One more postcard: 99-cent mammoth

Postcard collage of mammoth, aurora borealis, sea stacks, and a 99-cent price tag

Hello Johan! Thanks for backing my Kickstarter project and for sending along your address. I made this postcard between South Dakota and California in July. Now it’s November, and I’m heading north to Seattle tomorrow to visit my friends Megan and Reid for Thanksgiving. My family is scattered around the country in Colorado and Iowa and Massachusetts, so it’s nice to have friends in my neck of the woods. I’m glad I’m finally able to send this postcard; I like mammoths and this postcard is one of my favorites. Sorry for not reminding you to send your address; I should have sent an email! Hope you have a great holiday season.

Subscription postcards: Extraordinary giraffes, spherical ice, and the South Dakotan Buddha

Postcard about giraffes and Africa.

Hello Elizabeth! This is a postcard with a giraffe on it. Giraffes have long necks and long legs and live in Africa. Below is the flag from an African country called Niger. Most flags are rectangles, but Niger’s flag is a differently shaped rectangle from most other flags … it’s a little more square-shaped. Pretty neat, huh?

Flag of Niger, and a giraffe.

The above-mentioned flag, and a little giraffe doodle.

Postcard about spherical ice and the decline of Western civilization.

Hello Carmel! The beverage in this collage has a spherical ice cube in it. The fact that there is consumer demand for spherical ice has me a little concerned about the overall well-being of humankind. “Give me spherical ice!” sounds like the fever-dream demand of a crazy person.

Postcard of Buddha meditating on stuff while bison graze in the background.

Bridget and Jory — The best part of my trip through South Dakota was meeting with the Buddha. I found him meditating under a banyan tree in the Black Hills. Banyan trees don’t survive the winters there, so every spring he has to special order a banyan sapling from a Rapid City nursery. Then he drives it to the hills and sets it atop a wooden ladder so he can meditate beneath it. I asked him the secret of happiness and he told me to buy a special meditation mat and a gong and a kimono and a “Sounds of Waterfalls” album from iTunes and that’s all it takes. So far it hasn’t worked; I think I bought the wrong kind of kimono.

Art by mail: Badlands porthole

Postcard collage of Badlands, porthole, and elaborate costume

Message from postcard:
Hi Ron — You had made a special request that you wanted to get something genuine, and as I try to think of some serious subject matter to blather on, I’m listening to a Portland band called S.K. and the Punk-Ass Bitches sing, “It’s all about the money, it’s all about the cash, I want to sign a big, fat record deal.” Which, who knows, maybe that was genuine for them.

Right now my genuine concerns are actually along the same lines. Not so much about a big, fat record deal, but rather the money and the cash, specifically in the form of the huge deductible on my budget-rate health insurance policy. The tentative plan is to call up the hospital’s financial services group and set up a five-hundred-year payment plan. (If you haven’t been keeping up with my web updates, I got a little tossed around by a wild pig.) On the flip side, I’m genuinely happy to still have both my legs and both my dogs.

I’m spending some time recuperating in the Bay Area while I wait for a follow-up appointment with the doc who stitched me back together. Yesterday I met up with a friend who lives in Oakland, and we drove up to the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond. A park ranger there saw my bandages and asked what happened to my legs. When I told her, her first follow-up question was, “Did it happen on public land?” It’s tempting to think that answering in the affirmative could have dramatically increased the National Park Service’s pig management budget.

This morning I went out for brunch with a former co-worker, and tonight I’m going to a barbecue that a chemist friend from college invited me to. Being in a big city for a few days has begun to feel like normal adult life, which has me thinking a lot about settling down after all this travel and starting to work on the next chapter of my life.

I love and miss Iowa, my home state, but my feelings on the place are too complicated to sum up here, and I don’t think I’ll be making another attempt at putting roots down there. I have a hard time feeling at home in places, and the only times I’ve ever really felt at home were living in Iowa, and also traveling this summer with no home. Life is complicated…

Art by mail: A South Dakota collage

Postcard collage of South Dakota flag, dinosaur, and truck

Message on postcard:
Hello Rolf! It’s nearing 5 p.m. in Berkeley, California as I write this. When you supplied your contact info for this postcard, you added a little note: “Faced with a choice, do both.” As it turns out, that’s exactly what I did last week when I had an encounter with a wild boar.

Faced with the classic “fight or flight” choice, I first tried fighting, and when that didn’t work out so well I chose to take off. And as a result I have both a great story to tell and also I’m still alive! Here’s to self-preservation and the mother of all porcine fracases.

And so now I’m recovering in the Bay Area (the region surrounding San Francisco and the San Francisco Bay), hanging out at a coffee shop and listening to Foghat. Tomorrow I have a follow-up appointment with the doctor and I’m really hoping that he tells me everything is okay and that I should resume camping and travel and also continue listening to Foghat. Then he’d whip out a guitar and start shredding while a pair of custom crutches revealed themselves to be fog machines and also there would be a laser light show. But reality frequently falls short of my imagined hopes, leaving me disappointed.

Anyway. This postcard has South Dakota stuff on it, so I should probably talk about South Dakota. There’s a dinosaur here, but there are no dinosaur skeletons in the fossil-rich Badlands — it was undersea during the age of the dinosaurs. But there are lots of neat prehistoric animals — big mammals — fossilized there. I talked to a volunteer who found a tortoise shell the size of a car, but I was more interested in the mysterious and catastrophic end to his former career [as a TV broadcast engineer in Minneapolis] that he alluded to during his science talk.

Badlands explained

Detail from the reverse side of the postcard: The Badlands explained.