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gracie's world 2004



Gracie's World, August 2004

August 1
Well, here we are on the Continent of Africa.


August 2
This was Bens idea. I do not wish to discuss it.


August 3
We were having our annual discussion concerning where to go for Summer Camp. We thought we had all greed that we were going to learn to fly helicopters.

However Ben was acting strangely. The skin on Bens back was twitching all over. Bens whiskers kept shiftinig at odd angles.

Then Ben stood up clutching his dinner napkin to his chest and he blurted I PREFER TO GO IN SEARCH OF MY NATIVE LAND.

It turns out that Ben already bought the airline tickets. Using Snooples money.

Anyways I do not wish to discuss it.


August 4
Sill on the Continent of Africa. In case anybody wants to know.

Have brought along Bufo and Xerxes my toads. As they are interested in International Travel. Bufo and Xerxes, they are setting on their little suitcases leafing through their guide books which are the size of postage stamps. They are wearing straw hats.

Ben is fiercely studying several maps. Ben is drawing lines and circles and various symbols all over those maps. Those lines and circles and symbols, they are a tangled mess.

Weakie and Nini and Snooples and Chessie are pitching the tents which are supposed to be Lion Proof.


August 5
In Africa it is very hot. Who would have ever guessed this. On the globe at school Africa is colored lime green which is a zesty and refreshing color.

In actuality there is nothing lime green anywheres in Africa as much as I can tell. Except for the snake which at this moment is swallowing Bens accordion.


August 6
Trudging across a abandoned and crumbled old airstrip past a airplane skeleton and a sagging sofa.

Internet does not appear to be working on PawPilot.

That sofa, it is populated with naked mole rats.

Those naked mole rats, they are poking of various holes in the sofa. They are peering at us through ornate opera glasses.

Oh there are some lions. They are skulking past us, pausing occasionally to peer through high powered binoculars at a flock of large-footed birds which are shaped like champagne bottles on stilts. Those birds, they are the color of pea soup.

Those lions, they are wearing expensive L.L. Bean vests with zippers all over and bulging game pouches in the back.


Buzz off kid we are birding.


August 7
Trudging across a endless beige plain dotted with trees which have the girth of corn silos. Those trees, they appear to be planted upside down.

We are wearing scratchy backpacks which Ben ordered from a military surplus catalog. These backpacks, I believe I know why they are surplus. These backpacks, they weigh approximately 300 pounds each. Also they squeak.

Bufo and Xerxes are hopping alongside carrying their little suitcases.


August 8

Homeless! Homeless! All night a-sleeping on the Midnight Plain!

That is what Snooples and Chessie have been singing for hours and hours. On account of we are still traversing this beige plain.

Nini is marching authoritatively out ahead carrying her big white patent leather purse and wearing a enormous puffy white fur coat. That coat, it makes Nini resemble a large roll of toilet paper.

There go some elks. At least I belive they are elks. They have horns anyways.

I will look in my Amazing Creatures of the World field guide.

Oh they are Yaks. At least I believe they are Yaks.


August 9
Continuing to trudge across interminable beige plain. Backpacks squeaking and squeaking. Gerbils leaping right and left to get out of our way.

Bens backpack is squeaking especially loud.

However Ben, he does not notice. Ben is wearing earphones and is listening to twinkly sounding music on Chickenloafs portable CD player which Chickenloaf painted pink and has festooned with Partridge Family stickers.

I will lift one of Bens earphones to find out what that music is and then I will let the earphone snap back onto Bens ear.

It is Simon and Garfunkel.


August 10
Rubbing sunscreen on toads.

Chickenloaf is playing THE BRITTLE FOOT RAG on her upright piano. We have brought Chickenloaf's piano along on a large cart and must unload it each time we stop so that Chickenloaf can enjoy her piano playing. Eleven of the 14 African guys who are our guides, they pull this cart. The other 3 guides, they creep out ahead toting large guns.


August 11
Have pinchy headache. Bens backpack squeaking and squeaking and sqeaking and squeaking and squeaking.

One of the wooden wheels on the cart which carries Chickenloafs piano, it is also squeaking. In fact, it is wobbling half off the axle. This causes the cart wander off to one side in the manner of a arthritic old dog.

The African guys pulling the cart, they seem to be in a very bad mood. They do not say much. Snooples is patting those African guys. Snooples is giving those African guys Mars Bars. They are moodily unwrapping their Mars Bars.


August 12
Still treading across beige plain with gerbils leaping in all directions out in front. The soles of Snooples flipflops which have the blue plastic pansies across the straps, they are squashed flat and they are stuck full of little stones on the bottoms.

Ninis chinchilla hat is attracting various kinds of weird moths.


August 13
Found a old crushed Land Rover which was home to a family of wild pigs today.

Guides are threatening to cook Ben and serve Ben with cicadas. If Bens backpack does not stop squeaking.


August 14
Taking a little break from crossing beige plain. Chessie is napping on top of a ant hill.

Chickenloaf is getting some Lions autographs. Chickenloaf has gotten 14 Lions autographs so far. Also some Leopards and some Cheetahs and some Ocelots plus a goat. However it was only a ordinary goat.


August 15
In some weirdo forest where the leaves are as large as area rugs and everything drips. Snooples is playing a tiny xylophone.

Those African guides, they are out hunting Caribou.

Here it is. No here. Wait...

Ben is muttering excitedly to himself and is poring over his dozens of maps. Bens whiskers are pointing straight ahead. Ben feels that we will have found his Native Land by next Thursday.


August 16
Slogging through forest wearing our Wellingtons. Except for Chessie who is wearing boots with jangly metal buckles which Chessie refuses to buckle. So those buckles, they jangle and jangle. Which irritates the leopards.

All manner of colorful snakes dangling from the trees.

Those snakes, they are peering at us through the thick lenses of their eyeglasses.


August 12, 2004

Dear Charlie,

Please would you take Blackie out for some exercise. I forgot to set him outside in his little play yard before we left.

Also you might be interested to know that all the animals in Africa are heavy smokers. I guess it is the stress.



P.S. Snooples says also would you take Iron John out in his little wagon.

P.P.S. Chessie says to tell you she is bringing home a pet leetch. His name is Joe.


August 17
Crossing a slender and swaying rope bridge high over a dark chasm.

Snooples and Chessie are singing Homeless! Homeless! once again.


August 18
Chessie has fainted from the heat and is lying in a tragic pose. Weakie and Ben and Nini are fanning Chessie with colorful beach towels. Those beach towels are making a awful rumpling racket. It is irritating those Cape Buffalo standing over there. Or maybe it is the piano music. Anyways, those Cape Buffalo, they are scowling in our direction and they are grinding out their cigarettes under their hoofs.


August 19
A column of rather large ants is trundling past.

Those ants, they are carrying all manner of items high over their heads in a jubilant manner. One of those ants, it is carrying a entire cake which says HAPPY BIRTHDAY TATA BOANDIKUTI. There goes a ant carrying a box of plastic dinnerware. There goes a ant carrying a neatly folded picnic blanket. Other items are a treadle sewing machine, a wooden duck decoy, a air cleaner from a Volkswagen...

Ha ha ha there goes a ant carrying Chessie who is asleep.


August 20
Slogging through a swamp which is waist deep and features half-submerged shiny white skeletons of various types.

Some large blatting animal stomping toward this direction.

Oh there is a Wooly Mammoth. I thought they were all dead.


August 21
Standing at the edge of a large sluggish river the color of Ovaltine.

River appears to be mostly crocodiles. Those crocodiles, they are stacked on top of one another. Dozens of pairs of large gold crocodile eyes with slit pupils are following our every movement.

Those African guides, they are unloading Chickenloafs piano for the 86th time.


That is what those African guides say.

Now Chickenloaf is playing TURN ME INTO BANJO STRINGS WHEN I DIE-OH.

Those crocodiles, they have moved a little closer. Those crocodiles, their eyes are following Chickenloafs gleaming white gloves pattering along the keyboard.


August 22
A group of large spiny fish carrying chainsaws just buzzed past on the rivers surface.

Apparently we are waiting for some kind of boat which was supposed to show up 3 days ago. Then we will travel up the river to Bens Native Land and then catch a flight home.

Am trying to clean PawPilot with jackknife as PawPilot has become moldy.

Chickenloafs piano also is moldy. It has a sort of spongy sound. Chickenloaf likes this.


August 23
Snooples is patting the African guides. Snooples is handing out Twinkies to the African guides. Those African guides, they are squatting amongst their own bare knees and they are enjoying those Twinkies.

Am rather glum on account of keep thinking about how we could be learning to fly helicipters right now. Instead of sittiing next to boring river counting leeches which float by on drifting logs and wave at us.

Chessie has caught a large leech and is putting it in a sandwich bag with some leaves.

Those African guides, now they are hollering over at me.

Ou est Tete Broule Avec Les Cigarettes?

That is how those African guides refer to Pia. On account of Pia, she is always smoking with those African guides.


Those African guides, they seem to think that is very funny.


August 24
Still waiting for damned boat. Which may not even be real.

Ben is standing at the water's edge with his arms spread out wide. Ben is speaking in a solemn manner to the river. Ben is calling that river Brother River. The crocodiles, they appear to be very interested in this.

Uh oh. Chessie is out in the middle of the river standing on a crocodile's head. Chessie is looking very bored. Chessie is poking another one of the crocodiles with a stick.

Apparently this is making the crocodiles rather restless. They are fidgeting. They are slapping their tails.


Chickenloaf just launched into playing THAT OLD TOILET SEAT OUT IN THE YARD at top volume. Pia is whacking a snake into chunks with a machete.

Now Chessie is on the other side of the river peering into a big hole in a tree trunk. Chessie is reaching her arm all the way into the hole in the tree trunk.


August 25
Traveling sluggishly up river on boat. This boat, it is actually a old flatbed trailer with styrofoam beer coolers lashed underneath. The wheels, they dangle under the water. African guides, they are pushing this boat along with small trees which they have whittled. Water is lapping over the edge on all sides.

A large paisley bird just swooped screeching overhead.

Chickenloafs piano is setting in the middle of the boat. Chickenloaf is playing DON'T IT MAKE MY BROWN EYES BLUE. The African guides, they are swaying dreamily and they are singing along.

Everyone else is napping. Snooples is twitching wildly in her sleep.

Chessie has rolled herself around and around in a cocoon of mosquitoe netting. Only Chessies ears stick out.

Chessie has just rolled off the boat.


August 26
River continues to be a vast accumulation of pairs of crocodile eyes.

At least anybody who falls off the boat does not drown, as merely falls upon the crocodiles. As we discovered regarding Chessie yesterday evening.

Perhaps that is the job of the crocodiles. Perhaps they are lifeguards.


August 27
Crossing over land once more. Toads are snapping photos with their miniature Leicas.

Snooples is handing out little bags of salted cashews to the African guides. Those African guides, they are laughing and enjoying their salted cashews. Those African guides, they are telling quantum physics jokes.

Chickenloafs piano is listing at a disconcerting angle.


August 28
Camping next to a road sign which says


Ben is pressing his shirt collar with a small battery operated steam iron. Snooples and Chessie are smoothing out matching plaid pinafores.

Supposedly we shall arrive in Bens Native Land tomorrow in time for High Tea.

Chickenloaf is playing I GOT WORMS YOU GOT WORMS EVERYBODY GOT WORMS. Those African guys, they are dancing in a leaping sort of way.

Now Chickenloaf is playing LAY DOWN THAT OLD GARDEN HOSE.

The African guys are singing along mournfully.

Nini is airing out everyones winter coats. Nini is stringing up everyones winter coats largest to smallest on a clothesline tied between two scabby trees with pygmy marmosets clinging all over the branches.

Now Chickenloaf is playing a Elton John song. Those African guys, they are slow dancing.


August 29
Counting abandoned military vehicles along edge of dusty rutted road. Those military vehicles, they are festooned with some species of plant which resembles zucchini vines. Those vines, they have flowers the size of bicycle wheels which stink to high heaven. Those flowers, they contain little puddles of water teeming with small purple squeaking frogs.

Those frogs, they are squeaking that Walla Walla Bing Bang song. I guess that is a big hit over here.


August 30
Well, here we are supposedly in Bens Native Land.

There are five huts with satellite TV dishes on the roofs and notes thumbtacked to the doors which say GONE TO SOCCER MATCH. BACK WEDNESDAY.

However, Ben is shaking his head in dismay. Ben is saying No No This is not it.

So I guess it is not Bens Native Land.

We will move on at dawn.


August 31
Have discovered interesting little park of some type.

This little park, it is encircled by dinner forks stuck handle-first into the earth with bleached mouse skulls impaled on the tines. There is a dark little hut with a rotting roof in the center of the little park. That little hut, it reeks of death and dismay.

Weakie is spreading out a picnic lunch.

There is a sign that says ADMITTANCE: 5 EUROS. What the hell is a Euro I wonder.

I will go knock on the door of that Airstream over there. I bet that is the office. They will have a guidebook or something.

Chessie just wandered into that dark little hut with the rotting roof.


August 31 (Different Time Zone)
On airplane the size of Australia.

Homeless! Homeless! All night a-sleeping on the midnight plane!

That is what Snooples and Chessie are singing.

Horizon curving off in various directions. Perhaps Earth is spherical after all.


August 31 (Different Time Zone)
Still on large airplane.

Snooples is drawing pitchers of lions and cheetahs in her diary with the little lock and key attached to it. Chessie is sound asleep. Chessie is draped across the laps of two nuns.

Ben is fretting over his maps which are every which way in his lap. Apparently Ben consulted the wrong maps. Bens native land is not actually on the Continent of Africa after all.

Chickenloaf is showing a enormous stack of photographs of our trip to three gentlemen wearing business suits and turbans.

Here we are petting a rhinosaurus! Here we are next to a vending machine in Goma!

Those gentlemen are smiling appreciatively. They are holding each photograph up to the light. They are nodding approvingly.


Ben has buried his face in his paws. On account of his little packet of airline peanuts is stale.


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