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
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
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
With leaves getting past their peak, turning brown and taking a dive — at least up north — my journey is losing some of its luster.
And I’m losing one of the ways I pass the time while driving: Soon, the kudzu dogs will be gone.
As some of you may remember, I got a little wrapped up in kudzu growing in the shape of dogs while I was traveling through the south. I kept seeing kudzu dogs as I progressed north — kudzu not being strictly a southern phenomenon anymore.
I saw several along the New York State Thruway, but none as good as the green ones I saw down south. The thruway doesn’t lend itself to pulling over — prohibits it, actually, except in the case of emergencies. So I refrained from stopping and taking pictures, figuring “but officer, I saw a kudzu dog,” wouldn’t quite qualify.
Those I did see — kudzu not changing colors as crisply and vibrantly as some other leaves — looked a little dappled and mangy. When the fast growing vines finally call it a season and stop their climbing, the leaves turn brown, making only a quick stop at yellow.
Soon, the vines will be bare, and I’ll have to resort to other ways of passing the drive time — like dictating brilliant thoughts into my voice recorder that, when I listen to them the next day, aren’t that brilliant at all; singing, babbling, talking to the dog, or guessing which part of my back is going to start hurting next.
Soon, all the trees will revert to skeletons, and only the evergreens will be there to enjoy — and you can’t find dogs in evergreens. Can you?
Posted by jwoestendiek October 20th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: autumn, colors, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, driving, fall, falling, foliage, highway, hudson river, kudzu, kudzu dogs, leaves, lighthouse, nature, new york, peak, photography, road, road trip, saugerties, shapes, thruway, travel, travels with ace