Stuckie

True confession: I’m equally drawn to, and repulsed by, the macabre. It has always been thus. I think it’s because when the disgusting exists in the world, I want to find out why and how.

Because of this, if I ever find myself in the vicinity of Waycross, Georgia again (please, God, no…) I will have to stop in to see the Southern Forest World Museum. I do love a good Environmental Center, and from the looks of it, this is a good one, indeed. It seems to get universally fantastic reviews, and the images on the website are intriguing.

But I’d go there mainly to see Stuckie. Poor, poor Stuckie. What a story.

Back in 1980, a chestnut oak was chopped down and sawed into logs, and then placed on a lumber truck. That’s when Stuckie was first discovered. He was a hound dog, and he was mummified in the hollow of the tree.

It’s estimated he had been trapped in that tree for at least 20 years when he was found. And he’s still in that tree to this day. He’s on display in the museum. (I first learned of him by reading the amazing book Lab Girl, which I highly recommend.)

We’ll probably never know how Stuckie got in that tree. The most plausible theory is that he chased a racoon and got stuck. I hope he didn’t suffer much. After that, it was perfect conditions, wind that blew away the smell of his dying body, which meant that destructive bugs weren’t attracted to the site, and dry conditions within the stump, that caused Stuckie to arrive at his present state. It sure makes me wonder what is inside the trees that I pass by every day.

I can’t help thinking that somewhere in the 50’s, some poor family lost a beloved member, and never knew why. They probably searched and searched, and maybe even came heartbreakingly close to finding him. That makes me very sad, indeed.

RIP Stuckie, if you can, with so many people staring at you.

Stuckie

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Civil Trade War

So now Trump thinks Canada is a security risk? Oh, come on. Those people won’t even jaywalk at an intersection. Seriously. There could be no cars for miles, and they’d still patiently wait for the crossing signal.

Trump imposing tariffs on Mexico, Canada, and the European Union is like walking up to your three best friends in the school yard and punching them each in the throat. Just ‘cuz.

As if we weren’t already convinced that this man is an idiot, he now decides to do something that has absolutely no upside, even for him. But oh, yeah, it certainly has taken our focus off of Russia, hasn’t it? He does like to stir shit up.

Smoke and mirrors. It’s all smoke and mirrors. The next election can’t come fast enough.

For some reason, though, a lot of people don’t quite get (yet) what a global pissing match Trump has just set off. So let’s scale it down a bit for easier comprehension.

Let’s say the Governor of Maine doesn’t like the Governor of Georgia. So Maine decides to impose a tariff on all peaches. This means that it gets a lot more expensive for Georgia to get their peaches to consumers in Maine. This causes the Governor of Georgia’s head to explode, and he says, “Fine! We are now putting a tariff on Lobsters! Take that!”

Well, messing with Lobsters in Maine is like touching the third rail. This cannot be borne! So Maine says, okay, now we’re going to put a tariff on airplanes. (You may not know this, but Georgia’s top export is airplanes.)

But hold on. Airplanes are also the top export in California, Arizona, Washington, Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina, Florida, and Connecticut. So they all sit up tensely and blink, too. What’s going to happen next? They all start looking around to see how they can hurt other states who might hurt them. Everyone is poised for battle.

That’s really how the civil war started. Only back then, the commodity was slaves. Not only won’t we buy your slaves, but you can’t have them either. And before we knew it, hundreds of thousands of Americans were dead.

This trade war? Worst idea ever. Thanks, Trump. Way to go.

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My Jacksonville to Seattle Odyssey—Part 2

It was really hard saying goodbye to my sister this morning. I don’t know why. It’s not like we’ll lose touch. But it was kind of comforting, knowing she only lived 4 hours away. And I probably won’t see her for a year and a half. So it was hard. Still, off I went, just me and the dogs, who got right down to the business of sleeping.

We officially traded cars, and now I’m driving a 2000 Dodge Caravan with a whole host of quirks. The windshield wipers forget to work sometimes, and have to be reminded. When you hit a bump in the road, the radio turns to CD mode, which means the music stops. And the CD player doesn’t work. The air conditioner doesn’t really work in stop and go traffic. All of these are things I can live with and be rather grateful for, because without this quirky car, I’d be in deep trouble. And as I drove along I thought that if I were on one of those dating websites, I’d come off as the human equivalent to this vehicle. Quirky, but I can make it from point A to point B, and in the end, that’s all that matters, right?

So I headed up into the Appalachian Mountains, where my soul has always resided. It felt strange knowing that I’d be driving right on through them, because usually when I head this direction it’s to stay a while. If I could live anywhere in the country, it would be here. (With the exception of Butts County, Georgia. Sorry, but there are limits.) Maybe some day.

But I did have the distinct pleasure of stopping for lunch in Chattanooga, Tennessee. You can’t be in Tennessee and not sample the bar-b-cue, so I went to Sugar’s Ribs. My friend Carole joined me. What a blessing this blog is. If it weren’t for this, I’d have never met her. And yet here we were, having lunch. And she drove an hour and a half to do so. We got along like a house afire, but I knew we would.

A strange thing happened when we left the restaurant, though. I had parked the van on a dark shady side street with the windows open. It was 75 degrees out and overcast. And my car was now flanked by two Chattanooga Police cruisers. Uh…

The officer said he thought the car had been abandoned with the dogs inside. We had been gone for 20 minutes. The car is in excellent condition, full of my possessions, and the dogs had water and food and the windows were open in full shade. They were fine. He said he assumed someone had walked off into the woods and shot himself. (Seriously? Isn’t that a bit of a leap?) But he was nice enough. He said if I hadn’t come right then, he’d have confiscated the dogs, though. That would have ruined the trip, to say the least. Believe me, I’d never leave my dogs in a hot car, and I’m tempted to kill any human who does.

After that, I headed North again, through the comforting, cozy mountains with their solid, reassuring rock outcroppings, and mildly disturbing fireworks emporiums, but somehow my GPS led me briefly back into Georgia, which had me worried for a second there. I’ll have to look at a map and work out how that happened, but before I knew it, I was back in Tennessee and then on into the rolling green hills and grasslands of Kentucky. I got this huge surge of pure joy when I crossed into this state, because it’s the first part of my journey that is parts unknown for me. I have officially crossed out of charted territory. If my travel experiences were an old map, this part would say, “Here there be dragons.” How exciting!

I passed several signs of fascinating places that I would have loved to have checked out, but traveling with dogs limits one. And of course time and money play a factor, too. Instead I’ve opted to hibernate in a hotel in Paducah, Kentucky.

A note about Paducah: It has always sounded to me like a small boy’s slang for defecation. A friend says it sounds to him like a teenage boy’s slang for his naughty bits. Either way, it makes it awfully hard to take this town seriously. But if it weren’t for the dogs, I’d be out exploring it right now. It’s got a waterfront art district, an historic district, and a National Quilting Museum! How can I resist? Alas…I’m off to bed.

Next stop, my niece’s house in St. Joseph, Missouri!

PisforPaducah! cover

Cosmic Pinball

I am always amazed at how the most random encounters can change the trajectory of one’s life. It’s as if we are all pinballs in a great machine, bouncing off this or that obstacle, and being propelled to greater and more dizzying heights. You never know when you wake up in the morning if your life is going to change for good or ill by the people you meet. In a strange way, I love this about the universe.

Here’s an example. I used to be very active in the art community in the virtual world called Second Life. This gave me the confidence to become a fractal artist. You can see my work here. Because of this, I met a young man who lives on the other side of the world in Viet Nam. I helped him get his first art show in Second Life, and we became good friends. I am very impressed by this young man’s talent. Not only does he do drawings and photography and 3D virtual sculptures, but he also writes quite well. you can see his work at his deviantart page.

He’s 19, and wants to study abroad. One night while we were chatting on facebook, I mentioned the Savannah College of Art and Design, because I had always wanted to go there. He looked into it, and is now applying. So there you have it. A random and improbable encounter between a 48 year old in America and a 19 year old in Viet Nam has sent him in the direction of Savannah, Georgia, a place he had never heard of before this. I hope it works out, because my young friend has an amazing talent and a bright future.

So, without further ado, here is some of the amazing art of my dear friend Cong Le Nguyen. I’m proud to know him, and I’m glad our paths intersected. Enjoy!

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