Llama T-Shirts


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Lally and Renny were almost a year old. We had sold Harmony, the female born right after them, as well as Pocahontas and Juliet. It felt wonderful to finally recoup our investment in llamas and still have five females, including these two lovely young maidens.

We trained them; we took them for walks. I was slightly more fond of Lally, while Kelly favored Renny, but both of them were delightful. Ever since we had weaned them, they had spent most of every day with each other.

After giving up our day hikes business, we were expanding another llama-related venture, Juniper Ridge Press. We already had one book–an earlier version of this one–and several videotapes. I was editing a packing book being written by our friend Stanlynn Daugherty and collecting information for another book of my own, Llamas for Love and Money.

When I wrote, I usually felt the hot breath of my writer parents, perfectionists both, as they leaned over my shoulder. Never mind that both had been dead for years. I still heard my mother, writer of engineering textbooks, telling me to be clearer and my father, science-fiction writer, telling me to be more imaginative.

Even so, I felt that finally, in my forties, I was doing what I wanted to do when I grew up. And I loved computers! Besides making the writing go more smoothly, they made it possible for me to do the typesetting and publishing myself.

Kelly’s passion for film had been with him since his early twenties. Now, with video equipment, he loved the freedom to make programs on a budget so modest that we could fund them ourselves. A far cry from the high costs of film! We both were aware that we couldn’t have created our little media business even a few years earlier. We were right on the edge of the technology. Our biggest problems were finding time to juggle all our projects.

We were only expecting one baby this summer, because we had sold Juliet, and Lil Bit hadn’t gotten pregnant again. Posey was due late in July. We were disappointed about Lil, but at least we could do some travelling together.

We went to a llama conference where I attended and Kelly videotaped a llama reproduction workshop put on by a llama researcher, Dr. LaRue Johnson. Then we continued across Oregon to the spectacular Wallowa mountains, where Stanlynn Daugherty operated her llama packing business. Kelly was collecting videotape footage for a packing program featuring her and several other llama packers. I would be better able to edit her packing book if I’d hiked with her. What better excuses could you want for a bit of adventure?

We went out with her and several other llama lovers on a “Learn to Llama Pack” trip. Several days of spectacular mountain scenery, outstanding food, and a group of llamas to hike with made for a memorable fourth of July weekend. Kelly got the video footage he wanted, and I learned all kinds of things that would go into the book.

It was a long drive home. “We’re so lucky to be doing what we love for a living,” I mused to Kelly as we drove through the Oregon desert.

“Yes,” he said. “Isn’t it partly a matter of being willing to take risks?”

“I guess so, but I don’t think of myself as much of a risk-taker.”

“You left your forty hours a week and reliable income at the public library.”

“Yea. I sure have missed the reliable income sometimes, but not the forty hours! There are too many things I want to do, to work full time.” I conveniently ignored the sixty-hour weeks we sometimes put in, between ranch work and our creative efforts. It felt different when you were doing it for yourself, and besides, there were also those weeks we didn’t get around to much of anything.

“I’ve been thinking,” Kelly said. He was driving, and even though I could see that he was watching the road, his eyes had a far-away look. I was instantly attentive. We’d been together long enough that I recognized that look. It was the look that preceded a trip he’d made to the Soviet Union. It was the look that preceded our hikes business. What had he been mulling over now?

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