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Odd Pueblo: Tucson’s lone shoe

Tucson is not unique for having single shoes pop up all over the place. What is unique may be the frequency – and places – they pop up.

Pump in a planter/Ryn Gargulinski
Pump in a planter/Ryn Gargulinski

Anyone who has ever lost sleep wondering where these single shoes come from will be able to rest easy tonight.

The lone shoe on the side of the road:

This is an easy one. Dozens of pedestrians are hit every year here in Old Pueblo, some violently enough to get knocked out of their shoe. Many decide to cross the street willy-nilly while wearing dark clothing and avoiding crosswalks. Some trample across the road, totally ignoring any oncoming traffic, and glare at the drivers as if daring them to hit them. Others, sadly, are hit by people who are drunk, drugged, stupid or just don’t know how to drive.

The lone shoe in the wash:

These are from murder victims.

The lone shoe in the Rillito River bed:

Several theories behind this one. If the shoe has any blood on it, you can bet the person was attacked and consumed by a pack of coyotes. If the shoe is clean but stretched at the ankle, the person was a victim of a javelina. The javelina charged at them hard enough to knock off a shoe. If the shoe has teeth marks, the person must have been using it as a dog fetching toy but the dog got bored and simply left it in the sandy reeds.

The lone shoe in front of the police station:

Drunks.

Where's his shoes?/Ryn Gargulinski
Where's his shoes?/Ryn Gargulinski

The lone shoe floating down Sabino Canyon:

Another easy one, as I’ve seen it in action. A person tries to cross the stream with his shoes and socks clutched in his hand and his backpack swinging from an arm rather than properly secured on his back. He starts to tilt, loses his balance, and drops a shoe. By the time he crosses the shoe has floated far, far away and lodged itself next to a mossy rock.

The lone shoe stuck somewhere strange, like on a stick in a concrete planter on Congress Street:

Art.

Shoe in planter/Ryn Gargulinski
Shoe in planter/Ryn Gargulinski

Please don’t confuse the single shoe issue with the single sock issue. The missing socks are always stolen by those evil elves who live in the dryer.

Where’s the weirdest place you saw a lone shoe?
Did you ever lose a single shoe? What did you do?

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Unidentified moth named after Tucson woman

Tucsonan Lee Walsh is a lucky woman.

Being married to a University of Arizona biologist must be exciting enough, especially if he keeps jars of fossilized specimens all over the house.

But she got extra excitement when her biologist husband Bruce Walsh, who doubles as a UA professor, discovered an unidentified moth while he was hanging out in the Chiracahua Mountains. The moth is pink, which is Lee’s favorite color.

Thus he named the moth after his beloved wife. Now officially known as “Lithophane leeae,” the moth can stop flitting around aimlessly confused while lacking an identity.

Unidentified Moth Named by UA Biologist, UAnews.org
While he only found a single Lee moth so far …Walsh said he is confident there are bound to be more. “If this thing is flying at the top of the Chiracahuas, it’s probably pretty common,” he said.
Finding it is another matter because moths like Lithophane tend to over-winter at higher elevations, hibernating when there is snow on the ground and flying off at the first signs of spring. Walsh said bats are the primary predators of moths, and so if the insects can make it through the winter, when bats hibernate, they will likely do well as the weather gets warmer.
As to why L. leeae hasn’t been found before, Walsh theorized that his specimen simply emerged late from hibernation when it was caught. Another theory is that it could be a stray from another mountain range in the region. He said there are a number of species that fly early in the summer and are rare in collections and not often seen in most years.

Having a moth named after you is certainly a thrill, much nicer than sharing your moniker with an infectious bacteria or disease. Poor Lou Gehrig.

Others are honored by sharing their names with roadways, parks and special sandwiches at the local deli.

My biggest claim to name fame is having a goat named after me, which is none too shabby if I say so myself.

A goat named Ryn/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
A goat named Ryn/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

What would you name a moth if you discovered one?

Have you ever had anything named after you?

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