Sunday, August 31, 2008

Alpacas and Llamas

Yesterday Beth, her son, John, and I went to Lansing to the LlamaFest which is a show for llamas, but they were also showing a few alpacas. There were some vendors there selling products. We visited a while with my dear friend, Kathy. She is making some very stylish hats and purses from alpaca fiber.

Today it occurred to me that many people confuse alpacas and llamas. Until yesterday, I would just say that llamas are much bigger - sometimes up to 500 pounds. But folks are breeding miniature llamas now which are in the same 150 to 200 pound range of alpacas. Probably the best way to tell them apart is the shape of their ears. You can see by the picture above that Gunny's ears are erect and sort of a spear shape, but the llama below and on the left has ears that tip in toward each other.

They are similar in many ways. Both are members of the camelid family.
Their gestation is about 11 months and they have similar life spans. Both llamas and alpacas are induced ovulators which means they can be bred just about any time. Most folks think that alpacas and llamas originated in South America, but studies have shown that these camelid were originally from North America and migrated south.
It's a stretch of my imagination to realize that these cuddly creatures are family members of the camels.

Friday, August 29, 2008


I haven't posted here in over a month because my world has pretty much turned upside down. On July 9, my husband was diagnosed with colon cancer which had progressed to his liver. Six weeks were spent having colonoscopies, CTs, MRIs, transfusions, IVs, and hospital stays. Finally on August 13th, he called at 7 a.m. from the hospital and said that he had enough and just wanted to come home. I called Dr. Stefanek at his home and asked if he would discharge Smitty when he went in to do his morning rounds. By the time I got there at 9, Doc had made all the arrangements and had Hospice folks ready to help me out.
Smitty died on August 21st, a week and a day after he came home.
My son from Pennsylvania was here the whole time and he and I were bedside when Smitty passed over. One daughter, Terre, was living here. The other daughter, Nikki, lives over an hour away but managed to get home frequently. Hospice was incredible and I wonder how folks could ever handle the ordeal without them. Doctor Stefanek would drop in to comfort not only Smitty, but us. And my friend, Beth, was my stability and rock. In her nonintrusive way, she was alway here checking on me. Damn! Friends are Great!
The funeral was yesterday and I'm just starting to reflect on the kindness and love that has poured from friends and even folks that I hardly know. The church was packed, we have a mountain of cards, the freezer is stuffed with casseroles, my frig is jammed with meats, cheezes and salads.
We established a scholarship/memorial fund with the high school where he was principal and even though we haven't actually counted, it looks like a few thousand will be given to a deserving student.
I hope that this post hasn't been depressing or morbid. Life is Good and death is a natural part of it. Although at moments I have periods of overwhelming sadness, I am ready to resume my place in this world with my family, animals, and friends.