Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Grazing With Armadillos


In 2004, when I was in graduate school out in Tucson, my sister graduated from Austin College in Sherman, Texas.  I went out with my family for her graduation, and on the road home the talk turned to armadillos.  My grandmother had a stuffed armadillo toy and I expressed a desire to see one for real.  Sometime later, my sister saw a dead one on the side of the road and pointed it out to me. I expressed great sadness at the death of the poor baby animal, and became quite belligerent when my sister told me it was a perfectly normal full-grown armadillo.  I haughtily informed her that she had no idea what she was talking about, and that full-grown armadillos were about the size of cows.  Everyone in the car burst out laughing, as I was very insistent.

She finally convinced me that armadillos were not, in fact, anywhere close to cow sized, but I've never been able to live that down, and everyone is always quick to point out that my advanced degrees are in the biological sciences.  Of course, now living in Oklahoma, armadillos are very common (especially on the side of the road), but I'd never seen a real one until that trip through Texas. My entire knowledge of them came from a fabulous, Graeme Base book called Animalia.  Graeme Base is a children's author and wonderful illustrator, and Animalia is a great alphabet book.  In retrospect, the giant alligator wearing an apron covered with an alphabet stomping on an ant, abacus, ambulance, asp, apple, and alien all of which were the same size should have been a clue that the armadillo in the picture might not be quite to scale.  Nonetheless, it was enough to thoroughly convince me that my knowledge of armadillos highly outweighed that of my sister who'd actually lived around them for several years.

Tell me that armadillo does not look cow sized!

This Christmas, my mom surprised me with this wonderful art quilt immortalizing the dreadful armadillo story.  The center panel is from a cow T-shirt she'd bought me from an artist many years ago at a festival in Copper Mountain, Colorado.  The shirt was old, but was a favorite and I gave it to her to test out some interfacing she wanted to use.  I had no idea she'd make such a fun, involved art quilt out of it; it's covered with fabulous beading, 3 dimensional prairie points, and of course, the slightly-more-to-scale armadillo beads. Everybody had a good laugh at me again when I opened it, but in the end I had the last word; as I was examining the label, I noticed she misspelled the word armadillo, and reminded her that her inability to spell long pre-dated my misunderstanding of dasypodidae biology.

Grazing with Armadillos, Vicki Conley, 2012.  Photo c. Doug Conley

Grazing With Armadillos, Detail, Vicki Conley, 2012

Grazing With Armadillos, Detail, Vicki Conley, 2012
I'm so excited to have received such a great present, I really love the quilt!  I'm going to link up with the Art Quilt linky over at the great Nina Marie's  and with Elizabeth at a  Pieceful life. You should check them, out, there are always really fabulous things.