Sage Gardener

“Wikipedia says commercial eggnog can have glucose, fructose, modified milk ingredients, carrageenan, guar gum and as little as one percent egg in it,” I holler to my wife, Anne, who is in the kitchen making chow chow. “What’s in yours?”

“Cream, eggs, sugar and too much nog after you get through with it,” says Anne, who was raised by Baptist teetotalers.

“Some North Carolinian in 1895 said you should use a half gallon of brandy in your eggnog,” I counter. “George Washington put one pint of brandy, a half pint of rye whiskey, a half pint of Jamaica rum and a quarter pint of sherry.”

“And his teeth fell out. Sherry sounds awful.”

“It would probably have been very sweet like cream sherry. George’s sounds just like yours. ‘Let set in a cool place for several days,’ he says. ‘Taste frequently.’”

“You got that covered. Would you come in here where I can hear you?” she shouts back.

“Only if you’ll make me some eggnog.”

“Too early and we don’t have bourbon or rum because you drank it all.”

Anne’s eggnog is legendary. Ask our editor, Jim Dodson, if you don’t believe me. 

Anne separates a dozen eggs that have been pasteurized. She beats the yolks until they’re thick, adds two cups of sugar gradually, then in goes about a pint of bourbon. While that chills for about an hour, she takes the egg whites, which have warmed to room temperature and beats them until they’re stiff. Finally she folds it all together and adds a sprinkling of freshly ground nutmeg.

If you’re not already in the holiday spirit, the spirit will definitely be in you after I add a little rum to your cup. No sherry this year, but it sounds tempting. At my age, teeth are a precious commodity.    David Bailey

Just One Thing

If in the holiday rush, you only get to see one exhibit, we encourage you to drop by Weatherspoon Art Museum and catch artist Titus Kapahr’s Byzantine-inspired gilded portraits. They all feature men who shared his father’s name, Jerome, and had their mugshots taken on the way to prison. Painting on a panel covered in gold leaf, Kaphar then dipped the portraits into a tank of tar. “The contrast of the two materials is striking,” muses Emily Stanley, Weatherspoon’s curator and head of exhibits. “The gold bears associations with value and spiritual realms, while the tar is emphatically related to the ground and being trodden upon.” The portraits are part of Gilded: Contemporary Artists Explore Value and Worth, which will be up until April 8, 2023. “The artists in this exhibit turn to gilding as a means to reconsider our value systems,” Stanley says. “Gilding images of graffiti and sidewalks, cardboard boxes and architectural fragments, they ask us to see the beauty in what we often overlook and honor that which we so often throw away.”       David Bailey

Unrequited Love

Old Gold

I’d gone steady with a few boys by the time I reached high school. Triangular love notes sent sailing across math class, make-out sessions at parties, handholding strolls in the snow. But it wasn’t until I was in 10th grade at Page that love gobsmacked me. I was a sophomore; he was a senior. I learned to smoke Old Gold cigarettes and drink beer. Ball games, dances, parties at homes where parents were elsewhere. I loved this guy in the all-in way that teenage girls have. His name was encircled by a heart on every notebook and written over and over on sheets of lined paper. We talked on the phone for hours at night. I was sure we’d get married someday.

And then, out of the blue, in the middle of the hallway between classes, he told me we were finished.

Inconsolable, I started eating six or seven oranges a day. In the afternoons, I would break out in hives, literally overdosing from vitamin C. Weird way to mourn, right? But who can explain the actions of a lovelorn teenage girl?

I moved on eventually, a little savvier and a little less willing to give my whole heart away.

When we were in college, he contacted me and we set up a date. I walked out of the dorm wearing a powder blue double-knit pantsuit my mother had made. The door to a VW Bug opened, and he unfolded himself from the front seat sporting faded jeans, a Dead Head T-shirt and long hair. It wasn’t going to work out.

Years later, happily married with three daughters, I was in Greensboro to take care of my dad who was in the hospital. After a particularly difficult day, sick of hospital cafeteria food, I drove to a nearby fast-food restaurant to grab a bite to eat.

Standing in line, I saw him across the room. Grayer, a little more weight around the middle, but it was him. Old feelings from after the breakup, when I’d see him at school, arose in me — sweaty armpits and palms, heart beating like mad. I walked slowly across the restaurant, tapped his shoulder. When he turned, I croaked out his name.

He stared. Squinted his eyes. Had my gray-streaked hair and crow’s feet rendered me unrecognizable?

He shook his head as though to clear it.

“Maggie?” he said.

My face on fire, I looked away to catch my breath, stunned that he didn’t even remember my name.

“Mamie,” I said, and smiled.

He had always loved my smile. And I guess, in a way, I had always loved his arrogant nonchalance.

Mamie Potter is the accounting manager at Builders Unlimited, Inc., and a long-time volunteer and bookseller at Quail Ridge Books. She lives in Raleigh where she spends her free time reading, writing stories and taking FaceTime photographs of her three grandchildren.

Photograph © Carol W. Martin/Greensboro History Museum Collection

We asked the Greensboro History Museum for a fun vintage holiday photo and they delivered. We’d have been good friends with the spirited Carrolls — and that name!

Scene & Heard

The city’s most beloved nightclub in the 1990s and early-2000s was undoubtedly The Rhinoceros Club, back when there were scant few reasons to venture downtown at night. Or during the day. for that matter.

Peeking into an open doorway, I discovered The Rhino will be making an electrifying comeback in its familiar location facing the Carolina Theatre on Greene Street. The surviving original fixtures like those charmingly antiquated, pulley operated ceiling fans and the ornately carved dark hardwood booths, window frames and bar are being meticulously restored. The plaster wall behind the bar was jackhammered to expose the brickwork and modern bathroom installation seem to be the only major cosmetic changes anticipated.

An edgy, hip, yuppie bar? So I’m told. I only recall being there once. From the stories I’ve heard, everyone of a certain age in Greensboro was at The Rhino when Bruce Springsteen strolled through the door on a January night in 1985 to catch a performance by up-and-coming Boston rockers The Del Fuegos.

Underway in 2019 before being paused, The Rhino’s ambitious, time-tunneling recovery effort is slated to be completed in early 2023. A legit nightclub for young upwards to congregate just steps away from a live performance venue (The Crown) and M’Coul’s might be just what downtown needs to ignite some sort of cohesive scene. Regardless, the new Rhino crowd will likely have to tolerate that old guy at the end of the bar insisting he was present when The Boss dropped by, telling some watered-down variation of the absolutely true story I just told you. I can definitely confirm its veracity because I wasn’t there.            Billy Ingram

German Dollhouse

A childhood treasure launches a newfound hobby


When my American father, who was in the U.S. Air Force, drowned in Alaska, my German mother took me back to her home country with her. I lived there happily and peacefully until I was 7 years old. Ultimately, my mother, working at a dental clinic, met a periodontist from the U.S. who became my stepfather. She brought to America as many of her German possessions as possible, including beautiful rugs, along with her delicate china and crystal. Also included, for me, was a priceless, handmade dollhouse, although a little beat up from the hours and hours my dolls and I spent enjoying it. I’m sure I must have  played with it a little longer in our new home, but I eventually outgrew it and moved on to college, boys and working.

In the early ’80s though, I was briefly unemployed and discovered an interest in miniatures. I retrieved the dollhouse from a friend of my mother’s, whose daughters had also cherished it. I took it to a dollhouse and miniatures shop off Battleground in Greensboro. This little store is no longer there, but, at the time, it was a wonderful playground for an adult hobby. Exactly what an interest in miniatures means psychologically for an adult, I never wanted to know. It was just fun and I found camaraderie with other enthusiasts. 


Inspired, I decided it was time my childhood companion got a major makeover. I stripped off patterned paper to reveal a beautiful, hand-painted roof! I removed parts of the façade, and cut a bay window and an attic window. I applied stucco to the exterior, had a small stained glass window made for the attic, and installed a bay window. Using a paintbrush I added shutters and columns, a chimney trimmed with copper and real stones at the entranceway.

In the interior, real wallpaper covers a small copper strip that allows for actual electric current to light the tiny lamps. Actual wood flooring is in the living room and bedroom, and tile in the kitchen. There are real, tiny photos on the walls, but the rest of the elaborate furnishings are too countless and fabulous to describe individually. But what a happy, productive hobby it’s been to bring this old dollhouse back to life.

Mainly, every time I look at the dollhouse, I remember the happy, peaceful, loving feelings at my grandmother’s house in Germany.

Kristin Howell is a Greensboro resident who spent some of her childhood in Germany

Calling All O.Henry Essayists

Several years ago, we introduced a personal essay contest that was a big hit with readers and creative writers of the Triad. It was called “My Life in a Thousand Words.”

The theme of this year’s “My Life in a Thousand Words” contest is The Year That Changed Everything.

Was it the unforgettable year you got married (or divorced), went to college (or dropped out), saw the light, kissed the blarney stone, joined the army, ran for president, met Mick Jagger, had a baby, ran away with the circus, spiritually awakened — or, like many of us, just survived?

Only you can tell the story.

Same modest guidelines apply: Deadline is December 24, 2022. Submit no more than 1,000 words in conventional printed form. Shameless bribes and free (expensive) gifts welcome. Flattery also works.

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