Thursday, January 28, 2016

So there was this alpaca in the lobby ...

One of the pleasures of Terwilliger Plaza is that it is a place where unexpected things happen. I was walking back from my parking place in the north end of the Tower to my apartment in the south end of the Tower, expecting to pick up my mail en route, when I noticed an alpaca walking in front of me.

No, really, an alpaca, with thick red-brown fur and that long, camel-like neck and hooves, looking, as all alpacas do, as if he were peering down his nose at the world. Turns out he is a therapy animal and had been visiting the Terrace. The young woman leading him invited me to pet him, which I did, looking up into his eyes, brown with the rectangular pupils of a goat. He didn't feel as smooth as cloth woven from alpaca hair feels, but he was warm and woolly like a good blanket. His breathing involved a somewhat wheezy sound that could have been mistaken for a growl, but the young woman assured me he was not trying to warn me off. He had a very benign aura -- a little alien, because how often do you encounter random alpacas in the course of normal life, but none-the-less well-meaning.

I continued on to my mailbox and he and his handler continued on to the front desk, where they were probably going to check out so the records would be clear that no unknown long-necked woolly red-brown beasts were left wandering the halls. I hope whoever was the recipient of his visit found him reassuring. I know I did. And he inspired a rather smug inner grin because I live in a place where wandering alpacas are not beyond the realm of possibility.

Sunday, January 3, 2016


It's snowing. Apparently, it is due to snow all day. Since I am fortunate enough to live in a warm apartment, I can enjoy watching it. It's several degrees below freezing out, so not only is it snowing, it's staying snow after it hits the ground. This means my hillside is magnificently highlighted in bright white. This means I can look down on the driveway and see tracks showing how my courageous neighbors took their cars out of their outdoor parking places. This means the snowflakes trapped in the spider web outside my window stayed there until a passing whirl of wind tore it away.

Other passing whirls of wind hold back a few random flakes, as if they were tourists looking in at me on their way past. Snow makes the air visible: I can see where the main currents of wind are, where back eddies and even updrafts make curlicues against mostly-gently-to-the-left.