Dental repairs — not mine this time, but my mother’s — took me to nearby Pfafftown last week, about a 15 minute drive, during which I annoyed by mother by repeatedly prouncing the first silent “f” in the North Carolina town’s name.
The correct pronunciation is “Poff-town.” But I kept calling it “Puh-foff-town” and she kept correcting me, not realizing, at least at first, that I was doing it on pfurpose.
Dropping her off at the dentist, I returned to a spot we had passed by, which, though I had only gotten a brief glance, appeared to be an enchanted kudzu forest.
Just as I suspected, I found three canines. (There is no kudzu patch in which I cannot spot the shapes of dogs — though some, admittedly, are clearer than others.)
First, I saw a pfair of kudzu wolves, howling at the sky:
Back at the dentist, my mother was done and waiting for me, and, as pfate would have it, I learned a return trip was going to be necessary in the afternoon.
Ace, who mad missed out on the first jaunt, came along on the second, and after again dropping off my mother, we followed some signs pointing to C.G. Hill Memorial Park.
The park is a beautiful setting, with winding trails and a duck pond.
It also contains a hollow poplar tree in which, according to the county, a farmer once hid his cow and calf to save them from being poached by Union soldiers during the Civil War.
It has also been dubbed the “Loving Tree” – but we’re not sure, and the county’s website doesn’t say, whether that’s because it lovingly provided shelter, or because of hanky-panky that may or may not have taken place within its confines.
Looking at it, I’m not sure how it could have held a cow and calf, much less an amorous couple. Why the space is no bigger than an airplane’s restroom.
Rather than imagine the hijinks that might have occured within the tree, I pfocused on the pfair of ducks, becoming pfascinated with the pfretty rings of color around their eyes:
While at the park we ran into Thor, a three-year-old Chihuahua-rat terrier mix.
She filled me in on where people commonly let their dogs run unleashed — even though park rules require leashes — but, suspecting my mother might be pfinished with having her dental work installed, I didn’t have time to check it out.
One the way to drop her back home, I told her about the pfark, just down the road from Ronald Reagan High School. Now there was a pfresident.
“It’s pronounced ‘poff-town,’” she corrected me for the tenth time.
“Puh-false,” I retorted. It’s Puh-fofftown.”
She rolled her eyes, as if in pfain.
That was her signal she had pfinally had enough of that game.
I’m going to keep pronouncing it Puh-fofftown, though, with apologies to all the Puh-foffs that live there and who it is named after, because, just like dentists, I sometimes like to strike a nerve.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 16th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, cg miller memorial park, chihuahua, dentist, dogs, forsyth county, kudzu, kudzu dogs, loving tree, north carolina, pets, pfafftown, pronunciation, rat terrier, road trip, thor, travels with ace
For the last in our week-long series of kudzu dogs (are you questioning my sanity yet?) we start off with the artwork first (above), and the undoctored photo (below).
This one is definitely a Newfoundland.
Even without our tampering, this kudzu dog is a very obvious one, located near Hanes Park in Winston-Salem.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 21st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, art, attack of the giant kudzu dogs, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogs in kudzu, dogscountry, form, growth, images, imagination, kudzu, kudzu dog, kudzu dogs, north carolina, pets, photography, shapes, summer, travels with ace, vines, weeds, winston-salem
Kudzu dog No. 6 is obviously squatting, for what we’d have to guess is a quick No 2.
(Tomorrow: Our last kudzu dog, maybe, a kudzu Newfoundland)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 20th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, art, attack of the giant kudzu dogs, dog's country, dogs, dogs in kudzu, dogscountry, forms, kudzu, kudzu dog, kudzu dogs, landscape, north carolina, pets, photography, shapes, south, travels with ace, vine, weeds, winston-salem
Our fifth kudzu dog looks to me like a playful St. Bernard.
The trick to spotting kudzu dogs is to find a good patch and be willing to stare a long time, keeping an open mind until one pops out.
In addition to the growth pattern itself, other factors can affect whether you see a dog in the kudzu or not, including the angle you’re viewing from, the lighting, and how many beers you’ve had. It’s entirely possible to pass through an area at one time of day and see nothing in the kudzu, then return at another time, when the light has changed, to see many.
(Tomorrow: Pooping kudzu dog)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 19th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, art, attack of the giant kudzu dogs, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, growth, imagination, kudzu, kudzu art, kudzu dogs, landscape, north carolina, pets, photography, travels with ace, vines, weeds, winston-salem
Is he preparing to offer his paw for a handshake, or planning to jump up? This one seem poised for something.
I found him on the grounds of The Children’s Home in Winston Salem, which sports some impressive kudzu formations. This one was right behind the swimming pool.
So I chose the color of pool paint to make an outline around him.
(Tomorrow: Kudzu St. Bernard?)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 18th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, art, attack of the giant kudzu dogs, dog, dogs, dogs in kudzu, forms, imagination, kudzu, kudzu art, kudzu dogs, landscaping, north carolina, pets, photography, shapes, south, vine, weeds, winston-salem
This guy — even in his unadulterated form — seemed to be lurking, waiting for unsuspecting hikers to pass by.
But several of them did and he just stood there.
Perhaps, in my attempt to make him more visible, I made him appear more ominous than he really was.
(Tomorrow: A kudzu dog offering his paw)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 17th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, art, attack of the giant kudzu dogs, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, forms, kudzu, kudzu dog, kudzu dogs, landscape, nature, north carolina, pets, photography, shapes, south, travels with ace, vines, weed, winston-salem
I found this fellow resting not too far from the kudzu dog we featured yesterday, along the Silas Creek Trail.
He had the look of an Airedale to me — or at least he did until I trimmed him up.
(Tomorrow: A lurking kudzu dog, poised to pounce.)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 16th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, art, attack of the giant kudzu dogs, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, forms, imagination, kudzu, kudzu dogs, landscape, nature, north carolina, pets, photography, shapes, south, travels with ace, vines, weeds, winston-salem
Those of you who followed Ace and me in our year of traveling across America know that there came a time last summer that I developed a curious obsession — one that led me to risk life and limb, fritter away numerous hours and question what had become of my life.
Somewhere in Mississippi, I spotted a patch of kudzu, growing in the shape of a dog — and shared it with you, of course, in the hopes that you would see the dog, too.
After that, I began looking for more, casually at first, then with the kind of intensity that might be viewed as going overboard. I started driving too slowly, focusing more on the side of road than the road itself, backtracking and pulling onto the shoulder of highways that didn’t have shoulders. As semis shot by, rattling my car and body like fllimsy aluminum signage, I took pictures, trying to capture the dogs within the kudzu.
Yes, I was pursuing that all-important “whimsy” I wrote about yesterday, but at what cost? Was I merely filling time? Was I compensating for some lack in my life? Was I over-using my imagination? Was I avoiding life’s harsh realities? It might surprise you to learn that photographing kudzu dogs pays no salary and carries no health insurance, which, possibly, are the things I should have been pursuing, as opposed to kudzu shaped liked dogs.
Eventually, I got over it, with help from nature. As fall arrived, the kudzu leaves turned brown and dropped to the ground, leaving only skeletal vines lurking in the woods.
By then, the exercise had renewed my fantasy of opening up “The Kud-Zoo,” a roadside attraction I envisioned years earlier while traveling the south. The dream was to open it up in a huge, kudzu-filled lot somewhere near an Interstate. I, along with my staff, would groom the kudzu — assisting nature, not controlling it — training and trimming the fast-growing weed to grow into the shape of animals.
There, too, we would offer kudzu crafts for sale, and hold workshops on kudzu — both at The Kud-Zoo itself and through outreach programs, taking our Kudzu bus to make public presentations aimed at improving the image of the hated alien weed. Basically, we would embrace kudzu, which I think is what it is trying to do with us. We’d be all about peace and harmony, with a lemonade-out-of-lemons philosophy: If you can’t beat it, make things out of it and sell it. We’d be sort of like hippies, but obsessed with a different kind of weed.
Fortunately, that dreamed faded, as did my summer-long obsession with kudzu growing in the shape of dogs. But with this summer’s arrival, kudzu has renewed its quest for world dominance, and I have had a relapse.
Seeing animals in kudzu, like seeing forms in the clouds, is an entertaining pursuit. Maybe it is God’s way of amusing us. Kudzu animals are like God’s Chia pets, though God hasn’t capitalized as much as He could on merchandising them.
I found lots of them, or so I think. At times, I think seeing dogs in the kudzu is a psychiatric disorder; at other times, I think it may be a superpower — that only I can see them.
I’ll let you be the judge. For the next six days — yes, six days — I’ll be showing you kudzu dogs. We’ll feature an unadulterated photo of a kudzu dog, along with a highly and obviously adulterated one, to better allow you to see the dog I’m seeing.
We shall call these adulterated pictures “art,” so you won’t question whether the combination of taking the photos in the first place, then spending hours tweaking them, is actually a form of insanity.
I like to think that someday — when the world realizes that I, rather than being a wackjob, have a unique vision — my kudzu dog photographs will be worth a lot of money.
Unitil then I’ll be that weird guy on side of the highway, lurking in the park, taking pictures of big green clumps — because how can I not?
We’ll be showing you a pooping kudzu dog, a playfully jumping up kudzu dog, and several kudzu dogs in repose. Because repose is a good place to be.
While you are enjoying kudzu dogs, Ace and I will be enjoying the beach — the same one we visited last year.
We are not planning on blogging — similarly, at its core, an obsession — during our time at the beach, unless of course we stumble across something too amazing to pass up.
So without further ado, we kick off our weeklong series: “Attack of the Giant Kudzu Dogs,” starting with this one we spotted along Silas Creek Trail in Winston-Salem.
The photo at the top of this post — go ahead, scroll back up for another look, I’ll wait — is unretouched.
Below is the same photo, doctored, or dog-tored as the case may be, through a very basic computer program called “Paint.”
As I see it, it’s comparable to the sculptor who sees an object in wood, marble, Play-Doh, or whatever, and then removes those parts necessary for you to see it, too. I, much like Rodin, or a first grader, am simply bringing out the form that was already there.
It was already there, wasn’t it?
(Tomorrow: Resting kudzu dog)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 15th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, art, attack of the giant kudzu dogs, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogs in kudzu, dogscountry, form, imagination, kudzu, kudzu dogs, landscape, pets, photography, shapes, south, travel, travels with ace, vines, weeds
This utility pole — in Kinston, North Carolina, about 90 minutes east of Raleigh — has been attracting attention in the last week from people who see in it a strong resemblance to Jesus on the cross.
And who are we to argue — especially with our addiction to kudzu dogs?
Kent Hardison, who goes by the pole every day on his way to work at Ma’s Hotdog House, told the Free Press of Kinston that he considered spraying weed killer on it when he first saw it, but then thought better of it.
“I glanced at it, and it looks like Jesus,” Hardison said. “I thought, ‘You can’t spray Jesus with Roundup.’”
Hardison said some of his customers think the vine might be an indication that God is watching over the region — and he thinks that’s possible. As he noted, there are some similarities between kudzu and Jesus.
“It doesn’t matter what you do, it is going to be around,” he said. “Ain’t that a lot like Jesus?”
And, as one news report pointed out, The Gospel of John quotes Jesus as saying “I am the true vine.”
Based on our vast experience, and being — while a disciple of dog — an afficianado of kudzu, I can tell you that Kudzu Jesus isn’t kudzu, despite what’s being reported by news media around the world.
At the time, spending hours seeking out and photographing kudzu growing in the shape of dogs, I questioned what had become of my life — how a prize-winning journalist had been reduced to pursuing such a trivial diversion. But now it all pays off, as I can warn the world of a false prophet.
Kudzu Jesus is actually Trumpet Vine Jesus.
To its credit, The Free Press, which broke the story of Kudzu Jesus, corrected itself today, reporting that “multiple sources” have confirmed “that the Christ-like vine on a pole about one mile south of Kinston on U.S. 258 South, is actually Trumpet Vine — a wild vine native to Southeastern U.S.”
Both a local historian and an agriculture extension agent told the newspaper that trumpet vine — named for its trumpet-shaped flowers — is what’s growing up the pole.
Don’t be fooled by Trumpet Vine Jesus; wait until the real kudzu saviour comes along — and I’m sure, in time, he will.
(Top photo: Charles Buchanan / Daily Free Press)
(Bottom photo: John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 30th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: christ, cross, crucifixion, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, growing, image, imagination, jesus, jesus christ, kinston, kudzu, kudzu dogs, kudzu jesus, mistake, news media, north carolina, religion, saviour, shape, south, travels with ace, trumpet vine, utility pole, vine, vines, weed, weeds
Sweeping back through the south, we’ve crossed Tennessee and made it to North Carolina, this time without the benefit of what, back in the summer, was our favorite form of highway entertainment — looking for dogs in the kudzu.
The Vine That Ate the South is naked now, having lost its leaves for winter, leaving behind only long strands of clumped-together, spindly, bare vines. I can no longer see big green animals in the leaves, only stick figures, spider webs, spaghetti and road maps.
The kudzu will be back, though, in spring — and ready to spread as quickly as “adult superstores” have through Tennessee. There are a lot of “adult superstores” in the Volunteer State. Going down I-40, it seems like every other billboard is either touting an “adult superstore” or the fact that Jesus Saves.
After crossing the Mississippi River, we stopped outside of Memphis for a quick visit with my son, checking into a Best Western, where I had reserved a room online, after seeing it touted itself as dog-friendly.
Not until I arrived did I see that there were pet fees, according to a posting at the front desk – $15 for a dog between 5 and 20 pounds, $25 for dogs 20 to 40 pounds, and $35 for dogs 40 pounds and up.
I immediately squawked — I’ve become a bit more of a squawker in recent months – pointing out that I’d be paying almost as much for the dog as for me.
“How much does your dog weigh?” asked the desk clerk.
I thought about lying, but, having seen too many God billboards, couldn’t. Over 100 pounds, I said, adding that he’s much better behaved than a lot of 10 pound dogs, and pointing out that the whole charging by weight concept was ludicrous.
The desk clerk made a face like he’d swallowed something yukky and excused himself. Ten minutes later he was back, with a room assignment and news that they’d only charge me $25 for the dog.
Too tired to have any principles, and wanting to get off the road on New Year’s Eve, I accepted the discount and took the room. Then I seethed about the whole thing — especially the weight part — for a couple more hours.
Charging fees for dogs is not dog-friendly; its dog-greedy. I wonder how much damage dogs do to motel rooms across America, compared to that done by people.
Rather than pet fees, maybe motels should be looking at rock star fees — for they, if we’re going to stereotype, are famous for trashing rooms. Why not a fraternity boy fee? A student on spring break fee? A crying baby fee? A loud sex fee?
Only twice in our travels have we experienced loud sex — both times from the room next door. Ace and I did the only thing we could. We tilted our heads and looked at the wall the sounds were coming from, then turned up the TV.
Is that constitutional? Even prisons allow visitors.
Depite all the control being exercised in motels, or at least the one we stayed at, Tennessee, as a state, seems less successful at reigning in kudzu, or adult superstores. (Not that I have anything against adult superstores; it’s a free country, except at the particular Best Western we stayed in.)
As we passed through Tennessee, I stopped at several huge thickets of kudzu (and at no adult superstores, though I was wondering what exactly made them “super”).
I searched the bare vines for dog shapes, which some some of you may recall became a bit of an obsession for me over the summer, but I could find none.
Instead, all I could see in the withered and weepy vines were hunched over old witches, overworked peasants and evil motel desk clerks who charged exorbitant pet fees.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 3rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adult superstore, america, animals, best western, dog, dog friendly, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, forms, god, i-40, Interstate 40, jesus, kudzu, kudzu dogs, lodging, motel, pet friendly, pets, road trip, shapes, south, tennessee, tourism, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, weed