I spent my day stitching paper bones together with artificial sinew

The world is falling apart and here I am performing the essential duty of stitching paper bones together. However did that come to pass?

Yesterday we’d planned another excursion to North Georgia, but H.o.p. was slow slow slow to get going, so slow that by the time we instead arrived at the Fernbank Science Center to walk their little inner city wilderness trail on a marvelously almost cool, breezy day, it was too late, so we instead wandered the little Science Center for a bit and talked to the man at the desk who followed us into the exhibit area to talk to us and then caught us again on the way out. He noted H.o.p.’s interest in dinosaurs. When I said H.o.p. had been asking to come down to the observatory he asked if H.o.p. was interested in the stars and said since he was then the Planetarium had an adult show about to close and he would probably enjoy that so we made a vow to get out there this week to watch the show and walk the trail beforehand. He even showed us a picture of how he had tried to grow his hair out long and was thinking of trying it again.

It’s funny how lately when we’ve been on excursions, the people manning places we stop at seem very eager to talk to us. Anyway, because he took the time, he sold us on returning for the Planetarium show.

I really have to get my butt in gear and gather books and interesting materials for H.o.p. for the coming year. With that in mind we went to Book Nook. We used to go to Book Nook all the time years ago, a used/new book store, but stopped going when we stopped collecting comics and when the used books rose in price enough so that one didn’t feel they were getting much of a deal. Plus we weren’t finding anything of interest there anyway. Zip. When that happens you eventually write a place off your list and depend on other resources. But we were driving past so dropped in yesterday with the intention of finding interesting materials for H.o.p. We only made it so far into the bookstore before we’d gone through our spending money and the interesting materials I got for H.o.p. ended up not what I’d initially had in mind. We picked up a step-by-step history of what happened to American Indians post Columbus, with illustrations, which actually looks pretty decent, isn’t a “Building the land of the free” book, at least not at first glance and is almost appropriate for someone H.o.p.’s age. $10. When I looked it up online at Amazon I found a low price of $2.97 for the same book. And we got “The Animator’s Survival Kit” which is a bible of info for animators, a bit dog-earred but OK, I’d planned already on getting it for H.o.p., had forgotten how much it cost and when I looked it up online I saw it was only $3 off Amazon’s price. Marty tried to talk H.o.p. out of getting “Cut and Make a Human Skeleton” because he knew who would be cutting and making but here it is on my desk anyway. H.o.p. found an animation book showing storyboards. And I found a book on dragons which I knew he’d want. Checking out, H.o.p. noticed a box of toys where you get one free with purchase and asked the clerk if he could have one. And we asked the clerk if a person we knew still worked there, which they did and the clerk, like the man at Fernbank, seemed very eager to talk for a little while, was animated and ready to offer information.

Then we puttered around in a “which street do you want to take now” way, which was impossible pre-Element.

Which is how we eventually ended up out at the Dekalb air field watching small planes take off and land. If you can believe that. Watching aircraft. I’ve never considered watching planes take off and land a past time, but they were prepared for us with a small playground and bleachers upon which to sit and watch the planes come and go. And, indeed, there were people seated upon the bleachers taking pictures of the aircraft. It was not quite as much fun as H.o.p. thought it might be, though he had some fun on the playground.

We were finally run off by the fumes of several small jets taking off.

That’s what we did for entertainment yesterday and topped it off with dinner at a Chinese restaurant where H.o.p., who’s in the process of becoming somewhat civilized, thanked the busboy for every glass of water that was poured for him and told the waitron afterward that those were the best pot stickers he’d ever had, a trick which worked well at an Italian restaurant at which we recently ate. The atmosphere could have been better. We were seated in a booth next to some women who were going on about Medicare and medical examinations with a more-than-I-want-to-hear-when-I’m-paying-for-a-nice-relaxing-dinner preciseness. I tried to ignore and stared with appreciation at the elaborate hairdo of a Hispanic gentleman in the next booth, hoping it would trip me into a more pleasant space. I thought it was just me, said nothing about trying to shut my ears to what was going on behind me, then Marty said, “I think I may ask for another booth, I can’t take much more of this”. I glanced and said it looked like they were about done and I didn’t want to screw up the waitron’s section by asking to be moved. The women unfortunately were done but not really done and went on and on throughout our dinner. I was reminded of how for a while there several years ago when we’d vanquish the couple of hundred miles between us and have dinner with Marty’s parents, as soon as we sat down to eat they would start giving us news on these gory accidents. They didn’t know the people, it was just in the news. I’d be trying to eat while they spilled verbal blood and gore all over the table and one time when they finally got to the story of a railroad worker who was cut in half and lived long enough to appreciate this fact, I was unable to finish my meal and wondered at their ability to keep on casually eating when all I could think about was the horror of this poor man remaining conscious and the pain of his awareness of leaving behind his wife and kids. The conversation at the booth behind us last night was not this but was loping along with an eye on catching up before they left. I tried to drown it out talking about anything, even the sugar packets…

Now, to stitching together paper bones.

The promo for A. G. Smith’s “Cut and Make a Human Skeleton” reads:

Create an exciting, educational, 3-dimensional model (16 1/2″ high) of full human skeleton with scissors, glue, needle and thread. Easy-to-follow instructions, diagrams help pre-teens and older youngsters assemble this accurate representation with little or no adult help.

Bull to exciting. Bull to assembling with little or no adult help.

I’ve had all day for hatred for A. G. Smith’s, “Cut and Make a Human Skeleton” book to brew. As far as I’m concerned the skeleton isn’t any better than your basic Halloween skeleton from the grocery store. What makes it preferable to a child is that it requires hours of effort for one’s parent to cut out and piece together…with thread and needle! Except instead of me pulling out a needle and regular thread I used fake sinew with beeswax. There’s a lot of small cutting involved and thus is not really appropriate for H.o.p. who hates cutting out things as he’s not good at it. The morning started with a fabulous meltdown over the skeleton, pre breakfast. The last thing H.o.p. talked about before going to bed was making the skeleton and when he got up he grabbed the book and brought it to me. I started on the spine and gave him the ribcage to cut out and he accidentally cut into part of it and had a fit and blamed me for giving him something to cut out when he’s not good at it. We worked our way through that and this afternoon I sat down and started back in on cutting and pasting and taping something that will be fit for the garbage bin by tomorrow afternoon. This is not a kid-friendly activity. I had lots of problems with it. I could swear some of the parts are misprinted as to what’s left and what’s right because when you start putting them together they don’t jive with the picture, which is problematic because the instructions are weak and stress using the picture as a guide. Where you poke holes for the thread to go through have so little margin around some of them that they were promptly tearing, especially at the wrists which meant they had to be reinforced. H.o.p. helped by cutting out some and handing me tape and glue and tape and glue.

Some of you may love this kind of craft. I don’t. I see on Boing Boing every so often where someone has made some Disney castle or such out of paper and all go ooooooh and aaaaaah. If you find that kind of thing fullfilling, fine, but I don’t.

The book said the skeleton would take hours to construct and they weren’t joking ’cause it did. But finally I finished and handed over the ludirous result to H.o.p. He was thrilled and ran off to photograph it with his dying camera. So what can I say but that it went exactly as I’d expected it to go. Difficult, time-consuming, poorly-conceived, not child friendly, and a thrilled H.o.p. at the other end of the process.

Update: I’m not believing this. I did a search online for other people who might be discontented with “Cut and Make a Human Skeleton” and instead found Dr. Denis Goulet at Ole Miss including it as an essential textbook for Anatomy and Physiology I. No kidding, the exact same “Cut and Make a Human Skeleton” by Smith, 1989.

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Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

2 thoughts on “I spent my day stitching paper bones together with artificial sinew”

  1. I’d enjoyed reading about your adventures out and about, particularly noted your unexpected pleasure about watching planes take off from P’tree Dekalb. I haven’t done that for a few years but I used to enjoy taking kids to watch from time to time. I think they mostly did play on the playground while I watched. And took photos. My father used to take us to watch planes take off from there when I was little. At that time the roads were very different and there was no observation area so dad would just pull off the road at one end of the runway and we would watch. I thought it was fun. Especially fun for me because of my now-mostly-conquered fear of flying. There was something satisfying about going to watch the planes take off and knowing I was safe and wasn’t having to confront that fear by getting in a plane.

  2. Well, I’m not sure how much I enjoyed watching the planes taking off and landing. I didn’t really. But I did enjoy the architecture and the mix of textures. The building with the tower looks around 1940s? old and then there’s this little immaculately tended park area with some trees and very fresh, new benches, and the very new looking, brightly colored equipment of the playground and then the fairly new looking bleachers which were also a memorial to someone, I didn’t read who. But if you used to do this in the past few years with kids then apparently the equipment isn’t as new as I thought, just well kept. A couple in their late teens or early twenties came by while we were there to hop on the swings for a few minutes then ran off and got in their car and drove on. And in and out and around it all these flocks of little brown birds. They kept going back and forth from the landing field to the playground/park. Very human friendly and expecting things to eat. I was wondering what was out there on the landing field that was of interest to them.

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