Duchess has a small stuffed panda with obnoxiously large and sparkly eyes. He is cute. This is a highly valued commodity among today's youth--I blame manga art--I would have been embarrassed by such considerations when I was a child. But anyway, Poncho is a small panda who rides everywhere with one or the other of the children.
Having something that small and helpless and beloved is always a risk. During the chickenpox Poncho went missing for two miserable days, only to be discovered sitting in plain view on the side table.
Far more perilous was two weeks ago, when Deux had happily had him riding along in his shirt while he built forts in the woods only to realize he had vanished. Finding a small stuffie in a hundred yards of knee-deep brush proved to be a hopeless project and we bid Poncho a sad farewell. Until the next evening, when it turned out he had been sitting on the staircase under somebody's abandoned laundry the whole time.
Last weekend Poncho vanished again, and after a brief spat of searching it turned out that I was sitting on him. Well, if he *will* sit in the crack in the couch, he will get sat upon.
It does seem to be about time we got an animal that at least has some homing instinct, and we are planning to get a dog in the near future. Most of them are thrilled with this prospect, but there was a bit of skepticism. Until the day when they picked up a stray lab, fed it and took it for walks, and it spent the night. That was enough to win over all the skeptics. Unfortunately, at that point they found the owners. But we now have a stash of dog food and a leash and find the prospect just a little less intimidating.
Another milestone which has passed is equipping everybody with knives. I have been thinking about this for a long time, but confess I had anticipated nothing more exciting than standard pocket knives all round. DOB, who collects blades himself, had much grander notions, and gave everyone the chance to choose their own style from his extensive catalogs. Duchess chose a Bowie knife with an intricate handle, Deux a machete nearly as long as himself, which has the blackberries on the property trembling; Dot preferred a small green-handled blade that DOB already had in stock, while Dash practically chose a multi-tool which has 12, no 13, no 15 different uses, not counting clonking someone on the head with it. Actually so far everyone has been very responsible with them.