Sazerac February 2024

Sazerac February 2024

Sage Gardener

With Valentine’s Day coming up, the Sage Gardener has been sitting by a crackling fire, reading about aphrodisiacs and anaphrodisiacs, to which The Cambridge World History of Food devotes 12 quarto-sized pages. (Anaphrodisiacs? Substances and foods that blunt sexual appetite — of particular interest to clerical scholars during the Middle Ages in respect to randy monks, friars and priests.) But back to plants and foods that encourage amorous behavior, as seen on the big screen when Tom Jones meets Mrs. Waters in a country inn and gastro-lust ensues.

Who knew, for instance, that sparrow brains were prized in 16th century England for their lascivious attributes? Granted, goddess of love Aphrodite considered them sacred and that they’re infamous for their uninhibited and public displays of affection — but sparrow brains? And sweet potatoes? Once upon a time, again in Jolly Old England, they were prized as “the venereous root,” probably because of their scarcity (or appearance?). Which is likely why so many once-exotic but now-every-day spices (cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, gloves, cinnamon and even pepper) were prized as aphrodisiacs. (I certainly see no effects from the gallons of chai I drink every morning.) I also learned that the French ate three meals of asparagus the day before their weddings as a libido booster. And that beets are a natural source of tryptophan, betaine and boron, something that’s hard to beet in the vegetable world.

I came of age in the ’50s and ’60s, when, as Jane and Michael Stern observe in their classic American Gourmet, “culinary sophistication conferred great powers of seduction on the gourmet.” Books such as Saucepan and the Single GirlVenus in the KitchenThe Naked Chef and Love and Dishes have, over the years, fueled amorous fires in so many bellies and hearts. The Sterns remember fondly how setting victuals ablaze — from flaming chunks of meat skewered on a sword to, look it up, coffee set on fire — kindles something primitive deep down in our psyches. And remember Swiss fondue and America’s obsession with oh-so-saucy-and-sexy French cuisine? It was an era when Cosmo editor Helen Gurley Brown wrote, “There is a relationship between food and sex. One appetite can feed the other in a never-ending cycle of sensation.” (Was it any wonder that my wife-to-be and I bonded on a picnic featuring roast duck and homemade gingerbread?) The Oxford Companion to Food confirmed what my decades of dining suggest — that “the concept of finding a truly aphrodisiac food is on a par with that of finding a crock of gold at the end of the rainbow.” However, there are few tried-and-true favorites my kitchen mate and I put on the table for anniversaries, birthdays and other special occasions.

Is there a more sensuous food than ripe strawberries, especially if you share a few double berries, taking just a half bite and sealing the deal with a sweet meeting of the lips? The botanical name for chocolate, Theobromo (food of the gods) cacao, is apt not only because of its stimulating chemicals, such as phenylethylamine and serotonin, but from the sheer sensual pleasure of having something melt in your mouth as it triggers endorphins in your brain. Teething and savoring the soft flesh of steamed artichoke petals, dipped in butter, is a sensuous ritual, as is dipping lobster into melted butter. And how about butter on just about anything? And then there are oysters, plucked steaming and sizzling from beneath a burlap sack atop a sheet of steel over a roaring fire — popped open and slurped with just a dash of tangy Texas Pete.

I could go on, but in an era when men and women endlessly troll the internet and haunt doctors’ offices looking for love, something a London physician observed in the 16th century comes to mind: “A good cook is half physician.”

                                      David Claude Bailey

A Heartfelt Cause? You bet

Six years ago in “The Light Within Us,” O.Henry writers highlighted several local individuals and organizations who were sprinkling Greensboro with goodness (ohenrymag.com/the-light-within-us). We recently caught up with Kathleen Little, who cofounded Hands for Hearts in memory of her son, Matthew Sullivan. Sullivan passed away in January 2014, a decade ago. At the time of his death, Sullivan, just 34, held a tight bond with his toddler nephew, Nicholas LaRose, who was born with multiple heart defects. To support children — like Nicholas — with congenital heart defects and to carry on the legacy of a young man who had “a heart that went on for days,” according to best friend Skotty Wannamaker, Hands for Hearts was brought to life. Now, 10 years after forming, the nonprofit organization is still beating strong. In fact, last year, Hands for Hearts took home the 2023 Duke Children’s Hero Award. Wanna take a gamble on how you can help? Practice your poker face and chip in for its annual Casino Night from 6 p.m.–midnight on Saturday, Feb. 24, at the Greensboro Country Club. Food, drinks, silent and live auctions, plus classic casino games? Count us in. Tickets: handsforhearts.org.

Unsolicited Advice

Fun fact: Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, hails from North Carolina and served as minister for over 50 years at Cavalry Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. Since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, we’ve come up with some ideas to help you show your feelings, no matter which language your partner speaks.

Words of Affirmation: There are just three little words your partner is longing to hear. “You were right.”

Quality Time: How about a movie night? You’ll spend almost an hour discussing what flick to pick only to decide there’s not enough time left to watch said film. But, hey, that was a good 45 minutes together.

Physical Touch: Big spoon, little spoon? Nah, give ‘em something less expected. High five, low five. Nothing says romance like a “Put it there, bruh.”

Acts of Service: Do you remember that Mr. Clean Super Bowl ad that went viral in 2017? Google it. The point is, there’s nothing sexier than someone else cleaning your house. Nothing.

Receiving Gifts: You are a gift. Remember that. And make sure your partner knows that, too.

Window to the Past

Photograph © Greensboro History Museum Collection

Milling around? A family poses on the porch of their house in one of the Cone mill villages. From the exterior, this house is almost a spitting image of the Glencoe mill home featured on page 60. Can you spot the major difference?

SAZERAC January 2024

SAZERAC January 2024

Sage Gardener

The Sage Gardener had a simple question: What’s the hardiest, hardest-to-kill houseplant you’ve ever had? The answers, as you’ll see, were anything but simple, but first thing first: A majority of respondents insist that for pure can’t-kill-it endurance, nothing beats a snake plant, aka devil’s tongue, good-luck plant or mother-in-law’s tongue. “Thriving, impossibly leggy and ugly,” complains O.Henry columnist Cynthia Adams, who gave hers away “because it just wouldn’t give up the ghost and die.” But they are by no means immortal. My poet and playwright friend from New Jersey sniffs: “My husband killed my snake plant just after we met. I’d had it for about 32 years when we met. Gone.” Along with some precious oxygen in their house. “According to NASA’s Clean Air Study,” a former colleague from Florida pointed out to me, “the snake plant is so effective at producing oxygen that if you were locked in a sealed room with no airflow, you would be able to survive with just six to eight plants in it.” She says NASA recommends 15–18 medium-to-large-size plants for an 1,800-square-foot home for optimum air quality. When you ask O.Henry’s founder, Jim Dodson, about plants, you, of course get a dog story: “We have a beautiful tree fern that has been ravaged by our one-year-old wildling, a Lab-English-spaniel. The tree fern made two comebacks and is now safe in a sunny, remote guest bedroom. Its will to survive is an inspiration.” Another writer, name withheld to protect the guilty, reports “any interesting successes with houseplants involve previous marriages, so I don’t think my mentioning them would play especially well in my household.” A friend from Asheville says she has three peace lilies, which are notoriously temperamental, that are thriving: “one from my grandmother’s funeral in 1995, one from my dad’s funeral in 2016 and one from my mother’s funeral in 2021. I don’t have the heart to get rid of them so I nurse them along.” A former neighbor tells about a peace lily her husband-to-be “clung to as the only living thing he had after moving away from an abusive relationship and to a new town and a new job.” Once they became a couple, the lily survived poor lighting in Michigan, aphids in Georgia, cramped space during grad school: “This peace lily became a barometer for our collective prosperity and . . . literally . . . our peace.” Until “we began the sad trajectory of replicating the marriage my partner had tried to escape. It was a decline for all three of us. Attempts to recover, or even salvage, failed. After almost 20 years, the peace lily died. It took fewer years for the marriage.” On a brighter note, O.Henry’s Maria Johnson says that “probably my longest-lived plant is a next-to-the-house plant, a Boston fern that summers on a metal stand next to the garage.” As spring turns to summer, it bursts into verdant glory, and “its lacy fingers brush the side of my car when I pull into the garage. It reminds me of the way a friend might touch the arm of another while chatting, a gentle way of connecting.” Several respondents voted for ubiquitous and hardy pothos: “It wilts to say, ‘Water me, Seymour!’” says O.Henry’s editor, Cassie Bustamante. But a hiking buddy’s has perhaps the most practical and enduring solution to fading and expiring house plants: “Plastic,” she says.    

David Claude Bailey

Window to the Past

Photograph © Carol W. Martin/Greensboro History Museum Collection

A trolley travels through a wintry scene along Summit Avenue, circa 1900s. 

Unsolicited Advice

While your dogs licks up the last of the sequins and your hangover succumbs to a little hair of the dog, an anti-post-holiday malaise cure is in order. To stave off the NYE — New Year Ennui — we’ve made a list of things we’re looking forward to in 2024.

It Ends with Us. Colleen Hoover, a New York Times-bestselling author, is on fire — not literally, of course — and this 2016 title is her most popular by far. The film adaptation hits theaters on February 9. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, which we’re not looking forward to.

Summer Olympics. The City of Light has another nickname — La Dame de Fer, aka The Lady of Iron — thanks to the iron Eiffel Tower. She’ll become the lady of gold, silver, bronze and “just honored to be here” when the Olympics kick off in late July.

February 29. It only comes around once every four years, folks. Seize the moment by doing something you rarely do. Like balancing your checkbook. Your what?

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Call it vegan, if you will, but the circus is back in town, animal-free and flipping through the Coliseum in early February. Sorry, Hugh, but this is “The Greatest Show.”

Snow White. In March, just when we’re ready to move on from the idea of snow, Disney releases its live-action adaptation of this classic fairytale, sure to make us melt. Cue the songbirds.

Just One Thing

“My first pieces sold; I just thought I was always doodling,” Charlotte native Nellie Ashford, a visual storyteller and a self-proclaimed folk artist, says in the short documentary titled Nellie Ashford: Reckoning with Ties to Slavery at Davidson. “I started doodling as a serious artist when my grandson and I, we would get on the floor and we would draw — together.” Now 80, she’s been exhibiting her work across North Carolina for well over 20 years, including her first solo exhibit in 2016. Through a combination of painting and collage that often features vintage fabrics that bear meaning to the work’s subjects, Ashford creates art that represents everyday people in the community — children, families, dancers, musicians — as well as her own memories of growing up in the Jim Crow era South. Found at GreenHill Center for NC Art’s annual “Winter Show,” where all pieces are available for purchase, A Walk to the Farm to See My Aunt & Uncle (2023) depicts four little girls running toward the open arms of their relatives against a vivid orange sky. “We’re thrilled to be able to include Nellie Ashford for the first time at GreenHill, especially because she is a pre-eminent North Carolina folk artist, one of our state’s most well-known on a national level, and has been widely exhibited in museums and artist collections,” says GreenHill executive director Leigh Dyer. “This is a wonderful opportunity for collectors to access her work.”

Letters

To Jim Dodson in response to his September 2023 “Simple Life:”

My husband, who will remain nameless (but folks of a certain age always ask him how Durwood Kirby is doing), shares your view of squirrels.

One morning, after observing a varmint munching on the bird food outside our bedroom window, he moved stealthily to grab his black powder pistol, cock it and open the window. Leaning out, he shot that squirrel and left him on the ground for a day as a warning to those in his tribe. In our new neighborhood, he has used his BB gun to dispatch three others.

 Don’t get me wrong. We’ve tried the live trap and actually caught a possum one time, but the squirrels couldn’t be bothered to investigate the bait. Arghhhhh! Our Golden Retriever, Scout II, is no help whatsoever. He’d rather play with them and seems disappointed that they don’t hang around.

 I know that squirrels have to eat, too, and they must serve some purpose other than in Brunswick stew, but damned if I can figure out what that purpose is. Maybe driving otherwise peace-loving folks to violence? As for squirrels in the middle of the road, my ecology professor called them Kamikaze squirrels. Still, I cannot abide the crunch of their tiny bones under my SUV tires. Call me an old softie.

Alice S. Moore

Sazerac December 2023

Sazerac December 2023

Unsolicited Advice

Our fav cold weather activity is staying inside under a weighted blanket. But in the spirit of celebrating the winter solstice, we’re tossing off the covers and steppin’ out.

  1. According to our partner, we’re always skating on thin ice. May as well test that skill outside on thick ice at Piedmont Winterfest located in LeBauer Park. Don’t miss Tuesday night curling. Just one question — foam or hot rollers?
  2. Heart-pumping exercise always warms us up. How about rushing through local shops while carrying heavy bags? You — and your credit card — will get a workout .
  3. Hot cocoa anyone? Hit up one of Greensboro’s many coffee spots for a mug of steaming milk chocolate with whipped cream. Into chocolate mint? Forget the peppermint crumbles and bring on a hot shot of peppermint schnapps instead.
  4. We’re often told to take a hike when offering friendly advice, and now’s the perfect time. The local trails are sure to be a little less people-y. Just you and nature. And maybe a black bear who’s prepping for winter, too. NBD — bring a trailmate you can outrun.
  5. And the activity we’re looking forward to most? Walking back into our warm home and sending a note of thanks to the heavens for Alice Parker, who patented the first central heating system. Siri, put the fireplace screensaver on TV — we need a little winter ambience.

Last Call: O.Henry Essay Contest

Several years ago, readers responded enthusiastically to a contest challenging them to write an essay entitled “My Life in a Thousand Words.” Last year, we revived our challenge with a theme of “The Year That Changed Everything.” And this year, in honor of our namesake, who was known as one of America’s most popular  — and highest-paid during his time — short story writers, we’re thrilled to announce that the 2023 O.Henry Essay Contest is all about “The Kindness of Strangers.”

We’ve all had a moment in our lives when someone we didn’t know stopped without hesitation to lend a hand. And now, we want to hear your story — whether you were on the receiving or giving end.

Of course, there are some rules:

  • Submit no more than 1,000 words in conventional printed form. Essays over 1,000 will be shredded and used in our office hamster’s cage.
  • Deadline to enter is December 24, 2023.
  • Top three winners will be contacted via email and will be printed in a spring 2024 issue.
  • Email entries to cassie@ohenrymag.com

We can’t wait to hear the clickety-clack of keyboards across the Triad as you write your stories — stories that are sure to remind us of all the goodness that exists in the world.

— Cassie Bustamante, editor

Window to the Past

Photograph © Carol W. Martin/Greensboro History Museum Collection

“What kind of tree did you say this was, Betty?”

“It’s a shrub. Just keep stringing it with tinsel and no one will know.”

(Coeds at Greensboro College decorate a Christmas tree in the 1940s.)

Just One Thing

The artist ransome, the full name he goes by, writes on his website (ransomeart.com), “My artwork centers on my African-American lineage, which is traced back to sharecroppers of the American South who migrated to Northern cities along the East Coast.” Born in Rich Square, a tiny town east of Roanoke Rapids, he was raised by his grandmother before moving to New Jersey as part of the Great Migration of African Americans seeking broader economic and educational opportunities. With a B.F.A. from Pratt Institute and an M.F.A. from Lesley University, ransome writes, “My pictorial narratives are personal, yet the symbols I use are universal and interplay with larger social, racial, ancestral, economic and political histories that inform our nation to this day.” His work, “Come Sunday, You Can’t Hide,” 2022, is a collage on exhibit as part of Art on Paper, Weatherspoon’s biennial show that features artists “who demonstrate the breadth of ways in which one can deploy the humble medium of paper to extraordinary ends.”

Sage Gardener

One of my favorite memories of Christmases past is anticipating what gardening tool Wofford Malphrus, my late father-in-law, was going to give me. In the spirit of his generosity and thoughtfulness, the Sage Gardener polled the elite testing unit of gardeners at O.Henry and came up with a list of sugarplums for the naughtiest and nicest gardeners on your list.

Editor Cassie Bustamante was the first to answer: “It’s cheap, fits in a stocking and is a miracle worker on hardworking hands: Badger Balm,” she writes. “I grab mine at Deep Roots. And don’t worry. Not made from real badgers.” In fact, it was “created by Badger Bill to soothe his rough carpenter’s hands during a fierce New England winter,” says the website: www.badgerbalm.com. “It’s packed with antioxidant-rich ingredients like beeswax and extra virgin olive oil and formulated with wintergreen oil.” 

O.Henry’s garden writer, Ross Howell Jr., suggests a packet of wildflower seeds from American Meadows, Shelburne, Vermont. Half an hour after typing in www.americanmeadows.com, the idea of a gift for someone else wilted and I couldn’t decide whether I wanted the pollinator wildflower mix, the butterfly-and-hummingbird mix, the Indian blanket seeds or love-lies-bleeding. Plus, I discovered that some people actually BUY and PLANT morning glory seeds. Since I have the greatest abundance of them, maybe I should gift them instead of American Meadows’ carefully curated seeds?

“Life’s Funny,” Maria Johnson reminds us every month, but there’s no funny business about manure from this backyard gardener. She swears by Daddy Pete’s Plant Pleaser’s line of products, deposited right here in North Carolina. Maria gets hers at Guilford Garden Center. Read all about it at www.daddypetes.com/story, as in, “Something that seems to be spent or dead to one, brings life to another. Thus it is with Daddy Pete’s Cow Manure and the belief that we help you grow.” Can you say, Pete and repeat?

Photographer and world traveler Lynn Donovan says, “For the movers and shapers of the gardening world, Felco Pruning Shears are the bomb.” Made in Switzerland and extremely rugged, this could be the last pair of shears you buy. After all, they are guaranteed for life. Cutting to the point, my question always is, my life or the product’s life?

My daughter is itching to tell you about Tecnu. Got poison ivy or oak in your yard or garden? (Of course you do.) Tecnu is a specially formulated soap that washes off urushiol, the sticky stuff that makes you look leprous and drives you nuts. The sooner you apply Tecnu, the better it works, but you’ve got up to eight hours! “Don’t be fooled by the power of urushiol!” says the website, teclabsinc.com/product/tecnu-original-outdoor-skin-cleanser. “The resin from poison ivy is incredibly potent and lasts for months, even years on certain items.” I can confirm that, as on car seats.

Me? According to the Farmer’s Almanac, this winter may be colder than usual. I suggest you curl up on the couch with Beautiful Madness: One Man’s Journey Through Other People’s Gardens by no less than Jim Dodson. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? Read about exotic day lilies and stolen cuttings from a Founding Father’s shrubbery. Then hang out with Jim as he himself hangs perilously from a limb on the side of a cliff akin to Mount Crumpit in search of rare Southern African plants: www.jamesdodsonauthor.com/beautiful-madness.

Let’s give the last word to Cynthia Adams. And no, she doesn’t draw from her mother’s or father’s gardening experience on the ranchette where she grew up, Hell’s Half-Acre, though she does turn to the theme of pain. “I swear by Willow Balm, a topical painkiller in a tube.” Natureswillow.com/products/willow-balm-pain-relieving-cream, though she gets hers at Tractor Supply. “I carry it with me and use it so often, Jim Dodson once accused me of eating it on toast for breakfast.” Since it contains white willow bark extract, menthol, camphor, eucalyptus oil and geranium oil, we don’t recommend regular consumption, but, says Cindy, “When I’ve overdone repotting, moving heavy pots, digging, this stuff IS the balm. My doc likes it, too.” In no time, that black-and-blue thumb will be green. 
        David Claude Bailey

Sazerac November 2023

Sazerac November 2023

Unsolicited Advice

A little something on the side? Don’t mind if we do. But this year as you’re planning the Thanksgiving feast, can we all agree to keep the canned cranberry sauce where it belongs? In the can — or better yet, on the grocery store shelf — where it can stay until we’re hiding from the end of the world, in a bunker, and it’s your absolute last resort. Like, even after you’ve eaten the can of Spam that your cat won’t touch. Leave it on the shelf and try one of these unique dishes found at popsugar.com instead:

  1. You can’t spell “sausage stuffing” without “sage,” but you can stuff something other than your turkey. Like your slow cooker. Frankly, it’s a much safer process with a big bonus: The two cups of onion will give your breath a “savory” aroma that will have your relatives happily keeping their distance.
  2. Meatlovers, meet your veggies. Think Brussels sprouts are disgusting? Think again. Pan-fry bacon and use its fatty grease in place of olive oil for roasting sprouts, squash and fresh cranberries. Lastly, sprinkle said veggies with bacon bits and walnuts and they becomes a delicious, salty treat.
  3. In a world where cauliflower can be anything — we’re talking pizza and even a Chick-Fil-A sandwich — why not make it a Thanksgiving side? Just add white cheddar. And bacon.
  4. We saved the best for last. We’ll take a heapin’ helping of sweet potato casserole with butter-pecan crumble topping. Does that mean we can’t have just a sliver of sweet potato pie and a wee bit of pecan pie? Nope, there’s still room for dessert if you skimp on the cranberry sauce. Find more interesting ideas here: popsugar.com/food/unique-thanksgiving-side-dishes-32388172

Just One Thing

Lawrence Feir, a Greensboro sculptor and cancer survivor, once sketched trees in Wesley Long’s Healing Garden while waiting for a ride home after chemo and radiation treatment. “Those doodles eventually evolved into the Tree of Hope sculpture,” says the Canadian-born artist, who got his start “painting jean jackets in a Long Island neighborhood, emblazoned with ’60s rock ’n’ roll stars like the Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan.” Disillusioned with life in crowded New York, “I moved to North Carolina, went to art school and discovered photography.” Feir, pronounced fayr, says a lucky break at the Greensboro airport landed him a job jetting the world shooting photos for aerospace pub Airways International until September 11, 2001. “Flying and photography would never be the same for me,” he says. After Dr. Bill Bowman, a general surgeon for 30 years and a Cone Health VP, died unexpectedly in 2021, family and friends donated money for a memorial, and Feir, who had reinvented himself as a contemporary artist working in welded steel, kinetic, abstract and figurative sculpture, was tapped to create it. A silver silhouette of a tree came to mind, Feir says, that would reflect the garden’s lush green vegetation with an almost moss-like border in the morning, turn silver as the day progressed and then take on a warm, crepuscular glow as dusk descended. Fabricated from stainless steel with a welding tool “that uses jets of hot plasma to cut through metal like butter,” the 12-foot-high tree sprouted and grew in Feir’s Greensboro studio over several weeks. Feir hopes its wind-swept branches inspire feelings of comfort and serenity in others dealing with cancer while serving as a shimmering tribute to Dr. Bowman and others who “supported me through a very difficult time,” he says. “They saved my life.”

Window to the Past

Photograph © Carol W. Martin/Greensboro History Museum Collection

Don’t miss this year’s Greensboro Honors: Veterans Day Parade, beginning on the corner of Elm and Lindsay, and kicking off at noon on November 11.

Sage Gardener

For decades, Betty, my sister, and I have scouted out persimmon trees just before Thanksgiving. After carefully removing the fruit’s orangey, pulpy mass from the ground and separating out the leaves, twigs and dirt, we cook up some persimmon pudding for the big holiday feast. I’ve always used my late mother’s recipe, distinguished by sweet potatoes, corn meal, pecans and nutmeg with no other spices. I wondered aloud to Betty whether she uses the same recipe.

“Doesn’t matter,” she said.

“What?”

“I don’t care one way or another about persimmon pudding,” she said. “It’s momma’s hard sauce that I like.” Brandy, sugar and butter. What’s not to like, but Zella Bailey’s son sure does love persimmons and persimmon pudding.

A corruption of the Algonquin word “putchamin,” persimmons charmed Spanish Conquistador Hernando de Soto, who liked them better than red plums. English Colonial Governor Captain John Smith declared them “one of the most palatable fruits of this land” — when ripe — observing how they can “draw a man’s mouth awrie with much torment” when eaten too soon.

The Oxford Companion to Food observes from an ocean away that it is “a fruit which used to be valued . . . but is now little eaten,” eclipsed, they say, by the big, fat Asian-engineered persimmons ubiquitous in grocery stores nowadays. Right.

In Seasoned in the South: Recipes from Crook’s Corner and from Home, celebrated Chapel Hill chef Bill Smith says his favorite recipe passed down to him by Bill Neal, Crook’s founder, is persimmon pudding (no sweet taters and no cornmeal, but good nonetheless). Pick your own persimmons, he insists, and sprinkle in some nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon.

In the plant sex department, persimmon trees are diocesius (from the Greek two [di-] and house [oikos]), meaning it takes two trees, a male and a female, to tango and make persimmons. I have proof of this in my yard, where a lonely female tree flourishes, but longs for a stately male companion. The wood from persimmon trees, by the way, is hard and closely grained and used for golf-club heads, billiard cues and once upon a time for preparatory school paddles.

In sweetness, the fruit is only exceeded by the date in sugar content. They are “as eagerly sought out by possums and other wild creatures as human beings,” says The Oxford Companion, showing they do know a little something or another.

Finally, as the onset of winter blisters the landscape with dying leaves and sets our roads on fire with a kaleidoscope of colors, let’s hear it for the persimmon tree, which goes out in a blaze of yellow-to-orange-to-purplish-bronze glory. “Nothing evokes the warm, lazy feeling of a fall afternoon in the Southern countryside,” writes an anonymous horticulturist on the J.C. Raulston Arboretum’s website, “like the sight of two or three persimmon trees lounging against a split-rail fence, their devilishly delicious fruit hanging just out of reach.”   David Claude Bailey

Sazerac October 2023

Sazerac October 2023

Unsolicited Advice

Halloween — the one time of year that it’s acceptable to dress up like Blond Ambition World Tour-era Madonna. Every other time we don the look, we get nothing but side-eye from our office mates. We’re dropping some easy-to-pull-off holiday looks, inspired by one of our fav subjects: the English language.

Looking for a couples costume? One of you can sport an English tweed suit, white beard and round glasses — and don’t forget the trademark cigar — while the other wears a simple slip. Together, you’re a Freudian slip.

Stop in the name of literacy! All you need is a whistle, a police cap and a “Grammar Police” tee to play the part. We’re happy to let you borrow ours.

Colon or semi-colon — do we really need to go there?

Another twofer? One person dresses as a dog-walker with a leash around the neck of the other, dressed as Santa. Subordinate Claus, anyone?

Put on your most starched button-down and toss on a driving cap plus suspenders for added effect. Lastly, use black construction paper to cut out a comma and adhere it to your belly.  You’ll be the most welcomed — and dapper — Oxford comma we’ve ever seen.

Lasting Legacy

Saliba Isa Hanhan
APRIL 18, 1940 – AUGUST 2, 2023

I know that you’re smiling down at me as I struggle with this, Saliba Hanhan.

“You’re a writer, aren’t you?” you’re saying. “This should be easy for you.” You have a mischievous twinkle in your eyes and that smile incorporating every muscle in your face.

Yes, Saliba, you were a chemist, a professor, a gourmet, a shopkeeper extraordinaire, a gardener, a cook and a masterful formulator of recipes. But you were also an astute philosopher, a lifelong student, and a collector of fascinating friends and interesting knowledge, which you generously shared with others. But your children — your daughter, Emily, and two sons, Easa and Omar, each of whom continues to share the glow and energy that kept us coming to your store, even when it was 30 miles away — were your real legacy, of which you were so justly proud.

“I just got a cheese in that your friend Jim’s gonna love,” I can hear you saying, “but it may not be stinky enough for you.” And when we’d get home and start unpacking, I’d often find a heel of a Parmigiano-Reggiano or the bone of a Serrano ham that you slipped in. “You know what to do with it,” I can hear you saying.

I don’t know what makes someone “great.” Fame? Fortune? Power? None of which you cared about. Your greatness went beyond conventional definitions of worldly accomplishments. What made you great was how you followed your heart, found what made you happy and then managed to share that happiness day in and day out with others. It’s a greatness that goes beyond the grave, which is why, once again, I can hear you saying, “David. That’s a bit too much. Calm down.”   
  — David Claude Bailey

Calling All O.Henry Essayists

Don’t forget to enter our annual 1,000-word essay contest, themed “The Kindness of Strangers.” Details can be found here: ohenrymag.com/sazerac-september-2023.

Window to the Past

Photograph © Carol W. Martin/Greensboro History Museum Collection

Kids in the 1940s: ″Trick-or-treat, give us Fig Newtons to eat!″

Kids today: “′Made with real fruit?′ What else ya got?”

Sage Gardener

Garlic has been around for at least 5,000 years, but its reputation has hardly improved.

Esteemed by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans for its medicinal properties, fed to workers, soldiers and oarsmen to increase their stamina, and touted for increasing sexual potency, garlic has long been “disdained by the aristocracy” and denigrated by love poets such as Horace, according to the Oxford Companion to Food. Never mind that Pliny the Elder listed 61 remedies prepared from garlic or that it’s still used in China today as an antibacterial, antifungal and antithrombotic agent. Admittedly, garlic’s after-odor is a tad odiferous — fetid, putrid, foul and rank, according to some of my former office mates. So one of the prime reasons I’ve been looking forward to retirement is eating as much garlic as I want, whenever I want. Garlic confit. Basque garlic soup. Aioli by the spoonful, ladled on a baguette. Garlicky harissa. Kimchi. Forty-clove garlic chicken à la Julia Child, who once wrote in The Boston Globe, “40 cloves may not be enough.” And with the arrival of fall, it’s high time to get it in the ground. According to the Central N.C. Planting Calendar, the ideal planting time for garlic is from September 15 to November 30.

Don’t sweat the frost. As our warm fall temperatures shift to colder, freezing days and nights, the bulbs sprout and take hold, waiting for warm spring days to reach their green tentacles out of the hay covering them. (It’s called vernalization.) Garlic thrives on nitrogen, so top dress your plants in February with composted manure. And if you’re planting hardneck garlic (look it up), by all means harvest the scapes and pop them, sautéed, into an omelet with blue cheese. (Removing the scapes increases bulb size by as much as 30 percent.) The bulbs will fill out by summer, just in time for pico de gallo and pesto. Tie the harvested plants in bundles and hang them high from the eaves of a shed or garage for four to six weeks so they cure. By then, it’s almost time to put some of them back into the ground. (No need to worry about cross-pollination because each plant is a clone of its parent.) Plant your largest cloves to get bigger bulbs next year. And, when vampires take wing on the night on October 31, think about baking a big batch of roasted-garlic, chocolate chip cookies (https://www.food.com/recipe/garlic-chocolate-chip-cookies-28771). Sink your fangs into that.         David Claude Bailey

Just One Thing

Whether or not you’re a fan of blood sports, history cannot be erased: Less than 120 years ago, some of the richest and most influential captains of American industry traveled hundred of miles to Jamestown to realize their most cherished dream — killing a dozen or more birds in one afternoon. In this photo taken in front of Deep River Hunting Lodge (most likely by renowned sports photographer J.C. Hemment), millionaire industrialist and lodge owner Clarence Hungerford Mackay, sporting the fedora, holds the leads of a pliant pack of bird dogs. The setters and pointers were trained by Englishman Edward Armstrong, whose family shared the photo and other artifacts on display at the High Point Museum in Field & Feathers: Hunting at Deep River Lodge, 1895–1935. The gentleman standing next to Mackay with the handsome, dark mustachio is William Kissam Vanderbilt II, says Marian Inabinett, curator of the museum’s collection. The tall and dapper huntsman facing Mackay seems to be Reginald Ronalds, whose great-grandfather was Pierre Lorillard II. Deep River Lodge, designed by noted Gilded Age architect Stanford White, was the grandest of a number of hunting lodges across central North Carolina. “It’s a forgotten story, but for decades America’s wealthiest men enjoyed hunting bobwhite quail that thrived among the woods and open farmland in the center of the state,” says Inabinett. “Also on display are a suitcase and steamer trunk with great travel stickers on them, a bottle of Champagne from the lodge’s wine cellar, lots and lots of ocean liner memorabilia, and even some steamship tickets for hunting dogs,” she says. The exhibit will be open through January 31, 2024. Other photos and images can be seen via the museum’s app and on its Facebook page. Info: www.highpointmuseum.org and www.facebook.com/HighPointMuseum

Sazerac September 2023

Sazerac September 2023

Unsolicited Advice

Every fall since the inception of Pinterest, it happens. Free, pretty printable, “Fall Bucket Lists” in pastels, oranges and sage greens take over the internet. And we think to ourselves, “Yes! This season, I will learn to knit, pick a bushel of apples, make a pie from said apples, preserve colorful leaves and do all the autumnal sort of things!” And then the winter arrives and all you have to show for it is one sad, empty PSL cup with your name spelled wrong. Forget that! We’ve made some updates that’ll have you knocking out this list faster than you can say apple spice cake.

  1. Bake pumpkin bread. OH: Who has time for that? Buy it at the grocery store and burn that pumpkin spice candle you got last fall. All the vibes with none of the stress.
  2. Make and sip warm apple cider. OH: Pass us a refreshing hard apple cider, please and thank you.
  3. Build a scarecrow. OH: Why? What did those crows ever do to you? Instead, make a — really scary — scarehuman and keep those nosy neighbors at bay.
  4. Go leaf-peeping. OH: Is there a tree outside your window? Look at it. Congratulations, you’ve peeped leaves. Check one off!
  5. Have a bonfire. OH: Got kindling? May we suggest that fall bucket list printout? Or past issue of OH? Consider it adaptive reuse.

Just One Thing

Coinciding with the N.C. Folk Festival, local artist Greg Hausler, owner of Wonky Star Studios, hosts a solo show at Greensboro’s Project Space, right next to Cincy’s Downtown, on September 5–9. “Color, Cloth & Chaos” features over 30 of Hausler’s works, which are far from traditional. In fact, Hauser suggests his style is a mashup of Marcel Duchamp, Jackson Pollock and Claude Monet with a little street art sprinkled in. “My paintings incorporate repurposed clothing that adds texture, depth and history to the canvas,” says Hausler. Look for everything from undergarments to socks and jeans. Push Play, which traveled to Belgrade, Serbia, for the 2022 Biannele Art Salon, features “a frozen heart that’s being reset.” To create it, Hausler used one of his old flannel shirts — peer closely and you will see the buttons — and a work glove, which has become the hand that’s about to press play. Of this piece, Hausler says that the heart represents “the place where all the inspiration has to go for it to come to fruition.” For more information, visit wonkystarstudios.com.


Sage Gardener

Okra is the Rodney Dangerfield of vegetables. Whenever I post about it on Facebook, some of my “friends” seem to think I’m urging them to partake of sizzling serpents au gratin. But no less an authority than Jessica Harris, author of High on the Hog, says it is “perhaps the best known and least understood” of Southern vegetables. I encourage you to read Harris’ account of how okra made its journey from Africa on slave ships to Southern “Big House” kitchens, where Black cooks introduced it into dishes such as turkey-neck soup. Since then, it’s become a chic addition in some of America’s hottest boîtes. Whether stewed in fiery New Orleans Creole gumbo or simply dredged in corn meal and fried, Southerners have been wolfing down okra for centuries. And why not? It is among the most heat- and drought-tolerant vegetables on the planet, even thriving in our Tar Heel red clay. Cultivated in the Middle East and India for millennia, the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians knew all about okra. The first mention of it in the New World was in 1619. Thomas Jefferson suggested snapping it from the plant rather than snipping it. My wife, Anne, cooks it to perfection, butter-frying the tiniest, just-picked pods in an a blistering-hot cast-iron pan.

So what’s not to like? “Okra is often spurned because of the gluey, even slimy texture it can present,” one food writer opines. C’mon. Let’s get it out there: Okra can be gooey, gloppy, gloopy, gummy and my favorite description, mucilaginous. But that’s only if you don’t have a clue about what you’re doing. Pick it small. And one British writer advises to treat it like the Mogwai in Gremlins films: “If you want it to stay cute, don’t get it wet.” Pat or brush it to remove dirt, just as you do with mushrooms. Cook it whole; frying it helps. “One way to de-slime okra is to cook it with an acidic food, such as tomatoes,” suggests one cook. And it’s good for you, lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels, boosting your immune response and improving your gut health. Unless it doesn’t: “Okra contains fructans,” cautions another online source, saying okra can cause diarrhea, gas, cramping, bloating and a lingering onset of death — or maybe that was something else. Maybe my Northern friends are right; after all, okra is in the same family as cotton, hibiscus, musk mallow and even the notorious durian. But as you’re reading this, I very well might be whipping flour into a pan of smoking oil to make a roux à la Paul Prudhomme for some shrimp gumbo Ya-Ya.

And running through my mind will be a jingle from humorist Roy Blount: “You can have your strip pokra/ Give me a nice girl and a dish of okra.”    David Claude Bailey


Happy Trails

Just completed and opened by the Piedmont Land Conservancy in May, the main Caraway Forks Trail at Caraway Creek Preserve wanders through massive oaks and towering hickories to a historical artifact, a massive stone “check” dam dating back to the 19th century. Rather than forming an impoundment, check dams were built by farmers to slow down the flow of creeks and rivers during floods for silt retention and to protect their crops. Caraway Creek actually runs right under the dam to snake its way through shady bluffs and beetling ravines. Visit piedmontland.org.


Calling All O.Henry Essayists

Several years ago, readers responded enthusiastically to a contest challenging them to write an essay entitled “My Life in a Thousand Words.” Last year, we revived our challenge with a theme of “The Year That Changed Everything.” And this year, in honor of our namesake, who was known as one of America’s most popular  — and highest-paid during his time — short story writers, we’re thrilled to announce that the 2023 O.Henry Essay Contest is all about “The Kindness of Strangers.”

We’ve all had a moment in our lives when someone we didn’t know stopped without hesitation to lend a hand.

When our family was new to a small, rural Maryland town, my daughter, Emmy, 4 at the time, took a dance class in a home basement studio up a bit on South Mountain, where we rarely saw human life, but did see bears. Unbeknownst to me, I’d accidentally left the overhead interior light on in my car when I parked, which became all too obvious when we left class at 8 p.m. on a cold, starlit October night. My husband, Chris, was out of town and there was no one I knew to call. I didn’t have any friends yet. A father of a fellow dancer saw my distress and drove us home. That was 12 years ago.

And now, we want to hear your story — whether you were on the receiving or giving end of that helping hand.

Of course, there are some rules:

  • Submit no more than 1,000 words in conventional printed form. Essays over 1,000 will be shredded and used in our office hamster’s cage.
  • Deadline to enter is December 24, 2023.
  • Top three winners will be contacted via email and will be printed in a spring 2024 issue.
  • Email entries to cassie@ohenrymag.com

We can’t wait to hear the clickety-clack of keyboards across the Triad as you write your stories — stories that are sure to remind us of all the goodness that exists in the world.

— By Cassie Bustamante, editor


Growing Goodwill

Survey four of the Triad’s youngest residents and one of them will tell you they face food insecurity. Share the Harvest board president Linda Anderson, a retired educator, does her best to improve that grim statistic. Sometimes, she says, it’s as simple as grabbing a hoe or driving a truck.

“There are times during the growing season when our gardens are overflowing with vegetables and we don’t know what to do with the excess. This is when Share the Harvest can help both the gardener and the individuals in need,” says Anderson.

Anderson says donations have grown since 2012 from a few community and church gardens donating food to local nonprofits into an expanding program benefitting organizations, collecting and distributing food to the needy via various programs offering meals and food pantries. For its 10 core volunteers, the need has motivated them to collect, coordinate and distribute donations from groceries, restaurants, gardens, farmers markets and even N.C. State A&T University’s farm.

From May through October, the growing season, they collect, aggregate, then store fresh products at a central collection site for distribution.

“In the beginning, the first year, we had 1,200 pounds of veggies. Last year it was 15,241 pounds received.” See sharetheharvestguilfordcounty.org for more information.      By Cynthia Adams

 

Sazerac August 2023

Sazerac August 2023

Unsolicited Advice

Three words parents dream of — and kids dread all summer long — will finally be right on the tips of our tongues: back to school. That’s right, peeps. Sharpen those No. 2 pencils — wait, do schools even use pencils anymore? To help you and your kiddos prepare, we’re sharing our top five takes on The Princeton Review’s list of study tips, with, of course, helpful bonus remarks from us.

  1. You don’t need just ONE study space. PR goes on to suggest that, in addition to a dedicated desk, you hit up libraries, coffee shops and even use your own kitchen table. Your homework is the perfect size to double as a placemat.
  2. School supplies (alone) don’t make you organized. That’s right, Lisa Frank school supplies alone make you organized. That’s more like it.
  3. Use class time wisely. The teacher’s done lecturing and you’ve got 10 minutes till the bell? Trim your toenails or floss your teeth. Take care of all those menial tasks that cut into your after-school video-game time.
  4. Make a friend in every class. This strategy will ensure that you’ll have your pick of weekend parties.
  5. Don’t let a bad grade keep you down. After all, GPA stands for got plenty a-time.

Just One Thing

When his uncle introduced him to comic books as a child, 22-year-old Zaire Miles-Moultrie discovered the world of creative arts, often sketching his own strips. But then he realized “that it is possible to have a very fulfilling and successful career and life within the arts as an artist,” thanks to his UNCG professors-turned-mentors, Jennifer Reis, Christopher Thomas and Barbara Thomas. Now, Miles-Moultrie creates much of his art through digital collaging, which incorporates his own sketches and drawings plus contemporary and historical images. Created this year, Love and Folly is inspired by the fairytale of the same name “which tells the story of how folly (the lack of good sense; foolishness) became the guide to what we know as love,” he writes. “I really wanted to make a piece that captured the essence of that story but with a very meaningful twist.” And what is that twist? “It’s OK to embrace the silliness and foolishness of love, life and ideas. Even though we live in a crazy and sometimes downright negative world, the craziest but most compassionate thing we can do is love.” Miles-Moultrie’s work is on display through August 31 as part of Transform GSO’s “Warmth of Conversation” exhibit at 111 Bain Street. Info: thatzaire.art.


Sage Gardener

Standing in line at a family reunion years ago, my dad gave me this sage advice: “Son, always get your pickles and pie first before the good ones get gone.” I grew up in a pickle-centric household with a Lutheran mom from Pennsylvania-Dutch country and a Moravian dad raised on a farm near Madison: watermelon rind pickles at Christmas; bread-and-butter as soon as the cucumbers came in; garlicky dills brining in a crock, with an aroma that hit you at the front door; mason jars chattering away on the stove in a blue-speckled canner; and the sharp bite of cayenne peppers in spicy okra pickles throughout the year. Anne, my wife, has joined me in my vinegary obsession, adding some of her mom’s less-familiar, refrigerated concoctions from the South Carolina low country: seven-day beach slaw, Zellwood sweet-corn relish, candied sauerkraut and Friendship brandied fruit-cocktail compote. Can you say Cackalacky? ’Tis the season, though: cucumbers coming in by the bushel, green peppers waiting to be stuffed with cabbage, green tomatoes galore, and, for those really pickle-obsessed, pickled zucchinis or pickled pumpkin, neither of which I recommend. Squashed dreams. What I do recommend is a savory delight my late aunt’s husband, Ab, made — what we call Rachel pickles. Ab pickles just doesn’t sound right. Anne makes them for me as an act of love since it takes brining and boiling and draining and using alum at intervals of two days, nine days and four days. As the garden winds down, I find myself making Korean kimchi, cowboy candy (candied jalapeños) and, of course, chow chow, aka piccalilli or Indian relish. Anne usually pickles figs, pears and peaches, and has been known to put up garlic scapes, Jerusalem artichokes, green beans, cornichons and crab apples. She draws the line at Brenda’s sweet freezer pickles, made in an ice tray and highlighted in her grandmother’s Gopher Hill Festival Community Cookbook. No big dill, I’m hiding the ice trays. — David Claude Bailey


Window to the Past

Photograph © Carol W. Martin/Greensboro History Museum Collection

Always best to pair your safety patrol sash with a Hawaiian shirt so fellow students know you’re serious, but also fun and approachable. (Aycock Junior High, now Swann Middle School, renamed for educational leader Melvin Swann, 1950)


The Write Stuff

Local mother-daughter duo Carol Lucas and Anne Pace have teamed up to create a children’s book, Bingo the Flamingo. Pace, a former kindergarten teacher who received her Bachelor’s degree in elementary education from UNC-Chapel Hill and her Master’s degree in reading education from the University of Virginia, says she was inspired to write Bingo’s story after taking her children to the Greensboro Science Center. She noticed one flamingo, a handsome bird who “was squawking, grunting and flapping her wings.” She and her kids decided that particular bird was probably just bored and “yearned for an adventure . . . and Bingo’s story was born!” While Lucas has no formal training, she’s “always been a gifted artist,” according to her daughter, who recalls the hand-drawn birthday invitations her friends still talk about to this day. So . . . Pace wrote the book and her mother provided the vibrant illustrations. Has Bingo’s wanderlust been put to rest in this book? Oh, no, says Pace. “Bingo has more adventures in store and we’re excited to publish another book.” Locally, Bingo the Flamingo can be found at Polliwogs and Carolyn Todd’s, or through Barnes & Noble, Amazon and bingotheflamingobook.com.

Sazerac July 2023

Sazerac July 2023

Stay Cool List

The Dog Days of summer are upon us, but don’t sweat it. We’ve got some ideas to help you keep your chill.

  1. Enjoy breakfast al fresco before the temperature peaks. Our choice: driveway-fried eggs with hot sauce. Those little black specks? Seasoning.
  2. Looking for some old school fun? Forget rollerblades. It’s all about fan blades this year. Sit in front of an old-fashioned floor fan and talk directly into it and listen to the magic happen. Even AI sounds more human than you!
  3. Go skinny-dipping. Don’t have a pool? Your neighbors won’t mind, especially if they’re not home.
  4. Tackle that summer reading list. We suggest something hot and steamy. You know, just like the weather.
  5. Finally, email that friend from middle school who signed your yearbook with “Stay cool” to let them know you did, in fact, do just that.
 

Sage Gardener

Walk past my friend Evan’s house, where the lawns are all but manicured, and you’ll likely do a double take. Beneath the dappled shadows of majestic oaks, his yard is decidedly unkempt, almost wild, but with something clearly intentional going on. Over there, punctuating what most people see as weeds — including joe pye weed, a rainbow of other wildflowers and dandelions — an endangered Schweinitz’s sunflower (purchased, not plucked) is thriving. And, look, there’s a plum tree — and figs ripe for picking nearby, flanked by blueberries, blackberries and elderberries. My friend’s a permaculturist, going on his sixth year of transforming his yard into something akin to a small botanical garden. Like more than 3 million people in 140 countries, Evan is managing his land in a supportable, nondestructive manner, in order (according to him and the Encyclopedia Britannica) to mimic patterns found in surrounding natural ecosystems while reducing waste, preventing pollution, protecting wildlife and improving the land’s biodiversity. “If something doesn’t flourish, maybe it’s telling me it doesn’t want to grow under the conditions in my yard,” he tells me. Among his nonstarters are miner’s lettuce, pine nut seeds, ramps, borage and garlic from seeds. “I’m trying to figure out what this natural system wants to do that can also benefit us, without changing the way that the system works.” Although it may look like it’s a no-sweat proposition, Evan has toted — quite literally — tons of mulch to create meandering pathways around his yard. Building berms from fallen logs and plant debris, he’s created “hugelkultur” mounds, the organic equivalent of raised beds. He spends hours in his vegetable garden, but, if something languishes, he just plucks it up and replaces it with something that flourishes. “Permaculture can take the fear of failure and shame out of gardening,” he says. “Experiment and learn. Make sure it’s fun. And remember, nature is messy.” Which sounds to me like a pretty good maxim for navigating the rest of the world.       David Claude Bailey


Window to the Past

Photograph © Carol W. Martin/Greensboro History Museum Collection

Surrounded by washtubs brimming over with boiled eggs, this crew of five Cone Mills workers preparing for the 1915 annual Fourth of July company picnic might just be wondering whether attendees really want that much egg salad. May we suggest an epic game of egg toss?


Just One Thing

The Yawning Grave, by Gadisse Lee. 2018. Archival Inkjet Print. 15 × 15 in.

“I was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,” writes Gadisse Lee, who got her B.F.A. from UNCG in 2022. “At 6 years old, I lost my birth mother and brother, and one year later my father died of tuberculosis. My sister and I were sent to an orphanage, and eventually adopted and flown to North Carolina. Through my photographs, I grapple with ideas of loss, isolation, displacement, loneliness and survival.” Lee’s photos will be featured at GreenHill beginning July 22 in Living in the Ordinary World, a retrospective covering the work of photographer John Rosenthal over the last 40 years. Lee’s photos are among those of 10 photographers whose work Rosenthal, a Chapel Hill-based photographer and essayist, chose to have showcased along with his own work. Rosenthal’s photos will include early black-and-white images of New York City, his renowned series on Hurricane Katrina and more recent color photographs of coastal landscapes. Of Lee’s work, GreenHill Curator Edie Carpenter says simply, “Gadisse Lee is an incredibly talented young photographer,” but her work speaks for itself. Info: greenhillnc.org

 

Sazerac June 2023

Sazerac June 2023

Unsolicited Advice

In 2019, Omaha Steaks conducted a survey in an effort to finally reveal what it is that Dad really wants this Father’s Day. The results shared in the New York Post are eye-opening. We thought we’d use them to create some helpful suggestions that will make his day an absolute dream come true.

The number one gift Dad wants? A phone call from a child. C’mon, Dad. You know we don’t use our phones for actual conversations and genuine human interaction these days. LOL. Won’t a text suffice? We’ll even make it more personal by adding a GIF.

Coming in second is a big, juicy steak. Due to environmental concerns, we’ll be making our dad a cauliflower “steak” that, when doused in enough seasonings, is sure to hit the spot. And give him gas. Hmmm, on second thought, make it a portabello.

Three out of four dads prefer an experience over a gift. May we suggest scheduling that colonoscopy dear old dad’s just about due for? And kudos to Dad number four, who isn’t ashamed to admit he likes being showered in prezzies.

Put down the “World’s Best Dad” mug STAT. As it turns out, 64 percent of fathers specifically don’t want anything with that moniker printed on it. Noted. *Adds “World’s Most Mediocre Dad” T-shirt to cart.

Looking for more insight? Check here: nypost.com/2019/06/10/what-dads-actually-want-for-fathers-day


Just One Thing

Juneteenth GSO has grown into a full-fledged four-day affair, “celebrating the culture” with events such as the Black Food Truck Festival and Gospel Superfest (facebook.com/JuneteenthGSOFest). Feast your eyes on artwork and handmade goods crafted by local Black artisans at the inaugural Uptown Juneteenth Arts & Crafts Festival from noon until 6 p.m. at Sternberger Park, north of World War Memorial Stadium. Local artist Caprice Baynes will be on site with an array of original works. Baynes, 37, grew up sketching clothing designs as a child wanting to be a fashion designer. After earning a degree in advertising and graphic design from Alamance Community College in Burlington, she picked up a brush in 2010 and taught herself to paint. The resulting work, Blasian, is a fusion of fashion, graphic design, acrylic paint and, more recently, mixed media. It all blends together various cultures as seen in much of her work. Of the painting pictured here, she says, “I love Asian inspired art and fashion and I infused it with my own culture.” Baynes’ work can be found at Danny’s Restaurant, Demhaj Poetry Lounge in High Point, downtown Burlington’s 4th Friday Live Art Walks and, of course — you gotta go — at the Uptown Juneteenth Arts & Crafts Festival.


Sage Gardener

My tomatoes are in the ground and the race is on against my two next door neighbors as to who’s going to put the first ripe one on Facebook. We’ve joined something like 18.6 million other backyard gardeners, more of them (86 percent) growing tomatoes than any other vegetable. And yes, I know that “Botanically speaking, tomatoes are fruits because they develop from an ovary.” That from The Tomato Book by Sheila Buff, who also observes, “Almost all cultivated tomatoes [are] self-pollinating, since pollen from the plant’s own anthers can reach the ovary.” Which is way too much information on tomato sex for me. And this, from folks at ScottsMiracle-Gro: The average return on a vegetable-garden investment is 757 percent. (After the first year start-up cost, they say.) I tell this to Anne, who started ordering tomato-enhancing fertilizers and sprays in January. She reminds me that Bill Alexander did a cost-benefit analysis, from Havahart traps to Velcro tomato ties, on how much each of his tomatoes costs him. He’s the author of The $64 Tomato. Bill lives in the Hudson River Valley, where deer fences, we decide, must be way cheaper than here. “Here’s a guy on thegardeningdad.com who identifies The 10 Best Tomatoes to Grow in N.C.,” I holler across the room to Anne. “Roma is No. 1, Brandywine is No. 2,” I tell her. “And he says that Brandywine is the hardiest, tastiest and easiest to grow of all heirloom tomatoes.” Her keyboard clicks: “Did you notice that he’s from Ohio?” I did not. I let her know that NCSU’s various extension agents flog disease resistant hybrids such as Whopper and Better Boy, but concede that German Johnson, Homestead and Mr. Stripey are heirloom varieties that stand up to North Carolina’s long, hot summers. Anne? She plants a dozen varieties, hoping she’ll get two or three that will thrive in spite of drought or too much rain or damp-off or early blight or wilt or tobacco mosaic virus or blossom-end rot or bacterial cankers. And one or two always do. But why am I bothering? I’ve labeled Anne the tomato police: “Dig that hole deeper so I can break off a few stems.” “Three feet apart.” “Never grow them in the same place twice.” “They need suckering.” “Not too much fertilizer or you’ll have all growth and no tomatoes.” After decades of arguing, I’ve become her designated yard boy and just say, “Yes m’am,” doing exactly what she says.     


Window to the Past

Photograph © Carol W. Martin/Greensboro History Museum Collection

A little birdie told us that the 1947 U.S. Women’s Open was held at Starmount Forest Country Club. Above, two golfers prepare to par-tee.


Everything Under the Sun

The things one mother remembers carrying while at the beach with a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old, aka a modern-day parent’s equivalent of “I carried a watermelon:”

The usual suspects: a sand covered paci, a handful of soggy goldfish that were for some reason spit into my hand, a half empty juice box that kept squirting me with its straw and a soaking wet swim diaper. All at once.

A decaying crab.

On one occasion, two wet beach towels, a cup of completely melted ice cream (flavor: “blue”), my infant daughter and a tiny white bird feather she picked up for her big brother, which was also blue by the time it reached him.

A just-purchased plush horse (“Horsey”) with a saltwater-soaked mane and sand-covered marble eyes, which silently ask me ”Why?”

A book, never opened.

My 4-year-old, extra long son, who is best carried by bending my body into a sideways C-shape while barely lifting his feet off the sand that was “freezing me, Mommy!” (He meant burning.)

A tiny, dime-sized pancake that he wanted to save.

A shell so sacred that it apparently had to be kept separate from all the other shells.

A rainbow Band-Aid — not ours — that my daughter would not stop playing with.

A beer, immediately knocked into the sand.

A sand-covered boogie board flying behind me like a kite while it knocked into innocent bystanders. If that was you, sorry!

A tiny human — my favorite carried treasure of all — with wild hair that smelled of sunscreen and sweat, and tasted, when kissed, like salt.    — Sarah Ross Thompson

Sazerac May 2023

Sazerac May 2023

Free Seeds! Can You Dig It? 

Long before the freestanding Little Seed Libraries began appearing in neighborhoods, public libraries were on the bandwagon, distributing seeds alongside books. 

Since 2018, Greensboro’s Glenwood Library has sponsored a free seed exchange and informational program. (Library patrons are encouraged to plant their seeds and resupply the library’s after harvesting their own — everything from marigolds to zinnias — and assorted vegetables.)

Now a neat hybrid called Little Seed Libraries has taken root. The free seeds and exchange program emulates the popular concept of neighborhood-based Little Free Libraries (now with 150,000 registered locations). 

On Parish Street in northwest Greensboro, a dark green box on a post, fetchingly embellished with Free Seeds, has resident Mallory Cutsor excitedly praising the idea on NextDoor, a social media site. Cutsor who lives nearby, checked out a generous variety of herb, flower and vegetable seeds free for the taking. (Seed exchanges are encouraged.) 

In early March, her 4-year-old son started the seeds they had selected, she says.

Among the offerings were snap peas, kale, lettuce, spinach, rocket and various herbs, plus hardy flowers such as zinnia, sunflowers and cosmos. The seed library was helpfully stocked with free planting calendars, offering planting tips and number of days to harvest. The Parish Street Little Seed Library is possibly Greensboro’s first. Only five years ago, there were an estimated 660 seed libraries in 48 states, the majority housed in universities, ecology programs and public libraries. Today’s estimates are far higher, rising in tandem with community gardens — as gardening surged among the pandemic home-bound.  The free seeds concept promotes urban gardening and aids pollinators — providing green scenes for neighborhoods everywhere.       Cynthia Adams


Window to the Past

Photograph © Greensboro History Museum

Mayor, Mayor, how does your garden grow? Former Mayor Paul Lindley (1877–1933) grew his garden in manicured rows featuring boxwoods, flowers and statuary.


Sage Gardener

The first time I was served edible flower buds was in an oh-so upscale, chichi Charlotte eatery that I was reviewing for our sister pub, Business North Carolina. “Nasturtiums,” my wife, Anne, said, spearing a bloom with a bit of lettuce from her salad and gobbling it down. I wrinkled my nose and said something like “Who eats flowers?” “You,” she shot back, “as in cauliflower and broccoli, not to mention the squash blossoms I stuff with cheese and deep-fat fry for you.” Shut my mouth — as usual. A former Latin teacher and something of a Medievalist, Anne entertained our table guests with how, for centuries, flowers have been used not just as garnishes, but candied and crystalized; infused, as in rosewater and vinegars; “and how about capers?” she added. “What would eggplant caponata be without flowers?” Then there are tisanes and various teas made with flowers, from chamomile to lemon balm. But back to the 21st century and your garden, which I trust is under way. Got pansies, violets, calendulas, lavender, hyssop, sage, borage, chives, cornflowers and thyme planted? (Ever used thyme flowers in your green-olive tapenade?) You might want to check out whatscookingamerica.net/edibleflowers for an exhaustive list of what plants and parts of plants you can eat — and some important cautionary notes on what to not eat if you have a will to live. Don’t have a garden? Other than artichokes in Italian spots, I don’t know of any chic boîtes featuring flowers with their haute cuisine. You might just have to settle for Outback’s blooming onions.    — David Claude Bailey


Just One Thing

“Our sculptures are inspired by the archaeology of great civilizations,” say the brothers Caviness — Bryan with a B.F.A. from NCSU and Brad with a B.F.A. from UNCG. From their studio in Browns Summit, they create — and then carefully break — replicas of pottery that are contemporary with the scenes they depict. “The shattered clay symbolizes the destruction of great sites,” they explain, like the ruins of the Erechtheion atop Athen’s Acropolis. Within a classic black-figured amphora seemingly ravaged by the ages, the pillared statues of the caryatids (or virgins) stare serenely out over Athens’ ancient cityscape. Their work, they hope, creates “a compelling contrast between beauty and brokenness” in hopes of sparking preservation and restoration. (Note to the British Museum: The lone caryatid that Lord Elgin looted and is in your collection would like to join her sisters in Greece.) The caryatid vase and a number of others — including depictions of Cordoba, Spain, the Karnak Temple, Egypt and the old city of Jerusalem — rotate in and out of Ambleside Gallery in downtown Greensboro. Info: amblesidearts.com.


Unsolicited Advice

Wondering what a mom wants, what a mom needs? Well, Christina, a genie in a bottle would be amazing, but we’ll settle for not getting rubbed the wrong way just for one day. And there is one way you can make that happen for your mom on this Mother’s Day. How would we know? Let’s just say we’re hoping the father of our children is reading this right now because it’s the only item on our list: a day at home alone.

And what would we do with a glorious day in our own house, all by our not-so-lonesome?

Sip morning coffee in silence. Do you hear that? Aaaah, neither do we.

Go to the bathroom whenever we want without any little fingers poking underneath the door, accompanied by whines of “Mommmmmy, are you almost done?”

Blast Whitney Houston while singing into a hairbrush and dancing around the halls like Hugh Grant in Love Actually.

Eat a nutritious midday meal at an enjoyable pace as opposed to wolfing down the discarded crusts of PB&J and calling it lunch.

Miss our kids. Dammit.