Lisa Lipkind Leibow and Julia Trimboli


Julia Trimboli

Basement Specimens

oil on canvas, 2012

Inspiration Piece

FOND OF FAUNA:Webisode #2

By Lisa Lipkind Leibow


Hello to all of my YouTube fans out there. Welcome to the second webisode of my new nature series, “Fond of Fauna.” I’m hoping all five viewers of the first video in my series will let their friends and followers know what a great show I’ve got going here. I feel really good about the footage of the beaver lodge exposed by the County’s removal of the poor creatures’ dam in the creek that runs behind my house. I’m so glad you stuck with me. If I were you, I’m not sure I would have kept watching with all of the commotion – all of that barking through my explanation of the beavers’ progress to rebuild the dam in order to re-submerge their lodge. Don’t get me wrong. I love animals. Hence, the name of this series: “Fond of Fauna.” And my neighbor’s Chihuahua is cute and all, but why she has to impose her Monica Seles tennis-grunt imitation on the world day and night is beyond me. I’m not the only one who hates the sound of that dog’s bark. Everyone in the neighborhood is constantly bugging the trendy snob who carries the yappy pooch around like a fashion accessory to, “Hush that dog.” The pup finally stopped barking a few days ago. So, I figured this was the time to film webisode number two and ensure a cleaner soundtrack.

Ok. Last time, I was able to take a pretty close look at a beaver habitat with you. Again, sorry I couldn’t show you the actual beavers. It’s really hard to get a live beaver to hold still long enough for you to measure its teeth or feel the texture of its mud flap tail. You have to admit, though seeing the now-dried-out lodge and newly chewed-on trees was pretty cool.

In today’s webisode, I’m exploring one way to examine animals more closely. In fact, I have a collection of specimens that I’ve preserved in jars here. Most of the stuff needed to build a collection like this doesn’t cost a thing. This little guy here is in an empty spicy salsa jar. Isn’t he cute? This one has been in a jar formerly used for sour pickles and this one is in an old grape jelly jar. A lot of the jelly jars weren’t suitable because my Mom always seems to buy the ones that have pictures of Snoopy or Bart Simpson printed right on the glass. If it’s on a label I can soak it off. But that paint is near-impossible to remove. It doesn’t really matter what kind of stuff once filled the jars. It does matter that you wash the jars really well first. So. That’s why the jars are cost effective.

The critters are free too. Not free, meaning released from bondage. Well, duh! I’m sealing them in jars! What I mean is, free without charge. In the interest of full disclosure, I admit that one time I paid Kyle Coleman to give me his dead Beta fish instead of flushing it down the toilet. Other than that, I haven’t paid a dime for any of the specimens. The Beta? Where is it now? Let’s see, here. It’s hard to find individual specimens when I don’t have them all lined up on a shelf in my room like I used to before my mother forced me to get rid of them. You should have seen her standing on a chair like those ladies in the movies who see a mouse in the house. “It’s creepy! Get them out.” Did I sound like her? Whenever I try to mimic her voice it always comes out too nasal. Oh well, she doesn’t know it but I didn’t get rid of them. I have them in this box over here. I know I’m out of frame but I’ll be back in just a moment. I know it’s here somewhere. The Beta fish was in an old baby food jar I took from the recycling bin across the street. Aha! Here it is. Let me hold it up to the camera so you can take a closer look. This beauty with the fancy purple and magenta fins is the only one that required me to shell out cash.

For the others, I’m just lucky, I guess. It’s amazing what you can find. This one here – chipmunk road kill. I’m amazed at how fluffy its fur has stayed. And this bird flew into the picture window in the family room. It’s a robin redbreast. Only, for some reason the red feathers have faded. I’m a little disappointed with the color loss but other than that it looks the same as the day it crashed. I waited a couple hours before picking it up. I wanted to make sure it didn’t just knock itself temporarily unconscious. Once it started drawing flies, I was pretty sure it was dead. I put it in a Ziploc bag and stuck it in the freezer until I was ready to preserve it. See this lizard. Believe it or not, this lizard drowned in my old plastic kiddie pool. It was just floating in the water. I have no idea how it got in there in the first place. Although, I did see some muddy tracks that looked surprisingly like Chihuahua paw prints leading to the side of the pool with the little slide. I imagined the yappy dog giving the newt a ride, opening its snout to make that horrible tennis-player release grunt, causing the amphibian to slip down the slide into the water. Perhaps the dog skittered to and fro, yipping and woofing, too small or too frightened to leap into the water to fetch the darn thing. Who knows? All I know is when I got there, the lizard was ready for the jelly jar full of alcohol.

Most of the time I don’t even have to pay for the alcohol. My sister buys it in bulk for the body-piercing business she runs out of our garage. She has to rub the stuff on an earlobe or nose, nipple or bellybutton before she shoots it with the piercing gun. She wipes down the gun too, because it’s the only way to clean a plastic gun. There are cases of gallon jugs of ethyl alcohol in the corner of the garage. She barely misses a pickle jarful of alcohol here and there. It’s not like I find a new specimen every day. It takes a while to build a collection like this – weeks, months, years.

How long have I been working on it? I guess a couple of months. I’m trying to perfect the process. I want to be ready for that Chihuahua.

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