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I Return From Oklahoma With A Medal And A Taxidermied Pronghorn Head

“I can’t do my taxes tomorrow,” I told my accountant. “I’m coming in on a really late flight from Oklahoma.”

“Oklahoma? Why the hell are you in Oklahoma?!” he said.

Actually, that’s what everybody said. And I admit, when I flew to Oklahoma to receive the Sequoyah Children’s Book Award, and then drove an hour and a half from the airport to Ardmore, Oklahoma, I had no idea what to expect.

And you know what?

It was actually really cool.

The Oklahoma Library Association conference was full of very nice people. They bussed in close to two hundred kids for my little song-and-dance, I had a really long signing line, and met some very nice people. And the Sequoyah award is a big heavy medal and looks as if I took bronze in the 100-meter children’s booking.

And Ardmore was just unexpectedly awesome. Small town, lots of farming stuff…but also fabulous bookstores, antique shops, a master gardeners sale (Kevin refused to be a party to this, on the grounds that I would be stuffing plants into the suitcase and they wouldn’t grow in our clay) some really amazing restaurants…dude! If you had told me that I would find this in the middle of Oklahoma…well, I wouldn’t have doubted you, I just hadn’t ever thought about it.

And then Kevin and I went out on a pub crawl with librarians.


They drink like the Foreign Legion. We were all schnockered. The convention had rented a trolley to drive us around from bar to bar. I had a great conversation about native prairie restoration with a librarian groupie who happened to be a water rights lawyer. Kevin bonded with one of the locals over shared Lutheran roots. Admore has some awesome quirky little bars.

The next morning, nursing our hangovers, we headed out into Ardmore proper and went antiquing.

And this happened.


Does this not look like the beginning of a buddy cop movie? “He’s a loose cannon with a badge. It’s a stuffed antelope head. CRIME HAD BETTER WATCH OUT.”

Exhibit Q for Why Kevin Is Awesome–when I say “I think I need to buy that antique stuffed pronghorn head!” he says “Okay.” (Whether this is wholehearted enthusiasm or merely an acknowledgment of the futility of debate, I leave as an exercise to the reader.) And carries it back to the car! Even when it sheds all over him! (In fairness, I think the thing is older than I am, so I’d probably shed too.)

The really fun part was finding a UPS store to ship the head home, as I was told this would not be acceptable as carry-on luggage. (“What if I put it in a clear Zip-loc baggie?” “NO.”)

I got very good, if complicated directions from a nice woman at the next antique store over, who drew a map on three connected post-it-notes. (I could have googled it, but honestly, by that time she was so invested in the process it seemed rude.) Astonishingly, we found the UPS store, walked in with the head…and they didn’t even blink.

“Right!” says the guy behind the counter. “Let me bubble wrap that, and see if I can cut this box down…”

You got the impression that the man dealt with taxidermy all the damn time. (I asked. He said yes, although mostly deer, not vintage pronghorn heads.)

Anyway, it’ll be here Tuesday. Needs a few bits of cosmetic repair, but nothing I can’t fix a bit of paint and/or glue.

So! Ardmore, Oklahoma! Unexpectedly awesome! And also I won a Sequoyah Award, and am grateful to the 3rd-to-5th graders of Oklahoma who voted for it! ‘Cos that’s even cooler than a pronghorn head.

Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.

Are you related to The Bloggess by any chance? Or is it just that all the cool people are into taxidermy these days?

I grew up with random skulls and a stuffed deer head on the walls, so I just assume this is normal behavior. I don't know her well enough to know if she had a similar experience!

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Wow! Awesome find, and congrats on both the award and surviving a bar crawl with librarians!

When you use the paint and glue to repair it are you planning on leaving it natural colored? It might look awesome with dark purple fur with pink highlights.

Awesome- a MAJOR book award! Congratulations.

Yes, Oklahomans are great people. Every time I visited there, I was just swept up by good people.

Acknowledgement of the futility of debate; or just great husb- give her whatever she wants. Cf recent debate at Cmck re the legend of Sir Gawain's marriage, which I had never heard before...

I have found marriage to mostly be- give her whatever she wants. And oddly she only asks for what she needs, or really wants, so we only occasionally debate, and not over these items. May have to post...

Why do I have the feeling that the next time we see that pronghorn it'll have googly eyes, a wooly pink ruff, and a crown?

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Best related work qualifies....although it's too later for the 2013 ballot.

"You got the impression that the man dealt with taxidermy all the damn time."

Oklahoma, and Kansas also-EVERYONE has some sort of critter on their wall, or their mantle.

Congrats on the Award. As for the pronghorn...good buy! Now you need an armadillo to go with it.

never go drinking with librarians.

it's like engaging in a land war with sicilians.

I think you're mixing your princess brides there.

Woooo!! Award! Yay!!

My sister is a librarian, and she can drink men twice three times her size under the table. Given that she is also an improv artist, it can be a very surreal experience.

Now you just need an Okapi Butt for the wall. Perhaps the wall on the other side of the Pronghorn Head. Life was hard for little Prongkapi, but he finally found his place in the world...

And his place was halfway through Ursula's wall?

I think I'm going to add "that's even cooler than a pronghorn head" to my comparison list for future usage.

Having spent a week in a writing retreat with British writers, I'm not at all surprised by your experience with Oklahoman librarians.

So, how long before the first hat ends (ended) up hung from it?

I expect about twelve minutes, or "However long it takes us to find the stud and hang it in the first place."

“Oklahoma? Why the hell are you in Oklahoma?!”

That's what everyone says whenever I go to Oklahoma, too...:p Which happens fairly frequently, since that's where my extended family lives.

For a moment I was hoping the pronghead WAS the award. I'm sure if we librarians had any say in it, it would have been, with your book mounted between the horns!




My beloved was a librarian.

About the restaurants: Is Ardmore, perchance, near a military base? We found the DAMNEDEST good Chinese restaurant near Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, long ago when I was there for a Linguistics Institute. This was after walking out of the Chinese restaurant *IN* the town after tasting the soup. What the heck? Well, it's next to a big USAF base, and lots of the folks there knew what REAL Chinese food should taste like.

Woo! Congrats on the medal, and the kids, and the bar crawling. Sound like it was a blast :)