Alpacas and Llamas and Pacha Mama

Alpacas and Llamas Moyo's Journey

A Spittoon of Alpacas: Friends of Moyo
Alpacas and Llamas Moyo's Journey

Today is Alpaca Day.
On the Blue page of “Moyo’s Journey” we see a pair of inquisitive llamas – close relatives of the alpaca, but with a few differences.
Here are some fun facts about these Friends of Moyo:

Alpacas have short spear-shaped ears and blunter shaped faces while the lengthier faced llama has longer, banana shaped ears. Llamas also have less hair on their heads and faces than alpacas.
Alpacas are shorter at around 35″ high, weighing less than half of their taller cousins, who can tip the scales at as much as 400lb and stand at around 43”.
For more than 5,000 years alpacas have been bred for their coats (and in Peru for meat as well), while llamas have traditionally been bred as pack animals and for their meat.
Alpacas produce a finer and greater quantity of fleece than llamas, in a wider variety of colors. The alpaca also produces more fleece than its larger cousin and in a much greater variety of colors. Llamas also generally do not have as much hair on their head and face as alpacas do.
While Alpacas are herd animals – I like to call the collective noun a spittoon – llamas are more independent creatures and are often used as guard animals for alpacas, sheep, and other small livestock.
Oh and they all love sunbathing!

A bit of history…
I found this story from Andean mythology and thought I would share it here:
According to both the Aimara and Quechua-speaking peoples of South America, the ancient world was comprised two superimposed worlds, the upper and the lower.
The lower world was populated by enormous herds of plump, sleek alpacas belonging to the Apu, or mountain god, and were tended to by his daughter. The alpacas of the upper world, by contrast, were far fewer in number and were inferior in quality, with only a short fleece
Because the Apu’s daughter had difficulty in protecting her alpacas from the region’s numerous predators, her father arranged for her to marry a young herdsman from the upper world who could help her tend these herds. The Apu’s daughter and her husband lived contentedly in the lower world for a while until the young herdsman began to grow homesick. He told his wife that he wished to return to his own world, and to enrich it with the lower world’s herds of alpaca.
The mountain god’s daughter agreed and, collecting her alpacas, began traveling via the springs and lakes to live with her husband in the upper world. Her father’s only condition to his daughter’s marriage was that her husband was always to take good care of the herds and especially of a tiny alpaca that always had to be carried. Sadly, the daughter’s husband proved to be lazy and one day dropped the tiny alpaca on the ground, leaving it to fend for itself.
When his wife saw this she took fright and immediately ran to the nearest spring and began swimming towards the lower world. The alpacas followed her, although a few were prevented from doing so by the herdsman.
Ever since, the alpacas of the upper world have remained near springs and lakes. There, they continue to yearn after their mistress who, as yet, has never returned.
The myth of the origin of alpacas contains a basic lesson that is still understood by Andean herders today – in the beginning life was difficult, by the grace of the mountain gods, alpaca herds increased, the world became fertile and life for a time became leisurely. Mankind then disobeyed the gods’ wishes, causing the herds to decline so that now they must be tended to continually.”

Sources: https://modernfarmer.com/2015/09/difference-between-llama-and-alpaca/

WORLD RHINO DAY. Honoring them while we still can…

We are the sole cause of the dwindling numbers of rhino’s around the world. That’s right. Humans. This information is well documented but I wanted to use this day to share that fact again. Rhino’s have NO natural predators. The decline in their population is as a result of poaching and shrinking natural habitat. That’s it. It’s a rather dreadful fact.

A Few More Rather Serious Rhino Facts:
“Two species of rhino in Asia—Javan and Sumatran—are critically endangered. A subspecies of the Javan rhino was declared extinct in Vietnam in 2011. A small population of the Javan rhino still clings for survival on the Indonesian island of Java. Successful conservation efforts have helped the third Asian species, the greater one-horned (or Indian) rhino, to increase in number. Their status was changed from Endangered to Vulnerable, but the species is still poached for its horn.
In Africa, southern white rhinos, once thought to be extinct, now thrive in protected sanctuaries and are classified as near threatened. But the western black rhino and northern white rhinos have recently gone extinct in the wild. The only three remaining northern white rhino are kept under 24-hour guard in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Black rhinos have doubled in number over the past two decades from their low point of fewer than 2,500 individuals, but total numbers are still a fraction of the estimated 100,000 that existed in the early part of the 20th century.”
Source: https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/rhino

On A Lighter Note:
The collective noun for rhinos: A crash of rhinos
Closest relatives: Tapirs, zebras and horses
Swahili word for rhino: kifaru

Click here for a free downloadable rhino coloring page from me to you. There are lots more on my “Gifts” page on this website.

Rhino’s appear twice in “Moyo’s Journey” on the African Savanna page and in the Indian jungle page.

Musings from Moyo: The Disappearing Art of Letter Writing

Cards from silk painting originals by Miranda Roberts Cards from silk painting originals by Miranda Roberts
“To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.”

Phyllis Theroux

If you’ve been following by latest adventures since publishing my first book “Moyo’s Journey”, you will know that I am currently living aboard a 48 foot catamaran sailboat in Chesapeake Bay, with my humans. Maintenance is an ongoing requirement of boat life and so “Sarabi” is currently out of the water being painted. As a result, my humans decided to take a land expedition to New York City. Someone had to oversee things at the boat yard so I stayed alone “at the helm”. I think possibly I should be promoted to Rear Admiral after this responsibility (little steps Moyo, little steps).

With them away, things were a little quiet on board and while I followed their Instagram and Facebook posts to stay in touch, it got me thinking about the lost art of letter writing – and that includes sending postcards, greetings cards of all sorts and thank you cards. Not those (irritating) electronic versions with the cheesy music but rather, ones involving real paper stock, envelopes, stamps – the works. Words on paper that last until the ink fades, tucked tenderly inside keep sake boxes to be revisited often. Tangible evidence of connection and affection. Letters on cards do not have to be lengthy – the joy comes in the unexpected arrival of mail aside from bills, business and advertising; the knowledge that someone cares enough to choose a card just for you, then write a message, address and mail it. A postcard from New York or simply just an “I Love You” to a friend.

A pet peeve on our boat is the unacknowledged: the unrecognized gift; the unappreciated dinner party; the unvalued time. Healthy relationships work two ways so silence following table laden feasts; birthdays that warrant no more than a Facebook one liner; and the roaring hush of distant friendships are a puzzle. We are a technology centered boat in a technology driven world but that disappearing tradition of the real written communication is something the three of us still try to embrace.

The advent of online stores like Redbubble, Zazzle and Etsy make miniature artworks available to everyone. Make sure you have a good supply of unique cards for the Holidays and lets hold on to this fast disappearing tradition!

“The act of writing itself is like an act of love. There is contact. There is exchange too. We no longer know whether the words come out of the ink onto the page, or whether they emerge from the page itself where they were sleeping, the ink merely giving them color.”
Georges Rodenbach: The Bells of Bruges

Cards from my silk paintings are available at www.redbubble.com/people/MirandaRoberts

An Inspirational Story Time with Moyo


Thank you to Chrissy Brackett from Woodinville, WA for this inspirational story time with Moyo.. Copies available here, from MirandaRobertsArt, Etsy and Amazon.com. Where will YOU take Moyo?

“Once a month I run a Children’s StoryTime at the bookstore where I work. At the last event, I chose to share “Moyo’s Journey”. It was amazing to see children as young as 3 entranced by the vibrant artwork, the 8 & up kids enjoying the different places that Moyo travels to and the adults listening closely to the message being delivered through the words. The kids then did a hands-on project of painting with watercolors a place that they thought Moyo should visit – most were imaginary places of wonder – and they placed their own “Moyo” polar bear in their special place. It was a wonderful story time that everyone enjoyed for a variety of reasons.
Afterwards, my two helpers (a 9 and 11 year old), who have attended StoryTime for several years, were looking through the back pages and reading through the facts (with their mom). I surprised them by gifting this very special book to them. They were so excited to take the book home and share it with their dad, who is from New Zealand! A family treasure is what I’ve been told by their mom.
Thank you, Miranda Roberts, for writing and illustrating a children’s book that entertains all ages! I highly recommend “Moyo’s Journey” for families, librarians and teachers!!!”

 

Moyo’s Memoir: Summer


A polar bear traveling the world.
“I haven’t been everywhere, but its on my list.” (Susan Sontag)

If you’ve read my first book – “Moyo’s Journey” – written and illustrated on silk by Miranda Roberts, you’ll know that I believe in the importance of travel. We learn so much through exploration – about earth and her creatures; about global cultures and creativity, and about the ancient guides that we can’t see but who can teach and influence us.

My humans and I recently embarked on another life adventure and the three of us are currently headed to the Chesapeake in a 48’ catamaran, for a summer of exploration there. Dotting our daily routine of horizon gazing, sail trimming and other various boat duties, we eagerly anticipate sightings of dolphins, seabirds, jellyfish. Miranda has captured some of these ocean dwellers in her silk paintings, on the My Stores page on this website.

As a precursor to this sailing trip, in “Moyo’s Journey”, I explored the indigo waters of the ocean towards the end of my travels in the rainbow’s path. Amongst the tiny neon fish and other brightly hued inhabitants of the reefs, I encountered a turtle. In observing him, I realized that we shared the ability to adapt to our surroundings, and that both of us were equally at home on land and sea.

This got me thinking of how important versatility is in our lives, for our mental, spiritual and emotional growth. I look at my little boat family and realize that they are doing a similar thing. They have cast off the lines from a land-bound life in the High Sierra, and are planning on years and years of coastal and ocean adventure. With no set agenda apart from visiting new (to them) places – and discovering all that these destinations have to offer, they have shed their old lives and are bravely adventuring on their own rainbow journey. I am so glad they took me along with them – although traveling squashed inside a sports bag is one life experience I hope never to repeat! (Versatility Moyo, versatility!).

Follow my polar bear adventures of all kinds, on right here!

Anthony Bourdain summed it up: “It seems the more places I see and experience, the bigger I realize the world to be. The more I become aware of, the more I realize how relatively little I know of it. How many places I have still to go, how much more there is to learn.”

Put laughter in your life and on your walls

national rose month flower painting by MirandaRobertsArt
My “In My Garden” collection of paintings and merch brings me much joy, despite allergies to the perfumes of many blossoms, and a thumb that is only green after a day spent painting in my studio! I do, however, love the outdoors and all that it offers. Spring hiking in the local area with my biologist buddy is a slow and beautiful event and we stop every few paces to macro-capture emerging shoots, taking home albums of photographs to transform into paintings.

I may not enjoy all the fragrances, but I do appreciate the visual beauty of big, blowsy blooms. I’m drawn to the sculptural quality of their petals juxtaposed with their leaves. You can tell from my portfolio that, like a butterfly, I am drawn to color. I love the lexicon of words we have for colors, I love its sometime gaudiness, the fragility of its tints, and the impossibility that all of this exists in nature. I’m gladdened that flowers are a home and food source to many of the little creatures I paint, and I am in awe of the fact that they turn their faces sunwards every day. I might not have much talent as a gardener, but I laugh alongside every bloom.

June is “National Rose Month” so it seemed right to feature these flowers particularly, this week. They are all-encompassing and synonymous with love and beauty, war and politics. So much so in fact, that on November 20, 1986 President Ronald Reagan signed a resolution making the rose the national floral emblem at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden…

“More often than any other flower, we hold the rose dear as the symbol of life and love and devotion, of beauty and eternity… The study of fossils reveals that the rose has existed in America for age upon age… We find roses throughout our art, music, and literature. We decorate our celebrations and parades with roses. Most of all, we present roses to those we love, and we lavish them on our altars, our civil shrines, and the final resting places of our honored dead…
The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 159 has designated the rose as the National Floral Emblem of the United States and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation declaring this fact.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the rose as the National Floral emblem of the United States of America.”

The “In My Garden” series in my online stores – Redbubble and Zazzle – features canvas, framed and metal prints. The collection is not limited to these more traditional forms of décor however, and you can find my flowers on phone cases, luggage tags, mugs, pillows, clocks, tote bags and clothing.

“The earth laughs in flowers”. Ralph Waldo Emerson

A special (and free) downloadable coloring page was created to accompany this post and is available on the “Gifts From Me to You” page on my website. Print it out and enjoy creating!

And remember to pre-order your copy of “Moyo’s Journey” here too! Thank you!

 

Hujambo and thank you

Meet Moyo
Thank you for scrolling through my website to get this far! I am so excited about the imminent launch of “Moyo’s Journey” and I look forward to sharing her travels with you all.

My own journey to Moyo is because of the love, inspiration and opportunity that so many of you provide. To my hiking and walking friends for patiently listening to page by page accounts of my progress; to everyone who gave valuable and insightful editorial feedback as the journey progressed – particularly the ever diplomatic and extremely talented Lu; to my family for living it day by day; and particularly to Owen for giving me the world – I thank and value you all.

I came to Moyo because of my passionate belief in the importance of travel, of seizing opportunities and of being true to yourself. I also know that nothing, absolutely nothing, is more important than kindness. Future blogs will circle “Moyo’s Journey” and encompass all that we discover and experience with her and the creatures she encounters.

I welcome your own voices on all of these – send me your guest posts, your photos of travel and learning from others, your tales of kindness, of adventure, of opportunity. And your photos of the wild and majestic creatures with whom we share this planet.