Archive for February, 2010

First Event of SC Arts Commission’s 2010 Canvas of the People Draws 20 People in Columbia, SC

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

I couldn’t be in Columbia, SC, for the first event of the SC Art Commission’s 2010 Canvas of the People on Feb. 22, at 6:45-8pm. It seems many others couldn’t either with only 12 days notice – even those living right there in Columbia. In Jeffrey Day’s blog, Carolina Culture, he reports that only 30 people showed up for this important meeting and 10 of those were with the SC Arts Commission.

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I posted notice of this call for public input within hours of receiving the e-mail from the Arts Commission. In fact, I did a follow-up blog entry on Feb. 18, 2010, encouraging folks to go to these Canvas of the People events. Day posted info about the event in his blog and The State newspaper serving the greater Columbia area offered an article about the gathering on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010 – the day before the meeting.

The fact that it took The State newspaper eleven days to offer its readers notice of this event is a whole different issue – assuming they got the same notice the rest of us got. But, then Jeffrey Day could address that issue better, since he was The State’s former arts reporter – let go last year in a staff reduction move by McClatchy Newspapers – owner of The State.

So, 20 people will have made their voices heard in the Columbia area – our state capital – for this ten-year planning process.

What are we to make of this?

Should we think that folks in the Columbia area don’t care what the Arts Commission plans – that it has no effect on them? Should we think that the art community and community in general in Columbia is happy with the way things are going in the arts? Should we think that sending an e-mail out to media outlets 12 days before an event is all you have to do to notify the public – regardless of when they will post that info – if they even do? Should we think that 20 people is enough to represent the Columbia area?

There are 16 days before the next meeting in Bluffton, SC – more days in between the 1st and 2nd meetings than the initial notice to the folks in Columbia. The folks in Spartanburg, SC, the location of the last meeting will get 51 days notice and the benefit of all the hub bub (they’ll like that reference) about the previous meetings.

Was this process fair to the folks in Columbia? I don’t think so.

When you look at the schedule of the meetings you see that most are less than a week apart – except for the first meeting – 16 days apart from the second. Was the Arts Commission in a rush to get the Columbia meeting over for some reason?

Here’s the schedule again:
Monday, Feb. 22 – Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia
Thursday, March 11 – Technical College of the Lowcountry, Beaufort area (Bluffton, SC)
Tuesday, March 16 – Governor’s School for the Arts, Greenville
Monday, March 22 – Black Creek Arts Center, Hartsville
Thursday, March 25 – Aiken Center for the Arts, Aiken
Monday, March 29 – North Charleston City Hall, North Charleston
Thursday, April 8 – Chapman Cultural Center, Spartanburg
For more information about exact locations visit this link (www.SouthCarolinaArts.com/canvas2010).

What’s the hurry? This is a plan for the next ten years. Let’s don’t rush through this process – leaving most of the people behind – only to hear about the process – after the fact.

I don’t know about the folks in Columbia, but I would be asking for a do-over if I was from there. Sure, they can go to any of the other meetings – all are welcome, but that puts the burden back on the public.

OK – let’s look at the darker side of things. Maybe 20 people is all that would show up anyway – even after a do-over. Maybe even less would show up a second time. Maybe less people are going to show up at the other meetings. Perhaps at the end of the process a total of 150 people show up for these meetings. What then?

The reality is, the SC Arts Commission will say that the people have spoken and they will write up their plan – based on what they heard? based on what they thought they heard? based on what they wanted to hear? based on what they wanted to do all along. What’s the difference?

What I hoped and hope people will do is show up to these events and tell them they have the whole process wrong. This is no way to plan for the future – not this fast and not without proper notice to the public.

Think about how much publicity – over a billion dollars worth – is being spent to let people know the US Census is coming. We’ll be so sick of hearing about it before it’s over – but it is so important to each state, yet a lot of people ignore it and many hide from it. In some ways you just can’t win when it comes to the public’s input, but you can make a better effort for people to know about it and see why it counts.

This is what Ken May, the acting executive director of the SC Arts Commission had to say in that article offered in The State the day before the meeting in Columbia. “While the economy has certainly presented challenges, the arts in South Carolina are still strong, and they still have a lot of community support,” May said. “The need for creative expression and aesthetic experience is a basic part of human behavior.”

In the article it also offered, “He pointed to a 2009 poll by the USC Institute for Public Service and Policy Research showing that 67 percent of S.C. adults participated in the arts in some way during the past year. The poll revealed that, on average, South Carolina residents participate in the arts 14 times a year.”

So, if participation is so high in South Carolina – why did only 20 people show up for the Arts Commission’s important planning meeting? Just twice as many people as staff members there.

I don’t believe or put much stock in such polls about the arts, but every time they have to stand next to reality – they look more fantasy and fiction – than research. They always say what the arts groups asking for the poll want. I hope the folks at USC were not counting football games as an art event.

So what percentage do you think 20 people is to the greater Columbia area art community? Not much.

Of course the explanation for such a low turnout might be that this is not the first Canvas of the People the art community in SC has been through and showing up didn’t seem to matter much to those who have participated before. The results of the process just didn’t justify a second or third trip to participate. It could be the old fool me once – fool me twice effect. And, it’s the same people doing the fooling too.

We need better ideas, better leadership, and a different group of folks calling the shots in South Carolina. But there doesn’t seem to be much chance of getting them any time soon.

P.S. – If you want to read what Jeffrey Day had to say about the Canvas event in Columbia, you better do it fast. He has announced his last posting on Carolina Culture as of Feb. 28. His comments about the Canvas process can be found in his Feb. 23 posting. His dealings with Carolina Culture may be finished, but I’m sure it’s not the last we’ve heard from Day.

Columbia Design League Launches New Public Art Initiative March 5 – 6, 2010 in Columbia, SC, with Teri Tynes

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

We received this press release at Carolina Arts about an interesting event to be held in Columbia, SC – focused around Teri Tynes – an old friend (she’s not old) and one of the bloggers we follow on a regular basis. In fact, after seeing Tynes’ blog I decided to jump into the blogging game. One day I hope this blog will look as good as her’s does.

Here it is:

Columbia, SC – The Columbia Design League, an affiliate membership group of the Columbia Museum of Art, launches a new public art initiative with Teri Tynes, former Columbia arts writer, gallery director and current New York City blogger. Tynes leads a thought-provoking discussion on Friday, March 5 at 6:00 p.m. at the soon-to-be-renovated Fox Theater on Main Street. She guides a conversation about ways in which all people, not just artists, relate to their urban environment. Citing examples from New York and Columbia, Tynes identifies the elements that create successful urban spaces. This event is $5 or free for Design League members.

At this event the Columbia Design League will announce a competition for art in public spaces called  “Play with Your City.”  The competition is open to everyone, not just artists, but to all those who think creatively.  The Design League will select a site for the project in the downtown area that has potential for creative growth.

The “Play with Your City” project invites everyone to think about public spaces in novel ways. This project is not about creating art and putting it in a space. This project asks people to fool around, think creatively and produce something that will improve the downtown experience.

Tynes leads an interactive walk on Main Street on Saturday, March 6 at noon, beginning at the Fox Theater. Participants are asked to bring a notebook, sketchbook, or camera so they can document what they see with words, sketches, or photos that Tynes will incorporate into a Web site. This event is free.

Tynes, the former director of City Art in Columbia, is now the creator and writer of the award-winning blog, Walking Off the Big Apple, a strolling guide to New York arts and culture. She has published articles forArtPapers, The Dallas Morning News, Independent Film & Video Monthlyand is the author of several contemporary art catalog essays. She is managing editor for The Moving Image, a journal of the Association of Moving Image Archivists.

For more information, visit (www.columbiadesignleague.org).

Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach, SC, Offers Tour of Exhibition – Feb. 27, 2010

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

We received this press release at Carolina Arts about an exhibit tour of fresh works by seasoned artists representing some of the best artists in South Carolina.

Here it is:

Art Museum Offers Tour of Milestones Exhibit

Bobbie Lawson, a retired Art History professor from Coastal Carolina University, will provide a guided tour of the Milestones: Celebrating 70 and Beyond exhibit at the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum, in Myrtle Beach, SC, at 2 p.m. Saturday, February 27. The tour is free and open to the public.

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Joseph Cave, Blue Ridge Dairy Farm, 2008, oil on canvas

Milestones are those momentous occasions that mark our lives, from birth to death and all the important events in between. Milestones: Celebrating 70 and Beyond, (on view through Apr. 25, 2010) comprises 27 South Carolina artists who have reached their 70th year and are still actively creating. The exhibition, features two works by each artist completed within the last two years, includes sculptures, paintings, prints, quilts, batiks, photographs, collages and hand-carved bowls.

Come enjoy the works of the “Who’s Who in South Carolina Art”. This exhibition features works from, Deane Ackerman, John Acorn, Bobbi Adams, Betty Bee, Carl Blair, Ethel Brody, Carrie Burns Brown, Edward Byrd, Joseph Cave, Ray Davenport, Jeanet Dreskin, Dixie Dugan, Maxie Eades, Tom Flowers, Darell Koons, Jean McWhorter, Rose Metz, Dottie Moore, Boyd Saunders, Marlene O’Bryant-Seabrook, Laura Spong, Barbara St. Dennis, Jo Ann Taylor, Carole Tinsley, Leo Twiggs, Sam Wang and Don Zurlo.

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Dottie Moore, Om, 2009, art quilt-hand painted cotton fabric

The Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum is a wholly nonprofit institution located across from Springmaid Pier at 3100 South Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach. Components of Museum programs are funded in part by support from the City of Myrtle Beach, the Horry County Council and the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Regular gallery hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Admission to the Museum is free at all times, but donations are welcomed.

For further information call the Museum at 843/238-2510 or visit (www.MyrtleBeachArtMuseum.org).

Pros and Cons of Donating Art for Art Auctions to Benefit Non-Profits – Any Non-Profit

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Well here’s a subject I feel I have dealt with many times over my 20 + years of doing commentary for any of the three versions of our paper or on this blog. As much as artists tell me they hate being asked to donate art to these fundraisers, how much they are often sorry and humiliated when they do, and how much it is hurting their market – they continue to do it – as a group, if not individually.

I’ll state up front that I have heard many more cons than pros on this issue, but then I heard mostly from visual artists who are on the giving end of this issue. And let me be very clear – many of these artists are happy and willing to give to many causes, but the number of times they are asked is just too many.

It should be noted that I am going to open the Comments link to this blog for the first time. So for all those folks who have been bugging me about taking comments – here’s your chance and if you don’t show up – the link won’t be opened again. (The Comments link is now closed due to all the good folks who wanted to bring you their commercials on the coat tails of this blog.)

I’m also going to make some links to past commentary I’ve made on this subject to cut down on this posting’s length and link comments made by artist in other blogs. Click on them for further opinions. It should be noted that some of these links will go back as far as ten years ago, so comments will contain dated references.

Why does this subject continue to be a nagging issue with visual artists? I’ll try and look at several points of view offered over the years. And, hopefully we’ll hear from some of the artists out there and maybe some of the organizers of these auctions.

Who is the Victim and Who is the Villain?

Who is to blame? Is it the charities and non-profits for realizing that artworks make the best and easiest auction items? Is it the Federal Government for making an artist’s donation of art to a charity or non-profit less valuable than a cash donation? (For those who don’t know – the IRS only lets artists take a deduction for the cost of materials it takes to make a work of art – not its market value.) Is it the art buying public’s fault for waiting for these auctions to grab greatly under-priced art for their collections? Is it some galleries fault for pressuring artists to give to causes that bring accolades to the gallery and gallery owners? Is it the artist’s fault for ever considering making such donations to begin with?

Maybe it’s my fault for bringing up this subject – time and time again. That’s what some people say – I’m to blame for artists’ unrest over donating art. But I neither make art or attend these auctions anymore – so there is no effect on me other then the effect art auctions have on the art market and art galleries in general and the resulting effect that has on our support base. Some folks who support us also conduct art auctions as fundraising events – so that factor may be a wash. My main problem is having to listen to countless stories and complaints from the artists about being under siege to donate art to these events. My sympathy is with the artists, but it does get old after a time – as nothing changes on this subject since some of the same artists who complain – keep giving.

I’m not saying all art auctions are bad. I’m totally in favor of art auctions which help causes that the artists providing art directly benefit from – like potters donating works to help keep the doors of the NC Pottery Center in Seagrove, NC, open. But, I’d think twice about donating to an arts organization or institution that would never let my work through the door.

I’ve heard from artists that Brookgreen Gardens in Pawley’s Island, SC, conducts a fair and positive art auction. Artists actually hope to be asked to participate, but I never see any public publicity about this auction, meaning Brookgreen has a waiting audience for this event and that means people may be waiting to buy art at this annual event. So there could be a downside for art galleries the artists don’t see themselves.

My advice to artists who complain to me has always been – sell your art at market value and then make a cash donation to the charity – getting a full tax deduction – if you feel the cause is worthy. No not donate your art, even art you have had collecting dust in your studio. How could a charity complain about that unless there is more to this practice than gaining funding for their charity – like the auction event itself.

Donating for Publicity

Yes, a few artists benefit from this practice, but it is only a few high-profile artists who are used as bait to gather in others. It must be nice when one of these few individuals are featured in a newspaper or magazine article on how their generosity helps provide funding for a certain charity or non-profit, but what about the 30 to 50 other artists who donated work to this auction – where is their publicity – where is their moment to bask in the sunshine of public praise? In most instances, I can barely get a full list of the participating artists. In those instances when we can’t get a full list – I won’t publicize the event on our website.

I’ve seen billboards promoting art auctions where just one featured artist has artwork presented on the billboard. I’m sure every artist contributing to that auction cringes when they pass one of those signs thinking, “I’m helping too.”

And every solicitation for donations to these art auctions always includes the statement – “This event will include artwork from the finest artists in (fill in the area)”. Who wants to be left out of that group? And do you think all art auction organizers are that picky to only accept works from the finest artists in a certain area, and if you don’t give does it then follow that you are not one of the finest artists – even if you might be considered one by your peers and informed authorities?

As an artist who donates works to these auctions, are you always glad your name is on the list when you see the full list of artists included in the auction? Or are you shocked at who is on the list and who is not – maybe even artists’ names that are not included but you were told they would be to get you to make a donation – it happens.

Is it Fundraising or all about the Event?

Some might be shocked to learn that some of these art auction fundraising events don’t generate a profit – that at the end of the day, the events cost more money than they generate or at best just break even. Some charities claim they have to throw a big party to attract the folks with the deep pockets. I always thought that the idea behind charity was for those with money to give to worthy causes – not expect the organization to go in debt hosting a fundraising event. The audience should be bidding up on auctions – not bidding down.

I once had the pleasure of asking an organizer of one of these art auction events why the event didn’t make any money. They explained that the cost in providing food, drink and entertainment for the event was more than the art auction took in. When I suggested why they didn’t ask the folks providing the food, drink and entertainment to donate their work – they were outraged at the suggestion and said these folks were professionals. I later found out that art works that were donated but did not generate any bids were taken home by volunteers working at the fundraiser – for all their hard work instead of being returned to the artists. I’m not usually dumbfounded by some people’s remarks but this was early on in my experience and I was just stunned at this person’s lack of respect for the value of the art being donated to their cause. It seemed that the artists who were making this whole event possible were holding the lowest spot on the totem pole as far as respect goes.

I’ve kept a close eye and ear out for this group and I’m happy to report that they have never done another art auction as a fundraiser – as far as I know. If they do – you’ll read about it here.

Not Just a Local or Regional Problem

This is not a local problem or even a regional problem – it is a problem for all visual artists nationwide and around the world.

Here’s a link to a commentary I made in our Carolina Arts‘ Aug. 2006 issue entitled, Fundraising With Art Auctions.You’ll have to scroll down the commentary to find the part about art auctions.

Some Comments from a few Blogging Artists

Here’s an entry from Joanne Mattera Art Blog about receiving requests to donate art and the comments her comments attracted.

Here is another entry by the blogging artist, Joanne Licsko about donating art.

It’s not hard to go to Google and search for comments about donating to art auctions and you’ll find all kinds of opinions – pro and con – mostly con.

Offering Some Alternatives

Here is a commentary I offered in the Dec. 2000 issue of Carolina Arts onHow NOT to get in a Gallery. It covers the issue of how art galleries feel about artists who donate works to numerous art auctions, how gallery owners feel about competing with art auctions and offers an alternative way to fundraising.

Here is a commentary I offered in the Mar. 2004 issue of Carolina Artscomparing three art related fundraisers taking place in Charleston, SC, during the same time entitled, A Tale of Three Fundraisers. It shows how creative or clever some folks can be in fundraising or boosting attendance.

Here is a Guest Commentary offered by Jerry Spencer, a gallery owner in Charleston, SC, in the Sept. 2003 issue of Carolina Arts about art auctions – offering his view as an artist, gallery owner, and art educator.

Congress could soften the blow of art auctions for artists by allowing them to take a market value deduction for their donations of art to non-profits – for art auction fundraisers or even for institutional collections. But it still wouldn’t relieve artists in demand from constant requests for donations. In fact, it could even make the problem more server.

So what do you think? Can artists ever break free of this practice or burden? Can charities, non-profit organizations, art institutions ever come up with a better way to do fundraising and give the visual artists a break?

I wish this would be my last words on this issue, but I know it won’t. I’m glad to be the point of the spear on this issue, even though the subject is exhausting at times. But I can only imagine how exhausting it is for the artists.

Here’s a real kicker. A week or so ago I got an e-mail from an artist who wondered why we didn’t do an art auction fundraiser to help us out of our financial problems – they would donate. They missed our color covers. I do too. I had been working on this piece for some time when their e-mail came. My answer was that we are not big proponents of art auctions, they were the first artist to suggest it, and I felt that we have mentioned our financial troubles enough that if there was a ground-swell of interest in doing an art auction for us – it would have happened already. I thanked them for their thought, but felt that readers have heard me loud and clear on this subject and artists are weary of art auctions. Besides we’re all having financial problems.

EDIT: Comments were lost in 2014 due to website difficulties.

Death of a Snowman by Tom “AM” Starland

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Subtitled:

The Incredible Shrinking man – a Blog-O-Drama

He started his journey one gray and dreary Friday afternoon, but before his arrival – these are the facts leading up to that point.

We were expecting rain and forecasters had called for chances of snow by the end of the day – a story we had heard many times before, yet most people’s hopes were always shattered with a million glances at the sky and their outdoor thermometers. Friday started much the same except there was no rain – dark gray clouds, but no rain. By 3pm small flakes of snow began to fall, but the temps were still at 34 degrees and every individual flake disappeared as it hit the ground or any other surface. A quick check at the Weather Channel showed rain covering our area. This was unusual.

I had over 25 years of experience with snow from my days of living in Michigan – a state where they say if you don’t like the weather – just wait ten minutes and it will change. I knew the signs of snow well. I also knew the horrible things that come with snow – things many of us northern refugees never speak of – we don’t want to revisit the pain.

My son Andrew claimed it must be colder than 34 degrees as it was snowing, but I told him it can be much colder high up above in the clouds to cause snow flakes to form and fall, but the surface temperature was much more important for accumulation, and accumulation is the name of the game for folks in these parts.

We saw snow falling in our small community on the eastern shores of Lake Moultrie – Bonneau, SC, just last year in November. For over four hours big fluffy flakes fell from the sky, but all committed suicide upon touching the ground. There was no accumulation. Accumulation hadn’t happened since the Christmas of 1989, over 21 years ago – after Hurricane Hugo devastated our area and the greater Charleston, SC, area as well as anything in it’s path up through I-26 to Columbia, SC, then on through I-77 to Charlotte, NC, and beyond, roaring at over 100 mph. We decided to visit relatives in Rhode Island for the holidays that year – and to enjoy some snow with our then two year old son. Later we learned we missed the longest sustained snowfall in recent Charleston history. I didn’t feel like I missed a thing.

By 4:30pm, the snow was still coming down, but the thermometer still read – 34 degrees. I told my son – we’ll see what happens after the sun goes down. If there is going to be any accumulation – if – it will show signs on the top of the cars in the yard – at least those that had not been driven that day. The cold hard steel is a good breeding ground for accumulation.

By 5:30pm, signs of slush were showing on the tops of two cars in the yard. Could it be happening? Were all the planets coming into alignment – as the weather forecasters claimed would be needed for the elusive accumulation effect. Checking the thermometer – it read 33 degrees.

By the time the unseen sun was setting on the lake out front, patches of white were showing on the tops of cars and other surfaces above the ground, but I knew that wasn’t enough to ensure ground accumulation – the real deal. But, it was enough to encourage me to dig out the digital still camera and plug in the digital movie camera to charge its internal batteries. Maybe there would be something to record on tape – perhaps a final message to loved ones or a final sign-off for humanity – who knows.

At 6:30pm I started dinner. My wife Linda would be home around 7:30pm after a 12-hour shift at the local 911 dispatch office. She called at 7:05pm and said snow was on the roads and they had been dealing with accidents all over the county for the last few hours.

I chuckled – Southerners just can’t drive in snow – much less rain for that matter. They just don’t know to slow down and they have no experience or memory of what to do in adverse weather conditions when behind the wheel of a car. They think they’re driving a snowplow. Elevated viaducts and bridges freeze up before other parts of the roads as the cold wind blows under them.

Linda had to pass over the dreaded Tail Race Canal bridge before she got home. My thoughts were – will I ever see her again? But, I didn’t say it, it wouldn’t help to call her attention to the dangers she faced.

I said, “Surely the Highway Department in Monck’s Corner would already be spreading sand on the bridge,” – they don’t use salt much in the South – they save it for cooking vegetables. But, she said they had no reports of that activity at work, so she said she would be taking it slowly. I just hoped some Yahoo wouldn’t ram into the back of her on the way home.

As I opened the door to look outside after turning off the phone – it was there – accumulation! There was about an inch on the ground and it was coming down hard. I started to have flashbacks to dark times in Michigan – then I came out of it when I heard something boiling over in the kitchen.

Linda finally made it home with stories of cars scattered along the sides of the road, and now there was at least two inches of accumulated snow – maybe more. We ate what could have been our last hot meal and then someone – I think it was our son – yelled – “Let’s go outside and play in the snow!” Oh, if he only knew what I know – he wouldn’t be so eager to venture into what some folks call – white death.

So like moths drawn to a bright light – we dressed for winter conditions. I told my son he would need more than flip-flops on his feet to deal with what was lurking outside.

As we opened the door, our faces were instantly pelted with stinging white flakes of cold moisture. You’ve heard about acid-rain? This wasn’t anything like that at all, but my brain was exploding with memories I had hoped had long faded to oblivion. And, the next thing I know a ball of solid ice whizzed past my head – missing me by millimeters. I heard the woosh and it was all coming back – my winter nightmares had found me – deep in the heart of Dixie.

Before I knew it – my misguided son was rolling a ball of snow around the yard – bigger and bigger and bigger. Did he know what he was doing? Did I transfer some weird wolverine genes to him?

I looked over towards the direction I last saw Linda and shouted to her fuzzy figure, “Do you see what he’s doing? Is this what we raised him to do? Tell him to stop!” but I could see – she was too far gone herself – she had this strange grin on her face and had her arms raised to the sky as if manna was falling from heaven. I asked myself, “Am I the only one who knows what’s happening here – what could happen? Has the world gone insane?”

I could hear little children screaming in the distance. They were probably lost – strayed too far from the safety of their front doors into the white wilderness – never to be seen by their parents again. Innocent fools.

I think I blacked out for a period of time or could have gone snow-blind, but the next thing I remember, I was helping my son lift this big mass of snow onto another massive boulder of snow and before I knew it – he was there – standing in front of our home. They called him – Snowman, but I knew him by other names – like “He who shall not be named” and “Mr. Fezzywink”.

He stood there silent as the pyramids and almost as big.

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Friday evening around 8:30pm

I asked, “What do you want? Why are you here?” He said nothing. He just stood there and starred at me with the blankest look on a face I’ve ever seen – except for Sarah Palin at a news conference. But, that wasn’t funny now and he didn’t catch my thoughts as he didn’t laugh either.

I shouted, “Is this about global warming?” He said nothing. I replied to his continued silence, “I’m a believer you know.” I had seen the movie, The Day After Tomorrow. I knew global warming doesn’t mean the earth will heat up – it cools down – in fact freezes over. He just starred back at me. The silence was maddening.

I starred back at him and asked, “Is this about Girl Scout cookies? If it is, I can buy a few boxes – if that’s what you’re selling,” but he just stood there as silent as the SC Arts Commission about one of my blog entries.

Well, I had enough. I was cold, wet and had already missed an episode ofTwo-and-a-half-Men I may have already seen a dozen times and there were better things to waste my time on – inside. He can stand out here all he wants in this continuing onslot of falling snow. If he’s not going to talk – I’m going to walk.

I went inside gesturing to the others to do the same – someone had to be a voice of reason – as I reached for the doorknob -an ice ball hit me square in the back. I didn’t even look back, I wasn’t going to give whoever it was the attention they so desperately needed.

In my younger days I would have closed the door behind me, ducked down out of sight, and quickly run to another door leading out to the back yard and sneaked up behind my attacker with two handfuls of payback, but I was much wiser now – I just turned and locked the door. We’ll see how they like spending the night with our silent friend. Unfortunately the person at the door was my better half, my voice of reason, and the person I would rely on to proof this blog entry – so I opened the door and two people slipped in. After a quick count, I knew we had all returned safely. I lifted the blinds on the door – our tall silent visitor was still there – giving me his back now.

OK. We’ll see if he’s still there in the morning and if he is – he’ll be talking or he won’t be staying long. Like Michigan, the weather in South Carolina can change on a dime. It could reach 60 even 70 degrees during the winter on any given day. And, even if it is 40 degrees – if the sun is shining – it can seem like 50 degrees. This isn’t going to be like 1989 – I saw the extended weather forecast.

Linda had to work Saturday and she was bemoaning the missed opportunities to play more in the snow the next day. I guess she could see the look on my face as she asked, “What?” I asked, “You want to play more in the snow? What! – with him?” Was this stranger here to take my woman?

We had left the outside lights on so we could see how long the snowfall would last so later I walked to the nearest window and peered outside to see him standing there. I thought to myself, “We’ll see how you feel after a sleepless night – bright lights will keep you awake and I might even encourage our son to crank up the Rock Band.” If I learned anything from the Bush administration – if – it was to treat your captured to bright lights and rock & roll. I might even waterboard him in the morning or would that be “snowboard” in this case?

By 11pm, we began to settle down for the evening (you can only take so much of an Olympic Opening Ceremony) and one more glance outside showed that the snow was still coming down. Maybe we will get the six inches predicted on the late news. As a 911 dispatcher Linda doesn’t get snow days. When a hurricane comes she doesn’t get to hit the roads like the rest of us – she has to pack her bags and move into the operations center. She had called for a patrol car to pick her up in the wee hours of the morning to take her to work. The roads would be like driving in a bumper car ride at the local fair for the poor folks who had to go to work on this Saturday morning.

It was a restless night, I got up just after 3am and went to the window – I think it had stopped snowing, but my eyes were blurry so I couldn’t be sure. When I woke the next morning just before 7am I jumped to the window like I was a kid racing to the Christmas tree to see what Santa had brought.

Wow, what a sight – it was what some call a winter wonderland – right here in Bonneau! The skies were clear and I quickly dressed and grabbed my cameras to make sure I got this all on the record – as it wouldn’t last long. I woke our son who may have just gone to bed a few hours before so he wouldn’t miss the sights and we both started to explore this new world outside. Our visitor was still there as silent as ever, but he was all fluffy now. His new look didn’t fool me one bit.

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About 7:30am Saturday morning

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About an hour later Saturday morning

We quickly discovered we had gotten almost 8 inches of snow and it was all the good kind of snow – snowball snow – good packing snow. And, yes, several times that morning I just caught a projectile heading towards me in time to dodge out of the way – my old instincts were returning from the fog of former wars.

As the amazement of this winter scene faded we realized that it was cold outside – very cold and our feet and pant legs were wet once again. This was a morning for pancakes. So we returned inside and I started the process – staring several times outside – wondering about our silent sentinel friend outside in between flipping cakes. Was he really a friend or what I expected – a foe? What did he want? Was this a sign? A harbinger of the future? I didn’t know, but I did know we wouldn’t have to put up with him for long.

After all, I had work to do – Friday was deadline day for our March 2010 issue of Carolina Arts and it was now a race to pull the paper together and hand it over to the printer. So most of my day was spend at the computer, plus the Winter Olympics had started Friday evening and I listened to some of the events in the background as I worked. Off and on I would need to go downstairs to the kitchen to get something to drink, have lunch, prepare for the next dinner – as I passed by doors and windows downstairs I could see the snow was fading and the wind was blowing the snow out of the trees. By sundown Saturday the scene outside was a whole different picture and the man standing just outside our door – he didn’t look so fluffy anymore. In fact, he looked more to his true character – dirty – with bits of leaves and small sticks covering most of his body. And, he didn’t stand so tall – so confident – so demanding.

I asked, “Would you like a cup of hot tea or cocoa?” to get a rise out of him. He said nothing. “The weatherman says it’s going to get cold tonight – down in the 20′s,” but as I said it I thought I saw a slight smile on his face and realized – that was a factor in his favor. The colder the better for him. Regaining my composure I added, “That’s OK, don’t worry – the highs tomorrow will be in the 50s and bright sun – all day.” He just stared back and I went back inside to cook another wonderful meal for my family.

But, Sunday turned out to be a partly cloudy day and I discovered that this wise guy had chosen just the right spot to stand in our front yard – in shade most of the morning, an hour of sun and then it slipped (the sun that is) behind a massive tree in our yard and again only an hour of direct sun during the late afternoon. And, like most days – an hour before sundown – the sun slipped down below a bank of clouds across the lake.

Yet, it was not totally a perfect Carolina day for this star of the silent screen. He was shorter, filthy as ever and his arms were beginning to droop.

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Late Sunday afternoon

I instructed him, “It’s not just the sun that is your enemy my good man – it’s the temperature too”. The 50 degrees had taken its toll. I wouldn’t have to put up with his glaring stare for too much longer. Before I returned to the warmth of our home, I asked him one more question – “Why does the Porridge bird lay its eggs upside down in the air?” He said nothing. My final reply of the day was, “Well then, you better stay on the yellow rubber line.”

I was having flashbacks. That was a line from a Fireside Theatre album from my college days. This guy was really getting on my nerves.

I think it was Monday or Tuesday when this silent stranger lost his head. It didn’t fall off – it just shrunk away. There was no hope of him talking now. His message, whatever it was would remain unknown. I didn’t care – I just wanted him out of here. He was blocking my parking space. Friday night as the snow collected in that large tree in our front yard I moved two of our cars out of the way of possible falling limbs – even in a good rain shower we lose branches – left and right.

By Wednesday morning it looked as if this joker’s head had returned, but on closer inspection his middle had shrunk away to what looked like a head. He was going fast. There was a growing pile of leaves, bits of twigs, and whatever else came off the ground as he was being made – all around this mound of dirty snow, yet behind his dirty covering – the snow was as white as can be and still – snowball ready. There was also a wet puddle spreading out from around his bottom base. Our stranger was hemorrhaging his life’s blood.

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Growing a second head – very clever

A day later, someone asked, “Are we just going to leave it there?” I thought to myself – gee, this guy has hung in there for five days after his arrival. What can we do – pitch him on the burn pile in the back yard, take him to the edge of the lake and give him a burial at sea (the lake does drain into the Atlantic Ocean in Charleston), or should we call 911? Who was I to make such a decision? You never know – it could snow again tomorrow, but I knew it wouldn’t. I finally decided – lets just see how long he lasts. After all, the Olympics were taking place – lets see if this guy has the stuff of Nordic champions. Does he have the endurance to go for the gold?

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Not a good Thursday for our visitor

By Friday afternoon – this one time pyramid of a man – was nothing but a small misshapen ball. His arms lay scattered at what was once his sides. Yet, there was enough snow there for a few snowballs. I told the group standing around the door inside our house looking at what was left of this once menacing figure, “Do you realize that by 8pm tonight – we will have had snow on the ground in our front yard for a full week?” It was amazing. A little disgusting too, but amazing. This is South Carolina – coastal South Carolina – the Lowcountry!

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Hanging in there for TGIF

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At 8:30pm Friday evening – a full week later

My hat’s off to you little man. Actually my hat was off of him too, but I now admired this silent visitor for his endurance. Yet, I wonder what his mission was. Did he come to warn us? Did he come to scare us – like the Republicans? Or did he just come to show us what Mother Nature can do.

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Early Sunday morning

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By noon Sunday – a 65 degree day

Look, he was no Jack Bauer – a man of action, but he lasted for a longer time than I’ve watched 24, American Idol, or Fox News for that matter. But, I hope it’s another 20 plus years before anymore of his kind come around here. I lived in Michigan, I know what winter is like – South Carolina is no Michigan. And, I’m glad of that.

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Sunday around 3pm – may he rest in peace

He left this world as we know it – Sunday afternoon – almost nine days after his arrival.

SC Arts Commission’s 2010 Canvas of the People – Should You Participate?

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

This entry is posted in reaction to the notice I posted on Feb. 10, 2010.

Yes, you should – whether you’re an artist, an arts administrator, or just a South Carolinian who enjoys the arts – especially if you are not happy with what the SC Arts Commission is doing or not doing. You can be sure they will get all their fans gathered together to be there to sing their praises. Mostly these are folks who have gotten money in the past, are getting money and assistance from them now, and hope to get money in the future. They’ll be called on to show up or they may have seen their last dollar from the Commission. They don’t play softball at the Arts Commission – so don’t count on them to say anything bad about the people they get money from – if they want to continue to receive money.

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I know I’m going to show up to as many as I can to get my two cents in. And, I’ll have my copy of the last Canvas of the People report. Most people won’t bother – they’ve long ago written off the SC Arts Commission as an agency that would assist them in their creative pursuits. They see no reason to spend time making input where they have seen no results. That’s too bad and in some ways they are counting on that factor. If you’re not happy with them – they surely don’t want to hear from you for one hour and 15 minutes.

One hour and 15 minutes – that’s all the time it takes to come up with a plan for the next ten years. That’s how long the forums will take place – each runs from 6:45 to 8pm. Man, I’ve spent more time than that on some entries to this blog. This should tell you how much they think the public’s opinions are worth. They will give the good citizens of South Carolina 8 hours and 45 minutes to voice their opinions on policy that the Arts Commission will use for the next ten years. How crazy is that?

Just think of two years ago and how different things are today.

Making a ten year plan is just stupid – especially when you are never graded on how well you did with the goals of the previous ten year plan.

This process should happen every two years, and at the end of two years a public review should take place to grade their progress, determine what goals should be scrapped or kept until accomplished – if the goal is still needed. There are too many changes that take place in the span of ten years to make most of the goals relevant. And, if you can’t make something happen in two years – it may never happen. But, ten years – the art community’s needs will change over and over again before ten years goes by.

Here’s one goal of the last Canvas:

Marketing and Advocacy

“In order to build an environment in which the arts can thrive, we must deliberately raise the profile of arts providers and supporters in South Carolina. We must increase the public’s understanding and appreciation of the artistic process and gain more and better coverage and criticism of the arts through all media outlets. We must build understanding of the relationship between community development and the arts until the arts are regarded as a vital resource for prosperity and health by the businesses, citizens, and government leaders of South Carolina. We must keep the arts on the public agenda at the local, state and national levels and influence public policy in favor of the arts.”

I don’t want to go over this whole ten year plan – so I will cherry-pick one of the objectives they came up with to accomplish this goal.

Objective # 2. Train artists and arts organizations in professional marketing techniques, and build skills throughout the arts community in obtaining press and media coverage.

I have some first hand experience with this. And, I’ll just provide a little slice of my world on how well they are doing.

Up until two months ago the Arts Commission wasn’t sending me press releases at all because I’m a vocal critic of their agency. Many major and small arts organizations in SC can’t get press releases to Carolina Arts by our deadline – just three weeks before our paper hits the streets – while others can do it every month. And, many more don’t do any press on their events beyond expecting their local paper to cover their event. How does that “keep the arts on the public agenda at the local, state and national levels”? Many of the art groups in SC don’t even use the Arts Commission’s source of arts info – Arts Daily. The Arts Commission is using Twitter to spread news, but anyone following up on it won’t find much useful info.

Example: Here’s a Tweet posted on the  the Arts Commission’s Twitter page with the date stamp – 9:22am on Feb. 4, 2010 – “Hartsville happening! RT @blackcreekarts: Nine Exhibits Opening Tonight at BCAC. Meet the artists 5:30 to 7 p.m. Free. http://bit.ly/be29A8″.

This is the morning of the event – I guess it’s for people who don’t plan things until the last minute. And, if you follow Tweets – I guess that means you.

When you click the link in the Tweet you are taken to a blog of the Black Creek Arts Center in Hartsville, SC, which lists the date and hours for the reception for nine exhibits being presented. No info was offered as to how long these exhibits would be on display beyond the hour and a half of the reception. A phone number and e-mail address is offered – I guess for further info. The blog entry is dated Jan. 30, 2010.

When I click on the links of each of the nine exhibits listed to find more info, I’m again just given the date and times for the reception. Funny thing, each individual link says that this is one of eight exhibits being offered, yet nine are listed on the blog.

Fifteen minutes into one Tweet, a trip to a blog and nine links offering info about each exhibit – I don’t know if these exhibits will be on view for longer than 5:30-7pm on Feb. 4, 2010. I’d have to make a call or send an e-mail for that – at this point. And, doing that is no guarantee of further info.

Next, I click the heading to go to the top of the blog page to find a link to the Black Creek Arts Center’s website – if they have one –  and it takes forever for it to come up – loading a slide show. I see no link so I click the profile link which has the words “Black Creek Arts Center” which I think might be a link, but it takes me back to the front page of the blog.

Next, I go to the Red Hot Links page of Carolina Arts and no website link for that group is there – which tells me something. Next stop Google. I find the website and look for info about exhibits. I click a link for Upcoming Events and I get the blog again. I click a link for The Jean & James Fort Gallery and get less info than the blog offers. I click a link for the Cultural Calendar and it only lists the date and time for the reception of one of the nine exhibits. I’m getting nowhere on this website.

I go back to the Red Hot Links and click on the Arts Commission’s Arts Daily link to see if they offer any info on these nine exhibits. I go through the search process and find no exhibit listed for Feb, 4, 2010, in Hartsville. I go to the Browse selection to search through 275 entries. No mention of any exhibits by the Black Creek Arts Center. And, not many other exhibit listings are found there either. I’d say 250 of the listings are performances. But that’s not the Arts Commission’s fault that people don’t use their site – except that they could require people they give funding to to use it.

From one Tweet on the Arts Commission’s site to the BCAC’s blog and website and back to the Arts Commission’s art calendar – I can’t find if these nine exhibits will be on view longer than 1 1/2 hours and I spent the same amount of time looking through all this modern technology and writing this entry that you will get to tell the Arts Commission about what you think they should do in the next ten years. I didn’t bother looking at their Facebook page. I have no expectations of finding any further info there.

I’m saying lets look back first to see where we are now before we try and plan the next ten years. And, in my opinion we are not very far in 2010 from the last Canvas’ goals made ten years ago.

You ask – Tom, why not just call the Arts Center and ask them about the dates of the exhibit? But, that’s so 20th century. They are using modern day technologies to reach the public to offer information – but not much information.

Is this the results of the last ten years of work on the part of the Arts Commission on Objective # 2 – “Train artists and arts organizations in professional marketing techniques, and build skills throughout the arts community in obtaining press and media coverage.”

The Black Creek Arts Center in Hartsville is one of the locations for the Canvas of the People on Mar. 22, 2010. I hope the Arts Commission spends some time with them about communicating useful information before the Canvas – at least a couple hours.

So why go to these forums – their description of the meetings, not mine, as I wouldn’t call the format of the last Canvas an open forum. I felt more like a cow being herded into a slaughter house. They controlled the whole process and there was no possibility of stepping out of their box.

The reason you should go is to show your discontent – if you are not a happy camper, to put in your two cents worth, offer an opposing voice to the fans and to see the process. They’re going to march through it anyway and make a plan no matter what – I’m sure because some funding depends on it. Whether it ends up being their plan or the people’s plan – my bet is on past history. After all, it’s the same folks who did the last one and the one before that.

By the way, I’ll add the Black Creek Arts Center’s (www.blackcreekarts.org) website to the Red Hot Links pages when I  update – not that it will do anyone any good in its present state.

Attention All Face Jug Potters – Lenoir, NC is Calling

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

We just received this call for entry at Carolina Arts to potters who make face jugs. Spread the word. There’s not much time to act.

The Caldwell Arts Council in Lenoir, NC, is calling all face jug artists!  Plan now to participate in the April 2010 “Any Face Goes” exhibit at the Caldwell Arts Council.  Your whimsical/scary/cute face jugs will be displayed all over the Caldwell Arts Council along with quilts exhibited by Tina Cockerham and Clary Stimson. Please contact the Caldwell Arts Council at 828/754-2486 to register your interest in providing face jugs for this event prior to Feb. 26, 2010.

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“Clown Face” by Jeff Young from the exhibit, Fire in the Valley: Catawba Valley Pottery Then and Now, shown at the NC Pottery Center in 2009.

Launch of National Quilt Trail in South Carolina – Feb. 16, 2010 in Walhalla, SC

Monday, February 15th, 2010

I guess all things come to South Carolina – eventually. I received an e-mail about this event from the Blue Ridge Arts Council in Seneca, SC, a few days ago and I wish I had gotten to it sooner now that I’ve looked into this Quilt Trail thing. But, with the big snow fall and our deadline for the March issue of Carolina Arts, I kind of let this spoil on the vine some.

Here’s the press release we got:

February 16th, 2010 – Oconee Heritage Quilt Trail

Contact: Martha File, by calling 864/885-1018, e-mail at (info@oconeeheritagequittrail.com) or Cynthia Leggett at 864/985-1271.

The public is invited to the dedication of the Oconee Heritage Quilt Trail (OHQT) on Tuesday, February 16, 2010.  The dedication will begin at 4 p.m. at Keowee Elementary School located on Keowee School Road.  It will then move to the Oconee Conservatory of Fine Arts (, located across from the Walhalla Civic Auditorium, 101 East North Broad Street, Walhalla; and will end at the Oconee Heritage Museum, located at 123 Brown Square Drive, Walhalla, at approximately 5:15 pm.

The OHQT is sponsored by the Blue Ridge Arts Council in concert with a group of volunteers dedicated to putting South Carolina on the National Quilt Trail. The first three quilts have been completed and several others are in production. The quilts have been painted on specially prepared boards to be mounted on buildings in the area.

The patterns and their locations include a Mariner’s Compass pattern painted by students of Keowee Elementary School to be hung at the front entrance; a Goose in the Pond pattern to be hung on the Oconee Conservatory of Fine Arts; and a Rocky Mountain Road pattern to be hung on the Oconee Heritage Center. This last quilt is on display in the Heritage Center and was originally made by Lena Mae Land Talley of Mountain Rest, SC.

Please visit the Oconee Heritage Quilt Trail web site for history of the National Quilt Trail at (www.oconeeheritagequilttrail.com).

Blue Ridge Arts Center, 111 E. South Second St., Seneca, SC 29678-3403; Phone/Fax:  (864) 882-2722
E-mail:  (office@blueridgeartscenter.com)
Web:  (www.blueridgeartscenter.com)

End of press release

Frankly, I had never heard of this National Quilt Trail before this e-mail, much less one in South Carolina or North Carolina for that matter, but after a little searching of websites and the Internet, I’ve learned it started in Ohio and is now in 24 states. And, now it’s come to South Carolina. It’s a pretty interesting subject.

What surprised me the most is how much North Carolina is into this Quilt Trail as tourism development – it’s quite widespread in Western North Carolina which has its own website – Quilt Trails of Western North Carolina.

I found this notice of a quilt road rally on their site:

Quilt Trails of Western North Carolina is holding two Road Rallys in 2010: June 26, 2010 and November 5, 2010. The June Rally will end with a Bar BQ sponsored by Carolina Mountain Lifestyles, at The Cove at Celo Mountain. (Details for the November Rally are not yet finalized.)

This fun-filled rally will feature a long version (about 5 hours) and a short version (about 2 hours), with a shotgun start at Mountain Heritage High School in Burnsville, NC, at 8am for the long rally, and 12 noon for the short rally. Prizes will be made by local artists. All contestants must be back no later than 5pm or will be disqualified.

The goal of each Rally will be to find a set of painted quilt blocks on a list you will be given, by driving the fewest miles. The Rally will take you throughout Yancey and Mitchell Counties (NC) at a really lovely time of the year. You will see beautiful farmland, mountain vistas, waterfalls, bold streams and quaint towns. Cost to participate will be $35. Save $10 by registering online before June 15. Rally will be limited to 150 cars. For more information, call 828-682-7331.

Now that sounds like a real interesting way to visit these areas.

I also found some websites for different WNC counties participating in this National Quilt Trail. Here’s some links: McDowell County, NC, Quilt Trail,Macon County, NC, Quilt Trail, and Avery County, NC, Quilt Trail.

Here’s a few photos from the Avery County Quilt Trail site showing some of the quilt designs and the buildings they are on.

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#15 Mountain Laurel, created by Mickey Banner’s Advanced Art Students at Avery High School at the Avery County Morrison Public Library, Newland, NC.

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#14 Storey’s Star, created by Fred Pfohl on a barn of Wilma Storey, in Elk Park, NC (across the street from Beech Mountain Elementary School).

HandMade in America an organization based in Asheville, NC, that has been instrumental in helping small towns in WNC use the visual arts to develop cultural tourism and commerce has received a grant to help communities in WNC become part of the National Quilt Trail.

And, we’re just catching up in South Carolina. Well, as I was always told by the folks at the SC Arts Commission when I asked them why they are doing something a certain way – the response usually was – we do things this way because that’s what they do in North Carolina – but, I’ve learned in the last twelve years – that ain’t so! Folks in NC are very aggressive when it comes to using the arts to develop tourism and South Carolina just never seems to get it.

I hope to have more on this subject in the future – that is quilt trails in South Carolina. And, yes – there will be more about the SC Arts Commission – but then you knew that.

Morning After Snow in Bonneau, SC – Feb. 2010

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Well, as you can see, it was a winter wonderland – the morning after. It was well worth the 20+ year wait.

The only problem – it took some time to find the cord to download images from the camera into the computer.

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Here’s our evening snowman in the morning.

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This is looking out our front door.

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Another view across the street.

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Simply amazing!

I hope we don’t have to wait another 20 years for this to happen again, but then again, I hope we never have another winter as cold as this one.

Snowing in Bonneau, SC – Again in 2010

Friday, February 12th, 2010

This strange winter has delivered just about all the things I lived with back in Michigan, so many years ago – except the days when it’s 60 and 70 degrees in between.

Today it started to snow at about 3pm and it hasn’t stopped yet at almost 11pm. We went out after dinner and made this snowman. I can’t wait to see what it looks like outside tomorrow morning.

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This isn’t Washington, DC, but it’s just as strange to us here in South Carolina.