But once in a while, you simply have to pry yourself away from your keyboard. Especially if you need a break. There's a point where you can't think clearly...and I'd reached it.
I've been editing Photo, Snap, Shot, the 3rd book in the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series, for days. Now, I don't know about my blog sisters, but for me, editing is a terribly intense time. I do a lot of beating myself up. Every imperfection is achingly clear to me. I go over and over every line, searching for flaws and faults. This book in particular has been worrisome because it's a combination of reality and fiction, and the reality concerns a secret society.
After a week of looking at galleys, and two ten-hour days over the weekend, I needed to walk away for a while and return with new eyes.
Right about then, an email popped up in my inbox. My new friend Marjorie and I had been talking about going to the National Zoo to see Tai Shan, the baby giant panda. Did I want to see Tai Shan before he left for China? If so, would I like to go on Monday?
I emailed Marjorie right back with my answer: YES!
Tai Shan's name means Peaceful Mountain. Marjorie wisely scheduled our visit so we arrived before the crowds. I had a clear view of the little black and white darling. Did you know that a panda is more closely related to a racoon than to a bear? 'Tis true.
Here's a photo of Tai Shan strolling out to munch on bamboo.
Behind him you can see the large Fed Ex crate that was his "container" for when he was flown back to China. The crate weighed 1,300 pounds and took about 200 hours to build. The zookeepers allowed him free access to it so he would feel "at home." Last Thursday, four days after I saw him, Tai Shan was lured by a breakfast of bamboo into his traveling container. He was taken by motorcade to Washington Dulles Airport and loaded onto a Boeing 777 freighter dubbed "FedEx Panda Express" for a 14 1/2 hour flight to Chengdu China.
Here's a photo of Tai Shan in his "inside" cage at the Panda House, where he was climbing on a rock. The temp inside the Panda House is kept around 65 to 70 degrees, the same temp of his cabin in the Boeing 777. The whole time we visited, he was a busy, busy guy, lumbering about. I bet he'll be fine in his container, but I'm equally certain that he'll be happier exploring his new home, the Bifengxia Panda Base outside Ya'an.
Here I am, smiling and enjoying my well-earned break. (You can see a video about him and his impact on local well-wishers here: After Marjorie took this photo, we went to the gift shop. I bought two journals made of panda poo. The poo is rinsed, cleaned, ground up and mixed into a pulp to form large sheets of paper. I've decided to turn my journal into a scrapbook featuring all the cool things I'm getting to do in my new home. That will include adventures like visiting the "Peaceful Mountain" before he flew to China.