Monday, March 14, 2011

I'm writing from the river town of Zanesville, Ohio where we're staying at a brand new Holiday Inn.  I lectured here tonight at a Methodist Church, last night in London, Ohio, a couple of hours west of here.  This region of Ohio has had a lot of flooding and I've been fortunate to collect some wonderful river drift wood.  Today, between speaking engagements, we went to the State Park at Hocking Hills and hiked for a few hours.  That park ranks as a favorite of ours right along side Starved Rock State Park in Illinois and Brown County State Park in Indiana.  Here is John at one of the caverns.
As we were coming into town this afternoon I saw a business establishment that appeared to be a combination funeral home and taxidermy shop.  Why not?  If you embalm people why not do your taxidermy in the room next door, using the same toxic chemicals for both. It reminded me of my short stint as a taxidermist.  When I was a sophomore in high school taking a biology class we were required to have a project of our own choosing.  I decided to stuff a squirrel.  Brother Jonnie gladly shot one for me and I skinned it and then followed the directions from a kit for preservation and mounting---including the addition of glass eyes.  In the process the skin stiffened and stretched out and the squirrel didn't look natural at all.  I wanted to get full class credit, so I simply cut the squirrel in half, mounting the top half over the bottom to shorten the length.  I smoothed the fur and no one knew the difference.  Years later I went back to the biology room, and my squirrel was still in the show case-----though during my most recent visit to my old high school a few years ago it was no longer on display---probably relegated to a locked closet or in a landfill.