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No, I did not buy an alpaca at auction.  However…

This weekend the Boulder County Fairgrounds hosted the Alpaca Expo.  You may remember from our trip to the Stock Show this year how enamoured Kelsea and I were with the alpacas. Well, even though Kelsea chose to go to the Mall on Saturday, I decided to fly solo to see the critters. 

Empty Corrals at the Boulder County Fairgrounds

O. M. G.

Hello!

There is (almost) nothing I have found that makes me smile more than alpacas.  While the Expo was fairly small, I spent almost three hours there, just hangin’ with my alpaca peeps.  I made friends with several of the ranchers there to exhibit and I learned a lot of little tidbits.

But mostly, I just kind of hung on the railings of the little corrals and basked in the glow of the beasts.  I don’t know what it is about them, but they have amazingly soothing energy.  They are calm, expressive, curious, and gentle.  Kind of like me, but with more hair and bigger eyes.

Adorable Alpaca

I had such a wonderful time that Kelsea and I went back on Sunday.  And as an extra-added bonus, we went to an antique auction that was being held next door.  If you check out my Life List of Things Yet To Be Done (in Lists), you will see that buying something at auction was one of my life goals.  Well, not only did I buy something at auction, I bought somethingS at auction – namely, two pocket knives, a sword, a miscellaneous box of vintage hats, purses and gloves and an amazing piece of folk art – a flying pig, who told me his name was Homer. 

Homer In Profile

Homer From Above

My auction number was 339 and I was flapping my little card along with the other pros, aka, Pierre, George, Tommy and a lady whose shop we had visited in Cheyenne last Labor Day.  Anyway, the whole thing was AWESOME!  And here’s a sampling of the things that I – wisely, in my opinion – didn’t bid on.

Miscellaneous Brasses - I would have bid on this if we'd been there when it was up

Random Auction Items

Creepy Decapitated Doll Heads

Victorian Baby Shoes

Strange Vintage Glassware

As for the alpacas, well, as I said, we learned a lot.  And here are a few things we learned that I’ll bet you probably didn’t know either:

Alpacas are very social creatures.  You can’t have just one.

Just Saying Hello From Behind the Neighboring Curtain

Alpacas only have bottom teeth until they are about three years old, at which point they are ready to breed and get their fighting teeth.

Clinton Showing Off His Alpacas Bottom Teeth

 When they get bored, they chew things.

Dishevelled Beastie Eating the Rail

Alpacas’ adorable “Hmmmm” humming noise means they are stressed.  Or hungry.  But I guess being hungry can make you feel stressed.

Her Close-Up

Like many animals, they like to groom each other, and can often find leftovers in their Alpaca buddies.

I Love Eating My Friends Fur

The Suri is the most dominant type of Alpaca, although it is the least common type outside of South America.

Nancy Showing Off Champagne the Suri Alpaca

But there are also some interesting Vicuna-Alpaca mixes (and all alpacas (and llamas) are part of the camel family).

Alpaca-Vicunas

Alpacas chew their cud in a figure-eight shape.  And when they swallow a lump of cud (what’s that called?), they immediately bring up another one.  If you watch their throats, you can see the one coming down and the other coming up.

Cud-Chewing Cutie-Pie

Alpacas sit on all four legs, but when it’s very cold, they raise their hindquarters slightly off the ground to increase their warmth.

Seated Alpaca

Alpacas are raised for their fiber and for breeding – several people were weaving and spinning at the event.

Dyed Alpaca Yarn

Spinning

 

They don’t always like being touched on the head because their mothers generally nudged them on their heads to discipline them.  They prefer being touched on the neck.

Intertwined Alpaca Necks

And when a randy male alpaca tried to mount Perfection, he was decidedly put in his place by her spitting most firmly in his face after escaping his lascivious clutches.  She is a feisty little beauty.  No one can mount Perfection.

Perfection

Most importantly of all, they give amazingly awesome angel baby kisses.  Storm the big white alpaca kissed me several times.  (No tongue.) I felt truly privileged.

Storm the Kissing Alpaca

So it was a lovely weekend.  I even tried out Zydeco dancing on Friday night.  Not well, mind you, but it was new and fun and great exercise, so I think I’ll try it again.  And since the auctions happen once a month, we’ll definitely be back.  It will be THE place to furnish the new house!

Have a happy week!

Photo Title: Three Peaks

View of Tortola from the ferry to Jost van Dyke, British Virgin Islands.

Quote of the day: “A heart in love with beauty never grows old.”  —  Turkish proverb

Photo Title: What’s In There?

Jolly Roger, West End, Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

Quote of the day: “Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.”  —  Zelda Fitzgerald

I am indulging myself with The Bonnet Channel on this windy Saturday morning.  It’s one of my favorites – The Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn.  Big sigh for Errol Flynn – if only he hadn’t been such a dissipated rogue, although I guess that was a large part of his charm.  (I’ll write more about Erroll, and about Robin Hood, one of these days.)

Watching this film, set in 13th century – though I must say Hollywood seems to think that fashion in the 13th century was much more regal than I imagine it actually was – I started thinking about how and why the world has changed in to the last 900 years.  (Cue “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy” intro narration.)

It is hard to separate the idea of native intelligence from the intelligence of this technology-driven world in which we live.  I am certain that the men and women of the year 1266 were just as smart as we are today.  So why could they not figure out the things we have been able to in subsequent centuries?  We have always had the basic resources – which really come down to the four elements of which everything is composed, and from some variant/combination of which everything has been developed: earth, air, fire, water.

So were we just new enough that we were spending our evolutionary childhood figuring stuff out like infants and children do? I can’t get a peg on how long humans have been on earth; some sources say 200,000 years, others say 4,000,000, and still others guess any number before, after or in between.  If we’ve been around for four million years and we were still in our childhood 900 years ago, then we’ve had a serious growth spurt in the last few centuries.  Or else we’re now in our adolescence and we have an absolutely astounding adulthood before us.  Unless we burn ourselves out and leave a decent-looking corpse.

Anyway, the question is, were people intelligent enough 900 years ago to figure out things like how to make plastic or microchips or cars?  If so, why didn’t it happen then?  Were they just too busy trying to subsist from day-to-day?  I know most farmers don’t have the opportunity to spend their days or nights trying to create new inventions.  It seems that the issue is less the intelligence of people 900 years ago than it is their lack of leisure time.  But then the idle rich weren’t the ones who invented things – isn’t necessity the mother of invention?

Do you get what I’m thinking?  I’m not sure I’m expressing myself very well, but I’m going to put it out there for discussion as is.  I may come back to it later, once my brain has chewed on it some more. 

It’s nice having deep thoughts again for a change.  But it does help to have a dialogue about them.

Photo Title: The Edge

Jolly Roger, West End, Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

Quote of the day: “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”  —  Oscar Wilde

When I was in junior high (or middle school, as we called it), “they” built a mall about three miles from my school.  At that time, school was at the very edge of any commercial development – I think the closest sizeable business, aside from home-based little photo studios and woodworkers, was a grocery store. I believe it was a Piggly Wiggly. 

And of course, there was the 7-11 that was just on the other side of the school property line – you could sneak down the hill through the woods to get an Icee or Pixie Stix or Nik-L-Nips if you were brave enough to risk getting caught.

But suddenly, almost within our grasp, was South Square Mall.   Almost heaven.

My friends and I used to beg whatever parent was available to take us there after school and let us hang out.  And hang out we did.  We would shop idly – maybe buy a scarf, a record, an Orange Julius.  We would mill around the food court with its orange formica tables.  We would check out boys.  We would yell at each other from different levels of the mall.  We would play on the escalators.  We would shriek and whisper and laugh and wonder what schools other kids went to – other kids who were doing the exact same thing.

An abandoned adolescent memory - South Square Mall shortly before demolition in 2001.

Ah, the mall.  It provided a sense of adulthood and freedom.  Except for one instance, when I found myself trapped in the seatbelt of my best friend’s father’s pale blue Cadillac convertible.  It was one of those lap belts and it was completely jammed and I was completely trapped.  Fortunately, I was also completely skinny and after about 15 minutes of struggle, which included shedding my jeans, bruising my hiplets and sucking my stomach in so that it was flush with my spine, I was able to slide out from the top.  I amazed even myself.  I felt like a teenage female Houdini.

Fast forward 32 years.  Fly west 1700 miles west.  Turn my brown hair blonde and my green eyes blue.  And you have Kelsea, hanging out at Flatirons Crossing Mall with her friends.  Guess what they do?  They loaf around the food court, only this one has a fireplace.  They buy little things like smelly rubber balls.  They sample the goods at the Apple store.  They play on the escalators.  They shriek and whisper.  They follow people around.  They scope out cute guys.  They speculate on the identity of other students.  Hmmm….sounds so very, wistfully familiar.

Kelsea said, in the course of a conversation the other day, “Everyone gets thrown out of the mall once, right?”  It was a rhetorical question, and one she immediately regretted.  My response?  I looked at her.  And decided it was one of those follow-up questions best left unasked.  She needs to have some things to tell me later.

I do believe that one more torch has been passed.

Photo Title:  Chickens Doing What They Do

The question is…why? 

West End, Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

Quote of the day: “If one loves, one loves the whole person as he or she is, and not as one might wish them to be.”  —  Leo Tolstoy

A Perfect Plot

Her designs were
                intricately subtle
And oozed
                an innocuous innocence
As she lay
                a patient snake
                in secret garters
Awaiting her so-well-cultivated prey.

She flickered at the
                raw edges of his
                                trampled consciousness,
Flitting forked tongue
                and rattled tail
                                in and out
                                oh so gently
Casting herself
                as
the betrayed angel with the broken wing.

Yes,
Once she set her slit-eyed sights
                on him
She wove
and spun
                in shameless
                patient
                sweetness
Until it seemed to him
                a refuge
                                a rescue

Her sympathetic syllables
                laced with the merest touch
                                of undetectable
                                                strychnine
made him doubt
                his soul-full
                                feelings.

Poor man,
Deceived by honeyed
                insincere
                                independence
Blinded by sleek
                silvery
                strands of
                artfully crafted
                artifice
Until it is too late
                for him.

Photo Title: Roses and Stone

Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.

Quote of the day: “I can be changed by what happens to me.  I refuse to be reduced by it.”  —  Maya Angelou

I can’t remember if I’ve written about my favorite astrologer before – I think I tried to, and every time I tried to link to his website, my computer would crash.  Wierd.  But I’m going to try again tonight.

I’m not generally a big fan of astrology.  It’s mostly just amusing.  I know that in the days of yore (like the 17th century), astrologers often doubled as physicians or apothecaries, and used their astrological casting skills to predict the health and gender of unborn children, the outcome of serious illness, and a wide variety of other turns of fortune.  It’s small wonder that they were considered quacks by educated lords, while being honored and respected by the lower classes.

E-Bro went through a long period of doing astrological charts for people (me included).  He cast Kelsea’s chart shortly after she was born – I wish I still had the details, and no doubt I do somewhere, as I don’t recall much about it, but the things I do remember seem to be uncannily accurate, even if they weren’t quite the things that I wanted for her in a perfect world.  But they are exactly and perfectly her.

As for me, I idly toyed with “Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs” at the peak of its popularity (in my teens).  But I’ve never been one to put too much stock in the stars, at least not in the astrological sense.  However…

Some years ago, somehow, I discovered Rob Brezsny’s Free Will Astrology.  He seems to reach and touch and channel someplace up and away that speaks to me.  He’s so on track in his astrological parables and down-to-the-clouds advice that it’s spooky.  He’s also written a book that seems to be along the lines of www.tut.com’s Notes From the Universe.

Even if you’re the world’s biggest skeptic, I encourage you to check him out at www.freewillastrology.com.  As a little peek for my fellow Cancerians, here’s our horoscope for this week:

“In her essay “The Possible Human,” Jean Houston describes amazing capacities that are within reach of any of us who are brazen and cagey enough to cultivate them. We can learn to thoroughly enjoy being in our bodies, for example. We can summon enormous power to heal ourselves; develop an acute memory; enter at will into the alpha and theta wave states that encourage meditation and creative reverie; cultivate an acute perceptual apparatus that can see “infinity in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower;” and practice the art of being deeply empathetic. Guess what, Cancerian: The next six months will be one of the best times ever for you to work on developing these superpowers. To get started, answer this question: Is there any attitude or belief you have that might be standing in the way?”

I’m off to www.amazon.com to order both “The Possible Human” and Rob’s “Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.”  Self-help city, here I come.

February 2011
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