In which I take a break from writing to talk about fuzzy animals.

So when I’m not spending my weekdays writing (or more often than not, avoiding writing), I am often spending it instead with fuzzy, adorable animals.

Not everyone thinks the animals I coo over are adorable, mind you. For example: we’ve had a spider living outside our front door for several weeks now, and I’ve grown strangely attached to him. He’s our spiderbro and I root for him when he rebuilds his web. I totally look for him every day to say hi.

But I didn’t come to talk about spiderbro. I came to squee about some of the adorable animals I work with at the best volunteer job ever.

I volunteer for an animal education group, and a lot of my time is spent prepping animal diets and cleaning enclosures. BUT, another big part of my time is spent socializing with the animals, and it’s almost always one of the high points of my week (except for when I get into boxing matches with the kangaroo. No, really. That happens a lot).

A new little animal came to us recently, and he has stoleth my heart, I daresay. Like a thieving thief.

His name is Lionel.

Lionel, the babiest, slothiest sloth.

Oh little tiny baby sloth, my husband is so sick of hearing about you. Because I talk about him all weekend long. “Do you want to go drive over and see Lionel?” I’ll ask him, when we’re taking a walk, and he’ll sigh. “I just wish I could hold Lionel right now,” I say, as we’re sitting down to watch a movie. My husband looks skyward and nods his head, knowing there’s no way to break me out of animal mania once I’ve gotten sucked in.

So, I’ve taken to sitting with Lionel for ages, and he’ll fall asleep on my chest, his little claws curled around wrinkles in the fabric of my shirt. And when I put him back in his enclosure, he’ll wrap his arms around his ‘Mama bear,’ which you can see in the picture. He lost his mom at a young age, and Mama Bear acts as a replacement and a security blanket. He spends most of the day sleeping with his arms wrapped around her.

Seriously. He needs to stop being so freaking adorable.

I work with a lot of other animals, but this post has already gotten ridiculously long enough since I can’t seem to not turn into a cooing, melting mess when I start talking about Lionel. But I thought I would share this picture with you guys, because it amused me how this little armadillo was eating.

Right, so eating IN my food bowl is probably the best way to approach this.

This dillo lives with eight other armadillos, but he’s a baby and hasn’t seemed to grasped the concept of ‘sharing’ yet. Nobody else needs to eat, right?

Interestingly enough, he and his brother were actually ‘surprise babies.’ We’d had no idea the mama dillo had had a litter until they were old enough to start wandering around on their own. It was definitely a pleasant surprise.

Also, the food he’s eating took a long, tumbling route to get to him, as I managed to trip and roll down a hill while carrying it, spilling a bunch of it everywhere in a rain of insectivore, dog kibble, and shredded carrots. Sigh. I’ll say this: picking pebbles out of your forearms and limping up a hill to remake food for 26 armadillos is not the funfest you might imagine it would be.

But it’s totally worth it.

So since my husband fell asleep and I can’t keep talking to him about my animal friends, I’m babbling to my blog instead. I mean, it’s just hard for me to focus on writing when Lionel is a little distance away, wishing I could hold him (and he totally wants me to hold him. We’re going to be total BFF’s one day. I have to get started on the friendship bracelets). So, I have an excuse for not having written yet today, right? Right? Sigh. No. Okay fine, I’ll get to work.

* grumbling and stomping back to writing desk *

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Late night

Daily word count: 971.

It’s nearly 3am, so I’m debating – does this count for Friday or Saturday? But I think Friday, since I haven’t gone to bed yet.

So, 971. It took me a bit of a while to climb to that. I’m a slow reader in everyday life, and I’m beginning to think that I’m also probably a bit of a slow writer. But maybe I just need more time to practice and learn.

I’ve been coming up to this part cautiously, as it’s a big moment in my story, and I feel like it’s a lot of pressure to write. What if I don’t write it right? What if it’s terrible? Also, I’m not sure what’s coming after, so what if I just trickle down and lose momentum after hitting this point? All these little thoughts slowing me down.

But I got about halfway through this big moment tonight. I’m going to sleep on it tonight before (hopefully) finishing it up tomorrow, but then I’ll be past this part.

I would have guessed that these climactic parts of my story would be the easiest parts to write; that they would fly by because I would be so engaged in telling them. But actually, it’s the little things that have been easiest. The world-building, the dialogue – the smaller things, because they don’t matter as much to me. I realize they are equally as important, if not more so (and also that they’re not really ‘small’ things), they just don’t seem as big in my head. But this scene I’m cautiously stepping around, that I’ve been avoiding writing – it’s a moment I’ve tried playing so many different ways in my head, now. So putting it down into words is a bit intimidating.

I will admit, building a relationship between two of the characters has been fun. I hate romance in general, and have been trying my hardest to avoid any sort of gaggy love stuff in this story. But without even meaning to, two of my characters are starting to inject this weird chemistry I didn’t intend to be there.

Random daily notes:

– I had a box of used hypodermic needles fall on top of me yesterday, and one pricked me in the leg. So I have been mildly concerned that I hopefully don’t get like, monkey flu or otter glaucoma now (they were needles used on exotic animals, though I couldn’t tell you specifically which animal needle pricked me in the leg so…great). I’m trying not to think about that movie Outbreak that traumatized me when I watched half of it years ago.

The director reassured me that it ‘should be totally fine,’ so, you know. No need to worry, right? Hakuna matata?

– I’m dogsitting right now for this dog that is making me crazy. He barks at every little thing. My own dog keeps staring at him like, ‘dude, what’s your problem?’

– I was working outdoors in around 95 degrees heat yesterday and came across an adorable little mouse who was napping in a small patch of shade. There was a tiny little hollowed-out nook in the hard dirt, and he had curled up there and was sleeping. Every once in a while he would get up and turn around to reposition himself and get more comfortable, or would scratch himself and then stick his paw in his mouth.

It took every ounce of my willpower not to scoop him up and snuggle him. I must have watched him for close to ten minutes. I took a picture of him that I have probably looked at about fifty times by now. I was surrounded by all these exotic animals, and instead I was transfixed by this tiny, sleeping mouse, his little belly rising and falling as he panted in the heat.