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A Tiny Mummy Finds A Home

Remember when I asked Hawk to mail me the tiny mummy he found? Well, he sent it all right. And then I kept it for six months while I searched for an appropriate display for it. But see, nothing was good enough. And then, this weekend, I suddenly remembered this little – I don’t even know what you’d call it – thing that I have had sitting in my craft closet with all my craft stuff for literally over five years. It’s a little thing that I bought with Michael either right before we were married or right after, and I dragged it to New York and back because I knew one day I’d figure out a project for it. Turns out it was totally meant for the tiny lizard mummy. Like, the universe sent it to me because it knew that one day I’d have a tiny mummy that would need a home. Here’s what the little – we’ll call it a display case – looked like before I started messing with it.

pre-priming

That shiz needs to be painted, yo. It’s awfully boring looking.

primed

But first, we must prime.

painted

Much better, yes? Once I painted it and gave it a coat of urethane, I used a small wad of museum wax to affix a silica packet inside the display area, to help keep the little lizard nice and dry. (Thanks to my brother Ty for that trick.) But what will I use as a backing for the lizard? I know! How bout a wrinkly old piece of paper?

coffee soak

I wadded up a scrap of paper and let it soak in coffee for about thirty minutes.

drying

Then I set it out to dry. When it was completely dry, I cut it to fit the inside of my tiny display case. I didn’t need to glue it down – it was a perfect fit. Next, I decorated the corners with some little dried flowers, including a few from my wedding bouquet. Those were glued down so they wouldn’t shift over time. Last, I placed my mummy inside.

finding a forever home

I used a drop of Elmer’s Glue-All under his chin to fix him securely to his forever home.

voila!

Voila! The smallest lizard mummy in the world (really – I think he’s broken a record) lives in a place of honor in our family room, amongst our collection of family photos.

place of honor

close up

Sorry for the low quality photo. It’s hard to take a picture like this without a flash, but the flash bounces off the glass and ruins things, so… you know. Anyway, now I just need to find a home for my mouse skeleton and my baby bird skeleton. Oh! And I still have to make natron so I can mummify the dead snake in my freezer. That one will make a lovely centerpiece for the coffee table, yes?

*This post is brought to you by Hawk, who provided the tiny mummy. And Ty, who’s gifted me with my love of all things dead, including the mouse skeleton, the dead snake, and my wonderful family of mummified mice – who have not been featured here because the pictures do not do them justice. If you ever come over, I’ll be sure to show them to you. I love to point them out when giving guests the tour of our apartment. “Here’s the office, here’s the bedroom, and here’s my mummified mouse family!”

Live Things

I’m always surprised when people are horrified by my love of dead things. Whenever someone comes over and I give them the tour of our apartment, the icing on the cake is always the mummified mice at St. Peter’s Gate  displayed in our bedroom. When I look at those mice, I see beauty. Their perfect little forms, tiny paws curled to silken whiskers, tails twisted and springing in mid-air, they are exquisite. Tiny sculptures formed by Mother Nature Herself. Which is why, even though it happens over and over, I am always surprised when my guest’s inevitable reaction is, “Ew. That is really gross. Are you okay?”

This is where I would like to assure everyone that I am not, in fact, some sort of psychopath. Honestly. I’m not interested in blood and gore. Photos of animals ripped up by cars make me cry. Animal cruelty is intolerable. I’m interested in the process of how our bodies go back to the earth. I’m interested in mummies. I’m interested in bones. And I’m not just interested in dead things. I’m also interested live things.

The following is a whole slew of pictures I snapped one afternoon while watching the birds at our feeder. (It is also an example of why I need an SLR.*)

63

The blur in the background, between the lantern and the bird feeder, is Atticus in flight.

70

72

73

How many birds can you see in this picture?**

88

Are you guys tired of bird pictures yet? Good! Because there are only 18 more to go. Just kidding. (Or am I?)

89

Look at them! I want to scoop them up and smother them in kisses! There’s four! And they’re all alive!

The joy that stupid bird feeder brings me is totally worth the fact that every surface of our balcony is covered with bird poop. It’s totally worth it. Totally worth it.

(At least dead things don’t poop.)

*I finally decided, by the way. I’m going to buy an SLR, but I’m not going to take it to Bolivia. I know it would take insane pictures, but I do not want that sh*t around my neck while I’m hiking. Do. Not. Want. It. More on that later.

**there are four! (One of them is not real.)


Dead Things

If you have a strong stomach and are as interested in the process of life (and death) as I am, then I will encourage you to continue reading this post until you get to the bottom where you will find the latest lovely in my collection.

If you do not have a strong stomach and have no interest in what the process of a body’s return to the earth looks like, then please, please, PLEASE do not keep reading.  Instead, why don’t you look at some pretty pictures of unicorns? Cupcakes? Babies smiling? Do ANYTHING but DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER. Leave this webpage now!

It’s not gory or anything. It’s a photo of a baby bird who fell out of his nest and died. But he’s a few days dead and a little dried out. I think he’s beautiful.  My heart breaks for him whenever I walk past him (he’s been in the carport for days). I wish I could scoop him up and breathe life back into him. But I can’t. So I take a picture instead. Because even in death, he is a beautiful part of creation. He reminds me of my own mortality, reminds me to treasure every moment, this moment right now because in an instant it could all be over. One minute we’re here, the next we’re gone. But we’re never gone. Even when our bodies have rotted away to nothing, or we’ve been burned into a million bits of ash and tossed by our loved ones into the wind, we are still here. The molecules of our being, our bacteria, the dust of our bones.

Someone asked me the other day if I believe in God and I didn’t know what to say because I don’t believe in the God that I was taught about in Sunday school – the one who judges and scorns and throws non-believers into the fiery pits of hell along with the rapists and murderers. I don’t know what I believe in. But in studying these little dead creatures, seeing that even in their death they are part of the circle of life, I am reassured that there is a higher power, whatever or whoever it may be, and that we are a part of something bigger and more incredible than we can possibly imagine. We just don’t know what it is.

And now, a dead baby bird:

poor little thing

Tiny Mummy

Hawk sent me this picture last week, and then I asked him if he’d mail me the remains. Because THAT is how much I love dead things.

lizard-mummy02

Bits of Esopus

It was such a treasure to spend a few days in the country. As soon as I arrived, I curled up on a bench on the deck and napped with my head in Mike’s lap while he played with my hair. I spent the rest of the afternoon curled up on the sofa with Printer, reading. I was so tired from our life in the city, I could barely move. And for the next several days I just sat, and watched the rain, or read a book, and I took lots of naps. It was perfect. The quiet, the storms, even the little chores. I completely relaxed.

Except for when we lost electricity, but who even remembers that?

I couldn’t post these as I was taking them because I didn’t have all the paraphernalia required to make the camera and the computer talk to each other, but now I’m home and I have the paraphernalia, so here are some of my favorite photos from our country get-away.

Warning: Two of the photos are of dead things.

dragon fly

Lunch! (Not mine.)

humming bird

The country is good for dead things.

rain soaked windows

It’s also good for afternoon sun through rain-soaked windows.

Happy Wednesday!