Sweet Dreams Are Made of This.

It started to get hot here on the north shore of Long Island in May. So since May 29, I have been getting up at 4am to make a piece of toast, feed the cats, read Twitter, and head out the door for my 6-mile run.

Well, I actually hate to run (I haven’t had to move fast since I was 26 because I’m a grown up and nobody can make me do anything I don’t want to do because that’s the reward for getting old and getting closer to death) so let’s say that I go at a very fast walk.

No matter how stinking hot the day will become, the air at 4:30am is deliciously cool, and it’s a fine thing to be out in the pre-dawn and breathe in the light that miraculously turns the skies from black to heavenly blue. I highly recommend it.

On Wednesday of this week I did my early morning trot as usual, then I showered and did laundry and mopped the kitchen floor and it was while I was putting fresh clean sheets on the bed that I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to sleep right now?”

It was 9am. And since I’m the only boss of me (see above) I gave myself permission, right then and there, to give in to my latest whim. So that’s what I was doing last Wednesday, instead of blogging. I was sleeping the rest of the morning way, and having weird dreams (about Korean verbs, for one; and about being back in the Peace Corps in Africa, for two) and then I was laying in bed and watching Netflix on my iPad for most of the afternoon. It was heavenly. The To Do List police never caught on.

Self-indulgence. I highly recommend it.

The other exciting news is that we got our little Sputnik (“voyager”) back from its trans-America tour!


The little rock from Stromness, Orkney has completed its journey of 8,465 miles across our United States and is sitting on my desk as I type this, making sure I tell the story of its last, great visit with one of our Dear Readers in the land of Carolina del Sud.

Curtesy of host and OG Dear One Maryanne from SC, The Rock has allowed me to quote from the letter it has written to the Scottish mum who awaits her little pebble’s return to the islands in the North Sea:

Dear Mum,

Greetings from the ridiculously hot, humid Palmetto State, South Carolina and its capital, Columbia. To say your boy misses Orkney’s cool breezes would be understatement.

It’s high COVID-19 season here, so I donned a mask and quarantined for a couple days with a fellow Scots rock, a wee lad from Dunbar Close in Edinburgh.  It was good to catch up wi’ someone from home.

Then I was ready to see the sights.

First, a shot of me in a palmetto tree. South Carolina, after all, is called the Palmetto State.

The palmetto+crescent design became South Carolina’s flag in April 1861, just in time to be flown over Fort Sumter, the day it fell to the Confederate Army.

Mum, compared to our Scottish history, South Carolina is not very old, and Columbia’s a very, very young city, a mere 234 years.

This is Columbia’s Main Street, as seen from the steps of the State House. See the soldier statue ahead of me? He’s looking to the north, watchful should the Union troops return. 155 years later and so far, so good.

Aye, the past is still very present in Columbia. The place where all the Confederacy’s money was printed is now the downtown Publix supermarket. A large cotton mill, first of its kind to run on electricity, is now the SC State Museum. Here’s one of its most historic sites, the First Baptist Church built in 1859 (below).

Or as you’d say, “recently.”

Who would guess that this ordinary red brick church was the place where the Articles of Secession were drafted on December 17, 1860?  Three days later South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union, effectively starting the Civil War.

So-o-o, in 1865 when General William Tecumseh Sherman’s scouts entered the city, First Baptist was high on their list of “Places To Visit.”

The church leaders knew that too, and carefully removed all signage from the building’s exterior. When the soldiers arrived to torch the perfidious site, helpful citizens directed them instead to the utterly innocent Washington Street Methodist church, a block away.

(See me in the lower right?)

Columbia has been a way station for several notable American painters. Your fave, mum, Georgia O’Keeffe, taught drawing at Columbia College,  and Jasper Johns lived here for a long while. But the artist most identified with contemporary Columbia is a guy named Blue Sky. This is his most famous work, a downtown mural called Tunnelvision.

There are several other Blue Sky murals and sculptures around town, but I really liked the gigantic Busted Plug, his tribute to his firefighter father:

(Can ye see me perched on the sign in front of the Plug? Again, just a wee blue dot…)

Another Columbia claim to fame: Hootie & the Blowfish. The band formed here in the late 1980s when the guys were students at the University of South Carolina, playing in bars in the Five Points neighborhood.

(Again, see me? I shinnied up the street sign pole to get close as I could to their honorary street sign.)

Columbia is also the site of the South Carolina State Fair each October, attended by thousands. If you wanted to meet up with your mates, you tell ‘em “Meet me at the rocket.”

I could go on, but I’m weary and looking forward to getting home to Orkney and seeing you.

Oh, one last selfie.

In Scotland, we tend to not make puns in Spanish, but trust me, mum, this is very funny:

Although Spanglish is a touchy subject here in America:

See you soon, Mum!

I want to thank all the lovely hosts who showed The Rock From Stromness outstanding hospitality these past months. There is a little reward for all of you who did the hard work of showing The Rock the sites of the Northeast (Massachusettes and New Jersey), the MidWest (Michigan, Michigan, and Wisconsin), the Great Pacific Great Northwest (Washington and Oregon), the West Coast (California), the Cowboy Empire (Texas), the Deep South (Florida), and the Genteel South (South Carolina). Check here next Friday for details.

In the meantime, as Maryanne from SC says:

Fuck tRump.

















New Yorkers painting BLACK LIVES MATTER on 5th Ave in front of Trump tower:

Next up: Renaming that block of 5th Ave “Obama Way”









In Cute News: The Animal Defense League of Texas took some of its shelter cats to the San Antonio Zoo to publicize both organizations while they are closed during the pandemic, although shelter animals are still available for adoption and the zoo is open for donations:

And here’s some photos of people and their dogs, as puppers and as doggos:

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones.

Tropical Storm Fay is scheduled to slam into New York later today (Friday, July 10) so YAY!! We’re having a Hurricane Party tonight!


And, of course:

11 Comments, RSS

  1. Adrienne

    I am thrilled that Trump has left New York City. But that Black Lives Matter on 5th Avenue in front of Trump Tower makes me wish he still lived there.

  2. Bunny

    For me, this weeks blog was like going to the movies. We all know, that going to the movies is almost impossible now, right? Forget about the gum under the seats, and the gnarly arm rests.
    Now, I read your blog from the privacy of my 10 X 10 “office”, and sometimes, like movies, I need to read them (watch them) in parts, see/read half now, the other half later. But this was like a really GOOD movie, i was captured until the very last F*ck tRUMP, and got thru it in one sitting!!!
    I was laughing hysterically, and then crying, and then laughing again, so thanks for taking us to places I would never normally go. Just like going to the movies.
    Have fun with Faye, and thanks for being a creative genius! So people have a natural gift.

  3. I love that there’s a street named after Hootie and the Blowfish. That’s so ridiculous. As I recall from her biography, Georgia O’Keeffe was not a fan of her time spent in Columbia. But having said that, it looks like an interesting place and I LOVE Blue Sky’s work!

  4. Casey

    I like what Bunny said, that today’s blog is like watching a movie. So many laughs, and so many thought-provoking words of wisdom. I need both and I’m glad that I always find that right mix here.

    Welcome back Rock! It looks like Columbia was a fine place to wind up the sojourn. Really? It was 8,000 miles!! Well done, Readers!

  5. Susie

    Worth the wait…we were spoiled with twice a week posts. Glad to hear your Wednesday was well spent. Running at 4:30 am…oye, Corona’s got me going to bed about then. I’m never going to be able to rejoin society.

    • Kirra

      Bit late reading this blog post but agree it was a good one. Those signs for people not wearing a mask are excellent and hilarious!

      Great to see the rock again, hope it’s chilling out on your desk now. It’s a good idea to go out at 4am to avoid people and then go back to bed at 9am!

  6. Megan

    Sounds like you made an excellent decision on Wednesday! Nice to see the “little rock from Stromness” out and about and seeing the sights. Hope Tropical Storm Faye is not too terrifying. Thank you for the thought provoking post, I got a few laughs those photos of dogs and owners were fabulous. Pat the cats for me.

  7. Rock, you rock.

    Speaking of rocking, my favorite tweet this week is the Freddie Mercury/spreading your germs all over the place. That’s good stuff.

    Last but not least: if I ever got up at 4:30 a.m. and then went RUNNING, I would not only take a nap at 9 a.m., I would just full-on go back to bed for the full day. Good on you, for both the getting up and the subsequent napping.

  8. Well, I knew Maryanne would show the Rock a good time and that she did. Educational, too! I learned a lot from this post — like Hootie and the Blowfish were from there! What a great tour. And now off the Rock returns to Orkney. Well done, Rock.

    I hope your hatches are batttened, whatever that means, and no damage comes to your town. Meanwhile, thanks for the smiles today and all the wonderful bits you find to share with us!

  9. Loved seeing the travels of the ROCK!
    You always find “fuck Trump” things that bring a smile to my face. What will we do when he no longer exists to talk about?
    Those dogs are so cute. That one fuzzy brown one with his arm around his owner and posing for a selfie is my favorite.
    Oh and I almost gave in one day and went back to bed. I guess I should have, but I pushed through. Next time I will think of you and go back.

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