Procrastinating With Skulls

I’m supposed to be writing about commas.  I have about another hour of concerted effort to make on it, and I woke up with good intentions of getting it done and over with so that I could get on with fun stuff.

It’s not happening that way.  I’ve been up for over 5 hours, now, and I’ve written about 50 comma words.

Having daydreamed in front of the computer for about 30 minutes, I gave up.  Instead, I decided to play archeologist.  I was looking for skulls.

The story of the skulls starts in 2001.  My kids were being homeschooled, and my parents had given us a membership to the ROM; whenever the day looked rough, we’d just go into Toronto and spend the day wandering through the exhibits.  In the basement there was a really good exhibit on the Great Storm of 1913, which the kids spent hours in.  ‘Round about our third time of visiting the exhibit, my daughter finally noticed the exhibit in the next room.  All kinds of white things in glass cases.  Antique lace infants’ dresses and killer baby bottles and skulls.  It was Spring Hurlbut’s The Final Sleep.

My daughter likes dead things.

If Spring Hurlbut could have skulls to play with, why couldn’t we?

My father gave us a rat’s skull that someone had given to him for a photography project.  (He doesn’t like dead things.)

The collection slowly grew to include some deer jawbones from a conservation area where the Ministry of Natural Resources just dumps the skeletons of dead deer which have been surveyed,

a muskrat skull, which involves a story that I can’t tell, or my sister who works for the Ministry of Natural Resources might find reason to have me arrested (although I don’t see how, but I’ve been warned not to tell her about it just in case),

and a turtle skull which was a gift from a friend who lives beside a lake.

There are also a few Mason jars which contain insects found freshly dead on very hot, dry days.  We tried it with a pregnant spider who had died in the spring; the results were disgusting.  Here’s a baskettail dragonfly who worked quite nicely, though:

The collection is kept on what used to be “the homeschooling shelf” (they’re no longer homeschooled) in the dining room:

When my parents come to visit, we always seat my dad with his back to it.

Anyway, on top of catering to my daughter’s appreciation for dead things, I also rescue pets.  Rescued pets die easily.  When my daughter’s twin rats died three years ago, she was devastated.  But not so devastated that she didn’t, when it came time to discuss burial, think about their skulls.  So they were buried in a place where we could get them in a few years.  The decomposing collection was broadened by a hamster, a large fish which I thought might have a skull which we could find in a year or so, and a newly smucked not-yet-hatched robin which my daughter found after a windstorm last spring.

It’s below zero today, so I thought it was a good time to check it all out.

The robin and the fish didn’t work, but I have two rat skulls and some other skeletal parts, and a good bit of the hamster.  After a winter outside in the wind and a summer in the sun, they should be nicely bleached and ready to add to the shelf.

The shelf is getting crowded, though, so we might have to move it to a larger shelf.  Unfortunately, the largest shelves are also in the dining room, but not stuck in a corner where they’re easy to ignore while you’re eating.

Sorry, Dad.

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