state flag

Above is the flag of the State of South Carolina.  It features a crescent moon and our beloved Palmetto tree.


Often our state flag is modified to make a point.  Its design lends itself to this kind of thing.  Credit to Gil Schuler Graphic Design (

A huge rebellion against the Confederate Battle Flag posted on the front grounds of our state house is brewing.  Again.  This is old news, of course.  One Republican governor recently occupied his office only for one term, and his support to take down the battle flag was a big part of his defeat.  Today, Saturday, the state house will be the site of two demonstrations.  At 1:30, a group organized under the idea of “let us vote” (for or against the idea of taking down the flag) and at 6 PM, a demonstration, as far as I can tell, sponsored by no one will demonstrate for taking the flag down.



Above credit:

I think the taking down of the flag may be achieved this time.  But probably not without violence.  I lend my physical self to demonstration anytime I can.  It is a right, and a powerful feeling to be part of a mass that believes the way you do.  But these days, one has to think twice.  If this event has no sponsor, will there be security?  This week in South Carolina, although almost nothing is being spoken about other than the tragedy in Charleston, there is the dangerous fringe element, one of which now sits in jail.  Should we go?  Should I subject my family to this danger?  If nine people could be murdered in a church while studying the Bible, my choice seems like a no-brainer.

In the 80s during the beginning of the AIDS scare, I sent my children to daycare.  It was the right thing to do even though kids bite and blood could be exchanged.  Some here pulled their kids out. Not in favor of stigmatizing anyone, or acting like Chicken Little, we trusted that nothing would happen.  Nothing did.

If it weren’t for the guns that are everywhere, I would trust this time.  Can I?


We are old, but still have a senior in high school.  In my entire life with children, this is the first time the advantage of public transportation to school could be utilized.  At first, it seemed like a miracle.   But even then, the experience was a little weird.


Our drive is more than two-tenths of a mile, off a dirt road, and off a state highway.  The students are not allowed to stand on a two lane highway to wait for the bus, so our driver comes down the dirt road to pick Garrett up and turns around in our drive, also dirt.  My bad:  our drive is pure sand; one cannot ride a bicycle down it.  Where we live used to be the bottom of the ocean.

The driver once tried to use the circle drive accessing our three buildings and with a tight radius, with the bus.  Nightmare for a gardener.  She almost took down half of an adolescent live oak tree, and a group of bridal veils. We all decided she would pick up Garrett down by the mailbox.

We first met our driver when signing up Garrett before his junior year in high school.  She was eating her lunch at the receptionist desk in the public area of the school.  She IS the receptionist.  And she drives a bus.  And she is the manager of the bus system for the school.  Lucky, she is her own boss.  And therein lies the problem.

We went to early Thanksgiving dinner at school last week.  On the way to the cafeteria, my husband spoke to the receptionist/bus driver.  She looked down, ashamed.  She knew what was going to happen.  We are trying to figure out how she looks at her job in this middle class institution of a public school.  She goes through the motions of running a bus on a route.  But running a bus on a route is NOT the job, the picking up of students on that route and getting them safely to school is the job.  Often she will come around 15 minutes early to our stop (or a little more or a little less). Garrett not being there, she turns  around in our drive, and leaves.  We can hear her back-up warning through the woods.

Glenn has been around the block (so to speak) with her many times.  He called Garrett’s old school in Missouri and requested the bus schedule handout that all the parents get at the beginning of each school year which shows the bus route and the window of time for arrival at each stop.  They were amazed, but they sent it for Glenn to show this bus driver and manager of busses.

Cultural differences run deep.  The idea that if she is running early, that she should sit at a stop for a few minutes (who knows?  Maybe the students on that stop will have time to make the bus) so she arrives at the rest of the stops in the correct window of time is beyond her (and her boss).  We think that part of the problem down here in SC may be that rural students simply do not go to school when it is cold. That would make her early if many stops did not have to be made.  Hard to believe, but this is South Carolina.

What she said to us at the Thanksgiving lunch is that her new aide on the bus is always on time, so they always leave “early”.  Digest that statement!  OK, so no notification of any kind to let us know about the good work habits of the aide?  No, we just smoothly slide by each stop wondering (or maybe not) why there are no students waiting.

It happened again this morning, after our little talk.



We will have ice today.  Glenn went to The Pig to participate in the bread and milk ritual just to experience a true southern impulse.

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He came away from it just as “other” as ever.  There was a knot of people around the bread section, which shares a wall with the restaurant, with the entry just beside.


There was a gaping hole in the bread inventory.  No white.  People were milling around, checking, rechecking, making sure.  Not sure what to do about this discovery, they hovered.  A cook came through the door of the restaurant to get more white bread for the customers.  She went back to the kitchen with nothing.

Glenn plucked a loaf of Martian bread, commenting to the crowd that it was healthier anyway, and left the group still trying to make a dollar out of 99 cents.



Misscommoncents nominated me as a versatile blogger, for which I am very grateful.  This characteristic is antagonistic to being a clear and easy voice on the web. Trying not to be, there is this thing though.  Some idea rises to the top and it will not be discouraged.  Even when there are other seeds of ideas, the purging of the dominant one just must be heard.  Exorcism.

This is my experience in visual art as well.  Often, it wastes a lot of time.

For this award, the obligation is to tell seven things about myself.  Since my writing is all over the place, hence the award, past blog posts might do the trick.

1.  Love art history…otally-the-guy/


2.  My digs are a composition, too.


3.  Love cats.



4.  South Carolina politics are simply absurd.

joe wilson

mark sanford

5.  I have the gene for colon cancer.


6.  Families have “stuff”.


7.  Love to garden.  All the time.


Many thanks for understanding my various interests, Miss Common Cents!


confederate housetramp art

My friend Sally commissioned me to make an urn for her late kitties.  They were dearly loved for their long lives.  Sally had them cremated, and the remains of her late cats are with her and the rest of her family.

Sally is a cancer survivor, as am I.  When she said that she meant it to be a final place for herself as well,  she wondered if the idea was too strange.  To me, it was incredibly healthy-thinking, and I pointed out (as if she did not know) that her personal use for the urn was a long way off.  I have found one way to keep the beast at bay is to engage in creative thinking and creative work.  Her therapist loved the idea too, so we started on this journey.

Tossing around the idea of a wonky house with a tin roof for the urn,   I saw in the South Carolina Relic Room at the State Museum in Columbia the structure on the left.

This is my cheap photo shot of the hand made thing.  First thinking it was “tramp art”, we got closer to see the unmistakable South Carolina raw materials:  shells from our beaches.  It memorializes many men.  Have no idea if it contains a useful inside, and what might be in there.  This gave me some ideas, and something to react to.  To the right above is a piece of tramp art, and you can see the similarities.


So this is Sally’s urn; photographed face on the structure is a little deceiving.

Found a little wooden box at the flea market for a quarter.  Perfect for a door opening, the cat portal, seen here above the steps at the entryway.  A little cat sentry protects.  In the cat portal are pictures of the two late kitties.  Tiny tea sets and salt shakers decorate the portal.  That’s one of Sally’s tattoos to the right of the golden salt shaker.


And there is a wonky rose window made of jewelry.


When the urn is turned, there is a better understanding of the structure.


Jewelry and personal items are included all over the surface of the house.  And pictures of the family.


I love the quiet side of the house.  It provides a nice relief to all the frenzy on the other sides.  Took four family pictures, cut them into equal fourths, and reconstructed them.  Isn’t that what family is about?


Below is the last side.  This house is a celebration of a family and of South Carolina, and it is going far away.


A rosary creeps its way along these last two sides, in contrast to a neon green weapon from Star Wars.  Had a tile that had the words “South Carolina” on it; smacked it with a hammer and used two remnants of the words.  No need for the whole thing.  The roof is made of chopsticks.


Under the roof is an amazing surprise.  Sally creates dioramas using dolls.  Bits of some of her best, which she made into postcards, line the inner surface.

This has been so much fun to work on, and is the first thing that Glenn and I have done together.  His expertise in the details with the creating of the house shape were invaluable.  Learned a lot.


Vince Sheheen, second time candidate for Governor of South Carolina, again running against Nikki Haley, visited a Democratic party fundraiser in Orangeburg last night.  Candidates for various state offices cooked southern food, and at the end of the evening all (almost all) voted for their favorite.  It was down home South Carolina politics.


He lost last time against Nikki Haley by 4.5 percentage points.  Had Sarah Palin not come at the last minute that special November,  casting her automatic weapon upon those that would receive, he might have won.  Since then, we have had much interesting activity as the Govette marches on with the Republican thinkers.  “I have to live my philosophy”, she replied to my friend who questioned her about people in this state who needed food stamps to feed their children.

All of the pertinent information about SC taxpayers has been stolen from the department of revenue, and she was forced to buy protection for all of us for a year.  Only a year, Govette?  How about for the rest of our business lives?

And then she tried to close down our fine Arts Commission and SC public television and radio.  “There are lots of channels to watch”.

Don’t get me going.  Can you find Vince below?

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This blog is about collecting, not politics!  We were not disappointed in this venue.  Hanging from the roof of this large party shed is everything “transportational”.  Located here were most of the railroad lanterns in the free world, deer antlers, old license plates, railroad signs, blasting horns, you name it.  Our host is a real collector.  He even had an old caboose on premises.

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The underside of this roof was amazing.  More is more in this case.  And my person won the food vote,  Congrats to Brad Hutto!



Around here, these are called  “Charleston bricks”.  Have no idea as to why.  Must be a small town South Carolina reference to the largest and oldest town around here created from bricks and cobblestones.


Last year, we began the piazza and then went on to other things.  Bricks came into our life again and we attacked the old project with gusto.


Glenn has created two brick pathways that strike out against the otherwise linear pattern of the piazza.



Working with bricks is so simple here in the Low Country of South Carolina.  Our ground does not freeze, and our soil is mostly sand.


We modify the lay of the work area with a box blade.   The sand in our driveway is virgin like beach sand and we mix it 2 parts sand to 1 part Portland cement.  Set the bricks, and let it rain, or water them.


Looking for a picture in my library that shows our sandy soil, I settled on this one, which features details other than the sand.  This is our house, hovering on rails, having been moved three miles.  Trenches are dug in the sand for the foundation block to go in, the next step in renovation.  The charcoal smudge in the foreground is what was left from an old burn pile.


At the left of the foreground of this image is a poured 1/2 basketball court.  The piazza will attach to that.


One edge of the “internal” brick path on this side has been measured out.


And now almost filled in.  More discussions of brick:…outdoor-shower/



Tannic acid.  What makes the slow moving Edisto river waters murky/black and a symbol of equally slow southern living is also making the deck around my pool a mess.  Above, the area under the blue line undulating like the Edisto behaves in the low country of South Carolina,  was grouted only two days ago.  Above the line to the left,  today.  Today, that grout is clean.  Wait until tomorrow.

To be sure, my aesthetic is shabby. I do not expect perfection.  Our house is a 1940’s farm house, mostly tongue and groove, and many planes meet other planes in a happy approximate way.   It is filled with stuff from that decade and the next;  my pocketbook can only afford these precious items that have a “history”—a history of being well used!  We all have our bumps and bruises.

But I will tell you what.  We have had a summer to remember down here.  Today is the first day we have had zero chance of rain since the middle of the spring.  Might have been the beginning of spring.  My head is swimming.

Don’t even know how to describe how wet this spring/summer has been.  Wilting, humid, dirty-feeling, wet-feeling, doing things outside in the rain because it just will not stop, crinkly body parts, fungus, mold, unrelenting, opposing optimism, ponds in places they do not belong, mosquitoes where they were not before, wet paper, wet bedclothes, wet wet wet.

moldI poured bleach on this black mold already where the bricks offset the old entrance to the studio.  Dangerous stuff.  You can see how it is still an issue.  And then there is mildew.

I have heard about mildew in old television commercials.  Saw it years ago on old cheap shower curtains.  It was the old experience of mildew that made me decades ago declare that a shower curtain would never darken my door again,  and ten years ago realize that showers did not need coverings anyway.  Of any kind.

But I never saw mildew as a kind of indoor snow before.  Inexperienced, this is what we did.  Happily living here without air conditioning in the big house for many years now., we invested in a whole house attic fan.  And Glenn had some kind of a system added with our recent construction to pull hot air out of our steep attic.  Both things helped, kind of.

Man did that fan pull the cool air out of the woods and into the house!  It was wonderful!  And this has not been a hot summer for us, just wet.  We would watch the indoor/outdoor thermometer and when temps equalized in the morning, we shut the house up and turned on the dehumidifier.  It worked!  Everything was tolerable until I found the white snow.  First on a fine old hand made table with a marquetry top, which had some varnish problems anyway.  Guess I kind of generalized the two problems together.  Head in sand.

But then I saw snow on the side of the dresser, and looking closer, everywhere.  Battle stations!  And the end of a certain way of life.  My weakness makes me sick.  Do you know what pushed me over to the other side?  Ringworm.  I got a fungus this wet, wet summer on my ankle.

Good bye to this part of green living.

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The other side of the pool deck has no damage from oak trees plus water.  Around it are hollies, papyrus, acuba plants.  Watch, next year we will be complaining about something else.


Ever since Joe Wilson upchucked his famous “You Lie” at Mr. Obama’s first State of the Union address (some say he added “boy” after it), good old James Pettigrew keeps coming up.

james pettigrew

South Carolina is too small to be a republic, and too large to be a mental asylum”.  I don’t know what event proceeded this remark, but it is never far from my mind weaving through life here in the prideful deep South.

Then there is the oft repeated  “Our headline is your punchline”.  Need I discuss our former governor, Mark Sanford, and his antics?  Most everybody knows the rough story of his fall from grace, his “soul mate”;  we all saw his tears.  But did you know before his re-election to congress recently he debated a full-sized photo of Nancy Pelosi on street corners in Charleston?  And he won?

Consider this sad domino theory.  Inez Tenenbaum is an acquaintance of mine, she and her husband Sam being huge supporters of the arts.  She ran against Jim DeMint for the position of junior senator from South Carolina.  She ran a great campaign and the national press loved her.  She appealed to Republicans very creatively :  “GRITS—Good Republicans for Inez Tenenbaum”.  But she lost.  It is really unbelievable that there is a Democrat left in this state.

Seeing Inez at a holiday party right after the election, she told me Jim was unhappy in Washington.  He resigned the first of the year to take a job at the Heritage Foundation.  RESIGNED?  After all the campaigns, all the hoopla, the people who voted for him, the people who voted for Inez, and he simply doesn’t want to play any more?  Who does this  (I know) ??

So DeMint resigns, Nikki Haley appoints a new senator from Charleston, there is an open congressional seat, the one Sanford used to hold, and now he is back in there like stink on shit.

Notice that I am holding off on the connection of Sanford’s opponent being the  sister of Stephen Colbert…or that the most prominent picture of Sanford debating the cardboard Pelosi was in front of the hospital in Charleston that his opponent worked for.   You cannot make this stuff up.

But there was something else I wanted to talk to Inez about.  It was one month beyond the election.  When I got into the voting booth, my choice for US Congressman was WRONG.  The wrong guy was listed, Jim Clyburn.  We get regular mailings from Joe Wilson, the “You lie” guy.  I have sent emails to him, as we all do when something we care about is forwarded to us in email.  He always responded saying something like  “I will proudly vote this or that way”—-no care about who or what he represents.  That South Carolina pride again.

How could this happen?  Inez has run big agencies in this state.  She was Superintendent of Schools.

Currently there is a bill coming out of committee that again wants to eliminate funding for public media.  I got an email, and I contacted my senator (only one was listed;  I suppose the new appointee hasn’t got his office running yet) and representative, the one I voted for, knowing it was incorrect.  Jim Clyburn’s office responded with a nice email, but saying that persons in his district were the only ones he could directly deal with considering the amount of email and requests he receives.

I found an interactive map of the South Carolina Congressional Districts.  It is so detailed, it practically has ditches enumerated.  It says we are in Jim Clyburn’s district.  So who or what to believe?  The map, the ballot, or the two US Representatives?


A friend lost two kitties this year.  Glenn and I are making a spirit house for them to live in now,  something that will also function as a piece of art.  By the time you read this,  she also will have two more kittens.  Classic cat-woman.


I watched her grow up as part of a family of three strong women.  Her mother was my framer and has been my friend for years.  Then the whole group went to the Northwest.  Way under 40, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and has been beating the piss out of it for two years.  And standing up to politicians who want to balance their budgets on the backs of the unlucky.  She does not go quietly.

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But she is not going anywhere (except back to work, brava!).   Not now.  What is remarkably healthy about this woman is that she is taking control where there can be little,  when in your cancer chapter.  This house will be for her as well, in the future.  To a  person who has been in dialog with cancer herself,  this is a fine idea.  Apply everything related to creativity and creation during your cancer interlude.  It can work wonders.  Creating anything is the exact opposite of being in decline.


She has been going through old pictures and little stuff for me to include on the surface of the house, and also inside it.  Wonky doors and windows will be defined by the people in the pictures.   Reminders of the beach of South Carolina will be imbedded in the walls.  I have found amazing little artifacts at flea markets to include, as if the universe was chucking them out to me.

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Stay tuned.