Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lovin’ Llamas and the Importance of Paint

Anyone can take their dog for a walk, but how about walking a llama?! Our small group caused quite a stir as we walked llamas through a Yorba Linda neighborhood, across a few streets, on an adjacent trail (usually used by horses), past the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace, then into a park. What fun!
The owners of ShangriLlama Walks, who were our guides, first helped the other four llama walkers and me to get acquainted with the five llamas that we were going to take turns walking for the next three hours. Note: The llamas aren’t ridden, but walked. Each of the llamas, we discovered over the course of the morning, has a unique personality as well as being distinctive in size, coloring, and age. They range from 1 ½ years old to 10 years old and can live until they are 20 to 25 years. The llamas include a white llama with almost mystical-looking blue eyes who was rather sweet. This one is named Dalai Llama. The dark brown llama, named Barack O’Llama, was very easy going. Como T. Llama is a reddish-color animal who definitely was the frisky one in the group. The multi-colored llama with regal bearing is named Bahama Llama. Lastly, the two-toned one with some spots is the self-appointed leader (sorry, Barack) of the pack, named Pajama Llama. (Great names, huh?) Pajama also made strange noises that sounded like moaning, although it’s officially called humming. Hmm.

We stroked the llamas heads, necks, and backs, losing our hands in the softness and thickness of their hair. Then, we took the reins of "our" llama and gently pulled on the rope to get them (and us) started on the outing. I started off with Barack and kind of fell in love. (With Barack, the llama!) He seemed curious about the scenery as he looked everywhere with his expressive, big, brown eyes topped with the longest of eye lashes. He stopped every now and then to nibble at the grass and other plants, and to look at people, cars, and the world around him. He also stopped occasionally to roll (over and over) in the dirt.
As we walked along the trails and streets, we learned about llamas by watching them, interacting with them, and via the owners who dispensed lots of llama facts. We learned that llamas have three stomachs, have a split lip, are born during the day while mothers stand up to give birth (which sounds rather painful!), are shaved once a year and are social creatures. We also learned that they poop in pellets that don’t smell and which are good fertilizer for roses; they have rectangular pupils; they are mostly from South America; baby llamas are called crias; and lots more. This is my favorite way to learn - hearing information while living the experience.
ShangriLlama Walks got started because the owners then 12-year-old son became interested in llamas - so interested that he wanted to raise them. Being good parents, Sharon and Paul went along with it and helped their son start this business. Along the way, they learned a lot. One of the things they learned is that llamas can be great pets; llamas don’t spit unless really aggravated (kind of like humans); they are fairly easy to care for; and they make people smile. OK, yes - I kind of want a llama now! These particular llamas were hand-picked because they were friendly and represent almost the gamut of colors within the llama family.
We stopped off at a park and tied the llamas up to trees, so while they munched on leaves, we ate our own tasty lunch. Our picnic lunch, which is provided with the cost of the llama walk, consisted of a variety of deli sandwiches on fresh rolls, chips, gourmet salad, and homemade chocolate chip cookies. Yum! It was a refreshing and delicious break.
We then continued on our journey walking past the Army One helicopter at the Richard Nixon Library, past the front of the building, across the street, and onto the trail that led towards home.
Our day was beautiful. We enjoyed the leisure walk on the dusty pathway, being with and leading the llamas, and meeting new friends along the way. The llamas attracted a lot of attention so joggers stopped to ask questions, kids wanted to pet them (and were allowed to), dogs barked (OK - not everyone was really friendly), and horses wanted to nuzzle with them.
Why come on a llama walk? Maybe you love animals, maybe you want to do something different, or maybe you want to celebrate an occasion, like a birthday. Whyever you do it, it is a walk to remember.
What: ShangriLlama Walks
Where: Yorba Linda
Contact info: (661) 221-5813 /
(Disclaimer - Always, always, ALWAYS call first as hours and prices can fluctuate!)
Hours: Saturday, 9am - noon; Sunday, 4pm - 7pm.
Admission: $50 per person (recommended for ages 12 and up)

I painted our dining room last week. Well, I actually painted several walls, several times, several different colors; about fifteen different colors. (Anyone need some paint?) Years ago when I painted the room I painted it a deep peach, almost salmon color, which everyone who came over wrongly called pink. I don’t like pink, so the walls were peach - really. Sometimes it’s hard to be the only one who is right!
I had sponge-painted the inset, where the windows are, a funky green. It had been my first attempt at sponge painting, so it really didn’t look very good.. Probably not the best room to try something new on that didn’t work as it’s the very first room that people see. (How important are first impressions, really?!) And the funky green color didn’t help.
After years of staring at these peachy, green splotchy walls, I suddenly realized at dinner one night last week - I really don’t like them. They were not attractive. I asked my family and guests what color I should paint the walls and got as many answers as there were people; none of them were the same. Yellow, purple, blue, peach (they were peach, already!), green, brown, etc.
Over the next few days I tried most of the color suggestions and/or variations of them. I even got creative and mixed colors together when I couldn’t find just the right tone. (And we all know that mixing colors is easy to replicate and purchase!) The yellow was too bright, not like cheery sunlight was flooding in, but like I was living on the surface of the sun. So I, picturing a sunset, mixed the yellow with a peach. The result? Like someone’s stomach insides were now on my walls. I then tried just a softer peach on the walls and discovered that the color was more like fleshtone. Now the room looked like skin - kind of creepy to sit in skin. The brown was too dark and made the room seem smaller. One green, that looked so pretty on the small little sample card and under the store light, look sickly pea green actually up on the walls. Red is my favorite color, but a little too in-your-face for the peaceful ambiance I was searching to create for the dining room. Grey looked institutional, which might fit our family best if color reflects a family’s true colors. Beige and tan were too blah.
I knew exactly what I wanted (obviously!) - a pretty color in and of itself, that could stand alone and declare - "I am a beautiful color, worthy of admiration simply because I am here"; a color that made visitors feel welcomed, accepted, and loved the minute they walked in the door; a color that embraced the morning sun and spread happiness and joy on the walls, and at night time set the mood for harmony and relaxing, as well as stimulating thought-provoking conversation; and a color that would go with my current accessories since I had now purchased so much paint I didn’t have money left to buy other decorations. Maybe this is too much pressure for any color!
On the third day (and yes I have a life outside of painting the house, I just lost it for a few days) I was heading towards a meltdown. My family, who would eat quickly (so they could leave quickly) in the multi-colored striped room that screamed "there is an insane woman living in this house" started avoiding eye contact with me. My youngest son took pity on me. He listened to my anguished tale of woe, of how much this room meant to me and why color choice was important to me (for the fortieth time). He listened to me describe the exaltation I felt when I was in the store, picking out color chips and paint, knowing that this one, this very one, was the right choice this time; absolutely. He listened as I described the depths to which I plummeted when I painted the wall and lo and behold, it, too, was horrible. Basically, he listened to me. (It is nice to be loved.) Then, he picked out a really pretty color green, a mix between celery green and apple green, that gently transitioned colors in the morning, afternoon, and evening light that filtered through my dining room windows. How pretty! How perfect! Could it be? Could this be the one? YES! At the very least, it was good enough and I was really tired of painting.
Twelve hours later, after taping the windows, baseboards, and ceiling (which I definitely did not want this lovely color green) and painting at least two coats (to cover the many other colors that desperately tried to show through), I was done. Finished. And happy about it the way the room looked. My oldest son remarked that if an archaeologist were to uncover our house years from now and looked at all the layers of paint, he would assume that many, many (many!) families had lived here. He would be wrong. Living here is just one happy family (i.e. when mom’s happy, everyone’s happy) who now sit and dine with friends in an inviting and peaceful atmosphere, enjoying lively conversation and getting caught up on the day’s happenings, and sharing dreams together.
Out of the corner of my eye, I do notice the adjacent living room, whose walls look a little shabby in comparison to the dining room. . . .

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival." C. S. Lewis

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