Pine Dwellers

The familiar trill of these tiny warblers is never far

By Susan Campbell


When most folks think of warblers, what comes to mind are diminutive, colorful songsters flitting about in the treetops during the spring and summer months.  Most warblers subsist on a diet of insects and therefore head south as the first cooler breezes begin to blow, winging their way toward Central America and beyond. However, for the handsome pine warbler, things are a bit different!

Pine warblers can be found across North Carolina year round.  They are not choosy about the evergreen species that they inhabit, so you may find them in spruces and Virginia pines in the mountains, loblollies and longleaf in the Piedmont and Sandhills, as well as pond pines along the coast.  Develop an ear for their vocalizations, and you will find that these little birds are quite common — even in mid-winter. And it doesn’t take a whole lot of pines in an area to attract them.  Just a few mature trees in a mixed stand may produce a pair or two.

Pine warbler vocalizations are limited to a “chip,” uttered by both the male and the female, in addition to a musical trill coming only from the male.  His warble can be heard on warm days in the winter, and, during breeding season, a come-hither signal to potential mates.  These little males, about the size of a titmouse, have short, slender bills, yellow bodies and yellow-gray wings that sport two white wing bars. Females are similar but more greenish — definitely well camouflaged to protect them during their brood-rearing activities in early summer.

Flocks of pine warblers can number in the dozens come winter as individuals from up north mix in with our sedentary birds, no doubt finding safety in numbers.  Also, they may be seen associating with yellow-rumped warblers that are found in the Piedmont and Sandhills during the cooler months.  Both species may show up in your yard to take advantage of feeder offerings.  Suet is very attractive to these insect-loving birds.  Although yellow-rumpeds may also feed on fruit or sugar water, pines usually do not.  They, however, may take advantage of smaller seeds or, not uncommonly, sunflower hearts.  This species spends probably more time in search of seeds than any other warbler, foraging deep in the cones that are produced in late summer.

For whatever reason, these feisty little birds are not very bashful when they are particularly hungry.  On colder mornings, when I would go out to refill my homemade suet feeders when I lived in Whispering Pines, it was not unusual for a bird to land right next to me as if to say “Hurry up! Where have you been? It’s past my breakfast time!”  I do miss having them in the yard where I live now.  But it just takes a five-minute walk through the neighborhood to a ridge with a long line of loblollies for me to spot a flash of yellow high up in the branches and hear that familiar trill.  Fortunately, a few handsome pine warblers are never very far away!  OH

Susan would love to receive your wildlife observations and/or photos at

The Light Within

In darkness, Beverly McIver sees and paints by the light and voice of truth — and amazing grace

By Jim Moriarty


When I was much younger and more rambunctious my mother used to caution me that nothing good ever happens after midnight. My mother never knew Beverly McIver.

Working into the solitary small hours of the night, McIver often begins a canvas by projecting a face onto it. She underlines the eyes, the nose, the mouth, getting the drawing to her liking as if she were setting a table with the bare essentials before the feast. Then, when the light goes out, the paint goes on. And, oh my, does she paint. With a kaleidoscopic palette and audacious, yet economical, brush strokes, she steps into her subject — often not once, but over and over again, creating in the sweep of time a riveting series of canvases. Works can be built around a doll or a coil of black rope. They can be portraits of her mentally disabled sister, Renee, her father, Cardrew Davis, or even herself.

“The fact that she works in series is such a strength. And what I’m so moved by is the freshness, the fluency,” says Anne Brennan, the executive director of the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, North Carolina. “She must have a pact with herself about keeping it moving, keeping it fresh and not second-guessing. And, boy, she knows when to step back, when to get out. I think she trusts her intuition or subconscious. She’s paying attention. That is so brave. So brave and true to herself.”  The Cameron is one of several museums  — including the Mint Museum, the Crocker Art Museum, the Nasher Museum Art, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art — that hold McIver’s work in their permanent collections.

“Imagine if you were painting a series of self-portraits,” says Brennan. “Think how you might become formulaic in your choice of the passage of light against this plane of your face — and she is so not. Every painting is as fresh and innovative and original and spontaneous as the next.”

McIver’s magnetic laugh and her purring Persian cats — Clydie, Bona, Bella and Gracie — roam freely in her Hillsborough condo in the daytime. But, at night, she pays attention to the voice in her head. “They talk about artists needing natural light but when I’m painting I like for it to be dark,” says McIver, whose dreadlocks have fallen victim to a bit of pandemic-induced self-barbering.

“It’s quiet. My brain cuts on. That’s my authentic self. That’s the voice that I have no control over but to listen to it because it’s always right, even if I don’t really understand. My teacher in college said, ‘Just keep doing it. Don’t worry about what it is. Just keep walking.’ I said, ‘I don’t know what to do next.’  She’s like, ‘Just go there and wait for that voice. It’ll show up.’ I’ve always let that govern what comes out. It’s always way, way honest. Painfully honest.”

McIver grew up in Morningside Homes, barracks-style public housing a couple of miles east of downtown Greensboro, long since razed. It was the site of the 1979 “Greensboro Massacre” when members of the Klu Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party exchanged gunfire with protesters organized by the Communist Workers’ Party who had come to Greensboro in support of the region’s predominantly black textile workers. The “Death to the Klan” march was supposed to go all the way to city hall but the two groups clashed at the beginning of the march. Both sides exchanged gunfire. Five people were killed, four members of the CWP and Dr. Michael Nathan, the chief of pediatrics at Lincoln Community Health Center in Durham. The violent confrontation was captured on video, a slice of  ‘70s history that plays on an eternal YouTube loop. McIver’s mother, Ethel, watched the shooting from her kitchen window. The family car, a lime-green Pinto, was shot in the gas cap, the bullet passing into the trunk. Ethel McIver testified at the trial of six members of the Klan, five charged with murder. All were acquitted. Beverly was 17. Though she was not a witness that Saturday morning — “I was working at McDonald’s on Battleground Avenue,” she says — she keeps a copy of her mother’s testimony.

The man who lent McIver her surname is barely a footnote in her life. “I have some tiny, tiny flashbacks of him putting us [Renee, the eldest, Roni, the middle sister, and Beverly, the baby] in a hot tub of water,” she says. “We were all crying because it was too hot. But that’s it.” He was gone by the time she was 3. When he passed away in New Jersey a decade or more later, the McIver family didn’t attend the funeral. A child of desegregation, Beverly was bussed across town to predominantly white schools. “In order just to exist I had to learn to straddle both of those worlds,” she says. One of the coping mechanisms she found was a clowning club at Grimsley High School. “As a clown,” McIver once told Kim Curry-Evans, now the director for Scottsdale Public Art in Arizona, “I was transformed, and in many ways more acceptable to society. No one cared that I was black or poor.” It was the seed of a theme featuring both whiteface and blackface that inhabits many of her canvases, particularly in her early works.

“I needed to not repeat living in the projects and being poor,” McIver says. “Whatever I do, I’m not interested in being poor again.” Her inner voice got louder when she squeezed her first tube of oil paint as an undergraduate at North Carolina Central University. “I had a great teacher who said to me, ‘You know, you have enough talent that if you work hard, you can make it.’ That’s all I needed to hear. I can make it.” The teacher’s name was Elizabeth “Libby” Lentz. She passed away in 2003. “I was in New York and got a call saying she’d driven up into the woods of North Carolina and left her car running and ran a hose from the exhaust into the car and the police had found her,” McIver says. “I flew back down to attend her service. It was horrible. It was really, really horrible. She was one of the first people that really believed in me, that I could have a voice to make a difference in the world. She was a painter and she taught me to paint. So, yeah, that was pretty sad.”

McIver’s degree from North Carolina Central was followed by a Master of Fine Arts from Penn State University and enough residencies, exhibitions (solo and group) and awards to make the curriculum vitae Hall of Fame. She’s held teaching positions at Arizona State University, NCCU and, for the last six years, Duke University. Though she’s set up her easel in places as disparate as an art colony in Saratoga Springs, New York, a studio in Brooklyn or an academy in Rome, her subjects are inevitably close to home.

McIver began painting her mentally disabled and epileptic older sister, Renee, 25 years ago and has never stopped. “I can paint Renee over and over again because she looks different. She looks like a little girl; she looks like she’s 70. Sometimes she looks fragile, like she’ll fall over. Renee is 60 now but has the mindset of a third grader,” says McIver. They talk on the phone every day. “I just ordered Renee a purple comforter. I saw her yesterday. She called me this morning. I said, ‘Renee, don’t call me before 11 o’clock.’ She called me at 10:15. I listened to the message. ‘Hey, I want you to know I really enjoyed that quiche you brought me yesterday. It was so good I ate two pieces this morning. I just wanted to let you know. I know you’re busy. I’m busy, too. I’m making potholders.’”

In 2002 when McIver was a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University, filmmaker Jeanne Jordan was a fellow at the same time — a fellow fellow, one supposes. “We were like across the hall from each other,” says McIver. One day Jordan told McIver that she and her husband, Steven Ascher, wanted to make a film about her. The result was the Emmy-nominated film Raising Renee. The initial idea for the project was to focus on McIver, her life and her art. But when her mother, Ethel McIver, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, “that changed everything,” says Beverly.

Ethel McMaster McIver grew up in Staley, North Carolina, near Liberty. “I think they went to Asheboro to shop at the Walmart,” says McIver. Ethel began cleaning houses when she was 10 years old, substituting for her mother one day when Beverly’s grandmother was too sick to go herself. Closeted in the Morningside Homes, it was a trade that lasted a lifetime. “When I got my first house I copied the furniture, all the things that were in one of the houses my mother cleaned, winged-back chairs and drop-leaf tables,” says Beverly. When Ethel passed away in March of 2004, Beverly became Renee’s primary caregiver. The film, six years in the making, began before Ethel’s death and ends when Renee is able to move into her own apartment. It tracks — in an unvarnished, authentic way — the complicated relationship between the artist and the sister who knits potholders by the bushel and is eternally enamored of the pinks and purples of a third grader. “I’m not going to pretend like it was easy or that I’m honored to be Renee’s legal guardian,” says Beverly. “I love Renee dearly but some people wanted a film more like glorifying caretaking in a way that’s just not true. Caretaking is hard. I don’t care who it is.”

One of the works McIver painted during that period was Family Praying, a powerful image of five family members, holding hands around the hospital bed of their deceased mother, their own flesh whitened to the point where some features disappear completely. “They are in mourning, sort of life draining away, the way color might drain from someone’s face,” says Jennifer Dasal, the curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the North Carolina Museum of Art and the host and creator of the acclaimed podcast ArtCurious. Seven years later, artistically admired and commercially comfortable, McIver made Truly Grateful, a self-portrait that’s currently paired in the NCMA exhibit “Interchanges: Cross-Collection Conversations” with The Virgin in Prayer by Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato and Jesse Burke’s photo Blessed. McIver’s painting is described as exuding “a calming, almost spiritual atmosphere.” Even as color explodes on the surface of her canvases, McIver holds back nothing in revealing her subjects, including herself. “Maybe facial elements, things that might be blurred over by some artists trying to, perhaps, beautify somebody — she doesn’t do that,” says Dasal. “And I love that about her work. She’s aiming to show the truth about somebody.”

William Paul Thomas, a portrait painter himself and an adjunct professor of art at Guilford College, covered McIver’s classes at Duke while she was at the American Academy in Rome. “Her attention to the way light reflects off the surface of someone’s face is really fascinating,” says Thomas. “She achieves these really emotive, thoughtful, beautiful likenesses of her subjects with a kind of grace and economy. There’s a vibrancy and textural quality of paint that’s totally apparent when you see the work in person.”

And there is no telling where McIver’s voice might lead her. During her Covid confinement, it led to a piece of thick, black rope. “I have pictures of everybody with rope,” she says and laughs. What started out as a series about being stuck in the house turned into something more. “My intuition said to me, you need to buy rope. What do I need rope for? What am I going to do with rope? Then I said, ‘Well, let me see what rope costs on Amazon.’ The rope was, like, $30. If it had been a hundred I would have been, like, I’m not buying a hundred dollars worth of rope,” she says.

“I had no idea what I was going to do with it. So, thirty bucks, I ordered the rope. It was all coiled up and I pulled it apart and I was, like, I want to see what that looks like around my head,” she says, wrapping her arms around herself in the air. “It can look like an octopus. It can look like my hair before I had the Covid. My cousin, Lonnie, who lives in Greensboro was, like, ‘I got stopped by the cops again.’ He’s a tall black man, dark skinned. They pulled him over. They showed him a picture of the suspect.” She pauses. “OK, that does not make me feel better. I never thought of him as Black Lives Matter, I just think of him as my cousin Lonnie. I asked him if he would pose for me and I made this painting Lonnie Can’t Breathe.”

In August McIver joined a group of artists contributing works for the People For the American Way’s “Enough” campaign. The organization was founded by Norman Lear, someone McIver met once in New York at a party given by Maya Angelou in honor of Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize. “I think I know Oprah, too, though I never met her,” Beverly jokes. McIver is simultaneously working on a solo exhibition for the Betty Cuningham Gallery, her New York affiliation, and curating an exhibit of African American artists for the Craven Allen Gallery in Durham, where she’ll also have a showing of her new paintings beginning Nov. 17. In 2022, she’ll have a traveling career “survey” that will begin at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and travel to the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem before going to the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, South Carolina, among other possible locations. And she has long range plans to build a house on 11 acres in Chapel Hill where she’ll create an artist-in-residence program, aimed foremost at advancing artists of color. “I made some of my best work under those circumstances — when somebody is actually taking care of you and all you have to do is just paint. I want to be able to give that back,” she says.

The painting Taxi Driver is a relatively recent acquisition of the Cameron Art Museum. It’s among the paintings in what McIver calls her “Daddy Series.” She met her natural father, Cardrew Davis, when she was 16. “We were standing in the kitchen, me and my mother. ‘I have something to tell you.’ I said, ‘What?’ She said, ‘Yeah, your dad’s at the door.’ And there was this big guy standing there,” says McIver.

“I don’t know what the real story is. I know my mother wanted him to pull her out of that marriage. If you met my father you’d know that he’s incapable of that. He barely loves himself. When my mother died, he did attend the funeral. And that’s when I said, you know, I’m going to get to know this man.” She gave him one of her early portraits of him. When he found out it might be valuable he put it in the closet.

Another of McIver’s series features a tiny blackface, button-eyed doll. “She’s just a little black doll that my friend found online in an auction and purchased for me,” says McIver. “She’s been in a lot of my paintings.”

Actually, she’s been in all of them, from the ones painted in Rome to the ones created in Brooklyn to the ones that were not yet imagined by a little girl in hot water in Morningside Homes, who grew up working a 6 a.m. shift at Biscuitville and a cash register at McDonald’s. “There’s such a separation in my head from that little girl and who I am today,” says McIver, “to the point where I don’t think they recognize each other. So, Gracie — that’s my doll I’ve created — is sort of that little girl. I paint her.”

Oh my, does she paint.  OH

When not spending time with his grandprincesses, Jim Moriarty is the senior editor of our sister publication, PineStraw magazine, in Southern Pines.

October Almanac

By Ashley Wahl


October is a cauldron of enchantment. The cracking open of pecan husks. The whirl of sparrows casting cryptic messages across fiery canvases. Crisp air and burn piles. Black walnuts and black dahlias. Golden leaves and ever-fading light.

October awakens the mystic, beckons homemade tinctures, loose-leaf teas, sage leaves wrapped in tidy bundles.

October is pumpkins and gourds, pumpkins and gourds, spring-blooming bulbs in the cool autumn soil.

She’s the veil between worlds — thin as a web in the morning light. The black cat that slinks across your path, disappears, then watches from beyond a silky sea of milkweed pods.

Do not be afraid. October is ripe with blessings. You need only let her reveal them.

Try squatting down — fluid movements are best — and then gaze into her yellow moon-eyes until all you can see is yourself. This is her invitation. And in her own time — you cannot rush nature — she will saunter toward you, perhaps with a jingle, and all superstition will dissolve.

October is the black cat kissing your hand, arm and shin with her face and body, her circular movements like that of an ancient symbol, a sacred dance, a living incantation. She is purring. She is plopping belly-up in the dry leaves at your feet. She is all but crawling into your lap — a playful and hallowed month filled with auspicious surprises.


There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant
an effect on the feelings, as now in October.
— Nathaniel Hawthorne

Mums the Word

Chrysanthemums are blooming. Pink, purple, red, orange and yellow. Double-petaled and fringed. Heirloom cultivars as lovely as dahlias. 

In Chinese bird and flower paintings, chrysanthemums are depicted in ink wash paintings among the “Four Gentlemen” or “Four Noble Ones,” an assemblage of plants that represent the four seasons: plum blossom (winter), orchid (spring), bamboo (summer), and chrysanthemum (autumn).

Native to China, this medicinal flower was brought to Japan by Buddhist monks in the year 400. Here in the United States, a “Dark Purple” cultivar was imported from England in 1798 by Col. John Stevens, the American engineer who constructed the country’s first steam locomotive and steam-powered ferry. In the years since, mums have reigned as the “Queen of Fall Flowers,” singing alongside our kale, pansies and cabbage, and coloring our autumn gardens magnificent.

According to feng shui, chrysanthemums bring happiness and laughter into the home. They’re loaded with healing properties and have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Chrysanthemum tea (made from flowers of the species morifolium or indicum) is considered a common health drink in China, often consumed for its cooling and calming effect. And as any flower-savvy gardener will tell you, mums repel most insects yet are non-toxic to animals.

Glory be to this noble flower! Long live the lovely Queen of Fall.


Autumn leaves don’t fall, they fly.

They take their time and wander on

this their only chance to soar.

    — Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing

The Night Sky

This year, the full harvest moon rises on the first of October, and on the last day of the month, the first blue moon of 2020 (the full hunter’s moon) will create the quintessential vision of Halloween, illuminating the sky for a howl-worthy night.

And, look, there’s another celestial beauty shining bright this month: Mars. 

On Oct. 6, Mars will be just about as close to Earth as it can get — 38.57 million miles — a proximity the likes of which we won’t see again until September 2035.

On Tuesday, Oct. 13, Mars will arrive in the constellation Pisces, beaming from dusk until dawn at a magnitude three times brighter than our brightest nighttime star, Sirius. In fact, this month Mars supersedes Jupiter as the second-brightest planet, following the moon and Venus as the third brightest object in the night sky.  OH

A New Spin on Greensboro

Capturing the art and stories of the carousel

By Maria Johnson     Photographs by Amy Freeman


You’d be hard pressed to come up with a project that’s any more “of, by and for” the city than the carousel that was donated to the Greensboro Science Center this past summer by the Rotary Club of Greensboro.

Open to the public under COVID-19 rules since August 26, the gleaming carousel and its cupola-topped roundhouse represent Greensboro in a way few local landmarks do.

On the face of it, the merry-go-round is a eye-popping menagerie of 57 handmade animals, half of which can be found in the science center’s zoo, aquarium and displays, plus eight bench-style chariots accessible to disabled riders.

But scratch the surface of the figures (joke, don’t), and you’ll find local stories galore, most of them linked to the business or personal lives of the donors who paid for them.

For example, Katherine and Mike Weaver underwrote a cosmetic horse bearing the constellation of Capricorn, the astrological sign under which their twin sons were born.

The family of the late Bob Cone bought a camel in memory of Cone, whom they lovingly joshed about walking like a camel.

Susan and Vic Cochran sponsored a gibbon because, as a science center volunteer, Susan once donned a furry shirt to comfort and bottle feed a baby gibbon that was rejected by its mother.

Life’s moments coming full circle.

The tiger was sponsored by John K. Snider. The science center is home to Sumatran tiger brothers Rocky and Jaggar, who came to Greensboro in January.

Spangled with LED lights and mirrors, the carousel is 46 feet wide and weighs 24 tons. It’s decorated with hand-painted “rounding boards” depicting key facets of Greensboro history. This photo shows World War II flying ace George Preddy Jr., a Greensboro native, and NASA astronaut and N.C. A&T graduate Ronald E. McNair. To learn about scenes on the outer and inner rounding boards, carousel visitors (after COVID) can use touch screens to read histories penned by legendary Greensboro reporter Jim Schlosser.

Most figures, including the bulldog mascot of N.C. A&T State University, were carved from blocks of laminated basswood. The bulldog — championed by Chancellor Harold Martin, a Rotarian — was carved from a single block. Figures with distinct heads, legs and tails are carved from different blocks that are joined before painting.

Greensboro resident and UNC alum Frank Brenner, who is also a part owner of the New York Yankees, picked up the tab for the school’s ram mascot with Carolina blue horns.


Recognize the typeface on Biscuit’s tag? That’s because Biscuitville restaurant owners Dina and Burney Jennings picked this horse. The carousel also includes a pig, courtesy of Tommy Neese and his sausage-making family, and a rhinoceros and a bee, as in the Roy and Vanessa Carroll’s Rhino Times newspaper and Bee Safe Storage units.



You’ll never catch a hummingbird being this still. Peggy and Lewis Ritchie sponsored the jewel-toned figure in honor of their families fondness for the bird.



Donors Barb and Tom Somerville signed up for the seahorse, which represents a resident of the science center’s aquarium, although the actual seahorse isn’t quite as …lavender.


At first blush, this appears to be your average pirate cat. But a wider lens would reveal-, and you’ll see it’s being chased by yellow lab. Joyce and Robert Shuman bought the cat; Joyce’s brother Freddy Robinson and his wife Susan covered the dog, a replica of their son’s pooch. The dog’s saddle is adorned with the names of Freddy and Susan’s grandchildren.


Recently retired N.C. State University athletic director Debbie Yow, a native of Gibsonville, lobbied for Tuffy, the school’s mascot, after speaking to the Greensboro Rotary and learning about the carousel project. Her late sister Kay, the famed Wolfpack women’s basketball coach, would love the “wolfie” hand gesture.





Life’s Funny

Going with the Flow

Taking the green way to success


By Maria Johnson

Greensboro needed a water feature.

The thought surfaced in the early 2000s, as city promoters and planners explored ways to kick-start the city, especially the anemic center city.

After visits to similar-sized cities, some boosters floated the idea of building a downtown canal or a string of ponds to provide a man-made waterfront that would draw restaurants and entertainment venues, and therefore young people and tourists.

That notion never amounted to more than a ripple — the biggest banks in Greensboro continued to be the kind with drive-through windows — but now, if you squint your eyes and add a splash of imagination, you can see another unifying feature flowing in our midst: the major greenways and their tributaries in Greensboro, High Point and beyond.

Sometimes I think these channels hold a key to lifting the area, both economically and spiritually. The potential gripped me as my husband and I cycled the 4.5-mile High Point Greenway, including a 1.2–mile stretch that opened last summer between Deep River Road and Penny Road, near the Piedmont Environmental Center.

The new section contains a stunning expanse, nearly a half-mile of elevated boardwalk winding through the woods that anchor wetlands around the Deep River, which ironically is neither deep nor wide at that point.

No matter; the boardwalk is the star.

Undulating side-to-side to dodge the biggest trees, the plank road sweeps through a forest that’s enchanted naturally by the thrum of cicadas; the trills of birds; the silhouettes of leaves backlit by the sun; the shafts of light that pierce the canopy and dapple the path.

The boardwalk itself — constructed by subcontractor Backwoods Bridges out of Freeport, Florida — is a wondrous work, with handrails tilted inward and sanded at the joints to be easy on the fingers, and a smooth deck of closely-spaced planks that go easy on the tires and bones.

The day we rode, under a crystal blue sky, a wisp of fall tickled the air. The red maples and dogwoods were just starting to blush at the thought of dropping their green robes. The gorgeous purple blooms of kudzu — hey, even scourges have their good points — perfumed the air. Weaving through the white oaks and red oaks, we spotted sumac and poplar, pawpaw and cottonwood, persimmon and sycamore,  ironwood and sweet gum. We couldn’t help but be floored by the diversity of timber.

Yeah, we know a fair bit about trees. We also have plant-identifying apps on our phones.

The natural beauty continued as the new segment ran into older sections of the greenway leading to its end at Armstrong Park, near North Main Street.

Running along a creek called Boulding Branch, the path was lined with downy milkweed, yellow-flowering ironweed and the tiny white starbursts of wild clematis.

There was another kind of beauty at work here, too.

Stay on this — or any other lengthy greenway — for long enough and you’re sure to slice though a cross-section of your community, a vast and varied fabric of people and places.

Unlike trips by plane or train or automobile, enclosures that whiz you past the world at speeds that make absorption difficult, walking or cycling a greenway brings you down to earth, literally.

On the High Point Greenway you witness weary older neighborhoods, once home to legions of furniture factory workers; the red-brick grandeur of High Point University; the deep restful greens of Armstrong Park.

You see young families — some of them looking different from yours, speaking languages different from yours — teaching their children to ride bikes.

You see an ambling professor, coaxing chilly temperatures with a sweater tied over his shoulders.

You see strolling students, weighed down by backpacks and bent toward their phone screens, commiserating.

“Plus, my stupid-idiot-self did this at midday.”

“You’re insane.”

You see young lovers taking pictures of each other on the rocks in the creek.

You see the man, sitting on a tarp in a tunnel, who looks down as you say hello.

You see agile seniors clonking pickleballs at Armstrong Park.

You see the Black Lives Matter fist spray-painted on a utility box.

Walk or ride a greenway, and you’ll see your community in a way you’ve never seen it.

We desperately need those opportunities to connect, not to mention the business opportunities sitting on the “banks” of the greenways.

Right now, maps of the greenways in Guilford County look like a package of gummy worms, with multicolored stretches denoting “completed,” “under construction” and “planned” segments. From the Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway on the north side of Greensboro, to the Downtown Greenway, from the Bicentennial Greenway on the south and west sides of the county, to the High Point Greenway — in theory, all of them will knit together one day.

But assembling the money, land and will to join the threads can be slow going.

The oldest section of the High Point Greenway was dedicated in 1989. The newest leg, the part with the boardwalk, took 10 years — from 2008 to 2018 — to get rolling. The holdup was a property owner who refused to grant an easement, instead offering the whole parcel for $3 million, according to Terry Kuneff, High Point’s interim director of engineering services. Finally, the resistant property owner moved, and the new owner, the Greensboro Chinese Christian Church, gave the green light.

A year later, the city delivered the final leg of the greenway under budget at $3.7 million. Unlike most city projects, Kuneff says, this one brings kudos from citizens.

“People just enjoy it,” he says. “When you walk through the wetland area, you really don’t see anything. It kinda provides you an escape. I don’t know any other way to describe it: It’s just pretty.”

And pretty powerful.  OH

Maria Johnson is a contributing editor of O.Henry. She can be reached at



Photograph courtesy of High Point Parks and Recreation

O.Henry Ending

Life and Afterlife

All dogs go to heaven — after creating paradise on Earth


By Jeff Paschal

She was just a puppy, maybe 6 months old, when we got her. Walking down a hallway at an Ohio Humane Society kennel, my wife, Beth, had noticed this big, beautiful brown-and-white dog, hopping around, tail wagging, begging to be petted. “Zoe’s going to be a big girl,” a handmade sign said, guessing she might be a Labrador Retriever and Saint Bernard mix.)

“We’ll take her,” we said. We opened the backdoor to our SUV, and Zoe launched herself in with no effort, as if she’d been doing this all her life.

No sooner had we cranked the engine than we began to hear a sound that would become familiar — Zoe whining and trying to “talk”— all the way home. But it didn’t take long for her to adjust to her new home with its large, fenceless backyard. We had a harder time adjusting to taking our new charge on the leash in sun, rain and, Ohio being Ohio, snow — lots of snow — while waiting for Zoe to complete her bathroom mission.

So we bought one of those electronic underground “invisible” fences, and by coincidence, the woman sent to train Zoe had been the one to find her abandoned and running along a country road. She had decided not to adopt her after she discovered that Zoe was “a screamer.”

Based on inflection, we learned to discern some of the meanings behind Zoe’s “vocabulary.” A whine? “Feed me” or “Let me out.” Talking? “Play with me” or “I want to go with you.” A bark? “I’m protecting the pack” or “For heaven’s sake, throw the ball already!” As a bonus sound, Zoe liked to sing along when we sang Christmas songs or “Happy Birthday” (much to the belly laughs of grandbabies).

Zoe was the only dog I ever owned that would actually bring a ball back to you over and over. She relished chasing a thrown tennis ball, hurling herself into the air, and catching it on first bounce, in mid-flight. The kids called her “a pure athlete.” And she was. A 6-mile run with me in the Ohio countryside was no problem for her.

She had her share of mishaps that, looking back on them, seem comical now: Like the time Zoe had managed to run through the large end of a wire tomato cage, which became wrapped around her body. Or her run-in with a skunk, requiring a bath of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish-washing liquid.

Though routinely friendly with people, Zoe had her own rules about other dogs. Off their leashes, they were friends. But if Zoe or another dog were tethered to a leash, she became a ferocious defender of her owners. 

As with all of us, Zoe’s days were numbered. Around age 12, she slowed down, sometimes seeming confused and occasionally arthritic. One of our vets discovered she had cancer. The time for hard decisions had come. The loss would be devastating.

It’s so strange, I loved my dad, but I think I cried as hard when Zoe died as when he did. Why? I do not know, but our pets are so constant with their affection, so forgiving of our moods and mistakes. And we give thanks for their indiscriminate kindness amidst a world often cold and angry.

Mark Twain said, “Heaven goes by grace not merit. Otherwise you would stay out and your dog would go in.” I understand his thinking, but somehow heaven would be diminished without these precious pets of ours.

A few months ago, during lunch with a group of ministers, I posed the question, “So, dogs and cats, going to heaven or not?” “Yes! Absolutely!”— unanimous agreement. “You’re all a bunch of heretics,” I said as we laughed. I paused, then added, “And I’m with you.”

Even now I see Zoe restored, a puppy, flying through the air to snatch a ball in mid-flight.

Zoe — the word means “life.” And she brought life to us. We will always miss her.  OH

Jeff Paschal lives in Charlotte where he and his wife, Beth, are unworthy servants of a cat named Shelly.

Wandering Billy

Pandemic Politesse

Covid’s comedy of manners, mobile eats and sweet treats


By Billy Eye

“Etiquette is what you are doing and saying when people are looking and listening. What you are thinking is your business.” — Virginia Cary Hudson

Changing times call for changing norms and new customs. To compare and contrast our polite society’s code of conduct with past guidelines, to stay au courant I’ll be referring to my grandmother’s edition of Etiquette by Emily Post, published in 1945.

For instance, you may have learned early on not to chew food with your mouth open. Today? Splash, spittle and splatter. To quote the upcoming 2021 edition of Billy Eye’s Etiquette, “What happens in the mask stays in the mask.”

As a general rule, when strolling alongside a lady, gentlemen walk closer to the street, harkening back to when passing horse and buggies splashed debris from puddles swirling with equine excretions, donkey dookie and the broken dreams of the hoi polloi onto fair maiden’s petticoats. Today, a gentleman must still walk to the right of said damsel maintaining a 6-foot distance, even if it means promenading into oncoming traffic.

When making her debut, a débutante should nowadays remove her face covering unless she has foie gras breath or excessive neck wattle.

After absconding with an Amazon delivery from your neighbor’s front porch, if it’s something you can’t use, the box should be returned with a short but curt note apologizing for any inconvenience.

Addressing a dignitary in a formal setting, say a congressman or city council member, you are to greet them with “sir,” “ma’am” or, when appropriate, “you traitorous knucklehead.”

According to Etiquette, wedding invitations should be ordered two months before the big day. New rule: Don’t bother with invitations silly, no one wants to attend your super-spreader event.

Some things, however, remain constant. Reading from chapter 40 of Emily Post’s 1945 rulebook, “When Children Come To The Table,” nothing much has changed. Basically, it should never be allowed. Look it up!

* * *

October. Eye like to think of it as the over-the-hump month between summer and the holidays. It’s also time for the downtown Food Truck Festival on the 11th, weather and apocalypse permitting.

I’m a big fan of the Big Cheese Truck, who plan to be there. I sampled their fare at the new extension of Idiot Box comedy club now called Next Door Beer Bar & Bottle Shop, where a festive crowd recently took advantage of outdoor seating and mild fall temperatures.

Nathan Stringer, formerly chef for Coast Seafood in High Point, along with his business partner Chris Blackburn, launched their mobile mealticket as everyplace else was shutting down. It’s been a fantastic voyage for these galloping gourmands ever since.

With a rotating menu of globally influenced sandwiches, subs, wraps and brunch, Big Cheese bounced their way around the Triad this summer, parking at places like Grandover Swim & Racquet Club, Hoots Beer Co. and Joymongers.

Expect savory carne asada tacos, garnish with pickled, roasted red peppers, artichoke pico and key-lime slaw; garlicy jalapeño crab cake sandwiches adorned with tzatziki, brie, tomato, pickled snow peas, roasted peppers; or an Italian meatloaf sandwich kicked up a notch with provolone, olive-caper-parsley tapenade, salami, pepperoni, tomato and aged cheddar on sourdough. Sides include my fave: fried green tomatoes.

Just goes to show you that, no matter how tough the business landscape may be, pursuing your dream can be the shortest road to success.

* * *

Speaking of following your heart by way of one’s digestive system — finding herself out of work with a newborn baby to look after in May, Veneé Pawlowski began doing what she does best — baking — from her home on the outskirts of downtown Greensboro. With orders trickling in at first from her circle of friends, word of (or fork to) mouth caused business to explode for what she s calling Black Magnolia Southern Patisserie.

Veneé serves up traditional Southern classic desserts, often with a European spin. s“I use brioche for my cinnamon rolls”,“  Veneé says.  “And I make sure to have a cake, pie and pudding available each week.” Eye tried her banana pudding and it’s the best I’ve had since my grandmother passed!

“ItIs a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,s Veneé tells me. And becoming harder now that her baby girl just turned 4 months old:  SheSs getting a little bit bigger so she doesnst just sleep all day.t

Working out of one of three grand houses from the turn of the 20th century on the east side of the 600 block of Summit Avenue, her house avec bakery is on the corner of Summit and Charter Place. It has been painstakingly restored, with its majestic two-story high white Ionic columns up front and an inviting rounded wraparound front porch underneath corner bay windows.

Next door is Tar Heel Manor with 4,000-plus square feet on two levels featuring four bedrooms, a sleeping porch, sun room and library loft. They can be rented by the night, week or month. In the pre-motel / hotel / Holiday Inn days of 1906, Tar Heel Manor morphed into a travelers’ lodge, then a boarding house before becoming a duplex in the 1950s. The house where Veneé and her husband, Ian, reside will eventually be re-converted into a single-family residence once again. “NWeW’ll be moving very soon, just because we’ ve been expanding so quickly.v”

Each week Veneé features a rotating variety of delicacies including bourbon chocolate chess tarts, strawberries-and-cream bread pudding, red velvet cake, and strawberry lemonade cake, available by the slice if you prefer. With the holidays fast approaching you should give her a try.  OH

Billy Eye is O.G. – Original Greensboro.

Black Magnolia Southern Patisserie can be found on Facebook.

Wandering Billy

Home by Design

Charm and Spades

Damn this kitchen and its quarantineer demeanor

By Cynthia Adams


In 2020, we learned the new kitchen requisites: expansive, slick, lit like a Hollywood set for a Nancy Meyers flick, and/or the perfect set for your Zoom conference. 

While most of us are scrounging around for whatever can be created with the random remains in the cupboards, writers at Fast Company breezily forecast the brave new world of future kitchens. Some boast smart fridges that sense what needs restocking — even possessing UPC barcode scanners that can transmit item info to your shopping list — and even order, if so desired. Extensive dry and wet food storage, cold storage that goes far beyond mere wine fridges, and specialized exhaust systems for both odor and virus removal, will be de rigueur. 

But not for everyone. 

We’re the fourth owners of a century-old house built by Ralph Lewis that has charm in spades. It also took an actual spade to chisel away four layers of kitchen flooring affixed with black tar, when we bought the place. An old photo shows me scraping madly with garden tools, including a weed claw. 

We hauled away mismatched cabinets from a cheap reno.

Our vintage kitchen is still tiny. Most would have banged out more walls — at least two were previously removed in order to remove the butler’s pantry. 

Allow that to sink in: a butler’s pantry. File that feature under “delusional thinking.”

There has never, ever, been a butler in residence. Sorry, Lord and Lady Carnarvon fans, to disappoint. (Although a Swedish chap at a Key West B&B offered to come be our “house man.” We had to decline, given the absence of downstairs quarters, no wages, not to mention our bewilderment concerning what a house man would even do.)

Ugliness slowly yielded to eccentric charm. 

My brawny partner manhandled the stove from its dangerous location by a doorway. He installed tiles and created a cooking alcove, now one of the room’s best features. 

Later I insisted upon industrial appliances. I envisioned a range like ones you see in celebrity kitchens, with names that sound like stealth weaponry: Viking, Vulcan, Wolf or Aga.

We wound up with what we could afford — a Frigidaire, unsuited to wartime maneuvers. “It looks pretty good,” I agreed, with indifference to actual performance.

We sold off stock to bankroll modest cabinetry and said appliances; the market value immediately skyrocketed. 

“Enjoy your $100,000 kitchen,” Don groused. “Our retirement.”

But now clean, with the underlying wood floor refinished, it felt refreshed.

Just having a deep kitchen sink and a sexy range to twiddle with after months spent microwaving meals on the porch and washing dishes over the bathroom sink — positively made me want to get into that kitchen! And cook! 

Mainly, we enjoyed having coffee in said improved kitchen. Also, pouring wine, and reading newspapers upon the retiled island. 

And now? 

“Now that people are in lockdown, there’s all this joy of cooking going on,” says designer Kim Colin. “People are rediscovering sourdough and learning how to grow useful kitchen herbs.”

What people?  Those would not be my people.

A functional kitchen does not make me a cook, to paraphrase the joke, any more than standing in a garage makes me a mechanic. I have not, even once, produced a meal approaching ones enjoyed at (insert restaurant name here: ___________).   

Not at Print Works Bistro, Green Valley Grill, Pastabilities, Melt, Mythos, Osteria, 1618, Undercurrent, Fleming’s, Cugino Forno or even, God help me, Dunkin’ Donuts.

Miss Colin, it appears that I alone among quarantineers did not learn to bake sourdough. Nor master the art of martini-making, dehydrated snacks, or homemade dressings. But I did just coin a new word: quarantineer!

Oh, food pornographers. You are a fraudulent bunch. 

I am talking to you, Giada De Laurentiis!  Giada, of darling platform shoes, bohemian tops, cinched-waisted jeans, tooth veneers and dangly earrings. Star of Food Network’s Giada at Home 2.0.

“Worth the effort!”  “So much better homemade!” “Easy as pie!” 

Pie-making, for the record, is not easy.  Who coined that phrase? Pie crust dough sticks to a rolling pin like dog poop sticks to white sneakers.

Also, I can spell the word umami but I have no idea how to deploy it. What is it, exactly?  The “fifth sense?”  Say what? 

Food pornographers like Ms. De Laurentiis got me good: I’ve labored long, even risked Covid over chasing down odd-ball ingredients, only to find the outcome revolting. My fig jelly looked like pancake syrup. Thai Cooking for Dummies is not to be trusted.  And don’t get me started on the inedible eggplant fiascos.

My partner became a studied liar.

Watching Don picking at the result disguised with cilantro (or basil; bigger camouflage and easier to keep alive in our quarantine herb garden) hiding the burned bits, he remains sturdily positive. 

“Well, hey! It’s pretty good!”

I growl like a mean dog with range rage; a flour and grease splattered one. (A positive pandemic note: I don’t yet have Covid because I can taste and smell how revolting my concoctions are.)

When he commandeers the kitchen, wrecking every countertop and space, leaving the gas range (why, oh why, did I insist upon that?) blotched with more oil than the Exxon Valdez disaster — I survey the carnage from frying calamari in a too-small pot.

The calamari actually tastes good.

Grabbing the Windex and paper towel — there’s an upcoming Zoom wine tasting and this mess simply will not do — I disassemble the frigging oil-slicked range to scrub, blot and spray.

On second thought, just don’t Zoom me till the vaccine is ready.  OH

Cynthia Adams is writing a food porn exposé. The working title is, Embittered:  That Taste  of Ash Ain’t All in Your Mouth.    

Nature Provides

Designer Larry Richardson pulls straight from nature to color his home magnificent

By Cynthia Adams     Photographs by Amy Freeman


Floral designer Larry Richardson is just as prone to brake for newly-fallen hedge apples he spied along a city street as he is to pluck a seed pod and incorporate it into fall décor. Varying living and dried elements, he creates a moody tableau that resembles a Dutch still life, where you might find a ripened piece of fruit or cut pomegranate or exotica. Richardson avidly shops Mother Nature as freely as he does cultivated plants in his greenhouse. Summer’s end brings its rewards, Richardson says. But he considers autumn a welcome prelude — a time of harvest and found beauty.

As one season opens the door onto the next, each of us yearns to welcome Nature’s changing mood and shifting palette into our own homes. Richardson, with two floral shops, a greenhouse and years of experience, is an expert at condensing the landscape’s kaleidoscopic transformation into stunning arrangements. In late September, he was way too busy to sit down for a long interview, but he did take the time to share some hints and creative insights into how he does what he does so well.

Richardson recommends opening the eye to what is beautiful in the “quiet season” as vivid summer hues dim to duller shades of gold. He appreciates the restful muting of the natural color palette before the extravagant riot of hues and tones homeowners gravitate toward in the winter holidays.  As an example, Richardson stands before a display he created, a sumptuous mix of intensities in plants and objects: amethyst, cinnamon, terra cotta and golden browns.

An orange bromeliad blooms midst ferns and angel-wing begonias, not to mention a cornucopia of gourds, dusky pumpkins, golden and green foliage, ornamental peppers, flowers, fruit, nuts, ornamental seed pods and branches of bittersweet. Many of those colors are drawn from a real still life hung nearby.

Think like a painter, he teaches. Contrast and surprise are key to a pleasing fall arrangement.

“When you think of fall, you think of cooler temperatures,” he says on an afternoon at the greenhouse, where workers are unpacking boxes and the interior of his showrooms are filling with fall-themed organics and an assortment of decorative objects. It is one of those rare September days, cool yet not cold, after record-breaking weeks of scorching heat.

By autumn, we face the reality of months of cold ahead, Richardson says. “The colors warm up. You want to feel the warmth,” he smiles, adding, “You want to be wrapped by the beauty, so that you remember to appreciate each day.”

In September, everyone is thinking autumn and autumnal colors, he says. His job is to help customers find a creative direction employing a mix of the vintage and natural world.

Yet in truth, watching Richardson as customers dart in and out, asking about plants and recommendations, autumn doesn’t seem as quiet as he suggests. The fall season looks more like a qualifying race for an all-out marathon, one that will occupy him, his partner, Clark Goodin, and the staff for months to come.

Richardson’s two businesses, Plants and Answers: The Big Greenhouse on Spring Garden Street and a floral shop downtown send him hunting and gathering new combinations of natural components, plants and organic finds each fall into the end of the year.

Any of us can do the same, no matter our budget, he insists.

Richardson admires millennials’ fondness for plants — noting a heightened interest in the unusual (from philodendron to air plants). He likes what he terms experimentality, whether in choosing a plant, composing a planter or preparing a table for a special meal.

Creativity is free, he stresses. To illustrate, he pops an ornamental cabbage plant into a tiny bag of water before tucking it into a centerpiece, where it will stay a few days before being transplanted into a planter.

Richardson describes how he decorates at home. Even a creative must seed his creativity.

So, he walks through his house like a visitor, “and I look for wood carved things, natural elements, old gourds, dipper gourds, apple gourds. At home, I will mix in fresh Granny Smith apples and red apples because those types of things will hold for a long time.”

He seeks out an object to inspire.

“I have a tendency to want to bring together lots of different elements. In the fall, I like to bring in natural elements. You may have a piece of pottery you want to bring in, and let that be your inspiration to start,” he suggests.

“Then, I want to make my fall showcase the bounty of the end of the season,” he says. The summer is when you grow things and then in the fall you harvest them. “So, harvest those things, whether they are by the side of the road, or old okra pods, different pieces, like bittersweet, which I harvested outside by the greenhouse.”

Draping bittersweet branches across a display adds tiny explosions of orange to a subdued arrangement.

“It was only branches of green pods yesterday, but it opened overnight to give me the orange that we like.” He will use those branches yearlong, as they dry and colors intensify.

“I like for the outside to flow into what you do decoratively on the inside,” he says. “You use the same color palette, and it keeps growing. I do that at home; you want the outside to be a reflection of what you would imagine is on the inside.”

Richardson says he approaches seasonal decorating methodically — the exterior first. “I have a tendency to do my front door. Then the side and back doors.” As for the front door, it should introduce the foyer and interior concepts for cohesion.

He contemplates decorative accents for mantle and dining room table. Even ordinary work spaces might get embellishment.

“Then, don’t forget the kitchen island,” he reminds.

Late year, Richardson appreciates the impact of orange — not garish orange but a persimmon orange. And blue. (More on the blue later, a bit of an obsession.) “I have a tendency to go with orange, reds, and golds . . .” Bright yellows are too intense.

“They command the eye.” He amends, “they demand the eye.”

For the table, Richardson composed an arrangement of fruits, berries, vines, gourds and plants with dark foliage — “anything that’s more natural in the fall.” Then, he placed ornamental peppers in silver wine buckets.

“Branches are good with berries and fruits on them,” he suggests. If you’re entertaining, cut some branches off with the fruit attached. “Look for things you can use from your garden. Or dry hydrangea. Cut those blooms now and hang them upside down, and they will dry and have the fall colors.”

A painting was the inspiration point for another autumnal display.

“Pansies were the start. The ‘wow factor’ was the crabapple branches. Which is what you expect this time of year. And it will (still) be beautiful at Christmas.”

He used pottery pieces, building upon tonalities and textures — from clay to brass and copper.

“If you look, notice the pottery is there giving a grounding,” he says as he explains the display. “I brought in the carved bear pushing the wheel barrow. I had carved owls and used the wooden elements of the bowls.” These he filled with (faux) fruits. “Copper was my inspiration. Then, where I used dark foliage, it looks like velvet.” He points to a velvety, purply-colored leaf — “It’s a Rex begonia.”

Richardson usually avoids standard oranges and greens, even in autumn. Instead, he chose a bromeliad for an unexpected accent. Adding in dried pods to the display summoned a cinnamon color.

“I have a tendency to use the French style and clump things. Rather than spread something throughout an arrangement, clump it. You get much more impact,” he explains. And strive for dimension.

The finishing touch to an arrangement is the bittersweet.

“It gives that air and texture — if you took that away, it would be pretty, but this adds depth to the arrangement.”

Richardson has strewn leaves as if they fell there naturally; there are dried artichoke and cat tails.

He gives emphasis to the center of the table — not even the mantle takes precedence. “Anything else is auxiliary for the table.”

Richardson used a vintage goose tureen as the focal point of the centerpiece. Again, he cleverly tucked small cabbage plants into the display, which can later be transplanted outside.

“I placed brass tureens on the mantle to tie that in,” he explains, along with an elongated planter holding ferns. Indian corn and leaves serve as accents. “I can add berries, add dried bittersweet, and I might tuck in a pear that is fresh. I have a tendency to warm things up (color wise) in the winter, then cool them down in the spring and summer.”

Fall décor can extend into Thanksgiving and beyond, designing everything with that in mind.

“Even the goose on the table can stay till Christmas,” he indicates. “I would introduce more greens and evergreens.”

“Lots of times when I put together the elements of a table-scape, I think about what I want to get out of it. To make life a little easier, I do want to use the goose theme for Christmas as well.”

The table china is a Lenox white pattern rimmed in cobalt blue.

Over the mantle hangs a painting that inspired the arrangement below. An oval antique fish platter, in blue accented with orange, hangs above it.

Paintings are frequently moved, depending upon the season.

“Art can be moved,” he says. “I do that all the time. I change my art depending upon what I’m trying to achieve.” For instance, if he’s entertaining, a painting might take a place of honor in the dining room. Or, “It could be the lighting has changed throughout the year, and makes the art take on a whole different look.”

The buffet is set with serving pieces. Richardson likes to place pieces from his massive blue-and-white porcelain collection.

He marks the moment whether entertaining or not.  It’s very French to do this, he explains. “Their lives are built around eating and entertainment. And they pull out the stops for just two.”

So does Richardson. And he enjoys a sense of occasion.

Meanwhile, with autumn giving way to the intensive holiday season, Richardson mans the greenhouse as Goodin runs the florist. He also sells antiques at the Carriage House and the Shoppes on Patterson.

But plants are at the heart of his work.

Like many Triad businesses, Richardson got his start at Greensboro’s Super Flea, where he sold plants. (It was also a place where he scouted vintage treasures.)

“It was in July of 1975, the first Super Flea. I started Plants and Answers later that year.” Former teacher Pat Fogleman joined him becoming “my good man Friday. Now she’s much more than an assistant.” He built the greenhouse in 1976.

He told Fogleman that orchids would be good sellers. She fretted they were too expensive for a flea market. He told her buyers would value them if she did. He created combination baskets (“some call them European gardens”) and though she was initially uncertain, Richardson saw that she possessed an eye “and just had to develop it.”

Fogleman is a mainstay at the greenhouse, where she helps customers find the right touch of natural color to warm their home, he says. “She has a following,” he smiles.

Richardson started out thinking he would be an academic; he has so many interests, ranging from botany to antiquities. But he distills all of it down to this: “I love beauty.”

From early autumn till the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, he will be in a mad dash to beautify Triad homes and gardens. He and Goodin will watch Times Square via TV on the third floor of their Sunset Hills home.

The snowdrops and crocus will be nudging their way up, soon to appear.  OH

Cynthia Adams is a contributing editor to O.Henry.

Tips for Fall Décor:

“Go big or go home,” he says when it comes to more appealing pots and container gardens.

“Go for unusual.” Richardson is not a big fan of chrysantmums, which are ubiquitous.

Visit garden centers and nurseries and seek out unusual foliage and colors.

Go organic: get into the woods or your own yard.

Dry your own flowers.

Pick up dried pods and plants and use them. Be original and avoid trends: (“Ghost pumpkins are out,” he advises.)

Short Stories

*Given the unusual circumstances currently facing all events and their organizations, anyone planning to attend any program, gathering or competition should check in advance to make certain it will happen as scheduled.



She’s hardly a shoe fanatic — the most she ever shelled out was $175 for a pair of black, elastic boots with chunky heels and square toes — but she’s a sole sister, artistically speaking. Greensboro’s Marilynn Barr fashioned the 70 ceramic models featured in The First Shoe Collection, an exhibit ongoing at Alamance Arts’ Captain White House, 2130 S. Main St., Graham, through October 10. Built from clay molded on wooden shoe lasts from the 1940s and  ’50s, the glazed pumps, sandals and moccasins are painted with fanciful designs inspired by the events of  Barr’s life. “When the Earth Says Hello,” a pink-and-white confection edged with green grosgrain ribbon and spiked with yellow daffodil petals, recalls her flower-power days as a young woman on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. “It’s got the bright sunshine feeling I’d get on the streets going toward Central Park,” she says. Info: (336) 226-4495 or


Large flower garden

Ground Game

Now that you’ve spent plenty of time at home, gazing upon the South 40, why not give it an upgrade? The Greensboro Council of Garden Clubs (222-4 Swing Road) is here to help with its seminar, “Garden Designs and Plants for 2021.” Starting at 1 p.m. on October 17, a roster of local garden gurus will offer their insights for creating a green space that meets your desires. First up is Greensboro’s Lee Rogers, who will give the 411 on layout basics with her talk, “Landscape Design Concepts and Principles.” Want to know how landscape design is done on a grand scale? Then stick around for “A Vision for Reynolda Gardens,” from Director Jon Roethling, who brings years of expertise at N.C. State’s Raulston Arboretum and High Point University to the grounds of the Reynolds estate created by landscaping legend Thomas Sears. And everyone, it seems, is going native these days, so pick up a few pearls of wisdom from Guilford Garden Center’s Christina Larson, who will discuss native plant species that attract birds. Cost is only 20 bucks with the option of purchasing a $10 box lunch. For more information, contact Lorraine Neal at (336) 580-6617 or visit


Libra zodiac sign on space background


The Astrological Outlook
for an Upscale Life

Could there be a bigger pain in the ass than Libra? And we mean that as a compliment. As one of the four cardinal signs, along with Aries, Cancer and Capricorn, Libra kickstarts a new season, beginning with the autumnal equinox when days and nights are of — Ding! Ding! Ding! — equal length. The sign of the scales (the zodiac’s only inanimate object) perpetually seeks balance and harmony. It rules legal proceedings and partnerships of all kinds (order in the courtship!) and pours its strong energy into righting wrongs, setting things straight  . . .  devil take the hindmost. No big surprise that social justice warriors, from Gandhi to AOC, are Libras. Or real warriors, like Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, who led the Allied armies to defeat the Third Reich, and as President, ordered American troops to enforce Supreme Court – sanctioned desegregation of public schools in Little Rock, Arkansas. But his ferocity was cloaked with a dazzling smile set in a cherubic face. Libras also seek beauty, art and culture. Some of the most revered writers — William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe and Oscar Wilde — are Libras. As are some of the world’s great beauties (Catherine Deneuve), singers (Julie Andrews, Luciano Pavarotti), and controversial types (Snoop Dogg, Kim Kardashian, Lee Harvey Oswald, Vladimir Putin). But that’s the scales for you, ever swinging back and forth to balance good and bad, right and wrong, yin and yang. The best news for Libra this fall? Mars, the Tasmanian Devil of planets, is retrograding in his home sign, Aries. Finally! A calm after summer’s storms! And a little hubba-hubba, too. Enjoy it all. Peace out.