Thursday, November 22, 2012

SM Johnson ~Thursday Morning Coffee ~ Thanksgiving!

Happy Thursday - and happy Thanksgiving. I hope ya'all eat good food and please don't forget to take a moment to be thankful for the good things in your life.

If you can spare a few dollars, this is a great time of year to donate to a charity close to your heart. This fall I have donated to NaNoWriMo, and the Lake Superior Zoo, which is my local zoo, that suffered devastating losses from the crazy flooding we had in June. Still on my list this season is to donate some dollars to water.org, to help a village in an impoverished country obtain a clean, accessible water source.

I can't afford to donate big dollar amounts, but I decided I CAN donate a few of the dollars I consider disposable income - dollars I spend on books or music or toys that I buy for IzzyG for no reason other than she's my only daughter and I can afford it. See what I mean? I'm not taking these dollars out of the household budget - although maybe I cook an extra meal at home that week instead of eating out, or visit my library instead of loading my Kindle.



Oh, by the way... Instead of a coffee cup this week, I'm showing you a picture of me with my (so far) favorite snake. (Nice segue hmm? What do you think?)

Why yes, I do have a favorite snake. He is a ball python, and he's been an education animal at the zoo for many years.

Last Sunday while volunteering at the zoo, a thirty-something woman touched Damien. She has always been  afraid of snakes, and said she'd never touched a snake in her life. It made me feel good, and from what I could tell, she felt GREAT. That is one of the most fun things about being a zoo docent - offering people positive animal experiences that they might otherwise not have. Several weeks ago, it was a man in his fifties who was convinced to touch a snake for the first time. Again, that snake was Damien. He's a very docile snake, calm and sweet, and very used to being handled by trained docents.

In this next picture, Damien was quite interested in exploring my face. My daughter took the picture just as I was readjusting my hold. See my hand in the foreground? I was lifting it to move Damien's head away from my face. Because although I adore Damien, and I was not afraid that he would bite me, proper zoo handling is to keep the animal's head away from my face, and the faces of visitors. It's just safer that way - "an animal's back has never bitten anyone" - (quite from the zoo animal handling manual)

An interesting thing about snakes... when you're holding them, they don't ever really stop moving. Even if they're moving slowly, they're still moving, and you have to readjust your arms quite frequently. And Damien is heavy - a half an hour holding him is long enough. Probably long enough for him, as well, because by the end of a half hour, a coil of his body was locked so tightly around my wrist that I was unable to slide my hand free (he was very likely sucking up my body heat). But Damien's so cool that I just set him and my arm into his exhibit, and he released me to go find his favorite corner.

How does a docent convince someone to touch a snake for the first time? Well. It's not that hard. I just tell them exactly what Damien's skin feels like - a shiny basketball. Or a basketball that's been wiped with armor-all - you know, that weird stuff you clean the inside of your car with? Yeah, that. Snakes are shiny, not slimy. People are often surprised about that. They also (well, Damien, at least) don't slither or slide so much as move with a series of muscle contractions, or at least that's what it feels like when holding one coiled around one's arms.

Next segue...

I feel fairly confident that I will make the NaNo goal of 50,000 words in November. Yay! I am really happy, because it's been a really no-go autumn for writing - as you all know by the lack of content on the blog - but the best part is that it really hasn't been a huge struggle. The main reason I decided to attempt NaNo this year was because I knew my story muscles needed some working out. Dungeon 3 is shaping up nicely - and generally when I sit down to write, either at the computer or with a pen and paper - the words flow as if I'm channeling a tale that's just been sitting there waiting for me to sit still long enough to tune into the station.

This is an awesome feeling, and one that I forget so easily. The more you write, the more you have to write.

I know this. But then I forget.

Now that I've proven to myself that if I "show up" (words of Stephen King, I'm pretty sure) the words will be there, I'm thinking I need to set my monthly goals a bit higher - say, somewhere around ten thousand words a week. I've already set a goal to publish Dungeon 3 before the end of Febraury 2013, so not only am I going to set a weekly word count goal, I'm also going to set a 3 months from draft to published work goal. And out of that, a goal of 3 - 4 books per year.

As for the blog... well, I'm not sure what kind of content format I'm going to try next, but I'll definitely be here regularly. Thursday Morning Coffee will continue to be random chattiness without promised rhyme or reason.  I would also like to continue to comment on pop culture, and introduce a series - maybe monthly - on Mindfulness, and living in the moment. Yeah, I know - sort of an eclectic mix. I would like to be quirky and cool, but I'm afraid I just tend to be random and weird. And not even random in a cool way.

But it's okay, because I'm good enough, and I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me. Well, at least they pretend to.

Have a great Thursday, darlings!

~SM

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