Guest Columns

Seeking Unity Globally and Locally

It’s not news, of course, that our long and divisive election cycle happened to take place amid a devastating pandemic, compounding our difficulties and intensifying our tragedies. 

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The Maturing Garden

Generally, from a gardening standpoint, I enjoy the month of January. Typically, I peruse the garden catalogues that arrive this time of year, daydreaming about the possibilities my garden might produce. However, reading the garden catalogues recently has not given me a great deal of enjoyment for the simple reason that my garden, like me, is maturing.


Jimmy Carter: An Appreciation

Not that Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States from Plains, Georgia. We’re talking about the other Jimmy Carter, the metalsmith and jewelry shop owner in Carr Mill Mall. He is who we’re appreciating today. That being said, Jimmy Carter is a big fan of Jimmy Carter.


Chicken TV

During COVID lockdown, our three chickens have become a major source of entertainment. We call it “Chicken TV.”


The Why of BMX

I didn’t ride BMX bikes when I was a kid, but plenty of kids I knew did.  There was even a (sort of) hit BMX movie in 1986, “Rad,” which included a very young Lori Loughlin and plenty of awesome biking sequences.


2020 Housing Review: A Year of Bidding Wars

Nearly every recap and review of last year will begin with some variation of this sentence: 2020 was an unusual year. In place of “unusual,” it may say “unprecedented” or “difficult” or some other pejorative, but without a doubt, 2020 will be remembered.


Hunkering Down with Haikus

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s how to hunker. We’ve been hunkered down since mid-March and have learned by necessity hunkering techniques. Out of curiosity, I looked up the word: “Hunker: to crouch, cower, to get on all fours.”


A Garden Needs a Soul

It’s a new year, 2021, and it’s time to plan for the garden. Spring is almost here! I have written about this topic before but it bears repeating as I see gardeners twisting themselves in knots, trying to follow the rules of good landscaping: A garden needs to reflect the personality of its owner.




Back to the Future with Bee-Bop

As any old-school photographer would attest, being able to develop your own film and print your own photographs in a darkroom is what separates the dilettantes from the hard-core serious photographers.


Doing Something About the Weather

Before we write off 2020 as a year to forget, I’d like to point out that it was a pretty good year for North Carolina gardeners.


The Carolina Inn

The Carolina Inn, a colonial-revival-style structure on the western rim of the UNC campus in the heart of Chapel Hill, is the sort of place people go to celebrate the important milestones, the moments we tend to measure the rest of our lives by.


Have Yourself a Hygge Little New Year’s

Browsing through a card shop years ago in the Baltic seaport town of Turku, Finland, I chanced upon this card, depicting two decidedly jolly old ladies with all the humble comforts of hearth and home…


A Message from the Mayor of Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill Community: As 2020 comes to a close, I want to take a moment to wish everyone Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year! During this difficult year, the compassion and care that our community has shown to one another has given me great hope.



Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

The first Christmas after E.B. Hyder’s wife died, the 88-year-old Rutherford County nurseryman found himself at a loss for how to cope with the holiday. So, he went out and got himself a little Christmas…


Soil for Christmas

We have a tradition in our house. My husband asks what I want for Christmas. I reply, “a load of well-rotted manure for my garden beds.” He rolls his eyes. Gardeners know it’s all about the soil. Sure, the plants are pretty, the rock walls sublime…



Missing the Places that Feed Our Souls

I love to eat breakfast in a restaurant. Especially cozy ones, where it is warm in both temperature and people when you walk in. Where the smell of the bacon and sausage wafts over you as you open the door.


Twitching in the Triangle?

Among birders, people who are extremely focused on identifying as many species of birds as possible in their lives — and who will travel great distances to do so — sometimes are known as twitchers. The term is used more often in Europe than in the USA, but the behavior is known here, too. Twitching has a bit of a bad reputation…


Over 100 years of Humbugging

Before the Grinch, there was Scrooge. And if ever a man could play Charles Dickens’ Christmas curmudgeon to the hilt, it was the late great Earl Wynn, a distinguished professor credited with…



Collection of Characters

A food blogger, an historian, a hippie, and an activist walk into a bar – a joke which, in these Covid days, has not aged well. But if such a thing could happen it very well might happen in Chapel Hill. Because these are the folks making news here.



Neighborhood Focus: Lake Forest

There is a lake in Chapel Hill that lights up around the holiday season. The annual Light Up the Lake experience in the Lake Forest neighborhood not only brings a beautiful display of illuminations, but also results in helping others in the area.


Signs of the Times

Having a cabin in rural Rutherford County in Western North Carolina, where I started and helped run two small newspapers for 15 years, has afforded me an intimate view into the other North Carolina. Saying it plainly: the deep ruby red part. Monthly trips to the old cabin afford this Chapel Hill boy something of a “glass-bottom boat” view of attitudes very different from deep indigo parts…


Please Wear Your Gloves

I am always amazed at how many people fail to don their garden gloves while gardening. My gardening gloves are like having a second skin, and I cannot imagine going outside with my hand pruners in hand without them. You see, there are dangers lurking in that eden you so lovingly created.


Bicycling Towards Recovery

For many of us, it’s been a very hard year. Now it’s December, we all are ready to move on, and we still are facing a tough few months. In this community especially, we have many who serve on the front line at UNC Hospitals and other clinics.


Development Update

Orange County, NC’s development pipeline was packed full of projects before anyone had ever heard of the coronavirus. But would that enthusiasm endure through a nationwide economic slowdown? Over the last six months or so, the answer…


Mrs. Gill and the Misfit Toy

A young English teacher sits primly at a desk surrounding by her adoring students who are cutting up as the high school yearbook photographer snaps this staged photograph.


A Tale of Olive Oil

Long ago in the Dark Ages, the only olive oil found in upscale markets were ½ pint bottles, marked “virgin.” In the 1970s, this was daring stuff. Gradually the “virgin” gave way to “extra virgin,” causing giggles at the time: How can there be anything more virginal than “virgin?”