FIFTY-ONE - Live Llama and Prosper

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The Lopez Island Wildlife Refuge is a pretty cool place. It used to be a steakhouse called, The Pirate's Grill, but it went out of business after a year, mostly I guess, because people on these islands prefer tofu and tabouli over T-bone steaks. Anyway, it's a moot point, because you can't get food of any kind there now unless you're an orphaned fawn or an eagle with a broken wing. Which brings me to the reason for our visit. Rip, Van, and Winkle! (Who, by the way, are thriving!)

We all went to Lopez Island together: Dad, Misty, Ivy, and me. The three raccoon kits and Petra (still having a hard time adjusting to calling her that, not gonna lie), stayed in the wooden box which sat securely between Ivy and I. Ivy, by the way, is absolutely thrilled about the whole Peterson/Petra thing. She thinks I should write an essay about it for school, and said that in such a highly charged, gender-sensitive time, an experience like this one should be shared and celebrated. I, on the other hand, feel such a move might be exploiting the sacredness of the event for my own gain—I am a gentle Shaman, remember— but I nodded and thanked her for her input, just the same.

But when she brought out a pair of false eyelashes and a tube of adhesive from her bag, I felt I had to speak up. I asked her what she was doing, and she said that she wanted to "pretty up Petra," now that she was self-identifying as female. That was when I said that not all women felt the need to embellish their features with things like false eyelashes, and that maybe Petra was content just as she was. Ivy went a little red in the face and told me that it wasn't a feminist crime to want to look attractive, and then Misty spoke up from the front seat and snorted, "I don't think any woman feeding newborn triplets would give a fat rat's ass about getting a makeover, Ivy."

Ivy went quite sulky after that and stared out the window for a good ten minutes before I leaned over and asked her if she wanted to share a bag of ranch-flavoured Doritos. She frowned at me and said, I can't be placated with junk food, Myles! You're being very patronizing! Of course, I apologized, but I noticed that she really enjoyed the Doritos; I think she ate three-quarters of the bag. I hardly got any. It still amazes me how she can eat and talk at the same time. And Ivy talks a lot!

When we got the centre, a woman named Barb greeted us and said that Rip, Van and Winkle were the eighth, ninth, and tenth baby raccoons to be admitted in the past week. So that was cool, because they'll all be friends? Maybe they'll for a badass little raccoon tribe. Wait. What do you call a group of raccoons? A herd? A pack?

Gimme a second...

I just Googled animal group names. Apparently, a bunch of raccoons are called, "a nursery." So, with ten little whippersnappers all sharing the same pen, I guess that name is pretty apt. I also discovered that a group of hippopotami are called, "a bloat." This, I know, is completely irrelevant. I just think it's pretty funny.

I didn't take Petra inside the centre when we followed Barb, because that would have been pretty weird—I mean, she's got formula all over her fur and stuff...Petra, not Barb. Barb was quite respectable looking, in a green sweatshirt that said, POWERED BY PLANTS, on the back, and a very good illustration of an artichoke across the front.

But before we went in, we did all take a moment by the car for Petra to "say goodbye" in her own way. To the outsider, "her own way" would have seemed like no way at all, but to my trained eye (and my highly intuitive nature), I definitely saw a maternal gentleness in her eyes and an expression of completion upon her face. I pointed it out to Dad, and he patted my arm awkwardly and said, "Okay, okay, Myles. Let's wrap this up, shall we?" (I think he was overcome with emotion, as it was quite a tender moment.) Or, maybe the car ride had been hard on his broken, but healing bones. Kind of hard to say.

After we left the wildlife refuge, we drove around Lopez Island, stopping at a local artisan gift store for a quick look around to pass the time until the ferry came.

There were a lot of clay pots and dream catchers and drawings of arbutus trees and orcas. I thought about getting a little something for Mom and Jocelyn, but figured if I did that, I'd have to get Jett something, too, and screw that BS. All that guy needs, is to be knocked down a couple of pegs. So, instead, I bought Norm a guitar pick with an illustration of a llama on one side, and "Live Llama and Prosper" on the other.

I thought it was a pretty hokey present, and it only cost three bucks, but Misty got kind of teary when I showed her and had to leave the store. Dad smiled bravely at me and went out after her.

When I told Ivy that perhaps it was "that time of the month" for Misty, she went all stone-faced and said she hated it when men said that every time a woman had an emotional response to something, and then she left the store, too!

That left me all alone with the disinterested clerk, who was eating a bowl of ramen noodles and playing Pokémon-Go on his phone.

So, I just stood there in the middle of the store, utterly confused. But I still bought the llama pick for Norm.

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