Groundhog Day

Today is Groundhog Day in the United States, one of those throwaway observations that gets some cute stories in the news about a rodent spotting its shadow and a handful of opportunistic sales events sandwiched in between MLK Day and Presidents’ Day.  It’s ubiquitous enough to make it into the papers and the home page of your preferred search engine, but not significant enough to get a day off work.

I primarily remember Groundhog Day as a career-shadowing day for high school students.  When I was in high school, I spent one “Groundhog Shadowing Day,” as the administration called it, shadowing a college history professor at the University of South Carolina-Aiken.  I remember being overawed by the specificity of the historical research papers his college students were writing (in the way a first grader marvels at a fifth grader who writes an entire paragraph, not just one sentence), and chuckling to myself at his pro-gun control op-eds.  Even back then I knew college professors were loopy.

The following year I had the opportunity to shadow my State representative, who I remember as having a rather red-cheeked appearance and jovial manner.  I was still under the impression that politicians were somehow elevated beings, people possessed of occasional foibles and shortcomings, but ultimately intent on serving the public interest.  Ah, yes—the naïveté of youth.  I’ll never forget an energy lobbyist slapping him on the back and telling me, “I know Skipper will look out for us.”  Indeed.

Otherwise, Groundhog Day doesn’t loom large in my mind other than as a fun Bill Murray movie in which he woos a beautiful South Carolinian, Andie MacDowell.  Indeed, that film seems to have brought the holiday into the larger consciousness of Americans, as it had largely been a Mid-Atlantic—Pennsylvanian, really—observance up to that point.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: The Campaign Trail: Lamar Christmas Parade

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As I noted a few weeks back, I’m back in the arena, making my second run for Lamar Town Council. With the election five weeks away, I’m trying to get out there to meet more folks.  I’m not sure if anyone else filed, but last time I lost to a write-in candidate, so even if I’m running unopposed, I’m not taking any chances.

Because it’s a special election—the date is 12 January 2020—part of the campaign is simply letting people know there is an election.  Like the last special election (which was rescheduled from May to July due to The Virus), I expect turnout will be low, simply because it’s at such an unusual time of year, and because most people won’t realize there’s even an election in the first place.  Of course, this election won’t be a week after the July Fourth, so I anticipate slightly higher turnout.

So I hit the campaign trail by heading down to Lamar’s “Christmas on Main” event, and sticking around for the Christmas Parade.  Here’s a brief update of what it was like.

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Phone it in Friday XVI: Week in Review (5-8 October 2020)

I’m out of town for a few days, so I’m resorting to something I rarely do:  a week in review post.  Some bloggers feature these weekly, such as my blogger buddy Mogadishu Matt.  I sort of did one back with “Lazy Sunday LVIII: Spring Break Short Story Recommendations Recap,” but that was more a review of a week-long series of posts, not a review, per se, of the week itself.

Ah, well.  That’s just nit-picking.  Here’s what I wrote about this past week:

That’s it for this edition of Phone it in Friday.  Here’s hoping I wrote some material good enough that you don’t mind reading it (and reading about it) again.

Happy Friday!

—TPP

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Soda City Market

This week’s posts are going to be a bit more treacly than usual, as I’ll be out of town later in the week and am pressed for time (it’s the end of the quarter, which is always crunch time).  I will hopefully be able to cover the vice-presidential debate this week, but otherwise, I’ll be sticking to more lighthearted fare.

To that end, I thought I’d share about my visit Saturday to the Soda City Market, a weekly farmers and crafts market in the tradition of “European street markets,” per the market’s website.  It reminded me a great deal of Aiken’s Makin’, just in downtown Columbia:  lots of wood crafts and foods you’d only eat a festival.

I’ve missed festival season thanks to The Age of The Virus, so it was good to get out and see throngs of people buying wooden bric-a-brac and eating fair food.  Many festivals have been cancelled this year, or have seriously downsized (the Ridge Spring Harvest Festival, for example, just put on its “Battle for the Ridge” barbecue cook-off this year, and cancelled the other festival events) to comply with health and safety guidelines.

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TBT: The Joy of Autumn

It is—to use a Southern expression—hotter than blue blazes here in South Carolina, as it always is in early September.  Lately, the extreme heat and humidity have made any outdoor activities unbearable, at least for yours portly.  The air is thick and muggy.

But there is some relief in sight.  We’ve had some rainy days here and there that have given brief—fleetingly brief!—tastes of autumn.

Autumn is, by far, my favorite season.  After the brutal oppression of summer, autumn is a welcome relief.  Autumn in South Carolina is brief, but lovely—the days are warm, the nights crisp.  The season makes it stately arrival fashionably late, usually late in October or early in November (though Halloween always manages to be hot; just once I want an Indiana Halloween!).

The cooler weather brings with it better smells:  pumpkins and spices replace the persistent smell of cut grass and sweat.  Food tastes better in autumn, too.  There’s a reason candy apples are an autumnal fair food:  that thick, sugary, caramel coating wouldn’t last in the humidity of summer.  There’s also the pies:  pecan and pumpkin, of course, but also sweet potato.

Oh, and there’s college football.  The SEC hasn’t (yet) betrayed fans like the West Coast conferences.

So, here’s hoping autumn returns sooner rather than later to South Carolina this year.  With that hope—and prayer—in mind, whip out the pumpkin spice and enjoy November 2019’s “The Joy of Autumn“:

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Lazy Sunday LXXI: Road Trips

Well, we’re headed back from Universal Studios after a fun-filled visit (I’m assuming as such; I’m actually writing this post before the trip, so it may very well have been a disaster, but I prefer to be optimistic).  It seemed like a good time to review some of my road trip posts.

Back in Fall 2019—in The Before Times, in The Long, Long Ago, before The Age of The Virus—I was on a festival kick.  Every small town has some obscure but beloved festival (here in Lamar it’s the Egg Scramble), usually dedicated to some local foodstuff or cultural group.  Most of my recent road-tripping has been on those kinds of excursions.

As such, this edition of Lazy Sunday will have a good bit of overlap with “Lazy Sunday XXXII: Festivals“—I mean, it is Lazy Sunday, after all.

  • SubscribeStar Saturday: Aiken Amblings” – This post is about the annual Aiken’s Makin’ crafts festival, which my hometown hosts every September.  It’s a huge draw, bringing tons of vendors and visitors to downtown Aiken’s parkways.  I have many fond childhood memories of running around at the festival, though it’s shifted its location (to its detriment, I think) and its spot in the calendar (because it’s earlier in September, it’s hotter).  It’s still a great deal of fun, and I always manage to find some fun gifts for my train-loving nephew.
  • SubscribeStar Saturday: Yemassee Shrimp Festival 2019” – Since I was a young boy, I’ve been riding through Yemassee and past Old Sheldon Church on my way to Fripp Island, which is out past Beaufort, South Carolina.  Yemassee is an old railroad town that straddles the line between Hampton and Beaufort Counties.  The Shrimp Festival is fun, sweltering festival with—you guessed it—lots of friend shrimp (and fried everything, for that matter).  I highly recommend making a day of it for reasons stated in the full post.
  • Road Trip!” – This post is about heading down to Orlando (a nice bookend to today’s post, while I’m heading back) and some of my meager backroad explorations around rural South Carolina.  There are a lot of hidden gems if you’re willing to get off the Interstates and look around.

That’s it!  I should probably stop typing while driving (just kidding, just kidding).  This return marks the beginning of the end of summer vacation—the tempo of back-to-school preparation will just pick up from here.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Giving Thanks (and a Sales Pitch)

Thanksgiving Break starts today!  For those of you that don’t work in education, here’s hoping you can enjoy some time off tomorrow and Friday.

I have some exciting, timely news:  my SubscribeStar page hit five subscribers yesterday!  That’s a huge deal, because SubscribeStar requires their “Stars” to have five subscribers before subscriptions automatically renew on a monthly basis.  So, a BIG “Thank You” to my five plucky subscribers.

For those of you interested in subscribing, here’s my Thanksgiving pitcheach Saturday, I post a fresh post for $1/month and up subscribers.  It’s an insanely good value—the price of a large specialty pizza per year—and I write some juicy stuff that I can’t put on the main site.

If you want to get generous and go for $5/month, I’ve recently launched “Sunday Doodles.”  I throw up a couple of my wacky, absurd, grotesque doodles each Sunday, usually with a brief explanation about when/where I doodled them.  Here’s a sample:

Sunday Doodles III, 24 November 2019 - Thanksgiving!.jpg

The SubscribeStar page includes around thirty-five posts at present, with probably thirty of those being essays.  Like this blog, I use that page to write about all kinds of topics, including:

…and, of course, candy apples.

Also, every Fourth of July week is MAGAWeek, which is a week of exclusives only for subscribers.

Now that I’ve turned giving thanks into a lurid bid for your hard-earned cash, let me close by saying that I am, indeed, truly thankful to all of my readers.  Blogging daily this past year has been a challenge at times, but it’s also been a blast.  I’m incredibly thankful for those of you who read the site, and for the great new blogosphere buddies I’ve met along the way.

Thank you for your support, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

—TPP

Lazy Sunday XXXII: Festivals

This fall, I’ve been hitting up a number of small-town festivals in an attempt to get out more to see the forgotten by-ways of rural South Carolina.  I work pretty hard during the week (indeed, most of today will dedicated to finalizing first quarter report grades), so I’m making a point of enjoying my weekends more.

To that end, this week’s Lazy Sunday will look back at some recent festival-going.  I should note that the full versions of these pieces are Subscribe Star exclusives; to read them in full requires a subscription of $1 a month or more to my Subscribe Star page.

  • Aiken Amblings” – This piece detailed my trip to my hometown for Aiken’s Makin’, a sprawling, two-day crafts festival that brings vendors from all over the Southeast to ply their wares.  I have fond memories of this festival from my childhood, and it’s still a major fall event.
  • Yemassee Shrimp Festival 2019” – This post is all about a long day trip to tiny Yemassee, South Carolina, for the Yemassee Shrimp Festival.  The trip also included stops at the historic Old Sheldon Church ruins and St. James the Greater Catholic Church in Ritter, South Carolina.
  • Candy Apples” – My paean to a typically autumnal fair food, the sticky, tart candy apple.  We had some good ones last weekend.
  • Festival Circuit: Ridge Spring Harvest Festival and Clinton Scots & Brats” – Yesterday’s post detailed a two-for-one festival day—my trip to the Ridge Spring Harvest Festival and Clinton, South Carolina’s Scots & Brats celebration, the latter of which was the source of the candy apples that inspired the previous Saturday’s post.

Hopefully there will be more festivals to come.  For now, I’ve got to get back to grading.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

SubscribeStar Saturday: Festival Circuit: Ridge Spring Harvest Festival and Clinton Scots & Brats

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Last weekend my girlfriend and I hit up a couple of festivals in western South Carolina, continuing our autumnal tour of festivals (which includes Aiken’s Makin’ and the Yemassee Shrimp Festival), the Ridge Spring Harvest Festival and Clinton’s Scots & Brats (a Scottish-German Oktoberfest).  Here is a little travelogue about our visit to these festivals, and the small towns that host them.

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