Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Why Didn't I Visit My Sister This Week?

Ok, ok, ok! I know it's mid-February and I know I'm in Ohio. But, come on, 19 degrees, 20 mph winds and snow? Last week it was in the 50's and I know that overall, we have had a very mild winter and I shouldn't be complaining, but...

Even the alpacas whose place of origin is in the high mountains of Peru, are hunkering down inside their cozy barns and bungalows, and are nowhere to be seen.

Last week, during the milder weather the animals, in particular the two little boys, Mocha and Dio, were feeling a touch of spring fever. With the longer daylight hours and the sparse grass exposed in the pastures, the entire herd was spending most of each day outside in the pastures. One afternoon, Rich and I strolled around the end of the barn to find the boys neck wrestling, chest butting and generally frolicking in the barnyard. You can't help but laugh at those two frisky, young alpacas.

Mild mannered Mocha, a year older, outweighs young Dionysus, who is definitely the instigator in most cases. Because of his sweet nature, Mocha, never seems to play too roughly with the little guy. They seem to be good company for each other. It's a good thing that they do because it keeps them from agitating their mother, Mango, who is in the pasture with them. Soon that situation will have to change for two reasons. In another month it will be time to wean Dionysus. At about that same time I expect Mocha to begin showing serious signs of having male hormones. Both of them will have to be separated from Mango for obvious reasons and our only other male is herdsire, Nikko. Now that he has had a chance to "romance" the females, Nikko is under the impression that he is the "king" of the herd. He tends to be a little hostile toward the younger males and so they can't be put into the pasture with him lest he harm them. Since these two younger guys have been living in the same pasture for some months and are used to each other, we should be able to put them together in their own pasture.

A few weeks ago before my trip to Florida, I had the chance to do a spinning demonstration for a daycare/preschool center in a town where I taught for many years. I always enjoy teaching the little ones about alpacas and the uses for their fleece. I have samples of cleaned and carded, un-spun fleece, otherwise known as roving, for them to touch and play with and several knitted scarves and shawls for them to hold. I show them pictures of our alpacas and tell them a bit about the size and nature of the animals. Far and away the most fascinating part of the short demonstration for the kids is the spinning wheel and the magic of spinning fleece into yarn.

I always make a point of letting each child come to the wheel and make it go around. They seem to like the feel of pedaling first one foot then the other, much the same as their tricycles, and watching the wheel spin faster and faster. I hope it impresses some of them enough to want to give real yarn spinning a try when they are older.

At the end of every presentation I answer questions and then we pose together for pictures that I can post on the blog and they can hang in their classroom.

I want to thank my old friend, Gayle, the director of the daycare, for giving me the opportunity to visit with and talk to the kids.

Monday, February 1, 2016

February 1

This is the kind of day when you can sit inside looking out at the sunny sky and almost imagine that spring is near. Even the daylight hours are getting longer causing the birds to sing in the mornings. But the fact remains that this is Ohio and it's still winter for a couple of more months. The weather report for tomorrow is calling for a high of 51 degrees F and 60 to 100 percent chance of rain in our area and a whopper of a snow storm in states west of us. I doubt that the proverbial ground hog will see a shadow tomorrow. Yep! It's still winter in Ohio.

I really don't have reason to complain since I just got back from a week in Florida visiting my sister. In late December, noticing that I was a little down after the holiday, Rich made the off hand suggestion that I might go visit my sister. He didn't have to say it twice. I found cheap tickets the next day and made the reservation!

I flew into Punta Gorda where my sister, Laurie,  picked me up and we drove north to visit my niece, Anne, in St. Petersburg for a couple of days. Anne and her husband, Drew, were the perfect hosts, allowing us to stay with them in their renovated bungalow. They have done the work themselves and their home is charming. I got to check off one of my bucket list items when we all piled into the car and spent a day in Tarpon Springs. That's the gulf side village where Greek sponge fishermen settled during the 1890s and today it has the largest concentration of people of Greek background of any US city. It was like stepping into a tourist town in Greece where all of the natives were speaking Greek to each other. We met a lovely woman in the Greek import shop who gave me some advice and information to look for when researching my grandfather's background. Of course, we dined on a delicious Greek meal in one of the many Greek restaurants.

Back in Ft. Myers Laurie's friends were all so welcoming and gracious. I was entertained at a community lasagna dinner by the lake in her condo complex and later a tapas party with a small gathering of neighbors. Laurie and I did lunch one afternoon with her friend, Gloria, a lovely woman. The afternoon before I came home we went to a charity fashion show/luncheon with 11 of her friends at a country club nearby. Even with all of the social engagements I still had time for yoga on Laurie's upper deck, a few morning strolls about the neighborhood, reading on the lanai and enough shopping to last me until spring arrives in Ohio.

The weekend before I left for Florida, Rich and I celebrated our 15th anniversary by spending a night in one of our favorite hotels, The Dearborn Inn, and going to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Like I said before, I really have no reason to complain about the winter. It has been very mild this year compared to the past two years and I have had plenty of distractions.

Dearborn Hotel

We have been to the Henry Ford several times and still I learn something new each time we go. There is just so much to see. Rich and I were clowning around in one of the children's exhibits and I got him to pose in the giant hot dog bun beside the Oscar Meyer Weiner-mobile. That's one big hot dog!

We have noticed that with the longer hours of daylight and the milder temperatures, our two little boys, Mocha and Dionysus, have been feeling frisky. Both of them are kicking up their heels and chasing each other about the pasture. Little Dio has hit that stage in his development where he behaves like a toddler and is unable to walk anywhere. He will suddenly jump and twist in the air and take off running for no apparent reason. Just because he can. They are so cute at this stage and always make me laugh at their antics.

Mango and her boys