Al: Well, that’s great, but we don’t know any humans.

Abby: Jean does. Some guy who was out here taking pictures. He said that driving alligators to Orlando would make him “viral.” We don’t know what that means, but she made sure that he would deliver us to the train station alive and in good shape.

Al (defeated): So when does he pick us up?

Early Saturday morning, the driver arrives in an old pickup truck. He has filled the bed with water after laying down blankets for their comfort. He has a friend who is recording everything while talking the whole time. Abby and Al climb in, ready to start their adventure.

Image result for tennessee vacation

 

Next time: Tennessee is definitely not the tropics.

(Pictures courtesy of Google Images)

 

 

4

Where’d Everyone Go?

(Kommando and Snoops woke up Monday morning starving as usual. Snoops went over and woke up Kommando.)

Snoops: Hey! Why isn’t there any food? Didn’t you wake up the humans? You know that’s your job. It’s already light outside.

Kommando: Bad news. Remember when they got in the car yesterday? They never came home. They aren’t anywhere in the house.

Snoops: Oh no!! I wonder if something happened to them? Who’s gonna feed us and take care of us? I am NOT going back to that shelter. They stuck me in a cage and all I could smell was dogs. And there is no Cat TV. And the food was awful!

Kommando: What about me? This was my only home. I was left at the side of the road.

Snoops: Don’t panic! It’s not a crisis yet. We still have dry food and water.

Kommando: I have a great idea!! We could use that computer thingy and order out.

Snoops: That is a great idea! And we can look for new humans too. When it gets cold again we’ll need someone to snuggle up against.

Kommando: OK, Snoops, you’re the one who spends all the time in here. What do we do first?

Snoops: Well, the first thing Dad does is push in that button. (points to “ON” switch).

Kommando: Oof (pushes with her whole body). Maybe it’s stuck. Mrrrrow! (Falls over as the computer turns on.)

(Hear somebody at the back door.)

Kommando: Run! That’s not our humans.

Male Voice: Here kitty, kitty. I’m here to feed you while your humans are out of town.

(Cats look at each other.)

Snoops: What do you think?

Kommando: Anyone could come in and say that. Maybe he wants to kidnap us and sell us to rogue Canadians to use as sled dog trainers.

(Snoops stares at Kommando.)

Kommando: What? It could be true.

(They hear a can of food being opened and sneak forward.)

Kommando: He doesn’t look too dangerous.

Snoops: Naw, I’ve seen him with the beta male. Just watch out for his feet.

Male: Oh there you two are! Here’s your food. I’ll change your water too.

Kommando: Should we trust him?

Snoops: I’m hungry! And he’s feeding us the right stuff. I’m eating.

(Runs over and starts to scarf down the food. Kommando sniffs her food and begins to eat.)

Kommando: Yumm! It’s our food. We won’t starve.

(They don’t notice the male leaving. The next day he appears about the same time. They greet him at the door, meowing.)

Male: Hi, cats! How’ve you been?

(Kommando rubs her head against his leg.)

Male: You’re so cute. No wonder your humans said they’d miss you while they were gone. They’ll be back in a couple of days.

(Snoops and Kommando look at each other. They wait until the male humans leaves.)

Snoops: They’re coming back! They’ll probably bring treats to make up for leaving us. I wonder where they went.

Kommando: Who cares? We should have a party to celebrate!

Snoops: Great idea! You send out the KittyChat, and I’ll check out what’s in the refrigerator and cupboards. Tell them to bring their own milk if they want it.

Snoops in Fridge 3

(Later)

Snoops: Kommando, how many people did you send that KittyChat to?

Kommando: Just our mailing list.

Snoops: Then why did so many cats come?

Kommando: Ummm – Well, I did tell them they could bring a friend if they wanted. I wanted to make sure they knew they could bring their mates. And I did tell them it was going to be awesome because the humans were out of town.

Snoops: We don’t know a gang of alley cats. There aren’t any alleys around here.

Kommando: They said you were cage-mates at the shelter. At least everyone’s gone before the neighbors saw.

Snoops: This place looks awful. We need to clean it up.

Kommando: Why? Most of the damage is outside. We don’t go outside. They’ll think raccoons did it.

Snoops: What about the house?

Kommando: They didn’t clean before they left. They’ll just think we did the rest because we thought they deserted us.

Snoops: You’re smarter than you look. Let’s take a nap.

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5

Cat Forum: The Toys of Summer

Moderator: Welcome back fellow mammals. Today we are once again joined by Super Snooper (SS) and Kommando Kitty (KK) to discuss a subject near to every cat’s heart: cat toys.

KK: Thank you for having us here today. I would just like to clarify today’s discussion will involve several matters related to summer, not just toys.

Moderator: But the focus will be on toys.

SS: Actually, that will be the first topic of several. We would also like to talk about vacations and grooming.

Moderator: My script says that we are going to talk about toys. So let’s get started. How are summer toys different from winter toys?

SS: They are a lot more active.

KK: And easier to catch. Those mice are fun, but they have too many places to hide. (Aside to SS: It would be easier if Mom cleaned more often. SS nods.)

Moderator: Could you be a little more specific?

KK: I think you know we live in an old farm house. It’s really cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Dad says that’s because we have old windows downstairs.

SS: He keeps saying he should fix them, but we really don’t want him to. You should see all the cool toys that fly and crawl in during the summer.

Moderator: You mean you have insects as toys in the summer? (grimaces)

KK: What’s wrong with that? You wouldn’t want them flying all over your house would you? Besides you’re the one who wanted to talk about toys.

Moderator: (knows he’s beaten) So what type of insects are we talking about?

SS: Well, the best are moths. They fly around enough so we get a lot of exercise chasing them.

KK: And they taste good. Nice and crunchy.

SS: Junebugs aren’t bad, but they’re a little slow.

KK: The humans seem to find them disgusting. If they see one, they get rid of it before we get to play much.

SS: Spiders aren’t any good. They’re not poisonous around here, but they spent a lot of time just sitting there.

KK: Flies are good. They’re really fast.

Moderator: So what do you do when you don’t have any bugs around?

KK: We sleep a lot.

SS: He means for entertainment.

KK: I sleep for entertainment.

SS: We watch a lot of Cat TV. The birds and squirrels are fun. And the little chipmunks run around a lot. We don’t go out, and mom won’t let them in the house, so we have to watch.

KK: There are big, humungous rodents out there too. We saw them on human TV at the beginning of February, but they’re on Cat TV every day. Mostly they wander around and eat. But they run really fast sometimes too.

SS: I don’t want to play with them. They have big teeth.

Moderator: Anything else?

SS: Well, since you asked. The humans are talking about leaving us alone for a week with someone coming to visit daily. What are we supposed to do without the humans to entertain us?

KK: I hear there are places where we can go for vacation too.

SS: Yeah, great. I was in a place like that before the humans adopted me. They’re full of big, smelly, noisy dogs.

KK: We could go with them.

SS: They could stay here.

Moderator: Well, enough of that. I think it’s time…..

SS: One more thing – I don’t want Mom to brush me all the time.

KK: But it feels good. And makes you shiny and smooth.

SS: I like my fur just the way it is, thank you very much.

Moderator: Before we close, I think you two have a big announcement to make.

SS: That’s right. Big changes are coming to the blog. We’ll still be around, but we’ll have more friends. More animals, fewer humans. Whispers: I don’t think the Moderator’s contract has been renewed.

KK: Mom’s even looking for a new theme. She’s says there doesn’t seem to be a lot to choose from for our type of blog. (Don’t worry. She’ll be around too.)

SS: So come back next time, and we’ll tell you all about it.

Snoops and Kommando Sleeping

0

I Don’t Remember any Vacation

A few weeks ago, I realized that my work anniversary was coming up soon, and I still had vacation time left. When I started at the store three years ago, that would have meant a decision between taking the time off and getting the extra money.

However, management has changed hands. Now you either use your vacation by your anniversary date or you lose it. There was no announcement of the change in policy, but it didn’t take many people losing the money for word to get around.

Studies have shown that vacations are good for productivity. I hope that the studies were referring to work productivity. Today is the last day of my vacation, and I honestly don’t remember how I spent most of the time.

I decided to take one of those vacations where you just stay around the house and relax. My husband was working and the kids had school, so I could just hang out.

Except for the newspapers everywhere. And the 10+ magazines laying around. And taking my son to his driving test. And picking up his “new” car. (It’s a ’72 VW Beetle, and it is SO cute!) And the meeting in Detroit. And needing to do church stuff.

And hundreds of e-mails. (I love you guys, but for some reason you never seem to write fewer posts just because I’m really busy. Gotta work on my telepathy.) Don’t tell me to read everything through my Reader. I rotate who comes by email because the Reader is full of other blogs that I look at occasionally. If I promised to read everything in my Reader, I would never look at much of anything.

So here I am on Sunday evening. I read a few of the magazines. I threw away some of the papers (after reading them). You can’t tell the difference. It still looks like we’re waiting to paper the walls with newsprint.

I caught up on all the Internet news services I follow. I’d forgotten just how depressing the news can be when you actually read the full stories. I may just go back to reading the headlines and celebrity gossip.

Could someone send me a note if ISIS makes it to Ankara or Ebola wipes out an entire nation? I don’t need to know if George Clooney and his new wife get pregnant with the world’s current cutest baby ever. Remember to mark it “Urgent”. I’m not sure how long it will take for the e-mailbox to overflow again.

I finished a book. Yay!!! That only leaves about hmmmm twenty-five or so to go. That does not include the ones on Kindle since I read those on breaks at work. I got caught up on the reading for my Monday night class.

If it sounds like I spent all my time on my rear, you are wrong. I also spent a couple of naps with the cats. They were amazingly friendly once they got over the trauma of me not getting up at 2:30a to feed them.

Kommando Kitty has learned that if I’m lying on the sofa using the laptop, she only has to try sending one email before I pick her up. She has also turned on Spotify a couple of times. (She has terrible taste in music.)

I did not get the yard ready for winter. I did not look for another job. I did not do one single thing that I will be able to tell people tomorrow when they ask what I did with my time off. And it’s great.

The really scary part is that I only really have trouble with my sinuses at work. At home, I am generally tissue-free unless there’s some kind of front coming through (you Michiganders out there know what I mean). But this morning I woke up with dry eyes and a semi-runny nose. The aching in my front sinuses is there too. MY BODY KNOWS IT’S GOING BACK TO WORK TOMORROW. And it’s not happy.

I see by the ads that some of the Halloween stuff is already on sale. Anybody in the market for a taco costume for your dog? How about some orange and brown chips for cookies. (I think they’re all chocolate, but it doesn’t come out and say that.)

The Christmas toys have been clogging up the back rooms for a while. The sooner you buy the Halloween stuff, the sooner we can all start complaining about the commercialization of Christmas. Time’s a-wasting.

3

Have I Ruined my Kids for Tourism?

I just got back from a vacation with my family. Basically being a slug, I had originally planned to go to the shore in Maine. I don’t know why, it just seemed like the thing to do. However, I realized that Maine is a long way from here, my kids don’t eat lobster, and I’m not really sure what else they do out there. So we decided to go to Williamsburg, VA, and the Smithsonian.

Being a history nut (I started out to get a degree in History but changed to Political Science because History majors have trouble finding jobs and Poli Sci majors are so much more marketable), it seemed like a good idea. The rest of the family thought so too. However, it seems that we have not done a good job in teaching our children to survive in the world of today’s tourists.

We have taught them that they should look at exhibits, ask questions if they have one, and move on. We wait patiently for the people ahead of us to move on and do our best to be polite. On this trip we discovered that these skills are no longer relevant, but the following skills are actually needed.

The ability to take as many pictures as possible of as many things as possible is important. It was tough to walk down the corridor between exhibition rooms at the Smithsonian without getting in the way of someone taking a picture of someone or something. It reminded me of the joke about the woman who couldn’t wait to get home to look at the pictures – she had been so busy taking them that she hadn’t had time to actually look at what was going on.

The best part was looking at the Hope diamond. It is displayed in a box which revolves so that it can be seen from all sides of the box. As I was getting close, I was pushed out of the way by a man who wanted to take a picture of it. Yes, actually pushed by a man who wanted to take a picture of something rotating in a bullet-proof box. It didn’t seem so strange after I noticed that I was the only one there without a camera. Seriously, you can get a better picture either in their magazine or on their website.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems to me that looking at thousands of somebody else’s vacation pictures on their phone is not a huge improvement over them having you over for dessert and showing their slides. Or maybe it’s a way for guys to get a girl close to him (or vice versa).

From what I saw, parents no longer teach their children about what they are watching. The kids come in for a couple of minutes, look bored, and leave. Or they come in, the parents look bored, and leave (which may be why they are not teaching their children). I wonder if some of the families came so the kids would have something for their “What I did Over the Summer” essays other than “I slept til noon then played on the computer until midnight”. The teacher probably wouldn’t be interested in hearing 30 kids report on their mastery of Blackhawk Down.

Or maybe they thought the information would be absorbed by osmosis. I knew someone in Jr. High who believed that sleeping with the book would increase their knowledge of the subject. (I’m not sure how that worked out for them.)

Some of us no longer have the patience to listen to the docent/interpretive guide. We were in one building where the poor woman tried multiple times to start talking as people came in, but they all walked past. I would have been tempted to trip some of them. It was an old church, and I think it would have been particularly unexpected there. But that is why I am stocking cheese rather than standing in heavy 18th century clothing trying to talk to people who don’t want to listen. (I do sweat less.)

There was one huge advantage to not being up-to-date on public practices. We were practically the only people who actually stopped at each exhibit to read the signs, listen to the people, and ask serious questions. There really weren’t many people around for us to worry about blocking their view or slowing them down.

And I finally know the difference between a musket and a fowling piece (or fowler).

1

“Earned” Vacation

So far, it has taken me three months to get permission to be gone five days. In May, I left a note for the previous team leader that I wanted to go on vacation at the end of August. The next day, she tells me she’s seen the note and it looks OK to her but she needs to double-check the vacation schedule. I assume everything’s fine (yes I can still be that naive). She goes on a medical leave for stress, comes back for a couple of weeks and quits. Just prior to her last day (first week in July), she tells me that because the vacation ends two days before Labor Day, I need to have her boss authorize it. He says it’s fine and takes the request (end of the process, right?).

I ran into my (new) team leader in the ladies’ room yesterday. She told me that we needed to talk about my vacation. We work a few hundred yards apart – she waits until now to talk to me? I realize that it’s called a rest room, but that’s just a polite term for what it really is. Once you’re out of high school, who wants to spend more time in there than you have to?

She starts out by telling me that it hasn’t been approved yet. She said she had to approve it (but there wouldn’t be a problem with that), and then her boss would have the option to reverse that approval. I told her that I had already talked to her boss. She said that didn’t matter, SHE had to approve it and would look into it that afternoon. So apparently she signs off, tells him, he thinks about it and says, “Wow, this looks kinda familiar, did I say yes or no when Cat asked?”

I have not taken a vacation in several years. The last time, all I had to do was tell the boss when I wanted to go, when I wanted to come back, and wait for them to say yes or no. At most places, it was just a formality. Who would have thought it would be tougher to give time off to someone who moves boxes and merchandise from place to place than to someone who is responsible for making sure a new client relationship starts out on the right foot? I guess I really am vital to the organization (please do not spit whatever you are drinking at the screen).

I complained about this to a work-friend (sometimes they’re better than real-world friends since you don’t have to spend 10 minutes setting the situation). She says to keep on top of it. One of the other women in the deli has been told that she cannot take a vacation between now and the end of the year because they are under-staffed. They seem to be positive that they will not be adequately staffed at any point during the next four months. (December doesn’t count in retail – no one goes anywhere.) Is it her fault that it’s such a miserable place to work that they can’t keep employees?

I guess I’m probably not being fair. We’ve had people out this summer for a broken rib, heart problems, and shoulder surgery. How can we be sure that no one is going to suffer some horrible accident in the near future and mess up our staffing again? After all, one woman is pregnant, and she’s probably going to want time off too.